Global Awareness- A Growing Problem by Scott Hall

In the last few months, our nation and the global citizenry have seen several infractions of human rights, questionable behaviors and serious law and political goof ups; Image Credit: www.classwarfareexists.com

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5.30.2017

Balance of Power

Article by: Scott Hall (scotthall.cnj@gmail.com)
            When in History, has the USA ever had a true “balance of power”? This question was shared with me not long after I announced that I was working on writing what you and many others are about to read.  A real thought is crossing the minds of millions of American citizens, has our elected government gone a bit too far or are we not focused on more “real” issues, is there an abuse of power, is there any power at all?  Healthcare repeal debacles, Immigration bans that flopped before they could be enacted, trying times many see here in the USA, even parts of our globe now think we are lead by blindness to deeper items, it is not a secret that the GOP or Republicans, are the majority of the political party in the Congress and the Presidency.  What does this all mean, will we survive the next four years without losing our values or killing off our poor or elderly to make way for a have or have not society?  Let us put on our truth glasses and examine what a balance of power means, branch by branch, and see for ourselves.
CONSTITUTION 101
            The first three sections of the Constitution of the United States, deal with the separation of powers, also referred to as the “balance of power”.  Those three branches are: The Executive, The Legislative and The Judiciary, thus, dividing the power of our government into three parts.  These separation of powers, was well thought out by our founding fathers, they established this to avoid tyranny by allowing the three parts to work together to accomplish tasks poised in this great nation and made them independent of one another, so that no one branch could execute more power than another without being – “Checked” by the other 2, this is also known as the system of checks and balances.  Each branch of the government as is listed in the Constitution has its own duties and responsibilities: The Executive branch – The President, implements the laws; The Legislative – The Congress, they make the laws; The Judiciary – The Supreme Court, they interpret the laws and decide on legal controversies.  This system of government, is credited to James Madison, at the Constitutional convention of 1787, Madison took a lead role in persuading the developers of the document we now know as our Constitution, to have the provisions for a separation of powers, by balancing government with a system that checks to make sure that no one branch had too much control. 
            An example of this type of system occurs every year; we know it as Tax Day, usually around April the 15th of every year.  Congress passes legislation in the tax laws, which the President appoints a director of the Internal Revenue Service to collect those taxes and the Supreme Court oversees to make sure that the laws are applied correctly.  Though a simple example, the idea is that no one branch can do anything alone, therefore, dividing up decisions into the three parts of government, just to collect the taxes for their budget, a budget that varies year to year, but has a large base to operate.  Those are more complex discussions, we will put this aside for now, but the idea here is clear, the laws of the land are created by Congress, put into action by the President (who can also Veto, which means “reject”) and interpreted by a Judicial branch, to insure that things are Constitutional.  This brings us to our next topic, in our USA now, many persons feel that the current President, Donald Trump is over reaching his power and that perhaps, Congress is allowing it by creating new rules, I’ve even heard it called similar to a crying child getting louder and louder until it gets its way.  Let us take a look and see if this indeed is true to form or is the President and our government blowing smoke around.
            When we think of “Balance of Power” many may envision a set of scales where one side must at least equal the other in order to be balanced, however, over many decades things were not so “peachy keen” when it comes to what each President sees as the power within their branch of government.  Dateline: 1952, President Truman seizes control of some steel mills, during the Korean war, a six member majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the President had over exceeded his authority, but also said “…the powers of the President are not limited to those solely expressed in Article II of the Constitution.” – had the Congress decided to not disapprove the extension of power, the action by the president would have been upheld and those mills would have been under presidential control.  This case is listed as Youngtown Sheet and Tube Company vs. Sawyer (1952).  The president isn’t the only one to face such woes while in office; the Congress is subject to this same scrutiny as well.
            In a case known as Morrison vs. Olson, the constitutionality of a special prosecutor was brought into focus by the courts (related to the Ethics in Government Act), this one, was tough, they had to determine which branch the special prosecutor belonged so that no one branch had this sole authority to call for one over the other.  In fact, Justice Rehnquist upheld the provisions within the Act, whereas Justice Scalia said, “the opinion of the court is a revolution in Constitutional Law” adding, “without separation of powers, the Bill of Rights is worthless”, this, circa 1980’s.  The courts ruled during the Nixon administration and all its woes that executive privilege, the power that is given to the president to not share certain information with other branches of government, is “not absolute” and “presumptive of power of privilege”, in short, this means no secrets can be harbored by one branch and no one check it to make sure it isn’t a breach of power, Nixon felt that power slip and avoided impeachment, Clinton came real close as well, so those powers are there, even if not in the face of all Americans on a daily basis. 
It would serve well at this point to mention that our government may be three branches but there are a few persons who make up this group: Legislative Branch; The Senate – 100 persons; The House of Representatives – 435 persons; Executive Branch; The President, The Vice President, Cabinet Members or advisors to the office of the President, including persons for Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, etc., (all appointed Cabinet members to the President, must be approved by the Senate with at least 51 votes or a ‘majority’, as is written in the Constitution); Judicial Branch; The Supreme Court, consisting of 9 members, whom are nominated by the President and again, must be approved by the Senate with 51 votes.  Oh, but wait, if this is the simple rule, why then did we hear the Senate enact “The Nuclear Option” in approving the latest appointee, or a better question:
            What is the Nuclear Option? Well, in a nut shell, the nuclear option is a last-resort, break in case of emergency way for the majority party in the Senate to overcome obstruction by the minority, by changing the rules of the Senate to avoid costly filibusters that could prevent or block approvals or legislation that would greatly affect the status of the US.  The rules in the current Senate require 60 votes to be a majority, but the nuclear option actually takes a step back to the Constitution, only requiring 51 votes, not just a party line, a pragmatic way to speed up the process “in case of emergency”, much like filling an empty seat in a 9 member panel so that no “ties” could happen, perhaps or perhaps not, we will leave history to decide that fate. Isn’t learning that the rhetoric our government uses as leverage of power nothing more than double talk for this is what the Constitution says - fun to know, don’t worry it isn’t for this author either, but then again, doesn’t absolute power corrupt absolutely, indeed it does and allegedly we have a checks and balance system in our government, in truth, we have smoke and mirrors when we instantly learn that the nuclear option is bologna and no, President Trump’s Congress isn’t alone in those words, Nixon, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and others have used it.  Now, knowing this one must ask, since when can the Senate change their own rules, that’s a great question, but not one for now, perhaps another examination by our Truth Glasses in a different article.
            This current administration, clarifying by listing Donald Trump as the current President of the United States, has seen a large amount of drama, turmoil, controversy and tons of things that are making the public pick sides on which is right or wrong by the country as a whole and in essence, the things that should bring America back to greatness (which on a personal note, I don’t think America has ever had a “not so great” title attached to it, I am sure historians or fact checkers could do that, so I will leave that to them).  What we have had, is a load of stuff that makes us feel penalized just for living within these borders, we also see real threats from outside, that we all question, “Just how crazy are things going to get?” The people of this land expect our leaders to maintain efficiency, defense against enemies, have good trade and stimulate the economy so that jobs will be created and we can all take our shot at the “American Dream”. So now that the whole fiasco over Russia has came out and many fingers are being pointed, tweets that either “Slam” or are “Unfair” rise to the top, people going literally hardcore over basic issues that we all want solved, unfortunately, in this current struggle for power, there is indeed an imbalance. 
BALANCE OF POWER!
            First, let us explore what an Executive Order is and does; A presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a Federal Statute, a Constitutional Provision or a Treaty.  The power to issue an executive order comes from Congress and the Constitution; it gives the president a power to set policy, without Congressional approval. In the specific issuance of this President’s immigration orders, it is issued under statutory authority from Congress and has the effect of law and enforceable immediately. So the challenge to the law is simple under US Law, this type of authority action, being enforceable by Congressional Law, can and is subject to Federal Courts to determine if the law is fair and just under the Constitution.
            President Trump has been noted as saying that he and his administration are being treated unfairly, many of his supporters are saying; give the man a chance to do his job.  In truth, he has only been in office for about 5 months, so for many to cry out that he has had plenty of chances, keep in mind, he still has quite a way to go before this first term is over.  Along his campaign trail, this former candidate and now office holder said or did some of the most unthinkable things anyone has probably ever heard on a campaign trail.  For a period of about a year, the only advertisements that went on air, were news stories of: Going to build a wall, going to repeal healthcare, going to shake up the trade world, going to strengthen our military, work on our infrastructure, punish those who try to build in another country to avoid taxes, lowering taxes and the list goes on.
            Not only, did these things fill the air, but along side of them, fights breaking out in rally’s from anti support groups and Trump himself saying, “Beat the crap outta ‘em”, then, the infamous mockery of the disabled news reporter, along with “Dirty Mexicans”, an invitation to Russia to openly hack Clinton and the infamous emails, a smack to China as well as ISIS and I will spare you the rest, but the message received by many was one of hate, bullying, narcissism, bigotry, power mongering and warned this may not be the person we want. What the GOP had offered up, was someone who would, “Drain the swamp”. A great idea, if it could be done and if it could be done, would it be done legally, our Truth Glasses must know.
            First, we will take a look at his Executive Order, on immigration, the first one. In January / February of 2017, the newly elected President wrote an executive order that banned travel and entry to many immigrants and entrants into the United States, the day it was implemented, airports and transportation went into a brief chaos.  Then, around the 4th of February, a Federal appeals judge rejected the restoration of his executive action, which primarily focused on Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, it was stopped cold and the President, tweeted this “The opinion of this ‘so-called’ judge is ridiculous and will be overturned!” The judge’s reasoning was that there was no support for the administration’s argument that we are directly under threat from any of those nations.  President Trump decided that after failing in an appeals court, he would again issue a new Executive Order, which once again, was rejected. 
            This President cried out against many, even citing the “relaxed” stance of the former administration’s policies, which by the way, Obama had his share of woes with immigration reform as well, June 23, 2016, President Obama said this after the Supreme Court blocked his Executive Authority, “For more than 2 decades, our immigration system has been broken and the fact that the Supreme Court couldn’t issue a decision today (they were split on the issue), hurts our country even further and takes us away from the country we aspire to be.” This means that the issue has been a huge one, since around 2001/2002, not long after a national tragedy, I can imagine that many in the Supreme Court look closely at the laws when it comes to those things, President Bush initiated several new policies, policies that have kept many things from happening, but also allowed for others to go unnoticed or directly challenged. 
            This is why we have a balance of power in these issues, so that no one President or Congress or Supreme Court Justice, can make a personal stance that goes against our founding fathers words in a document, created to avoid, Tyranny. The link to the original issuance of the Executive Order is at the bottom of this article, I encourage you all to read it and decide for yourself if it fits what we want, remember, Iraq, Libya are two countries we invaded and pretty much armed the “resistance” while the others are known Al-Qaeda or other terrorist group spots, with all of them having victims of this type of behavior and those who are serious about fleeing, having to go abroad, not just the USA. So, this is a prime example of how our system oversees things to insure there is clarity and legality in all that each branch does. Let’s move on.
            Among the many campaign issuances, was Trump’s promise to carry out a full repeal and replacement of the ACA, affectionately known as “Obama care” a health care law, that among the many expansions of coverage to the poor, was also a huge taxation to those who were currently paying premiums, promising no one would have to lose coverage and closing the gap on Medicare patients, from its inception to current day, one of the most contested issues in recent American history. Not long after the immigration issue, in March of 2017, members of his affiliated party went right to work, along the way, members of Congress reading, discussing it, some even calling it “Obama care light” pushed their way through it all and came up with the American Health Care Act, but failed to do one crucial thing: Get a majority vote to implement it.  The idea died and the President was noted as stating, “The best thing that could have happened, did happen, watch and see….it (the ACA) will implode, the Democrats will have no choice then but to come to us and say, let’s get together” Although controversial, many Americans agree, we all need health care coverage especially in the wake of rising pharmaceutical and hospitalization costs and that at some point, the markets have to be controlled, whether those companies like it or not, even the wealthiest of Americans may in fact sink a majority of their money into a surgery, if and when needed, the only answer here is bipartisan ship, one that keeps the good things and either eliminates the bad ones or makes corrections that reduce the pains of the costs, Congress voting, another example of the balance of power, needed to be upheld, in this country.
            We will close this article with a couple of quick facts and then a look at the Russia scandal facing our nation.  First, Mr. Trump was not going to sign legislation that extended the operation of the Federal Government, unless money for his wall promise was inserted into the bill, then of course, he retracted that notion, once they explained to him “we don’t have that much to spend right now”, he signed the extension, but it only goes to November, keep our fingers crossed, things don’t go spinning away like a marble on a slanted table. Mr. Trump, said he would drain the swamp, in his cabinet, he has made history, he has hired more Goldman Sachs persons to be in his cabinet than any other president in history, mostly investors and yep, stock exchange people, no wonder the markets exploded, they saw opportunity to control the nation, sitting right next to the most powerful seat in the world, but again, we will save that for another article, our focus right now, is Russia and the important probe going on of whether or not that country, influenced or had direct collusion with our now, President Trump.
            As each week passed by, from the onset of Mr. Trump’s inauguration, more and more bizarre items began to emerge, including the President pseudo blocking the members of the press from a crucial meeting with a Russian Ambassador.  Well, turns out, they were not alone in that room, a few photo’s emerged, then it was learned that intelligence secrets were “shared” almost openly, suddenly, a few members of his cabinet, such as Mr. Flynn, get subpoenaed on what they know, his own son in law also looked at for information, an FBI Director fired, a former CIA person testifying that Trump’s campaign was on their radar for a while and now, members of the cabinet resigning as well as a host of questions surrounding all this conflict and the low resonance of Impeachment, beginning to come into question.  The president, of course, continues to move about the world, even shoving world leaders aside as though his presence was more important than anyone in the room.  His visit around his holiness, the Pope, well, a picture is worth a thousand words, if you haven’t seen it (and not the meme’s), take a look and watch a smile fade from one’s face the moment he makes eye contact.  Looking at all this chaos and seemingly free abuse of power, to answer the question of whether or not to impeach him and anyone else who hasn’t or doesn’t resign, is simply to look at what is required to consider it:
            In the United States of America, Impeachment proceedings begin in Legislative Branch and in essence equates to some criminal charges while in office, however, Congress has in the past considered prior to the office when deciding to impeach and only two presidents have been successfully impeached, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon does not count as he resigned his seat before impeachment came knocking; by the way, grounds for impeachment are: Treason, Bribery or ‘other high crimes and misdemeanors’.  The House of Representatives or more correctly any member therein, can bring about these charges at any time, in fact throughout history, several impeachment proceedings have came to light, though rarely fought vigorously, that is because the Senate has the final say so over the charges brought about, pretty much the House brings the charges and presents the evidence, the Senate oversees it much like a trial, where both sides can call witnesses to testify and along the in between, specific committees are set up for the particular type of charge/crime being presented.  If convicted in the Senate, the official is immediately discharged of their service and may also not be able to hold other offices or political posts.
            Now, since there are lots we know, highlights and tidbits of things going on, the question is, has this administration committed an act, that would mandate an Impeachment process?  Here is where it gets tricky, first, we must ask, has the House or any of its members presented this idea and if not, why not.  Trump admitted to firing director James Comey from the FBI as a result of the intensifying investigation going on into the extend of Russian involvement in the US Election or further.  Trump also tweeted, a rant about leaking recordings of conversations with a Federal Agent before he was fired.  Each person along the lines of the probe has either “excused” themselves or resigned or gets the Presidential version of “You’re Fired”.  Collusion with a known enemy of the United States is Treason, that aside, there is an obvious obstruction of justice charge in an ongoing investigation and yet, not a sound nor a word from the House about impeachment….yet.  As in any lawful investigation into a crime, evidence has to be gathered, which as this article is being typed, several persons have been asked to respond to the inquiry, along with piecing together other items and if enough evidence is presented, remember the in between special committees, well the probe is one of that type – anyway, once the evidence is gathered and enough concrete items come to pass, indeed, I am confident that someone in our House of Representatives will speak up, not for the people they represent, but for the very Constitution they took an oath to uphold, protect and ensure, from here, the only item remaining: Time, or more correctly, The necessary amount of time for our Democracy to show why we have a Balance of Power in place and never forget, when you grow weary of the same old ideas, and feel the need to shake things up, start first with Congress, those are the ones who represent you, instead of an unlimited ticket, give them term limits, take away their pensions, make them pay for the very same services we all do and yeah, they can keep the salary, so long as they work more than 10 months a year and if not, then let us all work to Balance that Power as well.
            One last thought before I close, Presidents are not the only ones that have been looked at for Impeachment, that list includes: July 7, 1797: William Blount, US Senator; March 12, 1804: Samuel Chase, US Supreme Court Associate Justice; March 2, 1876: William W. Belknap; US Secretary of War.
            The Constitution for the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was completed on September 17, 1787, with its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was later ratified by special conventions in each state. It created a federal union of sovereign states, and a federal government to operate that union. It replaced the less defined union that had existed under the Articles of Confederation. It took effect on March 4, 1789 and has served as a model for the constitutions of numerous other nations. The Constitution of the United States of America is the oldest written national constitution in use.  
           

3.08.2017

The Gong ~ Addiction and the sound it makes.

            ‘The times they are a changing’ and this author agrees whole heartedly.  Thanks in part to developments in just about every industry, things are indeed changing.  While the many changes we see are positive or have good effects, with them has come a new era of problems and addictions.  In my own community drugs like Heroin and Methamphetamine are nearing “serious problematic” levels and infiltrating our children’s schools and our communities. Addictions are not always slated to be chemical; they can be organic or even artificial and not as clear in their ill side effects as the ones we all know, such as drinking and driving or gambling.  I was sitting in my home, observing some of the things that teenagers do (my children’s circle of friends) and instead of turning up the TV to drown out teen chatter, I decided to listen and as I did, aside from the thousands of memories of my own that came flooding back, something came to mind that I shared with my children, saying specifically this, “Every addict has a gong inside them that only they can hear.” This being said in reference to some of the things I overheard about what was happening to others they know or friends they haven’t seen in a few years and had developed, including teen pregnancy or what I call babies having babies. This article will expand on those types of gongs, their potential effects and hopefully will bring about some conversations that lead to healing our poisoned minds and bodies.
THE BASICS
            Merriam-Webster defines addiction as a compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance (such as drugs or alcohols) characterized by tolerance and well defined symptoms upon withdrawal or more broadly: a persistent compulsive use of something by a user known to be harmful or cause harm to that user.  We are all familiar with the traits of drug and alcohol abuse, the behaviors, the broken families, the in depth reach the abuse has to not just the abuser, but friends and families as well, if not, you can watch less than a week’s worth of Dr. Phil or any sensationalized talk show and see it firsthand (if you aren’t already living with someone in that kind of trouble).  Let’s toss out the addiction to drugs or alcohol for a moment and look at the more broad definition of addiction, the persistent compulsive use of something known to be harmful to the person - if we apply this to say the video game addict, that person would likely think us nuts if we said, “Hey, we have a treatment facility for addicts like you, would you put down the controller and give it a shot?” or what about the social media addict, “Stop Tweeting, you’re hurting your family and we can help you to overcome that”.  Crazy? Perhaps, but nonetheless true and a part of our society today.
            To understand what may motivate this style of thought, we need also to look at the root word; Addict.  By definition (MW Defining again) to devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.  Within the two defined realms, lies a common core, the habit or more perfectly a habit that can be or is harmful.  Harmful meaning - one of a few things, not just physical harm; perhaps mental, emotional, and psychological – the list of possibilities is lengthy.  For example, the person who spends most of their day on a computer or playing their video game consoles may become resistant to change when told “get up, get a job”, expressing anger, disgust, protest and other items, it is because their habit (one that like all others develops over a set period of time) is being disrupted and they are in fact in some way “addicted” to that behavior, the harmful effect being no motivation to become productive, upstanding citizens (yes parents, I can see a few head nods in agreement).  Another example could be the person who tweets everything, news, food, personal thoughts, all of it, each day they just can’t seem to break away from their phones including when they eat or are just sitting outside, the device might as well have an implant on their hip and lord help them if their candy ever gets crushed the wrong way, the saving grace against a rage quit is a shattered phone is costly vs. a game controller.  If we were to ask them to go without it for a couple of days, they may just turn pale, sweat or breathe heavily and protest or may even say sure but 2 hours later come knocking on your door pleading for the devices return, admit it, you know someone like this.  This habit / addiction is harmful, it robs the user of real interaction, of real emotions, let’s face it, if we could hear tone through text like the audible sounds we hear in conversation, there may be a whole lot less anger on the web. 
            In short in our opening basic look, addict and addiction share common threads and regardless of whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or electronics, addictions can come in a variety of challenges and while treatments are necessary and difficult for the drug or alcohol addict, how much more is it for the non substance addict.  As I mentioned earlier in this article, I said every addict has a gong inside them that only they can hear and when it rings out, the harmful behavior either overtakes their minds or their bodies or causes them to act or think irrationally and they just cannot help themselves, until they become strong enough to block it out or ignore its calling.  I will use a real life example for our first gong example, I am a tobacco user, I have been for a few years, when I first started, I was told, the habit will get harder to break, the longer you go – they are correct.  My gongs: Wake up to drink coffee have a “wake up smoke”, eat breakfast, “have a meal smoke”, go to work, have a “cig for the ride, smoke” and so on and so on, each time the gong to go smoke rang, I answered the call with no second thought, the habit now had developed a way of telling me, “it’s time to go take care of this”, this gong is always around, so, now that I am enrolled in a cessation program, I am hearing this gong even when I don’t necessarily wish it to be, the habit’s gong hasn’t forgotten me or its own wants.  Another example: You just had a bad day and learned you owe some money to the IRS, get upset, the brain grabs the mallet and “bwang! You need a smoke” to which the common phrase is, “I need a smoke break” or “I’m going to go smoke a cig and do some thinking, I will be right back” the gong is real and applies to every addict and addiction out there.
THE GONGS OF ADDICTIONS
