In an Over-Communicated, Intrusive World, Simple is Better
Ed

Clason’s “The Richest Man in Babylon” Part 2 – The 7 Cures for a Lean Wallet and The 5 Laws of Money

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Part 1 of this 2 Part series ends the synopsis of George Clason’s book “The Richest Man in Babylon,” but Clason raises an important question: Why should
so few men be able to acquire so much gold?

The answer is because they know how.

One may not condemn a man for succeeding because he knows how. Neither may one with justice take away from a man what he has fairly earned, to give to men of less ability.

And so it was that the good king of Babylon sought out the richest man in Babylon to teach to others in his kingdom the secrets of his success.

This is a synopsis of what the richest man taught to the people
of Babylon:

The Seven Cures for a Lean Wallet

1) Start your wallet to fattening. Save one-tenth of all you earn. Remember that a part
of all I earn is mine to keep. Do this faithfully. Do not let the simplicity of this escape you.

When I ceased to pay out more than nine-tenths of my earnings,
I got along just as well.
I was not shorter than before, and, money came to me more easily than before.

2) Control your expenses. How is it that all do not earn the same yet all have lean wallets? Here is the truth: That which each of us calls our “necessary expenses” will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to
the contrary.

Confuse not necessary expenses with desires. We all have more desires than our earnings can gratify. Examine which of the accepted expenses of living can be reduced or eliminated. Let your motto be 100% of appreciated value demanded for every dollar spent.

Budget your expenses so that your actual necessities are met without spending more than nine-tenths of your earnings.

3) Make your money multiply. Protect your growing treasure by putting it to labor and increasing. Money in your wallet earns nothing. Money that we earn from our money is but a start; it is the earnings generating earnings that builds fortunes.

When the richest man in Babylon loaned money to the shield maker to buy bronze, he said this: “Each time I loaned money to the shield maker, I loaned back also the rental he had paid me. Therefore not only did my capital increase, but its earnings likewise increased.”

4) Guard your money from loss. Everyone has an idea of how to make quick money; few, however, have the evidence of making money to justify their idea, scheme or offer of quick riches. The first sound principle of investment is security for your principal.

Before you loan your money to any man assure yourself of his ability to repay your loan, and of his reputation to do so. Make no one a present of your hard-earned treasure.

Consult the wisdom of those experienced in handling money for profit. Such advice is often freely given for
the asking, and may possess more value than the amount you
are about to invest.

5) Make your home a profitable investment. When you can set aside only nine-tenths of what you earn to live, and can use a part of that nine-tenths to improve the investment in your housing, do it; owning your own home is also an investment that grows with your wealth.

Your family deserves a home they can enjoy and call their own. It builds a sense of stability and well-being.

6) Ensure a future income. Build income-producing assets that do not require you to work forever. We will all grow old and die.

You should prepare a suitable income for the days to come when you are no longer younger and cannot work as hard, and to make preparations for your family should you no longer be with them to comfort and support them. Provide in advance for the needs of your growing age, and the protection of your family.

7) Increase your
ability to earn.
Desire precedes accomplishment, and the desire must be strong and definite. When you have backed your desire for saving $1,000 with the strength and purpose to secure it, you can then save $2,000.

Desires must be simple and definite. Desires defeat their own purpose when they are too many, too confusing, or too difficult to accomplish. Cultivate your own powers to study and become wiser, more skillful, and more productive.

Here is more sage advice from Clason’s masterpiece on financial matters:

The 5 Laws of Money

If you had to choose, would you choose tons of money or wisdom? Most men would take the money, ignore the wisdom, and waste the money. Here is the wisdom:

1) Money comes gladly and in increasing quantities to any man who will put aside not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and the future of his family.

2) Money labors diligently and contently for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying unto itself in infinity if kept working diligently. Money multiplies itself in surprising fashion.

3) Money clings to
the protection of the cautious owner who invests it with the advice of men wise
in its handling.

4) Money slips away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes that he is not familiar with, or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep. The inexperienced handler of money who trusts his own judgment, and puts his money in investments which he is not familiar, always pays with his money for his experience.

5) Money flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings, or who follows the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers, or who
trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

Here is the hard lesson of the 5 Laws of Money: You cannot measure the value of wisdom in bags of money. Without wisdom, those who have it quickly lose money, but with wisdom, money can be secured by those who have it not.

This ends the condensation.

Family

Copyright © 2015 Ed Bagley

When we are born, grow and develop, we form a concept of what life has to offer.

If we grow up in a single-parent home without a father, have little exposure to an abundance of food, shelter and clothing, live in a low-income housing area, and experience poverty, drug activity and violence, our outlook on life is hardly positive.

If we grow up in a home with both a mother and father, have adequate to abundant food, shelter and clothing, live in a high-income housing area, and experience stability, substance, support, encouragement and opportunity our outlook on life is far more positive and productive.

We quickly learn our station in life, and as a youngster we also realize that we do not have the knowledge, experience, maturity, means and opportunity to easily overcome our circumstances when at an apparent disadvantage.

This is when our concept of what life has
to offer now also develops our expectations of what life has to offer, and whether we can, if disadvantaged, overcome our circumstances and begin to develop a new and better life for ourselves. Some of us manage to do this, others do not.

As we come to understand our exact circumstances and place in life, we face the challenge of what to do next.

It should come as no surprise that what happens to us as we muddle our way through the up and down process of growing up with what we perceive to be successes and failures, out attitude determines much of what happens to us.

If our attitude is negative, our personality will become more negative and people will see us as more as a liability than an asset, someone who is more difficult to satisfy and deal with.

We quickly learn that we have enough issues of our own without being burdened by the issues that others struggle with. Life does, after all, present all of us with challenges we need to overcome. It is as common as breathing to say that we all have our crosses to bear.

If our attitude is positive, our personality will become more positive and people will see us a normal, productive, positive person who is easy to be around and helpful to us.

The positive person will become a people magnet, someone everyone wants to be around and work with, that includes everyone except the negative person, who will likely see the positive person as someone more fortunate than themselves.

This can lead the negative person to jealousy, envy, anger, frustration, disappointment, and ultimately violence, causing no one to want to be around them or have them as a friend.

It is easy to say and sometimes harder to understand that attitude drives personality.

If you show me someone with a continual bad attitude I will show you someone who is a great candidate to develop a bad personality.

If you show me someone with a continual good attitude I will show you someone who is a great candidate to develop a good personality.

This is a fundamental fact of life, and what happens to us as we grow up and hopefully mature into productive, well-adjusted adults who can handle duties, responsibilities, commitments and obligations, and raise their children to do the same while becoming well-adjusted children in future generations.

Abraham Lincoln said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. You will agree that Abraham Lincoln was exactly right when you understand that attitude is a choice in your life. You have a choice to be positive or negative in every event in your life.

Some people say that life is about 10% of what happens to you and 90% about how you respond to what happens to you in life. Unless you are one of life’s greatest losers, you will be cheered up and motivated by stories about people who have overcome great odds to achieve amazing accomplishments.

This is where our concept of what life has to offer, and expectations of what life has to offer, meets our challenges of what life has to offer.

This is about whether our hopes, dreams, aspirations and achievements will be possible for us. One thing is for sure: unless believe we can do something, we never will.

Our attitude is so key as to whether we will be able to overcome our setbacks in achieving where we want to end up in life. When we believe something becomes possible to achieve, it will happen quicker when we bring a good attitude, ambition, effort, determination, acquired knowledge, skill development, understanding and maturity to the process.

Clearly, we can accomplish goals when we want to or need to, that is to say, we need a reason to do something, and it has to be a deep-seeded enough reason to overcome the obstacles on our way to accomplishing our goals and desires.

If you are hungry and starving, and need food to live, you will find a way to get food as an adult without stealing or begging for food. It is a matter of understanding that in any life event, there are only two outcomes: results or excuses.

We are ultimately exactly where we are in life as a result of the choices we have made.

If we want better results, we must make better choices. We may not achieve every one of our goals in life, but we can achieve many of them when we make the right choices at the right time for the right reasons.

If you do nothing more in life than do the right thing for the right reason, you will become very successful.

Success in life is much more than making the most money, living in the best house, driving the best car, or having the best vacations. Monetary and material success can certainly make your life easier, but it has little to with happiness.

