Monthly Archives: February 2012

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…’; the great truth assailed by the little man from Pennsylvania, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum; John F. Kennedy’s historic address on the matter revisited.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lantby Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Religious fervor, religious metaphors, religious language, religious dispute, religious assertiveness, religious iconography, religious music all pulsate through every aspect of the Great Republic, its life and affairs. And that is why the Founding Fathers as their first order of business and to establish the tone and substance for all that followed, wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution. In sparse, incisive, resolute, unequivocal language they rendered their bold and well considered opinion thus:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

These sentiments were the more necessary because of the very vibrancy of religion and all of its manifestations in the Great Republic… for every religion, (because of its adamant belief that its way to God is The way to God), is messianic, exclusive, intolerant, and so potentially divisive, disruptive, even dangerous.

And no one knew this better than the great and thoughtful Founding Fathers who had as their matter of high and abiding significance the preservation of the many great things rendered by religion… whilst avoiding the imperial tendencies of all religions, to uplift themselves, even unto the seizure of the Great Republic, whilst denigrating the rest.

The great problem set, these same Founding Fathers commenced their high business of solving it. For make no mistake about it, the objective of the Founding Fathers was not the crippling control and suppression of religion so much as it was creating an atmosphere and civic establishment in which religions — all religions — might flourish to the glory and benefit of the Great Republic they were crafting and meant to have.

Thus I give you the occasional music for this article, and a better tune one could hardly have for this subject: “Give Me That Old-Time Religion.” It’s a traditional Gospel song dating from 1873. Charles David Tillman took this song, which may have originated as a black folk song, and by his publishing and enthusiasm for its adamant, uplifting message turned it into a staple of white congregations and so it has abided, a joyful manifestation of the Good News.

To get it, go now to any search engine. You’ll find many fine renditions of this song; I prefer the get-up-and-praise Him version belted out by Mahalia Jackson, Hallelujah… for if it was good enough for my father… good enough for my mother… then it’s good enough for me!

The background to the First Amendment.

To a person, the men who constituted the Founding Fathers, were men knowledgeable about religion, its history, uses, practices, and tendencies. As a result, they were haunted, almost to a person, by the damages religion could deliver, as well as its comforts. And they knew, none better, that left to its own devices religion could chill individual inquiry rather than encourage it, could become the harsh means of fettering the human mind, not advancing it. And what they wanted, to the point of obsession, was a land of liberty, not a land where uniformity of view was the order of the day, and was enforced by priests, pastors, and pontiffs; different in their views, the same in their devices for achieving them; working each to control with bell, book, and candle.

They, too, were aware that such a land, so unfettered in its thoughts, a paradise for every believer not just one, had never existed in the history of mankind where uniformity of outlook reigned as the desired objective. As a result the Founding Fathers, here as elsewhere, found themselves on the cutting-edge of this crucial matter of statecraft and belief…. and they gave the matter their utmost consideration… for no question exercised them more that what they could do to place the people of the new republic into a proper, sustained relationship with their common Creator.

They selected a solution Erastian, latitudinarian, tolerant.

Tolerance for all, hegemony and control for none. This became their guiding light , and they found vital sustenance for it amongst the works of Thomas Erastus, (1524-1583), a 16th century German physician and theologian. He held that the punishment of all offenses should be referred to the civil power and that holy communion was open to all. Thus should the church and its ministers be made subservient to the officials of the government, rather than these officials of the government made subservient to the church and its ministers.

They looked, too, to the cool reason of John Locke (1632-1704), who advocated, first and foremost, a tolerance which had, perhaps, never been seen before… a latitudinarian whose profound thoughts once glimpsed became the abiding vision of all sensible people, and the basis for civil peace, not internecine strife.

From such beginnings did the idea of religious tolerance grow, until at last it was written and proclaimed in the First Amendment, as the very essence of what we stood for as a Great Republic and who we wanted to be. Thus as the Founding Fathers surveyed it, they saw their work whole… and knew it to be a great resolution to a great problem, a great policy indeed for the Great Republic.

.. and from the moment of its inception it has done its work…

JFK, admirable in Houston.

