us vs. them

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #13.]

Let’s start today’s discussion with a few definitions (which I looked up as I was writing).

endorsement: the act of giving one’s public approval or support to someone or something.

morals: a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do.

backlash: a strong and adverse reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development.

During my lifetime there have been various instances of consumer backlash due to a company’s or organization’s endorsement of a principle or a social cause. This has been happening since the Florida gay rights activists boycotted orange juice in 1977. The most recent example wasn’t even an endorsement of a cause, but the acknowledgement of what a high-ranking marketing executive considered an accomplishment and an opportunity to promote how inclusive their brand is. OOPS… this case may end up being the biggest financial backfire… ever.

Endorsements, regardless of whether they are implied or explicit, are the double-edged sword corporations must take into account. Publicly traded companies cannot lose sight of their brand’s customer base when considering ANY promotion or collaboration. In light of the recent brewery incident, I’ve been ruminating over several questions surrounding the situation. Maybe you have had similar thoughts.

  • Should companies publicly endorse potentially controversial issues?
  • Can a company “safely” support one tenet and be sensitive to the opposite viewpoint?  If so, how?
  • If a corporation chooses to promote a cause, does it matter if it is backed by stockholders?  Should it?
  • Should I/my family/society look to corporations as our moral compass?
  • Should corporations simply concentrate on making the best widgets possible?

There are probably other questions I haven’t even considered. Feel free to add them to the “respectful dialogue.”

Inevitably, I started thinking about my beliefs and the “causes” I stand for… 

I am for America! I believe in free speech. I favor the traditional family — parents staying together. I respect the flag. I love God!  … and I love people… all people! … no matter what causes they are for.

If a person/company “stands” for a cause, does it preclude them from being loving/accepting of anything outside of that? For people, I humbly suggest that we can and should respect everyone…period.  However, I also believe that just because I love you as a human being, it does not mean I must also agree with your viewpoint or that I must embrace your belief. Inclusivity is a sticky subject and a difficult mine field to navigate.  I don’t have all the answers, but I think our society could greatly benefit if everyone was more willing to genuinely talk with someone who challenges their beliefs.

I’m sure you have witnessed or maybe experienced the staunch polarization between people who are on opposite sides of the current political spectrum. Heck, you can hardly watch or read the news without seeing something where the 2 sides are pitted against one another or 1 position is highlighted. Why can’t we have conversations with our neighbors, friends, family who do not share the exact same beliefs or convictions as we do? Didn’t we used to do so?

Over the past few years, a good friend of mine and I have had many exchanges about the current political climate. He and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum. We have come to the consensus that the majority of the US population is likely in the center — 40-60% of the scale — and, more significantly, that those at the extreme ends of each side (and the media) negatively influence our country’s ability to engage in dialogue. The tone typically takes on a us vs. them posture with very little opportunity for seeking understanding, expressing empathy, or extending comfort with our fellow humans.  In my humble opinion, it discourages communication, participation and relationship.

If each and every person would consider the possibility that personal perspective matters, we might endeavor to connect, instead of shouting in dissension, “I am right, you are wrong!” The old phrase “walk a mile in my shoes” comes to mind. 

I have heard it said before, so I’m going to leave you with this thought. If we would genuinely desire to get to “know one another,” I have no doubt that we would come to recognize that we have more in common than not.



resilience, renewal & the questions we ask

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #12.]

The relationship between resilience and renewal intrigues me as the United States transitions through controversial change. We are living through a time with definite opinions on a wide range of topics like inclusive history, COVID protocols, book banning, global warming, BIPOC equity, separation of church and state, LGTBQ+ rights, issues regarding our bodies, and much more. Determining how these issues fit into our lives causes varying degrees of stress. Stress categorizes into three forms: mild/annoying, acute, and traumatic. It can be both positive and negative. How we process change differs based on our levels of resiliency,  perceived levels of control, and our ability to renew.

Resilient individuals possess coping skills when dealing with challenges, understanding they may need professional assistance if the situation is traumatic. Those who are not resilient often have extreme self-regulation issues or their reactions are not in proportion to the circumstances even with just mild or annoying stressors. To them, it is always someone else’s fault. Resilient individuals contemplate how situations impact others in ways they had not imagined before. They take responsibility for their actions and reactions. Over time they learn how patience and resilience are companions. Learning self-regulation and renewal may come through gardening, artistic projects, fishing, watching sports, or doing yoga. Travel, watching UK murder mysteries, swimming, and walking my dogs does it for me. Everyone must find what works for them.

Can these skills be learned as an adult, if not learned in childhood? The answer is “yes.” Resiliency requires interaction, engagement, perseverance, and learning from one’s mistakes. It also takes an internal belief that you can survive your situation and taking responsibility for your actions. Renewal is an important part of developing resiliency because it allows you to disengage and then re-engage. Recognizing there are times you need to “take time for yourself” permits your brain to reset and see things in a more reflective way. The more resilient you are, the more likely you are to be able to understand what others are trying to communicate. This is particularly important in times of rapid change. Just surviving a tumultuous time does not equate to being resilient. 

