Freedom, A Fundamental Change – To The Right

OPEN LETTER TO LAURA INGRAHAM AND ALL FELLOW PATRIOTS!

Dear Ms. Ingraham,

What this country needs to survive is not a focus on politics, elected officials or even the removal of a tyrannical President.  What is needed is an informed electorate that understands and cherishes freedom!  We need an informed citizenry that won’t abide politicians and special interest groups robbing them of their freedom, especially for a mere “30 pieces of silver”.

The fact that Barrack Obama was elected twice demonstrates the general lack of regard for freedom in our country.  Our society, our culture has shifted, over the course of the past 100 years, from “Can do,” I’m responsible for my own life, to a dependent, what can the government do for me society.

If the citizens devalue their freedom (consciously or unconsciously) in exchange for security (actually a false sense) then we will continue to be represented by corrupt and ideologically driven individuals. The country will continue into ruin and tyranny regardless of which party is in charge.

I’m not suggesting that we ignore the current legislative, political and cultural battles.  We must continue to fight for the principles that this country was founded on.  But if the fight is only within the Beltway of Washington or even in the State and local governing bodies we will eventually lose this country. We’ll lose the battle and our freedom because we didn’t capture the interest of the dependency class, with those who look to the government first, those who believe in equal outcomes not equal opportunities.

It is highly unlikely that we will convert many if any of the ideologue on the Left.  They are too invested in applying their arrogance to obtain power.  Barrack Obama and the other elected leftist ideologues have obtained their position of power because too many American’s have abdicated their responsibilities and their values in the vain hope that the Left will take care of them better than the Right. In fact they have come to believe that it is their “right” to have the government provide them with “free” healthcare, equal compensation, food, etc.

Our society hasn’t changed over night.  Our tenuous hold on freedom is not the result of Obama’s “Hope and Change,” his tenure has been the icing on the cake. Our slide into slavery to the state started a long time ago. How has has this occurred?  What forces have been at work since Woodrow Wilson, eroding our values, our understanding of the responsibilities associated with self-rule, and the value of freedom?

Certainly political programs such as the New Deal and the Great Society have had significant impacts on eroding our freedom by creating a dependency class.  But the growth in the power of progressives could only happen if we let them.  Whether though lack of interest, ignorance or passivity American’s surrendered their responsibilities and in the process we find ourselves in a time and place where the vision and personal sacrifices of the Founding Fathers have been squandered.

Constitutional Amendments and changes in the political balance of power will not avert the impending doom that we are faced with.  What is necessary is a fundamental change in the thinking, education and belief structure of our fellow citizens.  What is needed is to take the battle beyond the ballot box and into the homes, TV’s, movies, concerts, books, businesses, and schools.  We need to win back the hearts and minds of America!

What We Need:

Television shows that are based on the principles that made this country great and unique.  These shows must have the best writing, acting and production and they need to be aired on network TV.  If we can’t get them aired then we need to create our own channel and promote it heavily.  I know Sarah Palin just started her own channel, but I’m suggesting main stream, ported into the majority of homes in America!  Why is this important, just watch a few shows and count the number of moral, ethical issues that are contrary to the values that made this country great.

Motion pictures are also necessary for the same reason as television shows.  We live in the media age and it is through cinematic story telling that we can reach the hearts and minds of the people most effectively.  Films such as “Fireproof” and “America” have been great and have done well but we need full scale, wide distribution, Academy award quality (Although we would never be nominated) productions that can present a viable and realistic alternative to tyranny.  When I can’t even take my grandkids to “How to Train Your Dragon 2” because the film-makers thought it necessary to include a homosexual character, you realize that we are in dark and troubling times.

Education of our youth needs to be attacked hard to counteract the century-long progressive assault. Text books, teaching curriculums, and alternative delivery systems (internet based, homeschooling etc) need to be created and pushed to the parents of our young citizens. Dennis Prager for example, has developed “Prager University” to provide resources to educate America.  This is a great and valuable resource, one that needs to be expanded and prompted to all American’s.

We need to apply these same strategies to all forms of communication and entertainment so that we provide to the people the information for them to be able to make informed decisions, for them to understand what’s at stake, to understand the consequences for letting government rule our lives.

