The Way I See It

Here you will find a collection of my columns which originally appeared in The Berkeley Independent ( I write about family, cutlure, politics, society and gernerally anything else that I find amsuing.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Make room this Christmas

The Way I See It
By Doug Dickerson

Make room this Christmas

"And she will bring forth a Son, and you will call his name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins."

- Matthew 1:21

Make room this Christmas

The boy was born into a large family back in 1934. Back in that day, with five other siblings, the family was certainly not considered wealthy by today's standards, but was certainly rich in love; standards by which we'd do well to emulate today.

The child's father was a minister whose calling took the family to many places in which to live, attend school, raise the family, and worship.

One such parsonage the family moved into presented a special challenge to the family. In this home, the children (five boys and one girl) were never allowed to go into the living room except for one day each year - Christmas day. The rest of the year, the door was locked closed.

I am not sure why the children were never allowed to go into this room. Likely, it was the rule of the mother of the house to keep her six children from wreaking havoc, or it was the rule of the parsonage committee who recognized the possibilities the six children presented. Either way, they were only allowed in the room one day a year.

The story of my father growing up is one that reminds me of the way we live our lives at times. We close the door to many possibilities around us and we don't allow ourselves to experience the love, joy and happiness of life that is lived all around us.

As we count down the remaining days until Christmas, days filled with shopping, musicals, parties and so much more, let's not forget to make room for what's really important. Let's open the door of our heart to the true meaning of Christmas and what really matters.

Christmas for me is bitter sweet this year. It's the first Christmas without my father who passed away back in August. My memories of my father will live on with me for the rest of my life and I know on Christmas day he will be watching over us and sharing the moment in a most spectacular way.

I would like to share a poem with you that's meant much to me this Christmas season and has helped me with his loss. I don't know who wrote the poem but I hope you enjoy it, especially if you are missing a loved one this year.

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,

with tiny lights, like heaven's starts, reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear, for I

am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,

but the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,

for it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me. I know the pain inside your heart, but I

am not far away, we really are not apart. So be happy for me dear ones, you know

I hold you dear, and be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I send you each a special gift from my Heavenly home above. I send d you each a memory of my undying love. After all "love" is the gift more precious than pure gold.

It was always so important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do, for I can't count the blessings or love He has for you.

So, have a Merry Christmas and wipe away the tears. Remember, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Doug can be reached at or call him at 843-761-6397

Friday, November 09, 2007

Honoring our veterans

The Way I See It
By Doug Dickerson

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

-Winston Churchill

Honoring our Veterans

Next week we commemorate Veterans Day and pay honor to all the men and women in uniform who served our country at home and abroad and we especially honor our fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price in protecting our freedom.

The first military funeral I attended was that of my uncle out in Texas many years ago. Jimmy served in the Korean War, and at his graveside service, Taps was played. I can still remember the emotion that swept over me and the sense of pride I felt that his life and service wasn't forgotten.

Sadly, today, some who oppose the current war we are engaged in are demonizing many of our military heroes. One so-called "church" even goes so far as to show up and protest at the funeral services of our fallen heroes, further adding to the heartache and grief inflicted on the families.

Regardless of your position or feelings about the war on terror we are engaged in today, the freedom you have to support it or protest it, come at the hands of the military that preserve your right to speak your mind.

Our veterans have safeguarded our freedoms and preserved our way of life for generations. Freedom is fragile and we must never forget that. "Freedom," said Ronald Reagan, "is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Our freedoms have always come, and have been sustained, with a cost. From our founding fathers down to our grandfathers, we've always understood that the price of freedom never comes without sacrifice; sacrifice is one of the bedrocks of our country and our veterans understand that.

Many Veterans Day celebrations will take place around the Lowcountry in the coming days to honor our veterans. I encourage you to attend one if you are able and be sure to thank a veteran for the freedom you enjoy today. We must not forget the sacrifices made by our brave veterans nor what is at stake. "When the past no longer illuminates the future," said de Tocqueville, "the spirit walks in darkness." We must not walk in darkness but always we remember that our veterans carry our freedoms on their backs.

I would like to leave you with a poem that I came across not too long ago and share it with you in closing.

Cindy Sheehan asked President Bush, "Why did my son have to die in Iraq?" Another mother asked President Kennedy, "Why did my son have to die in Vietnam?" Another mother asked President Truman, "Why did my son have to die in Korea?" Another mother asked President F.D. Roosevelt, "Why did my son have to die at Iwo Jima?" Another mother asked President W. Wilson, "Why did my son have to die on the battlefield of France?" Yet another mother asked President Lincoln, "Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg?" Yet another mother asked President G. Washington, "Why did my son have to die near Valley Forge?" Then long, long ago, a mother asked, "Heavenly Father, why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem?" The answers to all these are similar -- "that others may have life and dwell in peace, happiness and freedom."

