2020 – Coming Into Focus

a5649117efe5e16222a72001a4b11a73As I write this, we are just hours from a new year, a new decade.

With the dawn of a new year, comes the opportunity to look back on what has come before and to look ahead to the endless possibilities just around the corner.

Like most of you, the past year was a mixed bag, I had highs and lows, some of them had a greater impact than others.  Some of my own creation and some that I had no control over, that’s life, it will happen again in 2020 and every year that we are blessed to walk this earth.

What I have learned through the years is, I can’t always control the situation, but I can control how I react.  For 2020, my hope is that I don’t sweat the small stuff, but concentrate on the things that matter, the things that will have impact on my life and those around me.

I pray that I never lose my sense of adventure, to dream big and step into new challenges.  Some of my best decisions have been those cockamamie choices I have made that from the outside make no sense, but in my heart are the only viable direction.

For our nation, I pray that we never forget who we are, we are America, the greatest nation to ever inhabit this planet, a nation that provides hope and opportunity to anyone willing to invest in the American dream.

Moving into 2020, my greatest fear is for our country.  We have become a polarized nation unwilling to work together for the common good.  I pray that this year, we think more before we react, we learn to look beyond our own interests and to what is best for all and I pray that above all else we learn to work together once again, our nation’s future depends on it.

I pray that our world finds long-lasting and true peace.

For each of you, I pray that your dreams will come true in 2020.  I hope that all of your goals and aspirations fall into place and that your days are filled with love, laughter and health.

Above all else, for 2020, I pray that we all find grace, hope and community. I pray that we overcome the hard times with the help of others and that we celebrate our joys together.

For 2020, I will pray for you all and ask the same in return.  For 2020, my goal is to be a little kinder, a bit more joyful, more present and understanding…. for 2020, my goal is simple, just to try and be a bit better every day.

Happy New Year friends, may God bless you in 2020!

Let Spicey Dance.

So, I was reading this morning where people are calling for a boycott of this season’s Dancing with the Stars because former White House Spokesman, Sean Spicer is one of the contestants.  REALLY?  Come on people don’t we have more important things to worry about than this?

I mean the real travesty here is that we have now gone through 28 seasons of a show and they actually call these people stars.  But that’s not the purpose of this post, I digress.

At some point we as Americans have got to stop getting butt-hurt over silliness like this.  The political left preaches inclusiveness, that is until someone who disagrees with them speaks out or gets recognized or God forbid dances on a silly TV show.

It’s all good and nice to tout how inclusive you are, but if you are going to talk the talk, at some point you have to walk the walk and understand not everyone sees things the same way you do….. and either accept it or get over it but stop the cry-baby crap and move on!

If we as Americans are going to really be inclusive, we have got to start accepting differing viewpoints, it doesn’t always have to be our way or no way.  That isn’t what our country was built on, but it certainly is what our country is being torn apart by.

And you folks on the right, don’t get all puffed chest because I called out the left on this one.  You are just as bad, you will boycott a brand, burn an album and turn your back on one of your own so fast it will make one’s head swim.  All it takes is a simple disagreement with what you believe at the moment and BAM, they are dead to you.  (Ironically, sometimes the folks you turn against really are dead.)

Do we not all see the lunacy of this?  We have become a nation of butt-hurt folks walking around just looking to be offended by the next person who speaks out, has a differing opinion or heaven forbid straps on a pair of dancing shoes.

It’s time we started acting like Americans again, not political parties.  Grow up, understand that we are at our best when we work together and LISTEN to each other.

There isn’t anything wrong with having a difference of opinion, what IS wrong is when we won’t even allow the other side to express it.  Who know’s maybe if we listened more and got offended less we might all find solutions to the issues in our world that really matter.

And that my friends is the end of my tantrum…. y’all go back to pouting now!

Bye Nike.

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I usually stay out of the political debate, except with those I am closest to.  I find I am not going to change anyone’s mind and mine is rarely changed on an issue, through debate with people I don’t know.

With that said, here I go.

Nike, I gave you the benefit of the doubt when you hired Colin Kaepernick as a spokesman.  Our views about America, our history and respect for the greatest democracy in human history don’t align, but it is your right to hire whomever you want. Afterall, he isn’t the first washed up athlete to be given a second career hocking tennis shoes and work-out apparel.