How?:

This is the hard part.  I personally feel frustrated because if I won the Lottery I’d go out tomorrow and start building these freedom enterprises, but that is highly unlikely.  Even if I did win we’d still need a coalition of prominent American’s to come together with shared vision, resources and connections to create a seismic shift in the balance of power – from the government to the people.

Contrary to your book, “Shut-up and Sing,” our “Hollywood” brethren need to shout from the rooftops the message and the value of freedom so that “Power to the People,” can be restored.

Lincoln

“The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use.” Abraham Lincoln

The music was playing yet it seemed as if the theater was totally quiet.  The movie had ended and the credits were rolling on

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States

the screen yet no one spoke, no one moved, no one got up to leave – everyone sat silently staring at the screen, not even turning to look at whoever they had come to the movie with.  Finally, as the credits began to end, one by one people began to get up from their seats and head for the theater lobby, again in total silence.  I turned and looked at my wife and she was in tears and I understood instantly what impact this film had had on her.  For myself I was angry, very angry.

The movie? “Lincoln” by Steven Spielberg.

This film will certainly join “Schiendler’s List,” the other great Spielberg film, as one of the best motion pictures of all time.  It is a powerful piece of cinematic story telling and I’m sure the quality of the experience had something to do with the audience’s reaction.  However, my belief is that what stunned the audience was the contrast between real, principled presidential leadership with the lack thereof from the current occupant of the Oval Office, and for that matter most of the recent occupants.

“Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.” Abraham Lincoln

In this portrayal of only a small portion of Lincoln’s tenure as President, Spielberg artfully and with great emotion presents a profile in courage, leadership and values of arguably one of our greatest Presidents.  Lincoln remained focused on restoring the union and fulfilling the promise made with the Constitution to provide equality for all people regardless of race.  He accomplished both by facing the problem and the opponents head-on and always from a place rooted in faith in God and universal principles of right and wrong. He wasn’t trying to transform America, he was trying to restore America.

What we saw from the brilliant performance by Daniel Day-Lewis was an authentic, heroic President that inspired and empowered the people.  This man, Abraham Lincoln, was tuff, sensitive, caring, wise, powerful and smart – he was an authentic man who knew what he had to do even when no one agreed with him.  Did he have shortcomings, certainly and these are woven into the story and the performance.  But above all he was a man for the time. A man for all times.

The movie inspired me to reacquaint myself with Abraham Lincoln, to learn who he was and how he became the President.  I downloaded and listened to a historical podcast by Michael Medved, “The Real Lincoln.”  What amazed me was how incongruous it was for Mr. Lincoln to have been elected President.  Mr. Lincoln was a “common man” and as it turns out that is exactly what was needed at that time in the history of our country.  He was a man of courage and purpose and not your typical politician. His goal was to serve the people and to empower them to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens.

Lincoln“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” Abraham Lincoln

It was this stark contrast between the authentic leadership of Lincoln with the current crop of self-centered, power hungry politicians that brought the tears to my wife’s eyes and the anger to my heart.  How could we let this happen? To trade our liberty for token bits of security from Mother Government?  Why has the country, the majority of citizens turned away from the ideals of the Founding Fathers and now look to the government to take care of them?   Lincoln fought heavy odds to preserve and strengthen the principles of personal liberty and responsibility, in contrast Obama, the Democrats and most of the Republicans (especially the career politicians) want to impose their ideology and their all-powerful central planning vision on us.

Sitting in that auditorium drinking in the power of the film I felt the anger boil up.  The anger that my fellow citizens have fallen so far from what I judge to be the best governing structure ever created by man, the United States Constitution!

Go see this movie, own this movie, make sure your children and grandchildren watch this movie.  I know it’s hard but we must stand up as Lincoln did and do the right thing, to restore liberty, to reclaim the Power for the People.

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” Abraham Lincoln

A Call for Men of Compassion

I still read the adventures of Prince Valiant every Sunday.

When I was a young boy my favorite book was “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.”  This was a small book, small enough to fit in your pocket and it contained great stories, and engraved pictures about that age of chivalry and adventure.  I was swept up in the mythology of the book and spent considerable time reading and re-reading the book to the point that the small book was becoming “dog eared” and falling apart.  My mother understood how important the book was to me and she took it to a bindery and had the book repaired and an new cover attached with the title embossed in gold. I still have this little volume in my library and I’m looking forward to the day when I can share the stories with my grandchildren.

