Posted by: Brad Stanford | January 14, 2017

Leaving Facebook Behind

I’m closing my Facebook account today, and I’m loving every minute of it.

The things we tell ourselves about “staying connected” and such I’m sure are true for some people. But not for me. I find that the actual connection moments on Facebook are much like trying to find something to watch on Netflix. Most of the time you see lots of things, but make no commitment, and gain nothing.

Plus, we’re just now learning how short bursts of non-attention are affecting us.

But mainly, I find I’m not growing where I’m planted. It’s far more comfortable to talk to my old friends in a way that I can edit beforehand, rather than getting out with the people around me and being as human as possible. Thus, I so what humans always do – the easiest thing – and I miss opportunities to actually live. We need to share mistakes, pain, and facial expressions in our interactions. Facebook and other text-based tools are great for certain scenarios, for sure – like blog articles that require reading and reflection, for instance. :^)

But what we need – crave even – is the shared jokes, the spilled drinks, the shared smell of fresh cut grass in the neighborhood. We need to join up with people who love the same things we love. It’s amazing how valuable a starting place of common ground is to a relationship, and to social interaction. How tempered we are when there are bridges we don’t want to burn. Contrast that to people who argue online who care not if the other person walks. That’s not how we’re supposed to build relationships.

Not to mention Facebook’s whole design is to keep me there to see ads. The design is created to make the FB experience as addictive as possible. How many of you sit down to FB just to check a couple of things, and find a an hour disappearing just like that? There’s a reason for that. I wish to spend my time more productively.

Speaking of ads – scrolling through the random thoughts of people is like looking at an endless list of ads for their lives. “Hey – join me in what I’m thinking/doing/celebrating/hating/enjoying/watching/playing!” I just don’t need that kind of clamor for my attention.

In terms of time, I might – maybe – have one more chance for for a 20-year run on something. At least, with enough energy to really make some moves. An hour spent on Facebook at the very least is my hourly rate lost, and at the worst, a new opportunity lost.

It’s fascinating to #tourtheship and think about all the good things that have happened on FB. And there was a time were it was new and amazing. There was a time when it was necessary, even. But now, it’s time to do something different – deeper, and more meaningful. Hitting the delete button just now was admittedly difficult, like hitting the “buy” button on a high-dollar ebay purchase.

But the feeling of release is evidence that I’ve chosen correctly. I have broken out into a spontaneous 80s-music review tonight, enjoying the fact that everything changes now. I have a lot of things I’m looking to get done. I might even get to read a book for the first time in ages! I’m excited like I haven’t been in a long time.

There’s something about this Facebook attachment that we haven’t thought through. And we won’t understand it until it’s too late. Like how putting chili inside a hotdog is not a better idea than doing it the traditional way with the chili on the outside (I’m looking at you , Frank-n-stuff.) And my spidey senses are telling me to back away from the trouble that’s brewing before the teacher shows up to take names and assign detention. I can’t fully explain it, but I know that feeling.

Anyway, I can’t expect this to apply to anyone else, really. This is a timing thing for me. You go on and enjoy Facebook. And I’ll go do my thing. And the world will turn, the moon will go around the earth again, the sun will rise and set, and life will continue.

Perhaps with a little less noise.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | November 10, 2016

My Morning After Plan

Michael Moore had a morning after list that was a good attempt at trying to fix things, but it won’t. His plan is not about unity, it’s still about chasing the “progressive” agenda more forcefully. That’s not going to help us at this point.

I’m going to give you my version of the morning after list. But first we need to understand what really happened during this election. Let’s look at some numbers:

Total Population: 324,890,000

Number of votes for Trump: 59,611,678 (as of 11/9/16 7pm CST)

Number of votes for Clinton: 59,814,018

Total votes cast: 119,425,696

Lets assume for the sake of argument that some 400,000 people can’t vote for whatever reason. That means our total voting population is 324,490,000.

UPDATE 11/10/16: I neglected to subtract children from the original number. Census data shows children 17 and under numbering 73.7 million. That means the VOTING population is 250,790,000. Adjustments have been made below.

Total percentage of voters who voted: 37% 47%

Number of unimpressed or unmotivated voters:  204,428,700 131,364,304

Total percentage of the population that Trump or Hillary can claim supported them (each): 18% 24%

Conclusion 1: Hillary did not win the popular vote as it’s being defined by Mr. Moore.

At most, I give her 10% 15% that agreed with her about something (one through all issues), and 8% 9% that voted against Trump. Now in the election sense, popular vote means the largest number of individual ballots for a given candidate, which she has. And in fact, Obama did not have the popular vote in 2012, so by that rule Romney would have been president. Be consistent when applying your reasoning here of the value of the popular vote.

