About Me

Pearl City, HI, United States

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

It's All About the Hate

© 2018 Phil Mislinski/Getty

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey
Written content only

"We become slaves the moment we hand the keys
to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else."
--B. W. Powe
"Towards a Canada of Light"

We are seeing here in 2018 an unprecedented surge in school shootings.  As of May 25th, there have been 23 shooting incidents.  This is week 21 of 2018, thus they are happening at a rate of more than one per week.  Forty-four people have been killed and sixty-six wounded, a total of 110 casualties.  To call this a tragedy is a vast understatement.  The threats to children from abuse, drugs, terroristic bullying and other less easily definable causes are bad enough.  To take away what once was the sanctuary of the schoolhouse makes their lives harder by an order of magnitude.  The reaction of the public, fueled by activist media and agenda-driven politicians and pundits, has been one of shock, horror, and despair.  The political left has unleashed a wave of anti-gun activism.  By all accounts, the National Rifle Association and its political allies are under siege to an unprecedented degree.

But in the space of time in the city of Chicago, 1,012 people have been shot, including nearly 40 victims over the three days of the Memorial Day holiday.  That is 50 shootings per week, or more than seven per day.  If you go back to the beginning of 2016, the number of shooting victims is now over 8,000.  That is, on average, 64 victims per week; over nine per day.  According to Chicago PD stats, over two-thirds of those incidents have been cases of African Americans shooting other African Americans.  Gun laws have proven ineffective because many of those shooters are already legally banned from owning or possessing weapons.  Yet, they still are able to arm themselves.

The media and public response?  Dead, cold silence.

Where are the activists?  Where is the gun control lobby?  Where is the national outrage?  

Why don't those Black Lives Matter?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Another Year Older, Another Year...

From Pinterest.com

"There's still no cure
for the common birthday."
--John Glenn

Today was my birthday, number sixty-three to be exact.  It was a quiet, mostly ordinary day.  I got up, went to work, came home and went out for Chinese, my favorite cuisine.  I had some gifts, had "Happy Birthday" sung to me by my grandkids, and now in the waning hour of this day, I am doing what I like to do when searching for thoughts that would provide context:  writing.

As kids, birthdays are a huge deal.  Parties, cake, presents, a fun day to celebrate.  As time goes on, however, those days begin to be less than a big deal, particularly when one reaches the time when adding one more day means there are fewer to come.  Everyone is mortal, or as was once said of life, "Nobody's gettin' outta here alive!"  Between birth and death, lie a few thousand days, for most of us.  We grow, we age, we gain a certain amount of wisdom and hopefully not too many regrets.  This is the essence and rhythm of life, a cycle played out billions of times.  A few people will gain great notoriety, even fame.  Most of the rest of us will lead lives that could only be described as "ordinary."  But we are all loved by somebody, a person who will feel the pain of loss at the time of our demise.  So in a sense, we are all made famous, all will be remembered even by just a few.

Knowledge grows over time, and when salted by the pain of adversity, morphs into that curiously nebulous thing called wisdom.  Old people always have opinions on everything.  We feel that if only the rest of the world would listen, all the problems will be eliminated.  But such entreaties fall on the deaf ears of those youngsters who, alas, are just as we were back then.  Arrogant, cocky, and absolutely sure that they know more than anyone else.  It is a cruel trick of time that at the point when we've gained enough information and understanding to make everything work, nothing else does.

But today I spent some time thinking about where I've gone and what I've done.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mom's and Mother's Day

 © Breezy Brookshire
Breezy Tulip Studio

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
--Proverbs 31:25-29

Have we ever wondered a mother's silent cries?
Her struggles, her fears, her worries?
Have we ever thought of the sacrifices
she has done to make our lives happier,
and her dreams cut short
to make our dreams come true?
--Ama H. Vanniarachchy

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

As Mother's Day was approaching, I had time to speak with the moms that came through my check lane at Target.  I was amazed to hear of the number of them who had given birth either on Mother's Day or a few days either side.  I counted 26 of them over the three days prior to the holiday.  As we talked, they told me how special that day had been, the ultimate Mom's Day present.  But they also talked about how those birthdays began to overwhelm the holiday, and I could sense that they felt a little left out.  But they were all quick to add "But, that's okay.  It's a treat to see my kid having fun."

The life of a mother is one of endless sacrifice.  It is a tribute to their selfless nature, but also a reminder to the rest of us to look, really look, at what they do day in and day out.  A mother's love is one of those rare and beautiful things that will always be there as sure as the sun in the morning, and the stars at night.  