I couldn’t get enough of this mythology, watching every movie, reading comic books (remember Illustrated Classics?) and even put together plastic models of knights.  To this day I still read “Prince Valiant” comic strips every Sunday morning on my iPad.

The stories of King Arthur and his Knights represented values that I learned, later in life, to hold dear.  These myths defined a world that was intentional, powerful and worth fighting for. These stories about Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere while they were fables still communicated truths that are still relevant today. I knew even as a young boy that the stories weren’t true but I still believed in their moral and I was able to use that understanding to help guide my journey to manhood.

Over the course of the past three years I’ve become aware of a different mythology, a political mythology that isn’t honest, isn’t true and certainly doesn’t espouse moral values.  I own, upfront, my bias in this matter and I find it difficult to identify myths about Liberals.  However, this supports my claim that today what is presented as political truth is in fact nothing more than mythology used to manipulate people into supporting specific politicians or more precisely denouncing the opposition.  I ask that you suspend your immediate reaction to what is presented here and see if through an open mind we might be able to achieve something, together.  I’ll use the mythology applied by the Left to denigrate the Right as a way to illustrate my point.  Please respond with the myths that the Right promote about the Left!

“Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to deprive healthcare for the elderly.”

“The Republican are waging a war on women.”

“The rich don’t pay their fair share of the taxes.”

“People on the Right only care about making money and don’t care about the common man.”

“Conservatives are anti-immigrant.”

“Conservatives hate homosexuals.”

I could fill the rest of this blog with an educated repudiation of each of these myths.  Not a single one of them is true for me or anyone I know who believes in conservative values.  Instead I’m inviting you to participate in a discussion about the core mythology:

“Liberals are compassionate while Conservatives are not.”

There isn’t an issue in our society that can’t be distilled to this fundamental myth.  Regardless of the facts or the costs a Liberal will always believe that their polices are superior because they are certain that they care and we don’t.  For example, take the recent support for gay marriage by President Obama.

A Liberal colleague at work asked what I thought about the President’s recent support for gay marriage and I voiced my objection to changing the meaning of marriage to include same-sex couples.  His response as he walked away, “So you want us all to be miserable.”  Wow, he didn’t ask for an explanation for my beliefs and I didn’t say anything about how I feel about homosexuality; he just made the intellectual leap, driven by his emotions, that if I don’t agree with him then I’m an uncaring, hater of gays.

He is an enlightened and compassionate person while I’m a neanderthal.

How can we deal with any of the challenges that confront this nation if we won’t listen to each other.  In the situation mentioned above I wanted to have my colleague explain his position, I wanted to learn how he would draw the moral line; what was the moral authority for re-defining marriage?  Can brothers and sisters marry?  Is polygamy acceptable?  Can a father marry his daughter?  If we’re going to define marriage in a way that has never been done before then what’s the basis, what’s the authority for the new definition?

The Liberal “compassion myth” wouldn’t allow the man from engaging in a meaningful dialog about the definition of marriage.  He didn’t want to hear that I have the upmost respect for my gay colleagues.  He doesn’t want to learn about the close personal friends I have with men who happen to be homosexuals.  He doesn’t want to hear that I want equal rights for all citizens regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.  He doesn’t want to hear the basis for my belief that marriage isn’t a right protected by the Constitution, it’s an institution.

The Liberal walks away and the ideological gulf widens and with the help of the newspapers and TV we end up with more division, more animosity, less understanding and no solutions.

I’m sick and tired of these spit wad fights ( See my earlier blog entry on this subject, http://wp.me/p1MpDw-n) while “Rome Burns!”  My challenge to all that read these words, especially the men, STAND UP FOR CLARITY.  Exercise true compassion and put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Make every attempt to understand their point of view and how they are directly affected.  Then clearly articulate your position and the basis for your beliefs.  Lose the sound bites and dive into the deep water of understanding.  I’m not asking that you agree, I’m asking that you put down the shield of self-righteousness and listen, to have ears to hear and eyes to see.  For me this is a moral issue that men must step up and be the leaders for creating a safe and positive environment for the exchange of ideas. We as men need to get past the propaganda and the myths we hold dear and clearly define the problems so that we can arrive at sensible and well thought out solutions.

