Surfside response

At approximately 1:30 a.m. early Thursday morning, the twelve-story, Champlain Towers South collapsed in Surfside, Florida — a town a few miles north of Miami Beach. The definitive reason why the beachfront condominium collapsed is currently uncertain; it may never be certain. As crews continue to carefully mine the rubble, it’s been heartbreaking to watch the details that slowly but meticulously unfold. 55 of the building’s 136 units were destroyed. Approximately 150 people remain missing at the time of this posting. Eleven have been confirmed dead. It’s a gut-wrenching, traumatic scene.

The Intramuralist has tuned into several of the government and rescue team’s press conferences. There is a somberness that makes them hard to watch. But there is one aspect for which I am soberly, deeply grateful. I’ll share from Sunday’s morning presser…

First before the microphones came Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis shared a brief account — first, of course, sharing grief with the affected families, thanking the first responders, then detailing the coordination efforts among multiple levels of government, giving insight into the ongoing approach.

Next came FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who thanked the Governor, let the public know she was there on behalf of Pres. Biden, and then shared details into how federal emergency efforts are more specifically involved.

Following the two was Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who also thanked both the Governor and FEMA in addition to the rescue teams, and spoke of several more specific developments, such as being able to control the resulting smoke and fire.

The three were joined by Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. 

Allow me to expand on the reason for somber gratitude…

The primary presenters hail from varied backgrounds. They represent two different political parties. And in 21st Century America, increasingly more people and party loyalists justify dissimilar party adherence as grounds for uncompromising conflict and disrespect. That uncompromising conflict and disrespect, however, impedes what needs to be done.

In South Florida this week — even with the respective (D) and (R) placed next to the individual names on the bottom of my screen on Sunday — the political party of the public officials was not significant. What was instead significant?

… grieving with the affected families… thanking the first responders… coordinating efforts among multiple levels of government… being there on behalf of the President… controlling the resulting smoke and fire… dealing with the trauma.

It thus makes me grateful to see a diverse group of public officials come together, recognize the effort of one another, thank each other, coordinate, and get the job done. I don’t see any caring of who gets the credit — nor any denigrating of the politically different. The officials are focused on solving the problem — as opposed to seeing the different as the problem.


Epilogue… sort of…

I had originally concluded this piece with an ending acknowledgement that it shouldn’t take trauma to get the job done; it shouldn’t take the gut-wrenching to make us focus on what’s most significant nor to stop always blaming the politically different. As journalist Charles C.W. Cooke opined two days ago:

“Hey, you. Yes, you. The one with his hands arched above the keyboard, debating whether to press ‘Send’ on your Surfside hot take. Don’t. Delete it, step away from the computer, go outside for a while, and reflect upon what you’ve become.

What is happening in Miami-Dade is not Mayor Burkett’s fault. It’s not Mayor Cava’s fault. It’s not Fire Marshal Patronis’s fault. It’s not Governor DeSantis’s fault. It’s not President Biden’s fault, either. Every single one of these people is horrified by the collapse. Every single one is dreading learning the final death toll. Every single one is working as fast and assiduously as they can. This is a tragedy, it’s not an election. For the love of God: stop.

I found myself amen’ing along. Blaming the politically different is putting our focus in the wrong place. We are all horrified. 

Cooke concludes, “Sometimes in this imperfect world of ours, truly horrific things can happen to good people, and there is nothing of use to be gained by trying to weave them neatly into a broader political rationale. Not everything is ideological. Please: Just stop.”

We quietly, soberly amen once more.



trans Olympians?

Before we begin, let me gently but boldly opine that so many seem to handle any LGBT conversation poorly. So many justify shame for someone. The Intramuralist adheres instead to the Judeo-Christian ethic echoed by author and research professor Brené Brown, noting, “We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous.” When we justify subjecting another to shame, disgrace, humiliation, or disrepute — especially by public exposure or venomous criticism — we are not “loving our neighbor” well. Whatever so-called side they’re on. We then look like the ones who most need to grow. Hence, allow us an added encouragement this day… May our passions and opinions never prompt us to justify the cruelty of shame.

With that as our backdrop, one controversy we all knew was coming is now here. Let’s borrow from the headlines…

First, from NPR: “New Zealand Weightlifter Will Be The First Openly Trans Competitor At The Olympics”

In 26 days, “Tokyo 2020” commences (still the official title for marketing and branding purposes). Laurel Hubbard will represent New Zealand, competing in the  women’s weightlifting category for women over 87 kg (approximately 192 lbs.). Hubbard is a biologically born male, who transitioned to being a woman eight years ago. Prior to her transition, Hubbard competed in men’s events, holding national records in junior competition.

