praying for you

There was no time to prepare.

How we’d feel… how we’d react… what we would do.

 

Would we respond in unison?  Would we be encouraged go our separate ways?  … act our separate ways?  Would division be encouraged?  And when all else crumbled to the ground, who would stand as our support?

 

Would we fight? … would we chastise?  … would we judge?

 

Or… would we embrace what is good?  … together?  Looking not to what divides but instead to what unifies… what brings about the strongest, most lasting sense of unity?  … what is real?  … and what has actual power?

 

Somedays I am discouraged by how we react as a nation — and how those within leadership often use and abuse their leadership in how they rhetorically encourage us to react; it’s like we repeatedly miss the big picture because we’re so embroiled in life’s little battles.  Hence, we’ve made molehills into mountains and scratches into scars.  We so often miss the bigger picture.

 

Except last Sunday night.

 

In Indianapolis — in what was supposedly just a game — University of Louisville sophomore basketball player, Kevin Ware, suffered one of the more visibly gruesome injuries in the immediately-gone-viral age.  As Ware jumped to defend a 3 point shot, he landed awkwardly — so awkwardly that his leg buckled in 2 places, seemingly shattering, bending a way that legs don’t bend, breaking the bone in 2 places, with his bare bone sticking 6 inches out of his skin.

 

The injury prompted immediate shock, horror, and grief by those on the court, those in the stands, and those watching on TV.  It was spontaneously gut-wrenching.  (At the time, allow me to say the Intramuralist was incredibly thankful to be tuning in solely via radio airwaves.)  Thus, there was no time to prepare for how we’d feel and how we’d react as a body… as a nation… as a society.  What did we do?

 

All over the nation — as spurred on from sportscasters whose amplified words suddenly paled in comparison to the reality before them — we were encouraged to pray.

 

As grown men cried — visible arguably most clearly in the eyes of the typically, fashionably, completely composed coach, Rick Pitino — all over the nation, people prayed.

 

From Robert Griffin III:  “Prayers up for Kevin Ware, his teammates, & family”

From NBA’er Kevin Love:  “I don’t even have words. Only prayers right now.”

Fellow professional Stephen Curry:  “Pray for him!”

From baseball’s Bryce Harper:  “Wow! Speedy recovery for Kevin Ware hopefully! Scary moment! Prayers and blessings to you bud!”

From football’s Eric Wright:  “Kevin Ware injury was crazy, gotta send a prayer up for that young man”

And even from Lil Wayne:  “May God be with Kevin Ware and his family. Ya in my prayers bro”

 

When life is hard, we humbly fall to our knees and pray, submitting to a power and authority far bigger and better than ourselves.  Sometimes in those moments of crisis — when reality looms larger than rhetoric — wise men encourage one another to bow down.  There is no question then as to what is real and what is not — what is appropriate and what is not.  Sunday we witnessed the reality of the reaction in college basketball.

 

God bless you, Kevin Ware.  Heal fast.  Be wise, and cling to the bigger picture.  You now have a nation praying for you.

 

Respectfully,

AR

gay marriage

Can we talk?

Seriously, can we talk?

 

As I watched the red equals sign go viral on Tuesday — knowing the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in regard to California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved backing of the Defense of Marriage Act — I was struck by the lack of dialogue of the day.

 

In all seriousness, friends, in regard to this issue — in regard to gay marriage and its approval, constitutionality, and societal acceptance — allow me to say this:  there are some of you on both sides of this issue that I have significant difficulty talking to.  Why?  Because you don’t listen.  You don’t listen to me.  In fact, you don’t listen to anyone… well, at least anyone you don’t know ahead of time will automatically agree with your perspective.

 

It’s not that I don’t respect you.  It’s not that I don’t respect your opinion.  It’s rather because you feel so emboldened that you are right that you have no respect for the opinion of any other.  Listening, my friends, is a sign of respect.

