Category Archives: golden rule stuff

It never fails – if i give it all away and don’t have love I didnt’ do anything..

One day not long ago I was walking with a friend back from lunch. We randomly encountered her husband at a stop light and I got to witness a chance kiss, thanks to a light that didn’t change. Tonight I witnessed a wedding of one of my daughter’s best friends and the inevitable kiss that was entirely not random. I know these people and have great affection for these people..I am not really an optimist about humankind (why I really can’t be classified as a modern liberal), but acts of love give me hope (and in a subdued side-note, make me quite happy).

Veering off somewhat, but I will get back to the above…

I have heard talk all my life about how we are the greatest country that ever existed. I believe such talk is fatuous because no one has lived in every country that ever existed, and to iterate the obvious, not too many years ago the city in which I reside was ruled by apartheid, and a hundred years before that we considered black people sub-human and not eligible for that ‘all men are created equal’ business. But, I hasten to say – I will put our Declaration of Independence and Constitution against any document, written or unfurled by law, and I will never believe it’s a fair fight. The rule of law, which does exist in many countries, was the basis of this country’s independence, and enabled this country to survive lawmakers whose behavior was beyond any law devised by any country outside of dictatorships.

Veering back slightly to the original paragraph..

I was raised on religion. There was spirituality sprinkled in there (not literally..we were C of C full immersion), but the church I attended and the school I attended often got lost in the rules and missed the point. This is not intended to be an attack on either, but my bigger point is that religion is man-made artifice and spirituality is something else all together. Ask a recovered addict what rule about dancing or issue about music in church got them through the tunnel. Proof-text is the dance of pinwheels on angels, but attacking spirituality or Christianity (or any ‘brand’ of worship) based on the nonsensical hate-filled horror show that the religious side show has perpetrated on mankind is missing the mark. Just as stating that America’s ideology and basis for governance is invalid based on the fact that many of our forefathers/mothers were slave-owners or accepted slavery as the righteous way of life. The rule of law endures all things.

I’m a long way from where I was, but I will put up these words against any creed or religious teaching in the world:

Love your neighbor as yourself. When asked who is your neighbor, I will extrapolate and tell you that your neighbor may be a Muslim, an illegal immigrant. My neighbor may be Sarah Palin or a red-neck bigot. That guy over there has a neighbor who hasn’t bothered to learn English and my other neighbor might be the son of Jerry Falwell. I find it hard to like those neighbors, much less love them, but the radical rule of law that is espoused by Christianity is that all these people are my neighbors, (damn it!) and I need to treat them like I want to be treated.

Even better – and I’d like to see this piece of poetry go head to head with any heavyweight doctrine in the world:

Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not jealous..it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things and hopes all things AND endures all things. Love never fails.

We fall short..we see that kiss…We see hope and we still get it wrong ever so often. But I want to live in a country where all men are created equal. Where life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is paramount. Where I am treated by people who don’t like me, the way I want to be treated. I want to live in that place where love will strip you to the marrow and lift you on the shoulders of giants.

Thanks to the people in love I have cited above..you know who you are..

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There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM, but there is an ‘M’ (Meyer), or, No one is inVincible..

I recently finished Buster Olney’s wonderful book on former Lipscomb coach Don Meyer.  I’ve always been a fan of Meyer (never met him) from the time my dad and I were talking on the phone when I lived in Brooklyn.  He said, ‘there’s something really odd going on with the basketball program…i’m not sure how the team is going to do under this new guy (Meyer), but it’s going to be interesting to watch’.  I followed the program from afar, and when we moved back to Nashville, I probably watched the man coach over 100 games.

He is, and was rather odd and off-putting.  He has a perennial scowl and doesn’t appear friendly.  He barked at his players and paced the sidelines like a chained pit-bull.  He also coached basketball at a different level and was watching a different game than I (a huge college basketball fan) and many others ever notice.  Underneath that scowl and bundle of eccentricity was one of the most interesting and humble men I’ve ever read about.   If you get Meyer, you understand how a man can be humble but not weak, tenacious, but not addictive.

