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Archive for July, 2012

From what I can gather, the quotation below is part of a tribute to Florence Nightingale by Karen Savage. I have no idea whether she is the audio books narrator, real estate broker, bank manager, assistant professor of music at the University of Washington, or the Karen Savage who lives in Bozman, Montana. Whoever she may be, she has hit the nail rather squarely on the head. My interpretation of what she has written is that someone asked her the question, “How does it feel to be old?” If that is the case, the person doing the asking was either a dear friend or a damned fool! Admittedly, it took me many more years than it should have to recognize the truth in what she is saying. Here is here quotation:

 

 “…As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world, too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

“Whose business is it, if I choose to read, or play, on the computer, until 4 AM, or sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50, 60 &70’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.

“I will walk the beach, in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves, with abandon, if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

“I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, I eventually remember the important things.

“Sure, over the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break, when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car? But, broken hearts are what give us strength, and understanding, and compassion. A heart never broken, is pristine, and sterile, and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

“I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

“As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

“So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).”
When I received this story from my sister in California, I had to believe that it was not Marilyn who was sending it along, it was the hand of my late wife, Joan, who was actually doing the sending. You see, for years, we didn’t think of ourselves first. Even after the kids were married, our lives pretty much revolved around them and the grandchildren. After Joan’s death, I found my life didn’t change that much. Except for the loneliness, much of life still seemed to be centered on my kids. When I decided that life would be far better with a new partner, it caused a schism within the family.

It was rather eye-opening when I discovered that I wanted to begin living my life on my own terms, not on the terms that would be dictated by my children. Yes, it was gut wrenching; then I began to think about the number of times I’d sent birthday cards with a bit of cash in them and never received a call, an e-mail or any kind of “thank you,” from the children of my daughters. I began to ask, “How much time does it take to pick up the phone and say, “thanks.” The answer is that it takes no time at all. This is my final year of sending $20.00 in each card. I have better ways to spend that money.

Recently, I had to schedule surgery. It’s a day thing but I have to be driven to the hospital and driven home. My partner doesn’t have a driver’s license.  When I announced the upcoming hospitalization via e-mail to my eldest, the reply was, “Keep us posted about the surgery.”  Since my youngest is vacationing on Cape Cod for a month, I can’t very well intrude on her. That leaves me with friends, all of whom have full-time jobs – I run with a younger crowd. I supposed that I could have taken a taxi, but I decided to “…be kinder to myself.” I have hired a corporate livery service as my mode of transportation…both ways yet!

As Savage says, “…I like being old. It has set me free. . I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).”

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The glittering generalities that are being bandied about by Governor Romney and President Obama during the lead-up to the Presidential campaigning that should begin to take place any day now are wonderful media bites. I cannot help but wonder, however, just when they are going to switch gears and tell us not about the failings of their opponent but what they are actually going to do to halt the decline of the American Empire. Frankly, I’m beginning to believe that neither candidate has a clue.

“We’re going to create millions of jobs…and I know how to do it! My opponent does not!” Okay, that all sounds well and good, but things didn’t work out to well for the President during his first term in office and they certainly weren’t demonstrated by Governor in his four-year stint here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Therefore, fellas, if you don’t begin to tell me precisely what you are going to do and how you are going to do it, I might just have to go looking around for someone with the courage to stand up and say I’m going to do this, this, and this in language I can understand and waste my vote on this poor bastard because we all know he doesn’t stand a chance. He’s too damned intelligent and that’s the last person we want in the Oval Office, someone who thinks for him or herself, and doesn’t really give a damn about where the chips may fall.

What is wrong with us that we accept at face value what the two candidates are saying? Right now, the glittering generalities – read that as political propaganda – that are coming in off the campaign trail really are saying nothing, nada, zero, zilch, zip! In addition, everyone is intent on blaming everyone and anyone else but themselves for the failure of America to move forward. Move forward? Where do we want to go? What does moving forward actually mean? Does it mean putting people back to work? Back to work doing what? What are these jobs that Americans are looking for? If they’re manufacturing jobs, America cannot compete with other countries who can manufacture the same products and at lower prices. We allowed that one to skip right on by us years ago. What, do we think we can turn back the hands of time? If Romney is an ‘outsourcer’ and Obama is an ‘insourcer,’ they’re both wrong. In the case of the Governor, how can you outsource and create jobs? Create them where, in what segment of the economy; in what new fields? Tell us, Governor; tell us the entire truth; you outsourced the hell out of jobs when you spent four years in the State House, so what happens in the White House? Mr. President, you want to bring these jobs back to America? What jobs can we actually do better than the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Indonesians, Pilipino workers and those places that pay zip and still do a better job than our own unionized – they have to be unionized, of course – workers? You saved the auto industry, you say. Well, hell, I wonder just how long that bubble is going to hang on before somebody from across the seas comes up with higher quality at a lower price.

Please don’t get me wrong; I love this country. I love everything about it, but as someone whose opinion I respect said to me recently, “You’ve been living in a white bread world for so long, you’ve got blinders on. You don’t have a clue about the problems of much of America because you’ve never lived them.” Despite the fact that I didn’t come from a wealthy or even middle-income family, she’s right. My working career was spent in higher education. That is not the real America. The students I met had the money to attend college; the faculty was in a world so far from day-to-day reality that I often questioned the sanity of most of those with whom I dealt. America is what makes up America. It’s the guy with the lunch box who builds the buildings that aren’t being rented. It’s the farmer who realizes that if his crop is deprived of rain and sunshine that he’s not certain how he can keep his family fed. It’s the researcher who is dependent on grant after grant if she’s ever going to find a cure for ALS or some mutated form of cancer, or whatever, and who goes to bed each night crying because she made no progress today and another ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand more died. America is cops and teachers, secretaries and law clerks. We are a hodgepodge of educated and uneducated, or socially conscious and criminally willing. We are what we are. That, I do know. I also know that I haven’t heard one God damned idea from either of these candidates about precisely how they are going to “Bring America Back.”

They’re out there, you know; the ones who have the new ideas; the ones who are not looking at this young 21st Century, but are casting their gaze much further down the road. They see the future and they know what it will take to get us there. They can see what jobs will be required, maybe not with complete clarity, but with far greater clarity than the people who are now in charge. They are the Bill Gates, Dean Kamen,s Steven Hawking’s,and others of their ilk. Maybe we aren’t aware of who all of them are. Maybe we just aren’t asking them the right questions, or maybe, just maybe, we don’t want to hear the answers.

We can develop greater weapons of mass destruction than ever before. We have guns and tanks and ships and planes that are terribly frightening…so have the ‘other guys.’ Is that what this country, other countries, the world is all about? Are we willing to abandon any hope of world survival by just building better WMD’s? C’mon folks, let’s stop the nonsense. Let us once again be the great nation we were in the past by being specific about how we’re going to plan our future and let’s knock off the glittering generalities, a.k.a., bullshit, that we’re hearing to much of from every candidate.

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Oh my Dear Lord in Heaven…another tragedy; another shooting; more innocent civilians slain by a madman! We have to ban guns; we have to tighten gun control laws; we have to; we have to; we have to…ah, bullshit.

James Holmes is not a madman. He is no madder than Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris; he is no crazier than Seung-Hui Cho. He is just as sane as Anders Behring Breivik,  Maj. Nidal Hasan, Michael McLendon, or any of the other mass murderers we read about. In nearly every case, the murders were planned and carried out in such a manner as to exclude insanity as a defense. Holmes planning; his booby-trapping of the apartment; his gear and his weaponry all were acquired months in advance.

