Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What I want for Christmas

Recently while watching an early morning news program, you know the type, full of news cooking and fashion segments. They were discussing Facebook adding a dislike button. Now I would be the first to click that button when I read a post that said something like "Our son threw up his entire spaghetti dinner on the living room carpet." I don't think anyone would argue that that was the situation we all would dislike. Any of us parents understand the time it takes to clean up such a mess. But what has me worried about a dislike button is the divide that we already have and how the dislike button would be used. We have become a country that is divided. We have found ourselves picking sides and looking for winners and losers. Of course we all want to be the winner.

Since we are young we are taught to pick teams. When we pick teams there are two sides. One will be the winner and one will be the loser. We all want to be on the winning team. In the spirit of the game we trash talk the other team. That type of behavior is all good and fine when done in a fun and respectful way.  But because we choose sides instead of focusing on each other as individuals we have become so divided as that we have become exactly what we tell our kids not to be.  Bullies!  We feel the need to win at no matter the cost. When there is a winner there is a loser. We have become extra brave when we hide behind our keyboard. We say things that we would never say to somebody's face. We feel the need to point out to the world how "horrible" someone is when they don't believe the same things we do.  We no longer believe in "I disagree with you but I will defend your right to say it" we now believe if you don't think the way I do you should sit down and shut up. Not only should you shut up you deserve to be called names, made fun of and hated. In fact we will join together with like minded people to scorn you just like bullies do. If you are in the public we believe you deserve the attacks about you and your family even more. In fact maybe you should lose your job. Maybe you should have your entire life destroyed.  In fact we cheer on the demise of others and feel a sense of victory when they go down in flames. We want to see the other "side" fail. We call for their destruction and we celebrate it with glee.

For Christmas I want us to return to a place of decency. A place of respect for our fellow women and men. A place where we remove the plank in our own eye first. A place where we judge actions and quit assigning motives to the heart. A man steals a red kettle. He is a thief. His actions tell us so. Our first reaction would be to call him scum. A heartless man for taking money from those who are in need. We have judged his heart. That very man may have taken it to feed his family. How do you feel about him then? Judge the action not the heart for that is the true meaning of do not judge others.

Love is a verb. Love is a action. Love is not what you feel but rather love is what you give. To truly show love you must be patient to those whom you disagree with. To those who offend you kindness maybe in order. Love is not approving of everything someone does but love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love is the answer to what we are all asking. Love conquers all. Love is what I want for Christmas. What do you want?

As for me I will continue to spread love. I will take action. I will judge a man by his actions and not judge his heart. I will wish my enemies well and pray for them. I will love those who do not love me. Merry Christmas. May you be the recipient of love this year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


     In my up coming book "Growing Up Nobody" I write about the fond memories I have of Thanksgiving at my Grandparents home.  All the kids would be playing.  Football, board games and Lego's occupied our time.  The men sat in the living room watching the parade or the game and the women would be in the kitchen preparing the meal that would soon be making it's way into our bellies.  There would be more pans on the stove than there were burners.  A careful balancing act was performed to keep all the items warm until it was time to eat.

     We would all pile into the small dining room with the kids sitting at a small folding table a.k.a. the kids table.  The smells of the food filling our noses we would be told to wait as we needed to say grace.  My immediate family never prayed and I always felt uncomfortable.  The prayer of course was filled with things we were grateful for including our shelter and the food we were staring at with one open eye. 

     For years I have heard people describe their blessings and they always included those basic items.  They also included things like health, peace and friendships.  But I have never heard anyone say they are thankful for the trials in their lives.  We say things like "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger" and hold up people who over come adversity.  We all love a underdog story.  Even Edgar Allan Poe said "Never to suffer would never to have been blessed."

     So why don't we embrace our struggles and be thankful for them?  Even small trials are character builders.  They are the things that form who we are.  So much of how we react, feel, and our beliefs are formed in those moments. 

     While we are faced with the pain and hurt of our trials we cannot see what good can come from it.  For most of my life I faced one trial after another.  Many of them piled one on top of the other.  I couldn't understand why I was facing all the things that came my way and I felt like I was being punished.  I had no idea that years later my story would bring hope to people.  When I watched my dad take is last breath I had no idea it would give me empathy for those who have lost someone close.  I had no idea that when I was being bullied in school that I would be able to relate to someone who feels worthless.  I also never imagined that I would be opening myself up by putting it all down in a book.  But I am thankful for all that I have been through because it has made me who I am today.

     This Thanksgiving be thankful for your heartaches and your trials.  Be thankful that you have had the opportunity to grow.  You are who you are today because of your experiences good and bad.  Embrace them, learn from them, and use them to improve your life and use them to improve the life of others.  Nobody knows better what is down the road than those who have walked it before.  After all there is no light without the darkness.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Tim "Timo" Olson
Author of
"Growing Up Nobody"
to be released soon