Star Light / Star Bright: Suzanne RossettiWhen a star in the universe burns out a "black hole" is formed. At the center of the black hole the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing - not even light - can escape. So it happened that when Suzanne Rossetti was murdered a black hole was created in our universe, and the glow of happiness and friendship that she shed on everyone and everything was trapped forever.
A black hole in space does not continuously suck planets, stars, and galaxies into its unimaginably dense mass. Rather, there is a quadrant around the point at the center, or the singularity, of the black hole called the event horizon. This area represents the point-of-no-return for anything that enters into it. For example, light rays beaming across it are bent and held by the intense gravity of the singularity. Family, friends, and acquaintances of Suzanne Rossetti lost parts of their human glow to her event horizon. Mental stability was thrown out of orbit. Dreams for present and future relationships were bent and crushed into indiscernible specks. For a long time the focus of many lives was redirected to a great void in the intergalactic realm called life. A dark sadness was forever attached to their identities.
After watching Louise Rossetti’s Windsor Park Story, "Running For My Life," I teetered on the edge of this cataclysmic implosion, peering in as I dwelled on the nature of my job where I deal on a regular daily basis with individuals willing, capable, and convicted of equal and greater atrocities.
From a very subjective standpoint I have discovered that we as a society should abandon our search for alien life forms in deep space, for they are already among us. And these deviant creatures are systematically destroying worlds as they did Suzanne Rossetti’s. After thinking a lot about the unimaginable grief and sense of loss experienced by all who knew Suzanne, I finally conceded it to be of incalculable, astronomical proportions.
I was startled from my somber meditations by a razor sharp sword of light whose origin was an obscure little garden (relatively speaking) right here on our planet Earth. It sliced through the event horizon and laid open the singularity of the black hole. Memories of Suzanne, her family experience, and better - no the best - times flooded the sky in a dazzling display of motherly love.
Louise Rossetti's eyes sparkle with passion and zest as she remembers how she and her husband raised their children the right way. Louise claims bragging rights to children who could mingle, who were comfortable in manner and behavior in the classy restaurant scenes - at a time when children were neither seen nor heard in such venues. They became unusually close by relating on a daily basis, listening to each other. They realized great pleasure in raising a son and two daughters who got along.
Was there a genetic trait passed down from her family of nine, where squabbles and ill will were dispensed with in short order?
I’m second oldest of seven children, and we get along so well some of our friends say we’re weird.
The Rossettis were a family who ate a meal together every day. So were we. Meals eaten together sans TV have a way of fostering conversation and creating bonds within families.
Peter and Louise Rossetti participated in and enjoyed every phase of Peter, Donna, and Suzanne’s lives - gymnastics, scouting, education, and jobs. They enjoyed vacations as times to discover new and exciting things not as times to reconnect or revitalize as many families do. They enjoyed Suzanne more in 26 years than many parents enjoy their children in a lifetime.
Suzanne "was a grand, wonderful girl" who grabbed at everything in life as it rocketed by and took everyone along for the ride to her new worlds, new adventures. All along Mom and Dad were there, to be sure to make her dreams possible, to be sure to know her friends, to be sure to be a part of her world.
The toughest, saddest job on Earth is a parent burying a child. Actually, God’s plan is meant to be the other way around - children burying their parents at the end of their long, fulfilling lives. So, when the unthinkable happens, when a child, or anyone for that matter, is taken from this world (especially under nefarious circumstances) the event ranks as the #1 calamity in all of creation.
The intensely bright, stabbing light that arcs from Windsor Park begins to flutter as Louise’s story turns grim. Tears refract the beaming memories back toward the horizon and her zest for life seems to ebb as the finality of Suzanne’s death erupts again like a supernova explosion. It must feel like the end of the world all over again, and again, and again.
The setting sun which sinks beyond the silhouette of Suzanne Rossetti takes with it a warmth and a light source which cannot be retrieved or changed. But in the creeping night, when Louise Rosetti cries for her Suzanne in the lonely darkness of her room, she knows she did an extraordinary job of raising her family. And she knows she needs to muster extraordinary strength to carry on for their sake.
There is a great lesson to be learned in Louise Rossetti’s Windsor Park Story - enjoy your children from the moment of their conception. Involve yourself in every part of their lives. Create memories as a family - memories that will sustain you in times of great sadness.
I hope and pray that Louise and her family and all who suffer similar earth-shattering catastrophes can look to the heavens and know that for every black hole that creates a blank space in our universe, there are billions of stars, twinkling as memories that cannot be contained by any force.
Auction: A Gift from AboveIn this Windsor Park Story, Sue Hand describes one of her journeys on the road of creativity. She skirts roadblocks of fear, distractions, and rejection on this trip toward the masterpiece watercolor painting, "Auction."
She stops at scenic overlooks to view the scenery of life and promises a destination that will be "unique and different," a painting that will honor those who represent the core of the Back Mountain Library Memorial Auction, the public, the bidders who supports the event and the institution with their dollars.
The Mass Communication curriculum at King's College, from where many people involved with Windsor Park Stories have their origins, embraces the concept of beginning a project with the end in mind. Sue learned in her college to visualize the end product of her imagination while the idea is still in the conception stage. So, many months before the auction, she formulated in her mind the direction and purpose of her trip.
She spent the winter months following the route so often traveled by successful artists, managers, and executives; visiting the job site, in this case the auction barn, organizing in her mind different views and perspectives, and brainstorming with colleagues, handing out ideas for review and improvement, always looking for the "unique and different" angle. Including others in this idea process that expands project idea possibilities to an infinite degree is the networking process so often touched upon in Windsor Park.
Besides the visualization and networking things, Sue experienced a process I remember reading and writing about a long time ago. The April 95 Readers Digest advised in A Prescription for Procrastination, "When you find a fence too difficult to climb, throw your hat over it. Then you'll have to figure out how to get over it [to retrieve your hat]." Sue's fence happens to be a fear of heights. She challenged this fear by simply obligating herself. "If you get the cherry picker, I'll go up in it."
Her wonderment about this visualization and creation process and how it helps her paint beautiful watercolors can be partly explained by another discipline pounded into students brains in the Mass Comm department that says something like, "One doesn't try, one does."
Sues first step of obligating herself, and then taking brush in hand "to do," forces open her mind and her imagination. The September 99 Catholic Digest printed an article that I found very relevant when discussing artists who must use their imaginations. It says, "To use the imagination is work. The life of the imagination doesn't arrive when we stop working and wait for it. Instead, it is specifically through our work that the imagination -- bullying, inquisitive, insistent, life-giving -- makes itself known."
Sue Hand is not an overnight success. She works very hard in transforming her imagination into paintings, teaching, and achieving goals in life she actually imagined as a child. At the early library auctions she would dream of offering a creation that two people would want to bid for. I am thinking here that her whole life hasn't been about trying but about doing.
The spirit of Sues trip, the actual painting of the auction, is sometimes detoured by the whirlwind of visual and auditory distractions that are inherent at any auction; the noise, the movement, the smells and tastes. She incorporates these diversions into her paint flow as the sensuality, the reality, the wonder of life as it revolves and intertwines with the whole auction process.
She raps with former students and appreciates current apprentices who offer timely tidbits of advice. Again the Catholic Digest notes, artists, like "good gardeners, are forced to use their imaginations, and imagination always performs best when it is pitted against restraint. Perfect freedom leaves the imagination listless, and so whatever is created is usually pretty listless, too . . . Only when a challenge presents itself does the imagination perk up, intrigued."