The point is that these people and too many others just like them are out there. They live among us. They know, much better than you or me, how to acquire the materials they need for committing such mayhem. And when they wish to do so they will do it…and there isn’t one damned thing that we can do to prevent their actions. “Be alert;” “If it doesn’t look right, dial 9-1-1.” What a crock! I’m not going around all my life being alert or looking out for strange people…hell, I wouldn’t go to the gym in the morning…we’re all a bit weird looking at five o’clock in the morning. That doesn’t mean we’re going down the street to the local VA hospital and begin a rampage. Have you ever dialed 9-1-1?  My personal experience with that particular system have not been positive. I wind up getting connected to the State Police barracks in Framingham and have to have my call directed to the community in which the shit is hitting the fan. Like everything else, gun laws and the Obama health plan included, the system may be in place, but it certainly needs refinement.

Years ago, the FBI began a program of interviewing serial killers. They hoped to be able to isolate characteristics that would make it easier to understand why these people killed. Naturally, it was never made available to the public. It might change the patterns. So the public remains blissfully unaware of what might be viewed as “characteristics” and when the local Boy Scout troop leader, the postman, the professor, the doctor, the game warden or whoever is arrested as a mass murderer in his or her own right, everyone says, “Ooh, he/she didn’t look like the type to do something like that. I never would have known.” Maybe not, but there might have been some kind of curious behavior that would have caused suspicions to be raised.

We do not live in a police state. We don’t go around snooping on our neighbors. We pretty much know why Klebold, Harris, and any number of school kids turned guns on their classmates, teachers, administrators, and staff. Why do you think there is such an increase in anti-bullying programs? We attempt to teach respect for individual lifestyles that are not exactly our own; we try to inculcate in our children a respect for cultural and social differences. We fail. We try…but we fail. Where does good natured teasing end and bullying begin? When does “stop” really mean “STOP?” When is a ‘noogie’ not just a noogie, but a punch that is not so good natured? When is name calling not a friendly gesture? Was this the case with Holmes? Your guess is as good as mine.

Changing gun laws is not going to do a thing but drive gun sales further underground. I do not pretend to be Mr. Wizard here. I know that the NRA lobby has Congress in its pocket so we aren’t going to see any changes out of Washington. I know that if I need an illegal weapon and have the cash, it probably won’t take too much of an effort to purchase one. And, believe me, if I know how to do it, the vast majority of our population has a pretty damned good idea of how to do it.

So the Columbines and the Auroras, the local businesses, schools, and colleges, with pissed off employees, bullied children, and angry graduate students will find a way to “get even” and go on a shooting rampage. It seems to be a sign of our times that people take offense more easily and are quicker to end the offense by ending the lives of those they view as their tormentors. Can we blame violent television programming and violence in the theatres? I think that’s a part of our problem but I cannot put a percentage of ‘blame’ on either industry. Is lack of stability in family life part of the problem? Yes, but again, how much can be attributed to that? We no longer live in a society that is slow to change. Change is happening all around us at a speed that is too great a challenge for some people. Perhaps that, too, is part of our societal problem. Whatever is causing people like Holmes to do what he did, prepare for more of it. It is not a question of if it’s going to happen; it’s just a question of when, where, and how many.

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It has been declared by those “in the know” that exercise of the mind is of equal importance to exercise of the body. Now who ‘those’ are is fascinating. They range from overweight and sedentary researchers to overweight and sedentary physicians to the exercise fanatics in both categories. My personal feeling is to trust me when it comes to things that deal with my body. If I’m doing something wrong, my body will tell me; conversely, if what I am doing makes the internal me say, “Way to go…you old fart,” then that too is revealed. I neither know nor do I care whether or not you have a body that expresses itself to you verbally or transcendentally.

When children, it seems to affect boys more than girls, experience a major growth spurt into or as a part of puberty all sorts of changes take place. While my memory fades regarding some of the more dodgy aspects of growing up, I do recall that (a) I grew from under five feet nine inches tall to a bit over six feet three inches tall in the course of about eight months; (b) that I began to grow hair in places where hair had never grown before, and; (c) that girls my own age were developing bumps in places that I thought would be terrific to research…obviously most young women did not share my research tendencies. See, women are much smarter than men, even at an early age!

