The Rev. Johnny A. Phillips headshot

The Rev. Johnny A. Phillips is a retired minister and resides in Burke County. 

She had a very simple name -- Sally Brown. But few people remember her as she remained just a child relegated to the background probably because her friends had already achieved celebrity status. But I suggest that the majority of us can more readily identify with her in our spiritual and personal lives than any of the other characters in Charles Schultz 's Peanuts comic strip.

Yes, Sally is that little blonde-haired girl with a few curls on her forehead wearing a pink polka-dot dress, and she publicly appeared on today's date, Aug. 23 in 1959.

Her complex personality requires some scrutiny to appreciate. On one hand , she possessed a number of undesirable traits (e.g., naivety, insecurity and slowness to grasp what may be obvious to others). But she could also be friendly, innocent and goodhearted.

More than any other outstanding personality trait, Sally had a strong sense of morality, which, by the way, is also characteristic of her brother Charlie. This was displayed recurrently in her awareness of the unfairness of the world.

A major difference separating these siblings is that while Charlie took his frustration of the injustice nature of the world to his tormentor and counselor Lucy (You will remember her booth with the sign that reads “The psychiatrist is in.”), Sally confided only to her school building.

Having served as a minister, social worker, rehabilitation counselor and mental health counselor, I maintain that there is a degree of Sally Brown in every one of us. My favorite psychoanalyst Alfred Adler held that all of us come into this world feeling insecure and our personalities develop from the respective methods we elect to deal with that sense of uncertainty.

However, most of us are also, at heart, well-intentioned people. While the world about us may not recognize our full natures, we know that there is also the good that lies there as well.

And who of us has not lamented concerning the evils of the world, be it Washington, D.C., the corporate world or Big Brother. Grievous events occur in the best of places and few of us can ever afford the psychiatrists' rates simply to vent our frustrations. Being precious little we can do about the injustices out there, we wind up commiserating with ourselves like Sally talking to the brick school building.

There is another comparison to be drawn between Sally Brown and ourselves that bears mentioning. Of all the characters that Schultz created as the Peanut gang, Sally was the only one never to be invited to join Charlie Brown's baseball team. We all at one time or another have felt neglected and underrated. Not Sally. She merely went on with her activities never giving it another thought.

Best of all I like Sally's philosophy of life. She reduced it to four simple questions: Who cares? Why me? How should I know? Then there is Sally's simple and unsophisticated fourth question which helps her cope with her sensitivity to this complex and confusing world: “Why worry about tomorrow when most people can't handle the present?”

In one of Schultz's less known strips, Sally is presenting her class report on “How to Live.” She says, “They say the best way to live is just to live one day at a time.” Then looking at her teacher who is not pictured, she reasons, “If you try to live seven days at a time, the week will be over before you know it.”

Most will recall Jesus' teaching, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Out of the mouths of babies. ...

If we would take Jesus' teaching and Sally-ism’s to heart, we could probably lower our blood pressures considerably and put some pharmaceutical manufacturers out of business.

Johnny A. Phillips is a retired minister and resides in Burke County. Contact him at phillips_sue@bellsouth.net.

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