Archive for the 'media' Category

04
Oct
11

Frail Honor, the Most Dangerous Kind

Well THIS is not what I wanted to write about. But there it is, Freshly Pressed, all about the protest on Wall Street and the virtue of the down trodden. Our future is in a lot of trouble. Seeing all these young Americans out in the cold to support their cause reminds me of an accidental moment of clarity I experienced in high school. It was Veteran’s Day, and instead of enjoying our new snow, I was sitting in English Lit. I’m pretty patriotic, so I had the thought that reading Lawrence Furlenghetti may not be the best way to honor our precious vets. I stood up and mentioned to the class how our time spent studying poetry was indeed undermining the sacrifices made by generations of veterans. Within minutes the tempera paint and posterboard were pilfered from the art room and we had some respectable signs. We paraded through the halls and quickly gathered a following that represented the ENTIRE school. Every student left class to support the Veteran’s Day cause. There we were, in the falling snow, on the side of the highway drinking hot chocolate and shouting something about freedom and sacrifice. The media was there within the hour and we clambered for their attention as they expounded on our devout patriotism.

Obviously, we were all lying. But the question is, were we lying to the media and our teachers? Or were we lying to ourselves? In that moment, every one of us was convinced that it was our teenage duty to honor the veterans. I was a little proud of my act of rebellion. As a teen, I was NOT rebellious and this would go a long way toward redeeming my straight-laced reputation. However, the pride was tinged with a nameless fear. I knew very well that the only reason the entire school walked out behind me was because they wanted to. I had successfully appealed to their inner-most wishes for a day off and I made it look honorable. At that moment, human nature stripped a layer and I discovered the simplicity of manipulation. Turn a person’s frailty into that which makes him honorable and he will stand for much less than he could be. It is easy to recline in one’s excuses, but so difficult to live up to an expectation.

Now, I see these protesters on Wall Street and all over the country, youth who were traded honor for mediocrity, and I am sad for our future. I would like a youth that is prepared to rise up and embrace the challenges ahead, enjoy the freedom of our new found globalism, and spread a better way of life to the truly downtrodden masses (not the ones being fed organic veggies and pasta in the street). Unfortunately, what sleeps on Wall Street right now is only bringing this nation further into despair. With it goes the hope that would bring prosperity to those who need it most.

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17
Jan
11

Soul Force – Lest We Forget a Great Man

“As my wonderful wife @Rep_Giffords continues to make progress, let us all pause and reflect on this MLK day,” Tweet from Mark Kelly.

The words themselves are not profound, but they are well-timed. The wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. is exactly what this country needs right now. Perhaps tensions were somewhat cooled by the holidays, but as gas prices, food prices, health care prices, and interest rates rise this spring, we are bound to find ourselves suspended in revolutionary tension once again. As with any unspeakable tragedy, there are lessons to be taken from January 8th, lessons that meld beautifully with MLK’s legacy, if only we take notice.

Martin Luther King led a revolution. This nation is forever changed for the better, thanks to his leadership. As a rule, change without violence happens slowly. Without his peaceful example, it could have taken decades to recognize the human cost of racism and segregation. For years, we could have suffered the damage wrought by an oppressed population as the nation crumbled economically and spiritually. With the competing Black Panther movement of the day, there may have been widespread bloodshed, leading to fear and desperation. Desperation takes hold when mankind is rent of the unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Believe in The Almighty or not, it is accepted wisdom that a man threatened by captivity is a dangerous man. Freedom is a gift straight from the Lord, the gift of freewill. History shows that men will more easily lay down their lives for freedom than any other force.

The human desire for freedom is the beast to appease. That which gives strength to fight to the death is also the greatest weakness. Every infamous leader has understood the precious weight of freedom, and the ability or inability of the citizens to carry such weight. Do Americans still have the stamina to uphold this? Jared Loughner, like Timothy McVeigh and even King’s assassin James Earl Ray, was convinced he would protect freedom, but the violence did nothing but impede his cause. Every time someone abuses his rights in the name of preserving freedom, freedom is compromised.

As in Martin Luther King, Jr’s time, I believe the US stands precariously. We are threatened by economic and social challenges as the world around us changes more quickly than we can react. Our superpower status has been eroded and will continue to do so unless we can unite under an ideology of greatness. As we talk about our fight for freedom, we should understand that the way to freedom was paved for us. Centuries of sons were lost on battlefields to accomplish the conditions under which a nation like ours could be founded. The United States carries a mantle to protect these conditions, to ensure that people can live, trade, and thrive freely throughout the world. We need to protect our economic prowess by reigning in spending and we need to be peacekeepers.
Finally, we must define greatness. It is obvious that we have forgotten the meaning. Greatness is that which allows us to be free – it is strength, courage, justice, and the responsibility to uphold these virtues even above personal interest.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave us a legacy that possibly sustained us as a nation. He gave us this: “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline… Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

12
Sep
10

The Most Dangerous Weapon

Freedom of speech was supposed to protect citizens against an overgrown and biased press. There is a lively debate over just how free our press is right now, and I hold that the free press is easily found, but must be pursued. Unfortunately, the press that is offered without pursuit is beholden to ratings and being able to provide desirable interviews, and is much less free than it should be. The free press has eloped with our government.