If you ever expect to be happy, you have to add people to the equation. You must become other-centered rather than self-centered.

When you are single, you can afford to be self-centered if not happy. When you get married and have children, it is no longer just about you, it is also about your wife and children, who need your support, love, affection, understanding and encouragement.

All of us need something to do, someplace to go, and someone to share our life with, in other words, a job with a career or becoming the best housewife and mother, a home with security and love, and spouse or partner who you love as they love you.

Albert Schweitzer said it best: Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success.

No one with a bad attitude and a bad personality is happy, everyone with a good attitude and a good personality can enjoy happiness. Again, attitude rules the day, and ultimately where you end up in life.

Albert Schweitzer found his happiness in Africa. Schweitzer was a theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher and physician. In other words, a very smart, accomplished person.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophy of the “Reverence of Life”. His philosophy was expressed in many ways, but most famously for founding and sustaining the Albert Sweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, in the part of French Equatorial Africa which is now Gabon.

Sweitzer knew happiness; it was Sweitzer who first said:

“Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success”.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

(Editor’s Note: Part 2 dealt with A Man’s 5 Basic Tendencies: 1) He believes he is indestructible. 2) He believes his reach should exceed his grasp. 3) He believes he will live forever. 4) He needs someplace to go, something to do and someone to love. 5) Listen carefully to what a man says but watch what he does; what he does is who he is.)

4 Realities in a Man’s World

So men have 5 basic jobs and 5 basic tendencies. Now we must deal with four basic realties about men and world they live in.

1) How Men Are Judged. Our culture and society judge men by one yardstick more than any other: how much money do they make. A man who makes a lot of money is considered successful, even though he may be a lousy husband and father. He has little incentive to be something better.

This happens in part because men in the United States were traditionally perceived as the breadwinners of the family. That notion has long passed as more women need to work alongside their partner to support their family rather than remain home to raise their children.

Day care is everywhere. Too many kids come home and there is no parent in the house. Teens can get into trouble faster than they can turn around. They are also not as safe in today’s world; they are easy targets for predators.

I am told that only 25% of families are traditional in the sense that there is a father and mother who are married with children in the house.

We have as many people who are apparently single, many of whom have live-in boyfriends and other assorted arrangements too numerous to mention. Too many of these “roommates” are bums and leeches who do not even have a job, they sit around all day and try to look smart when they are not causing harm to the children.

It is sad that so many women need what little, misguided attention they get so badly that they will support these jerks and put their children in harms way at the same time.

All of this does exactly nothing to relieve the pressure on the men who do work to produce more money. It also distorts a man’s view of what is important and what is not important. Most men do not live a balanced life; their job or career dominates their life, many times to the exclusion of their marriage and children.

2) A man’s work is his life. This is an extension of the first reality of how a man is judged, but it is also a fact of life.

Men tend to be fixated on their work and view their work as their greatest mission in life; they have been told that their greatest mission is really to love their wife and children and be a good husband and father, but they usually find this injunction easy to ignore. It is much easier for them to treat their wife and children as a necessary duty or afterthought.

If you are foolish enough to think that this is more false than true ask yourself why most married couples spent only 3 to 5 minutes a day actually talking to each other. Hint: It is not because they do not have the time to do so.

3) Men and women are not alike in some obvious ways, but they are also not alike in their basic needs.

Generally, women want security. They want to be provided for financially. This is why they will marry a guy old enough to be their father, or a guy who is not as attractive to them. Women always worry about having enough money, and the older they get without enough money the more they worry about it.

Generally, men want respect and recognition, whether they are financially successful or not. If the woman treats a man like a king and thinks that he made the moon and set the sun in place, the man is not likely to stray very far from home.

If not, he may well become an absent husband and father. This is true whether he is home or not.

4) Women need to understand that a misguided son (not a daughter, but a son) is the responsibility of the father, not the mother.

This is because women cannot always control a willful son whose male ego will not allow him to listen to a woman. It is his father who must set an example for him, and keep him in line.

Too few men know and understand that they cannot be too critical of their son or they will hurt his self-esteem and self-confidence, two qualities every successful, productive man must have to function competitively in society. A man should shower his son with encouragement and positive reinforcement.

Nothing is more distressing to a successful man and former successful athlete than to see a father who coaches his son’s little league baseball team screaming at these youngsters for striking out in a critical situation or making a bad play.

Fathers who coach little league and cuss, scream, yell and berate youngsters are some of the biggest losers. Almost without exception they have been athletes who never did squat and are trying to overcome their shortcomings through their sons.

Do not be deceived by his cussing. Cussing is no more or no less than a sign of a low self-image. If you think listening to a man cussing on a recording is cute and so impressive because he is making a real statement about himself, you are wrong. It is not cute or appropriate at any time, and especially around children. Period. There are no exceptions.

Marry this man and you may live in hell. If he is overly critical of his son he will probably be overly critical of his daughter, his wife, his employer and his next door neighbor. This is a man who needs some professional help; you will not be able to overcome his ignorance.

A man of any age who will get a girl or a woman pregnant and then become absent forever is a lower life form, yet this is what happens all too often.

The reality is that not all men are cut out to be men, it is much easier for some of them to be totally self-centered and self-absorbed. Men who worry about their own happiness more than others lead a very unfulfilled life and pride themselves on their stupidity.

They become easy marks for evildoers and miscreants. Some of them end up in jail, others get killed in a deal gone wrong, but all of them lead miserable lives because they mortgaged their destiny by being irresponsible. They pay a heavy price and are no wiser in the end.

So women, now you know 14 things about men. Use this knowledge to better understand what drives men and why some men can be more interesting than others.

When you start making choices about what you should do with boys and men in the friendship cycle, the dating cycle, the relationship cycle and the marriage cycle, always remember this: listen to what a man has to say very carefully, but watch what he does. What he does is who he is. And that is what you get–who he is, not who he says he is. Do not be fooled, be smart in your choices.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

(Editor’s Note: Part 1 dealt with A Man’s 5 Basic Jobs: 1) Defend his loved ones. 2) Protect his loved ones. 3) Provide for his loved ones. 4) Encourage his loved ones. 5) Lead his loved ones. Part 3 will appear tomorrow.)

A Man’s 5 Basic Tendencies

But, alas, women it is not to be. Here is where your dream world begins to fall apart.

Just as a man has 5 fingers on his right hand there are 5 creative tendencies a man must overcome to live out his life.

1) He believes he is indestructible. I know this is not rational, is silly and difficult to believe, however, it is tied to his ego and allows him to also do the five jobs his analytical mind tells him he must do.

It is because a man can be an extremely competitive creature that he can put his life on the line for his family when defending them and protecting them.

A man, especially when he is younger, can be exciting, dangerous and foolish. He will buy his dream sports car and drive it down the freeway as fast as he can to see how fast he can go, and sometimes with his loved ones in the car.

He will dive off of a 50-foot cliff to see if he can meet the water in the 10-foot space between the rocks below. Sometimes he will accomplish that feat, sometimes he will become paralyzed and sometimes he will kill himself in a fit of bravado.

Generally, somewhere around age 40 or 50 he will work in the yard all day Saturday and be totally stunned when he cannot get out of bed Sunday morning. This is the point in his life when he realizes he is not the man he used to be.

If he uses the brains God gave him he will not continue take risky chances. If he has learned anything from the experience, he will begin to live a more sane life.

2) He believes his reach should exceed his grasp. A man will try to do more than he is physically, mentally and emotionally capable of doing. He will set impossible goals and then prove he cannot achieve them.

He will set no limits on himself. He has an ego. He will work himself to death while ignoring his marriage, his children and the needs of his family, and he will justify this behavior because he can barely get past his third job: provide for his family.

He will justify his behavior in his mind because sometimes he is really escaping a situation at home that he does not want to face. Rather than face the music he is willing to play the music alone and suffer the consequences, generally divorce.

Couples can fight about money and how to raise their children, but when they end up in divorce court it is usually because of a lack of communication. How many times have you heard a woman say he just won’t talk to me?

When your man is not talking to you ladies, that is the first sign that your marriage is in trouble.

3) He believes he will live forever. No kidding. He actually believes he will live forever. It never really occurs to him that he will die someday. He has been told this more than once; he comprehends what is being said, but he really does not believe it.

