Prayers For The Lost

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Millions of Americans over the last few days have been offering prayers and condolences for those killed and wounded in the shooting in Las Vegas.

59 people  killed, over 500 wounded in a shooting that took place during an outdoor concert.

Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

Once again we have experienced the carnage of hate heaped upon innocent people.

Once again we offer our prayers for the victims and their families.

Is anyone praying for the shooter? Stephen Paddock and his family?

We don’t know and might not ever know how he came to think that this act of evil was the only thing left for him to accomplish in this world.

He committed suicide as the police were forcing their way into the two room suite he rented in order to commit mass murder.

I don’t think Stephen Paddock was born evil.

Something in his life caused him to evolve from a wide eyed innocent child into a horrific monster.

One would think that if he wanted to leave a legacy of revolution or promote some misguided cause he would have surrendered and used the media platform to continue his tirade of hate.

Like others before him; Dylann Roof, Syed Farook, Adam Lanza, Harris and Klebold, one would expect there to have been clues and behaviors that would tell the story of his descent into a  life of hatred. Some history of despair which could only be healed (in his mind) by the need to carry out this pure evil act.

Someone, family members, a girl friend or acquaintances must have had some inkling of his solitary, secrete life.

Instead they described him as “caring, kind, quiet.”

His brother was quoted as saying “This was a complete surprise to us. When you find out let us know.”

But then, he killed 59 innocent people and himself.

Since 1984, some 54 murderers have gained notoriety from mass shootings.

http://timelines.latimes.com/deadliest-shooting-rampages/

Some were disgruntled employees turned down for a promotion or fired from jobs. Some were students spurned by teachers or classmates. Some (or all) were suffering from mental illness. Some were avowed terrorists and supremacists.

Killing was their way to further a cause, get revenge, or get their own Wikipedia page.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Paddock

There was a time that suicide was an act of despair carried out alone, away from scrutiny of the sun.

Now, more and more often it seems, people bent on killing themselves have found the need to take  innocent lives with them.

By all accounts Stephen Paddock had success, money, and people who cared. He traveled, had company and for all practical purposes, seemed to enjoy his life.

So what happened that pointed to violence and death as the only way out?

How many others are out there waiting for their psyches to justify mass murder?

And should we be praying for them?

Oh, Say Can You See…

 

https://uago.at/-xjyl

Will the last adult leaving America, please turn out the lights.

Of course, an adult would automatically turn out the lights to save energy and lower the light bill.

Likewise, an adult would realize that the battle between our adolescent President and NFL players is kinda like high school street gangs from the 50’s.

Both sides are squared off in the street, wearing chinos and leather, each “double daring” the other to do something even more outrageous.

As might be expected they fail to look past the bravado and address the original transgression.

Twitter has become the place to scream, “Oh yeah? Yeah!”

A gang and mob mentality emerges whenever the subject of racism comes up.

Unfortunately, the adults who could break up the fight are nowhere to be found.

Our political leaders are part of the problem. Beginning at the top, their self interests have long ago taken priority over that of the country.

The police have their hands full, policing themselves. Renegade officers are out there enforcing their own brand of justice while jeopardizing the credibility of a million good cops, trying their best to do a difficult, dangerous job.

The news media, well that’s probably the only thing President Trump gets right. The media is only as good as the next, true or contrived headline.

Mike Tomlin, the Steelers head coach apparently felt it was more important to be “respectful of our football team” than to be respectful of the right, of Offensive Tackle Alejandro Villanueva, to honor the National Anthem.

Villanueva, a former Army Ranger with three tours of duty in Afghanistan, stood alone at the end of the tunnel, his hand over his heart, while the rest of the team huddled in the locker room.

Maybe we need to look to a soldier. One who knows the value of sacrifice for the better good. One who is not afraid to step up and into danger for the sake of others.

Maybe we just need a mother to give them all a time out. Take away their devices. Have them sit quietly for ten minutes alone and think about what is important in their lives and look at the real reason for their behavior.

In a “sign of unity”, team players stood, sat, kneeled, or failed to go on the field at all during the playing of the National Anthem.

Owners and the NFL who in the past have penalized players for celebrating touchdowns, taunting others and carrying sharpies in their shoes, failed to show anywhere near a unified front in addressing the behavior on the sidelines.

Fans booed, players did whatever they wanted, owners and the NFL failed to control what will no doubt become the symbol of the 2017 football season, and Donald Trump blew yet another chance to be like a president.

