Veterans Need the Best We Can Offer: Chicago HAVE For All Military Personnel

Chicago Needs to HAVE Veterans In Our Hearts All the Time

There are many men and women who have served our nation in uniforms of the military branches of our great United States. They have enlisted and signed the papers, put on the faces and marched through the mud. They have seen international tours of duty and they have seen service right here at home.

Speak Up, America! Watch US Work.

Remembering America’s veterans.

Home… a word that does not ring with many of those proud people, since they do not have a home to go to. Yes, there are homeless veterans… HOMELESS… the very people who have given so much, who have sacrificed and labored and been through obstacle after obstacle, to protect the homes we go to every day, do not have a home of their own to step into.

That is disgraceful.

Yes the Veteran’s Administration (VA) system is seeing its share of dishonorable behavior and wasteful disgraces, but to think that a veteran or any military member is homeless is a major stain on our nation and a pustule on our society. These are people with medical problems due to their tours of duty, and that to which they have been exposed, such as gunfire, diseases, shelling, shell shock, PTSD, and loss of limbs. They have been sick for us, been maimed for us, and been tossed aside by us.

Something has to change, and such changes cannot wait for politics or elections. Those in office, those who command and lead and order around those veterans must step up, just like those folks did in lines of rank or to police an area of their base. They wanted things to look better, they wanted freedom, they wanted health and well being, and they were willing to sign on and give their lives and legs and hands and arms for those privileges.

Do we arrogantly stand by and wait for a new mayor or new senators or a new president to be elected before we bother to look at the endurances these proud people have made for the rest of our nation and around the world? They cannot wait for the influential, the rich, the government that hired and ordered them about, to step up.

Every veteran and their families should have a home and work that is fitting to their talents and needs. Every man and woman should have a house they can call their own, a space that suits them. If the vet has lost a limb, build them a home that will accommodate their special needs. If they are sick, give them the best care a reformed VA system can provide.

HAVE is an idea I thought of while listening to excerpts of Mayor Emanuel’s inauguration speech recently, and the acronym means Home All Veterans Everywhere.

After all, we have homes; we have spaces all our own we can go to after work and play and worship and trips to the grocery and the mechanic, so why don’t these veterans have a home?

It is going to take a lot more than dropping a buck or two in the shaking cup of a homeless vet crouched at the side of a street under a light post, or holding a sign as he strains to sit up in his wheelchair; it is going to take elbow grease action, grassroots efforts, caring and tender and loving people who deeply understand that these are their fellow citizens and neighbors.

Treat them with respect. They deserve it.

America's flag flies proudly.America's flag flies proudly.

Bless our veterans, love our veterans, take care of our veterans, home our veterans.

Divi Logan. Chicago, on this Memorial Day 2015.

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Chicago Begins a New Year: Is it Time for Meditation rather than Mediation… or Both?

Good and Happy New Year greetings to everyone in America’s third largest city!

Hello to all who are right now at home watching football, eating dinner, getting ready for work, or sitting at their computers doing work.

Everyone, it is 2015, and it is time to begin thinking and acting differently – those resolutions we make should mean more than that on which they are written hastily. A resolution is a plan, something you make up your mind to do and for a reason.

You are obese so you resolve to exercise and lose weight. You did not finish high school so you resolve to get your education equivalent and then maybe get a job. Perhaps you just turned sixteen and want to learn to drive, so you make up your mind to enroll in drivers’ education.

Maybe we can all add something important to our list of plans, the art of meditation. Now it is known that meditation is useful for calming our minds and bodies, reducing stress and sickness and bringing inner peace. It is an extension of the space we need to think, but we do not need to go into our rooms and light a candle or incense to practice meditation.

We can meditate – think on our actions – quickly and effectively, but we need to have calm minds in order to do that. We must stop thinking and acting harshly and rashly towards others – that must be an immediate resolution, for everyone deserves respect. We can think before we act, an essential element of getting along in society.

It is time to take the fine art of personal responsibility seriously, no doubt about it. We must learn to stand back, to consider everything carefully and closely and then act. It is simply the will to or the will not to do something or say something.

We in Chicago have grand and brilliant ideas, we have plans and resolutions, hopes and dreams and at every level in every social strata and on every scale.

Let us work well together, let us show love and compassion, and let us be the best we can be every day.

How will you make a difference in 2015?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

PRO SPORTS PARTING WAYS WITH ORDINARY PEOPLE?

PRO SPORTS SETS BAD EXAMPLE FOR NON-ATHLETES AND THE VULNERABLE

The problems facing New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez (AKA A-Rod) are only the tip of the iceberg. And that tip is poisoned with human growth hormones and other “performance enhancing drugs” or PEDs. Pity the person who has to resort to such means in order to boost their playing abilities and thus their salary and their notoriety. Unfortunately the attention A-Rod has received has not been the best or positive.

Other professional athletes have resorted to the use of PEDs, but one must ask why such means are necessary. Is standard physical exertion and practice not good enough to meet the needs and requirements of the teams on which these folks want to go? Why would a better diet, or another sort of workout program, be more useful? Why the need for these hazardous drugs and the methods of introducing them into the body?

It might be safe to say that many athletes at all levels could do with a better diet, less stress and more practice and perhaps a change in how they exercise. No doubt the issues revolve around pride and arrogance, greed and the shows- ancient as they are- of might and right.

Might and right… the strong having to show off, puff up, be “celebrities”, and show others the best and yet the worst that people can do and think. The best that can come out of being athletic is, ideally, a healthy lifestyle, free of drugs, balanced with proper exercise and a diet fit for the activities we do. People talk about “healthy living” all the time- eating less junk or processed foods, getting regular and wholesome sleep, getting regular and suitable exercise, and being careful when we do exercise so that we do not encounter burnout or injury.

