The End

Today the Opining Quill ran out of ink, but he has left a permanent mark on the hearts and minds of those who knew him best.  Peace be to his memory.

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The Stranger and The Memory

We all have our moments of joy, of doubt, of sadness and tears.  We all have our talents, our limitations, and our challenges.  There is commonality in our lives and yet we are all individuals, unique and complex.

Behold the strangers as you pass by, there is little you know about them.  Their lives are a mystery, perhaps shattered like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle scattered across the table waiting to find connections.  You pass, never knowing the burdens, challenges, or obstacles they carry within their soul like a weight upon their back.

Life is not always easy, for some the challenges are not apparent, they are devils within the depth of their inner soul.  They are the burdens of life, covered and hidden from the outside world, known only to thy self.

It is hard to understand the unknown, and more difficult to appreciate the shoes within which the stranger walks, if you have never known the path by which they trod.  Look upon thy stranger as a friend, a fellow member of humanity, for you are their stranger.

What does the stranger see in you as they pass?  Are you just another stranger from the dark unknown or a sudden moment of comfort with a smile on your face or a warm greeting of “good morning”?

Open your heart with compassion, empathy and concern for the unknown stranger and find within yourself an inner warmth.  Take the time to assist a stranger faced with an obvious challenge and you will feel inner warmth for you have made the world a better place.

For some, life is not easy, but your response to the unknown world of another can make a world of difference in their life.  You may never know how you contribute to the comfort or challenge of another but they will know.

You will make memories today, what they are is largely up to you.  Your compassion, patience, and tolerance can be a world of difference in the life of another, don’t let them walk alone in darkness bring them some hope and light, give them a memorable moment.  Share your love for humanity, the world will be a better place.

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The Commonality of Desire and Death

You can be young or old, rich, or poor, famous or unknown, but at some point, death will take us all.  For some it will be sudden, for others, there will be some time to face the inevitable knowing the end is near.

The older one gets the more life experience brings life into focus.  Our individual experience provides opportunity to observe and learn from those that have gone before us.  Life has many variables but one constant; as each day passes we are all one day closer to our last day.

There is some real-life commonality in the way humanity most often faces their ultimate demise.  Fear is not common except perhaps in Hollywood films, what is common is peace and acceptance, knowing the end is near.

The intensity of peace and acceptance comes from a satisfaction of our desires that have a commonality within all of us.  The desire for forgiveness, immortality and meaning are the common aspirations that when satisfied give us a calming peace, and acceptance that is often mistakenly perceived by others as a strength and courage in the face of death.

Perfection is not a trait of humanity, hence the desire to look for forgiveness for our foibles, misjudgments, and misdeeds as our life fades away.  The truth is, forgiveness serves both the giver and the receiver.  A powerful gift treasured by those receiving it and a lifting of a burden formerly carried forth by the giver.

Watching as the angel of death nears is an experience not forgotten, equally it is important to let the person at death’s door know you will remember them, that they will never be forgotten.  It is a basic desire within each of us to be remembered, to have immortality in the memory of those we leave behind.

For some there is great accomplishment and recognition in life, for others, life seems to pass without notice.  Yet every person contributes to the world around them in some way.  There are many people providing the inspiration of angels going unnoticed among us.  Their lives will never be chronicled in the movies, honored with a plaque, or even acknowledged with a simple note of thanks.  In the end, all they really desire is to know their life had meaning, that they had worth, that they will be remembered and forgiven for their failures.

The greatest gift we can deliver is the gift of love, understanding and forgiveness to others, the same gift we will one day crave to give us peace and calm as we pass from this life.  If one is to follow the teachings found in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:12 we can comfort the dying and find a comforting peace within ourselves with our own actions.

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Neil Gorsuch Nomination A Supreme Issue

United States Supreme Court

The nomination of Neil Gorsuch to serve on the United States Supreme Court brings our nation to a fork in the road.  To the left, we have proponents of judicial activism, to the right we have constitutional originalists.  The road forward is currently under construction with unions of leadership keeping an eye on self-promotion and positioning for public opinion to enhance their personal goals.  The perils of politics are the real potholes in our path.

