Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reflections on 2013

A writer writes!

Seven days until the formal end of 2013.  Year end is always a reflective time for me.  I think about events that transpired during the year.  I review what I accomplished and what didn't go as well as I would have desired.  This was my first year of "retired" life.  I began implementing my goals related to writing and having the opportunity to express myself.  That is where this blog came from.  I had no lofty goals of having thousands of followers to this blog.  I just wanted the opportunity to say whatever is on my mind and put those thoughts out there.  If someone comes across the blog and my words inspires them into a positive direction or makes them think about an issue, that is an extra benefit.

The freedom to express myself and my views has long been a goal of mine.  Coming from a 35 year career in the Federal government, I often had to regurgitate official rules and laws, some which I did not believe were correct.  But, these were the rules I pledged to uphold.  That system was unfortunately influenced at all levels by the biases, beliefs, and opinions of those in various positions of authority.  So, there were discriminatory actions and decisions made that the Public would be amazed by.  I on occasion would come into conflict against the system and I would make my feelings known.  I'm sure my boisterous opinions kept be from rising to higher levels in the organization.  But, I would rather wake up in the morning knowing I never sold my soul to the system than to achieve a higher pay grade by "selling out".

This year has also allowed me to write comedy materials and sell them on the website Fiverr.com.  I've made what I call "pocket change" but, it's the first step in my goal to be a comedy writer who gets paid for what he writes.  The one thing I like about writing is that my success on non success is largely dependent on my actions.  If I don't write, I'm not a writer.  If I do write it doesn't matter if I don't make $30,000 plus for what I'm doing.  Just being able to write intelligent, thoughtful material is my grading curve for success.  For my comedy material, if my customers or their audience laughs, it's a success!

I live comfortably in retirement.  My health is good.  I can walk, talk, and  am able to move about freely. Sometimes we take for granted the simple things in life.  I can say, I'm at a point where I don't.  Having both hands to use to type is something I am thankful for.  Being able to see the words I type is another gift.

So, in reflecting on this year although I didn't achieve worldly accomplishments, I did do what I set out to do.  I continue to work on my personal character which is always a work in progress for me.  As of December 24, 2013 I am still alive and that by itself is an accomplishment.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

All Things Are Possible!

A writer writes!

The pastor of our church read from Luke chapter 2 for today's sermon.  Chapter 2 describes how Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph and was expecting a child.  Of course the child she was expecting was Jesus, the son of God.  Joseph knew that the child Mary was carrying was not his. Imagine the scandalous talk regarding Mary being pregnant before her marriage to Joseph.

So, why would God create a situation where His Son is brought into an environment surrounded by scandalous talk?  Why didn't God have his Son born into a "respectable" situation by worldly community standards?   Jesus was not born into a wealthy family, or born into a family of a human King where worldly power was inherent by the last name of his worldly father.  Instead Jesus Christ was born into a working man's family.  Joseph possessed the skills of a carpenter, a valuable trade, but one that did not bring riches and wealth.

What if God had chosen to have his Son born as a child to a same sex female couple?  The speculation and talk regarding who is the father surely would have existed.  Would God have allowed a situation where a couple living a life outside of God's plan be charged with raising the Son of God?  If you read the bible you will see that Jesus Christ was not selective in whom he associated with.  He spoke to those who in His day were scorned and reviled by the people.

Great things come from situations that are not perfect in the eyes of the world.  It's a lesson that we as people have not fully come to understand.  As the bible tells us, through Christ all things are possible.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dealing With Our Apples

A writer writes!

One aspect of being a human being, is having a free will that drives us to do what we want to do. Unfortunately some things we want to do involves actions that are illegal, immoral, or just plain wrong.  We violate traditions, customs, rules, laws, ethics, and ignore the clear warnings of the consequences of these actions.

Historically, we have been doing so since Eve and her spouse Adam took a bite from the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  The rules were plain.  Yes, Eve, got some motivation and urging to make the decision she made.  But, the decision was hers, as it was Adam's decision to follow her lead.

