Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Integrity is a Choice

We don’t think too much about integrity these days. It’s assumed to be a learned and ingrained condition of adulthood; something that we acquire as we get older, rather than something at which we have to work or to weigh consciously with every thought.

Maybe it’s time for us to remember what we learned as children, before the adult ego began its attempt to subvert the integrity of the heart. We were told to tell the truth, don’t lie, play fair, share, say you’re sorry and be responsibile.

It seems today that selective truth or half-ruths are acceptable to get what one wants or not get what one doesn’t want. Bribery, lying, insinuation and all forms of corporate or governmental corruption come to mind.

Integrity has a lot of brother and sister principles in its immediate family: morality, ethics, virtue, justice, prudence and even honor. The unique commonality about all of these things is that they are comprised of unenforceable values by which we choose to live.

It’s the choice that makes it tough, isn’t it?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Ministry of Glenn Beck

I’m sure you know by now that I don’t like what Glenn Beck stands for. I don’t like his television pulpit insinuations and half-truths that portray anyone who has a liberal thought as a traitor to American principles.

There is nothing wrong with liberal thinking, as there is nothing wrong with conservative thinking. I support both philosophies depending on the issue, the facts and how it effects the greater good.

I wasn’t at the Glenn Beck rally in Washington D.C. I did read everything I could about the gathering. It was pure theatre.

Here is a portion of a report from the Christian Science Monitor, by Brad Knickerbocker.

Beck's rhetoric more mellow

“We must get the poison of hatred out of us,” he (Beck) told the crowd. “We must look to God and look to love. We must defend those we disagree with.”

This from a man who has called Obama “a racist” and likened Al Gore’s campaign against global climate change to “what Hitler did” in having scientists use eugenics to justify the Holocaust.

Which drives Beck’s critics nuts.

“You can’t profit from fear and division all week and then denounce them one Saturday on the National Mall in Washington and hope nobody notices,” complains John Avlon on the Daily Beast website.

Beck “knows how to manipulate an audience’s emotions,” writes Avlon, author of “Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America.” “He uses conflict, tension, fear and resentment to keep their attention day after day, buying his books, attending his rallies.”

But none of that was on display Saturday, when Beck sounded more like an evangelical preacher than a flame-throwing political provocateur. “Today we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished – and the things that we can do tomorrow,” he said.”

Beck said the rally had nothing to do with politics, but everything to do with God and everything about returning to the values and the principles that made America great.

Excuse me, Mr. Beck. When did you start speaking for God? What makes you the arbiter that values have lessened from the core principles that made this country what it is?

America has never lost the core principles of her pledge to the integrity of an ideal. She is not done being a positive example of responsible participatory government, nor is she finished being an inspiration to the oppressed of the world. The inner covenant of Democracy, through equal opportunity and the pursuit of happiness, is still valid and universal.

Your rally isn’t about returning America to what she hasn’t lost. Your rally is about you, your megalomania and the aggrandizement of your self-importance.

Mr. Beck I do not deny your right to stand and shout and argue for what you believe. I do quibble with your invoking God as your credential and credibility. All of us can do that with anything we choose to state as truth.

Sarah Palin spoke. I do not share her assertion that just the current elected officials have led the nation astray. All politicians, including her, have led the electorate astray by the pork spending of public money that benefits few, promotes entitlements, and insures reelection.

It is time for America to loose the tentacles of partisan rhetoric and embrace the legacy of patriotic principles that emboldened this republic from the beginning.

We live in a pragmatic world, often fearful, sometimes cruel and we the people are not perfect, but collectively we strive to live up to the founding ideals of democracy. We shout, we argue, we debate, we accuse and when the votes are counted we accept, we get together and we live in diverse harmony until we do it again. Ms. Palin should know that and Mr. Beck forgets that this is the greatness of America.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rotary Dial Journalists?

Here’s an item from one of the daily columns to which I subscribe. It’s called “Newsbluezette.” Its subtitle is, “a daily insider newsletter for TV news professionals.”

I’ve subscribed to it for years. I like it.

