Children

My teaching career of 30 years put me front of children from 5-18.  I am sure they taught me more than I taught them. Raising three daughters brings me to these comments regarding….
“things I should have done, but didn’t” and
“things I did but shouldn’t have.” 

Here are some lessons you might find helpful.

The quickies:

You are a potter; they are the clay.
They are hatchlings; you much teach them how to fly.
They are birds; you much teach them how to find food.
They are flying away; you must teach them to protect themselves against predators.
They will be parents; you must show them and teach them how to be good parents.
You are their life coach; you must teach them to respect themselves and others.
You are their pharmacist; you must teach them about good and bad drugs.
You are their boss; you must teach them about authority and hard work.
You are their counselor; you must teach them how to understand and express emotion.
You are their doctor; you must teach them about their body and sexuality.
You are their teacher; you must teach them how to love learning.
You are their police; you must teach them to respect the law.
You are their defense attorney; you must advocate for them for the rest of your life.
You are their mom or dad; you must show that you love them every day.
You are their pastor/priest; you must pray for them, teach them to forgive themselves and others, and teach them about God.

Things I should have done but didn’t:

  • Been more involved with their education.
  • Taken more vacations to show them the world.
  • Listened more, talked less.
  • Spent more time with them.
  • Taught them a skill.
  • Saved money for their college education.
  • Been a better model of what a man and a father should be.
  • Taught them about money.

Things I did which I shouldn’t have done:

  • Taken them for granted.
  • Expected my wife to raise them.
  • Spent too much focus on a challenged child.
  • Consumed with my work more than them.
  • Expected them to grow up and be okay by default.

Recreation/Entertainment (R&E)

Have some candy, have some more, it’s okay, take more. Now change “candy” into “recreation / or entertainment.” Life without fun is, well, no fun. Goofing off or doing something just because we really enjoy it is so much a necessary part of our lives. Fun keeps us healthy, keeps us connected with friends and family, and reminds us that we are human.

My best friend in high school told me, “work hard and play hard but not at the same time.” R&E is a way to escape from the responsibilities and routines of our everyday lives. Think of it as a way, it is a way to take a deep breath, smile, and laugh.

Here are some quick notes about R&E.

Focus on a few activities that you really enjoy. Variety will keep them fresh.

Try to avoid a “buffet” approach where you nibble at many different activities but never become a real connoisseur of anything.

If it becomes boring, tedious, or too expensive, move on.

It’s like eating your absolute favorite food so much you loose your taste for it.

Keep the priorities in line.

R&E is like dessert, not the main course in your life. To much fun time can damage your family, your job, your finances, and even your health.

Have fun with others.

There are some activities we can do alone but fun is more fun with family or friends. Fun is the perfect way to grow and maintain social connections.

Measure the risk.

Some active kinds of fun can be dangerous. Don’t be stupid. Know your abilities and push them to the edge but a life long disability can bring all your fun to a screeching halt, especially if your dead. Always be sober when you are being dangerous.

Don’t get hooked.

Having fun kicks in the endorphins and can become an obsessive addiction. Listen to your family and friends. If they send out some warning signals about spending too much time and money on your fun, you may need to put it on hold for a while, or forever. Enjoy the “candy” but don’t be a fun junkie.

Religion

I have been involved in religion all my life. As a senior now and with a formal education in religious studies my perspective on religion has wandered through everything from skepticism bordering on atheism to pastoring a local congregation. I’m left with these few observations.

Religions are temporary, manmade organizations brought and held together by their particular set of doctrines. These doctrines are derived from four sources of authority: a collection of holy books, cultural pressures, teachings by prophets, and traditions endorsed by the particular group. The diversity of these doctrines has resulted in conflict, prejudice and even violence through the centuries. Sadly, this diversity and conflict has led to skepticism and rejection of religion by most of the modern world. Rather than uniting under the banner of godly living and compassion, the religions have built walls between them, resulting in a feudal turf war for exclusive access to God. Followers of a sect are held to a near fanatical loyalty to their teachings and practices. It is a form of intellectual and cultural bondage.

