A Man Falls Into a Hole…

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.
“A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
“Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on
“Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”

Aaron Sorkin


Today, I’m Nero; Let it Burn.

It’s early in the morning and I’d like to turn on the TV. Ultimately though, that would lead to the national news and their dreaded panels or the local news where I would learn whose tractor flipped over or how the local chess team did. Other than that, it’s commercials about erectile dysfunction, Flo selling insurance or someone reminding me of how I should be feeling about an issue, which is frustrating and annoying. Keeping an opinion to yourself, is apparently a “cop out” in today’s world.

I get it though, we are in trouble. As a society, we’ve actually ground to a halt; paralyzed. The media, the people, the politicians; it’s either “this way or that”. Compromising, which used to be an act of meeting in the middle, is now seen as “giving in”; failing to get your way or “selling out” your cause. We are inundated daily with opinions and being forced to choose a side; and that side had better agree with the “popular” position or you will suffer certain backlash from their group. Well today, I’ll be Nero while Rome burns. If me not engaging in this mess matters that much, then burn baby,  burn, we’ll rebuild again tomorrow.

I don’t feel like turning on the TV or fighting with those who disagree with whatever position I have or don’t have and I definitely don’t care whether the chess team won or lost. Today, I don’t want to hear your opinion and tomorrow’s not looking too good either. However, erectile dysfunction is something to ponder, as I am getting older, so I might need to watch that commercial again.

No, I think I’ll just read a good book this morning and watch the sunrise. We’re still allowed to do that, right?



An Allegory on the Soul of Humanity

The end of our existence began with the last desperate gasp of a dying child; not as written in the ancient texts, but in silence, without even the faintest hint of a whisper. The Soul of humanity stirred and was awoken from slumber by the wretched stench of human cruelty. Borne of the Creation, and dormant to remain until the glorious twilight of Mankind, the Soul peered about the world and was heartbroken; as this was not what was meant to be. Mankind, still in it’s infancy, was thriving amidst the chaos and misery of its own creation. Once before, mankind’s presence was washed from this earthly sphere only to return having learned nothing but vengeance. But, long ago, Heaven had made a promise of which it had no intention to fail. The Soul of Humanity then foresaw the end of Mans’ reign, not by Celestial hand as foretold, but by the hand of mankind, upon itself. With great sadness, Humanities’ Soul cried out to Heaven and begged reprieve. For each human was given a blessed soul, now tortured and in pain, as humanity eagerly embraced apathy and greed. Many souls longed to leave their earthly prison and return to the calm tendered within the Gate’s of St. Peter. Heaven then opened wide the Great Book, so drawn to the page where the ancient Promise was recorded by the hand of the Almighty, and with labored sigh, sadly conceded; granting to each soul the choice of it’s destiny. The fleeing souls wept, leaving humanity to suffer it’s tragic fate while a courageous few remained behind, having decided their charge worthy. Humanity continued about it’s path towards oblivion, having failed to even noticed the loss, for it had stopped listening, long ago, to the desperate plea’s of their precious soul. Heaven then closed the Great Book and peered towards the earth, refusing to intervene further in the destructive path of Man; promising only to return, once again, when the descendent’s of Adam have destroyed themselves and the earth from within.


The human male, a plague on humanity.

As a white male, this is a tragic assessment of my gender. There is no science, behavioral or biological, that can explain away our unforgivable behavior.


I simply cannot find words that are strong enough to describe my bewilderment at “the why”. What the !@?# is wrong with us? Is it a physical or a chemical thing? “I’m sorry sir, I’m afraid you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal case of Male. Unfortunately, it’s incurable and you’re just going to have to live with being an asshole.”  Think I’m overreacting? Test question:

What is the gender of every School shooter, Church shooter, Public Event shooter, Highway shooter, Shopping Mall shooter and Military Base shooter? Who is plowing into crowds with a vehicle, hi-jacking planes, car-jacking cars, stabbing people in crowds and who is also most likely to shoot up a restaurant, rob you, assault you or rape you? Who is also most likely to be banned from living within X number of feet from a school? Who is starting forest fires, abusing animals and most likely to drive stupid? Hint: Males

I genuinely believe that if an “animal” species’ behavior was this bad, we’d be exterminating them or at the very least, controlling their numbers. Actually, I think we do that with bulls. Maybe the problem and it’s solution have been staring us right in the face the whole time; Balls.