The column item says a former NBC executive commented on the fact that many journalists today host a number of shows including entertainment programs as on-air talent. The executive says the new reality is that “on-air talents need to have a range these days.”

He is referring to high profile on-air journalists at all the networks that do other talent-laden presentations besides covering news stories.

What this executive seemingly suggests is that television journalists don’t need journalistic credibility anymore and since they do both kinds of on-air presentations their journalistic credibility ends and it doesn’t matter.

I don’t know who the executive was, but the fact that the executive asked not to be identified diminishes his credentials to comment.

One of the quotes in the NewsBlues column was this: The self-important journalists out there are the rotary dial phones of the new order.”

Mr. Executive I don’t agree with you. Your thinking is what is wrong with television news today.

In order to save money, get ratings, inflate the bottom line and amortize talent salary costs, broadcasting executives place journalists into positions where the line between journalism and entertainment blend.

I’ve done all types of news stories: hard news, soft news, and feature news under the sacred aegis of journalism. I’ve also worked in the entertainment arena where journalistic standards did not apply. I knew it. The audience knew it. It was labeled entertainment at the outset.

I don’t mind being a “rotary dial” journalist. The un-named executive sees that term as pejorative. I see it as honorable for it stands for integrity, ethics, objectivity, impartiality, truthfulness, accuracy, fairness and accountability.

Credibility contains all of those attributes. Bring credibility back Mr. Executive and we will finally return to television news programs that are truly fair and balanced.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


How ignorant can we get?

The half-truths and innuendo put out by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the other purveyors of false information increases our ignorance rather than our intellect. The Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of the Billy, is in the spreading untruths arena pandering to Christian ignorance. What have we become?

We are a gullible people. We are a lazy people. We'd rather believe what we want to believe even if it is not true. We are OK with what might be true especially if it fits within our prejudices. We don't take the time to check facts or even question the absurdity of an insinuation.

Believing anything anybody with a bully pulpit says without using your own gift of discernment is an affront to common sense.

We have a history of being manipulated.

George Creel was an old-fashioned Mississippi newspaper editor. Rugged, sometimes radical, but a man President Woodrow Wilson liked and trusted. That made Creel the President's choice for a job never done before.

When America entered World War One, the public was divided. To win public approval President Wilson needed unity, enthusiasm, and a lust for enemy blood.

Creel was named to head a committee of public information. It was his job to shape public opinion for winning the war. Creel managed the war news. It had never been done before.

There was a little domestic propaganda during the Civil War and some excitement came from sensation seeking newspapers during the Spanish-American war. It took George Creel to invent modern public relations, and until he did it, no one thought it possible for a central government to control the emotions of its citizens without force.

Creel created the Uncle Sam poster that says, " I want you." It's still in use today. He rallied school children to donate dimes for a warship and he selected a preacher for the House of Representatives who prayed against the "wolfish Hun whose fangs drip with blood" and he had propaganda movies made showing the Germans plundering Belgium.

Creel and his team shaped history. It was only after the war that people saw the questionable use of such tactics. Public manipulation was loosed from Pandora's box and truth would never be that simple again.

It worked again in Iraq with "weapons of mass destruction."

The government learned it well, but "We The People" have forgotten to question, to verify and to demand accountability.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Polemics Again

Good Morning all,

The Los Angeles Times put it this way on their website.

“Reporting from Washington —
The Republican leader who hopes to become the next speaker of the House assailed White House economic policies Tuesday in a speech that was met with a coordinated attack from Democrats that resembled the rapid response perfected during Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Rep. John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) called for firing the Treasury secretary and repealing parts of the healthcare law, giving shape to a party agenda as Republicans try to take over the House this fall.

In response, Democrats unleashed Vice President Biden for a rebuttal that cast Boehner's priorities as a return to the Bush administration policies that led to the economic crisis, and that showed Democrats were unwilling to let Republican attacks go unanswered.”

Don’t they ever learn? (“They”, the politicians currently in office.) Attack and counter-attack is not the way of progress. It is not the way of compromise. It is not the way of a democracy struggling to carry a disgruntled citizenry into the 21st century. It is not the way to win elections. It is certainly not the way for incumbents to stay in office.
I say again as I have said before. POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON PAY ATTENTION TO THE PEOPLE OR FIND ANOTHER CAREER. We want something more than rhetoric, polemics, and partisanship.

