Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A TRIBUTE TO MY FRIEND: William L Armstong

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist




On Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, a very dear friend of mine died. On Friday, July 15th, we gathered to honor him, we shared stories about him, and we thanked God for his extraordinary life. How could one man have accomplished so much in such a short period of time?

Bill Armstrong was president of Armstrong Broadcasting Company and later Ambassador Media Corporation. He bought KOSI-AM radio station when he was 22 years old and soon stretched it to include FM coverage as well. He owned and operated the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper and three ABC television stations in Idaho and Wyoming. He owned and operated more than a dozen private companies and served as director of six public companies, including the chairman position of the Denver-based Oppenheimer Funds.

He served in the Colorado House of Representatives (1963-1964), The Colorado Senate (1965-1972), U.S. House of Representatives (1973-1978), and U.S. Senate (1979-1990). Upon leaving the Senate, he returned to Colorado and once again became involved in the business world. In 2006 Senator Armstrong became the president of Colorado Christian University. He claimed that his work at the University was “the most significant, energizing, and rewarding work I have ever undertaken.”

As I sat in the large crowd at Senator Armstrong’s funeral, contemplating the impact of this great man’s influence on our contemporary world, I quickly realized that had it not been for this one man it is very likely that there would never have been an international humanitarian organization called Project C.U.R.E.

I had serendipitously been seated at the same table with Senator Bill Armstrong and his wife, Ellen, at one of the first presidential prayer breakfasts of the Ronald Reagan administration in Washington D.C. He was warm and engaging and interested in what I was doing. I explained a bit about my work as an international economic consultant in Africa and South America. At his invitation, I returned to Washington and met with him at his office. I chatted with him about my ideas regarding debt for equity swaps in the lesser developed countries in South America. I asked Senator Armstrong if he could assist me in getting introduced to the political leadership of the country of Brazil, as I thought I could be of help to them. He graciously agreed to help me.

I had previously been introduced to some very powerful people in Sao Paulo who had considerable influence in the capital, Brasilia. In addition to those names my portfolio now included letters of introduction and recommendation from Senators Armstrong and McCain. The Brazilian government now officially invited me to come to Brasilia. Senator Armstrong had contacted our U.S. Ambassador, Shlackman, U.S. Consul on Economic Affairs, Michael J. Delaney, and U.S. Economic Minister to Brazil, John Bowen. Mr. Bowen would formally introduce me to Brazil’s Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Eventually, I was introduced to Brazil’s President, Jose Sarney, and one of his chief economists, Antonio Basilar.

That is how I got involved in Brazil. It was in Brazil that I eventually became sensitized to the incredible need for medical supplies and pieces of medical equipment in the lesser developed countries of the world. I was eventually able to organize Project C.U.R.E. to help in fulfilling that need in over 130 other hurting countries. Senator Bill Armstrong played a pivotal and irreplaceable part in that protocol and sequence of events.

On Thursday, April 7th of this year, I had a meeting with Bill Armstrong in his CCU office. I took along with me a copy of one of the letters he had written on my behalf in Brazil. He could hardly believe that I had kept the letter for nearly thirty years. At that meeting I was delivering an advance copy of my newest book Better Off that he had agreed to review for me. Little did I know that meeting would be the last formal meeting I would have with him.

On Saturday, April 16th, I received a call from Senator Armstrong. He was so excited and enthusiastic. He had just finished reading the book. He was so encouraging and said he was sending a personal endorsement email to me within the next few minutes. Tears came to my eyes as I thanked God for William L. Armstrong. His immense love for God and his compelling desire to help other people had not diminished during his times of pain and cancer, but had become even stronger with each remaining day of his life.

This world is a better place and all our lives are richer because of the loving life of Bill Armstrong.


© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  
 
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

AT FIRST BLUSH

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist



I’m intrigued by the illustrious traditions of the book business. While the printing presses are still running, the publisher snatches a couple of sample copies from the conveyor belt, hustles down to the nearest UPS or FedEx store, and sends them to the anxious author who is sitting at home chewing his or her finger nails. That is the first instant the author gets to touch, smell, and stare at the new product. The baby is born.

This week I received from FedEx my two sealed copies of the hard bound book, Better Off. Indeed, the one split second of satisfaction was worth the innumerable hours of copious research and writing. Yes.

With this book, however, I decided to do something different. I thought it would be fun to flush my mind of all previous involvement with the book and read it straight through as if it were my very first experience with the subject and the written words.

I had a very interesting reaction when I finished and closed the back cover and laid down the book. I want to share that personal experience with you.

I fancied myself in heaven, twenty-five years from now, where I was looking down over the lofty banister back onto old mother earth. I had already been experiencing a ton of information and wisdom that I recently learned would have been freely available to me while I was back stumbling and stomping around on earth. I had been so messed up, however, thinking about what we were going to do when we ran out of oil, or sunlight, or water, or electric grids, or computer chips . . . or whatever. I found out that I could have been spending my time, my mental energy, and my imagination exploring and freely discovering all the new and exciting things that were right there before my eyes.

They were all right there, but my preoccupation with fears and worries about shortages, lack, and insufficiencies had burned holes right through my inner eyes of hope, imagination, discovery, and achievement. Those impediments had left me blinded to the possibilities that now I could clearly see.

Why didn’t we, God’s highest achievement in creation, simply reject those who wanted to manipulate, stymie, and control us and condemn us to lives of poverty, scarcity, and bondage? Why didn’t we go ahead and perfect nuclear power, harness hydrogen and finish fusion? We were so tied to the logic of the limited that we were hindered from learning about the ability of abundance.

We had spent all our collective time thinking how to recklessly divvy up the scarce commodities when we could have easily utilized heavenly intelligence and energy to discover available abundance. I caught myself desperately wanting to give it another try.

The rest of the hard bound books have not yet arrived for distribution, but I find myself very eager to get the message of Better Off out to my friends.  I would like to have you own a copy of Better Off. I truly believe you will find it inspiring and personally helpful.

To order go to www.winstoncrown.com or www.jameswjackson.com.

After you have read the book I would love for you to send me your personal responses at press@winstoncrown.com 

© Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"WE'RE ON FIRE"

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


Afghanistan: August, 2002: Our bus left the refugee area and we were driven back to the warlord’s enclave. Everyone got off and went into the heavily guarded headquarters where Commander Chief Miramza met us graciously. We were seated once again and additionally fed ripe watermelon slices and freshly picked grapes. The commander seemed genuinely appreciative of our having made the effort to help the people. It’s just that you never really know where their true loyalties lie. Maybe he was happy that the Taliban had been dislodged from power in his area and maybe Bin Laden may have been his hero. There was just no way of telling. You just never knew whose side he might figure that “Allah” was on. 


I remembered that back in Tashkent during my meeting with the embassy folks they had told me a supposedly true story of an incident that had taken place during the American bombing raid. They told me that a Taliban tank operator was sitting on top of his tank watching the absolute precision of the American bombing operation. The bombs would travel along the ground ripping deep trenches in the ground then find their way exactly to the pinpointed target and completely wipe out the designated object.

He watched the precision operation for several days, turned to his Taliban buddies and said, “I was told specifically that Allah was on our side and assuredly he would give us the victory. But, I don’t think so.” And thereupon he jumped down from his tank and walked home.

We pulled out of Balkh and drove back toward Mazar-e Sharif. It was early evening when we returned to the Young Nak compound. The showers there were nothing to brag about but the wetness of the water washed away the desert dirt and soothed away the emotional afternoon. God’s faithfulness had protected us once again.

After dinner it began to cool down a bit outside. It was so hot at night that we just laid on the mat and sweat. As I had mentioned earlier, fortunately, our room was equipped with a fan.

