Theater educator brings faith, scripture to acting in book

Setting the stage for this post is rather simple. I was beginning my second year of graduate school at, what it was called at the time, Central Missouri State University, in Warrensburg, MO. Along came a new instructor for the theater department….

BACKGROUND…

John Wilson has been an instructor of theater at the University of Central Missouri (formerly known as Central Missouri State University) in Warrensburg, MO, for nearly 20 years.

He began in the fall of 2000, and in 2015 he became chair of what has now expanded to become the Department of Theatre and Dance at the university.

Before coming to the “little ‘ol town of the ‘Burg,” Wilson was an adjunct instructor at Colorado Christian University from 1997-1998. He directed two shows, Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing, while teaching a few classes. “I taught a playwriting class, motivational drama – which studied a lot of motivational speeches in all genres of dramatic literature – and I taught a movement class.” he said.

He did this all while he was still working in a grocery story. “I was just starting to get experience where I could,” Wilson said. “But I was also professionally auditioning and got my equity card through the regional premiere of ‘Visiting Mr. Green‘ by Jeff Barron.”

He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in performance from Arizona State University in 1990. In the early 90s, he attended the National Theatre Conservatory in Colorado, obtaining a Master of Fine Arts in performance in 1993.

The purpose of this post, really, is to highlight Wilson’s book. You see, a few years ago he published his first book that took several years to create the idea, formulate that idea, and time to write the book – The Actor As Fire and Cloud.

THE GERMINATION OF AN IDEA…

In all his years as an educator and theater artist, Wilson was contemplating an idea. This idea was bringing Christian values and faith to the secular life. “It really happened ever since the enlightenment,” he began. “We get this idea you can have your sacred life and then there’s your public life. You can believe whatever you want, just keep it out of my business. Then this growing, silent agreement for the past 300 years that we don’t bring that sacred into certain professions and into certain work places.”

So the idea began forming more than 10 years ago, since about 2005-2006. He said it started as conversation pieces for trips and things with his wife, Jill, but then didn’t really get around to it until 2013. “So in 2013 I would have been in my 14th year of teaching,” Wilson said. “I could look back and realize I got a number of believing students come through the program and ask me all sorts of questions – ‘As a Christian, how do you feel about swear words?’ ‘As a Christian, how do you feel about sex as a topic in a scene?’ There’s a chapter where I kind of cover that. And it came from all those questions that I was fielding for quite a long time from students.”

Therefore, he contemplated further. His thinking – “I am a Christian, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” He thought God has given him gifts and talents, so there must be a way to bring these things together, faith and craft. “I think God purposes us and equips us to do everything that we do. So part of it was looking for connections,” he said. “Being able to go into God’s word and try and find connecting dots and ligaments that help me make connections between faith and acting.”

Businessman looking at faith door

But there was also another connection that had to do with his wife. Through their previous conversations, there was a time when Jill was in graduate school and her professors were having difficulty finding any kind of a textbook that dealt with those two items. “It just didn’t exist. They would be like read this book that’s kind of about this and then just try and translate it the best that you can. Or maybe read this article or what have you,” he said.

Then the real thought process and imagination spurred about writing this type of book about acting. He realized there wasn’t really anything on the market, so through conversations with his wife more ideas and thoughts stirred. Wilson said his wife was really the inspiration for the idea. “We bounced a lot of ideas off of each other,” he said. “I started writing when I was on sabbatical. I got through a show and some commercial work and then it was spring break in the educational calendar and I was like ‘I’m off until August.'”

IN THE BEGINNING…

So he set out to start writing. However, he has never written a book before. The process is somewhat similar to writing a thesis or other educational piece of writing. But with a book, it’s a little more grander in scale as far as content. “I think the writing process is similar. It’s just a matter of volume,” he said. “How much you’re writing when you write a book as opposed to a thesis or a paper. I felt the process was similar to how I would go about writing anything academic. I just needed to be really well organized about it. I needed to collect a lot of my resources. But I don’t think my approach was necessarily different than any other academic writing I’ve done. There’s just so much more to do.”

09-10-17-daring-faith-six-phases-god-uses-to-grow-your-faith

The idea for writing a book like this needed to actually be in the book. So eventually that material became the first chapter, he said. He set out to work and there would be short days of about eight hours, and his long days would be about 12 hours. He would explore the Bible and then work on a draft, completing a chapter, and then a lot of “prayerful consideration” and other reading as to what the next chapter would be.

“I wrote the majority of it in six weeks,” Wilson said. “And then I spent two years going back and revising, editing and fine tuning and expanding and adding. And it felt really inspired, like it poured out of me. That’s a lot of material to write in six weeks. I was easily done before the spring semester was over. I started in March and was done before commencement.”

As any writer could probably tell you, it’s a process.

But then the more difficult part came in the writing project, editing. Editing is also a process. And as they say writers don’t write, they rewrite. It’s true in a sense. “I had to go back and think about structure and vocabulary and train of thought,” he said. “I worked with one of Jill’s friends, whom I never met.”

