Life’s Playlist…. Stand Tall by Burton Cummings

Day 20 of the Jeff Goins – 500 Words, 31 Days Writing Challenge…. Write about Justice.

Dr. Seuss put it succinctly, Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

I often ponder on how we as a society have gotten to the point we are.  It seems as though our compassion for our fellow-man often falls behind political debate and the party lines that used to help us find compromise, today only hardens our convictions.

At what point did we get to the strident beliefs that our fellow-man is not of value, when did we get to the point where we believed that our convictions are move important than that of our neighbor and at what point did we decided it is going to be “my way, or no way?”

Day after day we see the debates that confront us all, divide us.  I once heard a pastor say, if we would concentrate on the 90% that we agree on, the other 10% could fall into place.

I’m not Pollyanna enough to believe that we will ever come to a point where we all agree on everything, our differences are what has made us great as a nation.  But those differences used to be celebrated, today the division that is created threatens our society in ways that outside threats cannot.

As American’s we are good at coming together when life’s challenges threaten us.  We help our fellow-man when floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tragedy strikes, but within days we let our differences harden our actions and go back to the win at all costs mentality that has gotten us to where we are.

Here are a few truths that I stand by with conviction and resolve:

  • We are stronger together than we are separately.
  • America is the greatest nation ever to grace the planet.
  • Only America can destroy America.
  • We are all Americans, there is no place in America for hyphenated Americans.
  • I am not guilty for the sins of my forefathers, nor is your life affected by those same sins.
  • We have all had leaders we didn’t vote for, however those same leaders were elected and the OFFICE they represent always deserves respect.
  • If my leaders lie to me once, they will lie again and again.
  • America is a guiding light, we have our problems, but together there is nothing we cannot overcome.
  • Leaders must hold a higher standard morally and ethically and their actions must always represent that higher calling.

I believe in the melting pot of America that has served us well for over 200 years, we have our problems, but we are a resilient nation.  The only way to cure the ills that affect us today and into our future is to start acting like Americans.

I fear, for many of us, the standards we were built upon have been forgotten.  You are entitled to help when you need it, you aren’t entitled to anything if you don’t give 100% towards the betterment of our society.

Unless your Ancestry.com report says you are 100% native American, you and your ancestors were immigrants.  Immigrants built this nation and walls, fences and waters should never keep them out.  However, immigrants must assimilate to our nation’s ideals and cultures, and you must follow the rules to be here.

No one is entitled to be an American and if you don’t like the way our nation is headed, then change it, lawfully with ideals that can help make us stronger, not tear us apart.

I pray for our nation and hope that we will once again start acting like Americans, the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Whether you are black, white, straight, gay, old, young or any other subset of the American dream, it is your responsibility to help move us forward in ways that honor the forefathers who built this shining city on a hill.

Life’s Playlist… One Voice performed by The Georgia Boys Choir

When my pen touches the paper, the magic that happens is beyond my wildest dreams.

The figures that I have created for over fifty years have made me famous beyond my imagination and allowed me to bring the simplistic voice of a child to the world’s forefront.

It is hard for me to believe that a simple idea so many years ago would become something that the world identifies with.  From a simple newspaper feature, my cartoons have become television shows, movies, stuffed animals, books, characters in theme parks, on every street Halloween night and even traveling ice shows.  These characters that formed in my mind and came to life on paper have allowed me to express a viewpoint to the world.

I’m no great artist, I know that, but what I am is a man who is able to express an opinion through the eyes of a clumsy young boy who relates more to his dog than he does his friends.

This boy, his dog and group of misfit friends have given me wealth and fame, but more than that, they have taught me the joys of a simple message, a message that is quoted and shared by parents with their children and children with their children; they have allowed me to share my views with a world that more often than not just needs a little joy with their morning paper.

When my characters were given a voice and color was added to their world, they came to life and now just the sound of a childlike voice takes my fans to a place where everything is made possible in just a few frames of newsprint.

I started sharing my drawn family with the world in 1950, it was a much simpler time then and as the world has changed, my kids have stayed the same.

Although they are now fifty years old, they haven’t aged a day, they are still the same rotund group of feitsy, nerdy, hard to understand, shy, lyrical, gullible characters they were the day they debuted to the world.

If I had known the world was going to fall in love with them, I may have changed some things, but as I look back on it now, I know they are perfect in all their imperfections.

I love these kids like they are my own family, because if I am truthful, they have become members of my family.  Like those who take time to visit with them every day, you can find members of your own family and situations from your own life in the lives of these kids who visit you.

Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, Sally, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock, Snoopy and Charlie Brown have become cultural icons because of their single focus of bringing good to the world.

On this date in 2000, the last original “Peanuts” comic appeared in your newspapers bringing to an end the stories of these kids who made my life so special.  That last original comic, was brought to you the day after I passed away at the age of 77.

I am Charles M. Schulz and I am the cartoonist who brought you Peanuts.  I am also the “voice” of today’s Jeff Goins, 500 Word Challenge your author chose to use in his assignment “write in someone else’s voice.”

 

 

Life’s Playlist… Bugler’s Dream by John Williams

Today is my Day 17 of the Jeff Goins — 31 Day, 500 Word Writing Challenge.

The assignment for today is to “make a point and fight for it.”

Every two years the Olympics roll around, on a rotating basis we skip between the summer and winter Games.

The Olympics have always been one of those pivotal times in life where I stop what I am doing and invest in the days of worldwide competition.

I contend that the Olympic movement should be the governance for our planet.

As the Winter Olympic Games get underway this weekend in PyeongChang, South Korea, I challenge you to consider the possibilities.

Years in advance of the Games taking place in a City, multiple communities around the world compete for the opportunity to be named the host city.

Selections are made for the hosts by who provides the best presentation, offers the world the best “meeting place,” and can provide the infrastructure and support to welcome the athletes of the world into their backyard.

You don’t hear back-biting from the cities that lost, sure there is disappointment, but in the spirit of Olympism the communities celebrate the newly selected host and work harder in the next opportunity to score their chance at victory.

Where I think our world leadership could learn the most from the Olympic movement is on the field of competition.

When the athletes of the world gather together on the field of competition, they do their best to succeed.  You rarely see poor sportsmanship or fights.  They work hard for victory and when a competition is over, the participants shake hands and celebrate the victor.

In the world we live in, where leaders no longer lead, and we are so dug-in to our own philosophy and mind-set, isn’t it refreshing to see the youth of the world gather, compete and accept the outcome.

Certainly there are those who try to skirt the rules to give themselves an advantage.  Some get by with it, but most often, the Olympic movement uncovers those who don’t play by the rules and handle those who cheat by singling them out, expelling them and handling the issues with dignity.

Finally, the Olympics are all about excellence.  Everyone who qualifies through hard-work and dedication to their chosen endeavor are allowed to participate.  However, everyone is not entitled a win.  In the Olympic Games, there are no participation trophies, there are winners and others who compete.

I think if we found the world operating more like the Olympic Games we would find the world a better place to live.  People doing their best, competing fairly for the opportunity at victory and being awarded the top prize by being superior to the competition.

As you enjoy the Games of the Winter Olympics over the next days, imagine what the world would be like if these were the ideals of the governments, leaders and people of our world.  It could provide a way towards a much-needed acceptance, honor and celebration of what is possible, the joy of competition and the flame that would light a brighter future for us all.

 

Life’s Playlist… God Bless the Child performed by Vivian Reed

Day 7 – My 500 Words Challenge by Jeff Goins.

Write a letter to my children or my younger self.

On the surface it appears this should be a simple assignment for me, since I have no kids and at 53 that doesn’t look like it will change. Logically I should write to my younger self.  However, logic isn’t something I always follow, with that said, I write to the children I will never have and only dream of having.

Dear Child of My Dreams,

First and foremost know I love you, or I should say, I love the thought of you.  I would always have loved you and there is nothing that you could have ever done that would change that fact.

You would be my greatest gift from God and I know I would have been humbled that he allowed me to be your parent.  I was blessed to have amazing parents and I would only hope that I could be half as good as they were.

I never doubted my parents love and if I did nothing else right, I would want you to never doubt mine either.

If I were lucky enough to have been a parent, I would have told you that there are a few things you should know.  I would stress to you that you can be anything in this world you want to be, the sky is the limit and dreams are meant to be followed.  You should never let anyone devalue your dreams or think you can’t do something, you can, you just have to set your mind to it and make it happen.

When I was younger I had dreams that I didn’t express out of fear, I hope you would never do that.  Unfulfilled dreams or adhering to the life you think someone else wants for you will never get you to where you truly want to be.  I have regrets about not expressing my own dreams and would never want you to fall into that place, GO FOR IT!

I would tell you, if a dream feels far-fetched voice it, we would find a way to make it happen, together, as a family.  Nothing is impossible!

