Tag Archives: God

What Are You Worth?

I have said for a while that I believe that being an artist (whether it is an actor, singer, painter, etc.) is an incredibly dangerous profession because so much of your success is determined by whether or not people want you.  This isn’t like an inanimate object that you are producing on an assembly line.  You are the product.  The more successful you are the greater the risk of being greatly injured when the crowds of fans aren’t there anymore.  I believe that’s part of the reason why we see so much dysfunction in Hollywood.

But recently I started to re-frame my perspective on this idea.  Because I think that it exists in more basic ways and its implications are far-reaching.  What I mean is the idea that you have value based on what people can get from you.  There are so many people out there in the world that think that if they can please someone, they will feel better about themselves.  I know that in my own life I have had this notion in the back of my head at times.  But as I’ve gotten older I have tried to divorce myself of it, which has at times, caused me to drive into the ditch on the other side of the road which is denying people what they want because I simply do not want to give them that power.  Sounds a little twisted but I recently stumbled across a name that defines it.  It’s called “Cerebral Narcissism.”  I’m not exactly a narcissist, but I won’t get into that.  You can research it yourself.

But there is this idea that if I can just emotionally gratify someone, or if I can sexually gratify them then I will get the affirmation that I desire so much.  So what do we do?  We bend over backward.  We say yes when we know that we’re compromising ourselves and we should be saying no.  We think that if we can just get people to love me for whatever I am that I can put out this fire and finally have some contentment.  But unfortunately it doesn’t work.  Because it is the nature of desire to never be satisfied.

But we’re blind to it.  We don’t see it and so we get into relationships and associations with goals of being pleasing to someone else.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying we shouldn’t please people, it’s just not good to want to please people because our self-worth depends on it.  But even if we don’t acknowledge this principle in our heads we act upon it like it was pre-programmed in our very DNA.  We take it into our social settings and make judgments about people based on it.  Who do we want to be like?  We are envious and covetous of the lives of others.

Now I’m not saying that everyone is like that.  But I know many people who are.  I think this is why we as a society put so much stock into the things that celebrities say and do.  Think about it for a second.  Our favorite actor becomes an activist of some kind and we become micro-activists for the same cause.  Part of the reason why we listen to people about a variety of social issues is simply because of their celebrity status.  These people aren’t Plato’s Philosopher Kings.  They aren’t these mythical godlike creatures that possess all of this wisdom and hidden information.  They are mimes.  They are parakeets.  Yet we are so swayed by say.

I think the reason for this is because there is an algorithm or what have you, in our mind filter that sees their fame and their ability to please others and something just clicks inside of us that makes us want to believe them.  It makes us want to obey them because they are loved and if we can be like them then we’ll be loved and we’ll have value too.

But let me just say this.  Your value goes far beyond what you can do for others.  Your value comes from a God that created the entire universe and loves you more than you can ever know.  This is just my opinion but I think that if we could understand how much God loves us it would kill our earthly body.  I don’t think our poor old tickers could handle it.  But God loves you and you have value simply because He says you have value.  Because that part of your mind that is distinctly separate from your physical body comes directly from Him.  It’s a part of Him.  Don’t be a people pleaser anymore.  Love God with all of your heart.

Christian Arts Suck…..Just Kidding…..Sort of.

I hesitate to write blogs when I know that this blog will specifically offend people that I actually like and I don’t want to make them angry, upset, etc.  But usually when I write something like this it is because it is lodged in my brain and it will not leave me be.  So having said that, what I want to talk about the box that very sincere Christians have put themselves into and how it hurts the Christian culture as a whole.

I hate the word “secular”.  If you look up the definition of secular it means having no religious or spiritual basis.  Christians use this word as a way to denote the difference between their activities and the activities of those who are not involved in their Christian world.  I used to keep a sign taped to the wall above my computer and taped to my front door that said “It’s all spiritual”.  I did this because the truth of the matter is that whether something is done for God or not doesn’t make it less spiritual.  I’m not saying that it can’t be evil, but you can’t call something secular and act like someone farted in the room and then bolted.  But generally it is a word that people use to create a walls.  And while you’re free to create the walls if you like, you are doing yourself and those you want to help an incredible disservice.