Miranda Dunning was attending the same school his wife, Jill, was attending. She was in the MFA program for performance. Dunning was also a lawyer, according to Wilson. She does a lot with law but is also an editor. So Wilson asked her to come on board because she had writing skills and was an MFA actor. So it was a “great, phenomenal, serendipitous opportunity” to send the manuscript to her.

He said they only had phone and email correspondence through the editing process. But it still worked for them. He felt he had something with her when, regardless of any grammatical errors, etc., she would write back and say “conceptually this chapter is kind of blowing my mind.” Sometimes she would say, on the concept level, “I get what you’re saying but I think you could make it clearer,” he said. “So she would be really honest and challenge me.”

He not only brought scripture and faith into this book, he also intertwined his own experiences or Jill’s experience into it as well. Additionally, he included different plays he read. “I kind of felt like my career as an actor and educator just kind of prepared me for this moment,” Wilson said. “I could have been inspired to write this book in 2000. And I would have no clue what the heck I would be writing about. In fact, I think that’s why it took me so long. I think I wrote it at the right time. I don’t think I was the actor or educator or the Christian back in 2005 or 2006 to write this book.”

THE FINAL STEP…

The final step was to get a publisher. That, for Wilson, also became somewhat of an obstacle. He contemplated self-publishing or going the traditional route. He said if self-publishing would have been more affordable at the time, he would have done that just to get the book out there and complete the project. And by a year or so later, there just didn’t seem to be anyone interested in the book.

Finally, after some thoughtful prayer and consideration, an answer emerged. “I happened to come across a Christian writing conference at Wheaton College, outside of Chicago,” Wilson said. “I thought I got to do this. I got to meet people who know what they’re doing. I need to network. I need to figure this out. I hadn’t spent a lot of money at this point, so I went. I made an investment. That was the game changer.”

He was able to meet several writers and the conference was being hosted by publishers. He signed up for two half-hour pitch sessions. One session was with Bold Vision Books, not quite as big as the other one, but still a good one. “They were both really interested,” he said. “But Bold Vision, at the time, wanted to start developing a new brand and that would focus on the arts. They would do art, music and include theater and they started with this book to launch this new brand,” he said. “I didn’t hear back from them until September or October of 2014. And then we spend another several months editing and then it came out in April or May 2015. Almost two years to the month that I had finished the first draft.”

He was happy and pleased the project was complete. He had much support from his wife and others, but the most important help came from somewhere else. “It was all the Lord,” he began. “I don’t even know where I even started. What I even Googled out of my desperation. But when I found Christian writing conferences, I thought that’s the answer.” With that, he knew that was it. All of the time in prayer and peaceful thought resulted in this discovery. “I felt like once I committed to doing something, then I think the Lord really brought me to it. It made perfect sense. Obviously I found the right one,” Wilson said.

FINAL THOUGHTS…

His final thoughts on the project still remain with God. It was such an important part of this whole process for him. “No matter the subject. When your main resource is the bible, then you’re in it every day,” he said. “I found that to be all I needed.”

He spent considerable time in the Bible to connect faith and craft because faith is connected to God’s word. “God was really telling me something in whatever passage or chapter I was reading. Like that was really a tough psalm, or that was a Proverb that pierces.”

Of course, he said there were also some favorite authors, apologists, and theologians he would read to become inspired through the process.

What’s next for Wilson? Of course he’ll continue being an educator.

As for writing… well he might look to another type of challenge.

“I’m still inspired by playwrights today. Probably the next thing I’ll write is a play,” he said.

Leaner-challenges

There’s also an option of creating a second edition from his notes if that opportunity presents itself. “But playwriting and screenwriting are phenomenally more difficult than a book. Coming up with the plot, character, and story is difficult and to me, that’s the next great challenge.”

Relationship Lost

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, I ended the first (and longest) relationship I have had. I’ve had friends get married, divorce, remarry, and so on. I’ve seen and heard of friends, family, and other people stay together for 10, 20, 30 or more years. So in light of my recent divorce, I thought I would share some thoughts about my relationship, and relationships in general.

I will start with a little bit of background.

Honestly, I have only had a few dates in college and some after, but it never really went anywhere beyond a first date (don’t ask me why).

Several years ago, (a little over 15 years) I moved back to Marshall from Warrensburg, where I went to finish college after transferring from State Fair Community College in Sedalia. I had jobs here and there and then began working at the Habilitation Center here in Marshall, and worked there for six and half years. During the course of my employment, I began a “relationship” with a coworker and only lasted a couple of months or so. We went out a few times. We spent some time together. Then all of sudden she just stopped talking to me. When we were together, the communication wasn’t there anymore. I don’t know what happened. Then, one night we made plans for me to come over to her place and spend some time together. I went and no one was home. Come to find out she went out with some other friends without saying a word to me, and she didn’t even invite me after I found out. So apparently that was that.

