OPINION

The Idle American: With Will, there was always a way

DON NEWBURY

   Oh, that the inimitable Will Rogers were alive today. The need for his disarming smile and positive spirit helped Americans survive the Great Depression. He’d go a long way today in bringing people together as challenges mount, sometimes blotting out our better thoughts and kinder natures.

   Even Will might not know where to start. An introductory rope trick wouldn’t help.

Rogers

   I think he would still contend that all he knows is “just what he reads in the papers,” and is an “alibi for ignorance.” Today, he’d exclude a significant number of so-called newspapers, and who knows what he’d do with social media?...

*****

   Speculation is the best I can offer, but I’m pretty sure he would never claim that all he knows springs from computer screens, smart phones and virtually all politicians. (He might even call for term limits.)

   I’m in that crowd believing that most journalistic integrity resides largely in the hearts and minds of many newspapers, particularly the local ones.

Newbury

   I admit, however, that many social media platforms serve folks bent on squeezing every detail possible on many subjects. I’m satisfied to use it to keep up with friends and former students across a 40-year career in higher education, plus the bonuses posted for laughter or inspiration….

*****

   Successfully crediting social media sources is difficult indeed. Often, the best we can hope for is giving credit to whomever posts items, original or not.

   Following is a Facebook post by former WFAA-TV news anchor, Dr. John McCaa, who was to the Metroplex what Walter Cronkite was to the nation. He was a no-nonsense news personality, worthy of trust and admiration.

McCaa

   His humanity shone through with a winning smile, and these days, his posts clearly originate in the mind of a trusted news authority. Many of them elicit thigh-slapping laughter. Here’s a cartoon he posted under a dog photo: “After listening to his owner drone on for hours, Ralph decided he wasn’t cut out to be a support dog after all.”…

*****

  Gone are the days when friends greet us with, “Have you heard the joke about?” I don’t remember the last time a friend shared one. 

   What people say/do often are worthy of smiles. There’s little new under the sun. During my growing up years, sand laden with uranium was credited with curing many illnesses and diseases. Folks hurried to locales far and wide, eager to pay their money and take their chances, hoping to feel better for having sat in the storied sand. The best sand, many contended, was miles away, sometimes in contiguous states.

   And whatever happened to Aggie jokes? Some of them annoyed a few Texas A&M graduates who thought the jokes were “rotten to the corps.” Analysis of Mississippi State’s recent upset of the Aggies in football led to some responses that could easily become Aggie jokes….

*****

   One die-hard fan thinks the loss may be attributed to Coach Jimbo Fisher’s mental acuity being compromised because he recently received the COVID-19 vaccine. The poster incorrectly asserted that it is “well known that in some individuals, the vax causes increasing mental fog and confusion.”

   Not so, most studies suggest. Such lingering “brain fog” is evidenced in recovering COVID-19 patients.

   All I know is that the list of excuses used to justify athletic losses continues to grow, perhaps requiring so many pages, binding may be necessary….

*****

   The longer I live the more I realize that on my “know and don’t know” scales, the latter plummets quickly.

   This Thanksgiving, I am prayerfully thankful for much, including The Almighty for sparing my life, and for my family, defibrillators, stents and health care professionals. Comforting are memories of folks who made the world a better place. Some include Will Rogers, Dr. Billy Graham, Kate Smith (whose marvelous voice blessed America) and Dr. Dale Carnegie, whose book How to Win Friends and Influence People warrants reading and re-reading. Then this, a cartoon showing little girl at a bountiful luncheon featuring a plump turkey, asking: “Why can’t we be this thankful every day?”…

*****

   Dr. Newbury is a longtime university president who continues to speak and write. Contact him at 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury