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Hope for Days to Come

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

   I don’t know who first said it; perhaps it was the late radio newsman Paul Harvey. Whatever, it wasn’t dissected by WikiLeaks, a come-along lately “source” that sounds like a product “do-it-your-selfers” might use to repair automobile radiators in the comfort of their very own garages.

Anyways, Harvey occasionally used the admonition to encourage his millions of listeners from sea to shining sea. “In times like these, it is important to remember there have always been times like these.”

Today, though, such claimants would be way out on limbs to make such declarations. Never-before-faced situations now bubble to the top regularly, causing us to wonder how many “new” ones a body can take. Breaking news–bending and warping, even if it fails to break–keeps the pressure on, ratcheting humanity downward by discernible notches.

Now, the weirdness crowding ordinary days is horning in on Halloween.

Without getting into the rightness or wrongness of this annual observance, I want to add a “what if” to the season.

Remember the guy who said his luck is so bad, if he invested everything he had in pumpkins, they’d outlaw Halloween? What if he decided this year to invest all of his money in the company that manufactures clown suits for “trick-or-treaters?”

I admit probable enlightened self-interest. As we tippy-toed into retirement waters back in 2000, we couldn’t put away the longtime practice of giving away bagged popcorn. It had become a calling card, so we decided to offer popcorn for “trick-or-treaters.”

News got around–or, perhaps more likely, aromas got around—and growing throngs of people now line up down the block annually for what we used to call “nickel bags” of popcorn. Last year, to fill almost 600 bags, more than 100 pounds of corn were popped for the four-hour giveaway.

Recipients are largely children, mostly preschoolers and others in early grades. Accompanying them are parents, grandparents and other adults, most of whom like popcorn, too.

Last year, a youngster, maybe 5, “dressed to the 9s” in a little clown suit, asked: “Mr., do you know why cannibals don’t like to eat clowns?” It was an old joke, but the wide-eyed innocence of the questioner trumped popping, bagging and all else.

“You’ve got me on that,” I answered, hoping to avoid being nailed by someone with fact checker in hand.

“They taste funny,” the tyke said, laughing riotously. I joined him in laughter, as other hearers nearby applauded lightly.

   I doubt if there will be any youngsters in clown suits this year. Several jerks–probably seeking their 15 minutes of fame–are giving clowns a bad name.

These folks, some unwittingly, have joined a sordid list of people who are out to instill fear, hopeful of causing as many people as possible to abandon goodwill, seriously wondering if there have ever been times like these.

No matter what, though, we’ll hand out popcorn come Oct. 31, with no regard for costume choices.

   I am reminded of a long-ago story about a man who had ill-fitted dentures. His dentist advised the patient to bear up, and to seek diversions to get his mind off denture discomfort.

Heeding the advice, he decided to go boating. He was fishing in the middle of the lake when a speed boat whizzed by. An errant hook from the speeding boater pierced his ear, and he was dragged 50 yards before the speeding boat stopped.

The speedster apologized profusely, but was interrupted by the “victim,” who thanked him for the unexpected occurrence. “It was the first time in a month my mind has been off these blamed dentures,” he explained.

We are at that place, fearful of the future, confident there have never been days quite like these.

What to do?

For starters, let’s behave and believe that the same God who has intervened in the affairs of mankind throughout history is still in charge.

 

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.