Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System High School Part VIII

My First Real Job/I get close with my dad:

Late in my sophomore year at Thornridge my dad’s company Union Carbide went on strike. Dad believed a man was not a man if he wasn’t working. Dad needed to work, so after his time on the picket line he looked for a job. The job he found was to change his and my life.  It was a small hot water heater company was looking for a machinist and dad got the job. I remember him telling me, “I was honest with him. I told him we were on strike and that all I could promise was eight hours work for eight hours pay.”   

TETCO Metal Products was a small plant that made hot water heaters in Riverdale. When the strike ended dad stayed on at TETCO and worded weekends and evenings for several years. He dearly loved working at TETCO. I often wondered what it was about TETCO that made him so happy. Looking back it, TETCO gave him a place where he could use all his skills and intelligence. It gave him a deep pride in his work a pride he never got at his union job at Carbide. In fact he worked harder at TETCO than at his full time job. I think the reason for this was Carbide was a job he had to have and TETCO was the job he wanted.  TETCO also gave him something he needed desperately, respect.    

Right or wrong dad never believed he was loved or respected by our extended family. He felt he was always being put down and that he was not really wanted.  I believe he may have been partially right.  I obtained his military medical records and personal file after he passed away. What I found has helped me to understand his feelings.  I often felt the same way growing up and his records helped to validate my own feelings as well, at least in part. Growing up it seemed as if Dad and I were always a step behind and to the left of our extended family. Very often especially in my younger years I felt mom had some resentment toward me. It was one of those feelings that made no sense.  Growing up I always felt loved but also felt some unease on the periphery of my consciousness. 

Often during my sophomore and early junior years I would walk from1530 University Ave down Greenwood road the four or five miles to TETCO to visit with dad. Sometimes I would hop a freight heading to the freight yards in Dolton. The tracks ran the west side of Greenwood Road. I’ll never forget my first hop. I had just crossed Sibley Boulevard and was walking down Greenwood when I saw the slow moving freight train. It was going just a little faster than I was walking. I remembered old movies where hobos often hopped the freight and sat in empty boxcars. I ran across the road and started trotting alongside the train. Then with a boyish sense of adventure I grabbed the ladder going up the side of the boxcar I was running alongside and I was riding my way into Dolton.  It brought me less than a half a block from TETCO, neat! Hoping freight became my means of transportation to visit dad until I got my license to drive.  

Being with dad as he was working, seeing him creating something out of a block of steel and the joy he had in doing a job well greatly impacted me. My dad had no union at TETCO but he did have skill and a joy in doing a good job. As a result he was valuable to Mr. Teters who paid him well and gave him more and more responsibility within the plant. My dad had something Mr. Teters wanted and my dad was happy to sell his knowledge and ability to Mr. Teters at a good price. I remember my dad letting me run a milling machine and bringing the cut to within 1/1000 of an inch.  He showed me how to use a set of calipers to make measurements and a feeler gauge.  One night I visited him and he showed me how to use a me use a spot welder then gave me two pieces of metal to weld together. Another night he showed me how to use a welder and weld using a welding rod by “carrying a bead” down two pieces of steel. The more I saw my dad work using various trades he had learned over the years the more it hit me that the more you know the more you are worth.

In my junior year dad got me a job as a janitor at the plant. I was to work his hours and he would be my supervisor. Mr. Teters and my dad showed me around the places I would have to clean. It looked fairly easy until we walked into the workers locker room. It was a room that would inspire revulsion in the most hardened janitor. Too say it was filthy, dirty and gross would be an understatement. As we walked into the locker room we passed eight commodes. Each more gross than the other. It was like someone had purposely spread feces over the porcelain parts of the bowl. Used toilet paper lay on the floor evidently some people are so lazy putting toilet paper in the bowl is too hard.

The locker room itself was filled with dirty pictures and magazines, for me the only good part of the whole thing. My dad saw my revulsion and smiled. Later, when Mr. Teters left for the day dad found me cleaning one of the offices. He took me to the men’s locker room and gave me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. “Do the hardest job first and remember” he said with a smile, “you can always wash your hands and shower after work, and it looks like you’ll need too." he went on, "Remember you are here on my recommendation don’t let me down.” Then he showed me the best way to clean the locker room, a power hose, rubber gloves, strong cleaning solution and a long handled brush. I’m proud to say when I was done the locker room and commodes never looked so clean. Neither did the offices and break areas. Throughout the first night dad kept coming to check on me telling me how to best do the work and making sure it was done properly.  After the first night except for an end of shift inspection he left me alone. 

Over the next several weeks the complements started to come, “This is the cleanest the locker room has ever been.” It amazed me that the men actually started to clean up after themselves. The locker room still needed cleaning and the power hose was more than useful but as long as I kept it really clean they helped to keep it that way. It was the same in the break areas and in the offices.

As I got better at cleaning I got done quicker. Leaving me a couple of hours a night to do my homework my grades started to improve as a result. Working and the complements of doing a good job gave me confidence; confidence inspired me in other areas.  I was changing. More important I was growing closer to my dad than ever before. We were not just father and son anymore, he was my supervisor, my mentor but more we were actually becoming confidants. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

High School Part VII

In the summer 1960 we converted from being non-denominational to Roman Catholicism. We took our instruction at St. Jude in South Holland. St. Jude had a young priest for the youth and an older priest, Father Naughton who was the lead pastor. I was taught about the church by Father Naughton a very down to earth priest. He taught me so well and had such an influence on me that he was the reason for my leaving the church in 1970. I really liked the Catholic Church of the early 1960s. It still had the Latin mass, The Pope was still infallible and people believed it. The Church condemned movies and books that were deemed as not appropriate for Christians. There was holiness about the way the mass was celebrated especially on high holy days. The three hour fast for food and the one hour fast for water before communion made communion even to a young man holy and meaningful. There was a morality and hope that appealed to me as a young man who was struggling with all those wonderful things teenage boys struggle with becoming men. The church was a rock something stable and unchanging in my life.

Father Naughton taught me that the church was traditional and historic. It could trace its lineage back to Peter the apostle who Roman Catholics revere as the first Pope. He taught me that the Catholic Church was the true church because it was the same yesterday as it is today and that God and His Church are unchangeable. Right is always right and wrong is always wrong. I was enthralled with something holy that could trace its origins all the way back to Jesus. At the time it seemed very logical that the Roman Church was the true church. Being a lover of history the Church’s celebrating the mass the same way for over a thousand years was very special to me. I was taking part in history and in something holy.  I was taught that as long as I went to confession and communion my sins would be forgiven after proper heart felt penance. It gave me a sense of hope that after being cleansed in purgatory I’d make it to heaven as would all baptized Catholics.

