Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Facets of this Thing Called Life

Yesterday I was deeply moved by watching a television interview by Charlie Rose with the writer for the New York Times, David Brooks. I have always found Brooks to be a clear minded, precise, incisive wordsmith. I have watched him in interviews many times before with each time causing me to drill more deeply into my own heart, life, being. Yesterday was an especially much deeper drilling to the point I recorded the hour interview so my wife and I could watch it together as we did last night.  I will say right up front that I do not embrace the whole of Brook's responses and ramblings but the essence of this comments and the amazing questions tossed to him by Rose put me on a much deeper and, I believe, richer plain spiritually and emotionally.

As I lay in bed after having awoke somewhere around 2 am, I lay there in the quiet darkness pondering what I had experienced viewing the Brooks interview. I even made some copious notes on my planning calendar during the interview hardly none of which I can read this early morning. I decided to start my day about 3:30 am even though I was basking in the black quiet of the laying down time serenaded by the breathing and small movements of my sleeping wife.  Yes, I even found myself in the darkness listening to her breathing patterns with this smile of thanks for the years she has invested in me and the many, many things, places, events we have shared together.  I recommend this therapy and it will only cost you some sleep but worth every breath.

Many years ago I heard of Viktor Frankl that wrote many books about his horrific experiences at Auschwitz; a place I have trod on four different, unique occasions.  Frankl was a brilliant Jewish doctor and reduced, in essence, via his writings after the experience of the daily hell hole of the death camp, to looking at the experience through the eyes of a sociologist meaning its impact on people and how they individually dealt with the unimaginable daily doses of torture, pain and suffering.  As I listened to Brooks' comments, my mind kept retracing the steps to Frankl's learning and teaching.  I will paste in a link that will give you a broader and deeper insight into Dr Frankl's view from the inside which, turned out, was quite learned and unique.  The essence being that even in the midst of an existence a normal person could not imagine, focusing on the value of the work and the contribution from the work was a means to stand above the pain and suffering of the Holocaust.  His work was groundbreaking and relevant to this day I believe.

Perhaps, for me at least, the most predominate take-away from the Brooks interview was framed in the question; What would you do if you were not afraid?  That question literally changed my breathing pattern as I began the personal drilling of my heart and soul with a dull drill bit. My wife has always described me to others as "fearless" which can be a two edged sword as you can imagine. But we all, as humans, have fears that serve to create boundaries, flashing lights and stop signs. True, we can choose to ignore the eminent danger but still, the warning signs are there. So the question, if all the warnings, lights and signs were psychologically removed, what would each of us do differently?

For me, in reflection, I believe what spoke most loudly to me through the hour was about what are the priorities we set for our lives.  Those that know me realize very quickly I am driven, ever hungry to understand, love to encourage those on my journey, love to see people encouraged even in the tough days and times and want the best for every person I know and will do what I can do to be part of getting them to meet their capability and potential. Brooks spoke of men and their masculine and feminine components with both being vital to the man as his life meanders through the cycles and channels of life.  Four major priorities Brooks spoke of for a man; choosing a spouse, selecting a vocation, determining one's faith and integrating into a very personal community. I have found myself, now sixty-eight years old retracing in my own life and journey how very telling and true those four phases truly are for me personally.

There was much spoken of on the topic of emotional connectivity  and sensitivity to others which is where the vital reality of the blending of the masculine and feminine traits meet the grinding wheel of life. I think it was the first time in my life where I fully processed the whole concept of a man having and needing feminine reservoirs from which to drink at pertinent times.  

I have known people, many people, in my life, that have developed such a hard edge to people, issues and events that I came to realize that edge was constructed from the hurts and scarring of past hurts. Brooks also rightly spoke of and with example the amazing implication's success in life and vocation being directly linked to the degree of love that person was imbued with from one's mother. The special type of love is amazingly vital to the channels demanded of effectively working with others as life goes forward. I fully believe that and see that love abounding in my grand kids by their mothers and their grandmother, Alicia, that loves in so many and so deeply ways. I realized in what I get to see within my own family, easily taken for granted, is the arming mechanism for these five grand children's lives and interfaces with thousands of other humans on their journey. It is truly an awesome thought process to seek to fully grasp but I believe absolutely correct.

