School and Students:: How to Be and Remain a Good Student

Are you a good student? Do you want to be a good or a better student? Here is an article about how to accomplish that goal… or some good pointers at least.

1. The Phrase “dress for success” Really Does Have Meaning… and here is how it does.

What influences the manner in which you dress, in which you get ready for each day in choosing what to wear? Naturally the seasons of the year have bearing on what you wear; if it is warm you might wear shorts, lighter -colored socks and pants, and light -material and lighter -colored shirts and blouses. If the conditions are cold, you go for thicker socks, heavier pants, and coats, mittens, and thick hats and earmuffs.

What else has to do with what you wear? One factor is what you have that is clean and pressed. If you need to do laundry then do it; if the codes of your school require that your clothes are properly pressed and your shoes polished then do that or have someone teach you how to iron and how to keep your shoes clean and neat. Clothing also must be appropriate for the situations you are going into. Many schools have dress codes and uniforms, and it is suggested that no fuss is made when you encounter those rules. Rules are made for a reason and should be followed. If you are not sure of something, please ask a trusted teacher or other authority figure and listen to them carefully.

If your school does not have a dress code and what to wear is under your discretion, play it safe. If you put something on and you have ANY doubts at all about how you look in it or whether or not the clothes will cause trouble or attract undesirable attention or makes you look funny, then take it off and save it for the weekend or the beach or vacation. Refuse to follow trends if they do not make you feel comfortable; after all you are the one who for hours a day will wear that shirt, those pants or shorts, those shoes and socks and belts and jewels. Opt for simple clothes without a lot of graphics or loud colors that will definitely attract attention and distract you from your studies or will distract others from their studies.

Remember that there are other people around; the school is not just you alone.

2. Be Respectful and Punctual as Possible

Respect is not only a manner of behavior, it is essentially a duty of every citizen one towards the other. To “respect” simply means to look at again. You can certainly respect yourself in a healthy way and thus you are able to respect others as easily as you breathe and walk and eat. In any public setting, respect of others is just essential and vital to remember, simple as that. How do you respect others, or how can you learn the ways to do that?

One way is to wait your turn to speak, especially if those who are talking are older than you. It is just proper to respect your elders, including teachers, professors, and all school personnel, no matter what position they hold. They are your elders and experienced in what they do, and can provide you with direction and knowledge, so listen carefully to what they say.

Never shout down a hallway or on a street corner or in a quiet room or library or other places where people are reading and studying. Shouting and screaming in public is a vulgar habit and is not necessary. If you cannot reach someone right away, you can call them or text them or send electronic mail any time. If you contact someone electronically, remember to use the rules of proper electronic etiquette. There are plenty of resources that teach those habits.

Endeavor to be as on time as possible. Get up earlier for the bus if you have to, so you have time to dress, have breakfast and not rush through it, gather your supplies and head off to school. Do not keep the bus driver waiting, and do not keep the class waiting. Being on time is a life skill that you will always have and need to work on, no matter if you are going to school, going on a vacation, going out to dinner, or meeting someone. Punctuality is a good quality.

3. When You Have a Problem, Ask Questions.

Every once in a while we run into situations we do not understand, something about which we need clarification. At that point we need help… we need to ask questions. We need to gain understanding and problem solving.  This is where teachers and other trusted people enter the picture. These are folks who have the experience you need to get to the root of the problem and find out the answers. If there is a problem with the mathematics homework, ask your parents, or get onto a homework hotline, or ask your professor. Do not be afraid to ask for help; that is what these people are there to help with, solving problems. Be patient and learn the steps that will help in the future when you encounter other odd situations. Problem -solving is a life skill as well; you will need to learn to do this as you go through school, no matter what subjects you study. You will problem -solve in the workplace as well, so learn that skill and polish it every chance you have. Helping others to solve problems or get through concerns is a fine way to polish your own skills and such leadership is desirable. When you teach others you should get a good feeling and want to do more teaching.

4. Branch Out: Grow Out of Your Neighborhood and Into the Global Setting

Many people think that sticking to being in “the neighborhood” is a good thing. It is to a point, that point being that once you have seen everything, know everyone, know the habits and sights and sounds, you are probably ready to go to other places and see new things.

Branching out is a good thing and a vital element of growing up. Being social is just a part of what we do; it is why we are a “society”. You have to have the courage to say, “There are others out there who are different, and I want to get to know them. Sure others say to stick with people who look like me or talk like I do… but no one does that.”

