“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 8

I-CareI fully admit I got behind in April.  Dear reader, my apology.  I have been whipsawed between emergency room visits, depression, extreme pain, and other issues.  Not offering an excuse but a tiny peek into my world as a disabled veteran.  Luckily, I have maintained employment because my employer allows me to work from home.  My driving privileges are threatened again with removal due to the neurological issues I suffer, and this will dynamically change my life, but this article is not about me, but the continued catastrophe called the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports published.

We begin with a financial efficiency review reported from the inspection of the Durham VAHCS of North Carolina.  I know the jokes write themselves when we discuss any government agency and financial efficiency, but I digress.  This is a head exploding report of leadership failure in the observation and governance of employees who did not perform the functions they were hired to perform.  The VA-OIG found the following from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021:

    • The healthcare system had 309 inactive obligations totaling $81.7 million.
    • Of these 309 obligations, 200 (totaling over $74 million) had no activity for 181 days or more.
    • In a subsample of 20 obligations, VA staff had not reviewed 17, as required.
    • Contrary to VA policy, healthcare system staff used purchase cards instead of contracts for 21 of 40 sampled transactions (53 percent), totaling approximately $328,000. These 21 transactions were missing required supporting documentation to verify that the transactions were approved and payments were accurate, resulting in $308,000 in questioned costs.
    • 105 more administrative full-time equivalent staff than the expected number, all not doing their jobs as required under Federal Law!

While not all of the findings, those mentioned are the most egregious and in need of corrective action.  Would the citizens of Durham, North Carolina, please tell me, has this been reported in the local news?  Has anyone lost their jobs as the VAHCS right-sizes the financial department?  I can find no additional information that this problem has been corrected, and I am really curious!VA 3

Oh, the irony is thick; consider the following:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2021 would help ensure that VA employees continue to be empowered to assist the OIG in improving VA’s operations and using taxpayer dollars to the greatest effect; helping protect patients and improving their care; and ensuring veterans and others receive services and benefits for which they are eligible.”

The above-quoted material originates from Chris Wilber, who testified to Congress’s HVAC Subcommittee on oversight and investigations.  What is the number one failure on every comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIP); the lack of staff training, the inadequacy of staff training, or adequately trained staff.  Yet, the statement by the VA-OIG indicates that training has met a threshold for providing adequate training.  Let’s talk about a specific action, “the VA secretary signed a directive in September 2021 mandating that all employees complete a one-time training within one year—an important step in improving VA’s culture of accountability.”  It is now May 2022; the VA-OIG is pushing for training directives to be legislated, not dependent upon any single VA Secretary.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Where is the congressional oversight and scrutiny that allows VA training to continue to be subpar and threaten the lives of veterans?

Long have I wondered how the VA could frustrate VA-OIG actions, investigations, inspections, etc.  Guess what; the answer has become available:

“… there have been instances in which the OIG has been informed that staff have been told that they cannot share information with OIG investigators without first clearing it through supervisors or leaders—contrary to the Inspector General Act of 1978 (the IG Act), as amended.  Under that authority, VA employees at all levels have a duty to cooperate with OIG personnel, including providing information and assistance in a timely manner.”

Employees have been caught lying to the VA-OIG regularly, and what action is taken to remove those employees promptly and efficiently from government service?  From direct observation and employee conversations, it is clear that plans are carefully laid before a scheduled VA-OIG visit to present what the VA-OIG wants, but to gloss over the problems, and nothing ever happened to the managers, supervisors, and employees who lied and misdirected the VA-OIG.  All contrary to established Federal Law!VA 3

Want a specific example of employees intentionally misrepresenting information to the VA-OIG?  Look no further than the statement by Chris Wilber, and this incident was covered as a failure of leadership in a previous article.

Hospital staff at a VA facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas, had concerns about potential substance abuse by the chief of pathology that were not heard and promptly acted on by local management, which allowed him to work while impaired for years.  He misdiagnosed about 3,000 patients with errors resulting in death or serious harm and is currently imprisoned.  The OIG found a culture in which staff did not report serious concerns about the chief pathologist, in part because they assumed that others had reported him, or they were concerned about reprisal.”

From personal experience, I reported problems to the VA-OIG concerning patient abuse, fraud, waste, and other issues.  Never were my concerns acted upon promptly, and I was removed from employment for being a whistleblower.  The culture of corruption at the VA is incredible.  The examples mentioned by the VA-OIG only further sustain the problem with leadership and how sick the VA truly is as an organization!VA 3

We next turn our attention to the VA-OIG report on the inspection of information technology security at the VA Financial Services Center, another head exploding example of leadership failure bordering on criminal!  The findings include:

    • component inventory
    • vulnerability management
    • flaw remediation
    • Identifying 252 vulnerabilities, of which 228 the local IT team could not identify.
    • the VA-OIG team identified access control deficiencies, as 107 of the 278 FSC systems failed to generate or forward audit logs for analysis.
    • the video surveillance system was not fully functional. Ineffective monitoring and recording facility activities supporting information systems minimize the FSC’s incident response capabilities.

How do you spell failure; these findings spell failure to me rather pointedly and dramatically!  Want to laugh; staff training remains a concern, but not a finding, of the VA-OIG inspection team.  Frankly, with this level of incompetence, staff training should have been a finding.VA 3

To be concise and illustrate further the poor leadership, convoluted processes, and brazen noncompliance of VA officials, the following discussion is about two different VA-OIG reports that reached similar conclusions.  First, we have the VA-OIG report on “Noncompliant and Deficient Processes and Oversight of State Licensing Board and National Practitioner Data Bank Reporting Policies by VA Medical Facilities.”  Second is the VA-OIG report on “Concerns with Consistency and Transparency in the Calculation and Disclosure of Patient Wait Time Data.”  Nothing says convoluted processes more than having two written policies, both originating from Washington DC.  The superseded policy does not have an expiration date.  This means that employees have a designed incompetence excuse ready for not adhering to the most current and applicable policy.  Don’t believe me; one of the key findings was, “VHA has presented wait times to the public without clearly and consistently disclosing the basis for their calculations.”  Designed incompetence does not come more blatant than this, and who suffers, the veteran.  Worse, wait time correction and policy clarification has been stalled by COVID-19, the neverending excuse paying dividends to bureaucrats everywhere!Timelines for Wait Time Calculations

However, both reports are substantially summated by the VA-OIG; thus, “The lack of programmatic oversight contributed to the failure of VHA leaders to detect and intervene upon facility noncompliance.”  Meaning that due to COVID-19, the VHA has refused to do their jobs in deference to the pandemic, and since this is a good enough excuse, the VA-OIG has bought the designed incompetence, lock, stock, and barrel.  The VHA leadership is failing; doctors or dentists let go for poor performance were not reported to state and federal boards, so these providers lacking can continue to harm patients.  It is a federal law (42 US Code § 11151, US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Workforce, NPDB Guidebook, October 2018, chap. A., 8 USC ⸹ 7462(a), 38 USC ⸹ 7401(1), among others) that providers let go for cause must be reported within 7-days to the regulatory boards at the state and federal levels.  Wait times are hidden because they are so bad; the VHA is embarrassed, so the leaders fall back on designed incompetence to shield themselves while looking for another excuse for poor performance!  In both reports, the ramifications of noncompliance are putting people at risk for sentinel events (death, injury, disability, etc.), and the leadership is at best lackadaisical in the performance of their duties.  VA 3

Where are the congressional overseers in ending the abuse?  When will this insanity and bureaucratic inertia end?  How many “sentinel events,” including deaths and permanent injuries, will it take until those tasked with scrutinizing the executive branch finally take committed action and hold people accountable?  When will the elected representatives stop throwing good taxpayer money at problems that money cannot fix?  If these questions are too difficult to answer, please stop running for elected office, for the citizenry is not happy!

We conclude with two related reports so astoundingly obtuse they defy logic and sanity.  The first is the annual CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) audit of the VA’s information security for 2021.  The second is the continuing failure of the new electronic health record modernization (EHRM) program.  The VA has failed the CLA audit for more than a decade, with many of the hits repeated year-over-year.  In fact, the CLA audit is so bad this year; it has taken my mental breath away and stunned me into a gibbering idiot!  Reading this report was infuriating; describing it as my head exploding is akin to comparing an M-80 to a nuclear bomb.  How in Dante’s Inferno can this level of incompetence be allowed to remain employed?  But, as bad as the CLA audit is, the continued failure of the new electronic health record system pales in comparison.  The new EHRM continues to suffer from reliability weaknesses, which is polite speak from the VA-OIG for the new system fails to do the job.  We are three years from the new extended deadline, we are already past the original deadline, and the system is worthless today than it was a year ago.  With this success rate, the new EHRM will be utterly bereft of value and need replacement before the year’s end.  How many millions (billions, or trillions) of good dollars must chase this ineptitude before the plug is pulled and those involved held accountable?VA 3

Join me in having your head explode:

Additional deficiencies included known tasks not being reflected on schedules, no risk analysis, lack of longer-term actions scheduled, and no complete baseline schedule or overall schedule that fully integrated individual project schedules. VA also did not comply with federal regulations when it paid its contractor for deliverables before accepting them (reviewing compliance with contract requirements).”

Consider this other gem from the VA-OIG report, “$1.95 billion in cost overruns per year” are estimated, meaning the final tab will be significantly higher and compounded year-over-year.  In plain speak, the contractor is being paid for products delivered that fail, the products offered are not usable, there is no schedule of completion, there is no schedule for deliverables, many of the products paid for have never been delivered, and costs are overrunning like a plugged toilet. Worse, no one is being held personally liable for these problems, which were apparent in the last EHRM update from the VA-OIG a year ago!  Like the CLA Audit, I am thrilled the VA agrees with the VA-OIG findings, but what are they DOING to fix the problems?

FYI: the image below is a year old, and comes from the last major update to the EHRM.EHR-VA-OIG

?u=https1.bp.blogspot.com-aqaqk18MHoEWRHHsCi_TyIAAAAAAAAAXc7hY4JQuyylIQHYudoR8sbezGZntic4SSwCLcBs640Betrayal2BSayings2Band2BQuotes2Bwww.mostphrases.blogspot.be.jpg&f=1&nofb=1There is no excuse for behaving like the VA’s bureaucratic legions behave.  Bureaucrats, from the city government (including the school board) to the Federal Government, you hold a sacred trust to act better than you are currently performing.  I refuse you any leeway for acting like pompous overlords when you are paid through forced taxation!  You have trespassed upon my patience and kindness long enough, and the day of reckoning has arrived.  You work for me; you work for every taxpayer and citizen in this country, and you have violated our trust, charged us too much and too often, and if you do not begin to show yourself worthy of the sacred trust, we will force you from your cushy jobs and hold you liable for the monies you have squandered!  The law is on our side; you need to begin showing you honor our trust and investment forthwith!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Employers and Employees – The Battle is Waged: The Fight is Important

LookEmployers throughout the world, including Disney, American Express, Wells Fargo, and thousands more, have begun to battle their employees.  Unionized shops, the battle has been waged for 50 years and shows no sign of relenting.  Only recently have other employers joined the fray, not to help employees but to rid themselves of employees.  These businesses are fighting employees against their employees for the company’s culture and soul.  Couched in many a buzzword, political stance, and archaic practices, the employers want to rid their workforces of those they despise, and the battle is legal!

Make no mistake, what the employers are doing is immoral, unethical, and disastrous to those employees unfavored, but the actions remain perfectly legal, and this is the point we must understand.  Laws have been changed against the majority for the selectivization and advancement of the minority.  The fight is important because you might be next and never know your termination has been affected, but not enforced until it is too late.  This article intends to raise awareness, not cover every particle in the fight or catalog every avenue an employer might take to attack an employee.  Imperative to know and remember, as long as the actions are against individuals, no laws are being broken, and the employer wins when they can make the situation untenable, and the employee on the out quits or is forced out under a miasma of quasi-legal terms, so it appears that employee was treated fairly.Plato 2

Never forget, a lawyer’s job is to make the illegal appear legal, and the legal appear illegal, so a judge must decide.  Add in judicial activism and legislation from the judicial bench, and the trouble becomes apparent quickly.  Unfortunately, the lawyers’ training has shifted, and the legal mind’s quality has slipped under the weight of many of the topics discussed herein.  The vicious cycle can only be broken when the collective beliefs of the majority are re-established, not to the demise of the minority but the growth of the entire society.