Those of us who attended public school had to attend High School of Religion at Saint Jude. High School of Religion taught about the inner workings of the Roman Catholic Church, the saints, what the mass really meant and well everything we would need to know to be good Catholics. We were taught that confession, a good act of contrition and penance followed by communion gave us a clean slate. The idea came to us that we could date on Friday night then go to confession on Saturday night do an act of contrition and penance then take communion on Sunday. Too our way of thinking what happened on Friday night could be confessed on Saturday and then on Sunday after communion we were good to go again until Friday night. The idea that all we had to do was confess, do penance and our sins were forgiven was to us the neatest thing. Every week we would have a clean slate!

It’s not that I dated much at all but I did have a couple of dates and boys will be boys.  When we dated we were after a “home run”. We as I’m sure most teenage boys do use baseball as a way of bragging about how far we got on a date. Most of us never hit a home run and getting to second or third was in our dreams only. Yet, if we even got to second we knew it was a sin so all we had to do was confess it and move on and hope next week the confession would be better. As far as I was concerned church was a matter of faith and mechanics. Sin then go to confession, perform penance, go to communion and have a clean slate, rinse and repeat. Perfect for a guy like me trying to get away with sinning and yet get to heaven. 

I was still having problems in school but not nearly as much as in grade and junior high. I even had the courage to fight a couple of times I lost one and almost one, one. My self-image was improving but I was still lacked confidence but I was slowing changing. Bullies mostly were in gym class and sometimes in the hallway and in study hall. Much of it could be avoided by being alert. In many ways being bullied and having to be on alert all the time in school saved me in Vietnam where being aware and on alert could mean life or death.  

I even stood up to some of the bullies once and even backed them down. I was always taught that girls and woman were to be respected. There was one girl who was being picked on they were calling her names and being very cruel to her. It was a beautiful spring day and we were eating our lunch in the courtyard between buildings. They started to pick on her calling her Cheetah, they made her cry. I don’t know why but I found myself telling them to leave her alone. It must have been the way I said it because they did. I may have paid for that later in gym class I don’t remember but looking back I think it was the confidence and knowing that I was more than willing to fight for her that moved them away. Sometimes it is not our ability but the confidence we show in it that really matters.

I as I mentioned before I was not the best student especially when it came to math and algebra both were required for graduation. I was so bad that I had to attend summer school twice.  I failed because I just didn’t like to study mathematics or algebra. Being a little slow I didn’t learn the secret of doing what you don’t like first to be done with it. So for two summers I had to ride my bike to Thornton about ten miles away for summer school. Dad and mom wanted to make a point, “You failed now you have to go to summer school and I’m not taking you. Ride your bike or walk but you get there and you better pass.” I remember they took some heat from some in the family, “You’re being too hard on him.” they said but I thank God that I had parents who loved me enough to make me uncomfortable. It was hard to ride my bike or find my own way to summer school but in the end it taught me a valuable lesson. I didn't learn the lesson quickly, (having to go to summer school twice) but I learned, there are consequences to failure, so don’t fail.     

Looking back my high school experiences, being in a small business making and selling bikes, cutting grass and washing cars, snow shoveling driveways and sidewalks taught me the value of working hard. Having to get myself to summer school taught me that poor decisions have a price and I am responsible for my poor decisions. These were the seeds of my later political beliefs.                   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unexamined Belief System Politics Part VI High School

High School Years

In the spring of 1961 we moved into a rented apartment at 15030 University in Dolton. Though it seemed we lived at 111 Street for years it was only a summer, fall and winter and part of a spring. The apartment on University was very nice it had two bedrooms a master bedroom and a smaller bedroom. My dad cut the master bedroom in half so my sister and I could share it. Once she got of a certain age I was moved out into the dining room. Girls after all need their privacy.

The apartment was within walking distance from Thornridge so in rain, snow, bitter cold and 90 plus degree heat I walked to school. There was never a thought of getting a ride from mom and certainly not dad. After all walking is how they got to school, “Why when I was your age I had to walk through knee deep snow to school wearing nothing but galoshes and an old winter coat.” There were of course variations to the story. Substitute rain for snow, or add in bitter cold or heat. 

Most days walking to school was enjoyable, a chance to meet up with friends and talk. Days when it snowed we had snowball fights on the way. When it rained or was too cold or too snowy we just toughed it out, we didn't melt or get sick. Now the very idea of walking to school in inclement weather is unthinkable. That rite of passage is gone for the most part. We do everything to protect our children from even the littlest hurt or inconvenience. Just riding a bike requires a helmet, arm pads and knee pads. We never would consider wearing those things when I was young. Getting hurt, cut, scraped and bloodied was a badge of honor especially for boys.

We live in a very hard and sometimes very cruel world. Those who cannot adapt or who are weak will not survive. Nor will a nation that is made up of weak people who are looking to be taken care of. We as a nation are rapidly losing our ability to care for ourselves. We are constantly looking to the government to solve problems we should be solving ourselves. If we continue to give up our freedom to be taken care of we will soon lose all of our freedoms and like those in North Korea singing the praises of our Great Leader who cares for us.

If there was one thing we knew in my father’s house it was respect for our elders, period end of conversation. If our parents told us to do something we did it or suffered the consequences. My dad use to say, “My children may not love me but they WILL respect me.” In the end I both loved and respected my dad and mom. I thank them for giving me the self-discipline to succeed in life. Without their teaching I could never have done or accomplished anything. My dad taught me that if I wanted something I would have to work for it. That teaching has led me to places I could never have gone or have hoped to have gone. Hard work  and education always leads to a better life.

Living on University Avenue was to be some of the best times of my life. The bulling at Thornridge was in many respects easier to take. There were three of us who didn't fit in with any group and we became friends. It’s easier to go through hard times with friends. One summer day we were fixing our bikes in an old shed by the garage and one of us suggested building bikes and selling them. The next day we went to the Dolton dump and searched through the garbage for bike parts. We found plenty. One man’s junk another man’s treasure.

Two days later we sold our first bike for $35 and our bike business was born. We used the old shed by the garage as our workshop. Throughout the summer we would take the parts from the dump and build a bike out of them and sell it. We got the frames and parts for free and sold most of our bikes at a $35 profit. We got so good at putting bikes together we could build two or three bikes a week easily. We advertised in the Shopper a local paper especially made for buying and selling unwanted or unneeded items. It was free and our only source of advertising.  

We all came from working class families and were taught that if we wanted money we had to earn it. We had pride in being self-sufficient in earning our own money. The bike shop was just one of the things we did. We had a grass cutting, car and window washing and general cleanup business. Every Saturday during the school year when the weather was nice and every day, almost, during summer vacation we went house to house offering to cut grass, wash cars and so on. We made very good money sometime over a hundred dollars a day to be divided among three of us. Because we all worked together we were able to wash several cars and cut several lawns a day. We even had areas set aside. On Monday we worked one area then on Tuesday another and so on. We instinctively knew not to work the same area every day.   

