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Hey old man! No doubt you’re still kicking. Very happy 57th to you!

I’m traveling with Jace this week, but when I get home, in your honor I will have a cup of coffee in the State High coffee mug you gave me.

You won’t believe it . . . I actually had a dream with you in it, either last night or the night before. Seeing the reminder about your birthday pop up on my calendar must’ve got my brain going. It was pretty vague, but I remember you and I were both adults and just walking around talking. That sounds about right. The philosophers.

I am in Hays, Kansas with Jace this morning.

We flew into Kansas City yesterday, drove to visit Hesston College – one of several he has been accepted to in Kansas alone – then on to here to visit Fort Hays State University today.

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You probably didn’t know, but our former leader of Indiana State University, Dr. Alan  Rankin, went to Fort Hays College. Turns out, he was a classmate and probably a student activities competitor with Kerri‘s uncle, John Willcoxon, Her dad’s older brother. He would’ve been 104 in July.

After college here, he went to work in Topeka then joined the war effort and became a B-24 pilot.

Before enlisting, he was a top performer in everything he did. He was president of the junior Jaycees, a Boy Scout volunteer, volunteer at the Methodist church, and had a great reputation in his job, moving up quickly getting established in the Topeka business and social communities. He also began taking flying lessons.

He wrote a beautiful and moving and confident letter to his parents when he decided to volunteer for the Army Air Corps. He eventually made it to Papua New Guinea with Col. Rogers and the 90th Bomb Group where he was made operations officer even as a young lieutenant; pretty impressive, and apparently a good pilot too. Eventually he volunteered for a mission he was not required to fly in that position, but they had not been able to destroy a bridge that had been on the target list for quite a long time.

He volunteered to take a shot at it and was successful. As they returned to base, he and his crew were attacked by perhaps a dozen Japanese fighters, shooting down several before his plane exploded. Only two survivors. John’s body and several others were not recovered. Sad but proud history in her family.

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Back to Rankin and Fort Hays, Newspaper accounts mention both in student government and seemed indicate they would’ve been two of the top guys in their class, high marks in academics, very involved and vying for leadership positions on campus.

I often think about how well Kerri’s dad did in his professional life and what Dr. Rankin achieved in his career becoming a university president, and I, like everyone in the family believe that John would’ve done even more beyond his contribution to the war effort as well. I suppose we all feel a sense of sadness about what might’ve been, but take great pride in his accomplishments and who he was as a person.

Almost 2 years ago, when Jace and I took a 4700 mile road trip, from Colorado to Indiana to Canada to West Yellowstone and back to Colorado, we made our first stop at Fort Hays State. We went to the student union where we found a memorial to students who have been lost in the various wars, John among them. It was a touching moment, two generations and life-times beyond, but very directly connected, not only to that spot at that school, but the family farm where John and his brother, Sam – Jace’s grandfather – grew up just a few hours away.

Now this nearly 2 years later, Jace and I are in that very spot again and he has been accepted in that very school, along with KU where his grandparents attended. We all feel a real sense of connection and pride, as you can imagine.

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So in just a couple of hours, Jace will tour the Fort Hays State University campus and will have more to add to his decisions! (Then on to KU and more decisions and pressures tomorrow!)

Anyway, happy birthday! That’s your birthday inspiration story for the day.

Do something special and different today.

Love to you, Brother.

Michael

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Holy Land, Whose Land?

Modern Dilemma, Ancient Roots

Dr. Dorothy W. Drummond

From Amazon.com: “Dorothy Drummond [was] an educator, speaker, and world traveler. A former president of the National Council for Geographic Education, she has authored four textbooks on world cultures and has traveled widely in the Middle East.”

HLWL

Dr. Dorothy Drummond was my Mother’s closest friend, and for the past four years they have been traveling companions, across the country and around the world.

Mother, Dorothy and Mao

Mother’s caption: “The three of us”, China, late Nov 2018

It was on their most recent trip – to China – that Dorothy sustained a fall and a severe head injury and passed away in a Hong Kong hospital with her eldest daughter and my Mother at her side. In fact, as of the moment of this writing, Friday, December 7, they have not yet been able to return home. Dying in another country – so far from home – is exponentially more painful and China, even Hong Kong, is no exception and fraught with exceptional difficulties.

