Who the bleep is the NRA?

December 22, 2012

Who the bleep is the NRA?

And other social media DOHs.

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

I find myself unable to express illuminating feelings and thoughts about the evil that has happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Or the loss and grief of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, family, friends and neighbors.

But worse than this, I fear that the evil is not finished. It stretches out from Newtown to all of the world.

The full horror and impact of this evil remains to be seen.

I fear that we cannot yet see how broken our world was broke by those terrible shots.

Evil, too, is difficult to speak about. It does not parse easily – regardless of the abounding interpreters, compilers and commentators. Perhaps, this is why evil always takes us by surprise.

Evil, itself, seems intangible and fictitious. Yet it is real as you. And me.

It has dreadful impact – even if a particular instance of evil has no real or apparent causalities.

And, evil, it ever lurks in all of our hearts, minds and spirit.

Beyond this fact, I do not understand much more about evil.

The National Rifle Association

What does all this have to do with the NRA?

Writes Gary Fields, Stephanie Blanchero and Colleen McCain Nelson in the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—The nation’s biggest gun-rights lobby called Friday for placing an armed security guard at every school, as it for the first time entered the re-energized public debate over gun laws in the aftermath of last week’s school shooting in Connecticut.

In fact, the NRA has pledged to immediately invest significant resources (money, know how, and people) in support of the creation of a national school safety and security program.

Who else has pledged themselves to today’s task of protecting American children?

CNN?  The Wall Street Journal? The New York Times?


Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, decried the NRA proposal to be “irresponsible and dangerous.”

Irresponsible and dangerous as a bank, a government building, an airport, an embassy, etc.?

“Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses,” added Weingarten as he clicked his ruby heels.

There’s no place like home.

The NRA (a.k.a. The National Rifle Association) is a non-profit organization that represents the specific and express interests of millions of U.S. citizens. Those interests can be characterized as an interest in preserving a Constitutional right to own and bear arms for the purpose of defense – mostly against (but not limited to) tyranny. In 2008 and 2010, The United States Supreme Court expanded our understanding of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller to include the individual’s right to possess and use a firearm in the lawful exercise of personal self-defense.

The NRA, in other words, represents the interests and beliefs of some Americans who especially hold dear the promises and guarantees of the Second Amendment, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution.

There are other Americans, however, that want you to think that the NRA is something else – the them. That the NRA does not speak on behalf of Americans who believe (rightly or wrongly) in the wisdom of the Law of the land, of the founding fathers, and the cornerstones of the Republic.

It is this kind of divisive propaganda (the us and them mentality) which we must all resist – a word-craft that reminds me of the past and terrible argument that ignored the imperative of the American Declaration of Independence and set brother against brother.

That all men are created equal in human dignity and providence.

What would Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, have said of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Dream?

Americans may be divided in opinion about the relevance of the U.S. Constitution to the 21st Century. Or the relevance of the Bill of Rights and/or specific Amendments. A great and passionate debate may, in fact, be in the stirring. But let us not forget that we are all Americans in this debate – where ever you are.

It’s not about us or them. Or just about crazy Americans. The questions and debate belongs to us (the human species) and we must individually wrestle with them in the face of fear, pain, loss, and wisdom.

It is, yes, all about we. We the people (of the world) must seek good answers and truer questions – together.

Scapegoats, however, speak to none of our intimate questions about the meaning of life, liberty and our happiness. Scapegoats only fuel contempt, misunderstanding, ignorance, brutality, terror, loss, and hate. The Israel and Palestine problem is an illuminating example.

Yes, Virginia. Evil will grow greater – if and only if – you believe or act otherwise.

Stan Faryna
21 December 2012
Fairfax, Virginia

Blog Soup 2011.11.14 Do You Have Leadership Skills?

November 14, 2011

Blog Soup

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

Blog Soup 2011.11.11 Do You Have Leadership Skills?

