Welcome to The WatchCat
Thursday, November 15 2018 @ 11:05 am PST

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Saying Goodbye

General NewsIt's time to say goodbye.

I don't know whether anyone even visits any more, since it has been so long since I've written here. Two years ago, I was finishing out my time as the head of an organization in crisis, and the months since then have been filled with aggressive, positive measures to rebuild the most important things.

I'm grateful -profoundly grateful- for the years of service and relationship that have come from this blog. I have made lifelong friends, and there have been moments that stunned me with the realization that I've accomplished something more than simply venting my thoughts. I'm proud of what I've done here, but a new phase of life beckons. There comes a time when we must step away from our past selves in order to fully embrace the people we can become. I've seen that with former PJs and other Spec Ops guys, with medical professionals, and those who have had to find the courage to embrace a different dream. Now it's my turn.

Thank you for being a part of it all. Thank you for encouraging me, for checking on me, for advising me and befriending me. This blog and the connected email address will go dark in December, so if you'd like to stay in touch, please drop me a line now at cat AT thewatchcat DOT net. The friendships should never go dark.

May God bless you all.
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Breaking radio silence...

General NewsI've been keeping my thoughts about the election quiet because there is great division within my family over these issues and I don't care to add fuel to the fire.

However, the "hot mic" scandal changes my perspective. Most of the things on my mind have already been said by numerous commentators, so I won't go after the general issues of morality or lack thereof. As others have said, Hillary is probably no better on that front.

What disturbs me most is Trump's comment, "When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything..."

If that's what Donald Trump thinks about being a reality TV star, what would he think he could do as POTUS? Important as the issue might be, sexual assault is the least of my worries about putting someone of Donald Trump's temperament into the Oval Office.

Unless the RNC comes up with a new nominee, I plan to vote 3rd party. I'm not optimistic. But I do believe the most wasted vote is the one you can't stand behind.
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General NewsYet another terrorist attack. And already the Tricolor is reappearing all over profile pictures in solidarity. Of course, a few days ago it was blue..and black...lines. And all but the youngest sheepdogs are starting to feel old.

We're feeling the saturation of a global situation in which it's impossible to appropriately engage with all the tragedy. We find ourselves mourning some deaths and merely wincing over others, trying to find our way through each devastating news cycle.

We can't solve it all and we can't understand it all. Sometimes it's a struggle just to breathe.

What does solidarity look like in this kind of world?

"He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?"
-Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Solidarity is filling in the gaps. It's being strong so that the body count in your town will be less, it's moving past grief into action, it's temporarily covering for weakness to provide room for healing.

So yes, honor the stories that move you. But let them spur you to be a better version of yourself tomorrow.
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Beating Hearts Matter

General NewsSeven months from my last post and I'm still struggling to find words for what I see around me.

The level of fracture in our nation is astounding. I landed in the thick of a related issue a few days early. In a moment of distraction I made a bad call related to a Confederate veterans group and flag. I was thinking about nuanced veterans' issues, but if anyone had been watching (and I pray they weren't!) it could have looked like I was saluting the Confederate flag. I felt the error almost immediately, squirmed quite a bit as the local issue escalated, and now with the escalated racial violence I'm wondering if I dare comment. But I'm going to do it anyway.

Forget black, blue, brown or white. Or even "all." Our problem as a society is that we institutionalized a sliding scale of human worth with Roe v. Wade. Several generations have grown up with the uneasy knowledge that if a baby isn't perfect or convenient or any other "choice" factor, it is acceptable for his/her life to be ended before it has barely begun. What did that teach our society?

You have the answer in the news.

I applaud the many attempts at racial reconciliation and understanding that are rising from the ashes of these recent killings. A friend of mine wrote a compelling piece about how no one really understands what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.

But "gun violence" and racial violence will rise or fall in proportion to how our nation measures human worth.
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Two Grandfathers

General NewsThanks to the wonders of Facebook, I got a reminder that my grandfather died a year ago yesterday. As I've written before, we didn't have the closest relationship, and that adds a different tang to the loss. I've talked it out with family at various points and it all comes down to one thing: he didn't know how to show his love. It's frustrating and heartbreaking, but all too common. Even from me. (Chip off the old block? I had a conversation last night with my living grandfather, KNOWING he doesn't have much time left, and while the affection between us was apparent we still didn't find the words.)

If we've learned anything from this era of terrorism, it's that death doesn't do schedules. If we wait for to say what we feel, odds are high that we'll be saying it at a gravesite, unable to see the impact of our words. That's not to say that our loved ones can't hear us; they do and it is always worth saying what needs to be said. But we are made for reciprocity. Our relationships need grounding in two-way communication.

We all have different emotional ranges and corresponding abilities to communicate those thoughts and feelings. It's not about pouring your heart out to all your battle buddies, unless you want to! Rather, it is about the next step forward...

The email response.
A warmer handshake.
An awkward hug.
One extra kind word.

...All to let somebody know that they MATTER.
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Paris Bookstore Sheltered Customers During Attacks

General Newshttp://www.buzzfeed.com/jarrylee/pari....ynna4jl2o
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Back to Basics

General NewsI live between two worlds. My days now are filled with laundry, driving to school, running the HOA and being the “company wife” in partnership with a man who is far too good at his work. I’m blessed in many ways and I choose to embrace this season of life. Yet there’s another side of me, the part unsurprised by the recent attacks in Paris (and Beirut, and Baghdad.) It’s the part of me that lived in London during the “Troubles,” the part that navigated more crazy situations in other countries than I want to remember, the part that found a home when studying the Special Operations Executive of WWII. That part of me looks at the mom part of me and quietly announces:

Game on, NOW.