Next, from Yahoo!News: “Transgender runner CeCe Telfer ruled ineligible to compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at US Olympic trials”

Telfer was also biologically born as a male. In fact, as recently as 2017, she competed in men’s collegiate track and field. She ranked 390th in the NCAA Div. II men’s 400 meter hurdles that year. Two years later, Telfer won the women’s title.

The reason Hubbard is allowed to compete at the Olympics and Telfer is not is due to testosterone levels. According to a 2015 decision by the International Olympic Committee, “Those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in the male category without restriction.” However, those who transition from male to female and wish to compete in the female category must meet multiple conditions. One of those conditions is a limitation of testosterone level. Telfer’s level was too high; Hubbard’s was not. While the IOC set a maximum level of 10 nanomoles per liter of testosterone, note that such level is four to five times more than a biological woman.

Remember our early encouragement. No person is to be shamed. The shame, disgrace, humiliation, and disrepute some in the transgender community have received has been awful and unloving. None of God’s creation deserves that. Wisdom says we don’t disgrace or discriminate. We want to be honoring and fair.

One Olympic fact highlights the fairness — first acknowledging some significant Olympic moments… Mary Lou Retton’s perfect “10” on the vault… Muhammed Ali lighting the torch… the absolutely amazing, “Miracle on Ice”… Names are forever etched in our memories… Torvill and Dean… Bolt… Phelps… Jenner… Strug and more.

One person we cheered on multiple times was the incredibly gifted Flo-Jo — Florence Griffith Joyner. She dazzled the world with both her speed and her style. She is considered the fastest woman ever alive, holding still-standing records in women’s track and field. She ran the 100 meters in a mind-boggling 10.49 seconds in 1988. And in the past 33 years, no other woman has come close.

However… hundreds of high school boys — non-Olympic champions — have significantly bested Flo-Jo’s time. Hundreds…

Back to weightlifting for a moment… Belgium’s Anna Vanbellinghen’s recent comments have been insightful in this controversy, especially since she expects to be competing against Laurel Hubbard in Japan. “I fully support the transgender community,” says Vanbellinghen. “I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult… However, anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: This particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.”

There’s a biological difference between male and female. So how do we not discriminate against one in our support of another? How do we ensure our advocacy is not unfair?

Just asking questions, acknowledging facts with sensitivity and respect, getting set for the summer Olympics, and craving to handle all well… 



pride in our emotion

On Saturday, a white Dodge Ram truck stopped in the staging area of a Fort Lauderdale gay pride parade, moved slightly forward anticipating the parade’s onset, and then accelerated unexpectedly. The truck struck two pedestrians before continuing across all lanes of traffic, ultimately crashing into a fence on the other side of the street. At the hospital shortly thereafter, the first of the two pedestrians was pronounced dead. Absolutely awful. Scary. And unquestionably tragic. 

As news broke of the fatal event, shock and outrage accompanied the reporting. Multiple media sites included the outrage — even the Associated Press, which originally reported that the driver of the truck “acted” like he was part of the parade… Who would do such an evil thing?

That sentiment was echoed in the immediate aftermath, most notably by Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who was at the staging area at the time. “This was a terrorist attack against the LGBTQ community. He came here to destroy people. This was clearly no accident… It was deliberate; it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person.”

Except that it wasn’t.

It was an accident; the driver was part of the parade; and he came to participate — not to destroy anyone.

Friends, let me first encourage great grace extended to Mayor Trantalis. We can be a rather unforgiving crowd when people misspeak. True, there is a difference between misspeaking and intentionally misleading; and way too often it’s difficult to discern which is which. But no doubt the understandable shock of the moment prompted emotion which impacted the Mayor’s perspective.

Allow us to say such once more, if you will…

No doubt the shock of the moment prompted emotion which impacted perspective.

Hence, there’s no need to criticize.

There is, however, need to recognize… to recognize that emotion has the unquestionable, understandable potential to distort perspective.

And not only did emotion distort perspective in Fort Lauderdale; it prompted far more than one to think the absolute worst of another… How evil — remember?

It makes me wonder… 

Where else is this in play?

Where is it in play in me?

