15 years and counting

Some things we wish had never happened.  The events of September 11th, 2001 changed my world and the world of my wife and kids in ways we could never imagine.

Other generations had similar events of war that changed their lives and all of ours for that matter.

My Dad was 11, my Mom was 8 when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.  I wish I had talked with them and discovered how that and our subsequent involvement in World War 2 impacted them.

All of my Uncles and my Dad served in the military as it was the thing to do.  Then came the 60’s and the beginning of public protests against our governments involvement in, well I was going to say foreign wars, but from what I read, (and barely recall), the 60’s were filled with lots of questioning of our governments actions.

What I recall in the days following 9-11-01 was a unity of Americans. The terror attacks were not aimed at Democrats, Republicans, men, women, straight or gay, or any particular sub-division of our citizenry.

It was against all of us. Our ideals, our freedoms, our lifestyles.

We are not the perfect country.  We have come along way and we still have a long way to go.  Hopefully we are not becoming the country that our Forefathers sought and fought for independence from in the late 1700’s.

My 1st wish is that we didn’t have to remember 9-11-01 because the attacks never happened.

But it’s my second wish that is more realistic.  That is a wish to set aside the political and social and (fill in the blank) differences and celebrate the freedom we have to have those differences.

Also that we talk and take responsibility for our own actions, behaviors and attitudes.

 

Hype & Ignorance

As I write these words we are in between the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.

We have had plenty of people talk about how wonderful and terrible Hillary/Donald are and how the only answer is moving to Canada.

But the topic of Hype & Ignorance applies to many hot topics unrelated to our current Presidential race.

I’m not aware of the bias of the news media when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s but I’m guessing there was less than we have now.  Walter Cronkite was Uncle Walter, the legendary CBS Evening News Anchor that told my family what had happened in the last 24 hours.  You watched it at 5:30pm, because that’s when it aired.  Catch it live or miss it was the only option.

The 24/7 news cycle that began with CNN and has grown to include other cable news channels needed to fill 168 every week with news and so more than what Uncle Walter could squeeze into 30 minutes each day was needed.

Eventually with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the doors were opened for more opinion oriented broadcasts on radio and TV, because the Federal Communications Commission did not require broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing views.

This ability to present just one side in broadcast media grew even further with the accessibility of the internet and eventually social media which has given anyone with a smart phone the ability to share their views with everyone.

No longer do we have a standard of truth to hold people accountable to present just the facts without bias.

This has led to both hype & sensationalism along with stubborn ignorance.

The polarization of the people on issues is a natural occurrence.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it develops naturally.  We tend to hang out with people we agree with rather than those we disagree with.  It feels better to be friends with someone you have something in common with versus someone you have nothing in common with.

The reality is that we really have plenty in common we disagree with, if we just have meaningful conversations that don’t dissolve into name calling.

  • The only way to resolve this is to learn what the bias is of the person or media that you are listening to/reading/watching.
  • Once you know the filter that the information is being presented through, you begin to see the Hype that is also going on to magnify and justify that position.
  • Then seek out the opposite or opposing view and see what they say about the same issue.  This is how you can combat Ignorance in your own life.

There is plenty of Hype on both sides of any issue along with individual Ignorance because of staying in our “safe zones”.

I urge you to do your homework and stop blindly agreeing with what others are saying. Become informed and determine your own opinions.  Or you may also find yourself with simply a greater understanding of the various issues and pick up some new friends along the way like I have.

Wanting To Understand

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is one that has been talked about, debated, and mostly misunderstood.

I have heard other white people talk about the concept as if it is a competition…

What skin color matters the most?

Wrong question.

We can not and should not ignore the past.

Nor can we ignore the present.

It’s only by looking at the past and present that the future will be different.

My city is populated by a majority of white skinned people.  We also have a sizeable African-American and Latino population.  Neither is as big as Detroit or Miami.

Our city schools are immensely diverse. High school E.S.L. classes (English as a Second Language) often have over 100 different languages natively spoken by those students each week.

I thought we are a melting pot.  But we’re not.  At least as much as I wish.

In the past couple of years I have had neighbors who were black and Hispanic. But they were the minority and the intermingling of families hasn’t happened.

30 years ago when I worked in Detroit, I had more friends, co-workers and neighbors who were black than I have now.  I had hope for a color-blind generation (my kids) who came home one day after playing with the neighbors kids and remarking that, “Josiah is black.”  It wasn’t a racist comment or even a judgement.  Her comment was simply an observation, like “7 is a prime number.”  She doesn’t remember the conversation because it was no big deal, but her parents remember it.

