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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Words in Edgewise!

Ever been in a one sided conversation?  Do you avoid people because you know you can't get a word in the conversation?  Not only to we all know someone like that, we've all probably been guilty of doing this ourselves.  There is pressure from all sides of society to live up to things.  You have to talk up your job to impress people.  Some have to brag on their vacations and cruises.  Others have to play the woe is me card. You know that friend that NO one has it as bad as them.  The one I'm guilty of is bragging on all the accomplishments of my two boys.

I actually learned a very valuable lesson in the bragging of my kids about two years ago.  Friends of mine have an older son who was in the Army and stationed in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the garrison their son was staying in was attacked by the Taliban.  Early in the morning my friends leaked the news that they were notified their son was severely injured.  He was being air lifted to a station in the Persian Gulf but conditions were bad.  Later in the day I spotted my friend picking up his younger son at school and proceeded over to ask about his boy. To my utter disbelief, before I could ask my friend stuck out his hand to shake mine and said, "Hey Van, how's Julian and Reece?".  My jaw hit the ground and for the first time in my life I was completely speechless! This man's son was a world away, full of shrapnel, and condition unknown, but he cared enough about our friendship and my sons to ask about them. I felt so small shaking the hand of a man who cared about more than just his family.

I made a vow that day to listen as much as I talk.  Which is a lot.  Also, to make it a point to go out of my way to ask about others.  You see it's a two edged sword.  People are so desperate for attention and caring for there lives and loved ones, that if you would ask first it would put them at ease.  If some one feels like you are genuinely interested in them or their family then they are more inclined to have a two way conversation.  They will take time out of their rant to ask about your needs and family.  The best way to combat peer pressure is to assure people that you approve of them from square one.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a
listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all
of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo F. Buscaglia
Make a difference today by asking someone about themselves.

PS. Their Son is alive and well today.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Howard Sternizing of America

I do a ridiculous amount of reading.  I read books and magazines. I read at least three chapters of the Bible every morning.  I have a Nook reader.  I follow other people's blogs.  I have Nook and Android apps that search news articles for things I like. I think you get the picture.  So the other day I'm reading a blog on marriage, and I look to the side of the blog and there is an advertisement for "meet single ladies".  I'm sure the irony of it has displayed itself before.  It just struck a nerve this time.  So what do I always do?  I research the issue.

Turns out that ads that run in contrary to the article being displayed get more "hits".  I'm willing to bet that some of you have posted on FB, "please no more game request", and look on either side of your post and there are ads for all the latest games.  And this holds true for just about all media.  Ever notice that being a responsible citizen by watching the news gets you blasted by over the top lawyer commercials?  A picture of a 18-wheeler hanging off the side of a bridge and a lawyer screaming he'll take them to court so you won't have to.  In reality you tuned in to be current on the affairs of our great nation and you are blasted with this need to take people to court?  I will spare you my very ugly opinion of Super Bowl commercials......No I won't.  Why does is take a hot chick in a mini skirt to sell nacho chips?  Do people not eat when ugly people are around?  A talking baby is supposed to make you feel good about investing your life savings?  Commercials in any media are way over the top and ridiculous, but the polling data says it has to be.  Why, because that's what we want.

This shock value issue is not just for advertisements.  People of many different occupations use shock value to sell themselves.  I could say turn on MTV and end my rant here.  But it's more than that.  Politicians will sell their soul to some outrageous idea just to get re-elected.  Do you really think Diane Fienstein believes criminals will obey gun laws?  Obviously NO, but her name get plastered all over and come election time she will tell her constituents that they need her name recognition in government.  Also in this list, believe it or not, are preachers!  Yes so called men of God will do anything for name recognition.  I read an article the other day about a self proclaimed cussing preacher.  Not that I'm naive, and think preachers don't curse.  But why is it necessary to have that as your title?  Do people feel closer to God because the preacher spews out profanity?  Does this bring notoriety to God?  No, this preacher is on the same path as one of those tramps on Jersey shore.  Sell your soul, body, mind, family, freedom, faith, and God for a buck.

This is the lazy state we live in today.  If you can't shock me out of my stupor then I won't get off the couch and buy your product.  What's next, shocking our children into learning things at school?  Welcome to The United Howard Sternizing of America!

Monday, February 18, 2013

What is Honor?

So as of late, there has been much public debate about who we as a society "honor".  I recently read an article about the flying of flags at half mast in order to honor movie and music stars and not for a famous U.S. war veteran.  Another article expressed it's outrage over the President's "honored guest" at the State of the Union Address.  The guest included two illegal immigrants, but the outrage was that the four American's killed in a Libyan embassy were not mentioned.

Let's clear up a few things about honor.  As a Scout leader, I teach boys on a regular basis what it is to live a life "on your honor".  The first line of the Scout Oath is "On my honor,".  When I teach new boys, I am amazed at the vastness of the different responses about what this phrase means.  By the end of the session I have done my best to instill into the boys the Scout meaning of honor.  To live a life of honor means to stick to the words that come out of your mouth. Basically, don't lie.  It also means to do your very best at every task set before you.  The shear apathy of our culture makes this point very difficult to drive home.  Once finished teaching the Scout Oath, I move on to the Scout Law.  The first law is Trustworthy.  Which also means to stick to your word and always do the best job possible.  Do you think it's a coincidence that the first point of both the Scout Oath and Law mean the same thing?