Culture and Politics

As long as people have banded together into organizations, societies, governments, etc., there has been the push and pull of politics.  All of recorded history bears truth to this fact.  People have beliefs.  They express these beliefs through representatives who rise and fall in different leadership positions, and societies change according to the expressed beliefs through which a society is governed (law).  Pick a governing style (Communism, Socialism, Representative, Direct or Indirect Representation, Monarchy, Theocracy, etc.), and you will find the collective beliefs of the people expressed in how long a leader remains in power or the stability of the society so governed.  Politics happens and is best described as the push/pull of collective beliefs expressed by populations.  Economies rise and fall based upon the collective beliefs, expressed in the stability of the society and the government leader’s length of time as leader.Lemmings 1

History has shown when a governing leader is short-lived, it is generally because they refused to follow the collective beliefs of the population, giving rise to the credit ratings of stable governments and societies being higher than for those who are changing leadership every couple of weeks or months.  Those leaders who can tread the waters of public opinion maintain their jobs and, many times in history, their heads by following the collective beliefs in the morals of the people.  The US Dollar’s stability is one of the strongest reasons this currency is one of the world’s benchmark currencies.  Politics did that, and politics are the push/pull collective beliefs expressed by the citizens to their government leaders.  The process is messy and needs to be messy for a reason; only in the expression of two divergent points can a healthy middle ground be established, and society can grow.

Culture is not politics, but politics and politically minded people can influence it.  If politics is a society’s expressed beliefs, then culture is the expressed moral convictions as lived by a community.  For example, many institutions have been built on the law that coveting (envy) is wrong, but the practices of the people living build a culture that accepts graft, bribes, and other incentives that, while violating the law, are accepted.  Make sense?  The closer the culture is to following both the letter of the law and the living of the law provides for a stable and influential culture to invest resources into.?u=http2.bp.blogspot.com-BKwWSo412lIUngTRkmSYwIAAAAAAAARd8GqxDhvovmRgs1600salestaxcartoon.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

How does one change the collective beliefs of a society and the living practices of that society; first, you capture the children.  Bad ideas do not go away, they are either replaced with good ideas, or the bad ideas go into hiding, awaiting the time they can make a new appearance.  Everything modern society is facing has been faced previously, and the difference is that the seeds for the current dilemmas were planted more than 100-years ago, but the bad ideas first captured the children.  Why have these bad ideas advanced so rapidly?  The education of children in social customs, collectively shared beliefs, and individual duty, has been eroded and attacked mercilessly since “progressive education” (the refusal to teach children to read, write, and perform math) began in the late 1800s with Dewey, who called functional illiteracy “Progress!”

One of the first words plasticized, twisted, ripped apart, and then put together to fuel tyranny through modular language was the term progress.  Unfortunately, language has continued to suffer relentless attacks since the late 1800s, and more words have suffered the same fate in the modularization of language.  Consider with me the history of Tea.  Tea plantations in India were ruled by the iron fist of laws drafted in America and marketed with women in distress to the consuming nations geographically distant to where the crops were grown.  The tyranny of slavery is the same tyranny we face with modular language.  Nobody realizes this because to mention this connection is frowned upon by those making money off the tyranny of language.  The tyranny of modular language fueled the oppression of entire populations to fuel an empire.  The language led to actions (afternoon tea) and a host of other practices, words, and social customs to fuel the demand for Tea.  Unfortunately, the tyranny of modular language also fueled hot wars in China, more geographically distant suffering from the population consuming Tea.History of Tea | Dilmah School of Tea

Language – Plastic Terms

Diversity, what is it; what does it mean in practice versus meaning from a dictionary; what value does it have for a business?  Equity, same problem, fewer answers, more confusion.  Inclusion, same problem, confusion, chaos, and eventual destruction.  These are, but a small sample of current buzzwords strung together and causing problems in businesses.  There are entire word classes set apart for plasticization, which sound good to the ear, and that people love to rally behind, but these terms cover a hidden agenda.   They have been weaponized to destroy, not lift and build—tyranny through modular language, plastic words.Plastic Words: The Tyranny of a Modular Language By Uwe Poerksen

American Express is a perfect example of how DE&I efforts (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) have been weaponized to pick away, through politics, the non-politically affiliated, those who show up to their employment and merely want to work their job.  The University of Phoenix is another company long captured by, and suffering from, DE&I tyrants.  Both American Express and the University of Phoenix began their DE&I journeys with the best of intentions.  Still, the result remains the same, the minority classes bring politics anathema to good order and discipline into the company, initiating change cloaked in DE&I.  The result has been the discouragement and disenfranchisement of employees.  The DE&I champions crow and cheer for these people leaving as it injects more DE&I hiring, and the new employees realize that unless they are politically affiliated, read that as aligned to a militant tyrant in DE&I, they too will be out of work very shortly.

Language matters, and when terms are plasticized, the only result is destruction and tyranny.  Consider the teachers in the Albuquerque Public Schools System or the employees of the State of New Mexico; both populations stress DE&I initiatives under various names but with the same purpose.  Who are the enemies of DE&I; those who do not wear their politics on their sleeves, acting as emotionally charged smart bombs of the media.  Even if a person holds some of the DE&I beliefs, if they are not militant in their beliefs, they are ostracized by their language, judged, and removed from employment.Political Correctness = Language and Thought Control | Wake Up World

When the patients rule the asylum, the problems for all patients in the asylum double and triple, not improve.  The same result occurs when the vocal minorities of a population gain power that is not theirs, and they make no concerted efforts to rule fairly and justly.  One of the truths about any revolution is that those who initiated the revolution rarely (if ever) get to enjoy the fruits of their rebellion as they are so focused on fixing what they perceive as injustices, they miss that they have become worse in action than those they deposed.

80-20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule is known by many monikers, but always it is the same rule, in different wrapping – 80% of a population will be controlled by 20%.  In standard terms, the minority is setting the culture for the 80% to follow, and they hope you will never realize you are stronger without the vocal minority than with them.  Take the recent changes at Disney.  There is a vocal minority demanding change, couching the changes in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the Disney business model is about to self-destruct.  The same is true of American Express, where if you are male and white, you are not welcome.  But, if you are one of the members of any number of protected classes, you are welcome.  When politics interferes in professional pursuits, 80% will always suffer under the tyranny of the 20%.  What happens when the vocal minority becomes the majority, they fang themselves to death, and nobody is left to care because that 80% majority has left them to their own devices.Pareto Principle: understanding the 80/20 Rule

It should go without saying, but I will make plain, I am not against diversity.  I do believe that diversity for diversity’s sake is wrong, immoral, unethical, and anathema to good order in a society.  Diversity of thought should be preeminent as the diversity of thought transcends skin color and lifestyle choices.  Diversity of thinking includes the desire to see all succeed on merit, character, and individual action.  I abhor in the strongest terms picking a person solely based on their gender, skin color, religious preferences, disability status, culture, or any variable that supersedes accomplishment, education, and learned skill set.  The same is valid for inclusion and equity; when people cannot compete solely upon achievement, education, and intellectual skill sets, this creates an imbalance in the population.

Hence roadblocks to education must be removed, character-defining and building experiences should be shared and taught, and achievement recognized.  What is missing from schools from K-12 and up; is accomplishment, education, and learned skill sets.  What has replaced these; is DE&I, where the vocal minority is destroying with no thought for what replaces the institutions, societies, corporations, and more.  Iconoclasm in its most destructive form has taken over employers, and these companies are committing suicide to pacify, tranquilize, and placate a small population at the expense of all.Make the 80/20 Rule Work for Your Online Marketing Efforts | WillTan.com

Inherently, change is not bad but growing, productive, and useful change requires inputs from a diverse population.  Inclusion is not inherently a bad thing, but the current demands for inclusion, only for the sake of inclusion, make the activities of the vocal minority lethal to the entire social body.  Equity is a prerequisite for society to grow, develop, and be stable long-term.  This is why societies built on slavery, or those muzzling 50% of the population, are inherently ripe for hostile takeovers.

The actions of the vocal minority in employment right now are precarious at best, suicidal at worst, and permanently immoral and unethical.  The models they promote have no substance and enable unfair, unjust, and unequal systems.  Worse, companies that flout their customer base, which is the largest stakeholder in any business, will find smaller profit margins and higher expenses as employee churn increases.

Knowledge Check!One truth that should give hope to the employees affected is that when the minority becomes the majority in a body and does not have any substance, they destroy themselves.  C-Leaders, are you sure you want to take the company you have been placed in control over down this dangerous path?  On my first day at American Express, new hires were introduced to the rich, proud, and stable company history and core values.  How sad it is to witness how fast this company has fallen!  Who will replace these companies?  Will their replacements learn from the failures of the past?

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Sermo Datur Cunctis; Animi Sapientia Paucis – Remind you of Anyone?

Exclamation MarkDistichia Moralia provides with keen wisdom the following, “Speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”  After the European trip of US President Joe Biden, intelligence is in short supply in the White House, the staff, and of course, the US Media!  Would someone please tell me how so many can say so much, yo-yo’ing from one point to another, and still make no sense?  Honest question, the other day someone told me the patients were running the asylum, and I countered no, the clowns took over the circus.  Both sentiments are accurate, but I detest clowns, and mental patients can occasionally do something brilliant.

Now, to be perfectly fair, little Joey Biden has a mental cognition problem that is more than likely some form of senility or Alzheimer’s disease.  I am not entirely blaming little Joey; his spouse and handlers bear the full brunt of the blame and deserve their punishment for not allowing this senile old man to retreat to his beloved basement and finish the rest of his days in solitude and grandchildren.  May little Joey sniff hair and massage shoulders in a creepy fashion after retirement to his heart’s content.  But his handlers, the complicit media, and his spouse need to be hauled in front of a judge for elder person abuse!

From Australia’s Sky News, the BBC, Daily Mail, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and Jerusalem News, essentially covering the entire globe, every media channel worth a small moment is complaining about Biden’s European performance.  Not all media channels are created equal, but to have them all complaining about Biden in Europe is pretty phenomenal.  To have Biden walk back his handlers’ “clarification” and then renounce his previous sentiments in the same speech is nothing short of a full-blown communication failure.

To clarify, I do not care what you embrace for your political party.  Any person with half a brain cell can observe what is happening and know instinctively that the elected leaders have no clue and even less intelligence.  Worse, their intellectual ability for self-preservation is running on fumes and day-old flatulence.  Truly, “speech is given to many, and intelligence to few.”  Unfortunately, this is not the tip of the iceberg humanity is headed towards at full speed!If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all ...

Satire is truth wrapped in comic wit and presented for discussion.  Never taken seriously as supported by how many “shock” comedians?  Yet, the Babylon Bee is removed from Twitter because some Twitter employees think they have a special mission from their god CEO Parag Agrawal to silence any voice they deem “hostile.”  More people prove that “speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”  Would someone please tell me how Kathy Griffin can parody cutting off then President Trump’s head, and she can maintain a Twitter account, but the Babylon Bee has their account suspended.  Worse, Kathy Griffin, a fully non-humorous comedienne, got a Netflix special, but Dave Chapelle was hounded mercilessly for weeks because he told the truth and was actually funny.

Kathy Griffin, Dave Chapelle, Biden/Trump, Babylon Bee, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, and others are tied into a Gordian Knot over the topic of controlling speech unconstitutionally.  Whether as perpetrators, victims, or politics, every actor mentioned, especially those not mentioned, as this was NOT a definitive list, all share in the ongoing saga over the First Amendment.Abraham Joshua Heschel quote: Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out...

