Tag Archives: problems

I do not speak to my Father

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday. I didn’t call. I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t remind my wife or say anything to my best friend. I thought about it a few times and let the idea fade from my brain until I was busy doing something else instead.

Maybe I could have been the bigger man and gave him a call. I’m not sure he deserves it though. On the other hand maybe it would have been good for me – evidence that all of my harsh feelings towards him mean nothing. I didn’t call though. I want him to know that the life he has lived isn’t okay and that he doesn’t deserve a phone call from his only son.

My Dad represents almost everything in life that I dislike. He abuses the system, he mentally and physically abused my Mother, was never and still is not a good provider, he is the most selfish man I have ever known, he is a drug addict, and toxic to everyone he’s around. The worst part is that he walks around with a since of entitlement like the world and everyone in it owes him something.

The last Straw
I think the last straw was a couple months back when my Mom attempted suicide. My Dad and me weren’t really on speaking terms then either, but I hadn’t completely abandoned the idea of speaking to him. My Mom called me crying saying that my Dad was seeing someone else and that she “wanted to go be with Jesus.” It was terrible and I was more disgusted than afraid.

After that incident I found out that my Father had been sharing his meth addiction with my Mother. They were both hooked and it made more sense than ever why she was so fucked up. My Father has successfully used drugs and mental abuse as a form of mind control based on insecurity and getting high for the past 26 years on my Mother. No I think its too late for anyone to do anything about it. I somehow escaped.

The Holidays
The holidays are approaching too. This should make avoiding family even more difficult. At this point I completely refuse to speak to my Father or his mother. She has harbored him at a motel he owns where he makes beds and does maintenance for rent. That’s also where he cheats on my Mother and does meth.

The part that most disgust me is that my Grandmother is on this holy trip. She is and always has been “religious” yet she has somehow justified allowing my father to live on her property, have sex with other drug addicts, buy and sell meth, and abandon his responsibilities as a husband. That motel is a compound of irony.

I will not be uncivil – my quiet protest will be my absence. Luckily I have in-laws who are excellent people and I have adopted as my family. That also make my wife happy so it’s a win-win. I will make a small amount of time for my Mother, but her inability to do anything for herself, her mental laziness, and her constant complaints are something I can only deal with in small doses.

Looking ahead
In years to come I am not exactly sure how I will deal with this situation. Part of me says just forgive them and move on. Let them live their shitty lives and let the universe punish them accordingly. It is not my place. The best thing I can do is let it all go and move on.

Another part of me says just never speak to them again. Forget about it completely and move on in a different way. However; honestly I am not sure which method is the right one. If I maintain a relationship with my parents does that set me up for more heartache and trouble? Does it give my parents more opportunity to suck me in and make their problems my own? That is the risk.

Either way this whole thing has taught me the value of being a decent human being and a man of integrity. I am thankful for that.

Evil by Omission

Mankind is flawed.  We have the tendency to exploit the less-powerful for our own gain, we tend to rule the weak, we tend to abuse those less powerful than us, and we tend to make mistakes even when we know it’s a mistake.  That’s us – crooked and flawed.

I know what you’re saying: “Not everyone is that way!” I agree and disagree.  Not everyone is that way all of the time (or maybe even most of the time); however we have all fallen short when it comes to perfection/morality.  I’m not religious, but one thing that I have always found true about Christianity is what the preacher at the church I used to attend would say every Sunday “We have all fallen short of the perfection demanded of us by God.”  If there is a truth in religion that is it.

The good news is we have a lot of good in us too.  I can only examine myself, but I know internally I have a strong urge to do what’s right and to make the world a better place.  I’m not sure why – either.  Perhaps it’s out of my own need for self preservation or some instinct for the preservation of the species – maybe something else.  I have to believe that we all have that in us; though some have become more adapt in ignoring that feeling than others.

But maybe that is the first step for all of us.  Realizing that we all have this duality of good and evil in us.  That we all live and walk a different path with factors affecting our personalities and decisions that another person probably couldn’t even imagine or come close to understanding.  That shapes who we are.  Those facts can also help us understand and deal with everyone else.

Maybe armed with new information and new understanding we can set new rules for ourselves and society.  One where we understand and empathize with those who aren’t there yet.  A society where we can do the right thing even when it’s hard because ultimately we understand that it’s the right thing to do.  Maybe this is just the beginning of social responsibility and recovery of a flawed species capable of so much creation and destruction.

Maybe we can reconcile our needs for self preservation and perpetuity of the species until those two influences come in perfect harmony.  The problems of war and famine from yesterday will become lessons we teach our children in the future.  Maybe borders will seem silly in the future.  Why we value an American, Canadian, African, Muslim, or Christian life more or less than any other will seem absurd – maybe it already does.

