OMG!  It’s Chat GPT

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Oh, when will they ever learn?  Oh, when will they ever learn?

For hundreds of years now, we have had technological change.  And for hundreds of years humans have been fighting it.  Trying to reverse change and put Pandora’s evils back in the box.  But that is where we go wrong.  We see things that we do not understand and we label them as “evil.”

Humanity began maybe a million years ago.  The first humans were hunters and gatherers.  10,000 or so years ago humans learned the art of agriculture.  The Age of Agriculture lasted until the advent of machines and industrial technology.  The Industrial Age began in the middle 18th Century.  It lasted until the mid-20th Century.  The next age to come was the Information/Computer Age.  This age began about 1950 and by my reckoning lasted until about the middle 1980’s.

What I want to call the Age of the Internet began with browsers, world wide web and social media platforms in the middle 1980’s.  The Age of the Internet lasted from about 1985 to 2020.  A few years ago, computers became so powerful that no chess player or mathematician could stand against a computer.  Computers can now outdraw, outfire and outshoot any human being.  We have programs that can draw as good as most humans and write as good as most humans.  We have now entered the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligences is defined as “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”Oxford Dictionary Online

As with all new technologies, from fire, to steam engines to airplanes to computers, the detractors are out in force.  These are the people who cannot accept new technology.  They see any changes as evil and want to put them back into the box.  The lines are being drawn as to whether we will move forward or backwards with Artificial Intelligence.  But there is no going backwards.  You can never put the demons back into the box.

Oh, when will they ever learn?  Oh, when will they ever learn?

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A new Artificial Intelligence (AI) program called Chat GPT writes so well that one of the most sacred cows of education is being threatened.  Students do not have to plagiarize anymore; they can simply ask Chat GPT to do an essay or address a theme for them and it will come up with some unbelievable results.  I tried the program myself the other day and obtained some very remarkable results.  I asked it the following questions:  Chat GPT’s replies follow each of my questions.


“What are the secrets to a happy life?”

Chat GPT: 

As an AI language model, I can provide some insights on what research and studies suggest can lead to a happier life. Here are some of the most commonly cited secrets to a happy life:

  • Cultivate positive relationships: Strong social connections and healthy relationships with family, friends, and community can bring joy, meaning, and purpose to life.
  • Practice gratitude: Focusing on the good things in your life and being thankful for them can improve your overall well-being.
  • Engage in activities that bring you joy: Pursue hobbies, interests, and activities that make you happy and give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Take care of your physical health: Regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep can boost your energy, reduce stress, and improve your mood.
  • Develop a positive mindset: Cultivate a positive attitude and learn to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.
  • Set goals and work towards them: Having a sense of purpose and working towards meaningful goals can increase happiness and satisfaction.
  • Be kind and help others: Acts of kindness towards others can boost your own happiness and well-being.

Keep in mind that everyone’s definition of happiness is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. However, incorporating these secrets into your life can help increase your overall well-being and lead to a happier life.



“How do I get better at playing a musical instrument?”

Chat GPT:

Getting better at playing a musical instrument takes practice, dedication, and patience. Here are some tips to help you improve:

  • Set achievable goals: Decide on specific goals you want to achieve and break them down into smaller, manageable steps. This can help you stay motivated and see progress over time.
  • Practice regularly: Consistent practice is key to improving your skills. Aim to practice every day or several times a week, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
  • Focus on technique: Make sure you have a solid foundation of technique and work on improving it regularly. Pay attention to your posture, hand and finger placement, and other technical aspects of playing.
  • Listen and learn: Listen to recordings of skilled musicians playing your instrument and try to emulate their techniques and style. Attend live performances or watch videos of performances online to gain inspiration and insights.
  • Seek feedback: Get feedback from experienced musicians or teachers who can help you identify areas for improvement and provide guidance on how to address them.
  • Experiment with different styles: Try playing different genres of music to broaden your skills and keep things interesting.
  • Stay motivated: Keep your passion for music alive by reminding yourself why you enjoy playing your instrument and setting new challenges for yourself.

Remember, improving your skills on a musical instrument takes time and effort, but with dedication and practice, you can make progress and achieve your goals.



“Who was the greatest philosopher who ever lived?”

