The Notion of a Nation

On July 4, 1776 we declared that “The American Experiment” itself is an idea as much as it is a national experience. It is an idea that transcends place and provides a baseline for the ideology of a country, as well as for the life of an individual.

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Many people are turned off by the term “American Exceptionalism.” They believe it means that we are better than any country and if taken to its jingoistic extremes would be a problem. But that is not what the term means. It refers to the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty. It means that we are not a nation due to our heritage, but a nation due to the NOTION that people can govern themselves.

There is no doubt that there are some great dichotomies about our country. Two of the most obvious ones are how slavery could exist while liberty was at the forefront of every idea behind the revolution, and how we treated our indigenous people when life and the pursuit of happiness are paramount to our beliefs.

In fact, that strange duality existed nearly 300 years before we declared our independence. Its roots could be traced back to Christopher Columbus.

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In my conversation this week with world renowned historian Laurence Bergreen about his book, Columbus: The Four Voyages, we closely examine how this one time admired explorer was himself a walking contradiction. As Laurence reveals in Columbus’s letters to Ferdinand and Isabella, the great navigator truly loved the people he met on his voyage.

All are people of love and without greed, and suitable for every purpose. I assure Your Highnesses that in all the world there is no better people nor better country. They love their neighbors as themselves, and have the sweetest talk in the world, and gentle, and always with a smile.

However, to Columbus this implied that rather than treat these seemingly lovely people with kindness, they would be perfect to enslave. As Laurence writes:

It seemed to Columbus that the Indians were prepared to assume this role; indeed, with their show of subservience they were practically auditioning for it.

Why do such dualities, dichotomies and contradictions abound on the macro level of nations and the micro level of individuals?

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I believe it is because what truly separates humans from other animals are not our opposing thumbs, our large frontal lobes or our ability to produce art. It is that we are the only ones who know better and still do the wrong thing. Now that is exceptional!

So, as we celebrate the exceptional birth of our country, it has been a tradition in our household and one that I share every year with my readers, to spend a few moments with the beginning words of our Declaration of Independence, for you will then experience the notion of our nation.

Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In Congress, July 4, 1776 

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Have a very happy and safe holiday,

Barry

 

EPISODE LISTINGS AND TIMES ARE IN THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG.

TO CONTACT BARRY YOU MAY E-MAIL HIM AT: barrykibrick@aol.com

 

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Our Fathers, Ourselves

Good or bad, weak or strong, alive or dead, close or distant, our fathers are with us.

Juan Thompson – Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson

Sometimes the absence of something truly sends home its importance. In no situation is that more true than when it comes to fathers.

This being Father’s Day Weekend gives us all a chance to be grateful if we were blessed to have a father or father figure in our life.

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My guest this week on most of our PBS STATIONS, Juan Thompson, personifies that gratefulness to its fullest extent. For Juan grew up, with what he himself admits, is probably the most unique father-son relationship of the modern era. You see, Juan’s father was the man whom they coined the term “Gonzo” journalist after, the great but very atypical writer Hunter S. Thompson. 

It would be many years, though, until I could appreciate his gifts and his motives.

Growing up with an iconic legend, known as much for his writing as for his one-of-a-kind wild lifestyle, Juan truly was able to grasp the still important role a father plays in his child’s life.

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What do fathers want most from their sons? Do we only want them to be happy? Do we want them to be like us? Do we want to be loved? I don’t know what my father wanted from me – I know he needed my forgiveness.

What makes Juan’s story so riveting, and our conversation so revealing, is that even with a father who is unlike any you could imagine, if his love is felt, even if realized later in life, an everlasting bond is created.

I saw how Hunter loved my son, and I understood better how my father loved me.

So as we prepare to celebrate fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers and sons who are fathers, let us also take a moment to think about all those who come from a home where there was no father or father figure. For it is our duty to do all in our power to help these children.

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And to all the unsung heroes – (our FATHERS) – thank you dads for always being with us!

Enjoy this special day,

Barry

 

EPISODE LISTINGS AND TIMES ARE IN THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG.