What I am talking about in particular is in the arts of film and music.  I can’t bring myself to listen to Christian music because it sounds so neutered and bland like a bowl of orphanage gruel.  Christian movies to me are so boring and so poorly made that I can’t bare to watch them.  Now don’t get me wrong there are exceptions but the exceptions are just that…..exceptions.  Keep in mind that I love God, but if we’re talking about making a movie that is about God could we at least capture the essence of God that has a hint of the weight of his glory?  We fail to do that over and over.  Why?

The reason why we fail over and over again is because art imitates reality, and when we get in a Christian bubble we can often become removed from what it’s like to be real.  Our buzz words and lingo alienate people and so we end up clumped together with people that are like us, which is not necessarily bad because the bible says we’re supposed to fellowship and that lightness and darkness are not supposed to be yoked.  But you have to stop looking at people that don’t know God as the darkness.  They are lost but they are not this dirty disease that needs to be avoided so that they don’t contaminate your purity.  Be in the world but not of the world.  That tells me that we can spend time with unbelievers and collaborate with them on projects.  We can actually enjoy spending time with them.  When you restrict yourself to just working with, and spending time with, Christians you limit your ability to grow.  Don’t get me wrong there are tons of talented Christians but it’s like painting a picture and limiting yourself to a couple of colors.

I know that cinematic and musical tastes are subjective, but I want to watch something about God that does Him some kind of justice.

Can I be candid for just a moment without being excommunicated?  I get tired of saying the same thing over and over again.  You know…..”You’ve made me so happy”…or…”Thanks for saving me”…or the handful of themes that are in Christian music and film.  I am grateful for all of those things as well but as a human being I am subject to the same laws of the universe that everyone else is and I have diminishing marginal utility for saying and doing the same things over and over.  When I am in a worship service after a while I start getting a pounding migraine no matter how much I have felt God.  The point is that there is a multitude of different ingredients of being a human being other than what we have concocted as Christians.

Let me just give you an example of some of the stuff that is being put out by Christians right now.  This supposedly is supposed to be a ground breaking Christian movie.

It is loaded with inside jokes and Christian lingo/culture that makes it completely irrelevant.  It has a sickening amount of poor green screen usage.  The dialogue is clunky cheesy and at times unbelievably unbelievable.  This to me is a complete failure.  This isn’t a Christian movie to me.  This is a movie based on a religion I like to call churchianity or bibleanity.  I know that this all sounds harsh but I am just sick of seeing Christians produce garbage.  This is unacceptable to me.  Make a movie that really dives into the human condition and explores it.  How about a movie where a person doesn’t get saved?  Why is it that in every Christian movie that I’ve ever seen someone comes to renounce the error of their ways and gets saved.  Why can’t a Christian make a movie that involves the tragedy of never knowing God.  I want to see realistic movies.

I want music that sounds diverse.  When’s the last time you heard a Christian band that sounded like the eagles, Neil Young or blondie?  When’s the last time you heard a Christian group that sounded like Three Dog Night, CCR or Bob Dylan?  What about Heart, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, etc.?  To me it’s a result of an lack of diversification that is a result of intentionally cocooning ourselves so that we don’t get contaminated by those evil unsaved.

I have an incredibly talented friend who is an artist and was a talented writer.  He hasn’t written a book in a decade because he felt like anything he wrote had to be Christian based or he would anger God and felt condemned if he didn’t throw in Christian elements of dogma and talk about salvation.  He absolutely won’t write anymore.  This is an incredible shame to me because if you knew what I know, the world is missing out on some hard hitting insights into the very nature of existence.  But because of pressures from Churchianity we won’t get to see that.

