A Letter to my (Future) Sixty-five-year-old Grandson

As I approach my sixty-fifth birthday, my mind (what is left of it) wanders as it often does into the future. When you reach this milestone, I will be one hundred and thirty years old. I will probably either be dead or a regular on TV—if that even exists, it was in its infancy when I arrived on the planet.

What your world will look like we can only imagine.

I thought it might be interesting to compare the differences between the world I was born into, 1956, and the world you were born into sixty-five years later, 2021.

In 1956 the world was in the very midst of the arms race, as the US, Russia, and China sought to build as many nuclear weapons as possible to kill each other 1000 times over.

Elvis Presley had his first hit, Heartbreak Hotel

We elected Dwight David Eisenhower President and Richard Nixon became Vice-President. Nixon would lose a Presidential election to John Kennedy in 1960 then become President in 1968 then resign from office in 1974. He was a lesson in perseverance and arrogance.

Watch out for people like him, they arise periodically and wreak havoc with government and society.

Color TV was technically possible but uncommon.

There were three TV networks, and none operated 24 hours a day

Most telephones, if you were fortunate enough to have one, were hard-wired party lines, so you had to wait to make a call or listen in to others if so inclined.

The movie “The Ten Commandments” was a blockbuster with what were considered amazing special effects. Something you could do on a cell phone today with better results.

Rocky Marciano retired as the only undefeated world champion with 49 victories in boxing.

IBM invented the first computer hard drive. It weighed over a ton, was sixteen square feet in size, and could store 5 megabytes of information. It was astounding technology. The device I am writing this on has 100,000 times that capacity.

The Supreme Court in the case Browder V Gayle ruled racial segregation on public buses was illegal. (Yes this was 1956 not 1856, unbelievable I know.)

Fidel Castro incited the Cuban Revolution.

On the day I was born, July 25, 1956, the Andrea Doria collided with the S.S. Stockholm at sea off Nantucket, killing 52 people.

Not one manmade object had yet made it into space. (It happened in 1957 with the Russians launching Sputnik)

Average cost of a new house $11,700

Minimum wage $1.00

Average annual salary $4,450

Cost of a new car $2,050

Gallon of gas: $0.22

World Population: 2,835,299,673

You came into a much different world.

While we have reduced the number of thermonuclear weapons, there are still enough around to obliterate the entire population which now stands at 7,614,450 (and rising)

We have had our first Black President and First woman Vice President. Hopefully, in your lifetime, this will no longer be considered newsworthy.

Racial discord and discrimination still exist, but at least we are taking notice.

Above the earth there are thousands of active and inactive satellites, a permanently occupied space station, rovers on the surface of Mars, plans to send humans to Mars (which is likely to happen in your lifetime, perhaps with you on the trip), and we have discovered almost 5000 exo-planets in the galaxy.

Average cost of a new house: $408.800

Minimum wage $7.25 ( I know, right?)

Average annual salary $51,168

Cost of a new car $37,851

Gallon of gas: $3.143

But more important for you and your generation, you’ve been born into an existential crisis predicated on a fundamental disregard for truth.

I think it an easy prediction you will study the politics of these times as part of your education. No doubt much future research and analysis of what happened between 2016 and 2020 will offer insight into the troubling phenomenon of why we had a crisis of truth.

Somehow, truth and facts became not only malleable but open to interpretation. We somehow forgot the difference between opinion and fact. Instead of accepting facts that may differ from what some wanted to be true, they simply ignored them, claim they resulted from conspiracies, and just propagated “alternative” facts.

There are no alternative facts. A fact is a fact. A lie is a lie. And any attempt to conceal or alter facts to suit one’s own position is not only wrong but also dangerous.

One can hold opinions on food, music, art, and baseball but not truth, justice, or fairness.

When you are sixty-five, in the year 2086, I hope you are part of a society that recognizes and accepts facts and works toward insuring truth, justice, and fairness always win out over opinion.

I hope you play a part in making such a world better than the one you were born into.

