Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I came across a couple of quotes that struck me recently.  The first is a Chinese proverb that speaks to being broad-minded.  Like most people, I consider myself to be broad-minded.  But I am aware that I have blind spots and too often listen to opposing views with an attitude more toward argument that an opportunity to learn. 

Anyway, here is the proverb: 

“The broad-minded see the truth in different religions; the narrow-minded see only the differences."[1]

I grew up Catholic.  After Patty and I married, I began to worship in the Lutheran Church.  Yes, there are differences that a theologian might be able to explain so we could understand, but the prayers, the scripture and the basic worship scheme are very similar.  I choose to focus on the truth in both religions:  That Jesus is the Son of God and my Redeemer.  I’ll leave the rest to the philosophers and theologians.

The real trick, of course, is to wrap my mind around the fact (in my mind) that folks who are not Christians also have truths that will lead them to Heaven.  How is that possible?  I don’t know.  But my God is a loving God, who would not create humans for the sole purpose of condemning them just because they were not born into a Christian family.

Anyway, even if I’m wrong, what harm is there in showing respect and kindness?  Being angry, hurtful or rude will not “convert” them.  Jesus Himself never forced a person to accept His teachings.  He persistently invited them, leaving the choice to accept or reject in the listener.

Heavy stuff today…. 

I’ll close with a quote from another, non-Christian religious leader:

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.  Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.[2]  Dalai Lama

And I need to constantly check to be as certain as my incomplete mind can be that I am on the right road.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Lesson from Mr. Rogers

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!  How many of us, our children and grandchildren, watched – and maybe even made fun of – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood?

Fred Rogers was a remarkable man – a kind and respectful person.  If the world were made up of people like Mr. Rogers, there would not be a need for a blog addressing tolerance – and the lack thereof.[1]

In February of 1999, Fred Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. This is an excerpt from his speech (emphasis added):[2]

"Fame is a four-letter word; and like tape or zoom or face or pain or life or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it.

I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. It doesn't matter what our particular job, we are chosen to help meet the deeper needs of those who watch and listen--day and night!

The conductor of the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl grew up in a family that had little interest in music, but he often tells people he found his early inspiration from the fine musicians on television.

Last month a thirteen-year-old boy abducted an eight-year-old girl; and when people asked him why, he said he learned about it on TV. 'Something different to try,' he said. 'Life's cheap; what does it matter?'

Well, life isn't cheap. It's the greatest mystery of any millennium, and television needs to do all it can to broadcast that ... to show and tell what the good in life is all about.
But how do we make goodness attractive? By doing whatever we can do to bring courage to those whose lives move near our own--by treating our 'neighbor' at least as well as we treat ourselves and allowing that to inform everything that we produce.

Who in your life has been such a servant to you ... who has helped you love the good that grows within you? Let's just take ten seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life--those who have encouraged us to become who we are tonight--just ten seconds of silence.

[Ten seconds elapse.]

No matter where they are--either here or in heaven--imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now.

We all have only one life to live on earth. And through television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative 

We have only one life to live on earth,” and most of us are NOT in television.  But each one of us can make a difference in the lives of “the people in our neighborhood.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It's a Hard Life

There is a really good Irish contemporary music band based in the Twin Cities, The Wild Colonial Bhoys.  They have some great songs and some very thoughtful lyrics, including a cover one of my favorites composed by Nancy Griffith, It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go.[1]

The singer is in a cab in Belfast, during the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, when the driver points out a child on the corner.  “What chance has that kid got?” 

It’s a hard life, a hard life, it’s a very hard life.
            It’s a hard life wherever you go.
And if we poison our children with hatred
            Then a hard life is all that they’ll know.
There ain’t no place in Belfast for that kid to go.[2]

The second verse brings it back to America:

Cafeteria line in Chicago
            A fat man in front of me
Calling black men trash to his children
            But he’s the only trash here I see.

And there ain’t no place in Chicago for those kids to go.

Children learn what they live – that’s an old cliché, but a true one.  They live with hate and disrespect, they grow up with hate and disrespect.  As a prosecutor and a judge, I’ve handled dozens of child sex abuse cases.  More times than not, the offender was abused as a child.

Children who are poisoned with hate, hate.

I read of a child protection case in Canada where the government sought to remove the children from neo-Nazi parents.  While I can’t see that happening in our country or state, I find it really sad that good-intentioned child protection workers would have to even consider such a drastic action so that those children would not be poisoned. 

While we cannot and should not insert ourselves in the inner workings of a family, as long as the children are not in physical or emotional danger, we can and should model acceptable behavior.  If enough of us do, the unacceptable behavior is marginalized.

If we do not, what chance does that kid have?

There ain’t no place in Minnesota for that kid to go.