Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The media lie!

I want to comment on the diabolic actions of a murderous monster in South Carolina aftermath.  There are not strong enough words to verbalize how angry I am BUT my incense extends now to the second crime that has taken place.  This purposeful and deliberate action will have as much negative impact as did the killing of the immediate victims  -in fact it will have wider and longer lasting social harm.
Let's be clear, the actions of this young man were evil and made even more despicable by the motive that appears to have fueled him.  Racial superiority is a sentiment that should have gone the way of cro magnon man.  It is ugly and baseless.  The subject of this post is not the young man and the details of his life or the motivation behind his actions... All the world is fixated on these things.
  I am going to talk about the second crime that no one else will mention.  This, equally despicable, premeditated action is captured in this oversized (it filled the entire front fold of the weekend issue) headline:

USA Today is the specific perpetrator in this instance but the larger media machine are accessories. This headline promotes a vicious lie and misrepresents the truth. The consequence of this purposeful libel will harm millions.  It has an impact that will extend far beyond the burial of the shooting victims.   The perpetrator is the media and their motive is money.  Their agenda is to sell newspapers at the expense of the social well-being of this country.  Unlike the shooter, they will never be held accountable for their actions.

 Let me explain my accusations by first suggesting what SHOULD have been the headline if the goal was to represent the prevailing reality of the story:  Love in America.   Both love and hate were evidenced the past several days in South Carolina in relation to the events at hand. Both were profoundly displayed.  But here is the central element, the operative fact, the truth that should inform our understanding, our attitudes and our future behavior:  How many espoused the cause of hate?  One individual.   How many, comparatively, espoused the cause of love?  Many, hundreds, thousands!  That is the story that should be told, that is the quantitatively true reality of what happened in South Carolina.  That is the essences of what America is today.  Yes, evil and hate took center stage for two tragic minutes and nine people were denied the gift of life (and scores of family and friends denied future joy with their loved ones) but in contrast to the two minutes of hate is more than 2,000 minutes of love, compassion, kindness and demonstrations of all that is good about humanity.
To promote the exception, the extreme minority, the quantitative and qualitative aberration as the story is irresponsible and morally wrong.  The only benefactors are the investors and employees of the USA Today and other media outlets.  In every social, natural and political event the media has an agenda and it is primarily Darwinian:  to survive and prosper. All other motivations (truth, inform, social accountability, etc.) are secondary.
  By prostituting hate, the media passed on an opportunity to engage in a sophisticated discussion about an unfortunate reality of life: how great evil can be accomplished by one person but how good is established in the small actions of the masses.  This social truth is now on display in South  Carolina.  Singular events of bad people can negatively change the world -we only need to look at John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mao Zedong- but the virtue of the unknown core of society has power to over ride the actions of the few.  That is the story of South Carolina and if we continue to proclaim a story of hate we will eventually believe it and fulfill it.
 We are approaching a tipping point in these things. Those individuals and institutions who wield influence must set aside their narrow political and financial agendas.  These events are not opportunities to be leveraged and manipulated to ones benefit.  The idea of never letting a serious crisis go to waste (a la Rom Emanuel) is a despicable strategy. The answer to the current crisis is compassion, a quality that defines the American people far more than any other.  We have come along way in some areas but in others we have slid dangerously toward the edge.  Two observations from a man who had only the agenda of humanity are prescriptive in the current situation:
"Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation."
"I have seen too much hate to want to hate, myself... and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must overcome. Whether it is the hate demonstrated by a lone man or the hate ascribed and assigned by the media.  The story of my America is compassion.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wicke Family Christmas Greeting

We begin our Christmas greeting by sharing some inner workings of the Wicke household. Inevitably our December starts with a discussion along these lines:

Laurel: What are we going to do about our Christmas card picture this year?

Thomas: I don’t know, what do you think?

Laurel: I really want to get a nice family picture taken.

Thomas: Yes, that would be nice….

-two weeks later-

Laurel: Honey, you have GOT to get on the Christmas letter and we never got the picture taken.

Thomas: I know, I am going to write the letter. I will think of something for the picture…

Since we’ve been married for twenty years now, such trivial things rarely erupt into an argument but there is no doubt that Laurel’s concept of the ideal Christmas picture is more than what I was able to produce with my remedial Photoshop skills. That being said, the moustache craze is sweeping the nation and we decided to have some fun with it. Much to Laurel’s chagrin, the children were enthusiastically behind their dad’s idea. So, if you find yourself thinking, “wow that family has a rather distinguished look to them” or if the word “debonair” came to mind when our card arrived you will recognize the power of subliminal messaging. In the end, we just wanted to bring a smile to your face (by bringing a moustache to ours) and whisker you a Harry Christmas! Don’t get us started! 