Thus, Sue Hand steps up to the challenge she has dared upon herself and creates a painting that moves with the items across the auction block, is alive with barn red and summer outfit colors, and is, maybe, appetizingly smelly from the funnel cake grease absorbed from her fingertips. From this writers perspective it seems one artists distraction may be another artists substance. Unfortunately to this author distractions spell doom.
Despite Sues great talent she remains humble, worrying that no one will bid on her painting. All artists fear rejection. Remember, most of the objects we create, whether they are paintings, writing, crafts, etc., we create from visions in our hearts and minds. These are very personal things that when exposed open our deepest feelings to scrutiny. Sure Sue is scared.
I'm scared no one is going to like this review. But she does her art and I do my writing anyway.
As would be expected of any subject interviewed in Windsor Park, Sue does not forget the fundamental building blocks of her talent - encouragement of her parents, family, friends, and the blessings from God. She packs these notions on every trip. She uses them for support, for fuel when the energy needle rests of E or a pothole of rejection throws her out of mental alignment. And she admits she can feel the hand of God assigning her the responsibility to use her talents to create beauty, teach others, and help the library auction. What a coincidence that she uses her imagination to help an institution that by its very nature fosters imagination through pictures and words.
More interestingly, and I hope I'm not unfairly or incorrectly exposing the symbolism of Sues work, with the gift given to her by God she has created a painting that looks down from above.
FROM SCRANTON TO AMERICAAt first glance Joe Peters seems like, excuse the expression, an ordinary Joe.
He's an attorney. How ordinary is that! Thousands are listed in the yellow pages.
He's Italian/Lebanese. Whole neighborhoods boast such lineage. Diversity makes up America.
He's divorced. Most unfortunate, but certainly not out of the ordinary.
He played basketball and marched in the high school band.
So how does Joe Peters rate to tell his story in Windsor Park. What makes him extraordinary?
Joe's story began ordinarily enough in a close knit family and neighborhood situation. The bond in this hood was such that Joe fondly remembers his parents and grandparents helping others in times of need. What a great example of caring, what a great childhood memory to recall - people in the neighborhood helping each other! Such experiences of yesteryear become extraordinary themselves when compared to the environs of the present.
Kinda makes you think of Windsor Park, doesn't it? You know, the effort by two people to restore and bolster the value of culture, tradition, and outer and inner beauty of a neighborhood - and a viewing audience. (I kinda think many voters remembered such kindness on Scranton's Mayoral Election Day too.) So anyway, these experiences represented a glowing forward to the Windsor Park Story of Joe Peters.
Joe's privileged son status let him witness the back room and dinner table strategies used to run a large city. He absorbed the techniques of dealing with social and political pressure, both negative and positive. Even the lumps he took as "the Mayor's Son" were incorporated into his ability to see people and their lives from many different perspectives including the slightly persecuted angle.
Luckily the extensive family and community support he enjoyed softened this unfair treatment. It's a fact that peer and social pressures are easier to resist when one needn't prove anything to be accepted and loved by a whole bunch of family and friends.
Joe's plain, old ordinary story is several chapters into becoming his Windsor Park Story. He's learned the importance of parental and family attention, neighborliness, civic duty and fairness.
I liked Joe's example of single instruments in a band combining melodies to form a symphony along with his analogy of teamwork on the basketball court. Athletes can quickly find success with a quality team if they learn the value of cooperation.
Joe learned as a police officer where the force is an extension of one's family, and through his early years as a prosecutor, that one may have to stake lives on successful teamwork. Then, his experience as a police officer opened his eyes to the worst and best in people and helps him realize, to this day, that indeed almost everybody deserves a second chance. Second chances may be a significant factor in Joe's overall scheme to fighting drug abuse and freeing bed space for violent criminals in America's overcrowded jails.
Many of his successes seem to have teamwork as a common denominator - his relationship with his family, neighbors, basketball teammates, band mates, police squad, colleagues, even the nondescript little push towards law school by his friends. Sounds a lot like the common Mussari and Windsor Park theme of networking, reaching out to embrace, complementing talents which then lifts all involved to a higher level.
Joe's assessment of our colossal drug problem is made with great common sense. Legalization is lunacy. Incarceration of low level users is a waste of precious resources. (Do I have to remind you I work at one of the overcrowded correctional facilities?) The only way out is to educate the young and old alike about the dangers of illicit drugs, treat those who stand a chance of recovery, and prosecute to the fullest extent those who push drugs throughout our society.
It seems with Joe Peters and his programs that our government is serious about ridding America of this scourge. And they are using the network approach. They're involving everybody and allowing people to be proactive in reshaping their own neighborhoods. They're isolating and wrapping resources around the problem areas. Can it be true they are trying not to politicize it?
Joe calls on his life experiences to build the connection between the people and their government, to administer a program America cannot afford to abandon or fail to implement to its fullest.
I'm not supposing he's an expert on individual cultures, he's just able to see situations from many points of view and he knows the value of real teamwork, of delegating communities to work together to solve problems just like his grandparents, parents, community, friends, colleagues, and he have been doing throughout his life.
He's been there, done that. He is comfortable interacting with the common folks because he never really stopped doing so even after he moved to Washington. The local sheriff, the boys club president, his pastor, his son, he gives them a stake in their own futures by enabling them to help themselves.
He's the overseer, the provider of tools and information. He's the great administrator who understands life and its dynamics, from cultural traditions to language barriers, from prosecuting killers to helping druggies who are killing themselves.
Citizens like Joe Peters see through the glitter and the gloom and recognize the individuals beneath it all.
Most importantly though, guys like Joe Peters don't forget the reasons they are so well rounded; good, loving parents and family, the familiar, friendly neighborhood, and God. Giving credit to the forces that shaped his life and using God-given talents to serve others makes Joe Peters extraordinary.
It doesn't close the book on his Windsor Park Story however. It just makes us thirst for the sequel.
Maybe Joe's son, who connects with his father on the weekly rides to Scranton, who observes from the hallowed halls of Washington, who meets and greets some of the VIPs of America, who still goes to church with his parents on a regular basis, will continue the Windsor Park Story that really is about an extraordinary family rather than just an extraordinary individual.
WINDSOR PARK TYPE POLITICSThe gist of Kevin Blaum's Windsor Park Story, Part 1, "Just a Kid From East End," reflects his love and commitment for his family. The essence of his Windsor Park Story, Part 2, "Arena Yes," reflects his love for the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania and his commitment to his job representing them in Harrisburg.
Contrary to the message being drummed into us by the mainstream media, personal life and public life are intertwined. I compare it to the regimen of any individual sports star or dynasty quality team, and I'm sure they'll agree, how you practice is how you'll play.
For Kevin Blaum, sharpening his diplomatic and leadership skills on the homefront, meaning being a good husband and father, while building a foundation on which his family can do well, complements and sharpens his political savvy where tact and leadership can be counted in jobs and economic solvency for his district.
Part 1 was so honest. I could tell by the ease and confidence with which he spoke about the hopes and fears for his children, the sadness and regrets of a friendship lost on the gridiron, that the thoughts came from his heart. And I was once again buoyed by the recurring theme of the Windsor Park experience which draws on the importance of parents working together to instill morality and values in their children.
I've spoken with several colleagues who know Kevin and all agree he was and is still idealistic, living for the chance to make a difference in the world, no matter the effort.