Shame….For shame….

Demons? Aliens? Something else? My Experience With Sleep Paralysis.

This isn’t a normal blog for me.  This is a crazy out of this world blog that is full of what sounds like insanity, but it is insanity as I experience it.  So please keep that in mind if you continue to read.

Since I was a teenager I have dealt with a phenomenon commonly known as “Sleep Paralysis”.  Now if you don’t know what that it is please feel free to google it because there is an incredible amount of information on the subject but I will put it to you like this;  It is a terrifying experience.  You wake up in the middle of the night unable to move your body, talk, breathe and in cases like mine, open your eyes.  It feels like there is someone or something on top of you choking you.  Some people who’s eyes are open see a dark shadowy figure standing over top of them.  It is, in the moment, a very traumatizing experience.

The good news……I’m still trying to figure out what the good news is, but if it’s happened to you I want you to know that you’re not alone.  It does us good to know that there are others like us.  People might think we’re crazy and maybe we are, or at least I am, but it’s important to be able to talk about what we experience regardless of whether or not what we think is happening is really happening.  And also I have a few theories about this phenomenon that might bring you some bit of comfort.

Before I get into my theories let me just explain what happens when I have one of these episodes happen to me.  Almost every time that I can remember when this happens to me it is almost exclusively when I am having a nightmare.  In my dream I can always tell it is about to happen.  Let me give you an example that happened to me about 2 or 3 weeks ago….

I was dreaming that I was at my deceased grandparents house.  It is a house out in the rural areas of southern Ohio next to, what I was told when I was a child, was the second highest point in Ohio.  Their house sat on a hill, about halfway up the hill as a matter of fact.  About 50 yards above the house is a thick forest which then extends up about another 100 to 150 yards to the top.  It’s a very old house.  The house is so old that there is a hidden room that was used to store food, hearkening back to the days of the great depression when you had to actually hide food because there were people wanting to steal it.

Anyway, I was standing in the living room of this home.  There was a window at the north end of the living room and a window at the south end of the living room where the front door was also located to the right of the window.  In my dream it was dark, perhaps 2 or 3 in the morning.  I remember seeing my father lying on the old plaid foam chair that folded out into a bed.  I was standing looking at dad and I walked over to the corner of the room next to the front door which was diagonal to the my grandpa’s bedroom door.  Dad was asleep but I looked over at him and I said “They’re here and they want to come inside.”  It was then that suddenly I felt something grab me in my dream.  It grabbed me by the throat and lifted me off the ground, even though I could see nothing in the room with me in my dream.  I immediately woke up and I was blacking out.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had this feeling before, but there have been times that I have been awake and in totally unrelated incidents started to black out.  The peripherals of my vision start to go black and work their way to the center of my vision.  Well even though my bedroom was pitch dark, the feeling of blacking out was the same.  I woke up, with my eyes closed and knew that I was blacking out.  It felt like I was being killed.  I couldn’t speak.  The words gurgled in the base of my throat.  With one final “quietus” move I lunged myself straight up in bed.  I had awoken to gasp for air.  I was alive.

In every situation that I can remember I always know that they are there in my dreams.  I know that the dark figures that people see when they lie there paralyzed are there.  I can sense them even while I’m in a dream state.  I remember the first incidence I had when I was a young man.  I read a book called “Identifying and Breaking Curses” by John C. Eckhardt.  After I finished reading the book I went to bed.  I won’t get into the details of the dream I had sufficed to say that the dream ran completely contrary to what I wanted to be freed from.  When I awoke, face down in my pillow, something was on top of me.  I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, I fell back asleep.  I had 7 dreams afterward.  Each dream perverted and awful.

I always wake up.  Unable to talk, breathe, open my eyes or move….at least for a few seconds.  Until I make a frantic move forcing myself with every bit of strength I have.   It has happened more frequently as I’ve gotten older.

