Open letter to NFL players who #TakeAKnee

The national anthem isn't the only -- nor is it necessarily the best -- time for athletes to protest.
The national anthem isn’t the only — nor is it necessarily the best — time for athletes to protest.

To Whom It May Concern:

I hear you. We all hear you. You’ve made your plight known to the masses. You’ve reached prime time audiences and have been featured on cable news networks. Your cries of injustice have not gone unheard.

But you’ve got to stop living in the Land of Make Believe; you know, that sprawling metropolis smack dab in the middle of the cities of Denial and Defiance, just across the river from the towns of Hypocrisy and Ignorance.

I could go on for hours about why your complaints are misguided, why your judgment is clouded, and why your protests are hypocritical, but I’ll sum it up briefly and spare you details, because that’s not ultimately what my post is about.

To sum it up, you are using a First Amendment right to protest against a country whose Constitution gave you that right in the first place.

…what? If that’s not the definition of hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.

Those of you, and your ardent supporters, will argue until you’re red, white and blue in the face, claiming that your protests are not about the United States flag or the country itself, but about racial injustice and corrupt police officers.

It sounds nice, but that’s not what Colin Kaepernick — you know, the below-average quarterback-turned-Gandhi — said after his first protest in 2016. If you’ve forgotten his words, allow me to remind you:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, circa 2016

I see the word “oppress” in there, but I also see someone saying he’s not going to show pride in his country — and a lack of pride “in” is a disrespect “for” the country.

Some of you other players are claiming the opposite of your trailblazer. You’re saying that you have plenty of pride in the flag, the country, and all those who fought and died to ensure and promote freedom and liberty. You just want to draw attention to injustice.

That’s fine. That’s noble. And I’m not going to accuse you of lying, even though I have my doubts about your version of truth.

But — and here’s where ignorance comes in — disrespect comes in many forms and is not exclusively a result of intent. Disrespect can occur unintentionally, and with your poor choice of timing, you are indirectly showing disrespect toward the country that you call home.

But, as I’ve mentioned, criticizing your motives is not the intent of this post. So, I’ll stop digressing and get back to my point.

Nobody is bashing your cause, good sirs. We all have a measure of respect for your feelings and intentions because anybody who believes in this country and its founding principles believes in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All citizens — legal, of course — of this country should have equal opportunities to make something of themselves.

It’s not your cause; it’s your timing that is awful.

You claim that you’re using your platform and maximizing exposure, but you’re shortsighted in thinking that the national anthem is the best and only time to protest. There are literally dozens of times before, during, and after a football game when you can still be “seen” by the masses as promoting your message.

Here’s a novel concept: maybe instead of practicing your next silly end zone celebration, you drop to a knee and/or raise a fist to do your protest after crossing the goal line? When better to protest than when all eyes are on you, rather than the flag?

Another possibility is maybe right before kickoff, all players who want to protest raise their fists or kneel on the sideline. Everybody in the stadium is amped up, fans have returned to their seats from the bathroom and concession stands and all eyes are down on the playing surface where they can see players kneeling in unity or standing with fists raised.

Another idea is maybe coming out of the huddle, a player raises a fist as he runs to his position. Can you see the quarterback doing that? He is the most-watched player on the field prior to the snap. Everybody who knows football understands that he’s going to receive the snap and he’s the guy worth watching. So why can’t he raise a fist as soon as he breaks the huddle? (other than it being a tremendous distraction and his focus should be on the game)

All of these gestures that I’ve suggested are even more visible than those exhibited during the anthem because the game itself is the focal point on a Sunday afternoon.

Players can still protest and do it with plenty of eyes on them. When you are receiving pushback for your disrespect, instead of fighting it and defiantly maintaining your same course of action, why not consider some alternatives that are just as — if not more effective?

Just don’t do it during the anthem. Don’t disrespect the flag. Whether it’s intentional or not, it’s still disrespect, and you’re looking like overprivileged, anti-American hypocrites.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s iron fist has gone limp

Embed from Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the man who was once thought to rule with an iron fist, has apparently pulled out his rubber hand when it comes to ruling on the National Anthem controversy.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday after meeting with team owners for their annual fall meeting, Goodell said he believes all players “should” stand for the national anthem but said nothing about handing down punishments for those who did not.

Ever since Colin Kaepernick — the overrated, underwhelming flash-in-the-pan former NFL quarterback — started sitting on the bench and later kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem last NFL season, there has been a black cloud hovering over the league. A few other players followed Kaepernick’s lead, but it wasn’t until President Donald Trump made a speech at a political rally, weighing in on the actions of these ungrateful players, that the “take a knee” movement really began to pick up steam.

