9/11

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9/11

For many of us, you don’t even have to say anything else. Just the mention of 9/11, and we can look at each other and find commonality and understanding. What a horrific day, followed by many days of uncertainty and questions. It’s hard to believe that thirteen years have gone by.

We all have our stories – where we were, how we heard, where we watched, and how we felt. They are seared into our memories. We don’t get attacked on our home field, but if we did, surely it would be a mighty army with all of the most advanced weapons systems. No. Just a few guys with box cutters riding on a few planes.

One of the most memorable things to me personally was how united the United States of America became in the days immediately following this event. Something rarely seen before, and sadly, after. We cared more for country that we did for party. We cheered for America rather than the candidate. This was just a taste of what patriotism could be like…and it felt good. I believe that’s why Barack Obama’s words were so appealing to us when several years later he said…

“Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

Oh, if that were the country we live in, but it isn’t. We are divided, and we even idolize and reward those who come along and incite the division. Today, everything is looked at through a racial filter. One political party can’t vote on legislation that might make sense because someone from the other political party presented it. Those who create and oversee our laws routinely break our laws. And if you dare mention the name of God in many arenas, then you are a small-minded bigot.

Think of how far things have declined since that day. While there was division among us before 9/11, a new “normal” has been established in our country since it. Everyone needs someone to blame for everything that happens in their lives, and because of that, we attack and malign those who give of themselves to support communities, states, and country. We have a mentality now that we are owed something by others, so instead of going out and earning what we have in life, we wait for someone to give it to us. We no longer can have a civil debate or offer differing opinions…oh no – that is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated. Freedom? Oh no…we are rapidly eliminating freedom. Ask yourself, am I now more free or less free to express my opinion? Ask yourself, is the press more free or less free to report unbiased news? Ask yourself, are you more free or less free to worship and hold to religious beliefs?

9/11 was a nightmare of a time in our country, but one of the lone positives that came was that we were just Americans. No other labels mattered. We were just Americans. As we remember 9/11 this year, we should ask ourselves what we want America to be. Are we pleased with the path we are on, or does it scare us? If it’s the latter, then what will you do about it? What will you demand from the people you elect? How will it change the way you interact and respond to others who disagree with you?

America: Unfree?

tape on mouth

Gay marriage. Abortion. Equal pay for women. Display the 10 Commandments. ObamaCare. Keystone pipeline. Gun control. Global warming.

Where do I stand on these issues? I’m not sure I should tell you. As it turns out, we have gotten to a point in America where no one can share an opinion or donate to a cause they believe in without another individual or group crying foul, labeling you with a harsh term, and asking people to fire you or stop doing business with you. Freedom of Speech is one of the foundational elements that this country was built on. We have always held to the idea that any of us can say whatever we want and the listener can take it or leave it. Of course, there are some rare exceptions to this – yelling “fire” in a movie theater, etc.

The news recently broke of the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, having to step down from his position because of the outcry of those who were offended that 6 years prior, he donated $1000 to a California Proposition 8 cause aimed to defeat those who wanted to legalize gay marriage. By the way, Barack Obama held the same point of view as Eich in 2008, so I’m sure he will be resigning soon as well, right? The effort to make Eich pay for his financial support was led by OKCupid – a dating website. They instructed their subscribers to make Mozilla aware of their outrage at making him the CEO. Keep in mind here, Eich has never been accused of any type of discrimination of gay employees or anything along those lines, he just wrote a check 6 years earlier to support a cause that another group was opposed to. Now he’s unemployed after 13 years of employment with Mozilla.

Is this a one time thing? No. We just recently heard endless reporting about Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. He was asked for his opinion of homosexuality during a magazine interview, and he answered with a deeply held and honest answer. I don’t for a second think that the interviewer was surprised by his answer…he likely asked him knowing what type of answer he would get and also knowing that the fire storm around it would generate lots of interest in the article and the magazine. He was right. Organizations were immediately calling for his firing because he dared to share his own personal beliefs and opinions.

Crystal Dixon, a former employee at the University of Toledo, was fired because she wrote a letter to the editor of her local newspaper disagreeing with the characterization of homosexuality being the same as a race issue.

Juan Williams, formerly with NPR, was fired because he gave a personal opinion that seeing people in “Muslim garb” made him feel uneasy on airplanes.

Johnny Cook, a school bus driver in Georgia, heard one of the students talking about how hungry he was because he was denied lunch at school because he owed 40 cents to his lunch account. Mr. Cook posted a comment on Facebook about it and was fired. He stated, ““This child is already on reduced lunch [program] and we can’t let him eat. Are you kidding me? I’m certain there was leftover food thrown away today. But kids were turned away because they don’t have .40 on there account. As a tax payer, I would much rather feed a child than throw it away. I would rather feed a child than to give food stamps to a crackhead.” The reason he was dismissed is that he openly criticized (to his personal Facebook friends and family members) the school district’s policy on these matters.

While losing your job is of great concern, more troublesome is the labeling of people with whom you disagree. We have seen routinely over the past few years that if anyone on the right disagrees with President Obama, it is often labeled as being racist. It couldn’t be that they just disagree about policy or the direction of leadership. Those on the right are quick to say that anyone who agrees with Obama is a Socialist, Communist, or a Nazi. President Bush was often portrayed at rallies with an Adolf Hitler moustache, a noose around his neck, or with gun sights targeting a shot to his head. Both political parties cry that there should be respect for the office of the President, but political leaders are often the ones who begin the labeling process.

