TURNING SUCCESS INTO FAILURE – Rich Paschall

Thinking Small, Rich Paschall

Some organizations think big and do big.  You may know such organizations.  You may wonder how they accomplish so much.  How can a social service agency, school, church, or park district pull off grand events with a small budget and a small staff?  Yet, there are quite a number that do it.  What is the difference between the successes and those that think big and fail?  What is the difference between thinking bag, and those who just think small?

Image: Mashable.com
Image: Mashable.com

Many think big but fail because they aren’t willing to do the work.  They want to be triumphant, but they are just hoping it will somehow happen. They rely on others stepping up to do what they should be doing.

The truth is that those running an event must step forward. They need to recruit volunteers to do what needs doing to guarantee success.  Some leaders are willing to do this, but many others rely on dumb luck. Dumb being the operative word. It’s the dedication to the task that’s important, not luck.

You have to work harder to find potential leaders and willing workers than in years past. So many things compete for our attention. Life is busier than it used to be … and then, there are the apps on our phones, tablets and laptops. We may not be willing to devote the large chunk of time required to make a successful event. If it took five calls to get two people to help out 20 years ago, maybe it takes 10 calls now. Or 20. Is the organization willing to do it?

In many cases, the answer is no.

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Being reliant on Facebook calls to action and church bulletin messages will likely get you nowhere.  It’s the personal touch that matters.

Text messages and email blasts don’t have the personal touch you need to win volunteers. We are in the digital age and can contact a lot of people quickly by email, social media, and text messaging, but it’s not a reliable road to success. Such messages get lost in the myriad messages that are posted every day.

So, we actually have to talk to people if we want to get their attention.  We have to pick up the phone.  We have to meet them at events.  We have to stand outside of Church, school, wherever and shake their hands.  Even in the digital age, or maybe exactly because of it, we must reach out to people personally, if we want to help a project meet its goal.

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Then there are those who think small from the start.  They see the modern-day task of making a success so daunting that they prefer not to tackle it at all.  These types of “leaders” obviously are not the ones who brought the organization along over the years, but they are certainly the ones to stall it in its tracks.  Saying it is too hard, or it can’t be done, or people will not step forward anymore is admitting defeat from the outset.  It is also proof that they are in the wrong business.  There is a choice to meet the challenge or run from it.  Some choose to run.  Let them go.

Recently, I was involved in an alumni event that found the organization itself dragging its feet on a number of issues.  When the night of the event came, after months of planning meetings, things did not go smoothly.  Nevertheless, it was the largest alumni event they had in decades. Yes, decades.  Were they happy with this?

Because of its shortcomings, the pastor promptly declared it would have been better to run an event for 50 or 60 people than this event for 250 — which was much more work and went poorly. The pastor was upset.

Was it personal embarrassment?  No, because he didn’t work on it. Unfortunately, he was looking for ways to place blame rather than looking for how to make events better in the future.

People who step into leadership roles but who have little leadership experience, are likely to torpedo your efforts. Those who have their hands full already and see an event as too much additional work, will likely trip you up. Those who are afraid of embarrassment and will only accept success — never failure — will only minimally succeed. They’ve already set limits on their potential success. Worse, they have unknowingly limited the likely success of the organizations they are supposed to lead.

LIVING IN TWO PLACES – Rich Paschall

A Tale of Two Cities, by Rich Paschall

A while back I saw this Daily Prompt question: “If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?”  Normally I am not a Daily Prompt kind of guy.  I am on the subscriber list, but usually by the time I read the email notice, it is a day or two later and I just delete.  This one sounded rather intriguing, so I stashed it away for later use.

St Petersburg bridgeWhat would you pick?  Would your home town be included?  Would your current residence be a choice?  Remember, in this scenario you can have any two cities.  Shall it be a northern city for summer and a warmer climate for winter?  I guess you can reverse that if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.  If you are close enough to the Equator, you have no need to move away from the cold.

Maybe you need somewhere exotic as one of your stops.  Fiji comes to my mind.  There must be somewhere in the South Pacific that is warm and inviting.  If you think we must be restricted to cities, then I will say that Nadi, Fiji has over 42,000 people so we will count it as a city rather than a village.  If your home is in Nadi, I guess you can still spend plenty of time on a beach on the other side of the island.