There is another choice regarding religion, a personal value which is deeper than the more visible religious tapestry. Individual faith in God and corporate religion are not the same. Most religions teach that God is about love and challenges believers to live lives that reflect compassion for all humanity and temperance in our lifestyle. Also, we learn that there is a life after death, an eternal reality beyond this short span of our mortality. It is important that we participate in a local community of believers. There we will find friendship, support, and guidance in our spiritual growth. However, going to church, synagogue, or a mosque will not make you a person of faith any more than going in a garage will make you a car. Faith is personal and an intimate connection to the eternal which cannot be replaced by religious activity. To find God and faith we must look for and find it ourselves. Religion can provide resources to help in that search, but religion is not the God we search. It is important not to confuse them.

To counter my own critique, I would offer the following praise of religion. When we study the origins of nearly all disciplines, we find that it was driven by devout believers. Music, literature, art, architecture, government, education, medicine, science and so many more have provided the foundations of our modern world. The sacrificial contributions made by these men and women is immeasurable. Also, when we compare the humanitarian service provided by various organizations, we find that it is religious organizations have always responded first, longest, and most generously when crises arise. Those driven by faith have fed and housed the homeless, helped those struggling with addictions, provided infrastructure and medical facilities and staff to developing communities and so much more. Yes, religions have earned their share of criticism, but we must also acknowledge their life saving activity throughout history.

Personally, my faith has given me wisdom, guidance, hope and peace through the years. Believers often refer to each other as “brothers and sisters.” People of faith offer a caring community where individuals and families can learn and thrive together in love. There is no other social system in existence which offers what religious communities have to offer. Faith is the most valuable gift you can give yourself and your family.

The Shepherd and the Soldier

By M. M. Moore

The story of David, a faithful young lad
Will help us rejoice and all feel glad.
Our story begins with a priest named Samuel,
A man who listened to G-d.
“Go talk to a man named Jesse,” G-d said,
So Samuel went off with his rod.

“Find me a king among his eight sons.
Be quick now and let’s get this done.
I want a new leader who’ll walk close to me.
There’s one that I will appoint.”
So seven sons came before Samuel that day,
But none did Samuel appoint.

“Is this all the sons you have?” Samuel asked.
“There must be one more to finish my task.”
“Another is out in the field with the sheep.”
So they sent for Jesse’s young boy.
The Lord said to Samuel, “now this is the one,
Go forward and anoint him with oil.”

Young David had spent many nights with the sheep
Defending their lives without too much sleep.
The Lord knew that David had become very brave,
Compassionate, wise, and true.
“He’ll honor my Name without any shame
And follow my leading through.”

But trouble was brewing in David’s homeland.
The Philistines came with many demands.
“Surrender your land or we’ll kill everyone
And take all your cattle too.”
Israel trembled and went to the king
But he didn’t know quite what to do.

Israel was proud and always compliant
To fight with anyone, except with a giant.
He was so strong and armed with huge weapons.
He stood over nine feet tall.
Even the tallest of Israel’s men
To Goliath would look very small.

Each morning at dawn they’d stand face to face.
The giant would step out and yell his disgrace.
But one day when David had come with supplies
He asked what was going on.
“Who is this bellowing Philistine
That he should defy our G-d?”

At first they all laughed, but then told the king
That David would fight with only a sling.
Saul thought it foolhardy but sent for the lad
To set young David straight.
“He’s seasoned in war and eager for blood,
You’ll only make him irate.”

But David explained to his well honored king
That fighting with giants was not a new thing.
“Lions and bears would come on my flock,
And me, not owning a sword,
I learned how to wrestle and fight with those beasts
But more than that, trust in the Lord.”