Getting a bit serious for the moment, the phrase, “dumb jocks,” is often a contradiction in terms. Yes, there are some athletes who prefer to work their bodies much harder than their brains. At the more senior levels of competition, I would much prefer to lay blame – ah, that great American trait – at the feet of the coaches who exploit their charges rather than mentoring, tutoring, or advising them (all are definitions of the word coach). A number of years ago, there was a professional basketball player who was, reportedly, a high school and college graduate. The news story was not that he had signed with a professional team but that he couldn’t sign his name because he didn’t know how to read and write. Is the story true? I have no idea. It might not been as dramatic as an inability to write one’s own name, but there could very well be some validity to a portion of the story. Social promotion based on athletic ability is never justifiable. Since that sport with which I have been mainly involved has been swimming, I may be a bit prejudiced, but I can tell you first-hand that these are, as a group, extremely bright young men and women.

According to Web, MD, “Anyone with a brain exercises these days, but did you know that exercise can return the favor and train your brain? Not only is exercise smart for your heart and weight, but it can make you smarter and better at what you do.

“I like to say that exercise is like taking a little Prozac or a little Ritalin at just the right moment,” says John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of A User’s Guide to the Brain. “Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.”

Physical exercise releases pleasure chemicals, endorphins if you will, that give you feelings of pleasure. You may have heard me tell the story of going through cardiac rehabilitation after my first heart attack: I hadn’t exercised in years – probably a big part of the reason for the heart attack – and part of the rehab was physical exercise. While walking on a treadmill one day several weeks into my rehab training I began to laugh uncontrollably. These weren’t little smiles or ‘tee-hee’s,’ but full out, darn near hysterical laughter. The late Ann Brown, R.N., director of the program came over and said, “Just had an endorphin rush, eh?” It had been so long since I exercised that I had no idea of what was happening. I had released chemicals into my body, mind, and immune system that gave fantastic pleasure, yet at the same time had a calming effect, and made me feel that I could run on that treadmill all day long. It’s extremely difficult to describe the “high” that one gets from endorphins. It is, simultaneously, a calming effect that allows one to think more clearly and at the same time, it delivers a feeling of added strength to the body. As more than one research has described it, “An endorphin rush is the cheapest and most legal way to get high.”

Exercising the brain by exercising the body is important. However, if strenuous exercise isn’t your thing, there are other ways of working your brain to keep it sharp. Crossword puzzles and any number of computer games can keep the mind on edge. When I was teaching police officers, particularly the 8 a.m. group, I found that brain teasers worked as a “mind warm-up.” None of these will take the place of strenuous exercise; however, they can serve as a substitute…once in a while!

Take it from one who was laid back and lazy most of my life, there is nothing like strenuous exercise for an hour or so. Of course, it’s also in your best interest to check with your doctor beforehand. Good luck!

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Having little better to do with my time…I’m not thrilled with the book I’m currently reading, and spending too much time at the gym draws strange stares from both men and women. Anyway, having nothing better to do with my time, I went searching for a word that aptly describes 21st Century politics in the United States of America. It was easily found in the word, ‘parody.’ A parody has been defined as an imitation of something that is meant to make fun of it.

Presidential politics today is nothing more than a parody of presidential politics of the 19th Century.  Think about it for a moment.  According to About.com, “The election of 1800 was one of the most controversial in American history, and was marked with intrigue, betrayals, and a tie in the electoral college.” Yet another source states, “The presidential election results in 2000 will probably go down in history as the most contested results in American history, especially as the final outcome was so close and had to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.” Like its counterpart two centuries before, the election of 2000 also had its fair share of intrigue, with the defeated candidate garnering more of the popular vote than the eventual winner. The intrigue began with the State of Florida where the brother of the eventual winner was Governor. It ended with the Supreme Court being accused of party politicking in the manner in which it handled the controversy involving voting in Florida.

