Time to check the facts…

I’ve quit watching most mainstream “news” media and I get most of my news straight from a news feed and a podcast that deconstructs media coverage.  I’ve found it very liberating and I want you to know why that is important.

I watch a lot of people arguing on Facebook and in general about the current state of “whatever”, the politics of “I couldn’t care less”, and economics of “some grossly misreported system”.  Here is what I have to say to all of you people that allow yourself to be either whipped into a frenzy or placated by the mainstream media:  A lot of your facts are wrong because you are being lied to or manipulated.

This should matter to you people because even the smartest and most wise person in the world will make the wrong decisions when he or she has the wrong facts.  That is all.

Can somebody please explain to me what Adult Protective Service’s job really is?

I am absolutely livid.  I went and checked the mail this afternoon and had a nice, cordial note from Adult Protective Services letting me know that the lady that I contacted them about is not eligible for their services.  Really?  Not eligible?

Let me tell everyone a little something about this lady.  She is one of our tenants and she is an eighty-six year old widow who lives by herself in a mobile home.  In the past, she has been super independent and steady as a rock.  She even cleans up at our biggest mobile home park’s mailboxes, for which we reduce her rent.  She hand trims her walkway and is always painting her home, but lately things have changed.

Unfortunately, this wonderful lady had her grandson take $600 out of her checking account last month, which caused her to bounce enough checks to accrue $350 in bounced check charges.  She bounced 3 checks to us in the last month; so many that we now take all of her checks to her bank and verify funds before we try to deposit them so that she won’t get charged anything.  The main problem, though, is not that she is having trouble paying the rent.

In the last 3 weeks, she has bounced several checks, had her power disconnected, and we’ve had several instances where people have picked her up walking on the side of the road in extremely cold temperatures.  She is very confused at times and shows signs of rapidly progressing dementia.  Her grandson is supposed to be helping her, but he never comes around except when he needs to bum some money.  If it weren’t for a couple of concerned neighbors, she would have no one.

She desperately needs help with her finances and the entire situation, so  I called Adult Protective Services no less than 8 times over the last 3 weeks.  My greatest fear is what will happen to her over the winter if the neighbors and I were to lose track of her.  I can’t even imagine what would happen if she took off in the snow.  Also, we can only help so much with her finances before it becomes a conflict of interest and a legal issue.

They sent somebody out and decided that although they have programs where they send people to help elderly folks with their finances that this lady didn’t qualify.  She’s losing track of time and money and can’t even keep conversations straight for 5 minutes.  She even had a neighbor drop her off at a local grocery, only to disappear before he could get back to pick her up.  She still doesn’t know how she got home that day, by the way.  All this, and she doesn’t qualify?

So, my question is this:  Can anybody tell me what Adult Protective Services does do?  Because I’m quite sure that it isn’t helping elderly people with dementia before they become another tragic story of how we neglect our elderly.

…and this, folks, is why you should discipline your children and expect others to do the same.

I was thinking about giving up on blogging.  With an infant, a four-year-old, and two parents who need a lot of my assistance around their house, I have found time to be at somewhat of a premium.  I was just going to kill the website, save myself a little money in web hosting, and let this whole thing ride off into the sunset.

That was until I got the following responses to an email that I sent last week:

Screenshot 11:14:13 3:17 PM

I know what you’re thinking.

I used to be a youth minister and this must be from one of my former students who is in college and making some bad decisions.  I must have written an email trying to address some bad behavior or poor choices on the part of someone in their late teens or early twenties and this is their response.

Well, you could think that…and you would be wrong.

These were the responses from a man in his forties who just ran for an elected position in city government for our town.  We had a few personal exchanges in the past, regarding a pertinent local issue and so I had his personal email address.  I could explain further about our interaction or relationship, but that might give away his identity and I honestly believe that the main point is about something much bigger than the specifics that led to the email exchange.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure on my part, I must admit that I was tough on this guy.  He had said and done some things that were generating a lot of hurt and animosity; so much so that some of it ended up on Youtube…and in the local paper…and on the local television news.  He was reflecting badly on part of my community, he was saying very hurtful things to and about peaceful, decent people in the public forum, and I felt that his attitude was detrimental to our whole city.  I had sat back and watched all of his behavior that I could stand and I had the avenue, so I took the opportunity to punch his ticket.  It needed to be done and I was in the position to do it.  Like I said in the subject line of the email, I was trying to create a teachable moment.

