People are still our greatest treasure

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By Larry Rowell

I, for one, am gloriously happy that the legislature finally enacted a bill that prohibits texting while driving.

It will not only make the road safer, but hopefully it will also urge people, especially kids, to learn to have a real-life conversation with others.

I’ve heard parents say that kids today just text and cannot carry on a face-to-face conversation. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but I suspect it is.

I have always enjoyed talking with strangers because everyone has a story to tell, and I have learned much over the years by interacting with them.

I remember the conversation that I had with a homeless man in France and what he taught me about how difficult it is to survive on the streets with no resources. He also taught me that you can lose everything and still maintain your dignity.

I paid rapt attention as I listened to a member of the World War II French Underground Movement and how they aided the allies, often to the detriment of their families.

There was also a village chief in west Africa who offered this counsel about women: “God created women for two reasons — to have children and to take care of them and the home.”

If you disagree, then don’t shoot me — I’m just the messenger.

I felt the heartbreak and tears of a World War II fighter pilot who told me the story of looking into the eyes of a young German pilot just before he shot down the German’s plane. To this day, he wonders about the German pilot’s mother and family — and yes, more than 60 years have passed, and he still sheds tears over the incident.

A member of “The Simple People” — either Amish or Mennonite — explained to me how members of his family design and manufacture huge steel-bending machines without the aid of computers.

He said he gleaned the information from books, manuals, a lot of trial and error and then added, “If I can do it, anyone can.” You think I didn’t come away from this encounter with a renewed belief in the power of the human entrepreneurial spirit?

And on Monday morning, a man came into our office and said he was walking across the country to raise awareness for a kids’ camp in North Carolina.

He’s already covered 14,000 miles, traversing 32 states and wearing out nine pairs of hiking boots.

I listened to story after story of how he has relied on the kindness of strangers to have a bite to eat or a place to lay his head for the evening.

He appeared to be well rested and amply fed, so I tend to believe what he said about how kind strangers have been to him.

So, turn off the TV, cell phone, iPad, iPod, computer and anything else that beeps, lights up or uses power and take time to smell the roses — or in this case, talk to a stranger. You just might learn something.

Larry Rowell is a writer for The Casey County News in Liberty, Ky.