Standing For Truth (A Corporate Manifesto)

The original article has been posted on our website and instagram pages.

 

We at TankSpek have sat quietly, through 2020, as we’ve watched violent mobs burning our once great nation. We’ve kept our heads down and gone to work while people have gathered in large groups intent on burning our great cities and enacting violence on those who would offer even peaceful, opposing perspectives. Now the ostensible justification for these unlawful and violent acts has thus far been demonstrated through a meme-level understanding of the history of the United States, along with an apparent conflation between the morally-sound conclusion that the well-being of others matters, and the adolescent supposition that the feelings of others matter.

We’ve watched as people of apparent character have sought to appease angry mobs by claiming to listen and learn. Ethical people who are educated have passively adopted a narrative which masquerades as a manifesto of unity and peace. Only this manifesto, brilliantly cloaked in unity, has effectuated anything but what it falsely claims to pursue. While delivering a powerful movement of hatred which impels families and neighbors to spread violence, along with both relational and physical destruction on one another, the mob has convinced the casual American that this destructive force is rooted in something agreeable; congenial; something safe that once acknowledged, would effectuate a much needed turn toward peace, unity, and a utopian tolerance between all races. If you believe that this pursuit of a cultural utopia is new, or that it is without a definition and a curriculum, then your history books may need a revisit.

Now, it is with these sentiments at the forefront of our minds that we implore you as people of reason to stand on your moral principles in your outcry for justice and morality.

Over the last weeks we’ve watched as proclaiming Christians have stood in solidarity with a movement named #BLM which openly states, among other things:

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

In other words, “we stand in opposition to the Biblically prescribed family unit.”

We’ve watched as individuals and corporations have ostensibly pleaded for peace and unity by standing in solidarity with this group which openly chants “What do we want? Dead Cops!!! When do we want them? Now!!!”

Now is not the time for pacificators to bow down and accept the narratives, catchy titles, or public statements of a group of terrorists (comprised of all races) who have positioned themselves against our morals, against our families, and specifically against our institutions of Christian religion.

TankSpekCorp stands for peace and racial unity in our great nation, while remaining open to a dialogue which explores the necessity to reform not only our police, but even our entire justice system. It may be noted that for too long, our American justice system has created a “system” for our nations’ poor. This system ensnares many of our nation’s poor into a pattern and even a lifestyle of obligation to our judges, prosecutors, jailers, and probation officers, often with only a public defender between these individual’s future and a lifetime of being controlled by a hopeless “system”.

Believe as we may that a reformation is necessary, as a company, and as individuals, we refuse to adopt a rallying cry – however beautifully named – from a group that outspokenly stands in opposition to our country, our families, and our God.

We are challenging you, our fellow Americans, to not adopt a narrative as a reaction against the perceptible stupidity of the alternative. May we encourage you to pursue a narrative which aligns with your own morals, and your own religious doctrine? Stand for truth, not something which postures itself as such. If unity is our goal, then we must protect all groups which we are seeking to unify.

A Letter to Taylor

I’ve just recently read Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. 

My take was, perhaps, unusual considering that the underlying theme of this classic story didn’t emerge, for me, as one of a young man ultimately destroyed by his quest for vengeance. You see, what stood out to me in this story was something of the perils of covetousness and jealousy; the concealed potential for human savagery behind even the most [seemingly] benign gossip; the mercurial nature of human relationship; and the dangers of a spiteful tongue. For me, it was the story of a monster that can grow from a spec of contempt.

That’s just my take; you’ll have yours. 

In many Christian circles, pride is considered to be the most potentially insidious sin, yet Solomon wrote, “ Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” Thus, and seemingly in agreement with Solomon, I would offer the sin of jealously as the most insidious sin, transcending even the stinging sin of pride. You see, Jealousy seldom stands alone, and is almost always accompanied by resentment, gossip, and hatred without cause. The definition of jealousy may be paraphrased as a person who views himself vicariously through someone else’s position in life. Rather than focusing on one’s self and one’s own ambitions, he chooses to focus on the life and ambitions of another. He begins to explain away the accomplishments of his subject as some sort of cheating or foolery. Finally, he begins to spread word to not be deceived by his subject’s ostensible good nature, and that what may appear to be success may be better explained as a hoax.

