Constitutionally Right

The only way to predict the future is to create it.

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Location: Yardley, PA (Bucks County), United States

Saturday, February 25, 2012

When What Matters Mattered - Philly Burbs

My journey back in time began with a random suggestion from a friend to see “Somewhere In Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour who spent much of the movie in the early 1900’s. There’s something about a time gone by that I can’t get enough of. My wife followed with tickets to “White Christmas” at The Walnut Theater and a race to the TV whenever the original version is on.

I also regularly view this 5 minute You Tube video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnQDW-NMaRs , of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” done in a way that exudes common decency. My satellite radio is almost stuck on Channel 4 – “40’s on 4” and no one moves when “The Waltons” are on.

I feel like I’m not alone in my quest for good values which seemed natural then and labored today. I can’t quite put my finger on it although maybe there’s some truth to the recent discussions about Presidential Candidate Santorum mentioning how Satan singles out America since we’re a beacon of goodness and therefore a perfect target. Someone also once said that “Every garden will be invaded” giving some credibility to Mr. Santorum’s theory.

Most people seem to be pretty principled, really, so what’s going on? The gap between us and our elected officials grows as government grows. Larger government replaces the personal responsibility, self-reliance and accountability that defines our great nation so what is it that drives this destructive growth?

Many carry on about politics founded on issues like abortion. To make politics about a procedure that dismembers an unborn child, crushes his or her skull and then shreds what’s left through a tube is possibly the highest level of depravity. That’s enough to flush anything else of importance down the toilet. Where does one go from there?

I even sometimes feel like Moses staring down from Mt. Sinai just shaking my head in disbelief. For example, the rabbi at our former synagogue, when living in New Jersey, hired some clown to kill his wife with a lead pipe and his replacement used the pulpit as a freak show of insanely radical left-wing hysteria. Much of the crowd here has also replaced God with a golden calf so the quest for spiritual enlightenment continues. I wonder if this is why 30% (or fewer) of Jews in America belong to a synagogue and why our numbers are dwindling/doors are closing.

Politics has probably always been obnoxious, but it’s simply too much a part of our lives today. There’s even a weird effort today to say that Republicans are opposed to contraception sneakily crafted by Lord Obama by mandating providing something even if it violates one’s religious beliefs. There’s no shortage of contraception. The real issue, in my view, is: How on earth did contraception become about politics at all? Another issue is: How do we reduce the number of morons in government?

Going back in time will hopefully reveal the future where the quagmire of a government gone wild is replaced by us. The only suggestion that I can make is to watch as many Bing Crosby movies as you can, embrace the greats of Big Band, immediately buy the Nat King Cole “Christmas Collection” and catch regular reruns of Lawrence Welk.

Get When What Matters Mattered into your head and the rest will just fall into place. Just try it for a day and see what happens. I promise everyone that “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

The Making of a Penn Stater - Philly Burbs

I was transported 30 years back in time while watching the Memorial Service for Joe Paterno from around midnight to well into the morning until turning off the DVR upon its completion.

There were a few familiar faces, but it was the environment that many spoke of that was most familiar; an environment that was at least in part created by Coach Paterno that extended way beyond the football field.

The selected speakers arrived at Penn State their freshman years as superstars and left as ultra superstars. The profound impact of their Coach was clear, but was there a similar effect on the average student throughout the campus?

My own story is a pretty common one. Many kids arrive to University Park pretty squared away. Others, like me, lacked a well-defined direction and purpose and were occasionally judgment-challenged. To be honest, I sort of cringe when I think back to the early days, but my friends assure me that I wasn’t too far from normal. I do still sometimes cringe, though, nonetheless.

Penn State and Joe Paterno are synonymous. I just have to give credit where credit’s due. His influence not only attracted a certain level of talent, but also encouraged it to excel under an umbrella of integrity and values that were new to me. It all converged to an apex of clarity and purpose once embraced and internalized. I actually remember the exact time and day of this epiphany that assuredly happens on a daily basis somewhere on campus as the endless examples of world-class performance leave their mark. The transformation is from participant/observer to achiever.