As an AI language model, I cannot provide a subjective opinion on who the greatest philosopher who ever lived was, as the answer may vary depending on personal beliefs, cultural background, and philosophical preferences. Additionally, different philosophers have made important contributions to various branches of philosophy, including ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and aesthetics.

Some of the most influential philosophers throughout history include Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and many others. Each philosopher has contributed to the field of philosophy in their unique way, and their ideas have shaped and influenced the development of Western and Eastern philosophy.

It is important to recognize that philosophy is a diverse field, and different philosophers have made significant contributions to our understanding of the world and our place in it. Ultimately, the choice of who the greatest philosopher ever lived is subjective and dependent on individual interpretation and perspective.

The replies to each of my questions were generated in less than two minutes for each one and probably closer to one minute.  I don’t know what you think about each of these answers, but I was very impressed.  I would probably say that they were just as good as I could have done if not better.  We now have the power to perhaps make every living human being a genius in the sense that the questions one asks are more important than the answers.

Long ago, I learned that the essence of critical thinking is asking critical questions.  I have never met a teacher who did not think that critical thinking was the most important skill a student could learn.  Unfortunately for our students, schools are being run by politicians who believe that tests are critical for student learning.  Every public school in the country must kowtow to ignorant politicians who measure learning by test scores.  In addition, we have a primitive education system that treats all students the same and moves them all through a system of grades and courses with the goal of creating some uniform outcome.  It has never happened, and it never will.  Modern education curriculums should be tailored to the skills and goals of each individual student.

Oh, when will they ever learn?  Oh, when will they ever learn?

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We are now at another major crossroads in history.  We can learn to use the best of AI to help humanity achieve its goals and objectives or we can engage in fruitless fights to stem the development of AI and to prohibit people from using it. There is no doubt that technology can have both positive and negative elements.  However, we cannot address the negative elements of AI by ignoring the technology and or by pretending that it does not exist.   We are in the 21st Century.  Isn’t it about time that we learn from the past?

Empathy:  Do We Really Need It?

what is empathy

Before we begin to answer the question raised in the title, we need to define empathy.  I will ignore what the dictionary says in favor of my own definition.  My definition of empathy is “A feeling that somehow gets shared between two (or more people) and that helps each person feel closer to the other person.”  Years ago, when my first wife and I went to marriage counseling, she told the counselor, that I was the only person she knew who did not have any feelings.  For years, she had wondered about it but she finally concluded that I did not have any.  I cannot fault her for this.  I believed that Spock on Star Trek, was too emotional.  After all, he did have a human mother.

Forty-six years have gone by since that fateful counseling session and I have learned a lot more about empathy.  But to say that I am a master or even a journeyman in empathy would be an exaggeration.  Learning empathy is not as simple as that.  It is compounded by the fact that I see three types of empathy (This is my typology).  There is neg-empathy, neutral empathy, and positive empathy.  Most of my days are spent in neutral empathy.  I have had many occasions of neg-empathy.  Once in a great while, I get struck by lightning and have a glimpse of positive empathy.  They have become more frequent as I have aged but not frequent enough. (The opening picture above shows three types of empathy that psychology textbooks use.)  Again, I favor my own three types.

compassion versus empathy


Neg-empathy is a complete disregard for how another person feels.  Sometimes it is intentional but most often it is inadvertent.  Culturally many of us are brought up to exhibit neg-entropy.  Here is one example:

A good friend is running with me on a mountain trail in Casa Grande.  He stumbles, falls, and twists his ankle.  I ask him if it is ok and can he still run.  He replies that it hurts quite a bit, to which I reply “Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  I think I heard that line from John Wayne or Vince Lombardi.  Many men and maybe women in some cultures are brought up to disregard pain and to ignore suffering.  “I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, so should you.”  “The only thing you have to fear, is fear itself.”

Personally, I love a lot of these macho aphorisms.  My father used to tell me them all the time.  Like when I once came home battered and bruised from a fight that I had won with an older kid, and my father said.  “Next time you win a fight, look like you won it.”

People who are suffering from depression are often the victims of neg-entropy.  In trying to help them with lines like “Tomorrows another day” or “You worry too much,” we make things worse for them.  At best, we do not ameliorate or disperse any of their depression.

Neg-empathy does not make anyone feel better.  Comments from neg-empathy do nothing to share a sense of common concern or camaraderie.  At best, they are not helpful and at worse, they may just be mean spirited and cruel.