Doug can be reached at or call him at 843-761-6397

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Way I See It - In case you missed it

In case you missed it
By Doug Dickerson

What's done to children, they will do to society

- Karl Menninger

In case you missed it... last week, the Portland, Maine School Committee approved a plan that allows the health center of King Middle School to provide birth control pills and patches to sixth grade students. Yes, I said sixth grade! The services that are provided do not require parental notification, in fact, parental notification is outlawed. From what I have read, under Maine state law, once a parent has signed a waiver allowing a child to be treated at a school clinic in case of sickness or injury, specific treatment is "confidential." Students then decide for themselves whether to tell their parents about the services they receive....little by little, your parental rights are being taken away from you.

In case you missed it... last week, the Associated Press reported the findings of 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic. The seven-month investigation found 2,570 educators whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct. Young people were the victims in at least 1,801 of the cases, and more than eighty percent of them were students. At least half the educators who were punished by their states were also convicted of crimes related to their misconduct... you had better pay attention to who is teaching your child.

In case you missed it...last week, a teaching assistant at Stall High School was arrested, charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly having sexual relations with a 16-year old student. The teacher will not face charges in connection with any sexual encounter because in South Carolina the age of consent is 16...our laws should punish predators, not protect them.

In case you missed it...we are in the midst of a culture war in our society. A battle is under way for the hearts and minds of our children and we must remain vigilant. I would simply remind us that our classrooms are not social experiment labs as is the case in Maine. Why would a school district distribute birth control products to sixth graders without parental consent and think that they have the best interest of the child at heart when what they do deliberately subverts the authority of the parent?

Is there anyone besides me who thinks that our laws are broken when a teaching assistant in a local school will not be charged in connection with a sexual encounter because our law says that 16 is the age of consent? When laws facilitate criminal activity; especially with our children, instead of punishing it, something is desperately wrong.

The overwhelming majority of the teachers and workers in our schools are good, gifted, hard-working, caring individuals. The dedication I see in them is an inspiration. Each week I have the privilege of being in one of our local public schools somewhere in the county. It's one of the highlights of the week when I go and see first hand the wonderful job they are doing. I come away from the visits inspired and encouraged by the faithful dedication of the many wonderful teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and support staff who daily commit themselves to the education of our children. Berkeley County is blessed to have these devoted, caring educators in our schools.

Someone once said that the philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next. It's time as parents to be proactive and know what is happening in the lives of our most cherished possession, our children, and that the sacred trust is not violated. I just thought you might like to know these things, just in case you missed it.

Doug can be reached at or you can call him at 843-761-6397.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Way I See It

The lighter side of grief
By Doug Dickerson

I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up.

-Tom Lehrer

My mother recently shared a humorous story with me that occurred in the aftermath of my father's death. I share this not to be disrespectful of my father, whom I loved dearly, but because my dad would appreciate the humor of what happened.

Dad had a great sense of humor, a natural way of putting others at ease, and always enjoyed a good laugh. I loved dad dearly, and miss him terribly, and I suppose sharing my thoughts with you is cheaper than therapy.

Mom called the local department of motor vehicle office back home to ask what she needed to do about changing the name on the title of her car. An attendant answered and the conversation began. "My husband died and I need to know what to do about changing the names on the title. I need to take his name off the title," she explained.

Of all the requests that come into any DMV office, this request seemed simple and uncomplicated. "You will need to bring him in and have him sign the paper to transfer the title into your name," said the woman on the other end of the phone. Obviously, she did not grasp the impossibility of the request and certainly underestimated with whom she was dealing.

Not missing a beat, mom kept her composure and began again. "Let's begin this conversation over because evidently you did not hear me, my husband died...," she explained once again. The second time was the charm and what should have been simple the first time became clear.

A few years back mom was entangled with another scenario when a doctor's office from a town 100 miles away called to explain how they had received Medicare payments on her behalf for eye services she had not received. The doctor's office knew that she hadn't been there, mom knew it too. Yet the good folks at Medicare insisted she had. Back to the phone my mom went. Mom made futile attempts to convince the folks at Medicare that everyone but they knew that she'd never been a patient at this doctor's office. Medicare insisted she had been. "Ma'am, we are the United States government and we do not make mistakes," said the voice on the other end of the phone. Eventually mom convinced the United States Government otherwise. The government's record of not making a mistake was broken with her. If only they had gone to that eye doctor, they would have seen that one coming.

Knowing what we want to communicate and successfully doing it, at times, are two different things. One of the things I learned from my dad was that more words are not necessarily better, and it's not always what you say but how you say it that matters.

Dad not only learned the secret to a happy and contented life, he also shared it. His words were a reflection of his heart and his heart was full of love, kindness, laughter, and faith.