There is that ancient and marvelous vision of the male and female athletic figure, going way back to early figures of human sculpture, with muscles toned and strong, with that ability to run marathons, lift weights, wrestle, tangle with fierce animals, and engage in gladiatorial events to determine who wins and loses surrounded by weapons and shields and dirt kicking up every which way. There is that ideal of the human being, burnished and buffed and bulging like the weightlifters at the Olympic Games, the long jumpers and the high jumpers, the shot putters, the javelin hurlers and the curlers, in their uniforms and colors with numbers and names. This is the ideal carried on into the present day, and we can see the results of performance instantly now versus centuries ago when events were held locally or when it took weeks to travel and hold events in other towns and countries.

Now we have the, uh, privilege of seeing hundreds of hours of professional and other levels of sports every day, every year. We are bombarded with such options across our mass media screens and devices and can see anything we want- football (Canadian, American, and Australian Rules), baseball, hockey, gymnastics, swimming, curling, the Olympics, horse racing, soccer, sailing, tennis, automobile racing (NASCAR, IRL, Formula One), motorcycle racing, monster truck events, demolition derbies, rugby, and others. We see people with whom we identify, struggling on those fields with others competing against them for that coveted trophy, the cash award, the glory of basking in the light of the cameras and that chance to say, “I WON!” It is the athletic version of the turf war- someone wants to take over that ground, claim it with any means necessary, and dance around in the camera lights gleaning every iota of attention that they can.

The corporate people just live it up and love every moment of it… unless their superstar goes wrong in doing drugs or abusing a spouse or getting hurt midway through the big contract with that celeb. Then what happens to the millions upon millions of dollars invested in that major marketing explosion to tout a new pair of shoes, the “official athletic gear” for that team, and the naming rights to stadiums and arenas? If that superstar player steps even that much out of line, it hits the news and the whole venture suffers. The product is not bought, the stock might go down in value, the player of course suffers both the injuries to the body and to their reputation with fans and with the front office, and the fans… well they are the ones hurt most.

We now can know about such mistakes as those made by A-Rod almost as soon as the legalese hits the mass media fan and the outlets get hold of “aha, another star has done something wrong and we can jump all over him/her”. Do YOU want YOUR kids having people like him as an example? I don’t want to have him even mentioned around me and I hope my niece and nephew do not go the way of him or others like him in order to gain some measly sense of attention and performance. I hope that if or when they have families that they keep their kids well clear of such bad examples.

Now we have the choice of whether or not to buy that season ticket, the hundred dollar seat, and the dozens of dollars in concessions. We must think about why we are watching professional sports when those players are getting contracts worth more than we will ever see in ten lifetimes unless we are fortunate enough to rake in ten million dollars a year. We must choose- do we support these people with their anger management issues, their salaries so big they can buy those big houses and cars and do those expensive drugs that get them in trouble?

I know where I am going with my attention to pro sports, that’s for sure. Far as this author is concerned, that’s enough for me. There are better things I can do with my money and time and resources, instead of giving another day or hour or second of attention to these people and teams and what surrounds them. I started feeling frustrated years ago with the continual talk from the sports business about salaries and poor performance issues, but now the fence has been crossed. There are other ways I can spend weekends. I plan in 2014 to frequent other venues of entertainment and culture, and put my money into charitable and benevolent causes where I know the results and can see what happens and not have (or reduce the chance of) a high-horse, puffed-chested celebrity getting in the way and taking money or attention that should be devoted to the point of the cause, such as giving to food banks, hospitals, medical research, and community service. I am going to put down the remote and pick up the cleanup gear and get out there and help someone else away from the spotlight.

What do you think? Is this the end of pro sports for you and your family too?

Divi Logan, Chicago. 2014.

Boston Action: For the Good People of Boston, Chicago Keeps You in Mind

BOSTON SUFFERS ON A FESTIVE DAY

Boston Skyline

Boston Skyline (Photo credit: brentdanley)

At once, from a resident of the City of Chicago, where we also have a huge annual 26.2 mile marathon, our thoughts, prayers, condolences and hearts are with everybody in Boston. On this day when it was supposed to be a big day, festive, fun, full of baseball, runners, shopping, eating, being with family and friends and seeing people striving to be their best in a major runner’s event such as the grand Boston Marathon, chaos erupts near the finish line and then about a block away.

Immediately there is trouble, there is noise and smoke and flame; there is disorder and destruction, flying glass, metal atop of wood, barriers piled atop people or parts of people, and it becomes clear that there are gravely injured and, in short order, confirmation of two dead.

Now the Boston subway system is enduring shutdowns, Logan International Airport is on ground stop, the perimeter around the Copley and side streets is widened and close off, and there are more suspicious packages located and worked on. In this day when the world comes together, now someone has tried to split it apart with two bombs. But did they do that job?English: John Hancock Tower in Boston, Massach...

Those responsible might have split bodies and lives but watch in those tapes people running toward the scene to assist the injured, people preparing the medical tent in the very area of the first explosion, where more devices might have been and might have gone off in short order. There were people risking their lives in that scene minutes after and seconds after the explosions occurred, to rescue the trapped and injured under the wood and metal piles. Reporters have given horror stories of what they saw, the Governor and the President have been informed, and believe it, we in Chicago are on alert as well.

This is a festive day turned difficult in a matter of seconds, and now there are people, who came from all over the planet to watch this great race, who are in surgery, who have amputated limbs, who are gravely injured or critical or serious. There might be people who have lost family or friends.