Anyway, here is the crux of the issue:  I sent a private email to an adult male which expressed my concerns and the responses that I got were what I would have expected to get from a fourteen or fifteen year-old teenager with a bad attitude.  This guy is old enough to and has run for public office.  He is old enough to buy alcohol and firearms.  He is married and has kids.  He is all these things and he hits me with “whatever” and “I’m not even reading this” as his response?

That is insane.

If he had come back with a reasoned response, explaining his behavior or apologizing, I could have respected him.  If he had blasted me with anger and misinformation (which is his usual tactic in the public forum), I could have at least understood.  Any of that I could have comprehended, but not this.  This is not even truthful, as I was contacted by the head of a community discussion group because his wife was questioning my involvement the very next day.  Oh, he read it, alright.  He just couldn’t maturely address the issues and that is where the trouble lies.

As a nation, we have completely disregarded adequately disciplining our children and it is already coming back to bite us.  Just to be clear, when I say “as a nation”, I mean everyone.  I mean white, black, brown, plaid, liberal, conservative, Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, vegetarian, omnivore, educated, uneducated, rich, poor…I don’t care, you name it.  We have all dropped the ball.  Admittedly, some of us have botched it more than others, but we are all a long way from the days when I knew that if I got in trouble at someone’s house or at school that I not only had to answer for it there…I had Hell to pay when I got home.

This guy is just another product of a system where not only are we not going to discipline our kids, no one else is going to be allowed to, either.  His attitude can only have developed and survived to his current age in a system where he has been allowed to walk out on every argument or disciplinary action and he is not alone.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard the phrase “no one else is going to discipline my child” in the last ten years of youth ministry.  That mindset has become pervasive and it is toxic.

It is essential that all of us learn to respect the rules of not only the greater community, but also those of other individuals and families.  My kids need to learn that the rules at your house are just important as the rules at mine and I definitely expect your kids to live by my rules while they are at my house.  This is what it truly means for a village to raise a child.  It is not some easy platitude, but rather an ethic and a value that forces examination of values and principles.

The problem comes when we try to shirk the responsibility of knowing the parents of the kids with whom our kids associate.  We get nervous that our kids will be subject to some set of rules that we don’t know, approve of, or trust.  The only solution to that is to get to know our fellow parents, to engage in dialogue, to actually be a community.

I strongly believe that how we treat people in our daily lives finds its foundation in how we were raised.  I can’t help but believe that the fact that I got a juvenile response from a forty-something man is firmly rooted in the lack of discipline that this man received from permissive parents.  Maybe if his parents had bothered to teach him to respect the rules of others, then I wouldn’t have had to write my email.  I only know that if I had ever given someone a “whatever” or an “I’m not going to read this” when I was growing up that the consequences would have been firm and lasting.

Discipline breeds respect.  Permissiveness breeds contempt.

Things you ought to know about Egypt…

DSC02480I’m going to keep this as short and to-the-point as I can, so that all of my politically liberal friends can actually learn something before they automatically disregard this post.

The man on the left in the above picture is Abdul and his friend to the right is Mohamed.  They are both members of the Egyptian military and to be frank, they are absolute bad-asses.  Friendly, tourist-loving, and well-dressed, but bad-asses nonetheless.  These men are members of a military unit that protects tourists in the Sinai region of Egypt.  The reason that Abdul’s jacket is cut rather large and has a bulge on his left side is because both men are carrying H&K MP5 submachine guns.

I took this picture with my camera while I was standing outside of St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai.  You see, the fact is that I’ve actually been to Egypt.  These guys had ridden on buses with us from the border with Israel and protected us until we got to Cairo, if memory serves correctly.  The reason that I feel compelled to write is that Abdul and Mohamed are awesome guys and if you are an American that thinks the Egyptian military needs to ease up and that President Obama knows what he’s doing regarding Egypt…you are an idiot.  I was going to say that you are ill-informed, but idiot is really more accurate at this point.