Women do not share this problem. I expect because they become very aware of just how fragile life is when birthing a newborn.

It generally does not even occur to a man that he will die until he is well past 50. When this realization strikes him, it is like a bolt of lighting. Sometimes it occurs when his father dies, and then he realizes that he is next.

There are things that you will notice when his belief in this matter changes.

He will not leave home when the guys come by to go drinking and watch the game. He will become more aware about who he is with, where he is at and what he is doing. He now realizes that the meter on the taxi is running. He now understands that the alarm has been set on his clock, and it is ticking down.

4) Someone once said that every man needs someplace to go, something to do and someone to love. I believe that they are correct. Think about it.

A man needs someplace to go, this is the explorer in him. A man needs something to do, this is the automatic work ethic in him. He must be at work, or he could be a nuisance at home. A man needs someone to love because he needs acceptance.

You will notice that a woman who loses her husband at age 50 because he has worked himself to death can live another 30 years without a man in her life and be quite content. A man who loses his wife at age 50 will find another woman very soon or he will die, literally.

When a man loses his partner, he will make it his business to find another, and he will not make a career out of it because he already has a career. A man loses his woman and six months or a year later he marries again, usually to someone younger.

Many men do not wait to lose their wife. When they perceive they have lost something in a relationship, they simply dump their wife and find a younger model. I do not have to give women names; they can name on cue the men who have done so, both the famous and the infamous.

5) This is the most salient advice that I can give a woman about men: Listen carefully to what a man says but watch what he does, what he does is who he is. A man will always whisper sweet nothings in a woman’s ear but once he is out of bed he barely notices his conquest.

In today’s world young girls and young women have bought into the media hype that they need to walk around half naked and sleep with any guy if they want to date or have any shot at a relationship. They are being hoodwinked.

Our culture and society has become so liberal, so permissive, so pleasure seeking and so self-centered and self-absorbed that the mantra is all about me. Young girls have Paris Hilton, Britany Spears and Lindsay Lohan as role models.

What young girls and young women need to know is that after young boys and young men have had their way with them they will discard them like they would a hot dog wrapper at a baseball game.

When these same young boys become young men and think about marriage they will not be interested in used goods. Any girl or young woman who has been passed around and has slept with multiple partners will get less attention.

A man who is worth marrying and having children with has learned impulse control and has the ability to feel an urge and delay acting on it. A man who cannot or will not control himself is no better than the girls and young women he is indiscriminately sleeping with.

Someone arbitrarily decided that casual sex does no damage whatsoever to one’s psyche or emotional well being. They are, of course, dead wrong but too immature to realize it and calculate the damage.

Oftentimes when they grow up they are unable to have a lasting relationship and they wonder why. This is true for both men and women. I do not have to postulate about this, the divorce rate, heartache and failed relationships prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If the fundamental basis of a marriage is great sex, you have a serious problem that is not going to go away. Marriage should be for a long time and great sex at some point may not survive the duties and responsibilities of living.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Some men say they cannot live with women and they cannot live without women.

I think they mean they do not understand women.

I choose to celebrate women as a necessary and wonderful addition to a man’s world and would rate women as the 4th most important gift from my maker God, who happens to be a man and not a woman.

I choose to not be confused by women who insist that God is a woman and not a man; their lack of perception on this matter is entirely their problem and shall remain so.

Women are God’s 4th most important gift, following the gift of life (1st), the gift of free will (2nd) and the gift of faith (3rd).

Without the gift of life all would be null and void and this explanation meaningless.

Without the gift of free will a man would not be able to make choices and decisions and thus would be rendered useless both to him and her.

Without faith we would not be able to believe in God.

Since women are a necessary and wonderful addition to a man’s world here are 14 things that every woman should know about men.

A Man’s 5 Basic Responsibilities

Just as a man has five fingers on his left hand there are five jobs his analytical mind tells him he must do:

1) Defend his loved ones. A man is the first responder to any unexpected threats to his loved ones. That means putting his life on the line if necessary. He is bigger, stronger and more aggressive than those he loves and will fight dearly to keep them safe.

2) Protect his loved ones. A man protects his loved ones from any perceived threats. He is street smart, he sees trouble coming and keeps his family out of harms way.

3) Provide for his loved ones. A man figures out a way to generate income either working for others or making his own way in the world. He supplies the basic needs for his family—food, shelter, clothing and transportation.

4) Encourage his loved ones. A man must be the lighthouse in stormy times of crisis and challenge. His job is to be stable, sensible, resourceful and ready to encourage his family through tough times. He must put on a brave face and have a big heart when compassion and understanding are needed. He understands that the way to overcome fear is to take action despite the danger or risk in doing so.

5) Lead his loved ones. A man must be the leader for his loved ones in several critical areas:

Generating Income. He should be the main source of providing for the basic needs of the family.

Handling Discipline. He should realize and act when his loved ones need to toe the mark.

Improving His Knowledge and Skills. He should use education and training to get on in the world.

Developing Spiritual Growth. He needs to recognize a greater power than himself so that when he is no longer there to provide and to comfort his family they are not alone in the world.

Developing Personal Growth. He needs not only the professional growth that education and training can help provide, but he also needs personal growth. He needs to be able to change his thought process, belief system and core being so that he is not the same bigoted person that he was 40 years ago.

Providing Recreational Opportunities. He should provide fun, family activities for his loved ones so the challenge of simply performing our daily responsibilities does not become onerous.

Being a Role Model. He should become a role model for behavior, values, ethics and morals that is worth emulating.

If a man had only his left hand and only lived with his left hand he would indeed be an incredible creature when fulfilling the 5 jobs his analytical mind tells him he must do. Tomorrow you will learn why a man has a right hand, with the 5 fingers signifying his 5 basic tendencies.

(Ed’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Series.)

Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley

A friend of mine recently suffered the loss of her father. I bought her a sympathy card and then felt that at such a difficult time in her life it was so inadequate. So I wrote her the following letter and share it with you because I believe my message to her is timeless in a time of need.

My Dearest Mary,

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father.

Words on a card are so inadequate to express how we feel when describing a tragedy. There is such a sting when our heart breaks from sadness, and we sense that we will never be the same. We seek understanding and sometimes find ourselves alone with our thoughts when we ask: Who could have meant so much to us as the one we have lost?

I find it difficult to accept the notion that death is part of life. One seems so alive and real, and the other so quiet and distant. I would be totally lost in accepting what is so natural and normal were it not for the fact that my life journey is also my faith journey.

Thank goodness that God is in my life. He stands with us at our greatest hour of need. God brings us three vital elements when tragedy strikes our life:

1) He is with us when we are with Him.

2) He loves us and comforts us as no one else can.

3) He takes us to a better place.

I found I could bridge the gap between life and death, and death and life, through my faith walk with understanding and wisdom. Understanding comes from developing a gentle heart, and maturity in living.

Wisdom, however, does not come from learning. One could read every book in every library in the world and still not have wisdom. Wisdom only comes from God, and we must ask Him for it. It is through the grace of God that we enjoy wisdom, He freely gives it to us, but we must ask Him for it.

It has been 11 years since I flew back to Michigan to be a caregiver for my mother during her final days. She displayed such courage and grace when her time to pass had come. It was a beautiful example of modeling at a critical time for both of us.

I was very close to my mother. You have perhaps seen the medal I wear around my neck. Many who see it think that it is a medal of Mary. It is a medal of St. Mildred, an obscure saint who lived in England during the early Middle Ages and died around the year 700.

My mother Mildred was not Catholic, she was Lutheran. She had lived a somewhat turbulent life early on, and had her only two daughters (and my only two sisters) precede her in death. She lived her later life as the very best person she could be.

I wear the medal to honor her, but the truth is that I want her to know that she is in my heart and will always have a special place in my heart.

I believe that God is at work in the world today, and I choose to believe that my mother is as well. When I was a child, I was raised by my grandparents who taught me my prayers in German. When I said the words “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” I wondered how safe I might be.

Today we say the “Holy Spirit” and for years I wondered who or what was the Holy Spirit. Now I understand that the Holy Spirit is manifested in the love we show to one another.