If you are a child who has an adult in your life who provides structure, consistent reactions, and a belief in your very being, you are more likely to have resilient behaviors that will carry you for years. Faith is often a strong component in this developmental process. The good news is that if you did not, you can learn these skills, but it takes intentionality to do so. In short you retrain your brain.

Resilient people may not be recognized by others until circumstances present themselves that reveal their high-level of coping skills. Individually, we do not always appreciate challenging circumstances, but to our surprise we later realize when we are away from the situation, we gained insightful life lessons about ourselves and others. We understand the skills we learned over time helped us self-regulate as we navigated. Although exhausted, we still sufficiently coped. Kenny Rogers had a point…knowing when to hold ‘em,  when to fold ‘em, knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to run.

Resilient people recognize resiliency in others. Deep thinkers are sometimes misjudged as not being interested or regarded as snobs when in fact they may be carefully observing  prior to engagement making sure they are strategic in their approach. Those on the spectrum approach challenges differently every day. Their gifts are not always recognized until we need the specific talent they possess. Sometimes what we think is an unconventional way of coping is a healthy adaptation to the immediate environment. As the outside observer we do not realize individuals are utilizing skills that make them even more resilient in future circumstances. Instead, our lack of experience allows us to discount their coping mechanisms.

Our backgrounds, past relationships, surroundings, and life events provide others with one image but not always one we see in ourselves. As we move forward as a country of collective individuals, we need to make sure we are taking time to reflect, renew our spirits and ask questions. No matter how self-aware or resilient we think we are, there is always need for further reflection. We need to understand our impact on others. We need to ask ourselves, “Do our actions have unintended consequences?”

I had always wanted to travel to the Alps to listen to the cow bells echoing off the mountains. Finally hearing the bells in person on the mountainside was more magical than I had imagined, my perception changed with one question, “Did you know this causes the cows discomfort and stress?”

What? It had never occurred to me it hurt the cows because the sound met my need, my perceived reality. I had never asked myself how the cows were hurt by the bells. I had considered the weight of the bell, but not the negative impact of the ringing. I never considered the stress was continual for the cow, nor realized their powerlessness to do something about it until the person causing the stress recognized it. This disturbing reality haunted me. This led me to observe the cows more. I admired the way they had adapted to the bad decisions of others who either never thought about it or decided the benefit outweighed the stress it caused.

Recognizing the cows’ ability to cope and continue through generations made me think more deeply about how our own country is divided. We sometimes unknowingly discount those different than us by making assumptions without proper questioning. In our personal journey of resilience and renewal, maybe we should take the opportunity to do a better job of asking ourselves the advantages of accepting a more inclusive society. Just maybe.



to mask or not to mask? that is the question

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #11.]

When we think of our favorite super heroes, names like Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Spider-Man, and Deadpool usually come to mind. Those super heroes were regular folks that lived amongst us mere mortals and needed a mask to hide their identities in their “super” roles. Surely if we knew Bruce Wayne was Batman, Wayne Enterprises couldn’t have him on the board as Chairman. So how do we explain the remnant in our society that is still wearing masks in public after the height of Covid is seemingly passed?

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 1,134,170 deaths in the U.S. at the time of this writing. The United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) estimates approximately 15 million worldwide died from this past pandemic; clearly, therefore, those are reasons to still fear the virus that took out so many and made countless others sick.

I continue to travel extensively for my job primarily by air. I like the recent message that I have been hearing on the airports and airlines announcement systems. They are saying something like, “If a person decides to wear a mask or not on or off board the aircraft, let us respect either option chosen.” Most flight are mask free, but there are still some passengers as well as crew members who don their masks proudly. So it is with the premise of respecting everyone that I go forward in my thoughts on this subject. 

Historically speaking, the COVID-19 virus and its various mutations were not the first time mask wearing reached critical mass. The Spanish Flu or the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 was the first time mask wearing was used as a method to curb a virus in our society. The people used crude masks with as little protection as a handkerchief to protect themselves. They didn’t have the sophistication of our recent KN95 mask that was the preferred item for our past pandemic. Medical or others who needed extra protection needed the N95 type in order to work. Some professionals even used double masking in order to feel secure.

Not widely published or heard about is the fact that the US Department of Health and Human Services officially ended the Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023. Unlike the major announcement to start the PHE in March of 2020, which caused a major rippling effect in our entire society, this announcement was very quiet. I remember very vividly packing up the contents of my office desk to work from home at a time where none of us knew how this would end. Among the most significant steps to combat the virus in that directive was limiting how many people could meet in person as well as the wearing of masks in public places. Transportation methods such as airplanes, trains and buses made mask wearing mandatory. Any place where there was a medical facility was of course mandatory as well. I remember walking into the local bank with my mask and thinking how different the reaction to me would have been if I was to have done that in the fall of 2019. I’m sure security or the police would have been called if the time was different. 