It’s easy to blame guns, society, bad parenting, politics or Bugs Bunny, but at the end of the day, the true problem is patently obvious; he’s walking the streets and waiting at a crime scene near you.

Until we wake up and face reality, these tragedies are going keep happening especially when the cause is in charge of fixing the problem.





Givers and Takers, That’s Life

The burden of change, weighs heavily upon the shoulders of the benevolent. For those who are kind, must remain nimble as the taker seeks out the generous, if only to relieve them of their gains for the natural law draws all towards the mean.  

The giver gives and the taker takes until all is lost and the giver grieves, standing naked, alone without means. As such is the reality of being charitable. 

    M.S. McCown 

Opinions, Writing

The Man who would be King

He did it again; such incredible hubris! I’m watching the evening news; the arrogance! How did we get here? I’ve never seen this before…but wait, I have; I’ve read about this in history books.

I voted for him; we needed “a change”. I hear those words echoing, aching painfully throughout our world’s history; Out with the old, in with the new.

Suddenly, I realize that it isn’t a mystery as to why we are where we are politically today . We are exactly where we are supposed to be, exactly. The pendulum swings again. The infamous don’t create the events, the events unleash the infamous.

History is full of people who became infamous by filling the vacuum created by the events of the times in which they lived. We praise or blame the person for their deeds, but seem to remain mystified at how they came to be. We then fail to accept that we, the people, created the perfect environment for them to flourish; and they usually do. General George Patton, a brilliant military tactician during World War II, lamented that the war would soon end and with it, his purpose.  It was “his time” and he felt that destiny had made him for that specific event. Ronald Reagan was the right person at the right time in America and he excelled. Was he a great person or was he the “right” person for the time or both? I doubt that Adolf Hitler would have had his “rise to infamy” at any other time in history, had the after-effects of world war I not fomented the perfect environment for his existence. He didn’t create the world in which he lived, but he certainly “excelled”, tragically, within it.

I belive society creates the dilemma, adds a degree of desperation and then grinds to a stop. It is here that we, at our weakest, create the environment that unleashes those who are waiting for infamy, and grants them essentially “free reign”. We then seem baffled by their behavior but unable to contain them. History records the results. And with the assistance of the media, a Cult of Personality emerges.

Is it “cause and effect” or the flawed fallacy of “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” (Latin: “after this, therefore because of this”)? In other words, A+B=C. This may be loosely true.  We may have “created” the “present” by our past actions. Think about the last X years; political gridlock, very little momentum and a feeling of insincerity and disconnect by the people towards the politicians. For whatever reason, we seemed to stall; enter, Donald Trump, the anti-politician and well, here we are.

I am haunted by the words of George Santayana; “those who do not remember the past, are doomed to repeat it”.

To be clear, it is not my intention, in any way, to suggest that George Patton, Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler share any similarities, other than they each possess(ed) a position of great influence over the lives of the people they represent(ed) and they each emerged at the exact time in history when their “talents” were a perfect match to the environment they occupied.

I believe President Trump exists not only because he was elected, but because we also created the ideal environment for him to thrive. The vacuum is filled by those who are the most capable. Those who, left unchecked, would be king. We, the people, created the environment for him to flourish and he is doing exactly what he was meant to do. Good or bad, it is now his time and place in history.

In the end, history judges us all. Who will be our next villain, savior or king? The answer lies within the problems that we (humanity) create and who among us waits, undiscovered, to release their full potential and claim their place in history, be it good, bad or indifferent; unfortunately though, we usually “reap what we sow”.