Then John Fitzgerald Kennedy ran for president… and many people worried that as a Roman Catholic he would sabotage this verity, pledging instead fealty to the Bishop of Rome, rather than the Great Republic. And so, he went to Houston where before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association he presented himself and his views. The date was September 12, 1960… and it was perhaps his most admirable day on Earth; for on this day he stated with vehemence and resolution these words:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” And if, perhaps, he did not persuade all the reverend doctors present (for some were not to be persuaded) he did persuade the people of the Great Republic, who in their turn elected him…thus proving with their ballots the kind of inclusive, tolerant, pacific society they desired and affirmed.

It is this society, this vision, the most profound ever imagined that one little man has challenged, in a way at once crude, graphic and alarming.

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute.” Rick Santorum, (College of Saint Mary Magdalen, Warner, New Hampshire, October 2011 and reaffirmed thereafter).

“The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and visions of our country… to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up.”

This is the statement of a zealot, a demagogue, a radical… and thus a danger to the community, the comity, the country… and to the Great Republic itself.

The firewall called Michigan held… but barely.

The results are now counted in Michigan which Tuesday, February 28, 2012 held one of the most important presidential primaries ever, and by just the smallest of margins denied Santorum and his radical views, views that would roil the essential verities of the Great Republic and divide the people.

Is this the end of the war then? Alas, no. For this battle, which sensible citizens thought was settled centuries ago by the expansive vision of the Founding Fathers, is under attack by incendiaries like Santorum who mean to light their way to the God they arrogantly suppose they know with autos-da-fe, a ghastly light unto eternity.

That is why the rest of us must remain vigilant, for a right undefended is a right at risk… and this right has been too hard won to be threatened, much less eviscerated and destroyed, by a man like Santorum, for all that he fancies himself the agent of God and his Holy Will.

** What do you think? We invite your comments below.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life…’ Thoughts on turning 65 February 16, 2012 and my most memorable birthday.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I have always liked Charles Dickens. Not only was he a writer able to make words do his bidding, but he roused multitudes of people, people who after reading this master could never see the world as before… but only through his eyes. That is power indeed.

When I was a student living in London in the late ’60s, Charles Dickens’ house was right around the corner on Doughty Street; I went often, my mission clear: to see how the master of words lived his messy, turbulent, always productive life. That didn’t help; I had to wait until I lived my own to find out how it’s done….

But I resolved that when it came time for me, as an older man, looking back on my young and tender self, that I should incorporate the great beginning to “David Copperfield” (published 1850)… and so today I shall do so:

“Chapter 1. I am born.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.” And so, very similarly, it went for me… and, no doubt for you, too; for at that moment we are all similar… something we ought to remember later, when we cultivate and embrace divisiveness instead of diversity.

Seeking clues, finding clues.

There is no adventure so thrilling, so personally significant, so completely fulfilling as going on expedition to find yourself, for the discovery of you cannot help but be the most important journey you will take. For this epic journey — for your life must always be that — I have selected the lush 1969 score by Sir Malcolm Arnold to one of the several filmed versions of “David Copperfield”. You can find it in any search engine. Play it now before going on…

And so we begin…

I was born in Illinois February 16, 1947, making me a card-carrying Baby Boomer. It was the date of my parents’ first wedding anniversary; the date, too, when two of my paternal aunts gave birth to boys the same time. Family, fecundity, faith in the Great Republic and its devices were in the air.

It is fashionable, particularly in political circles, to minimize what one’s parents had, while enhancing the struggles they faced; the deprivations many and humiliating visited upon the hapless children… but this is not my story, even if I stretched the truth.

When I see my life in its whole, the words that come to mind are words of security, amplitude, family… words about the Great Republic, its especial place in the firmament… and of small town life and verities… where everyone knew you, almost from the first moment of conception. There my father built us a rambling ranch house graced by a sign that said “This is the house that Don built, 4906 Woodward Avenue”.

It was set in the midst of acres of violets whose very color I can never see without a lump in my throat….if in such circumstances we may have lacked this or that, we didn’t know and it never mattered… because we were blessed in so many ways… No one more so than I.

“You looked at me,” she said, “with interest and intelligence, as if you had come to tell me something and know me better.”

Life revealed one of my important traits right from the start. My mother was young and feared delivery and the burdens of maternity. She told me often in later years that she didn’t want children, didn’t like them… and was resentful when her early pregnancy was discovered. But then…then… a nurse placed me in her arms for the first time… and that changed everything.

She told me, always as if she had never told me before, I looked at her at that crucial moment of acknowledgement… not with fear, anxiety, trepidation or even uncertainty… but instead steadily, with empathy, as if I had come to cheer her and tell her all would be well.