A couple of years later I begin another “relationship” at the Hab Center. That lasted just a few weeks. We spent some time together and enjoyed each other’s company, but didn’t want to rush into anything “serious.” So it was casual. We didn’t want to “label” it. But, apparently at one point we discovered that we just weren’t in the same “place.” We went our separate ways and that was that.

I came to the conclusion that relationships at the Hab Center just didn’t work out.

At least for me. 

However, a couple of years later (end of summer 2009), I added a friend on my Facebook. I knew her in high school. We had a few classes together over the years and graduated together. As we commented and made posts on each other’s page, I found out she worked at the Hab Center (and has been there for quite some time). She worked in a different unit than I, but we carried on getting to know each other again and sharing high school experiences and memories.

After her divorce, we decided to step up our relationship, and that I would move in with her and her three children from previous marriages. Shortly after, we were talking about marriage and spending the rest of our lives together. So, one day I finally popped the question. We were married about a year and a half later. At this point, I was her third marriage and this was my first. We started off pretty good by spending time together, talking, doing family things with the children, vacations, and so on. She was telling me how much she loved me and posting messages and little “lovey-dovey” memes to my Facebook page. It was all good.

Then nearly two years into the marriage, our communication broke down, she didn’t seem that into me (although she did tell me from time to time she still loved me), we didn’t do a lot things together anymore, and she excluded from things. She spent more and more time away from me. So I got to a point where I didn’t know how to talk to her anymore. The more time she spent away from me, the more I spent time away from her. And the distance grew. At least for me.

This went on for a while, and I was going back and forth if I should leave or stay. Ultimately, I decided to leave. I thought the only way I could do this is if I just did it quick like a band-aid. I know I probably could have handled it differently (and should have), but at the time that’s all I could do. It was causing me stress and I had to look out for me too.

Print

Bottom line was I think we were just too different. So I guess my relationships, which began at the Hab Center, didn’t work out for me.

I knew those differences we had going in, and I could get past them at first. But when the distance between us grew for me, those differences seemed to get amplified and I just could not go on. She apparently still wanted this relationship and still seemed to love me, but her actions were not telling me that. So I moved out.

When+and+Why+Relationships+End
The divorce rate in the United States has never exceeded 40 percent. Relationships may end because of illness, financial concerns, or career problems. Unmet expectations, failure to communicate, and differences in sexual needs can all lead to the ending of a relationship. Discuss as a class why we generally view the divorce rate as at about 50 percent. Does knowing that it is actually lower than that change anyone s view of marriage? See what the divorce rate is in your classroom, either among the parents of your students or among students who have married. © 2016 Pearson Education, Inc.

Since I have left, I found myself again. I think the marriage (especially the last couple of years or so) really boxed me in. I became withdrawn in myself. With the help of some coworkers from my last job, I broke free from the shell I was in and became more myself. I could tell a difference a few weeks after I moved out. And there is a huge difference in the way I feel now as opposed to the way I felt then.

After taking time contemplating divorce, I finally filed and received the judgement of divorce. I want her to be happy. I just don’t think I could do that anymore and still be able to be truly happy myself. 

And I don’t want to sound like I’m jealous or upset, (maybe a little frustrated), but if it weren’t for the fact that all the things she was doing with me when we were first together, she is doing with him. Posting pictures, etc. on Facebook, giving him compliments, and so on and so on. Maybe if she still seemed that interested in me, we might still be together. But who knows.

I just want to say I’m happy for her. If she is truly happy, and has moved on, that is great. More power to her. I moved on too, a few months after I moved out.

In writing this, I also wanted to explore a little about what makes a good marriage. Or what are the essential “ingredients” for a happy, healthy marriage. You might hear advice from many people and so-called experts, but it is just sifting through everything and applying what you can to your situation or marriage.

The following information is from an article by Jeffrey Drew, Sonya Britt, and Sandra Huston in “Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce.”

6 Keys to a Good Marriage

Worship and Pray together

  • To begin with, this was a big difference. She was Wiccan and I am Catholic. A lot of people asked how that would work. Well it seemed fine at first. We didn’t impose each other’s religion on one another, so it seemed to work. I think it became more like a “what’s hers is hers and mine is mine” type of thing. (Which I also think became one of the big problems in the marriage). We didn’t really grow spiritually or have a strong faith foundation upon which to share.

Communicate

  • As I said, communication began to falter. The more she stopped really communicating with me and excluding me from things, the more I distanced myself from her. As the distance grew, the less I felt a part of the marriage.

Leave and Cleave

  • This has to do with establishing your own home as a married couple, but not forgetting your parents. I think, on the whole, we did that. We still visited or did things with her mom because she lives in Marshall. My parents live in Texas. We still visited them in the summer a couple of times, and all in all, we remained close with them. But our home seemed to be more HER home. I emphasize her because it seemed like she would make all the decisions for the family and it didn’t seem like my input was valuable or necessarily needed.

Date Your Spouse

  • This is something we did kind of frequently early on in the relationship, but then nearly two years into the marriage we sort of stopped. And the few times we did go out together, there was a silence between us. At least I felt it. And if she was fine with not spending time together, not doing things together, not really communicating, then that’s on her. But that’s not how I view a happy, healthy marriage. And like I said, I didn’t really know how to talk to her anymore about these issues, so they were never discussed.

