[PART TWO] “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America

My Fellow Americans (see what I did there?),

I get a lot of views on this blog from people around the world. I just want to clarify that I don’t have a problem with people from other places. We are all God’s children. I admire aspects of other cultures. But I am proud to be an American, and I want to do my part to make it the best it can be. I think that that greatness will in turn make the world a better place. That being said, here are some recommendations for things that Americans can do for their country.

1. Buy American

From what I’ve heard, the most common reasoning for not buying American is the cost. If you buy things made in China or wherever, it may be cheaper, yes, but it still comes at a price. Commerce with other countries opens up the potential for reliance on other countries. I’m all about self-reliance, so I would think it would be better to be able to be more dependent on our own manufacturers, our own workforce as a whole, to generate the goods we need to get buy. Sure, it might cost a little more in the short term, but the nature of supply and demand and the capitalist system in general will drive prices down once we’ve make the investment in and the commitment to American Enterprise.

Also, you get what you pay for. In the triangle of cost, quality and time, you lose quality when you get it fast and cheap. If you’re willing to pay and wait, you can get something that will last longer. I don’t know why, but ballpoint pens stick out in my mind. If you buy a hundred cheapo stick pens, before long you’re going to wind up with a hundred cheapo stick pens that don’t work. If you spend the extra money on a pen and you keep track of it, you’ll spend less in the long run and you won’t have a pile of worthless pens laying around. I don’t know about you, but I hate when I pick up a pen thinking it’ll work and it doesn’t. It’s infuriating. Moving on.

The same goes for just about anything. Meat, produce, clothes. Support American Ranchers and Farmers. A word of caution on the clothes, though. I used to be a Levi’s man. They were the only pants I ever wore. At 6’5″ and 250 lbs. it’s hard to find pants that work, but for a while they were doing the trick. Somewhere in there, they stopped making them in America, or I began to realize that they weren’t being made in America. It was right around the time that the starting splitting in the crotch area after not having them for very long. Like I said, I used to be a Levi’s man. Now I wear Dickies. Born in Texas, made in Texas by Texans. Damn straight. 

Overall, just know what you’re buying, demand more from the producer, and buy American. I understand that you may not be able to buy everything and that nothing happens overnight. I also understand that there are many high quality items that come from other countries (Japanese knives come to mind), but just be more conscientious and explore an American alternative. You may be surprised what you can find. 

2. Complain Less

Nobody’s perfect. European countries aren’t perfect and they’ve been doing this a lot longer than we have. Our country isn’t even 250 years old and we’re still doing a damn good job of making it happen.

I know you probably don’t have everything you want in life. I know that things are hard sometimes and it seems like you can’t get a leg up. Trust me. I know this. But it’s not America’s fault and chances are it’s nobody else’s. Things happen. Choices are made and they don’t always work out. What are you going to do about it? Play the blame game or get back to work? If you get a flat tire, you fix it and get back on the road. Complaining about it won’t take the nail out or put the spare on. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

I saw some statistic recently about the amount of time the average person spends complaining each day. Like nine minutes. Imagine how much more you could get done if you spend that hour a week doing something productive. You could start a blog. You could do any of the Five Minute Betterment exercises on this blog. Or, if you’re really that unhappy about the way the government is doing something, you could 

3. Become More Active in Your Community

Get out there and vote.  Or if you don’t think the candidate can do the job well, run for office yourself. Get involved in a charity at your church or with a non-profit that services a cause you care about. Or just go meet your neighbors. Build relationships and get to know the people around you. Make a change on a small-scale. The little things add up and you could wind up a part of something even larger. 

The internet (invented right here in America) has redefined what the word community means.  It has enabled us to connect to people great distances away without having to leave out homes or our hometowns. There is information and communication at our fingertips that was unimaginable fifty years ago.

Used correctly and responsibly, the internet can be a valuable tool in helping us to find out more about the people and things and businesses and places around us.  You can use it to find people who feel the same way you do or find out more about something. 

4. Learn More About The United States

The history books aren’t always accurate, but a lot of times the truth is much more interesting. We’ve done so much in our short time as a country, you could literally look up the History of American Anything and spend hours learning about how and why it started, changed, grew, or even failed on this soil.

Find out more about the people that have done the things that interest you.  Connect with others with the same interests in your town, state, or other parts of the country. Take a trip to a local historical site or plan a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been. Learn about the good and the bad. Find out what Americans have done wrong and what Americans have done or can do to fix it.  Most of us wouldn’t completely write someone without knowing the whole story. So learn the whole story. 

If you learn all you can and you’ve done all you can and you still don’t like it here, 

5. Move away

That may sound harsh, but it’s true.  If you truly think you’d be happier somewhere else, then go there.  You’re an American and you still have the freedom to leave. Maybe you’d prefer somewhere where they have Universal Everything. Maybe you’d like a different climate, or Communism, or another language or culture. That’s fine. Go ahead and go. You have that freedom here and it’s a beautiful thing. 

