by Bruce A. Smith
Today I received a pithy email from a friend, extolling the virtues of a charismatic conservative. It was one of many, and usually I just delete them and smile, but not today.
Below is the email message attributed to Bill Cosby, the famous American comedian and TV performer. It is titled, “I’m 83 and I’m tired.”
My response follows after Coz’ rant, ’cause I’m tired, too.
“I’m 83 and Tired”
I’m 83. Except for brief period in the 50’s when I was doing my National Service, I’ve worked hard since I was 17. Except for some serious health challenges, I put in 50-hour weeks, and didn’t call in sick in nearly 40 years. I made a reasonable salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, it looks as though retirement was a bad idea, and I’m tired. Very tired.
I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.
I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor”; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers,” of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery,” of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.
I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in Australia , New Zealand, UK, America and Canada, while no one from these countries are allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country to teach love and tolerance.
I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate.
I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses or stick a needle in their arm while they tried to fight it off?
I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of all parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.
I’m really tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.
I’m also tired and fed up with seeing young men and women in their teens and early 20’s be-deck themselves in tattoos and face studs, thereby making themselves un-employable and claiming money from the Government.
Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 83. Because, mostly, I’m not going to have to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for my granddaughter and their children. Thank God, I’m on the way out and not on the way in.
(Editor’s Note: My friend added the next few lines:)
“I’m 83 and I’m tired. If you don’t forward this you are part of the problem”
There is no way this will be widely publicized, unless each of us sends it on! This is your chance to make a difference.
“This should be required reading for every man, woman and child in Jamaica, the UK, United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and to all the world..”
“Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.”
“HI, FAMILY AND FRIENDS. JUST HAD TO SEND THIS ONE BECAUSE IT FITS.”
I’m tired, too.
by Bruce A. Smith
I’m 62, and I’m probably as tired as Bill Cosby.
I’m tired because all my life I’ve had to listen to judgmental, self-righteous folks tell me how it is.
I’m tired because all my life I’ve had to deal with people who called me a loser because I displayed compassion towards others.
I’m tired because my father was a life-long Republican, voting against every politician who supported Medicare and Social Security, I think, yet it was only those programs that kept him alive until he was 90.
I’m tired because I had to accept his pale hypocrisies, listening to him entertain me with his WWII stories at 11 pm, eating peach ice cream at the family kitchen table.
I’m tired because all my life people have called me unpatriotic for not joining the Army and running off to kill people in foreign lands.
I’m tired because all my life I’ve had to cope with people who can not discern the deeper truth of what people are saying, or see the pain underneath the thievery and deceit of the world.
I’m tired because all my life conservatives have been telling me that they are concerned about fiscal responsibility but all they really want is people like me dead.
I’m tired because all my life I’ve had to tolerate folks who tell me that they oppose abortion and yet feel joy when a prisoner is executed.
I’m tired because so many Americans can’t stand to hear a word of Spanish spoken and cringe when they walk into JC Penny’s at the Tacoma Mall and see only brown and black faces.
And adding insult to injury Coz has the gall to tell me I’m part of the problem.
But there is hope because Coz has no idea how big a part of his problem I am. I have been resisting his attacks for a long time and I have grown strong. No longer do I think that there is something wrong with me. In fact, I have grown proud and strong knowing that I have the courage to listen to combat vets tell me how much they like killing and how good the sex was in Vietnam, and I know it is highly unlikely that Coz has ever heard that level of honesty from anyone.
I grow stronger every day knowing the value of my nobility.
I grow stronger every day because I know I cherish truth, and I truly realize how risky it is to hope for our goodness to blossom.
I grow stronger every day knowing that I value love and tolerance and forgiveness above all else.
I grow stronger every day because I know that I am dedicated to the greatest good for the greatest number.
I grow stronger every day because I can allow Coz his caustic attitudes. I’ve had a lot of practice. I may be tired, but I’m ready.
Bruce A. Smith
June 13, 2012
Addendum, August 31, 2012:
Many readers have commented on my remarks about my father. Here is an expansion on my relationship with my father and a fuller explanation of what I characterize as his “pale hypocricies.”
I think that the primary responsibility of a father to a son is to protect him. Regarding Vietnam, my father did not do that. Rather, he encouraged me to enter the military – not because he thought it was necessary somehow to go kill commies in the jungles of SE Asia, but because it was the smart thing to do socially and politically back home.
My father loved the Army, and he loved talking about it. Much of the time I enjoyed listening to him because I loved hearing how he treasured his experiences. But my father’s WW II storytelling contained a disturbing disconnect as it rarely included the fact that killing was the underpinning of his grand adventure. Further, he never seemed to realize that his encouragement for me to follow a career path that included a military stint – ideally as an officer – could very well lead to my death or that I would be compelled to kill others. Both options I profoundly abhorred, but my father never recognized those attitudes. Nevertheless, we “soldiered on” in life, both of us eating peach ice cream – with me listening and he doing all the talking.
This posting about a purported right-wing diatribe by Bill Cosby is causing quite a stir, and is registering at least 50 hits a day at the Mountain News – and has done so for the past several months. As a result, I want folks to know that the Mountain News learned long ago that Mr. Cosby did not write the commentary attributed to him and in fact, he has refuted the writings and their message.
