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)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Socialism, get ready… get set… go!

My primary objection prior to the election of Mr. Obama is the same now that he wields political and cultural power: the slow transformation of our democratic republic into a socialist state. Clearly Mr. Obama is not the beginning nor will he be the end of this cataclysmic tendency in our country but his voting history as well as his political philosophy portends enormous entrenchment of power in the hands of government instead of the hands of the citizens.

When I use the word socialism I am not lightly using it as a pejorative. I am describing a political reality. There are those who would like to veil the current trend by dismissing those who use the “s” word (socialist) as hateful and extremist. I am neither. I understand what a democracy looks like, I understand the role and responsibility of the citizen with respect to the government and the government with respect to the citizen. That relationship is profoundly different today than it was when the founders established this country both in 1776 and in 1787.

The transformation has happened so slowly and subtly (and it continues in this manner) that casual observation and the predominant apathy of average citizens fails to see what is happening. Furthermore, so many of the observable strides toward a paternalistic and ultimately oppressive government have been accomplished in the name of good or emergency or unusual circumstance. These can be seen in the actions of Roosevelt, Kennedy and even of Lincoln and George W. Bush. Certainly desperate times require desperate measures (as with the suspension of habeas corpus… but the temporary nature of Lincoln’s policies were quite different from the lingering effects of the New Deal -even the words “social security” should have raised red flags). And so we slowly trade our liberties for guarantees and the granter of our inalienable rights shifts from a creator to a created government. Government becomes the master instead of the servant (think about it, how often does the government listen/acquiesce to your dictates and how often to you have to listen/acquiesce to the dictates of government?). This has not happened without warning. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, a man expert in the transformation of society declared nearly fifty years ago, “you Americans are so gullible, you won’t accept communism outright but we will keep feeding you small doses of socialism until one day you’ll wake up and find that you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you, we will so weaken your economy until you fall like over-ripe fruit into our hands.” The ensuing fifty years has witnessed the fall of communism but at the same time our democracy has assumed many qualities of a welfare state until now the declared solution to our economic condition is nationalization, concentration of control and redistribution of wealth (taking, AKA “taxing”, from the wealthy and giving to the so called poor). Our government officials might not call it socialism but in every way it fits the definition.

Since the transformation to socialism will be a theme central to my blog for the foreseeable future I wanted to offer these few words by way of a basic overview. It is essential that we (my readers specifically, but for more importantly, the general citizenry of this nation) come to a common conception of what a democracy and a republic are; what is a socialism, what is the relationship between the people and the government and what is the foundation or basis of our rights.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Convenient Lie: Global Warming

I am a champion, seeker and proponent of truth. Sometimes the truth is extremely difficult to handle (as so aptly stated by Jack Nickelson's character in the movie A Few Good Men, snippet provided here to illustrate the complexity of the issue of truth as discussed below), sometimes it damns us and sometimes it elevates us.

If our position is opposed to truth we seek in every way possible to discount, discredit, rationalize or in other ways hide the truth; if, on the other hand, our position is congruous with truth there is a tremendous sense of assurance although this is not to say that the side of truth is a safe harbor or a guarantee of ease and comfort. We live in a world where untruth is more abundant than truth, where error (accidental or purposive) is the modal circumstance. Truth is an elusive and demanding master. Truth is a brother to intelligence, reason and godliness. The polar opposite of truth is lieing and deceit. The lie has its own nefarious associates, progenitor and consequences.

Truth will always be under attack whether by good intentioned folly or schemes to confuse truth for lies and lies for truth. One of the most absurd contemporary false claims cloaked as truth is the idea of catastrophic man-made global warming. Pay close attention to my words: catastrophc man-made global warming. Do I believe the globe warms? Yes, I also believe it cycles through periods of cooling. Do I believe mankind has some effect on the environment? Yes, we are part of a symbiotic ecosystem but I do not believe his influence can make a dent in the larger cosmic, atmospheric, geothermal and extra-human processes at work. We are both stewards and active participants in the earth's ecology. Humans are also more important than any of the vegetation or animal life that God created. To put non-human life above, or even on the same level as man and woman is to drift into serious error and to walk a path that will eventually question the sanctity and divinity of the human soul (physical and spiritual).