Where — because I feel so strongly, feel so deeply, am sad, shocked, angered, outraged, you-name-it — where do I have an inaccurate interpretation of what actually happened? … Where, because of that inaccurate interpretation, have I allowed myself to think the worst of someone else?… (… how ignorant… how awful… how evil…)

Is that happening anywhere still? Are there other areas where I have allowed my emotion to dictate what I believe to be true?


Have I remained steadfastly unwilling to be challenged in my perspective, precisely because my feelings are so strong?

On Sunday evening, learning that he was incorrect in his initial statements to the media, Mayor Trantalis shared his regret. “I regret the fact that I said it was a terrorist attack because we found out that it was not.“ 

He also added,”But I don’t regret my feelings. I don’t regret that I felt terrorized by someone who plowed through the crowd.”

I think that’s a pretty sincere, honest, even profound account…

I regret that I said something that was wrong…

I don’t regret my feelings…

But my feelings don’t make my perspective right.

That seems wise to recognize.



celebrating somebody else

Last week when one New Jersey school board voted unanimously to remove the names of all holidays from the calendar, the reasoning one board member shared was that “if we don’t have anything on the calendar, we don’t have to have anyone [with] hurt feelings…”

Hence, in what’s considered “education,” instead of educating about the beauty of difference, the wisdom in respecting difference, and the even sweeter joy of celebrating difference, this board chose to ignore individual differences in case it’s hurtful to another.

Wouldn’t it be wiser instead of watering down reality, to teach respect of what’s different? 

Years ago when my kids were younger and I was frantically attempting to get my hands on anything that would help a semi-clueless madre get a better grasp on this parenting gig, I picked Dr. Tim Kimmel’s Raising Kids for True Greatness. It was a life saver. 

“What is your goal when it comes to raising your children?” Kimmel asks at the onset. Now let me not fuel any mindset that parents are so in control of their kids; in fact, the older I get, the more manifest the “by the grace of God I go” mantra makes emphatic sense.

But what I love about Kimmel’s insight is that he encourages the reader not to look at another’s kid as in competition with their own; the success, difference, reality of another takes nothing away from me. In other words, instead of being upset that your kid gets the lead in the school play — or your child is chosen for the select soccer team — or your teen gets the solo in the grand finale — andmine does not, as a parent I still choose to celebrate your kid enthusiastically. 

Our differences — our realities in how life is playing out — are not something that need be a lingering source of hurt. If they are, I would hope that the mentors and authentic education encouragers in my life would gently but firmly help me learn how to deal with my perspective. I would hope they would teach me how not to find fault in another nor water down reality, but to instead, sincerely, selflessly celebrate both them and me. 

I have a son many find different. In fact, I have three. Each has distinct gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses… each growing into the man they’re called to be. My youngest, as has been documented here, has Down syndrome. He proudly, sweetly calls it his “ability.”

And while your kid and my kid unquestionably have different skills and “abilities,” our differences don’t lessen another’s reality. My reality is not better nor worse than another. This is the way God has allowed my life to play out, and while it isn’t always easy, I give great thanks. That is my reality.

It’s part of why the Intramuralist has respectfully chuckled with the recent use in some select circles of the term “birthing people” to describe mothers. No disrespect, but I can factually tell you as a mom — even a semi-clueless one at that for a while — I did a whole heck of a lot more than physically give birth. While I understand the supposed political-correctness of the term, let me also suggest that it’s a clear watering down of reality.

What about today? 

It’s Fathers Day. I am so proud of my Dad and of the other excellent fathers in my family and the precious, admirable few who have also served in a comparable role in my life.

But as John Kass wrote in The Chicago Tribune this week, “If moms are ‘birthing persons,’ then what are dads on Father’s Day?”

Kass gets a bit tongue-in-cheek with his continued ramblings… “Americans are being bombarded with ads for gifts for that special day for fathers. Should I say ‘sperm contributors’…?”

Friends, it’s ok to call a person who/what they are. It’s ok for us to have differences. If there is disappointment in acceptance of those differences, no doubt that’s wise to wrestle with. But instead of watering reality down, let’s educate about the beauty of difference, the wisdom in respecting difference, and the even sweeter joy of celebrating difference in another.

P.S. Happy Father’s Day, dads.



