It’s Oft Best To Say Nothing At All

As of late, the three words to best describe me: Emotional Train Wreck. While that’s not my preemptive excuse, your knowing this will bring something useful to the peace table… in this blog… on this day.

To Long-Story-Short the situation… after posting my response to a comment on one of my blogs… upon rereading it… I realized that I was sounding more dogmatic than diplomatic. Ugh!

While what I had said was essentially true… I could’ve said it far better than I had.

While it’s OK to be passionate / opinionated… carrying this to extremes is NOT productive.

In our severely divided world… especially in Blue State-Red State America… where finding agreement on much of anything is getting more and more difficult with each passing nanosecond, I don’t want to be fanning the flames of rancor.

Finding common ground… even if it is measured in mere inches, not acres, is what I am actually attempting to promote.

I do consider myself fortunate that my comment was posted on my own blog, for I was able to delete my own immoderate words. Indeed, that comment is now in the trash… right where it belongs.

From this day forward, before I express myself, be it posted in a blog or in a comment section, if I am emotionally impaired, I plan to first put my words through my “Verbal Breathalyzer” and “take a reading”.

If I’m “BUI” (Blogging Under the Influence) I’ll shut up. Conversely, I’ll only click a post button if I am sober.

For nearly fifty years, since I was a teenager, I’ve been a big fan of the poet / songwriter / musician Bob Seger… have been in tune with the timeless wisdom his lyrics oft present. There’s no need to dig too deeply into his discography to find applicable passages when something isn’t going right in my day-to-day life.

With regards to my self-deleted comment… and any comments I may be about to post in the future… this verse to Bob Seger’s song, Wait For Me, will act as my Verbal Breathalyzer:

There’ll be times when I rise…

There’ll be times when I’ll fall…

There’ll be times when it’s best…

To say nothing at all!

 

Going Home… Going Home…

My Mother had enjoyed a remarkably healthy life for eighty-nine years. But after her heart attack in early 2002, things were never the same again. At first, my caregiver efforts (with a homecare agency assist) worked out fine. But the following year, after she broke her leg, she wound up in a nursing home. It was there that pneumonia seriously complicated matters.

My cell rang in the eleventh hour on that fateful Tuesday morning. Her doctor’s prognosis was grim…

“Your Mother is in the active stage of dying.”

The nursing home only a mere mile away, I was seated at Mom’s bedside within fifteen minutes.

What was to become my twenty-two hour vigil had begun. For the first six hours, Mom was talkative. We professed our love, prayed, reminisced, at times, even laughed. We reveled in our joyous, carefree mood where… had I not known better… I’d have believed she’d soon be homeward bound… homeward bound…

Late that afternoon, it must’ve been Mom getting her first glimpse of her Heavenly, family reunion that prompted her final words… among them… I kid you not… her spoken with awe…

“They ALL came!”

And then… she spoke no more.

As her vital signs waned, the twilight in her window faded into nightfall and the overhead light fixture’s pale blue fluorescence now suffused her room. Throughout the night, I was experiencing what Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of “On Death and Dying”, describes as “The silence that goes beyond words.”

Shortly after sunrise, I had nodded off in my chair but, somehow, did manage to open my eyes just as Mom was drawing in her final breath. “Wednesday’s Child” had made Wednesday, April 16th her final day on Earth. True to her lifelong morning person traits, twenty-three minutes into the ninth hour, Mom had reached Earth’s exit signs.

After composing myself, I, too, headed for the exit signs. Now standing outdoors, I had left that nursing home scene far behind… inhaled the onrush of sweet, fresh air… joined… already in progress… a spectacular, birds chirping, spring morn awash with warm sunlight.

I sat on a bench to mourn. As I looked up to the sky… I could envision Mom still lingering at Heaven’s threshold… her loving gaze upon me. I could almost hear her say…

 “My gifted son… I love you dearly and wish you continue to do well”*

I could practically feel her till-we-meet-again blown kiss touch my cheek… see her slow farewell wave as she reluctantly… oh so reluctantly… turned away… took those final steps to fade into the Heavenly mist.

