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No. 1 - OUR ATTITUDES CONTROL OUR LIVES

No. 1

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

OUR ATTITUDES CONTROL OUR LIVES

William James of Harvard University, the father of American psychology, oncesaid, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." This profound statement made many years ago, contains tremendous potential to help us become happier and more successful human beings. After all, isn't this what most of us want our lives to be?

My wife has a sweat shirt with the words, "I have an attitude" printed across the front. To symbolize the word "attitude", there is also a picture of a duck with the most awful facial configuration you can imagine. The dictionary defines "attitude" as: a state of mind or feeling.

Unlike computers, which can only store facts, statistics and other data, the human mind also has the capability of storing feelings and emotions. The marvelous human mind, with its many and diverse powers is what produces thoughts, and these thoughts become the basis for our actions. Our actions, therefore, are the result of not only what we think, but also how we feel. As it relates to our personal success, it's important to realize that actions trigger feelings, and feelings trigger actions. Your thoughts and feelings produce "attitudes." As Dr. James points out, "human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."

There have been a number of people and organizations who have conducted studies to determine the basis for personal success and they all pretty much conclude the same thing. Mental attitude accounts for about 85% of our overall success in life, while skills and knowledge make up the balance.

I would like to share a true, life experience that can help us see how important our mental attitude really is and why it controls our lives. In the 1958 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Braves, during the late innings of a very crucial game, Elston Howard, power hitting Yankee catcher, was up to bat. With the count three balls and two strikes, the Braves' manager went out to the mound to talk with Warren Spahn, his great left handed pitcher. The manager said, "Don't give him a high outside pitch, because he will hit it out of the park!", and returned to the dugout.

It was too late! Warren's computer-like mind registered the thought "high outside pitch", which is exactly where the ball went! The manager was right: Elston Howard hit it out of the park. As Elston circled the bases, Warren Spahn threw his glove down in the dirt and made what has become a classic statement. He said, "WHY would anyone motivate themselves or others with the reverse of an idea?"

You see, because of the way the human mind is constituted, we always move in the direction of our currently dominant thought. The chances that Warren Spahn would have been successful in pitching to Elston Howard would have been greatly increased if the manager had simply said, "Keep the ball low and inside."

The reason attitudes control our lives is simple. We always move in the direction of our currently dominant thought. When we are thinking good and true things and have worthy goals to strive for, a positive attitude will definately give us the advantage. As I've said many times during speaking engagements around the country, "It's your attitude and not your aptitude that will determine your altitude" (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 2 - DISCOURAGEMENT: ONE OF OUR GREATEST ENEMIES

No. 2

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DISCOURAGEMENT: ONE OF OUR GREATEST ENEMIES

It's just common sense to realize that we cannot do our best when we are deeply discouraged. Each of us should spend some time and learn what causes discouragement and what steps we can take to avoid or overcome it -- that is, if we want to achieve outstanding success. To achieve anything really worthwhile in life, there comes a time we refer to as "the moment of truth." In any undertaking, when we begin to struggle and maybe even have serious doubts, the moment of truth is that critical time when we either give up or keep going. If you will examine this statement, I believe you will conclude the reason many people give up far short of achieving success is because they become discouraged. On the other hand, those who keep going are those who find a source of inner strength which enables them to defeat or overcome discouragement.

It's natural and even necessary to give up on some things, especially if our priorities are wrong or the odds are too great. To be sure, I've given up many times, but the key to success in most anything is to know when to give up and when to keep going. More often than not, however, the reason most people are not successful is that they give up too quickly. There is a vast difference in giving up on reaching a specific goal and in giving up on life, in general. There is usually no real tragedy when we give up on a specific goal, but there is a real tragedy when we give up on life.

If you are a person who has a tendency to become deeply discouraged, I want to remind you of the source of discouragement, by sharing a story I heard some time ago: "Once upon a time, Satan, growing old and weary, decided it was time for him to retire from active work. He offered all of his devilish inventory of tools for sale to the highest bidders. At the time of the auction, the tools were all neatly arranged: envy, malice, enmity, sensuality, deceit and all of the other devices of evil. Each was plainly marked, and the price was surprisingly low, except for the ungainly piece of much used steel marked, "discouragement." It was marked ten times more than any of the other tools.

"Why, Mr. Satan", asked a prospective buyer, "do you ask so much for this tool?" "Well", replied the old tempter, "this tool has always been my most useful one. You can see that it has more wear than any of the others. I can use it as a wedge to get into a person's mind and defeat him, when all other means fail."

If this story has any truth in it, and I for one believe that it does, we can plainly see that Satan is the source of discouragement. He wants us to give up, sit down and wallow around in self-pity. If we allow this to happen, we certainly won't accomplish anything worthwhile for God, our fellow man, or anyone else, including ourselves. The only way to overcome discouragement is by intelligent action. Once you decide to do something worthwhile and get started, you'll soon find discouragement will leave you.

The exact opposite of discouragement is courage and this is simply the quality of mind that meets danger or opposition with firmness. Isolated performances of great deeds do not make individuals heroes or cowards, they simply reveal character to the eyes of others. Every successful life needs challenges, hurdles to overcome, and problems to solve in order to bring the power of courage into play. God has given us a will and in America we have the freedom and the opportunity to make choices. In every important decision in life, God votes for us, Satan votes against us, and it's left up to us to break the tie! (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 3 - WRITTEN WITH PREJUDICE

No. 3

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WRITTEN WITH PREJUDICE

The English critic and essayist, William Hazlitt (1778-1830), once said, "Prejudice

is the child of ignorance." Without question prejudice has no place in a civilized society, because it leads to attitudes and actions based on conclusions that are preconceived, rather than information that is factual. Prejudice is usually associated with bigotry and hatred, but prejudice in itself is not necessarily bad. It can be good, if we are prejudiced toward the right things and in the right way. The real danger is that we often let our emotions get in the way.

Some time ago, Mr. Robert C. Howe, principal of the North Kansas City High School, was in Little Rock to address a conference of school administrators and I had the privilege of being in the audience. During his speech he shared something he called "Written With Prejudice", and I enjoyed it so much I asked him for a copy. If you have youngsters of your own, or grandchildren, I believe you will appreciate it, as well.

First, a mother is speaking: "Dear Teacher, Please find attached to this note one six year old boy, much cleaner and quieter than usual and with new hair cut and blue jeans. With him go the prayers of his mother and father. He's good at creating airplanes and chaos, very adept at tying knots and attracting stray dogs; he especially likes peanut butter, horses, the westerns, empty boxes and his shirt tail out. He is allergic to baths, bedtime, taking out trash, and coming the first time he's called. He needs to be taught and spanked, loved and spanked, and reminded to blow his nose and come straight home after school. After having him in your class and on your nerves, you may not be the same, but I believe you will be glad to know him, because while he strews books, toys and clothes, he has a special way of scattering happiness. Written, I'm afraid, with prejudice." Signed, his Mother.

Here's the principal's response: "Dear Mother, Please find attached to this diploma one 18 year old boy, much more mature, with loftier ideals and goals than he had when you sent him to us some 12 years ago. With him go the prayers of his teachers and friends. He's good at different things now. He has more understanding of the world about him. He is able to do mathematical computations, knows something of the scientific approach to problem solving. He can read and write in at least the English language, an has probably developed some skills in typing, woodworking, art and driving an automobile. He is still allergic to baths, bedtime, taking out the trash and coming the first time he's called. He still needs to be taught and loved, but perhaps not spanked. He needs to be reminded of the adult responsibilities of adult membership in the American society, to uphold the ideals of good citizenship, integrity, honesty, justice, humility and priority of life. He needs to realize that the completely successful life involves a partnership with his family, his community and his God. He should be told that education is a never ending process and only begins at the schoolhouse door. After having him in our classes and on our nerves, we are not the same! We're better people, enriched by his presence, broader in our understanding of humanity for having known him. We think we have provided him with an unbounded opportunity to learn in an atmosphere that has as its principle purpose the development of well informed citizens who carry on the great traditions of America. We love him, too. Written also with prejudice." Signed, his principal.

To amplify my own sentiments with respect to this excellent article, every freedom loving American needs to take a positive attitude towards the schools in this nation and do what we can to make them better in the years to come. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 4 - WHEN YOU GET INVOLVED WITH DRUGS, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOUR "FRIENDS" ARE

No. 4

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHEN YOU GET INVOLVED WITH DRUGS,

YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOUR "FRIENDS" ARE

The late Thomas Hughes, English author and reformer, once said, "Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God's best gifts. It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one's self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another." This is certainly a true statement and one that those of us who cherish our friends can really appreciate.

However, there is a moral and social crisis in the world today which can make it difficult to know who our true friends really are. I'm referring to the terrible scourge of illegal drugs. For those who choose to get involved, the idea or thought of true friendship can quite often be a rude and painful awakening. There are millions of tragic stories that will bear this out and I have one of those stories to share with you. This true story involves a young person who got involved with drugs and it took place only a few miles from where I live, so it really hit close to home.

A young man in his twenties was a college student, and like so many others, he fell into bad company and before long he was using drugs on a regular basis. During this time he met another young man and they became friends. He had been left an old house in a will, and he was fixing it up to live in and his friend even spent several days helping him get it ready.

A few miles from the college town where these young men were both living, they had started a marijuana field to grow plants, harvest them and sell the drugs to other students and anyone else who came along. One afternoon, just a short time ago, they both left school early to go to the marijuana field to harvest some plants. It had become their custom for one of them to carry a gun, since they had become wary of the local authorities. As they made their way through a thicket of small pine trees, the young man who owned the house, was a few feet in front of his friend, and he heard the hammer of the gun click. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground dazed, because his friend had shot him and presumed him to be dead.

As he continued to lay there, he heard the bite of a shovel as it tore hunks out of the pine floor. His friend was digging his grave. Realizing his only chance to survive was a knife he carried in his pocket, he slowly pulled it out and opened the blade. His real problem however, was that the blast of the gun had left him blinded. When his so-called "friend", who had now become his assailant, finished digging and came over to put him in the grave, as he heard footsteps close by, the young man lunged at him with the open knife blade and ripped into the calf of his assailant's leg. He expected to be finished off, but his assailant left without doing him further harm. Later it was revealed he had left to get medical attention.

For the next two days and nights, in a mosquito and snake infested forest, the young man wandered totally blind until he finally staggered upon a farm house where he was able to find help. Today he is living with his parents in a nearby town and he will be blind for the rest of his life.

While the subject of drugs and the havoc they wreak in people's lives in endless, I believe this true story will shed light on the problem from a little different angle. It's true, when you get involved with drugs, you never know who your friends are. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 5 - COURTESY NEVER COSTS -- IT PAYS

No. 5

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

COURTESY NEVER COSTS -- IT PAYS

=Are you a courteous person? Those truly courteous in their dealings with others will find many doors opening for them, and it's also a sign of good breeding. However, genuine courtesy goes far beyond the obvious. It's much more than permitting others to break in line at the cafeteria, the supermarket checkout stand, or even saying, "Here, let me get that for you."

The other evening the phone rang at our house and a very pleasant sounding young woman was on the line attempting to enlist subscribers for a new magazine. After she introduced herself and the product she was selling, she went into her sales pitch. I listened very attentively and when she finished, I told her I had read a previous issue of her magazine and liked it, but due to some commitments in other areas, I didn't want to subscribe at this time. She thanked me very politely and hung up the phone.

Now you may say, "What's so unusual about this conversation with a telephone solicitor?" Well, you be the judge, but in light of what I've been hearing the past few years, apparently a lot of people are very rude to telephone solicitors when they call. In many cases, they yell at them, swear at them, or just slam the receiver down in their ear. I'm convinced that some people are rude by nature and extend this form of discourtesy to everyone they are around. Others feel they are being harassed and they develop a "mind set" to telephone solicitors and just turn them off. On the other hand, many people have been unduly influenced by negative comments made by their family or friends about telephone solicitors.

If you are in the habit of doing this, I want to share some thoughts with you that may cause you to change your thinking. The reasons will become obvious as you read on. In the end, I hope you will see that courtesy never costs -- it pays, and here are some reasons why this is true: A lot of people who are rude never stop to realize the American free enterprise system is based on sales, and this includes sales made over the telephone. Without sales our whole economic system slows down and in time, this puts many people out of work. But you say, "If I want to buy something I will call them or go to a store." While this is true, just stop for a moment and think about where the money you have in the bank came from. In part, it also came from sales and some of those sales were made over the telephone.

When the young woman I mentioned makes a sale, think about the chain reaction that takes place. She gets a paycheck, as do others in her company. They can take their earnings and pay house payments, car payments and utility bills. They can buy groceries, eat out once in a while, and go to a movie. God only knows what all that money will be spent for. As I say, sales keep our economic system moving and either directly or indirectly, we all benefit.

I hope the next time someone calls trying to sell you something, if you're not by nature a courteous person, you will remember what I've said and be thoughtful and considerate of the salesperson's feelings. You don't have to yell, swear, or hang up; just very calmly and politely say, "I'm sorry, I'm not interested in what you are selling, but I appreciate your calling." You will be amazed at what this will do for you and for the caller. My friend, it's true; it doesn't cost a penny to be courteous and it will pay you a tremendous dividend for your time and energy. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 6 - THE SILENT PATIENTS SPEAK

No. 6

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE SILENT PATIENTS SPEAK

Have you ever thought about the thousands of people in this country who spend countless hours confined to a bed in a hospital or a nursing home, who for one reason or another cannot speak for themselves or make their wishes known? If I had family or loved ones in this condition, I would want to know they were receiving the best possible medical care, but I would also want to know that the people who were taking care of them were thoughtful, tenderhearted and kind, especially in light of a touching article I read a

while back.

This article is titled The Silent Patients Speak, and it was written by Anita Wildhaver, a registered nurse. If you have never had a reason to contemplate the plight of people in this condition, I believe the message this article contains will speak to your heart.

"Though we can't speak, see, or move of our own will, we are living beings. We are your stroke patients, the brain damaged, and all your other patients who by illness or in-jury are locked inside the dark, silent shells of our bodies. We can't cry out in pain or discomfort, regardless of how severe they are. We can't express anger, despair, disgust, nor even happiness. But hear us, you walking, talking, feeling, doing beings. Some of us are aware. We hear, think and know. We are not living vegetables, nor do we think we would be 'better off dead'. We still have enough self-respect to be embarrassed at hearing your conversation about your personal problems and your sex lives."

"We are frightened by your conversations that relate the latest gossip about the questionable ability of the doctor who is responsible for our care, for his knowledge must be used to save us, if we are to ever recover. We feel shame at having our bodies exposed for any and all to see. It does matter to us that we lie in feces or urine for hours, and our muscles ache with pain from the strain of remaining in one position without being moved. We can feel our mouths filled with mucus, drying and caking to form ulcerated areas. We can feel the stomach cramps from ice cold tube feedings with all the speed and lack of concern of pouring water down the drain."

"We can feel the pain of our skin breaking down from poor and careless nursing care. We can also feel joy -- the joy derived from the firm, gentle touch of a person giving us good nursing care. We can rest more carefully when we are bathed, when our mouths and lips are cleansed, when our bodies are correctly positioned, when good skin care is given, when our beds ar made neat and straight. We can appreciate being told when procedures are about to be done, before they are begun."

Thanks, Anita, your words have so much meaning and hopefully, my sharing this will help some of these dear people receive better care. The vast majority of people in the nursing profession are kind, thoughtful and considerate, and highly qualified from

a medical standpoint. Unfortunately a small percentage are not. Then, too, because of human nature, we all have bad days from time-to-time, and get up on the wrong side of the bed. Still other people have so many personal problems and are so wrapped up in themselves that they just don't think at all.

Sometimes all it takes to make tremendous changes for the better is a simple reminder of things we know but have forgotten. As Will Rogers once said, "it's just as important to be reminded as it is to be educated." If you know someone, either a nurse or a patient who might benefit from this article, why not take a moment and share it? It could result in some of the greatest blessings you have ever received. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 7 - A FEW DOLLARS AND A DREAM

No. 7

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A FEW DOLLARS AND A DREAM

When our forefathers were establishing this nation, they never intended we should all be equal. Rather, their goal was for every individual to have equal opportunity. This simple philosophy or concept has produced more "rags to riches" success stories than any other economic system in the history of the world. If we don't see opportunity all around us, in most cases it's not because it is not there; it's because we cannot see it. Do you have any idea what it takes to get ahead financially in this country? Well, I can answer this question in just six words: a few dollars and a dream.

There is a story behind these six words that has given them a very special meaning and I believe it will also give you something worthwhile to think about. When the United States of America was celebrating the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty, many true life stories came to light about people who had come to this country with little more than the shirts on their backs, but over the years they had become highly successful.

The story I mentioned is about Casey Rowe. Casey Rowe came to America from South Korea some time after the great depression. At the time, all he had was a wife, seven children and $700. As he said, all he had was "a few dollars and a dream." He had no job, no friends, and except for a few personal items, he had nothing else. Casey's first job was as an axe grinder. At night he would come home so tired he would literally cry himself to sleep, only to get up and do it all over again the next day.

But Casey Rowe did not give up and he worked and worked, and saved a small portion of what he earned. His close family relationships gave him great emotional strength and courage and before many years had passed, he had saved enough money to go into business for himself. Today, if you go to the Terminal Building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, you will find Casey Rowe and his family hard at work in the produce business -- at 4 a.m., and the whole family works. They do over a millions dollars worth of business each year!

I'm sure many people who do business at their produce market have no idea of the tremendous struggle and the years of hard work it took for their business to prosper as it is doing today. It's easy for the casual observer to say, "Oh, these people are hard workers" or "They had money to begin with" or "They inherited the business." For people who have never achieved financial success, they either don't want it or haven't been willing to pay the price for it. The saddest part of all is that there are millions of people who have opportunity all around them, but have never been able to see it or develop a sufficient belief in themselves to go after it.

The fact that Casey Rowe came from another country may have been an asset, because life where he came from may have been harder than it is here. On the other hand, we know of thousands of people who came from other countries who don't achieve financial success. Many of these people have returned home broke and discouraged, while others stay but have to struggle to survive.

The message of Casey Rowe's story is simple. If you want to achieve greater financial success, all you need is a few dollars and a dream, and then be willing to work hard for the next ten to twenty years to make your dream come true. As Elbert Hubbard once said, ôSuccess is the realization of the estimate which you place upon yourselfö. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 8 - WHO SHOULD READ THE BIBLE?

No. 8
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
WHO SHOULD READ THE BIBLE?

Prussian born Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), considered by many to be the foremost philosopher of the modern period, once said: "The Bible is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced." To have the Bible and yet not read it would be like going without food for several days, showing up at a banquet and saying, "I'm not hungry." For some, the discovery of the eternal truths contained in the Bible comes early in life, for others, it comes much later. Some people never make this discovery, and as a result they miss the benefits of knowing the God of the Bible in a personal way. As I look back over my own life, one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't discover what was really in the Bible until a good portion of the race had already been run.
About fourteen years ago, after agreeing to teach a boy's Sunday school class, I made the decision to read the Bible through once each year and pleased to say, I'm fulfilling that commitment. Until I asked the Holy Spirit to guide and control my thinking and my life, I never dreamed the Bible was so rich and so exciting! Because I'm so excited about the Bible, I just wanted to share an article, titled, "Who Should Read The Bible" that might be of value to you.
"Who should read the Bible? The young: to learn how to live. The old: to know humility. The rich: for compassion. The poor: for comfort. The dreamer: for enchantment. The practical: for counsel. The weak: for strength. The strong: for direction. The haughty: for warning. The humble: for exaltation. The troubled: for peace. The weary: for rest. The sinner: for salvation. The doubting: for assurance. All Christians: for guidance."
When I read this the first time, I came to the conclusion that it pretty well covers the waterfront. It talked about the young, the old, the ignorant, the learned, the rich, the poor, the dreamer, the practical, the weak, the strong, the haughty, the humble, the troubled, the weary, the sinner and all Christians. Surely you can see yourself in there somewhere -- I can see me, several times. I'll confess that I've learned that I need the Bible and its wisdom and encouragement each day of my life. You know, for any of us to be saved, we must first admit we are lost. Whether you read the Bible or not, there is good reason why this book is the all time best seller. It contains truth, inspiration and guidance that can give our lives meaning, purpose and hope that no other source can give. I stand in awe of its power. Isn't it great to know that God loves us and we are very precious to Him? That's what it says in the Bible!
Now, I'm not naive and I realize that many people reading this column do not believe in God or the Bible and I respect every person's right to think and believe as they choose. In my own personal life however, as a Christian I am willing to take a stand for Jesus Christ and the Bible. I might add, this is consistent with our nation's heritage. One study found that of 15,000 writings by the Founding Fathers included in newspaper articles, pamphlets, books, monographs, and other documents, 94% of all quotes either directly or indirectly cited the Bible. Fifty two of the 55 framers of the Constitution were avowed Christians.
While Iãm certainly not a preacher, in these days when civility is taking a back seat, we must return to the Biblical standards of our forefathers. From their hearts flowed the documents and structures to form the foundations of this great nation. Over the coming years we can do this and every American will be richer for it. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 9 - NO $12.00 SEWING MACHINE

No. 9
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
NO $12.00 SEWING MACHINE

We know from personal experience, as well as observing the lives of other people, that if we are to achieve true and lasting success our lives and our careers must be built on a solid foundation of truth and integrity.
For example, how many times do you have to catch another person in an outright lie before you would begin to doubt everything else they say? The answer to that question is once, because from that point on there will always be an unmistakable breach in his or her credibility. Some time ago I heard a humorous story I believe really illustrates the importance of credibility. This is supposedly a true story and I heard it at my deer camp, in Drew County, Arkansas.
In the early 1930s during the great depression, a woman from a rural southeast Arkansas community was married to a man who was from near Trenton, Tennessee. Times were really tough for this couple over in Tennessee and some of this woman's relatives in Arkansas learned of their condition.
As a result of the news, Uncle Babe, one of her uncles, took it upon himself to get in touch with this the couple and he painted a very optimistic picture. He said, "Luther", we want you and Aire Mae to load up and come to Arkansas. We can raise a cotton crop together and there are plenty of wild hogs in the woods here, so we can have lots of fresh meat. In fact, prices in town are very reasonable. You can even get a new sewing machine for $12.00 and prices on other things are reasonable, too."
When Luther heard the good news, he thought he had died and gone to heaven! In fact, he couldn't wait to get loaded up and headed out. They traveled the better part of two days in an old Model A Ford and got to her uncle's house late at night. Naturally, they had to wake everybody. When they all got up and were sitting around talking, Luther said, "Uncle Babe, the first thing in the mornin' can we go out and get one of them wild hogs? Me and Aire Mae ain't had any fresh meat in months, and as soon as we get settled, I'll be ready to start that cotton crop."
Uncle Babe was on the spot, so he said, "Sure, Luther, we'll go out first thing in the mornin'." After breakfast Uncle Babe got out his twenty-two pistol and they headed out through the woods in the back of the house. Before long they came upon some hogs and Uncle Babe picked out a good one and took aim and fired. He was a crack shot and the hog fell almost in its tracks. At this point, he turned to Luther and said, "Here, hold this gun!", and he grabbed the hog, slung it over his shoulder and started running.
Luther said, "how come you're in such a hurry, Uncle Babe, we got us a wild hog, ain't we?" Uncle Babe said, "Yeah, but I don't think the folks who own this hog will understand." You see, Uncle Babe had shot someone else's hog! As they were running through the woods, Luther said to himself, "Humph! I bet there ain't no $12.00 sewing machine, either."
This is a clear case of where Uncle Babe had told a lie and as a result he lost his credibility with Luther. The moral of this true story is simple: if we want to have credibility with another person, unless it would bring unmerited harm to ourselves or others, we must always tell the truth. If we don't tell the truth, in every area of our lives, we are building the foundation for our future on sand and when the storms of adversity come along, it will not stand the test of time. What goes around comes around. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 10 - AND THEN SOMEÉ

No. 10

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AND THEN SOME ....

In our modern day society, we hear a great deal these days about the "secrets of success." In reality there are really no secrets, as this is simply a marketing gimmick used to sell many of the success motivation programs that are around today. True success can be summed up by these words of former President Harry S. Truman: "I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand - with everything they had of energy, enthusiasm and hard work."

Some time ago I had a wonderful, unique experience that brought this truth home to me in a very special way. During a "How To Plan Your Life" seminar at one of the many high schools where I've been privileged to work, I met a young man by the name of Danny Sanders. Danny was a member of the senior class, and a few weeks after my seminar, to my surprise I received a three page hand written letter from him. Just the fact that a high school senior had taken the time to write was very gratifying, but he shared something in his letter that may be of value to you.

In his letter Danny told me about a young man who had become very successful at a young age. When someone asked him how he did it, he said, "And then some." When asked what he meant, he replied, "When I was in school and my teachers asked me to do something, I did it -- and then some. Later, when I got a job and my employer told me to

do something, I did it -- and then some. (You will notice we have gone from "asking" to "telling".) Finally, when I started a business of my own, I did what my customers expected -- and then some."

You see, this successful young man had been applying the universal natural law of cause and effect. This law, simply stated, means that for every cause there must be an effect, and for every effect there must be a cause. By rendering more service than was actually required, he was using this universal law to get more rewards in return.

When it comes to achieving success, one of the biggest mistakes many people make is wanting the rewards before they render the service. This could be compared to a man standing in front of a cold, wood burning stove and saying, "Give me some heat and then I will put in the wood."

A real understanding and application of this universal law which has been stated as "And then some", will give you everything on earth you desire. If you are having trouble making ends meet, or having trouble in school or on your job, pause here and ask yourself this question: "Am I doing everything that is expected of me with the right attitude -- and then some?" If you're not, then you are needlessly holding yourself back.

When you apply this principle to the success of a business, that little extra -- and then some -- is the profit, and without earning a profit, you won't be around very long. Until next time, here is something to think about that may be of great value to you. When a person concentrates all available energies on one specific task, the possibility of success is greatly increased. When time and talent are divided between several enterprises, chances of success are proportionally reduced. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 11 - BUT ... THE BUMBLE BEE CAN'T FLY!!

No. 11
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BUT ... THE BUMBLE BEE CAN'T FLY!!

One day in this small community, a patrolman stopped a woman who was speeding. He asked to see her driver's license and said, "Lady, you were going fifty miles an hour in a thirty-five mile an hour zone." As she handed him her license, she said, "Before you begin writing that ticket, I think we should get our priorities straight. Are you supposed to advise me of my constitutional rights first, or am I supposed to tell you that my son is the head of the state highway patrol?"

As you read this humorous story, did you understand exactly what this lady had in mind? If you did, then you have some insights into the process of communication. While she did not say so, it's obvious that she was trying to use her son's influence to avoid paying a speeding ticket. The ability to communicate is a wonderful gift and those in our society who develop and use it well, have a tremendous advantage over those who do not.

As we think about the importance of communication in your own life, I would like to tell you another story involving communication that could have a tremendous bearing on your future. It's the story of the bumble bee. According to the theory of aerodynamics, the bumble bee is not supposed to be able to fly, because the size, weight and shape of his body in relation to his wing span, makes flying impossible. But you see, here's the problem: somebody forgot to tell the bumble bee about this theory and he goes ahead and flies and makes a little honey every day!

This story or example, has been around for a long time and while most people have heard it, I'm not sure they see the correlation between the bumble bee and themselves. The reason this is true is because we have the ability to communicate, while the bumble bee does not, and if someone who is an authority tells us that it's impossible to do something, we just accept it at face value. Instead of going ahead an trying something new or difficult and giving it our best shot, we jut pass it off by saying, "Well, you just can't do that." Let me make a quick distinction here. While some people attempt life threatening or potentially dangerous feats, I'm talking about normal, every day activities that could make us happier and more successful human beings.

About 25 years ago, when I first went into the sales profession, it didn't take me long to realize I had to steer clear of the older salesmen who had been around for years. Most of them were just plodding along and marking time. They were quick to tell me why a particular person or company would not buy from us. Of course, many new salesmen listen to this kind of talk and they never go out and make the effort, or if they do, they take the first rejection as proof the older, more experienced salesmen were right.

All through life, we meet people who have tried things and failed, and they will be quick to tell us why we can't do it, either. Here's the principle the story about the bumble bee should teach us: if what you want to do has potential and merit and will help you achieve what you want to achieve, how are you going to know whether you can succeed or not, if you don't try it for yourself? When you make the effort destiny comes into play. As William Jennings Bryan once said, "Destiny is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." As you go forth today, REMEMBER: the bumble bee is not supposed to be able to fly, but he DID! (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 12 - YOUR DECISIONS WILL AFFECT YOUR FAMILY

No. 12

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

YOUR DECISIONS WILL AFFECT YOUR FAMILY

Since the beginning of recorded history, the family unit has always been one of the essential building blocks in the success of an empire or a nation. The late William Thayer expressed it this way: "If well ordered, they are the springs from which go forth the streams of national greatness and prosperity, of civil order and public happiness." As leaders in the homes of America, our decisions will often affect our family for years to come.

According to the Bible I've been reading for the past several years, not one of us is perfect. For example, in Romans 3:23 it says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God", and I know this is true. While I'm not perfect and certainly not a preacher, it's my heart's desire to share something with you that will help you become a happier, richer and more successful person. To do this, sometimes all we need is to be reminded of those things most important to us.

Some time ago I heard a true story that I believe can have a tremendous bearing on the traditional family in the years to come. In the 17th century there were two families in America by the names of Edwards and Jukes. As the head of the Edwards family, Mr. Edwards was a Godly man and he did his best to provide spiritual leadership and also be a productive and law abiding member of society. Mr. Jukes, on the other hand, was more or less a common criminal, spending much of his time in jail, and was anything but a good example for others to follow.

Several years ago, someone did a study on the history of these two families, and here is what they found: the Edwards family produced the famous minister, Jonathan Edwards, who entered Yale University at the age of 13 and later became a great theologian, as well as an author of several books. Further research revealed the Edwards' family tree contained a long list of ministers, college presidents and other prominent members of society.

Research on the Jukes family revealed the virtues of the original Mr. Jukes were also passed on to his offspring. The Jukes' family consisted of many criminals and others of unsavory character. The point here should be clear: if you are the leader of your home, the kind of person you are and the decisions you make will affect your family. If you are living the kind of life, however, of which you are not proud and have personal vices and habits that would keep you from being a good role model, it doesn't necessarily mean that your children will turn out the same way. People with this kind of background have risen above their circumstances to become outstanding successes. In no way do I want you to take what I'm saying too personally, because we all have problems, burdens and challenges, but there is a principle we should all consider. "What's true in the root will be seen in the fruit." There is a lot of truth in the saying, "Like father, like son."

The one thing our children want from us more than anything else is our approval and they will often go to great lengths to get it. This is a free country where we have the opportunities to make our own choices and decisions that affect our lives. Keep in mind, however, your decisions will affect your family and they will often have consequences for many years to come. A good example is the two young men who killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. I'm sure if their parents had the chance they would like to do it all over again. This is something that will haunt them for the rest of their days. Hopefully we can all learn from this tragedy. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 13 - THAT ONE LITTLE THING CALLED A T-O-N-G-U-E

No. 13
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THAT ONE LITTLE THING CALLED A T-O-N-G-U-E

My good friend, the late Doyle Burke from Newport, Arkansas, always had several funny stories to share with me each time I saw him, but some time back I saw him when he was almost speechless. It was at the Convention Center in Little Rock on the day he received a plaque to mark his retirement from the education profession. He was asked to say a few words before 600 of his peers. He simply stated, "it's better to remain silent and have people assume you are a fool than to speak and no longer have them assume it."

The ability to speak is a wonderful gift that God has given us and for those who can develop it to a high degree of proficiency, it can bring all sorts of rewards. If I were to ask you to state in one word the most powerful part of the human body as it relates to speaking and communication, what would be your answer? If you said the little six letter word, called a T-O-N-G-U-E, you would be right.

The reason I believe this is true is because I've seen the tongue lift the spirits and motivate a 260 pound man to action, and I've also seen the tongue slash another person to shreds. Yes, the tongue is a very powerful thing and learning to control it is a goal worthy for any person. The tongue is like a two-edged sword: one side is good and the other side is bad. It's how we choose to use it that makes the difference. It's only when we learn to control our tongue and use it for good that we can rightfully expect good things to happen in our lives. In my own experience I have found many people have Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personalities in respect to their tongues.

When they're in public or "on stage", so to speak, they use their tongues one way, but when they are "off stage" you would never know they were the same people. The Bible says in Matthew 15:18, "But those things that proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart and they defile the man." So there you have it -- it's really the heart of a man or woman that determines the kind of speech that comes out of his or her mouth. The tongue, on the other hand, is just a protrusile, freely moving organ that in human beings serves as an organ of taste and speech. I believe if you will give this some serious thought, you will see that it is not the smart or intelligent people or even those who are gifted with unusual skills, that learn to control their tongues wisely. It's the people whose hearts are right who exercise self-control and learn to speak only those things which serve to build lasting relationships.
If you have a problem controlling your tongue and you want to do something about it, a good place to start is to examine your heart. When you get your heart right with God and with others, it will be easier to control your tongue. I always admire the soft spoken, gentle person who speaks the truth and is always positive when talking about others. There just seems to be an inner strength that says it's not necessary to tear others down to build themselves up.

Until next time, when it comes to our tongue and the words it produces, here is something to keep in mind; automobiles run and airplanes fly, but human beings literally talk themselves forward. A medicore idea well expressed is often more effective than a better idea poorly expressed. Words are the most powerful success tools available to human beings. As I said in the beginning, it's all a matter of how we use that thing we call a T-O-N-G-U-E. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 14 - A FAIR WEATHER FRIEND

No. 14

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A FAIR WEATHER FRIEND

The late Dale Carnegie, founder of the internationally famous course on public speaking and human relations, once said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."
It has often been said that we all need friends and I personally know this is true. While some people are loners and may not have any friends at all, to my way of thinking, they are missing one of the greatest blessings in life. We all need friends and perhaps even more importantly, friends need us.

Now here is an important question you may wish to consider. Do you have even one really true friend? That is, if you really and truly needed help, someone you can count on and someone you know for certain that would not let you down? I have several friends that I believe I can count on, however, until they are put to the test, I won't really know for sure, will I?
It has been my experience over the past several years that when I've been down and needed help, I've had a lot of people who I thought were my friends, desert me. On the other hand, I've had people who I didn't know were my friends, right there when I needed them most. Have you also found this to be true in your life?

A conversation I had some time back is what brought these thoughts to mind. One day while having lunch with my wife at the Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, I met a lady by the name of Mildred Ward. Somehow we got to talking about friends and Mildred told me about a woman she knows who complained to her about not having any friends, and she went on to tell me why this was true.

One morning about two a.m., this woman's telephone rang and on the other end of the line was an elderly lady who had fallen in her home and couldn't get up. So, she called her friend (at least someone she thought was her friend), and asked her to come to her home and help her. Now, do you think she went? Well, the answer is 'no'. It was too far. At least that's what she told her.

When this woman complained to Mildred about not having any friends, Mildred said, "I told her to her face, the reason you don't have any friends is because you don't know how to be a friend. You are a 'fair weather' friend." When you stop and think about it, this is so true. Most of us can be a friend as long as the sun is shining and it doesn't cost us anything, but when friendship begins to cost us something, it has a way of setting the record straight. At this point the truth is revealed and we are either a true friend or a fair weather friend. With this thought in mind it might be well to share an old German Proverb that says, "There are three kinds of friends: those who love you, those who hate you and those who care nothing about you."

A few days ago I received a phone call from a lady who was not even a close friend, and she said, "Bill and I have had an accident, can you come get us?" She then told me where they were. Maybe I was motivated because I had just written this column, but at this point I didn't ask any questions, but said, "I will be there as quickly as I can get there."
The point I'm trying to make is simply this: if we want to have some true friends, we must be there when someone who calls us "friend" really and truly needs us. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 15 - HOW TO STAY OUT OF A RUT

No. 15

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW TO STAY OUT OF A RUT

Did you hear about John Jones? He died some time ago and they inscribed these words on his tombstone: "Here lies John Jones. Died at age twenty-one; buried at age sixty-one." You see, John Jones had been in a rut for forty years of his life. Here I'm reminded of the way it used to be in our country before we had paved highways. After a big rain, the first few cars or wagons made big ruts which led to the sign "Choose your ruts carefully because you will be in them for the next twenty miles."

I know this for sure, one of the greatest challenges I face each day in my own life is
to stay out of the old proverbial rut. Now, just in case the word "rut" isn't in your working vocabulary, what I'm talking about here is the mental state that most of us fall into when we have performed routine, humdrum activities for so long that we have lost our zest for living. For the person who is in a rut, life is no longer exciting and rewarding, and because it happens so slowly and over an extended period of time, most of us fall into a rut without realizing we are in one.

During seminars and speaking engagements, I've conducted surveys that relate to this, and most adults will admit falling into a mental rut at one time or another in different areas of their lives. This topic is very important because medical studies have shown boredom, a side effect of being in a rut, is a disease more crippling to the human species than most of us realize. The problems of boredom are manifold in our work force, schools, marriages, churches and anywhere else our thinking settles down into a well worn groove.

If you are aware of the problems associated with boredom, have you ever asked yourself why people become bored? While the problem itself may not be easy to solve, the answer is relatively simple. Whenever you find boredom (people in a rut), you will find the absence of a worthy goal or a great motivating idea.

In my work over the past thirty years, with our nation's public schools I believe
I have found at least a part of the reason why people let themselves fall into a rut. The reasons are different for different people, but for the most part, it goes back to our basoc education and our habitual way of thinking. While working with students in the area of communication skills, I have made a very important discovery. When you ask students the question: "What is produced when you link words together?", they will say sentences. When you take it one step further and ask what is produced when you link sentences together, they will say paragraphs. On the surface this may appear too simple to even mention, but the reason many people fall into a mental rut is because the world and every successful enterprise or individual person runs on great ideas. While it may sound trite, the world does not run on paragraphs. You see, the paragraph only separates the ideas, but it's the good ideas that are contained in the paragraph that makes the difference.

Unfortunately, most schools do not teach students to set goals or look for the ideas in a paragraph that will help serve other people. They only way we can succeed over the long haul, is to find a need and fill it, and this requires each of us to constantly search for new and better ideas.

Going back to my earlier statement, when a person is bored it is simply the absence of a worthy goal or a great motivating idea. Unless we are taught to think along these lines, it's easy to become bored and fall into a rut. The truth is, we don't make exciting plans while we are in a rut, and if we aren't careful the things that are most important will just pass us by. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 16 - ONE GOAL AT A TIME

No. 16
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

ONE GOAL AT A TIME

As it relates to personal success, have you ever heard or read this statement before: "The person without a goal is like a ship without a rudder." If you will stop and think about this statement, I believe you will realize that it's true. More importantly, however, in terms how it may benefit you, if you are not already a person who sets goals this simple idea could make a real difference in your future.

To enable you to gain greater insights into what I'm saying, please consider this:
If we simply untie a ship, give it no crew, no compass or destination, but just let it drift, if it gets out of the harbor at all it will likely sink or wind up on some deserted beach. On the other hand, contrast this with a ship that has a crew, a compass and a definite port in mind. The odds are over ninety-nine percent that it will safely reach its destination. Another important consideration is that a ship can only reach one port at a time, which is really the essence of what I'm saying here.

But, to back up a moment and place things in perspective, the main reason we see so much confusion in people's lives is that they have not been taught how to set goals and as a result they have no real purpose or direction for their lives. Sure, a lot of people have dreams, hopes and wishes, but they don't have specific, written goals. As a result, they spend a lot of unproductive time going from one thing to another, being tossed "to and for" like that ship I mentioned earlier.

For a goal to be valid or worthy, it should be specific and not general; it should be realistic with a definite time limit; and, it should be written down on paper. While working with thousands of people over the past thirty years, I've found that fully ninety-five percent of all people do not have their goals written down on paper. There are many reasons why this is important, the first being that it's a commitment -- at least you have committed it to writing. This written form will allow you to review your goal often and with each repetition, drive it deeper and deeper into your subconscious mind. This is the reason, for the most part, that goal setters are positive people. You can't be a winner in athletics or in life without a goal.

If you are a beginner in the business of goal setting, I want to make a very important suggestion. Beginners should set only one major or large goal at a time. After the process becomes second nature and you have achieved enough success and the resources to diversify, more than one worthy goal is something many people can handle, but not in the very beginning. Most of the confusion in people's lives comes from trying to accomplish too many things at the same time.

After setting one worthy goal that is important to you, blaze it in your memory, burn it into your mind. When you first wake up, think of that one goal. When you sit down to rest for a few minutes, think about that one goal. As you think about it and visualize it, the goal will become crystallized and your focus, like a beautiful photograph, will be sharp and clear.
Since we become what we think about, soon you will reach that goal. At this point, set another goal and set out again. You will find this simple process of setting only one goal at a time will take most of the confusion out of your life and will bring order and self-discipline. As a result, your self-image and your attitude will definitely change for the better, and don't you agree, this is what success is all about. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 17 - HOW TO RAISE A CROOK

No. 17
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW TO RAISE A CROOK

While it should go without saying, most of us parents love our children and we want the very best futures for them and want them to become productive, responsible, law abiding citizens.

However, apparently a lot of parents do not realize that their own attitudes and behavior contribute to the real possibility of one or more of their children winding up in prison.
Along these lines I want to share something titled HOW TO RAISE A CROOK, printed some time ago in The Presbyterian Journal. I hope if you are a parent or someone who is in a position to influence the values, morals and character of young people, you may benefit from it. If you'll think about it, much of what we learn comes from the experience of others and it can be for bad or for good.

HOW TO RAISE A CROOK

1. Begin from infancy to give the child everything he wants; this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him -- it will encourage him to pick up "cuter" phrases that will blow the top of your head off later.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let him decide for himself.

4. Avoid the use of the word "wrong." He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and that he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up anything he leaves lying around: books, shoes, clothing. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing the responsibility onto others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feed on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of children, then they won't be too shocked when the home is broken up.

8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you have had them?

9. Satisfy his every need for food, drink and comfort. Denial may lead to harmful frustrations.

10. Take his part against the neighbors, teachers and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him."

Certainly this is a personal thing, but let's hope this article will help us see ourselves in a true light, and it will make a positive difference in our attitudes toward raising our children and grandchildren. Someone once said that "prison" is a school to which criminals are sent to figure out what went wrong." It's no real mystery. When parents are not good role models and fail to teach character values to their children, the results are usually predictable. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 18 - DON'T PUT OTHERS DOWN

No. 18
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DON'T PUT OTHERS DOWN

Several years ago, I had a neighbor who had a beautiful white dog that stayed in the house most of the time. Unfortunately, when the dog was let outside, he had a habit of visiting other neighbors' yards, bushes and flower beds, if you know what I mean.
One day another neighbor whose yard had been visited by this dog was irate and made a comment about the dog's owner. She said, "I think I will give her a piece of my mind." When the dog's owner heard about it, she responded, "If she gave it all, you still wouldn't have anything!"

While it's just human nature to respond to criticism in this manner, it's much harder to stop and consider whether or not the other person's criticism is justified. No one who lives in the city where houses are close together wants to have to watch where they step in their own yard, especially if they don't own a pet and the problem persists.
The problem here as it relates to good human relations is that it's much easier to put someone else down than it is to raise ourselves up. Unfortunately, because of the attitude of one neighbor and the resulting 'put down', both neighbors were losers and they missed the opportunity to be friends.

It's my belief that a lot of people today are being misled along these lines, and here's an example. Sometime ago I was in a very large city in another state and was listening to the radio. The program I was listening to featured a well known psychologist and she took phone calls from listeners who were having stress and emotional problems. After listening to a caller for a few minutes, she then gave advice on how to cope with his or her problems. As I continued to listen I'm convinced that most of her callers were satisfied with her answers, because it was obvious that she was well qualified and knew what she was talking about.

Because of my extensive interaction with people, I picked up several things in this psychologist's answers that told me where she was coming from. First, her tone of voice was harsh, not soft and gentle, and the feeling of love toward others did not come through. Next, she seemed to be elated when some of her callers (especially female callers), asserted they were going to do something for themselves for a change, because they had been involved in taking care of others too long.

Before you misconstrue what I'm saying, let me be quick to add; there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be our own person, to have self-respect, and a certain degree of independence, but there is a real danger in not knowing when or where to stop. In many cases, people like this become overly assertive and they go from driving a motorbike to a Sherman tank, and before long, they develop the attitude that they can "bulldoze" their way over everything and everyone who gets in their way. This type of person has little or no compassion for others.

Regardless of whether by conscious choice or just letting their selfish human nature take over, it's a shallow, short-sighted way to think and live. I believe the people who put stock in the kind of information this psychologist was putting out are being misled. Sooner or later, regardless of what we say or the lifestyle we choose, we all have to come face-to-face with our Maker. We would be much better off if we would strive to always lift people up. In most cases, we can say what needs to be said without putting other people down. -- (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 19 - A HARD LESSON TO LEARN

No. 19
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A HARD LESSON TO LEARN

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "Any government, like any family, can for a year spend a little more than it earns. But you and I know the continuance of that habit means the poorhouse." How many people do you know in today's society who spend more than they earn? Our nation's collective massive credit card debt, amassed by individuals, shoud give you a hint.
From my observation, I think one of the hardest lessons for many people to learn in today's times is how to do without. It's not easy to do without, especially when we see so many people around us who seem to get everything they want. However, this uniquely American penchant, which is often referred to as "keeping up with the Joneses" has pushed many people so far into debt that bankruptcy and financial collapse is a real possibility. The real problem with trying to keep up with the Joneses is about the time we think we get there, they refinance!
I'm fairly conservative. I don't believe in people over-extending themselves, buying things they cannot afford and putting themselves and their family at risk for the future. On the other hand, if people have the means or the where-with-all, as we say, to have all the things they want and do all things they want to do, I think it's wonderful, because that's the American dream. So long as their incomes are derived from legal means, I wish them continued success.
But we see thousands of people, perhaps millions, who want to live this kind of lifestyle, but they simply cannot afford it because they don't have any money. As a result, many of these people suffer from tension, stress, high blood pressure and finally, a stroke or heart attack or some other calamity. I'm not talking about the person who takes a calculated risk when it comes to getting ahead financially, because that's what financial success is all about. I'm simply talking about those people who have formed the habit of spending more than they earn month after month, and there's a big difference.
There are many reasons why we see people in our society who want to live "high on the hog" without having the income to support it. It really comes down to the fact that they have never learned the habit of doing without. If you or someone you love happens to fit in this category, here are a few thoughts that may help:
Fret not at small beginnings; the oak began as an acorn; the beautiful rainbow had its beginning in a drop of rain and a ray of light; the muscular athlete had trouble crawling; the university graduate started in first grade; the massive international oil industry began with a small shallow well.
In our country, it's still possible for most of us to have the things we want, but it may require a change in our thinking and our attitudes. Instead of buy now, pay later, we must save and invest now and then buy later. Most people who have gotten ahead financially don't ever have to touch the principal of their assets, because they meet their monthly obligations from the income derived from investments.
What this kind of thinking and the resulting actions really does is move our possessions from one side of the ledger to the other. It moves them from the things we can't afford to the things we can afford. Doing without is a difficult lesson to learn, but when we do, our financial future will be much brighter. P.S. Is the money you have burning a hole in your pocket? (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)
There are many reasons why we see people in our society who want to live "high on the hog"+-C${uoio{i (+-EG%h/

No. 20 - THE FALLACY OF LIBERAL THINKING

No. 20

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE FALLACY OF LIBERAL THINKING

In the political arena of life, which is to say policies, issues and programs that affect every American citizen we often hear some politicians referred to as liberals. Have you ever stopped to think about what the word "liberal" really means when it's used in this context? Over the past 200 years of our nation's history, we have had a varied and rich history in relation to a good number of different political parties. Today the names have changed, but we still have several different political parties around but the two major parties that more or less control our nations policies are the Democratic and Republican parties.

In theory at least, each party represents a different political philosophy about how the government should go about serving its citizens. Within this context, we have given labels to people such as conservative, liberal and moderate. Each of these labels represents an attitude or philosophy a particular person holds in terms of how much government should do for its people.

In the larger scheme of things, from a philosophical viewpoint we identify liberals as people who want to do more and give more to the people they serve. Contrast this with the attitude of those identified as moderate or conservative who say our government has gone far beyond what it should be doing and it should conserve or cut back on the services it is now providing. Which view would you take -- liberal or conservative? Do you think our government should do more for its citizens or less? You might say more, which would certainly place you with the majority.

Without prejudging, let's look further for a moment. Today in the United States Congress there are a number of so called liberals who say we should not balance our nation's budget on the backs of the poor and we should not cut programs or services for the needy. On the surface, that's a pretty good argument and it's true, if you don't take this line of thinking any further. What the poor unfortunately do not know or understand is that they are exchanging their pride, self-respect and financial security when they vote for a liberal congressman or congresswoman who can vote for his own pay raise or tax exemption. When you increase taxes to pay for more services, it's not a good deal, except maybe for the additional revenue that enables our congressmen and women to give themselves a pay raise!

Personally, I resent the extravagance in lifestyle and travel that has become a regular regimen for many officials who are feeding at the public trough. You see, a liberal is someone who is loose and free with money he or she did not earn and this has led to excessive taxes, which kills the incentive for hard working and honest people. To say it very simply, it's easy to be liberal with someone else's money and this includes "corporate welfare" which is, in reality, the 'good ol' boy' system at the highest levels of our nation's government.

As citizens, taxpayers and voters we just need to understand where public money is coming from and to hold our public officials accountable for how they are spending it. If you will think back a few years I believe you will agree that we had our finest hour when most people understood the principle of "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay." When we look to the government to provide for our individual needs we are losing the very foundation that gave us our collective freedoms. I hope the next time you vote you will consider what I've said: a liberal is a public official who wants to be loose and free with money he or she did not earn. That is the fallacy of liberalism. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 21 - DO YOU ACT OR REACT?

No. 21

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DO YOU ACT OR REACT?

It's been said, if we want to know a lot about a person's character, just watch how he or she acts. But I'm here to tell you, if we really want to know about their character, watch how they react, because this it the real test. In these days of shades and pastels, it's the best way on earth for us to see a person's true colors.

Sometime ago, I ran across a terrific article that was printed in the Readers Digest way back in 1960 titled "Do You Act or React?" and I want to share it with you. As you read it, think about how you would act or react in a similar situation.

"I walked with my friend, a Quaker, to the newsstand the other night and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie didn't even acknowledge it. 'A sullen fellow, isn't he?', I commented. "Oh, he's that way every night', shrugged my friend. 'Then why do you continue to be so polite to him?', I asked. 'Why not', said my friend, 'Why should I let him decide how I am going to act?'

As I thought about this incident later, it occurred to me the most important word was act. My friend acts toward people; most of us react toward them. He has a sense of inner balance which is lacking in most of us. He knows who he is, what he stands for and how he should behave. He refuses to return incivility for incivility, because then he would no longer be in command of his own conduct.

When we are enjoined in the Bible to return good for evil, we look upon this as a moral injunction, which it is, but it is also a psychological prescription for emotional health. Nobody is unhappier than the perpetual reactor. His center of emotional gravity is not rooted within himself where it belongs, but in the world outside himself. His spiritual temperature is always being raised or lowered by the social climate around him and he is a mere creature at the mercy of these elements. Praise gives him a feeling of euphoria, which is false, because it does not last and it does not come from self-approval. Criticism depresses him more than it should, because it confirms his own secretly shaky opinion of himself. Snubs hurt him and the merest suspicion of unpopularity in any quarter rouses him to bitterness.

A serenity of spirit cannot be achieved until we become the masters of our own actions and attitudes. To let another person determine whether we should be rude or gracious, elated or depressed, is to relinquish control over our personalities, which is ultimately all we possess. The only true possession is self-possession."

As I thought about this article, I realized just how much this affects us every day of our lives. It's not too difficult for most of us to act nice, especially if we had the proper training when we were growing up. But it's just human nature to react to others in a negative way when they are rude, thoughtless or ungrateful toward us.

The Apostle Paul gave us the answer to this problem in Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

The key to improving our human relations is to renew our thinking each day with good, honest and positive thoughts until it becomes a habit. Then when someone is rude or thoughtless, we will act toward them in a manner that is in theirs, as well as in our own best interests. As George Bernard Shaw once said, "Action is the only road to knowledge." (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 22 - HOW TO ACHIEVE FINANCIAL SECURITY

No. 22
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW TO ACHIEVE FINANCIAL SECURITY

Former President James A. Garfield once said: "Poverty is uncomfortable, as I can testify; but nine times out of ten, the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim for himself." The American free enterprise system offers tremendous opportunity for the individual who is always worth more than he or she is being paid. If you don't already know this, you will soon discover that it's the easiest and best way to have real financial security.

Several years ago, before moving here to Conway, my wife and I built a beautiful home and we installed a wood burning Franklin stove. Back then, the term "energy crisis" had become a reality in American society and it caused many of us to change our habits. While I've used the example of a wood burning stove before, I'd like to broaden it considerably and share something here that will definately help you in the area of your personal finances.

Have you ever heard of someone going up to a cold wood burning stove and saying, "give me some heat and then I'll put in the wood?" Well just for the fun of it, one day I tried it and I can tell you truthfully, it doesn't work! That stove just sat there and didn't do a thing! Finally, I gave up and put in some wood, stuffed some newspapers under the wood and lit the paper with a match. It wasn't long before it got so hot I had to move my chair back.

My point is simple. I could have sat or stood there and shivered for days and that stove would never have put out any heat. That is, not until I finally put in some wood and started it burning. Now, believe it or not, I have just described a principle that is holding many people back on their jobs and keeping them from earning the amount of money they need and would like to have. While it's a little more complicated than this, it stems from the attitude many people hold that they would like to have the benefits before they produce or prove themselves worthy of the salary they started with in the beginning. In other words, they're saying, "let me start out with a high salary, then I'll prove I'm worth that salary."
Unless you are self-employed, too young or retired, please consider this: when a person is looking for a job and someone agrees to hire them, regardless of the starting salary, the employer is taking a chance the person is going to be worth at least what he is paid. If the employer is in the private sector where a profit must be earned to stay in business, this means just breaking even. On the other hand, if the employee is worth more than he is paid, the difference is profit, and this is where future raises and fringe benefits come from.

If you are being paid eight dollars per hour, your value to your employer should be worth at least ten dollars per hour, because that's the only way you can have a financial future with the company. Take my word for it, if your employer is not earning a profit, there is no way he can pay you more money. Now he may pay you for a while, based on the value of other employees who are worth more, but it cannot and will not continue for long.

The next time you want to see this principle clearly, visualize that cold Franklin stove sitting there and me begging it for heat. If you really want to move up in your company and earn a lot more money in the process, the surest and most dependable way to do it is to always be worth more than you are paid. To hold this attitude, and then follow through with effective and effecient work, is the best financial security on earth. -- (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 23 - DO YOU HAVE CLASS?

No. 23

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DO YOU HAVE CLASS?

Some time ago, my wife and I attended a graduation exercise for a class of nurses at one of our fine hospitals in nearby Little Rock. Near the end of the program, the head instructor read something titled, "What is class?", that was so good that I went to her afterwards and asked for a copy of it.

In today's times, we often hear it said of someone that they have "class", but have you ever thought about what the word 'class' really means when it's used in this way? Well, in layman's terms, the person who has class is just someone who has good manners in all situations, especially when they are hurt or wronged in some way. As you read this article about 'class' it might be well to think about it as it relates to your life.

CLASS

"Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident that you can meet life head-on and handle whatever comes along.

Class never makes excuses, It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.

Class is considerate of others. It knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of petty sacrifices.

Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent blue blood can be totally without class, while the descendant of a Welsh miner may ooze class from every pore.

Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.

Class can walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch. Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class, because he is comfortable with himself.

If you don't have it no matter what else you have, it doesn't make much difference."

To me, the contents of this article has a way of penetrating to the depths of my very soul. I especially like the thought "class never makes excuses, it takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes." Wouldn't we all be better off if we could learn to do that?

I know many times when I have failed to do something, I usually try to find a way to justify my actions. Then I say, "I did it because ..." In some cases, I've said to myself, "I wouldn't have done that if it hadn't been for so-and-so." All I was doing was trying to transfer the blame for my own failure to someone else. We should never be too hard on ourselves, because if we do that on a regular basis, all we are doing is putting ourselves down and the result will surely be low self-esteem. We do, however, need high standards because it's the only way to improve.

When it comes to personal accountability and establishing a standard for personal behavior, I don't believe you can improve on the qualities mentioned in the article on class. Ask yourself, "do I have class?" If you don't, would you like to have it? Of course it takes much more than just saying it to make it so, but the first step is to start acting like a person who has class. Who knows? It may be the beginning of a whole new way of living and a source of encouragement to those around us. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 24 - I LOVED YOU ENOUGH

No. 24
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

I LOVED YOU ENOUGH

While enthusiasm is the most contagious, love is the strongest of all human emotions and it was placed in each of us by a loving God as a way to express our appreciation and commitment to those people and things that mean the most to us.

When we truly love someone it is only natural to have that person's best interests at heart. There is no greater love in all the world than the love parents have for their children. This is a God-like instinct that is not only present in humans, it is also present in the animal kingdom. We see examples of this on every hand, and one that comes to mind is the very vivid picture I remember of a mother hen being burned to death in a fire and when she was removed, her baby chicks were still alive under her lifeless body. Now, as the song goes, "If that isn't love, I don't know what is."

If you are a parent, grandparent, guardian, or someone else responsible for rearing a child, have you ever heard these words from your child: "You don't love me!" Now, I'm sure in some cases the words, "You don't love me" are actually true. There are some people who never feel love and because of this, it's impossible for them to give love. However, in most cases the child who says, "You don't love me" is actually using these words as a tool to get what he or she wants.

In recent years, discipline has become a major problem in our nation's schools and also in millions of homes across America. If we are to reverse this trend, it is important for us to understand the difference between "true" love and doing what is best for our children, as opposed to letting them use our emotions to do things that may not be in their best interests. Here I'd like to offer some positive suggestions and guidelines to help us deal with this problem. In administering discipline and punishment to children, here are nine principles that should be observed:

1. Do not discipline in anger.

2. Do not let discipline in retaliation.

3. Do it in such a way as to not embarrass and humiliate the child.

4. Let the discipline be reasonable and let discipline be an expression of love.

5. Above all, ask God to give you divine wisdom in raising that child.

6. Keep your cool. Children need the confidence that only a steady hand and a settled soul can offer.

7. Show your child that you are wise enough and strong enough to be the boss.
8. Be honest with your children. Tell them the truth.

9. Be generous with praise and when it comes time to criticize, your child will believe you and respect your judgment.

Raising children in today's times is not easy. There are so many pressures and problems in existence today that were not around fifty years ago. But children are a blessing and they are a gift from God. If we do a good job of raising them, when they are old enough to understand, we can say "Do you remember when you used to tell me. 'You don't love me.' " Well, the truth is, I loved you enough to ask you to clean your room, to not make excuses for your lack of respect and bad manners. I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall and fail, so that you could learn to stand alone. But most of all, I loved you enough to say "no", when you hated me for it. This, my child, was the hardest part of all." -- (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 25 - SHAKE OFF NEGATIVE COMMENTS

No. 25
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

SHAKE OFF NEGATIVE COMMENTS

You may be familiar with the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." This is one of the biggest untruths I have ever heard. We should never underestimate the power of words, because if we let them, words can literally destroy our lives. As the English critic and essayist William Hazlitt once said, "words are the only things that last forever."

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard is to 'live our lives so we wouldn't mind selling the family parrot to the town gossip.' I'm sure you can see the wisdom of this thought. While there is no way to control the negative things other people may say about us, we should live our lives in such a way that no one would believe them. While I never like to hear negative comments about me, those I love or the things I believe in, they do come along from time-to-time. When they do however, I can either shake them off and go on pursuing the goals that are important to me, or I can let them defeat me. You see, the choice is mine.

Do you have trouble shaking off negative comments or negative things that happen
to you? If you do, I believe this story I'd like to tell you will help you shake off negative comments in the future.

A farmer had a faithful old mule that had served him for years, but now it was be-coming apparent with the passing of time, the old mule had just about reached the end of his days. As the farmer saw his old mule beginning to suffer, he realized he had to find a way to put him out of his misery. Being a kind, soft-hearted man, he couldn't stand the thought of just taking him out and shooting him, so instead, he devised what he thought was a good plan.

Since he was going to have to bury the mule anyway, he decided to lower him into
an old, abandoned well and cover him with dirt. He thought this would "kill two birds with one stone", as the old well was a hazard and needed to be filled in anyway. At this point, the farmer rigged up a tripod with a pulley and a hoist and lowered the mule into the well. While it was a very sad day, he thought it was the best way, so he got a shovel and a wheel-barrow and went to work.

As he poured load after load of dirt into the old abandoned well, a strange thing began to happen. As the dirt fell on the old mule's back, he shook it off and trampled it down. This process went on for several hours, with each load of dirt being treated the same way. The old mule would just shake it off and trample it down. Finally, the old well was completely filled in and the mule was standing on level grand. Then, he just walked away free from the prison that was to be his grave.

Obviously, this is not a true story, but it does make a wonderful point. The dirt thrown on the old mule's back could be compared to the negative comments and the neg-ative experiences we all have from time-to-time. When they do occur, we can either shake them off or let them bury us. The choice is ours.

Earlier, I mentioned we should live our lives in such a way we wouldn't mind selling the family parrot to the town gossip. This is, perhaps, the best way on earth to keep from having too many negative comments said about us. The next time this happens to you, and it will happen, I hope you will remember the story about the farmer and the old mule...JUST SHAKE IT OFF. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Arkansas 72034.)

No. 26 - SORRY I HAVEN'T WRITTEN

The next password is blake

NO. 26
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

SORRY I HAVEN'T WRITTEN

On a day by day basis, how we view our circumstances life is often a matter of perspective and this is especially true when it comes to raising children. Here is an example of what I mean: One time a woman said to a friend, "Our marriage would have broken up years ago if it hadn't been for the children. We can't get a divorce, because he won't take them and neither will I."

Children are a precious gift from God, but they don't always perform or act in a manner we would like for them to. As parents, we want the best for our children and in most cases have high expectations of them. A good case in point is the story about a college girl who wrote her mother the following letter:

Dear Mother,
I'm sorry I haven't written these last four months. The reason I haven't is because of a brain operation I had, which was the result of a concussion I received when I jumped from the fourth story of the dormitory when it caught fire. Fortunately, a young service station attendant across the street saw the fire, called the fire department and the ambulance and got me to the hospital in time.

While I was in the hospital, the young man visited me regularly. When I was released, I had no place to go. He invited me to share his apartment. It wasn't really an apartment, it was just a basement room. It was kind of cute. Yes, Mother, I am in love. I'm pregnant and we do plan to get married. The reason we haven't already gotten married is because of some silly disease he had and he failed the blood test.

Sincerely,
Your Loving Daughter

P.S. Now, Mother, this is just to let you know: I did not have the brain operation. There was no concussion. I did not jump from the dormitory. It did not catch on fire. I am not in love. I'm sure not going to get married! I did make a "D" in English and an "F" in history. I thought you ought to see these two things in their proper perspective.

Now, I believe you'll agree, after the first part of the daughter's letter, the long-suffering mother was happy about a "D" in English and an "F" in history. After reading this story, I began to reflect on it and a couple of observations came to mind. Everything is relative, and only when we have the common sense to place things in perspective are we able to properly deal with them. When you think about that daughter away at college -- in all likelihood at her parents' expense -- I'm sure her mother expected her to do better than a "D" in English and an "F" in history. The daughter knew her mother's expectations. Why else would she have gone to such great lengths to compose her masterpiece?

As individuals, if we are to profit from this story, we should consider the underlying fact that sooner or later we will be held accountable for our actions. If we short change ourselves in taking full advantage of life's opportunities, we are the ones who ultimately suffer the consequences. The message here is simple. Let's make sure we do our best to take advantage of our opportunities when we have the chance. In many cases, real opportunity only knocks once. To make sure our ship comes in, we must first make sure we have sent one out. A good education is vital in today's technological age. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Arkansas 72034.)

The next column password is: Blake

No. 777 - WATCH OUT FOR CHICKS

No. 777

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WATCH OUT FOR CHICKS

So long as we have people around like an old farmer I heard about recently, creativity and ingenuity are alive and well in America. It seems that Farmer John lived on a quiet rural highway west of town. When he moved to his place, scarcely anyone lived in the area and he and his wife had few neighbors. But like many areas of the country, urban sprawl began to slowly make its way to his farm and, before long, that quiet rural highway became a busy thoroughfare. Traffic was zooming by his place in a steady stream of cars, trucks and buses.
A real problem developed, because as the traffic built up and became so heavy and so fast, his chickens were being run over at a rate of three to six a day.
So one day Farmer John called the local police station and said, “You’ve got to do something about all of these people driving so fast and killing my chickens.” “What do you want us to do?” asked the policeman. “I don’t care. Just do something about those crazy drivers!” So the next day the policeman had the Main Roads workers go out and erect a sign that said: “SLOW: SCHOOL CROSSING.” Three days later Farmer John called the policeman and said, “You’ve got to do something about these drivers. The ‘school crossing’ sign seems to make them go even faster!” So again, the policeman sends out the Main Roads workers and they put up a new sign: “SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY.”
True to form, that really sped them up. So Farmer John called and called and called every day for three weeks. Finally, he asked the policeman, “Your signs are doing no good at all ... can I put up my own sign?” The policeman said, “Sure, go ahead.” He was willing to do anything in order to get him to stop calling to complain.
The policeman got no more calls from Farmer John. Three weeks later, curiosity got the best of the policeman and he decided to give Farmer John a call. “How’s the problem with those drivers. Did you put up your sign?” “Oh, I sure did,” was his response. “And not one chicken has been killed since then. I’ve got to go. I’m busy.”
The policeman was really curious, and he thought to himself, “I had better go out there and take a look at that sign. It might be something we could use to slow down those drivers.” So he drove out to Farmer John’s house, and his jaw dropped the moment he saw the sign. It was spray painted on a full sheet of plywood. It said, “NUDIST COLONY…Go Slow and Watch for Chicks.” If nothing else, Farmer John deserves an honorary degree in psychology.
This story, which is obviously not true, points up the need to understand human nature. The first two signs “SLOW: SCHOOL CROSSING” and “SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY” were not effective for a couple of reasons. First, we see those signs so often they just become a part of the landscape, and second, there is just enough of the kid still left in us, even though we are old enough to drive, that when someone tells us not to do something we want to do exactly the opposite, right? Here in our community, the police department has found the solution. We do slow down when we see a police car with a live-in-the-flesh officer sitting there at the crossing. Obviously, the police department couldn’t afford that for Farmer John’s chickens.
When it comes to the NUDIST COLONY sign, in all my years I have never heard of a blind nudist, or a blind driver, have you? There is just an intrinsic or inherent quality in each of us that wants to see things we are not supposed to see, especially if no one else is looking.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The next password is bean

No. 778 - A SHELTERING ROCK IN THE STORM !

No. 778

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A SHELTERING ROCK IN THE STORM!

There are some parts of our country, especially out in the West, where sand and dust storms often occur. While I have never experienced this personally, I have seen these storms on television many times. If there is one thing people caught in these fierce storms often look for, it’s a sheltering rock. In many cases, a large rock can mean the difference between life and death.
The same thing is true for many of America’s youth who are caught in a storm of a different kind. In many of our larger cities, and increasingly in our medium size and even smaller communities, kids are killing each other, being robbed, constantly being exposed to drugs and gangs. To put it mildly, it’s just not safe.
We have one organization in our nation that is making a tremendous difference for millions of these kids, and that’s the Boys and Girls Club. These clubs (originally the Boys Club which became the Boys and Girls Club in 1990) are also a sheltering rock in the storm. Hope you have one in your community and, if not, something similar.
We have a great Boys and Girls Club here in our community, and recently the director, Robert Wright, came to speak to our local Lions Club. We are proud of the fact that the Lions Clubs International Foundation donated $50,000 to help start the club here in our community. Robert told us a lot of things about the work of the Boys & Girls Clubs, and he really opened our eyes with many of the statistics he gave us. It costs a child, or his or her parents, $25 a week to have a safe environment with meaningful programs, and no child is turned away, even if they cannot afford the small costs.
Why a Boys and Girls Club? His answer really got my attention. In America, every 10 seconds a high school student drops out. Every 25 seconds a child is arrested. Every 40 seconds a child is confirmed as abused or neglected. Every minute a baby is born to a teen mother. Every five minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense. Every nine minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime. Every five hours a child or teen commits suicide. Every six hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect, and every day 2,467 high school students drop out. This is not a column about literacy, but it should help you see why our “Bookcase for Every Child” project is so important, as we strive to get 4-year-olds hooked on reading by giving them books and their very own personalized bookcase.
For children who are fortunate enough to be enrolled in an after-school program of the Boys and Girls Club, here is proof positive that the program works. Crime and Substance Abuse: 67 percent of club alumni attribute their ability to avoid difficulty with the law to the influence of Club staff. Another 67 percent say the Club is where they learned to “say no” to drugs and alcohol. Dropout Rates: 28 percent report they would have dropped out of high school if not for the club, and 51 percent achieved a higher level of education than they thought possible because of attending the club.
Childhood Obesity: 80 percent of alumni said the Club had a positive impact on their attitude toward fitness and health; 74 percent of Club alumni report participating in organized sports. African-American Males: 73 percent of African-American male alumni said the “Club saved my life,” and 34 percent of African-American male alumni earned a four-year college degree, compared to the national rate of 16 percent.
I believe you will agree: Boys and Girls Clubs deserve our support.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The next password is corn

No. 779 - MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE !

No. 779

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE!

If you take a vacation where you stay in a hotel or motel, or if you are part of the traveling public, you will be interested in what I want to share with you today. Of course there is always the possibility that you may already have this information and, if so, that’s good because we all need to know it.
Some time back a friend sent me some information that was news to me, and this is a case of where what you don’t know, can hurt you. It has to do with the information that is on that little card that hotel and motel people give you to open the door.
If you have never thought about the information that is on hotel key cards, here is what some may contain: A. Customer’s name. B. Customer’s partial home address. C. Hotel room number. D. Check-in date and out dates. E. Customer’s credit card number and expiration date! After receiving this information I checked it out on Snopes.com and they say this is a myth and is false. However, don’t be so sure. Snopes.com is not always accurate, as evidenced by another article reported in Consumeraffairs.com. Snopes.com later conceded that the report about hotels encoding key cards with personalized information was confused with another, much more legitimate story – that of identity thieves stealing key cards and turning them into “clone” credit cards and using personal data that had been taken from other sources. This was just saving face.
Here is a story that has some creditability. In Nevada, Deputy Attorney General Tracey Brierly saw some evidence with her own eyes. Brierly attended a High Technology Crime Investigation Association conference in South Lake Tahoe. The speaker asked for volunteers to provide their credit card-style room keys, the ones with the magnetic stripe. Five or six people provided their keys and the speaker swiped them through a credit card reader. “Two of the keys brought up a name and partial address, and another one brought up a name, address and credit card number,” Brierly said. “I had no idea this was even a possibility.” Of course, the hotel industry denies there is anything treacherous about the keys.
The bottom line is simply this: why take a chance? Keep the cards, take them home with you, or destroy them. Never leave them behind or in the room or waste basket, and never turn them into the front desk when you check out of a room. They will not charge you for the card (it’s illegal) and you’ll be sure you are not leaving a lot of valuable information on that card that could easily be lifted off with any simple card reader. For the same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover you still have the card key in your pocket, do not toss it in the airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip.
Here is a simple solution, and it only requires a little advanced thinking and planning. When you travel, always carry a small magnet with you and pass it across the magnetic strip several times when you are ready to leave the room for the last time. Then try it in the door. It will not work, as the magnet erases everything on the card.
As I thought about this, here is what came to mind. You need more than a magnetic personality, you need a real magnet. To be sure, there is more here than meets the eye. I am always reluctant to share this kind of information, but there are people out there who are just plain thieves, and all too willing to take from others to meet their own selfish ends.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The next password is bean

No. 780 - CHARACTER AND ADVERSITY ARE SOUL MATES !

No. 780
The next password is bean

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

CHARACTER AND ADVERSITY ARE SOUL MATES!

