The Measure of a Man

Is this a real man?It felt colder than normal that morning as I sat in a circle of inmates inside the Chapel of the maximum security prison.  I was the only “free” man in the group and the emotional flow of the discussion added to the chill that was penetrating my bones.  Myself and six or seven inmates sat in a circle on rickety chairs around a tattered rug with a small wood stump supporting a flickering candle in the middle.  The chapel was a large concrete block space, maybe thirty feet wide, fifty feet and with a ceiling approximately twenty-five feet above the cold hard floor.  The main fluorescent lights were off and the secondary incandescent lighting was dimmed to create a somber yet reverent atmosphere.

It had been serval months, over nine in fact, since we had last gathered.  The result of an “incident” on the yard that ended with several injuries and the inmates “locked down” in their cells – no program, no group time.  This was our first time meeting since the “lock down” and the chill in the air was the grief that each was feeling and expressing about a friend who had been murdered during the time of the “lock down.”  This friend, an inmate had been in our group for many years before being relocated to another Yard at the prison where he was brutally killed by his cell mate.  This first circle back was our first opportunity to share our grief and to honor the spirit of this man who had touched each of us in a special way.

An inmate had a picture of our dead friend and he placed it with honor on a heavy wooden chair that we used as an “alter” in the circle.  This chair was never sat in by members of the group and was placed at the head of the circle as a place of honor for the founders of the work we were carrying on.  We took turns expressing our anger and the grief we each felt for the loss of a dear friend and we shared stories about the man to honor the impact he had on our lives.  A touching and cathartic experience for us all.

What troubles me now as I write this is the selfish feelings I experienced that day.  I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of  appreciation for this fallen brother and the respect that each of the men had for him.  My predominate thought, “Will people miss me like this when I’m gone from this life? Will they gather to tell the stories of how I have affected their lives?”  The selfish pain I was feeling underneath the grief for the dead inmate was that the answer to these questions is, “No.”

My wife will often kid me by saying that “people are always talking about me behind my back.”  Her intent is to good-naturedly tell me that I matter to her and her children.  This has been the core of my inner personal work for the past 22-years but it’s not the point of this blog.  The point is, “What is the Measure of Man?”  This is the question that stuck with me after dealing with those feelings, emotions that morning inside the prison

With this question tugging at my soul the week after that circle inside the prison I came across a book that just so happened to be titled, “The Measure of A Man.”  Go figure.  The full title is “The Measure of a Man, Men Mentoring Me,” by Gene A. Getz.

Pastor Getz presently serves as Senior Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church North, located in Plano, Texas and his ministry career has involved a variety of experiences including Christian education and music ministries, college and seminary teaching. He has also authored over 40 books mostly focused on what it takes to lead a Godly life.

“The Measure of a Man” is an excellent read but it’s true value is if the reader uses the text as a basis for a men’s study group.  The book uses the values presented by the Apostle Paul to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:1-7 ) and Titus (Titus 1:5-10) that Paul believed to be necessary for godly men.  Dr. Getz explores each of these values and provides an outline for further group exploration and discussion that if followed will help men to clarify what it really means to be a man.

The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.  2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher,  3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money.  4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—  5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?  6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy NRSV

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you:  6 someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious.  7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain;  8 but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled.  9 He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1: 5-10 NRSV

Dr. Getz has distilled Paul’s letters into the following 20 attribute of a man and then challenges his readers to evaluate themselves in each area. Talk about convicting!

  1. Spiritual maturity (a well rounded man)
  2. Above reproach (a man of good repute)
  3. Husband of one wife (Morally pure)
  4. Temperate (balanced in words and actions)
  5. Prudent (wise and humble)
  6. Respectable (good role model)
  7. Hospitable (unselfish and generous)
  8. Able to teach (communicates sensitively in a non-threatening and non-defensive manner)
  9. Not addicted to wine (not addicted to substances)
  10. Not self-willed (not self-centered and controlling)
  11. Not quick-tempered (void of anger that becomes sinful)
  12. Not pugnacious (Not abusive)
  13. Gentle (sensitive, loving and kind)
  14. Peaceable (non-argumentative and non-divisive)
  15. Free from the love of money (non-materialistic)
  16. Manages his own household well (a good husband and father)
  17. Loving what is good (pursues godly activities)
  18. Just (wise, discerning, non-prejudiced and fair)
  19. Devout (holy, devoted to God)
  20. Self-controlled (Disciplined)