Our Constitution designates three branches of government.  The Legislative Branch has the responsibility to enact our laws, the Executive Branch is responsible to administers and enforce the laws.  The Judicial Branch is responsible to interpret the law as written.  The Executive and Legislative body are elected.  To provide a degree of checks and balances the Judicial Branch is nominated by the Executive Branch, and Appointed by the Legislative Branch.

This brings us back to our fork in the road where the originalists would favor a candidate that would attempt to interpret the words of the Constitution as they were understood at the time they were written.  Whereas the judicial activist would interpret the Constitution as a living document basing interpretation with consideration for personal or political considerations and climate of the day.

If the legislative branch is active and responsive to their constituents the laws that are written will not require judicial activism to interpret as they will directly reflect the will of the voters.  The originalist will only interpret the actual content of the legislative branch and concurrence would be common on Supreme Court.

Judicial activism is the result of those in the legislative branch failing to recognize their responsibility and abdicating their role to an appointed judiciary, often chosen with the intent to do what those elected have neither the courage or character to fight for or accomplish lest they jeopardize their own re-election. It only exists because of legislative cowardice by those lacking a profile of courage and character holding office.

The true change of direction our nation needs is found in those that support judicial activism from the Legislative Branch.  In Connecticut that means finding replacements for Senator Murphy and Blumenthal.  It means finding candidates willing to stand with courage to advocate for their constituents and not depending on a judicial activist to enact an agenda from the judicial bench.  Senators supporting Neil Gorsuch understand their role and responsibility something both Blumenthal and Murphy have yet to learn.

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Beleaguered Connecticut Taxpayers Saddled with More Debt To Subsidize The Rich and Business

Governor Dan Malloy

Governor Dan Malloy

Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced new state spending that will add an additional $2.7 million in debt on to the backs of Connecticut’s middleclass taxpayers.  After crushing families with the two highest tax increases in Connecticut history ol’ Danny boy has found another way to spend the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars to subsidize big business and luxury automobile buyers.

While the average Connecticut family struggles to stretch their family budget and pay an ever-increasing burden of taxes.  Dan Malloy finds it necessary to give away up to $5,000 to buyers of fuel cell power vehicles, which is not something found on the average family shopping list.  No this is tax money used to subsidize the wants of rich.

In a statement issued by the Governor he said this will “support local retailers by helping lower the price of electric vehicles, making them more competitive”.  Really Governor, is that the best use for taxpayer dollars?  Does the average family need to support local car dealers to insure they make a profit selling cars?

While the legislature is facing a 1.3-BILLION-dollar deficit in the next budget season apparently, Governor Malloy feels it is necessary to give away taxpayer’s hard earned money to those that can afford NEW CARS!!!  Remember this is your money, paid to the state in good faith that it will be spent wisely.

So, what does the Democratic Majority leadership in the State Legislature have to say about this squandering of tax dollars?  Nothing! Their silence is deafening.  They are only talking about new tolls on highways, new sources of revenue and cuts to cities and towns that will require the local government to raise taxes to fund local requirements for State mandates.

This is not the first-time Dan Malloy has fleeced the taxpayers in this fashion.  The Governor was somewhat bragging over his success when he said, “Since the start of the program in May 2015, more than $2 million has been issued in rebates or reserved for the purchase or lease of 960 electric vehicles in Connecticut”.

This subsidy has been one of the shovels digging Connecticut taxpayers into an ever-deeper hole of debt and this round of subsidies is more of the same.  When will we learn to stop digging?  When will we learn that when you cannot afford what you already have it is time to stop new spending?  This is not an investment for our future this is insanity in the present, this is irresponsible and objectionable.  This is detrimental to every taxpayer and family in Connecticut.  Simple put this is unacceptable.