Which is why you must take the lead and talk to others at your school. Is there someone who does not make friends easily? Talk with them. Is there someone who seems alone? Talk with them. Invite them to your lunch table or to sit outside on the school grounds and have a bag lunch out there and just talk about things. You will feel good, someone else will feel better, and both of you might become fast friends for life. Everyone is unique and individual and special, and because of that we must respect everyone.

You are the one who must take the first step away from the streets you find familiar, to reach towards that part of town you have not explored before but have heard about. Go there and look around, ask about what interests you and learn from the people in that area.

And when you have the chance, travel. When I had the chance for international travel I took the opportunity. Because I had the courage, the world was as an open book, but instead of looking at someone else’s photos, the pictures became living and colorful and alive and vibrant. In China there were people doing Tai Chi in the morning. In Japan there were people exercising and walking about and doing business. In Europe people went about their daily lives, playing and working and maintaining the home life. Some were there to take care of the tourists, and thanks to them my times in these areas was made pleasant and comfortable. Travel is essential in the growth process, even if it is just to another part of your city, and favorably if to another part of America and the world.

5. Growing Up, Have Fun!

No matter what you do, be your real self, learn what that means, and have fun exploring what that means. When you are sitting at the desk at home, burning the studying oil after dinner or late into the night to get that term paper ready, you are preparing for a lifetime of work and fun. You are the one who will grow out, make the changes, and learn to help others while helping yourself as well.

Enjoy your life!

Downtown Chicago

Photos taken with a Leica V -LUX -4 “bridge” style camera.

Communication is the Answer

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.



Congress and the TSA: Unsafe at Any Meeting


079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: David Holt London)

All right, good citizens, are YOU as tired and sick of this uncooperative, argumentative, asinine, juvenile, idiotic, nasty, party -divided, racist Congress as I am? Are you tired of hearing about the cuts and the belt -tightening YOU AND I have to do but not, it seems, the Congress and our three branches of “government”? Are you worn out with traveling and hearing about delays at the gate, delays at the security lines, long lines, pushy officials, and delays when in line to take off?

I mean, one hour and twenty minutes sitting on a runway was reported by a lady who heard that over the plane’s PA – yes, that they would be sitting and waiting to take off, for over an HOUR, and that same amount of time is a flight from Chicago to Nashville. She could have been way in the air and on her way if it were not for this silly, dumb, threatening sequestering gibberish our Congress (and I say that with a sour face) is doing to our nation. Who wants to sit around on a runway or an expressway waiting for the obstacles to clear?

This Congress (said with a frown this time) is getting nothing but negative reviews, and should you be surprised considering that they are NOT doing the job we sent them there for? Some idiot is letting the TSA have its way, and why I cannot figure except that they are supporting makers of baseball bats, golf clubs, and knives, which articles are the things the TSA wants to allow back on flights. Well I’m adding my voice to the uproar along with the pilots, the flight attendants, and passengers who want nothing to do with lifting that ban.

How cockamamie and unthinking and stupid can they be? Are they thinking of no one but themselves, or not thinking at all? The latter option seems to be what is going on in those once -hallowed halls in Washington. Not thinking. How inconsiderate of these people we have put our trust in, elected, spent time and money supporting, and written to and called asking them not to do this.

Perhaps the flights attendants and pilots should go on strike. Maybe we passengers should find other ways of travel; granted they won’t be as convenient as flying, but that might teach these people a lesson. Maybe the bus services would perk up and improve their travel ways, and really spiff up to accommodate the seasoned flyer. Maybe the limousine services would take on those people who want a break and want to see the country from the road, and make out really good routes and have conveniences aboard that would satisfy that finicky flyer just as nicely as first -class service is supposed to do. Maybe AMTRAK would be a fine option for people fed up with talks of air traffic controller cuts?

But in all this you must feel for the remaining air traffic controllers. Just remember that in any business situation, when staff is cut, the duties of many fall on the backs of the few who are left to take on all those responsibilities of the company, no matter what the tasks are – bookkeeping, cleaning, paperwork, selling clothes, being cashier, taking calls, sweeping, shipping and receiving, guiding in a hundred flights an hour, securing the gates, anything at all. The stress of an already hard job is falling on those in the towers who are left without furlough days and who must endure the thought that they can do nothing against the iron hand of Congress.

