Do you really wonder why we take so many drugs?

I’ve got an ingrown toe nail. Don’t worry, they’ve got a drug for that. My feet are just not large enough. Don’t worry, there’s a drug for that. I’m getting a bit age challenged, and my libido just isn’t what it used to be. Well, you know they’ve had a drug for that for several years now. I just finished reading the morning newspaper and there was a piece in the op-ed page about vaping. Being the ancient one that I am, I hadn’t heard a lot about this new-fangled thing done by teenagers until recently. Apparently, they’re even doing it in school. It involves sucking chemically charged vapor from a contraption that looks like a flash drive. For those of you who are more blessed and older than I, a flash drive is a data storage device that’s inserted into a computer. Many of the young folks are behaving under the assumption that this is less dangerous than smoking cigarettes. You see, the vapor is charged with nicotine, along with some other chemicals.

The op-ed, to which I referred above, mentions that the jury is still out on whether the vapor these young folks are taking drags on is harmful to their health. Lately we’ve seen a national uproar over the use of opioids. Huge numbers of Americans are being prescribed these powerful drugs by their physicians, while others are coming by them through illegitimate routes. Addiction and loss of life have reached epidemic proportions, and the government is responding in efforts to do something. Our president has been heard making comments about responding with the harshest of penalties against drug pushers. There seems to be a national attitude of disgust, fear and need to do something about this trend that’s taking the lives of far too many.

Have you noticed when you turn on your TV that within the first few minutes you’ve been bombarded with commercials about drugs? There seems to be this mind-set that we’ve all been herded into thinking there’s a drug for everything that might be wrong in our entitled American lives. Self-discipline is not required to correct many of the health problems we might have. Don’t’ worry your head about eating right, exercising, or doing any of those boring things our bodies are made to positively respond to naturally. All you must do is relax, take it easy and take a pill, or some elixir that has a fancy name. The names seem so darn cool that they must work. Have you noticed how the names of these cures-for-all-that-ails-you seem to not be descriptive of their purpose? They all sound like they were named by way of some public naming contest, resulting in the winner receiving a Hawaiian vacation.

And we wonder why there’s a drug problem in our country. Do you think it might be because we demand a drug for everything? Isn’t one of the most powerful tenets of our capitalist society supply and demand? If the “de man” or (women) wants it, there’s always some money-driven opportunist waiting around some corner willing and able to supply? Isn’t it true that whatever state we find ourselves, we drove ourselves to that point? Free will fueled by a little enticement can sometimes be a bummer.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Have our schools become shooting galleries?

I just saw another news report of another school shooting. I’m ashamed to admit it, but the continuing string of incidents, where some sick person attempts to turn our schools into shooting galleries, has merged into one indistinguishable mess. There seems to be no end in sight and no incentive for our politicians to do anything about it. If this is a commentary on the value we place on the lives of our children, it’s a sad, dark one. I get a sense that too much of the public has become anesthetized to these events.

Two hundred and forty-one years ago our country was a wild, dangerous place. Of course, when you invade a land and take what you want, regardless of who was there before, danger is to be expected. The mind-set of people during that time was one of survival. People had left governments they didn’t like and felt a certain amount of threat. They placed the Second Amendment in our Constitution as a safe guard for liberty and freedom. No more did they want their government, or anyone else, to rob them of inalienable rights. Are we still so frightened, enamored with the need to protect ourselves, today from each other, that we must be armed to the teeth? Do we have to make weapons of death so available that even the individuals from whom we all need to protect ourselves have access to them? These folks are roaming free, exercising their Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, those rights are being abused in ways that would probably cause our country’s founding fathers to rotate in their graves.

I can’t help but wonder if our kids sit in school stressed at the possibility that someone might come locked and loaded, at any time, to visit death upon them. Along with the traditional stress of peer pressure kids have had to navigate through for generations, are they now looking over their shoulders every minute of ever school day? Isn’t it enough to have to deal with subject matter that you’re having difficulty trying to figure out how you’ll ever use it in your life? Are these topics more relevant than trying to get through another day, so you’ll be able to go home and be with your family? Isn’t this image enough to say enough is more than enough?

Shooting galleries should contain clay figures or tin cans, not our children. The future should never be taken away from our young people. They deserve the opportunity to experience the excitement, the dullness, the joy, the sadness the future has in store for us all. They shouldn’t be live ducks in a shooting gallery for someone who decides to practice on live targets today.

Last year America had over ten thousand individuals killed due to gun violence. Japan, Great Britain, Switzerland, Canada, Israel, Sweden, and West Germany, all combined, had just under three hundred-deaths due to gun violence. My moniker is Old and Blessed. I pray more of our young people will be able to say the same.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

The church: It’s the people inside the building

I say this as humbly as I can, I’m a person of faith, but I’m not about to write a sermon, so please keep reading. Rather, I’m about to share some thoughts on the value of congregating once per week with like-minded individuals. For the past thirty-two years, I’ve been a dedicated attendee of a local church. Many, who might read this piece, will know the name and location of this church. For reasons that probably aren’t very clear, even to me, I won’t mention the name of that church. One reason, I can share is that I’m not writing about a denominational experience, but rather a social and cultural interaction.