Also not widely published is the fact that WHO has declared “an end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency.” So it seems the rest of the world has followed the same path on ending emergency measures for COVID as we have in the US. So why am I still seeing people with masks on in public places and in some cases outside as well? Well, the only way I can logically explain it is residual fear. The pandemic was horrible, and governments and other entities including the media stoked additional fears that scared us so that we are still concerned about this virus. The entire debate about whether masks actually helped or prolonged the epidemic will forever be argued without resolve. Some believe a herd immunity to be effective, which means society naturally develops immunity over a period of time to any and all viruses. I am not here to argue those points whether right or wrong. I am using this solely as an observation on society. 

The overwhelming answer from those who are still wearing a mask from my own, independent, non-scientific survey is that they fear having underlining conditions and wouldn’t fare well should they get the virus. Most are elderly, but some are seemingly young, vibrant people who appear to be just risk-adverse. There are some elderly people in my church I see weekly but have thus forgotten what they look like. I do miss seeing their smiles. To me one of the best parts of going to church is the fellowship. Not seeing faces diminishes the fellowship part. 

Also, I admit… Getting on a plane where some are still in masks makes me a little nervous. Ever since the events of 9/11, I have boarded every plane with the notion that I would not be a victim should there be a threat from any passenger on the plane. I do a sweep of faces to see if I think that anyone could be a possible threat. I don’t consider it to be profiling, but instead intelligent survival skills. Not seeing all faces on a plane makes me continually more vigil to watch my fellow passengers, especially those who are still masked. 

During the height of the pandemic, we were equal in our masks, but in the summer of 2023, those who are still wearing them stick out like a bit of a proverbial sore thumb. I live in the US Southwest, where temperatures currently range from 105-117. To compound the heat with a mask seems rather like self inflicted torture. 

I remember, no less, the summers of 2020 and 2021 when those masks added to my own personal heat index. I was glad when they were relaxed in 2022. I look forward to the day when we can all look each other in the face (the whole face) and greet each other. I also hope we have all learned more about hygiene and healthcare over the past 3 years. Most of all I hope we have learned how each of us is valuable and how we should continue to respect everyone.

To mask or not to mask? That is the question.



a political proposition

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #10.]

I don’t happen to be in the business of telling people how to feel about politics; that tends to be a convoluted mess. What about politicians? 

Some of us are enamored with one, some, or maybe even an entire political party. Better yet, these are people that largely influence how we think about some of the most controversial, polarizing, start-an-argument-at-Christmas-with-your-in-laws topics that are present in today’s world. What we think about politicians also happens to be reflected in how they speak about these issues. I know I personally have fallen into the trap of liking politicians that agree with me and disliking the others. I mean, have you ever heard anyone say, “Well I disagree with everything our president says about abortion, gun control, and taxes, but I really just think he’s a great guy.” While I know this is rare, I want to spend the next few minutes emphasizing the value behind a statement like this.

If you were a lawyer, and I told you that to be the best lawyer you should practice law as little as possible, I probably would not come off as the smartest person. Other professions, doctor, mechanic, or just a general businessman, are no different: experience pays off. Yet, it seems like politicians might be the one anomaly.

Politicians on both sides seem to be quick to offer their opinions on every issue. They may not be the one to introduce the bill, but when was the last time a politician admitted an issue was something the government should not have a hand in managing? Politicians tend to want a part in every issue. Some might even argue these are not issues until a politician makes it one. I would not go as far to say that, but I will say that objectively, most politicians seem very power-hungry. It seems like they take up arms in issues to gain the support of Americans. Once they have been a part of a major bill passing, they leverage that for reelection or they pursue a higher position, qualified or not. It makes me wonder, do politicians really support the issues they claim to care so much about? Does the Republican from Arkansas really care about states’ rights? Is the Democrat from Pennsylvania truly concerned about prison reform? I’m not so sure. In fact, I have observed many flip-floppers, or people that claim to flip their position on issues, that I feel somewhat inclined to think politicians say what they think will win them an election. Ever seen a presidential political debate in the primaries? Each person finds a way to differentiate themselves from another, then the general election comes and everyone from the party supports each other.

The first of these debates for the Republican presidential primary comes this Wednesday. Whether you have friends following politics or not, you are probably bound to hear someone start supporting and disowning various candidates this week. “I like what he said about this, clearly more educated than the others,” or “None of these candidates are fit to be president, I cannot get behind what they say.”

As the next year comes upon us, many of us will be in full support of one candidate and, I would bet, we support most of what they say. Then we can focus on spending more time with those with whom we agree. But that would be incredibly naive in my opinion. Why disrespect the opinions of one who did not originate those opinions? I am not recommending disrespect, but if you want to have a qualm with anyone, why is it not the politician?