So we stubbled, I mean stumbled, into another year of change but have gotten our feet underneath us after our transition in 2012. In February I received my own campus and began oversight of Everest College, Torrance. I grew to love the faculty, staff and students very quickly and felt like I found a second family. The smaller campus gave me a chance to learn all the details of the position. The 75 minute drive each way on the famed 405 freeway was the only unfortunate element of my job. It would have been nice to shave this off (the drive, not the moustache) but both Laurel and I are finding that driving is very much a part of Southern California culture. A frightening reality when we realize Logan is only four years from driving. Just about a month ago, my commute and my position took an unexpected change as I was asked to take over the much larger and much closer Anaheim campus. I left my Torrance “family” and engaged in new challenges. I look forward to making a difference here.

We might not qualify as an educated family but we are definitely an educational family. Hence the “Wicke Academy” reference. Unlike the fake moustaches, the job descriptions have some validity to them. I may be president of a school and Laurel really is a teacher but she fills every one of those “unofficial” roles in the laboratory that is life. After teaching music and literature at Carden Hall she begins her second shift whiskering Logan to young women’s or Griffin to gymnastics. Her constant shadow is Lincoln who loves being with his family unless they engage in some unappreciated behavior whereupon he is quick to declare “your fired” or proclaim “your ruining my life.” Laurel keeps our family running between Newport and Mission Viejo. She was able to chaperon the 8th grade for the second time on their trip to France this past summer. Carden offered Laurel a full-time position which allowed us to move Logan and Griffin to this amazing school where, along with an amazing character based curriculum including daily French, music and school uniforms, their mother teaches a few doors down the hall. Attending such a school is a blessing we never could have foreseen.

Our family travels provided many memories as we spent two weeks on the east coast. We saw much of Washington D.C. and mastered the Metro when our hotel turned out to be a bit more distant than it seemed from the online travel site. A private tour of the Capital building, the Smithsonians and the Newsuem were favorites (although walking to and from them was not). We spent a day at Mount Vernon, a day at Jamestown and then several in colonial Williamsburg. These all made an impression on Logan and Griffin but Lincoln was most taken by the many hotel pools we frequented at the end of our long days. We spent a few more relaxing days with dear friends in North Carolina before returning to home sweet home and afternoons on the beach at Newport or Laguna. We live in a magical place and a prosperous era, to be sure. Not everyone is entirely satisfied with our condition, however. Lincoln, now four years old, is very aware of our proximity to Disneyland and is growing more dismayed with his parents who have not yet provided him opportunity for entrance to the “happiest place on earth.” In disgust he finally declared, “I keep asking and asking and no one will take me!” Somehow he has been blessed with a personality big enough to compete with his older brother and sister. There is rarely a dull or quiet moment in our home. Rather than reading more of my ramblings, I have included several pictures (below) showing some of the activities of the past year.

Somehow life seems to continue at an ever increasing pace. At times… no, very often, we feel like we can’t keep up. As we enter the thick of life we continue to be amazed how quickly it is passing by. Our failure to stay connected to our friends and family as frequently as we would like is not our intention and we beg your forgiveness. We are weighted down more than you know when we hear of your struggles and sadness’s. Your successes bring great satisfaction and happiness to us. We love you and we cherish the experiences we have shared with you. Life is about people because people make our life meaningful. You make our life meaningful. At this Christmas time we thank God for the gifts of family and friends. Laurel and I are better people, we are a better family, because of your influence. Our home continues to be open to you whenever you can come to visit and our hearts are open all the other times. May God bless you this season and throughout the year. We boldly proclaim our devotion to the Savior, who is the central element of this celebration:  Christmas!  God knows you, He knows your challenges, your fears, your hopes and the things that will come upon us in 2014.  We are his children.  We cannot understand the depth of love a perfect Father has for his little ones but we are secure in the reality of these things.  This simple statement of faith in God is our gift to you at this time of the year.
All our love,
Thomas, Laurel, and family

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who I am, because it matters most

It has been nine months since my last post...  If I am honest with myself it is likely that another nine months will pass til my next one.  As it is, blogging has become something of an obsolete practice.  Tweets, texting, Pintrest and other venues have relegated blogs to the dust heap of social media.  Wow, that was fast.  I can't imagine what the next nine months will bring.  I feel like I might as well be sending a telegraph for how quickly things change.

