Thursday, September 29, 2016

Problem Solving–Overcomplicating The Solution

Problem-solving becomes a very important part of our makeup as we grow into maturity or move up the corporate ladder. - Zig Ziglar

If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions. - Albert Einstein

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day when I observed a family arguing over a Rubik’s Cube, the novel toy that was a huge hit in the 1980’s and which continues to be popular today.

The father was telling his son, who I would estimate to be about 10 or 12 years old, that the toy was practically unsolvable because it had “billions of combinations”.  Meanwhile, his wife was arguing with her husband that he should leave the boy alone and the son stared at the toy in silence.

After listening to everyone condemn each other for about 10 minutes I walked over to the table, pointed to the toy and asked “May I?”.

The father shrugged and handed me the cube.

“Don’t worry about the number of permutations”, I said to the boy, “You only have a few problems to solve.”

With that, I showed him how to form a cross on one side of the cube, place the corners on the same side, place the edges of the middle layer in the correct locations, position the edges on the final side, complete the corners on the final side and then align the last of the pieces of the final side.  The algorithms for each step are simple and the boy absorbed them quickly.

I mixed up the cube and handed it back to him.  I guided him through each step and he solved the cube in less than 5 minutes.  I mixed the cube up again and he solved it on his own in less than 3 minutes.

He was quite pleased with himself and when I left the table, his mother was mixing up the cube and admiring her son as he solved it repeatedly.  The father said nothing as he watched this interaction.

When the family got up to leave, the young boy waved at me, smiled and said thanks as he and his mother left the coffee shop.

The father came over to me and appeared to be angry with me.

“You ruined a perfectly good toy with what you showed my son”, he said.

“I respectfully disagree”, I replied, “You were teaching him that problems may be larger than they appear and that in many such cases, they are unsolvable or that he isn’t smart enough to solve them.  I taught your son to break a seemingly complex problem into smaller chunks and that by solving each chunk, each of which is exponentially smaller than the overall problem, that the problem as a whole can be solved relatively easily.  This is a lesson I hope he applies to other things as he gets older.”

“And besides”, I said, “It appears that he is enjoying the toy much more now.  If he never learns how to solve it, eventually he will cheat, break it apart and reassemble it as solved.  Cheating is not the way to victory and is rarely accepted in the adult world.”

“I disagree”, he said, still glowering at me, “although I already caught him taking it apart and putting it back together.”

“There you go”, I said to him, “And by the way, the next time you watch your son solve the cube, remember that there are in fact over 43 quintillion permutations to the cube.  Think about that when he solves it.”

The father grunted and walked out.

I’m not sure who needed a lesson more – the son in chunking down the problem into manageable pieces or the father who was teaching his son that easily solvable problems appear to be far greater in size and complexity than they actually are and that giving up is a viable option when the solution is at hand.

The Bottom Line

As a long Wall St. strategy guy and large-scale architect, myself and teams I work with often face projects whose scope and complexity are far too complex for the average mortal man to comprehend, let alone create solutions for.

However, solving a group of smaller problems is far simpler and in fact, is the only way to produce a solution that works for the overall problem.

In our haste to solve problems in Life, we often forget this and set about solving “the big problem” only to be frustrated or completely overwhelmed by it.

Do you have a problem that you are trying to solve, whether it be in business, in relationships or anything else or do you know someone who has such a problem?

Do you or they see the problem as an insurmountable one with too many nuances and complexities or are you / they able to break it down into sizable chunks that are much easier to understand and solve?

Remembering to do this and knowing how without focusing on how complex the overall problem is will mean the difference between solving it or being eaten alive by it.

Even if it has 45 quintillion permutations.

In service and servanthood,


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Defining Your Purpose–The Certainty of Uncertainty

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth's loveliness. - Michelangelo

I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we're all teachers - if we're willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door. - Marla Gibbs

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …

Geri crawled into bed next to Will.  It had been a busy but fruitful, fulfilling day.  She kissed Will and snuggled lovingly into him.  Sleep came fast and easy for her …..

…. and then she awoke with a start.

She was no longer in her bed but sitting in a chair in a darkened, softly lit room empty of anything but the comfortable chair she found herself in.

She looked frantically for Will but he was nowhere to be found and for a moment, panic began to seize her.

A voice from nowhere, everywhere and within her spoke softly and gently to her.  “There is nothing to fear here, Geri”, it said kindly.

The voice paused for a moment before continuing.

“Before you move on in your journey, it is normal that your journey-to-date be reviewed.  Hopefully you will find the review to be useful”, the voice said.

