A Thought on Respecting the Opinion, and one’s right to voice that Opinion, in a Democracy.

(Below is a partial quote from the movie “The American President,” 1995. Written by Aaron Sorkin.)

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_American_President

I’ll “dumb this down.” Have the depth and decency to allow that others may disagree with you and accept that they may feel just as passionate about their opinions as you do about yours.

Rule of Thumb: If your goal is to effect real change while respecting the opinions of others; steam on. If your goal is to make your point on TV through violence or to get your “15 minutes of Fame,” please do us the courtesy of at least carrying pocket change.

The Puzzle of Our Existence

In the beginning, the world, as we know it, was created. It doesn’t really matter how, it just was.

And, in the beginning, like a puzzle, the first edge was formed. For the sake of argument, let’s say that time moves in a line from left to right, so it was the left edge.

The rest of the puzzle’s pieces didn’t exist yet, only the first row. But like any puzzle, each piece was in search of the next piece to fill its unique void.

The rules were simple. Two factors dictated the creation of the next piece; Humanity and it’s desires/needs and something bigger; God, Mother Nature, whatever. The second just made sure that the first didn’t destroy the world or itself; that it survived.

Now here’s the deal. Each new piece is not random. The piece before it created the space that only that particular new piece would fit. The prior piece is looking for a solution to what it perceives as a problem and in theory, the new piece solves the problem.

A modern example: Polio is ravaging the world. The desire of its citizens is to end the disease. This piece of the puzzle will only allow one other particular piece to fit; the cure.  Enter Dr. Jonas Salk, the matching piece. He was the right person, at the right time and he was a perfect fit.

A Historic example: What happens when humanity becomes too dense in a confined area? Starvation, unsanitary conditions, war. The World has a problem and needs a solution. The matching piece; the solution, if you will, is usually something horrible that quickly “thins the herd” returning the affected area to levels that are sustainable. The European plague of the 1600’s comes to mind.

The point is, what we receive is usually what we asked for. We just didn’t think it would be so painful.

A tragic example: In 1919, Germany “accepted” the Treaty of Versailles. This once proud country was now on its knees. An economic depression ensued, and its citizens were starving, miserable and searching, desperately, for a solution. They remembered, fondly, the heady days of a great and powerful Germany and they wanted it back.

In 1923-1924, the missing piece of their puzzle wrote a book, and in that book, he addressed the problem and then he offered a solution. His name was Adolf Hitler and we know how that turned out. He was the right person, in the right place, at the right time and it ended in disaster.

The moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for as you may just get it.

What I’m suggesting here is that when enough people perceive that something is a problem, they create a space where only a particular and unique solution will fit. Adolf Hitler, in any other time, would have been “laughed off the stage,” but at that particular and unique time, his piece attached perfectly to the piece before it.

Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, in any other time, may have never succeeded and been just another unknown name. But they were known, they did rise above, and they were the desired piece of the puzzle for the time and place in which they existed.

Each time we add to our linear puzzle, we must accept the results of the outcome. We, the prior pieces, formed the design of the next piece, insisting that it align with our desires and once found, we provided the opportunity for it to thrive.

Fast forward to 2016. Hillary Clinton could not have won the election. Actually, she really never even stood a chance.

The business of Politics had become synonymous with the words: Status quo, Corruption, Gridlock and Dishonesty. The cries for change were at fever pitch and it was inevitable that the next piece of the puzzle would be someone “different.” That is not to say “better,” just “different.”

Enter, Donald Trump: “The everything else but a politician,” piece.

History will judge President Trump as it judges us all. Bickering over whether he should remain in office is a waste of time and energy. The reality is that he is the President, it is his time, it is his place and we, the People, did create this particular and unique void in which his piece fit perfectly.

Humanity really should be much more careful about what it desires. As each day passes, we are actively creating the environment for the next missing piece of our puzzle to thrive; either good or bad.

 

We choose not who will be good and who will be evil; we choose only to open the door and let them in. It is then that they take root and choose the path that they’ll follow. It is also then that we yield to them our fate.

Michael McCown

 

A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.

Mahatma Gandhi

Three Hours to Change a Life

In 1975, I was in the 5th grade and was struggling with math. Our class had about 28-30 students and the Teacher, Dona Millan, was a school favorite. When I finished the 4th grade, she was the Teacher that I hoped to be assigned to. I really didn’t know why, other than I had heard she was nice. Fortunately, the stars lined up and there I sat; content but with “math issues.”

Mrs. Millan said we needed to go fishing. There was a lake nearby that had Trout “planted” in it regularly and she kept a careful eye on their “planting” schedule. She called my Mother for permission and later that day, the two of us went to the lake. She carried fishing equipment in her car and soon we were standing on the sandy shore casting her version of a “trout line” into the water. She taught me to tie a “fisherman’s knot” and how to add 3-4 bait hooks to a single line. We fished, talked about everything BUT math and watched the Sun go down. She dropped me off at my house and that was that.

