My Brother’s Keeper

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My being only a casual reader of the Bible, I’ve never deemed it a page turner worthy of a cover to cover read. Admittedly, my interpretations of scripture can stray unto paths less “traveled” by the major league, professional theologians.

Nevertheless… hopefully… you and I can still lace up our athletic footwear and… upon tying all of the required double knots… go for a walk through life. I think you’ll find our journey enjoyable be the road you’re upon secular, devout or somewhere in the middle. So… are you with me?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” is rooted to the Biblical Story of two brothers… Cain and Abel… that very question attributable to the fratricidal sociopath, Cain, who uttered those words to God with a haughtiness and hostility that… well…

Let’s just say that had this involved a vengeful, small “g” god… such a deplorable attitude would’ve invited… at the very least… one hurled lightning bolt. Indeed, could we not envision such a PO’d deity gleefully training his glowering, evil eye’s “crosshairs” on “home plate”, winding up his throwing arm and delivering the perfect, strike-three-and-your out “pitch”? ZAP! Cain’s miserable hide reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes?

To help bring this “brother’s keeper” issue into better focus, let’s apply it to a more contemporary setting. It’s regrettable, but true, that we are facing down what has become our “What’s in it for me” society, where we’re discovering way too many individuals who… either unwittingly or willfully… are unleashing Cain’s arrogance and aggression.

Whatever happened to that sense of obligation to humanity? That eagerness to look out for the well-being of one another? That desire to keep each other out of harm’s way?

When we really think about it, aren’t nearly all of us living examples of how humanity’s very survival depends upon these vital to life, unifying attitudes? I know I’ve benefited from them. Indeed, when I had least expected it, one selfless soul had rushed to my rescue.

This all gets backdated to my early childhood, when I first met Danny. His being one year older hadn’t gotten in the way of our becoming best friends. Being next door neighbors, too, meant we could spend countless hours of quality playtime together. In essence, he had become my big brother, I, his little brother.

Of course, once my family had moved out of the neighborhood, everything changed… and not always for the better. You see, in the meantime… or maybe I should rephrase that to say… IN THE MEAN TIME… a handful of my public school system’s bullies were having a grand old time sadistically and mercilessly targeting me with their verbal abuse and physical assaults. They had totally demolished my sense of self-esteem… had literally driven me into abject, social isolation… demoralized me to the point where my already infrequent returns to my (one mile distant) old stomping grounds (to visit Danny) soon became non-existent. Had these bullies severed our brotherly bond, too? Only time would tell…

As one would expect, the passage of time didn’t diminish my tormentors “visits” with me. One day, with my streaming tears further fueling their viciousness and uproarious laughter… just as I was feeling that I could not possibly take it any longer… a raised authoritative, familiar voice began sternly ordering them all to stand down. Nope, it wasn’t the school principal or even a teacher taking charge.

It was none other than Danny!

Factoring in my distraught state of mind and my blurred with tears vision, I had almost deemed him a too-good-to-be-true apparition. I don’t know where he had found such bravery. His being outnumbered FOUR to ONE, I seriously doubt he could’ve stood his / my ground, had this actually come down to physical blows. Indeed, mere moments later, both Danny and I were saved by the bell… the ringing school bell… that had sent us all hurriedly scurrying off to our designated classrooms.

My biggest regret has always been how I had neglected to thank Danny, my big brother on two levels. For his [1] I’ve got your six schoolhouse corridor intervention and [2] imparting upon his little brother… by example, not by intent… his “I’m my brother’s keeper” sensibilities.

To keep all of this real… I do know there’s very little chance that Danny will ever read these words. In fact, he may no longer even be amongst the living. Even so, I’ll say this anyway…

My eternal gratitude to you, Daniel H.
Last known locale: Bremerton, Washington

 

 

 

 

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Now’s Not the Time to Kiss and Make-Up!

As one who still reads about current events in the newsprint and ink format, I’m well aware of the glut of slick, glossy, advertising circulars that get crammed in after the Classifieds Section… inclusive of those promulgated by the huckster of health and beauty aids products… ULTA.

When such attractive ads are taken at face value… one would tend to believe such a beauty conscious corporation would be run by folks with beautiful consciences, too? Yes? No?

Well, if the allegations are proven true, that would mean that ULTA…as of late… has been engaging in the medically / microbially unsound business practice of selling USED make-up. USED MAKE-UP!

