Games

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You ever watch people play those games where you grab a stuffed animal out of the plastic bin with a mechanical grabber. What about the game where you drop your quarter in and hope slider will make the other quarters drop off. You watch these people drop quarter after quarter in there. They will run and get more money to drop in the machine. “I almost had it that time!” “Just one more quarter will make them all fall.” I worry about those people.

They have began to worship that little stuffed animal or stack of quarters. No. Think about it. They have spend all there money to get a three dollar fuzzy bunny. That is worship. They have set aside all else for the pursuit of that goal. That stuff people do in church on Sunday mornings isn’t worship. It is singing. Worship involves a total pursuit of an object with all your hearts, minds and soul.  That girl in high school, that new car (or that old restored car), or that new house.

You know the old saying that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. We can began to worship that other yard. We forget the family and friends that we have. We can leave a job that we have prospered in and go full- hearted after that new and better thing.

The sad thing is that which you worship will rule you. That fuzzy rabbit can own you. That different woman can own you. That better job can own you. People give themselves a sense of strength and pride when they pursue these things. I am driven and pursuing something better for myself. I am growing, I am progressing. No. You are following like a mindless fool blown by the winds of fate and whim.

We paly games with ourselves and the real losers are all to often those around us. We need to worship those close to us. Those that nurture us. Those that stand there and finally say, “NO! You cant have another dollar. Stop playing the game and let’s go”

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Folded Snow

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Folded Snow by jwill9311
Folded Snow, a photo by jwill9311 on Flickr.

Eagles

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Did you know that the name of the band is “Eagles” not “the Eagles”? I know I am crazy random sometimes. But I have a larger point. Wonder how many other things in our life that we know – we really don’t?

I am not big on absolutes. You may tell me that the sky is blue. Depending on the time of day and season in my location, it may be blue, orange, red, purple or grey. The grass is green? Some of mine is brown, golden and blue tinged at this very moment.

Now I hear your argument. I am telling you how the grass and sky are where I am right now – and that is my point. Some facts are dependents of our place in time and our situation.

Think about it. Government assistance is bad. It creates weakness and laziness. People become dependent on the government to meet their needs. Until… that government assistance is coming to that person. Public roads and schools and libraries are government assistance. I can’t buy all those books, hire a private teacher and feel a building with training equipment.

It goes beyond that. I am not self-sufficient when I buy insurance for my home, car and life. It is rare that my premium payments become enough to cover a catastrophic surgery or illness. Do they cover the replacement of all my belongings and house in the event of a storm or fire? Do they cover the cost of car replacement, injury to my passengers or the person that I hit with my car or the property damage my wreck caused?

People who are depressed just need to suck it up and stop their whining and laying around. Does that apply to me when my loved one is back in America while I fight in the hills of Afghanistan? Does that apply when the doctors find a mass that is too large to remove and too advanced to treat. When I am lying at home with Hospice visiting for pain management and to boost my quality of life as I die? Does it apply to the ones watching my slip towards that appointed end?

There are facts in each of our lives that we have build our lives on. I wonder how many of them are as trivial as whether its “The Eagles” or “Eagles”? I wonder how many of them taint our outlook on others and how we relate to them.

Helping Hand

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Helping Hand by jwill9311
Helping Hand, a photo by jwill9311 on Flickr.

Hmm?

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Johanda Edge Nall wrote:

Copied from a friend……Love it!!!!

Checking out at the grocery store recently, and the young cashier suggested that I should bring my own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.” She was right about one thing — our generation didn’t have the green thing in “Our” day. So what did we have back then…? After some reflection and soul-searching on “Our” day here’s what I remembered we did have…. Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day. We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day. Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day. Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then. We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then. Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Perceptions

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A few days ago we had a few flakes of snow fall in our local area. I posted on Facebook that we all needed to run to Kroger’s an buy our five gallons of milk and three loaves of bread.That is a phenomenon that I will never understand. Anytime there is the slightest risk of snow people go to the grocery. One of my contacts posted “I used to laugh at people who went to the store because of snow. Then I experienced the blizzard last year when the boys were stuck home for two weeks and we couldn’t get to the store. i was pretty sure my children were going to turn into cannibals. Now I watch for snow in the forecast and run to the store.”

So okay. I admit there is a reason to be prepared for bad weather. People should go to the store if it is going to be bad for a few days. Now this would make sense to me if they were buying bottled water and canned goods and pantry staples. I am mocking the folks that buy milk and bread. I mean they are getting skim milk even. It needs to be full 4% milk fat to sustain you, people.

So the whole above thought process got me thinking of how people look at various situations in different manners. What to some people is a pleasant chance to sit at home with the kids or snuggle up in front of the fireplace with a friend can be seen as a dangerous risk to others. You know things like starting a family. can be the same. There are some people who see it as a chance to have a spouse and kids. Others see it as a chance to give up hope of achieving anything other than being a parent. But I digress.

It is very easy to see that two different people can witness the same events and have two different  versions of what occurred. Doubts and questions of “expert pressure” are not exclusive to America. That leads me to the true point of this blog post. Why do we continue to exact the ultimate punishment on people convicted of heinous crimes? Especially when that conviction is based on nothing more than eyewitness evidence. I am not defending people who are rightfully convicted of such crimes as child molestation or elder abuse or rape and murder. I know it is hard to not want to exact vengeance on these people. I will admit that part of me thinks we should bury them under the jail. The hardest thing about making prison visits is dealing with those emotions. I can sit with someone who has abandoned his family and neglected to support them. I can deal with an addict who has ruined the lives of friends and family. But those persons that have taken a human life or stolen the innocence of a child are difficult to sit across the table from and counsel. A large majority of them proclaim innocence and recently I am beginning to wonder how many are telling the truth.

We have come to trust Medical Examiners and coroners to give us the facts. Many of these people aren’t even doctors. This can create some extreme circumstances. There doesn’t seem to be sufficient oversight either. While some cases receive national attention, others fall through the cracks. Too many to list them all here. While in most cases of life, errors and mistakes can be overlooked, this is a place where it cannot. Even one mistake is too many when exacting the ultimate price. Despite great philosophical differences, supporters and opponents of the death penalty agree on one basic fact: the government should never put an innocent person to death.

While prosecutors complain of the CSI Effect and when juries rely too much on forensics there are going to be mistakes. In 2011, The Innocence Network exonerated 21 persons; in 2010, 29. When you look at those numbers compared to the number of 1,605,127 prisoners that state and federal correction facilities had jurisdiction over in 2010. But to the families of the wrongly convicted, one is too many. To society and the families of the victims, it should be too. Justice is not justice if it does not exact its penalties on the guilty and not the innocent.

What closure comes to a family at the execution or conviction of a person when it is later revealed that the conviction was in error. Are old wounds reopened? What happens to the state of normality that has returned to their life? Deeper, what happens to the sense of accomplishment of society in deterring crime and bringing justice? Much has ben said about the effects of wealth  on representation and I won’t, as a white male, attempt to explain the feelings of Blacks or Hispanics have towards the legal system. But when there are such biases possible and appellate courts fail to remedy wrongful convictions , how can we trust twelve jurors or one judge to hold the power of life or death over another human being?

Guardians

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Guardians by Elinay
Guardians, a photo by Elinay on Flickr.

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