On the drive home, I thought back to everything Mom had taught me throughout my lifetime. And how she had saved the very best lesson for the very last. To teach it to me, all she had needed were the three words, “They ALL came!’ Her way of assuring me that everlasting life really does exist.

My own mortality no longer seems quite so scary as it once was.  I know that when my final day on Earth arrives… Mom will be there to show me the way home.

* The actual message my Mom had handwritten inside the very last birthday card she had ever given to me.

A Goldilocksian Dilemma

It’s a given… most bloggers really don’t know me from Adam. That’s the likely reason why I’ve recently caught wind of something rather unsettling… that many of my April postings, where I’ve been exploring Divine Intervention, have been summarily judged to be “off-putting.” I won’t name this person’s screen-name because I’m a classy guy.

So… why do I blog about Religion? Well, to better understand where my head is at… thirteen Aprils ago, I watched someone very near and dear to me die before my very eyes. So forgive me for having undergone profound changes… forgive me if those feelings intensify at this time of year… forgive me for feeling close to God.

Granted… religion is a complicated thing. A Goldilocksian dilemma. Is it too soft? Too hard? Or just right? The most important things, here…

Whatever you believe is cool… even if you choose to believe in nothing at all. And by the same token… I’d hope you’d be open-minded enough to cut me the same amount of slack.

I’m not on a mission… repeat… NOT ON A MISSION … to convert anyone over to my religious beliefs. Be you agnostic or devout… I welcome you to my webpage. I’d hope you’d show me the same graciousness.

Does that mean we can’t compare and contrast our beliefs / disbeliefs? I would hope not. Cutting off the lines of communication runs totally counter to what a blogging community is supposed to be all about. If we cannot agree… then we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Folks… I blog from my mind, heart and soul… I’m seeking life’s truths. I’m oft in that stream of consciousness mode… in hopes that… if lucky… I might stumble on to some of those truths… even if it’s just a microscopic portion of just one of those truths.

So… rest assured… re my blogs… there’s no need for you to rush off to your closet to grab your Hazmat suit. No need to take a headfirst plunge into a vat of anti-bacterial soap to wash your brain clean of my POV.

I oft come across as passionate… but that’s just my nature. To blog without passion? Why even bother!

Once again…

I blog from my mind, heart and soul. If in doing so I’ve offended the sensibilities of anyone… you have my heartfelt apologies.

Was it Divine Intervention? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I mentioned how my brush with death on an icy freeway overpass had been a stop and think about “IT” moment in my life… that I’ve experienced “IT” a few other times… that each time “IT” had hit me… I did get that jaw dropping, “Oh Wow”, feeling of awe.

I also claimed that “IT” has further strengthened my already rock solid faith in God… that “IT” had happened because He still had more important work for me to do on Earth. And last but not least, I made a promise to tell you all about “IT”. Now,  being a man who’s true to his word, welcome to Part 2!

To be sure here… “IT” is a rather inelegant way of talking about “IT”… that “IT” being none other than Divine Intervention. Hmm… maybe I should abbreviate “IT”? Sure… why not… let’s use the acronym, “DI”.

The DI I’ll be blogging about on this day took place just as the final paragraphs of my Dad’s bio were getting written. But… let’s first flip back a few pages… just to get you, my readers, on the same page with me.

Dad’s Life Story ~ By the time the dog days of summer, 1988, had arrived, the consequences from a lifetime’s worth of poor lifestyle choices had begun to dog him. Tobacco and a diet loaded with sodium and saturated fats had resulted in obesity, hypertension, heart trouble, diabetes and cancer.

Dad’s internist had advised him to do something before it was too late… but my father waited and waited… until it was too late. His need for an ambulance trip to the hospital certainly underscored his “too late” status.

It was after modern medical miracles had stabilized Dad’s heart issues when his doctor finally convinced him to surgically address his other problems, too.

I had visited Dad 12 hours prior to his operation. Although we both skirted the issue… opting, instead, for some pleasant small talk… we could both see the fear in each others eyes. We shared the unspoken dread that, come morning, things would not be going well. Dad’s parting words that night, “Keep the home fires burning.” I assured him I would.

