First up was the oddity that as I looked to see if there was anything to note about the passengers or vehicle passing me, I was surprised to be the recipient of a smile and thumbs up.
For an unknown reason, anytime I suspect that an occupant of another car is communicating to me, my heart skips a beat. I must be on fire, I think.
But, no. That’s not what was happening here. This was some sort of encouragement. But for what?
Was this Iowan so sheltered that my Colorado plates being in Iowa were simply exciting? As in, “Good for you! You got out!!”??
No. That just didn’t make sense. Plenty of people pass through this state.
Hmm. Not on fire. (Confirmed by the fact that another car has passed me–sans attempt to warn me of fire.) Not my foreignness. What could he have seen?
A- was in the backseat reading.
No tablet. No phone. No movie. No video game. Just a boy and a book. Yup. That’s it.
A smile and thumbs up from a stranger passing me on the highway. Why? Because I’m raising a boy right.
Secondly, I saw a bald eagle. It was just lazily riding the waves of the wind. At first I couldn’t be sure that it really was a bald eagle. But as I returned my eyes to the road, I saw a new scene. A blanket of red, white, and blue–47, 48, 49, and, yes, 50 bright stars to boot–warmed the wintry landscape. And I could tell that, even when I wasn’t looking, men and women were constantly sewing and mending this mantle by dim, fading candlelight in one great period of darkness.
Then I was sure of it. It was a bald eagle if ever there was one.
So just how does a pilot, a combat veteran, hero extraordinaire to boot, (and a good smile) motivate himself in these troubled times of doom and gloom? I’ll tell ya.
Firstly, I have an unshakable hope and belief that “good will overcome”. While I must have received this hope from some influential adults as a child, I cannot pin down exactly when or where or who those noble folks were. I’d love to share that I could easily note that they were all Christians, but as you know, the situation is always complicated when it comes to these things. (And, truth be told, for whatever reason, some of the very people I’m trying to cheer up with this post are Christians who see the end of America and subsequently the end of the whole shebang looming on the horizon.) Either way, I’m happy the LORD put these torch-bearers in my life.
Secondly, I motivate myself by doing my best to recognize the problem accurately. This motivates me because once we identify the problem, solutions appear out of nowhere.
There is a problem, make no mistake. But you all are misidentifying it and, more than that, you’re letting others misidentify it for you. You should try to recognize the problem for your own self. It’s quite a ride. But don’t take my word for it. Read on.
The problem is not Trump. The problem is not the Democrats. The problem is not the Squad. The problem is not Islam. The problem is not the climate.
The problem is that we Americans don’t know what to do with our power. In other words, we’re leaderless. We have been for a long time. We’re just going through the motions, hoping no one will bother us.
Additionally, we can still recall what it took to get the power. We can still remember not having the power.
Put another way, I’m talking about the difference between fighting for the top of the mountain, and living atop the mountain.
To be clear, we did marvelous fighting–and for all the right reasons. But now we’re in some sort of bizarre mental depression. I see future historians describing the Great Depression as having two distinct time periods. The first was financial. The second, the longer one, was of the collective mind. That’s where I want to help you. I want to swoop in and fly you out of the depression.
This particular Sunday it occurred to me that I feel (whether accurately or inaccurately) that I fear another nation/tribe/group developing weapons, strategies etc. that could be used to defeat us. IE, bigger bombs, better economies and economic theories, better religions etc. But when I take a Sunday morning to survey the passing scene, I find this to not be indicated anywhere. Instead, I keep seeing 9/11.
I see men, from meaningfully another world, (to say “another planet” would only be slightly misleading, so “another world” must suffice) using our planes against us. I see men using our planes against us. I see “men” using “our” against “us”.
So solution-wise, we’ve hit pay-dirt. Can you feel it? We now know a great deal. We know that a bigger bomb doesn’t defeat or solve “our”. Neither does better engineering defeat “our”. A robust economy doesn’t defeat “our”. A hopeful outlook doesn’t defeat “our”. Even wishful thinking doesn’t defeat “our”.
Good. We’re making progress. We know now that there is no reason to lose hope, that there is every reason to keep excelling–in everything.
Okay. “Our.” What else do we have?
So these aliens snuck one in on us. Minor loss. One battle, not the war. But the way they did it reveals the war. The war is over the Way. It’s not over land. It’s not over oil. It’s not over past sins. It’s not over present sins.
