Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Anatomy of Structure

Whether a child realizes it or not, a structured home is a true blessing. Those that have it take it for granted and those that lack it usually experience high levels of stress and drama.  The degree of the chaos will be determined by the values and morals that the adults have imparted on their offspring.

To be effective, the structured environment must include boundaries and consequences, words and actions, and, most importantly, both parents must be of one accord. If a boundary is violated there must be a consequence. Words that lack action are merely hollow ideals. And a mom and a dad working as a team are a force of nature.

Living Versus Existing

Living and existing are not the same thing. Many of the young men and women I have mentored have dropped out of high school. Out of the ones I have stayed in touch with most of them have struggled to makes a modest living. Their lack of preparation has left them with minimum wage jobs or dead end jobs.

An education is not an end-all and does not guarantee financial success, but it does open doors of opportunity. Most of my young friends covet a life of excitement and do their best to be happy, but when one lives from paycheck to paycheck or as they say “hand to mouth” there is very little to look forward to other than another day working marathon hours to survive. This is not living. It is merely existing.

A Way Forward

Presently, we have many in our nation who are very displeased with the election results. This election has been very troubling for many reasons, but the good news is that there is a way forward. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. It’s not over. Congress is back to work for their new session. Now is the time to let your representatives hear from you on the changes you would like to see and offer solutions not rants. No one listens to a rant.
  2. Hypocrisy: Bill versus Donald – When we the people looked the other way and elected a known adulterer, and allowed him to repeatedly get away with his improprieties before and during his time in the Oval office we opened Pandora’s box. Ever since Bill Clinton character is hardly an issue. If we wish be a people of morals than it must apply all the time not just when it is politically convenient.
  3. Speculation – It is impossible to resolve any matter if your argument is based on speculation. What may have happened or would have happened or could happen do not produce meaningful solutions. It is worse when we judge someone based on what they may or my not be like. Stick to the facts, as difficult as truth may be to accept, it is the surest route to reality.
  4. “Not My President” – Please. Grow up. President Bush and President Obama were our presidents regardless of your feelings. Life is tough you won’t always get your way.
  5. Accountability – We must begin to hold our elected officials accountable. But that will require strong moral convictions and consistency.
  6. Media – They lied to us and have been lying to us. We must begin to hold them accountable.
  7. DNC Corruption – We the people must rise up against any form of corruption with our government. Call for changes within the DNC  and be specific.
  8. RNC chaos – This came about because the Republican party doesn’t know what they stand for. Again, we the people must not put up with this and we must voice our thoughts and suggestions out loud.
  9. Statesman versus Politicians – A statesman is a man of principle. Principle is not negotiable. To a politician everything is negotiable. We must choose who to support wisely.
  10. Politics is downstream from culture – If you are unhappy with our politicians remember that they reflect our society.
  11. Ends justifies the means – This is a very misguided way of thinking that has caused some good people to make some very sorry decisions. The means justify themselves.
  12. Grow up, adapt, and apply yourself – Our political process is designed to move slow and therefore prevent the people from being overrun by their own government. You won’t always get your way.
  13. Tantrums and the electoral college – Most people who have complained about Hillary’s popular vote do not understand the electoral college and how free it keeps us. They do not comprehend that we are a constitutional republic and not a democracy. They do not comprehend that she probably didn’t win the popular vote either. The reported vote count are only the votes that were counted.
  14. Popular vote – Who cares! We do elect any president by popular vote. It is decided by 51 independent elections. Donald won 37 of those elections.
  15. Hollywood – Please stop complaining about Hollywood stars and their political opinions. They live in a bubble far removed from the lives of regular Americans. Taking their political viewpoints seriously is not healthy.
  16. Latino Trump supporters – There are many. This should not have surprised anyone. The Border Patrol Association, which is mostly Latino, came out in support of Donald Trump well over a year ago. Also, please stop showing pictures of people whom you don’t believe are Latino based how they are supposed to look. We don’t all look the same. We are not a race, we are a hodge-podge of races and have an loosely interlaced culture. We look like….everyone on the planet.
  17. Third parties – Now is the time. If you are seriously tired of our third party system, please stop whining about it and get busy establishing your third party. Now is the time to start building such a party. Develop your platform, convince us why we should look to you to represent us and make yourself a household name. You have 2 years to get ready for the next Congressional elections. Get busy.

Silence is the enemy of free men.

The Sky Went Black

(I began writing fiction as a little boy, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually submitted my work in a short story contest. I hope you enjoy it.)

 

The Sky Went Black

The sky went black or so it seemed. One moment he was full of hope, the next a darkness engulfed him. Where was she? What had happened? Several days had passed by since they last spoke. At first he thought she was mad at him. Then the days passed by, he began to worry. Time and again he called, sent a text, but there was no reply. Finally, he decided to go to her house to apologize.

The morning had been beautiful.  It had stormed the night before. The sun was shining, the air around him smelled fresh, the earth was reborn. He was very optimistic as he left his place and drove to her house. They would start over. After all they were in love. This would be their last fight. He rehearsed several times what he would say as he drove. He was a reasonable man and she was a reasonable woman. Well, on most days she was reasonable. She had her moments.