Thus it came to be said that I had a special mission to humanity and the necessary skills and healing gifts. If so, I used them that day.


All mothers probably think their children prodigies, especially the first born… but my mother’s oft reiterated belief about what she saw on our first meeting put my feet upon the path I continue to tread this very day… a path that gave me what, age ten or so, I told them I wanted: to go to Harvard, to write books, to be a millionaire, all accomplished before thirty. This is how it happened…

Exemption, recognition

Boys in 1950’s Illinois needed to be good at sports, especially baseball, basketball or football, handy with cars, or at some practical subject like mathematics, a requirement for careers in engineering and the like. I was good at none of these… and yet it never mattered. I was, from the first day of school, the recognized school leader, master of words and thoughts which were always more adult than my schoolmates, who might so easily have derided… but never did, not least because I was always perceived as a friend, even confidante of my teachers, able to empathize and understand their situations; always, therefore a (young) colleague, never merely a pet. I used this influence for the good of my classmates, my instructors, the support staff… and myself. As such, I had the ear of all, for the benefit of all.

I learned what it took to assist authority and to achieve what I wanted… by helping such people get what they wanted. And this skill, once planted, has never deserted me… and as a result I have always been welcomed by the intelligent, the accomplished, the powerful, and all manner of people whose brains are fertile, whose visions are expansive, and for whom life is a grand thing, to be savored, improved, enhanced at every step and always shared, as I share mine with such people; now including you. In this way I lived a life enhanced by those good people and kind who have chosen to live it with me, as you perhaps will do, too.

My favorite birthday.

Have I then become the hero of my own life? Even now, it is too early to tell, though I remain resourceful and always hopeful. But I can resolutely tell you this: my favorite birthday is my actual birth day for from it everything else has come… and it all started with a look, two eyes just opened looking for the first time into two eyes anxious and frightened just a moment ago, now with a dawning realization that all will be well and with incipient happiness, too.

That is why, so equipped, I approach each new day as a pilgrim to this planet; ready to smile, to laugh, to use my talents, to enhance life… and above all else to love… for love explains all, enables all, enhances all, forgives all, understands all, embraces all… which is why, just 65, the best is yet to come… the last of life for which the first is made. So Browning enlightened my mother; so my mother enlightened me… and so I trust, on this special day, I have now enlightened you.

For this is the only acceptable kind of life… where, one by one, we reach out to each other… determined to engage… to touch… to venture upon the ocean of time with hope, humility, humanity. This is what I have learned in my first 65 years… and now it is my present to you… gratefully given… and I hope gratefully received and used for good… for this is the way if you, too, wish to become the hero of your own life, as I know you wish to do…

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

‘Don’t change a hair for me. Not if you care for me’. Your Extreme Valentine, 2012.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Men, it’s time for your annual Valentine’s Day update and reminder. For, as you will recall, Valentine’s Day (along with her dog Pookie’s birthday) is the most important event of her year. If you get it right (or as right as any man can get this minefield) you’re in like Flynn for another year; your right to nookie safe and secure for another 365 glorious days.


if you muff this, like you did last year and the year before that, you are in for another prolonged rough patch… and you know very well how rough that will be. To avoid this fate worse than death, extreme measures are required, and these extreme measures must be taken NOW! Men, have I got your full attention? Your Love Doctor is here for you… and OMG, you know you need it.

The Facts.

As we have discussed in prior years (and many of you have attended this critical training year after year, with, sad to say, spotty results) Valentine’s Day is a world-wide conspiracy. It first began as the brainchild of a highly paid consultant who was charged with the task of selling a particularly noxious chocolate with a vile, disgusting taste… That didn’t bother the consultant at all; it was the kind of challenge he lived for.

Even the fact that the chocolatier couldn’t pay him even a token amount up front didn’t bother our fearless consultant one iota. He still inked a contract that said he’d receive 25% of the gross on all new business stimulated by his best ideas. In other words, he would (in the best macho consultant tradition) forgo certain (albeit lower) payment in return for a whopping share of the gross… and so long as he could move the obnoxious chocolate that everybody loathed…. he’d be a big winner.

Frankly, the folks at the chocolate company (who pretty much loathed their product, too, and banned it from the company candy machine) thought they’d made the perfect deal. After all, they got the consultant to work for them for free… and gave away revenues that didn’t exist, would probably never exist. But before claiming a huge write-off and throwing the offending chocs in the garbage, they needed — so their accountant said — to gve it the Good Ol’ College Try.

