The dedication page…
When it came to my latest novel, Hollywood Lost, there was absolutely no problem identifying the person I wanted to cite in the dedication. So while “the who” was easy, the real issue was how to adequately paint a word picture of this remarkable young woman in just a sentence or two.
When I met her, Shelby was a freshman at Ouachita Baptist University. Barely five feet tall, this cute brunette was a force of nature. She walked in the door with an “awe shucks” attitude, and even though she did nothing to demand attention, you still couldn’t take your gaze off of her. In other words…she owned every room she entered.
I once described Shelby as squirrel because she would dart from place to place, idea to idea and project to project faster than anyone I’d ever seen. Yet she finished everything she started. She was a talented artist, writer, and dancer. She was imaginative, funny and compassionate. I have only known a handful of people with her drive, enthusiasm and character.
Shelby was also the most giving person on the campus. She was constantly looking for ways to praise others. She lifted up the downtrodden and thanked everyone she observed doing any act of kindness or goodwill. She made people laugh, think and even sing. She was the caretaker of the misfits and yet the most popular kid too. She was known to say, “Smile away your troubles and they’ll burst like a bubble.” And she smiled away a lot of folks’ troubles, and if that didn’t work, she offered to carry their burdens.
Some folks are candles, some are flashlights, a few are spotlights and then there was Shelby…she was a beacon. By simply being herself she changed hearts, attitudes and lives. And then one night, when she was just twenty-one, she went to sleep and never woke up. And suddenly the world was a much darker place. For a moment it was as if the air had come out of life’s balloon.
I cannot begin to describe the sadness I felt as I contemplated this young woman’s death. A death that even an autopsy could not explain. It overwhelmed me and left me numb. Then I considered the profound affect she had during her life. I thought about all the people she’d had touched, inspired and motivated. As I looked around campus, as I observed those who had known this young woman, I saw Shelby everywhere. Because she lived every moment of everyday with the expressed goal of making a positive impact on others, she was not really gone. There were countless people of all ages carrying around Shelby’s remarkable spirit in their actions and attitudes. That’s how deeply she impacted everyone she met.
So how do you sum up a life like that in a simple book dedication? Perhaps, of the millions of words I’ve written, this was my biggest challenge. In truth, though I spent hours writing and rewriting that dedication, I never did do her justice. In the end I just wrote a brief portion of what she had stamped on my heart during her all too short life.
To Shelby Rebekah Seabaugh, whose spirit lit up every room she entered and who positively changed every life she touched. No one defined joy as completely as she did.
Writing a book is not that hard, but composing a dedication is impossible when it’s focused on a person who blessed me and countless others in ways beyond my abilities as an author to describe.
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Racism is essentially tribalism as it divides rather than unites. At its heart is the need to feel superior. I witnessed the ugly side of racism as a child and honestly thought we, as a society, would have moved well beyond it by now. Yet, from general observation as well as reading social media, I’m beginning to believe that racism might even be more pronounced in 2015 than it was in 1964. What makes today’s racism all the more dangerous is that it’s often masquerading as Americanism and is therefore being subtly marketed by some as a patriotic message. This is far from a new concept; history is filled with this kind of strategy.
Hitler used patriotism to justify his policies of superiority and racism. The KKK wrapped their message in the flag and the Bible and found a willing audience for their brand of tribalism. Hitler and the Klan knew when framed the right way that fear of different races or religions creates panic and panic generates mistrust that leads to violence. Though they pervert a religion other than Christianity, ISIS and other terrorist groups build their following on the same foundation as did Hitler and the KKK. They use tribalism and fear to drum up a mob mentality. The last thing we as a people need to do is fall into the trap of that kind of thinking as we respond to this new wave of violence. In this current reality we must remember that just because the Nazis and KKK used the Christian faith to justify their actions we did not wipe out all Christians just to get rid of Hitler and the Klan.
Essentially hate destroys individual lives. It eats folks up from the inside out. The world’s most read and bestselling book points out that those who live by the sword die by it. It’s also true that those who allow hate and prejudice to own their hearts will die angry, unhappy and unfulfilled. Thus, their tombstone might as well be an eternally burning cross.
It is addition not division that has formed America into a very special place. It’s acceptance rather than rejection that has made us unique and set us apart. It is sharing ideas and finding ways to compromise that has kept us moving forward. If we allow tribalism stirred by various political factions and hate groups to push us into the dark days of separation, mistrust and fear then we have lost the American ideal.