As an architectural student back in the late 60’s I learned that defining the problem clearly, usually resulted in the solution becoming known quickly.  We had to “chew” on the subject for awhile in order to gain clarity but once there, the solution would appear naturally.  We as a nation need to start defining the problems more clearly in order for us to create a more perfect Union.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Omamacare) is a perfect example of how the problem, the question has NOT been clearly defined.  The result is a two thousand page law that no one read and no one can fully understand and that doesn’t actually reduce the cost of healthcare.  If we define the problem as, “We want to reduce the cost of healthcare, maintain and improve that care and make the care available and affordable to all citizens” then we’ll have a dialog that will result in a very different outcome.  We’ll be able to explore what, if anything the Federal Government needs to do (ability to sell insurance across State lines for instance) and what programs and laws can assist in achieving the stated goals at the local and State levels of government.  If we define the problem as ”How can the political class control the lives of the citizens,” then we get Obamacare.  Instead we enflame the situation through our mythologies about the Left being compassionate and the Right wanting to push granny off the cliff.

My humble request is that you join me in the dialog about fatherhood, manhood, the economy, the definition of marriage, or any other social issue.  Respond with your beliefs not your judgments.  Respond with insight and reason about the basis and the authority for your position.

Let’s not hide behind false compassion, let’s stand up for clarity and understanding and be authentically compassionate.  Let’s stop trusting our lives to career politicians and media pundits and reclaim the leadership of this great country.  Join me in picking up the sword of truth and the shield of faith to become the new knights for clarity!

Joe Cryns and the Ugly Hawaiian Shirt

No more Hawaiian shirts, but what's up with that hat?

“Aren’t all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?”

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Remembered

This man shows up at an early San Diego New Warrior Training Adventure in an ugly Hawaiian shirt and he’s reluctant to make the commitment needed to enter the training.  He struggles but participates even though he has doubts.

After the training this man shows up at the “graduation” celebration in Olivenhain again wearing an ugly Hawaiian shirt.  Once more he’s not sure if he wants to participate, especially in the suggested follow-up groups.  After kicking the dirt and jawing for a while he participates in the celebration.

A week later this man shows up at the warehouse in San Diego where we stored the training materials between trainings and where we conducted the post training Integration Groups (I-Groups).  Again, this man shows up in an ugly Hawaiian shirt expressing doubts about this “work” being for him.  At this point I bribe him and he makes the commitment to participate in the eight week I-Group program.

This man was Joe Cryns.

The world is a better place because Joe made those decisions back in the early 90’s however reluctantly and I’m a better man for having had the privileged of knowing him.  Joe’s passing last week is a blessing in that he no longer suffers from the cancer that was attacking his body and a great loss for his family, friends, and those who won’t have the great joy of having their lives “roughed-up” by Joe.

In a recent Blog Posting, “The River Flows Through Me,” I pass along the metaphor, provided by a recent retreat leader, of our dysfunctions being a raging river that is excavating deep emotional grooves in our souls.  In that article I suggest that what is needed to change the course of that river is someone or something to “disturb” the flow and change the course, radically and in a positive direction.  Joe was someone who could “disturb” your life!

Many of the postings since his death talk of Joe’s irreverence, his mischievousness, or how he didn’t follow the “rules.”  They are all correct, Joe was all of that and more.  Once Joe was able to throw off the shackles of his “ugly Hawaiian shirt life” and discover his true self there was no stopping this man from helping others to do the same.  Joe didn’t “color outside the lines” because he wanted to be an anarchist or nonconformance, he did whatever was necessary to “disturb” the person who was struggling, as Joe had, by finding out who they were and what was working and not working in their lives.  And Joe always accomplished this with joy, humor and compassion.

The compassion and sensitivity of Joe is not often discussed but he had a great capacity for both.  You get past the bravado and elfish playfulness and you find a man that cares about life deeply.  Two stories from past New Warrior Training Adventures in Edmonton Canada paint the picture of this side of Joe Cryns:

Trainings in Edmonton always included several members of the local native tribes and this particular training was no different.  Early in the weekend, probably Saturday, a staff member, a native, came running to me and another senior staff member saying that we had a serious problem, the training participants from the tribe wanted to kill Joe!  We tried to calm the man down but he was serious and he began to educate us “guys from the States” that when someone touches a medicine man they must die.  What?  What medicine man?

