Honestly, much of what there is to know about me is already covered on other pages on this site. We already know I'm a drummer, a patriotic American who enjoys shooting, supports our 2nd Amendment rights, and am an avid animal lover who showers my puppies and kitties with love and care.
I've got tons of pictures of myself posted on several pages of this site, most of them showing me playing drums, shooting or loving on one of my puppies or kitties. I have articles about the pain I suffer with on a daily basis, my hearing loss and the affect that has on my personal interactioins, and an honest introspective assessment of myself.
So I'm going to use this page to do something different.
While some people see me as a rather cantankerous, or even a grumpy guy, I'm going to explain why I am the way I am about so many of the traits of modern society, and why they annoy me.
Before I start with that, I want to dispell that perceived image about myself. I am not hard to get along with. I'm actually very easy to get along with. I'm easy to talk with and sincerely enjoy discussion. I'm a good listener and ask probing questions to better understand the topic. The only people who find me difficult to get along with are those who won't be as accepting of me and my opinions as they expect everyone to be of them and theirs. I'll admit I am intolerant of hypocrisy to a fault, even thought I know we are all walking contradictions in some ways, including myself.
In reality, I'm a very happy guy who loves to laugh and has a lot of fun at most of the things I do. While I am a man of deep emotion, and my grumpy side does tend to get exposed on occasion, it's only because I don't hold back my feelings. I'm not politically correct in many ways. I often say the things most of us are thinking yet not saying. And when I do, it's usually for what I feel is the benefit of the situation. While I can be tactful and I rarely intend to hurt anyone's feelings, I do sometimes get to the point where I just call a duck a duck and be done with it. Contrary to popular opinion, I do often spare someone's feeliings, choosing instead to be kind or generous, even encouraging or supportive. I'm not mean. I'll just admit I've gotten more intolerant of incompetency and stupidity in my older age.
But while my tendencies toward deep emotion do occasionally express my irritations, they also more often express the deep love, dedication and respect I might feel for someone. I feel all emotions equally as deep, all across the spectrum, and express them appropriately. I'm often kind and generous and very understanding of the conditions of other people and the human condition in general. While I rarely tolerate people making excuses rather than taking responsibility, I can take into consideration a reason and be understanding of that...noting the difference between an "excuse" for something and a "reason" for something.
I'm often tender and gentle, loving and kind, especially toward animals or children. I'm often quite playful and have a knack for seeing humor in most scenarios...or at least the irony.
So now, let me get back to the original point and explain why I am the way I am, across the spectrum.
I remember the Cuban Missile crisis. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of learning how to stay alive during and after a nuclear attack.
The Vietnam war was raging. A lot of my friend's older brothers and fathers were going, many of whom never returned.
WWII and the Korean War were still relatively recent memories, and Nazi war criminals were still being sought.
Our president was assassinated in Dallas, TX. I remember my mother's reaction when she saw it on TV. The news anchors openly cried on tv newscasts.
RFK was assassinated while we watched. Martin Luther King was assassinated while preaching a message of peace and acceptance. Four college students in my home state of Ohio were shot dead for protesting, voicing an opinion that questioned the integrity of the government elite.
The Berlin Wall was built, effectively trapping millions in the grasp of communist Russia, and separating friends and families for what would be decades to come.
Malcolm X was assassinated. Race riots and the all-too-common subsequent looting and vandalizing destroyed communities and neighborhoods in cities all across the U.S. Three U.S. astronauts are burned alive in their space capsule. The Zodiac Killer, Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, Charles Manson and other serial killers were terrorizing our nation. Terrorists were hi-jacking planes at an alarming rate. 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were kidnapped then murdered by terrorists.
A sitting U.S. president resigned his post as president in disgrace.
The U.S. ran out of gasoline and gas lines formed all over the country. People would sit in their car for hours just in the hopes of being able to buy $10 worth of gasoline.
These are only some of the memories from my childhood and early adulthood. People of my generation have been molded by a myriad of events and life circumstances that has instilled in us a certain amount of courage, determination and a resilience that's difficult to find in latter generations. We developed very different priorities than have subsequent generations and the youth of today. The threats we faced daily formed our work ethics and formed our senses of responsibility...our strength of character and our resolve. We were on the tail end of...perhaps the last of... what is known as "the greatest generation." The baby-boomers. The post WWII generation.