Our enemies are people whose planes we could never use to fly into their buildings–not because of their more diligent TSA equivalents, but because they haven’t invented any planes. Our enemies are people whose books we can’t read–not because they haven’t been translated, but because they haven’t been written. Our enemies are people whose greatest weapon is their neighbor’s 72 year old repeating rifle.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Horrible question. A trap set by the great Satan himself. That question is in no way our problem.
Ok. I’ll grant you it’s interesting to say. So I’ll appease us all and utter it again.
Why haven’t they invented or written?
Why haven’t they invented or written?
I don’t know. I don’t care. You shouldn’t either.
But, returning to reality, I do know that this recognition that they use “our” against “us” motivates me like little else on this day.
Knowing this means that I know that they’re coming. Knowing this means that I know they’re on their way. It means they’re behind me. Knowing this means that I know they wouldn’t know which way to go without me. It means I can, in fact, tell “us” from “them” while looking out my car’s windows on my way to work, all the way to while I watch the international scene unfold on my phone. And it means that I can talk about who they are without the use of political designations or family associations–even in my children’s government mandated safe spaces!
To the enemy I say, “Here you go. I offer this post which contains everything you need to know about my intentions and strategy to defeat you. It’s free for the taking. (On circuit boards powered by lightning storing batteries, neither of which were invented by you!) Take it. As a gift. Because that’s all you seem to be able to do. Take or receive. Never create. Never give.”
To us, I say, “Back to clearing the path. People need to know which way to go.”
To save you time, I went ahead and read the 55-page document for us. (You’re welcome.) The following is the provocative and abridged version. It is, of course, meant to capture the themes and purpose of the original, while avoiding the length. This post also includes my reaction.
To begin, a couple of questions: Do you fear that tyranny is imminent? Does it keep you awake to consider how very near to becoming a monarchy are these United States, King Trump at the helm?
I didn’t think so.
Here’s the rub. Part of the document’s argument for America’s pending transition to tyranny rests on establishing the dual and (if true) symbiotic facts that the President has enormous (but not absolute) power and the House is the singular body of humans who have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility to “rise to the occasion” and impeach President Donald John Trump.
The problem is that this part happens to be the opening part and, as such, is foundational.
This is, unfortunately for its purposes, problematic because it betrays that it has missed the true meaning of Trump’s presidency. The true meaning of Trump’s presidency, being confirmed more and more each and everyday–and according to the House report’s own definition and reasoning—is as We the People’s impeachment of the current batch of United States Senators, Representatives, Justices. And, yes, President Trump’s tenure is our impeachment of the President too, no matter how nonsensical that may sound.
The majority has voted, not for Trump, but for impeachment.
It doesn’t matter who the president is, we say. It doesn’t matter who runs for office, we declare. They’re all corrupt. They’re all liars. They’re all bought and paid for. They’re all mere mouthpieces.
And we’re right. It doesn’t matter who holds public office, at this point. Government, not its citizens, has failed.
But don’t fear. There is no coming tyranny. There is no monarch in the making. Maybe difficult times. Maybe violence. But nothing that the same, age-old virtues, beginning with personal integrity, can’t handle.
To force myself to take a break from weather books and the Bible, I like to head to the bookstore and just pick a fantasy book. During this exercise I use one variable to make my selection–its cover.
The latest cover to jump from the shelf into my hands is Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.
I want to draw attention to one particular element of fantasy that I hitherto had not thought of as fantasy–but should have. This element? The gray. The subtle.
The protagonist girl-child, an “Adept”, is learning the ways of the world from a renegade bachelor prince called Anafiel Delauney. Of this stud she strokes, “I have never known a mind more subtle than that of Anafiel Delauney.”
Right now the American conversation is binary. If you’re Greta, the world is black and white. If you’re Trump, it’s red and blue. There’s capitalist, there’s socialist. There’s rich, there’s not rich. Safe, assaulted. Tolerated…hated? No, that’s not right. Tolerated is squared up against accepted. Yep, that’s the ticket.
Does it have to be this way? Probably. How do I know? Because we fantasize about the gray. We escape to a world where subtle minds are cast as inescapably welcome. Or at least I do.
In my dying breath, that is, if my time with you had been animated with breath of my own and not simply with your imagination, in other words, if I had had a dying breath, then I like to think I would’ve thanked-
What? No! Not the acorn, never! Not that lifeless lump. Why do people always focus on the nut? I’ve always said: The nut is not the meat!
