Eternal Vigilance and the Wild Child

What has become of our language? Looking back in history, we find words that ring with Celestial Power. Take for instance ‘Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.’ No politician today could get away with such a well coifed phrase.

A great sentiment; ‘Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.’  It is often falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

         See how these seven words unfurl a whole raft of associations, meanings and contemplations.

First: Who are these culprits lurking out there ready to rob me/us of my/our liberty; are these enemies of liberty foreign, domestic or both?

What vigilance should I/we exercise? Should preemptive strikes, anti-profiteering precautions, and situation appropriate paranoia be precluded from my/our retinue of responses?

No, I decide as I settle down, as I contemplate the root source of this phrase, the enemy, dear friends lurks closer to home. I refer to (is this too polite a term?) The inner child.

Now perhaps inner child is too polite a term to describe this character. It certainly does no favor to childhood to describe this phenomenon as ‘inner child.’ Could I better call it the id monster, the devil on (my/our) left shoulder or oh; Maybe ‘wild child’ is as good a term as any to describe what I am talking about.

Call it by what name you will, here are some examples of near misses, encounters I have had where had ‘my wild child’ been given free reign, life would not be as rosy for me.

Way back when I got hired for my first professional job, there I sat with the HR man. He was indeed hiring, for not just one, but three positions, one of which was in Portland Oregon, where I now life. At the close of the interview, he said he’d get back to me by Friday. That being Tuesday, when 3:00 PM Thursday afternoon rolled along and I hadn’t heard from the HR guy, I called. His secretary said ‘Plane tickets for that Sunday were sitting on his desk. She suggested I’d best hustle on over and pick them up. If I’d listened to my inner I might still be waiting for that call back, right? Some may think my call back was a no brainer, but believe it or not, some people have a hard time with this lesson; No one will ever take as keen an interest in your career as you do. Always have an action plan; no matter how much confidence your wild child has in the benevolence of the universe, Eternal Vigilance is required if we are to earn a living or enjoy our liberty.

Later in life, my vigilance becomes more keen:

At some point, I left that first job. I had $10,000 sitting in my 401K. It was August 1987. I opened up an IRA and placed a buy order for a stock I liked; Berkshire Hathaway. At the time, the chart said the value of a share bounced between 10,000 and 12,000. But I only had 10. So I placed my order at 9700 so even I could afford it. Wouldn’t you know it, several weeks later black Monday, October 19, 1987 came along. The broker even called me to see if I still wanted him to honor my order? What? Was he allowing me possibility to lower my bid? Had the market gone lower? No. Was it an ‘out’ to cancel my order? How easy it would have been to listen to my wild child and do just that: cancel the order. “No,” I said. “Please execute the order.” That share is worth $120,000 today.

Another example of eternal vigilance, of being alert to the false map of reality, of situations where the wild child could mislead, misrepresent and sabotage our plans.

More recently, OK, it may’ve been 15 years ago, I got a call. “Hello,” the caller said. “I’m not sure if I have the right number. I’m looking for Ted Magnuson, the author.” I hadn’t published anything at the time. Was the caller putting me on? How my wild child preened for repartee. “Is that you Richard? You trying to get a rise out of me?” Or worse; “Yeah, it’s me, I’ve got five freaking books on the New York Times bestseller list. What are you selling?”

But no, thanks to years of adult style disciple, thanks to years of practicing eternal vigilance, I simply said “speaking.”

I got offered to do a book deal.

In these three simple examples, my wild child could have disrupted my life had he been given the run of the place. Am I alone in this? How many of us have a wild child? Worse, how many of us have a wild side and don’t even know it? And so I pose a question to you. When such occasions occur, in our own lives and the lives of those around us, who is in the driver’s seat? The wild child or the director? Oh, the wild child may be entertaining. And yes, they do need their space to romp but when it comes time to do some business; we all need to be alert, we all need to make sure the director is on duty or at least on the scene.

I suspect that were more wild children better educated many of the problems now afflicting the world would be much closer to being solved.

         If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

Ted Magnuson’s audio CD Those Self Evident Truths,’ captures more words that ring with Celestial Power, 1215-1865.

I hate health clubs- It’s all in what we bring to the game.