When you look back, as I have done, on sixty-five years of life, I hope you take comfort in the fact you always sought the truth no matter what it may be and did your best to support it.

And I hope you live to at least one hundred and thirty so you can have this conversation in person with your sixty-five-year-old grandchild.

Tell them I said hi.


JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

An Inconvenient Truth of Inconvenience

On 9/11/2001 America was attacked. 2,977 innocent American died as a result of this attack on American soil. The country rallied around the President, who rightfully called for an overwhelming response, and we went to war.

In February of this year, the first inkling of what would be the worst pandemic since the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish Flu began to take American lives. The President told us it would all go away in two weeks, or in a month, or by the summer, or soon.

Since that moment 311,000+ Americans have died.

On December 16, 2020, 3,611 Americans died of Covid, far exceeding the death toll of 9/11. And yet the country continues swirling in delusion over what to do. The President has moved on to a new delusion–ignoring the results of the election and claiming he single handedly developed the vaccine for a virus that was gonna fade away in the summer sun–and seething over his own inconvenient truth.

But the response, or lack thereof, to the pandemic is not all Mr. Trump’s fault. The sad fact of the matter is when it comes to reacting to problems whose solution lies in military action, blowing things up and killing people in other parts of the world, we are good at it. We’re good at it because the inconvenience of this action falls on just the shoulders of the military and their families.

But when it comes to tolerating inconvenience a little closer to home, we become a nation of whiners and criers. As a good friend of mine, Dr. Jane Auger, so aptly said,

“After 9/11 we started a war. Covid? Can’t even be bothered to wear a mask”

Dr. Jane Auger

311,000 Americans have died. Of that number, had we been willing to accept our obligation to protect ourselves and others, how many would be alive today?

Instead of our willingness to spend trillions of dollars on military capabilities, why is it we cannot be as quick to fund the means to support our economy while we practice the simple act of wearing a mask and avoiding public gatherings?

A nation that once bore the brunt of production of the materiel in a world war, that saw its people planting victory gardens and saving metal for the war effort, that saw the entire country rally behind a global cause, now is unwilling to forego happy hour or shopping at the mall because it is inconvenient.

There’s a line in the movie Patton, where George C. Scott portraying the general, exhorts his troops before battle. He says something to the effect,

“Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, “What did you do in the great World War II?” — you won’t have to say, “Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana.”

George C. Scott as General George S. Patton

Years from now, when thinking of the Great Pandemic of 2020, many Americans may face the fact they shoveled shit in Louisiana…

The inconvenient truth is the death of many of these Americans falls on us. I hope, years from now, when you think back on those trinkets you had to have, those happy hours you couldn’t miss, those demands you made to exercise your “rights” to go to football games, you find it all worth it.

The families of who knows how many dead Americans the virus will ultimately claim won’t have that luxury.


JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

We DID Start The Fire…

Two fires are burning in America, both fueled by ignorance, indifference, and plain old stupidity.

Curious Kids: when I swipe a matchstick how does it make fire?

In the western US, wildfires burn out of control, consuming millions of acres of forests, entire towns, killing unknown numbers of wildlife, and destroying humans. Many of our fellow Americans push aside the overwhelming evidence of climate change—the intensity of these fires and resulting firestorms are a symptom of the problem—for politics or because of a vested interest in ignoring the science.

Despite the enormous evidence of anthropogenic climate change, we have a President who ignores it all and tells people to “rake their leaves.” That such an unsophisticated, uninformed, scientifically bereft attitude exists in 21st century America is astounding.

We are returning to the Dark Ages where mystics and charlatans guided decisions absent any rational basis. They hide their actions from us by the smoke of fires of our own creation.

We ignore these signs at our own peril, for the earth is resilient. Like any sophisticated, self-sustaining system, our planet has an immune system. If we continue down this path, the earth may come to see us not as the most fantastic product of evolution, but a dangerous one. The signs are already there with glaciers disappearing, sea levels rising, temperatures climbing, and storm intensities increasing.

