Hank why do you drink?
Hank, why do roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Stop and think it over,
Try and put yourself in my unique position
if I get stoned and sing all night long, it’s a family tradition!

That’s from a country song by Hank Williams Jr. I know that’s not a real polite way to open today’s post, but it does get your attention, and it even has a point. For that matter, it’s true. Hank Williams Sr. is an icon of early country music. At a relatively young age he passed away in what some said was a country music singer’s dream of his last scene, drunk– in the back of his Cadillac– headed for at gig at the Grand Ole’ Opry.

Wine, women and song aside, let’s talk about family traditions. I’ve heard some people, and I may have even said it myself, “We need to set up some family traditions.”

But we don’t need to. Family traditions set themselves up. Even a baby in the womb can hear the sounds, and even detect the ambiance of the family they’re going to join. Music, sounds, and the tone of conversations deliver to them a message.

Early childhood years can set patterns and attitudes that children may carry for the rest of their lives.

The effects of family traditions can persist for generations even centuries. The Book of Mormon is replete with wars and carnage brought on by what they called, “Traditions of the fathers.”

Whole nations today hate each other ostensibly over whether Ishmael or Isaac’s descendants are the rightful heirs to promises God made to Abraham.

I believe America is in trouble today because of the family traditions we have developed in too many homes, and the salvation of this nation lies in cleansing, and strengthening our families, and turning our homes into sacred space.

And I suggest with all due respect to country music lovers of which I am one, that the Hank Williams song we started this discussion with would not make a good children’s lullaby or a blueprint for family traditions.

Better would be a song like this. “There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home…”

Anxiously Engaged

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Little Epistles Comments Off

“… men (and women) should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (D&C 58:27-28. So says the Lord in scripture.

Anxiously engaged, that has given me cause to pause and ponder. At first glance, the anxious part could make you feel anxious. It has overtones of being worried, tentative, hesitant, all of which I’m quite sure were not intended in the scripture. Just the opposite.

But then I thought as a child I was anxious for Christmas to come, not worried, just excited. But somehow a stuffed Christmas sock doesn’t do it for me anymore.

Then last night I woke up still mulling the idea in my head. I thought, ‘When have I had such feelings as an adult?

“Aha,” I mumbled in my half sleep. Yes. I do remember when I was so elated that the anticipation tinged everything I did and thought. It was breathtaking anticipation I visualized over and over how much more rich and happy I would be when this came to pass. Great plans unfolded before me.

A little giddy, light headed with a feeling sweet as a love song, and as powerful as The Marine band playing Stars and Stripes Forever. I could hardly believe my good fortune. Sugar and spice, and everything nice. My cup runneth o’er, also my bucket and my barrel.

I wanted to focus all my ambition, hopes, plans, daydreams on this.

I would do everything in my power to make it happen. Sacrifice would be no sacrifice if I could just live this dream forever.

The feeling grew as the fulfillment grew closer and closer. I was totally, unequivocally committed to making this glorious vision come to pass.

In fact this life changing experience has happed to me twice. Once when I was a bachelor, and once when I was a widower.

In short, two times I have been anxiously engaged, and then marvelously married to an angel for eternity.

Little Epistle It Coulda Been Worse

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Comments Off

You’ve heard the saying of course, the optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees it half empty. It seems to me these days more folks are seeing it half empty than half full or if it is half full the contents are polluted or fattening.

But a few blue birds of happiness are still chirping. Hooray for them.

Between the two poles are the unsinkables, people who acknowledge the problems but are not crushed by them. My mother was one of those. “It could have been worse,” she said when the kitchen caught fire, and after various other setbacks.

I like the story of a grandmother who said this whenever something bad happened. Her grandchildren had heard that so often they decided to test her limits. At a family picnic they ran to her shouting. “Gramma little Herman done been carried off by the devil.”

Sure enough, she replied, “Coulda been worse.”

“Gramma, how could it be worse?”

“The devil coulda made Herman carry him.”

At least Little Herman got a free ride.

I assume that’s just a story, but I have one that tops it, and this one is true.

Elder LeGrand Richards was an apostle in the church for many years. He was also a survivor of the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” as Hamlet describes life. Elder Richards endured at least his share of life’s bumps and bruises, yet he remained an unsinkable optimist, or at least a “coulda been worseist”

Well into his later years I was asked to interview him, gather old photos and memorabilia and narrate and produce a documentary for television. When I talked with him he acknowledged he was pushing the envelope of mortality, but he was cheered by the good folks and experiences life had brought him and by the knowledge he would soon be with his beloved wife again.

