Hate breeds hate

I posted a comment regarding immigration in response to a recent LinkedIn article, the meat of which is this:

I’m willing to bet that most people would agree that well-integrated migrants can be a boon. Unfortunately, we now have to overcome a justifiable anger resulting from the long years of contempt our elites have shown people over their very real concerns about un-integrated migrants. The backlash by the populace is both warranted and long overdue.

My dear old friend Ayo Phillips replied:

I agree with your point here. As you know I am an example of the type of integration you speak of. However as a culture, we are terrible at nuance. And the inability to deal with nuance breaks, roughly along educational lines. For those below some minimum acceptable educational level the inability to deal with nuance plays out as rage, anger, contempt and in many cases hate. I have personally been the recipient of such attitudes. So how do we have this conversation in the public sphere recognizing the need for integration, but not simultaneously arming uneducated people with a dangerous weapon?

I promised him a full answer to his question in this forum. So here goes…

Reasonable people can differ in how many immigrants their nations can appropriately absorb, and the level to which those immigrants should be expected to integrate with the host country’s norms: language, culture, social mores, and so on. These are all proper matters for lawmaking, public policy, and societal expectations, and have been so since the founding of the nation-state. And those things have forever produced anger, and yes, even hatred. My own grandparents experienced some of the same things Ayo himself has, as Irish immigrants a hundred years ago. It’s a sin that any of them or anyone like them experiences such treatment, as they’re the very example of immigrants who are an immense boon.

But haters gonna hate, as they so annoyingly say. As long as we’re fallible humans, we’ll never eradicate hatred. We can certainly minimize it, though. Probably the number one caution here is to keep in mind my title, “hate breeds hate.”

When it comes to immigration, and much else in politics and business, however, hate has become part of the norm. With respect to immigration in particular, it’s become a staple of the “debate” for one side to call those who believe our US laws should be enforced racists and xenophobes. This has gone on for years, which is why I say the backlash is long overdue. To most ordinary people, I’d think a reasonable starting point here should be that we enforce our existing laws, and those who don’t like them work through the political process to get them changed. Instead we have officials at all levels, right up to the current President of the United States, who believe their moral superiority allows them to pick and choose which laws should be enforced. This is a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, officials at all levels heap scorn on anybody who suggests that those who come to our country should adapt to our ways, rather than the other way around. And let’s not get foolish here: nobody expects an Ayo Phillips to give up every old custom. My Dad’s grandparents came from Poland in the late 1800s, and he still celebrates the Wigilia every Christmas Eve. He just doesn’t insist that everybody else does, or that they speak and write in Polish for him. If Dad were to fly the Polish flag while stomping on the Stars and Stripes, I think he’d fully understand if people didn’t react well to that.

This extends beyond immigration, too. In business, we’ve had a full generation now of the “diversity” project, and elements of that even in the early 1990s involved training by “experts” that was nothing more than hate-filled propaganda sessions against the majority population. Today’s move to make workplaces more accommodating to women has unfortunately begotten a constant, officially-sanctioned hatred against men, as I wrote on LinkedIn some months ago. In both of those cases, what started as advocacy has become open discrimination against the innocent, which certainly doesn’t help quell the anger that feeds hatred. And just a couple days ago, actress Meryl Streep let loose about how angry she was that so many of us fail to conform to her warped world view, heaping her venom not just on our incoming President, but on those of us so lacking in refinement as to enjoy mixed martial arts and football. (Yes, sometimes hate can become downright laughable.)

I struggle desperately to understand why some people who say they want to effect change believe that a constant stick in the eye of the people they’re trying to convince is the way to go. (Though I’m guessing Meryl Streep isn’t paying me any attention.) Through much of my life I’ve been constantly amazed and appalled at how much of this kind of treatment good people will quietly tolerate. Again I say, the backlash is long overdue, and it certainly isn’t hate to push back against the hateful.

It is a difficult balancing act, though, to push back appropriately without feeding further hatred. So to wrap up, dear Ayo: “So how do we have this conversation in the public sphere recognizing the need for integration, but not simultaneously arming uneducated people with a dangerous weapon?” One key way is for all of us, on all sides of the debate, to constantly keep in mind that immortal line read by Miss Greer Garson in The Little Drummer Boy:

And he knew at last that the hate he had carried there [in his heart] was wrong, as all hatred will ever be wrong.

