Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wally’s Pond…

Some years ago (close to two hundred, some say) Mr. Thoreau built himself a small cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, and proceeded to stay there for a couple of years… From that stay came his most recognized body of work, “On Walden Pond”, a reflection on life, liberty and the pursuit of the human being… (or … was it the other way around?)

I can’t quite put myself away for two years although, I have to admit, this has been strongly suggested on more than a couple of occasions. So, the very next best thing was to create my own little pond space somewhere in that virtual world that modern technology has put at our disposal, where we can get so easily lost and there, let my mind wander around and come up with some thoughts and ideas of its own. I remember the times when, if we did this we could easily be classified as being “not quite altogether there”…

Ahhh!!! Blessed be the cyber world and the acceptance it brings to our heretofore mundane and simple fantasies…

And no, this has nothing to do with the (in)famous  “arriving at the sunset of life” state of mind. As far as I am concerned, every day is nothing less than a new adventure –be it an oft repeated one- where the good, the bad and the ugly meet in order to create a unique experience. It is never the same, although it may be at times similar to others before it. The uniqueness comes from the little bit more of experience gained in that period of time which has taken place since the last turn this particular set of circumstances happened.

Confused yet? No?... Just wait…  Whereas M. Thoreau went to Walden Pond in order to get away from it all, I go to Wally’s Pond in order to actually connect with it all.  I want to connect with my alter ego, that individual who usually continues to question life, for the simple sake of questioning. Nothing well structured should fear a well placed question and, in these times, most things which are postulated are not only open to being questioned, but definitely should be.

I am not, have never been and expect that will never be a socialist. As M. Thatcher well put it: “Socialism only works until the other fellow’s money runs out” … why do I say this?  I am not in agreement with “big” government; I am not in agreement with my government doling out our money right and left, just so that a few more votes can be bought.

I dislike it intensely when the government (whichever one happens to be, no discrimination here) sponsors or rams through a measure which does not have majority agreement, just to purchase a hold on the votes of a population segment in an election year. This I consider an insult to my intelligence and should be to yours as well.

I do not like to pay excessive taxes, but I am OK with paying a fair amount of taxes and having this money put to work intelligently (yeah, I know… government and intelligent spending in the same sentence creates an oxymoron) so that we can all –or at least a majority- benefit from the results of the spending. There are times when the other fellow’s interests will win out, sometimes mine may. This is also OK, that is the way it is supposed to work. But not always the other way.

I was brought up in a world where efforts and results were to be commended and rewarded; where those who lived off the efforts of others (excluding ill, elder and truly incapacitated folks) were to be looked at as parasites. We seem to have changed this concept to one which expounds that “those who work and produce are fools who should be looked at as tools to reward those who twist a badly structured system into supporting their every whim”. It seems that we are well on our way to creating a society where those who have worked and created wealth are the parasites, and those who claim an unearned share of the product of the work of those "parasites" are the righteous ones.

In other times, having a child was generally thought of as being the result of an act of love between two people. Today, in more than one segment of society, having a child has become a road to more government assistance, food, money and stamps. In more than a few “families” there may be as many as 5-7 children, living in squalor, while their often single parents do not work and yet have the apparent means to have a car, house, better clothing than the average person can afford and to go eating and drinking regularly. And we continue to support this deviation from recognized values. And to cringe away from those who are quick to claim “prejudice and discrimination” whenever someone disagrees with their nonworking ways.

I don’t know if it is the years lived, the difficult moments passed, the times gone without much food… but always with the understanding that it was my responsibility to find a way to get it. Not someone else’s. Perhaps it is the 45 years of work with too few vacations and the constant tax payments… The time spent away from my family while pursuing my chosen professional life… the personal sacrifices made along the way...  perhaps all these together create a veneer of low tolerance for a new generation of freeloaders who aim to wrongly deplete in a few months what it took many like me years to build up.

Aw Shucks!!! Nothing like sitting on the shores of Wally’s Pond to let the imagination fly wildly into those realms which tend to bring up the ol’ blood pressure… so… I let it go … for now. But soon I'll come back and sit a while again...

Jest remember folks… the things we hold most dear in life cannot be taken for granted, ever. We have to always continue to defend them and to make sure that those who want to reap the benefits, have earned the right to do so.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs). If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Think, Therefore….

…I must be a member of a vanishing species…

Many years ago, during the dawn of what would turn out to be a somewhat convoluted existence, a young man was constantly exhorted by his elders to exercise the ability to think. “Think for yourself!” This young man would be admonished to do… “Don’t let others decide for you what you should decide for yourself…” they would pummel his ears with these and other similar advice, so strongly imbuing this concept that it bordered on being a requirement to live as a member of this family unit.

