Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Entitled To Fail

The American dream is failure.

That is not to say that the American dream is a failure, rather that Americans dream of failure. Failure is the backbone of our society. Failure keeps us honest. Failure wins us gold medals.

As President Obama reshapes our society he will seek to protect much about our way of life. He will safeguard your savings. He will preserve your job. And he will shield you from foreclosure. While well intentioned, these prophylactic measures are nothing short of tragedy. For with each government-backed program President Obama signs into law, he undermines the American people’s ability to fail. It is this right of failure that grew America strong, and by taking it away President Obama erodes the fabric of our society.

Failure defines America because without it we cannot define success. What do Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan have in common? All three missed more shots than they made in their respective careers. What experience do Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin share? They both lost political campaigns on a national stage. What is a common thread in the life of all five? Success. Indeed, failure breeds success. For in failing one learns the value of succeeding. Yes, failure educates. You correct mistakes, modify strategies, and start over. Thus, if there is one thing to be defended it is the right of failure. Sadly, it is that right that is being sacrificed as President Obama guards our success.

The right of failure is critical to American society because without it there is no incentive to succeed.* If President Obama punishes success to prevent failure, he will soon find a dearth of success from which to draw. Will millions of immigrants still call America home when they encounter a limit to their dreams? Will American workers maintain their appetite for elbow grease when their peers work less and don’t suffer the consequences? No. Preventing failure prevents success because the fear of failure drives success. Diminishing that fear inevitably decreases the allure of success. That allure, and the freedom to pursue it, is what distinguishes America from all the rest.

In short, America is built on a foundation of failure. We are not entitled to two cars. We are not entitled to homeownership. We are not entitled to a hypoallergenic dog.

We are Entitled To Fail.

*Idea courtesy of Mr. Owen Handy

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bring Back The Radio

Despite the current news reports, the world is a wonderfully wonderful place. A place where peace and harmony are the status quo, and discord an anomalous inconvenience. There is hope and joy round every corner, and the good guy always gets the girl. Robbers are just nice guys down on their luck. Taxes are for the common good. And Al Gore really did deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

Absurdity you say? Not at all. Hyperbole? Far from it.

How can such a claim be made? It’s very simple. Listen to the radio.

Listening to the radio makes the world a better place because it’s a bastion of community in an individual society. Maybe it’s realizing that we’re not alone in cursing civic engineers at rush hour. Perhaps it’s the frantic race to be “caller number 10.” Or could it be the collective laughter when “caller number 10” actually admits to an N’Sync tattoo on his backside? Whatever it is, the radio unites. Where iPods force us apart, the radio brings us together. In doing so, it allows us to laugh at corrupt governors with bad haircuts, critique Britney’s latest comeback, and dispense free coaching advice on our way to the day job. This catharsis keeps one sane, and the glass half full.

The radio makes the world a better place because it keeps the focus on everyone and everything, except oneself. Go ahead, switch the alarm from the siren setting to your local country station, see what happens to your morning routine. Chances are, the first thought in your mind tomorrow morning will be how in the world someone can sing about wanting to “check [their girlfriend] for ticks.” Though admittedly this may not be the most appealing thought to dwell on, it sure does beat the self-pity of typical Monday morning ruminations. That’s what radio does, it distracts us from ourselves. Rather than dwelling on to-do lists, the radio exposes us to new songs, new trends, and new people. This process reminds us that we’re just not that important. Such humility goes a long way in keeping society kind.

In short, there’s very few resources with the power of radio. It frees one to laugh at a neighbor’s first date horror story. To commiserate with fellow sports fans after a tough loss. Sing along to songs that you’d never admit to. And remind oneself of the world beyond.

So make the world a better place. Bring Back The Radio.

Monday, November 3, 2008

This Current Dilemma

The current dilemma for Christians in politics is indeed a dilemma. How are we to care for our neighbor within the Republican agenda? How are we to defend the innocent within the Democratic agenda?

In light of this dilemma, a growing number of Christians, Protestant and Catholic, are settling. The possibility of reversing Roe v. Wade is so remote that the pragmatists are winning. Waves of Christians are shifting allegiance from conservatism to social justice. The problem with this justification is that social justice is founded on human rights. What however, is the fundamental human right? According to Article 3 of the UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the fundamental human right is that of "life, liberty, and security of person." All other rights are rooted in this right. Are we all entitled to health care? Do we all deserve a paid vacation? Is property ownership essential? Who knows? I do know however, that those superfluous entitlements are corrupted when the fundamental right to life is undermined. In short, a human rights agenda that does not defend the right to life has no integrity. As such, ending legalized abortion must be a socially conscious Christian's foremost goal if their ideas of universal healthcare and women's rights are to have any legitimacy.

