Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Sunday, June 17, 2018

come as you are

 I'm leaving this morning for a trip to Florida. I'm not one to go on vacations and such very often, that isn't the way I was raised! Still, it is a blessing to be able to do so. I am going to visit with my sister. All the years that are behind us, all the memories created, are waiting to be shared. That is the currency of siblings, memories. As most of you know I was in the Navy for twenty years and traveled all around. My sister married an Air Force guy, I know, but it was her choice, and spent twenty years traveling the globe with him. All those years and the ones following our respective retirement we haven't gotten together very often. Living life, raising families and distance got in the way. And now, now we both realize we allowed that to happen figuring there is always a tomorrow. Well, yes there is, but it is today that needs to be lived! And today, I'm going to see my sister.
 No longer are we young and full of dreams, now we are filled with what was, and that isn't a bad thing. Being the youngest two in the family we were always called the " little " kids. Where are the little kids, call the little kids to dinner. The little kids are still here and getting together. We have both had some health issues, hers I'm afraid a lot more serious than my own. The nature and severity of her illness I'll leave to her to tell, should she wish to do that. Illness is something to be dealt with on a personal level, it doesn't get any more personal than that. I'll listen should she choose to speak, otherwise I'll sit in respectful silence on that subject. We have much to share with one another. In the end there isn't much one can do other than listen, and hold their hand. But this blog is taking a somber tone and I don't want that. I'm excited to be going to visit with my sister. We can share the old stories once again, and tell the new ones, reveling in the accomplishments of our children and grandchildren. Hard to believe when you think about it. The " little kids " are all grown up, well, almost.
 I don't think I'll be posting any blogs until I return home. Rarely do I miss a day, it will be different for me that much is certain. Perhaps I'll return refreshed or perhaps I'll discover I am done. You really can't know what tomorrow holds. But for today, I'm going to see my sister. It'll take a day or two to get there. The wife and I will meander down the coast stopping as the mood strikes us. There is no big hurry, no rush. Life goes by all too quickly, something you don't learn until later in life. You also learn to leave a lot of baggage behind discovering it isn't necessary at all. Life should be lived come as you are, we are all going home, to family. And there really is no hurry.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

look both ways

 When I was growing up there were three classes of people. There were the rich people, the poor people and there was us. That's the way I thought of it anyway. To be rich you only needed to have a bit more than me. I figured I had some friends that were rich, not super rich like millionaires, but rich enough. They were the ones that dressed in the latest fashions and fads. In the sixties they had long hair and bought music by the album, I only bought 45's being a bit poorer than them. Their parents gave them cars to drive and they went on the school trips. Yeah, the rich folks lived a bit differently than I did.
 Now I knew some poor folks too. They lived in houses that were covered with tar paper because they couldn't afford shingles. We called their little part of town, " tar paper city."  Really it was just a single road not far from my own. They were good people, just poor. I never questioned why they were poor just accepted the fact that they were. There was no feeling sorry for them or any great need to help them, I just knew they were poor. Nothing wrong with being poor, other than not having money. That was the attitude I grew up with. Surely that attitude came from my parents. I mean, I couldn't tell you how many times I heard them ask me, do you think money grows on trees? We're not rich you know? That was the usual response when asking for things you didn't really need or they viewed as frivolous, things like name brand sneakers when you could get perfectly fine ones at Brill's store for half the price. We didn't have anything like a Walmart, but we had stores for us that weren't rich.
 Of course there was us. We weren't rich or poor just somewhere in the middle. We slid back and forth on that ground depending upon fortune and misfortune. There were times when things were awful tight, when the fishing was bad or work became scarce. The weather, the economy, and the whims of the wealthy influenced all of that. There were times when we were poor! You could usually tell that by what was for supper. At other times we slid up the scale a bit and that's when we bought a pizza out, or got new clothes. Not being real poor folks we usually had whatever we really needed.  When we had a little extra we would extend some charity to those poor folks. No rich folks ever gave us a thing! Fact is we wouldn't have taken it anyway, it would have been an insult!
 I was thinking about this as I listened to these political candidates wanting to give everything to everybody. Yes, it is a good thing to be charitable. Everyone should have what they need. I don't think that means that they should be given everything though. As far as the poor people go I did ask why they didn't try harder to get money? I mean, from a kids view those folks just sat around, collecting welfare and doing whatever they wanted. I was told, maybe it's because they don't want anything more. At least, not if they have to work for it they don't. Maybe they are just as happy with what they have, as we are with what we have. Ever think of that? I admit I hadn't.
 Is it a lack of ambition or is it contentment? That's the real question here. Does anyone want to be poor? I doubt that, but could be they accept that condition. If no one ever told you different you wouldn't know any better either. Is it wrong to be poor? Apparently not, as we are told we should give the poor everything they need,  it's not their fault. They deserve our pity. All we need to do is give them stuff though, money or whatever, and our burden is lifted. How comfortable are you with charity? Does it bother you to accept that? How willing are you to extend charity? I was told it was shameful to accept charity. That isn't something you want to do. You should just go without. I was also told to extend charity whenever you could afford to do that, when you had a little extra. There are those willing to accept it. The thinking was you did that more to insure your own soul, than to help out your fellow man. Yeah, I know, it's selfish but that is the truth of the matter. It does make you feel better about yourself doesn't it. Does motive matter? Well there is the matter of your heart being in the right place. So, I'll leave that answer up to you. I've been fortunate to never have been poor and willing to accept charity from strangers. I think about being rich one day and able to give to charity in a big way. Would I? Can't say until I'm there, and that is the bottom line in all of this. I have to say not much has changed since I was a kid. There are still three classes of people. Poor people, rich people and me. How one relates to the other has undergone some changes though. The thinking is a bit different. Charity for all! If we are all to be equal that's the way it has to be. But that isn't how charity works. You have givers and receivers. The givers can't be the receivers! You really do have to accept your position. Not saying you have to be content with that, just that you need to accept that. I'm just standing here in the middle of the road looking both directions. I could go either way, at any time.          

Friday, June 15, 2018

planning ahead

 We are half way through the year 2018. Alright this is day 164 so technically not half,  but in my mind it is. June being the sixth month and we are halfway through June, sooo. The official start of summer is six days away. It really is true the older you get the faster times seems to pass by. I wonder if that means I'm slowing down? That does seem to be the more likely event. But why should that be? I've still got a lot going on, sorta. Is it that I am now in control of my time that causes this to happen? Nah, that can't be because if I were in control of time I'd be in reverse right now,  and I ain't getting any younger! I was talking about time just yesterday and pointed out that man just doesn't understand it at all. I'm even more convinced of that as I look at my calendar this morning. Yesterday my grandkids were a freshman and a junior, today they are a sophomore and a senior! How did that happen so quickly?
 I'm beginning to believe that time isn't a linear event. Didn't Einstein theorize that light was the only constant? I'm not much of a physicist or mathematician but that is my understanding. E=MC2. Energy is equal to mass times the speed of light, squared. Time isn't mentioned in that equation. Time is subject to change, not a constant. If time does accelerate and decelerate that would explain a great deal. We know from historical records that people just didn't live as long as we do today. At least that is the record as recorded by modern man. In Biblical times they lived a lot longer! Did time change or did people change? Maybe God made a slight adjustment to time after the flood or whenever. I'm not certain when the people in the Bible stopped living hundreds of years, it was always in the old testament I think. Yeah, so maybe there was an adjustment made. Maybe time isn't linear at all!
 Maybe our perceptions are the realities, and reality nothing more than perception. Now we are talking about philosophy. Anyone can be a philosopher. People do act more upon their perceptions than they do on reality. Lately this is being proven out with the liberals in our country. Not My President! Huh, yes he is, that's a reality not a perception. Whether or not he is doing a good job is a perception. We won't know about that until afterwards, that's another reality. See how that works? Trump has actually been the President for 153 days. Does that seem like a long time? Depends upon your perception doesn't it? Is that why time seems to speed up as we age? Is it because we perceive we have more time behind us than ahead? Time is running out. But it is only time as we perceive it to be. That's where eternal life enters the equation. Believe in that and time never ends. Or, at the very least it slows down a whole lot  and that's how we get to be 982 years old.
 I guess what I'm wondering about is am I over half way? I'll be 65 next month and judging by the data, I have to answer in the affirmative. And in answering with the affirmative I am forced to think of the firmament of heaven. Ever ask just what a firmament is? It's Latin for the sky or expanse. Especially when perceived as a tangible thing. Now do we go straight to the firmament like a bolt of light, all at once, or is it a slow ascension? That is where time enters that equation. As we age are we just picking up speed, preparing for the launch? Is that what we are perceiving with this increase in time? Well, I'm not going to think about that anymore, let's just slow the roll, as the kids say. I will enjoy today for the day. Think I will try to do that every day from now on. Sounds like a plan.      
  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