We loved winter especially really snowy winters. We would go door to door offering to shovel driveways and sidewalks.  Very often we made well over a hundred dollars a night. This was before the advent of snow blowers in every garage. Many men didn't want to shovel snow after a hard day’s work. Many times we would be walking by a man shoveling and get a job without asking. The three of us could shovel several houses during a three or four hour period.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System - Politics Part V High School

I graduated Junior High School in May 1960. Shortly after graduation we moved to Roseland, a suburb of Chicago. We lived in a coal heated third floor walk-up that was built in the late 1920's early 1930's. Every morning when it was cold I had to go down to the basement and take care of the furnace to get the coal burning and every night before bed I had to go to the basement to bank the fire so it wouldn't go out.  

Our apartment was located at 111 street just a couple of blocks from where I started school when I was five. It was like coming home to one of the happiest time of my early life. I walked right past my old house on the way to catch the bus to Dolton where I would catch the school bus to Thornridge. After school I would get off the school bus and catch the city bus home. I liked the anonymity of attending school in this way. I didn't have time for anyone to come to know me. There were no after school functions for me to attend I was a slave to the bus and I loved it. We used my aunt's address in Dolton so I could attend high school out of district.

My living at 111 street only lasted a couple of months.  Someone reported that I was not living in district as a result I had to move in with my uncle and aunt. So I could show I had an address in Dolton and was actually living there. I made some friends and was able to hang out with them rather than go home to Roseland immediately after school. I played “sandlot” football and other sports. High school was going to be great, or so I thought at the time. But one of the first lessons of life was soon to hit me right between the eyes was “You can run, you can move but in the end no matter where you go there YOU are.” Even though I was able to fake it for a time that kid that was bullied, who lacked confidence and who was afraid to fight was still with me and he was going to come out.

My parents thought there was nothing wrong with what we were doing i.e., me attending school in Dolton while living in Roseland. After all we were going to move to Dolton soon and they didn't want me to have to switch schools. Looking back over the course of my life I have realized this was the first contradiction of which I was aware and it helped to set my life’s course.  On the one hand we as low – middle income Democrats and strong union members believed the government was there to protect us, solve our problems, and help us when we fell on hard times. The government was also to keep the wealthy and corporations in line. However, when government rules were inconvenient we had no problem in bending them to fit our personal needs. Just like the privileged who were condemned for doing the same thing. It was an unspoken belief that if we, who were poor needed something and could get it be bending the rules so what! We had two standards one for regular people and one the wealthy and influential.  The one trait that seems prevalent in people is the double standard.  I have worked hard not to have one especially when it comes to people and politics. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System Politics Part IV

Being a poor student and being bullied

I attended Union Center grade school it was in many ways the best of times and the worst of times for me. There were two classes to one room and one teacher to two classes. We had recess in the morning for about fifteen minutes and an hour for lunch then recess in the afternoon. The school was set on a hill where sledding was great in the winter, we used cardboard and sleds we brought from home to slide down the hill, it was wonderful. Behind the school was a wooded area and we made lean-too's along the back fence. It could be bitterly cold and inside the lean-to it was as warm as toast. There was no such thing as being too cold to go out for recess.

There was an old red barn on school property where a farmer kept his tractor and such. We use to go behind the barn for boy things like smoking or at least trying too smoke. Everyone smoked then and boys being boys we had to try it. Like father like son. I was an average student for my first three years at Union Center I had friends and life was for the most part good, then came the kids from Wheeler.

When I entered fifth grade the kids from Wheeler came to our school and with them came three bullies, I'll call them Larry, Moe and Curley, (The nice thing about writing is you get to name your characters). Larry and Moe were brothers and Curley was their running buddy they took an immediate dislike to me. Over the next four years they would make my life a living hell. Yet through it all, although I didn't know it at the time they were making me into a strong willed self sufficient person and toughening me for the trials that lay ahead. But at the time the bulling not only affected my school work and life at school it also affected my home life and life with my extended family. The effect was in many ways devastating and in some ways still effects my relationships.

Yet in the end, I would not trade that time for anything. Looking back on all they did to me the telephone calls, urinating in my gym shoes, getting beaten up and all the harassment at school only served to make me stronger. In the end they were their own victims and I became the man I am today in part because of them and in part in spite of them.

I went back to Union Center the late 1990's or early 2000's to speak at the school for Veterans Day. When I walked into the school the school secretary remembered me from grade and junior high school. She informed that Larry had been arrested as a peeping tom and did some time in jail, Moe had been in jail but had turned his life around and now had a family and Curley could be found at the local tavern in Wheeler just about every day, he was a drunk. I really wanted to feel good about it but I felt sad. They too had been a victim of their own bulling.  While they got away with things in school in the end life and the law of return caught up with them. What goes around, comes around. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System- Politics Part III

Growing Up in the 50's 

While I was growing up I remember my dad working two sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Today, that would be unheard of, a man working two or three jobs while the wife stayed home and took care of the house and children but not back then. My dad believed very strongly a man to be a man must provide for his family. Though mom did occasionally work to get us over the rough spots she was mostly a mom to my sister and I. I remember coming home from school getting off the bus and running into the house to be greeted by mom. She would usually have some kind of snack ready for me, ask me if I had homework and then send me out to play until supper time. On cold or rainy days I could watch television, Mickey Mouse Club was my favorite.

There was a stability then. Each of us had our jobs Dad worked and "put food on the table, clothing on your back and a roof over your head." Mom took care of my sister and I this included being both doctor and nurse when we were sick. We didn't go to the doctor unless we were really, really sick. Mom also took care of canning our vegetables and berries and such for winter, did the laundry, cleaned the house, took my sister and I where ever we needed to go. We each had jobs and her's was to run the household, dad's was to work and ours was to do what we were told, period end of conversation. We were the children not little adults. They told us we didn't tell them. Mom and Dad taught us how to talk with respect to other people especially adults, who were called sir or  ma'am or Mr. or Mrs. there were no first names used toward adults.

I am often amazed at how parents are told by their children what to do. I would never have gotten away with that when I was a child nor as a teenager. My parents had a simple rule, "my house, my rules." very simple and to the point. As a result of those rules I never got in trouble as a child. My dad never had to bail me out of jail. Why? Because I both feared him and respected him and my mom. He was the authority figure in our house. I remember so often mom saying, "Wait until your father gets home." and living in fear of 3:30 P. M. when he would usually walk in the door. One time, I was sixteen as I recall, mom said, something and I said, "What are you going to tell me, 'wait until your father gets home?', out from the bedroom came my father. He said, "She won't have too!" He grabbed my shirt just under my chin then proceeded to lift me up off my feet. He said, "I don't care how you talk to your mother, BUT NEVER TALK TO MY WIFE THAT WAY!" each word was punctuated with a short jab to my chin with the hand with which he had grasped my shirt he made his point that way word by word. For as long as my parents were alive I never again disrespected my mother. Later he told me I turned white as a sheet when he walked out the door. I have no reason to doubt it. He scared the hell out of me literally.