The planet will protect itself either with us… or from us.

We repeat the pattern of ignoring problems in hopes they will just go away in other matters, the other fire burning across this country—the fire of racism, intolerance, and violent resistance to acknowleding the inequalities in our society.

Despite the mounds of evidence of climate change and racism, we continue to ignore the signs. The only difference between these two issues is we have been ignoring racism for a much longer period, despite having documented it with our own words. Words written by well-intentioned (mostly) individuals or commissions, published with a grand ceremony, then forgotten when the attention fades,

In 1922, the Chicago Commission of Race Relations published a seven-hundred-page report entitled “The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and Race Riot.” The report documented evidence of housing and employment discrimination and brutal mistreatment at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system.

(From the report) “… investigations indicate that Negroes are more commonly arrested, subjected to police identification, and convicted than white offenders, that on similar evidence they are generally held and convicted on more serious charges, and that they are given longer sentence… These practices and tendencies are not only unfair to Negroes, but weaken the machinery of Justice and, when taken with the greater inability of Negroes to pay fines in addition to or in lieu of terms of jail, produce misleading statistics of Negro crime.” (emphasis mine)

Nothing changed.

In 1935, following riots in Harlem, another report said.

“… The sudden breach of the public order was the result of a highly emotional situation among the colored people of Harlem, due in large part to the nervous strain of years of unemployment and insecurity…it is probable that their justifiable pent-up feelings, that they were victims of gross injustice and prejudice, would sooner or later have brought about an explosion…

The blame belongs to a society that tolerates inadequate and often wretched housing, inadequate and inefficient schools and other public facilities, unemployment, unduly high rents, lack of recreational grounds, discrimination in industry and public utilities against colored people, brutality and lack of courtesy of the police.” (emphasis mine)

Nothing changed.

In 1977, Michael Lipsky and David J. Olson published a study entitled “Commission Politics: The Processing of Racial Crisis in America.” They said between 1917 and 1943, at least twenty-one commissions were appointed to investigate race riots.

Take a look at you and me,

are we too blind to see,

do we simply turn our heads

and look the other way

Well the world turns

Despite the sincerity and good intentions of theses twenty-one commissions, nothing changed. The reports were printed, distributed, read, and forgotten.

The Kerner Commission, the grandaddy of race riot reports written after the Watts Riot in LA in the 1960s, is another example. Well written and meticulously researched, it documented the conditions leading to the riot and was largely ignored.

President Lyndon Johnson, who could not understand why his Great Society initiative—Voter Rights Act, Welfare Reform, and other programs—did not solve the problem, refused to accept it.

Nothing changed.

In 1969, Elvis Presley had a hit record called In the Ghetto, written by Mac Davis. A prophetic tune then, and now.

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
’cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need
it’s another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto
People, don’t you understand
the child needs a helping hand
or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads
and look the other way
Well the world turns
and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto
And his hunger burns
so he starts to roam the streets at night
and he learns how to steal
and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto
Then one night in desperation
a young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
tries to run, but he don’t get far
And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man
face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto
As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

 We face a turning point in America. The challenges we face– the raging inferno of wildfires amplified by climate change, and the hellish nightmare of our failure to address racism and discrimination against our fellow Americans–can be our descent into Armageddon or our rise to Enlightenment.

There have been times in our history when a leader emerged—often one we might least suspect of having the courage or ability—to guide and unite us in a time of need.

George Washington, a surveyor and soldier, who rose to become the epitome of a selfless statesman dedicated to the good of the country, led us through the birth of a nation.

Abraham Lincoln, a Kentucky woodsman who rose to lead us toward reunifying the country and abolishing slavery. Who knows how different we might have been if he had lived out his second term?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once seen as weak and ineffectual, rose to lead us out of not one, but two dangerous dark times in our history, the Great Depression and World War II.

