Tag Archive: Do No Harm


And the good old days
They say they’re gone.
Only wise men
And some new born fools
Say they know what’s going on.
But I sometimes think the difference is
Just in how I think and see
And the only changes going on
Are going on in me.

~ Changes, 1973, Harry Chapin ~

In my younger days as a consultant, I would charge off into the world, serving as one of the few ‘hired guns’ that would bail clients out of sticky situations, regardless of whether the client was good or bad. As my former boss would say, “Some of our best clients are our worst clients.” I never overthought it. I would show up, work hard. Sometimes, I didn’t know the endgame. Other times, I did.

Life was a constant ever cyclical season of waves. Like a weather-beaten sea captain, I never gave fear center stage. In the still of the night some years ago, I silently confided: I never feared the surface, but I thought long and hard of the devil underneath. Storms would come, toss the boat, bang your insides, and then … calm.

And just as the Buddha predicted, everything changed. From top consultant, no tumor, to patient … Patient ID: H78 . . . blah, blah . . .blah, blah, blah.

In the 90 days since, there are times when I’ve felt very voiceless. Pre-tumor, my weapons of choice, i.e., my medical knowledge and knowledge of the medical proved defenseless against my body. Now, doctors and nurses play high-stakes chess within the confines of my bones as I remain simply a witness.

There are some positives. I’ve had the opportunity to revisit and evaluate several facets of my life. There are all the usual priorities one normally debates: family, careers and other relationships. For me, I was able to look past the disease itself and found transforming truths. First, never take life for granted. Second, love better. Third, I don’t know all the answers. Fourth, there’s significant joy in learning to let go.

I wish to focus on the fourth, letting go, for a moment. It’s hard to believe my blog has lasted over seven years. To date, I’ve listed over 600 blog posts. Throughout my last seven years, I’ve focused on making amends. A May 2012 blog post recorded:

“. . . success of one’s faith might be found in the value of your morals and the willingness to make amends, even when that test may be so brutally honest and painful. I will say this up front; my Atonement List has twenty-six (26) severely painful situations requiring amends, including:

    • The Catholic Church, for all my mortal sins;
    • The only love of my life ~ for whom God called us and I broke your trust;
    • Former boss for violating my position;
    • Financial mistakes; and
    • Mother and Father, for not being the son you could honor.

Twenty-six (26). That’s quite a list–almost one for every year I have roamed the corporate world. I felt an obligation to honor the Atonement List. I researched and contacted all of the people I could. In some cases, the outcome was exceedingly painful. Seven (7) of the twenty-six (26) refused my amends, including the Catholic Church and my love. Eleven (11) forgave me. Four (4) couldn’t be located and four (4) others are a work in progress.

Those numbers haven’t changed in seven years. The only thing that changed, was me.

I told my case manager this past Thursday that I awoke earlier this week and found myself forgiven–the deck was cleared–my sins forgiven. I told her, it was not a ‘faith,’ but rather a ‘knowing.’ I simply knew it. My life is nearing a plateau, maybe its crescendo. And I believe that’s it, some ‘thing’ is coming.

And I feel that something’s coming, and it’s not just in the wind.
It’s more than just tomorrow, it’s more than where we’ve been,
It offers me a promise, it’s telling me “Begin”,
It’s something worth believing in.
~ Remember When the Music, 1980, Harry Chapin ~

‘Begin.’

CancerTuesday night, while addressing the crowd at President Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff rally in Orlando, Fla., the president’s eldest son called out Biden for his decades in Washington as a lawmaker and vice president, questioning why he had not pushed to find a cure before.

“What was the good one last week? Remember? Joe Biden comes out, ‘Well, if you elect me president, I’m going to cure cancer,'” Trump Jr. said. “Wow, why the hell didn’t you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?”

Hours later, President Trump kicked off his reelection campaign by promising to cure cancer, land on Mars, etc.

We will push onward with new medical frontiers. We will come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases—including cancer and others and we’re getting closer all the time,” President Trump said. “We will eradicate AIDS in America once and for all and we’re very close. We will lay the foundation for landing American astronauts on the surface of Mars.”

Guess how many forms of cancer there are? Over 100.

My thoughts? In case you’re in a rush, Walgreens doesn’t have it. Curing cancer will be exremely difficult since there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. This makes it very difficult to say that an approach for one form of cancer will be adaptable to all. Whether or not a cure for all cancer types is feasible is a matter of strong debate; although promising studies are continually published and covered by the media almost every day.

