Sunday, June 27, 2010

Less Kindness for Strangers

Nothing surprising here: A paper presented in May at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Boston (“Changes in Dispositional Empathy in American College Students Over Time: A Meta-Analysis,” by Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan), found that college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than those of 30 years ago, with the numbers plunging primarily after 2000.

Although I am certainly aware of students that are engaged in charity work, I've often found myself in discussions with college professors about the lack of interest seen in most of the students. Compared with the 60's activism, college students seem to have a 'what is the point?' response to significant problems and needs around the world.

Many (if not most) of the people I know are more absorbed in the fate of actors on reality TV shows that with helping people with real needs. It seems common the hear people using terms like "love", "hate" and "angry" while talking about these shows.

Few TV shows have any moral lesson. In fact, most TV shows applaud and champion behaviors that would have been banned from TV in earlier times. I am not advocating a return to the rules that required the actors on "I Love Lucy" and other shows to use separate beds when the bedroom was filmed, but I pose this question: What was gained by trashy language, trashy behaviors and suggestions that moral decisions were no different than deciding what color shirt to wear?

The most common reply to that question is "It gave us freedom!" Sorry, that is just silly. We are free to eat rat poison. Freedom to portray outrageous behavior is not an accomplishment for the entertainment media. TV does influence opinions, attitudes, and behaviors. Stating that 'you do not have to watch' and 'it is up to parents to supervise' are shallow responses.

When families included stay at home moms who could monitor what their children were watching on TV, there were stronger TV standards than today, when most moms and dads are working and not with the kids.

Freedom from rules always sounds great to those that do not follow rules. That is why so many people 'church shop' until they can find a group that believes in 'their god' - you know - the one that doesn't have 10 commandments, rules, or consequences.

The New York Times published an article about the college study and that article ended with this statement. The implications are hardly superficial. Low empathy is associated with criminal behavior, violence, sexual offenses, aggression when drunk and other antisocial behaviors. Depressing news.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Take Care in our Thoughts

Happiness is a state of mind. Be careful what we fill our minds with and be happy.

Being informed is a good thing and knowledge helps us make sound decisions. However, I find myself filtering what I am willing to read, listen to, look at and think about. The filtering process is simple. As I scan a story, I consider how the information is useful to me and what I will do about the situation. Some news is simply fun. I like to follow some of the sports teams. It is 'useful' to me because I am entertained. Some of the news helps to shape my opinion about politicians and world views. I use this information when I vote or e-mail politicians and news outlets. Some information, like Hatti's tragedy, is good because I sent money to help.

However, most of the news is trash and all of the exploitative photographs and some of the real-life situations are things I can live without.

One reason we live in fear and anxiety is because we consume 24-hours of news about violence that is halfway around the world. I am not talking about our military. I am talking about murders, rapes and carjackings in China, Cleveland, Detroit and Miami and everywhere else I never visit. By the end of the week, I see danger everywhere.

The reality is that in my community there is very little crime and it is all petty crime. Even in the colonias of Acuna, where I often walk, there is relatively little crime.

I like to avoid bad and worrisome thoughts. Either I do something to improve the situation or I leave it in God's hands. There is very little to be upset about. Being depressed and worried can often be avoided if we work at it.

This past week I lost my new iPad. Absolute carelessness on my part! It may have been stolen from my unlocked car. This iPad was a substantial investment and contained all of my personal information. No problem. I changed all of the passwords on my accounts and now do not have an iPad. I will monitor my credit report. Other than feeling careless and foolish, I am not really all that concerned.

You see, I lost the iPad while in the colonias learning about an 8-year old girl named Carmen. I met her a few weeks ago and began helping her family because this child has cancer. On the day I lost my iPad, I was back at Carmen's house and learned that she will lose her eye. The doctor said that the entire eye and eye socket will be removed because the cancer is spreading. Carmen is 8-years old. Her mother and Carmen have real problems. I only did something stupid and lost an iPad.

Today, I worked in my flowerbed for an hour and considered ways to raise more funding to help more children like Carmen. The flowers are doing great and the weeds are now gone. I hope I can keep weeds out of my mind.

Want to do a little weeding of your own? Check out my website at

Another Day Without Problems

Carmen is eight years old. Carmen has cancer. Her mother is crying. The doctor said that the treatments are not working and that Carmen's eye must be removed. A glass eye is not an option. Because of he cancer, the entire eye socket will be removed. Carmen is eight years old.

I have no problems. Not a damn one.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

All is Well in Acuna - June 8, 2010

All remains quiet in Acuna. We have another little boy in need of help. He arrived at the hospital for acute appendicitis, but was also found to have leukemia. It seems that there is either a high incidence of cancer in this area or that I am simply stumbling across every case.

In an odd twist of fate, a woman came up to ask if Elias remembered her. Several years ago she came to us for help because her child suffered from leukemia. She said that when she met us the first time, she thought the world was over. "I was desperate. We could not afford treatments. We thought our child was certain to die."

Paper Houses provided help and as the situation seemed to be improving, we moved on to other children in need.

The lady said she was not able to phone us because our number changed. She said that she kept praying she would see us again so she could thank us. Her child is completely recovered! Her child is doing great in school and she invited us to visit her family. We will stop by in July.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 5, 2010 Paper Houses Continues to work in the border cities

While other blogs post rumors and news that falsely portrays the border cities of Mexico as nothing more than Dodge City, we continue to walk the streets in Acuna and Piedras without a hint of a problem.

Readers be ware! When blog cites jump thousands of miles in order to 'report' about the violence in Mexico - consider the reality. Every U.S. border city has very low crime rates, compared to the rest of the U.S.A. In order to keep blogging about 'Mexico's border violence' some sites jumped to violence in Jamaica! Send these people an Atlas and stop reading their hyped up trash.

We remain on the border. We walk the streets and we see the situation with our own eyes. Although the Zeta Cartel has been present in Acuna for two years, we've only seen four verifiable crimes and NONE against Americans. After 30 years in law enforcement I acquired a skeptical attitude and always look for the 'bad' in situations, places and people. Occupational hazard. I am not naive. There are unreported kidnappings and other crimes against Mexicans in Acuna. Also, I would like to see the Zetas run back into the sewers. However, Acuna remains peaceful and I remain vigilant as I walk the streets.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 3, 2010 Acuna Remains Quiet -

Another very quiet and peaceful weekend in Acuna. Piedras also remains quiet, although it appears that the burned remains of three young women, said to be closely associated with drug dealers, were found.

The Borderland Beat continues to exaggerate the violence in Piedras in today's blog when they write about 'daily street shootings' in Piedras. I am in Piedras and cannot find anyone that even heard about 'daily' street shootings. The real violence is news. Borderland Beat should stick to the real violence or perhaps they could report on, well, the border as it really is: no violence this weekend.

Although Piedras and many border cities remain dangerous, I am much more likely to be injured while driving to and from the border cities than actually being injured in the border-cities.

Over 200,000 people live in Piedras that are in no way involved with the drug cartels, politics, the army or the police. Guess how many of them were killed this year? That's right - none. Hmmmmmm. Hard to believe a blog or news service would exaggerate a situation.

Casa Hogar del Nino Closes

Antonio's Casa Hogar del Nino shelter for children closed its doors. We received an e-mail from the family of Antonio that explained the shelter was closed because the shelter cannot meet the 'new requirements' for shelters in the area.

The children are being placed in nearby shelters.