I finally saw a TV commercial for John Kerry where he plainly speaks about what he wants to do for the country, rather than what Bush is doing wrong. Maybe I just don't watch enough TV, but last night and again this morning I saw an ad where Kerry himself says he wants to change tax laws to favor companies creating jobs in the U.S., that he will defend America, and that he wants to "invest" in health care and education. "Invest" I would gather means spend a lot of tax dollars, but we have spent them on worse. No specifics, and I would like to hear about mending our relationships with the rest of the world, something that might gain a lot of support and in an indirect way point out another of w's flaws. It's a start, and it's not mudslinging.
David Blaine [8:00 AM]
I lost a friend last night.
It had been a good day at work. A long day. We'd had a special sale and the store had been open until 10. I arrived home in much the same fashion as any other night, but it was later and darker. The lone bulb by the back door illuminated the stairs well enough, but the place I parked in front of the garage was cloaked in a shadow. It makes sense now, but my stomach still aches thinking about it.
The first time I ever saw our cats the female walked right up to me. A golden tiger striped kitten barely old enough to leave her mother. Her grey brother followed at a distance, not wanting to come near, but not willing to leave his sister either.
When I pulled up the drive last night I saw the grey cat by the steps as I parked. I started speaking to him as soon as I opened the car door. "What are you doing out here this late, and where is your sister?" Often one cat would be inside while the other eluded our attempts to cajole him or her back into the house at night. Now things started to go wrong. Barely had I started to push the door shut behind me than I sensed something incongruous. No click. Car doors go click, but there was a thud. Now no sound but a motion in the corner of my eye, by my feet, flopping. Still no sound, this is in milliseconds now, my mind shifting gears. What happened? Did I step on the girl? No, my feet are firm on the cement. Bending down, on one knee, no blood. No motion, no noise, not a howl or a hiss or even a meow.
I run inside scooping up the boy and putting him in the garage where he'll be safe, where they both should have been for the night. Yelling now, "who's home" "What are these cats doing out?" Dialogue's not important, it got ugly, feelings hurt. Get the gun, make sure she's down. There's no .22 in the cabinet. Damn kids. Get a blanket instead. Back outside, she's still with me, I can feel her pain, see her chest heave with each breath. There is a rasping sound now, labored, slow, probably bleeding in the lungs. I fold her into the warm wool blanket and place her on the car seat, the place she was trying to get to all along. Back inside, call the vet. "Fred, can I meet you at the office?"
The first vet examined her, nothing broken. Then Fred arrived. "Sorry Dave, I'm afraid her heart is beating, but there's not much kitty left here" He showed me how he could touch her eyes and I knew from being a hunter that she was brain dead. No living animal will let you touch their open eyes. "Should we just put her down Fred?" "I think so" was the reply.
As Fred gave her the shot I thought about how I had played with her when I first got up that morning, and how the last thing I had done before leaving for work was putting their food out and placing them both safely in the garage for the day. I stroked her fur and told her I loved her, a lot. And I would miss her, but not as much as her brother would. The vet asked her name for the records. "Princess" I replied.
She only wanted to hang around with me. In the den while reading, watching tv in the living room, sitting on the front porch. She would lie there somewhat aloof as I went about my life. I wish my wife had kept them inside to wait for me to come home to them. I wish I hadn't told my wife that. The way I did. I may have lost a friend last night.
David Blaine [4:32 AM]
Lets take a moment to look at all the differences between us Americans. Skin color, nationality of our ancestors, age, gender, geographic location, religious beliefs or non beliefs, philosophy, birthplace, political affiliations, fraternal memberships, sexual orientation, education level, degree of wealth or poverty, primary languages, types of occupations, city dwellers, suburbanites, country folk, preppies, yuppies, dinks (double income no kids), types of pets, no pets, number of children, no children. Clothing fashion, types of hobbies, pro life, pro choice, pro gun, pro gun control, risk takers, conservatives, extroverts, introverts, phew, I need a drink of water. I know I haven't really scratched the surface, you could all add one or two more I'm certain, but I've made the point. We're all different. And we are all the same. We all need food, water, shelter, and interaction (to a greater or lesser degree) with other people. That's sociologist speak for love. We all walk on two legs, listen with our ears, look with our eyes, speak with our mouths and we all live in the same country. All of us want to be a success, even though each of us has a different definition of the word. Psychologists speak of the need for self actualization, but no two of them agree exactly what that is, still, we all want it, even if we don't know it. We have more important things binding us together than we do driving us apart. There may seem to be many things separating us, but they aren't as important as the few things we have in common. Look for example at skin color or ancestry. You can't claim anything from that, you got it from your parents. Why would you discriminate against someone because of the cards they were dealt at birth? Age or gender? Ditto. We're all born young and foolish and all grow up old and maybe wise.
So what does this all mean? Well for one thing when the shit hits the fan, we all pull together. You know we do, we always have. As Bluto Blutarski said in Animal House, "When the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor did we give up? Hell no!". But what about when the fan is clean?