Read the book, (and check out a former Northern Dakota player’s book about Coach Meyers* as well).  What the Coach weaves in an almost mystical tapestry of aphorisms and stories is that no one player on a team, no matter how incredible or how untalented is any more or less part of a team than any other player.  You understand that Meyer has influenced hundreds if not thousands of young people to treat everyone as if they were the most important person in the room, no matter their so-called station in life.  You read the testimonials of the men who played for Meyer and you understand that Meyer made them better people (or actually help them understand what they had inside them to be better).

You read about former player’s tragedy and how the Coach and many former teammates traveled long distances to be support their teammate.  Some of the things you read make you think the man is crazy and destructive, but then you realize he’s doing what needed to be done to bring a person down to earth or just to realize how fortunate he really is.

You read about a man who lost a leg in a car wreck and then cancer was discovered when surgery was performed on the leg and how that didn’t begin to bring the man down.  The book is not hagiography or idolatry, but you begin to understand a man of immense faith who didn’t just talk about doing the right thing.

I once heard him speak on what was supposed to be parenting..instead we got time management, the importance of not drinking sodas and the difference between religion and spirituality (first time I heard anyone describe the divergence so well), and how to live properly you live in the moment.  What I at first thought was a rambling collection of odd (and interesting) thoughts became a brilliant lecture on parenting, not because he spoke one word about raising kids, but because he was talking about being healthy on every level.  You take care of yourself, don’t squander your time, and live in the moment and you will be one heckuva parent.

I once saw the man call a timeout with two seconds left in the first half when his team was leading by 28 points.  It was one of the most illogically timed time-outs ever, but like I say, the man wasn’t watching the same game as most of us.  He saw something he didn’t like, and he didn’t want to wait until half-time to discuss the problem.

He wanted to win, but playing well and playing the game correctly, living life well and living it in the moment and living in a state of humility and strength were what he taught.  Once you got that, winning was a brilliant side effect….good parenting was a brilliant side effect.

I really don’t have anything to add to the Vince Young saga that has dominated our city for the last couple of days.  I read about Meyer’s players and how they learned to handle adversity and how to treat others, and it just makes me sad that Young didn’t have someone like Meyer at an early age to channel that incredible talent.  I’m sad that concepts like team and handling adversity apparently don’t mean the same thing to Young as it does to the young men I read about in Olney’s book.

Much more importantly, I realize how I’ve squandered time, have been thoughtless and ranted and raved about my computer not operating quickly enough (among other things).  I think about the anger I’ve expressed towards the people I love more than anything in the world, and I know that none of those people I’ve talked about are perfect, but how fortunate we can be, if we just see what is right before our eyes.

“Happiness begins when selfishness ends”

“A fool despises instruction”

“Do the ordinary things extra-ordinarily well”

“You can measure somebody’s character by how they treat people that can’t do them any good or can’t fight back”

*The book about playing for Meyer is ‘Playing for Coach Meyer’ by Steve Smiley

Olney’s incredible book is ‘How Lucky Can You Be’..it deserves to sell brilliantly..

 

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Filed under basketball, books, golden rule stuff, sports and education

That stupid Golden Rule

“Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, It will set you free Be more like the man you were made to be.” Mumford & Sons

Here is the law I am proposing for the great state of Tennessee. Perhaps other states will follow along. Based on sheer appearance, we really don’t know how many Canadians are in our midst, working along side us, receiving food stamps, attending our hockey games and promulgating the myth that their bacon is superior. Seriously.

I’m thinking that every time a law enforcement agent sees a suspicious looking white person, every time a white driver is pulled over for a traffic infraction, every time a white person is hanging out on the streets and every time a white person behaves in any manner suspiciously, that a passport or birth certificate be demanded on the spot. If said white person cannot produce either document, he or she will be detained until a member of their family can produce one of the two documents.