Below you will find an incredibly well articulated exploration of this current dilemma, please read: (simply scroll down to reach the article titled Change.)

If interested the UN's Declaration of Human Rights is linked below:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wish I Were Voting For Obama

The idea that racism ended with the civil rights movement is absurd.

Don’t believe me? Oh come on, just look at the facts. Black men have the lowest average life expectancy in the US. One of every two Black teenage girls carries a sexually transmitted disease. Employers are more likely to hire a convicted White than a Black applicant with no criminal record. Finally, there are more black men in federal prisons than institutes of higher education.

Might as well face it. While you as an individual may not be prejudiced, as a community we are. And this is precisely why I wish I were voting for Obama. A victory by Obama would be an authoritative statement that Americans actually support our constitution’s claim that “all men are created equal.” Till now those words have simply been an empty claim used to justify aggressive foreign policies. A President Obama would definitively prove to the millions of doubters that America actually is the land of opportunity.

Additionally, if Senator Obama wins, millions of sequestered Whites will be forced out of their comfort zones. Even if it’s just the nightly news, White America will finally interact with Black America on a regular basis. Might this relationship convince those Whites who are “scared of Obama” that they have nothing to fear? White America doesn’t realize it’s racist because it doesn’t interact with the other race. This separation reinforces the interracial ignorance, breeding fear. In President Obama White America will get to know a Black man. This knowledge will decrease their ignorance, decrease their fear, and decrease their prejudice.

If Obama wins the presidency Blacks will have another visible example of what it means to be Black and professionally successful. Think about it. What other examples are there? The short list of household names includes Oprah Winfrey, Robert Johnson, Condelezza Rice, and Colin Powell. The shortness of that short list is a disgrace to our equal opportunity society. President Obama will change that. If Obama can win, millions of Black adolescents will have a role model beyond athletics and entertainment. Might this example convince a few kids that college isn’t just for Whites?

In short, America is a racist society. There’s no denying it. Pollsters estimate that six percent of Obama supporters will switch to McCain just because he’s White. Maybe I’ll switch to Obama just because he’s Black.

[As a follow-up to this Thomas L. Friedman recently wrote a compelling piece about the benefits of an Obama Administration, if interested here's the link: ]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Your Soul Needs The Wild

I have but one question. When were you last scared? No, not worried. Worried is an entirely different emotion. I’m talking about wet your shorts, kick the dog, terrified. In the medical world fear is synonymous with the sympathetic nervous system. When this system is activated, your heart races, your pupils dilate, and your hairs stand on end. So to repeat the question, when were your sympathetics last engaged?

Most Americans would probably answer that question by referencing The Dark Knight. I mean face it, there’s just not much to be scared of around this town. The lions, tigers, and bears are all safely locked in the zoo. Indians now make money off casinos instead of scalps. And unless the Air Force misplaces another nuke, the Cold War is long gone.

The result? Middle class America is bored stiff. We’re so bored we’ll pay ten dollars to watch a grown man dress up like a bat and run around for two hours. Our sympathetics are atrophying. Our sense of adventure is disintegrating. And our souls are suffering. This is all because we miss the wild.

Humans need the wild because it screams life in an increasingly inanimate world. The wild reminds us that we are alive. We have something for which to live. We have someone for which to run. Such things are easily forgetten while watching reruns.

Humans need the wild because it informs us that we are not enough. You might as well face it, you can’t make it alone. I mean Mowgli never would’ve survived without Akela. That’s the whole point of community, to sustain life amidst the unknown.

Humans need the wild because it breeds confidence in a self-conscious society. Your first bout with Bigfoot may scare the crap out of you, but the next time he comes around you’ll be ready. That’s what the challenges do, prepare you for the next.

Finally, humans need the wild because it inspires dreams in spite of reality. The truth is you probably won’t summit Everest, but what if you do? Rationally, there’s no reason to ride the bull, but what if you make it eight seconds? Intellectually, you might as well give up, but what if you keep going?

Without such wild questions, you lose your wild dreams. And if the soul is made for anything, it’s made to dream.

So you see what I mean? Your Soul Needs The Wild.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bring Back The Horse

American Joe has a problem. American Joe isn’t happy. It seems the daily grind is finally winning. Wouldn't you go crazy if you spent your days like Joe, shuttling from one air-conditioned box to another? To make matters worse, Joe's neighbors just bought a new box. Whatever is Joe to do? Buy another box? A bigger box? A hi-def box? No, no, no, there's a very simple solution to Joe's problem. Joe needs to Bring Back The Horse!