I could imagine dad listening in on mom's conversation with the woman at the department of motor vehicles and thinking how funny it was.

Not a day goes by that I don't see or hear something funny and not think, "Dad would love this," or when I am stressed out over something, knowing I could talk it over with him and come away knowing that everything was going to be fine. That was just his way.

The next time I am in line at the DMV, I'll be thinking of him, I'm sure he will be smiling!

Doug can be reached at


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Way I See It

The most influential people

A leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, "Wrong jungle!"

-Stephen Covey

USA Today, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, is publishing 25 lists over 25 weeks. I looked at its list of the 25 most influential people of the last 25 years the other day. Good or bad, who would you say were the 25 most influential people of the last 25 years?

As I write this from my computer at home, on a Microsoft word document, I suppose it's only fitting that the number one choice of USA Today was Bill Gates. His software has shaped the way millions of us use technology and the way our daily lives work. Twenty-five years ago the thought of using a personal computer was a far-fetched novelty for most of us. Now, the thought of not using a computer on a daily basis for most of us, is far-fetched.

The number two choice was our 40th president, Ronald Reagan. Reagan restored confidence in the presidency and set forth policies that ended the Cold War. The Gipper inspired our nation and restored patriotism. In uncertain times, Reagan led with confidence and strength.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Oprah Winfrey, Francis Collins and J. Craig Venter (4 & 5), who mapped out the human genome, Osama bin Laden, Stephen Hawking, Lance Armstrong, Pope John Paul II and Bono. Other notables included on the list are President George W. Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sam Walton, Michael Jordan, J. K. Rowling and Homer Simpson.

Some of the above-mentioned names may have been on your list of the most influential people of the past 25 years. Other names, perhaps not. The influence these leaders have made in our lives, directly or otherwise, has shaped our lives in some way or another. Take Osama bin Laden for example, his influence, as evil as it is, has affected our lives. This week marks the sixth anniversary of 9/11 and our thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost a loved one or friend on that tragic day.

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell writes about the law of influence in one of his chapters. Maxwell says, "Titles don't have much value when it comes to leading. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that can't be mandated. It must be earned. The only thing a title can buy you is a little time - either to increase your level of influence with others or erase it." It reminds me of something former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said: "Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

A list like the one USA Today put forth is purely subjective I suppose. While we may benefit or suffer, as the case may be, from the influence that some leaders wield over us, for the most part, our lives are far removed from theirs.

I've thought about my own list. I've thought about the persons that now, or have in the past, made lasting impressions in my life. I've thought about teachers who cared and went the extra mile to help me out. I've thought about coaches as I was playing sports who taught me discipline. I've thought about friends and family, who've been there in the good times and bad.

I think now to the influence of my father, who passed away Aug. 27. Dad was a kind, caring, loving husband and father. Dad touched countless lives in so many wonderful ways. His influence will be with me for the rest of my life. As we said goodbye on my last visit with him back in July, I hugged and kissed him goodbye and told him how much I loved him. Never a conversation ended without those words.

Influence is measured in many ways I suppose, but those who touch your heart for the good, are the ones that make all the difference in the world.

Doug can be reached at

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Way I See It - Failing, falling heroes

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.

-Heyward Broun

Falling, failing stars

From my earliest recollections playing little league baseball, sportsmanship was considered a top priority. The old saying goes, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game." Somewhere along the way, we failed to emphasize the importance of character off the field once the game was over.

As a sports enthusiast, I've been deeply troubled by events making headlines in recent weeks. Unfortunately, many sport superstars, who serve as role models for millions of America's youth, are behaving badly and are hardly worthy of admiration.

Chris Benoit, a wrestling superstar with the WWE, killed his wife and son and then hanged himself. Speculation immediately circulated that steroids may have been a contributing factor. The worst fear of most proved true when toxicology results came back affirming that not only had Benoit used steroids, his body contained 59 times the normal amount.

If that were not bad enough, enter Michael Vick. Vick, the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, is charged with competitive dog fighting. This brutal and barbaric torture of dogs is a serious offense, and certainly, Vick's future is questionable.

On the brink of breaking Hank Aaron's record for the most homeruns in baseball, Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants plays the game with a grand jury that is going to sit for six more months while it investigates whether he took steroids. The New York Daily News reported recently that there is already enough evidence to indict him as early as September. When confronted with the grand jury news, Bonds, in role model fashion said, "You guys just want more stories about me. It's unreal."

Florida Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen was recently pulled over and arrested for DUI, resisting an officer with violence, and eluding a police officer. The Marlins released a statement saying they would "let the legal process run its course," adding, "As an organization, we take this very seriously and are extremely disappointed." How nice.

The FBI is investigating allegations that NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games over the past two seasons, including games he officiated. The charges, if true, deal a serious blow to the integrity of the game.

