Why I Battle

A wise man once told me, “Never tell anyone your dreams because if you never see them in your waking life, you won’t have to explain for the rest of your existence why you never made it.”  Sublime advice, right?  Similarly, a good buddy once shared with me a link to C.P. Cavafy’s poem Ithaka.  The journey to my dream is as valuable as the destination itself because that is where I will find true enrichment.

So, I have decided to break protocol.  I want to share one of the reasons I am driven to sit at a keyboard and pound out stories and such.  Of course I want what any writer wants, to be able to provide a living for my family by becoming a storyteller, but for me, there is more.  I want to start a school.

Education is this world’s great equalizer.  Enlightenment is simply impossible without it.  Until enough of our leaders learn how to respect, cooperate, and love, our world will be full of hate, violence, and greed.

The Scholarships

The ideal would be for my University to operate free of charge to the students, including tuition, room and board, cost of living, and travel expenses.  All students are valued the same and treated with equal opportunity.  In my current vision, the University’s student body would be filled via two methods.

Noah’s Ark:  Every country in the world would be invited to send two students, one male and one female, per academic year to the University.  Two-by-two.  Each country would decide on its own framework for deciding who to send.  I know some would fear corruption, but I have faith that this system would work out for good over the course of time.  According to Wikipedia, the United Nations current recognizes 206 sovereign states.  So, that would be 412 students per academic year under this scholarship.

Pro Rata: There are seven billion people in the world with India and China leading the way with over a billion each.  It seems fair to me to offer a second scholarship to students based on the population of his/her home nation.  So, if my University could offer 1000 scholarships each academic year under this provision, a country with one billion people would provide approximately 143 students.  A country like the United States, with approximately 400 million people, would send 57 students each academic year.  Some sort of pooling process would have to be developed in order to accommodate countries with very large populations where the mathematics would not guarantee a student from their nation could attend every year under this provision.  Furthermore, students could apply directly for this scholarship and if they meet the basic academic criteria, they would either be chosen by an acceptance committee or at random (or a combination of both).

Using this process, the student body would roughly model the world population.   With my simple math, each academic year would have 1412 students resulting in a total of 5648 students enrolled in the four year program.

Location

Ideally, the University would need to be established someplace safe yet easily accessible.  Many countries would be suitable hosts.  I envision a single main campus.  But I think it would be awesome if the students rotated through a series of satellite campuses worldwide.  Would it be too much for a student study in a different country each academic year?  Each semester?  I believe if you can experience the world and its different cultures, you become a better world citizen.  It is better to see with your own eyes than to read in a book.  What would a student’s worldview look like if he/she spent a semester studying in Europe, Russia, Israel, The United States, Russia, China, Brazil, Turkey, Africa, etc.

Faculty & Staff

Top notch academic minds would be perfect, of course, while emphasizing diversity.  The instructors should come from all over the world to ensure a broad cultural environment.

Curriculum

A liberal arts program would probably be necessary to achieve the goals of the university, but specialization should be allowed and encouraged.  However, leadership, team building, foreign language study, government, and cultural appreciation would be emphasized in the General Education curriculum.  While traditional class room instruction is important, I believe a focus on practical hands on training and experience would be vital via opportunities like internships and apprenticeships.  The students should leave empowered to enter the world workforce.

Campus Life

The environment should be designed in such a way that the students develop a close bond with one another.  Through class instruction, sports, intercollegiate competitions and activities, students of all nations would learn to understand and value each other.

The campus would be designed in a manner that all students could be comfortable worshiping in whatever manner they choose, if any.  Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc.  In the same way, campus dining options would cover the spectrum of worldwide needs.  Omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, Halal, etc.

It makes sense to me on one level for their to be some sort of school uniform.  Of course leeway would need to be given to address cultural sensitivities.

Outcome

The ultimate mission would be for university graduates to return to their home countries commissioned to change the world for good.  If they learn to love and respect their peers from nations around the world, they leave equipped for this very task.  As they rise to levels of responsibility and leadership, they would have an established network of like-minded colleagues worldwide prepared to achieve the same goal:   to share this planet in a loving manner.

