Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Very Sad State of Affairs Indeed

Yesterday the realities of the POTUS elections found themselves into my home as my wife and I voted absentee ballot here in Ohio and we were faced with the decision about electoral votes in the lead up to the November elections. There in black and white were the selections to choose from which were the same band seen far too much on TV in these last months. So realizing I am taking much more seriously these elections I found myself deeply pondering and praying for God's person for each of the ballot markings.  The sad reality not only for the electoral selections but for all the choices for the many positions caused me to realize a person's true personage, faith and beliefs  are never clearly known if at all.

Very much I would prefer to blanket vote for people of faith but the only way to know that is if you know the person personally which, of course, the great majority of the voting public do not so re rely on a bill board, a word of mouth or a gut feeling not ever really knowing the worth of those we are voting for.  The POTUS electorate has divided our already divided nation to a degree I never recall.  

Social media has provided and enabled people to vent, criticize, challenge, abuse, slam the candidates as well as those having the guts to express a thought or an opinion knowing regardless of who you are or what you stand for or believe, once you reduce your thoughts to social media, just wait for the criticism will begin momentarily. I am not saying that is all bad but what it does do, I realize, is deepen and widen the fissures of an exasperated public toward the process, the candidate and toward each other with what I am sure will be long lasting results.

We all have opinions, ideas and hopes.  That is a great thing. But what social media has done either intentionally or by surprise, is grant written voice on issues, concerns, people which ultimately and sadly creates the embers of anger to be expressed and many times in name calling and downright assaults on integrity, faith, etc. In other words, if we could put the genie of social media back int he bottle, I would vote for that. The sad, really sad dimension for those of us that call ourselves Christian is seeing the poisonous and venomous rants posted when someone states a choice or an opinion. 

Hey, at least we can now have a means to step out of the shadows of silence and disgust and express our thoughts and I think that is a great thing.  But as the far too many debates are televised generating billions of dollars for the networks and advertisers, the net results if an every widening span of angry and frustrated voters breaking into deeply divided factions along party, racial, ethnic, lifestyle, etc, lines then the shooting war unfolds in FB posts at each other and less about the core issues we are processing as correct when all too often after the fact we learn the weapons were wrong, inaccurate or downright biased and intentionally wrong and misleading. But by then the hurts are deeply driven into the heart and friends are divided.

My concern, my core concern about all of this is that all of this now IS our nation. We are an angry, frustrated, divided people for we are now able to see and with an enabled means to express.  I frankly feel the Party system is archaic and needs revolutionized and feel that will be one of the positives that will fall out of this very public debacle.  I do not feel good about a single one of the candidates regardless of ticket; there, I said it. I will not create a list of whys but the snarling, lack of decorum, bullying, attacking, misinformation, knit picking simply has soured me on the whole process. A great part of that souring is the reality of the amount of money these people must raise just to begin the race opening the door then to the candidates being beholder to the givers and that is, for me, criminal but so very true.

My heart is deeply troubled about where we are as a nation. I see America as becoming very godless in beliefs, standards, expectations and drives. Trump examples an interesting chemistry which fundamentally is a metaphor for the long silent majority of Americans and I am one, that is sick and tired of poor POTUS leadership, weakening and overworked military, no regard for the Constitutional system, scandals galore, arrogance on a grand scale. 

Americans want America back and Trump sadly looks like the tallest of the pygmies to create wide scale change in Washington, See, at the aggregate of this whole blog is the degree of absolute sickness of Americans with anything in Washington. Bloated payrolls, ineffective servicing the population. Social Security being robbed, IRS attack dogs, VA, Snowden, ISIL, Iran and the list grows daily. THAT is what Americans want cleared and cleaned up. Do I think Trump can make a difference in turning the propellers into a new direction as POTUS or Cruz or Mickey Mouse, probably not. Why? 

For I believe God has stepped back from America and is allowing us to wonder in the desert and we are seeking a Moses but there is not one to be found. Why? Because God created Moses and his work and it is my thoughts at this juncture not a single one of these men or woman has the skills, courage and vision to lead this nation for we have turned our backs as a nation on the principles, boundary markers the Bible talks about, and have turned to an array of satanic ways and means never before imagined.

Transgender, same sex anything, abortion, movements aimed solely at racial divide thus using race as an agent of change which become incendiary and dangerous; people like Sharpton and worse is the counsel sought by our POTUS and POTUS candidates is, well, deplorable but certainly not surprising is it?  We the People have allowed and fomented this which we see for we are all culpable to varying degrees so, in other words, we are pretty much getting what we have created via lethargy, playing around the edges spiritually instead of boldly taking a stand on these aberrant societal values eradication. So why should any of us stand surprised? I certainly am not for I have been culprit to exactly what I just outlined under the mantra of, well, I am just one so I cannot make a difference thus we have become a nation of wimps and accepting the worst of or fellow humans.