Now I want to give you my theory on what is happening.  I don’t think this is aliens or ghosts.  I have trouble believing in ghosts even though I will leave the door more open to that being true than whether or not an “alien” (in the sense that we understand them) could be responsible for this, even though I believe that is what the culprit of this event would want me to believe.  I personally believe this is a demonic attack.

Now there is something worth noting when it comes to these incidents.  The have happened to me exclusively at night.  I have napped thousands of times during the day during my life and this never happens during the day time.  Why?  Because I believe that it is tactical.  I have watched many movies about war and my father has told me many stories about his experiences in the Vietnam war.  A tactic of the  North Vietnamese was to attack at night.  They did this because they knew this was the weakest time for the American soldiers.  In the same way, my enemy knows that humans are most vulnerable when they sleep.

So what does this tell me?  This tells me that our enemy is at a disadvantage.  An army that is powerful doesn’t need to wait until the moment of greatest weakness to attack.  When an army is at a strategic disadvantage they are forced to use gorilla tactics at the time of greatest weakness to hope to secure victory.  Even though this is a shrewd strategy it tells you something about the capacity of your enemy.  It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be on your guard, but it should give you some encouragement to know that you are powerful enough to require this strategy .

Another thing that occurred to me is that this probably actually happens to almost everyone and not just a small percentage as some studies indicate.  People who have conducted studies on such matters believe that only about 8% of the population has these types of experiences.  But I believe that this isn’t actually limited to these people.  I believe that everyone is being attacked by these things but what happens is that you simply don’t wake up.  You keep having your nightmare until it is finished where as people who experience sleep paralysis wake up.  But why would they wake up?

This is total speculation on my part but I believe it has something to do with a heightened sense of reality.  This is going to sound insane, and I understand if you think it is, but I would be willing to bet a few dollars that if you polled people who suffered from sleep paralysis that a huge portion of them do not black out when they consume large amounts of alcohol.  The reason why I believe this is because I have, on a regular basis, consumed amounts of alcohol that people thought was just incredible.  And while I have gotten really drunk and woke up with terrible hangovers, I never black out.  I never forget anything.  I am able to recall events, 15, 20 shots into the night with ease.  I’m not proud of this but I believe that a person who’s brain is able to have a heightened sense of reality just has a hard time not being aware of things.

In my dreams I can feel their presence.  It doesn’t happen all the time, but I am aware of it, and in my heightened state of awareness I wake myself up.  I think that these things are tormenting almost everyone but they are unable to wake up or aren’t aware of it happening.  But there is hope and let me get to this.

I have had experience, and I have read that there is something that works for others to chase these things off.  That thing is Jesus.  I know this might sound crazy to some people, and believe me I am not upset that you think I’m nuts because I know how out there it sounds.  But I have cried out the name of Jesus in my dreams and wake up and it breaks the hold on me.  I have read the same thing for others, that when they wake up in this state and they see the shadow creatures that they say the name of Jesus in their head that the hold is broken and the shadows go away.

Anyway, I hope that this insane blog has helped someone out.  I really put myself out there by writing this because it can cost me credibility.  But if I can help anyone with my experience it is worth it.  If you need anymore information google “sleep paralysis” and you will find other experience that are similar to my own and maybe you can learn something from it.  Just have confidence in God and yourself and you can get past these attacks from our enemy.

What Being an American Means to Me.

Sometimes I feel like I am alone and I wonder if there are people out there like me.  What I mean is that I feel so disconnected from from our current cultural, political and philosophic ideas of what it means to be an American.  I was born here and yet I don’t always feel like I fit into the mold of what many people consider to be what it means to be an American.

Today you have to wave a flag or throw your support behind the democrats or the republicans.  You have to gush at the service of military members because that is what is considered socially acceptable.  To be an American you have to love our military which is being used by a corrupt and evil government and if you don’t then you are a borderline traitor…..You’re an ingrate.  And I never said anything about disrespecting or disliking.  I just said that to many people if you are not gushing at every opportunity to lift the police up like they are demi-gods or the military as though they are legendary folk heroes then you are looked at like you’re Judas.  But let me tell you what being an American means to me.  If there is any ounce of patriotism left in my bones it lies in these things.