There are any number of parallels that can be drawn between the various elections of the 1800s and those occurring in the 2000s. James Madison was reelected in 1812, five months after war had broken out. To this day, no sitting president has been replaced with a war in progress. George Bush had a couple of wars going in 2004, thus pretty much guaranteeing his reelection.

Unlike the 1800s, campaigning today can reach millions of voters through television and radio. In the “old days,” campaigning was largely through writing letters and dependency on various newspaper writers for support. Newspaper distribution, however, was far more difficult than it is today.

It is possible, I suppose, that because the 20th Century was so filled with war, conflict, and other terms all meaning the same thing that we haven’t heard as much about the dirty techniques used by either incumbents or the candidates attempting to unseat them. Oh, sure, much has been written about President Richard Nixon and his foibles but beyond that, the 1900s seemed to be a time of what I have to classify as ‘peaceful presidencies.’

As I watch and listen to what is happening in 2012, I’m disturbed by the lies and distortions from both sides. It brings me back to my old way of thinking; that is, “If a person openly seeks to become President of the United States, he – or she as we are now seeing – is probably not the person we want to be sitting in the Oval Office. And, those who should be sitting there and who would do an outstanding job of running the country are just too damned smart to get themselves involved in the bullshit it takes to become the leader of the free world.”

Don’t get me wrong; I have no trouble with Obama as President. I believe that he is a weak leader at best and at worst, a man who fears he won’t leave a legacy. That’s not to say that given a second term he might prove me wrong. However, I do believe there are other men and women in the country, Black, Brown, Yellow, and White, who are smarter and who are stronger personalities. I do not believe the incumbent has exercised the old adage, “Always hire people who are smarter than you.” Instead, he has been dictated to by his party regarding his political appointments. Forgetting his health care bill for a moment, if Barack Hussein Obama has done nothing else in his first term, he has shown America and the rest of the world that the American Dream lives on. He is a parody of nothing. The system in which he finds himself is most certainly a parody of American politics at its very worst.

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Write about nothing

“What do you wish to write about?”

“That’s very poor grammar.”

“Okay smart-ass…About what do you wish to write?”

“Mmmm…I suppose that will do…nothing.”

“Do nothing what? What are you saying?”

“I don’t wish to write about anything, okay?”

“Ah…No, el stupido, it is not ‘okay;’ you must write.”

“But I have nothing…careful now…about which to write…okay?”

“Look, why don’t you write about politics. You could write about the first billion dollar presidency; all the money that’s being raised to support Romney and Obama. You could question the legitimacy of the whole thing. Who’s buying the Presidency? What will they get out of it? Talk about how the only losers in the race will be the American people. You know, if Obama gets in and the Republicans still control the House, it’ll just be another four years of stalling. If Romney wins, the Senate will screw him the same way the House screws Obama. That’s a good topic, man; write about that.”

“I write about that crap all the time. It always turns into the same thing; a freakin’ rant about Congress, the Republican leadership, the effect of the Tea Party – what a bunch of assholes – and then, I just wind up citing facts and figures…and people are sick and tired of reading that stuff. Besides, you and I both know that elections aren’t won by putting real facts and figures in front of people. People elect people who please them in some way other than bullshit promises that everyone knows is bullshit. It’s not right, but it’s the way we elect selectmen, mayors, state officials, and so forth up the line. When politicians say, ‘Your vote counts,’ they mean that it counts only if they think the election will be close. Even then, I really don’t believe them.  Seems to me that a lot of people don’t even care; figure it out; only about 38 percent of the voting age population turned out in the 2010 general election. See, there you go, I’ve started on the freaking statistics again. No, no, no, politics is out. I want to write about nothing!”

“What the hell does that mean; you want to write about nothing? Gimme a definition of ‘nothing’ and I’ll try to come up with some ideas.”

“Dipstick, how can I give you a definition if I don’t even know what nothing is?”

“But you wanna write, right?”