There are so many problems with what the NFL players are doing, but it really starts with the fact that their “platform” seems to be built upon a wet paper towel. While many of the kneeling players and their supporters claim that their protests have nothing to do with dishonoring the flag or all those who have fought and died for the country, their reasoning is faulty at best.

When asked to defend the actions of his very first protest, Kaepernick had this to say following a preseason game in 2016:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Are you kidding me? It’s right there in black and white — no pun intended. How anyone can not interpret this as an unpatriotic gesture is beyond me. Refusing to “show pride” in America’s flag is the epitome of being unpatriotic.

Does our country have problems? Of course it does. That doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of it. Spend a year in almost any other country in the world — even the most civilized of them — and you’ll learn to appreciate the greatness of this country, flaws and all.

Go ahead and protest the perceived injustices you are clamoring about in almost any other situation in your life. But don’t do it during the National Anthem. To disrespect the flag, to be a hypocrite and use your First Amendment right — a right that was granted to you by this great country, secured by those who fought and died under that flag you so disdain — is an act of a spoiled, entitled juvenile.

The NFL has been a model for every other major professional sports league in America. The way they conduct business and make it a profitable organization, put forth an entertaining, must-see product, all the while growing its fan base worldwide is something to be emulated.

However, in this one specific area, Goodell and the NFL owners had an opportunity to take a page out of the NBA’s rule book when it comes to the National Anthem.

The NBA’s official rule reads as follows:

“Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”

NBA’s Rule Book

The NBA has a right to do that. It is not stifling free speech. It is a rule for a private organization. The NFL refused to make such a rule, and it is my belief that Goodell is trying to save face in the midst of all the heat he has taken in recent years over the NFL’s policies on suspensions and enforcement of in-game rules.

The NFL will continue to trot out spoiled brats who don’t understand what a privilege it is to be a millionaire living in America, and it’ll remain that way until the NFL — specifically Roger Goodell — decides to drop the iron fist and regain control of the inmates in the asylum.

Not My President? Yes, Trump is every American’s president

It’s Presidents’ Day in the United States of America and what better way to celebrate than to demonstrate the hypocrisy of democracy?

Thousands of Americans are expected to take to the streets to protest America’s current sitting president, one Donald Trump.

That’s fine. I don’t have any problem with Americans exercising a freedom granted them by our Founding Fathers.

I do have a problem with the #NotMyPresident movement, though.

For any American out there who utters the phrase, “not my president”, or uses the hashtag #NotMyPresident, you are incorrect, and likely a hypocrite.

You are incorrect because you do not get to choose your president.

You are allowed to cast a vote for the man or woman you want to serve as your president, but the Electoral College ultimately determines who your president is, based on a collection of votes from every American who casts one.

Thus, you are likely a hypocrite because you celebrate the idea of democracy, exercise the freedoms given to you by our Constitution, and are supposedly fighting for the rights of every American…

…and yet you ignore the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump.

(Yes, Hillary Clinton received more votes, but if you want to argue that the popular vote should be the deciding factor in an election, that’s a separate argument for another day)

The point is, an election was held and your candidate lost. Don’t be a first-grader who runs inside and cries because the result didn’t go your way.

Like it or not, Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017, and he is the President of the United States, and your president, too — assuming you are a legal American.

If you are not a legal American, you can be expecting a knock on your door soon as the Department of Homeland Security carries out its operation to crack down on illegal aliens.

So, go ahead and walk around and proclaim that Trump is not your president. I’ve got news for you, though … he is. And he will continue to be your president until you leave the country and become a citizen elsewhere, or until the next democratic general election in 2020 when you get another chance to vote him out of office.

Immigration is not the issue … illegal aliens and terrorists are

The United States of America is a nation built by immigrants.

Native Americans were here first, of course, but the actual foundation of our country was built by those who emigrated from the motherland in an effort to build a better life.

This is not a disputable fact, one which President Donald Trump himself would find difficulty arguing against.

Thus, it gives me great consternation that all across America on Thursday, businesses and schools closed down as immigrants — and many of their supporters — chose to stay home in a national “day without immigrants” protest.

What? Why? What exactly are we protesting here?

“From doctors to dishwashers, immigrants are integral to daily life in the U.S.,” said one person via Twitter, as reported by USA Today.

Many other protesters are speaking out against President Trump and in favor of their “immigrant brothers and sisters.”

And I’m left scratching my head asking, “Do you even realize what you’re protesting against?”

The issue is not with immigration. It’s with illegal immigration.