We face such a choice this November. Can Joe Biden rise to this moment in history and lead this country out of the conflagration we face? I am uncertain. But I am sure of this; Mr. Trump will not. He is not the leader we desperately need at this moment in history.

We need someone to quell the flames, not fan them.

We need someone who embraces science and reason, not disparages it,

We need someone with compassion for the challenges facing people of color, not one who openly encourages white supremacy and fear-mongering.

There is one other thing I am confident we do not need. We do not need another commission to study these problems. We need a leader who will gather the best and the brightest among us and craft solutions.

Or the song will just repeat itself all over again and the country will continue to burn until there is nothing left of America…

As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

American Impatience: Blessing and Curse

“Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century.”

― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

Americans are an impatient people. It seems it is a characteristic we’ve borne since the very founding of this nation. When the Europeans first set foot upon the land, driven here by several factors, impatience for change played a major part.

The original colonists sought tolerance for their differences in religious tenets. They were impatient with a government unwilling to change and accommodate them. Their impatience with conditions in Europe took hold in America. They grew impatient with Native American resistance to their usurping of traditional tribal lands.

This impatience grew under the boot heel of English domination, erupting in open rebellion to the crown. It led to the creation of a new experiment in self-governing, disdain of royalty, and loathing the concept of divine ascension to the throne.

Our impatience drove us to ignore many of the founding principles—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—as we exterminated Native Americans in a quest to seize their land to satisfy our impatience with the status quo.

Yet, over time, despite sometimes violent changes, we came to tame our impatience and learn to direct it toward the common good.

When our impatience clashed with the resistance to abolishing slavery and the secession of those who refused to release their fellow humans from bondage, we went to war.

Our impatience with the continuous bloodshed faced an ever more powerful force in the commitment and dedication of one of the greatest Presidents we have ever had, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln understood our impatience and turned it to accomplish the goal. It was our most costly war, yet we survived.

In 1939, the world plunged into a global conflagration. Our impatience with the last vestiges of the depression caused us to turn away from the battle as something outside our concern. Roosevelt understood this and sought to help those affected European nations without coming up against our intransigence to get involved.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the Axis powers declared war on the United States, Americans put aside their impatience. For four long years, we fought and died to save the world.

Yet, an element of our impatience drove us to victory—and set the stage for our potential destruction. Seeking an end to the war ignited an effort to develop a weapon so terrible no one would want to use it.

And we succeeded and failed. We built the weapon and, in our impatience with waiting for the inevitable fall of Japan, became the only nation to use atomic weapons.

By July 1945, the defeat of the Axis powers was inevitable. Germany had surrendered, the Japanese were starving, surrounded, and running out of oil. When the Japanese refused to believe we had such a devastating weapon, despite efforts to convince them, our impatience compelled us to grant them a view of Armageddon.

Thus came the destruction of Hiroshima, followed by the obliteration of Nagasaki. Our impatience had ended the war and opened a new chapter in world history. Soon, the atomic bomb gave way to ICBMs—missiles equipped with thermonuclear warheads.

The dawn of MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction — was upon us.

This same impatience has accomplished much good. It drove us to put a man on the moon. To be the first people to leave the planet in the dawn of a new age, the age of exploring the universe. The directing of our impatience into a defined goal should have shown us the power within ourselves.

Instead, we grew impatient with the slow progress and turned away. We turned our efforts inward to more self-gratifying pursuits. Our drive for the moon ended with Apollo 17. While we have the ISS, and Americans are in orbit almost all the time, we are just now recapturing the ability to launch our own astronauts.

Youth have always been impatient, wanting each day to come sooner, to flyby, and then move on to the future they view as both destiny and a better place. Impatience fueled by the mistaken belief they have all the time in the world.

The folly of youth unfettered by the inevitability of death.

In a time when the simplest actions—wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, minimizing the risk to our fellow Americans—are all that is needed to ride out the storm, we can’t manage even a few months of patience and determination.

