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Roger Barbee: The better way

Roger Barbee

My high school class has a “mini-reunion” each month. The class of 1964 is now, as Jimmy my classmate says, “Leveled out by life.” He means that we are now equal in ways we were not in the early days of the 60’s. I attend those first Tuesday meetings and enjoy the time with two dozen or so classmates and spouses. I also eagerly await out 55th reunion in a few weeks.


But it was not always so. As a man in my early 70s, I think of my earlier years often, but especially when I read my local papers. What I read is what you read: crime, guns, drugs, inequality, and pleas for governmental aid in areas of individual apartments to exit ramps for a sports complex. What I miss reading are accounts of personal responsibility and integrity and, well, grit.

An unintended consequence of our well-meaning programs spanning from individuals to huge corporations, a government-dependent attitude has sprouted and threatens to overtake us all. In today’s Charlotte Observer is a photograph of a person holding a sign reading, “Housing insecure.” I don’t know the person or the circumstances of the situation, but I do remember living in the back two rooms of a dilapidated house with my brother, two sisters, and mother while two older sisters lived with a friend of our mother’s. I know hunger and the want for the things that my schoolmates had.

My world then had the same opportunities of today’s culture. School was available as was work in the mill or elsewhere, and dark ways to earn quick money existed. But our mother demanded that we “get an education” and she modeled right living. She followed the words of the Preacher: “Better is little with righteousness than great revenues without right.”

It seems to me that, as a culture, we are lost. Desire now rules, but it is not a desire for righteousness, but a desire to satisfy self. And when we reach the dead-end that self-service always leads to, we cry for help, floundering in self-made misery. But even as we cry for help, we seek help at the wrong door.

Instead of self-reliance based on a higher power, we ask a secular god to provide. But that god is man-made, doomed to fail. Yet, there is a better way, one of righteous living, the one that will lead to joy and contentment.

Roger Barbee lives in Mooresville. Contact him at rogerbarbee@gmail.com

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