Accidental as some have speculated- gas or other rupture? Wonder, but consider that the FBI is now officially treating this as a terrorism investigation case.

Those responsible need to come forward and see the chaos they have caused, see the blood they have shed, the damage done. The cowards, the cruel and destructive people who have shredded this beautiful Boston day and indeed the day for this country, should be forced to go and see the people they have injured and shocked and destroyed today. You dish it out, then you can take the aftermath, you nasty ugly cowards. That is all you are, not strong men for some religion or brave and buff and chest -forward roosters crowing their deeds of the day. You are nothing but cowards and you will most likely die by the way in which you inflicted death today. Because if our forces find you, and I hope they do find you, and if you are to be found they WILL find you… believe it they will shut you down in a Boston minute.

Northwest corner of Copley Square in Boston, M...

Northwest corner of Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, showing the Boston Public Library at left, and Trinity Church at right. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, condolences and prayers for the people of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2013.

Chicago’s Demographic Distraction

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

EDUCATION SITUATION: THERE ARE NO LIMITS TO LEARNING

This is the story of a woman who had a fine education and opportunities to learn outside the formal setting of the classroom with its desks, maps, teachers and basic programming.

Her journey in the world of formal education began before “first grade”, when she attended kindergarten on a college campus in Nashville. As she recalls, a lasting memory from that era is being fascinated by a huge magnifying lens set in a wooden housing. But of course there came the time for her to leave that setting and move up in the wonderful world of making a mental map. Soon her parents moved to another part of the city and it was that momentous move that started the changes that, in retrospect, were profound.

When time came to start the graded system, there were schools in the area just fine for being in a “diverse” environment. The arts were offered, as were courses in spelling, the Language Arts, geography, Civics, history, mathematics and foreign languages. “Shop”, home economics, and drama were parts of the curriculum, as was physical education, which rounded out a complete system of learning for body and mind.

During physical education (or P.E. as it was known informally) there were team sports as well as individual instruction in strength training. Teachers would assemble the students for rounds of stretching and jumping jacks, warming them up before participation in the team sports. Every chance for learning the importance of teamwork was given to those classes, and everything was offered from track to basketball.

It was fortunate that her parents were not limiting when it came to the idea of just staying in “the neighborhood” and not branching out. Had that been the case she most likely would not be as happy and eager for learning as she is today. The people she knew were not cookie-cutter types or always the same with regards to “race”, “color”, religion, social-economic backgrounds or the careers their parents held. She was fortunate to get to know every kind of person there is to know, from rich to poor, from brilliant to mentally or developmentally challenged, and from hale and healthy to terminally sick. Some of them were students and others were teachers, and every person encountered presented the maturing citizen with opportunities to, as her grandmother’s mantra puts it, “Learn something”.

Thus she attended five fine schools, four public institutions and one private school for a year, finishing the graded system at a public high school. She moved on to attend a small college which later gained university status. The setting was historic, peaceful, in a residential area and not far from downtown Nashville. After graduating she went on to work in various career fields and is happy in her current position.

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There were fortunately opportunities to expand the gaining of knowledge outside the formal campus. The growing woman now had the chance to travel abroad and experience many of the cultures she had only read about before during hours on campus or in the home library.

Comfortable Seating, Learning Resource Centre,...

Comfortable Seating, Learning Resource Centre, Edge Hill University (Photo credit: jisc_infonet)

Yes, that’s right, an in-home library, stocked with books and a typewriter (and later a computer), with quiet places to read and write, and no noisy televisions or the presence of social media or a telephone. There was an aquarium with Angel fish; there was classical artwork on the walls, a globe to enhance the learning process, the National Geographic subscription, and the encyclopedias and the atlases and the Harvard Classics. There was Shakespeare, there was Beethoven, there was Bach, and for playing on the stereo system in there were cassette tapes detailing the lives of famous people from Isaac Newton to Mao Zedong.

It was in that room with its view of the back yard and quiet gardens that the young woman spent hours looking at books about exotic locations such as Easter Island, India, Japan and Machu Picchu. It was there where books and magazines filled her hands and presented articles about human development, about astronomy, about proper behavior and about architecture and gardening. In that room also, when the urge came to nap, she could close the door and lie back on the couch to take a few minutes for quiet contemplation, undisturbed by media noises or by other people until the time came for a meal, to go out, or to just wake up and resume reading or studying.

When there was the chance to travel, on the radar were England, Switzerland, Italy, France, China, Japan, and Hong Kong, as well as many locations in the United States. Going to these places brought learning to life and life to learning, as she sampled foods, took photos, wrote in journals, sketched the surroundings, and came to appreciate other cultures and their places in the reel of human history. There were the places from which we get some of the aspects of our legal system, our vocabulary, our foods, and our architectural styles and our furnishing styles, and many of our fashions. From these places come fabrics, flowers, antiquities and automobiles and musical instruments. During the hours of flight there was time to settle back and contemplate these places just visited. Such considerations cannot always be put into ordinary words, but as she recalls, these visits were profound, deep, inspiring, and door-opening.

Many say that the South is backwards when education is the issue, that the schools are not good and that standards are poor. That was not so in the era when this fortunate lifelong learner grew up. Thank goodness for teachers who made sure homework was done, who asked questions, who called on students and in some instances requested they stand up to give their answers. Thank goodness for professors who were reachable and fair, who listened when there were problems and offered solutions that challenged the students to expand their horizons.

