You know, there is one thing I have learned that is truly exciting. It is simply this: if I am willing to spend time reading quality material in addition to talking to and listening to quality people, there is no limit to what I can learn. Here especially in my later years, I read a lot and associate with and listen to quality people.

Today I am blessed to share many worthwhile ideas with you and other readers because I take the time to prepare. To be sure, not all of my material is original but I always try to give credit to the author if I use quotes or ideas from others. I also understand that it is important to be reminded of things we may have known but have forgotten.

Some time back I received a letter from June Hawks Goins, who reads my column in The Southwest Times, published in Pulaski, Tennessee. She was responding to one of my columns and said it reminded her of a poem she had written, and she just wanted to share it with me. It is titled “THEY”. She went on to say that she was 85 years of age and had been writing, mostly poetry, since she was 16. With her permission I wanted to share the poem with you because it contains a very meaningful and important message.

It begins: “When others are unkind to me or sometimes downright rude, if I am met with stinging words or actions that are crude, Lord, do not let me react in kind and get my anger up. Please empty me of my response and fill me from your cup. When negatives assault me, Lord, with burdens hard to bear, help me to take them to your cross and gently leave them there. I’ll bet sometimes within the night THEY worry or THEY cry, and those of us who pass their way don’t know the reason why. So, Lord, today I pray for them -- for hurts I cannot see -- I ask you to bind up their wounds and set their spirits free.”

Thank you, June, that was beautiful and your poem carries such a deep and profound message. It reminded me of a prayer by the French Christian Monk Brother Lawrence (1614-1691), who said, “Prayer is the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen.”

But if I may, back to the sentiment of the poem as it pertains to conditions in our nation today. To be sure, there are millions of hurting people in America, and we come across some of them each day of our lives. I am thinking now of those people who are so mixed up and deranged they want to take the lives of as many people as they can. They shoot innocent people at a school or some other gathering where they can inflict the most pain and heartache. Obviously these people must be stopped before they get there or as soon after as possible. It is a sad day in America when we must have people with guns to confront these people and hopefully take them out before they kill someone. If you are an older person like me and June, you know we did not have any, or very little, of this when we were growing up.

From my perspective, again sadly, we are reaping what we have sown. Back in the 1960s we took prayer out of our schools and removed the Ten Commandments, and that began the downward spiral of removing God from the mainstream of public life. We have created a society where no one feels safe anymore. While it is guns that kill people, in every case it was a human being who pulled the trigger. Let’s love people more, add value to them, treat each other with dignity and respect we all deserve, and help to restore the values that made America the greatest nation in the history of the world.