Friday, February 7, 2014


Here we are, we  -- babies, toddlers, youngsters, couples, families, parents, grandparents --  who love TV.

Numbers tell us TV is being watched, more than ever. Numbers guide the producers of TV news. and programming, in their planning.

Hey, I don't need numbers. I see violence in various forms all day and night long -- in between ads made by creative guys who have probably grown up on violence.

It gets us riveted to the screen -- be it TV, iPod, iPad, or iPhone -- visions of abuse, rape, shocking murders, mass murders, and famous people involved with any aspect of violence, especially sex.

(Have I left any mayhem off the list -- any of the repulsive, horrible, seriously perturbing behavior that makes you feel marvelously disgusted?)

All this bad stuff, immorality, unbelievably fascinating uncivilized behavior -- it's more than ever, and we are living with it.

Would more laws help? Are you impressed, and glad that Obama finally got the updated law against abuse of woman signed? Anything he manages to get through the stuck, stupid, rigid Congress is great. But it won't stop abuse.

Does public awareness help? Has anything changed since 1985 when we got movie ratings and then, the mid-90's when Al Gore's (now ex-wife) Tipper was working hard to get laws passed that curtailed what we were seeing on TV?

Hey take heart -- there are now lots of anti-violence organizations and efforts being made by important people to limit the uncensored freedom that producers, artists, ad agencies, TV stations, and game manufacturers have.

Why, good gracious, on the ever burgeoning Facebook, there are two great anti-violence groups -- hey -- one has 11 followers the, other has -- whoopee-- about a hundred. Doesn't that mean progress?

Not much.

What do we do -- violence is burgeoning.-- it's a reality -- we have so many other WORSE realities -- (no, I am not going to list them.)?

I'm just sad that our culture has become so large and so overloaded with mankind killing mankind, devastating the world, making it unlivable -- yes -- I'm very sad, because one of our daily entertainments is hideous violence.

It's something we need to see less of -- BOYCOTT. If we don't buy it, maybe the guys who make it will go out of business.


Do I mean snap off the set? Change the channel when the killers with weapons start banging away?


What does that accomplish?

Not much.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I don't go to church. I don't have a religion.

Though my mother was Jewish, my father, who was born into a rabbinical family, was proudly, rebelliously an agnostic.

He explained what that meant to me when I first asked about God. We were living in an all white, Christian suburb of Chicago  where no Jewish families resided. I was an outcast in grade school. One day, the girls attacked me on the playground, yelling "You're a Christ killer -- you Jews killed Christ." Afterwards, on Sundays, I went knocking on the doors of various churches hoping to enroll in a Sunday School. I was rejected by Lutheran, Protestant, and the Christian Science Church, probably because when they asked about my parent's religion, I declared, "I am an agnostic."

So the Pope is not my father, leader, teacher, or guide. I think of the Catholic Church as a huge corporation with vast power to rule and affect opinions. I was impressed by Blessed Pope John Paul, but never felt connected to him  and didn't like Pope Joseph Aloisius Ratzsinger -- he seemed like a not very holy politician.

Nevertheless, I pay attention to what the Catholic Church is emphasizing, but the celibate priest sandals, and the anti gay stuff offend me, and what they say about abortion and contraception collides head-on with my logic -- it's as if the Catholics are saying the world is flat, when we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the world is round.

But Pope Francis -- everything he says and does affirms these words that he has said: "I'm one of you, nothing more than you -- a person -- a friend that wants to cheer you, help you in any way that I can."

Nancy Gibbs, Managing Editor of Time Magazine who named Francis as Person of the Year, wrote about him beautifully: "He released his first exhortation, an attack on 'the idolatry of  money,' just as Americans were contemplating the day set aside for  gratitude and whether to spend it at the mall."

Gibbs said:
     "He lives not in the papal palace surrounded by  courtiers, but in a spare hostel surrounded by priests. He prays all the  time, even while waiting for the dentist. He has retired the papal  Mercedes in favor of a scuffed-up Ford Focus. No red shoes, no gilded  cross, just an iron one is around his neck...
      "When he rejects the pomp and  the privilege, releases information on Vatican finances for the first  time, reprimands a profligate German Archbishop, cold-calls strangers in  distress, offers to baptize the baby of a divorced woman whose married  lover wanted her to abort it, he is doing more than modeling mercy and transparency. He is embracing complexity and acknowledging the risk  that a church obsessed with its own rights and righteousness could  inflict more wounds than it heals."

Pope Francis himself has said, "Don’t just preach; listen, Don’t scold; heal." And referring to a battlefield, says, "The church is a field hospital. Our first duty is to tend to the wounded. You don’t ask a bleeding man about his cholesterol level."

I like this man. He seems like a manly man who is addressing agnostic me, including me when he makes suggestions. I like his smile, his tone of voice. He's doesn't seem like a King or a CEO who's front and center in one of the world's richest most powerful corporations. I feel as if I visited him, I wouldn't be out of place -- he's truly a father, teacher, friend, and guide -- I can listen to him and still be me.

I picked this video because actions speak louder than words.

Monday, February 3, 2014


I'm thinking about habits

Worrying is an exhausting, often depressing habit.

Saving things -- keeping an idea or a possession, even when you know you won't ever use it again, is a time wasting, depressing habit -- every time you bump into whatever it was that you saved, you mull it over, and do it again.

Eating too much after you know you're full, is a habit -- it causes discomfort, and affects the way you look.

Okay, habit is a manner of conducting oneself; a settled tendency, or usual manner of behavior, an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly, or completely, involuntary.

What about bad habits -- cheating, lying, stealing, taking drugs, daily boozing, smoking, hating blacks-Latinos-Jews-gays --  those are "mull" habits -- habits you've taken on because mentally you've figured out that's what you really want to think and do.

That's YOU, like your name. But wait a minute, it's possible to change your name -- it might involve legal stuff -- time, money -- you might have to promote your new name, but a name can be changed. So sure, you can change any of the "mull" habits if you want to.

The fact is,  anything you mull over and hang on to, you've sort of decided is good -- you're proud of it, or maybe deemed whatever it is, as a virtue.

So can you mull over lying, heating, stealing, and how you feel about blacks, jews, gays -- and label all that as "good?"

Sure.  Hey, worrying, which can exhaust you harm you, defeat you, is not good, but if it helps you plan, it's a good habit too. Can over-eating be a good habit? Hey, you can say to yourself it makes me happy, to eat and eat till I'm overly full.  So it's good (till you start fretting, worrying about the way you look.)

I think the habit to cultivate, is to periodically mull over your habits. Create a mull routine, that culminates in a take action mode.

It's easy. On a calendar page in a notebook -- list your bad habits.

 Read the list loudly aloud --include any habits that are sort of embarrassing, annoying. (You may find yourself frowning. feeling a bit disgusted.)

On the list print C-H-A-N-G-E next to each item on the list that bothers you. Having writ it, you'll do it, maybe immediately, maybe sooner or later.

Why does this work? Because you hear it, see-it-feel-it, have stated it and recorded it. It's no longer mullable -- it's indelible reality.

Maybe next week you'll start a new page and fix and nix other things about yourself that you don't like. It's fun --though you're never done -- there's always something new and interesting to do to improve you.