What leads us to make these bad decisions?  Is the promise of instant gratification and immediate pleasure what drives us to do what we want to do?  Is it worth taking the short cut to achieve a desire rather than settling for a walk through the maze called life?  Apparently in some cases we as people do not want to wait.  We want it now and don't understand why we should wait.

The patience to be strong and fight off the temptation to take the short cut is difficult.  Who wants to do all the work when you have an option to easily get what you want?  If you can go out the front door and pick up a $100 bill you see on  your doorstep, why would you go out the back door and walk around to the front to pick up the money?  We've been taught that hard work can lead to success.  But, we often forget that principle in making decisions.

We all deal with our own apples in this life.  Most of the time we decide to leave the forbidden fruit alone.  Then there are instances when we just give in to the ease at which we can achieve something we want.  How can we stay on the path where we always make the decision to not take the forbidden fruit?  Maybe it has to be ingrained into us from birth to only do what is correct?  But who among us can achieve saint hood throughout all of our life?  Some do in specific aspects of their lives.  Not all of us resort to murder to settle a grievance.  Not all of us steal to get money to live.  Some societies have harsh penalties for those actions deemed to be unacceptable.  Even then, some of us violate those rules thinking we will not be caught.

Dealing with our apples may come down to being a day-to-day event.  The more we stay on the course where correct decisions are made, the better our chances of continuing to make the correct decisions in the future.  If you falter, don't settle for continuing to make the wrong decision.  Attempt to counteract that failure by making as many positive and correct decisions in your future actions.  We can't correct all of our mistakes, but we can consciously make better decisions in the future.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Time out from the World

A writer writes!

I often find it effective to be still.  Call time out to slow down life around me.  At times that may mean letting the world move forward while I remain still.  The waves in the world are powerful and will carry you along at its pace, if you allow it to. So at times I call time out, and on occasion take a physical step back, to stop the world from controlling me.

I do not watch much television.  Again the prospect of the world sending me images as I sit passively watching does not excite me.  I seek out those images and information on television that I want to see and hear.  Other images I just shake my head at in disgust as I can't believe we as people have resorted to idolizing each other and the tremendously stupid things we do.

I remain critical of my actions, especially any that are based on being caught up with what the world says is important.  Maybe self criticism and assessment is what we all need to do to reach our full potential? In the background I play Gospel/Christian music.  Playing such music is my attempt to let the world know that I recognize we have a creator whose accomplishments dwarfs anything we have done individually or collectively.

It's the Christmas Season.  A time we have turned into a gift buying seasonal period of decorations, and ringing of bells outside stores.  This is a good time to call time out from the world. To first realize and reflect that this season is meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the human based Son of God.  So take time out to reflect on the reason for this season.  Then reflect on whether you are caught up in the events of the world.  If you find that you are, stop, and take a step back. Then move forward at your pace.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Reactions to Encounters

A writer writes!

Every day we encounter many influences which impact decisions we make.  Many encounters require a mental on the spot decision on our part.  That decision may also be a value judgment.  What if you encounter someone standing at a stop light near the entrance or exit of a highway asking for money?  Do you feel sorry for that person or question the validity of their needing to be there?  Your decision will impact whether you roll down your window to give them money, or if you later go on line to give to an organization that feeds the homeless.  Or maybe your encounter motivates you to write a letter to an elected official complaining about people begging at inappropriate places.

Every day we encounter opportunities where follow up options exists.  An on the spot decision is sometimes needed.  Our values at times dictate what action we take.  How we emotionally feel at that moment is another factor impacting our decision.  If our focus is somewhere else the encounter may not fully have our attention.  If you are headed to the hospital in response to an emergency phone call from a family member, your thought process may not be the same as if you were having a quiet leisurely day.