Our worst fears had been confirmed in the OR… Dad’s cancer had become a raging, rampaging, homicidal, suicidal beast. Since he had intentionally left his “advanced directives” form blank, i.e., had not told what his wishes were in the event something went wrong, by default his status was “full code”… which meant he wanted doctors to do everything medically possible to keep him alive.

And something DID go wrong… everything went wrong!

The surgical team had to resort to heroics just to keep him from dying on the operating table… even though his chances for recovery were near absolute zero.

For six, long, agonizing weeks Dad laid in a quasi-living, Hellish limbo, while his doctor made repeated attempts to convince Mom, this was all to no avail. As the doctor’s frustration mounted, he even said, point blank, “This is like beating on a dead horse!” But, she just didn’t have the heart to… to put this crudely… “pull the plug”.

On November 1, 1988, Mom and I had one more confab with Dad’s doctor, where she had asked him… no… from the tone in her voice I could hear it more as her desperate plea… “Is there any chance you can save my husband’s life?” He simply nodded no.

Well, at that moment… Mom had seen the light… and as a result of her changing her husband over to “no code”, Dad had finally been liberated from his torture chamber ICU. At long last he would get the opportunity to “see the light”… albeit in a different sense…

Whether Dad would live or die was now up to God to decide.

Mom and I passed through the hospital exits in silence. Our slow walk to the parking lot was amidst a misty rain. Just as I was unlocking and holding the car door open for her, Mom turned to me to ask, “Did I just do the right thing?” At that moment the sun broke through the storm clouds and a rainbow appeared!”

To answer her, all I had to do is point upward and say, “Would you look at that!”

Well, as we all know, rainbows usually signify the end to our storms. To be sure… Dad’s post-op experience had been the medical equivalent of an F-10 tempest. But did this rainbow mean he’d be making a miraculous recovery or…

On the drive home, Mom and I had both been stunned into silence by the sudden appearance of that rainbow. As I drove, I recalled one of her favorite stories, one she had told me many times… one that I had never grown tired of hearing…

In her home state of Minnesota, there had been torrential rains for the entire week leading up to her Wedding Day in 1948. Then just as she and Dad had said, “I do” the clouds broke, and sunbeams lit up the entire church.

As we pulled up into the driveway, we both agreed we were physically and emotionally exhausted. Our number one priority was to get some much-needed sleep. We also made our plans to return to the hospital, early the very next morning… but…

Just as we were heading out the door… the phone rang. It being only 6:30 a.m… we knew this could only mean bad news. The disembodied voice informed us that it was too late… Dad had died… died alone.

I’m including the Mike + The Mechanics video “Living Years” even though the story told by lyricists Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson is not a “perfect fit” to all elements of my own story. The lyrics, which resonate with me the most are as follows…

I wasn’t there that morning… when my father passed away,

Didn’t get to tell him… All the things I had to say.

To be sure… nobody should ever die alone… and, for not being there… I do feel I had let my father down. The very last thing he had ever said to me turned out to be, “Keep the home fires burning!” And I would not let him down in that regard… that I had solemnly vowed.

So… while I regain my composure… let’s adjourn for about five minutes to give a listen to “Living Years”. Scroll down to meet me at song’s end… for my parting thoughts…

While we were listening… a thought did come to mind… and I’ll bet some of you also thought along these same lines…

Don’t postpone that long overdue visit and/or phone chat with your parents… do that soon… before it’s too late.

Now… to wrap up my story…

I realize that a doubting Thomas or secularist would dispute my claim that the rainbow, which Mom and I had seen, had any significance at all… let alone it being Divine Intervention. Such naysayers would merely chalk it all up to “total coincidence”.

OK, it’s true… God had not actually cured my Dad of all his ills. On that technicality… I’ll cede the skeptics a bit of ground. But it’s in the realm of the intangible where He worked His miracle. He had slightly eased both Mom’s and my own anguish over the decision to go “no code” re my Dad.

Consider that rainbow, too… the perfect timing of it all… had Mom and I delayed exiting the Hospital by even one minute, we would’ve entirely missed seeing that short-lived meteorological event. Think about the similarity of how the sun had come out at just the right time on her Wedding Day. “Till death do us part” is part of those vows… and this 40 year later similar weather pattern appeared to be ushering in that impending, “till death do us part” moment for this husband / wife couple.