 

Let’s face it; this is an emotionally driven argument.  Many of you who support gay marriage have had an experience that has propelled you in that direction.  Perhaps either you or a beloved friend or family member is gay and thus you have passionately painted this as an issue of equality.  Perhaps you see it as civil right…  an equal pursuit of happiness, and each of us deserves to be happy!  Thus, anyone who feels differently than you is a bigot… or a homophobe… or perhaps, egad, something far worse.

 

Similarly, many of you who oppose gay marriage have read all the scriptures that have caused you to condemn it — and condemn it with a spewing passion.  You have read the old… and read the new.  You have then weighted this sin above all others… overlooking “specks” elsewhere in order to zero in on this huge “log.”  Thus, anyone who feels differently than you is a blatant sinner…  or a gay sympathizer… or yes, perhaps, egad, something far worse.

 

The reality is that I find it challenging to talk with both of you.  I don’t always enjoy it.  Why?  Because with all due respect, my friends — really — you guys stink at dialogue.

 

I don’t say that with any articulation of hatred or meanness or even disrespect.  There was a time in my life when if anyone in my physical presence actually opposed the obvious, enduring greatness of baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, I couldn’t talk with them either.  I had no desire to listen.  I was right.  They were wrong.  End of story.

 

Here, however, is where a huge problem lies…

 

This is a tough issue.  Gay marriage is hard.  This is an issue where not everyone who supports it nor everyone who opposes it is some arrogant, blind, or idiotic zealot.  Not everyone who supports it is a weakminded sympathizer nor everyone who opposes it is a prideful homophobe.  But yet, far too many of us act that way; far too many of us judge those who possess a differing perspective.  And far too many of us find solace in the facade that if we keep shouting a little louder the other side will recognize the obvious error in their ways… forgetting that hardly ever — ever — does shouting prompt positive, lasting change.

 

We have forgotten that it isn’t just law either side wants changed.  Law is only the law.  Hearts are far greater… far, far more powerful…  far, far more influential.  Whether you believe either side is sinful or wrong, a change of heart is more meaningful than any change in legality.  And heart change, friends, will never happen as a result of one side shouting louder.

 

Hence, I return to my original question…

 

Can we talk?

Can we — will we — are we brave enough — bold enough — humble enough — to ask why each feels the way they do?  Is there a way to work together?  … that is, as an actual, united state of America?

 

Or is it sadly acceptable to simply stink at dialogue?

 

Respectfully,

AR

go eagles

Stop the presses.  Postpone the previously planned post.  Forget (albeit momentarily) about the seizing of individual savings in Cyprus and the Defense of Marriage Act currently contemplated before the Supreme Court.

 

Forget, too, the 3 year anniversary of Obamacare — and the increasing wearying of the public, growing incrementally more knowledgeable about the actual, massive, embedded costs.

 

Ah, even forget for this day the promise of spring — especially as God’s sense of humor is once again evident, poking through the flakes of yet another Midwestern snow.

 

Yes, forget all of the above in today’s tribute to one event, one little school… a school of only 12,000, with pretty much zero famous alumni, residing just south of Fort Myers, Florida… a university which only offered its first class in August of ’97, which has now arguably, easily evolved into the sweetest story of the NCAA’s Sweet 16.

 

On Sunday, Florida Gulf Coast University became the first 15th seeded basketball team to ever advance to the 3rd round of the NCAA’s notoriously maddening, men’s basketball tournament.  With all due respect to their (now obviously disappointed) opponents, the 2nd seeded Hoyas of Georgetown and 7th seeded San Diego State, the Eagles from Florida GC are the sweet story that has stopped the presses.  Note captions from an increasingly captive audience:

 

“Cinderella Story Florida Gulf Coast”

“Florida Gulf Coast University:  They’re for Real and They’re Spectacular”

“Florida Gulf Coast Makes NCAA History”

 

Perhaps best expanded upon by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports:  “They came from a made-up place called Dunk City, a rollicking, refreshing GIF-machine consisting of nobodies who became somebodies with dunks and oops and just enough sass to raise an eyebrow.  And now the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University have made history:  They are the first 15-seed ever to be one of the top 16 college basketball teams in America.  But it’s not just that.  No, not at all.  It’s the way FGCU has leapt and heel-clicked and chicken danced into America’s hearts.  It’s the memories they’ve made during games with their above-the-rim aerials and their below-the-backboard antics.  In a college sporting world of corporate fakery and soiled amateurism, FGCU stands for pure joy.”

