Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

I have mixed emotions about both Father's Day and Mother's day. In fact, I have the same mixed emotions about celebrating birthdays. Sure, it's a great opportunity for retailers to sell more stuff, and it seems like a good idea to set aside a day to honor one's father or mother, or to wish someone you care about a happy birthday, and let those same people know that they are important to you and that you are glad that they are a part of your life. It all sounds like a good idea. But is it really?

People start to have expectations then. "Oh, you forgot my birthday! You must not care about me very much." Or parents get hurt when their children are too busy in their everyday lives to make time for them. Or maybe they just forget all about it. Then the parents are hurt and feel unloved or disrespected, and they either sulk about it, or try to make the kids pay for it by admonishing them and telling them that they are ungrateful children.

I would just advise all people to never fall into any of those types of traps. It is a great waste of emotion and largely meaningless. You don't judge your children by what they do on Father's Day or Mother's Day, and you should never expect any acknowledgement from anybody on your birthday.

I for one was not a model son. I loved my parents a great deal, but I was always preoccupied with my own life, and many times I remember rushing at the last minute to buy my mother flowers and a card; arriving late at the house; signing her card while parked in the driveway; then rushing in giving some excuse as to why I was so late. My mother was easy. Anything I gave her she praised and was happy. My father on the other hand actually punished me once for not buying him a Father's day card. Nevermind that I had spent all of my allowance for two weeks on his present. He said I was a selfish, ungrateful son and grounded me for a week for not also giving him a card. I thought it was very silly at the time, and it caused me to feel less respect for him. In fact, I thought he was being childish and I was in the sixth grade at the time. Nevertheless, it was a source of friction and no good ever seemed to come of such holidays. Those days always seemed like just another chance to screw up and get a lot of grief from whomever's birthday or special day it was.

Therefore, my advice to one and all is this: Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed. You will never be disappointed by a friend or lover or son or daughter, or any other poor soul who might just have forgotten that it was your special day. Or if they were just too busy, or they didn't think you rated any special effort, you will never really care.

On the other hand, if they do take the time and effort to remember you, you can still be delighted by their good will. And you will never feel you have to chastise a son or daughter, brother, sister, or lover for forgetting you.

Hold yourself to a higher standard. Try diligently to honor your father and mother every chance you get. Try to let your friends know just how much you care about them. Nowadays, with all the computer software available, it is much easier to keep track of all those special days. But only hold yourself to that higher standard, and never try to make anyone feel bad if they have done less than you hoped for. If you don't hope or expect, you will be more godly.

After all is said and done, the real joy in this world is giving, not receiving.

The American Pricetag of Citizenship

How can anyone with a grain of sense in their head think that a proposed immigration law that effectively grants amnesty for illegal immigrants based on a five thousand dollar entree fee makes any sense? Okay, you give us five thousand bucks, then go back home for a year, and we will re-admit you legally. Are our lawmakers all nuts? Are they that far removed from reality as to think this would ever work?

When I hear our president praise this as landmark legislation for immigration, I finally must admit to myself: "He must be stupid." I voted for Bush, both times, and I am a registered Democrat. I know this administration has been plagued with many a bone-headed move, but this is just so outrageous to me, so egregious and frustrating, that it is almost laughable.

I say almost laughable, because it is not funny at all. This is a very serious issue, and it involves millions of potential new citizens; tens of millions if one extrapolates into the future. Since when has it been considered remotely acceptable to put a price tag on citizenship? On the large, illegal immigrants come here to get a better life, chasing the hope of riches and an all-inclusive society. A large number of these people are illegal because they don't want to wait for the long process of legal entry. This proposed new legislation, directed primarily at illegals from Mexico, hasn't a glimmer of a hope of solving the illegal issues. An illegal already here and working, is not very likely to be willing to cough up five grand and then go home for a year. It's ridiculous.

What would make sense, is legislation to increase across the border temporary workers. That part of the legislation is good and fair and should be enacted immediately. The illegals are a more difficult issue, especially those who have become established here and have proven themselves to be law-abiding participants in our society. It is difficult to decide how to make them legal. This really needs a lot more thought, but since they did break the law and enter illegally, asking them to pay a fee might not be an unfair thing to do. Maybe it could be paid over a long period as an extra tax against their wages. Many options could be palatable in asking for what constitutes a fine. But to ask them to voluntarily come forward, pay, and then go home for awhile is ridiculous.

Far worse, are the implications of what admission to our country is going to take in the future. Already, Europeans have to pay a non-refundable 100 dollar application fee for visas to come here. Why not just say okay, there is a large admission price if you want to come here. Throw a sign across the Statue of Liberty proclaiming it.

Perhaps what is more obvious than immigration reform is that we need change in our government. We need qualified people who think, statesmen that serve the betterment of our society and not self-serving, narrow-minded, partisans who seek only their own betterment and re-election. Until such stupidity is singled out and the perpetrators are publicly ostracized, we will continue to see such ridiculous legislation that carries no hope of bettering the country.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day and Iraq

Eight more American GI's died today, fighting for the preservation of freedom as a way of life. Many will say that their lives were wasted in a war that we shouldn't be involved in. They will lament the loss of young men and women whose lives had just begun and who should have been able to live many more years on this earth. Sadly, they will also politicize the war and will preach the foolhardiness of attempting to bring freedom elsewhere.

But ask the GI's who are fighting in our volunteer armed forces, and one might be surprised at the clear-headed conviction with which they do their jobs. This isn't Vietnam. These young men and women are more informed and seem to know better just what they are fighting for.

Ignoring the stupidity of any war for just a moment, we must finally, if we are honest, admit that sometimes war is inevitable and necessary. Nothing could have appeased Hitler; no amount of sanctions could have ever changed Saddam Hussein; and no negotiations nor any amount of logic can turn radical Islamic fundamentalists into the friends of modern civilization.

Young men and women, good Americans, are dying. They are sacrificing their lives for what they believe is important and in the best interests of America. And they are there based on those convictions, hoping to ultimately make this a better world. Whether one believes that they can achieve that end result or not doesn't change their valor one iota.

We go about our lives here at home, insulated from the grim realities of the war. The news blares about American Idol or Paris Hilton, and the world of shallow gets thinner everyday. Who are these men and women that are dying? Will posterity remember them? Over 40,000 American servicemen lost their lives during the riots in the Philipines shortly after the island chain became an American possession at the end of the Spanish-American War. Certainly those lost lives had meaning to the families that loved them. Did they make any difference for the better common good? Only god knows that answer.

It is different in Iraq. There, people were being murdered by the tens of thousands under Saddam Hussein. That has stopped and been replaced with a tit-for-tat reprisal effort that was easily predictable, and which will continue for decades. But beyond all that, there is something else. There is great hope and expectation, by those that are giving their lives there. The hope is less than it was previously, as perhaps are the expectations, but the young men and women who are there are dedicated professionals and a better fighting force than the United States has ever had before.

I hope and pray that the politicians can start to realize that what this country needs are statesmen, not the seedy politics and partisanship that has been so systematically practiced in this country in recent history. Look at the brave young minds that go out in the name of freedom to try to make a better world, and be shamed by them if you are a partisan of any political party with a narrow interest agenda. Let us as Americans remember the best of us who will never come back to enjoy the shallow world of everyday life in America, and let us show our anger against any politician, celebrity, or populist who tries to capitalize on their great sacrifices.

They gave their lives for us, as did the soldiers of generations before them. Let us never forget that as we go about our daily lives, largely unfettered by the malevolent forces in the world, which would like to see the great experiment that is America destroyed.

The soldiers, god bless them all.