Working Man’s Ph.D.

cropped-tools.jpgIn 1993 one of the biggest hits was a song called “Working Man’s Ph.D.” sung by Aaron Tippin.  Aaron Tippin has the most colorful biography of all the country-western singers I know, including a commercial airline pilot, pipefitter, truck driver, welder, farmhand, and songwriter and singer.  The lyrics for the song “Working Man’s Ph.D.” form the backbone to the point of this article and as a means of honoring those who have well-earned their working man’s Ph.D.

You get up every morning ‘fore the sun comes up
Toss a lunchbox into a pickup truck
A long, hard day, sure ain’t much fun
But you’ve gotta get it started if you wanna get it done
You set your mind and roll up your sleeves
You’re workin’ on a working man’s Ph.D

Consider the following line especially, “you’ve gotta get it started if you wanna get it done; You set your mind and roll up your sleeves.”  How many times has grit been the only determining factor between starting and finishing a project?  Starters are many, but enders are few.  Those are the two elements for success, and every working man knows the recipe.  Get your mindset and start by rolling up your sleeves.  Preparation is key to finishing strong.20th Maine

Now, cast your mind to those who have never learned how to be a working man.  They have no grit, no ability to make up their minds, and cannot stand up to adversity and spit in adversity’s eyes.  Yet, they talk a good line.  They want you to think they know.  But the lines on their brow and the lack of callouses on their hands tell another story entirely.

Take a moment and consider your first blister.  Do you remember how you earned it?  Do you remember what you were doing the first time you felt that sting?  I do.  My first blister turned into my first and most lasting callous.  I was hoeing a row of peas in a garden; I was six.  I was told that a blister from working is the mark of a man learning how to work.  I earned that blister on a hoe handled that had been wrapped in duct tape to prevent splinters.  After that row of peas, there was a row of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and lawns to mow.  By the end of the day, I was exhausted and sore, the blister was bloody, and I learned how to treat blisters so you could go to work the next day.Rocks

Let me tell you a secret; I love that blister and callous!  I have burned that callous on many a stove and pan.  I have cut that callous on several knives and received no injury.  I have softened that callous while wrestling sheep in a shearing pen.  I have milked cows and goats to the cows and goats’ misfortune with that callous.  That callous has taught me many a lesson, including how to get a blister under a callous.  In the middle of a cold winter, while splitting wood, that callous kept my hands sticking to the steel of the handle on the splitting maul.  That maul handle had been replaced so many times that my father had taken the splitting maul to work and replaced the wood with ½” steel tubing.  It heaviest splitting maul I ever used, but I never broke that handle off!

With your heart in your hands and the sweat on your brow
You build the things that really make the world go around
If it works, if it runs, if it lasts, for years
You bet your bottom dollar; it was made right here
With pride, honor, and dignity
From a man with a working man’s Ph.D

Consider something with me, think about your hardest task completed; what did you learn about “pride, honor, and dignity” about accomplishing that task?  Hard work taught you a lesson that ease and prosperity could never teach.  Lessons that you cannot pass along to another person except by teaching them the joys and pleasures of task accomplishment and hard work.  Yet, in the world today, so many want to look down on hard work, and this is a thought process that needs reversing.Good Timber

I screwed up.  I admit this freely.  I took some money for raking my neighbor’s lawn and did a poor job.  My neighbor fired me; she was right to do so.  I felt so disgusted with myself for taking money and not delivering a good job, I went over and finished that job over my neighbors’ objections.  I shoveled her snow for free that year.  I did everything I could to discharge the debt I owed to this woman for teaching me that there is no honor, dignity, and pride in a job not done well.

cropped-snow-leopard.jpgMy wife the other day asked me why I don’t quit jobs I have undertaken.  She doesn’t understand the lessons I have learned; I cannot do a poor job.  I cannot commit to doing a job and give less than my full potential and all of my talents, skills, and abilities.  Even when it means I am surrounded by enemies in a hostile environment where my life is constantly threatened.  I have to give it everything I have; I owe this debt to my neighbor that must be serviced.  I have earned a working man’s Ph.D. as well as a couple of master’s degrees from the school of hard knocks; I owe too much to those who have taught me to forget these lessons.

Now there ain’t no shame in a job well done
From driving a nail to driving a truck
As a matter of fact, I’d like to set things straight
A few more people should be pullin’ their weight
If you wanna cram course in reality
You get yourself a working man’s Ph.D

There is a truth in these simple words, I wish to convey in the soberest words possible, “there ain’t no shame in a job well done.”  There is no end of shame to a job poorly done.  Consider the current president; why does the common person, those of us carrying working man Ph.D.’s, scorn the president?  Why did the common person, those carrying working man Ph.D.’s, heap praise on President Trump?  The simple truth and reality in the sentiment, “there ain’t no shame in a job well done,” but there is no end of shame in a job poorly done.  Use any other person you care to name, John Wayne and Kim Kardashian, who gets the stain and who gets the praise of a job well and poorly done?  President Reagan and Nancy Pelosi?  Michael Jackson and Mother Teresa?Leadership Cartoon

The job doesn’t matter, driving nails, driving trucks, nursing babies, keeping a house, accountant, pipefitting, welder, buyer, etc., what matters is how well the job is completed.  Do you take the job and do it well or poorly?  For if you do it poorly, there is nothing but eternal shame, the work itself will always testify of your performance, and people will speak of your incompetence.  Do it well, to the best of your abilities; even if a scoreboard might proclaim you are a loser, you have won victory and honor, pride, and dignity that can never be taken from you.  How you perform the task is the deciding factor, not the job, not the task, not the scores and the statistics, your performance of the task’s duties.

When the quittin’ whistle blows and the dust settles down
There ain’t no trophies or cheering crowds
You’ll face yourself at the end of the day
And be damn proud of whatever you’ve made
Can’t hang it on the wall for the world to see
But you’ve got yourself a working man’s Ph.D

The hardest lesson I learned in the US Army was how to shave without looking at myself in the mirror.  Then I had to learn how to live with my mistakes to shave and look myself in the eye.  Right there and then, I learned the lesson contained in the following lines, “You’ll face yourself at the end of the day; And be damn proud of whatever you’ve made.”  In junior high school, I read Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary,” and the following quote stuck in my mental craw.  It comes out often to teach me more lessons.

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.”

Thank you!Hard work teaches hard lessons, but the lessons learned are worth more than gold and diamonds, and I wouldn’t trade a single lesson learned for all the money in the world and all the fame in Hollywood.  Of all the degrees and titles I have acquired in this world, or will acquire, the only one I ever want is that of “Hard worker,” for that single title says it all.  When the chips and markers are counted at the end of life, I want to be found pulling my weight.  I might be disabled, I might be stubborn as a Missouri Mule with a mean streak a mile wide, but I want to be found pulling my weight.

Now there ain’t no shame in a job well done
From driving a nail to driving a truck
As a matter of fact, I’d like to set things straight
A few more people should be pullin’ their weight
If you wanna cram course in reality
You get yourself a working man’s Ph.D

Bobblehead DollMy deepest thanks to Aaron Tippin for his example and his incredible talent as a singer and person.  I have met many military people who sing Aaron Tippin’s praises, and I am very grateful for the talent shared.  May I encourage you to consider how well your studies are progressing on your “Working Man’s Ph.D.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Teaching the President Responsibility – I Never Thought I Would See the Day!

Angry Wet ChickenPresident Biden, you, and your administration disgust me!  I did not vote for you, but I was willing to support you as president back in January and show you respect.  Even though I continue to have reservations regarding the veracity of the 2020 Elections, the transparency of the election counts, and the skullduggery witnessed, I was willing to give you a chance.  Your actions in Afghanistan have sundered my cherub-like demeanor and turned the extended olive branch into a torch for your pyre!

Let me be perfectly clear, the blood of every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, who has served, is serving, or will serve in Afghanistan is on your hands for your ineffective and wholly useless policy in that country!  Worse, the tears and blood of children being abused, murdered, raped, and assaulted are also on your hands.  You allowed a mostly peaceful situation to become an open and festering warzone, again, and it is all your fault!  You cannot blame Congress, you cannot hide behind the media, you cannot shirk accountability behind generals and pentagon officials, you are the Commander in Chief, and it is your sole responsibility to lead the armed forces of these United States.

Sure, we in the service swear an oath to the U.S. Constitution and the officers appointed over us, but the first officer we pledge obedience to is the U.S. President.  You, sir, need to learn responsibility for the men and women you lead.  I plan to teach you and every American who is privileged to read this article the power of the office and the responsibility of the office you hold.  How will I instruct you; through the U.S. Presidents who came before you!Angry Grizzly Bear

The power of Commander in Chief is derived from the U.S. Constitution:

Article II Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the Commander in Chief clause, states that “[t]he President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual Service of the United States.”

Mr. President, you need to take two lessons from President General George Washington.

      1. But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg every gentleman may remember it in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”
      2. In politics as in philosophy, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is, to be honest, and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim were generally adopted, wars would cease, and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks, and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy.”

