Blog Post # 344 – Facebook Is Not Too Political

People complain that Facebook has become too political.

To them, I say, “you should see Twitter!”

I understand the sentiment of longing for a “simpler” time in social media.

But we do not live in simpler times.

For better or worse, Facebook is our electronic town square.

We share stories, information, and news.

The fact that things have skewed more political lately is entirely proper.

We can certainly enjoy cat videos, baseball news and hearing success stories of our friends’ children.

Plenty of value in that.

But there also is great value in getting untold stories out there.

Yesterday, I shared a Facebook post about an elderly white gentleman who threatened to terrorize a mosque. Yet, he is not being charged with terrorism.

I thought everyone that I knew already had heard about this guy.

Turns out to not be the case.

I am glad that I shared it.

Last month, three young ladies decided on a Thursday night to hold a rally downtown in support of immigrants on the following Saturday, i.e., less than 48 hours later.

They didn’t have to buy radio time to advertise the rally.

No news stations covered the rally ahead of time.

Yet, 250 people showed up to this peaceful rally and march.

All through creating an event on Facebook.

Social media is a tool.

As with all tools, Facebook can be used for good, productive things or for completely wasting time.

I understand the sentiment of wanting to fill Facebook with fun, happy things.

But we need this tool and we should use it as much as we can to bring about change.

Or not.

Now, who has the best Onion article to share?

Blog Post # 343 – Too Soon

Heard an interesting statistic recently.

Whether it is true or not, it is an interesting thought experiment.

The notion is that by the time that we graduate from high school, if we go away for college, we have already spent 80% of the time with our parents that we will for our entire life.

This, of course, assumes that everyone lives a normal lifespan.

Which, statistically speaking, is a pretty big assumption.

Puts things in a bit of different perspective.

Next year, our eldest son Ismail will be a sophomore in high school.

Yusuf, a freshman.

So the two of them will be 3 and 4 years away from being mostly done spending time with us.

Hard to fathom.

Under normal circumstances, though, we will probably live in the same house as our children for the first 18 years of their life.

And then, unless they return home later, they are on their own.

An 18-year ramp to help them launch their lives.

Time marches on.

The kids grow into adults.

The end of that launching period is certainly on the horizon.

How did it get here so quickly?

It seems like Ismail and Yusuf were just little guys running around in their little person clothes, watching the Wiggles and singing along with Farmer Jason.

Man, it goes by fast.

Lesson here: make the most of every moment.

Even when they drive us crazy.

One of my favorite books that Ismail and I used to read together were from the Curious George series.

In one of the stories, George and the Man in the Yellow Hat were invited to a Halloween Party at their neighbor’s house, Mrs. Gray.

At the end of the story, George had to leave, having made a big mess at the party.

There was a line at the end – “too soon it was time to say goodbye.”

Too soon.

For sure.

Blog Post # 342 – No Greater Teacher

Our daughter Noor heard the “N-word” recently.

One of her fellow seven-year-olds called another seven-year-old girl the N-word in the school bathroom.

Noor asked what the N-word meant.

She asked her 11-year old brother, Ibrahim, and I what it meant.

Ibrahim got upset and said, “oh, Noor, that is a terrible word. You cannot ever use it.”

Noor got scared.

Noor likes to follow the rules.

I told her that it is a word that is hateful, mean and meant to really make African American people feel horrible.

Interestingly, Noor asked us about this on the same day that we were all going to see Hidden Figures at the movie theater.

Such an amazing film.

Those of us fighting for the civil rights of immigrants and the oppressed have no greater teacher than the struggles of African Americans.

In today’s world of identity politics, some folks tend to play the victim card.

To argue that they have it worse than anyone else.

The fact is, no group has a lock on hardship.

But Native Americans and African Americans have experienced such degrees of degradation, inequality, and oppression that what we deal with now in 2017 pales in comparison.

No matter what group we fight for.

The keys to bringing about change in 2017 can be found in the successes of the changes that African Americans brought about in the United States in the 1950s.

Political change.

Legislative change.

Changing of hearts and minds.

This post can in no way do justice to the injustice experienced by African Americans.

But movies like Roots, Selma, Hidden Figures, 12 Years a Slave and To Kill A Mockingbird help modern day children and adults to see the struggles that went on before us.

When I watched the movie yesterday, I kept getting pissed at the separate but “equal” approach to life in 1960s America.

Separate bathrooms, coffee machines and places on the bus.

So infuriating.