And thank goodness for parents who were smart enough to realize that a good, complete education takes in every aspect of what the very term “education” means and what the very term “learn” is about. The word “education” comes from roots meaning “draw out, lead out or march out”, and “learn” comes from roots meaning bed, footpath, track, or furrow.

When you learn you make a sort of map, and when you get a real education you prepare for that day when you can march out onto that stage in the cap and gown and with your diploma walk off the stage in the presence of your relatives and peers. There will be a sense of accomplishment and achievement and the knowledge that YOU CAN do something good, something valid, something worthy and excellent.

Hopefully that woman will never stop learning; hopefully every day will bring the chance to meet someone new and experience something fresh and relevant.

Get the drift, Karen Lewis? Get the drift, Mayor Emanuel? Do you think you are acting like educated people, or like people who want others to learn and expand their horizons and think outside the neighborhood box? In the end you are not hurting anyone but the young among us. You might be limited in your thinking, but why do you want them to be?

English: Map (rough) Machu Picchu, own work co...

English: Map (rough) Machu Picchu, own work composed from various mapreferences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2013.

GUN CONTROL BEGINS WITH SELF CONTROL! Mental Health Crosses the Spectrum.

GUN CONTROL? WEAPONS OF DISTRUCTION? COME ON FOLKS, CONTROL YOURSELF!

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

Sandy Hook, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the wake of the shootings – most recently of a police officer in Houston, Texas, of four firefighters and a wounded police officer in in West Webster, New York, and of the students in Sandy Hook/ Newtown, Connecticut, there have been talks regarding how best to implement and practice gun control.

Gun control? GUN CONTROL? We must begin a way many steps back than that, begin before the surface issues, begin before the copycat schemes and crimes that have riddled our nation with acts of violence in the past years and so many just in 2012.

The officials and legislators talk about mental health as of the utmost importance in working with the issues of gun control. Mental health is so complex an area of study that it, like the brain that works those faculties and processes, must be carefully considered. Everyday citizens have degrees of mental health, some towards mental illness and some towards what we might call sanity, but everyone experiences those degrees of mental health at one time or another ranging from experiences of euphoria and great dreams to depression and seasonal disorders (SAD).

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.
Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are others in our nation and around the world because of our policies, that also experience a wide range of mental health issues. Those folks are the personnel of our United States Military branches – the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard. Personnel in our first responder branches – firefighters, police officers and SWAT officers, and paramedics no doubt experience the widest range of mental health concerns possible.

The firefighters in West Webster and Rochester, New York, must now begin to pick up the pieces and, if someday possible, fill the holes left by the deaths of their volunteer colleagues. The police chief in those videos announcing the updates on that fire and shooting is visibly shaken when he talks of the friends he lost. We cannot even begin to imagine what the people are feeling in New York, who lost their homes and so much before Christmas, but have their lives to rebuild. Such tragedy… we must wonder what is happening within our nation.

But back to the concerns about our military personnel and the issues of mental health. There are tens of thousands of soldiers who have returned to the United States from violent and hectic tours of overseas duty, and some very young. They will have every range of mental health issues. They have seen people die, have killed people, have used high – powered weapons, grenades, machine guns, and fighter jets. They have seen horrible acts of rape, murder, burning, torture and desecration of bodies.

That would be enough to turn anyone’s gut, who has not had the training those folks have had. But though they are trained to be tough, to carry out those acts of sanctioned violence in the name of “freedom” and democracy, they are affected. They must see blood spilled, hear people screaming, see children scurrying for cover, see homes burning, hear the rocket -propelled grenades and the jets criscrossing the borders, the skies and the mountains and deserts. And they get involved in wrecks where the enemy plants improvised explosive devices that blow up vehicles and cause catastrophic injuries.

NATO personnel are tough, strong, brave, sure – just like military personnel are supposed to be, just like law enforcers are supposed to be. But only the hardest hearted person would not be moved to tears and turn green in the gut at the sight of innocent villagers huddling in bloodstained, burned -out buildings, wondering what the next day will bring. Will the coming hours bring freedom from their oppressors, will the troops harm them, or will they be killed by those who rule their nations, as in Syria?

What happens then when those American personnel come home? Certainly they might look like the same man or woman on the outside, the same Private or Captain who went across the waves on tour. But inside, in the brain and in the faculties, they are not at all the same. They might exhibit many of the habits you as family or friends recalled when they left – eating meals the same way, cooking some things, dressing a certain way, or driving a certain way (provided they have their limbs, their eyes, and their appetites). But their minds are not the same because of the very nature of what they have had to do during deployment.

Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut

Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These personnel must be watched carefully for signs of PTSD (Post -traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, suppressed anger, and other signs that their minds/brains are in real trouble. They must be encouraged to talk about what they have seen and done, reminding them that it is strength to seek help, not weakness to ask for assistance. It is necessary that they talk about what is bothering them, that they not hide their feelings, and that they shed their toughened boot camp mentality so they can heal.

Another issue to think about would be whether or not the personnel had an honorable or a dishonorable discharge. An honorable discharge might not be so much a concern but someone who is booted out for dishonorable actions needs to be followed in case there were issues that caused their instructors or officers to doubt their effectiveness to serve and thus made the dishonorable discharge necessary. When it comes to background checks, every factor must be considered before a weapon is sold.

Background checks need to be extremely comprehensive, detailed, drawn out to the point of dotting every “i” and crossing every “t”. The potential seller must ask every relevant question and take down the information and share it with law enforcers in the area and at every level of government. If there is even any doubt about selling a weapon the sale must not go through. Weapons also need to be carefully traced from the moment they are sold, or when they turn up missing or stolen. The idea of another “Fast and Furious” must never cross our headlines again.

