THE GROOVE …

“You can’t make old friends,” is the way the saying goes. And it’s true.

The older I get, the more my inner circle of close relationships tightens. In a world that increasingly refuses to look at anything or anyone in context or offer forgiveness for human failing or just simply agree to disagree, it’s more and more important to have people in your life who know what you’re really about; who understand your true motivations; who can see your life as a sum of its years, rather than a snap-shot of one bad (or even good) moment.

I have about five ongoing text threads with some close friends. We’ve all known each other for several decades. We know the embarrassing stories and the truth behind the great successes. We are all more like brothers than friends. And these relationships sustain me in times of heartbreak or anger or fear. These men are my “go-to” for answers. And no matter what kind of trouble I may be in, I know they will not judge me in any way…in the moment. They’ll just use it to make fun of me later. As it should be …

One of these guys was set up to be my nemesis. In our teens, we both played drums. And we were both pretty good at it. I had just won a talent show for our church organization, when some random kid came up to me and said, “You’d better watch your back, man. Devin Pense is coming to take your crown.”

I was confused. I didn’t realize I had a crown. And who was Devin Pense? And what was he going to do to me that required me to watch my back? As much as I didn’t want any part of it, the rivalry was on. And for the entire summer, people speculated on what would happen when the two drumming phenoms in our little organization, finally collided.

Finally, the day came when his family had moved to town. I was hanging out on our college campus when someone told me that he was at the tennis court. “I have to meet this guy!” was my response. And my 18-year-old legs hauled me down the hill, toward the sound of the racquets hitting tennis balls.

There he was, sitting on a bench, watching a game. He looked like a Nordic Prince with his shiny blonde hair and ice blue eyes. Wow – he really WAS the golden boy. I was immediately intimidated. But as I got closer, he seemed to recognize me. He walked up to me and stuck out his hand. “You must be Regie,” he said, smiling.

I quipped back, “And you’re Devin. Do we have to fight or something, now?”

We both laughed and rolled our eyes. And in that moment I realized that he understood the absurdity of it all as much as I did. And that understanding has informed our relationship from that day to this. If you were to read one of our text threads, you wouldn’t understand it. Because it’s all based on our constant calling out of the absurd. It makes us snicker and sometimes belly laugh. But it always keeps us in a place of not taking ourselves too seriously.

As Devin and I aged, we both shot for the moon career wise. And in a lot of ways, we lassoed that baby a few times. He lived in Nashville for several years, where he directed or produced every major music video for pretty much every major music artist. Our stars rose simultaneously and we shared some great times.

But then he saw our family drama unfold with our daughter. He was right there when my career crashed in the desert like some phantom meteor. And when he could, he would overpay me for writing a music bed for a video here or some 30-second fluff piece there.

Then, in 2009, his world fell apart when his marriage ended. He spent most of the summer of 2009 at my house, helping me tinker with my new studio and sleeping in my guest bedroom. I hired him to do the photo shoot for my 2010 CD, Set It On Fire.

We burned a piano in a friend’s field (with no fire supervision whatsoever …that’s how old guys do it), almost killed ourselves trying to get some cool shots, then we hugged and he left for the coast the next day. He’d been hired to build a little TV network for a lady named Oprah Winfrey.

The next time I spoke with Devin, he was at Snoop Dog’s house, talking with Will I AM.

Over the next few years, Devin and I had hundreds of conversations about everything from the meaning of our work to the meaning of fame to the meaning of our childhoods to the meaning of our place in the world, to the meaning of life itself. We often muse about why something works and why something doesn’t. We have both seen the absolute highest highs of our chosen professions and the lowest lows. And the discussions that ensue, about those very things, have been something we have often wished the world could hear.

So, a few months ago, Dev started this pod cast called The Groove, chronicling those type of issues and stories. He had me on as his first guest. And I was cheering him on. But people kept telling us that our chemistry was really good.

Finally, one night, in the middle of one of our wee-hour, whiskey tinged phone conversations, Devin just said, “Dude, why don’t you come on board as my co-host on this thing? We’re better together. We always have been. You drive, I’ll navigate and we’ll rock!”

That was all I needed to hear …

So, we’re sort of “re-launching” the pod cast, The Groove. The upshot is that everyone is here for a reason, but sometimes it takes a long, circuitous path to get to that reason and finally find…you guessed it…the groove. It hearkens back to our beginnings as rival-drummers-turned-lifelong friends, who discovered that we were not as important as the work was; that “the groove” didn’t need us as much as we needed it.

We will be interviewing people from all across the spectrum of human endeavor. We will be talking to musicians and artists as well as film makers and scientists. And it will all point back to that illusive thing we’re all trying to reconcile: why am I here and how am I making a difference?

I’ll be making the links available and I hope you’ll all take the journey with Devin and me. I promise you we will stumble on things you’ve either thought about and couldn’t quite put into words, or maybe even some things you’ve never thought about. Either way, we hope everyone feels that bigger connection to everyone else. We hope it’s a breath of fresh air in a world steeped in cynicism and negativity.

After all, if two teenage boys can set aside their oh-so-important drum rivalry long enough to become friends and brothers, then maybe the rest of the world can find some common purpose ad healing.

Maybe together, we can all find …The Groove.

R

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TIME AFTER TIME …

What’s done is done…or is it?

If you are supposed to meet someone at 2 am, and you forget, just set your clock back an hour and blame them for the whole fiasco. Then tell them YOU were there at the correct 2 am – not the incorrect 2 am. What’s wrong with that logic?

See how easy it is to win an “I’m not late, you’re early” argument? Just re-set the clock. When they ask, “what the hell, man?” Just say, “I change the clocks from time to time. If you’re not hip to it, that’s kind of on you.”

Obviously, that’s a ridiculous scenario and argument. You can’t just change time. Time is what it is. Isn’t it?

Well, apparently, you can change time if you can get the government to mandate it for everyone. And then if you’re still having that 2 am meeting with a friend but you want to be an hour late, just set the meeting for November 3rd. They will be like, “dude, it’s 3 in the morning. I’m fading here.”

And you can be like, “Um, you are mistaken, my friend. It is 2 in the morning and THIS is our set meeting time.”

By the way, don’t ask why people are meeting at 2 in the morning. Just go with it …

If you look up the reasons for Daylight Saving (no “s” – I literally just learned this) Time, you will get all sorts of really smart sounding answers. Yes, there is a winter and summer solstice and the earth tilts and the days get shorter and longer and blah, blah, blah. And yes, we all understand that kids catching the bus at 6:30 in the morning (which is the time both of my children catch it) will be in the dark for an hour or so. Yes, there are some agriculture considerations (I suppose) when factoring in sun up and sundown.