All of this transcends happenstance, which does bring us back full circle to Divine Intervention.

For sure I know it further strengthened my Mom’s rock solid faith in God…

For sure I know it further strengthened my my own rock solid faith in God…

The Good Lord willing… I shall share with you one last experience I’ve had with Divine Intervention… in the days ahead… stay tuned…

Was it Divine Intervention? (Part 1)

It all began on a Friday. I was in the thick of 8:45 a.m., rush-hour traffic… en route to my Community College. The light falling snow was just beginning to taper off. Still harboring my “I’m invincible” delusion of youth… I asked myself, “Eh… how dangerous could a couple of inches be?”

Well… I was paying way too much attention to the rock music blasting out of my car radio speakers and far too little attention to my speedometer. Little did I realize… road conditions were deteriorating with each passing minute and mile.

But I sure did notice after I had crossed over the US-23 overpass. A thin layer of ice had turned that short stretch of highway into a skating rink. I started to fishtail… then overcorrected.

As a nineteen-year-old, with virtually no hands on winter driving experience to draw on, and with there being insufficient time to mentally flip through the “pages” of some virtual reality, Driver’s Ed manual for advice… I panicked… which only made matters worse.

Car and driver’s mind were both starting to go into a spinout. Barreling down on me was the sea of oncoming headlights. Leading that vehicular “parade” was a massive, take no prisoners, 18-wheeler.

My last minute Hail Mary (words and actions) made me quickly jerk on the steering wheel… and before I could finish saying… “pray for us sinners… now and at the hour of our death”… my last ditch effort had prevented my crossing over the center line.

What happened next, only a veteran Hollywood stunt driver could’ve pulled off in “one take”… for his or her film director. The path my car took was akin to threading a needle. I jumped the curb and came to rest… neatly perpendicular “parked” between two, closely spaced road signs.

As my level of adrenaline ebbed, I realized that I had totally avoided a head on with that semi tractor-trailer rig… that all the other drivers in the vicinity were totally unscathed, as well. I, too, had emerged from that scene with nary a scratch to either my own body or car.

Though not an exact match to the events I’ve just described, the following video will give you a general idea of what could’ve easily happened to me. And since I had been driving a 1972 Chevy Nova at the time… colliding with that semi would’ve created a whole new meaning for the phrase, “compact car”.

A note to my more sensitive readers… you may not want to view this.

Returning to my story… the other drivers, out of consideration for me (or perhaps out of fear that I’d do some further boneheaded driving) had all brought their vehicles to a dead stop, which had allowed me to shift into reverse to get back onto the highway.

Albeit with frayed nerves, bruised ego and my car’s newly acquired, minor front-end wheel alignment problems, I did make it to my 9 a.m. class, safe and unsound, a mere two or three minutes late.

Only afterwards, did the significance of my near fatal accident start to fully sink in. November 9, 1973 could’ve easily been chiseled beneath my tombstone’s D.O.B. This had been nothing short of my first, ever, actual brush with death.

Since my driving skills that morning had been so lousy… I wondered… whose hands had guided my own on the steering wheel? Who had, just in the nick of time, saved my very life? Was it Lady Luck or the Good Lord?

True… those who are secularists and/or chivalrous would say, “Ladies first”. But, as much as I am a gentleman, in this case I’d have to disagree. I do believe there was one and ONLY ONE reason that I am here to blog my story on this day…

Divine Intervention.

Now… to tie up a few loose ends, which I neglected to mention… I had no sooner resumed my commute than sunbeams broke through the dark blue/grey cloud deck and a song recorded by the British band, Badfinger… “Carry On Till Tomorrow”… broke through the crackling static of my car radio.

On that day… Carry On Till Tomorrow had taken on a whole new significance… the almost angelic / choir-like chorus reminding me of how close I had come to being fitted with my own “pair of wings.”

It was as if God had taken on the role of DJ to cue up and dedicate that song to me… to remind me that I should carry on… that He still had more for me to do in this world… in all the tomorrows, which His Divine Intervention had so graciously salvaged for me.

