Syrian Refugees

Regarding the US political debate to the Syrian Refugees:

I have a different take on the current refugee crisis.  I disagree with the reasoning of the Republican governors but I agree with blocking the refugees.

I’m not opposed to letting Syrians into the US, I’m opposed to the current administration’s handling of immigration policy in general.  If there was a rational plan to handle immigration in general then Syrians, Canadians, Mexicans, Iranians, whatever. I think everyone should want to live in the USA.

I believe in a very generous immigration policy.  I think we should welcome just about anyone who wants to come to America to work hard.  I think that should be the legal policy.

The problem is I’m opposed to circumventing the existing immigration policies.  I’m a person who believes in following rules.  The losers in all of this are the people outside our borders that want in but want to follow the rules.  That’s crazy.  Let the people who want to follow the rules in and make it more difficult for those who don’t want to follow the rules.

I’m torn between compassion for a people that are being driven from their homes because everyone in the world seems to be bombing  them versus a US President who’s immigration policy is destructive to the country.  This is a crisis that is tough to solve because the president played a game of chicken regarding immigration.  Not to mention that it is our poorly designed foreign policy that is partially to blame for the problem.

If you are on the pro-allowing the refugees in side, please cut the governors some slack.  The President has been taking advantage of the governors for years now and they’ve had to suck it up.  Now they have an issue that they have some traction with — sure it is xenophobic but if the President won’t engage them with moderate discussions, the best option sometimes is rallying more hardcore voters.


Ugh.  What do you do with a kid who has a medical condition that causes fatigue and insominia?  When a teenager won’t wake up for school is it just not wanting to get up or medically tired?

As a runner I sometimes exercise to the point of fatigue and it knocks me out for a day or two.  But even then, I can barely recognize fatigue in myself.  How can I identify that in someone else?

On the selfish side, it sure knocks out my running schedule.  Its hard to feel good about a run if my wife is going to struggle to get everyone pointed in the right direction for school.

Chronic Illness

Every so often there is a ‘human interest’ story on the news.  Some remarkable young child is undergoing medical treatments.  Disease is destroying the child’s body and yet he or she is happy and optimistic.  These are ‘great’ emotional news stories.

But from my experience, it’s not how the story plays out.

Raising kids is crazy hard.

I’m stubborn.  That’s why I enjoy endurance sports, I don’t stop.  To live with me you have to be just as stubborn.  But raising stubborn kids provides its own set of challenges.  You want your kids to get up on time, go to school, learn, study, have good character, have friends, play sports (run?), and eat food.  My stubborn kids push and resist at each of those items.  My job as a parent is to mold them.

That’s hard.

But what do you do when one of your kids is fighting a chronic disease?

When a parent excuses away a bad behavior of a child do you roll your eyes?

I do. It’s just so easy to make a snap judgement without understanding the whole situation.

What do you think if I told you my child can’t wake up on time for school because of exhaustion?  My child looks healthy.

If you told me that your child has this problem I’d tell you to have your kid go to bed earlier. Most kids don’t want to wake up on time and you simply need to be firm with the rules.



Maybe I’m dealing with a stubborn kid or perhaps 12-14 hours of sleep and exhaustion the rest of the day is from something else?  How am I supposed to tell the difference?

I am not particularly nice and friendly when I’m tired.  What type of behavior should I allow from a child who is seemingly perpetually exhausted?

What do you do about medicine?  We go through more than a dozen pills a day, we were doing two dozen at one point.  I hate pills.  I don’t understand why people pop Ibuprofen during a race, don’t you understand the potential consequences?

Have you ever seen a child routinely take a half dozen pills before breakfast and a half dozen pills for bed time?

Every day.


Thank God we aren’t doing 3X a day right now, that was rough.

Google is the worst Doctor in the world.  I’ll ask Google about side effects.

Fatigue – Brain fog – Insomnia

Whatever–  How do you tell what is a side effect in a kid and what is simply a kid growing?  How do you handle education when medical conditions and medicine impact learning?  Did she score poorly because she is a kid slacking off or because of medicine? Do you coddle her or scold her for the performance? I don’t know.

What about the pain?  If a kid is physically hurting you’d normally have them skip school for the day.  But what if you don’t know if the pain is going to last days, weeks, or months?  Do you skip school for a month?

Explain to a 13 year old why she has to take horrible steroids that make her gain a ton of weight.  In a short period of time.  Noticeably fast.

Then turn around after that regiment is done and give her medicine that suppresses appetite and then have to force her to keep on weight.