With age comes the desire to slow down time, savor the moment, fend off the rapidity with which it passes. Yet when confronted with a challenge, we’ve forgotten all the lessons of history. We ignore the benefit of tempering impatience despite the hard lessons of our history.

America’s impatience is a dual-edged sword. Driving us to achieve when others urged caution or sending us on fool’s missions toward disasters.

We are living in a time of a pandemic—a time that tests our mettle. Our impatience may kill us if we do not choose our path with care. We forget we are people capable of patient determination in the face of adversity. We forget the legacy of two World Wars, lost to the fog of the past. We forget the fallacy of our mistakes, lost in the noise of our loathing any inconvenience.

We may have the right to pursue happiness, but often that path is paved with challenges requiring patience.

In a time when the simplest actions—wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, minimizing the risk to our fellow Americans—are all that is needed to ride out the storm, we can’t manage even a few months of patience and determination.

Our impatience as Americans drives us to accomplish many things. Yet if we fail to temper that impatience with rationality, it will be our demise. It has already caused the death of 131,509 Americans. If we want to be impatient, be impatient with those who refuse to perform such simple acts out of pure selfishness.


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Erasing History

The recent decision of the United States Marine Corps to ban displays of the Confederate flag is a necessary and welcome policy. I am proud to say, my cousin, Lieutenant General John Broadmeadow, was the senior Marine officer signing and issuing the official command.

Banning symbols associated with those who once fought to preserve slavery is a worthwhile goal. The flag represents two fundamental and undeniable legacies, slavery and a once lethal enemy of the United States of America.

Some have tried to spin the past into a less sinister reality. But the states that seceded from the Union did so to preserve and protect slavery. Every other rationale was ancillary and tangential to the cause.

These are the words three states publicized in justifying their secession.


The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic…”


“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

South Carolina

“But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.”

Let there be no doubt about it, the argument for secession by the confederate states was based on slavery. They considered slaves to be nothing more than property. They saw the rising tide of abolition as an unlawful deprivation of their rights to this property by the government. There was no consideration of the black race as anything near as valuable as the white race. The south saw slaves as little more than two-legged pack animals.

 No alteration of facts, or creative interpretation of history, can change that reality.

Yet, the clamor to remove monuments to those who supported the south as a way of cleansing the stain of slavery is an exercise in contradictions and a fool’s mission.

These statues and artifacts represent a period in history important for us to remember. Removing them will not alter the past anymore than denying the reality behind it.

To remove the name of General Braxton Bragg from Fort Bragg, North Carolina cannot stand scrutiny without removing all those who may have held slaves.

One cannot erase history, no matter how unpleasant, unless one will wipe out all of it. And that is impossible.

If we tear down the statues to Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis because they fought in the cause of slavery, should we also remove statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or the sixteen other Presidents who owned slaves?

Jefferson himself, while troubled by the institution of slavery, vacillated in his position. While he lamented the practice, he still held onto his slaves.

“I can say with conscious truth that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would, to relieve us from this heavy reproach [slavery], in any practicable way. the cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me in a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected: and, gradually, and with due sacrifices, I think it might be. but, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other”

If we are to remove the name Bragg from the fort, should we rename Washington, DC?

Do we erase from the history books the actions of William Tecumseh Sherman because of his total war in Georgia? Sherman was not an abolitionist. He didn’t care if the south held slaves, he fought to preserve the Union. Are those motivations admirable absent a revulsion to slavery?

Sherman’s own words expressed the nature of his conduct of the Southern Campaign.

“I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers … tis only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated … that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.”

Sherman may have detested the realities of “hard war” but he did not shy away from visiting it in all its terror upon his enemies. Is his memorial something to preserve while we demolish those of Robert E. Lee?

Where do we stop trying to whitewash history? Do we remove all the names of soldiers memorialized in Forts and military posts who took part in the genocide of Native Americans?

Much of our history is written in blood. We shouldn’t try to obliterate these histories but learn from them. These statues and portraits represent Americans who lived during a much different time. They stood by their convictions, no matter how we view them now, and their fellow countrymen saw fit to memorialize them.