We had a strong family where respect was demanded and earned. Children were children and had no say in what adults wanted or did. Unless we were asked we were not allowed an opinion, well we had opinions but we learned to hold our tongue early in life. There was a comfort in knowing mom and dad were in charge. I and my sister had a feeling that as long as they were there everything would be all right.  This feeling lasted up to and included the day my father passed away. There was something about him that demanded my respect and that made me feel as long as he was there everything would be all right. With all his faults and he had many he was still a man I loved and respected his passing left a vacuum that would never be filled. He has been gone well over fifteen years and I still miss him every day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System- Politics Part II

How my Political Beliefs Were Formed:

My mom and dad were traditionalists as was my whole extended family. There was a pride in working, in learning a trade. There was also a strong sense of self-reliance. My dad especially could fix or repair anything. There was not a car in our family that dad had not worked on at one time or another. Dad took pride in his work both at the factory and at home. He had a confidence that he could fix anything. He helped my uncle put a floor in his basement. He did pluming and electrical work, he worked on gas lines in the house. There was nothing he could not fix or make work. He taught me to be self-reliant to depend upon no one.

When I was in third grade we moved to Lake Eliza Indiana it was our first house. It set on an acre and a half. The house sat on a quarter acre the rest was to become our garden, a place to play ball and a place to raise chickens and even pigs. I remember spring, summer and fall being gardening time. My school ended in mid May and started in September after Labor day. My summer vacation consisted of planting, weeding and watering the garden every day. I also had to cut the grass on the house lot and the lot we had next to it. I had to feed the chickens, (Which as I recall we had quite a while) and the pigs which we had for the couple of months until they escaped, (More on that another time.).

After completing my chores the day was mine.  It usually involved riding my bike to Lake Eliza about 4 miles a way to go swimming, or to the Tommy Fitzgerald's petting farm. We could rent a horse for a couple of hours for two or three dollars. Funny there was no bubble wrapping us to ride our bikes. It was part of growing up to get hurt, bleed and have scabs to pick in front of girls.  We found a pond on one of the farmers fields and often skinny dipped there and cooked our lunch, made up of his corn and whatever be brought from home. When I was in third grade I hunted squirrels and rabbits with a 4/10 shotgun. I shot at a few but don't recall hitting any. Now in target and sporting clays shooting I realize not much has changed. We played army and had the most marvelous wars in the wood behind our house. We played army with BB guns and several times we had to dig a BB out of the butt of one of our friends. Thankfully our mothers never found out what  we were doing, you know its fun until someone looses and eye. The world was ours.

When strawberries, raspberries, blackberries came into season usually by mid June we picked them all summer long. Sometimes we would get up early in the morning and pick a bunch for breakfast. Mom and my aunt canned them or made the most wonderful pies , my favorite were the fried pies.  Over the winter we had no end of berry jam and jelly, berry syrup and just plain old canned berries for pies, I dearly love pie because it brings back the best memories of my youth.

Mom and my aunt canned our garden vegetables and we never knew what it was to buy canned vegetables until we moved into the city. If we needed meat we bought it at Tommy Fitzgerald's meat locker where we could buy a quarter of a steer or pig. We also got farm fresh eggs when we no longer had chickens. We were  mostly self-reliant for food. Looking back I realize that being in the city makes one dependent. Dependent on the grocery store for food, dependent on the government for water and sewer, dependent on the government transportation. The more we came/come to depend upon the government the more freedom we give up.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Unexamined Belief System - Political Views

Political Views, (No what do you really think?)


I was raised a Democrat and very pro union. I remember one of our family elders saying that "I'd vote for Al Capone if he was running as a democrat rather than a Republican." He went on as he often did, "Republicans are for the rich, Democrats are for the "little man." On and on it would go about how the Democrats always treated the worker better than the Republicans. These wonderful discussions usually lead by the Pater Familias and joined by all the adult males would argue the plight of the "little man", women were usually in the kitchen back then and rarely got involved in "men's conversation". The talk would range from how Unions protected the worker from the "Big Men", (I've really grown to dislike that term. But it is such a part of my memory of those days that I have to use it.) and how the Democrats had the "little man's" best interest at heart. 

Now, looking back on arguments I'm amazed at how true they were for the time and how false they were. I'm also saddened, that as a result of the "big man" "little man" arguments some of us accepted our fate as "little men" who never had a chance and so we never tried to climb the mountain. There were some however, who not only climbed the mountain but they made it to the top! These refused to accept that they could not achieve. They refused to accept mediocrity and just stay in their place and complain. In a sense there were two paths offered growing up stay a "little man" or achieve great things. I, until I retired, choose to be safe in a nice government job. While some of my more successful relatives choose to achieve and they did and so did their children! These very successful relatives set high standards for themselves and their children and success followed.   

Life is complicated.  Mom and Dad were children during the Great Depression, the singular economic event of the last century. The Great Depression changed forever the way people thought and acted . I remember growing up dad and mom telling me over and over again not to waist food and too clean my plate. I remember how mom could make a Sunday chicken last until Wednesday. Sunday, roasted chicken, Monday leftovers like Chicken Ala King, Tuesday maybe a chicken salad in our lunch and Wednesday chicken soup. This of course depended upon the size of the chicken some were big roasters other just fryers that would last only two days. I don't remember being allowed special dinners because I didn't like something. Dad would say, "This is dinner you will taste everything." Then we'd get the lecture of how mom worked hard to make dinner and we should appreciate what we have, "children in China are starving." And yes I did once suggest they send them my share, it didn't go well with me and my dad was not happy. I remember sitting at the table for quite along time before I finally got it through my head that I could eat my dinner in five minutes and watch TV or I could sit there for the rest of my life. I ate the food. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I am a Christian Part IV:

My mother Influence:

