By Jim Whitt, Contributing Editor

A Galveston, Texas, newspaper ran a story about a woman and her pet parakeet named Chippie. It seems she was vacuuming the bottom of Chippie’s cage when the phone rang. Turning away from the cage to answer the phone, she continued to vacuum. She then heard the unmistakable sound of a large object being sucked into the vacuum cleaner.

You guessed it. The object was Chippie. The woman dropped the phone and rescued Chippie from the bowels of the vacuum cleaner. Chippie, stunned but still breathing, was covered with soot. In an attempt to restore Chippie to original condition, she raced to the bathroom and gave Chippie a high-pressure wash job under the sink. Chippie, now sparkling clean but soaking wet only needed to be dried off. The frantic woman spotted her hair dryer on the counter, fired it up and completed Chippie’s restoration with a blast of hot air.

A few weeks later the newspaper followed up on Chippie’s near-death experience and dispatched a reporter to interview the woman. “How is Chippie doing?” the reporter inquired. “Well,” sighed the woman, “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore. He just sits and stares.”

Chippie’s experience reminds me of the title to that old Audie Murphy war movie, To Hell and Back. Chippie had been there and done that.

The last few years have been a series of Chippie experiences for the human race. We were chirping along and bam, we got sucked into the pandemic, woke-culture vacuum cleaner. Then the government put masks on us, vaccinated us, gave us a high-pressure wash of leftist propaganda, dried us off with a blast of political hot air and put us back in our cage.

Then we’re treated to high prices, high inflation, supply chain constipation, a war in Ukraine and the beat goes on. But it’s a song we’re tired of hearing. Like Chippie, we don’t sing much anymore. We just sit and stare.

We feel a little like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. George is in trouble and God summons an angel named Clarence to help him. “Is he sick?” Clarence asks. “No,“ God answers. “It’s worse. He’s discouraged.”

I am an optimist, but the last few years have been discouraging. Contrary to the President’s assessment of the state of the union, our nation is in sad shape and things are getting worse, not better. The current state of the world is eerily similar to the state of the world prior to World War II.

When Winston Churchill warned the world that Germany was building a war machine in the 1930s, he was ridiculed in the British Parliament. That had to be discouraging but no one understood discouragement better than Churchill. He suffered many setbacks throughout his career. As First Lord of the British Admiralty, Churchill was made the scapegoat for a bungled World War I mission and was fired from his post in 1915. He endured the taunts for that failure from political opponents for many years. At his lowest point he said, “I thought I would die of grief.”

Churchill was vindicated when he replaced Neville Chamberlin as Prime Minister in the early stages of World War II. Upon taking office, he wrote, “All my past life had been a preparation for this hour and for this trial.” It was adversity that prepared him.

When times are good and life is easy, we become complacent and soft. We’re like hogs in a mudhole – fat, dumb and happy but totally unaware we’re on our way to the packing house. We do everything in our power to maintain the status quo because it is human nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Adversity is painful, but it’s our most powerful catalyst for change.

It was another British statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, who said, “There is no education like adversity.” It is during times of adversity that we learn our most valuable life lessons.”

Churchill provides us with an example of how to deal with adversity. We need to remember that overcoming our past adversities has prepared us for overcoming the adversity we are experiencing now. Unlike Chippie, we haven’t been to hell and back – we’re still there. But as Churchill advised, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

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