Every day we see and hear a lot that we donï¿½t like, but what are we for?
That question occurred to me during a family vacation that included a stop at the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma. We learned about his rope tricks, vaudeville act, humor, and common-sense philosophy (ï¿½I never met a man I didnï¿½t like.ï¿½). One of his lines stayed with me all the way back home:
ï¿½I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.ï¿½
The legend about the huckster selling something he doesnï¿½t own is usually told to mock the victim of the con. But Rogers took a different view of the story.
One of the worst things you can call someone these days is a ï¿½chumpï¿½ or ï¿½sucker.ï¿½ Meanwhile, popular culture often celebrates people who are mean, ethically vague, or plain criminal.
That Will Rogers quotation from the early part of the last century reminds us which side we ought to be on.
A more recent example of active decency comes from a news story out of Italy early this summer. Professional tennis player Andy Roddick won the Rome Masters when the officials called his opponentï¿½s serve out-of-bounds. But Roddick disputed the call. The ball was in, he told the officials. So play resumed and Roddick lost the match.
ï¿½I didnï¿½t think it was anything extraordinary,ï¿½ said Roddick.
I hope the sportsmanship behind what Roddick did is ordinary. But sticking to his code when it threatened a high-stakes win is extraordinary. The simple, everyday values he stuck to under pressure are worth recognizing and celebrating.
I think you can find those values on display around your home and around the state. We write about a couple of examples in this Kentucky Living. This month, you can read about the efforts and teamwork of Kentuckians helping their communities by restoring historic downtown theaters.
Also this month, youï¿½ll find a feature on communities helping themselves by showcasing their local agricultural heritage through festivals.
Take some time this summer to visit one of those festivals. Then, on the way home, if you should see a field of kids playing baseball or soccer, stop and watch. And when the game ends and the opposing teams line up to shake hands with each other, stand and applaud. Thatï¿½s something to be for.