To keep the mosquitoes and other insects from attacking our totally unprotected bodies, the manager of the Young Nak compound delivered each night to each room a burning citronella coil that stayed lit like a punk and burned slowly throughout the night. He set the punks in the windowsill, which was made of concrete, and no one worried about safety but simply enjoyed the mosquito-free atmosphere.

Monday, August 5

About 1:30 a.m., I was startled as I caught a glimpse of a figure running in the darkness out of our room. My eyes bounced open and I was wide awake. I sat up and reached for my little flashlight, which I had lying on the sleeping mat next to my head. I quickly turned on the light and realized that the room was engulfed in a heavy layer of smoke. 

The sleeping pads had been situated on the floor adjacent to the room’s walls, around the entire parameter of the room, except where the door was located. I was sleeping on the pad on the same wall as where the door was located. My head was in the corner and my body stretched toward the doorway. The mat that was at a right angle to my head was placed right under the low positioned window. Jason was sleeping exactly opposite the room from me and Mr. Kim was on the floor opposite the window. Toward the end of the mat, which was under the windowsill and at a right angle to my head, I could see a patch of flames about three or four inches above the surface of the mat.

About that time Jason jumped up and we got to the hot spot at about the same time. The coverlet on the mat was ready to erupt into full flame. The mat itself had burned most of the way through and had reached a kindling temperature sufficient to launch it into full flame.

Immediately I started pulling my things off the mat. I had placed my travel bag, my camera, and other items on the mat next to my head. If the flames had erupted they all would have ignited quickly.

It had been Mr. Kim who first realized that we had a fire. And it was he who had run out of the room to get some water. Soon he came running back into the room with a supply of water and thoroughly doused the fire. Jason and I then grabbed the mat and hauled it outside just in case the fire was not totally extinguished.

Another Korean man who had been sleeping upstairs had also come to the room sensing that there was a fire. The smoke coming from the mat had been toxic and once the episode was over I realized that it had affected my lungs as well as my vocal chords.

The thing that bothered me most about the mishap was that I had not awakened at the strong smell of the smoke. I had awakened at the man running out of the room. It certainly was no mystery as to what had started the fire. The fan had blown the window curtain just right to flip the mosquito-repellent punk off the windowsill and onto the mat. I guess my subconscious mind had accepted the fact that there was supposed to be smoke from the punk and didn’t let me know the difference between the burning citronella and the toxic smoke from the mat. Had I been by myself in a room somewhere in one of the other countries where I traveled, I might not have awakened before the mat burst into flames. Once more, God had been faithful to protect us.

It seemed like a short night after that, because we had to be up at 4:30 a.m. in order to get ready to leave on the bus.

On Monday we would reverse the trip that had taken us into Afghanistan as we traveled back to Uzbekistan. We left Mazar-e Sharif and drove through the sand dunes that had blown their way back over the road. We cleared Afghanistan border control and made our way across the bridge that joined the two countries over the Amu Darya River.

It was actually more difficult getting back into Uzbekistan than it had been getting into Afghanistan. There was a tremendous amount of drug traffic out of Afghanistan. Production of heroine in Afghanistan topped nearly all other countries in the world. Therefore, they very carefully check not only the travelers and their luggage but pay particular attention to the large and small trucks that cross the border and the automobiles. I was surprised, however, to see drug-sniffing dogs employed at the Uzbekistan border working to detect the chemicals.

Tuesday, August 6

Tuesday morning was an informal training session for Jason on needs assessments. Anna Marie and I met with him for a couple of hours reviewing observations and situations that had taken place on the trip. Jason was an eager learner and had really become a committed and loyal member of the Project C.U.R.E. team. I had become impressed that he would be able to handle international assessments for Project C.U.R.E. in various venues around the world.

