Standards of conduct

“Since the dawn of the Christian era a certain way of life has slowly been shaping itself among the Western peoples, and certain standards of conduct and government have com to be esteemed”
Winston Churchill, radio brodcast to American and London, October 16, 1938

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(griffin / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015

There is a fine line that separates man from beast.
That ever narrowing thread between the human being of intelligence and the animal of wildness.

Oh there are multiple layers of separation that one might argue.
Physical, emotional, psychological, physiological….
As those more lofty scientific minded and behavior specialists among us will no doubt argue and bicker back and forth disputing this fact and that…

But when all is said and done…when the dust has settled and a close inspection has been taken…
we see that thin and narrowing line of true separation is to be found narrowly in man’s ability to manage him or herself with a certain standard of conduct.

The beasts of the land, the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air each seem to act and react with little to no thought toward any sort of standard of conduct…
For theirs is more or less action verses reaction motivated by the need, want and defense of hunger, provocation and mating.

It is true that they may be trained to demonstrate some level of restraint, some sort of rational sorting between this and that, but the bottom line is that training and reward does not equate to the innate ability for rational thinking.

Humans have a wealth of motives, actions and reactions all met and matched by pondering, thinking, discerning, sorting, rationalizing, defending, and determined restraint.

Yet with with an exponentially growing and frightening degree of alarm we should note that the line of man’s standard of conduct, over the past 80 years, dare we say since his very inception, has diminished at a rapid rate.

The actions and reactions of man…the corruption, the lying, the killing, the justification, the murderous terrorism is quickly overtaking the established determined level of civility of conduct found in what was once a deeply rooted foundation to the Judaeo Christian pillars of Western Civilization.

Kingdoms and other forms of human government exist because humanity has fallen away from God.
In human society, the default is always towards anarchy and chaos—as the history of the twentieth centruy in particular amply illustrates. Something must resist and restrain the downward spiral into disorder.
Therefore, God institutes and permits governments.

Excerpt: God and Churchill
Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley

Kings and their kingdoms, for the most part, have given way to parliaments, councils and republics.
Today’s Governments have each been birthed out of the early ancient ruling tribes as man has needed to be reigned in, from more or less…himself.

Rules, laws, standards of conduct have had to be implemented in order to afford man the ability to live in a state of order verses the chaos, anarchy, civil unrest and the destructive every man for himself.

Order had to be established.

Yet in that order we are finding a certain level of complacency.
A desire to not have a single boat rocked.
We like our certain standard of living, our freedom, our choices, our self absorption…
We therefore do not wish to acknowledge the decent of various peoples into the more savage behavior that the world is currently witnessing…
We want to ignore the rise of the wild beasts around us lest we perhaps follow suit…

Be it…
Daesh (ISIS)
Hezbollah
Al-Qaeda
The Taliban
Boko Haram
Hamas
Al-shabaab
The Muslim Brotherhood
or any local mafia, militant or terror group…rearing its ugly head.

From groups to actual nations and Governments who eerily morph or have reverted to a form and time when life and death were easily confused.

The following Washington Post excerpt is based on an interview with CIA Director John Brennan

“More recently, he had to confront his Russian counterparts over evidence that their intelligence operatives have been systematically harassing U.S. diplomats both in Moscow and Europe. According to a Washington Post report, Russian agents have paid journalists to write negative stories about Americans, have followed their kids home from school and, in one case, have even broken into a U.S. defense attache’s home and killed his dog. Brennan says he told his counterparts “in direct terms,” that the behavior was “unacceptable” and “destructive” to the relationship.”

There was a reason why, Winston Churchill, who was not an overtly religious man, was compelled to hold strongly and vowed to fight to the death for the Mosaic laws as issued from the Sovereign Creator…

He knew the importance of the standard of conduct issued by God himself….

