I am a real fan of Dana Perino. This woman was born in Wyoming and grew up in Denver, Colorado where her father owned a convenience store. Mrs. Perino was a gymnast, served on her school’s speech team and participated in barrel racing. She was just a regular person. Later in life however, Perino worked in Washington, DC as a press secretary for Rep. Dan Schaefer of Colorado who then chaired the House Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Afterwards Mrs. Perino served as spokesperson for the Department of Justice before joining the White House staff as the associate director of communications for the Council on Environmental Quality. In 2005 Perino moved into the deputy press secretary position where she met with President Bush’s director of communication, his press secretary, and director of media affairs many times during a day. In 2007 she became White House Press Secretary after Tony Snow resigned because of health issues. For the next two years Dana Perino worked with the president of the United States as his spokesperson. Today she is a political commentator and teaches political communications at George Washington University.
A few weeks ago, I saw Mrs. Perino on TV and when asked if she had attended an important function in Washington, she said no. Explaining further, Perino said she hated large functions, and “always felt the loneliest in a crowd.” It is interesting that a person who has traveled with the president, met with world leaders, and lives a life in the spotlight, would have any insecurities, much less ones that would prevent her from being comfortable in crowds. If this attractive, intelligent, and well known woman feels apprehensive in public or social situations, then it’s no wonder there is so much loneliness and misery among ordinary people. Without a doubt, regardless of one’s age, life is hard. Children have problems, teens and young adults have concerns, and older adults fight loneliness and depression.
Some years ago, I was elected to the National 4-H Agents Board as a district director. It was a great honor, yet it was a little scary. Besides the extensive travel, I had to associate and meet frequently with people I did not know well from all across the country. Board meetings were often lonely and awkward and there was not much southern hospitality among this diverse group. In addition, a board member from Arizona began harassing me about Strom Thurmond. Each time I saw Brian he would begin his Strom Thurmond shuffle and give me a hard time about the fact that South Carolina had a Senator that, he thought, was well past his prime. No matter how I tried to defend Mr. Thurmond, the voters, and the significance of the high ranking senator, Brian just made a big joke about the southern rednecks that kept electing the old man. One night when the entire board was at dinner, Brian saw me and shuffled over to the table where I was sitting. He then began his rude comments about my senator and my state. Well, I had had enough. Nonchalantly I opened my purse, took out my makeup bag and began applying a thick coat of dark red lipstick. I got up, walked over to my antagonist, (by this time everyone was watching) grabbed his face and put a big red kiss on the top of his baldhead, and said, “Brian, I still love you even though you trash my senator and my southern heritage.” The room erupted in laughter and from that moment Brian and I were friends and I established my place on the board. By the way, Brian wore his lipstick during the entire dinner. Now I can’t recommend kissing everyone that causes you misery or heartache, but for me, humor accomplished my objective.
Regardless of who we are, each of us deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Without a doubt, it can be lonesome being a celebrity, but it can also be lonesome for an individual in the middle of a caring community. Robert Fulghum, the author of All I really need to know, I learned in Kindergarten, reminds us how we should act and treat others. He says: “Share everything, play fair, and don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them, and clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours, and say you’re sorry when you hurt someone. Wash your hands before you eat, and warm cookies and milk are good for you. Live a balanced life- learn some, think some, draw, paint, sing, dance, play, and work everyday. Take a nap every afternoon, and when you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together.” No matter how much we want to stop the sadness and misery in our community and world, we can not do it alone. However, if each of us will make a difference in just one person’s life, then our community will be a better place to live and work. Mr. Fulghum’s advice is good, but perhaps the words of Jesus are even better. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we follow this advice we will never be lonely, not even in a crowd.