June 19, 2015

To Dad, on Father's Day...

Dear Dad,

You've been gone almost 24 years, but I've been thinking about you quite a bit lately. I miss you, Dad, more than I can express.

It took me longer than it should've to realize the value you added to my life. I never thought you or Mom were stupid, I have to say. However, I did think you were pretty old-fashioned, out of touch, and stuck in outmoded thinking. Now I realize the things you wanted us to remember were not situational. You wanted us to live them.

The older I get, the more I wish you were around to advise me now. But you did teach me the value of keeping my word, of being truthful, of (as trite as it seems) not judging a book by its cover. Though you yourself were soft-spoken and quiet, you taught me how to speak up. To stand up for what I believe. You showed me that seeing moral shades of gray isn't necessarily good. Right and wrong are either black or white. No grays — regardless of what others think.

Dad, I've been wondering what you'd think of everything that's happened between the first officially proclaimed Father's Day you experienced and tomorrow's. I know you'd be amazed and possibly delighted. But I suspect you'd also be somewhat appalled and ashamed. And you might even be a bit outraged or saddened. Here're just a few developments you have missed:

  • Our 42nd president was impeached, for perjury and obstruction of justice.
  • Rabid muslim terrorists killed roughly 3,000 individuals in 2001 by crashing four passenger planes. Two into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City; one into the Pentagon; and one into a rural area in Pennsylvania thought headed to the White House or U.S. Capitol.
  • The U.S. invaded Afghanistan and stayed there more than 10 years.
  • We later invaded Iraq to depose a ruthless and bloody dictator who'd allegedly developed poison gas and other outlawed weapons. None were found, but years later evidence of them was.
  • Americans elected their first minority president in 2008, which bodes well for society as a whole. Since then, the country is possibly the most polarized it's been since the War Between the States.
  • The Nobel Prize Committee immediately awarded our new president a Nobel Prize, although no one could figure out why — not even him.
  • The U.S. news media for the most part has ceased being the public's watchdog and has become the government's propaganda arm.
  • The Democratic Party shoved though Congress a 20,000-page-plus socialized medicine law early in the new president's first term. Two points amazed me:
    • The sitting Speaker told Democrats in the House they needed to pass it, then they could see what's in it.
    • The measure passed without a single GOP vote.
  • Your party, the GOP, has gotten control of both Houses of Congress, but is doing little to improve the country. Partisan politics is seeping into every aspect of American society.
  • It seems we are being governed by whomever yells the loudest; not necessarily the majority.
  • Spearheaded by the entertainment industry, morality and civility have slipped to new lows. Even an ex-sailor like you, Dad, would be flabbergasted by the language many use in public today. And business uses sex to sell anything.
  • On the positive side, everyone seems to have cell phones, which we may use to keep in constant touch with others. Negatively, however, no one seems to use them courteously.
  • Also, those desktop computers that were taking off when you left have permeated society. The average American has at his fingertips information on probably every subject that exists.
  • The Internet has connected the whole world, and it's a mixed blessing. For the entrepreneurial, it offers a world of potential customers. For the "bent," it offers a world of perversion. I tend to view it as perhaps the greatest development in the history of mankind.
  • Some trains in Europe and Asia can move people at close to 200 mph, using magnets and ceramic superconductors that offer no resistance to current. Who knows where that could lead?
  • Homosexuality is becoming an accepted norm, even to the point of attempts to redefine "marriage."
  • A former Olympic decathlon champion recently decided to have himself altered to become a woman. He has been hailed as "courageous" and a "hero."
  • Real heroes, your generation, are being honored, finally, for service to our nation. I wish you were here to experience one the "Honor Flights" WWII vets are being given. It would move you.

The Wife and I are both retired and muddling along fine. Each day is a blessing and a new adventure. It's fun to get up in the morning (but as I told someone yesterday, getting up's easy. Getting off the floor after that, is the problem.) You may be proud of your grandkids, too. They've both found love and are making their ways through life in honorable and loving fashion. Plus, your great-granddaughter is a living doll (Yeah, I know. I'm biased. But you'd worry if I wasn't, wouldn't you?)