So it was that this thinking took this young man to question most everything that would come his way; a habit which often brought chagrin (in one or more of its expressions like… mortification, embarrassment and especially, annoyance…) to those who had so strongly advocated the very behavior. In early school, an old fashioned catholic school so commonly present in Latin countries, this questioning constantly brought this young man face to face with a marble column which, eventually, would become a friend and confidant. For it was then common practice to have an offender (guilty of any type of offense) stand outside the class facing one of many columns….  I guess the equivalent of the dunce cap in the corner of the room… It meant that this individual had been insubordinate or OMG!!... worse yet… Had questioned heretofore unquestioned authority…

As time went on and this young (now an older young man) person faced several issues which were truly life changing, this behavior took on a life of its own. It actually propelled his actions. Thinking became an ingrained habit; questioning, a close second. Rebellion (of the mental kind) ensued as a constant; authority was to be questioned at all times, unless it came accompanied with a logical explanation.

So it was that the often exercised authority without reasoning became anathema; an enemy against which this man would fight an ongoing personal battle. Often, those around him could not, or would not want to, understand why he couldn’t just ignore what he considered banalities and just, simply , go on in this or that well paying position. As you can imagine, some suffered along with him… suffering that in a more likely scenario, they should not have endured. This brought an additional layer of problems and reasons to abandon this crazy habit of… well, thinking.

As this man now approaches that status of “mature member of the society” (well, OK... he is there!!!), this continues to be somewhat of an ongoing battle in his mind… To think or not to think… and, believe me, that is not a question… thinking is an imperative. Trying to understand as many “whys” as possible and figuring out some ways in which he can, albeit in a very small measure, counteract the massive invasion of personality-less individuals that seems to permeate the society at large in which he lives.

Perhaps it is the result of our societies (not just the one we live in) becoming massive agglomerations of humanity(ies); this, in becoming so, requires a somewhat uniform code of conduct. What do we give up in return? I think much… we give up the ability to reason, to think for ourselves, to develop a sense of urgency when faced –precisely- with these very issues. We therefore lose the insight to question what we perceive as being wrong or unfair… We become a mass of day-to-day functioning entities, looking to others to tell us what and when to do; afraid of bringing attention to ourselves lest we become the target of some fool(s) who will not accept that there are individuals who actually may exercise their rights as such.

Of course, in every society, no matter how uniform and boring it may become, there is always a small group who become the Jobs, Gates, etc… of each generation and there is another group who, due to an unplanned and unfortunate mix-up of genes, are born without the ability to exercise their full potential. These two diametrically opposed -and not so far apart- segments stand out, for their own reasons.

Yet, there is that grand, amorphous mass in the middle, who willingly give up their personalities in order to conform and yet, when the end of their road approaches, the time left is spent questioning “Why…?” or “What if…?” being now too late to actually shake off an ingrained life habit of conformity which doggedly pursued each one throughout. See, is not whether one can change the world or not. Most of us are usually not in a position to do so… But the issue is one of remaining an individual within society, firm in the fact that each one has his/her own rights to think, to dream, to plan, to express his/her thoughts without fear and to actually try to live that dream and to, yes, succeed or fail at doing so.

If you are young at heart and are one of those who accept society’s demands… think!! You may or not be in agreement with these demands and, if there is a true reason for this… express it and don’t just stand there and watch life go by.  You may be the one who may be in a position to make that change…

If you have young children and are raising them, don’t let the day to day issues keep you away from teaching to them the beautiful option of thinking, of being individuals who will choose their own paths, of being able to reasonably question when their minds tell them that there are options which might be better… They will become, even through the struggles of life, better persons. They will go through difficulties brought on by this questioning generated by thinking but, this very process will make them stronger persons and will help in resolving issues which might otherwise go unresolved.

In the end, these children will thank the adults who forced them to think and to reason, to question and to negotiate, to discuss and to understand that not always the other person has the reason, just because they may speak a little louder….  To also accept that not always he/she will have the reason of it… Most importantly, they will understand what being an individual is; that this is the greatest gift we have been given… our minds.

I know… I thank my grandfather and my elders who instilled in me from a very early age the concept of thinking and I include in this, those very elders who would send me out to the columns… this was part of the process of understanding and accepting that being a thinking being would take effort and perseverance… 

Pass this gift on to your children, don’t let them lose that very essence of what makes them who they are.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs). If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Doña América and other memories.

I know she has already been mentioned somewhen along this line of sometimes unhinged memories as they relate to moments of my life , but y...