Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Do You Get What You Need?

Several years ago, I got a photo text from our daughter of a credit card dinner receipt with a hard-to-read signature. Her message read, "Guess who I just served?!"

I texted back, "Whose signature is this?"

She texted back, "Mick Jagger!" 

I immediately texted back, "Did you tell him that you grew up with your father singing 'You can't always get what you want' whenever you or your brother couldn't have the object of your desire?"
I saw her today at the reception 
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection

At her feet was footloose man 

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need 

I want that $60,000 fire-breathing, acoustic surround-sound, ego-boosting, testosterone fueled, head-turning all-wheel-drive king-of-the-road painted metallic midnight black that says, "Look at me, NOW!" I'd not only look
good sitting behind the wheel, but it would sound impressive when I tell people what I drive. Black Beauty could tow that weekend condo on wheels with the four HD flat screen TVs to some remote location far from the little people. Never mind the budget-busting price tag, yolo.  

What I need is to live below my means, under budget and not add to my stress. I need to reduce my carbon footprint and contribute to making spaceship earth a better place for tomorrow's child. I need to to clean up and tune up my 40 mpg four cylinder people mover. I need to use mass transit, carpool and connect with others more often. I need to unplug from the screens, get outdoors, hike with family and friends up off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna blow a 50-amp fuse" 

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need 

Many of the conflicts and crisis we are facing in the United States center around a conversation of "what I want" versus "what I need," as well as recognizing "what others need." 

I may want women raping, job-stealing, Satan-worshipping people from backward third-world dust-bowl sand-filled countries to go back to where they come from and stay behind the wall out of sight and out of mind. 

What I need to remember is my great-great grandparents were immigrants who came to this land to escape repression and try to create a better life. I need to seek to understand others who are not like me who want a piece of what I want and are willing to sacrifice to achieve it. I need to understand how we are more alike than different. I need to create and set a bigger table than build a taller wall. I need to walk-the-talk of what I believe as follower of Christ.

Have we lost our ability to care what others need? It's the Golden Rule. It's the second greatest commandment of the Christian faith.

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead"
I said to him 

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need

The way we make decisions for our wants is different from the decisions we make for our needs. Our decision making for our wants can lack logic, common sense, and compassionate thinking. Our wants decision making is usually short term and in the moment. Our wants may be tainted with greed. They can be selfish and inconsiderate of others. Many times our wants ignore or dismiss the self-discipline of delaying gratification, accepting responsibility, accepting truth is reality and creating balance in our lives.

The fact is we live in a consumer-driven, 'imitate this,' 'me first,' 'I want what I want, NOW!,' 'it's all about me!' society,
which fuels our wants. Personally, I know I can get caught up in stuff I want without accounting for so little amount of stuff I need!

What I really I need is more compassion and humility. I need to overcome my implicit bias. I need to ask more than I tell. I need to love more and fear less. Most of all, I need to be more grateful more often for what I'm blessed. To live into these needs is to Carrpe Diem! - seize the day!

Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten nailed it! Did we forget what we learned?

The main lessons we were taught in kindergarten:
- share everything
- play fair 
- don't hit people
- say you're sorry when you hurt somebody
- when you go out into the world ... hold hands ... stick together

You get what you need, yeah, oh baby 
I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands 

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

How do you feel after you get what you want? How soon do the endorphins wear off after you get what you want? How soon until the next shiny object of desire gets into your sights of want

Next time you have an urge for a want, push your pause button and ask what do you need. I want another beer, but I need to drive sober and I need to lose weight. I want that new best selling book. I need to read what is on my desk at home. I need to save money and I need to go the library.

What if we wanted what we needed?

If we are going to get back to what we need rather than what we want, it will require critical thinking, self-discipline, consideration of others and gratitude for what we already have.

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger
You Can't Always Get What You Want lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What Is Your Definition of Loyalty?

I grew up in a Boy Scout family. My grandfather and uncle were both professional executive scouters. My mother grew up in Boy Scout camp reservations. I visited Boy Scout camps in the summer before I was even a Cub Scout! I stayed in my grandfather's tent as a Cub Scout at the 6th National Boy Scout Jamboree, Valley Forge, PA in 1964.