I am especially irate about the claims that man-made global warming is a scientific fact and the discussion is closed. There is nothing that could violate the very principles of science than such a statement and the blatant political impetus of the proclaimers should be investigated. A large section of society appears to be blinded, however, by such arguments. If you are such a global warming believer, I offer this one, short, rational challenge (and there are many more challenges out there):
I urge you to think instead of feel, be motivated by your intelligence rather than you emotions. This is the "emporers new clothes" of our generation.

Acknowledgement: the above "Notable and Quotable" is from the Wall Street Journal and was brought to my attention by my dad, AKA "the Colonel". His thoughtfulness and lifelong inculcation of values (such as truth and education) are partly to blame for this post.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Celebrate the Inauguration!

While I did not vote for Barak Obama and while I still possess significant trepidation regarding his presidency, I have no hesitation admitting the importance of this day. I hope all good and decent people have taken a moment to celebrate the impact of the inauguration today. The ascendance of a black man (mind you, blacks only making up 12.1% of the US populace) to the presidency of the world’s oldest existing democracy is primarily a statement about the nobility of the principles upon which that republic is based as well as the goodness of her citizens.

The political philosophy and personality of President Obama are completely separate from the larger issue of this American accomplishment. The United States continues to be the land of opportunity, a unique example of how so many with such profound differences in heritage, culture and race can not only live but prosper together.

May I share a few related thoughts:

While there were many who confessed, “I never thought I would see this in my lifetime”, I was not surprised. I always expected it because I believe the American people are far from racist. Aside from global warming, racism is the largest non-issue of our generation. The story was different two generations ago and while there are some fringe individuals and organizations who harbor racist beliefs, thoughts and attitudes, the vast majority of America is fair minded regarding blacks (I specifically avoid using the politically correct label “African-American” as it discriminates against and incorrectly groups vastly differing groups like Cuban-Americans, immigrants who were born in African countries, black Americans who have no connection to Africa, etc.). I fully expected to see a black American citizen elected president. I hope this accomplishment will alleviate the anger of some groups who feel that America is a profoundly racist place. Mr. Obama could not have ascended to this position if not for the votes of many white citizens.
The Black community faces many challenges to be sure. White racism is not one of them. Like the annihilation of polio, this scourge is a relic of past generations. Challenges faced by the Black community, as with those faced by all groups and all individuals, must be addressed from within. If you want a leader who is spot on regarding the strategy to fix the problems, I suggest Bill Cosby or Larry Elder. The words and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provide an excellent road map but have largely been lost to the existing “black leadership”. I suggest studying his teachings as elaborated in “Where do we go from here”, “Stride toward freedom”, “The strength of love”, and his 1963 letter from Birmingham Jail. So, what are the corrective imperatives: establish the home and family as the functional center of society (i.e. get fathers backing the home, stop out-of-wedlock births), extinguish the influence of the hip-hop movement, turn off the TV, establish the value of education. The essential answers are no different for Blacks than they are for Whites, Asians, Native Americans, Jews or any other group.

Beware of flattery and ambiguous speech. My celebration of the greatness of this country, in light of this inaugural day, was tempered by the continued trend of Mr. Obama in his address. Once again he excels at high sounding words that are largely empty. During his campaign and in the months following the election he has promised many things and lots of money. He speaks of coming together and sacrificing and responsibility -- all things that are good in principle but the key is how and by whom? He speaks of reasserting our position as a leader in the world… we’ve been at the lead since the early twentieth century. He speaks as if being a leader is synonymous with having the world’s affection. No, leadership often means doing the onerous but necessary job no one else is willing to do. I am nervous…

A quick word about the future. While today is a day of celebration, tomorrow (speaking literally and figuratively) will be a day when the real problems of life return. There are some very unrealistic expectations of Mr. Obama. I have no illusions. He will not save us from our problems. The scariest part of this is that some actually want him and expect him to save us. Heaven help us when one man has the power to save us from our political and financial maladies. That job (and the associated power) is reserved to each of us individually and to each of us working together. It is not the role of the President of the United States or, for that matter, the combined branches of government to save us. Have we forgotten that this is a government of the people. If there is saving to do it will be close to home, by individuals, by people, by communities and possibly by the States. To look to the most distant level of government for our solutions is dangerous.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Threat of Subtle Socialization

