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May 31, 2009

A Missing Chapter from The Notebook…

Filed under: Just life — sbj @ 9:57 pm

My Dearest Allie,

 

I have been saving this letter for a day when you are able to recognize me early so that we might have a little extra time for me to share it.  I know you will not remember it beyond this afternoon, and most of my friends have implored me not to read it to you, but I feel I must.  It is not a portion of our story that you included in your notebook, and it is not a portion of our story that either of us treasure.  However it is part of the story of us – it is the part of the story where I let you down.

 

It is very easy to allow your notebook to do all of the talking, and receive the credit for being a wonderful husband and enduring soul mate. But I am human as well, and it is also important, in my opinion, that you know that I am up to the task of admitting it.  In fact, that’s really the crux of the story I must share with you…

 

When you first became ill, I did not handle it well.  Instead of supporting you with patience and love, I showered you with frustration and anger.  I tried to fight your disease as though it was bad behavior, rather than something affecting you outside of your control.

 

Twice before, we have nearly lost each other. Never, has it been your fault.  Rather, my ego, my selfishness, and my intolerance (the alter-ego of my much ballyhooed patience) conspired to attempt to destroy what we had.  

 

You see, I could not stand not being the center of your world; nor would my pride allow me to admit this was true.  I had grown to live for you screaming my name when I entered the door, running to greet me, and doting on me as if I had hung the moon.  It began to define me and validate me; and when it faded – through no fault of your own – I began to fade as well.

 

Allie, I was not born the man who comes here every day, and reads to you, and waits for you. I was not born the man who gets you back for a moment only to have you ripped from me again; and yet returns again, day after day.  I had to learn to be that man.  A lesson you showed me, by example, years earlier; but I didn’t take the time to learn until it was nearly too late.

 

You were patient with me.  You weathered my confusion and scorn when you didn’t recognize me – or didn’t remember some insignificant detail that I had determined was of crucial import – and I couldn’t understand why.  When I crawled into a shell because I thought you were rejecting me, you cajoled me back out… even though you were feeling the same rejection from my actions.

 

You saved us, Allie, over and over again you saved us – and in doing so – taught me how to be the man I am today.

 

Everyday I read to you, and some days you recognize me.  When you do, you again and again tell me (with and without words) how wonderful you think I am.  You fall in love with me right before my eyes, and you give me credit for making it happen.

 

But it’s not me that deserves the credit, it is you; and in this moment – while you are here looking at me, understanding who I am, and who we are – I also want to say thank you.  My life would be meaningless and empty if not for you.  You are the hero of this story; a story that would not exist if not for your remarkable perseverance.

 

Thank you Allie, for saving me and for saving us.

 

Your Noah

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: This is, of course, based on the story.  As such, it requires Allie to have the disease.  However, in real life there is often no disease, simply someone who fails and is bailed out by another who picks up the ball for them.  Thank you, Allie, for comng to my rescue so many times over the years.  I am sorry that I fumbled one to many times before I became the man I needed to be…

May 30, 2009

A long walk

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 7:25 am

I walk, surrounded by people who have done more, experienced more, and lived more than I (only they cannot share any of it because they are dead). At the same time I walk surrounded by those who have done less, experienced less and lived less than I (only I cannot share any of it because they are dead). Usually I am unaffected by all of this, because I am pre-occupied. Tonight, however, I take it all in. Every headstone has new meaning, because instead of being the backdrop to a story in “our” lives, it is a feature in this story of mine.

I walk, escorted by a menacingly peaceful body of water. It has witnessed fear and panic, it has witnessed joy and elation. Tonight, however, it bears witness to nothing because I am vacant, instead of providing this constantly flowing tributary entertainment, I search its depth for meaning and enlightenment, because instead of being a protagonist (or bystander) to a story of “our” lives, it is a vague but compelling comfort to mine.