Then again, Trump:

  • “[is a] Very intelligent person;”
  • “I do get good ratings.”
  • “One of the great memories of all time.”
  • “I’m a very stable genius.”
  • “I went to an Ivy League school. I know words. I have the best words.”

As a Buddhist, Trump’s statements are directly opposed to the concept of ‘Ahimsa.’ Ahimsa is an important spiritual doctrine shared in many faiths. It means ‘non-injury’ and or ‘non-killing’. Trump’s statements are nothing more than false hope.

Therefore, don’t line up at the Walgreens any time soon.

Accountability

This past week, former school resource office Scot Peterson was arrested. We the citizens, we the country, former officers, legislators and parents of the victims willing vilify Peterson. For taking cover rather than confronting the killer, Peterson has been branded a coward, nationally heckled and vilified.

We vilify Peterson for failing to confront the Parkland school shooter, his retirement, his pension, and his life. As such, Broward County prosecutors charged Peterson with seven counts of child neglect with great bodily harm, three counts of culpable negligence, exposure to harm, and one count of perjury.

Damn it. Peterson’s responsible.

“He should rot, that’s how I feel,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was on the third floor when she died. “My daughter was one of the last to be shot. My daughter absolutely could have been saved by him and she wasn’t.”

“If Scot Peterson had done his job my son would be alive today,” said Linda Schulman, Beigel’s mother. “One hundred percent had he done something, the active shooter would not have made it to the third floor, had he done his job, instead of standing outside like a coward.”

How many are so positive their child would be alive today if Peterson acted remains unclear. But they’re positive.

“My heart is just beating because we’re over a year here and this is just now happening,” said Gena Hoyer, mother of 14-year-old Luke, who died in the shooting. “This is long overdue.”

“He needs to go to jail and he needs to serve a lifetime in prison for not going in that day and taking down the threat that led to the death of our loved ones,” said Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter, Alyssa, 14, also died that day. “It was his duty to go into that building and to engage the threat, and he froze and he did nothing.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow, 18, was killed, also on the third floor. “Accountability is all I wanted, and now it looks like it’s happening.”

Accountability?

I am not a supporter of Peterson. If he failed, he failed. If he perjured himself, he should face the consequences. However, after we’re done staking this man to a cross, we need to take that same passion and convict ourselves – each and every one of us. We are just as responsible for every dead person, from Columbine to current. We can’t stake decades of pain upon one man.

If we convict him, we have to convict ourselves. Allow me to explain.

Since the Parkland shooting in February 2018, over forty school shootings have occurred. In the minutes and hours after Parkland, Florida shooting, politicians began what has become something of a grim ritual: offered “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and deflect.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimated that during the 2016 election, the NRA and affiliates spent a record $54 million to secure Republican control of the White House and Congress, including $30.3 million to help elect Donald Trump.

The NRA funneled more than $1 million to re-elect Senator Marco Rubio. John McCain garnered $7,000,000. Burr received $6.9 million. Blunt hauled in $4.6 million. Garner got $3.8 million. And so on, and so on and so on.

However, Americans elected Rubio, McCain, Burr, Blunt, Garner and so on, and so on and so. We accepted prayers from the masses, said it sucks and moved on.

NBC estimates Americans own an estimated 15 million AR-15s. Of the 340 mass shootings between 1966 and 2016, at least one handgun was used in 76 percent of events, compared to less than 30 percent of events that involved any rifle, not just those categorized as assault-style. Assault-style rifles in particular were present in 67 of the 340 shootings (20%).

In fact, since 2007, at least 173 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States involving AR-15s, according to a New York Times analysis. The grim list includes crimes in Newtown, Conn.; Las Vegas; San Bernardino, Calif.; and now Parkland, Fla.

When we’re done vilifying Peterson, I hope God holds a mirror to our faces and publicly states:

“How about it? How many would be alive had YOU acted?”

‘All In’

According to Reuters, when choosing a flight, U.S. fliers apparently prefer ticket prices over air safety. In fact, recent safety issues of the Boeing 737 Max had had little impact. Only 3 percent said that aircraft or model was important when buying a plane ticket. In contrast, 57 percent said ticket price was critical.

