Living in the Promised Land


Give us your tired and weak
And we will make them strong
Bring us your foreign songs
And we will sing along

Leave us your broken dreams
We’ll give them time to mend
There’s still a lot of love
Living in the Promiseland

Living in the Promiseland
Our dreams are made of steel
The prayer of every man
Is to know how freedom feels

There is a winding road
Across the shifting sand
And room for everyone
Living in the Promiseland

So they came from a distant isle
Nameless woman
Faithless child like a bad dream
Until there was no room at all
No place to run, and no place to fall

Give us our daily bread
We have no shoes to wear
No place to call our home
Only this cross to bear

We are the multitudes
Lend us a helping hand
Is there no love anymore
Living in the Promiseland

Living in the Promiseland
Our dreams are made of steel
The prayer of every man
Is to know how freedom feels

There is a winding road
Across the shifting sand
And room for everyone
Living in the Promiseland

I am, by nature an optimistic guy.  The glass is always half full — usually it’s fuller than that in my mind.  At least I think so — and I refuse to be dragged down by all the Debbie Downers who insist upon whining and complaining about how bad life is. I mean, geez, if you don’t like the way your life is going, change something.  And keep changing until you find something that works.  No one said it would be easy but unless you change something you’ll always get what you have right now.

All of which is why I find this election cycle so frustrating. How is it possible that the best on offer to this nation in terms of political choices are two or three individuals who’s most notable traits are their DIS-approval ratings?  I was there in the boom days of the 50’s and 60’s,  I lived through the Kennedy years,  and frankly I haven’t given up my optimism and there’s a big part of me that keeps looking for politicians and business people who actually have some kind of vision.

I was glad, Memorial Day evening, to watch the broadcast of the 2015 Library of Congress Gershwin Award celebration honoring Willie Nelson’s  lifetime of work.  He’s been a renegade, and a   scrapper his entire life; I like those kinds of people. His music has reminded us of the most poignant, and touching, and troublesome aspects of life in this country.  Back in the days when I was trucking I spent a lot of nights grooving to Willie’s tunes as I made my way cross-country.

That same evening I was out alone making my rounds in the campground.  Katy and Peg stayed in the coach while  I needed to get out and see people.  I hopped in the golf cart and made a slow trip through the campground; the rain had finally stopped; dripping from the trees had abated; people were once again out having active fun.

A younger-than-me couple flagged me down and started asking questions about volunteering. These 50-somethings looked at Peggy and my life here at the park as if we were the luckiest people on earth.  They started to share their ideas about their up-coming early retirement and it’s clear they’ve been bitten by the  wanderlust bug.  They’re eager to get out there and help others while enjoying this country.  volunteering is a real goal for then, not just something to envy..

Yep,  To some I’m living the dream life.  I know it.  I am thankful for our blessings every single day. This couple peppered me with questions for a long time.  My gamey leg was screaming by the time I got back into the cart and returned to the coach — but I knew I’d given them something to think about,  dreams to realize, and a little encouragement along the way.

Between the Willie Nelson tribute and their questions I was reminded — I have no idea how this connection was made, but it was — that the Bible reminds us that the poor are always among us.  And it’s true.  The world is filled with over-achievers, and with under-achievers, and with people in the middle.  Not all folks will take real threats seriously; not all will seize opportunities right in front of them. Some folks will always choose to be homeless at the same time many others are building mansions. Human experience is diverse and no matter how society tries to homogenize people there will always be those who reject artificial patterns and choose individuality.  Their choices may seem crazy, even offensive or inhumane but we do live in a ‘free’ society and they have a right to make those choices so long as their choice doesn’t interfere with the free choices of others.

So, yeah, I’m an aging white guy. And while I may not be as tuned into all the politically approved terminology I would guess I’ve been the benefactor of White Privilege.  I still get tight-jawed when I hear people claiming that they are down-trodden. In a nation where people arrive daily because this we give them the best opportunity to change their lives from what they had in their country of origin, to hear our own citizens whining about how bad things are doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I accept that there is such things as generational poverty but I still have a hard time understanding why people don’t work to change their lives.