All this has been freshened for me in having conducted two chapel services last night at county jail to about fifty men and as you spend a few minutes with them personally, research crime reports as to what put them into the judicial system you are reminded of the breadth of the death of societal norms. 

Once great athletes and sports heroes locally not tarnished for life due to a needle or crack pipe and a band of friends all lined up to help them down the pathwath of destructive behaviors thus destroying those that admired and looked up to them. Crack cocaine, heroin, meth, prescription drugs, alcohol far outweigh the minority of really mean, cunning, dangerous men and women in our jails and prisons.  Drug addiction is the spear of destruction of the America we once knew and the general population is oblivious to the magnitude of the evil that abounds all around us as accepted behavior. We as a nation are destroying ourselves from the inside thus we do not need Iran, Russia nor any one else for the fatal injection for we are doing it to ourselves.

Yes, I am a most angry American and I refuse to be silent, I think each of us should self examine who we really are, what do we really stand for and what are we willing to do to return our nation to a long gone time.  Two parent homes are now a relic and I am convinced that that is the root of what I have just described. Today multiple partners, missing parents in a familial environment creates a class of confused kids that fall prey to the drug pushers, social media bullying that are part and parcel of the cancer now wholesale consuming our nation's essence of what once was. 

So you see, this is all much, much greater than who you vote for or who you can attack on social media for stating an opinion or a hope. This is about us and it is US that is losing this war. No individual will ever magically lead us out of what we ourselves have walked ourselves into. I learned that from the Japanese many years ago and it is so very true.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Good morning, Vietnam"

Most of you will know exactly where that came from which is the Robin Williams line in what otherwise was a sad, tragic movie but through his comic genius made the watchers, like me, forget the gore that was abounding lifted us for a few precious moments.  For some strange reason when the world saw the video of  Bernie Sanders going to Al Sharpton, I refuse to use the title Sharpton likes which is Reverend, that movie line came back to me.  A Liberal voter I am not but then I am not necessarily an assigned voter and never have been. My voting life I have sought to vote my heart for the office seeker, referendum, etc and not align solely to a party. Sanders, at best, I guess, is less bad than his competitor Hillary and believe me, that is a really sad state of affairs in a nation and a world blowing up around us daily.

I believe my greatest worry or concern about this nation resides in the angst and ever-fueled issue of race.  Never in my lifetime do I recall that divide being wider and the deeper I search to understand why it is so bad, the trail of crumbs seems to always lead back to Washington DC and the period of worsening seems to be almost to the date of the swearing in of our POTUS.  There are those that will criticize my comment as me hating Obama or being a racist but those that know me know that is not a proper description of my heart and beliefs.

The sheer use of the term "race" changes the coloration of processing what is trying to be expressed.  Having been a child of the 1960s in Alabama, I saw first hand racism in its raw and ugly form. Having spent considerable time in South Africa post apartheid, I had another dose of racism unfolded before me so I am certainly no virgin on the matter.  But what has been allowed, encouraged, celebrated and fueled in our nation by an array of politicians, celebrities, entertainers, events causes me to really fear a race-driven insurrection feasibility in our nation.

Last night as I was driving to church, I saw a billboard that stated ..." real love is having a CCW" which, of course, means encouraging citizens to seek a concealed weapons certification. What hit me was using the term "love" in such a way was a total turn off to me in that moment.  But then I read the statistics of gun sales gun ownership, CCW applications all linked to more and more violent killings robberies, etc perpetrated usually by African Americans, the calculus incites me deeply.  My thought is that in working with well over three hundred thousands prison inmates in the last several years of my life conducting worship services and seeking to get to know each of these men and women at a spiritual level, my sensitivities are biased in favor of these poor souls.  You never, however can forget, that it is they that put themselves behind those bars by bad choice and most times drug and alcohol fueled and gang driven.

I have said all of that to get to my point.  America has lost our smile, our desire to belly laugh for fear to offending, being on the wrong side of a reality or being accused of racism. Terminologies change from some source and thus today what you say is accepted and the next you are a racist if you use the same term.  Hearing the deafening sounds of my childhood such a Black Panthers, watching on global television such as the Super Bowl, an array of black entertainers we know now with songs and subliminal messages on these caustic, unproductive movements all serve to cause me to want to just turn up my music on my laptop and ignore the whole mess for a mess is preciously what it is.

Ferguson, for me, is a class example of what I am so frustrated about. Endless protests burning, always looting, police hating and killing all, ALL fueled from an over sized videoed thug robbing and assaulting the store owner and then blatantly not acting as a responsible citizen by not following a policeman's order to get out of the middle of the street and then attacking the policeman in being the well known bully Mike Brown was known to be and voila, it is all the policeman's fault, is it society's fault; it is everybody's except where the real culprit resides, Mike Brown.  Again, this incident is a microcosm and a sad metaphor as to where our nation as arrived and I strongly believe its root of the insurrection resides in the White House.