A life to learn from , part 2

mom

The day I published the “part 1” of this title, about my Dad’s cousin Bernie Vinoski, is the day my Mom died.

One thing I hadn’t played up with Bernie is how his was a life of constant service. That trait has been reinforced in my reading lately. I mentioned in another previous blog entry about reading Clayton Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life?, which stresses that virtue. I’ve also been reading all of WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle’s writings, most recently his dispatches from the North Africa campaign. Of his many stories from those early war days were some about the extremely demanding duties of the doctors and nurses in the forward hospital units, who worked like dogs and lived like paupers – and were the happiest they’d ever been.

Julia Teresa “Dooley” (Cosgrove) Vinoski’s life was one of constant service, too. As my brother John said in his eulogy, hers was the service of a stay-at-home mom of seven kids, a laudable undertaking in itself – but it was so much more, whether that meant scaring off nighttime prowlers with a rifle in backwoods West Virginia, or running the whole show for that huge family while my Dad fought forest fires out west every summer when we were little, or becoming a cafeteria cook at our Catholic high school once we kids were mostly self-sufficient. Two of my favorite old memories of Mom were of her serving us: hand-washing our basketball practice clothes every single weeknight during the high school season, and having nice hot chili ready for dinner when Dad and we kids would drag in from a long, cold day of wintertime firewood cutting.

You’d think that would be a life of drudgery, boredom and frustration. But like those overburdened doctors and nurses in Ernie Pyle’s dispatches, Mom was one of the happiest people anyone had ever met. At her funeral at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hurley, Wisconsin, Father Frank told of the Celtic spiritual legend of “thin places,” spots where Heaven and Earth are closer together than normal – in those myths, usually the barren, rocky mountaintops and seacoasts of Ireland. He spoke of his own experience of visiting Mom the past few months at the nursing home where she was trying to recover from recent injuries and surgeries, and of being amazed at how much joy she had despite her numerous health problems and our loss of my sister Michelle in August. He was convinced Mom was a personification of those thin places of her parents’ native land.

And I believe she still is. The day before her funeral, I awoke from a dream I don’t remember. But the last sound in that dream still echoed for a few moments even as I became fully conscious. It was the sound of my Mom laughing. (I don’t believe my Mom has any influence over the weather, but given her hatred of the harsh winters of her adopted hometown in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she must have gotten a big old chuckle over the multi-day blizzard that raged there the week of her funeral.)

My heart aches and I miss her terribly. But I know she’s okay (and free of the pain she’s suffered for a long, long time) and that I’ll see her again. In the meantime, as with our cousin Bernie, I have the challenge of living up to the example she set for me.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.

PS – Dooley could do a whale of a Bennie Hill impression.

A life to learn from

bernie

One of my heroes was buried Friday.

Bernard B. Vinoski, Sr, MD, Colonel, US Air Force (Ret), was my dad’s cousin. They grew up together in little South Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

His obituary is here – in it you can read all about his life of incredible accomplishment and service.

To me, he was at first just a name, one that shared my last name, in a famous lady’s book. Anita Bryant mentioned him several times in print because he was her physician and friend, so at a very young age I knew of Bernie Vinoski.

I didn’t get to meet him until I was in my mid-thirties. Miss ViVi and I lived near Atlanta at the time and decided to join some old college friends for a week on the beach at Hilton Head, South Carolina, a short drive from where Bernie and his lovely wife Joyce lived in Beaufort. At that point, some of my siblings had already met him, and knowing we’d be near him, we contacted him to see if he would like to join us for lunch.

He did, in his own way. He directed us to take a carriage tour of beautiful Beaufort, then come out to his house to eat. We did; the tour was lovely, and then we learned later that day that there are no strangers to Joyce and Bernie Vinoski. We were dear family, not newcomers to their home – and so were our friends. It was the first of a number of visits we made over the years, and our reception and time with them were always the same. Miss ViVi put it best: “When I visited them, my IQ went up by twenty or thirty points, and I felt like an 11 on a 10-point scale.”

It amazes me to think now that our total time together measured in mere hours, which seems ridiculous given the space Joyce and Bernie take up in my heart.

