Robert Morrison
Guest columnist
With the late Andy Rooney’s absence as CBS News’ “curmudgeon-at-large,” I may volunteer for that role.
Rooney retired from the program after several decades of service and passed away a month later.
He was 92 years old.
Even though I rarely agreed with him, his long tenure alone invites respect.
And it’s a tribute to our free republic that you can make a career of getting in peoples’ faces. Gadfly, Oscar the Grouch or Socrates, this doesn’t happen in tyrannies.
I’d like to audition for the role of Curmudgeon with a gripe of my own.
Too many of my friends are forever knocking the post office. Every time the cost of a First Class stamp goes up, howls of protest go up higher. Question: Is there any other country where you can put so much information in an envelope for so little?
Think of what the postal system has meant to American freedom.
Go all the way back to Ben Franklin. He was a Royal Postmaster before we gained our independence. He used the mail to stoke the fires of freedom. So, masterfully, did Samuel Adams, inventor of the Committees of Correspondence.
More recently, in the 1970s, the mass media was monochromatically liberal. Without Rush, without the Internet, how could conservatives compete? How could we even survive?
The U.S. Mail, that’s how. National Review and Human Events and countless direct mail appeals from conservative organizations used the mail to keep the flame of freedom burning.
I am forever being told to get with the 21st Century. Lots of my young friends want to be Linked In with me. I apologize to all of them, but I don’t know how. Send me an email. Better yet, send me a letter. Or even a post card.
I’ve been sending letters and post cards to family and friends for 40 years. I can get 400 words on a post card. Pretty good for 29 cents.
Now, I’ll admit that my good wife has a point when she complains about surly folks behind the counter at our local post offices. It is she who mails the packages and buys the stamps in our family. Remember, postal workers: you are civil servants; it helps to be civil.
But I’ve never had anything but good relations with our many letter carriers over the years. In 40 years of letter writing, I’ve never had one go astray. That includes weekly letters to a friend in prison and letters to brave U.S. soldiers in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m still astounded at how fast the mail goes through.
There’s an eloquent tribute to the U.S. Mail inscribed on the National Postal Museum in Washington. It’s part of the Smithsonian.
Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations
(From “The Letter,” by Dr. Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard University, as revised by President Woodrow Wilson).
“Bond of the scattered family.” I like that line best. I get to see our grandson often, but not as often as I’d like. So I send him weekly postcards. He’s only two and a half, but our daughter reads them to him. I wasn’t sure what impact, if any, they were having.
Today she told us he takes the subscription cards from her magazines. They’re the same size as my post cards. He “reads” them to her and ends each one with “Love, Grandad.”
I love to Skype. I love email. I love blogs. And I’m going to learn to LinkIn, or whatever. But there’s nothing quite like holding a letter that was handwritten by someone you love, a message from one heart to another.
That’s why the Epistles of Paul will never grow old. God’s loving Word was written to us by hand. And God’s Word will stand forever.
Robert Morrison is senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council.