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:…
Deuteronomy 28:1…

culpability

“Alas, human vices, however horrible one might imagine them to be,
contain the proof (were it only in their infinite expansion) of man’s longing for the infinite;
but it is a longing that often takes the wrong route.
It is my belief that the reason behind all culpable excesses lies in this
depravation of the sense of the infinite.”

Charles Baudelaire

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(Truman Library)

Any one of a certain age is no doubt familiar with the images of President Harry Truman and of his famous sign, kept on his desk in his office, within the Oval Office.

The Buck Stops Here

President Truman came into office wearing a very heavy mantle weighted down by grave responsibility.

The Nation was wading through the throws of WWII, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the longest serving US president, had died suddenly in office, resulting in Harry Truman, who was the current vice president, being sworn into the highest office in the land.

It was Harry Truman who had the final word in the decision to bomb Japan…
A decision which decisively ended the war…
Yet it was to be a haunting decision laced with grave and costly repercussions for generations to come…

However it is not to nuclear weaponry or WWII that I wish to cast today’s thoughts but rather to that solitary desk plaque.

The Buck Stops Here.

We all know what it means.
We all expect our leaders, as well as anyone charged with the responsibility of overseeing others, to know what it means.

On more than one occasion President Truman referred to the desk sign in public statements. For example, in an address at the National War College on December 19, 1952 Mr. Truman said, “You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you — and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here’ — the decision has to be made.”
In his farewell address to the American people given in January 1953, President Truman referred to this concept very specifically in asserting that,
“The President–whoever he is–has to decide.
He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him.
That’s his job.”

(Excerpt taken from the Truman Library)

Meaning that a leader, a person in charge of other people, a person who is to cast definitive decisions and choices which effect others is to be the last and final word…
and that in turn, he or she must live with that final word…as in own that final word.

People who where the buck stops can either be lauded for their decisions or held culpable when those decisions run amuck.

Wikipedia states that the word Culpability means…

A person is culpable if they cause a negative event and
(1) the act was intentional;
(2) the act and its consequences could have been controlled (i.e., the agent knew the likely consequences, the agent was not coerced, and the agent overcame hurdles to make the event happen); and
(3) the person provided no excuse or justification for the actions.[1]

Culpability descends from the Latin concept of fault (culpa). The concept of culpability is intimately tied up with notions of agency, freedom, and free will. All are commonly held to be necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for culpability.

Today’s news has been rife with the latest findings from the various “powers that be” committees, those of men and women tasked with the Congressional reports, which are being issued regarding the Benghazi Embassy attack.

In that fateful 2012 attack, in which four Americans–the US Ambassador, an informations officer and two CIA operatives, were maliciously and brutally killed, the Obama Administration has been found guilty of being “lax” in providing the necessary security for the Embassy. The Administration was also cited for being slow to send in military response to defend the deadly attack.
An attack which Americans were helpless to prevent and stave off.

Culpability….

The deaths of these four Americans were brutal to say the least.
When the Embassy was overtaken, Ambassador Stevens was seized by the militants and was sexually assaulted, his body mutilated, cattle prodded and burned before being paraded through the streets where he was left for dead.

In announcing the conclusion of the committee’s investigation, chairman Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina, said: “Nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost eight hours after the attacks began.”
US help was too slow because of “an obsession with hurting the Libyans’ feelings,” he said.

(BBC)

Americans were brutally tortured and murdered…their bodies were savagely desecrated because…
an Administration didn’t want to hurt feelings….

Culpability.

Secretary of State Clinton has been cleared in the latest report of any wrong doing although the administration of which she was a pivotal member has been found to be negligent concerning the attack and subsequent deaths of these four Americans by its overtly slow response to the intel concerning the growing animosity toward the Americans in Libya at that time, especially regarding Benghazi’s unrest…in particular, that of the Embassy, as well as being too slow to send in military reinforcements once the attack was under way.

This is a story that has left me deeply troubled since first being reported.
However my troubled mind and heart pales in comparison to that of the families of these victims….
The wives, the children, the mothers, the fathers, the brothers, the sisters….