I walk, down a street once populated by leaves, dying to be kicked, now populated, it appears by parked cars and the oil stains left behind by their brethren. Where once I thought only of the future, interrupted by laughter and warmth, I now find only the stark present, the reality of waste and fragility; because instead of being an avenue of hope and dreams to a story of “our” lives, it is a simple, meaningless corridor through mine.

I walk, through garages and allies and schools and offices; by rivers and houses and parks and nightclubs; around trees and golf courses and balconies and theaters. These used to ignite a fire in me, and, honestly, they still do, but it doesn’t matter; because instead of being the foundation of the story of the rest of “our” lives, they are the earth shattering memories of mine.

I walk… away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

or, if you prefer… a look at how it was…

May 29, 2009

Contest Winners!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 9:39 pm

Okay, honestly it wasn’t much of a contest (at least the prize wasn’t), however… without further delay, here they are… the amazing, spectacular, remarkable and otherwise gifted providers of teh correct answer to the origin of the title of yesterdays post.

First up, Jen: http://zengoddessjen.wordpress.com/

Second up, Angeles: http://devylgyrl.com/

Third… well, there is no third… either it was a really tricky question or I have no real followers (I’m opting for options #1 ;) )

Check out and enjoy their blogs… more later… Peace!!

Ps the answer, of course, was Swimming with Sharks :)

May 28, 2009

Would you like that in a loafer or a pump

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 11:26 pm

If I told you that you sent or received around 2400 text messages a month, what would you say? How about 80/day? Would you buy 3 an hour? All of those numbers work out to be the same, for those of you not playing math games as you read. For some reason 2400/month seems ridiculous while 3/hr seems a bit more realistic (at least until you factor sleep and other unavailable time into it).

You may or may not text that much, I actually text at about one third of that rate (I checked my bills, and was still shocked that I had over 800 text messages in each of the past three months), but if you have an “average” teen, they do according to the latest information available.

When you eliminate sleeping and eating (we’ll call that 8 hours) and school (we’ll call that 7) and showering (we’ll call that 1 – if you have kids like mine, that is rounding down!!) it looks more like well over 10 text messages/hr. Further, that is the average, which mean there are many that text considerably more than that.

What I wonder about is originality, imagination, and individuality. I know that my best – most creative – times are either when I am alone and just thinking, or when I am reading (don’t even get me started about how you read with a cell phone going off every 6 minutes). Without blocks of alone time, where do kids these days sharpen their creativity?

Not long ago I was in a public restroom, standing, and the young man (16 perhaps?) next to me was texting while he was relieving. I’m not saying this to be crass or disgusting and it is admittedly TMI, however I believe there is a point to be made here. If you feel so compelled to respond to a text message that you cannot wait until THAT process is complete, are you really going to wait until you finish a complicated creative thought?

What happens when being inspiration, ingenuity, and innovation when we are “out of the habit” of being imaginative? It is my belief that, like any intellectually acquired skill, creativity requires practice and mastery. My fear is that what our children are mastering, on a day to day basis, are customer service and data entry skills. Perfect, I suppose, if they want to spend their lives asking people if they’d like some fries to go with that shake…

——

Bonus!!! if you can tell me where the title of this post comes from (via comment, tweet (with a reference to the post) or email I will “reward” you by including you in a celebratory post tomorrow which will include links to the blogs of everyone who got it right.  A little blog link love never hurt, right????

Live long, and prosper.

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 7:25 pm

Yesterday I was exposed to one individual’s plight as a result of the bankruptcy of Chrysler. The individual, George C. Joseph, wrote a letter pleading his case and asking how this could happen in America.

I had two immediate reactions; 1. This is tragic and unfair, and 2. America is the most fertile soil for this sort of thing in the world.

The United States – on paper – is a live by the sword die by the sword, dog eat dog, survival of the fittest society, at least that is what our capitalistic free market supporters and leaders will tell us (provided AIG, United Airlines, or GM are not about to fold up, of course).