His name was Valentine…

Now our audacious consultant sat down to business, and because he was a very clever fellow, the ideas flowed fast and furious. Thus after just a few days, the consultant was ready to see the CEO and present the all-important concept. As it turned out not only was this meeting important for the chocolate company; it was a crucial turning point in the relations of all men with their women… it thereby launched a movement creating millions of jobs and huge corporate profits worldwide.

The consultant’s name was Valentinos Kariotes… known as Val… and he is the man who set the high standards for Valentine’s Day…

Yes, it is because of this single man and his insight that the conjugal rights and ecstasies of millions of hapless guys are put at risk every single friggin’ year, to be reaffirmed by shelling out for chocolate, making ever richer the corporate smarty pants who dreamed up this baby.

Down to business.

Val, a straight talking, no nonsense, “let’s stick to business” kind of guy got right to the point. To sell the chocs everyone acknowledged as disgusting, they’d have to have a bigger idea, something huge, clever, larger than life…. here Val paused…. because he knew that his next words would not only sell chocolates nobody could abide, but get men by the millions to line up in front of the company’s packed stores to plunk down big bucks for a product they despised.

Before stating what would become his abiding claim to fame, Val paused, looked around the room, the better to get their attention and keep the memory of this supreme moment forever green in his mind. Then he said

“To sell chocolates you must get women to tell men that the purchase of these chocolates and the size of the box will be construed by every gal on earth as an indication of how ardently they are desired, loved, and wanted. In short, the target for their advertising campaign would not be the men who would actually buy the chocolates… but the women who would ‘motivate’ them to do so, in EVERY way at their command. Yes, in EVERY way.”

Val then unveiled his first ad, a classic soon destined for the Advertising Hall of Fame. It went like this:

“The size of the box”, it read, “indicates how much he loves you.”

The image showed two boxes of chocolate. The five-pound box had a big black X through it. The 20-pound box was circled in a bright, bright red heart with exclamation point.

Just awesome!

Val’s incredible idea at last gave women what they have always wanted, for thousands of years: a way to know, to measure, even weigh just how much their menfolk REALLY love them; the proof to be as easy to acquire as the simple purchase of chocolates.

“Brilliant” was the least of it.

In the lives of each of us, there come but a handful of moments of transcendence, moments of destiny, moments you are surpassingly glad to be alive. Our man Val knew such a moment this day… and as the astonished executives surged around him with their most ardent congratulations, they knew it, too. And immediately increased the box size and weight of their obnoxious product… for they knew at once that Val, their boy, was a genius. And so unanimously voted to create a day named for him — St. Valentine’s Day — a day worth billions to love capitalists worldwide. It was the least they could do

And so Val got filthy rich.

Every time a woman got a two-pound box of chocs from her beloved, she knew that the donor was dead meat, a cheap, two-timin’ low-life… who had then to go out and at once to get the 20 pound box… thereby passing the loved test… and making Val richer and richer still. Eureka!

Of course, other companies watched this phenomenon, this cornucopia of riches with the closest conceivable attention; Val ensured they did, for in due course, he made sweet deals with florists, pastry companies, every diamond purveyor in the land… always with the same awesome results.

Which is why you’ll live today like a cat on a hot tin roof, spending good money you don’t have to appease the little woman who controls your life. Be sure, too, to sing “My Funny Valentine” the right way, the feminist way, with the words about you, not her, for women have always hated this tune and its cock-eyed sentiment.

Thus, “my looks are laughable, unphotographable….” because that’s what she wants you to say, just after she’s looked at the size of the box.

(You’ll find the inimitable “My Funny Valentine”, released 1940, in any search engine; music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart. I prefer the original version — and the original words — by Frank Sinatra.)

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels February 1, 2012 signs first right-to-worklaw in over 10 years… the key is that it’s for a crucial state in the ‘rust belt’.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. When I was a little whippersnapper 60 years ago and more, my young father used to take me on his knee, his only very occasionally used guitar in hand and sing me a song that I hadn’t thought of in all these years. It’s the kind of childhood memory that comes at you when you’re least expecting, bittersweet, tugging at your heart. Now I just cannot get it out of my mind…

The song is the “Wabash Cannonball” originally written in 1882 as “The Great Rock Island Route”, a happy-go-lucky number credited to one J.A. Roff. In 1904 William Kindt rewrote the lyrics, changing the name of the train to the “Wabash Cannonball”.