A reminder, the First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The perpetrators who are pulling the political strings to hinder and thwart the First Amendment hide, like evil thinking cowards, cower behind the shield, “Congress.” Claiming that since they are not Congress, they only prohibit speech on their private platforms conditional as part of the “User Agreement” or as private citizens or businesses.  Hence, limiting the speech of others is entirely legal, moral, and socially acceptable, intentionally muddying the lines between legal and illegal for entertainment or some other bloviated excuse.  Except, what these perpetrators are doing is stealing freedom from everyone for personal profit.TOP 6 QUOTES BY ZECHARIAH CHAFEE | A-Z Quotes

What is “Hate speech?”  Sure, the lawyers have concocted a definition for court, but in practice, “Hate Speech” is anything any person who thinks they possess a modicum of power deems it to be.  Any tool that limits speech will be used as a weapon to beat people out of their rights and freedoms and steal the same to enslave all.  The Supreme Court regularly hears cases on First Amendment issues, specifically speech.  Of the five freedoms protected and enshrined in the First Amendment (Speech, Religion, Press, Assembly, and Petition the government), speech is the one most often attacked.  The Supreme Court has wisely used the rule of thumb, “Screaming ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater,” as the basis for whether to rule speech as governed under the First Amendment or not.

Why is this a wise rule of thumb?  Because creating panic in a population enclosed in a building should not be protected “free” speech as the consequences are dire indeed.  But does this mean anything else goes; absolutely!  A simple rule exists to explain why, “When you limit the freedoms of a single person in a society, the entire society loses ALL of their freedoms, rights, and liberties.”  Democracy is messy!  A constitutional republic is doubly chaotic!  We, the citizens of either a democracy or a constitutional republic, accept this as a necessity to protect our individual rights, freedoms, and liberties.The Legal Lens: Why Free Speech Matters To You

This means when Twitter declares something as broaching their “User Agreement” and limiting one person’s speech, as a citizen of the United States, every citizen of the United States loses!  When Facebook or LinkedIn practice censorship in the name of “socially acceptable speech,” they are thwarting the US Constitution and decrying they are the wisest of us all and intelligent enough to declare what is and is not “acceptable” speech in a public environment.  When YouTube ends people’s livelihood because they do not like the content in a video, everyone loses their right to produce content free from burdensome oppression.

Chris Rock was free to make a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith as a point of reference.  Will Smith was perfectly in his right to first laugh at the joke and then choose to become offended.  But, Will Smith’s rights ended when he took action and hit Chris Rock.  Speech is a responsibility, and exercising speech properly means sometimes being held accountable for the speech made.  Unfortunately, modern society has allowed people to make offensive and degrading remarks without accountability for too long, which is a problem.  However, the solution is not to control speech by a business, company, government, non-governmental board/organization, etc.  The solution is to remind people of the accountability inherent in exercising their rights to speech.

Speech is never “Free.”  Free speech means no consequences to what you say, but the reverse is true, and speech has a significant cost!  Ask any disabled veteran about the cost of speech, and let me know if they claim their injuries are free.  Worse, ask any person jailed who made a speech if their speech was free, and tell me if their sufferings, depravations, and sacrifices were without cost.  Chris Rock was entirely in his right to make an offensive joke.  I did not find it funny.  But could Chris Rock have been held accountable for his poor sense of humor without being slapped on international television; absolutely.  But, name me another group of people who abuse the rights, freedoms, and liberties of others without care and concern than Hollywood.  I know of no other industry!

Yet, Hollywood has taken it upon themselves to be the lords and masters over everyone else when they cannot control themselves.  Solidifying the permanence in the principle, “Speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”  How many known victims of Harvey Weinstein?  How many unknown victims are living?  How many dead victims?  How long was Harvey Weinstein abusing his power to subjugate people to whet his appetites and passions?  How many others are currently copy-catting Harvey Weinstein’s example?Speech is power: speech is... | Inspirational Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The government has failed to police Hollywood, and Hollywood refuses to police itself, but how many in Hollywood are willing to insist that Hollywood needs a deep cleansing, an injection of values, morals, and law; not many, if any.  Name another industry so rampant and steeped in villainy, depravity, and disgust that it can escape basic law enforcement.  Hollywood spawned Bollywood and how many other incarnations in countries around the globe, all suffering from the same moral vacuum and creating the same social decay without consequence.  Spoilt children, parading as virtuous adults, demand their rights, liberties, and freedoms, all while denying others the same rights, liberties, and freedoms.  Demanding politicians, the same politicians fawning and feeding the Hollywood monster, to use the powers of government, and big business, to thwart laws for their own profit and gain.

Have you ever heard of a “Casting Couch?”  In business, the military, and government, a “casting couch” is sexual harassment, a crime worthy of jail, heavy fines, and social scorn for the perpetrator.  In Hollywood, the “Casting Couch” is regular business for those desiring to be in Hollywood, and the victims, if they speak out, are scorned and unemployable.  The horror stories about the “Casting Couch” are depraved, disgusting, and the victims’ ages run the gamut, all with little to no consequences for those soliciting sexual favors in return for employment in Hollywood.  The case of Harvey Weinstein ripped the scab off the festering wound of Hollywood, but Big Business and Government have helped keep the wound alive and infected, to the shame and horror of the victims.

Knowledge Check!Will Smith, enjoy the spotlight your actions created, and may the consequences fit the crime.  Chris Rock, you’re still not funny.  Wanda Sykes, you lost your funny.  The Oscar’s is not worth my time and energy to scorn, let alone watch.  But, Hollywood, your industry is sick, and the greatest crime is that your infection is spreading faster than a case of Chlamydia in the Playboy Mansion.  Hollywood, you have lost any and all claims to tell anyone else how to live and until you clean up your mess, I will continue to refuse you my money.  You might start by remembering, “Speech is given to many; intelligence to few.”

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Brevis Ipas Vita Est Sed Malis Fit Longior – Adversity

Father Mulcahy 3The title is Latin for “Life is short, but trouble makes it longer.”  Recently I was reminded of the power and blessing of adversity.  One of the comments that struck me was, “You will all experience your own Gethsemane’s.”  Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives and became famous in the New Testament for the place where Jesus went to pray and, according to the New Testament, completed the atonement.  Gethsemane remains a symbol of hope for people experiencing trouble, difficulty, or adversity.  However, the thought of us experiencing our own Gethsemane individually intrigues me as a concept.

One of the scriptures that holds a lot of hope for me comes from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 7-9:

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands
.

Nowhere is recorded how long Jesus spent in Gethsemane; one might presume the time was longer than an hour, but less than 8 hours.  Beyond that, I cannot guess and will not venture an opinion.  However, the thought that adversity will be but a small moment rings like an eternal truth in my mind.  Let me elaborate on this point, my wife and I spent 6-months homeless, living out of our car, showering at her mom’s apartment, and working as often as I could find work.  During this time, I was studying for a master’s in business administration and struggling with depression for feeling like an absolute failure for not being able to provide a home for my spouse.Adversity is an advantage to embrace, not an annoyance to avoid. | Art Coombs Art Coombs

Yet, as I look back on this homelessness period, it seems but a small moment.  While I know mentally that the timeframe was six excruciating months, the truth is that the adversity felt like a moment even during the adversity and the months following.  My friends found during this time were such an incredible solace; my wife’s family and even my studies became lifts to my spirit and a balm to my mental processes.  How grateful I am for the adversity that has shaped me since this event and the incredible people who supported my wife and me.

Interestingly, in M*A*S*H 4077, the final episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” the poignancy of Father Mulcahy’s predicament with losing his hearing has become more meaningful since this episode of homelessness.  Indeed life is lived forward and understood backward.  As Father Mulcahy said, “What good is a deaf priest?”  The value is found in learning and living, but the learning and living is the adversity shaping us physically, mentally, and spiritually.Grit - Defined

Long have I pondered what a piece of clay must think as it is placed on a potter’s wheel, and if it realizes that when the potter is done, the adversity on that wheel will make it something beautiful, useful, or both.  Whether you believe in god, God, or gods, what are the adversities in your life making out of you, and will you recognize yourself when the potter is done?  Will you care what the potter has made you?  Those two questions lay on my mind, not with weight, but nonetheless with power.  A final question struck me as Father Mulcahy was marrying Klinger and Sun Lee, will we respect the potter for the work invested in creating us through adversity?

30 Best Adversity Quotes To Regain The Courage | Brainy ReadersIt’s no secret to those who have known me that I did not like serving in the US Navy and the pressure cooker of the USS Barry (DDG 52) from 2000-2004.  I have often cursed and shook my fist at the sky over the experiences during the US Navy.  Yet, even now, the experiences in the US Navy are felt as a small moment, and time does help heal wounds.  Better still, time tends to soften the edges, and one of the other things I have found is that how we choose changes how we remember.  I loved being “haze grey and underway” in the navy.  Many things were better while sailing that worsened to the point of breaking while in port.  More to the point, being “haze grey and underway” was always an adventure, fun, and never dull, even while pulling five and dime watch standing, doing maintenance on a pitching deck, or even climbing the mast while underway to fix something broke.

Adversity QuotesMajor Winchester leaving M*A*S*H in a garbage truck reminds me of my time in the US Navy, very appropriate.  As soon as Major Winchester came to M*A*S*H 4077, I watched to see what pranks could be done to Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third.  I loved watching Charles become the butt of a joke.  Yet, even as I type, I cannot help but wonder, was a garbage truck appropriate; is it disrespectful of the potter to see another person struggle and heap more scorn upon them?  Charles’ life changed dramatically and horribly; his ways of thinking, the path of his life, and even his belief in his own self-worth were constantly challenged and scrutinized.  I can understand Charles’ experiences more now than at any time previously.

Having been homeless multiple times in my life, one of my greatest difficulties is seeing someone putting up their petition for help and not being able to help.  I know there are a lot of scams out there, but that has never mattered to me; not being able to help bothers me greatly.  The war in Ukraine, the orphans left after war and storms, the hunger and depravity in this world, those individual adversities we see all around us.  I always want to help.  Long have I thought if I could relieve an ounce, a dram, a smidge of suffering, I could sleep better at night or know I succeeded at something.  Life has taught me how to fight, then it taught me how to think, and then my body was injured, and I am left stuck somewhere in between—proving that adversity comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and types!Adversity Quotes

Please know, I am not maudlin or melancholy about my life.  I have some great stories, met some truly amazing people, and lived to tell those tales.  All I ever wanted out of life was to be “an interesting old person,” and if I can keep reading and thinking, and especially writing, I should be able to tell some of those stories.  If I died tomorrow, I could say I lived a rich, full life, with no regrets.  I have no complaints and look forward to learning a lot more.  Bringing up another exciting facet of adversity, the learning that comes through adversity.

For example, did you know you do not teach adults?  Anyone who tells you differently does not know what they are talking about.  Teaching only happens to children, and if those kids are like me, barely even then.  For adults, you help them see their life experiences in a new light, applying existing knowledge to current situations to improve how they think.  You do not teach adults; they teach themselves; as an adult educator, my job is to help them learn how to think.15 Quotes About Overcoming Adversity Never to Forget

I know a kid, now an adult, who had been molested, beaten, and suffered greatly.  Growing into a scrappy adult, this child had experienced the horrible and survived.  Sure, you might teach this kid how to reach a formulaic solution, but the core knowledge of life, this kid held a doctorate.  Adversity had trained this kid how to think, how to act, how to understand, and how to fight back.  While other kids learned how to wield a bat and hit a ball, this kid was learning how to throw punches, duck, dodge, and handle pain.  While some kids learned how to cook, this kid already knew how to cook and could make meals out of practically anything.  Adversity taught this kid, and the student was worthy of the master’s teachings how I have longed to be as apt a pupil to adversity’s teachings as this kid.A Layman's Blog: Pasternak on adversity.............

When considering the potter, as we are placed upon the wheel, then into a kiln, are we clay, easily molded, or a rock choosing to be chased off the potter’s wheel for refusing to change and be moldable?  A young adult uttered the saddest commentary on life I have ever heard.  My father did it this way; his father did it this way; his father did it this way; going back as far as family memory can relate, I am doing it this way.  When I saw the stubbornness of this person, I felt like weeping for the potential lost to generations who choose not to change.  Adversity gets us asking questions; for me, those questions are always about how I improve—improving myself, a process, an environment, the situation, anything that can be changed to drive improvements.John Wooden Quote: "Adversity often produces an unexpected opportunity. Look for it ! Appreciate ...