And now that time has passed, and millions of dollars have been spent “investigating,” while leaders and people who, where the buck should have stopped, have instead gone on with their lives, their campaigns, their jobs, trying to forget…seemingly trying to ignore this awful attack that was and remains so bad and so heinous…pretending that it never took place… we’re all left wondering….

Maybe President Truman’s sign needs to be returned to the Oval Office….

luck of the draw

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealin’s done

The Gambler
Kenny Rogers

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(my husband trying the make the most of Tropical Storm Colin’s arrival when all others ran for cover/ Watercolor Resort, Santa Rosa, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

There are many days that I am pretty certain that I’m married to Job.
You know, the Typhoid Mary of the Bible…
That lone figure everyone avoids like the plague as it seems God’s got it out for this poor lug.
He’s the Bible’s idea of a bullseyes,
while Satan enjoys a fun little game of darts…
As God’s watches silently in the distance…

Yet, one must wonder, is He all that distant…..?

And you know that expression…
if it wasn’t for bad luck, there’d be no luck at all….?
Well that sums up my husband’s life in a nutshell.

And not only did I marry a very unlucky man,
I bore him a child who has followed suit to a T.
As my husband resignedly notes that our son’s luck is just as bad, just as unfortunate and just as typical as his—that being abysmal.

If it can go wrong, it will.
If it can get worse, it will.
In a 50 50 shot on calling it, theirs will always be the wrong call.
What are the odds?
What is the luck?

And yet…
I for one do not hold on to such a notion…
despite often feeling the sting of a mother’s and wife’s frustration…
I am constantly reminding any and all gloomy Gus’s in my path that in Christianity,
there is no such thing as luck!
Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been left to chance in God’s book concerning His children.

When I was young I never liked reading or hearing about the Book of Job or even Revelation.
I found in both of those books everything and anything other than that
“peace which passes all understanding.”
Rather I found heartache, trials, turmoil, death, loss and
even the final separation of those fateful sheep and goats.

Both Books, both stories, scared me.
I didn’t want to know that side of God.
For in my young immature understanding, God was simply love and merciful,
end of sentence—
None of this wrathful, cold, distant business.
He was not this exacting God who could, in my opinion, turn His back and allow pain,
suffering and calamity.
God was love, right?
And love doesn’t let bad things happen….right?

Lord knows, I have seen my share of heartache and calamity these near 57 years.
Any one who has ever lost a loved one to a ravenous and non discriminating illness,
which seems to gleefully and eagerly snatch away prematurely those we love,
understands all too often the anger that can follow suit against this so called “merciful” God…

I shamefully admit to having had one too many defiantly angry fists raised,
more times than I care to mention, to God when I, as mother, wife, daughter, friend…
witnessed the catastrophic unfairness, when indiscriminate illness and or death,
or any other of life’s unfairnesses, had come calling.

Yet the key piece to this unsettling and often unfair and ironic puzzle is actually to be found in that very odd tale of our poor friend Job…
That single key piece being human understanding.

It is easy and quite human to rile in anger when we witness unfairness, pain, suffering, heartache…
Especially when we know that there is a God, as Father, who loves His children…as we are even told that if we who are “evil” parents know how to give good things to our children, then how much more can the God of heaven who is pure goodness and love give…..
yet here is this loving Father demonstrating anything but love…
But what we don’t get, don’t understand…He’s not the doing these things…

As we live life in that role of helpless witness, time and time again, to the sadistic unfairness of this thing we call life….as our anger, resentment, frustration and even defiance continues to mount against an unseen God who we so wrongly blame for all of life’s tragedies, as the dust settles, we begin to see that our friend Job slowly, mysteriously and miraculously understood…
He understood that which we are currently blind to see…
for Job once stood where we stand now—in that place of helpless victim to the tragic luck of life.