Here is where my heart is this early morning ... I want America, my nation, to be comfortable and to be able to smile about life, about hope, about investing a person's life into something good. Where we are, however, is the enveloping Entitlement mentality and Big, Overreaching Government. It is that term that causes me more and more concern now with Sanders, a proclaimed Socialist, the front runner to replace Obama on the Democratic side. Then there is Clinton that is, well, not worth my time to write words to describe my dislike for the very name Clinton, the Machine.

Then I look at the continuing GOP posturing and jockeying with seemingly every pundit and talking head tearing away at Trump, the overwhelming GOP ticket front runner and you wonder why as we see the flocking, finally, away of the lower level candidates to the exit door.  Whether you like Trump or not, whether you believe a word he says or not; one thing is for sure, his numbers do not lie. He has tapped into the long silent majority of Americans are fed up with the American this POTUS has led us to be which filled with anger, distrust and shadows of darkness about the future. That is sinister, sinful and scary; and it is all in a master Liberal plan I am convinced.  And please know that I am not nor have I ever been a conspiracy theory nut job.

Our nation is sick, broken, broke! Those can will lead the nation to the sunlight are challenged to look beyond the rhetoric of hate and discord so abundantly being cast on We the People. It is not about the number of CCW applications, guns owned and desired, it is not about beating up on people that even smile or question the Second Amendment; it is about somebody having the courage to step up and lead, make tough decisions, implement the decisions through a convoluted legislative system fueled by special interests and money.

I want to laugh again as to Americans!

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Many years ago at an off ramp in my life, a great and very wise man made a comment that has returned to me many, many times in watching issues unfold, ball games, relationships. The comment simply stated:  If the only tool you have is a hammer, then ever problem looks like a nail.

In putting on my reflection hat this early morning, my mind goes back to some of those very real leaders I watched closely and how they seemed to have an endless tool sack of questions, thoughts, statements, emotions that would be rolled out based on the situation at that moment in time.  

I see the adage often watching basketball games with young age boys and girls when you may have one shooter and four watchers and the whole team is slaved to that one shooter.  If that shooter is hitting the shots, that is good but for me in observing team play, the game is never just about the score at the end of the game.  In every trip up and down the floor, the fundamentals some amazing coaches grilled into me come screaming from someplace deep inside me.

Comments in my hard drive that are indelible:
  • the baseline is your best friend or your worst enemy
  • effective rebounders are ruthless and attack the ball all the time
  • why do you have to dribble when you can pass
  • blocking out is the secret to winning basketball
  • watch the ball always
  • when guarding watch the eyes of the opponents; they never lie
That is a very short list that, for me, forms a body of knowledge that becomes active the moment I walk into a gym, sit in a meeting, watch a situation unfold for those comments have emotional application regardless of where or what you are doing.  Another great one for me that is innately part of my life is called "looking away from the ball."

 As a spectator I will quickly transition from watching the boy with the ball to taking a broader, deeper view of the floor game to watch that players without the ball are doing, are plays being set up, are the players cognizant of ball location and movement and when the ball is shot, what does that trigger in both teams at that crucial moment.

So I never just watch casually a basketball game nor do I casually listen to dialogue or conflicts emerge or direction given for I look past that for the deeper motivation, intention and desire.  I played for an interesting, unique, at times frustrating, fundamentals coach in high school.  His philosophy was a highly controlled offense and an attack defense.  That was uncommon during those mid 1960s and made even more alien with the inception of the three point shot that changed everything.  Then came the era of the Michael Jordans and all the crazy dribbling, amazing passing and shooting. While more entertaining at the time, I began to watch the game and the game of life shift from fundamentals and team play to run and gun, single player dominance and the rest of the team fed that player.   For me the game took a giant step backward for the fundamentals of team player quickly evaporated in the mist of fancy play making, living and dying by the three pointer, etc. 

Leaders are just as good as their tool sack of competencies. Effective leaders constantly are seeking ways to enhance and to increase the objects in the tool sack so that when that moment of need comes the right tool, comment, question, approach is ushered for but all the time focused on maintaining the teamsmanship. So many times I have been on the giving and the receiving end of such effective leadership and likewise, have been in the situation where the need for effective competencies or the situation was muffed with much collateral damage.

This blog, for me, is about Life.  As I get older, I find myself thinking about situations, actions, leaders, non-leaders effectiveness, damage, anger long term impact, etc. Having coached many young leaders on my journey as well taught several thousand college students, I never forgot the purpose of a coach which is to find the key to each player at a very individual view to move that player out of the shade of complacency into the warmth of effective leadership of others. Oh it is so sweet to watch that transformation plus I know it will last a lifetime and affect thousands of others; the beneficiaries of the transformation. 

So here is my challenge: what really is your tool sack holding as tools to be used when needed?  Think about that and be objective in your inventory. Are you hammer for, if so, there will be an endless supply of nails around you on life's journey.