Collectors also need to be very careful of their possessions. Wherever they keep their guns they need to have detailed records close by, copies kept in case of disaster as well. They must note every possible relevant detail of each firearm/ weapon in their collections, from serial numbers to where they were bought to who sold it to them, if they bought it at a gun show, at a small shop, no matter. If possible, collectors should also have records of people in their area who are felons or who might not be allowed to possess weapons. Lists of national troublemakers should also be kept up with in case someone escapes and might be in the area of the collector, especially if they know the person who might have the guns and thus make them targets of robbery.

Mental health, as said, is a complex concern that runs the gauntlet of everything we do and say. It is not as easy as “self control” or as difficult as diagnosing eating disorders or criminal instincts. It is easy and it is difficult – we can say someone seems depressed or upset or sick, but to what degree? How can we… how can anyone judge the mental health of someone else, considering we all have those degrees of brain health and physical health that make us different? Is there a rule which we can call “normal”? Is there a person that you or I could say is deranged, when we might just be so? For what reasons do we judge others when we do not like to be judged?

We must be very careful, extremely careful, when we discuss mental health. Everyone needs to be heard, to take part in discussions and if possible the studies offered by counselors or hospitals. We are a nation at war within and without ourselves; we are at war around the world and deep within our brains and spirits and souls. For there to be proper discussion there must be a sense of a stable environment from which to begin those discussions, a place of peace and quiet and harmony where we can sit down like civilized people and talk about the issues in an atmosphere of parliamentary procedure and/ or military courtesy.

The more civil and properly prepared the atmosphere of education and discussion is, the better facilitated we will be to hear and be heard, to write the necessary letters, to talk about what bothers us, to confess if we must to our leaders of worship, to talk with our families and kids, with teachers and students, with our beloved and brave first responders, with everyone, with all our fellow citizens.

We are supposed to be a UNITED nation. Let’s start to act that way, and we will all be better for doing so.

Houston Police Department
Houston Police Department (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Condolences to the Houston Police Department, the people of the City of Houston and of Harris County, Texas; the people of West Webster and Rochester and the citizens of New York, and the people of Newtown and Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Flag of Rochester, New York. Image created by ...

Flag of Rochester, New York. Image created by uploader based on previous SVG image (an auto-traced bitmap) on the English Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

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Obsessions on the Job: When Production Wanes What Can be Done?

When you have an obsession with someone or something, it is basically an imbalance; one of thought, deed, word, action, influence, attentions on that object to the sacrifice of other and more important things, such as job tasks or house tasks.

When that happens it is time to get counseling, to talk with others, and the boss if you are fortunate to do so, if the obsessive object is where you work. Having a chat with people you trust can be as the opening of a book; once you are on the right page, that with the information you seek, you know it.

Today I went through exactly that process. The past couple of days, I sensed something was out of balance, something in physical exercise yes, something in the fleshly appetites, yes, but there were other things that muddled my brain processes, that addled and clouded my thoughts, that deeply upset my sleep, my views of work, of just about everything that I considered as vital and wonderful. In short there were signs of depression, of a mental recession of the caliber I have not been caught up in since I moved to Chicago. The first winter I was here and went through a bout of SAD, I had to battle my way through it pretty much solo, as at that time I knew very few people here who could be called upon for counseling or dealing with “the holidays” in a way that I figured would be satisfied.

I got through that few weeks by singing the hit tune “Route 66” until I was tired of it, but that did the job. I completed the seasonal job and went on to other things…and I am still in Chicago and enjoying all this great city has to offer. I am in a totally different environment now, a place I like, and I enjoy the people I work with.

The problem many people face when at the workplace is that they, well, like someone they work with a little too much, to the point of doubting, fears, worries, concerns and other mental issues that are so deep and heavy that they begin to do the worst possible thing. These ramblings of the mind and pullings at the heart start to interfere with workplace performance. In short they interfere with productivity. And if you are a worker committed to doing the best job you can, doing that which you are assigned and endeavoring to do whatever you can to make the business successful, that can be a real shocker when the truth comes out.

Obsessions are bad for workplace production, in short. You can get so hooked on a person or a task or an idea that you get on one track and lose sight of other things you can and indeed should be doing. Recently I was pretty nearly to being prodded into finding something to do because my mind stuck in a rut dealing with someone I like. Once I got to working at the different task I felt better and yes, I felt productive. There is something else, though, when one’s Christian principles are considered in such a light; obsessions are idolatrous and filled with vices and troubles, adversities and problems. Focusing too much on people or things is against what I learned as a good ideal for being a Christian.

In the Book of Judges, when the children of Israel made or followed or served images and false gods, nothing but trouble awaited them. Their rulers did evil in the sight of the LORD, they did not do right by God who had brought them out of so much trouble and fear, and they… well, they slacked on the job is what. Their work was to follow the word of the LORD, the tenets and principles given them decades and generations before when they were delivered with generous spoils from the slaving hands of the Egyptians. Those later generations did not follow rightly in the sight of the LORD, and they were called on the carpet for it. They were beset with war, death, pestilence, harshness, slavery and burned cities. They paid dearly for slacking on the job… for not serving properly the LORD who called to them, protected them and provided for them.

In this time when production is talked of as going down in some ways and going up in other ways, what turns out to be the most important way? Production of material goods happens all the time; production of a good character takes a lot longer than making a new car to sell. Building a good character takes years, decades, patience… practice constantly. It is not just going to worship and hearing a sermon and expecting to know everything and live by what the leader says straight out. You must think that being productive is what you are there at the workplace to do, or at anywhere that you have made a commitment to do something. The Israelites suffered because they slacked on the job; and I know what it means to suffer on account of slacking.

