Over the past few weeks, whenever I’ve been at home in time to get some sweet little hugs and put my daughter to bed, she’s only wanted to read four stories–out of the bookcase full of books–before turning out the light and snuggling into her blankets with the stuffed animal du jour. The four books? “Doggies,” meaning Disney’s 101 Dalmatians; “piggies,” meaning a copy of The Three Little Pigs which was once my own; “hop-hop,” meaning Jane Johnson’s Are You Ready for Bed?, a delightful book about a little rabbit that just doesn’t want to go to sleep; or “moon,” meaning Goodnight Moon, the wonderful old standby by Margaret Wise Brown. Recently, however, my two-year-old has whittled down the list to a single favorite:
“Piggies, daddy,” she’ll say, once she’s into her pajamas and realizes that, for her, the day is just about done. “PIGGIES!!”
And so we read.
For those of you who do not have children, those whose children are grown and do not remember, or those who simply have forgotten, The Three Little Pigs is about a trio of pig brothers who are cast out of the house by their pig mother to seek their fortunes on their own. Before they leave, however, mother pig warns her sons of the Big Bad Wolf, who “lives at the top of the hill and loves to eat little pigs.”
Upon reaching a fork in the road, the brothers go their separate ways. The first little pig, confronted with the dilemma of whether or not to build a proper house or frolic around and play all day, decides to build his house out of straw. He knows it’s not a good house or a strong house, but it doesn’t take him very long to build, using scissors and string, and that leaves him plenty of time to sing and dance and play for the rest of the day. The second little pig decides to build his house out of sticks, knowing that it may not be so strong, but the quick job allows him to sing and dance and play like his brother was doing. The third little pig, however, faces the same dilemma and decides to build a strong house – he installs a wood floor, a heavy wood door, and builds his walls and chimney out of bricks and mortar and blood and sweat and tears. A regular Bob Vila of the swine variety, it takes him a little while longer, but it is time well spent.
“Gosh, that took a long time,” the third little pig says, finally sitting and relaxing at the base of a tree stump. “But it’s a strong house, and now I have time to dance and play.”
The whole time, the three little pigs were being watched by the Big Bad Wolf, looking down upon them from his house at the top of the hill. The very next day, the hungry wolf comes a-knocking at the first little pigs’ door, demanding entry. While initially defiant, the first little pig has little choice but to run like hell to his brother’s house of sticks when the wolf, a jazz saxophonist when he’s not eating pigs or thinking about eating pigs, puffs his cheeks like Charlie Parker and blows that house of straw right down. Next, the Big Bad Wolf dons a sheep skin and approaches the second little pig’s house of sticks and, using a sweet voice to disguise his own, asks to come in. The second pig sees through the disguise, noticing the wolf’s red, angry eyes from behind the sheep’s skin, but as the wolf puffs his cheeks and blows down the house of sticks, he has little choice but to high-tail it–along with his nancy-boy brother with the blown-down straw house–to the third little pig’s house of bricks. Subsequently, the wolf knocks on the door of the brick house belonging to the third little pig. He’s hungry, and knows that only one more house separates him from a plate full of tasty bacon.
But the third little pig, confident in the work he put into the construction of his sturdy brick home, knows that he and his fruity little brothers are safe from harm.
“Go ahead and blow,” says the third little pig. “Blow your head right off, wolf.”
So he huffs and he puffs and he puffs and he huffs and he just … can’t … blow … that … brick … house … down. And when he tries to shimmy down the chimney like Santa Claus in pork rind withdrawal, the pigs are ready for him with a pot of boiling water in the fireplace below. At the end of the day, the Big Bad Wolf cannot sit right for a week and, needless to say, doesn’t quite have a taste for ham anymore.
Thirty years ago today, I was born in what is now Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, California (and I have the birth certificate to prove it). At that time, the sitting president of the United States, Jimmy “Dhimmi” Carter, had approximately a 30 percent approval rating, and America was, much like today, staring down the barrel of an energy and economic crisis.
Thankfully, Jimmy Carter went home to the peanut farm and, under President Ronald Reagan, America once again established the tradition of doing the right thing no matter how difficult.
Today, however, we seem to have forgotten the lessons of time gone by, and I cannot help but to think about our forgetfulness each and every time I read The Three Little Pigs to my daughter before she goes to bed. Today, we take shortcuts so as to return to our blissfully ignorant ways as soon as possible. Today, we cater to those who require political correctness and ask for handouts and petition government to ensure that power is kept as far away from the people as possible, mostly because it is difficult and unpopular to do otherwise.
