Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What If. . .

Did you ever play the game called, "What if?"? You know the one -- you imagine a scenario and play it out to its natural conclusion. For example, many of us in America have already been playing the what if game: What if Congress passes a law demanding everyone in America should have health care and the government will pay for it? Now that's an interesting what if game, don't you think?

Now there are other what if games too. For instance, what if there is no money left in my retirement fund when I retire? What if the football team I follow makes a bad draft choice? What if my house doesn't sell? What if the Colorado Rockies has the only pitcher that can throw a no-hitter?

We can also play this game: what if we can't worship God? Now some of you might be thinking, here we go again, bringing out the ole' we-are-headed-down-the-Socialism-path again shtick. Well, I'm not really talking about the government taking away our right to worship God -- although that is always a possibility. Just ask the Russians, the Germans, or Christians in Africa. We are really only a dictator away from having our ability to openly worship God taken away.

No, what I am talking about is this: what if there is an earthquake and we are trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building? What if we are trapped in our car due to a bridge collapsing? What if we are on top of a roof with floodwaters rising around us? What if we are in a shelter because the mine caved in?

There may come a time when we need to quote Bible passages of comfort, sing an inspiring hymn, or turn to a prayer of hope and find we have no access to a Bible, a hymnal, or a devotion book. Then what will we do?

Men, I suggest we use our powers of memorization for more than sports stats, barbecue recipes, or even our kid's birthday dates. Yes, we have a powerful mind capable of holding millions of pieces of information. We can drive a route once and return years later and know just where to go; we can remember where every lure is on our tackle box; we can even sing our favorite song -- word for word.

I challenge you to memorize Bible passages, memorize hymns, memorize devotions, and memorize prayers. There will come a time when the words of Scripture we quote will inspire, calm, encourage, and liberate. There will be phrases of joy, peace, and hope in hymns and spiritual songs we recite. People will strain to hear us as we quote a devotion, or a prayer. Men, we are leaders! When we find ourselves with an opportunity to give words of comfort, peace, and hope -- let us do so with boldness!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reasonable Laws -- Reasonable Enforcement

How many mine safety regulations need to be violated before something gets done? In other words, how many laws do we need in order to prevent the recent tragedy befalling miners who lost their lives in West Virginia?

Would it be reasonable to assume that if ten safety violations occurred, corrective action should be taken to protect mine workers? If not ten, then how about 50? If not 50, then how about 500? If not 500, then how about 1,400? Yes, according to published reports, there were over 1,400 regulations violated and still the miners were allowed to work. How many workers had to die before the safety regulations were taken seriously?

The mine industry is not the only industry guilty of violating regulations and laws -- bankers, lawyers, stock investors, state governors, sports heroes, even national politicians -- routinely break laws and regulations for personal profit and gain. Each evening on the nightly news we hear about someone else breaking a law or regulation. Sometimes it's someone doing something that's not considered illegal but still puts people in harm's way. When that happens, the government rushes forward to pass legislation to protect us from this new threat. How high would this mountain of laws, regulations, and ordinances be if we stacked up all of the legislation that governs our behavior? But, of course, it doesn't stop there. Every day there are new laws, new regulations to enforce. Every legislative body seems to have only a two-item agenda: get re-elected and pass laws.

It is my opinion we have plenty of laws and more than enough regulations in our society. We may even have too many. It seems to me we also have laws and regulations that are under-enforced and laws that are over-enforced. It would be my opinion that all we really need are reasonable laws with reasonable enforcement. For example, if the laws say a mine must be in total compliance with all safety requirements and upon inspection that mine isn't -- well -- then it's pretty much a no-brainer: MINE CLOSED. Sorry for the inconvenience. It will reopen when all safety requirements have been met.