They are a part of history that is undeniable, unchangeable, and unerasable. Trying to understand the motivations of those who supported the southern cause is important, so such misguided endeavors never happen again.

They also remind us that slavery was the precursor to something many Americans still endure. They carry scars not from the whip but from the crippling pain of racism and discrimination.

The Confederate Flag should be on display in museums and history books. The legacy of slavery should be an important element of every American’s education.

For someone to display the Confederate Flag today is equal to displaying a Nazi flag. We do not celebrate the causes of our enemies. Despite efforts to recharacterize the motivations of secession, the fact remains that the Confederate States took up arms against the United States of America to preserve slavery. One of the most hateful legacies of human history.

Yet it is important, when those enemies were fellow Americans, that we don’t bury history because it is painful to recall it. Remembering something, in its proper perspective, is different than celebrating or endorsing it.

History is a valued teacher if we learn to appreciate and put the lessons into context.


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In Every Moment Lies Opportunity

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward

We have before us one of those moments in history where we face a great upheaval. Often such times are defined by war, ours results from evolution—a mutated virus.

Now in such times we have a choice. We can bemoan the social distancing and shelter-in-place measures necessary to limit the spread of the virus, or we can look for the opportunities within. Wailing and gnashing of teeth about how difficult this is does little to salve our discontent. Crying about the unfairness is a waste of effort. Ignoring the measures out of a selfish sense of inverted priorities is to threaten family, friends, and the whole of the nation.

As a wise woman was fond of saying, “Life’s not Fair.”  That wise woman was my mother and I know, were she alive today, if confronted with someone complaining about the situation would tell them to “get over it and stop acting like a two-year-old.”

Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on the fact you have an opportunity—and the time — to do things that often get left aside in our 7X24 connected world.

Write a letter to a friend, relative, or perhaps a person in the service serving their country in a far-off place unable to be here with their family.

Read a book. Read a book to someone, even if they are far away, put Facetime or some other modern form of communication to a good use.

Take a class on-line.

Visit a zoo thru the wonders of webcams.

Go for a walk (if you can do so without coming closer the 6 feet from others)

Write that great American Novel everyone seems to want to do.

Listen to music. Really listen to music, not as background to your day, but to recapture the essence of why music “has charms to soothe the savage breast.” I find in moments of difficulties listening to the music of my youth is a tonic for the soul.

Write a song, write a poem, list the things you will do when the world recovers. And then do them when the opportunity arises.

Sit outside and look for shapes in the clouds.

Write a diary of these moments so, decades from now, you can remember the things you did and how you overcame any tendency to whine and complain.

Free your mind. Now is the time to awaken or reawaken the magic of imagination, of all things in this universe, it has no limit.

Stay well, stay in, stay safe.  This too shall pass.

An American Twelve Year Memory Loss

In 1956, the year I was born, the world was a much different place than it is today. My generation came into a nuclear-armed world where the possibility of global annihilation rested on the shoulders of opposing powers, Democracy and Communism.

wordmapOr so we were told as we learned to duck and cover under our desks in case of nuclear attack. A mere twelve years before, in 1944, the world still faced Hitler, the Final Solution, and raging war. The end of the war still more than a year, and hundreds of thousands of more deaths, away.

There were no cell phones, websites, or Facebook.


Twelve years later, in 1968, America was being torn apart as much as our military forces were tearing apart the country of Vietnam. The ’68 Tet Offensive, live on TV, brought the war into the American living room as the body count climbed. The military defeat of the Viet Cong lost in the outrage over America’s continued spending of the blood of our young men and women for a failed policy.

Twelve more years pass and, by 1980, Americans were held hostage in Iran, and a new President came into office promising to win their release. What first appeared to be the success of a firm and effective policy later turned out to be political subterfuge.

In 1992, a new chapter dawns. A President takes office who would reopen relations with Vietnam and start the healing process for those who fought there, and then go on national television and lie to the American people. An unnecessary and foolish lie.