How about a European capital?  I have always found London inviting.  Author Samuel Johnson once famously stated, “…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  I guess that could be said of many of the great cities of the world.  I found Rome, Paris and Brussels all to be interesting and vibrant cities.  I have not been to other European capital cities.  Perhaps our choice of two cities should include one unknown and one known.

If you have not been to the other side of the world from where you are, would you chose a city solely on the recommendation of others?   Would you do an internet search of other places, or strictly stay with what you know?

When my father retired and moved from the cold of the Midwest to Florida, I began to understand the attraction of what they called “snowbirds” in the South.  These were the people who kept their homes in the north, but spent the winters in the south.  I loved Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota and many of the Gulf cities.  I could see doing exactly that.  Perhaps your second city would be in another warm climate.  Arizona? Southern California? Hawaii?

Chicago Skyline
Chicago skyline from the museum campus

Actually, it did not take me long to settle on two spots.  When I eliminated the fantasies and considered what is most important, I knew the answers.  First would be Chicago.  It is a world-class city with world-class attractions.  It has major sports teams and fine stadiums, old and new.  It has theater and concert venues. The major shows and Rock and Roll acts make it here when they tour.  There is a lakefront that stretches the entire east side of the city, with open parkland, beaches and museums.

Al Capone does not live here.  We are not the murder capital of the country, we are not even in the top 10.  We do get a lot of publicity when there is crime.  Like every big city, we have big city problems.  I would say these problems are increased by the NRA suing the city over any attempt to keep guns away from gangs and criminals, but that is another column.  We have friendly people who celebrate diversity.

You may not have heard of my other choice.  I guess it is not really a city, but rather a small town of about 20,000 people.  It is in the beautiful Alsace region of France.  You will find small towns with ancient buildings sprinkled among the vineyards.  In the distance on top of some of the hills, you will find castles left from centuries ago.  If you say that this will not do, I must pick a larger “city,” I will move a short distance to the north and the lovely city of Strasbourg, capital of the European Union.

Selestat
Selestat, France

Why would I pick such completely different places on two different continents?  Why would I choose places that have  similar climates, where neither will escape the snow and cold?  How could I spend half a year in a big city and half in a small town which holds none of the major attractions?  The answer to me is quite simple.

The locale is no longer the most important consideration when deciding where to live.  At one time it may have been important.  When I am retired and tired of shoveling snow, maybe I would desire the warm weather locations.  Now it is about family and friends.  Aunts and cousins of various generations are here in Chicago.  Friends made recently and friends since childhood are here too.

In France is one of my best friends.  He spent a year here in 2009 and when he left we maintained our friendship through visits once or twice a year, here and in France.  When I go to France we always see things I have not seen before, so it is great adventure.  If he was somewhere else in France, then I would name that city instead.  Spending time with family and close friends, no matter where they reside, makes their locations the places I want to be.  For now my choices are Chicago, Illinois and Communauté de communes de Sélestat et environs.  Where are your two homes to be?

MY MISERY DOESN’T LOVE COMPANY – Marilyn Armstrong

We say stuff because it’s a thing everyone says. I mean, you know, it’s a saying. So we say it. A saying is something to say when you don’t really have anything meaningful or original to say. Sometimes, if you get the right saying, it makes you sound clever and perceptive. Mostly, it makes you sound like you don’t have anything to say. Just saying.

Today I would like to analyze Misery loves company.

This is a truism and a popular saying to which I cannot relate. What, exactly, does it mean? Do any of the following (or perhaps all of the following) apply to you?

— Miserable people like being with other miserable people.

— Miserable people like to make others miserable too.

— Miserable people hate being alone.

— Miserable people like being miserable.

— Misery spurs creativity.

— Miserable people resent it when the people around them are happy.

I don’t like being miserable. When I am unhappy, I don’t want to be around anyone. I want to hide. If I’m unable to hide, I put on my best fake smile and make a Happy Face. Being alone requires a lot less effort.

I don’t find unhappiness, depression or any kind of misery inspirational. Quite the opposite. When I’m down, I don’t want to write. I don’t want to take pictures. I don’t feel creative and I don’t care to share the feeling. Come to think of it, that’s not entirely true. When my mother died and I was in Israel, my Rabbi looked at me and said: “You’re a writer. So WRITE.”