Neutral Empathy:

sympathyI started running in 1975 after being a very good bicyclist for many years.  I ran in freezing rain, below zero wind-chills and blistering heat.  I even went out one time and ran with a tornado coming through the neighborhood.  Like the U.S. Mail, nothing could stop me.  Over the years, I met many people who would tell me “I used to run but my knees went out and I had to give it up.”  I had enough sense not to tell them what I was really thinking so I usually said nothing or just a “too bad.”  What I was really thinking was “If you really wanted to you could still be running.” The latter comment would be an example of neg-empathy.  My silence was an example of neutral empathy.  I did not make any connection to the feelings that the other person had, nor did I much want to.  I could not identify with them since I ran “no matter what.”  I was better than they were.

Last year in April of 2022, I broke my finger in a fall while running on a mountain trail in Casa Grande.  I continued running and did not find out that my finger was broke until I had an Xray about two months or so later.  The finger throbbed and looked funny for much of this time.  This still did not stop my running.  The advice from many people was that it was just swollen, and the swelling would go down.

One of my favorite run days of the year is January 1.  It is a day that while many are making promises to exercise or lose weight, I go up and do a long hour run in the mountains. This year, January 1, 2023, I put my running gear on and drove to the mountain trailhead.  The closer I came to the trailhead, the more apprehension I felt.  I began to dread running on the mountain trails today.  What used to seem like fun was replaced with a scary feeling.  “When will I break my leg” kept going through my mind?

I finally decided not to run anymore (at least on these trails).  From now on I would hike the trails.  Since January, I have made about three hikes each week.  On each of my hikes, I have suffered from missing the challenges of trail running, feeling like a coward who quit, and just plain thinking of myself as a loser.

Today, I was experiencing the same feelings when suddenly, I realized that I would now be the one to have an excuse for not running any more.  My thoughts went to the numerous times I had encountered others with an excuse for not running.  What would I say to the people I met on the trail.  Should I apologize for not running?  Would they recognize me as the guy who had been running these trails for 12 years?  I did not want sympathy, but I was embarrassed before even meeting anyone else on the trail.

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I realized that I had never given anyone positive empathy for having to give up their running.  My keeping quiet was just an example of neutral empathy.  No support, no compassion, no closeness, no connection with how the other person was feeling.  Forty years after my counseling sessions, and the best I was doing was negative empathy.

Positive Empathy:

My shoulder hurts now from lifting too many weights yesterday.  With Karen gone East to visit her children, I have been doubling down on my exercise schedule.  I figured I could catch up and maybe even get ahead for the several days that I missed last month.  This idea of “catching up” is stupid.  It is fruitless and a waste of time.  Furthermore, it is much more likely to result in injury than sticking to a “normal” schedule.  So now my shoulder is painful and I have no one around to show me any empathy.  Karen would be running some cream or oil in my shoulder or giving me a massage or just telling me that she was worried about me, and that I should take it easy.  Karen is my main source of positive empathy.

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We all need positive empathy for the pains and outrageous misfortunes that happen to us in life.  There are two problems that we may have in getting this positive empathy.

  1. Too many people like me who are not good at giving positive empathy.
  2. Not enough people in our lives to give us the empathy we all need on occasion.

What happens to people who live alone or who have few friends?  I don’t really have a good answer to this.  I realize that there are people who visit shut ins.  People who visit prisons.  I wonder if this is enough.  Some of the studies on happiness suggest that people are less happy than they were years ago.

“While happiness increased globally up until 2011, it has been falling ever since. But this trend masks large differences in happiness across countries, with clear winners and losers.” World Happiness Report


Some questions I have for you:

  • Is it possible to give ourselves empathy?
  • Can self-empathy replace empathy from other people?
  • What happens to people who never get any empathy?
  • Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing your comments or responses. 

The Tale of a Little Nine Year Old Girl Who Deserves to be Remembered


Here is a story that I heard on NPR this week.  It is a tale of a remarkable little girl.  A tale that deserves to be retold.  It goes like this.

