Thursday, November 26, 2020

At A Distance

 

Like the rest of the world, I am so ready for this pandemic to come to an end.  I want people to travel again, to visit family and friends.  I want church to be like it should be with fellowship, hugs and handshakes. I want to see stadiums filled with cheering fans. Let’s get back to living.

 

But, with that said, I must admit that I don’t miss the things that most people have missed during 2020.  I have always been a loner.  An only child who did not need others for entertainment.  A child who enjoyed playing with other kids but did not need them.  As I grew older, I loved sports and was a good teammate, but always needed my space.  I need long drives by myself with just music and my thoughts.  I need time to read and to sleep, both being the ultimate escapes for me.

 

As a student, nothing was more draining for me than “group projects”.   Ok, let’s meet, assign the tasks and get on with it.  Everyone do their job and we’ll be fine.  But that’s not how it works is it?  It always takes twice as long as it should and is seldom done well.  The only people who like group projects are little dictators, cheerleaders and slackers who have no issue with letting others do the heavy lifting.  The rest of us, even those who aren’t loners, despise group projects.  

 

As an adult in the business world, one does what one must do to succeed.  And that means meetings and committees and other peoples' problems by the bushel.  But, that’s the job.  So one compartmentalizes and forges ahead, hopefully, with at least a few relatively capable and trustworthy people around them. 

 

And now as an even older adult, I have been working remote for some years.  Constantly on the phone, or emailing, or texting…busy and interacting with a lot of people from all over the country.  I meet more new people daily than I ever did during my years managing transportation companies.  I like the action, the variety and most of all I like talking to people about things that really matter…whom they should hire... or should they go to work for this or that company.  Even more I like the fact that no one is standing at my door.  And if the phone rings, most of the time, I do not have to answer it at that moment.  The same for emails and text messages.  Usually they can wait, if only for a few minutes.  And, when the day is over no one is pressing me to go do something, drink something, eat something or discuss something which is most often pointless and of no consequence.

 

So, indeed I like my time and my space.  It is not a positive trait for anyone aspiring to high position and a major reason why I “under-achieved” for most of my career.  The ladder is crowded and you cannot climb it alone.  I do not miss the ladder.

 

When this pandemic is over they say we will have a new normal.  I think it will look a lot like the old normal.  More people will work from home, so there may be a bit less traffic for a while.  Business travel will be slow to rebound as companies have discovered that so much of that expensive travel was unnecessary in the first place.  But everything else will fill up quickly.  Holiday, vacation and weekend travel will explode.  Those restaurants, bars, theaters and assorted other gathering spots that did not go out of business will be packed with happy patrons.  Free at last, free at last.

 

But, those of us who prefer to walk alone will not be joining you.  So by all means, please celebrate your happiness and your return to the freedom of gathering and rubbing elbows, nibbling from one another’s plates, singing, dancing, drinking or praying to the gods you have chosen.  You can have my seat.  I will be elsewhere, at a distance, thankful and quite happy not to be there.


"He liked to get off by himself, a mile or so from camp, and listen to the country, not the men."

-Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove


 



 


Monday, November 9, 2020

The Swamp Fights Back


Memo to Donald Trump, The Trump Team and other Trump Loyalists: 

The Presidential Election is over. I am not a Trump Loyalist, but he did get my vote…again. So I guess I lost as well. But the loss was inevitable. 2016 was a fluke. Only Hillary Clinton could snatch unlikely defeat from the jaws of certain victory. 

And, in the end, it all worked out just fine. Even though Trump failed to drain the swamp, he did reveal it for what it is. Even those who hate Trump have to admit that the deck was stacked. The traps were set and he stepped into every one of them. Yet along the way he put the rest of the world on notice that a large segment of America wasn’t going to take it anymore. Bad trade deals, picking up the tab for the rest of the world’s mistakes and misadventures, bowing to environmental extremists and leaving the doors to our borders unguarded? Not anymore. Judges spinning the constitution to fit their own agendas and legislating from the bench…no longer, at least for now. 

Donald Trump was and is his own worst enemy. Take away the tweets, the nasty comments about his opponents, the lies, the lack of empathy for others…just the whole narcissistic creature that is Donald Trump and you would not have Joe Biden heading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But then you would not have had Trump either. And without a global pandemic, Trump might still be getting another four years; warts, tweets and all. 

The Swamp may have fought back and turned Trump away. But in the process The Swamp confirmed what many Americans had suspected all along. Career politicians and entrenched government bureaucrats do not like change unless it is on their terms and to their benefit. And that is true for both Democrats and Republicans. The mainstream media finally went all in on their progressive agenda and without pretense showed America that objective journalism is dead. And as if to try and balance the scales, many voices on the right seemed to become even more unhinged and obsessed with apocalyptic visions of the United States becoming another Venezuela. 