Images appeared around Geri, movies floating in the air about her.  She recognized them all.  It was her Life in all of its early struggle.  One moment she was observing being bullied in school, another time she saw abuse at the hands of someone who sought to relieve his pain by pushing it on her.  She watched her younger self struggle with her career and a Life of personal difficulty.  Years of frustration, unanswered prayers and a sense of being lost in Purpose were replayed and she felt painful, all-too-familiar emotions welling up inside her as she remembered those days.

“How do you know this?”, Geri asked in bewilderment.

“This is not the time for questions”, replied the voice, “Observe.”

Geri watched the movies in silence, tears rolling down her cheeks.  Small, personal victories and moments of happiness were interspersed with long stretches of difficulty.  She relived her feelings of fear, failure and a strong sense of unworthiness that she had experienced then.

And then the movies disappeared.

Geri sat in silence, digesting what she had just watched.

“This was your Life story”, the voice said.

She cleared her throat and spoke.

“That wasn’t my whole story”, she said quietly.

“True”, replied the voice, “We spent a long time preparing you for your real story.  Sometimes, difficult things were sent your way to prepare you for your Purpose.  Other times we sent gifts to you in the form of opportunity but you resisted them, choosing the difficult path when an easier one was available.  Some lessons were necessary.  Some were voluntary on your part.  All of them were important.”

The voice paused.

“Observe”, it said.

Another movie appeared.  It showed a meeting she had had with a long time friend many years ago.  They were talking about her struggles as they had done in the past and he was encouraging her to stop being fixated on what had gone wrong in her Life. He implored her to see her difficulties as preparation for something greater and to allow herself to be guided towards her real calling instead of driving towards what she believed that calling to be.  He was reading to her from his Bible, quoting Ecclesiastes  3:1-11 and how everything mattered in its own time.  The time had come to use her talents and gifts in the way she was meant to and not in the way she thought she was supposed to, he had implored.

“I remember this meeting”, Geri said, “Hank was telling me something I already knew.”

“Perhaps”, replied the voice, “Hank, or Gabriel as we know him, was telling you something important that you had ignored for your entire adult Life.  So while you claim to have known this all along, it was your failure to take any action that kept you trapped in the Life that you hated.  Gabriel’s task when you met him that day was to get you to think differently.  Do you remember what happened after that meeting?”

“Yes”, Geri replied, “Will and I decided to trust our instinct more.  I gave up on my dreams of running a big, fancy, impactful company and we settled on a bed and breakfast that we had had our eye on for some time.  It was kind of a silly dream I guess but I always like it was something that kept calling me and so we gave in to the feeling and followed it.”

“A silly dream?”, asked the voice, “Observe.”

Movies again began to play in the air around her.  One movie showed a successful artist proudly exhibiting his art to an admiring audience in a large art gallery.  Another movie showed a couple lying on a beach, intertwined in each other as they watched the sun go down.  In another, a young man was saying goodbye to his father as he lay dying in a hospital bed.

Other movies played all around her.

“Who are these people?”, Geri asked as she watched them all in awe and bewilderment.

“The young artist stayed at your bed and breakfast when he was struggling to find his way in his vocation.”, replied the voice, “The couple were experiencing the death throes of their marriage when they decided to give it one last try by spending a romantic weekend at that same bed and breakfast.  The other young man and his father had become estranged over the years and had decided that it was important that they reconnect and they did so at your bed and breakfast shortly before his father died.”

The voice paused for a moment.

“All of these people were struggling.  Their lives changed when they met the owners of the bed and breakfast.  As their Life Journey took them through your bed and breakfast, they were transformed.”

The voice paused again before continuing.

“As were you and Will”, it said gently.

“I don’t understand”, said Geri quietly.

“We spent your entire Life preparing you for your real Purpose.  You fought us and resisted us the whole way.  When you finally acquiesced, the Purpose we had for you was allowed to come to fruition.  You wanted to serve people but you kept getting in your own way.  Impactful service was much easier to achieve and closer at hand than you realized.”

Geri sat in silence, tears once again rolling down her cheeks.

“I didn’t know”, she said quietly.

“Nor were you meant to”, replied the voice, “You would have attempted too many shortcuts had you known.  Human beings cheat if they know the answers in advance.”

“What about Will?”, she asked, “Where is he?  Can I see him?”

“He still has a small part of his Calling remaining”, replied the voice, “You will see him soon.”

There was a moment of silence.

