Never Give Up! Reaching Our Potential

Community Education Environment Health and Wholeness Personal Development Relationships What Your Father Should Have Taught You

As a Drill Sergeant I found that everyone is capable of doing more than they think they can. We all have weakness and times we want to give up but giving up can become a bad habit. Giving in to your bodies weakness, pain, or grumbling can become so much of a habit that you never reach your full potential in life. As creatures that are simultaneously embodied, spiritual, and cerebral we must integrate all and transcend what we are to realize our full potential. It starts with attitude individually and ends with being a responsible player in a larger society.

Welcome Freedom Troopers to another installment of What Your Father Should Have Taught You. In our lives we have the most important gift of all and that is the gift of life. We could do nothing without it! It is life that allows us to grow and become the person that we were intended to be; to find our place in society and to move forward in freedom. We all have the most important freedom of all and that is to be free to become the absolute best person that we can be. That was always my favorite Army recruiting slogan, “Be ALL that YOU can BE!” That is, in my mind, the great secret of life that everyone is looking for. Don’t be all that Alexander the Great could be. Don’t be all that Martin Luther King Jr. Could be. But be ALL that YOU can BE! Arise and face life to the fullest and be the best you that you can be.

I used to lament that my dad didn’t take me hunting like he had my brothers but my dad was much more settled by the time I came along and I actually got more time with him than my siblings ever did. My siblings were jealous because I got things they couldn’t afford in the early days when things were lean. Instead, I see videos today of people whining because they can’t have all of the comforts of their parent’s home just “out of the chute” and beginning life! I even know kids where their parents have bought and pays for their homes and ensures they have no real wants. What are they going to do when the parents die? Parents do that you know. As I told my sons, “My job is to make sure you can make it along fine after I die. If you cannot do that. I have failed at my job as a parent.” You graduate when you can get a house and start a family of your own. That’s when the training wheels of life come off.

Perhaps that is why if parents are too nice, or too accepting of a child’s will to quit – or even their own will to give in and we can never accomplish what we could have if we hadn’t given into our doubts or weakness. We have to reach into the darkness of who we can become to transcend the person that we are. Perhaps that is why the jails are full of kids raised by single mothers. Not all mothers mind you but too many. The mother is who we go to for love and nurture…a place to hide and recover from the world. The dad kicks us in the but and keeps us moving. I remember my mom saying, “Just wait till your father gets home.” That got our attention.

My father was part of the World War II generation. He joined the army and went to the Pacific Theater along with many other men and women. I was born late in his life. My older brother was born premature and in the 1950s it was much more perilous than it is now. After that, my mother miscarried another child and the doctor had told him and mom that it was too late for her to have any more children. They decided they would just have the three…and then I showed up in the 1960s. We never know what the universe has for us and we need to just embrace life and move forward and that’s hard to do if we are just looking at the obstacles. One step at a time. One rung of the ladder higher…just keep moving.

My Dad always worked. When I was a toddler every memory I have of my father was in the late evening or so early in the morning it was dark. He was gone when we got up and gone when it was time for bed. My mom would get us up so we could have a few minutes with him while he was working, sometimes for 10 cents an hour, to move forward. When I was still in a high chair I remember mom waking me up to see my Dad. It was early and he was getting ready for work but she wanted to make sure we had some time together. He worked from before dawn to late at night. When our town flooded every spring he and the other men of the town would fall out and frantically build barriers of sandbags to keep our homes from flooding (when I was a teen the finally dug that creek our deep enough that it wouldn’t flood.)

If things were really going well he would bring home a bucket of Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken or sandwiches from Tastee Drive in on Saturday. That would be the highest of treats we could expect, that and Dad actually being home on a Saturday afternoon and evening. Mom later told me that during that time in life she would fry pork chops and we would have meat one day and then she would make gravy from the drippings and fat that she put over bread the next because we couldn’t afford meat every day. I remember those days in snippets but I had no idea that things were tough. My snippets of memory when I was a wee lad were almost all happy, except for one.

I remember standing next to my father who was in his rocking chair with his pipe and wearing his riding boots and he was crying, my father never cried, and I patted his leg and asked “why?” He said that a great man had died. I was much older when I connected that memory to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was also much older when I found out that most people cannot remember that far back into their lives. But now, in my later years I am pleased that I had the wisdom of parents who not only went through World War II but also the depression to help me realize that, however bad we think it is it was much worst in the past.

I remember a Facebook post, “my husband said he was sorry he brought kids into this world.” What, a world where our trouble is obesity rather than starvation? Would he have been happier in the midst of World War II or in the Cold War when we all thought we could wake up to a nuclear war any day or hour? How about during the Napoleonic Wars or famines of the past? The Dark Ages when Europe burned from raids and violence or died by plague?

Why do the present generations think about quitting so much? Because their parents didn’t teach them to fight and keep moving forward…even when they don’t feel like it or see an easy way out. The only time there are no options is after you are dead. Any other time there are always options.

My father never quit. I don’t remember him getting sick except a couple times. And for him sick was “so sick I cannot even get out of bed except to throw up.” It never occurred to him to stop. There was work to be done and it was his responsibility. He encouraged me to not give up and to do my work before play. Make sure my responsibilities were met. We all have the abilities to meet the challenges of our present age. But to meet them and move into the future we musn’t give up and stop trying. Only together can we build a future that we all want to live in – no matter what problems we face getting there. Every generation in times of great change has a historic minority that can see what can become of the future and is brave enough to reach out and move toward that future.

