Monthly Archives: March 2016

Fences and Fitzwallace


I made a deal with myself: in order to watch The West Wing, I have to be on the recumbent bike … and pedaling. years of fences

This morning, it was A Proportional Response, Charlie Young’s first appearance. Josh Lyman was reluctant to hire Charlie for one reason only: he didn’t want to give a critical world the impression that he was hiring an African-American to “wait on” the President.

Josh discussed his concern with his boss, Leo McGarry, who shared it with Admiral Percy Fitzwallace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At that very moment, Fitzwallace, an African-American officer, was orchestrating a sizable air strike in retaliation to terrorist activity. The President’s first military act. It was Wow!

The Admiral asked if Charlie would be making a fair wage and treated with respect. “Of course.”

Before leaving the room, Admiral Fitzwallace said: I got some real honest-to-god battles to fight… I don’t have time for the cosmetic ones.

I don’t have time for the cosmetic battles. The silliness. The ones that don’t matter. The battles that, if won or loss, make little or no difference in this life … or the next.

We witness these battles daily and my heart breaks a little more each time. Truth is blurred, misplaced or mixed up with lies. Or ignored altogether. Select “pet” issues are so important that the life-changing ones get pushed to the back of the line.

And, through it all, it’s more about being right than being kind. It is more about being heard than being loving.

Good golly, Miss Molly, the Admiral was right. We have got some real honest-to-God battles to fight. And, my Dear Ones, if we aren’t careful the wrong will prevail and right will fail.

For the most part, I make no public profession of political alignment, other than an occasional eye roll. And I’m betting long money that even my closest friends and relatives on both of the aisle would be a little surprised if they knew my bottom line. But this isn’t about who takes it all in November.

This is about our every day battles. The ones that divide and create years of fences with no gates. The mean-spirited tweets and posts. The bravado of anonymity.

It’s hard to ignore name-calling. And so easy to lash back.

So, how about we just don’t.

How about we spend real time on real issues that make a real difference in this life…and the next? Click it to Tweet it.

Share with us: What can you do?


J.T. and Uncle Doyne


In the dream, I was judging a baked-goods contest at our home in Plymouth, Wisconsin. There were two or three people who, although unnamed, I knew were famous. And, as they left, I was thanking them on behalf of someone for something. Very dreamlike and

I’m always quite positive that I’ll remember what I dream. However, it never fails: by the time I come back from the bathroom, it’s dust in the wind.

But this one I wrote down – at least as much as I could remember. And, as strange as that first part seemed, here’s the crazy…

I think Batman was hosting the baked goods contest. The crazier?

Batman turned into James Taylor. Good golly, Miss Molly!

But then it turned serious. And James Taylor, a younger J.T. with longer hair, asked me: Should I change my musical style?

He told me, right there in the kitchen with the big picture window, that many people were very vocal and mostly very harsh. I could see it was hard on him. We just stood there, chatting, leaning against the counters as if old friends who did this every day. As if he had just stopped by for a minute on his way somewhere more important. Very puzzling indeed…

In the real world, we’ve had some tough days. Tim’s Uncle Doyne died in February. He lived in the Phoenix area with Aunt Cindy – one of the sweetest people you’ll ever know. We gathered last Friday for his memorial, when I met his two daughters, two sisters, a nephew, two grandchildren, and a lot of people I’ll probably remember only by their hair and where they were sitting.

There aren’t enough words or time to tell you how fine he was. Doyne walked his talk – he was a strong Believer: a kind and devoted man with a servant’s heart. He could run a master’s class on Being a Husband and owned a prosperous business that he kept small on purpose. I challenge you to find one person that had a bad word to say.

Uncle Doyne served in Viet Nam. Agent orange. Death and chaos. Horrible conditions – the kind of horrible described as “causing or likely to cause horror.” I can’t even imagine.

He almost never spoke of the war. And when he did, it was only to find an example of good overcoming evil. Or something that he turned into humor.

When we talked to his sisters and a nephew at dinner one night, they told us amusing war stories he had shared. The soldiers’ reaction to an over-due shower. Or eating a long-awaited hot dinner – even if it was liver and onions. And I could hear Doyne’s voice as they spoke.

But I could barely smile.

And I think that’s why I told James Taylor about being a freshman at the University of Illinois when “Kent State” happened. That’s what we called it: Kent State – where National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd, killing four students who were protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in May, 1970. Colleges all over the country were disrupted classroom-824120_1280by the event. Classes were cancelled, protestors took to the streets. Families and friends were at odds.

And young girls who came from conservative, suburban homes stood on the U. of I. Quad, surrounded by Guardsmen called in to keep the peace – and curfew. Young girls who had not yet formed their own views about war, love, religion, or the future. Girls who almost missed what was happening in the world because we couldn’t see beyond the walls of Stratford House or the classroom.

In my dream, I told James Taylor that when Kent State happened, I was learning about life and listening to his music. I cried as I recalled the memories. Not to convince him to stay the same, but to let him know what he meant to our generation. How his songs linger, like our experiences and memories.

And he said it is important not to forget those times, even if we could.

And that was it. The dream didn’t really end. I just woke up. I woke up rattled but determined not to let that dream slip away.

As I wrote down what I remembered, I looked for a moral or lesson that I couldn’t find. I thought maybe it was all about changing, even when others are against it. Was is about me? Very puzzling indeed …

Then I heard about the attacks in Brussels.

Maybe there is no connection at all. I’ve never had a prophetic dream – and I’m pretty sure I never want to experience one.

But I keep thinking: It never really stops. We study history as a series of wars, skirmishes and police actions. We dissect the causes and influences of each one. We deliberate the structure and world-wide ramifications. We argue the merit of military decisions and strategies. This current horror is driven by ideology I cannot fathom. It strikes randomly across the world, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. But the horror of war is and always has been with us.

I thought my dream was about making changes and giving advice. And maybe someday it will be.

But today, it’s about remembering. And praying a lot. There are just too many soldiers and travelers, workers and party-goers whose lives are taken all because of evil in the world.