As wonderful as dreams are, I would also stress that, you have to know there are responsibilities that go along with those dreams.  Work hard, study, and never give up.

When I was a child, there was one rule in our house, it would apply to you too.  My father always instilled in me to “never do anything that would embarrass my mama,” we would revise that a bit and say never do anything that will embarrass your family.

For me I would want you to understand that it is important that as a family, we hold this cornerstone of responsibility, I would stress that you need to be a good citizen, you should care for and take care of others and you should always think of your family when making decisions, it helps you stay on the straight and narrow.

I think the greatest gifts you can give a child is to know if they are loved, dream big and honor family there aren’t a lot of things that can go wrong.  However, I would also stress that life isn’t always fair and things happen.  Things will go wrong, the child I can only dream of would sometimes fall short, they would face disappointment and heartbreak, unfortunately that is part of life.

What I would tell my child is that I would walk beside them through difficulties.  I would hold their hand and I would be a shoulder they could cry on.  I would stress to my child that I am available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every second of every day, no one is more important than you are.

From the day they were born I would make sure my child knew that their name is inscribed on my heart and I will always be your number one cheerleader.  No problem is too big or too small to bring to me and when asked, I will be honest with you and give my opinion; however if you choose a different path, I will respect your decisions.

For the child I can only dream of I would let them know, God has given you to me for a finite amount of time.  I want to make every moment of your life wonderful, I know I can’t do that, but what I can do is love you today, tomorrow and forever.  My child would know that I prayed for you before you ever arrived and will continue to pray for you until my last breath.

Finally, I would want my child to know and understand, you are the legacy I will leave to this world, just as I was for my parents.  Live big, live bold and just be YOU, there is nothing greater and I would expect nothing less.

If only I could say for real, I love you to infinity and am proud to call you my child.

Love,

Dad, to the child of my dreams

 

Life’s Playlist… Hero by Mariah Carey

Day 6 of the 500 Word Challenge by Jeff Goins….. tell someone else’s story.

She watched her 11-year-old son, riddled with cancer, die a painful and grueling death.

I fist met her when a news report was featured on the local news channel in West Palm Beach, FL where I was living at the time.

Her child had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The most brutal of all cancers, for a child to get the diagnosis was quite rare.

The news report told the story of a fund-raiser for the child that had been scheduled at his school.  Due to regulations, my friend had been informed two days before the event, that it would have to be cancelled.

The news unsettled me,  how this event had to be cancelled over stupid regulations added insult to injury for this family that had already seen far too many bad turns in their lives.

At the time, I was the Marketing Director for a local retail/entertainment center.  The story haunted me through the night and the next morning when I arrived at work, somehow I was able to locate the mom’s phone number and contacted her.

Within an hour she was in my office and we were planning the logistics to move the event to our center.

We hit it off right away, through the tragedy that she was enduring, we became friends.

The event came and went at our center, but our friendship sustained over time.  We kept in touch and she would give updates about her son’s condition.

About a year after our meeting, my friend’s son lost his battle with the disease.  He passed away in their family home.  His little body suffered and by the time he passed he was constantly in pain with his family suffering every moment with him.

During those painful months, my friend rode every roller-coaster of emotion imaginable never leaving her child’s side.  Since his passing she feels guilt, sorrow and a broken heart that will never mend.

Not long after her child’s death, my friend opened a retail store in the tiny town I served as a City Commissioner for.  The thrift and consignment store was opened as a charity to assist families of children suffering with cancer.

My friend had found a new mission, one that would honor her son and allow her to give back in ways that would help sustain other families dealing with the same issues she had endured.

From opening day through the years the store has been opened successes have been difficult to measure.  Financially, the store has never operated to its anticipated dream, located in the small run down shopping center of a neighborhood that was fraught with crime, drugs and prostitution, it was difficult to make a go of the mission my friend envisioned.

Featuring a wonderful selection of furniture, clothes, antiques and accessories, the store should have been a success, unfortunately the neighborhood blocked that possibility.

My friend always kept her head-up and worked towards her mission.  Through her constant grief, her vision to honor her son never wavered.

A couple of weeks ago my friend announced the store will be closing.  Her continued battle to make the store meet her vision would come to an end.

The store will close, but I know my friend….. her vision and commitment to families who are going through the unfathomable days she went through will not.

My friend is a warrior and she is guided daily by an angel that helps her put one foot in front of the other.  The store may be closing, but my friends broken-heart will go on, she will persevere, she has already done more than she will ever know and her journey continues, through pain she will continue to heal and help others in her child’s name.