If immigrants crossed the border illegally and are undocumented residents, they should not be rewarded for that behavior and should not be allowed to stay.

Get back across the border to your homeland and restart the process legally.

Why is that a hard concept to understand? We play by the rules in this country, and if you break them, you’re punished — whether you are a legal, documented citizen or not.

As for the travel “ban” against aliens from select countries … ban was probably the wrong word to use because that implies some kind of indefinite, extended law.

The executive order that Trump signed, which was shot down by the courts, called for a limited “moratorium” on accepting citizens and refugees from select terrorist-infused nations.

A 90-day “ban” for citizens of those terrorist-infused nations and a 120-day “ban” for refugees.

Refugees from Syria were to be indefinitely “banned” until a time when that hotbed of terrorism and instability became stabilized.

Suddenly, Americans feel the need to stand up for the rights of these refugees over a temporary ruling to help secure our borders and keep our citizens safe.

That’s a concept that will never make sense.

If you don’t protect your house and those dwelling within its walls, you cease to have a safe place to call home in the first place.

The first duty of a United States President is to keep our country safe, and when our President feels we need tighter borders so we can gain a better understanding of who is entering our country — whether it be a sincere immigrant looking for a better life or an ISIS terrorist posing as a refugee in order to gain access to our country — it is silly to worry about the rights of foreigners before we worry about the safety of Americans.

I feel like the common expression “safety first” is lost upon all these protesters who want to open our borders to anyone and everyone. Perhaps it was never taught to them growing up…?

But I digress. Back to the main point of this post…

Immigration is something our country prides itself on and President Trump never said he wants to close our borders and never let anybody in.

No, he said he wanted to secure our borders, deport the illegals who broke our rules and make them play by the same set of rules as those entering legally.

If you can’t agree with that simple principle of abiding by a set of rules, then you have little concept of morality — right vs. wrong, legal vs. illegal, lawful vs. unlawful, and common sense vs. naïveté.

Flag burning? Protests work best when aimed at right target

I just don’t get it.

This isn’t a debate about rights and freedoms, it’s a matter of common sense.

Has no one heard the expression, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”…?

I deeply believe in the United States Constitution and the rights that it gives to, and protects for, its citizens. Such rights protected are the freedom of assembly, freedom to protest, and yes — however stupid and nonsensical it is — the freedom to burn an American flag.

So, it doesn’t peeve me when I see someone exercise one of his or her freedoms so much as it disappoints me that his or her protests are aimed at the wrong target.

While flag burners are intending to send a signal to the government that they are unhappy with what’s going on in the country at the moment, they confusedly are sending an entirely different message…

That they hate, dislike, have zero pride in, or no respect for the country that they habit.

To which, the immediate reply is, “Why the hell are you living here?”

If this country has wronged you so much, why not move to a different one? Why would anybody choose to be miserable? Go somewhere else where you feel their laws better suit your needs.

Wait, what? You don’t want to leave? You have a life here? You have friends and family here? You don’t have to fear for your life that a suicide bomber will blow you up in a marketplace or that the government will tear you from your home and imprison you simply for saying that you disagree with it?

What novel concepts. It sounds like you don’t hate this country as much as your flag-burning portends.

You see, the flag is a symbol for this country, not for whoever currently sits in the Oval Office in any given year. The flag doesn’t represent Donald Trump. These are not the United States of Trump, just like they weren’t the US of Obama, US of Bush, US of Clinton … all the way back to US of George Washington.

No. These are the United States of America, for which the stars and stripes of the flag represent. By burning the flag, you’re flipping the middle finger at — essentially — yourself. Because you are a citizen of this country, and the freedom that you are exercising was given to you by this country.

How oxymoronic is that?

That’s like getting a birthday gift from someone, liking it, and then throwing the gift at the face of the person who gave it to you.


You are upset with the President, not the country, so why burn the symbol for the country?

No, the American flag is not a symbol for the President of the United States, but the President can be a symbol for the country. Still, you are upset with the President, not the country, so why burn the symbol for the country?

If you want to send a message that you disapprove of Donald Trump, go protest outside one of his hotels. Go walk around outside the White House or anywhere through the streets of Washington, D.C. Make an effigy of Trump and do whatever you want to it.

All of these — while still idiotic and a pointless waste of time — are well within your rights and they send the right signal — that you are angry with the man in charge, not with the country that has given you everything you have in life.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The country against which you protest and whose flag you burn is protecting you from getting imprisoned or shot dead for doing so.

Why would you turn your back on it and misplace your anger and resentment?

