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I think most of us understand that this country is in the midst of the most acute and chronic era of divisiveness since the Civil War. Too many of us are holed up in our respective silos. It’s us against them; my camp versus your camp. We’re right, you’re wrong. We know the truth, you’re idiots. People are no longer willing to look for common ground and discover what unites us. It’s easier and more emotionally satisfying to focus on what divides us.

Some 90 years ago, General George Patton wrote, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” And, he should know. It’s that very reluctance to think for ourselves that paved the way for Hitler and Stalin and Castro and Mussolini and all the other egomaniacal opportunists. …


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Most of us harbor a self-critic in the Amygdala of our brain. It operates on a continuum ranging from selective and reserved to vocal and harsh. While a modicum of self-criticism is necessary and probably desirable, too many of us take it to the extreme.

The genesis often occurs in childhood when we get the message we’re not good enough. No matter what we do, it’s not enough. We’re not enough. Sometimes that message is overt, like a punch in the face. Maybe you struck out in a Little League game and your coach angrily chastised you in front of your teammates. Maybe a parent told you — point blank — you’re a worthless piece of crap and will never amount to anything. And, those examples are just for starters. …


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“Take nothing for granted. It’s great to be alive.” I’ve heard those words uttered by Chicago disk jockey Lin Brehmer dozens of times. The phrase has been his mantra for years. And, every time I’d hear it I’d tell myself he’s absolutely right. We have all taken so much for granted every day of our lives. Too often it takes some sort of crisis or an all-out cataclysm to get our attention. Sadly, sometimes we have to lose something to finally get the message.

We’ve all taken the people in our lives for granted: family members, friends, partners, colleagues, waiters, bartenders, clerks, first responders, and most certainly medical professionals. We’ve taken our freedom for granted. Who could have imagined being stymied from going to a restaurant or bar, the lakefront trail, or the mall? …


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Why is it that so many of us look to assign blame when the shit hits the fan? Everything has to be somebody’s fault: our boss, our parents, our sibling, our spouse, the yahoo down the street, politicians, the media, God. Tragedy is part of life. It happens every day. Sometimes there’s an obvious villain to blame, but often there is not. Fault cannot always be assigned. There’s no simple answer and sometimes no answer at all. But, because we are hurt and angry we demand accountability from someone — anyone. …


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Tim Green played for the NFL Atlanta Falcons for 8 seasons.

I met Tim Green in 1982. He was a freshman football player at Syracuse University. I was a young TV sportscaster covering his ascent to stardom. We became friends.

This past weekend, 37 years later, Tim’s number 72 was retired and raised to the rafters at his alma mater. Tim developed into an All-American football player, Rhodes Scholar, NFL star, network TV personality, lawyer, business executive, and prodigious author.

He also became a husband and father. I attended his wedding, which seems like a million years ago. …


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The author poses on the campus of Northeastern Illinois University.

It’s incredibly difficult to fathom, but I’m just seven months away from my 65th birthday. Holy shit! Some of my same-aged friends are at this very moment planning for imminent retirements. Others have already stepped away from their respective vocational rat races. But not me.

I guess I always have been my own person; different, contrary, obstinate. I’ve often taken a less-followed path than friends and colleagues. So, as I approach the time-honored age of Medicare, I’m staring through the weeds at a hazy, sun-kissed horizon. …


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Have you gone shopping for a Father’s Day card? If so, you’ve undoubtedly seen dozens of greetings that state, in essence, I am who I am today because of you, Dad. The verse inside may use words like love, acceptance, guidance, caring, kindness, role model, and hero.

But, what if one of those sentiments isn’t quite right for your dad? Odds are you can’t find a card inscribed with the words: You’re my father so I feel obliged to get you a card, but you really were (are) an asshole!

Fathers are indeed imperfect human beings. Some are far more imperfect than others. Yes, they are the patriarchs of their families and, according to long-held cultural beliefs, the heads of their households. …


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The 1997 movie Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite films for a number of reasons. Each of the main characters is deeply flawed, lonely, fearful, and trying desperately to mask the pain that envelops them.

Among the numerous powerful and poignant scenes in the film is a breakthrough moment in the relationship between psychologist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) and his patient; the troubled, underachieving genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon).

We learn in the scene that both patient and therapist survived horrific child abuse. Eventually, Sean says to Will, “Sport, it’s not your fault.” Will plays the macho card and replies, “Yeah, I know.” But Sean persists, repeating, “it’s not your fault.” Will is cocky and grows annoyed, even agitated, but Sean doesn’t back off. …


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I am sick to death of religious hypocrisy. It’s a widespread, ever-burgeoning malady that infects our relationships, communities, institutions, politics, and even our families.

I first experienced this ungodly paradox while attending a parochial elementary school in the Midwest. A cadre of old ladies, mostly widows I assume, were regulars at daily Mass. And without fail, this group of lonely, bored biddies would gather in front of the church after Mass and gab. …


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“Don’t be afraid of change. You may lose something good, but you may gain something better.” Unknown

Making a life-changing decision is seldom simple. It’s not as stark as choosing between black and white. Our palette is usually somewhere on a spectrum in a myriad of gray. There are rarely win-win solutions. That’s a myth. Too often there’s a price to pay, a sacrifice to make, or a disappointment to swallow. Sometimes there are no good options, only the lesser of evils.

If other people are involved in the decision, feelings of love, loyalty, respect, anger, hurt, shame, and guilt complicate the process. What’s right or best for the decision maker, may not be what’s best for others who are nonetheless affected by the decision that is rendered. …

About

Roger M. Cahak

I cultivate and correlate human stories.

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