You will not be there for long if you keep this up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hands and Heart

I am delighted to tell you about a friend of mine who is a wood working craftsman of the first order. Some of you would know him from his other profession as a senior director of a long-standing soap opera. I know him as a friend, a confidant, a talented woodsman, camper, outdoorsman and craftsman.

Here is the truncated story of a cabinet he recently completed. I had the pleasure of watching some of his work over the last couple of years and now to see the finished product is a gift beyond the sacredness of creativity.

Here’s his wife’s email to announce the cabinet:

“My cabinet is finished!!!!!!!

For those of you who don't know the details......

Bruce started with a cherry tree that John Crawford...a good friend.... cut from his property and gave to us. Thank you John!!!

Bruce had the tree rough milled. Then boards were stored carefully in his workshop for two years to dry slowly. After that.....he turned those rough boards into this BEAUTIFUL piece of furniture for me!!!! Every painstaking step was done with his tools and by hand. My Grandfather would be so proud!

Thank you SO much Bruce!!!! It is spectacular!”

When an artist creates something so beautiful that your breath inhales at first sight, then that creation is a gift to all who see it for it comes from the realm of spirit.

I am proud to know this craftsman and more so to be his friend. This cabinet will stand for hundreds of years and I will be in the group who saw its creation.

What a gift.

Hands and Heart

© 2010 Rolland G. Smith

A cabinet from the heart appeared

And shared its beauty to a room.

We marveled and we all revered,

What hands and mind did thus exhume.

From out the tree that passed in time,

But did not die and disappear.

Its beauty rose from cells confined

To be the cabinet that appeared.

Most beauty can’t be seen as one.

It takes another to be known.

These hands of skill left naught undone.

No longer is the tree alone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Needless Hate

Needless Hate

© 2010 Rolland G. Smith

War’s wasted tears oft’ flow as one,

But little change does war imbue.

We make our hates where there is none

And pray for peace within a pew.

The hate within and acts without

Will dull the power of our grace

And leave us empty, filled with doubt

And hiding on a shadow’s face.

The genesis of hate is fear

In which we harbor mindless hurt.

We use our thoughts to harm and smear

And stomp the truth within the dirt.

Hate hides in minds and knows its wrong

For all are ONE beyond a thought.

We must remember we’re a song

Despite illusions we have wrought.

There is a way from out this hell

That we’ve created needlessly.

It’s not a potion or a spell

It is a choice, a heart’s decree.

To change your life, just change your mind

And see what happens to your fear.

Your wound up hate will then unwind

And spirit’s peace will soon appear.

The Roses then with fragrant scent

Will celebrate our drying tears

For spirits then need not lament

The missing music of the spheres.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Where is Civility?

Families and friends are being split today into a political environment that mimics the contention before the US civil war and the beliefs between the North and the South.

Then, 150-years ago, brother opposed brother and state opposed state in the volatile consideration for the right of slavery.

Today it is not the moral or economic issue of slavery. It is a political issue of blind contention. Fortunately it will not develop in a bellicose contention, but it is harmful nonetheless. On one side is liberal thought and conservative thinking on the other; each believes their way is the way to and for a sustainable future.

I have friends on both sides of the issue. There are strong and valid reasons on both sides, but our problem today seems to be that we have no common ground, no attack free zone in which to meet and compromise for the greater good. Rhetoric fogs the field of compromise and negotiation.

Contention builds when political and verbal salvos are lobbed into the other side’s comfortable camp and dander rises; each side trenches into ideologues of cemented thinking.

The middle thinkers of America need to stop the verbal cement from hardening into a position that everyone knows will not work in the arena of compromise and camaraderie.

I am very tired of political rhetoric. I am very tired of republicans. I am very tired of democrats. Both of their political diatribes invalidate the democratic principles of our founding fathers. Then the founding fathers pledged their lives and their fortunes for the hope of liberty and freedom and equal opportunity. I don’t see lives and fortunes pledged anywhere, by anyone today. All I see is a manipulation of the truth for the aggrandizement of power.