I recall thinking that I was raising my kids to be non-judgemental and un-prejudicial which I believe they are.

But despite this outlook, they have had different life experiences based solely on their skin color.

My kids and I myself will never be judged by the majority as suspicious or inferior because of our appearance.  If we are afraid of the cops, it’s because we were driving too fast or some other legitimate reason to be pulled over.

I really never thought of white privilege because I’ve had to work hard for stuff.  But as I look around I really don’t need to defend myself that way because it’s not a competition.

There are no laws or rules that can change human hearts.

It has to happen one at a time, person to person.

(There are some laws and rules that need to be revoked that allow or promote division.)

My saying #BlackLivesMatter is simply to promote a fairness and equity that I wish people of all skin colors believed… that skin color is not a way to judge someone.   Yes, #AllLivesMatter but that’s often used to counter the #BlackLivesMatter concept.

In every movement there are going to be extremist and unfortunately the bad ones get all the attention.

You and I have a power we did not have before in communicating on social media and not simply having to remain left in the dust when injustices happened to us or around us.

I really want to understand, but I also want to be part of the solution.

I believe that each generation will make improvements in race relations, but it takes both activity and time to change habits and attitudes.

One last thought.  A correction on something I used to say and I mentioned earlier in this article.  The concept of being color-blind pertaining to judging people by their skin color isn’t really the concept I want to promote because that use of color-blind is often mis-characterized as not seeing the differences.

Embrace the differences instead.  Learn from our differences.  Accept the differences, just don’t judge based on ethnic background.

Politics, Guns, and Prayer

Sometimes it is hard to stay positive.

We have the ability to expose ourselves to the news and opinions of others in such a manner that wasn’t possible a decade ago.  Some of the technology changes in the past year have given us exposure to stuff that wasn’t available in 2015.

I’m thinking of the live video feed on Facebook where a woman began broadcasting a police stop that went horribly wrong as her boyfriend is dying right next to her, her little daughter is in the car seat in the backseat and we see the police officer pointing his weapon and yelling.

I’ve only watched it a couple of times and it was on a cable news show Thursday night, but it is sickening.

The peaceful protests and marches around the country Thursday evening when I went to bed turned deadly after I was asleep and it was the gasp of my wife Friday morning when she turn on the news to hear about the police shootings in Dallas that prompted me to grab my phone and check the news.

We live in a country where there are lots of guns.

Most are owned by law abiding citizens or capable, trained law enforcement officers.

Then there are those that make the news because they broke the law and/or are not fit to carry a weapon.

It’s the second group, a much smaller group that paints such a grim picture of life in America.

The reality is we have always had this mixture of good and bad.

Taking away guns from good people is not the answer because then only the bad people will have guns and the rest of us are their prey just waiting to be shot.

I don’t know the answer to all of this because if it was easy to create a fool proof way to know the good folks from the bad, we would have done it by now.

There are plenty of simple cases of mistaken identity along with criminal activity resulting in having your identity compromised that has made this a complex problem.

By the way, for those that think this kind of thing only happens somewhere else, look around.

At last count, Fort Wayne has had 19 homicides in the first 27 weeks of the year.  Yes, we have a gang problem and that is part of the reason for those deaths.  But there are families and loved ones connected to each of those murders.

Another crime spree has been occurring in a neighborhood I used to live in on the northeast side of town as an arsonist(s) is targeting vacant homes and setting them on fire in the middle of the night.  Clearly not a good person.

As a person of faith as a Christian, I understand that this world we live in is filled with both good and evil and that ultimately I get to escape this chaos on earth to spend eternity in a perfect heaven.  In the meantime, I pray.

When nothing else makes sense, or you don’t know what to do… pray.

That’s been my method of coping with our government too.  I’m not looking forward to the next 4 1/2 years with either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as President of the United States.

For either one, it’s a power grab and while the Executive Branch has limited power according to our Constitution, I am not impressed that the other two, the Judicial Branch or Legislative Branch are doing much better.

I pray for our government leaders at all levels that they will earnest seek to do God’s will in their personal lives and in the responsibilities they were given.  I pray the same for our first responders and military.  I pray the same for business people and my neighbors.  I pray the same prayer for friends and acquaintances.