– –

In the end, you deserve to be happy. You deserve to pursue your happiness, but no one’s going to give it to you.  So get out there and do something that’ll make your life better and make our country and most likely the world better if only a little bit.

Use your freedom but take it for granted. Work hard and reap rewards.

God Bless America.

Patriotically

Glass

Advertisements

[PART ONE] “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America

JFK.  Definitely one of my favorite presidents.  I did a nice homage to DDE a while back if you’re interested.  There’s just something captivating about the office of the President, and it’s always intrigued me.

I couldn’t be President, I can tell you that right now.  Definitely not in modern times.  All the news networks dissecting what you say and over-analyzing the minutia of your every action.  You know, it wasn’t always like that.  Sure, you’d hear him on the radio or see him on the TV, or read about him in the paper, but it didn’t seem so.. nit-picky.  People didn’t get their feelings hurt because they didn’t have time to. A hundred years ago, the world was in the throes of the Great War.  Fifty years ago was Civil Rights Movement.  This year?  The media is lambasting President Trump for getting an extra scoop of ice cream.  That’s not to say that there aren’t more important things going on.  THERE ARE.  But where is the attention paid?

Not totally unrelated, but the term ad hominem refers to a personal attack, or “attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.”  Apparently, there’s now a term called ad feminam  which appeals to prejudices about women.  Okay.  I’m going to come back to this, but there is something you need to know before I go on.  I am married.  My wife and I have two daughters.  We encourage them to do the activities they want to do.  Because this is America.  But they don’t get free reign over the whole house.  Because we’re still the parents.  Moving on.

I’d like to touch on another phrase now, from our very own Declaration of Independence: the Pursuit of Happiness. If you have time, I would suggest you Google the origins of the phrase. I know most people agree where Life and Liberty came from, but the old PoH is a more widely disputed nugget. Check it out. Life and Liberty are pretty straightforward in my mind. No one should end your life and no one should imprison your mind or your body.

These are part of the wealth of rights that as Americans are blessed with at birth. Rights that people in other countries aren’t. We can believe what we want, marry who we want, speak out against the things we don’t agree with, stand trial when we are accused of a crime.  The list goes on.  It is the government’s responsibility to protect those rights. But it is not the role of the government to provide.

I’ve talked about this before.  Charitable acts should come from charitable organizations. Not the government. When the government (or anyone else for that  matter) tries to make everyone happy, then no one is.  When the government removes itself from the daily and personal lives of it’s citizens, the citizens are free to, you guessed it, pursue their happiness. 

I know that the pursuit of happiness of not promised by the Constitution, but as a foundational and somewhat universal idea in our culture, I want to base the following notion off of it.  The PoH implies an action. Or rather, a lack of hindrance. The government will not stand in the way of you pursuing what makes you happy.  More importantly:

The government is not responsible for providing you with happiness.

Bold and italicized because I mean it. The government is too big and too focused on giving people things when we all were given one of the greatest gifts in the world: American citizenship. I understand that not everyone can break out of the situation that they were born into. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have the chance to. Hard work is a beautiful thing and it seems like a lot of people are more content to complain than to do something about it. See my previous post about hard work for examples. 

We take a lot for granted here and I feel like a lot of times we don’t give back. In fact, I feel like a lot of Americans speak badly about our Great Nation because they haven’t achieved their happiness. That’s not the government’s​ fault. And it’s not my fault either. Spend your time and energy not demanding what the government can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.  We’ll discuss next post what you can do for your country.

God Bless America.

With the rights granted to me as an American Citizen by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution I sign this

Freely,

David Glass

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Hello Old Friend,

It’s Holy Week again, a time of year that I’ve really learned to appreciate over the past several years or so.  Spring as a whole is a really powerful time of year in the Church, with Ash Wednesday and the Lenten abstention, then the progression of the Passion and Death of Jesus (Palm Sunday and Good Friday) and his ultimate Resurrection (Easter).  Add these traditions to the natural blessing of new birth among both flora and fauna, and it’s clear to see that this is the perfect time to revisit, restrengthen, resurrect one’s faith in God, however He might appear to you.

We went to Mass on Sunday and while I sat next to the three women in my life and turn palm fronds into crosses, I begin to feel something, an idea, an understanding, opening up inside of my mind.  While this blossom hasn’t fully bloomed, I felt like I needed to take it out of mind brain and put it on the page so that I can read and re-read and dissect it and hopefully reach more solid ground with it.

I’m not 100% sure how Palm Sunday goes in other churches.  I don’t remember it when we went to a Methodist, then Lutheran services growing up.  But I do know that when you go to Mass, there is a part where the story from the Last Supper through the Death and Burial of Jesus is read aloud and the congregation reads the part of the condemners of Christ.  We read the words that were used to condemn our Savior to death on the cross.  We play the part of the unruly mob.

