WE'RE BETTER THAN THIS

It's time to speak out. All of us are responsible for the actions of our government because-in too many cases it’s shameful-we elected the folks who are supposedly representing us. Silence is equivalent to support and alliance with the terrible things that are occurring.  
Nearly 700 “illegal immigrants” were rounded up by ICE. Some of these folks have been in the country for more than 10 years. Perhaps they came to this country in an illegal fashion; perhaps they should have
been dealt with at that time. However, it is cruel to nab them in some kind of sting operation after they’ve been in this country for so long and have set down root, built lives, and begun families.  
Our government needs to rework the immigration policies and laws to better fit our world. Yet, it shouldn’t deport those who have been here for so long. The jobs they work are often ones that no one else wants. The characterization of them as criminals, rapists, and drug dealers comes from people who are trying to whip up fear and anger in an attempt to remain in a political office. Those beliefs are held by extremists who are racists and white nationalist, not Christian. 
Christians, by definition, are those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. That means they believe in his teaching. He told his followers, 
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” 
When they asked him when they had done those things, he replied, 
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” 
Don’t kill the messenger here. My intentions are not to deride anyone. I say these things because the fabric of our country is being ripped apart by the fear and anger being sewn by some. The truth is that we will never stop immigration, legal or illegal, from continuing. This country is founded by immigrants; only the native Indians can lay claim to the land.  
Yes, the government must develop a sound, logical, and sensible immigration policy. Yes, people should come into the USA legally. What we cannot allow is the government to terrorize families and separate parents from children. That crosses the line that separates decency and cruelty.  
From the point that new immigration laws are enacted, officials can quickly process each person to decide if he or she should be admitted. That is the fair way to deal with the situation. It removes politics and angry, scared people from the process. 
We are better than this. Our country has for years accepted immigrants. The words on the plague of the Statue of Liberty charge us with continuing better behavior than what we display now.  
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 
Each individual in this country should look at the words of Jesus and from the Statue of Liberty. Are we being true to them? How close or far from the do we fall? What should our next course of action be. The answers to these questions might well determine the kind of country the United States becomes.  

PUNISHMENT FOR LIARS

We’re living in a country where lines aren’t so easily drawn. Oh sure, the GOP and Democrats have staked their claims to sides of issues. But even in that case, the absolute truth doesn’t exist. Plenty of Republicans around the country don’t buy in to the president’s agenda nor do they agree with some of the moves he’s made. The same holds true for the other side; some presidential candidates are so far left that they’re nearly falling off the continuum, while others take a more moderate approach. Still, we should have some things set in stone, some rights and wrongs on which we can depend.  
My parents taught me not to lie. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t tell my share of them, but if and when I was caught, punishment was swiftly administered. On one occasion, a pair of my pajamas turned up with holes all over them. It seems that my twin brother had taken scissors and cut small pieces out of the top and bottom. I swore to Mother and Daddy that I hadn’t done it, but to no avail. I was spanked, “not for cutting holes but for lying about having done so.”  
My brothers and I tried to smoke as youngsters. We sneaked cigarettes from our parents’ packs or butts from the ashtray. One afternoon, Daddy called us into the kitchen and asked if we were smoking. Of course, we said “no,” but he already had discovered otherwise. He met us in the hall way and flogged us with his belt. He
was madder that we had lied to him than that we were doing something so stupid as smoking.  As a teen, I let a girlfriend drive my mother’s car during a date. It was no big deal, and nothing happened to the car. Mother was sitting in the kitchen when I arrived home that night. She asked how the evening went and if anything unusual happened. I replied “no,” and she demanded the keys. The she told me that she knew I’d let the girl drive the car. For two weeks, I was banned from using the car. Mother told me the punishment might have been lighter if I’d have “fessed up” about the girl. Come to find out, our insurance agent lived in the community and witnessed the girl’s driving.  
In college, I sometimes grew weary of attending boring classes. One was Western Civilization. Dr. Allen was the most boring instructor I’d encountered. My test scores were good, but I’d missed class on three occasions, all days I took my twin brother to the doctor following a severe knee injury he’d suffered in a game of touch football. During the final exam, Dr. Allen asked me why I’d missed class so many times. I tried to explain the situation to her, but she believed I was lying. Although my overall average for the course was a “B,” the woman gave me a “C” for the term. Just the suspicion of lying was met with penalties.
Now we have a president who lies constantly. By one count, he’s told 12,000 lies, an average of more than 10 a day. Lying seems to be a favorite pastime for elected officials. Instead of telling the truth and dealing with the consequences, our so-called leaders instead lie or reshape the truth. In either case, those lies come back to haunt them at some point because someone remembers them and points them out when a representative says something contradictory. Then, the walk-back begins, but it’s too late.  
We demand that our children tell the truth. We should expect the same from our leaders. The time has come to disallow any official to lie without punishment. From this point on, we must demand the truth from presidents and congressmen alike. If they fail to deliver it, then punishment should be as swift as it was when we were children. Impeaching them or voting them out of office is imperative. Otherwise, we aren’t teaching good lessons to the next generation. 