You cannot have it both ways, a society that supports every citizen’s ability to become as rich as their fortitude and/or fortune can carry them, must also allow for them to fail as miserably as their failings and/or mis-fortunes demand. You cannot allow for infinite success and still protect against ultimate failure in any sustainable system; and Mr. Joseph, along with hundreds of other Chrysler dealers, are getting smacked with the business end of this reality on June 9th.

For Chrysler to stay in business, and receive bankruptcy protection, they have to take drastic and definitive action. The streamlining of their delivery channel is a key component in this restructuring. It sucks, and is unfair, but it is how business is done in these United States. It is what enables the American dream… like it or not. If you want to regulate failure (or fortune) then you must also regulate success, and I don’t see any of the dealer apologists being willing to accept that kind of socialistic control.

And so, we need to accept these horrid realities; the same way my parents had to accept that 30 years of retirement savings went away in the blink of an eye when the airline they had worked for their entire lives filed for bankruptcy after 9/11. It sucked, it was unfair, but it was reality.

In my parents case, thousands of jobs (including their own) as well as a large part of the nations transportation infrastructure was on the line. As such the airlines did what it needed to do to survive, and my parents paid – and continue to pay – the price.

Estimates from The Center for Automotive Research indicate that a quick and efficient bankruptcy proceeding (say 3 months in length) for GM and Chrysler (which is exactly what Chrysler is doing) would result in the loss of roughly 240,000 jobs. That sounds bad, however figures for prolonged bankruptcy proceedings exceed 1.3 million job losses by the end of 2009. That would be just the beginning says Mark Zandi, an adviser to Washington policymakers “…GM would go into bankruptcy and not come out …there would be wide-ranging negative impacts across the economy.”

To put it in terms the general public might find easier to grasp, the nearly 800 Chrysler dealerships being – for all intents and purposes – closed on June 9th are Spock, locked in that room with the radiation. He is dead either way, but, through his sacrifice the remaining crew members (dealers, manufacturers, and others along the automotive supply line) will have a chance to live. “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few.”

It sucked for Spock, it sucked for my parents, and it sucks for Mr Joseph (et. al.). I really wish there was a better way, my liberal, protectionist roots scream for a bail out, or a “hand up” or… well… something. However it is what it is; business… American style, and its not going to change anytime soon.

So, George Joseph, I’m going to treat you like a fallen soldier, and thank you for the service you have given to your economy. Your sacrifice and loss will never be fully understood by many, even those –like myself – who salute you for it; however, at least in my corner, it is both recognized and appreciated.

May 26, 2009

Consequences… intended or not…

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 6:56 pm

Today, in California, the state supreme court upheld Prop 8 (the ban on same-sex marriage) and elated its proponents. Of course, in the same action they infuriated its opponents, and earned criticism for apparently reversing their ground and leaving out in the cold those who they seemed to protect just a short year ago. In my opinion both groups I just mentioned are in for a surprise, and I – of all people – endorse what happened today.

I could be wrong, and I’ll be eating a lot of crow (and perhaps a few knuckle sandwiches from some friends as well) if I am wrong, but here is what I see having transpired:

The voters voted and for all intents and purposes tied the hands of the courts. Remember that the job of the Supreme Court is not to decide on an issue, but rather on its constitutionality. This from Chief Justice George’s Decision:

“our task in the present proceeding is not to determine whether the provision at issue is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals, believe it should be a part of the California Constitution.”

and

“our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.”

When the voters passed prop 8, the decision of the Supreme Court was essentially made for them.

However…

Today in upholding prop 8 – again, something they had no real choice in doing – the Court also did a couple of other things.

First of all, they preserved all of the marriages that took place between their previous ruling and this one. That may seem like just throwing a dog a bone, but remember law is all about principle precedent

Secondly the Court cleared a path to legal Civil Unions (clip from The New York Times):

Justice George wrote that Proposition 8 did not “entirely repeal or abrogate” the right to such a protected relationship, but argued that it “carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term ‘marriage’ for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law.”

In other words, the Court paved the way for an environment where the only “defense” of marriage is one of semantics.