It threw me off the first time, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me.  We are the descendants of the people who condemned Him.  They swore His blood upon their hands and upon ours as well.  It was humanity that wanted and needed the death of Jesus.  Not just because that unruly mob hated him and the things he was saying.  Not just because the wanted to silence a rabble-rousing do-gooder that spoke against the status quo.  That’s why they wanted him to die.  They, we, needed Jesus to die because it was laid out in Scriptures.  Our Salvation was dependent on the Resurrection and thereby the Death of Jesus on the Cross.  We, as Catholics honor a crucified Christ because it is in that moment that the Scriptures were partially fulfilled.  There is no resurrection without death.  There is no Christianity without the Crucifixion.

I feel it more and more each time Palm Sunday comes around.  I feel shame and guilt that people would betray and humiliate and degrade and falsely sentence Jesus and that they would try to feed him wine with animal bile and shove thorns on his head and make the whole of the affair that much harder to endure.  It’s hard to imagine being in that position.  Knowing the end result and enduring the punishment in the meantime.  Watching your closest friends deny and betray you.  Listening to the crowd yell for you to die because you tried to teach people to be good to one another and reject the evils of the world.  Enduring the suffering.  Enduring.  Suffering.  The Passion.

That’s what this whole post is about really:  the meaning of Passion.  That’s my Holy Week revelation for 2017.  You see, the word ‘passion’ derives from the Old Latin word ‘passio’ meaning suffering or enduring.  It’s a struggle.  Passion isn’t supposed to be easy or comfortable.  It should be a struggle.  Life isn’t easy or comfortable so the things that matter shouldn’t be, either.  I think that passion implies motion and force.  Passion is a river, not a lake.  It moves and flows and adapts and sweeps and crushes and propels and delivers and hinders.  Or perhaps it’s an ocean.  With depth and mystery.  I don’t know, I like the river because rivers have such a constant and powerful presence in the Good Book.

Passion is the journey more than the destination.  It gets you to where you need to be, where you’re called to be.  It’s the lead-up to the Cross, the Resurrection, the Salvation.  Take that from the Book and introduce it into your life.  Find what’s worth struggling for and embrace that struggle because it will lead you to your glory.  And don’t be afraid because God is with you, all the way.

 

Faithfully,

Glass

The Novel

Good morning,

I’ve been quietly working on a novel for the last several months. I’m not very many pages into it because it has become one of the most painful processes that I’ve encountered in some time. It’s semi-autobiographical and draws mainly from the period from my dad getting sick up to more or less when my second daughter was born. I’ve had it squirreled away, partly out of worry that it will show my humanity in a way that I’m not 100% comfortable with, but what’s writing if not terribly personal? I figured it’s time to let it breathe a little and maybe get some feedback. Only two people other than myself have had access to it so far. 

 Here is the first page or so. I’ve got a couple of working titles but for now let’s just call it

Room Full of Strangers

I was born in a room full of strangers.

The doctors, my parents, everyone a blur in the delivery room.  A world of unknowns beyond those four walls of which I was completely unaware.  This feeling is not one that I’ve always been able to identify, to confine or define.  However, in retrospect, it’s one that has always been there.

Me.

All alone.

In a room full of strangers.

I found myself most recently in a stranger-filled room the day my father died.  My wife was on a food run.  My mom was downstairs.  I discovered that a new inhabitant had taken up residence in the room I had left minutes prior.  A stranger with familiar, familial features.

Can it be? I thought, and for one, brief moment, my world froze in a solid silent vacuum as the reality of my dad’s lonely death seeped into my eyes and ears, my nose and throat, my pores.  Death, on tiptoes, stole the man I knew and loved and left in his place a strange, empty shell; someone new and unfamiliar.

Did I know this man, my metamorphosed father?  Of course I knew who he was once was.  In his previous iteration, he was there in the delivery room.  He was there in the emergency room when I broke my arm, the courtroom when I married my wife, every childhood bedroom that a sicker, younger version of myself occupied.  But then, now, in that moment, he is, was not that man.  In that moment, in that room where I watched him slowly grow older, sicker, more broken, he became a stranger once more.  A week later, a lifetime later, a lifetime ago.

The memorial service.

Were we remembering the same person?  Or so many iterations of one person?  The uncle, the husband, the businessman.  My father, my hero, my friend.  The people in that room that I’d met before were as strange as the ones I hadn’t.  Ah yes, I’d say, of course I know who you are.  Who, I’d think, is this person?  Thank you, I’d say, for your condolences.  Why, I would think, are you here?  I saw everyone there through melancholy lenses.  People changed by, dressed in, obscured by death’s cold hand.

Even I, my most familiar self, was not who I had been.  My reflection, a refraction.  My memories and perceptions hung at arm’s length in the rough-hewn obsidian remains of my soul.  Darkness?  No, no.  Darkness gives the illusive promise of a reciprocal light.  The graying world as I saw it seemed fake, painted, staged, wrapped in cellophane.  I could perceive in the corner of my eyes a barrier separating me from the rest of the world, like the lines around a moving cartoon, defining it from its surroundings and confining it to itself.

Confined to myself, to the what’s it called? Cortege?  The funeral procession, the line that defines those that belong to the living and those that belong to the dead.  I look to the left and a stranger is standing there.