And here’s the bigger part; it’s not just the one you do not support, but the political system in general; it fosters arguments and creates rifts among society. Yet, we throw our time and money behind candidates who are making that engine run. You may be asking, what’s the solution? Unfortunately, I doubt a community of blog post readers will fix the American two-party system. I am not the first nor the last to complain about such. Nonetheless, everyone can have an impact. It’s simply showing respect for others, regardless of political opinion. Opt for the discussion, not the argument. Don’t let the politicians win, not in elections, but in driving societal disagreement. A small endeavor, but one that actually recognizes and addresses a detrimental cog in the convoluted American political system.



the end of the world as we know it

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #9.]

I am a Christian.  But for those of you who consider yourselves to be non-Christians – and this might sound odd – much of the church actually owes you a bit of an apology.  

See, much of the missionary work that churches endeavor to accomplish is derived from the Christian belief that Jesus Christ has sent them on a lifelong Great Commission to convert as many people to the faith as possible before He returns to judge earth’s rebellious inhabitants with such wrath that it will result in the obliteration of everything we see before us. The “end of the world,” therefore, plays an inherently bigger part in the Christian message than most people realize because most Believers have been taught that Jesus promised to come back at any moment (“like a thief”). Naturally, this increases the urgency in evangelizing.

So, to enhance this resolve, the American church has invented a terrifying narrative of “end-times” (eschatological) theories to propel the corporeal fear associated with being the object of God’s wrath when Jesus returns. For example, ever hear of the famous number sequence, “666” or the “mark of the beast?” (Revelation 13) Sure, you have. Movies, songs, games, and countless societal elements have incorporated this biblical reference into its superstitions.  Many popular, evangelical pastors teach this future mark will be administered through some form of digital technology that will be implanted into the human body as a control mechanism, authorizing one’s status as a public consumer; without it, one cannot buy or sell anything in the marketplace. And, they say, anyone who takes it will be eternally condemned (Rev. 14:10).

So great is the fear surrounding this mark that three years ago, a group of young men committed suicide after they became convinced that it had arrived in the form of the COVID PCR test. They chose to kill themselves rather than face the risk of everlasting condemnation from inadvertently receiving “the mark” (They planned to ‘ride out the end of the world.’ They wound up lost at sea | CNN.)

Consider also the message coming from the pulpit at Grace Community Church, pastored by eminent evangelical minister, John MacArthur. In his fierce opposition to the perceived hysteria of climate change activism, he has unashamedly taught that, because of man’s sin and immorality, God has “cursed” this “disposable planet” and that if what humans presently see before them worries them, they should know that “this is nothing like what’s going to happen next time” when “He will destroy [it] in an instant.” This is one of the most famous evangelical ministers in the United States teaching that God has deemed this planet – a throwaway item.  All because Eve ate the apple. 

And with evangelical teaching that convinces congregants of the universe’s eventual destruction, is it a wonder that, in the last decade, white evangelical protestants are the most “unconcerned” religious group regarding climate change? (Why conservative Christians don’t believe in climate change – Bernard Daley Zaleha, Andrew Szasz, 2015 ( 

How many doomsday pastors have had their time in the spotlight because of their predictions about Jesus’ Second Coming? Harold Camping, made popular by his brazen, repeated predictions about the world’s end, prophesied that God’s final judgment day would arrive on May 21, 2011. His unwavering confidence in this revelation jumpstarted a public campaign into which he invested tens of millions of dollars and dispatched numerous followers around the country to spread the message, some of whom had “quit their jobs and sold all their possessions” to support the cause. One man reportedly spent more than $140,000 of his personal savings on advertisements to bolster the efforts.

Of course, it’s 2023 – and here we are. Never mind that there are people in debilitating need; he thought that funds were far better spent on forecasting an event that the Bible says is impossible to predict (Matthew 24:36). 

What about a future “Antichrist?” Surely, secular media (film, books, etc.) has so entrenched this term – which represents some future person who will embody all evil – that the average non-Christian cannot claim ignorance of a character with this distressing identification. Believe it or not, evangelical opinions about the Antichrist impact how some Christians vote in elections. Did you know that Franklin D. Roosevelt received 666 votes at his 1932 Democratic Convention presidential primary? That occurrence was sufficient for many contemporary evangelical leaders to convince their congregants that a vote for FDR was a vote for the Antichrist. Even Republican legend Ronald Reagan was not immune to such an accusation – Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6).

In 1932, two prominent American missionaries, Ralph and Edith Norton, toured Europe to assess the religious state of several of its countries. They eventually arrived in Italy where they had the unique opportunity to interview prime minister Benito Mussolini. In their evangelical religious studies, the Nortons had come to believe that the Bible taught of a future Antichrist who would come to power through a resurrected Roman Empire (Dan. 2:31-35, 7:7-8, Rev. 13:1-2). Consequently, they asked Mussolini, “Do you intend to reconstitute the Roman Empire?” 