But the sun doesn’t really come up earlier or go down earlier. We just say it does. The sun does what it does. The earth does what it does. All of the time changing is for the stupid humans to decide when to start their days.

As the story goes, Daylight Saving Time was enacted during WWI to conserve energy. When I read about how and why it was done, it sort of makes sense to me. But right now, as I’m typing this, I cannot for the life of me remember or figure out how changing the time conserves energy in this day and age…unless we wet our clocks back to 1919…which I assume we can do, since we seem to be masters of time and space.

Setting clocks back and forward reminds me of rewinding a DVD. Rewinding made sense when there was tape in the cartridge. But if you watched a DVD now and rewound it, it would simply be meaningless and a waste of your…well…time. It doesn’t apply.

My 13-year-old son doesn’t understand the concept of having to be in front of the TV, at a certain time, in order to watch a show. He just doesn’t get it. He has been raised in a world where time isn’t an issue when it comes to devices. It’s all available anytime you want it, at the touch of a button. If you miss it the first time, just go get it on demand or find it on the internet. Or just set your DVR and watch it whenever you want to watch it. There is literally no reason to have to be somewhere, where visual entertainment is concerned (with the possible exception of sporting events).

My son also plays video games with kids all over the world. So they’re all in different time zones all the time. The idea of setting clocks back and moving them forward is so weird to him. It’s weird to me, too.

The world doesn’t move the way it used to. We live in a constant awareness of activity. “The world” doesn’t sleep, anymore. We all sleep in shifts, now, waiting to re-join the already-in-progress moving and shaking. We fly from LA to New York and handle the three-hour time shifts in stride. We do business all over the globe and simply take a few days to shake the jet lag.

Daylight Saving Time – or the other time – or whatever it was before that – is fine. Can’t we just decide on it and keep it where it is?

Well, in the spirit of answering that question, I woke up this morning and decided to be the change I wanted to see in the world.

I’m going to start a petition, calling on Congress to pass a law that ends Daylight Saving Time – or whatever the other one is. After we “spring forward” this coming March, my petition would call for not ever changing the time again. Let’s let it be what it is …forever.

I don’t have a clue how to do this, but I say just share this post on social media and type your name in a comments thread underneath if you’re in. I’ll try to transfer it to some official document to present to my representative.

THIS is where we can come together as a nation and make a difference, however small it might be. THIS is where Republicans and Democrats can put aside their anger and hatred of one another, bind up the nation’s wounds, join hands in unity and walk together toward a more perfect union.

Okay…maybe not that, but at least we can keep our friends from punking us on 2 am meetings in November.

R

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OLIGARCHS AND WATER WORLD …

“I wasn’t forced to pay for Water World …” was my response.

The person arguing with me over something political, stopped cold and looked off in the distance. “Well, I guess I didn’t think about it that way,” they replied.

See, we were having a discussion about some new government program Bill Clinton was proposing. And it honestly sounded exiting and like something we, the public, should be on board with. The main selling point of it (at the time) was that it was going to cost the federal government less money than it had cost to make the ill-fated Kevin Costner epic, Water World. That’s a pretty good selling point in a boardroom somewhere, trying to get someone to invest in the next iPhone or HVAC innovation. But this was government. And I had just sent them an enormous tax check. And I had no choice in the matter. And the person I was debating had never sent them a tax check …ever. So, obviously we viewed the government from two different vantage points: me from an investor’s point of view and they, from a consumer’s point of view.

Those two points of view are the primary difference in how we all see government function and funding.

Much ado is being made about the President’s asking of a foreign leader to look into corruption by certain people in our government. I heard the transcript of the phone call, read aloud, the first day it was published. None of it stood out to me as anything out of the ordinary for one president to say to another president. Maybe I wasn’t listening hard enough.

But then the business about Joe and Hunter Biden surfaced. And everyone on one side was quick to claim it was corruption. Everyone on the other side was quick to claim it wasn’t.

Here’s the thing …

The family business is a great, American tradition. In fact, it’s a great global tradition. We hear TV and radio commercials all the time (hell, I’ve written jingles for them) about businesses that have been around for “generations.” Father learns how to repair diesel engines and starts his own shop. Then he teaches his son how to repair the engines. Son grows up and teaches grandson, and so on and so on and before you know it, Smith’s Diesel Repair has been in business for 60 years and they know everything there is to know about diesel engines.

I actually love stories like that. A lot of those family operations have gone on to be great American companies, who employ lots of people and do a lot of good in the world.

But the family business operates within certain codes: we can’t take our customers’ business for granted and we can’t force anyone to buy our product.

Now, the family business can (and often does) promote some weak, spoiled child who has no business in that business. A parent’s love is a powerful thing. And many is the time some gritty entrepreneur, who worked 18-hour days, poured blood, sweat and tears into a dream, built it from the ground up and won in the marketplace, has a soft spot for a certain son or daughter who didn’t have to go through all the same things mom or dad did. And that person gets the reigns of a company they didn’t build, and they end up driving it into the ground.

That’s a common story in American business.

Then, sometimes a son or daughter watches closely and learns well and respects the sacrifices made on their behalf, and they end up taking a small business left to them, and turning it into some kind of powerhouse industry no one saw coming.

But in both cases, the market is allowed to vote on them …VOLUNTARILY.

Neither you nor I are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of Smith’s Diesel Repair. They are. If we need Diesel repair work, then we will be forced to engage them or someone like them. Otherwise, we are out of the equation completely.

The thing that is often so subtle about government is that it is so a part of our daily lives, we forget who is working for whom. We see people in public service as “authority” figures, when they are nothing of the sort. In OUR form of government, the elected officials work for WE. THE. PEOPLE. It’s not the other way around.

So many times, that barely seen, but profoundly deep, line between “public” and “private” gets blurred to the point of unrecognizable.

I have heard on a continual loop, that Joe and Hunter Biden have been cleared of all wrongdoing and that they have already been investigated and have been found innocent of anything even resembling corruption. Of course, nobody ever cites any of these investigations and none of us have any idea who did the investigations or when they happened or, more importantly, WHY they happened. But I suppose if Anderson Cooper says it, it must be true.

But despite all these investigations that showed beyond all doubt that the Biden father/son connection to Ukranian natural gas exploration was completely on the up and up, I still find myself scratching my head about the main point: Joe Biden wasn’t the president of the Ukranian natural gas exploration company. If he had been that, then, his son suddenly showing up on the board and being rewarded with a big salary would be completely natural. Still unseemly, but natural.