The real heroes of our time are not the rich, the famous, the rock stars, or the professional athletes. The real heroes are the people who reach out to others with loving kindness.

It is an act very similar to integrity, it is what you do in the dark when no one is looking, and especially when you do it without personal gain or glory. My mother was one of those heroes.

I am reminded about what Ralph Waldo Emerson had to say about kindness: “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for your never know how soon it will be too late”.

After my mother died I flew back home to Washington and something amazing happened. When I returned to work, I felt her presence about me every day for two weeks. It was as if she was reaching out to comfort me.

It seemed as if by the grace of God she had been lifted up to do His work as a guardian angel here on Earth, and by the grace of God had been given a two-week gift to minister to anyone of her choice before she began her new life.

After 14 days I felt her leave, but I was overcome with the knowledge that God is indeed at work in the world through His minions of believers.

I was immediately reminded of my grandfather and namesake, Edward Louis Baker, a self-taught man of integrity, decency and honesty who lived his life as a happy man, secure in his final destiny.

May God continue to bless you, your father, and your family. You, your father, and your family are in my prayers.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

When a young man is horny and looking for satisfaction, his first thought is not about getting a girl pregnant and raising the child, in or out of wedlock.

When a young girl is needy for attention and approval, her first thought is not about getting pregnant and raising her child without the father of the child.

When the needy young man meets the needy young woman a lot can happen that will forever affect the life of both parents and the child they carelessly created as emotions overruled their thought process and good sense.

This everyday occurrence is endemic and problematic in America’s black community.

There are millions of black men who act responsibly in their relationships and responsibilities as a father and husband in their marriage, yet they get scant notice for their courage and commitment to do the right thing.

In far too many cases, they have been raised by a single mother who was abandoned the instant the father of the baby found out she was pregnant.

Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama is speaking out to the black community about the issue of absent fathers.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson detailed Obama’s straightforward message and call to accountability in a recent article.

Robinson quotes Obama as saying “there are a lot of men out there who need to stop acting like boys; who need to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; who need to know that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one.”

Obama also said that “Many black men simply cannot afford to raise a family—and too many have made the sad choice not to.”

I personally believe that a high percentage of those same men who cannot afford to raise a family do manage to do well enough to support drinking and/or drug habits, perhaps illegally in some cases and simply as a matter of irresponsibility and neglect in other cases.

Obama’s men-acting-like-boys speech was given in a black church in South Carolina, an early-primary state where half of the Democratic voters are African American.

In a telephone interview with Robinson, Obama chose his words carefully when he said “The key to having this conversation constructively is to realize that there’s really no excuse for not behaving responsibly toward our children.”

I believe Obama’s view on absent fathers is correct, productive and healthy.

Obama should know as he grew up without his father. Obama acknowledged that his mother—struggling to raise two children as a single parent—at times needed to rely on food stamps to make it through the month.

As with any single parent, Obama’s mother needed courage, determination, dedication and tremendous commitment to get the job done, all qualities that Obama’s father apparently lacked.

Obama rose above his circumstances to become a United States senator and presidential candidate. No wonder his appeal is currently so great among Americans who appreciate a voice for change.

As a white American I hope Obama’s message to the black community becomes a catalyst for change for those black men who most need to listen, learn and leave their errant ways behind and take responsibility for their actions.

They have only to look to the single mothers they abandoned to learn how to become a “real man” and take their rightful place in the family as a leader rather than as a worthless excuse for a father.

In doing so they will rise above a long line of absent fathers of all colors who abandon their children and responsibilities for a temporary sexual act.

A daughter is a blessing
straight from God above.

She’s full of fun and laughter
and reminds us of our love.

She wanders just a little,
and we wonder how she goes,

And then a little later,
she seems back on her toes.

We watch her learn and grow
and help her on her way.

And soon the years begin to pass
just like another day.

Now she’s all grown,
and clearly we can see,

We never needed worry,
She’s perfect as can be.

Love, Dad 2014

((Ed’s Note: Every now and then a Dad might want to write a poem about his daughter.)

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Author Is Unknown:

Marriage is a commitment. Its success doesn’t depend on feelings, circumstances, or moods — but on two people who are loyal to each other and the vows they took on their wedding day.
Marriage is hard work. It means chores, disagreements, misunderstandings, and times when you might not like each other very much. When you work at it together, it can be the greatest blessing in the world.

Marriage is a relationship where two people must listen, compromise, and respect. It’s an arrangement that requires a multitude of decisions to be made together. Listening, respecting, and compromising go a long way toward keeping peace and harmony.

Marriage is a union in which two people learn from their mistakes, accept each other’s faults, and willingly adjust behaviors that need to be changed. It’s caring enough about each other to work through disappointing and hurtful times and believing in the love that brought you together in the first place.

Marriage is patience and forgiveness. It’s being open and honest, thoughtful and kind. Marriage means talking things out, making necessary changes, and forgiving each other. It’s unconditional love at its most understanding and vulnerable – love that supports, comforts, and is determined to triumph over every challenge and adversity.

Marriage is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals . . . they are even better together.

In sharing these thoughts on marriage today, I would invite you to think about the marriage of Mary and Joseph and the birth of the baby Jesus, who would become our redeemer and savior. Amen.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

(Editor’s Note: The following editorial by Francis P. Church was first published in The New York Sun in 1897 in response to an 8-year-old girl’s letter to the editor, and is arguably the most famous editorial ever written in an American newspaper. This incredible piece of writing happened when newspapers were the primary means of communication. In 1897 there was no mass communication by radio, television, computers, cell phones and the associated technical goodies we have today. Readers actually believed and trusted in newspapers. Now we do not believe and trust in newspapers anymore than we do in politicians.)

Here is how Francis P. Church responded to Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter:

“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except (in what) they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal (supernal means “of exceptional quality or extent”) beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

About the Exchange
Francis P. Church’s editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in The New York Sun in 1897, more than a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,’ and that settled the matter.

‘Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,’ I said to father.

He said, ‘Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does’.”

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer.

Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply that was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia University, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator.

Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

It’s a funny thing about the lessons you learn in life. Not all of them are learned on the way to school. Some are learned on the way home from school.

Take Mikey (pronounced Mike-ee), one of my classmates. I wouldn’t know what he looks like today, where he’s at or what he’s doing. No Matter. I knew Mikey like the flat of my stomach in my elementary school days.

Mikey used to get his kicks smacking me in the gut on the way home from school. He thought it was fun to see me double over in pain, fall in a mud puddle and slink home with defeated tears.

I was always taught not to punch people out when they were punching you.

Like the Good Book says, turn the other cheek and pray for survival. Hope the creep will leave before he beats you senseless, or takes your life before you can try out for the Little League baseball team.

Fortunately, I came home once too often in this condition. My Grandpa Baker, God rest his soul, had better sense. He sat me down one day and asked what was going on.

I told him, because you can tell a Grandpa a lot of things you just wouldn’t tell anyone else. I was raised by my maternal grandparents the first 5 years of my life. After living more than 6 decades, I can say with confidence and gratitude that everything good in life I learned from my grandparents before my mother re-married. Grandpa had a sure-fire cure for Mikey.

He explained that as long as Mikey was allowed to slug me in the gut, he would think this was proper behavior and part of his daily schedule. Grandpa then gave me some advice and the next day I set his plan in motion:

Mikey lived at the other end of the block, so I went to Mikey’s house to see if he was home. He was, so I invited him out to play. Trust me when I say this was a first, I was never looking for trouble; trouble had found me too many times. I could already see his gleam as Mikey bounded down the steps, his eyes lit up like a Fourth of July firecracker.

When Mikey was square in front of me—I wound up and, without warning, slugged him just as hard as I could in the stomach. Mikey was suddenly speechless as well as not standing. Wherever I hit him, it was lethal.

In a few moments, he was screaming like there was no tomorrow. I turned around and casually walked home as his mother screamed at me in the distance.

A strange thing happened after that.

Mikey NEVER touched me again. Matter of fact, we sort of became friends.

Both Mikey and I grew up a little that day. I learned how to handle Mikey, and Mikey learned a new respect for me.

Prior to delivering my position on Mikey’s behavior to Mikey, I was as soft in the head as I was in the stomach.

The moral of this story is that some people don’t understand anything but brute force.

