Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Stop and Think

After seeing the news of the death of Kobe Bryant, my initial reaction of shock and sadness turned the corner into another direction.  The media seemed to be ignoring that other people perished.  That irritated me.  Their lives are important too I thought.  The media kept repeating only Kobe Bryant as the focus of the story.  Then news came out that Kobe’s daughter was on the helicopter also.  Finally, more news came out that nine people including the pilot were on the helicopter.  At last other people were being acknowledged, but the focus was still on the celebrity, the basketball star.

That focus did not seem correct.  Yes, he was well known for his exploits on the basketball court, but these other people were important too.  They should not just be asterisks to the primary loss of life.  But as family of those who perished were informed, the full names of those who perished came out.  Some media attempted to acknowledge that the loss went beyond one family and beyond the sport of basketball.  It impacted the lives of other families and they were noteworthy and important.

Then I heard reports that the helicopter had been flying in foggy weather conditions where visibility was poor.  My thoughts were why would adults make a decision to fly in perilous weather and visibility conditions when they were taking kids along with them?  What was so important that they would risk lives by traveling in such conditions?  Would it be so terrible if they had arrived an hour or two later via the congested highways?  At least they would be alive.

People kept referring to the “Mamba mentality”. I thought to myself, I hope the pressure to stay in the “Mamba mentality” mode didn’t contribute to the decision to board the helicopter in poor weather conditions.  But this is a sometimes-Godless world where we as people get caught up in our own thoughts and concepts and forget that we don’t control our lives as we think we do.

That is the lesson that has been directed my way from this tragedy.  When presented with conditions that may be a threat to your life or the lives of others, pull back from an only choice aggressive attitude.  Especially if it involves the lives of children.  Have a servant of God mentality.  Humble yourself.  Pray before deciding what course of action you will take in potentiality dangerous conditions.  We need to choose life, especially when the other option has negative impact on the lives of others.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Triad of Terror at the University of Evansville

The Triad of Terror – Three Instances of Being Black at the University of Evansville.

My alma mater. The University of Evansville (UE).  The past 4 years has seen a series of events where black students have faced a fog of harassment and discrimination.  Attempting to wade through the fog resulted in one black female fleeing the environment at the University of Evansville.  A second student was suspended and banished from campus.  And now in a non-student event, the black head basketball coach of UE, who had been placed on administrative leave while an investigation occurred, was fired.  I have labeled these events “The Triad of Terror”.

In the first case, a black female student was active in the university’s theater department.  As a freshman student in 2016 she became the target of offensive remarks made by a UE professor.  The student came forward to file a complaint.  Doing what we are all taught.  Work within the system to resolve problems.  Unfortunately for some reason the University did nothing to support the student or punish the offending professor, so the student left the university environment that was causing her mental anguish.  Then in the year 2018 the student went to the legal system for relief.  The legal system outside of the university’s control.  That effort on the student’s part mobilized UE to take an appropriate action against the offending professor who has since been terminated from employment with the University.

In the recent firing of the UE basketball coach the University put out the following statement; "There is no place at UE for any behavior by any University employee or student that jeopardizes the safety and security of others."

This brings up the case of Jalen Chestnut.  Who up until the Fall of 2019 was a student at UE.  In the Spring of 2019, Jalen had begun sharing the Gospel on campus in an area designated for free speech.  Some non Christian elements at UE did not want to hear the truth and the Word spoken on campus. One of those elements was a professor at UE.  One day this tenured professor made a derogatory gesture towards Jalen while Jalen was speaking.  For some the gesture could also have been taken as being threatening in nature.  But….."There is no place at UE for any behavior by any University employee or student that jeopardizes the safety and security of others."  

The professor remains employed and it appears he was not disciplined for the offensive behavior.  Jalen was suspended from UE and banished from campus after he chose to continue speaking and sharing the Word.  Yes, he was doing so in an area that the university had ruled off limits after instituting a new policy.  The punishment could have been mitigated to a lesser penalty.  But, the environment at UE apparently doesn’t condone a black male, with strong religious beliefs to make a stand for what he believes in.