“You once had someone important that you lost”, said the voice gently, “Tell me about her.”

Geri choked down the sobs that wanted to well up within her and she looked down at the floor.

“My mother was everything”, she said, “When she died, I felt like I had lost my champion.”

“What would you tell your mother if you could speak to her right now?”, asked the voice, “What do you think your Champion would tell you about all of the people whose lives were changed when they met you and Will at your bed and breakfast?”

Geri shook her head for a moment and then looked up to answer the question.

As she did so, she was stunned to see her mother standing in front of her.  Behind her, others stood, people that she had recognized as having helped her over the years or whom she had helped.

She opened her mouth to speak …..

To be continued.

© 2016 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


This blog post is a long distance dedication to someone I can not identify.

Perhaps the person is you.

You know what it means.

Someone is waiting for you.

What are you waiting for?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy advisor and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” (note the quotes) and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Self Discipline: Shaving, Life and Attention to Details

Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today's actions to tomorrow's results. There's a season for sowing, a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which. - Gary Ryan Blair

In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves... self-discipline with all of them came first. - Harry S Truman

Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted, the leader must be doubly vigilant. - Colin Powell

I was relaxing during a break in a meeting recently when I noticed that one of the attendees was staring at my face intently.

Assuming that I had food or something stuck to my face, I asked him what he was looking at and he replied, “I’m sorry for staring, but I know you have a thick, coarse beard and yet your face is always shaved so clean and smooth.  How do you do that?”

I thought this was a prelude to a joke and so I stared at him for a moment before he realized he had said something potentially awkward and he quickly followed up with, “I’m serious.  How do you get your shave so close?”

While guys aren’t generally ones to share the intimate details of their personal grooming routines, I shared my shaving regimen with him.  Here it is – bear with me a moment:

  1. As I shower, my shaving brush soaks in distilled water in my shaving mug (the local city water is too hard for a nice shave) while a wet towel cools down in the freezer.
  2. After my shower, I choose a double edge razor / blade combination or my straight razor for the particular type of shave I want and how aggressive (close) I want the the shave to be.
  3. I apply pre-shave oil or lotion to my beard.
  4. While the pre-shave oil softens my beard, I choose a shaving cream that matches my need for the morning (level of closeness, fragrance, etc.) and I whip up a batch in my shaving mug.  I don’t use stuff that comes in a can – it is not effective or healthy.
  5. I shave in three passes, with the beard grain, across the grain and against the grain, applying shaving cream for each pass.
  6. I rinse off the shaving cream residue left on my face and apply the ice cold towel to my face for a couple of minutes.
  7. I remove the towel and clean my shaving mug, brush and razor carefully.  If this is the third shave on a particular blade, I disassemble the razor, dispose of the blade in a sharps container and polish the razor before putting it back in its stand.
  8. I wet my face again and apply alum block, a form of salt that closes pores and reduces potential for ingrown hairs.
  9. After a few minutes, I wash off the salt, reapply the cold towel for a couple of minutes and then apply a high quality, alcohol free, aftershave balm.

After I finished explaining my morning routine, he said “Wow, that is WAY too much effort for a shave.  Give me my Mach 3 cartridge and a can of Barbasol any day.  Five minutes is all I need.”

“That may be so”, I replied, “but the quality of my result caught your attention enough for you to ask me how I accomplished it.  My morning routine is alone time for me – I reflect on my day, I focus on what I need to do and I pamper myself.  In short, I am honoring who I am and what I can create today ….. and I am worth it.  It sets a tone for attention to detail and effort that will matter at different times during the day.”

“That’s true”, he said, acknowledging the point.  A couple of weeks later, he sent me a picture of his new double-edge razor, shaving brush and all the other accoutrements necessary for a quality shave.

“I’m worth it”, read the caption underneath the photo with a smiley that followed it.

A shave that takes 20-30 minutes to take is not for everyone.  Some may even say it is over-indulgent.  To them, it’s like taking 15 minutes to figure out who makes the best kind of baked beans when they are mostly the same in content, flavor and quality.

I would posit that this is different.  I don’t get caught up in the minutiae of everything in Life.  In fact, in a lot of things, the details of something don’t matter to me as long as I know competent people are creating solutions and results.  I don’t micromanage people nor do I spent time, energy and money on what doesn’t matter or doesn’t warrant extra resources on my part.

But some things are worth slowing down for, savoring and doing right if you’re going to bother doing it at all.  Things like career choices, partner choices, election choices, business choices, etc., are things that too many people make cavalierly as if they are buying a can of baked beans

These are the things that have the potential to change lives and the world and so attention to details for such things that matter is worth it.

