Showing posts with label Character. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Character. Show all posts

March 11, 2021

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

Art imitates life. 

When we had heroes in the real world there were also superheroes on television, movies, video games, toys, and more. 

But alas leadership in our times has seriously fallen short.

Who is there to really look up to as a model for us to respect and follow? 

It seems like everywhere these days we are confronted by: 

- Failing leadership 

- Poor decision-making

- Party politics

- Obstructionism

- Finger-pointing

- Fraud, waste, and abuse

- Bullying and sexual harassment

- Bribery and kleptocracy

- Big time narcissism 

There are few if any heroes these days!

It's sad for us as well as for our children.

I hope we see Batman and Superman and other superheroes again: strong in the physical sense but primarily a symbol for strength of character/integrity and for the fight of good over evil in this world. 

The void is painful for our times and is going to impact our near term future as well.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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May 6, 2019

Wrong Direction--Who Stands For The Truth?

So I thought this was pretty funny in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. 
A wife is listening to the radio and she hears that a car is dangerously going in the wrong direction on the highway. 

Immediately, she calls her husband to tell him about the car going in the wrong direction, and to be careful. 

He husband replies: One car going in the wrong direction...there are hundreds of cars going in the wrong direction!

How true this little story is about life and what direction we choose for ourselves--in the face of the groupthink and the tidal wave of public opinion that will sweep you away if you aren't strong of mind and especially of character. 

Whenever we choose the road less traveled, others see us as dangerous and going the wrong way. 

Yet to us, others may just be following blindly, and we may truly see something that everyone else is missing...could it possibly be that they are really the ones going the wrong way!

But there is always some doubt in our minds...we are fallible, we can wrong, we can be crazy.  

Whose truth is it anyway--Mine?  Yours?  Or could it really be "The (objective) Truth"?

Alternatively, maybe we just lack confidence or courage?

It is very hard to be the nail that stands up (and doesn't get hammered down) and say that something is wrong and everyone should pay attention and change direction or their ways. 

Perhaps, they are all heading off a moral cliff or just heading towards disaster.

In some cases...

We know the agendas of the people who want to steer you wrong. 

We hear the propaganda and lies they are feeding you. 

We can see down the road or just around the bend where the danger lies in wait. 

- Can we stand up to the crowd?  

- Can we demonstrate the moral truth?  

- Can we get others to see what we see?  

It is certainly not easy to be the contrarian in the crowd. 

Not only may you not be recognized for what you are doing, but you may even be persecuted for it. 

It doesn't matter...

Because you need to do it anyway just because you know deep inside that it's the right thing to do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 21, 2018

Be Strong!


Just a saying about inner strength that I liked:
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have."
(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 15, 2018

It's Fight or Surrender!



This is why President Reagan was able to "tear down that wall" and win the Cold War. 

He was a true role model for leadership and what a President is. 

- Faith in G-d.

- A strength of convictions.

- The Integrity that touches hearts. 

- Courage to carry forward. 

- Pride in our nation.

- Judicious use of our might.

Go USA! ;-)
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July 20, 2018

How Angry Do You Get?

Anger is one of those emotions (like jealousy) that can clearly get the best of people. 

Hence, the term anger management!

The Talmud teaches that there are 3 ways to know a person's real character: 

- Koso, Kiso, and Ka'aso.

From Aramaic to English it translates as:

- Cup, Purse, and Anger. 

In other words...

Cup--When a person "drinks," this is how they handle their alcohol and how they act when physically (or perhaps emotionally) inebriated or as we say, "When the wine goes in, the secrets come out!" Are they jumping on the bar, ripping it all off and saying and doing the inappropriate and profane or are they able to recognize their point of weakness and ask someone for a ride safely home. 

Purse--This is how a person handles money (and power). Materialism of people speaks volumes. Are they cheap, misery, and narcissistic or compassionate, caring, and giving to others.  

Anger--When a person is angry, this is often when their "true colors" show.  Do they get mean, bullying, abusive, and violent--do they go for the throat and the kill or are they situationally aware, measured, and do they listen, understand, and are they able to cope well when "under the gun."  

Focusing on the anger piece...

It's easy to get angry, and it's also easy to look for a scapegoat and let it out on people that really have nothing to do with why you're really angry. 

Maybe people can't always address their anger with the true source, maybe they don't even recognize their feelings fully, or have no idea how to safely release and reset.

In any case, anger is a dangerous emotion if not dealt with. 

Many mistakes are made that cannot be undone when people lose their cool (or sh*t, as now seems more commonly said). 