President Trump is not your child’s role model … you are

President Trump role model?
Don’t expect President Trump to be your child’s role model. That responsibility begins with you as the parent.

Strong emotions can sometimes cause people to say or do — let’s just call it “questionable” things. This is why I advocate not shooting from the hip and why I encourage people to think before they speak or act.

For instance, exit polls show a large bloc of American voters were “angry” and they broke toward Trump. So, if you are anti-Trump, this is your opportunity to see what raw emotion can do. It put a man that you despise into office.

Because I know that anti-Trumpers are highly emotional right now, I’m willing to tolerate and understand all the protesting that is going on — however ineffectual and futile these protests might be.

One thing I will not tolerate and maintain silence about is a parent’s duty and responsibility toward his or her children.

While reading an article from the Chicago Tribune, titled: “5 arrested after largely peaceful anti-Trump protests downtown,” I came across a blurb about a young woman who brought her 3-year-old daughter to the protest at Trump Tower in Chicago.

The first thing that went through my mind was, “Are you nuts?” Even though the article title says the protests were “largely peaceful” that doesn’t mean protests never break out into violence and danger. On the contrary, they often do.

Furthermore, this woman even admitted “[My daughter is] a little too young to understand all of this.”

So … what exactly is she doing there?

Bringing your child into a potentially dangerous situation is only one thing that rubbed me the wrong way. But it was her next quote that really left me shaking my head.

“The president is supposed to be a role model for children and somebody that they look up to. … I have to be a role model if our president won’t be,” she said.

Wow. Just … wow.

While I agree with her that Trump is not the best role model — and I’ve even said as much as far back to the primaries and throughout the general election campaign — it is not Trump’s responsibility to raise your kids. It’s your own.

“I have to be a role model if our president won’t be…”

No, sweetheart … you have to be a role model, period.

Pope Francis or even Mother Teresa — God rest her soul — could be in the Oval Office and you still would be ultimately responsible for being the first and primary role model in your child’s life — next to Jesus Christ, of course.

You see, it’s not Donald Trump’s responsibility as upcoming President of the United States to be a role model. That’s not his job. His job is to serve and protect the country and ensure the growth and prosperity of America — to help leave the country in better shape for your child than you think it currently is for you.

Now, if you don’t think Trump is equipped to handle that responsibility, you can argue that until you’re blue in the face. I’ve even had my doubts and skepticism about Trump. But that’s not the point of this post.

The topic of this particular blog post is taking responsibility and being a role model in your own child’s life.

If you think Trump sets a bad example, it’s your job to explain to your child why. Tell your child why it’s not right to treat women the way Trump was describing in his “locker room talk” with Billy Bush. Go down the list of offenses that you feel that Trump has committed and explain to your child why you feel these are wrong.

Aaron Sorkin letter

For example, Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin wrote an open letter to his 15-year-old daughter after Donald Trump was elected President Tuesday night. And while I do not agree with everything he says or stands for, I point out this article specifically to exemplify how a parent should communicate the rights and wrongs of the world with their child.

It’s no different than not allowing your child to watch an R-rated movie, making sure they “stay in the yard” when playing ball, looking both ways before crossing the street, instructing them to do their homework and clean their room, teaching them to be respectful to authority, making sure they brush their teeth and go to bed on time, telling them to say “please” and “thank you” — the list of parental responsibilities goes on and on.

It’s a daunting task, to be sure. Nobody said parenting would be easy. I myself have no idea of the tremendous challenges that lie ahead for my wife and me as parents.

But you ultimately have the responsibility to tell your child what is right and wrong. Nobody else does. Don’t shirk that responsibility. Don’t dump it off on someone else.

I love that parents love their children and want what is best for them. That’s the first step. But it doesn’t stop at love.

As a Christian, I believe that Christ is the cornerstone and foundation of each individual’s life. But a child doesn’t even know of Jesus until his or her parents teach and share the Good News with them.

Therefore, whether you are a believer or not … a child’s first and most important source of learning and growing begins within the household, and you as a parent are the President and Role-Model-in-Chief of that particular domain.

And you didn’t even have to be elected to serve.