For 25 years, from 1972 until 1997, there was a man down in Baton Rouge, La., at the helm of the Louisiana State University basketball program by the name of Dale Brown. During this time, Dale Brown distinguished himself as few other coaches in the history of college basketball. In one stretch from 1984 until 1993, he took his teams to nine consecutive NCAA tournaments. Rather, I should say, while coaches are important, his teams took him, because the players are the ones who actually win the games. Here I am reminded of something the late Paul Eells, famous television sportscaster, used to say, “Poor coaching kept me from being an All American.”
Coach Brown’s record at LSU was 448 wins to only 301 losses. Only the legendary Adolph Rupp of Kentucky won more games in SEC history than LSU’s Brown. Brown and Rupp are the only coaches that had 17 non-losing seasons and Brown is the only coach to have increased his number of victories six years in a row. His most famous player was Shaquille O’Neal, two-time All American, who in 1991 was given the Adolph Rupp Trophy as NCAA men’s basketball player of the year. Today, Dale Brown is a highly sought after motivational speaker and is often called “The Master Motivator.” For more information, on his speaking and his books, go to his Web site: www.coachdalebrown.com
While many people in America, especially sports fans, know the record and accomplishments of Coach Dale Brown, I dare to say that most people do not know his personal story and what motivated him to achieve outstanding success. While painful at the time, it’s a legacy that any of us would be blessed to have.
In Dale’s own words, he talks about the early influence his mother had on his life. He says, “I guess you could say that my story of faith started two days before I was born. Two days before I was born, my so-called father left my mother, two young sisters, 11 and 12 years of age, and me, and he never returned. His departure left my mother in a difficult position.
“She had an eighth-grade education, came off the farm in North Dakota, and couldn’t get a job during the Great Depression in 1935. In the cold prairies of North Dakota, she had to do two things that were very unpleasant for her: she became a baby sitter to earn money, and she had to put our family on welfare. We lived in a one-room apartment above a bar and hardware store, and I remember my mother getting $42.50 in Ward County welfare each month. She sat down and meticulously decided what breads and canned goods we could buy for the coming week. Several times during these difficult times, my mother taught me a lesson that has stayed with me during my entire life.
“Two times I saw my mother get on her winter coat, walk down a flight of stairs, and take back to the Red Owl and the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores 25 cents and 40 cents, because the clerks had given her too much change for the groceries she had brought home. Seeing her dress in the middle of winter, I said, ‘Mama, where are you going?’ She said, ‘Oh, I’m taking this money back to the store. They gave me too much change’.”
Dale continued by saying that his mother followed the advice of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century when he said, “Preach the gospel every day, and if necessary use words.” What I saw here was “Character and Adversity are Soul Mates,” and I bet you did, too. His basketball skills were a gift from God.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The next column password is: Bean

No. 755 - AMERICA'S BEST EDUCATIONAL VALUE !

No. 755

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AMERICA’S BEST EDUCATIONAL VALUE!

With the help and support of the good people in my community, we have developed what I believe to be the best educational value in our country. This statement is true for several valid and very important reasons. To begin, every city, town and community in our nation has low-income families, with most of these being below the poverty level. As a general rule, most of these families do not have many, if any, books for their children to read, and education is not a top priority. These children, through no fault of their own, are at the greatest risk of dropping out of school, missing great opportunities for personal success. Many of them later get into trouble with the law, which often means costly incarceration.
This is the backdrop for a terrific literacy project that we started in 2005 called the Conway Bookcase Project, which is directed by a chairman and a 14-member committee of volunteers. Our project uses no tax money or grants of any kind. We build 50 quality personalized oak bookcases each year and present them to young children, free of charge, in the local Head Start program and the Conway Housing Authority. These bookcases, along with a starter set of books, in many cases, are the nicest piece of furniture in their homes.
It is important to understand that this is not a civic club project, not a church project, not a government project, not a school project – it’s a community project, where we seek to get the whole community involved. The support has been tremendous, as we have had students from three area schools involved, civic clubs, churches, local and state officials, the business community and leaders from our three institutions of higher education. Since we started in 2005, we have had between 2,000 and 3,000 people involved in one way or another.
The funds to build the bookcases is raised by holding a “Bookcase Literacy Banquet” each fall and is held at a local middle school cafeteria. Each person who attends buys a ticket for $15.95 and this covers a fantastic meal served family style, some great local entertainment and a complimentary copy of the founder’s book, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” Many banks, public officials and individuals purchase a table of eight tickets and a crowd of 300 to 400 people will provide all the money needed to build the bookcases and have money left over to provide ‘seed’ money to help other communities start their own bookcase project.
A group of volunteer craftsmen build the bookcases in early spring, and an awards ceremony follows at the end of April, where they are presented to the children and their parents. Again, the whole community is invited, thanks to our local newspaper and cable television station, and we hold the ceremony at our local library. To this date we have built and presented 300 of these bookcases, and the children and their parents are delighted to receive them. At the ceremony we have an invocation, presentation of the colors by the high school JROTC unit, a welcome by a local or state official, a keynote address, the presentation of the bookcases, special thanks to donors from the project chairman and the closing benediction.
When a child starts to school ready to learn, they have a much better chance to succeed, and is why our no-cost project is the best educational value in our country. Every community needs a bookcase project and you can help to bring it about. Go to www.google.com and type in Bookcase Literacy Banquet and you will learn why this is so important. We care.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 756 - A GOOD DOSE OF REALITY

No. 756

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A GOOD DOSE OF REALITY

Every once in a while we all need a good dose of reality. This is necessary to keep our feet solidly on the ground and not get caught up in a steady stream of politics that goes on around us for much of the time. The other day, a friend sent me something that might serve a useful purpose, as it presented a clear case of a good dose of reality.
It seems this middle age man and his wife had a young college-grad granddaughter they loved deeply, and had been there to help financially over some rough spots in her life. This granddaughter, whose name is Ashley, drives a flashy hybrid car, wears all the latest fashions, and loves to go out to nightclubs and restaurants. She also campaigned hard for our nation’s newly elected president. After the election she made sure her grandfather, who did not vote for President Obama, received a big “I told-you-so” earful, on how the world is going to be a much better place now that her party is taking over.
That was then. This is now. Ashley lost both of her roommates and ran short of cash and cannot pay the rent (again) on her three-bedroom townhouse. Like she had done many times in the past, she e-mailed her grandfather asking for some financial help. His response is the dose of reality that I mentioned earlier. In part, here is what he said, “Ashley, you know that I love you dearly and I’m sympathetic to your financial plight. Unfortunately, times have changed. With the election of President Obama, your grandmother and I have had to set forth a bold economic plan of our own… ‘The Ashley Economic Empowerment Plan’.
“Let me explain. Your grandmother and I are lifelong, wage-earning taxpayers. We have lived a comfortable life, as you know, but have never had the fancier things like European vacations, luxury cars, etc. We have worked hard and were looking forward to retiring soon. But the plan has changed. Your president is raising our personal and business taxes significantly. He says it is so he can give our hard-earned money to other people. Do you know what this means, Ashley? It means less for us, and we must cut back on our personal expenses.”
The grandfather goes on to tell her about having to let his wonderful receptionist of 22 years go, and that her grandmother will now have to work four days a week to answer the phone. He also reports that her cousin Frank will no longer be working summers in the warehouse. When he called Frank to tell him, he was upset because he will have to give up skydiving and his yearly trip to Greenland to survey the polar bears.
When I read this, I realized that it was highly partisan and, for the most part, I try to stay away from partisan politics. What tilted my decision in favor of sharing it was the dose of reality aspect that so many people need to hear, regardless of which party is in power and how our nation’s financial fortunes play out.
There is an old saying that goes, “The one who pays the fiddler calls the tune.” There is one thing that our government can do that we, as individuals, can’t do, and that’s print money. When we run out of money we are just out and it’s then that we have to figure out how we are going to get more to pay our bills and live the kind of life we wish to live. Older people who have worked hard and saved money know how they got it. If we choose to give it away that’s benevolence. If someone takes it, that’s robbery. For Ashley, it was a good dose of reality.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 757 - THE COACH GARRISON CHALLENGE !

No. 757

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE COACH GARRISON CHALLENGE!

In case you have not noticed, in America today we have a sports culture. At least to me, it seems like our whole national calendar revolves around one major sporting event or another. Even the people on the Weather Channel tell you what kind of weather to expect the day of the big game, big race, big golf tournament or ___ (and here you fill in the blank).
In school, who do you think has the most influence on a student’s life? If the student is involved in sports, you can rest assured the answer is the coach, even more so than parents, in many cases.
Here is my reason for sharing this with you. Almost from the time we started the “Bookcase for Every Child” project here in Conway back in 2005, I have had a very serious concern. Our goal is to provide children in low-income families with a bookcase and some quality books in an attempt to help them develop a passion for reading, as this is the foundation for long-lasting success. My concern is that we can help a child learn to read, but there is another trait or element that we must help him develop if he is to be successful as a person. This is to help him develop good character. Many people in prison can read.
This is where I believe coaches all across America can be a tremendous help, and I also believe that most coaches have no idea how much influence they have on the attitudes, values and morals of their players. It is really important to reach young players in the summer leagues, junior high and senior high levels. For those who make it to the next level we can’t wait until they get to college, because in most cases it’s too late. It’s hard to change ingrained habits, attitudes and morals of those who need help the most, as it relates to good character.
To be sure, I don’t have much influence when it comes to athletics or coaches, but I have a good friend here in Conway who is a sports icon, and he shares my philosophy. I have asked him to get involved in this effort. This man’s name is Cliff Garrison, well known in our community and state. Together we have developed The Coach Garrison Challenge. In case you don’t personally know Cliff, his name is synonymous with athletics at Hendrix College. The competition court in the new $20 million Wellness & Athletic Center bears his name.
He served as Hendrix men’s basketball coach and athletic director for 31 of his 41 total years in coaching. He is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Lifetime member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches for 34 years, with other titles, honors, records, awards and leadership positions too numerous to mention. Cliff and I both know and believe in the power of reading great books and the impact the content can make on a person’s life.
Over time, with coaches all across America getting involved, The Coach Garrison Challenge will make a tremendous difference in the lives of many young players. Cliff’s challenge is for coaches to read two fantastic books and then ask their players to read them as well.
These two books are “Gifted Hands” by Dr. Ben Carson (ISBN 9780310214694) and “A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring” by the late Coach John Wooden (ISBN 10-1596917016). These books are available at most bookstores or www.Overstock.com and www.Amazon.com.
Almost daily we see the devastation and impact of poor character in the lives of many sports celebrities, and this hurts the individual player, their family, friends and the image of sports.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 758 - THE DOWNSIDE OF THE LOTTERY

No. 758

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE DOWNSIDE OF THE LOTTERY

In some circles, what I am going to say in this column will be about as popular and well received as a skunk at a family reunion. I want to say a few words about the downside of the lottery. This is something you don’t hear much about by the promoters, the media, state government officials and others who profit from it.
We now have 44 states in our nation that have a lottery in one form or another. My own state of Arkansas was the most recent to get on board, as the 2008 election indicated that a majority of our citizens were for it. Our voters had turned it down on at least two previous occasions, but this time they tied the fortunes of the lottery to a couple of very special words – education and kids.
Who could be against education and who could be against kids, especially when it comes to kids getting a free college education because of proceeds from the lottery? Here, let me be very clear. I am one of the 37 percent of Arkansans who voted against the lottery, have never played it and don’t ever plan to. There are two very definite reasons why this is true for me, and I will share them with you at the end of this column. A few weeks ago we had a speaker from the state lottery commission speak to our local Lions Club. One of the first things she said, even though she works for the lottery, is that she voted against it, too.
She then went on to build a pretty solid case for the lottery and why it is good for our state. If you live outside the state of Arkansas, the odds are pretty good that you also have a state lottery and, therefore, have more experience to base your feelings on. In other words, if you could do it all over again, would you vote yes or no to have it? Our speaker made it very clear that the lottery was to be viewed purely as entertainment. They also have a pretty good deal in relation to bad debts, as they only take cash (no checks or credit cards).
The lottery would not be a bad deal if we lived in a perfect world where all educated people and those who played it would buy only one or two lottery tickets each week, and that would be the extent of it. However, we know this is not the case. This is the reason we have Gamblers Anonymous -- to help those who become addicted to gambling and cannot help themselves. We have another issue where many people who play the lottery spend money they would otherwise spend on groceries, merchandise and other items where they pay sales taxes. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul, but the lottery money is earmarked for scholarships and the shortfall must be made up in some way, which usually means raising taxes.
While colleges and universities across the nation will continue to raise tuition -- that is the nature of progress -- the presence of scholarship lottery money makes the prospects a lot more inviting. The lottery has been proven to be the most regressive tax of all, where low-income and uneducated people bear the greatest burden of supporting it. One of the slogans the lottery people use here is “All you need is a dollar and a dream.” Really! By their own numbers, the odds of hitting the big jackpot are 174 million to one. The odds are better that a person will be struck by lightning than to be a large (millions of dollars) jackpot winner.
This is a personal choice, but here is the main reason for my opposition to the lottery. It creates a false hope for good people who could succeed at most anything, including financially, if they worked hard and used their own ingenuity and creativity.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 759 - WE WILL MISS YOU, BILL !

No. 759

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WE WILL MISS YOU, BILL!

Most every die-hard basketball fan and player in America knows whom you are talking about when you mention “The Big Red Head.” This moniker belongs to Bill Walton, four-year starter for the 10-time national champion UCLA Bruins and 14 years as a professional player in the National Basketball Association.
When Bill Walton was in high school in Southern California he had a bad stuttering problem, but he overcame it and went on to become a television broadcaster. Today, Bill gives much of the credit for his success to the late Coach John Wooden, who won 665 games during his coaching years. However, history will probably record that his greatest contribution has and will come from his mentoring and being the author of nine books that talks about success in life, even more important than success in basketball.
His latest book, written when he was 98 ½ years of age, is titled “A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring.” It is without a doubt his best work and will no doubt be the standard for motivational and inspirational books for decades to come. It is one of the two books that Coach Cliff Garrison is recommending for coaches, all across the nation to read, along with “Gifted Hands” by Dr. Ben Carson. These books can make a difference in any person’s life, and they will be read by countless coaches who never see or read “The Coach Garrison Challenge” but Cliff’s personal endorsement, and his purpose in doing it, will cause thousands more to get involved in mentoring young players.
Coach Wooden lists and talks about seven mentors in his own life, including his father Joshua Wooden; his grade school principal and coach Earl Warriner; his high school coach, Glenn Curtis, at Martinsville, Ind.; his coach at Purdue University, Piggy Lambert; and then Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln and Nellie, his beloved wife of 53 years who died in 1985. All of these played a great role in his life, but Nellie, his soul mate, was his greatest inspiration – she was the only girl he ever dated and ever kissed and was faithful to for all those years.
The second half of the book was written, for the most part, by just a few of those Coach Wooden had mentored, the most notable being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Roy Williams (coach at North Carolina) and Dale Brown, who coached for many years at Louisiana State University. Each gave a tremendous testimony of what Coach Wooden had meant to them and the success they later enjoyed in life. There is a famous story about Bill Walton that has been printed many times that will give you some insights into this “Wizard of Westwood,” the coach who sat silently on the bench during the games with a rolled-up program.
Bill Walton came to UCLA as a freshman in 1970, and while a tremendous “big man” basketball player, he was also a free spirit. Our nation had just gone through the Vietnam War era and Bill had strong personal convictions. As a result, he and Coach Wooden had many disagreements, but the coach always had the last word. Bill was named MVP in the last two championship games, and during his senior year he decided to challenge the coach on his policy of no long hair and beards worn by any of his players. When Bill told him he felt his rules were outdated, the look the coach gave him was more sympathetic than stern. The coach said, “Bill, I acknowledge you have a right to disagree with my rules, but I am the coach here and we will miss you.”
Here’s a final question from me. Could we use more of that today? Read the book.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 760 - ARE YOU WASTING YOUR LIFE ?

No. 760

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

ARE YOU WASTING YOUR LIFE?

The other day a lady who reads my column said something that really has me thinking. She said, “Your columns are too deep for me.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. I have never seen my writing as being too deep for anyone, but perhaps there are some readers who, from time to time, miss the point of what I am trying to get across.
Of course you know the three rules of communication are: be clear, be clear and be clear. There are some of my columns that require a good deal of research and contain facts and statistics that may be foreign to the thinking of some people, because we all have our own frame of reference. Anyway, if I have ever left you in the dark, it’s my fault; please accept my apologies.
There is another aspect of writing columns that enters the picture from time to time. Many subjects of a serious and far-reaching nature must be documented and have evidence that confirms what the writer is saying is true, at least reported and backed up by some reliable person, group or organization. Then there are other subjects that are more subjective and contain the writer’s own views and attitudes. It’s hard to argue with someone who says, “This happened to me.” What I want to present for your thinking today is of the latter nature.
I would like to begin with this simple question. Are you wasting your life? This question really strikes at the very heart of who we are as a person. It’s not for me or anyone else to say if you are wasting your life, but what is important is if you are happy with it. The other day a friend sent me a quotation that really hits the nail on the head. This quotation, by James Van Praagh goes, “We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life.”
This quote was followed by a Question of the Week: If you could trade places with one person for a week, who would it be? Now, you think about that. Does anyone come to mind? Is there some person who is living such a rewarding, fulfilling and happy life -- maybe with a lot of money, or talent, or a lofty position in society -- who you would like to trade places with for just one week. Anyone come to mind? For me personally, I can honestly say that there is no person on earth that I would like to trade places with for any length of time.
The reason I would not want to trade places with anyone else is because I think I am the most blessed person on earth. I cannot say that this has always been the case. Over the past several years the life I have built has been the result of hard work, having a wonderful wife, a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and a number of meaningful causes that provides all the satisfaction that any person could ever hope for. For the past several years, our bookcase project (and I have had tremendous help) has been so rewarding just knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of many, many precious children.
When it comes to whether or not we are wasting our lives, I ran across a quotation by William James, the father of modern psychology, which has tremendous merit, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.”
You may disagree to my way of thinking, a person is wasting their life if all they are doing is taking care of their own needs, to eat, drink and be merry. The most rewarding things we can do are what we do for others, what we leave behind when we are dead and gone. We only have one chance, so let’s do it right the first time.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 761 - CAN HUMANS BE DOMESTICATED ?

No. 761

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

CAN HUMANS BE DOMESTICATED?

Here is a question that I would like for you to ponder with me for a few minutes. Can humans be domesticated? The obvious answer to this question is yes, even though many people never get the word and still act like animals.
With regards to humans, there is a contingency to my previous question, and this is what I want to present for your thought and consideration. Some time back a friend was telling me about a fantastic book titled “Wild Child” written by T.C. Boyle, an English professor at the University of Southern California and a fantastic writer. I then checked this book out of our local library and have read it.
The setting for this book is the village of Lacaune in the Languedoc Region of France. The year is 1797. The story begins with a group of weary, rain-soaked hunters returning from an unproductive hunting trip, when one of them spots what looks like a small child in the glade a few hundred yards away. He is cracking and eating acorns, but has not spotted them yet. When he does, he quickly vanishes into the brush. The child was naked and walked on all fours, and a visible large scar was clearly seen on his neck.
It was later revealed that he was a rebellious 13th child of a peasant family, pre-lingual, around age 5, when his father’s second wife took him into the forest with full intentions of killing him with a butcher knife. Deep into the forest, she twisted his head around and slashed his throat, and while blood gushed freely, she disappeared back into the brush and was gone. But the child didn’t die. At this point he was all alone with nothing but survival instincts and the will to live. He would spend the next several years without human contact, in the forest, constantly looking for something to eat. When his clothes were gone, there was nothing to replace them, so his skin adjusted.
This child was around 8 or 9 years of age when spotted by the hunters and was not seen again for several weeks. Then one day he was seen again, and this time captured by Messier, the village smith, and put on display for everyone in the village to see. Here was a child that was really an animal in human form, with no language, no ideas, no way of knowing he was alive, or in what place. He did not know why he was alive and that his life was no different than any of the other creatures in the forest. From this point forward, an unbelievable story unfolds of an escape, unknowingly making his way across a mountain range, to near Paris, France, where a second capture takes place.
He is first taken to an orphanage, and later to a school for deaf-mutes where two noted professors wanted to study him. Here, they began the process of trying to restore him to lead a civilized life. One professor, Jean Marc Gaspard, was having great success with deaf-mutes, but this wild child never responded to any stimulus, never spoke a word, never showed any signs of reentering society. This professor refused to give up on him, with no progress whatsoever, until the child was around 15 years of age and normal sexual instincts begin to take over. When he exposed himself to his teachers and all the female students, this was the last straw.
He was banished to live out his life with one of his caregivers, but he never spoke a word, made no progress of any kind, and finally died when he was 40 years of age. Can humans be domesticated? This true story suggests that only if we start soon enough.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 762 - ARE YOU OVER THE HILL ?

No. 762

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

ARE YOU OVER THE HILL?

The other day I heard a somewhat humorous story. This elderly man woke up one morning and thought he was dead. He did not hurt anywhere. One of the definite signs of getting older is that you discover you have muscles and joints that you never knew you had. Any kind of work or strenuous exercise, out of your regular daily routine, produces a soreness and discomfort that stays around until you find some kind of relief, or enough time passes for you to recover. I have always been an active person, participating in sports, gardening and just doing things around the house that keeps my body healthy.
However, things changed for me about a year ago, when I had a second triple bypass surgery and was soon placed on an exercise program, first at the hospital cardiac therapy unit and then the local fitness center. Blue Cross has a program called Silver Sneakers, and they will pay your fitness center dues if you have a Blue Cross policy. They found out that it’s a lot cheaper to pay fitness center dues than hospital and doctors bills. I try to go at least three times a week to walk on the treadmill, use several exercise machines and then some weightlifting for muscle tone.
I have said all that to say this: as we get older it’s important to keep our bodies healthy and physically fit if we want to stay around for a long time. Recently, I received a book by Dr. Don McGrath titled, “50 Athletes Over 50” that is jam-packed with useful information that will inspire any person, regardless of age, to maintain a great physical body. Dr. McGrath, who lives with his wife, Sylvia, in Fort Collins, Colo., is a leading advocate for those who want to be fit and healthy later in life through exercise and sports.
We are each different, but one thing I have noticed is that older people, from 65 to 100, maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise of some sort. Most people who have participated in athletics of some sort earlier in life continue with the same sport or adapt to another sport, but they stay active. A lot of time and effort went into Don’s book and he actually made the contacts and interviewed 50 older athletes to learn what motivated them and how their experience could benefit others.
There is a wide range of sports or activities involved that are different from your typical sports jock. Here is a partial list: distance runner, surfer, outrigger canoeist, bodybuilder, martial artist, triathlete, mountain unicyclist, dancer, rock climber, Nordic skier, weight lifter, race walker, handball player, power lifter, snowshoe racer and many more. Then there’s “Banana” George Blair, who is still water skiing barefoot at the age of 94. George has set several records, including being the oldest person to ever barefoot water ski and also the first to ever water ski barefoot on all seven continents.
This is a great book for anyone who would like to see the countless possibilities of either continuing a sport, either in competition or just to maintain fitness, and what it can do for you personally. The advice is simple. Consult your doctor, and if you want to lead a long and healthy life, get involved and stay involved in some type of regular exercise program. This book will show you and teach you why this is important. A lot of people think they are too old to start and that they are over the hill. The truth is, we can’t be over the hill until we first make it to the top.
Again, the book is “50 Athletes Over 50” by Dr. Don McGrath. Google it.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 763 - WHAT MAKES YOU MAD ?

No. 763

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHAT MAKES YOU MAD?

Several weeks ago a newspaper reporter came to my office to conduct an interview for a feature article about our “Bookcase for Every Child” project. During the interview, one of the questions she asked was, “What makes you mad?” Without a moment’s hesitation I said, “People who are unkind.”
While I am usually pretty good at keeping my emotions in check, I get angry when I see other people deliberately being unkind to others they come across, whether it’s a member of their family, an employee, a co-worker, a competitor or maybe someone they don’t even know. To my way of thinking, we have far too much incivility in our country.
Of course there are many other things that make me mad, like cheating or taking unfair advantage of others, but here again, I try to keep things in perspective and try to give others the benefit of a doubt.
Now this question please, “What makes YOU mad?” Have you ever thought about this? We should not go through life being mad or angry, because that is unhealthy. However, if we do get mad from time to time, let’s get mad about the right things.
This is something I thought about when I received an e-mail from a friend the other day. It was titled “2010 College Football Scouting Report.”
It begins, “Well folks, it has arrived…the 2010 football scouting report! The following report is making the rounds of Division I college football coaches: Texas recruit- Wayfron P. Jackson, 6’ 6”, 215 lbs. Wide receiver. Hottest prospect from Texas in the last 10 years. Loves rap music. Will demand a mini cassette in his helmet. Currently holds world record for most “you knows” during an interview (62 in one minute). Wayfron can print his complete name.
Florida State recruit – Cletis Quinticious Jenkins: 6’ 3”, 220 lbs. Running back. Set state scoring record out of Triton High School, Dunn, N.C. Also, led the state in burglaries, but had only nine convictions. He has been clocked at 4.2 seconds in the 40 dash with a 19” TV under each arm.
Ohio State recruit – Roosevelt “Dude” Dansell: 6’ 1”, 195 lbs. Running back from Tyler, Texas. Has processed hair and imitates Billy Dee Williams very well. Before he signed his letter of intent, he wanted the school to change colors to chartreuse and pink. Listed his church preference as “red brick.”
Southern Cal recruit – Tyrone “Python” Peoples: 6’ 10” 228 lbs. Wide receiver. Has a pending paternity suit and two rape trials, but hopes none of his other nine victims will file charges. Tyrone has already signed letters of intent with six other colleges, but was also willing to sign with us. Thinks Taco Bell is the Mexican Telephone Company.”
There is more, but you get the idea. When I read this it made me mad, not because it did not have merit but because of the people who had failed these “fictional” but, all too often, real individuals during their childhood. This scouting report was obviously a put-down of super star African-American high school football players. During the interviews after a big college game, I think most people listen to see if the star players, especially African-Americans, are articulate and well spoken and many are, but unfortunately many are not.
When you think about the earlier examples, just think about the people who failed them, starting with their parents, their teachers, and a school system or college that used them for the sake of a winning record or money from ticket sales. We must do better.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 764 - GOING THROUGH LIFE - "JUST IN CASE !"

No. 764

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

GOING THROUGH LIFE – “JUST IN CASE!”

Have you ever thought about the fact that many of the choices and decisions we make in life are made with a contingency? When it comes time to choose, whether consciously or unconsciously, we often say, “just in case" -- this is really just another way of saying that we should always be prepared.
Here are a few examples to illustrate what I am saying. When we leave home, if the skies are overcast and threatening, we take an umbrella “just in case” it rains. For me, a personal example is back when we had a well before we got city water, Viola would always keep several bottles of water in the utility room “just in case” the electricity went off.
There are thousands of “just in case” examples, but my favorite was back when we were growing up. When leaving home in the car, mother always said, “Be sure you have on clean underwear, just in case you have a wreck.”
There is no limit to the examples I could use here, but the best one I have ever heard is about a little blacksmith who lived in a small town. He was an excellent blacksmith, made good money, but he was only a little over 5 feet tall and he was secretly in love with a girl who was at least a foot taller than he was.
Every so often this girl would walk by his shop and look in while he was working, but he would just duck his head and he never let his feelings be known. Then one day, she brought a little dog chain in for him to weld back together, after it had been broken. He jumped at the chance and made that chain look like a log chain. She said, “What do I owe you?” He said, “Little lady you don’t owe me a thing. I was glad to do it.” She then said, “Surely, there must be something I can do for you.”
Well, here it was, the girl of his dreams asking if she could do something for him. He just blurted it out. He said, “I am wondering if I might come calling on you.” She said, “You certainly may. You could come by my house tonight.” With this encouragement, he jumped up on an old anvil sitting on the floor of his shop and planted a kiss on her. She didn’t resist and this encouraged him still further, so he said, “Don’t make me wait till tonight. Let’s take a little stroll in the meadow back behind the shop and let me just pour out my heart to you.” She said, “Well, I guess I will.” So they started down the path of this beautiful little meadow. It was a beautiful time of the year. The wild flowers were blooming and the birds were singing.
After they strolled along for several hundred yards, chatting away, they paused in this little secluded spot and this little blacksmith looked up at this girl of his dreams and said, “How about another kiss?” She said, “No, I don’t think so. Not on our first date.” With this, the little blacksmith heaved a sigh of relief. He said, “Well, if there is not going to be any more kissing, I am going to sit this anvil down.” Now, here was a man who went prepared and he understood the concept of “just in case.”
What I have just shared with you is another one of those Bob Murphy stories that I love so much. There will never be another Bob Murphy, who told down-to-earth stories, clean as a hounds tooth, kept you in stitches, while learning some of life’s valuable lessons at the same time.
You know, our nation is going through some tough times right now, millions of people out of work, and the national debt has reached epidemic proportions. Freedom is not, and has never been, free. We must all be ready, “Just in Case.”
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 765 - BETTER ... T HAN THE ORIGINAL !

No. 765

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BETTER … THAN THE ORIGINAL!

Over the years many companies that have used the slogan, “Better … Than the Original.” One of the copy machine companies, I have forgotten which one, used this slogan to impress customers and would be customers that when an original went in their machine, the resulting copy would be sharper and clearer than the original that was used to make the copy. To be sure, this company’s machines did a good job, but it will take some doing to convince me that when you use a copy to make a copy and then take this copy and make another copy, and continue the pattern, the end result will be just as good as the original or the first one. With each succeeding generation you lose a little quality.
In a very real sense, this is what has been happening in our nation over the past several generations. While technology is great and has helped us in so many ways, we may have reached the point of overkill, especially in the area of electronics. Sometimes what we think is progress is really not progress at all, but just another way for companies to make a profit on customers who are hooked on having the latest things or gadgets. However, kids in today’s culture who are growing up with all these “advantages” may be missing an education in the most important quality of all -- the development of personal integrity and character.
In relation to integrity and character, it may be necessary to go back to the original to see where we went wrong. Most Americans are familiar with the term, “The Greatest Generation,” but many of today’s youth may not know what it means. This is a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in World War II, as well as those whose productivity within the war’s home front made a decisive material contribution to the war effort. In 1998 Tom Brokaw wrote the book “The Greatest Generation” that will provide the basis for the kind of character that built our nation into the greatest superpower on earth.
I came along near the end of World War II and grew up when the vast majority of our citizens had character -- back in the days when no one locked their doors, a man’s word was his bond and adults felt safe in correcting the children of others. Then something happened when the Vietnam War era came along. This war was so unpopular that a new generation grew up who had disdain for authority and a total lack of respect for many of the institutions in our society. Now, this is where the slogan “Better…Than the Original” comes into play. When you take “The Greatest Generation,” the parents of “Baby Boomers” and they have children, and they have children, and they have children, and each succeeding generation is a little further removed from the original, you have only to read, listen and watch the news to see the results.
In spite of our recent history, we have many fine young people today who are the leaders of tomorrow. The slogan of our “Bookcase for Every Child” project is “Building a New Generation of Readers.” In today’s times, if children are to succeed, they must learn to read and keep reading to become lifelong readers. It’s not just learning to read that will enable our children to succeed, but they must also develop outstanding character. To be sure, we are each copies of a copy, but if we latch on to a good original and allow them to mentor us, we will help to preserve our way of life and insure future generations the same great opportunities we have had.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 766 - THE MEANING OF LAUS DEO !

No. 766

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE MEANING OF LAUS DEO!

The people who know me best -- family, friends, people I attend church with, members of my civic club, those involved with our bookcase project and hopefully, thousands of those who read this column -- will tell you that I am a pretty simple and down-to-earth guy. I do my best to be honest, to tell the truth, treat others with dignity and respect and I have a deep love for God and my country. Given these things, I am also grateful for the privilege of living in the greatest nation in the history of the world. Our forefathers and those in the military, past and present, have paid the price for me to be free and have opportunities unlike three-fourths of the rest of the people in the world.
Without a doubt, we have a spiritual heritage and a reverence for God, and His blessings, unlike any other nation on earth. A firm reliance upon God is where we derive our power. God has truly blessed our nation, and it baffles me to no end why we have people in America who are also blessed who want to remove God from every aspect of public life, to our ruin. This is not to say that we don’t have differences in forms of worship, because we do, but going all the way back to the very beginning of our nation we made sure that God was Sovereign and that we honored and reverenced Him in the very fabric of our national character.
In the event you do not believe this, allow me to share something a thoughtful reader sent me the other day. It has to do with the Washington Monument and the simple words, “Laus Deo.” Many people may not know that, by law, no building can ever be built in our nation’s capital that is higher than the Washington Monument that stands at 555 feet. Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848, when James Polk was president of the United States, it was not until 1888 that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public. It took 25 years to finally cap the memorial, and on one side of the cap was a tribute to the Father of our nation, Laus Deo, a Latin phrase meaning, “Praise Be to God”
No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there, and for that matter, probably couldn’t care less. But once you know the history, you may want to share them with everyone you know. Laus Deo --two seemingly insignificant words. Out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningful placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world. Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message. On the 12th landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore; on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians; on the 24th a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6. Praise Be to God! When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4, 1848, deposited within it were many items, including the Holy Bible presented by the American Bible Society.
Please send this to every child you know: to every sister, brother, father, mother or friend. They will not find offense, because you have given them a lesson in history that they probably never learned in school. In today’s times it is fitting to end with these words from Psalm 127: 1 “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 767 - THE TOWN LIBRARY

No. 767

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE TOWN LIBRARY

This past year our local public school district honored our Conway Bookcase Project with special recognition and a plaque. As the chairman, I was invited to attend the annual graduation and to say a few brief words. I am not used to holding my comments to one or two minutes, but with almost 600 graduates and parents who came to see their child walk across the stage to get their diploma, I would have been shot if I had gone any longer. For the sake of brevity I told those in attendance about two other graduates. Following the ceremony one said to the other, “Thank God it’s over. I will never open another book as long as I live.” The sad thing about this statement is that he probably didn’t, but he was the loser.
In more than 40 years of trying to help people succeed, the one constant for those who make it over the long haul is that they are readers. Reading good books makes all the difference in the world. We are blessed here in our community to have a fantastic library, and Ruth Voss, our county librarian, has invited our bookcase project committee to hold our annual Bookcase Awards Ceremony at our library, which will accommodate up to 1,000 people. Most every community has a library of some kind. Many are small, but nevertheless are a valuable asset in the lives of many of its citizens.
I did not get turned on to books until later in life, and I regret that, because I am the loser. When you open your mind and read, it makes you think, and according to the late Henry Ford, thinking is the hardest work there is. This is probably the reason so few do it. If you are a thinker and have visited your local library in the past few weeks, I believe you will enjoy a series of library quotations someone sent me a while back. To get the most from these quotations you will have to think and may even have to go back and read them again.
“I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.” -- Groucho Marx. “I had plenty of pimples as a kid. One day I fell asleep in the library. When I woke up, a blind man was reading my face.” -- Rodney Dangerfield. “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic, as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.” -- Lady Bird Johnson.
“A good book is the best of friends.” -- English Proverb. “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” -- Mark Twain. “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.” -- Descartes.
“Knowledge is free at the library. Just bring your own container.” -- Unknown.
“Never judge a book by its movie.” -- J W Eagan. “An original idea, that can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.” Unknown. “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” -- Francis Bacon. “To those with ears to hear, libraries are really very noisy places. On their shelves we hear the captured voices of the centuries-old conversation that makes up our civilization.” -- Timothy Healy.
“Reading is thinking with someone else’s head instead of one’s own.” -- Unknown. “Library: a place where people lower their voices and raise their minds.” -- Richard Armour. “Nobody graduated from a library. Nobody graduated without one.” -- Debbi Healy.
Here is a final thought from me. Fill your mind with only the best and the results will be obvious.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 768 - EVERY COMMUNITY NEEDS A STANLEY RUSS

No. 768

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

EVERY COMMUNITY NEEDS A STANLEY RUSS

Do you know someone in your community, retired or semi-retired, who has impeccable character and integrity, is a good communicator, can chair a meeting, emcee a banquet, and do radio, television and newspaper interviews? The person I have just described, man or woman, can be the leader of a “Bookcase for Every Child” project in your community.
Before I move on, let me be quick to say that every community of any size has a number of people who can do this. To restate the obvious, I am talking about leadership.
Here in Conway, Arkansas, we are blessed to have a retired state senator by the name of Stanley Russ, who surpasses my earlier description with flying colors. He has been involved not only in our bookcase project but with every other organization you can name. He was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1975 and served 26 years, and served as President Pro Tem of the Senate from 1995-1997. He was named one of the “Ten Outstanding State Legislators in the United States” in 1981. He is a past president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Faulkner County, Kiwanis Club and Central Arkansas Life Underwriters.
Stanley is past state president of Future Farmers of America; past chairman of the Foothills District of Boy Scouts of America; board member of Faulkner County and State 4-H Foundation; member of Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and the class of 2000 of the Arkansas Agri Hall of Fame; was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow of Conway Rotary Club, and a charter recipient of the Faulkner County Leadership Award by the Faulkner County Leadership Institute in 1997. He also received the University of Central Arkansas Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Distinguished Service Award in 1998.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Arkansas and an associate’s degree in agriculture from Arkansas Tech University. He served during the Korean War, stateside, Army Artillery Division. He is a member of the Second Baptist Church and former deacon and was married to the former Nina Benton for 50-plus years. He is the father of Debbie Merritt and Stan Russ and grandfather of five. There is much more, but you can understand why he was chosen the person with the most influence in Faulkner County when our local daily newspaper, the Log Cabin Democrat, conducted a reader’s poll several years ago.
When we began the Conway Bookcase Project back in 2005, Stanley’s late wife Nina was a charter member of our committee. When she passed away a few years ago, we asked Stanley to take her place and continue the work she had begun. We are blessed to have him and he has made a real contribution, especially as emcee for our Bookcase Literacy Banquet and during the annual Awards Ceremony, when we present the bookcases and a starter set of books to the children and their parents.
Now, here is my real reason for sharing this with you. As I said earlier, every community, of any size, probably has several people like Stanley Russ who can be the leader for a bookcase project in your community.
It’s not a difficult job at all for the right person. We just do what we do best. Other committee members can handle most of the details, but a good leader is really the image of the project that is projected in your community, and in the minds of your people. These children being reared in low-income or disadvantaged homes deserve our best. Together, we are making a difference. Please help us find the right person in your community.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 769 - SEE IT IN YOUR MIND'S EYE

No. 769

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

SEE IT IN YOUR MIND’S EYE

The human mind is the greatest agency ever to appear on the face of the earth. From this small mass of gray matter has hatched every thought, idea, invention and advancement that has moved the human race forward right up to the present time. A great miracle takes place when a child is born, created in the image of God, because he has the intrinsic potential to learn, grow and make a contribution to his fellow human beings. This child is the product of a genetic pool that goes back thousands and thousands of years. The child’s parents determine, to a large degree, his success or failure and his role in society. There is an old Chinese Proverb that says, “If you are planning for one year, sow rice. If you are planning for a decade, plant trees, but if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”
Now, in view of what I have just shared, this question please: What are you doing with your mind? Are you using it to anywhere near its potential? It is in this context that I would like to share a very simple analogy that could make all the difference in the world in your life, especially if you are not using that marvelous mind that God has given you, to do and have the things you really desire. It can be truthfully stated that none of us use our minds to anywhere near its real potential. It has been reported that Albert Einstein used only 10 percent of his mental capacity, so you can see mother lode where I am staking out a claim.
The analogy that I referred to took place several weeks ago while I was building a trellis to support a “trumpet” vine that I had planted in the yard. A friend had given me several four-inch by four-inch treated posts that were about seven feet long. I had previously built a compost bin, using five feet high wire, to hold leaves, and had wrapped it around several pine trees to fashion a pen. When this project was finished, I had a four foot piece of fence wire left over. Rather, than throw it away, I just tossed it aside.
Well, it came in handy. I took this wire and some staples and tacked the wire to a couple of these treated posts. These posts were long enough to have about two feet in the ground and still have five feet sticking up above ground to support the trellis. Now, here is where my mind took over. I had been using some one-in by four-inch treated boards on another project and I saw a way to cover the wire edges, cut the boards to length for both the cross boards and those that would be straight up and down and use screws to hold them in place. It worked like a charm and the “trumpet” vine or cross vine, as it’s called, looks great and is now beginning to cover the trellis.
The concept or principle that I have just shared may sound too simple, but believe me, when properly understood, it is powerful. Our marvelous mind has the power to help us achieve or have most anything we desire. The key is to see the goal or object in our mind – to not only see it, but also experience the feeling we will have when we achieve it. Should you want a new home, see that home in vivid and complete detail, and also how you will feel living in it. The same is true for any other tangible object or thing you desire, but once you see it clearly, and it’s within the realm of possibility, then we must follow through and make it come true.
The French Philosopher Blaise Paschal had this to say about the mind, “Our mind holds the same position in the world of thought as our body occupies in the expanse of nature.” Whatever we want, we must first see it, in our mind’s eye.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 770 - SENIOR CITIZENS SHOULD BE IN PRISON

No. 770

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

SENIOR CITIZENS SHOULD BE IN PRISON

The famous American Humorist Mark Twain once said, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.” However, very few members of Congress ever wind up in prison, because their fellow members, who are also long-time friends, are on the jury.
The other day I got a very thought-provoking article from a friend over in West Virginia. It advanced the theory that we should put seniors in jail and criminals in a nursing home. The article begins, “This way seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks, they’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheelchairs, etc., and they would also receive money instead of paying it out.
“They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell or needed assistance. Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cells. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education. Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, pajamas and legal aid would be free, on request.
“Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise yard, with gardens. Each senior could have a P.C. a TV, radio, and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.
Now switch gears here because the ‘criminals,’ also known as patients, would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised, lights off at 8 p.m., and showers once a week. They would live in a tiny room and pay $5,000 per month and have no hope of ever getting out. It may be a hard life, but at least it would be justice for all.”
As I read this, several thoughts came to mind that I would like to pass along to you, with the hopes that a lot of people’s lives, especially seniors, could be made better. While I may be naïve, it is hard for me to believe the last part -- about the “criminals” getting cold food, left all alone and unsupervised, lights off at 8 p.m. and showers once a week -- is true. While this may be true in a few isolated cases, most nursing homes that I know anything about do a pretty good job. I can buy that part about living in a tiny room, paying $5,000 a month and no hope of ever getting out. To be sure, there are multiple cases of injustice in both of these institutions -- prisons and nursing homes. In fact, many books have been written about each one.
When you contrast the benefits and the hardships of each one, there is one simple element that makes all the difference. It’s a little simple word called freedom. The people in nursing homes all across America, and granted there are some limitations, do have freedoms that inmates in our nation’s prisons do not have. I don’t know anyone in a nursing home, in their right mind, who would trade places with any inmate in any prison for any length of time.
Regardless of how you slice it, freedom is one of the most precious gifts we have. Our freedom was won at a terribly high price. Just visit a veterans’ cemetery and you will have a better understanding of what I am saying. Many young people in our country do not really understand the cost of freedom, because they were not around when it was won and preserved. Personally, I believe there is a great threat to our freedom in America today. We must all be vigilante.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 771 - WHO WILL SPEAK FOR YOU?

No. 771

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHO WILL SPEAK FOR YOU?

As we consider the future of our nation and the direction we seem to be heading, will there come a time when you need to speak out? This is a question that came to mind after I received a nice letter and an article from a lady reader who lives in Kansas.
This reader, Ann Heckenlively, reads my column in the Dodge City Daily Globe. What she sent was an article reprint titled, “Anti-apathy essay courtesy of Hitler foe,” printed by Mike Rudden in his Wacky Questions column. While it goes back quite a ways, this was an article about the way Jews were treated in Germany before World War II. The basic premise was that when the Germans closed the Jewish stores, most of the German people just ignored it because it did not affect them. Basically, it was about apathy and how you have to get involved if you see something wrong.
The following essay, written by the Rev. Martin Niemoller, a German Protestant minister and one of Hitler’s leading Christian opponents, tells a very compelling story. Here is one of several versions.
“First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a Communist; then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a Socialists; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew; then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
If you keep up with the news, then you already know what is happening in our country since President Obama took office and gave us change we could believe in. I am sure you know that I am not an activist, but rather just an American who loves his country and cherishes his freedom. History has a way of repeating itself, so let me give you another true example of why all of us need to speak out.
I have a friend, Juan Alonso, who lives in Lincoln, Neb., who is originally from Cuba, but fled this island nation in the wake of Fidel Castro’s takeover. Today Juan, who truly loves this country, is doing everything he can to warn the American people of the same fate that awaits us, if we do not change course. Juan blames the Cuban press for the Communist takeover, because they were corrupt and did absolutely nothing to warn the Cuban people of what was going to happen to the country if nothing was done. The press failed to take action and allowed the Marxist/Communist people to take over the Cuban government and install a brutal, despotic, socialist economic and cultural way of life.
The press could have met with the then-head of government (President Batista) and his high ranking military members and work out a free presidential election, free of any intervention from Batista’s government. The press did not do that, and instead they sided with the July 26 revolutionary movement, headed by Fidel Castro. The lack of “cojones” by the Cuban members of the press for not doing their duties (jobs) resulted in 50-plus years of brutal oppression in which hundreds of Cubans died by assassination, torture, and drowning on the Caribbean waters as they tried to escape from such horrible conditions.
Juan concludes by saying, “I witnessed all the above until they came for me. I had to escape, like millions of others, from Castro’s Free Cuba. I held the majority of the Cuban press responsible for not acting in behalf of the Cuban people when they had their opportunities to save Cuba from Marxist/Communist dictatorship.”
My question: Who will speak for you and me?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 772 - THE RENEWAL RANCH

No. 772

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE RENEWAL RANCH

There is a faith-based ministry starting here in our community that will have a lasting impact on countless lives for decades, even centuries, to come. It’s called The Renewal Ranch, and the basic mission is to restore and renew broken lives that have been all but destroyed by chemical addiction.
When you look around, there are few families in our nation who have not been impacted to one degree or another by addiction to drugs and alcohol. You know them and I know them and, to be sure, they all need help to escape the vicious cycle they have fallen into, often without hope. Now, thanks to many people in our community who care, many of them will have hope, not only for now but also for eternity.
One thing I have noted from the people involved who give their money and time is that they have a compelling reason to make a difference, because their lives or the lives of immediate family members have been impacted in a negative way. While I have extended family members who have been addicted, I am thankful that none of my immediate family has had to wrestle with the demons that completely take over the lives of millions of people in our nation. One thing I have observed is that most of the secular treatment programs do not work for a number of reasons.
First, the cost is beyond most addicted people’s ability to pay and also the fact they can’t stay in these programs long enough to not only break the cycle of addiction, but also to get a job and re-enter society.
Several years ago a lady came to me and asked if I would drive her husband to a state alcohol treatment program south of Little Rock. She needed help, so I did my best to help her. Her husband stayed for several weeks and then came back home. Sadly, in a few short weeks he was right back where he was before he entered the program. The thing that will set The Renewal Ranch program apart from these type programs is that they are faith based, and those who are accepted can stay long enough, with God’s help, to win the battle.
They will also get a job and have a gainful means of employment to provide for their needs. However, the thing that really sets this program apart is that it is based on change that comes into an addicted person’s life, when they come to know and serve the Lord. In II Corinthians 5:17 it says, “If any man be in Christ, he has become a new creature, behold all things have become new and old things have passed away.” You may doubt the validity of what I am saying, but I have seen it many times with my own eyes. You may rest assured that family members are glad to have addicted fathers, husbands and sons, back renewed and restored.
Thus, The Renewal Ranch, which is located on 94 acres of land in Perry County, just a few miles west of Conway. The plan is to have these men, six to begin with, be active in the community by providing community service, growing much of their own food and spending some of each day having devotional time and Bible study. This program, which has worked in other communities, is receiving tremendous help and support for local churches. It should be noted that Home Depot Foundation gave The Renewal Ranch a $20,000 gift to help with the building of the first bunkhouse.
James Loy, who is the director along with his wife Laura, is a former cocaine addict. He found help in a similar program and has a deep desire to give back. For more information, or to contribute to The Renewal Ranch, visit their web site at www.therenewalranch.org.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 773 - HOW THE WORLD EATS EACH WEEK

No. 773

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW THE WORLD EATS EACH WEEK!

One of the greatest blessings of my life is to be married to a woman who is an excellent cook. In my case, I have never taken the time to figure it out, but most of us spend a good deal of our time each day, week, month and year eating, or as we say, feeding our face. We have excellent, well balanced and nutritious meals here at our home. Viola, who has had Parkinson’s for 13 years, still does a great job in the kitchen, and even goes to the store and purchases our food a good deal of the time. Neither of us is grossly overweight because we exercise some, and that part about our meals being well balanced and nutritious is one of the key reasons. The last report I heard is that 25 percent of the American people are obese. Now, that’s really sad when you think about it.
Even with the downturn in our nation’s economy and several million people being out of work, we are still a very prosperous people. However, I am not sure how long our nation’s credit card will be honored, which is really something to think about. There are pockets of poverty right here in our country where people still go to bed hungry each night, especially children. This is the backdrop for some ideas I want to share with you regarding a most interesting article a friend sent me the other day. The article consisted of some excerpts from a book titled, “Hungry Planet: What the world eats.”
In this book, the authors had researched 30 different families from 24 countries and came up with some most interesting parallels and contrasts, showing a photograph of each family and the amount of food they consumed each week. It was most interesting to see the Melander Family from Germany, with four members, standing before what looked to be a mountain of food that represented $500.07 in American dollars. Of course you understand the food in one nation is much different than the food in another. Ever go to a Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Japanese or Polish restaurant in your community?
While I can’t show you the photographs here, visualize each family and the number of family members, with a stack or pile of food they have to eat for the whole week, as given in American dollars, which helps to have perspective.
After Germany, that I gave earlier, we have the Revis Family, four members, from North Carolina. They were spending on the average $341.98, with this footnote: Sure hope most American families eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food than this family. Next is the Manzo family of Sicily with five family members, who spend an average of $260.11 each week. A sidebar: these photos do not tell the whole story, since there is no way to know the calories and nutritional value of each item.
Next is the Casales family from Mexico, with five family members and they spend, on average, $189.09 each week. This family is followed by the Sobczynscy family from Poland, with five family members who spend $151.21. Then there is the Ahmed family from Egypt, with 10 family members who spend $68.53 per week. Next is the Ayme family from Ecuador, with nine family members who spend $31.55, then we have the Namgay family from Bhutan, with 12 family members who spend $5.03 and lastly, the Aboubakar family from Chad, with five family members, who spend $1.23.
Hopefully, this has been of interest. It was to me as it shows how really blessed we are, but it’s vital that we reduce obesity.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 774 - EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING !

No. 774

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING!

Several years ago I had a friend by the name of George Fisher, who was the political cartoonist for our statewide newspaper. While George is no longer with us, most of the time we did not agree politically, but he was a fine man and tremendously talented. He had married a woman from over in the country of England and he always placed her name “Snooky” somewhere in his cartoons. Most everyone who saw his cartoons spent at least some time trying to find her name. This has just been an aside, but it’s amazing how the mind works when you begin to use it. I was thinking about my topic today and something George said to me years ago popped into my mind, “It’s not the gale, but the set of the sail, that determines the way I shall go.”
I have since learned that this was a quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, but it really personifies the mission I have had for the past decade to improve literacy in our nation. As time has passed it is tremendously humbling to see what God is doing to use our “Bookcase for Every Child” project more and more to bring literacy to the front burner. Every once in a while, something comes along to reinforce the mission we have been on. Sometime back I spoke to the Stuttgart (Arkansas) Lions Club. and Bill Schrum, a reporter, for the Stuttgart Daily Leader, wrote an article about my talk. He gave some statistics that I had never seen before, quoting the Right to Read Foundation and the National Institute for Literacy.
Here are some statistics that should cause you to get on the band wagon if you are not already there. First, from the Right to Read Foundation: Forty-two million American adults can’t read at all. Fifty million American adults are unable to read at a higher level than is expected of a fourth or fifth grader. The number of adults who are functionally illiterate increases by 2.25 million each year. Twenty percent of high school seniors can be classified as functionally illiterate at the time they graduate.
Now, from the National Institute for Literacy (this will help you see what it is costing each of us): Seventy percent of prisoners in state and federal systems can be classified as illiterate. Eighty-five percent of all juvenile offenders rate as functionally or marginally illiterate. Forty-three percent of those whose literacy skills are the lowest live in poverty.
My theme from the very beginning has been “Everyone Can Do Something.” Just by getting everyone who reads this column involved will go a long way. While I have no way of knowing who is reading my column each week, the feedback I receive here in my own community tells me there are thousands of people who are faithful readers. Back before the down turn in our economy, and a lot more papers were carrying it, we did a little survey and found the readership may be close to a million readers each week. If you read my column, here is what I would like to ask you to do … do something to help improve literacy rates in America.
First, get involved with your own children and grandchildren. Let them see you reading and have books available in your home. Go to your local schools and read to children. Give books as birthday and Christmas gifts. Support your local library and go there often. Help start a “Bookcase for Every Child” project in your community. We are all volunteers and use no tax money or grants of any kind, which is really a novel idea in today’s economy. Everything you would need is on our Web site: www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. Thanks for reading.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 775 - PEOPLE WILL LET YOU DOWN!

No. 775

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

PEOPLE WILL LET YOU DOWN!

The famous cowboy humorist Will Rogers once said, “It’s just as important to be reminded as it is to be educated.” What I am going to share today is a subject that most of us already know, but one where we could all stand a little reminding.
Over the past several months, we have had a good number of high-profile sports celebrities fall from grace, because of sexual sins. While we certainly should not, we have come to expect that from politicians, but when it happens to a much revered sports figure the American people literally idolize, it hurts and is very disappointing. It hurts because millions of our children look up to these people.
When I mentioned writing this column to a friend he said, “Are you going to call names?” I said “No” for two reasons – first, most people who care and are affected already know who they are, and second, out of respect for their families. To me, the families are the real victims. In most cases, the wife and children of the male sports celebrity who falls from grace had nothing whatsoever to do with their demise. Now, I know that is painting with a pretty broad brush, but that is really not the point I want to get across here. Millions of us put these people up on a pedestal because of their great talent and athletic skills and not because of their personal character and integrity.
We need to hold those in the limelight to a higher standard because they are role models, whether they like it or not. However, we the American people need to keep things in perspective. These people are human, too, just like the rest of us and we need to be reminded that “Ppeople will let you down.”
While not in the sports realm, I am reminded of the story of the minister who requested that his elders be his pallbearers. When asked why, he said, “Because I want them to let me down one more time.” Again, a simple heartfelt reminder that when any person that you love, admire, respect and even idolize lets you down, just remember that they are human, too, and frail, emotionally and spiritually needy human beings will often let us down.
There is only one person in this world that has never let me down, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. I have let Him down many times, but He has never let me down. The Bible says that “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.” Note that it does not say “some” have sinned, but “all” have sinned and fallen short of His Glory. When it comes to sports celebrities and winning, many people do not care about character and integrity, because they just want to win, or see their hero win, especially if they are a gambler. Again, what kind of message does this send to our young people? It’s a question only you can answer.
While this is personal, I can tell you that for most of my life I was just a church member and not really a born-again Christian, and Satan sifted me like wheat. However, when I accepted the Lord in 1984, I started a practice of reading the entire Bible through once a year. Just recently I finished my 25th time all the way through, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, and what a journey this has been. During my early morning devotionals and all these years of praying and reading the Bible, I came to understand the real meaning of a special verse in Psalms 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Not everyone will accept and believe what I have said here and that is not really my purpose. I just want to remind you that often the people you love the most, will let you down.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 776 - MOMMY, PLEASE READ TO ME !

No. 776

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

MOMMY, PLEASE READ TO ME!

“Mommy, please read to me,” is a plea that has been spoken by millions of children over the years. Blessed indeed is the child who has a reading mother, father, grandparent, sibling or others who will take time to read to them, especially before they are 3 years of age.
While this is not something that is discussed at most dinner tables, the simple act of reading to a very young child will determine to a large degree, what the child becomes later in life. As you may know, we have a bookcase project here in our community to help children in low-income families learn to read and to encourage lifelong reading habits. Many of the children we are helping are African-American children, and we have a passion to help them, especially in light of a very tragic report on NBC News.
Only 47 percent of African-American males graduate from high school. No need to discuss what this means to the individual who drops out of school, and to all the rest of us in society. In a recent article in The New York Times, the question was asked, “Why do low-income/minority kids do so poorly in school?” Only time will tell if we are able to do anything about this problem, but fortunately the answer is known.
In 1985, Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, child psychologists at the University of Kansas, published the results of an intensive research project on language acquisition. They recruited 42 families with newborn children in Kansas City, and for the following three years they visited each family once a month, recording absolutely everything that occurred between the child and the parent or parents.
The researchers then transcribed each encounter and analyzed each child’s language development and each parent’s communication style. Here is where it gets interesting: Hart and Risley found that vocabulary growth differed sharply by class, and the gap between the classes opened early. By age 3, children whose parents were professionals had vocabularies of about 1,100 words, and children whose parents where on Welfare had vocabularies of about 525 words. The children’s I.Q.s correlated closely with their vocabularies. The average I.Q. among the professional children was 117, and the Welfare children had an average I.Q. of 79.
To understand this data, here is a point that must be noted. The size of each child’s vocabulary correlated most closely to one simple factor: the number of words the parent spoke to the child. This is why reading to very small children can make all the difference in the world. Also, the kinds of words and statements that children heard were characterized by class. The most basic difference was the number of “Discouragements” (prohibitions and words of disapproval) a child heard compared to the number of “Encouragements” or words of praise and approval. By age 3, the average child of a professional heard about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. For the Welfare children, the situation was reversed: they heard on average about 75,000 encouragements and 200,000 discouragements.
In the final analysis, the researchers concluded that while wealth does matter, child-rearing style matters more.
Dr. Greg Murry, superintendent of the Conway School District, shared this important information: Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. It’s true: Those who love to read most often succeed in life.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 783 - SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

No. 783

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

For many years there was a wonderful gentleman on PBS by the name of Fred Rogers, and the name of his program was “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” He entertained several generations of children with wholesome values that many of us miss today. His trademark was that he always wore a cardigan sweater. While he has been dead for several years now, you or some of your children or grandchildren may have been fans of his. He was a wonderful role model for America’s children.

Here is a little background information on Fred Rogers, because it is most interesting. He was born and grew up in Latrobe, Pa., but the media market where he became famous was nearby Pittsburg. As a side note, there is another famous American who was also born and reared in Latrobe. Do you know who it was? If you said golfing legend Arnold Palmer, you would be right.

But, back to Fred Rogers and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the legacy he has left us. I guess, quite naturally, because of his target audience, and PBS is not one of our most watched networks, his popularity has waned. As Tom Dvorak, director of broadcasting for WMVS-TV, a public television station in Milwaukee has said, “Kids today just don’t know him.” However, he will never be forgotten in the Pittsburg area. In October 2010, a 10-foot $3 million statue of Mr. Rogers tying his sneakers was unveiled along the city’s riverfront with great fanfare.

The reason I am sharing this information with you is because I got an e-mail sometime back about Fred Rogers that contained some very untrue things about him. The e-mail stated that he was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat-proven veteran of the Vietnam War and had 25 confirmed kills to his name. He was a master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat.

The myth continues that after the war Mr. Rogers became an ordained Presbyterian minister, and therefore a pacifist. Vowing to never harm another human being he also dedicated the rest of his life to trying to help lead children on the right path in life. This e-mail also stated the reason he always wore a cardigan sweater was to cover up the many tattoos on his forearms and biceps from his past life. He did not wish to set a poor example for the millions of children who watched his program for more than three decades.

It’s right here that I would like to set the record straight. After the original column ran in our local paper, which included the myth, I got an e-mail from a lady associated with PBS and she told me that Fred Rogers was never in the military service and did not have tattoos on any part of his body. My question was, “Why would anyone distort the legacy, of a fine human being, by making up things that are just not true.” Well, there you have it. In memory of Fred Rogers, I have done my best to set the record straight.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 784 - HOW MUCH IS A TRILLION?

No. 784

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW MUCH IS A TRILLION?

Back in the days when there were still a few statesmen in Congress, we had a senator from the great state of Illinois by the name of Everett McKinley Dirksen (Jan. 4, 1896, to Sept.7, 1969). He served in the House from 1933 to 1949 and in the Senate from 1951 to 1969. There is a famous quote attributed to him, that apparently he never made, that goes, “A billion here and a billion there, and first thing you know you are talking about some real money.” Regardless of whether he ever said that or not, it has stuck with him all these years and it certainly should give us pause, for his use of the word billion.
Personally, I wish he was still around to hear the word “trillion” banded about almost like the term “billion” was in his day. I am so old that I can remember back in the days when a man in our town was reported to be a millionaire, and I was impressed. Today we have almost dropped that word from our vocabulary.
Now, back to the word “trillion.” Have you ever thought about, in terms of money, how much a trillion dollars really is? I have a good example that will give all of us some perspective that I will share before I reach the end of this column, but I have another example that will make you dizzy, if you watch it or dwell on it too long.
If you have not already seen it, there is a web site on the Internet: www.usdebtclock.org that will be an eye-opening experience. I must warn you, if you are afraid of heights and have a tendency to have dizzy spells, don’t stay too long. The numbers are going by so fast that it impossible to give any definite figures, because by the time of this writing and the time it actually runs in the paper, the figures will be off by a country mile.
There are a number of different categories but here are a few to give you an idea of what I am saying. To begin, the U.S. National Debt is more than $13 trillion and counting. Debt per citizen – more than $44,000 and counting. Debt per taxpayer – more than $125,000 and counting. U.S. Federal Spending – more than $3 trillion and counting. U.S. Federal Budget Deficit – more than $1.5 trillion and counting. And here is one that is probably the most asinine of all: Interest in the National Debt – more than $3 trillion dollars per year. That is money we give to someone else without getting anything in return.
Back to my earlier question: how much is a trillion? Well, it’s the number 1 followed by 12 zeroes. It’s written like this: 1,000,000,000,000, and our government has spent over 13 of those more than it’s taken in from all sources.
Since we are talking about some real money here, let me share something that was handed out at a meeting I attended the other day that really got me to thinking. Hopefully, it will cause you to think about it as well. As a nation, our elected officials must get this under control because our economic future truly hangs in the balance. The brief article I received had this heading: What’s the difference between a million, a billion and a trillion? Well, a million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is 31 years. A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.
Here I feel it necessary to give a brief disclaimer. I did not check these figures. My calculator does not go that high anyway. I just have to trust they are accurate. I do believe, however, the U.S. Debt Clock is right. Granted I am old fashioned, but when you have dug a hole for yourself, it’s time to stop digging.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 785 - BUILDING LEADERS FOR TOMORROW

No. 785

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BUILDING LEADERS FOR TOMORROW!

While it is not original with me, there is a saying that goes, “Show me the homes of a nation and I will show you what kind of nation you have.” It is in the home that love is fostered, character is taught and the direction for young lives is given.
I found a beautiful example of this in the lives of a couple by the name of Don and Anne Dierks, who live in Hot Springs Village, Ark. Anne is the author of a fantastic book titled “Granny Camp: How to Bond With Your Grandchildren.” Sometime back she sent me a copy in the mail. I was really impressed with her book. It has dozens of full-color photographs and the graphics and design just makes it truly a work of art, and that is just for starters. The content really makes it special.
The large color photo on the front cover says it all. This photo has seven of Don and Anne’s grandchildren, all girls, facing a large American flag with hands over their hearts saying the “Pledge of Allegiance.” This photo sets the tone, but this book is all about a Granny Camp that they hold each year for their 14 grandchildren, and have done so for more than a decade. While Don helps with the camp each year, the real genius of this truly unique camp is Anne, mother of four, and as previously noted, 14 grandchildren -- four boys and 10 girls.
While Anne has had no formal training as a teacher, nurse, art instructor, song director, coach or cook, she does them all because she has a heart’s desire to find a way to know her grandchildren through good clean fun and old-fashioned activities. She believes LOVE is the key to the success of this endeavor, and she wants other grandparents to pass their love to their grandchildren with the best adventure of their lives. This book is complete down to the last detail, including “How to Read This Book,” “What Is Granny Camp And Why Have It?”, “Who Can Come to Granny Camp?”, “What Are the Rules at Granny Camp?”, “What Do Campers Eat at Granny Camp?”, and “What Are Granny’s Helpful Hints?”
In the book you will find planning tips such as setting the date, distance and travel time, planning crafts, planning activities, making Granny Camp T-shirts, meal planning, and field trips, along with items to bring for the week of camp. She also talks about parents, telephone calls, clothes rules, sleeping rules, bathroom rules and computer rules, and then the Granny Story: Four Square Rule. And that is just for starters. In more than ten years of holding “Granny Camp” she has seen, been confronted with, or done it all, and she is willing to share it.
Of course, there is no way I can tell you everything that is in this fantastic book, but I will sum it up by saying that Anne and Don are using this quality time as a way to get to know and bond with their grandchildren, and to make a difference in the lives and their futures. As I said earlier, the key to success here is love.
There are a number of articles and columns that have already been written about Granny Camp, and they are all good, but I have a little different perspective. I see her Granny Camp, and hopefully others it will inspire, as a way to build leaders for tomorrow. If we want our children and grandchildren to have Godly values, character, integrity, and become great people, we have to teach them. To me, that is what Don and Anne are really doing.
You may order a copy of Granny Camp at www.grannycamp.com. The cost is $19.95 plus S&H, and worth it many times over.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 786 - AN EAR-SPLITTING SUCKING SOUND!

No. 786

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AN EAR-SPLITTING SUCKING SOUND!

If you have been hearing an ear-splitting sucking sound over the past few years, it could well be the federal government siphoning off the wealth of private citizens and businesses to support a vast and growing leisure class of federal employees whose only concern, it seems, is to further augment their perks and privileges at taxpayer expense.
USA Today reports that “At a time when worker’s pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employee’s average compensation has grown to double what private sector workers earn.” While many of our citizens would lay this problem at the feet of the current administration, this problem did not start here.
According to the government’s own figures, as published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, federal employees now average $123,049 in pay and benefits, private-sector employees make $61,998. That’s a pay gap of $61,415 since the year 2000.
What we have here is a classic case of too many people riding in the wagon and too few pulling it. We have all heard this before, but this is truly a case of “Killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.” It is my privilege to explain why this is happening and the best course of future action. As someone famous has said, “Let me be clear” -- I do not fault federal employees for this sad state of affairs.
When any person is working and doing what they think is a good job, they don’t turn down raises and perks. That is just human nature. As human beings, we are constituted in a way that makes us rationalize and justify where we are. “Hey, I am working hard, I deserve it and I have earned it,” is the attitude of most working people. The real villains here are members of Congress and the President who set policy and make the rules.
In principle, it works the same way in the private sector. Who determines who is going to give you a raise? In most cases it’s the consumer or the one buying products and services that make raises possible, and ultimately they must come from profits. Again, because of human nature, it would be nice if we could just give ourselves a raise any time we wanted one. In a very real sense, this is what our politicians have been doing for a long time.
But back to the issue at hand, why federal employees are making off like bandits with too much taxpayer money. Of course, the bottom line is “greed,” and Congress and the President (whoever may be in office) are taking advantage of their position as caretakers of the public treasury. To have a healthy economy where raises are possible for all working people, it is necessary to have balance between the private and public sectors. Private sector jobs are those that provide a useful product or service and continue year after year, so long as they remain competitive and stay in business. Here is the real issue that is important to understand. These jobs are not funded by taxpayers and are the back bone of the American free enterprise system.
Millions of American jobs have gone overseas because of government policy and regulations, and this results in high unemployment. Those jobs are in the private sector, because federal government jobs are doing quite well, thank you, especially in our nation’s capital.
What is the answer? Well, a good place to start would be for our president to fire all those Czars and at least half of his cabinet members, and replace them with people with business experience who have actually met a payroll.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 787 - THE LEGACY OF RAUNCHOUS RED!

No. 787

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LEGACY OF RAUNCHOUS RED!

If you grew up or ever spent any time on a farm, and have been around chickens and livestock, you will appreciate an earthy story I heard some time back.
One day this country woman was on her way to the henhouse to get some eggs and, about half way across the barnyard, she looked down and saw an orphan egg laying on the ground out there by itself. She reached down, picked up this orphan egg, put it in her apron pocket and went on in the henhouse to get the eggs. As she worked her way down the row of nest boxes, she got to thinking about this orphan egg, and decided she would place it under a setting hen, let her hatch it to see what she had there. Well, none of her hens would take it. Every time she would put it under a setting hen, they would kick it out.
Then she remembered a woman across the road who had an old blind hen, so she got in her pickup and went over there. They took this egg and placed it under this old blind hen. This old blind hen set it, and hatched it, and out came the prettiest little yellow rooster you ever did see. Over time this little rooster grew, prospered and did well -- and grew up to be the meanest, most hateful and fighting red rooster you ever saw. This rooster whipped everything on the farm. It whipped the dog, the cat, a coon, a possum, an armadillo, and anything else that came along. If it walked on all fours, this red rooster would take to, whatever it was, and whip it.
Even the farm bull came in to the barnyard with the milk cow one day, and red attacked this bull and put him back in the pasture. He was a fighting rooster. Because of his nature and penchant for fighting they nicknamed him – Raunchous Red. One day Red was parading around the barnyard in the bright sunlight, and a hawk began to circle in the sky. People who are raised on a farm know what a hawk will do to a chicken. This hawk made a dive, as only a hawk can do, and Red was not expecting any air attack. This hawk came down, hit Red in the center of his back and knocked him unconscious. Shortly, this hawk flew back down, picked Red up with those big talon feet and flew across a field and a little stream of water, and lit to eat him.
Well, a man was standing on his back porch nearby and saw what happened. He said he was not sure if it was the fresh air or the altitude, or what it was, but Red came to in flight. He went on to say that what followed was the longest, bloodiest and worst bird fight this county had ever seen. Red and this hawk fought for more than 35 minutes in this open field, and when they finished there was not a bush, a rock, a blade of grass or a stick in a radius of 35 feet that was not covered with blood, feathers and corruption. He said Red whipped this hawk worse than any living thing has ever been whipped. He went on to say that Red not only whipped this hawk, but he made this hawk fly him back over there to the barnyard. In the coming years local people talked about Red so much he would become a legend in this part of the country.
I hope you at least cracked a smile, because this was another one of those stories, told by the late Bob Murphy. The reason I have shared it is because we all need a break from time to time when we can regain our perspective and recharge our batteries. What is important here is that we should always take what we do seriously, but not take ourselves too seriously.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 788 - HAVE YOU HEARD OF FLOCABULARY?

No. 788

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HAVE YOU HEARD OF FLOCABULARY?

