Flag or Idol Worship?

Sometimes I wonder what branch of the military holds the flag to more reverence? Having served in the Navy, I tend to believe the level of traditions there may have a long history of Flag and Colors ceremonies.

My indoctrination to Flag worship was in kindergarten. I remember we had to stand up every morning at 8am, put our right hand over our hearts and say the pledge. Not that we really understood what it meant or why, but it was something that brought us together.

I remember looking at a full length mirror in Mrs Schultz class, and next to the mirror was a photo of Then President Ford. It had a caption that said “Our President”. I don’t know if we spend much time these days trying to instill pride and patriotism into our posterities? And I don’t believe that pride in one’s country is a bad thing to have at all.

But let’s go down a path of conversation for just a moment. The problem with the pledge, is the idea that we pledge to the flag and the flag is first and foremost. Not only that, people won’t say the pledge unless there is a flag in the room, and then, they must turn and face the flag. Excuse me, but I think we are out of control with this level of protocol.

This reminds me of the Story of Abraham and the idols. Maybe you’ve heard it. Abraham is at his father’s idol store where he sells all sorts of great idols, big ones, little ones, etc. His father says, I have to go please mind the store while I’m gone. Abraham already rationalized that there was nothing to these idols, they were just stone statues. He began to destroy all of the idols, except a little one that he placed in the center of the store. When is father came back, he was angry, what did you do to the idols, he demanded to know.

Abraham replied, while you were gone the big idols made fun of the small idol and the small idol smited all the large idols. And from that point Abraham was on the run.

The point is, people know these things aren’t real, and yet they still put their minds to focus on them.

But there is another story I want to tell, and it comes from the Movie, the Frisco Kid, staring Gene Wilder (Avram) and Harrison Ford (Tommy).

Gene Wilder plays a Rabbi traveling from Europe to San Fransisco. On his way he is befriended by a Robber turned friend, played by Ford.

There is a scene where Wilder seemingly makes a choice between saving his friend and saving the Torah. Later this conversation transpired:

Avram: I told you that I can’t be a rabbi.

Tommy: [Tommy hurls a piece of bread at him] Don’t you tell me that. Just don’t say that again. Not after what I’ve been through to get your goddamn ass here alive. If you hadn’t have shot that man, then we’d both be dead. Do you understand that, you ignorant asshole? You do understand that? He was gonna kill you and then he was gonna kill me, am I right? When you shot that son of a bitch, that was not a sin. Then what the hell are we talking about?

Avram: When those men were shooting at you, I ran to save the Torah.

Tommy: So? I understand that. You’re a man of God. I understand that.

Avram: I wasn’t thinking about God. I didn’t do it because of God. I don’t know one thing about God. I was thinking about a book. I cared more for a book than I did for my best friend. I don’t know if you can understand that. I don’t want to insult you. But do you understand what I mean? I chose a piece of paper instead of you!

When we start worshipping things, important as they may seem, over loving our fellow man, we lose every time.

Religions all put people above things and idolatry. Yet this flag obsession is love of country. And it has turned neighbors against neighbor. It has become a golden calf of a new generation instead of the symbol of hope and freedom. Let’s restore it’s true meaning and give it the dignity that it should get without making it something it is not.

Let’s talk Rights

Everyone is up in arms over the Bend the knee and NFL controversy. And while I am a supporter of the players, I do believe that employers have certain fundamental rights as well.

When you work for a company, they expect that you will behave in a certain way. When you wear their uniform or represent them, you represent their brand.

NFL players ultimately have to show their allegiance to the NFL. If the rules say you can’t put a sticker on your helmet, or whatever they have that doesn’t violate labor law, you have to comply. Failure to do so may result in consequences for your actions.

The NFL has taken a position that they respect the rights of players, and will allow them to use that time to make a quiet protest. There are lots of arguments for and against the league making the stand, from a boycott from players or fans.