            Addictions are sometimes characterized by compulsion or compulsive behavior but they can also be psychological or medically necessary (prescribed).  Among the many substance addictions, there are a few you may not know about, that are a part of modern medicine, in other words, what was created for a treatment became or is becoming something that creates or causes addiction, a partial list is as follows: Actiq (A cancer drug used for pain not relieved by other normal treatment medicines); Butalbital (A barbiturate which reduces anxiety and is mostly prescribed to treat tension headaches); Clonazepam (AKA Klonopin, A drug used to control seizures or to help with panic attacks, withdrawal symptoms are somewhat similar to Meth or Heroin, including shakiness, vomiting and sweating); The gongs are loud in these three items, each as helpful as they are harmful, for the patient a blessing, for the abuser, hell on wheels.  Each designed to help with the pains or problems in life such as drug addiction, alcohol abuse, the effects of carcinogenic components and help with uncontrolled anxiety, each “out there” in the black markets and neighborhoods where our children play and friends we know live and work, each answering the calls of the thousands of gongs ringing out for the euphoric high or escape they can bring.
            Some gongs simply cannot be helped, these are known as impulse disorders, the gong sounds and anytime the answerer has an opportunity to satisfy the calling, they will or do, some by any means necessary.  Among these types of gongs are gambling, pyromania and kleptomania.  I have never met someone who had an uncontrolled impulse to burn things, but I have known many who will spend their last dime on a “sure bet” rather than eat, and have known a few whom stole half their wardrobe by simple sleight of hand; again, a harmful effect as a result of answering the call of the gong within, including destroying relationships, jobs and a self destruction that may bring about feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to them, point them in the direction of help, and let them know they don’t have to answer the call every time it rings out.  Remember, addictions do not have to be chemical or substance abuse, they can be behavioral and may include what we would call “everyday items”. Things like being addicted to food, sex, pornography viewing, the internet, social media, working, exercising, cutting oneself and yes, even spiritual addiction (not religious devotion).  Let’s look back a moment, to the broader definition of addiction, we can see that it applies to nearly everything we as a human race can potentially be or are addicted to, the difference is we see some of these as “not as harmful” and tend to miscatergorize them or make fun of the people who have those addictions, to the point that we don’t give the addictions or their grip the credit or power they deserve.   To this point, we have seen many examples of the result, of the gong’s control and callings that addicts and addiction know all too well, but I have yet to explain the gong itself, although I am sure you may have an idea by now of what it implies.
            The “Gong” Signs: 1 – Someone you know is struggling mentally or physically with the behavior or item that has them in their grips as a result of not being able to stop (without help). 2 – Relationships, whether or not intimate, suffer as the person who is wrestling with the problem they have, allows it to grow out of control; sometimes this spills over into their job environment, they may seem down or not themselves and work becomes taxing or toxic.  3 – The person’s total environment breaks down due to consequences not seen by the initial addictions grip (example, time spent focusing on addiction robs from quality time in other areas) and results in extreme behaviors, items like “you’ve stopped spending time with me” or “why haven’t you been around” become a conversation.  4 – Regardless of how harsh the punishment or stiff the consequences, the person refuses to stop, they refuse to listen to reason and insist what they are doing is okay or without worry (they are willing to lose their home, jobs, etc to get what they want, a big part of # 3’s side effects, this includes a lack of interest in relationships or a willingness to lose the person they love as they are just “getting in the way”).
             The Gong’s sounds: “You’re only 1 level away from beating the game”; A focus on a digitized environment that robs the person from work, they may or may not be motivated and usually can be found at home nearly all the time, resistive to chores or anything social other than a headset and a bag of chips; “You’ve got mail”; Notification or personalization audio specific to a function or result of digitized applications or internet item, which causes the addict to check every time they hear it or worse, place on social media every inch of what they read or do including making sure they haven’t missed a moment, even if that moment is literally one minute apart; “I’ve had a bad day, I need a fix”, Depression, Anxiety or Stress that leads the person to seek out the euphoric escape of a high in the form of alcohol, drugs or other “outlets” some would say, “Comfortably Numb”; “Come on, everyone’s doing it” or “You need to chill out, try this” Peer pressures or wanted acceptance that leads to behaviors you wouldn’t normally do; such as smoke some marijuana or take a feel good pill just to fit in or “be cool”; “If I don’t have it, I will get sick” A heroine or methamphetamine user’s nightmare, to combat the body’s physical withdrawal, they ‘must’ have it, their minds and bodies convince the abuser that there is no other way to overcome the effects, which bring new ones themselves such as depression from not being able to resist it or actually stealing money from friends/family to gain the fix they seek out (see article Heroin or Hell).  These are only partial examples of the many sounds the gong makes, but each time it sounds, the addict, regardless of substance or outlet used, once hooked answers it without a second thought and usually doesn’t realize the mallet used to strike the gong, is in their hands to put down.  I’ve seen relationships destroyed by text, I’ve seen addicts think they are immortal until they overdose, I’ve seen thieves think they couldn’t be caught and wind up embarrassed at their job sites by arrest and I’ve lived the gong’s call on multiple levels, including: you need a smoke, you need a drink, with help I have overcame alcohol by a 25 year sobriety, tobacco, well it will take some time.  Will the road be difficult, yes, will the road have moments of temptation, yes, will that gong sound, yes but in order for me to not answer it, I have to learn to recognize when it calls that I don’t have to beckon to its needs or wants and if I cannot do it alone, realize there is help available (such as the cessation program I am currently enrolled in).  If you are addicted to anything that brings harm to yourself or others around you, go get help and overcome the grip it has before your mind customizes the sounds of the gong you carry within and never forget, the addiction doesn’t have to be alcohol, drugs or substance, it can be something as “simple” as your smart phone.  Don’t Text and Drive, Be alert, arrive unhurt.  Thank you for reading, good day to you all. ~ Scott~
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READINGS