In The Count of Monte Cristo, a young boy named Edmond Cortez was blessed by his God and his superiors well beyond what others may have assessed to be his “dues”. Thus, jealousy and hatred without cause developed in the minds of a few onlookers, and through a few spiteful words, a malicious plot was conceived, developed, perfected, and implemented. Indeed, a plot which would ultimately englobe everyone close to Edmond, including those who hadn’t wished to involve themselves. What ensued would become one of the most notorious stories of human hatred, jealousy, covetousness, and yes… vengeance ever penned.  

David prayed the following prayer to a group that he said hated him without cause:

Let the angel of the Lord pursue them

For without cause they have hidden their net for me in a pit

Which they have dug without cause for my life

Let a destruction come upon him unexpectedly

And let his net that he has hidden catch himself

Into that very destruction let him fall 

(Psalm 35:5-8)

You may note that this prayer wasn’t said against an encroaching enemy, or a far-off resistance force; this prayer was offered against individuals who were previously considered friends and neighbors. 

Read on and see:

(Speaking of those against whom he prays)

They reward me evil for good

To the sorrow of my soul

But as for me, when they were sick,

My clothing was a sackcloth;

I humbled myself with fasting;

And my prayer would return to my own heart

I paced about as though he were my friend or brother;

I bowed down heavily as one who mourns for his mother.

But in my adversity they rejoiced

And gathered together 

Attackers gathered against me

And I did not know it;

They tore at me and did not cease;

With ungodly mockers at feasts 

They gnashed at me with their teeth

(Psalm 35:12-16)

Throughout each life – indeed, even the most passive and inwardly trodden lives – antagonists will emerge. These antagonists boast that they are your enemy, and they’ll assume that you have time for such trivialities. You haven’t the time, thus you should pay such people no attention. In reality, these antagonists aren’t your true enemies, as they have assumed. Never allow others, especially your antagonists, to establish who your enemies are nor where your focus lies. Narrow your focus on your own successes, so you may help those around you as needed. Remain wary of all but the closest one or two people in your life, and play your hand very closely to your vest; run the race purposefully, for life is indeed a race; although, not won on the merit of speed as much as pace and persistence. Never pause to help others who refuse to join in the race; nevertheless, help as many runners as you can as your life briefly touches theirs in passing.
Keep a strong and steady pace. If you must, then pray the prayer of David over your antagonists, and do so quietly. Avoid speaking of these people with others unless there is a specific resolution that is being sought. Label your own enemies, and avoid permitting others, about whom you might otherwise think very little, to label themselves, thus potentially elevating themselves in your life. 

In football, it’s often said that a team mustn’t allow the referees to decide the final outcome with a few bad calls. Build your life so solidly that your antagonists can not destroy you with a few slanderous words. Walk as upright as you can, let no one set your pace for you, hold your goals close, and pray daily.

I believe that while following Christ’s example you may very well offend some people along the way. Not that you set out to offend, but it may simply happen by default. I’ve heard it said by many Christians that we should “Go against the grain”, and certainly such a mindset is mere foolishness. Perhaps for some the adjunct has become the objective, if not the very center of their pursuit of faith. We are called to a course, and if the collateral damage of that course is a chaffing against the status quo, then we apologize no more than would a train which stirs up the dust while pursuing its destination. Christianity is an exclusive belief system, and it is that exclusivity that will occasionally offend.

 

~ Nathan Gray

 

The Elusive Great Life

Lately, I’ve been marveling – I suppose even lamenting – over the assumption by many folks that “the good life” is something you must wait for, or perhaps something that comes with qualifications. Such thoughts seem to often coincide with the belief that a great life is something that simply or eventually happens by some twist of events. I would suggest that a great life is something that one builds for himself; something that one puts together in pieces, much like building a wall. And the greatness of that life, again much like the greatness of a wall, is the result of the time and effort one takes to build it. Think about that for a moment, and imagine how many folks trek meander skulk through the years, waiting for a great life to build itself for them. Perhaps they imagine that a brilliant business idea will strike, or great wealth will befall them; perhaps they imagine a beautiful spouse may appear, or their boss will offer a lucrative promotion.

 

And years pass by. Literally, years. This gives me pause.

 

Let’s assume, for the moment, that you’re penniless. Or may we at least assume that the great life hasn’t struck for you? You may have even tried to build the life, but you’ve paused to wait for proper supplies and building materials to arrive. Maybe you’re still waiting for supplies, or maybe you’ve realized that those supplies aren’t coming.

I would ask you to stop at this moment, and look around. What do you see around you? What have you done with the few supplies you do have? Have you built anything yet? For you, will the promotion be the usher for the great life or merely a supplement. 

