One Minute for Peace…..

If Only we in the U.S. spent even a minuscule amount of  what we spend for our wars to promote peace…

I want to direct you to a website promoting peace instead of war.  OneMinuteForPeace.org from the American Friends Service Committee. As the site states in the previous year the United States has spent over $1 trillion of military spending. That comes out to almost $2,000,000 every minute! It is sad to say but we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined and many many times more to fund our wars than we do to promote peace.

 

The graph above from their website shows the total U.S. discretionary spending. It is shameful that our war machine takes up so much of our spending.

The AFSC is part of the Quaker faith tradition and is world famous for their peace initiatives. In fact they have received a past Nobel Peace prize for their activity. They go throughout the world helping those who are destitute and/or ravaged by wars. They are trying to raise the amount of just one minute’s U.S. military budget for those initiatives. Please consider giving them some of your resources. It is too bad that small organizations like the AFSC must do the bulk of the peacemaking work when so much is spent of war and destruction.

I find it amazing that many in government say we are spending our grandchildren into poverty while at the same time putting the biggest budget item in the “no cuts” category. It saddens me more to know that so many people who call themselves Christian seem to celebrate that fact. If only we in the U.S. had even a small fraction of our passion for peace that we seem to have for war we could indeed call ourselves our brother’s keeper.

And the journey goes on….

The Bi-weekly Haircut…..

I just got a haircut recently and a memory came back to me from my childhood. In order to get it back where it belongs on the far fringes of my memory I have to post it here. I don’t have nearly as much hair as I did back then and I get it cut much less frequently now. But it was a tradition for several years that I always got my “Hollywood Burr” hair cut every two weeks. It was a neighborhood tradition for several years.

The man living just behind us named Mr. Harmon was a barber in the army so he knew a thing or two about cutting hair. The first thing was to cut it quick and the second was to cut it short! I guess in order to supplement his income, although I don’t know what he did for his main job, he opened his garage every Saturday morning and all the neighborhood kids would line up for their 35 cent haircut. I think he managed to buzz through about twelve kids an hour. Mr. Harmon always told the parents “if it is not short enough bring them back and I will make it shorter at no expense.”  I know Mr. Harmon had two boys himself and it seemed their hair never grew by more than an eighth of an inch before they were in the chair. It is strange that I don’t really remember much about his boys but I remember him with his hair trimmers in hand every Saturday.

Above is a picture from those days. I don’t seem to have any pictures of Mr. Harmon or his kids but I did find this one of me and my brothers and a friend a couple of doors down named Denny Cannon. I’m not sure what we were celebrating but it looks like we were having a pretty good time. That’s me the third one from the left. Notice my freshly cut hair; the photo must have been taken on a Saturday 🙂 Notice the brick wallpaper in the background; that was quite the thing in those days. Ok I think I have penned enough here to safely put this memory back where it belongs.

And the journey goes on…..

My High School Years…..

 

This is my first post about my high school years. Since I want to make this a series I will only give you a small slice of those years here. I went to high school in the small town of Monrovia Indiana. I started there in the eighth grade in 1960. Before Monrovia I went to a Catholic school in Indianapolis. I can still remember the culture shock I faced those first days of school! I quickly realized that these were not nuns who were teaching me now.

First of all the school I was starting in was built in 1893. The steps and many of the corners of the hall way walls showed the signs of the thousands of kids who had preceded me into the building. There were simply no sharp corners left in the building. Everything had been rubbed smooth by the previous generations. I learned later that you just couldn’t sneak around between classes as you eventually stepped on a floor board that would make a load creak.

My first and probably the most dramatic episode involving culture shock occurred as the student hall monitor was taking me to my first class. We were walking down the first floor hall. Since it was during class hours we were the only ones in the hall. That is until I heard a door slam open and a student desk come flying out into the hall. That would have been traumatic enough but there was a student in the chair at the time! It seemed that Mr. Schuler, the local farmer/history teacher just could not tolerate anyone sleeping during his class. If you did you were quickly shown the door with your desk and all!

In the years that followed Mr. Schuler proved to be one of my favorite teachers. I certainly learned to appreciate history under his tutelage and have been regularly reading books on it since those years. But he just could not tolerate people who slept while he was trying to teach them. Once I adjusted to the new culture level of a rural public high school I had many memorable moments in the creakity old building. A few years after I graduated they built a new high school and the old building, my alma mater, became a place to store hay. That is before they finally tore it down. Go Bulldogs!!!

And the journey goes on….

