My wife told me the other day that Karen Grassle is 79. For many of you younger whipper snappers that tidbit of information may be meaningless, but it reminded me of a television show that put a lot of valuable ideas in my head.

Karen Grassle played the role of Caroline Ingalls in “Little House on the Prairie.” Along with her husband, Charles Ingalls (played by Michael Landon), and their family they portrayed typical 19th Century rural life in the upper Midwest.

Charles Ingalls is still one of my heroes. He was a man of the outdoors who ranked right up there alongside Daniel Boone. If there was need of meat on the table he could put it there. He could bring home fresh venison, a mess of fish or a turkey for Christmas dinner when the need arose. He was also a hard working farmer in the truest sense of the word but those qualities aside Charles was a man of integrity and grit. I admired those qualities then and maybe even more so today.

Many of the lessons taught on that simple television show have stayed with me and are quite instructive for all of us to remember and put into practice in our daily lives.

For example if your neighbor’s ox is in the ditch you help him get it out with no expectation of reward. Plainly put, if you see someone in trouble you help them out with no questions asked. They don’t have to be an acquaintance or friend for this rule to apply. We are all neighbors and need to be mindful that it’s just the right thing to do.

Here are some other noteworthy lessons Charles taught me:

♦ Always tell the truth even when it is inconvenient. Liars are forever getting themselves in trouble and untrustworthy people don’t have many true friends.

♦ Steadfast effort usually equals success in the long run. Our endeavors in reaching a goal may not result in immediate triumph but unremitting effort will eventually get us where we want to go.

♦ Seemingly complicated problems usually have simple solutions and most often those solutions are centered around hard work and honesty.

♦ A person who has a big mouth and wants you to believe they know everything is usually the dumbest person in the room. The person who listens and speaks only rarely is typically the wisest. Like Charles Ingalls, we need to be the latter.

♦ Most people haven’t run far enough or hard enough to find out if they have a second wind. Ingalls and his clan never gave up no matter how bad things were.

♦ If it hurts, get tough. Whining gets very little accomplished according to the gospel of Charles Ingalls.

♦ Live your life in such a way that worrying about what others think never hits your radar. In other words dance like nobody’s watching. Live joyfully. It worked quite well for Charles.♦

♦ Live your life with positive enthusiasm every day. Remember that a rising tide lifts all boats.

♦ Failure is a part of living. Go on to the next challenge with no loss of passion. Those who experience failure and give up are doomed to lead a life that is empty.

♦ Be a person of action. If you have a problem or see a problem just roll up your sleeves and fix it. As my daddy (another of my heroes) would say, “Don’t worry about the mule going blind, just load the wagon.”

♦ Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Hard work won’t kill you. Charles Ingalls was often at his happiest when he was drenched with sweat.

♦ It’s ok to say “I love you” – Too many people forget to use those beautiful and meaningful words until it is far too late. The Ingalls family used that phrase most every day.

♦ Charles not only loved his family and neighbors but also his country and he was a patriotic citizen. Good one for us to remember in these troubled times. Loyalty to country seems to be taking second place behind loyalty to self.

Charles Ingalls handed out many other pearls of wisdom and most of them were simply taught by the way he lived his life. He didn’t have to say it out loud. You just observed and soaked them up. I’m pretty sure that if more people had watched “Little House” and followed their example we’d all be happier and the world would be a better place to live.

Perhaps watching all the episodes of this simple television series should be required viewing in our schools. Now there’s an idea.

E-mail your “Little House” lessons to dar8589@bellsouth.net

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