A friend of mine who used to be with the State Police dropped by yesterday for a visit. He's an honest, honorable man who grew up going to church, respecting authority, listening to his parents, and doing what was right. And as we sat beneath the bead board patio on the side of my house and listened to the rain beat down on the meaty hosta leaves in my garden, his words took me back to a simpler, better time.
My friend started his career in law enforcement with the FBI, working alongside Andrew McCabe in an anti-terrorism capacity for Homeland Security. McCabe would go on to become the deputy director of the FBI before his firing this past January, hours before he was set to retire. The wheels on the bureau's bus had started to unravel. And now it appears they've de-railed completely.
I lost myself in his stories. About working for the feds. Then leading Pittsburgh's public safety department. Then the state police. We all know there's corruption in politics. Hearing of it firsthand shouldn't have been so amazing. But it was.
In the three hours we spent together, my friend and I concluded that America is struggling with a few rather sizable issues. The biggest, we decided, is morality. Our governor, mayor, police chiefs, district attorneys, representatives, school boards, hospitals, utilities... they operate to stay in power. To cash in. To play politics. Not to represent the people and do what's in our best interest. And the more they play the game, the more corrupt they become, rewarding each other with contracts, promoting one another, keeping silent about wrongdoing. Even our church is morally bankrupt, run by men who've turned faith into a business. Who expect the flock to cover its obscene legal bills cause by priests who felt they were above the cloth. They tell us the church is alive and pass the hat. But people are catching on. They've stopped going.
Where's the morality these days? How many people do you know with character and integrity? Who do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, not because it makes for a good photo op? How many people in your life do you really trust? If you've even written a will, you know the single most difficult decision is picking the person to raise your children should something tragic happen to you and your spouse. It's a sobering moment when you realize there's really only one person you could dream of caring for the most precious people in your life.
I guess that's why our circles get smaller the older we get. Our children grow up and their friends go separate ways. We realize the parents we'd spent so many years alongside at sporting events or school functions drift away and get busy in their own lives, and the circle shrinks. At the end of the day, I've learned life really is about quality. Not quantity. Have two or three people (aside from my husband) who I deeply love and trust is more than enough. Two or three people with impeccable character and impenetrable morality keep me plugging away when it seems like the world around me has lost its marbles.
For about a year now, I've enjoyed listening to the radio for about an hour each afternoon. I'd take a break from whatever I was doing and take Murphy for a long walk or lose myself in yard work. I'd catch up on the news of the day and listen in as callers shared their opinions. But I realize that I'm better off unplugged. I don't remember the last time my tuning in left me feeling good about my neighbors or my community. When I was uplifted. Inspired. Motivated. It seems there's an awful lot of sadness and anger our there. If I can't effect its change, I think I'm better off not knowing about it.
Now more than ever we need positivity and goodness! Right? We need to be reminded of all that is right instead of everything that's gone wrong. We need to surround ourselves with the few people we trust more than anything who love us the way they get us. We need to remember each day is a gift, hence its name, the present.
It's time for me to get back to work! The time is now to do something wonderful for someone else. The sun is shining and I'm taking one of my best friends out for her birthday lunch today. And as I drive out to Greensburg to pick her up, I'll open the sunroof and listen to the sound of the wind, not the radio. Parts of America may be suffering from a morality crisis, but the road I'm traveling will take me to a better place where character and kindness are king.