“Let me ask you a simple question. Have you ever been in the backyard, lying on a chaise, looking up at the sky, watching those big puffy clouds go by, and suddenly, you realize that all you’re doing is lying there, looking a big, puffy clouds…and that nothing else matters but looking at those big, stupid, damned clouds. Your mind has emptied itself of everything but the blue of the sky and the puffiness or maybe the color of those clouds. That’s nothing; that’s a freedom in your mind to think about absolutely nothing but the color of the sky and the puffiness of the clouds.”

“Ah, no…no, I’ve never done that. I did it when I was a kid, but I’m a grown-ass man now and I don’t do that anymore. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a little attitude adjustment and time to come out and play with the big boys…do ya think?

“Maybe I’m too damn dumb to play with the big boys, okay? Or maybe the big boys are too dumb to stop and look at the color of the sky and the big puffy white clouds. Look, until I had my third heart attack I wasn’t all that dissimilar to those ‘big boys’ as you call them. I sweated my job; I sweated my taxes; I sweated who was taking the country and where was it going; I sweated a whole pile of that crap. Then I woke up one day and realized…that’s what it is. It’s all crap. I used to say to people that if I lost my job I could always wash cars or bag groceries or work at Walmart. Might have to shift my lifestyle a bit but what the hell, the kids are grown and out of the house – which is paid for, by the way –  and might even have to downsize my life. But you know what…the same people who take all of this stuff so seriously are the same ones who think they’re gonna get out of it alive. And the fact of the matter is, we’re all gonna die. Yes, we have to do things to make life better for our grandchildren; yes, we have to protect ourselves against those who would take our lives too early…and that’s on the domestic front as well as from foreign countries. I’m not saying that the entire world should say, “Fuck this,’ and lay down on the grass, the asphalt, or the desert and let the world go to hell. No, what I’m saying is that life is exceedingly short…for anyone…and too few of us take the time to look at the ocean, stare at the stars, watch the puffy clouds, watch the flowers when they open in the morning, and all that stuff. Let me give you just one example: My son and his family live in Colorado Springs. He works for USA Swimming. He and his colleagues were at Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. The fire in Colorado started getting close to his neighborhood. He and some friends left the trials and headed home. He was lucky; the fire stopped one street over. His friends weren’t so lucky; several of them and several of his other friends weren’t so lucky; their houses are now just ash. So, you know what my kid’s gonna do while everyone else heads for London. He’s taking his family camping in the mountains. Oh, he had the credentials to go to the games, but they had a close call. It made him think about what life is all about, and life is not all about busting your balls so some kid can shave a hundredth of a second off his time and win a medal. Nope, he’s going up where the sky is blue; the clouds are puffy white, and; the mountain lakes are so cold and clear you can see the bottom a long way from shore. That’s nothing; that’s the stuff about which I want to write.”

“Okay, good; now, whatcha gonna write about?”

“Oy…why do I bother?”

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“It’s not my fault!”

“Sorry.”

“I didn’t do nothing.”

“He didn’t mean it” (childhood version); “He didn’t mean it” (teenage version); “He didn’t mean it” (adult version).

Taking responsibility for one’s actions seems to be a rarity in today’s world. Anything that happens has at its core, it would appear, nothing to do with the perpetrator. “Oh, he had a bad childhood.” “Oh, she comes from a single parent home.” Oh, his parents lost their home…therefore, whatever the child did is the fault of the parents for not making enough money to keep the home; the employer for not paying a large enough salary; the bank for not understanding and foreclosing, and even; the President of the United States for not moving the economy ahead fast enough. However, it is not the fault of the person who perpetrated whatever activity for which everyone else is to blame. What nonsense!

I listened to a convicted murderer the other night maintaining that it was not his fault because the woman he killed wasn’t supposed to be home when he went to burgle it. The fact that he beat her senseless and stuffed a sock down her throat was irrelevant to him. It was her fault for being home. Excuse me? That one I can almost understand. The guy was stupid…and you can’t fix stupid. Shoot him and let’s get on with life; two in the head and toss him into the pit…bingo, no more problems from that one.