It has been an indescribably sad and stressful experience losing her, and for Mother and Dorothy’s daughter, including for those of us who have had to lend all the emotional and practical support we possibly could across the vast distance. We anxiously await their return home and will continue to grieve with them for  some time to come.

Dr. Drummond was full of vitality and vigor and would have been 90 years young on December 19, 2018. For she and my Mother, there was apparently not even the slightest thought of not continuing to travel world-wide and around the United States; they simply went constantly and would have continued to do so until… who knows? For all of we family members and their friends, we knew nothing other than another trip being planned.

Mother and Dorothy, Iceland Nov 5 2017

Traveling in Iceland, November 2017

It would be almost impossible for me to adequately further describe Dorothy’s life, their friendship, the breadth and intensity of their adventures together, and notably, Dorothy’s most widely and deeply recognized and respected, incredible and singularly unique professional life.

She was a professor of geography, a researcher, an author, a lecturer, a teacher of and advocate for children, one of the foremost authorities of her field, recognized globally in her academic expertise; and perhaps she might say more than anything else professionally, a student, a voracious and eternal learner.

Beyond her professional life she was a wife, a mother, a deeply committed member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church of Terre Haute, a serious and most articulate political and social activist, a fighter against hunger, a dedicated volunteer, and a most devoted friend. And Mother was – and remains even at this very hour – with her every step of the way.

These descriptions I have assembled here do not adequately tell her story. Se was extraordinary and she was loved.

Dorothy in Iceland

To read more about Dorothy, her other books and where you might get them, and their final trip together, please follow these several links below. And in honor of Dr. Dorothy Drummond and significantly to honor why she wrote this and her other books, please read Holy Land Whose Land?

Facebook

From the Terre Haute Tribune-Star: ‘She walked purposefully through life’

From Valparaiso University, Dorothy’s alma mater

From the Terre Haute Tribune-Star: Mark Bennett: Dorothy Drummond helped others understand the world a little better

From DirectionsMag.com: GeoInspirations: Dorothy Drummond, the Never Stop Learning and Traveling Educator

Dorothy Drummond – IUPUI ScholarWorks (pdf download)

From the Journal of Geography: Citation for Dorothy Drummond 2010 Recipient of the George J. Miller Award for Distinguished Service

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UPDATE

As of late Sunday afternoon, Dec 9, 2018 my mother and Dorothy Drummond’s eldest daughter, Kathleen carrying Dorothy’s remains, had safely returned to Indiana after nearly 20 hours of travel from Hong Kong directly to Chicago then on to Indianapolis. Mother and Kathy are talking about traveling to India in 2019 to continue the plans already made, and continuing their new-found companionship asking, “What would Dorothy do?”

UPDATE to the UPDATE

As of February 7, Mother and Kathleen were on their way to India. They have been staying with family friend in and around Mumbai, experiencing the hot and humid days and nights, and hot and tasty local food, the sights and sounds, touring and living. A remarkable story of carrying on.

 

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What To Do Next

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The country is calling for action against gun violence in schools, and rightly so.

While there is no perfect solution, there are clearly things that can be done that too widely, have not been. Yes, they are expensive and many have argued prohibitively so; they may be intrusive and restrictive and again, in some places, unreasonably so. We know this. We know the arguments on both sides, on all sides. So while we all do not agree on all the specifics, it is safe to say we all agree something more, different, new, effective must be done. It is also understood that security measures for secondary schools will not necessarily work for primary schools.

My decision to write this was ultimately driven by the expressions of two of my relatives who are school teachers. While we – or any two of us anywhere – may have differing political or philosophical views I am confident we all agree on the most important things: Keeping our children, our schools, safe.

At the risk of embarrassing myself, leaving out something obvious or promoting something objectionable, or offending someone in any possible way and very possibly sounding foolish, ill-informed or uneducated, here’s my list. Unquestioningly it will be found (or accused) to be disagreeable, incomplete, naive, short-sighted, too far-reaching, or possibly just unrealistic or ineffective, missing the mark. Whatever solutions are implemented anywhere, I do firmly believe our constitutional rights, freedoms and constraints – vital to all US citizens – can still be protected.

