When my daughter Christina got to law school in Philadelphia, she wanted a kitten. She got one from a friend’s parents in upper Pennsylvania, who already had 17 rather inbred cats. She named it Chairman Meow and true to its name it was dominant, vocal, demanding and was a voracious eater. Christina often commented that it’s full button appeared to be broken. When she returned for her first visit back to California, she took her kitty to a cat boarding facility in Philly. Upon announcing its name, they calmly informed her that her animal was the 11th such feline they had boarded with the name Chairman Meow. She was crestfallen.

Chairman2

I think everyone who names a pet tries to go for something unique and descriptive. Secretly many are hoping their pet will be the next Grumpy Cat. Many are looking for that one name that will help their pet capture the imagination of the masses, cat-apult their cat to stardom and maybe even lead to some form of monetization. Thus the rise of the evil dictator cat names, the Chairman Meows, the Kitlers, the Pussalinis, the Catsros and even the Meowseph Stalins. It has been noted that dogs have masters but that cats have servants. So before you decide to name your cat after an evil dictator, try and decide whether you want to be your cat’s servant or possibly its slave.

Kitler

When it comes to our present election season, it seems there are a lot of cats vying for power. How about Hillary Kitten, Gato Rubio or Purrney Sanders? When it comes to Trump, what seems to work is “Clump” but I wouldn’t want to litter your mind with any bathroom humor. People may point out that someone with a feline disposition already has a huge influence in the White House…could that be Meowchelle Obama? You Cat to be Kitten Meow as we say in our house!!!!

Truth is one of the human race’s first tasks in the Garden of Eden was naming the animals. It seems like Adam had no problem coming up with appropriate names. I mean elephant, cheetah and hippopotamus all seem to fit. I think since eating from that tree, our skills seem to have deteriorated. A Google search of cat names yielded such choices as Catastrofee, Jaspurr and MeowColm X. When it comes to going celebrity in our cat naming one can only begin to cringe. How about Catrick Swayze, Brad Kitt, Fuzz Lightyear and Leonardo Dicatprio.

Bottom line is we need cats that are appropriately named and that we can live with for four, eight or 14 years to come. One tip that may help you in making a good choice and enable you to be more like Adam in the Garden is just to name what you see. Christina bought Chairman Meow home and dumped her (in a weak parental moment) with her unsuspecting parents. She then went back for a second year in law school and found another inbred Pennsylvania kitten. This time she just named what she saw and got Patchy.

Patchy2

Patchy or Patch Patch, as we call her, has the most pitiful meow and is skinny as a rake. She has none of the dictatorial tendencies of Chairman. A look at the top 100 most popular cat names on cuteness.com reveals that this “name what you see” strategy may truly work. In those top 100 you get names like Oreo, Mittens, Ginger, Boots, Snickers, Rusty and Socks. So the moral of the story is to be careful how you name your next kitten or leader. You may just get what you choose.

Travel Madness

November 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

airline

I’m writing this blog at 32,000 feet flying back to California. I’m reflecting on the crazy “flying experience” us travelers have to endure. It starts with checking in our luggage. I heard of one guy going up to the counter with his check-in luggage. He said to the lady at the counter “I would like you to send this to New York then down to Florida then across to Texas and end it up in Atlanta.” Startled the lady responded. “Sorry sir, we don’t do that.” “Well,” responded the traveler “you did it last week. I don’t know why you can’t do it again.”

The stories we have of lost, delayed and broken luggage would make an excellent novel. It seemed like things would improve when they introduced sophisticated tracking technology. A few months ago my daughter headed to Tampa, Florida for a much needed vacation after taking the California Bar Exam to practice in the state. All her toiletries, make-up and clothing were in the hold and, upon arrival, she was told her bag was in another city. She was given a special tracking code to now track the arrival and delivery of the bag. Well her and I now began the exciting “where is Waldo’s bag” search by following the lost luggage on the computer.

We were very happy to discover that the bag had arrived in Tampa early that following morning and that Cedric was the assigned delivery driver leaving Tampa in a blue Nissan at 8:30am with the missing bag on board. We eagerly tracked the little blinking dot on the GPS map for two hours only to see Cedric’s car return back to Tampa’s airport. It was now almost noon and my daughter’s hosts were begging to start heading to the beach. With no beach clothes or swimsuit, my daughter remained miserable at the beach house dutifully trusting the technology and trying to reach every luggage agent she could get through to. Suddenly Elaine was the new driver in a silver PT Cruiser and the dot on the screen started blinking again but just seemed to be going nowhere. By 4pm the driver changed again to Nora in a black Corolla.

