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Friday, August 28, 2015

When Did It Become Okay?



I’ve purposely put off writing this post for a number of weeks, though I’ve been thinking about it, formulating it, rehearsing it, and editing it.  Ever since the Charleston, South Carolina shooting this past June.  Actually, ever since the Columbine High School shooting.  And ever since the Pearl, Mississippi shooting.  And ever since the Virginia Tech shooting.  And ever since the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  And ever since the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.  And yes, ever since my son was shot and killed a year ago.

When did it become okay to enter a movie theater and shoot people who were there to relax and enjoy themselves?  It had never occurred to me that if I went to a movie with Kim, or if my daughters went to a movie, our lives . . . your lives . . . might be in jeopardy because someone might pull out a gun and start shooting randomly.

When did it become okay for someone to go to a church and sit in a prayer group or a Bible study and begin shooting people because of the color of their skin?  I’ve always thought of a church as a place of peace and a place for prayer and thoughtful meditation.  Never would I have to worry about someone who might be unhinged enough to want to kill.  Never.

When did it become okay for a disgruntled, bullied child to enter a school and begin shooting either because he or she didn’t think they’d get help, or perhaps didn’t seek help, or perhaps, they just wanted to get even on their own terms?  It never occurred to me in my thirty-nine years in education, the kids and the staff . . . my kids and my staff . . . might be in jeopardy.

When did it become okay for one kid to shoot at another kid because of a difference in gangs and turf and territory?  And in so doing, when did it become okay for innocent bystanders, those who happened to be on the street at the wrong time and in the wrong place, to be shot and killed?  It never occurred to me that it would be dangerous to walk to a restaurant, do some shopping and walk back home.  It never occurred to me that my life, one’s life, would be in jeopardy.

When did it become okay for someone whose religion “tells” them to strap on a bomb, walk to a crowded area, and set it off, taking not only that life, but the lives of many innocent men, women and children?  In the name of . . . who, exactly?  I don’t think my God would ever ask me to do that, because I’ve always believed in a God of mercy, and forgiveness, and love.

When did it become okay to minimize and marginalize groups of people?  When did it become okay for a candidate for President of the United States can get cheers and chuckles for calling women bimbos, saying that one or more of them is fat, that one or more is ugly?  When did it become okay for a candidate to say that an entire group of people, an entire race of people, are drug dealers, prostitutes, criminals?  I’ve always wanted leaders to lead by example, not by bombastic rhetoric.  I’ve always wanted leaders to speak the truth, not just the flavor of the moment, to speak the truth, and not just something that might get him or her elected.  I’ve always wanted leaders to bring people together, not pull us apart.  I’ve always wanted leaders to remember that our past was built by those disenfranchised, those persecuted, and those who struggled to survive and who came to America to seek a better life for themselves and their families. 

So, I ask you again, when did all of this become okay?  Why aren’t we doing something about it? 

Why does it seem that there are more and more people getting shot and killed for no apparent reason?  Why is there a lack of tolerance for those whose opinions are different from ours, whose beliefs are different from ours, whose skin color or gender or sexual orientation is different from ours? It seems to me that refusal to serve others because of their beliefs, because of their religion or race, because of their sexuality was done before in history: Germany with Jews and Catholics, and other groups; the United States with our Black citizens in the 50’s and 60’s.  Why is it okay now?  Why the sudden change? 

What makes it okay for a bakery to not make a cake for a wedding because the couple might be the same sex?  Seems to me that back in our own history, we did that once before with signs on doors that read, “Blacks Not Welcome!” or with separate water fountains and separate bathrooms.  Exactly why was this okay then, and why is it okay now?  Seems to me that we’ve just exchanged one group of people with a different group of people.

Why are our stadiums filled with people who flock to listen to candidates who lie, who are callous, who are arrogant, who can’t be trusted, who aren’t compassionate, who don’t have our best interests at heart?  How is this okay?  Is it because one gives free rides to kids in a helicopter?  Is it because he speaks the loudest or because he is more outrageous than any other candidate?  Does that make it okay? 

