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title, A Title, The Entitlement Paradox

We live in a culture of entitlement…

I believe it’s true that there’s a fine line between genius and insanity,that one mans ceiling can be another mans floor, and that at some point entitlement becomes “enablement.” I understand that people have the capacity to be selfless at times, most commonly where our children are concerned, but beyond that it’s actually quite rare. A couple of the things President Obama said in his address struck me as him taking the nature of humans (specifically Americans) to what I see as “undeserved heights.”

an excerpt from his address…

“For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe- Sanh”.
“Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction”.

When he started talking about how “For us” people had done all of those things so that WE might live a better life a voice in my head said

“Oh baloney, they did it for themselves so THEY could live a better life”

It’s kind of like people who say that they want their kids to live a better life than them or to have it easier than they did only to end up raising adults who have no understanding or appreciation of what it’s taken all of these years to provide them with their cushy existence, robbing them of the vital life lessons that hardship or even hard work have to teach us. It’s a fundamentally flawed notion if it excludes that greatest of all secrets, that the process of doing is integral to our fullfillment.

So what you’re telling me (sir) is that all of those people made all of those sacrifices so that we as a nation could live the way we live now?

It just doesn’t add up…

My point is this, If they really wanted their kids to have a better life they would of taught them about what gave life greater meaning to them instead of how to, as Obama said…

” seek only the pleasures of riches and fame”.

President Obama went on to say…

“Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom”.

Not these sit on your butt with too much time on their hands so they can figure out something to be unhappy about people who call themselves Americans today…

President Obama went on to say…

“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government”.

No, I’m not questioning the scale of your ambitions, I whole heartedly applaud them! what I question is the American people’s greatly compromised moral integrity. I don’t understand how the ground has shifted in that respect.

I’m talking about the stock trader with his finger on the keyboard thats one stroke away from selling short a companies stock which will instantly make him rich and ultimately put thousands of people out of work.

I’m talking about the single perhaps drug addicted mother who’s endured a life of abuse and unfairness. Who based on the circumstances she’s been subjected to now feels entitled to continue to have children with as many men as she wants to, inflicting her vindication and rationalizations on our society in the responsibility she lays at our doorstep.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. All of us have, in some way, rationalized our own self serving actions and my guess is that thats not going to change anytime soon.

“They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it “entitle” us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint”.

seems like we missed the boat on just about all of those lately…

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

God Bless President Obama, for attempting to summon up the American peoples higher attributes… listen to what he says about our present situation and get a sense of the tight rope he’s walking between telling us how it is,and what needs to happen to fix it, while at the same time scolding us as a nation for where we are.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

A return to these truths indeed, except I see it as the source of my doubt…that we the American people will choose that option.

This is a very stirring, mesmerizing even, conclusion…

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America”.

I’m not nearly as eloquent as whomever wrote the above, so I’ll say this in as plain a way as I can…What President Obama doesn’t understand is that the Americans who championed all of those qualities he mentioned that we must return to have mostly passed on. They were people who truly did have the grace of God upon them and his Holy Spirit dwelling within them.

perhaps this, from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians…

3:14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

At this precarious point in the history of our great nation we truly do need a miracle.

Will we turn back to the one who so willingly supplied all of the miracles that made this nation the greatest one in the history of man?

2 Chronicles 7:14
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

 

 

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What a wonderful world (not)

I suppose that I’m something of a “see it when you believe it” person however I realize that there are many ways to see things, including our present world situation. Having said that I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve “seen” and relate them to things that I “believe.”

I’ll start with the middle east situation…

Judah, in the book of Joshua, was told by God that He would fight for them and that they “wouldn’t lose.” He also tells them not to “ally themselves” with the survivors of these nations because they would cause them problems. Yes, that was then…but it sure sounds like now!

Joshua 23: 9-13

9 The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the LORD your God.

12 But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you.

When it comes from God, it’s more than just “good advice” to the Israelite’s. This whole situation could of been avoided…but too late now. I’m sickened and saddened by the innocent bloodshed that’s happening in Gaza and I pray for the peace of all people and the safety of Israel.

Will this conflict escalate to the point that we see the Antichrist step onto the world stage and forge a peace treaty between the Israelies and the Arab’s and usher in three and a half years of world peace? (or have I just had too much caffeine?) I don’t know, but sitting here this morning next to a warm fire it seems a chilling possibility.

PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/ by pinkturtle2.