Her car wasn’t parked out front when he arrived at her house. “It must be in the garage,” He told himself. He walked up to the front door and rang the bell. A minute or so passed.  His heart was pounding. He longed to see her face. A minute expired and then another. No answer. He knocked with a bit more intensity. Nothing. There was no sound coming from within. He looked in through the small window in the upper part of the door and his heart stopped. The apartment was empty.

The sky went black. “What happened!!” He screamed inside. Where is she? What is going on? He almost blurt out the last question. A woman’s raspy voice broke his thoughts. He spun around, mostly startled, but he knew it wasn’t her voice. It was an older woman’s voice.

The neighbor looked at him. “You alright son?”

He nodded.

“She’s gone. Packed up and left yesterday.”

“Where did she go?” His confusion grew. He made a face and shook his head slightly.

“No idea. Some fella was helping her.”

“Who?” He felt the blood drain from his face.

“No idea.” She shuffled off in her tattered dress.

 

The darkness grew. ‘Some fella was helping her.’ Those words rambled on and on. It made no sense. “What is going on!” His screamed inside his head.

“She left with another man.” He argued with himself.

“But she said she loved me.”

On and on it went. The nightmare grew. The day dragged on.

 

The rest of the day was a blur. Time and again he pulled out his cell phone. Nothing. The evening came to an end at some late hour. He didn’t care that tomorrow was a workday. He drank. He began drinking when he arrived back at his place and continued until he mercifully lost consciousness. He drank slowly while his mind raced.

Where is she? What happened? Did I just get dumped? Would these questions ever get answered? He dreaded the answer. The darkness laughed.

“But she loves me!” He yelled out loud. The alcohol was defending him.

“What am I going to do?!”

The questions came in waves. His emotions battered him. He hurt. The struggle went on, all the while the alcohol seduced him. Until finally he dozed off in exhaustion.

Early the next morning he stirred awake. The sunlight peeking through his curtains awoke him. He slowly arose from the sofa where he had passed out. There was some confusion in his thoughts as he tried to clear the cobwebs and recall why he was on the couch and what had happened. The awful taste in his mouth reminded him that he had been drinking and drank too much. Then his eyes fell on his cell phone. His stomach turned over as it all came back to him. The drive to her house, the knock, the empty apartment, “some fella was helping her”, and the sky went black.

He grabbed his cellphone desperately, praying silently that all of it had been a nightmare. With one look his worst fears were confirmed. There were no texts, no messages, no calls, much less missed calls. He was alone. His spirit broke. The sky went black.

11 Reasons Hillary Lost

It would nice to say that our country is heading down a good path, but we aren’t. Here are my thoughts on why Hillary lost this election.

  1. Scandal #1, the email server – If you don’t understand the gravity of compromising national security you won’t understand this. Hillary’s problem is that many people do understand the issue.
  2. Scandal #2, the Clinton Foundation – it has become very apparent that the rumors of the Clinton Foundation being used as a front for political favors are true.
  3. Scandal #3, FBI collusion – Bill’s secret meeting with Loretta Lynch and the subsequent no indictment are too much of a coincidence. Would the average citizen get the same treatment?
  4. Scandal #4, Benghazi – the ghosts of the dead will not go away. It now appears that the rumors of an illegal arms deal between the State Department and Syrian rebels may be true after all. The deal went awry when one of our Chinooks was downed by a surface-to-missile that didn’t detonate and the serial number was traced back to this illegal deal. The scramble was officially on at that point resulting in the debacle at Benghazi.
  5. Above the law – Hillary is viewed as seeing herself as above the law.
  6. WikiLeaks – The Wikileaks data dumps made Hillary’s intentional efforts to break the rules very apparent.
  7. Anti-Christian – Her and her staff’s disdain for Christians and a Biblical worldview were and are in plain view in the released emails.
  8. Barack Obama’s Justice Department – Never before in the history of the nation has a justice department openly and willingly abdicated its duty to enforce the law. This is the same justice department which obstructed her investigation. The same investigation where her staff members destroyed cellphones with hammers.
  9. Vilifying the wealthy – no one believes Hillary is one of us. She is not poor or remotely close. The hypocrisy drove many away.
  10. DNC corruption – Had the DNC held honest primary elections and not a coronation, the outcome would have been better. The DNC created their own monster.
  11. Bernie Sander’s supporters – It is beginning to look like close to 20% of Bernie Sanders’ supporters voted for Trump. I seriously doubt they love Donald. Behold the monster. (see #10).

Dreams or Delusions

“Mr. Augie when I make it big it’ll be as a rapper.”

“I’m going to be a professional football player.”

 

These are just two of the many overly ambitious comments I have heard over the past 27 years. All of them have come from a courageous teen who had taken the step of trusting me with their dream. For this I am grateful. Along with being grateful, as a real friend, I often make a few suggestions and ask some questions. My approach towards all the young people I have worked with has always been to treat them as I treat my own children. What I have found has been anything but comforting.

