Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I’ve never visited the town of Wetumka in Oklahoma (USA). But I understand the folks there celebrate a day every year when they laugh at themselves. They call it Sucker Day and they plan a town festival on the last Saturday of September to commemorate it.
It all started in 1950 when a man calling himself F. Bam Morrison arrived in Wetumka and persuaded local residents to put up the money to bring a circus to town. They did not know F. Bam, but he was a nice enough fellow and they trusted his word.
Merchants bought plenty of food, beverages, and souvenirs in preparation for the crowds of people who were bound to attend. And Morrison sold advance tickets. The townspeople were ecstatic at the thought of a circus in their very own village. Children could hardly sleep at night.
On the day the circus parade was to march down the main street, ecstasy turned into dismay when nothing happened. F. Bam had slipped quietly away in the night with any money he had left. There would be no circus. The good folks of Wetumka had been swindled.
It didn’t take long for their disappointment to turn into amusement, however. Someone came up with the idea of holding a four-day celebration anyway. And why not? They had all the food and goodies. Calendars were cleared and, besides, everyone’s heart was set on having a good time.
They called their party The Sucker Festival. In a display of good-natured fun, people celebrated the fact that they’d been conned, snookered and hornswoggled. And now Sucker Day is an annual event Wetumka – a good excuse to come together, to laugh and to have some fun.
We’re going to be fooled sometimes. Especially if we easily place our confidence in people. But I’m not going to give up trusting just to avoid being had.
I’ve observed that some of the happiest people I know are far from being the most wary – in fact, they are quite often open and trusting. These contented folks share at least two traits.
The first is that they are trustworthy. They are known to be honest and true to their word.
And the second trait these happy and satisfied people share is that they easily trust others. Sometimes their trust is misplaced, but they’ve discovered that the benefits of trusting usually outweigh the risks of disappointment.
I expect I’ll get taken in plenty of times yet by friends and strangers I believed in. But I hope the next time I trusted when I should have been more cautious, I can learn from the good folks of Wetumka and laugh at myself.
Because I’d rather let others into my heart than shut them out. I’d rather be a sucker for a day than unhappy for a lifetime. And I’d rather believe there is goodness in most people, for that is the only way to find it.
-- Steve Goodier