It’s a pip of a tune with a chorus that makes you glad to be alive…

“Now listen to the jingle, and the rumble, and the roar, As she dashes thro’ the woodland, and speeds along the shore, See the mighty rushing engine, hear her merry bell ring out, As they speed along in safety, on the ‘Wabash Cannonball’.”

… named after the great American main street town of….. Wabash, Indiana, its claim to fame the fact that in 1880 it became the first electrically lighted city on Earth. It is the center of the center state of America, the state that has just tossed a stink bomb into the politics of the Great Republic with its brand-new right-to-work law.

Get into the spirit of this article by going to any search engine, finding one of the many excellent versions; (I prefer the one by Johnny Cash)…. then let ‘er rip…. because you’re riding the rails through the great American heartland, once so prosperous, the pride of the nation, now blighted in so many disheartening ways.

Born in 1947.

In the year of our Lord 1947, at least two significant things occurred: I was born… and the Congress of the Great Republic resoundingly overrode the adamant veto of President Harry S. Truman on a matter of resolute importance to unions. The result was the Taft-Hartley Act, a haymaker by the Republican Party that punched a gaping hole in the closed union shop, thereby providing the U.S. labor movement with an abiding grievance and red-meat for a million stump speeches and union halls. Here’s what Taft-Hartley did to the prevailing National Labor Relations Act.

NLRA dictated that all employees at unionized workplaces must be members of the union as a condition of employment. It turned employee coercion into union power… and as such became a critical component of what transformed the disorganized, scattered Democratic Party into the majority party that ruled the Great Republic under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman for 20 years, with still major influence today.

The politics of the matter went like this: To wed the millions of laboring people to his governing coalition, Roosevelt cut a series of deals with union leaders, including giving them the right of introducing the closed shop, wherein every worker — whatever their personal views and politics — was forced to join the union… and finance it with their dues.

This gave the unions raw political power and Democrats a leg-up for local, state, and federal elections where this muscle delivered victory after victory. But it also created an outraged, seething menace from people who didn’t like Roosevelt (and despised Truman)… patriots who vociferously demanded to know how such coercion, the stuff of Red revolution and godless Communism, could possibly be justified in the Land of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.

One side said that employee coercion, fueling union power, brought good jobs and the realization of the American dream… the other demanded liberty and unfettered freedom of choice. Both arguments had valid points… which made the resulting battle bloody, bitter, protracted and internecine, a bona fide civil war… which Indiana has now re-opened, to the outrage of the unions…

The matter was further complicated because of the unconcealed contempt the leaders of each side felt for their opponents, dictated by the unyielding, abiding, fathomless scorn and disdain of Senator Robert Taft (R-Ohio) (1889-1953) for President Truman. “To err is Truman,” Mrs. Taft said… The words Senator Taft used are unprintable. No quarter asked for, no quarter given by anyone, war to the death.

Taft-Hartley became the crucial weapon in that war.

Taft-Hartley outlawed the closed shop. The union shop rule, which required all new employees to join the union after a minimum period of time, is also illegal. As such, it is illegal for any employer to force an employee to join a union.

Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act goes further and authorizes individual states (but not local governments such as cities and counties) to outlaw union (as well as so-called agency) shops. Under the open shop rule, an employee cannot be compelled to join or pay the equivalent of dues to a union, nor can the employee be fired if he joins the union. In other words, the employee has the right to work, regardless of whether or not he is a member or financial contributor to such a union.

22 states ban “forced unionism”… 27 states and the District of Columbia do not.

Proponents of right-to-work laws, based on freedom of association, went to work with a will signing up one state after another. The states they persuaded reads like the playbook of the Republican Party, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. There the great roll call of right-to-work states stopped, until now… with the adhesion of Indiana.

Why did Indiana act now… and why does it matter?

The signature tune of the people they call Hoosiers is “Back Home Again In Indiana” (1917) … and there’s nothing more domestic, more American, more representative of the Great Republic, than these sane, decent, responsible folk. They are the very salt of the Earth, the bedrock of who we are and what we believe in. And these folks in recent years have watched as the land — and lifestyle they love — diminish, as one job after another ends, so many shipped overseas, all gone forever. And as the jobs left, their outrage and despair waxed.