I wrote. It wound being published and everybody cried. I guess that was my equivalent of misery loving company. And it was a near moment of fame for me. Literally, hundreds of people read the paper and cried on buses, at work, in coffee shops. I really shared that misery.

Since I hate being a drag, I usually stay away from everybody but the dogs. They don’t care about my moods. They’re just glad to be in my company, especially if I have a sandwich.

Humans, on the other hand, ask questions I don’t want to answer. Being around people who are equally miserable does not make me feel better unless it’s a funeral and misery is the heart of the event. Mostly, though, depressed friends increase my misery quotient. This concept doesn’t work for me. If it’s a truism, for whom is it true?

Are you miserable? Does your sadness make you want to be with other down-hearted people? Does it make you want to find happy people and explain to them why anyone who is happy simply doesn’t understand the situation?

Does sadness inspire you to write, paint or do something creative? Just wondering.

Because when I’m unhappy or depressed, the only thing I want is to stop feeling that way. Quickly. The world is a sad place too much of the time. I’d rather not make it worse.

LOSING OUR LEGACY – Rich Paschall

Traditions, RICH PASCHALL

A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no?

The strength of many schools, churches and community organizations lies in its rituals and traditions.  They provide a constancy that is reassuring to students, members, and alumni.  While traditions may seem a bit crazy to some, to most they are cherished as part of their heritage.  Those who do not honor tradition are likely to incur the wrath of those who want to find comfort and solace in the reassurance that traditions may bring.

When traditions remain constant throughout the years, they begin to bring identity to organizations.  The school, recreation program, and community center become known for their special features and regular activities.  Identity leads to purpose and purpose leads to dedication and commitment.  Maintaining what you have been good at through the years is important to gathering loyalty.

And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you
in one word… Tradition.Fiddler 73

Consider the years you went to elementary school or high school.  If you should return to those institutions you are likely to ask if they have the same tournaments and games.  You may ask about the basketball, football or baseball teams.  You may want to know if the school still has the Arts Festival, Chorale and Band concerts.  You may be interested in whether the big annual show is still produced, even if you were not actually a part of the shows.  These were traditions and you want to know if they are still alive.

Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years.

Long lasting and enjoyable traditions will find support in parents and alumni.  Just as everyone wants to feel that they have a purpose and identity, they also want to see that their schools, parks and community organizations maintain an identity and purpose as well.

While some graduates may always feel that their years, their programs and participation were the best years of a school or organization, they will nonetheless support an organization with their word of mouth praises, and perhaps even their dollars, in order to keep the traditions alive.

Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.

It is true that some remain a part of their school or recreational program throughout their entire lives.  As students become young adults and then parents, they may feel it important to maintain a relationship to those places that were important to them when they were young.  They may even wish to send their children to these same schools and programs.  That is how strong the bond of tradition can be.

Not long ago, a former community resident passed away at the age of 90.  From the time I was a child at the local Boys Club until just a few years ago, this dedicated woman was always at the carnivals, festivals, and fund-raisers of all sorts.  It was her passion to be a part of the traditional events each year.  The value of her volunteer service cannot be calculated.  The importance of the traditions she helped to maintain was something beyond measure, to her and everyone who knew her.

Unfortunately, leadership comes along in the life of some schools and community groups who do not understand the importance of what they have.  They set about changing things for no other reason than change.  These types of people can quickly tear down what took generations to build.  A decade of bad leadership can wipe out a lifetime of good will and dedication.

When I returned to certain alumni events in recent years, I was disheartened to see the lack of concern for the past.  It is not that we were better than anyone else, but it is that we had an identity in our long cherished events.  For our school, it was the Fine Arts.  The Fine Arts meant nothing to recent leaders which was disheartening to many of us.

When you walk the halls of an old and venerable institution, you like to see the pictures, trophies, artwork and sayings of the past.  It is discouraging to know that the school song is unimportant, the traditions are gone and the leadership is oblivious to its importance.  When someone takes away your tradition and legacy, it is time to move on.

Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!

NO SPORTS, POLITICS, OR RELIGION – Rich Paschall

Some Old World Wisdom, by Rich Paschall

When thinking of blog topics, there is no shortage of subject matter. Some general areas offer a lot of topics.  With a bit of extra thought, there’s an endless supply. Consider well how many areas you can pursue if you are willing to delve into sports, politics, or religion. Each is bound to set some readers ablaze.  They would surely bring lots of comments. You do want lively discussion, don’t you?