By this stage all my daughter’s three years of law school knowledge, combined with fiery frustration, was being systematically meted out on every airline and luggage agent that dared to physically answer a phone up and down the East Coast. Nora’s dot now seemed to travel in a tortuously slow path through every single neighborhood in Tampa. When it finally arrived after 10pm that night at the beach house, we discovered that Cedric’s car was having engine trouble and returned to base, Elaine bit off more than she could chew and could not fit all the luggage assigned to her into her vehicle. Of course my daughter’s bag was a casualty and got left behind and had to be reassigned. Finally Nora decided to deliver her bag last. Had she arrived at the beach house a few minutes later, she would have missed delivering it by the 11pm curfew and would have had to take it back to Tampa airport to start the process again the following day. What we discovered was that the technology had not really helped improve the service but simply prolonged the agony and exposed the absolute incompetency of both the airline and the luggage delivery system.

Well back to my flight. I’m gazing up through a thinly veiled curtain at the “comfortable” people eating their warm nuts in first class. No matter how many miles I fly I never seem to make that elite group. Over to my right is a large lady with a young baby. They are both sleeping now, completely trapping in the other two people in the row. Most airline seats are not designed for large people never mind a baby, a huge diaper bag, handbag, blanket and snacks.

Travel3

Even if one of those trapped was desperate to use the restroom, I doubt if any of them would risk damaging the sleeping status quo. The scenario reminds me of the following airline story which I will close with:

A little guy gets on a plane and sits next to the window.
A few minutes later, a big, heavy, strong mean-looking, hulking guy plops
down in the seat next to him and immediately falls asleep.
The little guy starts to feel a little airsick, but he’s afraid to wake
the big guy up to ask if he can go to the bathroom. He knows he can’t
climb over him, and so the little guy is sitting there, looking at the big
guy, trying to decide what to do.
Suddenly, the plane hits an air pocket and an uncontrollable wave of
nausea passes through the little guy. He can’t hold it in any longer and
he pukes all over the big guy’s chest.

About five minutes later the big guy wakes up, looks down, and sees the
vomit all over him.

“So,” says the little guy, “are you feeling better now?”

In the past I had heard the story of a blonde going into an appliance store sale and finding a bargain.

“I would like to buy this TV,” she told the salesman.
“Sorry, we don’t sell to blondes,” he replied.
She hurried home and dyed her hair, then came back and again told the salesman, “I would like to buy this TV.”
“Sorry, we don’t sell to blondes,” he replied.
“Darn, he recognized me,” she thought.

She went for a complete disguise this time; haircut and new color, new outfit, big sunglasses, then waited a few days before she again approached the salesman. “I would like to buy this TV.”

“Sorry, we don’t sell to blondes,” he replied.
Frustrated, she exclaimed, “How do you know I’m a blonde?”
“Because that’s a microwave,” he replied.

Well it does highlight that certain people in the population do have a difficult time with technology. When someone I know well this past week posted this, I could do nothing but laugh.

She titled it: “What it is like being technologically challenged”

Me (walking into the IT Room): “Hi, I need to use your scanner” (points at machine)
IT Guy: “That is not a scanner. I’ll show you where they are”
*5 minutes later*
Me (walking into the IT Room): “I tried to scan, but I think it didn’t work”
IT Guy: “You need a lesson on how to use the scanner?”
Me: “Yes please…”
*5 minutes later*
Me (walking into the IT Room): “I think I caused a paper jam”
IT Guy: “While scanning?!?”

What makes the second story even funnier is that it recently actually happened and similar stories happen across the nation in offices every day. I think there should be a blog where IT people in the workplace share technology tales. How many times has someone told me something does not work when all that was required was to plug in a device?

There is no question that certain technologies seem designed to reveal generational ignorance and sometimes, just ignorance itself. It does seem that certain people are wired for technology and others just are not. Just today I heard a lady tell a store clerk she does not own a computer. She just refuses to get into the game. Others find learning far too intimidating and their brains just can’t handle it. It is like direction, some people have a good sense of it and others don’t have a clue. My greatest advice to those who struggle with technology is to make yourself friends with a 12-yr old because you will need their help and all of that age group seem to get it.

In the first Meow blog, we dealt with monetizing Meow and I promised in a future blog to deal with Chairman Meow’s voracious appetite. My daughter Christina got Chairman Meow from a rather inbred region of Pennsylvania and she came with two main distinctives, one, she is continually vocal and two, as Christina puts it, her full button appears to be broken.