The persons involved in the examples I cite are all presumed innocent until proven guilty, and all deserve their day in court to defend themselves. While the drama of these cases unfolds on a daily and weekly basis, we struggle with lingering questions.

In sports, the integrity of the game is the sum of the integrity of the player, the coaches, the owners and sponsors. While a league like the NFL can condemn a player like Michael Vick, and the Marlins can be "very disappointed" over the arrest of Scott Olsen, at what point do we, the fans, remove the adoring, role model glasses, and take a look at the reality of what's going on?

Do we really want our sons and daughters emulating drunks, gamblers, drug abusers and murderers, regardless of the passive "let the legal process run its course" defense given us? I don't think so.

Celebrity status, fame, and million dollar contracts can carry a person only so far. If there are no foundational principles to fall back on, we will continue to see more troubling stories like the ones mentioned here.

I think back to those little league days when it really was just about the game. Whether we won or lost, we were just happy to play. Parents didn't get into fights, our heroes were known for what they did on the field, and if we dared act ugly, we sat on the bench.

The modern era of sports is a complex, intertwined conglomerate of players, agents, owners, corporate sponsors and much more. Unfortunately, values and character are sacrificed at the altar of the bottom line. That's why owners "negotiate" what to do with a Michael Vick, because he is the franchise, the ticket draw, their financial security blanket. Do you think there would have been negotiations 30, 40, 50 years ago?

Ultimately, the individual must take personal responsibility for their actions. We, the fan, ought to raise the bar a notch or two when selecting an athlete to idolize.

We would all be better off if we placed character and principle above stardom and wealth.

Doug can be reached at


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Way I See It - If I should die before...I do anything!

The Way I See It
by Doug Dickerson

If I should die before anything!

According to a new study released in the July issue of the Harvard Heart Letter, I should be dead. In fact, most of you reading this should be, too. According to the study, anger really can stir up a heart attack, so can getting sick, being too hot, being too cold, air pollution, lack of sleep, grief, overeating, natural disasters, exercise and sex. In fact, the study says that just waking up in the morning is the worst thing you can do if you're trying to avoid a heart attack.

Sharing the house with the wife and two daughters, the thermostat war is a constant battle. I am a hot box. In the winter, they bury themselves in covers and I am throwing them off. In the summer, I like to keep it cool and they sit around the house with blankets. Back and forth we go, on the verge of the next heart attack.

I know I shouldn't let studies like this bother me, but it just really gets under my skin. Just about the time it seems we have things figured out from the experts telling us what we need to do to stay healthy, they change everything up.

Before waking up in the morning, the study says, our bodies release stress hormones into the bloodstream. I thought that's what my wife was for, but I digress. Our bodies release stress hormones that give us energy to get out of bed, but this also stresses the heart slightly. That nudge can cause a cardiac event if one's arteries already are rife with festering cholesterol-rich plaque. If I can survive waking up and getting out of bed, then I have a fighting chance.

I learned that dehydration that normally occurs after a night's sleep also puts a plaque-plagued circulatory system at risk. In addition, heart medications wear off during the night. Now what's one to do? If I get up in the night to get a drink, I am not sleeping, thus increasing my risk of a heart attack. If I don't and consequently dehydrate, then that could kill me too.

I gather that mornings are a high-risk time to either have or avoid a heart attack. Getting up in the morning is a roll of the dice. Nevertheless, wanting to do something to stay healthy, surely exercise is the key.

Well, not so fast. The study says that strenuous exercise such as shoveling snow or running can be a trigger, but exertion is much less likely to cause trouble in people who exercise regularly. With mid 90-degree temperatures outside with heat indexes well over 100 degrees, I don't think I will be shoveling snow any time soon. Strenuous exercise in this heat is out of the question. Therefore, if I do exercise, it could trigger a heart attack, and if I don't then, tick- tock, the big one could happen at any moment.

Living in the Lowcountry, we face the threat of a natural disaster in the form of a hurricane from June 1 to the end of November. When a big thunderstorm develops out near the Lesser Antilles, the T.V. stations hype it up and have everyone running out to Home Depot faster than you can say nitroglycerin tablet! If the hurricane doesn't give me a heart attack, the weatherman will.

If a hurricane were not enough, the friendly folks on TV also remind us that a big killer earthquake, which wiped out Charleston and a good chunk of Summerville back in Aug. 1886, could happen again. Sure enough, I saw a spot on local TV recently asking what if we had the big earthquake today.

Well, I am not going to have a heart attack sitting around waiting for the sky to fall.

I am determined that if a heart attack is going to take me out, it will not be because of a hurricane, earthquake, exercise, being too hot or cold or for a lack of sleep. I am going to have it peacefully, and if not, I am really going to be angry!

Doug can be reached at