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Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing:

The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer (s) and should not taken as official policy of ANY organization with which I am associated. Reading or sharing any post from this site shall be taken as an indication that you have read this disclaimer and understand it.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

It All Matters.

     There is a great deal of national consternation (if the media reports, facebook feeds, and memes are to be believed) about just who's lives matter the most.  We have the one side calling black lives matter a hate group; we have another side demanding more fair and just treatment by the police and criminal justice system and others trying to sit on the fence without committing to one side or the other.  That there are only three side is probably a mischaracterization on my part, but lets go with it for now.  
     The parallel is also underway in the quest for an increased minimum wage, where somehow some middle class workers have started social media threads generally characterized as "why should someone at McDonalds expect to make as much as me, or as much as a part-time paramedic, or (insert example to make point that low wage workers dont deserve more here)?" 
     In both cases, the reflection is of two opposing trends. One threatens our ability to make any progress as a nation at all ever period. The other is a hint at how we must look at the world that we have created and that is literally evolving before our eyes. This is reflected quite clearly in social media and in the two most suprisingly successful campaigns for president, those of Trump and Sanders. 
   In one corner we have the soundbite driven, low effort, say something that sounds great approach. Facts are unimportant. Its how you are made to feel. The perceived wound is made  better for a little while, even if there was no real treatment at all.  A testament to the diminished attention span generation  that I believe will be come to be known as: GenerationGoldenGoose. 
     In the other corner, a generation that feels the complexity of the world, its interdependencies and dynamics, even if they are not able to fully articulate it.  The walmart butterfly that can flap its wings in Bentonville and spark a workers revolt in South America, or lead a nation out of poverty. The start of a car engine in India that drives tar sands development in
Canada and a pipeline controversy in The US. The voters that are being inspired by the Sanders campaign appear to fall more into this camp, but time will tell if they remain there or move beyond political particpation as they become jaded and frustrated with the process. 
     In other words, we have a classic John Wayne western. But the reality is that the black and white, yes/no, good/bad world of the Cold War has been replaced with a Global socioeconomic crystalline entity, where we are all dependent on one another's actions in ways that are truly revolutionary and that would have been inconceivable only forty years ago. 
     Into this new reality, where we have multiple generations of viewpoint (which is less about age than politics, region, religion, and mindset) battling over the future of our country and the world, we now tred. Possibly unequipped in many ways to deal with what we face.  Arguing even over the very definition of country, world, and prospective.  Never demonstrated more effectively than by someone who argues against global climate change by saying it was cold in New England. 
     But whether we are discussing a refugee crisis in the middle east, or the legal system of Ferguson, Missouri, or the need for our law enforcement officers to be able to protect, serve, and come home, we have to be able to look at the  bigger more complex picture. We have to be able to take a step back and understand that in a world of complexities and dependencies there are no easy answers. There are no easy solutions.  It is just at this moment that we need to being all people to the table. And it is just at this moment that so many people are casting others away. Building a moat around the castle, convinced that a fence or a wall will save their ideas or their country. Sold the idea tha to disengage is the key to survival. Is it any Wonder that Trump's fence plan excites so many people, for it is a band-aid on a wound that has little to do with the reality of the sutuation. Its greatest offering is that it doesn't require anyone to learn, converse and develop an understanding of where we are, how we got here, and how we will move forward. But this epidemic of placebos can be found in other places and situations too. 
     Take for example Iran. What does anyone think the reality of Iran using a nuclear device on Israel would really be?  Both nations would cease to exist, as the United States would be obligated to retaliate on Israel's behalf. Although Iran is certainly a troubled country with elements that are very anti-israel and US, why would they undertake an action that would to their destruction and, likely, the destruction of a billion muslims?  Is not rhetoric a major part of any country's DNA?  What would America's right wing today have done at the bristling tone of Kruschev?  The world of 1960 was a much more dangerous place but we still came out on the other side. Having avoided a war that would have likely been the end. 
    There are many more examples beyond just these few and there will be many more until we get through this evolutionary hiccup. For until passionate people on all sides open up their history books and understand that the Civil War ended in name only in 1865 and that the realities of race remain unequal and troubled; until we all accept that we must have have an effective justice system to ensure the opportunity and safety of every citizen and until we can sit down and come to rational agreements about controversial issues we will remain in this era of political ineffectiveness and fear trumping progress. 
     When the fear of progress is replaced by the desire of understanding things will start to change. They already have in small ways- at local levels where people are demanding something better. Those blessed events,  where rage at changes not understood is being replaced by empathy for people not yet known, begin to shine light on the truth that it all matters. The life of the cop, of the black youth lost in Chicago to gun violence;  a refugee child lost on the shores of a distant sea due to a polticial tragedy 1000 years in the making;  the lost economic opportunity of a generation denied good jobs and of a west virginia ghost town that just couldnt hold on in the face of global transformation. 
     Yes we must  acknolwedge the crimes of our history towards black communities; we must acknolwedge the service of our public safety professionals and their sacrifice. And we must realize that as long as we accept life as "us versus them" (whoever them is) we will never move forward to a truly better world.  There is no us. There is no them. It is all we. And either we will meet the challenges of our present and our future. Or we wont. And no fence will save us from the failure to build the world some understand we must build. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

A buckeye, virgo, enfj writer looks at 41...

     Its a funny thing being forty.  That halfway mark in life is a crazy place. Makes you do all kinds of weird stuff.  Like a teething infant with little use for vocabulary, or even demonstrative hand gestures, you find yourself wanting, but not really knowing what, exactly. 
     Even more interesting is turning forty one.   Its the other side of the crest of the roller coaster now.  You want to do so many things. You have seen the entire park- from the waterslide to the go-carts; the old car ride to the theater (remember who we are talking about here). 
     But most of all what you do not want is that feeling. That part of the ride as you go down the hill and feel all of it slipping away. Except your internal organs which you distinctly feel trying to climb out of your nose. 
     That 15 seconds is the longest time on earth. Or so it feels.  And when you finally reach the end of the torture. When Newton's laws compel all the important parts back into position, you try to stand.  Probably wobble. And go on about your way. 
     Maybe you remember what you saw from the summit. That the other side of the park is really cool. But more likely, distracted by whatever, you tell yourself, maybe next time. 
     The oddest about about being on this side though, is that nagging question about how many next times there will be. How many more rides on the roller coaster?  How many more chances to see the whole park. Or at least make a really strong effort. To not waste away in the gift shop, or self induce a coma of fried food; soft serve ice cream; and heat stroke. You silently question what experiences you will leave undone. What curiosities or wonders will be uncircled on the amusment park map; or left unfulfilled in the bottom of that list's bucket. 
    I guess we really dont know that answer. Our time is written on the side of our bottle in ink only God can see.  And that is probably a good thing. For then it is up to us to make the most of what we are given. To ride the ride as often as we can. And to live not in fear of time that is dwindling, but in joy of experiences, on both sides of the roller coaster. To empty our buckets and cross off our lists in truest Virgo style, making the most of this crazy time riding down the other side of the mountain.