Following the list, I have provided links to each of my previous writings related to this subject. This is my attempt to share my comprehensive, in fact all-encompassing perspective. As far as my perspective on this subject, I want to emphasize that my position, which is a complicated one, cannot be fully understood nor placed in the completely proper context without the benefit (or burden) of reading all the relevant articles I have written. In short, if you don’t read all of it, you will miss something and will not be fully informed as to my position. Criticize me or thank me, or perhaps you’ll just want to go to sleep at the thought of reading my stuff; I promise I have left nothing on the table. For the record, this collection, as faulty or incomplete as it may be, is my full “say”.

Ultimately, it is my hope that many other people in positions to take action, enact changes and people much smarter than me, are doing the same thing and more of it.

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1. Absolute enforcement of relevant laws already in place.

2. Improve background investigations and their processes, including intelligence sharing across federal, state and local agencies.

3. Enact or improve legislation that allows for crisis and pre-crisis intervention and improves information sharing between law enforcement agencies and relevant healthcare providers, all while still protecting individual rights and privacy.

4. Correct law enforcement agency mistakes and deficiencies in procedures and responses, including those proactive and preemptive. In relation to the shooting in Broward County, Florida, the FBI and local agencies had multiple and gross lapses, failures in multiple areas and multiple times. I believe disciplinary action against authorities on all levels is probably warranted in the Florida case. Ensure that responding security officers immediately and aggressively confront and neutralize threats.

5. Improve reporting programs to encourage appropriate reporting. Many school districts have extensive and multi-layered programs, including one aspect called Text-a-Tip, implemented in Douglas County, Colorado.

6. Electro-mechanically operated doors.

7. Video-monitored entry points and approaches to entry points. Monitoring to be active and constant.

8. Electronic access and identification cards required for secondary students and school staff and faculty; “proximity” badges or similar technology to actuate building entry; single person entry procedures (“tailgating” prohibited and actively controlled for entry). Cards are activated and deactivated electronically and remotely. All appropriate authorities are notified when an access or “prox” card is deactivated or revoked.

9. Armed security present at all active entry points and far ends of building approaches (closest to parking areas). Video surveillance of parking areas.

10. Random and specifically-defined mandatory searches conducted.

11. Secure portal entry areas – double electro-mechanically controlled door sets with metal detectors between. Portals are instantly locked inside and out upon detection (sensor activation) to contain and prevent further movement.

12. For entry outside of start- and end-of-day access (normally scheduled time window) active video assessment and audio communication capability installed at all access points and required before access is granted. Example: remote search/observation of backpack or satchel.

13. Separate portal for special entry requirements.

14. More prominent and permanent law enforcement presence, such as routine patrols, school building or on-property substations to be established.

15. Full-time armed school resource/security officer staffing. Utilize highly-qualified retired and former civilian and military law enforcement personnel and other highly trained and qualified individuals.

16. Modified procedures be implemented for security at athletic and other after-school-hours activities.

Here’s what it could look like, at least in part:

How an Indiana school protects against mass shootings as the 'safest school in America'

The Jeremy Wright Athletic Complex at Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Ind. The school has been referred to as “the safest school in America” since a 2015 “Today Show” report on the school’s security program. (Photo: The Indianapolis Star)

 

How an Indiana school protects against mass shootings as the ‘safest school in America’

USA Today Network, Nate Chute and Justin L. Mack, The Indianapolis Star

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l_wx3bBJSchool Shooting in Connecticut: An Open Letter to the Indiana Schools Superintendent
December 12, 2014

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The Community of Family: It Begins at Home

December 16, 2012

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The Pain and the Truth of Friday
December 23, 2012Sandy Hook School

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Where Have the Children Gone?
December 23, 2012

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Faulty Philosophy, Ineffective Government: An Analysis of President Obama’s 23 Executive Orders for Gun Control
February 13, 2013

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1. Rent, check out at the library, buy, download or get off of the shelf:
Ken Burns’ Jefferson.