Lock the door when you leave, and don’t forget the lights.

 

 

 

Beating the Odds

As the legion of Green Bay Packers fans will tell you-the game’s not over ’till the clock reads “00”.

The Monday morning quarterbacks  come out of the woodwork when the team seemingly fails to finish out a game they thought was already won.

The main criticism seems to center around the approach of “not playing to lose rather than playing to win.”

But then again, going for it on fourth and one on the fifty yard line and failing has the critics proclaiming the coach to be reckless in his gamble.

Life is like that. Most of us tend to look for the comfortable, the secure, the less risky way of life. A steady job, family and a supporting circle of friends, leading to a comfortable retirement.

Certainly nothing wrong with that. But could there be more?

The numbers say that comfortable and secure serves the purpose for most of us. That the majority of us would be very happy to look back when all is said and done and see that we lived a good life surrounded by family and friends,  before passing on to the ever-after.

Poker players will tell you that  drawing to an inside straight is a “fool’s bet”  and to be avoided at all costs. However, the odds of drawing one card to a straight flush or a royal flush are even worse, but the pot is much bigger.

The majority of us will never climb a mountain straight up, sky dive or lead a civil rights march.

We could however, make a big difference by moving just a little outside our comfort zone.

What would happen for example, if you spent an hour a month stocking shelves at  a food pantry, checking in on an elderly neighbor or donating to the cause of your choice.

You could roll the dice and follow the urge to play an instrument,  dabble in watercolor or write a poem.

You could run for local, state or even national political office. You could voice an opinion, be part of a community organization, cast an informed vote.

Feel the need to make a difference? Go for it.

Need to express yourself? Why Not?

Have you ever dreamed of running  a marathon (or walking in one)? Put on your shoes.

Want to know what it’s like to risk all  to answer the call- talk with a soldier.

How much would you risk, to heed that voice in your heart that asks, what if?

What happens when you leave it all on the table? When on your dying bed you can look back and say, “I lived a full life.”

Most of us would think of what if?

What if we didn’t?

Follow the link below to see more on beating the odds.

https://getpocket.com/redirect?url=https%3A%2F%2Fvideo.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fvideo%3Ffr%3Dyfp-t-s%26p%3Dsteve%2Bharvey%2Bmotivational%2Bvideos%23id%3D2%26vid%3D33e4742b140be4112cc8ee6933106c46%26action%3Dview&formCheck=1acfda54dc65c7fca494142a4802d8f5

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

www.mirror.co.uk

 

Looking around America today one could easily believe that the end of life, as we know it, is at hand.

Hackers, scams, corruption, addiction, abuse, bullying, and fake news have become daily insults  to our  sensibilities.

And that’s just in Washington, D.C.

The rest of the country particularly the fly-over region, although more stable, still has its issues and challenges.

Crime, shootings, drought, floods, tornadoes, snow and ice storms.

The Packers lost the NFL championship game-again.

We’ve seen worse, much worse.

Our parents and grandparents lived through “The War to End All Wars,” with its meat grinder of trench warfare and mustard gas.

Then came The Great Depression when 13-15 million Americans, almost 1/5 of the entire population, were unemployed, hungry or homeless.

Followed by yet another World War that claimed as many as 60 million lives worldwide.

That figure doesn’t include the nearly 6 million Jews, men, women and children that were systematically exterminated by Nazi Germany. Places like Dachau, Auschwitz-Birkenau, were part and parcel of Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again, yet and Syria. This latest incursion has been going on for 14 years, with no end in sight.

Even before the 20th Century  our nation endured a great Civil War that threatened to destroy the Union. Casualties on both side came to over 1 million, yet the nation survived and prospered.

Freedom, became a right for everyone. It took another hundred years but exercising those “Civil Rights” eventually became the law of the land.

Now minorities and women hold office in both state and federal government.

If you haven’t forgotten, an African-American, was elected President-twice.

Over the last year and a half (just check Facebook) a divisive, contested Presidential Election took place amid charges of sexual abuse, voter fraud, and the release of top secret e-mails.

Racial strife and distrust is at a level not seen in decades. Police and Blacks are at war in many of our cities.

And yet, millions of Americans woke up this morning, went to jobs and school, took care of their families and kept on living their lives.

They fell in love, had babies and talked to their neighbors.

We made it through a week without football.

 10 Ways to  stay focused on the brighter side of life.

1) Yesterday 153 thousand  people in the world died. Be thankful you weren’t one of them.

