Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Real Man Feels No Shame When Tears Appear

                Grown men crying.

                In some quarters, men are criticized as weak when they cry.

                I guess the theory goes like this: A man who is strong has control over his emotions and therefore does not cry.

                I'll never forget the first time I saw a grown man cry.

                It was my own father.

    I was  about 9 years old and my father was this remarkable rock. The foundation of our family never wavered regardless of the stress thrust upon him.

                And I'm sure there was plenty of stress when you were responsible for supporting ten children and had to  figure out how to send all of them to college.

    Anyway, Dad was at the dinner table and began to reminisce about Little John, the first baby born to Jack and Jackie Lynch, the older brother that I never met.

                You see, Little John lived for only nine months and then succumbed to pneumonia, throwing my mom and dad into a very dark place of which they rarely spoke.

                 I was deeply moved to see my dad step out of that warm ray of sunshine that seemed to be part of his personality at all times.

                I loved that he allowed us kids to see that wound that day and  I love the fact that this rare moment taught me that it's okay to cry every now and then.

    Speaker of the House John Boehner is ridiculed because the tears flow when he is moved by a sublime idea. Just recently he cried at a special congressional ceremony to say goodbye to retiring Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

                Those of you who followed  the career of former Senator George Voinovich know that he cried in public on more than one occasion. I assure you, however, that this only happened when his heart was captured by a special joy or sadness.

Just a couple months ago Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik broke into tears at his own inauguration ceremony. Few in the crowd realized that the Mayor's brother died that very same afternoon and His Honor  was overcome by the  contrast between the exhilaration of his re-election and the tragedy of his brother's departure at way too young an age.

                When Jesus came to Bethany, Mary and Martha shared their grief over the death of their brother Lazarus and Jesus wept. The Son of Man was a real man in every way.

                 And he wept.

    For my part, I find a certain catharsis in letting it all out.

     My heart aches when my children are far away from me. When they tell me they love me. When they get married.

                I can't even imagine the feeling of loss when Little John went from his crib to the cemetery. A  man that doesn't cry in a situation like that is no  man at all.

                Truth be told, sometimes an emotional scene in a movie causes me to tear up a little bit.

                Did any of you see the scene in the movie Marley And Me where the dad bids a tearful goodbye to his very best friend as he passes  away into eternity under the influence of the euthanization drug administered by the veterinarian?

I also tend to choke up during the singing of our national anthem. I think about the young families without dads and husbands because brave American boys sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

So here's a tribute to grown men crying.

We all carry heavy burdens and our heavenly father has equipped us  with the plumbing to release some of the pressure when the time is right.

There's no shame in that.

Remember Little John.

My Dad never forgot him.

He remembered.

Tearfully, he remembered.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Figuratively On Fire Over "Literally"

        Pet peeves surface this time of year.

        Cooped up inside. Ruminating over what really bugs me.

        See what you think of this.       

         When Tom Brady threw for five touchdowns in the first half of the big game against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos two  Saturdays ago, the radio announcer breathlessly exclaimed, "The Patriots' quarterback  is literally on fire!"

        Oddly, I did not hear any reports of Brady suffering third-degree burns or being rushed to the hospital for treatment because of his sudden close encounter with flammability.

        That's because what the announcer meant to say was that the New England signal caller was performing so superbly that he was on fire,  figuratively speaking.

        You see, the word  " literally" means "actually".

        If I told you that I gave a speech but   found the audience to be literally dead, it would mean that the auditorium was filled with dead bodies. Actual corpses.  It would be time to call the coroner.

        Here's another example.

        In 2007 Jerry Falwell said the following in a speech:  "This homosexual steamroller will literally crush all decent men, women, and children who get in its way."

        Falwell  obviously was intending to speak  metaphorically.

        By using the word "literally" he conveyed the opposite. His  words meant that we all should watch out for a giant Caterpillar Tractor driven by Rosie O'Donnell, running us down, our mutilated bodies stuck in the treads of the huge tires.

        We have become such an uneducated nation that we don't  respect our own language.

        The misuse of the word "literally" has become rampant and I would like it to stop.

 I want it to stop because I want Americans to embrace the true beauty of our English language.

 It is the  form of human expression that allowed the blossoming of Shakespeare and the poignant simple elegance of the Gettysburg address.

        It is our beautiful language that helped us realize the moral truths found in Huckleberry Finn and the mystical significance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's  Rime of The Ancient Mariner.

        Only in the English language do you get that certain chill as Humphrey Bogart turns to Ingrid Bergman, touches her face gently, and softly intones, "Here's lookin' at you,  kid." Casablanca. Fantastic.

        So my friends, let's clean up our use of the word "literally".

        Our sloppy use of this word in the media and in ordinary conversation is   another symptom    of the decay of American culture.

        And it's killing me.

        Figuratively speaking, that is.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Your obsession with cheap helps build The Great Wall(mart) of China

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


My recent trip to Asia caused me to do a little investigating of India's behemoth neighbor, the Peoples Republic of China.


Like the proverbial frog that calmly sits in a pot of water without noticing that the cook is making frog-leg soup, we as Americans have gone about our lives distracted by football games and reality shows while our national interest is destroyed by one of the  cruelest dictatorships in history.


It's bad enough that the Chinese government's one-child-per-couple policy has resulted in over 450 million abortions carried out at the point of a Chinese military revolver.


The worst part of it is that we are willingly walking into the Chinese buzz saw like zombies under the control of a Mongolian master.


The latest revelations involve  the Chinese government's  control of the Internet and computer manufacturing.


A few years ago the Chinese government formed a new division of the  their military operation dedicated solely to cyber warfare.


On the island of Hainan, off the Chinese coast in the Gulf of Tonkin, there resides a gigantic army of well- trained military who spend all their time hacking into computers and computer controlled security systems throughout the world.


The Chinese have accumulated a list of the most important American military information technology systems and various private computer systems with information critical to our national security.


This conglomeration of vital computer controlled systems is referred to as the GhostNet. The Chinese have directed these government employees to hack into the GghostNet in order to maintain a perpetual advantage over the defense systems of the United States.


The potential is terrifying.


They know as much about White House operations as the Secret Service.


 It may be that as of this very moment the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America lacks the ability to control the deployment of computer-controlled rocket systems.


These people are not our friends.


This next item is also quite chilling.


Steve Jobs' beloved Apple  Corporation and  thousands of other computer manufacturers continue to outsource computer assembly and fabrication to factories in the People's Republic of China.


With the authoritarian government of Communist China regulating factories, it is feared that the Chinese-made computers are all equipped with a doomsday chip buried somewhere in the central processing unit of every computer they make.


This Trojan horse scheme would allow the Chinese government to shut down, monitor, or even take over computer activity at the Pentagon and even that laptop you use at Starbucks to catch up on the success of your fantasy baseball team.

             When you support Chinese manufacturing through your purchase of that low-cost product at Walmart, you also lend support to a government that seeks world domination through intimidation and violence.

Remember Tiananmen Square?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

             And then do something about it.

             Do not buy products manufactured in China and do not support politicians willing to turn a blind eye to human rights violations in China.

             Some worry that the red Dragon is coming.

             I tell you that the red Dragon is already here and he stands ready to devour your children. Apocalyptic.

             Do something about it before it's too late.

             Chairman Mao does not deserve a place at the table of freedom-loving nations.

Stop inviting him into your home.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pucker up for Patriotic Demonstration of Appreciation (love what we've got)

Pope John Paul  The Great used to kiss the ground of the tarmac as soon as he deplaned in a foreign nation.

My fellow Americans, I ask you  to go outside, brush away whatever snow is on the ground,  and gratefully kiss the soil of this great republic.

Because of the opportunities and high standard of living in the good old USA, we should press our lips against the terra firma of our own native land.

I just returned from a trip to India.

 It is impossible in this single column to list all the ways in which this burgeoning economic powerhouse differs from the United States. Here are a few.

First of all, the distance between the haves and the have-nots is measured in light years in India. The most impoverished Americans live a lifestyle that might be considered decadent in India.

People of wealth in India  avert their eyes from small children wandering around naked in streets where  pre-teens consider prostitution as a viable and frequently pursued alternative to starvation.

 The poorest neighborhoods of Cleveland  do not generate the suffocating sense of hopelessness that surrounds you in the squalid ghettos of Calcutta or Delhi.

 Mother Theresa wanted to serve where mankind suffered the most. She chose India.

The infrastructure  remains virtually nonexistent.

There is no such thing as trash pickup day. You empty the garbage can in the street or in a field where desperate human scavengers recover shreds of things of infinitesimal value and wandering dogs or monkeys take care of the rest.

Sanitary sewage is dumped into the Ganges River, where millions of poor Indians pick up diseases like cholera and dysentery. The Ganges has religious significance to most of the Indian population but I must tell you that the Cuyahoga River is like Perrier when compared to the disgusting waters of the Ganges.

Electricity is very unreliable, even in the big cities. If you desire  electric service, you don't make a phone call to CEI. You pay some kid to shimmy up a telephone pole and splice into the existing power line on your street.

 That's the way everybody gets electrical service.  You never have a bill.

Hot water?  Maybe.  But don't count on it.  No luxurious showers. Just get used to it.

Despite all of these problems, the Indian financial sector is growing even faster than its population. And that's saying something, considering that this nation of 1 billion people produces a new child every second and will soon surpass China in total population.

The economy is growing at a brisk pace because reliable Indian laborers will work long hours at a very inexpensive rate.

 It's funny how abject poverty will motivate you to toil diligently on behalf of an American computer  company that has outsourced its customer service center to India.

Hopefully the standard of living for all citizens of India will improve as their economy continues to grow. And I hate to see this expansion occur at the cost of American jobs.

Mahatma Gandhi led a peaceful revolt that forced the British to allow Indian citizens to govern themselves.

 It's now time for the Indian government to harness the economic growth to lift its citizens so that everyone can live in dignity with decent housing, nutrition, health care, and freedom from exploitation.

In the meantime, we as Americans should realize what we have and thank Almighty God for the blessings we take for granted everyday.

So brush away that snow and give a kiss to this great land.

The land of the untouchables has shown me that we live in a  fantastic country.

Chapstick, anyone?