Understanding yourself, the influences of the day, and your current emotional state are all factors in our reactions to encounters.  That quote, "It's a  matter of timing" truly explains some of the actions we take.  If we all had the ability to stop time and reflect before acting, many of our negative actions would not have occurred.  But, we all don't have stop watches where we can stop time and do an assessment of the situation.  How do we improve our ability to make better decisions?  Understand and think about those values you have that make up the foundation of who you are.  Think about what you represent and stand for.  From that foundation should come the ability to make follow-up on the spot decisions that reflect who you are.

When some events happen in our lives, people say, "I didn't know they were like that."  The fact is only we know who we really are.  We make conscious efforts to keep some aspects of our thoughts or actions a secret.  People do not really want to be an open book to everyone.  If just doesn't work that way.  But, in order to fit into the daily existences we all have to display acceptable behaviors and actions.

To react positively to events, we all need to call time out and determine just who we are as an individual.  Absent all of the outside influences in this life, what do we individually value, care about and why?  Take time to reflect on what you value and why.  Then apply that to your daily encounters.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thinking for Ourselves

A writer writes!

During the Christmas season, unfortunately commercialism tends to reign over the reason for the season.  Forgotten is the theme that it is a time to recognize the birth of Jesus Christ who was given to this world to save us from our sinful ways.

One of the commercial pressures of this season is to purchase "gifts" that we are told our kids need, or that we need.  I recall past years where toys were touted as being in high demand.  Because of the commercial pressure that you were not a complete human being if you didn't give your kids these toys, parents would fight over and spend inordinate amounts of money to get the toy.  The only reason we had to get the gift is because somebody told us it was important to get the gift.  Even now still fights at stores on Black Fridays are a normal occurrence.  Until a major lawsuit is initiated by a consumer hurt at one of these store events, stores and companies will not do anything to ensure these Black Friday events are peaceful and orderly.

Which comes to my point.  People need to actually call time out and think for themselves.  Ask yourself, "what do I really need?"   "What do I really want and why?"  We need to stop letting companies whose purpose is to make money, tell us what we need.  People, we actually have a brain that allows us to logically make decisions by ourselves.

Companies are good at marketing items to us in a way that tells us we need what they have to offer. Whether it is clothes, fashion, appliances, televisions, food, we are bombarded daily with images and information designed to make us buy what a company has to offer.  I recall years ago when flat screen televisions started to be sold.  I had the economic means to purchase one, but the old style televisions I had still worked.  So, my thought process was why should I buy a flat screen TV if the ones I had worked?  But, I know for a fact that people whose income was half of mine went out and purchased a flat screen TV because they could not resist the marketing from companies that they needed one to be a complete human being.

My thought process was if I needed something I would buy it.  Otherwise I would marvel at all the new items in the stores, but walk right by them as I didn't need the items at the time.  They say we as people are very intelligent.  But, it seems we also are also very gullible.  If we can be convinced to purchase a pet rock we can be convinced to buy anything.

For 2014 here is something you can do.  Think for yourself and decide what is best for you and your family.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Affordable Health Care Act - A Humorous Look

A writer writes!

The Affordable Health Care Act, also dubbed, "Obamacare" is having some growth problems as all newborns do.  I recall the day the law was passed.  The White House had a big ceremony. Everybody was all smiles and giving each other high fives.  Joe Biden told the President, “this is a big f***ing deal!”  Now jump forward a year and proponents, and former backers are jumping ship.  Vice President Biden called in sick the past 3 days to avoid questions about "Obamacare".  Michelle O'bama recently  told the President, “I guess you're not so bad now are you?”  Obama’s previous cool walk is a little less cool, a little slower, with his shoulders now hunched down.

The website HealthCare.gov bombed out.  People couldn't log in.  Those trying to log in actually got carpal tunnel from the repeated motion of trying to log on.  Then they didn't have any insurance to pay for the carpal tunnel surgery.  People got stressed out trying to get online.  Blood pressures went up.  Folks had anxiety attacks worried about getting health insurance.  By a recent poll, all of these events has made trying to get health insurance the number three reason why people get sick!

