Monthly Archives: August 2016

Colin Kaepernick’s rights and our reactions

Ultimately, whatever Colin Kaepernick does will make very little difference. He can stand or sit or kneel during the National Anthem and the 49ers, the National Football League, and the world will go on largely unchanged.

As for Kaepernick, the analysis I read this morning said that he’s likely to be the 49ers back-up quarterback this season. His skills, never among the best in the league, have eroded to the point where athleticism isn’t enough for him to start any more. And he’s making too much money to release.

It’s possible the 49ers will decide otherwise–that he’ll be on the outside looking in when the season starts in a couple weeks. NFL coaches hate distractions. Ask Tim Tebow and Michael Sam, two talented athletes who aren’t quite talented enough to be worth the distraction.

To be clear, I disagree with Kaepernick’s statement. As much as the coverage may hint a different picture, I believe the cops who shielded black protesters during the Dallas shootings are more indicative of the norm than a fat, bigoted, power-hungry sociopath with a badge. I believe that this country, like any other group of human beings, has issues with bigotry and intolerance. But I also believe that although we aren’t perfect, we’ve taken a long look inside and made some very serious commitments to change over the last fifty years. There’s change left, but we haven’t been collectively lazy or complacent about race and acceptance.

To be clear, Kaepernick has the right in this country to sit during the National Anthem. The First Amendment prevents this country from being the kind of place where you’re compelled from standing and pledging eternal fealty out of fear more than devotion.

Ultimately, Colin Kaepernick will move on–sooner than later if the quality of his play doesn’t change.

But the fact that he can make his statement and still be free–and that people can react to that statement and react to the reactions–that’s why I choose to remove my cap and join in singing when I go to sporting events, while also supporting his right not to.

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Unexpected signs of exceptional success

I think I know who posted the link to this article on my Facebook feed, but I can’t find it and be sure. The article is from Inc. magazine and it’s called 9 Signs You Will be Exceptionally Successful. There are a couple obvious ones–you ignore the 40-hour workweek; you have something to prove–to yourself.

But there are some that you wouldn’t consider in terms of being successful. Like the first sign–You find happiness in the success of others. As I write this, I’ve just taken my son to upstate New York to start school in a cool program in a major university so he can pursue a super-cool career and life. It’s easy to find happiness in that. I mean, he was excited enough to get up at 7:30 am the day we finished our drive in. How can you not find happiness in that?

But what about the success of the people at work? What about that person who gets the only slot you could’ve been promoted into–a colleague who is arguably equally deserving? What about that person who seems to have everything just come to them? Can you be happy when something new comes to them that makes them happier and more successful.

Envy is a deadly sin for a reason.

Or how about rule number 7–you view money as a responsibility, not a reward? In the context of the article, it means to flow the money back into your company, not into yourself. In a greater context, this is a counter-cultural idea. Most people do this to some degree. Just look at the plethora of Facebook traffic revolving around trips to far places and pictures of dorm rooms.

But what if the responsibility is deeper than that?

This is not a political point. I’m not saying you have a responsibility to give your money–as much as someone else decides–to the government, so they can better decide how it’s spent.

I’m wondering how your life, how the country, how the world would be different if we collectively viewed money as a responsibility, and not a reward.

If you feel like I’m wagging a figure in your direction, I’m wagging it in mine first. As a practicing Christian–and a mediocre one at that–this should be close to the top of my mind. After all, I don’t own anything, according to my faith. It all belongs to God. He just entrusts some of it to me.

But it’s not.

And this idea–this one awesome incredible idea–will take some stewing in my mind to come to completion on.

It’s a very cool idea I will consider deeply, even as I check my Powerball numbers.


Lochte, and Solo, and Douglas–oh my!

Ryan Lochte was a moron and a petty criminal. Hope Solo was a sore, sore loser. Gabby Douglas didn’t put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem during her medal ceremony.

Gasp! GASP, I tell you!

And a very large number of people took to their keyboards, by da-a-a-amn and dispensed the righteous indignation that comes when such things occur. And then more people took to their keyboards to express righteous indignation over perceived disparities in the righteous indignation. After all, Ryan Lochte trashed a rest room–TRASHED A REST ROOM, I SAY–when all Gabby Douglas did was not put her hand on her heart! Misogyny! White privilege!

Opera singer Robert Merrill routinely messed up the words to the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium–somehow not an issue.

And yet, of all these actions that have stirred up righteous indignation, only one of those sets of action–Lochte’s–was criminal. And that was relatively minor. No one deflated footballs. No one beat their fiance. No one killed anyone.

Look at this sore loser! LOOK AT HIM!!!!!!!!

The bottom line is that these people–these famous people–are human. They’re fallible.

Rest rooms get trashed. Lochte, I would hope, will pay for the damage he and his friends did. Beyond that, what exactly is the cause of the righteous rage? How were the keyboard warriors injured by any of these things?

Joe Walsh sang a song that seemed to glorify rock stars trashing hotel rooms! Where’s my Twitter app!?!?!?

More to the point, if you were one of the keyboard warriors, can you stand up to the standard you set?

Have you placed your hand over your heart every single time the National Anthem is played? Have you been a gracious loser every single time you’ve gotten your ass handed to you by a rival? Have you never engaged in a relatively minor criminal activity? (Uhhh, all those mailboxes didn’t exactly blow themselves up.)

Some opera singer named Enrico Pallazzo BUTCHERED the National Anthem at an Angels game once. I’m getting on Facebook about this!!!!!!

