Patriotism is not a subject that I have written much about, and it may surprise you that I do, as I fume over the faults of democracy in light of the government shutdown. Congress people are essentially government workers; why do they still get paid? I’m irked that they have feathered their own beds with elitist privilege while the masses and other government workers get nil. Yet, we, the voting public, are responsible for electing them, and we should be wise to demand a correction. What ever happened to the checks and balances system? We are out of balance, and it has become a farce thanks to permitting special interests to gain a foothold in politics. Where is the accountability?
Confucius had some insight and proposed a government administration designed on merit, as did Thomas Jefferson. Should we not reward people who uphold values of service, honesty, industry, loyalty, and integrity? These ideals are alive and well in the American public and in several corporations and non-profit entities.
As my brother-in-law, a retired international pilot just left after a month-plus long visit, he was so impressed by several experiences during his stay. These were contrasted, sadly, with the treatment he received from his own former foreign airline. It had been his dream for several years to own a particular model of a propane-fueled Weber grill. He had not visited us since his retirement as flight captain seventeen years prior. In his glory days, everyone practically genuflected to him, but now this is no more. For in many lands the concept of “wasta,” or clout, is the grease that makes things happen. No wasta? No chance, buddy!
To his frustration, since he is a retired pilot, some minion with a desk job first informed him that in order to receive his benefit of extra cargo allowance, he had to send a FAX with the company identification number of the flight captain assigned to his returning flight. An email would not be acceptable; and after tracking down the pilot, I made a trip to Office Depot and paid $3.00 for a FAX.
Then we were told that the pilot had to physically come to the cargo terminal, and we had to also physically be there within a half hour—during rush hour—in order to authorize the shipment of the grill. My husband and his brother raced through traffic just so the guy could then lie to their faces and make a new stipulation. They would have to ship the grill to New York from Chicago first in order for the airline to transport it. In the end, being such a fiasco, we decided to pack it ourselves with a shipping container as part of our export business.
Contrast this to the following experiences reported by my brother-in-law which make me feel grateful and proud to be American.
- When purchasing an expensive sweater at Macy’s, the cashier volunteered a coupon that saved him 50 percent.
- A sale price became available from a previous purchase at Carson’s, and he was given the refund and new sale price.
- He purchased numerous items for relatives at Target; JC Penney; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Walmart; and Banana Republic, and had no difficulty in returns and exchanges to please the needs of many people he shopped for during his visit.
- The Apple Store found that a broken iPhone he brought from a nephew—who purchased it from here when he was visiting last year—was twelve days over warranty. Apple honored it still and replaced the phone.
He ran numerous errands with me to all the major Chicagoland malls, post office, bank, grocery stores, and even to my husband’s doctor. We visited landmarks, museums, gardens, and restaurants, while juggling my kids’ needs and wound care for my father. Everyone was kind and very hospitable, a credit to our nation and those who serve.
At a time when we can be justifiably critical of some things in America, we also acknowledge that many of the American people are admirable.
Now, that my impromptu bed, breakfast, and tour service is wrapped up, I am eager to resume a large number of projects. I’m reminded, as my task list is long, of Lao-tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” God willing, I will produce works of merit that preserve values and promote excellence in Education here and abroad.