Do you understand these two fundamental principles of being the Commander in Chief?  Humility is not a weakness but an inner strength to know and do what is right in exercising your command.  You were given the greatest honor possible, to lead men, and women, into battle, and you have pissed that honor away for trinkets not worth a mess of pottage!Plato 2

The second principle of being the Commander in Chief is demanding honesty, first from yourself, then from others.  Is the job too big for you? It’s no shame to admit you are in over your head.  It is no shame to realize you need help.  It is a crime to act like you have the brains and talent, lying to yourself, while the world burns like Rome and Nero fiddles!  Your counselors, administration, and vice president are all crooks, scoundrels, and fools, but you have the responsibility!  This is why honesty is so desperately needed and fundamentally critical.

President Jefferson provides the following principle for the Commander in Chief, and while President General George Washington embodied this principle, President Jefferson said it best:

If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”

Knowledge Check!Are you informed about the consequences of your decisions?  If so, why are you continuing to adhere to wrongheaded decisions that are destroying America, ruining Afghanistan, and allowing China to threaten her neighbors, bully her neighbors, and be the aggressor party in a prelude to war?  Do you not understand that your responsibility for the consequences of your decisions is eternal, and you owe the God of this land, even Jesus Christ, accounting for how you have led during your time in office?  The blood of innocent people is on your hands because you and your advisors have refused to listen, refused to act, and chosen the worst possible action when working to the detriment of everyone on this planet.  You are actively failing as a president; does this not matter to you?

Inherent in the law is the following axiom:

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law.”

You need to understand this principle, for failure to be learned is not an excuse, ignorance of the law is not an excuse, and ignorance of the consequences is not an excuse.  You cannot blame your staff when standing before a judge and jury, nor can you evade responsibility and accountability. Honestly, the responsibility ultimately stops at your desk, the music ends, and you are left holding the bag full of whatever crap landed on your desk.The Duty of Americans

President Jefferson also provides the following axiom for a Commander in Chief, one which you have avoided your entire life, and it is time you were made to should this burden as an adult!

A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.”

What does this mean; allow me to explain using your example.  Your first, Second, and Third attempts at running for president were fraught with verbal gaffes where outright lies, bald-faced untruths, and plagiarized speech were put forth for the public as your ideas and ideals.  Thus making you a liar, a thief, and the worst sort of scoundrel possible, yet, through gerrymandering and a lot of money and your Jello-like spine, you have managed to stay in office long past your maximum level of incompetence.  What sort of moral society have you been promoting and living in?  Do you realize you are responsible for that moral decay you have been broadcasting from your senate office?  Do you know that your morals are now being stamped upon the military, and the military is going to find that your morals do not fit the honor, courage, and commitment needed to fulfill the mission?  The Uniform Code of Military Justice, which you now fall under as Commander in Chief, would find you guilty and in need of severe punishment.  How can a soldier, airmen, Marine, sailor, etc., go before the mast for UCMJ punishment with you as Commander in Chief and be found guilty of morals you exemplify daily?  By the way, this is the same problem your buddy Obama suffered from for eight damnable years when he occupied your chair!Patriotism

Speaking of eternal consequences, and being the Commander in Chief, President Lincoln has some choice words for you to learn.

      1. In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.”
      2. You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
      3. With this honor devolves upon you also a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so under GOD, it will sustain you, [or utterly reject you].”

Knowledge Check!As you have been weighed, measured, and found wanting, I will take a moment and explain to you what these three quotes mean for the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Firstly, watch your language.  You have not done very well with this in the past.  Your lies, half-truths, falsehoods, and plagiarized speech is beyond contempt, but the useless speeches you keep giving threatening to put legal and law-abiding citizens in prison for the sole crime of making a living is beyond detestable and shows a definitive lack of character.

Secondly, your words last for eternity.  I remember watching you as a child and thinking, “Putz!” Then cheering when the news broke that you had chucked your campaign for president.  How wonderful the Internet is for bringing back your words for your shame and discomfort, and how I enjoy watching your comments fall from your lips and condemn you for the liar and cheat you are.

Thirdly, those crimes are coming back in spades by trying to evade responsibility yesterday for being a liar and cheat, a thief, and a robber.  But, you have been placed into a position of honor for which you are not comfortable, for which you have not the strength, stamina, and mental fortitude to perform the necessary duties the role commands.  Who is making the decisions in the White House?  Why?

Dont Tread On MeFinally, we come to the absolute crux of the matter.  As Commander in Chief, the honor of commanding men and women in the military comes with a corresponding responsibility. The country loves her military and trusts you to treat them appropriately.  You did not do so in January and got a minor backlash.  You are not doing so in Afghanistan and will catch a much higher backlash as the media watches a repeat of Saigon in Kabul as the Embassy is evacuated.  Your buddy Obama has a dead Ambassador he has never answered for, which (historically) has always been a declaration of war.  What do you have?  An entire country laid to waste, the waste of millions of dollars in materials, millions of lives destroyed, and the wasted efforts of millions of people and multiple presidents.  You have betrayed the American people’s trust, and you will be held accountable, just like your good friend Mayor Lightfoot (with stickyfingers) is being held accountable in Chicago, only many, many magnitudes worse!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used here were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Everyone Knows Someone – I need Some Help

Bobblehead DollIf you are a regular reader, you know, I am a disabled veteran.  I served in the US Army and the US Navy.  I hate asking for help, but I am in a pickle and need some guidance on resources, so please consider who you know as you read this.  If you prefer to contact me directly, feel free to email me using msalis1@msn.com.

      1. I am trying to put in an Endless Pool. I can pay for the pool; I have the contractor, what I need is a financing solution. I can refinance and roll the complete project into my home mortgage.  The VA has demanded I lose 7% of my body mass before considering even discussing my spinal and neurological problems with me.
            • The pool project also includes a two-car garage for my house, which improves the home value.
            • The pool project includes lawn and curb appeal upgrades, things that my home has not witnessed in several owners, and handicap accessibility upgrades.
            • Several physical therapists have recommended pool therapy, which the VA has previously sent me, but the VA will no longer send me.
      2. Does anyone know a hungry lawyer? The Phoenix VA Police injured me.  Yesterday, the first X-rays of my spine were taken since the 07 and 10 December incidents at the VAMC in Phoenix; my L-Spine now has two curves, one front to back, which is normal, and one to the decidedly abnormal, left!
            • While in Phoenix, I tried to find a lawyer, but the lawyers who could handle the Federal VA were astronomical and wanted their funds upfront.
            • I am not averse to paying for services rendered, but I cannot afford almost $20 grand in legal fees upfront.
            • If not a lawyer, does anyone know how to file a tort claim against the VA?

Broken RobotI have tried multiple times, now in multiple states, to get the elected officials to take up my case, all to no avail.  Regular readers will have seen the articles explaining my efforts.  Frankly, I am at a loss about what to do next or where to turn, so options, ideas, and possibilities are greatly appreciated.  I have contacted the veteran service organizations, both the ones I am a member of and those I am not a member of, and they are only interested in getting me signed up for care at the VA.  Well, not all of them.

Download wounded warrior project transparent logo png - Free PNG Images | TOPpngThe Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) continues to advocate and does a lot of good in the community, and I am especially grateful for their help and support.  As a special shout out, if the Wounded Warriors come around asking for help raising funds, please consider giving, this group is doing a lot to help veterans, and I am proud to be affiliated with them!  As the new kids on the block, the WWP is making a definite name for themselves as a resource for jobs, increasing job skills, activities, family support, and a LOT more!  Like I said, a special shout out, for they have gone out of their way to try and help, and I appreciate their time and assistance.

Working DollarFor the entrepreneurs out there, I know a solid investment opportunity.  Veterans need special equipment, like pools, exercise equipment, etc., for weight loss, weight management, and health improvement.  Generally, smaller communities cannot support gym memberships, exercise pools, and so forth, but the veterans can pay for the tools with suitable financing options.  Here is the business idea, set up a way to finance these things and make yourself some good money in the process.

Anyway, if you know someone and would not mind dropping me a referral, please lend a hand.  I need two solutions as soon as possible.  All assistance is greatly appreciated; even if all you can do is read this post and send good vibes my way, it is greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your time!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Father John Patrick Mulcahy – M*A*S*H 4077 Chronicles

Father Mulcahy 2Of all the unforgettable characters from M*A*S*H 4077, one of the most important characters is Reverend Francis John Patrick Mulcahy, Chaplain, United States Army.  A most courageous and kind person, a character full of intestinal fortitude, with a deep desire to help the living, and a solid right hook when needed.  Father Mulcahy has always been a hero of mine, and I wanted to explain why, as a tribute to both the character and the actor William Christopher.

Father Mulcahy:
This isn’t one of my sermons.  I expect you to listen.”

Humility is not a weakness!