This is a fact of life that a lot of people have never learned. As a Vietnam Veteran, I can tell you that if someone is pointing a weapon at you, you had better fire your weapon first, and fire it accurately.

Even today—some 55 years after I smacked Mikey—I feel some humanitarians and bleeding heart, far-left liberal sympathizers will never learn some very basic lessons about people and what makes them tick.

Take a casual look at the American system of criminal justice. Look at the victims, look at the suspects, look at the lawyers, look at the courts, look at the convicted criminals, look at the prisons, and look at the rehabilitation programs.

I’m just an average American, but you don’t have to be a law enforcement officer, a lawyer, a justice, a prison warden or a victim to figure out that our present system makes about as much sense as a soft-boiled egg.

We say we respect life, but our practice is to ignore the victims of a crime and spend all of our time protecting the rights of the criminals, and finding ways to try rehabilitating the criminals.

It never occurs to us that some of the criminals are not worth the effort. Helping the families of victims would produce more positive results.

An added note: I am now past 70, and it is Tuesday, August 8, 2014. Today, all I hear about is how bad bullying is. Here is a word of advice from someone who knows: There can be no bullying without a victim.

When you choose NOT to be a victim (refuse to be influenced by what others say, think and do), the bully will have to find someone else to affect adversely. This may not totally stop his or her bullying, but at least they will stop bullying you, because it only works for them if you choose to be a victim.

Copyright © 2012 Ed Bagley

If you could choose only one, would you rather have money, power, fame or health? And why?

Most of us have had our share of ups and downs in life.

When we were at our lowest point, we probably wondered how different our life would be if we suddenly came into some found money, or increased influence, or instant and intense attention, or lost weight without real focus and discipline.

The tendency to think our future would change is irresistible. But would it change for the better?

Here’s my take on whether it’s smarter—given the opportunity—to choose money, power, fame or health:

Let’s start with money because “it makes the world go round’. Money can do a lot of things. It can make your creditors vanish. It can make lenders suck up to you. It can cause much poorer people to buy you dinner just to be in your company.

It can get you the best table at a restaurant on the waterfront with a view. It can get you a luncheon meeting with a celebrity or a top-end producer.

Money can also bring some unwanted attention. It attracts all manner of “gorgeous” suitors to your side, begging with eager eyes and huge mounds to put some bang into your evening. It can also bring tax problems and IRS agents, eager to take away your newfound cash.

It can bring friends and relatives you never had, with sob stories about how they need your cash more than you do. They will be the ones who will love you the most when they want the money, and then hate you the most when you don’t give it to them.

Even if you win millions in the lottery, the reality is that too many lottery winners lose the money they have not earned because they have never been taught or learned how to keep and grow money. Most lottery winners are like drunken sailors on leave, they use their six months at sea figuring how to spend all of their money on wants rather than needs.

Unfortunately, money seldom brings us anything of substance that really matters. Money cannot buy us happiness. Money cannot buy us love. Money cannot buy us health. The people without money can enjoy the simple pleasures of life just as easily as those with money–like sunrises, sunsets, walks in the park, playing board games, spending time with family and friends, working up a sweat exercising, reading a good book, or watching a movie or live theater.

Someone first said that the best things in life are free. And have you ever thought that if you won big bucks in the lottery, it would deprive you of the satisfaction of making it in the world on your own?  There is something important to be said about working hard and achieving your goals by clear thinking and sweat equity.

When it is difficult to earn money, you are not so anxious to spend it recklessly. When gifted or loaned money, it slips through your hands like a hot knife through butter.

Power is another matter. Power suggests influence and creates a welcome bed for wrong-doing. People with perceived power tend to use it for ill-gotten personal aggrandizement.

Daniel Webster had this to say about power: “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

Power among high-level bureaucrats is almost legendary, as many of them become dictators. Even low-level bureaucrats like to lord it over the citizens they should be serving rather than aggravating. Should you question their use of power, you might be subjected to a bevy of bureaucrats ready to do you substantial harm. All pigs eat out of the same trough.

Politicians on both sides of the fence tend to eat each other alive when in power. They think nothing of launching a Congressional investigation into a minor happening and, when both sides are in agreement to their benefit, they ignore inquiry into a major issue, such as taking a pay raise in a down economy while raising taxes to continue salary increases and benefits for their fellow government staff members and supporters.

The effect of power among high-level military officers and law enforcement officers is no less so, and they carry and use guns and associated weapons.

Lord Acton, an English historian, said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Man, was he ever right. More than one inquiring soul has learned that it is best not to upset a high-level righteous bureaucrat, politician, military officer or law enforcement officer.

When I was managing editor of the daily newspaper in Westfield, Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy and his handlers ALWAYS came calling for my endorsement during an election year. When I owned and operated a newspaper publishing company, many local citizens thought I had a power position in the community because of the newspaper I published.

When they told me so, I reminded them that the only power I had was what they thought I had; virtually all of them had no idea what I was talking about.

In truth, people are about as powerful as we believe them to be. When people in a power position start killing people and ruining the lives of others, their power becomes a lot more obvious.

There is also great danger in being powerful as someone always wants to kill you to replace you, and many a dictator has met death on his way to the forum. When you live by the sword, you can just as easily die by the sword.

Clearly, power is a dangerous game and, when combined with money, becomes toxic to control—the propensity to do wrong (and get caught) is all but inevitable.

And then there is fame. Andy Warhol coined the phrase “15 minutes of fame”, wherein a person experiences a short-lived, fleeting moment of publicity or celebrity that melts away faster than a dewdrop in the hot morning sun.

An example happened recently to a woman in New Jersey who went to the tanning booth so often she looked more like a deep-fried Twinkie than a responsible adult. All you need to know is that the “15 minutes of notoriety” did not cure her need to go to the tanning salon and, once informed, people quickly forgot about her.

There are several attention-getters willing to commit stupid pranks or even heinous crimes just to get noticed. Hollywood types who have fallen out of favor will do literally anything, even absurd behavior, just to get back into the news; they figure even bad news is better than no news, and they are absolutely right, too many of us are drawn to stupid behavior because it fools us into thinking it makes us look smarter for not having done so.

It has been said than fame is a fickle suitor. Once lost, it never seems the same again. Fame also comes to those who least expect it. There are a number of famous professional athletes who were stocking grocery shelves and three weeks later were playing the big leagues. It almost seems unfair that fame can come to you unannounced and then leave as suddenly as it arrived.

Some people can’t wait for fame to arrive, and others are upset when it does. Fame, even for 15 minutes, can be overwhelming, and fame that lasts can be unrelenting, presenting an opportunity and a paycheck for the paparazzi.

Health is given and can also be taken away. Some of us are born with a genetic makeup that allows us talent, intelligence and longevity, and, should we take advantage of the opportunities that life serves up, we can reap great benefits. This great possibility is cast against a youngster who, through no fault of his own, contracts and dies of cancer during a single-digit existence.

While we can contribute to our well-being through regular exercise, eating wisely and avoiding obvious dangers, a good half of who we are is genetic and cannot be influenced by our behavior, attitude or will. We are at the mercy of life itself, or a higher power when you develop a spiritual awareness and choose to believe in a greater power.

That said, I believe I would choose health over money, power or fame. At the very least, without health I probably would not be a candidate for money, fame or power given my own volition and means. 

In its best state, health allows me to enjoy life without significant money, fame or power. Sometimes it is better to be the captain of your own rowboat than a 5th mate on an ocean liner. Good health allows you to be self-sufficient, independent, responsible and accountable for your own actions. I really determine my own success or failure. I can really only control myself, and even not then when I lose my health.

I would rather lose money, fame and power than my health. Should I lose money, fame or power, it can be potentially gained back again through focus, hard work and determination. Health, once lost, is never regained. Should you lose your eyesight, it will be gone forever.

Give me health, something to do, someplace to go and someone to love, and I will be happy, because people are, as Abe Lincoln has said, about as happy as they want to be.

Never forget that when we blame others for our condition in life, we give up our ability to change. Worse yet, if we lack the will for change, there is no one who can show us the way. We can only become better by being willing to change, and making better choices in doing so.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

A lot of us remember our mother, and for good reason.

Should someone pose the same question to me that I have asked of you, I would never hesitate to talk about the most important person in my life, my mother.

