“The beatings will continue until morale improves.” (Unknown)

I love this quote but then again I have a warped sense of humor. I would like to blame it on several head injuries I endured as a child but that would be cowardly of me. Nope, this one is all mine and I just have to accept it. The good news is I can laugh at just about anything, which comes in handy with the alternate universe I work in known as foster care. If I make it to October of this year I will have given ten years of my life to the cause and that will be more than enough but I still need something to do because retirement sounds terrible to me.

I think I may take my writing skills and try my hand at motivational posters like the kind so many businesses put up around the office in a feeble attempt to inspire greatness in their employees in lieu of pay. The only problem with this new plan is my penchant for honesty. I hate lying and my need for honesty gets me in trouble a lot. I could just say nothing but that always seems like a cop out. I would rather use humor to speak the truth and help people learn without making them mad. Here’s a few of my original ideas for truly honest motivational posters.

“If at first you don’t succeed, welcome to the club.”

Together…Everyone…Achieves…More or less.”

“The road to hell is paved with bad inventions.”

“Get over it. Watch out for it. Forget about it. Most of all, don’t be it.”

“You can always tell a good leader by the arrows in his back. Conversely, you can always tell a bad leader by the arrows in your back.”

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Followed by 1,759,999 more.”

“Change is good. If I had a quarter for each time I’ve heard that, I’d have a lot of change.”

“Failure is not an option, it’s standard equipment.”

“Think outside the box, especially if you’re in the shipping department.”

“Carpe Diem. That’s Latin for get off your butt.”

Those are my thoughts on how to motivate people honestly. Here’s one more from my favorite author, Mark Twain, “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“That’s your new definition of greatness. It means that everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Martin Luther King Jr. gave a lot of great speeches in his short life. Today’s quote comes from a sermon he gave in Atlanta on February 4th 1968. He was killed later that same year. I was only fourteen then but I remember the times vividly and I was deeply moved by all that happened that year. His definition of greatness has stuck with me for all of my life. I firmly believe that every one of us can be great if we just let our hearts be filled with the grace of God and we find ways to serve others.

Christmas is just a few days away and I will be on the road all day on Christmas Eve delivering foster children back to their families for the holiday. For me at least, that’s the reason for the season. I serve kids in need and I have had thousands of chances to do so. My soul gets replenished with love every time we hold hands as we walk together. I can’t explain in words what that feels like but I wish you all could experience it just once. It’s amazing how much joy I get from the tiniest of fingers holding onto mine as if their very lives depended on me. At that moment, they really do depend on me and I would give my life for any of them.

My favorite verse in the Bible is from Matthew 9……                                                                   11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” This is my motivation for being on-call seven days a week. I go where I am needed the most by those who have the least to offer me in return. One hand, one smile or one hug from even one child can make my day better. I live for those moments. 

As we all gather together with our families this week, please take a moment to reflect on what makes you happy and brings you joy. Presents are nice but your presence is priceless. Be there for all those who bring you joy and tell them how much they mean to you. Touch your hands and put your hearts together in meaningful hugs. Spread the joy of the season and remember the one who gave His life to make the whole world better. Do these things and you too can achieve greatness. Merry Christmas!       

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.                               

 

 

 

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“The law of unintended consequences governs all technological revolutions.” (Joel Swerdlow)

I’m still scratching my head over what just happened here on my WordPress blog. I wasn’t trying to post nonsense but it happened anyway and I have no idea why. I guess I could blame it on butt blogging because my phone seems to be the culprit but even that doesn’t explain how it got posted without my help. But as long as we’re on the subject of technology I do have a few thoughts to share.

Of all the current forms of social media, blogging is the only one that appeals to me. I don’t think in tweets. 140 characters, or whatever it is now, just doesn’t give me enough information. It’s like a drop of water when you’re dying of thirst. I want to hear whole thoughts and complete sentences conveying useful information. A drip of drivel will never slake my thirst for knowledge.

The world of today is the most technology driven it has ever been but the unintended consequences are becoming historically bad. I have met dozens of teenage kids in foster care who are unwilling or unable to have a real conversation about anything. The short form version of thinking that social media is so fond of, has enabled these kids to skate through life without one deep thought or significant realization. After they leave the foster care system, they head out into a world full of deep thinkers and not all of them are nice people.

