Writing as Therapy

One family member and a couple of friends recently asked why I persist with writing this blog.  A couple of answers come to mind, none of which provide a complete and thorough answer.  I’ll just point out that rather than start a new career in the art of parading around with signs that impart such wisdom as “Most Drivers Have No Idea How To Drive,” “Politicians Are Crazier Than I Am,” or “Due To Religious Beliefs I Am No Longer Paying Taxes,” I choose to vent on this thing called a blog.

Writing is a lonely exercise, but it does allow one to say one’s piece without interference or criticism or accusations of political incorrectness (all that comes later, when someone actually reads what I write….).  Another reasons I write.

Today, in addition to attempting to reveal why I write, I offer two  observations that practically forced my booty into the chair.

First, an article titled: “Putin’s On-Air Army; The global news network RT is the Kremlin’s main weapon in an intensifying information was with the West,” Simon Schuster/Moscow, TIME, March 16, 2015, page 48.

RT (Russia Today) is a state-funded television propaganda and spin machine that reaches 700 million people in English, Spanish, and Arabic.  It generates more YouTube alternate reality showing “…Russia as victim and the West as villain.”  (Note that the initials “RT” are much easier to remember as a Russian television network and less confusing for English speakers than “PS,” which would be the initials of Russia Today in Russian Cyrillic.  Remember those sweatshirts with CCCP on them?  Those were the Russian Cyrillic letters that in English would have been USSR.)

On a Ukrainian talk show eight months before he was murdered, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov opposed firing up Western counterpropaganda.  “You can’t do what Putin does, calling journalists to the Kremlin and giving them orders.”

“For now,” Schuster concludes, “the West seems likely to stick to its journalistic traditions – and trust the viewers to decide.”

“We have met the enemy and his is us.” – Pogo (an old comic strip, in case any young-uns read this).

My other thought comes from a classic book: The True Believer – Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, 1951, Eric Hoffer (1898-1983).  When Kennedy was President Eric Hoffer was widely known as “the longshoreman philosopher.”


From The True Believer:

“Those who would transform a nation or the world cannot do so by breeding and captaining discontent or by demonstrating the reasonableness and desirability of the intended changes or by coercing people into a new way of life.  The must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope.  It matters not whether it be hope of a heavenly kingdom, of heaven on earth, of plunder and untold riches, of fabulous achievement or world dominion.  If the Communists win Europe and a large part of the world, it will not be because they know how to stir up discontent or how to infect people with hatred, but because they know how to preach hope.”

Still searching for any message of hope over in the Mideast.


Pete Hampton: Still With Me

One of the best results of writing this blog is that I often hear from readers.  And since writing is a lonely job, I must admit to enjoying every response; good, not so good, critique, every response.  And what a joy it is to hear from family (some of whom I didn’t even know), former students, and friends and co-workers I’ve lost touch with,

Speaking of hearing from readers, I had occasion to have dinner recently in Chicago with one of my oldest friend’s widow and her children and their spouses.  I met Pete Hampton during our Air Force service.  We were part of each other’s wedding parties (Pete was my best man).  Pete and Lynn were godparents for one of my children.  At the dinner a toast was made by Pete’s grown children to Grady Mollahan, a character in my book that was based on Pete, so much so that anyone who knew us, certainly our families, would recognize that Grady was Pete.
Pete died as a result of an auto accident years ago and I miss him still.  To have his children raise their glasses in a toast to words I wrote, words that had the effect of bringing back memories of their Dad – well – I think I concealed my reaction, but that toast to Pete as Grady was a two-Kleenex event for me.
I think of you often, Pete.  You’re still with me.


Eleven Year-Old Soldier By Vision

Wow. Magnificent.  Check out the tribute this young man pays to veterans of D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The war of my youth, when the enemy was known and the battle lines drawn.
How many times as a kid did I wish I’d been born sooner, to take part in that struggle. First there were the movies depicting the appeal, the “romance” of war, with John Wayne, and Jimmy Stewart, and Jeff Chandler.
And then how many times when I was older did I realize how lucky I was to be a veteran of the Cold War, in the USAF between Korea and Viet Nam, and never coming close to any combat. The movies then were “Schindler’s List,” “The Longest Day,” and, worst of all, “Saving Private Ryan.” What a wake-up call!
Life has a way of making a lot of our decisions without checking with us first, without our participation…..
Great story.

Our Legal System: Too Slow?

Friends who know I have some experience in law enforcement and court management often ask why it takes so long to reach a guilty verdict for defendants we know are guilty.  Some, like the Boston Marathon creep, even admit they did it and it still takes months to get to a result.  Why?

I know why, and I could probably even explain why, but although I know and for the most part understand why, I don’t like even thinking about it in cases like the Boston Marathon creep, that Army major who murdered all those people at Ft. Hood, or the guy in trial now in Raleigh whose defense is he only meant to kill himself and not the lovely young woman and wife of his childhood friend.

In “People of the Lie, The Hope for Healing Human Evil,” (M. Scott Peck, 1983, Simon and Schuster), the author demonstrates by examples from his practice as a psychiatrist that evil does exist.  Does anybody think that murder is not evil, that taking another life (or lives) can only be done by someone with a screw loose or a crossed wire in the brain?

I admit to being an energetic and avid M. Scott Peck fan.  His “The Road Less Travelled,” first given to me by a friend of many years when I was going through one of life’s rough patches, has influenced me greatly to this day.  So when Dr. Peck writes about the existence of evil and backs it up with actual behavioral examples, I accept that there is evil.

What to do about it is a whole other problem, and it’s a good thing I’m not in total control of what should happen to evil-doers because my methods would be way too close to those awful depictions of hell in those huge paintings from centuries past.

That it takes so much time to get the evil-doers to hell is annoying and frustrating, that it’s too slow.

But I still consider it the best there is.