John Pistole, Head Of Transportation and Secur...

John Pistole, Head Of Transportation and Security Administration (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

But they CAN do something! They can go on strike too. I know there are those dedicated to their jobs, and they all should be and no doubt they are because they know how very essential their services are. Congress might not give a hoot, but then the lazy, fat -cat senators are not in those towers every day, with the responsibility for thousands of people in vehicles going 500 miles an hour or more, at various altitudes, in varying weather conditions, in ever -changing security conditions. Congress cannot appreciate the word those controllers are doing every day to keep us safe at all parts of the air travel experience.

I enjoy flying and have done so since the Vietnam War was going on. Back then there was none of this removing the shoes, the excess standing in lines and such. Yes there was security but it was not so complicated. The events of 9/11 changed all of that, and added nothing but hassle, taxes, and fees to our flights. We could walk out to the plane, walk on the hardtop to climb the steps, we could understand everything that was going on. Now stuff is so “secretive”, so hush -hush, and so corporate that we can blame Congress.

Stupid, silly, dumb senators… and we have trusted you with our money, our lives, and our interests.

But be that as it may, be it that those men and women are taking up a lot of energy and time keeping themselves in the halls of the Capitol, we will carry on. We will board our 747’s, our 737’s, our 727’s, our Gulf Streams, our MD-80‘s, and our small private planes that dot the tiny airfields across our great nation. We will carry on the spirit of the adventure and the love of flight; we will see the air shows without the Blue Angels and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, and we will see them without the appearance of the B-52. We will fly, you senators and you officials; WE WILL FLY! I roll my eyes at your ignorance, you senators, right along with the thousands of passengers hearing about the sequestering.

Many of us have endured delays of hours at airports due to bad weather and other factors, so we know how to deal with delays. We can take along something to read, a book of crosswords and a pack of pencils, electronic games, a journal, and our snacks. We can nap, we can bring a camera to take photographs, and we can watch movies on our computers. We will carry on at O’Hare, at Midway, at LAX and at BNA; we will carry on at Logan, we will wait patiently in Pensacola, in Seattle, in Detroit and in New York. We will continue to fly and get to our meetings and our jobs and our families and friends.

We will do our jobs and our tasks.

Meanwhile this to Congress and the other lazy people in our three branches of government: if you cannot do your jobs, clock out and GO HOME. We mean that, get out of your offices, stop taking the privileges and perks, pack up and go back to your constituents and your home states, where you would probably do more good than you are now just sitting about in your luxury offices in your fine clothes and with staff at your beck and call, wasting light and heat and water. Just pack up and go home, turn off the Capitol and come back when you feel like you are capable of doing the work we sent you to do.

Divi Logan, Chicago, ©2013.

Chicago Corruption Deepens Distrust


On News Radio 780 WBBM this morning came the article reporting that the red -light camera company, Red Flex, which has had the contract for Chicago’s red -light cameras for years now, is now in a bribery scheme worth millions of dollars… to somebody.

Not to the Chicago taxpayer, obviously, who time after time is getting the stiff short end of the stick we are constantly hit with by our elected or appointed officials. Our City Council is probably as trustworthy as our U.S. Congress, which, is in a simple phrase, NOT AT ALL. Congress has a very low, almost negative approval rating, and our City Countil seems headed that way. Apparently former Mayor Daley was warned about the policies of Red Flex but went ahead with the contract. Alderman Burke wrote letters and all regarding that deal but that did no good. Corruption station, corruption country anybody?

We have had to put up with all these deals someone in the mayor’s radar thought was so great, and we are feeling the effects right now of the parking meter deal. Mayor Daley thought getting that billion dollars was fine but now we are paying for it every time something happens where LAZ and anyone affiliated with them does not get proper payment for unused spaces and their reasons are about as lame as the “dog ate my homework” excuse. They claim pay is needed when spaces are closed off for festivals, but doesn’t the city have a plan for such things in place? What else are we paying for regarding this parking meter deal?

And what else are those council people doing to perk themselves up and waste our money? They are getting those expensive automobiles to tool around in, they are getting drivers, they are arrogant and foolish when handling campaign funds and they are getting booted out of office for such poor judgment. How many of them are dealing the demographic card and thus impeding real progress in their communities?