No, Mr. Biden wasn’t the president of that company. Instead he was VICE PRESIDENT of OUR company; the people of the United States. And he was directly in charge of the American effort to direct investment funds toward helping with Ukranian natural gas exploration. None of this is my opinion. IT’S ALL ON THE RECORD.

I don’t know if Joe Biden ever used his influence to help his son keep a job. And for all I know, Hunter Biden is a great asset to companies who are exploring for natural gas. But none of those things are the point.

The point is this: when people in positions of “power” are wielding large sums of the people’s money, and their family members get intertwined through  business, with that money, and nobody sees a conflict of interest with that, things have gone astray.

Only someone who has been in government too long would see his son sitting on the board of directors of a company he’s about to funnel American tax-payer dollars to, and not see it as a problem. And I get it. If I’d been doing something for decades and understood the ins and outs of it like few other people, and my son was somehow benefitting from it indirectly, I might not think twice about it. It might just seem like business as usual. Hey, I’ve got sons. They work in different fields. At some point they’re going to come in contact with this tax money I’m throwing around. What’s for lunch?

But the money isn’t his. It isn’t his company. It isn’t his decision. It’s OUR decision. See, WE didn’t have a choice about where that exploration money went. WE didn’t get a say in who it was sent to. WE had no vote in any of it. WE were sent tax forms to fill out and told “pay or else.” WE had money taken out of our paychecks every first and fifteenth. WE had no choice.

And that gets me back to Water World …

I have no doubt that the Trump organization has all sorts of twists and turns and family entanglements that would boggle our minds. It, too, is a family business. And since he has been president, who knows if his corporations and/or children have benefitted directly or indirectly from his position. When you start out with a brand as pervasive and entangled with global governments as the Trump brand, I can’t imagine those scenarios aren’t out there somewhere. And if they are proven and corrupt, proper action should be taken. Although I can tell you now, that it has all been investigated and it’s all been proven to be completely on the up and up (see, Anderson …anyone can do it).

But at least that brand got built privately and you nor I had to pay for it through coercion. We had a choice as to whether or not we stayed at a Trump hotel or gambled at one of his casinos. Nobody showed up in black suits with certified letters, forcing us to fork over our money to his business.

In the case of ANYONE who has made a career out of government, every pay check they deposit was once extracted from someone else’s. They work in the only business in America we all have to subsidize in order to stay out of jail. And anyone who went into government with modest means, but who came out of it wealthy, is doing it wrong.

If Kevin Costner wants to make Water World 2, he will go find some people willing to gamble on it. And I don’t have to be one of them. Or I can be. It’s about choice and risk and reward. And the public can decide to go or not, without their paychecks getting garnished.

But if the government decides to make Water World 2, we’re all on the hook for it. And if it bombs, we get to eat the cost and shut up about it. And if a VP’s son happens to be on the board promoting it? Well, that’s probably fine as long as Anderson Cooper says it is.

R

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MADE IN CHINA …

I have mixed emotions about the atomic bomb.

On one hand, I shutter at the horror unleashed by Fat Man and Little Boy, the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can’t even fathom the absolute obliteration of humanity. My heart aches for the innocent civilians completely wiped off the face of the earth in that world-changing moment, that introduced us into the age of utter annihilation.

But on the other hand, my grandfather (a U.S. Marine, in the pacific theater) had just survived Okinawa, one of the most horrific battles of WWII, and was training for the invasion of Tokyo. The casualty projections were grim, to say the least. It was estimated that one million (yes, that’s ONE MILLION) U.S troops would be killed trying to manually take Tokyo. My grandfather would’ve been in the first wave. It is almost a certainty that he would not have survived the invasion.

Had he not survived, he wouldn’t have come home to Mississippi and produced my mother. And had that not happened? Well, I suppose no one would be reading this.

It is a strange thing to trace your very existence to some grizzly event in human history. It fills you with questions that cannot ever be completely answered. Am I glad my grandfather survived? Am I glad my mother was born? Of course. Am I happy that thousands of Japanese people had to die, in one of the worst ways imaginable, for those two things to occur? Of course not.

When I see old newsreel footage of the world’s first mushroom cloud blooming over its target, I am horrified…while being strangely relieved.

If we learn enough about the world around us, we will all be faced with similarly unanswerable questions. And those questions will usher you into the world of “gray areas.” I envy people who can see things in sheer black and white. For them, the world is a simple place with clear rights and clear wrongs. I’m sure that makes sleeping a whole lot easier. And I’m sure it fosters the kind of mental health I am certain I do not (and will probably never) posses.

Just this week, we watched Ellen Degeneres give us some lessons in being kind to people with whom you disagree. I like that about Ellen and I think, for the most part, she is right. But I wonder how far that extends. Would I be kind to Harvey Weinstein? Could we laugh it up in sky box, somewhere, while watching a football game? Could I put aside my feelings about David Duke and just share some common humanity at a good, old fashioned American sporting event? Could Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and I make small talk around the finger sandwich table, at a cocktail party?

Some lines are just drawn in the sand. And while I like and respect George W. Bush, and therefore like Ellen’s response to her detractors, a lot of people think Mr. Bush was a war criminal of some kind. They have real anger toward the man. These are the fault lines in our landscape. And they’re unavoidable.

China seems to always be in the news these days. Or current president has an issue with China the way Ronald Reagan had an issue with the U.S.S.R. And so, we find ourselves, as Americans, engaged in the policy and politics of a nation ten thousand miles away from us. We find ourselves tangled up in their decisions and their reactions to us. We like to believe we can simply live and let live and not be interconnected to the world. But the truth is, we cannot. As a cast of pop stars once sang, We ARE the world. We actually are.

When the NBA decided to take stands on either side of the “China” question, all that black and white stuff started shading gray again. And, as is always the case, people retreated to their corners to fight it all out on social media. And, as is almost always the case, salient points to missed right and left.

The truth is China is a tricky place right now. It is the emerging economy in the world. But it is also an ancient culture that resents being denigrated or told what to do. And so anyone wanting to do business in China is constantly walking this fine line of appealing to its free market leanings while not insulting its leaders or its way of life. This is not conducive to American sensibilities.

I understand the conundrum intimately. My wife and I have personally lived an epic story that emanated squarely from American ethos, and ran directly into Chinese pathos.

We adopted our daughter from China, almost 17 years ago. The current film about that journey and two of the most “American” of Americans wanting to save an orphan’s life, but who were given something special, unexpected and extreme by an overworked and overwhelmed system, that ultimately led to that special Chinese child saving them, then winding its way through an American Idol finale and back the Beijing Olympics, is currently in pre-production and on its way to a “green light.”