Saul was convinced and giving his blessing
Gave David his shield and started him dressing.
A helmet, a sword, and a big coat of armor,
So heavy they made David groan,
We’re traded at last for his own woven clothes,
His staff and some well-chosen stones.

The army stood speechless with fear on their face
As David walked forward and prayed for G-d’s grace.
He thought of his friends, his mother, his bed,
As he made his way down to the place
Where Goliath seemed monstrous and sweaty and mad
As they stood there face to face.

“You think I’m a dog?” the mighty man screamed.
And David looked helpless or so it seemed.
“I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air
And take your staff and your stones.
Your G-d is a joke, he must be asleep,
I’ll let him bury your bones.”

This made David angry that Goliath would say
Such terrible things to his G-d that way.
So David screamed back at the top of his lungs,
“You come to me with weapons in hand,
But I come to you in the name of the Lord
And by his power I stand.”

The giant was furious and stomped on the ground.
He threw down his shield with and ear-splitting sound.
David stood like a rock and used the time wisely
To pick out his very best stone.
He knew that the day would belong to the Lord
As soon as his nugget was thrown.

The Philistine charged to tear David apart
As the Israelites watched with a fainting heart.
But David had learned his craft very well.
His arm was steady and true.
He sent the rock flying with a powerful force,
And prayed once again as it flew.

The sun seemed to stop in its path through the sky
As and angel filled heaven looked down from on high
To watch David fight with his life on the line
Defending the name of the Lord,
Waiting as victory hung in the balance
Before the Philistine hoard.

The shepherd and soldier were twelve feet apart
When David’s small weapon fell square on its mark.
The Philistine roared as the rock hit is head
And brought him down hard to his knees.
He stood to his feet for a second attack
But fell face down in defeat.

“Give glory to G-d!” all Israel shouted,
And wondered how they could ever have doubted.
They chased the Philistines back to their town
Until it was almost eve.
Returning, they sang great song to the Lord
For again they learned to believe.

We all have our giants, within and without.
They seem so enormous and tempt us to doubt.
But small as our weapons oft seem to be
With impossible odds before us,
It is through our G-d, the Kings of all kings
That we shall stand victorious.

Faces

Reflections of a Marriage Counselor

Okay, I admit it, I’m addicted.
So what, I can’t help it.  They are everywhere.
Faces, faces, and endless river of faces
Flowing through my days like a holiday parade.
Cameos and gargoyles, hunters and victims,
Wise and reckless faces
Weaving their stories together
In the great tapestry of life.

And me, I want to touch them all.
I want to feel their words and hear their eyes.
I want to go backstage, behind their scripts
And drink beer with the actors.

Most are hiding somewhere inside their wrinkles and smiles.
They are afraid to come out in the light because it isn’t safe.
“Of course it isn’t safe,” I warn them.
“That’s what it means to be human,
To be naked, to be loved.”

Each week I listen to thirsty faces
And pour out glasses of life.
Some drink deeply
And laugh as color fills their dying eyes.
Most just watch, and whine and wonder why.

Broken faces come to my office
And spill pieces of love on my floor.
Together we glue the good ones in place
And throw out the ones that won’t fit.
“Love isn’t safe,” I tell them.
“That’s what makes it so much fun.”

I see and feel their hungry faces.
They look to me and say,
“Feed me, hear me, heal me.”
They ask so much.
Love is exhausting.
It just isn’t safe.

I find a mountain and climb into the sky.
With hands lifted I look at God’s face
And drink in the universe until I am filled.
It feeds me, hears me, heals me, knows me.
We are brothers.
I am again revived and ready again to seek out faces,
Empty faces that need to come out of hiding,
Drink in the life and love until it hurts.
God, I love those faces.