At noon Daniel Kim came to get us checked out of the hotel and delivered to the airport. We had a good opportunity to discuss the findings of our assessment studies with Daniel Kim and suggest the logistics and details of the medical shipments from Project C.U.R.E. into Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. It was going to be an exciting project to see what we could do together with the Koreans in Central Asia.




Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

MEETING WITH THE MAIN WARLORD

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


Afghanistan: August 4, 2002: We drove out from Mazar-e Sharif to an area called Balkh. It was the home of about 150 refugee families. They were IDPs, as opposed to being refugees from another country seeking safety in Afghanistan. They were a part of a larger segment of the community but had not integrated into the rest of the community. 

Their living quarters were within the walls of bombed-out buildings two and three stories high. The buildings had been completely gutted by the explosions and fire. The new inhabitants pitched their tents on the dirt floors of the old structures and any earthly belongings they retained were stashed under the makeshift tents. There was no running water available to them and no sewer facilities. They had no means of income and were relegated to beggar status. 

Our bus pulled up in front of a high-walled enclave heavily guarded by plain-clothed and uniformed soldiers. All were carrying automatic weapons or shoulder-held grenade or rocket launchers. Daniel asked me to accompany him into the fortified enclave. 



The walled enclave was heavily shaded by large trees and there were remnants of a couple of large concrete and stone pads at the center. At one time in history the location must have been quite lovely. Along one outside wall there were about 15 Afghanistan tribal men seated in an oval configuration on dark red Persian carpets that had been spread on the ground. All were grizzled and seasoned older men with full beards, traditional parahan turbans, and Afghan turbans. We had gone to the very headquarters of the warlords for the northern part of Afghanistan.

Daniel Kim had always made it a practice to pay a call to the area warlord, Commander Chief Miramza, to greet him, inform him of why he was in the area, and ask his permission to hold the free medical clinic and distribute the bread and fruit to the refugees.

The warlord was a robust man dressed in military fatigues and wearing an unusual bit of headgear. Instead of the traditional turban he wore a round ring over his baldhead with a flat piece of material over the top. But looks aside, the order for the moment was definitely dignity and respect.

We greeted Commander Miramza by formally embracing and shaking hands. We were then invited to sit in the formation next to the warlord on the bright red Persian rugs. We explained what our agenda was for the day and then Daniel Kim explained all about Project C.U.R.E. and introduced me to say some words of greeting to the council.

From the leaders’ enclave we drove to the refugee area. Some of the people were living in brush arbors made of sticks and weeds piled over a framework to shield the families from the extremely hot sun. The temperature was about 106 degrees even at that early hour. I watched but simply could not understand how even the refugee women could tolerate wearing the long covering over all their other clothes, over their heads and faces. Even inside their brush arbor tent houses they still kept their heads covered although some had removed their chadiri in their makeshift houses.

As we walked into the refugee area the tribe leaders led us to a mound of dirt elevated about five feet above the regular landscape. The top of the mound was flat and measured about 20 feet in diameter. While we were standing there men came with shovels and hoes and knocked down all the large weeds that had grown over the mound. When cleared they brought pieces of carpet and spread on the flat surface.

We unloaded 5,000 loaves of Afghan bread from two vans and stacked them on the pieces of carpet. Daniel Kim and Young Nak Foundation had pre-arranged for the bread ahead of time and had paid for men to collect the loaves from various local bread makers right at their outside ovens. 



When the bread was unloaded we set to work unloading 150 large melons and stacked them on the edges of the carpet in front of the bread. Our next duty was to count out exactly 30 loaves of bread and put them in 150 individual stacks.

While we were working with the bread and melons, the Korean medical team of three doctors plus nurses, assistants, and interpreters, set up a clinic site on the porch of an old, bombed-out building. Each individual or mother of sick children was issued a piece of paper with a sequential number on it. That piece of paper allocated a place in line for those wanting to see a doctor.

At the beginning, the refugees kept pretty orderly in the lines. But as time went on the would-be patients began to get restless and some of the more aggressive women tried to push and shove their way closer to the front of the line, or they tried to go around the house and sneak onto the porch from another direction.