Today we hide behind the fear of the other side gaining more power. Where are the statesmen? Where are the stateswomen? Where is reason?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fox News

To all my friends who watch Fox News.

Here’s the headline!

The News Corporation, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, contributed one million dollars to the Republican governors Association this summer. Large contributions like this are extremely rare.

For a news and media company, whose slogan is “fair and balanced” this seems a bit disingenuous.

Get with it people! This is not a news organization. It is a quasi-political arm that distorts, disrupts and disturbs the truth. That’s OK. Political distortion has been going on throughout history, but call it what it is.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spirituality v's Religion

Being spiritual is acknowledging a loving presence as part of our being and knowing it is in harmonic resonance with us and all things. Its essence is unconditionality. It is an expression of the All That Is as us.

Religions are the process, the belief systems, the collective thought and community agreement by which we choose to worship and express individual and shared spirituality.

In my view religions have forgotten spirituality and what they think they do remember of it they confuse with dogma.

The word dogma comes from the Greek and its root meaning is "opinion". Its root word "Dokein" means, "to seem good". So when people believe in a religious dogma, they are really saying, I believe in an "opinion that seems good". To me, "seeming good" and a knowing awareness derived through a direct spiritual experience of the divine are not the same.

Centuries of non-spiritual ritual and adherence to man-made dogmatic rules have seen religions give more credence to doctrine, than to truth. Even the early Christians were cautioned about dogma in the Gospel of Mark - Chapter 7 - Verse 7. "...In vein do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men".

To some religious authorities a truth or revelation that may result from an improvisational action like prayer or mediation or a profound revelatory experience in life is discouraged and discounted.

History is filled with stories of inspired individuals, mystics, and saints, who have come in conflict with religious authority over an inner knowing versus a system of rigid principles. Galileo, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Kabir, and Thoreau are examples to name a few. A direct communication with the divine cannot be proven; it can only be experienced. Personal enlightenment, however it may be expressed, will always disempower dogma and render mystics unacceptable to most religious authorities.

A prime example in recent history was the conflict between the Vatican and Dominican scholar, Dr. Matthew Fox. His enlightenment led him to preach and teach creation spirituality, a positive view of humankind’s inter-relationship with God, rather than the Catholic dogma of redemption spirituality; a view whereby human beings are born sinful. Fox was first silenced by the Vatican and eventually left the Dominican Order.

The Divine within each person, in the fullness of knowing, assimilates life experience as appreciation. All life, no matter where or how you find it expresses the Divine first through experience, then appreciation, and finally revelation.

Is not the creation and birth of a child a revelation that God is not discouraged with humanity as Tagore suggests?

Is not the transformation of a seed to a flower, a caterpillar to a butterfly, or the uniqueness of each snowflake, revelations that belie scientific explanations?

There is no explaining a revelation; there is only the aware experiential appreciation of it as it is processed through the spirit, mind, and body as an unexplainable joy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Inner Peace

My wife and I were having a discussion last evening about what has to happen before one can experience inner peace.

She mentioned something profound that I think is fodder for this blog.

She said, “Before one can have inner peace one must first love oneself unconditionally.” I agreed with that and then my mind wandered to various extrapolations of firsts that life offers in anticipation of inner peace.

A toddler must have the courage to take the first step before he or she can walk. If you have ever raised children you know the look a baby has when the first step is taken. It is a doorway into the exploration of life. The child's smile, the expression, is filled with expectation and accomplishment and the enjoyment of parental praise.

Take that ahead a few years to when a child first balances on a bike and rides a two-wheeler for the first time. Another smile of accomplishment.

Keep the progression going to the first time a teenager drives. Again another smile of progress and accomplishment in life. It is then that responsibility takes on an adult awareness.

There are so many other firsts and smiles throughout life that we often forget about them in our hopes and wishes for success and subliminally inner peace.

Spiritually aware accomplishments continue throughout life, even unto old age. When the elderly acknowledge their finiteness, either through meditation or illness, it is a profound revelation and acceptance that the body is ending and life continues and in that revelation comes a spiritual inner peace.