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Here’s a sample.

2. Choose one:
A. Inspired and hopeful on this Presidents Day? Then Watch and reinforce what you believe.
B. Frustrated and discouraged on this Presidents Day? Then watch and be reassured.

3. Skip the news tonight.

4. Enjoy an inspiring and educational distraction and an incredible soundtrack all at the same time.

5. Thank me later.

BONUS: More from Ken Burns

Ken Burns America
Wikipedia
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
The Congress

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The man newly elected president is about to be inaugurated.

He has been much opposed and yet, too, much celebrated. Throughout his campaign he promoted controversial positions, especially when it comes to what so many would even call basic human rights; in other ways, he has been demonized for his radical views and proposals – and many argue unsophisticated and untried, inexperienced, even naive perspective. He is in too many ways an unknown quantity and yet is already reviled intensely and in other quarters seen almost as a savior of the country – finally.

Yet, with the fallout from the building troubles and looming destruction (some, perhaps many would say) of society and even the country, and the building storm and the fears of what is surely to come next, he hasn’t even taken office yet.

Yes, he may be loved in many sections of the country, but the greatest publicity surrounding him seems to have been up to this point negative, and many would say rightly so. Fear – or anticipation – of the unknown can be a powerful thing. We as a nation have lived it for as much as a decade, building to this great crescendo; it almost seems to have been inevitable.

It seems we stand literally on the brink of drastic, fantastic change. Change that may shake our security, our confidence in the future. In fact, that is perhaps the one thing we know without doubt: Things will change, we will change as our country, its direction and all affected by it and reliant upon it will change.

And here we are, the very night before his inauguration.

It is March 3rd, 1861.

For better or worse – and who can really tell? – Abraham Lincoln will be sworn into office tomorrow. Truly, if there be a God, surely then we plead, whether in joy, fear or even anger, God help us all.

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That morning in Washington City, one-hundred-fifty-six years ago, it was just as this one is expected to be: cold and rainy.

Our nation was on the verge of tearing itself apart, and so the mood of the skies reflected perfectly the inner-workings of people’s very hearts and minds. Lincoln bore an awesome weight that day, speaking much directly to the citizens of the South and speaking both eloquently and technically of those points of our National Constitution that addressed the issue of slavery, whether directly or indirectly.

Yet he spoke broadly to all the country as well, already feeling the weight of his assumed responsibilities and of the looming future; we could say now, in hindsight, impending doom.

From Lincoln’s first inaugural address:

“. . .In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

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And even with these impassioned, almost pleading words, it was just one month later, April 12th, that the first shots of our Union’s great and devastating Civil War were fired and that eventually took more lives than all other wars in American history combined. In those moments that Lincoln stood on the very steps that the man to assume the office of our 45th President stands now – in those moments, he surely knew what was to come and could not be stopped.

He won the presidency with only 40 percent of the vote; he did not even appear on the ballots of 10 southern states. And when he finally arrived in the capital city after his election, he was under threat of death and came on under the cover of disguise and darkness. And a great war was still and only one month away. Even then he had thoughts, perhaps premonitions of death, even assassination. Yet he was compelled to go forward, to assume the mantle and carry the great burden.

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Only four years later, but perhaps the longest four years in American history, Lincoln being a much older man in his body and spirit than his actual age would reckon, he saw the fulfillment of the promise of a united republic . . . but perhaps only from a distance. Like Moses, who was to only see the Promised Land from a distance, Lincoln too, never saw the fruits of Emancipation or of Reconciliation or of Reconstruction, but he saw them and knew them from a great distance, and believed in the promise that they would someday be realized. And they were.

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From his second inaugural address:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

And yet even after this, as before just one month later, on April 15th, great violence was visited upon the nation. In that moment the course of history was both fixed and altered.

Perhaps the very people who would choose not to attend such a momentous occasion as the inauguration of our next President will reflect on the fact that the incalculable sacrifices made those seven score and seventeen years ago afford them even now the liberty to choose such a course freely.

