PORCH SWING POINT OF VIEW: Uncertain Times Call for Unlikely Friends


When my wife and I purchased our home a few years ago, I chose to take the “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” approach. As any homeowner will know, there is always something to be done. And if you can’t find anything, you’re not looking hard enough. And so, with that attitude, I began to seek out various laborers and technicians for our unique needs. In addition to the initial set-up of utilities like water, power, gas, and wired communications, I also called upon pest control for routine service, a security company for fire and theft alarms, a company to service our furnace and air conditioning, and a roofing company for an inspection and eventual replacement of the roof. Remember… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

What I found with each of these companies and their representatives was unexpected. I called upon them in hope of finding a solution to each unique problem, which I did. But, in the meantime, I discovered folks just like me, working hard each day to support their families and just trying to make an honest living. During chats on the porch or in the living room, I discussed more with these people than just bugs and carbon monoxide. We talked about life, family, and yes, even politics from time to time (a principal no-no). We discovered mutual acquaintances and relations, we located towns we’d both visited, we uncovered philosophies startlingly alike. I found in the process of the preventative maintenance of a homeowner a host of unlikely friends.

Why should that be so startling? It seems to me we hear more and more each day about deep divisions in our nation, irreconcilable differences, hate and violence. Certainly, it’s not hard to imagine the world as a very cruel, dark place. Feeling as an island in a hostile sea is not an uncommon reaction. Where in this world are the good, decent people? People who, though we may not agree completely, work hard, live honestly, and love this land? They exist! And I found them by simply making sure my home was in good shape for the foreseeable future.

Winding my way through a bookstore a few months ago, a title snatched my attention. In bold, block print on the cover were the words, “In Search of America.” That struck me. I grew up in a patriotic home, I learned respect of the flag and of the veterans who fought to preserve the freedom that flag represents, I learned about hard work, and I learned that you were only as good as your world. But increasingly our world has turned away from those things. Patriotism is viewed as extremism, veterans are labeled hostile, freedom has vanished, hard work is for the few, and your word is well, just that, only words. That would cause any thinking person to go in search of America. 

Will you find it? The America of your youth? I doubt it. I certainly wouldn’t get your expectations too high. What you will find though are people who still hold similar values as you, they still get up early each morning to hit the pavement, still come home each night to dinner around the table, still volunteer with civic groups, still put their hand on their heart when the flag is raised, and are still proud of this land we call home. Yes, you’ll find all that and without searching too hard… I found it just maintaining our home.

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