Your Fair Share

There are a surprisingly large number of people in America who sincerely believe that they are not getting and so want their ‘fair share’ which leads to the question: what is your fair share?

What is it exactly that you are owed? And who owes it to you?

The first thing that we need to do before we can determine what your particular fair share is would be to define exactly what it is we are talking about.

What is it that you are missing out on that others are getting and that you deserve?

Tops on most people’s list would be, of course, money. Are you getting your fair share of money? And if you don’t think so, then why are you not getting your fair share? Who are you comparing yourself against? What do they do for a living? What do you do? Why do you deserve as much or more?

One area where you hear many folks complain about what others are earning is athletics, or entertainment. Why should a ball player or a singer or an actor make millions while you struggle every day at your difficult job and make five figures?

Well, first of all, how much do you generate in income with your production at your job, and how easy would it be to replace you right now, or in a short time?

Could you get up on a movie set and act as well as Denzel Washington or Meryl Streep, get up on a stage and sing as well as Mariah Carey, step up to the plate and hit as well as Derek Jeter?

So the answer is a resounding “no”, and you are willing to admit that. But you still sweat and toil, and wonder why they get paid so much more. Well, for one, tens of millions of people all over the country and from around the world are willing to pay their own hard-earned money to watch or listen to these performers. Is anyone willing to pay anything to watch you work?

Because of these individuals God-given abilities they have separated themselves from the rest of us with skills that many of us are willing to enjoy watching them perform. These talents and abilities generate vast sums of income for their studios, teams, and production companies, and a portion of this goes to the performers.

The easy solution would be to not go to any games, buy any music, view any movies, etc. However, the majority of your fellow citizens will not join you in this reclusive lifestyle, and so your protest will effectively be wasted and worthless, except to you, of course.

The exact same income-generation scenario plays out in other forms of salaried positions, from executive boards to law offices to surgery rooms people make money because they have specific talents, or have become educated in and mastered specific skills and professions.

Police officers in the career that I have chosen make more money than clerks in the banking industry that I left behind. The police work outside in all types of weather conditions, have to physically confront dangerous individuals, wear at least one weapon everywhere they go and may need to use it at any time. These and many other skills and job hazards lead to the discrepancy.

In today’s America, and for decades now, the old arguments about equal opportunity no longer exist. There will be race-baiters, women’s liberation holdovers, and other excuse makers who will try to play on the liberal conscience and make you believe differently, but the fact is that in the vast majority of circumstances in this country, anyone who wants to can succeed.

Recipes for success vary wildly, from taking advantage of some natural talent or ability, to concerted efforts at higher education, to plain-old hard work. If you don’t have a natural talent, you can outwork that perceived disadvantage by staying in school and studying, taking low level jobs and working your way up, and so on.

Now some people put roadblocks in front of any success by their own actions involving personal behavior, substance abuse, criminality, and many other activities which cause them to miss opportunities, or have those delayed. This is nothing more or less than their own decision-making process effecting these opportunities.

If you don’t want to work hard, or study hard, or conform to regulations, procedures, rules, and norms set up by society or professions, then that is your choice. But then don’t blame anyone else for your lack of success either.

Some people complain that they have made all the right choices: never made poor personal choices, stayed in school and studied hard, and went out to work and worked hard, and yet still the big opportunities never came along.

To the young who fit into this category all I can say is that competition is rough, and you may need to evaluate specialty education or skills. Keep plugging away, keep looking for opportunities, be willing to stretch yourself, stay on the right path.

To older individuals, you can take the same advice and make it work, but you need to realize that the older you get, there will be some opportunities that begin to close on you. This is a simple fact of life, and if you don’t plan on making yourself valuable and diverse while you are young, you may never be able to make that up as you get older. You simply need to try as hard as you can while remaining realistic.