2016 Presidential Election takeaways

2016 Presidential Election takeaways
2016 Presidential Election takeaways – What we’ve learned following the results of the election and Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
  1. Two awful candidates got into the center ring for a round of cock fighting. Trump pecked Clinton in the eye and escaped the winner.
  2. If you play the stock market, buy now. People are finicky and panicky and this is a great opportunity to buy low and reap the benefits later.
  3. Lessons learned from Trump’s surprise victory: Don’t put all your stock into polls. The margin for error is often vastly inaccurate and the sampling is woefully unrepresentative. Don’t let the media influence your thoughts and feelings. Let them deliver the news to you and you make your own educated decisions.
  4. I’m extremely tired this morning. I stayed up until nearly 3 a.m. watching election coverage. What’s that old saying about not being able to take your eyes off a car wreck? … How about a historic one?
  5. Car wreck is up to each individual’s interpretation. If you dislike Trump, you consider the election results a car wreck. If you dislike Clinton, it’s her campaign that is the car wreck.
  6. Elections are clearly emotional events due to the time, energy, and deeply personal thoughts and feelings that are invested in them. But just as the world would not have ended if Clinton had won, neither will it end with Trump in the Oval Office.
  7. Many Americans are out on a ledge this morning. Some are genuinely scared and afraid. Others are angry and in denial. Still others are just putting on a good act to demonstrate their feelings about Trump. Whatever the case may be, step back off the ledge. The sun will continue to rise each day.
  8. I find it offensive to be put into a box and labeled sexist because I did not support Clinton. Just because you don’t agree with her liberal agenda, suddenly you dislike her gender?
  9. I have little empathy for Clinton supporters who were ready to celebrate her “historic milestone” and instead left her rally in tears. If you supported Clinton because you thought she was the most qualified for the job, that’s your right. If your primary reason for support was because you wanted a woman president, shame on you. If that’s the case, there are plenty more honest, decent, and trustworthy women to fill that role than Clinton.
  10. Airplanes are revving up right now ready to depart the country. Will any of those smoke-blowers who vowed to leave the country if Trump won the election be on board?
  11. If you’re serious about leaving the country and are interested in heading south, just make sure you leave quickly before Trump’s wall makes it more difficult to do so.
  12. This could be the most divided the country has been since the Civil War. Trump has an awful lot of fences to mend and wounds to heal.
  13. Although Trump helped further the divide between the left and the right, in fairness to him, the country was already splitting at the seams before he even announced his intent to run for president.
  14. One of the characteristics that bothered me most about Clinton was her sense of entitlement. She felt it was “her turn” in 2008 until Barack Obama knocked her off her throne. Once more, she thought she was next in line in succession to the throne but her peasants-to-be had other ideas.
  15. I don’t like Trump and I find it hard to respect a man with an impressive resume of questionable character. But just as I’ve said throughout Obama’s presidency: I will respect the office of the president and honor it like it deserves.
  16. Although Trump wasn’t my first choice for president — or second, or fifth, or sixteenth — I’m proud of the American people for taking action. They chose not to settle for a government that became too powerful, and instead chose to rise up and take part in democracy.
  17. Anyone can sit at home and grumble about feeling betrayed by their government. The true sign of our country working as intended is the power of the people to bring about change.
  18. Speaking of change, Barack Obama and Donald Trump are both agents of change — albeit in completely opposite directions. Change seems to have a perpetual feel to it in that the greater that Change A is, the more dramatic and needed that Change B will seem. It swings back and forth like a pendulum.
  19. Funny thing about pendulums: The further they swing in one direction, the more rapidly, momentously, and purposefully they come back in the other direction.
  20. This country’s pendulum swung to the far left when Obama took office and the Democrats held both the House and the Senate. It’s what enabled Obama to pass the Affordable Care Act. Now the pendulum has swung back in the other direction and the Republicans have total control of government — or, at least the White House and control of Congress.
  21. Once concerned that Trump’s political inexperience could cause major problems in Washington, I’m kind of intrigued that America has elected a common man. After all, our Founding Fathers, by and large, were ordinary men with jobs who cared about our country. Wealthy men, yes. But those who sought to lead and make the country as great as it could be.
  22. If Trump’s lack of experience and erratic temperament have you a little concerned, just consider the idea that if he is really bad at his job and does something illegal, he can and will be impeached by a Republican Congress that was divided about him, anyway.
  23. Let’s just hope that if he does something impeachable, it’s not permanently damaging and beyond repair.
  24. How long before the #ImpeachTrump hashtag becomes a trend on Twitter? #NotMyPresident is already trending.
  25. Sadly, you see the division — and the delusion — that exists in this country. Trump is, in fact, your president if you are a citizen and resident of the United States of America. And if you don’t like it, join the celebrities who vowed to exit the country if he won the election.
  26. Speaking of exists, Californians are stirring up ideas of seceding from the union — a “Calexit” — in the wake of Trump’s victory. Fine. Instead of being one of the largest states in the greatest country in the world, you’ll be a small, isolated country surrounded and squished up against the Pacific Ocean by a nation that won’t be so eager to help you.
  27. Reports of violence amongst protesters in the wake of Trump’s victory only confirm the reason why Trump was elected in the first place. Lawless disobedience must be curbed.
  28. Trump said he wants us to be a nation of law and order. I concur. Now that he’s in office, he’s going to have to prove it in the face of rising violence.
  29. If there is one thing above all else that I approve the government spending money on, it’s national defense and homeland security. Without safety and protection, without law and order, we descend into utter chaos and cease to be a nation.
  30. Speaking of ceasing to be a nation, Trump has said many times that without borders we cannot be called a nation. This is actually an area in which I agree with the President-elect. And although I remain skeptical that we’ll actually erect a southern border wall, I would be in favor of one existing.
  31. The narrative against Trump is that his border wall contradicts the American history and spirit of immigration. We’ve heard Democrats rail against this, claiming that we are a nation of immigrants and of freedom and opportunity, and that Trump is trying to take that all away. That’s just political posturing done by one party to make the other party leader look bad.
  32. The truth about Trump’s immigration stance is that he is against illegal immigration. Shouldn’t we all be? Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but the process must be legal, otherwise we become overrun by those who do not conform to our laws, take our jobs, and lower wages for hard-working, legal Americans. Those are not disputable facts.
  33. As I watch my Twitter feed today, I cannot believe the overwhelming potshots taken at Trump and his supporters from angry, disgruntled Clinton supporters. It feels like scorned high schoolers who were dumped by their boyfriend or girlfriend and are now trashing them behind their back.
  34. Twitter is a wonderful tool for sharing news and information; but it makes an awful online diary.
  35. Sour Grapes are alive and well in America. I’m willing to give some leniency to those who are voicing their frustrations. A few days? Maybe a few weeks? But if this kind of angry rhetoric continues beyond Inauguration Day, it’s time to grow up and move on with your life.
  36. I think many of the problems we face in America today stem from a lack of morality and faith in God, thus giving a rise to selfish ambition and self-reliance.
  37. “God help us” and “God save us” seem to be a popular turn of phrase following Trump’s election victory. Something tells me the same phrases would have been uttered had Clinton been victorious. Common thread? This country needs God’s help.
  38. I find it ironic that so many are calling upon God’s name after Trump’s victory and yet God is largely forgotten or left out by Americans on a daily basis.
  39. With Mike Pence — a devout Christian — standing by his side, I’m hoping the Trump Administration can bring back an emphasis on faith and morality in this country.
  40. If there’s one thing that can be taken away from the 2016 Presidential Election more than any other, it’s that we remain a diverse nation and one that will not conform like robots to the agenda from either side of the aisle. We still have a pulse.

