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Please Don’t Thank Me for Serving for It is All I Have Ever Thought of Doing

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Over the Memorial Day Weekend I had a fascinating experience. It came about because I got fed up with what I hear a lot in so-called conservative circles that liberals, progressives, and Democrats are not patriotic or supportive of the military. The vast majority of these people have never served in the military but love to use their supposed support of endless wars as patriotism while giving lip service to those who serve as they display their ignorance of the Constitution and the military.

The fact of the matter is that the military is not monolithic, it is at the same time one of the most conservative yet progressive institutions in the United States. It and the people who serve in it are not perfect and we do have our share of scoundrels and scalawags in our ranks.

The institution itself has many faults and defects and there is much to be criticized in the way the services are managed and employed. We stand for ideals that we often fall far short of attaining. While we are integrated and making great strides that shame much of the civilian world there is still racial prejudice and discrimination. There is also a deeply ingrained culture of misogyny that shows itself all too often, and despite many changes and advances a sizable amount of homophobia. Despite all,of that I can say that much has changed for the positive since I joined in 1981.

We all join for a variety of reasons, an ideal, a challenge, a chance to prove ourselves; or a profession that has a measure of respect and offers us educational and health care benefits for us and our families that are hard to match in the civilian world. But those benefits often come with a lot of sacrifices that cannot be matched in the civilian world.

I’m old in terms of the military. I grew up in a Navy family and my dad, a career Navy Chief Petty Officer served in Vietnam. I had friends in grade school who lost their dads in that war.

I’ve served continuously first in the Army and then in the Navy since 1981. I do not recall a day since I was a child that I did not want to be in the military and serve this country. My parents tried to discourage me from joining and encouraged me to at least try college for a year. I’m glad that the did because my first semester I met my wife Judy who over all of these years has stayed with me through almost two full military careers; one of 17 1/2 years in the Army and another of almost 20 years in the Navy, and by the way I didn’t tell her I was joining the Navy until I started the process. Marriage wise this was not a smart thing to do but I wasn’t the first or last soldier or sailor to do such a thing, the great Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain, who I find a lot in common with did the same to his wife when he volunteered to serve as the Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th Maine in 1862.

But I digress and boy did I chase that rabbit, so anyway, this started in response to some words by a real nut case who probably the most vocal supporter of President Trump in terms of marketing and propaganda. The man, Bill Mitchell ( @mitchellvii ) is a businessman from North Carolina who has made a mini-empire for himself on Twitter and now has a radio program. He has a long history of making incendiary comments about liberals, progressives, Democrats, immigrants, and pretty much anyone who criticizes the President. His father was an Army Officer but he has never spent a day in uniform.

That is his right under the First Amendment but it doesn’t mean that he should be allowed to get away it his slander of other Americans without being called on it. something that so offended me as an American and as a career military officer and combat vet that I responded to him.

He tweeted:

Is anyone else amused when we see the Left attempting to stand up for the honor of our fallen troops?

The Left HATES our troops and stand FOR everything they died to PREVENT.

I was offended because in my service in the military that began when I was a Republican in 1981 and since I returned home from Iraq in 2008 and switched my political affiliation, I have never viewed those who I have served alongside by their political or religious affiliations. They all wear, or wore the same uniform that I do and are my brothers and sisters.

Unlike Mr. Mitchell, I do not see military service in terms of the partisan political divide. While we may have political, religious, or other differences we are all still Americans who have volunteered to serve this nation, for the past 17 years in time of war. For the most part we bury those distinctions to serve alongside each other. That has become harder over the past decade or so but even so when you go into harm’s way and get shot at by the enemy those things do not matter so much.

My reply was simple and to the point. I said:

I am a liberal, a combat vet and have served for 37 years and am still on active duty. You have no honor or decency.

I was surprised at the response of people. This man has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, but I got no attacks on my self, my views, or my character as so often happens on social media. Instead I stared getting thanked for my service by a wide variety of people. I was somewhat embarrassed by the first thank you so I responded by saying:

Appreciate it but no thanks needed, it is my honor and duty…

The responses to that Tweet were also humbling and very gracious, truthfully I really don’t know how to respond. This is who and what I am. I have volunteered to go into conflict more times thanI have been allowed and the times I did get to go I got to do things that are unusual for a Chaplain, I have put myself in harms way and on at least one occasion had to be pulled out of danger by my shipmates on an embargoed freighter coming out of Iraq under the U.N. sanctions that followed the First Gulf War. On those operations I not only was unarmed but since there were not enough body armor plates for all the members of the boarding teams I went without. In Iraq I was always the one unarmed member of any advisor team that I was with.

I came home from Iraq incredibly goofed up with chronic, severe PTSD and mild TBI. I have spent a decade trying to fight those demons and I am now doing pretty well. But I came home and there are men and women who are far braver than I ever dared to be, men and women who gave all and didn’t come home. There are others who not only bear the unseen wounds of PTSD, TBI, and Moral Injury, but who have also suffered terrible physical wounds. There are also others who could not defeat the emotional and physical costs of war who either died or took their own lives after returning from war, or after leaving the service. I know too many who suffer or have lost their lives to consider someone as flawed as I am to admire, I just do what I am called to do, they have given all. They are the real heroes to me and I try to use my voice to speak for them.

Likewise, all the men and women that I served with, especially in combat operations are my brothers and sisters. We are to use William Shakespeare’s words, my band of brothers. As Shakespeare wrote in his play Henry V:

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

I am an idealist when it comes to military service and serving my county. I have tried to do my best to follow the words of Joshua Chamberlain, a flawed but great man. He said:

“It is something great and greatening to cherish an ideal; to act in the light of truth that is far-away and far above; to set aside the near advantage, the momentary pleasure; the snatching of seeming good to self; and to act for remoter ends, for higher good, and for interests other than our own.”

So I while I do appreciate the kind words of everyone I am just following what I believe has been a calling for all of these years. I cannot imagine doing anything different except to teach and write when I finally retire from the Navy in the next two to three years. I could retire today, and it would be easier on me, but I still feel the call to serve. I just pray that the man that Mr. Mitchell has turned into his god does not take us in to any disastrous wars or destroy our Constitution and system of government during that time.

I do not believe in the old adage “my country right or wrong,” I know that as much good as has been done by the United States that our leaders, and people have done many wrongs, on our own continent and abroad. Today I am terrified by things that I see the President and administration doing, actions that threaten the Constitution, civil rights, and peace. So in my closing years of military service I keep the words of the German General Ludwig Beck, who did in the attempt to kill Hitler and end Nazi rule close to my heart:

“It is a lack of character and insight, when a soldier in high command sees his duty and mission only in the context of his military orders without realizing that the highest responsibility is to the people of his country.”

I hope that this all makes sense, so until tomorrow.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under ethics, faith, iraq,afghanistan, mental health, Military, Political Commentary, Tour in Iraq

A Crisis of Character: Trump Emulates Kaiser Wilhelm II and War Beckons

Two of a Kind: Kaiser Wilhelm II and President Trump

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

With every passing day the words of Theodore Roosevelt keep echoing in my mind. The President and hero of San Juan Hill noted: “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” That is especially true as we all await to see if the actions of President Trump live up to his Tweet storms to defy the Constitution, and unleash missiles on Syria and the forces of Russia and Iran located in that suffering country.

I could never in a million years believed that I would see the day when the manifold transgressions of an American President threaten the both the Constitution and potentially the very existence of the United Staes.  First growing number of  of crises involving multiple indictments of Trump surrogates involved with the supposedly non-existent Russian interference and the President’s threats against the press, political opponents, prosecutors, and his own Department of Justice regarding the Trump campaign collusion with Russia are frightening on their own merits. But then there is the of potential nuclear war with North Korea. But for just a dash of spice let’s mention the President’s tweets of looming strikes on Syria and taunts against Russia. Frankly as recipes for disaster go this is like adding Ghost Peppers to a Sarin laced cheesecake, but I digress…

I think that it is important to see the President’s words and actions in light of a number of factors. The first and foremost of those is character, just as Theodore Roosevelt noted. President Trump may be a character; he may even be a hoot when he gets peed on by Putin paid prostitutes (if such rumors are true) but he shows little evidence of actually having character or being a man of honor.