2) Everyday in America people we know and love are diagnosed with a terminal illness or become victims of a tragedy. Again, if that’s not you, move ahead two spaces.

3) If you are able, physically and mentally to care for yourself, find work that puts food on the table and provides for a roof over your head, be thankful. A half million people in the US are homeless.

4) If you have a family, parents who are together, siblings that care for one another, consider yourself lucky. Many don’t.

5) There are things beyond our control and understanding. Regardless of our education, position or wealth, we  don’t have all the answers. Sometimes the only answer is, “I don’t know.”

6) Every 24 hours we have the opportunity to make someone else’s day a little better. Tell a bad joke, appreciate a sunset, make faces at a baby.

7) Realize that everyday won’t be perfect. Things will go wrong. Tomorrow is another opportunity to do better.

8) Humor helps. Laugh often, at yourself. Why just the other day I admitted to being wrong about something. My wife hasn’t been the same since.

9) Don’t be afraid to ask for help, from family, friends, professionals. No one can go it alone. Have at least one person to trust, confide in, to laugh or cry with.

10) God is real. Have faith.

 

Putin Sends “Thank You” to Donald Trump

 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) along with the FBI, as part of its investigation into Russian influence on the US election, has uncovered an e-mail link from the Kremlin to Trump Tower.

The unclassified 25 page summary report known as a “Joint Analysis Report” (JAR) released by the US intelligence community only confirmed what government officials suspected all along-that Russia had gained access to our government cyber system through the use of malware, trolling and fake websites linked by e-mails through proxy servers.

The United States is not the only country targeted by Russian cyber operatives. The USA Today reported that Ukraine, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, France and Austria have also fallen victim to hacking “aimed at influencing election results, sowing discord and undermining faith in public institutions that included government agencies, the media and elected officials.”

Although there was no identified link between the two leaders, Putin and Trump, there was evidence not officially disclosed that showed how Russian hackers through a campaign known as “Grizzly Steppe,” was able to infiltrate US Government agencies, including the Democratic National Committee (DNC)and Clinton advisor, John Podesta, at least as far back as 2014.

Attempts to infiltrate American cyber infrastructure have been a continuous threat under the direction of the Russian Federal Security Services (FSB) the successor to the KGB, once led by Vladimir Putin.

The KGB had previously undertaken efforts to infiltrate our election system going back to the Carter Administration in the 70’s.

Under code names such as “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT 29) and its counterpart, APT 28, illegally obtained information such as account names, passwords and content that was passed on through the Russian based television network (RT) and then to Julian Assange and Wiki leaks.

The Obama Administration pointed out in October 2016 that not only the Russians but others are continually trying to hack into our systems and that it’s another constant threat that needs to be addressed.

The President Elect, of course, has criticized and expressed doubt of the department’s ability to identify and corroborate evidence of the Russian government’s efforts to take over our democratic election process.

He then changed his tune and admitted that although Russia, China and others continually try to gain access to our government records, activities and now it appears, our elections, he denies having sent or received any e-mails to or from the Russian leader.

Trump went on to say that the Republican National Committee (RNC) had previously reported hacking attempts but those were not successful because the RNC “had strong hacking defenses.”

Putin’s message?

“Thanks, I couldn’t have done it without you.”

#VP, #Putin

https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

 

Why All The Fuss Over Christmas?

 

“Jacob Marley is Dead.”

Had he been real, he would have been dead some 150 years now.

His partner, Ebenezer Scrooge would have died ten years or so later, given the life expectancy of the time.

The Cratchits with “all the little assorted Cratchits”, would have long since passed into history. Even Tiny Tim.

The story however, lives on.

As old as mankind, it portrays the rift between those who have everything and those with nothing.

If you might have missed one of the 400 or so renditions of ‘A Christmas Carol’, is goes something like this.

Ebenezer Scrooge, a wretched, cold hearted, miserly “money counter”, kind of like the Bernie Madoff of the day, loathes Christmas. Or rather, he despises the poor and those less fortunate, refusing to lift a boney finger to alleviate their suffering.

At the other end of the 19th Century socio-economic spectrum, is a family of seven, the Cratchits, with a disabled child and one head of household working for less than a livable wage.

“You, a clerk with a wife and family making 15 shillings a week…” That’s about $95 today.

