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Printed August 27, 2019

We could use some Will Rogers common sense today

By Janice Edwards/ The Bulletin

So much hatred and turmoil in the world these days makes me wish for a simpler, happier time in our nation’s past. It made me think of one of my childhood heroes, Will Rogers.

I know a lot of you reading this have no idea who he was since he lived from November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935. Take a minute with me and discover him and some of the things he said. Then, I think you’ll agree, we need Will Rogers.

Will was born into a Cherokee family in Indian Territory – now Oklahoma. He was a cowboy, an entertainer, a humorist and a syndicated newspaper columnist. He traveled around the globe three times, made 71 films (50 silent and 21 talkies), and wrote over 4,000 columns (and this is when you had to type them with a typewriter). He promoted aviation with the famed pilot, Wiley Post.

Will wrote, ”I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.” And that was true. He had a way of saying things that would make people take a good hard look at themselves, and still laugh. He understood people. “It’s great to be great, but its greater to be human,” he said.

And his views on politics are just as poignant today as they were in the 1930s, as you can see in the following quotes:
“Everything is changing in America. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

“There is nothing as easy as denouncing ... It don’t take much to see that something is wrong, but it does take some eyesight to see what will put it right again.”

“There is no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.”

“Lord, the money we do spend on government, and it’s not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money 20 years ago.”

“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

“The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

“If you ever injected truth into politics, you would have no politics.”

“The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. That one that’s out always looks the best.”

“Democrats never agree on anything; that’s what makes them Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.”

“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble. Its what we know that isn’t so.”

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

From reading what Will wrote, it’s hard to believe he is not living and writing about our times. I guess I have always had an old soul, because I discovered Will’s writings when I was young. Mom always took me and my siblings to the library for the summer reading program, and she took us on outings.

Then she encouraged us to write about our experiences. When I read about the life of Will Rogers, I couldn’t get his story out of my head. I just had to visit his graveside to pay my respects. Mom didn’t drive, but she indulged me. We caught a Greyhound bus to Claremore, Oklahoma to visit his grave and museum. I’ll never forget that.

His life and his words became a part of me. And it’s not just politics where his words could help today: ”Everybody is ignorant, just in different ways.”

And: “Things aren’t what they used to be and probably never was.”

I think the world could use a little of Will Rogers’ humor these days. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could come along and make America laugh again? Because, you know, to quote Will, “The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.”

(Jan wants to hear from you. Write her in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)