TO CONTACT BARRY YOU MAY E-MAIL HIM AT: barrykibrick@aol.com

 

When Life and Art Are One

One of the greatest gifts a movie can give us is to see ourselves… We each are the star of our own movie. 

Illeana Douglas –

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We can debate whether life imitates art or if it is the other way around, but for Illeana Douglas life and art are one. And, when you read her book: I Blame Dennis Hopper: And Other Stories from a Life Lived In and Out of the Movies you will realize this is no exaggeration.

This talented actress and director has graced the big screen in some of the most memorable Martin Scorsese’s films. From Goodfellas to Cape Fear and from The Last Temptation of Christ to New York Stories, but as Scorsese himself told her: “I think the problem you are going to have in your career is that you are always going to be more interesting than your material.

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And you too will realize that when you meet Illeana this week on most of our PBS stations. Her riveting personality and striking looks will keep your eyes glued to the screen, while our conversation reveals not only a most unusual life, but in a very strange way, one we can all relate to on so many levels.

My life, which has often played like a movie, with me both in the movie and outside it.

Many of us have also felt our life sometimes plays outside ourselves. However, one of the wonderful things you take away from meeting Illeana is that it can also be something you embrace.

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In fact, as uncommon as her real life story is, she reminds us that all our lives are filled with unavoidable twists and turns. The secret is to not only come to terms with all the quirks and foibles we experience that make us feel out of place, but to cherish them and let them actually lead us on our own personal adventure.

Enjoy the week and may your own adventure be an Oscar contender,

Barry

 

EPISODE LISTINGS AND TIMES ARE IN THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG.

TO CONTACT BARRY YOU MAY E-MAIL HIM AT: barrykibrick@aol.com

 

Being Our Own Brand

We know we want more, but we’re not sure what it is that we need… More often it’s not the elimination of a clog but the creation of a new path.

Gary SzenderskiSzen Zone: Reaching a State of Positive Change

 My mother always had a saying that went like this: “I don’t know what I need but I know I need something.” It is a state that we all often find ourselves in.

I believe we feel that way most especially when we do not know our purpose, mission, or our brand. And even those lucky enough to have found all of the above still sometimes feel a yearning for what they believe is lacking in their life, without actually knowing what that is.

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Gary Szenderski is an author, speaker, teacher and branding specialist. He is internationally acclaimed as an expert on the subject of defining a company’s, an organization’s, and an individual’s brand and how to find that something you need but cannot put your finger on it.

Our perspective makes a difference in how all of it unfolds.

But changing our perspective, as simple as it sounds, is not as easy as we would wish it to be. Gary knows that: “Waiting for, and expecting something to happen can freeze a person into a stall.”

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So, are we just caught between a rock and a hard place? Not according to Gary:

If we tap into what got us here, we can create a better version of ourselves from here forward, one step, one chapter, one moment at a time.

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In our conversation this week on most of our PBS stations Gary and I explore this topic. Whether you find that something or not, you will get one step closer.

The deepest wisdom is not knowing your exact purpose in this world, but knowing that you do indeed have one.

Rabbi David Wolpe Off the Pulpit Blog 5-27-16

Also, this being the Memorial Day weekend I wish all my viewers and readers a good time with friends and family. Please though, as you gather around the barbeque, take the time to pause and be thankful for all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and those who continue to serve and defend our country. They certainly know their brand and purpose and we are all the better for it.

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Enjoy the holiday, the episode, and have a great week,

Barry

 

EPISODE LISTINGS AND TIMES ARE IN THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG.

TO CONTACT BARRY YOU MAY E-MAIL HIM AT: barrykibrick@aol.com

 

CHURCHILL

Never flinch, never weary, never despair.

Sir Winston Churchill 

No man can be given as much credit for saving the modern free world as Sir Winston Churchill.

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A book simply on his greatest quotes could fill a library. His words of wisdom, comfort and strength were the ultimate tools in defeating fascism, and spurred not only England, but all of the free world, especially the United States to battle evil.

What is especially important to note was that Churchill did not inspire because he was fearless, but rather because he was filled with fear.

Churchill was afraid. His fear reminded him of something outside the circumstances; something above them. He did what he did despite the fear, in mind of the thing above it.