That dear reader is really the problem, thus it is important to know how the character other leaders at other historical  influenced how they treated people, reacted to criticism, and led their nations into disaster.

In the American experience one is hard pressed to find a President with a similar temperament and character that corresponds to Donald Trump. Yes, Nixon had some similarities, Jackson as well, but both men even at their worst did, at least in public restrain themselves and Nixon, when confronted with the reality of certain impeachment did the country a favor by resigning. Of course American history is replete with other Presidents and leaders with a corresponding lack of character but none tweeted with their iPhone in one hand and the nuclear football in the other, although I assume that he has to put at least one down to eat his friend chicken as he gets his political strategy and intelligence briefings from Sean Hannity and Steve Doocey.

But the times have changed. At onetime there were leaders in the Republican Party who chose to honor the Constitution and their oaths over blind party loyalty or their determination to pass a certain legislative act. Their resistance to President Nixon was instrumental in his resignation in 1974. But there seem to be few current members of the GOP congressional delegations willing to stand either for fear of the Trump base, or blind determination to press on with tax cuts even if it means the sacrifice of the Constitution, nuclear war, or their own integrity.

But all that being said I do think that there is a leader from historywho in temperament was much like President Trump, who ended up helping to lead his nation and the world to the abyss of World War. That is not Adolf Hitler who many people often compare the President. I think that Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and his reliance on his radicalized base, including armed mobs in the street, and hyper-partisan allies in the right wing media, especially Fox News and Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp which serves as his de-facto state media are similar, but they do not speak to the President’s unstable, narcissistic, and paranoid behaviors. I think that the better comparison is to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany with whom the President seems to share many similarities, both in temperament and words.

As tensions built in the lead up to the First World War Kaiser Wilhelm alternated between threatening Russia with destruction and pleading with his cousin Czar Nicholas II for peace.

In his book The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, Christopher Clark wrote of Wilhelm in words that are strikingly reminiscent of the President.

“It was one of this Kaiser’s many peculiarities that he was completely unable to calibrate his behaviour to the contexts in which his high office obliged him to operate. Too often he spoke not like a monarch, but like an over-excited teenager giving free rein to his current preoccupations.

‘I am the sole master of German policy,’ he remarked in a letter to the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII), ‘and my country must follow me wherever I go”

“Wilhelm frequently –especially in the early years of his reign –bypassed his responsible ministers by consulting with ‘favourites’, encouraged factional strife in order to undermine the unity of government, and expounded views that had not been cleared with the relevant ministers or were at odds with the prevailing policy.

“It was in this last area –the unauthorized exposition of unsanctioned political views –that the Kaiser achieved the most hostile notice, both from contemporaries and from historians. There can be no doubt about the bizarre tone and content of many of the Kaiser’s personal communications in telegrams, letters, marginal comments, conversations, interviews and speeches on foreign and domestic political themes. Their exceptional volume alone is remarkable: the Kaiser spoke, wrote, telegraphed, scribbled and ranted more or less continuously during the thirty years of his reign, and a huge portion of these articulations was recorded and preserved for posterity…”

Max Hastings wrote that Wilhelm “was a brittle personality whose yearning for respect caused him to intersperse blandishments and threats in ill-judged succession.” Sean McMeekin in his book July 1914 wrote that Wilhelm had an “insecurity complex, a need for constant attention and acclaim. As one of his many critics put it, the kaiser needed to be “the stag at every hunt, the bride at every wedding, and the corpse at every funeral.” He also noted “Eager for praise, taking offense at the merest slight, the kaiser was a difficult man to work for. Bismarck had disdained to gratify Wilhelm II’s fragile ego after he became emperor in 1888, which led to his sacking two years later.”

Like President Trump the Kaiser did experience some push back from different governmental ministers, and was somewhat restrained during the month leading up to the war, but his constant belligerence, instability, and unscripted remarks helped set the diplomatic and governmental crisis that led to the war. Of course this was not his fault alone, the Austrian-Hungarians, Serbians, Russians, French, and British all had a hand, but the Kaiser, through his words and actions during the three decades preceding the war bears much responsibility for what happened in 1914. If the Kaiser had had a Twitter account he would have certainly used it in a similar manner to President Trump.

