New Shoes, Autism Line Of Gifts And On The Road To Somewhere by Rick London

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When I was about 19, I left home to “greener pastures”….Dallas Texas; and landed at a community college in Richardson, Tx called Richland.  I enrolled for no particular reason than to be away from home and see the “big bad dangerous world”.  With Autism and Asperger’s, I hadn’t a clue why I was attending anyway.

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Though I was taking a full load, and retaining nearly nothing due to my Autism which had never been diagnosed, I also went to Dallas Fashion Merchandising College.  Though it was not an accredited school, it was great fun, and for the first time allowed me to express myself creatively. I was told by my parents and others close to me that it was a waste of time; I’d never learn how to design, and I’d do best to throw in the towel there and focus more on my studies (business) at Richland.  I tried but something kept me going to both.

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I was unable to do lesson plans (at either school) but learned as much as I could from lectures. Fortunately there were some good professors at both and I retained a bit.  35 years went by before I had an opportunity to design.  But everything had changed.  In those days, one was to graduate and take their portfolio to a well-known designer.  I was much too shy for that and my portfolio was an embarrassment.

I was older now, and there was something about electronic designing that appealed to me.  I went through three major surgeries while back in college in my late 40s and mid-50s not to mention a major heart attack I’d suffered before becoming a student. I was determined to learn something before I left this planet.

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As time went by, I learned the process of digital designing. I created gifts and clothing bearing my cartoon images, and also learned I could take old public domain images of famous people and their quotes and create designs with them, something I still enjoy doing.

In 2007, I was approached by a POD (Print On Demand) that they’d made a deal with U.S. Keds and wanted me to design some shoes using both my cartoons and public domain famous people and their quotes.  At first it was fun. Then like so many Aspies it became an obsession and I felt I had to design at least 3-5 pair a day.  It remained fun but grueling.  Lee can tell you when I get started on a project my focus is there and remains there until it is finished or stabilized.  There is almost no tearing me away from it.  But she laughs as she is the same way with hers.  As Gary Larson once said, “These little images in a way become our children”.  And he’s right.  We groom them, we help develop them, we show them how to behave in public and private.  They’re just kids.

Rick London c2011

I married my beloved wife Lee who had had a much more positive experience with academia and also family members growing up who could sew beautiful clothing.  When I shared digital design with her, I hardly had to tell her anything.  Within 3 months, she had created about 700 pairs of shoes not to mention Tshirts, mousepads, eco-friendly bags, etc.  Today she has about 30,000+, one of the most beautiful lines I have ever seen of both her nature and wildlife photography and her amazing artwork, much of it reminding me of Peter Max from the 60s but with her own flair. It’s a lot of fun and we’ve got a lot of it hanging in our place.

I guess I had about 3000 or so pairs of my “ShoesThatAmuse.com” when Keds and the POD had a falling out.  I woke up one day and every one of Lee’s and my pairs were gone. No explanation, no apology, just a short note on their blog that said, “We’ll be back with another brand that will knock your socks off (no pun intended).  It would be another 6 years before that happened.

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In a lot of ways I’m glad it did happen the way it did.  Though the brand we use now ZIPz is not as flexible in designing as Keds, the quality far outweighs them, and I like knowing that our lines is going to be something people will be able to enjoy for a long time.

I’ve received emails and mail from all over during that time of people telling me how much fun they’d had meeting people who simply asked about their shoes.   Word of mouth was my best advertising.

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After the trauma of hours/years of work on designing the Keds shoes, I changed the name of the store to RickLondonDesigns.com which encompassed all my wisdom, spiritual, motivational, political, etc quote gifts and the store does okay.

Now, I have just purchased the domain AmusingShoes.com which is what I’ve decided to name them.

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My Autism Signature Series Shoes will be part of my Signature Gift series.  10% of profits will go to non-vaccine/non-cure Autism/Asperger’s causes.  As time goes by and we see a real profit, that will be raised.  For now it is the most I can do to keep the lights on.  Bear with me, please.  Thanks.