Leave it to the "Great Interrogator" who plies his skill in and around the disarming solitude and beauty of Windsor Park, to tap the aorta of a politician and let flow the intimate life blood. (There has to be some potion derived from the delicate petals and aromatic herbs that, when properly crushed and administered in the W P S amphitheater, causes emotion and truth to spill out.)
I was so intrigued that I accessed the Kevin Blaum website. There I found examples that he talks the talk and walks the walk. Numerous legislative efforts on his part speak volumes of his concern for children and families. (check it out, http://www.pahouse.net/blaum/index.htm)
I noticed how naturally he evolved into the suggestions of volunteerism and indeed of public service (notwithstanding the heat that's generated in that kitchen) that's necessary for any community to survive and thrive. It was noted that he does his part, that pushing the red and green buttons, or writing and stumping for sometimes unpopular legislation, is a hard job, a many times thankless job, but a very necessary job that somebody must do.
I detected an almost overflowing emotion in his voice as he related his uncompromising stance on the arena that "was going to be built." He truly believes the arena is a vital step in the progress of Wyoming Valley. My emotions were pumped as he described the crony-proof perimeter wall around the project. (I wish the perimeter fence around the Big House had demonstrated such integrity.)
Really, the Blaum style combination of family and politics looks like fun! There are fun hugs from Daddy and unbridled laughter among daughters and mother that are practiced over and over again - in the home. They aren't rehearsed for soundbites or prime time news clips. From one wild and crazy and serious Dad to another - I can tell.
On the other hand, the efforts in the capitol by Representative Blaum are serious attempts to include disadvantaged children and families in the family affair. That mission makes the fun part of living worthwhile.
Kevin Blaum has inherited and cultivated a great gift from his parents - to be able to see the big picture. In that view there's more to family life than the immediate needs of material goods. There's a future that needs to be planned and built for his family - one fine example at a time. For his constituency there's a future that needs to be constructed of bricks and mortar, with visions of job and tax base attractions of arenas and access roads that beckon to industry and executives traveling the interstate.
I will always wonder what Kevin Blaum's Windsor Park Story would've done to help the arena project. I do know what it's done to enhance his image in this writer's mind.
Mike Gallagher, syndicated radio talk show host, says 99% of all politicians give the rest a bad name. We can be thankful one part of that 1% represents Northeastern Pennsylvania.
A WEED IN THE GARDEN
Just when one thinks that no more accolades can be heaped upon a production like Windsor Park Stories, a production that examines the bedrock upon which goodness and success are built, along comes the story about a wretched soul named Clifford Boggess.
Clifford Boggess never strolled the graystone-walled paths in Windsor Park. He never smelled the freshly tilled earth or whiffed the perfume from the sweetest blossoms that pop out in the very early spring. He was never buzzed by a ruby-throated hummingbird or heard the contented chirping and singing of the many other bird species that visit Windsor Park. It's too late for Clifford Boggess to feel the cooling, late summer breezes that sway the tall sunflowers in eclipses of the scorching August sun. He'll never, ever, be able to drench his sparkling eyes and wide smile with the perennially cool water that runs from the fountain in Windsor Park. Clifford Boggess was executed by the Texas Department of Corrections on June 11, 1998.
The story of Clifford Boggess, aired on PBS's February 9th Frontline, is as stark a contrast to the Windsor Park Stories theme as midnight is to high noon. On this spectrum of life, Windsor Park Stories examines many things that are good and positive in a person's life. The producers extract from their subjects descriptions of building blocks that support the strengths and successes which motivates ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Many times WPS even delves into the misfortunes that force a person to strengthen their resolve to turn bad into good.
At its end of the scale, the sad tale of Clifford Boggess explains in very real terms what might likely await a child who, from the moment of birth, becomes just an excess piece of baggage. It also is a grim example of what awaits society because we ignore our children and perpetuate, through bad example, lack of love, and scarcity of discipline, the rampant cycle of broken homes and family abuses. Why can't we see that we are not just putting to death ruthless, cold-blooded murderers like Clifford Boggess, but we are also passing a sentence of death upon ourselves as a civilized society.
I'd written thousands of words on dozens of pages in my search for a theme to connect and discuss the importance of the last two episodes of Windsor Park Stories; Tom Alexander, in Sportsline USA, and Sue Hand, in Portrait of an Artist. And frankly, I was having a difficult time of it. It seemed I had so much to say, as usual, that it became too much. Such as, while considering the trials and tribulations of Boggess I was constantly disturbed by the examples I see every day of families I know personally who are being torn asunder by divorce, drug abuse, and just plain old lack of principles and self control. Happily, just as distracting were the abundance of pleasant memories I had of when I was a child, how I always had plenty of family and adult family friends as role models, how my mother and father made big deals over the smallest accomplishments.
My father, for example, put great value on integrity and loyalty to others. Me mudder, what can a tough guy like myself say about her? She done a good job wit me, me tree brudders, and me tree sisters. On the wall above my computer is my second grade painting of a Viking ship. Momma, I still can't believe you saved it! (Sue Hand - youse is still running the art concession for now, but my two daughters take art lessons every Friday.)
Then I tuned into Frontline. Being a career man in the local Big House, I was immediately interested in the logistics and production aspect of the story. Being the father of three children, I was interested in the genealogical and psychological angles that were being played out. And finally, being under the gun to find some connection to Windsor Park Stories, I was interested in the 180 degree difference between stories of children who ended up as spokespersons for their respective fields and the story of a child who ended up on Death Row.
Each week on Windsor Park Stories we see nice people lay out in pretty full detail the groundwork of their integrity and prosperity.
Patrick Mulloy: Success Washington Style (1-17 & 24-99) - He relies heavily on prayer and practices being good to everyone he comes in contact with. He builds bridges behind himself (rather that burning them or even just crossing them.) He enables others to move along and experience success. I'm sure that if one of his protégés managed to pass him by for a job promotion or career move he would congratulate and relish that success just as he would his own. And do you remember Pat's defining role model in his life? His father! He never uttered a discouraging word and now Pat's leading America.
Tom Alexander: Sportsline USA (1-31-99) - he worked his butt off learning the broadcasting business. He suffered through long hours and nutty shifts. He tried his hand at producing a movie and though he didn't fully succeed, yet, he just keeps going, keeps inching toward that director's chair. And, though he's under the impression that it isn't who you know, it's what you know, I beg to differ in some respects. It is who you know, especially when they see what you know. Or is it, it's who knows you, not who you know? No wait, it's, If you know - tell me.
Tom finally set us straight when he noted, "under the CBS eye . . . some very influential people are hearing your work, seeing your work, which leads to other opportunities within the company." This is the networking connection Dr. Mussari is always preaching about. Tom learned to network as a child. He watched and listened to his father and uncle as they ran their movie houses and strived always to entertain people especially in times of need. They were his role models, particularly his father who always responded to his undertakings with at least a smile or a pat on the head.
"He never really discouraged me," said Alexander. "You're dreaming, I never once in my life ever heard him say that."
I remember going to the Forty Fort Theater many, many times as a youngster. I used to like to imagine that the guy collecting the tickets inside was the same guy who'd just sold me the ticket at the window outside. Father and uncle weren't twins, were they? I can remember Tom. He did take pride in his job as a popcorn box filler. Now he's a rising star on the radio dial.
When I write like crazy, trying to come up with ideas and angles for stories, I always, always, always, begin to doubt my skill as a writer. In fact, just during the week before the Sue Hand story, I'd gone to the library with my son and while browsing through the self help section I spotted a book titled, IF I'M SO SUCCESSFUL, WHY DO I FEEL LIKE A FAKE? THE IMPOSTOR PHENOMENON. By Joan C. Harvey, Ph.D., with Cynthia Katz.