Ultimately, companies make decisions based on dollars. If the fans abandon the NFL, maybe the league will change the rules. If this was a one time protest, maybe nothing will happen.

But my point is that we have these rights. You have the right to be offended. And people have the right to protest. You can debate the forum. But the NFL has granted the forum, so the debate is over.

You now can choose the consequences. You can choose not to watch or you can agree with the players,

Something must be really important for a person to potentially throw away a career over a belief. Think about it for a moment.

Flags and Statues

There seems to be confusion in the country about what we fight for.

A Sailor/Solider’s oath, which is also similar to other government officials is:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed …

I don’t see anywhere where it says, I will defend a Flag or Statue. It says defend the Constitution. It says that I will stay true to the constitution and protect it.

Yes, Military members are respectful to the Flag, but it is not because they swore an oath to defend the flag.

I do not worship a flag, or statue. I protect ideals. It’s time to stop hiding behind some made up version of patriotism that’s only purpose is to keep a segment of society down, or so you can carry a gun, or whatever special single minded thing you’re interested in.

There is nothing in the constitution that refers to the Flag.

There are so few that have served in the Military, and so many who act as if they would actually serve, it is ridiculous. So armchair patriots, go to your nearest recruiting office while you have the chance, and sign up and defend something, and maybe, just maybe you’ll understand it’s about things like, the citizens of this great country. It’s about the deep history of the people who died defending freedom and the constitution, and the things in those documents. It’s about honor, courage and commitment.

Spare me your first world problems

I just survived hurricane Irma, held up in a house less than 50 miles from the eye, with 80+ mile and hour winds and tornado warnings going off all night. I lost power, water, and gasp internet and cable. But I had cell coverage the entire time.

So within a week, services have been restored. I didn’t have much damage at my place and my building (I live in a condo) didn’t have any problems at all. So now I’m seeing on different social media sites people talking about, spare me your first world problems. Poor baby, you lost power for a week. Look at the people in the Caribbean who lost their whole island, or the Florida Keys, who will take years to recover, or Texas which had severe flooding and loss of homes.

I don’t think that not being able to flush a toilet and live in sanitary conditions is a “first world” problem. Having electricity is not a first world problem. It’s a human problem.

Some people say, it’s no different than camping, so suck it up buttercup. But let’s face it, people prepare to go camping and camping is supposed to be fun, and you can go home anytime. First world problems.

Now I am not saying that others don’t have it bad out there. Even where I live, people have lost roofs, been without power and still are without power. Some people rely on the Internet to do their job, and they are disconnected from making a living. People can say they are lucky to be alive. I agree we are, but having amenities and expectations for them doesn’t make you a bad person. And it doesn’t make you a bad person to complain about not being able to flush a toilet.

Here is a map of the Earth at night provided by NASA. Where the lights are on, you can be sure you are looking at the first world. People have electricity, civilization, running water, sanitation.

Natural disasters happen. It can be an earthquake, look at Mexico recently, or rising flood waters in the midwest, or draughts in deserts, or blizzards. They happen, and the human race adapts and overcomes. But it doesn’t mean we just live with it. If we take that approach, things will never get better, and lives will never improve.

Thank goodness for first world problems. Yes I am fortunate to have them, but I would hope the whole world has the basic needs.

But what really are first world problems?

It’s a pair of designer jeans, it’s not being able to buy the newest iPhone, or owning a BMW, or only drinking bottled water, or your favorite restaurant isn’t open, and you didn’t have Starbucks coffee.

But when people complain about not having water, power, or a way to communicate, that’s just world problems, and it’s no joke.

So let’s stop saying that because you don’t have it as bad as the next guy, that you are just experiencing first world problems, because basic needs are human problems.

A Floridian Speaks about Hurricane Survival.

A friend posted this on FB, but the current origin is unknown.