over time

 Thinking about time. I heard on the news this morning the alarmists worrying about Antarctic ice melting. I don't remember the exact figures they were talking about just that they claim the worlds oceans have risen by 3/10 of an inch over the last twenty five years. Just how you would go about measuring that they didn't say. But, the oceans are rising because the ice is melting! Yeah, I expect they would if the ice melts, I'm no scientists but water tends to run downhill and into the oceans. Call it a life observation but that's how it works. This bunch of scientists aren't blaming global warming though, they didn't give a reason it was happening, just that it is happening. Could be global warming though, that sounds reasonable. If the ice caps grow too large wouldn't they then start to get into warmer climates? If that happens they would melt a little bit but like I said I'm no scientist. Anyway, they were predicting the sea level would rise and cover the earth. That made me think of the flood! Yeah, that flood. I'm thinking when that happened the water had to come from somewhere. The Bible says it came from subterranean fountains and of course, the rain. It took forty days. But that is where I began thinking about time. The Bible says Noah was 600 years old when it happened. Are we talking about the same measure of time as we use today? If so, forty days is quite a long time. If we say Noah was sixty, in todays counting and we just assumed a factor of ten making him 600, that would be 400 days of rain and fountains erupting. Yeah, things are gonna be wet. The Bible doesn't really say where all that water went when it receded. There are passages indicating that the topography of the earth was changed either during or after the flood. That seems reasonable enough to me. All that water being blown around, and the Bible says there was a wind, would erode the landscape and create deeper pockets, think of them as large mud puddles, and allow the water to settle down and expose the earth once again. Same amount of Earth, just rearranged a bit. Yeah, that took some time.  And it is time that I am thinking about more than actual events. Time is something that man doesn't understand at all. Time is like space, infinite. Can we understand infinite? I don't think so because we are limited.
  It's really quite simple. Man can only measure what he understands, what we can put inside a box. Man has yet to successfully develop a method to determine what will happen two minutes from now, let alone years. That's why we have fortune tellers and such. It is interesting to measure and speculate, we all do that as children don't we, how tall will I be? Scientists couldn't predict when that volcano in Hawaii would erupt either. If they could it wouldn't have been such a disaster. Surely we have been prepared, we weren't. As far as sea levels rising I don't doubt they are. Is it because the ice is melting? I think that is a factor, certainly. I was in the Navy for twenty years and did learn about ships and a thing called displacement. To put it simply the weight of whatever you put in the water will displace the same amount of weight in water! Yes, the water level rises. Archimedes is credited with figuring that out, I suspect it was known well before his time. Perhaps there wasn't a way to express that principle in writing or figures but that doesn't mean it wasn't known. Man is still trying to explain a whole lot of stuff today that we know about, just can't explain it, like global warming and climate change. Yes, we feel the globe is warming up, yes we know climate change is real, what we don't know is what causes that change! Hey, we really don't know how the whole deal was created in the first place! That, for now, is a matter of faith. Was the earth just a round smooth globe in the beginning? Or was the earth all spiky with water in the low spots. Did the great flood smooth things out some? Is that how the land appeared? We don't know. The Bible tells us God created the Earth. I'll go with that and credit God with the climate changes and rising and falling waters. I figure God can control all of that regardless of what man does. Of course I did learn from reading the Bible it is best to please that God. There was a time when we didn't and guess what happened? The water is rising, we better think about that! Time waits for no man. Was time faster back then or are we just impatient? It does seem like man is more demanding these days. We want it now! I say we better be careful, we are libel to get it. What's that saying? Be careful what you ask for.
 Now if the ice caps melt because of global warming the sea level rises. Eventually all the land is covered, flooded out. All that water will certainly cool things down. I mean, even if it is hot enough to cause evaporation, condensation will result, what we call rain. Then the rain creates storms the wind starts blowing and all that water starts reshaping the surface of the earth. Over time, land appears. Hey, that sounds familiar. Well, I'll leave it to all those scientists to measure time and solve the mysteries of the universe. One thing I believe is, I've got time, I don't know it all right now, but I'm learning. I'll learn, over time. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

buying an education?

 I tend to believe you really do get what you pay for. At least that is the best case scenario, sometimes you do get disappointed, Caveat Emptor being the guide. There is a candidate running for governor here in Maryland promising free community college for everyone. Sounds good doesn't it? But it leaves me with a lot of questions? The biggest being, who exactly is going to pay for this, already know that answer really but trying not to think about that. Beyond that however I wonder about the requirements for entry. Now I haven't attended college myself and don't know much about the admission process. I was always under the impression you had to qualify for admittance, not just pay for it. Isn't that why I was told to take the harder courses in high school, to prepare yourself for the academic challenges of college? Didn't you have to have minimum scores on standardized tests? I really don't know how that works, but maybe that only applies to the best schools. This candidate is only talking about community college where I know you can just pay the price of admission and take whatever course you like. As I understand it community college can be a pathway to a four year degree saving you lots of money. On the other hand I also hear that those community college degrees aren't held in very high esteem by some folks. Is that a case of you get what you pay for? If so, what if it is free?
 Something else I believe is you don't have to go to college to be brilliant. In this modern world full of information readily available to anyone, that is doubly true. I can study any subject I choose from the comfort of home. Other than paying for internet access the cost would be very low or non existent. Still society requires that piece of paper as proof. In the old days we used to call it the old sheepskin. I do believe it was far more difficult to obtain. The question is, was that difficulty linked to academic achievement or the ability to pay? The current belief surely has to be the ability to pay. Apparently there were a lot of brilliant poor people in the past yearning for an education. If that education were free, everyone could go, everyone gets the degree and everyone makes the big bucks! Isn't that the driving force behind obtaining that degree in the first place? Or is it the thirst for knowledge? I was always given the impression it was " to make a better living for yourself and your family. " I was never told it was for personal enlightenment. Ask a guidance counselor, if that is what they call them these days. I do hear an awful lot about a career path. Seems I was told to just hit the bricks!
 Whatever, I'm just wondering about the value of something you get for free. Are you going to get your moneys' worth? That begs the question, as far as these community colleges go what are they selling? Is it an entrance to a " better " degree? Are they really degrees for the " poor " folk, kinda like having a Chevy instead of a Rolls Royce? You have to go to an Ivy league school to get the Rolls. Isn't that the perception. Are those degrees being issued by community colleges just a cheap knock off? If you start giving them away for free that is certainly promoting that perception.
 Well I just don't know. None of this is meant to disparage anyone that goes to community college or obtained a degree in that fashion. In fact I congratulate them for having achieved that. It was an expenditure on their part. They did have to work for it. I'm not insinuating in any way that their academic achievement is any less than any other one achieved in the same field of study. I do have issue with some of the " fields of study " that are being awarded degrees these days. Those degrees  being issued by two year programs that basically have no real value in the market. A degree in Philosophy or Communication Arts won't land you a high paying job, you can work at McDonalds, think about life and talk to the customers.
 It is those degree programs I balk about funding. If you are going to take my money,  buy stuff for others with that money, I only want you to buy useful stuff. Just like I don't want you talking my money, giving to others to go grocery shopping and allowing them to buy lobster! As I said I haven't been to any college but I know about fiscal responsibilty! If everyone gets to go to college for free, for at least the first two years, how many will be signing up? How long before the schools are full and the complaining begins about over crowding? How long before someone is suing the state because they are being denied their " free " stuff? How long before I will be required to provide those " students " with free breakfast and lunch? What about laptops and I-pads. Then after having completed their degree program, how long before they sue because they should be making a lot more money, after all they have a degree! Where does that end? Can you restrict the " free " college to only those programs that are approved by the state? Yeah, good luck with that.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