I had two fathers, one that left when I was only a month old (he was not sure I was his son, and so he divorced my mom), and one that arrived when I was 5 (he had a 40-word vocabulary, 20 of which were cuss words). I did not realize until much later that my step-dad did not know several foreign languages (he actually did know cuss words in at least three languages).

It might be sad to admit that I have no idea who my father is, but in the greater scheme of things, it does not really matter all that much because he was never a part of my life.

My mother was.

Both of my fathers provided examples of what not to do when being a husband, father and role model. Given the circumstances, one becomes what one sees, or one makes it a point to never become what one sees. I chose to ignore the fathers who never were.

Both the father on my birth certificate and my step-father certainly thought that they did the best that they could, it’s just that what they did was not that good. Both of them raised being self-centered to an art form.

My mother apparently had a somewhat rocky start in life, and was probably not the best mother a child could have had, but she became a fighter, for herself and her children.

She suffered through two of her daughters preceding her in death, and often said “It is a great life if you can stand to live it.”

I was raised essentially by my maternal grandparents for the first 5 years of my life, and everything good that I first learned was from them.

After living nearly seven decades I can tell you without qualification that my grandparents were the salt of the earth. They started out as farmers in Illinois before the turn of the century and moved north to Michigan when farming became impossible.

They were Midwest stock, always recognized and honored God, and whatever homespun wisdom I have came from watching them very carefully, and always loving them as they loved me.

That said, my mother was the biggest backer that I ever had.

She loved me when I was not lovable, despite my faults and shortcomings. She stood by me and fought for me when others would not. She encouraged me, financed me, and believed in me.

My mother was a study in self-improvement, she actually worked her entire life trying to become a better person, and spend the last 30 years of her life, in my judgment, becoming close to an angel here on earth.

In the end, she was not self-centered or self-absorbed but naturally served others with love and compassion. She became an incredible woman, and many were saddened on the day of her passing.

She was not a movie star, she was not famous, and she was not rich. She simply had the most important job in the world, she was a mother.

She was the only one who could comfort her son in his most distraught times, like when his first love in high school found another, and he thought his heart would never again be whole.

There must have been 40 flower arrangements at her funeral, and one was a beautiful (although artificial) purple and yellow arrangement. I brought that arrangement back from Michigan with me 12 years ago, and to this day, it sits beside me at my office in Tacoma (WA).

My mother is never more than an arm’s reach away from me.

Shortly after her funeral I was passing through a religious articles store that a Catholic order of nuns was closing down. There I found a medal of Saint Mildred, an obscure Catholic saint from the Middle Ages.

My mother was not Catholic, but her name was Mildred, and that medal has been around my neck, day and night, for 18 years, in honor of her.

As a father and grandfather, my message to all mothers is to love your spouse, love your children, love your family, and however mundane you feel your existence may sometimes be, remember that your most important mission in life is to be a mother.

There will be no greater calling, and there will be no greater reward.

Your legacy is established, and your love will not be forgotten by those you love and serve. They will love you forever as you have loved them.

May God Bless You and Your Family this Wonderful Mother’s Day,

(I love you Mom. If you were alive today, you would be 98 years old.)

The Love of a Mother

(Ed’s Note: This article touched me. I hope it touches you the same way.)

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage.

One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick.

When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing
that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze arrived and the heat had scorched her small body; the mother had remained steadfast because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.” (The Holy Bible, Psalm 91:4)

Two incidents in the United States in 2008 caused me to wonder if we should be more concerned about the apparent violence among our children.

In one incident, six teenage girls lured an apparent cheerleader squad member to a friend’s home and then brutally gang attacked her with a vicious 30-minute beating in retaliation for some remarks she apparently made about them online. Two teenage boys helped the beating along by serving as lookouts.

Upon her arrival, the victim was struck in the head several times and then had her head slammed into a wall, knocking her unconscious. She awoke on a couch surrounded by the six girls who proceeded, one at a time, to beat her senseless while using several video cameras to record the beating for posting on YouTube online.

The victim suffered a concussion, damage to her left eye and left ear, and numerous bruises. The six female suspects were all charged with felony battery and false imprisonment.

The county sheriff described the beating as a “pack mentality” with “animalistic behavior”. These are supposedly cheerleaders at a school and at least the victim has been described as an honor student.

While all the facts are not in and the legal process will play itself out, it does appear certain that the attackers were immature, self-centered, self-absorbed young teenage girls, far more concerned about protecting their image and stature (as sorry as it is) than acting like civilized members of society.

This is an extreme and pathetic example of how some of our young girls resolve their frustrations today. They beat each other up in their viciousness and stupidity and then pride themselves on how clever they are to videotape the event for posting on the Internet.

No amount of protestations by their parents that they are bright, competent, sensitive, caring, mature young women can erase their abhorrent and intolerable behavior. It goes without saying that the two young men who served as lookouts are no better.

The second incident involved a college fast-pitch softball game wherein an opposing player hit her first-ever home run with two runners on base and, when passing and missing first base on her trip around the bases, she abruptly stopped to go back and collapsed with a knee injury.

It was a close game, and if she could not touch all bases on her way home, she would be declared out. She was injured so badly she could not even stand up. Her teammates could not help her or she would be declared out. A pinch runner could have been called in and the homer would then only count as a single.

In a stunning display of understanding, compassion and sportsmanship, the opposing team’s first baseman and shortstop came over and picked up the injured player, carefully carrying her around the bases and lowering her at each base so she could touch all of the bases and have her home run count.

“You deserve it,” said the first baseman, “you hit it over the fence.”

There was not a dry eye among the injured player’s teammates when she reached home base in the arms of her opponents. The injured player’s coach, a 14-year coaching veteran, called the act of sportsmanship “unbelievable.”

The injured player’s team would go on to win the game 4-2, and eliminate the opposing team, which lost its chance at a conference title and advancing to the playoffs.

One of America’s greatest sportswriters said it best: “When the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks, not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”

Both sets of young women in both incidents had a choice to make. The difference between the two choices is clear: you can choose to be self-centered or other-centered.

The low self-image, low self-esteem and low self-confidence level of the six girls who brutally attacked their friend with intent to harm her did not allow them to think of anyone else. Their fragile egos were so harmed by some apparent criticism that they needed to beat their teammate senseless and then post video on the Internet to recover any sense of self-worth.

The fact that some of our youngsters today cannot handle adversity is disturbing. While spending time behind bars before they were released into the custody of their parents, they joked about whether they would make cheerleading practice the next day. The fact that they apparently showed no remorse is even more disturbing. It is one thing to make a terrible mistake; it is another to think it is so funny it becomes evil.

The six teenage girls who brutally beat up their friend have some lessons in life to learn, and perhaps their parents as well. Here are eight lessons they could consider:

1) If you lack the will for change, there is no one who can show you the way.

2) When you blame others, you give up your power to change.

3) Your own thoughts and feelings are the cause of all your problems, not the world or the people in it.

4) The day you start taking responsibility for your actions, and become accountable for your actions, is the day you will start to mature as an adult.

5) What you think about me is none of my business. What is most important is what I think about myself.

6) Always remember that no matter what anyone is saying to you from the outside, the most important conversation is the one you are having with yourself on the inside.

7) Develop some character. Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.

8) Develop some integrity. Integrity is what you do in the dark when no one can see you, and even more so when you stand to profit by doing the wrong thing.

(Ed’s Note: This article was written in 1976, 38 years ago, on the occasion of my daughter’s birth, and was first published in The Lacey Leader, the newspaper I owned and operated for 8 years. As a Christian, I celebrate the Resurrection of Christ rising from the dead this Easter Sunday so that all who believe might have eternal life. It is a joy for me to recount this miracle with you, recognizing that the birth of life is both a miracle and mystery to be cherished among all of our living experiences.)

I have lived on this Earth 31 years, but Saturday night was the first time I had ever seen a miracle.

It started in the dead of sleep at 5 a.m. For four hours I slept on like a newborn baby. It was nothing unusual for me—the freight train that cuts Patterson Lake in two could detour through our bedroom, and I would probably not wake up.

Inside Annette—while I cut through zees like rewrite copy—a slow stirring began. Soon it became sharp pains. Finally I woke at 9 a.m. to greet the new day and found out Annette had been up at 5 wondering if her time had come. It had.