It turns out that Joe had gone up to the medicine man who was a training participant and gave him a hug, not realizing that the man was considered sacred and should not be touched.    Joe was attracted to his man by his sacredness and not knowing the “rules” authentically expressed his compassion for the man in his own honest way.  Joe was thinking about the man, not the labels or cultural stereotypes and I’m not sure he wouldn’t have still offered the hug even if he knew the “rules.”  Joe wanted to share his love and passion with this man at any cost.  I don’t remember how we resolved this matter other than the obvious – I do remember how Joe owned his actions and stood up as a man.

The other situation I choose not to elaborate on the actual event other than to say that after another training, or it could be the same one in Edmonton (they all run together for me), a group of us where staying at the late Gordon Walinski’s (I apologize for not knowing the correct spelling) house in Edmonton.  We all had flights back to the States on Monday so Sunday night after the training we decided to “party.”  Again, the details about this night are not important in fact I can’t remember who was there except for Gordon, Rich Grahalva and Joe.  What is important was that I experienced a side of Joe that night that I’d never seen before – the speechless, humbled and sensitive Joe Cryns!  That night I discovered that underneath all the bluster, bravado and masculine joking Joe was a humble and sensitive man with depth and caring that most rarely got to see.  For those of you who knew Joe just imaging him speechless and transfixed, incapable of action and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Thinking back on these and many other treasured experiences with Joe I realize that I don’t think of him as having been irreverent, mischievous or undisciplined.  I don’t remember just  the jokes, the bravado, the teasing, the playfulness – What I see and will always remember about Joe is that he was a Man, no adjectives necessary and no more ugly Hawaiian shirts!

The Second Emancipation

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

Image via Wikipedia

Over the course of the past year I’ve written several articles related to what it means to be a father, to be a man.  I’ve explored the influences on our character, the need for mentorship and blessings and that we have a responsibility to step up and lead our families.  Well, the time is now for authentic men and women to rise up and reclaim America, or risk losing our liberty, forever. Our liberty and freedom are under assault, not by force of arms although that may follow if the tide isn’t turned; but instead by legislation, regulations and the systematic erosion of morality and values.

The daily headlines tell the story:

  • The Obama Administrations’ attack on the conscience clause and the Constitution by requiring religious based organizations to offer contraceptive and reproductive treatment and services within their healthcare insurance programs.
  • Planned Parenthood’s blackmailing of the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation because the Foundation initially dropped Planned Parenthood from their grant list.
  • The holiest of holy Liberal values, class warfare.

And these are only the attacks that have surfaced this past week!  Throw in mandated healthcare, the “Dream Act” for illegal aliens and the 9th District’s determination that California’s ban on same sex marriage is un-Constitutional and the path to tyranny and the lose of our liberty becomes clear.  You know when a Supreme Court Justice tells other countries to ignore the U.S. Constitution as a model we are in deep trouble.

I find it difficult to understand how educated, intelligent and creative people can support the entitlement policies of the Obama administration that have led to increased dependency on the Federal government in a way that enslaves over half our citizens.  I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with men teaching other men how to take responsibility for their lives, to be authentic, and to live purpose driven lives of integrity yet many of these same men strongly support Obama, even though his policies rob the citizens of their responsibility and freedom!  It’s my opinion that it’s hypocritical to help a person embrace responsibility for their life and actions and then tell them what light bulb they must use; what car they must drive; what health insurance they must purchase; or their religious beliefs are irrelevant when it comes to reproductive control.

Is it right and fair for the Federal Government to demand that health care policies provide for contraceptives and other reproductive services, including abortions,even though these services conflict with my religious views?  Under what authority does the Federal Government have the right to require me to purchased anything?  Do you see how dangerous this policy is?  Once the Government has this power where does that power end?

As I write this, Obama is trying to back off the point by saying that if you are a faith-based organization you will be exempted from the requirement!  What the…?  What about my faith, my beliefs?  The government does not have the right to prescribe this coverage in the first place so exemptions are not necessary because the requirement is unconstitutional!