Another book referred to the “captivity of the fathers.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevia sings the song of “Tradition!”  Is adversity trying to tell us there is a better way, and tradition is trying to hold us back?  In previous articles, I discussed how a friend of mine related that he is the first generation of his family who could read, and his children and grandchildren are graduating college because as a child, he was forced onto a bus, driven to Oklahoma, and forced into school and off the Indian reservation.  He experienced traumatic adversity as a child of seven.  The blessing of that adversity has lived and made him every day since, but to make him, the traditions of his fathers had to be forced out of his mind by formal education hundreds of miles from his northern Arizona home.  I weep for that little boy but cheer for the man he became and cherish my friendship with a man who had to justify two worlds.  Beware the traditions of your fathers so they do not become captivity your children must suffer to escape.

Not for any other purpose than trying and making the adversarial moment something I do not have to repeat.  I have repeated too many adversarial moments; there must be a better way to live!  For example, I was forced into bankruptcy twice!  I hope to learn from my mistakes, and if anyone knows how to raise money, improve earnings, and live more fully within one’s means, I am all ears!  If you know how to monetize a website, I will trade for this knowledge and assistance.  Bringing up another powerful tool of adversity, placing us into situations where we can help and will choose to be helped.Adversity Opportunity Quotes. QuotesGram

One of the reasons why some adversarial incidents last as long as they do is because we are proud people, and giving help is easier than accepting help and multitudes of times easier than asking for help.  My first time homeless, I had to get off the streets as walking the streets all night was interfering with my ability to work a complete shift.  Plus, it was cold, and those nights in Auburn, Washington in October and November were miserable!  So, I asked for help from a church, and asking for help was one of the most challenging events in my life.  In fact, asking for help has never gotten easier with time or experience.  I would rather get beat with a brick stick than ask for help; is it any wonder that pride is one of the seven deadly sins?Adversity | Adversity, Lds quotes, Church quotes

To ask for help, I felt I needed to have a plan to repay the money.  I demanded that I stick with that repayment schedule, even after being told, very kindly, that I did not have to repay and that there was no debt to repay.  How often do we make the pains and problems of adversity worse because we struggle to ask for help or feel a need to repay debts when there are no debts?  The reality is that when adversity appears to drag on and on without end, being a relentless taskmaster, many times I am the problem making adversity worse.Adversity Quotes By Famous People. QuotesGram

Bring us back to that garden near the Mount of Olives and the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Leaving me with a final question, how do I know when enough is sufficient?  I do not know how to answer this question, nor am I sure I am asking the right question; I merely know that adversity is not occurring because the intelligence’s of the universe want to see me struggle, adversity is not happening because I committed a crime or deserved being punished.  Adversity is a tool that helps us gain strength and I am weak, and the only way to get my attention is to put me in situations where I can grow through the things I suffer.  But help is always available; this is another lesson adversity teaches.  Help, assistance, support, we are not left bereft of these in our times of need, and this is a comfort and a hope.

Knowledge Check!Let us choose to be more charitable, relieve suffering where we can, ask for help when we need, and choose to make today a little better than yesterday through our involvement in the world around us.  I am not asking anyone to go broke helping those putting up their petitions, and it does not matter where the money goes.  Be the hand reaching out, and you WILL always find a hand reaching out to you; this is the final lesson adversity teaches us.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Woman!

Detective 4The majority of this article was drafted before the controversy with the SCOTUS nominee.  The intent is to honor the role of women and woman.  Affirming again that how you choose to live is your business and is between you and whatever god, God, or gods you worship.  Provided you allow others the same rights to life, liberty, and pursue happiness, I do not care how you choose to live.

How you choose to live should not denigrate anyone, let alone biologically living males and females, men and women.  Leading this discussion to answer the simple question posed by US Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) to SCOTUS nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, “What is a woman?”  Again, affirming the role and embodiment of a woman is more than the sum of her sexual parts; the question does have merit and deserves answered.  What is a woman?

The Bible relates that all creation occurred in six days; on the sixth day, the woman was created as the supreme creation of God, and then God rested on the seventh day.  Not here to argue religion, but to herald that final glorious act of creation, the woman.  How grateful I am for the women in my life.  Various scriptures relate that woman was created so man would not be alone, so a helpmeet was found for Adam, and the woman would be equal to the man in all things.  An interesting dichotomy was found in creating the woman: Adam was created of the dust, but the woman was created from Adam’s side.  According to biblical accounts, no other female in the species created replicated this pattern.  Clearly, there is a lesson for us to understand, acknowledge, and support socially through laws and societal norms.

Male v. FemaleWhat a unique creation the woman is.  Paradoxical in all things, a woman is soft and strong, inflexible and flexile, independent, and a great team member.  What family is complete without a woman and a man?  One of the great truths in life is that man and woman were created separate and dependent, and gender is an eternal construct.  Each person is born male and female, with their creator’s traits, personalities, and intelligence.  Yet what do we see in all modern societies; the continued blurring of lines, roles, and dehumanization of the grandeur of man and woman, but of the two woman, has been taking the worst hits.

Consider fashion; since the feminist movement began, fashion for women has warped and destroyed the modesty, chastity, and glory of a woman.  Fashionistas are trying to make the woman into a young boy at best.  Always to be “fashionable,” the woman is made to squeeze, pinch, and be uncomfortable.  Women’s shoes are a contortion and torture exercise, a balancing act sacrificing function and comfort for some twisted idea of style.  Long have I looked upon the inequality in fashion between men and women and been abhorred, disgusted, and discomfited by the base and profane ideas accepted as “stylish” and “fashionable.”  Women, why do you allow yourself and your high and holy station to be demeaned in the name of “fashion?”

Consider make-up and all the chemicals a woman is “supposed” to use to “improve” her beauty.  The emoluments alone are sufficient to baffle and bewilder, then add the smells and paints, and the woman is taught from day one that being natural is insufficient to being attractive or whole.  Yet, I know differently, for I have seen strong and powerful women who never touch these things and remain effective, regnant, and influential.  Tell me honestly, what you put on your face, to make up, what value is there in this process?  Who told you you needed these chemicals to be a woman?Virtuous Woman 3

Human biology, and I would presume all biological sciences, defines a female as having two X chromosomes, whereas males have an X and a Y chromosome.  I passed biology with high marks but failed zoology as I did not attend enough to be scored.  If there is a biologist who would like to weigh in, please feel free to correct me.  The developing fetus develops as either a male or female as growth occurs in the germinal, embryonic, and fetal stages of life.  The physical characteristics separating males and females are coded into a person’s DNA, and fourth-grade science was apparent on these topics.

Psychology in recent years has declared that a person’s choices can change the gender of a person, but the sex of a person remains coded genetically.  Thus, woman, as a biologically separate class of animals, have different bone structures, hair, glands, skin, hormones, etc., coded from birth, regardless of how that person chooses how to live.  Please allow me to make a strong point, a woman, and for that matter, a man, are more than the sum of their sexual parts.  If this were not true, then those men having sexual reassignment surgery to obtain female genitalia would automatically adopt all the characteristics of a woman upon the conclusion of surgery.  VaccineEstrogen and testosterone, hormones, and chemicals would not need to be supplemented, and the mental processes separating a man and a woman would not need to be fought so assiduously by those having their sex surgically or chemically altered.  Again, supporting the fact that it is psychology and not biology, establishing the difference between biological men and women, and the sum of their sexual parts is a non-issue.

On the topic of psychology, look to the results of choosing to live in a manner opposite of birth sex.  We discover suicides, depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental diseases prevalent in this population, not witnessed to the same degree in different populations.  Why the LGBTQ+ populations have such prevalent and significant occurrences of these mental diseases is a question modern society refuses to research as this has been termed out of bounds as potentially anti-LGBTQ+.  Thus, research supports that the populations of those choosing to live life in this manner have these mental problems but refuses to ask why; do you see a problematic situation?  All this while attacking the role, lifestyles, and position of woman.

20 Inspirational Quotes for Women All Around the WorldUnder the role of woman, there is a title worthy of acknowledgment, and the title is lady.  Like gender, being a lady is a choice, a lifestyle, and contains social obligations, societal expectations, and requires significant effort on the part of the woman to obtain the title lady.  For example, Nancy Reagan was a lady, Hilary Clinton is merely a woman.  What separates these two women is class, respect, dignity, and more, not politics, not personality, and definitely not lifestyles and social circles.  Being a lady requires sacrifice, making choices over long periods of time, and it demands total commitment to achieve.  Females become women through growth, females become ladies by choice and sacrifice, and are granted this title by others.

In attempting to make this distinction clearer, allow me to draw a more specific example between women and ladies.  Gretchen Wilson sings a song, “Redneck Woman.”  The song lists qualities of a woman, specifically a class of woman “Redneck women.”  No aspersions cast, no denigration, and no offense offered.  Frankly, I have deep respect for several redneck women.  I am also proud to know and respect a lot of women who ride horses as cowgirls and rodeo stars, some really kick butt women from the US Military, and more.  But, a lady is phenomenally different by choice, and this is the point.18 Inspiring Independent Women Quotes By Famous & Powerful Women

Great ladies of history include amongst their ranks Katherine Hepburn, Doris Day, Nancy Reagan, Barbara “The Silver Fox” Bush, Abagail Adams, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Sarah and Esther of Old Testament fame, Mary of New Testament fame, these and more are ladies.  First and foremost, these females are women, strong and independent, then they choose to become ladies and are honored more than mere women or as the sum of their sexual parts.  Women honored, revered, and respected for their contributions to womanhood, society, and sacrifices, women who practiced gentleness, compassion, respect, and kindness as quintessential aspects of their core identity, not for worldly fame or personal gain.  Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th President, honored two women as mothers and called both ladies of influence.  Yet, Disney would have us believe that all stepmothers are horrible creatures.  A vast chasm exists between women and ladies, and this is but one of the separations or classifications between women; by the choices the woman makes, a lady is created.Strong Women Quotes, Powerful Independent Woman Quotes

In trying to make a point about not hitting women, President Biden accidentally created a problem.  President Biden remarked that nobody should punch a woman in the face.  Distinguishing multiple times in the same speech that hitting a woman in the face, specifically, is not allowed.  As a kid, I learned not to hit women at all; even if being attacked by a woman, a man merely defends themselves restraining a woman if necessary, not to cause additional injury to herself or someone else.  But, Biden implied that only hitting a woman in the face is problematic; what a detestable creature is the man who would hit a woman!  I am not condoning violence in any shape or against any person.  For thousands of years and across hundreds of societies, those who would enact violence, society, rightly, has dolled out steeper punishments to those committing violence against women.Quotes from some of the most Famous Women in History ! - TechStory

Social laws throughout recorded history have always treated women differently.  Sometimes in history, this has been to the detriment and unequal treatment of women, and recently in history, treating women as equals to men is a fact that should be cheered and heralded.  Yet, along comes transgenderism demanding equal treatment under the law, not as a separate but equal category, but supplanting women, representing more attacks on women and womanhood by conspiring men for personal gain.  Don’t believe me; look at the story of the NCAA and the recent swimmer making news and winning championships, and tell me that conspiring men are not attacking the equality of women.  A charade of disrespect is cast before us, slandering women and womanhood for some amorphous and ambiguous term for lifestyle choices and not sound science, or respectful dialogue about laws.

Knowledge Check!I conclude where I began, respecting women, honoring ladies, and decrying the attack on women and womanhood as the demented and twisted attack of conspiring men and women who would see women destroyed upon the altar of political correctness.  Ladies, you have my respect, admiration, and sword, for you are deserving.  Women, you have my respect for the roles you fill as opposites of men and your work as mothers, teachers, and the co-equal helpmeet of men.  May those conspiring to destroy you be found buried in the hole they have dug for your destruction.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – The Power of, Reliability of, and Majesty in, the Law

Exclamation MarkFrank Crane begins our discussion with an absolute flash of brilliance from the Eternal Semaphore:

I am law.  I am Nature’s way.  By me comes order, unity.  In my hand, I hold three gifts: health, happiness, success.  I am more clever than the cleverest.  I am as old as God.  I am the secret of goodness; I am the horror of sin.  I am the eternal path, and besides me, there is none else.  Without me, men wander in the labyrinth of death.”

Do we understand what Frank Crane is trying to communicate?  Nature is ruled by law, God executes actions according to law, and justice and mercy can be served without compromising either.  Law is eternal, and nobody can escape the power and majesty of the law.  Consider another truth when understanding the majesty of law:

Give a man a chance, and you will often find him equal to the occasion.” – The Majesty of the Law (Short movie 1910).

