Friday, January 13, 2012

It's a War Zone Out There

I’m just a voter, like many of you. And over the last few years I’m feeling kind of used. I’m not sure who has my best interest at heart. It seems like every politician I hear from has the same message.  “I will fight for you!” Listen to them… they all say the same thing. “I will fight for you!” Personally I will stick my neck out and say that I have no enemies at this time here at home.

My wife is a relatively calm person, she does possess a fairly good throwing arm, but we don’t entertain all that often, having two vicious Maltese, and we just don’t have anyone to fight.  So, I really don’t need anyone fighting for me. Now, if there was someone out there, heaven forbid, who was going to come by and steal my riding mower, the weedwacker or one of the dogs, we’ve got a problem.

But…I don’t think I would call my local politician and say, “Dear representative, will you please fight for me?” What exactly are they fighting for? It seems, in the age in which we live, in order to run for office and be elected one has to be fighting for something. Therefore, politicians put themselves in a fighting mode to fight for us when we really don’t need anyone to do that. Then they get to wherever the fighting is supposed to take place, like a legislature or someplace and there you go, they find the other guys who are supposed to be fighting also and they all fight.

Well, we elected them to fight for us and that’s what they do. This year I’m not going to vote for anyone who’s going to fight for me. I’m going to vote for someone who speaks for me…or maybe represents me? See, I don’t want my man/woman going up there with a chip on their shoulder. I want some common ground found. We get these political pit bulls so wound up over fighting why, they even fight the people in their own party!

Doesn’t matter which party…they all fight! Just look at those repugnant republican debates. At last count there were six fighters fighting each other for the right to fight for us. And what in the world were they fighting over? Do they oppose gay marriage? It depends on the votes. Are they conservative enough? It depends on the state and who’s voting.   And then there’s that question of when someone is born.
If you ask my wife she’ll say, February 24, 1986. It was five AM and her water broke. I’m lying there in a puddle and she rolls over and goes back to sleep. She says our daughter’s birth happened sometime after that but I’ve gone through at least six months of bloating, morning sickness and swollen feet so it must have happened sooner.
So they fight about the conception thing (I’m pretty sure I know when that happened) when the important thing is there’s another person on the planet for whom we are responsible and we’ve got the Chinese breathing down our throats with lead paint and toys that don’t make it through Christmas.
If our “leaders” worried as much about how death happens as they did about how or when life begins, we, the voters would probably be better off. We are just not picking our politicians’ fights very well.   Maybe it’s time we changed the climate by changing the language we use to send these “gladiators” to congress in the first place.  “I’ll represent you.” Sounds humane, like a person would be more willing to listen and not annihilate their fellow “gladiators” during a debate.  What we seem to have now are political termites eating away the fabric of our country who will say or do anything for a vote. You want to talk about throwing someone under a bus!? These guys invented it.
Where’s the leadership? The integrity?  The moral courage?  I guess they’re under the bus with the rest of us. I don’t know who I’ll vote for in the next election. I just wish it didn’t have to be someone fighting someone else for me. If you take your hand out of my pocket, I am perfectly capable of defending myself. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Old New Year Has His Say on '12 Resolutions

Well, Happy New Year, from the Old New Year! Yeah, it’s me ... again. How do I know it’s me? Well, ’cause I ain’t no different than the New Year from last year.

I realize for the next few days I’m not very welcomed around these parts, but ’til Sunday morning rolls around I intend on having my say and letting y’all know this Ol’ New Year ain’t going out without a struggle.

Actually, I’m wondering what the heck happened, although I should be used to this stuff, ’cause the same dadburned thing happens every single year. Ya’ll remember last year? Here came New Year and the “resolutions.” Not talking about that band ya’ll danced to ... talking about those things you made up when things were going good last Dec. 31.

See, New Year was all about having fun, losing weight, reading a book a week, planting some plants, adopting something that needed adopting and in general, saving the planet. Well, helloooooo. Look at me now! Old New Year, a little older a little wiser and trotting in here on a Wednesday before this next New Year, looking just about like I did last year. Don’t go looking away! I know you remember me.

Let’s be honest and I’ll go first. Truth is I ain’t read the first book with the exception of a catalog, I’m so far in debt I have to look up to look down, and if I could lose 10 pounds I’d give up smoking. Smoking jumped up and caught me by surprise disguised as a doggone pipe! I had the smoking resolution in there ... just didn’t think about the pipe thing. In addition, the planet still appears to be on its way to hell in a handbasket (just ask anybody) and the only things I ended up adopting were some of New Year’s resolutions! Total waste of time.

There’s other habits you can get into but I don’t have time to go into all of ’em now. Except, just between you and me, I hear that Internet is a good resource for habits. ’Course you won’t hear anything about those things from New Year. And speaking of New Year! People, New Year is getting ready to put the same scam on you that came around this time last year whilst you was dancin’ and prancin’ to either the Bee Gees (love me some Bee Gees), Johnny Taylor (my personal favorite) or the Bieber (Lord, have mercy; now there’s a bad habit for ya).