This is not to say that there are no people who need and deserve help. There are some who, because of physical or mental disabilities not of their own making, or because of unusual extraneous circumstances absolutely deserve assistive services in providing at least a certain level of opportunity. This is simple compassion. But no one deserves a check for sitting home and doing nothing when they could be out working and have the opportunity to do so.

This is also not to say that there are not employers who have historically taken advantage of workers by not paying them a ‘fair’ wage. This happens when business owners in particular fields or businesses ‘collude’ to construct a salary structure that does not allow for competition.

In such cases, limited intervention may be necessary such as salary arbitration, minimum wage laws, etc. But a fine line needs to be walked between protecting salaried workers and profit-seeking businesses so that neither ends up suffering.

The bottom line here is that the only ‘fair share’ that any of us is entitled to is that which we actually earn by our actions. The person who goes out to work at a low-skill job deserves more salary than the healthy person who sits home on the couch. The person who gets educated and gains experience in a field deserves more than the low-skilled worker. The naturally gifted talent that others are willing to pay see perform deserves more than this educated and experienced person.

You deserve a ‘fair share’ dictated by your own efforts, your talents, and your ability to generate income for others. There is no legitimate system in the world that works any other way.

All systems of Communism and Socialism that attempt to take hard-earned money from true workers and disperse it among everyone eventually have collapsed or deteriorated into systems of pure political patronage.

In the end, the only ‘fair share’ that we deserve is in opportunity. If we waste away our time and our opportunities while others are working hard to make their dreams a reality, then those others deserve more than we do.

Many Americans have simply become their own worst enemy, and the only path to success for them will never come from some political ‘change’, but only through personal change.

Revelation perseverance

The Book of Revelation is the final book of the Bible. Also known to some as ‘The Apocalypse’ or the ‘Revelation to John’, the book is filled with symbolism as it unravels the end of times for man’s journey here on the planet Earth which began in the Garden of Eden.

The symbolism of the book can likely be attributed to two parts. The first part is one that I believe to be mystical revelation in which God reveals future events to John of a spiritual or heavenly nature with symbols that he can understand and which are left to our interpretation for their exact meaning and nature.

The second part is one that I believe comes from John’s attempts to describe future people, places, media, weaponry, technology and events in ways that are understandable to him based on the world of his time. For instance, John describes in Revelation 9:19 what I believe to be tanks as horses. When you read the passage and a few just prior, it is easy to follow this logic.

The Book of Revelation is about two main principles. As the New American Bible describes it “the triumph of God in the world of men and women remains a mystery, to be accepted in faith and longed for in hope.” This means that we need to accept with faith that God has a plan for humanity, and that the culmination of his plan for humanity is nothing to be feared, but rather to be longed for.

Many through the ages have wanted to believe that this final chapter for humanity was upon them and their world. They have seen the end of days, that ‘apocalypse’ or prophesied time of the imminent destruction of the world and salvation of the righteous, coming in their own lifetimes. Every one of these previous believers was wrong, or was rushing God’s hand.

God has laid out certain key events in the text of the Bible that must occur before the events depicted in Revelation will come to pass. Among these were the spreading of the Gospel of the Truth of Jesus Christ to all corners of the world. This has only become realized in recent decades, with the final reaching of missionaries, evangelists and, frankly, the internet into the remotest sections of the planet.

Another key event that the Bible lays out as necessary before the end times fully arrive is the rebuilding of the Jewish temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This was impossible until recent decades, with the return of the Jews to power in the region, the establishment of Israel as a nation, and their subsequent control over Jerusalem itself as a result of a series of wars. Those wars will probably look like small potatoes next to what will result if they actually attempt to build that Temple.

The organization of the European Union is another clear sign that we are moving towards those end days of Revelation. Add in the circumstances of Israel in relation to its neighbors, the budding relationship between Russia and Iran, and the strengthening of China, and any serious evaluator of a Biblical end times theory has to admit that the earthly powers and circumstances are finally aligning as fully as never before in human history to those expressed as necessary by Revelation and other Biblical revelatory books.