As they proceeded to explain their understanding of biblical prophecy, Mussolini displayed surprise at their insinuation, inquiring as to where the Bible made such a prediction. And “in one of the great ironies of fundamentalist history, by the time the Nortons had finished with Mussolini, he apparently believed – and maybe even hoped – that he was the long-awaited world dictator, the antichrist, prophesied in the book of Daniel.” What long-term effects did this have on the prime minister? We do not know. What we do know is that within a decade, he allied Italy with a political entity that would become responsible for the largest Jewish genocide in world history – Hitler’s Nazis.

What about David Koresh and the 1993 Waco, Texas compound massacre? That cult was borne out of a one man’s obsession with what he believed to be a future narrative in the book of Revelation, into which he placed himself and convinced his followers that the “end of days” was upon them. Eighty-two people were killed in a standoff with law enforcement. All because people do whatever they want with the Bible.

So, what am I doing with all this? These examples comprise the tip of the iceberg regarding the absolute devastation that some of the church’s “end-times” teachings have produced on society and culture. Manipulation, defeatism, demonization – death. I’m sorry.

And all of it predicated upon one foundational concept: that Jesus is coming back very soon to judge mankind while God the Father destroys everything around you. So, they say, “you better hurry and ask Him into your heart.”

Fortunately, there is biblical resolution to stopping all these false concepts. Are you ready?

I believe Jesus Christ already came back. It’s been accomplished. I’m serious.  

And if He has already returned, then all of this “end-times” nonsense goes away and instead of Christians yearning desperately to leave this world behind, they can begin to truly live as He lived.



what is truth?

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #8.]

What is truth? What comes to mind when you hear the word “truth”? 

Or what does it really mean when someone says: “I’m just living my truth.”?

In my quest to find an answer to this question of “what is truth,” I confess that it is actually the phrase “living my truth” that has prompted my pondering. What does that phrase even mean? There is just something rather unsettling to me about it. If I am “living my truth,” doesn’t that make the meaning of the word “truth” subjective? Hear me out.

The definition of the word “subjective” is based upon or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. If every human being on the planet has “their own truth” and their own definition for the word “truth,” then it would stand to reason that the definition for the word “truth” has become subjective — thus leaving the definition of “truth” at the mercy and whim of whoever is defining it.

So, what does the dictionary have to say about truth? Webster’s defines truth as:

1. The quality or state of being true.

2. The property of being in accord with fact and reality.

The property of being in accord with fact or reality… what in the world does all of that mean? 

Being in accord could also be said as to be in agreement. In short, to be in accord with fact and reality is to be in agreement with fact and reality. Therefore, if truth carries the property of being in accord, or agreement, with fact and reality, then we have to conclude that to say we are “living our truth” is to say we are really, in all honesty, just doing, or believing, whatever we want without any of it being grounded in a firm foundation of fact and reality. 

For example, if truth is in accord with fact and reality, we are forced to be honest and say that women cannot be men and men cannot be women. This is one example of how current culture has become influenced by personal feelings. In this situation, truth is no longer in accord with fact and reality. Truth has become nothing more than our own opinion. This is one example of how fact and reality have been lost and our foundation is nothing more than shifting sand.

Good Ol’, reliable Webster has long since been a trusted friend of mine through the years as I have engaged in countless word studies. There is always something to be gleaned from the study of a word. However, there are times when another viewing angle needs to also be considered — which is why I took to the streets of my community and did some research of my own. I asked several different individuals the same question: what is truth? 

Here is a slice of the insight I gained.

“Truth means that if you did something bad you would tell somebody.”  ~ Rubie, Age 7

“Truth means that if you do something bad and someone asks you to tell the truth you tell them.”  ~ Maybrie, Age 9

“Truth to me means the opposite of lies.”  ~ Emma, age 10 and Alyssa, Age 17

“Truth to me is God. God is Truth. God is our foundation. So, that would have to make truth foundation.”  ~ Mayci, age 7

While each of these responses carry their own measure of depth, it is the insight shared by Mayci that struck to the very quick of my soul. 

Truth is foundation.  

Just let that sink in and settle in your weary bones. Let that resonate deep within your soul and, if this were true, wouldn’t that make truth the very thing on which we should build our lives? Truth is that firm foundation that when our emotions are on the brink of being out of control will stand. If truth is foundation, and God is our foundation, then it could do nothing more but stand to reason that God is truth. Sometimes we adults make things far more complicated when all we really need to do is have the simple faith of a child like Mayci and remember that truth is foundation.



100 questions from the historian

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #7.]