The way Moore wants to use it is to suggest, in his words:

“The MAJORITY of our fellow Americans preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Period. Fact. If you woke up this morning thinking you live in an effed-up country, you don’t. The majority of your fellow Americans wanted Hillary, not Trump.”

No, that is extremely misleading. The majority of the country wanted nothing to do with either one of them.

He went on to say:

“The only reason he’s president is because of an arcane, insane 18th-century idea called the Electoral College.”

Again, that’s false. There are multiple reasons why Trump won, one of which is because of the Electoral College. The idea is not insane, and age does not automatically make something wrong. In addition, without that 18th-century organization, Romney wins in 2012. I hardly believe Moore wanted that result.

The reason that two-thirds of the voting public did not feel inclined to vote is because they are smart enough to see that choosing between two people picked by private clubs to run the most powerful nation in the world is ludicrous. Had this been an actual democratic republic, we would have had far more choices, and ended up with the cream of the crop at the top.

And for those of you who are hurt about Hillary, I’m sorry. But the truth is she was a poor Democratic candidate as far as history goes. She lost ground that was handed to her by Obama. That’s not the best the Democrats could offer, and we all know it.

Conclusion 2: Trump was only elected by 18% 24% of the population.

Same as Hillary: I give him 10% 15% true support (one through all issues), and 8% 9% that voted against Hillary. He has nothing to claim here either. There is no mandate, just a divided country still.

Conclusion 3: The country is not “filled with” hate, bigotry, racism, sexism, etc.

Even if all 18% 24% of the country was precisely as the left imagines them, then what? And it’s a fact that it’s not all 18%. 24% So the country is not filled with anything of the sort. Saying so amounts to fear-mongering at this point.

What it does have is moral trouble. To the point that some of you rolled your eyes seeing the word “moral”. Law doesn’t make me want to follow the law, morality does. This is why criminals do not obey the law. There is no reason to. Agreeing to obey is a choice, not a given.

However, all of the things associated with the left’s fear of Trump are still issues. We can solve them if we wish. People are too busy name-calling and arguing to do so. We are always one collective choice away from doing anything we long to do.

As long as the politicians use divide and conquer tactics to keep us apart nothing will get done.

Conclusion 4: Revolutions in policy come about because of a very small but very vocal group.

We already knew the statistics on what it takes to change policy. It really does only take 10% of a group to make a change. That also means it only takes another 10% to change that change. And round and round we go.

10% of 324,490,000 total people is 32,449,000. That’s a lot.

But 10% of Austin’s 931,830 thousand people is only 93,830. That’s more within reach.

If you want a revolution, start small. Let 10% of your neighborhood become 10% of your town, which can become 10% of your state.

Conclusion 5: Too few people are deciding things for everybody.

If you ignore every other figure in this post, look at this one: 18% 24% of the population just elected .00017% of the population (President + Congress) to make policy for all of us.

This is unacceptable.

In today’s world, we have more people in either Texas or California than we had at the beginning of this country. I think policy has a size limit. Here in Texas, I would hesitate to implement the same policies in Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio. They are markedly different cultures, with different needs. And yet we still think it’s wise to implement the same policies in California as we do in Texas? Nonsense.

We also have far smarter people in all of our home states than in office in DC. Good people tend to stay out of politics, and 2016 is a good example of why to stay out. It’s nasty. It’s corrupt. It’s a huge, constant fight, and we’re all weary of conflict. But if we really want “leaders” they need to be the best, not the muddiest.

Conclusion 6: The Constitution is the solution.

When you’re playing a board game and someone makes a questionable move, you consult the rules. The Constitution is this country’s rule book. If we read it without agenda glasses on, we’ll find that those boys were far smarter than we give them credit for. They have answered all of our questions already, if we’re willing to admit that 18th century dudes who actually had to fight the British physically to get their freedom know a thing or two about tyranny, freedom, and how both are maintained.

One of the things they designed was States. Just like we refer to other countries as States, this was the intent of the United States – the United Countries. each one of our States is supposed to be a laboratory of democracy. The Federal Government is supposed to ensure one thing: that the environment for those states to function is maintained through civil defense and contract enforcement. That’s it.

They understood that if people are able to govern, then it will be more effective at the state level than at the federal level. This would allow California to be as socialist as it wants to be (and broke), while Texas stays as free as it wants to be (as it grows like crazy). The nature of the results of the experiments of the States would prove out what works and what doesn’t.

The other thing about the Constitution is that it outlines that we, the people, are in charge. Those that want a bigger government have not read the rules. The smaller the government, the better this country runs. The larger the government, the more it falls apart.