Opinions, Writing

Mark Twain Offers A Few Thoughts On Humanity

I felt that this “story” from Mark Twain was an appropriate addition to my earlier article “We’re acting like animals?”


“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal… In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.
Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh–not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2004.

Opinions, Writing

Humanity, Violence and The Serengeti

Like many others, I’m struggling with the “why” regarding the recent shooting in Las Vegas.  Why did he do it?  Was he crazy, angry, frustrated or all/none of the above?  Was there a latent issue, perhaps a medical condition that caused him to take this action?  The general consensus, at this point, is that he was “crazy”.  He must have been, right?  The current evidence suggests that from the window of a hotel he shot and killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more.  Does that act alone define one as “crazy”?  Be careful here, there are many documented cases of military snipers who have each shot and killed at least as many people or more.  Most are described as heroes of their respective countries and the word “crazy” is absent from their biographies.  Aside from their military feats, most were considered to be “normal people”.

The Las Vegas shooter’s life history has been placed under a microscope as law enforcement searches for a reason, the “why”.  We, the people, need an adjective to separate him from “us”.  We need some reason: he was crazy, he was angry and frustrated, he was…, something that we, the “normal people”, are not.  He needs a label and law enforcement seems desperate to apply one.  As of now, his life appeared to be “normal”.  To the rest of us, that is terrifying and unacceptable.  He needs to be labeled, and soon.  To think that all of us “normal people” could be capable of this behavior is “not normal”.

What is “crazy”, what is “normal” and who or what decides the definitions?

Merriam-Webster.com defines the word “crazy” as “1. a: full of cracks or flaws, unsound b: crooked, askew 2. a: not mentally sound: marked by thought or action that lacks reason.  It continues in subcategories using words like “insane, impractical, erratic and unusual” and so on.

Normal is defined as “2. a: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule or principle. b: conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern. 3. occurring naturally. 4. a: of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development b: free from mental illness: mentally sound” and so on.

The common theme here is “mentally sound”; the word “crazy” suggesting that you’re not and the word “normal” suggesting that you are.  The dictionary defines “mentally sound” as “normal, sane”.

I suggest that the term “normal” is subjective.  Is it East coast normal, West coast normal, European, African, Russian or Iraq normal?  Talk about a broad spectrum!  I honestly have no idea if I’m even “normal”.  I’m reasonably sure that I’m not crazy, at least not normally.

Law Enforcement will keep digging and I’m quite certain that labels will be found and added.  We can then go back to feeling secure in the knowledge that he was different from us and definitely “not normal”.  I say that of course with a wink and a smile.

We can add all of the labels that we want and separate all of the people who, by their acts, are “different” than us.  But the sad reality is that we, the “normal people”, are really “not that normal” and are capable of anything and everything.  “Normal” people have had to go off to war and for a myriad of reasons, take human lives.  Some people have supported the death penalty and abortion, while others have not.  Death has been our constant companion throughout human history, always familiar and never far away, yet we still seem surprised when it occurs naturally and shocked when it is by our own hand or the hand of another.

I’m not suggesting that the shooter in Las Vegas should be pitied or his actions tolerated.  But, I am suggesting that we stop trying to always find excuses to separate “these” people from ourselves.  The reality is, they are us, an ugly reminder of what we are capable of as humans.  It would be nice to move forward as a species, to become less violent, but our track record suggests otherwise and morality cannot be legislated.  Aggression seems to be our default setting, being held in check only by a greater fear of punishment through the enforcement of laws and their subsequent penalties.  In other words, we don’t generally behave because we want to, we behave because we don’t like discomfort.

It’s the Serengeti out there and we’re nowhere near the top of the food chain.  We need to accept this as our reality, act accordingly and hope that evolution will move us in a peaceful direction.  To quote John Young, “If you want to see an endangered species, get up and look in the mirror”.