However, Southwest Airlines passengers expressed concerns on social media after confusion over on-board safety cards led passengers to think they were flying on a Boeing 737 Max. In reality, Southwest had already grounded all 737 Max airplane and stated the safety card used can be used for more than one plane model, adding that safety procedures for the 737 Max and 737-800 are identical.

In other words, up to the point of takeoff, people were more concerned about. Unfortunately folks, at that point, it’s too late. You’re ‘all in.’ You’ve succumbed to fate.

In American usage, the phrase “all in” began as a colloquial expression meaning to be in a bad spot—exhausted, worn out, and spent. In the game of poker, it refers to the moment when a player—whether out of bravado, recklessness, or desperation—bets all of his or her chips on a single hand. The all-in moment in poker is a thrilling win-or-lose-everything crisis of dramatic clarity: you’ve wagered all you’ve got, giving your fate over to the cards, and you can’t go back out again.

“Can you drive me to my car? It’s late and I parked in an unsafe area after dark.”

“Why didn’t you park in the parking garage across directly across the street?”

“Well, the garage costs $90.00 a month,” she paused.

“And you didn’t want to pay $90.00 a month?” I interjected, finishing the sentence.

“Correct.”

Knowing the position she has at the firm, I’m fairly confident her annual salary nears $120,000 annually. Roughly speaking, she bet her life on $1,200 savings, a smidgen less than 1% of her salary.

“So, you placed savings above safety?”

“Huh?” she quipped.

“You bet personal safety for less than 1% of your salary?”

“Hey, don’t jinx me,” she snapped. Continuing, “You’ll be responsible if I get hurt.”

“Yes, I will feel bad if you get injured. However, you went ‘all in,’ not me'”

History will tell you that going all in is often a spectacularly bad idea. In life though, it seems all good. In life we hope many of poker’s words and phrases bring forth a sense of romance and drama that break the normal mundane activities of life. in many cases, we simply want to up the ante.

In life, almost everything contains some level of risk; the key to success is to identify an appropriate risk tolerance and then manage the that tolerance. In some instances, this may mean avoidance of any loss is appropriate, but in others moderate losses may be tolerable. In my friend’s case, there’s appears to little reward in gaining less than 1% reward. Sure, should she live that same routine over a decade, the reward would equal nearly $12,000. Then again, a decade of wages would net $1,200,000. The risk reward remains at 1%.

Going ‘all in.’ Wagering everything for the 1% is why Vegas almost always wins.

Pretty stupid.

A ‘No’ Man

As a consultant, I’ve had the privilege of traveling across the world and serving well over 1,500 clients, from CEOs to company Vice President’s, Senior Directors and managers. Yesterday afternoon, a CEO called and asked if I could join him for a drink. We met at a local Irish bar that both of us has, at one time or another attended.

“Sorry for calling on short notice. I needed to vent,” he said after ordering a beer.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Had an HR meeting two days ago over an alleged sexual harassment claim.”

“And,” prompting him further.

“Well,” lowering his head and staring at his whiskey. “A female employee claimed harassment by our Sales VP.”

“Well,” I sighed heavily. “I’m sorry.”

“Wait,” he interrupted. “She claims a year ago that the offending employee ‘winked’ at her.”

“Winked?”

“Winked,” he offered. “But under questioning, it turned out not to be a wink, but a ‘raised’ eye brow?”

“What the hell is a raised eyebrow?”

“Have no clue,” he muttered. “Have no clue. The entire management team was in the sales meeting and she claims he raised an eyebrow to her. And she felt violated by this.”

“Anyone else see this?”

“Oh hell,” he pounded his fist. “We were all there. And not a single one of us saw what she was referring to.”

A long pause swallowed his long face.

“Our Sales VP called today and resigned – claimed he felt humiliated.” He momentarily starred through me. “Where is all this going?”

By October 2018, the #MeToo movement derailed over 200 careers. As I’ve said before, most of those men needed to go. In nearly half the cases, the replacements were women. Joe Biden may be the latest casualty.

However, one unintended consequence, executives and analysts say, companies seeking to minimize the risk of sexual harassment or misconduct appear to be simply minimizing contact between female employees and senior male executives.

Most of the consulting firms I have worked with have told me that they will avoid going to dinner with any female employees, or that they’re concerned about deploying a women and men consultants onsite. People are concerned and have questions.

The CEO I had a drink with openly admitted to becoming a “No” man. He simply says no to most meetings. He ran off a business list to which he says no.

“If there’s a meeting with a female employee, I intentionally broaden the issue so I can include as many others as possible.”