all he's got

 I woke to see Trump at his press conference. I admit it is a bit early to listen and comprehend what he was saying. The reporters seemed to be a bit more respectful this time, maybe because it was an international delegation. As usual Trump extoled his accomplishment with meeting Chairman Kim and signing an agreement. Only time will tell if this agreement is truly historic or another worthless pile of paper. I certainly hope it proves historic for the sake of everyone. Regardless of how you feel about Trump anything that can be done to get rid of more nuclear weapons has got to be a good thing. I do wonder why quite a number of those reporters asked the same question? Do they expect a different answer? Seems to me they should have prepared a number of questions and went down their list.
 I am annoyed by the reporters who, after the conference, said Trump gave Chairman Kim legitimacy. Well, the thing is he does control a country with nuclear capabilities. Regardless if you believe his country is just poor and not an international power they can still do a great deal of damage. For me, and I'm no diplomat, I do understand one thing. If you want to negotiate with someone you do have to treat them as an equal. I believe Kim knows that as well and despite all the name calling and other stuff that preceded this meeting understands his position in the world. Yes, I believe the bottom line for that guy is to stay in power. That is really what he wants. He will do whatever it takes to remain in power, even if he does have to make concessions. If he can manage to look powerful in front of his people as well as looking reasonable and rational, so much the better. I heard he offered some crumbs in that regard concerning civil rights. He has agreed to return some dead bodies! Does that really have an impact of his power? No, I think he can do that, as a sign of good will, and it doesn't harm his position. He still has thousands of political prisoners that were mentioned, but not discussed in detail. It is those that he feels can do the harm, not bodies.
 His big impediment is money. He needs more money to satisfy his subjects. It is my thinking that is what is behind all of this in the first place. He had hoped for more financial support from his friends and allies but that wasn't forthcoming. Then the international community began to sanction him. As usual the United States had the most money to offer and the most to withhold. He tried to bully Trump and the rest of the world by launching rockets. He threatened and acted like a deranged fool. It was all part of the show and the show failed! Now his country is in serious straights and his regime is in serious danger as well. He spent all the money. Time to try a new tactic to stay in power. As far as I'm concerned I don't care what his motives are as long as the nukes are reduced or eliminated. Look the bottom line is this, Kim wants to stay in power and needs money to do that. Satisfy that need and he will chill! No one wants to derail the gravy train, including Kim Jun Un. Yes, he bears watching, closely. Will he surrender his nuclear capabilities? I think he will if he is certain that he will remain in power. He knows he couldn't win a nuclear exchange. Yeah, he will threaten but he's learning he can't afford to keep doing that, and I mean afford in a monetary sense. His people aren't going to stand for it forever. Money will win out in the end, it always does. What started the American revolution? Money plain and simple. Taxation without representation is tyranny! Kim Jun Un knows all about that I'm certain. When the people are hungry and broke they tend to get mad. They start beating those plowshares into swords and the end result ain't good! Takes money to stay in power, a lot of money. He can't take it by force and knows it, time to sell something, anything you have. What's he got? Nuclear weapons? That's about it.  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bona Fide

 I was watching the price is right the other day and they got to the part where they ask an audience member for an item. On this day they said I'll give you a hundred dollars if you have a checkbook. The lady didn't have one. That got me to thinking, how many people carry a checkbook anymore? I mean, you are going to a game show, out and about the town and all, surely that is a big deal. But, you don't need a checkbook, you have your debit card. I wonder if anyone had a pen and a piece of paper, you know, in case you needed to leave someone a note. My guess is that few would be prepared for that. I'm also thinking that everyone had a phone with them! Now that is something they could have asked for not that many years ago that few would have had. Times sure have changed. The show hasn't changed all that much though. My wife's Uncle George was on that show when Bill Cullen was the host. That was a while back but he won a car, a mink coat, patio furniture and some other stuff. Pretty much the stuff they are giving away now except for the animal skins, wouldn't want to offend anyone. Well, when Uncle George was on the show when they had cigarette advertising too.
 Yes I have a checking account and I have checks. I rarely, if ever, write a check. My wife doesn't carry a checkbook in her purse either. To be honest I can't remember the last time I needed to write a check. I was always told your signature was on file at the bank where you opened your account. Sign your check carefully, the way you did initially. In that way a forgery could be detected. Now we sign those little screens and you couldn't tell what it says! The reality is that is just a formality as you can scribble anything on there and it will accept your " signature. " Honestly I don't understand why we even bother at all. There is talk of retina verification or maybe fingerprint confirmation that it is you, the cardholder, and that sounds like a good idea. We just need the cost to align with the technology. There is even talk of implanting a device in your finger that would serve that purpose. I shudder at the thought! Way too sci-fi for me. I will never be chipped! There aren't many times I would make so bold a statement. But when it comes to that, I refuse. No! Just no. Will the government make such a requirement for all new born children? They suggest you get a social security number for your child at birth  but it is not a requirement. I'm thinking the politicians are too wise to propose such a thing, I don't believe it would be met with favor, although from what I read more choose to get the number than refuse. The primary reason being a financial one. There are tax considerations and such.
 Yes as time goes on we do become more and more concerned with identifying just who we are. In the old days they would just ask for your " bona fides. " Bona Fides is a Latin term for honesty and sincerity of your intentions. Was a day when they took your word for that. Then the time came when we needed to have some sort of physical proof, documents signed and verified by someone most people would accept as genuine. Today, in a lot of cases it is only our PIN number that is our Bona Fides. Well, either that or some national data bases like the credit bureaus. There are three major ones that everyone accepts. Failing that, you can go to the " dark web " and acquire an acceptable identity. I hear you can purchase a PIN there as well. That Personal Identity Number can be changed frequently and it is recommended that you do so. Hmm, you can't change your social security number. That number is your Bona Fide. When asked to provide it what method is used to verify that number is assigned to you? It isn't, that number is your Bona Fide, meaning it is your Honesty and Sincerity. In short, the other person has to take your word for it! Sure it is subject to verification later on but that verification itself could prove false. That happens more often than any of us like to think.
 Thousands of years of progress. We are still trying to legislate, or at the very least, regulate basic human actions. The most important one of all, honesty, being on the top of the list. You could call it trust. Can I trust you? Trust is involved whenever their is risk involved, namely personal risk. I don't want to be injured. Just how are we going to keep folks honest? On the price is right you are asked to produce a specific item, that is the proof. In life you are asked to do what? Self regulate, impose that restriction on yourself, maintain integrity, honesty and sincerity in your intentions. A mans' word is his bond. The sad part is, it isn't enough! You have to have documentation. Strangely there is a big push today that says lack of documentation is reason for charity and compassion. We are supposed to just " take their word for it. "  History does repeat itself, even after thousands of years.    

Sunday, June 10, 2018

discerning

 Few of us walk alone. For the faithful they never really walk alone, we hear that all the time, but that isn't what I have in mind this morning. I'm thinking about the choices we make every day. Those choices are influenced to varying degrees by those around us. From our closest confidants to mere acquaintances they do exert a force in our lives. That is what I have in mind when I say few of us walk alone. How many can claim total independence? Would that even be a good thing? I have serious questions about that. We all need guidance, advice and something to temper our actions by. Remember when you were a child and Mom told you about hanging out with the bad kids? She was right about that, others can lead you into trouble. Discerning the good from the bad is a measure of maturity. Some will tell you that is judging others and say that is a bad thing. Every judgement isn't a condemnation! Many people are getting confused about that.
 The practice of discernment may begin with hunches and plain observation. Over time that sense will develop like all others. The things that get in our way are ego and prejudice. When we learn to set those aside we develop discernment. It requires honesty and the acceptance of truth. Honesty with yourself and accepting the truth even when it isn't what we want to hear. Discernment is a personal action. It is the determination of what is right and wrong as measured against your moral sensibilities. That is the judgement that takes place. If you expect everyone else to have the same moral code as yourself, everyone will fall short! You will fall short as well! It is a reciprocity. Even among those that claim a common morality, take Christians as an example, that code is subject to revision based on any number of things. Which is right, which is wrong? Discerning the truth is a personal thing. When I share that discernment with you I am not judging you, I am judging the truth against my own value system. The judgement is not against you! Still, most people receive it in that fashion. Why? The short answer is because of ego. No one wants to be told they are wrong. I understand that.
  There are times when I feel like I'm walking alone. I think we all have that feeling occasionally. When I'm walking alone I am questioning. I'm attempting to read the " signs." What is it that troubles me? Truth is it isn't always because I am troubled, sometimes I'm just enjoying my own company. No one understands me like me. That's my ego talking and sometimes I listen. Nothing wrong with that. I do have to guard against believing everything he says though. You see, I told you few of us walk alone. I have to remind myself of that or I could get lost. Maybe that is what happens to those that commit suicide? That has been in the news lately and a subject I don't understand at all. Hmm, a random thought that made its' way into this conversation. Is that what the signs are telling me? Is the message that I am never really alone? Yes I think that may be it. Of course the question is, just who am I walking with today? I should consider my choice wisely, exercising discernment in that decision. Am I walking in the company of Angels or something else? Do I get to decide? I do, by exercising discernment! 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