Do any of you know a builder? You know, somebody who builds houses or something similar. I do, and I’ve noticed something about builders. If you give a builder a weekend, some nails, a hammer, and a pile of lumber, then come back on Monday, and I assure you he will have built… I don’t know, a tree house, or box, or a shelf, or something! He’ll not say that he didn’t want to build anything because he couldn’t build EVERYthing. He’ll see what he could build – what he COULD build – with just what’s in the pile. Then he goes to work, and he builds.

I want to assure you that if you think it’s appropriate to waste years of your life planning for what you’ll do when life begins, then there is no great life coming for you. You see, success has nothing to do with position or wealth; nothing to do with cars or houses; nothing to do with watches or jewelry. Success is about taking whatever you have – anything you have – and building something amazing with it. There’s a fellow I know who is one of the greatest photographers I’ve personally met. This fellow tours all around the US and Europe just taking spectacular pictures of many things. Would you believe that I recently discovered that this fellow with this incredible life earns his living by power washing houses? And he doesn’t work for himself; he’s an hourly employee. The photographer didn’t wait for his promotion, and I would urge you to consider his lead; reflect on his vervacious (like verve, don’t judge me) attitude about building his life without delay; without supplies; without wasting a little time, then years, then a life that could’ve been great if it had only been built. I made up that word “vervacious”, but I’ll let you use it. Maybe put that word on your mirror tonight, and live that word tomorrow. Build your life. Build it broke, single, in debt, in a mud pit, in a tough job, but build it vervaciously.

Subjective Cool

 

Author’s Note: Due to formatting and gallery layouts, this post cannot properly be viewed or appreciated on a mobile device.

 

It is my belief that there is no such thing.

No such thing as subjective cool. You see, the word – cool – cannot be placed in quotations; it has no evolution; lexicographers cannot redefine it; Cool may be misused and abused, it may be misunderstood and misapplied; Cool may be poorly replicated and conspicuously counterfeited; Nevertheless…  Cool remains unchanged. It remains unchanged because it remains objective. Bieber, Brittany and Boy bands notwithstanding.

Elvis Presley’s high school classmates have told stories of his younger years. Stories that suggest that he always had a somewhat detached swagger about him. They said he dressed eccentrically, not because anyone else was doing it; not because television commercials had defined his ideal image, but because of something that flowed through him. Elvis had tapped into something inexplicable, something beyond an ad campaign. There was a new culture on the horizon, and Elvis, McQueen, Sinatra, Brando, and a handful of others were destined to introduce it to the masses.

 

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Now, in recent years the masses have become dissatisfied with the casual coincidence of cool. We’ve become dissatisfied with the esoteric occurrence of the sensational. In todays world, we’ve taken the mystical element out of cool, labeled it, and marketed it to the public. In a sense, we’ve placed cool in an attractive box, separated it into categories, and sold an entire generation on a concept of “cool off the rack”… with free gift wrapping.

Many of you are familiar with the famous Givenchy fashion brand. Hubert D Givenchy rose to fame in the fifties and sixties, when he designed several custom dresses for Audrey Hepburn. One such dress was the radiant ball gown that Miss Hepburn wore in “Sabrina”.

Then, of course, there was the iconic, little, black dress pictured below from the set of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. I’m sure you’re familiar with this one.

 

little-black-dress_85795

 

 

This dress was an epic win for the designer, and please understand that Givenchy was not reinventing cool when he designed it; Instead, he was playing by the rules. Givenchy had gathered some of the subtle ingredients of cool, and his designs were a mirror of the elements that he understood of cool. In a sense, Givenchy attached himself to cool – like branches to a vine – and allowed it to flow through him.

Today, like so many designer  brands, Givenchy (the brand) has allowed their success go to their head. Because they’ve experienced tremendous acclaim due to their founder’s harmony with cool, they now recklessly suggest that cool is a pliable element; it can be molded and updated annually  and seasonally to increase profits. To them, cool is as clear as mud, and the desperate public takes them at their word. Thus, feeling that need to experience cool, the public emulates the confusion.  The result is a staggering trend-torrent upon which one year, colored denim is outrageous, and the next it’s all the rage; one season, women’s jeans must come to their belly buttons, and the next season those are called mom jeans along with anything that doesn’t show a little butt crack.

