Month: March 2016

War on Terror only way to fight against terrorism

War on Terror only way to fight against terrorism
The War on Terror is the only way to fight against terrorism and those who seek to do us harm.

I am a peaceful man by nature and hardly possess a vengeful bone in my body … just make sure you follow the rules of the road, or else!

I believe violence is never an answer to any of our problems with the exception of self-defense.

But one issue that leaves me longing for retribution and resolution is the ongoing threat of terrorism.

In most cases, words are the best method for resolving problems. All other means of conflict resolution are usually escalators that push dilemmas past a threshold, sometimes beyond the point of return. Heck, even words themselves can heighten tensions more than they bring about peace.

But when it comes to fighting terrorism, words are like blowing bubbles at battleships.

How do you use diplomacy with terrorists who care not to negotiate?

How do you speak reason into the minds of terrorists who have far different ideologies and systems of morals than you do?

Terrorists, by both definition and intention, are hellbent on destroying the fabric of our democratic societies and attempting to disrupt the peace and civility upon which our nations are built.

They’re bullies, in layman’s terms. And sometimes bullies need a pop in the nose.

Defeating terrorism and defending our nation’s interests both at home and abroad is the biggest challenge we Americans face today. And when I hear about ISIS beheading Christians at a regular interval, then claiming responsibility for brutal terror attacks — such as the one in Brussels this Tuesday — there’s only one way to respond to those who clearly lack the morals that most peace-loving people do:

Stand up and pop them in the nose.

I’m usually not an advocate for sending our troops into war. For starters, I wouldn’t want to send others into harm’s way when I’m unwilling to do the same thing myself. Secondly, the emotional toll forced upon a deceased soldier’s family is a terrible burden to carry. Not to mention, even those who survive battle could develop long-term mental, emotional and physical ailments.

But our brave soldiers know what they’re getting themselves into. They know that death is a possibility and that serving in the military is not just a scholarship program.

Fighting terrorism is one area where I fully support the use of force. I think it would be in our nation’s best interest — and in the best interest of all democratic nations around the world — to rise up and fight extremism.

For if we don’t fight back now, we are enabling and encouraging the continuation of such practices, and leaving ourselves in danger of losing the freedom and peace we fought many years to obtain.

First time voter: Every vote counts, not always

First time voter: Every vote counts, not always
First time voter: Every vote counts, not always

“I’m not going to vote, because my vote doesn’t count.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this declaration before. You might have even uttered that phrase a time or two in the past.

I still maintain that in parts of the country — like states that are heavily Republican or Democratic — this holds true.

For the longest time, I used this as an excuse not to vote. I live in Illinois, after all, which turns a deep, solid shade of blue every four years for the general election. The last time Illinois was won by a Republican Presidential candidate was in 1988 when George H. W. Bush picked it up.

Sure, there are local and state elections that are more up for grabs, but I have never known enough about the candidates and their platforms to give anybody my vote.

Some people tried to convince me to vote anyway, calling it my civic duty or telling me people fought and died for that right. To which my response was: “While I appreciate the sacrifice made by many, and while I’m grateful for all the freedoms given to us by the constitution, I also feel that I have as much freedom and right not to vote as I have to exercise a vote.”

Freedom is a two-way street, after all. Freedom not only gives you the right to do things, but it also gives you the right not to do things.

With that said, I had gone 13 years of my adult life without exercising my “civic duty,” until this year. On Tuesday, March 15, I cast my first ever vote in Illinois’ primary.

My reason for voting had as much to do with denying one candidate a victory as it had to do with voting for another. While my vote ultimately was unsuccessful, I have no regrets about breaking the 13-year abstention.

Now that I’ve finally taken the plunge, I imagine I’ll be voting more often in the years ahead. Not out of some sense of obligation or duty, but if and only if I see an opportunity to make a difference.

And that’s a freedom I’m happy to exercise.

Best pies in honor of Pi Day

Best pies on Pi Day - Apple Pie
Best pies on Pi Day – Apple Pie

Math was always one of my best subjects in school. It just came naturally to me because I have an analytical mind that seeks reason and meaning.

While other subjects like science, language, art, and geography are flexible to change, there is something to be said about the definitiveness of math. Something comforting in knowing that math has a resolution to it and is not going to change.

Science is always evolving and amending itself. Language will change with the times and cultures. Art is a random hodgepodge of creativity and interpretation. And geography updates itself as societies dictate.

But with math, one plus one will always equal two.

With that said, I have never understood what pi is and how to apply it to my life. It has something to do with the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, but what kind of fun is that?

So, as the world celebrates National Pi Day on March 14 — or, 3.14, the first digits of pi — I’m going to celebrate Pie Day — which was actually January 23, but it’s worth repeating.

Here’s a list of my favorite pies — which I can no longer eat unless there is a gluten-free alternative.

  1. Key Lime
    I was tempted to leave this one off the list because I’m not currently craving it, but it’s very tasty when I’m in the mood for it.
  2. Banana Cream
    I’m hit or miss with this pie just as I am with bananas in general, but when I do feel the craving for it, this is a delicious choice.
  3. Lemon Meringue
    I’m not a huge fan of lemon-flavored things, but this pie has just the right amount of it.
  4. Vanilla Caramel
    Perfect for when you want something tasty yet not over the top.
  5. Turtle
    Some people prefer simplistic desserts without too many ingredients — but I love desserts with lots of flavors and “stuff” in them!
  6. Pecan
    I’m a big fan of pecans and I also like them in my ice cream as well as my pie.
  7. Chocolate Creme / German Chocolate / Chocolate Silk
    I couldn’t figure out which chocolate pie I liked best, so I threw them all together.
  8. Cherry
    I typically don’t like cherry-flavored things because it gives me flashbacks to when I was sick as a child and had cherry cough syrup. But this pie is the exception to the rule.
  9. Boston Cream
    I love custard-filled desserts, and this also finds its way onto my favorite donut list.
  10. Oreo
    One of the best-flavored cookies of all time made into pie format!
  11. Pumpkin
    I love all pumpkin-flavored treats, and what’s best about this is that it is seasonal, thus it becomes better for its timeliness.
  12. Apple
    You’re not American if you don’t like apple pie. In fact, the old saying, “as American as apple pie”, spells out its greatness.