Thoughts on this...

Take a breath, slow down. 

Evaluate what's really going on

Think about whether it's truly the end of the world or not. 

Assess the options for coping with it. 

Look for ways to deescalate and resolve. 

If necessary, seek help from others.

Finally, where possible be compassionate and forgiving. 

And where not, cope, cope, cope--and survive another day!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 23, 2018

That Look On Their Face

So I love that look on people's face when I say something that just startles them or takes them back a little. 

The other day when I got a haircut, the barber lady was talking to me (BTW, she's a very nice person).

At one point, she says something about my hair being a little different on each side. 

So I blurt out something like:

"Well, that's because my brains are pushing it out!"

I got the funniest look from her...yes, it was priceless.

First, she's like right, of course, your brains are pushing out your hair!

Then, she looks at me, and I start smirking, and she gives me the big eyes and raised eyebrows, like a combination of that's funny and now don't be such a wise guy. 

Then, we both started laughing. 

I love that. 

I love doing that with people. 

Being alive. 

Getting a reaction. 

Making them wonder for a second. 

Getting them to smile and laugh. 

Maybe my brains are pushing my hair out!  ;-)

(Source Art: Sean M., 8th Grade Montgomery County and Photo by Andy Blumenthal)
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April 2, 2018

The Heart and Soul Of The Matter

So I had a beautiful conversation with an older gentleman who works in a menial job for minimum wage for most of his life. 

But this person was shinning and smiling ear-to-ear. 

What happened, he got offered a job to work in a lovely school as their cook. 

He's been doing this as a special treat for the students once a year, and they decided to bring him on to do this full time. 

He pulled out his phone and proudly showed me a picture of himself in the classroom surrounded by all the children.  He was in an orange sweater and stood out in the middle of all of them and with a smile that lit up the entire room. 

He told me how the children thought of him as a celebrity chef and the teacher even organized autographs by him for the children.

His whole life, he questioned his worth, and now he felt recognized, appreciated, and loved. 

I told him that I thought he was indeed quite a special person. 

He said to me, you may have a talent or be special, but you have to recognize it--and he repeated aloud again at least three times emphasizing more and more on RECOGNIZE it. 

Surely, after so many years, only now was he being recognized and more so, recognizing it himself. 

Apparently, someone who worked in the school was also a renown food critic, and she had nothing but praises to sing of him. 

Talking with him, I felt my eyes being opened. 

Everyone can do good with their lives and have worth. 

We have to recognize it in ourselves. 

We need to just be given an opportunity to show it and share it. 

It doesn't matter what you are or earn.

It matters where your heart is.

For many, they earn gazillions, but their heart is a heart of stone. 

For others, they may earn minimum wage, but their heart is a heart of gold. 

It's not the money, it's not the power, it's not the prestige...it's the heart and soul of the matter. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 5, 2018

Strong Coffee People

This was great when they drew this muscle guy on my coffee cup. 

Two arms and a big "A" in the middle.

Need to remain strong despite whatever life throws at us. 

So it's not just strong coffee or biceps!

But rather strong character, integrity, spirit, and faith that's really important. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with compliments to the artist)
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October 18, 2017

Character Building Day

So I really like this...

A friend told me that when they have a really tough day, they call it:
"A Character Building Day!"

I thought that was pretty astute. 

When people are up against the wall...

And they feel like they practically have their hands and legs tied...

And the world is spinning around them out of control...

And others are throwing tomatoes, darts, arrows, and all types of other sh*t their way...

- We can either just close our eyes, feel powerless, get upset and depressed, and basically give up

OR

- We can see the tough times as challenges--however great--to build our character.

Every situation is a learning and growth opportunity. 

Don't give in--Get up and fight.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger!

Yes, many days are character building days--it doesn't always feel good--often it feels horrible--but we can approach it with the right attitude and help shape our character and soul for the better.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 9, 2017

@Bethesda Trolley Trail


You can walk for miles...



It's quiet and green in a suburban setting.


Who's that dummy?



Lovers come out here too.


Some graffiti tells you there is still the big city of Washington, D.C. nearby.


A little surveillance---the "I's" have it!


ADT security plus some colorful wind adornments in front of the houses. 


Park is good, but only until sunset. 


Watch out, "old people" crossing (saw a deer too).


The whole trail runs between Rockville and Bethesda--see the French International School, The National Institute of Health, Suburban Hospital, houses, shopping, parks, and more. 


Try not to get too lost in the fun of it all.  ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 13, 2017

Live 4 Something

I was on the treadmill the other evening. 