To sustain the people, to maintain the land, there must be jobs… and so the people demanded jobs… seeing the bloated unions no longer as job providers but as menaces to their revival and reconstruction. Their representatives (in the persons of the majority Republican Party in the legislature) heard this plea… and essentially said by their actions that Indiana, to compete again and prosper again, must be prepared to face economic facts, no matter how unpleasant. Thus, unions must give back, divest, rethink… instead of merely waving placards, opposing this, blocking that, fulminating, never solving. For the issue here is and always will be the welfare of the people, not merely the welfare of the unions.

Thus the unions face the growing disbelief in towns like Wabash that they are not up to the job at hand, the job of making Indiana, a key industrial state, livable again. And so as the unions argue against their fate in Indiana, the “Wabash Cannonball” surges anew… to Ohio, Michigan, Illinois… an engine of change for a nation that needs it, the ghost of Senator Robert Taft riding in triumph.

“Oh, the Eastern states are dandy, so the Western people say Chicago, Rock Island, St. Louis by the way To the lakes of Minnesota where the rippling waters fall No changes to be taken on the Wabash Cannonball.” All aboard…

** We invite you to submit your comments below.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

Uncle Love. Thoughts on that much underutilized and insufficiently regardedperson, your Uncle. Immediate action required.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I am writing this article to launch an international movement in favor of uncles, good people, solid, loyal, lovable and (as in my case) quite good looking, too. But for all these substantial qualities we hold a place of insufficient importance… and after more than 20 years of being an uncle I am so irritated that I must now take stern remedial action. I know that all you uncles amongst my readers are already nodding your heads in full and sage agreement, and why not?

Consider Uncle Fester in the Addams Family, the satirical invention of Charles Addams. The family was featured in The New Yorker magazine (beginning in 1938), on television (from 1964 in different incarnations), films etc. One of its characters, the most important as far as I am concerned, is Uncle Fester. And I want to make it perfectly clear that informing you how his character was manhandled and disrespected makes me just livid with rage.

Originally Uncle Fester was Morticia’s uncle… Then this relationship was changed by fiat. Uncle Fester became Gomez’ older brother. Between the first fact and the second, producers decided that Uncle Fester had not seen his family for 25 years; and who can blame him with his relations caring so little about his proper genealogy, negligent, unconcerned whether it was right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate. See what I mean? This is standard treatment for uncles… and is why this article is so long overdue.

To put us in the right mood of chagrin, disappointment, irritation and smoldering rage, I have selected as the incidental music for this article, the theme song from the first Addams Family television series. You can find it in any search engine; go find and play it now. You will notice, and must keep strongly in mind, how little prominence Uncle Fester is given. Why Morticia’s smirk gets more, not to mention Gomez’ goofy look. Outrageous.

Mea culpa.

I wish to take this opportunity to apologize, yes, in disquieting specificity, to all my uncles, for I have had several. I acknowledge I hardly knew a single thing about any of them. This was, of course, due to my parents’ laxity; uncles were afterthoughts, if that… Thus we placed absolutely minimal value on uncles as a class as well as particular uncles. I feel that the only way I can get on to the important business of elevating the stature of each and every uncle in the land is by stark confession; then humbling myself, admitting that I not only knew nothing about each and every uncle, whether born into the various branches of my extensive family or married into it; and cared less.

In my defense, when I was a mere lad, I was not inventing social hierarchies; I was, however, observing them. Uncles in my family got absolutely minimum attention; they were seen infrequently, greeted with off hand, patently insincere exclamations, never thought of, opinions tolerated (but never asked or regarded); relations, true, but utterly insignificant in every way.

Now an uncle myself being so treated, I wish to apologize here and now to the uncles in my mother’s family (Uncle Royal, Uncle Bob, Uncle Donald) and the uncles in my father’s family (Uncle Joe, Uncle Dwight, Uncle Ray). Each and every one of them is under the daisies and beyond recall. It wasn’t entirely my fault, gents, but I learned to treat you with anything other than respect, civility, and as an esteemed family member in affectionate good standing. And if the truth be told, everyone in the Great Republic should probably confess as much here and now, so we can move beyond this notable and probably universal injustice. After all, if we do not make amends to the uncles ignored in their lives and immediately forgotten at death, how could we dare ask better treatment for ourselves?

I begin to be aware of what being an uncle is all about… and I don’t care for my part one little bit.