I learned important things from Bernie. I knew my dad’s childhood was far from idyllic, but he talked little about it. Bernie revealed some of the horrors my dad experienced, and I got the sense that Bernie tried to help as best he could.

Bernie met me at a time when I didn’t think I wanted children, and somehow knew that I’d change my mind. My sons got to meet Joyce and him the last time we saw him, and I’m awfully, awfully glad they did (and that he was right).

I’ve been a World War II buff since childhood, and was fascinated to learn Bernie had been a bombardier on B-29s in the Pacific. I told him once I was reading a book about Iwo Jima, and he said, “Thank God for those boys who took that island. We had to ditch our plane there shortly after they took it, and if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here talking to you.” But he also shared that before he and his crew were retrieved from the island, they woke up one morning to discover that the men in the foxhole next to theirs had had their throats slit in the night by enemy interlopers. Joyce knew never to shake him awake because of that. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for those who’ve fought for my freedom, and Bernie’s stories made it that much deeper.

His story about decided when he started his practice as a family physician that he’d find something else to do after 25 years still sticks with me. He was getting close to that mark, and shared his concern about it with the Air Force recruiters who had an office near to his. It didn’t take them long to land him as a Flight Surgeon. He was probably around my age at the time – I hope I can be as open to new adventures!

Bernie’s passing comes just days after my previous post about reassessing my life. Now I’ve firmly decided to try to be more like him. I seriously doubt I have the years or ability to match his accomplishments, or the demeanor to match his gregariousness, but a man can try.

This is the first time I’ve simultaneously felt such a terrible sadness for losing someone dear, and a great joy for having known such a man.

 

Rethinking Things

My little sister Michelle passed away almost three months ago.

I decided at the time to rethink some things in my life, though I’ll admit I’ve been somewhat adrift with that effort. I’ve committed to making some progress before the year ends.

I picked this book up not long after she died, started it briefly, then put it down. I just started reading it again today, and I think it’s going to awfully helpful. More to come as I progress.

She was a writer, so I’ve committed to doing more writing myself. So I’m off to a start on that, anyway…

This is probably much more effective at retaining customers than anything the Columbia Record Club did

“Do not stop taking Xarelto without consulting the doctor who prescribed it, as this will increase the risk of stroke.”

Some random thoughts on fertility, feminism and modern young women

This article gave me something of a start.  I had no idea until I read it that our son AJ, now six, had a less than 5% chance of ever coming into this world.

My wife was just shy of 42 when he was born.  Our older son John had come along almost exactly three years earlier.  You see, I just wasn’t sure for a long, long time that I even wanted kids, which was just plain stupid but there you go.

I count my blessings that I got to bumble along until I was nearly 40 before I finally figured things out, then was able to have two happy, healthy boys with my dear wife.  Now I know most bumblers like me aren’t so lucky.

I’m not even sure what drove my reluctance.  Part was probably seeing many friends have kids earlier and become complete slugs, doing nothing with their lives but working and taking care of children.  I wasn’t wise enough to know that was a choice they made, and I could make a different one.  Part may have been my growing up in a large family and just wanting to enjoy having money and relative solitude and comfort for a while (not that I was ever poor or wanted for anything important).  And part was certainly our modern sickness that devalues having children when we’re supposed to have children.

In that vein, I feel very, very sorry for our young women today.  Modern society tells them they can have it all — that they DESERVE to have it all and if they don’t someone is victimizing them.  Trouble is, the ones victimizing them are the ones spouting this “wisdom.”  The real wisdom is in reality as spelled out in the article at the link above:  once these young women get their degrees, work a while, get advanced degrees and work some more, while traveling and living the good life, many of them will find that they may not be able to get husbands and even if they do, may not be able to have children.  And too late they’ll realize that the one thing they can’t have is the one thing that will, for the vast majority of us, in any way be our lasting legacy in this world.

As an aside, it’s equally sad and victimizing that feminists have succeeded in making the worst male behaviors — self-centeredness, prurience and lasciviousness, commitment-phobia and living for trivial things — the things most celebrated in our popular culture about being a woman nowadays.  There are three generations and counting that are suffering because of this horribly destructive ideology, and I truly feel sorry for them, and for our society that let this happen with scarcely a whimper.