Why God had spared me from near certain death would only start to become apparent with the passage of time.

All, which had occurred on that nearly fatal winter day was just one of several other instances of Divine Intervention, which I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

These have been the events, which have further strengthened my already rock solid faith in God.

The Good Lord willing… I’ll share more of my experiences with you in the days ahead… stay tuned…

The Church Left Me… Disillusioned

Lately… frequently… well intentioned, good people, who I deeply respect, have been reminding me it’s time to get religion back into my life… even after I’ve assured them that… while I’m no longer a churchgoer… I’ve NEVER lost my faith in God.

To be sure here… my already strong faith had grown even more so during the early years of our new millennium. At life’s fork in the road… I had experienced some eye-opening incidents, where I believe I had been an eyewitness to Divine Intervention… and… as a result… had been spared much anguish.

Yet, even after factoring all that in, I still don’t feel a need to rejoin the flock… and no getting around this… I did “stray”… so long ago… while I was still just a kid. So, just how, pray tell, does someone, so young, wind up leaving his church permanently?

Well… to answer that, I’m reposting an excerpt from my old MySpace blog. I’ve since polished / freshened it up a bit… but in essence this is what hit the www back on Monday, July 17, 2006…

I was raised a Catholic and attended mass at St. Andrew’s on a regular basis up till the age of 10 (or thereabouts). The way I remember those Sundays, church services were the venue for the frivolous and foolish to show off their just off the showroom floor, upscale, shiny muscle cars and be decked out in all their “Sunday best” finery.

While still in the parking lot… the men were almost at the point of popping open the hoods to show off their engines, while the women were squinting to scope out the (“oops… I forgot to remove) price tags from their dresses and fur coats.

What all this crass materialism had to do with Godliness… I’ll never know.

Once our congregation did settle down in the pews, it was “show time”. Of course, the mass, spoken in Latin, didn’t help matters much, either. It all sounded like gibberish to me. And… for all the good the Priest’s sermons seemed to be doing… to make better people out of the aforementioned “fashion models” and “car buffs”… well… long sigh… he needn’t even have switched over to English.

If the private lives of these shallow Halles and Hals were anything like what their public images projected, I suspect a goodly percentage of them were living out their Monday through Saturday existences doing whatever they damn well pleased. What did they have to lose when all they needed to do was “faithfully” show up each and every Sunday to receive their absolution? Of course, in turn, that’d also reconfirm their well in advance, booked reservations for that “Heavenly” Hilton in the sky.

One could practically hear the Priest huckstering into a bullhorn (while the keyboardist played the circus calliope)… “Step right up, folks… it’s God’s five-step program to eternal salvation! 1. Live a life of depravity. 2. Hop into that dark confessional. 3. Boast about your sinful exploits. 4. Receive your penance. 5. Let that little “cookie” melt in your mouth… they’re baked by Keebler elves!”

At that point the Priest (channeling the Price is Right’s Johnny Olson) would beckon “C’mon Down!” to all who were seeking “Holy” Communion…

…that being the final cue to the organist and parishioners. Within seconds, the aisle leading down to the altar had become something more akin to a catwalk. Folks… get ready for this!

If this had all taken place… oh… say… about 13 years later, the organ player would’ve really let ‘er rip and the churchgoers would’ve been whipped up into a disco frenzy… really strutting their stuff / shakin’ their booty on their way down the aisle to “salvation”.

But… by then… the hour had groweth late. Once again, Sunday services were winding down. All that was left was the benediction followed by everyone bumpin’ and grindin’ out the doors.

Out in the parking lot, one could smell the raw gasoline and burnt rubber… hear the revving of the engines and squealing, screeching tires. At the drop of the flag THEY WERE OFF!!!

Cough! Cough! Wheeze… Hack-Hack-Hack!… Excuse me folks… that was one hell of a nasty cloud of burnt rubber and unburnt petrol! Well now… long sigh… welcome back to the present.

So… did I embellish my above-mentioned  boyhood experiences?

Yes… but not by much. In my defense… this cast of clownish church characters are the culprits who soured me on organized religion… and from my POV… that all puts their foul behavior in fair territory for me to field.

