Speak Up! The Willy Way

Tony McLean Brown Willie Nelson

Three things have happened in my life to generate this Happy Guide blog post:

  • 1 Kelli and I just read “The Tao of Willie – A Guide to Happiness in Your Heart.”
  • 2 Roe vs Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court while NC State University just celebrated 50 years of Title IX
  • 3 I wrote a post on Facebook musing about the unequal representation of women in all three branches of the US federal government

It’s a headful of stuff that is swirling around at warp speed, but I guess together we might make sense of it.  Worse case, we can laugh at my expense and bad punctuation/grammar.  Let’s go to work.


To be clear, Kelli and I loved Wille’s book.  We love his music.  Kelli met him in Key West, and he complained that our dope was not as strong as his Austin Torpedoes.  He’s an old white-ish Texas man raised in the Methodist church who celebrates not fitting into society’s norm in a peaceful and contagious way.  Who don’t love that?  He celebrates diversity and is all about the inclusion of music.  Top three excerpts that made us laugh/giggle:

Golden Rule“The practical advantage of the Golden Rule over a philosophy of total non-violence is that by admitting the likelihood of response in the case of attack by an individual or nation, you are not left in defenseless position.”  Put a better way, “Don’t screw with me, Jack, and I won’t screw with you.”

Cowboy Way“If you do things according to that sense of right, it will work out to everyone’s advantage … I introduced Charlie Pride to a redneck audience that looked like they wanted to lynch him for being black … I walked up to Charley and kissed him full on the lips.”

Don’t Think No Negative Thoughts – “It’s up to you to spread life and spirit through the positive, not the negative, to be generous and to think of others as of equal importance as ourselfl, to use whatever money and power you have to make the world a better place.”  Can I get an Amen?!

In his book, Mr. Nelson reminds his readers of the plight of the Cherokee Indians from Western North Carolina where I grew up.  This is not conceptual … forget Hollywood’s version … if you have sat through “Unto these Hills,” then you get the general idea of what white men did to native Americans in 1850.  

WhatsApp Image 2022-06-28 at 9.22.59 PM

Now before you start on me about “I wasn’t born then so why does it matter?” … the North Carolina State Capitol was built in 1840.  GrandLloyd’s father was alive and sent Lloyd to the Asheville Farm school that was built just after the Injuns (Willie’s word, not mine) were run off.  This ain’t ancient history.

Tony McLean Brown Great Grandfather


Now, is it me, or is history repeating itself?

The Supreme Courts recent decision made me very sad because I’m the proud father of Julia Brown.  I’m pretty sure she’s smarter, more athletic, more creative, more kind and caring then any old white male politician, government bureaucrat, lawyer, or judge that I’ve met over the past three decades.  

The idea of any man (who has no experience getting preggers) being able to tell her what she can or cannot do with her body is fundamentally appalling.  To my way of thinking, the recent Supreme Court decision undermines the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and the fundamental principles of democracy.

Yet another example of a marginalized group who is not fairly represented in our government being told what to do and how to live (Think Willie’s family).

The USA government telling women what to do with their bodies is kissing cousins to the Boston Tea Party … except back then it was the Colonist (white men) who were on the wrong side of the stick.  Does this ring Paul Revere’s bell … “Taxation without representation” 

It’s a slogan used to describe being forced by a government to do something without having a say—such as through an elected representative—in the actions of that government.

It feels like to me that women are being told what to do by government with having a say.  Maybe women in America should plan a tea party of their own?  Fun fact:  Since 1960 there have been more women than men in the USA.

QUESTION: If 50% of the US citizens are female, then shouldn’t 50% of the elected representatives of our citizens be female?

Tony McLean Brown Women Percentage


In my attempt to find an answer to that singular question, I made a Facebook post that simply asked if folks thought that having only 33% female representation in the judicial branch, 24% and 28% female representation in legislative branch, and 0% in the executive branch was equitable or fair.  

Tony McLean Brown Women in Congress

I was not trying to change anyone’s mind.  I was not advocating a particular position.  I simply wanted to understand how folks felt about the mathematical systemic bias against women in our current structure of government.  

I was and remain here to simply listen and learn.

Now, as many of you know, my social media game ain’t up to Julia’s 17 million views and 2.5 million likes on TikTok … but I did get a very thoughtful and respectful comment from a high school friend/neighbor who happened to also be a fat & happy, old, white, southern man.  Sorry dude.  

To be politically correct … maybe I should say I’m “fitness challenged” instead of the body type insensitive southern saying “fat and happy.”

Big ass wind up (pun intended) to … I had over 120 people engage in this civil conversation on my Facebook post about the factual imbalance of power in America.  The comments were varied and the opinions were different, but folks were polite and earnest.

Kelli and I would drink a sweet tea or a swig of moonshine with anyone of the individuals who were compelled to engage.  Good people with good hearts and good brains who walked their own personal journey through life from around the world, USA, NC, and Asheville.

Tony McLean Brown Cheers Kelli Darlin

Today, I think about the sordid shadows of Jesse Helms’ legacy in NC, and it inspires me to help improve the DEI track record in my home state.  We must do better.