My first reaction was, “there are 20 qualities!” Really?”! I’ve come a long way since my youth and thinking that the only manly quality was physical strength as portrayed by the Charles Atlas ads in the comic books,  but a man is measured by these 20 qualities?  Even with all of the personal growth work I’ve done, first with the New Warrior Adventurer Trainings and more recently the Inside Circle Foundation prison ministry, I had not considered the specifics of what it truly is to be a man in the eyes of God, family and friends.

Dr. Getz’s book opened my mind and heart to the word of God.

“Listen to God’s voice, which is saying, ‘I love you no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you are in your spiritual growth, no matter what your feelings.  I’m on your side, I have not rejected you.  You are my child.  You can become a man of God, and I’m here to help you.’”

Get the book, challenge yourself.  Find a group of like-minded seekers and use the book as a guide for exploring the soul of becoming a man.  Change the world because we need more men who will take responsibility for their lives and not look to or blame others for their situation in life, especially the government.

“The greatest contribution we can make is to be everything God wants us to be as individuals, as families and as local churches.”

In closing I welcome feedback from those who know me.  How do you see me? How do I measure up to the 20 points made by Paul?  Your honesty and truth would be appreciated.

“If you really want to know what I am like, you’ll have to talk to those who really know me.”

(All quotes, with the exception of the two verses from the Holy Bible, are from “A Measure of a Man” by Gene Getz)

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!

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.”

Fathers Need to Fight For Their Children!

Rock-em, Sock-em, Biff, Boo, Pow!

What a fight we’ve witnessed here tonight.  A classic, a contest for the ages, the battle between the world champion and an unknown, under-rated contender.  The classic David and Goliath battle.

No this wasn’t a classic Gillette Friday Night Fights on the snowy black and white TV in the 50’s; it wasn’t Ali/ Fraser – the Thrilla in Manilla; it wasn’t Rocky.  It was Atom versus Zeus in the World Robot Boxing championship.  This is the climax of a very good movie, “Real Steel” starring Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”) and produced by Steven Spielberg.

What?

“Real Steel” is an entertaining, exciting and creative film that would be worth the price of admission just for the “transformer-like” thrills.  But that’s not why I strongly encourage everyone to go experience this movie and that’s why this isn’t merely a movie review.

“I want you to fight for me!” was the plea of the 11-year old boy (Dakota Goyo) to his estranged father (Hugh Jackman) when his father asked what the boy wanted from him. The truth spoken powerfully by a child! Do we all have ears to hear?  This request, this demand by the boy comes at a time in the movie when the father is giving up.  He’s started to build a bond with his son after 11-years of abandonment and the father still can’t face the ultimate responsibility of loving the boy so he’s giving him up to his aunt (His mother has recently been killed in an automobile accident).

One of my favorite authors, Stu Weber points out, that fathers need to be fathers and they need to stop making their children responsible for the relationship (I need to reread “Linking Arms” and “Tender Warrior” to find the exact quote).  In “Real Steel” the boy is doing all the work while the father continues to let his dysfunctions and his own negative self-image control his behavior, especially with his son.  This is just wrong, yet so typical, unfortunately.

Men, we need to fight for our children.  We need to be authentic and we need to take responsibility for our actions in the world, especially when we co-create  a new human being!  I don’t know if this was what the producers of this movie were intending but it certainly is the message that comes through to me.  Too often men plant their “seed” and are never heard from again; they don’t participate in the support and care of their children; they don’t pay their child support; they abuse their children;  or they abandon their children either physically or emotionally.  Look at the problems in the minority communities, especially the communities of African decent.  The absence of fathers is epidemic.  What chance do the fatherless children have?  Sure, some will be lucky, but most will end up in prison or dead because they don’t have strong men in their lives, they don’t have fathers to fight for them.

I relate to how the boy in the film feels because I was abandoned by my father.  I know first hand what it’s like not to have a father around as I struggled with the issues of growing up.  It was the memory of this pain that defined my actions as the father of my own children.  I worked hard to be there for my two beautiful daughters and when times were the most challenging it was the awareness of the needs of those girls that kept me focused on the bigger picture, kept me fighting for them.

