About Me

My photo

Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Journey; Our Story*

The ending of day, the beginning of night;
A moment in time;
A moment of life.
--R. F. Couey

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, October 11, 2009
as"Everyone Has a Story to Tell"

*Ada, OK Evening News, October 11, 2009

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

Recently, a legend of television journalism passed from this life. In 1968, Don Hewitt created the first “news magazine” for television, calling it “60 Minutes,” forever identified by the iconic image of a ticking pocket watch. 60 Minutes birthed the usual retinue of copycat programs, but none achieved the hard-hitting quality as the original, a power that remains undiminished today, in its 42nd remarkable season.

The stories were often complex and guaranteed to incite the righteous anger of the viewer. But however intricate the tale, Hewitt’s instruction to the producers and the reporters was deceptively simple:

“Tell me a story.”

The history of humanity is a vast collection of tapestries, upon which is recorded the journey we have all traveled, and shared. Some of these tapestries glitter with the light of notoriety and fame. Others hang muted and silent. But no matter how famous or obscure, each human has a story to tell. All these stories have in common triumph and tragedy, events that scale the heights of elation, and plumb the depths of sorrow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Laura Ingalls and the Lotos Eaters

Laura Ingalls
Photo from her estate collection

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey
Written content only

I grew up a devoted fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, she of the famous “Little House” books. Those cherished tomes chronicled the nomadic life of her pioneer family in the 1870s and 1880s.

The most remarkable element is the recounting of how hard their life was. Everyone worked, even the children; and not for wages, but for the sake of survival. They endured unbelievable privations, all without the safety net we take for granted.

The work was exhausting; their pleasures simple and few. And yet the family was bound by respect, honor, and love. Parents taught solid lessons of right and wrong, which the children took to heart. They learned from them the honor-bound promise to stand on their own two feet, never living off the hard work of others.

Their life provides a sobering comparison to the standards by which we live. Even the poorest among us live in houses that would have seemed palatial to the Ingalls family. A trip to our local grocery store or food pantry in the middle of winter would have left that pioneer family goggle-eyed. Electricity is delivered to our doorstep, as is water, the freshness and purity guaranteed. And despite our whining about health care, we no longer die from those diseases that ravaged entire towns back then..

Charles worked 160 acres with two horses and a plow. Up before dawn, he broke the ground, plowed the soil, and planted the seeds. He harvested by hand all that he could before the winter closed in. He cut and stacked acres of hay, fed and watered the livestock, and took odd jobs in the nearby towns as they came available, working until it was too dark to see. All by himself.

The Ingalls’ knew the value of education, sending the girls to school, and insisting on their studying hard each night by lamplight.

The Ingalls’ would be shocked at how comparatively easy our lives are. Today, we live in houses and apartments. While they’re not as grand as we would like, they’re mansions compared to anything the Ingalls’ lived in. We don’t have to hunt to survive. We don’t have to chop wood; just turn up the thermostat. We think 8 hours is a long workday, and we complain about working weekends.

But the one thing about our modern life that would likely shock Charles and Caroline Ingalls right down to their toes is our laziness.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Boycott Illegal Drugs!!!

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

Over the years, people attempting to change things they deem destructive have resorted to the practice known as the boycott.

The most well-known was the boycott of the Birmingham, Alabama bus system after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. It became the focal point for civil rights activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After a year of nearly-empty busses, the bus company changed the seating policy.

Other examples of successful boycotts include:
• Companies that did business with South Africa during apartheid
• Wal-Mart and Target for allegedly selling the products of sweat shops
• Tuna fisherman for failing to protect dolphins from seining nets
• Agricultural interests for exploiting immigrant labor.

Yet, there exists today an ongoing source of human misery which has been largely ignored.