So be it.  I figured if there is anything I could say that deserves to occupy the "front page of my blog" during my semi-planned blogging sabbatical, it is a personal message that goes to the core of who I am.  Any of my readers who explores a few entries will discover that I make no effort to hide my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Yes, I am a Mormon without apology and with great pride.  As such I am a Christian with evangelical resolve and fundamental commitment to the truths found in the Old Testament, the New Testament as well as the Book of Mormon and what are known as other volumes of continuing modern revelation.  I believe that God expects virtue in the lives of His disciples.  We are His children.  Everything including life itself comes from His benevolent hands.  My life is not mine, but is His to do as He requests.  He is developing me largely through challenges, adversity and existence in a mortal life that is built on faith rather than outright knowledge.  Our lives are played out in a larger context where good and evil are in full antipathy.  Each day in decisions large and small we demonstrate where our loyalty rests.  We can choose rewards of an eternal or a worldly nature.  We decide if our bodies are to be subject to the spirit or vice-versa.  Individual choice is supreme so we are to respect the personal choices of others should they decide differently than I.  At the same time, I am committed to oppose wickedness  and evil at every turn.  These beliefs and this spiritual-social-political stance often brings some discomfort in a secular world.  There is a growing rift between these perspectives and it plays out in many different areas. 

Much more could be said regarding these things, but for now I wish to publically declare, unapologetically, and without reservation that I am proud to be a believing Christian, particularly a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I am proud to stand in a larger community that includes my Jewish, Christian and Muslim friends who believe in a sovereign Supreme Being who expects moral discipline and spiritual allegiance.  There has been much said that is derogatory about the Latter-Day Saints, about our doctrine, our history and our culture.  I stand behind all of it from Joseph Smith to the holiness of our temple worship.  Jesus Christ suggested that you can tell the tree by the fruit it produces.  I invite my readers to spend ten minutes and inspect some of that fruit:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm back... with a happy thought

So I've been gone for a while....  Yes.  And there is no guarantee that I won't "go dark" again in the near future.  My life is entirely unpredictable except for the fact that I do not own my life anymore.  It belongs to my children, to my employer, to my house that needs a hundred things done... you get the picture. 

You may also think that I drifted away in a discouraged fog after the presidential elections of this past November.  I will not lie:  I was extremely disappointed.  But it is not in my nature to get discouraged.  If I am able to squeze a few minutes out of the coming days I will have more to say on the post-election reality.  For now, suffice it to say that all my previous postings are yet valid and I have significant trepedation for the direction of this country.  As a teaser, let me say that I am composing my predictions of events that will transpire during the next four years  -let's call it "predicting the United States of Obama".

For now, however, I want to share a thought provoking account of recent research.  As I've done in the past, I present this with a STRONG caution.  This summary is taken from a media write-up of the research and not from the published article itself.  The media has a tendency to sensationalize  (did I say "tendency"?  No, the media by its nature and constitution -inherant in its being and operation-  exaggerates and therefor mischaracterizes to a small or a large degree).  Hence this report most likely does not capture in complete fidelity the important details of this study.  Hopefully it sufficiently captures the core message.

Research show men with children are happier than those without
"New research in the journal "Psychological Science" find that overall, "parents (and especially fathers) report relatively higher levels of happiness, positive emotion, and meaning in life than do non-parents."
Of the three studies, the largest sample comes from 6,906 individuals collected between 1982 and 1999. It found that fathers and parents between ages 26 and 62 were happier, but not mothers, young parents and single parents. There were no differences in happiness between moms and women without children, but young parents and single parents were significantly less happy than childless peers,"

Of course the article continues with the usual caveates:  "The effect is small, but real," "Others disagree,"  "Psychologists are perhaps finding different things".  So take what you want.  Here are the points I find interesting:
1.  men with children are happier than men without children (at least at some minimal level of statistical significance). 
Reaction:  good for men!  Look at that, we are not as idiotic and hopeless as we may appear.

2.  your meaning in life increases with children.
Reaction:  Yes, because life is not about "you".  Jesus was right when he said if you want to find your life (i.e. purpose in life) you need to lose it (spend it in the service of others).  This is an invaluable lesson to a "me" centered society.

3.  young parents  and single moms were less happy than childless peers. 
Reaction:  Is anyone who has small children surprised?  No need for a study here.  Clearly children are one of the most profound examples of putting in work and sacrificing now for greater rewards later.

4.  moms (especially moms without a father in the home to help out) are the hardest working, most underappreciated and therefor exhausted and sapped of all life beings on the planet.
Reactions:  thank God (literally) for moms!  The perform the most heroic and underappreciated job in the world... and they are exhausted. Difficult to be happy when you are exhausted.  But when the children grow up and a child honors their mother by becoming a honorable and contributing member of society there is nothing to rival the satisfaction and happiness of a mother.