What is the potential of a man; nobody but God knows for sure, but through obedience to the law, that man can become more than he ever thought possible.  I am listening to M*A*S*H 4077, episode 18, from season 9.  This is the episode where two buddies come in wounded, they enlisted together, they got injured, and the buddy discovers he has leukemia.  In the same episode, Father Mulcahey is expecting a visit from a Cardinal.  Two men were given a chance, faced with difficulty, who both rose to the magnitude of their stations.  What is Nature’s way; law.  R. W. Alger is quoted:

Laws are silent assessors of God.”

Father Mulcahy 2When the law is described, Leo J. Muir provides five words that are inseparably connected to describing what law is:

Eternal; Immortal; Immutable; Irrevocable; Inexorable!”

Looking back to Rome, how was Rome able to achieve greatness; they wrote their laws down and posted them above everyone’s head to symbolize that no one is above the law.  Writing down laws was nothing new, but holding everyone accountable to the law equally was unique in human history.  On this single principle, Rome rose in glory and failed ignominiously; everyone was accountable to the law equally.  Senator, pauper, soldier, general, no one could escape the equality under the law.  How did Rome lose their empire; Ceasar held themselves above the law.  At the second that law was to be applied unequally to the various classes of citizens in Rome, the fall of Rome was set in stone.

Flash forward a couple of thousand years, what do we find; the law is no longer the supreme entity governing civilized behavior.  For the cost of a lawyer, all laws become rubberized, twistable, and not applicable to those with enough money.  More than that, the tools of law, police officers, are not treated to the same laws they are enforcing, and the Monday morning quarterbacks strip them of their initiative, ability, and dignity.Gavel

The USA Today calls this Monday Morning Quarterbacking “transparency.”  As a point of fact, USA Today credits their actions to George Floyd’s death.  The officers involved in the George Floyd debacle followed standard and acceptable policing procedures.  George Floyd died from the drug combination in his system and his own stupidity.  Yet, the officers have been harassed into jail, their lives destroyed, their families ruined, all because the George Floyd inanity “looked bad” to the same media who hold themselves above the law.  The same laws that magically did not apply to Michael Jackson, politicians like Hillary Clinton, or even the Bidens and Romneys.  The media harps and complains when the rules are applied equally to them, and then harps and complain when the law equally applies to causes or people the media protects.  What destroyed Rome was the failure to equally apply the law to all citizens regardless of job, title, and friendliness with reporters.  H. W. Beecher sums the problem nicely:

Expedients are for the hour, principles for the ages.”

Laplace also pitches some additional power for consideration:

Truth and Justice are the immutable laws of social order.”

What is most often missing in modern society, any country globally; truth and justice are the laws of good social order.  Calling upon Frank Crane again, we find more consideration upholding the majesty of law:

Truth is the logic of the universe.  It is the reasoning of destiny; it is the mind of God.  And nothing that man can devise or discover can take its place.”The only constraints that you have on your income and advancement potential are those you place ...

What are the constraints upon a mans potential; look to the laws that man will obey.  Going back to Rome, Julius Caesar was but one of the more notable of Rome’s emperors; what moral laws did he obey; not many.  What social laws was he willing to follow; few to none.  Is it any wonder he was stabbed?  Modern society has the term “Arkancide,” it was invented to describe all the mysterious deaths, accidents, and happenstances that occur to people close to the Clinton political machine.  True, nothing has ever been proven, and neither President Clinton nor Hillary Clinton has ever faced justice, and I am not casting aspersions.  Merely noting there are a lot of incidents that need full and complete explanations, and transparency and accountability appear to be dodged by the Clintons at every turn.

Not that these two are the only politicians needing to face a judge and jury to explain and expound the whys and wherefores, merely noting they are definitely in the top ten of those needing to come clean about their actions while supposedly being “public servants.”  Hence the point of laws and the power in obeying the law.  When those who need to explain and expound come clean before the law, this concludes the speculation and truth and justice are meted to those needing it.

Image result for grace and truth came through jesus christ | Law quotes, Lovely quote, WordsThink of the great questions in modern society where truth and justice would solidly end speculation.  JFK’s murder, Epstein’s “suicide,” TWA Flight 800, Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, etc.  Yet, for all the world, the truth remains missing, and questions rightly remain.  What is the power of law; the ability to publish the truth.  Consider the wise words of Rousseau:

Truth is the most precious of all blessings; it is the eye of reason.”

Radcliffe detailed the same semaphore a little differently:

There is no progress in fundamental truth.  We may grow in [the] knowledge of its meaning, and in the modes of its application, but its great principles will forever be the same.”

Both authors are semaphoring the same message and provide clarity of reason to denounce the falsehood that the US Constitution is a “living breathing document.”  This constitutional republic’s foundational principles of the American experiment are not living or breathing but are alive only through our continuing growth of knowledge in how we apply the principles.  Only those who would destroy the law talk of the principles as “living and breathing,” easily changed,” or “plasticized” into any shape to justify the application of law to let the guilty free and punish the innocent.Law Cartoon # 6402 - ANDERTOONS

Cast your mind upon the first amendment to the US Constitution, also the first of the rights discussed in the US Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Why is this the first right in the US Bill of Rights; without this right being acknowledged by the government, the executors of government would have zero restraint before forcing people to believe what they choose them to believe.  Communism in China requires the CCP member to carry their “little red book” close to their hearts.  Mimicking and parroting the twisted ideals of Mao, who learned them from Marx.  Equally as important is the final phrase, the “right of the people to PEACEABLY assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances [emphasis mine].”  Tell me, how often have riots been “peaceful petitions for grievances to be redressed” in any of the recent years?  I repeat only for emphasis, when you block traffic, start fires, yell, scream, destroy property, etc., you are no longer “peaceably assembled” you are a terrorist group, and the total weight of the law should come down upon; you!Ravi Zacharias Quote: "Justice is the handmaiden of truth, and when truth dies, justice is ...

Consider all the “criminal justice reform,” “bail reform,” and other legislated and judicial chicanery foisted upon the American citizenry.  Surely Colton and Joseph Parker are semaphoring an urgent message:

Truth, like light, travels only in straight lines.”

Falsehood is in a hurry; it may be at any moment detected and punished.  Truth is calm, serene; its judgments on high; its king cometh out of the chambers of eternity.”

Leo J. Muir asks a question worthy of deep consideration, “Why this rigorous inflexibility of law?”  The answer should be apparent, especially when considering Rome and comparing America’s growth and current deterioration, “The immutability of law is the assurance of progress and the guaranty of justice upon the Earth.”  The US Constitution cannot be an easily plasticized document and still be a foundational bedrock of this constitutional republic.  A stone cannot be like silly putty, a non-Newtonian fluid.  Solid one moment, flexible another, shatterable, and resilient.  Laws cannot be a law and be shapeable and moldable to a situation, for then it is no longer a law, but a good suggestion applicable only to specific situations and people.  Is the point clear?truth : alcoholism

William Ernest Henley, in his immortal poem, “Invictus,” declares this immutable truth poignantly in the final stanza:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

The entire poem Invictus is a declaration of the majesty of law, the power of law, and the reliability of law.  Obedience of law does produce fruit or consequences for choices made, and in that choice and consequence cycle comes the justice and mercy of the law.  Once, I was asked, when I step before the bar of God, for a final judgment, do I want a lawyer or an advocate?  I do not want a lawyer, for a lawyer only plays with the law.  I want an advocate who knows the law, is aware of my good and ill choices, and can plead my case as if my fate was worth the universe’s weight.  How would you answer, and why?  Do you understand the role of law better?  What will you do right now to honor the law, even if in honoring the law you must loyally oppose those who are twisting the law for personal gain?

Knowledge Check!Let me be perfectly clear; I abhor the suffering the Ukrainian people are experiencing in the strongest language.  I denounce the actions of Russia in creating violence.  But, Zelensky is using the excuse of a Russian invasion to destroy the laws of Ukraine and create a dictatorship.  These actions are as reprehensible to me as the invasion of Ukraine!  Yet, if the American citizenry does not awake and arise, using the laws currently written, we too will see ourselves in a similar position.  Where the laws of America are twisted out of shape and then used as a cudgel to beat the American spirit out of her people, and destroy the last bastion of freedom on Earth.  The saving grace for America is her laws, and her citizenry needs to demand that all are equal under the law, for the innocent to escape and the guilty to be punished.

Let us now understand the role of law and thank “Whatever gods may be” for the immutable power of law!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – The Law of the Harvest

Exclamation MarkConsider a well-known truth that never appears to be fully understood, does a man sow thistles and reap strawberries?  Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” lists this as the fifth semaphore, and of the six semaphores, this one is probably my favorite to discuss.  Not because I am sowing rocks and reaping corn and beans, but because I often sow rancid vegetables and reap garbage, then wonder why I cannot improve my harvest.  As the writings on flash four stated, “Thy speech betrayeth thee,” I am a slow learned and generally only really grasp things after experiencing some consequences that would kill others.  As we discuss the Law of the Harvest, please note I am not here to convince or convert, merely to help myself.  If you find value in this topic, join me, teach me, that we may both then learn more perfectly.

The law of the harvest is straightforward; many farmers know this law cold, “You reap what you sow.”  If you sow lima beans, you do not raise grapes.  If you are sowing carrots, you cannot harvest apples.  No matter how many times you plant them, Cheerios do not sprout a doughnut tree; I know as I planted a LOT of Cheerios.  Bubble gum, when planted, never grows into a bubble gum tree; my mother lied!

Yet, with this mindset, many people, myself included, become depressed, disconnected from reality, and mentally unstable.  Thinking, oh, I can sow gossip and truth, and equity and justice will be shown to me.  I can tell lies, cheat, steal, then become rich, famous, and never have any negative consequences.  I can take and plant some cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, etc., in my body and remain healthy, strong, active, and never suffer mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  The law of the harvest doesn’t work like this, yet, this remains the greatest living lie.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

From the eternal semaphore comes the following:

Be NOT Deceived!  [emphasis mine]”

Now, consider how many people drink alcohol and expect not to suffer a hangover.  Consider the people consuming vast amounts of sugar, in all its various forms, who think they will never suffer diabetes, become overweight, or suffer any consequences from all that sugar.  My aunt is a great woman, fantastic artist, amazingly kind and generous person, and a chocoholic.  She never thought about the consequences of consuming chocolate because the research shows chocolate is healthy; she never could overcome the mental illness she suffered from that the chocolate was a comforting influence.  Her family mourns her passing!

The law of the harvest is a stern warning and an incredible promise.

He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

The pattern is evident for those struggling who sow goodness, kindness, and happiness.  Hold on; your harvest WILL come, and it will be glorious.  In the same breath, those sowing hate, envy, strife, malice, greed, and so much more, your harvest is also coming, and I feel awful for what your harvest will be.  For the law of the harvest comes with a profound sentiment:

God will not be mocked.”Frederick William Robertson Quote: "You reap what you sow - not something else, but that. An act ...

I promise, there is a God, an atonement IS available through His Son, and the Holy Ghost is real and powerful.  The enclosed sentiment in the Law of the Harvest remains my comfort when harvesting the bitter fruits my heart grows.  Yes, many times, I quake for the thought that I desperately need to find a way to raise a better crop on the stony ground of my heart.  Long have I prayed for a change of heart, for a line from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” rings forever in my mind:

The soil of a man’s heart is stony ground.  A man grows what he can, and he tends it.  ‘Cause, what you buy is what you own.  And what you own… always comes home to you.”

If you get nothing more out of this flash than the need to change fertilizers and seeds, all with an eye to improving your harvest, I have accomplished my goal.  Confucius is quoted as saying, “Our headstrong passions shut the doors of our souls against God.”  What great counsel, our passions are the seeds, the consequences are the fruit, and the law of the harvest governs whether we will have a harvest to enjoy or curse, and we choose how to value that harvest.

Bear with me a moment; I might have lost a few of you.  Let me explain.  As a kid, we often had gardens, and I was regularly on the working end of a hoe killing weeds.  I cursed those weeds; I despised every second I wielded that hoe in the garden.  My cherub-like demeanor was nowhere to be found working those garden rows!  Then came the endless days of harvesting, canning, storing, and eating that which could not be stored; I still was NOT a happy person.  Ever eat zucchini for weeks on end because that horrible stuff reproduces like rabbits in perpetual heat whose water is full of Viagra?You reap what you sow. #bible #liveBigly #life #affiliate #quote #inspiration #message #world # ...