Of all the attributes of Father Mulcahy, his humility always shines through.  From his unfailing kindness to seeing the best potential anyone can have, to representing the best of what the Chaplains Corps means, William Christopher, as Father Mulcahy, produces flawlessly the sentiment that humility is a strength, a desirable, needed strength.  Consider the episode where Father Mulcahy belts the unruly and demanding lieutenant in the jaw, the episode where Father Mulcahy rides in a helicopter as a counterweight or the episode where Klinger and Major Burns get into it over a scarf, and Father Mulcahy talks Klinger into giving him a grenade.  Never do you see Father Mulcahy backing down, giving up, or losing sight of the potential goodness of a person.Father Mulcahy 4

Father Mulcahy struggles with the US Army’s ineptitude to promote him to Captain in a couple of episodes.  Even as he struggles, you see Father Mulcahy learn invaluable lessons, teach kindness, forthrightness, and compassion, and diligence, and reliance upon the strength that only comes through commitment to something greater than oneself.  Father Mulcahy’s strength is one of the glues that held M*A*S*H as a TV show together for as long as it ran.  Why; because Father Mulcahy was genuinely genuine!

Consider the episode where Father Mulcahy sits down with Colonel Potter shortly after Klinger takes over for Radar as company clerk.  Who else could have talked Colonel Potter down without talking down to Colonel Potter and allowed Colonel Potter the opportunity to act without disrespecting his rank and position?  Who else could counsel Major Houlihan, chastise Captains Pierce, Honeycutt, and Trapper John, hold Major Burns’ feet to the fires of accountability, and seamlessly interface between the enlisted and officers?  Nobody!  Better still, Father Mulcahy did all this while epitomizing the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If.”

If—
By Rudyard Kipling
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except for the Will, which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

From an interview with William Christopher, we find that Father Mulcahy was not just a character played but a person in reality.

How did you and Barbara survive the many disappointments caused by failed interventions when Ned was young? For example, the assessment of one doctor that he was “retarded,” and nothing could be done other than to “take him home and love him.”

We regarded this particular guy as a young psychologist who may not even have finished his studies. Maybe he was still in his early practice, a student who hadn’t earned his doctorate yet. In any case, we felt he was in the wrong field. We thought he couldn’t possibly know us and advise us to just accept a limited life for our son….  But we both believed that people make mistakes.

Humor is a Prerequisite Quality

Father Mulcahy always used humor to express himself.

Major Winchester was a blessing.  May the good LORD never bless me with him again!”

Some of the funniest lines in M*A*S*H belong to Father Mulcahy, and unless you are listening closely, they are often missed for the banter between the central characters.  Consider the episode where the company sings the M*A*S*H version of “Gee Ma; I wanna go home.”

A chaplain in the Army
Has a collar on his neck,
If you don’t listen to him
You’ll all wind up in heck
.”

Humor plays an incredible role in facing traumatic situations and coming through, not unscathed but mentally capable, confident, and more able to achieve.  Father Mulcahy teaches us this lesson in spades, with dignity, class, and a ripping sense of humor.

Father Francis Mulcahy:
Try to be compassionate. Remember, even one of our saints received a Dear John letter.”

Don’t be passive – Be Active – Work Hard

Father Mulcahy 5There is a story about how William Christopher got sick with Hepatitis, and the show’s producers wanted to remove Father Mulcahy’s role entirely.  Instead, Alan Alda went to bat for William Christopher, changed the scripts, and wrote Father Mulcahy’s sickness into the show to keep Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H.  Why would Alan Alda do something like this for a co-star?  There are several reasons; Alan Alda was a good person.  William Christopher was a good person.  But William Christopher was always working hard; he was not supposed to carry litters and all the other stuff he was always doing in the background.  William Christopher set a standard of behavior that modeled what a chaplain was supposed to do, and military chaplains copied his behaviors, mannerisms, behaviors, attitudes, and work philosophies.

Consider this for a moment; military chaplains learned how to be chaplains by watching a fictional character, imitating a US Army unit on a Hollywood set.  Reality has been changed to emulate fiction because fiction better reflects how people should act in reality.  I was not the only chaplains assistant who measured his chaplain by Father Mulcahy.  It is gratifying to know that many chaplains in the military have measured themselves against Father Mulcahy, found themselves wanting, and then worked to improve how they responded.Father Mulcahy 3

Name an episode where Father Mulcahy is not working, and I will show you an episode of M*A*S*H that was never made.  Father Mulcahy was always available, always cheerful, and constantly engaged in a good cause, as he himself said, “to be helpful to the living.”  Carrying towels, standing in for a nurse, providing an extra set of hands in surgery, comforting a patient, nurse, soldier, patient, always there, always caring.  One of the most poignant episodes is when the Bishop of the Catholic church is coming for a visit, but a soldier wants to give blood for his buddy, and he finds out he has leukemia, and Father Mulcahy spends all night, not on his sermon, but talking to this young wounded soldier.  Take a page from Father Mulcahy; working hard is not going to kill you.  Engage!

Father Francis Mulcahy:
[Wearing a dress] While I was showering, someone stole my robe and left me this… this… house frock!

Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger:
Better not take it off, Father, or you’ll be a defrocked priest!

Father Mulcahy:
How would you like to get last rites, [raises his fists] and a few lefts?

Standing for your Convictions is Mandatory

Father Mulcahy:
How dare you! You seek refuge in this house of the Lord when it serves your purpose. Then when it’s no longer convenient, you desecrate it by pointing a deadly weapon at another human being. Private, a faith of convenience is a hollow faith.”

Father MulcahyThe episode this quote comes from is where the mess tent is being used for services, fresh eggs had been donated, and a soldier comes in seeking ecclesiastical refuge and is AWOL from his unit.  This episode has always been a favorite of mine; it has come back in times of stress and trial when the harder right and the easier wrong conflict, and I have the choice to make about which to follow.  Father Mulcahy always chooses the moral high ground, the harder right, instead of the easier wrong, and the lessons he taught through living are not easily forgotten or pushed aside.  I might not be as practiced in the execution of living the harder right, but I cannot choose the easier wrong, and that makes all the difference.

Father Mulcahy:
Klinger, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, but you take the cake.”

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Do You Feel Represented? – Your Government In Action!

Detective 4I have received feedback that I write about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) too much.  Please allow me to explain why.  As a veteran, I am duty-bound to help my fellow brothers and sisters in arms.  As the son of veterans, mother (USN), and father (USN, USARNG), I know the hardships of being dependents of active duty, reserve, and National Guard members of the military.  The enlistment contract doesn’t end when the contract says so for the military member; the families and spouses contract is forever.

The final two reasons I write about the VA are most critical; NO body should be treated like the VA treats the veterans; the actions of the bureaucrats in the VA are not representing me and what I stand for in a representative government.  As I can easily have the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General Reports (VA-OIG) delivered to my inbox, it makes writing about the VA much easier, benchmarking how the government has insulated themselves and forgotten who holds the reigns of power in a representative government.  While not a reason to write about the VA, this final explanation should help you judge whether your representative government appropriately represents you and what you stand for.Why

The VA-OIG reports today begin with behavior that is intolerable and worthy of public shaming.  While the defendant remains innocent until proven guilty, the criminal complaint represents behavior inexcusable!  “Daniel Devaty of Elyria, Ohio, was charged with influencing a federal official by threatening a family member. Devaty allegedly sent a text message to the cell phone of a VA social worker threatening to kill his daughters.”

Angry Grizzly BearAnytime anyone threatens the family members, their behavior is beyond the pale and deserves public shaming and the harshest of criminal penalties.  I do not care if the perpetrator is a politician, a judge, the media, or a private citizen.  Leave the families out of any business dealings!  Hollywood, take note, I am sick to death of you threatening family members in movies, TV shows, or simply as private citizens/influencers.  For too long, you have shirked your public responsibility, and families are OFF LIMITS!  Learn this lesson well!

On the topic of conduct reprehensible, the following VA-OIG report leaves me running out of adjectives to describe the behavior of this VA Employee.  “Robert Sampson of Gulf Breeze, Florida, pleaded guilty to charges of video voyeurism and disorderly conduct. Sampson secretly recorded eight fellow VA employees using a hidden camera, disguised to look like a cell phone charger power adapter, that he placed in a restroom at the VA Joint Ambulatory Care Center in Pensacola on multiple occasions from August 2019 to June 2020.”  May the judge throw the book at him and his punishment be creative and sentence well earned!

VA 3In another VA-OIG report, we have more leadership missing problems, where a fraud scheme existed for 11 years without discovery.  “Erik Santos of Georgia was sentenced to over 11 years in federal prison for defrauding Tricare of approximately $12 million through a compounding pharmacy fraud scheme. In January 2021, Santos pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud.”  While the US Attorney beats his chest and proclaims they will catch everyone involved in the fraud, how many managers and supervisors inside Federal Government employ will lose their jobs, pensions, and freedom over allowing this fraud to occur?  What processes and procedures will be changed to protect against another fraud scheme?  Who is personally accountable for contracting that permitted this scheme to bloom for more than a decade?