The website does have problems though.  I was in the site and typed in "sesame seed diet" to see if any health carriers paid for specific diet treatments.  The next think I know, I find myself watching a download of episodes from the children's TV show Sesame Street.  So, I watched a couple of episodes and then logged out.  It wasn't the health care research results I wanted from HealthCare.gov but it was entertaining.  I sent the HealthCare.gov website a nice note thanking them for the entertainment options provided by the website.

Well, none of the above is really true.  But, it is wishful thinking for those who want the Affordable Health Care Act to fall flat on it's face.  Let's give the Act a chance and make the necessary changes as time and conditions dictate.  It's the closest this country has come to mandatory health care.  Who wants to go backwards?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shoppers 6, Family 4 - First Game of Consumer Playoffs

A writer writes.

Well, game one of the consumer world series was played last Thursday on Thanksgiving Day.  The visiting team was all the stores that elected to open on Thanksgiving Day.  Some stores even had the audacity to open at 8 in the morning.  Black Friday was replaced by Thankless Thursday.  The aroma of turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving Day is now being replaced by the smell of new merchandise just unpacked and placed at eye level for consumers to gobble up.

Thanksgiving Day traditionally was a time for families to spend time together.  In the past most workers were given the day off to rest and spend time with family and loved ones.  Somewhere in some corporate board rooms across the country, decisions were made to "screw the family day".  Let's sell more stuff!  Because one thing Americans like is buying "stuff" whether we need it or not.

So, Macy's, Target, and other chain stores gladly welcomed shoppers and their charge cards and cash, into their stores.  People of all races, sizes, and economic backgrounds either stood in a line or came out to the stores once they opened.  What lured them out away from family?  The promise of big bargains and the chance to purchase merchandise, that the stores otherwise could not get rid of, brought many people to the consumer playoffs.

I was hoping that people would boycott the event and let the stores know that "the people" are in charge!  The people will not be enticed to come out and shop on a day of family bonding!  What was I thinking. The lure of "stuff" was apparently too much for people to resist.  As Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, so the American consumer fell for the shopping fruit.  Within 10 years Thanksgiving Day will be replaced by "Shoppers Day".  Dinners will still be prepared, but it will be a meal to feed the shoppers before they head to the store.

I'll miss Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reflections On A Cold Fall Day- Our Holographic Future?

When I was 11 years old I was into science fiction.  It was 1968 and the United States was preparing to send a man to actually walk on the moon.  Being an astronaut, a lofty goal for a black pre-teen, was something I actually thought about. Every book that featured space travel or being an astronaut was something I read.  I watched on television everything related to the American space program.  Star Trek was my favorite television show.  It depicted futuristic beings of all varieties and colors exploring new worlds sometimes in harmony and sometimes in conflict.

In those days I never imagined that one day, I would hold in my hand a device by which I could talk to other people (as shown on Star Trek) and also read news, take photographs, take notes, and record my voice.  The smart phone was the thing of science fiction dreams.

So, I wonder, what lies ahead of us in 45 more years.  I can envision a world where holographic visuals replace items that we now have in our homes.  Why put up a real Christmas tree when you can turn on a device to display a holographic picture of a Christmas tree in your living room?  The same for other items that we now physically have in place.  It may become common place thought that you don't actually need a physical object in your home.  As long as you can view it, if it is not essential to touch it, why have it?

It would sure make buying furniture simpler!  I'd rather have a holographic photograph to hang rather than a real photo to mount on a wall.  I'd rather a holographic TV screen display come on rather than having to carry a flat screen into the house and then physically mount it on the wall.  Imagine us having less physical "stuff" to worry about?  Wouldn't a world with a need for fewer possessions be an improvement in our current chase for all the material things we can accumulate?

Maybe that is the future.  We can satisfy our needs for nice material things through visual holographics that depict those items that we want but truly don't need.  Our "comfort" possessions can be stored and displayed from within something comparable to a USB Flash drive.  Maybe we will be able to change our environments by changing the USB Flash drive to an "upgraded" version.  Of course, I'm sure it will come with a price tag attached.  But, it will mean less real clutter and junk to throw away or recycle.  Imagine your new home where the only real things you will need are a couch, bed, bathroom, kitchen and appliances.   Everything else could be holographically constructed to fit the materialistic lifestyle you want to have.