 

In the most recent prior post of the Intramuralist, you will note that we acknowledged the reason this tournament is so fun to watch is because a group of young men come together — undaunted by the impure influence of arrogance, money, and power — and humbly recognize that this game is “not about me.”  There is a joy in that pursuit that an intelligent, watching world so often misses… perhaps because, too often, we omit that humility, and too often, it is the “me” we are about.  Very bright, intelligent people still pursue the “me” first.  And thus, very bright, intelligent people so often make foolish mistakes.

 

On the day before the tournament began, in the Intramuralist’s household, each of my sons completed their annual basketball bracket.  My youngest son, Josh, an insightful 11 year old who also has Down syndrome, completed his as well.  (Just for the record, he picked Duke to win; it’s the most fun school name to say.)

 

As we worked our way through the brackets — with me reading to Josh the name of each team, attempting, no less, not to over emphasize any opponent — he would articulate his forecasted winner.  As we came to the Georgetown/Florida GC match up, without delay, Josh confidently proclaimed, “Florida Gulf Coast.”  Wanting to steer my son wisely but not wanting to pollute the purity of our household’s competitive process, I hesitated, stared at my young son, and slowly said, “Really, Josh?  Are you sure?  Florida Gulf Coast?”  To which, Josh paused, smiled, and while attempting to heed his parent’s caution, he then nodded slowly but affirmatively, saying, “Yes… Florida Gulf Coast!”

 

I, too, had obviously made a most foolish mistake.

 

(Go Eagles… go.)

 

Respectfully,

AR

protecting

On Tuesday, newly elected Pope Francis delivered the message at his installation service.  Now as previously stated amidst these postings, this semi-humble, creative blogger is not a parishioner of the Roman Catholic Church; however, I have tremendous respect for the church, and there is zero doubt that powerful potential for influence rests upon the Pope’s leadership.  Few men have such potential.  Fewer still use their potential for good.

 

While the Intramuralist rarely cedes its pen fully to another, I was struck by these words to us all on Tuesday.  Francis begins with the example of Joseph — Jesus’s dad here on Earth — sharing how God called Joseph to be a protector…

 

“How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand… 

 

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

 

The vocation of being a “protector,” however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

 

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

 

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

 

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!”

 

Recognizing that tenderness is a sign of strength… knowing that pride and envy are just as defiling as hatred… respecting God’s creatures and creation… and building one another up, as we protect one another via trust, respect, and goodness…

 

A message to us all… no matter our faith.  Using potential for good.

 

Respectfully,

AR

Cyprus

 

Right now, in a galaxy not so far away…

 

(As reported by Forbes…)

 

“Why is a dot-sized European country causing outsized effects?  Because what starts in Cyprus, a tiny isle of 1.1 million people, could soon spread to London or New York or Hong Kong, making misery for many millions more.

 

Cyprus experienced severe turmoil this weekend after its prime minster agreed to force a tax on all bank deposits in order to receive a bailout.  The prospect of a tax set off a run on ATMs and made observers worry that financial contagion could spread throughout the continent and then beyond…

 

How unpopular is this in Cyprus?

Forgive the understatement.  It’s deeply, deeply unpopular.  Cypriots made a run on all available ATMs this weekend, depleting cash reserves across the country.  Cyprus, in response, also suspended electronic transfers.

 

Why are we even talking about this?

To receive a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout, [Cypriot President Nicos] Anastasiades agreed to the taxes.  Cyprus badly needs foreign aid, and a deal has been in official discussions since June.  The complexity of any package delayed it, as did the opposition from Anastasiades’ predecessor.  The money, in part, comes from the Troika: the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank.  But the tax on depositors ensures a major portion comes from Cyprus, too.  And here’s the larger picture. Cyprus is badly indebted. Its debt-to-GDP ratio pushed to 127% in the third quarter of 2012…”

 

[One more tangent comment from Forbes…]

 

Did the president really get elected while supporting this tax?