My good character principles went by the wayside because my energies were not properly focused. It is something, quite amazing really, what a poor or troubled conscience does to one’s entire being. When the causes are found out and all that ties in with those causes, be those things subtle or overt, it is then that solutions can be found – in this case to slacking on the job, or poor productivity. The obsession can be quelled, the concerns conquered, by looking at the field from fresh viewpoints.

You can always find something to do on the job. No place is too neat or organized or free of dust that something cannot be done to make it look even better. Small businesses are chock full of things to do to make the place better. Clean a window, rearrange a display case, do a window display, dust or mop or sweep. Check the mail, go pick up a shipment, or rework a clothes rack. Polish a mirror, straighten a crooked picture or call a customer to check on an order, whether or not they have received it or are satisfied with it. The fact is take after a good little phrase my grandmother uses when it seems nothing is around to do, and that is simply “do something, do something”! Or you can figure out just by looking around that, as my father says, “There is always room for improvement.”

If you are not sure that there is something you can do, ask your manager or boss if there is something they are thinking about and might need help with. There might be a task that someone else cannot do but that, after all, you can do. After all, brilliant diamonds do not mine themselves; they do not cut and polish themselves or set themselves in beautiful rings on their own. Someone has to take that diamond in the rough and turn it into something that will be wonderful and sparkling, will throw off spikes of color and brilliance and perhaps grace someone’s finger on a wedding day, or grace a gift for an anniversary. We are all of us diamonds in the rough… and we all need a little help getting trim and polished and set in the right place sometimes. There is no harm in asking for help – the stupid question is the one you do not ask. The right question is the one you do ask.

There is always room for improvement, so do something.

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

Related articles

Education: A Closer Look at the Education in the United States, Part 1.

Teachers’ strikes, dropouts, standardized test scores as a criteria for judging achievement… funding or underfunding for certain school districts or in certain areas; we are hearing so much related to the education system that it seems a step back and a look from other angles is warranted.

In this case the sooner the better. The education system is experiencing waste of billions of dollars a year and so many hot -button issues that there are obviously flaws, shortcomings and corrupted elements in the system as it now is.

I thought it a challenge to take one of those different angles, one which is skipped around in the news these days in the face of talk of competitiveness, longer school days or more hours added to every day, “learning” goals, test score goals and the like. If the United States education system is of sorts a laboratory to try and get people “standardized”, “normalized”, and put them in the state of losing their individuality and their uniqueness and their special gifts and talents in order to make everyone follow a sort of herd mentality, then I suspect that these failures are part of the grand experiment. There is control and observation in any experiment; there is learning from what goes into the experiment, and then there is how the results are disseminated and whether or not everyone who needs to know the facts is let in on said facts. As observed, the hot -button topics are just that, methods to quickly incite people to strike, to cause other forms of trouble in talking about funding, resources, hazing, bullying, vandalism of campuses, etc. There are part of the problem… and if there is one thing then there is its opposite, there is a solution.

It seemed best to begin at the head, at the top of the mountain, at the crown of the ruling body, naturally, and that is the federal level, the United States Department of Education, and what its goals are. One can gauge a goal from the mission or objective statement, and in this case that of the USDOE is as follows:

(The department’s) mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. Among its other goals are:

Establishing policies on federal financial aid for education, and distributing as well as monitoring those funds. Collecting data on America‘s schools and disseminating research. Focusing national attention on key educational issues. Prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education.

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Now perhaps to some these goals are well and good and sound complete enough, promoting achievement, preparing the students for the worldly workplace, fostering excellence and ensuring that everyone has equal access… but to what, we must ask. There can be equal access to the lane of a highway, but those who are using those lanes must cooperate to ensure that safety comes first, that it is all right to merge and that there is nothing going on that blocks one’s clear passage down the road. Thus there can be equal access to any resource that deals with providing students with the proper education: paper, school buildings, proper lunches, energy, water, science equipment, books, school nurses, music instruments, band uniforms, bus transport, sports uniforms, etc.

And what are the “key educational issues” spoken to in the goals of the USDOE? Why also are they talking in language that speaks to past failures, such as adding the words equal access, discrimination, financial aid, monitoring funds? Have we not yet become civilized enough to ensure that such issues can be as everyday as breathing and eating, things that can be taken care of without worry and concern clouding every move someone makes when money is an issue or when the idea of proper funding or the right kind of research is brought to the front?

What are we researching, as well; what sort of data are we collecting and for what purpose are the data being collected? The Census collects data regarding national demographics and then what happens with that data? When you gather information on something, what is the intention for which you do that research? Is it to talk up some sort of “diversity” issue and fund or not fund businesses based on the kind of people they are hiring and what neighborhood they are in and what they sell; is it to use the categories we use to separate people (race, religion, marital status, economics, education level, ethnicity) and then give a company or organization funds based on those divisive aspects?

We talk about preparing students to be “competitive”, but what comes before learning to fight someone or get into competition with somebody? Well, before you can get onto the plane that takes you to the battlefield you first have to learn to work with the people you will be in the same unit with. Take the basics from the classic TV show, “Gomer Pyle, USMC“. Before the recruits have any access to weapons or to battle, they must first learn to be a platoon, to drill properly and in step, and follow the clear commands of the leader. They must learn and practice military courtesy, a requisite for working together in a disciplined, civilzed, and respectful atmosphere. They must learn to dress appropriately, to do things at a certain time in the right time of day or night, and to be in the correct place at the ordained time. The point is the recruits must learn to work together and cooperate first. They tackle the obstacle course, take other training, and play the occasional joke on each other, but in the end they cooperate and become an honor platoon.