But from the beginning, there have been concerns about how certain parts of the Chinese system will be perceived by the China market. It’s one of the reasons it has taken so long to get the film into production. You literally cannot hide the main character…my daughter. And she is a direct result of a humanitarian crisis we also cannot hide or gloss over. There are over fourteen million Chinese daughters in the United States right now, who are adopted. And all of us who are the parents of those children, thank God everyday for them. And yet we wish there were no such circumstances on earth that would create that many orphans. And we find ourselves in the middle of one of those unanswerable questions.

So, for me, what it all comes down to (and what it HAS to come down) to is seeing people as humans first and then honestly wanting the best for all of them.

Am I a proud American? Yes I am. And why? Because I believe the American ideal; the American idea; the American dream (if you will) lifts people into a higher place. I believe it allows the individual to become the truest form of what they were designed to be. It frees the human spirit and allows it to soar beyond its perceived limitations. And that extends to anyone, from anywhere.

My Chinese daughter is soaring and thriving and breaking barriers and having an effect on people from all walks of life. And as a American, what I want to say to the Chinese people isn’t that I condemn them or their system, but that I wish the same things for them that I have seen happen to one of their own daughters. I wish for them to rise beyond their own expectations. I wish for them to enjoy freedoms and opportunities and hopes and dreams of their own making and choosing.

I wish we could see just how intertwined we all are. Bombs and wars and atrocities connect us and we cannot change that. But so do giggles and babies and the promise of new life, and the hope (and yes, sometimes mischief) in the eyes of child…even one with the rarest of disabilities.

My grandfather fought the Japanese. My daughter was made in China. My wife is the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant. And the result of a frowned upon mixed race marriage. I am an American dreamer and self proclaimed “Infidel.”

And yet, here we are…ALL  children of God.

R

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THE THINGS WE DO FOR OUR KIDS …

It’s a pretty famous episode. And it’s almost cringe-worthy by today’s standards.

Arnold keeps riding his bike on the sidewalk, which, in Mayberry, is a no no. He was warned by Barney Fife, himself. But then he continued to do it. So Arnold was taken to the Sheriff’s office for justice.

The “hearing” consisted of Andy spelling out what the actual statute said, chapter and verse. Arnold’s dad pleaded “he’s only a kid and none of it really hurt anybody. It’s just a bike on a sidewalk. Sheesh!”

But Andy retorted that people come in and out of those stores, onto that sidewalk all the time. It’s dangerous to ride a bike there. And that made the absurd arrest start to make a little more sense. Although, I was still pretty much on Arnold’s dad’s side: it’s just a kid on a bike. Do we have to go through all this?

But then Andy pushes harder and demands that the bike be impounded, as per letter of the law. And Arnold starts to cry. And the dad’s case seems to be stronger. I mean, why do this to a kid? Let him ride the silly bike!

But then Andy pushes even harder and threatens to put Arnold’s dad in jail. This seems beyond all reasonable standards and practices. I mean, really? Putting someone in jail for their kid riding a bike on the sidewalk???

But that’s when we see Arnold’s true character emerge. And it’s not good. Arnold goes from crying contrite tears to thumbing his nose at the law, declaring that his dad can take a day in jail with no problem because he’s “tough.” Arnold’s dad realizes that his son is willing to sell him out JUST to keep doing what he’s doing without consequence. And you can see, by the look on his face, that he now knows that his sweet, innocent little boy, who cuddled with him next to the fire and called him “da da” when he was a baby, and learned to walk by holding his hand, is turning into a bad person.

In the next scene, Arnold’s dad is taking him out to the “woodshed” to get spanked. This scene would ignite world-wide controversy, were it to be aired today. I can only speculate as to how many child psychologists would be paraded through the talking head zones of every major (and minor) cable outlets, seething in righteous indignation toward the moralization of child abuse.

Of course, this wasn’t anything controversial at the time. It was just the Andy Griffith show.

But this episode reminds us of what we will do for our children and how we justify things when it’s “out kids.”

It’s hard to imagine that your child will end up being a bad person. It’s almost the hardest thing to imagine. To you, they are always the three-year-old sweetie who brought you unsolicited gifts and ran without abandon into your arms, giggling and squirming. They were your joy. They were your life. They were your hope. And when you find out that their character can be just as corrupt as every other human’s, it’s a sad day. You simply don’t see them that way. As Arnold’s dad said, “he’s a good boy.” That’s how all of us see our boys. I’ve said that very thing about my own son, after he’s done questionable things.

My wife and I always shocked our kids’ teachers by telling them, at the beginning of every school year, that we were on THEIR side. If we got bad reports from school, we were going to be on the side of the teachers. NOT our son. We told him that as well. The teachers have always told us that that is the exact opposite of most people. In most cases, the teachers are having to fight the kids AND the kids’ parents when it comes to a dispute. But that’s how society breaks down. And that’s how we begin to erode the law.

Our son always knew we would be fair. He always knew we had his best interests at heart. But not at the expense of allowing him to break rules and get away with it.

We currently have a political climate where rules and statutes and actual laws are being interpreted by those who, like Arnold’s dad, only see what they want to see. We’re assigning INTENT to our opponents in ways I’ve never seen.

I’ve interviewed Adam Schiff. He seemed like a reasonable person and we even shared a laugh or two. But when I watched him literally make up a scenario that didn’t happen, and read it into a congressional record – then later ADMIT that it was made up as “parody” – I wondered if he’d actually broken a law. And I felt a little like Arnold’s dad. And it saddened me.

I see Joe Biden standing next to his son and I know he loves him. He lost one son already, and I can only imagine what he would do for the surviving children. Did he do something illegal to help him out? I don’t know. I know the kid was troubled and had some substance abuse problems that got him sent out of the military. Would I help MY son out in a similar situation? I know I would want to.

I see a president sniping and fighting and tweeting and I know that he was, at one time, someone’s little three-year-old boy, playing and giggling and bringing smiles to his parents’ faces.

The reason we have laws and facts and rules of evidence, is because we’re all “Arnold” at one time or another. Or we’re Arnold’s dad. And we see the person; the baby boy without malice; the sweet kid; the bubbly little life, incapable of wrong doing. But the law sees the crime and the evidence. And sometimes it’s hard to separate the two.