Let me put it simply: as government has grown, has it made us more or less angry? Has it made us more or less neighborly? Is this country more unified than it was in 1955? Big government is not the answer. It just disguises itself as low-hanging fruit.

My Morning After List – For Unity

1. Let’s educate ourselves about communication.

I’ve seen what passes for “communication” in the public square. It is no such thing. The ability to converse is different from the ability to scream and throw a tantrum about someone who disagrees with your (in all honesty) poorly-thought-out and emotionally-overacted position.

Communication can be simplified to four points:

  1. Is the thought in my brain a valid thought?
  2. Can I actually articulate with words what my bran is thinking?
  3. Did those words actually make it physically to the ears of the other person?
  4. Were those words processed in such a way that the thought I originally had in my brain is the exact same thought in the other persons brain?

One of the best sentences in this life is, “What did you hear me say?” It’s the sign of a person who is wanting to make sure that nothing is left to chance in communication.

We all need to learn how to communicate with each other. This is a major way that you prove you love people, is taking the time to learn how to hear them, and how to speak their language.

2. Once we learn to communicate, let’s have a discussion about morality.

Morality is the reason a person obeys a law. Morality will also determine when a law is unjust, resulting in the disobedience of bad laws. Morality, therefore, is higher than law. Philosophers have been going round and round about morality for eons. But we don’t need to figure out how it works. We need to figure out what works.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”

-President John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 1798

If you have no reason to be kind, patient, selfless, forgiving, and loving, then living in a Republic is not for you. You need to live in a dictatorship that tells you how to live and what to think – a society that keeps you from hurting you in spite of you.

But if you can think clearly about right and wrong and make decisions based on those original thoughts, then by all means, live in a free Republic if at all possible. It’s an amazing experience to be free.

3. Empathy needs to be taught and revered.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and image the world from their point of view. This is a lost art, and the effect is quite observable in the world. The main measuring stick of a lack of empathy is an increase in anger due to one feeling like one is surrounded by idiots.

There is a false empathy to avoid as well. When you see starving people on TV and all you do is raise money and hand it to an organization that squanders it, you’ve made yourself feel good, but have not done an actual thing for the person in need. Real empathy says, “If I was that person, I would want me to make darn sure this money got to them and helped them.”

Without empathy, maximum misunderstanding is guaranteed.

3. Let’s educate ourselves about the tricks of persuasion and sales.

Snake oil is still around, it’s just in newer bottles. If you have no idea how media is used to program your brain all day every day, then you are at the mercy of the marketer, the politician, the televangelist, and the retailers. For sanity’s sake, you MUST learn the skill of identifying when you’re being manipulated by another person. And what to do about it.

In this past election cycle, if you never pointed out the propaganda of your particular candidate, you’ve got a problem.

If you ignored Wikileaks – with a record of never releasing false information – you’ve got a much larger problem.

4. Let’s be honest about ourselves

Some of us have become extremely weak, expecting the world to provide safe spaces and income simply because life is difficult. Others are purposely pretending to be weak in order to manipulate the entire system in their favor. Still others have no clue who they are, or why they’re here. And still others are confident, inventive, and helpful, but often penalized for being so.

If you don’t know who you are and why you’re here, you must start there. Otherwise, you’ll be boxing at the wind all your life, occasionally punching the ones you love when they get too close to your flailing self.

If you’re being dishonest about who you are, people will eventually figure it out. Then years of your work will be taken away from you in a moment, and you will lose everything and everyone.

Self-honesty is the foundation of existence. If you think that science is a great way to learn about the world, then apply that to yourself and your decisions. If you’re afraid of being wrong, then be honest about that and get help, because being wrong is a normal daily activity for the majority of human beings. And it’s learning from our mistakes that makes us great. Doubling down on mistakes leads to a very bad life.

5. Get involved in your local political sphere, if possible.

Start with the city. At the very least, learn the names of those in the game. Learn about the offices in your city, and what they manage. Find out the demeanor and/or voting record of those holding office. Find out how long they have held the position. You’re not in control of your life is someone else is pulling strings you have no idea about.

Next, do the same thing at the county level. Some of the counties out there are notorious for being controlled by a small group of people who are the epitome of what’s wrong with this country. You might not be able to do anything about that. But if you have a good county, you’ll be able to learn all sorts of things you didn’t know about why things are the way they are.

Once you’ve done that, move up to state. It starts to get complicated, but it’s worth knowing about. You will find that while politicians at this level have college degrees, many of them act like they’re still in Junior High. Hopefully that will drive you to get involved.