In the end, Scrooge, played by the likes of Jack Palance, Cicely Tyson or Jim Backus as Mr. Magoo, is redeemed after an experience with those three infallible spirits; Christmas Past, Present and Future. Add to that the ghost of his long dead partner Jacob Marley, and he has his hands full of specters, all in one night.

This story could be told at any time of the year, in any country, any city, town or village.

The disparity between the rich and poor has never been more evident in the U.S., with the wealthy having more and more while the middle class slips ever closer towards poverty.

No longer can the younger generation claim to be better off than their parents.

Over a half million Americans are without stable, affordable, maintained housing. They’re homeless.

So, why so much ado about Christmas?

This, the time of the year that retailers begin planning for in, say January, while the official start of the season is on “Black Friday” (or Thanksgiving) followed by “Cyber Monday” and “Small Business Saturday.”

Interspersed throughout are the endless sales, discounts and daily specials encouraging all to buy, buy, buy and thus, contribute to the economy’s bottom line.

We wish each other “peace, happiness and prosperity.”

You see, it’s all about the spirit. The Christmas Spirit.

That’s the thing we try to capture with all the buying, preparing, wrapping and sharing.

We try to find the exact, unique gift for a loved one, something that will change theirs (and our) lives forever. Like a new Lexus or a Red Ryder BB gun.

We decorate our homes with the latest laser lights, an animated Santa, reindeer, the Grinch and all, in an effort to display our very best image of the season.

We give to charities, The Salvation Army, serve meals to the homeless, finally visit the neighbors.

The spirit and goodwill of the season seems to be without end.

That and year-end tax deductions help to fuel the charity.

Children are more excited at this time of year than perhaps any other, including summer vacation. They know exactly how many days and minutes are left to wait.

Christmas means new snow, new stuff and a week off from school.

As adults, we try to recapture that excitement, the anticipation, that feeling of Christmas that we might have lost or forgotten years ago.

It may be buried beneath layers of family, societal or personal pain. Rejected, addicted or jaded by life it can be hidden, but not denied.

At the end of the story, Scrooge, the Grinch, the population of “Whoville” and those in the “good old cities everywhere”, find the true meaning of Christmas, “The Spirit of Christmas.”

That spirit is in each of us, those who believe and those who do not.

It’s a gift we received over twenty centuries ago. That given by the birth of a single child.

We all have it. The one given by God through his son, Jesus Christ for the salvation of us all.

Go ahead, it’s yours, open it.

Merry Christmas!

 

Twelve Ways to Be Homeless for The Holidays

  • Be poor and working. It should go without saying. The sad fact is, low income families spend over 50% of their paycheck on housing and related expenses. Many become homeless due to a job loss, medical emergency or car repairs-something most of us deal with everyday without a second thought.
  • Be sick, either from a disability or mental illness. Many of the chronic homeless fall into this category. These are the shopping cart travelers most often portrayed as street people. They comprise less than 15% of the entire homeless population.
  • Have an addiction and struggling to overcome it. Most are young to middle aged men who have run out of resources or resolve.
  • Be young. Homeless children have become a growing concern, mainly because they don’t show up at shelters or, being underage are not eligible for services. They are often abused or on the street due to conflicts within the family.
  • Be in a family. Family homelessness, like that of individuals, can be the result of job loss, illness or some temporary situation that, with help, can be overcome.
  • Be a Veteran. As many as 50,000 Veterans are now on the streets, battling the physical and mental scars from multiple deployments and years of war.
  • Be middle aged-typically 50-64 who are not yet eligible for social security or Medicare. They fall through the cracks. Although relatively young, these folks age much faster and develop chronic illnesses more often than their age would suggest.
  • Be elderly. Over 65 without the resources for continuing care and unable to find affordable housing on their own.
  • Be a single parent. Usually a woman with young children. This presents perhaps the most vulnerable group, with the least available resources.
  • Live in the city. Homeless people tend to congregate in urban centers where resources are the most accessible.
  • Live in the country. The number of rural homeless is almost as high per capita as that in the cities-just not as visible.
  • Be a father, mother, brother, sister, single or married, with or without children. In other words, anyone at any time due to any number of circumstances can become homeless.

Over half a million of our friends, relatives and neighbors will be without a place to call home this Christmas.

The winter solstice marks the turning point in the earth’s pivot away from the sun in the northern hemisphere.

This leads us into the joyous Christmas Holiday, a New Year’s promise and ever lengthening days towards spring.

For the homeless, it’s just another long night.

‘The National Alliance to End Homelessness-Snapshot of Homelessness.’

 

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