My son recently told me about a YouTube channel his daughter was watching that was apparently created by pedophiles to lure children into their perverted way of thinking. It starts out with cartoons that kids like and gradually moves on to more insidious messaging. He immediately disabled YouTube from the tablet she was using and now he checks everything she is doing. He said there was an app that would allow him to view everything she was seeing in real-time and he plans on using it. Unintended consequences are bad enough but intentional consequences of the most devious sort makes me wonder about our love for technology.

Technology without humanity is taking us down a path of least resistance. By minimizing the need to think independently we increase our dependence on artificial intelligence daily. Every keystroke and search we initiate is already being tracked by the internet providers in an effort to predict and encourage our behavior in ways that benefit them not us. Under the auspices of making our lives easier, they relentlessly work to make us more pliable and willing to stay on the path they choose for us. People are becoming units of consumption and nothing more.

The other troubling part of social media is the lack of respect for others that is so pervasive. Social media has created an epidemic of cyber-bullying. I meet kids all the time who are genuinely traumatized by stuff that other kids said about them online. When I was a kid, if I wanted to say something mean to someone I had to stand right in front of them and speak my mind. I never did that because I really didn’t want to get my butt kicked. Today, anybody can say any horrible thing they want without any consequences. Technology has given power to the most depraved and cowardly humans among us. If anyone thinks evil isn’t a problem I suggest you read online comments.

I’m not here to suggest that all technology is inherently bad or good. Technology and its consequences are a direct reflection of the humans who use it and sadly it’s becoming a pretty ugly reflection of society as a whole. I’ve seen parents of foster kids who spent their whole hour of visitation on their phones rather than interacting with their kids. I’ve met kids who can’t make it for an hour in the car without some form of electronic stimulation. I’ve counseled teenage girls who are suicidal because of some indiscriminate nonsense they read online. I’ve got every finger and toe plugging a hole in the dam of inhumanity and the water is rising faster than I can react. I’m still waiting for the technology that makes my life easier.

I hope I live long enough to see compassion, kindness and generosity become popular ideals again. That’s a big reason why I write this blog. I want to help people find their way to something better and return to real humanity. Without the technology available to me here on WordPress that would be nearly impossible but with it I can communicate globally and everyone needs to read my words. I believe goodness is present in all people everywhere but it’s not the easiest path to follow. In fact it’s much harder and that’s why evil is such an easy thing to sell. For me at least, the written word is the greatest technological advancement of all time and every time I write a new post I find new meaning in my life. There’s just one more thought I want to share with you today. This is the premise for my blog expressed by the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin, “I invent nothing. I rediscover.”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” (Kris Kristofferson)

I started this post at 4 AM, here in middle America. I have to leave the house in another hour to pick up some kids for their visit, so sleeping wasn’t really an option anyway. Once my brain switches on for the day’s work I can’t sleep no matter how hard I try to hide under the sheets. The part that always puzzles me is why do I get such deep thoughts at such inopportune times? Today I woke up thinking about how hard it is to be FREE.

I was born in America. I have only known freedom as a way of life. After 63 years of freedom I have come to the conclusion that being free is the hardest thing anyone will ever choose to do with their life. Freedom is a choice and it’s also a declaration of intent. Those who choose to be free are declaring their intention to go their own way no matter how hard their lives might be. They are risking everything for the chance to decide their own fate. They accept the consequences of their actions whether they are good or bad. They would rather die than live without the freedom to choose. I know very few people who are truly free. We all make choices and lots of compromises.

I chose to work in the foster care system nine years ago. That decision was made out of necessity not some virtuous notion of saving the planet one kid at a time. It has kind of worked out that way but it was not the result of some epiphany on my part. I guess, continuing to work in this netherworld of madness could be seen as virtuous but it’s not like I sit around all day asking myself how can I sacrifice even more? I like helping children and for once in my life I know for certain I am serving a higher purpose and I think I made the right choice. What troubles me is that so many people made terrible choices that created a huge need for me to be up and heading out the door before dawn. Their freedom to choose had some awful consequences for their children.

The freedom afforded to all Americans is the result of our ancestors making many difficult choices and struggling for years to overcome human nature at its worst. That struggle continues today and it gets harder all the time because we lose sight of the intentions stated in the Declaration of Independence. No American alive today has ever had a British soldier show up at our door and kick us out of our own house just so he has a warm place to sleep. It has been so long since we experienced real tyranny that we have forgotten just how tyrannical some people can be.