Obama and his supporters foment “Class Warfare” by proclaiming immoral the extreme disparity between the rich and the poor.  The Liberals use this disparity to argue for more funds to spend on more programs to assist the least among us.  And regardless of the billions spent on welfare we still have people in this country that are poor and have less than others.  The issue isn’t that one percent have the majority of the wealth and therefore the 99% are poor?  The true issue is that we are not teaching our brothers and sisters how to take care of their lives, how to cultivate their God-given gifts to support themselves and their families.

The people who support big government programs will scream, “Where’s your compassion?”  And I say government hand outs are not compassionate.  If you are concerned about someone and their plight then step up and go help them. Gather like minded friends and make a true difference in that persons life as well as your own.  If you think wealth should be equalized then find a group of people who have less than you, combine your resources and divide them equally.  Be accountable.

Taking from the rich and giving to the less fortunate is immoral!  Creating entitlement systems and programs that enslave the less fortunate is immoral!  Empowering the Federal Government to control our lives is immoral!

Government programs have not and will not improve the lives of the citizens.  Prosperity, freedom, liberty and mentoring will.

Government programs have enslaved 50% of the population.  Continuing to support the growth of government will enslave us all!

In 1863, at a pivotal point in our Nation’s history, President Lincoln issued the “Emancipation Proclamation” setting in motion the events that would eventually lead to freeing of slaves in America.  We are once more faced with a challenge that requires no less than a Second Emancipation Proclamation – an emancipation from the tyranny of an overreaching government!

The Second Emancipation will occur the minute we stop looking to the government to effect change in the lives of people and step up and take action ourselves!  The moment we take responsibility for the quality of life within the society then we will be back on the Founder’s road to liberty and freedom!  Imagine the good that could be achieved if you, personally, reached out a helping hand to someone less fortunate, as opposed to a government hand out.

Let the emancipation begin.  Drive out the big government, entitlement obsessed career politicians, of either party; Dismantle all departments and agencies that are not supported by the Constitution; Replace the current progressive tax system with one that is fair for all; and Restore fiscal responsibility.

Let’s celebrate and empower each other!  Let’s stand up for FREEDOM!

 “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Dr. Martin Luther King

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Stepping Up

Are you a man?

Are you a father?

Are you a grandfather?

Are you an uncle?

If the answer is yes then you must read “Stepping Up” by Dennis Rainey! No arguments, no hesitation, no excuses, you must read this book and read it now! I’ve read many books about manhood, fathering and what it means to be a man but this is the absolute best and simplest presentation I’ve come across. Mr. Rainey’s faith-based program for putting our selfishness aside and stepping up in the lives of the young boys and men in our lives is convicting. As I finished reading this short but profound book I found myself flat on the floor, metaphorically, ashamed that fear has keep me from stepping up and mentoring the young men in my life.

I’ve been on a journey (consciously) to discover who I am and what it means to be a man since August of 1990. That August I attended, survived might be a better term, a “men’s” retreat known as the “New Warrior Adventure Training.” My life changed that weekend and since then I’ve been on the quest to become the man God always intended me to be. I’ve written about that experience in a previous post (“An Awakening”) so I won’t recount the experience here, I’ll just say that “Stepping Up” crystalizes everything I’ve learned on this journey – Men must be courageous and take responsibility for their lives and the lives of their families!

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis

Mr. Rainey provides a straightforward program for learning to step-up in your life and the lives of young men. At the heart of this program is that men must have the courage to face their fears, sinfulness, limitations and ironically their strengths. To do this men need to trust God and surround themselves with other men to be challenged and mentored. This support shouldn’t be solution based, the mentors shouldn’t be tying to find answers to the problems in a man’s life. Instead the support should focus on what’s working and not working. What does it mean to be an authentic man and what stands in the way of realizing that authenticity in your life? And Mr. Rainey drives home the importance of this by reminding us that our sons and daughters are watching, intently.

“A Little Fellow Follows Me

A careful man I must always be;
A little fellow follows me.
I know I dare not go astray
For fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes;
Whate’er he sees me do, he tries,
Like me, he says, he’s going to be,
This little chap who follows me.
He thinks that I am good and fine;
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see,
This little chap who follows me.
I must be careful as I go
Through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,
Because I am building for the years to be
This little chap who follows me.

Lee Fisher, as cited in Wooden and Carty, “Coach Wooden.”

