Putting our Heads Together

Putting our Heads Together
I don't think he sees me

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Give Me Understanding

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis
Recently a very good friend posted on Facebook the picture below. It compares the relationship of slaves to the Confederate War Flag to the relationship Jews in Nazi concentration camps had with the flag of the Third Reich.
It is effective in communicating the “true” sinister nature of the Confederate War Flag. However for most of the period of slavery in the United States, slaves first lived under the British flag, then the flag of the United States. The Confederate War Flag did not come into existence until the War Between the States. In fact the South had several flags during that time, and what has become known as the Confederate Flag was really not adopted as any kind of symbol until after the Civil War – at which time slavery was at an end.  I have no love for the Confederate Flag, but I don’t understand the posted image.
Another one of my good friends posted the following picture on Facebook even more recently. It points out that almost 3000 box cutter deaths have occurred since September 11, 2001, and that not one Democratic Politician has called for controlling this dangerous weapon.
I will accept at face value that both the number of deaths and the lack of legislation are true, but I still do not know what this has to do with gun laws. Even a casual review of statistics show that there are 2000+ violent deaths in America from handguns each year. This number is more than 10 times the annual number of deaths attributed to box cutters (and keep in mind the illustration does not say if it is total box cutter related deaths, or murders, or suicides, or accidents).  Also, there are likely many more box cutters out there than handguns.
What do these two pictures have in common?  They raise tempers rather than understanding. They are part of a disturbing trend to make points on passionate issues through fear mongering, misleading information, and misdirection. Facebook is not the only source of these tactics. They are played out on a grand scale on most political stages, and from a shock and awe starved national media. In my opinion it is the most disturbing remnant of September 11th - the amount of power that fear holds over a population compared to reason.
What has happened to true debate? Why has the issuance of facts been replaced by rabblerousing? When did it become fashionable to get a rise out of someone instead of leaving them better informed? Even having to ask these questions leave me feeling diminished, and it leaves me distracted from the understanding of race issues, violence, hatred, and war. Not that I alone could ever understand such things, but the reduction of issues to sound bites is not aiding in the attempt.
It would be easy at this point to let myself slip into rant invoking mass killings here, racist symbols there, and suppression of rights (religious, personal, 2nd Amendment, you name it). But this is not an attempt to grab some unclaimed piece of moral high ground as yet untouched on whatever the issues of the moment are.
The point is simply this: Morality and doing what is right are unfortunately not easy to define or enact. Trying to is only made harder; or indeed impossible, by raising tempers rather than awareness. I don’t have answers, but I want to help look for them. I don’t nearly know everything, but I would like to learn and grow as much as possible. I am not immune from hate but I do prefer love. Why can’t we get back to raising the level of debate in American, instead of simply raising the level of rhetoric?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Clubberin’ Time in Heaven

I have never been shy about letting anyone who asked (and not a few who didn’t) know, that I am a long time professional wrestling fan. My brother Chris and I cut our teeth on it when there were no mega organizations, only collections of affiliated regionals. We would live for Saturday airings of Mid-Atlantic and Georgia Championship Wrestling brought to us with the commentary of Bob Cawdell, Jimmy Crocket, and the legendary Gordon Soley. From very early on, one of our favorite wrestlers was “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He died today, and I would like to remember him.
Even during the ‘70’s when chiseled bodies were the exception rather than the rule, Dusty stood out for a form that if taken at face value was not athletic in the least. He often made comment that he was not the ideal of an athlete in appearance. He knew what he looked like and was not ashamed, and through prowess, hard work, and unequalled mic skills no one ever judged him on form, but only on accomplishments.
Physically he could go toe-to-toe with anyone. Unlike today when a match is five-to-fifteen minutes long and an “Iron Man Match” goes an hour, he would routinely give all of himself for 60 minutes a night, multiple nights a week. His feuds were physical, sometimes bloody, and always legendary. I recall great bouts against Ernie “the Cat” Ladd, Abdullah the Butcher, the Anderson Brothers, Blackjack Mulligan, the Iron Sheik, Ivan Koloff, Harley Race and so many others. And nobody that has followed the sport as long as I have could forget the storied number of years that he and Ric Flair went at each other.
What made Dusty so great, so memorable? His charisma. It is as simple as that. His eyes were always shining, he could go from a smile that enveloped the world, to a scowl that would send lesser men to cower in the shadows, and he had a sing-song way of talking (with body language to match) that would draw you in, lift you up, and send you crashing to mat as if you were the victim of his famous bionic elbow. The English language had nothing on Dusty, and could do nothing to contain him. Whether he was talking about kickin’ someone’s “booty,” talking about giving a good “clubberin” to a foe, or setting the stage for the “slobber knocker” to come, with a sly wink he had us from hello.
Dusty started his career as one of the most hated villains alongside long time tag team partner Dirty Dick Murdoch, and sored to become one of the sport’s greatest heroes. In later years, he was touted as the son of a plumber, champion of the common man, but Dusty spoke for and wrestled for everyone. He was old school from start to finish brandishing a forehead deeply scarred from years of “blading,” and a body that still remembered how to boogie in the ring until the day he passed. Dusty, you never backed down from a challenge, or showed an ounce of fear, and until the end you entertained us as only you could. Farewell.
This was simply Dusty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GuPfpgr0c0