What do you take from this study?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I'm voting against President Obama: Reason 6

Obama's vision:  "America, leading from behind."

Upond consultation with the dictionary (not quoted but accurate nonetheless): 
Leadership- to lead, as in to be out in front.  To show the way...
Following- to follow behind someone...

Leading from beind sounds a lot like following to me.  Line up a hundred First Graders and present them with a simple scenario where several people are taking a walk in the woods.  Then ask them what do you call the person in front and what do you call the person in back...  Hmmmm. Not too difficult.  I'm betting my money that all hundred students would get it right. 

Mr. Obama the post-modern wordsmith can't yet convince me that the emporer is wearing clothes.  America is a leader in this world.  Like it or not.  Being a leader is sometimes very lonely.  Sometimes there are people that do not like the leader.  Let me ask you this, which countries or groups are making a play to take over leadership if the United States abdicates its position?  How would the world look if they became the leaders?  That is a very scarey hypothetical...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why I'm voting against President Obama: Reason 5

I will phrase this reason as a challenge to both Gov. Romney and President Obama:  I challenge both of you to make the following pledges (which if you violate I will expect you to immediately resign from your office in absolute shame that a person with such great trust would make an oath and then break it....  yeh, I'm not going to hold my breath although my employer, my children, my wife and my friends would expect no lesser standard of honor from me):

1.  I will never allow a law to become effective until every elected representative of the House and Senate (as well as myself) reads every single word of that law.  That is why we are called "law makers".  It is not too difficult.  If a leader of the House or Senate suggests something absurd like "we have to pass it to find out what is in it" I will immediately call for his/her resignation.

2.  I will refuse to sign a law, policy or executive action when I fail to get at least one vote from a member of the other party (Senator or Representative) even and especially if I am the author or chief advocate of that law.  I recognize that if I were to sign such a statute without any support from "the other side of the aisle" I am going against the wishes of nearly one half of the population of this country.  I admit that to do so is the very definition of partisan and devisive.  I will not be the author of such divisiveness in the country where I claim to be president of all the people. 

These are my two challenges and I think they are not only fair but I think fair minded liberals and conservatives would agree that these two challenges, if put into action, would be beneficial for the United States.  So why do I have a preference for Gov. Romney when he hasn't made such a pledge and suggest that this is a reason why I would not vote for Pres. Obama?  Because Pres. Obama has already SHOWN where he stands on these issues.  He has already shown that he is willing to run rough-shod over the political decency and the unifying principles that underly both of these challenges.  Am I confident that Gov. Romney would do differently?  Not 100%, but with Pres. Obama I know the answer already.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I'm voting against President Obama: Reason #3

Before I enlarge upon the next reason, let me clarify that these reasons are not in any particular order of importance... That being said, for me there is one paramount reason:  Obama's belief in big, comprehensive, paternalistic government... essentially his comittment to the socialist or nanny state.  We fundamentally disagree about the role of government.  I happen to agree with almost every 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century political philosopher... you know the ones who served as the architects for Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton and others we summarily refer to as "the founding fathers".  This is the idea that governments are necessary evils. One even titled his definitive work on political philosophy: Leviathon.  He meant, of course, that government can become a monster if men continually conceed their power to it. Sovereignty is retained by citizens as an endowment from God NOT from governments.  This is a vital, fundamental difference between the philosophy espoused by Obama and our founders/myself.  Governments occur as citizens collectively surrender bits of their freedom to acheive a larger common good.  The best government is limited government!  Limited governments by definition should be small and have minimal reach into the lives of the people (especially the ability to take or award money from or to the citizenry).

Fast foward two and a half centuries and our secularized society is making a full court press to extinguish God from the public square, to debate him out of existence and to shame His moral foundations (i.e. traditional concept of marriage, the primacy of the family in the social order, individual responsibility, submission to authority, conception of the sacred, etc.) out of society.  Does anyone need a more obvious illustration of this effort than the recent vote at the Democratic national convention?

Behind President Obamas political philosophy is the substitution of God by the government.  We, as citizens should not rely upon God for our daily bread but upon government.  We should not declare our allegiance to some untouchable, inmaterial Being (certainly not at some high school graduation ceremony or in a court room) but our allegiance should be declared to government.  The most fundamental expression of allegiance is by the contribution of our money.  God's tithe (10%) has been far eclipsed by government's requirement that we pay upwards of 50% to accomplish their "good" works.  Government is by far the more oppressive overseer. 

So sorry but I included two reasons (although interrelated) why I'm voting against President Obama in this post.  I'll try to keep my discussions more focused.