Now there will be some who will scoff at any ‘end of the world’ scenario. There are many non-believers in the world today. Not just non-Christians, but people who refuse to believe in anything beyond their own worldly thoughts and desires. For these people we can do nothing but pray, and hope that as the final years play out they see the light before it is too late.

The fact is that the Bible says there will be many who see these Revelation events unfold before their very eyes, and yet continue to disbelieve. Some will do so out of a hard heart. These are the stubborn people who simply refuse to admit they were wrong, and refuse to surrender their will to that of God. Others will be seduced and misled by the forces of evil that will emerge during these end times, most especially by the anti-Christ, the world leader who will emerge.

Keep in mind the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Jews there. If you see that happen, you can begin the countdown. If you don’t see that happen, then anything else is pure fear-mongering. But if that does happen, if you are not a believer by that point you had better start paying attention to Revelation, and in fact to the entirety of Christ’s teachings and those of his Apostles in the New Testament.

The end times, whenever they occur, will not be a happy period for Christian believers here on earth. There will be wars, famine, persecution, pestilence, natural disasters, and many other heart-stopping occurrences. The anti-Christ will mislead many into thinking that these are coincidental and that he has the answers. Those of us who know the truth need not fear that time and those events, we only need do two things: remain faithful, and persevere. Remember, we know how it will all turn out in the end.

Until such time, if it even happens in our lifetimes, I would urge you to open up your Bible and read. Try to take the time to read it from front to back. If nothing else, at least start out by reading through the New Testament, from the teachings of Christ to the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ and on to Revelation. Give yourself a fighting chance by experiencing the ammunition of revealed Truth. And may God bless you and yours as you continue your life’s journey.

NOTE: This is the continuation of the ‘Sunday Sermon’ series, all entries of which can be viewed by clicking that ‘label’ below.

Islamism Series: The Two Jihads

Back in April of this year, local Philadelphia Bulletin writer Herb Denenberg pointed out that the War on Terror (or the ‘contingency operation’ or whatever other soft-sounding name the Obama administration wants to rename it today) needed to be fought on two fronts.

Fail to fight battles aggressively on either front, and we are in danger of ultimately losing the entire war.

Denenberg opined that al Qaeda and other radical Islamist terror organizations and their sponsor states were fighting the war on those two fronts: the ‘Explosive Jihad’ being carried out by the terror organizations through bombings, beheadings, and other planned mass attacks and the ‘Stealth Jihad’ being carried out by the slow manipulation of populations, politicians, universities, and cultures.

That ‘Explosive Jihad’ has again blasted into the American news headlines in recent days with the FBI raids in the New York borough of Queens.

The Feds uncovered the first proven al Qaeda cell operating on U.S. soil since the 9/11 attacks, and moved quickly to take them down with raids in New York and Denver. Complete plot details have not been released, but as reported in the New York Daily News, this was “the real deal” and not some informant-based action.

These raids follow on the heels of the May foiling of a major plot to bomb a pair of New York synagogues and then shoot down an airliner with a Stinger missile. That plot was foiled when the New York-area Joint Terrorism Task Force uncovered and infiltrated the scheme.

The NYJTTF supplied the cell with phony plastic explosives. When the terrorists planted these fake bombs, the Feds moved in and made their arrests. The Daily News reported also that one of the suspects, Abdul Rahman, stated “I hate those motherfuckers, those fucking Jewish bastards. I would like to get a synagogue.”

Meanwhile, on the “Stealth Jihad” front, the Wahhabists from Saudi Arabia continue to fund a variety of methods aimed at changing American attitudes and culture in favor of Islam.

As reported in the online magazine Front Page: “..embedded deep within our system of higher education, including many of our most prestigious universities..the Saudis have steadily infiltrated American educational institutions with vast infusions of cash.”