Good Friends, Bad Friends

You and your friends are like magnets, for a variety of reasons you are attracted to each other.  We all need friends. They are important to our wellbeing. Sports, religion, hobbies, careers pull people together until they like to hang out. Friends are fun most of the time and open us up to new ideas, personalities and experiences to add the much-needed variety in our lives. Friends are also temporary. You and your best friends from school probably drifted apart after graduation.  A change in jobs or location will often dissolve a once cherished friendship over time. Sometimes a good friendship will become so routine that it becomes boring until we lose interest in that person. And we certainly can’t forget conflicts which arise that can blow a friendship apart.

The easiest friends to make and maintain are the ones who are most like ourselves. Everyone is unique but for the most part we like people who have a similar life style, political, religious, and cultural views. We find that marrieds hang out with marrieds, singles with singles, sexual preference, race, age, gender, careers show us to be pretty much herd and flock people. We are drawn to people who live inside the same fences we do.

Those of us who are more adventurous will seek out and establish friendships with those outside our comfort zone, someone from a different tribe, a Capulet befriending a Montague. It is a challenge and takes a lot more work and patience, but the payoff can be enormous. That friendship can also be dangerous. Healthy friendships should help us grow as a person. They will expand our cultural, creative and intellectual boundaries giving us greater understanding and tolerance for the world around us. A friendship that brings uncomfortable demands and temptations could put your well-being at risk. If friends are magnets, make sure they pull you in the right direction.

Some sad people are held together through sex, drugs, or alcohol. These relationships are like bringing home a Cobra for a house pet. What may look like friendship is actually mutual addiction to self-destructive, self-indulgent habits. The only bond between them is the desperate need for the next hook up, high or bottle. These connections put them on a lonely road into darkness.

Another caution, money between friends can break a friendship. It is better to help a friend find the resources to address their financial need than to give/lend them money. Or, they might need help with better money management. A good friend will help a friend learn how to be self-sufficient rather than feeding their dependency on others to meet their needs. Dependency can be a destructive spiral for anyone.

Find and build friendships that will make you a better person as you make them better.  To find those good friends you must be a good friend, willing to spend the time to explore and discover the world through someone else’s eyes. Your compassionate friendship could actually save someone else’s life.

Estar bien y buena suerte

the WHO that I call ME

You know when your reading a textbook and you scribble a comment in the margin, or maybe look down to read a footnote, well that’s me.  I’m the scribbles and footnotes in life.  I have never been, will not be and don’t want to be famous, at least in the eyes of the world.  I do however want to be a superstar to my wife of 50 some years, my two daughters and their 11 children.  So here are some quick margin notes about the WHO I call ME: husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, US citizen, Arizona desert dweller, retired music teacher, writer, composer, lover of science, chocolate, flowers and pizza.

I asked myself, if I were reading someone else’s “about me” what would I want to know about them? If I were to deep dive into their mind, heart and soul what  would I want to discover? Here are some answers to that question about this “me.” I’ll try to keep this short.

I am a Christian but not religious, am Gobsmacked by all of life, follow politics but am a/political, am not a sports fan but admire great athletes, lost my daughter several years ago, my favorite music is 500 years old, culturally conservative, have 3 college degrees, am teaching myself Hebrew and Classical guitar, find 99% of television boring, grew up in Illinois farm country, have helped build many houses, love words, have performed at Carnegie Hall, directed well over 500 choir concerts, composed a bunch of music, wrote 3 books, and don’t consider myself to be an expert at anything. (scribbles in the margin remember?) And I would love to learn about the YOU that you  call ME.  That’s enough.  Make it a great day.

MMM

The Search for Success

Success always feels great. Whether you are baking a cake, losing that stubborn weight, getting a promotion, winning a trophy, or graduating, it is awesome to finally say to yourself, “I did it.” It is like getting a big dose of adrenaline. Success pumps up the confidence and motivation to keep reaching for the next higher goal.

How can we measure success? Most often it is measured by money, possessions, homes, cars, etc.  Some measure it by title or educational letters after their name, some by trophies and medals. Most recently, success is measured inside the world of social media: followers on Instagram, Likes on Facebook, subscribers on YouTube, etc. Granted, all those are examples of public and visible success. 

