Time for a few words by an old man?
A few years ago, I wrote an essay explaining why I feel that almost all people of the world, basically, are good people. They want to do the right things; they are almost all intentionally good people. I know some people don’t accept this view today. They can give examples for their negative view. I truly believe those are exceptional happenings, not the usual.
I hope that you will have the time and disposition to hear me out.
I began writing these articles in the early 1970s when Bill Goligoski was editor of the Superior Telegram. I was serving on the Superior School Board then — my primary focus was education.
In the years since, I have written on many topics. Recently it was aging and I certainly fit that bill — I recently turned 90 years old.
The good people issue again is about the worth and good intentions of almost all the people of our world. What makes my opinion worthwhile, in addition long life? I have been most fortunate in my 45 years as a Superior resident — 19 of those spent as a professor of educational administration at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Our graduates became superintendents, principals and a variety of other administrative positions in Wisconsin and neighboring states primarily. I served as intern coordinator as graduates served their first year as administrators, I visited many school districts and cities in this northern region. I served as site visitor for the U.S. Department of Education program to pick outstanding elementary schools.
Before, during and after my 19 years at UWS, I was privileged to visit many foreign countries and one three-month world trip put together by TWA and Singapore Airlines. So I have met and associated with many people in many countries of the world. I don’t consider myself an expert in any sense of the word, but I’m not a novice either.
Why do I say that most of the people in the world want to be good people?
Never in my travels did anyone take advantage of me. Speaking English only, I was frequently at a disadvantage when speaking to those in foreign countries. Instead of being taken advantage of, I was assisted in many cases above and beyond what I expected would be offered. Many times, people made extensive efforts to take me some place where English help or other specialty help would be available.
So, I stand on my premise that most people mean to be and are good. If one doesn’t come across as an “ugly American,” a most definitely self-classified, superior individual, they are more than willing to help you. My daughter spent a school year in Mexico. Americans throwing their weight around during visits, she said, embarrassed her several times. She rarely interjected in the discussions because of her embarrassment.
In conclusion, I hope you will remember this in any foreign travel. Be polite, be frank in your need for help and most everyone will be pleased to give you that help. I would guess that foreigners too often see Americans of means, people who can travel in grand style.
I have known a few of those too that think they, personally, are gifts to the free world. When they travel, they don’t set good examples.
It will be easy for you to do if you don’t as the old saying goes, “put on the dog.”
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@