What is Seen Cannot Be Unseen

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There is a funny little poster going around Facebook that shows a cat with its eyes bugged out in apparent terror as a woman shopper walks behind him. She is in her sixties and hideous to behold, her hair fresh from a wind tunnel, no make-up and a tube top pulled almost down to her waist but still covering her dramatically pendulous breasts. The caption reads: WHAT IS SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN. At first glance you can sympathize with the poor feline as you fight the urge to scoop your eyes out with a spoon.

I wish I could unsee the image of that murderer in Great Britain (whose name I will not mention because it is a shame to the human race), his hands bloodied, holding a meat cleaver and butcher knife as he gestured and bloviated in front of the camera. I wish I could unsee the crowd behind him standing around taking pictures, or the woman who walked on by as casually as if she were passing a man talking about the price of tomatoes. I wish I could unsee the sight of Lee Rigby crumpled on the street, ringed in blood and obviously gone from this world. I wish I could unsee the veiled excitement in reporters’ voices and eyes as they pummel the event into the brains of all who care to watch. I wish I could unsee protesters hurling insults at the English Defence League, calling them Nazis and hooligans for gathering and marching against the spread of radical Islam. I wish I could unsee a great many things, to be honest with you.

The world has never been both so small and so large. Small in that the proliferation of news organizations around the world, combined with satellite technology and a record number of people with access to televisions and radios, makes for reporting breaking news anywhere as easy as walking next door and talking to your neighbor. Large in that there is so much information being shoved at us every second of the day that today’s events are swallowed up by tomorrow’s, discarded like used toilet paper. Anyone attempting to keep a subject in the always shifting spotlight is accused of ‘beating a dead horse’ or being behind the times.  You’ve got to be able to go with the flow if you ever hope of keeping up with the happenings around the globe.

Our enemy understands that we easily forget the atrocities of yesterday, and they are more than happy to try and outdo themselves in order to stay on the front page. A famous broadcasting phrase is “If it bleeds, it leads”. The animalistic killers who call themselves good Muslims know this all too well. So many infidels, so few seconds of attention from mainstream media.  Let me try and hammer something into your over-saturated brain: we are at WAR, and our enemy is winning with patience, determination, religious fervor and a complete disregard for human life.  If you are under thirty years old, there is a great chance that the enemy will destroy someone close to you. They are multiplying exponentially, they are using intimidation and threats to prevent the influential from opposing them, and they are taking advantage of the growing spread of apathy and political correctness to both further their agenda (global dominance and subjugation of both believers and non-believers) and to be able to strike with boldness and impunity whenever they want.  Lee Rigby is one in an extremely long list of victims in the war on terror (terror meaning unfettered jihad against us all), and before the dirt settles in his grave the world moves on and forgets.  We are going to forget our way into defeat and death, reader, unless we light a fire of righteousness, freedom and resolve, and use that fire to combat the murderous and barbaric agents of evil.

Of course, I need to eat my earlier words if I believe what I write. I do NOT want to unsee the images burned into my soul, and neither should you. I do NOT want to unsee the daily horror being broadcast constantly around the world. I do NOT want to push aside or forget the atrocities of yesterday. I vow to you, dear reader, that I WILL NOT stop sounding the battle cry. We are at war, and unless we come to grips with this very real threat to our existence, we will lose. Yes, what is seen cannot be unseen. Thank God for that.

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Today, Remember

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You. Yes, you, with your steady pulse, with your breath, with your mind in neutral, placidly reading these words. This must mean you’re still alive. Nice, isn’t it? Most of us take living for granted, and why not? We get up and tackle the day like we have since we were born. It gets old and weary after awhile, at least sometimes, right? “I’ll be glad when this day is finally done,” and “This is the longest day of my life,” and “another day, another dollar.” Man, some days should never have happened, but they did, so we just have to live through it and move on.

Now, round about this time I could turn this article into a reminder of all the men and women who lost their lives defending our freedom. It is Memorial Day, isn’t it? Time to reflect on those brave few who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It’s the one day a year when everyone is suppose to acknowledge the warriors who confronted the forces of evil head on and died as a result of it.  The President of the United States goes to Arlington Cemetery, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and says a few words in honor of all those deceased soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Then the crowd disperses, we turn off our televisions and go outside to barbeque in the warm May sun and celebrate the beginning of summer. Good for another year.  What a sad day, but not too late to turn it around. Here’s a bun, here’s a Frisbee, light up these fireworks, let freedom ring.