I have thought a great deal on what we are and are not teaching in US History. Since I spent a lifetime educating both college and high school students I thought that perhaps it was time to educate the masses. In my classes, there were always facts/dates. I once asked when the War for Independence began and then made the case for 1622 when the Virginia House of Burgesses announced they were going to tax themselves and not the Parliament — made them think. My classes were filled with what students labeled “infomercials” — things to know but not be tested on.

So here are a ‘few’ questions I have asked including some “landmark” decisions which have had an impact on the lives of citizens almost from the beginning of what we know as the United States. I always include the Declaration of Independence; we read through the entire thing — analyzing/discussing/debating. Hoping the following spurs an interest in “googling” answers you may and may not know…

  1. Do you know the reasons behind America’s intervention into Vietnam?
  2. Why does the Speaker invite the President to address the nation in a Joint Session of Congress?
  3. Why does the President “knock” on the closed House Chamber doors to be announced requesting permission to enter?
  4. What is the reason behind the Presidential Records Act? What does it say?
  5. What is the reason behind “impeachment”? (Go back to Colonial New York and the Royal Governor during the reign of Queen Anne.)
  6. How are classified documents declassified?
  7. Can a sitting president repeal any amendment? (In 2016, it was claimed that Secretary Clinton could.)
  8. How does an amendment get added to the Constitution?
  9. What are the reasons for the Bill of Rights? (BOR)
  10. What are the Articles of Confederation? 
  11. What is the National Archives?
  12. When the British burned down the Library of Congress, who replaced the books lost?
  13. When did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson die? 
  14. When was the Secret Service created? 
  15. What 2 West Point graduates, besties and roommates, rode from the west (i.e. California) to fight on opposite sides at Gettysburg?
  16. How was Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address received?
  17. What was the Trail of Tears?
  18. What was the Nullification Act?
  19. What stopped the slave trade in DC, and what year was the trade stopped?
  20. Who was Medgar Evers?
  21. What was the March in Selma about?
  22. What is the National Institute of Health?
  23. What are the first 5 freedoms covered by the First Amendment? Why were they included?
  24. Why is one cabinet member not permitted to attend any State of the Union (SOTU) or a Joint Session of Congress?  
  25. The Second Amendment has its roots in Colonial America; why was it added to the BOR?
  26. Why were the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed?
  27. When did all male schools like Washington & Lee and The University of Virginia admit women? And our military academies?
  28. When did women get the right to vote, and what president reluctantly signed it into law?
  29. What was the Oregon Trail? 
  30. The state laws in Louisiana are based on _______. Why?
  31. Most western states’ laws are based on _______. Why?
  32. The original 13 states and most of the states east of the Mississippi laws are based on _______. Why?
  33. What is Juneteenth? 
  34. What and when was the Tulsa Massacre?
  35. What were the reasons behind Wounded Knee?
  36. Why did the Southern States decide to leave the Union? (1860-1865)
  37. What is The Gilded Age?
  38. Why does industrialization come to the north over the south? 
  39. What were the Lincoln-Douglass debates, and why was it a forgone conclusion that Douglass would win? 
  40. What were the fireside chats? 
  41. Why and when was NATO formed? What is the importance of Article 5?
  42. What events led to America’s going to fight in The Great War?
  43. Why was America reluctant to get involved in the upheavals in Europe and Japan in the 1940’s?
  44. What was the root cause of the Spanish-American War?
  45. What was the root cause(s) of the War with Mexico? 
  46. What is the Monroe Doctrine? What is the Truman Doctrine?
  47. Who were  Thomas Paine, John Marshall, Sandra-Day O’Connor and Thurgood Marshall, and why are they important?
  48. What was Iran-Contra about, and why does the Reagan Administration side with them?
  49. What was Desert Storm? 
  50. What was the root cause of 9/11, and who was president on that day in 2001?
  51. Who was John McCain?
  52. What illness did JFK have, and how did he injure his back? 
  53. Can you name the 5 declared wars America has fought? Who actually declares war?
  54. What is a “police action”? (International)
  55. What is a ‘banana republic” and where are they located? 
  56. What was the Six-Day War?
  57. What was the Suez Canal upheaval about? (1956)
  58. What is the debt ceiling, and when did it become partisan? Why has it become such a big deal since WW1?
  59. What was the Albany Congress? What were the Townshend Acts?
  60. What is the actual “line of succession”?
  61. What does the entire Declaration of Independence say? (DOI)
  62. Why do the 13 colonies declare independence from Great Britain?
  63. What does freedom of speech mean? 
  64. What event turned George III from his earlier siding with the 13?
  65. Who were the men who died at the Alamo? 
  66. Why are the mascots of the following named as such: UVA-Cavaliers, Tennessee-Volunteers, and Texas-Longhorns?
  67. Why does the UP (Upper Peninsula) belong to Michigan?
  68. Why is Toledo in Ohio and not Michigan?
  69. Who was Maya Angelou? Who is Toni Morrison? And what is each famous for writing?
  70. Who is Toni Morrison, and what is she famous for writing? 
  71. Who was Alex Haley, and why was his book “Roots” such a turning point in American and TV history in 1977?
  72. How long did M*A*S*H last on TV, and why was it considered trailblazing? 
  73. What was the impact when UTEP defeated the University of Kentucky for the NCAA 🏀 Championship in 1966?
  74. Why are the following films believed to be game changers: “Glory,” “The Color Purple,” “Schindler’s List,” “Philadelphia,”’ “Brokeback Mountain,” and “The Godfather” (all 3 parts)?
  75. Who was Francis Marion? 
  76. Who was Sitting Bull? 
  77. Who was Chief Joseph, and what is his famous quote? 
  78. What does it take for a bill to become a law?
  79. Why is the power of the purse in the hands of The House of Representatives? 
  80. How many votes does it take to pass a bill in both Houses? 
  81. What is “gerrymandering,” and what does it do? 
  82. Should we continue to have the Electoral College or does it preserve the voting rights of small states?
  83. How many total years can a president serve? (Think LBJ more than a single answer.) 
  84. Who is the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate? (4th in line in succession) 
  85. What is the line of presidential succession? And do you know who they are?
  86. If you graduate from Harvard Law and want to move to Texas to practice law, can you and what hoops would you have to jump through?
  87. If wars are and have been fought over land/power/hate, how many wars have been fought for love? 
  88. What were the Salem Witch Trials really about? 
  89. What is Arthur Miller’s classic “The Crucible’ set in Salem of the 1600s really about? 
  90. What is McCarthyism (not Kevin), and what was the HUAC (aka the House Un-American Activities Committee)?
  91. What was the New Deal? 
  92. What are the qualifications for the SCOTUS and lesser courts? 
  93. Does the Preamble to the Constitution include the word “God”?
  94. What was the 3/5ths Compromise and the Great Compromise?
  95. When was “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance and why?
  96. What groundbreaking Broadway musical focused on civil rights/equal rights/Vietnam War while letting in the “sunshine”?
  97. Who was Cesar Chavez, Gloria Steinem and the Chicago 7?
  98. Who authorized the Clean Air and Water Act in the 1970’s?
  99. Why do the Brits drive on the wrong side of the road? 


