Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Arc of History ...

A quote from the late Dr. Martin Luther King has become much popularized again in the last twenty-four hours when he said:  “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice.”  It is a quote I have heard many times on my sixty five year arc so I feel at least chronologically qualified to make a few comments.  My comments, no doubt, will be met by those that will praise the thoughts and a few that will probably raise the racist moniker yet again but I wish to put my heart in 2013 to words. 
In the last two days, forty eight hours, two landmark decisions by the United State Supreme Court have thrown on Scriptural doctrine on the definition of marriage that dates back  a few thousand years and the Voting Rights Act is overturned eradicating a much heralded and painful era in which I lived my teen age years in, yes, Alabama.  Two major democratically and theomatically doctrined bodies of law cast aside by basically five men in two days.  There just seems to be something wrong with that as I have pondered and sought to gain a degree of understanding of these forces.
One of the things I came to realize in graduate school years ago was really eyeopening for me as to the learning I thought I knew from civics class in high school.  There are three arms of our Government: Congress that makes laws, Executive that manages the organizations these laws create and a Judicial that gives the citizens the Constitutional means to right wrongs by other citizens. That was hard to put into my brain at an early age but I finally figured it out. But then a strange thing happened one day when I realized the Congress is not the only branch of Government that can make laws for law is created when the Supreme Court rules on a Congressionally legislated law.  I found that most interesting. In light of the last forty eight years I find it downright frightening.
Our Founders, as I understand their mindset, was to use the prism of Checks-and-Balances as the three arms of Government were put into structure and operationalized.  So here we are since 1776, still a relatively young nation by the way, struggling with: “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice” --- Martin Luther King Jr. 
Some of us remember well the Freedom Riders. the Selma Marches, marches in our hometowns, the dogs in Birmingham. Some of us remember Leroy Gray, a young 17 year old black man forced to attend my high school in the graduating class of 1966 so our 265 graduating group would have one black; 264 plus 1.  It seemed sto wrong then and I grew to really like Leroy and hurt to see his plight. I could not begin to imagine what he felt each day in getting up knowing what faced him as his sun rose in a sea of angry white kids.  He passed away several years ago as I understand but I never had the chance to sit with him years after that chaotic year for ALL OF US to hear his thoughts on the world of the late 1960s.
Some of us remember clearly the White and Colored bathrooms and water fountains, back entrances to doctor and dentist offices that I, as a white man, never thought twice about for that was our culture. It sickens me when I think of that clouded, dulled time of my life as I view it through the rear view mirror of my life.  I can see it oh so clearly even now! 
So well do I remember playing basketball in high school against the first black high school player in Alabama, Danny Treadwell.  I can see now him playing in the State basketball tournament as the first black player and being so rattled that the first foul shot he took sailed completely over the backboard. My heart ached for him; but then I had to guard him the next day. I knew that next day that the world of white basketball in Alabama had changed forever. I was right!
It is not my intention to create a litany of Civil Right memories but until yesterday with the throwing out of the Voting Rights Act did I actually register on the term "Civil RIGHTS" and even more so, "Voting RIGHTS."  I well remember wrestling with the events of my decade of the 1960s most of which none of us really understood. Oh yes, we were seeing our friends go off to somewhere called Viet Nam and some not coming home and those that came home were not those that left; they had changed.
This week I have found myself deeply troubled by the "Arc of the Moral Universe" King spoke about for it is my assessment, today, that that Arc has somehow fallen into the ocean of rationalization.  See, I learned from a great mentor that what sets Man apart from the animals is that Man can rationalize and animals cannot. It is psychologically called Cognitive Dissonance Reduction. I call it rationalizing away any semblance of absolutes.
One of my guiding principles is that "if you do not stand for something you will fall for anything."  My pastor, rightly, holds his Bible up during sermons to exclaim that the Bible is the only absolute today. I say, AMEN. In saying AMEN I am saying that the principles and teachings create a fundamental body of knowledge within which Man must and can exist with each other. When those absolutes are rationalized away, then we will fall for the next snake oil product being peddled.
THAT, simply, is my greatest, heart felt concern for my children and my grandchildren and their children's children.  I knew in 1965 that what the black people faced was horrific but like most other white kids chose to ignore or it was just too big to attack. So we rationalized the wrong into a morphed sense of just not worry about it.  The marriage debacle of this week, for me wreaks of the same odor of rationalization.  Many have heard me say and read my words that Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong and no amount of Wrong will ever, EVER, make a Wrong, Right.
This week I feel we have taken a multi-generational step backwards that I will not see regained in my lifetime if ever. When I realize that there are more years behind me that there are in front of me, then the gravity of all of this takes on new meaning.  As a Christian man, I feel a sense of gut level concern about the tomorrows. But I also follow my Arc of History and believe by faith that my Heavenly Father is fully aware of all of this and therefore all of this is part of a grand plan only He can execute. I say, YESSSSSSSSSSSSS for that takes much of the angst from my intestines in realizing that all I have to do is stand on His principles He gave us clearly in the Bible and He will take care of the rest. It really is that simple. Thank you, God!
It is my hope that my words penned from my heart will find a place of solace for some that are agitated by the historical rumblings of our current times.  The IRS debacle was, for me, a metaphor for our government and its leadership in 2013.  Hands off, arrogant, pompous, corrupt and aimless with no accountability.  How could any organization have order with those tenets not nailed into place I ask?
We the People must focus on the principles given clearly in the Bible. I will take my stand on that absolute and that stand will be immovable.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Leading and Creating -- the twin Columns of Leadership