That is the point; when the harvest comes, and a harvest always comes, we choose how we value that which is being harvested.  My father tried hard to teach me this lesson, but all I ever saw were the endless hours sweating in a kitchen preparing jars for canning, the blisters from hoeing the weeds, and the time spent doing that which we would eventually purchase in cans as winter dragged on and on.  I could not see any value in gardening, so the blessings of the harvest were lost on me.  Headstrong passions blinded my eyes to the blessings of the harvest, and I cursed the day I was conceived.  Confucius is correct, and I have witnessed the problems with headstrong passions interfering with the Law of the Harvest many times since.

I am also experiencing the truth from Cicero:

A youth of sensuality and intemperance delivers over to old age a worn-out body.”

I would add, an intemperate youth also yields a worn-out mind!  Having observed this as a youth, I thought I could escape the problems of being intemperate, and I can honestly proclaim, I was wrong!  Since my youth, I lifted objects heavier than practical; I gloried in the strength of my body and pushed it to the absolute limit many times.  What am I reaping; I was disabled by the time I was 30.  I am now older but not wiser.  I still want to push my boundaries without regard for consequences and wind up on the floor, in hospital, or mentally unable to think properly for weeks on end.  As a kid, when my parents were told of one of their kids being punished (a not infrequent occurrence), they regularly said, “Well, he brought that on himself.”  To quote Ray Stevens, “Yeah, I Did!”  I did bring on myself the harvest of intemperance and am delivering a worn-out body and mind to old-age.  There are lots of seeds we plant and many different types of harvests we reap.  When valuing the harvest, choose wisely how you evaluate the crop.#everything #you #do #say #choice #soon #later #quote #lessons #learned #life | Lessons learned ...

Pliny, more famously known as Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny, the Elder,” was a Roman author, naturalist, philosopher, and naval and army commander.  He is quoted as saying:

Lust is an enemy to the purse, a foe to the person, [a] canker to the mind, a corrosive to the conscience, a weakness of the wit, a besotter of the senses, and finally a mortal bane to all of the body.”

Lust is regularly only thought of as an intense sexual desire.  This type of lust definitely fits what Pliny is warning about; however, lust is also an overwhelming craving, unassailable desire, and intense eagerness or enthusiasm.  Yet, many might not fully grasp the semaphore Pliny is flashing; Henry Wordsworth Longfellow might be easier to understand:

The blossoms of passion, gay and luxuriant flowers, are bright and full of fragrance, but they beguile us and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly.”

Henry Giles and John Howe are both flashing the same message, trying to capture our attention and teach the same lesson:

The passions are at once tempters and chastisers.  As tempters, they come with garlands of flowers on brows of youth; as chastisers, they appear with wreaths of snakes on the forehead of deformity.  They are angels of light in their delusions; they are fiends of torment in their afflictions.”

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

What do you regret from your youth as the first tastes of passion’s deadly fruits?  Let me speak plainer; of course, you remember your first time in love, the rush of passions start, and the heartbreak of closure.  Do you see the seeds of passion and the harvested fruits as beneficial or deadly?  I know my answers to this question and understand more fully why modesty, chastity, and virtue are to be honored, respected, and cherished.  You choose how you evaluate your experiences.You reap what you sow | Everyday quotes, Peace quotes, One word inspiration

I currently work with a person who curses their ex-wife in the vilest language imaginable, yet, they praise their child in the same breath and bless the day they came into their life.  What seeds are being planted in the child, the co-workers, and society?  Will the bitter fruit be understood and evaluated as good?  Time will tell.  Byron summed this semaphore perfectly:

Vice digs her own voluptuous tomb.”

Of all the advice given, I wish I had observed the following more perfectly, and while I do not know the author, many have semaphored the following message in one form or another:

Shun the obscene!”

A long time back, exactly when escaped me, I watched a comedian who told some off-color stories for the audience’s amusement.  Those seeds bore some of the most pernicious weeds in my mind, choking out life and pleasure, goodness, and all things clean and kind.  Killing those weeds is a constant exercise, some would classify as futile.  But, I have chosen differently and fought those weeds desiring something better, and the fight continues.  I do not find swearing, debauchery, lewdness, immorality, perversion, and such amusing anymore.  When I came to myself, I cleaned out a LOT of entertainment, removing books, magazines, music, movies, and more in an effort to cling to the good and shun the obscene.  I had to re-learn lessons from childhood.

Now I look back on those mistakes, those seeds planted carelessly, and the bitter and thorny weeds I now fight and wish I could help others understand the same lesson I learned.  Not shunning the obscene leads to problems immeasurable.  In the US Navy, I had a good acquaintance who went to a party, was slipped a mickey, and woke up having been raped by another female.  I counseled my friend to report this event and get tested.  My friend declined because she “did not know if she liked it or not.”  I mourned my friend that day and many days after as she experienced what happened after not shunning the obscene.  Before she revealed her true self, her rapist was a person I respected and who was removed from military service for other actions.  But the crime of rape went unreported, a sad commentary indeed!  John Howe was absolutely correct:

Sensual delights soon end in loathing, quickly bring a glutting surfeit, and degenerate into torment.”

Quotes You Reap What You SowMy friend’s experience in the US Navy always brings a poem to mind courtesy of Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
as to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace
.”

The truth of the matter remains permanently etched upon our souls or consciousness, “You reap what you sow.”  We inherently know this truth, and then become sidetracked by temptation, which comes in the forms of misery, depression, beauty, emotions, and more; wrapped in shiny foil, the fruit inside is always bitter, but the first bite is a temptation that over time becomes that which we would have died to avoid.  Robert Southey, the English poet, semaphored this message thusly:

They who engage in iniquitous designs deceive themselves into thinking that they will go so far and no farther.  One fault begets another; one crime makes another necessary.  Thus downward they go into the depths of guilt, which at the commencement of their career they would have died rather than incurred.”

QuestionCan you relate to your experiences with planting and harvesting?  What are you teaching and semaphoring?  Dr. Johnson adds a comment worth remembering: “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  While Dr. Johnson is correct, there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there are chain cutters available through repentance and a path back.  There is a reason to hope!  Not speaking religiously, nor am I here to convert anyone to any religious flavor, merely to alert those needing it that there is a way to clean your mind and heart, that your future may produce a better harvest.  Even if you might have to harvest garbage for a while as the ground cleans itself of the impurities dumped into it.  Mr. Muir quotes Simons, a reference unknown, regarding the path:

Impure thoughts awaken impure feelings, lead to impure expressions, and beget impure actions, and these lead to imbecility both of body and of mind, and to the ruin of all that is noble and pure in character.”

We who have survived youthful transgressions understand this path perfectly.  Note, we live in an age of severe iconoclasm, where every day, we are bombarded by attacks on established beliefs by institutions built for the sole purpose of tearing down others.  Who cannot replace their depravity and destruction with anything wholesome, good, pure, or worthwhile.  Where beliefs of religion, societal norms, and institutions representing the living and breathing were destroyed for the wanton pleasure of the iconoclasts.  The age of the iconoclasts began with the 1960s, and nothing built since is worth the pain and suffering we are experiencing now.  Worse, those iconoclasts from the 1960s are now teachers and professors, elected leaders, and their legacy of destruction stares them in the face while they laugh and take pleasure at your suffering.Quotes About Reaping What You Sow. QuotesGram

With each successive generation of iconoclastic behavior, the succeeding generations are a factor of 10 worse than their parents.  Think of how many generations have come and multiplied this abhorrent behavior into society.  Is it any wonder as a society we are in the mess we are in, where criminals get off, the victims are repeatedly punished, good is heralded as evil and evil for good.  But, I promise there is a “Balm in Gilead,” there is a path forward that leads back to life, growth, happiness, goodness, and a morally upright society.  Shunning the obscene is the first step!

Knowledge Check!We must be the generation that begins the repair job from the iconoclast’s destruction.  The ravages inflicted upon us will require re-learning, embracing hope, building faith, and acting charitably through faith and hope to act charitably first to ourselves, then to our families and friends, and then to the broader societies we all live in.  Whether you embrace a religious community or not, the imperative to “Shun the obscene:” the need to sow better crops to reap a more desirable harvest valued by others is universal.  Not to create fervor and fanaticism, but to create a people dedicated to improving ourselves and after improving ourselves to improve the world around us.

May we all enjoy a better harvest is my hope!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – Speech: An Honest and Frank Discussion

Bobblehead DollBefore I begin, I need to make clear that I am a full-on total failure on this topic.  No ifs, ands, or buts, I struggle with controlling my thoughts and fight continuously to curb my tongue.  My intent is to help be a road sign of what traps to avoid, for maybe I can then learn to improve.  As a soldier, I struggled but appeared to master my spoken words for a time.  But controlling thoughts, especially those where I want to fight, kick, and scream, remains a challenge.  As a sailor, forget about it; I even learned new language and taught how to swear more effectively.  Oi, I do need to change this aspect of me!  I am reminded of the words from an anonymous author:

Of thine unspoken word thou art master; thy spoken word is master of thee.”

Of all the truths most evident in today’s culture, none compares to this simple truth speak, and your words become your master.  In the New Testament, Gospel of Matthew, 26:73, the reader finds the following:

Thy speech betrayeth thee…”

While said to identify a Galilean, the sentiment remains particularly powerful; consider the axiom “swearing like a sailor.”  As a child, when a person broke out in a rainbow-colored diatribe, people automatically assumed the speaker had been or was currently a sailor.  I respected several people who constantly swore as they were tough, rugged, and individualistic.  When I used those exact words, I wound up eating a lot of soap!  Indeed, your speech betrays who you are, your intelligence, and your willingness to conform to a societal communication standard.https://i0.wp.com/www.quotehd.com/imagequotes/authors4/publilius-syrus-quote-speech-is-the-mirror-of-the-soul-as-a-man-speaks.jpg

Speaking of my childhood, I was raised in a home by hippies, but we had three rules we were obliged to follow:

  1. Thou shalt use the King’s English.
  2. Thou shalt properly pronounce and annunciate your words.
  3. Thou shalt not use any word if you do not know the meaning of that term and can find it in the dictionary.

The dictionary of my youth was not full and complete, and I have long since learned that there are many dictionaries in existence.  That being said, there are ways, mannerisms, and styles of speaking that our constant moving introduced us to; having now traveled ¾’s of the way around the globe, and having met thousands upon thousands of people, the rules of social etiquette where speech is concerned remain powerfully appropriate.  Each society has its communication standards, requirements, and even specialized language.  With that said, general society also has its own rules, styles, and conditions that, when in public, should be respected.Speech Therapist Quotes. QuotesGram

For example, I had spoken to people who chose to be offended when a man spoke harshly, or with colorful language, in front of children or to a female.  I mistakenly dropped a colorful rant in front of some elderly people who were strong enough of character to issue a verbal harangue to me for breaching social etiquette.  How grateful I am for their remonstrations.  The words of Solomon come to mind:

The tongue of the wise is in his heart; the heart of the fool is in his mouth.”

It never surprises me how often this flash from the eternal semaphore is being communicated to the world, “Hold thy tongue” for “Thy speech betrayeth thee!”  All through the history of man, many a philosopher, author, speaker, and leader has uttered words to be careful how and what you say, for “Thy speech betrayeth thee.”  One of my favorite from this category is Halifax, who is quoted as saying:

True merit is like a river; the deeper it is, the less noise it makes.”

It was my very great displeasure to work for a person in the US Navy who was a fool.  No merit, no redeeming grace, lazy, obnoxious, and he had risen to the maximum level of his incompetence as a Fireman (E3), and his current rank was Second-Class Petty Officer (E-5).  This person could not be trusted to complete any work but talked a good game; the department chief pulled me aside and told me on my first day, “He talks a good game.”  The chief meant this dude was full of BS, but the chief also highly favored this person, and it was my fault I spoke better and less.  Hence, I was to be punished with every dirty job, horrible detail, and tedious task until this twit left the ship.  Truly, every time he opened his mouth, his ignorance was displayed for the world to see, and I often swore his jaw was double-hung to allow him to blather tediously 24/7.  Even sleeping, this guy’s ignorance was displayed heroically.Speech Quotes. QuotesGram

I do not know the author, but the following is spot-on:

Look out for your tongue; it resides in a wet place and may slip.”