How lively do you want it?

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Venture into a sports bar well into the evening and you are likely to find plenty of spirited discussions regarding sports.  These ideas should help you out:  Will the Cubs win another pennant?  Will the White Sox ever get the love the Cubs get?  Will the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup?  Will the Bears get back to the Super Bowl?  Will the Bulls beat the hated ____________ (fill in New York team here)?  There is little reason get into crosstown rivalries. Dissing out-of-town teams works, but only locally.

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We could always take off after the Bronx Bombers, the Patriots and _______ (name your alleged scandal here), or Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. But why alienate readers in New York, Boston or Dallas? Perhaps we should just write about the ridiculous BCS Bowl series or the commissioner of _________ (name your least favorite here).

A good informational, yet rather neutral article might find favor. Others might conclude that you are trying to make a point, like promoting someone’s stats for the hall of fame.

A discussion of gays in sports or an Olympic diver coming out of the closet might get you into politics so we may have to think carefully about those.  Yes, we will leave the political area of sports alone.

politics-1800s

Speaking of your politics (or mine), perhaps we can find common ground. I could write short stories with a political theme, or write about a run for office that brings victory, but no win for the candidate. Too improbable?

How about the death of democracy through campaign spending?

Imagine buying an election. Maybe this hits too close to home … or do you think it merely fiction or satire?

Political satire is sure to get people discussing or fighting, especially if you throw in climate change as the kicker. Then again, maybe no one will bother to read this stuff. Maybe not such a great idea after all?

How about hitting the topics head-on in a nice well-researched article? We can talk about Democrats, Republicans, capitalists, or socialists. On second thought, that could split the audience from the get-go. Better to look at the subjects of the debates and write a well-reasoned essay.

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Where to begin?

Abortion? Immigration? Gay Rights? Civil Rights? Gun Control? Campaign reform? Welfare Reform?  Any reform?

National defense?

Can we all consider any of that without alienating people? There’s always alienating the aliens. Can’t go wrong with that, right?

Well, maybe not.

If politics is too risky, how about the world’s great religions? They’re all rooted in love, are they not? We could discuss the philosophies that ignite the passions behind our beliefs and thus find common ground. Peace and harmony at last.

Except that so many people believe their god is the only one. Some believe their god is telling them to kill others — which sets religion against religion. Alas, there’s nothing new about that. Belief is supposed to bring hope and joy, not war. Yet religion has been the cause of many wars. They are all about religion or land. Check it out.

God is on every side of every war, or so they say. Who goes into battle without the blessing of their particular deity? How can I expect to have a civil discussion in such an emotionally-charged arena?  I have innocently had to extract my foot from my mouth before. Maybe I should let the Dalai Lama write on this topic.

Soon, there won’t be a Dalai Lama because the Chinese won’t allow one. Oops.

The "Dodge City Peace Commission", June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.
The “Dodge City Peace Commission”, June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain, and Neal Brown.

Years ago, when one of my favorite innkeepers was alive, we used to drop by his establishment.  It was a great place for lively discussions. If anyone got a little over-heated, the owner walked over with a wink to say, “No sports, no politics, no religion!”

Seemingly a strange thing to say when a sports channel was almost always playing nearby, but he meant “No arguments, no heated discussions.” If arguments got out of hand, he’d say “No sports, no politics, no religion — or you’re out of here!”

That seemed a good approach to barroom politics because these were the areas of discussion that often ended with unpleasantness. Especially when dialogue was fueled by alcohol. Maybe his attitude probably short-circuited a few lively discussions, but he definitely cut off some brawls, too.

Let’s avoid them in the blog-o-sphere and cyberspace too. If Facebook is any indicator, that sounds like a plan!

WHAT WE DON’T UNDERSTAND – Rich Paschall

Our Country’s Mysteries, by Rich Paschall

There are a lot of things in life we do not understand. The concept of Infinity is one of them. We know space does not just end, but how can it go on forever? When considering space, black holes are another mystery. How can there be these areas of nothingness in the universe? If we fly our spaceship into one, will the “gravitational acceleration” pull us through the space/time continuum into another universe? I guess that is a question for Star Trek fans.

Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Egypt, the spheres of Costa Rica, the stone heads of Easter Island and various other ancient structures have remained a mystery despite extensive study. All we have are theories on how and why they came to be. I visited Stonehenge and the placement of these giants stones was certainly a mystery to me.