Explain to a child who doesn’t want to take medicine or go to doctors anymore because it’s not working anyway?


What the world needs is another Hobby Lobby hand-wringing blog post.  If you read some of my other posts you can probably guess what my ‘opinion’ is on the matter.  Discussing the merits of either side of the case isn’t where I want to go with this post.  Even if you think you disagree with me, please keep reading because I have a point to make that I think is fair regardless of your position on this specific case.

The society places a lot of emphasis on the need for business people to be ethical.  Ethics is taught in business school.  News reports complain about the lack of ethics in business people.  The thing about ethics and morality is that it is divisive.  In the case of Hobby-Lobby, the CEO has very specific morals.  You may or may not agree with his position but I hope you agree that he does have a position and he made a call based on what he honestly thinks is correct.

After the fact, when a company makes an immoral decision, the media causes an an uproar.  “The CEO should be arrested!  It doesn’t matter if what the CEO did was not against the letter of the law, he should have done what was right regardless.”  Congressmen rush to subpoena people and make bold statements to the nearest television cameras.

However, when a CEO or leader states moral beliefs, when it runs counter to the popular culture, he gets vilified.  It is very difficult to ask someone to make morally hard stands when the reward for those hard stands is what happened to Hobby Lobby, Chick Filet, Mozilla, etc.

You might argue that ‘companies aren’t people’ and they shouldn’t even be involved in this.  That’s an interesting argument, but usually is only made when people disagree with the position the company staked out.  During the same Hobby-Lobby reporting cycle, Apple and Starbucks took public stands on different controversial public policy issues that just happen to be popular with vocal activists.  Why is it right for Apple and Starbucks to take a moral stand but not Hobby Lobby?

I find Apple and Starbuck’s stand wrong and destructive to our country.  However, I don’t see a problem with those companies making a stand.  It is the organizations’ right to make such a stand.  You might disagree with Hobby-Lobby’s stand, or Apple’s stand, but it is its right to make that stand.

But… but… but… ‘it’s health care’.  I can solve the health care crisis.  But probably not in this blog post.  The road I’d travel on to answer the ‘but its health care’ is that no one is prohibiting people from obtaining health care.  Hobby Lobby isn’t firing people over this, they just don’t want to provide that particular benefit because they find it morally wrong.  If you disagree with my solution, fine, I’m not trying to argue health care. 

I’m not trying to create a crazy provocative post.  My main point is, if we want business leaders that make moral decisions, some of those decisions will be contrary to what you believe.  If we constantly shut down the likes of Hobby-Lobby and Chick-Filet, we will end up with amoral organizations that only attempt to get in front of a parade, instead of staking out real positions.

Thanks,  I hope I was fair in my points.


Black and White decision part 3


I previously wrote about how I try and balance rules with practical considerations.  I believe my rules are 100% correct, if I thought otherwise I’d change the rule.  However, I try and balance my “perfect” rule with another principal I believe equally strongly in – independence.  I believe you should agree with me and be willingly to follow my rule, but I have no desire to force you.  If you disagree with me, it doesn’t really bother me.

But I run a household.  How can I balance my role as a leader in my home to all the crazy rules I like to come up with?  It actually hasn’t been challenging to come to an agreement with my wife, we have very similar personalities.  I simply state my case and my decision and let her make her own call.  She tends to respect my leadership in a decision and usually follows it, even if the rule seems (is?) crazy.

Where rules cause heart ache is with my kids.  I want my kids to have and do everything, but much of Las Vegas is centered around casinos.  Bowling, movies, restaurants, meeting rooms, even something as benign as a school field trip to an aquarium is centered around a casino.  I don’t want to force my rules on others, but I believe casinos are wrong and I’m supposed to train my child – even if my Church holds a less dramatic position.

My oldest child is now able to go to church “teen group” activities.  The signature event is a teen all-nighter with various activities, including bowling at a casino.  And it was really really important to my daughter to attend.  The event is chaperoned, and the group is filled with “good” church-kids.  Bowling has a separate non-casino entrance.  How important are my rules?  That was the challenge I was facing.

God can be funny.  The purpose of the law is that of a schoolmaster (Gal 3:24).  School works best when you think upon the rules.  While I was internally debating my rule, I heard the pastor that runs the event speak.  I don’t recall message, but he had 2 relevant illustrations.  He talked about an inappropriate incident that occurred while his family was watching the Bellagio fountains and another inappropriate incident that occurred at the bowling alley at a prior year’s teen event.  I believe the message was some sort of leadership message as both incidents ended safely because of strong leadership.