Anastasiades rejected the idea during the campaign.”

 

So here are the facts:

 

One federal government.  So deep in debt.  Owes billions to foreign countries.  Has a history of overspending.  Has never prioritized a specific plan to pay back the debt.  And has a debt-to-GDP ratio over 100%.

 

(Note:  A general debt-to-GDP guideline is that a ratio below 50% is considered healthy, while a ratio above 90% is regarded as potentially, economically dangerous.  If economic growth is strong, a country can support higher debt.)

 

How have the leaders of Cyprus determined to stop the economic bleeding?

 

Government agreed to seize the citizens’ income.  Those in power decided it is legal, moral, and appropriate to confiscate what belongs to the people.  Call it “seizure.”  Call it “confiscation.”  One could inarguably also make a case for “theft.”

 

Quoting Forbes once again, “why are we even talking about this?”

 

Because one American government… so deep in debt… owes billions (now over $1 trillion) to China… has a history of overspending… has not prioritized a plan to pay it back… and has a debt-to-GDP ratio that crossed the 100% mark in early 2012, with current projections hitting 113% in 2013.  How will our leaders stop the economic bleeding?  What will they determine to be legal, moral, and appropriate?

 

In response to the mandated confiscation in Cyprus, there was a rush to withdrawal money from the country’s banks.  In response to the citizens’ withdrawal, the banks have now closed.  Hence, more are making a valid case for “theft.”

 

Respectfully,

AR

16 ounces

Perhaps you’ve noticed the latest, looming crisis…

 

Via the Board of Health, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned the sale of sugary drinks over the size of 16 oz.  No pitchers.  No Ventis.  No accompanying 2 liter bottles.  But alas, on Monday — one day prior to the law going into effect — a state Supreme Court justice overturned the ban, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”  As Huffington Post host, Mike Sacks, inferred the ruling, such is “law-speak for too stupid to be legal.”

 

(Talk about a new sugar high.)

 

First are the facts:

 

  • In September of 2012, NYC’s Board of Health voted unanimously in favor of the proposed regulations.
  • The restrictions were passionately supported by Mayor Bloomberg.
  • A 16-ounce limit was placed on sweetened bottled drinks and fountain beverages sold at NYC restaurants, bars, movie theaters, sports venues, and street carts.
  • The limit applied to beverages with more than 25 calories per 8 ounces.
  • Included in the regulations were sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, juice drinks, slushies and smoothies, among other beverages.
  • Excluded were alcohol and milk-based drinks.
  • The judge declared that the NYC’s Board of Health was only meant to intervene “when the City is facing eminent danger due to disease.”

 

Reacting to the ruling, Mayor Bloomberg said he disagreed with the court decision and cited his intent to appeal.  With a rising number of overweight and obese people, he said, “It is reasonable and responsible to draw a line.”

 

Ok, sorry, but the Intramuralist must pause and take a deep breath (… those deep breaths, uh, assist in articulating a respectful response…).

 

When I look at this sequence — and I do believe that the Mayor was attempting to do what he sincerely believes is honorable and right — I see one huge, glaring bottom line that makes this semi-humble current events observer cringe.  Follow me here; perhaps the discomfort will dissipate (… although I highly doubt it).

 

Bloomberg wants to ban large sugary drinks.  Understandable.  Excess sugar puts excess weight on excess people.  Excess isn’t all good.  Granted, pizza, chips, candy bars, milkshakes, etc. also contribute to “excess,” but none of the above were covered under New York’s regulations (hence, the “arbitrary” distinction).

 

But besides the arbitrary and thus inconsistent application of the regulations, there is a more significant cause for my discomfort.

 

Bloomberg wants to help the obese among us, yet in order to assist the obese, the assumption must also be made that people are incapable of controlling their consumption.  People are incapable of wise decision-making.