People are just unwilling to admit that something they did or caused to happen was/is their fault. It appears that as a nation, Americans must assess blame on someone when something bad happens. They then turn around and make excuses for the one who caused the blame. A drunk driver hits another car and kills three people returning home from an ice cream outing. He goes to court and pleads “Not guilty.” What the hell is that all about? You were driving under the influence and killed three people, and you’re denying it. No, not right; save us the time and money of any kind of a trial. Suck it up and take your punishment. Even the courts don’t take responsibility. If you kill someone while you’re drunk, that should be second degree murder. Forget this 18 months or three years on a work farm. ..25 years to life is not too harsh a sentence. You, my friend, are alive; those you hit won’t see another birthday or laugh or have ice cream again. What is a human life actually worth? Wake up, members of the judiciary. Wake up, members of the state legislatures. Force people to be responsible for their actions with penalties that will make them think.

I love it when children say, “I’m sorry.” What the hell are you sorry for? You’re not sorry you did what you did; you’re sorry you got caught. How does that help the situation? Why are you sorry and why do others attempt to make excuses for you?

In my very first job after graduating from college, I made a printing mistake that ended up costing the university $350. That’s a pittance in today’s world of big money. I went to my boss and told him, “Dean, I fucked up,” and I went on to tell him what had happened. He didn’t lose his temper; he didn’t have to; picture a face the color of the reddest apple you’ve ever seen…his was much redder than that. “I should fire your ass,” he told me, “but at least you had the guts to tell me before I found out from someone else. If you make a mistake like that again, you’re gone.” I never made a mistake like that again.

It’s hard to admit you’re wrong. It hurts. Making excuses hurts more. Making excuses reduces you in the eyes of others. Making excuses for others should reduce you in your own eyes. Accidents are accidents and they happen. Are there gray areas; of course there are. However, there are too many areas that are black and white where we try to make excuses.

During the past three years, the one piece of significant national legislation that has been signed into law is the National Health Care Bill. Its legality has been upheld by the highest court in the land. Yet, members of Congress are still playing the blame game and so is the President of the United States. For God’s sake, stop acting like children and begin behaving like adults. The bill is now law; it’s not a perfect bill. The Congress knows this and so does the President. However, it’s the first time through seven Presidents that a health bill has been passed.  We didn’t elect you people…all of you, Mr. President…to act like a bunch of schoolyard bullies. There is work to be done and you folks can’t do it because you refuse to be accountable to anyone but your own party. To hell with the American people!

Okay, enough of the rant. Perhaps that’s where the rest of us have learned that we don’t have to accept responsibility for our actions. Or is it because our parents have always defended us…”My child would never do that.” If your child grows up being protected and being told that he or she is always in the right, what can we expect when they’re out on their own?

How bad has it gotten. We’re now making excuses for the chimpanzees that ripped a volunteer apart in South Africa at the Jane Goodall Institute. Supposedly, the chimps aren’t to blame because they saw their mother killed by poachers and this volunteer was a reminder of that incident. Sorry, don’t buy it; someone knows how to read chimp’s minds? Did one of the chimps tell that to a game warden? “Geez, looked just like the guys who killed Ma!” No, it isn’t funny at all, but don’t make excuses for the wild animals. If you wish, blame the volunteer who stepped in between two fences to remove a stone that shouldn’t have been there. That wasn’t his job; it was the job of someone trained to know the chimps and able to grab the stone without incident. So, is the volunteer to blame for damn near getting himself killed? Yes, I think so. The chimp’s reactions had nothing to do with “seeing their mother killed by poachers.” It had to do with them behaving like the wild animals they are. You cannot “…pet the nice lion,” and then wonder what happened to your arm…if you’re lucky.”

We are accountable for our actions. We are responsible for what we do. Accept that and you’re on your way to becoming a productive member of society.  Don’t accept it and wind up in the sewer with the rest of the rats.

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