As I see it, it’s either my continuing to poke fun at them or my winding up in the funny farm. If I were to add anything else to my past blogged observations, it’d go like this.

I come from humble beginnings. So for me to have seen other Catholics shamelessly, collectively flaunting their elevated station in life had sent me home each Sunday feeling depressed re my impoverished life. Now… I ask…

A. Is not Mass supposed to elevate one’s spirits?

B. What respectable religion sends anyone home in an emotional, gray funk?

Additionally… my hat’s off to our current Pontiff, Pope Francis. He’s a man who’s been staying true to his own humble background. To that end / toward a new beginning, he’s been fumigating the stuffy, musty stagnancy, which permeates the Catholic Church. He finds his church’s irreverent, irrelevant, rot from the top down, gold-plated, stain-glassed imagery just as repugnant and off-putting as I do.

Folks, I am prepared to recant all the negative stuff, which I’ve said above, and promptly send this blog to the trash on the day where I find a parish where mass is held in an austere locale… oh… say… within a log cabin-like structure… perhaps even in the clearing of a dense forest during Michigan’s warmer months. Services where Golden Rule focused sermons emphasize how we can all work towards the betterment of our vast global community… roll up our sleeves and pitch in to make the dawn of each new day a bit brighter for those who are having a rough time… and… both want and need our helping hand.

I don’t believe my maker would ever plunge me into eternal damnation for leaving the Catholic Church. After all, that all knowing God would already know that the Church I had attended as a boy… had left me…

Left me utterly disillusioned.

Could Matthew 5:39 End The Madness?

¶1 Defining “mad”… it’s feeling PO’d… e.g., folks indigenous to the Middle East rightfully feeling mad as hell because the U.S. had trespassed on their home turf… more specifically… America had stationed troops in Saudi Arabia. In a nutshell, Osama bin Laden would’ve calmed down had he gotten the U.S. to peacefully stand down (as in America getting the the hell out). But we didn’t… and so “mad” took on a whole new connotation.

¶2 Redefining “mad”… it’s going “just plain nuts”… e.g., a man woke up one sunshiny, Tuesday morning, chowed down his Cheerios and then, as he headed out the front door, he grabbed his car keys, kissed the missus and said, “Oh honey… I won’t be home for dinner… flight 11 out of Logan will be making an unscheduled stop at the WTC.” She reacted by saying, “Oh… OK dear… have a safe drive to the airport.”

Good Morning to you all. As I write this… it is an early a.m. Sunday… a time of the week I usually devote to deep thought. The question I ask myself..: and now, of course, you, too…

Is there a method to my madness? That asked… I’ll now restart this blog… you can decide…

¶1 outlines just one of the key underlying motives behind 9/11. ¶2 showcases the deadly way, which Osama bin Ladin’s soldiers had so matter-of-factly channeled their unresolved and unresolvable anger. True, that domestic, spousal interaction scene is my dramatization … but it does accurately portray that “just doing my job,” “punch the timeclock” “whatever it takes” terrorist ‘tude.

So… to CliffsNotes it… past diplomatic problems have turned into the present-day psychiatric problems… a.k.a., the madness of terrorism. I mean… nobody gets to the point of no return (as described in ¶2) on a whim. We drove people in the Middle East nuts. We hadn’t addressed problems with diplomacy before it was too late… and now… in all likelihood… it is too late. In essence… re 9/11? We did it to ourselves.

We’re nearly 15 years into our post 9/11 nightmare and, with each new attack, it feels like we’re no closer to ending the War on Terror than we were in 2001. President Obama even knocked off Osama bin Laden and, beyond exacting revenge, what else do we have to show for it?

OK… that sums up the past and present. So… where do we go from here?

I suspect that due to decades worth of failed U.S. foreign policy, exacerbated by George W. Bush’s squandering of the free world’s, post 9/11, international goodwill AND his further mucking things up by going on the offensive in Afghanistan and Iraq (the latter nation having no direct ties to 9/11) have made any attempts at peace talks impossible… yep that diplomatic ship has sailed off on a one-way trip to nowhere. Ergo we cannot talk our way out of this mess.