To me being an American means that you don’t hesitate when you see someone in trouble to stop what you’re doing and see if there is anything you can do to help.  To me being an American means that you’re interested in working hard and playing harder.  It means that you enjoy spending time with other Americans and talking about sports, or cars, or art or television and by doing so you have become a part of their lives and you have made a bond with them over something that seems so silly.  Being an American means that you think about the sacrifices that our great grandfather’s, great grandfathers made.  You are proud of the good things we did and you sincerely regret the bad things we did.

To me being an American means that you are practical and you loan out trust like a loan from the bank and you’re willing to give people a chance but it also means that you protect yourselves and  your family from those who might do you harm.  It means that we protect those who can’t protect themselves.  We look out for the weak.  We do what we can to help people to get by but ask that they help themselves to get back up as well…..and when you’ve done that they are expected to extend their own hand to help the unfortunate.

Being an American to me means that we’re dreamers, almost to a fault.  We dream big and we try hard to make those dreams a reality.  But sometimes when we fail we don’t see that although we might have failed to reach for the stars we were much closer to touching them than when we started and we expanded our horizons and moved into a new place of understanding.  To me being an American means that we become team players to help others reach their goals.  If there is some way we can help them along the way, a real American helps them out, putting aside their own personal feelings and sacrificing some of their valuable time.

To me being an American has more to do with the principles of God than it does the principles of man.  God made us free to love Him and so we value freedom even if we aren’t happy with the way people choose to handle that freedom.  Much in the same way that the father of the prodigal son allowed his son to run off into debauchery because he valued his son’s freedom we too value the freedom of our family and our neighbors to live the lives they want to live without us sticking our noses in it.

These are some of the things that make me proud to be an American.

When You’re Angry Do You Still Love Me?

I learned some very valuable things today.  I got the opportunity to spend some time with my only son today.  It was a day that his Head Start preschool put on a county-wide celebration for all of the kids to play games, play in the bouncy houses, have fun with each other and have lunch.  It was packed with children and parents and was a really great time.

Aaron and I got to play Frisbee, do a “cake walk” (unsuccessfully I might add), play games, get some sunglasses and do a lot of awesome things.  I was able to get Aaron in the zone and he just thought he was as cool as the Fonz.

Aaron

I too got in on the action by jumping into a picture of Aaron and Ronald Mcdonald.

mcdonald

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning aside from the fact that I had to put on a sweater to keep from getting too chilly.  But we had a really great time for a dad and his boy to spend some time together and learn some things about each other.  For example, I learned that Aaron doesn’t really understand the concept of knock, knock jokes.  He would say knock, knock and I would reply who’s there?  And he would say something that you absolutely couldn’t play off of the word “who” and would laugh like crazy.

After Double A would make one of his crazy knock knock jokes he would stop and ask me; “Am I hilarious Dad?”  I told him that he’s the funniest guy I know and he would give me a big grin go on to his next knock, knock joke.  Trust and believe me when I say he’s got a million of them.  Because if his eyes can see it, it becomes part of his joke.

After we got home, I sat down here in my computer chair and made myself comfortable.  Aaron turned on a fan and then walked up to me and put his little hand on my arm and said “Dad, when you’re angry at me do you still love me?”  That hit me suddenly and unexpectedly because I have never considered that once in his little life that he wasn’t always sure that daddy loved him.

I never considered that, just like the knock, knock joke Aaron wasn’t able to always connect events together in his head in a way that made sense.  He just knew what he saw daddy do.  When he made a knock knock joke and daddy laughed it was funny.  To him it didn’t matter what he said, he just knew that daddy laughed and told him that he was a funny guy.  And just like when daddy’s mad at him about something, all he could see was that daddy was angry.  So in his mind he thought there were times that daddy might not love him.