Budget

  • This was a big issue. And it really became an even bigger issue as time went on. I go back to the “what’s hers is hers and mine is mine” mentality. That’s how she wanted to view our money and finances. I was fine with this at first. But towards that midway point again it really started to become an issue with me. I tried to talk to her about creating a budget and going through our expenses, but she didn’t seem to want to talk about it so I left it alone again. She still wanted to do these fun things with her kids like go to concerts, or spending what seemed like hundreds of dollars on the kids every Christmas and every birthday, and such, and then complain about not having any money. But again, I left it alone because I didn’t feel I could talk to her about the issue.

Compliment

  • She used to do this in the beginning for me. I would return the gesture. But like everything else, she stopped doing it or didn’t do it as much. Sometimes it appeared a little forced to me. And as the distance grew, the more I became withdrawn and unhappy so I didn’t necessarily want to compliment her, although, at times I tried.

There are other tips and advice for a successful marriage to be found. Books, articles, blogs, neighbors, family and friends are all sources in which you can get information and advice from, whether voluntarily or not. This was just a small list I found through a newsletter from a local church I thought to be appropriate and accurate in this instance.

And maybe they don’t work for everyone. And this is probably not a complete list, so don’t just think that this is all it takes. There is love and commitment, intimacy, patience and a host of other factors for a happy, successful marriage.

Divorce+Divorce+occurs+for+many+reasons,+such+as-
Basic incompatibility of couples that chose the wrong partner (often those who divorce in first 5 years of marriage) Failure to adjust relationship through critical transitions in marriage (often those who divorce after 5 years of marriage) A greater risk of divorce is associated with factors that could affect compatibility, such as: Dissimilar backgrounds. Teenage marriage. Brief courtship. Pregnant bride.

So that is all now. I believe I have rattled on long enough. If your marriage (relationship) is working, then kudos! Keep it up! But if it is failing on any level, and you still have somewhat good communication, talk things through to help save it if you can. But after some work, if it is still not helping the situation, then it may be time to part ways.

 

Liberty, Freedom, Choice

In light of some recent events, I would just like to share a few thoughts. These are just random thoughts, but they might feel more like familiar musings about the current situations in politics, sports, society, and the country. Of course, all of these categories seem to bundle together to form one long narrative.

American Flag Controversy

I’ll start with Colin Kaepernick. I’m sure everyone has heard of the latest controversy that some people and media have turned it into. His refusal to stand for the National Anthem before football games has become the topic of discussion for many. I’ve read stories and seen social media comments and posts how the quarterback despises America and is being disrespectful. According to some, he’s even being a rich, spoiled crybaby.

I understand his reasons why he is doing what he’s doing. As he has said, it’s to try to bring change to a situation that appears to have erupted over the last few years. And seemingly, that is the injustice being done towards people of color at the hands of white authority figures. It seems there has been some discussion on the matter, but mostly it is still almost hateful dialogue towards Kaepernick and his actions. I have also read, though, there are some that support what he’s doing, and some of those are even veterans.

Do I agree with what he is doing? Not necessarily. There could be other ways he could protest and try to bring about change. But I certainly do agree it is his right to do what he’s doing as provided in the Constitution. The American Flag is meant as a symbol of liberty and freedom. And if we (Americans) are to rise and honor those who have fought to provide us those freedoms, then shouldn’t we have a right to protest when some civil liberties and rights are being denied or disregarded? The way I see it (as I have mentioned this in another post) the flag represents America’s freedom. But if you also look at how we (America) arrived at that point, by basically oppressing and slaughtering the Native Americans here for nothing more than dominance, which is also what seems to be happening today – the oppression of people of color and minorities. So that red, white and blue flag that’s supposed to stand for freedom and liberty just seems hollow when we are still oppressing minorities. So, I believe until we – as a nation – can return to a civilized, caring nation where race and oppression are not relevant any longer and people can get around without being judged or oppressed, then we can all stand in honor of that Star-Spangled Banner and to those who have fought and died to give us that honor and freedom. And until then, we should be able to protest how we see fit, as long it is peaceful and not interfering with anyone or anything else, or not hurting anyone else. Let’s refrain from being judgmental and just live.

Election 2016

In a recent post, I talked about the election and political party history. We know that Trump and Clinton are in it and they will be facing off on the debate stage in a few days. Since that post, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is polling 15% or higher in several states and now is on the ballot in all 50 states. The National Commission on Presidential Debates has made the decision not to include the former New Mexico Governor on the first debate stage because he isn’t polling at he requisite 15% in the national polls (a number arbitrarily set by the commission).

I’ve read where some believe that voting third party is a wasted vote. That it’s meaningless. No third party has ever won. Here’s a little history: by 1860 there were four parties – Northern Democrat, Southern Democrat, Republican, and the Constitutional-Union Party. The Republican Party was considered a “third party” at the time. Republicans won their first presidency with Abraham Lincoln as the issue of slavery was at the forefront of that election.

