Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Time to Stop

     On Tuesday we will be walking into the voting booth to choose the next president of the United States. Someone who we are choosing to be our spokesperson, our Commander in Chief. The person who holds the office is to be someone who represents what America is. This election has made me sit down and reflect upon what kind of role I want to play as an American. As someone who has a voice called a vote. 

     This year we have seen one of the nastiest elections in history. I believe our two "choices" are truly reflective of who we are. We have become so hateful and angry we have selected two terrible individuals to represent us. I cannot understand how anyone can put their weight behind and assign their name to either of these two candidates. I understand the lesser of two evils argument but cannot understand someone actually believing that either one is actually good for our country. My oldest son can vote for the first time this year. His first presidential election. I am embarrassed of what we have become. I would not want my children looking up to either one of the candidates.

     Recently in my Facebook memories a discussion I was having about the politics at that time came up. As I read through the comments one person commented that there was only one party that wanted to truly better people. This just shows you the mentality we now have. We have become divided. I think we all know that but do we really understand what that means? It means we have come to the place that we believe there is good and evil. The side we identify with of course is good. Therefor the other side must be evil, and everyone who associates themselves with that side must be also. Since good must overcome evil we set out to destroy the other side. In other words we must win and the others must loose! Forget about the fact that a good negotiator gets both sides as much of what they want to build a deal, it's our way or the highway. A great example of this comes from that same memory when the same poster told me that they thought it was "amazing how some people fight against things that's for their own good" I don't know how this person knows what is good for me and my family but I do know that comment was insulting. The bigger problem with the comment was that it contained no real argument. We just know we are right and we don't need facts to stand behind what we say. In fact when I asked for a factual reason why they were right my Facebook feed was silent. 

     Today we run on emotions and facts are silly little things we sweep under the rug. We have become so distrusting of the other side that even when presented with facts they really do mean very little. We have seen video proof of wrong doing and we blame the source. We say "look who put it out, they cannot be trusted" and refuse to even consider what we have just seen. We actually ignore what has been put before us! We have all become experts because we read a headline on Twitter. We do not even consider the fact that maybe the person sharing the story or meme has an agenda or that the site it came from may be bending the truth. We especially need to be careful when it comes from a source we believe is on "our side". We like and share meme's and believe we are making a bold statement and since we agree with the premise we don't even bother to check on it's facts. We are blinded by our partisanship. 

     We act the same way when it comes to sports. We choose a side, declare our allegiance and support our team even in their bad years. We champion them no matter what. When they win and loose. We even accept cheating at times because the other team is a bunch of losers who need to be taken down. Politics should not be a contact sport. All we care about is getting the "W" and watching the other side fail. We don't want to debate we want to shout each other down. We love trash talking. We are the champions and you are the losers. We are not for something as much as we are against them. 

     We have entered a time where we have become so self righteous that we no longer care to try to understand each other. We don't see the other side as people, we see them as the cartoon version of what we believe the other side is. Not only are we drawing dividing lines between left and right we are also pitting ourselves against each other by things we have been working hard to erase the lines of like race, sex, religion. Now we are creating more even more lines like income and jobs. This is what happens when we all choose a "side" instead of thinking for ourselves. I think history has shown us that group think can be very dangerous. We all claim to be enlightened. Free thinking yet follow a party like a heard of sheep. Never straying from a single point. Following whomever is appointed as the leader without questioning the integrity or values that individual holds. You have to follow the leader because when you have stood so firmly with a party you cannot acknowledge it's failures because then you will have to admit your own short comings and we all hate admitting when we are wrong.

     I am proud to say I do not, or have I ever belonged to a particular party. I do have political leaning that may lean in the direction of one of the party's more than the other but I have never supported any party. I believe the truth usually is somewhere between the two positions that people take. I believe in studding each person and each subject individually. I have never felt one party represents everything I believe in. I only speak out about things that I am well informed on and stay quite on other subjects that I have not fully researched. Because of this I can always handle myself in a debate. I have never attacked a person because of their association with a party because it's beliefs not people that need to be fought against. Yet if you argue against something a party is doing you are grouped in with the others who have. In the same Facebook comments I talked about earlier when I confronted the poster on why he was so stern with me and why he seemed so upset that I had a differing opinion he admitted he was tired of people calling his side this and that. Something I never did. But I was accused of it because I was seen as the other side. Again we see everyone on the other side as the cartoon character of what we think they are and the sins of one are the sins off all.