I will conclude with what Brooks and Rose spoke much about which was C.S. Lewis's works especially in his book, Four Loves. I have researched that this morning and have ordered a paperback copy to read. I look forward to what will be revealed in me and about me when that reading is done.  It is my belief that my faith has been deepened in other's, about life and my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Given that alone the time to put some words from my heart together and the deep pondering these last twelve hours have been invaluable.

We are blessed to walk this journey together though we may not always see it or realize it. I see so many people in my life, now, some imprisoned behind bars, some imprisoned in the jail cell of aging and disease and some by just choosing to imprison themselves via drugs, hate, dissension.  I feel completely free of cells of constraint due in full measure to my belief that there is a life after this one that will far exceed anything I can imagine. I believe, as well, God is not done with me yet as more and more doors of opportunity and challenge continue to be opened and I never met a door I would would not walk through if I believe others would be made better as a result.

We live in a world more transparent that any of us can remember and this both a good thing and ac curse I am realizing. The current presidential campaign is proof positive of that assertion.  But just yesterday via FB an interesting dialog ensued with a former very special, most unique student that I have utmost respect for. I pushed back on a post the put up on FB for it, the post, was not reflective of the person and the woman I know her to be.  Add to that as I preached semester after semester, is that employers now immediately go to social media when assessing the potential hiring of a person so what is on FB becomes a mirror of what the employer sees and assesses.  I addressed that directly with this student and she pushed back on my comments defending her "right" to be who she is and it is "unfair" to be assessed by an employer from a social media post.  Others were chiming in supporting her position. I chose to address this more personally in a private FB message which turned into an amazng, uplifting dialog between two people that respect and admire each other. 

I use that to say that we all need each other even though we may need see it, realize it or even choose to ignore it but the fact still remains, People need  People more than ever before. Thank you for taking the time to read this rendering from my heart. I feel closer to my family, my wife, my friends, my Lord than I have in quite a period of time. I wish you the best and hope something in this rendering has touched your heart as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Attacking the Problem

Daily we are bombarded by this cancer called ISIL.  Daily I am still dumbfounded by the apparent lack of will or capability to vaporize what we are told is a relatively small group, say 30,000 people in a global grouping of recruits that are radicalized; whatever that means.  I see world leaders after a major blast say all the right things, pine about the need to annihilate this threat but here we are several years and many thousands of deaths later reading the same script.  I find it unacceptable and down right ludicrous.

Every problem appears insurmountable until you bring the right people together, identify the real threat decide an end state vision develop a small set of strategies, staff out the strategies and attack the problem.  Why am I not seeing this simple, non-complex approach?  There has to be some much greater forces at work for this to be allowed to go on as long as it has.  I fight the populist view that all Islam is corrupt and thus supportive of the ISIL movement but all evidence to the contrary I will state that if Islam is truly concerned about the view of their religion, then that religion is culpable to be part of the solution. I am looking for that but not seeing it.

I learned a long time ago that if you want to get to the heart of an issue, follow the money trail. Somebody is funding this ISIL movement so I find it hard to believe it hard to identify the funders / donors to this bloody cause.  It takes a great deal of money to fund a war machine so I cannot escape the belief that there are Islamic nations, families, royal families, global donors sending money to keep this movement alive and growing.  Let me underscore GROWING for from the apparent reach of ISIL as evidenced by Paris and now Brussels, the ISIL reach as grown to global proportions.  And STILL there is minimal military involvement by the nations of the European Union in the fight against ISIL. I find that sad and very interesting!

Often I wonder in retrospect what FDR did in the early days after December 7, 1941 and visiting Cuba to attend baseball games I doubt was on an agenda item along with half of Congress to enjoy the weather.  My belief is FDR immediately brought his generals and intelligence leadership together and gave them a timeline for a plan with options back to him for review and selection of core strategies. Why are we not seeing this approach?

Let me be frank, from all outward appearance, the tail is wagging the dog meaning ISIL is rattling the capitols and their leaders to the bone and we seem to be cowering and hoping they will not do their dastardly deeds again. Hey, it is not going away and it will escalate!  How do you handle a bully? By out bullying him.  He hits you, you hit him back with a 2X4. He his you with a 2X4, you stick him with a knife. Hit harder and more lethally until the message is clear. The message obvious is not clear and that is ridiculous to have the greatest war machine ever known to Man be jerked around like a school kid on a playground.  

