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Lack of Oxygen at 35,000 Feet

Posted Feb 20 2011 8:00am
I am nearly 38 years young…or old, depending on your perspective.  Through this time, I recall much of my life but admittedly, I don’t recall a lot of it, either.  High school years, the 10 years I was on active duty…much of it is gone…totally gone.  I truly do not remember much of the details.  I certainly don’t remember names but faces seem easy to recall.  Anyway, throughout my life thus far, it’s safe to say I’m known for a couple of things and thus, the subject of today’s blog.  The one thing I’m talking about today was prompted as I was on a 3hr flight from Phoenix to Charlotte and was catching up on some Dave Ramsey podcasts that I missed over the past week. During Thursday, February 17th’s show, he read an e-mail…allow me to paraphrase:

Q: “Dave, would you ever consider running for office?  I think you’d be good as an independent candidate.”

A: “I would not make a good politician. I have been around a couple of things political a few times and I am not cut from that cloth. My problem is that I don’t care what you think.  I don’t compromise.  If you’re wrong, you’re stupid.  That doesn’t work well in politics because you have to work with a lot of stupid people.”

OK, let me clear the air.  I don’t call people stupid.  That’s a “Dave” thing.  I do, however, call things people do “stupid” and do believe it is quite possible to put stupid on a sandwich and serve it at the buffet table!  I was stupid financially for nearly two decades but am determined not to repeat history.  Back to the Q&A: As you can see on the right side of my blog, I’m running for office myself.  Nothing like a state rep, commissioner, or El Presidente, but right in my home town on the school board. When I heard Dave read this question and give his honest, frank answer, it was pretty tough to not look in the mirror and ask myself that same question.  I think I share a lot of Dave’s characteristics but certainly not all. I have to admit…my answer would be very close to his.  Slightly modified, though.  “I don’t compromise” is a very black and white statement which I don’t share entirely.  I can and do compromise in a few areas of my life and in others, I absolutely do not. Since my mother is a regular reader of my blog, I’ll mention her here.  She has warned me countless times to pick my battles and be careful not to burn bridges.  I have heard her counsel, absorbed it, and admittedly not always followed it.  She knows that, too…no new news to her.  I don’t doubt her wisdom in this category because I think we are similar in some ways in this area of our lives.  Still, there are areas of my life where compromise is not an option and I am willing to suffer the consequences of taking the road less traveled if that’s what I believe is right and true.  Could this cause bumps in the road in my career(s)?  Absolutely.  Could it completely wipe out friendships? Not only maybe but a resounding yes…and it has.  I can name them without hesitation because it hurt when it happened and I didn’t take it lightly, but it was an unavoidable casualty of the path I chose.

I find that this “raw” characteristic of “me” is amplified in grand scale when passion is inserted into any part of my life.  If I am passionate about something, it’s like my “filter” is totally ripped off my cranium and all rules are off the table.  Can you relate??  I sure can.  Let me throw a few examples out there for you: 1) Our local school levy, 2) Service to my country, 3) Respect for the Flag, 4) Integrity and Honesty, 5) Taking the life of unborn children, 6) Hypocrisy, 7) False Rumors intended to deface and destroy me, and 8) My faith.  This list is not all-inclusive because I’m sure there are more.  These are things I am passionate about and easily, at the drop of a hat, can get…and do get fired up about.  If there was a scale for passion level from 0-100 on these topics, you’d find me pushing 101…needle ready to break.  Lately, people have given me little subtle warnings that go something like this: “If you’re running for office, you might want to …. (fill in the blank).”  “You mean ‘not be me’ or rip my spine out?” is what I think.  But let me ask you this: isn’t a raw approach to problems and issues what is needed today?  So much of society today has conformed to being spineless, not offending anyone, and trying to please all.  You can only do that so long in society, in my opinion.  Things lose their meaning, values are lost, and we become a plain, vanilla, lukewarm society standing for…wait for it…NOTHING.  One thing that exacerbates all of this is the strong sense of entitlement in our country vs. the “work hard for it” independent approach to life.  Another way to look at it: “It’s all about me” attitude vs. “It’s all about us and how we can work together to flourish” attitude.

I want to cite one recent example about standing up for what you believe in and the POSITIVE that came from it.  Two days ago on Thursday night was another one of our Levy Committee meetings.  In my town (for those of you unfamiliar with the issues), the community has voted down an operating levy three times in a row.  It is needed because of the great decrease in state funding and the federal government stripping away all funding.  A week ago, 17 teachers/counselors were notified they would lose their jobs if the levy doesn’t pass in May.  That’s 21% of the staff, by the way. Program cuts and non-certified staff cuts haven’t been announced yet.  There have been a few, very vocal citizens who have been demanding answers from the teachers’ union and have been unable to get them.  Well, they showed up on Thursday and did the non-politically-correct thing and stood up and demanded answers from the union president.  As topics changed through the meeting, they kept on coming back to it and didn’t back down until acceptable answers were given.  Today, there is progress…more progress than I’ve seen for as long as I can remember to address their concerns and many in the community. I also feel this energized a base of citizens to get involved in areas we’ve been begging the community for help on.  By the time everyone cleared out, we filled ALL the spots we needed filled.  Passion IS a good thing and something more people need to have…not privately behind closed doors, but out in public where it can make a difference and perhaps, like we saw at the meeting, become contagious and energize others when it matters most.

If you’re asking where I’m going with this today…your guess is as good as mine.  Today, I feel like I’m more in journal mode and just need to put some stuff out there and to say this: it is the way I am and I have no intention of changing myself to fit into someone’s mold or opinion of what they “think” I should be.  Ultimately, I am accountable to one person, THE ONE and ONLY.  I will stand before Him someday and will have to answer for my decisions and actions and truth be told, I often “self-check” myself about that very day.  That often directs my next move and whether I do or do not do something.  I really believe He has given me a voice for a reason and to not use it would be turning away from Him. That may be a stretch for some of you…I guess you just have to be me!

So be careful the next time you’re cruising at 35,000 feet in the friendly skies. It could’ve been the lack of oxygen that got my fingers typing or the incredible space I had to kick back and relax.  The next time you fly in an Airbus A321, ask for the exit row..specifically Row 22.  There’s about 5 feet of open space in front of you due to the large escape hatches.  It was especially nice since no one sat next to me.
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