The Swamp survives, but now everyone knows it’s there. And it’s full of lies and twisted half-truths. But it resides in the greatest nation on earth, perhaps the greatest that the world has ever known. Any other country would have fallen apart by now. Only the United States could be what it is and still be a great nation. Yes, we have The Swamp. But it’s our Swamp, so we have learned to live with it. Draining it would cost too much and, besides, it would only fill back up.

“It makes sense that a witch lives in a swamp” – Jordan Peterson


Monday, October 26, 2020

Let Them Eat Cake...Or Let Them Score ?


I have not yet boycotted the NFL. (I have learned to compartmentalize…headhunting will do that to a person.). So yesterday as I watched the Detroit Lions intentionally allow Atlanta to score so they could get the ball with enough time left to come back and win the game, it struck me that this is sort of how I feel about the upcoming election. 

If you have read some of my other posts, you know that I lean right. I have never been a hardcore conservative. But, it is starting to feel that way these days as the Democrats move further and further to the left. So I find myself holding my nose and voting for Republicans whom I find only slightly less awful than their Democrat opponents. 

Which brings me to the upcoming election. The almost certain "Blue Wave" that is coming will turn out to be the best outcome in the long run for Conservatives. No, I have not lost my mind. Hear me now, believe me later. First, consider the consequences of a Trump win.  It’s a long-shot, but it was a long-shot last time. Four more years of Trump will tear this country apart. The Left will move even further to the left and take more of the Middle with them. By the time we get to 2024, Republicans will have lost all credibility and millions more of their voters will be dead and gone, replaced by younger, left-leaning Progressives. Four more years of Trump could end up being replaced by a generation or two of far-left, Democratic Socialists. 

On the other hand, if the Democrats win today, the Republicans have the opportunity, the motivation and the time to hit the reset button. They would have a very real chance of gaining ground in the mid-terms and then winning the White House in 2024. The nation needs to get the Trump taste out of its mouth. But, give it four years of Biden-Harris, Pelosi, Schumer and The Squad; and we might just come to our senses. 

The power brokers, the people who really run this country, not the politicians; have no interest in Democratic Socialism or any such nonsense. But, they are smart enough to see what’s happening with Trump in the White House. They are globalists. They want free-trade and better relationships with the rest of the world. They must also respond in some way to the younger workforce’s obsessions with Social Justice and Climate Change. Virtue signaling is good for business. So they have thrown their money and their influence behind the Democrats. Let them score today while there is still enough time to win tomorrow. 

If the French had responded differently to those starving peasants back in 1789, there might not have been a French revolution or certainly not one so bloody. Marie Antionette’s infamous response of “Let Them Eat Cake” remains an ominous reminder to the rich and powerful that sometimes one has to let the opposition score and taste victory, if only for a moment. 

"Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; - the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!”- Charles Dickens , A Tale of Two Cities


Monday, September 21, 2020

Of The People

 

We are told that the upcoming election is the most important in our history.  The future of America hangs in the balance.  As if the politicians are the ones determining the country’s direction.  I’m not so sure about that.  What I am sure of is that, FOR THE POLITICIANS, this IS the most important election in their political careers. 

While the upcoming election matters, it may not matter all that much.  Since 1952 the Executive branch has had more Republicans than Democrats.  Congress has been more Democrat than Republican, although in recent years the Republicans have gained ground. (And has it really made much difference?).  Since the 50’s the Supreme Court has become decidedly more conservative.  (And, again has it really made much difference?)

News flash, POLITICIANS ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, or bring hope and change or establish a more civil discourse or solve the racial divide or cool down the planet.  Our government still represents we the people.  You may not feel like they represent you or your political party or just you and your Facebook friends.  But ultimately, we still have a government of the people and by the people.  It just may not be FOR the people.  But whose fault is that?  WE ARE THE PROBLEM...WE ARE THE PEOPLE.

The breakdown did not happen overnight. It took time, a generation or two at least.  It took time for a people to put being rich ahead of being honest.  To make being popular or famous more important than being honorable.  To pursue personal freedom and happiness at the expense of duty and responsibility.  To choose the present over the future.  Appearance over substance.  And, in the end, feelings over truth.   Plant these seeds, or just allow these seeds to be planted, and they will grow.  Provide fertile soil and a bit of fertilizer and they will grow faster and become larger. 

It’s not complicated.  When families start breaking down, when schools no longer educate and churches become just another form of entertainment or civic organization; the hard lessons that must be learned are no longer taught.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  And what we do know is either wrong or incomplete or we simply do not care. 