Additionally… President Obama has been sufficiently wise to wind down W’s offensive wars. The Prez understands we cannot fight our way out of this mess.

So what is left? Folks, all the U.S. can do is brace itself (further strengthen Homeland Security) and cross our fingers that we can keep the carnage to a minimum.

Accept the fact that this War on Terror is a no-win war to the end of time. In the not too distant future, “Mad’ just might take on another whole new connotation.

Redefining “M.A.D.”… that’d be Mutual Assured Destruction… e.g., where terrorists go nuclear. True… they’d die along with those who they attack… but… has not suicide been their shtick all along?

But… is that all there REALLY is? Might we be able to “pray” ourselves out of this mess?

As of late, I’ve been wondering. Is it time for a Hail Mary Pass? To face down the al Qaeda / ISIS Holy War with the Holy Book? Turning to Matthew 5:39…

“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

IF the U.S. turns the other cheek, I believe this just might totally freak out the terrorist world. Forsaking the offensive strategy could be a fatal blow to morale amongst the terrorist troops. Re U.S. passive resistance, some of them might even say, “Damn it… this ain’t no fun no more… I quit!”

And what could terrorist “management” do to stop their troops from going AWOL, threaten to kill them? Is it even possible to instill fear in those who’ve been programmed to blow themselves up?

And how could “management” find replacements after the whole world watches as the U.S. marches off to battle terrorism “armed” “only” with Matthew 5:39?

Redefining “mad”, yet, a fourth time… upon going back to reread my post… methinks that CommonSenseTom just may’ve gone mad, himself. What do you think?

If I am wrong… I now ask… “Where Do We Go From Here?”

 

Heartfelt Thanks WordPress Neighbors!

I’ve resided in the WordPress blogging community for 3 months. I’m just stopping by to tell You what an honor it is to live next door to such brilliant artists, authors, bloggers, educators, models, painters, philosophers, photographers, podcasters, poets, scholars and theologians!

At this network, there’s a robust, full-bodied, veritable United Nations’ worth of cultural, ethnic and spiritual diversity. I’ve met contemporaries, wise-beyond-their-years young people and folks representing many age brackets in between. Many of You I deem to be kindred spirits.

I’ve encountered the full gamut of Your heartfelt, human emotions and, in turn, You, who have touched my life… my very soul… have made me laugh out loud / tugged at my heartstrings until tears welled up in my eyes… have calmed me down / sparked my let’s-try-to-make-a-difference / do-something-about-it, non-violent, productive outrage.

I am deeply grateful that You have so graciously welcomed me and permitted me to access Your truly inspired work. For having met You, I have become a far better human being, philosopher and blogger.

To feel… to share… to bask in our communal, “we-are-all-in-this-together” spirit has reenergized me… has motivated me, anew… IS what makes me look forward to leaping out of my bed at the dawn of each new day.

I thank You and now dedicate this song to You… who I’ve already met… to You… who I’ve yet to meet…

Guess Who We Need To Thank…

Did you ever study ALGEBRA and/or play an instrument in a MARCHING BAND? Did you ever strum or enjoy hearing someone else strumming a GUITAR? Have you ever been admitted to a HOSPITAL for SURGERY?

It’s a near certainty that you used a TOOTHBRUSH after drinking a cup of COFFEE this morning… and at some point in your life… you will wear EYE GLASSES… if you don’t already need them.

So what does each element of that (on the surface) hodgepodge of capitalized words have in common with each other?

Well… Muslim ingenuity is responsible for all of those quality of life improving inventions / innovations… read more here.

In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, this blog companion video will showcase a few more of the estimated 1,001 other contributions Muslims have made toward the betterment of our global society.

My shorter than usual  blog should speak volumes… and I’d hope it’ll help any doubters… i.e., those who are suffering the narrow / tunnel vision of xenophobia… to see that we do have much to thank Muslims for.

 

 

My U-Turn To Mom & Dad’s Downturn

By 1929… The economic collapse a.k.a. “The Great Depression” had reared its ugly head. That downturn did far more than reduce the U.S. economy to financial rubble. The societal stagnation was staggering. It put the lives of Americans on hold… inclusive of the two people who were to become my Mom and Dad.

