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I am writing today’s column because I received a story four times in the past month, which was supposed to be humorous. Each time the main character, who was the butt of the joke in the story, was changed. He was a Jewish man in one and a dumb blonde in the second. In the third one, he was Polish, and lastly, a redneck. What surprises me is not that I receive stories like this, but rather the people who send them—people who would swear that they are not prejudiced.
Maybe it is time for a checkup of our belief systems. Zoe Rankin wrote a very insightful poem, “The Cold Within,” in her book Messages to Anna. I ask that you put yourself in each of the situations and honestly decide if you would have added your stick to the fire—or would your prejudices have prevented it.
Six humans trapped by happenstance in bleak and bitter cold.Each one possessed a stick of wood, or so the story’s told. Their dying fire in need of logs, the first woman held hers back,
For on the faces around the fire she noticed one was black.
The next man looking across the way saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes; he gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned from the lazy poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood was a chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death’s still hands was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without; they died from the cold within.
Are you cold or are you warm? Each of us has a metaphorical bundle of sticks that we carry with us every day. Those sticks are called words and beliefs. How are you using them? Are you using them to beat up on some person or group of people, pushing someone else down so you will appear higher? Or are you using that bundle of sticks to build others up. Kind words and deeds will do more to warm our spirits and lift us up than almost any thing else that can be done to or for us.
As a child, I learned an old saying that went like this: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As I grew older, I learned that the wounds from sticks and stones heal and the pain goes away, but words can leave a hurt that never goes away. Maybe the phrase should read: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will devastate me.” Stay warm—and give your warmth to others.
Bill Hodges Hosts Television Program
Bill Hodges also hosts an interview-format television program, “Spotlight On Tampa Bay.” It airs Mondays at 8 p.m., Bright House cable channel 950 and Verizon cable channel 30. His guests for September 22 will be Florida State House Representative Faye Culp from District 57. She is vice chair of the House committee conservation and state lands. This program will be repeated on September 24 at 7:30 p.m. on channel 949.
Appearing on Monday, September 29, is Florida Senate District 16, Senator Charlie Justice. Senator Justice will, among other things, give us his thoughts on some of the ballot initiatives that will be presented in November. The program will be repeated on Wednesday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. on channel 949.
Bright House subscribers who cannot get the higher channels can get—at no installation fee and a monthly $1 fee—a box to allow access to the upper level government and educational channels. Call Bright House for details on the rental. If you are unhappy about having to pay extra to see your government in action, complain to your state representatives and the Hillsborough BOCC which have either caused this situation or been complicit in allowing it to continue.
Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and
syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars
International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.
Web site: http://www.BillHodges.com
Copyright 2008 Hodges Seminars International
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News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.
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