I see a younger generation, some of us, already headed there.  Others I see as devout as ever toward a cause no more just or moral as the very “enemies” they so passionately hate.  Maybe its a man living in a mansion while somewhere else a child dies or maybe its an art student trying to make the “big time” in music while forgetting, even for a moment, there are people out there starving.  We’ve all been guilty of ignoring our fellow humans, especially me, so how do we get past that?  I do not know.

What I do know is that until we can get the little things right – we aren’t even close.  Until we can get involved in our own back yards, all of us, and do what’s right – that hopeful light of helping those somewhere else seems very dim.  Do I expect a Utopian society?  Of course not.  I’m not that foolish.

I do know that we can all do better though.  Maybe that means helping out your Mom who has been trapped in the house for years wasting away.  Maybe that means donating a little time to charity.  Maybe that means cleaning up your neighborhood when no one else will.  Maybe it even means doing something big, because you can, and change everything.

Just do what’s right.  Not with words, but by example.

does government fear-mongering have the United States headed in the wrong direction?

Two things have come to my attention this week that have me concerned and I think both are ultimately due to the government’s continued fear-mongering efforts around terrorism.  How much will we give up to protect ourselves against a military tactic?

1. Senate Bill 1867 – Bipartisan legislation being considered in the U.S. Senate would expand the military’s power to go after any terrorism suspect, including American citizens, anywhere in the world—including within the United States—and confine them indefinitely without being charged or tried.

2. Our Military Budget –

So what does this mean? Why are we spending so much money on militarism and trying to pass bills in which infringe on the rights of American civilians? Are we really that much more concerned with our military might than with our own well being and diplomacy?

Problems I foresee with the current situation:

I honestly do not see how our current trend toward militarism and nation building is sustainable over the long haul.  We are simply making too many enemies and taking away too many civilian liberties (re: patriot act, S. Bill 1867).

Regarding S. 1867: This marks an end to the preservation of American civil liberties and basically grants the military the right to act on American citizens.  Of course the bill says American citizens involved in “terrorist activities”, but how is that defined?  Does a group like OWS speaking out against the government qualify as terrorist?  Does a group dissatisfied with the government qualify?  Perhaps in the short term the government couldn’t get away with doing anything too extreme, such as bombing its own people, but what about 20 years from now, what about 100 years?  Does this bill have the potential to be abused?  YES!

That is the problem.  People get used to things, we become desensitized to the actions of the government and soon it becomes normal.  Then, sooner or later, someone abuses the right and suddenly America is no longer the most free nation in the world.  Remember how pissed off everyone was over the Patriot Act?  It passed because people were afraid after 9/11.  Congressmen promised to overturn it – but it’s still here and people are getting used to it.  Slowly, the people are getting used to such things as invasion of privacy and the assassination of citizens without due process (re: Anwar al-Awlaki ).  Will we begin to accept attacks on groups of American citizens because a private panel of government officials declare an individual or group a terrorist threat?  I hope not!  Being American should mean more than that – it should mean freedom and due process.  I think people will look back on this garbage like we look back on segregation and the civil rights.

Regarding our Militarism: First off, the obvious.  Why the hell are we spending so much on war when we have so many problems at home?  For our safety?  Why does the US have its hands in so many pots?  We spend more on military action than everything else in the budget combined – that doesn’t seem balanced to me.  That sounds more like the redneck down the street spending 60% of his gross earnings on shotguns to shoot the “colored folk” who want to move into his neighborhood.  Not to mention we are almost 15 trillion in debt!  What the hell is going on here and why is no one saying anything!?!  Republican or Democrat the PEOPLE have to agree that something is wrong here!

I can’t help but think that if we continue our current path of militarism that the future will not look back kindly upon us and that the history books of a couple hundred years from now will record us as the token example of why Greed and Violence destroys a nation, not as the savior of democracy and American “values” (which values are we spreading via war?). I hope we can turn it around.

In other news: Also, several of the independent news sources I read/listen to say to expect us to invade or somehow get mixed up with Syria soon.  The mass media isn’t talking about that or covering it at all – so lets see if that comes to fruition.  If it does it will really seal the deal for me regarding traditional media outlets.  Hell, even time magazine seems to be carefully molding our American brains…  (Re: time magazine us vs. them)

fat kid billboards

So if you don’t live in Georgia you probably didn’t know that this existed, but it does.  I noticed the ad for the first time today right in Atlanta not too far from my house.  Some group of people thought it would be a great idea to put up giant billboards ridiculing fat children.  I suppose to shame them and their parents into being more healthy.  The billboards say things like “It’s hard being a little girl, when you’re not.”

I personally think the billboards are hilarious.  Hilarious in the kind of way that a comedian is.  That is one who has dove off the morality cliff, pushed over any sense of caring for others, but is so crude you can’t help but laugh.  It’s like a train wreck and you can’t help but look at the destruction.