     I love a good debate. I have had my opinion changed on several subjects in the last year by people who have truly thought out their position and made great arguments to me. I find that these people are also open to what I have to say. They are usually so versed in the subject that they can argue my point as well as I can because they have studied it from all angles. If you enter in a debate with me come with a level of skepticism. Enough that allows you to test my beliefs against yours as I try to do with yours against mine. Do not try to manipulate the conversation with politically correct terms. If you speak the truth, if you know your argument, you don't need to control the conversation. Most people cannot handle a deep conversation without letting emotions get the best of them and then you will soon hear conversation enders. These are the phrases once used must end a conversation. Most of them are name calling. Some are judgments of the heart. These are words like racist and bigot. These words are used so loosely today I think their meaning has been lost. However you should end any conversation with someone who uses them. It's manipulation and insulting. If you think you can have a kind and factual conversation then we may have a great debate.

     Even after this election we still will need to work on filling the divide that is tearing us apart. I have put together some things I believe and try to follow in order to keep civility between myself and those I encounter today. I must say it doesn't always work. People believe what they want and no matter how much love and understanding you show they will do and think what they want. I have never felt bad after loosing a friend on Facebook or in life over political beliefs because I know I did my best to be fair and respectful.  

I do not use labels to describe people unless they first describe themselves by the label.

I will not react out of anger.

I move with positive motion by being for something and not just against something. 

I will not engage with people who are angry, bitter, and only argument skill is name calling or shouting you down. By doing so you only empower their voice.

I will not vote or support someone that does not exemplify my values no matter how much they may share my goals for the country.

I will not pit one group of people against another. I do not believe that kindness/help to one group at the expense of another.

I will not engage those who believe they know the motives of the heart just because they disagree with a opinion or philosophy.

I wont like and share memes and news stories that attack, contain exaggerated falsehoods and are fact less. 

I listen to facts and not emotions. Emotions usually direct you in the wrong direction.

I refuse to go over the cliff with everyone else and follow even those I agree with blindly. We really need to remove the fog of partisanship from our eyes.

     Its a time for healing. We need to move forward. If the person we hope wins doesn't, we cannot be sore looses. If our choice wins, we need to be gracious and reach out to those who are feeling left behind and not counted. Start reaching for those things that you can agree upon. Party has become more important than family and friends. In a resent survey 7% of people have ended their friendships over this election. We are all brothers and sisters on this planet and we need to realize humanity is more important than politics. 

     Taking the route to healing will not be easy It's easy to stand when you stand together as a group but you may need to stand alone with your principles and the truth and that can be a lonely place, but it's where the strong leaders stand and it's where those who really make a difference are. It's time to stand and let the healing begin.   

Sunday, July 10, 2016

There must be LOVE for LOVE to win

     I'm sure I'm not different than anyone else who has logged into any social media platform in the last few days.  Our news feed is full of stories of great tragedy.  We read these stories and shake our heads.  We wonder what is happening to us and what kind of place are we leaving for our children.  We also see posts from our friends and family, pages we follow and others we watch from a far and we see all types of comments.  Some inspiring and uplifting.  Some ask for prayers and some show compassion for the victims.  But so many tell a different story.  So many are full of outrage and anger.

     To some extent I understand these posts.  We are all angry to some extent.  We all feel like we are not being heard but most of all we all feel like we are being attacked, and that's because we are.  We have come to a place where attacking someone is common place.  In fact, it's almost become our duty.  We have come to a place where we believe we are fighting a just fight and those who stand in the way must be taken down.  We are also not only happy to take them down but we are proud when we do.  We celebrate the destruction of individuals who do nothing more than view the world differently than us.  It seems harmless enough when it's someone high profile.  A politician, they are all scum lairs anyway right? A celebrity with a platform to speak their mind.  Take them down!  Ruin their life!  Take away their ability to earn a living!  It's OK we tell ourselves.  They have money, just go away.  We somehow believe our opinion is superior to theirs and our takes precedent over theirs.

     Our hearts have become so cold that it extends to faceless people on the computer.  We argue with strangers in the comments sections of news articles and the glow of the screen makes us brave.  We insult and point fingers.  We make fun of and worse yet, hope they are met with some horrible tragedy.  We leave facts and common sense behind because we cannot let the other get the best of us.  We have become a nation of hate.

     We can see it in our political system.  The people we choose to represent us in the highest office are the best examples of who we have become.  One attacks anyone who he feels attacks him, and the other sees half the voting population at the enemy.  Oh the cheers when they proclaim that they will put the other in their place.  Yes we want to see those we agree with fail, because that means we win, or does it.

     This weekend I made the mistake on the comment section of a friend on Facebook.  One of the comments on a post she shared was ironic.  The person made several rude comments about a few groups of people and told the poster that her life was messed up. (I cleaned it up) Then in the last sentence he wrote. Be nice.  I laughed so hard at the irony that I had to point it out.  This then unleashed a rant from the original poster.  What struck me as odd is that this person wrote such strange things that he believes I am.  He does not know me but assumes all types of things about me through association with the original poster.  He sees me as this cartoon version of what he thinks I might be and yet he is so far off.  Yet that is where we are.  We only see each other as this or that.  We don't care how you got to this because I am that and that makes you wrong.