“Having dinner at restaurant ABD. Want to … “No, thanks.””

“Going for coffee. Would you like … “No thanks.””

“Lunch at … “No thanks.””

“Grabbing a beer at … “No thanks.””

“Ordering tickets for the hockey game … “No thanks.””

“Texting female coworkers … “No thanks.””

“College internship programs … “No thanks.””

“Business Travel … “No thanks.””

“I grabbed a rental car, what to share … “No thanks.””

“Stay at the same hotel … “No thanks.””

“Same flights … “No thanks.””

My CEO friend placed a palm against his forehead. “My God. I’ve become a “No Man.

He is not alone. Lean In partnered with SurveyMonkey to look into the possible negative effects of the #MeToo movement for women’s advancement. Promoting mentorship is one of Lean In’s key priorities. Nearly half of male managers they surveyed reported being “uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.” Senior men were five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior level woman than with a junior level man.

More recently, the MeToo movement has been credited for canceled office holiday parties, radio stations refusing to play the classic song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” after many claimed that the singer is trying to persuade a woman to stay with him by offering her a drink and company wide trips.

Thus, while it’s critically important that women who’ve been assaulted are heard, we cannot forget about the fundamental right to due process that our great country was founded upon. As Op-Ed writer David Oscar Markus noted:

If it’s the subjective feelings of the accuser that we prioritize over the intent of accused, then we will have flipped our presumption of giving the benefit of the doubt to the well-meaning. We will also put at risk coaches and teachers who encourage their students with a reassuring pat on the back. The same for business colleagues with a handshake. What’s next, criminalizing the close-talker? The list goes on. Let’s not send the message that there is to be no touching at all without fear of false accusation that it was “uncomfortable.”

Unfortunately, the side effect of men getting intimidated by the #MeToo movement won’t serve women well in neither the short term nor long term.

The real change will only occur at the grassroot level, which, in this case, is each one of us. However, I fear the only real change is that more men will become “No” men.

I had a followup appointment with my physician yesterday. Having worked in the medical industry since 2006, I envisioned the nurse who performed intake returned to the Nurse’s Station saying, “He’s still alive.”

In many hospitals, nurses usually have ongoing office pools for all sorts of weird things: football, baseball, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, the length of Nicholas Cage’s marriages, the number of months between McDreamy’s, and ETOH. In medical terms, ETOH is alcohol. All alcohol has an Oxygen (O) and Hydrogen (H) molecule (thus the OH at the end of the term “ETOH.”) In other words, I’ve seen medical clinicians bet on the intoxication level of DUI’s dropped at the door.  So, I just presumed they wagered whether I would return, and if so, what condition.

Yet, I survived.

My physician eased through the door. A tall Ukrainian woman with a beautiful personality and general concern for her patients. I envied her – not from the aspect of pure beauty alone, but her ability to ease through doors. She moved effortlessly, glided past chairs and bed posts. Seamlessly pushed her coat aside, she sat in the chair next to me.

“I’m glad to see you.”

“Me too,” I replied with a smile.

“Well, any changes from the visit?” she queried.

“No,” I noted while briefly looking down.

“Meaning, you still feel like shit?” she smiled.

“Oh yeah,” I smiled back.

“Well, I got you an MRI appointment in this century,” she laughed. “Either someone found another MRI facility or (winking silently), they no longer require one. Thus, they slipped your name in for the end of April.”

“You mean, April 2019?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow. I feel special.”

“Whatever happened, I think you’ve stabilized. But remember, you’ve been diagnosed as a walking time bomb. So, don’t do anything stupid until we get some better ‘Art Work (imaging photos).’”

“So, no scaling cliffs, paragliding or alligator wrestling.”

“Hmm,” rolling her eyes, “alligator wrestling is ok.” A brief pause. “I will do the best I can for you. We all will.”

A brief tear of honesty dribbled the length of my cheek. “Dang dry eye,” brushing it aside.

“A nursing aid will come in and get you out of here, with a request to draw some blood and get you back in next week.”

“See if you can find my odds for next week. Maybe I’ll buy a square.”

She laughed, “Be nice to her.”

The nursing entered with a cart. I contained my paperwork, one needle and vial.

“Ok.” She started. “Which arm?”

“For what?”

“For your Zoster (shingles) vaccine.”

“What for?”

“Our computer says you need the vaccine.”