I know this is an ideal.  But it is my dream, and I will not let the light go out on it.

 

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Independence Day

July 4thI may get in trouble for this.  My conservative friends may skewer me.  But I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to let all people legally marry.  Give me a chance to explain.

First, I hear you.  “Constitutional Law” is a joke.  The 200+ year old document doesn’t address the issue.  Nine judges sitting in a room can’t divine what the Founding Fathers intended.  They are long dead and gone.  Does it even matter?

Second, the rallying cry, “America was found on Christian principles” as an anchor for pseudo religious-state beliefs is nonsense, too.  Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.”   Not “no taxation without representation.”  The Bible preaches being a good citizen, not inciting a violent revolution.  These are hard lessons, no doubt.  But don’t even get me started on slavery.  “God is love.” And Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself.”  Treating fellow humans like cattle doesn’t resolve with this core teaching.  Are you still reading?  Am I making sense?  The argument that the United States was founded on Christian principles as justification against the recent court decision isn’t logical to a Bible loving Christian when taken as more than a slogan.  Aren’t we all too smart for this now?

Third, Christians believe that Jesus is the greatest gift God has given us.  Second best?  I’d argue free choice.  To create intelligent beings then to allow them autonomy is awesome.  It takes guts.  It takes risk.  The creation can reject the creator’s way of living in favor of his/her own path.  This is true love.  It doesn’t make is less so just because it hurts sometimes.  Every parent knows what it feels like when his/her offspring rejects good parental wisdom.  If we can agree that free choice is a God-given gift of love, then we ought to agree that taking away such freedom is dehumanizing, even if we disagree with the choices that might be made as a result of such a gift.  After all, free choice is the one Biblical principle this great country was actually founded upon.

 

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than sci/fi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Father’s Day: Things Will Never be the Same as the Table Turns

Father's DayI’ve crashed landed.  Again.  It’s not a trilogy or quadrology.  Probably seven volumes in this series.  It’s not all bad.  I can’t call this iteration a tragedy even though the circumstances aren’t the best.  Inspirational is perhaps more apropos.

This is the first time I’ve had an emergency landing with a family of my own.  My wife, and as of seven months ago, a son.  It’s not always easy, of course, but I feel lucky to once again become good friends with my parents.  We do nearly everything together…eat, movies, date nights.  There is no escape.  Kind of like a zombie movie.  Think Dawn of the Dead meets The Walking the Dead meets Shaun of the Dead.

Of course, the dynamics of my relationship with my Dad have changed over the years.  When I was a kid and my family was at church, we would take up our own pew.  We weren’t the Duggars–just five of us–but I had developed a reputation for being a handful.  My dad was always focused during sermon time.  He wanted to worship without distractions.  My sisters and I would jockey to see who would get to sit next to him.  A competition.  Sibling rivalry at its holiest.  With a level playing field, my kid sister would usually win.  No one could say “no” to such a cute face.  But I was born a nerd and was accustomed to experimentation.  I quickly discovered that if I pinched my little sister, she’d cry and get relocated to my father’s lap.  Higher ground, in a sense.  But I’d get my coveted seat right next to my dad.  The spanking after worship was worth it.

In my teen years, my family took a lot of road trip vacations.  My experimenting continued:  How many times do I have to tap on the window until Dad yells at me?  Seven?  Six?  If I lean forward and put my finger into dad’s ear canal, will he be startled and jerk the van into the oncoming traffic?  If I pinch my kid sister, will Dad really make good on this promise to pull the van over on the side of the highway in order to hand out some family justice?  Again, the spankings were worth it.  Even at a young age, I had an understanding that conflict is at the heart of an entertaining story.  I’m not sure Dad realizes he was always my protagonist.