The marriage of our popular media and our government has replaced our ability, or, more aptly, our desire for objective thought. For every issue that arises, there are 27 pundits to tell us what to think about it and how to react. The daily news covers portions of stories, leaving us shocked with every detail that a decent pundit can reveal, and, therefore, use to earn trust.

This is almost a useful service in our busy world. Except for one huge detail. Virtue. Our politicized media tells us to be virtuous but fails to define the standard. There is none. Those who tell us how to think, to feel, and to spend, bully us into a belief system of charity and guilt but they refuse to stand up and define the solution. They fail to stand on an absolute, yet they ask us to stake our livelihood on their wavering expertise.

Ayn Rand says that the most dangerous man is one who uses pity as a weapon. Stop. Think. Have truer words been spoken? Think of how we all felt when the stimulus package passed. Think of the way we were told to consider healthcare. Remember the pleas of the sick, the emotion involved in this nation-altering decision.

I challenge the media to define virtue before they ask us to be virtuous. In fact, I’ll supply the definition, then they need only stand by it. Virtue lies in the protection of human rights at any cost. Equal rights belong to the rich and the poor, to every race, creed, and gender. Make no mistake; this is not an endorsement of furthering our welfare state. The problem with Marxist theory is that “from everyone according to his ability, to everyone according to his need” requires mere humans to define ability and to define need. Invariably, the definition of need expands as the definition of ability contracts. It’s a slope of destructive enabling that panders to human whim. If we are to settle on such a standard, will we recognize the men and women worthy of ruling, those who are willing to offer definitions blindly and uphold them with the same impartiality? I highly doubt it. Impartial virtue has been labelled cruel, or unfair. And nobody is willing to wear such a title. Rather, we compromise. We compromise all that is good in the name of virtue and we are left with a welfare state that corrodes such virtue.

01
Aug
10

Last weekend, I traded my fresh cut suburban paradise for a moonlit forest high up in the mountains. When I arrived at the campsite my family had set up, it was dark and all I was aware of was moonlight and a crowd of very concerned loved ones (we spent two hours lost in the forest on the way). Morning unveiled a spectacular view of rocky peaks jutting up over the treeline and reflecting in the lake below. It unveiled something else, too, something unexpected.

Freedom.

After years of wondering why anyone would leave the security of paved roads, stoplights, and Target just to get dirty in the woods and sleep on the ground, understanding settled around me like Superman’s cape. Up here, there were no cellular towers (something we rued the night before as we wandered over miles of backroads). I didn’t wear a watch. I didn’t bring any make up, and in the interest of keeping warm, my clothes were mismatched. My dog was off a leash and my children were exploring the wilds of the forest. There were no child molesters to worry about, no schedules to keep, and, in the greatest paradigm shift I have experienced, there were no social standards to maintain – nobody to impress. For these moments, I had no persona to maintain, but plenty of time to ponder the person I wished to be.

Looking over the quiet of the morning lake, I fantasized about building a cabin with all the beetlekill pine. By hand. I would piece business suits and cocktail dresses into quilts and curtains. I would start a small garden, then grow it into something bigger until we had gourmet meals cooked on the open fire. The children would learn all they needed right by my side. I would never be beholden to anyone or anything. This only lasted until the coffee kicked in. I wonder how many regrettable decisions were made pre-coffee?

I hate it when people say that we don’t actually live in a free country anymore. Americans enjoy freedoms that others don’t even have the privilege to fathom. However, there is truth to the statement. Free will was bestowed upon us by our Creator. For just one moment, contemplate the implications of this. It is this very will that gives us the power to doubt, that drives us to find our own answers, that pulls us away from faith and strips our need for trust.

Yet, it is this gift of the will that completes the Creation as we become ourselves. We choose our beliefs, our ideals, and our priorities. Then we guide our lives accordingly. But with what compromise? That is when priorities become the issue. By the time I finished that contemplative cup of coffee, I was not just willing, but anxious to apply make-up, put on uncomfortable shoes, shove my lower half into pantyhose, and and run under the crack of a gun just to have running water complete with privacy.