To be candid, I think what happened today will, ultimately, be more effective and beneficial to the rights and equality of same-sex couples than what has occurred in some of the states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

I do not mean that dispariagingly against those states that have, it is the right path to take and I salute them for doing so. However, there are several states that are decades away from being able to consider same-sex marriage, and what happened in California today may actually benefit people in need in those states.

Today California set precedent for Civil Unions and equal rights (without actually granting them, as that is not within the purview of the Supreme Court). Actionable precedents that can be used in the immediate future, not just in California, but in other states and perhaps even nationally.

I loathe prop 8 and all that it stands for; however, after today, I am left with the feeling that it was a necessary evil, and at the same time the first step in the right direction on a very large scale.

The California Supreme Court gave me that hope today. So, while everyone else (on the same-sex equal rights side of the equation) seems to be railing against them, I stand in support… even if it does wind up resulting in me eating a couple knuckle sandwiches from my friends.

May 21, 2009

Who can’t handle the truth?

Filed under: Observations,obama — sbj @ 6:42 pm

I just finished reading the full text of Cheney’s speech today on torture and national security (I have not had the chance to read Obama’s… that’s next). My instant response was “Jack Nicholson already gave this speech – and much more convincingly – in the movie A Few Good Men. See it here for yourself:

The problem with these stirring – and candidly, emotionally effective – words is that they are based on the false premise that an U.S. citizens life and safety is greater in some way than the lives and safety of other people based on where they had the good or bad fortune to be born. This is a false justification that I cannot and will not abide by.

If my 85 pound son came home from school battered by the 165 pound bully, I could eliminate the problem by sending my son to school with a baseball bat and instructions to pound the “bully” out of the other child. I assure you, my son would not come home battered and beaten (he broke my nose with a bat, I think he can handle a 165 pound bully). I can also assure you he would not come home a better or safer person. Things are not suddenly “okay” because the larger boy is being beaten up now instead of the smaller one. There is still wanton violence; it is just going in a different direction. In fact the only real difference is that now, my son and I have willingly relinquished our high moral ground.

By attacking the people we believe – or perhaps I should say allege – are responsible for 9/11, and other potential future attacks, we have successfully put them on the defensive. They are being beaten by the bat and therefore cannot bully us. The same can be said for torturing them to obtain information about said attacks. However – as common sense dictates – they are not broken, their intent and resolve remain intact and, if anything, are probably steeled and emboldened by this onslaught.

In the end, what we will have done is traded our character for a transient and temporary safety that will evaporate as soon as our offensive incursion ends (Cheney says as much himself “… therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever…”). And therein lies my concern. Not with the security, mind you, but with the destruction of a character that I have always believed in.

When I was young I said the pledge of allegiance based on my belief that this was a great country. Great because we were the good guys, we did the right things, no matter the personal cost or sacrifice. I teach my children to do the right thing, even if it will be painful or costly for them. Simply put, personal integrity outweighs personal good. I tell them that at the end of the day, the only person they have to face in the mirror is themselves; and I ask them how their actions are going to reflect in those eyes.

How can I effectively teach them this lesson, which I believe to be a core quality of character indicator, when our former vice-president is extolling the virtues of “do unto other before they do unto you” diplomacy? I don’t really have an answer to that right now, but here is what I do know…

If my son ever does come home beat up by a bully, and much as I love and want to protect him, what I’m going to send him back to school with is advice, not a baseball bat. It’s not what Vice President Cheney would do, but on this one he and I are just going to have to agree to disagree…

May 20, 2009

Priorities

Filed under: Cool stuff,Just life,Observations — sbj @ 5:24 pm

Phil Mickelson is not my favorite golfer (not even close really). However, he has done a few things in his lifetime that put him on my list of pretty damn cool people. Today, he did it again.

At the top of his game and peak of his career, he has suspended it indefinitely to be with his wife while she begins – and hopefully successfully ends – her bout with breast cancer. Mickelson has always put his family first, including wearing a pager on the final round of a major tournament and having plans in place to leave, even if he was in contention, if his wife went into labor.