accepting expectations

 " All religions must be tolerated for every man must get to heaven in his own way. " That statement is attributed to Epictetus a Greek Stoic philosopher. I would say to him, all religions must be tolerated, but not all behaviors. If your religious behavior causes harm to others that shouldn't be tolerated. Religion concerns the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. A supreme being may or may not be involved in all of that. So yes Epictetus, all religions must be tolerated, even when you don't agree with the premise of that religion. But man, man is generally concerned with the actions of their fellow man, philosophy is left for the fireside and a sip of wine. Our actions are often not directed on getting into heaven, but religion is used as the excuse for those actions. It is true the path to heaven, whatever you conceive that to be, is different for every one of us.
 I think of that path as walking through the city. Everything you could want or need can be found in the city. The city is also associated with sin and temptation. Cities are full of distractions. As you walk along you can decide to window shop, go inside and buy, or even set up shop for yourself. It is those choices that lie between us and heaven. It is dangerous to walk alone, but following the crowd can be equally as damming. We must choose our path carefully. As for me I'm still on that journey, not having set up shop, selling any particular product. I have been window shopping for years now,  occasionally making a purchase. I've done this for so long I'm feeling qualified to be a tour guide! Yes, I know the city all too well, with it's dark alleys and misdirection. Maybe that stems from my youth when I grew up in the country. When going to the city I was keenly aware of my surroundings as I expect a city person would be in the forest. Is it fear or reasonable caution? I prefer to think of it as prudence.
 What has this to do with the path the heaven? Epictetus said every man must get to heaven in his own way. That means each of us are individuals and have different requirements. You can't walk the same path as I, or I yours. We have to decide what is more important, the journey or the destination? The journey concerns the immediate, the destination with the result. Choice and consequence. My advice is try not to get distracted by the journey. Remember the destination. We are only here for a short time, but we think of the next stop as forever. Can we really know that? Death certainly appears permanent. No one has ever returned from that state to inform us otherwise. So, that leaves us with the journey, how we get there. Each of us have to get there in our own way. We do have to be concerned with our actions as that is what others will judge us by. Philosophy is all well and good but it doesn't get anything accomplished. Talking about it ain't doing it. All faith must be recognized, all religions tolerated, but not all behaviors!
 The purpose of religion is to temper our behavior. It is intended to create harmony among men. If we all believed the same thing there would be no argument. Problem is, we don't. Yes there are three major religions in the world today. At their essence they all teach the same lessons. The basic belief is the same. It is only in the actions taken that we disagree. Those actions are decided by man, not by God or some other force. That is the free will given to man or inherit in human nature if you prefer that line of thinking. So remember when on this journey to shop wisely. Do not be distracted by the journey, remember the destination. Help your fellow travelers to the best of your abilities. Yes you should point out the bad " places " and the " bad " choices. " You should be a guide. What point is there in traveling if you don't share the journey? Behaviors are learned, teach them. Remember when we all got along? We all believed just about the same thing. Behaviors were taught and lessons learned. We accepted what was expected. Get back to that and we will find peace once more.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

That's the truth

 You know what I'm getting tired of hearing? I'm getting tired of hearing that I should allow, condone and in fact endorse unchristian acts and deeds because I'm a Christian! I shouldn't speak out against these acts or even say that I believe they are wrong because well, that's unchristian! Using that logic a Christian should do absolutely nothing! Well, forgiving isn't condoning, tolerance isn't acceptance and I wasn't instructed by my God to shut up, no, I was instructed to spread the word. That is what I was told! I was talking about that the other day and the example I used was the woman accused of adultery. You remember that Bible story don't you? She was brought before Jesus and the Pharisees asked Jesus to judge her. He said let he who is without sin cast the first stone. The bottom line to me was when he said to her, " go and sin no more! " He didn't tell her it's alright, he told her, don't do it again! She was forgiven but not encouraged to keep on doing it. Tolerance was practiced but Jesus certainly didn't think that behavior was acceptable! That's my point.
 It's the same logic I hear from those that say I fought for my country so you can disrespect it! Some seem to think that is what I fought for! I didn't! It is true that I, and many others defended the Constitution of the United States and all that it represents. No where in my constitution does it give you a right to disrespect that! Yes, you are free to speak, free to assemble, and free to pursue your dreams but all that comes at a cost. If you don't want to fight, or are unwilling to fight, or are just plain afraid to fight, you are still entitled to those rights. You are not entitled to disrespect those same rights or the ones that fought for them! No, your payment for that is in respecting the rights of others. Seems little enough to ask. A few moments of your time to stand respectfully in silence. Even in time of war, on the battlefield, we respect the dead. We don't defile the bodies of our enemies! We respect them. We don't protest the war by disrespecting the warriors!
 Well that's my little rant for this morning. I'm not sure what prompted that exactly, it wasn't a single incident. I'm thinking it is a cumulative effect from all this liberal logic nonsense I read on Facebook. What those liberal folks need to listen to and understand is an Aaron Tippin song, you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything. The logic there can't be denied. The proof is obvious because those liberals sure do fall for anything! Then they believe they are standing for something! They are standing for change! Christianity hasn't been around for over two thousand years because it was changed! The Constitution hasn't remained in effect for 229 years because we changed it! Those are the things we have to stand for!
 So, let the excuse making begin. Write or say all you want about the constitutional amendments. Tell me how the Pope has changed the churches' position on a number of things over the centuries. I am well aware of history. Man has changed, revised, rewritten, reinvented and reinterpreted everything depending upon the culture in which you were raised. Thing is every society forms a culture. If you change the culture, you change the society. I was born and raised in the American culture! I will stand for that! I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free, are the words in a Lee Greenwood song. With those words he is acknowledging an obligation. At least I know I'm free does imply that obligation. That obligation to defend the nation. Freedom isn't defined by the ability to disrespect others in that society, in that nation. Freedom is defined by the obligation to defend that nation, that ideal. If I don't have anything else, I have freedom! I am obligated to pay for that freedom in some fashion by personal sacrifice. If it isn't anything more than standing in silence that is what I will do! And yes, for me, I will tell you what I believe to be right and wrong. I won't hurt you in a physical sense, I won't deprive you of your freedom but I'll tell you that you are wrong! I won't associate with you, promote or condone your actions either! To those that say it is unchristian to not allow, endorse, or otherwise speak against sinful actions I can only say you are like Peter, he denied Christ three times. Every time you profess that you are denying God! I'm not saying you should harm others in any way, I'm saying you should speak the truth! If your truth isn't universal, it isn't the truth! Far too many don't understand that simple statement either.  

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Promises offered

 I have heard from the experts that you must grant yourself permission if you want to be happy in life. That is the phycological interpretation of human behaviors. These experts that attended years of schooling, writing a dissertation to obtain that PhD and that is what they say. Well all I know is if you do what you want you will get immediate satisfaction but the long term results may not be all that great. I'd add to those experts advice by saying, before you grant yourself permission, consider those around you. It does seem like simple logic to me. Personal happiness isn't a personal thing! Some folks seemed to be confused by that. This is becoming especially true in todays world. The greatest joy really does come from the happiness of others. At least I would say, lasting happiness is that way. Talk to a Grandparent if you don't understand that.
 Our time here is limited, a simple fact. I don't believe we are here just to entertain ourselves but to make a contribution. It's true that not all of us will make a positive contribution. Why some folks make positive contributions and others negative I'll leave to another philosopher. My thinking is it is based on the choices you make. Make good choices and you get good results. There are times when that choice may deprive you of something you want, it's still a good choice. Don't go granting yourself permission to make mistakes. Isn't that what religious instruction is all about. Living a moral and ethical life does require some sacrifice on your part. In the Christian tradition Jesus died for our sins ( shortcomings ) as a means of atonement. Deprived of life, the ultimate sacrifice. The reward is eternal life, really eternal happiness right? That is what is promised in heaven. No more sacrifice, no more pain, no more sorrow. How does that happen? By choice, your choice.
 Lasting happiness is the belief in what will be. I'm happy with the knowledge that tomorrow will be a better day. My children will prosper and in turn their children. The world will go on, generation following generation. Lasting happiness does not come from what I have today, lasting happiness is a promise. It makes little difference where the promise comes from, religious belief or something else, only that the promise is offered. Happiness arrives when we accept that promise not for ourselves, but for others. Personal happiness is subject to change. A promise made is not! Believing that the promise will be fulfilled is, happiness.        