It’s Game On for all of us. Whether we’re on the front lines or the sidelines, we need a sharper attitude to deal with mass shootings, suicide bombers and borderless wars. It’s less apple-pie and more occupied France or blitzed London. When I lived in London, we had absolutely no tolerance for unattended packages. My favorite stories were about people who accidentally left their lunch on a bench only to have it destroyed by the bomb squad. In Heathrow, an unattended suitcase instantly drew attention, and everyone held their breath until it was claimed.

“Tolerance” gets us nowhere. Tolerance allows a stench in the community and accepts a lower standard of behavior until we become the victims, then yowls for justice. In short, tolerance cannot stand up to reality. Compassion, on the other hand, says that we all screw up but we’re going to work together to make this better. Compassion can withstand harsh reality unchanged. Compassion demands more, not less. Compassion builds a stronger community and is intolerant of evil.

What does this mean for Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, Syria, New York or Portland? It means we report suspicious behavior to the authorities. It means we speak up when good people do stupid things. It means we build a mindset of preparedness so that when things go wrong, we know our options and can make a rational decision to act in a way that improves the situation. There’s a beautiful story about a Paris bookstore that sheltered people during the crisis. This is what is required of us: to hold on to those nearest to us and to act. Most of us will never be heroes of the headlines. That’s okay. We probably wouldn’t look good in the limelight. It’s far better to be able to look yourself in the eye the next day, knowing you did everything in your power. Make no mistake; the battles are coming.
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General NewsI haven't been this torn in a long time.

National security... I'm a hawk. I tend toward pragmatism first and ideals second when it comes to keeping our nation safe. I don't like it but I'm strangely astounded when I meet those who are squeamish regarding what is necessary to protect a nation.

Yet the Syrian refugee crisis and the parallels with WWII eat at me. I think of the Syrian monastery that deepened my faith and the friends who have family still in Syria. The choices before us are horrific. The threat of terrorists posing as refugees is acute. If we welcome large numbers of refugees, I am certain there will be terrorists among them. Many will be unsuccessful, but still, people will die.

If we don't welcome refugees, many will certainly die.

Our politicians have a responsibility to our citizens rather than to the world. That said, their responsibility is complex. Protecting our nation is paramount but requires a perspective far beyond an election cycle. If we welcome refugees on a scale with the vastness of our freedom, such hospitality will ripple for generations of Christian and Muslim Arabs.

We are America, saying that freedom may be dangerous but we will embrace the uncertainty because freedom is this important. We've been preaching it; we need to live it. Let them come see a land where they are innocent until proven guilty but we will sacrifice our lives to take down a murderer.

Yes, it will be the most dangerous of humanitarian missions. But instead of looking at all the reasons why we can't, let's put our energy into the logistics of making "welcome" a reasonable option.
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General NewsGood morning everyone!

I wrote last night about rebuilding our nation through individual excellence. This morning I would like to draw your attention to a group that is working to help Iraqi women and children rebuild their lives and stabilize their nation.

The core problem they seek to address is the backlog of congenital birth defects, particularly cardiac defects, caused by the past decades of malnutrition and exposure to mustard gas and depleted uranium. Yes, it feels as though it might be politically controversial, and I don't have personal experience with them to know how the back room conversations go. But in providing heart surgeries for children, they are doing something powerful to heal the damage of the past thirty years and to create stabilizing goodwill.

Choosing a charity to support is a tough decision, but the medical professionals reading this will know how powerful this work can be. Check out http://www.preemptivelove.org/problem
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Not the Time You Were Looking For

General NewsCaitlyn Jenner and gay marriage didn’t upset me.
Clinton, Trump, Walker, Bush, etc. etc . etcetera…
Immigration…racism... Labels.
The Cascadia Faultline.
“Planned Parenthood.”
Domestic terrorism.

I don’t think I’m the only one who feels strapped to a powder keg tonight. Divisiveness has marked the past decade, and in this time of comprehensive turmoil we are on a dangerous trajectory. We have too many options for banner issues. Emotions dictate too much of our public discourse, and we are vulnerable to anyone who shows any promise of leadership.

Why do I write this now, in the wake of the Chattanooga shooting? I’ve been listening to loyal Americans, including military families, talk about their disappointment with our country. Our Sheepdogs are frustrated as they gear up yet again. All political sides within the nation seem to despise the others. Add the Planned Parenthood scandal and the attack on our dis-armed Marines, and we are ripe for a groundswell of “we’ve had it.”

Our society has devalued human life, undermined the police and military who protect us, and divided ourselves not so much by class or race as by our opinions. We are ruled by blame, whether for ourselves or for others, and we use the blame and labeling as an excuse to avoid getting our hands dirty in the quest for real solutions.

We are drifting due to lack of leadership, and we are justifiably afraid that new leaders may lead us astray.

There’s an old church joke: parishes get the priests they deserve, not the priests they want. I think it may be true for nations too. Therefore the solution is not to ask for a better leader, but to build a better nation from the ground up. I’ve been studying one of my heroes, and in recent weeks I haven’t been able to shake one recurring comment: He wasn’t the most talented one. But he was the hardest worker. Meditate on that concept. Where can you challenge yourself? What opinions have not undergone the test of fire? Do your loved ones get your best or your worst? What do strangers get from you?

What can you do for your country? It’s time to answer that question.