“Well, I find it humorous, that I could die at any moment while as computer simultaneously says I need a vaccine.”

“At least you won’t die from Zoster.”

“You’re teasing right?”

“Nope. You’re not leaving until you get this vaccine.”

“Frriiiscncddfkw, ffrrrummmp, frump,” I mumbled.

“Oh,” and the computer says your BMI is too high. You need to get some exercise.”

“I can barely walk 60 yards without pain now. Can I take up jogging?”

Realizing the unforced error, “Sorry, just reading the printout.”

“Frriiiscncddfkw, ffrrrummmp, frump,” I mumbled.

Just prior to walking out, the receptionist yelled.

“Hey. You’re at 93–1.”

Smiling back, “I’ll take a square.”

“Next,” Sheila called.

The African American woman was a beauty. At five-foot 7 inches, neatly tucked hair, smooth complexion and deep black eyes gave way to a wonderous smile. I placed my phone face down on the electronic reader. “Bobink,” sound the familiar signal while simultaneously lighting green.

“Thank you sir,” Sheila replied.

For Sheila, this common interaction probably plays hundreds time a day. In the several hours prior to my flight, I watched Sheila from my gate, interacting easily, with a level few could exhibit. In wake of burning hours and no salary, she continued to perform her job.

Sheila is a TSA Agent.

I’ve never met Sheila. More than likely, I will never see her again. In prior flights, this interaction would have been greeted with a warm simile and quick hello. Truthfully, TSA agents like Sheila would remain unnoticed. Yet today, I was in the ‘moment.’ I quickly grabbed my stuff, looked her in the eye, and complimented her for all her effort, even in spite of an ongoing government shutdown share all facets of legislatures willingly play chicken.

I’m confident President Trump will never meet Shelia. I don’t believe he would care enough to go out of his way to engage her in any meaningful conversation. I presume Trump only revels in a game of win at all costs – never back down, never surrender. In Trump’s mind there’s only one path to this shutdown – it’s victory. Complete and unconditional surrender.

Objectively looking, there are two wars. The White House have drawn battle lines on many fronts: internally, with the GOP and of course with new House leadership. Each war increases the number of victims, often termed as collateral damage. People become fractured. Friends become enemies. And battle hardened leaders must address a war never imagined, one of the heart and soul of America. Trump’s war can only be won through fortitude, unity, coherent messaging via Twitter and the willingness to fight.

Shelia experiences a far different war. She’s not out for accountability. Neither does she search for blood. Her war involves keeping millions of travelers safe. Finding weapons, suspicious packages and other illegal items is a minute-by-minute battle, fought on the front lines in local airports.

However, in the midst of this shutdown, she’s required to fight hunger as coworkers fight homelessness. Maybe she’s denying herself required medication. She forgoes an electric bill payment, a school payment, or a mortgage payment. The battle is on all fronts and extremely complex.

On January 11th, on the 21st day of the shutdown, TSA agents arrived at work with the painful reality that their biweekly paycheck would not arrive. Many government employees live paycheck to paycheck. Yet TSA agents, like many other government employees are required to work. And still, Sheila can smile. She treats every passenger with respect and dignity.

I am not sure if my words made any difference to Sheila or not. But I stoped and said:

“Thank you so much for all you do. I know you’re going through a difficult time. I just want to say thank you.”

Sheila is one of many selfless employees who are the heart and soul of America. They deserve better. America deserves better.

Get Past Dog

A friend of mine visiting her home country was staying at her sisters’ and called me at just the right time.

I can’t believe it,” she muttered.

Believe what?” I inquired.

My sister is just like my mother.”  Continuing, “She is constantly telling my nephew how much everything costs. She’s teaching him the exact same thing she taught me. I hate it.”

I see,” I noted. “Maybe? Just maybe? He’ll be able to grow past it. That, just because he is experiencing this today, doesn’t mean he can’t overcome it.”

Frustrated, she lashed out, “No. He’s just like a dog. He’s learning only what he’s trained.”

Yeah. Maybe.” I noted. “But maybe just like other kids today, he’ll become resourceful, interact with others and become something better than that being taught.”

No.” she replied. “Impossible. He’s only being groomed into being guilted into caring for his mother.”

But maybe ….” Pause.

Click.

If you want to make a call …

She hung up.

The messages children learn are powerful, with most being planted before we discover the capacity to challenge and reject them. Such a message is found in Harry Chapin’s song Flowers are Red, released some 40 years ago.