In later eposides the recruits learn to spar with the pugil sticks, they learn how to clean and handle their rifles, and they do other things to get them in combat readiness. But this process takes weeks, months, even years to achieve. The marksman’s medals do not come overnight; and neither does a proper education come in a week, even to the most aspiring student. Shakespeare, in the play Henry IV, may have touted the battle -ready Prince Hal as one endowed with the spirit of “teaching and of learning instantly”, but that is in an idealized moment when the prince, who in previous scenes was wanton in his ways, carousing, exploiting his rank and having less interest to the affairs of state than his younger brother, shows on the field in shining armor, his cloak flying, his weapons at the ready, his mind and eye set to victory. It takes years to get to such a level of accomplishment. This cannot be done by over -eager parents and officials gathering around the young children and telling them their life history in a matter of seconds, the “please your teachers, please your parents, get good grades, grow up, go to a great university, pass the tests, and get a job and maybe become president, and start a family and get a home and pay your taxes…”

That’s enough to make even the hardiest soul want to reverse course and go to another part of the battlefield to get another view, and that is what this series of articles is going to be about, that view of our education system that takes a challenge to the talk about competitiveness, business, global this and that, and such, and get to what could be considered the heart, the center, the cornerstone, the foundation of the matter.

This is the goal of preparing students in an atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation, that they may become productive and good citizens. Thus what is needed is to explore what it is to be a good citizen and what the USDOE is or is not doing to foster this essential element of what it means to live in any country and practice the duties that come with being a good citizen. Just as it is the duty of a recruit to learn to drill properly, to listen closely to the commands of the drill instructor, to learn to clean a rifle properly, and to learn the general orders, so it is the duty of every good citizen to learn how to get along with others, to follow the law, to keep up property in orderly appearance, to keep up with community issues and participate in improving one’s city/town/village, and other important aspects of being a proud citizen… a proud participant, that is, in one’s national happenings. It is, simply, having what is known as patriotism, or national pride.

Let us get started with a look at what the aspects or principles of GOOD CITIZENSHIP are. I consider that I and my best friends are good citizens, and we:

Are community -minded and work to improve the areas we live in; Do not use violence against others; Keep up our properties in neat and orderly appearances; Follow the law for the safety of ourselves and others; Do not cause trouble for others; Behave respectfully in public (in transit, while shopping, at worship, dining out, just walking in the park); Keep up with current events in order to stay informed on important issues; Exercising the right to vote; Respect others; Follow the principles of trust, accountability, and decency.

We endeavor to live quiet, humble lives, do our work well/ perform our jobs in a timely and orderly fashion, keep up with national events in order that we know what to discuss when an issue of importance arises or when natural disasters threaten our fellow citizens, and we are concerned for the safety of others, and that we respect others. This means the best of what it is to be ‘civil’ and ‘honorable’ and ‘duty -minded’.

You could also tie these facets of behavior, thought, and action into the principles followed by the folks of NASA’s Mission Control. Good behavior is vital the completion and success of any plan and the satisfaction of the participants. The goals of the Moon Program at the outset were twofold: to put man on the moon AND return him safely back to Earth. Had that second part of the plan been lacking, what would have been the point of the first? There is so much tied into ensuring the goals of our education system are proper and thoughtful, so that no more resources are wasted – no more time, money, hours, paper, energy, diesel fuel, food, anything.

Failure is not acceptable (read Gene Kranz’s book, Failure is not an Option). If we are talking up a system that has more holes than a Swiss cheese, more flaws than the worst – quality diamond, and more ruts than the surface of Mercury, a system that plainly has so many cracks that anyone could fall through them, we need to take a reverse course and go to doing the whole system all over again. After all, it would be rather silly to build the roof before you build the foundation of the house. And even then, it would not make sense to start on the house before the ground is prepared to receive the building materials… and naturally one must make a budget before even one order to the builder’s supply shop is placed.

It is known that round diamonds, also called brilliant cuts, have as a standard 58 facets. Some cuts have different numbers, and all of them are different. We can make it with 50 fine gems of our own, every one of our states… and a few territories, as the subject of this series on education in America. Like diamonds, our system has flaws, but there are good points about it and about the principles of good citizenship upon which we can all build to make our nation better, stronger, more civil, and, as the goal states, competitive.

SOURCES: WEBSITES ACCESSED

1. United States Department of Education. Overview and Mission Statementhttp://www2.ed.gov/about/landing.jhtml. Accessed December 4, 2012. Page 1.

2. An interesting site came up during my research: Citizenship Counts, at http://citizenshipcounts.org/index.php/about/vision-statement/.

3. M. Martin and Company, of Chicago. http://www.mmartinjewelry.com/diamond-buying-guide/.

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

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!

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GADGETS AND GUNS: REDUCE THE NEED, CUT OFF THE FEED!

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

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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:

wewantthiswewantthatweneedtodothissixdeadlatestIdevice
smartphonetechnologyhereisthelatestonthedrivebyshootinginthesouthneighborhood
andthepoliceareinvestigatingvoterapathylackofturnouthighmoneypoliticsdebates
corruptaldermenassaultweaponsbandrugsgangsinnocentteenshotttodeathwhile
walkinghomepromisingstudentdiesonthestreetandtherearenosuspects
gadgetstakingoverthemarketnewversionofthisorthatiscomingoutnextweekand
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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For Permission to Use Excerpts of or Link this Article, you need to contact both contributors and get our special permission codes. Failure to do so will result in your being reported to YAHOO security center and/or to your site or e-mail/ISP provider. Thank you for your cooperation! Here are the links:

Lorri’s e-mail: zappedsteeler@hotmail.com

Divi’s e-mail: in2intellect@hotmail.com

Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

Chicago Police Alien to Patience?