Conclusion – Finally

If we wish to actually #unite, it will take some very hard work. There’s no way around it. I’m willing. I’m processing ideas on how to move forward, to be a first-step taker. It’s going to be messy. I might even fail.

But I’m willing.

Are you?

#unite

Posted by: Brad Stanford | November 9, 2016

#unite

I have a friend that posted the following on November 9, 2016:

“So Mom, what does this mean?

It means you get up tomorrow, get dressed for school, study even more, be even more kind to others and fight even harder to make a world with vitality and dignity for all.

#unite”

For the longest time, I have prayed for my kids to be better than me. What loving parent on the earth would want their child to grow up to be an exact duplicate of themselves? Am I the greatest human ever? Hardly!

This automatically means I want them to be not me. The post above falls into this category of hoping for better people in the next generation. The plea between the lines is clear: You are now in the fight. This is not an adult problem. In fact, adults have demonstrated far less ability to be mature than children. We need the children to be looking at these problems and inventing solutions before they grow out of the ability to see clearly. You have goodness still. Use it.

This election will be written about for a long time, and I am hopeful that most will not miss the fact that there are a lot of details that created this perfect storm. No, this was not a bunch of bigoted, sexist, racist people voting for Trump, any more than the people voting for Hillary are all under FBI investigation. If you are afraid because you think all the bad people joined together to steal you life from you, think again. It’s not like that at all.

What was true yesterday is true today: without ANYONE’S permission, you can be great. You can pursue being a better person. You can love your enemy. You can pray for those that persecute you. If you’re not a praying person, you can work on making sure that you act instead of react. Plan ahead what you will do WHEN you’re at the receiving end of nastiness. Do not fight evil with evil, but with good. Learn to live without safe spaces. Work on teaching people to be excellent to each other. #moralsfrom80smovies

Also: learn how to identify where you are wrong, admit it quickly, and adjust. This is an enormous quality that is lacking.

While we’re at it, build trust in everything you do. Sarcasm with strangers does not build trust. Trolling does not build trust. In fact practical jokes don’t build trust unless that’s the language of your particular tribe. If at all possible, be truthful about your work hours, your reasons for being late, your forgetfulness, your belief system.

Learn to poke holes in your own arguments. Read what others think about your belief system, and wrestle with it. Be willing to admit you don’t know something until you actually know it (see “being truthful” above). Leave yourself open to always being wrong. Contrary to the religion of “established science”, true science is always asking, “Is that [assumed fact] still true today?” Without questioning everything, we get intellectually lazy, to the point of ridiculing those who dare do what we’re all supposed to do – attack assumptions with questions.

I say these things in the support of the #unite idea. Because without these characteristics (and many more that I don’t have time for here) unity has nothing to grow in.

Think about this:

If you think that the ends justify the means for your side only, we will never be united. But if you think that laws are for everyone, and that we should all abide by them, then we can.

If you think that we ALL must approve of a given lifestyle (Christian? LGBT? Vegetarian? Crony Capitalism?), we will never be united. But if you think every human being should be treated like a human being, well, we can.

Unity is not built on conformity, but on freedom within the form. The form is that laws are for everyone. The freedom is that you can join as many people to your cause as you wish. The form is that human beings are human beings and should be treated as such. The freedom is that birds of a feather are free to flock together as long as they don’t poop on the windshields of the car-lovers. The idea here is that your actions set the rules for everyone else. If you are violent, then you’re saying you want everyone else to be. If you call names like, “Recraplican” or “Libtarb” or “Hitlery” or “Dump”, then you are saying loudly you WANT the world to treat you that way in return.

Is that what you really want? Or do you want some peace, protection, and prosperity?

Unity happens when we all realize we want the same things: life (freedom from threat), liberty (freedom from tyranny), and the pursuit of happiness (freedom to be you). We are intelligent enough to figure out how to ensure those things. How about we start there, and work out the odd scenarios as we go?

I am for unity. The decision to pursue it will immediately cause the minutia we argue about to fall at the wayside. Why? Because as long as you think of conformity as your savior, you will not only be angry, but enslaved as well. But when you realize that unity is an environment in which you can be free, then everything changes for the better.

Yes – always keep studying, even when out of school.

Yes – always be more kind to others today than yesterday.

Yes – fight as hard as you can for those who can not speak up for themselves.

Yes to vitality! Yes to dignity!

And, ironically, yes to letting someone else think that those things are not worth pursuing.

If an idea is right, it will be self-evident, and spread, eliminating thoughts in opposition to it.

But it has to be demonstrated first.

#unite

Posted by: Brad Stanford | October 22, 2016

Lesser Of Two Evils

Ah, yes. The battle cry of those whose chosen candidate has no good qualities, but want their team to win.