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

second hand history

 Seventy four years ago today the Normandy invasion took place. Nine years, one month and 15 days later I was born. I grew up hearing about that fateful day and the lives lost on that beach. I can't say with certainty I ever met anyone that had participated in that invasion but certainly knew a lot of WW2 veterans, my father among them. You could say the memory was fresh because of that. Today the youngest of those men would be 91, assuming they were 17 at the time. There is no accurate figure of how many still live today. It won't be much longer and the entire generation will pass into history. It will be up to us to remember them and the sacrifices they made. The history has been well documented and analyzed. The conclusion is, they are the greatest generation! I would have to concur with that.
 I would say that today, Normandy is remembered as history. Yes, I know that yesterday is history but I'm thinking about real history, history as we perceive it to be. History is something that happened a long time ago, to other people. Isn't that the way we think of it? The things we did in high school or grade school are not historic. History is something that was important or noteworthy to the general public, or the world. The battles of WW2 are all history now. We have read the stories, seen the movies, and even film clips of the actual battles. The greatest atrocity of that war, the Holocaust, faces doubters now! There are those that wish to deny that it ever took place. There are those that wish history lost! We can't allow that to happen. 
 That has been the case throughout history however. Battles are fought, victories won and the world rejoices. There are winners and losers, the future is formed. The survivors tell the stories of valor and heroism. The next generation follows and the pattern is repeated. Past heroes fade in our memories, replaced by the new. I can name many heroes of WW2. The names of the generals are familiar, both good and bad. But those of WW1, not so much. In February of 2011 the last American survivor of that war passed away at the age of 110. With him, WW1 passed into the realm of history as I see it, no one left alive having witnessed that war firsthand. From that day forward the history of that conflict was secondhand. True, it was only a very small part of that war, as Corporeal Buckles was an ambulance driver during the great war, the war to end all wars , as it was known. Memories are always in the first person, everything else are stories. And stories, stories are subject to revision. 
 Seventy four years ago thousands of men stormed the beaches at Normandy, following the orders of their superiors. They went ashore, fighting for their lives. Where their heads filled with thoughts of valor? Did they storm that beach in the quest to free Europe from the grips of the Nazi's? No, from the first hand accounts I heard of those entering the fray, they were just doing their duty. Some joined up and others answered the call. As I said, I can't say I ever spoke with a veteran of the Normandy invasion but when fighting for your life does the battle location matter? 
 My generation carries the accounts of Vietnam. I would say that is the major portion of history we are accountable for. There were other conflicts and events certainly worth remembering, think 9/11, but I'm speaking of war. The first hand history we tell of Vietnam is not glorious or inspiring in any way. That isn't the memory of that war. The reason for that was there was no victory, no triumphant homecoming. I would say the first taste of defeat Americans have known, as a whole. To those that fought the battles, that taste is bitter indeed. Will that change with the telling of the stories as secondhand history? I do believe it will become tempered over time. The bitterness, no matter how well earned, will mellow with age. When our children and children's children tell our story it will be with pride. History told in stories is often different than history as it took place. 
 Normandy, a name that lives in history for one event. It resides alongside others, Bunker Hill, Pearl Harbor and Midway. The name was etched in history for the loss of life. Sadly it is a name that is fading in the collective memory of man. Only those with an interest in history and those tales of yore, remember. That day is getting closer. And I would lament like some many before me, never forget. The promise is made, we will never forget! I'll do what I can to keep that memory alive even though it is certainly second hand history to me. History is created every second, it is only when it becomes second hand that the value is realized. Such is the nature of man.   

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

the grass is growing

 Six in the morning and I feel like I'm running late. Is this what getting old is supposed to feel like? Being retired I thought you got to take your time, slow down, enjoy life, that whole scenario. Not me though, I feel like I have to get going. Funny thing is, I'm not even certain why the hurry. Cutting the grass is on today's to do list, a chore I'm not in a hurry to do. Still I am aware that the grass isn't waiting on me, it keeps on growin'. Time and grass wait for no man! Well, I'll get to it today for sure along with setting out the trash for tomorrow morning. The issues of the elderly. Worry about Drs. appts, having enough toilet paper in the house and remembering to take your medications. And now, the whole time I'm attempting to compose this blog I feel pressured for time. Not sure why that is, I don't have a deadline for publication. This is causing stress! LOL,  isn't that silly. 
 I don't have much in the way of pressing issues on my mind. Jack the baker won his case in the supreme court. Good for him and a step in the direction of normalcy as far as I'm concerned. That it needed to go to the supreme court at all says a lot about the state of America. Do we really require legislation to say an artist can't be forced to create art? That is the heart of the matter and what was litigated. All the rest of it was just fluff and stuff! How can anyone else know the beliefs of another? I really can't judge your sincerity, can I? When you do something to expose your hypocrisy I may be justified in pointing that out. Jack hasn't baked any cakes for any Gay marriages so you have to believe him. Enough of that, case closed as far as I'm concerned. 
 I have heard that some NFL players are saying they won't play if they can't kneel. Well that's their choice I suppose. I really couldn't care less. They are athletes paid to entertain me and make money for the team owners. I can survive without their entertainment. I can be just as amused by a video, movie, or reading a good book. There are many options for entertainment other than those guys. Hey, NFL guys, you aren't that darn important, get over yourself. Play by the rules or don't play at all! That is the logo I would post in the locker room! I chuckle because I remember when those actors said they were going to boycott, they would leave the country. Ha, haven't seen anyone even pack a bag! The reason is the same, they are just a source of entertainment. 
 I feel more relaxed now having written something. Somehow I feel like an obligation has been fulfilled. I hope I have entertained someone. Thing is, I'll keep writing because I'm entertaining myself. I think if I threatened to boycott it would mean as much to others as those football players means to me. I do think you need to feel an obligation to yourself before you can feel an obligation to others. As Grandma would say to me," God helps those who help themselves." It means to have self-initiative. Get'er done is another way of saying that. Neither of those phrases are in the Bible. I feel like I have caught up just a bit now and so it's time to move on to the next thing. That grass is growing!     
  

Monday, June 4, 2018

Fortitude

 As I often say, there is little you can say that hasn't been said before. I believe that is absolutely true. The trick is to say something in a way others haven't heard it before. That, I think, is the function of a writer. When you can present an idea in that manner it does awaken others. I don't believe you have taught them anything new, just validated their own thoughts. I know that happens to me. It makes no difference if it is a famous quote, or something muttered by a fool. That's because I too have good thoughts and foolish thoughts. Just because I wrote it down that doesn't mean it can't be changed. It is something I am aware of however. Strange how it seems alright to change your mind,  but not to change what was written. I think that may be because others have proof positive, see that's what you wrote, right here! When you just change your mind, not necessarily denying that you said something different at an earlier time, that seems acceptable, virtuous even. Change the written statement and that is somehow a more severe thing. Maybe that is why all these " tweets " get so many people in trouble these days. Also the reason for the demand, put that in writing!
 Yesterday I posted this phrase, " Words are only as powerful as we allow them to be. " I wrote that in response to the latest spate of name calling and derogatory language being spewed forth by celebrities and others. The whole concept of " racial slurs " and " hate " speech being so injurious to others. Whereas I understand the intent is to provide some means of redress for the injured party by acknowledging that injury I can't help but be reminded. When I was young the old adage was, " sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. " What is that saying? Words are only as powerful as you allow them to be " is my interpretation. Something that has been said before said it in a different way. As to whether you hear it differently I can't say. The action I am advising you to take concerns personal fortitude. I shouldn't allow your words to be injurious to me, I should steal myself against that, taking refuge in my own thoughts and beliefs. That isn't to say I shouldn't seek legal redress if others believe your words and that in turn causes some injury to me in a financial way. There are provisions in the law for that. There are also means for damages to my your reputation. My statement is not concerned with either of those however. I am saying that words are only as powerful as you allow them to be when it comes to hurting you in a personal way. Should I be called a white boy, I'm not offended by that, I am a white boy. Yes, depending upon who is saying that,  the implication can be vastly different. I understand that completely but I have to allow that implication to effect me! Name calling! A tactic as old as mans' ability to speak. I can make you mad, upset you in some fashion. I can manipulate your emotions and alter your actions! I can control you if you allow that to happen. That is what I am talking about. When it hurts our feelings we seek justice! If that same person gives you praise you accept that praise as the gospel truth! Done subtly enough I can manipulate your feelings and actions! Again those words are as powerful as you allow them to be. That's human nature. Most of us don't think about it that way though. There is no penalty for excessive praise. We all say how transparent that may be, and how fake it is, but we all still like it! That too is human nature. How powerful you allow those words to be will determine all of that. For some those words can certainly pump them up, get a swelled head as we say.
 Well anyway, that was my thought about all of that. I don't know what more to say about it. I was taught to not call people names and expected consequences from that if I did. It wasn't legal challenges that caused my concern, if you catch my drift. But today we are trying to be more civilized, isn't that the goal? Like I wrote yesterday I was told to keep a civil tongue in my head as well! Now we have removed the filter of civility and demand people speak in a civil fashion. We impose civil penalties if they don't! Seems to me the old way worked better, at least it was more effective at limiting that form of speech. You had best be prepared to defend those words! True, it wasn't very civilized, but more people acted like they were. Do the ends justify the means? One did have to develop their inner fortitude. It is independence, not dependence.   