Earlier this week I found myself with this strange since of being a bit bored.  Boredom is a most interesting sense for it can do strange things to your sense of worth, well being, joy and a few other things.  All day I had felt just, well, under-stretched deeply inside and I did not like that sense.  I began to inventory all the things I am involved and invested with and even with all those balls in the air, I could not escape this strange sense of being bored.
Now mind you if I had expressed that to my wife, it would have been a rather short conversation for there would have been a significant laundry list, including laundry, that would quickly fill all my life for weeks yet to come. Enough on that but you get my point I believe! 
That afternoon my son came over and we were sitting outside watching the grand kids; always a joy.  In that conversation I expressed to Taylor that sense of being somewhat bored to which he summoned up simply, and correctly with, "dad, leaders, if they are not leading or creating, are always bored."   It was one of those moments where I found myself thinking about so many things one of which was realizing just how true and pertinent and well targeted his words were!
So you can know, with that brief but potent conversation, my spirits lifted and that cloud moved on out that was dulling my senses that whole day.  I do love to lead which means to plan, organize, direct, coordinate and control; the Principles of Management.  I believe in the definition of Leadership as the process of influencing an organized group towards its goal setting and its goal accomplishment for Leading is about serving and is therefore about partnering for performance!  So many hundreds of my students have experienced that first hand during my teaching decade but to be reminded of the vital nature of leading was profound and felt so good to me.
I realize there are many people that really do not want to lead, to give direction, to assume responsibility thus avoid any semblance of conflict or confrontation.  For whatever the reason, I do enjoy leading immensely.  I realize that leaders will at times make others want to climb rocks or wish the leader would fall off a few but one thing is for sure; nothing happens without leading.  I love to study effective leaders and get very frustrated when I see evidence of weak or non-existent or even worse, misdirected leadership.  Yes, there are many examples of each category around to view if you choose to view for the evidence resides not with the leader but with the corporate gathering of those being led.
I did not intend to blog about leadership today but the brief conversation with my son earlier has remained with me so I must but assume that God had a purpose for me needing to put words to it via my blog.  Leading is a gift for it is founded on the touchstone of respect. There is no leading without  respect and importantly, respect is normally the gift provided by those being led. Leaders must earn the right for the responsibility.
I hope this means something special to someone reading this today!  Thank you Taylor; my wise son!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lost Faith in my Government

As I have now watched the hearings on the IRS, the continuing smoke generation on Benghazi, the now brought to light government over reaching of personal phone and data information I am simply appalled.  Then to see POTUS appoint an already publicly disgraced Susan Rice to head the NSA in the midst of all of this garbage was, for me, the capper.  My faith in our government has now plummeted to an all time low and I am the eternal optimist.

I have sought to trust the Administration for that is what my Bible tells me I am to do. I have prayed for my leaders and for their wisdom.  I have fought the convulsive anger welling inside me about the breadth of how bad all this really is and tried to rationalize that the issues are just news fodder and that we will all be alright.  That bubble of belief is for me shattered irrevocably.

My trust in this President and his henchmen is gone.  This all hearkens to the Kremlin or Gestapo abuses and misdeeds that none of us could ever have imagined, me at least, would in fact be part of my very own nation's leadership reality.  We anger at Wall Street and the bailouts or the billions given to Chrysler and GM while the big bankers were bailed out and then billions in bonuses paid for poor leadership.  All of that pales to the breadth of the poison, corruption and downright lying we the citizens and taxpayers of this nation are seeing exposed now daily.

Now there will be those, friends of mine, that no doubt view my words through the lens of racism because everything sense this man Obama has been in office, any opposing views have been countered by the stench of racism.  I may be called many things but a racist is certainly not one of them.  It is my now confirm belief that this man is vile, dangerous, demonic and with a socialization agenda that surpasses our worst nightmares for the facts are becoming blatant with these ever increasing revelations.  That is the good news for the bad is that I am convinced there are much and many more yet to be made public; but the depth of this debacle of a POTUS will come to light I am now convinced for the truth will, in fact, set you free.

For me, this POTUS is in a class far worse than Nixon ever could have been.  I realized as I sit here this morning and my anger is not anger at all but rather a final resolve that this man and his circle of truly vile and malcontents bent on some vision for this nation totally not conceived by our Founders.  My perspective on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, is more of a crony and less of a countervailing force to a POTUS bent on structurally changing this nation.  Nations need the military leadership to serve as a backboard to bring logic to an irreverent or aberrant political machine.  A great nation needs both meaning strong, clear, forward focused political and military leadership to create a balance. I see no evidence of balance, frankly. That is scary!

