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Our friend George Lindsey, aka Goober Pyle, died May 6, 2012. Goober, the jovial, simple-minded character from Mayberry, lived and made us laugh at a time America needed a welcome dose of weekly relief from bad news. Coming out of the simpler and comparatively innocent days of 1950’s entertainment, traditional Americana was not something easy to find in those years when unspoken societal mores gave way to a culture of, “if it feels good do it”.
They were cold war days with a myriad of hot wars growing around the globe played out by Russian, Chinese, NATO and US surrogates in a battle for the soul of the planet. A President had been assassinated, and we would engage in a coming ten year war. Even Gomer Pyle, Goober’s brother, would join the USMC, to be part of what we were told by Lyndon Johnson was a fight to save the world from a growing global threat of communism.
Over 50,000 American sons were not yet dead from the duplicitous political cauldron Vietnam became, and they laughed with us when Goober and Gomer offered simplistic views of life from under the hood of a 1955 Chevy or in drills at Camp Pendleton. Friends from High School and Jr. High were not yet losing their brain cells and lives to psychedelic drugs, nor stripping down from modesty in public to open sex, drugs and rock and roll of the late 1960’s.
Whether Mayberry was a Democrat or Republican southern township in rural North Carolina, we may never know, but we do know that to the residents of Mayberry it wasn’t about “left” or “right” but about “right or wrong.” They were conservative people who could see right and wrong in simple terms and knew the difference between creeping evils bent on destroying their way of life.
UP or DOWN:
It was during this time in 1964 that a speech was given by a Hollywood actor who had from Democrat turned Republican. Voicing powerful sentiments about differences which we should focus upon, Ronald Reagan issued a warning for us today in an address now known as, “A Time for Choosing“:
“You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream–the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, “The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.” Reagan, A Time for Choosing
Time has witnessed to us that it is not just political change of “left or right” which affects a “downward path,” but a cultural path of choosing virtue and morals over expediency and vote buying which leads to an “up or down” effect in society. Politics means nothing if it does not serve us in maintaining a strong and healthy society.
In a word, “culture” matters.
MAYBERRY & SOCIAL CONSERVATIVISM:
Mayberry was a culture of self-reliance and simple healthy living. The collective choices of politicians since Mayberry days have constantly sought to adjust our culture to mean whatever “is is” – as stated by another Southern boy in defense of his moral turpitude. Though he came from a Mayberry-like town in Arkansas called “Hope,” many of us have come to believe ‘hope’ was all about him, and not about us.
Mayberry folks figured things out, grew from the love and care each rendered for one another in each episode. There were failures, drunks, occasional villains from the outside crazy world, but Andy’s wisdom and Barney Fife’s courage would handle that each week as easily as Goober could fix any problem in a Ford or Chevy’s carburetor.
Character matters in the building of a culture. Simple minded Goober and Gomer Pyle showered us with the quality of character; the ability to transform wisdom into meaningful action.
Mayberry as a result, was blessed from a character-rich domino effect of the Pyle brothers, Andy, Barney, Aunt Bee and Opie style choices.
AMERICA AT A CROSSROADS:
America was at a cross roads then, as we wandered down a road since 1964 that may be one of “no return” unless citizens step in with traditional values, reclaim their culture, and take a government “by the people” back from the politicians who have transformed it for “their” people.
So Goober is gone, along with his brother Gomer of the USMC, Deputy Barney Fife, Aunt Bee and many other beloved cast members. We loved Mayberry, and Mayberry loved us right back.
We saw in Mayberry what we all wanted; good friends, Aunt Bees good food, and the realization that truth was more powerful than a weapon-carrying sheriff. We needed innocence and Mayberry delivered.
There is a lot that could be documented about how the times have changed us, but in reflection I believe it is not time that has changed but we who have changed the times.
Readers may argue that Mayberry was just “fiction.” As a novelist I argue that Hollywood took its cues from real life, as I always do for my fiction; besides I remember Goober. He was a friend of mine and millions of others.
For some simple undeniable values and their effect upon us, I’ll share a You Tube moment from Mayberry.
James Michael Pratt is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and screenwriter, has made appearances on Hannity’s Great American Panel, has written columns and posts appearing in The Daily Caller, Red State, Big Peace, and is the owner of www.jerusalemreports.com, a news and link consolidation site. You can find him on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.