We have a routine here at our home each week that has gone on, week after week, for the past several years. This routine is set in motion when Viola says, “It’s blue barrel day” or “It’s green barrel day.” This tells me that it’s time for me to roll one of our two trash barrel containers out to the curb for a sanitation department truck to pick up and haul to the city landfill.
We have a great recycling program here in our community, and the blue barrel is used to place those items like cardboard, paper, plastic, newsprint and other items that can be recycled, and this also prolongs the life of our landfill for several years. The green barrel gets all the other household trash. It is hard to believe how much trash you can accumulate in just one week.
I have used this example to tell you about another kind of trash that may make its way to your public schools, if more of us don’t speak out or speak up. When I say public schools that means tax dollars are being spent and this means me, and I am sure you, too. The trash I am talking about is called “Flocabulary” and apparently is being used by many school districts around the country. Thanks to a thoughtful reader, the school district that has been using it that I heard about is in Oklahoma City, Okla. However, someone has pushed the “pause” button and I am not sure where it is at the time of this writing.
The program known as Flocabulary is a music-based educational tool that uses raps, rhythms and rhymes to help students learn and memorize everything from vocabulary and English to math and social studies. Sounds innocent enough, right? Let’s take a little closer look. One of the rap songs – “Old Dead White Men” chronicles the shortcomings of the early leaders of the United States. As a patriotic, taxpaying American, what if someone flung the following lyrics on you, “White men getting richer than Enron. They stepping on Indians, women and blacks. Era of Good Feeling doesn’t come with the facts.” Now that little ditty supposedly described the presidential term of James Monroe.
Here is another one that beats up on the term of President Andrew Jackson. “Andrew Jackson thinks he’s a tough guy. Killing more Indians than there are stars in the sky. Evil wars of Florida killing the Seminoles. Saying hello, putting Creek in the hell holes. Like Adolph Hitler he had the final solution. ‘No Indians, I don’t want you to live here anymore’.” Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think about our nation’s forefathers and especially the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence who pledged “their fortunes, their lives and their sacred honor” for the cause of freedom, I am a little bit perturbed.
Flocabulary CEO and co-founder Alex Rappaport said the lyrics are made intentionally provocative and sometimes humorous to create student engagement among some of the toughest-to-reach students in the nation. My question is simply this: What do these students have when you reach them with trash like this?
Up to this point the Oklahoma City School District has spent about $10,000 on materials and the school board has authorized up to $97,000 in federal funds on the program. I have a good suggestion. They should dock the pay, each week for the next several years, of the Federal Coordinator who recommended this program until she pays it all back.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 789 - MAKING A CASE FOR SOLAR ENERGY

No. 789

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

MAKING THE CASE FOR SOLAR ENERGY

Sometime back I got an e-mail from Tom Rooney, president and CEO of SPG Solar of Novato, Calif., one of the largest solar energy firms in the country. He was making a strong case for solar energy and, after reading what he had to say, I believe he has something that every American at least needs to know about, since energy is such a large part of every families’ budget.
This should certainly be of interest if you live in area of the country that has abundant sunshine 12 months of the year, as we do here in Arkansas. While this is not a topic that I know much about, I am happy to pass along anything that may serve to lessen our personal and collective dependence on foreign oil.
Tom begins his correspondence by saying, “Everybody talks about carbon footprints. Turns out the water footprint from energy is just as important, if not more so. Here’s why: It takes an enormous amount of water to generate electricity. And it takes an enormous amount of electricity to move water. (This is especially true for areas where you don’t have a free-flowing stream where you can build a power plant). Here is an example: One 60-watt light bulb burning 12 hours a day will consume at the power plant 3, 000 to 6,000 gallons in a year. A laptop computer uses 200 gallons in a year.
“We all know that in the Western part of our country, water is at a premium. In Arizona, multiply those numbers by 7. If you get your electricity from hydropower, multiply by 18. That’s a lot of water for not much light. That is how water and energy is connected, but no one is talking about it. We are wasting a lot of water and power because we ignore this connection. Another example: In the California and Nevada desert, several large solar thermal power plants are being built. These plants require a great deal of water. But, in the desert? Here is the bottom line: There are only two types of power that do not require massive amounts of water: Wind and photovoltaic solar – the kind found on rooftops at homes, schools, wineries, army bases, etc.”
Tom goes on to tell me about a great solar project in the Irvine Unified School District, where the district has partnered with Sun Edison and SPG Solar to install solar energy at each of its 21 campuses. Purported to be the largest solar development for a public school system in California, and possibly the United States, the project will reduce Irvine’s school power bill by 20 percent – a savings of $17 million over 20 years. Sun Edison will own, operate and maintain the solar photovoltaic systems, with the district purchasing energy at a discounted rate. The solar companies will act as utilities, building and financing the system with no money from the district. This is a good example where a public school and private companies can work together and save taxpayers some money.
Again, our nation’s energy supply is not a topic that I am qualified to delve into but I belong to the school of thought that we need all forms of energy to help us reduce our dependency on foreign oil. We have had technology for many years that will help do this, if we can throttle the major oil companies and their lobbyists to open markets where everyone has a level playing field. When you get ready to build a home, business or other structure, why not consider solar. It could save you some money.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 790 - A LIFE OF SELF-ASSURED HUMILITY!

No. 790

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A LIFE OF SELF-ASSURED HUMILITY!

It has been said that a human being can be Eminent without being Competent. A good case in point would be the man or woman who earns a doctorate in nuclear physics and then takes a job as a day laborer or a waitress. Not to say there is anything wrong with being a day laborer or a waitress, but it does not require all that education to qualify for these jobs and to become a good and valued employee.
But there is more to this story. A human being can also be Competent without being Effective, which should be the goal of every person. If you would like to be more Effective, I have a suggestion for you: buy a copy of Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and read it and then read it again.
This father of nine has a Harvard MBA and a doctorate from Brigham Young University where he is an adjunct professor at the Marriott School of Management. He is sought after internationally as a speaker and author on leadership, personal effectiveness and change, family, and interpersonal relationships. Dr. Covey is married to Sandra and they live in Provo, Utah. His book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has been a No. 1 National Bestseller, and for good reason. It is a great book and Dr. Covey has the ability to take complicated topics and concepts and make them very simple. He uses all manner of personal experiences, statistics, charts, graphs and true life stories to make the book come alive for any serious student who wants to better himself by becoming more effective.
The 7 Habits are: 1. Be Proactive. 2. Begin with the End in Mind. 3. Put First Things First. 4. Think Win/Win. 5. Seek First to Understand …Then to Be Understood. 6. Synergize. 7. Sharpen the Saw.
From the beginning, he embarks on a course to explain in great detail how each of these habits impacts our lives and how making them a part of our subconscious thinking can literally change the paradigms that govern the activity that fills our days. I loved them all, but the habit that impacted me most was No. 2, Begin With the End in Mind. In this chapter he talks about where our personal self-worth and value comes from, and the various areas or centers of our lives that we “hang our hat on” for emotional support and well being.
If you have never thought about it, ask yourself if your self-worth and value is tied to one or more of the following centers: spouse centeredness, family centeredness, money centeredness, work centeredness, possession centeredness, pleasure centeredness, friend/enemy centeredness, and church centeredness. He explains the emotional danger of linking our own self-worth and value as a person to any of these areas. We are emotional beings and our opinion of ourselves tends to rise or fall with each problem or challenge that comes along. In other words, when they fall apart, we do, too.
Dr. Covey says the best way to live is as a principle-centered person. When we base our lives and our value and self-worth on principles, not emotion, we are free to rationally make the appropriate decisions at the right time for the benefit of all. After reading his book, I have concluded that I would like to live a life of self-assumed humility. This is to say that I know who I am, what I believe, where I am going and to always be humble, because I know that countless others have helped me along the way, and I am very grateful.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 791 - OUR KIDS ARE IN A WAR!

No. 791

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

OUR KIDS ARE IN A WAR!

It may have started out as a minor skirmish, but today the Kids of America are in a real war. They are in a war between the forces of good and evil, and millions of them are losing their lives, and their souls, to an enemy more cunning and deceptive than they have ever faced before.
Thousands of our children and young people lose their lives each year to illegal drugs, suicide, crime, accidents caused by drunk drivers, and many other reasons due to poor choices. In many cases these choices were made because these children grew up in homes where they did not receive any spiritual or moral training. Their second-best line of defense was lost when the judges and the courts took God out of our schools and because of hypocrisy the church has lost a great deal of her influence. Today, millions of America’s youth do not attend church at all.
Of course, the best line of defense is for children to have Godly parents who teach by precept and example and prepare their children to live and compete in a world filled with unhealthy choices on every hand. Sometime back I received an opportunity to preview a book by Reba Bowman titled, “Battle Ready Moms Raising Battle Ready Kids.” Looking back I am so glad that I took advantage of the offer because, in the area of child rearing, it is the best book I have ever read. This book was written for mothers who have decided they are not going to sit back and hope it all works out. It’s for mothers who have the courage to strap on their boots and enter the battle. It’s for mothers who take their God-given responsibility as a parent seriously and refuse to relinquish their duty as watchman on the wall.
Reba Bowman is uniquely qualified to write this award-winning book. She grew up in a home with Godly parents and later became a coach, a professor and a college dean of women. She has dedicated her life to helping teenagers and young adults. She says, “As a coach, I have ridden thousands of miles with them, pushed them, fussed at them, encouraged them, and laughed with them. As a professor, I have challenged them, instructed them, and rejoiced with them. As a dean, I have prayed with them, cried with them, disciplined them, and eaten lots of pizza with them. It seemed as if time stood still for many years, because I was spending more time with young people than I did adults.”
One thing I really admired and appreciated about Reba’s writing is that because today’s kids, as the title suggests, are in a war, she uses a military analogy to make her points. The titles of the four parts of the book are Part One: My Mama Wears Combat Boots. Part Two: My Mama Ain’t Playing Games. Part Three: My Mama’s Standing Guard. Part Four: My Mama Is the Real Deal. After I finished reading this book I was convinced that every mother and grandmother in America would do well to read it, as it contains “live” ammunition that will strike a fatal blow to the enemy.
To return to my opening thought, our kids today are in a battle with the forces of evil on every hand. If you have children and grandchildren and are concerned about their future and the challenges they will face in the weeks, months and years to come, I encourage you to read this book. You will be glad you did. Again the title is “Battle Ready Moms Raising Battle Ready Kids.” ISBN 9781615796717.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 792 - MOST OF OUR PROBLEMS HAVE A SOLUTION

No. 792

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

MOST OF OUR PROBLEMS HAVE A SOLUTION

On the surface, it may appear that what I have to share with you today will not have any personal benefits for you. However, if you will think about the principle it involves, I believe you will agree that it does. The principle can be stated like this: The vast majority of the problems we face in life do have a solution, often a creative solution, if we will only do a little research and spend some quality time thinking about them.
Such was the case for businessman-developer, Tom Hastings, who lives in Hingham, Mass. Tom had just built a 45-unit condominium in his community and had donated $3 million in the form of state-of-the-art baseball and football fields with lighting, irrigation and scoreboard. He also gave $150,000 toward a new clubhouse and saved the town $1 million by remediating the construction site and cleaning up parts of the 500-acre Bare Cove Park that nearly encircled the development.
Tom Hastings appears to be a great citizen, but soon after he finished the project and the grass was planted on the ball fields, along came a large flock of Canada Geese. They took a real liking to his grass and also left behind pounds of droppings each day. At this point he vowed not to allow the geese to destroy his vision. However, he admitted that “Grass growth was hindered by the one-two punch of drought and geese.” After some research, he found a novel, safe, humane and effective way to get rid of the goose problem. His solution came in the form of large, two-dimensional, portable plastic coyote decoys. Coyotes are predators of Canada Geese, and placing decoys around the ball fields solved the problem. Hastings says, “Geese aren’t dumb. We have to move the replica coyotes regularly, so the birds don’t catch on.”
Experts say that geese problems can quickly get out of control. Adult geese weigh up to 14 pounds and each female can lay four to eight eggs per season. Droppings can be a source of disease. Geese are migratory birds and have become the most common waterfowl species in North America. When they find an area, close to water, where there are easy pickings, they just stay and don’t move on. Most of this information came from an article written by Stan Hurwitz and, after reading it, I went to the Internet and found that anyone can purchase these life-like “photo-realistic silhouettes” for about $30 each.
At this point I would like to add my own comments to supplement Stan’s article, as I had some first-hand experience with this problem a few years ago when I played in a golf tournament on a course a few miles south of where I live. This course was only a few miles from the Arkansas River and wild Canada Geese had literally taken over the course. On almost every hole when you hit a ball onto the green, you would find geese there or that they had been there, as evidenced by droppings all over the green. I just had a humorous thought. If someone would invent a golf ball that could navigate around goose droppings they could make a fortune. You do have to have a clear path to the hole to have any chance of making the putt.
But on a more serious note, at the time I thought about these coyote decoys as a deterrent but never took the time to contact the course owners. In the future, when you see a wild goose problem on a ball field or golf course, you might try or recommend some coyote decoys. As I said in the beginning, most every problem does have a solution.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 794 - A SHINING MOMENT FOR AMERICA

No. 794

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A SHINING MOMENT FOR AMERICA

On Oct. 12, 2010, “a shining moment for America” happened, but most of the world, including millions in our own country, never heard about it. This was the day the first of 33 Chilean miners trapped for 69 days, 2,100 feet below the earth’s surface, were pulled to the surface in a capsule as the world watched on live TV.
Over the course of the following day, all 33 miners were pulled to safety, one at a time, as this horrible ordeal came to a successful conclusion. However, during all of the non-stop coverage of the preparation and execution of the rescue, one critical fact was largely overlooked by the mainstream media. If it were not for the courageous Americans who came forward to offer their sweat and ingenuity, the world would not have witnessed a happy ending so many had prayed for.
Among the unsung heroes were two American drillers, Jeff Hart and Matt Staffel, who had been drilling water wells in Afghanistan to support U.S. troops stationed there. They joined other experienced drillers dispatched by the Layne Christensen Co. of Mission Woods, Kan., which had answered the call from Chile looking for drillers after it was confirmed the trapped miners were still alive. For his part, Jeff Hart from Colorado drilled for 33 straight days and was the first to reach the trapped miners. Hart said: “This is the most important thing I have ever done in my work, and probably the most important thing I will ever do.”
American ingenuity also provided the technology that made the rescue possible, again under-reported or not reported by the mainstream media. Clinton Cragg, a NASA engineer, was part of a four-man team NASA dispatched to Chile in late August after the Chilean government asked the space agency for assistance. They needed help in designing a device capable of bringing the trapped miners safely to the surface. Cragg provided the list of design elements to Chile. Most of them were incorporated into the final rescue capsule design. The rest is history. Had you heard about this? I sure hadn’t, until I read an article written by Joseph Klein.
Here is something else that was certainly not reported. When the miners were rescued – when they came up one-at-a-time in that rescue capsule – many were wearing a special yellow T-shirt. These had been created by the Chilean branch of the Campus Crusade for Christ. Emblazoned boldly across the front of the T-shirts were the words, in Spanish, “Thank you, Lord.” The miners themselves had requested these words. The shirts were made and sent down to them while they waited for rescue. But that is not all. A quotation on the back of the shirts was actually a scripture and began “porque en su mano estan.” It was Psalm 95:4 -- “In His hands are the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains are His also.” Now, that is pretty neat when you consider the circumstances.
Campus Crusade had also provided MP3 players with the audio version of the “Jesus” film to the trapped miners while they were still deep underground. They also received the Bible in audio format. Rev. Aldredo Cooper, the chaplain to the President of Chile, said of the rescued miners, “They’re all wanting to testify to the Lord Jesus Christ. All 33 of them are saying they found God in the mine.”
When you consider the probability of getting those 33 miners out alive, and the role our great nation played, it was certainly a shining moment for America.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 795 - THE CONCEPT OF CASH-CONTROLLED SPENDING!

No. 795

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE CONCEPT OF CASH-CONTROLLED SPENDING!

A few weeks ago I discovered, quite by chance, a dirty little secret about saving money. The secret is simply this (you will have to decide if you think it’s dirty or not): You don’t have to account for every penny but you do have to save. If you do this and do it well, you will have all the money you will ever need. If you don’t, you risk living hand-to-mouth for the rest of your days.
These words are found on the back cover of a fantastic little book titled, “Don’t Make a Budget.” The author of this book is Ken Robinson, a financial planner who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. After I finished reading his book, I dropped Ken an e-mail and he responded that he was pleased that I wanted to share some of his ideas with you.
Statistics tell us that most marriages fail because of money problems. And no wonder: the average person in our nation has over $15,000 in credit card debt. Being broke and never having any money creates a strain on even the best marriages. This affects most single people as well. Of course the only way to overcome this malady is to be able to save money, which is obviously something that many people are not able to do. To curb spending, many people make a budget to account for where all their money is going, and they honestly try to save money. More often than not, their money never consistently makes its way into a savings account.
Once we understand what we really should do to save money, we will realize that budgeting gets the process exactly backward. Most people have been taught to create a list of expenses and then decide where to cut back. Then we total up these cutbacks and decide how much we can save. But the key to saving is not to figure out where we can cut back but rather to make a decision about how much we are going to save. The decision about where to cut back will take care of itself. In his book, Ken talks about the concept of cash-controlled spending, which is something I have been doing for years without ever thinking about. Here is the simple concept that I have used, and if you need it, will work for you as well.
I have only one credit card that is used to validate business expenses for tax purposes, and do my best to maintain a zero balance each month. When I receive monthly income from our business and my Social Security check, I pay our bills, including regular savings, and then deposit a small amount in a personal checking account. When this deposit is made, I keep between $75 and $100 for my wallet to have for incidental spending. I try to make this small amount of cash go as far as it will. You know what happens when you break a $20 bill don’t you? It’s gone before you know it. With me, it’s almost a game to be able to go for two, three or four days without breaking a $20 bill. When it comes to buying lunch for others or situations where I need to step up to the plate, I am not cheap, as I always do my part and then some.
And here is why this cash-controlled spending concept works. When we sign a check or use plastic, we don’t actually think about the fact that it’s money we are spending. We do when it’s cash. Why do you think casinos use poker chips and not real cash money when it comes to rolling the dice? It’s a lot easier to bet $10,000 in poker chips than to bet $10,000 in hard cash that you can see and touch. When we become conscious of what we are really spending, we will do a better job of spending it. Ken’s web site is: www.FinancialSelfConfidence.com.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 796 - HOW CAN WE REACH THEM?

No. 796

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW CAN WE REACH THEM?

The late Grayson Kirk (1903-1997), former president of Columbia University, once said, “Education is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and to others.” In light of this quote by Grayson Kirk, my question to you is simple this: What happens when a person does not get an education?
I have a real burden to share with you today, and while it may or may not touch your life, the ramifications of my burden are far reaching. A while back I read a true story that happened in a public school in the eastern part of our state. A young man was sitting in a cafeteria having lunch when two other young men approached him, one from either side. They attacked him, resulting in injuries so severe that he had to be taken to the hospital.
The attackers later reported that they had words with the young man outside of school, and the only way they could get to him was at school. The victim later stated that the boys had been picking on him and his younger brother for a while and they claimed to be members of a gang. To make a long story short, the boys who carried out the attack were suspended from school and arrested on battery charges. Now, the article did not say if this school has an “alternative” school or not -- I can only hope they do because students kicked out of school prior to graduation have little hope of achieving any measure of personal success. While “alternative” schools are expensive, in the long run the costs to society are much greater.
The true story I have just described is just the tip of the iceberg of what takes place in schools all across our nation every day. In many cases, the consequences are fatal, because many students are killing each other. The question that keeps coming to my mind over and over again is, how can we reach them?
Kicking a student out of school in most cases solves the school’s problem. at least in the short term, but the long-term costs for society are often much greater. We know the problem and, in most cases, we know what causes it. All we have to do is study the student’s home environment for it to become readily apparent why aggressive and violent students act as they do.
I am well aware there are professional people in schools all across our country, as well as in our criminal justice system, who work on this problem every day and know a lot more than I do. My attitude is certainly not to try to upstage any of them, but as I thought more about this situation, I just wondered if it would be helpful if school officials could interview willing inmates in prison about their life. They could ask the inmates if they would change anything in life, given the chance to do it over. I just believe there are many inmates who would be happy to do this if they thought they could keep some of these kids in school and from being in prison where they are. These interviews could be filmed and shown to students who get in serious trouble to help them see where their actions are taking them, if not redirected.
In far too many cases, students never think about the consequences of their actions, especially if they are not taught when they are younger. I would encourage every person who reads this column to think about this question as it relates to our society and people you know who are heading in the wrong direction: How can we reach them?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 797 - GOLF AT YOUR OWN RISK!

No. 797

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

GOLF AT YOUR OWN RISK!

First, allow me to set the stage. On Sunday, Sept. 3, 1939, at 11 o’clock in the morning, Great Britain declared war on Germany to enter World War II. France also declared war later that same day. This is the backdrop for a most interesting article a reader sent me titled “Richmond Golf Club – Temporary Rules – 1940.”
Most avid golfers know that Scotland is the birthplace of golf, and the Old Course at St. Andrews has more history than any other golf course in the world. Now, I am not sure where the Richmond Golf Club was or is located, probably in England, but the reason for the Temporary Rules was most interesting in view of the fact they were issued during a time of war. Even if you don’t play golf, this article will show you just how die-hard some golfers are.
Here are the rules: “1. Players are asked to collect bomb and shrapnel splinters to save these from causing damage to the mowing machines. 2. In competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play. 3. The positions of known delayed action bombs are marked by red flags at a reasonably, but not guaranteed, safe distance there from. 4. Shrapnel and/or bomb splinters on the fairways or in bunkers within a club’s length of a ball may be moved without penalty, and no penalty shall be incurred if a ball is thereby caused to move accidentally. 5. A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced or, if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without penalty. 6. A ball lying in a crater may be lifted and dropped but not nearer the hole, preserving the line to the hole, without penalty. 7. A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty is one stroke.”
After reading this list of rules, I would say this is definitely a case of where you would have to golf at your own risk. As I write these words, our local Lions Club members are making plans to host the 13th annual Jamie Bray Memorial Golf Classic. It has been my privilege for the past several years to be responsible for securing the hole sponsors and the players for our tournament. This is our club’s major fundraiser to help the blind and visually impaired. While I am not very good, I love to play golf because it’s a great fellowship game and a way to be outside and enjoy the beautiful world that God has created for us. The guys I play with are always involved in a lot of good-natured kidding. We all moan when one makes a poor shot, and cheer when one of us makes a good one.
This past week I learned something exciting from our tournament chairman, Marty Faggetti. He and seven of his fellow golfers are going to Scotland this summer and will play the Old Course at St. Andrews and several others. They will have a wonderful time, and it will be the trip of a lifetime for each of them.
Now, there is another aspect of what I have been sharing, other than golfing. This is the fact that there are thousands of golf tournaments held all over the nation each year, with the proceeds going to help some worthy cause. There is really no reason why we should not have fun and help others at the same time. Personally, I feel good about the fact that my time, efforts and resources are going to help the blind and the less fortunate. Hope you share that same spirit. We are indeed our brother’s keeper.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 798 - WHAT HAS AMERICA BECOME?

No. 798

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHAT HAS AMERICA BECOME?

Former Secretary of the Treasury, the late William Simon, left us with a most sobering and insightful book titled, “A Time for Truth” (copyright 1978) in which he outlines America’s impending social and economic meltdown. His words, and the central theme of his book, could probably be best summed up with the dedication to his wife and children.
He states, “I dedicate this book to my wife Carol, who stands by my side throughout all my battles — and to my children, so they can never say, at some future time, “Why weren’t we told?”
As an eternal optimist I always try to paint the most positive and optimistic picture I can, but also realize there is indeed a time for stating the truth, because this is the only way we can ever be on solid footing to deal with our problems, both personal and as a nation.
We live in a day and time when the pen is mightier than the sword, and I can only hope that some of my thoughts will reach the eyes, hearts, and minds of those in positions of leadership and authority, who can make corrections in the course we are traveling.
A few weeks ago I received an article from a reader that should be read and pondered by every responsible citizen in our nation. It is titled, “What Has America Become?” I wrote the author, Ken Huber, and was given permission to share the story. It begins, “Has America become the land of the special interest and home of the double standard? Let’s see: if we lie to the Congress, it’s a felony, and if the Congress lies to us, it’s just politics; if we dislike a black person, we’re racists and if a black dislikes whites, it’s their First Amendment right.
“The government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you had better not use the word God in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but it’s wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don’t burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we get rid of the communists and socialists by renaming them progressives; we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; you can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you had better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas; we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people; we can use a human fetus for research, but it’s wrong to use an animal.
“We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don’t want to work; we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct; parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs; the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help. And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who’s at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes, tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.”
Ouch! This article kind of reminds me of a piece of meat I get once in a while that is tough. The longer I chew on it, the bigger it gets. It all comes down to this simple fact: We are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 799 - LIVING IN A DARK WORLD!

No. 799

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

LIVING IN A DARK WORLD!

If you have ever been in a completely dark room, where you could not see your hand in front of your face, then you will understand and appreciate what I want to share with you in this column.
While writing this column, over the past 15-plus years, I have mentioned several times that I am a member of the Conway Noon Lions Club. The mission of our club, plus more than 44,000 other clubs around the world, is to help the blind and visually impaired. Our club has some great meetings, some great speakers and a several fund-raising events each year to raise the money to support a number of sight-related projects. All of our members understand our mission and what we are doing to help the blind. However, unless we have the opportunity to actually “see” and experience the life that blind people live, day after day, there is no way for even our best and most faithful members to be emotionally involved. I might add that this is the deepest motivation of all -- to put ourselves in someone else’s skin or shoes.
This fact was really brought home to me several months ago when a number of our Lions visited the Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock. This is a world-class facility dedicated to training the blind and visually impaired to be able to function independently and to live full productive lives with dignity and self-respect. Since it was founded in 1939, LWSB has become the largest and most comprehensive rehabilitation center in the world, serving more than 9,500 people from 50 states and 58 other countries. I might add that the vast majority of people in our state, and even in central Arkansas, do not know we have this facility right here at home.
The day we were there, Dan Noble, public relations director at LWSB, gave us a tour of the campus, which included visiting a number of training stations where a sighted instructor was teaching various skills to totally blind and partially blind students. The center provides counseling services, personal adjustment training, pre-vocational training, and vocational training in 13 career areas ranging from computer programming to small engine repair. Trainees are given guidance through the often traumatic, emotional adjustment to blindness and taught techniques for daily living, communications and mobility so they can care for themselves and travel independently. The trainees are also given the opportunity to learn valuable job skills so they can function efficiently and competitively in the work place.
In looking back on our trip to LWSB, I think the thing that impacted me the most was when we had lunch in their cafeteria. As I was sitting there eating at one of the long tables with a number of my fellow Lions, all whom had their sight, the trainees began to come in for lunch. They were all totally blind, or had greatly impaired vision, and I saw more blind people at one time than I had ever seen in my life. You could easily spot those who had only been there a short period of time. They came down the line, guided by their white cane, and when they came to the wall where they had to make a right turn, you could tell it was awkward for them.
It was at this point I realized what it must be like to live in a totally dark world. I was grateful that I was blessed with my sight and it had a very emotional impact on me. Should you want to learn more about this world-class facility, visit their web site: www.lwsb.org.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 800 - FOR THE CAUSE OF LITERACY!

No. 800

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

FOR THE CAUSE OF LITERACY!

Wise old Ben Franklin once said, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.” An investment in knowledge always pays the best dividends.
In today’s technological society, a person must be able to read and write in order to gain life-sustaining knowledge. Sadly, 42 million adults in America can’t read at all and they are, for all practical purposes, fighting a battle with one hand tied behind their backs. If you have read, enjoyed and benefitted from my column over the years, I have a special request to make of you that will help a lot of deserving children learn to read. I am making this request for the cause of literacy, and it will not financially benefit me in any way.
Back in 2003, a state press director suggested that I publish a book of my columns, sell them, and give all the proceeds to help improve literacy in our country. In case you don’t know, the United States now ranks 18th out of 23 industrialized nations in reading, science and math test scores. With the help of another state press director friend, we secured a panel of award-winning journalists to read my columns and select the ones they liked best to be included in this book that was titled, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” As a result, thousands were sold for $15.95 to support a number of literacy projects. This was done prior to raising our funds with a Bookcase Literacy Banquet with each person receiving a complimentary copy of the book.
A few of the many topics include, “Our Attitudes Control Our Lives,” “Do You Have Class?,” “The Goose Story,” “Ten Causes Of Burnout,” “The Greatest Profession Of Them All,” “Shake Off Negative Comments,” “Making Wise Decisions,” “The $25,000 Idea,” “Do You Have A Loser’s Limp?,” “Nobody Owes You A Living,” “It Can’t Be My Boy,” “The Scars On The Door,” “The Least Important Word,” “A Letter From Prison,” “Society’s ‘Throw Away’ Kids,” “Have You ‘Hugged’ Your Child Today?”, “A Stranger Moved in With Us,” “Why The American Flag is Folded 13 Times” and countless others.
I am in the process now of completely rewriting the book to be a “New Revised Edition” that will be more in keeping with the theme and purpose of the “Bookcase for Every Child” project. At this point, I still have a limited supply of the original version on hand and need to sell them and apply the proceeds toward the printing cost of the new edition, plus free up some storage space to have when the new edition arrives from the printer.
For the cause of literacy I am making these available to my readers for $5.00 each, plus $3.00 S&H, while they last, and as I have said, I don’t personally earn a penny, as our project is all about giving back. As I have stated several times before, my vision is to have “Bookcase for Every Child” projects and Bookcase Literacy Banquets taking place in communities all across America in the years to come.
As we look to the future, this book could even become a collector’s item. It would also be a great way to support literacy by some companies giving a copy with the sale of large ticket items such as automobiles, appliances, homes and so forth. Just $5.00, plus $3.00 S&H, while they last. Make checks payable to “Bookcase for Every Child” and send to 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. Children in low-income families need our help.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 801 - HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW!

No. 801

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW!

One of the things I never want to take for granted is that I have some great people who read my column. Many of you have sent me various articles, stories and quotes that I have used in various ways, to share with others that serves to make us all better people.
While my mind often feeds me some unique thoughts and ways to express an idea, I have never claimed to be original. As it says in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” One of my readers, and also a friend, is a wonderful gentleman by the name of Joe Lehmann. He has sent me countless e-mails over the years. With me, recently, he hit the nail on the head when he sent me a story about a sparrow at a Starbucks in New York City. While this is not exactly the Bible belt, the message in following story Joe sent me is unmistakable.
This particular Starbucks is located at 51st Street and Broadway in Manhattan, and for musicians who play there it is known as the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world. For those who can play the right tunes, the tips are substantial. One day this old musician was playing songs from the 40s to the 90s. During an emotional rendition of the classic, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” he noticed a lady sitting in a lounge chair a short distance away. She was swaying to the beat and singing along. After the number was over, she approached him and said, “I apologize for singing along on the song. Did it bother you?” she asked. “No, he replied. “We love it when the audience sings along. Would you like to sing the next selection?”
To his delight, she accepted the invitation. “You choose the song,” he said. “What are you in the mood to sing?” “Well, do you know any hymns?” He said, “I cut my teeth on hymns. Name one.” “Oh, so many good ones, how about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’”?
He began to play and she began to sing. “Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?” The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion. “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”
When the last note was sung, the applause had reached a crescendo that became a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. The old musician embraced his new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful,” he said. “Why did you pick that particular song?” She hesitated, “That was my daughter’s favorite song. She was 16 and died of a brain tumor last week.” In spite of her grief, she still managed to bless others through that wonderful song.
The next time you feel like God can’t use you, just remember. Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Rahab was a prostitute, David had an affair and was a murderer, Jonah ran from God, Job went bankrupt, John the Baptist ate bugs, Peter denied Christ, The Disciples fell asleep while praying, the Samaritan woman was divorced more than once, Zaccheus was too small, Paul was too religious, Timothy had an ulcer and Lazarus was dead. What a blessing. Wish I could have been there that day.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 802 - AN INSIGHTFUL AND SOBERING COMPARISON!

No. 802

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AN INSIGHTFUL AND SOBERING COMPARISON

The late Charles Ponzi (1882-1949) was an Italian swindler who is considered one of the greatest swindlers in American history. He could appropriately be called the “Father of the Ponzi Scheme.”
The term “Ponzi Scheme” was coined after Charles Ponzi’s scam, and today it is the description of any scam that pays early investors returns from the investments of later investors. Charles Ponzi promised clients a 50 percent profit within 45 days, or 100 percent profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the United States as a form of arbitrage -- meaning the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets. Ponzi was probably inspired by the scheme of William Miller, a Brooklyn bookkeeper who used the same scheme to take in $1 million.
The name that most modern-day Americans will remember and relate to readily is Bernie Madoff, who sits in prison as I write these words. In this regard, a thoughtful reader sent me something that, because of the way it was presented, was very insightful and sobering. It was a side-by-side comparison of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme and our own Social Security system. While I already knew most of the give-and-take factors (mostly take) of our Social Security system, this comparison put the cookies on the bottom shelf and really brought it home to me. Permit me to share it with you and I believe it will give you some new insights as well.
There are five different points in a comparison of each, Bernie Madoff and Social Security.
“BERNIE MADOFF – Takes money from investors with the promise that the money will be invested and made available to them later. SOCIAL SECURITY – Takes money from wage earners with the promise that the money will be invested in a ‘Trust Fund’ and made available later. BERNIE MADOFF – Instead of investing the money Madoff spends it on nice homes in the Hamptons and yachts. SOCIAL SECURITY – Instead of depositing money in a Trust Fund the politicians use it for general spending and vote buying. BERNIE MADOFF – When the time comes to pay the investors back Madoff simply uses some of the new funds from newer investors to pay back the older investors. SOCIAL SECURITY – When benefits for older investors become due, the politicians pay them with money taken from younger and newer wage earners to pay the geezers.
“BERNIE MADOFF – When Madoff’s scheme is discovered, all hell breaks loose. New investors won’t give him any more cash. SOCIAL SECURITY – When Social Security runs out of money, they simply force the taxpayers to send them some more. BERNIE MADOFF – Bernie Madoff is in jail. SOCIAL SECURITY – Politicians remain in Washington.”
This last bit of information reminds me of a quotation by Milton Friedman, a prominent economist: “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand.”
It has taken me a while, but I have finally figured out why we can’t reduce the deficit without increasing taxes. Nobody wants the government to cut their program. We can’t do it without it being painful, but the right thing to do is make cuts across the board where everyone knows, up front, that it’s fair.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 803 - JUST CONSIDER THE SOURCE!

No. 803

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

JUST CONSIDER THE SOURCE

One time I remember hearing the late Earl Nightingale say, “We live in America where a person has the right to be just as wrong as he wants to be.” This thought came to mind when I began to think about what I wanted to share with you in this column.
In our Sunday school class we have been studying a book by Dr. David Jeremiah titled “Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World.” In one of the chapters, he talks about Bill Maher, who is best known for two nighttime television talk shows. His second show -- Politically Incorrect -- pretty well sums up Maher’s tone, personality and subject matter. As a stand-up comedian, he is known for his acid-tongued commentaries on everything traditional – especially faith. In 2008, he added to his comedic resume by writing and starring in a documentary film called “Religulous” that opened in theaters in October of that year.
His goal was to attack organized religion, especially Christianity and its belief in the Bible. In an interview on the CBS Early Show with host Harry Smith, Maher said, “My motivation (with ‘Religulous’) is to make people laugh. I mean, religion, to me, is a giant elephant in the room of comic gold because, you know, we’re talking about a garden with a talking snake. If you can’t find humor there – people are just used to these stories. That’s why they don’t laugh at them.”
Really! Of course, Maher is not the only one who pokes fun at Christianity. Members of the mainstream media and press do it all the time. In our local newspaper we have a columnist by the name of John Brummett, who never misses an opportunity to put people down if they take a stand for Christian beliefs and values, especially Jesus.
I will confess that I used to get pretty upset when I would read or hear someone else attacking my faith, and I suspect this is true for most other Christians as well. As Christians we have been used as a punching bag for too long. However, I finally came to realize the truth of what Earl Nightingale was saying, “We have the right to be just as wrong as we want to be.”
Here is the good news for me and perhaps you, as well. All we have to do is consider the source and we will not get upset the next time someone attacks our faith. Now, I don’t say that to be flippant or condescending, but from a literal point of view. Those who attack our Christian beliefs have gained their wisdom in less than a century, and the Bible has been around for thousands of years. When I place things in the proper context, I no longer get upset.
I might add, the Bible will still be around when the Bill Mahers and John Brummetts of this world are long gone. In Matthew 24: 35, Jesus says, “Heaven and Earth will pass away but my words will abide forever.” Again, so there will be no misunderstanding, this is what I meant when I said, “Just consider the source.”
It has never been my attitude, my spirit or my desire to attack someone else for his or her beliefs. I have a deep and abiding faith in humanity, and, while I may not agree, to respect the rights of every person to think and believe as they choose. However, I will not sit idly by and listen to someone else attack my faith without uttering a word in defense. The Bible says to “Be ready always to give an account of the reason of hope that is within you with meekness and fear.” Love is really the answer, and when we have love, we are truly blessed.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 804 - BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PLANT!

No. 804

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PLANT

A while back I read a story about a very creative CEO, who was ready to retire and wanted to choose his successor. He came up with a very unique plan. He assembled all of his young executives and made the following announcement. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO of our company. I am going to give each one of you a seed today, one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”
One man named Jim was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed, and very excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and planted the seed. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim did not say anything to his colleagues. However, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil — he so wanted his seed to grow. A year finally went by and the young executives of the company brought their plants for the CEO’s inspection.
Jim told his wife that he was not going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what had happened. It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew she was right. He took an empty pot into the board room. When he arrived he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. He put his empty pot on the floor -- many of his colleagues laughed and a few felt sorry for him.
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back of the room. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows that I am a failure. Maybe he will have me fired.” When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed — Jim told him the story. He tried, but just could not get this seed to grow. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next chief executive officer. His name is Jim!” “He couldn’t grow his seed, how could he be the new CEO?” the others asked.
Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all BOILED seeds. They were dead and not possible for them to grow. All of you except Jim have brought me trees, plants and flowers. You substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore he will be the one who will be the new CEO."
The moral here is simple. Be careful what kind of seeds you plant, they may come up.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 805 - IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN ...

No. 805

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN ….

Over the years it has been my privilege to travel a great deal and make speeches to groups in a good number of communities, in various parts of the country. I have always enjoyed these trips, and especially meeting new people. I have found that people are basically the same regardless of where my travels have taken me, but there is a definite difference in the prosperity and optimism from one community to the next. Much of this can be attributed to location and natural resources, but leadership plays a definite role as well.
Something else I have noticed, which is certainly not a scientific approach, is that some communities are fairing better than others due to the level and quality of educational opportunities in the community. This is borne out by the fact that “college” towns usually do much better than the others.
What I am going to say next may appear to be boasting, but it is certainly not meant that way. The community of Conway, Arkansas, where I live is known as the “City of Colleges,” as we have three colleges here -- the University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College and Central Baptist College. Our population is approaching 60,000 people, but these colleges were here long before our population exploded. In fact, some people would like to hang out a “No Vacancy” sign. When we moved to the area back in the early 1980s, the population was somewhere around 20,000, give or take a few thousand. One of the reasons for our success, in addition to the education factor, is that our economy is so diversified. Our unemployment rate is well below the national average.
In addition to economic opportunities there is something that is often called “quality of life” factors. These are the various factors that make living, working and prospering enjoyable. We have real quality of life here, and most of our citizens are grateful for it. Another factor, and this is really the purpose of this column, is what our leaders have done to plan for the future. We have all heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Here is a question that you may want to think about, “Does your community have a long range plan?”
The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce facilitated a strategic planning process, to be in place by 2011, called Conway2025. The first step was public input through a short survey to identify our local priorities. More than 1,400 Conway area residents participated in the survey. This almost tripled the goal of having 500 people participate.
The survey asked residents to prioritize 43 possible focus areas. The Conway2025 steering committee identified 12 areas that stood out among the survey responses. These were Education, Transportation, Public Safety, Job Creation, Minority Affairs, Public Transportation, Arts and Culture, Drainage, Land Use and Planning, Parks and Recreation, Downtown and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. During the survey process, respondents were asked if they were willing to help write the plan. More than 300 volunteered.
The goal was to establish 12 focus areas which include: Keep Conway Moving, Keep Conway Active, Keep Conway Building, Keep Conway Working, Keep Conway Safe, Keep Conway Creative, and Keep Conway Learning.
There is much more that space does not allow me to tell you, but if you are interested visit: www.conway2025.com. As I said earlier, it’s all about leadership.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 806 - IS YOUR CHILD'S COACH A BULLY?

No. 806
The next password is corn

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

IS YOUR CHILD’S COACH A BULLY?

There is no place in all of society where a bully should be tolerated. This is especially true in athletics where, in most cases, a dominant adult is coaching young people and children.
Recently, a friend sent me an article written by Dr. John Schinnerer that began: “My 10-year-old son was bullied recently. He was told that he was an ‘embarrassment’. He was told to ‘shut up’.
“He was yelled at and scolded with a tone of voice tinged with disgust and disdain. He was told that he would be punished for mistakes he or his peers made in the future. Surprisingly, this did not happen at school. The bully wasn’t even a peer of his. The bully was his swim coach, a young lady of perhaps 26 years of age. She was desperately trying to motivate her swimmers to swim fast in the big meet the next day. And this was her attempt at motivation.
“Later, in speaking with the lady in charge of the coaches on this swim team, it quickly became apparent that this type of ‘incentive’ was not only OK with her, it was actually encouraged. She said that 9- and 10-year-old boys were ‘squirrelly’ and ‘needed to be taken down a notch.’ She was in full support of her coaches yelling at, embarrassing and insulting young children to motivate them to swim faster. ‘That’s just the way swimming is,’ she said. This parent went on to say, ‘If I had not spent 12 years of my childhood swimming competitively, I may have believed her. We parted company’.”
Now, I will stop here because you have the picture. Apparently, according to Dr. Schinnerer, this type of bullying or abuse takes place far too often in various sports all across the nation, and it should not be tolerated.
Again, the question, “Is your child’s coach a bully?” To answer this question, you must first know what bullying behavior looks and feels like. Here is the definition: “Bullying is aggressive behavior that occurs repeatedly over time in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power or strength.” Bullying can take many forms, including physical violence, verbal abuse, social manipulation and attacks on property. Physical violence is not usually a component of a coaching relationship. Should this happen, and a coach is violent with an athlete, it vital to call the authorities.
As I thought about this, I remember getting an e-mail from the “Master Motivator”, former Louisiana State University basketball coach Dale Brown, who is second only to the late Adolph Rupp in wins in the Southeast Conference. The e-mail contained a letter to his former player Shaquille O’Neal after his first year in the NBA. Here is some of what he said to “Shaq,” and please contrast his approach with the 26-year-old swim coach I talked about earlier.
“Be a good listener. One of the most consistent qualities of those who are labeled as extraordinary athletes is they have been coachable. There have been few exceptions. Make your dignity as tall as your body. Never, ever drop it or sell it or become complimented out of it. Respect others, even the most humble, and remember that above all else, you are a member of a group called mankind.
“So, be your brother’s keeper. Lift him up when he has fallen; bandage him up when he is wounded. Well, that’s my advice to you, Shaquille. You really don’t need it. You are what you are: a good man. Love you, Coach Brown.”
From my perspective, that is the way to motivate players and we should never tolerate bullying.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The next column password is: Corn

No. 781 - THE NEW HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

No. 781

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE NEW HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

Sometime back a very thoughtful reader sent me a fantastic article titled, “The New High School Principal.” Since no author was given, I am not sure if this is a fictitious or a real person, but it is certainly worthy to be passed along to you, as education is the very foundation of our society.
The article begins: “To the students and faculty of our high school: I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people. I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school.
“I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country. This high school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American.
“This is an American public school and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values — E Pluribus Unum, ‘from many, one.’ And this school will be guided by America’s values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.
“Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism – an unhealthy preoccupation with the self – while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.
“I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here – it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English -- but if you want classes taught in your native language, this is not your school.”
There is much, much more that really hits the nail on the head, and if you would like to have the complete article, send me a self-addressed envelope and I will be happy to send it to you.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 782 - AMERICA'S BIGGEST LOOPHOLE

No. 782

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AMERICA’S BIGGEST LOOPHOLE

Are you familiar with the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere? On April 18, 1775, silversmith Paul Revere set out on horseback on a journey from his small wooden home in Boston’s North End that would make him a legend in American history. On this fateful night he set out to warn his fellow Patriots that the British were coming. Most Americans know the rest of the story.
What followed was the Revolutionary War, where we won our independence, another word for freedom, from England, our mother country. This was to be followed by two World Wars to preserve our freedom and other conflicts for various reasons, including the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today, the land that has come to be known as the United States of America is at a crossroads yet again. We face an enemy far greater, because of the sheer numbers, than the British ever were and because of an ideology that is committed to ruling the world.
Of course I am talking about the Islamic extremists, who have already attacked us physically, here at home and abroad. We are spending a great deal of our nation’s resources to try to prevent them from doing it again – just book an airplane flight if you want to see evidence of this.
We hear on the news all the time that the vast majority of Muslims are peace loving, and I would like to believe that. However, based on what is happening in many other countries where Muslims have immigrated in large numbers, these peace-loving Muslims will also be victims of the extremists or terrorists, to call them what they are.
Because of the fertility rate factor, in time, the Muslims can take over our country, and the rest of the world, without ever having to fire a shot. Research has proven that in a 25-year cycle, the fertility rate must be at least 2.11 to sustain the culture. For example, if two sets of parents have one child each and these children become parents and have one child, if that trend continues the population rate slowly decreases to a point there is no growth in the population.
Here is the fertility rate for some countries in the European Union: France 1.8, England 1.6, Germany 1.3 and Spain 1.1. In England, where the fertility rate is 1.6, the population rate is not declining. Why? Because of immigration, and the vast majority of immigrants who come to England are Muslim. All you have to do is follow the news if you want to know what is happening in our mother country. The same thing is seen in France and other countries where Muslims are making even greater strides in achieving their ultimate goal to someday rule the world.
They not only want to rule the world and have Islam as the only religion, but also to have everyone live under Shiria Law. Today the population of the United States is 0.6 percent Muslim, but they have a fertility rate of over twice that of Western countries, so you can see what will happen in 30 to 40 years.
What is so ironic about this scenario is that the first thing Muslims holler when they immigrate to the United States is “Religious Freedom.” They had no religious freedom in any of the countries where they came from.
In my view this is America’s biggest loophole. A loophole is something we use to get around the rules or the law. We are a nation of immigrants but, up until now, they have all come to the United States and assimilated into our culture and were proud to be called Americans. Where is Paul Revere when we really need him?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 793 - OUR NATON'S THIRD PRESIDENT

No. 793

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

OUR NATON’S THIRD PRESIDENT

The Spanish essayist and poet George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.”
When we think about where we are as a nation today and how our present financial crisis is impacting our lives, it might be well to look back at our history and examine the views and policies that made us the most prosperous and most powerful nation on earth in less than 200 years. Personally, in view of what I have just shared, I believe a good life to study, with this in mind, is none other than our third president, Thomas Jefferson. He was brilliant and made some of the greatest contributions in the history of our country.
You may be familiar with the famous quote by former President John F. Kennedy, spoken during a dinner at the White House, when he had a group of the brightest minds in the nation assembled there. He said, “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Please allow me to remind you of some things about this remarkable man, who started learning at an early age and never stopped.
At 5, he began studying under his cousin as a tutor; at 9 he studied Latin, Greek and French; at 14, he studied classical literature and additional languages; at 16, he entered the College of William and Mary; at 23, he started his own law practice; at 25, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses; at 32, he was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress; at 33, he wrote the Declaration of Independence; at 36, he was elected the second governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry; at 40, he served in Congress for two years; at 57, he was elected the third president of the United States; at 60, he obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation’s size; at 61, he was elected to a second term as President; at 65, he retired to Monticello.
As history will bear out, there is little question that Thomas Jefferson was one of the most brilliant and capable men to ever serve in our nation’s highest office. With that in mind, to me it just makes sense that what he had to say, and the philosophy from which he governed, would serve us well in today’s times. We can learn from history and try to avoid some of the mistakes in the future that led us to the point we find ourselves today, with high unemployment and a massive national debt. Here are some quotes and thoughts attributed to Thomas Jefferson that will give us some insights for helping our leaders to right the ship of state.
“When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.” “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
A final question: Can we learn anything from men like Thomas Jefferson?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 34 THE COURAGE TO SAY "NO"

No. 34
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE COURAGE TO SAY "NO"

To have courage in the face of adversity is one of the greatest of all human virtues. The dictionary defines courage as “That quality of mind or spirit enabling one to meet danger, or opposition with fearlessness, calmness and firmness.” The late Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Great Britain summed it up this way, "It is the quality which guarantees all others."
As the topic of courage relates to your own life, here is a question I would like for you to think about: do you want the best life has to offer? I'm confident most people will answer "yes" to this question. It's just human nature to want the best, however, in many cases we settle for far less than it's possible for us to achieve. The only way any person can have the best life has to offer is to learn how to say "NO" at the right time and in the right way. Most of our obstacles to having and living the best life are brought about when we don't have the courage or intestinal fortitude to say "NO."
Almost from the time we are born and come into the world, life is made up of one decision after another. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have had loving parents, to have received a good education and to have made some positive choices, we began our journey through life with a lot going for us. Of course, for those who were not so lucky, there is always hope they will encounter enough positive influences to make a real difference.
In your own life, can you think of problems that were created, because you didn't have the courage to say "NO?" In my personal life, I can think of a thousand cases where I would have been better off if I would have just had the courage to say NO. Here are some examples where the simple word "NO" would make a big difference in a person's life.
NO to premarital sex; NO to drugs; NO to smoking; NO to alcohol; NO to profanity; NO to crooked or unethical business practices; NO to breaking the law; NO to cheating on your mate. NO! NO! NO! It's a powerful word when it's used in the proper way and at the proper time. Please don't think for a moment that I'm setting myself up as a perfect example of someone who has had the courage to say "NO" to each of these life changing decisions. In fact, there are only a few things on this list where I can truthfully say I've said NO to in every case. Based on my years of experience, knowing what I know now, my list of things I would say "NO" to would definitely be longer.
If we are wise, we will make these kinds of decisions in advance, so when we are confronted with a choice of this type, it will already be settled. I believe you will agree we do need a standard to live by, and something we can depend on to be right in every possible situation. We hear a lot these days about positive thinking and NO is not a positive word, but a negative word. When we say "NO" in a group environment, it shuts off fellowship, and who wants to be a wet blanket?
In most cases the lack of courage comes from fear. The word fear, in this case, can be seen in the acrostic, "False Evidence Appearing Real." In the vast majority of cases, we are afraid because we don't know enough or because we are acting on information that is untrue. When it comes to life changing and life altering decisions, I hope you will give some serious thought to what I’m saying and have the courage to say "NO", which is the only way to have the best life has to offer. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 35 - THE COURAGE TO SAY "NO"

No. 35
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE SCARS ON THE DOOR

One time I heard a story about a little boy who crawled under a big tent, thinking he was getting into the circus free, but when he got inside it turned out to be a revival meeting. Life is filled with surprises and disappointments of various kinds, but this is one facet of life which makes it so interesting. When you think about it, I believe you will agree that much of the drama of life would be destroyed if this were not the case.
From my perspective, it would be wonderful if there was always something good, exciting and worthwhile waiting just around the next bend in the road or in the next days' mail or the next phone call, but we know this is not reality. Life is made up of good days and bad days, happiness and sorrow, and success and failure. Life is just this way.
We can, however, make personal choices to insure that the law of averages will work to our advantage to have more good days than bad days, more happiness than sorrow, and more success than failure. In other words, it's not what life does to us, it's what we do to life that counts. The reason this is true is because of the natural law that controls everything in the universe, called "cause and effect." If we take care of the causes, in most cases the effects will take care of themselves.
We read in the Bible in Galatians 6:7, "Be ye not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." Most of us believe this and know it's true, but unfortunately we do not always base our actions on this great truth. Rather, we permit other factors to influence our decisions and for the time being, forget that sooner or later we will reap the consequences of our actions.
Since most of our important values and habits are established when we are young, I felt the following story might be worth thinking about. It seems a farmer had a rebellious son. This youngster was forever getting into trouble. Not serious trouble, just things that were out of character for the way he was raised. Finally, one day the father suggested to his son: "Son, every time you do something that you know is not right, I want you to take a hammer and drive a nail in the front door of our barn.
Every so often during the next few weeks, the father would hear the tat-tat-tat of the hammer, as the son was driving nails in the barn door. This went on for several months, until the barn door was almost completely covered with nails. At this time, the farmer made another suggestion. He said, "Son, now every time you do something that you know is right, I want you to pull a nail back out of the door."
At this point, the son took his father's suggestion and little by little, the nails began to come back out of the door. However, they didn't come back out nearly as fast as they went in. Finally, one day when the nails were all out, the son said to his father, "Father, I see what you mean. I thought I would be happy when I got all the nails out, but I didn't realize all the scars that would be left on the door."
I hope you can see the point of this story, because while outside influences can help us change our values, attitudes and habits, in most cases the consequences of our actions will still be there. Everything we do in life has a consequence and there's always a price that must be paid. If you really want to do something that will make a difference in the lives of some young people, why not sit down and explain this principle to them. It could make a world of difference down the road. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034)

No. 36 - THE SCARS ON THE DOOR

No. 36
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE SECRET OF ACHIEVEMENT

Some time back I heard about a real estate developer in California who made a fortune by developing an idea that all the other developers had overlooked. It seems there was a tract of land in his area that was a swamp and considered worthless by everyone who looked at it. However, this developer got the idea of digging canals throughout the area and when the swamp drained, he was left with choice lots where each home had a private boat dock and all the other benefits of living on a lake.
Now this true illustration should give rise to a very interesting question: why did one developer see real opportunity, while all the others did not? The answer to this question lies in the complexity of the human mind and the fact that every human being is unique. How we view the world and the circumstances we are in is closely linked to our success and to personal achievement, which is something most of us desire. There is no question that this developer is an achiever and he received both the tangible and intangible rewards that go with it.
Before I proceed, let me pose this question to you: do you consider yourself to be an achiever? If your answer was "yes", then you already know and will appreciate many of the things I'm going to say. However, if by chance your answer was "no", and you would like to become an achiever, please give some thought to what I'm saying because I can definitely help you get started off on the right foot. You know that the most important step in any journey is the first one.
At this point you may ask just what is an achiever? Well, an achiever is someone who accomplishes what he or she sets out to accomplish. In other words, an achiever is someone who has goals and persists or stays with their goals until they reach them. You have probably heard someone say about another person that "he or she is a high achiever." The difference between a high achiever and a low achiever can basically be found in what kind of goals they have. A person can only become a high achiever if they establish high goals. The same thing applies to low goals or no goals. This is the root problem for most people: they never take the time to establish definite, written, clear-cut goals, and because they have no goals, there is no way they can become an achiever.
Alfred Adler, Austrian born psychologist (1870-1937), came to the same conclusion. After a lifetime of study in this field, he became convinced that a continuous striving toward a self-chosen goal, not sex alone, is what motivates human beings. Now, I want to tell you the secret of achievement. The secret of achievement is not to let what you are doing get to you before you get to it. If you will think about this a moment, I believe you will see the truth of it. What keeps most people from becoming high achievers is that in most cases, they become discouraged and give up. In short, they quit too soon.
Let me share something called "Press On" that I believe you will find to be very appropriate. "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." Here is something to think about until our next visit: Set your goal and don't quit until you reach it. In other words, don’t let it get to you, before you get to it. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 37 - THE SECRET OF ACHIEVEMENT

No. 37
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THEY WANT TO BE "IN"

Former President Hoover once said, "Children are our most valuable resource." I've said the same thing many times and because of my extensive work with the public schools, I have been able to see and understand some things from first hand experience. If I had to decide on one single thing in today's times that impacts a youngster's future more than anything else, I believe it would be along these lines. Because of the tremendous changes in our society over the past two or three decades, not only from the standpoint of technology, but also the breakdown of traditional moral values, our young people today are subjected to more "peer pressure" than at any time in the history of public education.
Because "peer pressure" is so strong, kids want to be "in" and they will do almost anything in order to be in. As a friend told me recently, they want to be in even if it kills them. Unfortunately in thousands of cases each year, it does kill them, whether it's from drugs, alcohol, suicide or any number of other things that are peer pressure related. Fear for their safety is another concern but that’s another story.
Here in Conway, Arkansas, where I live, we have a great community. We have one of the very best school systems in the state, a strong economy and some of the most compassionate civic minded people in the world. At Christmas time last year I volunteered to ring the bells for the Salvation Army and learned that Conway is one of only two communities in the United States where the entire fund raising effort of ringing the bells is made up entirely of volunteers.
Of course, Conway, like most communities in our country, also has problems. Some time back the vice principal of the high school came to speak to the Lion's Club where I am a member. He told us about the gang activity in our community and our schools, as no less than 16 gangs are operating at one level or another. Our school people, along with local law enforcement are on top of it and doing a good job, but there is always the possibility that it will get out of hand, as it has already done in many communities across the country.
The thing I remember most about his presentation is when he said, "Don't stick your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist, because it does." Unfortunately many good kids are pulled into gang activity because they want to be "in" and also because gangs use fear as a way to recruit new members. They tell many unsuspecting, naive kids, "You become a member of our gang and we will protect you."
I believe you will agree that when a young person gets involved in a gang they are headed down the wrong road and in time this can have devastating consequences. The reason I have shared this with you is because while law enforcement and school officials already know this, many parents do have their heads in the sand and don't think it could happen to them.
Now, let's go back to that quote by President Hoover: "Children are our most valuable resource." It's my belief that the best way to help a youngster to stay out of a gang is to constantly tell and show them that you love them, communicate with them and tell them over and over again that they have value, worth and potential. In short, give your youngsters a reason to have hope and help them realize that they have a wonderful future in store for them. It's fine to be "in" if they are in the right things. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 38 - THEY WANT TO BE "IN"

No. 38
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUM
HOW TO CHANGE HUMAN NATURE

Several years ago I met a wonderful man by the name of Winston K. Pendleton, who, before he passed away, lived in Windermere, Florida. "Win" as his friends called him, has written over 20 books, a newspaper column and for many years was a much sought after public speaker. The reason I'm sharing this with you is because Win helped me so much that I considerd him to be my mentor. While you probably have never heard of this man, I believe it's important to pay tribute to those individuals who have helped us along the way. It's possible to become highly successful in this country without a lot of formal education, but no person ever achieves success without the help of others.
As I said earlier, Win was my mentor and one of my favorite stories that I've heard him tell is about a man who worked for a lumber yard. It seems that this man had worked there for about 25 years and during this period of time whenever he needed some lumber for a project at home or to help a neighbor, he would just take it without paying for it. Well, one night during a revival service at his church, this man got saved and soon thereafter, his conscience began to bother him. He said to himself, "Oh, Lord, what am I going to do?" Then he remembered that the Catholic church has a confessional booth where you can go and confess your sins to a priest and never be seen. Well, this seemed like the right thing to do, so he made the necessary arrangements and went into the booth and confessed. When he finished, he said to the priest, "Father, is that all there is to it?" The priest said, "No, you can't get off quite that easy. Did you ever make a novena?" The man thought for a moment and then said, "No, but if you've got the plans, I know where I can get the lumber."
While this is not a true story, it certainly makes a very valid point. Permanent change in our nature, even after we have been saved, is not easy. A person who is inwardly a crook is just waiting on another chance to steal. As it relates to what I am saying, have you ever really thought about the word "nature?" Our nature, according to the dictionary is "the intrinsic or inherent character of a person or thing." In other words, it's our natural instincts we are born with. A good example is that a baby cries when he or she gets hungry.
You may not agree, but as a Christian, I believe because of the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, man was eternally sentenced to a nature of sin. It's just "human nature" to lie, to cheat, to steal, to commit adultery, to lust or to fight back and try to get even when someone has wronged us. The way to change human nature can be found in the Bible where it is recorded in II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things passed away, behold, new things have come.”
Of course, our environment also has a great impact on our lives. Children who are taught character values by adults who set a good example have tremendous advantages over those who are not. In recent years, psychologists have determined that a person's attitudes and character values are pretty well established at a very early age. So, back to my statement, "permanent change in our nature is not easy." This is the reason a person can have all kinds of educational credentials but still wind up in prison if they lack character and integrity. Hopefully you will give some thought to what I’m saying here because, depending on your needs, it could make a wonderful difference in your life. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 39 - HOW TO CHANGE HUMAN NATURE

No. 39
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y

It's my sincere hope that what I have to share in this column will be a source of inspiration to you and a good number of other people, as well. One of the greatest blessings we have in this country which so many people take for granted is opportunity. Because of the basic freedoms we enjoy and an economic system that permits the free flow of goods and services to all parts of the world, opportunity abounds for each of us. Unfortunately, because there are millions of our citizens who broke the law and have committed crimes against society or one or more individuals, they wound up in prison and have forfeited their opportunity.
However, the greatest prison of all is not made with human hands, but rather it is the prison of the mind - people who are bound up in their thinking and just can't see all the opportunity that is around them. For example, think of the millions of people in America who are working at jobs they don't like or jobs where they feel they have no opportunity for advancement. Before I go on, could I be talking about you or someone you care about? Here is a statement that you may or may not agree with: the problem I have just described in 99% of the cases is not the job, it's the thinking of the person who holds the job.
This story will illustrate what I am saying: Some years ago there were three negative women who lived on a bayou in south Louisiana, and day-after-day they complained about their circumstances. Each day they would moan and say, "There is no opportunity for us here." Sound familiar? Then one day a positive thinking woman came along and heard them complaining and she said, "Look, so you live on a bayou. Well, the bayou runs into the river and the river runs into the gulf, and the gulf opens up into the sea. You have a boat. You can go anywhere from where you are."
I don't know how you feel about it, but to me this is really some exciting news! If you or someone you care about is in a job you don't like or one that seems to have no possibilities for the future, in most cases the problem is not the job -- it's in your thinking about the job. Like the three negative women on the bayou, you can go anywhere from where you are.
Here is what Walter Malone had to say about opportunity: "They do me wrong who say I come no more. When once I knock and fail to find you in, for everyday I stand outside your door and bid you wake and rise to fight and win. Wail not for precious chances passed away. Weep not for golden ages on the wane. Each night I burn the records for the day. At sunrise every soul is born again. Laugh like a boy at splendors that have sped, to vanished joys be blind and deaf and dumb. My judgments seal the dead past with its dead, but never bind a moment yet to come. Tho' deep in mire, wring not your hands and weep. I lend my arm to all who say, "I can." No shame faced outcast ever sank so deep, but yet might rise and be a man again. Art thou a mourner? Rouse thee from thy spell. Art thou a sinner? Sins may be forgiven. Each morning gives thee wings to flee from hell. Each night a star to guide they feet to heaven."
Until our next visit here is something worth thinking about. The American editor and craftsman Elbert Hubbard once said, “Opportunity is health and a job.” That’s it. If we have good health and a job we can use our time, talents and other resources as a springboard to achieve any success we desire. Don’t procrastinate!!!. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 40 - O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y

No. 40
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE $25,000 IDEA

There is an old American saying that goes, "Time is something we ain't got nothing but." Time is also the great equalizer, because every living person has exactly the same amount of time each day: twenty-four hours, no more, no less. Since achieving success is a worthy goal for most people, it really comes down to our priorities and how well we manage our time. If you would like to get a lot more accomplished in the days ahead, I have an idea to share with you that may be very helpful. This idea has been called "The $25,000 Idea" and as you will soon see, it's been around for years.
I discovered this idea several years ago quite by chance and it's been one of the most profitable ideas that I've ever employed. However, before I share it with you here is a word of caution that can be summed up with this quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Ideas are something that must work through the brains and arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams.”
Some time after the turn of the century, Ivy Lee, a consultant with the Rockefeller Foundation was making a call on Mr. Charles Schwab, chairman of the board of Bethlehem Steel Company. Lee was telling Mr. Schwab how he could help him do a much better job of managing his company and Mr. Schwab broke in and said, "Look, what we need is not more knowing. We need more doing. If you can tell me how to get more done, I'll listen to you and pay you what I think your ideas are worth."
At this point, Ivy Lee asked Mr. Schwab to take a piece of paper and a pencil and write down the six most important things he had to do the following day. When he completed this task, Lee told him to go back and number the six items in the order of their importance. With this finished, Ivy Lee then told him to put the paper in his pocket and the first thing the next morning, go to work on number one and stay with it until it was completed, then to move on to number two and so forth, down the list. If something should force his delay, go on to the next item. This way he would always be working on the most important task and in order of its importance. When each item on the list was completed, repeat the process. It should also be noted that by developing a new list each day, the most important tasks would always be first at hand.
In about six months, Mr. Schwab wrote Ivy Lee a letter and told him the idea he had given him was the most profitable, from a money standpoint, that he had ever received and he enclosed a check for $25,000. You can just imagine what that $25,000 would be worth today! It was later reported that the simple idea of writing down the six most important things to do each day and numbering them in order of their importance was responsible for turning a little known steel company into the second largest independent steel producer in the world.
One of the key ingredients in this idea that may not be readily understood is the fact that before Mr. Schwab could write down the six most important things he had to do the next day and arrange the tasks in order of priority, he had to first know what his goals were. Now to the obvious: this idea will be of value to any person who will first decide what they wish to achieve and then write down the six most important things to do each day and number them in order of their priority. You see, this will take most of the confusion out of our days and allow us to focus on doing the things that are most important to us. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 41 - THE $25,000 IDEA

No. 41
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
AMAZING COINCIDENCES

Sometime back, a lady in another state called me on the telephone regarding something about President Abraham Lincoln and in the course of our conversation she asked this question: "Have you ever heard of the amazing coincidences between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy?" When I confessed that I had not, she offered to send it to me by mail. When it arrived a few days later and I read it, I was literally amazed, which I'm sure is the reason it's called "The Amazing Coincidences." I was most impressed with this article and since it was not copyrighted, I decided to include it in my book, You Can Be The Best, which is a collection of the best stories and ideas I've run across in the past 25 years. Sometime back I even thought about sharing this with you in this column, but had decided that most people had already seen it and had pretty well written it off. However, Mr. Herman Brown, editor of the Okmulgee Daily Times in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, has changed my mind. He said, "I know most people have not seen this article and I'm sure they would like to." Well, Herman, for what it's worth, here are the "Amazing Coincidences" between former presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
Lincoln was elected in 1860, Kennedy was elected in 1960, exactly one hundred years apart. There are seven letters in each name. Both presidents were slain on Friday; both men were slain in the presence of their wives. Both presidents wives lost children through death while in the White House. Both were directly concerned with civil rights. Both presidents had legality of elections contested. Kennedy's secretary's name was Lincoln, who warned him not to go to Dallas; Lincoln's secretary's name was Kennedy, who warned him not to go to the theater. Both of their successor's names were Johnson: Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson. Each name contains thirteen letters; both men served in the U.S. Senate; both were southern democrats. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808, Lyndon Johnson was born in 1908. Booth and Oswald were both Southerners favoring unpopular ideas. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and hid in a theater; Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and hid in a warehouse. Both presidents were shot from behind and in the head. Booth and Oswald were both assassinated before going on trial. They were both born 100 years apart and each name, Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth, has 15 letters.
Well, that's the end of it, but even more importantly, what do you think about it? I'll confess that I don't know what to make of it. For me, it's highly unusual and even a little spooky. Here, I'm reminded of the words of Satchel Paige, who pitched baseball in the major leagues until he was over 50 years of age. He said, "Don't look back, something may be gaining on you." Personally, I'm grateful that we live in a world of order and the odds or chances that something like this would ever occur again have to be very remote.
As I bring my thoughts to a close in this column, I would like to say that I hope you are enjoying the various topics, ideas and concepts that I've been sharing with you. While today's column has been the exception, as a general rule, I try to be conscious of what I'm saying and present my ideas from a positive point of view. This is not to say that I'm not aware of the serious problems we have in our nation today.
In fact, the first five stories on our local television newscast the other evening had to do with murder. While tragic as this is, we can thank God for the fact that murder is still news. If it ever becomes so commonplace that it is not reported, we as a nation, will be worse off than we are. What we should never forget is that there are still millions of good people and that we have tremendous opportunities in this country. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 42 - AMAZING COINCIDENCES

No. 42
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
"NATURAL" LAWS

As a motivational consultant, over the past several years, I've had the joy of helping many people achieve greater success and happiness in their lives. In each case I’ve simply supplied them with some information they didn’t have and helped them see more if their God given potential. While success is a relative thing and means different things to different people, I've changed my views over the years in terms of what success means to me personally. In my earlier years I viewed success as getting ahead financially and having more material possessions, as well as achieving greater prestige and standing in the community.
Now as I've grown older and hopefully a little more mature, I realize that many of my views, values and goals were misguided, as I was attempting to lay up treasure where "moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." Today, I still desire many of those things, but they are no longer my first priority. Serving God, treating other people with dignity and respect and helping my fellow human beings to discover their hidden talents and abilities is far more important to me at this time in my life.
While working to achieve personal success should always be something that is possible in America, because that's part of the American dream, I believe our first priority should be to become good people and good citizens. God knows in today’s violent society we really need to invest more of our resources to make America a better place for all of us.
When it comes to your personal success, regardless of what your goals happen to be, there are some things you have to know and in a sense, has to become second nature, if you are to maximize the talents and abilities that God has given you. One of these areas of knowledge has to do with "natural laws." It's my belief that many people do not truly understand natural laws and how they work, at least not fully. We all know about man made laws that are enacted by congress and signed into law by our nation's president and the state laws that are passed by the various state legislatures. As I heard a lawyer say in a T.V. commercial the other day, "There are so many laws passed that even the lawyers can't keep up with all of them!"
But back to what I was saying about natural laws. A natural law has been defined as "A series of events in nature that has been observed to occur with unvarying uniformity." In other words, if the circumstances are exactly the same in all respects, then the outcome will always be the same. For example, if you step or fall off a tall building you will always go down. You will never go up. It's the same with all other natural laws -- they always work whether we understand or know about them or not. At this point, you may be saying, "How can knowing about natural laws help me?" Well, every natural law is like a two edged sword. It cuts both ways.
If you operate or perform on the good side of the law, it will always work for you. If you operate on the wrong side, it will always work against you. In doing research over the past several years, I've discovered almost 50 natural laws and from time-to-time in the future, I will share them in this column. Why not clip out this introductory column and those that will follow, and save them. As time goes by, I believe you'll come to appreciate what this information can do for you. You can also share a copy of the natural laws with other people who are special to you. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 43 - "NATURAL" LAWS

No. 43
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
A CONSTANT BATTLE

It is often said that an honest confession is good for the soul. I certainly hope this is true, because here at the beginning of my column today, I want to confess that I have a battle going on inside of me. The battle I'm referring to is the battle between my two natures. On the one hand, I have a "Divine" nature that tells me I should always seek to do good and seek after righteousness, and on the other hand I have a "sinful" nature that tells me it's okay to be involved in various activities that are evil or bad. In view of the crime problems we have in America, the tragic shootings in our nation’s schools, the alcohol and substance abuse, gambling addiction and the apparent lack of love and compassion that many people have for others, this may be something worth thinking about.
Before I continue, it might be helpful to define or discuss the terms "Divine" and "sinful" nature to make sure we are speaking the same language. The word "Divine" means supremely good, as in Godly, and the word "sinful" means to commit a sinful act or to do wrong. In other words, when someone commits a "sin" they have a broken relationship with God.
At one time or another, you have probably heard this expression: "It was almost 'second nature' for some person to do this or that." The reason this statement is true is because this person has performed the action so long and so often they no longer have to consciously stop and think about it. In other words, the action has become a habit and is an ingrained part of their nature.
If you have ever wondered why the habitual way of thinking for one person has developed a 'second nature' of doing what is right, while anther has developed a 'second nature' of doing what is wrong, I believe this illustration will shed some light on this process. The constant battle that is going on inside of every person could be compared to two dogs fighting. For the sake of example, let's say one dog represents good and the other dog represents evil. If you would like to know which dog is winning, it's the dog we feed the most. You'll never see a dog win a fight (except in self-defense), that has its ribs sticking out and is "poor" as a rail, because it hasn't had anything to eat in a long, long time.
As human beings, we need to understand that in the battle of our two natures, we are the ones doing the feeding. Just as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, we will have a "Divine" nature or a "sinful" nature depending on the kind of food that we permit to enter our minds and hearts. Regardless of what some people would have us believe, it does make a difference in what kind of television programs we watch, the movies we see and the books and other literature we read. In simple layman's terms, when we permit filthy, crude and evil thoughts to enter our mind on a regular basis, we are feeding the wrong dog.
Again, whether we realize it or not, our nature has a tremendous impact on our daily lives. As the English philosopher John Stuart Mill once said, “Our nature is the sum of all phenomena, together with the causes which produce them: including not only all that happens, but all that is capable of happening.” Just as another human being, if you have never thought about this, I want to encourage you to be very selective in which dog you are feeding. In terms of our society and our culture, we need to get back to respect for others and honesty and decency in everything we do. We will all feel better about ourselves. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 44 - A CONSTANT BATTLE

No. 44
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE POWER OF WORDS

There is an old saying that goes, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." While I don't know if you have ever heard this or not, I'm here to tell you that it's one of the biggest lies that has ever been told. In my own personal experience, I have seen the power of inspiring words lift a very despondent person to overcome all manner of obstacles and I've also seen the power of malicious and mean-spirited words tear another person down and make them feel worthless, as a human being.
Like you, I love the English language and do my best to express myself in a clear and convincing manner. Here is what Leo Rosten, a noted authority on our language has to say about words, “They sing. They hurt. They teach. They sanctify. They were man’s first, immeasurable feat of magic. They liberated us from ignorance and our barbarous past.”
There is no doubt about it, words are very powerful and we should be very careful how we use them, especially in relation to the worth and dignity of other people. This is even more important as it relates to members of our own family and others we have the power to influence. For some reason, our nation's school teachers just came to mind here. To illustrate what I mean, I'd like to tell you about an interesting experiment that has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of those unfortunate people who spend all or most of their time in a negative environment. This experiment began as follows: one time some research scientists took a large glass tank and filled it with water. In this tank they placed a large fish and a good number of small minnows. Hopefully you can see this in your mind. What do you think happened? If you said the fish ate the minnows, give yourself an "A".
For several days the scientists kept adding more minnows to the tank and the big fish had a good thing going, because he just kept on eating them. Then one day the scientists placed a glass partition between the two, with the big fish on one side and the minnows on the other. If you have spent a good deal of your time in a "negative" environment, here's the part of this experiment that may be of some benefit to you.
As the big fish got hungry and would start for a minnow, the glass partition was there to stop him. In essence this partition was saying, "No, you can't" and this experience was repeated literally hundreds of times. Each time the fish went for a minnow, the partition was there to say, "No, you can't." Finally, after several more days the scientists removed the glass partition. At this point, what do you think happened? Here is the correct answer. The fish was so conditioned that as minnows swam all around him, he would not even make an attempt to go after them, and in a few weeks he literally starved to death!
In a tank where a banquet was being served, a fish starved to death because he had been preconditioned by a clear glass partition that said, "No, you can't." Here's the moral or principle of this story that has the potential to change our lives for the better. If we aren't using the wonderful talents and abilities that God has given us, it could be that at some time in our lives we were preconditioned by someone who literally kept saying, "No, you can't." If we hear those words often enough, like the fish, pretty soon we will begin to believe them. This will result in lower self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence, which affects everything we do. Remember, as it relates to inspiring others, "words are powerful" and we need to be very careful how we use them. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 45 - THE POWER OF WORDS

No. 45
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
TWO KINDS OF KNOWLEDGE

From the earliest writings of man on cave walls (which came to be known as hieroglyphics), and in the past 6,000 years of recorded history, mankind has had a thirst for knowledge. This insatiable thirst for knowledge has been responsible for most of the technological advancements and other achievements that has moved our civilization forward to present time. It is not my intent today to delve into the past so much, but rather to share some practical thoughts and ideas that may be of value to you. The Bible says in Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." As a Christian and one who has a deep love for God, I certainly believe this and try to keep this perspective in everything I do.
As we function day-by-day in our own personal lives, there's another consideration of knowledge that should be brought to our conscious mind from time-to-time. Namely, there are two kinds of knowledge: one kind we call "intellectual" knowledge that comes as a result of our intellect and we acquire this knowledge through study and observation. The other kind of knowledge is "experiential" or knowledge that comes from our experience. Obviously to be successful in today's times we need both kinds of knowledge, but there is a stereotype in our society that may be keeping some people from becoming as successful as they could be.
In recent years, our society has almost come to deify the attainment of a college degree, and in many cases has looked upon the person who doesn't have one as being somewhat inferior. From my experience, I can tell you that a college degree does open many doors and it's a step in the right direction, but it does not guarantee success. There have been hundreds of times when I have been a paid featured or keynote speaker and I was the only one there who didn't have a college degree. They were paying me for my experience and for my proficiency in developing a skill. What I'm saying is this: don't ever suffer from low self-esteem just because you may not have a college degree. It's great if you can get it and I certainly recommend that, but if you don't, you can bridge the gap by your experience.
However, we should never be like the fella who didn't have 20 year's experience; he had one year's experience repeated 20 times. He never went on vacation because he was afraid he wouldn’t be missed. Another example is when I was in high school and our class went on a field trip to The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. One of the speakers told about a company that had a large generator that stopped working, and as a result the whole operation was shut down. Well, everyone in the company tried to get it started again, but with no success. Finally, they called in an "expert" and when he arrived and surveyed the problem, he took a little ballpeen hammer and went to a certain spot and tapped on it three times. It started immediately and the company was back in business.
In a few days, this "expert" sent the company a bill for $5,000. Since it only took about 10 minutes of his time, the company felt this was a little high, so they asked him to itemize his bill. The expert's new invoice contained these words: "Pecking on generator $10.00. Knowing where to peck, $4990.00." Granted, this expert probably had a college degree, but his experience was also very important. We are never bored when we are learning something useful and worthwhile. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 46 - TWO KINDS OF KNOWLEDGE

No. 46
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE WILLING SERVANT

The English clergyman and author Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) once said, “Money is the best bait to fish for man with.” If you should spend the next one hundred years searching for a room large enough to hold all the books that have been written about money and its related topics, you could not find it. In our modern society, money is something we all desire and something we must have to function in our day-to-day lives. The amount of money each of us needs, however, is determined by a wide variety of factors: the lifestyle we choose, where and how we live, government policy, inflation and individual responsibility, just to mention a few. The Bible says that "The love of money is the root of all evil." The Bible is true, but we must take note that it doesn't say that money is the root of all evil, rather it is the love of money.
Herein lies the problem that millions of people face, day-after-day in their personal lives. If you have a problem with money, either personally or in your home, I believe what I’m going to share will be of interest to you. It's my belief that many problems caused by money are due, by in large, by the way money is perceived. First, what is money? Well, money is a form of wealth, but in actuality money is simply a medium of exchange. It's what we use to exchange for goods and services we need and want. In addition to our physical needs, it's a new home, a vacation, a college degree and financial security for our retirement years. We earn money by providing a product or service to other people. When we satisfy their needs and wants, they in turn pay us or reward us with their money.
Here's what I meant when I said that most money problems are caused by the way money is perceived. Money, whether currency or coin, is a tangible object. You can see it and touch it. Money is really a "willing servant." It's what we use to serve us and that's really all it is. When we permit it to become more than that, it then becomes an emotional issue and emotion is not tangible. We can't see and touch our emotions. It's like the wind. The money that comes to us from one source or another is what we call income. The money we spend is called expenses and discretionary spending. Do your best to never fall into this trap: money is tangible and you can see it and touch it, you can receive it and you can spend it, but when your money begins to become an emotional issue is when real problems begin.
As you may know, the reason most marriages fail is because of money problems, namely debt. If a husband and wife would handle money as a tangible object and know they could not spend more than they jointly earn and would keep money from becoming an emotional issue, then most of their problems could be averted. On a related note, credit cards and quicksand have a lot in common. They will both swallow us alive. Over the years I have been guilty of trying to motivate people to earn more money, and certainly that's important in today's times, but if we would spend more time keeping money in perspective, we would all be happier and a lot of marriages wouldn't wind up in divorce.
As someone has said, "It's nice to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's also good to check up once in a while to make sure we haven't lost the things that money can't buy." I'd like to leave you with these words from the Wall Street Journal: "Money is an article which may be used as a universal passport to everywhere except heaven, and as a universal provider of everything except happiness." (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 47 - THE WILLING SERVANT

No. 47
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
ARE YOU PLAYING TO WIN?