No, no, no. But where was I?
Ah, yes. I remember.
If I could have thanked anyone–call to mind that I am a character of fiction and it is quite impossible for me to offer gratitude in its proper sense–but I’m saying, if I could have, you know, hypothetically, thanked anyone, then I would thank Henny-penny.
She was a rare bird. And without her-
Well, without her, I guess I just wouldn’t have anyone to thank.
Today I went to the funeral of a man whom I wish I had known.
He appeared to have been perpetually tickled while on this side of terra firma, which is to relate that the images presented on screen and the tales told by friends and family alike were not only composed of smiles, but passed on smiles, promoted smiles, and made me smile.
Up until today my main thought about this pilot pertained to the crash and, “Why’d he die?”
Death, however, is so final that after today’s service my main thought is, “The shining sun sure seems brighter today.” Followed by, “I’d sure love to be able to hug H- right now–with a little extra squeeze to boot. Does she know, really know, that she is loved?”
My mind floods, races, rages. It swarms, billows, fills. I imagine, invent, infer. Thoughts appear, linger, fade, and grow. Then the coolness of the last drops of my morning coffee passing over my tongue reminds me that it was all most likely the caffeine and I am merely one mortal making his way along his path.
But, but! For those glorious and intoxicating moments of fullness, I do dream. Here is my dream for today.
I want you to be confident in your belief that Jesus is Lord. And that Scripture, the Bible, is coherent, true, and worth daily study–daily.
Today’s tip is inspired by my own morning study of Isaiah’s words and oracles.
We join Isaiah as he has finished asserting “bad things man, bad things.”
“Give ear and hear my voice, listen and hear my words.
“Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed? Does he continually turn and harrow the ground?
“Does he not level its surface and sow dill and scatter cumin and plant wheat in rows, barely in its place and rye within its area?
“For his god instructs and teaches him properly.
“For dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is the cartwheel driven over cummin; but dill is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a club.
“Grain for bread is crushed, but he does not continue to thresh it forever.
“Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it, he does not thresh it longer.
“This also comes from Yahweh of hosts, who gives wonderful counsel and great wisdom.”
Isaiah uses obvious farming techniques to clarify the fact that Yahweh is doing nothing abnormal, nothing unpredictable, nothing incomprehensible when he relents in time for there to be a remnant after judging his people.
Jesus, likewise, (not to mention all other inspired biblical speakers) uses obvious aspects of life on planet earth to clarify his points. I’m thinking specifically of the “rain falling on the righteous and unrighteous” moment of the Sermon on the Mount.
Finally we have Paul clarifying that if there’s no resurrection of Jesus, there is nothing into which to put our faith. Do you see why he says this? Why he must say it?
This is how the truth works.
But not everyone agrees. Some folks want you to believe in them or their words before the event happens. That is fine, but it is no longer truth. It is speculation. It is unbiblical and unchristian. And it is usually depressing (I’m thinking irreversible climate change) and expensive (here I’m thinking of the many of you who financially support all the motivational speakers whose promise involves the future being better).
Here me clearly this day, Christian: You’re right to trust in the god who makes “righteousness the level”.
I don’t want to motivate you. I want to remind you. Jesus is Lord and Judge. “Cease to do evil. Learn to do good.”
(And read your Bible everyday.)
The drawstring on my gym shorts has never retracted all the way into the band, but it seems like it may if I’m not careful as I put them on.
My forehead has a skin irritation that I do not believe I can cure with the limited amount of time and skill that I possess this morning.
The one on my upper left arm is prime for attention and now healing.
Remembering that I felt my big toenail snag on the blankets last night, I leave my anklet socks on the kitchen table as I return to the bathroom.
After clipping, the metal file is put to work.
Donning my shirt first, I then pull on my socks. Next, my glasses. One more look in the mirror to make sure that the additional light didn’t reveal any embarrassing and correctable flaws.
Well, my forehead still has the acute pain, but I’m good.
And I’m failing as I try not to think about the shooting, and what, if anything, it means, but I’m good.
What?! You’re kidding me, right? Dying newspapers are banding together against President Trump?
Most Americans cannot even read.
Even more do not read.
Rather than joining forces against perceived attacks, newspapers and other written news mediums would be more likely to defeat President Trump’s attacks by publishing early-readers like Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks. Or Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever.
The president’s words cannot possibly threaten the literate.