Todays news is not surprising in the least, which is probably the best part of it. It is exactly what I would expect of Phil Mickelson, and I can’t think of a better way to compliment him than to say exactly that.

You have set a good standard sir, keep up the good work.

As for Amy, my prayers and best wishes go out to you…

May 19, 2009

Book ‘em Danno!!

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 10:19 pm

There are those of you who are not going to like this… at all. It is going to appear insensitive, sheltered and idealistic. In reality, it might be all of those things, however it is how I view the situation.

Megan Meier committed suicide in October 2006. Lori Drew has, for the past 2.5 years, been blamed in the court of public opinion for her death. By contrast the court of California has not blamed her for the death, but rather for digital breaking and entering and other lesser crimes. She is due to get sentenced today; the maximum of which is three years, and there are those in the states legal system (probation department) that are pushing for far lighter sentences.

The parents of the 13 year old, of course, are pushing for jail time. Her father was quoted as saying “I truly believe that prisons were made for Lori Drew.” And this is where I fall off whatever wagon I may have been on in the first place.

I do not condone, in fact I condemn, the actions of Drew. I feel she should be tried, convicted and sentenced for the computer crimes, for predatory behavior, and for cyber bullying of a minor. However, for whatever reason the Jury did not feel that she intentionally caused mental harm and they have seen considerably more evidence than I have.

Typically, people – even teens – in a healthy loving communicative environment do not kill themselves. Parents these days are passive at best in their craft, and it is – at least in this case – contributing to the death of those whose lives they themselves have created. Often teen suicides are pre-existing conditions (i.e. manifestations of an insufficient home life) that are just waiting for the fight spark to ignite.

That’s right, I said it.

My son has a myspace account. I know who his friends are, and I know what they talk about online. I have his account information, but have yet to need to use it as he shares the content of his account on his own (if he didn’t, you better believe I’d be in there from time to time making sure there are no predators taking advantage of his not-yet-fully mature mind).

Parenting is a serious business. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not understand the licensing process for being able to drive, and the permissive allowances for the single most important thing a person can do in life, raising a child.

The lesson to be learned from this story is as much about offline home life as it is about online predatory behavior. I just hope people are getting both elements of the message. Most suicides don’t have a Lori Drew to “pin the tail” upon, and as such don’t make the news. Yet those deaths are every bit as real and tragic.

Parents, talk to you children. Because if you don’t, the Lori Drew’s of the world – and worse – will.

May 18, 2009

… by any other name…

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 3:14 pm

Eleven months ago I wrote one of most impassioned blogs to date. Nearly a year later, I find myself inclined to write on the same topic again. NPR ran a story (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104185289&sc=fb&cc=fp) regarding the cost of non-marriage for same sex couples which struck a chord with me.

Once again, I am overwhelmed with feelings of frustration over what I see and an injustice being carried out because of bigotry.

Candidly, I don’t care if a single same-sex couple ever gets “married.” In fact, I would find myself surprised if a majority of people who find themselves pondering a lifetime together with someone of the same sex really wanted to be “married” and attached to such an antiquated and hierarchical institution. Especially since that institution today is (quite literally) a coin flip with regards to the odds of success.

However, what I do care about, is the notion that people are treated fairly under the laws of our society, and that is not the case with same-sex couples. A few examples from the NPR piece:

- One couple pays $1820 more per year in insurance, for no reason other than lack of federal recognition of their coupling.

- Another is denied $1611 per month in social security survivor benefits for the same reason (after a 30 year relationship).

- Another couple has paid nearly $20000 in extra taxes since 2004 because they cannot file jointly 32 year relationship).

In none of these examples is the sanctity of marriage being protected, rather, a specific group of people is being exploited, discriminated against, and taxed for a life choice. I – and as I suggested above, probably most of “them” – would be fine with not attaching the word marriage to these relationships.