Dear Non-Floridians,

Rules when discussing the hurricane with Floridians need to be put in place- and I have elected myself to make the rules. I held a fair election and I won by a unanimous vote.

1) Calling people who don’t evacuate “idiots” or saying “they deserve what happens to them” is a judgement statement that without facts, you are not qualified to make.

2) Just go get a plane ticket! (You can’t just fly out.) Don’t make statements or give advice on how we should evacuate. You don’t have the slightest knowledge of what we are up against. There are challenges to leaving. Flights out are being changed, cancelled, delayed. Tickets are $2-3,000 higher than they normally are and that’s one way.

3) Don’t say “Get in your car and drive fast out” A) Gas stations are getting fuel still, but that fuel is gone before the lines are empty.

B. ) There is no driving fast. Cars are moving 5-7 mph on highways trying to get to safety. The lines are long and imagine, with a gas shortage, being stuck on highways in jams for 12-15 hours.

4) Florida has one way out, and that is through the top (Northern) part of the state. There are basically 2 major roads out. Those roads are jammed, backed up, and not expected to change.

5) To post “Florida is about to be wiped off the map” because you are watching the news reports and panicking from 3,000 miles away- is not the most uplifting thing for us to see. Plus, don’t speak your devastation to us. Be positive!

6) “If I lived in Florida, I would have evacuated a week ago.” Well I’m not so sure that you would have. It’s not that simple if you have a heart…not only that, you don’t know until the final days which path the storm is going to take. Homes have to be boarded up. Things have to be done to ensure that if you do leave, you have somewhere to return.

7) Stop saying God is angry and that’s why Texas went through what Texas went through and that Florida is being hit. God isn’t angry. Every person in the path of destruction was created in His image. Every person not in the path of destruction was created in His image. He is not angry. He is not judging us. He is not putting His wrath down. If you believe that, we don’t serve the same God.

8.) “Go to a safer part of the state.” Yes, we thought of that. No one knows exactly what part that is. If Irma takes a turn it could hit the west coast- if we are all fleeing to the west coast because it says the east coast is the most dangerous, then that could be costly. We know what we need to do and we are monitoring the situation.

Feel Free to pray for us!

Feel Free to check on us, text us, call us. But, don’t text your fears of our demise. Don’t call us crying because you are scared for us.

We have a storm to conquer and we need to be healthy, mentally and physically.

When your son or daughter or friend gets ready to go play in a competitive sport … before the game, do you call them and say ….

“you are going to lose”

“don’t show up for the game”

“The odds are against you”

I would hope not… well we are preparing to overcome this storm. Send us some prayers and encouragement! We welcome it! If you are going to do anything less than that, turn your TV or radio off and keep your mouth shut!

God bless all, stay safe, love and help your neighbors.

Texas, in your desperate hour, where will you turn?

I remember the first time I really saw a TV preacher. Living in Los Angeles there were plenty of them on the UHF channel. But then I saw the movie Oh God! Starring George Burns. Paul Sorvino played a preacher who didn’t believe that God was talking to the John Denver character. Of course George Burns as God does all sorts of great conversation and leaves everybody thinking that the religious folks don’t really have as much faith in people or God as one might think. And as a little kid watching the show that has always been my go to thought of a TV preacher. It’s funny because many of the TV preachers talk very similar to the way Paul Sorvino did in that movie.

https://youtu.be/rzIs51GUVgg

For the most part I think that the best religion is the faith in your own community with people that you know. So many small ministries, synagogues, mosques go out of their way to help their communities in times of need in crisis. The people who run these organizations are unknown and unsung heroes. They certainly do not do it for the fame or glory they just do it because it’s the right thing to do.

 

It won’t be long before we forget about the fact that some guy in Houston who is known for being the mattress king, opened up his stores to provide shelter for as many people as he could hold in his establishments. You certainly don’t have to have religion to help people.

 

I think people wonder that when they are at their most desperate time of need who will be there for them? People turn to the government and they definitely turn to their faith.