We sit in our towers of self-righteous human knowledge presuming to see all and know all…
that is until something catastrophic throws us the guaranteed monkey wrench.
Tragedy strikes and more often then not, we wrestle with its presence and devastating aftermath.

But what we must know, must claim, is that it is God who sees and knows, not us.
He sees endlessly out before us, long into our futures.
Just as He has seen our past and our present.
He sees into the lives of all involved and into the lives of those who are to each be affected despite our having no knowledge of their involvement…yet.

His is the grander picture.
The greater and far reaching picture.
The vision that eclipses both time and space—of which we are permanent prisoners.

So no…there is no such thing such as luck….not with God.
Rather just Life lived in a fallen and broken world.
Just as there is also our hope, our grace and thankfully….
our salvation….

“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You, therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:2, 5-6

You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Job 11:18

Graciousness appears to have died

“Win without boasting.
Lose without excuse.”

Albert Payson Terhune

“A man who called everyone a damn fool is like a man who damns the weather.
He only shows that he is not adapted to his environment,
not that the environment is wrong.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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(ghost crab who’s given up the ghost / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

We’re not a people accustomed to losing.
We don’t like to lose…
Who does?!
Nobody, that’s who!

We’re a people of winners.
We like winners.
Who doesn’t like a winner…
Nobody, that’s who!

Maybe we’re a little too accustomed to winning.
Maybe we’ve grown to expect it.
Maybe…just maybe…we’ve forgotten how to lose.
We’ve forgotten that in losing there must be graciousness…

Let’s look at a few things…

We love our sports teams.
We want them to win.
Some of us bet on them to win…
as in… betting money…
as in… betting big money.

Losers don’t make us money.
Some of us have been known to do bad things to make our teams win.
We have cheated, lied, twisted reality, conspired with others to do bad things.
We’ve been known to “fix” a game in order to win
We like to win at all costs…

Others of us get into fights when our teams lose.
We decide to fight those whose team beats our team.
We decide to beat the crap out of the opposing winning team’s fans.
We don’t lose well….

Look at our elections…

We like our candidates of choice to win.
We work for our candidates.
We campaign for our candidates.
We yell at other people who don’t support our candidate.
We call those who don’t support our candidates ugly names.
We get into fights with people who don’t support our candidate.
We vote for our candidates.
We get mad when they lose.
We decide not to accept the winner because our candidate should have won.
We contest the voting count.
We demand a re-count.
We demand a re-vote
We make up stories about the winning candidate to make him / her look bad.
We paint a really ugly picture to sway the results.
We lie, pay bad people money…
We want to win at all costs

Look at our primary elections…
There are a lot of people who don’t like a man like Donald Trump
He’s loud, obnoxious, brash, arrogant and troubling to most…
Maybe he’s not “president” material…
Yet he’s been voted into the top position.
He’s the presumptive nominee.
He earned the spot.
But those who don’t want him are mad.
As those who didn’t vote for him are doing and saying all sorts of things to stop him.
They want to ignore the majority of the other people who voted for him.
They want to say that everyone who voted for him is ignorant and racist and just wrong.
When did voting for a person of one’s choice become ignorant, racist and wrong?
We don’t like the voting to not go our way…

Look at the recent vote in Great Britain.
People voted.
The vote was to exit.
But those who lost the vote are mad.
They’ve decided that those who voted to exit are racist, ignorant, wrong.
It was put to a vote…
stay or go…
Go was chosen…
but now…
All those people who voted their choice to go, are now labeled as ignorant, racist and wrong.
We want a re-count.
We want to block the decision.
We don’t want to concede to the majority’s vote.
We want to do everything possible in order to turn the vote around to our vote, our choice.
We no longer believe in choice, or two sides
We will fight and call those who voted against our wishes ugly names.
We won’t accept anyone else’s opinion or right of choice because it is different from our own.

We forget that there are always two sides—
Winning and losing.
And sometimes we just have to live with losing….

Graciousness appears to have died….