As the famous golfer, Lee Trevino, a poor Mexican who became a rich Spaniard, has said, "There is one thing that never gets old and that's winning!" I'm sure you know that it's just human nature to want to win, but unfortunately in the larger game of life there are millions of people who aren't playing to win. These people are playing not to loose, and there is a big difference. To illustrate the concept of playing not to loose, please allow me to use an athletic example. If you are like I am, you spend at least some of your time watching sporting events in person or on television. While watching countless basketball games, I've seen one team play hard for about three-fourths of the game and get ahead by a considerable margin. Then for some reason their strategy changed and instead of playing to win, they started playing not to loose. In short, they started playing the clock instead of the other team. In some cases this strategy worked out, but more often than not, the team that was behind kept playing to win -- and they did.
Now I'd like to go back to what I was saying earlier about the millions of people who are playing not to loose in the only game that really counts: the game of life. Instead of developing a long range plan and setting some clearly defined goals that would enable them to take charge of their lives, they're simply marking time and hoping that nothing bad will happen to them. Each day these people live in fear that they will not loose their jobs, get sick or have an accident, that one or more of their kids will not get in trouble and they also fear that they won't be able to pay enough on their credit card balances to be able to keep them.
While I have no way of knowing about you or your circumstances, if you happen to be one of these people or know someone who is, I have some good news to share with you. We can lose more athletic contests than we win, but still be a real winner in the game of life. If I recall, when I was playing high school football, we only won about three games out of twenty in the two years I was on the team. What we need to keep in mind is that we all have our "ups" and "downs", our good days and bad days, our victories and our defeats, because that's what life is all about. The most important thing here is our attitude, our desire and our will to win.
The legendary Green Bay Packer football coach, Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning is not the main thing, it's the only thing!" Obviously his team didn't win every game, but when they went on the field, he had every one of his players mentally prepared to win. It should also be noted here that a true winner always plays by the rules. As this applies to you and me, we can't get ahead financially or any other way if we cheat or give less than our best at whatever we are doing. We see people who try this all the time and they may get away with it for a while, but sooner or later the scales will balance.
You know, the human mind is a wonderful tool and it will take us anywhere we want to go, but the key to our success is how we use it. Here's something I ran across by an unknown author that will bring this thought into clear focus: "Great minds have noble objectives, high purposes and daring dreams; average minds engage themselves in wishful thinking and petty dabblings in little ventures; small minds are content to complain why life has passed them by." To close out with a baseball example, just remember, a bloop single looks like a line drive in the box score the next day. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 48 - ARE YOU PLAYING TO WIN?

No. 48
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE FOUR PLANTS

The famous educator Horace Mann once said, "A habit is a cable. We weave a thread of it every day and at last we cannot break it." There is little question that our habits wield a tremendous influence over our lives and when the day comes that we write the final chapter, they can literally mean the difference between our success or failure. In this column I'd like to share some thoughts and ideas about "habits" and if you aren't happy with some of yours, then hopefully these suggestions will enable you to develop new and better habits that will make you a happier and more successful person.
To illustrate the power of "habits", I would like to share this story which I have had tucked away in my files for some time. It begins this way: "One day a wise old teacher was taking a stroll through a forest and a youthful companion was by his side. The teacher suddenly stopped and took the time to point out four plants that were close at hand. The first plant was a tiny sprout, just coming out of the earth. The second plant had rooted itself quite firmly in the fertile soil. The third plant was a small shrub. The fourth plant had grown into a well developed tree.
At this point, the teacher said to his youthful companion, "Pull up the first plant." The youngster pulled it up quite easily with his fingers. "Now, pull up the second." The young lad obeyed and with slight effort the plant came up, roots and all. "And now, the third." The young lad pulled with one hand and then the other, but it would not come. Then he took both hands and the plant finally yielded to all of his strength. "And now," said the wise old teacher, "try the fourth." The young lad grasped the trunk of the tree and pulled with all his might, but hardly a leaf moved to acknowledge the best he had to give. At this point, the wise old teacher said, "My son, you have just demonstrated the power that your habits will have over your life." Then the young lad understood the principle he was trying to teach him.
While I'm sure many of you already know this, for the benefit of other readers, let me define the word "habit." A habit is any action that we have preformed often enough and long enough so that we repeat the action without having to consciously think about it. When it comes to developing new and better habits, there's one element in the process that is very important to understand. As a general rule we don't break habits, we replace them. When we quit repeatedly doing one thing, something else comes along to fill the void. Psychologists and others in the behavioral sciences have determined that it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit. Here is how to go about forming a new habit.
First, determine the new desired habit and perform the action while it's fresh on your mind, then repeat it as often as possible throughout the day. Make yourself a little note and place it where you will be sure and see it the first thing each morning. Again, repeat the desired habit when it's practical to do so and continue this process as often as possible in the coming days. Do this for 21 consecutive days and it will have become a habit and in the future you will just do it without having to consciously think about it. While it may be too obvious to mention, the key to success is to form "success habits" and it's certainly worth the effort. As the English novelist George Eliot puts it, “A habit is that beneficent harness of routine, which enables silly men to live respectably and happy men to live calmly.” (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 49 - THE FOUR PLANTS

No. 49
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE LAW OF ABUNDANCE

If you are living in America, have you ever wondered why our nation has become the greatest economic success story in the history of the world? In the event you don't know, there are two basic reasons why this is true. The first being that our system of government allows private citizens to own property and production facilities and to produce products and services and sell them to consumers for a profit. To say it very simply, we have the incentive and the freedom to achieve personal success. While just as important, the second reason is that our nation was blessed with tremendous natural resources. We have an abundance of clean water, fertile soil, timber, petroleum and minerals that are needed to produce these products in vast quantities.
While the age of technology has changed the way we do things, the key element in our success is that we produce far more than we need for our own use and this "surplus" is what drives the engine of trade and commerce. To continue this line of thinking, I want to talk about the "LAW OF ABUNDANCE" and how this law can help you in many different ways. The LAW OF ABUNDANCE is a natural law and we know a "natural" law is a series of events in nature that has been observed to occur with unvarying uniformity. The key word is "unvarying." In other words, if the conditions and circumstances are exactly the same, then the result or the outcome of our actions will also be the same.
As the LAW OF ABUNDANCE relates to each of us, when we know about this law and understand it, we can then use it to our advantage. In this sense, a natural law then becomes a success law. While I'm not talking about just "making" money, who among us doesn't want to achieve financial success? What many of us fail to realize is that we live in a prosperous nation, but unfortunately there are millions of our citizens who don't share in this prosperity. While it may be too obvious to even mention, the reason this is true is because of their low self-esteem and their negative thinking.
Now if I happen to be talking about you or someone you love, quit thinking that there's not enough to go around. Everything we could possibly wish for has been placed within our easy reach. It was certainly intended that everyone who wished for abundance and worked toward it can have abundance. Just think about this: there is sufficient electricity in the water of a creek to furnish the power of a million slaves. There is enough atomic energy in the substance we could hold in one hand to run the world. If every person produced to his utmost and we did away with strikes, monopolies, crime and waste, everyone could have his needs supplied many times over.
On a more personal basis, think about the fact that a handful of seed sown in fertile soil, watered and cared for, can produce millions of times more than the original planting. A whole forest can spring from a single acorn. This is the LAW OF ABUNDANCE at work and it operates in the mental, social, financial and spiritual areas of our lives, as well. The essence of this law is that you must believe in abundance. You must think abundance. You must raise your sights for greater accomplishments and let no thought of failure or limitation enter your mind.
One of the great concerns I have is that the economic gap between the rich and the poor is widening in this country. If every American understood the “LAW OF ABUNDANCE”, and how to apply it to their own lives, we would all be better off in the future. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 50 - THE LAW OF ABUNDANCE

No. 50
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
FIVE STAGES OF FAITH

One of the many things that affects each of our lives on a daily basis is something we call faith. But what is faith? The Bible says that "faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen." I especially like the definition of faith used by my former business partner, the late Bob Gannaway: "faith is the bird that feels the dawn and sings before the darkness is gone." From the time we first open our eyes in the morning till we drop off to sleep at night, we exercise our faith in a variety of ways. When we get on an airplane these days, it takes a great deal of faith and when we eat at a restaurant, we have faith that the food is clean and not contaminated. There are countless other examples and of course there is our religious faith, which is a very important part of life.
What I want to share today however, has to do with faith, but from a little different perspective. I want to discuss faith as it relates to the good ideas that come into our lives. It has been said that the world runs on good ideas and I personally know this is true. With few exceptions, every single invention or product we see about us at one time was just an idea in someone's mind. Just think of the thousands and thousands of products in a discount chain store and it will help you visualize more clearly what I mean. In a much larger sense, our overall success in life will depend, at least to some degree, on the quality and quantity of the good ideas we develop an put to productive use.
One of the key ingredients to developing any good idea is our faith. Whatever the need or the problem, our faith goes through at least five different states from the original idea to the final outcome. The first stage is called the "nesting" stage. This is when the idea first comes into the mind and like a bird setting on her eggs in a nest, it merely sets there for a while. Just as it takes time for a bird egg to hatch, it's important to understand that any great idea takes time to develop.
The second stage is called the "testing" stage. After the idea has incubated a while, during this period of time we begin to test the idea to see if it's sound and has any real merit. The third stage is called the "investing" stage. If the idea has gone through a systematic series of tests and proves to be sound, it's time to invest more time, energy, money and other resources to move it closer to becoming a reality. Now I want to warn you: the fourth stage is where "the rubber meets the road", and this is called the "arresting" stage. This is the period of time when you will encounter more obstacles than you ever dreamed possible. You'll doubt yourself a million times and feel like you have made a big mistake. It's right here that most people fail, because they quit and never make it to the fifth and final stage. This is the "cresting" stage, and it's reserved for a very small group of people, those brave souls whose faith kept them on course until the idea became a reality. These are the people who received the payoff, reached the mountain top and took the victory lap.
Now a personal application: whatever you set out to do, if it requires some measure of faith, large or small, just remember the five stages the idea must go through if it's to prove successful and become a reality. Again, these are the NESTING, TESTING, INVESTING, ARRESTING AND CRESTING stages. Why not repeat these to yourself several times and as you visualize them, they will become very clear. However, to place things in perspective, just remember, genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 51 - FIVE STAGES OF FAITH

No, 51
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

CHILDREN AND FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE

At one time or another, can you remember hearing some parent say, "My kids think that money grows on trees?" If you have never heard this, loosely translated it means that some children think there is an unending supply of money and for whatever they think they need or want, their parents should have enough to buy it for them. When I was growing up, my parents were good, honest people, but we didn't have a lot of money. We certainly were not destitute and had plenty to eat, a warm place to live and decent clothes to wear, but beyond this, at times things were pretty "lean." To be honest, I guess the thing that has motivated me more than anything else is that I saw so many of the other kids in our small town who had so much more than I did.
One year during the summer, when I had just finished the seventh grade, I remember
chopping cotton for four ten-hour days, for $4.00 per day. When I got paid 16 crisp one-dollar bills, I thought I was rich! Of course, in some circles today that $16.00 won't even buy a good steak. This experience helped to shape my values and I truly believe the only way to appreciate the value of money is to earn it. When a young person earns their money by the sweat of their brow they not only know its value, the chances are much better that they will spend it wisely and may even save part of it.
What I'm saying that may be of interest to you, especially if you have children or grandchildren you are rearing, is that most of our financial habits are learned while we are young. Trying to teach a 16 year old youngster financial responsibility is a little late. It's not impossible, but it's much easier when they are younger. To my way of thinking, one of the greatest problems we have in America today is parents who give their children too much money and material things without them having to earn it. Just think of all the divorces that come about because one or both of the marriage partners never learned the value of money or how to manage it.
Please consider this true story and how you might be able to use it to help someone you love. It seems a father had an eleven year old son who always wanted to borrow money, in addition to what he was being paid for doing assigned chores and odd jobs. So the father said, "What will you give me as collateral on a $35.00 loan?" At this point the father explained what the word "collateral" meant and the son said he had a skateboard and a stereo set that he would give him to keep until the loan was repaid. Over the coming weeks a few payments were made on time, then one day he missed a payment, so the father sold his skateboard. Later when the son missed another payment, the father sold his stereo set. Quite naturally this made the son very unhappy, but the father reported that this son never asked to borrow money again. You may think this was cruel, but just try to keep in mind that quite often the best lessons in life are learned the hard way. I say this because here is the rest of the story. Ten years later this same son said, "Dad, there is just no way you will ever know how much I appreciate what you have done for me in regards to managing my finances."
When we have lots of money, it's the easiest thing on earth to give, because there are few who will refuse it. From my heart to yours, if you really want to do something special for your children and grandchildren that has lasting value, teach them to work, save and invest a percentage of their money. Few are they that learn this, but it’s a great lesson. (EDITORS NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 52 - CHILDREN AND FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE

No. 52

The next password is caleb

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
MAKING WISE DECISIONS

It has been said that a decision is what a person makes when he or she can't find anybody to serve on a committee. This is certainly true in an organizational sense, but as it relates to each individual person, you will find the most successful people are the ones who have the knack of making right and timely decisions most of the time. Now I said "most" of the time because if we do anything at all, we are bound to make some misteaks. In fact, the only people who don't make them are dead.
If you will also think about your life, I believe you will agree that we are where we are, right, wrong, good, bad or indifferent, because of our ability or inability to make wise decisions. One of the primary reasons decision making is so difficult for many people is because these skills have not traditionally been taught in our nation's schools. Most of us have never had a course titled How To Make Decisions. Although I've been out of school for some time I can't remember ever hearing it discussed. Rather, in most cases we make our decisions based on emotion, habit or spur of the moment, erroneous information and trial and error.
In the case of trial and error, if we make a mistake and the consequences are too severe, as a rational thinking person, we try not to make that same mistake again. It's just common sense to realize that making the wrong decision at a critical time in our life can lead to some very serious problems. This is an excellent reason why a "made-up" mind is so important when it comes to making moral and ethical choices. In other words, the decision to do or not to do certain things has already been made.
There are a great number of factors involved in making right and timely decisions, however it is not an exact science, but there is a decision making concept based on logic and a step-by-step sequence that will definitely improve our odds. Before I share it with you, let me warn you that the number one problem in making decisions is something we call procrastination. This means to put off making the decision based on the notion that the problem will somehow go away or solve itself.
Following is a decision making concept: first, state the problem very clearly and write it down on paper where you can see it. There is a lot of truth in the saying, "A problem well stated is a problem half solved." Next, answer these simple questions in relation to your problem: 1) What will happen if I don't make this decision? 2) What will happen if I do?
3) Who are the people this decision will affect? 4) What are the different ways it will affect them? 5) What will it cost in human terms and also in money, if I make this decision?
6) What will it cost in these two vital areas if I don't? 7) Based on my best judgment, when is the best possible time to make this decision?
You have probably heard the saying, "There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over." This is true when it comes to taking time to prepare for good decision making just like it takes time to prepare for a successful life. There are times when a "snap" decision or judgment must be made right on the spot, but even then this advance mental preparation will help you make wise and timely decisions a higher percentage of the time. Until our next visit, I want to acknowledge that “making wise decisions” is not an exciting topic. Really, it’s kinda boring. However, if you get this one right, there will be many more exciting things in your future. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

The next password is caleb

No. 27 - MAKING WISE DECISIONS

No. 27
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
ATTITUDE AND THE SELF-IMAGE

Have you ever wondered why some people have a negative, pessimistic attitude about most things while others are generally positive and up-beat? Based on many years of work in the field of human resources, it's my personal belief that the answer to this dilemma, while very simple, is not understood by the majority of people. Since these individuals don't really understand it, they don't know how to go about changing a negative attitude to a positive attitude, and in the process, living a happier, more productive and successful life.
=The reason one person is positive and up-beat while another is negative and pessimistic, is because our overall attitude and our outlook on life is a reflection of our self-image. In other words, what's "taking place" on the inside shows up on the outside. Because this discovery was made in the past 50 years, many people did not learn about it in school or later in life, as they moved out into the world.
Almost by chance, a plastic surgeon, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, discovered the concept of self-image and later wrote about it in his book, titled Psychocybernetics, which has sold in excess of fifteen million copies. As Dr. Maltz worked with his patients to change their physical appearances with the aid of plastic surgery, he began to notice a definite, marked change in their attitude and their willingness to tackle jobs and assume risks that would have been considered impossible before.
Further research revealed that an outward physical change was also accompanied by an inner emotional change. Thus the conclusion was reached: the self-image is the mental picture we hold of ourselves and this mental picture relates to both the "outer" and "inner" person and it literally controls our lives. In fact the discovery of the self-image has been called the most important psychological discovery of the twentieth century. When an individual holds a positive picture of himself, he performs better than when he holds a negative picture. In a very real sense, a ‘winner’ feeds on his or her success.
The real meat of the coconut can be found in this statement: The human nervous system cannot distinguish between actual true life experiences from those imagined in vivid detail in the mind. In other words, we must see ourselves as successful and begin to act this way before it will ever come to pass. There is however, a real pitfall that we must take steps to avoid. In recent years many schools have developed courses to help students develop a healthy self-image. While the intent is great, many times the methods have been found wanting. It takes more than telling a student or any human being that he or she is a good person with real value because a healthy self-image is not based merely on words but on solid achievement. Our subconscious mind can tell the difference between praise and performance. To say it another way, nothing truly worthwhile is ever easy.
Since our rewards in life are determined by the quality and quantity of service we provide to others, it's important to understand that our value to society is determined by what we make of ourselves. We can change our life for the better by changing our self-image, which is simply the way we see ourselves, both physically and emotionally, that is to say, from both the outside and the inside. It also becomes easier to help other people when we understand the reasons behind their negative attitudes. It’s a wonderful thing to help a person change his or her self-image and begin to see the winner God created them to be. In reality, the more we help others, the more we help ourselves. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

The next column password is: Caleb

No. 28 - ATTITUDE AND THE SELF-IMAGE

No. 28
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
SEVEN STAGES OF A MARRIAGE COLD

It's been said that "marriage is a deal in which a man gives away half of his groceries in order to get the other half cooked." While there may be some truth in this humorous definition, the institution of marriage is very important to the success of our nation, and a good marriage is certainly to be treasured.
If you are a married person or planning to get married, I believe you will enjoy this little story I discovered some time ago. It's called, "The Seven Stages Of A Marriage Cold." This story has been around for some time and I'm not sure where it came from originally, but it illustrates the fact that in most cases the happy, blissful state of marriage goes downhill with the passing of time.
While it certainly doesn't have to be this way, and there are exceptions to the rule, the first few days, weeks and even months of marriage are usually very happy times. As you read this story, just keep in mind that each stage of the cold represents one more year of marriage, by the way the wife's cold is handled by the husband.
Seven Stages of a Marriage Cold
First year: The husband says, "Sugar Dumplin', I'm worried about my baby girl. You've got a bad sniffle and I'm putting you in the hospital for a general check-up and a good rest. I know the food is lousy, but I'll have your meals brought in from the deli. I've already got it arranged."
Second year: "Listen, Darling, I don't like the sound of your cough. I've called Dr. Miller to rush over here. Now go to bed like a good girl, please, just for your old dear papa."
Third year: "Honey, maybe you had better lie down. Nothing like a little rest when you feel puny. I'll bring you something to eat. Do we have any soup in the house?"
Fourth year: "Look, Dear, be sensible! After you feed the kids and get all the dishes washed, maybe you'd better hit the sack for a while."
Fifth year: "Why don't you get up and get yourself an aspirin? And stop complaining so much!"
Sixth year: "If you would gargle or something, instead of sitting around and barking in my face like a seal, I would appreciate it!"
Seventh year: "For Pete's sake, stop sneezing! What are you trying to do? Give me pneumonia?"
If you are a married person, I hope you have one of the happiest marriages to be found anywhere, whether you have been married for three days or fifty years. I'm sure you know, marriage is one of the most basic and most important institutions in our society.
Let's keep in mind that a successful marriage is built on mutual trust, love and a lifetime commitment to each other. I believe someone said it best with these words: "Marriage is not looking at each other, it is looking in the same direction together." (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 29 - THE WORST GUILT OF ALL

No. 29
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE WORST GUILT OF ALL

There is a little five letter word called "guilt" that most people suffer from at one time or another, and if it's not dealt with and handled properly, the consequences can be devastating. The primary reason guilt is so difficult to deal with is because complete freedom or release from guilt often involves some deep soul searching, a confession or at least admitting our shortcomings. To confess or admit we are wrong goes against basic human nature and this is especially true for the person who has poor self-esteem. The British statesman and author Edmund Burke (1729-1797) had this to say about it, “Guilt is never a rational thing; it distorts all the faculties of the human mind, it perverts them. It leaves a man no longer in the free use of his reason, it puts him into confusion.” I might also mention in passing that Edmund Burke was highly esteemed and one of the foremost thinkers of his day. I believe you will agree that guilt is a load too heavy to carry.
Here it might be appropriate to ask you a couple of very pertinent questions. What's inside a person who feels guilty that causes him to feel this way? Are we born with a mechanism that makes us feel guilty, or is it an instinct or attribute we have to develop? Personally, I think it's both. We are each born with a conscience, which has been defined as "the faculty by which distinctions are made between moral right and wrong, especially in regard to ones' own conduct." In other words, because we are each born with a conscience, we therefore have the inherent or built-in capacity to know whether what we do is right or wrong. It's how we use this built-in faculty that has a lot to do with whether or not we feel guilty. I believe this little allegory will help you see what I'm saying.
Our conscience, figuratively speaking, can be compared to a triangle inside our hearts. When we do something that we instinctively know is wrong, the triangle turns and the corners prick our heart and it hurts. When we continue to commit acts we know are wrong, the triangle keeps turning and before long the edges are rounded off and worn smooth and it no longer hurts. At this point, it is often said, "he has no conscience." This isn't true; this person still has a conscience, but it's become so dull from misuse that it no longer makes him feel guilty or has any bearing on his actions.
If we are to live happy, successful and well-adjusted lives, we should feel guilty when we lie, steal, cheat or commit crimes against an individual or society. Otherwise, we will be totally insensitive to the needs of the people around us. The power of guilt is evident when we see people who have committed serious crimes and they feel such guilt for what they have done, they actually want to be punished. It's very important for us to deal with the day-to-day problems and decisions that are the source of much of our guilt; however there is a deeper and much more serious root problem that brings about the worst guilt of all. This is the awareness, deep in the innermost part of our beings, that God has given us tremendous talents and abilities He wants us to develop and use to serve Him and our fellow human beings. When we don't develop and use what He has given us, it creates a void. As a result, we experience a form of deep-seated guilt that gnaws at us regardless of where we go or what we do. There is only one solution to this problem and that's to put our heart and soul into those activities that we deem worthy of our time. It's even better if we can find some real purpose in life. It's only when we do our best with what God has given us that we feel good about ourselves. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 30 - WHO ARE THE GIFTED?

No. 30
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
WHO ARE THE GIFTED?

In today's times we often hear the statement, "he or she is a very gifted person," but have you ever thought about what this statement really means? In checking my dictionary, the word "gifted" is defined as 'one having or showing great natural ability or one who is talented.' As it's used in this context, the word gifted is really a label that is used to identify a person as being a 'cut above' the average or one who has been blessed with extraordinary talent.
In recent years we have learned a great deal about the self-image and the tremendous power it has over our lives. We have also come to realize that one of the most powerful and damaging things we can do to another human being is to pin a negative label on them. In most cases, without even realizing it, when we refer to other people as dumb, stupid, idiot or morons, we have not only pinned a label on them, we are giving them mental pictures of themselves that sooner or later they will begin to accept as true.
The converse of this statement is also true. When we pin positive labels on people, such as brilliant, smart, intelligent and gifted, they begin to visualize themselves in a different light and form mental pictures that create potential for full use of their talents and abilities. I did not use labels here that have to do with a person's outward physical appearance, since a quick glance in the mirror is all it takes to prove or disprove whether this kind of label is valid.
In relation to the emphasis our nation's educators are placing on identifying gifted and talented students, if used in the proper way, I personally believe this new focus has some merit, because we all know as technology continues to advance we will need our very best minds to help us solve problems. There is, however, a great danger in this new focus, as illustrated in an article titled, "Who Are The Gifted?", written by Wilbert Larson of Fort Collins, Colorado. Mr. Larson points out that Albert Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven years old before he could read. Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school, Beethoven's music teacher once said of him, "as a composer, he is hopeless." When Thomas Edison was a boy, his teacher told him that he was "too stupid to learn anything." A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had "no good ideas." Caruso's music teacher told him, "You can't sing! You have no voice at all." Leo Tolstoy, author of War And Peace, flunked out of college. Abraham Lincoln entered the Black Hawk War as a captain and came out as a private!! Fred Waring was once rejected from high school chorus and Winston Churchill failed the sixth-grade.
If we know these examples of where people did not fare well in the beginning, but later turned out to be world famous, how many others could have been, if someone had not pinned a negative label on them or destroyed their confidence by ridicule? Yes, labels are very powerful and we need to be careful. When we look at any person, young or old, we just never know who are the truly gifted.
A final thought with reference to our nation’s educators. What I am sharing here is not meant to demean or detract from the good job you are doing. I’m simply pointing out that we should never ‘give up’ on a student, or any person for that matter, who may not possess obvious talents and skills. There are many people who are ‘late bloomers’ who do not achieve real success until later in life. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 31 - STRAIGHT TALK THAT PAID OFF

No. 31
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
STRAIGHT TALK THAT PAID OFF

The Golden Rule is to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", but there is another golden rule that also affects the lives of many people. This could be called the Economic Golden Rule, and it can be summed up with these words: "He who has the gold makes the rule." Because we live in a materialistic society, it's important to also understand this other golden rule, otherwise life can be very frustrating.
One of the greatest blessings I have in traveling and making speeches is that I get to meet and know so many fine people. This personal contact with people in all areas of society is where I get most of the ideas and concepts for this newspaper column. However I realize a good idea in itself is of little value to you unless I can show you how to use it and how to turn it into a benefit for your own life. Some time ago, I was visiting with a businessman in south Mississippi and he told me a true story involving one of his employees that contains a very important principle.
It seems the mother of one of his employees had died recently and the employee was fast becoming an alcoholic. Word was beginning to spread that he was talking 'smart' to some of the other employees. Well, the problem reached the point that it became necessary for my new friend to call him into his office. When he did, he closed the door behind him. After they chatted a moment, my friend looked him straight in the eye and called his name. He said, "You know your mother would not be proud of you and the way you are acting. You have a choice. You can either make your mother proud of you or you can become a drunk. But you are not going to be a drunk and work for me."
My friend went on to say, "I don't want your answer now. I want to give you a few days to think about it, but come Monday, you come in sober and be ready to work, or be ready to leave." Well, that was almost ten years ago and the man is still there and has become an excellent employee. He later told his boss, "Mr. Moore, I ain't never had anyone talk to me like that."
You see, with my friend, it was not just an employee with a problem, it was a human being that he really cared about. One of the deepest psychological needs we have is to know that other people care about us and that we are needed and appreciated. As an aside to this true story, the lack of personal concern and caring is why many management people fail when it comes to dealing with employees who have problems. In many cases they treat them impersonally, yet wonder why their turnover rate is so high.
Another amusing part of the story about my friend's wayward employee is when still another employee was having a problem and this man told him, "You better straighten up. You don't want to go into the boss's office and have him close the door behind you." There is not doubt about it, my friend had made a believer out of him!
As I bring this story to a close, there are several obvious things some of us can learn from this experience. In many cases, it's hard to find another person who cares enough about us to look us straight in the eye and tell us the truth. The truth may hurt, but it's better to hear it and do something about it than go on living with the problem. Of course, the primary reason the employee's problem was solved was because the 'Economic Golden Rule' came into play. "He who has the gold makes the rule." Sometimes all it takes is the thought of losing our job to change our attitude and our behavior. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 32 - SOME OL' FASHIONED MANNERS

No. 32
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
SOME OL' FASHIONED MANNERS

We've all heard some person make the comment, "I want to give my child a head start in the world." There is no better way to prepare a young person for success in life than to teach them respect for authority, to respect the rights and property of others, and above all, the importance of good manners, because all other educational experience will pale in comparison. To go a step further, self-respect is at the bottom of all good manners. They are the expression of discipline, of good will, of respect for other people’s rights and comforts and feelings.
For over twenty five years I've worked with our nation's public schools as a businessman consultant and during this time I spent many hours attempting to motivate students and teach them about the American free enterprise system. As I would begin each session I could usually tell which students had received discipline and moral training at home and which ones had not. I have found the most accurate barometer for making a determination of this kind is a child's manners.
If they responded to my questions or other forms of interaction with the simple words, "yes, sir", "no, sir", "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome", I knew without a doubt they were willing and eager to learn. On the other hand, in a few situations where I was not shown the courtesy and respect that should have been afforded any guest, I knew some valuable time would be wasted as I had to first prepare them to learn.
To illustrate what I'm saying, please let me share this true story with you. For several years I had been calling on a particular school superintendent, attempting to sell him my services, but he would never purchase any of my materials or even let me talk with his teachers. However, when I called on him some time ago, I sensed that something was different. After about thirty minutes, he invited me to come talk with his teachers and then he went on to tell me why. In this town of about 1,500 people, the school had just had their Junior-Senior Awards Program and it was conducted entirely by students. He said the program was a real disaster. The bad language, dirty jokes and the way these students conducted themselves was embarrassing and humiliating to the administrators and the teachers.
As he said, "it was a good thing the school board and the parents were not there." The situation had finally shocked him into realizing that something had to be done. Well, it
should have been done a long time before, starting at home, by parents teaching these young people good manners, along with some old fashioned discipline, but when they arrived at school they still needed leadership by example, by both administrators and teachers. Many schools have discipline; students are taught respect and you would never hear bad language or dirty jokes in any school program. In the case of this superintendent, it all comes back to his own childhood.
If you have never thought about it before and have children or grandchildren of your own, I would like to suggest for your consideration, if you want to give them a head start in life, teach them to say, "yes, sir", "no, sir", "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome." As the twig in bent, so grows the tree. Do something special for these young people and it will be like the soap commercial we've all seen: "what a nice reflection on you." It will be great for them and it will also be good for America. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 33 - YOU CAN'T SINK HALF A SHIP

No. 33
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
YOU CAN'T SINK HALF A SHIP

The legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, "No one ever fails in life until he blames someone else." Unfortunately, many people in our prosperous nation were never taught that accepting responsibility for themselves and their actions is the most visible sign of maturity. This is a personal quality that will contribute greatly to individual success and it's also a vital need, if we are to preserve our freedom in the perilous and ever changing times in which we live.
As it relates to our personal and collective freedom, I would like to ask you to create this scene in your mind: just before the break of dawn one cold winter morning, a family is standing out in the street in their pajamas, watching their home burn to the ground. As they huddle together and hear the distant sound of the fire truck on its way to the fire, they begin to think about the loss of their most cherished possessions, many of which can never be replaced. But at this moment, they are thankful just to be alive.
Now, as we all know, this scene actually takes place thousands of times each year in America and many families are not as fortunate as those I've just described, as their lives are lost in the tragedy of a home fire. There are also many of our nation's firemen who perish in the line of duty. However, for those who are fortunate enough to escape with their lives, they can start over and rebuild. In a few years, in most cases, their lives can be back to 'normal.'
The example I've just shared with you is meant to graphically illustrate that everything is relative. We don't appreciate fair weather until we have suffered through several weeks of rain or snow. Most of us don't appreciate good health until we have had an accident or a prolonged illness of some kind. Most won't appreciate freedom until we come face-to-face with the distinct possibility of losing it.
One time I heard the late Dr. Ken McFarland, noted speaker, author and guest lecturer for General Motors, tell the story about the first mate of a ship who rushed up to the captain and said, "Sir, the ship is sinking!" to which the captain calmly replied, "Let 'er go, she ain't ours." Dr. McFarland then went on to make a very important point, as he said, "If we are on a ship, it is ours, regardless of who owns it." You see, when a ship goes down, every person who is on it goes down with it. In other words, "you can't sink half a ship."
The reasons are many, but the United States of America is sailing through some tough social and economic seas just now, as we struggle to pay off our national debt and we have many social problems begging for a solution. If we are to maintain our precious freedom, as American citizens we all need to accept responsibility for ourselves and our actions and we must believe it's possible. This principle also applies to our homes, our jobs and careers, and especially how we treat those around us. To show love, kindness and concern for others is a sign of maturity.
In the wake of the tragic shootings in our country we should all get on our knees and pray to God that He will heal the wounds of our society. I’m deeply concerned, as I’m sure you are, for the citizens of our country, especially for our young people because they are our hope for the future. Just remember this thought, you can't sink half a ship. The whole ship stays up or the whole ship goes down, and it is yours, if you are on it. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 65 - A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY REQUEST

No. 65
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY REQUEST

It has been said that "A birthday is a big event in everybody's life -- it should be a holiday -- with pay." This sounds like a great idea, except for those of us who are self-employed. In this case, we would have to pay ourselves. While I enjoy the cards, phone calls, gifts and usually a birthday dinner, it's really a special day for my wife. Viola is a lovely and caring person and on her birthday she has many friends who call and take her out to brunch and dinner, as well as express their love in a variety of ways.
It seems the older we get the more special our birthdays become. If you are getting along in years, too, you may appreciate this story about a 90 year old man. When someone asked him how he felt when he woke up in the morning, he said, "surprised!" Isn't it wonderful what technology has done for people all over the world? We are living longer and enjoying it more. Aside from this personal reference about our birthdays and a little levity, I'd like to redirect our focus to a wonderful little story that contains some principles that could help any of us.
This is a story about a small crippled boy who was very hunched-back. When asked by his father what he wanted most of all for his birthday, he said he wanted a life-sized statue in the likeness of himself, except tall and straight and he wanted it placed right outside his window. The father complied with his request and each day, the young lad would stand and strain, looking up, admiring the likeness of what he longed to be. On his 21st birthday, he walked out in the yard and without having to strain, he looked the statue right straight in the eye.
If you will think about this story for a moment, I believe you will see some principles here that can help any of us who have a desire to improve ourselves in some way. First, this youngster, to some degree, was handicapped. He was crippled and he was hunched-back. Now, no one likes to endure pain and many handicapped people also have to overcome stereotyping, which simply means they have been looked down on, thought inferior and many people are embarrassed to be around a handicapped person, much less be willing to give them a job. While the overall treatment of the handicapped and providing greater opportunities for them is a topic for another column, I'm proud that we have made a great deal of progress in this country over the past several years.
But back to the story of the young lad who for years had been admiring the likeness of what he longed to be: Isn't this also true for us? Don't we need to see ourselves as the person we can become, rather than the person we are? In reality, this is the secret of all achievement. When we know who we are, where we want to go and then develop a plan to get there, it’s just a matter of time until we succeed. The key word in this whole story is “longed” which is just another word for desire. You show me a ‘winner’ in any field of endeavor and I will show you a person who had a deep down longing or desire to achieve it.
We also need good models around us -- people we can look up to, admire and pattern our lives after. While it's my personal opinion which you may or may not share, I believe one of the real problems we have in America today is that we don't have enough good role models. In the case of this young lad, the role model was his father, which is exactly as it should be. When it comes to being a good role model, what’s important to realize is that many great opportunities are available to you and me. Let’s make the most of these opportunities when we have the chance. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 66 - ADDLED ADS

No. 66
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
ADDLED ADS

It has been said that if we wish to live a happy, well adjusted life, we should take what we do seriously, but we should not take ourselves too seriously. This is especially true when it comes to making mistakes. One day I heard the late Earl Nightingale say, “If you will watch what the crowd is doing and do exactly the opposite, you will probably never make another mistake as long as you live.” The truth is, we all make mistakes and while I'm sure they make many mistakes that I don't even see, every once in a while our local newspaper makes a real "doozie" and true to form, in a few days a reader writes a "Letter to the Editor" to take them to task.
To my way of thinking, it's very important to be conscientious and do our best work, but in real life, if we were doing anything at all, we are bound to make some mistakes. To place what I'm saying in perspective, I would like to share something I ran across, titled "Addled Ads", from the collection of The National Composition Association. Back in the old days, before the computer came along, these are the folks who used to set type for the major newspapers across the country. The article starts off this way: "For sale, a used sewing machine. Call Mr. Tom Kelly at 555-3455 after seven o'clock and ask for Mrs. Perkins, who lives with him cheap." The next day in the paper there was a correction for this ad: "Correction: an error appeared in Mr. Tom Kelly's advertisement yesterday. It should have read: For sale, a used sewing machine cheap. Call Mr. Tom Kelly at 555-3455 and ask for Mrs. Perkins who lives with him after seven o'clock." The next day there was another correction: "Mr. Tom Kelly has reported several annoying telephone calls as a result of a classified advertisement that appeared in this newspaper yesterday. The ad stands corrected: "For sale, a used sewing machine cheap. Call Mr. Tom Kelly after seven o'clock at 555-3455, and ask for Mrs. Perkins who loves with him." The next day the paper carried the following notice: "I, Tom Kelly, no longer have a used sewing machine for sale. I took an axe and smashed it. I also no longer have a housekeeper. Mrs. Perkins resigned yesterday."
There are several reasons why I wanted to share this with you. First, it's a wonderful example of "Murphy's Law" -- anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. To me, and maybe to you, it was very humorous, but at the time I can assure you it was not funny to Mr. Tom Kelly. We have to be very careful when we start having fun at someone else's expense. As the old saying goes, "what goes around comes around." The primary reason, however, that I wanted to share this with you is because of my own personal experience in the printing business.
About 30 years ago, I was a printing salesman for a large commercial printer in Little Rock, Arkansas. In spite of the best efforts of our company to produce "error free" work, very seldom did we produce a print job that contained a large number of pages of "type" that didn't have some mistakes. You could find them later, but very seldom could you catch them all before press time, especially when you were under a deadline. So, the next time you see a mistake in your local newspaper, if you feel you must point it out, do so in a constructive way, because a critical spirit never helps anyone. What we all need to remember is that "to err is human, but to forgive is divine." If we overlook the mistakes of others, maybe they will overlook ours. To be honest, I would never make it were it not for God’s grace. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 67 - ALONG THE MARGINAL WAY

No. 67
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
ALONG THE MARGINAL WAY

If you'll come along, I would like to invite you to take a wonderful trip that literally produced enough memories to last me a lifetime. Early one Saturday morning, this past October, my wife, Viola and I, along with our good friends, Fay and Deveryl Smith, boarded a Delta flight bound for Hartford, Connecticut. For me this was the fulfillment of a long awaited goal to visit the New England states during the peak foliage season. We were met at the Hartford/Springfield Airport by some precious people, Charles and Hope Rice, who live at nearby Enfield and they were our unofficial hosts while we were in the area. Deveryl and Hope had been childhood friends back in Arkansas and they have maintained their friendship over the years. It was super nice to have these dear people to greet and dine us and then send us on our way the next morning, in our rental station wagon.
We had already decided to take the back roads without any itinerary and see all the sights at a very leisurely pace. Each of the five states we visited was different and the whole New England area was just beautiful, with the mountains ablaze with color! It is impossible to share all the highlights in this column, but for me the greatest blessing of all came from something that was totally unexpected. Near the end of the following week we spent the night at York Beach, Maine, and the next morning during a phone conversation, Hope told Deveryl to be sure and see "The Marginal Way" at Ogunquit, which was only a few miles away.
None of us knew what to expect and when we arrived, we were not overly impressed, as it turned out to be just a one mile paved walking trail. The trail, called "The Marginal Way", begins at Perkins Cove, where a lot of gift shops and restaurants and a charter boat service is located. The air that morning was a little chilly, so the girls said they had rather visit the gift shops and would be along in a while, so Fay and I went across the parking lot to start our journey up the trail. Almost from the beginning, it rises in elevation as it curves and winds its way through the scrub brush up to the top of the cliffs, where you can see and hear the ocean waves as they crash onto the jagged rocks over 100 feet below. It only took a few minutes for both of us to realize that our initial reaction was wrong and that we were experiencing something very special.
As we walked along, drinking in the majestic view, we began to notice the trash cans that were 300-400 yards apart and had been painted a dark green color. Further observation revealed that each can contained a single word printed with white script lettering which made it stand out against the dark background. The first can we noticed had the word "compassion", the next "forgiveness", the next "sympathy", followed by "generosity" and "thoughtfulness". Fay and I had no idea who had done this or why it was done, but it sure made us stop and think.
We both agreed that along "The Marginal Way" you could feel the presence of God and you could also see some of His very best handiwork. When you add to this the human qualities of forgiveness, compassion, sympathy, generosity and thoughtfulness, there is no reason why any person should not stop and count their blessings. We surely did. A few minutes later, we were joined by the girls who had made quite a contribution to Maine's economy and we did our best to share with them what we had experienced. It turned out they had felt it too, and we just praised the Lord together for the privilege of being there. Yes ! The Architect of the universe has certainly built a wonderful place for us to live! (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 68 - "ACRES OF DIAMONDS"

No. 68
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
"ACRES OF DIAMONDS"

Do you have any idea how many people waste their lives always searching for the "Pot of Gold" at the end of the rainbow, but they never stay with one thing long enough to find it? Based on the number of people I've talked with over the years, I would say the it has to be in the millions. There is hardly a week that goes by that I don't bump into someone who has a brilliant idea, a way to strike it rich, some new product, invention or innovation that just can't miss. However, I often run into these same people six months or a year later and they are doing something entirely different. If this person happens to be you or someone you love, I believe you will be interested in this story I discovered many years ago, called Acres of Diamonds.
This story is about a man who owned a farm in Africa and he became fascinated by the tales he began to hear about people who were discovering diamond mines. In his mind, this fascination became so strong that he could hardly wait to sell his farm and search for diamonds himself! After selling his farm for practically nothing, he spent the next 20 years searching for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world. Then one day, broke, discouraged and despondent, as the story goes, he threw himself into a river and drowned.
Some time later, the man who bought his farm was out on his property and he picked up an unusual stone in the small stream that flowed through the land. Evaluation proved this to be one of the largest diamonds that had ever been discovered. When he went back to the same area and searched some more, he discovered that his whole farm was literally covered with them. So you see, the first farmer had owned literally "Acres of Diamonds", but he had sold them for practically nothing in order to search for them somewhere else. If he had just taken the time to learn what diamonds look like in their rough states, he would have had the millions he sought right there on his own property.
As you think about this story, can you see a parallel between the first farmer and the millions of working people in our country who never stay with one job or career long enough to become a great success at it? What we all need to realize here is that in the vast majority of cases, it's not the job or career, but rather it's the person who holds it. The job has all the potential in the world, at least it can be a starting point to move to any reward or position we want in society. In reality, it's up to us to turn our job or career into our own "Acres of Diamonds."
As a word of caution: please don't confuse the moral of this story with the person who starts to work for a company or organization, does a great job and builds a solid foundation of knowledge and experience and gets promoted to a higher position. This may occur several times over the years and well deserved promotions may propel this type of individual from the very bottom all the way to the top. Nor does it apply to the person who becomes highly qualified and takes a position with another company with equal or higher standing, because he or she sees more opportunity there. The key phrase here is "becomes" highly qualified.
The bottom line is simply this: if you are a 'job hopper' and take every job that comes along because someone offers you a little more pay, you may be missing the boat that will carry you to a very rewarding career in the future. The problem with being a "job hopper" is that in time, everybody knows it. Earning a lot of money is another story and I’ll address that in a future column. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 69 - "SELF-TALK"

No. 69
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
"SELF-TALK"

My wife and I have a wonderful relationship, but every once in a while when she is deep in thought, I come up on her blind side and when I say something or make a noise, she almost "jumps out of her skin." This is always followed by, "Don't do that!", along with some other stern admonishments, especially if she thinks I did it on purpose.
Because of the way the human mind is constituted, we all spend some time each day in deep thought, and we also spend a great deal of this time talking to ourselves. I don't know about you, but I spend a great deal of time talking to myself, "out loud", especially when I am alone. This self-talk may be more important than many people realize and this is what I want to talk with you about. In his wonderful little book, Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill talks about "repeated affirmations" of one's chief aim in life. This is simply the process of self-talk being used to systematically reinforce a purpose or a goal into the recesses of our subconscious mind.
In terms of achieving personal success, the problem for most people is that they don't have any specific, written goals. Because they have no goals, their thinking is not focused or directed to achieving anything that is truly worthwhile. We live in a negative world, where the news of the day is constantly negative, and for this reason it's much easier to think negative than it is to think positive. It's just common sense to realize that if our thinking is negative, then our self-talk will also be negative.
One of the best examples of negative self-talk that I've ever heard, can be found in the following story: Late one night, before most people had a telephone, a young man and his girl friend were driving down a lonely, deserted gravel road and they had a flat tire (really!) When the young man got out and opened the trunk to change it, he discovered he didn't have a jack. At this point, they both realized the dilemma they were in, because they had passed just one house and it was about a mile back up the road. After some discussion, it was decided the best thing to do was for the young man to walk back to the house to see if he could get help or at least borrow a jack.
As he walked along, he began to talk to himself. At first, he was very hopeful about his prospects to get help, but then his thoughts began to turn negative. As he continued to walk and the closer he got to the house, the more negative he became. Soon he was completely overcome by his negative thinking and he said to himself, "this fella is probably going to be mad when I wake him up and he sure won't be willing to help someone like me who is too stupid to make sure he has a jack in the car." By the time he reached the house and knocked on the door, he was so upset that when the man finally opened the door, he yelled, "you can keep your old jack! I didn't want to borrow it anyway."
The moral of this story should be obvious: This young man had already defeated himself mentally before he even had a chance to succeed. If you will think about what I said earlier about "repeated affirmations" of your purpose or your goals in life, I believe you will see how your own positive self-talk can help you achieve even greater success and happiness in your life. If you would like to know what works for me, I will be happy to share it with you. I spend a good deal of time talking to myself about my own plans and goals, and especially during the day when I'm working to reach them, but I also spend some quality time early each morning talking to the Lord. When my priorities are right, my “self-talk” makes life so much easier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 70 - THE SLIGHT EDGE

No. 70
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE SLIGHT EDGE

In these modern times when millions of Americans are all wrapped up in sports, we hear a lot about "winning" and "losing", but have you given much thought to the difference between the winners in life and the losers? Well, believe it or not, the difference is very little. In fact, it can be as little as 2%. Some time ago I ran across a very timely article by Gene Emmet Clark, D.D., titled The Slight Edge - It Only Takes 2%. If you are striving to reach some goals that seem to be just beyond your reach, I believe this article will help you see that if you do just a little bit more, it could mean the difference between winning or losing, success or failure, mediocrity or greatness. The remarkable thing about the principle involved here, is that it's true regardless of how well you are presently doing.
Dr. Clark makes a good case as he relates this principle to his own personal success. He begins by asking the question: "Have you been working like a horse?" Well, I've been thinking about that expression and at least one horse I can name has earned a pretty fair hourly rate. Someone figured up that the race horse Nashua earned more than a million dollars in a total racing time that added up to less than one hour. Now I believe you will agree -- that's pretty good pay!
Of course we know that many long hours went into preparation for that winning hour of racing, but here's something else that's important to understand that makes this horse so valuable. You would probably pay a hundred times as much for a horse like Nashua as you would for just an ordinary race horse, but is this horse a hundred times faster? Of course not. What makes the difference is the fact that a horse of this caliber finished just ahead of the rest on a consistent basis. All he had to do is win by a "nose" a good share of the time to be worth a hundred times as much as an "also ran."
Here is the reason I wanted to share this with you and it's the unmistakable point of Dr. Clark's article. The principle we see illustrated here with Nashua the race horse is the same with human beings who are on top in the game of life. The difference between achievement and mediocrity is that extra 2% in study, application, interest, ambition and effort. It's that one extra story for a writer, that one extra call for a sales person, that one extra putt for a golfer, and it's that extra hour of practice for the athlete who wants to compete in the Olympics. In short, it's that little "extra" -- that 2% -- that often makes the difference.
When it comes to applying this principle to our own lives, the most important advice I could ever give you or anyone else is to use your common sense. The Bible says there is a time and a season for everything under heaven and this is certainly true here. I want to make it perfectly clear that I never advocate having an all consuming goal that drives an individual to work day and night at the expense of everything else in his or her life. The problem for most people is that they waste too much productive time. We should balance our activities in light of our current responsibilities, our age, our health and the commitments we have to God and our families. As I’ve said before, we can never be defeated if we take the long range view. We should view life over the long term and give that extra 2% all along the way. We should also take time off for a vacation on a regular basis. When we do that and keep our priorities in the right order, we can become a real "winner" in the game of life and still have good health to enjoy it. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 71 - BURNING THE AMERICAN FLAG

No. 71
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BURNING THE AMERICAN FLAG

Several weeks ago I received a telephone call from a man by the name of Ron Spradlin who lives here in our community. He had called to tell me how much he was enjoying this column and in the course of our conversation, he shared a very touching and heart warming experience involving the American flag. It seems his son, Daniel, had retrieved a badly soiled and tattered flag from a trash heap where someone had thrown it away. That same afternoon, as Ron was looking out through the back screen door, he saw something that brought tears to his eyes: Daniel was in the process of disposing of this tattered old flag in the proper way.
Ron was so moved by this experience that he wrote the following tribute, titled The Day My Son Burned The American Flag: "Some have cried and cursed those who burn the American flag and would have condemned the culprit to an impersonal body bag. Is it really so important as our wounded and dying fathers say? Well, I watched as my son burned it just the other day. Just a filthy piece of cloth, never again to fly and wave in the air. Without the sun and light, with no respect and without care. Yes, my son burned the flag which he retrieved that day, all torn, tattered and stained with clay. With scissors he trimmed the fray and removed the clinging trash. He smoothed the banner bright and pulled together a gaping gash. He folded Old Glory to a military tuck, then made of sticks a supporting tripod, now a flaming benediction for this ensign, one nation under God. From the back porch I watched smoke curl from that burning rag, folded to a perfect pack, my son burning the American flag. He stood respectfully saluting and adding character to his stately manner. Grasping a harmonica in his left hand, softly played The Star Spangled Banner. I stood so very still, could speak nary a word, a lump in my throat, emotions within me stirred. He has properly learned to dispose of a used-up flag, no doubt. Yes, we are the happy parents of an honorable Eagle Scout."
What you have just read was a tribute written by Ronald Spradlin to honor his son, Daniel, for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. In relation to this, there are many things that could be said, but here are a couple that should be obvious. When our children are young, we should do our best to teach them to love, respect and honor our country. As parents, we just cannot assume that someone else is going to do this later on. I don't know how you feel, but I get very distressed when I see someone not showing the proper respect for or misusing our flag as a symbol of protest.
The American flag, which we often refer to as "Old Glory" symbolizes the very essence of what our country stands for. She represents millions of men and women who have fought on countless battlefields through the years, giving their lives and their all, to win our freedom and then to insure that our nation has remained free. I'm proud to say that I'm a past president of the Lions Club here in our community and we pledge allegiance to our flag at each of our weekly meetings. Make no mistake, our flag is very important and when it comes to disposing of a used-up flag, there is a wrong way to do it, but there is also a right way. Thanks, Ron, for sharing this with us in such a moving and stirring way and for teaching your children to honor and respect our great nation. It's my hope and my prayer that each person who reads this column will think seriously about what the American flag means to them. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 72 - RATE YOUR PERSONALITY

No. 72
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

RATE YOUR PERSONALITY

Did you hear about the conceited nurse? She always subtracted 10 beats from the pulse count of each of her patients to compensate for the effects of her personality. In relation to this, here is a question that may be worth thinking about. When it comes to your personality, do you have a good one or does your personality have a way of turning other people off? You probably know he answer to this question and if you feel your personality could stand a little improvement, I would like to invite you to take the following personality self-rating scale. Since it is self-rating, be totally honest with yourself, because no one needs to see it but you.
There are 23 questions in this exercise, so please take a moment and rate yourself 1, 2, 3, or 4 on each one. As you answer each question, give yourself 1 for poor, 2 for average, 3 for above average and 4 for superior. 1) Do I maintain a well groomed appearance? 2) Do I have a pleasing voice? 3) Is my posture alert and poised? 4) Is my disposition cheerful? 5) Do I make friends easily? 6) Do I exert positive leadership? 7) Am I generally thoughtful of the feelings of others? 8) Is my enthusiasm sincere and contagious? 9) Do I persevere until I achieve success? 10) Am I sincere in my interest in other people? 11) Am I ambitious to get ahead? 12) Do I get along well with others? 13) Do I react constructively to criticism? 14) Do I remember names and faces? 15) Am I punctual on all occasions? 16) Do I have and evidence a spirit of cooperation? 17) Am I free from prejudice? 18) Do I know how people react in most situations? 19) Am I generally a good listener? 20) Do I refuse to allow what other people say to hurt me? 21) Can I criticize without giving offense? 22) Am I reliable? 23) Can I adapt myself to all situations?
When you total up your answers, if your score was 70 or more, your personality rating is superior, 60 to 70 is above average, 50 to 60 is average and anything under 50 definitely shows some room for improvement. This is one of those personal development tools that I picked up at an education conference and I don't know who developed it, but it sure "hits the nail on the head." According to my large Funk & Wagnell Dictionary, the word personality means "distinctive qualities or characteristics of a person." In other words, it's what distinguishes or sets us apart from every other person, it's what makes us totally unique, unlike any other human being in the world.
If you will go back and re-read each of the 23 questions in this exercise, you will see many of these characteristics such as your appearance, your voice, your posture, your disposition, your thoughtfulness, your memory, your enthusiasm, your listening skills, plus many others. This should make it easy to see why your personality is so very important.
A good example of this came the other day when I was talking to the manager of our local Chamber of Commerce. He was telling me about filling a position on his staff and he had two applicants with outstanding credentials. Both were highly qualified, but he gave the job to a young lady who has a great personality, in addition to her education, experience and personal appearance.
Until our next visit, here is a statement that I hope you will think about. When we combine a great personality, excellent character, creativity and a genuine love of work we have a winning combination. Obviously, we can have the first three and be lazy and still fail as a person. Our personality is what we are when people are around, the rest is what we are when everybody else goes home. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 73 - THE GOOD OL' DAYS

No. 73
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE GOOD OL' DAYS

Every so often in a conversation with some of my friends, we get to talking about
the "good ol' days." When the conversation shifts to me and it's my turn to talk, I usually mention the days when you could buy a coca cola for a nickel, you didn't have to lock your doors at night, you never had to take the keys out of the car and a family could make it on one salary. While we have a lot of things going for us now that we didn't have back then, the "good ol' days" for me were back in the 1950s when I was in high school. My parents were good, honest, hard working people and this was a carefree time for me. Since I was not married, had no house payment, no car payment and no April 15th to worry about because I had not yet taken on the responsibilities of being an adult.
If you have been around for any length of time, you can probably think back to some of your "good ol' days". On the other hand, these may be your "good ol' days", as you may never have had things any better in your life than you do right now. One of the things that determines our "good ol' days" is the satisfaction we experience from our job or career, and this is the reason I wanted to share something that I found in my files recently. What
I discovered was a list of office work rules that were issued in 1852 and found a few years ago in the ruins of an old factory in Scotland. As you read these rules, if you will think about your job or career, past or present, I believe you will appreciate your "good ol' days" even more.
All employees must abide by the following regulations: 1) This firm has reduced the hours of work and the staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.. 2) Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The staff will
be present. 3) Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colors. 4) No member of the staff may leave the room without permission from Mr. Rogers. The "calls of nature" are permitted and the clerical staff may use the garden below the second gate. This area must be kept in good order. 5) No talking is allowed during business hours. 6) The cravings of tobacco, wines and spirits is a human weakness and as such, is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff. 7) Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 a.m. and noon, but work will not on any account cease. The owners recognize the generosity of the new labor laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work in compensation for these near "Utopian" conditions.
After reading these office work rules that were adopted in another country back in 1852, I believe we can all agree that during these times working conditions in our country also, left a lot to be desired. With our marvelous free enterprise system and the freedoms we enjoy in America today, it would be virtually impossible to foist anything close to this on any segment of the American labor force. In thinking about this, the one point that I do not wish to be lost or overlooked here is that while these conditions were terrible, they were probably much better than workers a century earlier had to endure.
As a citizen of the greatest nation on earth, as you think about your "good old' days", I want to remind you that everything we have today came about as a result of someone else's sacrifices and it was bought with a price. There must be a balance if we are to continue to prosper. We can have things too hard, but we can also have them much too easy. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 74 - THE GOOSE STORY

No. 74
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE GOOSE STORY

The Greek philosopher and teacher, Aristotle once said, "Education is the best provider for old age." While my views with regards to education may be a little too simplistic, I believe that all of life should be a classroom. We should learn something from every person we meet and spend time with and from every experience we have throughout our lifetime. We are each different as individuals and I don't know about you, but I love nature and the out of doors. This covers the gambit from raising a garden, working in the yard, taking trips to the mountains and the beach and each year I spend some time deer hunting with good friends down in south Arkansas.
Our hunting camp is located near the Mississippi flyway and while we are there, there is seldom a day that goes by that you can't hear geese honking and look up in the sky and see them flying along. Any one who has ever seen a flight of geese knows they always fly in the shape of a "V" and many people have wondered why this is true. We can learn a lot from our fine feathered friends, as evidenced by the following article, titled The Goose Story, by an unknown author.
The Goose Story
Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter flying along in a "V" formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.
When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It pays to take turns doing hard jobs.
The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. An encouraging word goes a long way.
Finally, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by a gun shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with the group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.
When I first read The Goose Story I was reminded of a visit several years ago with Jack Smith, over in Jackson, Tennessee. He told me about a goose hunting trip when he actually saw a wounded goose being carried to safety by another goose. He said, "As I sat there and watched this big goose get underneath the other one and flap its wings harder and harder to carry it to safety in a nearby refuge, I couldn't believe this was happening before my eyes." While doing research for this column, I also learned that wild geese mate for life, which ain't no bad deal. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 75 - THE POWER OF INFLATION

No. 75
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE POWER OF INFLATION

There is an old Welsh proverb that goes, "money is an eel in the hand." In other words, it's so slippery that it's impossible for most of us to hold on to it. Back in the 1992 presidential election, the phrase "it's the economy, stupid" not only helped the democrats win the White House, but it also summarized in one simple phrase what is most important to the American people. There is a lot of truth in the saying, "if you really want to get someone's attention, hit them in the pocketbook."
In these modern times, there is no doubt about it, money is very important and there is a factor that we know as "inflation" that determines the value of our money and how much it will purchase. You know about inflation, don't you? Inflation is that $100 that you had 20 years ago that would go a long way, and now you won't have much change left if you take your spouse out to dinner some evening.
Several months ago I received a report from my congressman that contained a full page article about inflation. Even before it reached my mail box it was out of date, because as you probably know, the consumer price index is tabulated on a monthly basis and the inflation rate changes. There are a number of factors that determine the inflation rate, but it is controlled, for the most part, by the Federal Reserve Board when they raise and lower interest rates.
We all know that inflation means higher prices, but here is an example to show how inflation affects you and your family. Back in 1980 the inflation rate was 12.4% and in 1983 it was 2.5%, a difference of roughly 10%. This means that a family of four with an income of $24,000 is ahead by $2,440.00 with the lower inflation rate of 2.5%, as opposed to 12.4%. What I really want to get across to you is this: a lot of people and a lot of politicians would have us believe that inflation is "just a way of life" and that we can live with moderate inflation. What this does is give them room to operate.
What we constantly need to be reminded of is that every 1% increase in inflation increases taxes by 1 1/2%. The people in our country that inflation hurts most are those on a fixed income and those in minimum wage jobs. They have to pay the same prices at the grocery store that the rest of us do. If our annual income is increasing more than the rate of inflation, then we are not affected too adversely, except for the tax factor. Keep in mind that politicians can give themselves a raise, but most of us can't do that.
The article I mentioned earlier contained a graph showing the explosive power of inflation. Let me show you what inflation does to items worth $100 over a period of 50 years, and remember, this is your $100 I'm talking about. Items costing $100 at 2% inflation in 50 years would cost $269. Items costing $100 at 4% inflation in 50 years would cost $711. Items costing $100 at 6% inflation in 50 years would cost $1,841. Items costing $100 at 8% inflation in 50 years would cost $11,739. Now, it should be easy to see why a politician would want us to believe that from 4%-6% inflation is acceptable. This would give them room to operate, but I'm not sure about the rest of us -- especially our kids and grandkids.
It may appear that I'm down on politicians, which is not the case. Only those who are greedy and self-serving. Let me say how very much I appreciate those men and women who serve in elected office, who care about America and make decisions based on what is best for our country. In the months and years to come, we must pay off the national debt and get back on solid ground. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 76 - THE LEAST IMPORTANT WORD

No. 76
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LEAST IMPORTANT WORD

There is a word in the English language that is used, perhaps more than any other, yet it is the least important word of all. Do you know what it is? Before I address this question, however, I would like to share some personal thoughts with you about this column. If you have become a regular reader over the past several months, I would like to say a very sincere "thank you" for your interest and also for your time. It's my heartfelt desire that a good number of my topics will speak directly to you and your interests and will benefit you in a multitude of ways.
I'm pleased to say that we now have newspapers from coast-to-coast who carry this column and even though we may be miles apart, I hope you will think of me as a good friend who stops by for a visit each week. If you have a comment or suggestion about anything I've said in the past or an idea or suggestion for a future column, please call the fine people at this newspaper. If they don’t run it at the end of the column I feel sure they will give you my address. Regardless of the nature of your comments, if you write me, I promise I will respond.
Now, back to my earlier question: Do you know the least important word in the English language? Like most things of this nature, it's a matter of perspective, but according to an article I ran across a while back, titled A Short Course In Human Relations. I've already used it a good number of times. It's "I" -- that's right, the big "I". As the saying goes, "I, I me, myself and my." "I" did this, "I" did that, "I" want, "I" will, "I" can't, "I" won't, "I" shouldn't and so forth. Without further comment from me, here is:
A Short Course In Human Relations
The six most important words: "I admit I made a mistake." The five most important words: "You did a good job." The four most important words: "What is your opinion?" The three most important words: "If you please." The two most important words: "Thank you." The single most important word: "We." The least important word: "I."
As some wag has said, the problem with most people is that their "I"s are too close together. When it comes to changing our focus from "I" to "we", here is a quotation by the English novelist, Charles Kingsley that may be worth thinking about. "If you want to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people want to pay you and what people think of you."
At this point, I'm just going to lay it on the line and say something that you may not want to hear. The problem for most of us is that we are too self-centered and by nature we are selfish. In other words, we are too wrapped up in ourselves and our own plans, ambitions and desires to think about other people and how we can help them. While we all want to succeed we must remember that success is not to be achieved by following our natural wants and desires. Success is achieved by doing those things that most people don't want to do and that's why so few people achieve outstanding success.
If you will take the time to go back and re-read the Short Course In Human Relations and begin to use the key words and phrases it talks about, i.e., "I admit I made a mistake," "You did a good job," "What is your opinion?", "If you please." "Thank you," and "We," when it is appropriate to do so, it will be a tremendous help to you. Changing our habits is not an easy thing to do, but when it comes to making other people feel genuinely important, the results will be very rewarding. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 77 - WHAT'S YOUR WORTH?

No. 77
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHAT'S YOUR WORTH?

If you have ever struggled with your self-esteem, your identity as a person and your value to yourself and others, I believe you will be interested in what I have to share. Because I have been so blessed with loving parents, great teachers, pastors and others through the years, who have helped me to truly understand my own self-worth and value as a human being, I count it among my greatest blessings to, in turn, help others realize just how special they really are.
Make no mistake!! What I'm talking about here is a real sales job! If you don't like yourself as a person, don't feel like you have much value as a human being and don't have much self-confidence, then I'm going to do my dead level best to help you to change that. First, let's understand that you are indeed "unique" as a human being, as science has proven that of all the six plus billion people in the world today, no other person is just like you. Your finger prints, voice print, DNA and other forensic tests prove this is true. Yes, you are special, whether you believe it or not.
Next, according to the Bible, in Genesis 1:27, you were created in the image of God. When you can understand and believe that you were created in the image of an all loving, all wise and all powerful God, and that he loved you enough to send His only Son to die for you, you will view yourself and others in a way that you have never viewed them before. While there are those who will disagree with what I've said, listen to these words by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower: "It takes no brains to be an atheist. Any stupid person can deny the existence of a supernatural power, because man's physical senses cannot detect it, but there cannot be ignored the influence of conscience, the respect we feel for moral law, the mystery of first life on what must have been a molten mass, or the marvelous order in which the universe moves us about on this earth. All of this evidence is the handiwork of a beneficent deity. For my part, that deity is the God of the Bible and of Christ, His Son."
Please understand that your worth to God is already assured. You count and you matter to Him. It's wonderful if you were fortunate enough to have loving parents, but if you weren't or don't, they will be held accountable and the same is true or all other members of your family. As the saying goes, "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your kinfolks." Now it comes down to your worth to yourself, to others and to society. At this point, it's up to you to take the ball and run with it.
To demonstrate what I mean, I want to share something titled, What's Your Worth? Think about this for a moment: "A small bar of iron is worth about $5.00 to start with, but made into horse shoes, this same bar is worth about $10.50; made into screw drivers, it may be worth about $250.00; made into needles, this same bar of iron could be worth about $3,250.00; while made into balance springs for watches, its worth could go up to $250,000." This same thing is true for another kind of material -- Y-O-U. Your value is determined by what you make of yourself.
When you know and understand who you are and truly believe that you are very, very special, you will have that "inner peace" that will help you deal with the negative things that come along. You will have a feeling of genuine self-respect which is to be mentally faithful to yourself. When you can do that, you are on your way to a much happier and richer life. The great news is, IT'S SELDOM TOO LATE TO START ! (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034)

No. 78 - DO YOU NEED PLASTIC SURGERY?