Chairman Meow2photo(41)

Chairman also does not know how to function in the background. She wants everything NOW. If she sits on you, she wants to sit on your chest and make sure you can do nothing else except pet her. Texting is completely out of the question. When Christina brought her home, miraculously she was the correct weight, I think through a starvation diet of a law school student who was seldom home. Somehow we were entrusted with the task of keeping her at the correct weight and so the anti porky warning photos started coming. She said these were a cautionary tail if we didn’t curtail her voracious eating habits.

Porky2Porky

Of course Christina continued to send photos of other animals, always with the question: “Can we have one?” Of course who doesn’t want a few sheep or a llama or a giraffe, or a few of them, in their back yard?

photo(43)Giraffe2

Chairman unfortunately has continued to put on weight but we try and conceal it with photos taken at strategic angles like the lightbulb pose or the silhouette pose. The lighting or angle either helps disguise the porkiness or simply disappear the fat. Whichever way, they help her look just a little less porky.

photo 3Silhouette

I found this photo for Christina and suggested the porkiness may not be so great if we gave her a bath like this cat. Somehow I don’t think we would have the same result.

photo 5Fighting

So now we are to blame for making Chairman porky. Christina is presently working on a way to monetize Meow’s porkiness. You see our other cat Mokona, who is the dark black one, used to be overweight. Since Meow invaded the house, she eats all her own food plus half of Mokona’s. Chairman also chases Mokona around the house and we often find them having a cat scrap like in the photo. What if we offered our home to overweight cats. Chairman would make sure their intake was halved and she would give them so much exercise, they would be slim and trim in no time. Kind of like a Jenny Craig for cats. We will see how that turns out. More about Meow soon to come.

Monetizing Meow?

April 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

I told my daughter Christina (25) today that I am starting to add postings about cats and pets to my blog. She is about to graduate from a prestigious East Coast top-100 law school and is single-handedly responsible for making cats, and every other kind of pet, a dominant part of my life. I told her writing about cats was the one topic I would hardly have to think about because cat content literally flies at me from her every day. She repeatedly tells me she has NO intention of joining a law firm after graduation. According to her, all of her 8 years of post secondary training are leading her to help the San Diego Zoo implement procedures to reduce issues of liability. Translation, she wants a job with them that allows her to pet all their animals without having to clean up the poop.

The other alternative that frequently gets floated to help pay back vast amounts of student loans is that we find Grumpy Cat number 2, an ugly feline specimen that so captivates the minds of the public that major retailers are willing to name products such as Starbuck’s new Grumpachinos after it and pay royalties for the use of its unhappy image. Inevitably Grumpy cat became the vehicle through which Christina began to express her feelings concerning the Superbowl and the winter from hell the East Coast recently experienced. All I know is that Christina was literally begging me for some “Global Warming.”
Superbowl both loseSnow Grumpy
Now Christina took steps in the direction of finding a monetizable cat early in her law degree. She secured an adorable kitten from a friend and named it Chairman Meow. She was very proud of the name until she wanted to visit home for a week and took Chairman to a local cat kennel. She was quite disgruntled to discover that her cat was the 10th “Chairman Meow” they had housed. Of course it wasn’t long before Chairman had made her way from the East Coast to our home in California and joined the long list of pets deposited with her parents for “safe keeping.” Here is Chairman Meow, no longer a kitten but definitely a daily part of my life. As far as the monetizing part, it’s not going too well. She arrived with a very large appetite (subject of a future blog) and is presently costing me a fortune. The one side benefit has been that our other previously porky cat has gotten thinner because Chairman eats both her food and most of the other cat’s food also.
Chairman Meow2
Well probably two times a day I get a text from Christina with a photo of some adorable pet followed by the inevitable question “can we have one?” Here is one recent photo of her with alpacas:
Alpacas2
Well as you can tell, we are just getting warmed up. More cat and pet postings will soon follow. This is one blog topic that promises to never run out of content. I’m not quite sure what the redeeming message is but maybe it’s that you don’t always get what you originally planned but hopefully you get a lot of laughs and humor along the way.

A farmer named Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside except for a pet dog he had for a long time.
The dog finally died and Muldoon went to the parish priest, saying “Father, the dog is dead. Could you possibly be saying a Mass for the poor creature?”
Father Patrick told the farmer “No, we can’t have services for an animal in the church, but I’ll tell you what, there’s a new denomination down the road apiece, and no telling what they believe in, but maybe they’ll do something for the animal.”
Muldoon said “I’ll go right now. By the way, do you think $50,000 is enough to donate for the service?”
Father Patrick replied “Why didn’t you tell me the dog was Catholic.”