The gallery below is comprised mostly of images from the Givenchy 2011 mens fashion line. There are a couple of photos from Ralph Lauren’s current purple label included. Tell me, in these pictures, do you not see a gentle molding of the definition of cool?

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Seasons Greetings and a Merry, Joyful Day

Do have a happy season gathered round your “happy trees”

We’ve changed up all our wording to put Scrooge and Grinch at ease

Wish all your loved ones merry times while carving up the bird

But never mention Jesus’ name because that’s quite absurd

Joyous Season

Hol-i-day

Or happy time of hope

Just don’t say merry Christmas please, unless you are the Pope

Feel free to buy your children all the presents they desire

Help teach them ’tis the season for getting all they can acquire

Decorate with mistletoe, and turn on “season songs”

But leave the manger in the box, wrapped up where it belongs

You may bake fruit cakes but be mindful, don’t become fruit cakes yourselves

And never speak of Christ The Lord, but of Santa and his elves

You see, we’ve gone and changed our tune from God to Wal-Mart splurgin’s

To be mindful of the Muslims and their bombings and their virgins

No self respecting Christian who believes in God’s good Son

Should go wishing Christmas cheer on folks, thus spoiling all the fun

The story goes that Marry birthed a child as pure as snow

But if we keep it to ourselves then nobody will know

That child grew up to pay a price, that’s how it all began

When kings knelt down and angels sang and God became a man

Some Thoughts on Relationships

 I have never really had much of a reason to sit and think long on this subject, but it has come up so many times in recent conversations that I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that I should write about it. I’ll just begin, and give it my best.

 When I turned twenty, I fell in love with Stephanie. Three years later, I married her. For those of you who haven’t met Steph, she is quite beautiful. Her beauty is, in fact, something so refined, so rare, so… beyond words that I’m at a loss for words to describe it. Sometimes, when she and I are out with friends, I enjoy observing men as they attempt to speak to her, watching in amusement as they stumble about. This will certainly appear to be an embellishment, but I can assure you it is not. On at least three occasions, while the two of us have dined out, men and women alike have gotten up from their tables, and approached Steph just to tell her that she was, well… beautiful. Now, please don’t jump to conclusions about where all of this is leading. You see, Steph’s beauty is not the focus of this essay, but only a point which must be established for clarity’s sake.

 People have said to me that I must be the luckiest man in the world to have the love and commitment of a woman who is so attractive. But I disagree. You see, Steph has never realized how beautiful she is. At times, I’ve even heard her complain that she must be the ugliest girl she has ever seen. Thus, if I were to base my appreciation for her only on her physical qualities, then she could quite possibly feel that my appreciation was either based on nothing, or that it was at best a feeling that would fade with time.

 I met Steph through a friendship that I had developed with her brother, Craig. The first time I saw her, I had dropped by her brother’s house for a visit. How could I ever forget? She was lying on the couch reading a book. I still can remember, as I made my way through the room, simply being overwhelmed by her. I can think of nothing else to say in effort to better describe my thoughts at that moment of first seeing her. And, she was simply beautiful.

 Steph and I only spoke briefly that day, as I quickly ran out of things to say due to my nervousness. It would be months before we spoke again. Those months passed quickly however, and one day as I was talking to Craig, I asked him why he had not mentioned before that he had a sister. He replied, “Oh Steph? Yes, she has had a crush on you for so long now. I think maybe years! My heart ascended into my lower mouth, dropped back down, bounced twice, and landed sideways wrapped tightly around three ribs. But I played it cool. To make the story short, I ended up calling her, asking her nervously to go out with me, she did, and now we live in a little house and have two small children named Alek and Taylor. Alek looks like me with Steph’s dimples, Taylor looks like me in most regards.

 The first time I saw Steph has now been seven years ago. At the time, it was tremendously important to me that I made a way to once again see this beautiful girl who had changed me with just one smile; albeit, the thing that intrigues me the most – the thing that has served as the inspiration behind this essay – is the mystical element of her; the girl behind the pretty face whom has captured my affections and held my heart all these years. You see, it has not been her beauty that has served as the relational glue in our marriage. However much I do still enjoy looking at her, I have noticed that sometimes, when she sits up in bed first thing in the morning, she reminds me ever so much of Claire from LOST in the final season (stress the final season). The first time I observed this phenomenon, I screamed a little inside. But my point is that, rather than her looks, it is the person of her that has held my heart and my desires. Even though those blue eyes may have caught my attention initially, I have since realized that no matter what may happen to fade her beauty, I will still love her the same as I do now, which is more every day. I did not commit myself on the day of our marriage to her body or her radiant smile; I committed myself to the girl. Thus, no matter what happens to her physical attributes, as long as the girl is there, so is my commitment. C. S. Lewis penned these words: “The idea that being in love is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or a promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; the curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love.” Lewis also wrote, “A promise must be about things I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.” Finally, Lewis wrote, “Being in love is a good thing but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied upon to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go.â€Â (Cited source: C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. From book three titled Christian Behavior: ch 6, Christian Marriage)