2016 Presidential Election: Step toward radicalized America?

2016 Presidential Election
The 2016 Presidential Election could bring about a more radicalized version of America completely foreign to what the Founding Fathers had envisioned.

My wife and I have a baby boy named Everett. He turns six months old today.

Perhaps it is fitting that today is also America’s 2016 Presidential Election Day.

Everett is pure and innocent, unscathed and unafflicted by the evil and corruption in this world. He’s a happy boy who is enjoying the sights and sounds of his surroundings. The biggest problem in his young life is when he wakes up hungry and we can’t get a bottle in his mouth quick enough. Or, when his Baby First TV show goes to a commercial break and he has to sit through a barrage of advertisements featuring humans instead of two-dimensional cartoon characters.

Annoyance with commercials is an ageless feeling, I guess.

When we look into his eyes, just like any parent does their child, we see a dependent little being who is going to rely on us for all his needs for nearly two decades before he develops the tools to take care of himself.

At the moment, he is a piece of unmolded clay waiting to be shaped and sculpted. He’s a sheet of blank white canvas paper ready for someone to fill in with detail. Or, more appropriately, he is a sponge who will be soaking in everything his five little senses can absorb, answering questions along the way such as: “Who am I? Where am I? And what the heck am I doing here?”

This is why, as Americans head to the polls today to elect the 45th President of the United States, I’m on the edge of my seat with anxiety as we await which candidate will be leading the country during Everett’s first four complete years in this world.

I’ve heard candidates for more than 20 years use the rhetorical question, “What kind of country will we be leaving our children?” To me, this never resonated because I haven’t been a parent until this current election cycle. I’ve always shrugged off that question and figured I’d let everyone else worry about that. I wanted America fixed right now.

But it takes being a parent to understand exactly what that means. As a parent, you want the best for your child and you never want to see them go through pain and suffering. More than that, you want to see them succeed and have a better life than you had because it brings great joy to see them thrive.