And what about those hamburger laws and regulations? From the time a young calf is born until the time that calf's meat is served to you as hamburger, there are upwards of 72,000 laws and regulations that must be enforced. Even now, the United States government is asking for more regulatory laws over the banking system, which would only add to the pile of rules and laws already affecting our quality of life!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Of Speed Traps and Fast Cars

We've all seen them -- multiple police cruisers lined up on the side of the road, each with flashing lights, each with an unhappy motorist parked in front. Yep, from the time of the first radar gun, law enforcement has employed the speed trap as a way to increase the safety of the motoring public by slowing down the average speed of traffic. A more cynical person than me -- alright, it's me -- might speculate that certain municipalities have a less-than-altruistic motive for speed traps: i.e. raising revenue. Many motorists paying fines is certainly a way to generate revenue.

Okay, guys, fess up. We like fast cars. Something in our blood demands us to red line the tachometer as we shift through the gears -- hitting zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds. The throaty roar of a hemi accelerating past us on the Interstate creates envy. Driving through Indy in the family sedan evokes daydreams of left-hand speed turns and brick straightaways. We are attracted to fast cars like a moth to the flame.

And therein is the problem. There are more cars on the road each day; municipalities are downsizing law enforcement to save funds, which creates more danger as drivers push down the accelerator. Our need for speed has been checked by the threat of the random speed stop, but no more. (Now we even have unmanned speed cameras.) So what to do?

Posted speed limit signs just might be the answer. (I know it's a radical idea.) How about we all make a pact that says we will travel at the posted speed (or no more than five miles over any posted speed limit sign)? Perhaps, this will balance the urge to burn out the carbon while maintaining what some engineers believe to be a safe speed for the highway. If we all travel at the same speed, accidents will be reduced as we will not have to slow down for slower drivers.

And as long as I am on a soapbox what about those jokers that speed up to cut off the waiting cars in a construction zone or bolt across three lanes to exit the Interstate? These tactics serve no one's best interests except the mechanic who's repairing dents and dings. Let's face it -- these guys cause accidents and are dangerous to everyone.

What do you think? Can you gimme a high five?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Earthquakes - upheavals -- and other disasters

It happened at night. I was sleeping peacefully on the fifth floor of the hotel. It took awhile for me to register the fact that I was experiencing an earthquake. The bed bounced, the window rattled, and the car alarm blared. Fortunately, it was a minor earth shake, strong enough to wake, but not strong enough to damage. I did experience the utterly helpless feeling of having the whole earth out of control -- not a good feeling. I could empathize with those families tossed around in Haiti, Chile, and now, Northern Mexico, as earthquakes rocked the very foundations of their buildings, bridges, and bodies. I can empathize. I cannot fully grasp the horror and despair they had as they watched buildings collapse on loved ones, tearing apart families, but I can empathize. However moved I feel about their situation, I can never fully understand their sorrow as life as they knew it was changed forever.

As I watched the reports about the Northern Mexico earthquake, I was alerted to the fact that Tiger Woods would give his "come back" news conference in Augusta. Television reporters promised we would hear the whole story about Woods and how his infidelities rocked the world of golf. A select group of reporters from around the world were allowed to ask him questions in hopes he would be candid and reveal the details of his sins. After the news conference one reporter commented, "I was looking forward to a steak dinner and all I got was a bit of fluff."

Woods' news conference happened the same day a coal mine explosion in West Virginia killed at least 25 miners. In one instant, families were torn apart, the life of a town forever changed. As long as people live in Montcoal, West Virginia, April 5, 2010, will be a day that marks disaster.

All this happened to the backdrop of the Butler Bulldogs losing to the Duke Blue Devils after a buzzer beater three-pointer rattled off the rim.

Each story was reported more passionately than the last -- each event portrayed as the most important news story of this decade. Then, I thought, how can that be? Tiger Woods is a sinful man. He messed up. But are his sins as newsworthy as an underdog basketball team almost upsetting the established giant? I think not.

But then neither story has the impact that a mine explosion or earthquake has: people died. Guys, what is happening in our world when sports stories are on an equal footing with earthquakes and mine explosions? What does it say about our priorities? What does it say about those who put out the news? Do they report the news or do they make the news? What does it say about what our society values?