In the song, Chapin offered a warning to those who would abuse privilege. As such, a little boy is delivered to school full of life. He sees a world full of colors with no rule as to which should apply to what. The crayons dare him to draw. The teacher intervenes for the boy’s “own good,” as she’s seen this before. It’s bad. A child’s view of a world offering flowers of different colors brings only trouble. Eventually, the teacher punishes the child until he surrenders and tells the teacher that “flowers are red, and green leaves are green.”

The last stanza of the song indicates the child moves to a new school. A new teacher claims ‘… painting should be fun. And there’s so many colors in a flower, so let’s use every one.” However, one student paints flowers only red and green. When asked why, he quotes his previous teacher.

“… flowers are red, and green leaves are green. There’s no need to see flowers any other way than the way they’ve always have been seen.”

The point I was trying to make was that we must get past children being nothing more than trainable dogs. Yes, maybe her nephew (and her sister) are having a difficult time. However, there should be nothing that summarily dictates the future – that our current opinion of any child should not become that child’s life.

Instead, maybe life has a different, yet unseen purpose. Maybe, her nephew will cure some form of cancer, become a recognized mathematician, create a solution to global warming, write great novels, a wonderful chef, an honest and trusted business owner, husband, lover and father. The possibilities are endless.

Enthusiasm should be our vehicle for education and love. As a Buddhist, I believe Chapin’s real message might better be directed toward the second teacher. Will the second teacher give up? Can the second teacher be successful? And, should she be successful, would not the lesson be that life still remains a place of endless possibility?

This Christmas I ask each parent to look at their children with love. Do one thing … get past dog.

Several years ago, while traveling through Florida, my dear friend called with a business dilemma. “How do I handle this ethical problem with a client.”  Sarcastically, I scanned my iPhone and found no app for ‘moral compass.’ Nope. Nada. Didn’t exist.

In essence, business leaders, generals, foreign dignitaries and presidents alike have found can’t simply Google search ethical doctrine, mouth a political sound bite, and appear real. So, I asked, “If everything went south, would she eat the peanut butter?”

Huh?” she replied.

To highlight my intent, I referenced the peanut butter salmonella case.

In 2009, a salmonella outbreak killed nine people. The ninth fatality, an elderly Ohio woman, occurred during a congressional hearing. At one point in the hearing, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) held up a gallon-sized bucket wrapped in yellow crime-scene tape, presumably containing some type of recalled peanut butter product, and asked the business leader whether he would be willing to “take the lid off” and eat any of it.

Sometimes, real leadership is about having to eat the ‘peanut butter.’

Letter 16 was written as a follow-up to that conversation. Unopened since, I found some meaning leaders could use today.


My Dear Friend:

Most business leaders are forever searching for a leadership secret that will vault their company to the stratosphere. Likewise, ever notice how many self-help gurus claim to have the magic bullet for which only they have discovered. At the end today (and every decade) leadership greatness is rare.

In truth, the values that shape what we, as individuals, decide is right or wrong can’t be digested, instantly researched or found in a corporate weekend seminar. The degree to which values and principles arise and again, and the degree to which people accept and live in harmony to those values will either create survival and stability or disintegration and destruction. We see this far too common from political leaders and followers alike willingly and freely accepting disunity.

Lincoln once said “… if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Decisions should not be judged as ‘good politics’ where ‘the path of the least resistance’ has firmly rooted like moss on trees. These types of decisions often lead to ‘peanut butter,’ i.e., a breach of trust.

It’s hard to describe good values. However, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami offered a glimpse.

Rescue Teams searched for the missing along hundreds of miles of the coast, and thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers cut off from rescuers and aid. Japanese citizens patiently waited and passed whatever available water there was, to those who needing it first.

Values are written over centuries. They were created over lifetimes. They were challenged during World Wars, renewed on September 11th, revisited during times of economic uncertainty and political fear, and celebrated during annual harvests, reaping leftovers from a drought-ridden field.

Stephen Covey stated we must develop our value system with deep respect for “true north” principles. If you need a hint, ‘true north’ is about people. Love for thy neighbor is unarguable. As such, for all the years I have known and loved you, your principles are proven. They endured and quite often mirror by young mentors.

From a religious perspective, going back to my theological days, the six major world religions all teach the same basic core beliefs – “you reap what you sow” and “actions are more important than words.”  In today’s world, those professing freedom, are men who want crops without plowing, rain without thunder, the of joy Spring without the heat of Summer. They want ocean breezes but not its storms.