I wan to see somebody in leadership get really angry. Wonder why Trump is popular? Trump shows that anger Americans are starving for from our government leadership but we are getting dosages of pablum, nice politically correct sound bites to the point it makes me sick.  So if you do what you have always done you will always get what you have always gotten as we are seeing over these last two agonizing POTUS terms.  I say again; the great blame of this global mess resides at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

So you can know, America and the civilized world, whatever that means anymore, is losing yet another war to a bunch of thugs!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Gettysburg Address 2016

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Gettysburg is a very sacred place for me for I have blood on that field of battle. Having walked the fields and read many books and the movie GETTYSBURG many times, my heart rate elevates each time I have the honor of the trek to the field. Walking its unique terrain, imagining moving hundreds of thousands of troops into Napoleonic formation assuring mass death and yet these men did as they were taught with great result.  

Each time I trod the fields, the elevations and my mind is a whirl to synthesizing what I had read to the actual locations on the ground, walking the paths of large troop movements on a hot July time in the heavy wool uniforms as massive road marches add color to my mental walking through the battlefield in hopes to grasp the reality my forefathers did for me. I always leave the lastest Gettysburg adventure feeling renewed, refreshed and more proud of my relatives that made that horrific journey into the cauldron of lead and hell for a cause and a purpose.

Today will likely decide the actual people that will vie for leading our nation.  As you read through the text of the infamous Lincoln speech that touched so many so deeply at its enduring application since the Autumn of 1983; in that brief 130 year span, I cannot escape the sense that our nation has transgressed to a nation much like the one that was unfolded in the lead up, during and after the Gettysburg Campaign.

Lack of trust in generals and political leadership was the norm and not the exception.  The balance of a nation's future hung in the balance of the outcome of the Union after the 1863 bloodbath Lincoln so aptly put to words.  There were widely divergent views of the President that swung from love and respect to date and disdain.  There were institutions that hung in the balance Lincoln knew had to be abolished from the face of the earth. Lincoln clearly saw the mandate for close international diplomatic relationships and for me most of all Lincoln knew the nation has to bee joined as never before the forces of our nation to be able to achieve its true greatness.

I believe it very ease to see that the world Lincoln faced with the agenda of hard work to get accomplished via his leadership and fortitude is as viable and distrait today on steroids. I believe our nation has chosen the path of all defeated empires by turning insides, erecting real or imagined walls to protect with the fence. In every case we as a nation have attempted this, we end up in a global war I see that as inevitable unless the walls are opened via trade, diplomacy and must pure leadership

Recently I watched the UN Ambassador from the US indicate that America does not need to lead everything global initiative but for every global initiative, the world want and needs America nearby for we have been the stabilizing forces since before WWII. We have elective via this current President to abandon that sacred high group. That, for me, is criminal and the great indictment of the Obama Doctrine whatever that turns out to be for I still certainly see nothing but more Keynesian economic and monetary policy, broader entitlement safety nets and every increasing Big Government that somebody must pay for which, of course, will be additional borrowing and increased taxes regardless of what they say in the campaign.

If the next generation of POTUS leadership is determined today by Ohio and Florida then so be it. The campaigning has turned mean, sour and unproductive and America is quite tire of the spectacle; this American is. One this for absolute sure shown vividly in this election is that Americans are fed up with the Obama tenure and the gridlock in our nation's Capitol thus the likes of Mr. Trump ride high in that saddle. He may be an irrelevant POTUS in office but he does offer a cool drink of water of chainsawing decades of dead wood embedded in Congress, the White House that has our nation stymied.  The rest of those still standing, for me, clearly represent continuation of the way it has been down this primrose path was have stumble down via the last eight years of ineffective leadership. 

Racism is worse than in the 1960s due in large part to the cadre media outlets such as CNN has collected of African Americans bent on creating negative rhetoric that is creating this atmosphere of race baiting and cop hating.  I must believe our nation is better than this but you know, perhaps we really are not better than this and that is very, very sad.