A short time later because of his age and compromised blood circulation they had to amputate one of his feet. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy being on crutches for the rest of his life, but had a standard answer to his many friends who asked, “Elder Richards how are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m just glad they started on that end.”

That’s coulda been worse at its best.

Little Epistle: Hidden Motives

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Comments Off

I was so young I only vaguely remember the incident. But I strongly remember the lesson. My busy father asked me to feed our cow. I threw her a puny mouthful of hay or two and went back to playing. Somehow in my still developing tiny brain I had the feeling my father would think this was cute. His little boy doing the best he could to feed the big cow with the big man-sized pitchfork. I miscalculated. He didn’t think his son was either small or cute. He marched me back to the barn and had me do it right.

Why didn’t that caper come off? The reason was I was kidding myself about my own motivation. I wasn’t trying to be cute. I was trying (and succeeding) to be lazy.

Sometimes our real motivations are subtle and shadowy. But Searching for them is worth the effort. Because once we find them we have struck gold in terms of seeing who we really are and how we can improve.

Sometimes the masquerading motivation is easy to spot, particularly when someone else is claiming it. Who of us buys these lines? “I’m only doing this for your own good.” “It’s not the money. It’s the principle of the thing.” (Note: It’s the money.) “I’m not prejudiced but…”

One day in Calcutta a woman from New York showed up to help Mother Teresa with her work. Mother Teresa cut short the woman’s ambitions and revealed her real motive with a simple question. “Are there no poor in New York?” I suspect the woman herself had not realized her real motivation was to identify with the famous saintly nun rather than participate in the kind of work that had gained Mother Teresa notoriety.

Concealing our true motives even from ourselves comes natural to us as children. When this fuzziness or professed ignorance of our motivations continues into adulthood however it can be a stumbling block to our progress. If we don’t analyze what prompts our thoughts and actions, we will wander along in a fog not quite realizing why life is not bringing to us what we hoped it would.

Philosophers, psychologists, even we common folk may wonder if we really can know what our deep motives are. The apostle Paul may have had something like this in mind when he wrote, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

My experience has been that the best way to sort out our motives is to ask the Being who knows us better than we know ourselves. Go to Him in humble prayer, and he will help us not only identify our real motives, but improve them, and eventually purify them unto perfection.

Little Epistle Real Beauty

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My friend Martin Guitar and I were talking about beauty. Martin is a sentimental guy, and quoted this from Joe Cocker’s, hit “You are so beautiful.”

Which for some reason reminded me of this saying and of this woman’s story. The saying is, “Life is a Grindstone, and whether it wears us down or polishes us up depends on what we are made of.” And the woman, her name was Caroline.

On the surface Caroline was a slim beautiful young woman living in a large comfortable home on her father’s farm. They dined on fine china, and enjoyed the good life.

But what was she inside? The years would tell.

She married. Their first child died. Seventeen years later her beloved husband died leaving her with six children. Four months later her mother died.

In 1919 Caroline’s sister died six hours after giving birth to a son. Caroline took the baby and reared him as her own. They named him Leon Weston. They called him Pete.

Less than a month later Caroline’s beautiful 18 year old daughter died. Her singing had drawn praise from a New York opera company. She chose love and marriage. Now the lovely voice was stilled, and the voice of the baby developing inside her was never heard.

The accumulated losses preyed on Caroline’s own health. She developed diabetes and lived the rest of her life on a strict diet and three injections of insulin every day.

Caroline and her sister had married brothers. It was fitting the widow and widower should marry, to rear the blended family of fourteen children.

Caroline’s second husband died from a farm chemical that ate away his flesh inside and out in a week.

Caroline and the children ran the farm and survived. And succeeded in creating a happy home where friends loved to gather. The children all said later that they never felt poor.

Another widower married Caroline to care for her. A few weeks later he had a stroke, and became an invalid. Caroline cared for him for five years. He died.

During all this she served as Relief Society president in her church for 18 years giving care and consolation to families who had troubles in the twelve square miles that was their ward.

Caroline paid the bills by selling eggs from her flock of 1,000 chickens. She loved the chickens that laid eggs. She liked the ones who didn’t lay. She liked them especially for Sunday dinner.

She survived the great depression by self reliance. She refused government help. When the well broke her boys hauled water in buckets for the family and the chickens until she saved enough money to fix the well.