Of Greater And Lesser Things

 

I was reading Lewis today. He made a good point. I know, hard to imagine. Unfortunately, I lied. I was not reading Lewis today. Or actually I was; Only, this was not the occasion which I intended to reference. Because the occasion on which I was reading Lewis and discovered the present talking point was now days ago, I cannot find the quote, or even the book for that matter from which the point was derived. So, I’ll have to wing it. Lewis said something like this, “Hey guys, don’t try to be a big man and order fools around. For the big man, is actually the little man when he… doesn’t act foolishly.” Wait a minute. let me find the book.

Don’t you hate it when your cap rusts in place? I know I do. I couldn’t find the book, but I do feel better because I just made another USPS customer service rep hate her job. That being said, I shall try to perpetrate (glaring wrong word, but I’m gonna let it happen) the paraphrase with a more decisive air of accuracy this go around. You know, few have ever felt that Lewis left his thoughts open to loose interpretation. I’m not going to put this in quotations because this is going to be so far off base that to even hint of its accuracy with quotations would be bad… bad. Lewis said, each occasion on which he who is in authority must exercise his authority by giving commands becomes by default an occasion on which the authoritarian must belittle himself. Just the same, the one in his service is given the opportunity to exalt himself through servitude under the commander’s authority. Servitude exalts a man, but giving orders is belittling even to the most respected leader. Therefor, the leader must be sparing with his commands and abundant in servitude ~ I’ll place one of these little swirly things to end the misquote.

This goes against my ego. And every man’s for that matter. I remember once, when a guy other than myself hadn’t fully grasped the point of Lewis’ words. He was a tenuous sort of fellow; One that you certainly wouldn’t like, yet neither would you dislike him. If you would have considered him at all, you may have only considered him to be an odd bump on the earth wherever he stood, perhaps here first, then over there. A bump in the landscaping, and one which you would conclude that a talented landscapist should fix, if only he had nothing else to do. You know landscapist isn’t a word. The proper word is landscaper. Like a common layman. I believe that there are ists and there are ers. There are painters and there are paintists, readers and readists. To call a landscapist a landscaper is like calling an artist an arter or a typist a typer. Okay, I just made that up. Landscapist is a word. And rightfully so, you see, an ist, as opposed to an er, belongs only to the specially initiated in ones field. And it would have required a landscapist to have removed this skulking bump from its post. This fellow was one of those sorts who is somber enough so that you begin to expect that he’ll not speak much, if at all for that matter. On one particular occasion, he did speak however, and the words which he spoke must have required some significant growth in his nether regions in order for them to have  manifested thus surreptitiously on his tongue. The little squat waited quietly for an opportunity when I was at my weakest socially. I was having fun, and we men know that the reason why we tend to only open up and really have fun around those whom we trust the most is because when we are enjoying ourselves through jestful merrymaking, we are at our weakest in the pecking order. We cannot, after all, pretend to be dominant amongst our species when we have just sat drunkenly on a whoopee cushion. Please don’t confuse my example for an actual event. Not only do I not play around with whoopee cushions, but in fact, I loath them. The occasion of present discussion was just one of those moments when a quiet man whom had never really felt  in control of the elements that surrounded him, saw an opportunity to seize the day. The details of the story are not irrelevant but I believe them to be unnecessary, so I’ll stick with the basic layout. I was laughing without a self-conscious thought. Just enjoying myself, when suddenly I heard the words, “Hey! Come over here and pick these up!” Stephanie, my wife, was standing close by, and immediately burst out laughing at theabsurdity of this weasel jumping on a perceived opportunity to dominate his fellow man. I decided to oblige him, relinquish my pride, and submit to his command. Later that evening Stephanie, pointed out that the young man had obviously belittled himself by attempting to prove his masculinity, and that I had looked like the better, more at ease with himself man by giving in to him. What an important lesson. One which I have sat on a bump and thought of many times since.

Nathan Gray