 

If my children had made these comments I would have asked many questions to find out how much they knew about their chosen field. Also, as a means to give them advice, and perhaps most importantly, to find out how I can help them reach their goal; this is the true definition of support. To my surprise, other than what a TV shows presents or what a video game has portrayed or what their friends have said, most of my young teens know very little about their chosen career field. They imagine or assume many things which they deem to be factual without doing any research. Life has a way of making things sound easy.

 

Let’s take the music industry for example. How do you break into it? Well from the outside looking in, I would say that there is going be a lot of hard work involved. But work at what? This is the real question. I’m not in the music industry, but I know a dozen or so people who are and scores of others with who dream of doing so. Here are a few of the things they have taught me. You will need a social media presence across several platforms and you must aggressively publish on these same platforms. You will need to get noticed and have a special quality. This special quality must rise above everyone else’s. Or at the very least your quality must be appealing enough to get the attention of someone in the industry.

The effort required to become successful is not for cowards. It must be a consistent effort. You must consistently and continuously learn. You must be willing to go down this road alone. You must meet people, bear criticism, but above all you must believe in your dream more than anyone else.

Many of the young people I have worked with will never begin their journey because they never take a step towards it. One such young man came into my life about two years ago. He dreamed of being a rapper. He comes from a poverty stricken neighborhood and raised by a single, loving mom. During the course of our conversations he invited me to stop by his “studio” and listen to some of his music. A few days later I stopped by and listened to some of his music. The young man definitely had talent. He had a few songs, but not many. My advice to him was to establish a strong media presence and stay busy producing music. To date he has produced two or three videos and maybe an additional six songs. He spends his free time parting and hanging out with his friends. He still talks about making it big, but the idea of hard work and success is not taken seriously. However, he is expecting his big break any moment now.

Here is where he was failed by his parents. As a parent it is your job to help your child find success. First of all, you have to find out what he is good at and what he might be good at and find doors to open for him. The parent should guide their child in conversation and by exposing him to new people, ideas, and activities. We live in an age where information is literally at our finger tips. The Internet is full of information on most any subject. Too many parents I have met operate on their opinions. When I have questioned the basis of their opinions I have been dismayed to find out that there is rarely a factual basis. For the most part, they make decisions based on self-invented thoughts, whims if you please. Parents, of all people, should know how difficult it is to compete in this world and should open as many doors as possible for their children.

Dreams are wonderful, but without proactive steps they are merely illusions. Unfortunately many of my young friends find themselves in this stagnant mindset mostly due to their upbringing.

 

The View from the Other Side

There comes a moment in the life of an at-risk youth when he will look across the way and realize that something is very wrong with his life. This will be a pivotal moment. In that moment he will do one of two things. He will decide that it must be addressed or he will shrug it off and decide that he will get to it later. The second choice will prove disastrous in the course of his life.

My childhood took an abrupt turn one day in the summer before my eight grade year. A friend, one of the few I had, asked me to go with him to a private pool in Brookfield, IL. We lived one suburb over, but I went to school in Brookfield. It was a really nice pool. As we were leaving I said out loud, “I think I’ll come back here again.” My friend, in a matter-of-factly tone, told me, “You can’t.”

I asked, “Why is that?”

“It’s a private pool. You have to be a member.” He said as he went out the door.

At the nearby reception desk I began scanning some of the posted information and soon found what I was looking for. Membership there was several hundred dollars. It was in that very moment that I realized “we” were different. We were poor.

The amount of racial discrimination my sisters and I were exposed to in those days had already made me into a recluse, but at that moment I also realized another very important fact. Although we were poor reading was my great equalizer. I was already reading a lot but now my reading took on a new purpose: to escape poverty.

This is the pivotal moment I speak of. It is that moment that we realize that unlike “them,” we have obstacles which are hindering us and our future. We realize that we are different from “them.” However, this won’t be a “good”, “unique” different, but rather, if only vaguely, that we are at a disadvantage. We are in fact losing. Many will experience this moment, but few will act on it.

There are literally dozens of reasons why so few will act on this realization. To keep it simple, it will come down to the values of the individual. Many of my young men will say they have all the right values, but upon a close examination of the way they live their lives, I have found a very select set of values. The sort of values that contribute to a life of poverty. Herein lies the problem.

Over the years, many of my young men have confessed that they knew something needed to change, but they didn’t pay it much attention, they would do it later, for some they made an excuse and thought their lucky day would arrive. Many looked for the easy way out, trying to manipulate their way in life only to find out that the world of successful adults has no time for such individuals.

The values we teach our children must begin with morals. All else will be of no consequence if they grow up as immoral people. Laws are based on morals and thriving communities depend on them to continue to thrive. In short, to escape this pattern, the cycle my young men find themselves in, they will have to set about on a quest to develop new values and they must believe in their quest more than anyone else. They must commit themselves to learning and growing. Of the many young men I have worked with, few have selected this path. However, those who have, now live lives of abundance.