The Wife and I are still in love and with the Good Lord's help, we'll continue to be so until we see you and Mom again. So, thanks for the beliefs and values you instilled in me — and all the unconditional love you gave.

I could go on, Dad, but I don't want to leave you thinking I despair. I don't. I'm optimistic. This 21st century may be the greatest era in our total history. It's up to us. Even with all the warts I see in our country, I'm still confident this is the best place to be on earth. I thank the Lord every day I'm here. I'm confident the U.S. will remain great and get even better. All it takes is for us to put someone other than ourselves first. And when that happens, and it will eventually, well...

Maybe I'll just dance....

February 27, 2015

One Man's Thoughts Politic...

I've tried, I really have.

But I'm frustrated.

I want to be a good citizen. Someone just getting along in retirement. Voting. Trying to live my life in peace and happiness. Like millions of Americans, I firmly believe in personal freedom — my right to succeed or fail on my own talents and efforts, or lack thereof. I want to be responsible for me. I don't want any handouts. I just want to be left alone.

When I left college and enlisted in the military many years ago, I was pretty disillusioned. My home had a lot of problems: the economy was unstable and in something of a doldrum; the civil rights struggle was in full swing; we had pretty recently bailed the French out of a no-win situation in Southeast Asia by replacing them, and were just realizing that we had just stepped in it in Vietnam. My generation was rejecting our parents' attitudes. 

I entered military life with the idea that if I found another country better than than this one, I'd leave the U.S. I'm not a combat veteran, but I spent almost six years working in enough places — Puerto Rico, Spain, Germany, the U.K., Cyprus — to get a realistic feel for their cultures. And I mined the experiences of fellow sailors/soliders who had been where I hadn't. I became convinced that, even with all its warts, the U.S of A. is the best place in the world to live.

But now, I fear the pride many of us once felt in being an American has dissolved. Melted into the sludge that is self-satisfaction, smugness and, most destructive, complacency. We've had it so good for so long, relative to the rest of the world, we've gotten spoiled. We've stopped paying attention and abdicated our responsibilities as citizens to money- and power-grubbers and to political opportunists and prostitutes. We've created the perfect environment for those seeking to undermind our way of life.

Frenchman Joseph d Maistre in the early 19th century said, "Every natiion has the government it deserves." For American democracy, these words were prophetic. We're getting the government we deserve.

But I keep thinking of my children. What we're doing to their futures is criminal.
We have a president and administration with a dangerous agenda. A destructive, socialist agenda that sees capitalism as inherently evil. Our president believes the end justifies the means, i.e. trampling or ignoring law is acceptable if it achieves his goals. The administration not only wants to be Robin Hood, but to control every facet of our lives, besides. And we're letting it happen. And what that means for my kids is frightening. If things continue on their current path, our children and their children will not grow up in a free society.

On the surface, taking from the rich and giving to the poor sounds great. Special dispensations for immigrants illegally living here sounds magnanimous. Wonderful. Selfless. But there are several things we should have learned about governments by now, courtesy of the erstwhile Soviet Union:

  • They cannot erase poverty and want. (Doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but not with force.)
  • They cannot tax their people into prosperity.
  • They cannot take away the possibility of wealth from those who create the jobs.
  • Total government control kills initiative and ambition.
  • The more government gives, the more it takes away.
  • There's no such thing as Utopia.

Some may call me racist for espousing my views. Such people I don't dignify with an answer. Throwing that term at others is akin to "pissing into the wind." The person throwing it around is the one who ends up stinking.

Republicans now have control of Congress. Are they doing anything to halt this slope we're sliding down? Very little, and that's inexcusable. If they don't grow some hair on their butts and start standing up to the Socialist-in-Chief; if they don't start challenging his at-best borderline-legal fiatsthey'll be on the outside looking in. And the unrest of the '60s, early '70s will be tame compared to what may come. It won't be kids on the campuses nor looters in the inner cities. It'll be the Silent Majority of suburbia and rural America.

...Or, maybe we can just dance....