Born Deaf vs Late Deafened…

I think of my deafness as an affliction that I must daily try to overcome in order to go about my business in the hearing world. That is not the case with some, perhaps most, who are born deaf. They claim they celebrate their deafness to the degree that they deem giving any child who is deaf a cochlear implant is child abuse! A cochlear implant is a device that is surgically inserted into a deaf person’s hearing system to allow many of them to hear.

The deaf who strongly identify with their deafness are know as the Deaf Culture with a capital “D”. As I said above they celebrate the deafness and do not wish to join the hearing world. In large population areas they, like many minorities, tend to associated primarily with others like themselves. Where possible they shop at deaf retailers, get their haircut from deaf barbers, etc. There are some who are late deafened who choose to join the Deaf culture but they are by far the minority of that culture. In fact many who are born deaf hold an animosity towards those of us who went deaf after being fully associated with the hearing world. One of the reasons for this is that we use English Sign Language instead of ASL. They say we are polluting their language by putting it in an English word order. Don’t get me wrong; those who have an animosity toward other deaf people are an extreme minority of the population much like the 9/11 terrorists are an extreme minority of the Muslim population. (I am definitely not saying the Deaf culture folks are terrorist so please don’t go there.)

In my experiences many in the Deaf Culture crowd see their population constantly dwindling each and every year due to cochlear implants and other medical advances. They seem to see the writing on the wall that soon, probably within a couple more generations, they will be a much smaller group than they are today. This greatly threatens their way of life. In that regard I can understand their feelings and have a degree of compassion for them. But life must go on and in the hearing world.

And the journey goes on….

If Only We Had Taken Jesus’ Words Seriously

 

When Jesus was on this earth he told us numerous times to be one as he and the father were one. If only we had listened and taken his words and life’s lessons seriously.

I read recently that the very popular Christian author Ann Rice is giving up on all current Christian denominations. In the interview she stated that she is not giving up on Christ, just the present day organizations that espouse to follow him. She also said that there is just too much of a tie between Christians and worldly kingdoms; particularly those in the U.S. I personally went through much the same search that she has. I have searched and searched for a group of Christians who can separate their political beliefs from the Christian principles. Far too many entangle them together to the severe detriment of both.

As mentioned before I spent four years studying scores of denominational theologians to try and discover if any of them strictly followed the actual words of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. To my dismay I found almost the opposite to be true. Some prominent religious authors from today’s largest Christian denominations believe that every word in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments were the direct words of God and therefore are literally true and without a single error. They go on to say that none of the words in the Bible more important than any other. When I talk about the words of Jesus I frequently get the same mantra, “all the words are the words of Jesus”. But in studying the words of Jesus, he himself  showed us that that is just not the case. He frequently used the comment “You have heard it said (meaning it is in the Jewish bible) but I say to you”. In other words Jesus was saying the their current bible was wrong and he was about to set them right.  He had his harshest words for the religious establishment of his time. I think he might have similar words about much of the religious establishment today. I’m sure he is truly saddened that we Christians have divided into over 35,000 separate groups/denominations since his time. I take the Bible seriously, at least the New Testament part, and I believe those who meld the words of Jesus with all the others do more damage to his teachings than they realize. The words directly attributed to our creator must take precedence over even the most fervent followers that came after him.

If only we were one as Jesus told us to be. This saddens me greatly.

And the journey goes on…..

Learning Responsibility…

I grew up in a small town in Indiana and spent my summers putting hay in farmer’s barns at ninety cents and hour. But it wasn’t until my college years that I started learning real lessons in responsibility. Dad had tried to teach me about responsibility but like most teenagers then and now I didn’t really want to know that much about it. I started my first year in college with almost enough money to get me through the first semester. Where the second semester and beyond money would come from I had no idea.

Dad was a milkman at the time and simply didn’t have any extra to give me. I had tried the scholarship and student loan route but since my mother’s then husband made so much money I officially did not qualify for a loan. It didn’t matter that Mom had abandoned us years before and just didn’t seem to be in the mood to help me out with any of my college expenses. So, for the first month or so of college I was looking around as to where I might be able to get a job to pay my college bills. A guy down the hall in my dorm worked in the dormitory cafeteria and suggested I try there. I was a very shy kid back then so it took me another week to get up the courage to go in and apply for a job as a waiter. To my surprise they actually thought I could do the job and they were willing to pay me $1.10 per hour to do it!

This was probably the first time in my life that I felt responsible for myself. Before that Dad always took care of things. It is true that I had to earn my spending money from a young age but I always knew that Dad was in control of the safety net that provided me with a home and food. At the time I really didn’t understand just how tenuous that safety net was and how many time it was almost broken. But that is another story.