Free will, properly regarded, is that which makes us great. It separates us from the animals and even from the angels. But we often fail to regard. We were given a perfect, Godly gift, but we are human and The Gift was brought down to us. While the human spirit is great, humanity is not. Humanity is guided by the physical and the physical bears limitation. In the years since the founding of this nation, we have seen the human spirit thrive. In a mere 500 years, this land has gone from savage to productive and wildly developed because of the spirit of greatness. We can travel the globe in a matter of hours and can have the world at our fingertips in a matter of seconds. Untold fortunes are made and lost each day from ingenuity, hard work, or greed. Is the great fortune our great failing? This is where spirit meets physical. An ability to do the great things of our imagination shrouded in responsibility and stewardship. What is the cost for amassing such fortune? How many compromises are struck each day as a man says the end justifies the means? Every compromise erodes greatness and yet, because of this society we have built, success is not possible without compromise. We have compromised greatness for that which we already know and in so doing, we have redefined success to fit a media mold. We forget to follow the pursuits of imagination because we believe we know what is beautiful and we have disguised success as such.

Today, we reap the rewards of all that has been sown. Every plan is laid with a plan B close behind as we anticipate failure along the way. Athletes, once national heroes, are in no way great. World leaders fail us daily, constantly. Business men are not moral pillars. We accept this and account for it in our daily lives, making our own plan B. Then we forget the failure and compromise the standard, which lowers yet again. We compromise for comfort, for success, for a future that grows more bleak.

We know what is great. Instinctively, looking over that lake, I momentarily glimpsed the true freedom that bore such enterprise, the very enterprise that has shackled us since. The time has come to stop settling. We can no longer excuse those who force us to compromise for their agenda. We must strive for greatness and forget Plan B.

17
Oct
09

Furthermore…

I can’t let it go. In my previous post, “Use Your Words,” I veered from the point I wanted to make. Thankfully, this can be said quickly, in 300 words or less.

The name calling and general disregard has escalated over the past year. I really think it has a lot to do with social media. We can post any vitriol we want, forgetting the implication when a loved one reads it later. I certainly am guilty of this. Frankly, though, I hate the names, particularly “breeder.” Well, I really hate being called a racist because I don’t agree with Obama’s policies. From the bottom of my soul I can say that I am completely unfazed by his skin color. It is offensive to me that people I have known for many years would take such distaste down to something so shallow and disregard anything I have to say about the actual policies in question.

Regarding the namecalling, though. We have hate crime legislation on the books and anti-discrimination policies. In the workplace we all sit through diversity training. To me, all of this points to one conclusion. If we could simply behave ourselves, would any of this be necessary? Do we really have to be visited by a consultant in the work-place to ensure we don’t use offensive references? The lack of civility in our culture is distressing. The citizenry cannot be counted on to behave in public and we continue to defend such behavior. When Kanye or Letterman commit a gaffe, people are rushing to their defense, justifying it for whatever reason. Whether or not we agree on the issues, it would be helpful if we could agree on conduct. Playground rules reign supreme – share, don’t call each other names, no hitting, and take turns. If we could just abide each other the way we did when we were five, the government may be able to step back into its appropriate place.

17
Oct
09

Use Your Words!

Birther, Becker, Rushian, Becker-Head, Breeder, Bigot, Racist, Closed-minded, Hater, Greedy, Uncompassionate, Hypocrite, Deluded, Homophobe…Just a few names being tossed around the blogosphere lately in reference to the conservative movement. I have seen some of these in actual news articles, and I have even seen some arise in a judge’s decision (see Judge Land’s verbal levelling of Orly Taitz. Professional?). Yep. There are some naughty conservatives, too. I heard from a dear friend of mine that his sweet mother was SPIT on while campaigning for Obama. It was a shocking revelation to me as I have never been mistreated by a fellow conservative. I truly believed that we were above such mean and unproductive tactics but I’m guessing those on the other side would say the same thing.

So, we all have to accept some responsibility, but personally I try to abstain from name-calling. Many liberals are my friends, family, and even their mothers – real people I don’t want to hurt. Still, I slip from time to time. Judging from the vast world of social media, we are all slipping. When we were little, our parents told us to use our words and we have practiced ever since, sharpening these verbal skills into a weapon that would divide a nation. The rhetoric and sound bites divide us, fostering distrust and even hatred that sometimes threatens to turn violent. And yet, we continue to use our words. Words are thrown around in our culture without too much thought to their impact. The impact is that we cannot have an honest debate about important issues because both sides are shielded by rhetoric.