  1. Can you name the Commonwealth States? And why are they  Commonwealth States? 

Also, some landmark court cases to learn from (see to learn more about each case):

  1. Chisholm v. Georgia (1793)
  2. Marbury v. Madison (1803)
  3. Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816)
  4. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
  5. Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
  6. Jones v. VanZandt (1847)
  7. Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
  8. Schenectady v. United States (1917)
  9. Korematsu v. US (1944)
  10. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
  11. Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
  12. Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
  13. NYTimes v. Sullivan (1964) 
  14. Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
  15. Loving v. Virginia (1967)
  16. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
  17. Roe v. Wade (1973; overturned in Dobbs v Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization in 2022)
  18. US v. Nixon (1974)
  19. Bush v. Gore (2000)
  20. Moore v. Harper (2023) 

Always learning and asking questions…



a boycotter’s perspective

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #6.]

Oh, how the mighty have fallen….

Donald Trump is as likely to end up in jail as he is back in the White House.

The New England Patriots are no longer a playoff team.

And Bud Light is no longer the top selling beer in America.

How did this happen? Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past several months, back in April, someone at Anheuser-Busch made the decision to send commemorative cans of Bud Light to transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney to mark “365 days of girlhood.” Dulvaney proceeded to put posts on social media in a dress drinking Bud Light and in a bubble bath dancing around with it. And the boycott was on.

To understand the significance of the boycott, realize that Bud Light has been the top selling beer in America for more than 20 years.

This has to be the dumbest brand marketing decision in the history of brand marketing, right down there with New Coke, but even that was not even close. What is the first rule of marketing? Know your target market. What was Bud Light’s target market? Men who enjoy sports and socializing. Frat boys and bubbas.

I can promise you this: other than those catering to gay and bisexual men, no fraternity in America wants any association with an image of boys who think they are girls drinking beer in dresses and bubble baths.

When I was in college, two men were caught in a compromising situation in one of the fraternities. Rightly or wrongly, there was zero interest in anyone rushing that fraternity for years to come.

And while I have less experience to speak on the subject, I think it is safe to assume a similar reaction from bubbas as frat boys.

I look forward to reading the Harvard Business Review case using this example to teach future MBAs the principles of marketing. But it may be years until it is socially acceptable to write about it.

I do not have any issue with Anheuser-Busch or any other beer maker marketing a brand to the LGBTQ+ community. Enjoy a Montucky Cold Snack with the rainbow on its annual pride can, as I have. In a blind taste test, most people cannot tell the difference between brands of beer anyhow. It is all about image. And Bud Light just royally screwed up its image.

Which begs the question, what in the world were they thinking? Bud Light’s (former) VP of Marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, stressed the need to “evolve and elevate” the Bud Light brand away from the “fratty, kind of out of touch humor” brand of the younger generation.