In a small town (Population 9,027) located in northwestern Essex County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey, about 16 miles (26 km) west of New York City and 6 miles (9.7 km) north-west of Newark, a little White girl aged nine went out to work on a science project and to help her community.  She had learned that spotted lanternflies were a nuisance species and she decided to collect as many as she could and use them in a science exhibit to educate others about them.  Until this week, the most noteworthy thing about Caldwell was that it was the birthplace of Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.  He was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, was born in Caldwell on March 18, 1837.

As the little girl went from tree to tree collecting these bugs, a former council member and neighbor named Gordon Lawshe saw the little girl going from tree to tree and picking something off the trees.  He was not sure what she was doing but he decided to help her.  He put his jacket on and went out to see how he could assist her.

Wait a Minute!  Hold on there Persico.  You have got your facts all wrong.  That is not how the story goes!


Oh, that’s right.  I forgot.  It was not a little White girl; it was a little Black girl.  It was a former city council member named Gordon Lawshe.  However, he did not go out to help her.  Seeing a nine-year-old Black girl going from tree to tree terrified him.  He wasted no time calling the police on our little budding scientist.  You can probably guess Gordon’s skin color so I won’t bother telling you. 

After the police came and traumatized little Bobbi Wilson, they realized that she posed no threat to the community.  Fortunately, her mother had come out before they took Bobbi away in handcuffs. 

Now there are many in America who say that racism is dead.  They believe that Black people are always playing the “Race Card” when they talk about unfair treatment or systemic racism.  Just the other day, the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction (Tom Horne) said in an interview that there is NO MORE systemic racism in the USA.  This man is in charge of education in our state!

In 2008, the U.S. House of Representative issued a formal apology for slavery and Jim Crow laws. This was passed by a voice vote.  A rather imprecise method of voting which shields anyone from being identified with a particular stance.  A year later, the Senate advanced S. Con. Res. 26 of the 111th Congress, a concurrent resolution apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African Americans.  Republicans now seem bent on reversing this apology by making it harder for Blacks, other minorities, and poor people to vote.  While monetary reparations were given to Japanese Americans for their internment and mistreatment during WW II, any talk of reparations for slavery generates heated arguments.     

Today, the country is seething over the idea of addressing racism in the public schools.  It is feared that White Children will feel guilty.  Mention Critical Race Theory and you will get shut down quick in school districts all over the country.  Even worse is the onslaught on textbooks to sanitize them so that “negative” aspects of American history are omitted. 

But all of the above is very academic.  For little Black Bobbi Wilson, it probably will not mean much.  She would just like to be treated like any nine-year-old White girl with a penchant for science would be treated.  Fortunately, our story does not end with her near arrest.  National Public Radio published the following article about Bobbi on their website.   I have included some excerpts from the article as well as a link to the entire article.  It is very heartwarming and worth reading.  There are many good people in America and this helps us to remember that. 

Yale honors the work of a 9-year-old Black girl whose neighbor reported her to police – NPR, February 4, 2023

Nine-year-old Bobbi Wilson may be in the fourth grade, but last month the Yale School of Public Health held a ceremony honoring the budding scientist’s recent work.

The university entered Bobbi’s collection of 27 spotted lanternflies — an extremely invasive species that is harmful to trees and other plants — into the Peabody Museum of Natural History database.  Bobbi was also presented with the title of “donor scientist” during the Jan. 20 ceremony.

“We wanted to show her bravery and how inspiring she is, and we just want to make sure she continues to feel honored and loved by the Yale community,” Ijeoma Opara, an assistant professor at the school, said in a statement.

Weeks Earlier:

Former City Council member, Gordon Lawshe calls the police department to report:  “There’s a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence,” Lawshe told the dispatcher, according to a call obtained by CNN.

“I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me, though,” Lawshe added.

Outside, Bobbi, a petite child who wears pink-framed glasses, was doing her bit to comply with the state’s Stomp it Out! campaign, which urges New Jersey residents to help eradicate the spotted lanternfly infestation.  She’d learned about it at school and made her own version of an insect repellent she’d seen on TikTok. Making her way from tree to tree, Bobbi would spray the bugs, pluck them from the tree and drop them into a plastic bottle.

Bobbi was still at it when an officer arrived, curious about what she was doing. Body camera footage shows officer Kevin O’Neill approach the child before her mother, Monique Joseph, intervenes.