Several years ago the small group I led at our church started a Bible study at the Lake County Jail. The book we used was the “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. The first sentence in the first chapter reads, “It’s not about you.” The first time I read this sentence, I thought of my mother. She taught me that it’s not about me but others. It was a lesson that has taken me a life time to learn and I’m still learning it.
Over the course of my life I have been selfish, self absorbed and self centered. But the older I get the more I come to understand the example mom set for me. She, from as far back as I can remember, gave of herself. Unlike so many people I've known, mom gave without expecting anything back. She gave when even people she loved treated her poorly. It’s a trait that I've had to work very hard to emulate. Very often her example pushes me through those times when I want it to be “it’s all about me.”  
This is not to say mom was a perfect woman by any stretch.  She had a stubborn streak. When she got set on something, heaven and earth would move but not her. But her way of getting her way was quiet and persistent. Sometimes she would use someone close to her to facilitate her wishes. I’d often get a call from dad or someone else who would, after beating around the bush, tell me what mom wanted. Mom was one of those people I very rarely turned down. There is a special relationship between mothers and their sons.
One of her ways of making her point was her razor sharp tongue and her subtle way of using it.  It often caused me to laugh even while I was angry with her. She would say something that seemed nice or complimentary but a few days or weeks after, what she meant would really sink in. I’d be working in the garden and all of a sudden my head would fall off as I realized her compliment was really a zinger. Her razor sharp tongue had struck again. I have often tried to imitate her in this but just don’t have her delivery.      
My dad and mother were always there to help relatives and friends in need. I remember how over the years she would clean the house, cook and do laundry for family and friends who were sick or in need. She lived “it’s not about me.” When others made it, “it’s all about me” she never, to my knowledge, gave into being self-centered or self-serving.  My mother had a unique ability to forgive and only saw the good in people even those who treated her poorly.
Where my dad was an in your face “you got to hit’em between the eyes” Christian, my mother was a quiet example of the faith. Where my dad struggled with forgiveness, my mother forgave easily. Where my dad could walk into a room and in five minutes know everyone, mom was shy and took a long time to be comfortable around people. It was very hard for her to meet someone for the first time. But when she got to know them, they were friends for life and she had some very interesting friends. She never judged them. She accepted them with all their interesting traits and foibles. Over the years I have tried to be like her in this regard but have never come close to her ability to accept people just as they are. Though I try to be accepting I’m still rather judgmental.

            My mother and father taught me how to sacrifice themselves for others. I think the one thing they did that best exemplifies their sacrificial attitude was their religiously visiting my uncle who had been placed in the Kankakee State hospital early in his life. They persisted in visiting him throughout his life time taking their turn. Then as life and family issues caused some to stop visiting him they persisted in visiting at least once or sometimes even twice a month. I remember how over the course of two years I had one weekend free a month and would invite mom and dad to come on Sunday only to be told occasionally it was their day to go to Kankakee. One particular Saturday mom told me they couldn't come because it was their Sunday to visit my uncle. I got really mad and voiced my anger to her. She got mad right back and told me in no uncertain terms how blessed I was to have all I have while he had nothing but their visits. I felt about 1/8” of an inch tall by the time she was finished.

            Dad and mom were first and foremost a couple who desperately wanted to lead people to the Lord. They volunteered at the Seaman’s Mission at the Port of Chicago. They went once a week and sometimes twice for several years. Mom would stay in the Mission and run the store and visit with the sailors who came in while dad would visit the ships giving out Bibles. They truly lived their faith and showed it by their works.  Dad held a job in a factory as a machinist and worked among men who read every type of girly magazine available, who swore and told off color jokes. Yet in the midst of all this, he kept his Bible out on his work station. He read it at break and lunch and he led many of his fellow workers to the Lord.
Both mom and dad witnessed incessantly to relatives, sometimes to the point of distraction. Some stopped coming over to visit them because of their witnessing. But they never stopped trying to bring people they loved to Christ. Some have questioned the telling of my father’s faults. But my dad’s relationship with the Lord was strong as was my mother’s. My dad especially knew beyond any doubt that though others would not forgive him, his Lord and Savior would, as the old song “Just As I Am” says,

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bids me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

My mother had the same strong faith. Both wanted nothing more in life after being saved than to lead others to the Lord. I know and believe that my father would be very happy if his story would result in just one person coming to the faith, as would my mother.  
            It is my sincere hope and prayer that those who read this will come to know the Lord whose grace and mercy saved my father and mother. I know they would love to know that those who once rejected the faith would finally now come to know the Lord they knew and accept His grace and mercy.

Personal Note: These last three blogs have been one of the hardest things I've ever written. Its brought back some very wonderful memories and some very bad ones. But in the end it for all it cost it is worth it. I have remembered the greatness that was my parents and so much more. I have learned again how things really are and it doesn't matter.   I know that to honor my mother and father and my Lord and Savior even if I cannot forget I can still forgive and move on. My faith walk here is a long journey with a known end.
Next the easy things like why I think much of evolution is a crock, why I believe the Bible, and my political beliefs, (which will probably surprise a whole lot of people.). And throughout it all why I question everything.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why I am a Christian Part III

 My Father’s Influence:

The next two parts will be a much more difficult for me to write because it involves my relationship with my parents. They “got saved” in mid 1972 and both of them in various ways greatly influenced my walk with the Lord. Because of their influence upon me I think it is important to explain my reasons for not sugar coating my relationship with them.

It is always hard to write about someone you love especially if you are trying to give an accurate accounting of something, in my case my faith walk. One of my pet peeves is slanted history, history that only tells one point of view. History is, it is neither good or bad it just is.  I am to a great extent my parents and other relatives who have been a part of my life. Each has influenced in some way the person I’ve become.

We all have parts of ourselves that are unattractive but it’s our unattractiveness as much as our beauty that makes us who we are. As much as I loved my parents they like all of us they had parts of their personalities that were unattractive and parts that made them beautiful. I inherited many of their traits.    

My dad was a complex man who never stopped trying to be a better person. Sadly he failed more than he succeeded. He never learned how to heal from the hurts he suffered throughout his life. He was like the “Boxer” in Paul Simon’s song of the same name. These lyrics define him perfectly:

 And he carries the reminders, Of ev’ry glove that laid him down, And cut him till he cried out, In his anger and his shame, ‘I am leaving, I am leaving’ But the fighter still remains.”

He never learned to forgive and forget. He couldn’t resist picking at every wound he suffered and keeping them open and bleeding. But he was never satisfied with himself and was acutely aware of his failings. Through it all though he knew that he was forgiven by a Lord and Savior who loves flawed people just like him. He often quoted Ephesians 2:8 “it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God” and verse 9, “not by works, so that no one can boast.” He hung on to these verses as a drowning man hangs on to a life preserver.   

Sadly, grudge holding is one of the negative traits I’ve inherited from my dad. I’ve had to fight it all my life. Thankfully Susan, my wife and soul mate has managed for the most part to keep me from following in his footsteps, mostly. Yet there is always a part of me that like my dad wants to punch back at those who cross me especially after I’ve done them good.  

In the end however, I know I must act different from what I think and how I so want to act. I have to remind myself very often who’s I am, I Corinthians 6:19-20 says “you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I have found that being a follower of Jesus is not for the weak willed. Many times it is only by God’s grace and Susan talking me down that I don’t follow my urge to rip someone’s head off. Having been bullied in my youth it is very hard for me now not to beat the hell out of someone who irritates, pushes or threatens me.  I have found that withdrawing from such situations and people is the only way sometimes that I can maintain control of myself that and a lot of prayer.     

My dad was a force in my life he was one of the best men I ever knew and one of the worst. He could be kind and gentle but he was also at times selfish, self-absorbed and self-centered. He had a drinking problem that made him verbally abusive to those he loved.  Yet he could put it all aside to help a relative or friend in need and did so many times often without getting a thank you.  Yet he was always there to help even in some of the worst situations. 