In 1779, Patrick Henry said, “United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.” More than two centuries later the greatest threat to the United States is not from foreign terrorist groups or rouge nations, rather it is from the growing politically based movement to separate Americans into tribes and then finding ways to stir up hate and mistrust among those groups. Like Hitler, the Klan and ISIS, there are voices in American right now that know when hate and faith reside in the same soul hate almost always takes control. We all have the power to reject the hate and fear and thereby still the voices that spew that destructive message, but do we have the will to do so?
The Now Factor
Matthew 6:34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Live one day at a time.
When most of us consider this verse we think it only puts tomorrow or the future into perspective. In a way that is true. But the fact is most of our apprehensions about tomorrow rest in something that happened yesterday. So, in truth, Matthew 6:34 is also about the past and to quit fretting about tomorrow we must first come to grips with our yesterdays.
Sadly, as we get older, many folks simply cannot get over anger, embarrassment or the frustrations of the past. We can’t deal with or come to terms with being wronged or making mistakes. In fact we so worry over the yesterdays, the things we can’t change from back then, we can’t do our best job today, enjoy the blessings of the moment, or much less look ahead to tomorrow with confidence.
Most of us have heard the saying “every now and then?” Yet have you ever looked deeply at those four words and what they really mean? To me it is this…if you don’t take advantage of this moment — which is an incredible gift from God — then it will become one of your regrets. And you don’t want that. So you need to focus on making the most of now!
So what can we do now to better live in the “now?” Here are a few suggestions.
1. Tell someone you love them. Knowing you are loved and sharing love makes a moment unforgettable and “now” is always the right time for love!
2. Help someone with a problem. People are all around us are struggling with little things and “now” is the time to notice that and make a difference.
3. Pray with someone. Being prayed for brings a bit of hope to a dark “now.”
4. Smile…it will not only lift your spirits and make your “now” better but has the potential to do the same for someone else.
5. Decide to be happy. Yes, being happy is a choice and making that choice makes “now” better.
6. Forgive someone who has wronged you. This is like losing twenty extra pounds and that makes “now” something to relish.
7. And to make this “now” the best “now” ever move forward with confidence rather than looking ahead with fear or back with regrets. In other words get over the stuff you can’t change.
Now matters if we want it too. Now matters if we take advantage of it. Now can be something special or now can be wasted. And now becomes then so fast it is frightening. Matthew 6:34 is really about “now” and embracing this moment, but you can’t fully do that until you get rid of the baggage you brought with you from “then.”
Climbing Out Onto A Limb
Branch Rickey was a man who, in the face of failure, continued to take chances time and time again. He was in his eighties still looking toward the future, when he took the stage in Columbia, Missouri and gave his final speech. That night he told the audience that the only people who impacted the world were those who constantly climbed out onto limbs.
Rickey felt his calling was the game of baseball; yet he failed miserably as a player and manager. For three decades he hung on by sheer will, guts and faith. In the 1930s, he finally found success as a general manager with the St. Louis Cardinals, but it did not satisfy him. His driving motivation was to open major league baseball’s door to African-Americans. He waited impatiently to make that move and, when he did, he was not viewed as a hero, but became one of the most reviled men in the country. So why, as a senior citizen, did he do what others would not? It all goes back to climbing out on that limb.
As a kid I loved to climb trees. Maybe you did too. But most adults not only quit climbing trees; they quit venturing out onto limbs. Many, if not most, see taking any kind of chance as being just a continuation of the immature nature of youth. I wonder if this kind of thinking also causes them to quit dreaming. Because making dreams into a reality involves more than just planning and hard work, it also takes climbing out onto a limb that might just break and toss you out onto the hard ground.
I will likely never impact the world like Branch Rickey did. But much like the man who shattered baseball’s color line, I believe the best is yet to come and I have a part in somehow making it happen. I don’t see age, past failures, an evolving world or a file drawer filled with rejections as a reason not to keep climbing out onto limbs. Even as I hit my sixtieth birthday, I am excited about all that life has to offer to me if I am willing to keep climbing my life’s trees and falling out of a few too.
