Though most fads seem to spring up from nowhere, the art of goldfish swallowing can be traced to one individual and one specific date. On March 3, 1939, Harvard student Lothrop Withington, Jr. swallowed a live fish to win a $10 bet. Days later, not to be outdone, a college student in Pennsylvania downed three fish seasoned with salt and pepper. When a fellow classmate upped the ante to six goldfish, the gauntlet had been thrown down and the fad spread like wildfire on campuses across the country. Before the goldfish craze faded a few months later, thousands of goldfish had met their collective demise and even coeds had taken up the challenge.
Now, I love seafood as much as anyone. I love shrimp, catfish, scallops, trout, oysters, and crabmeat. I even like the “fish” they sell out of the chain restaurant named after a pirate. But I draw the line at goldfish. But Lothrop was like a lot of us. He was willing to swallow anything, whether it was good for him or not. We are told that we are winning the war with ISIS and the war on poverty. We are told that more money equals better schools. We are told that gay marriage is a matter for the federal government, despite what it says in the Bill of Rights. We are told that electing the right President will solve all our problems. We are told that global warming isn’t real, while others tell us global warming is our greatest threat. But many are swallowing more important myths. Happiness is about what happens to us, rather than what happens in us. You can work your way into heaven. There are certain things you can do to make God love you more. There are certain things you can do to make God love you less. If a couple lives together first, their marriage will be better. Children don’t need a dad at home. All roads lead to heaven. Though the stuff you have now doesn’t make you happy, having more of it will.
An old friend of mine from Gainesville, Texas said something I have never forgotten. Johnny Leftwich often said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” There are times we need to take a stand. We need to investigate, then embrace the truth. I am not a believer because I was raised that way. I am a believer because that is where my pursuit for truth led me. I believe in the three pillars of The Proud Americans: God, family, and country. There is a lot of “stuff” being propagated in today’s world. That doesn’t mean you have to swallow everything that comes along. Stick to goldfish.