His walk with Christ and mine paralleled each other. He was the anti-me. I didn’t talk much about my faith; he never stopped talking about it. He studied eschatology and was passionate about the end times. I wanted to learn about who God is and how He wants us to live. (Though to be honest I have an interest in eschatology and love to study it.) He use to say, “you’ve got to hit’m right between the eyes with the Gospel.” I believe example more than words.

In the end though was my dad who got me to really study the Bible for all its worth. At first it was so I could argue scripture with him and even win sometimes. Then after I learned it wasn’t about winning arguments it was about learning about God is that is really important that I developed a love affair with God’s word.

Next: My mother’s Influence

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why I'm a Christian Part II

Our Early Married life

After Susan and I married April 25, 1970, I was awarded the Medal of Honor. Shortly after receiving the Medal I was hired by the Department of Veteran Affairs as a Veterans Benefits Counselor and began work at the VA Regional Office in Chicago. Within six months I was transferred to the Great Lakes Naval Hospital to help returning wounded Vietnam veterans with their claims for disability. It was a special program to provide wounded service members a means of filing a claim for disability with the VA prior to being released from active duty. It was the best job I had ever had to that point in my life. I was able to help hundreds of wounded warriors get disability from the VA over the two years I was stationed at the hospital. I even got to assist some of the POW's when they were released.
Susan and I moved to Hoffman Estates which was a little closer to the Naval Hospital than Riverdale which was a suburb of Chicago located to the far south side of the city.  Hoffman Estates was an hour commute instead of the two hours I had before we moved. Every morning I left the house around 7:00 to arrive at the Naval Hospital at 8:30 or a little before. During the hour and a half commute I listened to the radio.

When I started the drive first from Riverdale then from Hoffman Estates I listened to music and the news. I got tired of the same old same old after a while and started station hopping hoping to find something that would fill the time other than music and news. I came upon WMBI and a couple of other religious radio stations. So I started listening to them on the drive to and from work. One of my favorites was "Through the Bible" with Dr. J. Vernon McGee it was a verse by verse study and I loved it. I also listened to “The World Tomorrow” with Garner Ted Armstrong. It was a cult but I didn't know it at the time. I liked Pastor Donald Cole of Moody Bible Institute who taught on Moody Radio for years. He also had a program where he answered questions about the Bible and faith.  There were many others and I listened too. Some just wanted money but others really got into the Word.

Soon after moving to Hoffman Estates Susan and I had our first child, Eric. He was born August 25, 1972 and we became a family. Eric was baptized at Sandridge United Methodist Church the church we attended in Hoffman Estates. Eric was a good little baby and the great joy of our lives. We attended church together and being the first grandchild he was a special little guy to his grandmas and grandpa. We soon out grew our apartment in Hoffman Estates and started looking for a new place in Waukegan much closer to work. As we were looking for a new place I joined the Army Reserves in Waukegan. More because I missed Army life and the reserves was as close as I could get and the money was also good for a struggling family.
While we looked for the perfect place in Waukegan for our little family I kept driving to and from work and continued listening to my religious programming. I also got into the habit of praying an hour a night. One night after listening to Pastor Donald Cole teach about spiritual gifts. I went into the bed room to pray.  As I was praying I asked God for spiritual gifts as Pastor Cole had said to do. It was around this time that charismatic spiritual gifts were becoming the new thing within the church. Pastor Cole taught there were other gifts that were integral to the church and church growth. those were the ones I sought.
As I was praying I felt a presence.  It felt as if it came down from the sky outside the apartment and entered through the window and into me. I could feel how it came I could almost see it. Immediately, I felt an overwhelming word welling up inside of me, Abba, Father came out and I immediately quenched the feeling without thinking of what I was doing. Then I wanted it back I wanted that feeling but it was gone. As quickly as I said those words and quenched it, it left me. That feeling, that experience has been something that has kept me through every trial, every back sliding and every questioning of my faith. I've never had that experience again though in times of trial and my falling away I have desperately sought it. In the back of my mind I know that I'll probably never have that experience or one like it again, but I think it is and was enough.
After it happened I stopped praying as much. It was as if I could no longer pray or spend time with God. I tried to continue but everything fell flat. I don’t know whether or not I was scared off by the experience or something else. I still listened to my religious programming and read the Bible and tried to spend an hour in prayer as was my habit at the time but it wasn't the same. My prayer time diminished to almost nothing. My reading became more mechanical and more about finding out things than learning about who God is and who Jesus and the Holy Spirit are.

The times were changing also. The Vietnam War was coming to a close and I was having some misgivings about the way our country was going. As the Vietnam War drew down causalities dwindled down to a trickle at the Hospital until there was no longer enough work for the two of us, my boss Dick Bush a WWII Medal of Honor recipient stayed and closed out the office then retired. In late 1972 I was transferred from the Naval Hospital to the Drug Treatment Unit at Downey VA Hospital, (Now the James A Lovell Federal Medical Center.). 
The Vietnam War was ending and troops were being pulled out and it had a great effect upon me. I remember being interviewed about the last combat troops being pulled out of Vietnam and how deeply pained I felt about all the lives wasted. Vietnam was becoming a part of history, a part that I would study over and over again but more on that in a different segment. I wasn't in the so called “dark night of the soul” but there was a distancing from God. I continued to learn and study the Bible but I was back to having a great void within me.
Part III: My Dad is converted

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System - Why I'm a Christian Part I

The unexamined Belief System is not worth Believing:

Why I'm a Christian Part 1:


It has taken me many years to become a follower of Jesus Christ. My journey to the faith began with many starts, stops and false trails. As a youth our family was deist more than anything. We had a belief in god but not God.  Growing up we attended churches but were never really involved in learning about whom or what God is and what if anything He demands. Church was something we did because we were good people and good people attended church. I attended Sunday school occasionally but never really understood what I was doing there. Except that it was a part of church for little kids.  I remember going to a church when we lived at Ely's Trailer Camp in Homewood I was part of a children's choir and learned Rock of Ages but that was it.  

I remember sitting in church as a young boy feeling bored out of my mind. It seemed time in church slowed down so that minutes seemed like days. When I was old enough my parents allowed me to wander around Valparaiso or get a soda at the soda shop while they attended church. This was after Sunday school which preceded church for both adults and children.   
In 1960 we converted to Roman Catholicism I learned about the faith from Father Naughton at St. Jude in South Holland. He taught me that the Catholic Church traced its history all the way back to St. Peter who was the first Pope. He taught me about why and how the Mass was conducted; about the history of the church and the Stations of the Cross among so many other things. I was taught the Mass was in Latin because no matter where I went in the world I could walk into any church and know what was being said simply by looking at my Sunday Missal. Father Naughton taught me that the church had been the same for over one thousand years and because it was the true faith it never had nor never would change. For me it was the perfect church. The rules were clear and redemption was assured. Confession and absolution made sinning something that was bad but fairly easily forgiven with a good act of contrition and penance. For a teenage boy it was sin then go to confession, say a good act of contrition, and then do your penance, take communion and you were good to go. Simple, easy and it made sense to me.