It’s dangerous ground. Each day, our way of life is threatened and we citizens are powerless against the tide of politicians. We are fed questionable facts but debate is stifled by fears of being called bigoted, hateful, or worse. Take, for example, the emergence of HIV in the early ’80’s. It didn’t take too long to determine that the disease was sexually transmitted and was spreading most rapidly among homosexual men. The transmission among this demographic was not specifically due to homosexuality, but to promiscuity. The cases were first isolated to San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Officials like Harvey Milk and his supporters tried to warn the gay communities about this rising epidemic and were silenced by Gay activist groups like the Stonewall Gay Democratic Club. These groups stated that any admonition against promiscuous gay sex was a statement against the gay lifestyle and they threw such epithets as homophobe, Nazi, and sexual fascist their way. At that time, one in 333 homosexual men in San Francisco had the disease. They were concentrated in the Castro district and promiscuous men in the area could potentially come into into contact with up to ten partners a night, making their odds of contracting the disease 1 in 33. Harvey Milk, Bill Kraus, and Catherine Cusic, all homosexual community leaders tried to get the word out to protect their own, but they were continually brought down. It was political suicide to warn the homosexual community specifically of this potential danger. Unfortunately, Milk gave into political pressure and dropped the issue. Of course, it is difficult to blame him.

At that time, in 1983, there were about 5,000 HIV diagnoses in the US. It was a rare and preventable disease, had anyone heeded the warnings. Today, over 500,000 Americans are living with the disease and another half million have died from it.

Being homosexual himself, I hardly believe that Harvey Milk was trying to be hateful. I don’t really think the man was homophobic, either. And I know he wasn’t calling anyone names. The price our country has paid for his inability to speak out is dear. Now, we have more and more issues of similar import. Unfortunately, the discussion is the same. We have hurled insults across party lines so long that the line between right and wrong, good and bad, is completely blurred and nobody is willing to uncover it for fear of what will be said. The fastest way to stifle a debate is to call someone a racist or hater. But while we throw these ugly words around, lives are being lost. Money is being lost. Our national identity is being lost. We stand to lose an entire generation. Are we really going to let name-calling stand in the way of greatness we were meant for?

13
Sep
09

No Means No

WE DON’T WANT IT!!!!!!!! The first question we HAVE to ask is “why?” We have said no. It is grossly unpopular. Nobody wants it and even my eight-year old can tell it’s not viable. So why is our president so intent on passing THIS health-care legislation? Just today, he said to come and offer an alternative – his “door is always open,” but he followed with a warning. He has no time for people “who think that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it.” He also said he wouldn’t stand by while special interests “use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are.” And he warned, “If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out.”

I’m reading the plan. It’s somewhat hard to represent because it’s all-encompassing yet still ambiguous. And there is no need. Really, we don’t need to debate what’s in the plan. We should be debating why we would have such a plan, regardless of content. This plan HINGES on the government taking over the health care system. It says that it will allow people to maintain existing insurance, but if that insurance terminates, it will not be available to the insured again. He will have to take the government option. There are propsed fines for non-compliance; I believe the fine amounts to 2.5% of income. That is an interesting formula that should give us pause. Nine million of the 30 million who are uninsured CHOOSE to live that way because they are wealthy enough to afford a pay-as-you-go strategy. This is an interesting new way to tax the wealthy. Is this how we are paying for a $900 billion plan after so recently tripling our already insurmountable deficit? Obama looked into a camera six hours ago and said that this plan will not increase our deficit. He promised. ?

My mathematically-challenged brain cannot imagine a way we can offer this plan, pay off every big business and union, and have anything left to fund existing programs. Our tax revenues shrink as unemployment increases, which it is doing so rapidly that the press is reporting “less than expected increases” with giddy optimism. The president cites 6 million Americans losing their health insurance in the last 17 months. True. Because 6 million Americans have lost jobs or benefits, or both in the last 17 months. This will not improve when small businesses are forced to ensure their employees. More Americans will become unemployed, so even more Americans will be accepting the “public option.”

Please, again ask why? It is a beautifully crafted catch-22 in which everyone ends up under the “public option.”

Really, I don’t think it necessary to debate the merits of the bill because it is not sustainable and it is dangerous. When did we begin to trust our governing officials so much that we believe they will take care of our basic comforts when money is on the line? People are calling this an answer to prayer, saying it is the most compassionate solution. Really? Perhaps it is, in this very moment, but what about in five years when the program feels the inherent financial strain? This is a lot of power to give to a group of people only 28 per cent of Americans trust.

I hate to draw likenesses between Obama and Hitler. It is too easy to make a shallow and emotional argument, yet every day it becomes a little more difficult to NOT draw likenesses. Hitler started this way. He was compassionate. He was doing what was best for Germany. He began to exterminate, with the blessing of the populace, the handicapped. He sent them to state-run hospitals where their viability was measured against the resources they consumed. If they were not able to actively contribute to the interest of Germany (in a measurable way), they were systematically murdered. Seventy people a day. The definition of handicapped broadened to elderly, to sickly, and we all know the rest. Really? Do we really believe that there will never again be a government capable of such atrocity? Even now, the curator of a German death camp turned museum says that the men who delivered death to seventy people a day were not insane. Instead, she says, “They had a purpose.”

Purpose. Purpose, at its best, instigates excellence. At its worst, however, purpose is an unspeakable danger. We, as a nation, cannot afford to live under the purpose of government.




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