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 26, 2010

Quick Observation: Quitting

I am currently a Boy Scout leader and work with 12-13 year old young men. These boys are in 7th and 8th grade. Several of my young men are on the school wrestling team. The season is now within 3 weeks of being over and I just found out that one of these young men quit the team. Perhaps he has a health reason or some other situation that is unknown to me, but he is not the first one that has done this sort of thing. A couple years ago another boy about the same age just up and quit because he was not doing as good as he expected or it became too hard, etc., whine and complain, etc.
Contrast this against another 13 year old young man. This boy is the son of a good friend who is one of the most accomplished people I personally know. He is an accomplished professional and, earlier in his life, was an collegiate All American tennis player. He achieved this status at a top tier university after walking on to the tennis team. His story of accomplishment is inspiration and I consider him the Rudy Rudiger of tennis. Now back to his son, who, last year tried out for his Jr. high cross country team. Two important facts about this young man: he is NOT built for long distance running and I am not confident that he knew that cross country inherantly also included the activity of running. After the first day of practice he went home exhausted and announced that he was quitting the team. His dad instructed him that quitting was not an option and that he would finish out the year. After this year he never had to run cross country again if he didn't want to. Well, needless to say, he finished the season, improved his times and learned some important lessons about himself and about life.

I've often told Mrs. Wicke that we have become the most mamby-pamby (unsure if this is a real word but it is a synonym for "pansy", "sissy" and the like) society in the history of the world. Our generation got the mistaken idea that life is easy, that it is fundamentally about fun and that our feelings somehow trump everything else in life. Humanity has evolved to this... to a self-absorbed, narcissistic, leisure oriented, obese, quitter? Well, I have some news: life is difficult. Anything of value takes work to obtain. The move value it has the harder it will be to obtain. Quitting is a short-cut to nowhere. Quitting is habit forming. Quitting is, perhaps, the most destructive personal habit we can develop. Once we quit one worthy, difficult or challenging endeavor it is easier to quit the next. So if a young man quits a sport (a recreationally based leisure activity), how can we expect him to act when college gets difficult, when a job becomes mundane, when missionary service is frought with adversity or when troubles infect his marriage. Becareful about allowing a young man to quit, it will quickly become his solution of choice.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Importance and the Lessons of the Massachusettes election

What is the seminal importance of the election of Republican Scott Brown to the US Senate?

1. It demonstrates that the people are still in charge of this government.
2. It illustrates the genius of the government established by our founding fathers (of checks and balances, of republican democracy, etc.).
3. It instructs us that we should give more honor and revernce to the system and principles of government established over 200 years ago.
4. It is a shot across the bow of every politician who arrogantly pursues their own political agenda, thinking they somehow know what is better for the common citizen.
5. It debunks the suggestion that Americans want government to play a more active role in their lives, that they want to be "taken care of" and that we want a more active socially progressive paternalistic state.
6. It sends a message to the government to start listening to the people.
7. The American people are not stupid, uninterested in matters of government or intimidated.

All of these points are much larger than Scott Brown and all of them apply equally to Democrats, Republicans or any other policial orientation.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Perfect Storm Averted

Mrs. Wicke hates the movie, The Perfect Storm. She sees no point in it. "It's a bunch of men dying for... fish!" I think in her mind she envisions me dying for some senseless cause. "They died for fish!" she repeats with evident exasperation. Not honor, liberty or truth, but for fish. I, on the other hand, try -without sucess I might add- to explain that it is not about the fish but about purpose and success. Of course our difference comes down to the meaning of what "fish" symbolize in that movie. I'm guessing it is one of those "male-female" differences of perspective.

But this post is not about fish. It is, however, about the perfect storm I think we narrowly avoided. I am referencing the election of Scott Brown to the US Senate in Massachusettes. Like Mrs. Wicke and myself, I know there are many people who do not share the same view as I but in my opinion, unlike the shipmates on the fishing boat who were eventually and inevitably toppled by a monster Atlantic wave, we have survived the precarious torrent.

The political circumstances of the past year have been the culmination of several storm fronts that had been perculating for several years (a protracted war, an economic catastrophe, the super-majority obtained in the Senate and House and the ascendency of the most liberal-progressive to the Presidency). All of these combined and threatened to "fundamentally change" the United States political and social landscape. The potential effect was nothing less than a shift from a republican democracy to social dependency, political paternalism and financial fatalism. At the heart of this change is the relationship between the government and the citizen. Government powers would have increased and individual freedom would have decreased. Instead of the people dictating the bounds of governmental control, the government would be dictating the bounds of personal control and decision making. We would be exactly upside down from the principles established in 1776 and in 1787. And the worst part is that, we the people would have been complicit in this change (since we, in fact, voted for our agents of government).

And yet this transformation was averted. The clouds broke and a most unexpected thing happened in Massachusettes. Since Tuesday, many people have been estatic over this turn of events. In the next post I will describe why I think the election of a Republican to the Senate in a predominately Democratic state, at this particular time and in these unprecedented circumstances, is so important.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Good ole' fashioned traditional values

I am not ashamed to say that I ascribe to what are called "traditional" or "family" values. For those who like to lump people into groups (what is usually called "stereotyping" and usually takes the form of a pejorative), you would say that I am a conservative -that is, I believe in the validity of wisdom that has been handed down from generations before me. If you stop and think, almost every bit of knowledge or morality we have, has been handed down to us. Ascribing to germ theory, for example, although a completely amoral concept is a conservative rather than a progressive stance to take. Should we throw out the theory just because it has "grown old" or is becoming aged? This whole idea that the new is somehow better than the old is overly simplistic. Our post-modern, post-industrial, post-sexual restraint, post-religious, post-a little humility is in order society would do well to recognize that some of the most fundamental bits of truth (religious, ethical, scientific and even secular) are very, very old.

But, as usual, I digress from the real reason for my posting: Here is a traditional value that recently came alive in my day-to-day life:
Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without

This phrase is familiar to many of us but not practiced as much as it should be. In the present times of economic difficulty and uncertainty, it suggests a wise way of living. It qualifies, I suggest, as the first practical rule of environmental concern and eco-sensitivity. I don't know that we would have much need of carbon offsets, cap and trade legislation and other forms of secular indulgences if we would really adhere to this simple rule: Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without.

Here is a pictoral history of my latest sumbission to this traditional value:

Mrs. Wicke bought me a new pair of Docker shoes a few Christmas' ago. I didn't realize the shape they were in until I started to feel the ground through a hole in the bottom.... Oppps, I guess Mrs. Wicke was right about their ragged appearance.

So I finally took a trip to the department store and purchased a new pair (an emotionally difficult thing for me to do... I think Shakespear describes it thuslly: "parting with money brings such sweet sorrow")

I soothed my dissonance by convincing myself that the purchase was necessary for safety reasons. I'm sure you know the "tread depth" rule: if you put a penny in the tread and you can still see Lincoln's head then it is time to change:

Used up, wore out... bought a new pair. I know that is not exactly how the phrase goes, but Mrs. Wicke and my feet sure are a lot happier.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

100 (reason based) reasons to question the Global Warming/Climate Change hysteria

New month, new year, new decade... so much to blog about. Here are a few topics I'll tackel over the next few days/weeks: Tiger Woods and you, The Irony of Body Scans, The Anti-democratic Health Care effort. Keep visiting and keep reading.

For now, here is a fantastic article to chew on: Contrary to Al Gore's claims, there are serious reasons (here is a list of 100 to be exact) for serious people to question the reality of man made, catastrophic climate change. Read here.