Instead of nurturing our physicality as they used to with hard work and hard play we now don’t even have recess in schools and barely any physical training! We are physical beings. We must learn to live in harmony with the physical, spiritual, and mental aspects of ourselves into a unity that helps us reach our full potential. But now schools “don’t have time for recess” they have to concentrate on the tests that Washington says that our kids must know. As if Washington D.C. was some model of education and civic virtue! Without recess our society wants to drug children to sit still in their chairs and forget that they even have a physicality unless its to serve as a cog in a wheel of a machine that doesn’t care about its cogs. We all need to change that at all levels of our society. Using drugs to take away who we are is totally counter to the way our body was designed to work and who we have evolved to be. But too many in society want humanity to fit in neat little boxes and do what they are told. We need to recognize that we are physical creatures and remember that as we move forward into the future. We shouldn’t drug our kids into oblivion and then wonder why they have trouble moving forward in life! Using drugs to destroy who we have evolved to be as a creature will only produce sheep in a time where we need lions who will build a new and bright future for the world to come.

Freedom Troopers you are the historical minority who can bring about the future. It may not seem so now but the future will come to those who move forward to meet it and stand for what is right against what is easy. My Karate Instructor Sensei Schmidt in college would see me when I wasn’t feeling well. “I don’t think I can train today sensei.” His response was always said the same. “Train light.” However, what I found out was when I “trained light” pretty soon I was training at full strength. The very act of moving made me feel better. I wasn’t sick. I was caught in the same sedentary malaise that effects so many today. Our bodies were meant to move and be active and not to sit in a chair every day. But our very way of life today works against that and the malaise becomes a habit. It is a habit that we all must fight with ourselves to break!

Today, I didn’t want to come to work. I felt terrible. My stomach was upset, my back hurt, and I just wanted to go back to bed. But I thought of my father and my sensei. “Train light.” Just push ahead. Keep moving forward toward your goals, or at least move forward until you can see a goal. I did go to work today and once I got there and started working with my comrades I felt better about them, my work, my family, and myself. Train light! Keep moving! That’s who we evolved to be. It was the ones who kept fighting and didn’t give up who passed on their genes to the next generation. That is who we evolved from not from the quitters!

As a Drill Sergeant I loved to see the looks of pride and satisfaction that young soldiers had after pushing through an ordeal that they didn’t think they could even do. Yet they did. Never give up! Never surrender!

Our lives are so much better and those who struggled for 16 hours a day or more in the past just to afford a house over their heads or food. I seek videos today by young people who complain they cannot afford a place on their own. But what they want is a house like their parents had! Right out of the gate? I remember my mom telling me not to complain. They lived in my Aunt’s basement for awhile while Dad was trying to save up money for a house. They would have company over and someone upstairs would flush the toilet. Unfortunately, there was two feet of space between the pipe and the floor drain that was open. “At least you don’t have potty sliding across the floor while you are trying to have a nice evening at home.” I listen to these complaining videos….their lives are so good they have come to believe that the luxuries that we have grown up with are necessities! Eating out was something that maybe we would do once a week on Saturdays if the money was good. When I was little my folks had a two bedroom home for me, my two brothers, my sister, my cousin, and themselves! So, because they cannot get their luxuries they want to give up. Global Warming, just one more of the disasters that every twenty years we are told is going to destroy the world. I remember 3 such warnings in my life. Now the environment is supposedly dying yet when I was twenty I remember the Rhine River catching on fire! How bad is a pollution when a damn river catches on fire? There was a town near Love Canal in the states that was so polluted infants were getting cancer. Nearly ever single home had people dying of cancer. That was cleaned up. Now we are told only if we are carbon neutral and invest in green energy (which all the world leaders have their stock in) will we be saved. I don’t think so. We all must work together for a future but using battery powered vehicles whose materials are mined by slave labor is not a way forward.

Planting trees. One tree will eat enough carbon to absorb the carbon generated by one persons life. Plant a tree for everyone in your family. It will eat the carbon and exhale fresh clean oxygen for us to breath…but, hey, that won’t get any of our leaders rich will it. Maybe that is why we no longer here of it. The future requires we all work together and do what we can do. My kids grew up emptying the compost bucket on the compost pile and using worms to turn our garbage into soil that we then used in our garden. And we have never lived in the country. Still, recycle, reduse what we send to the landfill, and reuse what we can has become a way of life. A way I was taught by the generation who would never ever give up.

Today, a whole generation has been sold a lie and is ready to give up. Never give up. The only time there is no hope is after you are dead. If you feel like you can’t go on do what sensei said and “train light.” But keep moving like my Dad always did. Even when he was dying of cancer he kept working as long as he could. His boss said, “Don’t retire. People shrivel up and die when they retire. If your work is too much for you let me know and we will give some of your duties to someone else. But keep busy and keep moving.” That really is the secret to life isn’t it? Don’t give up. Keep moving forward and raise your kids to be a responsible generation to follow you. Together, we can build a new world that is more fair and yet more prosperous and habitable than any generation before us has done. We can reach to Mars for living room and knowledge and to the Asteroid Belt for resources and stop scarring the Earth to get them. Together we can lead humanity to a bright future and go were no one has gone before.

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