The Bring Back The Horse campaign is based on one simple concept, happiness. When Joe and his fellow Americans revert to the horse as their primary mode of transportation, their happiness indices will increase by fifty percent, guaranteed. Think about it. What better way to save the environment and develop your equestrian skills than mounting a trusty stead? Sure, keep the Accord for long trips, but to pick up some milk just grab the reigns.

One might ask how such dramatic results are possible. Two words, simplicity and relationship. In the rush for more horsepower, America forgot to care for the horse. The technology that was meant to enable life is now controlling life. Because of this slavery to manufactured goods, people no longer appreciate silence. Because of their addiction to entertainment, friends no longer relish conversation. Essentially, what was invented to make life good, is now taking the good out of life. Bringing Back The Horse will change all that.

Bringing Back The Horse will infuse the everyday with an irresistible simplicity. What’s not to love about a morning gallop to the office? Who wouldn’t enjoy walking out to their stallion at the end of the day? There’s just one issue, it could be the start of a whole new addiction. Society may soon be obsessed with beauty. Not the artificial splendor of the check-out counter, but the magnificence of nature. It will be a beauty we won’t control, and that’s precisely why it will be beautiful. So the next time it rains, hop on a horse, you might like the smell of rain.

Bringing Back The Horse will renew the lost art of relationship. Who wouldn’t chat with their fellow moviegoer enroute to the theatre? Why couldn’t neighbors share a barn to minimize expenses? Careful though, it’s getting risky. Knowing your neighbors could cost you a lot. You might have to sacrifice some hay when their stock is depleted. They may ask for a saddle when theirs is being retooled. In short, you could actually become a friend. But don’t worry, in doing so you might find that a friend is exactly what you were made to be.

So keep life simple. Know your neighbors. Bring Back The Horse.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why I Hate Social Justice

If any well-intentioned individual wants to help the world the first thing they must do is abandon any support for social justice. The reason? Social justice is a backward looking movement that focuses more on complaining about civilization than substantively solving its problems. Additionally, over the last ten years savvy capitalists have hijacked the movement to sell grungy hoodies and bad music to dissilusioned youths. Essentially, social justice has become an angry fad.

What is needed instead are pragmatic mechanisms that increase opportunity and development for all levels of society. Instead of notoriously ineffective gun buy back programs, why not use available funds for sports leagues? At a minimum, such organizations would give kids living in the shadow of gun violence a momentary respite from the chaos. Instead of lowering graduate school standards to allow for underprivileged applicants, why not dramatically increase salaries for inner-city teachers? Those schools would soon have the best and the brightest to replace their current Teach for America rookies. Instead of increasing city taxes to fund welfare programs, why not lower taxes and public programs to the point where private enterprise can't resist the area? Why not let freedom do what it does best, foster wealth and innovation?

The question will then be posed as to whether or not wealth indeed advances the cause of society and/or social justice. When considering this question, the fundamental purpose of social justice must be clearly articulated. Is it seeking equality or progress? If equality is the goal then yes, wealth handicaps social justice. If however, progress defined as literacy, health standards, and per capita GDP is the goal then increasing wealth is the only option. In the past 15 years China and India have become two of the most economically polarized nations in the world. The gap between their rich and poor is increasing at alarming rates, obviousely not good for equality. At the same time, the economic progress of China and India has lifted more than 500 million people out of poverty. This means more Chinese people are getting quality healthcare, more Indian women are entering the workforce, and more Asian children are going to bed with full stomachs. So while inequality is growing in every way, so too is quality of life. The only question that remains is what is the goal of social justice?

Some may use disdain for social justice as an excuse to ignore social problems. This would be a grave abuse of the argument. Social justice should be abandoned not out of ignorance or insensitivity, but because the movement is ineffective. Instead of lamenting capitalism, the activist should fully capitalize upon all that liberal society has to offer. What if the immigration rights protestor entered law school? What if the compassionate student applied to medical school? What if the entreupeneur went to business school? From these positions of influence one could then lead by example. The lawyer could donate pro-bono hours to immigrants living next door. The doctor could sacrifice a few thousand dollars to work in the inner-city. The businessman could invest his profits in the downtrodden neighborhood. In short, they can make a lasting impression on injustice. That is if they're not too busy with their gun buy back programs.