"Whoa!" I thought. "This sounds familiar!" So I checked it out and I'm reading it. In the meantime I've whittled this report from thousands of words on dozens of pages. The owner of the advertising firm I work part-time for, Art and Creative Services, is always complaining about my revision disorder. I can never seem to be quite happy with my finished work. But I'm working on curing myself.
And you know what? Listening to Sue Hand: Portrait of An Artist, (2-7-99) I found it was familiar to her too. She had many doubts about her ability to paint and to teach and to run a business that centered on her innate talent to paint. (And Tom Alexander, he marvels at the idea of getting paid for being himself!) Yippee! I'm not alone!
Sue Hand though, she learned about crafts and creating from her mother. She was allowed to experiment and create in her dad's workshop. She was given the freedom to let her imagination wander while learning self-discipline at the same time with her art lessons and schooling. And she had role models who encouraged her and always pushed her to the edge to be just a little bit better. (And don't we need that edge in today's competitive business world!)
As her mentors cared about her, she learned to care about others too. For her husband and family who were counting on her, she refined her talents and learned how to run a verrrrry successful art studio. Is it a coincidence she learned about angles and dimensional perception on her dad's knee and is now a famous artist? I think not!
Clifford's father couldn't take on the responsibility of another mouth to feed and abandoned Clifford to his estranged wife, who abandoned him to his divorcing grandparents, who deserted him to an adoptive mother and father about to part, who dumped him . . . somewhere . . . or . . . I don't know where the heck he ended up! The lineage gets confusing even to Clifford. By the time he was about nine or ten years old, when his main concern should've been cartoons, baseball, and running away from yucky girls, Clifford was running away to his piano teacher's house, which was on his way to running away from home, which it seems now, was on his way to the death house in downtown Huntsville.
By his own admission, he never felt like he belonged in his home town of St. Jo, Texas, or anywhere for that matter. Through most of his childhood he was "under the impression that she [his mother] gave me away." And that's too bad because he was an honors student, a better than average athlete, and in prison became a talented, albeit, eccentric artist. Sadder still, several of his brothers ended up as miscreants, and worse, dead by violent means.
And who were their role models? Well, Clifford's biological father killed himself before Clifford was born. Then, as I mentioned, his mother's husband refused to take him in. His mother was eventually murdered by a lover. His Uncle Carl was a bank robber who shot a policeman and then did time in the Big House at Folsom. Even now, it's hard to go on telling this horribly sad story about a boy who was raised to be completely hollow and who then managed to hollow out the lives of his victims' families.
At his end, according to Frontline correspondent Alan Austin, who helped research and narrate the story, "Clifford couldn't care anymore about his own life than he had a dozen years earlier for the lives of the two old men that he'd murdered. He'd done and said all the things he could think of to make himself fully human. He never stopped trying. It just hadn't worked."
Now this story is an unusually bizarre example of a childhood gone wrong. And because of that, the psychologists who "study" such failures point to the many other children who are abandoned and neglected and turn out just fine as adults. That's a bunch of baloney! They don't turn out OK. Maybe they behave fine outwardly and don't become vicious killers, but I suspect many are haunted by the feelings of hopelessness and rejection they suffered with as children.
To tell you the truth the Clifford Boggess story was as powerful a documentary as I've ever seen. Perhaps, in part, because through the first couple of minutes my six year old son was playing with his toy trucks and cars on the living room floor. He doesn't have a care in the world besides trying to convince me why I should allow him to stay up and "play for just five more minutes." It raised my emotions to a near tear-spilling incident. I can't really do it justice in discussion here. There's so much to it, with the Boggess family affair, and the innocent victims and their families and how they've been destroyed.
Perhaps you might check it out yourself on the web at www.pbs.org. It's listed under Frontline, The Execution. I visited that site after I'd seen most of the video on the telly. Trust me, the video is a much more chilling experience. Order it if you dare. You'll find it's a fine example of what public television has to offer vs. the intelligence-insulting run-of-the-mill sitcoms and minidramas. It'll make you think about a lot of things including how powerfully positive Windsor Park Stories can be.
I like to imagine how the world would change if some of the negative television that people watch for hours upon hours each day would instead focus just a teensy weensy bit on positive reinforcements.
The elderly brother of one of Clifford Boggess' murdered victims had an interesting comment at end of the documentary. He said, and I'll have to paraphrase because "somebody" taped over my copy of the show, "imagine what kind of person it takes to do what he did to those two old men. Imagine . . ."
Now, imagine how nice this world would be if all our stories were Windsor Park Stories.
To Russia With Love
Tom and Anne Thomas started a family by weaving through the maze of international adoption. Theresa and I started our family by more traditional means.
International adoption and natural childbirth are parallel experiences in many respects. And the end results of both obligate us as mothers and fathers to fulfill the most awesome responsibility that we can ever have - raising children.
Adoption and childbirth involve pre-child pangs of anticipation as the day of delivery gets closer - delivery by the doctor or delivery by decree. The days, weeks, and months cannot go by fast enough.
Uncertainties abound on either track as paperwork and trimester hurdles are cleared. Privately, we wonder, " Can we handle this ultimate responsibility called parenting? Really, the future of mankind depends on us." Think about that!
Disappointments may lie in wait around every bend. Will the government step in and block the adoption.? Will God decide to take our baby before it's born?
Both methods of family creation involve pain. According to Tom and Anne Thomas, parental stars of the Windsor Park Story, To Russia with Love, international adoption inflicted a great emotional pain, not for the daughters they adopted, but for the children they couldn't bring home. Natural childbirth, according to my wife Theresa, involves a good bit of physical pain. In fact, she says if men could bear children, they'd only have one or probably none.
"Well, I don't know about that," I retorted. "If it hurts so much why'd you agree to three?"
"See if this hurts," I remember her saying as the shadow of the skillet preceded the sound and feeling of iron on bone.
When I came to, we continued the discussion of emotional pain. As we experienced great joy to see Margarita and Marina gain a family, the picture of the children left behind pains us still. Through their expectant eyes they wish with all their might that they could have a family. Sure, they are wondering why they can't have a Poppa and a Momma.
I'm wondering, why can't parents who are willing to adopt but can't afford large families, or why can't orphans, who have to live in circa 1940/1950 surroundings, be subsidized by a government that is pouring billions into a failing space station?
I'm wondering, why efforts and money are being wasted on bureaucratic bumbling and paperwork, which only impedes a good and loving process, while so little is being spent on improving the living conditions of millions of children in Russia and indeed, worldwide.
Why is so little effort made to be sure that children are not left in the care of dope fiends or other totally irresponsible parties.
For example, I'm familiar with several adoption situations where the adopting parents are the most wonderful, loving people you'd ever want to have for parents. The natural parents are drug and alcohol soaked leeches of society. Yet, the courts have bent over backwards to give the slugs every opportunity to keep their children.
Years, I said YEARS! went by before the courts finally conceded the children to their proper, adoptive parents. Don't judges and lawmakers have enough common sense and confidence in their observations to remove children from these emotionally destructive tugs of war?
I'm wondering why, if parents like Tom and Ann Thomas and us, and many, many other people we know, feel that child rearing is so very important, why isn't more time, effort, and money being spent to make sure this process heads in the right direction.