Neighbors in my generation looked after neighbors. We checked on the elderly and did things for them if we could. Family and friends looked after family and friends. And if something bad was going down, "not getting involved" was not an option with most people. People had closer connections to one another and felt a responsibility toward each other. We didn't have the internet, Twitter, Facebook, text messages and cell phones. We talked with each other. We saw their facial expressions and heard their intonations in a conversation, because we talked face-to-face. Our relationships and friendships had substance because they were real, not "cyber."
From the fishing trawlers of New England to the factories of New Jersey. From the steel mills of Cleveland to the farms of the Midwest. From the ranches of Texas to the vineyards of California and the Pacific Northwest, our work was strenuous and demanding.
So please forgive me if I don't get too excited about what any spoiled rotten celebrity says about politics, sexuality, the state of people in Zambia, or any other cause they use to gain face time for themselves in the news.
Please forgive me if I can't get excited about a "reality" show or fashion trend or who wore what on a red carpet.
Please forgive me if the insignificant self-inflicted personal drama in which some people relish turns my stomach.
I couldn't care less about British royalty having babies, being politically correct, or about what some pampered, self-righteous, liberal politician says is the cause of woes in our society...said society being one from which he is completely insulated.
Please forgive me if people calling me Islamophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, a knuckle-dragging neanderthal, a war monger or redneck doesn't bother me in the least. I am none of those things, and frankly, I don't give a crap who thinks what of me other than my friends and family. I know what a true threat is. I grew up living under truly dangerous threats. And you think it's going to hurt my feelings to haul off and hurl some names at me?
My generation valued the word of a friend or colleague, because back then, someone's word usually had value. Your word indicated the person you were inside. Your word was the manifestation of your honor and integrity, your character. The value of your character was precious, and a handshake was worth blood.
When someone asks me, "Do you promise?" I often tell them, "No. I don't promise. I don't need to promise." Why would I have to reassure someone with more words that are supposed to be more binding than those I already spoke? A promise means nothing if your initial intent wasn't honest. In my generation, people took you at your word. A promise was usually something given voluntarily, signifying a specific dedication, not something asked for for reassurance. My generation valued that trait, and learned hard lessons when someone did not keep their word.
The people of my generation learned to accept the responsibility of their actions, because the turmoil and strife of those times demanded it be so. The result if JFK had not kept his word would have been nuclear attack from Russian missiles in Cuba.
The result of South Vietnam not keeping their word to us was all too obvious.
When the stakes of daily life are as high as when I grew up, cultural interests like fashion, gossip and pop culture are trivial by comparison.
So, please forgive me if I grew up in a time when lessons learned were reinforced by deadly consequences. When the very welfare of your family depended directly on the decisions you made. When right was right, wrong was wrong, and liberal political correctness run amok didn't blur the lines between those two.
Forgive me if I grew up in a time when taking responsibility for your decisions and actions was expected, not heroic.
Forgive me if I grew up in a time when accepting help or taking a hand-out was harder to do than working long and hard for something.
Forgive me that I don't feel you're entitled to any respect from me whatsoever, or from anyone, unless you directly earn it. I'll give you common courtesy as a common courtesy, but only until I decide whether I respect you or not. My generation doesn't give respect easily. It's not an entitlement. And your skin color, your religion, your bank account, your sexual preference, your political beliefs or your ancestry doesn't entitle you to respect. However, once you have earned respect from someone of my generation, it's given fully, without measure.
Respect, like love, is an emotion we deal out sparingly. It's hard to earn yet easy to lose. That's why we only hand out respect based on solid, stable. personal characteristics, not on shallow values that waiver with the political climate or with every new trend of pop culture.
So, while I don't mind explaining the reasons for my character, I will not offer excuses for my personality, nor will I ask forgiveness for the hardness of my character or the strength and determination instilled into me by the lessons and conditions of my youth. The softness of my heart is directly proportional to the hardness of my spirit. My loving, caring, nurturing demeanor is directly proportional to the strength of my ideology. The tenderness I feel toward those I love is directly proportional to the obligatory responsibilities I feel toward them. The kindness and generosity I have to share is directly proportional to the harshness of the life that formed me. I am capable of great love, because I grew up in the midst of so much hate. I can be soft and kind and tender, because I was raised by such harsh, violent times.
Triumph has a price. Freedom has a cost. Success costs sacrifice and discomfort. Love is bought and paid for by painful lessons learned along the way toward finally acquiring that love. Bonds achieved and maintained cost you bonds that were broken and great disappointment. And the lessons of my generation and my childhood taught me that the deeper the emotion you're able to express, the higher the price you paid for it.