Tao of Jesse Helms – ok, so maybe the responsibility of white southern men on the Trail of Tears doesn’t feel current enough.  Let’s try this one … Jesse Helms was a NC Senator from 1973 to 2003.  I started Enka High School in 1973 … GrandLloyd and I started Penley Produce in 1973.  Senator Helms opposed civil rightsdisability rightsfeminismgay rightsaffirmative action, access to abortions, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and the National Endowment for the Arts.[3]  

WhatsApp Image 2022-06-28 at 9.48.58 PM

I’m proud of Facebook, I’m proud of my past, and I’m proud of all the folks that share my life story/history.  While others may have differing opinions or understanding, I believe we need to have equal representation of all citizens in our beautiful but extremely messy American democracy.

Here is the amazing thing to me, I never met or heard of ONE (1) person who admitted to voting for Jesse Helms.  I went to Francis Asbury United Methodist Church, Sand Hill Elementary and Middle Schools, Enka High School, NC State University, and Duke University.  


Growing up outside of Asheville, I don’t recall a single person saying to me, “I think Blacks shouldn’t go to our schools”, “I think we shouldn’t support disabled people,” “I think women should not be in the Military,” or “We shouldn’t play Queen’s “We are the Champions” because he is gay.”  

Sure, Coach Moore was pissed cause our all white track team was pretty damn slow, but he just pushed us to work harder.  My college roommate was LGBQT+ before it was cool, but nobody ever said an unkind word to him while I was around.

Tony McLean Brown Enka Track Star

Yes, Jesse Helms was the longest-serving popularly elected Senator in North Carolina's history.  NC owns this sad fact in its’ history books … there is no denying that old, white, southern, men controlled the power of government when I was vegetable farming through high school and college.  


So here we sit in 2022 and folks are more divided than ever over women’s reproductive rights.  That’s what got all this started in the first place on Facebook.

In the Declaration of Independence, it states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”  

As a proud Wolfpack fan raised in a Methodist Church in Candler, NC … as a dirt farmer with average grades and 900 SAT score, I even noticed our founding fathers did not chose the words “all humans are created equal.”  

If we have listened carefully since George Floyd lost his life

If we have learned from SCOTUS taking liberty from poor women … 

Then, we will be happy to fight to protect the rights of ALL citizens?   

Gay or straight, Christian or Jewish, black or white, yankees or rebels, California or Texas … pick any of the polarities.  The goal is life, liberty, and happiness.  It’s the Willie Way.

Live your own Tao.

Here’s today’s vid-clip:

Play Video
Author Tony McLean Brown Happy Guide

Tony McLean Brown

A Western NC hillbilly through and through, Tony McLean Brown was born in the small town of Enka-Candler outside of Asheville.  His parents re-named him when he was 3 years old to Tony (a nickname provided by his grandfather) McLean (middle name of his Uncle Michael) while retaining his legal surname Brown.

Throughout his career, Tony McLean Brown worked as a farmer, computer programmer, and management consultant – in his adventurous years – author, song-writer, bass player, poet, pilot, mountaineer, certified scuba diver, and competitor in professional bull riding, NASCAR late model racing, Toughman boxing, Crossfit Open, Ironman, pole vaulting, marathon and ultra-marathon running, as well as parenting.

www.HappyGuidetoaShortLife.com has been leveraged to help charities and non-profits across the globe, USA, NC, and Lake Norman area. If you, your family, school, church, or charity has been supported, please take the time to share, like, subscribe, comment, and provide a 5 star review!


  1. Myra on June 29, 2022 at 5:24 pm

    The best commentary I have read and my sentiments entirely. I, for one, went to two (2) marches in D. C. for Women’s rights years ago. As a single woman with children, discrimination in the work pace was very evident. My favorite saying was “I do not want an 80 year old man, Jesse Helms, or the Washington crowd telling me what I can do,” Your message came across as one of the best yet, and from a modern, smart and knowledgeable man.
    I am very proud of you, and Kelly. Was nice seeing you all at Leonard’s. Thanks for all you do for family and others. You have a great Penley heart!

  2. Myra on June 29, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    My comment, I remember Jesse Helms, and a lot of the other politicians who discriminated against women. I was a young Federal employee, when the discrimination of women was at its highest. I went to the “Women’s March” in Washington 2 times for Women’s rights. We rode a bus all night, walked all day, and rode the bus back the next night. Women at that time were having a hard time competing with the men, even though they had the same education.
    As time went on, I learned the hard facts of life: Old, gray haired men, 80 years old, were trying to tell young women what they could do with their bodies. My philosophy was, No one can tell me what to do, and I work as hard as they do. Equality should be the same for all. I am still not sure we have not regressed after the new Supreme Court decision. Makes me sad for the female race. Ladies, and men, who support us, keep the pressure on, as your daughters and grandchildren are growing up, and believe me, living thru the discrimination of women in the workplace was a very sad affair. Been there, done that! Please support the “Womens Rights, ” issues in our world today. Tony, thanks for your dissertation on this issue. Y our message is great!