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Restored Soldier

(Originally written Nov. 6, 2010)

I just came across a letter I wrote back in November 2010 after hearing the stories of and meeting former child soldiers from northern Uganda. It’s ironic now, because I had forgotten so I posted it again. Dear Restored Soldier, After hearing your heart breaking story about life as a child soldier, I can’t help but think of what will happen in a week. Will I forget the impact your story had on me? Will the cash I tossed your way somehow make me feel better about myself, as if I actually helped you? Will I slip back into my cynical, self-centered, North American life like I always do? I wish you hadn’t come because you forced me out of the comfort of apathy. – Dave
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Screw You and Your Laughter, I’m Miserable

Dear Loud Obnoxious Pub Patrons, It’s been a hell of day. I awoke to the remnants of what looked like toddler fight club as a blood soaked pajama shirt was strewn on the floor in front of a blood spattered sink and mirror; the casualties of last night’s 4 year old midnight nosebleed. I feel as though I just suckered into another 2 months of free work on a pro-bono project that should’ve ended months ago. Now, I’m sitting in a pub eating supper by myself after leaving home more than 12 hours earlier, waiting to meet a friend. And you’re over there full of shits and giggles, pounding fists on the shuffle board table, downing jager bombs, not giving a damn about those around you. How dare you have a great time while I’m miserable. But why is it that my misery needs to bring you down? Why is that my needs are the center of the universe? Can…rather shouldn’t your laughter and boisterous antics lift me out of the shit instead of my whining and complaining drag you down? Why do I insist on remaining in this dark and defeated place instead of allowing your joy to soothe my soul? Carry on. I am probably not the only who needs what you are prescribing. – Dave
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“Move Bitch, Get Out The Way” (or Role Model Fail)

Dear White Knuckled Teenager, An audible groan escaped my lips as I pulled up behind you and noticed the big red magnet on the back of the your car. It's as if the black "L" that was plastered in the center was snickering as it stared me in the face, daring me make a move. I sat in the driver seat of my car pouting like a spoiled brat. When I finally had my chance to blow past you I couldn't hit the gas fast enough; exploding out of the merge lane and across two lanes of traffic as if I were street racing Vin Diesel. But as I sped past you time seemed to stand still. What I realized at that moment was enough for me drive even faster without looking in the rear view mirror out of sheer embarrassment. There you were, sweat glistening from your brow with white knuckles clenching the stirring wheel so hard I thought you might actually rip it off the stirring column. The whole idea of community and contributing to raising up future generations was totally lost on me in that moment. I was more focused on getting home 25 seconds quicker than I was about exemplifying what it means to be a responsible driver. Sure you're "just a kid learning how to drive". But what if tomorrow it's a kid learning how to think outside the box? Who am I to shit on their ideas? When did I lose my consciousness of those simply trying to learn and become so . . . . selfish? You're dad was right to tell you that I'm asshole.   I'm sorry.
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Errant Moral Compass vs. Field of Dreams

Dear Corn Thief, Seeing you and your partner emerge from the vast field of 6 foot corn stalks I felt as though I was actually living in the movie "Field of Dreams" (either that or "Children of the Corn"). I half expected to look to my right through my driver's side window and see a dozen or so semi-translucent baseball pro's in the middle of an epic "afterlife" battle of the diamond. Instead I saw you trudging out of the ditch with two large shopping bags full of corn. What I realized as I watched you and your clepto friend continue on your way was just how much the rest of society respects the boundaries of personal property. It would be easy to take a few ears of corn or snag some apples from a nearby orchard without consequence. But in large part, whether people realize it or not, they are guided by a moral compass that respects others. Your compass may be off a few degrees but I'm glad you're not the norm.
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Grace vs Illicit First World Expectations

Dear First World Consumer, It hit me like a ton of bricks today as I watched you glare at the cracked screen of your Blackberry while trying to navigate your social media streams: When did perfection become the standard? In our hyper competitive first world continent, it seems as though there is no room for flaw. We need the newest, the best, the fastest and if it's flawed, we deserve it to be replaced for free (even if it was our own damn fault that it got dropped and broke in the first place). Is this the reality in which we live? Are we, as humans, flawless? So why is it that we expect every product or service we use to be something we are not? We expect something from others that we can not in fact deliver ourselves. The sad part is that when we're disappointed, we take it out on the things (and worse, others) we illicitly expected to be perfect in the first place. Where's the grace in that?    -Dave
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Hey Jesus, FETCH!

Dear Dog Walker,  I'm pumped that you named your dog Jesus (Hay-zeus). I will admit though, it seems odd to hear someone commanding that Jesus do certain things and respond a certain way. However, I can't the feeling of deja vu.  -Dave
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Don’t Let Assholes Determine Your Worth

Dear Down Trodden Cashier, Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things is stressful and scary. Quite honestly, you looked like a deer in headlights that could only say two word: "I'm sorry." You looked frazzled and completely out of your element which showed in your lack of confidence and overly apologetic manner. Pushy customers wanting you to bend the rules because of their own selfishness and ignorance didn't help the situation at all. I know you were just filling while someone was away, but what if you hadn't been? What if this had been your first week in a brand new job that you really wanted to get good at? Too often we forget that we have a role to play in the success of those around us. Too often we push to get our way without considering what our selfishness may be doing to the confidence of those who are serving. We all make mistakes. It's how we learn. Yet our current cutlure doesn't accept any level of failure as an option. We don't care that it's your first day. You'd better be perfect. Don't ever apologize for learning. Don't ever give up because some asshole thinks he is better than you.  -Dave
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Reality of My Longings (Validation = Bullshit)

Dear Incompetent Validator, You are frustratingly impossible to deal with. Your incoherent silence is maddening. You anger me. I find myself looking for you every few minutes but you never show up. You are totally unreliable. Yet I depend on you. I need you. Why don't you come when I beckon? Why don't you listen when I call? There have been many before you who are almost long forgotten. But you already know that don't you. That's why you never show. You already know that once you entertain my vices, you will quickly be stepped over as I move on in search of the next source of validation. That's why you'll never come: because deep down inside I know you won't be good enough.  -Dave
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Bringing the world together…only every four years?

Dear Ecstatic Spaniard, It was awesome to see you celebrating your World Cup win. Seeing how that event seemed to bring your whole nation together was inspiring; hopeful even. why is sthere so much time between events where we root for a common goal? Maybe if we set aside our selfish agendas more often we'd find things to fight for together; things beyond sports.