You mean the target market that has made you the top selling beer in America for 20 years?

This should set off alarm bells demonstrating how pervasive political correctness has become in corporate America. Companies are now getting graded on their “ESG” scores (environment, social, and governance), and being viewed as socially in vogue was more important to Heinerscheid than protecting FIVE BILLION DOLLARS in annual sales of Bud Light. That she could be so blinded by political correctness that she put all of that at risk should make us all realize how prominent this has become in the minds of our corporate leaders, all else be damned.

Bud Light has put itself in an impossible position. The right thing to do would be to apologize to its customer base for being insensitive to their perspectives and for calling them “fratty” and “out of touch,” that it was in fact they who were “out of touch.” But such a move would almost certainly unleash a backlash from the LGBTQ+ community for not standing behind Mulvaney, implying that their partnership was a mistake, even though it clearly was. And so they do nothing, as if it did not happen, hoping it will go away.

It will not. This is not as simple as bringing back Coca-Cola Classic. At this point, no one wants them. If they are not going to renounce their action, they might as well just go full rainbow.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of the boycotters. It is no fun to be one who holds traditional values in America right now. Those pushing different agendas have successfully made it socially unacceptable to do so. So we smile quietly when our employers observe Pride Month, fearfully hoping no one calls us out for not celebrating with enough enthusiasm. When is Traditional Values Month? Where is the “God created them male and female” parade? They do not exist. Only one side gets to celebrate.

I am all for diversity, equity, and inclusion. All Americans should be. It is one of the founding principles of our country. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] were created equal.” It does not help that one side of the spectrum has politicized the word “equity,” meaning vote for us, because the other side does not. We all should.

But those who do not flock to the other side, which appreciates their votes, even though their perspective should be flatly rejected.

As with so many things in today’s world, the right answer is in the middle, and there is no one in the middle.

But my affirmation of equity does not mean that I should have to embrace perversity. I have gay friends and family members whom I love dearly. I have no problem with the orientation, and I think gay couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexuals. I also believe that the behavior is a sin. We all sin, and I am no better than anyone else, so I try to treat everyone with respect. But believers are called not to accept sin in our lives, but to turn away from it.

In today’s world, we are told we must be tolerant of everyone except those who believe as I do. Those beliefs are forced beneath the surface to avoid the social conflict that would result. For years now, we have been forced to hold our tongue to get along. We dare not share what we really think for fear of being ostracized. Cancel culture is real. But every time we hold something back, or keep quiet when our employers, the stores we frequent, or our government spend resources celebrating only the other perspective, all of that emotion gets pent up inside.

Then along comes Bud Light. Their choice to associate with Dylan Mulvaney gives me a safe, quiet, anonymous way to vent all the emotion that has been building up inside for quite some time now. I can simply never buy a Bud Light ever again.

And I never will.

All perspectives should be valued. Including mine.



stepping stones

[Note: this is part of our annual Guest Writer Series. Meet guest writer #5.]

“Isn’t it strange that princes and kings

And clowns that caper in sawdust rings

And common folk like you and me

Are builders of eternity.

To each is given a bag of tools

A shapeless mass and a book of rules

And each must make, ere time is flown

A stumbling-block or a stepping-stone.”

— R.S.  Sharp

Many years ago, I was asked to speak at the Life Celebration for a long-time family friend, a man who was really a guide for many, including me, in this business of life. He was respected for his leadership as well as his servant heart. I concluded my remarks with this poem because it was a fitting statement to reflect how he had lived.

Now whenever I re-read it, I wonder if this poem isn’t more relevant to how we are living our life now, not just a statement about how one has lived it. In fact, maybe it should be part of a diploma or something we receive at the beginning of adulthood. Maybe the more fitting application might be to ask ourselves, “What are we/I building? Now, not someday?”

First, the “We,” meaning our home, our community, our country, our culture. Our media seems to be filled with what some would say, “Going to hell in a handbasket.” There seems to be more angst than amicability, more depression than decency, more shouting than solidarity, more panic than peace. So, we tend to wring our hands, separating the “I” from the “We.”

So instead of the “We,” should the “I” not look in the mirror? And ask, “What am I building?”  The poet says that each of us is given “a bag of tools, a shapeless mass, and a book of rules.” He does not say these are identical, but suggests that we are all equipped. The question seems to be “Okay, now what?” Do I evaluate them and their use in my life? Do I envy the equipment of others and thereby waste and neglect my own? Do I seriously ask what I am building, honestly asking myself if I am building a life of purpose and meaningfulness for myself as well as others? 

When I see a construction company at work, it is obviously a team of various skills committed to achieve a unified end. If both the “I” and the “We” recognized this teamwork, it would seem the result of such awareness would negate the handbasket and create stepping stones for both the “We” and the “I.”