Branch Rickey fully understood that failure is a momentary thing, but giving up dreaming is like giving up on life. So today might just be the day you need to quit settling and start dreaming again. Embrace once more the need to make something happen, to find a calling and to maybe even suffer a failure or two. It will all be worth it if this move allows you to once more discover a child’s curiosity and optimism, two things Branch Rickey held onto until the day he died.
My Role Model Wile E. Coyote
I was recently asked who was my career role model? I know the person who tossed that question my way certainly expected my answer to spotlight one of a few thousand bestselling, award-winning authors that I have followed and read over the years. Yet, my response likely created a bit of shock and surprise as I cited not a Twain, Hemmingway or Cussler, but rather a product of the famed Warner Bros. Studios and it wasn’t even a human. My role model was either born or created, that depends upon your viewpoint, on September 17, 1949. Much more than any writer I know, it is Wile E. Coyote who possesses the attributes needed by every author.
Wile E. is first and foremost inventive. He is constantly coming up fresh ideas to achieve his goals. He simply doesn’t stick to the same formula, but rather learns from his mistakes and moves forward with new approaches. He is not afraid of technology, but instead sees it as offering new and better ways of becoming more productive. He is therefore not stuck in the past but lives on the cutting edge.
Next Wile E. has such a strong desire to succeed that it allows him to overlook the obvious odds against him. Where others give up, he surges forward. He never takes his eye off the prize or allows a few failures to cause him to shift his career goals. He ultimately believes he will succeed.
Though Wile E. lives a fairly solitary existence that does not prevent him from consulting others as he looks to expand his knowledge and expertise. He not only seeks out the advice of the folks at Acme, but he had an extensive library that includes such works as How To Build a Burmese Tiger Trap, Hunting Birds, The History of Speed and How To Sail. In other words, he does his homework, he constantly studies and expands his mind and he is not afraid of teaming with others to reach his goals.
But maybe the most important thing I have learned from Wile E. is to never give up. He believes in his quest to the point where nothing will stop him. Therefore he will take risks that would seem completely illogical to a mathematical mind knowing that those risks often provide the greatest rewards and the best chance of finding true satisfaction. So he doesn’t see rejection as a sign of failure, but just another challenge to be addressed.
Anyone in the creative field is apt to experience far more failure than success. We crash and burn much more than those who stick to the normal routes through life. Yet if we truly believe in our message then we press forward because we feel our stories are worth all the pain experienced in trying to get them to the public. In other words, we are like that coyote who is constantly trying to capture the prize; even a lifetime of rejections can’t keep us from continuing to do what we feel called to do. And neither should a few rejections keep you from your calling either!
Are Authors Today’s Dinosaurs? (May, 2013)
Consider for a moment what a century has done to the book, magazine and newspaper markets. In 1913, the written word was the primary source for information and entertainment for most families. Each night after dinner, and often for much of the day on weekends, men, women and children read.
While moving pictures had been around for a while, it was about 1915 when Hollywood producers began to lure people into movie houses in large numbers. They did so through telling stories on screen. Books and magazines suddenly had competition on both weekends and weeknights. And while talking pictures brought even more folks into theaters, thus cutting more deeply into book sales, newspapers had little to fear as they remained the soul source of current events. That was about to change.
Radio shook things up even more than movies. Radio threatened newspapers by getting news out within minutes of it happening. Radio also realized the potential in producing what were then called radio plays. These “plays” embraced drama, action, mystery, continuing story lines (soap opera), variety, comedy, and even shows that came on in the afternoon hours aimed at kids. Radio also aired important speeches and news events live as well as the play-by-play of sport’s action. Therefore radio began to own so much of America’s attention it made millions of readers into listeners.
While not the only game in town, the book publishers still had a huge audience. In fact they used radio as a mean to promote their books. But newspapers and magazines suffered. Cities that once had a dozen dailies found themselves with just three or four. And some magazines that dated back more than a century shut their doors.
Television was the next medium to carve up a piece of the pie once reserved for the written word. Unlike radio that required only the ears, TV demanded complete attention. Thus, while many had once read magazines, newspapers and books while listening to radio, video broadcasts made multi-tasking entertainment much more difficult. When television evolved into delivering scores of stations into homes, print media really took a huge hit and even more newspapers went out of business.