The funniest/worst part about these billboards is that someone had to actually sit around and think these things up AND put in the foot work to put them up and pay for them.  Was there are large enough group of people that thought this was a good idea?  Also, I want to know who the hell agreed to let their child pose for these damn signs and do these videos!

On a side note, I just read that Georgia has the 2nd highest child obesity rate in the country.  We really do have a problem. Damn soul food and damn you Paula Dean.

Also, my wife, who is an art teacher for high school almost cried when she saw these videos.  She said she sees fat kids get picked on (her brother is also obese) and it really hurts her.  I guess I have to be careful not to let out a chuckle around her.  These adds are too rediculous to be taken seriously…

You can check out the website and laugh here.

Riots in Warsaw, Poland

I came across this video and thought I would share. It is almost poetic. It is amazing to me how so many things come into play in this video – it strikes an emotional chord. The beautiful landscape of Warsaw – one of the places I want to visit one day, the political implications, the people on the ground, even the technology used to film and broadcast this to the world. Together it is all awful and beautiful.

Nanny State – Are the Ideas of Liberty and Small Government Compatible with Social Responsibility

No, I’m not a “Tea Partier”, I’m not a neo-conservative, and I don’t even like Fox News.  I am, however, an advocate for liberty and relatively small government and one of the most common arguments  my friends and critics bring up is that liberty and small government are not compatible with social responsibility. The argument typically implies that human beings are entitled to a minimum standard of living (I agree) and that it is the government’s job to provide that via social programs (I disagree).

I agree that all human beings should be given certain minimum standards.  Those standards are things like food, shelter, and personal liberties (Life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness – the founding fathers might say).  Even criminals are housed and fed so in my opinion, in any civilized and well developed society, all law abiding citizens should receive those benefits too.  My stark contrast in thought is in who is responsible for providing those things to the people.  I argue that it is NOT the government’s job to do so, but rather we should leave aid to private institutions, not-for-profit bodies, and the citizens themselves.  Here are a few reasons why.

1. Government programs are ineffective in evaluating those who need aid:

The fact is that the government is simply bad at evaluating needs.  For example, a good friend of mine recently lost his job.  He is an MBA student and graduates in a few months.  He also has a full time job lined up for after graduation.  In the mean time no one will hire him because he can’t commit for more than a few months.  This means no insurance for his two kids and no income.  The government has no aid for him, even though he has paid into the system his entire life and is a productive member of society.  Common sense would tell you these are the type of people we want to help. I mean, in a few months he will be paying more than his fair share to that same system that wouldn’t help him when he needed it.

On the other hand my own Mother has received government welfare for over 20 years.  The result has been disastrous.  Because she receives FREE benefits from the government she has had no incentive to educate or train herself for work.  Government assistance has taught her to rely totally on hand-outs.  Had she been put into a private system, with people who actually cared for her, she may have stood a chance – but the government has not REAL way of evaluating such needs.

My Mother isn’t the worst case either.  We have all heard the horror stories about people who abuse and find loopholes in the system.  I have personally witnessed people who work “under the table” (without paying income taxes) and receive benefits such as free healthcare and food stamps – but they bring home more money than the average American after income taxes.  It is an unfair system where our tax dollars must go to these types of people.

I’m not saying the government is wrong 100% of the time or that it doesn’t have good intentions.  A lot of the people that receive help actually need it.  The majority in fact.  I’m just arguing that there is a better way to do business, that need for aid should be more effectively evaluated, and that there are more effective bodies that could do it.

2. The Government has too much Bureaucracy and is Wasteful: 

Another problem with Government is that it tries to be all things to all people.  There are simply too many hands in the pot.  Conservatives want things their way, Liberals want their way – some people want a socialist concept of government, others want a completely hands off government – the rest of us fall somewhere in the middle.  The over arching issue is that the government can’t do it all – it can’t even do some of it.

There is a reason that in the business world when people are doing a half-assed job people say “eh, good enough for government work.”  That’s because it is a well known fact that government work is slow and ineffective.  However, if we left social programs up to private entities, businesses, not-for-profit groups, and those who are hell bent on helping we could run these programs much more effectively and without wasted tax dollars.

Companies like the Red-Cross, our churches, and various other charitable aid based organizations is how I believe the entire system should work.  Frankly they are more equip to do so.

3. Private Organizations have more flexibility:

It is a well known fact that private organizations can adapt to market and environmental changes much more quickly and easily than the government.  Legislation doesn’t have to be fault over, interest groups do not have to be heard, etc.  The complex situations of every American doesn’t have to fit in a template to determine if you qualify for aid.  Certain areas where aid is need more can be more quickly capitalized on than others.  Organizations move much faster than government, that is a fact.  Pure speed and efficiency alone is a great reason we should transfer the responsibility of social programs to the private sector.