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Surely they and we all will reflect on this and celebrate this great thing. Though some, even many, still feel a sense of living under threat for their future, by virtue of the fact that they live under these Stars and Stripes and are both bounded by and set free by our Constitution, there remains the hope for and promise of a better future.

And for each and everyone of us as individuals, perhaps if we try hard enough, we will remember that “. . . we are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

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Lincoln photo: last known photo of Lincoln
President-elect Donald Trump photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Trump photo source: Article, IT’S OFFICIAL: The Electoral College makes Trump the president-elect, by Rebecca Harrington, for Business Insider

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Oct 27th 7:13pm

ExPatTex: Hey, I just had to check in and see what conclusions you have drawn about the election? I’m not going to harass you if we disagree (when have we ever agreed?), but I’d like to know what your take is.

livingunderrock

Oct 30th 8:59pm

ExPatCO: I have voted and am now living under a rock.

ExPatTex: Yes. I can understand 😦 This hasn’t been a stellar year for decency. I hope we can heal from this. I’m concerned about how polarized our country is, and the level to which our public discourse has fallen. Even I quit talking about politics; it’s just too painful. It used to be fun to disagree, but not so much this time around.

Oct 31st 3:52pm

ExPatCO: Agreed. Ok, here’s my [final] prediction: I believe it could actually turn out to be a Trump landslide, similar to Reagan – I have heard (don’t remember, of course…) that Carter was up high in single and low double-digit points in polling in the last days and even hours before, then all crashed on him. Just as much, I believe it could be a very tight squeaker late into the night, and no way to predict well. The one thing I believe impossible is a Clinton landslide.

More importantly, I think of what my father-in-law wrote in his first family history book (Kansas family farm stuff): In one of the chapters he wrote about the some of the darkest days of the farm in the seventies. He entitled it, “The Sun Will Still Come Up in the Morning”, quoting his father. I think of that constantly, and think that’s why he seems so well able to weather all this.

No matter what turns out, it is true: the sun really will rise again in the morning.

I think also of that Facebook group, “We Survived Bush, You Will Survive Obama”. The new group will be “We Survived Bush-then Obama-then ???-???- and on and on and on. . . .” until my son and then my son’s kids are old people.

… So… let’s both go back and re-read the Book of Ecclesiastes: There is Nothing New Under the Sun. Did that answer your Q?!

Oct 31st 5:26pm

ExPatTex: I have no doubt that there is nothing new under the sun. When GWB was elected I accepted the choice of the people. I decided he was a compassionate man, as he portrayed himself. I was so disappointed with that man. The financial wreckage left behind, and the results, to this day, of the wars that we needlessly engaged in.

I think I’ve lost the optimism that allowed me to believe that it doesn’t really matter who resides in the White House. The sun will rise in the morning, but what will it reveal?

I’m not as good at analysis as you are. I was convinced that Romney would win, although you may have been, too. I just hope that whatever happens, it will be mostly good for most people.

You already owe me an ice cream from the last election. I think you’re holding out until I owe you one.

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trumpwins

Nov 9th 4:13pm

ExPatTex: I would like to believe that we will now pull together behind a man who earns our respect every day. A man who can figure out how to deliver his vague but huge promises.

This completely unexpected outcome holds some lessons if we choose to learn them.

I think our country embraced equality in a way that left many people deeply uncomfortable. Whether we agree or find that reprehensible, maybe we have to face it. When apparently religious people give their tacit approval to a man who has no respect for their principles or values, or even the basic standards of human decency, maybe they’re doing so out of some conviction we just do not understand. Maybe we should try.

We all knew that the election of a black man as President created a huge backlash of racism and resentment that was shocking to those of us who had moved beyond racism. Since this election is partially a reaction to the threat, real or imagined, that some people feel from outsiders, including women and blacks, I expect to see more discrimination and hatred than ever before. It comes from the top down, and the flames are already being fanned. David Duke of the KKK tweeted this morning that DT is their candidate.

If Trump can truly be a leader to all of us, he’s going to have to drop the hate and racism. We would be wise though, to recognize that there are those who found a voice to their stifled feelings in his hurtful remarks. Their feelings aren’t going to go away even if he learns to rein in his hateful opinions; the opinions of his constituency still exist.

