OPINION –When Andy Griffith passed away last week; we learned something about the increasingly politicized state of American culture.
Many people expressed sadness about the loss of a beloved entertainer who never had to stoop to gutter humor to get a laugh. But there was a bitter, outspoken segment of society that jeeringly expressed approval at his passing.
The reason? Andy Griffith had publicly expressed his support for the president’s health care law.
To those who view the world through a highly partisan filter, Griffith’s support of an unpopular law completely erases any good the man may have done in his true calling as an entertainer. Put another way, it only takes a single “oops” to wipe out a lifetime of “attaboys.”
But the real problem here isn’t with Andy Griffith. It’s with those who insist on seeing everything through the lens of their pet ideology. That’s the telltale mark of an ideologue.
In reality, Andy Griffith contributed a great deal of good to the world during his lifetime. His considerable talent as a comedian, a singer, and as a television star was based in a wholesomeness that is conspicuously absent in Hollywood today.
Critics try to dismiss the idyllic setting of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry as impossibly unrealistic. But the laughs of those who watched the Andy Griffith Show were as real as could be. His program offered a respite from the workaday world and a good laugh at human nature. Families could watch this TV show together without concern that their children were being indoctrinated in sexual or violent themes. There were no political agendas afoot like we see in today’s sitcoms.
In this sense, Andy Griffith was a statesman in his chosen realm.
Far too many people today view statesmanship in a purely political sense when, in reality, its influence can be observed in every realm of life. It can take the form of healing the sick, educating the ignorant, liberating the captive, proclaiming truth, creating beauty or any other endeavor that impacts mankind for the better.
Statesmen bring character and moral courage into every aspect of our society including business, clergy, law, medicine, academia, media, government or family. It’s something that each of us can do, if we choose. But too many people choose to hide their light from the world believing that they are too small to have impact.
It was Alexander Solzhenitsyn who noted that, “far from ordinary souls are concealed in deceptively ordinary exteriors.” To come to that realization about others, and ourselves we must be willing to challenge the common definitions of success and find and nurture the seeds of greatness within each of us.
What we really need is the courage to act.
Consider the example of Sophie Scholl who in 1943, along with other members of the White Rose Society, mounted a risky leaflet and letter campaign urging their fellow German citizens to reject the madness of the Nazis. The group was arrested by the Gestapo, convicted of crimes against the state and executed. At her show trial, Sophie stated, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is believed by many others. They just do not dare express themselves as we did.” In her final statement before her execution, she asked, “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause?”
Effort is required to develop the necessary virtue to calibrate our moral compass and our character. Exceptional effort is required to learn and apply the wisdom of the great minds that have shaped human history. It takes real effort to learn the art of diplomacy that we might build bridges to those who don’t see things as we do. And finally, it takes sustained effort to generate the courage required to act rightly and to persevere when necessary. If we wish to inspire greatness in others, we must first be willing to pay the price of greatness ourselves.
There is a Hasidic saying to the effect of: “Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.” That’s worth remembering.
Andy Griffith’s life was not spent shilling for a particular piece of legislation. Instead, he followed his heart and positively changed the world through his unique talents. The message for those who tend to see political implications in everything is simple: “Lighten up. Life is more than just politics.”
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.