Further, the real author may be in doubt as well, although it is widely reported that a state representative from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may have penned some of the original sentiments over a decade ago.
As many have suggested, the Mountain News has investigated the subject further. With the heavy traffic here it seems important to direct readers of this post to that one:
Continuing, the sentiments expressed in the above “I’m 83 and I’m tired” essay resonates with lots of folks. I recognize that and I ponder what it all means. Further, in light of the shock wave blasting from Mitt Romney’s comments a few days ago that 47% of American households don’t pay federal income taxes and that proves they are super-moochers, it seems important to expand the original posting with these further comments.
Readers, please realize that I know that many Americans are angry that so many of us are dirt poor and need so much help. But to call our benefits “entitlements” or suggest they are undeserved is incorrect.
Some facts: I collect social security, Medicaid health care and 90 bucks worth of food stamps a month, and get around on paratransit. I live on $805 a month. These monies are not ill-gained. Long ago I made a deal with America – I would work hard and pay my taxes, and if and when I ever needed a helping hand, then society would extend me one.
I consider that agreement a business deal. I made a contract with my fellow citizens and for forty years I kept my end of the bargain. Now, I’m broke and dealing with a slew of health issues. So, why are so many bitching about my expectations and showing me and people I care about so much disrespect, as many of the following comments reveal.
Addendum, December 7, 2012
There has been a lot of reproach expressed concerning my attitudes towards my father, so by way of greater explanation of my relationhip with him, I thought I might post my eulogy of my dad, Alan Smith. from his funeral in January 2007.
Eulogy for my Father
January 23, 2007
My father died as he lived- no muss and no fuss; a simple, straight forward life with little drama at the end.
But, by simple I do not mean he was a simple man – far from it. Rather, he loved life in a simple way. He was a rare man, one who truly loved living – especially those moments of good company, family times, or swimming at Fire Island or Squam Lake. He understood nuance but rarely practiced it. What you saw was what you got; he was that kind of guy.
For those who don’t know the details of my father’s passing, let me say briefly that he wasn’t feeling well on Friday afternoon, January 19th. By the time our family friend Richard came over to go out to their previously scheduled dinner date, Dad was nauseous, weak, couldn’t feel his extremities, and was having chest pains. Instead of our favorite Italian – Umberto’s – they went to St. Francis Hospital. He received three stints to open blocked arteries, but by morning his heart gave out and he was gone.
All of us here, I am sure, know full well how generous and dependable my father was. And I suppose that all of us have been touched personally by those wonderful aspects of my father. I certainly was.
When I was a kid, Dad was one of the regular drivers to Camp Wauwepex, taking me and a car full of Boy Scouts out on our monthly camping trips. At home, he was always ready to throw the ball around, and he surprised everyone at his 90th birthday last summer when BJ asked him what his greatest experiences were in those years. He replied, “Being a Little League coach.” It shocked us because he was supposed to say being married to my mom, but he didn’t. That was Dad. And to boot, as he would say, he wore his Babe Ruth League coach’s hat nearly everyday for 40 years. It’s probably the one piece of clothing he never lost or misplaced. I even saw him wearing it in two pictures last night at the viewing.
I benefited particularly from his generosity, particularly during my efforts to develop a performing career. My move to Nashville was directly funded by Dad; he pumped well over ten grand into that effort. And that gift was particularly sweeter knowing how he had changed to become closer to me. When I was a kid he often tried to dissuade me from the creative life, admonishing me to get a real job and not be just another unemployed actor in New York City. And I had changed too, no longer hoping he would become the father I wanted, but rather accepting him as he was. So, I want to celebrate our mutual growth and the good times that came out of that.
Now that he is gone, it is obvious to me that he was always around. Last night, my sister and I talked about how these past few days are the first time my dad hasn’t been around since 1960 when he went on a three-day business trip to Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin.
Yet, he wasn’t a homebody, at least in the strict sense. He traveled with Mom to Japan, Alaska and all through Europe – from the Arctic Circle to Rome. But he enjoyed home best, especially summer evenings on the porch eating peach ice cream, or going for a swim at the town pool.
My sister also remarked, as have others, how much my father would have enjoyed the gatherings of the last few days – the conversations, the good food, the sweet reunions with old friends and family.
But, he is gone. And yet, his leaving has taught me one more powerful truth. He’s gifted me one last time, from beyond the grave, if you will.
I know now, more clearly and with greater conviction, that we are all on a journey. I’m on mine, you are on yours, and Dad has started a new one. His journey here in human form is over, and although it is shocking to realize he isn’t here, his leaving has a blessed lesson.
When I looked at his body at the viewing yesterday, it was so very clear to me that his spirit was gone- that which make him who he was and have his body life. And that experience tells me profoundly that life is bigger than just what we see around us – what we feel and experience in this human life – the job, the kids, paying the mortgage, walking on the beach, our friends and loved ones. There is so much more than that; our spirits are so powerful and beautiful that when they leave the body it is so obvious they have left to go to another realm, one that is equal to that majestic beauty and power. So in his simple, quiet way, my Dad has taught me, just by leaving, one more important truth.
Bruce A. Smith
Coz and Me, when we were younger and not so tired…