As far as I understand the avuncular protocols, this is who an uncle is, what he must do, and what he must avoid at all costs. Understanding these key facts is absolutely essential…

Uncles are members of various extended families by birth or marriage, but only important card-carrying members of three nuclear families: the one they were born into; the one they married into; and the one they conceived and built for their own spouse and children. You will immediately notice that uncles are not uncles in these situations; rather, they are son, son-in-law, and father. These are the most important positions… acknowledged, recognized, significant.

What then is an uncle’s role? You will need to think long and hard correctly to answer this pivotal question. Here is my response: an uncle’s job is to provide quips, jokes, and cheerful remarks at all family gatherings. His political, religious, and (ahem!) sexual views are disdained, unwelcome, to be ignored, cold-shouldered and dismissed without comment as an acute embarrassment to “the family.”

Next, uncles constitute a help squad to baby sit, expected to assist with household problems and tragedies, and at a moment’s notice, too, locate stray pets, and keep warring mates apart until sufficient cooling-off time has elapsed. This role is never discussed but simply expected.

Next, and most important, uncles must distribute largesse, and frequently too, on every and all occasions, including (but never limited to) birthdays, Christmas, christenings etc., etc. Giving “a few bucks” to the kiddos who have made him an uncle is not only recommended but taken for granted. The occasions on which such buck-giving is appropriate are endless… and such that we are expected to give. with nothing more than perfunctory thanks in return, if that. Uncles, you see, are to live and breath the well-known (but more honored in the breach) aphorism “It is better to give than to receive”… but must never, ever give more than parents or show these parents up as insufficiently donative. I know whereof I speak…

… one memorable Christmas I bought my darling Niece and Nephew Very Expensive Gifts. My sister immediately called me and Let Me Have It, the crime being I had shown her up to be the most perfect example of penny-pinching frugality ever seen. UnChristmaslike words were uttered on both sides… and recalled in detail to this very day.

“Understanding” required.

More, we are expected to “understand” our often distant and uncivil nieces and nephews, masters of 24 hour per day texting amongst their age cohorts, unable to find even a handful of such ardent words for us..

This was all borne home to me just the other day, when my “little” sister, now galloping towards Social Security, emailed me. My Nephew Kyle is applying to law school and is having some difficulty writing his personal statement. Per usual, he asked her to ask me to help him. My blazing response, “Have the pup call me himself.”

He didn’t. My sister said I’d “understand”. I don’t. I never will.

And that’s why we need to rethink the whole darn business of uncle-hood. A national holiday in our honor would be an admirable start. And a hug or two along the way, and even an occasional random token of affection, would be sublime. I hope we uncles won’t be asked to “understand” why it doesn’t happen… for we are made for more, much, much more, including dear Uncle Fester…. whose restive spirit and acute umbrage may now rest, the recognition of this problem being the first step towards its early resolution.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

Thoughts on assisted living, aging, Dad, and guilt.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Here is the most important four-letter word in the entire English language: home. It conjures up and is connected to every element of the well-lived life: spouse, family, peace, comfort, security. Nothing can match its importance, nothing can duplicate its significance. Nothing is more powerful than our memories of home and their enduring pull, always tugging at our heart strings. Home and its rhythms, its well remembered aspects, its secrets, its traditions, its confidences, its ways so well known and carefully maintained… these have a power over us that never fails, never pales, never wavers, never diminishes, and are always clear, fresh, joyful, unforgettable, bittersweet, haunting, the sweetest memories of our entire life.

This is an article on the moment that comes to each of us… when this home, our very special, irreplaceable place, must be given up because its proprietors can no longer maintain it, now needing particular care themselves. This is an article about a moment poignant, sad, dreadful, irrevocable. It is about the people who take this step first, our parents… then about their children, us, who will trod the difficult road, too, but not yet… and what they must do today, a day of emotional turmoil, distress, a day for which all preparation is inadequate.

For this article I have selected the song “My Old Kentucky Home” (1852) by America’s first great composer, Stephen Foster. It is one of the most wistful, longing songs of our country… and whenever one hears it one thinks, and tearful too, of one’s own home, now gone, far away, never to be replaced, always to be remembered, the more so as the destination you are now going to can never be a home like the one left behind. Go now to any search engine. Find and play it at once. It is the perfect accompaniment to this article.

The call.

The call we all fear, cannot bear thinking about, but must think about — comes the day our aging parents first consider assisted living, whether outwardly calm and willing, or fighting the hopeless battle to avoid this fate, roiled by turbulent emotions deep within, so clearly visible without.