Think of the reader chorus of EEEEWWWWWWWWs that has just occurred! And, most assuredly, I would encourage women, who now worry that their health and well-being may’ve been needlessly endangered, to check out their options at TopClassActions.

Let’s move on to the deeper than skin deep issues. While, intrinsically, the desire to look one’s best is not a bad thing….

In this purportedly liberated, new millennium, why must anyone permit youth obsessed Hollywood, Madison Avenue and ULTA their narrow definition of female attractiveness? Ironically, such an outmoded mindset oft gets perpetrated and perpetuated by a slew of fantasizing, male porkers whose own faces could rarely, if ever, be described as anything even remotely beautiful and youthful.

Speaking from this liberated guy’s perspective… as unfair as this actually is… most men never feel compelled to use similar cosmetics because society accepts our appearance no matter how old we look. Or… to clever up this post just a tad…

We live in a world that accepts males even after our mugs cease to resemble The Picture of Dorian Gray while the paint was still wet. BTW… my kudos to Oscar Wilde for his inspirational, imaginative literary work of the same name.

But to get back to the unbecoming buisness model of allegedly selling USED, UNSAFE products, let’s consider the slew of nasty diseases out there. To be merciful, let’s limit this to a rundown of just one…

What if ULTA were to resell returned lipsticks, which have been infected with Herpes? Just how attractive / alluring would the new owners’ lips look once that nasty, chronic disease’s symptoms appear?

Such nightmarish scenarios will be ours so long as we elevate unscrupulous leaders who deregulate their anything-for-a-buck, corrupt CEO cronies.

Indeed, this already is a business trend that consumers… ULTA et al… will be facing down when nobody with ethics is minding the store.

 

 

The Very First Time I Felt Like a Father

 

Whenever my destinations involve malls, cineplexes, supermarkets, etc…. rain or shine… my car usually winds up in the parking lot periphery to [1] avoid dings and dents on fenders / doors, [2] force myself to get a bit of exercise and [3] ensure that, upon exiting my parking space, my automatic transmission can be shifted into D rather than R.

You see, some automotive “genius” had thoughtlessly designed my car’s rear end to stick up so high in the air that it’s nearly impossible for a backing up driver to always see short in stature passersby.

With that in mind, what now follows is my parking lot, pedestrian safety related tale… a narrative with both an unexpected twist and a far deeper message…

Not too long ago… as I was hoofing it inward bound to a Whole Foods market… while still too distant to rush to the rescue… I spotted / heard an exuberant little boy… probably no more than a four-year-old… who was rushing straight into the path of an oncoming SUV.

The distracted driver had totally missed seeing the stop sign and just kept on carelessly barreling down the service drive, which ran past the storefront. Noticing, too, who I assumed to be the tyke’s (also distracted) mommy, I did all I could possibly do under the circumstances. In my last ditch attempt to attract her attention… maybe even the boy’s, too… I yelled as loudly as I could, “WATCH OUT!” Suddenly looking up to see the impending disaster, she rushed towards her son and snatched him out of harm’s way… just in the nick of time!

As I did my grocery shopping that afternoon, I realized I would’ve reacted in the same manner regardless of the imperiled person’s age… but… that this had involved someone so young… well everything began to register on a personal level I had never even considered before.

During my entire life as a non-parent (sixty plus years)… this was the very first time that I had truly felt like a father. Having helped prevent a youngster’s serious injury… maybe even saving his life… only served to prove how the parental instinct is programmed into us all.

And that’s why I now make my heartfelt appeal to my countrywomen and men, who presently misdirect their parental instinct to protect a 73 year-old man-child rather than the immigrant children he bullies and abuses.

Looking out for the well-being of children upstages / upends politics! Hell, it even transcends religion. We are talking about pure, parental instinct, here. And, as my above story amply points out, one need not even be an actual parent to feel these feelings.

All I can say is if… at the “mere” thought of wailing, sobbing, crying immigrant children… you cannot feel the anguish in your heart… well… humanity just might be heading towards a metaphorical, group cardiac arrest.

A cynic might even begin to wonder if “the patient” is even worth saving. Let’s hope that such world-weariness won’t impede a sorely needed, long overdue, full, societal recovery.