Cloak your decisions in love and you’ll weather most storms. Yup. May have to rebuild a roof here and there, bandage a knee, and morn, but your friends, coworkers, employees, community and I all walk with you.

Truth is, that real life … real values … and real love … is about struggle. There is no ‘true north’ without struggle. However, real love overcomes struggle. And that, my love, is what I believe Christ referenced.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Real love is always with us. And like His, my love is always with you.

Don’t have that? Well, prepare to eat ‘peanut butter.’ Ha!

With all my love … W.

In the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, the character Rannulph Junuh, demonstrates personal integrity in a way rarely seen in today.

On the final hole, Rannulph Junuh is in a virtual tie with rival golfers. As Junuh prepares to chip, he reaches down to remove a twig beside his ball and his ball moves slightly. Junuh and his young caddy, Hardy, are the only two witnesses to the ball’s movement.

With tremendous courage, Junuh admits, “The ball moved.”

Hardy immediately begs him not to say anything, as he is sure it would mean defeat. Hardy tells him, “No one saw it move but me and you. I promise I will never tell. No one will ever know.”

Continuing to display uncommon integrity and courage, Junuh responds, “I’ll know and you will know.”

True ‘integrity‘ is missing from today’s world. The lack of integrity displayed during the Kavanaugh hearing by both Republicans and Democrats was pitiful. Accordingly, Senator Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Joe Manchin could be summarized similar to Manchin’s post-procedural vote when Manchin was asked if he thought there was “… still place in the Democratic Party for you after this,” Manchin replied, “I’m just a good old West Virginia boy” and walked away.

Manchin made his decision only after Collins professed her loyalty to Trump, thus removing any political pressure. That’s like claiming you’ve participated in battle by staying in a foxhole. However, truth be told, everyone really knows you’re chicken-shit. In the military, we’d label Manchin a coward.  Or as Trump Jr., truthfully, but mockingly noted, “A real profile in courage.”

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), appeared to be the only profile in courage compared to her colleague from West Virginia. Heitkamp, to whom FiveThirtyEight gives a 31.5 percent chance of winning her Senate race in November, came out strong against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, no matter the political consequences.

Key takeaways.

  1. Save your calendars. They might save your career. Worked for Kavanaugh. Might work for you. If you need a blank calendar from 1982, you can purchase them on eBay for approximately $7.00. Strange how no one asked Kavanaugh for his 1983 and 1984 calendars, just to see if he really kept them. Somewhere, I envision a former NBC morning host sitting on his couch thinking, “Shit. Wish I thought of that.”
  2. Current dialogue and discourse reinforces the idea that if sexual assault isn’t reported right away, it obviously didn’t happen. Or, as Orrin Hatch would say, you’re “mixed up.” Or as others have alluded, “We believe you were assaulted, but we believe you’ve got the wrong accuser.” Logic alone says this type of attitude has serious implications for survivors and supporters alike.
  3. A woman holding a thirty-year old calendar, claiming wild Clinton conspiracy theories and openly weeping on a national stage never gets elected, holds any office, or gets confirmed to the Supreme Court. Only privileged white men can do that.
  4. The average age of members of the U.S. House at the beginning of the 114 Congress was 57.0 years, with Senators being 61.0 years. And for young adults aged 25 or less, a very white 85-year-old Chuck Grassley, a very white white 84-year-old Orrin Hatch, and a very white 63-year-old Lindsay Graham decided how you get to live for the next 30 – 40 years. Congratulations!
  5. Like Obama said, elections have consequences – Trump won. Still, as a political force, millennial’s rival boomers. But will millennial’s vote? They didn’t in 2016. Will they in 2018? How about 2020?

While The Legend of Bagger Vance ended better that what most will experience, the message is clear. Our level of integrity should be the same, regardless of the outcome. In life, in work, in school, at home, or in society, opportunities to cut corners, cheat or get ahead will often go unnoticed. If we don’t practice our integrity when alone, we’re less likely to do the right thing when someone watches. And people like Trump, Grassley, Hatch, Collins and Manchin hope no one watches.

At the end of the day, maybe’s there’s some modicum of hope. Minutes after Sen. Susan Collins announced her support for Brett Kavanaugh, the site to fund her opponent was so overwhelmed it crashed.

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