I was a member of Troop 516, Centerville, OH, under Scoutmaster Larry Lemser and earned the rank of Eagle Scout as well as my God and Country award. I was a member of the Order of the Arrow. I worked at Woodland Trails Boy Scout Camp for two summers at the waterfront as a lifeguard and where I learned to sail. 

I attended the 7th National Boy Scout Jamboree, Farragut Park, Idaho, in 1969. Astronaut and Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong spoke to 35,000 of us from the moon!
David Carr, standing last row on the end at far right.
The Boy Scouts of America were my first teachers of leadership. As patrol leader and then senior patrol leader, I not only learned but lived the principles of scouting including to put others first and serve others above my self-interest.

Old scout joke that speaks truth: What’s the difference between government and the Boy Scouts? The Boy Scouts have adult leadership.

The Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
The Boy Scout slogan: Do a good turn daily.
The Boy Scout Oath (three promises): On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
The Boy Scout Law: A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Clean and Reverent.

If you walked into my office, you'd see a shadowbox frame—Christmas gift from my mother—with my God and Country award and a shadow of where my Eagle Scout award used to be. (I sent my Eagle Award back to the Boy Scouts of America in July 2012. Read my blog, "Dear Mr. Mazzuca," to understand why.) I am still an Eagle Scout in body, mind and heart. I still live the motto, believe in the slogan, try to keep the three promises and try to live the law. All have served me well, especially in my adult life. They all sync with my core beliefs of Micah 6:8.

Last night, the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America spoke to 30,000 scouts gathered for the 19th National Boy Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia. I cringed at all the wildly inappropriate un-Boy Scout remarks he made. Some called it a "rampaging id." Most of all, he failed to understand the Boy Scout law when he told the assembly:

“As the Scout Law says: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal’—we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,” Trump said, and paused there. The assembled scouts shouted the rest of it for him: “… helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

This POTUS, does not understand the definition of loyalty as prescribed by the Boy Scout Law. His definition of loyalty is something owed to him. The Boy Scouts of America require loyalty to God and Country, not to an individual. By living the Boy Scout Law, you serve God and Country by living the principles. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions acted correctly by recusing himself from the Russian probe. Now he is the scorn of the president for being "unloyal" to him and being loyal to our country's principles, its Declaration of Independence, its Constitution of the United States and its laws

This is the president who told James Comey, “I expect loyalty.” What this president failed to realize is that Comey is rightfully loyal to God and this country first, including its principles, its Declaration of Independence, its Constitution of the United States and its laws. 

The POTUS' recent discussions with his lawyers about the ability to pardon himself and his family members is prime evidence this president is loyal only to himself and not the office he holds or the country he serves. What a difference it would be if POTUS was truly a Boy Scout and lived the Boy Scout principles!

Side note: President Nixon did not come and speak to our Jamboree.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Care to Join Me?

For the last several years, I have been exploring race, prejudice, privilege, bias, and my role and assumptions in all of that. My reading list has included Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, Jim Wallis' America's Original Sin, Reverend Dr. William Barber's The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of the New Justice Movement, Bill Bishop's The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart, and Robert Jone's The End of White Christian America. But of all my reading, no book has touched me more personally or more deeply than Debby Irving's Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

OMG! Let me say it again, OMG!

Born in 1960, the youngest of five children, Debby Irving grew up in an upper middle class home in New England. 

Irving began unpacking her white upbringing in 2009 when she took the class, "Racial and Cultural Identity" at Wheelock College, Boston, MA for her master's degree in special education. Rather than being given tips on how to teach "other" races and cultures, she writes, "the course asked me to turn the lens on myself ... and what I found shocked me." (page 30)

As a fellow baby boomer, I can relate to her story, growing up in a white home, in white suburbia, attending predominately white schools including a predominately white college. Even though the city I grew up in was 52% white, at the downtown church we regularly attended, everyone looked like us. Going into a restaurant, we'd see other patrons who matched our skin. We belonged to a summer swim club whose members were all fair skinned. Phil and Jerry's Foodarama grocery store was as white as the vanilla ice cream they sold. The closest black friend I had growing up was Clarence Bowman with whom I worked at Boy Scout camp two summers.