Here’s the short version:  President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton completely botch their handling of the Arab Spring event in Egypt.  The Muslim Brotherhood comes to power, thus endangering the millions of liberal Muslims and 10% of Egypt’s population that is Christan, not to mention women of every religious affiliation.  Next, the Muslim Brotherhood starts drafting a constitution that is going to send Egypt back to the time of Salah al-Din (look in up…maybe you’ll really learn something).  As that is happening, there are lots of anti-Christian, anti-women, anti-freedom events occurring all over Egypt that our media just refuses to cover because no one at the White House or at the State Department wants the American people to know how badly we’ve screwed up in Egypt (which is the largest Muslim populace of any country on the planet, by the way).  Finally, the Egyptian military gets tired of watching their country descend in the Sharia-driven chaos.  When the Egyptian military moves to peacefully break up the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations, the demonstrators suddenly have lots of weapons and fire on police…almost like they were Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists or something.  As for the current situation, you should read these two articles: One, about the violence being perpetrated by the “protestors” and the other, about the liberal Muslim view of the situation.

Now that we’re all up to speed, I would like to give you the main point.  Our current Presidential Administration and State Department are completely out of their depth in regards to Egypt.  They are wrong and getting worse by the day.  The world stands at the brink of a cliff with this Egyptian situation and all of our allies, from Israel to Saudi Arabia know it.  God help us if we continue to support our President and his policies regarding Egypt.

Hey Facebook, I caught what you just did!

I don’t want to come off like someone with a vast assortment of tinfoil hats, but I caught something on Facebook today which disturbed me.  I have two friends who independently shared the same article within a couple of hours or so of each other.  It was this article, about being gay at Liberty University.  Now, I’m not attempting to weigh in on the issue of gay marriage, as I certainly feel that more than enough is being said about that from both sides and my natural inclination is spray both sides down with a water hose as one does to stop dogs from fighting.  What I’m attempting to do is demonstrate how Facebook and the media are trying to shape what you believe and how you feel with some creative editing.

Here’s the most concise version of what I’ve found:  I read both posts with reference to the article.  I thought that it was something which I would like to read when I had a minute, but it was quite long and I was busy, so I decided I would follow the links and read it at a later time.  Later, in about two hours, I went back to Facebook to find the posts.  Oddly, neither were in my news feed under either type of sorting.  Also, neither was in that little list of things on the far right corner…no matter how far I scrolled.  Finally, neither post was on either of their walls or timelines.  The posts were simply not there, like they had never existed.

Now, here is where it gets interesting.  I contacted both people and asked them why they had removed the post; assuming that there must have been some controversy of which they had each grown tired which prompted the deletion of the post.  Nope.  Neither one had acted to remove their post.

I had to do a Google search in order to find the article and read it.  After reading the article, it was plain to see that it was written by a gay person who was seeking to empathize with, educate, and perhaps lessen the tension between the polarized extremes of the gay marriage debate.  An article which seemed to say that many Christians (even the Southern Baptists at Liberty) show love and care for those with whom they may not agree and that many gays are closed-minded and judgmental when it comes to Christians.  It seems to be an honest attempt at helping everyone to get-along.

Here’s the problem with that article…it exhibits a stance that might actually increase cooperation and dialogue.  Cooperation and dialogue don’t sell papers or cause people to stay glued to the news channels.  Accurate and compassionate understanding of the other side’s members and positions doesn’t whip people into a frenzy.  Rather, these attitudes lead to harmony and an ability to move through and past the issues which divide us.  Making progress with these issues doesn’t make for good television and it allows us to unplug from social media.  Nothing makes one stay plugged into Facebook more than a good controversy over a posting.

So, with all of that in mind, here is my theory:  Facebook purposely edited those postings out of the timeline.  There was too much of an attempt to frame Christians in a positive light, so they killed them.  There are too many factions that have too much invested in keeping the American people at each other’s throats.  If a company like Facebook can go this far to control its content, then it isn’t a stretch for you to realize that the companies which control your media and entertainment are in the business of controlling how you think and feel about almost every subject.