I think desperate people who saw their lives disintegrating believe that their fortunes will be better served by burning the country down than any other prospect they feel they have. I think they have no interest in how the US is perceived in the world; they just want their little part of it to get better. If they’re backing the wrong horse, it will still be harder to ignore their decline, and maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should have been more attentive to it a long time ago.

I think that many of us believed that Americans were progressing in tolerance. There is a huge segment of us, however, who don’t share those feelings. They seem more comfortable with the idea of single family earners than single parent households. Again, whether we agree or find this bizarre and anachronistic, we need to face their feelings. We have been trying to move along without them, but now their voices have been heard.

This outcome will be dissected every possible way. I hope that we will all choose to learn some lessons, and try to understand one another more. I hope that now we can put this horrible election behind us and move forward with some healing. We owe it to ourselves to do so, rather than to maintain partisanship until we are more damaged by it.

A lot of us didn’t get what we wanted. I’m one of those people. But look at how divided we were: we knew that half of us would be unhappy with the result, whatever it was. Everybody has had their say. If Clinton won, I expected rioting. Maybe we can be a little more restrained in our reactions this way.

There are aspects to the future that horrify me, and fill me with sadness. We will have to face those issues as they come. Right now it’s time to move forward.

Nov 9th 9:02pm

ExPatCO: Ultimately, regarding the highest principles you speak of, I agree with you. For me HRC would have been as unacceptable as DT is/was for you. He was last on my list, except that HRC was last behind him. In my view DT’s horrible stuff does not make HRC’s rotten stuff less so. I can only hope now he has a better nature that will come forth.

It is a true mystery to me how we can see, think, and believe so differently. As humans we are fascinating – how we can be made of the same stuff yet be so different. I don’t think it can really be explained. Perhaps it is random and only but amazingly, wonderfully biological; perhaps it is intentional, deliberate. I do not know.

As for the future, I remain a bit frustrated, cautious and cautiously hopeful.

As for all that you have said here, essentially, and in short, I hope you are right about all the good stuff and wrong about all the bad stuff.

Nov 9th 9:17pm

ExPatTex: I didn’t sleep last night; I was so filled with anxiety. I had plenty of time to think this all through. I’m a pragmatist, and I think we’d better make every attempt we can to understand one another. The election was so adversarial that we told ourselves that those who supported the candidate we did not were crazy.

We’d better take this moment to look a little deeper, or we are going to tear our nation apart. I don’t have to agree, but I want to understand.

Nov 9th 10:30pm

ExPatCO: Agreed. And I have completely lost track of who owes whom ice cream.

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I recently came across this video on Facebook and was impressed, both emotionally and for its somber content. It was inspiring to me. For this impact I decided to repost it, and as I did I thanked the friend who had first posted it to his page. It is based on Ronald Reagan’s [perhaps] most famous speech, A Time for Choosing.

In response to my posting, another friend commented, “It is awesome, in the true sense of the word, to watch our military, in all its glory. Unfortunately, Reagan was playing to people’s fears of a Cold War that was mostly in our heads as a nation. It cost a fortune to arm our country against a nation that in the end was falling apart. Fear is still the m.o. for some Americans. I wish we could move beyond the fear and use our might for positive and optimistic pursuits.”

Here is my response:

By the same token, we could say [in retrospect] that Germany’s path under Hitler was [ultimately] not sustainable (20/20 hindsight); one could have reasoned that in both cases the world could have waited them out. Stalin’s Soviet Union killed at least 20 million people (some estimates approach 60 million), and with their post-war expansion including the Berlin blockade, their aggressive missile program (ours, too – how could it have not happened?) then their strategic missiles in Cuba – that trend line, especially in light of WW2, was not a positive one.