I think all parents have a fear that one day their child will inadvertently commit a crime (maybe they didn’t even know they were committing) and we’ll be faced with a choice to either turn them in or help cover it up. I know it’s a weird fear to have. But parents think about these things. My biggest fear in all of it, is that I wouldn’t think twice about helping cover it up. I’ve worked in prisons. I would never want one of my children to live in one. None of us want that for our children.

Maybe the best thing we can do, to keep that from ever happening, is to not let them get away with riding their bikes where they’re not supposed to, in the first place.

 

R

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THE ANGRY CHILDREN …

It all comes down to fear.

Fear drives anger. It’s a pretty well-researched and agreed upon psychological concept. And once you start seeing angry people as simply afraid, it changes your response to them.

Our children are angry. Very angry. They take to the streets about every chance they get, and hoist signs above them calling for this change or that change or some kind of change. Something is wrong. Something MUST be fixed. Things simply CANNOT stay the way they are.

I’ve never marched in protest to anything or in support of anything. So, I can only assume there is some gratification or release that takes place after a public protest. But it must be short-lived, because protesting never seems to end. And these days, our children are constantly marching up a storm.

My 12-year-old son cannot understand the concept of having to actually be in front of a TV, at a certain time, in order to watch a program. It literally makes no sense to him. Nothing in his electronic experience is predicated on a set schedule. Everything in his world is there when he needs it to be there. It is at HIS disposal – not the other way around.

But I remember (and it wasn’t that long ago) “Appointment Television.” I remember remote controls without pause buttons. Actually, I remember turning channels with a set of wire pliers, because the cheap, plastic channel turner broke off in my hand. And I was really angry about that. My grandfather, on the other hand, seemed to just be glad we had a TV in the first place. He was so content with simple things. How could he be that way?

I now know why. He was happy with things I was angry about, because he had lived through the Great Depression and had faced things FAR worse than a broken piece of plastic. So, he was truly grateful for the roof over his head and the soup in his bowl. And I wished I had that kind of contentment. But how could I with that stupid, broken TV looking like that???

We are raising (and have raised) a generation of people who have known and experienced things humans have only dreamed of for thousands of years. This is the most amazing time in the history of mankind as a species, to be alive and human on planet earth. And yet, we see children trembling in anger and barking curses toward everything and everyone in front of them. Why?

They’ve been told that their planet is dying and on fire and that it’s the fault of other human beings who simply don’t care about them or their existence. And for people who have also been told that they are special and perfect and the center of the Universe, this presents a uniquely untenable situation. It foments a kind of unfixable paradox. And it creates an insufferable human being incapable of gratitude. After all, what is there to be grateful for when the very ground on which you stand is being destroyed…by someone else?

The greatest disservice we have done to our children has been to turn them all into myopic activists. They are growing into people with no perspective and no contentment and, above all, no gratitude. They demand immediate action for things they believe. And they never take into account the fact that they may not be completely correct in their belief. This is how dangerous societies form.

My wife works for an Airline. We love the travel industry. It not only allows us to fly occasionally, but it also pays for our health insurance and dental visits. We’ve staked a pretty good chunk of our lives on it. My wife works very hard and spends weird hours away from the family, to stay in this industry. And now we have children speaking to people in power, actually discussing the end of the air travel industry.

Let’s be honest, kids. That’s not going to happen. Nor should it happen. Airplanes take us to dying relatives and reunite us with lost loved ones and move us to new opportunities and get us to life-changing meetings and sometimes, just get us to a beach. Does that jet fuel have an effect on the environment? I can’t imagine that it doesn’t. But is it worth it? Ask anyone who ever rode west in a covered wagon.

We’ve not getting rid of air travel. And to seriously discuss it in actual corridors of power and influence, makes people nervous. It undermines stability in something we’ve all agreed upon as a society.

You can extrapolate that out to almost any industry.

What are we willing to shut down for the sake of the planet? Taylor Swift concerts? Netflix? Youtube? Fortnite? Swimming pools? Heated and cooled college campuses? HGTV renovation shows? Pizza delivery? Luxury hotels? Muppets on ice? The NFL? The NBA? Disney World? Vegas? Broadway? Starbucks? iPhones? Road trips?

We have so much in this world to be grateful for. Many of the very things that are supposedly “killing the planet” are often marvels that have moved human existence into a world of unprecedented comfort, access and overall health.

Maybe we should start teaching the kids to be grateful FIRST. Then, look for ways to improve on our challenges. Let’s be thankful we can work on new technologies that might lead to more energy efficiency, at night…without having to use whale oil or wooden torches. Maybe we could check those computer models and that satellite data by first being thankful we live in a time with computers and satellites. Maybe a little gratitude for the coal burning electricity will help us graduate out of it one day.

Nothing good comes to you without gratitude. And we have so much in this world to be thankful for. Our lives are easy compared to the lives lived before us. Every time I use my TV remote, instead of those pliers, I know this.

Maybe there’s not as much to fear as we think. Maybe anger shouldn’t be our first emotion. Maybe gratitude should be.

Because sometimes, things actually get better. They have so far.

 

R

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WHAT IF WE’RE WRONG …

“Stop the insanity!”

That was the catch phrase, I think.

The “fitness guru” (I believe that was her actual job title) told us to stop eating “fat” and start eating clean carbohydrates…or something like that. I can’t completely remember. All I know is I could have fifteen baked potatoes instead of one bag of chips. This was how I was going to stop the insanity.

Knowing what I know about health and fitness now, I think she was right about a few things: you do have to move and you do have to eat and you do have to breathe. All three things…very important. And hey, she was a private citizen, paying for the TV time. Nobody was being forced to listen to her and take any of it seriously. And maybe she helped some people. And maybe she didn’t help others. Either way, she wasn’t asking anybody for a vote at the ballot box. She just wanted to sell her fitness revolution.

Just a few years earlier, though, my grandfather had been placed on a very strict diet, after his first open-heart surgery. It was a low-fat, high carb diet. Only his guidelines came straight from the federal government. No butter or eggs or cheese or red meat. Nothing “fatty.” But even with this government-sanctioned diet, his weight didn’t change all that much. And for some reason he kept having to have open-heart surgeries. Two more, to be exact.

He died, years later, of something completely unrelated to his heart or his diet. He should’ve had the bacon.

We want to believe we know the truth about things; the rock solid, can’t-be-disputed truth. We need to base our lives on it. The world is a confusing enough place. And so we look for any corner of it that we can quantify or qualify or put in a box or place on solid ground. Some find absolute truth in their faith. They “know that they know that they know.” And they base their life on it.