On the TV was Sylvester Stallone in the movie, Rambo. 

Ah, some nice welcome action to take my mind off the exercise.

Some doctors and missionaries are trying to make their way to to Burma to help the helpless victims being slaughtered by the military warlord and his henchmen. 

Stallone knows the danger in going there, and at first, he ties to discourage them from going.

The beautiful and sincere women in the group convinces him to take them there...to try to make a difference in these people's lives who are suffering. 

Stallone takes to the lesson and incorporates it into his inner persona. 

And later he says:

"Live for something 

Or

Die for nothing!"

I thought this was a really good philosophy. 

THINK ABOUT IT: 

- We can choose to make our lives meaningful and impactful or to hide in the closet or under the bed and really accomplish nothing.

Our lives are a gift, given to us to do something good with--it's a sin to waste that gift and not do everything we can to be a good influence, help others, and make this a better world. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 17, 2017

Ooh That Is Good

Hey, congratulations to Roger Federer on winning his 19th tennis championship. 

It's an absolutely awesome level of athletic achievement and it's definitely something to celebrate. 

But when I saw this photo of him and his trophy in the paper this morning, it seemed over the top!

Whenever someone sets their mind to something, works really hard, and is thank G-d able to achieve it--that is something to be happy about and enormously grateful for. 

Hey, listen, I understand there are some real superstars out there and I respect them! 

However, seeing this guy clutching his trophy in both hands, smelling it, kissing it, and more...it looks to me more like idolatry than the pure, sweet smell of success. 

I get it--he worked super hard, achieved impossible things, and deserves to savor the incredible moment--no one is taking that away from him. 

Instead of that gold trophy, wouldn't you rather see him kissing his wife and children, thanking G-d (and his coach maybe), and saying things like how he will continue to use his success and earning to help others or maybe train the next generation of aspiring athletes. 

I applaud Federer more for his known philanthropy in helping disadvantaged children and doing charitable events for disaster victims than for winning his 19th championship (hey, 18 would've been fine too).  

In the end, self- (and trophy-) love and admiration is not the something to celebrate, but should instead point us back to character and using our strength and achievements to help others.

For what is really important in life, there is no earthly trophy for--and certainly not one worth any ultimate embrace. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via Wall Street Journal)
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July 5, 2017

Big Mouths Alert

So I took this photo in the Museum of Natural History. 

As you can see, this hippopotamus has quite a big mouth. 

He is also not alive and is behind a glass-enclosed case for viewing. 

To me this screams that those with big mouths often don't end up well. 

I remember a relative of mine used to bluntly call it, "being full of sh*t."

Whether these people are in politics, your neighborhood, bullies at work and school, or even those in the fake news media...they have become all to somewhat frequent.

Sure there are other animals with small mouths in the same situation, but the hippo truly is a decreasing and vulnerable species.

And like it's neighbor in the museum, the dinosaur--another one who has a big mouth--that ended up extinct, the prospects for talking big, but accomplishing little is sort of part of the character. 

The hippopotamus is mostly a herbivore--it has a big mouth and some big sharp teeth, but it mainly eats humble plants and doesn't pursue the hunt of the big game and eat lots of red meat. 

Listen, big mouths can still be highly dangerous--words are powerful and can do a lot of damage. 

But overall "talk is cheap," especially when people focus on words and not good deeds and who don't have the right intentions. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 15, 2017

Aging Is A Process

This guy was a hoot on the Metro in Washington, D.C. 

His shirt says:

"With age comes oldness."

Ah, yeah!

When he was sitting, he had his arms crossed over his chest, and I thought it said:


"With age, comes baldness."

That too!

Getting old is not easy.

Being young is not easy either. 

But it's really how you handle yourself during every stage and turn in life that defines who you are and what you become as an person and a creation of G-d. 

You've got to get up and walk the dance through thick and thin...life bring old age and oldness...what's the alternative. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 27, 2017

Courage To Do The Right Thing

So it takes courage to do the right thing. 

It's the easy way out to shut your eyes and overlook when things are wrong. 

Taking a stand and standing up for what's right often means fighting the good fight. 

But who wants to fight?

Everyone wants to live in peace and quiet. 

In fact, every day we pray repeatedly in the Amidah for peace

In the 19th prayer...
May it please you to bless your people Israel at all times and in every hour with your peace. Blessed are you, O Lord, who blesses his people Israel with peace.