I will close with my belief that any American in any way watching the morass unfold undeniably feels fear.  The IRS is in and of itself an agency of fear.  To see how mismanaged and arrogant the leadership blatantly is sickens us all.  To know our government openly lies to we the people on murders of our Ambassadorial staffs or stiff arms commercial enterprises to give over we the peoples' personal information is beyond the horizon of fear.  In my lifetime, never have I felt such disdain for a POTUS personally and professionally as this POTUS has managed to elicit so deeply inside me.

All of that is the good news for I am convinced that bad news is yet to see the light of day.  This Inspector General George has been stellar in his calm fact-based responses. The Congress via the hearings has actually restored a long lost sense of pride, especially Mr. Issa, that the process can and does work.  But the scorecard must read when it is all done, simply, okay, now what will be different? With this national leadership example, I think the workings will only be more dismaying and frightful and please know how badly I hate seeing those words come from me!

Our nation has lost its political, ethical footing; that alone is really sad.  But the complicity on a grand scale is appalling to me.  Having worked a nearly four decade career in a Fortune 100 company and the tough decisions that have to be made and actually implemented with measurable results and to see this lack of credible management systems and accountability on such a daunting scale is atrocious.  What I have witnessed via  CSPAN makes me angry and utterly sick to my stomach.  To see the fundamental lessons of Civics and American Government taught our children dashed to badly and so publicly is beyond reproach and a punishment commensurate to this arrogance should be exacted as example for future generations. But, alas, that will not happen.

We the Citizens are getting what we deserve unfortunately.  We the Citizens need to return to the principles of our God-inspired Founders wisdom and eradicate those that would choose to grow fat on our tax dollars and display complete uncaring for the citizenry of this once great nation.  Our legacy of greatness as a nation and calmer of the world is tarnished and not sure if this stain will be permanent or not. It is we that will determine that reality!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Heaven Will Surely Be Worth it All!

One of the great classics in Southern Gospel music was penned many years ago by Dad Speer with that title. Many of us have heard it and have sung it many times and I still love the song.  A few minutes ago I came across a YouTube video of Eldredge Fox, now deceased, that owned the Kingsmen Quartet and sang baritone for them for many years.  In that video, Mr. Fox and the Quartet sung this classic song very sweetly and I found myself melted into tears listening, really listening to the message of that song.   Please watch this video before reading further:
As our Sunday morning begins to unfold in a cloudy, rainy day, reflection again seems to visit me.  This week God has allowed me to view into some things in other's lives both inside a jail of bars and inside a "jail" of worries and fears about what the days ahead will bring.  I got to spend time with my grandchildren and watched my eldest play a baseball game yesterday afternoon. I love how he continues to improve and develop a real love for the game.  This week has been filled with singing, meeting new people, warming of talks of our history with old friends, seeing new life after high school begin via graduation, learned some new music; a busy week but a great week.
Someone asked me the other day how I was doing and my quick retort was that I got up this morning, did not ache and can still think pretty well.  That was such a short view answer to such a great question and I apologize to that person that asked me the question for she deserved much better.  So how am I doing, really?  That answer resides in that great song for with all the trials and tribulations, hurts and worries, pains and losses, wins and defeats of this life, I know little but I know for sure that Heaven surely will be worth all of this down here; I KNOW THAT!  In that knowledge I find refuge and strength daily and so easily take that for granted.
I know I at times I drive my wife crazy with my world of music but she knows how much I love it. But the real question I find myself asking myself is why does music escalate in my heart and my love for my Lord as life's days pass oh so quickly?  As I grow older and hopefully more mature, I find through seeing in the lives of others the touch of the Master's Hand through a song on a life hurting, in the flames of anger and distress or in a destroyed friendship bring calm and tears of joy and release.  For me it is less about the music per se but the music is more and more the medium to a hurting heart. So for me to be able to sing toward that end is, well, simply beyond measure in trying to understand. See, it is not for me to understand for it is but for me to do!
I love to study my Bible. I love to hear the array of sermons I hear at my church and in the jail work for each touch me in a most unique way as a artist brushstrokes on the canvas of my life.  I have used that analogy many times but that power of the reality grows daily and I love the growth.  So as we ponder the meaning of the fact that this life is made for trouble and strife, also the greater fact is that Heaven is very real and it will surely be worth all the strife of this life. On that I can reside for the rest of my days to be the best God would have me to be.
This is the day that the Lord has made so let us rejoice and be glad in it ... how long has it been since you rejoiced unabashedly, undeniably and with absolute release?  Let this day be the day you re-find the phenomenal sense of release that only sincere rejoicing can bring.  And remember, for we Christians, Heaven will surely be worth all of this travail on this journey!