If only


If only this were a funny story, it wouldn’t be so sad. If only it weren’t so sad, maybe it wouldn’t be so true to so many. Funny will return next week.

If only I were rich, I’d not have a care in the world. I could buy anything, go anywhere, and afford the most expensive things. Health issues wouldn’t be a problem because I would have the most expensive doctors always on call. Traveling the world in my private jet would be a never-ending trip — never-ending seeing so many who still have so little, some without even clean water.

If only I were heartless, I’d not have a care in the world. Days would be spent saying and doing anything I wanted without any concern paid to whether I offended any group or person because of their race, national origin or sexual preference. I worked too hard for my money so I wouldn’t give up any of it to support charities. Let them find money elsewhere. None of my old coats would go to warm the shivering bodies of the homeless. After all, the coats are mine; how ridiculous just to give them away. Besides, the homeless obviously made their beds outside, let them sleep in it.

If only I were heartless, I wouldn’t listen to anyone’s opinion because mine would be the only one that really mattered. Women would do what I said because I would believe they were inferior. And laws are just inconveniences that apply to other people, but not me. Yes, the world would be a much better place if only there were more people like me in it. Then again …

If only I were a squirrel, I’d not have a care in the world. Days would be spent either foraging for nuts beneath the giant oaks in the forest or jumping from limb to limb chasing all the other squirrels. Life would continue this way until ended suddenly by a hungry hawk looking for a fuzzy meal or a kid with a new pellet gun in his backyard just looking to have some fun.

Has it really become a world where the rich fly high above, not caring about what’s below? Because times are hard, have people stopped giving to charities, and the homeless no longer have warm clothing? Do parents actually teach kids in backyards that it’s OK to kill animals just because it’s a sport? And please tell me that everyone has clean water and that women are not treated like second class citizens just because they are women. Surely we have evolved further than this by now.

If only. If only people just took a moment to look around and find a way to help, this world would be a better place for all of us. So, I’ll keep giving to charities and make regular donations to shelters.

On our back porch, The Wife sits next to me, not behind. Because in our marriage she is an equal, and any decisions made are made together. The only squirrels we shoot are with a camera, because even fuzzy little squirrels deserve to be more than just moving targets for misguided youths.

If only I didn’t care so much about the world and the people who live in it. It wouldn’t bother me so much that there’s so many who still don’t. If only they did, what a world this could be.

Every Friday this year I’ll still try to do my part to make this corner of the globe a better place. Funny will return next week — it’s the Boy’s birthday after all. And it will be a humdinger.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is saferick@bellsouth.net.]