But Germany had no checks and balances to restrain Wilhelm. He was an absolute monarch. Americans do still have institutional checks and balances to Presidential overreach or abuses should we choose to follow the Constitution, but for that to happen the leadership of the Republican Party must also act, as did their predecessors during the Nixon administration to put principle or party, and rule of law over blind obedience. This is not about partisanship; it is about the Constitution, our form of government, and yes, even the prevention of nuclear war, that being said I don’t think that todays Republicans would pass the test that Wilhelm’s advisors failed in 1914.

Character and temperament are very important in times of crisis and elevated tensions. Character is also fate. We should all tremble when we think of the lack of character and maturity shown by our President.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under ethics, History, national security, News and current events, Political Commentary, world war one

The Book of Trump: Continuing to Become Who He Already Is

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Raymond Reddington once said: “We become who we are. We can’t judge a book by its cover… But you can by its first few chapters, and most certainly by its last.” 

Yesterday I posted an article about President Trump’s pathological need for revenge and how it is poisoning him. In the article I quoted Reddington, the character played by James Spader in the television series The Blacklist about how how revenge is not a passion but a disease that is killing him as a person regardless of whether as some speculate that he is suffering from a mental illness or neurological condition. I also discussed how his supporters don’t seem to give a damn about him as a person, including his supporters in the clergy. If I am angry about anything it is how his supporters enable, make excuses, and never are honest with him. Maybe that wouldn’t make any difference with Trump, but they are culpable for their deeds in regard to him. They are ideologues and cowards, and I will write about them another time.

The problem with trying to place the blame for the President’s behavior on mental illness or some kind of degenerative neurological condition is that this presumes that his behavior now somehow deviates from his past. The fact is that it doesn’t. He has been this way for decades and while it is possible that the stresses of the office have made his personal defects more noticeable and that because of them he may be coming to a breaking point where he cracks up, he has always been this way as an adult.

 

Regardless of what revelations about the President are included in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury, it is the daily damning comments that he makes on Twitter every day that reveal who he is and what he always has been: a petulant, emotionally stunted, childish bully.

He is like every bully I have ever known and if you look at his life, especially after graduating from college and going to work for his father as a real estate developer; enriching himself, bankrupting his companies, and leaving carnage behind him in the lives of his partners, his contractors, his employees, and his marriages. I don’t like bullies, never had, never will. I was always the new kid in town and I was not a big kid. As a result I got bullied, but I always fought back, even when the odds were against me, so even when I lost those fights, I gained a manner of grudging respect from my tormenters. I didn’t like bullies when I was a kid, and I like them even less now. Likewise, I got in fights to defend smaller and weaker friends against bullies. I have grown up but I still try to defend the weak against the powerful in whatever way I can. This has led me to become, since my tour in Iraq, a civil rights advocate for minorities, women, and LGBTQ people.

As such I have no problem dealing with bullies, but now I have to fight them from the point of love and not hate, and for me to do that with the President is a daily challenge because I am not so Christlike that I cannot hate. That being said when I struggle I have to fall back to the words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Like Reddington said, you cannot judge a book by its cover; but if you examine the first chapters of Donald Trump’s career and the chapters that he is writing for us every day on Twitter and during every interview that he grants. He simply is continuing to become who he already is, and I don’t think that he will ever change.

That being said I wake up every day that the next chapter that the President writes will be different and that maybe my prayers and hopes for the President will be realized. Unfortunately I am a skeptic when it comes to believe that people like the President can change and that the final chapter of the book will be different from the preceding chapters.

So until the next time,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under ethics, faith, News and current events, Political Commentary

Tweeting His Way to Oblivion: Trump’s Tweets and Terrorism

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

So far this has been a very troubling couple of weeks. First there was the murder of a newly commissioned African American United States Army lieutenant by a White Supremacist in Maryland. Then in Portland Oregon, the murder of two men and wounding of another who stepped between a crazed White Supremacist and his intended Muslim victims. Across the “Pond” in Britain there was the horrific suicide bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and the crazed attack on the London Bridge and a nearby restaurant district. To keep on point let’s not even go into domestic American politics, the growing controversy regarding the Trump-Russia intrigue, and the continued North Korean threat, and the emerging crisis among the Gulf States, and Trump’s withdraw from the Paris Climate accords, although all of them are important and worthy of our attention.