“You know, you hear about racism; you kind of experience it in your peripheral.  If you’re lucky in your life.  It doesn’t come knocking on your door. That morning when it happened, my world stopped,” Bobbi’s mother said, according to the university.  She added: “The whole community, the science community, got together and said, ‘She’s one of us and we’re not going to let her lose her steam for STEM. We’re going to support the family, we’re going to support this girl.”

So all’s well that ends well right?  Well, not exactly.  There are thousands of little Black girls and little Black boys in America.  When will this end for them?  What will it take to end racism?  When will we stop judging people by the color of their skins and instead judge them by their character and morality? 

The Balloons are Coming!  The Balloons are Coming!


I was up in the Casa Grande mountains this morning where I do either a morning run or a morning hike.  Suddenly, I looked up and saw a large object overhead.  With further perusal, I realized that it was a balloon.  Now I have seen many balloons over the mountains in the past twelve years, but this one was different.  It was large and round like so many are but this one was painted with red, white and blue stripes like an American flag.  Why I wondered would anyone paint a balloon with red, white, and blue stripes?

Moon over mountain

I was well aware that a Chinese surveillance balloon had been spotted over Montana and today another one was spotted over South America.  It has been in the news for the last two days about every hour.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if the Chinese wanted to fool us, what better way than to make a SPY balloon look like a hot air balloon with an American flag painted on it.  Who would suspect such a balloon.


As I continued to gaze at the balloon, I had the eerie feeling that I was being surveyed.  What if the Chinese were taking my picture?  What if they were scanning my body type and profile?  Could they send my picture back to Beijing?  The more I pondered these questions, the more terrified I became.  I realized it was time to get out of there and report my suspicions to the proper authorities.  Just as I started to leave, the balloon went hundreds, maybe thousands of feet in the air and headed to Picacho Peak.  It dawned on me that the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is just a few miles south of Picacho Peak.  What if the balloon was going to attack the base?  I had to get home quick.

As soon as I got home.  I went on my computer to find the number for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  I Googled “CIA phone number.”  All I could come up with was an address to contact them at:

To contact OIG, please send mail to the following address:

Office of Inspector General

Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, DC 20505

This would not do.  This was an emergency.  It was a matter of national security.  I tried again and found the following phone number for the CIA:  202–418–5000.

I dialed the number and was answered by a robot which said:

“You have reached the “Commodities Futures Trading Commission.”

Could this by a subtle ploy to hide the real identify of the CIA?  I decided that the number listed for the CIA must be wrong.  After numerous searches, (it took me about an hour) I found a number for Mr. William Burns, the Director of the CIA.  I can’t give you his number as it is classified, but I will describe my conversation with the CIA.

CIA:  Who do you wish to speak to?

John:  Hi, this is a national emergency.  I want to speak to the Director, Mr. Burns.

CIA:  Mr. Burns is busy now; would you like to speak to his secretary?

John:  No!  NO!  This is an emergency!  I just spotted another Chinese Surveillance balloon over the Casa Grande Mountains.

CIA:  Could you tell us where these mountains are?

John:  Everyone knows they are in Arizona.

CIA:  Can you hold please, while we find someone to talk to you?

John:  Please hurry, the balloon is headed towards an airbase.


 CIA:  Hello, I am the assistant to the assistant to the assistant for Mr. Burns, how can I help you?

John:  I just spotted a Chinese Surveillance balloon over Picacho Peak.  It is headed to the Air Force base in Tucson.

CIA:  How do you know the balloon is Chinese?

John:  Because it is designed to look like a hot air balloon and it is painted red, white and blue, with the American flag.

CIA:  This sounds serious.  We are recording this information.  Have you contacted anyone else about this?

John:  No!

CIA:  Good, then we want to advise you to say nothing to anyone else.  Are you planning any trips soon?

John:  Well, we have some Chinese friends in San Francisco who we were going to visit in April.

CIA:  My God!  You have Chinese friends?  How long have you known them?  Do you think that they could be spies for the Chinese government.

John:  We have known them for almost thirty years now.  I think they are in their late seventies and probably too old to be spies.

CIA:  They could be much younger and made up to look like old people.

John:  I doubt it.

CIA:  Look, there is a security risk here.  We advise you to terminate your vacation plans immediately with this family and do not mention anything about our conversation with them.  Can you give us their address?

