Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Open Apology to J.S.


We were never particularly close; in fact, I always thought you were kind of a tool.  You were the stereotypical jock, swaggering down the halls of the school as if you owned the joint; that in and of itself gave me a strong distaste for you.  But the biggest reason I hated you was your classroom demeanor.  You consistently derided the thoughts and ideas of other students without ever putting yourself out there and letting people know your own notions.  It played well into that athletic bravado personality you wore, but to me it was like nails on a chalkboard.  The day we almost got into a fist fight after class because I had the audacity to call you on your bad behavior is still seared into my mind.  (I know this is a bizarre way to begin a letter of apology folks, but please roll with me for a moment.)

Shortly after I moved home after my enlistment in the Marine Corps ended, you made the news... more accurately, the death of your son made the news.  Junior's body was found in the creek, within a couple of blocks of where I was living at the time.  You were under the umbrella of suspicion - if not by the cops, then by the people of our home town.

Fast forward two decades, when I read that there had been an arrest in your son's murder.  I don't remember the guy's name, but that's not important.  What's important is that it wasn't you.  For twenty years, I believed that you were not only capable of taking your own boy's life, but that you actually did it.  I convicted you, not based on evidence, but on your boorish behavior as a high school boy.  I was part of the mob that wanted to burn you before the evidence was in.

I've been thinking about your innocence since hearing the news, and realizing how your life has literally been a made-for-TV movie.  I look at my own daughter, who is roughly the same age your son would be, and I can't imagine the hell you've experienced.  You lost your baby.  Your community (wrongly) convicted you.  You left town and started over, ostensibly building a life for yourself thousands of miles away from where the horror occurred.  I suspect that you found a measure of happiness, but your son was never far from your heart.  And then, years after you had resigned yourself to the fact that your baby's killer would never be found, it happened... an arrest, based on DNA evidence.  And now, I suspect the wound has been reopened.  This kind of thing shouldn't happen to anybody.

John, for what it's worth, I am sorry for being part of the masses who wrongly convicted you.  I apologize for callously believing that you took your boy's life.  I regret that I couldn't look beyond my own petty animosity.  Despite our differences in the past, you deserve better.  You deserve better from me, and you deserve better from your former community.

Monday, September 23, 2013

An Open Note to my Brother-in-Law


Broken hearts suck.  Right about now, you’re probably going through the motions of living, but you feel like you’re having an out of body experience.  You wish that you could just go to sleep for a couple of months, but the sleep won’t come.  When it finally does come, it’s not because it’s bedtime; bedtime has long passed.  You fall into a fitful state of half-consciousness out of sheer exhaustion.  The first couple of times you don’t dream at all, and you wake more tired than if you hadn’t slept at all.  The next couple of times the dreams are as vivid and memorable as a movie, but you’re still exhausted.  When you want to cry, the tears won't come.  When the waterworks start, they're unpredictable... sometimes it's a quick tear and a wistful sniffle.  Othertimes, you want to quit and just can't. I’m sorry you need to experience this.

When you’re not sleeping, you’re alternating between avoidance and obsession.  You want to take your mind off of the situation, so you play video games, but that hot chick in GTA IV with the nice rack inexplicably reminds you of her.  Every song, movie, article of clothing, and street corner somehow draws out a long-dormant memory of how it used to be.  Then you obsess and start to wonder what you could have done differently.  You want to ask her questions to find out what you did wrong.  I’ve felt your pain.

You’ve probably realized that things would be easier if she were dead.  At least then, you wouldn’t have to worry about running into her at (insert location here).  You wouldn’t have thoughts of revenge… the incessant desire to try to win her back… you wouldn't wonder if she’s already found somebody new.  Your friends, in a desperate attempt to cheer you up, tell you to hang tough, but the words ring hollow.  They tell you they’re sorry, but you feel like you’re the first one who’s experienced this pain.  Life sucks right now.

It’s funny how you had never realized how appropriate the term “broken heart” actually is.  Even when you’re at your happiest, (no, least unhappy more accurately describes how you feel) your heart still feels heavy and slightly numb.  Your stomach feels full of rocks.  The butterflies you felt when you first met have turned to big, hairy moths.  You forget to eat, and then you gorge yourself, if the knot in your belly will relax long enough to let food pass your esophagus.  Even drinking a glass of water is a chore.

You intellectually realize that it will get better, but that doesn’t make it suck any less right now.  You somehow know that you will be a bit stronger when this passes, but that’s no consolation today.  You know that a broken heart is part of life, and that virtually everyone has experienced this before, but you still feel alone.  I’m not going to give you hollow words of encouragement, but I am going to let you know that I’ve felt your pain, and tell you that you can give me a shout if you need to.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I Don't Support Action in Syria

Hot topic of the day... it looks like the US will be getting involved in the Syrian civil war.  I do not support our involvement because we just don't belong there.  At some point, we need to admit that we can't be the world's police.  Eventually, we need to acknowledge that we shouldn't "help" people who don't want our assistance.  Someday, we need to understand that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.  Ultimately, we must concede that not everyone thinks like we do; not everyone shares our values.  The Middle East has been a hotbed of violence for centuries.  They do not place the same value on human life that we do.  We've got to admit this, and let them fight it out for themselves.

If you agree with me, please contact your legislators and let them know.  To make it easier for you, I am including a link to help you find your congressman and senators, and I am providing sample text that you can simply cut and paste.  I am not naive enough to believe that there's never a good enough reason to go to war.  I do, however, believe that we don't have enough reason to join THIS war.

I'm not a huge fan of Glen Beck, but this video of his pretty much explains why I don't support our involvement in Syria.

Find your House Representative

Find your Senator

Sample Text:
I am writing to ask you to vote against authorizing any military action in Syria.  I understand that war is occasionally a necessary evil, but we have spent enough money, time, and human life trying to improve the lives of those who hate us.  At some point, we need to realize that we cannot be the world's police.  Eventually, we must understand that not everyone thinks like us.  Sometime, we have to acknowledge that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.  Please, let our military involvement in the Middle East end here.