03/18/2006 05:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Yo, Tony - Thanks for Kicking My Ass

When I was first asked to write for the Huffington Post, I was asked to do a piece about Habitat For Humanity. I agreed but also wanted to write about some additional interests, concerns, and experiences. I was given the green light, so here we are. Today, I am again going outside of the norm for Huffington Post. Please hang with me on this one.

My last post involved a story about Robin Williams and was intended to make people simply laugh, smile, chuckle, giggle or grin. There was no sublime hidden political message. If you held it up to a mirror and tried to read it in reverse, it wouldn't say something like "George Clooney is a god." If you took every fourth letter and wrote them backwards and upside-down you would get nothing except a headache. In fact, I actually prefaced my story with a paragraph that explained that it was just for laughs. Still, several people who responded have so much anger in them that they decided they had to find a way to attack such a story. One responder said Robin Williams was in his top three list of people he wanted to punch in the face. Just for the record, Tom Cruise and Richard Gere were the other two. Okay, lately Tom Cruise has been a bit irritating, but we really need to get a grip on things. I am guessing that in an ironic turn of events, the guy who wanted to punch Robin Williams in the face is now on the top three lists of many of the Huffington Post participants.

When I was young, I thought I was pretty tough. I had more than my share of playground brawls. I was fairly strong and athletic, so at the very least, I was able to hold my own in these battles. The fact of the matter is I usually ended up very quickly getting my opponents to reconsider their decision to participate in the impending confrontation and they would retreat. My success in the field of playground combat only made my tough guy syndrome worse. That questionable personality trait remained intact and unblemished until I reached the seventh grade. That was when I made the mistake of getting in Tony Shovlosky's face. Tony was an eighth grader and I found out that Tony was way tougher than I was. To this day, around forty years after the event, the memory of the beating I took is one of the strongest remaining images of my childhood. I can still easily visualize the bruise and the black eye. Having to go to school the next week or so with that black eye was extremely tough for this tough guy. However, sometime during that week, I came to the realization that no matter how tough you are, there is always someone tougher. My momentary defeat ultimately became a triumph. I realized that anger needs to be controlled. It also taught me to redirect anger towards accomplishing something positive or finding solutions to situations without arguing or fighting. To this day, that good old fashion whipping remains the source of one of my strongest and most wonderful childhood lessons. It was the last fistfight I ever had.

I understand that responding to blog posts is an opportunity to get things off of our chests. It is a place to discuss issues of the world and pet peeves. The piece of this matrix that causes me concern, is seeing how many angry people feel a need to attack and tear apart anything and everything. I feel for these people. The only way they seem able to contribute (and I use the term loosely) is to tear into even the most mundane statements with senseless attacks and accusations. I guess it's better that these people attack anonymously and verbally, instead of at a mall with an automatic weapon, but can't we shoot (excuse the word choice) for a balance between criticism and problem-solving?

As a building contractor, I fully understand that demolition and destruction are usually easier than building. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Tearing to pieces is the trade for those who cannot construct." As a business owner, I look for people who can find answers, not problems. Finding problems and criticizing the source is easy because they have a tendency to jump out at us. Solutions require some thought and commitment. Now that I have gotten that off of my chest, my request of the blog world is simple. After you get what's bothering you off of your chest, spend a little time offering some alternative directions that we can head, in an effort to fix what is broken. There are plenty of challenges out there and we need to work together to move forward. I am simply asking for a redirection of the anger toward solutions because that is what is truly important.

Finally, to the guy who wants to punch Robin Williams in the face-