Another twelve years, 2004, would find America embroiled once again in an endless war, with no clear goals and no end in sight. A President would commit troops to combat and tell the American people to go shopping.

He would go on to declare “mission accomplished.”

Twelve years later, 2016, the troops were still there. Except, of course, for the ones who’d been wounded or killed after the mission was accomplished.

We also had a new President. In the peculiar institution of our electoral process, more people voted against him than for him but he won the Electoral College.  It gives one pause to consider if we should rethink the accreditation of this college.

Nevertheless, he is the President.

Since taking office, he has shut down the government unless Congress meets his demand for money to build a wall most people agree is an ineffective solution to a complex problem.

And so it goes.

It would seem Americans have an attention span of fewer than twelve years. We repeat the same mistakes, or conveniently forget about them

If I am fortunate enough to enjoy the full extent of my life expectancy, I have two or three more twelve-year cycles to go. Let’s hope we get better at it.

Lessons From Auschwitz-Birkenau

One cannot help but be tormented by the sights of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The sheer size of the complex and the efficiency with which the Nazis exterminated millions is overwhelming. Each of the chimneys in this view are remnants of a barracks that held 4-5 hundred human beings awaiting death.

Emptied and refilled over and over.

The Nazis epitomized all that is wrong with humanity. It is necessary to remind ourselves of the beast within us.

Adolf Hitler killed no Jews.  He used the power of hate, anger, misinformation, and repetition of lies to inspire an entire nation to kill millions of innocent men, women, and children just because they were different. For anyone, anywhere, to emulate the philosophies of the Nazis is the height of ignorance and evil.

To deny the Holocaust is obscene. It is to abandon one’s very soul.

Instead of worrying about football players taking a knee during the National Anthem, we should all be more concerned about the existence of the American Nazi Party and their supporters. Nothing is more unAmerican than such hate.

I defy any rational human being to stand under the gate to Auschwitz, to read the words Arbeit Macht Frei, and not recognize the evil of such philosophies. To stand in a room once filled with human beings stripped of their dignity and realize it was intentionally flooded with poisonous gas by other human beings is to know pure evil.

I stood mere feet from the ovens used to consume the remains of what were once vibrant human beings, all in the cause of purifying the Third Reich. That people holding such philosophies exist today is the worst abomination of humanity. The one thing every American should agree with is there is no place for such hate in our country or anywhere in the world.

It is said that if you desire peace, you should prepare for war. I think a better philosophy is,

If you desire peace, remember the cost of war.

These shoes, taken from a child before he or she was sent to the gas chambers, are a reminder of that cost. They sit alone in front of 40000 pairs found in storage after the Nazis fled the camps. A small reminder of the estimated 16 million pairs taken during the Holocaust.

What potential did we lose with this child’s death?

An Einstein? A Chopin? A Maya Angelou? A Nobel Prize in Medicine?

That is the cost of war and the price of forgetting the past.

At the entrance to one of the barracks in Auschwitz, is the saying by George Santayana “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Remember, Hitler did not kill one Jew.  Yet, with mere words, caused millions of deaths for the sake of a lie.

Never Again!

Words to Inspire: Lost in the Past

At his inaugural address, John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”

I remember that. Those words inspired me and a generation.

It would seem, since then, those that would inspire us are gone.

LBJ took American service personnel to Vietnam. 56000 never came back. The only words I remember from him are, “I shall not seek…”

In other words, he quit.

Richard Nixon took his place. His most memorable words, “I am not a crook.”

Gerald Ford had a brief run. I cannot remember his words of any note. Perhaps, “Fore…Oops.”

Jimmy Carter followed. Sadly, I cannot think of any words by him worth remembering.

Ronald Reagan came next. The words I recall are, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Not the most inspirational of words.

George Bush the First came next…. drawing a blank on that one.

Then came William Jefferson Clinton. “I did not have sex with that woman.” 