 

During this hurricane that ravaged the south east of Texas, there of been amazing people who have stepped up and done wonderful things to help save people. There will be thousands of stories of bravery and selfless humanity that will come out of this tragedy. Unfortunately the story of the TV preacher will not be one of them.

The Side of History

America has for the most part been on the progressive side of history. We have fought against tyranny and we have won. But never before have we seen such a weak response to hate and violence than from the President of the US as we have in this time of upheaval.

I take a stand right! I do not tolerate, hate and violence. Racism has no place in America or anywhere.

Taking a stand against white supremacist and their kind should be as easy as taking a stand against any other kind of terrorism. If you can not see it for what it is, then you may need to look inside yourself.

I think the hardest thing to realize is how many people I know that share this racist view. This “heritage not hate” philosophy needs to change. That war is over. If we haven’t healed and moved on from the civil war, we have big problems.

But the Civil War is a red herring to white supremacy/hate groups. They hide behind that to put forward the notion that whites are being attacked.

This is about Power and Pecking order. It always has been about being afraid, it’s about a class war. See http://www.aei.org/publication/a-class-war/

That article comes from the right leaning America Enterprise Institute.

But in the end as Prager University explains, Slavery ultimately is the reason for the civil war. https://www.prageru.com/courses/history/was-civil-war-about-slavery

I think when you put it in context and research the history, this is not something anyone should embrace as their heritage. There is a lot of great things about the south that is heritage, but slavery and the civil war isn’t one of them.

Take a stand today, be a proud American, not a confederate.

Three Talk Love

She (Sarah), him (Joel) and her (Paula) sat having coffee, talking love.

"You don't know what love is." Sarah said.

"What is love? Actions or feeling?" Replied Joel.

"That is this the question isn't it? How you feel and what you express. They are different. Two separate aspects, both part of love."

Joel suggest, "Puppy love is probably the purest love there is. We may think it is not a mature love, but what other love comes upon another so pure?"

"Joel, you and your puppies!" Cried Paula.

"Well it's true!"

"It's true that you can't stop loving someone." Said Sarah.

"What IS true, is that love stays in my heart forever. "

"Even with an Ex?" Sarah retorted.

"Do you love your kids any less when they disappoint you? Hurt you? Love changes. Sarah maybe you refer to passion. Even marriages can have reduced fire, even if two people love each other. Sometimes roads traveled with another create a bond. Is that bond love? I guess if you choose to bind yourself to the relationship."

Joel paused a moment and then said, "What about you two? Every man is told that women are attracted to power and money. "

Sarah was first to speak, "Sure, money, power, if I'm a whore that can be bought. Men who see themselves as a reflection of their wallet and the women who follow after that are both quite shallow."

Paula followed up, "I agree, but you can love someone who can't provide. If you see your life with someone, long term, that money is a reflection of drive. It's the man's outward expression of his care. Because we worry about taking care of things like a roof over our head."

"But isn't that putting the cart before the horse?" Joel asked.

"Why invest time in a man who will never be a man?" Paula said.

"Why not look to see what is in a man's heart and nurture that? Can you see the value in something before you squeeze that value out?" Joel pressed Paula.

Sarah said, "Love is love. And you love who you love. Joel, you know that. People marry for lots of logical reasons, and Paula, sure, both men and women do that. But we were talking about Love. In its purest sense, two people can make it work, if that's what they want. It's all that logic that usually fucks things up."

Joel said, "I don't really know why I have loved who I've loved. But I have to admit, I do believe in love at first site. I know within an instant of walking in a room and hearing a woman's voice, seeing her smile, just watching her way…. I know if there is an attraction."

"And does that ever change? Because you guys can look at a naked woman and be aroused." Said Paula.

"Maybe, when you're 12! You two act as if fucking and love are the same thing. I assure you I mean that when I see a particular woman that I am attracted to, I just know. It's like magical chemistry. Come on, Sarah, tell me it isn't the same for you."