You can tell the kind of wheels a man has in his head by the spokes that come out of his mouth.”

Elbert Hubbard is the author of the best one; it has been quoted to me numerous times.  “After all, perhaps it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”  The last three quotes strongly introduce a truth, knowledge is a check on the tongue.  Knowledge is a composite of education (formal and informal), time, and reflection after experiences.  The idea of knowledge is to allow yourself the time to fail into wisdom, to reflect on better paths, and spend time discovering how to improve using the formal and informal education received.  There are certainly times when I think I have failed enough; I have sufficiently reflected and obtained the education, when do I obtain the knowledge?  These moments serve to pop my ever capacious ego!"Mend your speech a little, Lest you may mar your fortunes." - Kwize

Jeremy Taylor provides counsel on the power of knowledge worthy of consideration:

Great knowledge, if it be without vanity, is the most severe bridle of the tongue.  For I have heard all the noise and pratings of the pool, the croakings of frogs and toads, are hushed and appeased when the light of a candle or a torch is brought upon them.  Every beam of reason and every ray of knowledge checks the dissolution of the tongue.”

Since knowledge has been defined, knowledge without vanity, let’s review vanity.  I kick against a lot of pricks.  I hate bullies, liars, and despise thieves with the passion equivalent to a thousand suns.  Yet, vanity provides an interesting lesson; excessive pride, conceit, worthlessness, pointlessness, or futility describe vanity.  Superiority is synonymous with vanity.  While I do not feel superior to anyone, I have been counseled to stop showing superiority many times.  I am not vane in my appearance, and I am not conceited (possessing fanciful ideas of oneself worth); I would think vanity is part of my problem in curbing my tongue—knowledge without vanity, a worthwhile subject to study.https://i0.wp.com/statusmind.com/images/2015/01/Smart-Quotes-54212-statusmind.com.jpg

Bringing up an interesting point; in fact, it was a question I asked a supervisor in the US Navy.  If I possess a lot of knowledge from reading and learning, is it vanity (or superiority) to readily use that knowledge?  My bosses told me I was narcissistic for possessing all this knowledge and wanting to share it; I pointedly disagreed.  Yet, even when dropping foul deprecations, my speech still betrayed me, and I was considered a fool for “casting my pearls before swine.”  Leo J. Muir was given fatherly advice through his older brother:

Keep your feet warm; your head cool; your mouth shut; your eyes open, and you will get along all right.”

What wonderful advice; I wish, like anything, I could apply that last bit about keeping my mouth shut.  I answer when someone asks a question, even when I shouldn’t.  I tend to start conversations, especially when I should not.  I am so excited to share; I even talk to myself and about myself in the third person, just to speak.  I wonder if this reflects what Homer was talking about:

The smaller the caliber of mind, the greater the bore of a perpetually open mouth.”

Since moving to an employment situation where I work from home, I have learned the truth of this old rhyme:

A wise old owl lived in an oak;
The more he saw, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard;
Now wasn’t that a wise old bird?

Often I have asked, how do I live more like this wise old bird?  The answers elude me.  Yet, knowledge is power, the power to act, think, and speak.  But, knowledge is not authority and authority is the key to understanding when and where to speak.  On my first day in the US Army, I made this mistake on a grand scale; you would think I would have learned over time, or at least over a couple of hundred push-ups.  You would be mistaken, though; I did not learn what I should have learned long before my first day in the US Army.  I met some incredible people while pushing Fort Leonardwood to China, but that’s a story for a different venue.Quotes About Public Speaking. QuotesGram

In Christendom, there is a story, true or not; it relays a truth.  As Jesus was about to bestow speech upon a man mute from birth, it is related that the Savior of the world stopped for a moment, cast his eyes heavenward, and paused in contemplative thought.  Considering how great a power He was about to bestow upon a person.  The ability to get into and out of trouble using speech, a faculty of passion, power, and peril; indeed, the Master might hesitate, and so should we.  In reading and watching the unfolding drama in Ukraine, I am often caught thinking about the peril in speaking, especially when President Biden opens his mouth.  Socrates was right, “Know thyself!” kingly counsel indeed.

Interestingly, and in conclusion, there is one more power-filled truth to expound upon, the words uttered represent the heart.  When “Thy speech betrayeth thee,” the words uttered represent the heart displayed for good or ill.  Of all the truths discussed, this one brings me to pause before discussing further.  Long have I prayed for a change of heart, for a line from Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” rings forever in my mind:

The soil of a man’s heart is stony ground.  A man grows what he can, and he tends it.  ‘Cause, what you buy is what you own.  And what you own… always comes home to you.”

Knowledge Check!I have tended some bitter fruit because that was all the stony ground my heart would grow.  I own that bitter fruit, and bitter fruit comes home, generally because I opened my mouth.  Surely, “Thy speech betrayeth thee.”  May you, dear reader, find wisdom in my sign and learn better, so you may teach more perfectly.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 5

I-CareI had originally planned on writing something else today, but my mental train was derailed, caught on fire, and I had to change my plans.  18 March 2022, I received an email signed from Sonja Brown of the Albuquerque VAMCS, who discussed how it takes 10-20 years for the VA to make a decision about which clinics to close, how to build new clinics, and the possibility of change (not) occurring in the New Mexico VA Medical System.  Doesn’t that warm your heart; two decades is a maximum timeframe for ending unprofitable clinics to save the taxpayer money.  Now multiply this problem by every government agency, and we find the reason for reducing the government bloat!VA 3

Luckily, I still have VA-OIG reports to discuss, not that I got behind, but February and March have been especially prolific.  In January, the pace set appears to be sustained, at least for the first quarter of 2022.  Some have commented that I do not write very often about the National Cemetery side of the VA’s voluminous bureaucracy.  Your wish is granted; a whistleblower reported that the Houston National Cemetery was not being operated properly.  The VA-OIG substantiated “some of the claims made by the whistleblower.”  However, the leadership at the Houston National Cemetery had, for the most part, already begun making changes before the VA-OIG arrived.

Thus, I congratulate the Houston National Cemetery leadership for being almost proactive and 100% more responsible than any leadership in the VHA and VBA.  My heartiest gratitude to you and your staff.  May you continue to show initiative, forward-thinking, and attention to detail, and may the rest of the VA’s hegemonically impotent leaders learn from your example.VA 3

A Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection (CHIP) was conducted at the James J. Peters VAMC in the Bronx, NY.  While a lot of the report is cookie-cutter, similar to all the other CHIPs that cross my inbox, I remain fascinated with a frequently used term from the report, “Servant Leadership.”  From the website linked, we find the following to define “servant leadership” at the VA:

We are all leaders, all of the time.
Servant Leadership is an approach for optimizing the delivery of client-centered services by strengthening employees to be an engaged and empowered workforce.  The philosophy and practice of Servant Leadership is one that emphasizes caring, authenticity, and putting clients and employees first, and ahead of personal goals or leadership aspirations.  Servant Leaders strive to meet both organizational objectives and the growth / development of their workforce.”

Please note ALL the grammar and punctuation errors are included in that quote.  Far be it for me to pass along any advice on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and proper communication techniques.  But, even this quoted material reflects the fact that there is a Grand Canyon-like chasm between DC leadership and the worm’s eye-view in a VA Hospital, VBA operations center, or the National Cemetery.  Be a leader at the VA, and you will NOT last your probationary period after hire; I have experienced this personally!VA 3

Worse, try and help the VA from the worm’s eye to see the problems and fix the issues, and the VA Leadership will chop you into little tiny pieces and feed your carcass to the fishes.  Yet, every single CHIP report mentions problems with “servant leadership” as opportunities for growth and development.  More bureaucratese for designed incompetence as an excuse, the VA-OIG will believe.  How sick to death I am of these shenanigans!  Don’t believe me; check out the full CHIP report, it’s linked above, read a few of the other CHIP reports from the VA-OIG, and discuss the actual problems you think the VA is experiencing.

Servant Leadership is officially defined, by Purdue University, quoting Robert Greenleaf from 1970, as:

The servant-leader is servant first.  It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first … a philosophy and set of practices that [enrich] the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.”

Notice a problem between the two definitions of servant leadership?  Recognize an issue yet with the entire concept of servant-leadership?  Let me give you a hint through a question, What does a “just and caring world” really define?  The whole concept of servant leadership is easily twisted, plasticized, and framed in a way that removes liberty, destroys justice, and wrecks havoc on a free society, all because the philosophy sounds good, but the practice leaves chaos and destruction in the name of creating a more just and caring world.Servant Leadership and Health Care: Critical Partners in Changing Times

I am not condemning anyone who wants to try and improve their leadership skills through learning servant leadership or applying some of the servant leadership philosophies in their leadership toolbox.  I am merely stating that care and caution should be used when trying to reshape the world on such ambiguous and amorphous terms as “just and caring.”  The VA is trying to force a leadership template for all leaders to follow.  This type of leadership philosophy warps the world and makes leaders into managers with excuses for failure, e.g., designed incompetence.

On a different topic, please read the following carefully:

The VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reviews nonpharmaceutical proposals submitted to the VA National Acquisition Center (NAC) for Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts valued annually at $10 million or more for high tech medical equipment, $3 million or more for all other FSS contracts, $100,000 or more based on manufacturer sales under dealers or resellers, or as requested by the NAC.”

Here is why the above is critical:

The VA-OIG determined commercial disclosures were accurate, complete, and current for only 24 of the 103 proposals reviewed.  This means 24 proposals were reliable for determining negotiation objectives and fair and reasonable pricing.  The remaining 79 could not reliably be used for negotiations until the noted deficiencies were corrected.  The OIG recommended lower prices than offered for 76 proposals.

If you, in your employment, had a 23% accuracy rate, and someone else had to come behind you, redoing all of your work, how long would you last in your job?  Note there are still 3 proposals that do not meet regulations and requirements out of 103 contract reviews.  Read the rest of this incredible report for yourself and know what your elected representatives are failing to curtail and control.  Then answer the following question: “Why should we re-elect ANY of the current elected officials?”VA 3

On the topic of designed incompetence of an almost criminal nature, we find the VBA still making headlines and breaking rules of ethics, morals, and logic with aplomb!  Before getting into the VA-OIG report, it is crucial to note that the VBA has exclusively gone to a third-party model for Compensation and Pension exams.  The most important part of the VBA’s operations, the comp and pen exam, is now conducted solely by third-party contracts companies.  A VA doctor sees a person trying to get their benefits from the VBA no longer but a third-party physician’s assistant at best, who is (supposedly) overseen by a medical doctor.  The lack of transparency and the complicated processes of the VBA are gordian, and transparency is hidden; read that as missing entirely.You know it's true - Imgflip

Here comes the VA-OIG, not to the rescue, but to rub salt into the wounds of veterans whose claims continue to be denied for lack of evidence.

“[The] VBA complied with the requirements of the law by reinstating 69 questionnaires on its public-facing website.  However, disability benefits questionnaires that were incomplete, inaccurate, or of questionable authenticity from non-VA medical providers were not always processed correctly when determining benefits entitlement—causing underpayments of about $13,900 and overpayments of $74,800 over the nine months studied.

Improper processing occurred because VBA lacked sufficient controls to ensure disability benefits questionnaires from non-VA medical providers were properly relied on when determining entitlement to benefits.”

Let’s let this sink in for a moment.  The VBA moved to a third-party model, then denied access to the VBA’s questionnaires to determine benefits, then had to be forced to reinstate the questionnaires.  Improper VBA processes and procedures led to over and underpayments of benefits, and claims processors still do not have the tools to make informed and logical decisions reliably.  Best of all, veracity (questionable authenticity) remains questioned in the process when the third-party contractor submits the forms for benefits.VA 3

You cannot make this stuff up; fiction writers can come nowhere close to creating a story this inane!  Is designed incompetence as a concept clear now?  The VBA developed a process using a more expensive model and then questioned the inputs for veracity from the contracted party, and the veteran suffered more!  Do you think the VBA intentionally designs its processes to help and create a more just and caring world (servant leadership)?  I think the VBA intentionally designed their processes to screw veterans in the hope they die before the government ever pays money on their claims.  Let me know what you think in the comment section, for this is a travesty of justice anyway I slice the data.