As much as movies, radio and television cut into the book market, it would be the next two media advances that struck the book business hardest. Video games took books out of kids’ hands by giving them games they could play by themselves or with friends. The internet gave us everything from social networking to entertainment and up to the second news. Many more newspapers and magazines either went out of business or simply published online editions. A host of others shrunk in size. Book sales fell too and the advances offers by publishers shrank for most authors, making it more difficult for writers to make a living by creating new books.
In one century people’s entertainment options have dramatically changed in ways Mark Twain or our grandparents couldn’t have imagined. Yet while movie and radio were not killed by TV and TV will not be killed by web content, we we are going to have to change our approach to word delivery in order to compete in this modern market. Books have to offer something new, exciting and different. As the audience moves in greater numbers to ebooks, publishers will need to provide those electronic books with special features (think of the extras currently put in DVDs. And authors and publishers are going to have to find a way to fully exploit the new mediums to make an audience aware of their books. In other words, we must learn how to use the web to effectively advertise.
Storytelling has always been here and will always be here. It is not going to end, but the delivery method might. So we need to rethink the role of books in today’s world and how to make books as exciting as they were when the printed word was often the only form of nighttime and weekend leisure entertainment. Change is hard, but I am looking forward to being a part of helping books evolve in this new age.
And speaking of books, my new novel, Darkness Before Dawn, has just been released. Yes, I am using my blog as way to shameless plug my newest book, but I think you will like it!
A 2013 Point of View (January 2013)
In the world of novels, editors are constantly quizzing authors about POV (point of view). Establishing POV is vital for two very important reasons. The first is obvious — a strong POV helps the reader follow the storyline. The second is often overlooked but is what separates an average book from a really good one — the author needs to deeply understand the characters he or she creates. We have to understand their motivation. We must live inside their heads and walk in their shoes. If we don’t have a full grasp on those we create then our readers will never fully identify with our characters. While POV is essential for “growing” a good book, it might even be more important for growth in life.
In my childhood America was a segregated nation. There were schools for white children and schools for blacks. Stores and restaurants were divided by color as well. Community housing districts were also cordoned off by race. During my youth I can’t begin to count how many times I heard the expression “separate but equal.” The old lie was trotted out every time school integration was mentioned. Yet if those who used this conversational crutch had spent a day in one of those supposedly equal schools they would have noted the poor facilities and out of date textbooks. Then if they had walked the halls and visited with the students, they would have been forced to realize the only facet of their excuse against integration that held any truth was the separate part. There was no equality.
During his three years of active teaching Jesus made the establishment very uncomfortable. Rather than write off people of other races, religions and social standings, Jesus demanded that those doing the judging walk a mile in the “sinners” shoes, get to know their motivations and understand their needs. This kind of “don’t you dare throw that stone” philosophy led to those in power deciding the best way to deal with this radical teacher was to get rid of him. So rather than listen to the message they opted to silence the messenger.
When I mess up POV my editors ask me to redevelop my characters. That is a good practice for life too. If you are so settled in your ways and traditions that you have no room for those who are different, if you believe you don’t have to associate with the modern equivalent of the woman at the well or the Samaritan, if you don’t have the courage to challenge your convictions and your prejudices, if you think you should only live in a world where people agree with your POV, then you are likely not employing Jesus as the editor of your life.
Those who preached “separate but equal” were cowards. It terrified them to give up power and control even if they knew it was the right thing to do. And while they were nothing like Jesus, many used his name to justify their POV. Let’s hope we are all a bit wiser and more ready to hear “the editor’s” words in 2013. Time to toss out the old antiquated thinking, take a dose of courage, expand our world and grow!
October 16, 2012
Five days a week I run sixteen 110-yard uphill sprints. To make it even more of a challenge, each day before I run, I strap on a twenty-five pound weight vest. I can honestly tell you it is pure torture and doing it tests my aging body in a myriad of different and sometimes painful ways. But much more than my body, the running really tests my mind. Because it is the mind that determines if your have the courage to accomplish this test. And that is what it is — a test of will. But the knowledge that my neighbors and friends cheer me on and believe in my effort keep me going.
Today as I was running it hit me that most people’s lives are pretty much like running uphill sprints. Maybe for those who are born wealthy life is all downhill, but for the rest of us it is a daily challenge to climb that next hill. And the hills just keep on coming.
Except for a very few, authors are always sprinting uphill too. We are pushing to finish ahead of deadlines, racing to complete rewrites and fighting to meet expectations. We live in a world where there are no guarantees and we never know if the product we have labored so long to complete will sell.