All colleges and universities have their culture and we have ours. It’s something that we all just know and cherish binding us into one massive grateful community of alumni.

I didn’t want the integrity training to end with graduation so just to ensure its continuance I pursued the most challenging military experience possible. Our initial training class lost 60% to failure of one kind or another, but the other two Penn Staters and I had a 100% success rate and we wore our Penn State pedigree proudly.

Once even while driving down Route 5 in California with my bald head and little car with its big Penn State sticker the PSU Volleyball Team sped up in a van with everyone literally jumping out of the windows at over 60 miles per hour. I really couldn’t believe that they were carrying on about me when it really should have been the other way around. I think it was because they saw me first.

But I wouldn’t be writing any of this if it wasn’t for the backdrop of charges and allegations. I can’t even repeat what I read in the various reports which would imply that others were also unable to grasp what was going on. I view the entire situation as one where no one knew what to do from start to finish. I know that I’ve also been in critical situations where I did the wrong thing or didn’t know what to do and all we can do is improve. It’s not criminal to be human, but many do seem to be pointing fingers everywhere except at the alleged perpetrator.

I wonder if it’s just human nature to try to increase our own moral barometer by attempting to lower one of a known height. If we must point fingers maybe we should look into a justice system that doesn’t make it any easier for a victim to step forward; particularly if those hurt are children. The whole thing goes beyond what a rational human being can comprehend and I don’t think we can hold an inability-to-grasp against someone. It’s nice and safe here behind our computer terminals, but none of us know the full extent of what happened.

What did happen, though, wasn’t right. Kids were hurt, inaction ensued and the wrong people were blamed. Nothing can take away the contributions of a good person whose heart of an angel now has wings to match doing even more important work with a proud family looking up along with countless others who also grew up under his careful guidance.

All we can do now is say “thank you” although he might say the same right back at the rest of us.

Why - Bucks County Courier Times February 15, 2012

The teaching profession attracts some of the finest people there are, but you’d never know it if you drove by a Neshaminy school while on strike. I had the horrible misfortune of driving by my alma mater (51 day strike senior class of ’81) of Maple Point on the last day of the most recent strike only to witness the most profound demonstration of unprofessionalism and moral sloppiness that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

But what kind of world have we created where only one teacher (out of 654 in Neshaminy) has addressed the oppression, intimidation and threats of this particular union by standing up for what’s right? The most important definition of a teacher, in my view, is that of a role model and up to 653 Neshaminy teachers have failed their students, community, themselves and the honor of their profession. Sadly, standing up for what’s right has become an anomaly in many arenas.

Kids are impressionable and respond very well to a good role model. They also respond to a bad one. Good role models generally wire a kid for independent thought, courage and achievement while bad role models promote the opposite result.

It would seem as though there’s not much one can do. Anti-social behavior is protected by state law which may take an Act of Congress to change. Our politicians unfortunately have the well-known similarities to diapers so there’s not much hope there.

I wonder how many good people became and stay teachers despite this environment vs. how many have been discouraged to enter this most noble of professions (or left) because of it.

The hope, then, would be with us. We have to lead by example and demonstrate the benefits of integrity, good values and leadership to others. Most importantly is to leave no question in a child’s mind that there’s an entire community (except for the teachers that throw them out of school) that cares a lot about them and is standing tall beside each and every kid. That there’s an amazing world of outstanding people (including every single parent who wishes nothing but the best) out there and to resist the example set by this crew masquerading as teachers.

Every child is better, deserves better and will find excellence by seeking what already exists within and we cannot allow anyone to take any of that away under any circumstances. They need to know that normal adults simply do not behave like this.

In the mean time I’m still a little freaked out by the (probably accurate) claims of vandalism and death threats to those who don’t tow the party line. Your ancestors who fled their homelands to get away from that sort of thing would be proud. So as my latest public service I’d like to make myself available to the cowards of Neshaminy who have yet to grasp basic American principles who still find it necessary to intimidate someone. Just be sure to practice falling down a lot beforehand.