Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Lie I Never Addressed

So, I had this series of blogs I wrote a few months back called "Great American Lies". In that series I rambled on about various lies built into our culture. It was a good series and got lots of comments. I'm sure not everyone agreed with me and that's what made it fun. It also got me started blogging on a regular basis instead of randomly. I have a few lies that did not make the first series and I will write on them sporadically if nothing else interests me on a given Wednesday. Today I am going to write about the lie that "you can be anything you want to be."

This is a lie that starts at our very core. America is the "Land of Opportunity" and as such, we believe that someone can dream big and make it bigger. The problem with this lie is that it is so very incomplete. In other words, there are LOTS of caveats to this statement. "Want" is not enough. You must identify the small steps to make it to your end result. You must work through the inevitable setbacks. You must gain the skill, education, experience, credentials, friends or whatever to make it to that final goal. In other words, you can't be anything you just "want" to be.

I find it interesting/annoying also that some folks look down on people that arrive at a destination in life because of a friend or family name. Some people do have a better launching platform than others. For some the journey to "what they want to be" is much shorter. One of the beautiful things about this lie is that there is some truth in it, though. It IS possible for someone with nothing to be something spectacular--IF and only IF they are willing to make the sacrifices, do the work, make the connections, take the risk, chart the path and again, do the work to get there. It is absolutely possible for someone raised in poverty to become a brain surgeon or a major politician or whatever. WE OURSELVES make this more difficult by holding onto the lie that all we have to do is "want" to be something.

Then we really mess things up when we look at this lie as a lie but from the wrong angle. What I mean is that some people identify this as a lie by saying, "In America, you can't be anything you want to be because you are _______" and they fill in that blank with anything from a specific race to a specific religion or "not from a certain family" or whatever. They identify this as a lie but they miss what the lie actually is.  The lie is in the statement's incompleteness, it is not actually a lie in and of itself. You CAN be anything you want to be IF you are willing to work for it. Call it a lie of omission.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Odd Day of Reflection

I have a problem sometimes. I get in a rut of remembering strange events from my past. It's almost like an earworm (random song gets stuck in your head and you hear it in your head over and over and over and over) only with memories. I have had a collossal "Day of Reflection" over the past 24 hours. Just random memories flooding my brain. I will post a few of those in rapid fire fashion now. Hopefully this will be therapeutic. I will not publish names unless they are essential to the story.
  • My little brother once strangled me so hard I puked. I was probably 12 or so. I had been aggravating him (nothing new) and he turned demon on me. I ran. He ran faster and jumped on my back and strangled me till I almost lost consciousness and then I threw up. I deserved it.
  • I had this old Lincoln Continental. Technically it was my dad's but really, it was mine. Especially after I tried to take out a fire hydrant with it and left a "little scratch" on it. He paid $800 for the car so its not like it was a huge loss but still. That car had no driver's window. It also had no upper door frame so we had to tape in a piece of plexiglass. This meant I had to crawl across from the passenger side to get in and out. Classy. I got pulled over in it once and couldn't roll the window down. The officer yelled at me then felt sorry for me. We got 14 people in that car once. It was better than cramming a telephone booth because we could drive to Waffle House.
  • I once took cops to Eric Brown's house because of the way I drove through town. He was not happy. We were going to a church devotional and the cops showed up.
  • I admit it. I rolled people--several people. I'm not ready to name specifics but, if you knew me fairly well and got rolled from 1995-1998 or so, it was probably me.
  • We lost a kid one time rolling someone. A car was coming so we all hid. He hid better than the rest of us and we couldn't find him for like 10 minutes.
  • I used to jump my old Lincoln and a Ford Taurus I had "Dukes of Hazzard" style at the Smyrna Rescue squad, the railroad tracks on McNickle and the two hills that I later nearly killed myself on out on Rock Springs Road. In the Taurus a kid got chocolate milk all over the headliner because he didn't know what was coming at the Rescue Squad. I always dodged the question when my dad asked me what was on the headliner. It was chocolate milk
  • I once asked a girl "out" by playing the song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" by the Ramones. I broke up with that same girl by playing "Free Bird". Man was I lame.
  • I once pulled a knife on a guy that would later be my best friend. His dad came down to my house and talked to my dad. I was in HUGE trouble but I deserved it--and then some. Sorry about that, Daniel.
  • I had this hat, this fisherman's hat with a bunch of buttons on it. Honestly, it was really dumb but I thought it was the coolest thing EVER. I wore it all the time. I used to trade the buttons with TGI Friday's waiters.
  • I decided to bleach my hair one time. I bleached it too light and the chemicals actually burned my scalp and left scabs. I am pretty sure that was a main contributing factor to my baldness.
  • I never could climb that stupid A-frame at Meribah. Yes, chaperones, it was me, Bobby, Daniel, Chris and Brandon that raided the kitchen that night.
  • I got kicked out of the cabin by the other kids at the very first church retreat I ever went to. Daniel and I had to sleep on the dock at Guntersville. It was awesome though.
Would love to hear some of your short memories that flood your mind sometimes. Confession is good for the soul and good for a little laugh too.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Media Bias