Real science and real scientists

This is a very interesting article, about the recent evolution vs. creation debate between Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Ken Ham, who built the Creation Museum just down the road from me.

On the one hand, it gave me a fresh dollop of respect for Nye, who has struck me as completely batty with regard to climate change.  It’s deeply impressive any time somebody shows the wherewithal to engage in a public debate.

On the other hand, it only reinforced my belief that we have very few real scientists anymore, and few people who get what science is.  The last couple lines of the article say it all:

 The debate with Nye “has drawn countless believers and unbelievers alike to consider the Creation Museum’s teachings about the true history of the universe,” wrote an AIG staffer after the debate.

For mainstream scientists, it’s a terrifying thought.

The notion that people might consider the alternative to unchallenged “science,” or that scientists might actually have to defend their findings, is “terrifying?”  What the hell do they think they’re supposed to do?  Dictate their beliefs to everybody, completely unchallenged?

I’ve long adhered to Karl Popper’s definition of science:  it begins with a theory that can be shown to be false through some test or other.  Then it’s actually tested.  Over and over.  The more tests it passed, the better a theory it is.  And pretty much nothing is ever certain.

Climate change is the perfect example of non-science.  I’ve never heard a single way of testing it.  Indeed, its adherents mainly grab “evidence” post hoc — lots of storms?  Climate change.  Cold winter?  Climate change.  Hot summer?  Climate change.  Drought?  Climate change.  Heavy rains?  Climate change.  What a sweet gig.  But it sure ain’t science.  Indeed, all the talk of “established consensus” and “the debate is over” is a dead giveaway that it’s metaphysics, not science.  It’s a faith thing, a pseudo-religion.

Now, back to the Nye-Ham debate.  I’m glad it happened, but Ham isn’t a scientist either — he says there’s nothing that would change his opinion.  That’s metaphysics.  That being said, it’s refreshing to see someone actually defend a scientific theory, instead of trying to bully people into buying it.

But if Nye would apply the same standard he’s grabbed with regard to evolution, and apply it to everything he calls science — especially climate change — then he just might become a real scientist.

Low impact is all you need? Uh, no

I remember back when my first son was born and got old enough to tear around our yard.  I — in great cardiovascular shape from decades of extreme bicycling — felt BRITTLE running around the yard with him.  It was around that time I read an article in on a cycling website that doing only low-impact exercise (like cycling) would lead to bone loss and poor overall condition.

It was about the same time I was pushed by some coworkers into doing a charity run (they had beer afterwards).  I was shocked to feel great during and after the run.  I’d run some in earlier years and always hated it because of the pain.  Now it felt great.

I started throwing it in as cross-training in the winter.  Then I decided that if I was going to be a runner, I had to do a marathon.  I did a few shorter races then trained up and suffered through one.  And trained more and did another.  And since then I’ve done a number of half marathons and shorter races.

It’s still painful sometimes.  But so is bicycling.  But now I can chase both my boys around the yard without any trouble.

And here’s a more recent article confirming everything I’ve experienced.

Vibrating football games — load of ’70s fun!

Today at the barber shop my older son Johnny Shizzle-Cakes invented a football kind of game you play on a checkerboard.

That got me thinking about the vibrating football game we had when I was a kid in the ’70s.  Were those things the worst or what?  You always had the linebackers who would lock arms and go in circles together.  And remember the quarterbacks?  You had the magnetic “ball” that you flung across the field with the spring-loaded throwing arm, hoping the “ball” might somehow stick to the base of one of your players, and that he might actually head in the right direction.  And not hit a “dead zone” of non-vibrating field.  Even if he kept moving, plays took about a half hour each.

They actually still make those things.  Seriously — see below.  How do they sell ’em anymore with all the computer games today?

Power Pro Electric Football Game

Raising wimps?

I came across this excellent article tonight.

Here’s the comment I posted:

Great article, and spot-on. If you’re a dad of younger kids and “shake it off” isn’t something you say regularly, you’re part of the problem.

When I lived in Minnesota, I was seriously freaked out by the many dads I came across at parks who admonished their kids not to climb UP the slides. Seriously?!? Here in Indiana where I live now, I haven’t heard that kind of thing once. Much happier as a Hoosier, and feeling better about my sons’ surroundings.