Since its a new year, many of you are probably making
resolutions. Dont bother.
The annual ritual of making promises to yourself that you
know you wont keep is upon us and I would humbly suggest
you take a different tact this year.
I am one of the usual guilty ones who schemes to lose weight
in the New Year. The media LOVES to do stories on New Years
resolutions like this. They are no-brainers. But the resolution
ritual simply doesnt work for the vast majority of people.
Regular exercise becomes another victim to wishful thinking,
as well as promises to change our personalities or our temper,
or to get more organized in our personal life.
One common resolution for me, besides trying to lose weight,
is to find more time to spend with my family and spend less
time working. My success at this has been less than perfect
but better than most other schemes into which I try to talk
But in 2005, it is going to be different. Really! My decision
has been validated by a number of recent events. First of
all, I have my Staff Sergeant Air Force Son home for the New
Year and I couldnt be happier, prouder, or more thankful
for that. His military career is over for now, as he hobbles
around in a cast, recovering well from the surgery that doctors
say will heal his shattered leg.
It started with a simple hairline fracture from trying to
master amazing motorized vehicles like the military uses -
bikes and dune buggies - the kind we see on our streets, in
the deserts, or in the war in a far off land. Jumping out
of perfectly good airplanes and landing hard a few thousand
feet below doesnt help a hairline fracture either. Throw
in some more military hard work, chasing bad guys in caves
and in the warring streets, add a few 27-mile-long treks in
the desert sands of Iraq or the unforgiving mountains of Afghanistan,
and you have a recipe for severe personal pain and a cast
that makes getting dressed a real challenge.
It is also a recipe for significant worry on the part of
us as parents and a reminder that life is too short and precious
for any of us. War and its resulting casualties sharpen our
desire to spend more time together as a family.
The second set of events that have validated my decision
to spend more time on family involves some very public events.
In looking back at 2004, the almost unfathomable murders of
hundreds of children in Beslan, Russia in September by MUSLIM
mercenaries posing as Chechnan thugs, forced all of us to
see the pain and suffering of the parents upfront and too
close, where even the 10,000 miles of distance between us
didnt help hide the horror. As they say in the world
of tragedy, no parent should outlive their child."
We also witnessed the pain and suffering of the family and
friends of NFL-star-turned-Army-solider Pat Tillman who was
killed in Afghanistan. Regardless of whether it was friendly
fire or some other unexplained error, Pat Tillmans parents
know their son gave up a multi-million dollar career to proudly
wear the uniform of the U.S. military because he was brought
up to understand the meaning of true values. He died doing
what he felt he had to do: stand up as an American and help
bring freedom to millions in Afghanistan who yearned for it
and deserved it.
The recent elections in which more than 10-million people
established as free a government as one can have in that region
is proof enough for me that Pat Tillman did the right thing
for the right reason. In his fight to bring a brand of Democracy
to the region, I consider him a member of MY family, both
as an American, and as a father of an Air Force Staff Sergeant
who worked the same mountains and caves of Afghanistan to
make freedom possible. Pat Tillman was the same age as my
Son, so I will always consider him part of my extended family.
May he rest in Peace, as well as the other soldiers, Marines,
airmen and sailors who served overseas.
Freedom is not always perfect, as we should know from what
we experience each day here at home. But its better
than the repressive alternative and a great start to a better
life for Afghanistan and the rest of the world.
Finally, the tsunami disaster in Southern Asia should give
us all pause and force us to look around and see how lucky
we really are. Having babies ripped from a mothers arms,
or losing a spouse or friend in the sudden torment of a tsunami
makes us all wonder how we would feel or how we would react
to such a life threatening event. The massive nature of this
disaster, 12 countries ravaged across 6,000 miles of ocean,
more than boggles the mind. I am still having a hard time
processing what I see on TV.
>From my little Internet perch, this disaster was not
only a defining moment for those involved directly or affected
by it, but it should be a defining moment for all of us. It
should remind us that we do not have TOTAL control over our
Please dont misunderstand that as some religious overture,
but rather, a pragmatic view that in our hustle and bustle
world of living life in the fast lane, fast cars and fast
women (or men), and jet-setting around the world, or the nightlife
and the clubs in our own cities, we have a sense of invulnerability,
I think its rather obvious that the folks sitting on
the beach in their bikinis and trunks thought they were in
control of life, sipping a drink or reading a book in paradise.
Ensconced at the edge of the world, I suspect they had left
all their cares behind at home. The last thing they expected
was the tsunami that turned out to be the last thing they
ever saw. No need for New Years resolutions on their
I have learned from those folks real life lessons and
in 2005, my columns will be shorter, my focus will be sharper,
and my family and I will be happier. Thats not a resolution,
thats a promise!