Yes, it is that simple.

“The stakes are high for this election!” they say.

No, not at all.

The stakes were high when people were transitioning from keeping their government at bay to trusting their government to be both Jesus and Santa Claus. Notice the data for trust in government from Pew Research: http://www.people-press.org/2015/11/23/1-trust-in-government-1958-2015/

govtrust

By the time we hit 1958, we lost this current election. That amount of trust in government turned 182 years of America’s existence on its head.

“An enlightened people, and an energetic public opinion will control and enchain the aristocratic spirit of the government.” –Thomas Jefferson to Chevalier de Ouis, 1814. ME 14:130

All we have now is energetic public opinion, in which is found little – if any – enlightenment. But how did we get here? Of course, history is messy. All of the factors that got us here are definitely beyond the length of this blog. But the one factor that makes or breaks the entire discussion is trust in government.

By the time we reach 1964, all of the pieces are in place for a national coup. Whether it was serendipity or an assassination organized by a shadow government, JFK’s death was the disaster that was taken advantage of to release the government from the bonds of civil restraint as described by Jefferson. Note the high level of trust at the beginning of Johnsons’ presidency. This allows you to create false flag events like the Gulf Of Tonkin, which plunged us headlong into the Vietnam war:

The administration’s zeal for aggressive action, motivated by President Johnson’s election worries, created an atmosphere of recklessness and overenthusiasm in which it became easy to draw conclusions based on scanty evidence and to overlook normally prudent precautionary measures. Without the full picture, Congress could not offer the checks and balances it was designed to provide. Subsequently, the White House carried the nation into the longest and one of the most costly conflicts in our nation’s history. – U.S. Naval Insitute  http://www.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/2008-02/truth-about-tonkin

That’s a very diplomatic way of saying that the government took advantage of the people’s trust to proceed without the people’s full enlightenment and energetic public opinion.

Which is what they have continually done ever since.

Any American generation that is well educated could have stood up to their government and restrained it to its constitutional duties with Jeffersonian chains. However, rather than rallying to do that, the American people have been controlled via this two-party “election” system. The masses are just now finding out that the elections have been rigged for the last fifty years. But anyone who has tried to support and defend the constitution from any walk of life in the last twenty years figured that out long ago.

If this rigging revelation is news to you, or you have dismissed it as the ravings of the uneducated, consider yourself part of the problem.

Additionally, if you don’t know about the Battle of Athens, TN (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946)), you may also consider yourself part of the problem. Our WW II veterans tried to teach us how to handle corrupted officials. I wish we had learned from them. Perhaps we still can.

Corruption is not a condition of politicians alone, since those politicians come from the citizenry at large. It is no more wise to search for political candidates in the current America than it is to search for police academy candidates solely within the prison system.

The current government will choose its own successor. This, of course, will cause the portion of the masses who supported the “losing” candidate to be angry at those who “caused” government to become even more corrupted. But that battle had been lost by 1964. And every American since then has had the duty to reverse that situation. But the prior generations (and now, this one) defaulted to trusting the “system”, not understanding that by definition there are no procedural systems outside of human interaction. The system is corrupt because it reflects the people that make it up.

While the chart shows trust in government as the lowest since 1964 (19% avg in 2015), the civil habits of US citizens march on like it’s 1958. It’s so bad that those of us who wish to return to the support and defense of the constitution find ourselves ridiculed as utopian, uneducated, or worse, even by those who claim to be “conservative”.

Proof: all I have to do to trigger a conservative bar fight is to say the words “Ron Paul”, the name of one of the last of the Constitutional politicians. (Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie are trying, but it’s too late now.) The point is, when someone who claims to be conservative calls someone who supports Constitutional policies “crazy” – essential admitting that the Constitution is crazy – something has gone very wrong.

(Those who self-identify as “progressives” see Ron Paul as a Don Quixote of sorts, and not even worthy of talking about, further proving the point.)

It would be natural if the two parties found their differences in being for or against the Constitution. But both of them are now firmly against it, since both desire to have government operate far outside its Constitutional borders.

The long march to freedom can be trudged out once again. But I am mindful of the words of John Adams as he closes a letter to Abigail:

Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

 

Dear Mr. Adams:

It is with great sadness that I must report to you the death of the United States of America. Great corruption has swept over it like a plague. Adults converse with each other as if they were children. Reason has become scarce. Vengence characterizes our politics. And the central government, full of the worst of us, continues to ignore its people, wisely increasing its level of tyranny daily at such a slow rate that it actually has the masses fooled into thinking there is none.