If someone disagrees with gay marriage, then they are immediately labeled as a bigot. If someone takes issue with abortion, then they are sexist and perpetrating a war on women. Nevermind that for some, opposition to gay marriage and abortion are deeply held religious convictions. For some, these are non-negotiable beliefs and they simply cannot change based on popular opinions or polls. From the other side, these are very personal issues and likely reflect acts of hate that have been demonstrated towards them over many years.

America….we are rapidly losing our sense of civility, kindness, and tolerance. We no longer debate, persuade, or influence. Instead, we target, attack, mock and label. I’m curious, if we are only allowed to have a single opinion on the various issues of our lives – who gets to decide what acceptable is? If there can be no debate, if you cannot express altering opinions, then how will the best course of action for a group collectively or for an individual singularly be decided? What if there could be no debate or dissenting opinions in our past? We would still have slavery. Women wouldn’t be allowed to vote. Schools would still be segregated. Abortion would be illegal. Alcohol would be illegal. Prayer would still be allowed in schools. Times certainly change – but does right and wrong, good and evil?

Where are we headed? I’m afraid that if things continue as they are, our government will begin to dictate to us all what is acceptable and anything beyond that will be a crime. You may think that’s a good thing, but you likely won’t when they tell you that you must believe, support and verbally praise something that you vehemently oppose internally. This is what the leadership of Hobby Lobby are fighting right now at the Supreme Court. This is not progress. This is tyranny. America used to fight to defend countries that had this type of leadership in place…now we are becoming it.

Employees are cautious about sharing opinions in the workplace already. Now, they must also be afraid to have an opinion period, or to support any cause with which they agree. Is this really how we want to live? Are we really a free society?

Want to Honor Vets…Here’s How

Ron MacKayA friend of mine, Ron MacKay, posted his perspective on Veteran’s Day. His perspective is unique because of his background. He recently retired from active military service in the US Army and began a civilian career. I came to know Ron about a year ago as our daughters are the same age and played basketball together. He’s a stand-up guy with a love for family, God, and country. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him and like to hear his stories and point of view on things because his perspective is so different than mine. We agree on many things, but the lens that he looks through is very different than mine, as I have no military background.

After reading his post this morning, I asked if I could share it on my blog so others could hear his point of view. He graciously agreed.

 

Here is a glimpse of his background:

  • 3 years as a Platoon Leader
  • Senior Manager (Heavy Ground Cavalry Troop Commander)
  • Senior Manager (Headquarters Cavalry Troop Commander)
  • Consultant, US Army National Guard
  • Associate Professor at The University of Texas Army ROTC
  • Senior Consultant and Mentor (Team Chief and Combat Advisor)
  • Vice President of Operations (Operations Officer, 6th Squadron 9th US Cavalry)
  • Chief of Staff (Squadron Executive Officer)
  • Vice President of Operations (Brigade Operations Officer)

Undoubtedly, when he offers suggestions regarding the military and how best to honor them, he has the expertise and knowledge to make a solid assessment. So, here is what he offered this Veteran’s Day morning…

“Today I’m remembering all of those who came before me and being grateful for those whom I had the opportunity to serve with. It was a pleasure to serve.

Here’s 10 things America can do besides say “thank you for your service” on Veterans Day:

Donate. The Wounded Warrior Project, USO, Welcome Back Veterans, and The Fischer House are all great organizations worthy of your charitable donations.

Get to know a Vet. We aren’t all crazy, we don’t all have PTSD, and we all just want to get back to normal and move on. Some of us want to tell our story, some of us don’t, and some if us need to tell our story. But you’ll never know unless you ask.

Hire a vet. They may not have the exact skill set you may be looking for, but the overwhelming majority are disciplined, hard working, obedient, trainable, and most likely grateful for the opportunity. A small investment in them will go a long way in generating a loyal, hard working employee.

Hire a military spouse. The demographic of Military Spouse is the most underestimated career pool there is. There is no measure to their adaptability.

Be a mentor to a vet. Even if you don’t hire one, help out with coaching, resume help, and networking. We wore the same thing to work every day, so we have some significant wardrobe challenges, and we never had to do salary negotiations, so any assistance is appreciated.

Learn how to respect the National Colors. Act like the National Anthem is not a nuisance or inconvenience to you. Remove your hat, eyes on the flag, hand over your heart, and don’t fidget. The text/Facebook post/tweet can wait for three minutes.

Vote. Get involved in government and demand accountability from your representatives. A whole bunch of people fought so you could get the government you deserve.

Visit a National Cemetery and reflect. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anyone there, they are all America’s children who sacrificed so you could enjoy life.

Instead of worshipping a Kardashian, Bieber, Cyrus, Brady, Kobe, A Rod, Gosselin, Tupac, or any “Real Housewife” of whatever town, check out William Swenson, Jacklyn Harrell Lucas, Maurice “Footsie” Britt, James L. Stone, Bruce Crandall, Randy Shugart, Gary Gordon, Leroy Petry, and Clinton J. Romesha. Google it. These men are REAL heroes and their actions are worthy of your attention and respect.

That’s it- not too hard, right? Enjoy the day, and take some time to reflect.”

Thanks for your service Ron. We appreciate the many years that you committed your life, and the sacrifices that your family made, on behalf of the American people.