Time will tell how they will do.  Generally, when I enjoy creating something, it sells. If it is a pain in the butt, it is as if the public knows and won’t buy it.  There’s no fooling the public.  They know if something is a labor of love, or just an item to put up to make money.  I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need to waste my time making those type items.  If it is not a labor of love, I’m simply not going to create it.  Lee feels the same way with her LeeHillerDesigns.com. I don’t blame her in the least.

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I hope you will drop by some of our shops and find items that you can’t find anywhere else. We’ve done it that way on purpose.  We’ve found ways over the years to keep prices affordable, yet make the items as rare as hen’s teeth.  People generally enjoy them.  And for those who don’t there is a 30-day 100% refund, no questions asked.  Can’t beat that.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer. He is best known for his Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts “Londons Times” which have been Google #1 ranked since 2005.  He is married to “his better half” Lee Hiller-London of Lee Hiller Designs who is a popular nature/wildlife photographer and artist as well as hiker and photo poet.  The Autism Signature Series Of Gifts is part of his collection.

Londons Times Cartoons Autism Signature Series Has Launched by Rick London

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One of my favorite things to do is create things (from nothing) that make people laugh.  Though WebMd doesn’t list laughter or humor as a medicine, folklore has, of course, called it “the best medicine” for several centuries.

And though of course technically that might not be so, it has been proven from studies at University Of Md Medical School that laughter does boost the immune system which can often ward off disease and help people tolerate pain better.autism fluffy cohen trinket box

On June 13th, 2015 at age 61, I received my diagnosis for Autism (well into the spectrum).  This was not a huge surprise.  I guess my big surprise was my wife saw it before anyone else did; or at least she had the guts (and caring nature) to tell me that might be something into which to check, so I did.  And I’m glad I did. It explained so much from my life.  It explained why I was put away in an attic while my siblings lived in the “core part of the family”.  It explained to me why I was “always in trouble”.   It explained to me why it was so difficult for me to focus on a job. It explained my life.

As I began talking to others with a late or very late diagnosis, I learned that the majority of diagnosis today happens past the age of fifty; though I was glad to hear that one candidate, Hillary Clinton plans to change that with early screening for all students.  She seems to be the only one, thus far, with the consciousness of how common it is, and how important it is to get an early diagnosis so that students can learn.  Everything I ever learned was “out on the street” and my return to college at age 47, though I had to drop due to health issues.

After the diagnosis I had to decide whether to keep it secret, or be vocal about it.   After talking with my beloved wife Lee about it for several weeks, I decided to be vocal. I am so glad I did as another new chapter in my life opened.

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I learned rather rapidly who had been my friends all along, and who just smiled real big.  So many abandoned me, which was a good thing; hurtful but good.  I didn’t need that kind of deadweight in my life. I love people a lot, but fake people can be complicated and hurtful.  I much prefer to have less friends, but quality friends, than so many who hate just because something or someone is different.  It makes life much simpler, and enforces that I enjoy my true friends that much more.  They are very decent people as is my wife Lee who stood by me through this. It would have scared a lot of people away.

One thing I taught myself about two decades ago was the cartoon business. I did so by contacting masters in the field. I am not that great an artist, but most recommended for me to recruit good artists and I write the cartoons and create the concepts, “blueprint them” and assign them to the team artists.  That was a big struggle for the first decade and now has stabilized into a very nice collaborative effort. I am proud that my Londons Times cartoons and gifts have been the #1 offbeat cartoons & gifts since 2005. I launched them from a tin shed in 1997.

I like to joke that I learned cartooning “by default”.  It’s actually not a joke, it’s true.  I was fortunate enough to have Charles Schulz as a “phone mentor” and friend, and he told me he got into cartooning “because he tried everything else and couldn’t do it very well”.  That too, was the story of my life.  I don’t think anyone wants to go into cartooning.  They do so because nothing else worked out so well.  I’m okay with that and actually enjoy the creation process quite a bit.

