Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gay Marriage

I don’t often get so politicized in my columns. I try to write columns that will appeal to all thinking people about moral issues related to their lives. The FACT that I am a Christian I normally keep low key so that I might open doors that would not be open. I don’t want to preach to the choir. I want to preach to all in an effort to lift our whole society.

Yet I am a Christian and come from a Christian perspective. My creed is: “credo put intelligam” which means “I believe in order that I might understand.” So you know the tinted glasses I wear. This column goes to almost 700 people now and, while I appreciate all of you for your interest, I will now risk offending you. I fully expect to lose over 200 subscribers to this column with my views on this topic.

Gay Marriage

The Supreme Court of my neighboring state has decided to go against the wishes of the majority of Californians and allow the issuing of permits for Gay Marriage. This was voted on twice by the people of California to NOT allow and now the state courts have decided the people didn’t know what they were talking about and so gay marriage is now legal.

Let me break this down and simply as I possibly can. Gay Marriage is wrong from a NON-religious perspective because:
- You are giving the STATE control over a NON-political institution. The equivalent of the State telling you that you may only teach creation as a FACT in your schools
- You are giving the STATE permission to be a despot. Dictating what you can and cannot think, can and cannot do now that Gay Marriage is open and available anything that opposes that would be considered law suit material. (Zondervan Corporation in Michigan is currently begin sued for $70 million because they print the NIV Bible which states homosexuality is evil and bad and so is causing “emotional distress”)
- You are opening a door to other deviant (meaning non-traditional) forms of marriage. How could we possibly stop Mormons from having more than one wife? How could we possibly stop female teachers from having sex with and marrying their 13 year-old students?
- You believe that the fall of the traditional marriage means that it doesn’t work and is not doing what it is supposed to in society. YOU ARE RIGHT! But that does not mean you throw out the baby with the bathwater. The fact that traditional marriage is falling down doesn’t mean we have permission to trash the whole thing.
- You are calling on the State to dictate a belief. A belief that homosexuality is natural, a belief that gay marriage should be good if you both love each other, a belief that a vocal minority can dictate to a lazy majority, a belief that a 3000 year old tradition is now wrong, and many more beliefs all dictated by the state to others to believe.
- You literally gain nothing. In every state you can designate who your caretaker is, who your inheritor is, and who you chose to live with and have sex with. What are you gaining?

If you are a Christian the answer is simple:
- Practicing homosexuality is condemned VERY strongly in the Bible. There really is no way you can nuance away this teaching. Both New Testament and Old call it sin.
- The belief that you can be born with homosexual tendencies is not really an issue. You might be but that still doesn’t excuse GIVING IN to those tendencies. We are all born with tendencies towards sin but we are called to fight the urge not make it legal.
- God instituted marriage between a man and a women and that “one flesh” bond is and should be stronger than any other bond in our lives. Even though we as Christians divorce and fall that doesn’t mean the institution is bad, it means WE are bad and in need of a Savior.

Wrong is wrong, sin is sin, and sometimes you just have to take a stand against the tide of public opinion and say “ENOUGH!” I love my country and though battered and bruised from enemies outside and in, she still stands. Look for me way down at the foundation where I will be working hard to shore it up. Will you not join me?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Self Interest Well Understood

We sat across each other at the negotiating table. He had his talking points in front of him on a yellow pad, scribbled hastily as if he did it during his break time. At the table with us was a mediator who was there to keep the peace as much as help us negotiate a solution. I knew my boss supported me in whatever decision I would come up with and I was prepared to give some ground in the interests of keeping the peace and simple sympathy.

Two weeks ago I had fired my whole department. Twenty-two people were told they had two weeks to find other jobs and/or reapply for their old positions. In the meantime I had restructured the whole department and had all new job descriptions approved. I was hired to clean house get the shipping and receiving department’s accuracy from 50% up to 99%. People had taken the warehouse jobs thinking they were gravy jobs. They drove a forklift all day. Jobs were given based on seniority not on interviews or past performance and so accuracy had become a joke.

The former employee started by attacking me personally. The negotiator stopped that after a few rants and she asked for specific grievances that he had. He began to rant against my restructuring and that I only did it so I could hire women. I was being accused of prejudice against men and only wanted women in my department. It was an interesting coincidence that the only former employees that I hired back were women, but they simply were good employees who happened to be women. When it came to my turn I offered an out for him, I offered to keep him in his job for another month so he could find another job within the company or prove me wrong with his performance. He was so fixated on the grievance and so sure he would win he never applied for any of the many open positions that he could have gotten with his seniority, so if the grievance didn’t go his way, he was out of a job. He threw it back in my face as if it was a smelly rag.

The mediator really had nothing to mediate. He had no real grievance and just thought if he blew enough steam my way I would relent. He left the company that day.

Alexis de Tocqueville said in Democracy in America that Americans had mastered the concept of “self interest well understood.” His definition was that we understood that we had to give up a small portion to others in order to get a large portion of what we want. We understood that we had to think of everybody once in a while instead of just ourselves and when we did that, we would get MOST of what we wanted.

This former employee lost sight of that concept. I was willing to keep him around and give him a chance to either prove himself as indispensable or have another job in the company. He didn’t understand and so lost both. I wonder if Tocqueville would say the same thing about America today. I wonder if we would be willing to give up some or ALL of our self interest for the interests of the whole. Is your self interest well understood?

Monday, July 14, 2008


Are you successful? How do you measure whether you are or not? What REALLY does being successful mean? Does it mean having a lot of money? Having a GREAT job? Having a great family? Having your kids have a lot of money? What really is success? I went to the ultimate guru of all information Wikipedia and found that “Success MAY mean: a level of social status, achievement of an objective or goal, or simply the opposite of failure.” I went to the etymology of the word and I find it is Latin for “not retreating” or not yielding. I like that definition.