Nor do I understand those so corrupt the idea that is America that they want to close the doors to the immigrants that make, and made, this country what it is.   When I look around and see countless people just like the complainers  — whatever their color, or gender, or issue — and I can see immigrants not all that much unlike the complainers who were successful and “made something of themselves”  I want to throw those complaints about how bad this country is right back in their face and say “maybe if you did something instead of complaining your life wouldn’t be so bad.”  I know that’s not a way to solve anything. Maybe I’m losing my patience.  I do know that back in the day when McDonalds was putting up its first stores one ever planned for flipping hamburgers at McDonalds to be a career.  That was something high school kids do to earn spending money.  If someone TODAY is looking at a minimum wage job as their life’s ambition then they learned nothing from our education system.

People from around the world risk everything they have, and all that they possess, to come to this country because we are an idea.  America is an IDEA.  — Other nations exist because of where they are.  The U.S. exits because it was founded on ideals and those ideals still mean something — even though nation has had a hard time living up to it’s own idealism, and continues to struggle today.

I chooseWhy it is that so many who live here can’t seem to grasp what that ideal is all about thoroughly befuddles me.  Today, I’m going to head out in our cart with a litter-picker, a plastic bucket, and a jug of water to douse fires. I’m going to spend a few hours doing menial work that I’ll enjoy doing — not because it’s fulfilling, not because it’s challenging — but because it’s there to be done, and by doing it I’ll make someone else’s life a little bit better. I’m going to do that now because I’ve enjoyed the blessings this nation offers all my life and to me, it’s time to give back.  Others can do what they choose.  They can be conspicuous consumers, or they can give back — but if they start whining you can be sure I’m going to turn down the volume and listen to something else rather than their complaints.

120272776
Camping back then was tough, and everything weighed a ton.

There will always be negative thinking and negative thinkers.  We don’t have to let them have ascendance over us.  In fact, we don’t have to listen to that nonsense at all.  I may not be able to change my choice of presidential candidates this year — but I sure as heck can still live my own life the way I know my life should be lived.  I’m still happy to live in this country.   And I still think this country is better than most any other place I can think of to live.

When I was young and our family went camping our gear weighed a ton. We didn’t have all that much, as a family, to begin with. We weren’t rich, dad was a blue collar worker, mom stayed home.  We didn’t buy the newest and greatest.  I went all the way through high school wearing an army fatigue jacket because I was a “husky” and couldn’t find a warm jacket that fit me right — and I got teased for that and a bunch of other things — but none of that made any difference to me.  I was who I was and I couldn’t change that, and I was fortunate to figure out early that what other people thought of me didn’t change me at all.

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It seemed we NEEDED a full size station wagon just to carry all our camping gear.

Today, we have campers arrive in little runt cars with tents that roll up into packages smaller than my old sleeping bag!  One of my fellow Boy Scouts had a sleeping bag made from an old moving blanket — when that got wet in a downpour once it too two of the adult leaders to lift the thing!  Today, life is easy by comparison.  Which makes it even harder for me to understand why so many people think they have it so bad!

It seems I’ve gotten wound up today.  But I really get confused about where the idealism has gone in this country.  Somehow it seems the only thing that matter is winning:  in politics, in sports, in business.  All these generations of sports people who have bought into the nonsense that “winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing”  need to have an attitude adjustment.  Life is not about winning. None of us will win at life:  we’ll all die — there’s no escaping our universal destiny.

Well, there you have it.  a few random thoughts on a day a few days removed from Memorial Day.  thanks for stopping, and I’ll be here again tomorrow. Why not stop by?

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4 Comments

  1. Are my musical references rubbing off on you, Peter? 😉 All kidding aside, great song, great artist and excellent topic for you to write about. We DO have it good as Americans. This ol’ world needs a lot more gratitude for our blessings and a lot less hatred for our perceived problems.

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  2. You reminded me that before we had sleeping bags we had bed rolls made up of blankets folded in half and tucked into one another. Yet, we didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything.

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    1. Well, in those days I’m not sure we WERE missing anything. There were no hi-tech camping products and a lot of us made do with what we had because we had not choice — it was that or stay at home.

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