John:  I would rather not.  I don’t’ think we should get them involved.

CIA:  Look, who is more important?  Your friends or your country?

John:  Can I have some time to think about it?

CIA:  Have you ever heard of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  This is the highest award for a patriotic American citizen, and you could be in the running for this award.

John:  Do I get any money with the medal?

CIA: That might be arranged.

John:  Ok, I will give you their names and addresses but you must promise that I will remain anonymous.

CIA: You have our word (Crosses his fingers behind his back while he says this).

John:  I have got to go now; I hear someone knocking at my door.

I hung up my phone and walked to my front door.  Opening the door, two tall White guys in suits with dark sunglasses were standing there.  I asked them “What can I do for you?”  The older of the two guys said “We are from the CIA, we are placing you in the witness protection program for your own good.  Get some clothes, we must leave immediately.”

“Can you wait a few minutes while I tell my wife”, I said.

“It is better if no one knows where you are going or why.  The less people who know the better.  This is an issue of national security.  Hurry, we don’t have much time.  By the way, do you have any papers or documents around that belong to you?”

“Well,” I replied, “I have several unpublished blogs that I started but did not finish.”

“Okay, we want those documents.  They are now classified TOP SECRET documents and belong to the US government.  Gather them up and let’s go.  We want you to put the following message on your voice mail in case anyone tries to call you.”


You have reached the voice mail of John Persico Jr.  I have gone away for a while.  I do not know when I will be back.  If you see any balloons in the sky or have knowledge of balloons that do not look like helium balloons, toy balloons, weather balloons, or hot air balloons, please leave the following details:

  • Where did you see the balloons?
  • What suspicious activities were these balloons up to?
  • Which direction where they headed?
  • What was your last contacts with any ethnic Chinese people?

mixxed ballooons


The Balloon has been shot down over the Atlantic Ocean. The Republican response to this crisis has been summarized by the Governor from Texas:

“The China balloon flying over the U.S. is a direct assault on our national sovereignty,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted on Friday. “Biden’s refusal to stop it is a dereliction of duty. From flying balloons to open borders, Biden has no regard for our national security and sovereignty.”

Dick Doyscher: A Man for a Few More Seasons

I wrote the following blog on March 4, 2020. Dick died Tuesday, January 31, 2023. Dick was 83 years old. He took his own life. I learned about it this morning when I tried to call him. I called him yesterday but did not get a reply which was unlike Dick. The last time I talked to him was four days ago and he sounded cheerful and upbeat and not noting any health problems other the usual aches and pains of old age. I wrote this blog about Dick because I regarded him and his wife Gladys as remarkable if not extraordinary people and good friends. It is easy to overlook people like Dick because “extraordinary” is peculiarly defined by our media and news sources. Following is the blog that I wrote three years ago.

Aging Capriciously


I wrote the following blog on March 4, 2020.  Dick died yesterday January 31, 2023.  Dick was 83 years old.  He took his own life.  I learned about it this morning when I tried to call him.  I called him yesterday but did not get a reply which was unlike Dick.  The last time I talked to him was four days ago and he sounded cheerful and upbeat and not noting any health problems other the usual aches and pains of old age.  I wrote this blog about Dick because I regarded him and his wife Gladys as remarkable if not extraordinary people and good friends.  It is easy to overlook people like Dick because “extraordinary” is peculiarly defined by our media and news sources.  Following is the blog that I wrote three years ago.

Dick Doyscher:  A Man for a Few More Seasons 

If the world is full of…

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Can I Make a Difference or Not?

images 23Hamlet posed his existential quest for life with the famous phrase “To be or not to be, that is the question.”  I woke up this morning wrestling with a somewhat different question.  I wanted to go back to sleep.  It was too early to get up.  It was dark and cold.  I did not want to leave my nice warm bed but something inside of me was in war over the question of whether I can make a difference or not in the world.  Am I a fool and charlatan or a man with meaning and purpose?  You might say it was my pessimist side fighting with my optimist side.  It seemed more like my nihilist attitudes battling with my existentialist attitudes.  Or perhaps it is my cynicism versus my somewhat subdued optimism.  I will simply call these two voices “Doom and Gloom” versus “Hope and Possibilities.”  The struggle between the two voices went as follows.