 

 

 

Priceless Friendships That Last a Lifetime

 

I recently became aware of a post bannered with (to say the least) an unnerving headline. It may’ve been clickbait… but… I opted not to click.

Not when that large font lure’s own words were promising methods to “boost your (web) traffic” and “destroy the competition”.

“destroy the competition”

True, I may be unfairly judging the book by the cover, but to take this all at face value…

• Since when has blogging become a cutthroat, crass, what’s-the-bottom-line-here, business venture?

• Why would legitimate businesspersons… either online or brick and mortar… ever deem the hostile takeover approach viable?

• Why would decent webmasters / CEOs ever denigrate their clientele to lowly commodity status?

To momentarily play devil’s advocate… to reduce this down to the so-called almighty buck… considering a WordPress / Interwebs audience numbering in the hundreds of millions, are there not enough “consumers” to go around?  Would that fact, in itself, not assure peaceful co-existence within the business world?

Were I to ever buy into that cold, calculating / conniving “destroy the competition” mindset, I would hope there would be one milligram of decency left within me… that my conscience would tell me it was high time to click my site’s self-destruct button.

I’d never view my readers / followers as mere web traffic and… worse yet… as faceless, stick-figure, held captive consumers. In my head and heart, they shall forever remain breathing, hearts beating, caring, creative, liberated souls. I am eternally grateful that they’re willing to spend precious moments out of their busy day-to-day lives to read, view and listen to my content.

Wealth must never be measured in mere dollars and cents. Be our relationships personal or business, we profit the most in the formation of priceless friendships that last a lifetime.

 

 

Life’s Tear-Stained Paths Converge

 

I was fifty-nine years younger on this day in 1960… my age still measured in single digits. This had been “The Day” where I learnt… first hand… how separation anxiety can hit home… really hard.

The setting involved the early a.m. Greyhound bus terminal, when / where life’s unsmiling, emotionally charged events just kept on unraveling exponentially. With my dad and three-years-older sister standing at my side, with mom seated behind the bus’s thick, tinted safety-glass pane… we traded off our countless good-bye waves and blown kisses. About to embark on her 1,287km / 800mi road trip, by journey’s end, mom would be tending to a somber family matter.

Oh, how I had wished we all could’ve traveled as a family, but, due to my dad’s low-paying public school teacher job, he could not afford the three extra bus tickets… even with two of them being sold at the kiddie, half-fare rate.

With my mind zoning out to the night before… I began replaying the scene where we had just returned from our routine, weekly grocery shopping trip… bags in hand. While dad was unlocking the backdoor, we could already hear our hardwired, landline telephone ringing “off the hook”. Mom rushed in, ahead of us, to field what turned out to be a long-distance call.

In that pre-direct-dial / operator assisted era (“eons” before super-glued to our ears cell phones had become commonplace) such a call was rare, seldom just for the fun of it and (more often than not) the harbinger of bad news.

In this instance, mom’s sister spoke of what had started out as an idyllic, daylong, fun family outing spent at their lakefront cottage… of how everything had gone into panic mode when my grandma had gone M.I.A…. of how their frantic scouring of the woods had reached the end upon discovering her lifeless body laying amidst the blueberry patch, which she’d been harvesting.

With the bus’s diesel engine now roaring to life, the driver shifted into gear and pulled out from the station. The three of us moved outside to watch until mom’s bus, seemingly, vanished into thin air. It was now time for dad to drive us back home… a mere 12.87km / 8mi. Once inside the family car, my tears were now free to stream down my no longer “brave” public face.

Truth be told… I wasn’t even crying that much over the death of my grandma. Having only “met her” as a newborn, I guess you could say that I never really knew her at all.

Well… all the way home and for the entire afternoon leading up to suppertime, no matter how many times my dad and sister reassured me that mom would be back home in a couple of weeks, I was fully convinced that I’d never see her again.

And even though my father and sibling did, eventually, prove me wrong… nonetheless… that long ago separation anxiety still haunts me and can still evoke welled up tears.

If only I could successfully imprint my experience within the alleged mind of my homeland’s alleged prez. Might he then learn… second hand… perhaps for the first time ever in his life… how separation anxiety can hit home really hard? Might he then be able to separate the word “Zero” from his Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy? Might he then feel empathy… my total empathy… for the U.S. / Mexican border crossing / asylum seeking families who he’s been so ruthlessly and callously abusing for political gain?