By taking this job I was indirectly acknowledging that I was now responsible for my own circumstances. In order to make enough for my expenses I ended up working about forty hours per week in the kitchen and then various full time jobs in the summer. Forty hours proved to make it almost impossible to carry a full academic load so I ended up taking five instead of four years to graduate. But I did make it to that fateful day of being the first one in our family to graduate from college. Those years at college were some of the toughest times but they were also some of the most enjoyable. I didn’t have much time or money for socializing and I missed out on all the political unrest of the 60’s college campus but I did learn my lesson of responsibility that would stick with me for the rest of my life.

And the journey goes on…

Being alone in the world…

 

I know that I am not the only person in the U.S. who is deaf. In reality there are more than three million of us around. About two million of those are like me who went deaf as an adult. That means for Indiana where I live there are about forty thousand of us around. But since I am not active in any deaf clubs or organizations I seldom come across another deaf person in my daily life. When I do I am most often too surprised to try to effectively communicate with them. So, to me being deaf almost means being alone in the world. I am constantly around only hearing people.

When I first realized that deafness was the reality for me I indeed felt alone in the world. My ear doctor of several years basically told me that there was nothing else he could do to save my hearing so “please go away”. He did not offer any referrals to groups or such that could help me cope. I got the idea that he thought of me as one of his failures and he wanted me out of this sight as quickly as possible. As I later learned from other late deafened adults this was not an unusual scenario with a ENT doctor.

Up until that time I did not have any friends, family, or acquaintances who were hearing impaired. So, I like most other hearing people didn’t realize that those who were deaf in later life were just like everyone else except they couldn’t hear. I had read stories about how deafness caused severe depression in some; even to the point of thinking of suicide! I very much dreaded the day that I would lose the last bit of hearing. I felt very much alone in the world. The only support I seemed to have was from my dear wife and, of course, she knew no more than I did about what I was going to face.

Here it is 22 years later and I did survive those years and everything turned out fine. At least for the most part. I did go through some periods of depression but managed to cope with them. I found support groups in the early years although I have not made contact with many of them for more than a decade. Yvonne and I learned signed English sign language. Over the years I have accumulated all the various technologies that help me cope. Do I sometimes still feel alone in the world. You betcha. I often say that I feel the loneliest when I am in a room full of people. More on those things in later posts.

And the journey continues….

I Believe:


  • I believe that each of the 39,000 Christian denominations believe that they most faithfully follow Jesus. Each believes Jesus imagined the church as looking just like them.
  • I believe that it is arrogant for any of us to suggest that we alone have most accurately discerned the true intentions of Jesus.
  • I believe that we tend to root around in Scripture until we find a verse that supports our preference, then crown our view the only biblical one, even when other verses contradict it. This is why theological claims purporting to be biblical must always be given a very careful examination in light of the whole gospel and especially the words and commands of Jesus.

Will Rogers – What would he say about us now?

What’s the country coming to.

 

It always will seem funny to us United Staters that we are about the only ones that really know how to do everything right. I don’t know how a lot of these other Nations have existed as long as they have till we could get some of our people around and show ’em really how to be Pure and Good like us — Will Rogers Feb 27, 1932

We don’t seem to have learned much of a lesson since Will’s day? We still think we know everything and the rest of the world is in abject intellectual poverty. In our current circumstance we seem to conveniently overlook the fact that this whole mess started around our bankers playing around with mortgages. Greed is a powerful thing; especially when it goes unregulated.

We couldn’t wait for the Iraqi people to reach for democracy, we had to go in there and shove it down their throats whether they liked it our not. I am just a simple fella but I don’t think that is the way it is supposed to work? And of course in the process we spent so much money for the elixir that we didn’t have much for anything else. But that doesn’t stop us from doing it again in Afghanistan! When will we ever learn.

Why even when we spent those many months on healthcare reform all the politicians say that we must not rely on what was done in (you fill the country in) but instead we have to come up with our own solution. Yeah, we United Staters, as Will called us, are the only ones with an ounce of brain between our ears. Isn’t that a joke. Some day we just might learn our lesson. That is if we survive that long and China hasn’t called in all our IOUs. We continue to be a vane bunch who probably needs to be knocked down a peg or two. The world survived before we came along and it will survive after we are gone.

And the journey goes on….