1.20.2017

We the People – Examination and Opinion

            Many persons, who will read the title of this article, will probably realize those words are from a document known as the Constitution of the United States of America, but what do those words imply, are they to be taken literally or is there something more?  In the presidential election, we the people, by majority of electorate vote, decided in a new and untouched direction, one that is leaving many trails of disbelief and wonderment as to what will ‘become’ of our USA and what should we do about it.  In this article, I hope to expand some critical thinking skills and maybe take a look at a perspective that may or may not get us talking, instead of fighting, hating, being afraid or perhaps nervously awaiting dooms day, I have plenty of extra truth glasses to go around, I ask only for a few moments of your time in your busy day, to stop and talk.
            We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
            The above in italics and bold, is the preamble to our Constitution; consider it like an opening statement in a court of law, it openly identifies goals and sets the stage for arguments in support of it’s worth, while allowing room for ‘proof positive’ that these things are true to the best of one’s knowledge and / or ability.  The first 7 words, address the interested parties (that’s us now as much as it was us, when it was written), the next 8 identify the goal and then followed by a how to and what we should at a minimum feel or know beyond the shadow of a doubt, what is to come from the aforementioned statements and then ratify it by establishing the document and of course, the rest is our rights, liberties, powers of branches of government, how they get to where they are, requirements and on and on.  The document known as our Constitution is very important, and it is important because of the opening words, We the People.
            As we grow up and gain our elementary knowledge’s about America, we learn about the many battles fought in the name of freedom and liberty, we know of the atrocities of global threats and what mad men (or women) can do in positions of power, we’ve seen the most corrupt ignored by a justice system and the least able criminal get decades for ignorance - and in all of it, we look to a figure head, an entity that only catches our attention when we turn on the evening news seeking out answers or proposed solutions to the problems that plague society.  Where are we the people at before these items become news or we seek out our leadership to change things, other than watching it unfold before our eyes and spewing out opinions across social media outlets, hoping it will make a change,  in fact it doesn’t. We are glued to our media outlets (like our phones, tablets, laptops and so on), glued as though we either cannot wait for the next horrifying item or hoping to make a comment against the ‘man’- so as a start, to our knowledge journey, we can safely say that “We the People” includes you, regardless of where you are in the United States of America, past, present and future.
            In the earliest of times in our country’s birth, there is little doubt there was debates about how best to grow and prosper.  Those leaders knew that the current system and the one they fought so hard to get away from were in dire need of work, which brings us to the next part of the pre-amble, “In order to form a more perfect union”.  A definitive goal, simply make it better than it was while building for a better tomorrow and yes - the signee’s of that document knew full well what was ahead and I am sure never dreamed of the future USA, which is currently suffering a few woes.  If we look around today, about half of the country thinks nope, things are worsening and the hope now lies upon the next President, Mr. Trump, to fix what is wrong.  The other half is nervously waiting to see what disasters will unfold and hurt their pocket books or their rights.  Not too much of a difference in worries from 200 plus years ago, just more modern thought, don’t forget the only wireless our colonial ancestors had was carrier pigeon.  All joking aside, the USA then: paying off war debts, set up financial system, create opportunities, protect the public, govern the people who elected you to do these things, make trades that help the land, don’t charge too much in tax to help pay for it – you get the picture.  In the time span in between then and now, much has changed; we have overcome obstacles of education, immunization, health, industry, housing, automobiles and more – women’s rights, desegregation, naturalization plus the enforcing the basics that were established 200 plus years ago.  All these things are markers of a nation that as it grows and works to form that more perfect union, includes the mistakes of judgments and guess who is ever present in this task, that’s right, “We the People”.
            Moving forward, we look at the next set of words: “Establish Justice” sounds simple enough; someone does something wrong, they get punished for it, but what exactly is the correct punishment for the particular crime committed and shouldn’t it be equally applied?  Rolling back the clock, we can all imagine the vast array of punishments available, such as: Stockade, Jail, and Hanging, Firing Squads - compared to now: Elaborate Prison systems, Electric Chairs, Gas Chambers, and Lethal Injections, Life sentences and in some parts depending on crime, Hangings and waiting on death row for several decades at the taxpayers’ expense.  What one person sees as ‘justice’ another may see as cruel and unnecessary, they are after all still human and have certain rights, even while incarcerated as is guaranteed by our Constitution, but don’t tell that to certain persons, they see criminals as criminals regardless of background, it’s like being branded “you messed up” the rest of your life and no matter how much “scar away” you apply, the blemish never goes away.  Along the way, in certain events, the accused gets to have a jury of their peers to listen to the accuser’s side and ‘their’ side, this while being presided over by a judge in a nice building…compared to perhaps waiting for weeks just to have a justice of the peace who covers a very large region, come by and decide based on what a sheriff or marshal has to say, which is based on what they saw or were told, yeah, that was fair.  To establish justice means working on making it better every chance we get so that equal levels of crime get equal punishments or at least we hope it will work that way, sounds good in theory, but doesn’t work well in practice, our present day is littered in crime and punishments that are far from equal and full of speculation that incites riots from the public, wonder what Benjamin Franklin would think of us now, compared to those persons of the past.
            Take for example a set of terms placed upon our nation at a young age, “The great American melting pot”, which symbolizes our open doors to the many nations who have people that long to live and have liberties that make their basic rights to live – while living here free...as in freedoms, though these days, the citizen think free applies to those who aren’t worthy of help, little do they understand that our country was founded upon helping and has been ingrained in our soils starting on day 1.  Since those doors were opened, we have had attackers from all sorts of backgrounds. Spanish American war, World Wars I and II just to name a couple, we have even fought against ourselves in a “Civil” war, there have been emancipations, laws passed, standards set to reach out, help out and grow, but now we reject those same people and more for fear of them either “stealing our jobs” or having a desire to kill every last one of us in the name of martyrdom and sacrificing to their God let alone the mass shootings or killings taking place in areas all over the world.  Look at the debate about who should own what gun or why, while we bicker about who is not going to take our assault line of rifles, because our military isn’t enough to defend us we got to have guns at home that were used by the military or are still in use; are we ignoring the person with other ideas about those mass killings, who may have the right also to use it, but that means background checks, but no one wants that, do they, nor laws to be written to make the punishments equal the crime level for using those same guns shooting up a movie theater or worse, a school.  Establishing Justice, it takes work, it takes thought, it takes “we the people” over a long period of time, perfecting their mistakes and working to improve the system and indeed, includes forming a more perfect union by adapting to changing technologies and generations. Our justice system isn’t the best, nor is it the worst, but it does belong to all of us.
            If we take a good look at our USA as a whole, we got issues that need addressing besides the crumbling roadways and energy woes we combat now, we have violence, racial divide, barbarianism, shootings, drug wars while trying to legalize a select few, teenagers getting pregnant, a surge in alcoholism and more – in short, goodbye moral compass. Insuring domestic tranquility should have something to say about that, or is this wishful thinking in a nation now that seems so plagued by so many items.  How does one insure our domestic tranquility, isn’t that more usefully translated to “calm in our homeland”.  By definition, tranquility means the quality or state of being tranquil or calm.  This statement in our preamble opens our minds eye to a bunch of questions and more importantly, different views on what calm means to each person. To our founding leaders, keeping the calm I am sure meant insuring that no British influence would be around shooting at them, or perhaps that homes would be built for everyone who chose to live there at the time, perhaps food or a stable economy, in reality all they had was a piece of paper, the goods they either brought or created and for the most part, relied upon each other.  In a sense, the domestic tranquility was entirely up to the very people living in those areas and had someone to turn to when stuff got out of hand or serious questions that would arise, I think they call that a police force and court system, but I could be wrong all I know is those judges then wore some pretty fancy wigs.