War represents man’s ultimate failure…but we must look at images like these to really understand that… “have you no heart to break?” Then I pray for you as well…

The words of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir ring true: We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.

Etna ash eruption during sunset by Thomas Reichart.
Revelation 6:12-14
12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

How about the news reports concerning the increased frequency of seismic activity in and around the Yellowstone national park area. Did you know that there’s a big volcano underneath Yellowstone? I mean a really BIG volcano called a caldera whose cones can be as wide as 1500 miles across! If it erupted as it has the potential to it would reek havoc on this little blue and green rock we all live on. Of course it’s unlikely to happen at this time, but then again it’ll also probably be unlikely to happen on the day that it does blow… What I find interesting about all of this is how it might play into the biblical prophesies concerning the tribulation.

According to experts, an eruption of this “Caldera” and the ensuing volcanic ash cloud would have a devastating effect on the worlds food crops and cause mass starvation. I think that this scenario has already been anticipated by the “new world order” who have taken steps to insure “their” continued acess to food stocks and ability to produce food. They have a seed vault somewhere in a big cave with enough seed to restart agriculture…and that’s exactly what they’ll do! A third of the people on the earth will have died, a whole bunch more will have been raptured out, (Lord we pray) it won’t be necessary to “explain” where everyone went to people because I’m thinking they might have more pressing concerns just then. The people that are left will be for the most part completely at the mercy of the “powers that be” as far as having a way to get food or be connected to other life sustaining services that only they could provide. That’s when they’ll mark everybody like cattle with some kind of “magnetic ink” that can’t be tampered with or counterfeited…voila! instant world control! the one’s who control the food will control the world!

the accuracy of biblical prophesy is something like 100% so it’s really just a question of…

“when?”

Here’s some information I found about volcanic ash…

Falling ash can turn daylight into complete darkness. Accompanied by rain and lightning, the gritty ash can lead to power outages, prevent communications, and disorient people. The residue contains fluorine and is poisonous to livestock

“And the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind”.

Stars don’t fall from the sky…but a meteor that’s 100 feet in diameter has the energy equivalency of a one-megaton explosion, roughly seven times greater than that of the weapon that leveled Hiroshima. Such a meteor enters Earth’s atmosphere about every 100 years. A Tanguska-scale meteor, with an explosive energy equivalent of 10 megatons could occur every 1,000 years.

As “Doomy and Gloomy” as all of this sounds there’s a way to avoid all of it! That includes the feelings of anxiety and hopelessness so many people are dealing with right now. I’ve often wondered why (given the many great promises in Gods word) people resist it or why they turn away from it. It seems to be summed up in the saying “heaven, don’t miss it for the world!” or perhaps, “Jesus, don’t miss him for your self!” I think the Lord looks down on this world and see’s all of the deception going on and His heart breaks for those who reject Him. Christ became flesh to save us from sin, to show the world the depth of Gods love for us through His crucifixion. Those of us here on earth who have felt it seek to express in some small way that same love to others anyway we can. The most important question you’ll ever answer will be when God ask’s you “What did YOU do with my son” If you have trouble answering that question begin today to seek Jesus, invite Him in to your heart and ask Him to make the changes that need to be made. To repent is to turn, and that is what we all must do…don’t let anyone discourage you by bringing up your past or how far you still have to go,whats important is not where you are as much as which way you’re facing

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Green Banana’s

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I can always tell when it’s getting to be time for me to write another blog.

For days now, I’ve been hearing internal dialogue’s going on in my mind…

Phrases turned, concepts tried, meaning sought.

I chose this title because of a phrase my father used to say in reference to his health

“I don’t even buy green banana’s anymore.”

There’s something comical to me about a person seeming to have so little sensitivity about their own eminent mortality. It’s as if whats of greatest importance is to engage the other person by means of “truth telling” or “gallows humor.” It also reminded me of our current economic malaise, the whole de-flation thing. Banana’s are normally about .69 a pound (green bananas) But if you wait for a short while, they bundle them up on a tray and sell ’em for a quarter a pound! They say they’re “over-ripe” but I’ve never thought so, they’re actually just right and the price is right too! Why should I care if somewhere in Central America a banana farmer has to lay off a few workers or cut the wages of some others because I wouldn’t pay .69 a LB for banana’s?


(these are the banana workers)

What am I trying to do, guilt you into paying full price for some bananas?

No, I’m just using the banana story to illustrate something I’m sure most of you already know. That for every person who holds the clean end of the stick…

(well you know what that leaves)

Also, to try to give a real life example of what each of our choices or actions say about what we really think is going on.