But because my boy loves me so much, and because he wants me to love him so much he was compelled, out of the blue, to ask me just so that his mind could possibly be at ease.  He, like many of us, want and need to know if we’re loved.  The way my boy felt, is the same way I felt this morning after driving the kids to school, staring a beautiful blue Ohio sky.  Does God still love me even when he’s angry with me?

The voices in my head tried to fill me with fear and despair.  They told me that it could be too late for me.  But my mind had to be put at ease.  So I looked up at that bright blue sky and I said “Thank you God for giving me another beautiful day in this world”.  It was a statement, but in my heart it was a question because I was throwing it out there to see how the inner man would respond, and would God speak back to me.  It’s like being in a relationship with someone and you are wondering if they’re going to speak to you so you say something, anything, hoping that they will say anything back to you so that you can get some kind of status of how things are between you.

When my son asked me that question I almost cried because I don’t think he thought this thought on his own.  I feel like God was prompting him to ask me so that I could give him the answer that God wanted to give to me.

So, I picked my boy up and I sat him on my lap.  Then I picked him up almost like I would my 5 month old daughter and laid him back so he could look into my eyes.  I said “Daddy loves you all the time, even when he’s mad at you.  And usually when dad is mad at you it’s because he loves you knows and sees things that you don’t know and understand.  Your daddy wants what’s best for you and I want you to know that Daddy loves you no matter what, and there’s nothing in this world that can ever make your daddy stop loving you.”  He smiled at me and said “Okay.” as he hopped down to the floor and went to play a couple of video games.

Like, share, follow, re-blog.  Thanks for reading.

Beware of Those You Put in Authority

All of our social hierarchies require levels of authority to function.  We choose subordinates for a variety of reasons but you need to make sure that you do not take the task lightly.  You should always make very shrewd decisions based upon good or honorable rationale or else you may be heading for some real trouble.

There is a story in the bible that I really like that is a perfect example of this.  It’s in the book of first Samuel.  In this book we find the story of the priest Eli.  Now, it appears to Eli was a man who knew God.  He was able to perceive that when Samuel was a young boy that the voice he was hearing call out to him in the night was the voice of God and so he gave Samuel the right advice on how to respond.  It would seem to me that a man that didn’t know God wouldn’t be able to interpret that correctly so I give Eli credit for that.

But even though Eli knew God and was in a position of great authority (as he was the high priest in Israel) he had a problem.  That problem was that he allowed his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to run much of his day to day operations.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing but his sons were using their position of authority to lie, cheat, steal and defile the people that would come to the tabernacle to make sacrifices to atone for their sins.  They would force people to hand over meat offerings before they had been burned. They lied saying that these were the orders of the high priest.  They threatened the people who questioned their demands.  They were sleeping with women who were coming to the gates of the tabernacle.  Can you imagine how sick and disturbing this is?  A woman comes to the tabernacle to get her life right with God and these men were using her to fulfill their own perverted desires and simultaneously causing her to fall into more sin!

The worst part in my eyes to all of this is the fact that Eli, the high priest, had gotten word that these things were going on.  But he was too mentally weak to put a stop to it.  He allowed these things to continue and he allowed people that were working in the upper hierarchy of the “church” to abuse the people.  They were allowed to carry out their own fleshly agendas.

Now don’t think that because you’re not threatening people in your flock or using them for sexual pleasure that you aren’t guilty.  Please hear what I’m saying.  What if it is taking the opportunity to berate or make harsh comments to someone because you felt that they haven’t properly respected your position or your desires.  Sometimes it is the love of your position of authority that can lead you react out of pride even if you aren’t immediately aware of it.  We humans have a really slick ability to keep from being completely honest with ourselves.