VA 3The following VA-OIG report details how clowns and asylum patients run the IT program for the VA and not professionals!  The VA was tasked explicitly by legislation to meet several IT deadlines on a program for family caregivers as part of the VA MISSION Act of 2018. Unfortunately, not only did the VA fail to get the IT program up and running on time, missed mandatory reporting deadlines, and delivered a software solution 2-years past due, but the “VA did not establish the appropriate security risk category and fully assessed the system’s privacy vulnerabilities.”  Amazing, with all the IT problems the VA suffers from, with all the IS problems the VA suffers from, one would think that, where new technology was concerned, the VA would be practicing better security and using the lessons learned previously.

VA 3Would someone please tell me why private industries would be sued to the Nth degree criminally and civilly for these IT failures, but the government can evade accountability and responsibility; why?  In a representative government, the citizens can, and should, hold the elected representatives and their minions accountable for failing to uphold basic security protocols. So how did the government vote themselves a “Get out of Jail Free” card?

While writing this article, three additional VA-OIG reports have been delivered to my inbox.  The newest VA-OIG report discusses a topic that the VA continues to struggle with, namely transparency.  Apparently, the goblins in Goblin Town still cannot stomach sunlight and prefer to keep their nefarious deeds hidden.  Unfortunately, the lack of transparency in hiring practices leads to more VA-OIG investigations into employee wrongdoing, cost the taxpayers phenomenal fees to rid the government of poor hiring decisions, and all this before the union becomes involved.  From the report, we find the following:

“… VHA delegated much of its data reconciliation to its local facilities, which introduced variability in the process and did not allow for consistent creation, maintenance, and verification of information. VHA also had inadequate business processes to ensure quality data were available to support effective medical facility staffing oversight. Without consistent methods and reliable source documents for managing information, VHA cannot be sure HR Smart data accurately reflect VA’s budget and workload requirements.”VA 3

Did you catch that local facilities were given authority, which increased risks in hiring, all while management cannot perform their functions properly?  I remain convinced that the VA built designed incompetence into every action to protect themselves from ever being forced to take action. But, unfortunately, like always, the news only gets worse!Plato 2

A little background is needed to appreciate the problem in the following VA-OIG report fully.  Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act required the VA to report to the OMB how they spent money appropriated for America’s Veterans and the VA during the pandemic.  The following is what the VA-OIG found:

VA met monthly reporting requirements to OMB and Congress on supplemental fund obligations and expenditures. VA also submitted required weekly obligations and expenditures from supplemental funding to OMB by program activity. Of approximately $17.3 billion in medical care supplemental funds, VA reported it had obligated about $7.11 billion and had spent about $5.67 billion by December 29, 2020. The VA-OIG team noted three concerns where VA’s reporting was not complete and accurate: • Obligations were at risk of not being included in VA’s reports. • VA initially delayed the reporting of reimbursable obligated amounts for two months. • VA’s reports contained negative dollar amounts in data fields that should have only positive amounts, which misstated VA’s overall reported obligations. Those concerns indicate weaknesses in how VA and VHA internal controls are structured to meet reporting requirements. Despite the risks identified, VA performed only a limited review at the summary fund level of its COVID-19 obligations and expenditures before reporting. A review of summary funds is not detailed enough to identify potential anomalies and ensure the reliability of externally reported information” [emphasis mine].VA 3

I did not find this in the VA-OIG report. Did anyone ask why the VA failed to meet the reporting for the first two months?  After the FISMA Congressional hearings, everyone knows the VA sucks at information technology and information security (IT/IS). So why was the VA given more money and told to budget it using existing failed software, processes, and procedures?  My work in the finance field is limited; however, when a company cannot handle its finances properly and meet legal obligations, a third-party accounting firm can be hired to handle this for the organization.  OMB, why are we not using this solution at the VA?  OMB, why is a third-party auditing company not conducting in-depth analysis and audits of the VA?  With all the missing taxpayer dollars at the VA and Department of Defense, it seems that you are just as negligent as the agencies you are supposed to monitor.

Theres moreAs they say on the Home Shopping Network, “But wait!  There’s more!”  Unfortunately, the same holds of the VA, just without the enthusiasm!  Each VA Medical Center in the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is expected to have supplies, also referred to as caches, on hand at all times to handle local emergencies and national health care incidents.  For example, a pandemic!  The VA-OIG investigated these prepared caches and found that only 9 of 144 supply stockpiles were ever mobilized.  The excuses, oh these excuses, are like butt holes, everyone has one, and they stink!

      1. “Medical facility directors reporting supplies were not needed or caches lacked sufficient quantity for meeting pandemic demands.”
      2. “The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) changed the process for mobilizing caches during the pandemic, but without clearly communicating it to medical facility directors” [emphasis mine]. – We have the blind leading the blind, in a darkened room, in a London fog!
      3. The VA-OIG, not the VHA, not the local VAMC, but the inspectors “identified problems with cache maintenance and monitoring.” – Never forget, this is a job of several people, overseen by a director, who reports to facility leaders, and inspectors had to find the maintenance and monitoring problems. Just let that sink in for a minute!
      4. Most caches contained some expired or missing personal protective equipment, diminishing their ability to support pandemic preparedness.” – This is an example of how the VHA is “Defining Excellence in Healthcare!”
      5. The “VHA had incomplete documentation on cache activations, making it difficult to know which caches would need to be restocked.” – See item number 3 above.
      6. Medical facility leaders were not always able to accurately report if their facility’s cache was activated during the pandemic.” – Is the proof sufficient that the VA leadership IS the problem with the VA; yet?VA 3

In the US Navy, a significant part of my job was to maintain and monitor emergency supplies. Additionally, to use and cycle through reserves during drills and replenish those supplies quickly and efficiently not to impair the ship’s ability to protect itself 24/7.  I did my job well enough to earn three people Navy Accommodation Medals.  I took over the emergency stores, and all consumable supplies were expired or consumed.  Within 3-months, I was winning accolades and awards.  Yet, 144 caches of emergency supplies for the VHA need more procedures, more documentation, and more oversight to fulfill the mission correctly.

Knowledge Check!I beg to differ!!!  We need leadership, active, engaged, enthused, leadership!  We need the medical facility leader to stop designing incompetence and do the job they have been hired to perform.  We, the taxpayers, need the oversight instruments of the Federal Government to become a lot more effective at demanding results.  We desperately need the elected officials we have hired to scrutinize the government!  Just imagine if you hired someone to perform a mission-critical job, and in the middle of needing emergency support, the person hired reveals, “Oops, I might not have done my job properly.”  How fast would that person be fired?  Now, why can we not do the same to the government employees?

So, ask yourself, do you feel represented by your government?

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Know the Why – NO Fear!

NO FearAs I was coming into manhood, a clothing brand began and was almost instantly popular; the brand is easily recognizable and states two words, “No Fear!”  Launched in 1989 by twin brothers Mark and Brian Simo, No Fear quickly became one of the most popular sportswear companies globally—and the most popular sportswear company staunchly against being scared.  I will not claim I have “No Fear,” but I choose to live without fear.  When fears arise, my answer is to learn all I can, mentally prepare for times when those fears will rise again, and then move forward living like those fears will not repeat, for I am mentally prepared.

USS Barry (DDG-52) - WikipediaCase in point, I was on a destroyer in the US Navy.  I had been on the ship for more than two years; I was in charge of Repair 5, the Engine Room damage control locker, and in the middle of the 0000–0400-watch, the bells and alarms go off, “Major Fuel Oil Spill in Main 1.”  Because I had practiced, I had personally trained my fire team.  I was exceedingly knowledgeable about the space, the equipment, and the watchstanders; I proceeded into an actual casualty with confidence, not fear.  More, my team could trust the training I had given them, and they moved from sleep to firefighting with confidence.  While no fire erupted that night, the casualty was quickly contained by the watchstanders.  My fire team was prepared to assist; the experience looked upon is not one of embarrassment from fear but confidence and appreciation for preparation, drills, and knowledge.

Gas Chamber 4My first time going through the CS Gas Chamber happened with my National Guard unit.  I was scared, not fearful, just frightened.  I had no confidence in the equipment, I had not been to basic training yet, and here I was going into a gas chamber.  This experience provided me with confidence that my fellow soldiers in basic training did not have as we went into the gas chamber in basic training when I experienced the gas chamber in the US Army Basic Training, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  I had no fear, no trepidation, and no reason to doubt.

During Basic Training, I remember only one time being truly scared, not fearful, just scared!  I had failed to pass on the shooting ranges and was facing being kicked out of the US Army because I could not shoot what I was aiming at.  I had been shooting since I was 14, I knew how to handle rifles, but still, I could not qualify with the M-16.  The problem, I could not relax, and this inability to relax was jerking the trigger and making my rounds go astray.  Worse, I did not know why I could not relax.  Thus, arrives the point of this article, do you know the why in your emotions, decisions, and desires?

Bait & Switch 2You possess beliefs, and some might even be firmly held beliefs; this is great.  I am not writing to dissuade you from your beliefs, to decide differently, or even to emote in a manner foreign to you.  My intent is to aid you in introspection, a path of self-knowledge where you know why you know, why you believe, and why you act as you do.  Do you know why; in knowing why you begin to understand, and understanding brings knowledge and acceptance.