How about the consumer confidence level? Given the uncertain nature of our economy, right now may not be the best time to spend money on new big ticket items or take on long term debt. Many Americans are only spending on necessities and are putting off the”wants” in favor of the “needs.” Still others are of the opinion that our current economic cycle is precisely that. That there’s little cause for serious concern. To quote a late great elder statesman, one Frank Zappa, who in a song by the same name playfully mocked American people by saying, “It can’t happen here!” (please,check it out) What can’t happen? That our highly prized way of life could rather suddenly go by the wayside…

It certainly has “happened” to me!

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I find it to be the height of coincidence that my situation has so closely paralleled the bigger picture of our country, not only in the last few years but in the years since my birth in 1960. So if you’re looking for someone to blame I suppose that’d be me… I witnessed the American family becoming less relevant than the self, providing the proper mindset to embrace the rising drug culture as my “religion” in the 1970’s. I was flush with the fashion in the conspicuous eighties, doing my utmost to consume enough “whatever” to keep the wind from whistling through the hole in my soul. It’s a lot harder than you think to be tragically hip..

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you no one told you when to run you’ve missed the starting gun…(Breathe-Pink Floyd)

A great ironic hallmark happened to me in the 1990’s, supposedly I was “over the hill” chronologically. But due to my years of drug use I was emotionally still a child in a lot of critical ways. Before this decade was through I had had it all and lost it all, I faced the new millennium sober for the first time in my adult life. I was a 40yr old “Green Banana”

A brave new century, and a new life! which seemed to me to be about putting out fires and exorcising the demons of the past by living “politically correctly” in the present. A plausible theory if you don’t start any new fires which can harbor new demons. We all must eventually confront our own frailties and understand our own new limitations. I became old early in February of 06′ when I slipped and fell on some wet steps. It was more than my rotator cuff that shattered that groundhog’s day morning, it was my invincibility. Sort of like my own personal “twin towers” moment.

They say it’s a recession when it happens to someone else, but it’s a depression when it happens to you.

My last full time job prior to being a school bus driver ended on 07/07/07…
I was blacklisted in the trucking industry when a former employer lied about me to the driver “advocacy” council, (legally libeled)
By December of last year I was behind on my mortgage and looking to put my home on the market…(I’m still in my home by the grace of God!)
By April my car had been repossessed, (which made me eligible for food stamps) and my pastor provided me with one that had been donated to him.
I went “belly up” on my credit cards, owing about 7-8 thousand dollars, I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls but nothing more than that.
I “survived” for months on money I made selling vegetables I grew, fresh eggs, and stuff I owned that I sold as well as some small odd jobs I took on.
I turned myself in to the authorities in August because I was unable to appear in court on contempt charges related to my child support and spent 10 days in jail, I was deemed too wealthy to receive “free counsel.” (I was released on 08/08/08)

Naturally, I had to chuckle when they announced in late November of this year that our country was in a recession.

There’s something comical to me about a person seemingly having so little sensitivity about their own eminent mortality.

My father passed on the summer before last, and so now it’s me that doesn’t buy green bananas…

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What Child Is This?

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Having the opportunity to work around a school and “school children” has really put me in touch with a lot of my own adolescent school memories! Because of the circumstances of my own education I have a real soft spot for special needs kids or kids who just seem to fall through the cracks of the system. Based on my own life experience it’s my opinion that children’s behavioral issues (beyond simple boundary testing) are   outward manifestations of the circumstances in their lives that they have no other way to express than to “act out” what they’re feeling. They engage in these behaviors in the fervent hope that someone will understand and help them deal with the “situation” they’re unable to express in a more verbal fashion. When a four year old bites and hits and causes chaos we discipline them with swats on the butt or time outs expecting that to be more formidable or threatening to them than the scary stuff that’s already in their heads.

adhd

I think in many cases that’s exactly what we do…and it doesn’t work,at least not for the child! It may bring them into compliance in the moment which is seen as a victory of sorts for the caregiver but I see it as a temporary symptom based treatment of much deeper issues.

Years later, When this same child who has now been labeled a “discipline problem” and who’s outgrown the previous approaches exhibits new symptoms of conditions with names like “oppositional defiant disorder” or “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” we scratch our heads and send them off to the psychiatrist for evaluations. Some get the help they need and others don’t . Its those kids that don’t whom oftentimes, in an attempt to get a need met, become involved with substance abuse, gang’s, teen sex, or even just good old fashioned stuff like being disruptive and talking back to teachers.