She survived the pain in her legs and feet from gangrene and diabetes.

She survived in part by a cheerful outlook and determination to never complain.

Fittingly, she is best remembered because of chickens. Little Pete who once helped peddle her eggs became the father of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He helped pay for a building that blesses lives throughout America and many nations. The Brigham Young University Division of Continuing Education. The building and the worldwide correspondence carry the name of Pete’s beloved aunt/mother Carrie.

Caroline Hemenway Harman; the grinding wheel of life polished the beauty within her. The eternal beauty

Money can buy happiness

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Comments Off

Little Epistle: Money can buy happines
s
“The best things in life don’t cost any money, and you can’t buy them at the store.

It may sound strange, and it may sound funny, but listen while I tell you more.”

Those are lines I wrote for a song a while back, and I believe them.

But there are also some pretty good things you can buy with money. Ask Pete Harman. Pete is the man who put wings and a turbojet thruster on Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Pete Harman loved to make money, and he loved to spend it.

Pete’s way of making and enjoying money was this. He worked hard, and got ahead of the game by living comfortably but not ostentatiously.

Fairly soon he was prosperous enough to spend on his favorite pastime. He’d go to the tough part of a city and see the young men and women lounging around out of work, out of money, and mostly out of hope.
He’d pick out one of them, and the conversation would go something like this.

Pete, “How would you like to have your own restaurant business?”

Person, “How would like a knuckle sandwich?”

“I’m serious. Can you throw chicken?”

“I can throw anything.”

“If you want to work, I’ll build a fried chicken restaurant on that corner over there. I’ll put up the money. You run it, and we’ll split the profits.”

They would sign the papers, build the franchise, and soon the young entrepreneur and Pete would have their picture in the company magazine as another success story.

He also spent money on charities, civic and educational programs, and other worthy projects.

Pete didn’t love the money. He loved the people he could help, and the good he could do with the money.

One of the great moments of his life was to see the beautiful new Brigham Young University building for continuing education, and see etched in marble the name of the person he so loved and honored. I’ll tell you next time who and why she was.

But for now, that’s how money can buy happiness.

(To be continued)

Follow Me

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Comments Off

This is a little song I wrote a few years ago. People have asked me to share it. Here are the words with chords. Oops, I see the program grouped all the chords together. Sorry about that, but I think a few times through and you can hear when to change chords.
If you want a piano score, send me your email, and I’ll see if I can send it as an attachment.
click the picture to hear the tune. (You knew that already right?)

Follow Me
Duane E. Hiatt
Copyright 1995

c Em F C
Jesus came to Galilee
F C D7 G7
He found Peter by the sea
c Em F C
And the sons of Zebedee
F C G7 C
He said to them, “Follow Me

C F C
Follow me, follow me,
F C G7
Leave your nets and follow me
C F C
Treasures for eternity
F C G7 C
Will be yours, come follow me

Peter, Andrew, James, and Jude
Matthew and Bartholomew
All disciples good and true
Did just what he asked them to

Follow me, follow me,
Leave your work and follow me
Treasures for eternity
Will be yours, come follow me

So he calls to us today
Get down on your knees and pray
Listen and you’ll hear him say
I’m the truth, the light, the way

Follow me, follow me,
Leave your cares and follow me
Treasures for eternity
Will be yours, come follow me

Little Epistle: Incubate Your Dreams

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Comments Off

Click on the picture to see the video (You know that already)

When I worked at Brigham Young University I was privileged to have an office in a beautiful new building. The man who made it possible with a large contribution was Pete Harman. One day he told us how he made the money to finance this, and many other worthy projects.

Pete was at a trade show in Chicago when he met a man with a secret. He was a common working man, now retired. But in his heart he carried a dream. So about the time many people are wrapping up their life’s work and heading to the rocking chair on the back porch this man was in Chicago at the show pursuing his dream.

The two struck up a conversation. The southern man said, “If I ever get to Salt Lake City I’ll cook you a chicken dinner.” Pete smiled. They shook hands and parted.

But surprise. Some time later the gentleman turned up at Pete’s door and said, “I have come to make good on my promise.” The visitor called for several pressure cookers, various spices and ingredients, and labored in the kitchen for most of the night.