What needs to be done? Do we get rid of the demographic dribbling chatter, do we stop giving power to the Census people and the cable news talking heads who are driving that demographic trash into our minds and trying to make people vulnerable and worried and upset and competitive? Time to dump the demographers, what say? And along with putting the race -color -creed -economics -gender -ethnicity junk to rest permanently, get rid of these idiotic “neighborhood” divisions.

Neighborhood is a real boor, can you dig that? Where does one start or stop? What determines what makes a neighborhood… what the buildings look like, who lives where, what someone thinks those people want or enjoy or do? SO WHAT? Someone lives someplace, and they have responsibilities to everyone else around them, no matter who those other people are. You have the duty to keep your home and yard neat, clean, free of odors and trash, and your pets properly cared for and secured. You have the duty to watch out for and respect others in your area, to keep up with what is going on so you can be alert to problems of any kind and report them to the right people.

Updated article coming soon. Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Chicago, ©2013

Media and Advertising: Most Annoying Ads and Expressions of 2012


Mass media

Mass media (Photo credit: ZaCky ॐ)

If you are as I am, you are no doubt tired of hearing certain things or seeing certain ads over the mass media (especially some radio stations where ads tend to be repeated over and over and constantly, ad nauseam, until you are sick of hearing the music, the hype selling tactics, and the politics. One category of ads that I have found most annoying are ads for automobile dealerships. Chicago area dealerships have background music that, especially around the “holidays”, can be very annoying and trite indeed. You can hear takes -off of Jingle Bells and “sleigh rides” and Nutcracker Suite, and jangling bells and blaring trumpets with a drum background only so many times before you want to turn off the media and go to read a good book. One company played “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” as their background music, and some stations played their ads two or three times in a row, until I thought that any time now, the movie “2001 A Space Odyssey” would begin shining forth from my radio speakers. And then the car ads, at the end of the ads where the disclaimers and the terms and conditions are put on, drown out the words and the fast speakers with music just loud enough that you cannot even hear all that is said. Plainly the companies do not want you to hear everything but just to believe that the deals are good and you will be drawn into the dealership to see if the data that you could hear is accurate. And ask any questions you might have regarding that “deal”.

One of the worst is the phone -in, message receiver -style ad Toyota is putting in for this so -called Toyotathon sales pitch. It just speaks to the lack of person -to -person customer service that is disappearing from the reatil and commercial areana as social media takes over with impersonal style and lack of actual contact. Wireless and answering machines don’t do it all, folks. And besides that, the voice over the message machine hints that there are three selections of car the customer can make but then after the button press there is only one that is mentioned, the Camry. Fine car and all, so the commercial goes, but what about the other models? Mention something in an ad, then talk about it, or don’t mention it at all. That is a mark of poor writing and advertising when a subject is spoken of but not talked about afterwards. Or if Toyota intends to talk about other car models, then have other commercials related to them, but not in that awful message machine format. Talk to the potential customers as though you are interacting with them and desire them to be in your dealership looking at the cars, finding them appealing, wanting a test drive, etc. Don’t over do the “social media” -style aspect that is taking over the commericial and financial worlds with their rob0-calls, the telemarketers with their dead air and automated gibberish. Be polite, be reasonable, be simple and to the point, not wordy and full of elaboration.

How annoying!

Another category of ads that are really a bug in the brain are anything related to hospitals and any ad with the word “cancer” in it. I mean, goodness gracious, “cancer this” and “cancer that”, and we have treatments for cancer, and the hospitals deal with advanced cancer treatments. Not to mention the talk about insurance companies, premiums, insurance providers, doctors not taking or then again taking some insurances, Medicare and Medicaid, this and that with Blue Cross and Health Spring… geez whiz already.  Seems that if someone is that interested in or needs to discuss the idea of cancer treatment they will have the appropriate talks with their health care providers; it is not an issue that needs to be blared out over the airwaves every day and every hour. And they yakety, yakety yakety yak over and over again for thirty seconds or more rehashing the same points, talking up the facilities, the nursing status, the pharmacies… This university’s “medicine”, that college’s “medicine”, this hospital, that medical center… OK folks, we get the point. We hear you, we see you, we hear about the millions of $$$$ the philanthropists and drug companies are investing in you.

