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Creating monsters     (01/09/2011)
By Janet Lewis Burns
 How often do we, because we’re human and tend to be wasteful and self-indulgent, take it for granted that there will always be ample stuff at our disposal – for whatever? Our nation has evolved from WW II,  when a frugal way of simple living was  to “make do, ” which has become, by leaps and bounds,  “to grossly overdo.” 

I’m well acquainted with the tendency to overdo everything!  Moderation isn’t in the agenda. It’s that “just one more dozen biscuits,”  you sent your disgusted hubby after “just in case,”  that was found moldy on the kitchen counter five days later.  You looked extremely attractive in last year’s Holiday outfit, worn only twice. The new, expensive dress, with its frills and glitter, even though it is a replica of the one Jennifer Hudson wore at some awards ceremony, just doesn’t impress anybody. 

It’s that extra thing you just had to buy to go with the present you already bought someone. You went overboard on Christmas decorations  - again! There were plenty of them in the attic, some still in their packages, never used. The lavish, brightly colored blown glass fish collection   for the end tables, that you just couldn’t live without, have been put in storage, along with the fancy China dinnerware and elegant, Martha Stewart  linen tablecloth and matching napkins -  after your third child was born.                 

I created a monster when I took on the self-appointed and tedious, yet exhilarating task of compiling a picture album dedicated to our brother Ronnie, who passed away  on October 7th, at the  age of 62. The project became an adventure, a memory walk through our family’s ancestry, legacies, and present heirs. I began with an empty, 48-page album and a card table spread with piles of photos from throughout the years. The monster evolved into a precious keepsake,  a Puff the Magic Dragon, so to speak.

With all this talk about overdoing it, a thought passed between my left  brain and skidded into the right brain. When have I last heard “The Golden Rule,” much less spoken it to a child, or anyone?  When I was a kid, the saying was not taboo in any circle, as I recall. It’s a conscience booster, and would make life a great deal less complicated. Think of those pre-nup agreements before wedding ceremonies. Throw out this brief, yet powerful little ditty: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  That’s huge! It’s in the Bible too! You can’t top that! Dream on!

In this young millennium, there seems to be a pattern of dishonesty that will, if not addressed, negatively alter moral standards for future generations to live by. When have you last thought of, or been guided by, the Golden Rule? The words, like many wise sentiments seem to have come from a distant planet.   

Buyer beware! A caveat!  The trend toward deception in marketing products is so commonplace that it’s become a way of doing business; people just expect sales strategies that are dishonest and, at the least, misleading.  Sad but true, a person doesn’t know who to believe or to trust. Here it is: lying has become accepted behavior. How can we let that happen?

Deceive me once, shame on you. Deceive me twice, shame on me. It seems that the honest and most dedicated souls among us can’t earn enough to make a decent living, don’t get elected to political offices, and struggle to compete with big business, which is more powerful year by year.

We may, with aging bodies, become dull of mind and forgetful, but past experiences are already a part of who we are, even though recollections have faded and vanished. Images remain  embedded in our minds, like negatives of photographs left hanging in a dark room, curled and forgotten.        

In the end, those who have lived by the Golden Rule will leave the cold, cruel world a bit brighter...a point of  light for eternity.


Janet Burns is happily retired. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com 


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