Citizens who do not have the freedom that you most certainly imagined and attained are proclaiming they have it, not knowing that what they call “freedom” you would call “tyranny”.  Indeed! You would not stand for a tax that you had no say in. These people beg for taxes to be placed upon them! It is a most disgusting manipulation of the uneducated. It is unbearable to watch, as you know.

In truth, America fell ill in 1913. After that, the methods of subtly manipulating the system from the inside became apparent, and evil men began their assent to power. By 1964, evil men (now called “good”) had the crowds cheering for them. They wisely caused the people to fight amongst themselves over who was “better”, calling it “the lesser of two evils”. They made sure the masses learned to ridicule those who stood for what you stood for. At the end, they labeled the cure the disease, and the disease the cure.

The country died confused, not knowing the difference between good and evil, life and death.

I apologize for brining you the news this way, Mr. Adams. But I thought you should know. I, for one, am very grateful for your efforts to establish what was the greatest country on earth. You and your compatriots have given the greatest contribution to science and anthropology ever given, at a costly price. You have proven once and for all that humans, left to their own devices, will give up the rights given to them by God himself in exchange for a crust of bread, a drop of water, and an abusive nanny.

There is a remnant. But it is just now waking up. I will write to you again when it’s fully awake. Your country has died, Mr. Adams. But your ideas have not. That is the extent of the comfort I leave with you.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | October 11, 2016

My Kind Of Rebellion

The teenage rebellion stage is a widely-recognized phase of American life. Styles, words, movies, music – they all reflect this period of time where truth about the world begins to make itself known, trust in the established order of things dissolves, and something – anything! – must be done to prove that manipulation of life will not be tolerated.

Or some variation of that.

My version of it was relatively boring. It consisted mostly of ignoring homework in favor of studying Burt Rutan’s airplanes and aircraft engineering in general. And also taking on any adults or systems who were causing problems in our lives by them playing the fool in my presence, which I did not pity. But the point is, there were plenty of systems and injustices to rebel against then, and there are far more now.

So as I look around at what the world is becoming, I feel the rebellion on behalf of Truth, Justice, and the American Way rising up once again. And I have a plan that they’ll never see coming, because it’s not something they would ever think of.

Goodness.

Yes, goodness. Not just being “good”. Goodness in the sense that everything should make people say, “Wow. That’s good.”

What this looks like is simple: instead of complaining about Millennials lacking wisdom, I’ll teach the ones around me. Instead of expecting the next generations to conform themselves into the system I’m stuck in, I will help them make sure that they have the opportunity to escape. Instead of telling them they have to vote for the lesser of two evils, I’ll explain to them how that’s how we got here in the first place, and it killed our country. (And besides, the voting system is rigged anyway.) Yes, let’s share houses and property and food, but at the same time let’s grow out of the need to receive and become generous givers ourselves by working hard do things that matter. And instead of just giving people fish, let’s teach them to fish.

I would not be here without the grace of God through the people around me. I have received so much from others! And yet, those that have given to me didn’t want me to just receive. They want me to be so profitable that i can help others and make them profitable. It’s called community. And it works.

If those of my generation will sacrifice everything we think we deserve to make the next generation the Greatest Generation II, then we won’t end up sacrificing anything at all. It’s a win-win. We’ll reap what we sow, be it goodness, or selfishness.

What’s encouraging to me is that I know I’m not the only rebel out there. There are so many of you waiting for the right time to do the same thing. Well, that time is now! As the old generation is collapsing in a grotesque whirlpool of infighting (and trying to take us down with it), the best thing to do is rebel with goodness. Let’s make goodness fashionable and it will strip the rug of power out from under the powers that be without them knowing what happened.

Don’t wait on the solution, you are the solution. Within 24 hours of reading this, do something generous or amazing or gracious.

Rebel, people!

Posted by: Brad Stanford | October 10, 2016

Tour The Ship

I have started my own campaign in view of the inevitable end of this election season. The hashtag is #TourTheShip. I would encourage you to post something good that America used to be known for before the year 2000, and use this hashtag to identify it.

I have no idea who will see this or when, but I hope you will help the people around you remember the America that we used to live in, the one we used to think we were fighting for, and the one our grandparents used to tell us about.

That America is going away. But before it does, let’s take a moment to appreciate what so many accomplished, and what so many died starting and defending.

#TourTheShip

Posted by: Brad Stanford | October 8, 2016

Thankful For Seasons

Everything comes and goes. Nothing stays the same, just similar. While the good seasons make me wish that seasons were longer, bad seasons remind me that a universal time limit is probably a very good thing.

2016 has proven itself to be a most uncouth year. And as impolitely as it arrived, it will probably leave in an a manner that is just as strange. I am mindful of the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” I’m definitely a fan of a more boring world, which would actually create a scaffolding for great adventure.