Heaven knows we put great emphasis and money into sports arenas ,and more to pay the athletes who entertain us there. And the sky's the limit on our own space exploration. Astronomical figures are being talked about in the budget surplus debates. Huge amounts of cash to fight crime and build prisons are being stolen from our tax base. School curriculums and budgets are always in the news, yet a large percentage of high school seniors can't read at an eighth grade level (23% is a figure I think I heard recently.)
Numerous proposals for government and business sponsored day care are being circulated in offices and boardrooms around the globe. And yet I'm still wondering, why isn't anything being done to make it easier for Mommies and Daddies to take care of their own children in their own homes. Why isn't more being done to create a loving environment for the Margaritas and Marinas of the world?
Tom's comment about excitement in people's lives is right on target. There is almost a frenzy in this country, in this world, to create some kind of diversion to the obvious task of raising our children. If reasons for dumping our children in daycare aren't economically based - "we need two incomes," or emotionally based - "we need professional fulfillment," then ignoring our children is a personal problem - "after a hard day at work we need our space too."
Children have become almost nuisances in our culture - unfortunately for them and eventually tragically for us.
Somehow we've been steered on a course that ignores the basic needs of children which is to have a constant, stable, caring family unit.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger, that's 1-800-DR LAURA, on her daily radio program, admonishes personal grown up feelings and needs, and insists that children be the focal point of a family. In other words, with the arrival of children any priorities the parents have that don't include their children go into the diaper pail. Dr. Laura for President I say.
And it's too bad Margarita Thomas can't become President because she's not a born-in-American. Of course she should never consider the Presidency while she has children to raise. Maybe she can restore some honor to the Congress instead.
Anyway, parents can have hobbies and fun as long as they revolve around the children. For example, I love to fish. Thus, our children are accomplished fisherpersons. We find it exciting that they can handle bait and sharp hooks, and swim in the middle of the river, and drive the boat. We're excited and satisfied that we're taking enough time to teach them how to camp and generally love the outdoors and all the woodland creatures. We also get great excitement and satisfaction from their dance routines, soccer success, basketball bouncing, and every other pastime that we've encouraged and they enjoy.
We also demand that they extend courtesies and good manners outside our home. And when people comment on how polite and caring our children are that makes raising them all the more delightful. Tom Thomas is really radical and we agree with him when he says, "anything that doesn't benefit children is almost unnecessary.
"Before children can become involved in the excitement of their parents lives they must become the excitement in their parents eyes.
Seeing your baby smile for the first time, or roll over for the first time, or toddle for the first time is exciting - and impossible if they are abandoned by fathers and mothers or placed in daycare at 6 weeks or six months of age.
I know of one mother who lets her children sleep in on Sundays. Of course they miss church, but it's the only time they can ever sleep in because they go to school all winter and daycare all summer, even on Saturdays! Arrgh! Saturdays and summer vacation are spent in daycare?!
I know what I'm saying is not popular but it needs to be addressed if our society is to have any normal future. For example, I'll be willing to bet that twenty years from now when social security is sound (Ha!) and a lot of old, rich people are having their checks siphoned off by the nursing homes they've been sent to, these same old people will be willing to trade every cent to be close to and cared for by their children. Alas, they invested their money in saving social security as they dumped their children into daycare. Some day it will be their turn to be dropped off to 24 hour care. It's happening folks, right before our eyes.
Isn't it appalling that some entertainers earning tens of millions of our dollars don't exhibit any family values at all.
I think we need to be retrained. We need a comprehensive plan to channel our resources toward family child care. We need to enable mothers to stay home with their children, to be there when they get home from school, to be there when they need a hug or a responsible answer to an important question.
When I was in grade school my brothers and I would often walk home from school for lunch and bring several friends with us. Our mother was always there. Of course the giant and expensive school mergers were just being incorporated so the neighborhood schools were still a powerful force in keeping children closer to their homes. By the way, our plan would also reestablish smaller, more manageable, more easily overseen community schools.
When parents shirk their responsibility or when judges and family welfare counselors are shy about doing their jobs we need to be able to quickly remove the barriers to adoption. These hurdles force children to hopscotch from foster home to foster home while their mothers or fathers manipulate the system or take their time deciding whether or not they really want to keep their children.
I think we need to flood the market with programs like the Windsor Park Story: To Russia With Love. We need to introduce the world to more people like Tom and Ann Thomas who believe that taking care of and loving your children in your own home is the right thing to do, and an exciting and satisfying thing to do.
Life does not imitate art as might be the wish of Hollywood producers. God help us if it finally does. Rather, let us insist that the art called Windsor Park Stories imitates the lives of families like Tom, Ann, Margarita and Marina Thomas, and all the families who love and care for their children and neighbors.
Let's build a Windsor Park in every neighborhood. Let's practice to Russia with love in our own homes.
Commitment is a connecting word. It connects our God-given talents with accomplishments that make our lives richer and fuller. When Corlis Carroll, in her Windsor Park Story, Morning Light Carina, explained how she returned from Ireland more committed than ever to her art, I got all goosebumpy, fired up my computer, and retrieved from my files a story I've been working on for many, many, months.
Over the next week I committed every spare second and every spare speck of creativity to revising, rewriting, and polishing what turned out to be a 4,263 word manuscript. Then I took several deep breaths and addressed it to a premier outdoor magazine. A little later I took several more controlled breaths and handed it to the Shavertown postmaster. During the week, as I worked on this masterpiece, I also became more committed to writing than ever before. I am now working on a another resurrected story to send somewhere.
I fretted over sending this story anywhere because, after reading IF I'M SO SUCCESSFUL, WHY DO I FEEL LIKE A FAKE? THE IMPOSTOR PHENOMENON, by Joan C. Harvey, Ph.D., with Cynthia Katz, I deduced that I suffer from sporadic, mild bouts of this disorder, but only with my writing. When afflicted, I try to convince myself that what I write, or what I've already written, isn't really as good as it seems, that I've somehow managed to fake the quality of my work. Then subconsciously I become afraid that ideas for stories will eventually run out, I'll have nothing to write about, and I will be exposed as a fraud, an impostor who really didn't know how to write to begin with. And, would you believe, one of the subjects in the book was a writer named Ryan?! I swear!
Don't despair for me. I'm working on a cure by committing myself to writing, writing, and more writing. And I'm committing myself to getting published by sending, sending, sending my writing - anywhere and everywhere.
Maybe you think I'm overreacting but it seems this phenomenon is real. Cases in point - Sue Hand was once very shy about her talent to create salable art and she had doubts about her ability to run an art studio. (Yet, she has become renowned in both fields.) Corlis Carroll, she admitted she has some insecurities about her current artistry. Duh! I'm sure she was commissioned to do a paint-by-number work in Ireland. Not!
(Please note, some of this work was written on Saint Patrick's Day. Try as I did, I couldn't find a St. Patty's Day painting joke.)
Seriously though, perhaps Sue's and Corlis' psyches teetered on the edge of this Impostor Phenomenon experience but they had the fortitude to make and fulfill commitments to themselves and their families. Ask them and I'm sure they'll say they lead rich, fulfilling lives because of their commitments. The point t be made here is, if you exhibit any of the above symptoms with regard to a special talent that you may possess, please read Harvey's book. It may help you as it helped me get in touch with my subconscious, and then we'll all be able to enjoy your special gift.
We are fortunate that all of the guests we meet in Windsor Park have chosen to share with us their lives and gifts, be they talents, good fortune, or character strengths. It's really extraordinary that they can open their deepest memories and thoughts for our examination. I don't think it's particularly easy to expose one's inner self for potentially all the world to see. It leaves one very vulnerable to attack on principles, beliefs, and habits. (I'd like to know how the moderator decides which questions to ask.)