 

In other words, according to Bloomberg:  people cannot control their own choices.  Therefore, our ever-more-caring government will control their choices for them… We’ll take the big drinks away.  Under this line of thinking, if citizens are left to their own decision-making, they may make poor choices; thus, it’s government’s duty to protect citizens from themselves.  Government must keep the negative, “excess” consequences from ever occuring.  Government, my friends — according to Bloomberg — knows best.  Government knows better than the people.  Excuse me, but has government not realized that negative consequences are often the most effective actual deterrent to negative decision-making?

 

True, this regulation only regarded plus size soft drinks… but what will be next?  That’s the concern:  what will be next?  There is no way soft drinks are the end of the extent of government interference.  There is no way soft drinks are the end of the extent of government arrogance, believing they somehow know best.

 

What’s next?  Something bigger.  Something more.  Something more intrusive.  Something far more than 16 ounces.

 

Respectfully,

AR

blame

Pres. Obama blames congressional Republicans.

Congressional Republicans blame Pres. Obama.

Senate Democrats — well, I’m not sure who they’ve found yet to blame.

Gun control advocates blame semi-automatic assault weapons.

The NRA blames criminals.

Samsung blames Apple.

Apple blames Samsung.

Oscar Pistorius blames an imaginary intruder.

The liberal media blames Bob Woodward.

Rush Limbaugh blames the liberal media.

Lots of people blame Pres. Bush.

Still more always blame the referee.

Jim Harbaugh blamed a non-pass interference call.

Green Bay Packer fans (sorry, Dad) blamed the replacement referees.

Al Gore blames global warming.

The entire Middle East blames Israel.

Hugo Chavez blames the United States.

Lance blamed a lot of other people.

Some people blame junk food.

Others blame their kids.

Kids blame their parents.

Democrats blame Fox News.

Fox News blames the mainstream media.

(… there’s that media again…)

The rich blame the poor.

The poor blame the rich.

The black man blames the white man.

The white man blames the black man.

OJ hasn’t figured out yet who new to blame.

Islamic terrorists blame Western Christians.

Tom Cruise blamed Oprah.

Many blamed Scientology.

Deepak Chopra blamed America.

Kobe blames the Lakers’ age.

Tiger blames fatigue.

Ashley Judd blames hip hop.

Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer blames her family.

Colin Kaepernick blames himself.

 

(Finally…)

 

As a culture we spend significant time blaming other people.  Whether it be the doctor for an inaccurate diagnosis, the friend who treated us wrongly, or the server who messed up our order — we are quick to identify who’s culpable.  We also are not good at acknowledging our own culpability — no matter the message, no matter the magnitude.  Let’s admit that most often more than one person is culpable…  the player and the ref, two ex-spouses, and yes, those testy politicians.  However, regardless of our role, we prefer shifting the negative focus — and blame — elsewhere.

 

Thank God for the Colin Kaepernick’s of the world, the rookie 49ers’ QB.  When all eyes were upon him after the Super Bowl (save those reflectively still reveling in Beyoncé’s halftime show), he didn’t utilize his moment before the mic to cast blame on someone else.  He humbly acknowledged he had made multiple mistakes contributing to the negative outcome.

 

Way to go, Colin.  Maybe we should send you to Washington.

 

Respectfully (albeit a bit tongue-in-cheek)…

AR

she

She did it.  She finally did it!

 

Next Sunday, the 55th running of NASCAR’s signature event takes place.  It’s the Daytona 500 — the first race of the year — and it’s also considered NASCAR’s most prestigious event.  It’s where Richard Petty became a household name, where everyone from Pres. George H.W. Bush to Whoopi Goldberg has been an honorary starter, and where Dale Earnhardt tragically saw his life come to an end.

 

And so next Sunday when the green flag once again waves at “The Great American Race,” it commences with a historic, new aspect.  Starting in the pole position — for the first time ever — will be a woman driver.  This past weekend, Danica Patrick became the race’s fastest qualifier.  She did it.