I have a friend who had an abusive childhood.  Her childhood was fraught with danger, all types of abuse, and this childhood prepared her to be in two abusive marriages and consider those abusive marriages as normal.  She is now remarried to a good guy, not abusive at all.  Except she has a lot of health problems, and she seeks out medical opinions for everything, seeking to find domineering in a relationship as a by-product of her childhood.  She refuses to believe that childhood events drive her doctor fixation and not health problems.  I will not attempt to dissuade her of this opinion.  I support the good she does, the good she and her husband do, and I will continue to choose to be her friend.  But fear and refusing to know why has all but crippled my friend, and this is painful to see!

Question 3Do you know why?  Are you willing to investigate to know why?  What will you choose to do when the why is revealed?  Knowing why requires mental preparation, mental preparation requires mental strength, agility, and flexibility, all skills that require practice, time, and development through experiences willingly sought.  Therein lay the most challenging part of building mental skills, being willing to seek out these opportunities, and remaining fixed upon learning, no matter the cost.

I have met some amazing people who refused to accept what the truth was going to cost them.  Learning comes with a price; that price is in the choice to apply or deny what has been taught.  The price is the consequence that follows the decision to accept or reject that which was learned.  My brother’s wife discovered he was cheating on her and had been cheating on her almost from the moment they married.  She stayed in the marriage for seven kids and nearly 20-years.  Hoping he would change.  I honor her willingness and sacrifice; I respect her devotion to my brother, I understand her position and her reasoning.  Still, I wonder, should she have left him immediately upon learning of his infidelity?  She knows the why now, but she refused to accept the why, and the consequences were painful in the extreme for many years.  She is better now, remarried, and the kids are recovering, but did they have to suffer?  Did she have to suffer?  Choice and consequence after learning is mentally difficult.

GearsAs stated and repeated only for emphasis, you may choose how you will, believe, feel, and act the way you think is best for you and yours.  My aim and intent are not to dissuade but to help you more fully appreciate the why and lose the fear.   As a teenager, a friend of mine, a shepherd, asked me to help him on the ranch.  My first day coincided with shearing day, and with 400-head of sheep to shear, this was not going to be an easy day.  Herding the sheep into the corral was not difficult and was accomplished without incident.  Getting the sheep into the run and into the trailer to be sheared was incredibly difficult, but getting the sheep out of the shearing van was easier than falling off the porch.  Why; because of fear.  The sheep wanted to be sheared, but the confinement of the run and the noise the shears produced increased fear so much that the animals could hardly think straight, and they became more fearful the closer they got to the van where the shearing stations were.  Animals confined in tight quarters in the run turned themselves about and tried to flee backward in the run.  Fear made them do incredible things I had never imagined an animal could do.

WhyAs I experienced life, surviving the US Army and the US Navy, I learned what fear does to humans; worse, the consequences of fear leave an indelible impression upon the minds of those who chose to succumb to fear.  The movies never show this side of fear; books and magazines never discuss the aspects of what fear does to harm the mind and body of the person involved.  Worse, society has come up with terms and names to soften the repercussions of a moment’s fear.  As a kid, I watched a lot of M*A*S*H 4077; in one of those shows, Sigmund, the psychiatrist, talks about how a moment’s fear on the battlefield becomes a lifetime of regret, shame, and the potential of an eternal soul is lost.  All because, for one moment, fear overcame, and the body responded, while the mind lost control.

QuestionDo you know why?  Are you willing to discover the why and teach others what you have learned?  The final step in introspection is not acceptance but being willing to teach.  Through teaching, you learn more perfectly; this is a pattern that I have seen replicated in too many classrooms to ignore.  I met an amazing woman in a long-term care facility in Geneva, Ohio.  She was my mothers-in-law’s roommate.  She was a teacher and began her career in a one-room schoolhouse at sixteen.  She retired just after the school’s consolidated.  She had been blind for a long time.  I never met a more grateful person, and I have not met a more learned person!  She said every day she taught, she learned something new, which taught her to be grateful, and in gratitude, she taught and learned for her entire career and every day thereafter.

Thus, I ask again, do you know the why?  Are you willing to learn the why?  How you choose does determine your destiny.  I close with a final thought, are you willing to ever choose the harder right instead of, the easier wrong?  I am not perfect, I struggle to choose the harder right, but I also know the invaluable worth of being prepared mentally and not fearing.  I know the power that comes with choosing to know the why and allowing that choice, with its inherent and natural consequences, to lead towards making better decisions and learning.  There is power in knowing why there is power in failure, there is hope in failure, and great peace in knowing the why.How to Make Any Question Essential with Three Easy Steps – Wabisabi Learning

Search out the why.  Choose to learn.  After learning, accept the price of consequences and see how those consequences can change you!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

 

NO MORE BS: CHANGE! – Let me Explain

Bird of PreyAs a fourteen-year-old, I was wandering around an office supply store in Belfast, Maine, and came across a bookmark I thought had an interesting statement on it:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I thought that saying was pretty neat, and it helped me begin a process in my own life of learning how to learn and challenging change.  Over time, I began to suspect something out of place in the pattern that quote/prayer was claiming; I do not believe there are things I cannot change!  I know that if a person refuses to change, I can do nothing until that person chooses to change.  But, I remain convinced that there is nothing man has made that cannot be changed.Leadership Cartoon

As a building contractor, I learned that the same tools I am using to destruct a building are the same tools I will employ to construct a building.  An important point where change is concerned, structures can come down, structures can be built, but the human element rests upon their own decision to change or not.  However, many times the structures can influence the individual to change.

Detective 4In the US Army, I noticed something powerful; when living in a Korean War-built Quonset hut, my fellow soldiers and I had moral problems, experienced depression, and struggled.  But,  when we moved into new barracks, many of these problems ceased almost immediately.  Thus cementing a lesson, the environment plays a role in personal feelings and influences desires to change.  In the US Navy, this was more poignantly learned.  I slept in Crew Berthing Three, the rest of the engineering department slept in Crew Berthing Two, and I hated going in there.  Between the smell, the lackadaisical attitude towards maintenance, and the general disorderliness of the compartment always left me feeling depressed.  So, even though I slept in the same berthing as Deck Department, which included the Boatswains mates, the berthing spaces were neater, cleaner, and better all around.  Environment matters and influences personal desire to change or not to change.

As my injuries have worsened with age, my ability to rebuild engines, build or destruct structures, and operate heavy equipment has been reduced dramatically.  But, the lessons taught have remained, there are people I cannot change, but there is nothing that I cannot change.  My wife asks me all the time why do I write articles for a blog.  My answer is rooted in the Serenity Prayer quoted above; there is nothing I cannot influence to change.

Andragogy - LEARNToolsThere are people who I have met who will never change.  One comes readily to mind, I was homeless on the streets of Auburn, Washington, after leaving the US Army in S. Korea.  I had a job but no place to stay.  One night while wandering to keep warm, I met a homeless man who refused to change.  He was homeless by choice, not because of any drinking or drug problem, not because he was not smart enough to get a job and improve his living conditions, but because he chose to be homeless.  He said, “I am who I am, and I refuse to change just to please society.”  A very intriguing thought occurred to me then and has repeated often, am I choosing to be homeless, or am I choosing to grow?

I choose to be a lifelong learner; this commitment sprang from this conversation with this homeless man in Auburn, Washington.  I committed to several principles knowing that I could more greatly influence my environment as I changed myself.

      1. Be Curious
      2. Focus on Active Looking
      3. Review and Redraft
      4. Improve memory and recall
      5. Change your perception

Because there is nothing I cannot change, I know the power of small pebbles in a landslide.  I know the power of tiny snowflakes in an avalanche.  I understand how a small rudder can turn an enormous ship for good or ill.  Nothing man has made that man cannot unmake, remake, fix, correct, or influence change.  There are people no one will ever influence due to moral agency, individual perception, and the valuation of consequences.  But, the environment around that person can be changed, and opportunities provided to encourage a different mindset.

GearsCase in point, an engineering shipmate of mine, was kicked out of Crew Berthing Two for smelly feet, which led to smelly shoes, which upset a lot of people in Crew 2.  He was forced to come live in Crew Berthing Three.  Why did he have stinky feet, a fungus was growing on his feet, and he had never been taught how to care for his feet.  He could wash them 100 times a day, but because he did not know how to care properly for his feet, nothing would change, and his feet would stink.  When my shipmate chose to change, we taught him about foot care, he went to medical and got some fungal cream, and he purchased new shoes and socks.  Why were his feet not a problem in Crew Three; we had better, and took better care, of the ventilation system than Crew two.Courage

Those engineers in Crew Two could not understand that the environment influences behavior, and the influence of behavior led to negative consequences.  The move to Crew Three changed the environment physically and led to an eventual change in mindset for the person.  Could Crew Two have had better ventilation; absolutely, if the members living there desired it.  Since they individually decided not to have better ventilation, the consequence was a smellier and more nasty berthing space.  Environment plays a role in behavior and influences people for good or ill.  We can affect the environment, but we cannot force change upon people who refuse to change.Behavior-Change

Leading to the final thought, why do we need “wisdom to know the difference?”  I  can change the environment around me.  I can change me.  I cannot change other people, but I can change other things and influence the people after changing those things in the environment, causing problems.  Let us examine this from the viewpoint of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The administrators (people) are causing moral issues and distress in the employees.  Some of the employees like being morally repugnant. Others are ethically obtuse because of job security. Others remain true to themselves and stay in the system to help affect change.