Finally, I have decided to open an “Autism Signature Line” of cartoons which benefits non-vaccine/non-cure Autism causes.  The cartoon themes are our regular offbeat topics; not about Autism or Aspergers or neurodiversity.  The thing that makes them different is that each images features the familiar colorful puzzle in the corner of the cartoon plus Rick London’s signature and his acknowledgement of being Autistic.

The Autism community does need support. It is one of those rare conditions that is both a disability and an ability.  The disability is that our modern society is not catered to the way our brain fires.  Our ability is that the way many of our brain fires, gives us the vision to create and do jobs that many others are not able to do.  This is known as neurodiversity.   The same is true of those without Autism, neurotypicals who can do tasks that we are unable to do.

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Most experts agree that the world needs both type of thinkers.  Autism is nothing to cure or correct.  There are traits that can be modified behavior-wise if one wishes, and I do so I participate in therapy to learn that process. It is never too late to learn.

And it is never too late to help others from ones experience, even if it had been a tragedy.  That is one of my major goals for however long God decides I should live. I will always do my best to make others feel better via laughter, and support Autism causes.  I never want a child (or adult) to go through what I did (out in the world without a diagnosis).  So many don’t make it, in fact I’m told most.  That is no longer necessary with the knowledge we have today. Over 3 million Americans have now been diagnosed and it is estimated 2-3 times that many who have not been diagnosed are also on the Autism Spectrum.  Please join me in working to solve issues in this vital arena.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, entrepreneur and cartoonist. He is best known for his offbeat cartoons and funny gifts (Londons Times Cartoons), and now has launched a line of Londons Times Autism Series Line which includes the colorful familiar Autism Puzzle plus his autograph and acknowledgment of being Autistic.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Codgers Like Me by Rick London

Had a beautiful hike early this morning with my favorite hiking buddy, my beloved wife, Lee.  It was overcast and we felt certain it might rain so we decided on one of the shorter trail.  It was rather cool which made it nice.  One problem though. We didn’t realize today must be “National Don’t Wear A Shirt Even If You’re A Bit Pudgy Like Rick Day” so we had a little trouble keeping our trail mix down.

One old shirtless codger did seem to score.  We let him pass us and pretended to view birds in the distance (which weren’t there) but he still attempted to get our, well Lee’s attention to no avail.

He found his mate up ahead about a ¼ of a mile and they traveled the rest of the trail together.  We immediately smelled the scent of deer musk and didn’t know if it was the happy new couple or a real deer which we see more often than “Shirtless Senior Dating”.

It may sound funny, but it is a bit horrifying.  I say not judgmentally as I have mirrors in my home and they scream “Wear a shirt outside Rick…You’re no longer 25).  I guess not everyone has such mirrors.  But it means someone(s) hooked up, and, all sarcasm aside, that can be a good thing.

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FYI, hiking shirtless in the warm or hot summer at any age is socially acceptable as it is not yelling, “Look at me, I’m available”.  It’s hot outside and people don’t want to be uncomfortable.  But hiking shirtless in weather like this truly compromises the immune system.

Lee and I took a few photos of the beautiful leaves changing and that was fun.  We picked up our bottled water and came home.

I promised myself I was going to write on my book, design some gifts, write a blog or two and maybe some cartoons. This time I did all of the above, with my shirt on, and that was a good thing.  Oh and I took a nap.  When I was younger I never used to take naps.

I think that is one of the wonderful things about getting older.  One can take a mid-afternoon nap with nobody asking, “Do you not feel good”?  or “Can I get something for you?”   They expect it.  After all I’m an old codger….with a shirt.  And I just hiked.  I deserved a nap.  And got it.

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Now I’m awake, laying on the carpet watching the game munching on kale chips.  If someone saw me now, they’d have a difficult time keeping their food down.  Glad Lee already ate.  🙂

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Rick London is an author, cartoonist and designer. He is best known for launching Google’s #1 offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons.  He is married to nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) of Hike Our Planet.