 

While Daytona typically garners more attention than any other racing event, there will be even more attention now on Patrick because of her historic accomplishment.  As ESPN wrote in the initial hours after her qualification, “The spotlight is nothing new.  But never has it been this bright before.”   The attention is big; the spotlight is brighter.  My question today is what that spotlight should be on…

 

We are a funny people…

 

On one hand, we say the world should be colorblind.  In other words, when we look at others, we shouldn’t define any of them by the color of their skin, their ethnic background, gender, nor any demographic description.

 

But on the other hand, we also enjoy celebrating the unique success of the individual…

 

… the first African-American president…

… the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice…

… the first female astronaut…

… the first (potential) American pope…

 

Let me unambiguously opine:  those accomplishments deserve to be celebrated.

 

The inherent contradiction, however, is that in our celebration, we often employ the exact practice we say we wish to prevent; we often identify color; we often promote ethnic background; we often focus more on the demographic than on the greatness of the actual accomplishment.

 

Danica Patrick is well aware of the historic significance of her success.  But something else is more important to her, as visible via her post-qualifying interview:  “I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl.  That was instilled in me from very young, from the beginning.”

 

She then received the ultimate compliments from her fiercest competitors, as racers Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, for example, talked about what an excellent racer Patrick is and how she accomplished this in only her 2nd year at the 500.  Interestingly, the focus on her femininity only seemed obvious when prodded by the media.  (… makes one wonder how altruistic and helpful the role of media is in society… hmmm…)

 

So on Sunday, February 24th, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Danica Patrick will start on the pole.  The Daytona 500.  As their 2013 motto reflects, “The Race of a Lifetime.  Every Time.”

 

She did it, friends.  She finally did it!

 

The world will be a wiser place when the focus is no longer on the “she”… when there truly exists no focus on the race, gender, or demographic category…

 

Respectfully,

AR

no hero among us

he·ro [heer-oh]

noun, plural he·roes; for 5 also he·ros.

1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.

3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.

4. Classical Mythology.

     a. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.

     b. (in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.

     c. (in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.

5. hero sandwich.

 

(#5 is easiest to unambiguously define.)

 

For some reason, we seem always in search of a “hero”…  finding that person who is truly heroic, who can do no wrong, whose character is impeccable.

 

In South Africa this past Valentines Day, a beautiful model, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot multiple times and thus killed.  She was allegedly shot by her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee runner who caused the world to take notice as he took competitors by surprise in the London Olympics of 2012.  Pistorius is an Olympic and South African “hero.”

 

The Intramuralist has no idea whether Pistorius is guilty or innocent; what I do know, however, is that the nicknamed “Blade Runner” has reason to lie.  Allow me to put this mildly:  his “hero status” is in jeopardy.  That’s a tough thing to lose — an intangible seemingly incapable of retrieving once lost.

 

Remember that when our “hero” speaks, we listen.  When our “hero” opines, we believe; and when our “hero” encourages, we oblige.  Our “hero’s” character is impeccable; we have made it so.

 

Their character is impeccable because we have forgotten that our “heroes” are first human; and short of the Messiah, no human’s character is flawless.  We forget that.  And so, when a “hero” perceives they may suddenly lose their privileged status — falling far, far from grace, so-to-speak — they have significant reason to lie.

 

Who’s your “hero”?

 

Oscar Pistorius?  Steve Jobs?  Barack Obama?

Martin Luther King?  Pete Rose?  Margaret Thatcher?

 

Living or dead — “good people” or not — our “heroes” are first and foremost human.  Human means not a savior, no where close to a messiah, and always capable of error.  Hence, because a “hero” often arises to such status due to the inflating by the people around him/her, when that status is jeopardized, they are tempted to do what it takes to keep it afloat.  They have learned how to juggle and maintain the inflated status for so long, they are then motivated to do what it takes to survive the for-once-penetrable claim.  Lying is an option.  Perhaps lying (egad) was even learned long ago… learned as a means of actually juggling the status…

 

When confronted with the charges against him, the family of Oscar Pistorius released an immediate statement:  “The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms.”