Freedom is not a normal state that exists in human nature. It is constructed out of nothing by people who have nothing else to lose and who understand the meaning and consequences of their actions. The Founders of America got off their knees, looked King George right in the eye and said, “We can do this ourselves, Go to Hell!” That was the moment when humanity raised itself above all the other animals on the  planet. The world has never been the same since. Life got much harder but it was worth every sacrifice. The common good became the greatest good and still today it demands our greatest effort.

Freedom is a choice we make every day, in everything we do. We choose to be helpful to others, we choose to be compassionate, we choose to do the right things no matter what and we choose to fulfill our responsibilities as members of a free country. What we can’t do is ask for the government to take over those responsibilities. The more we rely on government, the more we give up our personal freedom.

I meet people every day who are struggling mightily to raise their kids. Then the state run foster care system steps in and tries to help but the results are mixed at best. I can just do my job or I can do more but the choice is mine alone. This past weekend I had a long talk with a father whose kids are always a problem. I tried to encourage him and coach him on ways to improve his parenting skills. It’s going to be a slow process but I see positive signs and I want to help him get his kids back.

That’s not my job but it is my responsibility as a fellow American because my rights are only made possible by my willingness to take responsibility in every way that I can. The U.S. Constitution is a document that grants me the opportunity to be free but it cannot guarantee the outcome of my life because freedom cuts both ways. If I work hard and make good choices, my chances for happiness improve dramatically. If I’m lazy and make bad choices, my chances for happiness decrease proportionately. Either way though, I get to choose freely. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I am more than willing to do my part every day to participate in the running of this country. I play my part and I depend on everyone else to do the same so that every need gets met. That’s why America is the greatest country on Earth because the vast majority of us play by the rules and live up to the expectations that come with a free society. I had a long drive today with two unruly little girls and they needed all the patience and compassion I could muster at 6 AM. My American dream is achieved every time I help a kid and my duty to my country is fulfilled every time I make it home safely. Freedom makes anything and everything possible. America really is the land of opportunity.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” (Anne Lamott)

For as long as I can remember I have had a craving to do things that are new and difficult. Adapt and overcome has been my mantra for all of my life. I have little to no interest in anything predictable. I am always hopeful. That might explain why I enjoy working with foster kids so much. After nine years and several thousand different kids I have gotten to know, I think one new truth has been revealed to me.

Simply put, “Without hope, life isn’t worth much.”

Hopelessness is rampant in the world today and we see the devastating effects all around us. I meet kids every day who don’t know what it means to be hopeful and frankly I don’t blame them for feeling that way. In those moments when I hear the desperation in their voices, I am challenged to be kind and patient and willing to listen to anything they might say. I don’t judge, I just listen and sometimes if I’m lucky we connect and something good happens to them, maybe even for the first time in their young lives.

Being hopeful was instilled in me by two amazing parents and a wonderful extended family of doers. My dad and grandfather, who I share names with, were two of the most hopeful men who ever lived. Everything they did was based on a firm belief that tomorrow was going to be better than today but only if they worked hard to make that happen. Words were never enough. Hopefulness was based on actions and seeking the greatest good for the greatest number. Selfishness was a curse to be avoided at all times. In those days, there was a moral in every story and I was always hopeful for more.

Today, belief in a moral code has been contracted to mean the opposite, as amoral is the new normal. Amoral means being unconcerned with either right or wrong. This is what leads to the disease of nihilism and hopelessness that has resulted in so many inhumane events recently. When nothing has value to the individual, that person no longer cares about right or wrong and it becomes easy to choose destructive behavior as a way of getting back at humanity for the loss of hope. Everyone needs to feel wanted and when those human connections are severed, hopelessness leads to nihilism and sometimes to death and destruction. I won’t be that surprised if some day I hear the name of one of the kids I met in foster care who lost all hope and did something very tragic. That’s going to hurt a lot because it means I failed to connect with that kid when they needed it most.