CHICAGO POLICE TAKE HAIR-TRIGGER RESPONSES TO PROTESTING POPULACE

English: Chicago police officers

English: Chicago police officers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those familar with many episodes of Star Trek know that a lot of the populations the crew of the USS Enterprise encoutered had terrible and mighty ways to subdue their opponents or force those whom they encountered to do things with their bodies and minds otherwise impossible through ordinary human faculties.

The alien races could get the fallible humans and even on occasion the strong and brilliant Mr. Spock, to fall to their knees in agony, perform unusual dances, engage in sex acts, perform acts of worship, or disappear, or even become paralyzed. With the instruments at their disposal, which could be found on wrists, belts, and even by advanced uses of the mind, those aliens could do those things, yes, but it is why or how they did them that is the curiosity and the common point between them and what the Chicago Police have been doing lately.

Those alien peoples would instantly go to those devices the moment the Enterprise crew would make a move toward them. Now their movements could be either in peace or potentially for hostilities… but could anyone really be sure? It was the cowardly hair-trigger response to any movements by the humans that forced the hands (or minds) of the aliens to go to their buttons and levers and gadgets in order to subdue their opponents, force them to divulge their reasons for being where they were, and anything else the aliens wanted to know.

Now this week in the local Chicago news came a disturbing report. The details are not completely clear yet and no doubt will become so when surveillance tapes are looked at and the investigation continues, but a pregnant woman (and how can someone not tell a lady otherwise in good shape, not obese, not large, and otherwise healthy is eight months pregnant?) was tasered by a police officer. Naturally both sides have their stories but I am definitely inclined to believe the story of the woman who was so treated.

Did not the officer think of the potential harm that incident could have caused the mother and baby? The lady could have fallen, passed out, started early labor, any number of things. She could have been severely injured by that act, so why on Earth would the officer be so tempted to go for that taser? Was his life so deeply in danger from a pregant woman’s actions that he felt he had to go to the taser instead of making everyone comfortable so they could talk, so that the incident in question could be worked out, and so that everyone could go on their way without further incident? I feel very sorry for that mother-to-be and hope she is going to be all right.

Are our tough men in blue so tense and worked-up and hard against even a little bit of leeway that they must go for the tasers right away? One little move towards them, one little touch, one little tearing up of a ticket, one move here or there and everyone suddenly is potentially one to assault the officer, to make a move for a weapon, to cause further trouble or harm to the police or to others in the area. It is sad that technology has become something we can go to instead of taking a slower or more logical kind of action. Cowards go for their weapons first or mass in groups to subdue others by threats or force or psychology. Cowards dress in masks and powerful gear and carry high-powered weapons, and they feel threatened by anyone who does not look or think or act as they do.

Gang members are that way, cowardly, in groups, with their signs and lingo and markers and colors, with their weapons and drugs and threats. They are cowards and that is all they are, and nothing more or less. Cowards, and would you let them take over your neighborhoods that you work hard to keep up, to live and work and play in? They are on that hair-trigger edge too, stressed and tense and upset and worried, just like our police officers. Poor folk- how terrible such a lifestyle must be- for the gangs the thought of keeping up the greed, the strong-arm tactics, the drug running, the turf wars, pitting neighbors against each other, pitting families and schools against each other, and pretending they are so high and mighty. And then there are our police officers- tensed, stressed, worn out, tired, worried and armed. But it is their job to train to use those tactics and weapons. Our police officers are not cowards- they have chosen their profession thinking they might do some good or make a difference, and most of them do. Their work is hard, tough, and hazardous; they have to go up against those gang members who terrorize people for their selfish intentions. They have to make traffic stops, serve warrants, chase bank robbers, catch rapists and child molesters, work traffic incidents, patrol for parades and work during natural disasters.

The important thing is that they use those tactics and weapons properly, not the instant someone makes a move until they can discern what that movement is for. It is a sign that they are on edge, those hair-trigger responses to the protestors and the pregnant woman. Our uniformed law enforcers have the respect from law-abiding citizens, and no doubt  most of us are, and not likely to cause trouble. We can be patient and obey the law; we can walk by the police and wave and speak and say hello. We should be able to come up to them in their vehicles or on their horses or when on street patrol or bike patrol, and say what we see and be comfortable around them. The motto “We Serve and Protect” is exactly what they shoud remind themselves of every day, saying it, repeating it, almost as Mr. Spock does his Vulcan greeting of “Live Long and Prosper” (“Peace and Long Life”). We should work together with them to keep the city safe and free of trouble, and the police need to know that most people, I believe, are good people and follow the law.

But we know our first amendment rights too, such as freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the right of the people peaceable to assemble. No need for the police to be pulling people off the sidewalks as some of the Michigan Avenue protestors claim they did. And was there a need for the young man to be beaten with batons or others to have other bodily harm inflicted by the law? Sure we can take the advice of the police to disperse when asked, and we can do that in an orderly fashion, but then there is that right to PEACEABLY assemble, and we don’t need a permit issued by some city official to do that. Our permit is IN THE CONSTITUTION!

Are we all to be considered guilty before innocent? Isn’t is supposed to be innocent before being proven guilty? The TSA sure thinks so, our own government sure thinks so… do our law enforcement officers need to think so, too?

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.