The truth is this has been going on since New Year’s ’01. See, Old New Year, that’s me, invented the word “res-o-lu-shun.” That’s right. I’ll admit it. We, (me and New Year), got together -- oh, I guess it was around the time of Adam -- and I let New Year talk him right out of the garden. New Year said next year would be better if he, Adam, was in charge of everything from recreation to Internet sites. Well, we had no idea how long the boy would live. You can plainly see why we’re headed straight for the fire pit! After a time and a million resolutions or so, Ol’ Adam found himself “on the outside lookin’ in” (love Little Anthony too) and Eve cursing the day she ever heard of New Year’s. So this year Old New Year (that would be me) got together with New Year and decided to limit resolutions to one. She (of course, she’s a she!) said, “Let’s tell folks if those old resolutions didn’t work in the Old New Year, just try again. You know, being more persistent can be a resolution too.” Happy New Year Y’all!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Only What We Made Them

Two institutions of higher learning -- what we used to refer to as colleges -- were playing a game of basketball last weekend. It was a blowout and words were exchanged between players. A few of the players felt disrespected and near the end of the game, decided to regain their self-respect as grown men and retaliate. As punishment, one of the coaches required his players to take off their jerseys after entering the locker room.

I remember the retaliation mode as a kid and would usually use it after being asked to do something around the house -- take out the garbage or clean up my room. This would usually result in either teasing the dog or shooting the mailbox or other metal objects with the BB gun. Most of the metal objects around my house were dented and it’s no wonder I was never allowed to own anything more powerful than a Daisy.

My being disrespected in some way was just not an option and the dog knew it. So when dad found dents he would do what any grown man would do and require me to take off my shirt. Ultimate dissing, which is cool slang for actually being disrespected. Something a grown man (whatever that’s supposed to be) would never tolerate).

He would say, “Son, you have to earn the right to wear that shirt and shooting the mailbox with the BB gun will not get you there.”

He explained this technique to my wife before he passed away, and it works for her also. “Harmon, until you get that yard mowed and feed the birds you cannot wear that shirt in this house!” Dissed again.

Now I read where the coach of the University of Cincinnati basketball team has adopted the same strategy. It seems one of his players felt “disrespected” and decided he and some “tough guys” would “zip” up the other team.

Here’s what one of the players said, “We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here. We’ve got a whole bunch of gangstas in the locker room, not thugs, but tough guys on the court. And we went out there and zipped them up at the end of the game.”

This is basketball is it not? Putting a ball through a hoop? Maybe doing a little dribbling and passing on the side? I’m still trying to figure out what “zip them up” means. Don’t we have a zipper factory here?

After watching the brawl on TV I take it to mean cheap shots at your opponent when you get dissed. In that way you gain back the respect you mistakenly thought you had in the first place. Or it could be a new IT term college players use when they’re boarding the bus. “Take it away Joe, everybody’s zipped up.” So the coach had them take off their jerseys because they did the zipper number.

Wow. Talk about getting dissed. And I must say, it’s interesting to see how language has evolved with many college athletes speaking, not French, but some mystical language known only to the scholar. Honestly, I’d like to see a little more imagination when it comes to disciplining the college athlete of today.

What about this innovative idea? Have them write on the board, “I will not say ‘them guys’ again” a thousand times. Oops, there’s that self-esteem thing again. This activity might affect confidence in the dribbling of the ball. Now that I think about it, I could have done a “zipper job” on a lot of people down through the years who failed to treat me like the grown man I was supposed to be but wasn’t.

Well, they got one thing correct. It does come down to respect. And I’ll bet you $1 most of these “grown men” will be back on the court in two weeks. Well, they’re only what we made them, are they not?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Anyone who’s been in the military knows what clean means. There are no degrees of clean. A thing is either clean or it’s not clean because… when you clean it, you own it.  And when you own something you take pride in what it is that you own. You watch it, you care for it, and you let no one abuse it or take it for granted.

It’s sort of like walking on the grass at a military installation or Georgia Military College. By not walking on the grass you show respect for that particular area or ground. One would never step on a grave or the grass at our National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia, out of respect for those whose remains are symbolic of the gift they gave to our country, their lives. Each American feels an ownership for Arlington and therefore treads respectfully when they visit.

This idea works for our schools as well when the importance of an education is instilled in our children. They in many ways, receive ownership of their school. From that point on the issue of clean becomes one of how clean, for that is how our schools will look. Can you imagine students showing up on their days off to plant and mow? It is possible and happens each year at schools where the students feel a sense of ownership. People will not desecrate that which they respect and own. One can travel the states and see clean schools and schools that are not clean. Do you wonder why? Hold on to your recliner…for it’s simple, something called pride in ownership. If you took fifty children, told them their school “belonged” to them and they were responsible for it being clean, dirty, nurturing, or a source of deprivation, what would they choose? Hopefully they would choose the obvious.

Years ago my wife used to say to our daughter, “books are our friends”. Oh, how that child would protect her books, read them, place them carefully on a shelf or mantle, talk about them. “Books are our friends”, my wife would say. And from that simple phrase, Whitney assumed ownership of her books and cared for them as she would a pet. Today she is a librarian who believes the students at GMC can find a “friend” in a book. Sadly, reading a book and learning is not seen as a friendly activity to many of our children. So, what happened?

Well, we failed to show those in school that reading a book was better than watching a movie or playing a video game. We didn’t sell it…you might say. And… our schools became places on the outskirts of town, with little landscaping, metal detectors and “just the basics”, not objects of admiration and affection. For those little ones still at home and searching for a “friend”… there was always a television. So what’s ol’ Newt talking about when he recommends that our children be given the opportunity to help keep their school clean? Simply, he’s trying to get folks to see that ownership in a school helps students see the importance of education and cleaning a bathroom, mopping a hall or taking out the trash, gives them ownership. 

Unfortunately for many public school children there will be many reasons given why they will not be allowed to take ownership of their schools. Among these are; The children we have been busy not raising will refuse to work.The bathroom is a dangerous place. “My child, not on your life!” It’s beneath our children’s’ dignity to clean up after themselves. “I don’t know nothing bout cleanin no bathroom” “That’s the janitor’s job.” means a great deal.