Norm, the millennials, and me

Growing up — and maybe I wouldn’t have called him this at the time — one of my best friends was a guy named Norm… 

… a retired Army veteran, a loyal employee as Manager of Blue and White Station No. 6, Norm had to be at work by 4 a.m. most days, managing the flow of auto care and repair. After retiring, Norm couldn’t stop working; he spent 10 more years for the newly-immigrated Indianapolis Colts in Special Projects. He’d pick up new players from the airport, take cut players back, even return women’s outfits to the appropriate retail outlet when tags weren’t removed after an elegant evening. Norm always had great stories.

While Norm’s life never looked glamorously successful, he was indeed one of the most successful men I ever knew. He was deeply respected — both by Mr. Cloud at Blue and White and by the entire Irsay family, the NFL franchise owners. I’ll never forget when Norm took me with him to training camp one summer, when 300 lb. left tackle Chris Hinton scurried toward him in the cafeteria, all smiles, high-fiving his beloved “Stormin’ Norman.” There’s an autographed football from Chris still in my room to this day. He and I both were on the cherished receiving end of our “stormin” friend’s generous love, joy, and always, respect. 

Yes, Norm was one of my best friends. 47 years older than me, he got me. In fact, he and I always had an uncomplicated deal; if I ever felt need to run away from home, it was ok… as long as I ran to him.

It would be true, therefore, to say not only that “he got me,” but also, that he worked to get me. 

So much of what we witness in the world today is a lack of trying to get. We see it often with the generations clashing, not understanding one another… not working to either.

Many have studied the issue. Such as author, speaker, and contributor Elizabeth Dukes not long ago, in just one example of what we don’t get:

“The most popular misconception Millennials harbor of Baby Boomers is that they are resistant to technology, and (considering how inundated the workplace is with technology) this makes them difficult to work with. While they do rank the lowest in adaptability, this does not mean they resist technology. In their lifetime, Boomers witnessed life-changing breakthroughs in technologies — ATMs, the internet, cell phones — that entirely altered the way we live and work. But these improvements were released at a much slower rate than the pace at which technology evolves today. The Baby Boomer issue isn’t a refusal to use technology or a lack of enthusiasm for it, but perhaps a greater need for training/on-boarding…

The most common misconception Baby Boomers have about Millennials is that they lack a strong work ethic. It’s assumed they are too dependent on technology to think for themselves or connect humanistically with the real world, which makes them lazy and difficult to work with.

In truth, Millennials struggle with challenges no other generation has yet faced, like impossibly high debt and expensive college degrees that no longer hold the same value. These challenges have altered how Millennials prioritize work and life. But the social and professional movements Millennials have inspired is proof that ‘lazy’ is not an accurate depiction. With little hope of debt freedom, Millennials chase what makes them happy instead of what makes them wealthy… They see work and life as an integrated concept and strive to make careers of their passions…”

The above is simply one perception of generational contention. Sometimes the clash is more colloquial. On social media this week, for example, I had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing my sororal, alumni organization argue incessantly about future recruitment approaches. For far too many, it became open disrespect of the young or the old, believing entire generations to be misguided. My strong sense is when we make sweeping conclusions about entire generations, we miss what they have to offer. And yes, each generation has much to offer.

One of the three zillion things I loved about Norm — who passed away some while ago, after 66 years of marriage to his beloved B.J. — was that as said, he worked to get me. He knew we didn’t think alike. He knew there were things important to me and perspectives I held that he was nowhere close to sharing and maybe would never share. He knew he wouldn’t always understand.

But instead of sitting back, assessing the relationship as there being something wrong with one of us, he asked questions, listened intently, let me ask him anything in return, and never once judged or discounted me. And in those places where his years indeed made him wiser, there was no rebuke; he instead made sweet, uncomplicated deals.

Today one of my greatest, life-giving professional opportunities is serving on a highly talented team comprised of multiple Millennials and those in Gen Z (colloquially known as zoomers). They are the clear majority of our team, and while sure, I have much to teach them, they have so much more to teach me. Yesterday, in fact, we had an all day team building day — one we affectionately entitled “staff summer camp.”

Let me offer a hair more insight… after hours of games, play, including dodgeball with a hilarious twist and 3 hours of all-out fun, highly competitive laser tag, sprinting through warehouse sets and a challenging, outdoor obstacle field, this bit older body is fairly sore this morn. 

No doubt Norm would have been proud.



what do you do with what you don’t know what to do?

Better yet: what do you do with what’s hard?