As a child I remember hearing and repeating one disparaging joke about Ethiopians. That was the breadth of my awareness of that people. As an adult I find myself working alongside them. Just before taking this job, for a different reason, a white South African friend shared with me that what he knows of Ethiopians is that they fight, meaning they still have backbones–regardless of which side they’re fighting for.
A seemingly unrelated second memory from when I was a child is that my dad owned his small business. One day he came home from work and shared with my mom that his secretary essentially gave him the what-for about how he didn’t know how to do anything right. I can’t remember all the details but I remember how angry my mom was that my dad didn’t stick up for himself. My dad would tell you to this day that he does not like or believe in confrontation, and that he intentionally searches for the way forward that includes everyone being happy.
So, here’s the memory merge. Just over one year ago I began this new job. Shortly after beginning in one department I was moved to another. The man that trained me in this new department, on day one, lambasted the workers in our department on the earlier shifts. (It’s a 24-hr factory.) I remember thinking, “If he’s saying that to me about them on day one, then what’s going to stop him from saying that about me if I’m ever on another shift than him?”
Suffice it to say my suspicion was correct. The minute another worker quit, I switched shifts and subsequently discovered that my former-trainer was talking shyat about me during the pass-down every morning.
Dread, in any form, is no fun. Over the course of time I shared the situation with my Ethiopian co-worker and friend, and at first he thought I was probably not assessing things accurately. After a bit of contemplation he changed his mind and said, “You know what? If you’re complaining about him, something is off.”
To my sheer delight, my Ethiopian friend later initiated the following conversation. He said, “You know what, Pete? K- and I used to argue and get into it with each other every day. Then one day I said to him, ‘K-, if you have a question, something work related, you can ask me. Other than that, do not ever, ever, ever, ever, ever talk to me again.’ After that he stopped talking to me. These days we talk, sure. But it was only after a long time had passed.”
The funny thing about the entire thing is that when it comes to watching someone else be attacked, I won’t stand for it for one second, and I will shed any and all concern for myself and my circumstances as I move in to defend. But when I’m the recipient, I just absorb it.
Other advice includes the following gems. My mom says, “Be happy there is only one.” One of the Reverends from church says, “A lady once told me she had a similar situation at work. She prayed that the LORD would bless the co-worker. In three days they were promoted to supervise another department and peace was restored.” A friend from school, also randomly South African, said the biblical course of action would be address the dude one-on-one, then escalate to supervisors and HR when he doesn’t change. He also exhorted that I ask the LORD to change both our hearts.
Here’s what I did. Well, first, you need to know this. One night at the club, one of the girls told me that some guy was getting a little too handsy during the lap dance and so she stopped and then he stiffed her on the money. She came to me because I was the manager at the time. I asked her what she wanted and she wanted both her money and him to be thrown out. After entirely too much talking with the dude, I got her the money, but decided that he could have another chance. When I reported this news to the woman, well, let’s just say that the look this woman gave me was something I would not wish on anyone. I said to her, “Okay. You’re right. He’s leaving now. I’m probably gonna get slugged though.”
Sure enough, I told him I changed my mind and his friend and him had to leave. While looking at his friend, I felt the dude’s knuckles against the back of my skull. After slight and inconsequential chaos he was then escorted out. (It never ceased to amaze me how the party never hesitated, no matter if fights were happening, or where–including on stage between girls. Customers just wanted to get wasted around women, girls just wanted money. But everyone expected these things to happen and the company to have staff that was able to handle them surely and painlessly.)
The lessons were many, but most notable for my current predicament was that I went alone. I should’ve had another guy with me. And I did from then on.
So I didn’t have the one-on-one chat with my co-worker last week. I prepared to head to HR and get the third person involved from the get-go, especially because the problem is exactly that this guy is a hot-head and totally unapproachable. Upon resolving to get HR, I decided I wanted one more instance before I went, and as these things go, the week went off without much drama, especially considering there’s a new trainee that keeps him occupied.
What’s so funny to me about it is that I know myself so well that I know I won’t refrain from answering his BS responses in words and tones that must-needs compel him to action during the consequently never-gonna-happen one-on-one chat.
Is this self-awareness what my dad felt? Is he a all-or-nothing guy that just chooses nothing? Who knows. Pretty sure we’ll chat about it after he reads this.
Okay. Not to be picky, but I’m really only looking for stories about how you got the person fired. We’re fooling ourselves if we think these people change. I can only think of one sure way, but I don’t feel like getting hit. Whatcha got?