My shave sets the tempo for my day and therefore influences how my day will flow.

And if how my day starts determines the quality of my result for the day, why wouldn’t I want that start to be of the highest quality possible?

After all, my results are worth it …. the results for myself and the results for the people who rely on me or who are influenced by me.

The Bottom Line

Attention to excellence and self-discipline is a habit.

So is failure and mediocrity.

If we think of excellence and self-discipline as a muscle, we realize we need to work it every day for it to get stronger.

Every choice not to make our results stronger has the potential to make our results weaker.  If we accept mediocrity in the little things, we eventually accept it in all things.

Who amongst us actually sets out to create a lousy day for ourselves and others?

Do you?

I didn’t think so.

Now, how do your actions demonstrate your words and intentions to creating the best result possible in your day?

I think the little things add up to the big things.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,


PS Just for fun, here is what my preferred shaving stuff looks like (I’ve tried a lot of stuff that I won’t bother mentioning):

One doesn’t just go grab a pile of stuff from Amazon unless you are experienced in the space.  One needs expert advice – when I need such advice, I turn to Nathan, Doug and the great folks at Kent of Inglewood in Calgary.

Preferred shaving creams / soaps:

  • Castle Forbes Cedar / Sandalwood Cream
  • DR Harris Arlington Cream
  • Truefitt and Hill 1805 Shaving Soap (the official soap of the British Royal Family)
  • L’Occitane CADE Cream
  • eShave Orange Sandlewood Cream
  • Kiehl's Lite Flite Shaving Cream (smell won't appeal to everyone)
  • Pro Raso Soap (Red and Green varieties - surprisingly good for the price)

Preferred Preshave Oils / Lotions

  • Castle Forbes Preshave Lotion
  • Taylor Aromatherapy Oil
  • L’Occitane CADE Preshave Oil
  • Pro Raso Preshave Cream (again, surprisingly good for the price)
  • eShave Orange Sandlewood Oil
  • DR Harris Arlington Preshave Splash

Preferred After Shave Balms:

  • Castle Forbes Lavender Balm
  • eShave Orange Sandlewood Balm
  • Kiehl's Close-Shavers Squadron Post-Shave Repair Gel
  • Pro Raso Preshave Cream (yup - as a post-shave)
  • L’Occitane CADE Balm

Preferred Razors and Blades

  • Edwin Jagger Briarwood Razor
  • Merkur 38C (HD) Razor
  • Merkur 46C Travel Razor
  • Merkur Futur
  • IKON X3 Slant
  • Feather DX Folding Wood Handle Razor (straight razor – not for the faint of heart, the shaky of hand or where kids are likely to bump your arm or find it while you are out of the house)
  • Blades – Feather, Kai, Personna and Shark are my favorites but I’ve tried a bazillion.

Preferred Brushes

  • Muhle Edition No. 1
  • Edwin Jagger Travel Brush in Chrome Case

And yes ... I do match my cologne to my shave scent (I won't get into that here)!  And no ... I'm not high maintenance - I pay attention to details!

A New Entry to My Favorite Product List - Midnight and Two

A company that came to my attention after I wrote this post is a company called Midnight and Two in Calgary, Alberta.  I met with Tim Gutwald, founder and owner, and found his approach to creating high quality grooming products to be innovative and intelligent.  While I haven't tried all of their products, this smart company has produced one of the most intriguing shaving products I have ever tried.  The 4-in-1 line of shaving creams, which can be used as a pre-shave, a shaving cream, a post-shave and a moisturizer, provides me with the closest shave I have ever had.  I would highly recommend these products as products that hold their own against any of the larger, older, international brands!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Significance of the Insignificant

Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys. - Emma Bull

Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous. - Albert Einstein

In the middle of a hectic business schedule and planning out a cross-country move, I received this email yesterday from a long time friend whom I will identify as L.M.  L.M. wrote to me after reading one of my posts about 9/11 where I remembered common friends of ours, specifically Narender Nath and Eric Bennett, who were both lost on 9/11.

I am a survivor of 9/11.  I woke up that day with a terrible headache that day that made me 15 minutes late for the ferry. I watched the smoke rise from Tower 1 and stood on the deck of the Ferry and watched as the second plane flying so low we could see people in the windows fly up the length of the tower 2 and fly into the building.

Those 15 minutes saved me. I would have been in the elevator going to my assignment somewhere in a conference room on one of those floors blown out by the plane.