The next election will be a reflection of who we have become.  And either way, it will not do much to change the course of this nation.  We lost our way long ago.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."

--President Dwight D. Eisenhower


Sunday, September 13, 2020

The World As It Is

 

 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’

– Numbers 14:18

Let the offspring of the wicked, never be mentioned again.
Prepare a place to slaughter his children for the sins of their ancestors;
they are not to rise to inherit the land and cover the earth with their cities.

– Isaiah 14: 20-21

Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. 20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

-Ezekiel 18: 19-20

 

So how does it work?  Do the sins of our ancestors have consequences for us?  These Bible scriptures would seem to say yes and no.  There are several other passages on the subject that appear to say yes (Deuteronomy 5:9, Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:7).  Yet still there are others that would seem to say no (Jeremiah 31 29-30, Deuteronomy 24:16, 1 John 1:9).

If you don’t care what the Bible has to say, then I suppose it doesn’t matter.  But, if you do believe, as I do, that the Bible is the inspired Word of our Creator then it does matter.  However, I am not one of those who takes every word literally.  I don’t think God Almighty dictated the books of the Bible.  But I do consider the message to be God-breathed and the Truth.  Even when, in cases like this the message appears to be mixed.

 

So how does one reconcile these seemingly contradictory scriptures? Do we pay a price for the sins of our ancestors?  And will generations that come after us reap what we have sown?  Or is every person’s slate wiped clean when they confess their sins, repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?  To the first question, how does one reconcile these scriptures, I would answer with much prayer and discernment.  To the other three questions, the answer is yes, yes, and yes.  Yes, we pay a price for the sins of our ancestors.  Yes, those who come after us will reap what we have sown, both good and bad.  And Yes, every person’s soul may be saved by confession, repentance and following Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

 

But in the meantime, we live this life, for a short time, in this world as it is.  And, to a large degree this world as it is, as well as each of our own little worlds, has been shaped by those who went before us.  Increasingly, science is finding that a great deal of who and what we are is in our genes.  We can’t pick our parents, but we live with what they gave us.  And what their parents gave to them and back on down the tree, limb by limb.  That’s about as arbitrary as it gets.  Our hardware is determined before we take our first breath and see the light of day.

 

And those who raise us, be it parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters or just the village; program us to be who and what we are.  With these amazing human brains we also learn how to live, or at least survive.  We are constantly receiving and processing information, not only that which is expressed in words and ideas, but information we experience through the physical senses.  

 

Each of us is a complex, beautiful, dangerous, wonderful and tragic creation .  Made in the image of our creator, but born imperfect into a fallen world.  In God’s image with Adam and Eve’s DNA.   With the freedom and the ability to change some things in ourselves and in our world…but not always for the better.  And so, we discover fire and the wheel and that two plus two always equals four.  We create ways of communicating with each other.  We organize ourselves for mutual benefit and survival.  Yet “the apple” is always within reach.  We make war, we conquer others for the benefit and survival of our tribe.  We invent, we innovate, we take that which has been created and transform it to suit our purposes.  We make tools for good and weapons for war.  We make vessels for travel and discovery and then use them to transport others against their will to labor unwillingly on our behalf.  We make machines and generate power to run them, making our lives easier today but at what costs to our children tomorrow?

 

This world will eventually come to an end.  In the meantime, life will go on one way or the other.  What we do matters.  What we believe about what we do, or should do, or fail to do; matters.  Those who come after us may thank us or curse us for what we leave behind.  But they will not forget us, even if they try.  How will we be remembered?


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Dogs and Angels Watching Over Us


"….But once upon a time, we had a real dog. His name was Barney and he was an English Springer Spaniel. The best dog ever. He moved all over the country with us and could handle just about anything or anyone. He was smart, loyal, gentle and absolutely fearless. Not counting my wife, he was my best friend. 

But when he died I wasn’t there. Why I wasn’t there is another story and it will be someone else’s to tell someday when I’m not around. But I wasn’t there when he took that long, last ride to the vet. Thankfully my wife was there and to this day she cannot stand to watch the similar scene as it plays out in the movie Marley and Me. Maybe it was for the best that I wasn’t there. I just don’t know. 

But I do believe that our dogs will be there for us when we get to heaven. And they will come running to greet us and not only love us, but forgive us for taking so long to get there." 

 -from the HeadhunterPOV post “Barney and Me” (August 2012) 


Fast forward to Saturday August 8, 2020. It’s a blazing hot afternoon in Central Texas and we are on our way back to Grayson County, driving fast on a farm-to-market road through the Texas countryside south of Rogers.  An 8 week old English Springer Spaniel puppy, also named Barney, is buried in my wife Kayla's lap, wondering when he will be released and returned to his family. Who are these people? They smell different. I want to go home.  But I do like the cool air blowing on me. 

