If we’re honest we all have some meanness in us. I have seen some of the best people I know denigrate others behind their backs. I have seen compassionate people wish some degree of ill will on others, either professionally or personally. I have seen socially aware people completely disregard the exploitation of producers or the environment when deciding what to purchase and where to purchase it from. The truth is I have done all of those things before, and likely will again.
I sincerely believe that mean actions do not make someone fundamentally a bad person, but those actions are never to be honored or celebrated, which is exactly what this piece about Steve Jobs by Gene Marks does.
(God bless LeBron for teaching us how to announce any career change. “Taking my talents to South Beach.” That still cracks me up!)
I guess I may as well use this blog for something, since I rarely use it for blogging. This is more or less a note to my friends to let them know of some big personal news for my family and me.
Those who know me know that, for better or worse, I can get pretty wound up about any social injustice that needs to be addressed. I get some right and I get some wrong along the way to be sure. There is no issue that I’m more passionate about than the abolition of the death penalty. It’s systemically biased based on race, socioeconomic status, mental capacity, ignorance and other factors. Innocent people have been executed, and even more close to it, often freed by chance. It’s expensive and ineffective. In short, even if you don’t disagree with it philosophically, it’s bad policy.
I have had the great privilege of being offered the position of communications and development director at a national death penalty abolition organization, Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation. It’s a great organizations that has been around since 1976, and it certainly fits in line with my policy and philosophical beliefs.
I start in a few days and will work from Little Rock until January, at which time Shannon, Cash and I will be moving to DC. That gives my Little Rock people 3 months to buy me drinks, go hiking, have dinner or the other things we enjoy together. I’m sure I’ll be a little more sappy and sad as January nears, but for now, let’s celebrate with a cold Diamond Bear somewhere!
Osama bin Laden is dead and people are joyful, even giddy about it. I completely understand why. Like every other American who was over 5 years old on September 11, 2001, the images and sounds of death are indelibly seared into my memory. Planes flying into buildings, bodies landing with a thud onto concrete and asphalt 110 stories after they leapt. Noxious gas and debris coated people to the point that only tears and fear were visible through the dust. Anger, uncertainty and heartbreak rightfully hung over the country like an omnipresent cloud. It was a profoundly horrible time that we experienced together.
By all credible accounts, bin Laden was the leader of the group that caused that devastation. It is human nature to hate him and to want him dead, even to celebrate his death. I judge nobody for having that visceral reaction; in my human reactive response I share those sentiments. It’s the human way, but it is not the Way of Jesus.
To me, part of following Jesus is learning how he taught us to replace intuitive reactions with a scandalous love and grace. That’s true for day-to-day life—in decisions big and small—but a major event like bin Laden’s death gives us a more obvious and collective chance to examine the Way.
I suppose I’m alright with capitalism. (I hope my lack of enthusiasm was evident.) Really I can boil it down to one thing: (to modify Churchill) capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the others. I don’t believe in it religiously like a lot of people, and I don’t think it’s morally superior to many other economic philosophies that are often vilified (e.g. socialism, communism). Just like all the others, capitalism can lead to a completely morally bankrupt way of thinking about humanity.
A couple days ago the economist Larry Kudlow had this to say in the wake of the tsunami in Japan:
The markets are taking this in stride. The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.
Kudlow later apologized, saying he had flubbed the line. I don’t believe his intentions were to sound that insensitive. And if a human being is physically placed in front of him and he had to choose between that person’s life or a great day for markets, I think he’d choose life. But I do believe the words were the result of how he sees the world, and it shows how immoral faceless capitalism can be. It was a classic Freudian slip.
For those who are movie and/or Oscar geeks, here are my picks. Call me names, tell me how wrong I am, etc. For those who couldn’t care less, you may want to skip this post!
Will win: The King’s Speech
Should win: The Fighter
I have seen all 10 nominees and, frankly, didn’t expect The Fighter to be in my top 5. I sure had that one wrong. The acting from the entire cast was superb, with Melissa Leo, Amy Adams and Christian Bale being exceptional. It should also win Best Editing for the complex boxing scenes and the flawless way real clips of some of Mickey Ward’s fights were incorporated. Mostly though, I’m a little bit of a sucker for true stories that are humorous, heartbreaking and triumphant, and the story of Ward and his family are all of those things. The King’s Speech is the same and I’m going to be happy when it takes home the trophy, but for my money The Fighter did it for me this year. And I have no idea how/why Inception and The Kids are All Right are nominated.
Before I got into this whole parenting gig four years ago I was sure that people were overstating how complicated it is. I’m not talking about the daily challenges like sleepless nights, battles of wills, testing of patience and, at times, an utter inability to relate. I wasn’t naïve to how hard those would be. What I’m referring to are some hot-button issues that really get parental blood boiling, such as education, vaccines (although that should be less hot now.), breast feeding, corporal punishment and Santa Claus.
It’s not that I was unaware these were contentious issues, it’s just that I was confident in my opinion on each (as ignorant as that sounds now). I assumed that my wife and I could just make our choices, everyone else could make theirs and we’d all pat ourselves on the back and sing Kumbaya . Boy was I wrong. I completely underestimated a parent’s ability (including my own) to antagonize and belittle others, even if done unintentionally or subconsciously.