Tuesday, April 30, 2013

(Or the Stuff that Makes One Stick by Their Commitments)

          When I look through the news, and observe those around me, I notice that the majority of folks living in 2013 lack Moxie.
Moxie, an old fashioned term, is that terrier like quality that makes people stand by their word, irregardless of their own comfort or convenience.
Margaret Mitchell’s famous heroine called it “Gumption.”
To her there were few things in the world that could take the place of gumption.
In prior times, if a person’s word was no good, they were considered no good.
They would not be trusted by their peers. They had no credit among the merchants and no one wanted their children to marry into their family. They might be considered boot leggers or horse thieves, or just no account.
Of course, the Hollywood crowd changes spouses like socks, yet are admired by our society like American royalty.
We follow them in their lives and loves, allow them to politicize and mandate to us commoners exactly as to how we should live. They know more than we do, after all, they are rich and famous.
We have come through the “Me Generation,” the Y Generation,” and the philosophy of “If it makes ME happy, do it.”
I do not believe a life of 100% altruism is necessary, but when word is given, or responsibility laid, it should be taken seriously.
I believe there are many, many children in the United States today that have no family anchor.
They have no example of sticking to your commitments.
(Abuse, substance abuse and infidelity cannot be tolerated. These cases are not the examples I wish to show.)
My Grandparents married and started their adult life together on the precipice of the Crash of 29’.
They were farm raised and always said they never knew there was a Depression. They worked on their family’s farms and like most farmers in
the South, they were land poor and cash money short. The food was plentiful, as it was grown or husbanded on your farm.
They got by, like their peers, but stock market crashes and job losses just were not something of which rural Georgia had much experience.
Their lives consisted of labor, both in the fields and house, helping neighbors as necessary. Their tenacity for fixing, repairing and making do was the cornerstone of their existence. One did not buy new things, but saved what money you earned for a rainy day or the future.
Granted, we no longer live on the family farm, and life has become very hectic.
Few adults or children have the comfort of the home place anymore.
My maternal Grandparent’s house was our Homeplace.
These days, what I remember and long for the most is the comfort food.
I miss the dishes my Grandparents always had prepared for us when we would come back to the Homeplace.
We would gather there for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and any time we could.
However, it was not just a place to gather, it was a place to return, where you were always welcome. A place where you could go to lick your wounds when life threw all it had at you, letting blood and wreaking havoc on your well laid plans.
The house was a white, wooden, constructed from an ancient dog trot cabin and a section of a house that had survived a fire. These pieces were cobbled together into a five room house that my Grandparents purchased in the 1930’s.
To this end, they had worked and saved for the small house where their love and support resided.
We could always come home to them and rest.
The things they taught me were both by example and in stories of the past.
I remember my Grandfather walking with me through the woods and telling me stories of his Mother, who was an herbalist.
He pointed out things that looked like weeds to me. He patiently explained their uses and to which maladies they were best applied.
If we visited a steakhouse that decorated its walls with antique farm tools, he would point and explain the purpose and use of each one. I thought I wasn’t listening, but it sunk in and stayed with me.
My Grandmother taught more by example.
I watched her cook, learning how to make the favorites we all loved. I helped her wash dishes.
Dirty clothes went into the plastic laundry basket my Grandfather had repaired with a green limb and twine when the handle had cracked. After they were washed, she hung them on the line to dry. She had a dryer, but it cost electricity, so she rarely used it.
She ran the finances and a frugal household.
They weathered each other’s differences and often fought about silly matters, or did things just to be contrary to the other. They did not feel that such things constituted divorce. They realized commitment was a promise they made long ago. If it wasn’t always comfortable, it was just borne with stoicism.
When my Grandfather died in 1990, the beginning of the end came. Little by little my Grandmother needed more help and soon my Mother moved in with her.
The house was still there, but it was home no more.
There was no fresh cornbread or drop biscuits set on the table.
Breakfast was not being prepared when you walked sleepily into the kitchen. Family meals became extinct.
Without my Grandparents, the team was finished.
My immediate family did not last. There was little cooperation for the next generation.
The emotional hard times that were coming would find no refuge in the white house where love and support used to live.
The Great Recession and Crash of 2007 took my two businesses and great job.
The moxie I had learned from my Grandparents pushed me to get off of unemployment as soon as possible.
I took the first position I found.
It was alien to me, outside of my adult career, education and training.
Luckily, my early work history was in fast food. That coupled with my restaurant accounting experience landed a job as an assistant manager in a greasy fast food chain that enjoys local success in Georgia.
My co- workers were unlike any people I had ever met.
I cried daily after work due to the stress and verbal abuse from my demigod district manager, but I never gave up.
I did my best,  though at 46, the physical, dirty work was too hard for me with my health problems.
I would never have had the will to continue if I had not had the strength and conviction I had observed in my Grandparents. My family needed me to work.  I stayed for them. It was a living nightmare, but I could not give up and quit. I was not raised to be a quitter.
Through perseverance and over time, opportunities began to surface.
I  returned to my accounting career, a much more thankful and humble person.
I have heard people complain that they will not work for less. They are too experienced to start over, etc. Many are glad to hold out their hand for the government to support them.
(Where does this money come from anyway? You and I, we are the government.)
What makes one person better than the other that they should not stoop to work hard?
As a society, I feel that we have given up on the best qualities we once exhibited. (This is not meant to be a sweeping stereotype, those who do the right things know who they are and should not be offended.)

We do not want to work hard.
We do not want to stick to an uncomfortable commitment and raise our children.
We do not want to get involved in community.
We refuse to hold our leaders accountable for their actions.
We put no societal pressure on the immoral.

My Grandparents would be ashamed and outraged at society in 2013.
Yet, I like to hope that they would be proud to see the value of their example in me.
Their legacy remains in the person I am today.
So, my friends and fellow Americans, please I beg.
Reach down deep and see if any Moxie remains within your soul.
If you remember back far enough, you might find an example like my Grandparents.
These times we are having now require moxie, strength, faith and perseverance.
If the next generation is to thrive, we will have to clean up the mess we have made, trying to make ourselves momentarily happy.
We cannot sit idly by and let all that is great and good go down the drain from nothing but pure apathy and sloth.
The American society will have to find the gumption to stand for something.
Right now, we are falling, and we will not get up without MOXIE!

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