We checked into St. Peter Hospital at 11 a.m. and began an even longer wait. Soon it was 1 p.m., then 3 and 5 and 7 and 9 and her labor continued. The baby was not in the right position, and Annette spent a good deal of time figuring out how to push when the contractions came.

It was a struggle we went through together, her frank cries of anguish and my dispassionate encouragement. I could not have become emotionally involved, or it would have been all over for me. I wanted to see everything.

Finally monitors were put on her to play out the frequency of the contractions and the frequency of the baby’s heartbeat. A steady blip, blip, blip played across the face of the machine and, to the right, numbers changed every few seconds, telling the baby’s heartbeat per minute. Eventually medicine was used to help induce the contractions.

After 17½ hours, Annette went to the delivery room and I was right behind her. Inside, as Dr. Krug exhibited a totally calm, professional demeanor, I watched as the baby’s head pushed into the new world.

Dr. Krug noted that the cord had a knot and then, with one final push, Kristin Ann came into the world and nothing could hold back Annette’s elation and tears, and Kristin’s cry for survival.

Kristin was bright and alert to the momentous occasion; she immediately opened her eyes and let us know she was here—it must have been a tremendous struggle for her too.

I sat stunned, not giving in to instant joy. I wanted to note, with the patience and calm of a craftsman, every detail of this glorious moment.

Kristin looked blue and—had it not been for her crying—you might have thought she was not alive. Her eyes, if not her voice, said otherwise. I felt like I could have reached out and touched the Hand of God.

Later, in the nursery, I was astounded that Kristin looked a healthy pink only minutes after her arrival. Her eyes were still open and her mouth was constantly moving.

When Annette came out of the delivery room and the nurse wheeled her up to the window, I was sure I saw Kristin smile. As if to test this observation against reality, I asked the nurse if she had smiled. I could not believe it.

The nurse replied yes and then, when the nurse, Annette and I once again focused on the wonder before us, Kristin Ann smiled again.

(Ed’s Note: Family is the fundamental core unit of our culture, from the unity of many comes the strength of the family to fulfill its destiny, with each generation experiencing the life cycle, and the joys and challenges of realizing our individual and group potential. The gift of life is only our first gift, it is up to us—as individuals and as a family unit—to love and support each other as we develop our unique gifts as children of God. Non-believers have some other ideas about this same topic. That’s OK. I believe our universe is big enough to accommodate everyone.)

Sometimes as parents we forget how simple and subtle the lessons in life can be.

I was reminded of this yesterday afternoon when I heard the cheering of youngsters playing a Little League baseball game in the nearby city park. It is amazing when the noise of kids at play can carry the sound a half-block away and into the open window of your living room.

Little League baseball games can get noisy. Kids are excited when the bases are loaded and their next hitter sends a screaming line drive into the outfield.

They know that the outfielder will likely boot the ball, and as it gets by him on its merry way to the fence, all three players on base will score and the hitter will probably come home safe with an inside-the-park home run and 4 ribbies (runs batted in) to his credit.

Ah, baseball, spring is in the air and summer is approaching.

The pure fun of sport is so normal and so natural to our human experience.

I read a study once that interviewed hardened criminals spending life in prison for capital crimes, such as murder. A psychologist asked inmates what they missed most now that they were spending the rest of their lives behind bars without possibility of parole.

The answer stunned me, and it should stun you too. What they missed most was not their girlfriend, or sex, or drinking, or drugging, or gambling; it was the sound of kids playing. Perhaps the one, real, positive memory they have of their life was when they were a child playing.

These are two compelling extremes: children at play without a care in the world, and incarcerated criminals who are burdened with the reality that they will never again be free to play.

With all of the violence we are now seeing with youngsters who solve their supposed “problems” by shooting their perceived “enemies” (many times friends and family), I am reminded that some of our children today seem less able to cope with adversity, and even less so with patience.

How is it that they clearly lack coping skills and patience, two necessary traits for survival as an adult?

It will take someone a lot smarter than me to give you the right answer to this question.

I will leave that answer to what some educated professionals who study psychology think.

In the meantime, I choose not to tell you what I think, but to share with you what I know.

Here is one thing about Little League baseball that is being taught by some parents and some leaders in some organizations that is really not worth teaching, and that is this:

Certain organizations have adopted the misguided practice of rewarding every kid on each team regardless of their effort or performance. In other words, a team can lose every game all year and each kid gets a trophy for participating, a team picture and his or her own baseball card with their mug on it.

Apparently some parents do not want to hurt their child’s feelings even though the child makes little effort, is clearly incompetent at improving on any skills of the game, does not understand the game, and really could care less.

I doubt the parents in the example given have a clue about the lessons they are teaching their children by insisting on this foolish practice of making their child feel like he or she has accomplished something.

First, they are encouraging mediocrity by rewarding nothingness. Practice this stupidity a few more generations and we will have our children thinking they can show up to work as an adult, do nothing and get paid for their lack of skills, effort and production.

Second, they are rewarding children for having no concept of goal-setting and achieving goals. The parents are not encouraging any concept of self-improvement and providing no incentive to do so.

Third, they are teaching no learning skills in how to cope with failure, and not providing a shred of understanding about the function of failing. Losers would be astonished to learn that successful people have failed more than losers ever thought of failing.

One of the big differences between losers and winners in the game of life is that when winners fail, they get right back up, dust themselves off, learn from the experience, and try again.

Fourth, they devalue the kids who do work hard, fail and then succeed by rewarding a bunch of kids who haul off and do nothing, learn nothing, and have no sense of real accomplishment.

I remember going door-to-door as a 9-year-old kid, looking for a sponsor for a baseball team I was putting together. I instinctively knew kids would want to be on my team if I could get them a free baseball hat and shirt; we would then look like a real team. I had played on a team that had nothing; we could not afford uniforms, we were lucky to have a glove or borrow a glove.

I found that sponsor, a business called Jewell Realty in Flint, Michigan. I found a sponsor because I was looking for a sponsor. The people that owned that business were impressed that a 9-year-old kid would have the guts to walk all over town and ask businesses to sponsor his rag-tag team. I put up with the nos and getting kicked out of places because I wanted it that bad.

The year was 1953 and we were terrible; we lost more games than we won. We were put upon, put down, slapped around and got the crap kicked out of us, but I never quit, and I made sure my teammates didn’t quit either. When someone quit trying, I kicked him off the team and found someone else.

Two years later we won the league championship, and when we did, I was surrounded by winners who had become my friends. I did not need my parents to do this for me, I did not need some meddling adult or juvenile counselor to do this for me, I needed to do this for myself.

When I got the guys together and we took that trophy down to Jewell Realty, we all shared in the excitement of being winners. Later that summer I would walk by Jewell Realty, see that trophy in the window, and know who I was and what I had become: a winner. Jewell Realty did not win that trophy, I won that trophy, and I knew what it would take to win another.

Our parents never saw us play, they were too busy working.

If someone had come around after that first season and given each of us a trophy for losing, we would not have accepted it. Think about it: the message they would have been sending us was we think you are so bad that you could never win a title, so in order to sooth your precious little feelings, here is a trophy for being a loser.

I think I would have spit in their face. I was that competitive. I might have been a 9 year old but I did not need some meddling parent setting goals for me that I thought were so low I would trip on them walking across the baseball diamond.

If you think a 9-year-old child cannot have some dignity, you are dead wrong, and have probably been wrong about a lot of things in your life.

Once we won that championship and experienced our moment of victory, you could have taken that trophy away and it would not have mattered. I knew what I had sacrificed to win that trophy, and after all of the blood, sweat and tears, nothing any stupid parent or adult could do would have made me feel less about myself. I knew I was a winner, and I wasn’t going to settle for anything less.

Parents, if you do not understand one thing in raising your children, understand this: if your child goes through his or her entire schooling period (kindergarten through high school graduation) and never experiences real success at anything at least one day is his or her life, your child will be handicapped for life. Nothing could be more arcane, stupid and bovine.

Don’t you dare try to prevent your child from failing. Let them try and when they fail, pick them up, dust them off, and encourage them to try again. It is in failing that we learn to succeed.