How many heated online arguments have we all seen, between the theologically “learned” (pronounced “learnED” – that always sounds smarter and more sacred because it has a touch of King-James-speak) about the meaning of this scripture or that one. How many articles have we seen, talking about how “the church” is “slipping into secularism?” Or how many have we seen from the other point of view, that asserts that “the church” isn’t relevant enough in today’s culture?

How many judgement calls do we make daily, based on the things we know with absolute certainty?

A young pastor, here in Nashville, committed suicide last week. I was asked by several people to comment on it or blog about it. That’s because we need voices we trust to give us assurances that what we’ve based our lives on are truths. Some people need for him to have gone to hell. Some people need for him to have gone to heaven. Some people need for whatever his pain he was in to be validated. Some people need for it to be invalidated. Some people need for his suicide to be a statement on Depression. Some people need for it to be a statement on his own narcissism.

In the end, no matter what statement I make, or anyone makes, none of it helps him. And none of it helps his family. And, there’s a good chance that none of it helps the next person contemplating suicide.

For those who can’t find the absolutes they’re looking for in faith, they turn to science …

Surely we can know all the unknowables through science, right? Science is fact. It cannot be argued with. It governs the universe. Doesn’t it???

How many Facebook arguments have we witnessed, between people who know just enough about science to be dangerous online? I read a thread, just this morning, about climate change. That’s a subject that brings out all the people who “know that they know that they know” (very much like those religious people who have read the bible through a few times). Phrases like “peer reviewed” get thrown around a lot and tons of percentages get used. Climate warriors love percentages. Then, the other side quotes their percentages and statistics and reports. And everybody posts their links. It’s not a good online argument without the mic drop links that lock down the proof on your side.

But all science is only based on what we NOW know. And none of it is based on what we might know a hundred years from now. And that makes so much of it speculative. Any GOOD scientist will begin any conversation with this phrase: “based on current facts.” Because they know that facts can change as we learn more. And they often do.

Anyone who believes science has all the answers has never funded any scientific research. It has been my experience that good scientists are as much seekers as anyone else. And their minds are often far more open than the people looking to them for something solid on which to base their lives.

So, where is the young pastor spending eternity? Is your eating of animal flesh causing you to be unhealthy? Will Miami be underwater in 20 years? I’m going to make the most controversial statement a human being can make these days: I. Don’t. Know.

“I don’t know” is a phrase we simply abhor. Because it doesn’t give us the footing we’re looking for. It forces us to continually consider other sides and other points of view. We don’t want to hear “I don’t know” from our preachers or our counselors or our personal trainers and definitely not our scientists. “I don’t know” leaves us unsatisfied and groping in the dark for answers.

But until you can live with “I don’t know”s, I’m not sure you can come to any peace in your life.

I found a doctor who gave me all the health answers I’d been looking for, once. He opened doors of knowledge I didn’t know existed. Through him I learned that fats weren’t the problem. Butter, eggs and cheese hadn’t been my grandfather’s downfall. Sugar had been. I learned about science and health and genetics and it all tied together through faith, somehow. And I was certain I finally had all the answers I had been looking for my whole life. And more important than just my belief in his answers was the fact that they actually worked.

And then, that doctor died of cancer at age 63. His exhaustively researched and well-thought-out answers couldn’t save him in the end.

Were they wrong? Was HE wrong? Again …I don’t know.

True freedom doesn’t come until you question everything you’ve been taught and accept that you may be wrong about everything you believe. Jesus might not have existed. We’re accepting everything we think we know about him and his teachings, on faith. We’re accepting that the writers of the Bible are who it says they were. We’re accepting that they didn’t embellish or misremember ANY single detail. It’s called faith, because that’s exactly what it is.

But everything we think we know about current science is also being taken on faith, as well. We put our trust in reports and reviews made by human beings. And we believe that their research and conclusions are correct and accurate and checked and re-checked and essentially…infallible. And we rule out bias and corruption and, well, simple error. And we have faith that it’s all true. It’s called faith, because that’s exactly what it is.

But what if we’re wrong about all of it? Or most of it? Or some of it?

I find that my faith is much more solid when I’m able to say, “I don’t know” than it is when I’m sure about everything. Because true faith knows it’s all going to be okay…even when you don’t know if it is.

 

 

R

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THE BEST MEDICINE …

You can’t make yourself laugh.

You either laugh or you don’t.

Funny is involuntary. My mother used to try to be mad at my brother and me. But we knew how to make her laugh. And we would do it when we knew we were in trouble. And she couldn’t contain herself. This was a woman trying to discipline two teenage boys. That’s serious business. But we knew the things to say that would tweak her funny bone. And she would break almost every time.

Why?

Because you can’t make yourself laugh.

You either laugh or you don’t.

I love standup comedy. I love it more than I love music. Given the choice to go see a concert or a comedian, I will choose the comedian ten times out of ten. I incorporate a lot of comedy in my own shows. I’ve got plenty of music in my life. But I crave laughter. We all do.

Dave Chappelle is a brilliant comedian I’ve been a fan of for almost two decades. He’s just funny. When it comes to comedy, they say you either say funny things or you say things funny. Dave does both. The jokes land as written. But his delivery takes a snicker and turns it into a belly laugh.

His new Netflix special is called Sticks and Stones and as with all Dave Chappelle specials, I had to check it out …

Apparently, this new 60 minutes of comedy is stirring up controversy all over the internet. His directly walking into the grievance culture for material has stirred up the backlash he talked about from the stage …in his special …about grievances.

In other words, people are doing EXACTLY what he said they would do, upon hearing his comedic rants. Now, granted, he tackled issues like abortion and gun violence and the LBGTQ community as well as child molestation and the absurdity of the Jussie Smollette case. That’s a full plate of “can I please get publicly flogged?” And apparently, he is.

Here’s the thing …

As much as I have always laughed at Dave, he made his career bones by enumerating the differences between black people and white people. That’s an old Def Comedy Jam hack move I’ve never really cared too much for. We get it: black people and white people are different. Yes, they talk differently and walk differently and act different when they get fired and blah, blah, blah. But somehow, Dave has always managed to couch it in a way that simply makes me laugh. I can’t tell you why. But you either laugh or you don’t. And I laugh.

But I have to set aside all my feeling about being a “white guy” in order to participate. I have to recognize that he’s not talking about me (personally) when he makes the deeper points about white people building the “road of segregation.” And he’s not talking about himself when talking about “hood niggas” (his word – DEFINITELY not mine). These are stereotypes. And they are only “based” on patterns we all try to make sense of. Laughing at them is a good way to diffuse them and drain their power.

If I wanted to be combative about Dave Chappelle’s comedy, I could take issue with his constant portrayal of the “clueless white guy who is latently racist” as offensive. But I don’t. He’s doing a bit. And I get it.