 

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Challenges and Changes Ahead for Public Education

school-buses-005-2xThe decision on CCJEF (Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding) vs Rell lawsuit was announced and should have significant impact on educational funding in Connecticut.  The decision is far reaching and looks to change not only how schools are funded but also priorities in funding allocation.

Here are the key components of the decision:

  1. A ruling that it is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL for the state to have a public education financing system that is NOT based on the amount of money it takes to provide every child equitable access to an adequate educational program.
  2. A ruling that the present system for funding public education in CT is unconstitutional because it is irrational.  The judge gave the State 180 days to submit to the plaintiffs in the case a system that is rational.
  3. An apparent ruling that the State has to develop a system for requiring students to actually demonstrate that they have mastered specified content and skills before being awarded a high school diploma and a requirement that there be a State graduation exit exam established for this purpose.
  4. An apparent ruling that the current system for teacher evaluation be revamped so that compensation is based on the results of teacher evaluation.
  5. An apparent ruling that would require the State not to program for children whose special needs are so severe that education cannot materially influence the quality of their lives.

Appeals in the case are likely but it would appear at this juncture all school districts will face significant changes in the future.  Under the ruling, gone would be the days of social promotion and high school diplomas presented with little basis in merit.

Teacher compensation currently structured by contractual obligations rather than individual productivity or merit would be changed to a system based on results of teacher evaluation.  In the land of steady habits, it will be difficult to facilitate real change and not window dressing to institute a realistic system of evaluation and compensation.

Special education would no longer be required for children whose needs are so severe that education cannot materially influence their quality of life.  This may not be as clear cut as it sounds and remains open to some interpretation.  Currently special education costs for a single student can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The “irrational” system for funding education must be changed in Connecticut.   The new formula, under this decision, will not be based on a false premise of a constitutional guarantee to provide every child equitable access to an adequate educational program.

One thing for sure lobbyist and special interest groups will be active to pressure our legislature to preserve, protect and promote their positions as new policies are written.

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Remembering Keith Allan Miller

Keith Allen Miller 5/27/48 - 9/7/67

Keith A Miller
5/27/48 – 9/7/67

It’s never a happy day, yes there may be outward smiles but inside there is a sense of loss, a memory and thoughts of what might have been.  It was over 60 years ago we were little kids in Buckley School, we played tag and ran on the playground.  It was the 1950’s and sometimes we walked home for lunch.

The years are long but the memory is crystal clear of the day Keith and I walked to the top of Barry Road and Keith challenged me, “race you down the hill” and with that he took off.  I was tall and thin with a long stride, Keith was short but solid and fleet of foot.  I gave it all I had but I never had a chance, I remember thinking, “I wish I could run like that”.

As I think back and remember, “run” was not a word to associate with Keith.  When we picked our teams Keith was a kid you wanted on your side.  You knew Keith would cover you, he would have your back, and Keith would stand his ground.  His hands were as quick as his feet.

We walked different paths, but I never forgot the race down the hill, I never forgot the kid that would not back down.  Now I reflect how well his choice to be a Marine fit his personality.  He was tough, he was strong, and he was determined.

When I hear the National Anthem or see a Marine I think of Keith.  I think of how young he was, I think of hopes and dreams, I reflect on life and what he sacrificed.  As the rain falls today I will think of tears of sadness shed for Keith and all our fallen soldiers.   Memorial Day, is to honor and remember those that gave their last breath in service to our United States.

I will go back to Buckley School today, I will view a memorial for my friend Keith.  I will bow my head, and say a prayer.  The tears that roll along my cheek may look like drops of rain cascading off my face but I will be remembering.  I will remember he never had a chance to live out his hopes and dreams.

I will remember Keith and I will remember his family.  I will remember his mother.  There has always been a special place within my heart for Keith’s mom.  She suffered and endured greatly for our nation, she lost both a husband and a son in service to our nation.  She will be remembered.

I will remember Keith’s siblings, and the heartache of emptiness that his passing has left.  I will remember because I can never forget my friend, Keith Allan Miller.  I can never forget what he and his family lost in Vietnam on September 7, 1967………………rest in peace, Keith.

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