I didn’t get rid of any of my Nike, I just didn’t buy anymore.  If I wanted to throw on a hoodie or pair of socks with the familiar “swoosh” on it, I did.

That changed this week, when you decided that Kaepernick’s hurt feelings were more important than the first flag that flew as a sign of Independence for the greatest country in the history of man.

The same flag that flew over America that allowed Mr. Kaepernick to get his feelings hurt over a tennis shoe design.

I understand that there are parts of the history of our country that are shameful, but to try and erase the parts of our history that has led up to the progress we see in America today is just plain stupid.

Nike has decided that the voice of a multi-million-dollar endorsement hack is worth more than the history of our county, they have the right to support their spokesman, and I also have the right not to buy their crap.

I realize I’m not the target market for Nike, that’s cool, I just hope that for the sake of the brand, the bed wetting snowflakes who get offended by a tennis shoe design will be able to give the brand the longevity that the object of Mr. Kaepernick’s hurt feelings have given.

As a business owner, I try not to piss off anyone (except the University of Alabama and the Florida Gators, I hate them both and they can be pissed off), I may not like what you want on a t-shirt, but I’m not going to turn your business away because we have differing viewpoints, it’s just not good business.  Nike on the other hand has chosen to piss off millions of Americans by allowing an overpaid past his prime athlete to get his feelings hurt over a shoe that celebrates the history of our country.

Mr. Kaepernick obviously has issues with the United States of America, maybe he should run over to North Korea or Russia and see what they think of his “hurt feelings.”

I love my country; I love what it stands for and I even love that idiots like Nike and Kaepernick can raise their voices in dissent.  What I don’t love is people trying to erase the history of America that has brought us to where we are today.

When you erase the ugly parts of our history, people forget, and we are more apt to repeat the mistakes of the past.  We still haven’t succeeded in getting to that “more perfect union,” but we are a hell of a lot closer than we used to be.

Mr. Kaepernick is entitled to his hurt feelings; Nike is entitled to turn their backs on millions of potential customers, and I am entitled to walk away from the brand.

But what they are NOT entitled to do is erase the history of America, the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

What are You Offended by Now?

wpid-wp-1436742937115How did we become a society of the permanently offended?

It seems like there is a whole group of people in our society who just live to be offended by something, and let me say from the outset, you being offended does only one thing…. makes you offended.

Everywhere you turn, someone is offended by something.  Politics, religion, sexuality, entertainment, words, clothes, media….. offended, offended, offended… here is a piece of advice….. GET OVER IT!

In the society that we now find ourselves in, Republicans are offended by Democrats, Democrats are offended by Republicans; gays are offended by straights, straights are offended by gays; black are offended by whites and whites are offended by blacks; men are offended by women and women offended by men, Christians are offended by non-Christians and vice-versa; and on and on and on….. GET A GRIP PEOPLE AND GET OVER BEING OFFENDED!

At this rate, who and what are we not going to be offended by?

I learned this week that I am supposed to be offended by a Christmas song; one that I have listened to my whole life and never knew was evidently about a man “supposedly” trying to sexually assault a woman.  I just thought it was a cute song about a man trying to get a woman he was dating to try to spend some time with him.

If you look at the internet, everything is a conspiracy,  who knew that every agency created to protect and defend the Constitution was now a left-wing conspiracy group designed to bring down the government… who knew?  Evidently, the internet taught us that.  Thanks internet!?!?!?

We all have crap in our lives, crap that sometimes makes it hard just to put your feet on the floor in the mornings and get moving, but we do it and most of us do it in private.  We don’t have the need to share with the world what offends us and demand others be offended too.

In our world of being offended, we now have co-workers afraid to get into an elevator with someone of the opposite sex because of what may be said.  REALLY?  It’s an elevator going between the 3rd and 5th floor.

How about we all just take a breath, grow up  a little and live our own lives without trying to bring everyone else along with our “being offended” mentality.

You know what offends me?  You being offended and expecting me to care!

There is a guy in my town who moved here because he loves it so much.  He opened a successful business and has done very well.  But now, he is offended by other businesses moving into town who he doesn’t agree with politically.  He now wants to homogenize our little corner of God’s Country into the way HE thinks it should be…. here’s a history lesson for you,…. we were this way before you ever moved here and will be long after you leave, take the offended entitlement and move on!