But where is the line? Is telling women that they could just “shut the f$%k up” when it comes to equality in sports, funny? Is telling boys who may have been sexually assaulted by Michael Jackson that they should be proud that THAT was their first sexual experience, funny? Is comparing himself to actually being Asian inside of a black man’s body, to transgender people – THEN talking like the biggest Asian stereotype on earth, a knee-slapping good time?

Not when I type it out like this. There’s no context and no nuance. There’s no laugh afterward that says, “I’m kidding – it’s a joke.”

If someone did a bit on people with special needs, that made THEM the butt of the joke, I would not find it funny. But there IS comedy and absurdity in the world of special needs. My wife joked once with the high school counselor, that we weren’t going to be “those parents” who insisted that our daughter be on the Cheerleading team. We all laughed a knowing laugh because in the special needs community, we all know those “stage” moms and dads who insist on shoving their child into every “ableist” endeavor simply to prove a point. There’s a joke there. There’s a funny absurdity there, that is more about the parents than the kids. But it’s a fine line.

We live in this new world where we simply refuse to attach context to anything. We’re like a bunch of trial lawyers, continually cross-examining the other side, for ANY slip up that will allow us to chalk up a win. And in this constant word game, people are starving for someone to say, “would everybody please lighten up?!?!”

But we don’t.

Some of the same people who are defending Cave Chappelle were “horrified” when Donald Trump joked about being “the chosen one” sent to deal with China. I got the joke. I saw the context. It wasn’t anything that made me laugh, but it WAS a joke. And at some point we all have to exhale and snicker.

The truth is, life doesn’t have to be unfunny. We will do a lot better if we laugh at ourselves. Or one day a generation of humans is going to wake up and study video of stand up comedians, and not have a clue what they’re watching. And they’ll think it’s all literal and they’ll be horrified.

At that point, we will have all turned into robots who have nothing left to laugh at and no way to soften the cruelty of the world by poking fun at it.

Hopefully, I’ll be long gone by then.

R

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THE GREAT AWAKENING …

The camera adds ten pounds. It’s absolutely true.

People look at themselves in pictures and on video and say, “is that really ME?!?!?!” Yep – that’s you.

The same holds true with voices. The first time you hear your voice recorded and played back for you, it can be devastating. You sound great in the shower. Why don’t you sound the way you sound in the shower?!?!

The metaphorical mirror is sometimes hard to look into. We have a sense of ourselves and how we fit into the world. And then we get these jolts of reality that show us a very different portrait. Sometimes we think we are the Mona Lisa only to find out we are dogs playing poker, or worse yet, just an advertising poster for something or someone else.

Never before in history have we had more connection to each other as humans, than now. Also, we’ve never seen so much of ourselves than we see now. Any garden variety soccer mom or dad has more information posted about them than many people in history who changed the world. We know more about the personal eating habits of Karen from down the street than we know about Ghengis Kahn’s eating habits. There are more pictures of any given teenager, posted in one, two-hour period, than exist of Abraham Lincoln.

Some see this revolution (and it IS a revolution) as toxic and addictive and something to be avoided. But what if it’s none of those things? What if it’s just a reflection of who we are and who we have actually always been? What if this relatively new phenomenon of social media is the next wave of human development and evolution? What if we haven’t been able to see all the layers of humanity until now? What if it’s all been covered up with the politeness that comes with proximity and the subtlety of tone, but THIS is what we really are and we’re just now seeing it for the first time?

Personally, I love social media. Fifteen years ago, when my family was groping around in the dark, looking for answers to deep questions about our daughter’s mysterious condition and trying to find support from anywhere, there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter or even Myspace. The internet was there but finding actual connection through was difficult and arduous. You couldn’t just reach out to someone’s “page” or “DM” them. Now, there are support groups all over the world that connect in real time and communicate in real time. And that’s a good thing.

The kind of information my son has access to is staggering, compared to the limited information I had access to at 12. And his knowledge of things has challenged me to be more informed and more open minded to my own misinformation …but also HIS misinformation. That’s where the new awakening is a two-edged sword. Anyone, with any agenda, can put information into the pool that may or may not be accurate or even true. And though we have access to more information than ever before, we also have access to more MISinformation than ever before. And it can be maddening as we are face to face with all the things we have taken on faith our entire lives.

It’s 2 in the morning and you’re drifting off to sleep and suddenly a thought you’ve never had in your life wafts through your brain, “IS the world really flat? That article was actually kind of convincing …”

You’re pretty sure America went to the moon in 1969, but some of those links your friend spammed on your comments thread seem credible. Hmmm …

And suddenly the ground beneath our feet starts to shake.

Everything is exposed. The curtains are being pulled back and the room is awash in blinding sunlight. And our eyes can’t adjust quickly enough to take it all in. 30 years ago (which isn’t that long ago, by the way) a tsunami might hit a small, third-world coastal town and kill a hundred people and literally no one might know about it. Now, the video of it is viral and the entire world has seen it and it’s “evidence” of climate change. Or a cop loses his mind in Kansas City and shoots an unarmed suspect as he’s running away. In 1978 we would’ve never heard about it. Now, we all know about it and it’s seen as another reminder of “systemic racism” within the ranks of the police.

Both things might actually be true. But they also might not be true. And that is what we’re having to grapple with.

I asked a question on Facebook yesterday: what has been the biggest waste of time in your life? Hands down, the number one answer was either Facebook or social media. I wish I could say I was surprised. But I wasn’t. I knew that would be the consensus. But I also found it ironic that all of these answers came from people LITERALLY on Facebook at the time.

We don’t bash social media because we think IT is toxic. We are really bashing social media when we don’t like what’s coming back to us. It is shining a light on what we may have always been as a society, all along. And that frightens people.

Social media cutting through the physical plain and getting right to what we think. Where it used to take us 20 years to discover our close friend was passive aggressive, we can now see it in real time, in three posts. We used to suspect that guy from work was a toxic personality. Now, we have absolute proof.

But conversely, we can also discover wonderful things about ourselves as well. Where we might’ve had to go through months of grueling conversations to discover some beautiful revelation about something our spouse or brother or sister or mother or father was going through. Now, we might get a quicker glimpse with the post of a telling picture or a heartfelt “I just need to post this today.”

Eventually, just like that camera or that microphone, our social media newsfeed tells the story of us. If you ever take the time to just scroll through your feed, you will find out what motivates you, what drives you, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you angry and what makes you cheer. You will find out what you’re a slave to and what thoughts and feelings control your entire existence.