This is why I am nervous for Everett. I’m not so sure he will be left with a better America than the one his parents or grandparents have had.

The national debt is mounting, as our government borrows and spends money as if it were Monopoly currency. Gun violence seems to be ever-growing and spreading like wildfire. Police officers are under attack and criticized for their handling of a very difficult job, trying to maintain law and order so our society doesn’t dissolve into chaos. Terrorism is alive and (not) well, spreading across international borders and hitting first-world countries. Taxes keep rising and affect our cost of living. Health care costs are through the roof. There’s less spending cash in Americans’ pockets, smaller savings accounts, and weaker and bleaker retirement living.

“…and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

What a disaster this election cycle has become. I am disappointed in Republicans and Democrats alike for the two candidates that they nominated. And for two candidates who have such high unfavorability ratings — even within their own parties! — I am just shocked by the “voice of the people” and how we got to where we are today.

I’m not a historian, but this country couldn’t possibly have been any more divided than it is today — this side of the Civil War.

One side of the aisle wants to preserve the Constitution as it was originally intended. The other side wants to rip it up and start from scratch. I’m a firm believer in the Constitution, what it stands for, and what the Founding Fathers had envisioned for this country, but surely there is a common middle ground somewhere.

Certainly we understand as a society that times change and civilizations evolve but basic human rights, morals, and principles are timeless.

What frightens me most of all for Everett and all his future generational brothers and sisters is that this country is growing more apathetic toward religion and faith. By no coincidence at all, I feel our country’s moral standards have gotten weaker and almost non-existent.

Sure, our society is trying to shape up the conversation into one word: tolerance. And as it pertains to disagreements in opinions, personalities and preferences, tolerance is a wonderful thing. But tolerance doesn’t mean we automatically agree with everyone’s demand to do anything they want all the time.

As it pertains to faith and tolerance, our government seems to be more concerned with protecting one’s right not to practice a religion, but has little interest in protecting one’s right to promote it.

Take religious holidays for example.

Our society has an incessant drive to call Christmas trees “Holiday trees” because we don’t want to offend non-Christians. We also can’t say “Merry Christmas” to people because it’s more “politically correct” to say “Happy Holidays” — we might offend a non-Christian otherwise. Or what about certain schools across the country that give students the Friday before Easter off, but they don’t call it “Good Friday” because that apparently offends non-Christians. Instead, they call it a “day of non-attendance.”

If our First Amendment gives Americans the right not to practice faith, it sure as heck gives us the right to practice it. But if we get scorned and rebuked for openly expressing our faith, that’s not exactly promoting religious liberty and “tolerance”, is it?

Religious liberty is certainly being persecuted in this country and is being devalued and belittled in comparison to other forms of civil liberties.

It’s been said that the next President of the United States could appoint up to four Supreme Court Justices, which means the balance of power in the Court could shift dramatically and change the ideals and principles of this country for the rest of my lifetime, as well as a large chunk of Everett’s and other babies and kids in his generation.

I fear where our country is headed and how dramatically different the country might look. For those of us who are believers in Christ, we may be facing an uphill battle to practice and preach our faith in the face of mounting scorn, ridicule and persecution. (Yes, we live in a more civil world where the persecution we face is nothing like what Christians in the first century faced. But, it’s persecution nonetheless).

In addition to the struggle for religious liberty, I also fear the breakdown of law and order in this country as well as rising societal discord and growing disobedience.

The amount of young Americans who “play by their own rules”, fail to exhibit common courtesy, want something for nothing, lack accountability and responsibility, and who are willing to step over their own neighbor to get their hands on whatever they desire, is growing at an alarming rate.

We as parents have a duty to raise our children to be good, moral, upstanding citizens. To have respect for one another and learn to be selfless beings.

That is going to be a very difficult task for current and future parents, but a challenge I’m willing to rise to nonetheless.

Let’s just see how difficult that figures to be when election results are tallied by the end of the night.

2016 Chicago Cubs World Series title promoted generational unity

The 2016 Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.
The 2016 Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.

Pigs are flying the friendly skies and the devil is doing figure eights on ice skates. The 2016 Chicago Cubs must have won the World Series title.

I’m not a Cubs fan. I feel I should get that out in the open before I dive too far into the deep blue and red ocean of emotion that is currently flooding the streets of Chicago.

I’m also not the world’s biggest Major League Baseball fan. I love the sport, to be sure. I played it for many years growing up and still play men’s softball to this day. But I’m not too fond of the league or its operations.

With that said, as a resident of the Chicagoland area who has countless friends and family who are staunch, loyal supporters of the team, I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in the historical hoopla that surrounded the 2016 Chicago Cubs.