On Thursday the Randolph Board of Education in Morris County, New Jersey, a little more than an hour northwest of Manhattan, voted unanimously to remove all holidays from their academic calendar.

A month ago the board made the decision to rename Columbus Day in a motion not on the public agenda nor discussed in any depth; it was admittedly, mostly just voted on and passed. Unfortunately, their later-apologized-for hastiness offended multiple members of the school district, especially the Italian American community, for whom the discovery of the Americas by the holiday’s Italian namesake is a source of tremendous meaning and pride.

In an effort to hopefully extinguish the uproar, the board crafted a perceived solution to the controversy. As reported by their local neighborhood news source, Tap Into Randolph: 

“… A motion was made to remove the names of all holidays that mention ethnic or religious groups, to not exclude or offend any other group. Realizing that some groups are still ‘left out’ and they cannot and do not recognize everyone, the board suddenly decided to vote on removing all holiday names and simply calling them ‘Day Off’… As the vote went down the row with a unanimous ‘Yes,’ the stunned and confused public erupted once more, with some shouting at the board, ‘What just happened? What did you just do?…’” [emphasis mine]

That’s right… 

“Day off.”

Not just Columbus Day, but Christmas, New Year’s, Rosh Hashanah…

Memorial Day, Thanksgiving… even teacher convention days.

Note one board member’s explanation thereafter: “If we don’t have anything on the calendar, we don’t have to have anyone [with] hurt feelings or anything like that.”

Hence, we ask once more: what do you do with what you don’t know what to do? What do you do with what’s hard?

My sense is we have three options. One, we discuss the difficult with fact, grace, and sensitivity to all it may affect. Two, we distort the difficult — typically minimizing or maximizing for select purposes. Or three, we simply refuse to deal with it. The Randolph Board of Education chose option three.

The Intramuralist hopes to always select option number one. In fact, on most everyone else’s calendar this coming Saturday is Juneteenth. While the Emancipation Proclamation declared freedom for all those enslaved in the United States, enforcement was dependent upon Union troops, and Texas was the most remote of the slave states. Juneteenth marks the day in which freedom from slavery was proclaimed in Texas.

The hard reality of how the above played out is that there were two and a half years between when Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation became official and when the last of America’s slaves were set free. It is estimated that there were 250,000 persons still enslaved at that time.

That’s a tough reality, friends. It again reminds us that there is a good, bad, and an ugly woven throughout our nation’s history. Thankfully, however, as Sen. Tim Scott poignantly reminded us last April, “Original sin is never the end of the story.”

So let’s not distort the difficult. Let’s not minimize nor make it either all good or all bad or all good or bad now.

Let’s not rewrite history. Let’s ensure we wrestle with fact, not fiction.

And let’s not refuse to deal with it. Let’s not erase it from our calendars. When we erase it — when we tiptoe through topics, through original and recurrent sin, through hurt feelings and holidays — we miss the opportunity to learn and grow from the totality of the issue… from Juneteenth to Columbus Day… 

May we always, therefore, uncompromisingly discuss the difficult…  always with fact, grace, and sensitivity… generously so.



blinders, new lenses & a shiny red Volvo

Watched a poignant video this week… (and no, I refer not to professional golfer John Rahm being told he had tested positive for COVID-19 even though asymptomatic but after leading the PGA’s  Memorial tournament by 6 strokes at the end of the third day — which means he was forced to withdraw only 18 holes from a potential $1,674,000 winner’s payout. That was more painful than poignant…)

A young business professional sets off to start the day. He exits the house, shuts the door, well dressed for whatever the workday entails. 

He rushes down the steps, heads to his car, quickly jumping in, putting the car in reverse and backing out of the drive. He narrowly misses maybe a 9 year old boy going behind him on his skateboard. He hits the brake in disgust, shaking his head, when we hear him think, “That kid. Every time I’m pulling out, he’s right there. Man, somebody needs to talk to his parents… IF they’re ever home.”

The gentleman resumes his commute, soon coming to a stop due to significant congestion. “What is with the traffic today? Always, everyday. This intersection’s always crowded! I hate pulling out of here… these dumb roads.”

He passes the intersection — and more traffic — and soon spots an open, desirable parking space. At the last minute, a shiny red Volvo pulls in ahead of him. Scoffing, no doubt, we hear him again, talking to himself. “Ok, so I’m not even here. Right! Great, lady — the ‘Princess of Parking.’ Sure, take the spot.” He then glares at her vehicle on the way past. “Way to be considerate.”