Truth is, my friend, there are more than just American soldiers dying for freedom. Do you know who Lee Rigby was? His widow can tell you. He was brutally murdered in the street just last week in Woolwich, Great Britain. You know, the one whose blood was drying on the killer’s hands as the monster made his little speech in front of a camera. While you’re watching CNN broadcast Obama shuffling forward with a huge wreath, think about Lee, too. I know, he’s not American, but hear me out. There’s a war going on all over the world, with a vicious enemy that openly wants to kill us all. They are in your city, fermenting their hate, biding their time, waiting for just the right moment to strike so as to inflict as much carnage as possible. 

This is a war that of ideology, and it is bigger than all the armies of the world. Those of us who don’t share their twisted belief, their warped interpretation of scripture, their Caliphate mentality, their Sharia law, we are all targets, every last one of us, and that makes us all soldiers whether we like it or not. Did you know that over three hundred people have been killed by al-Qaeda in just the past two weeks in Iraq?  Kabul, Bangaldesh, Paris, Beirut – everywhere, reader! To the families of this widespread violence, Memorial Day is every day.  The surviving husbands, wives, children and parents will tell you their loved one was a true soldier of decency and compassion who wanted little more than to make it through each day.  Today I remember the lives stolen by those who wish only to destroy us.

A newspaper article today said that Memorial Day is evolving. Let me help it with this proposition. Let Memorial Day belong to the world. Let it stand for all of us whose lives were snuffed out by the agents of evil. Remember the words of Ephesians 6:12 – “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It is time we raise our heads and look around at all the poor souls who died for nothing more than the chance to live. It is time we gave this day of remembrance to every nation, to every citizen of this planet, to every voice that cries out in grief. Let us make Memorial Day a global event. And then, perhaps someday we can take a moment out of every day to pause and honor those who have given the ultimate price for decency and freedom. I guarantee you it will transform your day into one of gratitude; it will strengthen you against the coming battles.

ENOUGH!

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I watched in horror as the news channel aired the video clip of two men hacking another man to death in the streets of suburban London. As a crowd began to form one of the men walked up to someone taping them and began giving his justification for committing the atrocity, saying ‘you people will never be safe’ and ‘you and your children are next’. The monster ranted as he held a meat cleaver in one of his bloodied hands. To add to the surreal and nightmarish scene a woman walked casually by the man on her way home from a day of shopping as if nothing was wrong.

The images that splashed across my TV screen made me sick. I’m still sick. But I’m more ANGRY than sick. That scarf-wearing shopper who strolled right by the murderer, that oblivious woman who saw the carnage but didn’t hesitate to amble through, that very act of turning a blind eye and pretending nothing was wrong is indicative of the majority of us, and this outrages me so much that I want to scream and pound my fists into something. This is going on all around us – hatred-fueled murder and mayhem in the name of God – and we watch it as if nothing is wrong!  To follow Howard Beale’s advice in the film Network: I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!

I’ve got a copy of the Qur’an, and in Surah 5, verse 32 it says “… if anyone slays a human being – unless it be in punishment for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind…” There are other references to the subject of murder, but this one is as close as I can get to outright condemnation of homicide. If you are a Muslim and know of any other verse in the Qur’an that unequivocally denounces murder, please bring it to my attention.  As far as I know, however, the holy scripture of Islam does not outright say “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:17) There is always some caveat or stipulation which can be warped and twisted. What’s even worse than morphing scripture to justify murder is that the rest of Islam is just like that woman walking by, aware of the horror but unwilling to act against it.  The typical response for Muslims and non-Muslims to do is to say “Islam is a peace loving religion and does not condone such violence.”  Really? Those murderers claim to be Muslims, so they must go to some mosque, they must be getting their brains infected with hatred from some Imam, they must be a brother, a son, a husband, a father – SOMEONE has to be aware of the evil pouring out of these radical killers and what fount of poison they’re drinking from. I’m pointing my finger at Islam and I’m not afraid. Clean up your house!