Connecting with my Soul Mate…

 

Boy do I remember my wedding day. I suspect that most of us do. Of course for those who have been married multiple times the wedding day might get intermingled in our minds (ha). Fortunately I found my soul mate the first time around but it did take a while. I was on the teetering edge of forty years of age when it happened. I was beginning to think that marriage was just not going to happen for me! Even at forty I was still somewhat shy around women. I grew up without any female presence in the family and just never gained the confidence I needed to get comfortable with the ladies.

My relationship with my future wife started out by her initiative. She asked me out! That event came as quite a jolt 🙂 But we hit it off immediately. For some reason I just felt more comfortable around her, even at the start of our dating, than I had any other person who I had dated in the past. After our first date dinner we talked until the wee hours of the night. Yvonne told me later that she knew I was the guy she was going to marry immediately after that night. Stealing the phrase from a past president, I think I was in total shock and awe of her at the time so it would be later before I came to the same conclusion. One thing that struck me about her was that she was a real lady; I think I had been dating girls up until that time.

From that first night our relationship was on a fast track. A month or so after our first date she left and went to Wisconsin to have Christmas with the relatives. I thought about her constantly during the time she was gone. I think I averaged two hours sleep a night! I just couldn’t get her out of my mind enough to doze off. Not too long after she returned we became engaged. And the rest is history.

It is now approaching twenty five years since our wedding day. We have had our ups and downs but have remained totally committed to each other over the years. Since we were both over forty years old when we married children were out of the picture. My wife, when she was young, dreamed of having a large family so being childless saddens me to a certain degree. But as long as we have each other we will do just fine.

And the journey goes on….

If Only…

If only we put as much enthusiasm into our academic accomplishments as we do our sporting activities.

The rest of the world is at our door ready to eat our lunch. Why is this? One reason is because academically their children are now surpassing our in math, science and other critical subjects. Anyone that has any concept of what the 21st century will be about knows that technology will play a very prominent role. Anyone who know much about technology knows that it starts with basic knowledge of math and science.

One of the reasons we are about to lose our lunch, and maybe even our supper, is because we put all the glory on our children’s extra curricular activities than we do the academic accomplishments. As a result sports is actually a net drain on our society. That is, because it drains enthusiasm away from other more crucial areas of childhood schooling.

The high school football star has a far greater status than the class valedictorian. And peer status is everything when you are a teenager. Wouldn’t it be great if these roles were reversed but I don’t know, given the late date, that that is even remotely possible right now.

I retired from as an information technology engineer ten years ago.  Even then many of the IT jobs were being shipped over to India. One of the reasons was because there was a shortage of qualified people in the U.S.  Maybe it is time we missed a few meals anyway…

And the journey goes on……

War is not the answer for ANY question….

 

I recently read an article that proudly made the point that the U.S. military is the largest minority employer in the country. It went on to argue that if our military complex were proportioned like the rest of the world there would be many more people without jobs. The United States which makes up four percent of the world’s population maintains over 60% of the worlds military complex! Another way of saying this is that each U.S. taxpayer pays more taxes for military expenses than thirty people in just about any other country in the world. Is it any wonder that we have the highest deficits in the world?

I personally think it is kind of lame to spout the military complex as the savior of minority employment. It seems like we could use our young people for more productive things than to carry a gun in some far off country. How about promoting peace instead of war. Our first answer to any world problem is to send in our military. If we put as much effort in promoting peace what would the world look like today. It seems that we poke our noses in where they don’t belong and our simple presence in a region is much the reason for the continuing conflicts that result.

I was one of those young men who our government wanted to send to Vietnam to kill in the name of freedom. Fortunately I was not required to go but I did lose several good friends to that war. And of course there are even to this day thousands of men my age who are still living on a daily basis the horror story of their time there. As it turns out now more than thirty years later Vietnam is no better or worse than any other country in the region. If we look back to World War II most of our enemies of that time are now some of our closest allies. It greatly saddens me that humanity continues to send it’s young men, and now young women, to die in wars that have little or no long term consequences. I believe that we should take Jesus’ words to heart and yes, even love our enemies…

If we were to do a radical thing such as letting the rest of the world take care of their own business and proportioned our military complex to be similar to the rest of the world I believe there would be much more peace in the world. Not to mention a huge drain off our personal taxes. We don’t need to be the world’s policemen! Let’s turn most of that responsibility over to the countries that are in the region of the conflict. We still have thousands of our military personnel in Germany, Japan, Korea, and scores of other countries. Why??