St. Patrick – Although many enjoy parades and drinking on St. Pats Day, very few know his real story. My own family name came from St. Fillan, an Irish priest who went from Ireland in the 7th Century to bring Christianity to Scotland. A year ago I took my wife and daughters to Strathfillan in Scotland to investigate some of the family roots. I found this historical sign out in country field and had my wife snap a photo. It looks like some of those early Irish were a lot more spiritual than people give them credit for.
Fillan Irish Missionary

The text read – Fillan was a traveller on foot…He came to the area to spread the teachings of a Christian way of life to the Scots and to the Picts…The ruin in front of you is the remains of a priory built in recognition of Fillan’s teachings, which following his death lead him to be made a saint. St. Fillan cared for the area and it’s people. We should do the same.

I took excerpts from http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick to give a quick overview of St. Patrick’s life.

St. Patrick, apostle of Ireland, was born in England around 385AD. Surprisingly, St. Patrick himself was not raised with a strong emphasis on religion. Education was not particularly stressed during his childhood either. When St. Patrick was 16 years old, he was captured by Irish pirates. They brought him to Ireland where he was sold into slavery in Dalriada. There, his job was to tend sheep. Saint Patrick’s master, Milchu, was a high priest of Druidism, a Pagan sect that ruled religious influence over Ireland at the time.

St. Patrick came to view his enslavement as God’s test of his faith. During his six years of captivity, he became deeply devoted to Christianity through constant prayer. In a vision, he saw the children of Pagan Ireland reaching out their hands to him. With this, he grew increasingly determined to free the Irish from Druidism by converting them to Christianity.

Missionary Work
The idea of escaping enslavement came to St. Patrick in a dream in 408AD. In the dream, a voice promised him he would find his way home to England. Eager to see the dream materialize, St. Patrick convinced some sailors to let him board their ship. After three days of sailing, he and the crew abandoned the ship in France and wandered, lost, for 28 days—covering 200 miles of territory in the process. At last, St. Patrick was reunited with his family in England.

Now a free man, St. Patrick went to Auxerre, France where he studied and entered the priesthood under the guidance of the missionary St. Germain. As time passed, St. Patrick never lost sight of his vision: he was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity. C. 431, Pope St. Celestine I consecrated St. Patrick Bishop of the Irish, and sent him to Ireland to spread “The Good News,” or Christian Gospel, to the Pagans there.

Upon his arrival in Ireland, St. Patrick was initially met with hostile resistance. But St. Patrick quickly managed to spread Christian teachings far and wide. Through preaching, writing and performing countless baptisms, he convinced Pagan Druids that they were worshiping idols under a belief system that kept them enslaved. By accepting Christianity, he told them, they would be elevated to “the people of the Lord and the sons of God.” Throughout his missionary work, St. Patrick continued to promote the conversion of Ireland to Christianity by electing Church officials, creating councils, founding monasteries and organizing Ireland into dioceses. St. Patrick died around 461AD in Saul, Ireland. He is said to have been buried in Ulster, County Down, Ireland.

Best quote – “If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples, even though some of them still look down on me.”

This Facebook posting tonight just begged to be put into a blog. It jogs my early memories as a child growing up in South Africa. Those radio commercials were always so confusing (we didn’t get TV until 1976). Well things aren’t much different here in California a generation later and a continent removed as one Dad posted the following:

“I’m watching TV with my boys and a commercial comes on. I was really not paying attention to what the commercial is all about until one said “dad what’s a reptile dysfunction?” Well at this point I became very much aware of what the commercial is about THEN the even bigger question was asked. “How does one catch it? and if you get it do you turn into a reptile?” I am very proud of my answer to this very awkward question. I said, “Son, you have nothing to be concerned about because kids your age don’t turn into reptiles.” AWKWARD!!!”

Talk about confusing, I don’t think many adults appreciate how befuddling some of our commercial messaging can be. I even have a hard time following the logic. Just regarding the commercial being referenced here, can someone explain how a product promoting intimacy and a cure for reptile dysfunction has two people in separate bath tubs holding hands watching a sunset outside? It seems like this product would only really work if they ended up in the same bath tub and hopefully one larger and more private than those narrow single bathtubs out in a field? I digress. I’m just trying to point out that if these ads are confusing to even us adults, just imagine what they are to kids.

I mean look at those pharmaceutical commercials showing some tablet that’s supposed to help you to sleep or that has some other supposed benefit. As you watch it, they often show smiling people playing in slow motion with their children or grandchildren. All this fun stuff is happening while the announcer rattles off all the horrific side effects, often including “death” or how about that lady with the elephant on her chest? Think how a kid would interpret that image.