Now, though, it’s time to at least grab some caffeine prior to office arrival. He opens the door to the local cafe, but is immediately repulsed once more when he sees the line of people before him. “Are you kidding me?!*^$&! Unbelievable.” This time it’s almost as if his disgust is said out loud.

4.2 minutes later he has made his way to the front of the line. “It’s about time,” he thinks to himself, well aware of the imposition all others have been on him. As he debates what he wants, a customer nudges in front of him, asking the barista to add a cookie to his order. “No problem, only guy in the world! I’m sure you need your cookie.” His head continues to emphatically shake, visible to any who are watching…

When finally able to order his tall, decaf macchiato, the barista collects his cash but also alerts him that “it might take a few minutes” due to the volume in the coffee shop today; the barista even, actually thanks the young professional for his patience. The man quietly nods, closes his eyes a bit, like “of course, I’ve been patient,” only uttering “great,” but inside his head adding, “yeah, great. Great for me. Waiting again” — and another “unbelievable.”

Then while waiting, a stranger steps near, a stranger who hands our young professional a fresh case of eyeglasses. His proximity is clearly unwelcome, but the unspoken encouragement to accept the glasses and put them on is hesitantly, eventually accepted. He puts on the glasses. And sees things anew.

Through his newfound vision, the people in the room now come with unarticulated, previous unseen captions…

Discontent with life… avoids relationships for fear of pain… struggling with sense of purpose…

The man begins to see people in a way before that he could not…

“What is that? What in the world?!” he exclaims.

He looks closer — confused by what his eyes now see…

Has never known true friendship… recently lost his job… fighting addiction…

All these descriptions of people that he couldn’t see before. He takes the glasses on and off. Is this really happening?! He can only see what’s really going on when donning the empathetic lenses. He keeps playing with them, getting his drink, and exiting the shop. He can’t take it anymore. “I’ve gotta get out of here!”

But with the glasses still on, he sees more in others outside, too…

Just needs a hug… works 2 jobs to feed her kids… grieving her best friend…

The “grieving her best friend” caption was assigned to the woman driving the shiny red Volvo.

The point of the video was that eyesight changes insight. We tend to only see what we want to see, not taking the time and discernment to recognize what’s going on in the life of others. We make the mistake of being ignorant of our own blinders… blinders that lead to impatience, disgust, and arrogance of opinion.

Lenses matter, friends. They change the way we see other people. They also alter the justification we allow for our own thinking and behavior.



[Note: if desired, catch entire video HERE— and how the young man interacts once more with the boy and his skateboard. 🙂 ]

no rocket scientist necessary

It’s early June which means the NBA playoffs are in full swing. Please note: this post has zero to do with professional basketball. Allow us, however, to first provide some necessary context…

In game two of the opening series between Philadelphia and Washington, a Philly fan dumped popcorn on Washington player Russell Westbrook’s head.

In the series between Atlanta and New York, a New York Knicks fan spat at Atlanta star, Trae Young.

Following game four of the Boston-Brooklyn series, a Boston Celtic fan threw a water bottle at Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving.

In game two between Memphis and Utah, Memphis star youngster, Ja Morant, was the target of racist and sexist insults from three opposing fans.

There have been additional recent incidents, but each of the above have a primary thing in common.

A person does not know how to express their emotion appropriately.

Friends, don’t let me suggest that the Intramuralist knows the right way to handle every emotion — for me or anyone else. But it doesn’t take anywhere close to a rocket scientist to discern that dumping popcorn, spitting, throwing bottles, or hurling insults is completely inappropriate. These are improper and in many cases, illegal.

Let me suggest, too, no less, that it also doesn’t take anywhere close to a rocket scientist to discern that the aggressiveness of these professional basketball fans are isolated acts. Look at the words in recent years by a group of bipartisan leaders of the land. 

“Please, get up in the face of some congress people!”

“Let’s have trial by combat.”

“‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them.”

“You get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

“Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.”

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

The above — not in any order — are recent words from the left and right, politicians and media personalities from prominent figures such as Cory Booker, Chris Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, Eric Holder, Donald Trump, Maxine Waters, etc.… 

These are leading, loud voices. They think they’re speaking for us.

Of course, each justified their aggressive speech with something along the following lines:

It was hyperbole…  no reasonable person would take that literally… I deny any provoking of violence… I was making a joke… everyone in the audience understood…

And yet they didn’t.