This go-around, I’m not torturing the old man as much.  We have gotten on the kick of sharing our favorite books with each other.  I just finished reading Dick Francis’ Reflex.  I now understand my dad more through his love of virtuous “everyman” characters.  I’ve always seen my dad as a hero, but now I have insight into some of his inspiration.  Dad recently finished Hugh Howey’s Wool based on my recommendation.  He now understands a bit of my fierce determination to survive, and even more so after hearing his feedback on my own novel.

As I put my son to sleep at night, I can sense my son’s developing stubbornness as he fights his tiredness.  I think he enjoys seeing me upset.  In the morning, he’s in tears at the sight of me leaving for work.  His whines and wails are music in my heart.  Like father, like son.

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than sci/fi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Star Trek In My DNA

Star Trek LogoCall me a nerd.  Every night of my teen years, my family huddled together in front of the tube and fed our minds a serving a Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  It had a strange effect of both satiating my need for entertainment while stoking my envy.  I needed to be on the Enterprise.  Star Trek was progressive in a social sense because humanoids, Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, and multi-ethnic beings all got along (okay, not always).  It felt like a place where I could fit in because my own melting pot heritage often left me feeling like an outsider in a complicated society.  For one hour a day, I was guaranteed acceptance.

But beyond being progressive, Star Trek was transcendent.  “Space, the final frontier…”  To me, as an adult, Star Trek now stands for two things.  First, if humanity could just learn to trust one another, it would in turn learn to love.  True brotherly love.  If we could just achieve this basic fundamental as a race, great things would happen.  I am reminded that I once read that trust and love are nearly the same thing.  I find it hard to argue with this notion.  They at least come from the same corner of the heart.

Second, mankind belongs on the frontier.  In America, somewhere in the last fifty or sixty years, folks generally have embraced the idea that playing it safe is the best policy.  Avoid risk at all costs because failure hurts.  I can’t honestly say this mentality bad or wrong, but for me, I want to do more than merely exist.  From my point of view, it seems like mankind is at its best living on the “frontier,” with our backs against the wall, with our success not guaranteed.  On the outskirts, we find what we are made of, and we are forced to grow if we want to thrive.  When we adopt this frontier mentality, I believe we evolve into better beings because of the challenges we willingly meet head-on.  Yes, sometimes we get bowled over, but we will rise stronger and wiser.

Call me an idealist, but if Starfleet Academy opens its doors tomorrow, I’m joining up.  I’ll wait tables in Ten Forward if I have to.  Will you join me?

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than sci/fi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

My Railroad Haven

AmtrakI ride the rails.  Every Monday through Friday, I make the trek into the city of Philadelphia.  I love the platform, the smell of the brake dust and the rainbow of faces that decorate each stop, offering new flavors for the melting pot to digest.

For many commuters, the train offers respite from the chaotic completed workday or the final calm before the storm of daily office life.  A casual glance around the train compartment could reveal any of the following:  someone sleeping, talking, texting, applying makeup, eating, reading a book, or simply staring out the window.  Indeed, I have done nearly all of these myself.  For me, the sanctuary of the train often provides the opportunity to write.  That’s right.  In this collective, I often find the stillness where inspiration flows.

I ride the same rails as Amtrak Northeast Regional No. 188.  Twenty-five days ago, it tragically derailed killing eight people and injuring hundreds more.  With every lean, sway, or hard break, I’m reminded of the fate of those who lost their lives.  May the Creator be with everyone involved, their families, and their loved ones.  Life and Death are so random.  We do not know how many days we have to walk this Earth and experience its wonders.  When those I love leave this world, I often lament, saying, “His life was incomplete.”  Or, “She was too young.”

As I contemplate my own temporal existence, the desire to create wells inside of me.  Questions weigh heavy.  How will my son really know me if I don’t find a way to show him? Will I leave behind anything that proves I once existed, that I mattered?  I must create, write, and complete while I still have the chance to live.  Maybe by doing so, I can open the door to my mind and my son will like what he finds on the other side.  In the same way, perhaps in a small way, I can in turn bring honor to those who are no longer able to ride my beloved rails.

 

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than sci/fi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and have something to talk about at your next party.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com