However, the law – as it applies to taxes, survivorship, etc. – should be equally applied to every citizen of this country. Call it civil union, call it matri-phoney, call it boogie wonderland, I don’t really care, but please… fix this inequity that makes us (or at least should make us) the laughing stock of open minded civil human beings everywhere.

Ps… no, I am not suggesting nor do I condone any sort of mocking moniker that would be apt to further stereotypes; my point simply is that while the nomenclature is nearly irrelevant, the need for parity is not.

May 15, 2009

V is for Victory!!

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 5:15 pm

I suspect, if you were to talk to 50 people about what it means to succeed in life, you may get nearly as many answers. There might be a bit of a grouping around financial security, having a healthy and happy family and a few other categories of the sort. However, I suspect when you got down to the detail level, especially if you specifically state the definition is to be a function of that person, very few people would have the same answer.

I, of course, love the notion of financial security, and my highest priority is certainly providing a safe, happy, and healthy home for my family. However, another key aspect for me has to do with mind set, and not letting go of some of the key tenants of youth.

I am (nearly)43 years old, and I still believe in the infinite possibilities before me. I still believe that I can make just about anything I want out of this life I’ve been blessed with. I’ve gained enough experience to know that no particular future will just present itself to me, that it will take dedicated effort – and perhaps a little luck – to make It happen; however, it is still possible.

While some things tend to take themselves off the table with age (becoming a world class athlete becomes more and more difficult with each passing year); to conjure the old phrase goes, as each door closes another opens in its place. Bolstered by experience I can do things now that I could never have even imagined doing in my youth.

This year, I am attempting to reinvent my employment. By the end of the year my objective is to garner a third of my income from writing. It may or may not happen, but it is indisputably possible. And that is the point, there are infinite possibilities in front of me.

This year, I intend to make a documentary movie. This is not designed to be a revenue generating project (although I will not complain if it turns out to be one). The purpose of this movie is to attempt to send an encouraging and empowering message to U.S. teens about how fortunate they are to be living the lives they have been blessed with. Both the movie and the message may or may not happen, but they are indisputably possible. And that is the point, there are infinite possibilities in front of me.

When I look at my life, while I recognize the areas that it has not been everything it could be, I cannot help but acknowledge that, with regard to one of my key barometers for success, I am still getting the job done. I still believe in infinite possibilities, I still believe the future is mine to make, and as long as I do how could life be viewed as anything else but a smashing success?

May 14, 2009

My opinion differs from the geltleman from New York…

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 1:57 pm

With all due respect, I think I must disagree with something one of my friends said yesterday. I’m going to start by saying that this is a man who’s opinions and thoughts I respect and have learned from in the year or so that I have known him. As such, it is entirely possible I will continue to do so as a result of this post (i.e. I may be wrong).

But for now I must disagree. Here is the post:

Once again, Obama disappoints: he is now fighting the ACLU’s attempt to have photographs of torture and abuse of detainees released. So much for transparency. The Pentagon’s desire to keep their misbehavior under wraps seems to have won out.

I understand the desire for transparency, especially coming off the Bush years. I have clamored for it as well. In the wake of the “trust us, we are doing the right thing” régime, when nothing that was done appears to have actually been the right thing; questioning authority should, in fact, be at an all time high (when your biggest success is “The Surge” in which you managed to gain an upper hand in a battle you never should have been fighting in the first place, you have admittedly blown the “trust us” thing completely).

I understand the ACLU’s position as well, especially given that just days ago, they were under the impression they were going to get the evidence they needed to make a more compelling emotional case regarding this issue.

I also call BS (as loud as I can possibly call it) on the notion we are not showing the pictures in an effort to maintain the safety of our troops. I tell people our President is smart, and this contradicts me mightily. I do not believe there will be a significant, measurable difference in how out POWs are treated, pictures or no. Again, the facts are out there, if we were really going to prioritize safety in the form of repercussions, we shouldn’t have released the memo’s in the first place.