The next Blog Soup is planned for the next Monday. Things got crazy busy. Be safe and take good care of you.

About Blog Soup

I read a lot of blogs. Maybe, too many. I comment on a lot of blog posts. Maybe, too many. If you are a Triberrati, you do too.

A Triberrati is a blogger that stands out in the Triberr community. Triberr is a web app that connects bloggers and helps them to curate each other on Twitter. You can learn all about Triberr by reading any of the following posts about it.

1. Nicole Humphrey CookThe Idiots Guide to Triberr Tutorial

2. Yomar LopezHow Triberr Changes The Competitive Landscape

3. Neicole CrepeauFriday Fives: Tips For Using Triberr

I intend to write pithy, poignant comments that may help you truly rediscover yourself through the blog posts of friends and strangers. In terms of your journey of self discovery, the destinations are not as important as is your own personal negotiation of the questions, answers, and confusions which you may discover by following a link, reading a blog post, poring over comments, and making a comment. On the other hand, this is our community and, yes, community is all about our commitment to the community, conversations, consensus, disagreement, participation, and, yes, to each other.

I will fail often in this endeavor, but I can, as Booker T. Washington said, keep on keeping on. Will you humor me?

Gary Portnoy, Where everybody knows your name (Cheers theme song)


There is much to say about leadership. There is much need to think and speak about leadership. In the midst of the failure of leadership, we may be tempted to put up with false leadership, false journalism, lies, and what misfortunes that may befall us – especially the poor who are least able to bear untimely hardships and disasters.

I kindly remind you of the words of the poet, Dylan Thomas:

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Rage with love, service, and servant hearts.


The blog posts that I commented on in this Blog Soup:

1. Leadership Lessons from Joe Paterno and Penn State by Aaron Biebert

2. 12 Most Important Aspects of Having 100,000 Followers by Ted Coiné

3. A Short Treatise on Losing by Anthony Iannarino

4. Jay-Z’s ‘Occupy All Streets’ Shirt Vanishes from Rocawear Site Amid Controversy by Elva Ramirez

5. The Extremely Personal Post by Laurinda Shaver

6. Colin Powell: Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations Are ‘As American As Apple Pie’

7. Thoughts 4 Friday – Be Indispensable by Daniel Newman

Michael Jackson, Man In The Mirror

Blog Soup

My unabashed comments:

1. Leadership Lessons from Joe Paterno and Penn State by Aaron Biebert

Writes Aaron Biebert:

“Success with Honor” is Penn State’s motto. Now they have neither.

My comment:

Your post reminds me of some good advice. Thank you, Aaron.

Leadership is a gift given by those who follow.

That’s what General Mark Welsh, Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, says. General Welsh gave a speech about what leadership is about at the Air Force Academy. The video is here.

I mention General Welsh’s speech because he explains the why and how of leadership. Leadership is necessitated not simply by the objective or the how, it is also intimately about people and why. And you don’t need to be a genius to understand this. You just have to have a heart.

General Welsh speaks about leadership through stories and slides. He tells about the horror of killing and the fact that it has to be done. He tells us that the enemies that are killed by smart bombs are fathers, sons, and brothers too.

General Welsh tells us about the people who serve in the Air Force. About the people that made a difference. About the people that are making a difference.

Leaders are all about their credibility. Leaders look out for their people and they do what they say they are going to do – especially when it’s about taking care of their people. They look after the people that count on them. That doesn’t mean that leaders lie or cover up for this person or that as Aaron points out. Leaders have to keep their people on the up and up – that’s the kind of winning that counts most of all. If they can’t do that, they have no credibility.

Leaders pay attention to the details. General Welsh tells about a jet fighter pilot that died when he missed a zero point two of a second decision to pull up. Details matter.

Leaders know their people’s stories. You can’t look out for your people (and their families) if you don’t know their story.

General Welsh concludes:

Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. But you have to be worthy of it.

