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Tuesday, 02 June 2015

Our Greatest Freedom is Thought, Exercise It

By Clifford Rothband

After coming home from Vietnam, I was reckless and like a lot of my contemporaries, thought we were physically invincible. At that time, I hadn't realized that we were brainwashed, if that is a description of the anger and excessive power we thought we had achieved in the military.

In my retired state, I have been told to reinvent myself, volunteer, get a job. I must have done everything I could accomplish in my vibrant years. Careers so varied and often so repetitive that at any lull in finances, I moved on.

Of late, I offer my services to those less fortunate than I. Are my wife and I the only grandparents to volunteer for the PTA, or PTSA [Parent Teachers Students Association? In today's world it seems that most parents don't have the time or the energy or willpower to raise children. The teachers are available only for a few hours a day.

I don't mean to stay on a kid's case. Since we all learn by our mistakes, give them room and guidance is all that I propose.

I happen to live on a lake and the kids show up to fish. I can offer advice in any form but I never criticize. There is no such a thing as good criticism or even constructive criticism. So I set an example.

My father grew up without a father. He spent a good portion of his childhood in a "reform school.” At the time, his schooling was administered by The Hebrew Asylum in Hawthorne, New York - his alma mater. Dad instilled in me that I never give up; keep moving. A military saying he also learned during World War II.

In my younger days, I volunteered – no, I gave some time to what are now called autistic kids. Not so much a rarity or spoken of at the time. Although not often recognized unless Down syndrome or severe social restrictive behavior was apparent.

Now getting back to me, I have been limping and using a cane off and on for the last 45 years. A wheelchair at times. I had to provide for my family so, pain or not, I got my butt into gear and I hustled.

I remember one time in the wheelchair I had my Dobie watchdog attached to pull me. He saw a cat and Wham! I am on the ground. Enough of that I said. Until walkers became popular, I used a shopping cart or walked a bike.

Now getting to my point orsubject again, I often speak with guys at the VA. Depression or failure enters their mind. They are tired of the pain and want to give up or throw the towel in. But if they have kids or grand kids or even those pain-in-the-butt neighbor kids, those kids they need us. Don't yell at them. Offer encouragement. There is always another day, another option. Open up your mind. Our greatest freedom is thought. Exercise it.

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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I agree with every word you wrote Clifford. BE the example!

Well said, Clifford. I like the rephrasing of donating time--or volunteering--to just "giving". So much more is given than just time when you invest in another human being.

I give time two days a week at a elementary school in my neighborhood....but I always feel I get more than I give. To influence a young mind in a positive way is so rewarding. I hope to continue as long as my mind and body stay agile enough.

For me, volunteering is what keeps me from becoming a recluse. With the cut backs in money for the arts, for schools and other organizations from Meals on Wheels to 'Senior Drivers' anyone who had some time and the basic ability to get around can help - give of themselves - somewhere in their community!

Good for you!
Elle in Oregon

I thank you for the different angle outlook and the encouragement I received.

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