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New Year’s Resolution – Love Life

Posted on Monday, January 1, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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29 Comments
new years resolution writing

We do not know what we have in life. Thirty-eight hears ago, when I was 25, I travelled to India to teach the Untouchables of Andhra Pradesh about their rights. The Indian Constitution, based on ours, balances liberty and equality for happiness. Article 14, like our 5th and 14th Amendment, assures equal protection.

Travelling from Bombay (now Mumbai) by train through Bhopal, on to Hyderabad (in central India’s Andhra Pradesh), then north to New Delhi, my young American eyes grew wide, sometimes watered.

More than a billion people called India home, now 1.4 billion. In cities, meridians at night were log bridges, humans side by side, no room. In remote villages, elders were rickety as a rickshaw, seemed in their late 90s. They were 40 tops, then died of typhoid, hepatitis, malaria, cholera, something.

Summer of 1985, Bhopal was a ghost town. Six months earlier, it saw the world’s worst industrial disaster, thousands dead, hundreds of thousands injured, many still dying then – accidental release of methyl isocyanate, a deadly pesticide. Cloud of the stuff swept the city, and left a path of mortality.

By the time my young eyes, heart, and brain reached those little, cutoff villages of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, compliments of an NGO (non-government organization), sleeping on the ground felt good.

But locals would not let me. They were generous by instinct, which lifted me. Via Tamil and Telugu translators, they insisted – after we got to know one another – on plying me with a “rope bed,” two feet high. Why? Beyond cobra reach.

During my stay, you would have thought life was not so bad, despite disease, discomfort, rice and chilies for food, the occasional mango, heat, flies, and reported misuse of the Untouchables (also called Harijans, or “Children of God”) as bonded laborers, intergenerational, inter-cast servitude.

Later, their stories travelled to New Delhi, where legal cases were brought before the Indian Supreme Court, seeking to make equal protection real. More immediately, their attitude struck me.

Here were kids who ran and laughed, adults who worked hard, died young, but thought life was good. Days we travelled, asked questions, ventured down the Godavari River, a doctor giving women iron shots for severe anemia.

Evenings were spent in the community hut, jute and shade – placemats of banana leaves, woven with vines, boiled rice, chiles, hot tea. We talked, they were curious.

They had never heard of America, of course, or skyscrapers, but tried to imagine. They had never heard of Bombay or New Dehi, knew nothing of their own country.

My skin was not their color, which intrigued them. It did not offend or worry them, but got them thinking about the color of animals and birds in my “native place.”

We talked about that, and they wondered other things, why mornings saw me running, why my tea needed extra boiling, what brought me here, my home. They shared stories, sang, laughed, more tea, asked for nothing, shared their beliefs, were interested in mine.

In a strange and welcoming way, they wanted to know what I knew, but also felt responsible for me. They wanted no bad thing to come to me, respectfully doted on the stranger.

As summer progressed and time came for leaving, those travelling with me made clear our gratitude, made sure they knew good would come from this, and it did.

But the most remarkable thing to me was just how little they had, and yet how glad they were for it, not in a comparative sense but in absolute terms, ready to share.

From the world’s poorest came smiles, songs, and generosity, a kind of self-measurement by hospitality, as if a larger presence guided them. And no self-pity.

On return, by jeep to Hyderabad, train to New Delhi, flight to New York, my mind spun – and does now at times, seeing how little many appreciate America’s blessings, and the sacrifices that created them. At JFK, a well-dressed man, headphones, no malnutrition, no flies, no snakes, pushed a cup at me, unhappy.

Despite time’s passage, or refreshed by the modern tendency to think we are all owed something, the contrast still hits me – some grateful for little, others never.