Flughafen Tempelhof wird geschlossen

Fear mongering? The Berlin Wall was actually built, and not by US – and consider the lives – and countries, economies, futures, freedoms, choices, opportunities – all torn apart when it was built. Consider the people – East German people – killed trying to escape their own country because of it. This defined the earliest hours of the Cold War. And we (the US) neither did it nor caused it. Should we have waited out evil to fall on its own? It was a “cold” war, after all; there was no real shooting, after all, right? (not that any of us, safe at home, so well protected in the continental US knew of. . .). From that view, we did in fact wait it out – for about 28 years. And it was Reagan, years after his speech in the video, who issued the challenge – and not with a military weapon, but with words: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

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How can we truly, accurately predict the future? All indicators told the world where the USSR was going. Consider how Adlai Stevenson (Democrat) confronted the Soviet ambassador in the UN Security Council. Think of the experience that so many came out of – including Reagan: the end of World War II, the late 40’s with the rapidly expanding Soviet sphere and their blockade of Berlin and intended permanent partition of Germany, the missile era and Sputnik of the 1950’s and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Berlin Wall of the early 1960’s.

Even still, there is a FB group that seeks to discredit and delegitimize Reagan; there they promote the denigration, even hatred of him. There are many who will always believe he was a bad person, with ulterior, selfish, evil-intended motives working secretly (or not so secretly) in support of the so-called military–industrial complex, so-called by President Eisenhower (Republican). Imagine if the US did nothing in response and Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Ford and Reagan all stated instead we would watch and wait?

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And why might Reagan (then recently-former Democrat) have “fear mongered”? For what purpose or gain? Is it ultimately the truth to say he believed and acted with il- if not evil, ulterior intent? Did he intend to manipulate his hearers for an ultimate evil? I do not believe it. If anyone does believe it, they might as well argue that ultimately he was even morally wrong to speak of the United States as a “Shining City Upon A Hill”.

Consider the success of the Reykjavík Summit in Iceland, negotiating with and facing down Gorbachev and the Soviets, not with arms, but with rationale, resolve and right (yes, perhaps some – many – would argue against the points “success” and “right”, but how would those detractors have proposed it to have been done?). That meeting and its ultimate results were a very long time coming, and in relative peace, without a shot fired.

hofdi_house_reykjavik

Consider the year during which the referenced speech in the video was made (1964). Think of where Reagan and his contemporaries came from – and they were hardly alone. Would anyone argue that he or his contemporaries’ views were completely without foundation? That is an absurdity. Can any of us really in full and complete knowledge now declare our defense measures and efforts to contain if not put down communism were a waste of money? How would someone possibly qualify and quantify that indisputably? Consider the implications of such Monday morning quarterbacking some sixty and seventy years in retrospect.

gorbachev_and_reagan_630px_465px

– – –

We do not need a military, including soldiers trained for hand-to-hand combat, fighter jets, rifles or armed ships of any kind for positive and optimistic pursuit. Positive and optimistic pursuits call for knowledgeable and capable people, cargo ships and transport planes. There is no useful purpose to a military being seen in all its glory for the sake of its glory. It is meant to deter or stop a bad thing from happening. Is it to be argued deterrence is unnecessary? That war is never to be necessary? And what if there were never any preparations for the what if?

And let’s not forget – the US provides those very military ships and planes – and people – for positive and optimistic pursuits constantly, world-wide, and more than any other country – saving lives, delivering food and medicine, hope and relief, and blankets and shelter and water and water filtration systems and tools and doctors and nurses and dentists and ditch diggers, electricians and bulldozer drivers and carpenters.

Maybe, ultimately, it should be argued that no weapons of any kind should ever be produced by anyone, anywhere. A world like that would truly be optimistic. It would be Utopia…but sadly, tragically, unrealistic.

reagan-farewell-speech-e1468953349231

My take on Reagan’s speech, A Time for Choosing, is that while it may seem like fear mongering and over-the-top melodrama to some, it demonstrates what standing on principle actually sounds like. It describes what strength for the sake of liberty requires. It declares what true leadership and hope – like a shining city on a hill – for a hurting, threatened and uncertain world looks like. We’re just not used to it.

– – –

More fascinating – and disturbing – videos about The Berlin Wall:

https://youtu.be/Q7Bi6tiWNCk

https://youtu.be/LdZVsFjWnbI

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