Be Mad. But Be Mad At The Right People.

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Well, it’s a brand-new month. The year is almost half-over, and we’re finally allowed to get back out and interact with the world around us. Masks and social distancing are still part of that, and probably will be for a long time. But it does seem like we’re finding ways to cope with a virus we still don’t fully understand and make the most of the situation.

Yet once again, we’re in crisis with protests across the entire nation – not against masks and closed nail salons, but against something much more sinister. Most of the protests are peaceful, and for a cause we should all stand together to uphold. This isn’t political, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s about human rights, something this country has fought wars to defend.

Sadly, there will always be some who see these things as little more than an opportunity to incite violence and destruction. They are the minority – a fractional percentage of those who stand peacefully. But, through their actions, they degrade the message of hope and unity that others are trying so desperately to share.

It’s beyond heartbreaking – it’s truly sickening. But that small faction only has the power that we give them. When we let their violence obscure a message of humanity and lump them in with all those who are protesting peacefully, they win. When we give violence a voice and amplify that voice louder than all others, we enable it. Hate prevails because we allow it.

When riots broke out in Los Angeles over the verdict in the Rodney King case, my daughter, who was still in elementary school, asked why people would destroy their own neighborhood. I told her she was seeing less than one percent of the population in those neighborhoods doing these things. For every person on the street, hundreds were at home praying for it to end. The same is true today.

So far, five people have died as a result of this violence, and many more have been injured. It’s understandable that we would be outraged. Yet, in the same month, store employees have been killed for asking patrons to protect others from a deadly virus by wearing a mask. Were we equally outraged by that?

It would be as unfair to blame the death of those store employees on everybody protesting state shut-downs as it is to blame the destruction we’re seeing on everybody who is standing peacefully against the violence that triggered this latest round of protests. Place the blame where it lies – with those who perpetrate violence, not those who are standing against it.

It’s easy to blur the lines, especially when we don’t have a personal stake in the situation. But we do have a stake. We have a stake in restoring peace and stability, and we have a stake in making sure no citizen faces the risk of death for suspicion of committing a non-violent and relatively petty crime. This isn’t about us versus them – it’s about who we are as a nation.

I try to avoid controversial topics in my posts, and I try to keep them lighthearted and motivational. But there are times when we must all speak out and address the elephant in the room. This is a big elephant, friends, and it’s not going away on its own. We have to make it go away, and we have to do that in a manner that benefits humanity rather than tearing it down.

This has been a tough year for all of us. Every time we think we’re seeing the end of one crisis, another takes its place. Yet somehow, instead of standing together as we did following the 9/11 attacks, we’re allowing each crisis to divide us further. Our perspective is clouded by politics instead of being guided by a sense of morals. Until that changes, things will never get better.

Violence begets violence, and silence breeds indifference. Somewhere between the two lies an appropriate response. If it’s acceptable to protest the inconvenience of social distancing, it must also be acceptable to protest the immorality of wrongful death. In fact, it’s more than just acceptable – it’s a responsibility we share as citizens of a free nation.

While we must never accept violence, we must also never allow that violence to stain a message of compassion. We’ll get through this. The riots will end, and peace will once again be restored. But our response to those standing peacefully against a grave injustice will say more about us as a nation than any number of fires we have to put out in the process.

That’s all for now. Have a peaceful and blessed day.

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Not Really Winning If Nobody Else Gets To Play

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’m in my favorite position this morning. Sitting on the sofa with a fresh cup of coffee and grandkids by my side. In the time I’ve been home, my granddaughter has become a little Grandpa’s girl. Her brother always was. You know. Not a girl, but … never mind. Either way, I’ll take the extra attention. Experience has shown it doesn’t last forever.

Saturday, we brought the RV home for some routine maintenance. In other words, my wife bought some more stuff to go inside and we had to put it away. I worked up a pretty good sweat in the process. Making the bed is an Olympic event. It’s like synchronized swimming except there’s nothing synchronized about it, other than the part where we both said, “close enough.”

I also put some water in the tank to check for leaks, since the pipes were all exposed to freezing overnight temperatures last week. The good news is the pipes are fine. The better news is I now know how fast those tanks fill. The mechanic warned me about the dangers of overfilling the “black” tank for cleaning. There’s this vent pipe on the roof and … well, use your imagination.

As we finished everything up, we both agreed it’s time to go camping. Like over the river and through the woods. Okay, over the mountains and right through the middle of the world’s most intense driving experience – Atlanta. It’s not the only way to get to Florida, but once you’ve mastered that one, everything else is child’s play. Besides, that’s why God made insurance.

