Meadville Tribune


January 24, 2012

Why are you honking?

MEADVILLE — It gets on my nerves when people, for no apparent reason, start honking their car horns. It must be some personality defect in them — or me.

Then there are the bumper stickers that say, “Honk if you love Jesus.” I love Jesus but can’t stand honkers. Lord, save me from your followers! My own sister was a confirmed honker and it drove me berserk (or berserker). I never could break her of the malady. I suppose she’s still honking in heaven. But then, there are a few persons and events worthy of honking. Here are some of mine.

n Honk for Aaron Feurstein. His name may be obscure but he’s the guy whose factory burned to the ground at Christmas-time in 1995. It would have put 3,000 people out of work and crippled the economy of their community except that Feurstein spent millions of his own dollars to keep his employees in full pay, with benefits, for three months. Guess who pitched in to erect a new factory which was built in record time? When asked why he had done this he said, simply, “Because it was right.” Lord, I wish I had said that.

- Honk for Handel’s “Messiah” oratorio — still electrifying after 270 years. I’d love, just once, to join the choir in “The Hallelujah Chorus” or sing the solo, “Comfort Ye My People.” So, why don’t I? Because although I can sing, I can’t read music. Mea culpa! (“My bad.”)

- Honk for the tens of thousands of men and women who heed the call to arms — even in wars which politicos trump up. For them it isn’t, “My country, right or wrong,” but simply, “My country.”

- Honk for modern medicine. My father died at the age of 46 from “The Consumption.” That was the old-time word for tuberculosis. It was nearly always fatal back then, but today is very curable. And I, myself, would have died at age 49 of heart disease had it not been for the incredible progress in the field of cardiology.

- Honk for technology and space exploration. Science does not negate the existence of The Almighty — for me, it heartily confirms and underscores it.

n Honk for Irene Sendler, the Polish woman who helped save 2,500 Jewish children from sure death in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She worked there as a plumber and carried infants out in her tool box and small children in gunny sacks, past unsuspecting Nazi guards. She was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2007 and died at the age of 98. And an extra toot for Oskar Schindler too, for saving 1,100 lives.

- Honk for the ability to see the world and its marvels, either in video, photography or actual visit. Yesteryear the world only was a place you heard about but couldn’t quite imagine. Now it can be live and in your face.

- Honk for diversity. The strength of America is not in her military or money, but in her diversity. We as a people are much like the opossum which is perhaps the only creature to survive the ages, pretty much unscathed. Why? Because the opossum has the great ability, of all creatures, to adapt — to habitat, food, predators and disease. It existed before dinosaurs became extinct. Its biggest enemy seems to be road kill. We as a nation will survive because of our very diversity which gives us the flexibility to adapt and the strength to survive.

- Honk for weird sanity in politics. Right now we have a glut of looneys sniping at each other.

- Honk for the ability to honk! That’s right, of the seven billion people in the world, only a select few even own a car to honk in. Lots of them are us — in the U.S.

Got any more worthy of honking? Sure would be nice to know.

Oh yes, go ahead and honk for Jesus — who showed us what good is. Tebow, too, if you can still get back up from your knee.

Brown, a Meadville resident, can be contacted at

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