I was doing some strategy work for Lehman at the time through Cap.

I read what you wrote about Narender and I remember Eric's happy smile and I think we survived for them. To give them light.

I only hope we do them justice.


Despite a hectic, complicated schedule, this email caused me to stop and reflect on my years on Wall St. as I do from time to time, remembering the great people I have been blessed to work with there.

I started telling the person sitting next to me about some of those people and I bombarded the person with funny stories.  As I told the stories, I named a specific individual and I paused.  His initials are also L.M. (curiously enough) and doesn’t know the L.M. who wrote to me.

Suddenly I felt the need to reach out to him even though I haven’t seen him in 10 years, decided to call him the next day and then realized I needed to call him now.

Caller ID on L.M.’s phone ruined my surprise call to him and we reconnected effortlessly as is often the case with people who are connected on deeper levels than one can often explain or describe.  He said something that I hear frequently when I feel compelled to call someone – “I was just thinking about you. I can’t believe you are calling me at this moment.”


I don’t think so.

We caught up quickly and then he said something that struck me.

L.M. told me he had just finished a job interview with a prospective employer in N.Y. and interestingly enough, the group he was hoping to work with was being run by a well-known, highly respected man that I know well.

When I worked with L.M. over 20 years ago, the young man who is now running the group that L.M. hopes to join had joined us as a quiet, thoughtful, brilliant new addition to the IT industry.  Myself and a colleague named Bill were assigned to mentor him and as L.M. and I joked yesterday, anyone assigned to Bill and I quickly had any shyness or quietness “beat out of the them” while retaining a respectful, intelligent approach to problems and people.

And now a circle has the potential to be closed as L.M., a brilliant, sensitive, compassionate man in his own right has the opportunity to “close a circle” by working for the man I mentored so long ago.

As we discussed this odd “coincidence” yesterday, L.M. said something else that moved me deeply.  His wife had died in 1996 and he said that my support and guidance then had helped carry him and prevent him from doing something stupid.  I didn’t know my impact on him then until yesterday.

All these years later, L.M. once again found himself in a difficult place that he has an opportunity to lift himself from if he secures this opportunity with the man whom I mentored.

L.M. said to me, “That’s twice your influence has appeared in my Life when darkness was present.  This call has lifted me into the stratosphere.  There is no way this is a coincidence that I have this opportunity to work for someone you mentored and that you are calling me just as the opportunity has appeared.“

We chatted for a while and after we hung up, I sat back and reflected on what I had just experienced.

Twenty plus years ago, he was one of many clients and the man he hopes to work for was one of many colleagues.  At the time, I wasn’t thinking that my day-to-day actions would mean anything for either one of them.  After all, in the busy world that many of us live in, we often don’t realize what a powerful impact (good or bad) we are having on people until we get reminders like the one that I received yesterday.

More than twenty years later, a man whom I admire immensely has an opportunity to work with another man whom I admire immensely, two men whom I have influenced in ways that at the time seemed unimportant.

But they are important to L.M. right now.

L.M. and I talked about God’s providence versus coincidence.

If I were to calculate the probability of the “coincidences” that L.M. and I were talking about, I would no doubt come to a realization that such an event couldn’t happen.

But it did.

How do you explain that?

And so I am reminded of how profound the impact of simple actions can be and that greater things are at work in our Lives than we can understand.

By the same token, the first L.M. who started this whole process yesterday by writing a simple email to me created a profound moment for the second L.M. and myself.  I doubt the first L.M. had any idea that their email would have launched the moments that subsequently unfolded.


I don’t think so.

What do you think?

It reminds me to be more in the moment because we rarely know what impact we are having and more times than not, will never know.

Unless we have reminders like the one I received yesterday.

Are you cognizant of the impact you are having as you make your way through your busy Life?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

It matters.

Create a great day for yourself and others, because merely having one is too passive an experience.

You are not just creating a great day!

You are creating the potential for a great future.

In service and servanthood,


Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 and Lessons Still Not Learned (A Repost)

History teaches us that history teaches us nothing. – Hegel

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history. - Aldous Huxley

[This post was originally posted on September 11, 2014 as “9/11 And Lessons Not Learned”.  The original post is reposted here in its entirety.]

As 9/11 approaches and we remember the 13th anniversary of the heinous acts that were carried out on that fateful day, I have decided that my annual musing honoring this day ends with this post.