One of the benefits of something that big is I don’t mind when my wife tells me how to drive. Those mirrors are pretty good, but she’s better. If there’s anything back there, she lets me know. If she launches into Lamaze breathing, that means I’m about to do something really stupid. It’s a form of communication we’ve perfected over the years. Besides, I’m too far away to punch.

Another thing I’ve learned is that other drivers aren’t so much of a pain when you’re in a vehicle like that. It’s not that they’re any less aggressive. It’s just that I don’t care. I’m sure Jim-Bob is riding my bumper in a pickup truck that matches the size of his ego, but my rear-view camera only works when the transmission is in reverse. Bet that’d get his attention.

Okay, that’s a false sense of security. I used to drive a semi, and any visions of being bigger and badder than everything else on the road fade into the twilight the moment you hit the D.C. Beltway. Have you ever seen a chihuahua take on a St. Bernard? That’s the way it was with every Prius on the road. And, like a St. Bernard facing down a chihuahua, I backed off.

I guess it comes down to a sense of entitlement. We all feel entitled to our spot on the road and, for that matter, in life. And, for some people, that entitlement gets a boost by intimidating others who only want their own piece of the pie. But that only works if you have something to intimidate them with. You don’t see a lot of Yugos brake-checking a monster truck.

We went to the grocery store yesterday, and that sense of entitlement is beginning to creep back in there as well. A week ago, people were taking the six-foot separation thing to heart. Even those who weren’t necessarily afraid of germs gave leeway to those who were. Now, it’s back to normal. Carts in the middle of the aisle, and people reaching over you for a can of soup.

After the 9/11 attacks, a sense of unity swept over the entire nation and people showed genuine concern for one another. But apparently, all it takes is a few protests at the State House to make the rest of us forget what we’re up against and why it’s important that we look out for one another. And this, I fear, is why we won’t return to “normal” any time soon.

But the bigger question is, do we really want to? If “normal” means pushing our way through a crowd and demanding that others yield to our self-ordained sense of entitlement, maybe that’s not such a worthy goal after all. Especially if it means sacrificing the progress we’ve made for the sake of our own desires.

A little humility goes a long way in restoring a sense of community. In yielding to others, we empower ourselves. There is no control like self-control. Sure, some may take advantage of your consideration. That’s their problem, not yours. Kindness is only as common as we want it to be. We just have to want it more than we want what we had.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

When Seeing is Believing, Take a Closer Look

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Now that the weather is a bit nicer, I’ve been trying to get out and take a walk more often. Lunchtime is usually a good time to get away, because it gives me a break from my desk, lets me get a little exercise, and keeps me from gorging on food I really don’t need anyway.

I work downtown, so there are always plenty of places to walk. And there’s never a shortage of people to make the walk interesting. Most simply walk past, give a brief nod, and maybe say hello. Some sit on a bench and look longingly at a world that seems to have passed them by. And then there’s the guy who was chirping like a bird and having a loud verbal argument with himself.

I wish I was making that up, but that’s what I encountered yesterday. Last week it was somebody else, waving his arms and yelling loudly at somebody who wasn’t there. Or, at least from my perspective. Who am I to say there was nobody there, just because I couldn’t see them? In his mind, he was in a full-blown confrontation.

It’s easy to form an opinion on what’s going on with some of these people. Drugs may certainly have been involved, but there are a dozen other possibilities that are much less nefarious. You could be looking at a military veteran who saw things in person that no network would ever allow us to see on TV. You just never know.

Perception is a tricky thing. It’s an important part of quickly assessing a situation in which our safety may rely on our ability to accurately perceive what’s going on. But it’s also a very biased opinion based exclusively on what we’ve experienced and learned to date. We think we know enough to assess the situation, but quite often we’re completely wrong. Worse yet, we may never know.

I remember in high school, walking through a loud and crowded hallway between classes, there was a guy with long stringy hair walking through, seemingly oblivious to everything around him. His head was cocked to one side, his mouth was open and slightly drooling, and he was clapping and snapping his fingers to a beat only he could hear. I was certain he was drugged into oblivion.

A couple of months later, one of my teachers was talking about human miracles and how we can overcome otherwise crippling handicaps to live a normal life. As it turns out, that student wasn’t on drugs. He was blind. He was able, in the middle of a crowded hallway, to listen to the echoes from his claps and snaps to know exactly where he was and what was in front of him.

