Posted by: johnhourihan | November 9, 2012

Be careful who you influence

Having smoked cigarettes since I was 10, I don’t smell stuff so good anymore. So while I sat on the porch watching an early snow storm fill up the floor around my boots, I had to hold the coffee closer to my face to smell the young warmth it allowed.
The snow meant another cycle has spun by, and the flakes blew by my face like forgotten days.
Enjoying my morning wake-up call, I watched the woods and thought about how quickly the years go by.
A couple weeks ago, Lin and I went to a club to hear my niece, Deanna Brunetti, sing. I used to baby sit for her and here she was fronting a band, a totally grown and beautiful woman.
Then to make matters worse, by godson, Paulie Sannicandro, who is now a park ranger in Maine and a full 6’4” was invited up to play a little blues harmonica. They both were great, but watching them on the stage a shiver touched my heart and I felt a little older.
Not more than an hour later a guy comes into the bar walks up to me and says “Mr.. Hourihan!” I didn’t recognize him at first because I had last seen him when he was a student in a high school class I taught. “You were a huge influence on my life,” he said. I can’t count how many times I’d get in a jam and ask myself, ‘What would Mr. Hourihan say?”
I figure in my years of teaching I probably taught 1,600 kids, and in another 15 years of coaching I probably influenced another 300 or so.
Then for another 25 years I wrote an opinion column two or three times a week.
And as the woods across the street  filled up with snow I wondered if I had really told them what I thought was important. I wondered if I just said what I thought was supposed to be important.
As the snow built higher and the woods across the street got deeper, I  saw it plain.
The certain foolishness of our last presidential election, where so many young people said the most important thing for our country was the economy, was tell-tale.
Among all the issues in the world that made us great we as a nation thought the most important thing was money.
The truth is that past having enough to have a roof over your head, food, and access to affordable health care, money is nothing.
But here in the greatest country ever conceived and implemented on the planet, I thought of why so many people around the world hate us.
It comes down to money.
I took another sip of coffee and thought about a  TV commercial I saw the other day for a kitchen faucet that could be turned on and off with motion sensors and the wave of a hand so we wouldn’t actually have to even touch the mechanism.
With so many millions of people wondering where the next container of potable water is going to come from to keep their families alive, we are willing to pay money so that we can get a drink of water without touching anything.
The difference between gotta-touch-em faucets and those with motion sensors, $18 to $640.
People hate us because we have made money our god. Our panacea, our reason for living, the most important thing in our lives. Americans, especially younger Americans, can never have enough money, can never have enough touchless faucets, 60-inch TVs and electric dog polishers.
We just spent months maybe even years believing that the most important issue in our presidential election was the economy – money.
I took another sad sip of the warmth of the coffee making me feel younger on a frozen porch and hoped that if I have in fact influenced some lives, I have made them understand that family, love, health, shelter and helping other people who need help are the most important things there are.
So, after the election and before the true onslaught of winter, we have to understand that as long as we believe the economy is the most important issue in our lives we will continue on our downward spiral toward being a nation that was once great.
And, if I am to influence anyone, that is what I want them to hear.



  1. I’m sure so many have heard that from you. If not then you got your work cut out for you. Better get hopping! You only have another 35-40yrs. before you really get to retire.

    • You certainly get better with age., Oh and by the way you have 6 siblings that you also influenced , and I am one,so keep enjoying that coffee and keep remembering

  2. I know for a fact that your life has positively influenced many more than the numbers you cite John. What you say here does make one stop to consider the appropriateness of our priorities. Maybe thats what us old folk have to contribute now… we’re a buffer for the trends of the tide of our youth. But I must confess that I’m reluctant to give up my dog polisher. Thanks for another really good article John.

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