Some would argue that a simple pronunciation test would suffice – ‘Sir, would you please say the words ‘house’ and ‘about’ or questioning the suspect about the life of Bobby Orr, but pronunciation tics can be un-learned and facts about Bobby Orr can be faked. It’s time we take back our state from the hockey-obsessed, weird-bacon loving Habs.

If the document cannot be obtained with 48 hours, the said white person will be incarcerated, at a cost to said white person of $200.00. Citizenship isn’t cheap my friends. If not proof of citizenship can be found, said white person will be flown to Detroit, and given fare to cross the Big Bridge. Since we are really not racial profiling but looking for suspicious behavior or odd driving, I’m sure NO ONE will object to this new law.

Note: I really do like Canada and at least one Canadian..

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Filed under golden rule stuff, irony may be the shackle of youth but I love it

The Appreciative Arts – A few sketches of appreciation…

After my friend Robert died and I wrote a heartfelt eulogy, containing thoughts and feelings that I had not bothered to share with Robert openly and completely before he died, I vowed to at least attempt to show my appreciation for the living, the people who love me, move me, kick my ass when it needs to be kicked and who, though certainly not perfect, appear to be well-centered, not just in their words, but in their actions. So far, I’ve written appreciations for a singer I don’t know and for this crazy, wonderful and wacky country that I love dearly. Now it’s time to move to a few folks I DO know.

Exception to the previous paragraph: My dad
My dad died at the RiDICuLous age of 59. I’m not that far away from that terminal year of my dad. I do not obsess about this..I don’t understand the complexity of genetics, but it does give me pause. My dad was an art teacher, and fashioned a world where respect for his Maker, love of sharing his passion about his art and his spirituality lead him to live one of the most blessed lives I’ve ever known. He was the child of the great depression and he wasn’t good at saying ‘I love you’ often. What I’ve come to learn (yeah, I got a piece of his wisdom)is that his every waking step with me though his life contained the words ‘I love you unconditionally’. He taught me that a man who understands and gives boundaries to his passion (a good number of feet from addiction), but who lives in his passion is a lucky man indeed. Ironically, this lead me to understand why Keith Richards is still alive. Watch the man when he is playing his guitar mid-song. You’ll understand.

My wife: I’ve told a few people this already, but I pulled the anti-Oedipal bit off..I married my dad. And I mean that in the highest extent of honor. My dad and wife, Lynn, were and are both incredibly hard working people. As an avid practitioner of one of the seven deadly sins (sloth), this has worked out quite well for me. I am as moved by her touch as when we were married almost 32 years ago (she may have touched me before that..) and I have come to understand, with some of that inherited wisdom, that I myself am a lucky man because of her. We’ve had some rough months, and even a rough year or two, but we both know it matters, and despite my occasional inanity, she puts up with me. Lynn, like my dad, is an artist and a true lover of the arts. When she is caught up in her painting, she glows, just like my dad in a classroom.

A few friends:
Roger Dinwiddie. I came to know Roger because my daughter is his daughter’s best friend. We spent some time together and I immediately was impressed. Sadly, when I was, in my younger years, around people who REALLY impressed me off the bat and seem to carry themselves in ways I can’t begin to attain, I often become aphasic and begin flapping and stuttering. Then I realized that the guy was way more impressive than I imagined. He’s a nationally known figure in education, the effects of bullying in education, substance abuse..and he’s the president of STARS. Look it up sometime..If I didn’t get aphasic when I met you, it’s because I’ve grown a bit, thanks to this guy!

More importantly, in my life (hey, this is still about me), he has been an incredible friend. Fierce, funny, inspirational and wise. If for no other reason than one phone call I made to him in anger (anger not directed at Roger), and he called ‘bullshit’ on my anger (I was actually totally irate with the person in the previous ‘sketch’). I was throwing verbal punches and just feeling so sorry for myself, the victim, the victim, the victim, and Roger called me on it, and told me that I had to get myself (he perhaps used another word at this point) together, and then proceeded to explain how to start. And he helped me walk through the fire to the beginnings of the truth (I didn’t have myself together, and like the cliche’ goes, when you are pointing one finger there are more pointing right back at yourself). It took a friend to get me to that point, and I am honored by his friendship. Plus he has one amazingly wonderful and talented and clever wife, Suzanne!