It starts at the very beginning.  Most women will tell you that pregnancy ruins their body.  Multiple pregnancies do even more damage over time.  Some will suffer ailments related to various vitamin and mineral deficiencies because their body's resources are being diverted to the tiny life they carry within.  Once the baby is born, the real sprint begins.  Most of the rest of us expect them to be up and around after a few days and back to taking care of the rest of us.  I suspect there is a kind of guilt in the mom herself, knowing that even as she recovers, the house still needs to be cleaned, dinners still need to be made, other kids (and husbands) to care for, and then there's their jobs -- the paying ones.

The vital Perspective of the Long View

It is not the present from which 
we will learn the truth of right or wrong.
It is rather from the verdict of history
which lies beyond the influence 
of passion and familiarity.
-- Ralph F. Couey

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

One of my favorite books has always been Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain, his bio-science thriller from 1969.  Crichton has a way of weaving science fact into very entertaining story telling, leaving the reader (at least in this book) wondering if it really happened.  In the story, one of the characters, Dr. Peter Leavitt, formulated the Rule of 48.  It refers to the discoveries of the number of chromosomes in a human cell. Since 1923, that number had always been 48. There were a number of careful studies, backed up by photographs.  Then in 1956, another geneticist announced to the world that the number was actually 46, again backed up by studies and photographs.  But when researchers went back to the original 1923 studies and counted, they found not 48, but 46 chromosomes.  Dr. Leavitt's Rule of 48 thus became "All scientists are blind."

This is only one example of a multitude of historical facts once believed to be unassailable truth, which the passage of time has proven to be completely wrong.

The difference between right and wrong is far from absolute.  In the moment, judgement is impaired by emotion, politics, personal bias, and situational elements.  The passage of time puts distance between the event and pragmatic analysis.  Absent those powerful influences, a far more correct conclusion can be rendered.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

My Re-Discovery of Life

Faces in a crowd,
all with stories to tell.

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

In the past month I've made a couple of changes in my life.  Until recently, my days consisted of that curious state known as "being retired."  Each day was pretty much a blank slate, punctuated by the odd appointment or commitment.   I floated from one day to the next, the only regular activity being walking/hiking, and my continued efforts at writing.  But my wife, who knows me better than I know myself, saw that I was stagnating.  And she was right.  I was drained of ideas for writing subjects, and the three books I am working on had shown efforts that could be kindly referred to as desultory.

And truthfully, I was getting bored.

Clearly it was time to pep things up.  Cheryl "suggested" that I go get a job.  The reason I put that word in quotations is that her suggestions are usually synonymous with the force of law.  But she had a good point, so I complied.  In person and online, I submitted about a dozen or so applications, carefully chosen.  One of them was a Target store nearby.  I had gone there several times before, since the pharmacy I use is contained therein.  I remembered, however, that on my visits how impressed I was with the staff.  They all seemed uniformly happy, not only with each other, but to be working there.  Also, I noted that without exception, they all worked hard; nobody was merely going through the motions.  This is one of the clear signs of a positive and supportive management philosophy.  If I was going to have to re-join the workforce, I wanted it to be a good experience.

So one day, while picking up some prescriptions, I went to the computer terminal displaying the sign, "apply here" and filled out the job application.  About a week later, I received a call asking me to come in for an interview.  I showed up wearing slacks, dress shirt, and coat (but no tie), possibly a tad overdressed for a retail job.  Nevertheless, I was warmly welcomed and introduced to a few people.  The interview, really a canned question and answer session, went well.  A week later, I was invited back for another interview, which also went well.  Three days later, they called and offered me the job.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Speech: The Legacy of the Uniform

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

It would be easy for someone like me to stand here and recite platitudes of "Duty, Honor, Country."  It would be just as easy for you to completely ignore or forget those words.  You see, I'm not here as some distant personage.  I'm here as one of you.  I once stood where you are standing today.  I felt then what you are likely feeling today, impatience to get this thing over with, your anxiousness to see your loved ones who have traveled so far to be with you and see how far you have come in the arduous nine-week journey you have just completed.  I also have no doubt that many of you are imagining in great detail the marvelous taste of the first cold beer you've had in over two months.  Hoist 'em high, shipmates!  You've earned it.

As I indicated, I won't speak in soaring language today.  Instead, I will speak of the realities that await you as you leave for the fleet.

I offer you my congratulations upon your graduation from Recruit Training.  As you may have seen not everyone who arrived here back then is still standing here today.  I know that the pride you feel in your hearts is shared by your family and friends who are here, and those who could not make the trip.  I'd like you to look back for a moment at the tough moments.  Those PT tests, damage control training, fire fighting, all the long days and short nights.  Remember the frustration, the anger, the bouts of loneliness and homesickness.  Today, all that is behind you.  Your Company Commander won't yell at you or correct you, because they are standing here today, bursting with pride at your accomplishment.  The strangers who you were thrown in with have survived this all with you, sharing the hardship and the joy.  You are strangers no longer.  You are more than friends.  You are shipmates now, and will be for life.