Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seeking William Wallace

William Wallace, where have you gone?
We could use a bit of your chutzpah right about now.

I watched the movie, ‘Braveheart’, last night. I had a particular interest in, and identification with, the film because I am of Scottish ancestry. If you haven’t seen the movie, or if you have seen it, but not for a very long time, I would encourage you to Netflix it again. It is, in my opinion, one of the best movies ever produced. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography, and Sound Editing.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story, by any means. Braveheart is not about Academy Awards; it is about courage. It is about freedom, and it is about an indomitable will, a will that will not allow tyrannical rule, in ones life, or in ones country; something we know very little about today. Now, whether the movie is entirely historically accurate, or not, is almost irrelevant. Very few movies are. But the point is that it is an inspirational look at the human spirit, a spirit which, when summoned to defend its inalienable right to be free, refuses to be conquered, to be subjugated to authority, or even controlled by ones own weakness. It is a triumph of substance over style, truth over shallow ideology, soul over the status quo, right over wrong, and courage over fear.

Our culture today presents us every opportunity to just go along to get along. We offer incentives and rewards for weakness, for personal compromise, and for behavior that tears down our very stature, rather than reinforcing it. It is the world we have created for ourselves, and it is the world we have come to willingly embrace.

Braveheart illuminated Scotland’s courageous stand against the tyrannical occupation by the British, but it also revealed the men’s commitment to the defense of the lives, and the honor, of their women. When their wives were seized, raped, and, in the case of William Wallace’s wife, ultimately killed by the British, it enflamed a furor within the men that was unmatched even by their commitment to defend their homeland.

In our present culture, however, we as men are reluctant even to stand between our own wives and the ravages of the world. Our women are being used and abused by the world on a daily basis, and yet we continue to send them out there to fight our battles for us. We permit the denigration, and subjugation, of women through the proliferation of images that portray them to be objects to be used only for sexual gratification, and the indulgence of ego. Unfortunately, many women, and girls, present themselves in the same, or in an even more, unfavorable light. And we let them. But the point here is that we as men no longer summon the valor to stand against this diminishing standard, or the courage to insist that it must change. We have become deathly afraid of being less than politically correct, and it has manifested itself in our culture to the uncompromising detriment of our women.

We, as a nation, are in the process of approving women for combat in the military. Need I say more? We are afraid to stand up to the powers, and the influences, that determine our course. We are afraid to stand up to our own wives and daughters as well. Are we going to continue to allow them not only to fight our battles for us, but to engage in the dangerous business of war as well? If so, what does that really say about us? We will have descended as a nation past the point of diminishing returns.
Our politicians have become cowards, our teachers and religious leaders are afraid to offend, and our standard bearers have vanished like a passing wind.

Men, give ‘Braveheart’ another viewing. Be inspired; embrace the capacity for courage within yourself, and the commitment to inspire that same courage within others. Make a commitment to be sober minded and clear thinking for, perhaps even, the first time in your life.

Where, I ask, is William Wallace?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Everybody has known pain, or will, of some kind or another, and at some time or another. Some have known physical pain, mental anguish, some emotional pain, or psychic trauma. And some have known it all. The pain of a body being broken or traumatized, diseased, or worn out; the pain of a lost love, splintered family, or a broken promise; the pain of shattered dreams, a broken spirit, or the loss of inspiration. Most of us have had loss. And loss is pain. If we have not, however, we will. It is inevitable, like the tide ebbs behind the flow.

My pain is not yours, nor yours mine, but we share the experience, nevertheless. It is part of what connects us as a human family. Maybe I cannot relate to your poverty, or to your wealth, your station in life, politics, religion, or lifestyle; but I can relate to your pain whether I know of it specifically or not. I can understand yours, not necessarily the circumstances, but the pain, and maybe even feel it, specifically because I’ve had my own. It is part of the way, and part of the reason, that people find healing. I can carry my own pain alone, and for a very long time if necessary. But when someone in my life, or a stranger even, shares even a small part of that pain, for no matter how brief of a moment, it can diminish its devastating impact in a very measurable way. We need each other like that.
We all do.

Pain might feel arbitrary, but it’s not. I may wonder why I have this kind of pain, and you have that kind. But I believe that our own particular pain chooses us for a purpose. I don’t know why I believe that, but I do. It is up to each of us to divine the intent of its presence in our lives. It is part of what will enable our learning, and our healing. We are sometimes able to come to a conclusion on our own, but, more often than not, it takes the company, the counsel, and the involvement of others.

Pain has a way of humbling us, and providing an opportunity for a deeper connection with the rest of the human race.
I hope you’re managing the worst of your own pain.
And, if not, I wish for you the comfort of others.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Give Me Dogs And Frisbees

I, like a hundred zillion other people watched the Super Bowl. Good game, I thought, although I didn’t really care who won.
But the halftime show? Well, it was Madonna: What would one expect besides the most pompous, self-aggrandizing, bloated tribute to self and excess that one could ever hope to produce.

And I just want to ask, “Is this really what our culture has become? Giving this kind of platform to this kind of person?
As I heard somebody say after enduring the torturous show, “PLEASE, GIVE ME DOGS AND FRISBEES.”
I cannot agree more.

In my humble opinion, how satisfying, and appropriate, was the very final second of the performance when Madonna flushed herself down the toilet, or whatever that apparatus was with the smoke and trap door. I don’t know about you, but I just wanted to stand up and cheer the symbolism of the moment. In any event, she was gone, disappearing suddenly, and hopefully for good.

Oh, and the Madonna and World peace display? Hey Madonna, how bout’ you start treating the people in, and around, your own life with a little dignity and respect, before you try to unite the rest of the world around your sleazy Kabbalah world peace act. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, getting people to love each other like you love others is more likely to lead to continued world conflict than it ever would to world peace.