I suppose there are those who might label me a liberal, as someone from the far left, when actually, I consider myself to be a moderate and an independent.  I consider myself as someone who cares about people, who tries to see the good in people, who tries to build up instead of tearing down, who seeks to lend a hand and speak an encouraging word, who would rather be optimistic then pessimistic.

So I guess the answer to my own question, “What Makes It Okay?” is that I believe it is because we’ve not done enough, listened enough, or cared enough.  I believe it is because we’ve not extended a helping hand or an open heart.  I believe it is because we spend so much time talking, arguing, and persuading, that we’ve not taken the time to listen and to understand.  And that is simply not okay.  Not okay at all.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Relentless


My family and I have not had a real family vacation in years.  Usually, we travel back to Wisconsin for the Christmas holidays, but I don’t consider that a real vacation, though we do have a wonderful time.

 

This summer, just a few weeks ago, actually, we went to North Carolina and stayed on the Outer Banks for a week.  Last summer, Kim went online after we decided that we needed to do something differently after the terrible summer and year we just had.  She came up with a house to rent right across the street from the ocean.  The house also had a pool and hot tub and was only short distances away from restaurants and shopping.  We invited Kim’s parents, her sister and her family, her brother and his family along with his girlfriend and her two kids, and Hannah’s boyfriend. 

 

It was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations I’ve had in a really long time and to be honest, I’d like to go back again and again.  Heck, I’d leave tomorrow if I could.

 

One morning, Emily and I walked the beach.  Both of us barefoot, toes in the wet sand.  What a way to begin a morning! 

 

One thing I miss is sitting out on the upper deck and listening to the waves.  Every now and then we’d spot dolphins, and while I enjoyed watching them dance in the ocean, I was more attracted to the waves.

 

I’d listen to and watch them crash and pound the shore.  Sometimes there were whitecaps and the sea roiled, rose and fell in a heap on the sand.  Other times, the ocean was calmer, but never really calm, because the waves still hit the shore, only a bit more gently.  At times, the sound of the waves hitting the shoreline was so loud that even though we were across the street, it sounded like they were in our own backyard.  Other times, the sound was softer, still there, but softer.

 

No matter, wave after wave, hour after hour, minute after minute, waves hit the shore.  Persistent.  Relentless.  No amount of want or need or design could or would prevent waves from landing on shore, dragging sand into the ocean only to spew it back as the next wave fell.

 

I think love is just as persistent, just as Relentless.

 

I look at young mothers holding a baby and I see a persistent, Relentless love.  I watch young teachers staying up late, putting in extra time, spending their own money even though they get paid a pittance, leaning over a student who just doesn’t get it, and I’d call that love.  I’ve known parents staying up late to make sure their sons or daughters get home safely.  Definitely love.

 

And even though the baby might grow up to hurt, and even though the student might not learn it as fast or as quickly as others, and even though that son or daughter might make a poor choice or decision that causes heartbreak, in each case, their love is persistent, Relentless.

 

Love doesn’t give up.  Love might make you frustrated, angry and sad.  Love might cause you to weep or cry or fly into a rage.  Love might move us to silence and peace and utter joy.

 

But like the waves crashing onto shore or gently lapping at the sand, love is at the core and the root, the driving force in each of us, and in each other. Persistent . . . Relentless . . . Love.  Something to think about . . .

 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

 

Readers:

Available on Amazon in ebook and paperback, or available from me in signed paperback message me on my author page:  https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

or find my on Twitter @jrlewisauthor

 

Taking Lives, prequel to The Lives Trilogy


 

Stolen Lives, Book One of The Lives Trilogy


 

Shattered Lives, Book Two of The Lives Trilogy


 

Thanks,

JL

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Resume or Epitaph?


I’ve written a resume a time or two in my life.  A bunch, actually.  I find them fairly easy to write. 

 

A resume is a chronological listing of things done in one’s life.  Not everything, just those things that would be pertinent for the position and the job one seeks.  However, a resume tells only a part of the story, only those things that are important to obtain the job. 