After I graduated from high school I enlisted in the Army and church became a means of getting out of things. We were allowed to go to confession on Saturday night and Mass on Sunday throughout basic training. It was a great way to avoid details and we could get out of the barracks for a few hours.  In November of 1965 I ended up in Germany after dropping out of Officer Candidate School. While I was in Berlin Germany I volunteered for combat Vietnam. It was in Vietnam that I really started to search for the truth about God. Combat and the stench of death have a way of making one consider what happens next.  I attended combat Mass regularly. We had a good down to earth priest who came out after a firefight and before we went on a mission. I liked him. His sermons were more talks and encouragement.  He would say the Mass give a short homily and spend time with us then leave.

While in Vietnam I wore a St. Christopher’s medal, a scapula and a rosary around my neck. I said my rosary almost every night when I wasn't on OP (observation post) or ambush. I read the bible which I carried over my heart. But I also read the sayings of the Buddha, Confuses and Mao. I read the “Little Red Book” the sayings of Chairman Mao quite a lot. 

In January or February of 1968 I was transferred to the rear detachment at An Khe because I was put in for the Medal of Honor for action on December 15, 1967.  One of the other men who was in the rear was into Scientology.  We became friends and he started to talk to me about how he started to study Scientology. He loaned me his book “Dianetics” by Ron L Hubbard I read it and was fascinated with its approach to becoming a better more self actualized person. One not weighted down by life’s traumas. When I got to Fort Hood Texas after Vietnam I went to the Scientology Center in Austin and bought the book for myself. I read it over and over again I studied Scientology until the early seventies when I realized it was a bunch of crap.
I had an unshakable feeling that there had to be something more than the legalism of the Church that something was missing in my life. I loved the simplicity of just doing what the church said I didn't have to read the bible or even learn about it the church did it all for me. All I had to do to be saved was to obey the laws of the church and attend mass and make my Easter duty. But then I got back from Vietnam and everything I knew and loved about the church had changed. Saint Christopher was no longer a Saint! His medal that I wore around my neck was nothing! I had the feeling that somewhere in heaven Saint Chris was having coffee when some angel walked up to him and threw him out. The Mass had changed the altar now faced the people as did the priest. The Mass was in English and there were guitar Masses. Gone was the holiness and mystery of the Mass. I was deeply troubled something cannot be both true and false at the same time.

If the church is true then it doesn't change to fit the norms of society if it does change can it be true? My answer was simple like everything else man made the church was flawed. And in my mind everything I was taught by Father Naughton was suspect. It was simple, for me perfection is forever it doesn't change. If the church changes it’s not perfect. If it’s not perfect it is imperfect and what I was taught was false.  If the Pope is infallible when he speaks ex catherda, then what he says concerning matters of faith is considered the word of God and is binding on earth. However if the pope in the early church made the mass one way and confession one way and another pope changed it is the pope really infallible. I knew that something cannot be both true and false at the same time. I also knew that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow we change He doesn't. All of this caused questions to arise about my Catholic faith I started to have doubts.

It was during this time that I started to read about spiritualism.  I read some of Edgar Cayce’s books. I read Jean Dixon’s books and prophecies. I became fascinated with books about lost continents and civilizations. I even read the Book of Mormon or parts of it. I still attended Mass and read the bible but nothing really made sense to me anymore.

My search for God really got serious while I was at Fort Hood. I don't recall a time when my heart cried out more for God than that 9 months at Fort Hood. Occasionally I walked through a field on my way back from town. It was on a mowed slope I could lay on my back see the lights of Fort Hood and the stars and moon spread across the sky it was beautiful. Occasionally I would lie on my back in the middle of it and look up at the stars, smoke a cigarette and pray. I really wanted to discover who Jesus is.
I even went to a “Serviceman’s Center” to talk to one of the men there about Christ. I wasn't impressed with his ability to explain the why of the faith. The Why of everything is very important to me. So I determined to find out for myself who and what Jesus is or was. I read the “Passover Plot” and “The Incredible Christians” two popular books at the time that argued against Christ and Christians. I read them as a counter point to some pamphlets, papers and books I read. But none of them really spoke to me.Yet, the great Why still pushed me to learn more and read more about God and gods.

It was a confusing time for me. I remember one inspection where my lieutenant looked in my foot locker and was shocked to find my Bible neatly stacked on top of my Penthouse. I’ll never forget the look of horror as he asked me, “What in the Hell are you thinking Sergeant Lynch! How can you put a the Bible on top of that filth?” I don’t remember what I said but I do remember him shaking his head as he walked out of the room. I passed the inspection though.

I got out of the service in 1969 and went back to Dolton Illinois where I found a job working for UPS. I didn't fit in with the company and after one particularly hard day I quit. I tried several times to get my old job back at Libby McNeal and Libby the place I worked before going into the Army. I remember going in several times to apply for a job and after being told there were no jobs available by the personal secretary, my future wife Susan. I tried one last time and I was hired seems I had re-employment rights. Over the next several months I kept running into Susan in the plant and after seeing her several times we started dating.
We fell in love and got married. During our courtship Susan asked me to attend church with her at the Ivanhoe Methodist Church she attended. I started to attend church with her regularly in the months before we got married. On April 25 1970 we were later married by Reverend Sheppard the pastor.  I started to learn about Jesus and what His death on the cross really meant. I studied the bible more and learn about God the Father and his plan for redemption.

Attending church with Susan was the start of my walk of faith. Over the last many years I've fallen and walked away from the church. But I've never walked away from God or his Son. In the back of my mind as I've gone through all my various failings and stubbornness I have always known that God is at work in my life.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Comments on Current Events

When they told me the rich were not taxed enough I thought, “Good! They don’t need all that wealth.” and they should share what they have with the rest of us. How dare they have more than I have?  I did get a little upset though when “the rich” were defined as anyone making over $70,000 a year. I thought the rich made a lot more but the government knows what it’s doing now that the right people are in power.

When they closed the Roman Catholic hospitals and made them public medical centers because they would not give out birth control devices or perform abortions. I thought, “Good! People need such things and all hospitals should provide free abortions and birth control devices to whoever wants or needs them. Besides don’t we all deserve free medical care and isn’t abortion a medical procedure? ” I just don’t understand why so many doctors have stopped practicing medicine. I mean requiring Doctors to perform abortions and helping old people to die seem fine to me. I mean life is for the living not the old and infirm. 

When the state closed the churches that wouldn’t allow gay pastors and teachers or recognize gay marriage I was happy. I’m a Christian but I don’t believe God really meant what he supposedly wrote in the Bible. After all it was written by fat old white men thousands of years ago and things have changed. So who cares if a few churches are closed when they don’t preach or teach what we all believe. They are so very narrow minded anyway and such a silly beliefs. I mean isn’t god all about love?  