We need to very new beginning; not more of the same old same old!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bizarre Unparalleled

Have you noticed, I have, that regardless of where you go, what you watch, what you read that the bizarre nature of our political system someway finds its ugly way to the center of the conversation? Since I used the term "bizarre" I thought it would be good to get a credible definition so: 


  1. :  strikingly out of the ordinary: 
  2. a :  odd, extravagant, or eccentric in style or mode
  3. b.:  involving sensational contrasts or incongruities 
Strikingly out of the ordinary would certainly find place in the American electorate of late. Everyone has an opinion and almost everyone now has a means to reduce that opinion to words via social media what creates the means to launch tirades, disdain, threats, bullying, angst. Such an amazing medium Zuckerberg created and never forget that he was thinking of high schoolers and young with adolescent stuff but We the Baby Boomer pirated it so we could use it for Big Boy and Big Girl stuff.  What a story!

My wife reminds me often of the many years of our marriage when I was apolitical meaning I could care less about State of the Union address, though CSPAN a waste of time and money and she had to force me to even go vote. That, of course, has changed by roughly 180 degrees. Why? Not sure but I have a drive deep within me to understand the what and the why things happen especially when the future of my grandchildren are in the balance and the cross-hairs.

The sheer mention of Trump or Clinton raises hackles on people. Some of that is probably good and some probably really bad. But for me, I step outside the cocoon of life and look around and ahead of the groundswell to ascertain what and why. I am absolutely convinced that the turmoil that escalates daily it seems is the result of three major rivers driving to confluence around this POTUS election.

River 1:  the disastrous, failed presidency of one Barack Obama and all the racism, cop hating that has become part and parcel off this president in word and deed and action. I do not find warmth in summarizing that as I do but that is sincerely what I feel and believe. This river is gushing and people like Charles Blow, black writer for the NY Time is example of those that foment hate and distrust. I have stated this to him several times.

River 2:  the Media!  CNN, which has long been my channel of choice, has seemingly embraced the power of foment racism with it biased reporting, over abundance of African-American talking heads such as Don Lemons, Suny Hosten, etc, etc with an overabundance of contributors all seemingly bent on deepening and widening the racial divide.  I could not be more disappointed in what Ted Turner's vision how it has been subverted and robbed of objectivity.  The very reason I do not care for FOX is what I now see in CNN.

River 3:  a frustrated, scared, angry long silent electorate that has been unappreciated and unable to be heard.  What has Trump brought? Voice! Giving voice is a powerful force history records.  I must add that what I and the world witnessed two nights ago with Trump, Rubio, and Cruz was disappointing at best and downright sickening at the worst. That circus could well have sealed Clinton into the White House I fear. But what Romney did was beyond bizarre for it was tainted as sick, perverted, mean and distasteful.  I always had respect for Romney but that is now in the past tense but I think it a precursor for what lies ahead.

These three Rivers are meandering forcefully into the hearts and minds of the American electorate and those that would do harm to our nation such as Putin, ISIL, Persia, etc. etc.  I was always spellbound when studying the Civil War and the term "brothers against brothers" was so often used to describe.  Realizing that term is in reality what is happening today via this POTUS election is disappointing.

Never have I been more disgusted and exhausted by this circus.  At this moment I do not want either of these men or woman to lead MY country for they do not deserve the honor of that. Worse, ready for worse, the core issue is a failed Congress, the voice of We the People. What a joke Congress has been during the Obama presidency and yes, I use that intentionally for the Constitution commands cooperation between the three branches. Arrogance, disparate agendas and a strategy of socialization of our way of life are co-conspirators to this mess in which we find ourselves.  Frankly, I am ashamed and embarrassed with my nation and its leadership. 

The sad part is you find yourself wondering just how much worse can this get?  Just watch!  Here is what I and my wife believe!  We believe God has stepped back from a growingly godless nation, America, and allowing us to see what it really can look like. We have turned from Him and His principles on a grand scale. Murders, drugs, abortions, transgender, same sex, dysfunctional families, etc, etc. What else could you expect if you think about it!

Perhaps, bizarrely, something good may in fact result from this circus with far too many clowns in the ring.  I am watching far less news media, seeking to read more objective materials on our global reality. Did I mention North Korea, China and Russia? No, I do not think I did for each is another epistle in and of itself.

Obama's performance, for me, has result unsurprisingly is something much worse than I could have imagined and the legacy will be many years in evaporation. I fear for the world my Logan, Noah, Bella, Gracie and Hopie will find themselves because We the People, their Poppy, did not do all we could to ensure they had some of the success our fathers and grandfathers made for us.