Despite, for example, the economic, social and security problems caused by Ronald Reagan’s mistake in 1986 of providing blanket amnesty and the flood of illegal immigration which followed, we still do not address the problems faced by a nation without secure borders. So long as we refuse to lock the back door while sending our bravest and best men and women to fight and bleed and die halfway across the world in the sands of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan in the name of protecting our front door, we are refusing to do the difficult and correct thing. We are building the structure of our national security out of straw, and buttressing the foundation of our healthcare system and economy with sticks. We must shut the borders to illegal immigrants, enforce the laws on the books, and send those who break them back to the countries from which they came. It may not be easy and it may not be popular to tell young mothers and their children here in the United States, the land of freedom and opportunity, to go back to their lives in Mexico and beyond, but it is the right thing to do. Sealing the border, closing the loopholes, eliminating the magnets and returning discretion to the law enforcement officials who stand guard and protect us from invasion in the dark of night — that is the way to build our house out of bricks and mortar and blood and sweat and tears. That is the way to do the right thing, and by resisting the temptation to build our house out of sticks and straw so we can push these issues to the back of our mind and return to our blissful ignorance, we’re doing the difficult thing and ensuring that the big, bad wolf will stay outside of our house where he belongs, and stay out there for good.
With regard to the economy, we are taking taxpayer funds and bailing out companies deemed “too large to fail,” long-term consequences be damned. By devaluing our currency and setting the dangerous precedent of government intervention, by privatizing gains and socializing losses, we are rebuilding the foundation of the American economy with sticks and straw while the rest of the world watches from their houses abroad, just waiting for the next Big Bad Wolf to come and blow our house of sticks right down. We’re not doing the difficult thing, we’re not doing the right thing. We’re doing the easy thing, and as a result we are selling not only our banking institutions, not only our American values, but our national sovereignty and, worse yet, our very souls. Instead of doing the hard work now, instead of taking the time and feeling the pain and making the sacrifice necessary to build our new house out of bricks and mortar and blood and sweat and tears, we’re once again taking the easy way out, rebuilding our house out of straw and spit so we can just put it behind us and go back to our blissfully ignorant singing and dancing and playing the day away.
This election cycle, with its fruition looming just a little more than two weeks away, has been the most hotly contested of my lifetime. We’re at a point where I would imagine that more Americans now are more involved than they’ve ever been, their curiosity and willingness to learn bolstered by 24-hour news cycles and watercooler debates alike. Still, the difficult thing to do, the right thing to do, would be to get involved to the point where there are no surprises, where everything is known by as many people as possible. For the most part, however, the American voting public doesn’t want to do the difficult thing, the right thing, and would rather leave the hard work and due diligence to the mainstream media, the very same group who ripped apart the personal life of the ideologically different Joe Wurzelbacher the Plumber, investigating more in 24 hours a citizen who dared to ask a question of a presidential candidate than they had done in 24 months to the candidate in question, a man who has raised $605 million for his campaign despite refusal to fully address questions into his background and circle of friends. The winner of this presidential election will face down a domestic and global economic crisis, a continued threat from radical Islam, an uppity and dangerously nostalgic Russia, a fast-rising Red China, a rapidly deteriorating culture here at home, and not to mention will be in command of two distinct battlefronts in the Global War on Terror. Instead of building our house with brick and mortar and blood and sweat and tears, however, instead of demanding that our potential leaders be completely vetted in the way our own founding fathers would have wanted, we trust the biased, agenda-setting media to do it for us. We take their word as unequivocal truth. We willingly build our house out of sticks and straw, just daring for any number of big, bad wolves to come a-huffin and a-puffin.
It’s easy to hide behind political correctness, but difficult to ask tough questions amidst cries of racial intolerance. It’s easy to hide behind the new environmentalism, a front for global socialism, but difficult to make the tough decisions and set the ball rolling toward energy independence. It’s easy to blissfully sing and dance and frolic our way through life, but difficult to address the threat of fundamentalist Islam and acknowledge the difference between good and evil in the world. It’s easy to take from those who have made the most of their opportunity to provide handouts to those who have not, but difficult to understand that rewarding hard work—and vice versa—is better for us all in the long run.
Doing the right thing is rarely simple, rarely free of second-guesses and crises of conscience. Our founders fought and died in a desperate attempt to gain independence from tyrannical rule, and our fathers and grandfathers shed blood and lost lives in the mud and trenches of Europe and the South Pacific in order to preserve that freedom. Doing the right thing is rarely simple. Doing the right thing, however, is brutally important in the world we live in today. It may sound wonderful that the government will provide for cheaper college educations, free universal healthcare, new jobs for everyone and windfall taxes on profitable businesses that somehow will not affect those at the other end of the stream of commerce, but there is a difference between what sounds good and what sounds easy — and what is right.
I want my daughter to be able to grow up in and know the America that I grew up in and fondly remember. I want her to be rewarded for being successful, not just given a trophy for participation. I want her United States of America to be strong, economically, fundamentally and otherwise, and I am prepared to do the difficult thing, make the difficult decisions, weather the difficult sacrifices, and rebound and learn from failure after failure in an attempt to foster eventual success.
It is imperative that America revert back to the tradition of building its house out of bricks and mortar and blood and sweat and tears. It is imperative that Americans once again realize that sacrifice and hard times today result in prosperity and security tomorrow. Like it or not, the Big Bad Wolf is out there, he’s hungry, and he’s not alone. Perhaps if we remain ever conscious now, perhaps if we work hard now and make the necessary sacrifices now, then our children and grandchildren will be able to spend their days singing and dancing and frolicking in the greatest nation the world has ever known.
“Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf? The Big, Bad Wolf? The Big, Bad Wolf? Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf, tra-la-la-la-laaaaa…”