Life ValuedHow does a person change a system built by man; start with the environment, which in this situation are the processes, procedures, and methods of conducting work.  A leader arrives and begins influencing people through how they perform their work.  Then begins the fundamental operations of training to new standards, including ethical, moral, and logical processes and procedures written down.  Then, that leader begins holding people, not written processes, accountable for their actions.  Shortly every person will be faced with a choice, change or leave.  Hence, cleaning and correction become a natural function of the environment, and change is made where many have claimed; change will never happen.

Knowledge Check!As an industrial and organizational psychologist, I know this is the path forward as I have applied these lessons in my own life.  Changing people, like destructing and constructing buildings, does not occur magically.  Plans are made, planning is carried out, and fundamental change occurs through the environment.  Use the pattern:

      1. Be Curious
      2. Focus on Active Looking
      3. Review and Redraft
      4. Improve memory and recall
      5. Change your perception

Watch what happens!  It is amazing to see and possible to change.  Nothing cannot be changed; only people choosing not to change cannot be changed.  But people are not the environment, and the environment can influence people!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Diversity, Equality, Inclusion, and Assimilation

Public Service Announcement:  The following article is probably longer than desired.  However, I am trying to cover a lot of basics where tyrants have invaded and are attempting to gain control.

LookLet me be perfectly clear; I do not care what you look like, your handicaps, abilities, or disabilities, or frankly, anything other than how you do your job and live your life to not interfere with other people’s freedom.  Hence, when the discussion inevitably turns to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, I fully believe that you are the number one driver of equality and inclusion in the workplace and society.  You choose to become offended if you feel not included at work.  You decide to feel marginalized, and in choosing to feel marginalized, your choices and consequences are solely yours.  Except, you demand your consequences be the problem of the business and community.  That behavior is childish, selfish, and reveals your ignorance!

Does discrimination occur, absolutely; but discrimination does not disappear magically when a diversity, equality, and inclusion workplace initiative is launched!  Discrimination does not disappear because someone passed a law.  Your attitude, actions, and decisions are all choices you make that come with natural consequences for you.  You drive your ability to be included the majority of the time.  Individual choice and consequence are the reality never spoken of during DEI initiatives.  Failure to include personal choice, assimilation, and consequence remains a glaring hole in DEI training topics.

quote-mans-inhumanityAssimilation

Assimilation is the act of assimilating, and assimilating is all about taking in and understanding something fully.  The Borg from Star Trek gave assimilation a bad name.  Worse, some people erroneously proclaim that when you assimilate, you give up pieces of yourself.  Assimilation is all about taking the best of you, adding to the best of us, and making the whole stronger than the individual parts.  Yet, every DEI training I have been forced to attend has been pessimistic about assimilation and assimilating into a stronger whole.  Assimilating is also about absorbing and integrating into a wider society or culture.

For example, a balanced diet includes non-favorite foods, but those foods are good for you.  Your body assimilates the good and the bad foods consumed, eat enough poor nutritional foods, and the body suffers physical and mental health problems.  Eat too many good foods, and your body will assimilate foods differently and possibly begin to reject certain foods.  Hence, balance is needed to properly diet and strengthen the body.  Extremes in food, like attitudes, are bad for the body as a whole.  The same choice and consequence cycles that drive the assimilation of foods into the body are the same choices and consequences when applied to workplace assimilation into existing cultures.  Extremes are hazardous to health!

Editorial - Educational TruthDiversity

Diversity is all about variety and including variety in a social environment.  Diversity has been stretched to become a practice of including people of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and other societies into a greater community.  The problem with the plastic second definition of diversity is the assumption that a variety of different people are automatically not wanted or desired in the social environment currently.  History has never been kind to different people in a society.  This is true of ethnicities, cultures, disabilities, and abilities, and nothing will change discrimination in any organization made up of human individuals.

A friend invited me to a bar; I was not accepted into that bar’s culture as I am a veteran and do not share other lifestyle choices of the bar’s dominant culture.  Discrimination happens; if you choose to become offended by the selection of diversity in a community, that is your problem.  I did not become offended at the other patrons in a bar and demand that they accept me, it did not matter to me one way or the other if I was accepted or not, and this should be the same stance everyone should be taking!

Life ValuedEquality

Of all the terms we are discussing, equality is by far the most plasticized, twisted, deformed, and dangerously laden with unnecessary baggage!  Equality is all about a state of being equal.  Equality comes from the “Rule of Law” and the application of “The Rule of Law” for all in society.  Except, equality is not what is desired in the term equality when speaking of DEI, but “Social Equality.”

Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights, and equal access to certain social goods and services.  Essentially, social equality is all about twisting “The Rule of Law” into exceptions for specific socially acceptable groups; instead of equality, social equality is all about bringing all onto unequal grounds before the law.  There is no equality in social equality, ever!

Andragogy - The PuzzleInclusion and Discrimination

Inclusion is all about the practice of being included.  That’s it, the whole enchilada; inclusion is all about being included.  However, what does it mean to be included; here is where ideas like fit, temperament, desire, and choice and consequences enter a social group, community, or organization.  Where DEI is concerned, inclusion is all about shifting the margins, dropping the individual decisions, and forcing all to be lumped together regardless of personal desire.  Worse, inclusion is forced with the power of law without regard; hence all are injured in an attempt to be “socially inclusive.”

Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or sexual orientation.  Except, discrimination happens all the time, and efforts to be more “inclusive” have done nothing to reduce discrimination.  I was hired for an inside sales position with a 90-day trial period.  My wife dropped off some equipment I had left at home one day.  The bosses learned my wife is older than I am; from that day to the end of my trial, when I was released without cause, the attitude towards me was significantly and tangibly different.  Skin color, ethnicity, gender choice, sexual bedroom choices, and every other possible thing can be the source of discrimination, and nothing will change this facet of human behavior.

Admitting that discrimination is happening is not being defeatist, nor am I suggesting that discrimination laws should be scrapped.  I am relating a truth about human behavior and why the law cannot dictate moral behaviors!  Demanding inclusion does nothing to reach the core roots of the problems with discrimination in society.  Which is another truth for certain that must be recognized and discussed.

Andragogy - LEARNExclusion

Exclusion is the opposite of inclusion but also represents a risk.  The risk of exclusion is found in the legal arguments from discrimination, not the risk of being omitted.  More, exclusion has stricter requirements than elements of inclusion ever will.  For example, insurance policies have specific criteria that exclude coverage as a means for controlling risk.  The same thinking on insurance policies is the same as what occurs in social environments when a person is actively excluded.

For example, in the US Army, my platoon sergeant and my squad leader had a group of people they were comfortable with both on and off duty.  I was not welcome because I hit more of the exclusion criteria than the inclusion criteria.  I did not enjoy sports, wasn’t a drinker, a womanizer, and several other items.  Off duty, this wasn’t that big of a deal.  On duty, this exclusion caused me tremendous problems as I learned to be a soldier.  Still, the choices for inclusion or exclusion came down to preference and accountability.  As the First Sergeant and the Commanding Officer allowed these discriminatory practices to exist, I had no right to complain, and my mistakes were my own.  It was a difficult period in my life, but I survived and was stronger for the challenge.

Literary FiendIndividual Identity

Who are you?  What makes you an individual identity in a socially expanding group?  The United Nations has declared your culture, gender, sexual preferences, and race are all personal choices as part of a unique identity created, changed, and designed for and by the person making the choices.  What the UN fails to mention are the consequences.

In the US Navy, I served with a woman who was as white as the freshly driven snow, but she identified as black.  According to the United Nations, this is acceptable.  This sailor spoke, acted, and identified culturally as black even though she was white, blonde hair, blue-eyed, and the antithesis of cultural black identifying characteristics.  I am not one to judge and, frankly, could have cared less how she identified herself.  But the command through a total fit when she showed up to morning quarters with dredlocks.

Remember, your identity is your choice.  I care less about your identity than I do about a fly.  How you work, what you do, and your respect for others’ rights matters to me.  But, do not make your choices to be an individual affect my life.  Do not thrust your identity into my world and demand respect; I do not care about your identity!

