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CJ Jelinek
Proud husband, father, web developer, triathlete (80)
Proud husband, father, web developer, triathlete (80)

CJ's posts

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Day one of Bewitched Amber Ale. Really excited to see how it turns out. Unfortunately I have to wait a month to find out.

Why we lost -- lessons learned from a 7 year old


That’s the question we in the Left have been asking ourselves and others ever since that night.

Why did we lose? Why did people actually vote for him? Why wasn’t it the biggest trounce in the history of presidential elections?

Before we can answer these why’s, we need to step back and do one thing that we’ve failed to do for ages...we need to listen.

That’s right. We failed to listen. We, the party of the people, failed to listen to what the people were saying. We applied labels to them if they didn’t adhere to our beliefs. Didn’t vote for Hillary? Feminist. Voted for Trump? Racist (homophobe, xenophobe, bigot…).

There’s always a fringe and there always will be. And we can justly apply labels to those hateful groups. But this was bigger than a fringe.

Did we stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the vast majority of this country had an opinion? Maybe if we took the time to stop and come down to their level and talk, maybe we’d hear their concerns and realize that perhaps they actually had valid fears, concerns, gripes?

Let’s step back for a moment. If you’re wondering where the lesson from a 7 year old comes into play, here it is. Yes, it’s true. No, it’s not made up.

As any parent knows, it sometimes feels like a daily battle. We constantly try to find a balance between dictatorship and democracy. And sadly, we probably all often fall on the Castro side of that line. But hey, if I say to eat your vegetables, then eat your vegetables! I don’t want to hear your reasons why you don’t want to eat them--just do it! And the battle ensues. The stakes are raised. Every night a Cold War that goes thermonuclear.

Until one night.

“Daddy, I don’t want to eat this.” Maybe I was just too exhausted to put on my battle gear. Perhaps I was just too lazy and threw up the white flag. But I decided to try something different.


One simple word. Three little letters. They barely add up to anything in Scrabble. But oh what a lesson I was about to learn.

“Daddy, this vegetable is too hard and hurts my loose teeth. It’s too painful. Can’t I eat a different vegetable that doesn’t hurt?”

Silence. Deafening silence.

All this time, all these battles, and my daughter actually had a valid reason. I failed to listen. I failed to acknowledge that a 7 year old just might have a motive other than getting out of eating her vegetables. That she was capable of formulating a truly brilliant solution. Instead, I applied a label night after night. Instead of hearing her out, I just determined that she was trying to get out of something--a scofflaw. I failed to give her the credit she deserved.

Did any of us actually have a conversation with someone outside of our beliefs? No, I mean truly outside. As in, not in the city. Not in our urban castles. Out in the other 99% of the country--rural America.

Four weeks prior to the election, I did just that. I had a lengthy conversation with a gentleman in rural Wisconsin. It wasn’t planned. I just said hello to someone in the swimming pool while on a weekend trip. In his late fifties, living with his mother, both suffering from health issues, he was in the hotel pool for exercise as prescribed by his chiropractor across the street. They were without income, but not without effort. He wasn’t homeless, but it felt like they were very close to it. He collected pop cans, and when he had enough, he sold them for gas money.

We had the most wonderful conversation I think I’ve ever had with a fellow human being.

We talked about the candidates, Bernie included. He shared his enthusiasm for renewable energy. His disgust with Donald. And his mistrust of Hillary. He went on about how his disabled neighbor was found dead on a trip collecting cans, just as he did. He shared his life with me.

And ya know what? I listened.

On the surface, most of my “liberal” friends would have immediately looked at him and cast a label on him without even taking the time to speak with him. He’s definitely a racist. Look at him. Look at where he lives. Look at what he does. He can’t possibly mean anything to our cause. So he must be against us.

But this man, my new friend, didn’t fall into any of that. He suffers just like the rest of us. He has gripes about how the people in the cities make all the rules without considering the rest of how the state lives. This man has feelings. He deserves our attention. He’s not the fringe. HE IS AMERICA.

For years--decades--we’ve been determining what’s best for everyone from up in our glass castles. Urbanites make the rules. And rural America must follow them.

This must end.

The only way forward is to get this drilled into our narrow minds. We must live among our brothers and sisters, not above them.

The next time you find yourself wondering what to do, try thinking like a 7 year old.

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Eamus Catuli!

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Never thought I'd see this. Go cubs!!!

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Wow. Zingermans has grown since I was last here.

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swim bike run
4 Photos - View album

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listening to pearl jam while working to prep me for tonight's concert at Wrigley

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Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District found extremely high levels of Dihydrogen Monoxide in recent water tests (many times higher than lead). Recent reports confirm that it's also showing up in water pipes all around the country. Please educate yourself about DHMO and take appropriate measures to protect yourself from its potentially harmful effects.
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