 

There is much left out of a resume.  There is nothing about what movies you like to watch or with whom you like to watch them.  There is nothing about what books you like to read.  There is nothing about your favorite foods or beverages.  There is nothing about places you’ve been to or places you’d like to go.  Nothing about your bucket list.

 

So as much as a Resume tells about you, it is really incomplete.

 

I’ve also written an Epitaph in my life.  Only one.

 

When our son, Wil, was shot and killed a year and a month ago in Chicago, Kim and Hannah and Emily and I had to visit the funeral home with our daughter-in-law, Maria, and we had to put together a chronology of Wil’s life.  How do you do that in a paragraph or two?

 

I have to admit, it was one of the tougher things I ever had to do in my life.  I know Kim, Hannah, Emily and Maria would say the same thing.

 

There were so many stories we wanted to share about Wil.  Like the time he got completely and utterly lost on his way from Milwaukee to Fredericksburg to visit us.  Somehow, he ended up in Kentucky.  Or the time he and Maria dressed up as Ninja, went to a park after hours in order to get a kite out of a tree.  Or the time he was on a breakaway in a high school soccer game and an opposing player tried to slow him down by grabbing onto his shorts, which ended up around his knees.  Or the time in a high school track meet when he came in second, but broke a school record with a badly torn thigh muscle. 

 

Like the Resume, an Epitaph is incomplete.  Neither tell the complete story of an individual’s life.

 

And, there is a major difference between the Resume and the Epitaph. 

 

A Resume is written when one seeks something.  A Resume is written when one wants to move on, to gain something different.  An Epitaph is written when one is dead.  It is a tribute to one’s life, hopefully, well-lived.

 

In essence, a Resume seeks to move one forward, whereas an Epitaph marks one’s end.

 

I think there are times when we forget to live, to move forward, to advance.  I think there are times when we only settle for titles, and positions, and things.  We forget the greater purpose of our lives, the meaning of our lives.  We seek to gain titles and positions and things for sometimes selfish reasons.  So that upon our death, an Epitaph can be written that is a tribute to all we gained, all we’ve done, all the titles we held, so people can yell (or perhaps think) “Bravo!”

 

Do you notice that an Epitaph is written upon one’s death?  It is written in the past tense of one’s life.  A Resume, however, is written when life seeks to be lived further and is written in the present and future tense.  To me, it is important to write Resumes, to live and to keep moving forward and to live in the present.  And, if one writes a full and complete Resume – not once, but again and again – then the Epitaph will take care of itself.  Something to think about . . .

 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

 

To my readers:

You will notice that I’ve written sparingly during these summer months.  I needed to recharge myself emotionally and spiritually, first and foremost.  I need to be with my family in the present as much as possible.  Lastly, I’ve been working on the third book of The Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives, which will be out sometime this month (I think).  It is the final book of the trilogy.  Yet, for those of you who have been asking, my plan is to take a couple of my favorite characters and move them forward into different storylines, yet in the thriller/mystery fiction genre.

 

If you are interested in catching up, you can purchase the following via Amazon in ebook or paperback or by messaging me and I can send you a signed copy.  They are:

 

Taking Lives, which is the prequel to the trilogy.  Kelliher and the FBI have a string of dead bodies with no leads.  A twelve year old boy holds the key to the puzzle, but doesn’t know it.  Taking Lives can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Lives-Joseph-Lewis-ebook/dp/B00MG2JAWE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407974964&sr=8-1&keywords=Taking+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis  

 

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy.  Two 13 year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher knows he has to find them within the first 24 hours or they’ll end up like all the others: dead! Can he find them before they disappear forever? Without any leads? With a leak in the FBI, and possibly on his own team?


 

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy. The boys were freed from captivity. The hospital staff, the FBI and even their parents thought the boys were now safe, and they were, until people began dying. Six dangerous men escaped and the FBI has only a slight idea of who they are, but no clue and no leads as to where they are, so they can only wait, which is a deadly game when it comes to the lives of children.