And then I feel it, the road on the right seems to fall away. Then I see it, the dashboard instrument panel showing a diagram…41, 39, 40 and 4. Tire pressures. 4 is a problem and it’s on the front passenger tire. I’ve already slowed down from 75 to 35 and quickly go to 10 looking for a safe, flat place to get off the road. Flashers on,  I see something up ahead on the right. Baseball fields. Must be close to town. Maybe we can make it to Rogers. Nope, I can feel the rim digging into the pavement. We pull into the ballpark. The rim is ruined.  

Google says we are still two miles from town. I’m not even sure the spare has air in it.  Besides, I’m not even sure I know how to get the spare down from underneath the pick-up bed. Haven’t had to change a tire myself in twenty years. I’ll figure it out. 

My wife is less optimistic and calls her road service number as we sit in the cool truck, engine still running and A/C blowing full blast. After 10 minutes of back and forth the road service says it will be a couple of hours. Only available service will have to come out of Temple and they have other service calls ahead of us. Heat does things to tires and there are plenty of flats today. 

Kayla, who is a successful realtor and always on the go, has a Plan B.  She tells me to call the local police, not 9-1-1-. Just the regular number. Maybe they can send someone out to help. Tell them we are stranded with a new puppy. Of course, I think this is a terrible idea. But she can be persuasive and the little dog is looking at me with those puppy eyes. So I call the Rogers Police number and get transferred to the county sheriff’s department. They say no problem, they will have an officer come by as soon as possible…could be 30 minutes, could be 2 hours. 

We're in a safe place off the road, there is water and a little covered picnic table. Even restrooms. If it weren’t 105 degrees it wouldn’t be bad. At least we have a good breeze and we brought snacks. With Kayla and little Barney secure in the shade at the picnic table, I go back to the truck. I need to get to work and figure this out. How do I get this spare tire down and on the ground? It feels like it’s aired up. Maybe we’ll be lucky. By the way, where is the jack and tire tools? See the manual. 

As I am standing beside the truck thumbing through the manual,  a beat up old black Chevy Blazer pulls into the parking lot. I see one large tattooed arm hanging out of the driver’s window. And my pistol is in the truck. Should I make my move now or stay cool?

“Need some help?”, the young man attached to the tattooed arm asked.  Anyone under 40 looks young to me these days, but I reckoned him to be in his mid-20’s. 

I replied, “Well I think we’ve got it covered. Sheriff is sending someone out and we also have road service from Temple on the way.” 

“I can change that tire for you”.  He is still sitting in the old Blazer which is basically a rolling pile of junk filled with more junk. I was hoping he would say that someone from the sheriff’s department had sent him out. Apparently not.

“So you think you can do this?” 

He nodded and took off his sunglasses. “Yes sir. I do this all the time.” 

“I’ll pay you.” 

“That’s ok” he says as he lurches out of the Blazer.  He doesn't appear to have a weapon.  Maybe I can take him with my bare hands if need be.  Wish I had that pistol.

So the young man with the large tattooed arms goes to work. Finds the jack and tools under the passenger seat. Of course, that was going to be the first place I looked. Assembles the tool and extends it through a hole in the back bumper attaching it to the spare tire rack and quickly begins cranking it down. (My plan exactly). Spare tire on the ground, he goes to loosen the lug nuts. He’s strong and appears to almost bend the little single arm lug wrench that came with the pick-up. He goes and digs around in the back of the Blazer’s junk pile, finds an old four-way lug wrench and promptly begins loosening the nuts. He then sets the little jack in place, cranks it up and finishes taking off the flat tire. He mounts the spare, tightens up the lug nuts and lets down the jack. We are good to go. This one man pit crew really did know what he was doing. 

I had $25 cash in my wallet and would have probably given him $100 if I’d had it. I handed him the $25. He shook my hand and said, “My name is Milton. I’m from just up the road a piece”. 
 
“Thank you Milton, we really appreciate it. No telling how long we would have been out here. And with the new puppy we wanted to get back home.” 

“Glad I could help. Be careful.” And with that he drove away. 

My wife called the road service and cancelled the order. I called the sheriff and said someone came by, a local by the name of Milton, hoping they would say they sent him or knew him or something.  

“No sir. I don’t know of a Milton and we are still waiting for an officer to respond.” 

 “Old black, beat up Chevy blazer? Big guy, in his 20’s, tattoos?”, I asked. 