Those of us who fought for the traditional, religious and historical conception of marriage and the family during this past election secured a tremendous victory. While winning a battle we may, if we are not careful, lose the war. The political battlefield is only one front where this contest is being waged. It may actually be the easiest of the fronts because clear lines are drawn, the opposition is rather overt and we have fairly straightforward strategic objectives. On the other hand, the cultural front is much more fluid and much more subtle. Few of us are equipped to wage an effective defensive against the inroads being made in this theater of the conflict. Truth be told, we are losing in this particular domain. What, for example, have you done to combat the pervasive socialization your children experienced last week? Did you even notice/recognize what they faced?

The strong forces of socialization that not only confront us but especially focus their efforts on the younger generation are ubiquitous. On a recent trip across country I was scanning the radio dial when I came upon a trendy rock and roll (top 40 type music) station hosted by one of the most famous personalities in our pop culture, Ryan Seacrest (I have nothing personal against Mr. Seacrest except that he is an icon to teenagers and his recommendation surely gains the notice of many in our society). Here are the lyrics to a song (sung by a female vocalist) that was played on the station during Mr. Seacrest's program:

This was never the way I planned
Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand
Lost my discretion

It's not what, I'm used to
Just wanna try you on
I'm curious for you
Caught my attention

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

No, I don't even know your name
It doesn't matter,
You're my experimental game
Just human nature,
It's not what,
Good girls do
Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused
Hard to obey

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it,

Us girls we are so magical
Soft skin, red lips, so kissable
Hard to resist so touchable
Too good to deny it
Ain't no big deal, it's innocent

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

Almost every phrase deserves some commentary but the most shocking to me -the most revealing of our contemporary permissive and morally relativistic culture- are bolded. What the author recognized as “so wrong” is readily excused because it is “just human nature” and after “drink in hand”, the impulses become so “hard to resist”…. “My head gets so confused” that it becomes not only “hard to obey” but futile, after all, “ain’t no big deal, it’s innocent.”

There we go. In the course of one song we’ve gone from recognizing that something did, in fact, feel “so wrong” to absolute rationalization by defending the overthrow of morality and taboos by labeling it as “innocent”. Thus the subtle socialization and slow erosion of the sacred rides almost unnoticed into our lives. Does anyone doubt that we have come to see the day where good is called bad and bad is called good. Of course this is nothing new, the seed of this noxious weed was planted decades ago and lyrics have often been the propaganda promoting moral decline.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why....? Can someone explain it to me?

I may have spoken about this in the past, so forgive me if I have. One of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, words in language is the interrogitive "why". It is the key to discovery and the evidence of readiness to learn. Once a person begins to ask "why" there is almost nothing that can stand in their way from an explosion of intellectual discovery.
Sometimes, however, "why" is offered with some degree of exasperation or sarchasm. This entry contains more of the latter than the nobeler connotation portenting some great discovery... although if you can offer an answer, I am certainly open to it. This is not a rhetorical question.

So to set the context for my "why?", I offer the following picture:

A verbal description will help. This is a picture of our master bedroom (as evidenced by the bed taking up the middle of the picture) with Mrs. Wicke still sawing logs sometime during the morning hour of 6 AM. Upon closer inspection the savy observer will see two little children laying in the floor beside the bed. That would be our seven year old, Logan and our five year old, Griffin. Sometime earlier, in the wee hours of the morning, they made their way to our bedside with their pillows and blankets and made themselves "at home".