Anyway, for the next two weeks after Bob's Big Trip to the Post Office, I took care of a lot of commitments and thought a lot about some others. Most of the actual accomplishments were simple and routine acts tied to my main job as a husband and father of three. It's a 24 hour a day task that can be partially summed up, for the current season at least, as a dual basketball coaching, homework helping, snow shoveling, car and truck repairing, dog walking, woodstove tending, vacuuming, dishwashing, back rubbing, and for the second week in a row, flu comforting assignment. Oh, I'm also a flute, violin, and dance lesson driver to'er.
Move over Corlis, I need a table for five and at least two months of peace and quiet. Add to that my day job at the correctional institution upon which my family depends for all of the above - and more in the future. At the big house, where I take my responsibilities very seriously, I'm a security expert, supervisor, counselor, mechanic, and all around working fool.
I'm only mentioning these responsibilities because they are commitments I've made that contribute to my rich, full, and very busy life. And, in the words of Walter Brennan, as Grandpa in The Real McCoys TV show from around '63, it's "No brag, just fact."
Important a word as it is, commitment is becoming a rare commodity these days. In this age of downsizing, employers aren't practicing commitment when they make decisions based on the bottom line rather than on the well being of their employees. And vice versa to a certain extent, employees aren't as committed to their jobs as they once were. Are they? I am.
Think about America's very high divorce rate and its ever increasing child day care population. I'm thinking that the commitments husbands and wives make to each other and to their children aren't high on the collective lists of priorities, either.
Politicians aren't committed to the common good either when they waste tax money on frivolous pork barrel projects while ignoring book starved, incompetent teacher infested, drug and dropout plagued, metal detector guarded, inner city and suburban schools. Nor do they seem to care about the real causes of crime when they talk tough, overfill and then build jails, but fail to mandate any educational or vocational opportunities for inmates, a great percentage of whom still spin the revolving door and will be baaaaack amongst us one of these days.
But I digress. Really what we need is for Corlis to paint us back into our towns where the victualler was just one among all the tradesmen from whom we got our everyday needs and who were also the neighbors just on the other side of the picket fence. I'm sure their are those among us who are old enough to remember when you depended on your neighbors and they depended on you - and that was your only choice. And it was an easy one to make because people cared about commitment to their professions and to their neighbors. And though I'm in agreement with Corlis' thoughts that we should learn tolerance and forgiveness, perhaps we should conversely reestablish limits of tolerance and be less forgiving of evil people who do evil things time and again. Then we'd have more time and energy to spread kindness to those who really need and deserve it.
Some other commitments I thought about and acted on over the past several weeks were prompted by the words of Norman Vincent Peale, as quoted by Corlis Carroll.
Know what you want.
Know how to get it.
And, never, never, never give up.
Well, I've started living by these words with this column. I've always wanted to be a writer and this editorial experience is one in a series of steps I need to take to realize my dream. It forces me to write every day, sometimes to the point where I fall asleep, pencil in hand, just to keep up with my thoughts that are stirred by the Windsor Park series. Plus, it offers me exposure to a wide www. audience and some professional criticism which will force me to overcome my impostor fear.
I've also been an outspoken critic of violent, explicit, and moronic television. So whada' ya' know, along comes this platform which features positive TV and gives me the wherewithal to put my pen where my mouth is while helping support a friend who is committed to doing his part in changing the culture of television. It becomes for me a neat little package of preaching and practicing, and the inspiration I receive along the way revives my own creative writing efforts far beyond the stone walls of Windsor Park.
I am thinking, hoping, and praying that it's an extraordinary thing happening to an ordinary guy like me.
Network vs Network
Friendship: a Two Part Episode of Windsor Park Stories
Dr. Anthony Mussari, producer of Windsor Park Stories, didn't invent the networking concept. It's been around for a long time. However, he does subscribe to its potential as a tremendously positive tool for one's professional, social, and moral advancement.
Networking for career advancement is usually done within the context of one's chosen profession. Contacts vital to business interests are made and maintained through the exchange of Ideas and methods. Reputations are forged and friendships are made.
Friendships expand the network into the social realm. Friends tell friends about particular individuals or businesses. Friends of these friends know people who may need the particular service or product. The next thing you know, your machine calls my machine. We do lunch. Your people are calling my people. We do business and then golf. We discuss mutual business and friendly contacts. The network expands.
Hopefully, somewhere along the fairway of life, business leaders fit morality into their game and into the network. Sensitivity to their peers', employees', and customers' needs develops and increases. This fosters employee and product loyalty. The business community prospers, employees make a decent living, and the customers receive a quality product.
This network is a vast system which interconnects much of what we do in the successful business and social world. So, it's important that we be consistent with its application. Moral predictability and professional integrity are important barometers for many people who are looking to associate themselves with a business or product. (Consider the current Olympic bribery scandal. Many major sponsors are watching very closely at how this major faux pas is handled. They don't want to be associated with any organization that is anything less than pure.) Ethics, which is basically what we're talking about here, is not a pick and choose proposition. Right is right and wrong is wrong.
Successful businesses are led by men and women who do the "right thing" both on and off the job. Employees, who are essentially the followers, emulate their leaders and find it easier to do the right thing when the boss does the same. (And vice versa. Look at the present leaders of America and the present sad state of affairs.)
"Aww, come on! Everybody's doing it. Even the boss!"
I've noticed, when the leader sees the benefits of positive style he or she will be more inclined and more determined to continue it. Am I mistaken to believe that people respond negatively to negative stimuli and positive to positive stimuli?
The most important network we ever experience is with our families. Con, Vank, Earl, and Kitch, in their Windsor Park Story, Friendship, (3/7 and 3/14 '99) were quite frank in their conclusion that the 43 year friendship they've enjoyed is a direct result of the role models and support they enjoyed as they grew up.
Back in their day, which really wasn't very long ago, parents had very defined roles. Mom stayed home, took care of the domestic chores, including devoting much time and effort to young children, and Dad earned the money, often by working two jobs. This was a nice arrangement and enabled the network to flourish.
Moms were revered as the constants in the household. They were always there, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a hug, a smile. And they worked together in keeping an eye on all the children. There would always be one spying out the kitchen window. Or, there was always somebody home to be contacted for any reason. And they had no qualms about advising each other about shenanigans of their little darlings.
There weren't any "not my Johnny" or "mind your own business" responses. (Why, I think more often than not we were guilty until proven innocent.) This very efficient network was connected by phone or across the backyard fence. And by the end of the day, instead of having to catch up after being torn between home and career, she was able to continue focusing on her most important roles as Mother and wife. She almost always had some patience and attention left for her husband and children. (Unless, of course, we were all "just wait[ing] 'till your father gets home.")
From the Dad's perspective, when he finally trudged home after a long, hard days work he wasn't faced with "his share" of the household tasks so he had time to connect with his wife and children. Instead of vegetating in front of the tube before "going back to the races" with cleaning, or cooking, or homework, baths, and the myriad of other things Moms and Dads in the '90 have to help each other with, he could actually sit down and talk and listen to his wife and play with his children. I remember my Dad always had time to show us how to fix or build things. And even though we eventually lost or broke many of his tools he was always patient. Or we had many evenings when fishing was the priority.