Compassion and empathy for others is the only way to bring hope to the less fortunate and that comes from each of us every day. A smile, a touch or a simple act of kindness will do more to eliminate hopelessness than any act of Congress. If we want to end the evil that comes from nihilism we all have to act in ways that contribute to the greatest good and we should start with our children. Interacting with children is fascinating to me and it fills my need for discovery. I love the unknown that comes with each new face and every new behavior. I adapt to them so they feel accepted for who they are. I expect certain things from them for their own good but I try not to judge too harshly when they struggle with my rules. Even when I have to discipline them, I still ask to be their friend.

Everything I do for these foster kids is rooted in the unconditional love I received from my family growing up. I was able to overcome whatever came along because I had a huge safety net of compassion and understanding to land on when I fell. Every child needs that net and every adult owes it to them to catch them when they fall. Nothing we will ever achieve in life will come close to the feeling that comes from helping a child. If you haven’t had that experience, I feel sorry for you because you don’t know what you’re missing and some kid somewhere could really use your help.

I sincerely believe that tomorrow will be better than today and to that end I will do my part to help each child I meet overcome their challenges and adapt to the scary world they live in right now. I will laugh with them or cry with them, I will try to teach them right from wrong and why forgiveness is so important but most of all, I will be there for them and give them a reason to hope. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; …….. any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” (John Donne)

I started writing this blog about eight years ago. Since that time I have posted more than 250 unique articles and some have been posted more than once. It has always been fascinating to watch the stats that WordPress provides on a daily basis. Stuff that I loved often goes unread and stuff that bordered on complete nonsense is a hit. It shows what I know about what works. Human nature is and always will be a complete mystery and in a way that makes life more interesting.

Take this last month for example. My stats have been off the charts and all for one particular post from 2010 titled, “Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.” That post was actually about my friend, Dale Eldred, who was anything but egotistical and a true genius in his own right. I’m still scratching my head in amazement that something I wrote seven years ago finally got noticed by 4000 new readers over the last few weeks.

Just to provide some perspective, my blog gets viewed about 125 times a day on average. It’s a pretty typical blog by most WP standards and since I have never promoted it in any way, I’m satisfied with it’s footprint. I’m not on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram because I just don’t have time. It takes every ounce of my ability to do my work with foster children, keep up with my chores at home and write this blog when I have something to say. Achieving blogging stardom was never the point.

I write for my own enjoyment and to leave a kind of biography for my grandchildren. Given the amount of time I spend on the road and the behavior of some of the kids I work with, the odds are against me for having a long life, so I feel a critical need to put into words the thoughts that define me. I want my grandchildren to know me even if I’m not here to explain it in person. I want them to hear stories about people like Dale Eldred and my dad, who lived amazing lives. I want them to have an archive of wisdom that they can turn to when their own lives are challenged in the future.

The written word is still the most powerful force on Earth and I intend to keep putting out stories that are truthful and meaningful. If it takes ten or twenty years before those stories get discovered by the rest of the world, so what? Living for the moment has never been important to me. I enjoy life but I have too much I want to accomplish to waste time sitting around congratulating myself. I can almost guarantee that my blog will be far more popular after I’m gone because then it will be considered a limited edition. Human nature always wants what it can’t have.

On the other hand, my curiosity is raging right now. Why did that particular post create so much attention? I can imagine that the title seems to be apropos for the politics of the day and all the egotistical people who have sold their souls to become rich and powerful but the story is actually about a humble genius who left a mark on the world so profound that he will always be remembered for his ability and his kindness. Maybe people are so tired of the ship of fools who run this country that they are craving stories about real geniuses and actual achievements.

I love telling those stories. That’s why I write about Jesus so often. Two thousand years later people argue incessantly over His resurrection from the dead. It seems pretty clear to me that the argument itself is all the proof I need to believe He is still with us to this day. Who else, in the history of the world, has ever had so much of a lasting impact on humanity? Who else causes so much fervor on both sides of the argument? Who else denied Himself every worldly pleasure and willingly gave His life for the benefit of others? One man, in the entire history of the world, did these things and for all of that He will always be revered. Humility, kindness and compassion are antithetical to egotism and greed and they are the traits that make our lives worth living and our deaths meaningful.