I pray for each member of my family, for my wife and myself, to earnestly seek God’s will in our personal lives and the responsibilities we are given.  And I take the time to thank God for the simple blessings along with the complicated blessings too.IMG_20160702_213304713

That’s how I regain a sense of positivity.  How about you?

Citizenship is the Gold Standard

On this 4th of July weekend in the United States there is plenty of talk about how we are a nation of immigrants and well, quite frankly, that conversation is one that is true but it’s the wrong conversation.

We all have hearts that go out to those around the world who are needing help. The question is what do we do about it?

Instead of having a conversation about legal or illegal imigration, perhaps we should be talking about citizenship.

Look at this:

The Value of Citizenship

The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. America values the contributions of immigrants who continue to enrich this country and preserve its legacy as a land of freedom and opportunity.

Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in an individual’s life. If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship.

Want to know where I got that? It’s from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, last updated 3 years ago by our government.

We have a system of immigration that allows people from other countries to come here.  Granted not everyone who comes here wants to be a citizen.  Some are here for a visit, the way Americans like to visit other countries.  Others are here for business, some are here for educational purposes.

We have some who are here for work and others who want to actually become a full fledged citizen of the United States with all the rights and responsibilities mentioned above.

If there is someone in the United States that is not a citizen of the United States, we need to know why they are here.  I just mentioned several legitimate reasons and if there is a reason that fits the criteria, fantastic!

But the undocumented combined with those that have gone underground after overstaying the terms of their visa, those are the ones that we, as citizen of the United States need to be concerned about.

When I was 20 year old I was not legally allowed into bars.  Yet that was the year I drank the most.  I lived in Kokomo, Indiana and went to a couple places with older friends and my age was never an issue.

Except when I went with my over 21 year old friends to a couple of nightclubs in Indianapolis.  The bouncer wouldn’t let me in.  Who was right. me or him?

My legal to drink friends had a plan and as I sat in the parking lot wondering what to do now, I heard one of them call my name from a side door and they snuck me in.

I was an illegal and in order to stay, I had to avoid the bouncer at the door which I managed to do until closing time.  As I walked out he glared at me and said something threatening.

We have a hard enough time determining who the bad folks are who are citizens.  Just like the night club has enough challenges taking care of the over 21 year olds to worry about underage drinkers.

Think about it and let me know your thoughts…

What I Don’t Understand About Conservatives

I’m confused.

Or maybe the “conservatives” are confused.

I thought that the main platform in the conservative movement was less government interference in our personal lives.

But time and time again, this isn’t the case.

Take the bathroom controversy for example.

Google transgender bathroom if you need to be brought up to speed.

If the conservatives would have left themselves out of deciding what bathroom a person is allowed to go in, this would not be an issue.  But the state of North Carolina decided to overrule a law or ordnance that one of their cities made about bathrooms and then the Federal Government decided to step in and play Big Brother to the North Carolina.

Problem is that the North Carolina conservatives played Big Brother first.

And now that the Feds are in the game, it pertains to all of the United States.

People from Portland, Maine to Portland,  Oregon and even here in the Midwest, like Portland, Indiana are now being effected by the Feds reaction to North Carolina’s reaction to what happened in one of their cities.

The so-called Conservative Party known as the Republicans simply are just another version of the so-called Liberal Party known as Democrats.

They’re all about the power and the will of their ideals.

Sure there are major differences between those two parties but both are too heavily involved in making rules for the rest of us to live by.

I took a test last night that I’ve take before to see which Presidential Candidate I should vote for.  You can take it too at: https://www.isidewith.com/ .

Libertarian candidates were at the top of the list when it gave me my results.  That wasn’t a surprise, I have found this to be the result in the past when I took that test along with a few Republicans that dropped out of the race this year.

Time will tell what happens next.

 

And then there was one

I work in media.  I actually sell advertising on a radio station with a News/Talk format. Not NPR, but conservative talk radio.  Some of the stuff I hear, I agree with, some I disagree with.

We begin each day with a 4 hour local news program that is jam packed with information followed by 3 hours of Glenn Beck, 3 hours of Rush Limbaugh, a 3 hour local talk show and then 3 hours each of Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

Those national hosts I believe are sincere.

I also believe those national hosts are adept at showmanship.  They know how to work their audience to push their views in such a way that they gain lots and lots of listeners.  Most of the listeners agree with a lot of what each host says but there is also a considerable number who disagree.  Doesn’t matter, these 4 guys, Glenn, Rush, Sean and Mark have a ton of listeners and have attracted advertisers due to this success.