            Suppose we apply some modern hopes now to that insuring domestic tranquility, do we need a department of homeland security, a cabinet for families and children or court system for paternity cases? I shudder to think where our country would be if instead of arrest and conviction, we just said, “eh, it’s gonna be okay, they’re just going through a phase” and let them run the streets, or perhaps build a prison state like escape from New York (The movie) and anyone accused was sent there with a good luck charm in hand. What domestic tranquility means to each of us, I just want to live my life in peace, get married, perhaps have a child, a nice home and car, a good cell phone, nice hair, great clothes…or should it be, live and let live. We should never forget this: “I am my brother’s keeper”; the problem here, we see the dealer, we see the crime, we know the person is doing wrong but we shelter them, hide evidence, we turn our head and refuse to get involved or become enablers to their extremities all while secretly praying they stop; Once again, we the people are in full control of that scenario and not this alone as ridiculous an example as it may seem, domestic tranquility rests on our shoulders and the sooner we speak up, the better our environment will become for our children, our families, our friends and ourselves.  This applies as much to domestic tranquility as it does providing for the common defense, an army of people, assigned to defend our land against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to secure the peace is to prepare for war and without the brave lives of those who are serving, have served, will serve “we the people” would be nothing but a pipe dream and knowing our enemies when they arrive are all about killing us, so domestic tranquility and a good defense, are somewhat married, one needs the other to work and yes, you do have the right to have arms in your home, our ancestors did and they did use them on one another, a big old war as I recall, but I also know there are no “gun police” that are going to come to my door and take them, again, it’s in our Constitution, the very document written by (you guessed it) we the people and ultimately we have the final say so on a lot of things, so, no worries about what you can buy, be more worried about what is being done to stop our home grown and abroad enemies from buying them as well, provide for your common defense.
            Did our founders want the citizens and settlers to succeed in this new country?  We can be relatively certain they did, as in the opening statement, they happened to include promoting the general welfare.  I wonder how many log homes were built with just one man’s hands, or how many horse and buggy breakdowns happened where tom couldn’t ask if harry for an extra cog or pin. Then we got to work, we improved the design, figured out the wrongs and made things better, we worked as a country, making friends out of strangers and establishing building blocks for a better day. Who remembers their parents saying “Go to the neighbor’s house and see if we can borrow a cup of milk or a few eggs” and usually was given out no problems or calling the police when we saw something not quite right happening at the neighbor’s house and then following up by calling them and checking on them, I think it was called being “neighborly” I will have to check my historical references.  Isn’t that promoting the general welfare and if so, why aren’t we trying to do more of it today, like, now?  In my own eyes, promoting the general welfare means reaching out and helping someone when we can, replace a flat tire, recommend a mechanic, load a truck or just asking if they need a ride to get a can of gas for their car, or if that isn’t your flavor, how about holding the door open for someone or simply buying that homeless person a cup of coffee.  In the days we live in now, in some regions and cities, if you are wearing the wrong clothes, could get you mugged or seriously injured, giving a lift could get you killed but yet we trust in an Uber driver, and rely on an internet driven company to insure they have hired the right people. We have police officers who use lethal force for fear of their own lives, while we have officers dying who happen to be sitting in their cars, because the community thugs hate them, they are cops who take their friends to jail and hate the color of their skin, and on and on and on, it is flooding our screens, our phones and our lives, raising questions (and hands in the air) and plaguing a nation full of despair and chaos mostly created by those who turn their heads or refuse to get involved, which is causing us to marvel at the hero’s who risk their lives to save someone they don’t know, we think and say, “I’d have done the same thing if it were me” or do we…we the people are not who we think we are, or so it is becoming a possibility, if not, then why do we have armed persons in our schools and metal detectors in our movie theaters.  We are growing, not just in people, but in ideas, possibilities and over the vast number of years of existence, we have figured out that we need clean water, air and we need vaccinations against disease, we need a police force that keeps the bad guys off the streets while establishing good ties to their communities, but we expect it to be done in an instant, we expect a certain behavior from the bad guys and the good guys…is this a movie or our USA; no, it’s we the people, not accepting responsibility for ourselves, not holding ourselves accountable which in turn would hold others to the same level of reasoning, maybe we should give paying it forward a try, who knows how far it could go.
            Wouldn’t it be easy to say, well what is happening now isn’t near what our founding fathers had in mind, it was a different time, they couldn’t have a clue as to what was to come.  Who knew that the right to bear arms, freedom of the press or the shrouds hovering over an election would be in the spotlight it is now and be under such close scrutiny, who would have expected an African American would be President or that a woman would have the same chance.  Our founding leaders did indeed have us in mind; we can see it clearly by simply examining the final look at our preamble (introduction) of our Constitution: “and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.  Posterity, by definition: All future generations. What Liberty is, much like an earlier example, is defined by the individual, but prescribed by our Constitution and upheld by “We the People”, whether it’s: the positive enjoyment of social, political or economic rights and privileges or the freedom from arbitrary or despotic control or from restraint or just the state of being free, we the people have created it, accepted it, worked to keep it safe, changed it and used it to form a more perfect union, free from oppression, created to allow us to help each other learn and grow while defending our families and communities, in short doing our best to each live their own versions of the American dream or even perhaps the world’s dream.  Free to worship God in whatever form we see fit, Free to speak our minds about the rights and wrongs in our country, Free to have the press report on the news of what is happening and be held highly accountable in their accuracies, Free to go hunting, fishing and enjoy the fruits of our lands, Free to choose who leads us in our overall well being in the status quo of the world while trusting that in the event someone wishes to bring us harm, that we the people will defend our land and Free to secure a future for our children, which includes all the same essential items everyone should have, water, clean air, less destruction of our planet’s resources and more replenishing of what we are taking for granted daily.
            In conclusion, looking only at the preamble to our Constitution, millions of lives over a couple of hundred years helped to shape the country we call the USA.  The founding fathers choices were not so much unlike that of our own now, with many of the same hopes and fears taking part in growth.  People, naturally fear change, but not just any change, the kind of change that promotes growth and personal adaptation.  Now, we can admit, we like the idea of having our health costs covered so that we can live fuller richer lives, we can also admit that we want security from groups of persons who wish to try and kill us and many of us were elated to learn that Osama Bin Laden was finally brought to justice, we are relentless in our established justice system when it comes to the bad guys. We want to know our kids will be safe, twice in two weeks two 15 year old kids were gunned down my own communities.  We want better pay, lower taxes all of the things that we all know, will keep America the greatest nation on Earth, a nation for the people, the American Dream, written and bound in our hearts, our minds and our founding Constitution.  Looking at our world, what we should do now, to move forward is easy, we should insure our tranquility, try our best to live in peace here on our homeland with one another, we should go after our enemies with renewed courage, we should reach out to help when we can, we should be, the shining nation we have always been, one that reflects, “We the People”.  Before I ask you to reflect on the things you have read in the article above, I want to state that it is okay to disagree with my perceptions, opinions or stated reasoning, I uphold your right to do so, and encourage feedback, not just on this article but in your own communities, look around and see what good you can do; that is truly what will make America great again, investment in ourselves, perhaps President Trump is on to something, by causing us to focus on ourselves, ultimately the people are the reason America IS great, as stated in the opening of our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