I’m going to keep writing about goodness and self-sacrifice until God calls me home. When I get to Heaven, I will make my case for salvation with all my words posted here on WordPress. I like my chances.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

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“How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children.” (Charles Darwin)

Now that I am officially a grandfather, by way of my son’s recent marriage, I find myself thinking more and more about the future my grandchildren will inherit. I know my days are numbered and there’s only so much I can do before I go on to the great hereafter but I still want to keep trying to make the world a better place for all of us. My dad always taught me to hope for the best but plan for the worst so I guess I’m a little jaded when it comes to the future and my hopes for the little ones who will spend their childhood in a vastly different environment than I grew up in. Here’s the future as I see it.

I see the negative effects of the disintegration of the family every day in foster care. Most of these kids are being raised by young adults who have no interest in being parents. They gave no thought whatsoever to the consequences of sex, pregnancy and childbirth. They brought children into the world without the means or desire to take care of them and then when it became too much to deal with, they turned them over to the state. I have seen families with eight or nine kids, all in foster care. They get to see their kids once a week for an hour and the state does the rest all the way to the age of eighteen. Which means that the rest of us are paying to raise those kids with our tax dollars. We all pay but very few of us have the courage to become foster parents. God bless them all for what they do. The only possible solution is to teach young people that all actions have consequences and responsibility is not optional. I would love to teach that in a high school, Cause & Effect 101.

My chances of getting a teaching job at a high school are less than zero because the educational system is partly to blame for the way the younger generation thinks, which is to say, only when they have to. They’re great at Google searches and using apps but applied reasoning like the Socratic Method is missing today. I see very little cognitive discipline in the next generation. They can be dramatically persuaded by anonymous words on a screen faster than any generation ever. They actually believe that Google is the definitive arbiter of truth and ignore the fact that Google exists only to make money. Truth and profits have always been strange bedfellows. We have to start teaching kids that technology is just a tool not a means to an end.

It never ceases to amaze me that technology has far outpaced our human ability to make the best use of it and this is only going to get worse in the future. Twenty years ago, in my graphic arts business, we could go for coffee while a fifty meg Photoshop file rotated on the screen but the creative things we could do were truly phenomenal. At the time, I thought the coming generations would be devoted to their computers and all the technology that was at their finger tips. Of course, that was before smartphones and social media disrupted the technology landscape. Now, I can’t fathom why anyone thinks social media is beneficial to our civilization. It should have been but once people succumbed to the temptation of anonymity it was lost forever to the dark side. Now we have an entire subculture of dishonesty, deceit, and perversion that preys on the weak-minded and innocent children. No one would dare leave their kids at home alone with all the doors unlocked and windows wide open but millions of people do worse than that with the internet and social media. Children will always need our protection from predators, whether we can see them or not.

I predict that a hundred years from now, historians will look back on the present day and wonder out loud how so many people were addicted to various drugs including social media induced dopamine highs. It’s entirely possible that Facebook will go down as the single worst invention of all time because so many people became addicted to the dopamine rush of “Likes” on Facebook and the subsequent disengagement from the real world of meaningful relationships. In my opinion, smartphones make dumb people.

My last prediction is also the most likely to come true. I predict Clayton Christensen’s theories on disruptive innovation in the business world will cross over into society as a whole and we will see seismic shifts in many institutions like healthcare, schools, religion and government. I think schools have already reached critical mass and they will be the first to fall. Online education is going to replace public schools as the first choice for families who want the best possible education for their kids. The public school system is going to be left with the kids whose parents want daycare first and education second. This disruption doesn’t bother me so much because I do think kids learn better at their own pace and online classes are perfect for that. One size fits all classroom education is going to die a slow death at the hands of the established system because too many people have a vested interest in keeping their jobs, not because it’s better for the kids. The only thing missing from online learning is social development but that will be replaced with communities of families who bond together to instill good values in their kids. Morality should be taught in the home but it must be practiced there first.

I actually can see a bright future once holistic education disrupts the school system in America. Parents should be the role models and by forming educational communities the future generations will have the well-rounded education they will need to succeed and the cooperative skills for dealing with all the other disruptions that are coming. Whatever time I have left to mentor my grandchildren, I will spend in teaching them how to adapt and overcome challenges, how to be respectful to others, how to be compassionate and helpful, how to look for new and better ways to achieve whatever they want out of life and how to survive societal prejudice or pressure. The world will always keep changing and as long as most of us actively seek to make it better, then it will be better. Let’s all make sure that every kid has an equal chance to be part of that bright future by being there for them every step of the way.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

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