Another important point made by Mr. Rainey is that it isn’t enough to be aware or conscious. For a man to be truly authentic and effective he needs the moral compass that can only be provided by God. After all if I don’t have a source greater than myself what is right and what is wrong? If there is no God then moral concepts are subjective not objective and therefore meaningless. And it is this connection and appreciation of God that a man needs to foster in the young, otherwise within a generation or two the values will decay and the culture will die.

Mr. Rainey tells the story of when he was a young boy, about 12-years old, he was helping his father paint the house when he became bored or impatient and wanted to quit and go play. So the young Dennis went to his mother and asked if he could go play with his friends and his mother agreed. Just as young Dennis was convinced he had been saved from the labor his father came in and asked what was going on. When Dennis’ dad heard the pleas he said the following:

“That boy one day is going to be somebody’s husband and somebody’s father. There are going to be people depending on him. He has got to learn how to do what he has to do and not what he wants to do.”

To his credit and the credit of his mother, Dennis returned to his labor, learning a life lesson in the process.

One of the key lessons I’ve learned on my own journey is that the answer to the question of what it is to be a man isn’t contained in a book, even a book as good as “Stepping Up.” The answer is in the hearts of authentic men that courageously step up and challenge, support and love the next generation and the insight and wisdom of Mr. Rainey caln helps us all get there.

“A real man rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects God’s greater reward.” Robert Lewis, founder of Men’s Fraternity.

So, what stands in your way? What stands in mine?

“Hey Occupy Wall Street, Who is John Galt?”

The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations and encampments provide a fascinating and clearly defined illustration of the dramatic difference between Liberals and Conservatives – the Left feels entitled and the Right believes in freedom and personal responsibility.

The name itself, “Occupy Wall Street” tells the story.  The OWS crowds don’t just demonstrate they occupy and seize private and public property, and they defend this seizure by stating their bedrock belief that they are entitled!  The government  they say (that’s you and me by the way) owes them certain basic economic needs, housing, health care, jobs, education, and robust salaries.  They bemoan the the wealth gap between the 1% and the 99%.  They’re owed all this free stuff just because they are alive and they have the right to take anything they want because it’s unfair that some people make more money than they do!

The Left believes that the government must make decisions for the citizens to create fairness and to provide for everyone the “basic” needs of life.  They’re not concerned about how much this costs or if there are revenues to pay for the services, after all  “compassion” trumps common sense and the realities of economics.  In sharp contract the Right believes in the freedom to make personal choices, to succeed or fail by your own skill and effort.  The Right believes that “safety nets” for the less fortunate are good and needed as long as they work and they can be paid for.  Government should provide a safe environment for freedom to flourish and afford a helping hand, not a hand out, when needed.

A book that illustrates the great divide between Liberal and Conservative policies, and does this in a powerful and entertaining manner is “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand.

I finished reading this tome while the OWS phenomenon was taking place and I was taken aback by how prescient Ms. Rand’s 1956 insight was to the events of today.  The anarchy, the seizure of power by the federal government, the destruction of the economy due to that seizure and the erosion of the human spirit due to the lack of any hope are artfully and forcefully told in this story of the conflict between collectivism and personal freedom.

Pundits and critics of Ms. Rand dismiss her philosophy as a glorification of the self-centered and the selfish.  That greed is good and compassion is bad.  That rationality is short sighted and feelings are paramount for a fair and just society.

Contrary to the pundits Ms. Rand glorifies personal freedom and the right to personal property.  The thesis presented is that the State has no right to seize your personal property, either physical or intellectual.  She believes that each individual is responsible for his or her success or failure and should reap the rewards or consequences accordingly.  If you develop a cure for cancer, or produce a better product than your competitors, if you  invest your time and money to accomplish this then you should profit from your skill and effort.  And you should profit as much as the market will bare.

Ms. Rand is unapologetic about the wealth generated by the industrialists of her story.  Again, she isn’t a champion of greed, she’s a champion of freedom.  Ms. Rand creates a tension in the book between the “producers” and the State.  The State is run by champions for “fairness,” for the right of every citizen to receive his or her fair share, regardless of their talents, efforts, or capabilities.  What’s truly discouraging is that the scenarios and the outcomes presented in “Atlas Shrugged” are happening today and the OWS is just the initial exposure of the disease of entitlement that is destroying this country.

 

 “Only a ghost can exist without material property; only a slave can work with no right to the product of his effort.”