The audience didn’t necessarily understand.

Some, dare we suggest, attended a recent NBA game.

Can we please stop the disrespectful, inappropriate speech?

On both the left and the right?

Can we also admit it’s happening on both sides?

And thus, can we quit making excuses for singular sides?

Otherwise we may soon be talking about more than professional basketball.

Respectfully… always… 


how much is too much?

Put aside the partisanship. Put aside any “because I like/dislike the current President” reasoning. Dismiss party loyalty. We need serious, thoughtful discussion. How much is too much money for the federal government to spend?

No administration/Congress has reined in federal spending since Pres. Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich made intentional efforts together in the late 1990’s. Each executive/legislative branch since has simply spent more. Note the most recent patterns:

  • In the fiscal year 2019, the government spent $4.4 trillion. They brought in only $3.5 trillion.
  • The government spent $6.6 trillion In the year of Covid — aka 2020. They brought in only $3.4 trillion. 
  • Pres. Trump proposed $4.8 trillion in spending last year.
  • Last week, Pres. Biden proposed $6 trillion for the year ahead.

Each year, when the federal government spends more than it brings in, we have to borrow money to cover that annual deficit; each deficit adds to our debt. Our current national debt exceeds $28 trillion.

A key metric for analyzing the health of this practice is the public debt-to-GDP ratio. As explained concisely by The Balance (for those of us who are not professional economists):

What Is the Debt-to-GDP Ratio?

The debt-to-GDP ratio is a simple way of comparing a nation’s economic output (as measured by gross domestic output) to its debt levels. In other words, this ratio tells analysts how much money the country earns every year, and how that compares to the money that country owes. The debt is expressed as a percentage of GDP.

How Does the Debt-to-GDP Ratio Work?

The debt-to-GDP ratio indicates how strong a country’s economy is and how likely it is that it will pay off its debt. Specifically, it’s used to compare debt between countries, and to determine whether the country is headed for economic turmoil.

The debt-to-GDP ratio is a useful tool for investors, leaders, and economists. It allows them to gauge a country’s ability to pay off its debt. A high ratio means a country isn’t producing enough to pay off its debt. A low ratio means there is plenty of economic output to make the payments.

If a country were a household, GDP is like its income. Banks will give you a bigger loan if you make more money. In the same way, investors will be happy to take on a country’s debt if it has a relatively higher level of economic output. Once investors begin to worry about repayment, they will perceive a higher risk of default, which means they will demand more interest rate return for their investment. That increases the country’s cost of debt. When the cost of debt gets out of hand, it can quickly become a debt crisis.

Historically, the debt-to-GDP ratio has stayed below 40%. In the year 2000, the debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 57%. After the first quarter of 2021 alone, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is 127%.

Friends, this is one of the reasons the Intramuralist struggles with partisanship and/or party adherence. Parties attempt to get us to overlook something in the name of something else. With presidents GW Bush, Obama, and Trump being the three presidents with the biggest budget deficits in our nation’s history — and current trajectories suggesting Biden will easily make them a clear top four — it certainly seems we’ve become too accustomed to addressing our nation’s problems by simply spending more. With all due respect, that doesn’t make sense. Just as I did during the three previous administrations, I struggle with the lack of paying down the debt. I struggle with the always-increased spending justifications. I struggle with the clear kicking of the economic can far further down the road. By both parties.

In response to Pres. Biden’s justification for unprecedented more, note the gentle commentary from CBS News last week: “The White House argument that now is the time to spend big is predicated on low interest rates and the urgent need for better roads, bridges and jobs. What Biden administration officials don’t say outright is that Democrats currently control the White House, Senate and the House, a potentially once-in-a-generation opportunity for Democrats to implement their agenda.”

The concern, therefore, is that party agenda and political opportunity continue to take priority over what’s best for our country. While Covid understandably, dramatically affected federal spending, a 127% debt-to-GDP ratio is not best; it’s not healthy. It leads to a devalued dollar and potentially, massive levels of inflation, essentially increasingly taxing us all.

What will it take to stop this pattern? … this pattern by both parties? Will we as a public quit accepting this practice?

Many suggest “politics are downstream from culture,” meaning our politicians will govern in response to how they perceive culture to flow or to what we as a culture will accept. Let me respectfully suggest it’s time to have serious discussion about no longer accepting this.