In this election, I don’t believe there have ever been two more polarizing candidates as Trump and Clinton. As I said before, some have said they will vote for the lesser of two evils. But which on is the lesser evil? Some say it’s Clinton. Some say it’s Trump. If you ask me, voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. Some have also said voting for a third party will take votes away from Trump and allow a Clinton presidency as it did in 1992 with Ross Perot. But really, if 62% of America want to see Gary Johnson in the debates, and those that say they will vote Trump to keep Clinton out and those that will vote Clinton to keep Trump out would vote for Gary Johnson, then he might just actually win. I haven’t done the math. But it does seem plausible. I for one cannot vote Republican or Democrat in good conscience. What needs to change is the CPD and the failing two-party system. Since the end of the Civil War, the two-party system has been in power. There have been other “third parties” but they don’t get the recognition because all the attention goes to the two major parties.

The CPD was supposed to be set up to educate America on all eligible candidates to make the choices needed to secure the next presidency. In all honesty, if a candidate is on the ballot their voice should be heard on the debate stage regardless of numbers in national polls. Plain and simple. America needs another choice. This election is too important. However, if Johnson doesn’t get in then maybe after four years of Trump or Clinton, the rules will change.

Final Thought

It just seems to me what is lacking is appreciation for human and societal differences. I’ve said this time and time again. We (America) need to put a little love back in our lives. Sometimes it just seems that until someone says something is offensive or controversial, no one really notices or is aware of it. But because someone said something, then all of a sudden it’s a countrywide (or in some cases a global) offensive controversy. It looks as though the country (world) is regressing to a more tumultuous time of racial tension, oppression, and righteous judgment. Let’s love each other and get along.

Election 2016: This Year It’s Real

With the current state of affairs with the two-party system, coupled with this election year, I thought I might take a look at a brief history of the evolution of political parties in the United States.

U. S. Political Party History

The first political party formed around 1787 by Alexander Hamilton and other leaders who wanted a strong central government. They called themselves the Federalists. By 1796 some grew against the Federalists platform and a group of followers, led by Thomas Jefferson, started a party called the Democratic-Republicans. They believed in a smaller national government, while leaving the governing power to the states and local governments.

When Jefferson came to the office in 1801, the Federalists were losing power to the Democratic-Republicans. Although the Federalists hung on as a minority party for 20 years, the differing thoughts and values through the developing United States (which ultimately led to the Civil War) paved the way for new parties.

When Andrew Jackson was elected and served two terms, the party was renamed to Democrats, thus making Jackson the first Democrat president. Former Federalists joined in opposition to the Democrats and formed the National Republicans, or Whigs. The Whigs enjoyed four presidents in office – William Henry Harrison, who died while in office in 1841 (the first president to do so). John Tyler filled in and remained in office for one term. In 1845, the Whigs lost to a Democrat, James K. Polk, only to regain the office in 1849 with Zachary Taylor. However, he died in office 16 months later. Millard Fillmore became president and was out of office in 1853. Democrats took the office for the remainder of the 1850’s.

The issue of slavery rose to the forefront of the political stage leaving little room for other issues. The Whig Party began to fall apart, due in part to members leaving to form Northern Abolitionists, who wanted to abolish slavery. A new Republican Party was formed and by 1860 there were four major parties – Northern Democrat, Southern Democrat, Republican, and the Constitutional-Union Party. With slavery a strong issue, Republicans secured their first president Abraham Lincoln. States’ rights began to be an issue with slavery and in 1861 the Southern states seceded and the Civil War began.

At the conclusion of the Civil War, the two parties – Republicans and Democrats became the major political parties – took their turn with the presidency. During this time, third parties also began to appear like in 1872 a woman, Victoria Woodhull, became the first woman to run for president. She shared the Equal Rights Party ticket with African American leader Frederick Douglass. The People’s Party of the U.S.A., also known as the Populists, gained their support from the common workers and farmers. Republicans split and formed a group called the Progressive, or “Bull Moose,” Party in 1912. After the Second World War, Southern Democrats formed the States’ Rights Party in order to fight for the civil rights of African Americans. The Libertarian Party, formed in the 1970’s, was for individual rights. The 1990’s saw the rise of the Reform Party, led by Texas businessman Ross Perot. The Green Party has formed to take on the environmental movement.

