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The more things change...

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-

Ladies and gentlemen, the great trouble with the present period is that people have lost their poise.

And the younger the person, the more devastating has been that loss.

So many people’s minds are entirely out of focus – everything they see is shadowy, blurred. Foundations are cracked and critically insecure. They have no aim, no ambition; they wander in a maze of doubt, of confusion, of fear, of distracting cults and “isms.”

They have been told they are in the midst of a new order of things, that their behavior, their simple duties, their obligations, their old-time ethics and their spiritual traditions are all outworn and must be scrapped. They have been half-convinced of the “truth” of this sophistry, and have intermittently tried to follow them.

But instead of bringing them the promised happiness, this “new freedom” has left them more bewildered and deeper than ever in the slough of despond.

The trouble is that in all the chaos, the fundamental concepts of life have escaped them, which, in spite of their modern twists and distortions, remain essentially the same as they were at the beginning of civilization. Life remains the same journey through a land with more thorns than roses, with more stony roads than macadam, with more uphill than easy going.

These life truths and axioms are as old as they are ineluctable; they are as eternal as the universe. In the confusion of the last several years, these fundamentals have been lost sight of, but they are as potent today as they have been since time began. And they must be reckoned with before life can again go on with its minimum of misery and its maximum of tolerance.

Many of our people are on the side of the road; they must retrace their steps to the point where they left the highway that leads with the least friction through life. But not all will take the trouble to retrace their steps – they have lost heart in aimlessly wandering in search of life’s fabled utopia.

Get this: Life is a test for something worthwhile; it is not a test that can be easily passed. The test is aimed to try out the mettle you’re made of; you can’t “soldier” through; you can’t “lay down” on your job and come in with the winners.

Are we a nation of quitters? Have we become a what’s-the-use people? Snap out of it – you have been following false gods and mackerel trails.

It’s about time to wake up. Haven’t you had enough of this new life philosophy? This modern froth and foam? It isn’t progress…

Ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t write any of the aforementioned words – well, except for the opening “Ladies and gentlemen” part.

These words were penned by a relative of mine, Dr. Sigel Roush, and were printed in a newspaper opinion piece on Wednesday, May 31, 1933 – more than 80 years ago.

For a bit of history, Dr. Sigel Roush was the fifth child of George and Elizabeth Tedrick Roush, and was born on Saturday, April 5, 1862 in Highland County on a farm near Russell.

His brother, Wesley T. Roush, the eldest child, was born on Saturday, Feb. 5, 1848. By the way, Wesley T.’s grandson was also named Wesley T. Roush.

That Wesley T. is my grandfather, and as many of you know, was the principal for many years at the old Washington School in Hillsboro. Speaking of Roushes named Wesley, my dad’s also named Wesley (though he goes by Ken), his son (and my brother) is named Eric Wesley, and Eric Wesley’s son is named Wesley Steven.

But back to Dr. Sigel Roush, who is not to be confused with the Dr. Sigel Roush who was my granddad’s brother.

Several of my uncles are doctors or dentists, but my great-great-great Uncle Sigel was a doctor and a dentist. Oh, and he was writer, lecturer, principal, and a delegate to the National Convention at Chicago that nominated Theodore Roosevelt as president.

He was also a world traveler, having visited “every country of the world” and many “out-of-the-way islands of the sea,” according to the 1928 book, “The Roush Family in America.”

Additionally, he was a regular newspaper columnist.

My Aunt Sally, who lives on the same property where my great-great-great Uncle Sigel last lived, recently gave me a scrapbook of columns that he had written. Actually, it was an old book on dentistry that Dr. Roush turned into a scrapbook by pasting the columns over the dental text.

Aunt Sally told me that Sigel’s sense of humor reminded her of me, and she thought I might enjoy reading his editorials.

I did.

I read his takes on the Great Depression, on a new leader in Germany named Adolf Hitler, on politics, and on life in general.

The thing I find amazing about his offerings is that the issues of so many years ago are often the same issues we face today.

Dr. Sigel Roush died on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1954 at the age of 92 and is buried in the Barnes Cemetery near Fairview. My grandparents’ headstone is to the left of his and his wife’s headstone, and my great grandparents’ headstone is just to the left of my grandparents’.

He’s been gone for nearly six decades now, but many of the things he wrote so long ago go to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. (Maybe I’ll share more of his perspectives that are nestled deep in the past in the future.)

Or, as Dr. Sigel Roush finished his Wednesday, May 31, 1933 offering, “Life’s problems are the same today as they were yesterday, its spiritual problems; and they will be the same tomorrow – and tomorrow – and tomorrow.

“Let us meet them honestly, squarely, conscientiously and – get this: Life is a test, not a pink tea.”

Steve Roush is a publisher and editor and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press.

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