Clearing my throat

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ever had something stuck in your craw?

I’ve heard that idiom all my life and I guess it has something to do with chickens or birds. That kind of animal needs help with the digestion of their food, something to grind up the food so that the stomach can handle it. I know that is not such a scientific explanation, but you know what I mean.

Every now and then, they may ingest a pebble that is too large and it gets stuck in their craws or crops, as it may be called. It’s irritating and has to be dislodged.

Email newsletter signup

We don’t have craws. We have throats, but sometimes we want to say something and we may have trouble saying it. We either don’t know how to say it in words or our physical throats may betray us. We try to beat around the bush in irritation or, in clearing our throats, someone might say, “You got something stuck in your craw? Go ahead and speak your mind.”

As the holidays were with us, I felt obliged to speak positively of the season. Many things happened that I let pass, thinking that, after the first of year, I would have the chance to speak my mind. A few things stuck in my craw and, today, I think I’ll clear my throat.

Like many, I am irritated and maybe even angry with the condition in which we find ourselves as a country. I say many because I hear frustration, doubt, confusion, resignation and many other emotions as I make simple conversation with a lot of you.

Like the waitress in the coffee shop in Auburn the day after Christmas, some say, “Don’t even get me started.” All I did was comment on what some Washington politician said. Inadvertently I opened a can of worms that clearly showed that I had gotten on her last nerve. I think many Americans, as we enter into a new year, are on their last nerve.

Our craws are full of gravel and we want to say a lot, but two things come to mind. Do we have anyone who is listening and, if we are heard, do they understand? And, what are we to say that doesn’t make us sound like we are old fogies? If you know what an old fogy is, sorry, you might be one!

It seems that all the concepts that made America strong and successful have been thrown out the window. It used to be that our country stood for hard work and responsible behavior. If there was an American dream, it began with getting an education, a job, working hard at that job, living within a normal set of rules, and persevering. Nothing happened overnight and success, in varying degrees, was dependent upon the individual.

Now, it seems that the saying that meant so much to us when John Kennedy spoke at his inauguration has been turned around. Remember what he said?

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

It sticks in my craw that too many people are holding their hands out for whatever this country may give them and have no thought about what they may contribute to the country.

It sticks in my craw that we have so many politicians who are willing to give, give, give and not expect anything in return.

It sticks in my craw when a law enforcement official in Atlanta is killed by someone who has been arrested 18 times and released 18 times. Or another one killed in Albany by someone who is out on probation even when the judge said, “he’ll be back.”

It sticks in my craw that the Republicans and Democrats in Washington would rather fight among themselves to get an upper hand for elections rather than working together to help the American people.

It sticks in my craw when we send our sons and daughters to foreign lands to fight a so-called war, yet, if they really try to fight to win, we criticize them.

It sticks in my craw that we can put “In God We Trust” on our money and even adopt it as the American motto (1956), yet our president says our motto is “out of many, one.” I can understand that, in giving a speech, one may use a certain literary license in phrases, but a motto is either known or not.

It sticks in my craw that we have spent trillions of dollars on eliminating poverty in our country, ever since the Great Society of the mid 1960s, but we have made the problem worse instead of better.

It sticks in my craw that a person can have four, five or more children by just as many fathers and the American people get stuck with the bill for everything. Everybody makes mistakes, but to make the same mistake four, five or six times tells me that someone doesn’t care.

It sticks in my craw that people who have worked hard all their lives and are now approaching the years when they should be able to rest are, instead, being treated as if they are problems.

It sticks in my craw that the kind of life I knew as a child growing up in security and stability is going to be the exception as we move into this century.

And finally, it sticks in my craw that we have let ourselves get into this kind of situation as a country.

I wish I could say, “Now I feel better having gotten all that off my chest.” I’ll feel a whole lot better when we begin to correct some of these things. I just don’t know how long that’s going to take. Or even if we can.