How many of us thought we really liked someone until we saw them rant on social media about something, then discovered we really had no basis for friendship at all? And how many of us have gained close friends we’ve actually never met in person, because we saw common ground on something we thought or felt …and not just because we lived three doors down form each other and got together at neighborhood parties?

Your feed is you..for better or worse.

People constantly preach the gospel of getting off of social media. But I say stay on. Obviously, you have to have balance in your life and you can’t simply live in a screen. But if you want to know more about yourself, post more. If you want to know more about others around you, read more posts and yes…comment on those posts. This isn’t a negative. It’s a positive in the long run.

Experts are always saying things like, “We need to have a national conversation” about this issue or that issue. Well, guess what? We are. The conversation is here. We all have a voice at our very fingertips, now. There are no more excuses for ignorance or not being heard or not being seen.

Sometimes we’re not lashing out at social media because of what’s being broadcast on the screen. Sometimes we’re lashing out because we don’t like what we see in the monitors.

R

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INSERT NAME HERE …

“Dad, do you like President Trump?” my (then) 10-year-old son asked.

I answered, “I don’t know him.”

“I mean do you like him as a president?” he retorted.

“Some things I like and some things I don’t like,” I answered.

He looked very perplexed. He clearly wasn’t getting the clear-cut, definitive statement he wanted.

“Well, did you like president Obama?” he asked, exacerbated.

I stared straight ahead through the windshield, never taking my eyes off the road, and answered the same question with the same response, “I don’t know president Obama.”

My son rolled his eyes and huffed and puffed, “What do you mean, dad? You either like a president or you don’t!”

And there was my chance. He’d teed it up for me. And we were in a locked car together, so he couldn’t get away. I waded in …

“Just because you like someone as a person, doesn’t mean you always like what they actually do as a president. And sometimes you might not like someone as a person but you actually like what they do as a president. It’s kind of like when I see you misbehaving. I don’t stop liking YOU …I just don’t like what you’re doing at that moment. So, I try not to make judgements on people I don’t know, as to whether or not I like them. All I know, when it comes to presidents, is whether or not I like what their policies do.”

My son listened intently and absorbed my words. And that led to a conversation about policies and which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t. And that led to a conversation about why I did or didn’t like those policies. And that led to a conversation about what motivates us to do pretty much everything we do in life. And eventually, as it always does with a 10-year-old, it came back around to video games and skateboarding…which made me much happier.

I’m not sure I’ve ever voted for a “person.” And I bristle when I hear people say, “I vote for the man (or woman), not the party.” The problem with that is we don’t know these people. And no matter what you think you know, everyone is sure to have some deep, dark past transgression that would make your skin crawl if it was revealed to the world. People are a flawed, dinged up mess. And they WILL let you down. That is something you can take to the bank. That’s why I vote for ideas over people. Even then, the people implementing those ideas will do it in a way that will probably be unsatisfactory to me and millions of others.

The only president I actually “liked” was Jimmy Carter. He was elected to the highest office in the land when I was 9-years-old and had been the Governor of Georgia when I lived there as a little boy. My father’s church presented him a Bible on the Capital steps, when I was 5. As he walked down the steps to accept it, he tousled my hair and smiled at me. I thought he was wonderful.

But then, in 1977, my family did our first cross-country tour to California. When we left Nashville, gas was. 52 cents a gallon. When we filled up just over the California line, it was $1.12 a gallon. The gas prices had swung so wildly I thought the world was ending. Then I remember my grandparents talking, over dinner, about their retirement investments not being able to keep up with inflation (whatever that was). And I remember trying to remodel a house, where the price of materials was so high, we could barely afford to buy what was needed just to pass inspections. Then I remember hostages being taken, in Iran and being scared to death every other day that Russia was going to send a nuclear missile to blow us up at any moment.

Then, this guy I couldn’t stand got elected and unseated my beloved Jimmy Carter. On the day that guy got shot, I actually wasn’t all that sad about it. I didn’t like him. He’d said mean things about Mr. Carter. But then more time passed and some of the problems I’d known growing up, seemed to miraculously get solved. Suddenly, money was a little more readily available than it had been. We lived in a better house. We drove a better car. And before I know it, they were tearing down the freaking Berlin Wall, something no one in my generation ever thought would (or could) happen.

And when I studied it all later, as an adult, I realized that Jimmy Carter might’ve been the better person. But Ronald Reagan was the better President. And that’s when I stopped basing my votes on who I liked and didn’t like.

If you know exactly what you believe about the role of government, its place in our lives, how it should be used, how it shouldn’t be used, where it is needed, where it might be more of a hindrance, the candidates are a mild amusement in the process. And their personality only figures into the equation of whether or not they can or will actually do what they say they will do. Beyond that, most of what we kick and scream about in politics is palace intrigue and personality examination.

I’m not sure any black person cares whether or not Abraham Lincoln was actually a racist or not. Lyndon Johnson definitely was by today’s standards. But both men recognized the expediency of the moment and helped millions of people in the process. Do their personal feelings about black people even matter if they did right by them?

I recently listened to a report about Google and its manipulating of certain kinds of data that supposedly could change the outcome of an election. And I found that troubling. Not so much that Google was up to something sketchy. I’m an out-of-work songwriter partially because of Google and their tech cousins – I KNOW they’re all up to sketchy stuff. No, what worried me the most was the fact that people could be swayed so much by certain kinds of information.

The fact that the criteria for how we vote is so malleable it could be changed by an algorithm, says a lot about what we vote for and what we don’t vote for.

That is why I vote for ideas – not candidates. I support ideas – not people. I endorse ideas – not contenders.

It keeps the air clear and the view clean. And when you’re basing your vote on a world view and how a president might carry that world view out – it frees you form having to own everything they do as people. I’m sure not all John Edwards supporters are douchebags who impregnate other women, while their wife is dying of cancer. He alone owns that. A Kerry/Edwards vote didn’t make you complicit in such actions. Rest easy.

And if Bill Clinton was indeed a participant in the Lolita Island exploits of the newly suicided Jeffrey Epstein, we can’t make the people chanting “4 more years!” complicit in those crimes. People don’t know what they don’t know.

It seems our elections never stop. Our next presidential election isn’t for another 18 months, but we never get a break from rallies and debates and sound bytes  and “breaking news!” And it’s exhausting.

But I know what I believe works and what I believe doesn’t work when it comes to government. And I vote in those directions. And nothing a person in (or out of) power does surprises me or disappoints me or upsets me or thrills me. At best, politics is a pragmatic mess. And so are humans.

R

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