A number of years ago I remember watching a documentary about J. Paul Getty.  He had accumulated unlimited financial resources as a businessman. At the end it showed him as this tiny frail old man sitting alone on couch inside his massive house. He shared that he had gone through five divorces, none of his children or grandchildren wanted any contact with him and he had no friends that he trusted.  Was he a success?

Without the fame, money, possessions, titles and trophies, how do we measure the success of a person? How do we measure the success of a husband, wife, father, mother, citizen, neighbor, employee? How can we measure a person’s character?

The following words are critical to help a person succeed in the public arena. But as your read through them, I encourage you to apply them to the success of your whole inner person, to your character. Without them success will become allusive in both your professional and personal life.

Here are the words.

INITIATIVE: The world doesn’t owe you anything. Your level of success in life depends on no one else but you. Your teachers will give you skills and tools, but you have to do the work. You will have professional success and great relationships; friends, marriage, children, coworkers, if you take the initiative to make them great. Successful people visualize what they want, make and work a plan until they reach their goal. Money, sports, business, a craft, fitness, hobbies are all yours for the taking.  They never say, “this won’t work” but always, “how can I make this work.” They don’t make excuses, they solve problems. Do you want to make more money, have a better marriage, become highly skilled at something. Take the initiative, make it happen.

Years ago I sat in a sales meeting where the guest speaker held up a $100 bill. “This is yours if you want it,” he stated and put the bill on the table in front of him as he continued.  Every minute or so he would hold it up without comment and put it back down.  Finally, one of the salesmen in the back walked to the front and took the $100 bill with a smile and a “thank you” to the speaker.  The speaker shook his hand and told the crowd, “and that’s how it works.” Success is yours for the taking. Don’t wait, go get it.

ANTICIPATE: Successful people think about what might happen and what they will need in the next hour, day, week, month and years ahead. It could be as simple as stocking up on food supplies for the coming week or analyzing market trends for your business for the next decade. It is a process of eliminating negative surprises, of preparing for multiple possibilities, of capitalizing on new opportunities. Successful people rarely say, “mm, I wonder what I am going to do next.” When I was teaching I learned to do myself a huge favor.  At the end of the day I would look at my lesson plans for the next day, analyze student progress, make adjustments, run needed copies and check the school schedule. I eliminated managerial decisions for the next day so I could focus on the students and instruction. I traded in the stress of “catching up” for the enjoyment of “moving forward.” I always knew where I was in my lesson, where it was going in the next thirty minutes and how I would adjust if the students needed more time or intervention.

PATIENCE: Daniel Levitin, a professional musician and neurologist, writes in his book, This is Your Brain on Music, that “to become a virtuoso you don’t need talent, you just need ten-thousand hours of practice.” I am a musician myself so out of curiosity I got out my calculator and surmised, if I practice four hours a day how long would it take me to reach ten-thousand hours? The answer; almost seven years. When I was teaching piano and guitar I would ask a new student how good they wanted to be on their instrument.  The answer was always the same, “I want to be really good.” I soon learned what they were really saying is, “I want to know how to play well but I don’t want to spend the time learning.” The lesson is obvious enough, success is achieved in baby steps, often over a life time. Successful people don’t quit.

PERSISTENCE: The engine that will drive you through all the problems, failures, disappointments, distractions, and the mundane is called your, “want factor.” The strength of your “want” depends on how specific you have defined your goals. If you want to be rich, what does rich mean? Nothing. It’s like blindfolding yourself and shooting an arrow hoping to hit something. When you say by 55 years old I want to have a net worth $X million you will develop the ability of setting short term goals to achieve that long term goal. “At the end of this year I want to be…which means this month I need to…which means today I need to…” Visualize your goals, analyze and adjust your activity as needed but, ready? NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER QUIT.