"It's generally not the same. I hangout with a guy and then after some time, it hits me, he's what I'm looking for. Maybe because I want to make sure that he's not just trying to weasel his weasel. Ha ha!"

"Well Sarah, I don't have a problem meeting a guy I find attractive and getting busy with him, if I find him attractive. But it's on my terms." Said Paula.

"Well you ladies are complicated. Love is complicated. But I guess the truth is we all have different thoughts, and see things in different ways. Probably won't get to the bottom of this tonight… who's up for shots!"

48 today

Here I am with my annual blog post to celebrate my journey around the sun.
As I reflect, 47 was a pretty banner year in my world.

  • Completed my Masters Degree
  • Organized a High School Reunion
  • Organized a 5K Race as a director
  • Served on community boards.

Then last week I almost met my own end with a pretty bad illness. While maybe I just thought of it as a bad sore throat, I have been repeatedly told how lucky I am to be alive. And that has not fallen on deaf ears at all.

So what else have I learned in a year? What to remind myself each year as time goes by?

I know that what I want to bring to any friendship, any relationship, is the additive. Let me part of enriching your life. There is no need for completing someone. I know this lesson well. It's the same story of the missing piece meeting the Big O.

Let's roll together, because we roll well. It's not about needs or wants. I have so few of those. But it is nice sometimes to roll with someone who wants to roll in your direction.

Everyone has different dreams. They don't have to be the same in order to find people who add to your life. They just have to keep supporting you on your journey. Those are the precious and special ones that I want around me. Nothing better than someone who challenges you a little and loves you a lot. And does so for no other reason than you make them smile.

So here at 48, I don't worry about anything, because after last week, I realize that I am iron and I am dust. We think we are forever and in an instant we can be gone. So say the I love you's, smile at everyone, and be glad to be alive. We are so lucky to be.

Sending love to you, universe! Because you get what you give, or so I'm lead to believe.

Love! ❤️

Being Sick

I think we've all been sick at some point in our lives. A cold, maybe something serious, like a pain that gets managed and results in surgery. But recently I was really sick, and it has been a moment I'm not sure I'm even recovered from.

You go through moments in your life that make you wonder what things are all about. It rocks you to the core of your mortality.

I sometimes forget that I'm just human. Just a guy trying to make it through each day, working, exercising, and doing the normal things.
I wonder though, what is it all for? I'm not married, I don't have a girlfriend, no kids, pets, plants, or anything that really relies on me.
I was in the ER and they told me they couldn't keep me at the hospital I was in, and I would have to go to a bigger one. The pain was unbearable and I didn't care, just needed relief. And it was in that moment, I thought about, who do I matter to? I could die right here tonight, and really, I would just be a footnote in a page of life. Sure my Mom would care, I thought, but at that moment my life flashed before my eyes.

I have a lot of friends, and I am grateful beyond words for them all.

I posted on Facebook to let people know I was sick. I knew when I posted, it could be my last post for a while, but fortunately it wasn't. I didn't have any answers to what was happening yet, but I felt I needed to communicate. I didn't have anyone to speak for me. And I worried at the same time that I was coming across as someone seeking sympathy, when I wasn't. Just someone telling my friends that I'm in bad shape. And people realized that fact quickly.

The outpouring of support was amazing, knowing that my friends have my back was just the best feeling as I went through the process.

I was offered rides home from the hospital, food and whatever I needed. So many great people that I'm lucky to have in my life.

And while I lament a life being alone, the takeaway is that you are not really alone if you don't want to be. We choose to isolate ourselves. We choose to protect our identity from our friends at times thinking that we don't want to be a bother. We think why would we push ourselves on people like that.

The people who are in your life that are your friends will be there and stand by you. Support comes in many different ways, so don't expect everyone to act or react the same. But in the end, your friends will be there.