 

 

 

Trending At Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons by Rick London: Donald Trump, UFOs and Autism

 

I like Donald Trump…….

No, no, not personally or even philosophically or politically, but he has to be one of the most generous of all politicians for humor writers, cartoonists, late night talk show hosts etc.

And it’s not that he’s particularly any different than any other presidential candidate, because frankly he’s not.  It would be unfair for me to single him out as “something special” in politics.   Am an Independent and have voted both GOP and Democrat. My party days have been over for a long time.

It’s not just the nutty things he often says……it’s…..the hair.  Face it, I’ve seen better-groomed shucked ears of corn.

The only real difference is, he has something that also belongs to many of us who have worked awhile on the humor side of arts and letters.  That is, no filter from  brain to mouth.  He truly doesn’t say anything that all the other candidates don’t think (but have that invaluable filter so as not to say it)….

Aspies (Asperger’s Syndrome) like me often have that same (filter-free zone in the brain).  So how could we Aspies not love him (at least in that respect).

And of course being on the writing side of the cartoon biz, we almost feel guilty.  Who else so generously would write the material for free, and not pay us?

Donald, you are EVERY cartoonist/humorists Apprentice in our hearts.  And trust me, we’d never ever fire you.

We’ve been creating some “The Donald” cartoon gifts, cards and tees for the past 4 or so years.

If you’re curious,want to buy stuff or just “Windows Browse”…………

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The Moomaid: The Story Behind This Londons Times Offbeat Cartoon by Rick London

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“My mind sees in pictures”.  If you’ve followed medical science regarding autism or Asperger’s, you will hear this.  Though I don’t know the exact reason, I imagine it is because many of us have reading disorders, and had to use visuals growing up to learn. I think, read, and even write “in pictures”.

Yes I still see the words, but a visual usually manifests at about the same time.  I guess that is why I used to love those “reading modules” that came out around the mid to late 1960s at school. Each plastic card also had an attractive photograph or graphic that pretty much “told the whole story”.

For instance, when in grades 1-12 when studying, I would first ask a friend to study with me and that was extremely helpful as he/she often would have read the assignment.  It took me a week or two to read what other students often read within an hour or two.

On occasions I was unable to find an available study-friend, I would look at the graphics and/or photographs in textbooks and read the short explanation under it.  That, for me, often “told the whole story”, and to that extent, that’s what I learned.

Needless to say, I did dismally in college in my early years but after several decades of “street experience”, I returned to school and did okay (until health issues sidelined me).  But I had learned to read using a ruler etc.  I had trouble retaining a good bit of it on some days (due to autism) but on others I could focus and concentrate as well as most other students.

There was an upside to my learning disorders and that is, I learned to “put things together” as I was so often “solving puzzles” (that is, life), much of what others took for granted, by putting together pieces of various aspects of a project.

At times this would lead to what some might call “flights of fancy” and, I imagine, the elusive moomaid is no exception for most.

I do love stories (still) about mermaids and other sea creatures and of course I’ve mentioned many times my love of cows (and all animals, really) but cows to me are gentle giants that I could “hang out with” forever.

Finally, I was raised in S. Mississippi very near the Gulf Of Mexico.  The sea creatures were my friend.  I spent hours on the beach or in the tide contemplating life. I still love that beautiful place.

For those interested in seeing the moomaid on some of my licensed gifts…………

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————————————————————————————————————Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and gift designer. He is best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts, Londons Times Cartoons.

 

 

 

 

 

Crawfish Preschool The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

Crawfish 101 The Story Behind The Cartoon

Though I’ve been a vegan for 3+ years, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve had (and made) some mighty good crawfish dishes in my lifetime.  It was probably my favorite food back when I was a carnivore.  I grew up about 100 miles outside of New Orleans and my maternal grandmother was born there.  Her mother was grandmother was French so I imagine we’ve got a good bit of Cajun blood flowing around in us.