But those incidents confirmed my rule.  Consider this:  What do you think when you hear of a person placed in a bad situation that continues to stand for what is right?   That’s the type of child I want to raise – one that does right even in adversity.  But is that a biblically good situation to be in?  Aren’t you supposed to ask God to keep you away from temptation and evil (Matt 6:13)?  My child is not being blessed if they are being tempted, rather they are being blessed if they are not tempted.  A Christian should not unnecessarily place themselves in an evil situation.

Sometimes target fixation occurs.  I believe it was my wife that pointed out the solution.   I wasn’t opposed to the event in general, just the bowling portion, which occurred towards the end of the night.   Just leave early. Duh.

My daughter wasn’t pleased with that solution, but it was better than staying home.



Black and White decisions in Las Vegas – 2

One of my first attempts to apply my no-casino rule was during a convention at the Mirage.  I wanted to go to the convention, it was for work.  I decided I would enter the casino like normal but from the convention center area I would figure a way back to my car that avoided the casino.  Perhaps you know a better way, but I couldn’t find a direct route.  I ended up going through back alleys and walking around the backside of the building.

It was far from convenient and I while I could exit that way, I wasn’t sure I could enter the same way.  My ‘rule’ was facing a crisis.  I had a work obligation that conflicted with a personal conviction.  Out of a practical need I modified my “rule” from a blanket prohibition on casinos to a more flexible rule of “avoid casinos and never go when you don’t have to.”

At the time, I was making a practical compromise, but let me share with you a bible principal that supports this type of compromise. 2 King 5 tells the often told story of Elisha and Naamen.  Towards the end of the story Naamen is converted.  However he has a problem (2 King 5:18-19) – he is servant of his King, and when his King goes to the “false” church, Naamen is obligated to worship this false god.  Worshipping a false god is a grave sin – it’s as black and white of a religious rule as you can find in the Bible, you DO NOT EVER worship a false god.

God, through Elisha never tells Naamen that he can worship a false god.  Elisha simply acknowledges the problem and bids him to go in peace.

Where rules don’t work is the ‘user’ of the rule often forgets the principal of the rule, the heart and emotion that the rule is based on.  I am not satisfied with my compromise, but I can go into a casino with a pure conscience.  And by putting my rule under such direct fire and realizing that even though my ‘black and white’ position is correct, I’m still in a casino.  It is difficult to cast self-righteous stones at you when I’m in the same place you are.



Black and White decisions in Las Vegas

Black and White decisions in Las Vegas

I’m a person that believes in “optimal” solutions.  You might say I see things in “black and white”.  I’ll get into that subject some other time, but for now that description of my decision making style will work for this discussion.  People with this style can easily fall into a self-righteous trap: My way’s right, everyone making a different decision is horribly wrong.

It is easy to come up with theoretical rules to live by.  But I live and work in Las Vegas.  When I set a rule in my life, that rule will absolutely be tested.  At times it can be painful and emotional, but intellectually it is great.  It removes a lot of the self-righteousness from the equation.  I have to distill the principle that the rule is based on down to its core and then balance other principles that are equally important.

I’ve probably confused you.  This thought sounded very elegant while I composed it on my run, but no one ever accused me of being the most persuasive writer.  Perhaps some examples will clarify my point.  Even if you disagree with the rule I’m going to describe, I hope the way I describe balancing rules is helpful.

I decided I was going to avoid casinos – religiously avoid casinos.  Several events occurred that crystalized my position.  I can detail the events if you want, but it all came down to casinos are marketing a hedonistic lifestyle that mocks traditional values and ultimately is destructive to society.  So my decision is to stay out of casinos.  A good black/white rule if there ever was one.  But did I mention I live in Las Vegas?

What do I do when there is a convention in town at the Mirage?  What about when I go out to dinner with a business colleague?  What about when the company banquet is at a casino, and I’m an officer of that company?  Those are the easy questions.  Harder ones involve my family.  How do I go to a movie when most of the theaters are in a Casino?  How do I go bowling?  What about when my Church goes bowling at a Casino? (Nothing feels more self-righteous that telling your Church friends that “we don’t go to a church sponsored event because it is a sin. 🙂 ” )

I never want to force you to follow one of my rules.  I believe in independence, if you disagree with me then don’t follow my rule.  But how do I apply those rules to my Wife or my Children?  How do you tell your child that they can’t go to the movie with their friends because we don’t go to casinos?

Again, the balancing of the rule caused a lot of tears and emotional stress.  But intellectually I love taking the broad rule and figuring out the details on how to apply that rule to life.

I’ll follow up with the story next week.