By 1936… my folks-to-be had earned their degrees in education and were seeking public school teacher positions. But, with the economy gone bust, job opportunities were scarce. For those who could find work, the pay was lousy. Consequently, they had to put their careers on hold while waiting for the day when the economy would improve. In the meantime they found odd jobs to tide them over.

By 1947… the job situation did brighten a bit… they met each other… married… and started their family… but all that took place far later in life than normal. By the time I wound up entering this world, they were both 41 years old. In better economic times, they could’ve been grandparents by then.

By 1958… my earliest boyhood memories involved eating the cheapest cuts of bad tasting, gristly meat at our dinner table, my clothing’s patches having patches, and my family renting from a landlord slumlord whose house had a broken down, coal burning furnace… a patched together contraption, which could’ve easily carbon monoxide gassed us all to death.

And… re our unhealthy living conditions… I can see how hypertension is linked to poverty… it’s all that reaching for the saltshaker to mask the taste of unpalatable food. I also suspect the nausea and dizziness, which my family and I had experienced, was not influenza… a defective furnace flue would be the likely culprit.

By 1961… thanks to an FHA, 4% interest, 30-year mortgage, Mom, Dad, Sis and I got to move into our newly built three-bedroom ranch home… things were beginning to look up.

By 1967… teachers had won the right to bargain collectively. But they still had to go on strike to persuade the Board of Education members to pry open their hearts and the school district’s “wallet”. Had my Dad’s labor union failed, the American Dream would’ve remained something that ended each morning when our alarm clocks went off.

By 1975… when I walked through my college graduation day procession, my folks were in their early 60s and words such as “aging” and “ailing” did aptly describe them both.

With the intergenerational role reversal slowly but surely becoming the new reality, Mom and Dad were soon depending on me more and more. My choices were to either help them stay in their home sweet home… or run away from home. Since my soul has never been up for grabs (at any price) I stuck with them… to the very end.

By 1978… I had sacrificed my freedom to pursue employment consistent to my God given talents and college degree. To ensure I could stay close to home, I worked dead end, low wage retail jobs.

Eventually, my superiors did offer me a low-level management position. Of course, prior to accepting that promotion, I had to clearly spell out that I’d prioritize my family first… every time. They understood, which is not what one would normally expect from corporate big shots.

By 1988… Dad had overeaten and smoked himself into a diabetic, riddled with cancer condition and late, that year… into an early grave. Since he had been a chauvinist who insisted on doing all the driving… and my Mother had let her license expire / had gone along for that “ride”, she had to rely on me to do all the grocery shopping… to be her chauffeur. But… as we traveled down the road of life, some twists and turns had become inevitable.

By 2002… Mom had a heart attack. Roughly a year later she broke her femur. It was while convalescing in a nursing home, when pneumonia had asserted itself, and, in spite of her doctor’s best efforts, would not let her enter the road to recovery.

By 2003… Mom had passed through Earth’s Exit Signs. My final duty welcomed assignment was to write and deliver her eulogy. And once the curtains came down on her memorial service… there I sat all alone in the house that was now mine… doing something I had never, ever really done before… putting my needs at the top of my to do list.

In the days and weeks that followed, I came to the realization that while helping my parents… something else had been happening… something insidious. My friends, acquaintances, peers, business contacts and (last but not least) even some marriageable women had all slipped out of my life… perhaps forever.

By 2008… after three decade’s worth of retail’s heavy lifting / standing on my feet all day long … I had wrecked my body… all of that forcing my early retirement.

True, laparoscopic, outpatient surgery could fix the damage, but, in my lifetime, I’ve already been down that exact same road twice before… in other words… these surgical procedures had been, at best, only temporary… which means I could easily reinjure myself.

This does bring to mind the apt saying…

“Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice shame on me.”

Folks there’s not even a contingency for being fooled three times… so I’ll just have to improvise and coin an addendum to that adage.

“Fool me thrice and that makes me the biggest fool who never hit the big time.”

By 2016… By 1929… everything has come full circle… I am now, actually living in my Mom and Dad’s Great Depression… facing down my bare bones existence and an uncertain future… just as they had done four score and seven years ago.