My childhood in South Africa was filled with such confusions, chief of which was how Santa’s sleigh was somehow going to make it to our home in 104 degree heat as we singed on the other side of the earth in mid summer. One year when the gifts came late we were told it was because Santa’s sleigh had derailed on those rocks far in the distance. No wonder Rudolf’s nose was red, what with all that blazing African sun and all that rock crashing! But back to those confusing radio commercials. Ours in South Africa were for things like Black Cat Peanut Butter, two items that had nothing to do with each other or for the underarm deodorant MUM for Men!!! That commercial always ended with the question “hasn’t your Mum always looked after you?” Well of course she has but what has that got to do with stuff under your arms?

I close by inviting my readers to give what your answer might have been if your boy asked you “what’s reptile dysfunction and how does one catch it?” Remember you only have 8 seconds to think before giving an answer and please no snake references!!! Also what was your most confusing commercial as a child?…Have fun sharing your insights and memories!!!

Wealthy Man’s Son
I used this illustration in a recent message. I am not sure where I originally found it but it is a wonderful story. The message I gave can be watched at http://vimeo.com/81843889

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.”

The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.

“Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel.

“We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?”

There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted. “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.”

But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?”

Another voice shouted angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!”

But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.”

Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?”

“Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.”

“$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!”

A man sitting on the second row shouted. “Now let’s get on with the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.”

“What about the paintings?”

“I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets every thing!”

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?” Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

Just this past weekend I was contemplating how confusing it must be for foreigners to grasp the nuances of the English language. We have certain rules but sometimes the exceptions to the rule comprise a longer list than the rule itself. Take a word like “bear,” which can mean a large fuzzy animal, a verb (to grin and bear it) or pronounced the same it can mean a cupboard is empty or a naked person. There are literally thousands of such confusions in the English language. I also lived for three years in Germany and understand a little of the precise manner in which the Germans view everything. When they follow a rule, they really actually follow it. It was therefore hilarious to me to read the following attempt by the Europeans to fix the problems in the English language in order to make it, instead of German, usable on the continent – enjoy:

Euro-English Instead of German

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as Euro-English (Euro for short). In the first year, ‘s’ will be used instead of the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard ‘c’ will be replaced with ‘k.’ Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced by ‘f’. This will make words like ‘fotograf’ 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent ‘e’s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ by ‘z’ and ‘W’ by ‘V’. During ze fifz year, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’, and similar changes vud of kors; be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil b no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru.

What follows is the introduction to “Pursuing Maturity” – I am looking to post different chapters as they get completed. I guarantee this book will be vibrant with illustrations. I start with one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela.

Pursuing Maturity Introduction

The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine

I grew up in South Africa and Nelson Mandela has been one of my heroes for many years. I personally feel a sense of gratitude to him for saving the land of my birth from becoming another Rwanda.

My formative years were spent under the heavy hand of apartheid. The ruling National Party was a brutal regime that allowed very little criticism and put down dissent with an austere and often vicious hand. They built up an impressive military, which I avoided serving in by exercising my US citizenship at the age of 18 and leaving the country. I was not willing to fight for the apartheid system and, in my mind that meant not making South Africa my future home. Many of my friends ended up in townships shooting at rioting crowds and some gave their lives fighting on South Africa’s borders with other nations.

Many of us knew the penalties of speaking up against the ruling government. The laws were carefully crafted to create an unfair advantage to the privileged white population and to control and oppress the black majority. We knew of the savage murder of Steve Biko in prison and of the terrible price other dissidents faced who tried to oppose or speak against the laws or governing systems. We also knew that South Africa had strengthened itself to withstand any outside invasion. It had developed nuclear weapons and even a strong air and naval force in addition to its massive army. It’s internal police were brutal and it seemed from inside and out to be an impenetrable regime.

So when Nelson Mandela, without the firing of a single shot, was able to bring down the apartheid government, it shook the world. From a prison cell, Mandela negotiated the conditions for a new South Africa. He transitioned from a prison to a palace and took over the leadership of a nation. There was nobody else with his stature who could have accomplished what he did and he did it because he had come to a place of “maturity”.

This book is about the benefits and rewards of pursuing a mature life. Mature people do great things for society. They also achieve a high degree of personal fulfillment. The target audience of this book is Christians and so I will draw a good bit of inspiration from the Bible. One of the greatest criticisms I hear about people of faith is that they are unbalanced and often unstable. Many believers also are not good at articulating their faith in a way that makes sense to the rest of society. Hopefully this book will inspire Christians to pursue a place of balance and wisdom, a place, like Mandela, of “maturity”.