As I observed, I came to the conclusion that the Afghan culture was quite a ruthless and physically cruel society. Delegated or self-appointed men of the tribe began to enforce the crowd’s behavior. They were equipped with thick green branches. At any perceived misbehavior of the “rule breakers” in the lines, the men with the sticks would violently attack them and beat them severely until they either ran off or complied.

As I watched it seemed to me that, indeed, the cruelty of the men toward the women was made easier since they really didn’t have to reckon with the identity or personality of the women they were beating. But identity of the misbehaving children didn’t seem to affect the striking of the kids in any way. They just got a beating.

As the sun bore down and the time drug on, there was more violence. Women pushed and shoved other women and there was a lot of abuse from the women to the children. Under pressure, it seemed like the only way to communicate was by hitting.

By 3 in the afternoon, the refugees were getting restless. I told Jason to watch how the crowd was reacting. I pointed out just how nasty crowds like that could become in a split second. I even told him of our experience in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea when Project C.U.R.E. had teamed up with Dr. Howard Harper and Vision International to perform free inner-ocular lens transplants on blind children. When the time had come for us to shut down the procedures and leave, those parents and grandparents of children who had not received the sight-restoring operation became very emotional. They had anticipated that their children would see again like the other eighty-some blind children who had received their sight as a result of the procedure. “You can only imagine how it would feel to come so close to having your deepest need met and then realize that the people who could help others were leaving without helping you.”

I went on to explain that it probably was one of Anna Marie’s most emotional times of her life, when as we were getting ready to leave, the parents and old people would go to her and beg and even offer wads of money if our doctors would stay and also make their babies see again. “It’s a real thin edge of emotions when a crowd of people realize that they might get left out. It can turn violent very easily.”

Daniel Kim sensed what was happening and spread the word that we would shut down the free clinic at 3:30 p.m. The people also sensed what was going to happen.

Suddenly men started pushing past the nurses and just grabbing bottles and sacks of pills. One man I saw was running away with about six bags of intravenous fluid. Those IV fluids would do him absolutely no good at the present or in the future but he wasn’t going to be denied his share.

When things started to unravel, we packed and closed up the boxes of medical supplies. We each carried what we could and quickly headed for the bus.

Meanwhile, Jason and others were distributing the loaves of bread and melons to the refugee families. The head of that refugee community was standing atop the mound and calling out the individual family names of the camp. When their name was called they would go up on top the mound and receive their 30 loaves of bread and their fruit. But, some folks were greedy and not willing to settle for order. Earlier their family had possibly already received their food, but they wanted more.

Before all the bread could be distributed fairly some of the men in their 20s or 30s began breaking through the lines and grabbing the bread and running off. Then the rest saw what was happening and rushed the mound.

At that point Daniel Kim hollered to Jason and the others handing out the bread and fruit and told them to just drop whatever they had in their hands and quickly go to the bus. By that time the young men were trying to grab anything they could get their hands on. They began trying to strip the waist pack Jason had fastened around his middle. They could not get it unlatched or the pockets unzipped. But someone did reach in and grab a hold of his camera from one of his side pockets. He ran back and grabbed it back from the young man and quickly made his way to the bus.

Now then, at a church picnic or even at Denver’s National Western Stock Show, such an incident wouldn’t be too significant. But, when nearly every man in the community was carrying an automatic high-powered rifle or a grenade launcher and you are a citizen of a country that just recently bombed the “puddin’” out of the neighborhood, you are apt to have the makings of something nasty or at least dangerous. I was very pleased when Jason and I and the 18 Koreans were safely seated on the bus.

Jason was a little shaken from the incident. It was the first such occurrence he had ever witnessed. In fact, our trip to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan was the first time Jason had ever been outside the US.

Next Week: “We’re on Fire”

 © Dr. James W. Jackson   
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
  
     
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com