The details regarding the firing of the UE coach for off-the-court misconduct have not yet been revealed.  Considering how UE has given the benefit of the doubt to other university employees who misbehaved, one can only wonder if the same criteria was used.  Of course, we all know that race doesn’t matter, right?

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Faith & Politics - The Elections of 2020

February 2020 brings on the start of the Presidential primaries.  What is at stake this year and for our future? We have an incumbent President doing his best to lead us further along the path toward the eventual ending of life on this planet.  He at times appears to be an agent of Satan.  Even when he makes references to God, notice the mocking manner in which he does so.  The incumbent President is doing what he was destined to do.  That destiny is to take us along the path that will eventually result in the conditions referenced in Matthew 24:21. “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”

Via television, I witnessed the last hour of the January 14th debate of candidates running for the Democratic Party nomination.  Six candidates.  I looked at them for who they are.  Human beings, all a descendant of the original man and woman created by God.  God created us to live in fellowship with him in a world he designed and prepared for us.  But our free will to do both evil and good took us off the fellowship path into our current state of chaos mixed with moments of fellowship with our Creator.  The six candidates?  Romans 3:23. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

Among these Democratic candidates is one who himself is a testimony to mankind following our sinful desires. Romans 1:27. “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”  This candidate believes he can lead the government of the United States while willfully violating what God intended a man to be.  This candidate is a self-professed homosexual and proud to be one.  He displays a  “pride in ourselves” attitude we have developed as humans.  A pride that makes us believe that a person has the right to do and be whatever he or she wants to be, regardless of what God intended us to be.  This homosexual candidate is a second level escort leading us to human greatness and spiritual destruction.

I did not see the beginning of the debates.  Did any of the candidates in their opening statement make reference to asking God for guidance in responding to the questions?  Did any of the candidates mention how their faith in God would play a role in how they would manage the government of the United States and how we as a country interact with our neighbors on this planet?  I heard the closing statements of all the candidates.  God was not mentioned.  It was all “I”, “we”, “me, me, me.”

The candidates all debated how they would approach “solving” or handle the variety of issues we currently encounter as humans.  Health care, immigration policies, environmental issues, foreign policy.  From their mouths spewed information and opinions as if they really believe we as people can really solve our own problems without having God as part of the answer.  Sadly, they all seemed to believe that human answers will “solve” problems.  Absent a Godly foundation to a proposed “answer” they all are missing the point that there are no human answers to eliminating the sinful nature of people that has brought on all of our “issues”.  Mark 10:43-45. “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.  For even the son of man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for money.”

What can politicians and we as people do?  At best politicians and we as people might be able to lessen the threshold of pain that an issue has on a distinct segment or number of people.  Maybe it is possible that some issues can be eliminated and solutions found?  But to be fully effective those “answers” and “solutions” must be reached through spiritual guidance. Do you really believe that a human answer can meet the needs of everyone?

As the Presidential candidates spewed forth their viewpoints and opinions, I didn’t hear any of them saying that after prayer and consulting with Jesus Christ they had reached their conclusion.  Minus that affirmation of faith and bringing the discussion of issues into fellowship with Christ, all the candidates are just a collection of talking bobble heads.

Voters.  Now is the time for you to require that the candidates address their faith and how their faith is part of how they make decisions.  It does not matter if they are Baptist, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Mormon, etc.  Have each candidate address the question of faith.  Then make your humanistic voting decision on who is the best person to lead the government of the United States of America.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Unable to Provide Prompt Service

As a former Federal worker, I understand the bureaucratic methods and outdated processes sometimes followed by workers in Federal agencies.  I am now into year 2 of an attempt to see what monetary benefits my mom qualifies for as the spouse of  deceased WW II veteran.  My mom suffers from Alzheimer's and dementia.  After the death of my father on Thanksgiving morning in 2015, my mom began the quick journey into Alzheimer's and dementia.  Seemingly the grief and heartbreak of losing her lifetime companion, over 60 years of marriage, helped expedite the journey to Alzheimer's.

