INFLUENCE
A Song For Jerry's Kids


 "Just a song before I go, a lesson to be learned
  Traveling twice the speed of sound, it's easy to get burned...


        In the early 1980's, I made my home in Kings Beach, California, which is located a short distance from the Nevada border in north Lake Tahoe.  Having a healthy back then, I worked in commercial construction and indulged in various side trades on the weekends, such as tree cutter and 'rich-man's house fixer-upper', a rather lucrative specialty that is sometimes engaged in by the common working people in wealthy resort areas.  All things combined, working six and seven 10-12 hour days, I earned a fairly healthy income for those simple times and would think nothing of blowing a couple of hundred dollars in the various casinos and barrooms that inundate the general area.

        Even though since my senior year in high school I had not doubted that there is a Creator, I then truly believed in my heart that God doesn't much give a damn and having little direction or meaning in my soul, I was depressed most of the time.  Since I was normally exhausted in the evening from long hours of manual labor, I spent most of my free time either watching television or sitting on the porch, enjoying a cigar or two and observing the world go by, so to speak.  I would occasionally pay a visit to the local 7-Eleven store nearby to obtain some refreshments of sorts and there would be this face on a cardboard stand near a jar full of coins on the counter.  That face somehow seemed to have a life of its own; the eyes, having a faint twinkle of a smile, would stare back at me and say, "Please help my kids".

        There was a young man who lived at the lake whose body was severely contorted and twisted with the physical symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy.  He used to spend his days riding around the lake on his special bicycle, which had signs on it seeking donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  This brave young man would spend the entire year riding around the lake on this special bicycle collecting funds for Jerry's kids, even though it was obviously painfully hard work for him to do so.  Looking back, I imagine what he struggled to do was considerably more difficult than the six and seven-day workweeks I was putting in.  I used to work very hard, harder than most of my peers on construction crews and figured I was better and tougher than most, that is, until I came across this young man.  Though admiring him from afar, in spite of my abundance, I never once gave him a nickel.

        For several years after the high-rise construction work had come to a close at Lake Tahoe due to a building moratorium, I traveled from town to town and state to state, following the work around and basically remaining the same directionless, depressed, non-God-fearing individual I had come to be, continuing to think in my heart that God does not particular give a damn.  After all, since I had my health, some friends, some good times and plenty of money, what was it that God had ever done for me?  And whenever I would stop at a local 7-Eleven store, there was that same familiar face staring back at me from out of the cardboard sign, those same eyes would again, seem to come to life and they would continue to say, "Please help my kids".

        I would not wish to insinuate that the moneys raised by the Muscular Dystrophy Association are not of paramount importance; rather I think the least Americans who have their health and a steady job can do is to triple what we may have meagerly donated in the past and when the government pretends to care by giving us some sort of miserly tax refund, the best thing we can do with it is what a properly run government would have done in the first place---that is, use it toward the betterment of our nation's health.  But, the real value individuals such as Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., the young man on the bicycle above and Jerry Lewis provide is something called "INFLUENCE".  I reckon that Jerry himself has absolutely no idea how many jaded and dejected old bikers, social misfits and other assorted bar-people he has inspired to in some way, give back to the less fortunate and in doing so, he has helped us all to feel a little better about ourselves, hold our heads up a little higher and make our own way a little more merrily on down life's weary road.

        So remember the next time you stop in at your local 7-Eleven for a six-pack or two, pause to consider if you were the one in the wheel chair, the one with AIDS, the one who can't hear or see or the one who has no home, no shower, no phone, no job and no immediate hope of obtaining any of these, that you might be grateful if someone had shaken a few coins loose in the direction of your own particular problem.  For the influence of someone like Jerry Lewis and other similar humanitarians extends far beyond their own particular cause, whatever it might be. Those who Jerry has inspired to help his kids in our own small way have also gone on to help other areas of need as well and our own meager contributions have in turn, inspired others and so on and so on. . .

        It is wise to understand that our historically important examples of leadership in humanitarian, athletics, business, politics, entertainment and other areas of human endeavor did not achieve recognition on their own, for they all had a mother, a father, a brother, a friend and/or other individuals who influenced them toward love and positive effect along the way.  For the inspiration of one can lead to the encouragement of a great many and we never know when we are nice instead of mean, when we say "hello" instead of ignoring, when we compliment a small child instead of making him or her feel inadequate, that the one we are treating as we ourselves would like to be treated may indeed, be the next Mohandas Gandhi, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa or Jerry Lewis.

        There are not causes as if there were many, leading to confusion, nor is God divided by religions and philosophies nor other vain superstitions of the masses.  But there is one cause, given to us by the great Father of lights, from whom there is no variance, nor shadow of turning.  For as we would have people treat us, so also, we should likewise treat them. ¹   This is the great command and the true vision, the Just Cause and there is no other cause that matters, for as the wise author of Ecclesiastes taught, there is nothing better than that we should eat, drink and enjoy the good of our labor and that we should fear God and keep his commandments. ²   All of God's commandments and all valid issues are contained in this singular foundation of Human Rights, that we should love our brother and sister as ourselves. ³    When we help Jerry’s Kids, we are helping the homeless and when we help the children of AIDS, we are standing for Human and Civil Rights and for protection and preservation of the environment of our children's future.  For to ignore our neighbor is to ignore the God who created our neighbor and truly, there is no way to care about our Creator other than for us to treat his creation as we ourselves, wish to be treated.