 “No sir, doesn’t ring a bell. Ya'll have a safe trip home."

When we picked up the pup earlier that morning, before we left the old breeder, she prayed over us. Prayed for a safe journey back home and “may God’s angels watch over you all”. My wife reminded me of that prayer as we drove back north. Maybe Milton was a good Samaritan or just a poor country boy hoping to pick up a few bucks. Or maybe he was something more. 

We made it home without further incident and Barney got to meet our other two dogs, small white bundles of soft curly hair only slightly larger than him, but not for long. He is adjusting, the other dogs are adjusting and we are adjusting. But, I knew it was time for one more “proper dog” before this life is over.  And he is definitely going to be a proper dog.  But if, some day, I do get another one…I think it will be a rescue dog.  And I'll be naming that one Milton.


                                                                     Barney Jr.

“…. and they will come running to greet us and not only love us, but forgive us for taking so long to get there. “ 


Monday, July 20, 2020

Hearts and Minds




“What the heart loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies.” – Thomas Cranmer


If you want to change a culture, you must change its people. And to change its people, you must change their worldview. If you’ve been around more than 40 years, you’ve been a witness to the most rapid cultural change in human history. If you’re over 60, the world you grew up in would be unrecognizable and unimaginable to those less than half your age.

For most of human history culture change has been driven by natural forces, or violence or new inventions, discoveries and break-through technology. Major climate change, floods and volcanic eruptions have forced change and adaptation throughout history. And certainly violence has been a major factor in change, often erupting in response to other change agents. Some will win and some will lose.

But in today’s world, culture change is largely a matter of ideas. Technology plays a major role in change, but it’s not at the core of what we are experiencing. Today it’s more about transforming worldviews from the inside out. Some claim this is all part of a well-orchestrated conspiracy launched and managed by a select group of global elites, or the Illuminati, perhaps with ties all the way back to Free Masonry, working behind the scenes to bring about a New World Order.

I think not. We humans just aren’t that competent. It is a conspiracy, no doubt. But it’s roots extend well-beyond the dimensions of this temporal world. And it has its own modus operandi which consists of four fundamental steps: Minimize, Criticize, Ostracize and Replace.

Whether it’s religion, politics, economics, the arts, education, medicine or science; it’s the same pattern. Sometimes it’s for the better and sometimes it’s for the worse. Sometimes it’s good in the short run, but bad in the long run. The pattern may play out in a matter of a few years or it may take several centuries. Remember the strings are being pulled by forces far outside of our time and space.

First they must minimize or discount the opposition. This is the preferred strategy when dealing with deeply rooted ideas and institutions. Christianity in the West has been going through this for over 300 years. One doesn’t replace a religion overnight or even in a generation or two. It takes time. Eventually, when the idea or institution has been minimized enough or essentially ignored (the old time preachers would say “watered-down”), it may then be criticized. Some will push back, but since there has already been some replacement in values (freedom over faith or independence over authority), the criticism will lead to more replacement (pro-choice over the right to life). Finally, when the remnant of those attached to the old ideas and values are outnumbered, they are ostracized. Their beliefs are wrong, so they are cut off (main stream media, social networks.) Now you can replace all of the old “bad” stuff with the new good stuff (equality, social justice, inclusion, reparations, clean energy and the best stuff of all…FREE stuff.).

But to make the change complete and effective, you must replace economic systems, political systems, educational systems and social systems. Consider the changes over the past 50 years in the way we educate and socialize our children. Do you think perhaps that might have something to do with the state of things in our nation today? Allow politics to be run by money and special interests and you end up with a dysfunctional system that can no longer legislate but only campaign for the next election. Increase entitlements and expand the welfare state in the name of fighting poverty and creating a “Great Society” and you end up with more people unable or unwilling to support themselves or a make positive contribution to their community.

In the later stages of replacement, they rewrite history and destroy the images of those who symbolize the “old bad stuff”. The goal is justice. And judgment day can only belong to those who got the short end of the historical stick. And so we find ourselves in the latter stages of a culture war. A war that is likely to go on until some event overshadows it. Perhaps it will be a pandemic much worse than Covid 19 or anything else humans have ever experienced. Perhaps all out nuclear or chemical warfare. What if the E.T.’s finally show up and turn out not to be so friendly. And what if the Biblical prophecies are correct? If the One who created everything in the beginning decides our time is over? Whether natural, man-made, other worldly or holy and eternal; it will be an event of epic proportions that totally transforms civilization. Make no mistake, we are racing toward the finish line and have been doing so for thousands of years. The world has always been and will continue to be a battleground…until it is no more.


“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”– Revelation 21:1