There are people who's company I don't enjoy. I don't care for narrow minded pointy headed bigoted people. I don't care for ignorant people who insist on telling everyone what to do and how to do it when they don't know themselves. I don't care for egocentric people who can't talk about anything but themselves. (and yes I know how many times I wrote "I" there!) But none of those things have to do with your age, gender or ethnicity. It seems hard to understand why some Americans want to judge others based on arbitrary measures. It takes time to find out that someone is narrow minded, or opinionated, or a bigot for that matter. I can't tell from eyeing them up across the room. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt when we first meet, and I hope to receive the same. That isn't the same as trust. Trust has to be earned over time. And if you aren't worthy of trust you will earn that distrust soon enough as well. I have heard people tell me that the particular kind of people they hate are all liars. Maybe but I've been lied to by all kinds of people. I've heard "those" people are all cheats. I've been cheated by all kinds of people. See the pattern? Sure there are some bad people out there, but good ones too, good ones of every stripe. I've found many people I enjoyed working with, going to school with and visiting with socially who don't go to the same church, belong to the same clubs, or even eat the same food as I do.
I challenge every reader to an exercise this week. Yup, I'm giving out homework. Find someone you normally would avoid and strike up a conversation with them. Sorry if you are one of those introverted people who lives in the country. That'll be a tough one. I know if you are at a bus stop and you move toward this person that they may be apprehensive. They may think you are going to abuse or mistreat them. Surprise them. Use courteous language, say, "Excuse me" or, "Pardon me". Pay them a compliment or ask them a simple question. See how things warm up. Try something like, "How do you get to the farmers market from here" or, "I love your coat, did you buy it in town?" Try it out, push yourself, go beyond your limits, grow. Not just for your sake. For all of us. Who knows when the Germans may bomb Pearl Harbor again?
David Blaine [6:44 PM]
Self Esteem, Mutual Respect
United We Stand
The 60's and 70's musical group Steppenwolf sang "why don't you fix your own back yard, before you go to fight abroad, believe me, it won't be easy"
Today in Basra, Iraq, five car bombs were set off simultaneously in front of five police stations wounding and killing many civilians, a lot of them children. This wasn't done by British forces in charge of Basra, but by Iraqi terrorists who are desperate to keep the plan for a democratic Iraq from coming to fruition. Like Americans in the U.S., there are many different Iraqis with many different agendas, and they don't all like each other. Really many of them hate each other enough to kill their countrymen along with the occupiers.
If the U.S. is going to be an example to the rest of the world, and it could be, we have a responsibility to get it right here, first, before we export it someplace else. I'm not arguing here whether we should export it. But I am appealing to Americans everywhere to get it right here when it comes to getting along together.
When I studied psychology I read that the things we dislike the most about other people are the things we secretly dislike about ourselves. If that is true then the people who really hate others are the ones who hate themselves. I can relate to that. I've responded to people who said they liked me with "well you are the only one in the room who does". The truth is that you can't like someone else until you like yourself. Every once in awhile I need, we all need, to sit down and take an inventory of our own self worth. If you are like me you get discouraged when you realize mistakes that you've made. When you think of how you might have done things better, at work, at home, with neighbors, it can get discouraging. Don't live in the past, learn from your mistakes, move on. Plan ahead so you do better next time.
Discouraged about lack of education? Learn something new. Ask someone else to teach you and watch the smile on their face. Worried about your looks? Don't be. The most beautiful people on the outside are some of the least attractive when they open their mouths. If you groom yourself and try to keep yourself in shape, good for you, don't worry about looking like a movie star. Wish you had more money? We all do, even the Donald wants more bling bling. The best advice I ever got was to spend your efforts in areas that you can control. Too many of us spend 80% of our time worrying about things we can't control. Another good piece of advice I got was when you can't seem to do anything to help yourself in a bad situation, look for a chance to help someone else instead. It really works, it takes your mind off your problem and makes you feel good about helping the other person. A wise person told me he'd known many troubles in his long life, most of which never happened. In other words he had worried about a lot of stuff that never came to pass, and had wasted a lot of his life worrying.
We all have unique talents and gifts that we can use to help ourselves and others. Don't be too quick to discount yourself. Don't measure yourself by someone else's yardstick. Remember Michael Jordan? What if he had tried to play baseball instead of basketball? He might be building cars someplace on an assembly line today. He was a whiz basketball player but at best a mediocre minor league baseball player.
I will continue this piece later and get into mutual respect, because that would make this too long. Once you realize you're a great person, it's easier to lighten up on the turkeys surrounding you. ;-)
David Blaine [7:47 AM]
Leadership isn't getting behind people and forcing them along the way you think they should be going. I think that is what our government is trying to do now for the most part. Leadership appeals to people to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Leaders aren't always liked, because they often have to ask us to do unpopular things, but history treats them kindly. Leaders point the way and start out, depending on us to follow them. I share with you Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Note that last line. It involves responsibility. We don't allow children to vote in this country, and those who are of age to vote shouldn't expect to sit back and wait for government to be spoon fed to them like children. It is time to tell government that they are for the people, not the privilaged few. It is time to take government back from those who are not of us and choose not to represent us. I don't care which party or candidate you vote for. I am not thrilled with any we have to choose from right now. But I know that some are worse than others. We must start demanding more from people who ask for our votes. So today stop and think. What do you want? Do you even know? If not, what do you think we will get in November?
David Blaine [11:17 AM]