CourageGroup Identity

Group identity is the melding and assimilation of identities and behaviors needed to work together effectively.  That’s it; the whole casserole!  Take any sports team, any sport, and you will find the same in winners and losers, those who choose to assimilate the group identity gain success.  Those who refuse to assimilate will lose every time.  Pick a sports movie; here are a couple of suggestions where you will see for yourself the truth of the power in assimilation:

        • We Are Marshall
        • Friday Night Lights
        • Glory Road
        • Hoosiers
        • Invincible
        • Miracle
        • Radio

Group identity requires sacrificing individual identity for a cause bigger than oneself.  Yet, for DEI training, when is this ever discussed?  Winning business organizations cannot be successful without individuals sacrificing their individual identity for group success.  How have we forgotten this rule of nature?

Lever UpSubordinate Culture

Subordinate cultures, micro-networks, ol’ boys network, whatever you call it, subordinate cultures are designed around those who refuse to assimilate and make their choices the problems of managers and leaders.  Consider those who hyphenate their cultures, Indian-American, Russio-Chinese, Irish-Israeli, etc.  You will find someone who refuses to assimilate and cannot understand the need to be whole culturally and who could be more without the hyphen.

In the US Navy, I met more than ten first-generation Americans from Jamaica, Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Puerto-Rico, and other places.  Not a single one of them would consider hyphenating their status as American.  Yet, too often, people who have been in America for multiple generations feel a need to hyphenate to identify themselves.  Why establish a subordinate culture?  A subordinate culture is assumed to be lower in status than a dominant culture.  The subordinate culture is treated of lesser importance, deemed under the control of something else, and all because of the hyphenation.  Is being subordinate desired; if so, why?

President AdamsDominant Culture

The dominant culture is the most powerful or influential culture in an organization.  Essentially, more people assimilated and sacrificed for the success that the organization is enjoying than refused.  Yet, in DEI training, dominant culture carries negative baggage and is not allowed as it could be misunderstood.  Seriously, the concept peddled in this training blew my mind.  What happens if the LGBTQ+ community became the dominant culture in a country; would it be accused of the same claptrap the LGBTQ+ community currently claims they suffer?

Why did Rome fail; they lost the “Rule of Law,” and the subordinate cultures took power and could not unify the majority of people when invaders came.  One of the greatest Republics in the history of man is responsible for improving millions of people’s lives.  Failed and fell an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle over the same issues every single business and democratic country in the world is facing right now.

Grit is a MarathonIndividual Choice

I was part of a first-day introduction activity for new hires (2016), and one of the new hires made an individual choice to identify themselves in the following manner, “I am John Smith, I am non-binary queer with a passion for anal sex.”  What does this have to do with the position they were hired to fill?  Which audience member in a professional setting needed or wanted this information?  The declaration automatically put the entire audience on the defensive; the Human Resources representative was placed into a difficult position and called a 10-minute break to regain composure and finish the introductions.

How you choose is your business!  I will respect your ability to choose as you desire; keep your choices to yourself, as I will keep my preferences to myself.  Believe it or not, we can work together really well without disclosing our personal choices and lifestyles outside of employment.  But, when you make your preferences my problem, I will deal with them the same as I deal with that pesky fly, ignore!

Content of their CharacterConsequences

Self-awareness, curiosity, and empathy are what I was told today that will make DEI work, and through learning and unlearning, DEI can make an organization stronger.  I agree the learning is vital, curiosity is always a valuable tool, self-awareness is important, but empathy is dangerous, divisive, and deadly!  Failure to recognize the need for assimilation and sacrifice places the burden onto people who have enough on their plate with their responsibilities in their work.

quote-mans-inhumanity-2Imperative to the improvement and liberation of thought and the power of people is the eradication of litigated moral behavior.  We, the individuals who make up our communities and businesses, must recognize the 800# gorilla in the room, mandating inclusion, refusing assimilation, denying the need to sacrifice individual identity for group success; these must be enshrined into our cultures, again!  Let us embrace these truths and design our “Liberty FIRST Cultures” around a single “Rule of Law,” where people are respected and freedom blossoms!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: You!

Andragogy - The PuzzleThe US Army has several unique and special awards, one of these special awards is called a “Unit Citation Award.”  A unit can win unit citation awards, and if you were a member of that unit when the citation was won, you wear that unit citation permanently.  If you were not a member of that unit when the citation was won, you may temporarily wear the Unit Citation award, but you have to take off that unit citation when you transfer units.  The unit citation award is the method the US Army employs to celebrate all the hands involved in a mission’s success at that mission’s conclusion.

Due to familial connections and from deep love of Maine, I hold in my mind and heart the 20th Maine Regiment, led by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.  The 20th Maine Regiment held the “Little Roundtop” at the battle of Gettysburg; the unit’s heroism, valor, and dedication are key to the Union obtaining a victory on the bloody fields of Gettysburg.  Col. Chamberlain won a Medal of Honor for his leadership that day, a monument has been raised to the men of the 20th Maine, and a unit citation was awarded for their combined action.  Each member of the 358-man regiment played a crucial role in the battle for the Little Roundtop, and without their combined strength of character, the activities of the 20th Maine would not be the story it is today.

20th MaineThe 20th Maine began as an afterthought, a mistake, or even just a wrong decision.  The 20th Maine was a unit comprised of extra men leftover from other new regiments created in Maine. It was not one of the state’s favorite fighting units — No county claimed it; no city gave it a flag, and there was no send-off at the train station.  Worse, when the two-year enlistees of the 2nd Maine Regiment went home, their three-year enlisted comrades mutinied and claimed since their flag went home, so should they, regardless of their contracts.  These mutineers became the seasoned warriors the new 20th Maine needed to make their heroic stand possible.  A point of reference, Andrew J. Tozier, a mutineer from the 2nd Maine, was made Color Sergeant of the 20th Maine in a ploy to help the mutineers feel more esprit de corps for their new unit, the 20th Maine.  The ploy worked, and Color Sgt. Tozier plays a critical role in holding the middle of the regiment together and securing a victory.

Detective 2Why does this matter?

History across the world hinges upon the individual efforts of one, which inspires many, and greatness ensues after the struggle.  Do you believe that you count in the liberation and freedom of your society?  Do you know that your daily efforts change the world?  Are you conscious of the power for good you possess and exercise daily?

You matter!  Do you believe this?  If not, why?  If so, what do you plan to do today to make a bigger impact?

You are important and worthy of that importance in the life you live.  Dr. Seuss taught us this lesson as kids claiming, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  Dr. Seuss also said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Life ValuedCol. Chamberlain was under orders to shoot the mutineers of the 2nd Maine; all 150+ of these men had earned their fate for treason.  Col. Chamberlain knew many of these men, had grown up knowing their families; some were even friends and associates.  Instead of shooting them, he worked with them, and they agreed to join and fight with the 20th Maine.  Making the 20th Maine stronger and more able.  Col. Chamberlain’s actions at this moment is the hinge upon which victory would swing in the 20th Maine’s first contact with the South on the battlefield.  Can anyone select just one member of the 20th Maine as non-essential, no; hence you are essential and worthy of importance.

Because we are all connected.

Because we are all connected, you cannot sort out a single life as unimportant without destroying an entire tapestry rich in detail, full of exquisite design, and colorful to the eye.  I was in a Bahrain marketplace; I saw a gorgeous handwoven rug, Arabic in design, flat-out beautiful.  The weaver and his wife were selling the rugs they had made, I did not have the €1700 for the rug, but I loved the rug.  I told the weaver and his wife, we got into a casual conversation, and I learned a cool lesson.  The husband asked, “Pick a single non-essential piece of thread from this beautiful rug.”  I told him I could not.  He said, “that is because the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Persian Rug KnottingThe American tapestry is woven through the lives of many into the grand and glorious tapestry the world looks upon.  The same is true for every country, because of you!  Your story, your efforts, your trials, your sacrifice, your beliefs, and your participation is the story of your country!

LookI would make this point perfectly clear and hope you will consider and begin to believe you are important!  You are essential!  Your actions change your environment, which changes the world.  One raindrop raises the sea; you are the raindrop that raises the sea!  How you learn and apply forms a rich and incredible tapestry your close associates and friends will look upon and model.  Your family is weaving a small portion of a greater whole.  Do you know what your ancestors have done?  If so, can you choose to do less?  If not, would knowing improve how you feel about your efforts?

You!

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t!
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly
.”
― Rumi

But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince [One of my favorite books of all time!]

You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.”
― Albert Camus

Every single human soul has more meaning and value than the whole of history.”
― Nikolai Berdyaev

Believe you are important.  Live like you are essential.  You are needed.  Become your dreams!
– Dave Salisbury

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Suicide

LookAmerica lost a soldier last week.  For the second time in my sister’s life, suicide has deeply affected her.  Maybe this article is being written for me; perhaps, this article might help someone struggling, I do not know.  I know that suicide deeply affects everyone involved, some carry guilt over another person’s suicide to the grave, and others will always feel sad and empty.  Suicide hurts!

When I served Active-Duty US Army, I was a Chaplain’s Assistant.  My duties were mostly clerical in nature, but I supported every soldier’s beliefs, regardless of their religious belief or flavor.  I loved that job; I sat on the front lines between religion and personal faith, and often my duties were most impactful as I held the hands of grieving people.  I held up the weak knees, lifted hands that hung down, and tried to help people.  I was not perfect then, I am not perfect now, but I can say I did the job.  Like all of life, there is a cost to be paid, and many times that cost is very high!