It’s really cool how social media can work sometimes. Really cool and meaningful activities get crowdfunded every day. Bad things have seen the light of attention and people have gotten justice who wouldn’t have otherwise seen it because of social media.

But beyond a gas station owner, who’s actually been harmed by Lochte, Solo, or Douglas?

Certainly not me. Or you.

In a society that’s starved for grace and acceptance, the zero-tolerance approach of social media justice warriors is quickly turning into the 21st century equivalent of a lynch mob, dispensing righteous anger first, then worrying about, you know, details and complexity later.

I’m not saying that these are necessarily good people. What I am saying is that in the grand scheme of things, these supposed sins are relatively minor.

Except in the realm of social media. And that’s increasingly scary.

Patron saint of the social media


The most destructive Litmus test

Family matters most, it’s often said.

Well, family and voting the right way in the upcoming presidential election.

Okay, to be honest, voting the right way in the upcoming presidential election, I guess, matters most.

According to this New York Times article, the election is having an impact in interpersonal relationships, including marriages. The article spends most of his time on the relationship between Dr. Thomas Stossel (John Stossel’s brother) and his wife, Dr. Kerry Maguire. Although they’ve been married almost twenty years, Dr. Maguire told her husband she would divorce him if he voted for Trump. Apparently, she was serious. And she’s not the only one.

In the American microcosm that is my Facebook feed–a truly scientific sample–there appears to be one, and only one, Litmus test on whether you’re a decent human being. Trump? Or Hillary?

Regardless of which of the candidates you might consider, there’s weighty, damning evidence against him or her. But that evidence doesn’t matter. Only the evidence against the other one matters. If the letter after the name is right, then the person is right.

And apparently, people of good faith can’t disagree on this matter any more. Even within the same family.

In this family, we care about the country. We care about fairness and making sure no one is left behind. We love America. We reject bigotry. We believe in Christianity and submit to Jesus. We care about people regardless of their religious beliefs. We never thought we’d have someone in our family who rejects what we believe in.

Holy cow, is it November yet?

This country was founded on the idea that you could disagree on politics, on legislation, even on who could be President, and still be civil and decent to each other. Christianity, the art of trying to emulate Jesus, demands it.

And yet here we are. increasingly drawn to a single litmus test. Trump or Hillary. The racist lunatic or the scheming should-be felon. You can only make one choice (voting for Gary Johnson is really voting for Hillary and voting for Jill Stein is really voting for Trump). And once you make that choice, you have to be–you have to be–all in.

If you care about the future of the country, you have to cast aside all else, because for this country, Trump/Hillary is the way and the truth and the life.

To be honest, it’s not Trump who scares me. It’s not Hillary. It’s not that these are our choices. Our system of government is set up to handle that problem.

What scares me is that this one question is becoming more important than interpersonal relationships. What scares me is that we’re increasingly interested only in news and information as an echo chamber. We seek the result we want and arrange the information to lead to that result.

What scares me is that we ridicule students at the University of Missouri for demanding a safe space, then turn around and do the same things in valued relationships, like friends and families.

Those things should be more important than Trump or Hillary.

Or, I guess, maybe not.


On not being a schmuck

My job allows me a lot of flexibility. For instance, when I have to get the car serviced, I can work from the dealership. I get flexibility and work doesn’t stop so my brakes will.

There were three tables in the waiting area, and I had one of them, laptop bag on the table because the lady at the next table–the tables were full–told me there were ants and I probably didn’t want them in my laptop bag.

So I’m on a call, explaining things about the new application we took live this week. I’m a patient explainer and I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it.

So this guy comes by and glares at me, backing it up with some fairly aggressive arm motions–not the Italian salute, though. Side note: I’d have respected him more if he’d used the Italian salute. I moved the laptop bag and asked if he wanted to sit down. After all, the tables were full.

“No. I just don’t want to hear any more of your shit.”

It’s been a difficult week. We took a new system live and there are a zillion questions. Also, for the first time in years, we’re out of implementation mode and the work’s been piling up and everyone wants to know when they’re going to get the other stuff they’re waiting for.

In other words, I felt an extreme need to channel Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Those, in fact, were the exact words I planned to use. I itched to use them. I thirsted to use them against this frigging schmuck who dared to frigging attack me for frigging nothing during a long and difficult frigging week.

Oh yes. I would have felt the sweet taste of vengeance in taking that rat bastard down. Oh, yes.

 

It would’ve been super easy. The release would’ve been awesome.

Except, that’s not me. I try to be someone who makes people think of Jesus better by my association with him. To Jesus, rule one is to love.

I’m not that good. I didn’t love that guy yesterday.

Well, maybe I did, the best way I could. And the best way I could was to not become the monster so the monster would not break me. (St. Bono, Peace on Earth)

Hi. I’m Bono. You are so lucky to be you so you can hear me.

Because I’m not Jesus, rule one for me is Don’t be a schmuck, a rule I’m fairly decent at keeping.

It’s super easy to be a schmuck. It’s super easy to see the other person as other. As the idiot who doesn’t support your candidate–the only acceptable candidate. The idiot who doesn’t agree with you on this important issue. The idiot who made your life a little worse for no good reason.

In reality, maybe that guy misheard something I said and it triggered a horrible memory. Maybe he was about to get hit with a repair bill that would hamstring his finances for months. Maybe his wife just died.

And since I couldn’t extend overt love to him, the best I could do was not be a schmuck.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to not be a schmuck. That said, I think it’s a good rule. I think it would be part of our collective rule set.

Finally, I love the Italian salute.