When the state closed small business because the owners dared to think differently than the rest of us and had the audacity to express those thoughts publically I was happy. The very idea that someone would dare to think differently and hold such archaic beliefs like not believing in gay marriage and abortion and believing we are created by god! Well really why can’t people just fit in?  Oh they said they obeyed the laws of the land but there is the spirit of the law which they didn’t really ever have or believe. We the people require more than just obedience in this country. Freedom of speech and freedom of thought does have its limits after all. Sure they hired and promoted all the right people but, well they just cannot think those things and having the audacity to express those terrible thought in public, well good bye and good riddance.

I love living in a land where my freedoms are protected! We have free speech mostly. I mean I can swear anywhere I can even look at porn on the train and wear medals of valor even though I’ve never been the service like those few dopes who did serve. But there are words that just should not be said you know like the “N” word; the “C” word, the “B” word, the “K” word, the “G” word, the “H” word, the “A” word and other hurtful words just don’t need to be said anymore. I check the list every day just to make sure I don’t say any of them. Those who say PC restricts our freedoms are wrong and should be fined or worse. I’m happy that some of them are even being reeducated now. After all we are an enlightened people. 

I love our freedom of assembly and our right protest as long as those assembling are protesting or supporting the will of the people as defined by the people. I like that we can, during our protest get away with tipping over cars and breaking store windows. It’s a way of re distributing wealth. After all I deserve a nice car and fine clothes. So if I can’t have them why should anyone else have them?

Well I’ve told everyone how I feel guess I’ll go back to my school work. Thanks to the new taxes I’m able to go to school for free. Hell, I don’t even have to study because everyone gets a pass or fail and because the government has realized getting a fail makes us feel bad those are rarely given. The best part all I have to do for my education is serve two years in a local community service project and they even give me a place to stay, a cool uniform AND PAY ME!!

Funny thing though, a lot of stores have closed and we now have underemployment which is great right? I mean everyone who wants a job has one and now because of the Unions effective lobbying we all make, well all who work make at least $20 an hour the new minimum wage. So now everyone who works makes at least $70, 000 a year. So it’s all good right? I just don’t understand why my EIC (Enhanced Income Check) is late. It’s probably another strike by government workers seeking more money or more time off again. Well just so my check comes soon. My checks have been late the last several months. If this keeps up I may have to work. Nah, the rent for my apartment is paid by the county and I get resource stamps for food and my medicinal pot. I’m sure glad they changed the name from welfare to resource benefits. Welfare made me feel bad.

Note: Get this through the PC checkers to insure I haven’t made any politically incorrect statements then published on my blog.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unexamined Beliefs are not wroth Believing

There are many in my life children, family and friends who think they know me so well that they know how I think and what I'll say in conversation especially in the area of politics and religion. In a recent discussion someone close to me told me she knew how I thought and what I believed. I told her she had no idea of what I was thinking nor did she have any idea of what I believed and why I believed it or for that matter how I came to believe what I believe. The conversation lead me to evaluate my beliefs and why I believe what I believe. The next several blogs is a discussion of my beliefs and how I came to certain conclusions.

How we come to a belief is more important than what we believe. It is the process of why we believe what we believe that defines who we are. If we accept something simply because of family values or in rebellion to those values, wanting to fit in, or because it makes us feel good then our beliefs and what ever research we do to support them is skewed by presupposition and therefore what we believe is based upon on feelings not fact, emotion not logic or reason. They are a mile wide but an inch deep.

History is replete with examples of people believing and accepting things that are false. Slavery in this country was based upon a systemic belief that the negro race was inferior and subhuman. As a result of that belief this nation who's core value is, "all men are created equal" enslaved other people because of a false belief that the enslaved were not really equal. This racism was supported by a great part of our government, (including state governments) and  lasted in various forms from the birth of our nation through the greater part of the last century. Though racism exists today such beliefs are held by individuals and not civilized governments.

The Nazis convinced the Germans and other Aryans to believe that Jews and other non Aryan races were inferior and should be exterminated or enslaved along with other  "untermenschen" the mentally ill, those born with birth defects and such. As a result many Germans who in all respects were good people murdered millions because they really believed it was the right thing to do.  They went along with what their leaders told them to believe without question except by a very small minority. Who were often marginalized or simply killed.

Many in the early part of the last century thought that social Darwinism called for a purging of the inferior to strengthen the race. After all they said we are intelligent animals who should follow the laws of evolution, survival of the fittest. There were many who called for a Darwinist society where the strong benevolently ruled the weak. One such belief held that those who were not productive members of society should be mercifully destroyed and some held that inferior races should not be allowed to reproduce. 

Going along, believing something because everyone else believes it is in the extreme dangerous and at the least foolish. The bible says prove and test all things. I never accept something simply because some expert or group of experts say so. I believe today more than at any other time in our history we must never accept anything on its face without first making sure of the facts i.e., determining the motivation for what is being put fourth, who benefits and how and knowing the science behind the theory. When someone tells me a certain thing is now fact I want to see opposing views. I must always ask why, how and how do you know this is true. I also want to know the politics behind the hype. I also need to follow the money and power i.e., who benefits, how do they benefit and how much.

I think one should know what they believe, why they believe it and be able to articulate their beliefs in a cogent argument based upon a  thoughtful exploration of the subject. Further I believe one should be able to express those beliefs in their own words without reliance upon, though not excluding, sites of other works. Personally I like to explore opposing views before coming to a conclusion. Then form my own decision on the subject based upon those views.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rebublicans snatching defeat from the jaws of Victory

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the Republicans are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The numerous debates, the ever increasing vitriol of the candidates remind me of a feeding frenzy of sharks, each feeding on the other. As soon as one of the herd gets a head the others rush to point out his faults doing the work of the Obama campaign for them. Nice Job!  Then we have the numerous debates which at the start were informative and issue based but have evolved into pointing out each other’s pimples.

The Republican Party seems to have lost its way. They remind me of a ship adrift. Its engines are dead, the rudder is stuck and there is no captain guiding the ship to fix and repair it. They have lost their ideals and have focused not on the country but on getting power in the congress and the presidency.  Rather than have one candidate they have a whole herd of them each biting and scratching to get to the nomination. Rather than fostering a national debate on the issues and pointing out how Republicans and Democrats differ they fight among each other showing a complete lack of unity. Rather than focusing on a national campaign for the hearts and minds of the American people they are showing that some of their candidates will do and say anything to win.

Even conservative pundits like Ann Coulter and Michael Medved have lost their way by backing a candidate who wants to be president and will change any of his former beliefs to achieve that goal.  They bloviate on how he is the only electable candidate as if that is the only reason to vote for him, it is not. Clearly they do not understand that it is better to have a party controlled congress than a presidency. In fact, in recent history control of the congress with a Democrat President worked quite well for the American people.

THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE A Perspective Chapter 1:  It All Starts with God, continued “You were made by God and for God – and un...