           

            

11.06.2016

Life, it’s not just a magazine

Dedicated to the Memory, of my Nephew, the late - Michael Anthony Hathaway
            This article isn’t about periodicals, reading materials, magazines or waiting rooms that are filled with outdated copies of Sports Illustrated.  It’s about life and why we as a world, need to work harder on its preservation, rather than its destruction.  This article isn’t about saving the trees, protecting endangered species, saving the rainforest or making carbon emissions go away, it’s about living every chance we get.  In a previous article, Death, Loss and Hope, there were some pretty sensitive subjects mentioned and of course, the losses that come with it and death that is way too untimely.  When life get’s overwhelming, things happen, people cry, they go out, they get “hammered” and try and drown their worries away, or at least go numb for a bit, they seek out, in essence, themselves and look for deep answers in deeper waters and when a select few find that the water is too deep, sometimes the pressure is too much and life comes to a screeching halt.  When that happens, it creates questions, it creates hurt, it creates loss and then we must pick up what is remaining and work to try and somehow recover and move forward in life, which, as many know, is not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially when riddled in emotional pains.  This time, the loss hit a little closer to home for me and just like so many others, the blanks, the brain locks, the emotional rollercoaster, gripped my family once again, twisting us all sorts of ways into sadness, anger, confusion and fear of the unknown and how to keep moving forward in the face of a loss.  I humbly, present to you, this article about “life”.
THE BEGINNING
            From our earliest memories, comes what is considered the most precious moments of life itself, childhood.  Two things need to happen; Mom and Dad need “that moment” in life and then, Mom several weeks later, goes through the worst pain she will never forget and gives birth to new life.  Many moms and dad’s out there can attest to that “new baby” smell, the stillness of the world when they first hold them, feed them and of course the gag reflex on those first real full diaper changes that no parent will forget.  Suddenly, the wiggling, babbling and seemingly endless nights of crying to deal with, become crawling, walking, taking on tasks, laughing and growing, keeping the world in the front of their eyes and the bumps and bruises full of kisses and comfort, soon thereafter, speaking, saying “mommy” and “love you” and especially, “no” (giggles).  The first 5 years seem like a blur as we watch them grow into children where the personality develops like a blossoming flower and yes, the trials of the “terrible two’s” come with it, where patience is tested, but always followed up by love.  As time moves forward, bonding closer ties with mom and dad, family, friends, they start learning and then a time for new discovery with the hopes that no matter what they choose to become, they will be the absolute best at their task and hopefully make a successful living.
            We watch them struggle against peer pressures and future career decisions and do our best to help them with preparation for their adolescent and pre adult lives, never knowing what challenges they may face, but knowing that the support and love for them only grows stronger and that alone is enough to help propel them forward and encompassing a smile when they succeed.  Sometimes, distance can keep us from reaching out and holding them tightly, letting them know that things will be okay, the comfort is there, the voice that calls them on the phone, is there, but it’s the touch, the sight that matters and we settle within ourselves and take the joy that comes from all of it and cherish even more the times we are able to hug, the family bond becomes like concrete and steel, unbreakable; we blink and they are young adults, the world is theirs and we nervously stand by, waiting, watching and praying that no harm comes to them.
THE MIDDLE
            Once in a while, we meet someone who catches our attention so well that we wish and long to spend the rest of our lives with them and though our lives seem singular at times, we find that someone who helps to make us feel more complete and they the same feeling about us.  Love, Relationship, Moving in, Matrimony and a host of other terms start to fill their lives and the parents become grandparents, and terms like uncle, aunt, cousin start to fill in the pages of memories.  As we age, we watch them grow, as they age, they watch their children grow and then start to fill the same shoes we once wore, taking on the challenges of teaching their children right from wrong, encouraging hope, endurance, individual thought while being there to provide kisses and hugs for the many bumps and bruises (known also as “boo-boo’s”) and probably hearing, “yep, you were right” and “I really sound a lot like you did huh”, the joke of mother’s curses, father’s baldness all of it, intertwine and we again hope that through it all, that our children are happy and never letting go of those memories that time has given us.  Jobs, homes, raising kids teaches us that the cycle of life is endless, and that individual life is precious and our journey’s should not be filled with hurt, but with compassion and care, the two ingredients needed for love. 
            With so much to do and so much to see, it’s a wonder we have time to learn and explore anything at all, but that is why God gives us children, so that as they grow, we can teach, learn and explore together, sharing every priceless moment with our closest friends, known as “family”.  It has been said that you cannot be a friend to your child, nor can you be a parent to them when they are grown, that you must find a natural balance in order to help them understand and learn without them feeling unwanted, unloved or otherwise disliked.  Family takes hold and those items go out the window, yes, we are disciplinarians when our kids are young, we make behavior corrections and hope they get the basics of life down pat, (like food in mouth, clean your room, brush your teeth), but then something special happens, we realize they are starting to show signs of independence and individualism, which makes the bonds of family a lot like having a best friend, one to confide in, share with, hang out with, watch television or just whatever happens and brings great moments or memories.  Our children make this possible and it is too cool, helps us to inspire, amaze and is the core reason that when pro athletes get their moment on camera they say, “Hi Mom” or “Hi Dad” along with the rest, they recognize the bond and hold it high. 
MICHAEL ANTHONY HATHAWAY a.k.a “Tony”
            From my earliest memories, Tony and I shared a bond that even though he was my nephew (and in actuality 2 years older than me) we were as close as brothers.  Yep, we got into scuffles as kids, but who among us that has siblings hasn’t had a spat or two with them, right?  In all of it, we never let any of it, stop us from forgiving and placing our bond above most others, in fact, anyone who knew him and he called friend, would attest to the same, he always provided some insight if he could and when he could not, he tried to understand, perhaps sometimes taking on a bit too much, but never complaining.  Then as his family grew, he moved away to the great state of Arizona, where he fell in love with the environment, making a quick study of the many cacti, minerals, sights, smells and easily making friends and finding a lady or two to share in some of those moments.  His “old Kentucky home” eventually called him back here, where several years had passed since I had last laid eyes on him, we were in the earlier stages of our teenage years.  At the time, not too many friends of my own, his presence seemed almost perfectly timed, we bonded even closer, getting into mischief and no doubt raising my own father’s blood pressure a few times, he loved my mom and dad deeply, they accepted him and did their best to teach and help him grow.