I remember thinking what a miracle that was, the challenges he had to overcome. Imagine learning the floor plan of a large school so well that you know each doorway and what’s behind it. Water fountains made an entirely different sound, and I’m sure the echo off the lockers was distinct. And he was able to selectively shut out all the background noise to hear only his own echoes.

As I said, sometimes you just never know. It was probably my first big lesson in judging a book by its cover and, nearly fifty years later, I can still see him stumbling through the hallway to get to his next class. I often think about my first impression of him and how incredibly wrong I was. He wasn’t intentionally dulling his senses – he was using them to a level most of us will never achieve.

Every person you encounter presents an image that may or may not be entirely accurate. The young woman who looks like she was out all night partying, but in reality, nobody ever taught her how to apply make-up. The guy who’s nodding off at his desk because he has a severe case of narcolepsy. The overweight person who’s eating candy to ward off insulin shock.

It would be easy to form an opinion based on two or three seconds of observation. And, even when our opinion is accurate, there’s still a lot more we don’t know. Maybe that person is on drugs. But why? What have they experienced in life that’s led them to the choices they’re making today? More importantly, if we’d been in their shoes, would we have responded that much more responsibly?

We’re all very different people, and we all have unique gifts, abilities, troubles, and needs. And we all share this planet together. Instead of crossing the street when I saw a man having a fight with himself, maybe I could have helped talk him through it. Maybe I could have calmed the “other person” down. Who knows?

It’s been said that we should never judge a person unless we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Until we do, we may never know how hard that walk might be.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Exponential Power of Kindness

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

I’ve been reading a lot on social media about showing others some kindness. It’s heartwarming to read those messages, though it’s sad that our world is in such a shape that we have to remind people to do these things. And the evening news only reinforces that perspective. There sure seems to be a lot of hate floating around.

Back in the day, I used to write humor columns every week. It was an enjoyable task, and it helped me look at life in a little more lighthearted way. There’s always something funny out there. You just have to look at things with a slightly different set of eyes. I once saw a freshly painted sign on the side of the highway that read, “Used cows for sale.” If that didn’t make you grin, we need to talk.

I got into writing humor for one simple reason – to make people smile, maybe even laugh out loud. And I ran into some resistance along the way. “Write something I can use – I don’t have time for silliness!” Well, okay. There are people who feel that way. But there are a lot more who desperately want to laugh and could use a little help.

We all have different needs. Some people need a good laugh. Others need a handshake and a smile. The person on an electric scooter in the grocery store, staring at boxes on the top shelf, could probably use a little help. That downtrodden person on the street needs a smile. A co-worker may need a pat on the back, just to let them know they’re doing a good job.

There’s a scene from my teenage years that continues to haunt me, a time when I was faced with the choice of compassion or hostility and I made the wrong choice. As a result, a younger boy was sent home in tears with the broken remains of a tabletop pinball game he’d bought from the thrift store because I was more concerned about him leaving an empty box in our front yard than helping him out.

Hopefully over the years I’ve made up for that with others, and I pray somebody else showed that boy the kindness that I should have. Think about how it makes you feel when somebody shows you some genuine compassion and humanity. Then think about how it feels when they don’t. It makes a huge difference in your day.

One simple act of kindness can go a long way toward healing what’s wrong in our world. And, to be sure, there are people who simply don’t care. Anything you do for them is received in a spirit of entitlement instead of gratitude. We can’t change people like that. But, thankfully, they’re in a class of their own, far removed from the rest of humankind. The majority of people accept kindness graciously.

When we do something kind for somebody else, even just a heartfelt gesture, it instantly changes their outlook. That change may only last a moment, but what if the person behind you does the same thing? And then the person behind them? After a while, it begins to build. And sometimes, it’s that one act of kindness from you that reminds the person behind you to do the same.

Watch people walking into the store at Christmas, brushing past the Salvation Army kettle with their eyes straight forward like they didn’t even realize somebody was there to collect donations. Then watch the people behind them do the same thing. But if just one person drops a couple of dollars in the kettle, the person behind them is that much more likely to do the same.

It’s because we all need a sense of validation. We need to know we count. And just because you’re on top of the world, thriving in your career with a warm and loving family, that doesn’t change the fact that you need to feel needed. And in letting one other person know they’re important, that they count, it validates that person’s need for the kindness you showed. It validates you.

Make time for kindness. Look for those opportunities and share them freely. It doesn’t cost a thing to share a smile or lend a hand, and a couple of dollars is everything to somebody whose pockets are empty. We’re all on this planet together, and any one of us could find ourselves in need of a little help. It all starts from within. We have the power to make it happen. Let’s do this!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved