Sunday, August 27, 2006

I Am What I Am

The Good Book says, “One generation passeth away and another generation cometh. But the earth abideth forever.”

Among other things, that tells me, that my generation is not only going to pass away, but also that the generation that now is, is tied to the generation that preceded it. We all are a part of an ongoing movement set in motion many many generations ago, in the beginning of time. We are tied to the past and weare connected to the future. Everything is joined together in a continuous stream. My generation is a product of the generation preceding us.

And this is also true of not just us as people, but also true for me individually. I am a product of the past. I am here today as a result of some other people and events and circumstances that took place many years ago. If things had not happened
just the way they did and certain people made some particular choices, there
would never have been a “me.” I would not be here today. There are certain
people, not only responsible for my existence, but also for at least a part of my
make up and character.

So, as a starting point, let me say that I exist. Here I am, I exist. I am not
concerned as to whether that is good or bad. “To be or not to be,” that is not the
question. Whether it is a good thing or not, all I know is that, I do, in deed and in fact, exist.

From the time we were small children, we learned to use the words, I, me, mine,
and my. We spend a lifetime calling attention to our own existence, in one manner
or another, of letting people know, “hey, I am.” “I exist.” We sometimes get the
feeling that it doesn’t matter that much, that we are nobody or that we don’t
amount to much.

But I want to say that we not only exist, but we are very important to a lot of

There was a time earlier, when I was not. And I time is coming in the future, that I will no longer be, as far as this world is concerned. I have been here for 52 years. But for now, at least, I can say, I am.

And to go further, I can say not only that I am, but I am what I am - whatever that is, good or bad. I personally don’t believe there is much difference between what I
am and who I am. We all can say the same thing. “I am what I am.” Do you ever
wander who or what that is? Have you ever heard of anyone having an identity crisis? The implication is that some of us may not really know who we are or
what we are. And that is pretty valid.

It may take some a while to figure out just who they are. For me, I am comfortable
with my understanding of who I am. I know it is my birthday, 52 years. All things
being equal, I can plan for my lifetime to include 25 to 30 more years. Who knows,
you never know. I know I am not important to the world. I am not actively
involved in major causes today. But I also know that to some people, I just may
be the most important person in the world. I have people that look to me and rely
on me. They love me, and I love them. Our love for each other is real, and
sustaining, and important.

I have friends. I have learned that friends are important. Real important. We need our friends to talk to, to ask for help from time to time, to ask them to listen to us from time to time, and to be there for us. Our friends encourage us. Sometimes challenge us. We help each other. It is a two way street. But more than that, they allow us an outlet for sharing the details of our life. Talking and sharing with them things that happen to us and that are important to us is not just helpful, but also fun. It can bring merriment and joy into our life when we have that someone to talk to, that cares what is going on with us. We laugh together and dance together and it fills our life with joy and laughter and peace. We have fun. And then when hard times come, we can hold hands and cry together, and plan
together to pull ourselves back up. I am very thankful for the friends I have in my
life today.

I am. I am what I am. And I am happy with that.

I know my life matters to some. It actually does matter. I can give advice. Sometimes someone wants advice from me. So sometimes I teach. Other times I listen. I think it is important that we show we care to those for whom we care.
Give them our time. We spend our time with those we care for, family and friends.
The time is spent hugging, laughing, swapping stories or maybe we work together to seek solutions to problems. Sometimes it is light-hearted and fun, and sometimes it can get serious.

But that is life. I can look back some day and remember the time I spent with
someone in particular and remember how I was their friend. I tried to be a friend,
the best friend that I could be. And they tried their best to be my friend. Others we know not so well, but we really liked them and have fun memories of the times we
spent together. And then still others, are those we didn’t care for or want to have
in our life at all. They were bad news.

But as I think to myself, and say, “I am what I am,” and then try to define it, it is not so important what career path I chose. I have had several already, but none of them defined me. How I made money was not so important. I think the most
defining thing is the love we have in our hearts, the love we have for ourselves,
for our parents, our family, our spouses, our children and of course our friends.

I have loved and lost. I had relationships that didn’t work out. I have had losses,
and lost people I cared about. But I have had successes too.

“What I am” seems to me to be more about my values. We have all grown up over
the years being taught the value and substance of faith, hope and love. We have
learned that faith, hope, and love, are not passive feelings but the active positive
substance that define our character, our goals, our values. Our faith, hope, and
love declare to the world what we believe to be good, better, and best in life; what
we consider important, what we focus on in life, and that which we will celebrate.

And the most significant factor in molding my character and values has been the
people around me. My family and my friends.

All of this is just a long winded way to say thank you to each of you, for being in
my life, for the times we get to be together. I am surrounded by good people. I
am rich in ways that cannot be bought. I have been blessed in an abundant and self evident manner. My wife, my children, friends, family and all loved ones are
the blessings in my life.

I love you all, and thanks to you, “I am what I am.”

Sunday, August 6, 2006


There was a time when good manners were commonplace. Young adults answered with the customary "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir," gentlemen tipped their hats and neighbors banded together to welcome new families.

We were gracious in conduct and courteous in demeanor, contributing a thread of gentility to our surroundings. Sadly, I had to watch old episodes of Leave It to Beaver to come across manners like that. Welcome to 2006.

We are different today—an era of fast cars, fast food, fast computers and dwindling tolerance. Civility seems doomed to extinction. It should have its own glass case alongside Archie Bunker's chair in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Rudeness is a problem.

We have become a people where blatant disrespect is everyday: a surly bunch of unchaperoned schoolchildren with full reign of the classroom.

Take our behavior behind the wheel, for example. Remember the days when a car ride was a pleasant event? Neither do I. Our daily commute can be as treacherous as the Indianapolis 500.

And God help us if traffic is at a standstill. The language is fouler than the fumes in the air.

Rudeness has many faces.

Lack of manners for Americans is not whether you confuse the salad fork for the dinner fork. It's about the daily assault of selfishness—inconsiderate behavior.

Rudeness can be found in high schools where fierce competitiveness dominates the popularity game and in the workplace where the "kill or be killed" philosophy, once the underbelly of ambition, is now the standard.

Insolence is like a cancer. Simply put, it is a question of sides.

Some favor a well-mannered society and will stifle their rudeness. The others are the conspirators in the quickening demise of civility and respect.