Doom and Gloom:    You have nothing to live for.  Your life is a waste.  You have screwed up more things than you have made right.  No one cares what you think. You are not making a shred of difference in the world.

Hope and Possibilities:  If you quit now, what were all your struggles and efforts for?  You must believe in yourself; you can make a difference.

Doom and Gloom:  Show me any of your successes.  Do you have a single win in life that you can feel proud of or that you can say really changed the world or made a difference?

Hope and Possibilities:  Do you remember what Mother Teresa once said “I am not called on to make a difference, I am called on to have faith.”  You may never know if you are making a difference in the world but like buying a lottery ticket if you don’t buy one you can never win.

Doom and Gloom:  You have about as much chance of making a difference in the world as you do of winning the lottery.  Nobody cares about what you think or say.    

Hope and Possibilities:  History is made by people who did not give up.  Look at all the people who made a difference by their examples.  Jesus, Socrates, Mandela, Rosa Parks.

Doom and Gloom:  It goes without saying that you are no Jesus or even a Rosa Parks.  Many of the people that you mention were martyrs.  Do you aspire to make a difference by being a martyr?    

Hope and Possibilities:  I have been willing to take risks all of my life.  I have stood up for people.  I have stood against bullies.  I have risked any reputation or career advancement to stand up for integrity and morality.  No, I do not want to die for what I believe.  I would like to live a long and happy life.  But I will not change my beliefs to pacify or to conform to what others want to hear.

Doom and Gloom:  That is why you will never be successful in making a difference.  No one wants to hear your political diatribes and rants.  Your opinions are like raindrops on a duck’s ass.  People just want to be happy, and you are trying to make people unhappy.

Hope and Possibilities:  Probably true.  Over the years, I have said many things that people reject or that they think are even stupid ideas.  I have been guided by a desire to change how people think and what they see.  Einstein once said that “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  I have tried to think out of the box.  I see the world so different than so many people I know.

Doom and Gloom:    And what did this get you?  Converts?  No, enemies, loss of friends, arguments, disillusionment.  There is also a saying that goes “Insanity is defined by doing the same things and expecting different results.”  You my friend, are bordering on insanity.  Your blogs and writings have not made one bit of difference in the world.

Hope and Possibilities:  I have about two thousand readers each month who look at my blog and many of them have left positive comments.

Doom and Gloom:    You are preaching to the choir.  You are not reaching the people who will make a difference in the world.  You have a small fan club.  You do not get as many hits on your site in a month as Kim Kardashian gets in one hour on her site.

Hope and Possibilities:  If you want to hurt someone, you really know how.  If I make a difference with one person, I want to believe it makes my efforts worthwhile.

Doom and Gloom:  Sure, go ahead and keep telling yourself that myth.  You know you would really like to have more people listen to your ideas and to help support some of them.  Over the years, I have seen so many ideas come from your feeble brain and to date, I have not seen a single one of them adopted by anyone with the power or influence to implement them.  Ideas by themselves cannot make a difference.  You need power and action.   

Hope and Possibilities:  You are depressing me.  I want to say that you are wrong.  I am losing this battle.  I am not sure that I have anything left to say that could change your mind.

Doom and Gloom:   Maybe it is about time that you wake up and smell the roses.  If you need a purpose or goal in life, perhaps it is time to pick something else.  Time to stop being a Boy Scout.  The world will little care or long remember anything you say here.

Hope and Possibilities:  I guess this is where being an atheist is a liability.  I cannot fall back on Jesus, God, Saints, Zeus, Odin or any other supernatural being for help or for divine intervention.  I can only go on by faith in myself and by believing that whether or not I make a difference, I cannot give up trying.  I may not be the best in the world but I won’t lay down and do nothing.

Doom and Gloom:  The final words of a fool.      

Hope and Possibilities: 

“Just because an apple falls one hundred times out of a hundred does not mean it will fall on the hundred and first.”  ― Derek Landy

I finally slid out of bed after kissing my wife “good morning.”  It was still dark and cold.  I went into the bathroom to take my morning shower.  My mood brightened considerably but I still have not resolved the battle with myself.  I sometimes doubt that I ever will.  I need to be grateful today for what I have.  I need to help someone else and stop struggling with my ideas of success and failure.  I need to practice love and gratitude and not whether or not I have made a difference in the world.


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