I had just experienced one of the best days of my life.

This “Teacher” had invested three hours of her precious personal time in one student with a math problem from a class of 28-30. The next day, I worked harder than ever. There was NO way that I was going to disappoint Mrs. Millan. My grades improved and to this day, I smile when I think of her. I later learned that she took as many students as she could fishing and I now understood why her students did so well and why every fourth grader wanted to be in her class.

Mrs. Millan was married and had a family, didn’t get paid extra for her efforts and had a large classroom of students, all anxious for her time. They almost had to drag me, kicking and screaming, from the fifth grade to the sixth.

Today, obviously, times have changed from 1975; schools, teachers and technology. The current dogma suggests that yesterday’s “thinking” is outdated and obsolete and that today’s “thinking” is progressive and improved. My “thinking” is that this “thinking” is “textbook” crap. A Teacher took three hours of her time. My Grand Children are handed iPads and headphones in class. I can hear the excuses already…

 

Scissors; What possesses these fickle things?

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Time to trim the sideburns as, apparently, I’m not a “mutton chop” kinda guy. I grab a nice pair of barber scissors and trim the mass down on the right side of my face; all good. Switch hands and go for the left; the hair folds into the scissors. I turn them 180 degrees; same thing… I switch back to my right hand, get into a “wonky” position and the damn things work. What is this Magic!?

The Point of the Highland Thistle

“The Point of The Highland Thistle”

At the Vernal Equinox, the Scottish Highlands have always yielded before their Dark and Mercurial Sky, who once again is forced to endure Lady Spring’s conspicuous and gaudy arrival.

As She approached, the curmudgeonly Sky, turned and peered into the distance, greeting her only with silence.

Lady Spring, irritated by the tepid reception and the Sky’s obvious lack of deference, gazed disapprovingly upon the Highlands and its dull and dreary pallor.

“The only signs of life are these prickly Scottish thistles that rise from the snow,” she said, while she tugged at her robe which had become entangled in it’s thorny stalk and was refusing to yield. Frustrated, she removed the robe and tugged as hard as she could, pulling the whole plant from the soil, whose sudden release caused her to fall backward onto the ground; her robe now completely covered in thorns. “I’ll banish them too!” she shrieked as she stood up, angrily casting the robe aside.

With great pomp and flair, she twirled her hands in the air and ordered the darkened clouds and unruly winds to cease their wintry assault, casting them out into the open seas. She then summoned the Sun who failed to reply. She jumped in the air, loudly repeating her demand and this time the Sun responded and began moving sunlight towards the land. Cold, she reached for her thistle-covered robe, mumbling about ridding the Highlands of this prickly nuisance.

The Sky, who was watching in awe at the folly of her performance, found himself unable to resist and mocked Lady Spring, “Once again you appear in the Highlands, uninvited, and wave your arms about, looking ridiculous. You arrogantly presume that you rule this realm and in furtherance of your silliness, you insist on repainting the Highland’s serene and wintry landscape with your whimsical palette of color.”

Lady Spring replied, “And once again, you, dear Sky, ridicule me and stand in my way. The Seasons have grown weary of quarreling with you and wish an end to your child-like petulance. You seem to forget that you are only a simple vessel that contains the desire of each Season, so remember your place and do step aside.”

The Sun, noticing that the clouds had fled, finally arrived, and at the direction of Lady Spring shone upon the Highland’s frozen landscape awakening the frost-covered grasses and seeds, who were most eager to rise from the soil and bring forth their brilliance of color.

The Sky, now vexed, summoned back the darkened clouds and unruly winds, who gladly yielded to his call and furiously spread vast blankets of snow and ice; spitefully covering the landscape and Lady Spring with the most colorless shades of gray and white.

The Clouds; roguish and detesting Celestial order, barred the Sun’s radiance by stubbornly cleaving to one another. The Sun was then forced to shine upon the soil elsewhere; thus, denying the Highlands their warm and rejuvenating light and further frustrating Lady Springs’ most ardent attempts at painting the countryside in colors so vibrant and bright.

The Highland Sky, whose patience had long since waned, furiously spoke to Lady Spring. “A vessel indeed!” he snarled, “Remember this day, for like the Great Highland Thistle, I will never give yield to you or any other!”

Lady Spring, fearing further wrath from the tempestuous Sky, wisely fled the Highlands and sought refuge within the vast expanse of the Heavens. The Seasons of Summer, Fall and Winter were watching and quickly agreed that they would have nothing further to do with the harsh Scottish Highlands, leaving its fate in the hands of its maddened Sky.

The Sky was pleased that all was well and right again. For the Highland realm tolerates only the heartiest of souls and will mercilessly drive away all who are less worthy.

The Sky then motioned for the clouds and the winds to abate, graciously allowing the Sun’s rays to return and shine upon the land, melting the snow and bringing pleasant weather and tall green grasses to the Scottish Highlands.