As a veteran who has been trying to get a compensation and pension decision corrected since leaving the service in 2004, having suffered both overpayments, which I had to repay, underpayments, and erroneous overpayments where the funds paid were (eventually) refunded, the news from the VBA designed incompetence is a particular form of hell for me to read and discuss.  I have had the third-party comp and pen exam doctors refuse to see me three times in the last two years.  Delaying a VBA decision repeatedly.  I have had the VBA reject the third-party data and a new comp and pen exam scheduled, rescheduled because I cannot wear a mask, and then conducted by a hostile and infuriating provider who refused to listen to the patient.Are you an Incompetent Developer? - Web Development & Web Design Blog

When veterans talk about fighting the VBA for a fair and honest decision, they mean a literal fight!  Don’t take my word for it; ask veterans how their comp and pen exam has gone; when you find those struggling with the VBA, listen carefully to their stories, and you will hear very similar stories.  The VBA represents government inefficiency, designed incompetence, and bureaucratic inertia to the Nth degree!

The following link might, or might not, work as intended; the link directs you to all testimony recorded from congressional hearings.  If it works, you will be able to read the statement of David Case, Deputy IG, who was testifying before the HVAC subcommittee on drafted legislation “Quality Education for Veterans Act of 2022”.  A brief synopsis from his testimony is included below:

This bill would significantly strengthen the OIG’s efforts to prevent fraud in VA’s education and training programs.  Given that more than $10 billion in taxpayer funds is expended on education and training programs each year and hundreds of thousands of veterans, service members, and family members receive these benefits, the OIG supports efforts to strengthen programmatic and beneficiary protections.  The statutory changes in the draft bill do not appear to be burdensome or costly to educational institutions or VA, and yet they have the potential to make a significant impact on the amount of education fraud that occurs.  The OIG agrees that these changes would work to lessen the harm suffered by veterans and beneficiaries and reduce losses to the government.”

Ever wonder how much a VA-OIG inspection costs or where and how the VA-OIG is funded; here is the answer and the problem.  Tell me, why is the VA-OIG not financed from the VA budget?  Simple question, not hard, and requires an explanation!  The explanation should be detailed, transparent, and I guarantee that the answer will reflect the designed incompetence and failure to scrutinize the executive branch adequately.  The VA is one of the few, if not the only, Federal Government Agency with a specialized inspectorate general, dedicated solely to independent oversight and continuous improvement of the VA.  I think the VA-OIG might be failing in its mission.VA 3

Fraud is rampant in the VA because the VA refuses to act, work, change, and improve.  How will throwing more money at VA programs alleviate the hurt, stop the fraud, and spur continuous improvement?  Almost every week, my inbox fills with accounts of fraud occurring, but the roots of the problems are never addressed, and people are not held accountable for failing to perform the work they were hired to complete.  Failing to hold people responsible promotes fraud, waste, and abuse.  Allowing whistleblowers to be fired promotes a discouraged whistleblowing culture, and the perpetrators are allowed to continue their nefarious misdeeds!  How is the VA-OIG going to tackle these systemic issues in the culture at the VA?  When will continuous improvement begin; I do not want to miss growth and development!

Knowledge Check!America, the VA is sick.  A symptom not a disease; the larger disease is a refusal to act morally upright.  The majority of those employed in the behemoth of government service have little to no moral compunction, are not servants of the taxpayer, and consider themselves “Too BIG to fail.”  We need a smaller government, and I hope this message helps enlighten and support shrinking the government!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Flashes – How is your quest for JOY coming?

Bobblehead DollLong before I read Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” I knew I wanted to find joy.  But, I was stuck; what is joy and how do I identify joy were my first two obstacles.  Yet, from many sources comes the following, in many different forms:

Man is that he might find joy.”

What is Joy?

An appeal to the dictionary confuses joy and happiness, forming part of the problem where understanding joy is concerned.  The closest definition for joy coming from the dictionary is to define joy as an ecstatic feeling, pleasure, or deep satisfaction.  But, if a person goes around chasing a euphoric feeling, they will be disappointed in pursuing joy.  If we consider joy as not an emotion but the result of an unexpected event that creates feelings of peace and contentment, then joy is more fully understood, but the quest for joy becomes more challenging to pursue.  How does one pursue an unexpected gift?

Christians, and some Jews, share a description of joy as a “good feeling in the soul, produced by a visit from the Holy Ghost (Spirit); thus, joy is felt as a consequence of a visit from another being.  However, unless you pursue education into those religions, you still might not fully grasp what joy is and why we seek joy so ardently.  One of the most straightforward descriptions for joy comes from the writings of Pope, an English author from the 16th century who wrote:

Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, lie in the three words –health, peace, and competence.”

Hence the pursuit of joy is gaining health, peace, and competence.  So we can conclude that joy is found in possessing health, peace, and competence, as a consequence or good feeling stemming from achieving these three items.  Now, I know someone will get bent out of shape here; what if I have poor health, how can I pursue joy?  The answer lies in understanding peace and competence as co-equal parts of health.50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Recently on YouTube, I watched an amputee discuss their amputation, health, peace, and display their competence.  One could argue that losing a foot is poor health, yet this person glows with good health for having joined health to peace and competence.  By the same token, I know several people who possess poor health, are depressed from not finding peace, and are not competent.  While working with mental health patients, I met a person in a wheelchair who cannot walk, can barely speak, and this person chooses to live on the street in misery.  This person has plenty of money for an apartment but chooses to live on the street eating from garbage cans in abject misery.  Thus, we can see the need for combining health, peace, and competence to obtain joy.  One might even define joy as a consequence of choices that build a life.  However, and this is critical, the feelings of joy are internal!

Imperative to understanding joy as a consequence is the need to grasp that joy is an internal feeling of ecstasy, delight, and wonder while dependent upon health, peace, and competence.  We cannot understate this importance nor overstate the criticality of joy to the combination of health, peace, and competence.  I have met very depressed people who possess competence but cannot find joy.  I have met people with great health and who are miserable.  Possessing one or two of these components does not disqualify you from obtaining joy or pursuing joy, but lacking all three will not produce joy in any quantity or with any staying power.  Joy is not an event in life but a collection of events from life, where “everything just clicked.”50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Finally, it must be expressly noted joy is not an emotion; thus, joy cannot be chosen from a list of emotions to fit circumstances.  Since joy is not an emotion, this is where happy and joy are most often confused.  If an external event occurs, and health, peace, and competence are not present, happiness, not joy, is being felt or experienced.  If health, peace, and competence are present, and the feeling of joy swells inside, independent of all other factors, then joy is being experienced.

Case in point, in the US Navy, I served in a toxic working environment as a highly competent sailor.  I possessed health and, through inner strength, enjoyed peace inside myself.  Frequently, I would experience joy, even though external elements and environments appeared expressly designed to “make me miserable.”  By choosing to disallow an external event to choose my emotions, peace was mine, and joy was a consequence.Joy Quotes 3 | QuoteReel

Another English author from the 16th century was Edward Young, who concluded the following:

On the soft bed of luxury, most kingdoms have expired.”

What is happiness?

The definition of happiness is as convoluted as the definition of joy.  Consider the following: “Any state of being, having considerable permanence, in which pleasure predominates over pain.”  Yeah, that’s going to help a person understand!  Sarcasm aside, the definitions of happiness also include some interesting aspects for consideration: fortuitous aptness or fitness, grace, beauty, and felicitousness.  Happiness is also the quality or state of being happy, as if that actually helps.

Happy, the root word of happiness, is defined as cheerful, willing, possessing good luck or fortunate, a marked pleasure satisfaction, or showing the same.  What the dictionary skips, and the elements needed for understanding happy and happiness, is that being happy relies upon external factors and is a choice.  We choose to emote happy or happiness based upon external forces, societies, people, events, and environments.Spread Happiness Quotes. QuotesGram

Steven Aitchison is quoted as saying, “Happiness begins with the decision to no longer feel sad.”  Is it clear that happiness, like all emotions, is a choice?  The importance of choosing our emotions cannot be understated, and many of life’s biggest problems would disappear if we chose better emotional responses to external stimuli.  Aristotle provides the final word on happiness:

True happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best possible self.  Otherwise, all you’re having is immediate gratification pleasure, which is fleeting and doesn’t grow you as a person.”

What is the difference between Joy and Happiness?

Of a truth for certain, confusing Joy and Happiness leads to despair, misery, and failure.  Please keep the following clearly in mind; happiness is external.  Happiness is based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts.  Happiness is connected to your hope.  Believe it or not, the following observation is not religious thinking, faith builds hope, hope builds charity, and charity is nothing but an outward action of an inner commitment (faith).  Happiness is faith and hope expressed for everyone to see.  Put the words in any order and use a thesaurus.  The result never varies; happiness is a consequence (resulting from) of faith and hope combined into action, and others might call that action charity.Quotes about happiness

If further questions arise about distinguishing between joy and happiness, please review the above definitions where I have attempted to clarify the delineation.  One essential factor in pursuing peace is time to reflect, which promotes peace and distills into competence.  Competence breeds from education (formal and informal) applied over time and understood through reflection.  Peace is stability, mental calm and derives from reflection and additional education (formal and informal).  Health can be physical, mental, and spiritual, but of these three, mental and spiritual are more important than physical health.  Again, when combined, independent of all external forces and environments, joy is the consequence, not happiness!

Please allow me to point out something truly obvious when a person wishes you joy, they generally also include happiness as an addition to their blessing.  For example, the Whitney Houston song whose lyrics claim:

I wish to you joy and happiness.  But above all this, I wish you love.”

Thus confirming that joy and happiness are two distinct and separate entities.  The US Constitution allows and encourages a person to pursue “Life, liberty, and happiness” as inalienable rights.”  Joy is not included!  Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:

The US Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch up with it yourself.”

The Quest for Joy

The quest for joy begins with education (formal and informal) as a building block for competence and to begin the process of finding peace.  While influenced by external factors (drugs, alcohol, disease, viruses, bacteria, etc.), health requires mental and spiritual inputs and is not content without peace.  Choosing to accept physical limitations is part of building mental and spiritual peace, and the human body cannot long survive without mental and spiritual health and peace, but the body can long endure physical health problems if mental and spiritual health remains.Meme Quotes » Happiness

Another truth becomes evident when questing for joy, “Joy dwells in the ordinary.”  Consider this for a moment; a person gives another person a flower.  Ordinary, simplistic, and yet this giving provides joy to the giver and receiver.  How swift and fleeting is the happiness of Christmas, where the gifts are generally more extravagant, costly, and luxurious, but a simple flower can spark a world of memories.

Why bees & biodiversity benefit from indigenous wildflowersMy granddaughter, a toddler at the time, and I took a walk.  She found a wildflower in the midst of thousands of other flowers on this walk which was important to her.  Upon our walk concluding, we pressed that flower into a book.  The time spent with her remains a cherished memory for me, and when I see wildflowers, the memories of this walk and flower pressing come back readily.  Truly, joy is found in the ordinary!

Elbert Hubbard reminds us that:

Ozone and friendship will be our stimulants – let the drugs, tobacco, and strong drink go forever.  Natural joy brings no headaches and no heartaches.”

Why; because natural joy combines health, peace, and competence into a powerful force.  No further stimulation is needed or wanted.  Bulwer Lytton provides the best flashing sign for contemplation:

We lose the peace of years when we hunt after the rapture of the moments.”

What will you sacrifice in the quest for joy, the peace of years, or the rapture of moments?  One of the most miserable people I have ever met chased rapture in the moments and could not understand why chasing momentous euphoria did not lead to anything other than the chase for more rapturous moments.  Like any drug, the mind and body build a resistance to the drug over time, and more and more of the drug is required to obtain a similar experience.  Be the drug sugar, chocolate, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, alcohol, etc., the pattern is the same, and the consequences are the same.  Depression, anxiety, addiction, destruction, call the consequences what you will, chasing the rapture of moments is death.

We conclude with the following from Robert Louis Stevenson, may his words ring out on our journey for joy as a beacon and a sounding board to base decisions upon:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauties, nor failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he has; whose life is an inspiration; whose memory, a benediction.”

May your quest for joy be fruitful!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.