No. 78

The next password is dennis

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DO YOU NEED PLASTIC SURGERY

There is a new and noisy kind of plastic surgery taking place in America today. It's the sound of people who are cutting up their credit cards! It's too late for many people as we have reached the point where over one million families are filing for bankruptcy each year. A recent report revealed that the collective debt of the American people is now over one trillion dollars and about 40% of this is credit card debt. While filing for bankruptcy may seem like a panacea to some people, it has far reaching consequences and this is the primary reason I decided to write this column.
Who knows, I may be able to keep a few people from going down the path that leads to financial ruin. While I believe in the individual rights of every person and how they handle their financial affairs is up to them, however, it does affect all of us when they act irresponsibly. When a person files for bankruptcy and the slate is wiped clean, the debt still has to be paid by someone. In most cases, it's simply passed along to the American consumer in the form of higher prices, which means we all pay. The saddest story of all is about the one who does the filing. It may appear that they get off "Scott free", but in reality they have been branded, much like a cow on a Texas ranch and it stays with them for the rest of their life, psychologically, if not physically.
Now, please understand that I'm not saying that all credit is bad. It's good when used in the proper way and most of us would not be where we are today if it were not for credit. Over the years, we have had a great number of loans and installment contracts and I'm proud to say that everyone of them has been paid back, either before or on time. At present, we only have one credit card with a very low balance, and we keep it for tax purposes, emergencies and convenience, in a small number of cases.
It's easy for me to see why many people get in a real dilemma when it comes to the use of credit cards. Several times each month we get offers from various credit card companies with special offers, low introductory rate, no annual fee, life insurance benefits and on and on. They make it so easy and if you don't have the self-discipline to say "no", you can be up to your neck in hot water in a very short period of time. The problem for most people comes when they live so close to the edge and when an emergency comes along they are wiped out. After several months of being wiped out, then bankruptcy becomes more and more attractive. As I said earlier, "don't do it" and don’t get yourself in a position where you have to even consider it, because the consequences are long lasting.
If what I'm saying applies to you, I believe you will appreciate something titled Economy Raises Revenue. This has been a great guide for us when it comes to spending and saving money. "Your ship won't come in except through the straight of economy. You can increase your wealth by decreasing your wants. You can raise your wages by lowering your expenses. You can have more by wanting less. What you make is not as important as how you handle it. This requires efficiency, planning and the maturity to stick with the plan. Economy does not mean no spending, it means wise spending. Frugality takes the view that a thing not needed is too high at any price, and there are so many things we don't need.”
In conclusion, here are a couple of questions that may be worth thinking about: Do I need plastic surgery at this time in my life? If I continue with the same spending habits as I have in the past, am I headed for some real financial problems down the road? As I said earlier, my heart’s desire is to help you. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

The next column password is: Dennis

No. 53 - AMERICA'S MAJESTIC SYMBOL

No. 53
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
AMERICA'S MAJESTIC SYMBOL

Several years ago when I was working in the production department for a printing company, we used to have a saying: "The eagle has flown." This saying was heard mostly on Fridays, because this was payday and the day that checks were passed out. The eagle in this case was synonymous with money, because over the years the picture of this majestic bird has been printed on different denominations of our nation's currency.
Most people know that the American Bald Eagle is America's symbol, but there is a story behind this fact that may not be common knowledge. In the earliest days of our nation's history, our forefathers decided we needed a national bird that would be symbolic of the character and values of our people. In the beginning there was a great deal of sentiment for the wild turkey, because of its keen eyesight, elusive qualities and also the fact that it provided food and other benefits, especially in relation to the tradition of Thanksgiving.
The eagle won out for reasons I'll share a bit later, but this is probably the basis for the saying we have all heard: "You can soar with the eagles or roost with the turkeys." This is the reason many people began to refer to someone else as a "turkey." In relation to this, I want to share a true story that you may appreciate.
The former chairman of the board of a large bank in our state was a well known civic leader, wealthy and very aggressive, but small in size -- around 5'6" tall. Quite naturally, in a large organization with several hundred employees, it takes a while for people to get to know each other, especially new people who have just been hired. One day this chairman got off the elevator on a floor where you must have security clearance and a new security guard who thought she was just doing her job, hollered, "Hey, turkey, where are you going?" Unfortunately, what this lady didn't know is that this man was not a turkey. He was an eagle and she lost her job. As I said, this is a true story.
For thousands of years throughout the world, the eagle has been admired for its grandeur, its grace in flight, its great size and awesome power. It gets its name from the white head feathers that gives it the appearance of being bald. The soaring eagle in flight so captivated the imagination of our nation's forefathers, they adopted it as our national bird and it came to be a symbol of the true meaning of liberty.
Our national symbol, however, is much more than what "meets the eye." The eagle displays a sense of responsibility that is a companion of genuine liberty. He mates for life and returns to the same nest each year, making necessary repairs and additions. He takes an active role in providing for his family and teaching his young to fly. While this may appear to be redundant, it's far too important to miss. The reason the bald eagle is America's symbol is because he possesses many of those characteristics and qualities that has made America great and must be reinstilled in our society, if we are to preserve the freedom which God has so graciously entrusted to us.
We live in a day when symbols have almost become America’s stock in trade so the next time you see an American Bald Eagle, stop for a moment and think about what he represents: the United States Of America, the greatest nation on earth. In view of what I have shared, I want to leave you with this verse from the Bible: "Yet those who wait for the Lord, will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31 (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 54 - HOW TO REMEMBER NAMES

No. 54
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
HOW TO REMEMBER NAMES

Someone once said that "our memory is what holds the past and present together and gives continuity and dignity to human life. It is the companion, the tutor, the poet, the library with which we travel." To be sure, the capacity to remember in vivid detail and recall facts, data, events and circumstances of the past is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us.
There is one area of our memory, however, that causes real problems for many people, and this is the perceived mental condition that they are unable to remember names. In regard to this, over the years, if there's one comment I've heard more than any other it's, "I'm terrible with names" or something to this effect. If this is an area of concern for you and you would like to do something about it, I will do my very best to help you.
While this may or may not apply to you, we see many individuals in our society who are motivated to remember names because of business or economic reasons. On a personal level, how successful would a salesperson, a teacher, a minister, a banker or a public speaker be, if they could never remember your name? It wouldn't take long before you would begin to feel like they really didn't care about you as a human being, which is exactly the point.
We must care about other people and respect them as one of God's special creations, if we are to be able to remember and recall their name, even if we hadn't seen them in months and ran into them 1,000 miles from home. In other words, their name is important because they are important as a person. In reality, the only people we are going to help very much are those we really care about.
Apart from this "caring" factor, the biggest obstacle to remembering names is that about 95% of our waking hours are spent thinking about ourselves, our goals and our own personal problems. When we are introduced to another person and they give us their name, we hear what they say but our mind is thinking about something else and we simply never "get it." When trying to recall it later, we say, "I've forgotten their name", which is really not the case. It's impossible to "forget" something that we never "got" in the first place. In other words, we must get it before we can forget it.
Here is the key. The next time you are introduced to someone, try to slow your mind down and really focus on their name and get it lodged firmly in your mind. If you didn't get it the first time, don't be embarrassed to look this person straight in the eye and ask them to repeat it as often as necessary, until you really get it. While this may seem like a failure on your part, the other person will view it as a sincere compliment because you care enough to want to know their name.
Please understand that some people can remember a name best by hearing it, while others can remember best by writing a name down on paper. In many cases, it may not be possible to write it down, but by repeating it several times in your mind and using it in your conversation, you will be able to remember it and you can always write it down later. There are many techniques that space does not permit me to give you, but one that has really helped me is association. Get the new name lodged firmly in your mind and then associate it with some famous person or someone you know real well. As in most things, the key to success is practice, practice and more practice. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 55 - THE ONE IN THE GLASS

No. 55
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE ONE IN THE GLASS

Several years ago, my wife and I attended a communications seminar in Phoenix, Arizona. During this time we had the opportunity to get to know Cavett Robert, who was one of the founders of The National Speakers Association. Sitting around the dinner table at the Camelback Inn in nearby Scottsdale with Cavett and his wife, Trudie, he said something in regard to accepting responsibility for ourselves that I have never forgotten. He said, "When many people are born and their umbilical chord is cut, they spend the next 50 years trying to find a place to plug it back in."
While they would never state it in this way, today there are millions of people in our nation who believe it's their parents, the government or someone else's responsibility to provide for their needs and to take care of them. When it comes to legitimate needs, through no fault of their own there are millions of people who are mentally and physically handicapped and they cannot provide for themselves. These people need our help and it's our responsibility to take care of them, but there are millions of others who have a healthy mind and body who must learn or re-learn to accept responsibility for themselves.
Since the politicians in Washington have changed welfare "as we know it" many of the people who are being forced off welfare are having a hard time dealing with it. Rather than being down on these people, what most of us need to realize is that this kind of thinking goes back to the earliest days of their childhood and it's so deeply ingrained that it will take many years for them to change. The rest of us can provide positive encouragement to these people who are getting off welfare, and in doing so we are helping our country, as well. While it has to be on an individual case-by-case basis, when many of these people are trained and have a good paying job, they will see things differently and have a sense of pride and self-respect they have never known before.
Along these lines, I discovered a poem several years ago, titled The One In The Glass, that has been a blessing to me and I hope you will think about it as it relates to your life. The One In The Glass
"As you go through life in your struggle for self, and the world makes you King or Queen for a day, just go to a mirror and look at yourself and see what that person has to say. For it isn't your father or mother or spouse whose judgment upon you must pass, but the one whose verdict counts most in your life, is the one staring back in the glass. Some people may think you are a straight shootin' sort and call you a wonderful gal or guy, but the one in the glass says you're only a bum, if you can't look him straight in the eye. He or she is the one to please, never mind all the rest, for they are with you clear up to the end and you have passed your most dangerous, difficult task, if the one in the glass is your friend. You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life and get pats on the back as you pass, but your final reward will be heartaches and tears, if you have cheated the one in the glass." Author Unknown
If you have family or friends who could benefit from this poem, why not clip it out, make copies and share it with them. The United States of America is a great land and our economic and political systems are based on the merits of the individual. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “An individual is a bundle of possibilities and he is worth what life may get out of him before he is through.” It’s not what we get, it’s what we give that really counts. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 56 - THE RIGHT WORDS

No. 56
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE RIGHT WORDS

The English poet, letter writer and political figure, Lord Byron (1788-1824), has made this observation concerning words: "Words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew on a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think." When taken in this context, I believe we can see how very important it is to choose our words carefully, because words not only influence the quality of our thinking, they also enable us to express ourselves --- to communicate.
Thank you for spending a few moments of your time with me. I would like to begin by sharing some thoughts concerning the "right" words and how, if we are not careful, they can expose some of our misplaces values. Here is an example that will illuminate what I am saying. The story is told of a man who was a public speaker by profession. Using the right word, in the right place, with the right pronunciation, was a passion for him.
One day during a stroll by the river, he slipped off the bank and sank under the water. An elderly lady shouted, "He'll be drowned-ded! He'll be drowned-ded!" The public speaker came to the surface sputtering and coughing. He asked for no help and didn't reach for the rope thrown to him. Instead, he fixed his eyes and index finger on the lady and shouted, "Drowned, not drowned-ded! Drowned!" His thoughts were not on life, but the right word.
When it comes to using the right words, I'm limited in some respects and I tell people my vocabulary is kinda like the printer who said, "I ain't never made but one grammatical error since I come to work here. I seen it when I done it, so I taken it back." All kidding aside, the manner in which we communicate is very important as it relates to achieving success in today's times.
Our effectiveness in communicating with others is determined to a large degree by our vocabulary. It's been said that we should know big words but use little words if we are to communicate with the vast majority of the people around us. Along these lines, something that may cause you to think is the results of a survey that I came across some time ago. It's been determined that the average middle class person in our society uses less than 400 words, 80% of the time in his or her normal everyday conversations.
If you will think about it a moment, you'll be able to come up with many of these words, like: hope, happiness, security, money, work, love, family, time, sale, bargain, food, if, and, it, but, or and so forth. Now if you will continue on, I believe you will see that it takes a lot of these "regular use" words to reach 400. However, when it comes to successful communication this is tragic, because there are now over 700,000 words in the English language.
Another consideration here is what educators call our "reading level." When we read a story or an article that has one or more words that are not familiar to us, much of our comprehension or understanding can be lost. While we can certainly get by without a large vocabulary, and millions do, it does give those individuals who have a good vocabulary a great advantage in these days of rapidly changing technology.
In conclusion, when we take the time to improve our vocabulary so we can use the right words, we are taking a step in the right direction and this will pay handsome dividends in the months and years to come. Please consider these ten two letter words: If it is to be, it is up to me. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley rive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 57 - THE HAPPY LOSER

No. 57

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE HAPPY LOSER

One day a few weeks ago I came from a Lion's Club meeting and got the shock of my life. My wife informed me that she had just returned from a trip to the liquor store. There were two primary reasons why I was so shocked. First, we live in a dry county and the nearest liquor store is in Palarm, about 15 miles away on the Faulkner-Pulaski County line. Next, I teach a couples Sunday School class and needless to say, for my wife to be seen going in or coming out of a liquor store would raise a few eyebrows and not be a good witness for the Lord.

However, I will give her credit. She took great precaution and planned it out very carefully. She didn't have much pocket money so she went to the bank to get cash so she wouldn't have to give the liquor store a check. She also took the back way in the hopes that no one would see her van, that has a paint job that sticks out like a sore thumb and everyone we know can spot a mile away.

At this point she told me the rest of the story. Because of some problems that she has been having with her arm, medical diagnosis has revealed that she might have a slight case of arthritis. One of her friends told her that Paul Harvey had been touting a concoction of gin and white raisins as something that could help to relieve the pain. Not to leave you hanging, you mix a pint of gin with a box of white raisins and then stir it once a day for 9 days. When this process is complete, you eat 10 raisins each day until they are all gone.

Because of the conversation we were both laughing and it reminded me of the fellow who had a race horse. At least he thought it was a race horse. However, when he got his horse out and ran him around the track, he would just barely get out of a slow lope. He did so want his horse to run in a race but he knew he could not win. Then he remembered reading somewhere that you could dope up a race horse and he would run one last dying race. He would really move out. At this point he got to thinking about what kind of dope to use. He finally decided to use a little "white lighting", which is to say a little moonshine whiskey. It really took some doing but he finally poured about half a gallon down his horse's throat.

About a week later he was telling a friend about the race. He said, "I wish you could have been there to see my horse run. They shot the gun and he bolted out of the gate, his tail was sticking straight out, his ears were back and when he came around the final turn dust was flying and rocks were breaking out windshields. This fella said, "well, did your horse win?" This man said, "No-o-o, my horse didn't win, but he's the happiest loser you ever saw."

In a way this story kind of applies to my wife. We can't tell whether or not the gin spiked raisins are helping her arthritis, but I can tell you this for sure, she is happier than she has ever been. Not long after this experience, I told this story at a Chamber Of Commerce banquet and a lady said to me after the meeting, "I don't know if you were watching my husband or not, but he was laughing so hard that he almost fell out of his chair."

In the Bible we read in Proverbs 17:22 "A joyful heart is good medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones." In my opinion, we all need to have a good laugh from time to time and to have fun and really enjoy life. I hope you are not like the lady who came up to me after another speaking engagement and said, "I want you to know, while you were telling some of those stories, I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing." (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Arkansas 72034)

No. 58 - CAN YOU STAND PROSPERITY?

No. 58
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
CAN YOU STAND PROSPERITY?

The other day I asked my wife if she could stand prosperity and she said, "I don't know, but I sure would like to try!" My response was, "Yeah, you and several million other people." The Roman philosopher, Cicero, once said, 'Prosperity is when the stream of life flows according to our wishes." Using the vernacular of our day, we might express it this way: The person who experiences prosperity has the world by the tail on a downhill drag." In our modern culture, however, when we think of someone who is prosperous, we usually think of someone who has a lot of money.
Now, I would like to ask you the same question I asked my wife: Can you stand prosperity? If you are fortunate and already have a lot of money, then you probably know the answer to this question, but if you don't, you may want to think about this for a while. I think it's important to understand that we are already rich as a people, because our nation has experienced unparalleled prosperity in the history of the world. The point I want to make here is that all too often money changes people. It shouldn't, but it does. There are a few people who can handle it, but they are rare.
Have you ever been around someone who didn't have a dime and because of luck or a rich uncle dying or something like that, they came into a lot of money overnight and suddenly they got too good for their friends? As the old saying goes: You couldn't touch their rear with a ten foot pole. Unfortunately there are lots of young people who were fortunate enough to be born to rich parents who have the same attitude.
The people I know who are truly prosperous and have it all together are those who understand that money is just a medium of exchange and it comes from rendering valuable service. Instead of being arrogant or big headed, these people are humble and grateful that America has provided the opportunity for them to become financially successful. I believe I'm safe in saying that the big difference is whether a person has made their wealth slowly, over a long period of time or have come into it overnight. To those who acquire instant wealth, I'd simply say there is a rule of thumb you might consider here: "Easy come, easy go." While we can go to nicer places and have nicer things, our money should not change us, as a person.
Another consideration here is that the acquisition of a great deal of money does not necessarily produce happiness. I saw a great example of this in the paper a while back. A man in another state had won a big lottery jackpot a few years ago and according to him, that's when his troubles really began. He had gotten his first installment and his family and new found friends had helped him spend it quickly. But he didn't stop there; at the time of the article, he was deep in debt, as he had been spending considerably more than his yearly installments from his lottery winnings. The man was just plain miserable and he was trying to sell his future jackpot lottery installments and pay off his debts and go back to the way things were before he won.
To be sure, here was a man who could not stand prosperity. In the event you do not already have a lot of money, since you began to read this column, have you thought about whether or not you could stand prosperity? When it comes to my own personal situation, I'm kinda like my wife; I don't know if I could handle it or not, but I sure would like to try. I'm convinced, however, that God does not bless many of us with too much prosperity, because He knows we can't handle it. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 59 - THE OPTIMIST CREED

No. 59
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE OPTIMIST CREED

Sometime back I was asked to be the speaker for an "ol' timer's" breakfast at an Optimist District Convention that was held in Texarkana, Texas. In case you are not familiar with the Optimists, they are a service organization with over 4,000 clubs in the United States, Canada and a small number in Europe. The motto of Optimist International is "Friend of Youth." These men and women do a great job of working with young people in the various communities where one or more of their clubs are located.
It was a fun time, with lots of good, clean humor and at the conclusion of my presentation, they presented me with a framed copy of the Optimist Creed that they recite at each of their meetings. This creed contains such a timely and profound message that I asked if it were possible to share it with you in this column. Permission was granted, so here it is: PROMISE YOURSELF: "To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only of the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble."
After you finish reading this column and some time has passed, if you will go back and reread the Optimist Creed and really think about what it says, I believe you will find a great deal of encouragement for your life. To my way of thinking, in today's times we have far too many people who are cynical and pessimistic and not optimistic about the future and their own chances for success and happiness. While doing research for this column, however, I came across a quotation about "Optimism", by Georges Bernanos, that really made me stop and think. Based on the tone of what I've been saying, this will seem out of place, but he said, "Nine times out of ten, optimism is a sly form of selfishness, a method of isolating oneself from the unhappiness of others."
This is just one man's view and it's certainly no reflection on the fine men and women of Optimist International and the good work they do, and I don't want to say or imply anything that sounds like it. I couldn't find anything at all about Georges Bernanos, but what I think he was saying is that if we are not careful, while we are optimistic and looking on the "sunny side of everything," we fail to see many hurting people and the unpleasant side of life that is all around us.
Certainly it's an individual thing and in most cases, what happens to us during the course of our lives is not nearly as important as how we react to it. It has been said that in most cases, life is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as more times than not, we will get what we expect. The wonderful thing to always keep in mind is that we do have a choice and if we begin each day with hope and optimism, expecting good things to happen, in most cases it will turn out that way. I don’t know about you but my glass is “half-full” if you know what I mean. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 60 - THE LAW OF APPRECIATION

No. 60
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE LAW OF APPRECIATION

Do you remember how you felt the last time you did something special for someone else and they took the time to say "Thank you" or even wrote you a note to express their appreciation? This happens millions of times each day in our country and it enhances the lives of both the one who sends the note, as well as the one who receives it. This wonderful feeling is also the basis for a natural law called The Law of Appreciation. If you recall, a "natural law" is a series of events in nature that has been observed to occur with unvarying uniformity. In other words, if the conditions and circumstances are exactly the same in all respects, then the results or outcome will always be the same.
It should go without saying that the proper understanding and application of this law will help any person to achieve a happier and more successful life. The reason this is true is because one of the strongest hungers in human beings is the desire to be appreciated. Everyone wants to be liked and to be made to feel important. No one wins the esteem of another quite so quickly as the one who feels and shows sincere appreciation with "sincere" being the key word here.
Before I move on to another aspect of this law, I want to suggest a way you can prove this to yourself, and if you are not already doing this, I can guarantee you that it will change your life for the better. In your mind, just see an invisible sign on every person you meet that has the letters "M.M.F.I.". These letters stand for "Make Me Feel Important." If you will take the time to make every person you meet to feel like they are the most important person in the world, you will find more open doors and more opportunities to be of service than you ever dreamed possible. Just remember, this law will make things better in every area of your life. To earn more money, apply this law to your customers, your business associates and those you serve. To have a better spiritual life, home life and social life, apply it to your family, fellow church members, your friends, neighbors and anywhere else you wish to be more successful.
Now, apart from this aspect of the law of appreciation, there is also another consideration that must be completely understood if we are to profit from this law. Here is an often misunderstood paradox: if we expect appreciation from others in return for what we do for them, we will be sadly disappointed. No doubt you know people who do for others because they expect something in return. In reality, this is a very shallow way to live, because it goes against a fundamental trait of human nature. All too often, we see people who are not appreciated for their good works and they withdraw or become bitter and this doesn't produce success. In most cases, it produces failure and the root cause was a lack of understanding of this great natural law.
Here is the essence of the law of appreciation in clear, understandable terms. When we are sympathetic, helpful and give sincere appreciation to other people, we are using this great law to our advantage. It is equally important that we never count too much on the appreciation of others, because in many cases we will be greatly disappointed. We should remember what others do for us and forget very quickly what we do for them.
Whether or not you believe or understand this law is not the issue. The only thing that really matters is that you use it. Incidentally, if reading this column made you feel like you were back in school again, just remember, we all need to stop and sharpen the ax once in a while. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 61 - THE PREACHER'S NEW SERMON

No. 61
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE PREACHER’S NEW SERMON

Former President Thomas Jefferson once said, "Farmers are the chosen people of God." Over the years I've come to have a deep respect for our nation's farmers. They have come a long way since Jefferson spoke those words and today, they not only produce the fruits, vegetables, meat and other foodstuffs we need, but they also help to feed millions of people all over the world. Sometime back I heard the following story about a farmer and a preacher that contains a message every American should stop to consider.
One Saturday morning a preacher was riding down a country road and he came to the most beautiful farm he had ever seen. The house had just been painted, the grass was freshly mowed and a beautiful row of flowers lined the driveway. The barns, fences and fields were in the same condition. They were immaculate. As he drove on, the preacher saw the farmer out on his tractor plowing and he was so impressed that he stopped his car and waited for him to get down near the end of the row. At this point, he hailed him and when the farmer came over he said, "My good man, God has certainly blessed you with a beautiful farm." The farmer backed up, thought for a moment and then said, "Yes, He has, and I'm grateful, but you should have seen this place when God had it all by Himself."
They chit chatted for a while but on his way back to town, the preacher began to think about what the farmer had said, and then he had his sermon for the next day. You see, he began to realize that all the farmers up and down that road had bought or inherited the same type of land, but here was an example of where one farmer had made something great out of his. The message here for each of us should be obvious. If you will take a moment and think about it, in this sense you are given the same land, too. You were given a marvelous human mind, a body and opportunity in what could be called the greatest farm in the world: The United States of America! Unless there are limitations and circumstances beyond your control, if you have not already done so, you too can make something great out of your life. Even in these days of high taxes, government regulations and the ever present threat of inflation, the United States still has great opportunities for most of us. However, I'm convinced that most people never see or take advantage of them because they are preconditioned by those around them.
Unfortunately, too many people see themselves as destined to fail, because they were born poor, born with the 'wrong' color skin, born on the wrong side of the tracks, never had a chance to get a good education or any number of other reasons, which in reality are only excuses. While this may sound strange, I believe the people in this country who are at the greatest disadvantage are those who were born rich. To illustrate what I'm saying, sometime when it's convenient, go into a forest and notice the giant trees that almost blot out the sun. When you see a small tree in their midst, notice how it has to struggle to survive. It has to fight for moisture, because roots of the big trees are deeper. It gets very little sunlight, because it is overshadowed and it is sheltered from the wind, which has already made the big trees strong.
While it may not be obvious, human beings are much the same way. When we have been taught character values and have to earn our own fortune by the sweat of our brow , the chances are much better that we will keep it and appreciate its value. Over the coming weeks and months, I hope you will think about the preacher and the farmer and how the message it contains could help you. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 62 - THE STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES

No. 62
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE STRANGER WITHIN OUR GATES

Several years ago I had the privilege of flying to Savannah, Georgia, to be the keynote speaker for a Guidance Conference sponsored by the Georgia State Department of Education. The conference was to be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Savannah, and this is where they made a reservation for me. I have done quite a bit of traveling in my work and have stayed in some nice hotels before, but the Hyatt Regency just has that little extra "touch of class" that makes it stand out as one of the very best.
First, the hotel was new and it had very elaborate furnishings. It also had those bubble elevators with glass, so you can look out and see folks in the lobby as you go from the ground floor all the way to the top. The hotel also has a couple of very nice restaurants and the food was great. Since the hotel was right on the Savannah River, the view was fantastic. You could look out over the city in one direction and see the river and the large ships in the harbor in the other direction. Just these things alone would have been enough to make the Hyatt Regency a fine place to stay, but as I said, they had that little 'extra' touch of class.
After a long, hard day, I went to my room to turn in and was surprised to find the maid had come by and turned the covers down and propped up on my pillow were two small bars of chocolate wrapped in foil, and a little card with this message written on it: "To our guest: In ancient times there was a prayer for The Stranger Within Our Gates. Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people and not solely a money making organization, we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof. May this room and hotel be your second home. May those you love be near in your thoughts and dreams. Even though we may not get to know you, we hope that you will be as comfortable and happy as if you were in your own house. May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe. We are all travelers, from birth till death as we travel between the eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best."
When I boarded the airplane the next day for the flight home, this little card was tucked safely in my briefcase and as I've looked at it from time-to-time, it has reminded me of that wonderful experience. To the management and staff of this hotel, I was just another sojourner passing through, but as I've thought about the message on the card, I realized once more that it's the little things that often make the difference. In short, they made me feel "special" and in doing so, they also made me feel at home. In a general sense, the people all over Savannah were the same, and the grace and charm of this historic old city has touched my life.
The people of the south have a word for this kind of treatment. They call it "hospitality." There is an old Greek proverb that says: "The chief thing is good will." While it's hard to put a price tag on "good will", if we are to succeed in business, it's something we cannot do without. The lesson for each of us should be obvious: if we wish to succeed in business or any area of life, we must take the time to do those little things that makes the people we serve feel special. When we do, they will come back time and time again. Until next time, please understand that this is not meant to be a commercial plug for this fine hotel, but rather an example that all business people would do well to emulate. A final question. Is it possible that these thoughts could help you? (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 63 - TEN CAUSES OF "BURNOUT"

No. 63
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
TEN CAUSES OF "BURNOUT"

Every once in a while, I have a friend or hear about someone who has been working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and this has been going on for months! Because of my own personal experience, I feel very sad for this person, because I know if things do not change they are headed for some very serious problems. Someone once said, "You can burn the candle at both ends and it does produce a brilliant flame, but it sure is hard on the candle." While I began this column with an extreme example, there are many other people in our society today who are under a tremendous amount of stress and without their being aware of it, they may be headed for the modern day phenomenon known as "burnout."
When it comes to our job or career, "burnout" is a relatively new term, and if you will stop and think about it, it came along about the time jet airplanes began to criss-cross the skies. It seems as though our tendency to get burned out is directly related to our penchant for speed. This is quite natural when we stop and think about it. For example, when does a car overheat and blow up? When it's barely moving? Of course not. The dad-burned contraption blows up after it has been running 100 miles an hour for several hours.
But back to the subject of burnout. Please understand, there is a big difference between a person being physically tired and able to rest for a few days, then going back to work, and the person who feels a lot of stress and pressure and it just won't go away. As it relates to this, I heard a humorous story a while back about this school teacher named Maxine, who went to her principal and said, "I've had it up to here. I'm stressed out, the other teachers don't like me, I can't get the kids to mind and I'm just burned out!" The principal said, "Maxine, before you can be burned out, first you have to be lit."
Sometime back, Small Business America, a newsletter of The National Association for the Self-employed, listed 10 causes of burnout. If you have any inclination that you may be headed for burnout, if you are not already there, you may want to think seriously about these causes to see if one or more relate to you. Ten Causes Of Burnout:
1) Do you feel yourself under pressure to succeed all the time? 2) Do you need to generate excitement again and again to keep from feeling bored? 3) Is one area of your life disproportionately important to you? 4) Do you feel a lack of intimacy with the people around you? 5) Are you unable to relax? 6) Are you inflexible, once you have taken a stand on something? 7) Do you identify so closely with your activities that if they fall apart, you do, too? 8) Are you always worried about preserving your image? 9) Are you taking yourself too seriously? 10) Are your goals unclear, shifting back and fourth between long-range and immediate?
Well, how about it? Did you see yourself in any of these 10 causes of burnout? I sure did -- several times! A few years ago, I discovered that I was headed for burnout and I've been able to back the throttle off just a little bit. Having triple by-pass heart surgery will do it every time! What we need to do is slow down and take time to enjoy life because we are not going to get out alive anyway. This reminds me of the fellow who went to the Doctor and asked him the secret of long life. The Doctor said to put a little gun powder on his oatmeal or cereal each morning and that should help. Well, he took his advice and it worked. He lived to be 93 and outlived 3 wives. They said when he died he left behind 8 kids, 13 grandkids, 26 great grandkids and a 9 foot hole in the crematory wall. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 64 - THE RATCHET PRINCIPLE

No. 64
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN
THE RATCHET PRINCIPLE

The person who achieves real success in any area of life seldom travels in a straight unbroken line, because he or she has setbacks and reversals along the way. It is often said that success is taking two steps forward and one step back. But what happens to the person who takes two steps back after one step forward? Unfortunately, this person is going backwards and losing ground. Today, this is happening to millions of people in America, especially in the area of personal finances. Perhaps the American Railroad Builder, and financier, James J. Hill (1838-1916), said it best in relation to financial success: "The test is simple and infallible: Are you able to save money?" If you or someone you love is losing ground financially and you would like to do something about it, perhaps a good understanding of the little known "ratchet" principle may help you.
The ratchet principle refers to something or someone moving in a given direction for a period of time, then falling back to a solid position to regroup, then doing what's necessary to be on solid footing before heading out again. To be able to see this principle very clearly in your mind, just visualize a socket wrench that can be purchased at any store where tools are sold. A socket wrench consists of a set of sockets and a ratchet with a little button on top of the ratchet to turn if you want to go in the opposite direction. As you turn a tap or bolt and then back it up to get more leverage, you can hear the little 'clicks' of the ratchet as it's being brought back into position for a fresh start. These little clicks of the ratchet is what keeps it from losing ground.
When it comes to achieving personal financial success, I might say here in the beginning that the most important ingredient is self-discipline. Without having the self-discipline to stick with a plan, everything else is lost. When it comes to using the ratchet principle to help you or someone you love to achieve personal financial success, there are four simple steps to follow that will definitely help you to improve your present circumstances. The first step is to REGROUP, which is what happens when you pause while using the ratchet; just sit down where it's quiet and list all of your expenses item-by-item so you will know exactly where you are in relation to your income. You must know this before you can proceed.
The second step is NOT TO LOSE GROUND, which is what the little clicks of the ratchet are designed to do. Eliminate unnecessary expenses and if you have credit cards and other loans with a high interest rate, pay them off before buying anything else that is not absolutely necessary. The third step is to GET ON SOLID FOOTING, which means you must have the ratchet setting firmly on the tap or bolt you are going to turn. This is the point where you develop a financial plan that includes goals and it's vital that you establish a savings and investment account that will begin to compound your earnings for the future.
The fourth and final step is to HEAD OUT AGAIN, which is when you begin to turn the ratchet to achieve real financial success. At this point, with peace in your mind and heart, you can go to work with real determination and enthusiasm that will make your plans and your goals come true. Remember, when you follow this simple four step plan, the chances of your losing ground have been greatly diminished and you have the plans to help you achieve. It's the ratchet principle. Until our next visit, just remember, you can not be defeated if you take the long range view. What many people do not realize is that ‘perseverance’ is just another word for success. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

809 - MARRIED TO A LEGEND!

No. 809

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

MARRIED TO A LEGEND!

When my wife Viola and I got married she said to the Lord, “If You will make him successful, I will keep him humble.” Now, she says she did her part and the Lord has not come through. I can promise you one thing, if I am not humble, it’s not because she did not try. To be very honest, she has not only done her best to keep me humble but has pulled my chestnuts out of the fire so many times I have quit counting.
We all make mistakes but I have made far fewer because she was there to give me wise counsel when I needed it most. What is that old saying, behind every successful man is a good woman. Truer words were never spoken as they apply to her. As I think about Viola, I realize that I have been married to a legend all these years.
In thinking about what I wanted to say as a tribute to her, I did a little research on the word “legend” and found that this word goes all the way back to the 13th century, as it applies to the English language. The word “legend” has a number of different definitions but originally a legend was one or more stories transmitted orally from generation to generation. The word “legend” has evolved over time to also mean a person or achievement worthy of inspiring anything or anyone whose fame promises to be enduring, even if the renown is created more by the media than by oral tradition.
For example, how many legends would we have today if it were not for the media who reported their success, exploits and accomplishments that made them famous? The legendary Bobby Jones, Jim Thorpe, Will Rogers, Babe Ruth, Pop Warner, Bob Hope, John Wooden, Patsy Cline and Martin Luther King Jr. just to name a few.
To be sure, Viola does not qualify by these lofty standards, but her life, her talents, her ministry, her faithfulness and her compassion for others makes her a legend in my eyes. As you may know, if you have read my column very long, she has battled Parkinson’s for the past 15 years. She is in constant pain and, while I have heard her scream and cry, I have not one time ever heard her say, ‘Why me’? Going all the way back to her early life she was gifted with a beautiful singing voice, she has social graces that are to be envied, her exploits as a good cook are almost legendary, people call her all the time for home medical remedies, and she is so well organized and efficient that she puts me to shame.
Only the Lord knows how much longer she will be here. Of course, I could go before she does, but as I thought about how I could pay tribute to her I decided to dedicate my new revised edition of “Learning, Earning & Giving Back” to her. Please allow me to share it with you as I sum up a life well lived, and a legend in my eyes. To Viola – “If I could only choose two words to describe my wife, Viola, they would have to be ‘world-class’ because she does so many things exceptionally well. In spite of battling Parkinson’s disease for the past 15 years, she has been a constant source of help and encouragement, not only to me and our business, but to countless others whom she has ministered to in a variety of ways. She is the love of my life and I feel honored to be able to dedicate this book to her.”
Thank you for letting me share something with you that is deeply personal. I just hope and pray that if you have a similar person in your life, or your home, that you will take a little time to express your own feelings in a way that will be meaningful.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

811 - IS YOUR STATE GOING BANKRUPT?

No. 811

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

IS YOUR STATE GOING BANKRUKPT?

We have become a nation of “Takers” not “Makers,” so says Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal. Sometime back a friend sent me an article written by Mr. Moore, dated April 11, 2011, in which he outlines in very vivid detail why many states in our nation are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. As a general rule, when any business or a government goes bankrupt, it means that expenses exceed income. If this situation continues for long enough, an organization of any kind is insolvent and has no other choice but to declare bankruptcy. It’s kind of like that fellow I heard about one time who was making it for $3 and selling it for $1, but they said he was making it up on volume.
From a practical standpoint, when a ship starts sinking, you know the first thing that happens, don’t you? The captain and crew begin to throw everything overboard that is not nailed down to lighten the load. This is what states that are on the verge of bankruptcy must also do, but it’s very painful. If you want to understand better why so many states – from New York to Wisconsin to California – are going bankrupt, consider this depressing statistic. Today in America, there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.
It gets worse. More Americans now work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. Here is the real rub and why we must reverse the trend if we are to survive. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local government is the $1 trillion-a-year tab to pay the benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states cannot pay their bills? In his article Mr. Moore gives a number of state-by-state examples, but it all adds up to the same thing, as already stated -- unless the trend is reversed we will not survive.
However, don’t expect a reversal of this trend any time soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government. Why? Because in recent years only government agencies have been hiring, and because the offer of near lifetime security is highly valued in these times of economic turbulence. When 23-year-olds aren’t willing to take career risks, we have a real problem on our hands. Sadly, we could wind up a generation of Americans who want to work for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The real question for me becomes, what are we going to do about it? While easier said than done, we must elect people to office who have business experience and understand our free-market economy, and create jobs that are attractive for our nation’s college graduates. We can also reduce the size of government and not have to lay off or fire anyone just by attrition. Just stop hiring people to work for the government and, in a few years, the ratio will come back into balance. There certainly was a day when the dream of most college graduates was to go into business for themselves and not seek a career in the government. My economic attitude has always been, “Give me opportunity and then get out of the way.” To be sure, there is security in the ship of state, but only if it’s not loaded too heavy.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

812 - THINGS JAPAN CAN TEACH US!

No. 812

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THINGS JAPAN CAN TEACH US!

As the old saying goes, “When you are up to your armpits in alligators, you don’t have the time to stop and drain the swamp.” This is exactly where the people along the eastern coast of Japan found themselves on March 11, 2011, when an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck this island nation and a 30-foot tsunami rolled across the landscape, destroying everything in its path. The world watched in horror as the tsunami swept away boats, cars, homes and large commercial buildings, and widespread fires raged out of control, taking the lives of hundreds of people. It is unbelievable the amount of destruction that took place on this fateful day.
While it will take years for this nation to completely rebuild, there was something that came out of this tragedy that could teach the rest of the world something about life and how to live it. What I am referring to is the character of the Japanese people. Here in America, when we have an earthquake, a flood, a tornado, a hurricane or some other widespread disaster, one of the first concerns the authorities have is how to keep people from looting. Question: do you get as upset as I do when you see people who have lost almost everything they have and are truly hurting, and some low-life comes along and takes what little they have left? I don’t know about you, but when this happens it makes me very unhappy.
The thing that makes me most unhappy is not the loss of material things -- these can be replaced -- but it is the total lack of character on the part of far too many of our citizens. In this respect, it is obvious the Japanese can teach us a lot about the human condition and how to treat others. This approach to life may just come from their culture and, if it does, we could definitely use some of it.
What I am going to share next has been on the Internet for some time. Every American needs to read, hear and think about these exemplary qualities, especially parents who are rearing children. Here are 10 things to learn from Japan.
1. THE CALM – Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief, sorrow itself has been elevated. 2. THE DIGNITY – Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or crude gesture. Their patience is admirable and praiseworthy.
3. THE ABILITY – The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall. 4. THE GRACE (Selflessness) People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something. 5. THE ORDER – No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just total understanding. 6. THE SACRIFICE – Fifty workers stayed back to pump seawater in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid? 7. THE TENDERNESS – Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak. 8. THE TRAINING – The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9. THE MEDIA – They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage. Most of all – NO POLITICANS TRYING TO GET CHEAP MILEAGE. (Politicians from other countries- are you listening?) 10. THE CONSCIENCE – When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly.
Please don’t misunderstand what I have been saying. Most Americans would do the same thing, and more. It’s those people who flunked potty training that I am talking about.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

813 - BUY GOODS MAKE IN AMERICA!

No. 813

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BUY GOODS MADE IN AMERICA!

In case you have not noticed, America is in a trade war and has been for the past several years. We have a huge trade imbalance as we import far more goods from foreign countries than we sell or export. Of course, this varies from month to month, and year by year. Our biggest trading partner is China, as the American consumer has all but built their economy. Now there is an effort under way to do something practical about our trade situation, especially with this fast-developing superpower, and it’s simply to stop buying Chinese-made products and food, unless there is absolutely no other option. Because of some recent developments we, the American consumer, may be able to turn this around.
Sometime back, Diane Sawyer of ABC News conducted a study that was later reported on this major television network. Here was the basis for the study -- their team removed all items from a typical, middle-class family’s home that were not made in the USA. There was hardly anything left besides the kitchen sink. Literally. During this special report, they showed truckloads of items – USA made – that were brought in to replace these items and they also showed where to find these items and the difference in price, etc. It was interesting that Diane Sawyer said that if every American spent just $64 more than normal on USA-made items this year, it would create something like 200,000 new jobs.
Here is the bottom line. Would you spend an extra $64 each year at the grocery store if you thought it would create more jobs in America and do great things for our nation’s balance of trade? I would in a heartbeat! Again, from a practical standpoint, simply look at the bottom of every product you buy, and if it says, “made in China” or “PRC” (Peoples Republic of China) and that now also includes Hong Kong, just choose another product or none at all. If you will take what I am saying seriously and begin to do this, you will be amazed at how dependent you have become on Chinese products and you will be equally amazed at what you can do without.
For example, who needs plastic eggs to celebrate Easter? If you must have eggs, use real ones and help some American farmer. Easter is just one example. The point is this: Do not wait for the government to act. Just go ahead and assume control on your own. Think about this: If 200 million Americans refuse to buy just $20 each of Chinese goods, that’s a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor … fast. There is a downside: Some American businesses will feel a temporary pinch from having foreign stockpiles of inventory. I would not want that and I don’t think you would either.
What’s the solution? Let’s give them fair warning and send our own message. Most people who have become aware of this campaign, and are reading and thinking about it, will taper off over a period of time anyway. For me, and perhaps you as well, this comes down to a matter of freedom. We all cherish our God-given right to open, honest and free elections but actually we vote each time we open our wallets or swipe a credit card. When enough American consumers decide we have had enough, and vote with our purchases, there will be changes made in our economy.
The greatest change of all is that more Americans will be working instead of drawing unemployment. If you have some good ideas, share them with me. I will be happy to pass them along in a future column.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

814 - PAINTING JOBS MADE EASY!

No. 814

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

PAINTING JOBS MADE EASY!

Several years ago I heard a story about this little old lady who went into the local hardware store looking to buy a small heater to keep the chill from her living room. A salesman greeted her at the front door and she told him what she was looking for. He said, “You are lucky. We have a sale on our heaters this week” and then he led her to the sales display to show her the various styles and models. After about 30 minutes of detailed explanation about the various features and advantages of each one, he asked her if she had any questions. She said, “Yes, just one. Will one of these things keep a poor little old lady warm?”
The benefits of the product and not the features is what most of us are looking for when it comes to spending our hard-earned money. Along these lines, I get several offers each week from companies, manufacturers, ad agencies and others wanting me to tell my readers about their unique product. Some are very good, but I am very selective in what I pass along to you, as your time is too valuable to waste. However, if I can tell you about a great product that will save you time and money, and provide a real service, I am certainly not averse to letting you know about it.
Such is the case with a new product that I learned about recently that I could have used several times over the years. This product is called PaintSmart-Trayz, and the idea is a combination paint tray and paint bucket all in one. If you do any painting at all around your house, you know the feeling. You are up on a ladder with a brush in one hand and a roller in the other. Your bucket is balanced on the top step and the phone rings. What do you put down and where do you put it? Or perhaps you’re at the peak of a roof and balancing it all and a paint brush slips out of your hand and falls to the ground. At this point you have to carry everything down the ladder to get the brush, clean it and start all over. You may have even said to yourself, “There has to be a better way.”
Well, there is, and this is why PaintSmart-Trayz was invented. It is easy to carry. It hangs conveniently on the side of your ladder to keep your hands free to safely paint (or answer the phone.) And this neat product also helps to keep your workplace neat and tidy. It gives you a place to hang the roller while you are using the brush, and vice versa. One of the most intriguing aspects of PaintSmart-Trayz is that it can hang either vertically on an extension ladder or hang horizontally on a step ladder. It is easily portable, thanks to a large carrying handle making transport up and down a ladder very simple. The uniquely designed reservoir has high sides and holds up to two quarts of paint to keep refill trips to a minimum.
The PaintSmart-Trayz also sports handy hooks for brushes and slots for paint rollers, allowing paint to flow back into the tray preventing spills and drips. A clever twist cap drain spout, made of strong plastic so it won’t rust like the old metal trays, allows painters to easily pour excess paint back into the can. One of the greatest benefits for you, the painter, is that it saves countless trips up and down the ladder.
PaintSmart-Trayz is produced by Keane Corp. in Lake Worth, Fla., which is another way of saying “Made in America.” To learn more, e-mail info@PaintSmart-Trayz or visit their web site: www.PaintSmart-Trayz.com.
You know, time is all we have and we should strive to work a little smarter, as well as harder.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

815 - FAILURE: DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL!

No. 815

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

FAILURE: DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL!

Have you ever heard of a prolific author by the name of Joey Green? To be honest, I had never heard of him until my friend Coach Dale Brown sent me some excerpts from one of his books titled “Famous Failures.”
With a little investigation, I learned that Joey Green was born in Miami, Fla., on May 26, 1958. He graduated with a BFA from Cornell University in 1980, where he founded the humor publication, The Cornell Lunatic, and had many literary honors. At this point in time, Joey Green has written more than 40 books, has been a guest on numerous television talk shows and has written numerous television commercials.
Coach Brown and I have a wonderful relationship because we have a common bond -- we both want to encourage others to be the best they can be. The book “Famous Failures” lists a plethora of well-known individuals in a wide variety of fields who were told by others that they would never make it, and later went on to become a household name because of their outstanding success. This brings me to a very important point. You and I have the final vote. No one, I repeat, no one, can tell us that we can’t succeed but ourselves. Failure is just a normal part of life and, when we don’t take it personally, we can get back up, dust ourselves off and get back in the game.
Most, or all, of the following names of people who achieved outstanding success will probably be well known to you, but maybe there is a story behind the story that will be both interesting and revealing. The most important thing in the life of each individual is that they did not quit when another person in authority sold them short.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, but was later named the greatest athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN. Marilyn Monroe was dropped in 1947 by 20th Century Fox after one year under contract because production Chief Darryl Zanuck thought she was unattractive.
The famous children’s author Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers, and Seuss considered burning the manuscript. The book that was eventually published sold six million copies. Barbara Streisand’s Broadway debut opened and closed on the same night. Humphrey Bogart was fired from a job reading radio playlets for laxatives. He then earned a living playing chess for 50 cents a round.
Walt Disney’s first cartoon production company went bankrupt. The Beatles were rejected in 1962 by Decca, Pye, Phillips, Columbia and HMV labels. And here is a shocker, Elvis Presley’s music teacher at L.C. Humes High School in Memphis gave him a “C” and told him he couldn’t sing.
In Joey Green’s book “Famous Failures,” the list is almost endless, but without the specifics here are other well-known names of individuals who failed one or more times before they achieved great notoriety: Lucille Ball, John F. Kennedy, Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Mick Jagger, Gen. Douglas McArthur, Albert Einstein, Wilma Rudolph, R.H. Macy, Henry Ford, Randy Travis, Rudyard Kipling and best-selling author John Grisham, whose first novel was rejected by 16 agents and a dozen publishers.
What this says to me is these people had more than talent and ability. They also had true grit and determination. A final question: Are you as successful as you would like to be?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

816 - LET ME BUTTER YOU UP!

No. 816

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

LET ME BUTTER YOU UP!

You no doubt have heard the saying, “He was just trying to butter him up.” I did a little research to try to learn the origin of this saying but with no success. However, I did discover a great example of how and where this saying is often used. It’s in school or college when students want a high grade and they try to “butter up” their teacher or professor in an attempt to gain the edge.
A while back I got one of those often-circulated e-mails that had some tremendous information that takes the saying “butter up” to a whole new level. This piece had to do with actual “butter” and a comparison with margarine, and the effects the latter can have on the human body. I am assuming that some research has been done on these two items and why it’s important for all of us to know the difference. There was also a practical test that I will share a bit later.
Question: Do you know the difference between margarine and butter? To begin with, they both have the same amount of calories. Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine. Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53 percent over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study. Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods. Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few, and only because they are added. Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods. Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.
And now, for a closer look at margarine. It is very high in trans fatty acids. Eating excessive amounts triples the risk of coronary heart disease. It increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL (the good cholesterol.) Further, it increases the risk of cancer up to five times, lowers quality of breast milk, decreases immune response and decreases insulin response.
Now, here is that practical test I mentioned earlier. Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will observe the following: no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies, will go near it. That should tell us something. It does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny-weeny microorganisms will not find a home to grow.
Now, I will be the first to admit this sounds like a commercial for the dairy industry, and it could just be a myth, but if it’s true, it’s certainly worth checking out. Would you please pass the butter?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

817 - DO UNIONS HAVE TOO MUCH POWER?

No. 817

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DO UNIONS HAVE TOO MUCH POWER?

A few years ago I bought a new set of tires for our 2003 Honda Element, an automobile that has served us well. A new set of tires just gives you that hug-the-road feeling and you, at least, feel safer. Then over the past few weeks I began to notice a vibration on the front end and I knew from past experience that it was time to rotate and balance the tires. This past week I got around to doing that and, presto, the problem was solved for a while.
You know, having the proper balance is the key to lot of things running better and smoother, including our lives. This concept also includes our nation’s economy, which has been terribly out of balance for a long time. In this context it is important to understand that it only took a few months of highway tread wear for my tires to get out of balance, while it’s taken several decades for our economy to get out of balance.
There are many different reasons for the dilemma we face: Corrupt politicians, a massive national debt, high unemployment, a huge trade deficit and a national government that is seeking to control more and more of our lives. While there is more than enough blame to go around, one of the factors that must be considered is our nation’s unions.
In the national interest, here is a question that I would like for you to ponder with me for a few minutes: Do unions have too much power? From my perspective, the answer to this question is both “yes” and “no.” If you are a member of a union and, over time, your union leaders have been able to negotiate you a higher salary, fringe benefits and a better work environment, the answer is “no.” On the other hand, if you own or manage a company that is “union” and it has become so powerful that it is almost impossible to fire incompetent employees, and the union is inflexible when it comes to concessions when the company falls on hard times, the answer is “yes.”
Whether you agree or not, here is the problem. Like my tires that got out of balance, when unions get out of balance and have “too much” power, you have a stand-off that is not good for anyone, and this includes our nation’s future. The key phrase in the question is “too much.” As English historian and moralist Lord Acton (1834-1902) has said, “Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Then there is also the question of whether we are talking about private sector or public sector unions. I belong to the school of thought that public sector unions should not exist. It is a privilege to work for the government and serve the people, and when public sector employees band together to from a union and “take more” than private sector business and jobs can sustain, you are again out of balance. You know what happens when workers are taxed to their limit -- the government borrows the money and this is where we are today. If we are to ever again have a healthy free-enterprise economy in our nation, we must understand who the real boss is.
The author here is unknown, but the truth is undeniable: “There never has been, there is not now, and there never will be any boss but the customer. He is the one boss we must please. Everything we own he has paid for. He buys our home, our cars and our clothes. He pays for our vacation and puts our children through school. He pays our doctor bills and writes every paycheck we will ever receive. He gives us every promotion we will ever obtain during our lifetime and he will discharge us, if we displease him.”
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

818 - BE KIND TO UNKIND PEOPLE!

No. 818

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BE KIND TO UNKIND PEOPLE!

A few days ago I read a statement that has had a tremendous impact on my thinking. The statement goes: Be kind to unkind people, as they probably need it the most.
If you will think about this statement I believe you will agree, we can’t be kind to unkind people if we are not organized, live a balanced life and are at peace with ourselves. This statement, contained in a wonderful article sent to me by my friend George Pickett, was only a small part of a larger group of statements that, taken together, are some of the best I have ever read. While I don’t know about you, I am always distressed when I see a dysfunctional person or family because they are missing out on a quality of life that only a small group of people in our society ever attain.
I will be the first to say that we cannot live our lives based on a list of rules or advice from others, but there is quality information all around us that would be very helpful if we would just slow down long enough to meditate on it and then apply it in practical ways. With that said, I would like to share the other statements contained in the article George sent me. Please take a moment and ponder each one. Here are the statements and they are numbered so we can place the emphasis where it belongs.
1- Pray. 2- Go to bed on time. 3- Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4- Say “no” to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule or that will compromise your mental health. 5- Delegate tasks to capable others. 6- Simplify and un-clutter your life. 7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
8- Allow extra time to do things and get to places. 9- Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t lump the hard things together. 10- Take one day at a time. 11- Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If you can’t do anything about a situation, forget it.
12- Live within your budget; don’t use credit cards for ordinary purchases. 13- Have backups: an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc. 14- K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut) This simple piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble. 15- Do something for the kid in you everyday. 16. Carry a spiritually enlightening book with you to read while waiting in line. 17- Get enough rest.
18- Eat right. 19- Get organized so everything has its place. 20- Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life. 21- Write down thoughts and inspirations. 22- Every day, find time to be alone. 23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to try and pray. 24- Make friends with Godly people. 25- Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand. 26- Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good “Thank You Jesus.”
27- Laugh. 28- Laugh some more. 29- Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all. 30- Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can). 31- And to repeat the title line, be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most). 32- Sit on your ego. 33- Talk less; listen more. 34- Slow down. 35- Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe. 36- Every night before bed, think of one thing you are grateful for that you had never been grateful for before.
As a faithful reader, I am grateful for you.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

819 - LESSONS FROM THE GARDEN!

No. 819

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

LESSONS FROM THE GARDEN!

If you could stand a little practical advice in the areas of happiness, loss, humility, pride, death, life or some other crucial aspect of our existence, I have some great news for you. Sometime back I received an offer from Steve Bates to preview his first book titled, “The Seeds of Spring -- Lessons from the Garden.” Steve Bates is a longtime gardener and journalist who grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., and spent 14 years as a reporter and editor at The Washington Post. Steve received a scholarship from the Virginia chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists, and he earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary.
After reading his book, I have concluded this is not only a great book from the gardener’s perspective, but it demonstrates how our gardens can teach us valuable lessons about life. As one would suspect, this journalist with one of our nation’s major newspapers is a gifted writer, but what sets Steve apart is that he loves nothing better than to get his hands dirty in the soil. He not only loves to reap the rewards of seeing things grow, but also enjoying the fruits of his labor at the dinner table. “The Seeds of Spring” follows the challenges, failures, joys and revelations that Steve experiences as he cultivates vegetables, fruits and flowers in a remarkable setting.
The book intertwines practical “how-to” gardening advice with deep insights as he recognizes the richness and simplicity of the outdoor life and the importance of sustainability for individuals and the planet. As they say, the proof is in the pudding and I don’t know of a better way to convince you to buy and read this book, especially if you love to garden, than to share a portion of the Foreword with you.
He begins: “We all tend gardens. Tens of millions of us battle heat and storms and unrelenting weeds, all for that golden moment when we pluck that first rich tomato of summer or fill a basket to the brim with bright yellow zinnias. We save a little on our grocery bills, welcome the release of tension as we work the soil, revel in that supreme sense of satisfaction as we harvest the fruits of our labor.
“We tend figurative gardens, too. We cultivate our careers, families and sow the seeds of hopes and dreams. We weed out illness, transplant hope, nurture ideas. In countless ways, we strive to create, to shape, to guide, to produce and we are compelled to be at least a tiny part of something bigger than ourselves, outside of ourselves. Yet it is in our garden plots that our spirits take flight in unique, myriad and sometimes surprising ways. It is here that we become more than just neighbors and voters and architects. We come to realize that we are the fortunate ones who know that dirt is not dirty, that returning home with a line of fine soil under our fingernails is a badge of honor.”
Well, I will stop there because you can easily see what a gifted writer Steve Bates really is, and his ability to use words that can add meaning to our lives. The whole book is laced with solid and entertaining ideas that will stimulate your thinking in ways you may have not even considered. A healthy mind is a good mind that will serve us well all the days of our lives. “The Seeds of Spring” is available from Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions or visit his web site: www.theseedsofspring.com.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

810 - THE MYTH OF CHRISTIAN DIVORCE!

No. 810

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE MYTH OF CHRISTIAN DIVORCE!

Are you a believer? Your answer to this question would logically be: a believer in what? There are myriads of things one can believe in, but for my purposes here, I would like to focus on just two.
First, when I could see gas prices going to $4 per gallon and beyond, I decided to buy one of those little Smart Cars made in France by Mercedes. It was reported they were getting more than 40 miles per gallon and the price was very reasonable. I knew the quality had to be excellent if the car was made by Mercedes and they advertised something called a “safety cell” where passengers were actually housed inside a rigid steel cage, and crash ratings were very high when compared to other vehicles.
Soon after I bought the car, I began to take a lot of good-natured kidding from many of my friends. A couple of favorite questions were: where is the other half of the car and do you have to peddle it? Well, Viola was out in the Smart Car a few weeks ago and pulled out in front of another car and was hit almost head-on. She called me on her cell phone and told me she had a wreck. When I got there, the front end of the car was gone -- it was totaled -- but she was inside that “safety cell” with only a minor scratch. She could have been seriously hurt or even killed. The police officer and other emergency personnel who worked the wreck could not believe it.
Needless to say, I am a believer. While in a completely different realm, there is another area where many people are completely wrong when it comes to perception. This is the area of Christian divorce rates. While we know the divorce rate in our nation is more than 50 percent, and sadly many couples are living together without being married, which keeps the numbers from being even higher. In today’s culture, it is often stated that the divorce rate among Christians is just as high as non-Christians. In fact I have been guilty of saying this myself. My thinking was drastically changed when I read an article by Glenn T. Stanton of Colorado Springs, Colo., director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family.
Mr. Stanton has done considerable research and quotes a number of leading authorities in this field, including W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project. He has found from his own analysis that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation.
The reason I am sharing this is simple. The perception we hold of something, like those who kidded me about my Smart Car, may not be true based on the facts. For many years, like millions of others, I was a church member, but sitting in church every week does not make one a Christian.
Here is why I would like to set the record straight. When we say the divorce rate among Christians is no different than non-believers, what we are actually saying is that a belief in Jesus Christ, and striving to live a Christ-centered life, does not make any difference. Believe me, it does. While this is a deeply personal thing and I am certainly not preaching to you, like our experience with the Smart Car, we are believers because we have experienced it first hand. To be sure, perception is a very powerful thing because many of our decisions are based on what we perceive. Let’s seek the truth, as this is the only thing that will stand.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

820 - BOOKCASE FOR EVERY CHILD IN AMERICAN PROFILE!

No. 820

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BOOKCASE FOR EVERY CHILD IN AMERICAN PROFILE!

There is an old saying with a great deal of merit that goes, “If you are free, thank a soldier. If you can read, thank a teacher.” I am confident that most Americans are grateful for our nation’s Armed Forces that have won and preserved our freedom. I am also confident that the vast majority of Americans who are literate are grateful for their teachers who taught them how to read and the value of education.
As a literate person, can you imagine what life is like for those who cannot read? Sadly, there are 42 million adults in America today who are being denied basic opportunities most of us take for granted.
Those in our society who are at the greatest risk are children being reared in low-income homes, because quite often their parents can’t read. As a result, they have few, if any, books in the home for the children. In 2005 we started a literacy project here in Conway, Arkansas, called “Bookcase for Every Child” and we are making a difference. So far we have given 350 personalized bookcases and a starter set of books to some of these children. We are making a difference, and now our project is beginning to spread to other communities. The community of Greenbrier, just north of us, is holding their first Bookcase Literacy Banquet soon, no doubt with great success, and will build 60 bookcases to present to their children this coming spring.
We have been truly blessed by something that happened back in August 2011 when the American Profile magazine featured our project on the front cover. This publication is a full-color weekly magazine that is distributed in more than 1,400 newspapers, has a nationwide circulation of more than 10 million and is presently the fourth largest magazine in the nation. You can view our story at www.americanprofile.com. Knowing the story was coming for several weeks, I worked hard to completely rewrite and update the copy for our own web site so I could point those in the right direction who had an interest in starting a project of their own.
My thinking was well founded, as there was no way I could have kept up with all the activity without this miracle of technology. As the chairman, I had e-mails and phone calls from interested people all across the nation and believe we have at least two other communities in other states, so far, that are starting their own project. Just go to our web site: www.bookcaseforeverychild.com and you will find everything a community needs to start and complete the first-year cycle of having a book drive, hosting a fund-raising banquet and an awards ceremony to present the bookcases to their children. You should see the children’s faces light up when they receive their very own personalized bookcase and a starter set of books.
The American Profile story was written by contributing editor Marti Attoun, who came to Conway to interview me about our project. She also interviewed Nija Graves, a child who received a bookcase as a Head Start student a few years ago. Her picture, along with her bookcase and books, were featured on the front cover. In a subsequent video, she and her mother told about how much she had been helped by a “Bookcase for Every Child.” As the article says, “We are making a difference one kid at a time.” These children are America’s future and we must take time and make the effort to help those in low-income families who, in most cases, cannot help themselves.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

821 - ELDERLY PEOPLE ARE GULLIBLE!

No. 821

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

ELDERLY PEOPLE ARE GULLIBLE!

Early one morning several weeks ago, my 88-year-old mother, who lives in a nearby community, called me to tell me that she had just won the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes. She went on to say that she had just received a phone call from a man in Dallas telling her she had won the sweepstakes, valued at more than $3 million. He told her that two of their men would be in her community later in the day and would follow her to the bank where she would withdraw $1,500 to cover the IRS fee as down payment for them to deliver her money.
She was really excited, but I knew immediately what was up. At this point I told her, in no uncertain terms, not to get involved because she was about to become the victim of a scam. I even went so far as to call her brother, who is a CPA, and he in turn called and told her the same thing -- I later learned all to no avail. Even with a warning from a policeman who attends her church and the branch manager of her bank, she still withdrew $1,500 from her savings and sent “cash” to this man out of state. If she gets a penny of it back, I will be more than a monkey’s uncle.
Of course, the question that immediately came to my mind was: why? Over the objections of a number of people she should have been willing to trust to tell her the truth, she still fell victim to a scam. It could have been that, due to her age, her mind is slipping and she was just not able to think logically and rationally. Also the fact that she has never had a lot of money in her life, the thought of having that much money was so exciting and appealing that she just threw caution to the wind. This also leads me to make another statement that you may or may not agree with. Elderly people are gullible. This is not to say that all elderly people are gullible, not by any stretch, but many are and they often pay a high price.
The reason for this, I believe, is because she comes from a generation where the vast majority of people were honorable, honest, truthful and would not take unfair advantage of another person for personal gain. However, we now live in a day and time when scams of various kinds have become big business. While my own mother has been a victim, along with thousands of others, I personally believe there is a special place in Hell reserved for those who would scam the elderly and are cruel to animals.
Ironically, the same day she called me we had a Lions Club speaker from the Little Rock Better Business Bureau and you can probably guess his topic: “How to Spot Scams.” Due to space constraints I won’t be able to give much detail, but here is a list of the 10 most frequent scams they report: 1. job hunter scams. 2. debt relief and settlement services. 3. work from home schemes. 4. timeshare resellers. 5. not so “free” trial offers. 6. rogue home repair and roofers. 7. lottery and sweepstakes scams. 8. advance-fee loan scams. 9. over-payment scams. 10. identity theft.
Here is a point that needs to be made. People who are scammed may lose a little or a lot, but the real losers are the scammers themselves. When we do wrong there is always a price to pay whether we get caught or not. Here I am reminded of the late Billy Sunday’s sermon titled, “There Will Be a Payday Some Day.”
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

822 WHAT IS YOUR LOT IN LIFE?

No. 822

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHAT IS YOUR LOT IN LIFE?

Every once in a while when I get to thinking about my lot in life, at this particular time, I am reminded of the story of the man who felt sorry for himself because he had no shoes, then he encountered a man who had no feet.
As individuals, when we are facing adversity, regardless of the source, we can usually find others who are having a much rougher time than we are. To be sure, adversity is just a part of life, and how we handle it can mean the difference between sanity and insanity, happiness and unhappiness or even life and death. The word “lot” has a number of different meanings, including a parcel of land, a batch or group of products, a number assigned as a result of drawing or casting lots and several others. However, when I say my “lot in life” I am referring to fate, as in a card game - playing the hand we are dealt.
If you happen to be going through a rough time, regardless of the reason, what I am going to say to you in this column is meant to be a source of encouragement and a way of mentally dealing with the problems you may be facing. If you have read my column for very long, you know that my wife Viola has Parkinson’s and has had for the past 15 years. In spite of this, we have had a great quality of life and have been able to accomplish more than we ever dreamed possible. However, the inevitable is now beginning to come about. Parkinson’s is winning the battle, as we knew it would. Over the past few years I have seen her go from walking with a slight limp, then to walking behind a walker, and on to a power chair but still able to stand, move about and do many things.
Then, in just the past few weeks, she reached the point where she can no longer walk or stand, which means she is totally dependent on me or someone else to take care of her and meet all of her needs. To exacerbate the problem, Viola happens to be a very fastidious person, this is to say, she has a special way of doing many things and she wants them done the very same way they have always been done. It’s taken me a while, but I am learning and life is getting much easier. It is amazing the things you can learn when you have to. My domestic skills have improved dramatically over the past couple of months. I am now doing the laundry, cooking, grocery buying, dish washing and many other household duties, while continuing to write my column, volunteer for our Lions Club and doing all I can to provide leadership for our wonderful “Bookcase for Every Child” project.
When I have told this to a few of my friends, some have responded by saying how sorry they were for my present state. To this I have replied, don’t be … this was part of the contract I signed many years ago. The contract, our marriage vows, did not say for better or better, it said for better or worse. We just face life and each new day one at a time. I am happy to report that I have found some relief when a wonderful lady, who is experienced in dealing with those who have Parkinson’s, has come to help me and stay with her three days a week.
I am not complaining. I count it all joy that I can be here to take care of her during this time. She certainly took care of me for many years. Now, this question please. What is your lot in life? If it’s rough, how are you handling it? A positive attitude certainly makes a lot of difference.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

823 THE BENEFITS OF ZERO-TOLERANCE!

No. 823

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE BENEFITS OF ZERO-TOLERANCE

There is an interesting concept that, if employed on a much larger scale, could make a tremendous difference in the quality of life we have here in America. This concept is called “Zero-Tolerance.” If you drive an automobile, I am sure you have seen speed limit signs that give the posted speed limit, and then a little sign below with the words, “Zero-Tolerance.” This simply means that you have been warned and if the posted speed limit is 30 miles per hour, if you are caught going even 31 mph you are going to get a speeding ticket. With automobile insurance rates going up in our country each year, and one or more speeding tickets increasing them even more, it does not take long to get the message. The vast majority of drivers will obey the law.
Now, take that same concept and apply it to other areas of our society. We will begin to see more self-discipline, more respect for the law and a much larger percentage of our citizens who understand that their actions do have consequences. Here is a good example of what I am saying. Several years ago, prior to graduation of a large private school, a young lady was kicked out of school for drug use, three months before she was to graduate. The reason was because this school has a “Zero-Tolerance” drug policy and this student violated it. You may say that this was cruel. Well, it was, especially for the student who got kicked out of school. However, she knew the policy, as did all the rest of the students. As we all know, word has a way of getting around very quickly and the remaining members of the graduating class, as well as all future students, understand that their actions and behavior do have consequences.
When it comes to implementing “Zero-Tolerance” policies, there are a number of things that should be understood up front. This is not a partisan or religious issue. Nor is it based on race, gender or national origin. It is simply a concept that, when applied even handedly and consistently to those who violate the policy, conditions will improve dramatically. Of course, everyone should know what the policy is, and this is the responsibility of those who make the rules or set the policy. Wouldn’t it be great to have a “Zero-Tolerance” policy for members of Congress who are involved in a sex scandal? Would we ever have anyone unfit to hold office, be voted out by their peers, instead of having the media force them out of office?
While I am not sure how many people in our nation share my views, I believe we need to raise our standards in every area of society. As most of us know, we usually get what we expect and, as Americans, we need to expect more and demand more from our leaders. This includes not just members of Congress but leaders in education, business and industry, state and local governments, and anywhere public or tax money is used. One way to do this is to adopt “Zero-Tolerance” policies … let everyone know upfront what the rules are and then hold them to a higher standard.
You really want to know what gets to me? It’s when the Tiger Woods’ and Mark Sanford’s of this world are poor role models for our young people. I believe a person can have more money, win more titles and races than anyone else in the world, but still fail if they are poor role models. Yes, there are consequences, and our kids deserve better.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

824 THE LIFE-LONG IMPACT OF PARENTING STYLES

No. 824

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LIFE-LONG IMPACT OF PARENTING STYLES

What I want to share today can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many, many people. Dr. Charlotte Rainey Green has written one of the best and most insightful little books I have ever read. I say little because it only contains about 100 pages. It’s titled, “Because I Said So” and is about various parenting styles and the influence they have on a child’s development, self-esteem, behavior and success. Just remember, we were all children at one time and I believe we have a responsibility to help the children of today become good citizens and the leaders of tomorrow. This is especially true if we have children or grandchildren at the present time.
The book opens with the example of two pre-school girls, in different homes, getting too close to an open fire in a fireplace. Cassandra’s mother states firmly, “I told you not to get too close to that fire, Cassandra!” “Why can’t I get close?” Cassandra questioned. “Because I said so, Cassandra. Do not ask me why. Just do what I told you to do.” When their eyes locked, Cassandra quickly stepped back from the fireplace and watched her mother close the screen.
This scene is repeated in another home when Stephanie also moved too close to the fireplace. Her mother says, “Remember what I told you, Stephanie,” her mother said firmly. “I remember: Don’t get too close to the fire,” Stephanie recited in her mother’s tone. “That’s right. Fire is dangerous. Don’t let the beauty fool you. Fire can and will burn almost everything it touches.” “I know mom. You don’t have to remind me.” “OK, because it will burn your hand, just like it destroyed that house on the news last night.”
After these verbal exchanges, two years passed and both girls were entering kindergarten, same school, same class, with the same teacher. The first day Mrs. Icy, the teacher, prepared to read the class a story and showed them a picture. “Who knows what is in the picture?” Mrs. Icy asked. Both Cassandra’s and Stephanie’s hands shot up. So she called on Cassandra. “It’s a picture of fire,” she answered confidently. “That is correct, Cassandra. What do you know about fire?” “You don’t touch it!” she responded confidently. The teacher said, “Very good, Cassandra. Who else can tell me about fire?”
Stephanie was almost out of her seat when Mrs. Icy called on her, “Fire is dangerous. It can burn almost anything it touches. It burns houses and takes away people’s things, and you should not be fooled by its beauty.” This brief exchange set the wheels in motion for much more serious things down the road. In the teacher’s notes after class, she noted that Stephanie was exceptional with a good vocabulary, while Cassandra may need some remedial work. Here is the rest of the story. Cassandra is an African-American child while Stephanie is Caucasian.
Dr. Charlotte Rainey Green, who is African-American, points out that the parenting styles in the home environment, before each child enters school, could be the difference that charts the course for each child’s future. She lists three different parenting styles: Authoritative, Authoritarian and Permissive. She also talks about the African-American culture and the impact it has on achievement gaps and dropout rates. You will have to read the book to learn more, but this fine author, who did the research, really opened my eyes. The book is “Because I Said So” and was published by Outskirts Press.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

825 NEW BOOK TO AID BOOKCASE PROJECT

No. 825

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

NEW BOOK TO AID BOOKCASE PROJECT

It is with a humble and grateful heart that I announce the publication of my new book -- the New Revised Edition of “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” This book is unique for several reasons, certainly not because I am the author, but the foremost reason is because the printing was paid for by supporters of the “Bookcase for Every Child” project. To begin, at the urging of a state press director, in 2003 I published a book of my columns to sell and use the proceeds to aid various literacy projects, namely the Newspapers in Education program. This was the original version of “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”
As time progressed, with the help of a number of my fellow citizens here in Conway, in 2005 we started the “Bookcase for Every Child” project, still selling my book with the proceeds being used to purchase materials to build the bookcases. Then in 2008, the best fundraising idea the Lord has ever given me came along, namely for our committee to host a Bookcase Literacy Banquet and invite the whole community to attend and be a part of the project. In the next few weeks we will be hosting our fourth banquet, with last year’s being a sell-out. For $15.95 anyone can attend, receive a delicious meal, some great local entertainment and be given a complimentary copy of my book. Part of the proceeds is used for seed money for other projects.
However, the book was just a collection of my columns, and I personally paid for the first 10,000 copies, but it had nothing to do with our project, the need to improve literacy and as a way to bring awareness to the plight of children being reared in low-income families who have few, if any, books to read in their formative years. As a result, many of these children later drop out of school because they lack basic language, vocabulary and communication skills. No need to tell you the life facing a young person who is a school drop-out: According to The National Institute for Literacy, 85 percent of all juvenile offenders rate as functionally or marginally illiterate.
Long story short, I saw the need to have a book that was a basic self-improvement book that would help any person to live a happy, successful and fulfilled life, while at the same time making it clear that literacy was the foundation for success in any endeavor in our modern society. The book has been published and paid for by 143 of our supporters, mostly from Conway, whose names are printed in the final section. The final section also includes a list of books that I have read and highly recommend and The Coach Garrison Challenge, issued by Coach Cliff Garrison. Cliff is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and was coach and Athletic Director at Hendrix College for 31 years. You will love his challenge.
The Governor and the Arkansas General Assembly have recognized our project and it’s now spreading to other communities. My vision has always been to have thousands of communities across America have a “Bookcase for Every Child” project to help children in their community. Our project was featured in the American Profile magazine in August 2011, fourth largest in the nation with a readership of 10 million, and the response has been nothing short of amazing. Every person who attends a Bookcase Literacy Banquet anywhere in the nation will receive a copy of my new book or send a $20 non-tax deductible donation to Bookcase for Every Child, 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. No one associated with our project earns a penny as it’s all about giving back. We don’t use any tax money or grants of any kind.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

826 THE RULE OF LAW!

No. 826

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE RULE OF LAW!