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness,
and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

2 Corinthians 8:7

waves and ripples

“A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important and just as nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats.”
Stephen Crane

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(Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

In the blink of an eye, a seemingly glasslike sea,
rippling and lapping gently against one’s boat,
can turn angry, vicious and deadly.

The calm and peace…
the solitude and the seamlessness of being one with the sea…
will change…
is changing…

Will you be ready?
Are you ready?
The winds have shifted…
The current has quickened..
And the storm is nigh…

This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Look! Disaster is spreading
from nation to nation;
a mighty storm is rising
from the ends of the earth.”

Jeremiah 25:32

He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
Psalm 107:29

should we go or should we stay….

“And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too.”
Elizabeth I

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(leftovers from the great wedding of two years ago / Julie Cook / 2014)

The votes have been cast and the people have spoken–much to the disbelief of many other people on this planet of ours…

BREXIT has become reality.

And why pray tell, is this yank daring to wade into the fray across the pond, in the land of over there, you may wonder…

Well, as I’ve stated to a few of my British comrades in arms…. that whereas it would appear that as an American I have no dog in the Brexit fight…it is for that very reason, that I am an American and my closet allies are those of the United Kingdom, that on the contrary, I think we all have a dog in the fight—
as do the other EU countries who are now set for divorce.

It is, however, not for me to ever state how I think those in GB should vote, just as I don’t enjoy being told who I should for for president. But as an outside observer, who is keen on this particular observation, as GB’s decisions do have an effect on this land of their first cousins….I have watched, read, waited and now marvel over the outcome.

The world powers-that-be have each waded deeply into the fray’s waters by telling the people of Great Britain how to vote.
With our President sadly leading the pack.
I apologize on his behalf…that an American president should tell the people of the United Kingdom how to vote on a very in-house sort of referendum…it’s not a very proper thing to do to be sure.

When I was a young new teacher, we had a long standing and powerful superintendent who was considered to be an entrenched member of the good ol boy system within our state’s educational, as well as political, systems.
He and I were not on the same sides of a political fence and I greatly resented each time an election would roll around and he’d make the rounds to each school, calling for a faculty meeting, just in order to tell “his” teachers how to vote…and that was to always cast a vote for his “friend.”

Now I could understand if there had been some sound educational reasons as to why we should be voting for his person of choice…
But for this superintendent, it was strictly a party vote of friends voting for friends—and I for one am not keen to vote for someone just because they are in cahoots with the boss…
especially when I don’t think them worthy of my vote…

I think I was also leery of voting for the entrenched politicians who had made a career out of their office.
For we know what they say…”complacency or familiarity breeds contempt”….
maybe that should read “breeds lethargy and corruption…”

Of recent weeks, I’ve read a great deal concerning the global financial powers-that-be bemoaning or gloating, depending on which side of the fence they line their pockets, what a Brexit would do to the global economy. The likes of George Soros, a man who has profited, or make that made a killing, on the downward slopes of markets before (mainly the Bank of England), is set to cash in once again.
And cash in big—but yet no one really knows how big he cashes in as he doesn’t disclose much…
This man parlays deeply and dangerously into American politics as he gives and gives graciously to the Clintons and their campaigns…He plays his hand in global economies and seems to try to muscle the outcomes of elections as well as markets worldwide—all to his benefit—

The rich and powerful trouble me.
Rich and powerful politicians trouble me.
Even our self-centered, anything and everything goes, millennials trouble me.