Jesus said in Matthew 5: 21-22: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”  If you think God is telling you to hate, if you think your spiritual leader is right by shoveling rage and violence into you, if you think you are justified to murder innocent human beings, I’ve got news for you: There will be an accounting.  If you know someone who is like this, if you live with or near someone who talks about murdering infidels in the name of Allah, if you stand by and watch them slaughter another human being, if you walk on by, I’ve got news for you: There will be an accounting.

I’m not going to let some hate-filled monster try to harm my family and friends, or any other human for that matter. If I’m around to witness that level of evil I will use every means at my disposal to insure they meet their maker, even if I have to beat them to death with my laptop or choke the life out of their hateful body with my bare hands.  Radical Islamists, if you come after my family, friends or neighbors, I will be glad to help you get to paradise.  I am not going to take it anymore.

This is the moment when we as decent people need to draw a line in the sand and scream “NO MORE!” If you don’t want to get involved, do the rest of us a favor and stay in your house. Your non-action and your silence condones the spread of hatred. Those of you who are fed up, who are as mad as hell as I am, here’s what you do: Stand up against evil! Step in and do your best to stop hate, whether it manifests in the form of vitriol or violence! Speak out against intolerance, prejudice and hatred regardless of its source. Don’t let yourself fall into the stupor of non-action, like that woman who just walked on by or the others who stood there taking pictures. Be the one who has the courage to confront evil despite the danger!

It is common for people to say “Oh well, that’s fine and good to believe such things, but we never know what we’ll do until we find ourselves in that situation.” If you’re not sure what you’d do, then prepare yourself to act in that moment! Jesus said “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) We all have the instinct to try and save our own life when in danger. It’s called self-preservation. Jesus also said “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39) Who is your neighbor? We all are! Don’t be someone in the crowd taking pictures or just walking on by. I promise you that even if ten percent of us act, evil will not prevail. Be ready! Be one of the ten percent! Be mad enough to do something!

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My Children

It would be nice to have all my kids together with me while I’m alive, and I don’t mean on my deathbed or anything like that. The chances of it happening are slim to none, though, but a man can hope, can’t he? I’ve got a son that still lives with me (ladies – rich ladies especially – he’s available. The only baggage he carries is his PS3), another son that lives across the street, a son in Pell City, Alabama (for now – that boy moves more than I did at his age. I think he got the wanderlust gene), another son somewhere in or around Atlanta, a son that lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a daughter, also in Kalamazoo, who lives upstairs from her brother, and a daughter in Erie, Pennsylvania. 

I do have an adopted daughter in South Bend, Indiana, too, that I need to get caught up on. Her name is Lanette Wilburn. I dated her mom twenty years ago and we took to each other like peanut butter and jam. She had (and still has) the most wonderful constellation of freckles on her face, and whenever someone asked her where she got them she’d smile brightly and say “A yard sale!” I wish I knew what yard sale I got my liver spots from – I’d send them back. Here’s a photo of Lanette (she still goes by ‘babygirl’ to me) when she was a firecracker:

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My oldest son, William Joseph Harding, was born January 11, 1978 (great music back then, by the way) when I was married to his mom Kathy. When he was a year old he caught pneumonia and was hospitalized. His mom slept on a cot next to his bed at night. One night I agreed to relieve her but decided to stop by a friend’s house and party a little before going to the hospital. Big mistake. By the time I arrived in Joey’s room I was hammered, and decided I would throw up in the toilet before settling down. Hospital bathrooms have excellent acoustics, by the way. Kathy heard my vomiting and it made her sick to her stomach, so when I emerged from the bathroom and face-planted myself on the cot, she took my place and did her own little upchuck solo. A couple of hours into my drunken sleep I was awakened by a nurse who said she had heard this horrible retching coming from the bathroom and found my wife with her head in the toilet, so they rushed her to the ER. That’s the last time I ever drank heavily before going to the hospital. I think. Joey grew up to be a full-fledged iconic symbol of what a great man should be and is with a strong-willed, gorgeous, loving woman Gracie, living in Pell City. He has blessed the world with eight children, most recently a beautiful little girl Laie born May 1st, this year. Joey and I see each other often, but not as often as I’d like. He’s my favorite oldest son, by the way. Here’s a picture of Joey when he was a human cannonball:

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My next son, John Amos Harding, was born on May 8th, 1980, also with my first wife Kathy. I could tell right away he was exceptionally smart by the look he gave me from his crib, you know, that look that says ‘I’ve already figured out the mysteries of the universe. Have you?’ Unfortunately, his mom and I split up less than a year after he was born and I moved to Michigan, so I didn’t get to see much of him. His Uncle Jack raised him to be an outstanding man, though, and for that I am forever grateful. John came and stayed by my side when I had my near-fatal heart attack in 2010. His visit rates as one of the top three moments of my life.  He lives around Atlanta with his beautiful wife Amanda and his son Riley. I hope to see them someday. Here’s a picture of John when he was a pre-teen heartthrob:

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I met my second wife, Bera, in 1981, but before I fell in love with her I was head over heels with her son James, who was about a year old then (he was born March 21st, 1980 – the Spring Equinox). He and his mother lived next door to me in Decatur, Alabama, and I remember the first time I saw him he was up to his eyeballs in Q-tips, having snatched a box of them off the table and dispensed them throughout the apartment. I knew he was my kind of guy. I called him Jamie for years until he grew up and said he wanted to be known as James.  It does sound more grown up. He rode with me one night when I was a cab driver, and we picked up a half dozen drunk women having just come from a bachelorette party. Jamie was maybe twelve, and as cute as two speckled puppies, so the woman naturally fawned over him. Halfway to wherever we were going the song “Jamie’s Crying” came on and they turned the volume up and serenaded him at the top of their lungs. I was so jealous. Jamie lives in Kalamazoo with his fantastic and mystical wife Heather and two rambunctious children. Here’s an early photo of Jamie – er, James:

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Bera and I had a daughter, Sandra, on May 7, 1982. She was the first of my children I actually got to see being born. I thought there was something wrong with her when I saw her alien-shaped, birthing-squeezed head (it eventually resembled a human’s within the week.) and the multi-colored umbilical cord. I later found out that was all normal. Wow. That was around the time I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, and for some ungodly reason I thought it would be cool to turn Sandy into an elf by reshaping the tips of her ears while she was still a newborn. By the time her mother found out I had already made one of them pointy, but she refused to let me balance it out. Now Sandra’s a half-elf. She was definitely a Daddy’s girl. I was stationed at Fort Detrick, Maryland in 1985 and had just gone to work one morning when Bera called frantically wanting me back home. I thought Jamie or Sandy had been impaled by a rogue rhinoceros the way their mom was carrying on. When I got there I saw that Sandy with her face covered in blood. She had seen me shave and thought it was a good idea, except she forgot the shaving cream and nicked her face in about a dozen places. She now lives in an apartment just above her brother James. Here’s a photo of Sandra when she was a true half-elf Princess:

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On July 30th, 1986 Bera and I had a son, Thomas. As a little kid he hated loud music, and loud noises for that matter. I took him to an air show once and made sure he was close enough to see the plane-eating, fire-breathing dragon robot, but that turned out to be a bad idea.  He especially didn’t like to listen to Black Sabbath, either. I worried he might end up being a classical music lover, but he fooled me, because he digs hard rock now.  Someday we have to jump into the same mosh pit, just for fun. He lives across the street from me, so we get to see each other on a regular basis. I do wish he’d turn that damned music down, though. Here is a picture of Thomas when he was young:

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Time went by as I matured much too slowly, because I eventually married two more times before getting it right. All my wives deserve a medal for heroism and longsuffering. When I met and married my fourth wife, Debi, she had a daughter and son. Tianna (born April 4th, 1980) was 12 years old when I came into her life, and she let me know quickly that she was a mature, independent, intelligent young lady. She was right. Tia was the first child I ever had the pleasure of being witness to puberty. Robert Frost once wrote that fog comes in on little cat feet. Puberty comes in on steel-toe, spiked Army boots doing the Lord of the Dance. Tia and I had a lot of great times together, though. I taught her to drive, but all her passengers wish I had been more conservative. Hey, she keeps the shiny side up and the greasy side down. What more do you need? Tia has always been really protective of her mom and is currently not happy with me, but we’ll get through it because family is thicker than blood. Tia lives in Erie, PA, is married to a fantastic man Dan and is raising 4 kids quite well. Here is a photograph of Tia when she was a little cutie-pie:

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Adam was 8 years old when I married his mom Debi (he was born November 23, 1982). If you look in the dictionary under ‘sparkplug’ you’ll see his picture. Adam has always taken life by the horns and used them as plows. From the time he wakes up he is non-stop until he completely runs out of steam. As a child, he never ran out of steam. He has always been outgoing and boisterous, and of all my kids Adam has adopted the most of my sick and twisted sense of humor. Score one for nurture over nature.  Once Adam and I went to a temp agency and signed up for a single day working on a roof. After we had busted our butts all day in the wind and cold we were starved. We picked up our pay and had just enough to eat at Burger King across the street. We still laugh at that one. Here’s a picture of Adam and his first girlfriend:

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If I dwell on the type of man I was back then I would probably end up wanting to hide under the rock I came out of. Fortunately there is always hope for us all through God’s grace, God’s Son Jesus, and the Light of His Holy Spirit, and I am grateful beyond measure to have finally found redemption and forgiveness from my Lord. I shall spend the rest of this life praying for the health and well being of my kids, too. It’s the least I can do, and sometimes the only thing I can do. Yes, it would be nice to have all my kids together with me, and not when I’m on my deathbed or having my first breakfast in heaven. They are, however, all within the confines of my heart, and there is plenty of room there for their kids – my grandkids – as well.  I have a picture on my desk that I look at all the time. So far it’s the closest thing to having all my children in one shot. Here it is:

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Kids, I owe you one. That ‘one’ is my life. I love you all, and Babygirl, too.

The Blame Game Burns Me Up

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I have just raised my head from reading a story that drew my attention (I like to read with my head down because I don’t want to appear snooty to the casual observer): http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/05/02/shiny-dog-bowl-blamed-in-santa-rosa-fire/

It seems a couple’s metal dog bowl caught their house on fire. At this point I would say that now I’ve seen it all, but I uttered that once and now can’t take it back. Therefore, I must have seen this sort of thing before, but have forgotten it.  I forget a lot. That’s one of the perks of getting older. But that is worthy of a blogpost in itself, so remind me to write something about forgetfulness because I just know it will slip my mind. However, the parabolic pooch’s pan story has gotten its hot little claws in me now and won’t let go until I vent.  Long live venting. And prunes.

So this woman tells reporters that she saw something like a big plume of steam rising (or would that be pluming?) just outside by a glass door, and when she went to investigate saw that the side of their house was smoking. Firefighters were called and put out the fire before it got out of control, and upon investigation concluded that the dog’s metal water bowl had caused a concentrated beam of sunlight to shine on the side of their house.  Now, before you go out and try burning your nosy neighbor’s garage, let me dispel the many fallacies to this tall tale.

First of all, the woman went outside and found her house was smoking. If the house is over 21 years old it has every right in the world to smoke, and she should be grateful it kept its bad habit outdoors. I suspect the house is a minor, though, because as soon as it was caught it pointed to the dog bowl and said “The water dish made me do it!” It must have raised enough suspicion to deflect blame from itself, but come on, man, couldn’t it come up with a better excuse? Not all houses are gifted with intelligence, though.  Our family lived in a really smart home once in Muscle Shoals, Alabama around the time I discovered smoking. The house taught me to take a magnifying glass out with me whenever I puffed, and it saved my hide on more than one occasion. My mom would come trundling around the corner and find me hunched over a lit cigarette lying on the ground with that magnifying glass in my hand trying to catch the sunlight just right, and without blinking an eye I would say something like “Aren’t these things swell? I’m going to destroy every nasty cigarette I see by burning it up!” Hook, line and sinker, dear reader. At least I thought so until my mom told me a decade later she knew all along the house put me up to it.

Just to make sure this story out of San Francisco is fake, I went out and bought a couple hundred metal water bowls, filled them up and set them all around the neighborhood. The fire department has me under house arrest now, but I have a feeling it will be short lived. The Defense Department wants to meet with me in three days about becoming some sort of sub contractor. I’ve got blueprints of a metal water bowl fifty miles in diameter, and we’re planning on putting it on the North Korean border. Watch. Every home in a three hundred mile radius will blame their bad habit on it. I know this because I’ve seen it all. Really.

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