It seems the ads for CDH Proton Center a Procure Center are among the most loquacious on the radio. How many times do companies such as these have to insert some phrase like “a Procure Center” for someone to get it? Are the producers of a mind that people listening are dunces or dummies or have to get words drilled into them to make a point? What point do the advertisers want to make – that we can get turned on to a concept or just as easily get turned off by meaningless repetition and trite, vague phrases?

We get it!

I suspect that if someone is really interested in it they will look it up or call the people concerned who deal with these issues.

Car dealership

Car dealership (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some local Chicago TV stations seem to play nothing but health ads; MeTV and Antenna TV for instance must think that their viewing audience during the hours encompassing late morning to late evening is made up of stay -at -home invalids, the sick or the old or the infirm. They run ads for cancer treatment centers, for insurance companies, for class action and law firms related to health products, for step -in tubs.If caregivers can find these useful then that is fine, but please, there are other people in other demographic markets who watch those classic television shows too, during those hours. We do not always find hearing ads for cancer, for surgical mesh, for insurance companies or for hospitals appropriate during meal hours. I find that the only word to describe some ad marketers is “inconsiderate”.And then there are the ads from GEICO, among the most annoying and in some cases useless features heard on News Radio 780 WBBM. The “Today In Time” feature is nothing but a bunch of yakety -yak that takes up a minute and says nothing worth hearing -only an ad for GEICO, really. If you want history badly enough you can research something. As for that “Maxwell the Pig” bit, nothing doing there, and the “bouncer” ad with the gecko, making insurance sound so exclusive and special, when it is among the most discussed and talked -about and hyperactive issues in the nation these days. also has some rather blase’ ads too, with that outdated phone-in style of commercia. The problem is that the speaker does not go right to something that deals with office supplies or business -related events. They go off on totally unrelated introductions that have the answering party on the spot to promote a product or service that will get the caller onto the correct subject. This takes extra time and is wasteful time, too. Then after the brief talk about what Quill could do for the caller the caller hangs up and you get this abrupt hangup tone, rather crude and not polite at all. Quill would do better following a more direct route to promoting its products and services in a timely fashion in order not to waste money or energy. Stick to the subject.


Foreclosure ads also take part of the Annyoing Ad Awards this year, and one that WBBM has been running is so “made up” and not very well done, for a company that assists the more successful people who are experiencing debt and owing more than their home is worth. They want it apparently to sounds as though the folks are of a higher class, with the accents and the monetary figures to go with the idea, but then the people who are going through these situations have plenty of private advisors and bankers to help them with the problems. Poorly constructed ads most likely will turn off business than inspire someone to shop at a company. A lot of these ads and also ads for banks and lending institutions have been popping up of late, and thus the warranting of getting out the caution flag!

Ads for BMO Harris Bank are getting into the “annoying” category too, with their latest string of grammar – based spots. Some little beep then a selling tongue using verb or adjective followed by a Thesaurus of words meant to generate interest in the services offered by the bank. Just remmeber, BMO, that the word “phew” can mean more than just a breath of relief; it can also be something said when a person senses something unsavory to the nasal passages, a stink in other words, that causes more of a negative reaction than a positive one. “Phew” might be some citizens’ reaction to the banks these days anyway, what with their suspicious dealings regarding the foreclosure crisis, the robo-signing, the hidden life they lead with the “Fed” and the officials who can’t seem to boost the economy but instead are so negative when they come on the mass airwaves to speak that many might begin to lost trust in them, the same loss of trust now experienced for Congress and many elected officials at the state and local levels.

How negative do we want to get? How low do we want to go in the realm of mass media and advertising and the heights of “trite-ness”?

On to the annoying expressions of 2012 and the past few years! How tired are you of hearing “social media”, “just sayin'”, “OMG”, “omigod”, know what I’m sayin’, whatever, and “like”? Like, ya know, I’m dashed awful tired of hearing these trite little phrases spiked into sentences every few words or so. Too many times of saying “You know”- how many times do the sports folks say that during interviews? Must be dozens. And it is worse when someone combines the little silly phrases, as in, “Like, you know, whatever… just saying.” Add another: baby bump. Who needs to hear constantly about “celebrities” already? Millions of women the world over go through that process of gestation and birth every year, so “bump” that useless phrase right into File 13.  And please, learn how to write properly (yes, manuscript and cursive) and learn to write an actual letter, before you learn to text, and please, learn to type, on a regular typewriter. I did, and I’m doing just fine, thanks. Didn’t have to learn to read and write and type on some tiny little glowing screen.