     All this talk about love winning is great.  It makes us feel good and it gets tons of likes and shares.  But it does nothing.  Until we start living out love then love will never win.  Love does not mean agreeing.  Love does not mean you approve.  What love does, is in the face of those you disagree with most, listens, tries to understand why there is a difference, tries to find the common ground and then stands with that person wherever that is.  Penn Jillette, an atheist, understands that Christians believe in salvation and considers it an insult if a Christian doesn't try to save him.  He thinks they are full of it, but he understands why you would try.  That is compassion.  That is LOVE!

     If we want love to win then we need to practice it.  It can only start with ourselves.  We always want to convince others that they need to change.  That they need to be more  But we can only change ourselves and the best way to change others is to live it out ourselves.  Love can win and it must but it must exist first and it can only start with you.              

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Prince, Music & a Fan

To those who don't really know me you may not know that I am a Prince fan. Those who do know it, probably know it more than they care to. I have been a fan since 1982. I had heard 1999 and Little Red Corvette. (I thought the song was about the car back then). I had the 45's and liked them and the b-sides. Then came Delirious. I heard that single on the radio and my fate was sealed, I became a Prince fan. I knew nothing about the man or even if Prince was his name or the name of the group, I just knew this music was talking to me. I would record my records on to a cassette so I could play them in my Sounddesign boombox. I wore out the 60 minute tape I made with Michael Jackson on one side and Prince on the other. The Prince side received more play and contained the six songs from the three Prince singles I owned. 1999, Little Red Corvette, and Delirious. Plus the b-sides How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore, All The Critics Love You In New York, and Horny Toad.  I didn't know what it was that I was attracted to at the time but something about those songs moved me more than any other songs I had ever heard, and I had heard a lot of songs. My dad had worked in radio and we had a music collection of  about 10,000 records in the house.

Enter the 1999 album. The forth single was released and I loved it too. The b-side was funky. It had great drums and bass that grooved me from the inside. I thought I need to get this album, I like four of the songs on it I bet I will like more.  I remember riding my bike to K-mart where I found the album that cost a bit more than the usual album. It was a double record set! I could not wait to get home and put it on the turntable. The needle hit the record and that slowed down voice came through my headphones. I sat back, read the lyrics along with the songs and checked out the albums art work. 1999 taught me about music. I soon realized songs could be longer than the standard radio play.  1999, Delirious, Let's Pretend Were Married, were exciting as I heard what the radio would never play.  Everything about that album was so cool. The hidden backwards letters on the front cover and gone was the standard record label but in it's place was a close up of Prince's eye and a hole dead center were you would place it on the turntable. But most of all it included the now famous "Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince". This was one guy and he not only wrote all of this he is playing every instrument! Everything you hear is one guy? This blew my mind.

Enter 1984. I remember driving in the car when they announced a new song by Prince was coming up. When Doves Cry played and I didn't know what to think. It was different. In fact I thought kind of weird sounding. It was like nothing else on the radio and nothing like the 1999 album. They said it was off the soundtrack to Prince's upcoming movie. Soon after the album was released and I sat down, put my headphones on and heard that opening line..."Dearly Beloved..." This album was so different. It rocked. It was missing the funky bass (except on Baby I'm a Star) and gone was the chicken scratching guitars. They were replaced with power cords and roaring solos. Gone was some of the studio tricks and it was replaced with a live band sound. Same guy but a whole different flavor.  I was used to artists keeping with their sound. The cars sounded like the cars every time I heard them.  Being a fan of this guy was going to be fun.

Enter the back catalog.  I then started purchasing all of Prince's older albums. I worked my way backwards and I loved them all. Each album having their own flavor.  I was inspired by the fact he performed all these songs himself.  His guitar playing on Purple Rain, his bass on Let's Work, and his drum programming skills.  Not to mention keyboards and piano. Oh, did I mention he can sing too?
Enter Purple Rain. When I finally saw the movie I was already very familiar with the soundtrack but the story that tied those songs together in the film hit home.  My parents were fighting and I had a very strained relationship with my dad.  I felt like it reflected what I was going through only I didn't play guitar. In the movie Prince's home life was affecting his career and my home life was affecting my school work and me personally.  The song Purple Rain made me nearly cry every time I heard it just because of the opening line. I too never meant to bring anyone sorrow but somehow I seemed to do just that.

Nude Tour Rehearsal May  6, 1990
Over the next years Prince released more and more interesting albums and a couple of movies. I was able to see him live in Minneapolis for a dress rehearsal concert for the Nude Tour. Tickets were ten dollars. I loved buying each new album on the day of release. While my friends waited years in between the releases of their favorite artist I was busy buying his next album, single for the b-side, long play record or something from an associated artist that Prince produced or wrote for. In the days before YouTube I had to set up the VCR to record MTV or Friday night videos to catch the latest video. There was always something going on.