I wasn’t perfect at being the father I wanted to be for my children. It wasn’t until my oldest daughter was 10-years old that I first became aware of my own “junk” and started to transform my life and behavior.  This transformation continues today and I know that my imperfection has harmed my children and step-children and I regret every time this has happened.  However, through it all I continue to do everything I can to help and protect my children, and I always will…I’ll continue to fight for my children!

 Ephesians 6: 4: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord.


Surrender Doesn’t Mean Defeat

Have you ever been at that point in your life where you have been brought to your knees, where you’ve been crushed by the  circumstances of life?  You’ve used all your skills, all your intellect, all your energy and quite possibly all your money and you still haven’t been able to achieve your goals, to succed.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been there, several times and more than likely I’ll be there again.  If you have been spared this experience then I suggest falling to your knees and thanking God for his mercy and his grace. For me these humbling experiences have taught me an invaluable lesson, I’ve learned that surrender doesn’t mean that I’ve been defeated!

As I sat on a large boulder in the middle of the forest I could feel the cool evening breeze wash over my body in a futile attempt to cool the fires of rage, sadness, fear and disaapointment that flooded through my body.  The frustration and anger I was experiencing was intense and overwelming.  My life was over and I’d lost everything, my career, my marriage, my money, there was nothing left and I was ready to give up, I was defeated.

No matter how hard I tried or how creative I was nothing worked out according to my plan and my expectations.  And now I found myself alone sitting on that rock crying under a canopy of a cloud-filled sky thinking that this was the end of my life and there was nowhere to turn, nothing more that could be done.  I was defeated.

The grief that was pouring out felt limitless and uncontrolable and all I could do was to bring myself to my feet and stand on that rock with arms reaching to the sky and from the deepest darkest resevoire of loss yell, “God why me, please take me. I beg you to end this suffering! I have no more to give, I’m finished. Oh God please!”

This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced this level of loss in fact this was only the most recent in a long line of experiences where I felt defeated and lost despite my best efforts to achieve my goals, to capture the brass ring,  to reap the rewards of a successful life.  What felt different this time was I was intensly aware of the pain and I was completely worn out from repeatedly picking myself up and making another attempt.

That day, on that mountain, I felt alone, empty and devoid of any hope.  I had nothing left in the tank and I felt defeated.  I was a failure and I no longer was tuff enough to keep on going through the tuff stuff.

Even though I’d been here before the difference this time was that I had spent the last three years exploring what it meant to be a man, to be me.  I had come face-to-face with  the reality of my life and how I had been unconsciously allowing my actions to hide who I was and how that in turn hurt the people in my life.  With the help of some powerful men I was learning to understand and embrace my emotions.  These men were my “mirrors” to how unaccountable  I was and how I lacked integrity.  I was learning to be authentic!  I was becoming in Native American terms a “hollow bone,” fully alive, stripped of all pretense, and rid of the armour of self doubt.  I was vulnerable and open making this mountaintop experience  almost unbearable.  Yet there was still apart of me, an ancient belife that it was all up to me and if I couldn’t become “successful” then I must be a failure and that I was just taking up space on this planet.

So, I stood on that rock sobbing, shouting to the overcast sky when all of a sudden the clouds parted and I found myself bathed in bright sunlight and I instantly felt the warm yet unfamilar sense of hope flow through my body.  Being so open and aware of my emotions resulted in me feeling an intense rush of energy as I stood there on that rock. My heart and mind were filled with the awareness that the answer to my life challenges was not about trying harder.  The truth was, and is that I’m a broken man and I need something greater than myself to live fully, I need God!  I must surrender to Him and His plan.

The tears subsided and I became quite,  standing still on that rock arms outstreched to the sky.  It was at that moment that I finally understood that I wasn’t alone and that there was a God.  God would provide me with opportunity and friends to help me but it was up to me to take advantage of these opprtunities to ask for the help and at the same time know that I must have faith in God to become the man He always intended me to be.  The great masculine paradox, I must be resourceful and responsible while surrendering to God, and in so doing understand that, “I am not defeated!”