Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Remembering ‘Rhoda’ with Gratitude

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

Valerie Harper … living each day to the fullest

By Bob Gaydos

In March of 2013, I wrote a column contrasting two world views — one of hope, one of no hope. The source of hope was actress Valerie Harper, who had just revealed she was suffering from a rare form of brain cancer. The no-hope view came from the Republican Party, more specifically, the Conservative Political Action Caucus..

i went back to read the column after learning of Harper’s death a couple of days ago and was struck by two things:

— How right I was about the hopelesssness permeating the Republican world view.

— How wrong Harper was about the power of her own world view. She said at the time she had been told she probably had three months to live and spread her message of living life to the fullest. She carried on for more than six years. Plucky “Rhoda” to the end.

I’m not patting myself on the back for seeing the Republican Party for what it was six years ago,  but rather, I am depressed that so many of my flag-waving fellow Americans still seem to accept the utter lack of humanity at its core. I chose Valerie Harper’s message of hope six years ago. Still do. Else, what’s the point?

If you’re interested, the March, 2013 column follows. You might recognize some names (Palin, Trump). Either way, keep the faith.

 

Two Sides of the Same Coin

By Bob Gaydos

I’m standing at the corner of hope and no hope, wondering how people who grow up in the same country wind up on opposite sides of the street.

Let’s start with the no-hope crowd so that I can end on a positive note. The Conservative Political Action Caucus is holding its annual convention this week. The overriding question is: Does it really matter anymore? CPAC used to be the heart and soul of the Republican Party, conservative to the core. Today, CPAC is adamantly conservative to a fault and, in truth, as a party, Republicans have become heartless and bereft of any apparent soul. That may sound harsh, but there hasn’t been a single “moderate” Republican to step up and challenge the view for several years.

Quite simply, hope cannot exist in an atmosphere of anger, hatred, bigotry, religious extremism and plain stupidity that characterizes what passes for the GOP today and which has its origins in the increasingly ultra-restrictive membership of CPAC. The big tent that some Republicans used to like to talk about today is miniscule. It has no room for immigrants, blacks, Latinos, gays, the poor, the young, the middle class or women who insist on being equal citizens. Or of any disagreement with it.

That formula cost Republicans the presidency the last two elections. Does CPAC get it? Apparently not. It’s not even certain that CPAC cares. The speaker’s list for this year’s convention includes prominent and generous time slots for such as Sarah (the irrelevant) Palin, Donald (still waiting for the president’s birth certificate) Trump and former Florida congressman. Alan (hopelessly out-to-lunch) West.

It does not include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, widely regarded (by those outside of CPAC) as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. He made the apparently unforgivable mistake of thanking President Obama for federal aid in helping New Jersey recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Vetoing a marriage equality bill was apparently not enough to restore Christie’s conservative credentials, at least not for CPAC.

Gay Republican groups are barred from official CPAC proceedings, but not members who routinely spout anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant rhetoric. Florida Sen. Mark Rubio, the Great Latino hope of the GOP, gets but a token platform appearance. Thoroughly confusing the issues, more mainstream Republicans such as the failed presidential candidate, Mitt Romney and the next-in-line Bush, former Florida governor, Jeb, are invited, to the chagrin of many CPAC members.

Out of this hodgepodge of negativity, hostility and failure, it is expected that libertarian Republican Sen. Rand Paul will emerge as the winner of CPAC’s straw presidential poll. He will see it as vindication of libertarianism, which it is not. CPAC will probably view it as an anomaly. The thinking public will, one hopes, see it for what it is — the death knell of a once proud, but now hopeless, political party.

Which brings me to Valerie Harper, and hope.

Valerie Harper, the wisecracking Rhoda on the popular “Mary Tyler Moore Show” on TV, is dying. She has a rare type of terminal brain cancer. Her time is limited, her prognosis poor. Her spirit is indomitable and full of positive messages about living life.

Harper, 73, says she is not sitting home on the couch feeling sorry for herself. She is on a book tour, talking about the wonderful life she has lived, cognizant of the fact that, whatever pain and horrible things may lie ahead, “they’re ahead. They’re not now.”

“Keep your chin up and don’t go to the funeral, mine, or yours or your loved ones, until the day of the funeral, because then you miss the life you have left,” Harper says. The actress, who has also battled lung cancer, may have three months to live, she says, but her focus is on enjoying each day as it comes along, with gratitude for the days she has had. And, she also says she feels she has a “responsibility” to raise awareness for early testing for cancer.

So, with death staring her in the face, Valerie Harper chooses to focus on life, on being a useful, positive member of society. She wants to help people, to build a better community.

Meanwhile, with everything possible in this wonderful country of ours to live for and the potential to do something about improving our collective lot, the members of CPAC, who control the destiny of the Republican Party, choose to focus on who they don’t like, what they don’t want, what they can’t and won’t accept, what they refuse to believe. They see no future for things as they are so they seem intent on destroying what can be, if for no other reason than spite. I can see no hope for such people or their ideas.

For Valerie Harper, though, I feel an abiding love and gratitude christened with tears. She gives me hope.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

The Bobs Get Philosophical over Coffee

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

By Bob Gaydos

“Do you think there are a lot of dumb people in the world?” Ketchup Bob asked Writer Bob.

“Wow, good question.”

The two friends were having some oatmeal (Writer Bob) and coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, ruing the fact that neither had bought stock in the company since this store was swamped with people desperate for coffee and no electric power at home, thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

There was a follow-up question: “Would you rather be smart and worry about all the things there are to worry about in this world — war, bigotry, hatred, disease — or would you rather be dumb and happy in your ignorance?”

This one was easy for Writer Bob. “Smart, any day,” he said, hoping to sound humble, “because, to me at any rate, it means being aware of yourself and the world you live in. Being aware that you always have choices and they can ultimately produce either conflict or contentment. It also means you can recognize opportunities when they present themselves and choose to follow where they lead. Knowing that is an empowering feeling. It also can produce what we call happiness, I think. End of philosophical answer to down-to-earth question.”

“That awareness,” Ketchup Bob added, “can also be vital in deciding how you fit into society, what you can do to contribute to the world, what your gifts are, music or science or art, for example, and how to best use them.”

This conversation was already getting too deep for morning coffee and Writer Bob, so he changed the subject.

“How come some people act so much older than they are?” he asked. “They seem to relish just being old. They act like it’s all over and they’re just waiting for the inevitable. I was with a group of people the other day and someone remarked, as a joke, that at least he wasn’t as old as the guy sitting next to me. The guy was someone most people probably would describe as an old man, but I had a hunch. As we were leaving, I asked him how old he was. I was right. He was several years younger than me — and you. I’m not bragging, just wondering.”

“I don’t know,” said the youngish-looking Ketchup Bob, “maybe it’s a mindset, a lack of motivation. Some people just seem to give up, like they have nothing to live for, nothing to contribute, so they don‘t care about their health or how they look. People tell them that they‘re old, so they act how they think old should act.”

“Are we back to smart or dumb again?”

“I don’t know. It may be more about faith and hope.”

“And awareness. I think in order to carry on with a purpose in life you need to be aware that faith and hope aren’t just high-minded words. I’m not talking about a blind, follow-the-leader kind of faith, but something inside that tells you there is a reason for your being here and it’s not just to be miserable and use up the oxygen. That there is hope, as well as life, after 50.” (Give me a break; I’m not telling.)

“Well, if you believe that, then you will have motivation to live, to enjoy life each day you have and to be as vigorous and productive as you can for as long as possible.”

“So is that smart or dumb?”

“I’d say damn fortunate. See you next week.”

bob@zestoforange.com