The sooner one forgives oneself for anything and everything, including dying, the more apparent and embraceable is the greatest gift of all to humankind. Inner peace.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mosque!

This post is about the Mosque that is being proposed near ground zero in lower Manhattan.

I know it is a controversy!

If, for a brief moment, in the reading of this post, we each could suspend our anger, put aside our innate prejudice. (And we do have some) and think about the positive position it puts America rather than the emotional hold the attacks on 9/11 have on all us, maybe we can find reason without retribution.

Originally I was not for a Mosque being built anywhere in lower Manhattan. To me it was and is sacred ground. A place regarded with reverence. It still is and it always will be.

I watched one plane plow into the World Trade Center and I reported on the carnage of the others. The tragedy, the anger, continued for days and consumed our life and lives. It was the most emotionally wrenching experience of any story I ever covered in my nearly 50 years of reporting the sordid stories of human kind.

These days we have a lot of eloquent people, media personalities, loquacious politicians, who know the buttons to push, both for and against an Islamic Center. And there are the family members who’ve lost loved ones in New York, Pennsylvania or at the Pentagon. They too speak out and amplify the emotion and pain of 2001. It is their right and their responsibility.

I now support the building of a Mosque in lower Manhattan for these reasons.

It shows to extreme Moslems that America stands for a core principal upon which it was founded. Freedom of religion and the right to worship anywhere.

It shows the Islamic communities world wide that America embraces not one, but all of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four freedoms. They are and I quote from FDR’s speech before Congress.

The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.”

Despite the pain of loss, despite the sadness and sorrow we all share for those who lost so much, despite our human emotional need for retribution and retaliation, we might choose to take another path. The one taught by a great teacher over two thousand years ago and by many of the noted spiritual teachers throughout history.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Country Music

I was driving home last night and listening to a country music station. Oldie songs were intermixed with the current country favorites.

Listening to the words of the old ones in juxtaposition to the new ones I was convinced America is on the right track because little has changed in the song stories of American life from the past to the present.

Little has changed despite the current political turmoil of contention between democrats and the republicans, between the conservatives and the liberals, between the dogmatic religious and the agnostic wonderers, between those who fear and those who don't, between the young dreamers and the aging wisdom, between eastern stuffy and western calm and northern frugality and southern hospitality.

Country music, whether you like it or not or listen to it or not is a harbinger, in the good sense, of the feelings of most Americans. Love coming and love lost. Heartache and heart's hope. Throw in babies, Love and loving words, sadness, moms, dads, trucks and trains and you've got a microcosm of American thought.

Patsy Cline in the 1950's sang of "Your Cheatin' Heart" and it's still going on today in all strata of life.

Reba MaEntire sings today of separation and breaking up.

Nothing's changed. America is what it was and what it will always be. A multi-mind mixed mishmash of hopes, wishes, desire, patriotism, connections and endings and the phenomenal opportunity that only freedom engenders.

When our country songs start singing only of worry, pain, discontent and dissonance then we might want to rethink our collective thoughts. Thoughts are powerful, both the collective kind and the ones we create individually. There is much truth to the admonition: change your mind, change your life.

Be well buckeroos! Laugh more, love more, be more that you even though possible, because it is.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Bad Day or Systemic Rudeness?

I participated in an unusual event yesterday. I was playing golf with close friends. We were on the first tee of a reciprocal club to our own. That means when our club has a tournament or is closed, nearby clubs will grant a reciprocal play. That was the case yesterday.

There was a friendly chat on the first tee with a member of the club we were visiting and with his wife and their guest from another state. It was very friendly banter and it evolved around the member’s 65th birthday which he announced to the group.

On the seventh hole we met again for a quick conversation and my friend, a good golfer and a highly educated professor of languages from a nearby college said smilingly to the threesome, “I hope you folks are giving Jim an extra stroke or two for his birthday.”

That was it. We finished our round, had lunch and separately left the club to our respective cars.

The woman, the wife of the guy whose birthday it was, approached my friend and said: “It was very inappropriate for you to suggest we give my husband extra strokes for his birthday. It is not your business what goes on in his golf game and she continue to berate him for his intrusion into their game and seemingly their lives.