Yet, even though we may write in a vacuum, we authors can’t live in one. We may run our races alone, but success requires a team. I have just had two books released. I have been awed by the reviews each has gotten and, even though both are just now getting to bookstores, I have been humbled by the words of those who have already read and liked the two novels. You have no idea what those compliments mean to me. Those words keep me running uphill with vigor and enthusiasm. Yet for an author, that alone is not enough.
The success of any book depends not upon reviews, but upon sales. And except for that one percent of authors whose fame guarantees rewards, most authors depend upon those who read their words and like their stories to spread the news about their books. When I read a good book, I tell others that they need to buy that book. I am proud to admit there are a host of authors who have me as a cheerleader. Those who know me will also tell you I do that with any and everyone I believe in. In that way I am helping each of these folks, no matter their dreams or profession, get up that hill.
If you have a favorite author or have just read a book that your feel is a real winner, then please tell others about that writer and their work. If you don’t spread the news that will create sales, then that storyteller you love so much might just not get another chance to pen a tale that will take you to places you will never forget and immerse you in adventures you won’t want to miss. And don’t stop at authors. Spread the news on everyone you believe in. Toss the spotlight on them. Give them a chance to continue to do what they love.
Yes, playing with words and shaping them into stories is an uphill experience, but that climb sure is easier when folks are cheering you on.
October 2, 2012
One Person’s Idea Only Has Value Through Teamwork
As I contemplate the multitude of directions my words have taken me over my career, I have a bit of envy for those who stick to a single genre and solitary focus for their novels. There is a thread of continuality and stability in their work that I can't claim. In the past year I have written a book, Reich of Passage, that combines action, adventure, political intrigue with a touch of medical science fiction, a novel, Darkness Before Dawn, that examines the rage of a woman whose husband is killed by a drunk driver, The Cutting Edge, a tale of model who is unknowingly being stalked by a man who slashed her face and ruined her life, a whodunit, The Yellow Packard, that has a car driving a plot of murder and kidnapping set in the Great Depression and, The Christmas Star, a book involving a sixteen-year-old boy dealing with the death of his Medal of Honor winning father in 1945. In a very real sense, each of these novels is vastly different from the others. These books are looking at life from completely different point of views, have vastly diverse settings and employ themes ranging from saving the world to seeking justice to simply finding a reason to live. And, as I study my next likely projects, this eclectic mix of subjects, settings, periods and themes continues. I'm even throwing in a devotional book into the mix. So, why am I all over the place when so many others stay on the same page?
I learned a long ago that I am wired much differently than most people. I seem to have an interest in everything. I want to know the story behind each person I meet. I can't watch a classic movie without checking on the history of the actors, why the script was written and the locations used in filming. I do the same thing with sports, books and even the Bible. I have to know the backstories. That is really how Reich of Passage was born. I dug into the history of an actress after watching one of her films. After reading three biographies and seeing all her movies, I began to wonder, could someone like this deal with life in a modern world. How would she fit in if she had a "Rip Van Winkle" experience that transported her from 1937 to today? That idea grew in my mind to becoming a challenge for a book. To create the plot I had to find a way to take someone who had died at the age of twenty-six and bring them back to life in today's world. That led me to exploring everything to do with her era including language and fashion. Then, as just having her come to life was not enough to create an interesting story, I had to dig into the past to find a plot that would give her life meaning in the future. What resulted is likely one, along with The Yellow Packard and The Christmas Star, of the best things I've ever written and maybe the most fun I've ever had at a keyboard. But is a finished book that is never published really a book? In my mind it isn't and that is where the solitary nature of a writer is left behind and I trust my work to someone else.
Considering all the different genres I like to use and all the different ideas that are constantly floating in my head leads me to the reveal the most important element in advancing my career. I have an agent who encourages me to go in whatever direction I am going at that moment. She doesn't limit me or force me to confirm to a specific mold. She lets me be me. And when I am finished with my work, I have to have faith in her ability to sell what I have created. Thus, I must trust her enough to let her be her.