Wahabbism is one of the most radical and virulent strains of Islamism, the worst of the worst among radical Islamists. It hates Western religious tolerance, and advocates Islam taking over the entire world religiously, culturally, and politically. It has been estimated that the Arab Wahabbis have funded the vast majority of the mosques built here in the U.S. over the past few decades.

The Wahhabists make the mortgage payments on 80% of American mosques, according to Front Page. They have contributed approximately $70 billion dollars over the past three decades to fund anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda efforts.

They also fund the establishment of schools of Middle Eastern studies at major American universities accompanied by the infiltration of professorial positions in those programs which push an anti-Western message.

The attempted attacks and the efforts at manipulating our society from within and without are all part and parcel of what the radical Islamists see as ‘the long war’, the one of attrition that they will ultimately win by wearing down America’s will to fight.

They hurt us on many levels with physical attacks, such as the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of 9/11, but it may be the emotional toll that such attacks take on us, combined with our inability to recognize the danger thanks to the cultural and educational softening, that ultimately prove our undoing.

The Washington Times has reported that “al Qaeda is looking to exploit weakness in U.S. border security” in order to carry out what their sources believe may be a massive biological attack.

In a video presentation, a senior al Qaeda official states:

“Four pounds of anthrax in a suitcase this big (shows moderate hand separation) carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour if it is properly spread in population centers there.”

It has also been reported that al Qaeda has forged agreements with the notorious South American drug cartel Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, to smuggle thousands of the terrorist group’s operatives across the U.S-Mexico border. MS-13 would be paid from $30-50,000 US dollars for each operative smuggled into our country.

Americans need to understand that just because the former mainstream media does not report on these continuing efforts by the radical Islamists to exterminate and overthrow our culture and our nation, that these efforts have ended.

As Denenberg pointed out correctly, the battle cry of the Muslim Brotherhood, one shared by all radical Islamists, is this: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” The fully intend to make this happen through the efforts of the Two Jihads.

Deh-rek Jee-ter!

As shortstop Derek Jeter stepped to the plate for his first at-bat of last night’s game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles his hometown fans were ready. They had braved this windy, rainy Friday night in order to be in the stands at the new Yankee Stadium in order to watch history be made.

This would be no ordinary baseball history, but would mark a truly significant accomplishment. With just one more hit, the Yankee team captain and longtime leader would pass the immortal legend Lou Gehrig and become the all-time hits leader of the New York Yankees.

Let that roll around your mind for just a minute. This is the New York Yankees that we are talking about here. The single most iconic franchise in American professional sports history. Winners of 26 World Series championships. Playing in the spotlight and the crucible that is America’s largest sports market.

The players that Jeter had to pass in order to reach this point represent a true Who’s Who of baseball history: Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Reggie Jackson, Bernie Williams. Jeter had passed them all to tie Gehrig at the top of the Yanks’ career hits mountain with 2,721 base knocks.

Derek Jeter began his career when he was selected as the 6th overall pick in the 1992 MLB draft by the New York Yankees. The Yanks earned that high pick because they were in the midst of one of the worst stretches in the history of the storied franchise, suffering through their fourth consecutive losing season, intolerable in America’s largest market with some of the most demanding (and spoiled) fans, and with a still cantankerous George Steinbrenner pushing the buttons of ownership.

Jeter was a skinny shortstop who batted just .202 in his first minor league season, but in 1993 he became the top prospect in his league, and by 1994 was honored as the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America, the industries leader in such evaluations. In 1995 he got a cup of coffee with the big league Yankees when he was called up to cover for an injury, but was quickly returned to the minors. It would be the last time he was demoted.

By 1996, Jeter was awarded the starting shortstop job for a Yankees team that was beginning to emerge from those losing seasons. He began that first full season by homering on Opening Day, and ended the regular season being named as the American League Rookie of the Year. To cap it all off, he led the Yanks into the playoffs and to their first World Series title in nearly two decades.