Sadly, conventional wisdom says that the these new problems are best handled by suspensions, expulsions, or other “bullying” techniques. Of course I’ll admit that those techniques are effective on some students, however the ones I’m referring to who have what I consider to be “special needs” are kids who have 55 gallon drums of industrial strength pain constantly leaking into their psyche to whom the idea of being suspended as punishment seems laughable or absurd, or even a relief from the daily bludgeoning they receive from peers, principals, and worst of all themselves…It is indeed a very dark place.

AK000596 by you.

Lets fast forward to the rest of their lives…

Looking into the face of this young girl we quickly remind ourselves that her circumstances don’t absolutely have the last word on her life and that they can and do prepare us for life in some very special ways. Also that we can either let our circumstances get in the way of what we want in life or choose not to which is of course true, but how many of us could summon up the necessary tenacity to see this through without a lot of VERY special help?

In this life, no one succeeds or fails alone…

There is a much more typical result for children who’ve been mishandled by the people in their lives who’s charge it was to help guide them into becoming a successfully functioning adult. You can expect them to become chronically underachieving adults whose life challenges include the inability to maintain long term relationships with people or hold steady jobs. They’re alcoholics, drug addicts,or maybe in prison…why? One reason is because when you’re young and cute and so vulnerable it’s easier to garner compassion and perhaps understanding from people, but as you grow older peoples perception is basically that you ARE your behavior which is patently false.

They may be much older but their techniques of self expression are at times much the same as a small child’s…logically it also makes sense that the actual solution would also be the same. In the life of a child or a young adult the positive influence of even one person in they’re lives can have a profound impact. When we practice “understanding” people we validate their feelings instead of beating them up for having them. Learning new and more positively functional ways to get our needs met in this life is what it’s all about!

it’s irrelevant how old they are or…who’s child is this?

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Are facts the truth?

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Facts can be accurate, that doesn’t always make them right…
facts are dispassionate, the truth is compassionate
Facts are said to be “cold and hard”like a prison cell,

the truth, will set you free!

just the facts…to tell the truth!

The biggest difference between facts and the truth I’ve noticed is in how they’re used. I recently heard of a young couple planning to get married,the fact is that at least 50% of marriages result in divorce, especially when the people are under 25yrs old. It takes years to really know what it is that you want out of life or who you really are, people sometimes grow and change a lot in their early twenties. based on these “facts” I would have a hard time being supportive of the idea.

Whats the truth? The truth is that what’s impossible with man IS possible with God, when a husband and wife put God first in their marriage He’ll bless it. a generation ago it wasn’t unusual at all for people to get married at 16 or 17 yr’s old! Those are the ones celebrating their 50th and 60th anniversaries today! Who disregarded the “fact” that at times they were perhaps very unhappy with their spouse in favor of the truth which is that “nobody’s perfect” and that we’ve all done some pretty dumb things! Whose ability to let go of the dead weight of condemnation and remember what it was they loved about this person to begin with carried them over the rough patches.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “speaking the truth in love?’ The term ‘truth in love’ is actually redundant. You can’t have the truth without love. It says in the Bible that God is truth and that God is love. Facts are often used to accuse or discourage someone, or in a condemning manner,are you starting to smell something? who IS the accuser of the brethren? That’s right! our enemy himself, Satan…Whats interesting to me about all of this is that when we use the “facts” to tear someone down we ourselves are also left vulnerable to the same attack! This is an area that I know I’ve screwed up in…why? Because I live in a world of facts, as critical, judgmental and deadly as a heart attack to a person’s Christian walk…So now, it’s only the truth that can set me free, the truth in love!

Telling people that they’re responsible for the results of every choice they’ve made in life may be a fact…but it’s not the truth!

People make some of life’s most important decisions during their teen years at a time when their least qualified to make them! They don’t always have parents or counselors in their lives to help them make good choices. So we heap responsibility or “blame” onto people who are least able to discern truth from fact and then wonder why they resort to lifelong self-destructive behaviors. Based on what I’ve observed being an adult is no magic solution to the problem either, sadly we become even quicker to verbally injure people with our “great truth”.

It’s that sort of thinking that drove me to the edge and had me convinced that I basically had no place among decent folks. And it’s that sort of behavior that I can’t sit by and allow to be used to bludgeon others with.

I just can’t…

Because it’s not the truth!