I have grown tired, vexed and weary of our political leaders telling us what’s good for us when they haven’t brought about any good themselves…
I am tired of those of the younger generations who whine and complain about those who vote for things such as leaving the EU or vote for politicians that don’t cater to the whims of youth, those young ones whose rallying cry is that “they” have stolen, or are in the process of stealing, our future…”
Yet they are either too preoccupied to be bothered with voting or don’t educate themselves on the bigger picture…

And granted the markets have gone tumbling today…
but it’s that analogy I keep hearing—that the markets are so volatile and actually so unstable that if someone sneezes in one section of the world, every other global market quickly reaches for a tissue lest the sneezing becomes a catastrophic epidemic —sending everyone scrambling for cover…
all of which we are seeing today.
That simply just doesn’t seem very secure in the first place…

So votes like Brexit, which send shock waves into the seemingly untouchable circles of the rich and powerful, the young and the unversed,
as well as for those of us of more average stature,
actually offer a bit of fresh air—
that the people–the average people, still matter.
For good or bad, they still can make a difference.
Their voice, for good or bad, can still be heard…
and that the vote of the everyday person does indeed still matter…

I think Brexit is just one more example of the average, dare I say middle aged and older person, being tired of how this world is being run…

So here’s to adjusting our sails…

The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward

Absurdities of truth

“Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.”
― Samuel Johnson

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(an absurd looking jellyfish washed up on the beach / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

The other afternoon as I was on my way home from Dad’s, finding myself traveling happily lickity split on the highway, as I thankfully worked my way out and away from the madness of the city…I was winging my way home in the fast moving far left lane…

People with lead feet usually prefer the far left lane…

All of a sudden, the car in front on me slams on its brakes, as if a goose had wandered in front of it on this tangled conglomeration of highway and cars…
My reflexes kick in and I feel myself bracing for impact….

The real issue here however was not an errant wandering goose, but rather that this driver had decided that she needed to exit…as in immediately. As in crossing 5 lanes of rapidly moving traffic, over to the exit at the far right, that was soon to be just a mere blur of a memory by everyone driving lickity split…was perfectly alright.
Makes perfect sense right???????

And by what can only be credited to the Grace of God… no one was killed or rear ended…the idiot car made it to the exit.
You’ve got to love those who are in the far left lanes and decide instantaneously that the exit in the far right lane is where they want to be…as in now.

Stupid, unnerving, maddening, dangerous, idiotic, potentially deadly and mostly absurd!!

So as I regained my composure, continuing lickity spilt in my now nervous left lane, I began to ponder the often infuriating wealth of life’s absurdities.
With one truly glaring facet…

That of the Truth.

You know that little thing we were all taught early on to always tell.
As in your nose will grow long if you don’t,
As it’s always stranger than fiction…
and that it will truly set you free…

Yet it dawned on me that the Truth, in this bizarre and surreal world of the overt PC police, the Truth is not politically correct.

Of course it’s not!

To be politically correct one has to bend both Heaven and Earth to fit square pegs into round holes..and of course we don’t like to use the word Heaven as it may be too offensive for some and then square pegs and round holes may be considered too demeaning to others…
perhaps you can see how this is all coming into play…

The Truth–as in the word and law of God, just doesn’t fit into today’s round holes.

And praise the Lord it doesn’t.
Thank God that God is not politically correct.

And yet this grossly politically correct world of ours has decided to just cut Him, His Law, His Word totally out of the picture because they just can’t seem to get any of part of Him to fit in their round holes.

Oh they’ve tried…
They’ve tried to bend what He said, what was written…
God isn’t God…
Jesus isn’t Jesus
Christmas offends
Easter offends
Crosses offend
Praying to God offends…oh, but Mohammed is ok…
The Ten Commandants aren’t really real laws
and for heavens’ sake, don’t display them because they are offensive…
Forget what He said about same sex unions
Forget what He said about what happens when you opt for the sinful side of life….
And forget about anything being said about too much of a good thing really being a bad thing—
because to heck with that kind of thinking, cause we’re going to party likes it’s….
I think I’ve written about that one before….

So as I continued to lickity split down this one particular highway of my life….
I came to the happy conclusion that the Truth is indeed NOT politically correct…
and the truth of the matter is that I think I very much like that little realization…

So here’s to a being a rebel with all things politically correct…
And remember…it is never wise to exit right when you are in the far left lane…
just saying…

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

1 John 14:6