Do you realize how new being successful in life is? Success is a very new concept, not retreating in military terms is as old a war but success in life or in your profession is a VERY new concept, like less than 200 years old. Previous in our history you simply took your place in society, you never even thought about success. If your father was a farmer then you grew up to be a farmer and when you were ready you took your place, married, and had kids that would also grow up to be farmers. If you were a smithy then your father was a smithy and so would your children be. Rarely would be the time where a farmer would venture out to be a smithy. It was an economic thing but also a status thing. If you were a nobleman, your father was one and your son would be. When you were “of age” you would simply take your place in society. No one would worry about whether you were a successful smithy, or a successful farmer because if you weren’t you simply would not eat. Even when the US began factories and mining in the 1800’s you still didn’t think about being successful, you simply provided or didn’t provide for your family.

You could see Americans start to think about doing more gradually over the last 150 years but it was few and far between and really only in America because this truly is the land of opportunity. It would take another few decades for the rest of the world to catch up. Being a success in your life exploded after World War II when a million men came home after staring death in the face and wanted to do more with their life than simply take their place. They wanted something better for their kids then what they had. They DIDN’T want them to simply take their place, they wanted them to go to school, college, and do something great with their lives and not retreat – to succeed!

As with many things, we need to be careful of what we ask for or we will get it. Americans became VERY successful and now we expect success. We used to work for it but now we just expect that it will drop in our laps and we will have a lot of money, a great family, and the respect of all we encounter; all without working for it. As the enemy advances we retreat to our government or church or others to take care of us.
However we define success there are two things I know for sure: that it will NEVER come without hard work and sacrifice AND that it comes when you LEAST expect it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Captain Ahab

The antiseptic floors smell like and remind me of a hospital every time I walk in, but it is not a hospital. The tile floors echo the footsteps of the scrubs-clad employees as they push wheelchairs or simply walk with the residents of the nursing home. Every time I come here I feel humbled and receive a quick, fresh breeze of gratitude when I think that many here are younger than my own parents who still play golf and travel to visit their grandchildren.

Margaret is bitter. The bitterness comes from doctors who ignore her aches and pains, nurses and attendants who ignore her needs and wants, and, especially, children and grandchildren who simply ignore everything. Margaret navigated her electric wheelchair through the nursing home as if it was a throne. She dispensed orders to the vassals and serfs with a short temper and a long, piercing, still-strong voice. Crowds literally part in front of her, partly because she is an erratic driver but mostly because of who she is.

I had a chance to sit and talk with Margaret this week. She is losing her mind and she knows it, Alzheimer’s is taking it a piece at a time and the pieces left are not pleasant. In a focused and lucid period we talked and she confessed that the care really wasn’t doing that bad, she had been in worse places. She also confessed that her children were a few states away and it was hard for them to get to Las Vegas to see her. And she confessed that it was her that demanded they take her to Las Vegas for her care almost DARING her family to show her that they love her by having to travel so far to see her. So I asked the difficult question: “Why all the bitterness and anger?” This very sharp, former professional accountant, simply said, “I can’t help it. I have been angry so long I cannot stop it any more. I feel like Captain Ahab who just HAS TO slay that white whale. And I see it everyday and everyday I pull out my harpoons and attack.”

I was taken aback by her candor and her knowledge. It wasn’t long after she said this that she slipped back into Ahab mode and said, “I have to go, they probably screwed up making my bed again!” and she turned her throne around and headed off. I was reminded of a quote from Moby Dick. Melville said “As if his chest had been a mortar he burst his hot, heart’s shell upon it.” Speaking of Ahab’s self-destructive battle with the whale, Melville could have said the same of Margaret.

Let it go. Pull in your anger and bitterness harpoons because when you loose them they only injure you and your white whale floats oblivious of your battle. Call me Ishmael.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Word Vision

Have you ever heard words that don’t give you information as much as they give you a picture, an emotion, or a vision?

Beautiful Woman (by AR Ammons)

The spring

her step

turned to

Cal you see it? Can you picture it in your mind? Can you see the beautiful woman? What I like about this short, one sentence poem is that you really don’t know if it is positive or negative? It doesn’t say the beautiful woman is no longer beautiful. In fact I would dare say that if you are reading this as a teenager, in the spring of life, you would take this as sad or negative. But if you are in your fifties you would look at this poem differently. It is almost like you are looking at this poem from different sides of the metaphor. As if you mentally hold the poem in your hands and look at it from a number of sides to figure out what it is saying. Then after careful examination you realize the poem isn’t saying much but it causes YOU to say a lot.

The mixed metaphor is almost a physical jolt to your brain. It causes your brain to do a: “Wait! What?” A spring in your step at the spring of your life seems to degenerate into falling into the fall of your life. But turn the poem to another angle and you find that the beauty of a fresh spring is just a foretaste of the beautiful maturity in the colors of fall.

We are now in a VERY political season and every word and phrase is analyzed and processed to the point where it is unrecognizable to the one who said it. Each candidate talks about “change” as if that is what we all want to do. But the truth is we are all uncomfortable with change, it is happening around us all the time, just watch the gas prices. Is change good or bad? The answer is both. If you pick up the word in your mind and look at it from all angles you will get both answer and more. You can take ANY word or phrase and make it say what you want it to say and do what you want it to do.

This makes our job more difficult because you and I can hear the EXACT same word and find what you want to hear in it. We need to hone our Word Vision and find intent behind the poem. We must take our stand on the intent and that takes work and research not just pundits and youtube videos. Find the intent and stand on it or you will fall for anything.