Whiffle Ball Bats, Stolen Eggs and a Failed Political Strategy

It seems like just yesterday. August 1973. I had come home from another miserable day at school where I had been bullied and pushed around by Jon Jon. As we sat at the dinner table and my dad asked me why I was so quiet, I tried to ignore his questions and not talk about what had happened that day on the playground. Seeing right through my pain and fear, my dad continued to press me for the cause for my silence.
Digress here for just a minute. Anyone that knows me today, knows that I am very rarely at a loss for words. At eight years old, there was not a lot that was different. I guess I embraced early on in my life a simple mindset – why use only use 100 words to describe your day when 1,000 can paint a much more colorful picture. Now, back to the story…
My dad knew that silence and I rarely hung out together, so on this night my silence spoke louder than any words I could say. After a little more nudging I began to describe the afternoon’s events to my dad and how they had happened three times prior since school started earlier that month.  
Each day at 1:10 p.m. we would head to the playground for 50 minutes of PE. What that typically meant was we would head to the playground so our teacher could get a much-needed 50 minute break from our constant mindless chatter. On this day, it was free day which meant a basket of balls and other assorted play toys were brought to the outdoor basketball court. As was my standard practice, I grabbed the plastic whiffle ball bat. And just like it had happened during every other free playtime since school started, Jon Jon strolled over to where I was playing and demanded I give him the bat or parts of my anatomy would be reconstructed by him and his friends.
Another pause in the narrative…I was not always 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds. In third grade I was more like three-feet tall and maybe 50 pounds soaking wet. Jon Jon on the other hand, was a fourth-grader that had been held back a year and was easily 6’6” and 300 pounds. OK, maybe he wasn’t THAT BIG! But in my eyes, he was.
I explained to my dad how it started in Week One when he took the basketball from me; in Week Two he took the same whiffle ball bat that he had taken on this particular day; in Week Three he again told me that the bat was “his” bat and what parts of my body he would break if I didn’t hand it over. When dad asked where my teacher was through all of this I told him I wasn’t sure and that it was a free-time play period so no adults were really present.
To this day my dad is one of the gentlest men that I’ve ever known in my life. He taught me very early in life that the only man that ever wins a fight is the one that walks away before the first punch is thrown. That being said, he also taught me that if you do need to throw a punch, don’t ever flinch, don’t wait and don’t ever back down. Brad Pitt may have made the movie called Fight Club, but Lloyd Randolph taught me Rule #1 of the “real world” fight club – there is no such thing as a fair fight. Swing hard, swing often, if it’s not nailed down grab it and use it and whatever you do – NEVER, EVER, EVER go backwards. Always move forward until the “enemy” surrenders.
As my dad began to describe to me what he expected me to do the next time we had “free play day,” I argued that I couldn’t do that because Jon Jon was much bigger than me. I let him know that Jon Jon had friends and they would probably jump on me if I tried to do anything different. It was at this point that my dad relayed a story to me about his childhood that was probably not true, but I’ve never forgotten. It is THIS story that is a great picture of where we are as a country today and what we must do if we are to change the course that we are on as a passive nation.
My dad began to tell me about a night very early in his teen years when someone broke into his family’s East Tennessee barn and stole eggs from their chickens. My dad grew up during The Depression and was the middle son of a share-cropper. Food to them was priceless! The next morning when my Papaw heard the news, he gathered my dad and his brothers to go and hunt down the culprit. The boys being boys, felt this was not as important as playing in the woods or hunting squirrels. So they did nothing.
The next night, thieves returned and this time stole the chickens. The next morning the boys were a little more upset and Papaw was adamant that they needed to go and find the egg thieves. All my dad and his brothers could harp on, was that someone had stolen the chickens. Who cares about the eggs!
Daddy then described how two nights later a burglar broke into their house and stole all the food right out of the refrigerator and pantry. The next morning with no food in the house and the boys hungry and upset, Papaw once again said that they needed to go and find the egg thief and again, my dad and his brothers thought my Papaw was out of his mind focusing on the egg issue.
Papaw then explained to his sons that while they were probably dealing with the same thief on all three instances, there was a chance that they were not. In either case when the boys made the decision to do nothing about the stolen eggs earlier in the week, they sent a very clear message to the thieves and to the other bullies in the community – we will not stand up for ourselves until it REALLY HURTS! The repeat visits by the burglars were a direct cause of him and his brothers doing nothing on that first day they had discovered the stolen eggs.
The message that my dad taught me that day was the same message that my Papaw taught him and his brothers - as long as I was not willing to stand up to Jon Jon, I was sending a clear message to him and anyone else that was watching him take that bat from me. That message was that I am an easy target; I will not fight back; I will roll over when pushed and you can take from me whatever you want whenever you want.
Now we turn the page to 2015 and the last few years of a failed political strategy to not engage our enemies; to not stand for what is right; to be more concerned about being politically correct than being morally steadfast; to paint things with the broad brush of racism, class warfare and hate but ignore the reality that we are being overrun by an ugly cancer called radical Islam and domestic terrorism. We sit back and watch thousands of innocent men, women and children in the Middle East being murdered by ISIS in the same land that many American soldiers paid the ultimate price of their lives to secure and defend, all while now refusing to stand up for those that have no voice; we will fight for a woman’s “right to choose,” but we will do nothing for a living, breathing child’s right to live as terrorists cut off his head because he will not renounce his faith in Christ. Our President will stand in the Rose Garden and speak words of condolences to the families of three civilians that were killed by law enforcement officers and call into question those police officer’s motives prior to any investigation occurring, but he will not speak out against a radical Islamic terrorist that guns down four unarmed Marines in Chattanooga, TN. A sole deranged gunman enters a South Carolina church and murders nine people and we scream racism and gun control; the same instance happens with an Islamic soldier in Ft. Hood Texas and we call it workplace violence and acquiesce to his demands for religious freedoms while in prison.
With our current leadership’s lack of action, we have sent the same message to our enemies – both foreign and domestic – that my father’s family sent to the egg thieves and I sent to Jon Jon and his hooligans - we are an easy target; we will not fight back; we will roll over when pushed and you can take from us whatever you want whenever you want.
Exactly seven days later from that night at the dinner table, Jon Jon once again strolled across the playground to take the whiffle ball bat from during PE. Exactly seven days and one second later, I recalled the lesson my dad had taught me and decided it was time to deal with the guy that had stolen my eggs. Suffice to say that Jon Jon never attempted to take that bat from me again.
Our nation is at a very tender point in its life and we must decide if we are going to go after the guys that have stolen the eggs, chickens and all our food from the refrigerator, or if we’re going to wait until we have the entire house burning down before we say enough is enough.
I Choose Now!

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