These were all terrorist attacks done by people with racial or religious motives and in the case of the Oregon attacker maybe a combination of both. But the response by the President was markedly different. The White supremacist attacks received almost no attention from the official White House sources and none from the President, even on his incredibly active personal Twitter account which he used repeatedly to voice his opinions about the Manchester and London attacks. Sadly, his tweets about London were most embarrassing focusing on his domestic agenda, his attacks on the courts, and personal attacks and criticism of London’s mayor. As someone who had been a life-long Republican until my return from Iraq in 2008 I could not imagine Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, or Gerald Ford doing anything similar, nor could I have imagined Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, or even Richard Nixon diminishing the office as badly as President Trump has done.

Long before Trump was elected I knew that we were in trouble should he become President, I wrote about that last week. After he was elected I said I would pray for him and hope that his Presidency would benefit Americans and the world with the caveat that I prayed that he wouldn’t do anything to screw things up too badly. Sadly, he is well on the way to doing just that both at home and abroad and I cannot see him changing course, he seems to relish destroying the heritage of the country, grinding our ideals into the mud, destroying our alliances, and making us a pariah nation. Now I can only hope that either through impeachment or the use of the 25th Amendment that he will be removed from power. But if that happens I expect him to call his most ardent supporters to arms and violent opposition.

So anyway, we’ll see what happens next.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under leadership, News and current events, Political Commentary

Reordering Life under the New Order

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I have taken most of the past week off and did little in the way of writing, but I did do much reading and reflecting over the Thanksgiving holiday. We spend most of the holiday out of town with friends near Washington D.C. in a very relaxed environment in which I radically reduced my time on social media to do a lot of reading and reflecting about the future that we are soon about to enter, a future that portends a radical departure from the historic norms of American democracy, polity, and social convention. We are about to enter a “new order” and it is important that we as Americans realize what this will entail.

However, I will come back to that later or in future articles. Today I will talk about what I am doing to keep my balance and to prepare for the difficult times that lay ahead for us. The problem for me is that as a historian who has devoted most of his life to studying the totalitarian Third Reich, and who also has a large amount formal graduate level education in theology, philosophy, and ethics that I see the gathering storm and am doing what I can to prepare personally as well as to be a beacon of rational thinking in a world that has gone mad.

The fact is that in less than two months a highly narcissistic megalomaniac authoritarian who appears to live in a cloud-cuckoo-land of delusional fantasy and paranoia will be the President of the United States. No recounts will change that fact, and unless members of the Electoral College actually do the job that the Constitution demands that they do, that Donald Trump will be President come January 20th 2017. That is a hard fact. One can talk about him not being their President all that they want but he will have the full power of that office in his hands and like it or not he will be making the decisions unless checked by Congress and the Courts. I do hope, probably against hope that those pillars of government rise to the occasion but I fear that they will not.

So over the Thanksgiving holiday I made some alterations to how I do life. First I have pulled back from social media. I still look at my Facebook and Twitter feeds at the posts of people whose intellect and desire to be truthful, but I am much more hesitant to comment on other people’s feeds, including people I dearly value as friends.

Likewise, I have become very selective about what I share. If I share something related to our current political situation I am first reading the article, checking its veracity, and looking at the track record of the author. As such, I am reading longer, more thoughtful, reflective and analytical articles that force me to think as I read them. Even then I will not necessarily share them on Facebook or Twitter unless I think they rise above the banter and chatter that inundates those platforms. Yes I am being more circumspect, but part of this circumspection is the realization that there are people who in the wake of Trump’s election are already are making “enemies lists” of professors, government officials, writers, and others that they would like to silence. Having been trolled and threatened for years I know that I am a potential target.