Dr. Larry Arnn – Churchill’s Trial

Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College and one of the great Churchill scholars, reminds us in his book, Churchill’s Trial, how the greatest statesman of the twentieth century left us timeless wisdom to guide and shape our next century.

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Dr. Arnn lets us know just how prescient the great Churchill was when he cites a speech Churchill gave in 1931 titled: Fifty Years Hence.

In the speech Sir Winston said that he knew our world would be dominated by television and wireless phones. He was not concerned about the future but wanted to remind all that:

… The moral philosophy and spiritual conceptions of men and nations should hold their own amid these formidable scientific evolutions… No material progress, even though it takes shapes we cannot now conceive, or however it may expand the faculties of man, can bring comfort to his soul.

In my conversation this week with Dr. Arnn about Winnie we probe deep into the spirit of the great Sir Winston and prove why, as Churchill so eloquently stated: “All wisdom is not new wisdom.”

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Enjoy the episode and have a great week,

Barry

 

EPISODE LISTINGS AND TIMES ARE IN THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG.

TO CONTACT BARRY YOU MAY E-MAIL HIM AT: barrykibrick@aol.com

 

Woody-Wooden and Me

Most worthwhile things come wrapped in adversity… If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier. 

Coach John Wooden, as told to Woody Woodburn, in Wooden and Me 

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I get to magnify my blessings every time I hear from viewers. I also am blessed to meet some of the most wonderful people in the world and then get to share that experience. Add to the mix a great family and wonderful friends and what more could anyone ask for?

Okay, to be a little thinner and have more money.

That said, this is a rare occasion for me when I share with all this week’s episode. Because my guest, Woody Woodburn, was first a viewer. However, as a world class journalist, he also happened to develop a long-time, deep relationship with the greatest coach, John Wooden, who also was a guest on Between the Lines. 

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My conversation with Woody, about his friendship with Coach, felt like getting a double dollop of wisdom from two very special people. Woody’s friendship with Coach spanned decades and throughout the years they would often walk and talk together for many miles. Woody got to hear first-hand some of the coaches most important messages of life.

Whatever your goal is, if you take it one step at a time… If you focus on making each day your masterpiece – specifically, making today your masterpiece – well then it becomes doable. And it also becomes more enjoyable.

Have a great week, enjoy this stirring episode and make each day your masterpiece,

Barry

 

EPISODE LISTINGS AND TIMES ARE IN THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG.

TO CONTACT BARRY YOU MAY E-MAIL HIM AT: barrykibrick@aol.com

 

The Fact about Fiction

Everything in this story is true. Except those parts that aren’t, and even they are true.

Homer Hickam – On Between the Lines, talking about Carrying Albert Home

When Homer spoke those words to me, on this week’s episode of Between the Lines, it sent home how certain elements of fiction tell us more about truth and ourselves than what actually happens.

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Facts are facts, but deeper truths lay below the surface of facts. And, if we don’t uncover those truths through the stories we tell we are left with just facts and they can be more easily manipulated. Watch anything concerning this year’s presidential primaries and nothing more needs to be said.

Carrying Albert Home is based on Homer’s life. Many believe it is a prequel to his brilliant first book Rocket Boys. Homer’s personal memoir that was turned into the acclaimed film October Sky and gave Jake Gyllenhaal his first starring role as the young Homer Hickam.

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Homer himself calls Carrying Albert Home a family epic, it’s just this family includes Albert, who is an alligator. And like great epics, the truth underlies all even if certain elements are made up.

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Truth is just one of the many philosophical underpinnings that run through Carrying Albert Home.  Others ranging from love: “Heaven’s greatest and perhaps only true gift, that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.” To fear: “Sometimes it takes a fright to realize something about others and about yourself, too.” To time: “Time is really the only gift we receive from God that we can give to others.” Homer’s epic, and our conversation about it, runs the gamut of truths, even those parts that aren’t.

And to all those celebrating the original holiday of liberation, Passover, wishing you a wonderful Seder filled with stories of truth!

Barry

 

EPISODE LISTINGS AND TIMES ARE IN THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG.

TO CONTACT BARRY YOU MAY E-MAIL HIM AT: barrykibrick@aol.com