You see, until you can have honor in your own life, it is very confusing where to place honor own others.  Until a young man can find his own identity and establish his own standards, he will be tossed to and fro with the fads and fashions of popular culture.  Honor is not some mythical thing we aspire to.  Honor is the at the core of our being.  It dictates what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.  An absence of honor at your core can lead to a very random and meaningless life.  And contrary to popular belief, our soul longs to honor things that give our life purpose and meaning.  It takes years of training to ingore those urges.  A fool knows nothing greater than himself, but a man of honor recognizes greatness everywhere he looks.

While on a personal level I agree that veterans and ambassadors should be honored over movie stars and illegal immigrants, I can not expect people who have no standards or personal honor to believe the same as me.  Most would say there is no honor or respect left in our country, I disagree.  If you hold yourself to standards and ideals, you will see past the ungrateful masses and the people who are truly worth honor will stand out to you. I hope you would also take time to go against the grain a pay your respects to those in any manner possible.  It takes courage to recognize those people that are most worth honor.

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union?

So last night the President of the United States of America gave his annual State of the Union Address.  While many are quick to point out that this is required by the Constitution, they seem to leave out the details or meaning of this Address.  The directive is from this line of the Constitution;

He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

A few things to notice here. First, is there is no set time or requirement to do this address on an annual basis.  Also, it does not require him to "address" them in person.  Our first two Presidents (Washington & Adams) did deliver this information in person and in speech form.  Thomas Jefferson interpreted it differently.  He thought the President standing in front of all the Nation's representatives and dictating policy was far to similar to a King giving a speech from a Throne.  So he decided to follow the directive by sending his State of the Union to Congress to be read by a clerk.  Believe it or not, this was done until Woodrow Wilson took office in March of 1913.  That is over a hundred years for all you math buffs out there.

The more important thing to note is that this information is to be given to Congress!  This is not a platform for a President to play it up for the nation or the media.  Do you think it is a coincidence that the radio was invented in 1895 and started "broadcasting" in America in 1907 and the President started reading his own State of the Union in 1913? Now in the 21st century Media includes radio, cable, satellite, internet, and all those elected officials pecking away on their smart phones while the President speaks.  It's an all out three ring media circus.  I wish we could ask Thomas Jefferson what he thinks of the Media insanity.  Do you think he would approve?

The sad thing is, we can't get enough.  We sit there consumed by it.  We surf it on the web, and we most certainly want to hear the opposing response.  All the while, most don't even know why there is a State of the Union Address.  The Congress could care less what measures are necessary and expedient.  Just as long as they get their names attached to some form a media.

     "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." - Albert Einstein

Old Albert should have added that Media is more important than Government.


Friday, February 8, 2013

The Truth

Some friends and I were having a discussion the other day and the subject came up, of what is truth?  We drew a number of conclusions just in our conversation.  People who seek out truth usually gravitate toward one another.  People who don't like truth will surround themselves with people that will believe the fictitious world that they can control.  One of the more profound conclusions was, in order to find truth you must seek it out on your own.  Simply accepting other people's version of truth is not always a good idea.

So I decided to look up the word "truth".  The dictionary version is very simple to understand.  The dictionary says that truth is the actual state of matter or conformity to fact or reality.  I liked those statements, then I looked in the encyclopedia.  Dear God was that a mistake.  According to the encyclopedia, truth is one of eleven different theories!  There is Pragmatic theory truth, Coherence theory truth, Performance truth, math truth, etc, etc....  I think you get the picture.  Some of them make perfect sense.  For example, Correspondence theory says statements that correspond with fact or reality are true.  But some are very disturbing.  Consensus theory states, that truth is what two people agree upon.  It doesn't have to agree with reality.  I have a huge problem with that. There are far to many people who are willing to agree on fictitious things in this life, but I won't get into politics here. (maybe another day) Then there is this fairly new idea called Deflationary theory of truth.  This theory states that you should not have to verify or attest to a statement being true.  It says that saying a statement is true is an unnecessary redundancy.  So this is more than frightening.  Let's get a few million people together, have them come to a consensus theory truth and stand on the ideal of deflationary truth (which you don't need to prove) and see what results. You pretty much end up with millions of people believing  lies.  These simple lies can end up being carried out on a grand scale. Some examples, all Jews should be exterminated, the world is flat, and my personal favorite, I'm entitled to something because I was born in a certain country or with a particular last name.

I happen to believe a different theory of truth.  My theory states that the truth stands the test of time.  The truth will not change based on my mood.  My happiness, fear, joy, or anger can't change the truth.  The truth cannot be bought for a price.  Amendments and conditions void the truth.  Half truths are just fancy lies.  People that lie to others have no respect for others. If you bend or change the truth, you end up stressed out on how to stay ahead of the truth.  And most of all if you are not truthful to yourself, you will lead a miserable life.

So seek out the truth at all cost.  You just might find some people like you and you can live a worry/lie free life.