AT IT AGAIN

I looked at the clock and turned off the alarm before it rang at 6:15 a.m. My eyes saw every hour as it ticked through the night. After dragging myself from the bed, dressing, and grabbing some on-the-run breakfast, I left home for my first day at school. What's going on?” I thought. This must be some kind of nightmare from which I haven’t yet awakened.  
The fact is that once again I am participating in the education of Knox County’s youth. More precisely, this is the beginning of the fourth year of subbing. Hardin Valley Academy, Byington-Solway, and Karns High have been the places where I’ve spent most of my time. In fact, they feel like home and house some friends that work hard and occasionally supply me with work days.  
This is my 61st year of being in school in some capacity. If kindergarten had been for children other than rich kids, one more year could be added. From 1958, I’ve spent most of each year in a classroom, either as a 
student, teacher, or now, substitute. Few people stay associated with their chosen professions this long, and I understand why. At some point, energy levels tank, and “I don’t care” attitudes soar.  
The most vivid memory from that very first day of school was a dark one. Children were escorted from our classroom to the stage in the gym. There they received vaccinations. I had no idea if my records were in order and fretted most of the day that someone would come to take me away and stab me with a needle. To this day, nothing strikes fear into the hearts of youngsters like the threats of shots.  
Each new year of school brought anticipation for something new and concern for what was expected. Ball Camp Elementary housed students 1st-8th grades back then. So, new school fears didn’t hit until we became freshmen. My grandson Madden entered middle school this year, and he had the same jitters that most every young’un has. I advised him to keep his head down, keep quiet, and maintain a low profile the first term. Then he would know the ropes well enough to venture out. That’s the warning we got upon entering Karns High School. The threat of having to push a penny down the hall with our noses, being beaten up by an upperclassman, or being thrown into Beaver Creek kept us living in terror for at least a few weeks.  
Even teaching came with some discomfort. Herding several classes was demanding, especially if they were sprinkled with teens who wished to be anywhere. That added stress to making sure thmaterial was covered and students were prepared for the following year. The routine wore on me; never being allowed to leave the campus was inconvenient, and knowing exactly what was to come each day made life somewhat boring at times. Still, I am glad that I chose a teaching career and wouldn’t change if I could replay my life.  
These days, I sit in classes and make sure students don’t kill each other. They won’t work if they don’t want to, and I have no power to make them. My instructions are always to do the work or find something to keep from disturbing those who want to complete assignments. I further add that if they don’t want to work, there’s no need to worry; plenty always look for adult workers with no high schoool diploma who want careers in fast food. 
I’m tired, plain and simple. With any luck, this will be my final year of working. Then, I’ll rise when I wish, work if I want to, and go when and where I choose. I figure 60+ years of doing anything is long enough. I’m ready for some new challenges and adventures.  

SPECIAL PLACES

Last weekend, Amy, Dallas, and I traveled to Cookeville. She attended a luncheon with some high school classmates, and afterwards, we spent time at the Cookeville fair. It’s the kind of fair that brings back
memories to some of us when the TVA&I Fair was a fun, safe event. What was most special to me was riding around Cookeville and the campus of Tennessee Tech and sharing memories with my son. 
We first rode down Highway 70 to the County Farm Road. That’s where Amy and her parents lived back in 1973. I remember driving to her house that first time. Nerves were frayed, and they were still in bad shape when I met Papa and talked to Amy’s mother. By the end of the evening, I knew that Amy Alice Moore was the most spectacular girl I’d ever met. I made trips down that road and to that house a couple of thousand times over the years dating and then visiting with Amy and the children.  
After driving to see the new Academy Sports complex and looking at other new places, we drove to a corner lot on Scott Avenue. A large business office is near there now, but years ago, Parkview Methodist Church sat on the property. That is where my brothers, their wives, and I attended church, and so did Amy. We met there, and at first, neither of us was much impressed with the other. It was the badgering of the minister, Bill Menees, that led me to ask Amy out the first time. He must have had some kind of divine intervention to have pushed me to do so. We married in that church, but even though it was destroyed by fire several years ago, those good memories survived. 
We drove by the TTU baseball field and softball complex. Amy and I spent a fall afternoon walking where that
softball field is now located, and it was a time when I marveled at how lucky I was to have found someone so beautiful and kind to love. Friends all knew that with her, “I’d outkicked my coverage!” 
Dallas and I next drove to the student center on campus. A new upper deck has been added to the back of the building. We found rocking chairs there and sat for a spell. The parking lot in back has been replaced with sod, but I still recall more good things that occurred in that area. A couple of days after
our first date, I was leaving the student center and exited just as Amy’s PE class ran by. She passed me and waved. Her hair was in a bun, and her shorts and t-shirt were much different from the outfit she’d worn on our date. Still, she was gorgeous. 
Standing in the parking lot not much longer after that, Amy and I told each other how we felt. She doesn’t remember that occurring, but I sure do. Why wouldn’t I? There stood a wonderful girl who told me she loved me. How much luckier could a plain person like me be? I’ve never been more stunned, excited, or happy in my life.  
I could have taken Dallas to more special places to me for quite some time, but I didn’t want to bore him too much. Instead, we made a trip to Ralph’s Donuts, a must stop anytime a person travels to Cookeville. Before long, Amy called for us to pick her up from the restaurant. I looked at her when she got in the car and smiled at how lucky I was and still am nearly 45 years later. It was a good trip to Cookeville and down Memory Lane.