In October 2018 I initiated a claim on my mom's behalf to the Veterans Administration (VA) for whatever benefits she may have had to assist in paying homecare costs to a newly hired homecare provider.  My mother had some $11,000 in savings from my dad's life insurance policy and her monthly annuity checks to use as a source of income to pay for homecare.  Seeing that the homecare was expensive and that she could benefit from more homecare, the claim was an attempt to see what she qualified for.

The VA sent an initial response in May 2019, but had not considered the costs of homecare in calculating what my mom qualified for.  So I resubmitted the claim with evidence of the costs of homecare being an income reducer that was not considered initially.  The clock began to tick and I soon noticed that 5 months had elapsed with no answer.  When I called for an update on the status of the claim I kept on getting a response that it was under final review and given an expected date of completion.  That date would pass by and I would call and given another anticipated completion date.

I tired of the continued delay and contacted my Congresswoman, Susan Brooks out of Indiana, for assistance.  Suddenly the case was finished and a response sent to my mom's house that she did not qualify for assistance since the VA  assumed that I was paying the cost of her homecare from my personal account not my mom's.  I then submitted documentation to the VA to show them that I was a co owner of my mom's account as her Alzheimer's prevented her from carrying out the simple task of overseeing her finances.  Yes, I paid the homecare bills via my mom's account.

Now, you would think the VA would take the info and then expedite a final decision.  No.  Instead I was told that the info is seen as being a new claim and goes to the back of the line for consideration.  That means my 89 year old, Alzheimer's impacted mother will likely have to wait another 5 months for a decision.  That is 5 months that may not be promised to her.

Why would the VA stick to a process such as this and not close out a case with the latest information?  Only because they can and because there has not been enough outrage expressed at this archaic system of processing cases.  The VA like all federal agencies needs to continuously review operating procedures to see how those procedures result in providing the best, timely customer services available.  Delaying a decision on an 89 year old customer's claim  is a disservice.  It makes the system a simple paper pushing agency with robotic processes driving the system.

If this is how the VA treats the spouse of a deceased veteran, maybe all the complaints about the VA providing our veterans poor services has some merit.  The VA Claims centers can do better.  I've expressed my views in a personal letter to the Jainesville Center in Wisconsin.  I am sure I will receive a form letter response, because that is how federal agencies respond.  With un emotional responses designed to just answer the mail.

We are in the year 2020 and many of our agencies probably have processes that have not kept up with the times and technology.  It's time for the federal government to mandate reviews of customer related processes.  Stop requiring cases to go to the end of the line when they are already in progress.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Proud of Our "Great Ideas"?

I saw an article in a local newspaper that seemed to be applauding the creation of a "baby box" at a fire station of a local community.  It was as if they were patting themselves on the back for establishing a box for an unwanted baby to be left in.  I thought to myself it's really sad when we as people think creating a box for an unwanted baby is the best we can do as humans.

Is creating a baby box at a fire station the best option?  Why not allow for dropping off a baby at a hospital?  Why not a police station?  Abandoning a baby itself is one of the worst things we can do as a human being.  Yes, it is better to place a baby in a designated box rather than a trash car or abandoned on the street somewhere?  But a box?  Yes, the box alerts those inside there is a human life awaiting someone to pull it out of the box.

It just seems that the article, though well meaning, really was pointing out our human lack of ability to get to the root of the problem.  Valuing human life itself, not the ability of man to create a flawed method, should be our focus.

A baby box points out the flaws in our human character and our methods to respond to those flaws.  So what is next?  Are we going to create "homeless boxes" built into walls of abandoned buildings that will serve as a sleeping quarters for the homeless during cold weather?  Are we going to place un used food in boxes on street corners as a way to feed the poor?

Sometimes we as people create some good ideas.  But boxes are not the solution to some problems.