Pete figured he had an eccentric all talk no do wanderer on his hands. The visitor seemed to have bitten off more than any of them could chew. In fact, it looked as though none of them would be chewing anything. Nine hours the stranger pored over his pots and pans and frustrations. Still no chicken dinner.
But at length he called his hosts in and invited them to partake. They did so, mostly to humor him. Pete and his wife Arline tentatively lifted the chicken to their lips, took a bite, looked at each other and smiled. They both knew gastronomical gold even in the rough.

They spent the next few days preparing to give this new dish a little trial run at their restaurant. By Saturday they had an ample supply and production facilities to test the new offering at their restaurant, or so they thought.

As the marketing people say a product has got to have legs to move. This chicken had legs. It took off running all over Salt Lake City. People savored the flavor, devoured the dish, phoned their friends, and ran to and hollered at their neighbors to hustle down and treat their taste buds. No way could the restaurant keep up with the stampeding appetites. They had the world’s greatest marketing problem, over demand. They eventually solved it in a national and worldwide way.

Just before they opened the store on that momentous Saturday they remembered the new dish ought to have a name.

“What shall we call it?” Arline said.

Pete replied, “Well Mr. Sanders says he is from Kentucky. Why don’t we call it Colonel Sander’s Kentucky fried Chicken?” And they did.

In this great land which is still filled with opportunity dreams come true at many stages in life in many ways. The secret is to never give up on your dreams and always keep an eye open for the next opportunity. Not all of us have hankerings to build an international corporate empire. But we all have some secret desires incubating inside us. Even if they seem impossible, keep them warm, keep them alive. Some day to our surprise we may see that little egg hatch and watch that chicken run, maybe even fly.

To be continued

Little Epistle: Train the Brain, and the Body

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Comments Off

When the ancient Egyptians mummified a body, they mashed up the brain, sucked it out through the nose, and threw it away as useless gray gunk.

Aristotle, probably the most respected of ancient Greek learned men, thought the brain was a radiator to cool the blood.

But in today’s society, we almost worship the brain. A trained brain is often the ticket to prosperity, popularity, and success.

No doubt the brain is a useful organ, no thinking person should be without one. But is it the sole source of knowledge, intelligence, capability and wisdom? Maybe not. Dr. Robert Cooper a personal improvement expert has done extensive research on how the body gains and dispenses knowledge and feelings. His findings indicate that certainly the brain is the center of much, probably most, of our thinking and motor coordination. But there is much learning and even thinking at some level going on throughout the body.

Dr. Cooper’s research shows at least three thinking centers in the human body. The brain, the center of the body, and the area around the heart. Interesting. Perhaps brainpower, gut feelings, and heartfelt impressions are more than just figures of speech.

There is such a thing as emotional intelligence apparently. It well may be more valuable in everyday interaction than intellect. It also may be more powerful than brain centered thinking. Dr. Cooper’s studies have measured electro-magnetic waves emanating from the brain. They radiate out to about 11 inches. But similar waves from the heart area can be detected up to five feet away from the person.

I’m thinking (or maybe feeling) the best way to train and utilize this emotional intelligence is to analyze our actions, then look at the motives behind them. Then ask ourselves, “Are these things bringing me what I really want in life, and making me the person I aspire to be?”

If all things are lined up properly then we can enjoy the picture in our mind of wise old King Solomon in the Bible smiling down upon us and saying, “As (a person) thnketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Little Epistle: Memory as a Tool Not a Weapon

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Comments Off

Our conscious memory can sweep us from scene to scene faster than the speed of light. It can carry us to the vast caverns and massive motivational engines of the unconscious mind.

This incredible tool must be designed for important work. It is. The scriptures say, “Remember the Lord your God,” (Deuteronomy 8:18) This perspective from the past can help guide our future.

With our memory we can hang on to one piece of information, attach to it another and gradually build our knowledge base. Since intelligence is the glory of God, memory is an integral part of our divine potential.

The memories of joyous summers can support us as we work through the cold and bitter winters of our lives.

There is even an eternal memory that seeps slightly through the veil. It is called the light of Christ and it reminds us that we are not creatures of this earth alone, but eternal beings.

Memory is an indispensable tool. But like other tools it can become a weapon against ourselves and others. Memory misused constantly calls up discouraging and destructive images. An abusive memory recalls and re-injures old wounds and refuses to forgive past offenses thereby making the rememberer guilty of a worse sin than the one who offended him. (Doc. and Cov. 64:9)

The key to a truly effective memory is not simply recall, it is wisdom in our selection of what to store in it. Sydney Harris once said, “Happiness usually depends more on what we can forget than on what we can remember.”