            Together, we did our fair share of raising hell, getting into things, going to parties together and his natural charm and intelligence again drew in a circle of friends that to this day, still remember and still talk about the man they knew and know.  So many adventures that he gave to us all, I myself have plenty of memories where among the compassion he showed to those he knew was insuring they were well fed and if he had extra cash on hand, would gladly spend it to make sure his friends were all set and many times over, was a blessing that we may not have known then, but certainly know now.  Back in our youth, when things went wrong or went a bit screwy, his philosophy of “well, ya know, shit happens” just seemed to smooth the roughest of roads, I learned of his many interests and as much as he would encourage me to learn the great game of chess, no matter my study, strategy or attempt, I just couldn’t match his deep thought nor his skill.
            As time passed and he up and got married, I felt sick to my stomach, I thought, “damn, well, now who am I gonna hang with” even with my own circle of friends, his presence was needed sometimes and he never let that go, we never lost contact with each other and in fact, called upon one another many times over, to help out, hang out, be fed or just take care of business and I looked forward to each time I could go and hang with my long time brother/nephew, it genuinely made me happy.  His children were indeed the gleam in his soul’s eyes.  He placed a lot of effort on letting them be themselves while laughing at some of their antics as they grew.  That effort was rewarded with plenty of challenges, but more laughter and wisdom that helped them to shape into outstanding people and though his son grew up and moved to another state becoming a success and his daughter grew up and moved away and became her own success, he never stopped talking about them nor trying to help them, just as his parents did for him, the core value of care, passed on to the next generation.  He absolutely was an awesome chef, the same insights he used on the chess board, he applied to food and the many artistic things that could be done, including explosive flavors that made anyone who tried his food, look at all the restaurants around them and wonder how they couldn’t do the same.  When he was working for the prestigious Marriot, he again, shared his benefits with me, this time, the benefit of a free round of golf.  I was all for it.  We had a couple of beers and the game began, we started out with a dozen balls and by the time we finished, we had 1 each, I shot a 104, him, a 96.  Around the 10th or 11th hole, we hear, “Hey, get off the damn green!” I realized that I had been driving the golf cart on the course instead of the track provided, I was so embarrassed, he laughed his ass off the whole thing was awesome, we had a blast.
            I could literally write a book of memories of the many adventures we shared, I will sum up with this sentence, “Dude, you should have been there.”  My heart aches for this loss nearly as badly as it did when my parents passed away and the circumstances surrounding it, will forever hold questions for me, a vacuum covering a hole in my heart, a piece of my soul, now missing until we meet again on the other side and trust this, I can’t wait to hear what he has been into, I look forward to that whole moment, right after I kiss the feet of Jesus Christ for being a part of my life and always having my back, I am certain the many animals that Tony had - have met him at the rainbow bridge and are escorting him home to Heaven.  Never have I known someone as mentally tough or as optimistic, but something happened to change that person inside and Tony, rarely let it show, especially to those he loved, that was his way.  Many years ago, realizing and monitoring his own health, the stresses of time, attention, physical challenges took their toll; his body was slowly wearing out and Father Time was applying pressures that are and were unreal.  The very core, the essence of him, was being tested like never before, causing him to fight hard just to breathe, to see, to move or live day by day.  Though he had pain, he rarely cried out in agony, though he struggled to catch his breath, he continued to walk and move about, though his career had met a retirement, he took to the forest, creating beautiful things from Mother Nature’s own beautiful things and yet, he himself was just tired in general.  Tired of being treated less than human by his many physicians, tired of struggling against a mountain that even his own inner strength was drained against its generosity, tired of being reminded that he could no longer do what was the core of him and tired of reaching out to find help only to be shunned by many, some including those he thought were reliable.  The last thing, Tony said to me, in a phone call, “Unc, this is the last conversation we are going to have, I love you, I’m sorry, Goodbye.”  The sinking feeling set in on me immediately, I knew this was NOT the man I knew, I immediately called him back …. No answer.  I called his daughter who also tried to reach him….no answer.  I raced to his house, some 70 miles away, calling the local law enforcement as I sped down the highway and repeatedly called his house….no answer, then, just two miles from his home, the call that shattered the lives of so many people, “Mr. Hall, we regret to inform you that he is no longer with us.”
            I stopped my truck and a void set in, I was in instant denial, I floored the gas pedal and raced to meet with an officer who confirmed what I was told.  I sat in my truck, bawling, to have that same officer give me a hug and express deep condolences, I cried for an hour straight while waiting for his wife to arrive.  The rest is a blur, the coroner arrived before his wife and removed him from the scene and now, my nephew, my brother, my friend is gone and my life will never be the same.  No parent should EVER have to bury their child and having to convey the tragedy and sorrow to my sister, was the most terrible thing I have ever had to do in my life, God Bless her and his wife, who lost so much in one person and to be left with so many questions and voids, even in my own pain and hurt, I cannot imagine how much more they have upon their own hearts.  The man I knew, the person he was, the lives he touched and the things he taught, will forever be etched in history.  Here’s to you, Tony, you have never had a thing to be sorry for, you have never deserved anything that came to your door and as generous as your heart was, you should never have had to worry about who would show up, cause I, your brother and uncle, from day one, never did and knowing that as morbid as this is and was, that you shared a final moment with me and others that loved you, will always be held close to my heart, in honor of you.  Rest in Peace, I love you.

Scott Hall

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