Take three or four young sons fishing at the same time and see how much patience you have! I question any Moms and Dads reading this - how patient are you with your children? And, if you're not - why? Are you stressed out from the pace of your lives? And what is it exactly you're trying to get out of life - lots of stuff and things, or do you really want nice children who are ready to face and take on the world, who can handle adversity, who can build 43 year long friendships. Most often the family even ate together. (You know, that's when everybody sits down at the dinner table at the same time to eat the same food and talk to each other.). There wasn't the frenetic feeling that the family thing had to squeezed into the last half hour before bedtime.
Moms and Dads were good role models within the network. Dads could always be counted on to get the job done, to show children how responsibility is handled outside the home while supporting the whole family network within. Mom was there as the example watching the homefront and providing moral support to everyone involved. Between parents there was great pride in joining forces to raise a family on principles and standards that didn't have to be compromised.
Alas, life was simpler back then and it was easy to focus on the good things and just plain outlaw the bad. But now, now there are distractions galore. Drugs, violent electronic games, the internet, hundreds of television channels. (Don't get me started on the #%&*! TV!) Parents are overwhelmed with bad things assaulting their children from every direction. And after they both burn themselves out on the job, day after day, there just isn't enough energy left to direct the kiddies or even to maintain their own relationships. It's easier to just overlook the evil and hope for the best or simply abandon the whole plan and start over. It seems the family network is crumbling around us, doesn't it?
The number of couples Theresa and I know who have split up is way too many! I'm not advocating that women be removed from the workforce and relegated back to the barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen situation. But, I am saying that when a woman and a man decide to raise a family - that's what they should do. The family network, built around the children, becomes the #1 priority. We've been infiltrated by many who advocate alternative lifestyles that enable (or do they force) couples to explore options for raising families. It doesn't seem like it's working, does it? In my way of thinking the first few years of a child's development are too important to be sacrificed to careers and daycare centers.
Church was an important spoke in the network of development and still is. Children need to believe in something more than what they can see or achieve here on earth. They need to know that there is one God who can be counted on, no matter what. They need to have a goal to strive for throughout their lives - that being the salvation of heaven. Otherwise they will drift through their existence clinging to any and every piece of glitter and self-satisfying evil that comes their way. Drugs are a perfect example. They are an easy way to instant pleasure and a sure way to temporarily escape from a life with no meaning, no direction. Gangs are another example. Kids need to have structure in their lives and when it isn't provided at home, in school, and in the church, there's always a tough guy on the corner waiting to include them in his little congregation.
Anyway, the close family, school, and church network allowed close childhood friendships to form. At least it did in Con, Vank, Earl, and Kitch's neighborhood. I mean, 42 years is a long run. And they are close in good times and bad. It's a tight network that doesn't collapse under pressures from illness, death, marriage, or job problems. We know they saw their parents, their role models, experience extreme pressures from all directions without crashing. And hey, if Mom and Dad managed to make it, and in one case it was just Mom, so could they, no matter what. The gangs do it too. They become so close and supportive of each other and their cause that they are willing to kill and die for it. Their associates become the family, the family with no morals and no positive social direction.
So, you can see the most important network in life is the family. From there all else may come easily and if it doesn't, which happens often, a person is prepared to deal with it. They can remember how their parents and role models made it. They can make decisions based on this experience and training, both of which they received just by being part of an intensive and extensive family and neighborhood network. They can rely on support and some measure of help from their friends (and the friends are glad to help!) They can even count on the network of business contacts they've nurtured throughout their lives. When several of the Friends found themselves unemployed at points in their lives, they actually rebounded into more successful and more fulfilling careers! I think having good family backgrounds, impeccable reputations, and solid business and friendly contacts probably helped. Don't you? One even went from television to Windsor Park Stories television.
Now, I tried not to get down on the evils of the tube! But just the word "television" alarms me. When I first saw the title to this Windsor Park Story, I immediately thought of the popular network sitcom, Friends. And though I've never been forced to sit through a complete episode of this sitcom, I know enough about it to ban it from our big screen. You know what I'm talking about, it revolves around several perfect looking men and women who act out inane little plots that require a minimum amount of imagination to write or solve. All the while they throw sexual innuendoes at and about each other with little or no reservation. Seemingly each would abandon one or all of the others for a moment of self-indulgence. It may be funny to some but it's certainly not appropriate for children or young teens of any age. (If it's so funny, why do they need a laugh track. I'd love to see how long any sitcom would last without one.) Yet, it's on at prime time for children who are being baby-sat by the television. Are these the Friends you want your children to identify with? Is this the network you want your child to experience?
SUCCESS GARDEN STYLE!
The limos were gone. The red carpet had already been rolled away and a crunchy crust of rock salt put down in it's place. The velvet ropes were coiled and stashed with the rest of the props. The giant Jedi Light-Saber searchlights that sliced the sky were on their way back to Ertley's MotorWorld, ready for another pre-owned car sale. The beautiful people of Hollywood you know, the machismo hunks with their ivory white teeth set against their blacker than black, satin fringed tuxedos; the thin, almost gaunt leading ladies with their perfect teeth and obscene gowns, these stars had disappeared, no doubt with the sensationalizing paparazzi hot on their tails and high heels. Darn the traffic and ice, Theresa and I missed the glitz of opening night!
Who needs it? It's what's on the inside that counts.
Inside the WVIA studios we are warmly greeted by Kitch Loftus-Mussari, extraordinary teacher, friend, wife of the esteemed producer of Windsor Park Stories, Dr. Anthony J. Mussari, and nominee for Mr. Blackwell's best dressed list.
"Thanks for inviting us!" we exclaim.
"It's wonderful to be here. It's certainly a thrill,"' I'll think later.
The audience is impressive. Well over 200 friends and associates of Doc and Kitch have turned out to support Windsor Park Stories and R's producers. Some we know personally, a few we recognize from Windsor Park, and a couple are prominent citizens and leaders of our community. Everyone is exchanging friendly pleasantries. We want prime seats so we select a couple of complimentary, medium dry wines and head into the studio. Bill Kelly, the big Kahuna at WVIA and moderator for the evening, makes some remarks about the station, the Windsor Park Stories Series, introduces a couple of the VIP's and ...
IT'S SHOW TIME!
And what a show! Is there a moral, God-fearing, family man in Washington, DC? Why yes, at least one. His name is Patrick Mulloy. In Success Washington Style, Patrick Mulloy is not only the epitome of morality, he represents the basic roots of goodness - his parents, his teachers, and the devotion to God through prayer.
As one who prays for guidance often, I am particularly impressed with Pat's frequent reference to prayer. And he is neither reserved about it nor embarrassed by it. He doesn't try to disguise it but, rather, almost brags that prayer is the constant, guiding factor in his life. At several points in his story he refers to good luck in picking friends, making good career choices and generally living a successful life, but I suspect his good fortunes are, in fact, answers to his prayers. Bill Kelly, in his opening remarks, quickly touched on the truly sad story that is being acted out in our nation's capitol. I couldn't help but conclude that the moral fiber called prayer that holds Pat Mulloy together is totally lacking in the immoral atmosphere that threatens to suffocate the seats of power in these United States.
