Where is Howard Morris when we need him?

Where is Howard Morris when we need him? 

I am sure you are thinking—who is Howard Morris?

Howard Morris, never heard of him. Howard Morris let me think for a minute. 

Sounds like a quiet senator from the Midwest way out in a Nebraska corn field. 

Howard Morris, oh, I know, he’s the guy who holds the patent on the widget.

Well, to save a bit of your time, I tell you who Howard Morris is. 

Howard Morris is Ernest T. Bass.

Ok, Bill, you are really starting to pluck my nerves. 

Who are Howard Morris and Ernest T. Bass?

Howard Morris was a talented man who was an actor, voice actor, and director. In the Andy Griffith Show, Mr. Morris portrayed Ernest T. Bass an ornery, but basically harmless mountain man who from time to time came down out of the hills to disrupt the quiet town of Mayberry.

While Mr. Morris only appeared in five episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, he was unforgettable to the townspeople and the fans of the show. Mr. Morris was perfectly cast as Ernest T. His unkept appearance, his appropriate regional accent, his non-Shakespearian poetry, and his accuracy as a rock chucker added to his charisma. 

Best of all, Mr. Bass never hurt anyone with his rock chucking. For sure, he did damage some property, but no noggins were dinged.

Whenever Ernest T came to Mayberry, he usually had a need. He was smart enough to know that he could not survive with his natural mountain man charms. The rock chucking and his disruptive intrusions were designed to get Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife’s attention. It was very simple, like all of us at times— Ernest T needed help.

Right now, I think America needs help.  We need Ernest T, and his rock chucking—not in a hurtful way, but in a helpful way. We need some polite rock tossing as a means to get our attention.

Here are possible targets for Ernest T to ding.

Spending on political campaigns is out of control. I’m sure come the end of November the totals are going to break all records. Sadly, good, decent, smart people who might really be able to steer our country forward have no desire to enter this fray.

As a kid, I loved NASA and its launches into space. Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff about that era is excellent. I think the continuing space exploration especially for Mars is because someone has figured out Earth is probably doomed. We need a new place to destroy. Why don’t we turn those brilliant NASA minds loose on solving problems on Earth instead of missions to Mars?

Violence and incivility reports are nonstop. Why can’t we be nice? What is at the heart of these relentless problems?

We have any number of vicious cycles related to nutrition, housing, health, poverty, education, and the break down of families. Where is our commitment to permanently break these cycles?

Congress, you are supposed to be working and looking out for us, your citizens, not yourselves. With your recesses, vacations, and constant push to be re-elected, I think the average American worker out works you every day of the year. Term limits make sense. I suppose this is why we don’t have them.

Mental health issues are staggering. My guess is that we all know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. Suicide is an out of control demon.

Sadly, no matter the direction, Ernest T. Bass turns he will have a target.

And, I’ll give Mr. Bass one more target—the church. Where is the voice of the church in all of this? Are churches so mired in their internal policy battles that they have lost sight of the true needs around them? Are they failing to hear the call beyond their walls?

I know Mayberry was a fictional town. But somehow, some way, the scriptwriters usually found the means for Andy and Barney to meet Ernest T. Bass’s needs.  

Why can’t we meet our country’s needs?

Is it the stubbornness of our political loyalties or is our apathy the barrier?

One thing is clear—the people who are really working to solve these problems could use our help.

My hot air is not enough. My words need to become active.

And that is what Ernest T. Bass was all about— action. He rarely sat still.

Come on Bill, those were silly Hollywood scripts.

Yes, they were. 

And yet, Andy and Barney, found a way to work with Mr. Bass.

Why can’t we work together?

Maybe the answer to that question can be found in 1 John 3:18:

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.”

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