They used to say the bravest man who ever lived had to be the first person to eat a raw oyster.   I’m not so sure about that.  I remember when a friend revealed to me at about age 12 or so that the best part of crawfish was sucking the heads (the brains actually).  Though that sounds particularly gross to me now, I’m sure most of my crawfish-loving friends understand that that is truly a fact (though the tails appealed to me more than lobster).

I wrote a lot of the Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons way back in my twenties and saved them in a shoebox in case one day I might use the writing for something. I didn’t have a clue as to what, but thought maybe tv or radio.  And though I worked in both, never once was there a demand for my “little captions.

One might think the topic of crawfish would be one of those captions but alas, I didn’t realize until about 2006 that I didn’t have one crawfish cartoon in my arsenal of work, and even then it took another 5 months for the artist to get around to it.  I’m glad he did as, though it is not necessarily one of our more popular offerings (a lot of the world still doesn’t know what a crawfish looks like much less tastes like), most of my friends back home near New Orleans often ask for this particular graphic.  Happy haute’ cuisine, Hebert!

To see this cartoon image on Rick London-designed products…….click on the blue box…….

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————————————————————————————————————Rick London is a songwriter, author, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best-known for his launching of Google’s #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts. He is active in autism/Asperger’s, animal, childrens, and veterans causes.

 

Drones Are Wrong (Parody Song) To The Tune Of Stephen Bishop’s On And On by Rick London

Drones Are Wrong by Rick London c2015 (To the tune of Stephen Bishop’s On And On)

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A pilot faker and a piece of tin, a drone takes off like an old spare part,
Planes are in queue, can take down a jet like a battering ram,
Can even cause fighter pilots to scramb-le
Drones are wrong,
And destruction they bring

Litigation files,
One just hit the jet’s wing,
Drone’s owner is dumber than a benzene ring,

Drones are wrong, Drones are wrong, drones are wrong.
Should be a detainee because he’s just not alright.
His film won’t be featured at Cannes,
We need no more overflies,
He might as well fly a pie in the sky,

Drones are wrong,
Could be people dying,
They fly for miles,
And a safe landing they’re trying,
Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong.

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There’s a reason it’s a bad crime,
It can change the planes rad,

And if your drone hits,
You’re the one they will indict,
The plane is low altitude and it has to land,
Your drone is needless it ain’t nothin’ grand,
You got no friends and you don’t have no fans,
So you endanger people for your testosterone and adrenal glands,

Drones are wrong,
Is that your brain that’s frying,
My frequent flyer miles,
I don’t feel like dyin’,

Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong,
Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong,
Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong.

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Rick London is a songwriter, author, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons And Funny Gifts.  He is active with Autism/Asperger’s, animal, environmental, childrens, and veteran causes.

My Old Friend Aqualung The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons by Rick London

aqualung

I loved Jethro Tull…..and I still love them, though I’ve not heard them in quite awhile; though I did listen to “With You There To Help Me” on iTunes yesterday, just because I like to hear some of my favorite old JT songs every now and again.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who, upon first hearing of the band, though for sure that guy with the flute’s name was “Jethro Tull”.  I later found out it was/is in fact “Ian Anderson” and felt like a nut for many years….okay still do.

And I just learned today how they got the name “Jethro Tull” straight from the horse’s mouth…okay flutist’s…Anderson says, “Our agent, who had studied History at college, came up with the name Jethro Tull (an eighteenth century English agricultural pioneer who invented the seed drill). That was the band name during the week in which London’s famous Marquee Club offered us the Thursday night residency.”

What was it about Jethro Tull that was so special?  They used phenomenal engineering to enhance the music, though it was not only engineering. I noticed upon seeing them in concert several times that the music was every bit as stylish and listen-able as it was in the studio.