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Civilized

 We are striving to become a civilized society, we even make claim to being such, but the struggle continues. In years past, throughout history, physical confrontation has always been the final consequence. The reality is, it still is. Evidence to support that is everywhere. Man has always fought wars to end wars! Then we fight another. But suppose we did manage to end physical aggression, what would replace that as the ultimate consequence? Would it be the legislation of man? Whatever " laws " mankind as a whole adopts? A wonderful thought but one that will never be achieved. The reason for that is a simple one. Provide a legal definition for a single word that is universally accepted and understood. Right now in America there is a debate over the legal meaning of " man " in the law. It's true, their is a proposed change to the Constitution stating that all men ( and women ) are created equal. We need to include the word woman to be clear that is what we are talking about. But even before we can agree on that their is debate about other " choices. " What if I don't want to identify as either one of those? Will I still receive equal protection, am I not still created equal? You see the problem there don't you? How to legally define a single word! Is mankind a man, a woman, or some combination of both? And it is for that reason I say we will never reach a consensus as to the legal meaning of words. So, that just will not work as the final consequence. The law is subject to change. Indeed, do we not all agree that the law should be changed according to current thinking and sensibilities? Isn't that the argument that is always used? The law is outdated! We need to make progress, to be progressive! That always involves redefining things, mostly what we consider morally and ethically to be acceptable to the society.
 All of that is in regard to civil matters. That is the consequence the law is concerned with. To avoid physical confrontation is to be civilized. Then we are told to keep a civil tongue in our head! It should come as no surprise when there are civil penalties for acting in an uncivilized manner. Consider recent events in the news as an example. An entire television series was cancelled. True that wasn't done by a legal authority, it wasn't a civil matter, but a business decision by a corporation. There are however provisions in the law for libel and slander. In recent years hate speech has been added to a list of civil crimes punishable by civil authority. And just what is a civil crime? It is defined as a crime between two or more people or a business.  Criminal offenses, on the other hand, are a violation of local ordinances or state and federal statutes prohibiting certain conduct. The penalty is determined by the severity of the crime. How do we determine that? It is a rather subjective thing wouldn't you agree? There is a rather fine line between civil and criminal offenses. 
 We are doing that all the while claiming " freedom of speech. " We have placed a restriction on that when the consequence of that speech may cause harm to others. There can be civil penalties imposed. There can be consequences imposed for possible consequences. Think about that for a minute. I can  be penalized, in varying degrees, for things that might happen. Or, at least, things that are likely to happen. For instance, hate speech. I may cause anything from hurt feelings to a riot! Surely we are justified in placing civil restrictions on that. Everyone agrees. Well, almost everyone agrees anyway. There are those that would make hate speech a criminal offense. A further progression? Is protecting that form of speech an outdated concept?
 Just where am I going with all of this? I started out with the thought that the ultimate consequence for our actions has to be our conscious. This has to be true for the virtuous man. And yes, I mean women too, or whatever you identify yourself to be. Instilling the traits we consider to be virtuous has always been the function of spirituality. In the Christian tradition, the one I am most familiar with, there are four human virtues. Yeah, most of us have heard of the seven deadly sins. We are told to avoid those. But what are the four virtues? They are, not necessarily in order of importance, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Justice being the one we hear used the most these days but not as a virtue, as an action. Prudence is that virtue that causes us to act according to our moral compass. When you are prudent, you make the considered and correct choice. Fortitude is the strength to persevere when faced with life's difficulties. Temperance is best summed up with an old adage, all things in moderation. It is Justice that I began thinking about. Justice is not simply making retribution or imposing a penalty on your fellow man for his indiscretions. Justice is a personal thing. Justice is concerned with giving everything and everyone their proper due. We all know the phrase from the Constitution penned by Jefferson, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regarding the rights of every man. He wasn't the first to say such. John Locke has been attributed with that but I read where Adam Smith said it first. Whoever said it first isn't really important just understanding those rights are. If we understand that and act with Prudence, Temperance and fortitude Justice will have been served. Our conscience is our guide and our conscience holds us accountable. I would think that is why Monroe said, To suppose any form of government will secure Liberty and Happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea. In other words, man can not write laws that guarantee virtuous behavior. The best we can hope for from government is to govern, akin to Temperance. Prudence, Fortitude and Justice is up to the individual.    
 
     

Saturday, June 2, 2018

over the line

 I've expressed my thoughts about this subject in the past and it was brought to the front once again by recent events. First there was Roseanne and her statement. She was fired immediately for that and I'd say she deserved what she got. That was followed by Samantha Bee, who has apologized and the whole incident most likely forgotten. Setting aside the obvious bias both statements were rude, crude and just plain wrong. But we have to examine what precipitated all of this. It is what I have been writing about for some time, the language we use in what I call " polite " company. The choice of adjectives and expletives being used in everyday language has certainly expanded to include all manner of offensive and downright inappropriate terms. The result? We are now hearing apologies that include this phrase, " I crossed a line. " The problem is, you erased that line years ago with your insistence of " Freedom of Speech " meaning I can just say whatever I want, to whomever I want, whenever I want, using any language I want! It's my right. The filter of civility was removed with that action and this is the result.
 I was raised in a time when you could get your mouth washed out with soap! Yes, there were certain words you just didn't use. There were words that weren't allowed to be used on the radio and television. George Carlin did a famous bit about that, and the people laughed and laughed. That was in 1972 and we all felt so adult for having listened to that. There was even a Supreme court case over it. The court upheld the FCC rules on what can be said. There was still a sense of decency back then although I'd say George Carlin did a good bit to erode that. No pun intended. Prior to that, that sort of thing was only heard in smoky nightclubs on the seedier side of town. We all agreed it was for " adults " only. There were recordings you could purchase featuring Red Foxx and others doing their " blue " routines. It was all very mature and grown up. That was the justification behind it, vice is always quite exciting isn't it? Yes, we all like to do what we are told not to do, or say. And then we decided that is also made us tough! A cursing person is a dangerous person! If they are using foul and abusive language they mean business! Isn't that the perception? The reason for that is it implies that they are also angry. Don't mess with mad people, they are seldom rational. It is better to leave the crazies alone! This has been known by many cultures throughout history. It has also been used as a tool by many to gain attention and influence others.
  When I was in the Navy, and sailors are notorious for their " salty " language, I saw all that in action. It is really an alpha male type of thing. Those that can cuss the foulest, the loudest and the longest are the winners! Combine that ability with a willingness to engage in physical confrontation and you have your Hollywood sailor. The difference I see today is the removal of physical confrontation. We don't do that anymore, being civilized and all. We have even invented a new term, verbal assault! We still want to attack you, to degrade and humiliate you, to dominate, but we don't want to risk physical injury. So, we use the verbal attack! We are too adult to resort to violence. Really it is just the removal of consequence but we'll label it progressive thinking. Yes, I remember a day when saying or using certain words and phrases would get you a knuckle sandwich!
 The bottom line for me is we, as a society, have allowed and encouraged this sort of thing. We speak so much of censorship and how we shouldn't be censored. The thing is what was being censored was words, not thoughts. No one advocated for the removal of free expression of ideas or thoughts. The idea was to temper our speech with reason. To speak in a civil fashion. As people realized that they could just use name calling and foul and abusive language rather than presenting a well reasoned and valid rebuttal that is what was utilized. It requires little thought and less intelligence. It appeals to the more base portion of character. Morality is a major part of our character. As we dismiss the concepts of moral behavior such choices are made. And yes, a choice is what it is. The new moral code states we get to choose what is moral or not, depending upon our current needs. But I won't get into all of that.
 The phrases most employed don't even make sense! No matter, they're offensive, they will push the button. That is the difference. Where once we offered rebuttal, we now just offer an argument. The argument often contains no actual refutation other than, I think you are wrong. You can hear me cussing right. I'm calling you names. I have offended you. That makes me the winner. If shouting and expletives don't do it, I'll protest! I might even boycott! Don't step over the line! We don't know where the line is anymore but don't step over it. Well, unless it gains ratings or something like that, then it's entertainment. We're just kidding, it's a joke.    
   