I am also much more discriminating in where I get my news. I am focusing on well-established newspapers in the United States and Europe where investigative reporting and substance matters while avoiding all American Cable News channels and sites that promote sensationalism or that thrive on unsubstantiated rumor or innuendo. The fake news business that was a fixture of the 2016 election is still going strong and is going to be used more and more to promote fear, distrust, and to pave the way for tyranny. As such I am not taking the bait when I see headlines posted on Facebook or Twitter which are solely designed to inflame passions and lead people respond emotionally without critical thinking or reflection.

As far as news and social media I have stopped looking at them after 10 PM. This is something that I should have done a long time ago. My regular readers know the difficulty I have sleeping do to PTSD and TBI and the memories of wartime and other traumatic experiences returning from war and I have found that many social media posts as well as the constant bombardment of news; real, fake, important, and unimportant only raises my nighttime anxiety and makes it far harder to sleep. Instead, I read or watch my favorite television shows or movies. I probably need to write an article dealing with this in the near future. There is something to be said about disconnecting from the insanity at night. 

I am going to be very careful when listening to politicians, and not just the incoming President, use terms such as “extremist” in describing individuals or groups that they oppose and “terrorist” to describe events that may or may not be terror related. Likewise, I will be careful when politicians using the pretext of an “emergency” describe “exceptional” circumstances to curb civil rights and individual liberties. Such methods are emblematic of authoritarian states and are the death of democratic states. The fact is that the Patriot Act and numerous already existing Executive Orders provide mechanisms for the Executive Branch to suspend civil liberties in reaction to certain emergencies.

I am going to limit what I say in e-mail and social media posts and try to do more through direct personal contact, sharing meals and drinks while discussing important issues. Likewise I am going to get out more, mingle more with real people, and also take time with Judy and our dogs. I really am coning to enjoy spending time with Judy and my walks with our dogs provide me a lot of relaxation and enjoyment, so they are getting longer and more numerous.

I am becoming much more alert to threats of violence and intimidation by some of Trump’s supporters as well as members of the “Alt-Right” which is nothing more than a bunch of rebranded Nazis and Klansmen. I will speak up against such people and organizations at every opportunity as to quote General George Patton “the Nazis are the enemy” and I don’t care where they come from, I will fight them.

I have a lot more to say on this, but that is all for now. Have a great day.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under civil rights, News and current events, Political Commentary

Memories of Molly & Thanks to Friends

 

molly and orioles hat

Dean Koontz wrote:

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”  

As most of you know from what I posted yesterday we had to have Molly Fur, the wonderful dog who saved my life after Iraq put down at the age of fourteen. I knew her loss would hit me hard, however I have always tried to conduct myself in such situations as would Mr. Spock on Star Trek, or Commander Data in Star Trek the Next Generation before he got the emotion chip implanted. That being said I knew that I would cry, however, little did I expect that every time I turned around that I be crying.

Honestly I feel a lot like Robert De Niro playing the mobster Paul Viti in the movie Analyze This, where he tells his shrink played by Billy Crystal: “The other day, I was watching a commercial with a kid playing with a couple of puppies, I cried for forty five minutes! You slap a pair of tits on me, I’m a woman!” But I digress…

Molly meant more to me than almost anything in life. I am convinced that had she not come to live with me when I was stationed in Camp Lejeune away from Judy, that I would have succumbed to despair and found a way to die without making it look like suicide. I probably would have driven off the bridge to Emerald Isle or driven into the trees lining one of the state highways on the way to or from work.

However, having Molly there kept me from this because I wondered what the effect would have been on Molly. Stanley Coren wrote:“The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them.”  I couldn’t do that to her, she loved me too much and would not have understood.

Having Molly with me in North Carolina gave me someone to come home to, and her cheerfulness and devotion kept me going through some of the darkest times of my life. Just having her waiting for me when I came home made all the difference and today for the first time I came home from work and Molly was not there to great me. It really hit me again, that she was gone .

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Molly was so irresistibly funny, sweet and beautiful and she lived her whole life that way, caring for Judy as much as she cared for me. Molly would sit with me on a huge bean bag chair and watch baseball, sometimes she would be looking at the television so intently I thought she had to be watching the games at least as much as she was comforting me, especially during the 2012 season when the San Francisco Giants won their second World Series title. She hardly left my side during those games.

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Thankfully, Molly never developed the taste for beer that our now Senior Dog on Deck, Minnie has, otherwise I would have probably had to pour her out of the beanbag to chase the deer around the house.