I, like Irving, was gifted with "tailwinds" which is something the "other" had a major shortage. My father had a friend who got me a college summer job. My father knew the banker who made getting my college loans a snap. Buying my first new car wasn't a hassle due to "tailwinds." My first home mortgage was easy peasy due to connections. Irving's culture, as well as mine, was made up of "distorted beliefs, filtering, missing information and selective inattention which fueled self-fulfilling and self-perpetuating cycle of outcomes." (page 63)

Irving, like me and perhaps you, may wonder, if the cards are stacked against those who can't get into the "melting pot" including Blacks, Chinese, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and gays, how do you explain Tiger Woods, Oprah, I.M. Pei, Yo-Yo Ma, Ricky Martin, George Lopez and Ellen Degeneres? The invisible belief system doesn't make achievement impossible but it does make it exponentially harder. Averages, not outliers tell the story. (page 60) Here are some facts that begin to peel the onion on the divide in our country causing the "other" to have had it harder to live the American dream. It has not been a level playing field.

Did you know that over one million black GI's who served in WWII were excluded from the GI Bill? (page 33) The GI Bill paid for my father's college education allowing him to get a good paying corporate job after college.

Did you know that between 1934 and 1962, the Federal Government underwrote $120 billion in new housing and that less than 2% went to people of color? (page 35) In 1959, FHA allowed my family of four to move into a nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch home with a nice big yard in a wonderful neighborhood within easy walking distance of my elementary school and an easy work commute for my father.

There are 45 short chapters to Waking Up White in which Irving focuses or shares a personal discovery related to the "other." At the end of each chapter, she asks a powerful question about how you relate to what she has written. It is an invitation for you to explore your own "wake-up call" and look at yourself in the mirror. 

How would you answer the question at the end of chapter 9, White Superiority - How white people decided white people were the best people of all: Prior to reading this chapter, what did you know about the history of naming the races? How do you feel about the term "Caucasian"? (page 45)

How would you answer the question at the end of chapter 15, The Whole Story - The effect of swallowing one-sided stories: Think of a historical event in American history, perhaps the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the arrival of the Statue of Liberty or any one of the wars Americans have fought. Where have you learned what you know about this event? Whose perspective did you learn? If you went in search of a fuller story, whose viewpoint would you seek? (page 85)

How would you answer the question at the end of chapter 17, My Good People - How it was possible that I was both a "good-person" and utterly clueless: How would you complete this sentence? I never thought I could perpetuate racism because I am _______________________, and I believe _________________. (page 99)

This is a hard, revealing, informative book for this white baby boomer male to read. It is was a gift to discover this book and use it for my own personal growth and development. If you go to Irving's website, you will find resources to help you discuss this book and its topics with others.

Lynn Watts
Irving points out, that white people tend to engage black people with an attitude of "I don't see race." Turns out that is about as racist as it gets. One of the most important women in my life besides my wife, daughter and sister is Lynn Watts. After reading Waking Up White, I spoke with Lynn and I apologized! Irving brought to my attention we white people tend to engage black people and ask them to teach us about their alternative universe. I know I've asked Lynn to explain my aversion and social discomfort rather than do the heavy lifting. I know I've asked Lynn to help me see what I not only could not see, but maybe what I didn't want to see. I recognize that as much as I say I embrace the Golden Rule, I haven't always walked my talk with the "other." Since our friendship began back in 2003, Lynn has been patient and given me grace in my "awaking."

If you are willing to own your ignorance of the "other," the final chapter, Tell Me What To Do! offers ideas and behaviors on how each of us can turn the tide against racism including: learn, engage, donate, spur racial awareness and education, take a course.

The one thing I know I will not do is to feel guilt or shame for being a white baby boomer male. Those feelings and behaviors do nothing to change course and get in the way of being a better human being. I know I need to use my white, male, Christian, heterosexual privilege to help those who do not have these privileges. Care to join me?