In the interest of “fairness” the State is controlling more and more of society and the economy.  As the restrictions, taxes and regulations increase more and more of the producers, the wealthy, stop producing and abandoned the market leaving the State with the responsibility to provide the products and services demanded by the citizens.  The result – an accelerating slide into anarchy and chaos – as the people start to “occupy” the property of others in a futile attempt to provide their basic needs.

It’s this futility that echoes throughout “Atlas Shrugged.”  The futility of the State and the intellectuals to central plan  the society.  Another good source for insight on this subject is “The Road to Serfdom,” by F.A. Hayek which was written near the conclusion of World War II and Great Britain was struggling with how to address their economy after the extreme cost of the war.  Mr. Hayek’s basic argument is that it is impossible for a Central Planner to effectively control the millions of transactions that occur within the economy on a daily basis, therefore a free market is the only viable economic solution.

 “Thus, the more we try to provide full security by interfering with the market system, the greater the insecurity becomes.”

Unfortunately many of the “industrialist” of today don’t have the integrity of their counterparts in “Atlas Shrugged.”  Today the wealthy support and encourage the State and the Central Planners in the “interference “ with the market because they want to influence the system to their advantage.  What the producers of today need to do is to take a lesson from Ms. Rand and be proud of their accomplishments and if the State doesn’t want to stop interfering in the market then they should leave the market and let the State try to figure out how to provide basic goods and services to the citizens.  The result would be anarchy, but out of the ashes we would return to the original founding principles of this great country.

 “We’ve heard it shouted that the industrialist is a parasite, that his workers support him, create his wealth, make his luxury possible – what would happen to him if they walked out?  Very well.  I propose to show to the world who depends on whom, who supports whom, who is the source of wealth, who makes whose livelihood possible and what happens to whom when who walks out.”

The Occupy Wall Street folks are attacking the wrong statistic.  Instead of being concerned about the wealth gap between the 1% and the 99%, they should be focused on the fact that close to 50% of Americans are dependent on or receive some major economic assistance from the Government!  That’s means you as a gainfully employed, responsible citizen are fully supporting one other person beyond your family!  I don’t begrudge the Bill Gates of the world their wealth, they earned it.  I do take exception to one half the population being subsidized by the other half.  This is more than an economic disaster, it’s a  human tragedy!

The supporters of OWS and Liberals in general would be well served to read “Atlas Shrugged” to learn what is in store for this country and the world if the current entitlement mind set is not abandoned!  And this brings me to my final point regarding the relevance of “Atlas Shrugged” to the events of today – Accountability and Integrity!

My recent blog postings have focused on the responsibility of men being fathers to their children and the current state of the culture is the consequence of that abdication by men.  For the entitlement mentality to take hold people must surrender their God-given freedom to others so that they don’t have to bear the responsibility for their lives.  The participants at the OWS events are chanting that they want their needs to be taken care of by the State, thereby avoiding the responsibility for their own lives.

The OWS crowd and Liberals in general refuse to be accountable for their success or failure in life.  They project the accountability on to the State which means that the rest of us are saddled with their care.  This approach is unsustainable and will eventually lead to the destruction of this country unless men of integrity stand up and say no to the growth of the Nanny State!  And this is the pint that Ms. Rand is making.  That by letting the government continue to erode our freedoms, by not demanding that they stop, by just “shrugging” and hoping for the best, we are complicit in the destruction of the economy of the culture of the nation!  We must be accountable and we must stop the march to Statism!

True compassion is for men, and women, to teach their children to be responsible for their lives and not to look to the Government accept in extreme circumstances.  We need to model integrity and accountability in our own lives so that our children learn the hard truth that each of us must be held accountable for our actions, that there isn’t a “get out of jail free” card in an honest and free society.  So, I encourage everyone to read, “Atlas Shrugged;” watch the movie that was released earlier this year; read Thomas Sowell; read F.A. Hayek; read the Constitution and Declaration of Independence; study the history of this great country and teach your children to be accountable!

“He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does.”

“I swear – by my life and my love of it – that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

“The only proper purpose of government is to protect man’s rights, which means:  to protect him from physical violence.”

“When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible:  for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making, for the work of the scientist who discovered the laws that went into making of the product, for the work of the philosopher who taught men how to think and whom you spend your time denouncing.”