Friday, June 1, 2018

Reading and writing

 In poor Richards' almanac Benjamin Franklin wrote, " If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either writes things worth reading, or do things worth writing. " That bit of advice was in the May edition of 1738. That was 280 years ago. I believe old Bens' advice is just as valid today as it was then. Where he here today I expect he would have a lot to say about social media posts and tweets as a form of writing. You can become memorable for the things you write there! I question though how many will be remembered after you are gone? That is what Franklin was talking about, making a positive contribution to the conversation. Write things worth reading was the advice. I do believe there is little we can write that someone else hasn't already written in some form or another. As we acquire wisdom from others we do repeat that wisdom. Often we paraphrase that wisdom to make it sound like our own. That is not so important as the sharing of that wisdom.
 The other half of Franklins' advice recommends you do things worth writing about. I think he was saying if you don't write it yourself, do something to have others write about you. Remember the object is not to be remembered, but not to be forgotten. That is a nuance many fail to recognize.  Franklin uses the word worth and the implication is clear, worth is something of value. Too many people today don't understand the " worth " or value of words and actions, mistaking them as just something to be remembered. Not all memorable words are good, and atrocities are surely remembered longer than good deeds. But that is the nature of man.
 Another quote from Franklin says. " Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after you subtract your bad habits from your good ones. " You can't argue with that statement either, not if you are an honest person. Franklin had many bad habits, we read all about that today, but he is remembered for his wit and wisdom, along with his inventions and discoveries. All his faults are mentioned today as a means to make us feel better about ourselves. And that is what I read a lot on social media as well. A lot of posts about the shortcomings of others, in an effort to justify their own failings. It is really the " I'm no worse than " argument. Using that logic we can do or say just about anything,  by comparison. Think smoking marijuana as an example. It's no worse than drinking alcohol. Sounds logical doesn't it? Is smoking pot a good thing? It isn't any better than drinking is my response. See the difference there? The reality is we should be striving for better than, an improvement,  not a  no worse than mentality. We really should be striving to be better. Settling for I'm no worse than will get you forgotten, just another face in the crowd. Your net worth to the world than being equal to all others.
 Franklin says, if you would not be forgotten. He goes on to say you must take action. The things that we write are not always in books. They may be written in the hearts of those that we love. I believe that is more to the point Franklin was talking about. As I often say, as long as a person name is spoken, they are never gone. The words are written in the hearts of others. The hope is the story, the words, are good ones. Doing things that are worth reading or doing things that are worth writing. That is the task before us, a task we call living. In the end, when it all is said and done, what will your net worth be? What account book is being used? Thomas Jefferson said, " Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom. " That is a book worth writing; and reading.  

Thursday, May 31, 2018

a guaranteed faith

 It has been said that all things change over time. I would say that isn't exactly the truth, it is only the manner in which we view or practice things that changes over time. That is why the elderly complain about children. It is really quite simple, as I find most things to be at their essence. It does seem the more " educated " man becomes the more he likes to complicate things. I suppose if you have those advanced degrees the wish is to impose them on others, to prove your superiority. " Knowledge without humility is vanity " ( A.W. Tozer ) Einstein said, " if you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself " I agree with both of those gentlemen. There really isn't much that changes over time, life processes remain the same, and the manner in which men wish to be treated. That isn't to say there is anything inherently wrong with changes. I'm not saying that, what I am saying is,  what men want changes very little.
 I, of course, write only from my perspective. I report what I have seen, learned or experienced in my lifetime, a lifetime not yet complete and therefore subject to change. There are some changes that quite naturally make me uncomfortable, a departure from what I expect. The worship of God, as I perceive it, has changed. Where once we prayed in humbled whispers we now shout in jubilation at a God we no longer know. We strike up the band,  instead of sending up prayers. Faith is displayed in shows of testimony, impressing our belief upon others,  rather than confessing our shortcomings.          Now, all that is not really new, some folks have always worshipped in that fashion. It is just a cultural thing. There is no right or wrong as far as that goes. That is to say, as long as the end result is the same. And what is the purpose, the desired end result of worship? To please our God and gain eternal life for ourselves. That's pretty much the basic purpose. Really a selfish thing when viewed in that fashion, the desired result being a reward. But that is what we are taught, for the most part. That is the incentive! Worship is the means to an end. I'd say that worship as a means can take you down the wrong path altogether. Worship is a function of the heart and a personal thing. The purpose of worship is to establish a relationship with your God. It is not to establish a relationship with my God. That is the distinction I feel is being lost in the show. It is that that causes my discomfort. Historically it is the search for God that has been the impetus for good and evil. Little inspires folks to action more than their God.
 I have seen a change in that regard. God seldom provides instant rewards, we must be patient. Are we not taught that lesson from the moment we are told about God? The reason for that is God provides us with the intangible. It is those intangibles that bring the final comfort to our lives. Happiness, contentment, peace of mind, love , all those things we can't purchase on Amazon! But it takes time and devotion. Now I see the setting aside of God in favor of the things that provide instant gratification, immediate relief. The attempt is being made to replace God with science. We can explain it all and provide artificial means to achieve an end. Of course we first remove the idea of life beyond death. That's why we need to dismiss the premise of God as the creator of life. With the removal of God we can change the narrative altogether. The only reward is what we receive here on earth. In so doing we can justify our response to perceived inequities and injustice. We can then use the very things we wish to obtain as tools against those that would deny us what they can't provide in the first place! We will legislate faith as a form of government! A " faith " that provides immediate relief and benefits, no waiting, no praying, no hoping. It's a guarantee.
 Is the worship of God empirical? For me it certainly is. I have seen works that could be accomplished by no other. There is the natural world as well as what we call miracles. In my experience God does interact with the world. It is not a theory, and I have to admit,  not really logical. I say the later because I can't grasp quite why God created the world in the first place, to amuse himself? But, then again, I don't need to concern myself with that. The world is real, I live in it and have to deal with that. I believe God created it all. I don't believe he would create something just to see it destroyed. That includes me.
Matthew 6:19-21 19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
 Matthew explained it a bit more concisely than I did. I just wanted to give my point of view. The difficulty for us all is to separate our treasures from our hearts!


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Can I say that?

 It's been confirmed, freedom of speech has now been limited to those on the left. Everyone else is either a racist, spewing hate speech or has a phobia on some kind. Never much of a fan of Roseanne I read where her show was canceled because of a tweet. Well, she probably should have known better. There are only certain circumstances and situations where you are allowed to make such jokes. She did apologize but there is no forgiveness from the left, the land of inclusiveness and charity! Yes, those on the left will make you empathic, understanding and compassionate no matter how much they have to tax or fine you! You will be ostracized into submission!
 I have watched this progression for some time. When you start labeling speech as a crime ( hate speech ) you should become alarmed. That is sorta the reason the founding fathers wrote the first amendment and made it first! Yeah, it's kinda important. Yes, there were restrictions placed on it, think hollering fire, for the general safety of everyone. That was followed by laws about , inciting a riot. Both things reasonable and made necessary by unreasonable people. The thing is actual physical harm could stem from both of those actions effecting many people. It's a shame those rules have to exist. But now we have reached the point where just hurting someone's feelings can get you silenced, indeed you can be hauled into court over that! Strange how those on the left are free to exercise " their first amendment rights " think disrespecting the National Anthem, staging " die ins " at places of business and any number of things that hurt the feelings of the more conservative members of our society but when those same folks are offended, it's hate speech! There are attempts being made to regulate social media, think book banning, the restriction of disseminating opinions, views, facts or fiction freely!
 Did Roseanne Bar make a racially insensitive remark/joke? Yes, yes she did and so does any number of comedians in nightclubs across this country every night. Does the main stream media degrade, disrespect, and accuse the President of the United States of nefarious plans and strategies every day? Yes, they do! Turn on the talk shows and give them a listen. Shows like the VIEW! How is that not offensive, insensitive and hateful? Makes me sick.
 We are fast approaching a tipping point. Either we are going to preserve the Republic or we will allow it to degenerate into a socialist form of government. When freedom of speech is gone, when the right to bear arms is gone, and the population made dependent upon government, the transformation will have taken place. And you know what? You will not be able to even talk about it, no fond remembrances of the good old days allowed! History will have been erased, because we were offended! Freedom of speech isn't just for saying what people want to hear! It is not conditional! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Atrophy