Over the past couple of days Judy and I have been showed such care and love by family and friends, in person as well as on Facebook. Likewise I have received so many kind words and thoughts from people who follow me here or on Twitter.

I know that sometimes social media can be poisonous and filled with vitriol. However, that being said such is not always the case. There are a lot of wonderful people out there on Twitter, Facebook and in the blogosphere.  The kindness shown by people people that I have never met in person who follow me on this site and Twitter has been amazing.

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I think Molly will always be with Me

Your kindness  reduces me to tears, just like Paul Viti, and just like is happening to me right now as I wipe the tears from my eyes. But those tears are not tears of sadness. They are tears of appreciation and thanksgiving, to Molly who saved my life, and for all who have taken just a few moments of time to offer a word of kindness. Those words have enabled me to remember all those times that Molly made my life better, helped keep me alive, and in the process probably made me a better person in spite of myself.

Thank you all so much.

Blessings, Love and Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, beer, dogs, movies

A Note of Thanks to My Readers

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I want to take a few minutes and thank all of you that follow Padre Steve’s World. I cannot tell you just how much it means to me that you take a measure of time to visit my little cyber world. If you are a regular reader or subscriber I thank you from the absolute bottom of the dark place that is my heart.

Some of you have been following me for a long time. This means that you must be pretty incredible people. After all it takes a lot of patience and forbearance to put up with me, just ask my wife.

In the past five years since the site launched I have have something like over four million visitors from I think close to 150 countries. That is pretty cool. So I ask you my friends and readers to keep the hits coming. After all I will need something to make sure that I can afford good beer after I retire from the Navy, whenever that might be.

Others of you may not have been following me for very long, In that case you may be either encouraged or disappointed. In a sense Padre Steve’s World is a lot like a variety show. I write about a lot of topics and I definitely am not a single subject or agenda kid of writer.

For those that have subscribed expecting an agenda of any kind, so what can I say? The website and what I write it is very much part of me, and part of who I am. Since some people like me, some people don’t and other people couldn’t give a shit what happens to me I figure that sentiments will be reflected in my readers and subscribers. At times I may appear to obsess on certain topics. Usually when that happens it reflects what is going on in my life.

Back in late January and early February many posts reflected thoughts on my return from Iraq six not very long years ago. Other times they may reflect issues about social justice, faith, history, baseball and even somewhat humorous and offbeat articles. Lately I have been writing a lot about the Gettysburg campaign.

Please know if you are not a Civil War history buff or student of military history and theory I do understand your plight. Such articles may bore you to tears, much like a lot of what I see online. So I respect and appreciate what you are going through. If you wonder why in the hell I am writing about Gettysburg right now, well it is because I am having to put a lot of study and work into it as part of my job teaching at a military staff college for senior officers. That being said, please know I will intersperse other topics in between these. Come about March 10th Gettysburg will fade away for a while. Until then the military history and Civil War types will love it, others I admit might be bored to shit.

Wow, that rhymed. Maybe I should take up poetry too, but I digress…

You can expect that I will continue to write on the subjects that I have created tabs for at the top of this page. As baseball season really heats up expect a lot more baseball posts, as well as commentary about my local AAA Minor League team the Norfolk Tides. Likewise you can expect a decent amount of social and political commentary from a center left progressive Christian perspective as well as writings on current events, movies, music, history, ethics, Star Trek, relationships, life, foreign policy, current world events and my dogs.

Of course I will continue to write about PTSD, TBI, Moral Injury and other issues that affect veterans. as well as my personal struggles with those issues as they intersect with faith and life.

I do hope that if you appreciate what I write that you will recommend the site to those you know. This might sound kind of pathetic but I would like to have at least 500 subscribers on the site and 1000 Twitter followers by 2015. Right now I am about halfway to both goals.

So anyway, have a great night. Please sent your friends and even your enemies my way. You can also follow me on Facebook, or if you want to be exposed to the titter-patter of musings that can be expressed in under 140 characters follow me on Twitter at @padresteve

Again have a great night. Thank you from the bottom of my sometimes cold and dark heart.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

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