Stonehenge

Quantum computing is a mystery to me and many others, but of course some people, including world leaders, understand it while others do not.

“The noise (from windmills) causes cancer.”     
– Donald Trump

What many of us in the country do not understand is how so many people can follow a leader who has made over 10,000 false statements or flat-out lies to the general public? This is not an opinion, but rather documented fact. News outlets have checked statements and offered proof on these. You Tube videos show Trump contradicting himself or lying to the public and yet his fan base continues to follow despite the obvious lies.

Says troops recently received “one of the biggest pay raises” ever, and that it was the first pay increase in “more than 10 years. 
In fact he claimed it was more than 10 per cent. It was 2.6 per cent. Troops received pay raises every year for the last 3 decades.

It is a mystery to us how so many can follow a leader who insults our allies while praising dictators with a history of violence towards political opponents. Trump counts Kim Jung Un as a friend. This “friend”kills his opponents, starves his people and continues his missile and nuclear programs. Despite recent missile firings, Trump continues to believe in this despot.

“I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him.” – Donald Trump May 4, 2019

Trump has met with Vladimir Putin five times and had an hour and a half phone call with him on May 3, 2019. What did they talk about? A few general statements were released but the content of these meetings and conversation are a mystery.

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands before attending a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. – The US and Russian leaders opened an historic summit in Helsinki, with Donald Trump promising an “extraordinary relationship” and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to thrash out disputes around the world. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

“The fact that Trump didn’t want the State Department or members of the White House team to know what he was talking with Putin about suggests it was not about advancing our country’s national interest but something more problematic.”  – Andrew S. Weiss, Russia adviser to President Bill Clinton

There is the mystery of why Trump’s fan base continues their allegiance while he shows little or no allegiance to our allies. He has repeatedly insulted our friends, and showed virtually no regard for the opinions of others. This “speak your mind and insult your friends” approach is apparently popular with the right-wing of the Trump base for some perplexing reason.

It is also truly baffling that many can follow a leader of the nation who seems to have little knowledge of the nation he purportedly leads. Time and again Trump has either misstated the facts or shows no interest in them. He may be the first president with such little knowledge of the nation.

The United States entered into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949 to secure the defense and security of member countries against outside threats. A main concern was the action of the Soviet Union on the borders of some western European friends following World War II. In order to deter future armed conflict this multi-nation agreement was signed. It would be important for our leader to know about this. It is a major point in history books. For some bewildering reason, Trump does not know it.

He could read about it on the Department of State website under Office of the Historian. It gives a nice background on many events. He can not read “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” on the website. It was “retired” since his term in office began. The devotion of followers after this continued ignorance of US history and US agreements is mystifying.

We could go on about virtually every aspect of 45’s tenure. His trade war hurts farmers and others. His pulling out of the world-wide climate agreement harms the planet. His relaxing of pollution standards endangers our citizens. His appointment of millionaires and billionaires to government posts for which they know little or nothing harms our democracy. His hate speech at rallies encourages violence in the country. His appointment of extreme right-wing judges at all levels harms the cause of Justice. His tax breaks for the rich has created massive debt for our government. The threat to offset a little of this debt by cutting back on Social Security and Medicare is troublesome to the elderly and disabled. His jokes about shooting immigrants are dangerous. Despite these things, for some inexplicable reason, throngs of followers still cheer him on.

What We Now Understand

In high school and college history classes, we often wondered how a despotic leader like Mussolini or Hitler could have so many devoted followers. They divided their people against one another. They blamed others for their problems. They preached violence against certain religions and ethnic groups. They advocated nationalism above other concerns. They made their followers, no matter how far down the social or economic ladder, follow them in almost blind devotion.

First, you get elected.

How could this be? What hold did these leaders have over their people? Did they actually believe the hate speech they were hearing? These questions presented a mystery our history books could not answer. Recent political events and the following of 45 by so many have given some insight into this mystery.