Here is one of the most compelling statistics in all of society and affects every law-abiding citizen, whether they realize it or not. According to the National Institute for Literacy, 85 percent of all juvenile offenders rate at functionally or marginally illiterate. In our local daily newspaper, perhaps yours as well, we have a section that runs several times each week titled “Police Beat.” In this section you will find reports released by the Conway Police Department that lists the various incidents, or police calls, that occur in our city over the past 24 hours or longer, depending on when the report runs in the paper.
We have one or more homicides reported from time to time, along with the usual armed robberies, muggings, purse snatches and many others. To give you a good idea, here are some incidents that were in a recent “Police Beat” that I read: harassing communications, public intoxication, violation of a protection order, sexual assault, terroristic threatening, theft of property and property damage. Have you thought about the fact that a high percentage of individuals who are involved in these incidents are functionally or marginally illiterate? Again, we all pay a price whether we realize it or not.
In our community, our overall crime rate is fairly low because we have a good police department and they are on top of the crime problem. The thing that makes any community safe, more than any other, is something we call the Rule of Law. The rule of law in its most basic form is the principle that no one is above the law. The most important application is the principle that government authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps referred to as due process.
The principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance, whether by a totalitarian leader or mob rule. Since this column runs in newspapers all across the country, please allow me to stop here and ask you a few questions. How safe is your city or community? Is the Rule of Law strongly exercised where you live? Do you feel safe when you leave home, in the daytime or at night? While my column is basically a “community” newspaper column, I have been seeing something in the news that is very disturbing to me.
This is the rise of something called “flash mobs,” where a group of people, mostly teenagers, swoop down on a business of some kind and just loot it in mass, taking anything they can get their hands on. Apparently these “hits” are coordinated with the use of cell phones and they enter an unsuspecting business establishment, take what they want and are gone before anyone has time to call the police. For the most part this is happening in large cities, but you can see where this is taking us if the authorities do not put an end to it. You can be sure that those responsible for actions of this type do not have any respect for the Rule of Law.
I am sure you know that the best way to deal with problems of this nature is to stop this activity before it spreads or gets a toehold. This usually requires harsh action and severe consequences for the offenders. Of course, catching them is something else. When people are functionally or marginally illiterate, they are failing in life and we all, as law-abiding citizens, pay a high price. Our Bookcase for Every Child project can make a difference.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.

827 NORMAN VINCENT PEALE OF LITTLE ROCK!

No. 827

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN
NORMAN VINCENT PEALE OF LITTLE ROCK!

Back in May of 1970, I went into business with my former Dale Carnegie instructor, the late Bob Gannaway, to distribute the Earl Nightingale attitude motivation programs that were being produced on cassette tape. A few weeks later, I was explaining to a lady what we did, and after a few minutes she said, “Oh, you’re the Norman Vincent Peale of Little Rock.” At the time I did not know much about Dr. Peale, but at least had heard of him. Suffice it to say, this lady was paying me a high compliment and I didn’t even know it. Since the day of that conversation I have learned a good deal about this amazing man who, over the years, has been an inspiration to millions of people.
Dr. Peale was born on May 31, 1898, in Bowersville, Ohio, and died on Dec. 24, 1993, at the ripe old age of 95. For 52 years he served as pastor of the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. He is the author of a great number of books, the most notable being “The Power of Positive Thinking” and “Enthusiasm Makes the Difference.” In 1945, along with Raymond Thornburg and his wife Ruth, they founded the famous publication Guideposts. Most older Americans have read or at least heard of Guideposts, and it has continued publishing after the passing of its founders. Today it has a weekly circulation of 2.3 million copies.
Sometime back I discovered a copy of his book “A Guide to Confident Living” in my library and began to read it. I am not even sure where it came from. In the book he shares story after story of how, over the years, many top business executives came to him who were deeply discouraged, hurting and sick, not physically, but in their mind, spirit and in their soul. As in the case with many people, the last place they wanted to turn was to God, but they were desperate. Dr. Peale, in a very gentle way, encouraged them to attend church, be quiet and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to them. In the vast majority of cases, the outcome was life changing.
One of the things in his book that struck me as being of value was his 10 rules for saying your prayers. Without any precondition, I pass these along simply for any interest and value they may be for you. 1. Set aside a few minutes to be alone and quiet. Relax body, mind and spirit by turning the thoughts away from problems and fixing the mind on God. 2. Talk to God simply and naturally, telling Him anything that is on your mind. Do not think you have to use formal words and phrases. Talk to him in your own language. He understands it. 3. Practice talking to God as you go about the business of the day. On the subway or bus, or at your desk, close your eyes for a moment to shut out the world and have a word or two with God. This will remind you of His presence and give you a sense of His nearness.
4. Affirm the fact that God is with you and helping you. That is to say do not always beseech God for his blessings, but affirm the fact that He is now giving you His blessings. 5. Pray with the thought that your prayers reach out and surround your loved ones with God’s love and care. 6. Think positive, not negative, thoughts when you pray. 7. Always state in your prayers that you are willing to accept God’s will, whatever it is. 8. In your prayer, simply put everything in God’s hands. 9. Say a word of prayer for people who do not like you or have treated your badly. 10. At some time during every day, say a word of prayer for this troubled world, for our community and for lasting peace. And peace to you, too!
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

828 THE HIGH COST OF BACON!

No. 828

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE HIGH COST OF BACON!

Even though I like bacon, I quit buying it several weeks ago when the price of the brand I like went to almost $5 a pound. It was not that I could not afford it, it was the principle involved, and besides I could buy a great 97 percent fat-free slice of ham for a dollar a pound less.
Now I know there are various market factors involved that determine the price, but the one that overrides all others is called supply and demand. Apparently a lot of other people agreed with me, because the price of my bacon has come back down. As a result, I have started picking up a package now and then.
I have shared this example to talk about another kind of bacon, which as you know is made from pork. The pork being doled out by members of our nation’s Congress is literally killing us and is one reason for our massive national debt.
Here is the bottom line and the point I want to make. In our society we have gotten so used to members of our congressional delegation bringing home the bacon or pork to our district that we are willing to look the other way when it comes to his or her character. It has been said that character is the stamp on our souls of the free choices of good and evil we have made through life.
A good case in point is former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represented the 9th Congressional District in the state of New York. Congressman Weiner was elected to Congress in January 1999 and resigned from office in June 2011 due to a sexting scandal that began when he posted a link to a suggestive picture of himself on his public Twitter account. There is much more about this affair that I could say, but won’t. However, he would still be in office if left to his fellow congressman to boot him out -- rather it was the media that did him in. Personally, I am so thankful for the American media, in spite of their shortcomings, who understand there is a limit to what a person can do and still remain on the government payroll.
In spite of this sad state of affairs, the thing that is most egregious to me is that in a subsequent survey of the people in his district, 56 percent of his constituents said it did not matter at all to them what he did in his personal life. When I heard this, my first thought was, “Boy, I sure would not want any of these people representing me in Congress.” While not a true reflection of the attitudes of voters in all parts of the country, it has a lot to say about what is important and what is not important, at least in former Congressman Weiner’s district.
As I thought about this, two observations came to mind. First, is the morality so low that a majority of his voters think it’s the norm and don’t see anything wrong with the kind of bizarre behavior that finally led to his resignation? Second, so long as Congressman Weiner was bringing home the bacon or the pork, regardless of his poor character, in the end is that what really matters? If that is the case, the price of bacon is way too high. It has been said that a better world begins with me. Certainly I am not perfect, but I do know what is right and what is wrong. While only time will tell, together we can make a difference.
If enough of you feel as strongly as I do, we can begin to hold our elected officials to a higher standard. For the sake of future generations of Americans and our country, we must hold our elected officials accountable. They take an oath when they are sworn in. Let’s boot them out of office if they don’t live up to it.
P.S. As a postscript, apparently the survey about 56% of voters in his district not caring was wrong or the voters had a change of heart. In the following election to replace Congressman Weiner, voters elected a Rupublican for the first in in almost 100 years. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

829 THE CONSEQUENCES OF OVER-CORRECTING!

No. 829

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE CONSEQUENCES OF OVER-CORRECTING!

If you drive an automobile, at some time or another you probably have experienced this situation. You are driving down the road doing the speed limit when you are distracted or maybe doze off. Your vehicle veers off the side of the road onto the shoulder. In the vast majority of cases, you just firmly take the steering wheel and make the correction and soon are back where you belong.
Now, depending on how far off the road you are and how fast you are going, a more severe course of action may be necessary. It’s right here that many people over-correct and they find themselves fighting the steering wheel, trying to keep the car on the road and not in the ditch on the other side. I am sure you will agree that many accidents happen just like the scenario I have described. This can be and sometimes is fatal.
This example came to mind when a friend sent me something in the mail the other day. It was a series of scenarios that point out how many people handle problems today, as opposed to back in 1957. This may help to explain why America has been in the proverbial ditch in many ways for the past several years. To say it very simply, too many of our citizens lack basic common sense, and when it comes to solving problems they have over-reacted and over-corrected. Please read on and see if you don’t agree.
Scenario 1: Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck’s gun rack. 1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his own shotgun to show Jack. 2010 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.
Scenario 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school. 1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies. 2010 - Police called and SWAT team arrives – they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.
Scenario 3: Jeffrey will not sit still in class, and he disrupts other students. 1957 - Jeffrey sent to Principal’s office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again. 2010 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Jeffrey has a disability.
Scenario 4: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt. 1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman. 2010 - Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has an affair with the psychologist.
Scenario 5: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school. 1957 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal in the hall. 2010 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.
There is more, but I want to make a comment or two before my space is gone. I realize that we live in a different day and time. Often we do have to err on the side of caution because of the negative and often satanic forces in our society today that were not around back in 1957. Really this is about using some “common sense” and not over-reacting. Don’t be guilty of that.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

830 AM I MY KEEPER'S BROTHER?

No. 830

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AM I MY KEEPER'S BROTHER?

It is often said that an honest confession is good for the soul. I certainly hope this is true. This is because I am about to make one. For most of my life I have known what an idiot was, but I had no idea what an idiom was. Do you know? If you do, you are way ahead of me in this area of our various language peculiars. Fortunately, this changed for me several weeks ago while attending an interdenominational prayer breakfast at one of our local churches. A well-versed gentleman by the name of Joe Heird, who has become my friend, brought the program that day and he talked about Idioms.
In case you don’t already know, an idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is comprehended in regard to a common use of that expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made. There are estimated to be at least 25,000 idiomatic expressions in the English language. In linguistics, idioms are usually presumed to be figures of speech. Moreover, an idiom is an expression, word, or phrase whose sense means something different from what the words literally imply. When a speaker uses an idiom, the listener might mistake the actual meaning, if he or she has not heard this figure of speech before.
Idioms usually do not translate well -- in some cases, when an idiom is translated into another language, either its meaning is changed or it is meaningless. As you can guess, this drives teachers of ESL (English as a Second Language) crazy. If you are like me, you have probably been using idioms all the time and did not know what they were. Here are some of the more common, with maybe a comment or two by me, thrown in here and there. You will recognize that a good number of these come from the Bible, and if you are interested you might even look up the scripture references from where they came.
Here we go: “Fly in the ointment. My heart’s desire. Three score and ten. See eye to eye. Put words in one’s mouth. No rest for the wicked. Go the extra mile. Fight the good fight. O ye, of little faith. Woe is me. Living off the fat of the land. Can a leopard change its spots? Fall from grace. Don’t cast your pearls before swine. Wolf in sheep’s clothing. Writing on the wall. Sweat of your brow. Thorn in the flesh. Pride goes before a fall. Skin of your teeth. It is better to give than to receive. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Man after his own heart. Wash your hands of the matter.”
There is a little difference in an idiom and a cliché. A cliché is just a truth used so many times that it has grown old, while an idiom is a figure of speech that is separate from its literal meaning. In preparation for writing this column, I went to the Internet and found scads of other idioms. One that struck me was “Zip your lip.” Now we both know that you cannot put an actual zipper on your lip but another way to say the same thing is “keep your mouth shut.”
When I read the idiom, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” which comes from the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible, I had the mental picture of a monkey sitting in a cage in the zoo, being fed by his caretaker and the monkey was asking himself this question, “Am I my keeper’s brother?” For sure, an interesting way to close this chapter on Idioms.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

831 WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE!

No. 831

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE!

If you have a tendency to get discouraged from time to time, and who doesn’t, I have some thoughts to share that I believe will help to charge your battery. Our discouragement is usually the result of an outcome that was less than expected or we have something bad or negative happen to us. What I want to accomplish during the time you spend with me today is remind you of the source of discouragement and what you can do about it.
Whether you agree or not, there are Satanic or evil forces in the world that work to undermine our happiness, peace of mind and our determination to accomplish our goals. What we all need to do when we are having a bad day and become aware of this situation is to say, “Get behind me Satan -- you are not going to win this one, I am.”
There is a phrase we can all use when we are tempted to dwell on the past or be pulled down to the gutter in regards to our thinking. We just need to realize that everything that has happened to us in the past is “water under the bridge.” Certainly we need to profit from our mistakes and try to learn from them, but to constantly dwell on something that has no future just does not make good sense. Without meaning to be personal, what are you doing at the present time that you could be doing better? When I worked for the Nightingale-Conant Co. several years ago they had a motto that went, “Human Beings Are Improvable.”
Now, I believe that, do you? It is estimated that every human being has latent potential that he or she is not using. I know I am not using near all of mine. We just need to pay the price and look for ways to do a better job: as a parent, student, employee, educator, businessperson or any number of other roles. What I am talking about is really an attitude that says, “I can and I will” rather than giving in to the forces of evil that are all about us. Now, granted this may sound like Pollyanna, but it works. Many of the greatest thinkers of all time have come to the same conclusion.
William James of Harvard University has said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” Thomas Jefferson once said, “You are not what you think you are. You are what you think. Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” In the Bible we read, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” The key to success is that when we get down on ourselves, to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and take corrective action that will produce the results we want.
I have found, and I believe you will to, that when bad or negative things happen to us that we can’t do anything about, the best thing is to say “that is water under the bridge,” put it behind us and move on with fresh optimism and a positive mental attitude. It has been said that the world will stand aside for the man or woman who knows where he is going. I hope life is good to and for you and you are making the most of the time you have left here on earth. We will all run out of days at some point in the future, so let’s do our best to make them count for something really worthwhile. The only thing that is truly lasting and will bring personal satisfaction is what we do for others.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

832 HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO HELGA'S BAR?

No. 832
The Next Password is Dill

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO HELGA’S BAR?

Helga is the proprietor of a bar in downtown Detroit. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now and pay later. Helga keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting her customer’s loans). Word gets around about Helga’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Helga’s bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume in Detroit.
By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Helga gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most popular consumed beverages. Consequently, Helga’s gross sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic vice president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Helga’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral. At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS.
These “securities” are then bundled and traded on the International Securities markets. Naïve investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as “AA” “Secured Bonds” are really debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses. One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Helga’s bar. He informs Helga, who suddenly demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts.
Since Helga cannot fulfill her loan obligations, she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Helga’s 11 employees lose their jobs. Overnight, DRINKBOND prices drop by 98 percent. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.
The suppliers of Helga’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firm’s pension funds in BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debts and with losing more than 95 percent of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that has endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor who immediately closes the local plant and 150 workers are laid off. Fortunately, though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion-dollar no-strings attached cash infusion by the government.
The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Helga’s bar. There are winners and losers here. Does this story sound familiar? A special word of thanks to my friend Bud Green for sharing this with us.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The Next Password is Dill

807 - LIFE IS JUST NOT FAIR

No. 807

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

LIFE IS JUST NOT FAIR!

We often hear the statement that “Life is just not fair.” There is another line we can add to this statement that is equally true. It never has been fair and never will be. There are many different areas of life where this applies but one of the most fundamental, often overlooked in our society, begins at birth.
If you will contemplate what I am going to say in this column and really give it some thought, you may never look at another human being the same again. It has to do with genealogy, and who our parents are or were. For example, one child is born into a loving family, parents are successful, educated and do their best through precept and example to rear their children in a Godly home, steeped in family values.
On the other hand, another child is born to a crack-addicted single-mother, who may not even know who the child’s father is, and is living in a small, roach-infested, apartment in the ghetto, on welfare, illiterate and a school drop-out, with eight siblings under the age of 10.
The irony of these two examples is that the child, in each case, had no choice whatsoever in choosing his or her parents. This is the reason life is so unfair and why we should be very careful when it comes to judging the less fortunate who come across our path each day. Quite often when I am at the fitness center doing exercises in an attempt to ward off senility, I see people who weigh more than 400 pounds and have to take the elevator because they cannot make it up the steps. These people need compassion, not ridicule or scorn.
Another factor in the equation when it comes to life being unfair is that we all inherit the genes, hereditary characteristics and predisposition for certain diseases from our parents. When we have a serious medical problem, the first question usually asked is “did one or both parents have this condition?”
Keeping what I have just shared in mind, the United States of America is perhaps the best place on earth to be for the person who was not born into the best of circumstances, has one or more parents with a history of serious medical problems, or may be physically or mentally handicapped. In spite of our huge national problems, because of our political and economic systems, we still have more opportunity for success and happiness than 90 percent of the rest of the people on earth.
One of the reasons this is true is because that ill-fated child may encounter one or more positive role models early enough in life to provide some of what was missing in the early years. We see examples on every hand where a Godly mother, a fine teacher, a great coach, a compassionate boss, a pastor or someone of high character was there at a very critical time to fill the void. Earlier I said that if you would seriously consider what I was going to say that you would never look at another human being the same again. Just realize that if you are beautiful or handsome, and have a lot of good things going for you, it was in all likelihood because fate smiled on you in who your parents are or were.
It is true that life is just not fair, but don’t make it even more unfair by looking down on someone who may not have had the same good fortune that you have had. It has been said that heredity is something everyone believes in until his children start acting like fools. We should treat everyone with respect, as this is the best way to honor those who have helped us.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

808 - THE VALUE OF FAMILY LITERACY

No. 808

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE VALUE OF FAMILY LITERACY

If there is one thing I have learned in almost 20 years of writing columns, it is that what I have to say is just so many words on paper unless I can express my thoughts and ideas clearly, with conviction. It must also be of interest and have real benefits for the vast majority of my readers.
If you will tune me in and really think about what I have to share today, I believe you will agree that this one qualifies on all counts. As you may know, my real passion is literacy, especially helping children in disadvantaged or low-income homes learn to read at an early age. A member of our Conway Bookcase Project Committee, and a former teacher, told me recently that if a child is not reading at grade level by the third grade, the chances of this child later winding up in prison are very high.
As you may know, illiteracy affects every single person in our nation, either positively or negatively. No literate or highly successful person in our society is above having an illiterate school drop-out who can’t find a job, steal from or rob them, or even worse, take their life. And this is just one example of how we are all affected. To improve literacy and our schools, reading must begin in the home with what is often called Family Literacy. I have a favorite aunt who has taught fourth grade in one of our local elementary schools for almost four decades. Several years ago she shared a school newsletter that contained the following article.
FAMILY LITERACY: Family literacy is a powerful and innovative approach to education. It is a bridge that leads to a more literate future for American families. It is often said that reading can take us places that we have never been. We can soar as high as a bird, travel to an exotic land, sail upon the open sea, or become a hero or a villain, all within the pages of a book. There is no better way to connect, educate, and just have fun with children than to read to them. (Parents and grandparents are you listening?) Here are 10 ways to encourage children to read.
1. Share at least one book every day with your child. 2. Select a quiet, comfortable place to share a book with your child. 3. Children need to see reading as a fun thing to do if they are to become good readers. Make reading a family fun ritual. Allow for age and needs of your child. 4. Listen to your child and encourage his/her listening. 5. Think and talk about the stories that you read as you go about daily life.
6. It is OK, even good, to read the same story repeatedly to your child. Children love to hear books repeated many times. Let your child turn the pages, touch the book, explore. Be patient. 7. Children are never too young to read to! Babies respond to sound and language before they are born. 8. Even when children can read, they still need to be read to. 9. Take your child to the library. 10. Apply for a library card and use it regularly.
Here are a few closing comments to consider. In the age of technology where we now live, all the major companies are spending billions of dollars on advertising to entice a younger audience to buy all the latest gadgets, including cell phones. However, for a person to succeed in life, he must be able to read. This fact makes it even more critical for parents, and grandparents, to begin Family Literacy in the home. When I encounter people who are struggling, I also see the results of poor reading and communication skills. This is why reading must begin very early in life.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 175 - WHAT "IS" YOUR BAG?

No. 175

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHAT "IS" YOUR BAG?

There is an expression we hear quite often in our part of the country, and perhaps in yours as well, that goes, "That's not my bag". Most of us have said this at one time or another. I know from time to time I talk with someone about giving a speech and they respond, "That's not my bag." This expression would be apropos in many other activities as well. This simply means that whatever we do not like or want to do, for whatever the reason, "That's not my bag" would be fitting and appropiate.

The other day I was thinking about the fact that as unique human beings we have different interests, likes and dislikes and this to some degree determines how we spend our time, both leisure and in the persuit of our job or career. For example, it would be much more crowded than it already is if everyone liked to play golf, fish, bowl, fly an airplane, or a multitude of other things. Many of us have similiar interests but we are really and truly unique and thank God for that.

While the expression "That's not my bag" is negative and it does rule out for many of us the opportunity to learn and explore new and exciting things, it is however, more or less the norm. It's easier to think negative than positive and that's why on a percentage basis, so few people are truly successful. With these thouhts in mind I would like to go a step further and ask you this question, "What "is" your bag"? Have you ever thought about it in view of what I've been saying?

Along this line, something I heard a while back may be of value to you. We can acrosticize the word "bag" and take a personal inventory. The letter "B" stands for blessings. What are your blessings? If we would stop every once in a while and think of all the things we have to be thankful for, in the areas of personal, family, career, income and opportunity for service, we would face each new day with a much better attitude. As I've said before, on a human level, attitude is everything.

The next letter "A" stands for accomplishments. What have you accomplished so far? Can you look back over the years and pick out a number of things that you have accomplished that are a source of pride and personal satisfaction? The list could encompass such things as perfect attendence, awards, honors, offices or positions held, rearing successful children and other things that bring you joy and happiness. For each person this is different, but I know if you would give it some thought, there are many things you have accomplished during your life time.

The next letter "G" stands for goals. What are your goals, both short and long term? Do you have any? Are your goals written down on paper with a definite time limit? From my own experience, I can tell you the number one reason for boredom, and that is because most people don't have any goals. When you see and hear people who are down in the mouth, critical of everything and everybody, you can just bet they don't have any exciting goals they are working to achieve.

It's been said that a person without a goal is like a ship without a rudder. These people are tossed to and fro by every wind that comes along and they just drift through life without any real purpose. If you do not have any clearly defined goals, I hope you will think about what I have said in this light. To kinda sum it all up, here is that important question again, "What is your bag"? What are your blessings? Your accomplishments so far? Your goals? I believe you will agree, this is really something to think about. In the final analysis, the difference between success and failure is, to coin an athletic term, "taking care of business." As W. Clement Stone says, "DO IT NOW!!" (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 176 - ARE YOU "SEEDING" YOUR MIND?

No. 176

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

ARE YOU "SEEDING' YOUR MIND?

Each Spring for the past several years, my wife and I have planted and raised a small garden. We both enjoy the therapy and the fresh tomatoes, onions, radishes, beans, potatoes, squash, cucumbers and the other vegetables we grow are always delicious. We also enjoy having guests over for dinner and giving some of it away to family and friends. Along about the first of March, I begin to get the soil ready and the big debate begins. What are we going to plant and where? We usually compromise and do it her way. Other than the plants we buy, something that always comes up is the question about seed. Do we use some of the seed left over from the previous year or do we go to the store and buy fresh seed? I prefer fresh seed, using the logic that the cost is so small, compared to all the hard work I have to do to get the soil ready, to take a chance on not getting a good stand. Of course, to some degree each of these decisions are important if we are to maximize our potential for a good harvest.

At this point I would like to change gears a bit and use what I have just shared as an analogy to the human mind. Have you ever thought about the fact that a human mind must also be "seeded" if it is going to be productive and produce a good harvest, which is to say, to enable us to live a happy and successful life.

A while back I read a column where the writer was talking about the fact that "good ideas" are everywhere, and at the end of the column she encouraged her readers to send her column ideas by E-Mail. I know from my own experience of writing for over 20 years that my good ideas would dry up very quickly if I did not constantly "seed" my mind. I have a number of resources I use when I sit down to share with you and these include the World Book Of Facts, a book of quotable definations, a set of encyclopedias, my files and library, the Bible, a pink binder that contains several years of collecting quotes, concepts and humorous stories, my personal experiences and listening to and reading about interesting people. Really and truly great ideas are everywhere, if we will just take the time to look for them. In writing as in speaking, the key is to share our experiences in such a way that it will help other people to be happier and more successful.

To expand a bit on what I have just said, think about the person who works in a factory and punches a time clock. Once they punch in, usually this person will do some routine things over and over again. After the new wears off and this person has the routine down pat, there is little or no challenge to grow mentally unless he or she takes the initative to learn new things and expresses a desire to move up in the organization. A quick aside here. Most people want more money, but they do not want the increased responsiblity that comes with it and this can be very frustrating.

This same principle is true for every other person who is employed, and it doesn't matter whether they work in the public or private sector of our economy. To grow and succeed as a business owner, manager, employee or whatever our job description or title,

we must continually "seed" our mind with new and better ideas in these highly competitive times in which we live.

When I write each of these columns, I have a set of established criteria that I follow that I trust may give you some ideas. No.1-Must be national in scope. No.2-Positive & Upbeat. No.3-Personal benefits for my readers. No.4-Variety of topics that will meet a specific need in the lives of as many readers as possible. No.5-Have fun..light when appropiate. I just try to do each of these things to the best of my ability. I hope at every opportunity you will"seed your mind" with with good, positive information. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 177 - A CANCER IN OUR SOCIETY

No. 177

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A CANCER IN OUR SOCIETY

This past week I sent a small contribution to the American Cancer Society in the hopes that, along with millions of others, it may help medical researchers find a cure for this dreaded disease. Regardless of the type or part of the human body it attacks, if left unchecked, it will continue to devour healthy cells until it squeezes the very life out of its victim.

Furthermore, it is no respector of persons and practically every family in our nation, regardless of status, has been affected in one way or another. With regards to cancer, we have all asked questions like, "Did they get it all?", "Is it in remission?", and "What is the prognosis?". Sadly, cancer is among the leading causes of death in the United States.

Unless your name is Rip Van Winkle, you also know there is another form of cancer in our society today that is equally, if not more dangerous to the health and well being of our nation. I'm referring to the breakdown of moral, ethical and spiritual values over the past several decades. If the erosion and decay of these important values is not checked and rebuilt, it will result in the downfall of the greatest nation in the history of civilization.

If you have read my column very often in the past, you know that I am an eternal optimist. I believe in success. I encourage individuals to reach for the stars, to use their God-given talents and abilities to serve others, and in return receive all the rewards, both tangible and intangible, that life has to offer. But you and I both know this is only possible if our nation remains free and the opportunities afforded by a free market economy are available to us in the near and distant future. Furthermore, we can't just assume that this will always be the case if we don't take care of what we have.

A while back I ran across a quotation by former President Harry S. Truman that pretty well sums up what I am saying, "Always tell people the truth. They can handle it." To be sure, we can handle the truth. It's the lies under oath, the bribes and kickbacks, the scandals, the pervasive and widespread cheating and the blatant, open immorality that we can't handle. When I say we, I'm talking about the millions of God fearing, honest, responsible and hard working American Citizens who love this country and want to perserve our way of life.

In the long run, the individuals involved in the activities I mentioned will ultimately pay a price for that they do, but in the meantime our standards are lowered and the unsuspecting are caught in the web of personal destruction before they truly understand the consequences of their actions. We must be reminded again and again that our leaders, whether political, business or others in high positions must be held to a higher standard than people in the general population. In time the example they set establishes the very basis for our culture. Contrary to what many people think, you don't raise morale in an organization, it filters down from the top. It's the same principle with leadership in our society and nation.

As I've said before, I don't get involved in partisian politics. Unfortunately, many people are so turned off by politics as usual that they don't even take the time to go and vote. Our system of government in our nation has served us well, but I have never been an active member of any political party. In every general election, I have always voted a split ticket, because I vote for the candidates who I feel are best qualified and who have America's best interest at heart. In the final analysis, we either will or will not stop the spread of this cancer in our society, but the stakes are high, especially for future generations. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 178 - THE OLD COUNTRY CHURCH

No. 178

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE OLD COUNTRY CHURCH

A while back my daughter gave me one of those not so small, refrigerator magnets that has a line drawing of an old antique automobile. It has the words "Dad Is A Classic" printed on it. There was a time in my life when I thought someone who was sixty years of age had one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peeling. But now that I have reached that magic number, it's not so bad and I certainly don't feel old. In fact, mentally I feel better and fresher than anytime in my life.

One of the advantages that I have now that I didn't have when I was much younger is that I see things from a different perspective. I have lived long enough to not only see and experience some of our wonderful modern inventions like the television, jet airplanes, the cotton picker, computer, digital sound and the Internet, but I was also around when life was much simpler.

While it may be just wishful thinking, I would like for us to be able to hold on to the best of both worlds. Wouldn't it be great to have all the modern conveniences that we have today, like those in a modern kitchen for example, and not have the massive social and enviormental problems that were not so evident thirty to forty years ago? Again to place things in perspective, please consider this: since 1960 there has been a 560% increase in violent crime, more than a 400% increase in illegitimate births, a quadrupling in divorce rates, a tripling in the percentage of children living in single parent homes and a 200% increase in teenage suicides. This may be the reason there is a massive wave of nostalgia that sweeps over many of us from time to time.

Because I'm not dumb, I know it's impossible to live in the past, but we can hold on to some of the traditional values that have served to make our nation the greatest in the history of the world. There are many symbols of the past, but one that holds special meaning for me is "The Old Country Church." I grew up in a small town and was not around when it was most prominent, but I'm reminded of it's virtues each time I hear these words set to music, "Oh, I'd love to go back to that old country Church and to hear the songs of praise. How the people would sing..It would make the heavens ring, in that old country Church".

A few days ago I was reminiscing with a friend and we were trying to decide on an era or period of time in our nation's history when "The Old Country Church" played the most prominent and significent role in our culture. We finally settled on a time that was before the advent of television and maybe just prior to most people owning an automobile. From what I have read and seen on television, it was back in the days when a father would hitch up a team of horses or mules and the family would ride to Church in a wagon. There were few large buildings or meeting places in those days and the Church was more or less the center of the community.

When people went to Church on Sunday it was a all day affair; preaching, singing, dinner on the grounds and kids running everywhere. Many people were married in the Church and were usually buried in the nearby cemetery. During these hard times families prayed together and stayed together and the values that were taught, both in the Church and the home, made it possible for us to become a great nation. These were also the people who volunteered for military service and made it possible for our nation to win two world wars. In a very real sense, those of us living today owe our very freedom to these people. In case you didn't already know, or had never thought about what I've shared, the next time you hear the song, "The Old Country Church", I hope you will be reminded of what these good people have done for us. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 179 - THINGS WE ALL WANT TO KNOW

No. 179

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THINGS WE ALL WANT TO KNOW

The well known speaker and author Dennis Waitley once said, "The mind has an amazing quality. It doesn't automatically gravitate toward truth, right, justice..the best. It gravitates toward what it is exposed to the most." When I first read this statement I said, "Eureka...I've found it!!" I finally realized how all the people I see and hear on talk shows can sit there and spout "untruths" and use them as the very basis for what or who they are promoting. It simply boils down to the fact that if we hear something long enough and often enough we will tend to believe it, even though it could be miles from the truth.

In relation to this, here is something that applies to me, you and every other person. If we are not building our lives on "truth" we are building on sand and sooner or later, the sand will be washed away. To me, this means we should always check our references or the foundation that is holding us up. Like the surveyor who must always find the pin or cornerstone, we cannot proceed with firm assurance until we know the right starting point, which for us is the truth. Personally, I believe the Bible is the source of all truth and I'm willing to base my future and my life on it. As I read and study the Bible, the Holy Spirit teaches me Godly laws and principles that I can apply to any situation or set of circumstances.

Before I discuss two questions that we all want to know the answers to, I would like to say that I know I make mistakes. When I discover that I have made a mistake, I will do my best to correct it. I will also do my best to always tell you the truth and try to do it in a helpful sort of way. The two questions that I mentioned a moment ago are, "What's in it for me?" and "Is it worth it?" Now, collectively there are billions of things we want to know and questions we could ask, but when it comes to our basic human nature these two questions are near the top of the list.

Let's just take them in order. The question "What's in it for me?" is an expression of our legitimate self-interest. Each time we spend our money, render a service, give a gift, develop a skill or talent and every other human activity, this question comes into play. It's important to understand that what we receive in return does not have to be material, money or other tangible objects. It can be in the form of satisfaction, peace, joy, contentment and increased self-esteem.

The other question, "Is it worth it?", simply projects the other half of the equation. In order to get something we must always give up something in return. It may be our time, our money, our reputation, and many other possessions. A good example would be to win a Gold Medal in the Olympics. You know, or can visualize, I'm sure, what a person would have to give up in order to do this. In the beginning, of course, the question was, "Is it worth it?" Once the answer is yes, they are willing to commit all of their resources to make this dream or goal come true.

Hopefully, you are still with me because I want to bring what I have been saying into sharp focus, and share a thought that will enable you to achieve whatever you want out of life. Because of the wonderful LAW OF RECIPROCITY, we always get back from others what we first give. What I mean by that is that we have to serve "FIRST" and the rewards will come as a result. In view of this great law, instead of saying, "What's in it for me?" rather say, "What can I do for others?" and think about their needs. You will find, as I have, the more you do for others, with the right attitude and the right motive, the more God wll bless you. I can make you this promise. A life of serving others will give you more rewards than anything you could ever do. "It is worth it!!" (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 180 - HAVE YOU "HUGGED" YOUR CHILD TODAY?

No. 180

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HAVE YOU "HUGGED" YOUR CHILD TODAY?

There is an old saying that goes, "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn't work and it annoys the pig." I had not heard this saying in many a moon until I heard a well known TV Judge use it on a program I was watching the other evening. This Judge was trying a case that was brought by an elderly couple who were trying to get the money back from a "sensitivity seminar" that was paid for by their children.

If you have ever seen or heard something that caused a "flashback" to an earlier time in your life, then you will appreciate even more what I'm going to share with you. What this elderly couple had gone through was to them a humiliating and stressful three day seminar that was designed to remove their "inhibitions" and make them more sensitive and loving toward their children.

After hearing the sordid details of what went on during the seminar however, I could understand why these old people were stressed, but their children were so desperate they were willing to try most anything that might make a difference in their relationship. Here are a few of the details that will give you some insights that may be of value. The elderly mother, who did most of the talking, came to this country from Baghdad, Iraq when she was ten years of age and had later married the children's father. This was back in the days when times were extremely hard and they both worked to provide a meager living for their family. As is often the case, the children's physical needs were met, but they received little or no affection from their parents. Years passed, and while the two sons and a daughter knew deep down that their parents loved them, there was never a strong bond of love between them and this left a real void in their lives. .

Now, years later, they were so desperate for a meaningful relationship with their parents they had paid for them to take the sensitivity seminar. Well, it didn't work and that's when the Judge made the comment about "annoying the pig." She dismissed the case, but in doing so she reminded the children that they were fortunate to still have their parents and she also helped them realize that the hard times they had gone through had taken their toll on quality time and their affection toward them.

As this story unfolded, it caused a "flashback" in my mind to the days when I was growing up. My parents were good people, hard working, honest and they did their best to provide for my sister and me. We didn't have much money but we knew they loved us. My father however, was considerably older than my mother and I very seldom ever saw any open display of affection between them. I can't ever remember seeing them hug or kiss and they very seldom hugged us, at least after I was old enough to remember.

As I look back now to times with our extended family, there were few hugs and kisses when we got together. To say it very simply, we were just not a "hugging" family. They were and are good people and most have done well. It was not until I married my wife however, that I began to realize how much I had missed. She came from a large family and they were "huggers" and openly demonstrated their love and affection for each other.

Today, our children are all grown and have families of their own. Now, when we are together I always "hug" each of my children and tell them how much I love them. What I have shared here is very personal, but if you have children or grandchildren I hope you will give each one a "hug" and tell them you love them. While teachers, friends and other people can do this, it's just not the same. They need it from "YOU" and they need it every day. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 181 - LIFE GETS "TEDIOUS"...DON'T IT?

No. 181

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

LIFE GETS "TEDIOUS"...DON'T IT?

There is a word in the English language that we don't hear very often and this word is "Tedious", which means "Long and wearisome, tiresome and boring." About the only time I use this word is when my wife asks me to thread a needle or tighten the screws on her glasses. After poking the thread at the needle for about five minutes or trying to line the tiny screwdriver up with the slots, I usally say, this is really 'tedious.' In our modern society however, the word tedious is used most often in relation to "close work" like the person who has a job installing computer chips or working on an assembly line in a watch factory. Of course there are many other examples, but you get the picture.

The full and complete meaning of this word however, is only understood when a person must do this type of job for an extended period of time like 8 to 12 hours a day, for weeks, months or years on end. These circumstances have given rise to my title, "Life gets "Tedious, don't it?" My point being, the person who has this kind of job needs a break...and they need one often. While I love writing these columns and sharing positive ideas with you, I also need a break from time to time. You can only stay in a stressful mental state for just so long before it begins to take its toll. I don't know about you, but the thing that keeps me going is to always place things in perspective and try to really enjoy what I do. We are not going to do anything very well over the long haul if we don't have a little fun once in a while.

If you have not cracked a smile in a day or two, you may enjoy this story a friend told me the other day about an old maid that had a great sense of humor. When she went to the funeral home to prearrange her funeral, she requested all women pallbearers. When they asked her why, she replied, "Well, if the men couldn't 'take me out' while I was living, I sure ain't going to let them 'carry me out' when I die!"

Here are a few more humorous stories I found tucked away in my files that you may find amusing or if you make talks, you may be able to use them. I'm not sure where I got these stories but apparently I picked them up at an educational conference, because as you will see, they are slanted toward parents or educators. Now, picture yourself in an audience and the speaker has been introduced and he says, "You know, I've always wondered, how do history teachers keep a straight face when they tell students the early settlers came to America to escape high taxes?

A while back, we had a county agent come to talk on the dangers of rat infestation. When a student stood up to thank him for coming to talk to the class, she said, "We didn't even know what a rat looked like until you came to school." When Johnny came home from school the other day, he said to his father, "Here is my report card and here is an old one of yours I found." You know what FEAR is, don't you? "Fear is watching your teenage son drive off in his four wheeled lawsuit." I passed by the Civics classroom the other day. The teacher was yelling at the top of her lungs, "I don't care what your father says, money is not this country's chief export."

Finally, we have been concerned about some of our students, but it looks like the counserlor has come up with a solution. He says, "The vocational aptitude of some of our students indicates their best opportunities lie in a field where their father holds an influential position." As I said earlier, "Life gets "Tedious", don't it?...that is, if you don't have a little fun. Hope you have enjoyed these thoughts on the "lite" side. You know, we should always take what we do seriously, but we should not take ourselves too seriously. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 182 - THE "TWO-LEGGED" STOOL

No. 182

The next password is earl

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

"FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH"

Over the past several years I have discovered something for myself that has had a tremendous impact on my life, and for "what it's worth" I would like to share the essence with you. It is common knowledge that a human being is made up of basically three parts..the body, the mind and the spirit. We also have an immortal soul which is interrelated with the spirit, but that's a different story. According to Webster's New World Dictionary the body is defined as "The whole physical structure and substance of a man, animal or plant. The mind is that which thinks, perceives, feels, wills, etc; seat or subject of consciousness." The spirit is "the vital or aminating force in living organisms, especially man, often considered divine in origin." The reason I wanted to give you these definations is so we would all be on the same page.

Please understand, it is not my purpose here to get into Theology or dig too deeply into what could be a very complex and even controversial subject. Rather, I'm more than content to stick with common sense and the practical aspects of what I want to share that most people will accept at face value. One of the most desired aspects of what we call "life" is to have good health. In fact, the American people spend billions and billions of dollars each year on health insurance, medications, dietary supplements and trips to the Doctor or hospital when a crisis arises.

Now "for what it's worth", here is what I have discovered that has made a tremendous difference in my life. I am blessed to have a wife who is a fantastic cook and she feeds me good nutritious meals. It's up to me however, to exercise and do other things that will help me to keep my BODY in good physical condition.

When it comes to my MIND, I have learned to be very selective in what I read, watch and listen to because what goes into my mind will sooner or later come out. It comes out as speech, actions and behavior. You no doubt know the computer term G.I.G.O. which stands for "Garbage In..Garbage Out." This is a perfect example of how the human mind works and in time will have a great bearning on the quality of our life.

While we all know that it is important to feed our body if we are to live and its also an accepted fact that our mental diet, or what goes into our mind, is also very, very important. What's not so widely known however, is that if we are to be a happy and contented person we must also feed our SPIRIT. From my perspective, many of our problems in society are brought about because millions of people are spiritually and morally bankrupt. This is to say these people are spiritually hungry and may not even know it.

Little did I realize it at the time, but in 1984 when I made the decision to read the Bible through once each year and to spend some quiet time each day with the Lord, it would completely change my life. At this point I was not only feeding my body and my mind but I was also feeding my spirit. What a difference this has made in my attitude and how I view other people and the world around me. I also listen to QUALITY spiritual music, like the songs and videos produced by Bill & Gloria Gaither and the singing of gospel artists like Squire Parsons, Anrde' Crouch, Carmen and the late Ethel Waters.

Here don't be misled and compare this with other types of music. It's not the singing or the music but it's the words that really makes the difference. As I said earlier, this is just "for what it's worth", but if there are times when you are lonely, discouraged or sad, why not take time to 'feed your spirit' and I believe you will find as I have, that it will make a tremendous difference in your life. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

The next column password is: Earl

No. 157 - THE SCOTT PENDLETON STORY

No. 157

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE SCOTT PENDLETON STORY

William Penn, the English Quaker and founder of the State of Pennsylvania once said, "Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in another still." These words, I think, better than any other, describe a wonderful young man by the name of Scott Pendleton. Scott was the Grandson of my long time friend, the late Win Pendleton who lived in Winderemere, Florida.

One day shortly before he passed away I got a note from Win, along with a news article, saying that at the age of 31, Scott had been killed in a tragic automobile accident near his home in Mesa, Arizona. Because this dear man was so very special to me, rather than a few words in a sympathy card, I just picked up the phone and called him. It was obvious from the beginning that he was hurting, but slowly he began to tell me about Scott and the wonderful life he had lived.

Scott was a skilled musician and played French horn in the University of Miami band. He later transferred to the University of Michigan where he received a degree in music. Shortly thereafter he took a job with the Mesa, Arizona public schools teaching music to fourth grade students in three elementary schools. From the beginning he had an uphill battle because he was teaching violin to 30 students and many did not want to be in his class. You know how you would feel if you did not want to take violin but mom and dad said you had to.

One thing that made Scott's classes unique is that he taught the Japanese method of playing the violin. While I am not a musician, I have been to Branson, Missouri and had the pleasure of hearing Shoji Tabuchi play the violin at his own theater. If Scott could teach these youngsters to play the violin like that, they would have something they could be proud of for the rest of their lives.

Because this young man had a wonderful, magnetic personality, plus being a very gifted musician, he began to win his students over. It was not long before there was a waiting list to get into his classes. In the area of human relations here is a technique that Scott used that could help any of us. When he was having difficulty with a particular student, he would say something positive and complimentary about this student to the other members of the class. Before long, word would get back to this student what the teacher had said. A changed attitude was almost always the result.

In a day when our society cries out for good role models I just thought you would be blessed by reading his story. He came to town with nothing, and although he was there for only a few short years, he left with everything. A good name, an impact on many of the people that he touched and a legacy that will live on for many years to come.

This was most evident when it came time for Scott's funeral. There were over one thousand people who came to the viewing at the funeral home and over one thousand people who came to the service the next day. In addition to family and friends, the mourners included members of the school board, administrators, teachers and students.

The television newscast that evening in this city of 300,000 people devoted about five minutes of coverage to his funeral and it featured comments from teachers and one of his students who told about the impact that Scott had made on his life. A Scott Pendleton Memorial Fund has been established with an initial deposit of $10,000 to help needy students to buy musical instruments. Scott Pendleton is too soon gone, but his life really counted. He truly did make a difference. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 158 - THE PESKY LITTLE ROOSTER

No. 158

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE PESKY LITTLE ROOSTER

A few years ago I had the pleasure of traveling over to Claremore, Oklahoma and speaking to the Annual Progress Banquet sponsored by the local newspaper. The city of Claremore is also the home of the famous Will Rogers Memorial Museum and I found the time to visit it while I was there. What I saw that day was so very, very impressive and if you have never been there, I would enthusiastically recommend that you go see it because you will be glad you did.

Will Rogers, the cowboy humorist, was talented in so many different fields and especially as a writer. I've taken a moment to add this personal touch because I want to enlist one of his quotations as a basis for what I want to share with you in this column. He said, "it's just as important to be reminded as it is to be educated." The reason this is true is because the human mind is like a two edged sword. We often forget some of the most important things but remember many other things that have little merit or lasting value.

It is in this vein that I would like to ask you to think with me about a human weakness that many people have, including myself, that could help us achieve greater success in our lives. When we interact with other people, many times in our enthusiasm about what is taking place in our lives we move from sharing to telling and then to bragging. And sometimes it's very difficult to know when we have crossed the line.

When we begin to tell someone about our job, career, kids, hobby, team and a whole hosts of other things, most people don't mind if we share it with them. Usually they welcome the news unless we are an out and out "bore", but we begin to get on shaky ground when we talk about our success. If you are not careful, we come across as bragging.

To be honest, this is a failing of mine, especially when I am telling a newspaper publisher or editor about the merits of our column. Because I have deep convictions about what I believe the Lord has called me to share with you, I don't mean it that way, but later I realize that this is the way I may have come across.

We have all heard people say after their hand was called, "toot your own horn, lest the same be never tooted." To be sure, we would all be better off if we never had to make this statement. Now, I've already confessed and if your personality and enthusiasm lends itself to bragging a little once in a while, this very pointed story might be of value. I know it has reminded me to be more sensitive in the future.

"When I was a boy in the country we had a pesky little rooster that was a mighty big crower. Finally, we got tired of it and took him to market. He was priced according to his weight rather than the noise, because crowing doesn't bring anything in the market place. No wonder, for all its noise, not being, not doing." This is another way of saying, it's not so much what we say but what we do that really counts. As George Eliot once said, "A donkey may bray a good while before he shakes the stars down."

In the final analysis bragging never accomplishes anything, not even in prayer. So, all our boasting today will be naught tomorrow. How frantic, how vain, how futile. And finally this quotation by the French philosopher, mathematician Blaise Pascal, "Do you wish people to think well of you? If you do, then don't speak well of yourself." That's pretty sage advice but in these days of the "me" generation, it's pretty hard to do. Our human frailties is the reason I believe Will Rogers said, "It's just as important to be reminded as it is to be educated." What you do about this particular reminder, of course, is your own private affair. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 159 - THE LAW OF CONSEQUENCES

No. 159

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LAW OF CONSEQUENCES

While working with people over the years one of the most reassuring truths I've ever discovered is that we all have the potential to do a better job than we are now doing and consequently earn more of the rewards that can be ours. The reason this statement is true is because of a natural law that operates in the universe called, "The Law Of Consequences." Are you familiar with this law? Do you truly understand that every "action" will have a "reaction" and for every act we perform there is a natural and appropriate consequence?

What I'm going to say next is not from my intellect, but from my heart. I feel so sorry for many people I see in the news each day. The radio, television and newspapers are filled with stories of people who either didn't know about the "Law Of Consequences" or they thought it would not catch up with them when they were committing immoral, unethical or illegal acts. Unfortunately, what these people failed to realize is that by committing these acts they were just sowing seeds that would sooner or later come up and the evil exposed for all to see.

While working as a businessman consultant with our nation's public schools, in relation to wrong deeds or actions, I've had many students make the statement, "It's ok to do it, if you don't get caught." Here again, as in my earlier example, these students did not truly understand the "Law Of Consequences." Even if their wrong deeds or actions were never discovered or revealed, they knew about them, which in time would take an even greater toll. We can never escape from who we really are.

Here is something we should always remember. When we commit a serious crime, it's not something that happens just once and is behind us. It stays with us as long as we live. Have you ever heard of Benedict Arnold? He became a traitor and actually tried to sell West Point. The evil first settled in his heart and then it ruined his life. We should continually and forever be aware of the great "Law Of Consequence" that says, "No wrong ever goes unpunished" and for every evil thing we do, there must be a natural and appropriate consequence. Now I ask you, what could be simpler to understand than that?

But I would do you a real disservice if I did not also point out the positive side of this great natural law. Just as all evil deeds will be punished, all good or righteous deeds will be rewarded. This is the law that allows us to tell our own fortune. When our deeds and actions are based on truth, honesty and integrity, over time good things will come to us. Now, this is not to say that bad things do not happen to good people. We all know they do. Here it's not so important what happens to us but whether we act on it or react to it.

The other day a friend and I were talking about all the good things that were happening in our lives and she made the comment, "Even a lot of good Christian people fail to realize all the blessings they can receive from being of service to others. They just don't get it." She is right. If we will just look for ways to help other people, with the right attitude and the right motive, more good things will come our way than we ever dreamed possible.

Please understand, I give God the glory but I am deeply grateful for letters and phone calls from readers all over the country who express appreciation for our column. At this point we have about 180 newspapers in 27 states who run it and when we started, I never dreamed this would be possible. I can only say "THANK YOU" to all of you who have called or written to encourage me. You're the best!! (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 160 - DO YOU BELIEVE IN LUCK?

No. 160

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DO YOU BELIEVE IN LUCK?

Someone once said that LUCK is "when the bread falls on the floor with the buttered side up." It is also "a lazy man's estimate of a workers success." Because there are millions of people in our prosperous nation who base their future and their success on luck, I felt it might be a wise use of our time to dig into this topic a little bit.

I'm sure you have heard this statement before: that man or that lady is the luckiest person in the world. We have all been around people who seem to have the Midas Touch or the Luck O' The Irish and everything they touch turns to gold. Maybe you are this kind of person and if this is the case, I hope your luck never runs out.

To gain a little deeper insight into this word that we all like if it's preceded by the word "good", this question please. What is LUCK? Mr. Webster defines luck as the fortuitous happening of fortunate or adverse events, or simply "good fortune." Now, here is a personal question that I believe will bring what I am saying a little closer to home. Do you believe in luck? Please give some thought to your answer because it may have more effect on your future than you may realize.

While this is a very personal thing, for what it's worth, please permit me to share how I view luck. I believe in luck up to a point. The point being, I'm not going to depend on luck to build my business, make a living or feed my family. If some luck or good fortune comes along, fine, I'll take it and thank the good Lord for it but that's as far as it goes.

The truth is, there are some people who are lucky, like the person who wins the sweepstakes or the lottery. In this case, these people simply beat the odds, a million to one, a hundred million to one or whatever they were. In reality however, for you as an individual the odds are better that you will be struck by lightening than to win a lottery jackpot. The lottery people always put the "winner" on television for promotion but it would take several years if they were to give the same treatment to all the "losers" and put of them on television.

Talking about odds reminded me of the man who was about to get on an airplane for the first time. He said, "What are the odds that there will be a bomb on this plane?" The airline official said, "We have done a study and the odds are a million to one that there will not be a bomb on this plane." This man said, "I don't like those odds." The airline official replied, "Well, if you will take a bomb on with you, the odds are a billion to one that there won't be two bombs on this plane."

But back to the word LUCK for a moment. Most of us who live in this great country consider ourselves lucky to have a job, good heath, a good home and all the other blessings that many of us take for granted. In planning our future however, most of us need to be reminded of some things from time to time. First, we need to understand that luck comes most often when preparation meets opportunity. As I have said many times, the smarter and harder I work, the "luckier" I get.

If you really want to increase your chances for good luck, here is how to go about it. The letters in the word luck stand for Labor Under Correct Knowledge. When we work or labor under correct or true knowledge, the odds are good that we will be far more successful. While we have to make our own decisions, instead of buying lottery tickets or gambling on our future in other ways, I believe we should invest our money in real estate or Treasury Bills or something that has the potential to grow. It's this kind of thinking and acting that will produce a bright future. In short, we can make our own "lucky" breaks by making wise choices. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 161 - THE GENUINE ARTICLE

No. 161

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE GENUINE ARTICLE

One of the things I love about small children is that they are totally, and often, brutally honest. The former radio and television personality Art Linkletter made a good living interviewing kids who always said, "The Darndest Things." A good example is the story I heard about the mother who gave little Johnny a dime to put in the collection plate during Sunday School. After Church the mother asked, "Johnny, did you put your money in the collection plate?" He said, "No, me and the devil are gonna have us some bubble gum."

While little Johnny may not have pleased his mother, at least he was honest, which is more than we can say about a lot of politicians these days. If you are concerned about the breakdown of ethical character, integrity and basic morality in our country, I have some things to share that I hope you will seriously consider.

In view of all the scandals that have taken place the past few years, it's obvious we must return to the basic morality and ideals of our forefathers. There has been and always will be sin, but even during my lifetime I have seen it move from the discreet, to the big screen, the tube, the tabloid, the front page and now the Internet.

Please understand, I don't have any political axes to grind and it does not make any difference to me which party they belong to, or their gender or national origin. I can say with complete honesty, I just want what's best for America and the American people.

The question in my mind is, "What kind of nation will we have in the 21st century if we don't return to basic morality and character values that made it possible for the United States Of America to become the greatest nation on earth."

What every American needs to realize, if they don't already, is that we are not "independent" but rather we are "interdependent." This means in the long run we must depend on each other. When we see people who are dishonest, won't pay their bills, tell lies, fail to pay their taxes and commit acts of gross immorality, it affects every person in this country. If left unchecked, this kind of behavior just lowers our standards and we all ultimately pay the price.

While I don't know how you feel about it, I love people who are genuine. This is to say they are real and don't engage in half-truths and double talk. I'm sure you know that a half-truth is still a lie. When it comes to the right way to live, to act and to treat our fellow human beings we have something that will serve as a guide that I would like to call "the genuine article." You know it as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and ever since the days when God gave them to Moses on Mt. Sinai, they have been the basic moral code that has guided all civilized people.

If you have not read THE TEN COMMANDMENTS in some time, why not take a moment and read them here. If you will read each one slowly and think about what it means, I believe you will agree that America can take a giant leap forward if we will take them serious and began to obey them again.

1. You shall have NO other Gods before me. 2. You shall NOT make for yourself any idol or graven image. 3. You shall NOT take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy. 5. Honor your father and mother so that your days may be long. 6. You shall NOT murder. 7. You shall NOT commit adultery. 8. You shall NOT steal. 9. You shall NOT bear false witness against your neighbor. 10. You shall NOT covet. I hope your life is a source of hope and inspiration to those who know you best. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 162 - THE DAY THEY'LL STOP LAUGHING

No. 162

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE DAY THEY'LL STOP LAUGHING

One evening last week the phone rang and on the other end of the line was a lady who reads my column in one of our many fine Kentucky newspapers. After she introduced herself and told me where she was from, she said, "I've been meaning to call you for some time. Each week after reading your column I feel better." She then went on to tell me that she works as a hairdresser in a beauty shop and is constantly around negative people.

After thinking about our conversation I decided to share some of the highlights with you because there are so many working people who are in a similar situation. If you have ever experienced this kind of environment, you know it can be terribly depressing. It's almost like working and living under a wet blanket. If my column is helping this dear lady to cope with her circumstances, I say, "Praise the Lord" and I hope some of the ideas I share in the future will help her to rise above her circumstances. I know it's easy to feel trapped but really, life is too short to be unhappy.

In reality, we must first achieve success in our own life before we can ever be in a position to help someone else. It should be understood that success means different things to different people. Here I'm not advocating that this lady quit her job if being a hairdresser is what she is good at and what she likes to do. She also told me that she is involved in a multi-level marketing program. This may work out but the odds are against her. In her case, she would be much better off in the long run, if she saved her money for a few years and either started or bought a beauty shop of her own. She would then be in a position where she could control her enviorment.

In case you don't know or have wondered why so many people are negative, I believe I can shed some light on this subject. If you will do some research as I have, you will find that the vast majority of negative people have no goals. Without goals there is no way to score or to win. In other words, these people may cheer when their football or basketball team wins but they don't have much to cheer about in relation to their own personal success.

When you find people who are negative and down and out, you will find other people just like them because these are the kind of people they want to spend their time with. Misery loves company. Over a period of time this negative environment creates a negative state of mind. What's important to realize is that negative talk or comments must first be formed in our mind before they are expressed out loud.

In many cases negative people have the same talents and abilities as positive people, but they have just never seen it or believed it. One of the things that holds a person back when they begin to seek a better life is that they must make a break with their old friends and places where they hang out. For the person who decides to make the break, it's like the story of the crabs in the bucket. One crab gets almost to the top and freedom but just before he gets out a crab from the bottom reaches up and pulls him back down. Another technique they use is to laugh and make fun of the person who is trying to better himself.

Here is perhaps the most important point I can make in relation to what I have been saying. In our society no one laughs at a true "winner" and the way to become a winner is to keep our own councel, set some short and long range goals, save and invest 10% of our income, and work hard and stay with our plan. If what I'm saying applies to you or someone you love, when you become a "winner" you will know it and so will they. I can promise you the day you move up in the world is the day they'll stop laughing. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 163 - MOUNTAIN TALK

No. 163

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

MOUNTAIN TALK

William Smith, the father of English geology, once said, "Language is the memory of the human race." In recent times, progress and advancement in education have altered the course of human history. When it could be truthfully said, "the pen was mightier than the sword," the fulcrum of power was no longer brute strength, but people's ability to use their native tongue with grace and ease. While America is a land of diverse peoples and cultures, our rich heritage is something we should always strive to preserve.

Several years ago I had the honor of being the speaker for the Yellville, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce Banquet. Yellville is a quiet little town on the Ozark plateau, not too far from the Missouri border. The morning following my speech I had breakfast at a little restaurant called the Cedar Inn. I understand it's no longer in business but back then their place mats contained something called Mountain Talk that I found to be very interesting.

Before I share a portion of this information with you, I would like to point out or at least emphasize that one of the greatest things about our country is that we have a common bond. Regardless of who our ancestors were or where they came from, what we do for a living, whether we are rich or poor, we are all Americans. We should take our responsibility seriously because we are all citizens of the greatest nation in the world.

Not only do we have a common bond, we also have a great diversity among our people which is also a great strength. As diversity relates to our language, millions of Americans speak languages in addition to English and many speak with an accent. Accents can reflect more than American's ethnic variety, they can reveal regional speech patterns as well. For example, I can't figure out why the folks in Boston think I talk funny. Mountain Talk, the article from the place mat that I want to share with you, contains regional sayings commonly used in the Ozark Mountain area. Some of you folks in the Mid-West, California, Washington and other areas where our collumn runs may find this a little more than unusual. Some of these sayings have roots in expressions found in England, Scotland and Ireland brought to this country by early settlers who lived in the mountain regions of the American South.

Here are some of the examples: A-fixin' means getting ready to do something. "We're a-fixin' to go to the store." Peaked means pale or sickly looking. "He's looking mighty peaked today." Fetch means to bring." "Go fetch the Doctor." Put-Out means angry or annoyed. "He shore was put-out about the meeting." Hesh-up means become quiet. "Make Jamie hesh-up." Clum means climbed. "I clum that hill for the last time."

Now, before I'm plum slap done, I would like to give you more of the sayings without the definitions and examples. You will probably be able to figure out some of them. Askeered of, doins, dast, holler, vittles, you'uns, cuttin' up, book read, fur piece, gully washer, lolly gag, crick, airish, kiver, skittish and smack dab.

These expressions have a way of touching my roots, and if you will think about it, you can probably trace yours back there too. You know, if we will take this line of thinking back far enough, we're all just chips off the old block. In all my years of speaking, the one thing I have learned is that if I want to be effective, I must speak in the language of those who are in the audience. I have found however, that clean humor is the one bond that unites us all. As Robert Louis Stevenson has said, "All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language until it finds a willing and prepared hearer." (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 164 - A BETTER HUMAN BEING

No. 164

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A BETTER HUMAN BEING

The late Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) was one of the finest human beings to ever grace this planet. Born in the Alsace region of France, during his long life he would become a missionary, theologian, doctor, philosopher, author and musician. Having resolved to devote his life to the service of humanity when he reached the age of 30, Schweitzer prepared by qualifying in medicine, and in 1913 he went to Lambar'ene' in French Equatorial Africa where founded a missionary hospital.

His hospital was supported almost entirely by proceeds from his many organ recitals in Europe and numerous lecture tours and publications. Always a leading exponent of JoHann Von Goethe, he came to the United States in 1949 to deliver an address at the Goethe Celebration in Aspen, Colorado. During his notable discourse he shared his faith in two basic ideals: "Purity and Kindness." He would later be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

When I read about Dr. Schweitzer and studied various aspects of his life, I was greatly impressed by how he used his God given talents. One of the things I most admire and appreciate about Dr. Schweitzer and his exemplary life, is that he was a trend setter. He gave us a standard, as a human being, that we would do well to try to emulate. Of course there have been others over the years, too numerous to mention, but were it not for great men and women who routinely placed others before self, the human condition would be much worse off.

Now, you may not share my convictions, but it seems in these days of the "me" generation here in America that we need people who will take a stand and live by Dr. Schweitzer's ideals of purity and kindness. Pure in the sense that our ethical character and morals are above reproach and that more of our citizens will develop a spirit of kindness that always considers the needs and feelings of others, as well as their own.

At this point I realize that to some people what I am saying sounds like Pollyanna but believe me, it's real life. I'm sure you know that an individual can become "world class" in many fields of endeavor and still be a lousy human being. Unfortunately, what these people miss is that when they come to the end of their life and stand before a Holy and Righteous God, they will not be judged on their accomplishments but on what kind of life they lived. Every week I see people who are changing their lives because they finally realize that what I am saying is true. Here it should be noted that what I am advocating is in no way meant to diminish the "spirit of competition" that has helped us individually and collectively as Americans to achieve great things.

We should always play hard and play to win, but always within the rules of decency and fair play. Whether it's in business, sports, politics or any other area of society, to win by any other means is shallow indeed. To my way of thinking we should reward those who play by the rules and disqualify those who don't. While not easy, the answer to our national ethical and moral crisis is simple. We just have to emulate Dr. Schweitzer's ideals of Purity and Kindness. The greatest power we have as a free people is the power to choose. We can choose what kind of leaders we have, what kind of government we have and most important of all, we can choose what kind of person we want to be.

What I want you to see is that if enough people feel this way and will take a stand we can make a difference. I'm hoping and praying that these thoughts will resonate and you will think about what I've shared here. The past is gone but from this point forward let's pledge that we will strive to be better human beings. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 165 - THE DOG AND THE RABBIT

No. 165

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE DOG AND THE RABBIT

The other day I heard an interesting story that may be of some value to you. This story will be especially meaningful if you are bored with your job, your marriage, your school or maybe even some of your friends. Incidentally, the American editor and craftsman Elbert Hubbard once said that, "Boredom is the essential nature of monogamy." Now, you may have to think about that for a moment, but boredom is a disease more crippling to the human species than most of us realize.

If you will think about the divorce rate, decline in church attendance, lost sales and productivity and many other things along this line, and see boredom as a big part of the problem, you will begin to get the picture. The story I mentioned earlier is called "The Dog And The Rabbit." In an allegorical sense, as it relates to living a more exciting and fun filled life, I want to suggest that you learn to live your life like a dog chasing a rabbit.

Now, please stop for a moment and think about what I have just said. Have you ever had the opportunity to look at a dog's face while it was right in the middle of a rabbit chase? Well I have, and believe me, it is the most satisfying and enthusiastic sight you could ever see. You can be sure when a dog is chasing a rabbit, in his mind, he has something wonderful to do.

As it relates to what I am saying, here is something else to think about. How many rabbits can a dog chase at once? While there may be several rabbits running around at the same time, a dog is lucky if he catches even one. There is something else that I might also point out here. I've never seen a rabbit chasing a dog, have you? Most of the time the rabbit gets away but the dog's goal is always to catch him.

However, here is the real moral of the story. The fun is in the chase. Now, let me pause here and say something very important because if I fail to get this point across, I've done you a disservice, and even more so if you happen to be bored a good portion of your time. The rabbit is the GOAL, and the fun is in the CHASE. In other words, "No Goal, No Fun, at least not for long.

Can you see and understand what I am getting at? Life is only rewarding and interesting when we are working to attain something that is really important to us. While we may not even be aware of it at the time, when this element is added life takes on new meaning and in the process we are having a wonderful time.

As it relates to what I was saying earlier about being bored with our job, our marriage, our school and maybe some of our friends, the truth is, it may be our fault. In a sense, this is why some people like to travel. They are always moving, seeing new things and meeting new and interesting people. Our journey through life should be that way. Unless we are retired or on vacation, we should never get out of bed without something wonderful to do and something to look forward to.

If what I am saying has any merit in your life and you are not already doing this, here are a few suggestions to get started. First, visualize the rabbit chase and notice that the rabbit is always out front. That's the GOAL. Secondly, stop here and set some goals for yourself. Write them down on paper and decide on the single goal that is most important. Remember, the dog can only chase one rabbit at a time.

And lastly, focus on that goal that you want to achieve and get started and each day when you get out of bed you will have something to look forward to. As a result, life will take on new meaning and "boredom" will be a thing of the past. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 166 - SOCIETY'S "THROW AWAY" KIDS

No. 166

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

SOCIETY'S "THROW AWAY" KIDS

One of our fine city police officers came and spoke to our Lions Club a few weeks ago on the subject of gangs and he really opened my eyes. If you know about gangs in America and their activity, what I'm going to say will be old news to you, but in my case I had heard reports about gangs on television but that was about all. In some of the smaller communities across our country gangs may not be a problem but they are so pervasive, the more we know about them the better off we will be. One of the handouts that Officer Haynes shared was titled, U.S. GANGS: AN ANALYSIS OF RECENT DATA, that was written and compiled by George W. Knox, Ph.D.. Dr. Knox is the director of the National Gang Crime Research Center in Chicago, Illinois.

The report covered a wide range of topics involving gangs in America and their activity and here are a few of the areas: gang members among the nation's prison population, racial conflicts among confined juveniles, simple questions, complex answers, gang proliferation or gang migration, gangs in high school, a breakdown of the various gangs state by state and it wrapped up with a summary, conclusion and some very good recommendations.

If you think we don't have a gang problem here in America here is a documented statistic. There are from two to four gang members for every sworn law enforcement officer in the United States. To me, that's scary. From all accounts, with a few rare exceptions, we know that gangs and their activity is bad news. Gang members are involved in illegal drugs, auto theft, and other crimes which either directly or indirectly affects every citizen in our nation. I feel a part of that affect each time I pay an insurance premium.

While statistics are important because they give us perspective, I always like to reduce things down to the personal level because this is where we live. The one thing that Officer Haynes said that stuck in my mind is that in most cases, gang members are Society's Throw Away Kids. Here is what he meant by that. More likely than not, a gang member at one time was a young man who was attending school but did not have the material things like most of his peers.

While this description is by no means exclusive, go back a few years and think of a young man who comes to school in old, worn out tennis shoes, faded blue jeans, no transportation and very little spending money. If this humiliation were not enough, he was often made fun of, ridiculed and was the butt end of jokes. About this time a gang leader comes along and sizes up the situation and begins to cultivate a new gang member. His approach is to provide this young man with things he was not getting at home. First, genuine acceptance into a group of people who become his friends. Then comes the success trappings of society like a gold chain, new clothes, transportation and spending money. In short, the gang has now become his family.

A gang member and his new family's bond is so strong that it can't be broken, even when he is sent to prison for selling drugs and other illegal activities. It's a sad but all too often true story. Unfortunately, there is much more that space does not permit me to share with you such as gang names, signs, graffiti, and how they wage war to protect their turf. Hopefully what I've shared with you has been of interest because I wanted you to know or be reminded of Society's Throw Away Kids. The way to deal with this problem is to become better informed and to identify potential gang members and help them before it's too late. What we need most in our nation is positive role models for our kids and we can all be that, if we choose to do so. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 167 - GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL

No. 167

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL

The German reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) has left us with this enduring thought: "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing." In the Bible in the book of Hebrews we find these words in 11:1, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." A person's faith is a very private matter, but as I have studied the Bible over the years, one of the most reassuring things I have come to believe is regardless of the events and circumstances we see about us, God is still in control.

This is something I beleive we all need to hear and think about from time to time, especially when we are discouraged. God is eternal and to understand His greatness and His awesome power is something we should not fear, but take comfort in. I was reminded of this truth in a new and dynamic way the other day when I read an article titled Perspective, that was written by the pastor of a Church in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Shortly after getting out of bed and washing the sleep from his eyes, this pastor begins by saying, "It was early morning as I put on my new jogging outfit and headed West toward the edge of town. The rising sun warmed my back as I turned the corner and crossed the river. The cobwebs began to clear from my mind. Once again, I rejoiced from that special exultation that comes from exercise and dawn. I swung West again and faced the monster hill at the edge of town. I had never come this way before and I was anxious to try this new challenge.

Halfway up the hill I began to have serious doubts. My legs felt as is spikes were being driven into them. My lungs seemed to be burning as I kept my eyes focused on the pavement. Each step I took made the snow capped Mt. Adams loom larger until the whole horizon seemed to be filled with its 12,000 feet majesty. The pain of running drained from my body, as I was filled with the wonder of God's creation! I topped the hill and ran past the airport. I glanced to the South and there stood Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens in equal splendor.

As I headed home, I saw the awakening city before me and my thoughts turned to its buildings and its people. I was struck with the contrast of the physical creation of God, and the struggle of life on this planet. I thought about a house where a young woman lived alone, abandoned by her husband; an apartment where two unmarried young people were living together; another house where religious differences were ripping a family apart; a house where divorce threatened to destroy the children; another house where alcohol had already crushed one of God's special creations; and still another cottage where a widow grieved alone. About this time I looked up and saw the church rising above the trees. Then I realized that God's redemptive power is still at work. Yes, God is still in control."

Along these lines another special blessing from God happened in my life just the other day. Because of my schedule and work load, I had allowed stress to build up in my body. So much so that my chest was hurting. First, I prepared myself a cup of hot tea and then sat down in my recliner, but that didn't seem to help. After a bit I took my Bible out on the deck and as the sun was setting and the rays were filtering through the trees, I read several chapters from God's word. After a few minutes I noticed that the stress was gone and I had perfect peace. Yes, in my mind and heart, I know that God is still in control. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 168 - THE "WHY DON'T THEY" SYNDROME

No. 168

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE "WHY DON'T THEY" SYNDROME

The other day I heard a story about this mother who took her young son to visit a church where they had a new minister. After it was over and they were leaving the service, the young lad said to the minister, "That was the worst sermon I have ever heard." The mother, somewhat flustered and embarrassed said, "Oh, don't pay any attention to him. He just goes around repeating what he hears other people say."

Hopefully you understand this is not a true story but it does serve to enhance a concept that if properly understood and applied, could be of real value. The key word in this concept that I would like to illuminate is "repeating" and the danger here is that if we repeat something often enough and for a long period of time, it could turn into a syndrome.

Over the past several years I have heard a lot about the various kinds of syndromes, but do you know what the word syndrome means? The dictionary defines this word as "a group of signs and symptoms that collectively indicate a disease or disorder." In other words, the person who develops a syndrome of one kind or another is sick, at least to some degree. Whether we have been personally affected or not, we all know about "Down's syndrome" and "Parkinson's syndrome."

However, the syndrome that I want to discuss with you here is curable, because it has to do with our human personality. Really and truly what I'm sharing with you here is good news. In recent years the behavioral sciences have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that a human being's personality can be altered and changed for the better.

As a basic premise for this discussion, I believe I'm safe in saying that most people, at some time in their lives have developed "hang-ups" of one kind or another. What I'm referring to here is people who form the habit of thinking in a certain vein for so long that they just do it over and over again until it actually becomes a syndrome. Many years ago I worked for a man who owned a laundry and he used the expression, "on the thing out there" at least 50 times in every conversation. In short, he had developed a syndrome.

As it relates to our own mental health I would like to narrow this discussion down to one particular syndrome that affects many people in a negative way. This is what I call the "why don't they" syndrome. Unfortunately, this is how many people view life. When they don't get the breaks they think they deserve, the all too often question, "why don't they" comes to their mind.

Without being aware of it, is it possible that you may have developed this syndrome? How often do you say, "why don't they?" Here are some questions we have all heard from time to time: "Why don't they like me?"-- "Why don't they treat me better?"-- "Why don't they accept me?"-- "Why don't they respect me as an individual?"-- "Why don't they give me a raise or a promotion?"-- "Why don't they do a number of other things for me?"-- "Bless my poor little heart!!"