As a Chaplain’s Assistant, my education included psychology, trauma, hidden wounds, and spotting and helping people seek professional help.  I was often a resource to community support, options, and many times just a listening ear.  Frequently, my day began after I closed the chapel and went downrange, off base, and walked among my fellow soldiers in various bars throughout Dongducheon, S. Korea.  Where I heard about love life’s, extra-marital affairs, affairs gone sour, divorces, pay problems, and every stress known to deployed soldiers.

ToolsBecause I was frequently downrange, I heard about unit problems, offered suggestions, and tried to help the people that make up an Army.  I was handling a situation in my own unit the night a soldier drank himself into alcohol poisoning and died; only later was it discovered the soldier wanted to commit suicide and did not know how except through drinking.  I was not downrange the night a young soldier walked in front of a very large truck; he survived his suicide attempt and received the help he needed.  I hope he is better!

I was supposed to be getting a vehicle ready to take the chaplain to see a training exercise.  Instead, I was in a Quonset Hut, sitting beside some medics who were trying to help their buddy not step in front of a tank.  They found his note, found me, grabbed hold of that soldier, and saved a life.  I was proud to take the Article 15 UCMJ action my chaplain ordered, my friend the medic got the help he needed from a friendlier chaplain and our Battalion Commander.  I am not bragging in relating these episodes, and I do not have aspirations of grandeur that I could have helped.  I describe them because problems with suicide lurk just beneath the calm waters that surround each of us.

I was not in the country of S. Korea when my mechanic friend accidentally hit a little girl who darted out into traffic, and my friend could not stop the truck he was driving in convoy in time.  Unfortunately, I lost track of my friend, but I grieve with him over this event in his life.  The calm waters always hide problems, rocky shoals, traumatic events, and much more.  This brings up the first and most principal point; suicide has long been portrayed poorly by media, Hollywood, and popular culture.

Thin Blue LineUnfortunately, the media, Hollywood, and popular culture get paid to get suicide wrong, and will not change.  As a kid, I was expected to be like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Marlon Brando.  Strong, tough, unyielding, and capable!  Then, Hollywood and the media said this was too stressful, labeled masculinity as toxic, and all men were suddenly supposed to be some mix of Pee-Wee Herman, Rudolph Valentino, and Rock Hudson.  Now, men are appendages, sex toys for women, or other men, and absolutely spineless.  How does this apply to suicide?  Where are the examples, the role models, and those people a person can look up to and see good or emulate?

When I was in Junior High School, I planned to kill myself and make it look like an accident.  I knew where, I knew how, I was not going to leave a note, and on the day of the planned event, a friend saw me walking home from school and offered me a ride.  We talked, not about anything important, but by the time we reached my house, I knew I could not commit suicide to escape my home life.  I looked for role models of who I wanted to be, there were plenty to choose from, and I slowly took the best of each of them and created a life.  I was exceedingly blessed to have such an amazing friend!  Long have I tried to be the same for others.

When counseling those who had tried or were considering suicide, one of the questions I was commonly asked usually was framed like, “Who do I look up to?”  Too often followed by a story of a broken home, abuse, failures at sports, pressures to perform, the list is endless.  Role models are essential, role models are needed, but do you steer a child to model the president, a governor, an athlete, etc.; not bloody likely!  Hence one of the foundational problems in our society is a dearth of role models.  People committed to living honorably where the media talk about them, instead of the latest athlete bashing his girlfriend’s face in an elevator.

Friends QuoteOne of the best pilots recently died.  His story was pointed out to me, his exploits became legend, and his skills were the stuff of dreams and fanciful imaginations.  Chuck Yeager could and did do things to an airplane that caught and held my imagination.  The world lost a great and talented man, I lost a person I would love to call a friend, and we never met!

Hollywood and the Media keep getting the story wrong on suicide because of the toxic culture they have invented to punish good, demean the strong, handicap the great, and dumb down the wise.  We see the results daily.  Sports figures beating up their domestic partners, drugging, or merely acting like a spoiled brat.  From politicians that cannot respect each other or their constituents, Hollywood types acting like puerile rubes off camera.  Magazines are selling sex like a new toy to America’s continuing issues with drugs (legal and illegal), cigarettes, and alcohol.  Every waking moment is filled with toxicity, acting like acid on the mind, detracting from the good, and creating unequal comparisons through social media that can never be matched.

CourageI talked to a depressed person, a guy who got so lost in comparing his life to his friends’ lives on Instagram and Facebook, he was contemplating suicide.  He said it started when he was 11 or 12, first with girls, then the size of his manhood, his inability to be good at sports, his mid-level grades, and the pressures just kept building.  This same person was a Force Recon Marine, had battle badges, and an amazing service record.  Because he could not raise his personal value to meet social media demands, he considered himself a failure.  I sincerely hope he is doing better now.

A friend of mine in the U.S. Navy got caught in the same comparison problem, devised a method to get more money through housing allowances, and got caught.  He is in Leavenworth now, I lost track of his wife and kids, and my friend got lost.  He should be getting out of Fort Leavenworth later this year.  I wish him the best of luck!  Between toxic culture and a lack of role models, Hollywood, and the media, including social media, have a stranglehold on people, and suicides keep increasing!

Another factor in suicide rates is the increasing lack of a nuclear family.  Not to say that a nuclear family is all roses and lollipops, but every democratic society worldwide is suffering from a staggering increase in broken homes through murder/suicide, divorce, hookup culture, and friends with benefits lifestyles, add in homosexuality and gender fluidity.  It is no wonder people are confused, and single parenthood and suicide continue to climb.  When religious decline due to media attacks on religious thought and standards are added to the equation, it is not a wonder that more people are contemplating and committing suicide.  There is no wonder why depression and anxiety are rising steadily as mental diseases.

Duty 3I will offer some ideas for consideration, both to aid in reducing suicide and to aid in helping those struggling.  Of a truth for certain, I contemplated suicide in late December 2020, and had it not been for mental mechanisms installed through learning; I would not be here typing this article.  These ideas for consideration are things I daily apply to help me.  Hence, when I ask you to consider these ideas, I am in the same trenches, doing the same things, and working right alongside you.

    1. Most importantly, find a religion you can live.  There are hundreds of flavors of religious belief systems.  Experiment until you find one that works for you. Faith helps by placing a buffer between how you think and how you act while supplying a why as a motivating force towards action.  Believe it or not, even atheism is a religion; it’s just really hard to live.
    2. Unplug the TV, disconnect from social media, and spend at least one day a week technology-free. Your mind needs to rest from all the inputs of modern living.  Choose a day, any day that works for you is perfect, and put down the cellphone, walk away from the computer, turn off the TV, and plug into mental relaxation.  Make cookies; I used to pound bread dough, do something where your activity levels are up, your mind is down, and you are not plugged in.
    3. Reduce your social media commitments. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., are time sponges where you will spend a ton of time trying to compare, keep up, stay afloat, and you never will succeed!  It is okay to end social media commitments!  It is perfectly normal to have a life not posted every 20-seconds to Instagram or another social media platform.
    4. Reach out to people, real people. Use letters, emails, phone calls, or walk down the street and talk with a complete stranger.  I find that when I am reaching out, I am not as self-conscious and not as depressed.  One of my favorite activities is to go to a long-term care facility and ask people about their lives.  I have met incredible people; I have learned, laughed, cried, and celebrated lives that have reached their pinnacle.
    5. Mental toxicity feeds upon what comes into our bodies through the senses and social environments. Change music genres.  Change the authors you read.  Change the magazines to which you subscribe.  Change social settings.  If you are struggling with mental toxicity, change something small and watch how impactful that small item becomes.  A friend of mine is oft to quote, “It’s a matter of a few degrees;” there is a cool story on the internet that accompanies this quote.

Regardless, please talk to someone if you are hurting and thinking about suicide.  Please listen to your friends and close associates.  Do not be scared to ask, bluntly, baldly, openly, “Are you considering something?”  An acquaintance related to me a story where a friend saw something, asked bluntly and saved a life.  On the phone one night, I talked to a friend; he mentioned he was considering swallowing his shotgun and hung up.  I called 911 and asked for a health and welfare check, stated what I heard, and waited anxiously for the authorities to call me back.  Eventually, they did; they helped my friend.  I am exceedingly grateful for the first responders who too often are the front line when suicide happens.

Detective 4I am going to offer one other idea for consideration.  Every time you hear a siren or see flashing lights offer a prayer for the first responders and those involved.  The prayer does not have to be grand and eloquent; your religious flavor does not matter; we are all connected, and those responding can sure use the help.  When you see a medic/EMT/Paramedic, Firefighter, Police officer/Sheriff, please thank them.  The suicide rates among first responders are incredibly high and always tragic.  Nothing grand or embarrassing, just a simple word of kindness will help the first responders in your area.  Until injuries took me, I used to be a first responder as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post!  May God bless and keep you!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.