 

 

 

 

Drugs ‘R’ US?

Might the Opioid addiction crisis, in part, be due to the unhealthy attitudes, which too often get programmed into our subconscious minds? While I’ve managed to steer clear of this prob, there have been too damned many opportunists, who’ve been doing their damnedest to make a druggie out of me… make druggies of us all.

• My age was still in single digits when I first became aware of the tobacco industry’s slick, spurious, multimedia, advertising campaigns crafted to BURY the truth about their addictive, deadly products and BURY their customers, too. They even used to sponsor the ABC network’s prime time kiddie cartoon TV series, The Flintstones. How an exec could’ve ever deemed it appropriate to huckster cigarettes to children had to have been that mercenary’s ‘tude… on steroids.

Of course, such crassness didn’t stop there. The nicotine pushers even colluded with confectioners… persuaded them to manufacture candy cigarettes… i.e., to corrupt kiddies long before they could legally buy the real deal. Back in the early Sixties, I had actually pestered my own father to buy me packs of those faux smokes. Dad had been conditioned so completely by that “smoking is harmless” nonsense that he was neither concerned about his own one+ pack-a-day cigarette habit nor his own son mimicking him / pretending to take drags off these candy coffin nails. Fortunately for me… but not for dad… my listening to him coughing up his lungs (for at least thirty minutes every morning) had completely negated the Madison Avenue ad-men’s “cigarettes are glamorous” fantasy. Of course, I didn’t wind up completely unscathed. The candy version’s sugar content did manage to decay my baby teeth. But far worse, since my father, eventually, smoked himself into an at least two decades too early grave, that prematurely deprived me of his company and counsel.

• Back in the here and now, I find it impossible to watch TV and read periodicals without being inundated by Big Pharma’s, direct to the consumer advertising blitzes. These freaks bombard us with their relentless sales pitches to extol the dubious virtues of their their, by and large, shoddy wares… namely, their barely FDA approved pills, potions and patches. They’re so adept at mind control that their captive, gullible (mostly layperson) targeted victims go rushing off, en masse, to the nearest medical complex to pester the crap out of their doctors… to beg for prescriptions for the latest rage “in-drug”.

It defies credulity that anyone would even consider any drug safe for human consumption upon discovering the typical kilometer / mile long list of (in fine print) side effects… inclusive of depression, diarrhea, loss of libido, cancer and even DEATH! Hmm… just for a moment, let us consider the slippery slope of such side effects… how they might affect patients who are, e.g., popping antidepressants. I mean, what could be more depressing than diarrhea, loss of libido and cancer? Will even more drugs be needed to cure the secondary ailments? Maybe even additional antidepressants to chase away the exacerbated depression? And what about the side effects that the new meds may cause… and on and on and on…

• Two summers ago, I suffered a minor injury, which necessitated a visit to my local Urgent Care Facility. My slashed thumb needed three stitches. End of story? NOPE! To facilitate my recovery, my doctor handed me a multiple paged, computer print-out of instructions… inclusive of a few paragraphs to inform me that, if needed, Hydrocodone… a.k.a. Vicodin… was readily available. Say what? A notoriously addictive, Opioid drug for such a minor injury? I wasn’t even in that much pain. I sure as hell did not want to mess around with THAT! Sure, I realize that toughing out pain is not always an option for everyone. Still, we must worry about anyone who’s so hellbent on getting high that they’ll jump at any chance to cop some legally prescribed, pharmaceutically pure drugs. To be sure, pain is no fun. But, neither is becoming a junkie.

I’m certain there are plenty of similar stories to tell. If you’d like to contribute your own observations to this blog, you are welcome to leave a comment.

 

 

 

Is That All There Is?

 

I hesitate to even type in that four-letter-word that begins with “sp”. Suffice to say…

This platform’s bloggers are already all too aware of the “comments” huckstering athletic shoes and Rx drugs to cure ED and nasty infections / STDs. Yet, I’ve got to ask…

1. Are not these products already readily available?
2. Is there really that great a need for this stuff?

If so, that’d certainly paint a bleak portrait of humanity. I mean… there’s got to be more to life than…

1. Jogging to the Pharmacy to buy “get frisky” meds
2. Catching the carnal flu
3. Jogging back to the Pharmacy for the cure