Writing might well be a solitary experience in its beginning stages but in reality it is a team sport. Successful writers have to have an agent who believes in their ability to tell a story. That agent, in my case Joyce Hart at Hartline, has to accept us for all our quirks. Then that agent has to find a publisher or publishers who recognize the potential of our work and that agent has to convince those publishers our books have value. Then come the editors who show us the holes in our manuscripts, put us back to work fixing our books and link us to some incredible folks who do everything from design covers to securing sellers who'll carry our product. When you consider all the people it takes to produce a single book it is almost overwhelming. Yet it is that team that brings that one idea to life. It is that team, beginning with the agent and ending with the readers, that allows my unique way of looking at the world to actually go from curiosity to concept to book. Yes, writing is a team sport.
If you have read any of my work and have comments, please email me.
September 15, 2012
I'm just saying...
As I get older I have found that life is a mix of the ironic and unusual combined with the painfully obvious and routine. While there are so many new things I understand with each passing year (like using a DVR and properly folding a map), there are also even more things that confound me. I had always heard that as you got older you become wiser. But I am not sure that is the case in my life. I do know that as the years pass I find myself even more curious than I was as a child and less likely to judge others than I was a few years ago. I also find myself grinning at what I like to call “life’s little ironies.” I have decided to share a few of those with you today. Some are serious and some are not. You probably have noted most of them and maybe you have wondered about them as well. Let’s begin with the obvious.
I don’t understand why there are interstate highways in Hawaii. I can understand an interstate that actually runs from one state into another, like I-35 that runs from Texas into Oklahoma into Kansas, etc. But why call it an interstate in Hawaii when it is really an intrastate highway? Who decided that? It makes no sense.
And what about driveways? We park on them, yet we drive on parkways. No wonder the English language is so hard to understand!
I will never fully grasp the concept of cutting the tails off certain breeds of dogs. Why do we do that? Am I missing something here? Will a Rottweiler whose tail has not been bobbed not function properly? And, have you ever noticed that a majority of the dog breeds who bite humans are canines whose tails have been removed? Doesn’t that tell us something about how the dogs feel about losing their tails? I don’t blame them for being angry.
A bit more serious, but just as ironic is that those who are pro-life almost always pro-death penalty, while those who advocate freedom of choice are usually anti-capital punishment? How does that make sense? If you believe that life is so precious it must be protected from the time of conception, then shouldn’t it always be protected no matter what that person has done as an adult? Isn’t the man on death row precious in God’s sight? So when does God quit caring about a living human being and when do we have a right to step in a say, “off with his head?” And, for those on the other side, if life really has very little value before birth then why is it worth so much when attached to a human being whose life example has seemingly proven him more animal-like than human? It seems to me that those on both sides of this argument are at odds with their own logic even before they begin the debate. Where is Solomon when you need him?
This next one really throws me for a loop. I have long wondered why I can seem to find a limitless number of people who claim to speak for God but so few who actually speak to Him. It has been my experience that when I speak for my wife or kids I usually mess up and then have to go back and restate their opinions (after they have straightened me out). I should have spoken to them to get my talking points before I opened my mouth. Or maybe better yet I shouldn’t have said anything. With that in mind I think I’ll leave speaking for God to God and I really wish everyone else would too — especially those who are running for office.
Whenever I read about Christ I seem to be left with a message of forgiveness and inclusion. Yet so many Christian leaders I hear rant on TV and radio center on exclusion and judgment. From what I catch on the airwaves I get the idea that the woman at the well would have problems finding a place in a majority of the churches in this country. I am not even sure all the disciples would be welcome in a pew either (there were some unique folks who traveled with Jesus). As I see it Christ was a force who united very different types of people, while so many who claim to serve him in our modern world want to limit Christianity to a very select few and claim theirs is the only correct way to worship. After all, is there any place left in the country more segregated than a majority of our churches? Few can claim a melting pot on the membership rolls.
The list of things I don’t understand seems to get longer each day and maybe that is why I find life so deeply fascinating and rewarding. Let’s face it, the world isn’t predictable and I thank God for that. I like the curves, the hills and the valleys. And I really like the fact that we seem intent on doing things that make little sense. It makes things more interesting. Yet I do wish that in midst of all this chaos we would remember that when it comes to the really challenging stuff — the most important place to stand is on the middle ground that unites rather than divides. I can disregard our attempts to alter the appearances of dogs and mess up language usage when it comes to highways, but it really bugs me when we find ways to separate ourselves into “know it all cliques” rather than seeking ways to bring souls together. Did you hear that Democrats and Republicans?
I’m just saying…