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The Projects

By Joseph Mavilia

I grew up in the 20th Century, thankfully, when optimism abounded in our great country. In the late 1950s, while in the Navy, I experienced the South’s prejudice toward blacks. I was deeply saddened, but it was the reality of the day and could only be observed thoughtfully. And of course, as we’ve learned, that behavior of man’s inhumanity to man would change because “all error “is self-destructing.

The ending of discrimination of that kind was evident to me in a personal way when my son was 11. He said, dad, I want to play “Pop Warner” football. So, I agreed to support him and even agreed to be treasurer for the team. The team on which he played was integrated. Well, kind of! Of the whole squad, he was one of two white players, and there were a couple of Hispanics too. It turned out to be a great experience and a character builder as well for both my son Mike and me.

I also grew up in those bygone days of learning about projects like being a part of an almost all black young men’s football team. Projects were not new to me; Mom and Dad had lots of projects for us kids.

  • You had chores, of course, but you also had to clean out the garage
  • But you also got to build forts and treehouses.
  • You had projects in school too
  • And the lawn and garden needed care
  • It was also a project to take down the tree we had only put up in late November. Now in early January, we neatly put the ornaments away for another Christmas to follow.
  • And in the fall, the leaves needed raking

You get the picture.

Then there were those projects that were mind-broadening experiences that included doing things with friends – Jews and Blacks and Mexicans and even with Italian’s like me. We’d also play cops and robbers and Cowboys and Indians in the park or wherever. Sometimes you’d play the good guys and other times the bad guys. We were free and knew nothing of prejudice or much else for that matter. But ignorant or not, we were integrated, and if the word was ever spoken, it didn’t register because these were simply friends doing things in that age of innocence.

We were also a people of faith in lots of things, but mom made sure it began with God. We had respect and knew the commandments were NOT suggestions. I learned to respect my elders as a command from mom and dad, and that included Uncle Joe, a sailor, and Uncle Tony, a marine who served in WWII. Those come to mind, especially now, as I reflect on those early years of my life. They were heroes, but to us, they were also just uncles and aunties who were a part of the fabric of family, which was so important then.

In that world, there was the WPA (Work Progress Administration in 1935) and other projects in places like Chicago and other crowded cities around America where the poor congregate. Those were referred to as “The Projects” (Public Housing) to house folks who wouldn’t or simply couldn’t find jobs to provide for themselves. These “Projects” were created by men, and to be gracious, perhaps even men with good intentions, or NOT. Only they could own up to why they developed soon to be slums.

Today in the 21st Century, we’ve lost the simpler life of yesteryear. Things have become complex, and high tech has become the new god that promises to solve all our perceived problems. Easier, however, through technology has made things even harder for many.  In the modern world, wrong is right, and right is wrong. I suppose you could say we’re living in an “Upside Down Cake” world. A world in which honor and a man’s handshake has ceased to have the same meaning as it did not all that far back. Young people today hear no more about great men and women of accomplishment and sacrifice. Mother Theresa has been replaced with a Nuevo Madonna in shameful attire. If this is to be the new world order, I cringe at the thought and want no part of it.

“The Times They Are A-Changin” as Bob Dylan sang.

But the winds of change don’t imply an act of repenting or seeking forgiveness.

On the contrary, change today means we have come out on the other side of faith, where we have discarded our moral compass of old. And just like that, morals and values have been replaced with a mobile app that gives us North, South, East, and West but goes nowhere of value because the “New World Order” is devoid of Godly values. Instead, the Values adopted by this new generation have become RELATIVE to individual will. After all, God is said to be dead. And history is no longer important as today and tomorrow’s technology, created by man, promises to solve all problems, and we’ll live in someone’s imaginary Utopia. That’s a place where faith, God, Heaven, and Hell are considered nonsense and unnecessary in this new creation of man – a better version than what religion has failed to bring to this world. But brilliant minds of the new men and women of the modern world have created science and cast God out of our culture’s consciousness.

We have become lost souls adrift, but we’re moving at warp speed as we tear ourselves from our foundations and are hurtling our collective selves out into vast nothingness. Yep, we’re lost but making good time as we move more and more into a life of “Virtual Reality” of our own making. We have become self-made gods and worship man and other idols of fame and fortune and celebrity. Yes, we’re replacing the idea of a Creator with our own arrogant self-importance.

Thus, the cycle begins here in the 21st Century as we seem hell-bent on inevitably slipping into the gutter of a polluted mindset learned in “state-run” institutions of learning. The cycle begins here but predictably ends badly. History tells us, “nothing is new under the sun” but those new world folks know nothing of history because it was unimportant to the teachers and professors of the “new world order”.

Unavoidably we must sink to the depts of despair created by a fallen world of our own making and choosing before the cycle ends right back where it started. We must be humbled by a reality where, in the end, are we forced to reach out in desperation to seek the face of our Creator God where love resides, and truth prevails, and then honor can be restored.

The Peter, Paul, and Mary song “Where have all the Flowers Gone” begs the question “…when will they ever learn…” When indeed will we realize mankind is NOT the center of the Universe? All things do not revolve around us, no matter how hard some try to convince us that it does. Convince yourselves as you will, you can never be any more than a hologram of a real person in this expected Utopia, unable to experience the projects of simpler times.

Those times are where people actually touched each other, soulfully and with a purity of love only found in humility and obedience to a power greater than us and with values as old as time itself. We are not perfect, and there is no perfect reality.

Today the projects we are given require us to re-imagine everything – Imagine that!

We’re expected to re-imagine what a hero is, what a man or woman should look like, what a mom and dad should look like. Perhaps we should re-imagine all of that under the all-powerful “State”, that which provides everything for us all. It is that imaginary thing that loves us unconditionally, wipes away every tear, comforts us is difficult and in sad times. Yep, I guess we need to believe the all-powerful state will also tuck us in at night. But the tradeoff is that when we’re old, they will put us to sleep permanently when the “State” determines the age at which we are of no further productive value.

Our newly evolved social order has taken a turn for the worst. At the fork in the road, they have taken the wide road, the easy choice that faith tells us is the road to destruction. You can take that to the Bit-Coin Bank.

Submitted by Joe Mavilia, author, journalist, syndicated columnist published in print media including the Los Angeles Times, The Golden Transcript – Colorado, La Feria News – Texas, The Pasadena Weekly – California, and others around the country, including,  Contributing editor, Content writer for, and columnist of Caprock Patriot.


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