One day the Israelite nation went to war with the Philistines.  After a particular day that they lost a battle, the high priests sons decided that they would get involved in turning the odds of the fight back in favor of Israel so they brought the ark of the covenant into battle with them.  For those of you who don’t know what the ark of the covenant was, it was an artifact that was supposed to be the meeting place where the spirit of God would descend from heaven and encompass the ark.

The sons of Eli took the ark without their father’s permission into battle and instead of turning the battle around they lost 7 and 1/2 times more men than they lost in the previous battle.  Not only that, the Philistines seized the ark of the covenant.  This meant that these insolent, nasty, lecherous, and just all around bad kids (who were put into positions of authority) caused the people that they were supposed to be leading to be disconnected from the presence of God.

Do you realize what an egregious offense that is?  That is one of the worst things you can do in this world is try to separate people from having a relationship with God.  But yet we have people in the modern church who are doing this all of the time with their laws, judgmental attitudes, religious pride, gossip, and secret despising of those that they believe would challenge their position.  Their sins help to facilitate an atmosphere that makes it difficult for people to hear God or feel God.

Remember what Jesus said to the scribes and pharisees?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”

Ultimately Eli’s sons were killed, the ark was lost, tens of thousands were killed, Eli broke his neck and died, his daughter in law died in child birth and to top it off the baby lived and was named “Ichabod” as an admission that God had left them.  All of this because Eli honored his sons above God.  Because he put people in a position of authority that shouldn’t have been there.  Eli’s motives seemed good on the outside.  He loved his sons.  He couldn’t bring himself to discipline them.  But sometimes our emotions keep us from doing the right things.

Beware of who you have serving under you in positions of authority because it could bring an incredible amount of destruction to your ministry, your work, your home life, friendships and social circles.

Please feel free to like, follow, re-blog, share or comment!  I really like hearing your opinions.  Thanks for reading!

Making Chillicothe a Better Place

I have been thinking about writing this blog for several weeks now but just now got the inspiration or motivation to do it.  I have heard people in the community I live in debate about how to make Chillicothe a competitive metropolitan area on par economically with places like Columbus, or Cinci.  This might be a lofty expectation but I don’t have a problem with aiming high because you become more successful by aiming high even if you don’t ultimately reach your goal.

Even though I wanted to discuss the subject I couldn’t really find what I considered good timing.  That was until tonight when I saw a post on Facebook that a friend commented on which had a map of the state and the county that we live in last year had a record number of heroin and prescription drug deaths and was one of the highest in the state; even higher than Cleveland, Columbus or Cinci.  This seemed like the right time to discuss the state of Chillicothe and what our aims should be, because I don’t like the idea of people being in such a pit of deprivation and depression.  It’s costing our neighbor’s their lives.

A little while back I was reading an article that was posted on the Chillicothe Gazette’s website about how we can turn Chillicothe into a place where our talented people don’t leave to chase higher paying jobs in cities like Columbus, Cinci, Cleveland, etc.  A lot of people had an opinion and some of them sounded really smart or noble, but deep down they were built upon pretty flawed logic.  (It felt like one guy was actually stumping for a political office).

One of the more popular responses, which was getting a lot of amens from people was the idea that we should clean up the city, heavily fine people who didn’t take care of their lawns or had any junk laying around, make the city a tax friendly place to businesses so that we could draw them away from Columbus and keep our young people who are getting college degrees down here so that we can use our local talent to become a more dynamic community.  This had people swinging from the chandeliers and shouting Amen and Hallelujah at the top of their lungs….metaphorically.

But the more that I thought about it the more this seemed rather silly to me.  The first thing we need to ask ourselves is “Do we need our local people finding local jobs?”  Not all people who get a job up in Columbus live up there.  I personally know many people that are perfectly fine with commuting back and forth so it’s not like the opportunity to make good money while living in Chillicothe is a pipe dream.