Follies and Where the Government CAN Help:

No organization is perfect and ALL organizations are subject to the greed of its owners.  Do I expect that no charitable organization would act corruptly, or do I expect the government to just go away?  NO, and I don’t want it to!

My arguement is this – the government should be a monitoring body to promote fair play and uphold the rules of the free market.  Thus, the government would allow private organizations to do the foot work, but the government can keep them honest.  You can see this in the private sector with Sarbanes Oxley which basically keeps public companies honest about their financials to stockholders (to prevent another Enron scandal).  While, no, it’s not perfect – it is better than the government running all private businesses.  Similarly, it would be better if charity were ran the same way.

Government can promote charity, provide incentives, and keep them honest – not run social programs like its own business.  Leave that up to the professionals and the people, not the government and the people’s tax dollars.

*NOTE: Yes, I know this argument isn’t perfectly articulated.  It’s more of a thought exercise for myself, although I do believe there are some valid points.  At a later date I’ll dive a little deeper into these thoughts, but at this point this post is already 1000 words long – so I’ll spare you.


Life Happens

This is an email my best friend sent to me yesterday.  I felt it was heart felt and others out there are probably facing some of the same issues so I would post it anonymously here.  I hope someone finds comfort in knowing someone else out there is going through stuff too.

Dearest Atticus,

A new journey is almost underway. This past week I was truly awakened to the fact that my wife is about to have another baby. She’s practically on bed rest, can hardly get around and really not doing so hot. Today is August 1st. My kid is due the 18th of September and will probably be induced early. So really I have a month.

Top this off with school starting next week to finish the MBA, possible new job prospects, and you moving closer, and I almost feel a bit overwhelmed.

Most days I still can’t believe I’m a dad. It’s a responsibility I proudly take on, and so far I don’t feel that I’m messing up at it too badly, but at the same time, I can’t help but think over and over, “Is this really happening?”

My parents moved this weekend and didn’t even ask me to help. My wife said they didn’t want to ask me. I was going to call and offer, but really the entire situation left me scratching my head. I don’t know where the disconnect happened between me and my mom and dad, especially my dad.

When I was growing up, I think it’d be safe to say that my father was miserable. He worked 12 hour days, welding and doing factory work, mostly on night shift. I remember my mom would often times be accused of squandering his paychecks, and I know she was. So my dad worked harder and harder. On the weekend and during the day he’d work side businesses, always trying to get ahead, but we never seemed to be able to.

Growing up, I was always by my father’s side happy and willing to pitch in. I didn’t even ask for money or allowance, I just worked and worked. We would chop firewood and sell truckloads of it, clean up construction sites, clean newly constructed houses, and haul off trash from just about anywhere. I remember filling the back of his old 70s model Chevy pickup with tons of construction debris, garbage and dust, old Gatorade bottles and water jugs, just endless piles of trash. Then we’d drive right back into the landfill, smelling the shit that was literally piled around us and shovel it out.

Other times we’d go to people’s houses we didn’t even know and plant trees and do yard work. I remember one time having to dig a series of holes wide and deep enough for 3 people to jump down in, so we could plant these fancy full grown trees. The rich people bought us pizza and Pepsi afterward and went on and on how I was such a little boy out there doing work with my dad. They were amazed.

My point is, the only fond memories I have of my father involve working my ass off. We rarely played catch, he never made it to my little leagues games, or took me to Braves games or amusement parks or anything. In fact, I’d never even been on a real vacation until Shat’s parents took me to Panama City beach when I was 15 or 16.

Most kids might resent their father’s for not really being all that involved in their lives when they were growing up, but I admire mine. The poor man didn’t know how to do anything and never was taught anything but work, and work he did.

Sadly, I think to a large extent, my mother simply pissed away the fruits of his labor. I may be wrong in that perception, but I don’t think so. He nearly left us a few times, but he always came back and stuck it out for my sister and I. The poor bastard couldn’t find it in himself to abandon his kids. When he did leave for a week or so at a time it really fucked me up.

So, I guess my point is, fathers are everything. I can deal with my mom being the screwed up, half psychotic woman she is, and I may go around being angry at her for it, but my real deepest sorrow comes from the life and challenges my father endured and having to watch them.

All I can do is take these lessons and not let history repeat itself. I guess eventually I’ll need to become a real man and have the same honest to God talk with him that I’m having with you right now. I think that will be the true mark of my maturity.

I appreciate that we have each other to lean on and bounce these deep feelings back and forth off of. For me, confronting my own feelings is possibly my greatest challenge in life. I would always rather ignore them or divert attention away to something else. I guess just taking the first step and starting a conversation is the hardest part.

Thanks for reading my really long long email, my friend. I hope we may share many beers together again soon.