I was raised in a family that views belief in God as critical to their very existence. There wasn’t always spiritual fidelity, but belief in God (the Judeo-Christian God) was real. As I grew older and moved off to college, I grew away from this foundation that was laid in my formative years. I had no scriptural understanding of the God I was exposed to early in life. In retrospect, I can now see how exposure to college life, and the academic exercises it provided easily steered me away from my family’s beliefs. Let me stop here, because I already said I’m not about to write a sermon.

Unless I’m sick beyond my ability to move, I’m in church each Sunday. Over the last three decades, I’ve come to do this because of several reasons, habit not one of them. As I sit in the same pew each week, I experience a feeling I cannot any place else. There is a sense that I’m sitting among a group of people who are there for the same reason I am. Common sense tells me this isn’t the case, but that doesn’t diminish my sense of uniformity at all. All the prayers, the singing of hymns, the standing and sitting work together to form one experience that feeds me with a strong sense of comfort.

Over the years, my church has undergone many of the same kinds of changes churches everywhere experience. We’ve had schisms, changes in leadership, people coming and going, for whatever reason. I’ve had no reason strong enough, no matter what has occurred, that has caused me to leave. I’ve always felt strongly that people are people no matter where I go. There is no greener grass compared to where I am. I’ve always been able to connect with a core group of people who feel the same as I. That gives me comfort and a sense of belonging. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Isn’t that what Christ prayed for shortly before He went to the cross? I’ll stop here, since I feel a sermon coming on.

One thing is certain, if I miss attending church at least once per week, I feel incomplete. There have been times when finding the physical strength to dress on a Sunday morning seems an impossible challenge; however, after I’ve sat in church for a few minutes I’m rejuvenated. This is especially the case after I’ve sat through my small and intimate Sunday school class. Interacting with this group is like having a weekly family reunion. There is nothing said or done in this class which is contrary to my well-being.

The gathering of people for a good purpose is a core motivation for me attending church. Church is certainly more than that; however, even the least of reasons to gather is a valuable weekly experience. Sharing my flawed self with a group of other flawed people, seeking wholeness. You can’t get any better than that. If I’m able, I’ll continue to attend church. The spiritual by-product, current and eternal can’t be denied; however, focusing on that merits a sermon.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.


As far back as I can remember, I’ve been memory challenged. One of the things I have the most problem with is names. If I’m not around a person regularly, I’m destined to forget their name. Their face remains indelibly etched in my mind though. I can see them years from any point at which I last saw them and know that I know them, but their name is gone from the hard drive.

One of the things my kids have joked with me for years about is the habit I have of going through a list of names before I call the one I’m addressing with the right name. I must admit, I find that a bit strange in that I only have three children. That may be true, but the challenge to recall has been muddled with the addition of pets and grandchildren. There’s nothing more insulting to my children than for me to refer to one of them by the name of one of our beloved dogs, late or alive, before I use the correct human moniker.

Family reunions are like a gallery of human bowling pins, standing tall, daring me to knock each down with a jovial calling of “hey John, Sue, Elizabeth, or whatever your face is.” Instead of accurately responding with the right label after I have been greeted, I usually say, “Hey. How’re doing? It’s been a long time since…” That usually works well until some relative with whom I spent countless childhood hours together, senses I haven’t a clue who they are, asks, “You don’t know me do you?”

I’ve been retired now for more than four years. I retired from an organization that had more than ten thousand employees, and I was the chief human resources officer. I’m sure you can see the irony in this whole thing now, can’t you? I spent over forty years working in HR, and during that entire time, I was memory challenged. I could remember countless government regulations that affected my profession, but names… As I said before, I tend to be able to recall the names of people I’m around regularly. Working as a chief HR officer, there was an extended group of folks I interacted with regularly. Remembering the names of these folks, no problem. Now that I’ve been retired for over four years, I can hardly remember the names of fifty percent of them.

Someone once told me that not remembering the names of individuals is a sign of disrespect, an indication that folks don’t mean that much to you. The only response I offer to that is, I evidently have little respect for myself too, since I don’t make it a habit of remembering my own birthday.

As I pen this piece, I find myself thinking quite clearly about my problem, “remembering names.” Phrases are coming to my mind and appearing on the screen of my laptop with little delay. Aww, I think I’ve got it, I’m a person who is committed to living in the moment, or someplace close to it. That sounds pretty Zen, doesn’t it? I think I’ll stick with that. To my friends, relatives and associates I’ve spent quality time with through the years, know this, those moments we shared together, years, months ago, they were some true Zen encounters. I interacted with you intensely, in the moment. I would appreciate your giving me some slack. At least I can now say that I suffer from AAADD (Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder).

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.