The liberal counter balance that I listen to is often MSNBC and the hosts there including Chris Mathews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Laurence O’Donnel do the same as the radio hosts I mention.

One more thing about the work I do…  Because our radio station attracts so many listeners, smart business people advertise with us and with a news/talk format, we produce results.  I have some very liberal minded business people who spend money to advertise with me because the advertising works, not because of any political stance.

April our radio station was flooded with political ads.  When Indiana became an important state for the presidential candidates, that increased even more.  We had to bump some of our non-political ads for the political ones.  It was crazy.

Fort Wayne is the second largest metro in the state and we were also flooded by visits from 4 of the 5 campaigns.  Ted Cruz was here Thursday and again on Monday.  Bill Clinton came on Saturday and Donald Trump was here on Sunday.  Bernie Sanders packed them in on Monday too.

Sunday afternoon, I received an internal work email telling me that Glenn Beck was going to use one of our studios to broadcast his 3 hour show on Monday morning and so certain parts of our building were off limits.  As I drove to the radio station on Monday, I heard our morning show host on the phone with Donald Trump.

Crazy, crazy, crazy.

I voted early last week, 7 days before our election day May 3rd.

I got to sit back and watch all of this unfold.

As I type this, there is only one of the three Republican candidates left in the race as both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out.

Representing the Republicans in November will be Donald Trump.  Odds are still in favor for Hillary Clinton to be the candidate for the Democratic party.

There is another 3rd party candidate that my son-in-law reminded me about last night via Facebook that will be representing the Libertarian party.

Before I voted last week, I ranked 4 of the 5 candidates as follows:

  1. Bernie Sanders. I believe that he has been a straight shooter and honest.  His opinions did not flip back and forth, and when there was a position change, it was well thought out.  He stood on principles. Two things I like about Bernie is his desire to take big money out of elections and out of the running of the government; and his push for universal health care.  The health care system we have now is still broken and while it was never a personal priority for me, I believed that if the system was going to be overhauled, it needed to be done completely, not the half-assed mess we have now.  Our parents/grandparents had a sweeping change take place when Social Security was put into place and I thought we needed to bite the bullet and do something radical if the federal government was going to jump in.   Problem with Bernie was that it is constitutionally impossible for the President to make the changes he proposed.  Also Bernie was getting screwed over by the establishment Democratic party and their super-delegate system.
  2. Ted Cruz.  This is the guy I voted for. My second choice out of the 4.  He was the one who was most likely going to follow the constitutional powers of the president and hold Congress to do the same. My vote for Ted was simply because I wanted him to win Indiana and slow down the Trumpster. Yet I saw he doing plenty of dumb stuff leading up to the Indiana primary so I wasn’t surprised that he lost the Hoosier state.  I was surprised when I saw him quit.
  3. Donald Trump. He’s the guy you vote for while you hold your nose.  He’s a creation of the media that thought that if they exposed him, it would be the end of his campaign.  Instead, the media gave him so much free time and coverage that he didn’t have to spend much at all.  As I listened to his speech after winning in Indiana, he said his opponents spent 8 or 9 million bucks compared to his less than 1 million in campaign ads and yet he didn’t need to.   For me the only reason I would vote for Donald in November is to stop:
  4. Hillary Clinton. Sure, I’ve been influenced by the Hillary Haters.  But I have yet to hear a compelling reason to trust her.  She made her own mistakes that I won’t go into here, but when she lied about them, it simply reinforced my distrust of her as a leader of our country.

Not on my list at all was John Kasich, who turned into a caricature of a disillusioned candidate who thought he had a chance to be President but turned into a whiner.  Too bad because at one time, he was at the top of my list of these five.

With 6 months to go before we have our final election, we don’t know who will be our next President.  I know that I wish it was someone that would examine the Constitution and follow it along with holding Congress to their constitutional powers.  I’d also like to see the removal of all the influence buying in elections and in government.  And give me term limits and a flat tax too as I dream…

Here’s what I do know will happen. Hard Core Hillary fans and Hard Core Donald fans will vote for those candidates no matter what.

But how many of the Bernie fans will vote for Donald because he’s an outsider or how many will not vote at all because they were sold on Bernie, not the Democratic party?

Also how many Republicans will vote for Donald because they simply don’t want Hillary under any circumstances, or how may will vote for Hillary because they hate Donald so much, or will they stay home too?

Only time will tell.

Pray for those who are running and pray for those who are elected.