So here is my question: Why do we have a spacious four bedroom home with comfortable beds and an abundance of bedding if, nightly, we all congregate within twenty feet of each other? Why didn't we pass on the luxorious 3,400 squre feet of living space, complete with a 3,400 square foot mortgage, and settle for an 18th century one-room cabin? It appears that our children would prefer the one-room set-up. Why? What is this magnetic pull toward our room and why are they compelled to wake me up at 2:30 AM to spread their blanket out on top of them? Is there some common instinctual pull that draws the swallows back to San Juan Capistrano and the one that draws our children into our room? Is it some cosmic push or pull from the moon that, like the tides, calls out to their developing subconscious? Why? These are the things that this inquiring mind wants to know.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 1

Since it is sometimes very difficult to get back into the swing of things after a couple weeks vacation I want to offer some motivation. Just sit back and enjoy the pretty picture:

Now, don't you feel better... and I bet you are about to get right to work! Truth is motivating isn't it?

PS: When I was director of a sales department I had this poster hanging up in my office and would not hesitate to point to it whenever a disgruntled or under performing employee visited me with some lame complaint. A picture IS worth a thousand words but the 29 words under this picture do a good job making a point as well.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back at it: Nothing like a deep thought to get things going

OK, OK... so I took a little vacation. Well it is 2009 and time to get back to the business of blogging. It's not that I've been lazy, things have actually been very busy. Check out Mrs. Wicke's blog for evidence and description of the Wicke family's holiday activities. I'll leave it to her to catch you up, I'm excited to share an idea:

I have an undeveloped theory…. Strike that, I have a handful of undeveloped theories, a plethora of half-baked theories (I’ll leave the potential double meaning of that word up to you) and a few fully developed theories of human behavior and reality. For now I will share one of the underdeveloped ones and ask for your input:

I call this my "primary profound disappointment theory". I suggest that at some point in every person's life, usually sometime in their early adolescence, each of us faces a seminal moment of profound disappointment that will have primary developmental influence on us. This is more than a frightening event or an instance of emotional or psychological unease. It is a profound experience of disappointment with life, others, self or one’s worldview. It generally takes an extended period of time to unfold, to recognize and then to work through to some resolution. Between recognition and resolution is significant mental pain and/or emotional anguish.

It is probably fair to consider the onset of this adversity or trial as the division between carefree childhood and young adulthood. This is the moment when life, as you conceived it, falls apart; when you realize that some of the things you had dreamed about as a child were not to be. In the cold reality of the “disappointment” you begin to struggle with the great questions of life: the irony, the inherent unfairness, the problem of pain, of unjust suffering, of unbalance prosperity, etc. This primary (meaning the first) profound disappointment is the painful birth canal into adulthood. I suggest that everyone has such an event sometime between ages 12 and 16.

Here, in summary, is mine. My childhood was spent dreaming about being a football player. It was more than a mere hobby or passing interest. I lived and breathed football. I wrote to half of the Minnesota Viking players and requested their autograph. The first item I purchased with my own hard earned money was a football. I begged my parents to take me to compete in the local Punt, Pass and Kick competition although I had never kicked a football off a tee before. All of these were no small ventures for a child living in rural Pennsylvania in the early 1970’s -- the world of youth sports much less the merchandising machine of the National Football League has come light years in the past 30 years. Football was to me as music was to young Motzart.

Fast forward seven years to the summer before my freshman year in high school. I was on the threshold of my path into eventual professional football as summer practice began for our high school football team. I suited up my five foot, four inch frame and with all hundred and twenty-five pounds I hit the field with nearly sixty other freshman. I can’t remember how many weeks into the season, perhaps it was at the end of the first game, when I came face to face with the recognition that my dreams had shattered into a thousand pieces. This was my primary profound disappointment. I was fourth string quarterback and fourth string out-side linebacker. I was fourth string because there were only four people trying out for both positions. All my glorious dreams were, like my self-esteem, nothing more than a pile of moldering compost. Life was not what I imagined it to be…

Devastating as primary profound disappointments are, they are essential to our development. Our successful navigation of them is infinitely more important than the disappointment itself. The ecology of the disappointment has profound impact (i.e. who is your support group; how did the experience both dictate and facilitate your relationships with your support group –your mother, father, siblings, friends, mentors; what are your values and moral anchors; what are your personality characteristics –resilient, depressive, narcisstic, etc.) on your reaction and future course.

Help me develop this theory more. What was your primary profound disappointment? How did it affect you and who you are? What did you learn? How did you respond to it? Teach me.