 

Of course the murder is disputed…  No hero would do such a thing…  This is impossible!  We should note that the reality is that even though no other person is known to be their house that morning — and that Pistorius has been involved in previous domestic violence incidents — that Pistorius may be innocent.

 

Innocent or not, our “heroes” sometimes lie.  They unfortunately have reason to do so.

 

Respectfully,

AR

state of the government

Today marks our 4th annual State of the Government address.  In our initial analysis, we made the following primary observations:

 

The State of the Government is too partisan.

The State of the Government is too influenced by money.

The State of the Government is too big.

The State of the Government is financially imbalanced.

The State of the Government is too far removed from the Constitution.

 

The following conclusion has also been expressed these past 4 years:  “The State of the Government has digressed over several decades, and until we responsibly address partisanship, special interests, size, spending, and straying from the Constitution, we will be challenged to admit even the Union is strong.”  My strong sense is the above is still true; the question is what can we do.

 

Government is too partisan.  Pre-speech analysis from multiple, varied sources suggest that Pres. Obama’s speech will be aggressively progressive this evening.  As Politico states, the President will “pay lip service to bipartisanship, but don’t expect anything like the call for peaceful collaboration that defined his first address to a joint session of Congress in 2009.”  Is the partisanship right?  Is it wrong?  Let me not answer the question; let me only ask another:  does this approach help?  Rightly or wrongly, during both the Obama and most recent Bush administration, the partisan divide has only gotten bigger.  If persons within either party or the media have intentionally drummed up partisan passion in order to propel one side of the divide, then they have done an ethical disservice to our country.

 

Government is too influenced by money.  Sticks and stones seem to fly on this issue, with people blaming one person or party or a singular judicial decision.  Based on objective research, it’s my conclusion that the moral digression due to money increased exponentially during the Carter administration, when lobbyist restrictions were significantly eased.  Until lobbyist monies are again restricted, the purity of our democratic process will continue to be obscured.

 

Government is too big.  Let me make this is as simple as possible.  Who watches their pennies more:  a small business on a tight budget… or a massive conglomerate with no budget?  The nonpartisan CBO projects the cost of the federal government to be $47.2 trillion over the next 10 years.  That’s an annual growth rate of approximately 6.7%, trouncing the growth of the private sector.  In a government that was created for the people and by the people, it was never intended to do all things for all people.  There is no way $47.2 trillion is being spent effectively.  And there is no way all those pennies are being counted.

 

Government is financially imbalanced.  Whether monies are spent on war or domestic programs, the government continues to spend.  They don’t balance their budget; they don’t even have a budget.  No business entity that attempts to operate with continued deficit spending for this long with zero plan to pay it back would be allowed to exist.  The elect continue to simply kick the plan for balanced spending down the road.  Is it because, as some say, in this economic state, we can’t do that right now?  Or, as I believe, do they avoid cutting spending in the sake of political expediency?  Let’s balance the budget.  Let’s make a plan.  Let’s stick to it… like every other wise, existing household in this country.

 

Government is too far removed from the Constitution.  Far too many are far too comfortable believing contemporary opinion trumps foundational truth.  “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  The above Preamble was written to inspire an improved government (improved from that which was established via the Articles of Confederation).  Our founders desired a country that would be just, internally peaceful, and externally protected.  They desired our citizens would be blessed and free.  Too many today justify legislation that dictates exactly how people should prosper, how tranquility is insured, and what (in their opinion) is a more perfect union.

 

As said previously amidst these posts, far be it from the Intramuralist to suggest that the State of the Government is the sole fault of the current congress and administration.  But far be it from the current congress and administration to suggest it is the sole fault of their predecessors.  The reality is still true that the State of the Government has digressed over several decades, and yes, until we responsibly address partisanship, special interests, size, spending, and straying from the Constitution, we will be challenged to admit the Union is strong.

 

Respectfully,

AR