Prince taught me about breaking the rules. Prince found other ways to get music to his fans. Crystal Ball was ordered through the internet. The first thing I ordered online. He made more money going around the traditional record company route.

I was lucky to have had several "Prince" experiences. He opened a club in Minneapolis called Glam Slam. I remember looking at his motorcycle and Purple Rain outfit while music pulsed. Up above was a VIP area and I kept thinking he was going to appear and the DJ would play some new unreleased song. I shopped at his New Power Generation store in Uptown. We were taken to a room upstairs and were shown the unreleased video for Dolphin.  They also brought out Prince's model C guitar. Did I ever want to grab that and run out of the store with it. Prince opened his studio a few times and I was able to tour it. When no one was looking I touched the famous Purple Rain motorcycle sometimes feeling like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. The thing that got me the most was when we were standing in a studio they pointed out his famous Linn drum machine and said that the soundboard was from his house.  I reached out and touched it and was in awe as these were the tools that made the 1999 album and that made me a fan. On one tour a sound engineer asked if anyone knew how to play the drums. I can somewhat but did not want to embarrass myself in front of these professionals so I stayed quiet. All they wanted was for someone to go into the studio and play for a bit so the rest of the tour could hear what it sounded like.  Talk about a missed opportunity. I turned down playing Prince's drums in his studio.
Paisley Park 1990

Over the years I was able to see Prince live three more times. I have seen The Time live. I watched Prince's dad drive past me in his purple BMW. I have had a couple of email exchanges with St. Paul Peterson of The Time & The Family and one with Dr. Matt Fink of the Revolution. So to say his passing affected me is an understatement. It's a weird thing because we never met and our "relationship" was one sided. He had no idea who I was but he was a big part of my life.  He was my soundtrack.

What I am going to miss is getting the new CD on the day it releases. I. Going to miss the live performances. I wish my kids would have seen him live so they knew what real musicians looked like instead of the prerecorded lip sync that goes on today.

Prince has still taught me after his death. His charitable work has come to light a lot in the past month. Although I do not believe I would agree with him politically most of the time I love the fact that he did what he could to help others and didn't spend him time telling us how we were wrong for not thinking like him. I wish more celebrities would follow that example. In fact more of us should put that energy to work in the fashion Prince did maybe just maybe the world will be a better place.
Prince's famous purple house 1990

Prince, you will be missed here but heaven just got a lot funkier.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tragedy in Fargo

     On my podcast The Timo Show I interview guests from all over the world.  On of the first things I usually ask them is "Have you been to Fargo North Dakota?"  I ask this question for two reasons.  One it is an easy way to ease them into the interview.  An ice breaker of sorts.  But I also ask it because it is where I am from.  I was born and raised here and I love it here.  Sometimes I dream about going somewhere else especially when  the temperatures are below zero which happens quite often.

     The thing about Fargo is that we are a close community.  We are as close as a city our size can be.  When tragedy strikes we come together to help one another like no other place I can think of.  Last Wednesday Feb 10th our city experienced a tragedy.  For the first time since 1882 a police office was shot and killed by a deranged man.  Officer Jason Moszer, a six-year police veteran with a wife and two children, died from a single gunshot wound.  The news shocked our community and pulled at our hearts when we thought about his widow and his children.  Office Moszer was indeed a hero.  Not just because he put on the uniform but because he lived it.  In 2012  Moszer and officer Matthew Sliders were awarded the department’s Silver Star Medal for pulling two children from an apartment fire. Office Moszer is just one of the many men and women who run to danger when most of us would run from it.  Office Moszer's life was taken because he chose to be one of our protectors.

     The effects of this day will linger on.  For some of us it will only last as long as the stories keep appearing in the papers.  For some it will last longer.  There are those who will feel the effect of this day in everything they do for the rest of their lives.  The wife and children of the officer, The wife and children of the gunman, The officers, the extended family, the friends and co workers, the list goes on and on.  It can even have an effect on the generation that follows. 

     We live in a time that people actually cheer for and hope for the death of the men and women in blue.  There were 5 officers killed in the line of duty on Feb 10th.  Four in shootings.  I feel I need not say more.  

     Yes, the city of Fargo has had many emotions flow though it since Office Moszer was killed.  We come together, we all say a prayer, and we all shed a tear.  I joke with my guests that they may not want to visit Fargo when the temps are below the freezing point.  I say you will not be able to handle the cold.  But I also wonder if they could handle the amount of compassion and love this community shows because I believe that Fargo is truly one of the last great places left.  

Thank you Officer Moszer, and thank you Moszer family for their is no greater love than to give your life for another and Officer Moszer did just that.