Pat fondly remembers a high school teacher, Sister Rose de Lima, who was instrumental in guiding him away from notoriety as the class cut-up to successful student through achievement. Why, I had some of the same kinds of teachers, nuns and lay people alike, at the same high school though it was 20 years later. Pat still subscribes to the discipline taught to him by this particular clerical mentor that demands hardships be endured and offered up to God for the souls in Purgatory. My mother used to tell me the same thing all the time. And you know what? I've always insisted that my children bear their trivial hardships for the same divine reason. The discipline needed for a calm, understanding, and forgiving nature, I believe, is rooted in this practice. When you are disrespected by someone or "inconveniences" befall you, you should think like this - I'm glad I'm not that ill-mannered and I shall strive to never be such, or, it could be worse or, if this is the worst thing that happens to me this day, I thank God. And then get on with your life while looking around! You'll see many unfortunate souls who really have something to cry about. Anyway, I think this personal connection to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance for the greatest nation ever on earth is pretty cool!
Of course Pat's foundation for his success comes from his parents, particularly his father. In this day and age of single mothers, single fathers, government-sponsored day care, no care, deadbeat dads and deadbeat moms, it's always refreshing to hear about and see generations of fathers and mothers who pay full attention to their children. I'm sure Pat and his wife, Marge, will agree with a quote I've used many times.
"Success is not what your bank account says. It's how wonderful a human being your child is."
Raising our children to be good and loving people is so important it should be the main focus of this country to insure that parents raise their own children in a stable, loving home - no matter the cost to them or to the tax base. (What a noble way to spend the projected government surplus!) I won't sermonize but I will quote a framed message that hangs on my son's bedroom wall.
(I've also used this message before.) The author is unknown but the prophecies are quite clear.
Children Learn What They Live If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy. If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty. If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. If a child lives with encouragement he learns confidence. If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate. If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice. If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith. If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself. If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.
Patrick Mulloy was a fortunate recipient of the latter seven. Thus it's easy to see where he gets his loving nature. More important is that he realizes he must connect his love for his children to the happiness and fulfillment he's experiencing as he guides America into the next millennium.
Beatles In the Garden.
When I heard that Pat grew up and went to college in the 60's, and Doc and Kitch and Bill Kelly seem to have some connection with the 60's through acquaintances and teachers, and when one considers the distractions that abounded in that decade, (though none will admit they were actually at Woodstock) I kinda' wondered how they got through those unrestrained times. It's really a tribute to their resolve, discipline, and perhaps an answer to some else's prayers that they emerged relatively unscathed and in fact have become some of the pillars of society. I sorta' grew up in those turbulent times too, man. The Beatles, man, they ruled! I mean, I didn't go to Woodstock or Watkins Glen or nuthin' like that man, I was only 13, man, but when I got, like, home from this production, and for the next several days as I attended to sundry domestic and professional chores, I booted up some Beatles platters on the phonograph. (Mass Comm students, can you say "turntable?") The Fab Four were truly a profound lot. Their songs, around the '67 to'70 era, though emanating from suspect sources at times, really were full of deep thought and I got some deep thoughts about this screening party, the Mass Communications Department, and the world in general. Here's the way I figure it goes. And if you paid attention to Doc's words after the Pat Mulloy Story, or if you've ever heard Doc speak anywhere (including senior seminar lectures) you'll know what I'm talking about. John, Paul, George and Ringo sang it I just changed a word or two.
"[We] get by with a little help from [our] friends . . ."
Doc harps and harangues on the value of people cooperating and helping each other and truly loving one another in all phases of life. In fact, at the screening he takes it to the next level by referring to it as a (hopefully) emerging culture. Doc's (and Patrick's) basic themes are identical - help those around you and you will soon be surrounded by those who want to help you in return. And Pat notes that "helping" someone might require as little effort as an encouraging word or a suggestion of direction one might take in life. It's important however, to do this with no expectation of a reciprocal gesture. Stephen R. Covey, in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, explains how this is done. I challenge you to read this bible.
"... gonna' try with a little help from [our] friends . . ."
Mass Comm students, you, the ones who attended the screening, what you saw and heard in that studio is reality, man. It is people trying to be successful while at the same time trying to change just a little bit of the world for the good. There are no barriers they won't attempt to cross. But they know people need to connect, cooperate, and support each other on spiritual, physical, and professional levels. We all need each other - don't forget that! The Mass Communications Department and King's overall is an excellent example of interconnected success. (So is Patrick Mulloy.) Each thrives on the achievements of the others. Don't think for a moment that Doc and Kitch produce WPS for themselves or by themselves. It would be impossible to do it by themselves and a hollow effort to do it for themselves. Remember all those folks whose names roll on the credits and received the mystery gifts at the end of the night? Those folks are WPS. Doc and Kitch only provide a stage, some experience, and a deep love of seeing others succeeding. And if you haven't noticed (are you blind man!) their success is directly proportional to the success they enable of all those around them.
"For every mistake we must surely be learning . . ."
In his after-the-show-address, Doc mentioned how we all must continue to move on even when we try something and fall flat on our faces. We must get up, brush ourselves off, and keep on going, trying and striving for those goals that are important to us. I can't seem to remember where he went with that (the proverbial check for $19.95 plus $5.95 S&H for his transcripts is in the mail) but in the meantime I'll suppose that Pat must've goofed somewhere along the way. Yet he has risen to accomplish a lot in his life and career and without a doubt has a lot of successes yet to come. This concept made me think again of the present Washington situation. If you haven't noticed, closet skeletons of major prosecutorial players are being exposed by the likes of Larry Flint and some notorious news talk show hosts. I wonder why. Are they truly concerned with hypocritical tendencies or are they trying to scare off regular citizens who may have inclinations for public off ice but who may have made mistakes in their past. All of these high powered people have unlimited resources at their disposal to ruin reputations and futures if that's what they need to do to stay in office or stay at the top of the ratings. Sounds scary and it is. There isn't much incentive for seeking a career in the public spotlight, is there. Now, Doc says, when you goof, you fix it and carry on with your life trying not to make the same mistake again. Maybe he was comparing the last WPS season to the upcoming one. I couldn't find much wrong with the previous stories but I will say WPS has been tailored since R's inception. The intro seems to flow better. The transitions are, as Andy of Mayberry used to say, smoooooooooooooooth! Does Doc have some new toys, er, I mean effects capabilities in his editing room? The subjects walking around the park really helps draw the viewer through the TV screen and into the garden. Windsor Park becomes real and adds value to the real, personal effect of the close-ups. It sort of makes me think, there's nothing one has to do in a garden except admire it, walk through it, and listen to it - and the Windsor Park Story will sprout before your very eyes. (Man, these Beatle's tunes are makin' me freak out!) The background chirping just has to be a soundtrack but I know it isn't 'cause song birds are attracted to the unique, beautiful, and real feeders in the garden. WPS still flows along as the shortest half hour on TV.
The special feature with guests Sue Hand, Nathan Keil, and Jack Edwards was very interesting and really important to regular viewers and especially to first time audiences who might be surfing for satisfying entertainment. (Satisfying for me is identifying and relating with characters and remembering important points that are relevant in my life.) It showed that Windsor Park really does exist. There are no facades (with the set or with the subjects), no soundtracks, and no annoying laugh tracks that define our standards of humor and tell us when to laugh. It assures us that Windsor Park was built by and is, indeed, inhabited by ordinary people with extraordinary talents.
I listen to NPR (National Public Radio) every morning as I drive to work. I learned all about doing radio interviews from Kitch a few years ago and I'm hooked on critiquing the subject matter, the editorial slants, the tape cuts, etc. Several weeks ago a reporter lamented that one of the major networks doesn't have a single sitcom in their lineup that portrays an intact family unit. The leader of the channel has vowed to change that. Too late! I'll be watching... Windsor Park Stories.
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