The Presidents

Below is a list of the presidents with affiliation, and length of presidency:

George Washington – Federalist (1789-1797)

John Adams – Federalist (1797-1801)

Thomas Jefferson – Democratic-Republican (1801-1809)

James Madison – Democratic-Republican (1809-1817)

James Monroe – Democratic-Republican (1817-1825)

John Quincy Adams – Democratic-Republican (1825-1829)

Andrew Jackson – Democrat (1829-1837)

Martin Van Buren – Democrat

William Henry Harrison – Whig (1841)

John Tyler – Whig (1841-1845)

James K. Polk – Democrat (1845-1849)

Zachary Taylor – Whig (1849-1850)

Millard Fillmore – Whig (1850-1853)

Franklin Pierce – Democrat (1853-1857)

James Buchanan – Democrat (1957-1861)

Abraham Lincoln – Republican (1861-1865)

Andrew Johnson – Democrat-Union (1865-1869)

Ulysses S. Grant – Republican (1869-1877)

Rutherford B. Hayes – Republican (1877-1881)

James A. Garfield – Republican (1881)

Chester A. Arthur – Republican (1881-1885)

Grover Cleveland – Democrat (1885-1889)

Benjamin Harrison – Republican (1889-1893)

Grover Cleveland – Democrat (1893-1897)

William McKinley – Republican (1897-1901)

Theodore Roosevelt – Republican (1901-1909)

William Howard Taft – Republican (1909-1913)

Woodrow Wilson – Democrat (1913-1921)

Warren G. Harding – Republican (1921-1923)

Calvin Coolidge – Republican (1923-1929)

Herbert Hoover – Republican (1929-1933)

Franklin D. Roosevelt – Democrat (1933-1945)

Harry S. Truman – Democrat (1945-1953)

Dwight D. Eisenhower – Republican (1953-1961)

John F. Kennedy – Democrat (1961-1963)

Lyndon B. Johnson – Democrat (1963-1969)

Richard Nixon – Republican (1969-1974)

Gerald Ford – Republican (1974-1977)

Jimmy Carter – Democrat (1977-1981)

Ronald Reagan – Republican (1981-1989)

George Bush – Republican (1989-1993)

Bill Clinton – Democrat (1993-2001)

George W. Bush – Republican (2001-2009)

Barrack Obama – Democrat (2009-2017)

Lesser of Two Evils

Political parties in the United States have seen and wide and varied existence since the Federalists were formed in the late 18th Century. Today, this election year, the two major parties – Republican and Democrat – have given us candidates Trump and Clinton. Two seemingly polar opposites and both appear to be wrong for this country. I’ve heard people say they’ll vote for the lesser of the two evils. But which one is that?

There have been discussions where Trump is the lesser evil, but also that Clinton is the lesser evil. My opinion is that Clinton is the lesser evil of the two. But sometimes it seems hard to tell. It is difficult to see. Clouded is their future. The shroud of the dark side has fallen and clouds everything.

Okay. I digress.

Back to Trump and Clinton. It seems some, or most, of America does not approve of either candidate. That’s when they say they’ll vote for the lesser of the two evils. But again, which one is that? I guess some people don’t seem to take the time to look for other options. That’s where third and fourth parties come in. The trouble is they don’t get a lot of publicity until late. But this year, right now, there is a third party candidate on the Libertarian ticket that is making headway. Check out Gary Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld. Green Party candidate Jill Stein is supposedly still in the race, but is not getting numbers like Johnson is. So come September in the first presidential debate, there might be a third member on the stage with Trump and Clinton, something that hasn’t been done since Ross Perot in 1992.

Johnson/Weld

If you don’t like Trump or Clinton, look into the other candidates. There is plenty on them. Johnson and Weld are both former Governors and both former Republicans. Check them out. Here’s an introductory ad for Johnson/Weld:

Johnson/Weld Ad

You can listen to an interview with Johnson below:

Gary Johnson Interview

A vote for Johnson, if (and hopefully when he gets there), will not be a wasted vote. Check out their website: Johnson/Weld 2016

Let’s give America another choice. This election year is too important to just check a box in order to check a box.

Let’s Move On…Again

Greetings everyone. It has been a while since I have contributed to my blog. Lots of things happening, and for the better. But that may be for another time. There have been a few things in the news recently that I feel the need to comment on. These posts have always been just my thought and opinions, backed by other source material, on varying issues or topics. This post will be no different.

A couple of months ago I posted a blog about how we as Americans need to move on from the past, put our differences aside so we can move forward. A link to the post is here: Let’s Move On

Freedom of Religion

I will begin with Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis. She seems to have a following around her and many people apparently supporting her and praying for her. People seem to be “praising” her. You can read a story about it below.

Kim Davis Fiasco

Okay. I get that she “stood up” for what she “believes” in, but come on. I’m getting tired of people using the U. S. Constitution as a defense for so-called religious beliefs. The freedom of religion portion in the Constitution was designed to allow people to choose what religion to follow, or not follow. It also was to provide people the freedom to choose when and where to worship, or not worship. It was NOT designed to deny other people their civil rights and liberties by forcing one’s own beliefs on others.

Davis and her church may believe a marriage union should be between a man and a woman. A majority of Kentuckians may believe that too. But the Supreme Court made it a law. Now, some say the Court had no right to impose their ruling on a matter that is supposed to be state controlled. But in my opinion, the state got it wrong. Aren’t we supposed to have “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” If that means the two men or two women want to get married to pursue their happiness, shouldn’t they be allowed to do so? I mean if someone doesn’t like it, or is bothered by it, or disgusted by it, don’t go to the wedding or ceremony. It’s not like the couple is getting married in YOUR backyard, church, or place of business. And it’s not like the couple is going around to every neighborhood and every house and flaunting their union in front of you. If they want to be happy, they should be happy.