Is there stuff in our world that offends me…. you bet!  But guess what, I’m not asking you to be offended by it too…. I’ll just not listen to the music that offends me, or patronize a business that I don’t agree with or vote for a candidate who doesn’t represent my views on how I think our world should be operated.  But I’m not going to expect you to feel the same.

2018, is almost over, it has proven to be the year of “I’m offended,” on all sides….. here’s an idea, in 2019, let’s all put on our big boy and girl pants and grow the eff up!

And now, you can be offended by what I just wrote!

Love One Another…. It’s That Simple.

Once again, over the last few days we have been witnesses to acts of unspeakable violence and hate.

Once again, our differences have torn us apart.  I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how someone can hate an entire race, creed, orientation; I don’t understand how someone’s heart can grow so hardened that the fears of our differences bring us to such a place and I am thankful for that lack of understanding.

For decades, I suppose centuries, our differences have continued to define us.  At what point will we find our similarities are so much more important than our differences?

Unfortunately, these acts of violence have hardened all of our hearts.  We send our love to victims, we pray for entire cities and we tweet about our heartbreak, but what do we actually do?

It’s not about guns, or politics, it’s about hearts, minds and a lack of understanding.

There are billions of people on the planet, each one of us different and that is what makes the world such an amazing place.  I can’t fathom a world where everyone was like me, short, fat, bald, old white guy, how boring is that?  What makes the world so amazing is our differences, our vast beliefs, religions, races, why can’t we seem to accept that and get along?

Our society has grown so hardened that we witness these senseless acts and then go on about our day, we just keep moving along and wait for the next atrocity to happen, we then send out thoughts and prayers and wait for the next, unfortunately it seems on a weekly basis.

Like all of you, my heart breaks a bit more each time one of these mass murders takes place and I am lost, I am lost to know what to do, I am lost to understand…. I am lost.

I don’t think I am the only one who is lost, I think we all are, we are lost to find answers when the fringe of our society begins to define us.

This isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue, it isn’t an American issue, it is a human issue, one that brings us down instead of building us up.

I will always believe that 99.999999999999999% of the planet is good, but sadly today that infinitesimal percentage that is filled with hate and rage define us.  Our fringe should be just that, fringe, not the voices that we hear most often, but the ones who are set aside and witnessed to about the goodness of humanity and not encouraged and held up as a voice that should be leading our charge.

What do we do as people to stamp out this hate?  What do we do to celebrate our similarities and allow good to overcome evil?  What do we do?

Several years ago there was a movement in our society, it was begun by young people and it was symbolized by four letters…. WWJD?

What would Jesus do, a simple phrase with a simple answer….. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Jesus gave this simple command to his people, he didn’t say love one another except for those you disagree with.  He didn’t tell us to only love those who were like us, he told us to love all people, everyone.

We can’t love when we continue to allow our differences to separate us, if we are to truly love we must first look at how we are alike and then in voices of compassion, resolution and understanding we must work together to work together to overcome our differences.

I’m not a Bible scholar, but I have studied.  I can’t find a place in the Bible where we are told to love someone unless they are Black, Brown, Yellow, White, Jewish, Gay, Muslim, the only command I see is LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

At some point, if we are to survive as a people love has to overcome the hatred that we have for one another.  Hatred of our differences will only continue to tear us apart, continue our heartbreak and our tweets of compassion, when a tweet is simply too late.

Thankfully, all hatred doesn’t end in violence and death.  In our society today, we see people being harassed on a night out with a loved one, hate is hate.  We tear each other down over our beliefs, families are torn apart , people we value as friends are swept aside over simple differences.  Imagine how things could change if we just talked to each other, kept the temperature to a slow boil and discussed differences to find solutions like respectful humans.

I don’t hold myself aside from these actions, I am as guilty as anyone else, maybe one day we will all learn and embrace our similarities and stop letting our differences overtake us.

Sadly, there are few places where we are safe anymore.  Churches, synagogues, restaurants, nightclubs, the workplace, have all been attacked.  Our places of work and play are now battlegrounds and sites of mass murder, it is truly a sad commentary on our world.

We can do better, we must do better, we must find a way to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

I don’t understand a hatred that engulfs someone, I don’t understand hatred of entire group of people, I don’t understand….. and I hope I never will.