And “its’s on the web”, or “it’s on TV” – so what? Think it’s so excellent and grand, and great and wonderful just because it’s displayed on a venue of electronic media? Be careful of what you get on “the web”. Be careful of thinking it’s so good and right just because you “saw it on TV’. TV and the Web are only means of displaying and sharing information and images; radio can share information; books share information and images. But not everything someone says or does makes it “right” or valid or good or worthy.

And possibly the most overworked phrase of the past few months, fiscal cliff. Well if the nation goes over it, Congress does too, Republicans and Democrats and Independents alike, and they will take working families, school kids in need of their lunches, education programs, unemployment insurance, and tax hikes right over the cliff with them. Is it any wonder the approval rating of Congress is what, 11%? If we could rate them in the negative, I would put a rating of -.0000000000111111 on every member of that stubborn Congress of ours. They are out of touch, they do not listen to the people, they do not understand what these extreme tax hikes and spending cuts are going to do. There they sit, bickering, posturing, stubborn and hard -headed, cynical, hard -hearted, indecent, arrogant, full of pride and vice and malice. There they sit, politicians to the core, and they practice their deceptive arts very well indeed.

Take your “unsocial media”, your fiscal cliff, and your like whatevers and throw them out of your vocabulary. Learn how to be social, polite, and work together as a team for the completion of a successful plan and for a stronger nation. After all, we didn’t make it this far by sitting so close together but not talking to each other. We came this far as a nation by being team players, by working together, by standing side to side and face to face and using our combined strengths and intellects and wills and backbones. Let us keep it that way.

Original logo of Antenna TV, used until August...

Original logo of Antenna TV, used until August 29, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And as for the happenings in the Chicago Bears organization, look for a coach and a coaching staff that will provide your team, your front office, and everyone concerned, right to the fans and those who sit at home watching your team on television and listening to you on the radio every season, with a teamwork -oriented person who comes in every day, who shows up ready to take on each game as though it is the Super Bowl. Bring in someone with diplomacy, tact, and that right amount of firmness and the ability to draw a room together and get everyone working for that goal of a winning season.Other than that, AAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK! YIPE! What is happening to our grammar, our abilities to write and communicate and socialize face to face? What is the deal?

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2013.

Gadgets and Guns: Reduce the Need, Cut off the Feed!

IMPORTANT: To Our Readers: Please see permission for use information at the end of this article BEFORE linking it or copying it in any fashion to any web page, site, or linking list!

This article and the ideas contained herein are the original Intellectual Property of Lorri Wunder of Lombard, IL and Divi Logan of Chicago, IL.

Submitted in part for Chicago Ideas Week, coming up the first week of October!



(Part of a working book titled YCY: A Primer on Personal Responsibility.)


Two dead and six wounded in gun violence in the Chicago area between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon………….

And here we have the latest version of the “I-want” device, made for someone who wants a bigger this and a faster that…………..

The candidates raked in fifty million dollars for their campaigns this past month, taking contributions from big business………….

And then the media spin becomes a run-on sentence:

wewillbeallover thestoryasdetailsemergegangviolenceleaveschildrenscared
togotoschoolorplayintheparkpoliticalcampaign spending chit-chat
spin…blitz…vague corporate big talk……

PHEW! Does that leave a bad taste in your mouth and a feeling of your brain being filled with trash and noise pollution? It might, because that is all we are hearing now. Tired of the “if it bleeds it leads”? Sick of the concentration on “foreign affairs” and “party politics”, “the latest version of the smart technology” and “gang/gun violence” taking the headlines around here? And then, are you tired of walking in your community and seeing shuttered storefronts, vacant and unkept lots, un-shoveled sidewalks, kids too frightened to go across the street to the local park for a game? Tired of there not being jobs for your local town or community? What can you do and how can you do it?

For now though, as Chicago Ideas Week nears, our focus will be on gadgets and guns and drugs, why we (seem to or want to) need these things, what we do with them, and how the use of or distribution of these items affect others.