The reality check I ran into was when I found myself looking forward to Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas was great growing up, but it was supposed to grow up with me, not stay locked in 1950. That’s another issue that I’ll address later. Anyway, as I found myself wishing for Christmas before Halloween, I knew I was in a Twilight Zone episode.

Originally I thought it was just me having a bad year, but come to find out the entire world is having a bad year to top off a bad decade. If you’ve kept up with history, you know that pressure that builds has to be released, and it has most certainly started. But it’s nowhere near done yet, and the election season is going to prove to be the giant release valve that gets opened very quickly and violently. We thought the old Bush/Gore recount was drama enough, but I think that episode will be eclipsed by what is to come this year.

Whatever happens, it’s looking like a frying-pan-to-fire scenario, so there will probably be no rest for the weary in the short term. Long term, we’re due for a reset. The inability of the boomer generation to continue playing the current game will go a long way towards that. But we’ll still have to deal with the fallout of decisions that are being made right now.

But this, too, shall eventually pass. It just won’t be fast enough for my liking.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | September 26, 2016

A Small Town Revival Pattern

There has been a running question for a few years now about small towns: “What purpose do they serve anymore?”

It use to be that small towns were centers of commerce for the majority of people who were farmers and tradesmen. Small towns were where road, river, and rail met, so they were hubs where you could buy, sell, and trade. Today if I need something, I can very easily order from Amazon and have it delivered to my door. There are certain things I wouldn’t order like that – building supplies, for instance – but for many things, the internet is the center of commerce.

In our town of Dublin, Texas, we did have something going for us, and that was tourism. We had the old Dr Pepper plant that was making original recipe Dr Pepper with cane sugar, rather than high-fructose corn syrup. Because of the restrictions on the delivery area, the fans of this beverage had to come here to get that product. But a very public falling out between the local plant and Dr Pepper corporate led to the end of both an era, and tourism. We’re recovering slowly, for sure. We still have Dublin Bottling works, the Dr Pepper museum, the Ben Hogan museum, and other museums that are quite fascinating. You can very easily make a day trip out of visiting Dublin.

But we very suddenly found ourselves asking the questions that we had ignored up to this point, a symptom of laziness brought on by us being comfortable with our identity as Dr Pepper, Texas. Questions like:

• Who are we?

• Who do we want to be?

• What do we have to offer?

• Is there a reason (or reasons) for the town to exist?

It’s difficult enough asking these questions about one’s own life, let alone the life of a group of people that is a small town. And for a long time, I think we’ve been waiting to see if salvation popped up on its own without us having to do much. This is partly because of experience – things often just work out – and partly because no one large group of people agrees on a direction, or has a great idea about what to do.

After studying other small towns that have recovered from near oblivion and the habits and characteristics of modern people, a pattern is beginning to develop. First, modern city life has taken its toll on many people. While Americans many hold to the belief that life is about having your favorite stores within a five-minute drive from their homes, there are groups of people who look for more out of life than convenience. They’re searching for meaning, or at least new perspectives. People in this group are often attracted to small towns – even dead ones – because at least a small town has the residue character of people who built and accomplished things. Often, people in these groups are artists looking for inspiration and ideas to communicate with others. When artists move in, restoration begins. That may not be a hard and fast rule, but there is definitely a pattern there.

Next, there are those who have climbed the big city ladder and now have work that they can perform from anywhere. When they see the inklings of a small town recovering – think store fronts being rebuilt and internet access – they will move to get out of the rush. Trading Starbucks and Chili’s for no commute, no rush hour, no noise, and no pollution seems to be a good trade (and it is). Life slows down. Work quality goes up. Now, outside money starts to come in. They invite their friends to come visit. People find rest and relaxation. Word starts to spread.

Now, businesses that are needed to support these two groups and their visiting friends start to spring up. And now it becomes easier to live there. This brings in the third man: those looking for a town that is well on its way, and just needs a little more energy to become vibrant again. Some will live and work in the town, others will start making a regular commute to be a part of something special, something that’s full of life.

As these phases develop, the town organically finds its new identity. This could be through purposeful meetings of those concerned, or simply by a chain reaction of activities that inspire each other. Whatever the case, identity springs up, and it works. The energy becomes self-sustaining, and even the old fuddy-duddies who said it wouldn’t happen have to admit that things are happening.