As a new year arrives, my resolution is to be content with less, more grateful, at peace with simple things, living in a land that aspires to liberty and equality, and good memories. We do not know what we have. Look around, and love life.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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CYNTHIA
CYNTHIA
3 months ago

As I am a 24-hour caregiver 7 days a week for my 96 year old mother with dementia and my sister does nothing but sit in her high mansions with all her money while I sit here damn near on welfare all I can say is this I try very hard to appreciate everything I have and I will always know matter what love my country and love my freedom and love my Donald Trump

SusanW
SusanW
3 months ago

What a wonderful and heartwarming message for the beginning of 2024! Thank you, Bobby! I had a similar experience in my younger years in Venezuela and learned early on that it’s not about how much money or materialistic things you have in life, but the ability to be delighted by the gift of wonder which cost nothing! It fills your heart with hope, promise, and the feeling that anything is possible. Less is always more in my heart. Seeing a meteor shower in the night sky, a rainbow after an ominous storm, or the glistening of a fresh snow are all examples of the power of wonder. Each of us has the ability to make a difference in the lives of others. Let’s make 2024 a year where God is the greatest wonder we will ever know and we will all come together as a nation and once again, become the global beacon of equality and liberty. Happy 2024 to all of you!

Ron
Ron
3 months ago

So true. Victimhood in America is so destructive.

Bertie
Bertie
3 months ago

What inspirational words! I love how you write and can speak for the common man (woman), Mr. Charles.

Sean Rickman
Sean Rickman
3 months ago

YES,love life while we still have our country!!!!!!!!

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
3 months ago

Mathematics is a form of reasoning . Realizing the value of simplifying complex equations helps to put an understanding of the mathematical procedures ,the reasoning in the right perspective. Appreciating the idea of freedom , to truly understand how the idea of self- determination has a part in our thinking everyday. Joy brings ideas to us and that sense of joy is something that can build an outlook on life that is at peace with other aspects of life that initially appear to be complex . The thought process that keeps things in balance helps in understanding how to approach all manner of developments that effect life in various ways and need adjustments . An appreciation of truth has much to do with achieving understanding. Faith that God will help in healing – mind, body ,spirit when needed – and faith that God will help in understanding what is needed to be understood . Very good article , very important for the soul and spirit.

Howard
Howard
3 months ago

When I was a wee little lad and growing up, we lived in an old house that leaked when it rained, situated on the edge of the woods that contained bobcats, wolves, and an occasional black panther. We had no running water or indoor facilities, heat was from a fireplace in the living room and wood stove in the kitchen, from which Mom cooked all our meals. The ice man would come by every day to leave us a block of ice to put in our wooden ice box. We drew water from a well in the back yard. Mom washed our clothes in a huge cast iron pot over a fire near the well. We had no electricity, so we used kerosene lamps. We wore shoes only in cold weather, even going to church barefoot, since shoes had to last. Mom would make occasional trips up the gravel road to where people from town brought their trash and dumped it over in the ditch. She would pick out things that still had some use, such as brooms and mops. She was an amazingly strong woman, a loving disciplinarian, with a dry sense of humor, who lived to the ripe old age of 91.
We were about as poor as poor can be, be we didn’t know it. We had plenty of food which we grew on the farm and Mom cooked on the cast iron stove. We had sufficient clothing which Mom made using an old Singer manual pump sewing machine. We had good friends around us who didn’t look down on us. Dad was on the road a lot, driving an old International truck trying to made a little money hauling things for other people. I suppose you could say that we were rich in the things that mattered.

DonS
DonS
3 months ago

RBC,
I had fifteen years of seniority with the corporation responsible for that Bhopal disaster!
The division I was with was not connected with the gas division. I had worked my way up in the division and lost my job, thanks to a group of incompetence idiots producing the insect killing product! The International law suit financially destroyed that corporation! The division I was with produced solid-state laser rods and sapphire substrates for the semi-con industry and had large military contracts, all gone due to the Bhopal management!

Thanks for your personal observation on the effects caused by that deadly gas discharge! I felt sick when I first learned of it during the 1980s!

Bowl Season Poll
Bowl Season Poll
3 months ago

Bowl Seasan is here. What’s your favorite?

A) Federal Express Orange Bowl
B) USF&G Sugar Bowl
C) Mobil Cotton Bowl
D) Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
E) AT&T Rose Bowl
F) Chick Filet Peach Bowl

Poverty tourist
Poverty tourist
3 months ago

Boo boo why does no one appreciate that you could be poor in America. Why doesn’t everyone just be happy. Lol

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
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