As Americans, we should be able to do what we feel is best for our own personal well-being. That’s partly why the Constitution was drafted in the first place. Additionally, as Americans, we really don’t have the right to force our own opinions on others, because essentially, that’s what leads to judgment. And I believe that is what Davis did. She judged that couple and because of her beliefs, she decided they were not “fit” to get married.

I think I’ve said this before in another post or something somewhere, but it holds true here. If people would get their heads out of their asses and be more open to different things, then I think this world would be in a more happy state instead of the bickering, fighting, looting, etc. etc, that seems to be plaguing this world today. We (Americans) just need to be more tolerable to differences in the world, because that is what America is. It is essentially a nation of immigrants. We are all different – with different backgrounds, ethnic groups, religion, education, social upbringing – so let’s all just get along, shall we?

Gun Rights

The Second Amendment still seems to be in the front today. Gun right supporters, the NRA, and whoever else is close-minded enough to take the amendment as face value. I did a post on this some time ago, so I won’t go into great detail. I just want to reiterate a few things. You can find the link below.

Second Amendment

Again, the amendment was written during a time when the militia was a key player during war. How many are militia now? The Second Amendment does not specify what type of weapon a person may own.

It’s the idea that many people have that seem to think we all need military assault rifles to protect our homes and family. Now again, I am not against that. I believe we should be able to protect our homes and families. I just don’t think the average, every day citizen needs an AK-47 or M16 assault rifle to do that.

We need some common sense gun laws where guns can be more easily tracked to reduce black market deals and more comprehensive background checks to help identify the unstable people (mentally, socially, psychological, etc.) and give those people the help they need. Maybe ban certain types of weapons….wait a minute….I think laws like these were already tried and failed because dumb ass people want to protect their “gun rights.”

WAKE UP AMERICA

An Analysis of Racial Tension

In light of the recent protests in Ferguson, it prompted me to analyze the situations again. I’m not saying I am anywhere near a medical expert or have formal law training, I am just observing what I see in video and what I read in news articles. I’m sure everyone knows the incidents last summer with Michael Brown and Eric Garner and others across the country. I’m just going to say I think media and a few “bystanders” possibly saw what they wanted to see and made it about race, which then sparked the controversy and thus the violence and riots. I don’t believe Martin Luther King, Jr. would condone these violent protests. And he wanted the same thing that these protesters today want: equality, justice, and freedom.

The recent protests in Ferguson, MO resulted in protestors standing along the Interstate blocking traffic. In a story released August 14, there was reportedly gunfire and another black 18-year-old was shot. The teen reportedly shot at police officers. You can read that story below.

Ferguson Protest

The protests erupted, I believe, partly over the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown. From what I read and heard about that shooting was once the media, or whoever actually labeled it as “police shoot an unarmed black teen,” that’s where it went crazy. The riots began and the violence started. I posted another blog a while back called “Rioting: What’s the point?” and I ask that here again. What’s the point? A supposedly violent act begets more violence? What does that really solve?

It seems after about four days of protesting in Ferguson, law enforcement seemingly maintained peace and prevented further acts of violence in the area, according to St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. The county, city, law enforcement and surely the public are probably more at ease now that there is peace in the area. That crisis averted. But who’s to say something similar won’t happen again? With the state of mind of some people, I’d almost guarantee it.

A note on Michael Brown. I believe, based on reports I’ve read, Officer Darren Wilson acted in self-defense and I believe any officer in the same situation would have acted in a similar way. I’m not excusing Wilson’s actions or condoning them in any way. I’m also not saying that what happened to the 18-year-old Brown is tragic, because it is. But if you’re going to break the law, however minor it is, just do what you’re asked. Sometimes it’s not worth it to “pick a fight” or “resist” in any way.

Do I believe some police officers abuse their power? Yes I do. Do I believe some may be racist or “bad cops?” Yes I do. This seems to happen in more populated areas and bigger cities. But, that does not mean all police or law enforcement officials are “bad.” Although, I do not have proof of this. It is just a feeling I have that there are “good cops” and “bad cops.” Just like there are “good people” and “bad people.”

Now, what happened to Eric Garner is tragic as well. But according to reports, Garner was not totally innocent. Apparently he had numerous arrests over the past several years, and many around the area in what would be the fatal showdown that took place last summer. A story about that appears below.

Garner Story

Again, no matter how big the crime, you’re still breaking the law. Additionally, with his criminal background and reports indicating that he was, at some point, selling untaxed cigarettes on that day, police have a duty to question suspects. Garner may not have been doing anything illegal at the time, but he was still suspected of selling those cigarettes. I have an understanding of how it must feel being accused of something and believing you are innocent or thinking that you have done nothing wrong, but sometimes it might just be easier to comply at the time. I know no one really wants to be accused of something that you believe you didn’t do and have to be “harassed” by police, but sometimes things happen beyond our control.