Jeter would go on to become perhaps the single most vital player as the Yankees returned to the World Series in 5 of the next 7 seasons, winning 3 more titles. In the 2000 season he became the first player in Major League history to win both the All-Star Game and the World Series MVP awards as the Yanks beat the cross-town Mets in the game’s first ‘Subway Series’ in 45 years.

All during this stretch of team excellence, and on through the first decade of a new century, Derek Jeter continued to play outstanding shortstop defense, pile up the hits, and lead the Yankees to excellent seasons. He won three Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence at the demanding shorstop position, creating a hallmark ‘jump throw’ from the shortstop hole that has created an entirely new term for such plays as being “Jeterian” in nature.

Having signed a 10-year, $189 million dollar contract in 2001, Jeter was set financially for the rest of his life. In the 2003 season he was named as the Yankees official team Captain, a ceremonial title but one that carried significant leadership acknowledgement. He is a 10-time all-star, and a 4-time Yankees team Player of the Year.

In his personal life, Derek Jeter has provided the fans and more importantly the tabloid writers of New York with repeated material over the years as the confirmed bachelor has had relationships with and dated a laundry list of celebrities: Mariah Carey, Scarlett Johannson, Gabrielle Union, Jessica Alba, Vanessa Minillo, Jessica Biel, Minka Kelly, and even a former Miss Universe, Lara Dutta.

So as their beloved championship-winning, celeb-dating captain Derek Jeter stepped to the plate for his first at-bat last night, tied with Gehrig, the fans roared and the flashbulbs popped. Jeter would be up against driving rain as the game began, as well as a fireballing rookie phenom pitcher for the Orioles by the name of Chris Tillman. As Tillman delivered and the flashbulbs popped in anticipation, Jeter swung through the kid’s fastball and struck out.

The complete anti-climax of the moment was replaced by a question: would these fans even get a chance to see history on this night? As hard as it was raining, there was a chance that Jeter wouldn’t even get to bat again if the game did not go on. But the teams continued to slog through the same rain that was canceling and delaying games in other venues, the same rain that the Phillies were playing through a few hundred miles to the south.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, with the Yankees on top by a 3-1 score and the rain having trailed off somewhat to a light drizzle, here came Derek Jeter strolling to the plate once again for his 2nd at-bat. Quickly, Tillman again tried to bust Jeter inside with his explosive fastball. This time, Jeter was ready. Using his patented “inside out” swing, Jeter sliced the ball on a line drive past the first baseman and into right field for a clean single.

As he rounded first base and stopped there, Derek Jeter was the new all-time hits leader for the most legendary baseball franchise of all. He was quickly surrounded by his teammates in congratulations as the game was stopped just momentarily. The fans roared their approval as flashbulbs continued to pop, and the crowd began what has become a regular chant over the past decade: “Deh-Rek Jee-Ter! Deh-Rek Jee-Ter!” they chanted over and over.

Now in his 15th year of Major League Baseball, all played with that same New York Yankees franchise, Derek Jeter is putting together one of his best seasons ever at age 35. He is 4th among all American League hitters with a .331 batting average. He is playing shortstop as well as he has ever played it. And he has those Yankees back on top of the American League east division standings, appearing poised for another playoff run deep into October with their captain leading the way.

Where Were You?

Embed from Getty Images

I’ve already heard it asked in my office, on the radio, and in a couple of other venues this morning: Where were you when you first heard about the attacks on 9/11?

The answers have been numerous, from people sitting in their cars in traffic, to folks working as police officers here in Philly, to folks who had the day off and were watching it all on television.

Being a police officer who has worked the ‘Last Out’ shift for a few years, meaning that I worked a steady shift of overnight hours from approximately 11:00 pm until 7:00 am, I have often speculated that there must have been at least some officers of the NYPD who worked overnight and had just gotten home and in bed by 8:00 am or so on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was usually in bed by that time after working that shift myself.