        Be not deceived by vain persuasion of religious perversion or intellectual mockery of deception, for a vote for Jerry's Kids is a vote for Noah and a vote for Noah is a vote for Abraham and a vote for King Cyrus of Persia.  A vote for King Cyrus is a vote for King David, a vote for Confucius and Lao-Tzu of China and Buddha and Asoka of India.  And a vote for these is a vote for Socrates, Leonardo, Shakespeare and Einstein; a vote for true science, true philosophy and true education.  A vote for the search for the truth is a vote for Isaiah, a vote for Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Anwar Sadat, Nelson Mandela and Cesar Chavez.  And a vote for these great champions of Human Rights and peace is a vote for Albert Schweitzer, Jonas Salk, Samuel Clemens, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Jacques Cousteau.  And a vote for any of these is a vote for Peter, Paul and Mary, Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Abraham Lincoln and the Creator of Mount Rushmore.

        To sit in council with these is to practice true patriotism and in turn, is a vote for Danny Thomas, Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John and Ryan White, Comic Relief, Farm Aid, Live Aid, George Harrison and Sir Bob Geldof, friend of Mother Teresa and the impoverished nations of Africa.  And a vote for all of the above is a vote for our beloved friend Jerry, America's good Samaritan and great friend and patriot of Mount Rushmore, who in the tradition of King David and the mighty prophets of Israel, is truly a man after our Father in heaven's own heart.

        And let no man or woman deceive you, for there is one Creator and God, our Father in heaven and there is one true and Just Cause, for this is the sum of the whole matter, that we should love our neighbor ourselves.  For in practicing such, we will not steal, we will not rape, we will not murder, nation will not rise up against nation and we will not destroy the fragile home of our children's future.  There is a voice from the thunder of Elijah's fire, sounding from the ancient land of Persia.  Echoing from the nations of Europe, from Russia and India, China and other countries of the Far East, boomeranging from the Australian Outback and reverberating from the drums of Soweto.  A voice of many waters, emanating from the great rainbow of Noah's ancient ark, sounding around the globe and back and hiding among the American patriots whose faces are carved on the face of Mount Rushmore.  And this voice says: "Please help my kids."  And may the great circle of the friends of mercy, love, peace, justice and freedom be unbroken. *

 ...Just a song before I go, a lesson to be learned." 4


Muscular Dystrophy Association


DEDICATED TO:  Kasey and Jean Kasem and to Ed McMahon, long-time friends and contributors to our Creator's great love network.


Credits:

1. Luke 6:31 (paraphrase).

2. Ecclesiastes 2:24, 5:18, 12:13-14, paraphrase.  Most religious people who study the Bible tend to greatly water down and twist what it actually says toward the bias of their own narrow traditions; i.e., most can not fathom that the true God might actually wish for us to truly enjoy ourselves, as noted in particular in Ecclesiastes and Song Of Solomon, but also referenced elsewhere.  On the other hand, most intellectuals tend to scoff at and dismiss Biblical concepts such as "fear" and "holy" in relation to God, in truth, not comprehending what these terms represent.  Though these terms are multi-faceted, meaning several things in various contexts, it is perhaps proper to define the "fear of the Lord" among other things, as meaning one who gives ear to God out of respect that our Creator probably knows more than religion, education and science, what is correct for our own health and happiness.  Likewise, the word "holy" is often referenced in the Bible in relation to acknowledging the "true God" (YHWH--"I AM") rather than worthless "gods" that cannot help us.  Old and New Testament authors tended to themselves scoff at astrology, mediums and vain religious rituals found in various cultures (vain that is, because they realize no practical benefit), as well as to worthless erudite education with no practical application for actually helping in the real world ("I count them as dung"---i.e., bullshit).  Holy by definition, it would seem, is that which is true and correct and proper in true perspective as to what will make us happy, healthy and whole. "Holy" and "common sense" are not synonymous terms, as often what is believed by the masses for generations to be true is not correct toward positive improvement.  However, that which is holy makes perfect logical sense when understood in correct perspective toward practical application in our everyday existence; "the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable".

3. From Ecclesiastes, Jesus and the authors of the Old and New Testaments combined.

4. "Just A Song Before I Go" by Graham Nash; CSN (1977).


*FootNote: Inspired by the most influential and ongoing commitment of American actor, comedian and humanitarian Jerry Lewis.  Some would revere saints, preachers, pontiffs and prelates, while most of the rest of us owe our sanity (such as it is) to Jerry.  Jerry doesn't pretend to be a saint--that's why we barroom folk like him.


           


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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