One of the things I hate about going to health clubs is these guys that put a towel on one bench, a water bottle on another and then maybe place their keys someplace else marking their territory so no one else can use the stuff. After they so lay claim to all this equipment, what do they do? They stand someplace else complaining to another athlete about how they strained their shoulders from pressing too much weight the day before. Then, while rubbing their elbows and scratching their bellies, they compare notes on what electrolyte they drink what muscle groups they plan to work on that day. Is that the reason why America is obese–Athletes unwilling to share the equipment?
So anyway, there I am at the health club. I wear my Oregon State t-shirt, got my OSU Beaver team mascot water bottle, and my OSU towel. I’m searching for a therapy ball that doesn’t have a towel on it, or a water bottle leaning against it or is otherwise marked or in use. Believe me, I’m about ready to buy one of those home gym specials for only three payments of $29.99 plus S&H.
Fortunately for my three year membership contract, I find a semi-deflated therapy ball. I do my 15 reps or repetitions. But at rep 5 who should show up but Leroy. A big man with hairy biceps, dragging his knuckles on the ground, Leroy looks down at me, taps my ball with his foot. He says “Dat’s my ball.”
What do you think, fellow athletes? Is it his ball? Is Leroy going to share? Is he running into the equipment shortage too?
No way was it his ball.  “Look,” I tell Leroy, continuing my reps. “It’s gym property. Get your own ball. I got six more reps with this one.”
You won’t believe this, but Leroy grabbed the ball out from under me on rep 13 of 15.

“Hey,” I said. “Watch it, big man. Where do you think you are? Can’t you see we’re all in this together, for the sake of health and longevity?”
“Huh?” Leroy says.
I take this to mean he didn’t hear me. So I tell him loud and clear. “I said you’re a big man with a big mouth. I got two more reps coming to me. Give me back my ball.”
He frowned at me and walked away with the ball. Believe you and me, I decided right then and there, I would not give him the time of day! Which was all very well and fine, except on my way back to the locker room, who should be blocking my way, but Leroy.

When I attempt to step around him, he pushes me against the wall. He says, “Hey, about what happened over there, I’m sorry for my behavior.”
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.
He points at my t-shirt. He says “You see I’m University of Oregon and when we Ducks see beaver tack we get swamp fever.” <<Editors note: Oregon and Oregon State share an intense local rivalry>>.
We shake hands. We’re reconciled. It’s no longer a confrontation; it’s a college prank.

The next time I go to the gym, I don’t wear my OSU tee shirt, I don’t bring my OSU water bottle. Lo and behold, the equipment is much more open! Guess my clothes colored the way the gym looked to me!

What about the North Korean Escapees? How do they cope with the changes in South Korea?

Trouble keeping up with the changes in the modern world?

Take a walk in the shoes of North Koreans who travel south

until they are breathing free.  In the Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2010

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2010/0805/North-Korean-refugees-adapt-to-life-school-and-prejudice-in-South-Korea

Christmas at the White House

God is not dead

While it may delight scholars like Christopher Hitchens to throw brickbats at Christmas, some of his information is more a reflection of his agenda then a reflection of mainstream (common) Christian practice.
1) Christmas does not celebrate the birth of a ‘Miraculous Baby.’ It is a celebration of ‘the Godhead appearing in human form.’
2) As a nation founded in large part as a refuge for persecuted Christians, Americans need not look to the Quoran for proof ‘Mary mothered a prophet.’

We read in Luke 1:46-55 where Mary herself says:
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.’ RSV

Note also Mary’s commonness. She refers to herself as a ‘lowly handmaiden,’ much as Michelle Obama refers to the White House as ‘the People’s House.’ By all means, the midwinter celebration of common people should be celebrated in the ‘the People’s House.’ It is not an accommodation to the President. Indeed, has there ever been a President of the United States who said ‘God is dead?

Christianity is a religion of the people. It makes no claim to exclusivity. Over the years, as new adherents were welcomed to the faith various trappings have been added to the celebration of Christmas. There were no carols or Christmas trees in Bethlehem in the year ‘0.’ Indeed, there was no year zero. But more on that later. Christmas trees were added by the tribes of Europe as Christianity spread there. Evergreen Trees…Evergreens/Eternal Life/Get it? It is a bit of a reach, I know, but go for it. There is a metaphor in there somewhere that makes a kind of statement on how life goes on, despite famines, wars, crime, the storms of winters and…ad infinitum.
To confront the disasters of life, some people may rely on ego defense mechanisms; others practice faith, such as Christianity preaches.
So; who says when it is Christmas? –I agree completely with Mr. Hitchens and his adherents. No one knows the exact date The Christ was born. According to the Gospel accounts of ‘shepherds in the fields,’ theologian William Barclay speculates it was likely spring–when the shepherds stood guard over the baby lambs. Attacks from predators necessitated the additional protection. This again demonstrates the flexibility of Christianity meeting the needs of common people. The Christmas celebration was established in mid winter as this is a time when people are more often in a more reflective frame of mind, as they tightened their belts, planned their futures and engaged in other such chores as are appropriate to Christmas. In the old days, in the spring, folks were too busy planting crops (and guarding lambs).