Our premise is built on the abdication of personal responsibility, the behavioral pattern that arises when someone makes a decision, no matter how large or seemingly insignificant, that affects someone else in a harmful, crucial, or abusive manner. It is the neglect of our duties toward each other that later contributes to delinquency, to drug use, to suicide, to the abuse of a child or spouse or co-worker; the neglect that leads to cutting corners in the workplace, to fouling up criminal investigations, to wasting tax dollars and to so many other problems plaguing American society this very day.

Thus is the inspiration for the subtitle of our article: reduce the need, cut off the feed. You can look at this from a literally quintessential point of view that takes in the who, what, where, when, and why of a situation. It is critical that we step back and think about our actions before plunging headlong into our instant-we-want-it-now social herd instinct the moment someone says we need to have or do this or that, before we run out and get “the latest thing”, the device with the “bigger screen” or the “faster network”, before we decide to go to that street corner and put our money down on a bag of harmful drugs.

You are taking a big risk; you could harm yourself and your family. You could get so rapidly involved in something that you will regret later on (or not too much later on if that meeting on the street corner turns out to be a trap and someone is waiting with a gun to kill you or anyone with you), that you will have little or no time to react and get out-of-the-way of destruction. You could end up the target of an undercover procedure that will land you in prison for life, or you could end up the target of a foreign drug cartel that wants you out-of-the-way quickly and will spend a great deal of time and money to ensure the job is carried out.

So why do we feel the need for the gadgets, the guns, the drugs, and joining gangs? What do we want from that? Do we want to escape some aspect of school, home, or work, that we can’t seem to cope with simply by asking someone else for help? Do we want to take our feelings out (those same feelings that possibly could be smoothed out simply by finding someone you trust and saying, “I need help with this, it’s been bothering me….”

Do we want to fit in or stand out (or do both at the same time?) by thinking that having the most recent I-something is going to make a difference?

If we didn’t ask for it or feel the need for it, there would be no need for the airwaves to be full of ads for the escapism devices that are so fast and so clear all ready, and the slight revisions to them that make you want to pay more for that bigger screen, the extra apps, the risk of your every move and communication and purchase being tracked. Nothing but trouble waiting in the wings there! Isn’t that device fast enough for you all ready, and the screen large enough to fill a city bus seat and the millions of apps plenty for making just about any choice you want during the day?

Also, what is the reason the mass media lead with those stories? What is their purpose for filling your home with pictures and sound bytes of violence, rage, harm, reality shows, police shows, court shows, people fighting and shooting all over the place? They show that stuff happening here, within our borders, and from other nations too. We have seen enough, we have had enough of leading with the bad news and the cruddy news and the violence, the pictures and the videos. If we quit watching the news and tuning in to every little news network and segment that comes on, if we shove the ratings into the proper receptacle and send them on their way to the bottom of the box, we will do ourselves a favor.

Turn off the TV, shut down the cable news networks with their loud and interrupting talking heads, and turn on a desk light or a library light instead.

You have responsibility for others yes, but for yourself and your own actions first. Forget the blame game; you take account of and for your own actions and considerations before you go off the mark and blame someone else for something you say, think, or do. Stop with the “he made me do it” or “she made me do it”. Some circumstances might “force” someone to take a harmful course of action (to lie, cheat, steal, engage in an improper physical act in the hope of saving a life); but for the most part you DO have choices. You do not have to force someone to take such a terrible course of action in the first place; you do not have to pick up the weapon or the drugs or ball your fists in a threatening maneuver or shout some abusive word.

Just make it easier in the first place and do not bother with the harmful action. What will it benefit you to harm another person? What did they do to you that cannot be resolved simply by sitting down (with a mediator if necessary) and talking it out in a civil manner?

How will you be better off by injuring someone else, taking a life, selling drugs, sneaking drugs into a treatment facility thinking that you are helping someone get over an addiction?

Now is NOT the time for you to be selfish. Do not engage in the abdication of personal responsibility; you are neglecting your own set of better motivations, ethics and principles by doing so. You are going against the grain of being considerate, helpful, beneficial for society and for others. You are neglecting your duties toward nation, state, and community, toward family and colleagues, toward someone whose life might hinge on a decision you make – be it cutting corners on a test, forgetting a safety check at the store, corrupting evidence, or acting out of self-interest and taking money meant for a charitable community project.

What if you cut off someone in traffic, or stop to gape at a serious crash? What happens if that drug deal goes bad and you end up as a target of another gang member? What if someone who looks like you is targeted instead, and an innocent person dies because they resembled you? Would you want on your conscience the fact that an innocent person suffers or dies because of something you did?