The picture here is of a very good friend of mine who lost his life in Vietnam. He was drafted soon after college graduation and was killed almost immediately upon arrival in the country. He left behind a pregnant young bride and a future son who would never know his father. He was the first friend I lost to a war but he was not by any means the last. This also saddens me greatly

….And the journey goes on…

The Stock Market Needs a Good Dose of Ritalin

Will Rogers – What would he say about…  Today’s stock market

As I mentioned elsewhere in this blog, Will Rogers is a hero of mine. He was plain spoken half breed Indian from Oklahoma who became world famous during the 1920’s and 30’s.  If you haven’t had a chance to read any of his books or some of his daily newspaper posts then I would highly recommend you do so.  I never tire of reading him and I have read much of his work over a dozen times now!

So, to start this new category out in the spirit of  Will Rogers I want to talk a little about the stock market. But first let’s talk about kids. In my day, that is the 1950’s,  a kid who was overly active was just called frisky or just “full of the dickens”. I was to some degree one of that crowd. I was never satisfied with any of the answers adults kept giving me. I’m sure my parents tired of my questions. I always wanted to know more. From my studies of Albert Einstein I discovered he was very frisky. So I felt in good company.  If kids today show these kind of tendencies they are usually hauled off to the doctor to be fixed. That fix has most often meant prescribing the drug Ritalin for them. I wonder how future history will change because we don’t allow kids to be frisky anymore? It saddens me to think of some of the potential we have probably lost.

Ritalin has a long generic name which I will skip here. Here is what I found on it “Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant. It affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control”.   As I look at  this definition  one of the first groups I think of is definitely not kids. It is those yahoos who control the stock markets. They definitely have problems with impulse control. It seems if someone just sneezes in the Middle East they all panic and sell and then they turn around the next day because some bureaucrat says one particular word in a speech somewhere. When I started seriously tracking the market in the late 1970s it was somewhat unusual for it to trade a million stocks in a day. Now that number typically exceeds one billion! Used to be you held a stock until the company proved that they could no longer make good decisions. Long term was measured in years and sometimes decades then. Now it seems, as far as the stock market traders are concerned it is measured in weeks if not days now!

I think part of the morning coffee for those traders should include a Ritalin or two! If there isn’t a big enough supply for both kids and stock traders let’s wean the kids off of it. It probably does more harm than good to most of them anyway. But it would certainly cause the traders to slow down a little. And as my favorite felon Martha Steward would say “that would be a good thing”.

And the journey goes on….

I Believe….

I regret to believing at one time that the sole value of Jesus rested in his ability to usher me into heaven.

  • I  believe the principles Jesus articulated, summarized in the Sermon on the Mount, is the critical foundation for His true church
  • I  believe that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is my  inheritance. I daily reflect on Jesus’ words to be filled with the Spirit.
  • I believe that religious institutions committed to communal uniformity seldom ask questions. The risk of straying beyond conventional answers is too great.

And the journey goes on…

Where are the Milestones??

One of the problems I have faced with retirement is the question “Where are the milestones?” I have up until retirement gauged most of my life by its milestones. They go something like this:

  • Starting School
  • My first communion
  • Becoming a teenager
  • Getting my driver’s license
  • Graduating high school
  • Deciding on college
  • Being able to drink “legally”
  • Graduating college
  • Getting my first full time job
  • Getting married
  • Getting my first promotion
  • Retirement

Ok, so now I am at the last milestone on the list. What comes next? What is there to look forward to now? I have viewed my whole life  around milestones. As I was progressing through these milestones retirement was always the last one on the list. When I entered retirement the main question was “Now what??”  Yes, I had dreamed about not having to get up every morning and give the better part of my day to my employer. Even though I enjoyed most of my employment years this was still on my mind. I did go through a period in my early retirement years where “now what?”  really started depressing me!

So what came next that I didn’t foresee beyond this list? Of course that is up to each of us to determine. For me a big part of it is”Giving Back”. Even though I have had my share of hardships I was always aware that there were many others who had it much worse than I did. I was deaf but what about those who were both deaf and blind! I couldn’t imagine who they coped! I always had a good paying job. What about those who were not fortunate enough to have gone to college or the many who rode the employment/layoff cycle throughout their lives. Some at times struggled just to put a simple meal on their family table.

So a big addition to my milestone list is helping other who do not have it as good as I do. I spend a considerable amount of my time now giving back. These are some of the most enjoyable moments of my life. Of course there are also things like traveling and hobbies but in my mind although they are fun they don’t deserve a milestone category rating. I have a few other milestones on the list now but they will have to wait for a future post before I reveal them. Of course the obvious final milestone on my or anyone else’s list is going to meet my maker. But I guess I am like most people I really want to go to heaven but I don’t want to have to die to get there  🙂

And the journey goes on…..