#NotWelcomeHere

I love the town that I live in. My wife and I have raised our kids here and our grandchildren visit often. It’s a peaceful multi-ethnic community 45 miles southwest of Atlanta. Unfortunately, today we’re being invaded.

Two groups are coming to our city that are not welcome here. The racist, ignorant neo-Nazi group NSM is planning a rally this afternoon. To counter that rally the violent Antifa group is coming too. Neither of these groups represents what our city or our citizens stand for.

To the credit of our city leaders and law-enforcement our community is ready for whatever happens this afternoon.

All of our downtown businesses are closed for the day. Because Saturday is one of the most important days for any retail or dining establishment this could have represented a huge loss for those businesses. The citizens of our city resolved to come downtown on Friday night and patronize all of the businesses and restaurants. Last night, when my wife and I went downtown we found the streets packed with good citizens, stores jammed with with shoppers, and restaurants filled to capacity. That’s the kind of city we live in.

These two groups are not welcome here but the United States Constitution guarantees them the right to assemble in my city, your city, and any city. Our citizens have responded to their hatred with kindness and compassion for our local merchants. We can only hope that there will be no violence, no one gets hurt, and these unwelcome intruders will leave and never come back.

#Privacy and #Rights

Recently I received a message from a friend criticizing my decision to #DeleteFacebook . I did because of their intentional information leak to Cambridge Analytica and generally their bad behavior. Please note that I said “information” rather than “data.” Losing private data sounds a bit like forgetting to save a spreadsheet, having personal information given to a third party without your permission is much more serious.

My friend said “If you have nothing to hide, lack of privacy and what Facebook did isn’t a big deal.” That position is ludicrous. To say that privacy isn’t needed because I have nothing to hide is like saying freedom of speech isn’t needed because I have Continue reading “#Privacy and #Rights”

A Horse You Can Bet On!

Hats and Hooves 2017: (L to R) Marie Swope, Laurie Pope, Steve Swope, Dorothy Pope
Communities in Schools – @cisnational – is an organization that is #allinforkids.  Each year our local CIS holds a fundraiser on Derby Day called Hats and Hooves.  The event is a lot of fun and raises a lot of money for CIS Coweta County where I live.  More importantly, their model of helping impoverished and at risk children really works.  Marie and I are honored to be able to support this fine organization.  We also get to serve as mentors to 2nd, 4th and 5th grade students at a local Title I school through CIS.  Those kids are the highlight of our week!  

If you are looking to impact young lives in a very positive way, there are great ways to do that: The Boys and Girls Club, Scouting, and Communities in Schools.  They all do fantastic work.  They each are a “horse you can bet on” with the confidence that the return will be far greater than your investment!  

Pope Francis: The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone

For many years I have been a big fan of TED Talks.  I find that the talks generally live up to the TED slogan “Ideas Worth Sharing.”  I don’t agree with every speaker and I don’t find all of the talks equally stimulating; but I usually learn something, find a unique perspective or discover a new way to think about the world that we all live in. 

This week in something of a surprise, Pope Francis gave a talk to TED 2017 that was entitled The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone.   In a world that is increasingly divisive, nationalistic, partisan, and fearful, the Pope makes a strong argument that each person can be a messenger of hope and all of our individual “yous” can be come a collective “us” to address the needs of our world and time.  Regardless of your faith tradition or no faith tradition his talk is compelling and worth a 17 minute investment of time.  If you would prefer to read his comments rather than listen to them they may be found here: His Holiness Pope Francis at TED2017

Another Sad Day…

Helen Baxley Swope, October 22,1926 -December 16, 2016

My dear mother Helen passed away yesterday.  The picture here is from a painting my father had made sometime in the 1970’s.  I think Mom hated it but it was a good portrait of her in her late 40’s/early 50’s.  Despite her reservations about it, she let Dad hang it and it is still on the wall in their house.  It reminds me of my Mom, strong, beautiful and vibrant.

Mom led a long, productive, solidly middle class American life.  Born in the 1920’s she lived through the cataclysms of the depression and World War II before doing something unusual for a woman in her generation; graduating from Brenau College in 1950. Following her 1952 marriage to my father Paul she had three children whom she raised and pushed through school.  After we all left home, Mom volunteered at her church several days each week.  Her presence and dedication to Embry Hills UMC was so strong that people there started calling her St. Helen – in a admiring way.  A woman of many talents, she hand made over 30 full sized quilts along with dozens and dozens of needlepoint and crocheted items.

Mom was a strong woman, she endured the loss of her father in 1963, the death of her only brother in 1973 and then cared for her mother who had Alzheimer’s throughout the 1970’s (before we knew what Alzheimer’s was).  She also was a breast cancer survivor since 1977.  After a broken hip in 2010, she struggled with her health continuously.  When my brother died this past July, she said that when she died she would have some serious questions for him; I suspect he is trying to answer them right now!

Mom loved her family; her husband of 64 years, my sister, me, her in-laws, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, all of whom she leaves behind.  She also loved Christmas.  The day of her fall that eventually led to her death, she had happily spent the day dragging my Dad from store to store to find the perfect Christmas gifts for her great-grand children and some sorority friends that she was to meet today for lunch. Her house wasn’t decorated until all 100+ Byer’s Caroler’s were on display and the tree was up and lit.  Mom, this Christmas is the first one in 91 years you will miss.  The gifts you picked out are still neatly placed on the bed upstairs, waiting to be wrapped.  We are all so very sad that you are gone.

It hasn’t been 24 hours since you died and I already miss you so much.  I’m going to miss your stories, your fierce pride in your grand and great-grand children, I’ll even miss the many, many questions about your vast array of technology (iPhone, iPads, PC, Kindle, etc.) but most of all I just miss you.  I know you now have  peace and are free of the pain that your aging and failing body had given to you.  I know you always loved me no matter what and I hope you know I always loved you.  Rest In Peace.

#Election2016 ends, at last!

far-side-damned-if-you-do-dont_2

Finally, the toxic and awful #Election2016 comes to a merciful end.  Like a huge number of Americans, I find both @HillaryClinton and @realDonaldTrump to be ill suited for the presidency.   According to most polls, the majority of Americans would prefer to have another option for the nation’s highest office – just about any other option!  Yet, we are stuck with these two major party candidates and one of them will become the president on January 20, 2017.   Continue reading “#Election2016 ends, at last!”

An Absence

Crater Lake National Park – July 24, 2016

Recently I was asked by a friend via email if I had decided to stop posting to this blog.  It was a reasonable question because my most recent post was on July 21st and today is August 29th.  The answer to the question is no; I do plan to continue posting to this blog.  My absence from posting stories about the refugee crisis, odd things that strike me as funny, strange or just interesting and other ruminations can be easily explained.

On July 20th I received a telephone call from Providence Hospital in Medford, Oregon with the news that my brother Bryan had been admitted and was in critical condition in the ICU.    I flew to Medford on July 21st and was with my brother when he passed away in the early morning hours of July 23rd.  Bryan had a terminal illness (IPF) but his health had taken a sudden and final turn for the worse the week before. Continue reading “An Absence”