NETWORKING: Steve Jobs once said, “none of us is as smart as all of us.” Even the Lone Ranger had help. Finding the right people and asking for their wisdom and help will save you a lot of trial-and-error time, money, and resources. There are always people who have traveled farther down your road to success than where you are. They can point out the pot holes and detours to help you streamline your progress. Google and YouTube have endless hours of “how-to” resources. Amazon and other book sellers provide thousands of volumes to help you achieve your goals. Don’t take your experience and skill for granted. Always be a student of your craft.

Eyes and Ears: Successful people develop micro and macho vision. They can see and analyze the nuances of today’s challenges and opportunities while keeping a keen eye of tomorrow’s horizons.  The pressures of each day can tempt us to become so myopic that often we take our eyes off the big picture, that distant goal.  Successful people listen more than they talk. Try this, write down in one paragraph what your specific and measurable long-range goals are.  Every morning read it out loud to yourself, memorize it word for word, then, ask yourself what you are going to do that day to reach that goal. What problem can you solve, who can your reach out to for help, what can you read or watch to improve your skill, what skill can you practice to become more skillful than you were yesterday? At the end of the day, reverse the questions.  What did I do, etc.? Baby steps will soon turn into miles. Major obstacles will become speed bumps.

SACRIFICE: How did Sarah Hughes win the Olympic Gold Medal in 2002 in figure skating at the age of 16? Come on, she’s just a kid. Look it up, it’s an amazing story. She started skating at 3 so think about what she had to give up over those 13 years to win gold? When other kids were having play dates guess where she was. When you read the life stories of many great musicians, composers and sports figures their stories look the same. Their sacrifice was enormous for many years.  Was it worth it? Only you can make that decision. The bigger the goal the greater the sacrifice.

COMPASSION: I often asked my classes this question: “what is the most important word in the English language.” They offered many good answers and were always surprised when I offered my answer. “Others,” I told them. When we find ways of consistently and generously helping those less fortunate, then and only then will our success bring the real sense of happiness, fulfillment and joy we all desire.  When we put the needs of others as a high priority the following problems soon diminish: poverty, hunger, homelessness, divorce, crime, maybe even war. You see, the opposite of “others” is the word is “me,” me first, me most, and me better. Greed and selfishness is driven by ego not compassion. To finish that conversation with my students I would tell them I wanted them to grow up to be very wealthy so they could give it all away. Only then would they be truly successful.

The Political Labyrinth

Politics, are you finding your way through all the issues, causes, movements, and personalities? There are many who proclaim they know the best way, who have an enlightened knowledge of the truth, but often we find that they themselves are lost. Have they convinced you to join a cause or movement or to follow a certain personality? Politics puts us into a never-ending labyrinth of twists and turns, lighted pathways and foggy dead ends. Let us take a moment and rise above this political maze in hopes that an ariel view might add some perspective away from the micro complexities of the political debate.

Politics and leadership are not the same, in fact, they are hardly even synonyms, maybe even oxymorons.  The main goal of a politician is to raise enough money to create enough media face time resulting in a strong enough name recognition to be elected and stay elected. They promote themselves much like an infomercial proclaiming that the other products (candidates) are inferior or damaging to you and your family.  Only they, all by themselves (they like to use the word “I” a lot) with their great wisdom and experience can save you from certain calamity.  Only they have the high moral mandate to raise our nation to its true economic and humanitarian potential.  Only their “new and improved” ideals can cure our social diseases. The product (candidate) that offers the biggest cure to the most people through the pizzazziest commercials (speeches) wins. But wait, there’s more, if you vote for them they will send you a free sample, (which you already paid for through your taxes.)

The urgent need for this continuous inflow of money exposes them to individuals and corporations (lobbyists) who have learned how to use their money to buy influence. This motivates a politician to support issues, causes and legislation which promotes and protects these sources of money. And, surprise, surprise, the politician somehow, mysteriously becomes very rich in the process.