Then again after the prayer for thanks...
Bestow peace, goodness and blessing, life, graciousness, kindness and mercy, upon us and upon all Your people Israel...May it be favorable in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel, at all times and at every moment, with Your peace.
And yet a third time at the end...
He who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
What can be more desired than peace and wellness in our lives?

Yet, when we see corruption, wrongdoing, and evil, people are called on the confront it, and stand up for good. 

Because when evil prevails, there is no real peace in the world. 

Hence, the courageous and righteous are called on to stand up based on integrity, merit, and values, and to work to return a state of justice and peace. 

G-d watches to see to it that good ultimately prevails over evil. 

May He who makes peace, make peace for us and all Israel, and let us say Amen. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 12, 2017

Tznius Police

So there is an important concept in Judaism as well as other religions of modesty for the sexes. 

This means appropriately covering up in dress and acting modestly. 

In Hebrew, we call it Tznius!

As kids, I remember the kids used to sing, "Tznius, don't show you knee-ius."

It seems like these days, "everything goes," where extreme sexuality in public and showing off is the rage. 

But as I remember the older generation saying, "Maybe some things are better left to the imagination."

That doesn't mean we need to be a bunch of prudes--inhibit or prohibit people from being who they are. 

Freedom means everyone is allowed and has a fundamental right to self-expression. 

But also, people that want to show more restraint and modesty can do that too. 

Perhaps, sometimes things in our society can get a little too superficial, where like and love is only skin deep. 

We forget the inner person and the soul in lieu of momentary pleasures of the flesh. 

I don't think we need the tznius police to come out and tell us what to do, but rather that we need to be consider people inside and out for what and who they really are. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 2, 2017

Communicate And Do Good In This World

This is a really good quote by Jay Danzie:
"Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark."

I heard someone else say it another way:
"The only way to read your audience is with eye contact and smiles."

Basically, it comes down to leaving people with a positive feeling through your interactions, and influencing others for the good. 

We have one chance to make a first impression--so yes, wow people with your smile, personality, integrity, and inspire them to do and speak good. 

If we all just say or do just one more good thing everyday, imagine that multiplied by 7.5 billion people. 

Now, multiply that by 365 days a years and you have 2.7 trillion more good things said and done in just a single year.

Imagine our Heavenly Father looking down at us with so much good in our souls' bank.

We can all be an influence for good--just think about it and go out and do it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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April 22, 2016

Attitudinal Fix

So attitude goes a long way in shaping how we do in life. 

For some people, the glass is half full, and for others it's half empty--it's of course, just how you look at it. 

One colleague told me this week: 

"Life is 10% what happens 
and 
90% how you react to it."


I suppose we see that with so many people who have unbelievable daunting challenges in life, yet somehow they manage to put on a smile or give a thumbs up regardless, and just do what they need to do--they are troopers, survivors, and generally people of incredible character and caliber. 

These are the heroes that we can look up to. 

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"--and the going refers to doing what needs to get done, and not running away from your duty scared or not knowing what to do. 


Need to be courageous, resourceful, loyal, and giving to others.  

Stop the whining, the crying, the self pity, the questioning "why me"--what will any of that help?

Fight, fight, fight--that's what we're here for. 

Until our last breath, we can still make a difference. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 25, 2015

The Chalkboard Car

This is a photo of a chalkboard car. 

And on the hood is written "Happy Memorial Day!"

On the side was a design in chalk and on the back even a peace sign. 

Wouldn't it be sort of funny if everyone had a car with handwritten messages on it (as long as they were kept clean and non-aggressive). 

A little entertainment, humor, how ya feeling today, and more. 

It's also nice when we don't take ourselves so seriously and can just have some kosher fun in life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 1, 2015

There You Are

So my niece forwarded this over, and I thought it was really worth sharing...

It's about how our lives are really a bunch of building blocks, and each thing we do contributes to the next step.

So we have to be careful all along the way to do the right thing--so we can achieve the results we want and can be proud of.

It goes like this:

"Watch you thoughts; they become words.

Watch you words; they become actions.

Watch you actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits, they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

Sometimes, we ask ourselves how we got to where we are today--almost as if we are surprised--but the reality is that most of the time, we are going through our lives inch by inch and step by step in an incremental and causal fashion. 

Yes sh*t happens--bad things (and good things), and they test and challenge us and take us to the next playing level.

But for the most part, we didn't just arrive at this moment out of the blue, but rather given what G-d has given us, we mold ourselves brick by brick....until there we are. ;-)

(Thank you to Chana Rivkah Herbsman and Minna Blumenthal)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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