Black people had to put up with so much BS.

And this was 100 years after slavery ended.

When the movie was over, we all discussed our favorite lines.

But until this morning, I forgot what my favorite scene of the movie was.

The film’s protagonist explains (and I’m paraphrasing here) that there are many ways to help bring about progress.

Her amazing brain helped us send a man into orbit, but she was continuously thwarted in achieving a full seat at the table because she was a woman and because she was black.

It is a remarkable film. When it ended, the entire theater (mostly white people) cheered.

We can all help improve the lot of our fellow Americans.

We simply have to have the will and the willingness to say no.

To take a stand.

And to fight.

Blog Post # 341 – Top of Your Game

 

 

All-star.

Professional.

Top of our game.

What does it take to be the best?

Do we really want to put in the work to be the best?

Or do we settle for “close enough?”

The amount of work it takes to be pretty good is about half of what it takes to reach the summit.

To be the # 1 in our field.

The last few steps to the top of the mountain are the hardest.

Yes, we know our stuff.

Yes, we do a good job.

But to claim the mantle of the best takes a whole lot more.

The best baker.

The best mother.

The best mathematician.

To reach this highest ground, we have to grind.

We have to work.

We must perfect our craft.

It also takes a tremendous amount of incredible focus.

Eschewing things that do not help us get to where we want to be.

Saying no a whole lot more often.

So that we can say yes to success.

The ultimate success.

For today, let us envision being the best.

Visualize what is going to take to get there.

And get started.

Blog Post # 340 – Clank

I grew up on the best street ever.

Arch Terrace.

One day, I will write a novel about it.

The street was filled with some of the greatest characters.

Our Catholic grade school and parish church were at one end of the Terrace, our house towards the other end.

We would walk down Arch Terrace a couple of times a day – to school, to church, to the school parking lot where all of our fun took place.

The neighbors on Arch Terrace were as close as people can be.

Nobody had a big yard and everyone’s house was very close to the house beside it.

To say that everyone was up in everyone else’s business would be quite an understatement.

It was an idyllic, special, special place.

One of the houses that we would pass on the way to school and church was the Wagners.

My friend and classmate Chris Wagner lived there.

Chris’s mom and dad were dear friends of my parents and we were over there all the time.

Nina was the mom. Clarence was the dad. But no one called him Clarence.

He was Clank.

Clank and my dad were good friends.

They traded tools back and forth often and helped each other out on their crazy projects.

My dad would be building a deck for someone on the street and he would need a special tool.

He would send me over to the Wagners and Clank would tell me to just go ahead and take whatever my dad needed.

I remember that Clank and Nina hosted my dad’s surprise 40th birthday party.

That would have been 36 years ago.

A lifetime ago.

A different life. A different time.

One Christmas, the Hackings and the Wagners were the last ones to take their Christmas tree lights down.

Either my dad or Clank suggested that we have a contest to see whose lights would last the longest.

No replacement of any bulbs was allowed.

If all your lights burned out, you lost.

If you forgot to turn the lights on, you lost.

Chris and I were usually in charge of turning the lights on each night.

Clank and dad made sure that we did.

The Post-Dispatch put Chris and I on the front page of the newspaper.

Voice of America radio carried the story and the Wagners’ relatives in Germany heard about it.

My dad and Clank eventually stopped the contest after a year and a half because President Carter asked Americans to conserve energy.

Clank Wagner would give you the shirt off his back and ask if you needed another one.

We all loved Clank and Nina.

Dear, dear friends to my parents.

Mr. Wagner passed away suddenly this week.

He went to bed and did not wake up.

Clank and Nina raised 2 wonderful sons and 2 amazing daughters – Annie, Joe, Chris and Nina.

Special people, one and all.

Godspeed, Clank. You were truly loved.

Blog Post # 339 – Power Time

Some folks that I know are morning people.

Others get their work done late at night.

I, for one, seem to accomplish more in my first 4 hours of the day than I do in the evening.

I’m not one of those people that can drive overnight for a vacation.

In the morning, I am rested.

My mind is clear.

I can focus and pay attention a whole lot better.

When I was young, my father woke us up every morning at 5:45.

“Jimmy! Kerry! Molly! Rise and shine. Another beautiful day for the Corps.”

(He had been in the Marine Corps).

So, I suppose that I had the early morning schedule drilled into me at a young age.

This year, I have been driving my eldest son downtown to school most mornings.

I have not been able to tap into my early morning reserves since September.