We really should explore the question of ‘When is it Christmas’ much deeper? There actually is no year ‘zero. There is only a year 1 BC and a year 1 AD. But no year zero. The Julian Calendar was not even established until 525 AD, about 100 years after the fall of Rome. The concept was simple. Basing our calendar on the birth of Jesus, the eternal king, allowed everyone to use common series of years.

Prior to this uniformity, people might say ‘in the 23rd year of the reign of King John,’ or ‘in the year King Uzziah died.’
I am however, not so rigid a Christian thinker as to NOT believe that at some future time (whether it be 500 or 5,000 years from now) some other Great Event may occur that utterly changes how we common people synchronize our calendars. I will only say this. Whatever that future event might be, it will have to be really BIG to beat Christmas.

The Day Trickle Down Economics Began

Nixon guard hatsFor those who’ve just joined the passing scene, or for those who’d like a recap as we face the latest downward spiral of the economy and civilization as we know it, a quick survey of recent years may be useful. Once we take a quick spin through the past 40 years, I’d like to dig deeper into this archeological construct we call government back to the very foundations of democracy itself.
Hold on, we’ll move fast.
Some time ago, it was the 1970’s. Richard Nixon gave the US Presidency a certain Imperial sheen. This was exemplified by outfitting the White House Guards in high peaked hats and tunics. Very chic, very continental. But the European style didn’t sit well with opinion makers or Americans at large, and so it was dropped. Indeed, King Richard the Nixon himself was unceremoniously dropped from office for a serious breach of etiquette, whether real or imagined. Some go so far as to say he was framed, never having ordered the Watergate break-ins in the first place, but nevertheless, eager to cover it up nonetheless. —as to the truth of such a tale, I can only refer the reader to The Bush Dynasty by …..
There seems to be a pattern here for our Presidents. They are given a big job to do, and for the most part, they are criticized and condemned for it. Jimmy Carter gave the office of the president a folksy spin by addressing the TV audience in a cardigan sweater, and placing solar panels on the White House roof, urging everyone to turn down their thermostats. Speed limits on the Instertant Highway system were reduced to 55-double nickel, to conserve fuel. It seemed to hobble the whole idea of America the Beautiful, which was taken down a further notch when 52 Americans were held hostage in Iran for 444 days.
Ronald Reagan took the helm in 1981, the hostages were released thanks to numerous pressures faced by Iran such as the Iran/Iraq war, the freezing of Iranian assets in America and the diplomatic efforts of Carter’s Deputy Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. One thing that can be said about Reagan is he knew how to stand up to the media. He gave the country a great psychological boost, though what he did for the economy may not be quite so illustrious. Reagon tore down Carter’s solar panels. He said “America is great. We don’t need no stinking reduction in Highway Speed limits or constraints of the burning of fossil fuels, just because the price of fuel has tripled in the last ten years.
He went on to be a great statesman President, one who quipped “Let’s reduce taxes on the wealthy, so they can invest all the additional money they don’t pay in taxes. They could build anti-ballistic missiles with this additionally repatriated money. …and we could build eight star luxury hotels to show our appreciation for all their hard work and contributions to society. What’s good for the top 5% of the population is good for everyone, as they are good tippers.” OK, OK, Ronald Reagan didn’t really say it quite like that, but anyway the theory is called trickledown economics.
Actually, I’m not sure where the trickling really starts or what it is that is being trickled. It seems like every chief executive of the United States has been ‘trickled on’ by a bumper crop in “Impeach X” where “X” stands for the seated head of state.
So enough with humor. Let us look at the interaction of the classes in a democratic society. Modern democracies can trace their lineage back to monarchies. The evolution of monarchies into democracies began about this time of year. It was June 15th, 1215 when King John signed the Magna Carta. This year marks the 794th anniversary of that signing. The Magna Carta wasn’t the first time constraints were placed on the British Monarch by his or her Aristocracy, but it was the first time that someone took the trouble to gather up all the various agreements and practices that had existed previously and codified them into the Magna Carta. Some will argue that the Barons who met with King John at Runnymede Meadow were just watching out for their won backsides. True, to a degree. Actually, they were more looking out for their families. Rights of inheritance were a major issue in the agreement.
However, Edward Coke, 17th century jurist and Member of Parliament, known to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, argued what was actually at stake was The Law; no one, not even the King is above the law. This is powerful stuff. It led to the English Petition of Rights. So again, we might ask ourselves, when it comes to ‘trickle down economics,’ what is trickling down on whom? That is the challenge that governments are supposed to be set up to answer.