Dennis Dumbauld: Dennis is retired military. He’s in great shape, both mentally and physically. We don’t think alike or process alike. When I was getting whiny in something I wrote, he called me on it. I didn’t necessarily like his wording, but it didn’t take me long to realize something way more important. He was being a friend, and friends who are true, will call you on the things that need to be said.

Much more importantly, for his family, Dennis and his beautiful and wonderful and generous wife Josie, have molded a family that is individualistic and as healthy (in all aspects of life) as any family I’ve ever known. His kids are not perfect (similar to most kids), but they are so together. They have certainly figured a lot of this on their own, but it came to them quickly, because of Dennis (and Josie’s) completely unconditional love for those kids. His friendship is unconditional too. We process differently, but there are not many men I admire more than Dennis.

Another father and friend: Phil Kendrick

Phil is the brother of Robert, whose passing made me want to appreciate others in a more visible way while they are still here on earth. Phil has one of the greatest blueprints I’ve ever known for being a dad (his own dad). A brilliant combination of wisdom and humor cannot be repressed. He and his also-wise and wonderful wife, Karen, have fathered 5 boys and are now grandparents. I’ve told more than one person this bit: If a space alien landed and for some reason asked me to show him what a family should look like, I’d drive him out to Phil’s and tell the alien to shut up and observe. Seriously.

Another friend:
Susan Barber. Susan is the most generous person I have ever known (and it’s not like I wasn’t parented by generous people). She is steady and smart and funny and I have eaten lunch with her more times than anyone on the face of this earth, and I’m ready to go again (she’s out of the country and I’m missing her!). She gives her time and much much more, even though she keeps long work hours and participates (and has participated) in most every sport known to (wo)man. Leg and knee surgery have slowed her pace, but they have not stopped her from marathoning, playing soccer, playing tennis, playing golf, playing ultimate frisbee, inventing other games, and so many more things that I get tired just thinking about it.

At a time in my life when my wife needed a friend to help deal with me (I have been a pill more than once), Susan gave great assurance and friendship to Lynn, and had a lot to do with the healing process. There are many more, equally impressive deeds, but that is one that I will never forget, and one for which I am eternally grateful.

There are many many more of you out there. I plan to do keep this series going. But it’s late and I’m really missing my out-of-town wife and I can’t put off sleep much longer. Also, if you are on the list, I’m not asking for a loan or a reference.

In closing, I’d like to say a word about Don Finto, the man who led Belmont church from a small smattering of folks to a wondrous group of sojourners. Don spoke at Robert’s funeral.Even if you are not nearly on the same page spiritually with this man, and I really haven’t been around him much in years, and differ greatly in places, you cannot help but be moved by this guy.

My dad taught me something with his artistic eye that many people have heard, but few understand as well as a man of his observational powers. He explained that a person gets the face they deserve in the later years of their life. We’re not talking superficial standards of beauty here, but you probably know what I’m talking about. A negative person will have lines in their face that a centered person cannot (and should not) dream about. A centered person may be disguised as someone not so beautiful, but if you keep looking, you see untold depths. The fact that I may not be in the same place as Don Finto is not the primary point. The fact is that there is not a more beautiful 79 year old person on this planet…outside, in.

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New Rule: If you veto a ban on water-boarding, or speak publicly in favor of water-boarding..

you have to agree to undergo water-boarding. If you are so certain water-boarding is NOT torture, then please, allow a demonstration on YOURSELF so that you can truly subjectively judge how it is or is not torture.

Yesterday, President Bush vetoed a bill which would ban water-boarding as an interrogation tool. The bill would limit the CIA to the 19 interrogation tactics used in the military. Sadly, Congress probably doesn’t have the votes to override the veto.