2. 12 Most Important Aspects of Having 100,000 Followers by Ted Coiné

Self-described business heretic and futurist gives 12 reasons he’s proud to boast about his 100k followers on Twitter.

1. He’s having fun.

2. He’s there for people.

3. He’s building an audience for his next book.

4. He’s being social.

5. He’s trying to do good things.

6. He appreciates his people.

7. He gets feedback.

8. He’s making friends.

9. He’s learning things.

10. He doesn’t need Klout to feel special.

11. His followers help him out.

12. He’s curating people.

My comment:

Let’s go for a big lagniappe!

13. Love, Serve, and Lead.

100k followers is a whole lot of people. As General Welsh explained, be worthy of the the gift of leadership!

3. A Short Treatise on Losing by Anthony Iannarino

It isn’t a failure to fight the good fight and to lose. It is a failure not to fight the good fight. It is a failure to do nothing in the midst of evil, terror, and great anguish. That’s what Anthony is saying.

My comment:

Leaders understand that it’s not winning a fight that counts, but fighting the good fight for all the right reasons that matter. Because a good fight doesn’t hold you down in doubt, fear, and despair. When you lose a good fight, you may have lost much more than just that fight, but you don’t have to lose the fight that is in you.

No German, for example, can savor the things done in service to Hitler and the Nazis. They can not enjoy the many German accomplishments in service to that dark cause. Because there can never be triumph when it is in service to evil.

The Germans stormed across Europe under the Nazi banner and made all of Europe tremble before them; they overcame tremendous force and people; they overcame impossible odds with technology, science, and discipline. And the German people must hang their heads in shame for a hundred years. Or more.

Likewise Penn State has been dishonored as Aaron Biebert points out in his blog post.

4. Jay-Z’s ‘Occupy All Streets’ Shirt Vanishes from Rocawear Site Amid Controversy by Elva Ramirez

When Business Insider asked Rocawear if any proceeds from Jay-Z’s Occupy All Streets shirt were going towards the movement, Rocawear issued a statement that Jay-Z’s t-shirt was not related significantly to the political movement. Accusations promptly followed that Jay-Z was trying to profit from the protest.

My comment:

The obvious irony is that Jay-Z’s apparent interest in cashing in on the Occupy movement represents the same kind of heartless capitalism, lack of humanitarian intent, and greed against which the Occupy movement protests.

The more obvious question to some is not if Jay-Z is selling out the people today, but if he was a wanna-be 1 percenter since the beginning?

Everybody hurts as Bruce Sallan reminds us in his blog post. Sometimes.

The 1 percenters hurt too. They cry. They anguish. They have fears too. It’s a shame that they often fail to identify with the pain, hopes, and disappointment experienced by the 99 percent. It’s not like they have to make a leap of faith about something outside their experience.

Jay-Z, like other hip hoppers and rock stars, received the mantle of leadership as a gift from their fans, but they often prove themselves to be false idols. They are not worthy of their celebrity as General Welsh would remind us.

They do not serve their people. They are out for themselves. And this is the problem of the 1 percent, be they bankers, politicians, or others who serve themselves at the expense of the world.

In Michael’s song, there’s a question for the 1 percent – a question that will eat away at their brains like worms feasting upon corpses. Michael’s question comes like the pained and whispered warning of the rich man in hell.

Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their need?

5. The Extremely Personal Post by Laurinda Shaver

Writes Laurinda:

3 years ago I made the most difficult decision of my life. I decided to end my marriage of 7 years…

It went from a separation, to getting laid off, to my mom being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour, to her dying a year later, to my dad suddenly suffering from mobility issues.

She also had two young kids in tow.

3 years later, Laurinda can say, “I am the CEO of my life.”

My comment:

Laurinda’s blog post is a response to Janet’s Callaway;s blog post, How to be the CEO of your life.

Getting from there (surviving) to here (commanding) didn’t happen overnight, Laurinda tells us. Like Michael sings in his song, Man in the Mirror, Laurinda started with the woman in the mirror.