My friend was shocked.

So was I when the story was recounted to me.

These folks were heavily moneyed people; nothing wrong with that. They were people used to having the service that money provides from both servants and sycophants.

My friend was far more gracious than I think I would have been in a similar situation and he apologized for any offense perceived and that there was none intended. She did not accept his apology.

I bring this up in this post because sometimes, in my experience, people with wealth or power and even people who are poor or ignorant forget the feelings of others. Money and/or position can generate a false entitlement. Often an innocent comment or a misunderstanding or an offhand remark can be perceived as an affront especially when wealth insulates power from courtesy and reason from rudeness.

Everybody has a bad day once in awhile. But bad days are never an excuse to berate, belittle or demean another from what is perceived said or done.

I don't think that women will ever read this blog, but if she does; Get a life lady!

I told you I would not be as gracious as my friend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tea House of the Summer Sun

Teahouse of the Summer Sun

© 2010 Rolland G. Smith

Beyond the thought of standing still

And wondering what’s held within;

There is the light of heaven’s grace

Where pleasant prayer can then begin.

Young trees stand sentry to this place

To guard love’s presence imaged there

Especially in sacred times

When setting sun releases care.

The teahouse is a special place

For souls who’ve gone and those who stay.

It blends beneath its raftered roof

A place to think and one to pray.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gay Communities

I spent the last couple of days in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It is a town with a large gay population. It is a seaside picturesque and bucolic town filled with boutique shops, great restaurants and a predominantly public gay community.

Key West, Florida is very much the same.

The world is filled with gay communities where prejudice is non-existent, at least from the local people and mostly ignored from those who visit, vacation and dally there because it is a great place to be.

Gay communities have been around for centuries and only those people who cannot acknowledge the divinity within all people see gay communities as an abomination against their singular belief of a narrow dogma.

I suggest to all those who see a gay life style as bad that they embrace the graciousness of the Divine who unconditionally loves all choices so that the All That Is experiences us as us.

For many years being gay was considered an abhorrent behavior of a deviant few and an affront to society and to the Divine. I don't think that's true anymore since the issue has moved into the national political arena. The affront to society is from the anti-gay zealots, the narrow-minded, the intolerant and the spiritually prejudiced who refuse to embrace the grace of unconditional love in their belief systems.

Social acceptance of a gay life style and marriage will eventually become the norm.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pan Mass Challange

I had an experience over the weekend that amplified my confidence in the humanity of man to help others. I observed the Pan Mass Challenge. It is a bike-riding endeavor of 192-milles from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA, on the tip of the Cape Cod Peninsula.

The reason thousands and thousands of bike riders accept this challenging trek is to raise money for cancer research and subliminally to bring awareness to so many who have never experienced a personal family or friend's cancer illness.

I waited at the finish line for my son and his wife to arrive not only to my expanded pride and appreciation of their accomplishment, but to the cheers, applause and accolades of hundreds of others who were there to welcome the arrival of all who chose the endurance of this mileage.

My son, Gregg and his wife Julie rode for Gregg’s brother and my son Lee who passed eleven years ago from brain cancer and they rode for Gregg’s mother, my wife Ann, who is a cancer survivor; for that reason alone it is an emotional experience.

There is so much more to the Pan Mass Challenge than the thousands of poignant personal stories. Each rider has one.

There is the visual empathy of the man who finished the challenge with one leg. He peddled the entire 192-miles, up-hills and more, with one leg. The stub of his right leg figuratively watching the empty peddle below go around and around.

There is the surprise of watching sixty year olds, seventy year olds and even octogenarians cross the finish line and be welcomed by colleagues, compatriots and graying companions.

I have seen and covered many fund raising events in my experience as a news reporter. I have never seen anything as emotional as this or as altruistic. Each rider must raise 42-hundred dollars for cancer research just to compete. Every single dollar goes to research. There are no administrative or promotional costs to this non-profit organization.

Bravo Pan Mass Challenge and thank you to all who rode.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hiroshima and more.

