19 April 2007
The media is propagating this cycle. Essentially, the media is telling every nut-job that has nothing to live for and wants his 15 minutes that he can go out in a blaze of media glory by committing a gruesome act of violence. They're also telling him that the best place to commit his murder/suicide is on a school campus, because there will be much more hype, and very little resistance. (I'll save my thoughts on "gun control" and security for another time... or you can read the post from 10 April, entitled On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheep Dogs.)
My problem isn't that they're reporting the story, it's that they're salivating over it. The war is on to see which network can out-hype the others, and whatever pathetic attempts at emotion they show are obvious plays for viewership (and preferably awards) and not anything genuine.
I think it's great that we live in a country where we have a free media. I think that it's the American way, and I think that it's good and right. Media outlets must self-govern, however, and they don't even try to do it, most of the time. Just because you CAN make everything into a circus doesn't mean you SHOULD. Somewhere, someone should have the good taste to say, "Hey, not only are we stomping on the memories of those who lost their lives, but we're also making the whole thing much more likely to happen again." Unfortunately, "media" and "good taste" don't belong in the same sentence.
Here's my message-- because I KNOW you want it so badly... haha-- turn off the TV and internet, put down the newspapers and magazines, and actually spend some time with the people you'd miss if they were suddenly removed from your life. Call home, just to tell your family you love them. Thank a soldier for the freedoms we possess. Be more kind to those around you. Give someone the benefit of the doubt, even when your first instinct is to assume the worst. Stop living in a virtual maze, and go outside to get some fresh air. Don't take life for granted. It is ALTOGETHER too short, whether you get shot or not. Ultimately, you're not going to wish you'd spent more time playing video games. Make an impact in someone's life-- a positive one-- so that when you die, they will have benefited from the fact that you decided to really LIVE.
16 April 2007
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” ~Proverbs 31:10-12
I think that those two scriptures bring us to a point that most women miss. That we are to be FOUND. Flushing out game is not the same thing as being found by it. Trussing up a man and throwing him over your shoulder to fireman’s carry him down the aisle is not the same as being found by him.
Too often, women get impatient and decide that “NOW is the time that I need true love, so I’m going to go out and hunt down some poor sucker to marry me”… and then they wonder why their husbands resent them and their marriages don’t work. She’s unhappy because she has to do all the work in the relationship, and he’s unhappy because he didn’t get to be the one to pursue her—in fact, he’s not even sure that he would have pursued HER. She denies him the blessing he would receive for having found a good thing, and she is something less than the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.
Psalms 37 says “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:”
It’s fairly clear that God has our best interests at heart. Unfortunately, our culture bombards us with messages about Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now. It teaches us that we have to look out for ourselves. It tells us that women are “equal” to men, though by “equal” it means that women should do anything that men do with utter disregard for the fact that women and men are completely different. It tells us that it’s OK for the woman to be the pursuer in the relationship and that it’s “old-fashioned” (this term is usually spat out, as though it’s a swear word) to allow yourself to be wooed by a man of valor. Of course, this is the same culture that teaches us that now isn’t soon enough, that immediate gratification takes too long, that relationships shouldn’t take any effort, and that if you get tired of the one you’ve got, you should just throw it away and get another one. Give your body to whomever you choose, but share your heart and soul with no one. Babies are “in” this year, but once they get over the cute baby stage (or once they start interfering with your career or social life), you can send them off to day care where they can be taught values you don’t share by total strangers. Good plan. Is it any wonder that the American family is broken, bleeding, and dying?
It begins with a guy who never learned to be a man and the woman who hunted him down and mounted him over the fireplace as her trophy, and it ends in a lack of trust and respect, disillusionment, children who know their teachers and day care providers better than their moms and dads, pain, unhappiness, and divorce. Where is the blessing of God on the families of America? It’s stolen by the women who refuse to allow men to be men and FIND them, as God intended.
13 April 2007
Perhaps this is a judgement of my character, but the way I feel right now is a mixture of sadness, relief, sorrow, and joy.
