Friday, June 16, 2017

Don’t forget your dad!

Are dads usually forgotten or underrated in contrast to moms? I know that Mother’s Day Cards sales are right up there with Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s day. I know that my mom was truly the center of my life because my dad was gone most of my ‘teen hood’ flying missions in Vietnam to protect his country and family. I was almost totally unaware of the type of childhood my dad was raised around. It wasn’t until after my mom’s battle with cancer over an eight-year period that I could better appreciate my dad’s passion to not allow the bad stuff in his life to color my life.

My mom was an attention getter who was fearless when it came to making new friends or being willing to see the stranger in need. My dad on the other hand was quiet, private but very thoughtful in a way that didn’t strike me until later in his journey with Dementia. My hope is to encourage all of us to better understand the different roles that moms and dads have to be more able to say I love you and some big thanks!! My dad was always a very positive person who grew up with a stepdad that was always negative towards him. Yet, I have no memory of my dad putting anyone down but was always there to help.

I will never forget towards the end of my dad’s life that a close friend from his military days came to visit. Little did I know that Bill D’s visit would give me a window into a dad I didn’t totally know. As my dad’s younger friend shared how my dad had walked alongside of him during a dark period of his life that he wouldn’t have survived as an aviator in the Air Force. I was totally taken back when Bill D sent me an essay he had written about my dad on his persistence and push for him to always pursue doing the impossible regardless of how long or how much effort it took. Simple message was to never give up!

Dads too often get a bad rap because they are gone because of work, yes today most moms work also and usually are the disciplinarian or enforcer. I have rebelled over the years with at times having to be the bearer of either bad news or ‘You’re Grounded!’ with my own kids. Yet, one the of the amazing gifts my mom gave me was to learn how to appreciate and love someone, i.e. my dad, who was very different from me. I inherited more my mom’s personality of being a people person and outgoing. Whereas my passion for learning and reading was clearly my dad’s DNA in me. Yet, as a kid growing up I saw my dad as this authority figure who automatically demanded respected but as I reflect on my kid pics and my life he was always there and was the one who provided the means and venue for us to have fun trips.

My dad chose not to TELL me what to do in life but instead walked with my personal journey as someone who encouraged and complimented me all the time. Looking back, I’m somewhat confused as to how he didn’t push me to go into the Air Force and serve our country. Yet, his simple and persuasive message was to be a quiet not attention seeking servant leader. He was someone who had a personal and quiet faith. I was too full of my new-found faith to notice that my dad was the one who took us to church, prayed with us and influenced my mom not to be too quick to speak out.

So, as Father’s Day approaches I will look at a lot of my dad pics and remember my childhood, teeenhood and now adulthood without him. Yes, it’s time to praise and thank both our moms and dads for the role they have played in my life!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Is the truth important anymore?

How is it possible that many believe that if you say something often enough that people and yourself will believe whatever you say regardless of whether it’s true? Why is our present cultural and societal setting so fearful of the truth? I know that most of us as little kids truly believed that if we just wished hard enough our dreams would come true! Has relativism really taken the place of truth that represents absolute facts? Is it possible to for someone of normal intelligence to buy into the proposition that truth is totally relative to the individual? So; what if I want to redefine mathematical notions and say that 2 + 2 now = 5 and not 4 is that really true? Is it possible to continually redefine truth or the lack thereof to benefit my life setting without any regards to reality?

Merriam-Webster’s definition of the truth:
a (1) :  the body of real things, events, and facts :  actuality (2) :  the state of being the case :  fact (3) often capitalized  :  a transcendent fundamental or spiritual realityb :  a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true truths of thermodynamicsc :  the body of true statements and propositions.

Recently, there was an article about the mayor whose city is on an island. He had been asking for help with the rising of the ocean around his little mass of land. According to the facts that island is losing 16 feet a year for some reason. It was rather interesting that our president contacted him because the Island was full of conservatives. Yet, the reality regardless of whether you believe scientific fact or not is the tiny island will diminish significantly over the years to come. Yet, our president seemed to make fun of this notion and say that the island will be here for hundreds of years to come.