However…

The factual record is complete. There is no doubt remaining that under the Bush administration there were violations of what most of America, and certainly the current administration, find to be acceptable wartime practices. Making an additional appeal to emotion for the sake of underlining the point, in my opinion, is simply counterproductive.

For the same reason I don’t need to see the bloody carnage of a particularly horrific automobile accident (or watch a UFC match – you had to know that was coming), I don’t need to see visuals of atrocities. There is value in admitting you have done something wrong and fixing it, not so much in making a spectacle of it; and at some point people need to move beyond rubbernecking and on to solutions.

From my perspective, this is what the Obama administration is doing. The only area in which I feel let down is that they have chosen to politically sugar coat it and playing the “safety of the troops” card. That, I could do without.

May 13, 2009

Who’s lives are we saving anyway, and why?

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 10:32 pm

I heard last night that by lowering ourselves to a standard we would go to war to eliminate, we saved thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of lives. The speaker, of course, did not use exactly those words, but isn’t that what we’re really talking about. Didn’t we go to war against Hitler, and Saddam (the first time), and the Taliban – at least in part – in the name of freedom and as a statement against oppression. I mean, that couldn’t have been lip service simply meant to bring more people onboard a war of greed or convenience, right?

So, of course we fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Of course we fight to eliminate tyranny and injustice. Of course we fight to prevent humanitarian miscarriages of justice. It’s the American way, liberty and justice for all.

Plus, we all know what would happen if the bad guys were to capture a few of our boys and girls and torture them for information. We, as a nation, would be incensed. There would be outrage, calls for retribution or, at the very least, war crimes trials. Bottom line, we don’t want people treating our children that way, so we agree not to treat their children that way.

And since we all know two wrongs don’t make a right, even if the bad guys do it, we are simply not going to stoop to that level. We are going to take and hold the high moral ground and do the right thing, even when it’s not the easiest thing to do.

You’re with me on this, right? Or is it just me?

All sarcasm and mockery aside, as I’ve said before, we are supposed to be the good guys. We are supposed to be “above” behaving badly. The “more perfect union” we the people hoped to form was not, in my opinion, one that follows the lead of bad people taking bad actions, but rather one that stands apart as an example of how things can be.

Torturing those prisoners may or may not have saved thousands of lives, but is that worth the cost of abandoning what those lives themselves stand for, defend and hold sacred? If you can say yes to that question, I think you just might be living under the wrong flag (that, or I am).

May 5, 2009

A word or two about… words…

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 5:06 pm

Some words (and phrases) are meant to be lived/experienced/felt not said. They do not belong to the main stream, to you and to me, but rather to those that have experienced the type of life that brought them forth. When other people, without the “benefit” of the life surrounding the terms use them, they just sound hollow or disingenuous (at best, as often as not they come off as mocking or worse).

I am not limiting this conversation to things like Ebonics, although it no doubt applies there. I could not hope to count the number of times I have heard strangers, friends and even my son say things of which they clearly have no concept of the real contextual meaning.

I was reading the paper the other day and the columnist constantly referred to people who use Twitter as Tweeple. It s a real term, people who use twitter a lot use it (not all of us – I never have – but many do). However, it’s not a term that one (if they are really in the “twitterverse”) throws around so lightly because, to a degree, it defines the person who uses it. When you interact with someone who says that on twitter, you know a few things about them; when you read it in the paper, you know nothing more than that the author overheard a conversation and grabbed a term they heard in that interaction. You also know they have very little knowledge of how the term is used and why or who would actually use it in practice.

What bothers me the most about this, is that I probably do it as well, without having the first clue that I’m doing it. Perhaps I read a newspaper article, and bonded with a term, perhaps I hear someone talking and think I understand what they are saying… but, ultimately do not. By co-opting and propagating what has significant meaning in its original context I wind up stripping it of its substance and depth, which, to me, is a little sad.

So, to all you valley girls out there, I’m sorry if I gagged myself with your spoon (although it’s kind of your fault for singing about it)… I’d give it back to you… but… that’d be like… groody to the max!!!

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