You know it is funny, liberals and conservatives alike accuse media outlets of showing bias toward the other side. Liberals claim that talk radio and Fox news is slanted toward the right and is therefore not trustworthy. Conservatives always use the term the "MASS media" is heavily liberal slanted. I would say that ALL media shows bias, favoritism, preference, whatever you want to call it. The thing is, I think our society has missed the picture on HOW the bias is shown.

Many will say that reporters show bias in the words they use to describe events and the inflection they use. This may be true but it is not the most dangerous form of bias. I say it is not the most dangerous because it is fairly easy to recognize and see through. Others will say that the length of time a news story is on shows bias. Again, this is true but still not the most dangerous bias.

In my opinion, the most dangerous bias is when a news organization chooses NOT to report certain stories. Obviously there is so much going on that there is no way a single outlet can cover EVERYTHING. That means they have to be selective about what gets aired and how much time it gets. When an outlet spends 5 minutes covering some story about a Hollywood celebrity and spends 15 seconds or no time at all covering the true picture behind unemployment numbers and people pulling themselves out of the workforce, there is something seriously wrong, slanted and even irresponsible about that outlet. What the media DOESN'T say is far more biased than anything they actually report.

I challenge you to be a conscientious consumer of media. Take in multiple streams of news, from multiple sources--including the ones that are known to be "slanted." Once you take them in, dig deeper in the stories that could have been slanted or the ones that interest you. If the TV news story draws outrage from you, chances are you need to dig deeper. It was probably written in such a way as to evoke that emotion. It is probably at least a little slanted. Take a few extra moments to try to be informed and not just spoon fed by the media.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I posed the question to the college students at my church last Sunday. What is budgeting? I see budgeting very simply--allocation of a finite resource. Notice I did not impose any qualifiers here--I did not say "proper allocation" or "wise allocation"--just allocation. We all budget. Some of us do it poorly, some of us do it accidentally, some of us do it well. Then again, some of us do it in such a way that others think we do it poorly but it works perfectly well for us. I write this blog to inspire thought. This particular entry is to inspire thought about how you budget your most valuable resource--yourself.

Budgeting money is pretty simple. You have a list of bills, you have a set amount of income and you pay the bills. Whatever is left, you apply to other "wants." That's basically it. Granted, sometimes we have more month than we have money but the concept is simple. Budgeting yourself can be MUCH more tricky. What do I mean by budgeting myself? I have the capacity to accomplish so much per day. Part of that capacity is my time. I am allotted 24 hours in a day. Part of that capacity is my energy--mental, physical, and emotional. I also have certain obligations, appointments and relationships to keep. Those are basically my "bills" for the 24 hour "pay cycle" (stick with my analogy here). I have to decide how I am going to "spend" my 24 hours worth of capacity. If I know I have a particularly difficult (mentally) activity in the day, I may want to look at taking it easier at night. If I have a tough day physically at work, I might not want to schedule a competitive game of racquetball after work. You get the idea. The challenge is to budget yourself. Try not to drift through life accidentally. Get more out of life by applying some real basic budgeting skills. Also, beware of people that "bust your budget." Don't get caught in the Ponzi scheme of life. Some people are just there to waste your time, your emotion, your brainpower and never put anything back in the tank.
How do you budget yourself? What are some methods you use to budget yourself? Do you even think budgeting yourself is important?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Makes the Best Realtor?

I like Ralph Bristol. I don't always agree with him but I like his demeanor and I like that he takes phone calls. I like his ability to explain things in a very common sense, grandparent-ly sort of way. He did say something the other day though that provoked a little bit of thought. I would love to get your feedback on this topic also.

So Ralph says (in an advertisement for a Realtor), "I know he is the best Realtor because the best Realtor sells the most houses." Is this true? Does the best Realtor sell the most houses? If not, what makes someone the best Realtor? I have my opinions but I would really, really like to read yours first.

This is NOT some ploy to make me look good by the way. I really want your opinions on here.