So why does the truth matter? The real question is whether I believe if there is such a thing as right and wrong or morality? If there isn’t absolute truth than morals become questionable or the rationale behind laws or speed limits go out. Yet, I can remember in one of my philosophy classes something about Kant’s notion that it’s better to live as if God exists and follow his commandments or laws for the benefit of everyone? If truth is a body of knowledge, physical laws or mathematical equations then ultimately all will discover over time the consequences of what happens when you break the laws of physics! Most little kids have discovered the law of gravity is a truism as they jump off a tall roof believing that they can either fly or bounce up after hitting the ground.

I know that most have heard the phrase that the truth will set you free and make your life so much better. The downside of lying or promoting falsity is that you must continue to postulate falsehoods that require you to have an excellent memory. I know that in today’s science, philosophical and theological setting that the difference between fact, theory and absolutes is too often dependent upon my perspective instead of an absolute that is outside of my own life. The opportunity is to help others see that there are consequences to breaking laws regardless of whether you believe them to be true, i.e. don’t jump off the Empire State Building expecting to fly or if you’re going 100 mph and slam into a brick wall you’re ‘toast’.

So how do we discover and live out the truth? This is the more important question. Science would say that it has an ongoing work to reveal the laws of nature that ultimately are absolute. Much as people that have faith in God will go back to their ‘Holy Book’ which will define for them the truth about man, life and God.

Too often the avoidance of the truth is the attempt to not get in trouble for doing something that wasn’t too smart. The reality is that the truth that loving kindness can transform any life will impact and transform lives for generations to come.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Dive into Life! What inspires you to make a difference?

What defines your life? Are you in the bleacher seats of life or diving into the fray of crazy circumstances that at times are unpredictable? After having watched the latest version of Wonder Woman I know that there will be a lot of young gals wanting so much to take on the evils of the world. I love the images of young little Dianna trying to follow in the footsteps of her mom and aunt. Little did this young gal know that her future would impact the world and touch the lives of so many at least per DC!

This last week my inspiration was a grandma, Bernice who is 84 and a young college student, Noah who is 19. I have a difficult time answering the question of how old are you Dave? I’m so tentative because of having someone label me as being old. Yet, I laugh as I look at my 90-year-old father in-law who breaks the records for still engaging in life. Then there is my special friend Bernie. She is so impressive in that she can see my pics on Facebook of our latest event and then like, comment and repost often. Why is this octogenarian so able to engage and live her life to the max? I have to admit that her smile is so contagious and engaging. You can’t look at Bernie without being drawn into her life!

Each summer I get to relive my childhood as we do our Barrio Summer #17 presently. I’m so fortunate to have a group of college students who help-out. What’s always impressive is watching some of my interns that totally get it and dive into the lives of our kids and teens and others who are well intentioned but seem to be waiting for something to happen before they befriend a kid, teen or grandma. I think we’ve all heard the analogy of someone that talks about fishing, goes out and buys a reel, rod and even a boat. Yet, never actually ventures out to a canal, lake or the ocean. Why in the world would I go through the motions and never take a chance to catch a fish?

Yet, sadly too often I see frowns, excuses for why someone can’t do something and then as this person watches someone else go down the massive waterslide I see this look of WOW and then a hidden smirk of jealousy. This summer I’ve already been drawn into the fray as I have watched Noah, a totally new intern, dive into the action. He hadn’t gone tubbing before and was so willing to make it look so easy as he did different maneuvers that the boat load of kids, teens and college students clearly envied. So why does someone like Bernie and Noah make it look so easy to live life to the max?

I know that it’s so easy to allow fears, circumstances and labels to stop me from doing something different or take a risk and make a totally different friend. Yet, I will always remember the day at Candlestick Park watching the Giants play the Reds in the bleachers with a group of teens. Little did I know that day I would catch a home run ball by Barry Larkin. The ball seemed to go high into the air yet, little did I know that soon I would be fighting a big guy next to me who was chanting throw it back, throw it back. I was so fortunate to have a big security guard come to my rescue so I didn’t have to throw back the homerun ball.

So, dive into life, make a big splash and watch others around watch with a tinge of jealousy. So, make a difference today and be an inspiration to someone else.