Another thing is that this person never considered that there are a multitude of other factors in play that cause clusters of highly skilled positions to exist in Columbus.  It’s centralized location in Ohio is a huge factor.  I know several people in the horse racing business that love the track up in Columbus because it is a pretty equal distance to travel to the other tracks in the state.  It’s location is also a major reason that the state capital moved from Chillicothe to Columbus.

But I’m sure if we had opportunities for people to get good paying, highly skilled jobs down here, we could get people to stick around.  But let’s ask ourselves a question; is cleaning up a few cluttered properties going to cause businesses to suddenly spring up here or leave other communities?  Realistically, no.  Real estate values can have a small part in population growth, but frankly it’s just not a realistic expectation that this move will get people into Chillicothe.  But what it would do is restrict people’s freedom and take money out of their pocket .

Would giving businesses that move to Chillicothe a tax break give them enough incentive to move to here?  Possibly, but how big of a tax break are we talking about.  Because the amount of taxes that they would save would have to be greater than other related costs of moving such as a change in customer base or distance from customers..  And when you consider whether or not profit margins increase or shrink due to added costs that a move would incur upon the business, would a measly city tax break be enough to entice them to come in and set up shop?  Maybe, but like I said it has to outweigh the logistical benefits of being in a place like Columbus and it has to be greater than the costs of relocation or building a business here.

These things sound good when you’re making a stump speech.  But to me if you want to increase the quality of living in Chillicothe enough that people don’t need to turn to drugs to feel good then you need to start at the root of the problem, and it ain’t jobs.  It’s the people in the community that are the problem.  It is the collective will of the people that is the problem.

The type and quality of city that you live in is a direct reflection of the people who live in it.  What I mean is that the reason we don’t have a more dynamic city is because as a community we haven’t displayed the kind of guts that it takes to make a great community.  You want people to stop killing themselves with drugs?  Have a community of people that are fiercely passionate about showing them how much they care about those people’s well-being.

We need a group of people that want to compete with Columbus, and chintzy ideas about throwing crumbs to a multi-million dollar business isn’t going to cut it.  I’m not saying that can’t be persuasive.  I’m just saying that it doesn’t fix the problem.  The problem is the people, because ultimately that’s all a city is.  It’s people.  It’s people who gather together and decide that they want to live among each other.

We need to start being more creative.  We need to stop being greedy.  We want all of these businesses to come in and save us.  Guess what?  There is plenty of money in this town.  We need more creative financing options.  We need people who aren’t afraid to lose everything.  We need citizens who are willing to give up money to get money.  We want businesses and entrepreneurs to come in and save us when we actually need to be the change that we’ve been waiting for.  We need to start up private financing groups.  We need to create our own skilled jobs.  We need to have a killer instinct and we need to have a group of winners step up and thirst for the opportunity to compete with surrounding communities.

Until we can stop being greedy cowards we can never help those who need help.  Jesus said “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”  and “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?”.  We’re so afraid of giving up our money that we can’t do what it takes to create jobs.  We need to be the change we’re looking for.  God has given us every tool and natural resource we need to make this place a southern Ohio Renaissance.  I would love this place to be like an Italian Riviera.  I would love for this to be a romantic city on a river.  It would be a community that would have far less emotional problems which drives people to try to escape the bleak prospects that many in this community feel.  They try to leave their perception of their current situation and leap into a word of mind altering highs and physical euphoria because feeling something good temporarily is better than living with no prospects.

Who will stand up?  Who will join hands with others and form a core group of people who’s sole mission is to change the hearts and minds of others so that we can look at this town one day and know that we created a little bit of paradise on earth.  Who would like to know that we helped our brothers and sisters out?  Who would like to please God by loving Him and loving others as much as, if not more than, we love ourselves?  The potential is there.  But it’s like trying to find an object in a pitch dark room.  It could be half a millimeter from your finger tips but it might as well be 10 miles away because you can’t see how close you are.  We’re very close, but we often give up because we can’t see it.  We are on the verge of an avalanche of success but we just need some people to get it started.