Like many who lived and worked in the area on 9/11, I take time on September 11 to sit in quiet contemplation and remember the 15 friends I lost on that day, especially Narender Nath, Eric Bennett and Stephen Fiorelli who all died in the WTC and my neighbour's brother, Edward Felt, who was killed on Flight 93.

When we take time to remember and honor those who were lost, whether it be on 9/11 or all those in service to our nation in the form of the military, police, firefighters, EMS and other first responders, we do so to not only remember who they were and what they represented but also with the hope that their loss was not in vain.

However, as we once again bomb a new enemy in Iraq 13 years later, as we test the limits of Russia (and they test ours) in the Ukraine and as we face unprecedented exposure and threat to our safety and national security via cyber attack (amongst other concerns), I can’t help but think that their losses were indeed in vain.

13 years later, we have not learned a damned thing.

Why should we have?  We are creatures of habit and often are unable to change our behaviour until our backs are against the wall.  To expect us to make changes to our culture and behavior merely because of one event, even one as shocking as 9/11, is to ignore a basic understanding of what motivates a human being to action and to ignore thousands of years of history.

Unfortunately, the next time our backs are against the wall, what we face may be too large to stare down or to overcome with human perseverance, ingenuity or whatever else politicians like to offer as empty praise when we overcome a tragedy born of their abuse of power, incompetence, laziness, denial, greed, fear or lack of transparency / accountability.

And while there is MUCH beauty in the world and GREAT stories of overcoming, it is offset by the potential for great threat to our well-being on national and international levels.

It’s important to celebrate what is right in the world and to highlight those who make the world a better place.

But people in my line of work have to keep an eye on the stupid, the ignorant, the criminal and the misinformed who would rather our world not reach its ultimate positive potential.

After all, it only takes one stupid act by a small group of people (elected or not) to wipe out all of the combined great deeds, works of inspiration and the great potential that humanity represents.

The Bottom Line

Just as with 9/11, the threats to our safety are real despite the incredible beauty in our world. Our ability to be informed citizens so as to be able to respond to such threats or protect ourselves from them is insufficient for our needs for a variety of reasons - some valid, some not.  To pretend that the world is only filled with beauty and that peace and love overcome everything (with no other action required) are the beliefs of the misinformed.

And so when I think of the friends I lost and I look at what we are doing 13 years later, I don’t think our actions are honoring them.

In fact, I think our actions are disgracing them, suggesting that their loss was indeed in vain – a tragic, unnecessary loss of Life that is doomed to be repeated for an as-yet unsuspecting, unknowing group of victims.

And when it happens, we will act surprised, shocked and outraged yet again and then we will return to our normal programming.

I think there is a more honorable way to acknowledge the loss of those during 9/11 and it isn’t with pithy writings, emotional memorials, tear-laden get-togethers, shouts reminiscent of “Remember the Alamo” and the like while we continue to sow the seeds that created events like 9/11 in the first place.

It’s with action that truly produces a safer world for our children and not action that guarantees to recreate that which we have already suffered.

It’s with public accountability regarding those in power, elected or not.

It’s with standing up for what we believe is right while we still have something to stand up for and not waiting for someone else to fix it for us.

Otherwise we end up merely proving the old adage:

History is written by the survivors. – Yale Book of Quotations

Hopefully you are one of them.

What do you think?

How badly do you want a better world for your children?

Good – what are you waiting for?

In service and servanthood and in memory of those who were lost on 9/11 or in service to their nation.


PS (added September 11, 2015) Many of us who were in NYC on 9/11 and who lost friends, relatives and loved ones on that day may wander off in silence on occasion today, we may tell you a story we've told you a thousand times or we may still mist up all these years later. We may tell a funny story, we may cry or we may be angry. It's ok and we're ok - just humor us a little and let us have our moment. You don't have to say anything - just being there matters.

Related posts:

Addendum – Narender Nath - September 11, 2015

I receive many emails about Narender through the years, from family, friends and people who have been made aware of him. For those who may have noticed, he touched me profoundly and as a result, I have written about him many times.  Here are other blog posts (in no particular order) that I have written where I describe Narender’s impact on myself and others.

Addendum 2 – What Have We Really Learned? – September 15, 2015

Articles like these two reinforce (at least to me) that we have learned very little over the years:

Addendum 3 – Making Jokes from 9/11 - September 11, 2016

Watching an ad by a mattress company where they made fun of the tragedy of that day demonstrates that not only have we not learned anything but that we don't know how to be sensitive to others whose lives were changed forever on that day. The company that launched that ad has since shut down as noted here.

Will we ever learn?