The most memorable words from this President are so disheartening. He sounded like a drunken husband, lipstick on his collar and cheap perfume on his clothes, making excuses to his wife.

George the second came next. It’s hard to find a cohesive written thought by him, let alone words that inspire a nation. Oh wait, “Mission accomplished…” 

Wrong. (to quote another would-be President)

Barrack Obama reignited the concept of an articulate President. His words as the first African American President offered a renewed hope. The hope of positive change as our future.

We almost made it.

And now we face a dilemma.

The next president is going to be one of two people. One whose every word incites scorn and disdain. 

Another who defies explanation. You figure out who is who.

Where has this country gone? A country that once inspired words like, “When in the course of human events…” or “We the people of the United States….” Where has that country gone?  

The best we can offer today is a scowling face that says “Wrong” and “She’s a nasty woman” or a woman who best comeback is “Well Donald, maybe you should ask Bernie Sanders.”

That’s the inspiration for a new era?

I mourn the death of the days of Presidents and those that would-be President who inspired us. I am saddened that the candidates today force us to choose a lesser evil.

I want a candidate that will speak and act in a way that generations will remember, not long for.

Can anybody here find us one of those?

Southwestern Thoughts: Pueblos and Rock Music

Traveling through the Southwest, I was intrigued by the changing landscapes. From the flat desert of Phoenix we climbed into the mountains as we drove to Albuquerque.1668896_orig The mountains, steep and rocky, soon gave way to more gently rolling hills now covered with pine trees instead of cactus.

We were at elevations of six to eight thousand feet and the contrasts to the desert couldn’t be starker.

The beauty of this part of the country is breathtaking. The other obvious element of this area is the influence of Mexico. This is a land where the Spanish influenced language, mixed with the cultural heritage of the Mexican people, blended with the Native culture of the Pueblo people exemplifies the best of the multi-cultural melting part that is America.

It occurred to me that calling for a wall between the United States and Mexico would be an insult to the people of this area. These are people who take pride in their culture yet are more American in their attitude than some would admit.

These are a people who accept their differences as a benefit to the country, not something to be lost or blocked off.

There was a time not long ago when the policy of the government, following on the heels of the Spanish efforts, tried to wipe the native culture of the Pueblos from the face of the earth. They forced the children into Indian Schools where they were force-fed Christianity, English, and European history.

They were forbidden to practice their own religion and cultural traditions.

They were forbidden to speak their own language.

They were forced to abandon their history.

This is the land that gave us the “Wind Talkers” of Navajo fame. Whose exploits in the South Pacific against the Japanese are now legendary. Yet, for years it was concealed because to acknowledge it was to give credence to a culture we did not embrace.

The reason for our trip out here was to attend a Mumford and Sons concert. The music was great if a bit loud (I know, my age is showing.) I was struck by the power of the music to inspire the crowd to dance and sing along.

I have never been one for dancing, yet I was a bit envious of those who let themselves be carried away by the songs. Many let themselves just dance away. Many looked quite natural at it. Some, those who haven’t visited a gym or a salad bar in years, looked almost dangerous but hey, they were dancing.

After the concert, we journeyed to Albuquerque and will continue on to Taos and Santa Fe. Here in Albuquerque, we visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. We watched a demonstration of several Native American dances performed by a new generation of Pueblos trying to maintain their cultural heritage.

Many of these dances are performed as part of the Pueblo peoples’ appreciation for the interrelationship of all to the Earth. The animals they hunt, crops they grow, the water they receive as rain are all given due thanks and gratitude.

To the Pueblo, this is their form of devotion to their concept of the creator. Their creation story is no more or less valid than any other. Yet, under the guise of the Christian tradition, we tried to destroy it as a false legend.

It struck me as I watched these young men and women dance, that if people spent less time praying and trying to convince others their beliefs are wrong and more time dancing, be it to a rhythmic chant of an ancient Puebloan rite of harvest or a Mumford and Sons ballad, we’d all be better off.