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways…

6. Colin Powell: Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations Are ‘As American As Apple Pie’

CNN’s Pier Morgen interviews former Secretary of State and retired four star general Colin Powell about the Occupy movement.

Says Powell:

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are as American as apple pie.

We need our political system to start reflecting this anger back into how do we fix it? How do we get the economy going again?

My comment:

Retired Four Star General Colin Powell is one of the few people from the political right that acknowledges a problem, the American-ness of protest, and the legitimacy of the Occupy movement. Regardless of whether or not you may agree with the man’s politics, the man’s leadership qualities stand up.

Compare Powell with Captain Margo Bennet of the University of California Berkeley Police Department who defended University Police officers caught on video for beating protesting students who were not showing violent resistance.

Captain Margo Bennet’s statement:

I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest.

I do not believe that I need to provide you with a historical description of the protests led by Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi to establish how impoverished is Bennet’s definition of nonviolent protest. But I will remind you of the intentions upon which America is founded:

That whenever any Form of Government [i.e., local, State, Federal or international] becomes destructive of these ends [read: the free exercise of certain unalienable rights), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (link)

Do note from the quotation that the Right to alter or abolish it belongs to the People – not government. Also that change shall be determined by the People and according to their prudence- not the government.

Just as Bull O’Conner was inadequate more than 50 years ago, Captain Margo Bennet should resign his post for the dishonor that he has brought to UC Berkeley. Obviously, Bennet’s gestapo mentality is inadequate to serve as a leader whose mission is to serve and protect people and, especially, to serve and protect the students of UC Berkeley.

Captain Margo Bennet is yet another false leader – unworthy of the gift which he has been given.

7. Thoughts 4 Friday – Be Indispensable by Daniel Newman

Asks Daniel of the employee:

What do you bring to the table that makes you indispensable?

My comment:

What people ask of a leader every day:

What do you bring to the table that makes you indispensable to your people?

Following Daniel’s line of thinking, four more questions come to mind:

1. Are you always looking for ways for your people to get the job done in a smarter and healthier way?
2. Do you take the initiative to identify and solve problems that stand as obstacle to your people making results happen?
3. Do you embrace learning about your people, how they do what they do, and why they do it the way they do it?
4. Are you willing to lead change? Or do you delegate that like a chump?

Like Michael sings it:

You gotta get it right, while you got the time
‘Cause when you close your heart
Then you close your mind.


If you think that this blog post sucks, let me know in your comment and don’t forget to include a link to YOUR favorite blog post.

If you think this blog post rocks, tell me why it rocks in the comment. “Awesome,””Great post,” etc. works for me. Don’t forget to include a link to YOUR most recent blog post.

Stan Faryna
14 November 2011
Bucharest, Romania

P.S. Help me to do something beautiful! Click here.

Barack Obama, Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln, et al: Viva la Vida

July 3, 2008

Friday, 04 July 2008

As I reflect on the meaning of Independence Day, I cannot help but to see the stark contrast between the freedoms which we as Americans have come to take for granted and the situation in Romania, where the Romanian people struggle to live day by day under the capricious and self-serving will of oligarchs and authoritarians and a corrupt and impetuous government.

Never you mind that the 2008 NATO Summit was held in Bucharest.


We the people of the United States, in order to form a

more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic

tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote

the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty

to ourselves and our posterity…

United States Constitution


The purpose of human government is to enable the people to obtain, individually, for themselves every good and moral opportunity to pursue and enjoy the common good.

Regardless of geographical differences, the purpose is everywhere the same. This, the human spirit has taught us in its longings, triumphs, and struggles through human history. And this wisdom is made more compelling by our own tears, hopes and prayers.

George Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. understood themselves as instruments of human destiny. They saw that the implications of their efforts, sacrifices and triumphs were not limited to their time; they understood that the things for which they struggled for must also belong in a wider sense to humanity and the future.

Read the rest of this entry »