Today is the the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

The Japanese have a word "Mokusatsu." It is comprised of two characters. Moku, meaning "with silence" and Satsu, meaning, "To Kill". Mokusatsu has two meanings depending on how it is used. It can mean to "refrain from comment" or it can mean "to ignore".

Toward the end of the war, the allies issued the Potsdam ultimatum to Japan which said, "surrender or be crushed."

Japan apparently was ready to capitulate, but wanted more time to discuss it internally.

The Japanese issued a policy of "mokusatsu," in response to the Potsdam ultimatum with the refrain from comment meaning. That meaning, however, was mistranslated somewhere in the sending or receiving of it and it read to the allies, "the Japanese government ignores the Potsdam ultimatum." To recall the inaccurate translation would been an unthinkable loss of face for the Japanese.

A few days later the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. One word misinterpreted.

If we extrapolate that concept down to individual levels, how many arguments, tragedies, feuds, difficulties and disagreements were begun because there was a misunderstanding of word meanings?

You count them for you. I know mine.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Memories of Older Times

Since I was just back for a school reunion my mind goes back to what it was like in those days.

I remember a number of things that the young people of today have either never heard of, or remember only in stories from their family conversations.

When I was fourteen I joined the Junior Ground Observer Corps. This was in the middle 1950’s and America was still comfortably nestled in the cold war fear. It was always possible and could happen.

I joined the Junior Ground Observer Corps in my community. A bunch of us kids would volunteer to take a shift of time in a tall tower on a high point in our town calling in the altitude and direction of any plane we could observe with binoculars. We were sort of citizen radars using our eyes instead of electronic beams.

I was given a wallet size plastic card with little transparent circles on it. The circles ranged in size from just smaller than a dime to about a quarter inch in diameter. When a plane would fly over I would hold the plastic card at arms length and fit the plane’s silhouette into one of the circles. Depending on what circle the plane fit into, I could determine the approximate altitude.

Then I’d pick up the phone, there were no dials on it, and an operator would say, “number please” and I’d say, “aircraft flash” and be immediately connected to some distant male voice who’d say, “report please”.

I’d give my location, and then the approximate altitude, the direction of travel and the type of plane I observed, prop or jet, how many engines it had if I could determine it and then hang up.

Eventually radar got better and the Ground Observer Corps was no longer needed. The towers vanished, but not the memories of a simpler time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Poetic Memories

When I attended my 50th high school reunion I prepared a few remarks, but I did so in poetic fashion.

Here is a portion of what I said, sans the personal reference to specific classmates.

Since poetry is part of life
And I have fun with rhyme
I’ll speak tonight about our past
And how we’ve changed with time.

It’s great to see old faces here
I do not recognize.
It’s also great to see the ones
I’ve kept in friendly ties.

There’re many things I know as true
These senior years, et all.
The first one is the memory goes
The rest I can’t recall.

There are four ages of each life
Where we did oft’ excel.
There’re teens and youth and middle age
The last, “You’re looking well.”

You know you’re getting older
When underwear creeps high
And pants fall down or nothing fits
And people call you spry.

We all use drugs like Lipitor
Or something just the same
To watch our H and L.D.L.
So clogs will not remain.

Now some of you have moved away
And had your houses sold.
It’s not that you were getting on
You just can’t take the cold.

One Nine and sixty was the year,
We went our separate ways
With some to learn and some to work
And plan our IRA’s.

It’s funny how we’ve changed around
From youthful skinny skin.
Now muscle bulk is in our waist
And hair is what is thin.

The many things they did not teach
When we left school back then
Was, what to do when kids arrive
Accept to say amen.

But now our kids have perfect kids
And we give lots of slack.
We play with them and love them free
Cuz we can give them back.

You want to know what age you are
Just squint your face like this.
Then count the rings around the eyes,
The crow’s feet just dismiss.

When young we ran when walk would do
To speed us on the road
Of life and love forever more
Before careers plateaued.

So let me say with certain thought
That we are here today
To hug and grasp old friends and pals
Since paths did go astray.

We’ve all become our destiny
With more, for sure, to come
With disappointments and some pride
Of actions we’ve begun.