There’s no formula to make this happen in a given town. At least, not yet. But the patterns are intriguing and really speaks to the idea that life finds a way. People aren’t designed to have everything handed to them in a convenient, marketing-department-designed package. They need meaning, purpose, involvement, and a lifestyle of their own choosing. The path of college/job/kids/minivan/stability/retirement that was once called The American Dream has proven to be one more institution that has crumbled under the weight of reality. And as people scramble away from the falling constructs, they will be finding themselves taking up shelter in the one place where life has always been real: the small town.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | July 1, 2016

In The Wilderness

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1

If you’re a believer going from glory to glory, wilderness happens. It is the place of refinement and preparedness. It is a cleansing process that is required for the next step.

We often pray against this process, when it’s actually an answer to our previous “Take me higher” prayers. We want the higher without the process of climbing the mountain. Don’t get me wrong – God positions us outside of our own efforts quite often. But He is interested in us going through things.

Note that the hero of our story – Jesus – had to go through things. And yet there were times when he would walk on water and manifest himself some lunch. My own confusion often lies in getting these events confused with deliverance, and even further confused by the normal pain of lifting spiritual weights I’ve never lifted before. But the point is: if Jesus was not delivered from suffering and pain, then why would we expect to be delivered from going through things?

Lately, I have found myself in the wilderness. Most everything in life is not what it used to be, and completely unstable. I have multiple direction changes across multiple areas in life. Some of these are natural with a growing family or a growing spiritual life. Others are brought on by God calling me to a new mission that isn’t quite clear yet.

The wilderness is an in-between place, so it’s the complete opposite of a comfortable existence. You don’t fit where you came from, and you can’t go back. But you’re not ready for your new position yet, so you can’t go forward. You feel stuck, alone, weary, and now tempted.

The first two temptations were about who Jesus was: “If you are the Son of God…”. Jesus answered with scripture, and we should be no different. When we get that feeling that we don’t know who we are, we can look at passages like 1 Corinthians 1 and get our identity back:

“4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

But the third temptation was about a shortcut to glory. This is the greatest temptation. The one we face every day. Satan says, “If you will simply give in and be polluted a little by the world, then the path to what you’re trying to do will be far easier.” Just cheat a little. Just don’t pursue the kingdom as hard. Just work a few more hours even though your kids need you. So many temptations!

God already knows your character. The wilderness reveals it to us so we can know it as well. When God starts revealing things, that’s good. It means He has something for you to do (purpose) that can’t be done with the baggage you’re carrying. The good news is, you’re about to lose some dead weight!

So next time you start to pray away the pain, perhaps change it to, “God: take me through this. Show me the way. Wherever you are leading me, I’ll follow.”

You’ll be glad you did.

 

Posted by: Brad Stanford | January 5, 2016

Oh What We’ve Learned

“Meet the new Boss. Same as the old Boss.” – The Who

Welcome to 2016. There will be scientific breakthroughs, and human tragedies. There will be new beginnings, and old endings. In short, this year will be like all the others.

While that may sound depressing, think about it: if it was not this way, if you had no idea what human existence was going to be like tomorrow or the next day or the day after, how would you do anything? If it was safe outside yesterday, but maybe not today, would you venture out?

The great discernment factor for a year is being able to determine what is backdrop, and what is not. In a production, the backdrop is both the environment and the situation that a scene is set against. There can be a flurry of activity going on in the background, but the action in the foreground is what draws our attention.

In my small prayer group, we received a word for us this year: “In spite of”. That’s the theme for 2016. The encouragement was for us to progress in our assignments and missions in faith without fear of what’s going on around us. The story at the end of the year will be, “In spite of all those factors, they succeeded.”

Do not confuse backdrop for the main storyline in your life. Your backdrop does not define you. It’s what you manage to do regardless of it that makes a story that’s worthy of telling for generations.

We’ve been here for six years now. We left our city ways behind and fully embraced being countrified. We live in an old house that always needs attention. We have chickens and cats. We enjoy days of fresh air, and days of dairy air (all phonetic puns aside). There are days where we high-five each other, and there are days where getting back into bed and starting over tomorrow is simply the best of all the bad alternatives.

But what we have learned! The most important thing is that God is truly faithful through all types of times. He said there would be trouble in this world, and there most certainly has been. He said there would be great joy, and we’ve had that as well. He’s promised to keep us going on His mission, and that has been true, too.

We’ve also learned not to stop planting, watering, fertilizing, and sowing in all areas of life. And that praying for growth is just as important as praying for harvest.

We’ve learned that time seems long when you’re in the middle of it all, and short at the end.

And we’ve learned about the peace of God when it seems all hell is breaking loose.

We’ve learned a lot.

I expect the story of humans on the earth this year to be no different than last year. But living differently based on what I learned last year is up to me. I have changed, I will change, and I will enjoy it while I can.

Peace to you and yours.

Older Posts »

Categories