Here is another trick used in the political world. If a candidate does not have a very strong track record of accomplishments, they will take the spotlight off of themselves and make sure that every pimple and blemish of their opponent makes its way the broadcast media every night. If the competing product (candidate) is presented as inferior, even dangerous, the buyer (voter) is left with no choice but to vote for the unknown.

But wait, there is still more. Far too often people blindly vote for the herd rather than a candidate. If a candidate belongs to the _________ (fill in the blank) party they must be the best choice for the office.  The same is true if a candidate is a certain race, or gender or belongs to a certain religion. “Their resume be damned, if they are a __________ I’m voting for them.”

In contrast, leadership is the ability to get the right things done at the right time with the least amount of money with the greatest benefit for and broadest support from the citizens. Here is the problem, you can’t lead if you’re not elected. Now, with all that considered we, as intelligent, rational human beings, are asked to vote for candidates who present themselves as great politicians (salesmen/women) but may not have a track record of solid leadership, (getting elected to office is not an example of leadership.)

Here is a bigger problem, how do we even know who these candidates really are? This brings us to the issue of the media. How are you staying informed? What voices do you trust to tell you the truth about the candidates? Many independent studies have reported that all the broadcast and print media outlets have a political agenda and will spin their commentary to highlight the benefits of certain candidates or a party while  disparaging the opposing candidate. (This product is much better than that one)  We all know people who vehemently say they would never watch the _____ channel.  When asked why not, often the response is, “because they lie.”  When asked how they know that other channel lies, they respond, “because the channel I watch said they did.” The reality is that their agendas are not the news at all, it is to sell products. Use critical thinking. If you can’t state what the opposing view is and why you disagree with it you have become a political sheep, blindly following some “shepherd” or herd.

All television, every second of it is an advertising enterprise. They exist to make mega millions selling time slots during their programs. The more people watch, the more valuable those time slots become. A thirty-second ad during the Super Bowl costs $5.6 million.  That is just to buy the slot. The commercials sell products and services.  The news media sells opinions and personalities.

The opinionators, (I’m sorry, commentators) are paid millions of dollars to go on the air and read words off a teleprompter they didn’t even write. They are very articulate and good looking. Men wear blue suits with brightly colored ties, the women wear solid color dresses designed to show off their legs, with long hair past the shoulders.  I challenge you to find a female commentator wearing slacks.  The commentators and the writers are paid by the corporation to create a marketable image in order to sell ad time, to attract viewers who will buy products. The CEOs dictate what goes on the air driven by their own political agenda. If a writer or commentator goes off script with items which are not congruent with the corporate agenda their high paying gig comes to a screeching halt. Yes, all of them will have their token opposing commentator to offer what is designed to look like an honest debate on the issues.

The solution? Be skeptical. Start with the assumption that all of them are telling the truth and all of them lie. Often agendas are revealed by what is not broadcast.  Here is an example: “1. Jason is our very best student and 2. soccer player. 3. He is very well known and 4. popular and should be elected to Student Council President.”  What is not said: 5. “He is secretly a white supremacist and a bully.” Statement 1-4 are true, but would you elect him if you found out about statement 5? Welcome to broadcast and print media.  The flip side is also common when referring to an opposing position or candidate. Statement 1-4 could be very negative statements about the opponent and 5 a positive for your candidate. 

We seem to be very smart people when it comes to buying products. We research, compare, read reviews, talk to friends, in an effort to make a well-informed decision. If we buy a product which is broken, doesn’t do what we were told, or just doesn’t work, we send it back for a refund. Unfortunately, all that research is thrown out the window when it comes to voting.

If you really want to put the best people in office, watch all the channels, read all the headlines, check out all the websites. Keep a keen ear for value statements and interpretations by the commentators.  Real news is what happened or what was said without their opinion or interpretation. It boils down to listening to the adverbs and adjectives.  That is where the agendas are revealed. Vote, but vote smart.