I can imagine such an officer sleeping away their day, perhaps with their cellphone off or on ‘silent’ and with their home phone ring turned off. Again, this was my habit after working overnight. The last thing that I wanted to have happen was for anyone to wake me up for anything, let alone for some random call from work to reach me.

Who could ever imagine receiving the call that those officers may have missed and later found on their answering machines?

Imagine those officers working all night, getting home on a typical Tuesday morning, and then waking up at around 3:00 pm before finally hearing from some source: a phone message, the news on television or radio, some friend or neighbor in person telling them what had happened.

Of course your first call is going to be in to your work place, and then begins the likely process of getting ready to head in to work, possibly having to make some special travel arrangements to get there.

All of that is speculative, but it takes no stretch of the imagination to consider that there were probably hundreds of such officers in New York city on that fateful day.

Where was I that morning? I would imagine it’s pretty typical, and typically uninteresting. I was assigned as a Detective with the Northeast Detective Division of the Philadelphia Police Department at the time, but was on a scheduled day off.

At about 7:15am I had left our home in the Somerton section of Philadelphia to drive our daughter Melissa to school. She had just begun her sophomore year at Archbishop Ryan High School in the Far Northeast section of the city, and it took me about 35 minutes to get her over to the building and out of the car, and drive back to our house.

I had been logged on to my home PC before we left, checking my email while waiting for Melissa to finish getting herself ready, and was listening to Philly’s local “smooth jazz” radio station.

It was such a beautiful morning when we left, and the mood with the jazz music was so mellow, that I left it playing so that I could return to this same atmosphere.

I got back and things were just as I had hoped. The day was still blossoming in gorgeous style with mellow temperatures and a high, clear blue sky. The jazz music was keeping that atmosphere just as mellow inside my house, and I sat back down to the computer.

Many mornings would find me turning on and following Fox News, but this morning the music was so perfect for the day that I just left it play and kept out the news of the world.

At about 9am, my home phone rang, and it was my wife Debbie calling. She had a bit of an excited tone to her voice as she quickly asked “Are you watching TV?” I told her that I wasn’t, and she replied “Well turn it on, they just bombed our embassy!” I told her okay, and we quickly hung up the phone. But I didn’t turn on the TV right away.

She called back a couple minutes later and said “Do you have the TV on?” When I told her that I hadn’t turned it on yet, she more insistently told me “Turn it on!

So I grabbed the remote and clicked on the television, wondering what could be upsetting her so much about one of our embassies being bombed. Not that it wouldn’t be a big story, but I just didn’t understand why she would be calling from her work about it.

As the screen came in to view there on Fox was a picture of the first Twin Tower in the minutes after it had been struck. I told her “That’s not an embassy, it’s the Twin Towers, and a plane hit it” She just told me to keep it on, that they were talking about a possible terrorist attack, and we again hung up.

As I sat back and watched those early confusing moments, something almost unreal happened on the screen. While they were talking about a plane hitting the tower, and speculating on the nature of that crash, suddenly there was another jet coming in to view in the picture.

In the split second that it took for the mind to go from “What the heck is a plane doing flying that low when one already hit the tower” to “Oh my God!” the second plane struck the second Twin Tower.

At that immediate instant it became clear that this was no accident. There was no doubt that this was an attack. Now the question was, what next? I clearly remember stopping right there and saying a prayer.

The rest of my day was filled with following the developments on Fox News and the other news channels.

My wife was let out early from her work, and on her way home she picked up our daughter from school. I found that my other two older daughters were safe, and closely followed things to see if Philadelphia would ever become involved or our officers mobilized. Neither ever happened.

That is forever how I will remember that day, that moment. The incredible peace and tranquility of that morning suddenly ended by the phone call, and then that incredible moment on television of the second plane as it hit the World Trade Center.

Eight years later it still is as clear a memory as the sky was on that Tuesday morning. I imagine that it will forever remain that crystal clear, and I hope and pray that there is never another day like it, or worse, in our nations future.