The Best Advice I Ever Received
By RU Rob
It is election campaign season and unfortunately the non-stop commercials, media distraction, blah blah blah is coming. I really do hate the election cycle but learned something years ago that finally became clear to me and helps me survive, a lesson from Grandpa.
Grandpa was a simple yet complex man. Raised in rural, western Kansas and Nebraska, he was a firm believer in hard work and was undoubtedly unapologetically American. His values were that of a typical mid-western farmer. My father once told me that it took my grandfather 8 years to graduate high school. Not because he wasn’t smart but that he could only attend one semester each year, so he could play football and attend school in the fall, then work on the farm during the planting season of the spring.
A stout man with short, fat feet and thick weathered hands, I can recall many a day where my grandfather would spend hours out back, splitting firewood with a sledge hammer and an old, weathered steel wedge. Not a man of many words, I vividly remember sitting on his lap as he would give me sips of his RC Cola in a glass bottle, cupping his hand under my chin so I wouldn’t dribble.
There were two things I remember Grandpa was passionate about: Wrasslin’ (as he pronounced it), flipping back and forth with his very simple remote control with small, professional wrestling shows; and his garden, full of vegetables that would later be canned and frozen for future use and a multitude of flowers.
Grandpa taught me a lot about the world, he helped shape me into the man I am today. But, there was one lesson that sticks out, a lesson that I wish was universal across this great nation.
After a lot of thinking, comparing election years and my ever changing home address, I narrowed the time frame to the fall of 1980. It was an election year and the incumbent, Jimmy Carter was challenged by Ronald Reagan for the Presidency.
While I was 7 at the time, I was curious as to what happened when you voted. I had asked my parents about it, watched the news for information about the election, and learned about it in school. For some reason it was very important to me and my thirst for knowledge
I was with my grandfather one hot, fall afternoon and helping him with his garden, which as I look back now consisted of me pulling weeds. I was either talking about Nebraska football or rambling on about something only a 7 year-old can conjure when I asked a seemingly innocuous question…
“Who are you going to vote for Grandpa?”
He stopped, looked me directly in my eye and with a stern face stated…
“None of your business.”
What? Why would someone who I loved and cared about say that? At the time I was hurt, how could Grandpa be so rude? I just couldn’t understand it.
As time wore on and with the introduction of live media and social networking, the stern answer my Grandfather had given so long ago now makes total sense.
There isn’t a day that goes by now that one of my friends isn’t spewing hatred about one candidate or another. So-called friends that promise to “unfriend” anyone that has a dissenting opinion on their favorite candidate or political party. It also irks me when candidates themselves call anyone who supports the challenging candidate demeaning names or comparisons to some of the most evil men the world has ever known.
I see now, why my grandfather told me what he did 36 years ago.
Politics are personal.
It is up to me to decide what I believe and what I don’t believe. What I support and don’t support and the lengths I am willing to go to support them. From my time as an Army-brat to that of my own military service, my opinions and beliefs are based on my experiences, no one else’s.
I really wish my Grandpa’s advice, if you want to call it “advice”, had been given to every single American then as well as now. Keep your politics to yourself.
It’s pretty simple if you think about it.
You aren’t going to change my thoughts by attacking me, so stop trying. You will not change my values by slandering the party I endorse, so you are wasting your own time attempting to do so. You cannot influence my experiences in life and your attempts to draw me into your illogically biased rants are futile; move along, I am not the droid you are looking for.
It may have taken me many years to appreciate what Grandpa told me that fall day, but now, more than ever before, I understand what he was saying and promise to do the same. I just wish others would follow suit.