I also remember the novelty of when I first heard Blood, Sweat, And Tears and Chicago and their risk-taking adding brass to their repertoire.  The same is true of adding wind instruments (flute) to Jethro Tull. It was new, it was different, and the fact that they made music, a lot of music that remained classics makes me still want to listen to them.

And why this cartoon?  Well the entire song is about being good friends with an inanimate device, an aqualung (used for deep-sea diving).  I imagine it is probably symbolic for someone who provides oxygen but that’s only a guess.

In any case, I envisioned what it might be like if the two ever parted.  And this was the result.

To see (or buy) this image on over 100 items such as tees, cases, mugs, home decor, and much more…..

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist, and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.

Spam Spam Spam The Meaning Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

 

 

spam FB

 

Before my discovery of the Internet, television was one of my greatest escapes.  I even worked in that “industry” for a decade or so.  For those who have not worked in it, please take my word, it is nuttier in real life than it appears on the tube.

But occasionally, there is a moment of sanity.  A slice of solace. A bit of serenity; that is, a part of television that not only mocks the industry itself, but all authority and anything of arrogance.

That something for me, in my young adulthood, was Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  To me, John Cleese was a genius (and still is).  In his prime, during this production of his show (and subsequent films), nobody could do it better.

Even Lorne Michaels, producer of SNL gives Cleese and Monty Python credit for being “the trailblazer to the absurd. Perhaps one of Cleese’s most popular sketches (aside from dead parrots and wearing women’s clothes) was the Spam Spam Spam skit.

And though his version was decidedly about the atrocious meat called spam, this cartoon attempts to take it a step further; predicting his behavior upon receiving unwanted email.

Hope you enjoy.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer. He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons And Funny Gifts.

 

Invasion From A Very Hip Planet The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

facebook hip planet

Being a child of the 60s didn’t necessarily make me interested in popular culture.  But it turned out to be “one of my favorite hobbies”, that is, to look at each era, the 60s, the 70s, etc.

And though it appeared to us, even this many years later, those of us who were involved in “building the 60s” that is, the fun and creative side of it, the music, the art, etc. it was by far “the most hip” or at least the most original.

I say that without rose-colored glasses.  The 60s children, the hippies, the wanderer, the explorer etc. had plenty “of issues” that didn’t work, and some that were downright unhealthy.

Most of us were able to “get rid of the baggage” that didn’t work, and move in another direction.  And though I (still feel) the 80s and part of the 90s yuppie movement was also not without its flaws, it turned out to be a positive thing as, whenever a country, community, family, etc. turns out “too far left” or “too far right”, it is automatically going to be more flaws.  It swung the pendulum further right, and it continues to swing (left to right and vice versa) each decade or so.  That’s actually healthy for any country, though many don’t view it that way.

Too far (of anything) creates an unhealthy extreme, and it is virtually impossible, unless someone really examines their lives, impossible to see one’s own participation in helping steer it “too far left” or “too far right”.  The road in the center is the sanest, but often also the loneliest as there is a tendency to feel one is “abandoning their cause”. Not the case at all, however. It is a sign of maturity and healing. And yes it is the “Road Less Traveled” in real life.

So you might ask, “Who needs healing?”  Everyone does.  Anyone who has “made it” through these eras to the other side did not get through them without scars.  There was much confusion and disdain.   Babies are not born with hate or prejudice, yet we were able to pick that up along the way (yes whether on the left or right).  We learned along the way to be paranoid, to mistrust, and, as Rod Serling and later Scott Peck came to realize, scapegoat others (whether in groups, individuals etc).

One finally has to ask, “Did that ever serve me well”?  If so, “Is it still serving me well?”  My guess is probably not.   Have a great millenium and laugh a bit.  Say hello to your neighbor.   Learn to speak your mind.  Learn to draw healthy boundaries.  Learn to love.  We all deserve love.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and funny gifts.  He is involved in autistic/Asperger’s, children’s, animal, and environmental causes.