Do you see what's happening here? If we are not careful, any of us can fall into the "why don't they" syndrome. What this is of course, is an attempt to transfer the burden of guilt for our failures to someone else. In our mind, it is really someone else's fault rather than our own. We all have our ups and downs and our good days and bad days, but we just need to be careful that our "self-talk" from the bad days does not turn into a syndrome. Please repeat after me, If-It-Is-To-Be-It-Is-Up-To-Me. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 169 - YOU TELL ME I'M GETTING OLD

No. 169

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

YOU TELL ME I'M GETTING OLD

It's often been said that "Age is mind over matter; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter." There is a great deal of truth in the saying, "you're only as old as you feel." To feel good most of the time is a blessing that most of us take for granted. When it comes to the subject of old age, someone once said, "Old age is a club that with luck we will all join."

I'm looking forward to it, aren't you? You may respond by saying, "I'm already old." This may be true in a chronological sense, because based on the letters and phone calls we receive, I know many of my readers are elderly people. Did you notice how I switched terms? There is a vast difference between being elderly and being old. This is to say we get old when it comes to our thinking and our ideas.

What prompted these thoughts was a poem I ran across the other day written by Dora Johnson titled, You Tell Me I'm Getting Old. While reading this poem I discovered it contained a profound message and I would like to share it with you. Even if you are not elderly, just be patient because your time will probably come. It's my sincere hope that this poem will be a source of great encouragement for you.

YOU TELL ME I'M GETTING OLD

"You tell me I'm getting old. I tell you that's not so! The house I live in is worn out, and that of course, I know. It's been in use a long, long while; it's weathered many a gale; I'm really not surprised you think it's getting somewhat frail. The color's changing on the roof, the window's getting dim. The wall's a bit transparent and looking rather thin. The foundation not so steady as once it use to be. My house is getting shaky, but my house isn't me. My few short years can't make me old. I feel in my youth, eternity lies ahead, a life of joy and truth. I'm going to live forever there; life will go on, it's grand. You tell me I'm getting old, you just don't understand. The dweller in my little house is young and bright and happy; Just starting on a life to last throughout eternal day. You only see the outside, which is all that most folks see. You tell me I'm getting old, you've mixed my house with me."

The message this poem contains is very clear. For Dora Johnson and those of us who have experienced the free gift of eternal salvation made possible through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, life will go on for eternity. While this is a very personal decision and this is between you and your God, I care about you and where you will spend eternity.

In reality, every book must have a final chapter, just as every person's life will someday come to an end. To me, it would be tragic to pursue our goals in life and strive to achieve success and then get to the final chapter and discover that we had missed the whole point of life. I hope you understand that every important decision you make is your own personal affair but whether you are a religious person or not, physical death is something that sooner or later we all must face.

While we are here, however, we should make the most of each day. I would like to leave you with these thoughts by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. The day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear with its hopes and invitations to waste a moment on yesteryears." (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 170 - WHAT KIND OF "TATER" ARE YOU?

No. 170

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHAT KIND OF "TATER" ARE YOU?

While I'm sure I miss the mark in many cases, it's my hope and prayer that I can share something with you in each of these visits that will make a difference in your life. As we work and grow together to develop and use more of our God given potential to serve others and to be happy and contented with who we are, one of the most important factors is our attitude. The person with a great attitude is head and shoulders above the crowd and, if not already, is well on their way to becoming a more productive and successful human being.

With these thoughts in mind I want to tell you about one of the most fantastic ladies I've ever had the priviledge of knowing. Her name is Willie Oates and while I have never had the courage to ask her age, she was a cheerleader for the Arkansas Razorbacks back in 1937-40, but since that time what a difference she has made in the lives of others! Without a doubt she has started or been involved in more civic, charitable and humanitarian organizations and received more awards and honors (including from 6 former Governors) than any person in the history of Arkansas. Wouldn't you know it! She is originally from Arkansas City, Kansas but she has become in institution in our state. Her resume, single spaced, is seven pages long and even you would be impressed.

One of the things listed on her resume is that she has traveled to all 50 states doing "hat" skits over a period of years. She is known far and wide as the "hat" lady and each time you see her in person, in the newspaper or on television, she will be wearing a 'hat' that is a show stopper, if you know what I mean. Recently I had the pleasure of being in her audience when she performed one of her famous "hat" skits. After some opening remarks she began to pull long Irish potatoes from a shoe box. Each potato had both ends cut off so it would stand up and she had painstakingly painted a face on each one so it could be identified as a person. As she continued to talk, she would pin a little hat on each potato and set it up before the audience.

Now here is the part that I don't want you to miss. She was very creative and this made the message she was sharing ten times more effective. The first potato she called 'spectator' or 'Spec' for short. She then talked about how most people never get too involved in anything worthwhile. In other words they are a 'spec-tater'. They show up for the meeting but that's as far as it goes. The next potato she called 'agitator' or 'Agie' for short. As she said, there are some people who never plan on getting too involved but their nature is to needle people and always ask controversial and emotional questions at the wrong time. This type of person is a "lightening rod" and quite often makes the sparks fly. Just one person like this can kill the enthusiasm of any group.

The next potato she called 'dictator' or 'Dick' for short. None of us want to be around, much less be under, any person who tries to be a dictator. Unfortunately, this is the style of many people but they are far less effective than they could be. The final potato was a little different color than the others because it was a 'sweet-tater'. She said old 'Sweet' is the one who has a sweet spirit, is always there and is willing to do more than their share. Every successful organization, profit or nonprofit, has people with these very important qualities.

I'm sure you know, not every person can or wants to be a leader. We need great leaders but we also need good followers if the job is to be done. When you boil it all down, (I hope you caught the pun) the big question becomces, "WHAT KIND OF TATER ARE YOU?" (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 171 - NEWSPAPERS IN EDUCATION

No. 171

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

NEWSPAPER IN EDUCATION

The American pioneer John Chapman (1775-1847) also known as Johnny Appleseed once said, "The task of education is to bring the young and the great together." What I believe Mr. Chapman was saying is when young people study the lives and careers of great men and women, they will be inspired to achieve greatness in their own lives. Young people need good role models and this is true for the rest of us as well. As a businessman who has worked with educators for many years, I have found that most young people do indeed want to become great at something during their life time.

While this will work out for a few students, the real challenge for the vast majority is how to use or apply what they have learned out in the world, especially in the market place. This has always been a real concern of mine, but along this line, just recently I have had the opportunity to get involved with something that I really feel good about. In our community, as well as hundreds of others throughout the country, there is a structured program called NEWSPAPER IN EDUCATION. This is a joint effort between the local newspaper, the schools, the business community and a number of individuals who care about young people and their future.

This past year I had the privilege of becoming a sponsor for an NIE teacher in one of our local elementary schools. This means I am personally paying for a class set of 25 papers each week throughout the school year. When I expressed an interest to my friends at the paper I never dreamed that I would be the sponsor for Mary Jones' 4th grade class at Ida Burns School. You see, Mary Jones was recently selected as The Arkansas Newspaper Foundation "Teacher Of The Year" for the newspapers in education program. This is why I said earlier that it was quality instruction, but all of the other NIE teachers in our community are doing a great job as well.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Mrs. Jones and she invited me to come and speak to her class. I spent over an hour with her students and they were bright, well mannered and not only participated but they had a ton of questions for me. It was a rewarding time and before I left, they presented me with a personal letter from each student thanking me for providing the newspapers and I was also given an album of photos showing various students working with newspapers during their instruction time.

I'm sure you know that community newspapers cut across all areas of society and they can be used to teach a multitude of practical and useful things to students. Every teacher who participates in NIE develops his or her own unique ways to use the papers in the classroom. They can be used to teach Science, Math, Social Studies, Health, History, and all phases of Consumer-Related topics that will help them for the rest of their days. Something else that's exciting to me is that, working with teachers in their area, The Mobile Press Register in Mobile, Alabama has developed a comprehensive list of ways to use the newspaper in the classroom. I have been given permission to share these and if you will send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, I will be happy to send them to you free of charge.

As you read this column, if you are a business person or an individual who would like to make a difference in the lives of some precious young people, you may wish to become an NIE sponsor. If you will call your local paper or your elementary school principal, I'm sure, even if they don't have an official NIE program, you will find a very positive response. The cost is very reasonable and you will be making an investment in the future...yours and theirs. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 172 - PUTTING SUCCESS INTO PERSPECTIVE

No. 172

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

PUTTING SUCCESS INTO PERSPECTIVE

The first time I met Ray I was impressed with his intelligence, energy level and commanding presence. Although he was just in his early thirties he was moving up the management ladder of a large company like a rocket. One evening when my wife and I were in his city, we made arrangements to have dinner with Ray and his wife Laurie at a well known restaurant. We had a pleasant evening but I was surprised at the amount of alcohol Ray consumed during dinner. When he told us he had recently been promoted to Senior Vice-President, I figured he was just celebrating a bit.

Laurie was a lovely person. She and Ray had one child, a son who was an outstanding football player at a major university. Tim was a blue-chip athlete, sure to be named All-American that year. Ray was excited about the prospects of his son going early in the NFL draft the following spring. As it turned out, Tim was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round and Ray called me long distance to relay the good news. If there was one thing I learned about Ray over the years, it was that only two subjects made him sit up and take notice. One was his son's football career. The other was money. At the time he was made Senior Vice-President, he confided in me that his net worth was already close to three million.

Ray was flying high, but little did he know that he was headed for a crash. The downward spiral began when the President of Ray's company announced he planned to retire later that year. Most of the employees felt that Ray or the other Senior Vice-President would move into the corner office when that happened. Top management insiders believed that Ray had the edge. Between the President's announcement and his actual retirement however, the pressure began to eat Ray alive. His drinking inreased and two or three martinis with lunch were the norm. Another change took place in his life as his former relaxed management style changed to a more dictitorial and demanding one.

When the President finally retired, few in the company were surprised when the other Senior Vice-President got the job. When Ray was informed of the decision he angrily resigned. After his resignation I lost contact with Ray but I learned that he had taken a job with a company in another state. He commuted back and forth but his drinking continued until Laurie moved out. She told him that she still loved him but he had to stop drinking. Some time later I ran into Ben, who was a mutual friend, and he told me that he had called Ray to have dinner so he could cheer him up. They were to meet at 7 O'clock but Ray never showed. Later he learned that around 6 O'clock Ray had put the barrel of a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was forty-five years old.

Here was a man who had everything to live for. He was wealthy, had a beautiful wife who loved him and a son who had fullfilled his dreams by becoming a professional football player. By most standards, he was successful. He had position, power and money, however he lacked some things that were even more important: peace of mind, happiness and contentment.

I believe you will agree this true story really puts SUCCESS into pespective. It can be found in the first chapter of a powerful and life changing book titled "ULTIMATE SUCCESS" written by Frank R. Baudine who lives in Dallas, Texas. Frank Baudine is the CEO of a major executive recruting firm and has had the opportunity to dig deeply into the lives and careers of top executives for many years. The book "ULTIMATE SUCCESS" is the best book on success that I have ever read. It's available at your local book store and is published by Tyndale House Publishers. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 173 - THIS IS NOT A CHECK

No. 173

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THIS IS NOT A CHECK

In my early days, when I was a kid growing up, we lived so far out in the country they had to pump sunshine in to us and when we wanted to go hunting, we had to come back toward town. Now we live much closer to the city and things are different. We have indoor plumbing and even have a telephone. Now, hopefully you realize that I am just kidding and I don't want to insult your intelligence like some people insult mine. The other day I got something in the mail from a home equity loan company that is located in another state that seems to be typical of the times. The top third of this sheet of paper was designed as a check from this company in the amount of $42,800. Where they got that number I'll never know but printed across the middle of this fake check were the words 'This Is Not A Check.'

Being as perceptive as I am, of course I knew this was a direct mail appeal for me (and it was made out to me, not jointly) to take out a second mortgage on our home in the amount that I stated earlier. In the letter below this fake check, they stated that if I wanted to increase or decrease this amount, just call the agent listed below. They were also liberal enough to say that I could receive these funds even if our property had no equity and if my credit had suffered in the past. The one thing they failed to do, however, was state the rate of interest for the loan.

Now, I would like to turn my comments to a more serious note and talk with you about the massive number of appeals for easy credit and debt consolidation. There is not a week that goes by that I don't see from 10 to 15 advertisements for loans of this type, and all tied to a tangible assett...our home. There is one big catch in all of these advertisements however, and that is the money has to be paid back....plus interest.

Apparently there are millions of people who are taking out these 2nd mortgage or debt consolidation loans or these companies would not keep up this level of advertising. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying here. I certainly believe in advertising and I also believe in credit, if it's used wisely. The problem comes for individuals and families, who do not exercise good judgement and wind up losing their home a few months or years down the road, and that's my real concern.

The reason these types of loans are attractive is because of what easy credit has done to millions of credit card users over the past several years. When a person is 'maxed out' and their level of income is not sufficient to continue with their acquired life style, there are hard decisions that have to be made. Unfortunately, in many cases the decision is bankruptcy. For others, it's taking out a home equity loan which reduces the amount of their payments each month.

Before I share the real problem, I would like to say that I realize this is a free country and every responsible adult can make his or her own decisions. My purpose here is not to try to tell you or anyone else what you should do. I just wanted to share some insights that may be of value to you or someone who seeks your council about taking out a loan of this type. There is a real pitfall for this type of loan and I hope you will think seriously about what I am saying.

These loans may be good over the long haul only if the individual is willing to change his or her behavior and their spending habits. Otherwise, the home equity loan will serve as a false sense of security and the debt will continue to grow and there will be a time when it must be paid. Unfortunately, that sports star that has been hawking the loan is not going to help repay it. If a real emergency should arise, it could be "the straw that broke the camel's back." I care !! (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 174 - HOW TO FLY OUR FLAG

No. 174

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW TO FLY OUR FLAG

The famous American, General Douglas MacArthur once said, "The American flag is the embodiment of our ideals and it teaches us not only how to live but how to die." The other day I got some correspondence in the mail from The Veterans Of Foreign Wars of The United States and it contained a little brochure titled, "HOW TO FLY THE AMERICAN FLAG." After reading it, I decided it was something I wanted to share with you in this column.

If you are someone who already knows the information it contains, please understand that I do not wish to insult your intelligence. After doing a little survey however, I find that most people do not know there is a right way and a wrong way to fly our nation's flag. I hope you will join me in helping to enlighten some of the citizens of this great country. Before sharing this information I want to go a step further. If you do not own a flag with a holding bracket or a flag and pole like we have, why not purchase one at your earliest convenience and display it at the appropiate times and in the proper way?

First, here are ten rules on how to properly fly the flag. No.1-The flag should be hoisted brinkly and lowered ceremoniously. No.2-The flag is never allowed to touch the ground or the floor. No.3-When hung over a sidewalk on a rope extending from a building to a pole, the union stars are always away from the building. No.4-When vertically hung over the center of the street, the flag always has the union stars to the North in an East/West street, and the to East in a North/South street. No.5-The flag of the United States Of America should be at the center and at the highest point of a group when a number of flags of states or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs. No.6-The flag should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds but always allowed to fall free. No.7-The flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day then raised to the top of the staff. No.8-Never fly the flag upside down except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. No.9-The flag is never flown in inclement weather except when using an all-weather flag. No.10-The flag can be flown every day from sunrise to sunset and at night if illuminated properly.

The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year's Day, January 1st; Lincoln's Birthday, February 12th; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Easter Sunday, variable; Mother's Day, 2nd Sunday in May; Armed Forces Day, 3rd Saturday in May; Memorial Day, Last Monday in May (half staff until noon), Flag Day, June 14th; Independence Day, July 4th; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Citizenship Day, September 17th; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Navy Day, October 27th; Veterans Day, November 11th; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, December 25th, and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of states (date of admission) and on state holidays.

And lastly, here is the Pledge Of Allegiance to our flag. When you pledge, please stand reverently, face the flag, remove your hat or cap, place your right hand over your heart and begin, "I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." When it comes to patriotism and love for our country, this is something we have to teach, especially to our young people who have never fought a war to preserve our freedom. When the opportunity presents itself, why not talk with your children and grandchildren about why it is so important to respect and honor our Nation's Flag? (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

NO 841 THE REAL WORLD KEEPS SCORE!

No. 841

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE REAL WORLD KEEPS SCORE

Literacy is perhaps our most critical skill. It can mean the difference between a life well lived and a life of hardship. Unfortunately, more than 93 million Americans read at or below a basic level -- with 30,000 in Central Arkansas alone struggling with the burden of illiteracy every day.
These words were taken from a brochure I picked up recently when Kelly Bullington, local representative for Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, spoke to our Lions Club. Kelly, a graduate of the University of Kansas, was articulate and very knowledgeable, but the thing that stood out the most for me was the obvious passion she had for her work and helping illiterate adults learn to read. That’s what I like to see. If a person is not passionate about what they do, how can they expect others to help or support them, which was the primary reason she was there.
As founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project, it was only natural that I would have a sincere interest in the work she is doing. We chatted after the meeting and both agreed it would be great if our bookcase project could put them out of business. We both know this will never happen. There were a couple of items in her handout literature that I consider as crucial to a child’s future success, and I would like to pass along that information.
First, a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors such as neighborhood and family income (U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, 2010). Second, children whose parents are involved with them in family literacy activities score 10 points higher on standardized tests (National Center for Family Literacy, 2006).
Over the past several weeks, I have been thinking about writing a column with the theme, ‘The real world keeps score.” Kelly’s talk really reinforced just how true this is. While there are many reasons why we have 93 million adults in America today who read below a basic level, this number would be much lower had literacy been a top priority in the homes of these adults back when they were children. We have millions of children in America today who don’t like to read and, as a result, don’t read well. Sadly, many will wind up as a statistic, and someone who missed out on most of the great opportunities that come their way.
What I am going to say next is not meant to be a panacea, but there is a question that millions of children never ask themselves when they are involved in countless activities they are passionate about. I have two beautiful granddaughters. One is a beauty queen, having been in the Miss Arkansas Pageant this past year, and the other is very popular and a fantastic dancer, and it would seem that she has a bright future. Because they are still both very young, only time will reveal how successful they become in the real world where it really counts because, if they live to the normal life expectancy, they still have more than 50 years before them.
Here is that question: can I make a living at this? The real world keeps score and many young people never think about this until they find themselves on a dead-end street. After school and college they have no real goals, no direction and, in many cases, no job or career path. While money is certainly not everything, it is important in today’s society. In many cases these young people will take any job just to get by, but they miss the joy of personal success. The question “Can I Make a Living At It” should be at least a part of our thinking when we are having fun and spending time doing things we love to do.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project Visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 842 THE LEGACY OF MILTON HERSHEY!

No. 842

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LEGACY OF MILTON HERSHEY

If you have ever eaten and enjoyed a delicious Hershey milk chocolate bar, you may not know, as the late Paul Harvey used to say, “The Rest of The Story.” Over the years I certainly haven eaten my share of these delicious chocolate bars, including the Hershey Kiss, but I did not know the amazing story of Milton S. Hershey, the founder of these products.
Thanks to my good friends Dr. Bill and Jonnie Bounds, who made a stop on a recent tour in the community where the factory is located and brought me some literature, I know more now than I did, and I am honored to pass it along.
Before I share a small portion of his story, I would like to offer this observation. If you will do some research on the truly successful people in our nation, past and present, you will find they failed many times before they succeeded. Such was the case for Milton S. Hershey (1857-1945). He made his fortune through dogged persistence and the courage to pursue a dream. Though he was modest and unassuming in appearance — not the sort you would pick out of a crowd -- he was a shrewd and determined businessman. He had a genius for timing and an instinctive ability to choose loyal and able people to help him. This is crucial.
Mr. Hershey was born shortly before the American Civil War on a farm in central Pennsylvania. He had little formal schooling. He attended several schools, as his family moved from their original home in Lancaster County, but his mother did not seem to emphasize learning. This was because she felt books were her husband’s downfall, and she did not want books to ruin her son. Although Hershey became successful without the benefit of a good education, the fact is that later on he insisted the boys in the school he founded would have a “sound” education. This left the impression that he felt the lack of it himself.
At first it seemed that Milton had no more talent for business than his father. He failed in numerous ventures before he finally succeed in making caramel candy. By then he was almost 40 years old. Later he would learn that the secret to making really good candy was a source of good milk, and the Pennsylvania countryside provided dairy products that would fill the bill. The success of his caramel business enabled Mr. Hershey, for the first time in his life, to spend money for his own pleasure. In 1898, Milton Hershey, now over 40, astounded everyone by marrying Catherine Sweeney, a beautiful Irish Catholic girl from New York State. They made a great team and she brought culture into their marriage that would bring much happiness to him.
Caramels gave Mr. Hershey his first million, but chocolate would later give him his fortune. His first taste of it came on a visit to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where he became fascinated by a set of German chocolate-making machinery. He bought the equipment and had it installed in Lancaster, where he began producing his own chocolate –114 varieties in all. The rest is history. He would later purchase a large block of Central Pennsylvania countryside, where he founded the town of Hershey, and would provide everything he needed for a factory: a plentiful water supply, fresh milk, and hard workers.
What I have just shared is how the Hershey name became synonymous with the best chocolate on the planet but that is only part of the story. He also founded the Milton Hershey School, where today more than 1,800 boys and girls K-12 who qualify, receive a free quality education. For more information, call 1-800-322-3248.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 843 THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

No. 843

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

The other day I asked a lady I know about her mother that I had not seen in some time, and she replied, “She passed.” What she was saying is that her mother had died. The term, “she passed” or “he passed” is an expression used by a good number of people, but most of us would add the word “away” to this term to say he or she “passed away.”
You may wonder where I am going with this line of thinking, but one of the things that I feel very strongly about is doing my best to provide good information and reliable benefits to each person who invests their time to read what I have to say. I realize that I don’t hit the nail on the head every time but I honestly do my best to keep your needs in mind when I sit down to write.
With regards to what I have been saying, it is just a fact of life that we are all going to die, regardless of the term that is used. Obviously, the only chance and choice we have to make a difference in the lives of people, including our own, is while we are living. My comments to this point are used as a way of introducing a term that my wife, Viola, and I have used over the years. If I can place it in the proper context, I believe the term I am going to share will help you, too. When we have sharp disagreements over something, which usually are trivial, or find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, we say, “This too shall pass.” Regardless of the situation and whatever it may be, it’s comforting to know that, in the vast majority of cases, in time our circumstances will change and we will have smooth sailing again.
Now, please ask yourself this question: What am I facing now, short of a terminal disease or illness, that cannot be made much better by intelligent action? A few examples of what I am saying could include working under the supervision of a taskmaster who has no compassion or love for others; sitting on the bench waiting for your chance because you know you are better than those who are playing; a child who is sitting in jail facing drug charges or is charged with a serious crime; a spouse who is cheating on you; more bills sitting on the kitchen table than you have money to cover and you have maxed out all your credit cards; tires on your car that are slick and winter is coming with no resources to buy new or better ones; and on and on.
Here is something we should all remember and think about from time to time. We can not be defeated when we take the long-range view. If we can see down the road far enough and not get caught up in the emotion of the moment, we will have peace and a settled mind that will buy us time to work out a solution. Most people do not take the long-range view. I have a good friend who is hurting because his son went through a divorce. Maybe he thinks it’s his fault, which it is not, but he needs to understand that divorce is not the end of the world. People go though divorce every day and many are justified. It is not God’s plan to divorce, but He does forgive those who ask for forgiveness -- I John 1: 9.
Going back to a point I made earlier, the vast majority of our challenges and problems can be made better by intelligent action. We all have problems. We can choose to defeat or overcome them, or we can let them overcome us. Please sit down and take a piece of paper and a pencil and list the most pressing problems or challenges you face. Now, give each one some thought and list what you think are possible solutions. When you are finished, put the paper away and go to work on solving your problems. When we say “This too shall pass” we are simply buying time.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 844 ONE KID AT A TIME!

No. 844

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

ONE KID AT A TIME!

Someone once said that children are natural mimics -- they act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners. Children, sometimes called kids, are the centerpiece of millions of homes in our nation. In America, the value we place on children, and life, is far greater than the rest of the world’s population. In fact, the sanctity of life is at the very heart of who we are as a people. Most parents would do anything to help their children succeed, but often fail to help them develop a love for the most basic skill of all, and that is to teach them to read – to read well and to develop the joy of reading. In view of our ranking in the world’s educational standing, there is plenty of work to be done.
The most vulnerable of all of our nation’s children are those being reared in low-income homes, as most do not have any books for them to read, even if they had a desire to read. This is the basis and purpose of our Bookcase for Every Child project that we started here in Conway back in 2005. At our next awards ceremony, we will present 50 more bookcases and a starter set of books, and this will bring the total to 400 children who will have their very own personalized bookcase and some books. Our story was told in a front-page feature article in the American Profile magazine in August 2011. Since this publication has a readership of more than 10 million, we got wide national exposure. The front cover contained a photo of a child standing beside her bookcase with the words A Bookcase for Every Child: Arkansas town promotes literacy one kid at a time.
As a result of this article, I am pleased to tell you that our bookcase family is growing. After all the local organization for the project is done, we provide seed money and a set of bookcase plans to help them get started. We now have projects either up and running or getting organized to start in Conway, Wynne, Greenbrier, Mayflower and El Dorado in Arkansas; Cleveland and Delaware County (Jay) in Oklahoma; DeKalb, Ill.; and Ashland, Ohio. My point is simply this: As these new projects get going, it will also be “One Kid at a Time.” It is hard for some people to understand why we don’t use any grant money. If money would solve the problem of illiteracy, we would not be where we are in the world standings because we have spent billions of dollars on education. Of course you can never get an education if you can’t read.
While money is necessary to fund our schools and colleges, we don’t need much money because our project is all about giving back. We just need enough money to buy the wood and supplies to build the bookcases. That’s it. We need parents to read to their children, and buy them good books. We need communities who will place a high priority on academics.
Let me show you how God works. We have a wonderful lady over in Oklahoma who is doing a great job getting a project organized. She told me she was having a hard time getting a particular school superintendent on board. She said she had been to see him several times but without success. She said her next move was to attend a school board meeting and make her case there. Then, this superintendent saw a feature on a Tulsa television station about a project that was taking place in another community. He later said to her, “Is this the project you have been trying to tell me about?” She said, “Yes, it is.” He went on to say, “I am going to get all the superintendents in the county here in my office and I want you to come and tell us about it.”
You may say this was luck or providence, but I say, this is how God works.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 845 WHY AMERICA'S CREDIT RATING WAS DOWNGRADED!

No. 845

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

WHY AMERICA’S CREDIT RATING WAS DOWNGRADED

For more than 70 years, the United States has enjoyed the highest credit rating given by Standard and Poor’s, the world’s most highly esteemed credit rating agency. But this is no longer the case. In August 2011, this changed when our nation was downgraded from an “AAA” rating to the next lowest level “AA+.” Most Americans will give this very little thought, but it has serious implications for anyone looking to borrow money. The downgrade in rating means that we are a greater risk for defaulting on our loans and this means higher interest rates, which over time filters down to every level of our society.
According to David Beers, head of S&P’s government rating unit, “It’s possible the rating will come back, but we don’t think it’s coming back any time soon.” Now, let me pause here and say just for the record, I am not an economist and there are thousands of people in our nation who know a lot more about it than I do. The reason I wanted to share this is because a friend sent me something the other day that makes it very easy to understand for the average layman like me. Of course when you talk about finances and debt, you are always taking a “snapshot” in time, as it’s very fluid and always changing. Think about this in terms of your own personal finances and it will be much easier to see and understand. And to be sure, it does affect you whether you realize it or not.
Here we go, and try to not get dizzy because of the zeroes. The title is simply, “Why the US was downgraded.”

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000.
Federal Budget: $3,820,000,000,000.
New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000.
National Debt: $14,271,000,000,000. (It’s over 15 trillion now)
Recent budget cut: $38,500,000,000

Now, let’s remove 8 zeroes and pretend it’s a household budget:

Annual family income: $21,700.
Money the family spent: $38,200.
New debt on credit card: $16,500.
Outstanding balance on credit card: $142,710.
Total budget cuts: $385.

To my way of thinking, this is a pretty good way to visualize the sad state of our nation’s finances and why we were downgraded by Standard & Poor’s. This is also the battle that is taking place in the U.S. Congress each and every day. Most members of Congress don’t have any backbone and do not want to cut anything, but rather spend even more if they think it will help get them reelected. The big question is simply this, will we get a handle on our nation’s debt or will it destroy us?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 846 DON'T ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT!

No. 846

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DON’T ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT!

One thing I never like to hear is someone calling another person an idiot. According to the dictionary, the word “idiot” means “A person exhibiting mental deficiency in the most severe form.” I am just not comfortable with this word because it has a way of demeaning others, and I never want to put anyone else down because we are all created in God’s image. Besides, what is one man’s trash is another’s treasure. I used the word idiot in the title of this column because a friend sent me something that had an unusual twist, and it seemed to be the perfect way to introduce you to a new word, at least for me, that was most interesting. The word is Paraprosdokian.
While you may be ahead of me here, I believe most people would say, “What is a Paraprosdokian?” In simple language, it is a sentence that consists of two parts. The first part is a figure of speech, and the second is an intriguing variation of the first. Paraprosdokians are little known by the general public, but well understood by satirists. These are used typically for humorous or dramatic effect. What follows is a list of some of the most common or widely used Paraprosdokians. It has been reported that Winston Churchill loved them. Here is one of his favorites. “Where there is a will, I want to be in it.” Of course the traditional saying would be “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
Now that you have the gist of the idea, let me continue with a number of others: First, here is the title line, “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.” “The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But, it is still on my list.” “Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.” “If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong.” “We never really grow up - we only learn how to act in public.” “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit and wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
I might pause here a moment and say that I hope this is expanding your mind a bit, I know it is mine. Here are several others and some you might be able to use in conversation or in your writing. Of course the key to success is knowing when and how to use them.
“Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.” “To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.” “A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk I have a work station.”
“I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.” “Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency, notify’ I put a DOCTOR.” “I did not say it was your fault. I said I was blaming you.” “Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a big gut, and still think they are sexy.” “Behind every successful man is a woman. Behind the fall of every successful man is usually another woman.” “A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.” “You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.”
“Money can’t buy happiness, but it makes misery easier to live with.” “There is a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.” “You’re never too old to learn something stupid.” “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
Here is some straight talk. Have a great day.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 847 IS IT TIME TO RETHINK POVERTY?

No. 847

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

IS IT TIME TO RETHINK POVERTY?

One of the saddest stories I hear these days is about the large number of people who are falling out of the middle class. Most of these people have lost their jobs, and as a result their home, and are struggling just to survive. This is a story we hear on the national news every day, and I don’t think for a moment that I have all the answers, but I could venture some possible reasons.
Rather than a rehash, I believe a better use of our time - yours and mine - may be to rethink poverty itself. We might begin with this question: What causes poverty and why are so many people in our nation and all across the world living in poverty? Since poverty in our society is determined by income levels, which is to say the amount of spendable income a person receives, from all sources, to meet their needs, this is where it might be profitable to invest a little of our time.
Here is a trick question for you to ponder for a moment. Since poverty is determined by income, would having more money solve the problem of poverty? Well, not according to David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is a think tank based in Washington, DC, and is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. This organization accepts no government funds and more than 80 percent of its budget comes from contributions from individuals and foundations.
In an article titled “Time for New Thinking about Poverty,” Mr. Boaz takes journalists to task for continuing to advocate more money to poor people and poor countries as a way to solve their domestic and global poverty. He says, “It’s remarkable that so many smart people in our society are unaffected by the evidence that such transfer programs just don’t work.” In another article two reporters talked about the destitute people who fled Hurricane Katrina and wondered if America would finally face the problem of poverty. They suggested that only a renewed “War on Poverty” is the real way to help the poor.
That aside, let’s look at the facts. The United States has spent $9 trillion (in current dollars) on welfare programs since President Johnson launched the War on Poverty in 1965. (This article was written in 2005 and you know what has happened since then). Critics have challenged this figure, saying it includes more than welfare alone. They go on to list some of these programs: Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children and a wide variety of other programs. Clearly, those are all entitlements for the poor.
The article continues, “There are more than 80 poverty-related programs, which in 2003 cost $522 billion.” The next line reads, “Yet despite these programs, 37 million Americans continue to live in poverty.” Mr. Boaz goes on to say, “It’s time for new thinking about poor people and poor countries. Transfer programs don’t work; they trap both people and countries in a state of dependence instead of self-reliance. Markets work. People who get a job — any job — and stick with it until they find a better one will stay out of the welfare and poverty trap. But welfare is a powerful lure away from the world of work.”
He concludes by saying, “And reporters need new glasses, to let them see the evidence in front of them rather than relying on their outmoded assumptions.” Get any job may be the key to future success.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 848 CANNED SOUP OR CHEMICAL STEW?

No. 848

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

CANNED SOUP OR CHEMICAL STEW?

While it won’t make the canned soup people happy, here is some information I ran across that has caused me to reconsider my soup eating habits.
In an article by Leah Zerbe, titled “The Truth About Canned Soup,” she outlines several reasons why eating soup out of a can is, at best, risky business. Ms. Zerbe is well qualified, as she is the online editor for Rodale Inc., the world’s largest multimedia publisher of advice and information about health, wellness and the environment, and the largest independent book publisher in the United States.
In her article she talks about BPA, something I had never heard of, but is a chemical used in cash-register receipts and some plastics, but also in the epoxy resin liner of most metal cans. The bummer? It’s most likely leaching into your favorite soup, exposing you to the synthetic estrogen-like substance that has been linked to obesity, breast and prostate cancers, and aggression and other behavioral problems in young girls. The amounts of BPA used in cans varies drastically, but an alarming new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association suggests we are ingesting dangerous levels in the hormone-mimicking chemical when we eat soup even once a day.
The study’s authors asked some participants to eat Progresso soup for lunch five days a week, while others ate homemade soup. All of the canned soup eaters had detectable levels of BPA in their urine at the end of the experiment. What’s even more striking is the amount of the chemical detected after downing a can of soup once a day for five days. Compared to those eating fresh soup, the group eating canned soup saw BPA levels jump more than 1,000 percent. Dr. Laura Vandenberg, a postdoctoral fellow of biology at the Center for Developmental and Regenerative Biology at Tufts University in Massachusetts, added that the huge spike in BPA seen after eating canned soup is “unlike anything we have ever seen.” The levels are shocking.
While there is more that I don’t have space to share with you, here is something of a more general nature that we should all know. As our food system becomes more industrialized, more and more farm chemicals are winding up not just on our food but also in the food we eat. Within the last 20 years, chemical farmers have overwhelmingly adopted genetically modified seeds, or GMOs, for crops like corn and soy, two common ingredients in canned soup. These seeds have been genetically engineered to withstand heavy sprayings of Roundup, and when that happens, the pesticide is absorbed by the plant and winds up in your food.
Roundup is used so heavily, in fact, that scientists recently detected it in rain. Constant low-level exposure to the pesticide can cause obesity, heart problems, circulation problems and diabetes, says Dr. Warren Porter, professor of environmental toxicity and zoology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The article concludes with some healthy soup tips, namely how to make good homemade soup, which is by far the safest kind. When you do make homemade soup, start with homemade stock. Like soup, it’s a lot easier to make than you realize.
“Many stores sell chicken backs and necks for pennies a pound and, if not, a few pounds of whole chicken wings makes a particularly rich stock.” The bottom line is simply this: Soup is a great food and it’s really a matter of whether you prepare it yourself or get it from a can.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 849 BEYOND THE RIVER!

No. 849

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

BEYOND THE RIVER!

The people who know me personally will tell you that I am a man of very modest means. Granted, I could have had a lot more money and material possessions if that was my goal, but money has never been something I was obsessed with having. I need money to pay our bills like everyone else, and a little extra for a rainy day, but that’s about it. So, for me to pay $110 for a coffee-table book, not once but twice, is a little out of the norm for me. The reason is because the author of both books is Bill Ward, a friend of mine, and should he write another one, he can put me down for that one as well.
Bill’s latest book is titled “Beyond the River,” and it is one fabulous piece of work, from a content standpoint and also the beautiful photography. But first a little background since you probably don’t know Bill Ward personally. Bill is the son of a Baptist minister. He and his seven siblings moved around quite a bit, but they spent most of their time in the Conway area, mostly in Morrilton, Greenbrier and Bee Branch. Singing and musical instruments were part of their upbringing, and their talents were honed over the years until later when the family got together to form the Ward Family Singers. They were not only in demand, they were good. In the mid-1950s, Bill started to Arkansas State Teachers College, which later became the University of Central Arkansas. Needing to supplement his income, he took a job as photographer of the Log Cabin Democrat, the local daily newspaper. This was well before modern technology and back in the days of hot-metal and linotype to prepare the copy for publishing. As the paper’s first photographer, Bill would spend part of his time helping to get the paper out, but any time there was a story he was on the scene to visually capture the images for the following day’s paper. If he had extra film he did not use, he would just snap a wide variety of shots that would later help to create his archives that now contain more than a half million photographs.
He has been a photographer for more than 50 years, so this includes the transition into today’s high-tech digital world and more beautiful color photographs than you can imagine. Now, to the topic at hand, “Beyond the River” features the Arkansas River, which flows about five to six miles west of Conway. However, the headwaters of the Arkansas begin near Leadville, Colo., as a small stream you can step across. It later snakes its way through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas to the mighty river it becomes before it enters the Mississippi in extreme Southeast Arkansas near Arkansas Post. What Bill has done with this book is travel to the headwaters for some beautiful pictures and then uses beautiful prose to tell stories of life near the Arkansas.
While it is impossible to do justice to this book in just one column, here are a few of the offerings: Developing a Great River, Mark Twain at Napoleon, Quapaw: Life and Death of a Great Tribe, Age of Awakening of Food and Music, Gospel Music and Watermelons, Indian Artifact Collector, Jimmy Driftwood: A different Sort of Fellow, Two Brothers Cover J.F.K., Grim Reminder of Cold War, Arkansas’ Greatest Success Story: William Jefferson Clinton, Winthrop Paul Rockefeller: A Lot Like His Father, and So Much More.
All of this narrative has the backdrop of beautiful photographs. Just the research is worth many times over the cost of the book. If you would like a copy, visit Bill’s website: www.billwardphotography.com.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 850 DO YOUR KID'S MISBEHAVE?

No. 850

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

DO YOUR KIDS MISBEHAVE?

Do you have any idea what it costs to rear a child in today’s society? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-income family with a child born in 2007 will pay a tidy sum of $204,060 to care for that child until his or her 18th birthday. Since we have had mostly low inflation since that time, I am confident that figure today would still be pretty accurate. For a middle-income, two-parent, two-child family, expenses for one child ranged from $10, 930 to $12,030 per year, depending on the age of the child, with expenditures on teenagers being the highest.
From my own perspective, every child is precious in God’s eyes and there is no way we could ever put a dollar figure on the worth and value of any one of them. However, as parents we want to rear our children in a way they turn out to be happy, well adjusted, successful and productive human beings. One way to measure whether or not we have succeeded is how they behave in private and in the public square, the latter being where others can see how they conduct themselves. Again, this does not determine their worth or value, but it does let others see if we have done a good job, at least in this area of life.
Along these lines, sometime back I discovered a neat program that is designed to help parents enhance their relationship with their children. Since children will be taught behavior values in school, this program is designed to help parents to be consistent at home with many of the same techniques used in the school setting. This program is for children, ages 3-10, and is called Behavior-onics, a rewards-based program that provides parents with positive disciplinary tools for the home that are the same as those used in school. With this unique program you will be able to create a consistent discipline system throughout your child’s day.
Further, Behavior-onics is designed to enhance your relationship with your child and to better prepare them for school and life. One of the essential elements of Behavior-onics is its basis in authoritative-discipline style. Recent studies have shown that children who grow up in a predominately authoritative-discipline environment have a greater chance of scoring higher on achievement tests, have better vocabulary skills, and have fewer discipline problems. Additional benefits include opportunities to engage in expressive language, higher confidence levels, foster logical thought, elaboration of concept, and higher-level thinking skills.
One of the reasons Behavior-onics is so effective is that it was developed by educators who are also parents. Here is what Jenny Carpenter, kindergarten teacher and a user of the program, has to say about it: “Often times parents ask pre-school, head-start and kindergarten teachers like myself, ‘What we can do to help our child succeed in school?’ Now, I have a tool that actually has resources that parents can physically use at home with their children. Behavior-onics is not just a pamphlet but a program with tangible, professionally developed materials that parents will use with their children each day.”
The cost of Behavior-onics is $28 and includes a DVD, We Track Together Board with dry erase marker, We Play Together Book and We Talk Together Calendar. Going back to what I said earlier, if you have young children, when you consider the cost of rearing a child in today’s times, this could be a great investment in your child’s future. It can be ordered from their web site: www.behavior-onics.com.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 851 A TRIBUTE TO COACH DALE BROWN!

No. 851

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A TRIBUTE TO COACH DALE BROWN!

One morning several days ago, the phone rang at our house and there was a familiar voice on the other end of the line. It belonged to Coach Dale Brown, former head men’s basketball coach at Louisiana State University. Dale was calling in response to an e-mail I had sent him a few days before about our Bookcase for Every Child project. The e-mail contained an article I had written titled “One Kid At A Time” that not only gives an overview of the project but what we are doing, now in 10 communities, to provide children in low-income families with a personalized bookcase and some quality children’s books.
It was obvious from the beginning of our conversation that my article had hit a nerve with him, because he asked for permission to share it with others. He pointed out that none of our nation’s political candidates are talking about illiteracy and how it is impacting our country. He went on to tell me about the work he has done in the past at Angola Prison in Louisiana. Angola is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States and one of the toughest prisons in America in terms of the level of offenders they house. He said, “Do you know what the average grade level of inmates in this prison happens to be?” My answer was the 8th grade, which is the case in most other prisons I have read about. He said, “How about the 5th grade.”
Dale then told me about some of the work he has done with inmates in this maximum-security prison, a fact I already knew from viewing a film clip and reading some of his literature. The true-life example I have just shared is what really characterizes Coach Dale Brown after he retired from active coaching. After getting to know him over the past several months, he sends me several e-mails each week. The thing I most admire about him is that, after retirement, he did not quit serving and giving of himself to help others. His basketball legacy at LSU, head coach from 1972 to 1997, is assured as he has more wins (448) in the SEC than anyone else except Adolph Rupp of Kentucky.
However, this is not the reason I want to pay tribute to this man who has helped and inspired thousands of people over the years. I want to pay tribute to THE MAN, Dale Brown, who is known as “The Master Motivator” and who is also a true patriot. Just recently I received a copy of his new book “Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life.” He signed it as follows: “Dear Jim: Please never let up on your quest to see all of our children educated and successful. I admire your efforts and wish you the very best.” Your Friend, Dale Brown.
Here are Dale’s four hurdles: “The First Hurdle: I can’t/You can’t”. “The Second Hurdle: Past Failures/ Fear of Failure”. “The Third Hurdle: Handicaps”. “The Fourth Hurdle: Lack of Self Knowledge.” If you can appreciate the fact there are literally hundreds of successful people in our country today who were told by someone in their life, “give up, change course, you will never amount to anything” but each case they were proven wrong. You will recognize most of the following names: Shaquille O’Neal, who wrote the introduction, Oprah Winfrey, Rudy Ruettiger, Albert Einstein, Elvis Presley, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling, Paul Anderson and Steven Spielberg are just some of those Dale tells about in his latest book. The book is a great read with lots of practical, useful ideas that will help any person to use more of their latent God-given talents and abilities.
I am honored to pay tribute to THE MAN, Dale Brown. His book can be ordered through www.acadianhouse.com.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 853 GET RID OF THE CLUTTER!

No. 853

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

GET RID OF THE CLUTTER!

Do you know what happens when you point a finger at someone? If you will look closely you will see there are three pointing back at you. This is my way of saying that what I am going to share with you in this column will apply as much, or maybe more, to me than anyone else who will read it. I am going to talk with you about getting rid of the clutter in our lives, which will result in having more time to do those things that are more important, because time is one of the most important resources we have.
For me, the awareness of clutter has come about as I find myself battling the time factor due to my wife Viola’s Parkinson’s disease that she has had for the past 17 years. She is a real trooper, and a very strong woman, but the Parkinson’s is beginning to win, as we inevitably knew that it would. Several months ago she went to a local nursing home for physical therapy and it helped some, but soon we found ourselves back home. While I have a wonderful lady who helps care for her during the week, I am her primary care-giver. She is now in Hospice and we take life one day at a time and cherish each moment that we can share together.
The setting where I find myself, and I would not have it any other way, is more pressure on my time than I have ever had in my life. As a busy person with an active lifestyle, I was already committed to so many things that had to continue or I would let others down and I just did not want to do that. Of course, I have to continue to write this column or I am out of business. Our Bookcase for Every Child project has really taken off and we now have 10 projects going in five states, and this requires some of my time. We have a great project in our Lions Club that I am leading and it’s very important that it be successful. My fellow Lions are counting on me.
There are other pressures as well that I won’t take time to list here. Be that as it may, my wife is, and always has been, my first priority and I just try to keep the others going as best I can. Here is the “meat of the coconut” or the rest of the story. All of this means that I must be very efficient or it will swamp me. I pay our bills, buy all the groceries, do the cooking, run the dish washer and washing machine and run our home as best I can. Both of our freezers were full of things and the refrigerator had things in the back of some shelves that had not been cleaned out in months.
One of the first things I did was inventory all the food in the house and made up a chart with 16 different meals that I could prepare. This helped me make up a grocery list each week. I threw away everything that was no longer good, and went about eating or using everything that was good instead of buying more stuff to eat, when there was still plenty on hand. It took two to three weeks but I began to see progress and it was amazing how much better I could function without having to dig through all the clutter every week. In time, I am going through my closet and storage building to do the same thing. About 80 percent of my clothes and shoes I never wear, so I am going to give them to our church food pantry or some other agency where they can be put to good use.
Now, I realize the nature of this column has been personal and everyone’s situation is different, but I just wanted to share the benefits of what I have learned when my time really became a premium. What I learned is that when we don’t get bogged down with all the stuff and junk that serves no useful purpose, we are much better off to get rid of the clutter.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 854 A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO YOU!

No. 854

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO YOU!

With your permission and hopefully your blessing, I would like to present a personal challenge to you. If you can read the following column without laughing out loud or at least cracking a smile, I will give you an autographed copy of my new book, the new and revised edition of “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” However, I must limit this offer to the first 25 readers that I hear from, for obvious reasons. And you will be on your honor as to whether you laughed or smiled or not.
What follows is about a nun sitting at her desk grading papers from students in her class. These students were asked questions about the Old and New Testaments. The following 25 statements about the Bible were written by her students and they have not been retouched or corrected. Note that the incorrect spelling has been left in.
“No. 1 - In the first book of the Bible Guinessis. God got tired of creating the world so he took the Sabbath off. No. 2 - Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark. Noah built the ark and the animals came on in pears. No. 3 - Lots wife was a pillar of salt during the day, but a ball of fire during the night. No. 4 – The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with unsympathetic genitals. No. 5 – Sampson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah. No. 6 – Sampson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles. No. 7 – Moses led the Jews to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients. No. 8 – The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up to Mountcyanide to get the ten commandments.
No. 9 – The first commandments was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple. No. 10 – The seventh commandment is thou shall not admit adultery. No. 11 – Moses died before he ever reached Canada then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of geritol. No. 12 – The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him. No. 13 – David was a Hebrew king who was skilled at playing the liar. He fought the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. No. 14 – Solomon, one of Davids sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines. No. 15 – When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta.
No. 16 – When the three wise guys from the East side arrived they found Jesus in the manager. No. 17 – Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption. No. 18 – St. John the blacksmith dumped water on his head. No. 19 – Jesus enunciated the golden rule, which says to do unto others before they do one to you. He also explained that man doth not live by sweat alone. No. 20 – It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance. No. 21 – The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels.
No.22 – The epistels were the wives of the apostles. No. 23 – One of the oppossums was St. Matthew who was also a taximan. No. 24 – St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage. No. 25 – Christians only have one spouse. This is called monotony.”
Now, if you did not laugh or smile, let me know, and I will send you an autographed copy of my book. When you meet someone who has no smile, give them one of yours, because no one needs a smile as much, as those who have none left to give.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 857 IT'S TRUE - KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

No. 857

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

IT’S TRUE – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

The word passion is one that we hear quite often in our English language. It means, “Any intense, extreme, or over-powering emotion,” according to my trusty dictionary. As it relates to people, you show me a person who has a passion about something truly worthwhile, and I will show you a person who will get more done and often excel in the process. Such is the case for a group of male African-American students at Rivercrest High School in Wilson, Ark. These students became known as the Gentlemen of Knowledge, and there is a story behind this distinction that I want to tell you about it in this column.
Let me say up front that the information I am about to share will help minority students, especially African-American, all across our country. So tune me in, as it affects you whether you realize it or not. I will tell you how before I finish. This story begins at the end of the 2010 school year when the end-of-course literacy exam revealed that African-American juniors scored 31 percent and their white counterparts scored 64 percent. These scores are typical in many school districts across the nation. This was unacceptable to a teacher and an assistant principal, both white.
They decided to try a novel approach, asking the students, grade by grade, for their help in bridging the gap in test scores. All African-American students were interviewed in small groups. They were asked what the school district could do differently to make a difference. Educators wanted to know how to better reach members of this population, and it did happen. Just as important, a group of African-American male students were offended that minority students were falling behind their white peers, formed the Gentlemen of Knowledge to hold each other accountable, and to serve as examples for their fellow students of all races.
In one year, African-American scores on that end-of-course literacy exam rose 17 percentage points to 48 percent scoring proficiency. Educators expect more improvement in the current year. As a result of their success, the Gentlemen of Knowledge are making a name for themselves, and other school districts are following suit. They have even presented a session before 700 members of the Arkansas School Boards Association who were ready to carry them out on their shoulders after it was over. Meanwhile, the Gentlemen are solidifying and expanding their mission. They also started a service project to collect used shoes to benefit children in Kenya.
Membership requirements have been created that include a minimum 2.5 grade-point average, good behavior and demonstrated leadership. Here is what senior Terrian Tyler told the school boards association: “You pay more attention to what you do because you don’t want to get kicked out of the Gentlemen of Knowledge. I mean, this is where the cool kids are.” What is really exciting is that now a number of white students want to be in the group, and a group for young ladies is also being formed.
I am indebted to my friend, and fellow columnist, Steve Brawner, who has written two columns on this subject and for giving me permission to share portions with you. I mentioned earlier that I would tell you how this would help you. When minority students do well, they stay in school, and many go on to college and get a degree. They pay taxes and become successful, productive citizens. It’s true – Knowledge is Power. I don’t have to tell you what happens to many of them without an education, and we all pay the bill.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 858 AN ALPHABET OF CHILD-REARING IDEAS!

No. 858
The Next Password is Egg

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AN ALPHABET OF CHILD-REARING IDEAS!

If you are a parent and have children, young or old, are you happy with your parenting skills? While a very simple question, it strikes at the very heart of why so many of America’s children get in trouble, feel insecure, and often run with the wrong crowd, which leads to some very serious consequences down the road. It is safe to say that most parents love their children and want the very best for them but simply lack the parenting skills necessary to create the kind of environment where their children turn out to be model citizens and all that entails.
Along these lines, a Kansas reader sent me column reprint by the late Ann Landers that features an alphabet of child-rearing ideas. While it was written many years ago, attribution is given to Jo Frisbie Von Rachl in Pasadena (I assume California.) If she were still here, I am sure Ann Landers or the original author would not mind if I shared these ideas with you.
It begins: A is for Accountability. Hold your children accountable for their behavior. B is for Boundaries. Set specific limits and make clear the repercussions if these limits are exceeded. C is for Consistency. Hold to the same principles and practices.
D is for Discipline. Make the punishment fit the crime. Never discipline in anger. E is for Example. Children are in greater need for models than critics. Set a good example. F is for Forgiveness. Practice it and teach the importance of forgiving. G is for Giving. Teach the joy of giving, not only to family and friends, but to strangers in need. H is for a sense of Humor. Keep your sense of humor. Promote laughter with your children. I is for Imagination. Be creative, and play with your children. Make up stories or songs when you read and sing with them. J is for Justice. Be fair, and insist that they be fair, also.
K is for Knowing your children’s friends and their parents as well as their teachers. L is for Listening. Listen to your children. It will teach them how to listen to others, and their thoughts will give you insights. M is for Morals. Be sure your own standard of conduct is sound. N is for No. Use it and mean it. O is for Outdoors. Provide as much outdoor activity as possible. Teach respect for others. P is for Pressure. Reduce the pressure on your children, but insist they maintain high standards. Q is for Questions. Pay close attention to their questions, and give answers unless they demand more. R is for Respect. Show respect, teach respect and earn respect.
S is for Source of Strength. Share your own faith or beliefs with your children. T is for Togetherness. Have special designated times to be together as a family – but know when to let go, too. U is for Uniqueness. Understand the uniqueness of each child, and let that child be who he or she is. V is for Voice. Tone of voice can convey more to a child than the words spoken. W is for Words. Keep your word. Promises broken destroy trust. X is for Examine. Examine constantly and be aware. You is for You. Take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. A happy parent helps a child to be happy. Z is for Zowie. Who would have thought they would grow up so quickly?
Well, there you have it, An Alphabet of Child-Rearing Ideas. No doubt about it, there is some great information here for any of us parents, grandparents or guardians who will use them. You may have thought about Love and Honesty being in the list but it was assumed these were already in place. I want to end this column with my very best wishes and words that I believe are most appropriate; “when your children shine, what a nice reflection on you.”
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The Next Password is Egg

No. 852 A UNIQUE GIFT-GIVING IDEA!

No. 852

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A UNIQUE GIFT-GIVING IDEA!

When you buy Christmas gifts, or gifts for other special occasions, do you ever get sick and tired of seeing labels that say “made in China” or some other foreign country? If you do, you are not alone, and some creative person came up with a unique solution to this dilemma that will benefit a lot of your fellow citizens and may even save you some money. As you may know, for the past several years our trade deficit has been growing, which is to say we have been importing a lot more goods from other countries than we have been exporting. This means that their economies are helped while ours suffers. The result is a lower standard of living for American citizens.
I am indebted to a loyal reader, Holly Baxter, who lives in Forrest City, Ark., and who shared this idea. She reads my column in the Times-Herald, where it has run since August 1996. Here is the gist of the idea. Instead of buying foreign-made products, Americans can give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. Rather than complaining that there is nothing to be found that is produced by American hands, you can find out that, yes, there is. And after reading this, I believe you will agree. It is time to think outside the box, and instead of buying a gift that needs to fit in a shirt box with Chinese-produced wrapping paper, consider these alternatives.
How about buying that special person a gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement. Who would not appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or book of gift certificates. Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down a pile of George Washingtons on a Chinese-made flat screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like to have his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at a local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants all offering gift certificates, and if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint? Remember, this is not about big national chains. This is about supporting your home-town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open. How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? How about a heart-felt gift for mom? Mom would love the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
There is no limit to the number of things we can do for other people, and because most gifts of this nature are out of the ordinary, you will be a hit because you were so thoughtful. While I am sure you have gotten the idea a long time ago, I’ll give you just a few more, as one or two may be something you have not thought about before. Let’s say you are looking for something a little more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love, too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Well, I am about out of space, but I believe you will agree that this is really thinking outside the box and I am grateful that Holly cared enough to pass it along.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 855 THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH!

No. 855

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH!

As I begin to share my thoughts with you, I have an honest confession to make. Today I am going to write the kind of column that I don’t like to write, but someone, hopefully thousands of people, will speak up about the many abuses that are taking place in country.
A few weeks ago I got a beautiful full-color piece in the mail (snail-mail) that had this heading: “No Payment Ever.” Below the heading were the following words: FREE Camera Phone – FREE Monthly Minutes. Then further down on the piece were these sentences, each with a red arrow in the check box beside them: FREE Camera Phone – FREE Monthly Minutes – No Contract – FREE Enrollment - No I.D. Required – No Problem.
How is that for getting something for nothing? It reminded me of the story of the company CEO who wanted to make his organization more efficient, so he hired a consulting firm with a stable of efficiency experts. He gave them the challenge to do an assessment of his entire operation and come back with ways to save his company money and run more efficiently. After about six weeks they came back with a report that contained more than 1,000 pages. The CEO looked at the report and said, “This is far too detailed, can you condense it down a bit?” So, they went away and came back a month later with a 500-page report.
Again, the CEO looked at the second report and said, “Still too much detail. Can you condense it still further?” In about a week they came back with one simple sentence. It read, “There is NO Free Lunch.” I probably don’t have to tell you that every business person in the private sector knows what this means. In addition to providing a useful product or service, every business is in existence to earn a profit. Profit is where every expense and all future potential growth comes from, and without it there is no future for the company.
For the uninitiated, here is how it works. A business sells its products and services to earn a profit. At the end of each accounting period, the business totals up its total sales and subtracts all of its expenses, including taxes, salaries, rent, utilities, insurance, advertising and all other expenses which is called overhead, and this leaves a net profit. Every business person understands that without profits, there is no future for the company. Again, they all understand there is no “FREE LUNCH” as someone has to pay for it.
Now, back to the beautiful brochure I received in the mail with all the offers of “FREE” printed all over it. Since someone has to pay, who do you think this is? I will give you the answer in a moment. For several months I had been hearing about people getting “FREE” phones, and this is what this unsolicited mailing piece was advocating. When I checked it out, I found that it is a government program offering anyone a free camera phone who is getting any form of government help such as Medicaid, food stamps, SSI, National School Lunch Program and Section 8 Housing. In short, the American taxpayers are paying for “FREE” phones for poor people, and again that’s not a regular cell phone but a camera phone.
Sadly, our government is now borrowing 40 percent of all the money it spends and we are more than $16 trillion in debt. Here are two statements that really sum it up. “The government’s food stamp program is pleased to report they are distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever.” Meanwhile, the National Park Service warms, “Do not feed the animals.” They are concerned the animals will grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 856 THE POWER OF WORDS!

No. 856

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE POWER OF WORDS!

It has been said that we should keep our words soft and sweet because we never know which ones we will have to eat. To be sure, words are powerful. They can lift the spirits of a downcast human being to the heights of the tallest mountain, or they can crush the very life out of a person, much like a smoker who drops a cigarette butt to the pavement and extinguishes it with his heel. What brought these thoughts to mind was a short one-minute video clip a friend sent me in an e-mail a few days ago.
It began with a blind man sitting on the bottom step of a large building on the sidewalk of a very busy street. He had a soft blanket in front of him with a tin cup and a hand-lettered sign that read, “I am blind. Can you help me?” As the throng of people passed by, occasionally someone would throw a coin or two at the cup, usually missing, but landing on the soft blanket, whereupon the blind man would move his hand across the blanket slowly until he found it, and he would then place it in the cup.
Shortly, a well dressed lady stopped in front of him. As she stood there for a moment, he touched her shoes to identify her, and she then took his hand-lettered sign and moved on, without placing any money in his cup. She returned shortly with the sign and placed it where it had formerly been. She had taken his sign and changed the wording. Now, as people passed by, many would place numerous coins in his cup or on the blanket near him where they were easy to find. Soon, she came back and once more stood in front of him. He reached out and touched her shoes again and recognized her as the same person who had been there before.
The blind man said, “What does my sign say now?” She said, “It’s a beautiful day but I can’t see it.” Yes, words are powerful, and as this simple illustration points out, they can make all the difference in the world. Since I am a member of our local Lions Club, a part of the 44,000 clubs in more than 200 countries in Lions International, I would be remiss if I did not stress the importance of helping the blind, which is our primary objective. Like the poor blind man in the video clip, we also raise money to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
In February 2012, we had a great fundraiser that is worthy to tell you about. In your community, assuming you have service organizations, you may want to do something similar. We recruited two legendary coaches and a former member of the Arkansas Razorback basketball team to coach our local team called the Toad Suck Lions. Our Lions team was made up of former players -- including three All-Americans -- to play the internationally famous Harlem Ambassadors in a benefit basketball game. The game was played at the Hendrix College Wellness Center, a $20 million facility. We had a great time for a great cause.
For my local readers, we hope to make this an annual event, and I want to encourage everyone in our community to attend future games and get involved to help the blind and visually impaired. When I thought about that poor blind man sitting on a step begging, I was reminded of a great organization we support called World Services for the Blind. This facility is located in Little Rock, Ark., and people come to WSB from all across the United States and several foreign countries to receive training to get and hold a job. WSB also helps to place those they have trained in gainful employment.
This is God’s work as He tells us to help the blind, the widows and the orphans.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 833 THE EVILS OF CRONYISM

No. 833

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE EVILS OF CRONYISM

As I thought about what I wanted to share with you today, I felt like the mosquito that flew over a fence and unexpectedly found himself right in the middle of a nudist colony … I don’t know where to begin. This is because the topic is so broad and expansive that it would take volumes, and not just a single column, to do it justice.
For lack of a better title, I want to talk about The Evils of Cronyism. If you are not familiar with the word cronyism, it means partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy. Cronyism exists where the appointer and the beneficiary are in social contact; often, the appointer is inadequate to hold his or her own job or position of authority and for this reason the appointer appoints individuals who will not try to weaken him or her, or express views contrary to those of the appointer. Politically, “cronyism” is derogatorily used.
Now, what I have just shared came right out of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. At this point, let’s look at some examples of cronyism that are taking place as this is one of the many reasons our Congress has approval ratings that have fallen to single digits in the eyes of the American people. I might add that cronyism is not just in government circles but also takes place in the private sector. However, it is far more egregious in the public sector because most often it involves our tax money. The economic and social costs of cronyism are paid by society, which means all of us, and that includes you and me.
Before I share some examples of cronyism from the public sector, it should be noted that this is not a partisan issue, as Democrats and Republicans alike are guilty. Going back a ways in history, here is one for the books. The Warren Harding administration has become a schoolbook case of cronyism. Harding appointed his old college friends as members of his cabinet, resulting in several scandals. The term “Harding Cabinet” has become synonymous for rotten and corrupt administration. Another example is when former U.S. President George W. Bush was accused of cronyism after the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. Miers had no previous judicial experience and demonstrated little knowledge of constitutional law, and her selection was soundly rejected by many conservatives and liberals.
Another more recent example is a private park in New York City that the Wall Street protestors were “occupying” that is not owned by the city. Zucotti Park is owned by Brookfield Properties, which recently hired Vice President Joe Biden’s son as an attorney and Mayor Bloomberg’s live-in girlfriend sits on the board. Both are getting paid big money. Here is the link that makes it cronyism. Brookfield Properties received some of the last of the Obama Stimulus money, which is our tax money, pure and simple.
When you think about the thousands and thousands of lobbyists in our nation’s capital who become “cronies” with members of Congress, the insider deals they make, and what it is costing the American taxpayer, you can see the evil of it. To have good government, we must have transparency, often promised but seldom received. As voters, we must hold all those elected to office to a higher standard. “We The People” must take our nation back and vote people out of office when they are guilty of “cronyism,” as this will send a powerful message. It has always been true: “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.”
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 834 COOKING: A LOST ART!

No. 834

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

COOKING: A LOST ART!

My friend Milton Davis is a cartoonist featured each day in our local newspaper, as well as a number of others around the state. As it relates to my topic today, which is cooking, he had a cartoon awhile back that really hit the nail on the head. He has one of his fictional characters say, “My wife and I split the duties on cooking -- she calls it in and I go and pick it up.” There will be many in the younger generation who won’t know what I am talking about, but there was a day in our country when people, mostly women, actually cooked and prepared all of their meals in the home. However, today you have to hurry to get in the take-out line at McDonalds in order to make it back to work on time.
There are still many in our country today who long for the good old days and to have good, nutritious, home-cooked meals. In this respect, I have been tremendously blessed ever since I married my wife Viola, as she is an excellent cook. This reminds me of a day when I put my foot in my mouth. Soon after we married, we were attending a family reunion with mounds of food on picnic tables. I made the comment that Viola was the best cook I have ever known. Then I looked around and there sat my grandmother and my mother, who had fed me for all those years as I was growing up. I tried to salvage the moment by saying that what I meant is that she knew how to cook “fancy” dishes. But too late! Several months ago, as her Parkinson’s began to take an even bigger toll, I found myself having to buy the groceries and do the cooking, if I didn’t go and pick something up.
It was during these past few months that I have developed an even greater appreciation for the art of cooking, and if you are a veteran cook or even a beginner, I have an excellent resource for your consideration. I have a friend of several years by the name of Janis Mack, and she and her husband Ralph formerly owned a group of specialty shops, that included a good restaurant at Pickles Gap Village. This restaurant also included a fudge factory. It was hard to get out without having a sample.
In addition to being a fabulous cook, Janis is also a talented writer and has written four cookbooks, all with great recipes. Her favorite is titled, “All Day Singin’ and Dinner on The Ground.” This book also includes many memories of yester-year. At this point I would like to separate the wheat from the chaff. You will find many cookbooks around but not many that have good recipes plus the memories, photos, quotes and poems -- and the singing was special, too.
These were the times that many have called America’s greatest days. I make this statement based on the fact that people who lived back in these times reared a high percentage of the young men and women who went to war to preserve our nation’s freedom. Manners were still in vogue, along with being married before you lived together. Faith, family and country really meant something. Apart from the nostalgia and sentimental part of the book, you will find one great recipe after another that will make your mouth water.
A few of the offerings include: Pickled Okra, “Edna’s Sausage Cheese Dip”, Cranberry Punch, Strawberry Bread, Jan’s Fresh Apple Cake, Cowboy Cookies, Melt in your Mouth Chicken Pie, Tenderloin Deer Steak, Pinto Bean Pie and Hash Brown Potato Casserole. And that’s just scratching the surface. Janis still has a few of these cookbooks on hand. If you are interested, good cook or beginner, contact Janis Mack, 8 Southshore Lane, Conway, AR 72032.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 835 A GREAT LITERACY IDEA!

chilNo. 835

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A GREAT LITERACY IDEA!
When it comes to education in America over the past several decades, in many ways, we have had the tail wagging the dog, which is to say we have put more emphasis on athletics than academics. We have some notable exceptions, but by and large this is the case, as you will find community after community able to find money to build a new athletic facility but unable to find money to make the library and the curriculum what it should be. The ironic thing about this statement is that we can all be winners both in the classroom and the various venues of athletic competition, if the focus and emphasis is placed on the right things.
I want to give you just one small example of what I am saying by telling you about Greenbrier, Arkansas, a great community about 10 miles north of where I live. This community of a little more than 4,000 people is very progressive, has good schools, and this past year had an outstanding football team. Several months ago, Marilyn Battles, president of First Service Bank, decided that Greenbrier would be well served if they had a Bookcase for Every Child project, to give quality, personalized bookcases and a starter set of books to some deserving, but needy, children in their area. With little fanfare, she began to talk with her fellow citizens, and many got on board to launch their very own bookcase project. It is patterned and developed along the lines of our copyrighted project started here in Conway back in 2005.
In a short period of time they had a great group of local leaders committed to serve on their Greenbrier Bookcase Project Committee. After a couple of meetings, and countless e-mails, they set the date for their first Bookcase Literacy Banquet. They also had Rick Whitley, former elementary principal, and his son Matt, committed to build the bookcases. The first thing the committee did was have a local book drive, and decorated boxes were placed around the community so local people could donate gently used or new pre-school children’s books to the project. They did a great job, had plenty of donated books, had a fantastic banquet and were on their way to having a very successful project.
Now, here is where they took our basic Conway ideas and improved on them to the point that I am calling it, “A Great Literacy Idea.” At this point in the season, their football team was undefeated (6-0) and one of the teachers suggested that members of the team read to the children in the lower elementary grades the day of the game. Later that evening at their tailgate party, which most schools have, they advertised free food for anyone who would bring a children’s book as their contribution for the food. That one night they received more than 2,000 books for the project, enough to last for several years as “starter sets” for the bookcases. Many children in disadvantaged homes do not have any books, but one of the greatest benefits is awareness for the project. Greenbrier does not have a local newspaper to generate the level of publicity necessary for success. Now, everyone knows about the project.
It’s true that academics and athletics can go hand in hand, but when academics is not your top priority, everyone is the loser. A student athlete or cheerleader can be all-American or all-everything, but if they never learn to read well and speak well, they will leave school or college behind and face a future that is not nearly as bright as it could have been with a town and school that has its priorities in the right order. Why not start an all-volunteer bookcase project in your community?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helpind.)

NO 836 HOW AMERICAN'S GET AHEAD!

No. 836

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW AMERICANS GET AHEAD!
Do you know how most people who start with virtually nothing get ahead financially in this country? Some time back I received an e-mail that will give you some insights. It begins, “To All My Valued Employees” and comes from a man by the name of Michael A. Crowley, PE.
I cannot verify the accuracy of this story but I can verify the truth of the principles it contains and the reason most of our nation’s wealth winds up in the hands of just a small percentage of our total population. This is the primary reason I wanted to share it with you.
He begins by saying, “Sure, you see my Mercedes outside. You’ve seen my big home at last year’s Christmas party. I’m sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life. However, what you don’t see is the back story. I started this company 12 years ago. At that time I lived in a 300-square-foot studio apartment for that years. My entire living space was converted into an office so I could put 100 percent effort into building a company, which by the way would eventually employ you.
“My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty foreign car with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business – hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom’s for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70s.” My comment here -- while there are other ways, this is how most Americans get ahead financially, and while we may not want to make the sacrifices, the opportunity sign is still out.
At this point, Michael A. Crowley makes some additional comments, again talking with his employees. “You, of course, only see the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations. You never realize the back story and the sacrifices I’ve made. Now the economy is falling apart and I, the guy who made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail out all the people who didn’t. I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes and payroll taxes, plus countless others. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then, guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it now occupy most of my time. On Oct. 15, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my ‘stimulus’ check was? Zero!”
Here is what we all need to consider. Who is stimulating the economy? This company owner, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves more than 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business, or the single mother sitting at home pregnant, with her fourth child, waiting for her next welfare check? Now, I will be the first to say there are all kinds of injustices and corporate greed in our nation, but the fact remains, the people with wealth provide jobs. I have never heard of a poor person providing someone else with a job, have you?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO. 837 A PROGRAM OF HOPE!

NO. 837

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A PROGRAM OF HOPE!
By nature, I am just naturally an optimistic person. However, I am not quite as optimistic as the old boy who went down to the courthouse to see if his marriage license had expired. There is another word in our English language that can be used interchangeably with optimism, and that word is hope. To be sure, we all need hope and in the right things -- a better job, better income, better health, better marriage, better future and a better life, just to name a few. However, in these stressful times with millions of people out of a job and most of them in debt, we all need to be constantly reminded of our self-worth as a person and the fact that learning and applying the right principles can indeed lead to a better life.
We have a unique ministry here in our community that is doing this for countless individuals and families who are down on their luck for any number of reasons. This ministry is called Bethlehem House, which, according to the director Judi Lively, encourages, equips and motivates homeless individuals and families to change their lives and their situations. Judi is quoted as saying, “I like to summarize that what we do is help people who want to change their lives, and we focus on equipping them to do so.”
Now, please allow me to pause here and make an important comment or two. If you live in another community where you read my column each week, the principles and strategy this ministry employs will help any person who may be down on their luck to achieve greater success and happiness. This is why I have titled the column “A Program of Hope.”
Please read and ponder the following information and you will see a program that has been developed over time, with trial and error, that can even be lifesaving for many people. Here are some of the reasons why their program works. First, they have the discipline built in the program that is lacking in many homeless and hurting peoples’ lives that has led to their present condition. The program requires drug and alcohol testing, and if a person fails these tests they are unable to stay. Those who do stay have to get jobs, and 50 percent of their money goes into a savings account that Bethlehem House manages and is used to pay off bills, fines, child support, or any accounts they may have in arrears. Their goal is to get residents into zero debt and for them to save money. Bethlehem House residents pay 20 percent back into the house. “That really is a discipline. We all have rent or mortgages to pay, and our residents have to do that, too. It also gives them some buy-in to the program,” states Judi.
Completion of a money management course is also a residency requirement. Habitants who may have addiction issues must attend a 12-step program, and those who have mental health issues must be stabilized. Bethlehem House has two dedicated case managers who work with the residents. “They work with their case manager to develop individual goals. These goals can be anything from reestablishing a relationship with a family member to getting back into church to getting out of debt or buying a car. The goals are their choice and their case manager holds them accountable. In fact, a case manager goes through their goals each week to check their progress,” says Judi.
That’s the end of what I wanted to share. Please note that most of this information came from a magazine called Women’s Inc., published each month by our local newspaper. Our community really supports this ministry and they have plans to build a larger facility to do more. Every community needs a program like Bethlehem House.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child!

NO. 838 PUT HER IN CHARGE!