And that means did from start to finish: you made the deal, you agreed to distribute the drugs, you went to get them, you staked out that street corner. You were not there on time and the goods were not the quality the buyers expected, and you are made a target of the dissatisfied people. You are then made the subject of the police looking for you, and you make a mistake of going out one day for shopping or just out and about the neighborhood, and those same angry people are waiting in a car for you to show up. But what if it isn’t you? What if it is someone who dresses in a similar manner or looks rather like you in the shadows or on a cloudy day or thinks you are the person who killed one of their family members in retaliation for something you did during the bad deal? The people in that car or on the rooftop will shoot at “you” and think the deed is done. Then on the news will come the whole sordid business and the “lead story” will be “…innocent teen shot and killed in an area plagued by gangs and drugs in the erupting turf war between the P’s and the Q’s…. Police believe it is a case of mistaken identity and are still looking for the person who murdered “x” and set up this terrible tragedy….”

We have not concentrated very well on taking care of our own, right here in this country’s borders; we have invested our tax dollars very poorly and many people have lost a sense of pride, patriotism, national interest and helping those in need in their own communities. We think, “What difference will it make” What difference can my little work on cleaning up a street corner or planting a garden make for me or my family or my school?” You DO have duties; you DO have responsibilities. You have response – ability, too.

You have the freedom to speak or not to speak, to pick up that rake and get to work or to sit by and watch the lot accumulate more trash, maybe even drug paraphernalia like bags and needles. You can watch the kids get in harm’s way when passing that lot, taking risks that their curiosity could lead to injury or even death. You can respond to the call to contribute to the building of a community center, or you can keep on being greedy and hoard your money to spend on a luxury dinner while others are starving. Well after all, it is your money and your appetite to do with as you please. But are you abdicating your responsibilities to your fellow citizens in the name of satisfying your personal demons of arrogance, visibility, gluttony, pride or greed?

Reduce the need, cut off the feed… applies to more than just realizing that you do have better choices and turning off the media feeds from the noisy reporters and video people.

Now you have the freedoms of speech and the press and to do things in private that you want to do; you can decorate your home, paint it, have whatever car you want and dress in many interesting ways to make a statement. You can play your music, hang your posters, have what you want on your desk and in your kitchen. Your home is yours, your property belongs to you and should not be violated. But outside of your own brain and your own private property, your duties are then public and observed and known. You must take charge of your actions and words and thoughts when around others; you must consider them before you leave your personal space and enter the realm of others.

Taking up the gun – what good will that do you? Going to push the drugs – what good will that do you? Raising your hand to your child – what good will that do you? How will these actions affect others? What will that co-worker do but report you? What will that neighborhood watch volunteer do but report you? What will the police do other than come and arrest you and search your once-private property and take you “downtown” and write-up a record? What else will your child do but remember that deed (if they survive your attack) and come after you later on with violence and vengeance simmering and waiting to explode on you alone in a deadly manner? And then what – your child will end up in prison (perhaps like you were once) and will have a life sentence and misery from then on.

No matter the child’s age, he or she will be in trouble with the law. Can they pull a trigger and be angry and take out revenge, then they can be arrested, charged, and put in the slammer. No second chance; zero tolerance for murder and violent crimes. The record will be there for life and will affect everything they try to do, from going to school to getting a job. Life will for them be a proverbial obstacle course… and you will be the cause of all of that because you hit them, shouted at them, or neglected them. Are they bad? Then it’s YOUR fault!

As for the hyperactivity in the gadget world, the same principles apply. Spend too much time on the little smart device and what happens to the rest of your day, your social contacts, your education, your family life, your workplace principles? Trolling around looking for more of those smart code boxes and scanning labels could take up so much of your time that you might be late for a very important meeting, you might be tempted to cut corners at work in order to go out searching for the better deal or the comparison shopping network. The electronic mass market run-on sentence could be trouble for anyone caught in its web and tempted by every little app and offering that comes along. It is full of temptations and deceptions waiting to catch those who are distracted, disturbed, worried, or tired, and to draw them in to “try this app” or “look for the better version of…”

Boils down to this: abdicating personal responsibility leads to a lot of trouble. Thinking about your actions first is the way to solve many problems our nation is facing.

Will you be part of the problem, or of the solution? Think about it.


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