If you as a parent cannot be a winner in your own pathetic life, if all you have to offer is whining and complaining about this and that, and bemoaning how your child is treated, then get the hell out of the way and let your child fail to ultimately win on his own.

Take a snapshot of two pictures.

In one a child is given a trophy, a team photo and a baseball card with his picture on it featuring a loser who accomplished nothing. In the other snapshot, a child is given only a trophy, or the team is given one trophy to admire, because they have worked their butts off, improved their skills, played their hearts out, taken risks and won a league title. Which is your child?

Any child who has worked to get to the top of the mountain, and experiences the sheer joy of competing and winning, is someone who will go much farther in life.

I can tell you from experience in hiring that there is an incredible correlation between having athletic success at the high school or college level and success later in life. The reason is simple: winners win and losers don’t.

Do not misunderstand what I am sharing here. It is not that you cannot win bigger and better in life unless you are a successful athlete in your youth, it is that you need to have a sense of accomplishment and recognition doing something that takes hard work, dedication, effort and goals. It could be singing, it could be acting, it could be playing a musical instrument; suffice to say any activity that allows you to fail, learn, improve and succeed over a period of time.

It certainly helps to have a strong father in the house to help teach his children what it is to be a winner, to learn coping skills, patience, hard work, dedication, effort, improvement and success. A strong single mother can do the same.

Do not play patty-cake with your children when they are 9 years old, do not knowingly set them up in life to fail, let them struggle and succeed. If you do not do this someday they will be adult and not know how to act when they are put down, put upon, made fun of and beaten up emotionally. They will figure it out if you do not protect them and their feelings so much they become helpless and inept.

They will learn to cope and be stronger for the experience. When they reach adulthood they will be able to dismiss people around them who have mediocre minds and are mental midgets. They will be polite as they treat these losers as irrelevant (which they are) and be unaffected by their negative presence.

Then they will move on quickly to be with the winners. It is the losers who are left standing alone and wondering why.

Do not play to participate, play to win. It is not winning that is the be all to end all, it is that in the process of winning we learn important skills that make us much more effective in playing and winning in the game of life. After all, life is not a resting place; life is a testing place, it is now and will continue to be as long as you live.

A wise man said it and it bears repeating here: When everyone is somebody then no one’s anybody.

When I think of things Irish I think of “the running of the green” and my friend Mary O’Donovan.

The running of the green refers to Ireland’s three great world-class milers—Ron Delany, Marcus O’Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan. They are as much a part of Irish folklore as leprechauns, but are also legends in running circles around the world. All three of them ran for Ireland in the Olympic games, and all three of them ran for the legendary track coach Jim “Jumbo” Elliott at Villanova.

Mary O’Donovan is Irish to the core—she was born, bred and educated in her homeland before coming to America and becoming a Senior Director at BioMarin, a biotechnology company based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Near as I can tell, I am only 15% Irish, but it would be the best 15% of me. I know I am Irish because my last name is Bagley, I am a writer by trade, I drink Jameson whiskey, and green is my favorite color

When I think about having fun, I think about being Irish, which reminds me of the famous line—there are only two kinds of people, those who are Irish, and those who wish they were Irish!

St. Patrick’s Day (Saturday, March 17) will find me at O’Blarney’s Irish Pub in Lacey, Washington, eating a corned beef sandwich and washing it down with several shots of Jameson Irish whiskey. O’Blarney’s is legend where I live; it has been voted the Best Burger place for 14 of the last 16 years. I suspect the two years it was not voted the best was because too many patrons had too much to drink to remember to vote.

O’Blarney’s also reminds me of Rose, an 87-year-old woman who just graduated with her bachelor’s degree and was asked to speak at the college football banquet. She got up to give her speech, spilled her 3×5 notecards on the floor, and then said, “Oh, what the hell, I’ll just wing it. I must confess that I am nervous because I gave up my Irish whiskey for Lent, and now the beer is driving me crazy.”

My St. Patrick’s Day celebration is off to a great start this year as Mary O’Donovan was kind enough to share with me these thoughts floating around the Internet about what it means to be in an Irish family:

You will never play professional basketball.

You have never hit your head on a ceiling.

You swear very well.

At least one of your cousins is a fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner or holds a political office, and you have at least one aunt who is a nun or an uncle who is a priest.

Many of your sisters and/or cousins are named Mary, Catherine or Eileen, and there is at least one member of your family with the full name of Mary Catherine Eileen.

You are, or know someone, named Murphy.

If you don’t know Murphy then you know Mac. If you don’t know Murphy or Mac, then you know Sully, and you probably know McMurphy.

Many of your childhood meals were boiled. Instant potatoes were a mortal sin.

“Irish Stew” is a euphemism for “boiled leftovers”.

You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer.

Childhood remedies for the common cold often included some form of whiskey.

You learned to drink at an early age, and saw no reason to stop.

You’re strangely poetic after a few beers.

There wasn’t a huge difference between your last wake and your last keg party.

You think you sing very well. You may not know the words, but that does not stop you from singing.

You have no idea how to make a long story short!

You can’t wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking.

You’re not nearly as funny as you think you are, but what you lack in talent, you make up for in frequency.

Someone in your family is very generous. It is more than likely you.

You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret.

Your skin’s ability to tan . . . not so much. (Only in spots!)

There’s no leaving a family party without saying goodbye for at least 45 minutes.

Some punches directed at you are from legacies of past generations.

There isn’t a big difference between you losing your temper, or killing someone.

You have Irish Alzheimer’s—you forget everything but the grudges!

At this very moment, you have at least two relatives who are not speaking to each other. Not fighting, mind you, just not speaking to each other.”

My thanks to Mary O’Donovan for reminding me about what it is to be Irish. May I wish you all an early “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”, and may you find an O’Blarney’s Irish Pub in your neighborhood.

Sid Miller Wants to Know: What are you voting for?

 

That moment when someone says, “I can’t believe you would vote for Trump”

I simply reply “I’m not voting for Trump.”

I’m voting for the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech.

I’m voting for the Second Amendment and my right to defend my life and my family.

I’m voting for the next Supreme Court Justice(s) to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I’m voting for the continued growth of my retirement investments and the stock market.

I’m voting for an end to America’s involvement in foreign conflicts.

I’m voting for the Electoral College & the Republic we live in.

I’m voting for the Police to be respected once again and to ensure Law & Order.

I’m voting for the continued appointment of Federal Judges who respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I’m voting for our jobs to remain in America and not be outsourced all over again to China, Mexico and other foreign countries.

I’m voting for secure borders and legal immigration.

I’m voting for the Military & the Veterans who fought for this Country to give the American people their freedoms.

I’m voting for the unborn babies that have a right to live.

I’m voting for continued peace progress in the Middle East.

I’m voting to fight against human/child trafficking.

I’m voting for Freedom of Religion.

I’m voting for the American Flag that is disrespected by the “mob.”

I’m voting for the right to speak my opinion & not be censored.

I’m not just voting for one person, I’m voting for the future of my Country.

I’m voting for my children and my grandchildren to ensure their freedoms and their future.

What are you voting for?

About the Source: Sid Miller is the Commissioner of Agriculture in the Great State of Texas.

(Ed’s Note: The current 2020 Presidential Election has been reduced to a choice between our “constitutional republic” form of government and creeping into a “socialist” form of government in America. We should not allow any political party in America to bring advancing socialism—example: The Green New Deal—under the guise of improving our constitutional republic. Every form of socialism as a government in history has failed to advance the welfare of the citizens therein. Smart people know that socialism does not secure our rights as citizens but rather reduces our personal rights to the point where we have none and ultimately end up as a dictatorship.)

Financial Thoughts
on Investing
by Warren Buffett

(Ed’s Note: The following condensation is from The Tao of Warren Buffett, written by Mary Buffett and David Clark and available for sale at Amazon and bookstores nationwide. I am always impressed by what Warren Buffett has to say and am doing this condensation to help promote their book.)

On Investing: Never be afraid to ask too much when selling offer too little when buying.
(Ed’s Note: How much you get from a sale or how much you have to pay when making a purchase determines whether you make or lose money and how rich you ultimately become.)

(Ed’s Note: For more of Warren Buffett’s advice go to the menu bar above and click on Financial Thoughts.)