Lord, please touch the friends that are friends no more. Reach into their lives and show them Your plan for them. Please, bless and keep them and provide them with influences that will bring them closer to You and make them stronger. Protect them from the influences that seek to destroy them, and guide them in the Way Everlasting. Thank you for protecting our hearts, even in the ends of long-time friendships. Amen.
May your friends be close to you today, and may your relationships be blessed with love, understanding, and, most of all, kindness.
10 April 2007
By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, author of "On Killing."
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:
"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed
Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.
But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."
Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.
Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?
Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.
There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.
I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"
Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.
Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.
Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."
Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.
And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.
09 April 2007
It’s been a year. I haven’t dated in a year, now. It was a much-needed break, and I’m glad I took it. When your heart is pulverized and your chest physically hurts from the ache therein, when you’re so bruised emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and mentally that you find it impossible to force your face into a smile, let alone laugh, when you become physically ill because of the pain of a broken heart, it’s probably a good idea to take some time off.
I’ve never enjoyed dating, but it’s never been much of an issue, since it’s extremely rare that I get invited to date. I hate the games and the nonsense. I have never been so lonely that I was willing to put up with all of the horse hooey that goes with having a social life. Even now, I don’t have any desire to date. I don’t want to go through all of the hassle of getting ready and picking out an outfit (after trying on 12 different things—if you care at all) and spending an entire evening with someone who may or may not be capable of carrying on a coherent conversation, making small-talk, pretending interest in topics that have nothing to do with anything I might possibly want to discuss, trying to figure out the protocol for first dates/blind dates/etc., keeping the little weasel in check so that he doesn’t think it’s alright to physically accost me, and going home with a screaming headache and a desire for either strong libation or hibernation… NOT fun.
For those of you who are not currently in the dating pool, I’ll outline a list of my top ten least favorite things about dating. On some dates, some of these were transposed…
1. Getting asked out by guys I don’t want to go out with and/or unavailable (MARRIED) guys.
2. Deciding whether or not I care enough about the possibility of a relationship with this guy to care about how I look, or how he thinks I look.
3. Deciding what to wear—trying on half my closet, and tossing out my closet in its entirety based on the fact that it’s inappropriate for the planned activity (things that require high heels for physical activity, comfortable clothes for more formal activity, etc.), it makes me look like a walrus with a water-retention problem (at this point it’s probably too late to decide to diet 6 months prior to accepting the invitation), or it gives the impression that I’d be interested in getting pawed by this bonehead.
4. Being hit with various unpalatable traits: poor hygiene, obnoxious cologne, bad breath, verbal mannerisms that beg me to beat him black and blue with a dictionary/elocution manual/English textbook/Miss Manners book/etc., ticks (no, not the blood-suckers—I can deal with those) such as rapid eye-blinking/hand-movements/foot-tapping/etc., and a host of all other manner of annoyances.
5. Finding out that the individual in question isn’t just annoying, but is genuinely unlikable.
6. Poor or annoying driving habits.
7. Bad taste—food, jokes, activities, whatever.
8. Fending off a physical assault. PET PEEVE ALERT: You are NOT entitled to any physical touch, based solely on the fact that you put my dinner on your credit card. PERIOD. I get to make the decision whether or not I allow you to hold my hand on the 3rd date. ;)
9. Running out of common interests or things to discuss.
10. Keeping him from asking for a second date, inviting himself over, stalking me, etc…
All that being as it may, I’ve not been very eager to put my head back on the old dating chopping-block, shockingly enough. This past year has been a blessed respite from my previously non-existent dating/social life. Unfortunately, here is the point of my impasse. I have every intention of getting married and having piles of adorable children with my manly-man husband, but the commonly accepted North American ritual of dating tends to be the main one of very few viable options to finding Mr. Manly-Man and becoming his blushing bride. The ever present biological time bomb is ticking away, and I find myself reluctantly (oh-so-recalcitrantly, dragging my feet) back on the market.
I have forced myself to renew my match.com membership. With a prayer and a genuflection, I am tentatively dangling my toe in the ever-shrinking, ever-murkier pool that is the potential-mate-selection available to a nearly-thirty, traditional woman in the 21st Century. Please pray for me. :D