 James Monroe wrote, " To suppose any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chirmical idea. " What is he saying here? I think we would have to begin with the idea of virtue. He says we must have virtue in the people. What is virtue? Virtue is having high moral standards is the short answer. The question is from where or from what do we derive our high moral standards? According to the history James Monroe was a Christian. He was baptized in the Episcopal Church. There are some who make claim that he was really a Deist. The distinction is not so important as the belief, in my opinion. It is the actions we are instructed to follow that secure our salvation, not the motivation behind them. James Monroe derived his high moral standards from the Bible! I don't think you could make any argument to the contrary. That the founding fathers, as we have taken to calling them, where Christians in the majority is undisputed. Yes, these men where well read and certainly influenced by other writings and teachings. I do believe that Monroe was referencing the teachings of the Bible as his example of a virtuous person. That was his model. The moral standards of the American society are founded in that. Did not the Puritans arrive on this soil to escape religious prosecution? They carried with them the Geneva Bible. That Bible had been translated from the Latin and Greek and was not liked by the Pope or King James! Fact is, King James made it a felony to even own a copy and had his own translation printed, the King James Bible we all know today. I'm certain Monroe had read them all. And, in it's essence, all those Bibles say the same thing. Virtue and morality are based on Gods word as contained in the scriptures! 
 So, when James Monroe said, " to suppose any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea" he was talking about Christian values. He was saying it is not " government " that will ensure liberty or happiness. He uses the word chimerical, one I wasn't familiar with but is defined as, " a thing that is hoped for, or wished for,  but is impossible to achieve. " He is making it clear that government can not guarantee liberty or happiness. In so saying what is the implication? Seems clear that the implication is that those are personal achievements achieved only by the moral and virtuous man. And yes, when I say man, I mean everyone, mankind, humankind, whatever other nouns or pronouns you wish to apply.
 " Before any man can be considered as a member of a civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the governor of the universe, and to the same author of every good and perfect gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land. " Those were the thoughts of then President Monroe. Notice he says " governor of the universe. " There was political correctness even then and so that is why the cryptic reference to God. He gives the credit to God for religious and civil advantages enjoyed by the citizens of America. The importance to me is his acknowledgement that man must be considered  a subject of God. What is a subject? In his day a subject was a person that was loyal and subject to the will of his master. He is saying that God is the master of all mankind!
 Why, you wonder why am I writing about this? I am writing in search of answers. As I watch the news and see all the terrible events that are taking place I want to know why. What has happened to man that he commits such atrophic acts? And it is certainly an atrophy in morality and virtues. I don't believe anyone could deny that. James Monroe provides insight. You can not expect any form of government to provide moral or virtuous solutions to the struggle of just being human. It is God, by whatever name you choose, that will provide that guidance. It is God that will provide the strength to endure. Monroe clearly states, we are all indebted for whatever privilege or advantage we enjoy. We need to return to that attitude and in that the government may heal itself. The healing taking place in the hearts of the governed! Government in and of itself can not provide liberty or happiness. Let's quit trying to legislate that.     

Monday, May 28, 2018

Comemorate or Celebrate

 I don't think there is much I can write about Memorial today that hasn't already been written. What can you say about those that lost their lives. We like to call them heroes, speak of their sacrifice and bravery to justify that loss. That is only natural. A day was instituted to remember them all. As we all know it was originally called decoration day and was to be observed on the 30th of May, regardless of the day of the week. Over time that became an inconvenience and the day was moved, included in the Uniform Monday Holiday act. That decision was made in 1968. In my thinking it marks a beginning. It is then when " legislation " decided that convenience was more important than the actual observation. The name of the day was even changed! From then on it was officially Memorial day. I see today, in 2018 the removal of memorials! Yes, only certain offensive memorials but memorials nonetheless. Is it time to change the name again?
 The original intent was to remember those that lost their lives. We went to the cemeteries and decorated the graves. Speeches were made and tales told. The names were spoken, honored and respected. The thing is the day was spent with the dead. Yes, that's correct, the picnics and speeches were given in the cemeteries. It was a day for the fallen! That was the purpose, to never forget them. It has become a popular phrase today " Never Forget " but what are we supposed to never forget? The implication is to remember the injury caused us by some other foreign power or group. Never forget they attacked the twin towers or never forget Pearl Harbor. We are urged to remember the injustice! But Decoration day/ Memorial Day is to remember those that fought and died. It is those that paid the price for that injustice!

    " For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue. For the noblest man that lives, there still remains a conflict. He must still withstand the assaults of time and fortune, must still be assailed with temptations, before which lofty natures have fallen; but with these the conflict ended, the victory was won, when death stamped on them the great seal of heroic character, and closed a record which years can never blot. " 
 That is an except from a speech given by then President James Garfield at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868. He spoke of the " great seal of heroic character." What does he mean by that? I believe he is talking about putting ideals above yourself.  For love of country they accepted death! They did what needed to be done, not for themselves but for their country. He speaks of the " noblest man " that lives and their continued struggles. That is us! That is who he is talking about, and what temptations is he implying? The temptation to forget. The temptation to compromise their patriotism, indeed their virtue to satisfy their own wants and needs. For the love of Country they accepted death! 
 I can't help but question. I can't help but feel a tinge of guilt. Is this a day to celebrate? Shouldn't this be a day to commemorate, not celebrate? Yes I realize the words are synonymous. Still, each word invokes a slightly different meaning. To commemorate implies it is done for someone or something else. To celebrate is a more personal action, done more for your own enjoyment than anything else. It is my feeling in 1968 Decoration Day was changed, made more convenient and the very nature of it changed. It went from commemoration to celebration! Indeed labeled a holiday with all that implies. It is a sign of an ever changing society and that is as it should be. Change isn't always for the best, but change will always happen.   

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Consequence

 Playing to the audience. That is what they call it when you just make music or whatever to please the audience. The implication being the person is compromising in some fashion. The object is to gain fame or fortune. You would think that I don't have to be concerned with that, after all I'm certainly not getting rich or famous writing a blog! I imagine there are some folks that have managed to do that. I'm thinking you really need to go on twitter or you tube if you were interested in that. I've never heard of a blogger going viral. Maybe that is because us bloggers are already a little sick. Whatever the case, I do think about that stuff every now and again. I don't want to start writing to my audience. It is a matter of personal integrity in my thinking. I admit it is a temptation at times rather than giving actual thought to what it is I am trying to talk about. It's pretty easy to write about things everyone loves and agrees on. I see a number of Facebook postings that do just that every day. Share if you love puppies, leave a note if you hate cancer, that sort of thing. Of course I see just the opposite as well. There are those posting that appear to just try to create controversy.
 It is true that I've gotten folks upset with some of my opinions. Well that's unfortunate but unavoidable. If no one is challenging what you say, you ain't saying much. That's the way I think about that anyway. I'm not trying to elicit a response so much as stimulate discussion. That's what I tell myself. It's quite an easy task to get a reaction out of people. Any fool can do that, it takes a special kind of fool to fish for truth. That's because when fishing you can never be sure what it is you will catch, It ain't always good! I'll keep on casting my line though, might get the big one.
 There are times when I'm not certain just what I'm trying to say. This morning is one of those times. I don't want to write a blog just for the sake of writing a blog. I also don't want to start writing stories to just satisfy my readers and gain an audience. At the same time I want people to read my blog, if no one reads it, what is the point in writing it? That is the dilemma I face. The whole bit about doing it for yourself sounds all Zen, but I'm no Buddhist! I admit I like feedback and recognition. I like to think I have something of some importance to say or share. I also believe the hardest person to convince of that should be yourself! That feeling goes by a few descriptions. Self confidence is one, conceit is another. The difficulty lies in distinguishing between the two.
 Over the years of writing these postings I would say I have done so with a broad brush. As my wife is fond of pointing out, there isn't much I haven't written about. Some would call that being opinionated. I would have to agree. If however I where a famous professor with a PhD my blogs would be viewed differently. They might be considered a definitive guide to morality and virtue in the American experience. I may be on the talk show circuit or giving lectures. That's what being a " expert " is all about. All you need to do is convince others! I often wonder if those so-called experts believe what they are saying. Could it be that they are playing to an audience? Dr. Phil jumps to mind for some reason. Now his show is more like Jerry Springer. I'm thinking that is solely to keep the ratings up. Has Dr. Phil sold out or did he intentionally build the store? Well, whatever the case he is successful right? It also helps when you have a son that publishes your books. Whatever, I didn't intend to bash Dr. Phil just provide an example of what I'm thinking about.
 I have yet to find a single subject that can hold my sole attention for any great length of time. You can say I'm inquisitive or nosey. I enjoy learning about all manner of stuff. I like to think and I like to do. I want to design the house but build it also. It is a lack of focus that hampers my ambition. That is what I have always been told. I remember my teachers in school saying just that. " Mr. Reichart if you would just buckle down and apply yourself. " Gad, I hated hearing that over and over. I got it done didn't I? I passed the test didn't I? Isn't that why I'm here? What's the problem?
 I've rambled on enough this morning without really saying a thing. I always feel a little let down when that happens. Maybe it happens more than I realize. I've been told that I like to talk just to hear myself talk, could be I like to write just to read what I wrote! Now just what is that saying? I do need to remind myself on occasion. It's just my opinion. Opinion is fact to the one stating that opinion. Facts can also be other peoples opinions. But opinions are subject to change, facts are not! Well, unless I change my opinion about that. Should I change my opinion to please the audience? That's a problem though, do the ends justify the means? Scholars debate the value of Consequentialism, that is to say the ultimate consequence of an action determines that actions worth. The only problem being, determination of worth to whom? To you or the majority?