But my wise wife recommended that I start going in early on Saturdays.

And it really worked. Yet again.

I was able to finish a significant amount of work in just a few short hours last Saturday.

For today, let us find our body’s rhythm.

Figure out what our best time of day is.

And do what we can to not be interrupted during this time slot.

Best of luck.

Blog Post # 338 – Work that Matters

(This one didn’t post yesterday.  Sorry for the error).

Yes, we are busy.

We are all so busy.

Love to tell each other how unbelievably busy we are.

But what are we doing?

How are we really spending our time?

We must focus on work that matters.

Work that changes the dynamic.

Work that helps us leap forward instead of just puttering along.

So easy to spin our wheels in the triviality.

Much harder to turn off the phone, close the browser, dig in and do real work.

For today, let us be less busy.

Maybe get a few less things on our to do list checked off.

And instead, focus on the one or two things that really matter.

That really help us move forward.

Leave the rest alone.

It will surely be there tomorrow too.

Blog Post # 337 – Borrowed Time

Today is a gift.

Let us not waste it.

Tomorrow may never come.

Be present – right here – in the moment.

The fact that we are alive right now is a miracle.

Over the years, friends from high school have died.

One crushed by a car.

One by an apparent suicide.

One died on a hike.

A dear friend from law school died on my birthday a few years back after being struck by a car while she was pumping gas.

Live today as if it is your last.

See if that helps focus you.

Let’s you see what is truly important.

And what is not.

Not offering this from a place of fear.

But rather one of strength and love.

For today, let us ground ourselves in the moment.

And savor the sunrise, the sunset and every instance in between.

We are all truly living on borrowed time.

Let’s make the most of it.

Blog Post # 336 – A Space Certain

Compass

What’s important?

Important to you.

Money?

Success?

Love?

Spirituality?

Family?

Its funny that the most important aspects of a life well-lived can usually be summed up in a single word.

Interesting too is the fact that when we focus on one of these (or some other) aspects of life, they tend to grow.

If we devote time and energy to our most important thing, that thing will grow.

Like a muscle.

Conversely, if we simply say these things are important to us, but put little to no effort in achieving them, they will never come to pass.

So our job is to discern what is important – most important – to us and then work towards achieving it.

And then working some more.

Focus and hustle.

Focus and hustle.

Throw in some perseverance and tenacity and we are on our way.

Simplistic, perhaps.

But without a firm commitment to a space certain, we will spin our wheels and never get there.

Never get anywhere.

Godspeed to you.
I hope that you identify what is most important for you.

And that you take a few steps towards that destination today.

Blog Post # 335 – Talk With, Not At

Last week, the producer for a local conservative television talk show host invited me onto the show to discuss the President’s executive order.

The show is called the Allman Report and is hosted by talking head, Jamie Allman.

I agreed to the in-studio interview.

A short time later, dread and worry started to creep in.

“Why did I agree to do this?” I asked myself.

The worry escalated when I spent some time on the Allman Report website.

When I say that Mr. Allman is conservative, it is a bit of an understatement.

His support of President Trump is strong to say the least.

I watched a few recent episodes where Jamie discussed immigration and other hot button issues.

Jamie is a forceful speaker with a megaphone for a voice box.

Great voice for radio and TV.

I spent a lot of time preparing.

I watched Jamie discuss immigration with former Missouri Speaker of the House, Tim Jones.

I listened to his radio show.

The concern for the interview increased significantly.

I arrived at the studio with some trepidation, but I felt like I had prepared.

I was expecting the worst.

Jamie’s first question to me was about something I had posted on social media – a Facebook post criticizing Tom Brady for the display of his Make America Great Again hat in his locker at Gillette Stadium.

“Oh, he’s been checking my social media?” I worried.

But then a funny thing happened, Jamie let me tell my side of the story.

I got the chance to share everything that I thought about the Executive Order.

He did not bite my head off.

He did not try and twist my words.

We had a very civil discussion.

Jamie acknowledged his “right wing” bent and I acknowledged my liberal views on immigration.

We had a very civil and fun discussion of an important complex topic.

I was not expecting that.

But this is what we need more of in America.

Less yelling, more dialoguing.

If two guys on opposite ends of the political spectrum can discuss immigration like this, we can certainly talk to our friends without going bonkers.

Fact is we are probably not going to convince each other of our position.

But we may open up some minds to alternative ways of thinking.

Not alternative facts, but alternative thought processes.

Good stuff.