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Friday, May 26, 2006

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

our blessings

We are all guilty of it, I imagine. I know I am, despite my best efforts. Things donít go just our way. The world treats us mean.

Pretty soon you are whining, at least inwardly.

Whining to yourself is bad enough.

When the rest of the world has to listen, itís awful.

These days it seems to be the national pastime. Read a newspaper, watch the television news, listen to the radio reports - there is one recurring theme - whining.

As with most things in this world, it boils down to money.

Always, one group is whining about what they do not have and what some other group has.

The beauty of our democracy is that we can vote to fix such natural inequities.

Our federal and state governments spend most of their time figuring out how to take money from some people and give it to others - from government contractors building tanks to welfare queens.

Unfortunately, it appears, that there is never an end to the amount of money that must be transferred from one group to the next to make the whining stop.

So it was the other night. The news whined away. It had been a long week anyway and I was doing a bit of internal whining myself. As usual, the bills were too much and the bank account was too low.

Never mind the fact that compared to when mom and I were dirt poor, scraping through college and I was shooting squirrels off the hi-lines for the table, we are veritably rich.

There was a time not so long ago when an occasional hamburger and fries was a serious financial decision. Filling up the gas tank was timed with the arrival of paychecks.

The way inflation is going, we may be in the same straights soon, but for now, while filling up Momís Suburban makes me cry, it can be done.

Anyway, I sat down to our supper table in less than a buoyant mood. Not enough money, too many bills, and, as usual, an endless flow of whiner in the news.

We ate on the veranda at Chez Barstow that night - better known as the back porch.

It had cooled off to pleasant 85 degrees or so. Mom cooked so the food was good.

As I looked around my supper table I kicked myself mentally square in the pants for my less than appreciative mood.

Around my table were my wife and three beautiful, healthy daughters.

We were all well nourished, and have nearly all the teeth God gave us - Iím missing a few but thatís my own fault.

The evening was beautiful.

Our house is nearly watertight. Kept us warm all winter and will keep us relatively cool this summer.

On my table was a good meal. No one would walk away hungry.

I looked hard at the food on the table and it occurred to me that 99 percent of the kings in all of time never ate so well, even at a feast.

Before me was a good, if relatively inexpensive cut of beef, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic. There were two fresh vegetables from different parts of our world.

Tea all the way from China or wherever they grow tea sat in a pitcher full to the brim - and loaded with ice, something few kings could even imagine.

A fruit salad with fruits from halfway around the world sat in another bowl.

Most of us eat meat at least once a day in this country. One hundred years ago one of the big attractions to immigrants to America was that it was so rich that people ate meat here more than once each week.

More than once a week - think about that.

After supper we would sit down and read from several books - some childrenísí and some adult. One hundred fifty years ago, books were the possessions of the truly rich.

If I felt like killing a few brain cells I could turn on the television - instant entertainment. No court jesters for me.

Later on, I would tuck my children into good beds, and take a shower with a virtual unlimited supply of hot water and soap - an unheard of luxury 100 years ago and something few kings could have ever experienced.

When you get down to it, very few kings in history lived with so much luxury as even the poor of this country take for granted every day.

After reading a bit, I made the mistake of turning on the lobotomy box and flipping to the news. It is a bad habit I have not yet broken.

The whining was still going full force. Apparently nobody has enough of anything.

I turned it off and with no small touch of arrogance scoffed at the whiners who could not appreciate the many blessings they already possessed - blessings that kings could have only dreamed of in the recent past.

ďFools,Ē I thought.

Now, if I can just keep myself out of that same category.

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