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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fringeville #122, September 21 2014

Churchill knew this. It is a bit of wisdom we need to put in practice in this country at all levels of government before it is too late.

Winston Churchill also suffered from bouts of depression, and they may have been a major factor in how he led Britain through the dark and dangerous years of World War II, when many were ready to write off his island nation to the Nazis.

He called these fits of depression his "Black Dog."  And yet, as debilitating as depression can be, he managed to rise above it at a time when lesser men would have thrown in the towel.

These days, I think a lot about Winston's Black Dog. I haven't had to wrestle much with this beast for a long time, but this year is different. Every time I think I've got the little sumbitch penned up, he breaks free and snaps at my heals.

I wish I could cattle-prod the little peckerwood. I'll have to settle for the palliative effects of wings and java.

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Frickin' Ficken. I love this guy.

For a while on Saturday, it looked like another day where the unsung hero for Penn State was going to be Sam Ficken. Penn State is 4-0, but Ficken's foot is why the Lion's weren't 1-2 heading into the game Saturday with Massachusetts. When Christian Hackenberg got off to an agonizingly ssslllooowww start, reliable #97 (or, as I like to call  him, Frickin' Ficken) put a pair of field goals on the board to get the Lions some points that salvaged two drives.

This time out, however, the Lions finally got their running game going. (Truth is, I thought it started to improve in the second half of the Rutgers game). Frickin' Ficken was pretty busy the rest of the day, but this time he was sending thundering kicks through the end zone on kickoffs and kicking a mess of extra points.

But I love this kid. He's a great story. After a very shaky start at Penn State, he has become Mr. Reliable.

Nah...I don't like the sound of that.

Frickin' Ficken. That's the ticket.

* * *

...another day, another shooting in Wilkes-Barre

There was a shooting this past week in Wilkes-Barre. Not exactly earth shaking news these days. This time out, a 23-year old man died of multiple gunshot wounds. According to the Times Leader, the victim was facing drug charges filed by police in Hanover Township.

There were the usual and predictable comments posted at local news sites. Honestly, I've gotten to where I almost never read the comments anymore. You can just cut and paste them from story to story and probably never notice the difference.

As I have so many times, I digested the story and put it down as another case of the drug-related violence that has turned parts of Wilkes-Barre into a combat zone. A place where gunshots are just part of the normal background noise once darkness falls. I figured it was simply one less member of our local criminal element out of the picture. One who would not have the opportunity to shoot someone else one day.

But a funny thing happened along the way to my quick rush to judgement: I read a Facebook post by someone I respect who knew the person who was shot. Someone who was absolutely heartbroken. Someone who had worked to salvage this person's life.

At that point, I realized this was not a story about yet another faceless gangster/drug dealer/thug the world was better off without. There is a bigger picture here: we are losing far too many of our young people to drugs and the violence that often comes with it.

It is easy to frown at the newspaper and dismiss a homicide victim as one less drug dealer. It's a helluva lot harder to look in the mirror and admit to ourselves that as a society we have failed.

Which takes us back to Churchill. And courage. Are we strong enough to admit we have failed? And are we courageous enough to do anything about it?

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