No. 838

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

PUT HER IN CHARGE!
In these days of our nation’s downturn, it is thrilling and encouraging to read about someone who really gets it, especially if they are a member of the younger generation.
Such was the case in a terrific article a friend sent me a while back that was written by a 21-year-old female and appeared in the Waco (Texas) Tribune Herald on Nov. 18, 2010. This young person was worried about her future, and the following is her opinion and how she feels about the social welfare big government that she is being forced to live in! In her opinion, the following solutions are just common sense.
She begins by saying, “PUT ME IN CHARGE of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50 pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.
“Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke, or get tats and piercings, then get a job. Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your ‘home’ will be subject to inspections any time and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and own your own place. In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a ‘government’ job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22-inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the common good.
“Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say this would be
‘demeaning’ and ruin their ‘self esteem,’ consider that it was not that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem. If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices. AND -- while you are on Government subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Government welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.”
That is the end of the article and, as I said in the beginning, it is rewarding to see someone from the younger generation who truly understands that it is their future that our government is hocking, as well as generations yet unborn. I would hope that everyone in the younger generation would come to the same conclusion. While not quite as radical, I share many of the same views but would be careful not to paint with a broad brush. There are millions of people in our country who would like to have a job and take care of their own needs and the needs of their family, but unfortunately there are millions of others who would not hit a lick at a snake if given the opportunity. One of the main problems, and the reason our nation has a $13 trillion-plus debt, is that we have set the safety net bar too high. When you can get just as much from the government, and not work, as you do working, you create dependency.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 839 EVERYONE HAS A STORY!

No. 839

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

EVERYONE HAS A STORY!

Several years ago one of the network television stations in nearby Little Rock had a weekly feature called, “Everyone Has a Story.” The on-air reporter had a unique way of selecting those she featured in the following week’s program. The station had a large map of Arkansas affixed to one of the walls in the studio, and this female reporter would face in the opposite direction, take a dart and throw it back over her shoulder. The city or town where it landed is where she would travel to select someone to interview for the following week. It was a neat idea and a lot of interesting stories came as a result.
Since we all have a story, this begs the question: what is the story of your life up to this point in time? Are you happy with the way it has been unfolding? If not, I want to offer you a word of encouragement. It is seldom too late to improve, make amends or change direction. We only have one life to live, and it’s important to make the most of it while we are here. Every person has a story, especially those who live long enough to make choices that affect his or her environment, and there have been billions of people in this planet since time began. As I thought about this, I realized that most of us would fit into one of the following categories.
Obviously, I must be concise here because of space limitations, but I want to invite you to think about people who come to mind, in addition to the examples I give. There are people in our world and nation we could call --
1. Traitors: The most famous of all in American history is Benedict Arnold. Then there is Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, along with Aldrich Ames and several others. What other names come to your mind that could be called traitors?
2. Patriots: The number here is endless, but George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Audie Murphy, Dwight Eisenhower and General Douglas McArthur are my choices.
3. Villains: Charles Manson, Adolph Hitler, Ted Bundy, Pol Pot and Benito Mussolini come to mind.
4. Legends: Babe Ruth, Martin Luther King Jr., Will Rogers, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, George Washington Carver, Benjamin Franklin are names right off the top of my head. It would take volumes to include all the legends, past and present, who have made a real difference.
5. Heroes: Members of our nation’s Armed Forces (past and present), policemen and women, firefighters, all those who risk their lives to save others who are in peril.
6. Public Servants: Those who run for public office, federal, state and local, and those who are employed by various agencies of our government. (Sometimes we forget about all the good people who sacrifice to make life better for the rest of us.)
7. Your Average Joe: Of course, everything is relative, but this is the category where most of us can be found. We just have a job, pay taxes and obey the law. But as producers and consumers, we are also the backbone of our nation’s economy.
While there are exceptions, the vast majority of people can be found in one of the aforementioned categories. What is truly exciting is that God created each of us as unique, one-of-a-kind human beings, with no one on earth exactly like us. When we reach the age of accountability, we have the opportunity to write the story of our own life. Why not make it a masterpiece?
One story I forgot to mention. The greatest story of all is about the life of a Jewish carpenter, who would change the world forever. His name is Jesus.
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

NO 840 A CHALLENGE TO BECOME A ROLE MODEL!

No. 840

Jim Davidson -- NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A CHALLENGE TO BECOME A ROLE MODEL!

The American Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau once said, “Character is the total of thousands of small daily strivings to live up to the best that is in us … the final decision to reject what is demeaning to oneself or to others and with confidence and honesty to choose the right.”
Contrary to what some would have us believe, character does still matter. In these days when it seems the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket, it is more vital than ever for those of us who understand this truth to have a speaking part in the play.
If you are a faithful reader, you know that I have never claimed to be perfect, but rather just a sinner who has been saved by God’s amazing grace. If you will really tune me in, I have some thoughts to share that could make a real difference in the lives of countless people in the coming months and years.
I would like to issue a challenge to everyone that will read this column to become a role model, if you are not already one. This is to say an example that others can look up to and have a desire to pattern their lives after. We can begin with the simple premise that a better world begins with you and me. We should also understand that we don’t have to tear others down to build ourselves up.
In case you are not sure, or do not fully understand what I am talking about, a role model is a person others look up to. The key word here is “up,” as we are talking about winners in the game of life and not losers. It is also important to understand that, regardless of our mistakes and sins of the past, we can make a fresh start in the confidence that over time we can make a real difference. Let’s face it, we can’t do anything about the past -- it is gone forever. However, we can try to make amends to those we may have wronged in some way. If you owe them money, pay it back. If you have offended someone, say, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”
At this point I would like to list a few qualities that a role model should have at the very core of their lives. What I am talking about applies to both men and women. It’s a proven fact that the people who have had the most influence on our lives are our parents. I am truly amazed at the vast numbers of parents who cannot figure out why their children later get in trouble and do not turn out to be productive and successful human beings. The fruit does not fall far from the tree.
To be a good role model, consider these qualities.1. Honesty: to be honest with others we must first be honest with ourselves. Are you basically an honest person? 2. Truthful: When we don’t tell the truth, we are building our lives on sand, and it will not stand. 3. Responsible: What we should understand is there is no free lunch. Someone must pick up the check and winners and role models pick it up more than their share. 4. Kindness: Every good role model has a spirit of kindness as they are grateful for what others have done for them. 5. Compassion: We should have compassion for others when they are hurting, and this includes animals. We may need to give some people a hand-out before we can give them a hand-up. 6. Consistent: Without fanfare, be fair and consistent in our dealings with others. Most of us dislike a wishy-washy person who cannot make up their mind. 7. Be a Hard Worker: It is easier for most of us to out-work people that to out-smart them. 8. High Moral and Ethical Standards: It is our dealings and what others see in our lives that help them decide if we are a role model they can look up to and follow.
I believe you’ll agree that good role models possess these qualities. How do you stack up?
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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

No. 207 - SOME "NEVERS" OF MARRIAGE

No. 207

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

SOME NEVERS OF MARRIAGE

When I was growing up there was a word that we used to hear quite often in relation to children that we dont hear much these days. The word Im referring to is illegitimate and means one born out of wedlock. In relation to this, the other day I heard an alarming statistic that should concern every responsible American citizen. The marriage rate in our country is down to 43%, the lowest in the history of our nation. This means that more people are waiting till later in life to marry or in millions of cases couples living together out of wedlock.

While Im not a preacher and certainly dont ever intend to judge someone else, I will say that it is not Gods plan for couples to live together outside of marriage. In the book of Genesis we find these words in Chapter 2: Verse 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. By definition, when a child is born out of wedlock, he or she is an illegitimate child. I realize this is a very sensitive subject and in some quarters Im going to be criticized but I would just like to ask unmarried couples who are living together to think about the best interests of the children and what it will mean to them for their rest of their lives. We never really win at anything until we are willing to make a commitment.

The truth is, we may escape the judgement of man for a while but we can never escape judgement when we stand before a Holy and Righteous God. For those of us who are happily married or working on it, here is something I have found worthwhile that was tucked away in my files. Its titled, Some Nevers Of Marriage. Quoting now from this article: The very nearest approach to domestic happiness on earth is the cultivation on both sides of absolute unselfishness. Let each one strive to yield most often to the wishes of the other. Let self-denial be the daily aim and practice of each. Neglect the whole world rather than each other.

At this point there were 14 Nevers and here they are: 1-Never both be angry at once. 2-Never talk at one another, in company or alone. 3-Never speak loudly to one another unless the house is on fire. 4-Never find fault unless it is perfectly certain that a fault has been committed, and then always speak lovingly. 5-Never taunt with a past mistake. 6-Never allow a request to be repeated. 7-Never make a remark at the expense of each other-it is meanness. 8-Never part for a day without loving words to think about during the absence. 9-Never meet without a loving welcome.

10-Never let the sun go down on any anger or grievance. 11-Never let any fault you have committed go by until you have frankly confessed it, and in sincere repentance, asked forgiveness. 12-Never forget the happy hours of early love. 13-Never sigh over what might have been but just make the best of what is. 14-Never forget that marriage is ordained of God, and that His blessing alone can make it what it should be.

In conclusion, as I said earlier, if you are a happily married person or working on it, I hope you have picked up an idea or two from this list of 14 nevers that you can use. As Benjamin Franklin once said, Marriage is the most natural state of man, and..the state in which you will find solid happiness. I have found that my own marriage to a wonderful woman is something I have to work at day by day and its definitely getting better. A great wife is to be treasured. Men, you have heard that old saying, A wife is someone who sits up with us when we are sick and puts up with us when we are not. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 208 - I PLEASED MY DADDY, TOO!

No. 208

The next password is fred

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

I PLEASED MY DADDY, TOO!

One of the greatest tragedies in our society, at least for me, is when a man or woman is convicted of a crime and sent to prison. Unfortunately, it is necessary and even vital that thousands and thousands of our citizens are locked up for the common good. Ive always believed that if we took 5% of the right people off the streets, we would have a much safer society. Im sure you know there are many people who are in that should be out and thousands more that are out and should be in. The tragedy is what a prison inmate could have been, and the loss of their potential contribution to humanity, if they had not gone down the wrong road that led to a prison sentence.

It is with these thoughts in mind that I want to share something with you that could make a difference for a few people who even now may be headed down the wrong road. As you look back over your own life, have you ever thought about why you do many of the things you do? In your heart, if you believe you have made the right choices most of the time, then what Im going to say may not be that important for you.

On the other hand, if there are signs all around you that point to potential trouble with the law for yourself, your children, grandchildren or other loved ones, then you may want to seriously consider this true story a reader sent to me. A few years ago, a minister went into a Texas State Prison to hold a series a meetings with the inmates and he took along a friend to give his testimony about his life and why he had become a success. This friend, it turns out, was a famous major league baseball player and as he spoke to the inmates he told them of the great influence his daddy had been in his life.

He said when he was young, his daddy constantly worked with him and often told him son, someday youll be famous. Youll be a major league baseball player. And his fathers prophecy came true; he not only became a great player, but one of the greatest of all time. As he was concluding his talk he said, you know, as I look back, I realize now more and more the reason for my success is that I wanted to please my daddy and to justify all the confidence he had in me. In a very real sense I did it for him.

Then he went on to talk about the fact that if our earthly father cares for us, our Heavenly Father cares for us so much more. In fact, He cared for us so much that he sent His Son to die for us. As he finished, a very large man (one of the inmates) stood up and said, May I say something? and they handed him the microphone. He said, When I was growing up in the ghetto in Chicago, my daddy told me, Johnny, youre no good. Johnny, youre going to drop out of school. Johnny, you are going to get in trouble. Johnny, youre going to kill someone, and you know, my daddy was right. I killed two people. I pleased my daddy, too!! He was now serving time in prison for the crimes he had committed.

To me this is a very touching story and it contains some valuable information that can help many people. More often than not, our lives are self-fulfilling prophesies. What we see, what we believe, what we feel, that is acted out in that big picture show in our minds, all too often becomes a reality.

How many times do you suppose that people have gotten into trouble because the person(s) they idolized led them down the wrong road? Its been said that every life is an example. This is why we need more good role models in our society today. Parents need to be good role models, as well as ministers, teachers, business and civic leaders, elected officials and all of us who want the best for our children. What we do will have more impact than what we say. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

The next column password is: Fred

No. 183 - THE DAY "THEY" WAS BURIED

No. 183
Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE DAY "THEY" WAS BURIED

Over the past several months I have received literally hundreds of comments, phone calls and letters from our readers, but a 'first' came in the mail a few weeks ago. I got a talking letter on cassette from Major Robert Cook, (U.S. Marines, Ret.), who lives in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. He had just read my column "The Why Don't They Syndrome" in the Sunday Edition of the Hot Springs Sentinel Record.

This column reminded him of a real life experience that happened back in 1960 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He began by swearing on a stack of Bibles that it was a true story and when I listened to it, it was hilarious and it also contained a worthwhile message that will benefit all of us .

At the time, then Captain Cook has just been assigned Company Commander of an H & S company of an H & S Battalion. When he reported for duty he learned that one of the platoons in his company was a utility platoon and he said these people were more or less engineers, as they maintained and operated dump trucks, road graders, cranes, bull-dozers and other heavy equipment. The platoon commander was a Warrant Officer by the name of George Herman and Captain Cook called him up and said that he would like to come out and see what he had.

They agreed to meet the next morning at 9:00 O'clock and as they sitting there drinking coffee, Robert looked out the window and saw a fresh grave. This grave was complete with fresh flowers and a hand carved wooden headmarker that said "THEY." Robert said he knew that back in 1941 when Camp Lejeune was built they had uprooted several family cemeteries and had moved them to a central location down near Jacksonville, North Carolina. When he first saw this grave he thought they had missed one. At this point he asked George Herman, "What's this all about?" George said, "Come outside and I will show you." When they arrived at the grave site, he went on to say, "Captain, when I first got here, every____ time something went wrong and I would ask some PFC., Corporal or Sergeant what happened, they would respond by saying, "Well, "They" told me to do it this way or "They" did this or "They" did that. Well, I finally got tired of it and decided "THEY" was going to be buried.
So, I got the carpenter shop to build a coffin. We also secured a mannequin (he obviously didn't want to tell me where he got it), and one of the Marines carved the wooden headmarker. I also got a local florist to provide the flowers, and we "big timed" the Second Division Marine Band to provide a bugler. Then I had a detail of men to dig a regulation grave, 6 ft. long, 2 ft. wide and 6 ft. deep.
As he continued to speak he pointed to a nearby shed and said, "We assembled at that shed over there and I had the Base Chaplain say a few appropriate words and when the service was over, the six Marines who served as pall bearers carried the coffin and laid it in the grave. As another detail of men covered the grave, the bugler played Taps and it was a very touching and moving service. He said, "I guess the hardest part was keeping a straight face."
After it was over, George Herman told all of his men, "I don't ever want any of you to say "They" did this or "They" did that because "They" is dead and is buried right here in this grave." I would just like to say a word of thanks to Major Robert Cook for putting it "ON THERE" and sharing this true story. It does contain a valuable lesson for each of us. We can all be a little more definitive and the next time you are tempted to say "They" just remember "They" is dead and is buried over in Camp Lejune, North Carolina. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 184 - "HELLO, LITTLE PREACHER'S KID!"

No. 184

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

"HELLO, LITTLE PREACHER'S KID!"

"Hello, Little P.K. You got born today, and you look awful little and squirmy. You look awful skinny and kind of red and wrinkled too. Since you are little and your daddy is a preacher, I think you are going to have a hard time getting along. So I'm going to start right now to write down some things to help you since I'm about a teenager and you are my little brother. You have three sisters older than you. They are kind of different. They pick at their food, comb their hair, wash a lot and don't want to wait till I'm through with the funny papers before they read it. When they do read the paper they cut out people for paper dolls and then nobody can read it. When Dad has to go someplace Sunday afternoon, they cut up the paper before he reads it and then there is real trouble. I knew you were coming because Mama had been getting fatter. Somebody told me you could tell before babies were born cause their mother got fat. I've checked this out a few times and it's true. You watch and see for yourself when you get a little bigger."

And so begins a wonderful and hilarious little book titled, "Remember The Good Times." A few weeks ago I received a personally signed copy of this book from the author David H. Smith. He said it was only fair, if he was going to read my column that I should read some of his work. I'm so glad he sent it to me because I've never laughed so hard in my life while at the same time receiving some real insights into the lives of preacher's kids, who are also known as P.K.s.

David Smith is the son of a Baptist preacher who served as the Clear Creek Association's Missionary and held pastorates in small towns in Southern Illinois. Many of my readers in this part of the country will recognize names like Cobden, Vienna, Tamms and Anna. While most pastors today earn a good salary, back in the days when David Smith was growing up, times were really lean, especially for those who served very small churches. In most cases they only received what was put in the collection plate each week and many a time David's father would be told, "I'm sorry Brother Smith, there isn't anything in the treasury this week."

That's the economic side of the story, but this family, like most Midwestern families in those days, had real love for each other and they made do. When I was growing up we were not destitute, but reading David's book gave me some real insights into what you can do to get by if you have to. In case you don't know, preacher's kids are held to a higher standard than other kids in the community. Because their father is a preacher, they are expected to be "little saints" which is far from reality and the truth.

While the church's influence helps most of them turn out to be productive citizens, they are no different than other kids when it comes to being mischievous and in need of discipline and guidance. Unfortunately many preachers are so busy taking care of others they neglect their own children and they become rebellious. But as the Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." The rough years are the in between years.

Believe me, David Smith, who did not turn out to be a preacher, was all boy. Reading his story kinda reminded me of Opie Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show. Some of the titles of the chapters in the book will give you some insights...Pigeon-toed Thief...Dad Got Arrested...We Moved Again...It Takes Two To Fight...The Catholic Social and The Broken-plate Sermon. Hopefully these comments have brought back some memories for you. Just remember, P.K.s are no different. They don't need to be judged, but they do need love, guidance and discipline just like the rest of us. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 185 - THE LAW OF SELF-PITY

No. 185

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LAW OF SELF-PITY

The old Roman philosopher and playwright Lucius Annaeus Seneca once said, "Pity is a mental illness induced by the spectacle of other people's misery." Who among us in this prosperous land we call America has not felt pity on the hordes of humanity who have been driven from their homes, raped and pillaged by thugs and villains who were stronger and more powerful? This is a spectacle we have seen far too often in the past several years and my heart always goes out to these people, especially the innocent who are simply caught in the middle. While there is little I can do about it, save pray for them and give my blessings for a portion of my tax money to be used in an attempt to alleviate their suffering. In short, I have pity on these people. I have often said, "There but for the Grace Of God, go I."

It's a natural human emotion to have pity for others who are downcast, but it can be a very destructive emotion if and when that pity is directed toward ourselves. This is known as self-pity and we all know people who live there every day of their lives. It's been said that an honest confession is good for the soul and I want to say up front that there have been times when I have also had myself a little pity party. These times came along when I had worked hard and didn't get the promotion or breaks that I thought I deserved and things were not going my way. Along about here I began to feel sorry for myself. Have you been there too?

To be sure, none of us likes to be around a constant complainer or whiner and fortunately my few excursions into the pit of self-pity have not been too deep or lasted too long. I might add, this was years ago because I have since matured and learned to take full responsibility for my actions. If I want things to be better in my life, with God's help, it's up to me to make it better.

Over the past several months I have discussed a number of "Natural Laws" in my column and remember, a natural law is a series of events in nature that have been observed to occur with unvarying uniformity. In other words, given the same exact circumstances, the outcome or result will always be the same. A "Success Law" on the other hand is a positive application of a natural law, so as to use it to our advantage. That is, to help us become happier and more successful.

When and if self-pity strikes you, here is what I hope you will remember. The feeling of self-pity is often born out of paying too much attention to what we don't have, rather than being grateful for what we do have. If the legendary blind Helen Keller could say, "self-pity is our worst enemy", who are we to give it the time of day? In the course of our daily activities here is what we should always keep in mind. First, we should always be aware of the destructive emotion of self-pity. It's an internal sore by which the human personality is immobilized, but it can be cured by right thoughts and working constantly to achieve something worthwhile. The only way we can overcome self-pity is to take our thoughts off ourselves and our problems and begin to think about others and how we can help or serve them in some way.

It's true, self-pity is a very expensive emotion and one that we can certainly do without. This may be a trite and overworked story but it still makes a very valid point. There was a man who felt sorry for himself because he had no shoes and then he saw a man who had no feet. If by chance along about now you are having a pity-party about something, lace up your boots, put a smile on your face and start looking for something you can do for someone else. You will find that your self-pity will evaporate like the dew on a spring morning. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 186 - TURNING BURDENS INTO STEPPING STONES

No. 186

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

TURNING BURDENS INTO STEPPING STONES

I'm always grateful when someone thinks enough of me to share information that I can use in one of my columns. As I've said many times, I don't have all the answers and if I can find or be given something that I think will be helpful to you, I'm all ears. When I sit down to write these columns, my primary consideration is you and your needs. While I may miss you in some cases, I am sincerely trying to do the best I can to be a source of hope, encouragement and reliable information. If you are a regular reader you know that I tackle negative topics once in a while but I try to do it in a positive way. My prayer is that reading my column will be one of the high points of your week.

My good friend Roy Chatham put something in my mail box at Church the other day titled, "Never Trouble Trouble" that contained a very profound and thought provoking message. It was written by Richard Hopper, a retired pastor who now lives in Norman, Oklahoma. It begins, "A Seminary professor once said to his students, "Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you." Good advice, for no person in his right mind will deliberately create trouble for himself.

But trouble is inevitable, unavoidable. Sooner or later, everyone experiences an hour of adversity. The question is what to do with it and how to use it. A scientist once observed an ant carrying a small piece of straw. The ant was struggling under the burden, for the straw was much bigger than she was. The ant came to a crack in its path which was too wide for it to cross.

It stood for a time, as though pondering its next move. Then, placing the straw across the crack, it walked across to the other side, picked up the straw again, and went on its way. Using one's burden as a stepping stone is the way of progress. Every moment of difficulty can be a lesson, teaching one to face life with greater courage and hope. Turn your trouble into a stepping stone, a step to a more useful life.

At this point, may I ask you a very personal question? Do you have burdens or things that are troubling you that are weighing you down? It could be finances, marriage problems, addiction to one form of drug or another, a dysfunctional family or disappointments relating to a job or career. If left unresolved, these burdens can become so heavy that it seems like life is no longer worthwhile. It is at this point that many people give up and begin a downward slide that ends up in the hospital or the grave.

From my perspective, here is the good news. There are few things in this life we can't handle if we have the right mental attitude and view our burdens, not as trouble or problems, but opportunities to learn and to grow as a human being. Solving problems is what a successful life is all about. The one exception that comes to mind is a terminal illness or disease. If this is your case, you need to make sure your relationship is right with God. Of course, like most things, this is your own personal decision.

But apart from this, just renew your faith that there is a possible solution to your troubles or burdens. In your mind see that small ant place the straw over the crack and then proceed on her way. In most cases we can do the same thing if we too will just back up and plan our next move. If you can't do it on your own, get some professional help. We all have needs of various kinds and many of our needs are Spiritual. If you have this need, I want to invite you to read I John 1:9 in the Bible. I've been there with my burdens and troubles and it's done wonders for me. Until next time I want to leave you with this quote by Henry Ward Beecher, "Trouble is the tools by which God fashions us for better things." (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 BentleyDrive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 187 - HAS "BINGE DRINKING" BECOME EPIDEMIC?

No. 187

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HAS "BINGE DRINKING" BECOME EPIDEMIC?

Several weeks ago I was sitting on an airplane approaching the Detroit International Airport and due to heavy traffic our plane had to circle a number of times. While maneuvering to get into position to land, the plane made a number of banks and sharp turns that make it a little uncomfortable for me. In fact when I fly on an airplane I never do put all my weight down on it. As I sat there I was reminded of the story of this man and his wife who were at a small air strip watching this stunt pilot perform all types of flying routines, dives, flips, loops, upside down and stalls. All in all it was quite a show.

When the stunt pilot landed the plane, this fella went over to him and said, "you know, that must be fun. I've always wondered what it would be like to fly because I have never flown in a plane in my life." The pilot said, "I tell you what. I'll take you and your wife up and furthermore if you can ride with me for 30 minutes without screaming, hollering or saying anything, I'll give you $5.00." This fella said, "you're on." Well, they took off and as they say, this stunt pilot let it "all hang out" in an attempt to make this fella say something. He performed every routine he knew and then some. After 30 minutes the pilot landed the plane and after they got out, he said to this fella, "You are the best I have ever seen. Here is your $5.00." This fella said, "you know, that was the hardest $5.00 I ever earned in my life. I almost said something...when my wife fell out."

In relation to flying I have a number of friends who own small planes and love to fly but I never became interested in flying for a very good reason. Earlier in my life, before I married my wife, I used to take trips in my car and would often be running on fumes before I would stop for gas. In fact, I have run out a few times and had to hitch a ride or walk to a gas station. Using this logic, I knew that I didn't want to run out of gas in an airplane in the middle of nowhere. As I said, this was back in the old days before my wife changed some of my habits. Now, when we get below half a tank, she says, "we had better get some gas." After hearing this a hundred times, I finally found out that this was the best way, even when she was not along. The point I'm making is that changing our habits is not easy but it can be done. The joy for me is that my wonderful wife has not only helped me in this way but in other areas of my life as well.

Now, this question please. Do you have people in your life that are helping you change some of your unproductive habits? While I'm not judging people who do things like drinking, gambling, smoking, lying, cheating and stealing, one or more of these habits can become very destructive. For example, drinking can start off as an occasional one or two, and escalate to three or four and then to "binge drinking." Can the state of being an alcoholic be far behind? A while back we had Dr. John White, Chancellor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, speak to our local Lions Club. He was really a fine speaker and one of the things he talked about was the subject of "binge drinking" at many of our nation's colleges and universities. He stated that a number of college presidents had told him that this was one of the most serious problems they faced at their school.

As a non-drinker, it's hard for me to relate to this, but as it relates to the American people, here is a question we should ask ourselves. Has "binge drinking" become epidemic? What's the answer? If you have the need, why not find someone like my wife to help you break the habit. Of course it's not that simple but it's tragic when you think of all the lives that are destroyed. If this is your problem, get some help. Your life is far too prescious to waste and every human being has great value. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 BentleyDrive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 188 - HOW TO HAVE A PRODUCTIVE DAY

No. 188

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW TO HAVE A PRODUCTIVE DAY

One Sunday afternoon a man and his wife were taking a drive in the country and after about an hour she said, "You know, I think we're lost." He said, "Yeah, but aren't we making good time?" While on the surface it may not be obvious, but this simple story contains a principle that has the potential to help any of us achieve greater success in our lives. This principle can be summed up with these words: If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there.

While you may or may not have thought about this, every day in our nation, as well as throughout the world, there are millions of people who have no destination, no direction and no purpose in life. What this really boils down to is "Wasted Time-Wasted Lives." The really sad thing, at least for a good percentage of these people, is that it does not have to be this way. Now, please allow me to digress for just a moment. What I have said up to this point can only become a reality if we are free and have the opportunity to use the time and talents that God has given us. This is why I thank God every day for America where we have more opportunity than anywhere else on earth.

Here is the bottom line. If we are to use our time and talents in the most productive way, there are certain things we need to know. I believe one of the key things we need to know and understand is the difference between activity and productivity. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever wondered why some people can stay 'busy' all the time and yet never seem to accomplish anything really worthwhile? While on the other hand, we see people around us who accomplish so much but yet never seem to break a sweat. The other day I asked Willie Oates, who is a world beater in this respect, how she accomplished so much. She replied, "I'm organized. Each day I make a list of things I need to do and then I check them off one at a time as I do them." To be sure, this is a big part of making the wisest possible use of our time.

But back to the subject at hand. A thorough understanding of the difference between activity and productivity can make all the difference in the world. The dictionary defines activity as "brisk or vigorous movement or action." In other words, activity simply means staying busy. For example, a person could take a rag and wipe the same table a hundred times and they would certainly be busy but they would not be productive.

You are getting the picture if you can think of a number of people who spend their days in this way. Now, let's look at the word productive for a moment. The dictionary defines productive as, "producing or tending to produce profits or increase in quantity, quality or value." The word 'productive' is an economic term but it can also be applied to any other area of our lives. This is true for people who are retired, still working or just starting out in life.

Here is the criteria. If we are to be productive, most of our actions or activity must be directed toward the attainment of a predetermined goal or objective. In other words, we must be working toward something specific that we have determined that we need to do. Do you see what I am saying? You can puddle, piddle or muddle around in all types of activity and never accomplish anything. On the other hand, if you are working, individually or as part of a group, towards a predetermined goal or objective and your actions are focused and directed to this end, YOU ARE PRODUCTIVE. May I suggest that you think about what I have said here and each day, try to evaluate each act your perform. Ask yourself, "Is this the most productive use of my time or am I just staying busy?" The end result may surprise you. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 189 - "JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM"

No. 189

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

"JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM"

As I begin this day I feel so blessed. When I came to the office this morning I had a fax from Dreyers Grand Ice Cream, located in Oakland, California. A representative from the company was inviting me to do an interview with John Harrison, Dreyer's Official Taster, whose tastebuds are insured for a cool one million dollars. Mr. Harrison has tasted more than 183 million gallons of ice cream during his lifetime and he has invented a few himself such as Cookies N' Cream, French Silk and Chocolate Fudge Mousse.

This fax is one of several I am now getting each week because someone placed my name on a mailing list as a General Columnist. I don't know who or where but the range of topics pretty well covers the water front. Some are very interesting and I think very worthy and a few are a little humorous. For example, a while back I got a fax inviting me to attend a conference in Bainbridge, Georgia to save the Red Cockaded Woodpecker. Not to say that this is not worthwhile but it's a little out of my league.

In this same vein I got a fax recently from Martha Kiley, a publicist for The World Almanac and Book Of Facts, located in East Hampton, New York. Because this seemed to be something I could use, I gave Ms. Kiley a call and she agreed to send me a preview copy. I can tell you truthfully that this book is wonderful and every home, organization and business in America should have a copy. To quote the American Library Association, "For the most information in one source, The World Almanac remains the champion." There are over one thousand pages of small type in this one volume and it contains facts and other information we can use in some way almost every day of our lives.

When I saw the title of this work, it reminded me of the old television series, now reruns, called "Dragnet." I can still see and hear Jack Webb, as Sergeant Joe Friday saying, "Just the facts Ma'am, just the facts." To continue, we have all heard someone say, "you need to get your facts straight or it helps to have the facts." Better still is the line, "Don't confuse me with the facts, I've already made up my mind."

Whether your motive is to dazzle your friends or to make sure what you say or write is accurate, The World Almanac and Book Of Facts could be a very valuable resource. Since I'm a basketball fan, one of the ways I was able to use it during "March Madness" was to look up some of the lesser known teams who were invited to the "Big Dance." I had no idea where many of the smaller schools like Iona, Gonzaga, Coppin State and Saint Mary's were located.

The latter was not in this particular tournament but it was interesting to note that their are two Saint Mary's Colleges. One is located in Los Angeles, California and the other in Newburgh, New York. The only difference is the spelling of the word Saint. The Los Angeles school uses the abreviated "St." In addition to the location of each college and university you will find the year it was founded, the enrollment, number of faculty members, tuition and fees and the cost of room and board is also given.

What I've given you is just a small sample. Regardless of the topic, whether it's mountains, seas, flags, politics, sports, population, health, education, environment, geography, the Internet and multitudes of other topics, you will find it here. The paperback cost is only $10.95 and is distributed by St. Martin's Press. Your local bookstore should have it or they can get it for you. I would like to leave you with this quote from Carl Ackerman, "Facts, when combined with ideas, constitute the greatest force in the world." (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 190 - HOW TO CLEAN UP YOUR LANGUAGE

No. 190

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

HOW TO CLEAN UP YOUR LANGUAGE

There is a well known principle that says, "If you wish to achieve success, all you have to do is find a need and fill it." However, other than basic needs, most of our opportunities will be based on our degree and level of people skills. Believe it or not, how we use our language can go a long way in helping us achieve success. It is with these thoughts in mind that I would like to invest a little time and suggest a few ways to clean up your language.

Of course I realize that your language may already been as "clean as a hound's tooth" and if it is, you are my kind of people. On the other hand you may be one of those people who have a foul mouth and this can run the gamut of a four letter word here and there, to being crude and even to being just plain vulgar. Here understand that I'm not trying to be a moral policeman but if people with a foul mouth understood what it was costing them, many would jump at the chance to do something about it.

In my business, as well as my outlook on life, one of the things I love is a good clean joke. To me, this is the kind of joke that is not suggestive, does not put some person or group down because of race, class or creed and in general does not harm other people in any way. Many of the good jokes I run across do not meet this criteria to the letter but they can often be cleaned up and as a result be in good taste and be helpful in a number of ways.

Here is a good example. One time I heard the famous humorist Bob Murphy tell the story about "Cousin Slim" from Texas who went to England to visit some of his distant relatives. When he had settled in, a few days later they took him Fox hunting. After the hunt was over one of his relatives said, "Cousin Slim, over here in our country our customs and the manner in which we express ourselves is just a wee bit different. For instance, when the dogs begin the chase and the fox is spotted we say, "tallyho-o-o-o, the fox. We don't say, HEAD THAT RED SON OF A GUN." As you can tell, this is a great story and Bob has cleaned it up just a little.

At this point, I would like to give you several reasons why people use profanity. The vast majority of people do so out of habit. When they are around people every day, in their home or work environment, who use profanity, they soon pick it up and many times don't even know they are doing it. Another reason many people use profanity is because of low self-esteem. Especially in their own peer group, these people use profanity because they think it makes them appear tougher, stronger and a part of the "in" crowd. Many times young people use profanity for the same reasons but they also think it makes them come across as "cool" to talk like adults. Who can blame them after years of gutter language on television, radio and much of the music they listen to? And finally, many people use profanity because they have a very limited vocabulary.

Here is something we should all think about. Except by silence, the one thing we cannot hide is the use of our language. When we open our mouth and begin to speak, we proclaim to the world where we are on the cultural and social pyramid. To do something about our use of foul language we must feel the need. A person with "real class" never uses profanity. He or she knows who they are and they know that it's not necessary to try to impress others with a foul mouth. In relation to what I have been saying, here is a final question. How many jobs, sales, raises, promotions or speakers who have never been invited back because of just one four letter word? (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 191 - THE "NOT" RAISING HOG BUSINESS

No. 191

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE "NOT" RAISING HOGS BUSINESS

The Scottish Essayist, Historian and Philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) once said, "Government is the exact symbol of its people, with their wisdom and unwisdom." Personally I am grateful for our nation's forefathers who had the wisdom to establish a Republic with its built-in checks and balances. What they envisioned and developed has served us well as we have chartered a course and made our way through choppy seas to become the most powerful nation on earth.

To be sure, our nation faces challenges today that our forefathers never dreamed we would have and I'm not absolutely sure our modern day politicians are equal to the task. When a Nation's economy becomes as large as ours, there is plenty of 'wiggle' room and that's a big part of the problem. Many politicians do what's best for them and not what's best for America.

Along these lines I got something in the mail the other day that would have been funny if it had not been so close to the truth. It was a letter addressed to the Honorable Secretary Of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. It begins: "Dear Sir, My friend, Ed Peterson, over at Wells, Iowa, received a check for $1000 from the government for not raising hogs. So, I want to go into the not raising hogs business next year.

What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to raise hogs on, and what is the best breed of hogs not to raise? I want to be sure that I approach this endeavor in keeping with all government policies. I would prefer not to raise razorbacks (Ouch!!), but if that is not a good breed not to raise, then I will just as gladly not raise Yorkshires or Durocs. As I see it, the hardest part of this program will be in keeping an accurate inventory of how many hogs I haven't raised.

My friend, Peterson, is very joyful about the future of the business. He has been raising hogs for 20 years or so, and the best he ever made on them was $422.00 in 1987, until this year when he got a check for $1,000 for not raising hogs. If I get $1,000 for not raising 50 hogs, will I get $2,000 for not raising 100 hogs? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 hogs not raised, which will mean about $80,000 the first year. Then I can afford an airplane.

Now another thing. These hogs I will not raise will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. I understand that you also pay farmers for not raising corn and wheat. Will I qualify for payments for not raising wheat and corn not to feed the 4,000 hogs I am not going to raise? I want to get started as soon as possible as this seems to be a good time of the year not to raise hogs and grain. Also, I am considering the not milking cow business, so send me any information on that too.

In view of these circumstances, you understand that I will be totally unemployed and plan to file for unemployment and food stamps. Be assured that you will have my vote in the coming election. Patriotically Yours, Freddie Freeloader P.S. would you please notify me when you plan to distribute more free cheese?"

I'm back. In all seriousness, I know that it may be necessary to subsidize certain products to enable producers to compete in a world economy. What really gets us out of whack is when our national leaders use what we produce for political purposes, as in "be nice" and we will give you a billion dollars. The real losers here are the American consumers because that billion dollars is passed along to all of us in the form of higher prices. At the very least, this story should give all of us something to think about. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 73032.)

No. 193 - THE JELLY BEAN LADY

No. 193

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE JELLY BEAN LADY

A famous person once said that "Love is the most terrible, and also the most generous of all the passions; it is the only one which includes in its dreams the happiness of someone else." Several months ago I was visiting with my good friend and mentor the late Win Pendleton down in Winderemere, Florida. During our conversation he told me a true story that almost brought tears to my eyes. With his blessing, I want to share it with you.

It seems a friend by the name of Marilyn, who lives a couple of streets away, was given a jar of jelly beans. At the time she had no idea how much happiness this gift would bring to her. She was not particularly fond of candy, especially jelly beans, but she would eat one or two every now and then just because they were there. At any rate her supply was due to last for a year or more.

Then things changed. One afternoon she was working with her flowers in the front yard when little five year old Wendy from next door wandered over. After the usual "hello", Marilyn remembered the jar of jelly beans. "Do you like jelly beans?" Marilyn asked Wendy. "Yes, Ma'am." "Well, go ask your mother if you can have some." A few minutes later, Wendy returned. In the background, her mother called from the kitchen window, "it's all right for her to have a few jelly beans, but don't let her make a nuisance of herself. If she gets in your way send her home."

That's how it started about a year ago. Marilyn took Wendy into the kitchen and gave her some jelly beans. How many? You certainly can't give a child one jelly bean so she worked it out this way. "How old are you?" she asked Wendy. Wendy held up five fingers and said, "Five", so Marilyn gave her five jelly beans.

At this point human nature took over. As you know, when it comes to free food and handouts, little children are like squirrels, birds and cats. They always come back for more. They develop that habit very quickly. And so, every afternoon for the next two or three weeks, Wendy showed up at Marilyn's kitchen and said, "Hello." Then one day when Marilyn answered the door, two little children stood there, Wendy and a little boy. "He's Bobby," Wendy said, "He's four." Five jelly beans for Wendy, four for Bobby.

Over the past year the congregation had grown and the last he heard, it was up to six. The drain on the jelly bean jar now totals twenty-eight each day. The original contents disappeared long ago and Marilyn has become the local stores best jelly bean customer. Can you imagine the amount of love that pours out each day when the jelly beans are so carefully counted out and the little smiles as they say "Thank You."

Win went on to say the punch line to the story came from Marilyn's husband at a recent dinner party with friends. He put his hand to his forehead in "mock agony" and said, "Do you have any idea what it's like to be married to a neighborhood celebrity?" Marilyn is known among the tricycle set as the "jelly bean lady." I'm sure you know Marilyn is teaching these youngsters something they can use for the rest of their lives. It's called "sharing."

I hope you have enjoyed this true story. I would like to conclude with this quotation by former President Woodrow Wilson when he was speaking to a group of students at Princeton University: "No thoughtful man ever came to the end of his life and had time and a little space of calm from which to look back upon it, who did not know and acknowledge that it was what he had done unselfishly and for others, and nothing else, that satisfied him in the retrospect, and made him feel that he had played the man." (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 194 - PROFILE OF A DREAM TEAM

No. 194

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

PROFILE OF A DREAM TEAM

It's a wonderful feeling to wake up each day and to be thankful to God that you have so many friends. Two of my friends, Dave and Pat Engle are faithful readers of my column and they have written to me a good number of times over the years. Dave calls himself an old retired contractor from "Philly," meaning Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Each time they write they also send along some food for thought and it's always good.

Up till now, I've not been able to find a spot for any of it in my column but today is the exception. In Dave's last letter he sent me something titled "Profile Of A Dream Team." It is by an unknown author and is circa 1970-1971. It's fantastic and regardless of where you are in life or what you do, I think you'll find some ideas here that you can use. You may have to ponder it a bit, but at least that's my heart's desire.

When I first saw the title, "Profile Of A Dream Team," it reminded me of the 1992 Olympics. This was the first year the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to use professional basketball players in the games. After all, this was certainly in order, because most of the other countries have been using them for years. Because of the level of talent the committee assembled, names like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Reggie Miller and Hakeem Olajuwon, they became known as the "Dream Team." This was very fitting because they were never challenged and as expected, they won the Olympic Gold and lived up to the label they were given as the "Dream Team", the best in the world.

But back to that "Profile" that David Engle sent me. The key word here is 'team' which means two or more and this concept can be applied to any team, whether it's a family, a civic club, an agency of government, a sports team, a racing team and especially a business team where employees must work together for the business to succeed. If you have ever worked for a business that went under, you'll appreciate even more what I am saying. What I hope you will do is focus on what I'm about to give you, and even type it up, put it on the wall or the refrigerator and even make copies and disseminate them to your employees.

Without further comment, here is "The Profile Of A Dream Team": Works toward a common goal, Develops its members skills, Efficiently uses its time and talents, Embraces the diversity of its members, Is committed to continuous improvement, Builds morale internally, Performs effectively and produces results, Accepts praise and criticism, Cooperates rather than competes, Maintains a positive attitude toward everyone's ideas, Stays on task, Uses resources wisely, Communicates openly, Teaches and learns from one another, Resolves conflicts effectively, Welcomes challenges, Shares pride in its accomplishments and Celebrates successes!!

Now granted, that's a lot of words, but I will guarantee that if you will go back to the beginning, read it again, think it through and go logically from one point to the next, you will have an agenda that can't miss. Believe me, success and achievement is no accident. It comes from setting goals, developing short and long range plans and the constant up-grade and improvement of all the individual members of the team. A word of caution here. Don't ever overlook the janitor, bus driver, receptionist, clerk, waitress and others in lower paying positions. These people are some of the most important people in the organization and they should be treated this way. What do you think would happen in your neighborhood if the garbage collector didn't come by for a few weeks? Thanks David, I appreciate your sharing "Profile Of A Dream Team" and hope our readers do, too. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR , AR 72034.)

No. 195 - AGE IS A FUNNY THING

No. 195

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AGE IS A FUNNY THING

There is an old Hebrew Proverb that goes, "When a man is young he writes songs, grown up, he speaks in Proverbs, in old age he peaches pessimism." To me, this seems to suggest that the older we get, the more disillusioned we become. I'm sure this is true for many people, especially those who have no real purpose in life or financial goals, and wind up after forty years of hard work with nothing to show for it.

Here it might be in order to ask you this somewhat personal question. Are you a pessimist or an optimist? To say it another way, is your glass half-full or half-empty? This is really something to think about, especially in light of what I just said about goals. It's up to us to first decide where we are going, if we are to have any real hope of getting there. As I thought about this, it made me think of something that happened just recently. One of the unexpected blessings I have received in writing this column is getting old friends back together.

A while back I got a letter from Ken Drummond who lives in Durant, Oklahoma and he wanted to know how to get in touch with Bob Spencer, a man I had highlighted in a previous column. It seems the two has worked together in a basketball camp twenty years ago and he had lost track of him. After putting them in touch, Bob Spencer wrote to thank me and he also passed along an article titled, "Age Is A Funny Thing" that had been sent to him by a friend in Texas. It's just a biological fact that we are going to age. It's what we do with our lives while we are here that counts. We can choose to live our lives sitting on the sideline or we can choose to get into the game and really make a difference.

But back to that article, "Age Is A Funny Thing." The author is unknown and it begins: "Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we are kids? If you are less than ten years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions. 'How old are you?' I'm four and a half. you're never 36 and a half--you're four going on five. That is the key.

You get into your teens and now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number. How old are you? I'm gonna be 16. You could be 12, but you're gonna be 16. Then the greatest day of your life; you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. You BECOME 21...YES! Then you TURN 30. What happened here? Makes you sound like bad milk. "He turned; we had to throw him out. 'What's wrong? What's changed? You BECOME 21; You TURN 30.

Then you're PUSHING 40..stay over there. You BECOME 21; you TURN 30; you're PUSHING 40. You REACH 50. Then you MAKE it to 60. By now, you've built up so much speed, you HIT 70. After that, it is a day-by-day thing. You HIT Wednesday. As you get into your 80s, you HIT 4:30. In your 90s, you start going backwards. I was JUST 92. Then a strange thing happens, if you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. I'm 100 and a half.

While reading this article I'm sure you picked up some of the terms we all use when discussing our age such as 'gonna be,' 'turn,' 'pushing,' 'reach,' 'make it,' 'hit,' and 'just.' As I leave you I'm going to share something that applies just to us fellows. It's been said that if we live long enough we all go through four stages. No. 1 When we believe in Santa Claus. No. 2 When we don't believe in Santa Claus. No. 3 When we are Santa Claus and No. 4 When we look like Santa Claus. Take care. After a dose or two of Geritol, I'll be ready to go. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 196 - A CLARION CALL TO ALL AMERICANS

No. 196

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A CLARION CALL TO ALL AMERICANS

The English Poet William Blake (1757-1827) once said, Inspiration is to see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wildflower; hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. If you have ever truly been inspired by something, you will more fully comprehend what I am going to share here. On June 29th of this past year I completed my term as President of the Conway Noon Lions Club. I have been privileged to serve with some of the finest men and women I have ever known and they have been a great inspiration to me. From the standpoint of community service, this has been the most rewarding year of my entire life. At the conclusion of our Installation Banquet, the club presented me with a plaque as a Melvin Jones Fellow, the highest award in Lionism. I shall forever be grateful to them for honoring me in this way.

My greatest inspiration came a few months earlier however, when I viewed a video titled, The Future Is Ours...So Now What that was produced by Lions International as a way to get more young people involved in volunteerism. The setting for this video was in the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, Baltimore and Chicago. Because of all the negative things we hear about inner city youth, it was such a thrill to see young men and young women performing various acts of love and kindness. From meals on wheels to hospital visits, interaction with senior citizens and even a project to clean up the environment.

One young man truly inspired me when he said, During our lives we have the choice to perform positive acts or negative acts and I want to perform as many positive acts as I can. When I heard this I said to myself, Thats it. Thats the key to solving many of our massive social and economic problems. If the vast majority of our citizens would consistently perform positive acts most of our problems, over time would be solved. The reason this is possible is because the human mind cannot exist in a vaccum.

Now permit me to to digress for just a moment. In my mind I can see an army of volunteers all across our great country who are committed to performing positive acts for their own benefit as well as others. While we all have the power to change for the better, what we need is people who have excellent character, high moral standards and a genuine love and concern for their fellow human beings. Please understand these positive acts can be carried out in any forum. I have a deep respect for all civic and humanitarian organizations who are involved in projects to help the less fortunate and those who really need our help.

If you agree with what Im saying I want to ask you to drop me a note and let me know that you are committed to being a part of this great volunteer army that can make a real difference in the future of our nation. Certainly your note will encourage me but it will also crystallize your thinking and be a reminder in the months and years to come. If you will take time and do this I will promise you three things. First, I will never ask you for money. Next, I will never try to sell you anything and lastly. I will never (I repeat never) give your name to someone for a mailing list.

My only motive is to leave behind a better country in the future for my kids and grandkids and for those you love as well. In the future when you see someone who is a living example of what Im saying, send me their story and Ill share some of these in a future column. In the final analysis, We The People still have the power, and if enough of us are committed, we can make a difference. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 197 - THE KEYS TO A WINNING PERSONALITY

No. 197

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE KEYS TO A WINNING PERSONALITY

There are many qualities that an individual needs to achieve personal success. High on the list would be hard work, integrity, organizational skills and a burning desire to achieve a worthy goal or ideal. Ranking somewhere near the top would also be something we call a winning personality. This is the ability to use grace, charm, humor and other people skills to make friends quickly and easily and to enlist the help and encouragement of others to accomplish our objectives.

What I have shared here with regards to personality can be summed up with these words by the American poet Walt Whitman. He said, Personality is that alone that allows a man to stand before presidents and generals, or in any distinguished collection with aplomb. Since the word aplomb was not in my vocabulary, I had to turn to the dictionary. It means assurance; self-confidence. A winning personality simple means we have the assurance or self-confidence to win other people over to our way of thinking.

To do this, we must be genuine and real and have the knack of making others feel comfortable in our presence. Over the years I have known many fine people who had all kinds of ability but yet they were cold and I was never able to feel comfortable around them. While I have known many others who were warm, caring, sensitive and had the ability to make me feel comfortable, almost from the first moment that I came into their presence. This question please, do you really understand what I am saying here? I hope so because this could mean the difference between failing, achieving mediocre success or being an outstanding success in your chosen field of endeavor.

We can be letter perfect in every other area of our lives, but if we lack people skills, we are going to suffer in some way as a result. Of course, as in most things of this nature, the decision or choice is our own to make. Quite often however, we were just never taught or took the time to learn the little simple things that can make a difference. The word here is tweaking which means a slight adjustment to enhance the performance.

By way of summary, here are some keys to a winning personality that may be of some value to you. Key No. 1-You were created in the image of God and you have incredible worth and value as a human being. No person is any better or any worse than any other person and because of this we never need to be intimidated by the status or possessions others. Key No. 2-Regardless of mistakes, discouragements or failures in the past, begin to conduct yourself as someone who has real value. If you dont already, in your mind see yourself as a real winner. Key No. 3-Respect other people as unique human beings even though you may disagree with their behavior, values or positions they may take. In some ways what this is really saying is Hate the sin but love the sinner..

Key No. 4-Never talk down to other people who are in your charge but always seek to build them up and encourage them to be better than they are. Consistent criticism of others is a one way road to failure. Key No. 5-Smile naturally when you are in the presence of others and put a smile in your voice when you speak. Look into the eyes of others when you talk with them and express a genuine concern for their well being. Key No. 6-Forgive others who have hurt or wronged you. Those who conduct themselves in this manner still have to live with themselves and if it causes you to be bitter, THEY have really won. No person who is bitter can have a winning personality. Whats transpiring on the inside, usually shows up on the outside. In conclusion, I would just like to say from my heart to yours, I want the very best for you. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 198 - A FORMULA FOR FINANCIAL SUCCESS

No. 198

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A FORMULA FOR FINANCIAL SUCCESS

There is not a day that goes by that I do not hear or read about some person who is having serious financial problems. The reasons are many but the end result is usually debt created by the unwise use of credit cards. We all know that its easier to hand someone a piece of plastic, and the power that goes with it, than to hand someone a one hundred dollar bill, especially one that we have just earned. At this point, I realize that what I am saying may not apply to you but if you, family members or some close friends are deep in debt, I want to encourage you to share this column with them.

Its by no means original but I have a formula for financial success that I can guarantee will work and its so simple that anyone can take advantage of it. Here Im not talking about earning money, but rather what we do with it after we earn it. This is the formula; tithe 10% of your income to the Lord, save and invest 10% and live on the other 80%. The first part of the formula, tithe 10% of your income is a commandment of God that is recorded in the Bible in several places but most notably in Malachi 3:10 where it says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and test Me in this, says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until there is no more need.

There is much more here than meets the eye. When we obey this commandment we are placing our priorities in the proper order. In a very real sense, this is the reason this formula works. When we honor God by giving Him our first fruits, He will bless beyond all measure. I might add here, for most of my life I did not believe this and did not do it. However, a few years ago I started tithing and God has blessed me and my family beyond all measure. From a point where I didnt think I could afford to tithe, now I know that I cant afford not to. The more we give with a pure heart the more He will bless us.

I will be quick to add here, this is not the prosperity gospel that many people believe which says, give $10,000 and God will give you a return of $100,000. No, what Im talking about is giving to God because He is God and we love Him and because this is what He commands us to do. Once we get our priorities right, it is time to implement the next part of the formula, to save and invest 10% of our income on a regular basis. Talk with someone you know who is financially successful and they can help you with this. Over time, financial success will come to you and be a source of real satisfaction.

Now lets turn to the part of the formula where the real rub comes, living on the other 80%. This is really a psychological battle for most people who are in debt. Granted the people who are living below the poverty line have a real tough time but the formual will still work. But there are millions of people in our prosperous nation who earn in excess of $100,000 per year who are still deep in debt. Just drive through the most affluent neighborhoods in your area and notice how many of the homes are for sale. Many are for sale for valid reasons but many others are for sale because the occupants cant afford to make the payments.

In reality, there are so many things we dont need or have to have and most of us can get by quite easily on 80% of our income. If you struggle financially, I hope you will think seriously about the formula for financial success that Ive shared; tithe 10% of your income to the Lord, save and invest 10% and live on the other 80%. As you know, nothing worthwhile is ever easy but this could be the solution you have been looking for. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 192 - A MATTER OF CHARACTER

No. 192

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

A MATTER OF CHARACTER

Former President Abraham Lincoln once said, "Character is like a tree and reputation like it's shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." To be sure, when Abraham Lincoln, who I think was our nation's greatest president, spoke these words about character, it was back in the days before what has come to be known as "situational ethics." In other words, just do what do what you think is right, based on the situation at the time.

Now, before I share some thoughts with you that are very personal, I want to confess that I am from the old school. I came from a generation when a man's word was his bond. So consequently I don't think too highly of a person who tells you something in a business deal and then goes back on his word. A few months ago my wife and I decided it was time for her to have a new vehicle. Because she hates to climb up out of a car, she wanted a truck. At this point I began to look around and finally found a late model, low mileage truck at a dealership not far from our home that seemed to be just what we had in mind. When I talked with a young salesman, he gave me the price they would sell it for. A few days later I took my wife's van by this dealership to see what they would give us on a trade.

The amount was so small that we decided to try to sell it ourselves and we did. In the meantime this young salesman told me they had an offer on the truck we were interested in, but there was a chance the potential buyer's credit application may not be approved. This turned out to be true and in a day or so he called to see if we were still interested. Since this would be a cash sale, I told him exactly what I would give for his truck and he said that he needed to talk with the sales manager and he would call me back.

In a few minutes the phone rang and he stated that they would accept my offer and for us to come on down. Now, here is the rest of the story and the purpose of my column. When we walked up to the front door the young salesman met us with these words, "I hope you are not going to be mad at me." The sales manager was standing there with him and he proceeded to tell us they were losing money and there was no way they could sell us the truck for the amount they had agreed to over the phone.

Since we were already emotionally involved at this point, I asked, "what will it take to buy it?" He then gave me a price of $200 more than they said they would take. I countered with a $100 more and the sales manager said, "sell him the truck!" My point is this: all of that for a measly $100! I would have given what they had originally asked, if they had told me the truth over the phone before we went there.

While we have no way of knowing if the young salesman was in on the deal, the sad thing for him is that he was standing there and heard what transpired and he knows what kind of people he is working for. His subconscious mind recorded every word and over time, this will have a tremendous impact on his self-esteem. Let me hasten to add, this is not a put down or indictment of all automobile dealerships. Most do have a good reputation that is based on character and integrity.

In summary, our deal will just be a very small speck on the radar screen and certainly will not cause this dealership to fail, but here is what they lost. The well-wishes of a satisfied customer, referrals, the opportunity for repeat business and future service and maintenance on the truck. All for a $100. Please understand, I'm not mad or bitter because I still have the same positive attitude I had before this transpired. There are consequences for our actions and behavior and we should not reward people who have little or no character. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 199 - METAL DETECTORS FOR OUR SCHOOLS

No. 199

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

METAL DETECTORS FOR OUR SCHOOLS?

When I was in the seventh grade in school we had a young, attractive English teacher by the name of Merlie Fenner. One day in class I mocked her and she promptly sent me to the principals office. The principal was swift in his assessment and without fanfare gave me twenty seven licks with a long paddle across my you-know-where. Needless to say, I never mocked her again. When it was all said and done and my parents learned of it, they didnt threaten to sue the school district or call the ACLU. They said, Give him another one if he needs it. Now the reason I have shared this with you is because in all the years I was in school, not one time did we have a student bring a gun to school or make a bomb threat. This type of activity was out of the question because we all knew what the consequences would have been.

To say that today we live in a different world would probably be the understatement of the century. With regard to respect for authority, discipline and being held accountable for our actions, I have known, as Im sure you have, that we have been going downhill for the past several decades. Millions of Americans have been willing to discredit what I am saying until the tragic shootings in several of our nations public schools. These tragic incidents have served to let the whole world know where we are as a society. To be sure I know that most kids are good kids and they are victims as well. But in the wake of these unthinkable events, our national conscience has been pricked and people are now actually looking for solutions.

A few weeks ago I learned about one school district that has taken extreme measures to make their schools safe. In a recent conversation with Cecelia Spear, Director of the Office Of Student Affairs for the Fort Worth Independent School District (Texas), I learned the history and background of the various measures they have taken to insure student safety. Going all the way back to 1968, this district had entered into a partnership with the Fort Worth Police Department in a school-police liaison program. Many positive steps followed this action. In 1993 metal detectors were installed and used in random locations during the school day as well as at the entrance of all after school programs and athletic events. A couple of years later the Fort Worth City Council passed a half-cent sales tax to fund more officers in the schools along with surveillance cameras in all school busses, middle schools and high schools, a total of over 800 cameras.

Now granted, this is a large inner city school district and extreme measures had to be taken but all in all its been a great success. But as you know, what happens in large city school districts has a way of filtering down to smaller cities and then to small rural schools as well. In the wake of these tragic shootings many people are now clamoring for metal detectors in all schools.

In closing, I would like to say that I detest those products and services that have become necessary because of fear. Not necessarily the people who are the vendors but the irresponsible people in the media and other areas of our society who make it possible for them to thrive. I think we can use our tax money in a much more productive way than hiring extra policemen, installing metal detectors, surveillance cameras, sniffing dogs and all the rest. Our children however, are our greatest resource and we must do what is necessary to protect them and create a safe learning environment. Really and truly the choice is up the American people. We can either take steps to change our culture or spend the money on nonproductive safety measures. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 200 - THE LAW OF SELF-CONTROL

No. 200

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LAW OF SELF-CONTROL

Have you ever been discombobulated? I have, many times. This word means to be confused or upset. For some reason this word came to mind when I began to think about the Law Of Self-control, which is what I want to invite you to think with me about for a little while. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that in the past Ive discussed various natural laws that can become success laws if understood and applied in the right way. Success is desired by almost everyone but unfortunately millions of people never take the time to learn the laws or principles that govern or determine success.

The truth is, we live by the grace of God but while we are here on this earth there are things we can do and acts we can perform on a routine basis that will make us more successful and in most cases, happier as well. Of course, whether its success or happiness or both, a lot depends on our priorities, but thats another column. But back to the word discombobulated for a moment. I am always inspired and even amazed at the amount of control that some people have over their body. Ill never forget Gold Metal Winner Mary Lou Retton who hit two perfect 10s in a row during the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Obviously, space will not permit too many examples but think of the high wire walker or flying trapeze artists in the circus or the fantastic ice skaters that have been around for years. My point is that you cant have this kind of control over your body if you are discombobulated. To be successful in most any endeavor we must have the mind and the body working in perfect harmony to achieve maximum results. However, there is still another aspect to consider here and that is to have a high degree of control over our lives. At this point, it should be rather obvious why our personal success depends to a large degree on our knowledge, development and proper use of the Law Of Self-control.

To elaborate a little more and to make it clear, we know by the process of experimentation that we have control over various parts of our body. A simple command will tell us to move our hands, fingers, legs, feet and even our eyes. But have you ever thought about the fact that a simple command will not cause your heart to stop beating? Its between these two extremes that lie all the rest of our self-control. While we have great control over our limbs, we have less control over our tongue, and in diminishing order our ideas, feelings, emotions and our instincts.

At this point I believe you can see that its here that our greatest potential lies. According to the dictionary, self-control means to exercise direction, restraint, motivation and government over our organs, our faculties, our emotions, as well as our personalities. At this point what Im going to say may be so simple that you may have a tendency to pass it off without a second thought. Hopefully, you wont do that because a little time spent each day in this area could pay great dividends. Please consider these final thoughts and what they could mean to you.

The key to achieving greater self-control is training and the greatest accomplishment is to train the mind to extend and increase its authority over the body. The first step toward self-control is planning. We must know what we wish to accomplish and also what our resources and shortcomings are. Then once a day we should sit down, plan, think, analyze and reason. If you will discipline yourself to do this on a consistent and regular basis, your self-control is bound to increase. Then to a larger degree, we will be masters of our own fate, and will be able to do more with our God given talents and abilities. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 201 - THE LADDER OF SUCCESS

No. 201

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE LADDER OF SUCCESS

This past Tuesday evening I got a phone call from a young man who lives in Littleton, Colorado. He had been out in Glenwood Springs recently and had read one of my columns in the Glenwood Post where I had discussed the importance of setting goals. He called to see if this particular column was part of a series, and if so, how he might obtain some additional information. He was very forthright and told me that he was thirty one years of age and had never gotten on track or achieved anything worthwhile during his lifetime.

The reason I have decided to share his anonymous but true story is because it is representative of many, many people (men & women) all across this great country. This young man began by saying that he had an idea that he thought had some potential. He was working the early morning shift for UPS, the parcel delivery service, and was earning enough money to get by but his idea was to develop a sports trivia periodical and distribute it to sports bars in the Denver area. In his mind he could see men and women who had come to the sports bar to have conversation and drinks discussing his trivia offerings and having a great time doing it.

On the surface this sounded like a great idea but I began to question him about how his product would be printed and distributed and if people in a dimly lit environment would have sports on their mind and if they would actually read it. He admitted that this was something that he had not given a lot of thought to. As a sidebar, Im sure a lot of people who frequent bars have fun but Ive always thought a bar was a place where many people go to forget their troubles and drown their sorrows.

At this point I began to share some positive thoughts with him that hopefully will make a difference in his future and his life. I talked with him about his personal success and then shared the story of the man who spent his life climbing the Ladder Of Success and when he got to the top he found that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. You see, we can spend our entire life pursuing things that in the end do not really matter because they do not last and produce real, deep satisfaction. Even after all the money and material success there is still a hole or void there.

Now keep in mind that he called me and because I cared about him I asked him about his faith because that is the foundation for a happy, joyous life that will endure forever and ever. He said he had planned to visit some churches in the area and I hope he does. Its my prayer that he will find a church home and a loving church family that will nurture him. Once he begins to search for truth and look within himself, he will find a source of strength and courage that he never knew existed. As he discovers who he really is and then begins to think of ways to be of service to others, all kinds of career opportunities will open up for him.

Granted, he may need to go back to school or get more training but he will have a purpose and a reason to get our of bed each day. He will also understand the forces of this world that will beat him down and keep him discouraged if he gives in or gives up. While I may never know the final outcome, I just wanted this young man to know that I cared enough to share the best information I had. To me, anything worth doing is worth doing right and if we are going to spend our lives climbing the Ladder Of Success, we need to make sure when we get to the top that it is leaning against the right wall. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 202 - THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF NOISE POLLUTION

No. 202

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF NOISE POLLUTION

My former business partner, the late Bob Gannaway used to tell a story about Alexander the Jumping Flea. It seems this man had trained a flea to sit on his arm and on command, the flea would jump over a pencil or some small object and land safely on the other side. After a while this flea got so good at the routine that this man named him Alexander and he would show him off to everyone who came along. One day he was telling a gentleman about this trained flea and the gentleman said, Lets see him do it. The man then placed this flea on his arm, got his pencil in place and said, Jump Alexander, The flea just sat there. Again he said, Jump Alexander. Again no response. At this point the gentleman said, I think your flea is deaf.

Naturally this man was distraught and he said, I want to try one more time; Jump Alexander. Again, nothing. At this point this man looked at his flea a little closer and proudly said, No wonder, this is not even Alexander. Regardless of whether it was hearing, training or a case of mistaken identity, this is my way of introducing you to the very important topic of hearing health that has some potential benefits for vast majority of people in our great nation.

A few weeks ago I received a fax from the National Campaign for Hearing Health based in Washington, D.C., and they asked me to help make the general public more aware of the dangers of toxic noise and the resulting hearing loss. This is a very serious problem for over twenty eight million Americans who have complete or serious hearing loss. With noise levels in some areas and sectors of American life, the problem may only get worse. If you or someone you love is exposed to excessive toxic noise, here are some things you may need to consider.

Monitoring and testing hearing regularly is as important as checking your teeth, blood pressure and vision. Without testing, hearing loss symptoms can go unrecognized, leading to serious long-term damage, including tinnitus (a chronic buzzing and ringing in the ears) and potentially, deafness. Prevention and rehabilitation are possible through early detection and appropriate treatment programs. The National Campaign for Hearing Health reminds you to see your doctor regularly to test and monitor your hearing.

In the meantime, there are simple steps that you can take to ensure your hearing health every day of the year. No. 1-EAR AIDS..Wear ear plugs or other protection when you know youll be exposed to loud noises, fireworks, lawn mowers, power boats, airplanes and motorcycles. No. 2-VOLUME DISCIPLINE..Care for your hearing on a daily basis by turning down your car and home stereos, headphones and television. Louder isnt better. No.3-RAPID RESPONSE..When ambushed by toxic noises, including sirens, airplane engines and jack hammers, etc., plug your ears with your fingers. No. 4-FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY..Prepare yourself for the fireworks show by sitting a comfortable distance from the display or by using ear plugs. Firecrackers produce a noise that ranks between 130 and 190 decibels, which is approximately 110 decibels above a safe noise level and where irreversible ear damage can occur.

In conclusion, I realize this is something most of us dont give the time of day unless the noise level is so high that it hurts our ears and then we may plug our ears with our fingers. True!! For a copy of the Hearing Checklist and a free set of earplugs, call 1-800-829-5934 or visit their website at www.hearinghealth.net (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 203 - WHY IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE

No. 203

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

AN IDEA FOR HAND GUN SAFETY

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No. 204 - THE SAGA OF IRVING LOSER

No. 204

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

THE SAGA OF IRVING LOSER

One of the greatest challenges a public speaker faces, after being introduced, is to gain the undivided attention of the people in the audience and to get them to concentrate and focus on what he or she is saying. I love to see and hear a master communicator who can do this. In addition to being well qualified, many times a speaker must also be very creative, especially if he does not have a commanding presence or a distinctive voice quality.

As an introduction to what I want to share with you, please permit me to tell you about a sales manager who was a master when it came to being creative. One day he stood before his sales force of a thousand men and women and he yelled, Who was the first president of our country? They all yelled back, George Washington. Then he yelled, Who was the first man to fly an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean? They all yelled back, Charles Lindbergh. Then he yelled, Who was Irving Loser?

After a long pause, one man finally yelled back, Irving Loser, we never heard of him. At this point the sales manager stuck out his chest and said, The reason you have never heard of Irving Loser is because that blankety-blankety quit. Now, I believe you will agree this story contains is a real message for many of us. Here I would like to ask you an important question that is worth thinking about for a little while. How many people do you suppose could have been highly successful, even world famous, if they had just stuck with what they started out to do.

I was talking with a friend the other day and he was telling me about a young man we both know who has worked for several different companies the past six months. And believe me, he was not moving up the ladder, he was going sideways or even going down. Granted, he was at the bottom of the pay scale but he was not willing to pay the price and stick it out until a better opportunity with his first employer opened up for him. You see, each time he quit, his subconscious mind registered failure and it was also a black mark on his employment record for all future potential employers to see.

The sad part of this story is that he is living out the Saga Of Irving Loser that has been passed on from his father and unless he changes, he will also pass it on to his children. You see, this young man comes from a family of low achievers. In essence, this is what the word saga means. Its the story of the history of a family and when the family tree consists mostly of losers, this trait is just passed on from one generation to the next. The great news is that every healthy individual in our nation has the opportunity and the potential to become successful and in a sense to set new standards.

For example, many highly successful executives know and understand this principle and their kids start at the bottom. This is to say, driving a truck, working in the warehouse and doing other menial jobs. Not that these jobs dont have value, they just dont pay as much and usually the work is harder. If you will do some research, I believe you will find that most successful people started at the bottom and worked their way up.

In closing, I would just like to say that sometimes life is hard and in the long run we would be better off to tell our children the truth, then work to encourage them to do great things. Its called rising above our circumstances and in this country we certainly have the opportunity to make the most of our talents and abilities. In my own life, I have found that when things get rough, if I dont quit, the sky will clear and all kinds of good things have come as a result. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 205 - ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM LIGHT STARVATION?

No. 205

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM LIGHT STARVATION?

The other day I read something that gave me a chuckle, and while I had never thought about it before, it was the gospel truth. Its been said there are two classes of people in the world; the righteous and the unrighteous. The classifying is done by the righteous. Now I will let you think about that for a little while because you can go at it from several different angles. Before I get to the meat of what I want to share with you during this visit, I would simply remind each of us of these verses of the Bible found in Matthew 7: 1-2, Judge not lest ye be judged yourselves. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured to you.

In addition to working on my attitude each day, I also remind myself to never be judgmental because to do so is to violate this very important Biblical admonition. My objective in writing these columns is to help each of us to become better human beings, to love a little more, to hate a little less and to leave this world a better place than we found it. One of the opportunities that we all have is the wonderful gift of communication. To be clearly understood a large percentage of the time is a great asset and will make us more successful in anything we attempt to do. While many young children learn to speak very clearly early in life, successful communication involves much more than just the spoken word.

For example, have you ever heard this comment: my parents, my husband or wife or someone else just doesnt understand me? As I said earlier, being understood a high percentage of the time is one of the keys to a happy, successful life. One thing for sure, if we are serious about success and have some definite goals and plans, what Im sharing here will help you, especially what Im going to share with you next.

While you may not agree, being from the South Ive always felt that people down this way are much friendlier, as a general rule, than people from other parts of the country. It involves a lot more than being friendly and we call it Southern hospitality. A friend of mine from Boston shared something with me a while back that has helped me to understand this and consequently I relate much better to people all over the country.

He shared an article that appeared in a magazine called Psychology Today that stated that many of the changes that occur in an individuals personality has to do with light starvation. In the fall of the year, the sun slowly reduces the amount of light, and this affects the temperature of the soil, as well as the amount of light on the leaves, grass and animals. This subtly drives plants into dormancy, just as it affects the bears who hibernate in the winter.

This is one reason for the suicide and depression rate being higher in the North. Just think, the people who live in Florida and Southern California during the winter months get 70% more sunlight, because of the angle of the sun at this time of the year. While we are all different, and there are many reasons why we develop a certain personality, here is my message loud and clear. When you run into someone who acts like they have been weaned on a dill pickle, there may be a good reason. They may be suffering from light starvation. To me, there is never an excuse for any of us to be rude all the time but just remember, when someone is curt, short or thoughtless, pause a moment and remember what Ive said here; try to understand why a person would act this way, and you wont be upset and you may also be able to help them. Its been said that we should treat every person as though their heart were breaking because it very well could be. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)

No. 206 - YOU'VE LIFTED MY SPIRITS

No. 206

Jim Davidson...NEWSPAPER COLUMN

YOUVE LIFTED MY SPIRITS

Several years ago I remember hearing the late Earl Nightingale quote a man by the name of P.G. Hammerton and he said, A strong life is like a ship of war. It has its place in the fleet and can share in its strength and discipline, but it can also go forth alone to the solitude of the infinite sea. Back then I made a note of this quotation and after reading it again, I made a cursory review of my resources but could not learn anything about P.G. Hammerton. What he said however, makes a world of sense when it comes to the challenges we face at various times during our lives.

There is a lot to be said for the strong disciplined person who can cope with life and rise above his or her circumstances to become a great success in their chosen field of endeavor. The question that keeps coming to my mind is how does a person become a strong disciplined person? Is this a quality they are born with or does he or she become that way over time because of the challenges and trials they face along the pathway of life? To my way of thinking it has to be the latter. I know many highly successful people whose children never amounted to much, at least by the worlds standards, and Ive also known many others who have far outdistanced their parents.

When it comes to a strong disciplined life, one quality you will always find is healthy self-esteem. As a real life example of this fact, here is a story that inspired me several years ago and it inspires me all over again each time I read it. It is a true story of a young lady by the name of Elaine Zayak. Elaine hails from the state of New Jersey and she represented the United States in the 1984 Winter Olympics in the former Yugoslavia. It came to light during the course of events that she was performing almost flawlessly as an Olympic ice skater, without the benefit of three toes on one foot.

Elaine Zayak slipped and fell under a running lawn mover when she was only two and half years of age, and the whirling blade severed three of her toes on one foot. She grew up with this handicap, but the thing that struck me, as one who tries to help people see their real potential, is what t