Sources:
President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims,” washingtonpost.com April 29. 2019.
Trump wrong on size and timing of military pay increases,” politifact.com, December 27, 2018.
North Korea ‘test fires short-range missiles’,” bbc.com May 4, 2019.
Trump and Putin Have Met Five Times. What Was Said Is a Mystery.“nytimes.com, January 15, 2019.
How an Isolated Trump Insulted Allies and Dismissed the World at UN,” Bloomberg.com September 26, 2018.
All Pants on Fire! statements involving Donald Trump,” politifact.com frequently updated
Trump may really not know how NATO works,” washingtonpost.com, March 24, 2017.
The President’s ‘Jokes’ About Shooting Migrants Are No Laughing Matter,” nymag.com/intelligencer, May 9, 2019.

 

 

DON’T BITE! – Rich Paschall

If you are a fisherman, and perhaps even if you are not, you can understand the frustration that comes with the sport. That is, you go out knowing fish are swimming all around you. Maybe a lot of them and you are ready to reel them in.  You bait the hook and drop it in amongst all those lovely fish and you wait … and wait.

Nothing happens.

It is as if Charlie Tuna or some holy mackerel was there, warning the other fish to avoid your bait.

“This is good bait,” you may think.  “It is big and tempting and the sea creatures should flock to it,” but they just smirk and swim off to visit other old timers to see if their little fishes are off in schools somewhere else.

Avoid the bait

This is how we should be too.  We should stop taking the bait, but sometimes we do it anyway because we can’t help it.

I am talking about social media and consequent conversation.  The rants and bitterness that follow. There’s always someone tossing bait in the water.

We have to keep swimming because no good comes from getting hooked.

It would appear that many throw out bait on Facebook or Twitter, though it could be any media and there are many more. They aren’t trying to have a conversation. They are trying to start a fight by luring in friends and acquaintances.

In this politically charged “us versus them” environment fostered and encouraged by 45 and his ilk — not to mention the social media companies and the Russians, Chinese and who knows who else — there are always enough snapping jaws waiting for someone to snap up the bait.

No matter what political arguments fill their entries, none are worthy of our time. Trolls do this for sport. They think it’s fun. Most of us don’t think it’s fun at all.

It is like taking your boat out on Lake Michigan hoping to land a big one.  You are likely to end up with carp or alewives, of course. Because that’s what lives there.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Whether you are posting something in favor of POTUS or against, there is someone ready to take the bait and tug on the line.  While an astounding number of people are not in favor of the current pretender to the throne, he still has rabid supporters willing to dangle the bait– or take it themselves. The battle is on.

These battles of back and forth with fish can get rowdy and ugly.

Soon after the terrible display of hate in Charlottesville, I posted a brief piece I saw about how the USA helped defeat the Nazis in World War 2.  I thought it was important to remember (or to learn) what that was all about.  I know exactly what my parents would have thought of recent events.

My father fought in World War II.  It is terrible, in my opinion, that people would carry the Nazi flags on our streets but maybe some forgot.  I had no idea I was dangling bait for the alt-right.

What followed my post was a long series of comments by a few people who conducted a mean-spirited, name-calling “debate.”  I could not keep up with it or monitor the frequent comments, which apparently turned threatening.  After someone complained, Facebook stepped in and removed the most egregious comments.  At my first opportunity, I removed the post completely.

History really is not debatable or worth threatening someone, but that’s the road we’ve gone down.

Due to my stance on some topics, or my willingness to take the bait on a few occasions, I guess I’ve lost a few friends.  I can’t say it bothers me. If you are that bigoted, whether your opinion is based on some misinterpretation of history, the Bible, or some other religion, it’s best I swim on and miss the fight. I’m too old to have this level of stress.

Be careful. You never know when a big fish might pull you into the water.

Until recently, I used to get together a few times a month with someone I have known since childhood. He’s a bit right of center politically, but we had mostly avoided political arguments. That changed in the current social climate.

He has taken the dangling bait.  I was playing along for a while, but I now see the futility of it.

It will start with my friend saying something about 45 or other right-wing topics.  I might respond, “As a former military man, how do you feel about 45 making comments about North Korea which also seem to give up military secrets?”  It is a reasonable question, I think … but it only proves I’ve taken the bait.

“What about Obama?” he might reply.  “You never said anything about Obama when he was in office.”

“Yes, I did,” I usually point out.

“I never heard it.”

“You never listen to me.”

“And what about Rahm (Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago)? What about that?” He will say in a voice somewhat louder.

“What does this have to do with 45 and North Korea?” I inquire to try to steer the conversation back around, but it’s too late.  I am already hooked.