But when we stop to think with thought
The things we think were done
They’re many things we know were right
And some were yarns we’ve spun.

The fact that we are here tonight
With visions of the past
Is testimony to the fact
That friendships truly last.

There comes a time in all our years
When we look back at youth.
Some memories fade and others hold
Not always with the truth.

There’s something ‘bout a century half
That marvels to the mind
Why some are here and others not
Yet, we remain entwined.

We’re fatter now and grayer too
And some of us are gone
To Heaven’s field of blissful truth
Where every day's a song.

We’ll all get there somehow, someday
And memory will come back.
No glasses then to read the tags
To know it’s Bill or Jack.

So fifty years have traveled by.
It seems like so much less.
Some things have changed in all that time
So let me now digress.

Dwight-Ike was still the President
When we walked cross the stage
A loaf of bread cost twenty cents.
The Flintstones were the rage.

Ben Hur was new and Can Can too
And Checker sang the twist.
Gas was cheap at just a quarter.
When parking, we just kissed.

You want to know how costs have changed
Since leaving OHS?
A House back then was 13K
A car was 2 point six.

We like Banderas and Hugh Grant
And Bono’s music too.
All three were born in that year
When high school we were through.

TV’s were mostly black and white
Cokes were just a nickel.
We feared destruction from the bomb
Sent from the hammer sickle.

Hi Fi was what we listened to
And Stereo was new.
McDonalds burgers -15 cents
And drugs were all taboo.

Jack Parr walked off his show that year
And Howdy Doody stopped.
MacMurry starred in My Three Sons
The Edsel finally flopped.

Dick Nixon and John Kennedy
Debated on TV.
Cronkite was an anchorman
But not on ABC

TV has changed from long ago
Commercials now have sex
With naked folks in tubs outdoors,
I wonder what is next?

But change is good, it always is
For that I hold no malice.
It’s nice to know I have some help
Viagra and Ciallis.

It does seem strange when some last talked
It was our senior year.
Fifty years have traveled by and
We’re back in Senior year.

I do not know what’s held in store
Beyond this passing night
I do for certain know a truth
This night is filled with light.

But let me keep us in the now
Where life should always be.
We all look good and just the same
I’m sure you will agree.

But just in case that is not true
We’ll lie a little more
Charades are for us senior folk
Our flaws we will ignore.

Let this be true forever more
Just put it in your heart
We’re old enough to stay good friends
And never trust a fart.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

50th High School Reunion

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had spent the weekend at my 50th high school class reunion.

It was both enjoyable and revelatory.

When you see some of the mates you’ve not seen in half a century or even when you have interacted with them at other reunions it is always a surprise at how they’ve change. How you have changed. Seeing old and long time companions in their current shells opens a window into the internal video of your life and choices.

Subliminally it is even more of a surprise at how you have changed. We all tend to look in a mirror and see ourselves as older, but not changed. I think it is a psychological alteration of our self-image. I am hoping that within each of us is our youthful spirit and in that embracement we see ourselves as perennially young.

I was delighted in the accomplishments of my former mates and proud to still call them friends. I do not know what trials they endured these fifty years or what tribulations came their way. I do know from the experience of the weekend that the essence of their being and mine has not changed one iota.

We live in an itinerate society today that takes us away from the daily interaction of childhood chums and pals. Jobs and circumstances take us to far off places. Choice often keeps us mired in place. Opportunity holds us to limited choices and fear of change sometimes keeps us sedentary.

This is not a truth that only exists in America. It is endemic to the global cultural communities and also to the tribal gatherings of family and beliefs systems that hold together in the illusion of form and matter.

I had the opportunity to speak to my old mates and friends and tomorrow I will share some of my vocal observations of the half-century.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Old Friends, New Times

I had a magnificent experience over the last few days. I attended my 50th high school reunion.

Many of my old friends and acquaintances also attended and it was an exercise in extrapolation of memory and then applying what you remember of a person to the weathering of age, accommodations of physical change and then marveling at their accomplishments.

I will be writing about that in the next few days.

Today’s post is short because it is late and I just got home and will let this missive be a tease of what’s to come.


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