Assisted living.

The words “assisted living” are two of the most frightening and disturbing in our language. It is easy to see why. Assisted living is mostly the province of the retired, the ill, the aging, geriatric survivors of better times. As such it is a venue to be put off and avoided whenever possible, for as long as possible; as much so as if each assisted living facility had posted at its front door this immemorial admonition from Dante’s “Inferno”: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

Such institutions are perceived as the final way station before cosmic extinction; the place one enters unhappy, angry, misunderstood, and which one leaves dead; the place for the irremediably old, those who are past it, marginal, unconsidered, beyond the care and concern of anyone other than those paid to care and be concerned; lonely people of the Eleanor Rigby variety.

All of life…

Assisted living, with its implied inadequacies and dependence, is always and often indignantly compared to the joy of independent living, where you do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, in just the way you want; in other words the kind of living each of us desires, insists upon, and does everything possible to maintain. Assisted living, of course, is widely perceived as the antithesis of the desired independent living.

But this is wrong.

ALL living is assisted living. For unless you are rabidly antisocial and determined to remain that way, alone, isolated, happy and contented in your aloneness, you are assisted — every single day — by people whose aim is to make you reasonably happy, reasonably content, and reasonably comfortable. Thus, in truth, when one moves from living regarded as independent to living regarded as assisted, one is evolving from one kind of care to another kind of care; one is tweaking circumstances the better to ensure the maximum continuation of your desired life style. One is not undergoing metamorphosis, but comparative and necessary improvement.

Sadly, most people undergoing this process are unable to see this, or at least to state it to guilt-ridden relatives who are thus distressed by the painful thought that Aunt Martha is being cast off rather than moved to an appropriate level of care, concern, and consideration. Most assisted living facilities these days resemble college campuses or resorts; they know the grief, anger, recriminations and distress which new residents bring and work hard to create an atmosphere that is at once attractive, even beautiful; livable, practical, and serene, factors which soothe the guilt of those recommending assisted living to those near and dear but are often dismissed as inadequate or unimportant by those being recommended into the facility.

Receiving the intelligence.

Twice in my life, so far, have I been a participant to greater or lesser degree, in conversations surrounding the movement of one near and beloved to assisted living. The first such conversations involved my mother; the second set involved my father. These conversations could hardly have been less similar — or more instructive about the principals involved and affected.

My mother, student of Dylan Thomas that she was, did not, nor could not, go gentle into this good night. She raged, raged against what she was sure was the dying of the light. Despite weakening health and the myriad of problems stemming therefrom my mother fought hard, strenuously, vociferously, painfully against the notion of “incarceration” in an assisted living facility, thereby branded as penal institution, not comfortable necessity. Her transition from living deemed independent to living deemed assisted was therefore protracted, painful, packed with imprecations, denigrations, accusations, maledictions which made Emile Zola’s famous declaration “J’accuse” look sniveling.

My father handled the matter entirely different… and I suspect this was partly because he will have with him his wife Ellie; to be alone at life’s end is painful; to be partnered with a loved mate lessons the pain while increasing the means to combat and to live with it.

Sad, wistful, practical, accepting.

When my father called yesterday to inform me that he and Ellie had made arrangements to share their dwindling, most precious days together in assisted living, I felt a lump in my throat. He extolled the grounds, their private apartment, the food, the friendly residents… but whether he believed all this as stated or was just trying out what would become the stock reason or their move, I cannot say… for I was reflecting on a few words that he had said.

Entering the dining room where they would find their daily meals, he was surprised to find it peopled with the old, feeble, and infirm. Could this be he at 86, Ellie at 87? Or had some mistake occurred? She, knowing how difficult it had to be for him to transform his independent life to one “assisted”, took his hand and reassured him that no mistake was made; they were in the right place, which he would soon know, if he did not know already. And thus these proud, fiercely independent souls, more used to assisting others than being assisted, move into the next phase of their lives, together, facts faced, practical decisions made, gently, calmly, with love and care. And I admired my father so, not merely as son to father, but as man to man. For he faced the difficult, the fearful, the unpalatable, with grace, quietude, reserve, with good judgement, good humor, and a good wife, well stocked and ready for the journey ahead… which they will travel similarly and with kindness, above all with kindless and the help of those glad to assist them, and with kindness too.

** We invite you to post your comments to this article.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer