Years ago when Jerry and I still lived in the Chicago area we became friends with a gentleman who had emigrated here from Spain. Juan had been an actor, not a movie star or anything like that but a working actor on Spanish television and radio. He was a good looking, late middle-aged gentleman with a terrific dramatic speaking voice. His audio version of Count Dracula would have put Bela Lugosi to shame. He gave up his career to come to America, his land of opportunity, to work part-time teaching Spanish as a second language at a well knows language school. This gig barely paid his bills while he struggled to improve his ability to express himself in English in order to get a better paying job.
Juan’s misadventures with the English language were numerous and, humorous but his good looks and gregarious personality were enough to usually let him slide. Because of his accent and struggle to find the right words sometimes we would have to actually stop and listen and concentrate to fully understand his message.
There were no war or terrorism attacks or famine that made Juan’s journey to America imperative. He wasn’t escaping anything but rather he wanted to go forward and carve out a different path. He realized that it was his duty by coming here to learn the rules set out in our Constitution, abide by them and respect the symbol of our country – our flag.
Juan took the classes necessary and eventually became a citizen. He kept up on current events, got involved in local government and was a positive and active member of the community. Unfortunately his accent, no matter how hard he tried, still presented him with some awkward moments; one was when he told a neighbor that he had blue shits on his bed. Our friend made a point of being informed of all issues and diligently investigated those who ran for office before casting his vote. To Juan the person who would be filling the position had an extremely important role. That person was responsible for carrying out his or her duties in accordance with the will of the people as long as in office.
The “office” to Juan was more important than the person who filled it. People come and go and some will do a good job, some not so good but the office is a symbol of what our country stands for. We have the right to vote for those we wish to oversee our well being whether it is the local school board or the highest “office” in the land.
This year in particular we have seen and heard grown-ups acting like spoiled rotten children climbing over each other bodies to attain the chance of holding one particular high office. Because of all the mud slinging and other slime they are generating, that mountain to the top has become difficult to navigate and their antics to grab our attention has run the gamut from amusement to outrange among those of us who must choose who we feel would represent us best.
I can’t help but think back to Juan and how hard he worked to become a citizen of the United States and how seriously he took his responsibilities as a voter. He was proud of his new home and proud of its Constitution and flag. He looked up to our governing officials to oversee our country and its laws with dignity and strength and to maintain our place as the greatest nation in the world.
RESPECT. RESPECT is something earned, not given. You DON’T get RESPECT by degrading your opponents, nor do you get it by lying, cheating, bullying or back-stabbing. You DON’T get RESPECT for going with the variable, fashionable trends of the few. You DO get RESPECT by at least trying to do what’s right for America. You DO get RESPECT for listening to the people you’re supposed to represent. Do you see anyone out there in the running that Juan might consider? We need to put RESPECT back in the office before it’s too late.