Here’s one left-wing weak-kneed lily-livered approach to interrogation:

The use of force, mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind is prohibited by law and is neither authorized nor. condoned by the US Government. Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear. However, the use of force is not to be confused with psychological ploys, verbal trickery, or other nonviolent and noncoercive ruses used by the interrogator in questioning hesitant or uncooperative sources.

…………..Consequently, from both legal and moral viewpoints, the restrictions established by international law, agreements, and customs render threats of force, violence, and deprivation useless as interrogation techniques.

In case you didn’t recognize the rhetoric, that passage is from the United States Army Field Manual.

I enjoy the show ’24’ as much as the next guy, but I’d wager to say that the rare occasion for an interrogator to actually save the world or the United States with torture would probably be met with rule-bending, but the truth is, the world is not as simple as ’24’. The ‘code’ of Jack Bauer is the code of comic-book tortured super-hero.

Many of the same people supporting this type of interrogation or people who claim this nation to be Christian or at least founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Please explain to me how water-boarding fits into any form of the Golden Rule, or the admonition to love others as you love yourself?

Christians have argued for hundreds of years about reconciling war and killing others in war with their faith. I don’t see how this argument elevates to water-boarding.

In case anyone from the secret service is reading this blog, I am not suggesting anyone torture the President of the United States. That type of activity is immoral and shouldn’t be practiced on even the most common of criminals, much less on the leader of the country that is supposed to be the democratic beacon on the hill.

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The gripes of wrath – Tom Joad in bizarro world

Towards the end of Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) tells his mother

“…I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be ever’-where – wherever you can look. Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad – I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise, and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too.”

Contrast and compare: Stacey Campfield, state legislator, un-extraordinaire, speaks of his bill that would bar entry to children of illegal immigrants to our state colleges:

I don’t think they should be here in the first place..We kick kids out of school all the time for bad behavior and criminal activity. I happen to think illegal immigration should be on that list

I’m thinking he’s probably not talking about Canadian kids here. Folks, these kids are here. We’re not going to take all 12 million folks out of their homes (AND JOBS). Being born a citizen of another country is not ‘bad behavior’, and it’s certainly not criminal. Comparing the birth passage to criminal activity is inane.

Anytime I read about a mild-to-totally goofy bill in our state legislature, I’m pretty sure whose picture is going to pop up associated with said bill. Congratulations, the ghost of Tom Joad certainly doesn’t haunt your heart or brain, Mr. Campfield.

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This blog’s for change and we have solutions..we can AND we WILL..

It’s amazing how choosing the right slogan can do so much to define your cause, your movement or your product.   The battle lines around the abortion issue are unique (and I’m not touching this issue substantively!) in that both sides have equally ‘bullet-proof’ slogans.  Who is really against ‘CHOICE’ (in the normal meaning of the word)?  This is the land of the free, home of the brave and by God, we choose not only our leaders, but our theology, or lack of theology.   Who is against ‘LIFE’, for the love of all that is vital?   We pursue liberty because we HAVE lives.  We cling to the breath of life and, hope to do more than just exist.   So..Pro-Life or Pro-Choice..in terms of a slogan, it’s a stand-off.  Both sides win.

Last night when I was watching the primary results, I realized that Hillary had won, lock, stock, and barrel in the battle of slogans.   Obama CAN.  Hillary WILL.   Obama is for CHANGE.   Hillary has SOLUTIONS.    I know it sounds superficial, but I guarantee you that practically every three-year old in the most of the world can tell you what ‘the golden arches’ portend.   Most of us know that ‘Coke IS life’.   Those simple slogans become more than ear-worms.

In the land of the slogans, Hillary wins*.    I can walk two miles a day is about two miles different than ‘I WILL walk two miles a day’.    Sometime it just comes down to verbs.   I SHOULD treat you like I want to be treated.   When I actually treat you that way, the world changes, one small step at a time.

*This is in no way an endorsement of Ms. Clinton.

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