As a “fan” of the National League Central rival Milwaukee Brewers — and I use that word in quotes because “fan” is short for “fanatic”, and it’s difficult to be fanatical about a team you cannot even watch on TV from the comfort of your own home — there was part of me that did not want to see the Cubs win the title.

In fact, of the 108 years since the Cubs last won the World Series, 20-30 of those years I spent enjoying the curses, chokes and failures of a team dubbed the “lovable losers.”

But all things — both good and bad — must come to an end, and the Cubs quashed a century of futility with a stunning 2016 World Series title.

And as history was made, I sat by with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart as the final out was tallied in extra innings in Cleveland.

You see, it’s not the team or its players that I was cheering for and I don’t particularly feel good for them as a fan of a rival team. I also don’t feel a sense of satisfaction for the thousands of Cubs fans who traveled to Cleveland to watch Game 7 — and likely paid a boatload of money they really couldn’t afford to lose that probably would have been better spent elsewhere.

I couldn’t care less for the local celebrities who crawled out of the woodwork to show their faces in front of the cameras in “support” of their hometown team.

I also have little empathy for Millennial Cubs fans because they’re not exactly long-suffering fans. They weren’t around the last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series and certainly weren’t a gleam in their great-grandparents’ eyes in 1908 when the Cubs last won it all.

And the 2003 Steve Bartman incident in which the poor guy’s life was thrown into shambles? … likely perpetrated by angry, drunken Millennials for no good reason other than their pride and egos took a hit.

Generational unity is a wonderful thing

Instead, I am thrilled for elderly Cubs fans, those who might be part of the Greatest Generation, who survived the Great Depression and lived through World War II. I’m happy for the Baby Boomers who know the true definition of a “baseball curse” and not some passed-down folklore used as bait for a “woe is me” attitude. I’m even pleased for the Gen-Xers who might have sat on their fathers’ laps or crowded around the ol’ television set to watch a game as a family.

But most of all, I have thoroughly enjoyed the sense of generational unity that has brought Cubs fans together, both young and old and everyone in between.

Those who know me best are well aware of my affinity for unity. In today’s society, it too often feels like everyone is only out for themselves in this world, where entitlement and lack of ownership has taken the place of responsibility and accountability.

And sadly, unity only seems to show itself following some kind of national tragedy.

So, when something positive and uplifting like the 2016 Chicago Cubs comes rolling around, it brings me great joy to see a content, elderly Cubs fan sitting in the stands next to a zealous, boisterous college student or an innocent, wide-eyed little boy with an oversized ballcap and a glove.

As I scrolled through my Facebook news feed or watched incoming tweets via my Twitter account, the only consistency of what I saw was the inconsistency of the demographics I’ve read from and about.

Heartwarming tributes to grandparents who were lifelong Cubs fans before recently passing away. Emotional cries of joy from fans who lived through Cubs curses. And yes, even random outbursts in ALL CAPS with six exclamation points from “fans” who likely weren’t paying attention as recently as two months ago.

These are the people who make up a community and a family that spans across several generations and brings them all together if only for a brief moment in time.

The 2016 Chicago Cubs are World Series champions. History has been made, truly. But I’ve enjoyed what’s transpired off the field even more than what’s happened on it.

Trump-Clinton Debate No. 3: Expect more of the same in last confrontation

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will meet for the third and final debate in the 2016 election cycle this Wednesday night and I hardly expect anything to be different from their first two clashes.

Television ratings will be high once again, tempers will flare, accusations will be slung, and Americans will go to bed feeling dirtier and less optimistic about the future of this country.

How we got here — to a point where two of the most unfavorable “politicians” imaginable are leading their respective parties into the November election — is a topic for another day. Instead, I’m curious if there is anything either candidate can say or do in tonight’s debate to sway a single voter in either direction.

I’m a little skeptical of the word “undecided” this late into the election season.

After more than a year and a half of serious campaigning, countless primary debates, two national conventions, and two prime time head-to-head debates … who out there is nervously feeling for a quarter in his or her pocket to flip on election day?

For Pete’s sake, just open your eyes and ears and pay attention. Crawl out from underneath the rock you’ve been living, visit these candidates’ campaign websites to learn their positions, and make an educated decision.

I can understand if your dilemma is not so much “who will do the best job?” but instead “who will do the least damage?” I can empathize with the serious moral questions you might have about both candidates. But if you’re waiting for the third presidential debate, or the final two weeks before election day, to help you make your decision, I think you’ll find you’re in for the same confusion then as you have right now.