There is a video below showing the Garner incident and there are a few things to point out from the video. These are my observations and my opinions only. First, before the video started Garner had broken up a fight between two other individuals prior to the police stopping and begun questioning Garner. There were reports Garner was selling these illegal cigarettes and he fit the description police had. I’m assuming because of his prior criminal action and description, officers stopped and approached Garner. The video begins with officers questioning him and trying to arrest him, or at least bring him in for questioning. Garner stood up for himself and was denying any wrongdoing. Another thing about the video is Garner never really gets physically combative with the officers, but essentially he is resisting. He continues to yell and tell them to “get your hands off me.” He tells them “don’t touch me,” while trying to move away. That is resisting, plain and simple. The officers slowly approached him to make the arrest and that’s where it started. He was not complying so Officer Daniel Pantaleo attempted to bring him down with a “chokehold.” I don’t believe Pantaleo intended to put a chokehold on him, but it’s what happened. Thirdly, I don’t feel the other officers “swarming” around Garner after Pantaleo put the hold on him was an aggressive action by the officers. I think they went around him in order to bring him down safely so Garner wouldn’t hurt himself or others because he was not a small man. Next, Pantaleo released his “chokehold,” which only lasted about 12 or 13 seconds, and then put his face to the ground in an aggressive manner. However, I do not think he slammed his head to the pavement as some media and bystanders might have suggested it was. Next, the phrase “I can’t breathe” came out. If you notice in the video, Garner seemingly began saying the phrase after he was released from the “chokehold.” According to reports, he was still alive at the scene. He apparently died in transit to the hospital and was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Garner Video

So, he did not die of the illegal chokehold at the scene. Preliminary reports from the M.E. stated that Garner died because of compressions to the neck and chest. That may have been a part of it, but I don’t believe it was the cause. Garner had numerous health problems including asthma, obesity, heart problems and others. I for one can say that if someone had severe asthma it does not take much to exert one self into an asthma attack, especially if the person is overweight and has health conditions as Garner did. It can cause compression of the airways and not allow a person to be able to breathe correctly.

In these cases, I don’t believe it was racially motivated. Nothing I’ve seen or read about the cases proves to me they were racially motivated. Not that race hasn’t probably played a part in some cases elsewhere, or the actions of overzealous officers being too quick and judgmental of a situation resulted in killing innocent people, but these cases – Brown and Garner – I don’t feel had any racial motivation. It seems it’s what people want to put into it. I believe all of the officers in both of these situations would have performed in a similar fashion towards the suspects.

If you were in Officer Wilson’s shoes and there was a six foot, 200 lb. man coming towards you and was not slowing down and would not stop, what would you do? If a six foot, 200 lb. man was not complying and resisting arrest, what would you do? Police officers have a difficult job. Sometimes they have to make split second decisions in order to maintain their own safety or the safety of others, regardless if a suspect is armed or unarmed. I feel some of the intentions are good but don’t always result in good outcomes. Perhaps if people could walk a little in a police officer’s shoes in situations such as these, maybe they wouldn’t be as quick to judge.

Let’s Move On

The Confederate ‘Battle’ Flag has been removed from the state Capitol. People were chanting ”USA, USA…..” during the ceremony. Do these people not know they’re in the “USA?”

It is part of AMERICAN HISTORY. Not necessarily a proud time in American history, but a part of nonetheless.

Read a story about the flag ceremony here: Flag Removal Ceremony

I believe the flag was going to be put in a museum. So it’s still going to be displayed? Then what is the difference? And the flag has been flying there for something like a little more than half a century and all of the sudden in the last few weeks it’s become an issue? Give me a break. There were people with signs which hinted about moving on. Well I should think people need to move on. If some people view the flag as a symbol of racism and oppression, just move on. Again, it is part of our (United States) history. And now they want to look at other things that may be considered racist or demeaning, and possible remove those things? Come on! Apparently it wasn’t much of an issue until someone pointed it out.

Let’s all move on from the past. People need to let the hate go from their hearts and view it as a symbol of our past and how far we have supposedly come. But if people keep playing the race card or become offended by everything, then this country can’t move forward.

For example, there is someone who is now petitioning for ‘Cracker Barrel’ to change the restaurant’s name to the ‘Caucasian Barrel.’ Seriously? The restaurant has been around for how long? And now someone sees it as offensive? The petitioner says it offends ‘European Americans.’

Read the story here: Petition to Change Name

I mean REALLY! What’s next? Let’s take down the American Flag because it is also a symbol of oppression this country put on the Native Americans at a time when the U. S. Military didn’t have a problem with treating them like ‘lesser’ people.

Let’s remove all monuments and things that ‘remind’ us of the past. Let’s just forget about Rosa Parks and the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. because that represents a time of civil and racial unrest.

We should look at these pieces of history as learning points, because I do think that’s what we should be doing. I thought we made great progress in areas like this, but it really seems, in the 21st century, we’re reverting back to what it was a half a century or more ago.

Let’s learn from our mistakes, move on, and just try to get along.