Well, I don't think I have  45 more years on this planet to see us get there.  But, for all of you who will, remember these times when we had to actually touch and feel an item to appreciate our lives.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For Stores Opening On Thanksgiving Evening - Shame on You!

Remember those days when Thanksgiving evening was spent with family congregating together?  Some gathered around the television to watch football.  Some gathered in the kitchen helping with cleanup from the day's feast.  Others were on their way driving home from the feast.

Now we have a variety of stores proudly announcing that they will open Thanksgiving night to accommodate Black Friday shoppers.  In a country that values and promotes "family", how does this store opening policy promote families spending time together?  Where is the moral outrage and protests against stores opening on Thanksgiving night?  Are stores so desperate to make money that they can't give their employees and customers the evening to enjoy each other?  I guess not.

I applaud those stores that are closed all day on Thanksgiving.  Pausing a day to give thanks, should not be interrupted for old fashioned American greed.  Stores will not go out of business if they are closed for one day out of respect to families having time to gather and spend all day together.  The technological age of laptops, pads, smartphones, already interrupts normal conversations we used to have.  We don't need stores to add more distractions to take us away from spending time with each other.

Here is what you can do.  Don't go shopping at any of these stores on Thanksgiving.  Call the store and tell them you are outraged that they are open that night.  Let your friends and family know the same thing.  The stores should know that we the consumer, are the ones who they should cater to.  Stores should not drive policies down onto us.  Especially if they impact the limited quality time we have to spend with each other.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why Police Have a Negative Image

A writer writes.

I just watched a video of the antics of several Caucasian policemen in New Mexico.  The video shows a policeman stopping a van driven by a woman for going 70 in a 55 miles per hour zone.  The policeman asks her to wait right there, and he walks back to his car.  For some reason the woman drives off.  The police follow her and stop her again, this time just asking her to get out of the car.  The woman declines doing so but finally gets out and goes to the back of the car.  When asked to put her hands behind her back she declines and attempts to get back in the car.  The policeman attempts to stop her from doing so.  Her son and another of her kids gets out of the car to come to the aid of their mom.  Apparently the policeman attempts to taser her oldest son who gets back in the car.  Then one of the cops goes to the passenger side of the car and demands that the son open the door.  When he does not, the policeman uses his baton to break the passenger window.  The mom then drives off.  As she does so another policeman, fires his gun at the van.  Thankfully he doesn't hit anyone in the car.  The mother finally ends the chase when she stops in front of a hotel.

What those policeman have done in addition to making a fool of themselves, is to make an enemy of a young black male.  His view of policemen will forever be clouded by their questionable behavior.  He will forever not trust a policeman.  He will question the authority of a policeman to ask him questions.  Policemen should realize, they too are role models.  Their behavior needs to remain exemplary in all instances.  They are entrusted with weapons that can kill people.  Use of those weapons should be on an as needed basis.  Why a policeman would feel threatened by a car moving away from him is severely questionable.

The policemen took an opportunity to handle the situation in a more diplomatic fashion and blew it.  Now it's just another instance of armed policemen going wild.  Some would say the mother should have just complied with the policeman.  More facts will come out in the next few days.  But, does it take bullets to stop a mother and a van full of kids?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bragging and Inviting Terrorism to Return

A writer writes.

The headline on a cable news website reads, "One World Trade Center to be Tallest U.S. Skyscraper". When I saw that, I thought to myself, "are they trying to entice terrorists to make a return visit to New York"?  Yes, it may be an accomplishment to build the tallest building in the United States from the ruins of a major tragedy in the United States.  But, it doesn't seem proper to tout and brag about the accomplishment.  It is the tallest because two previous structures at the location were destroyed by airplanes being used as missiles costing many people their lives.

In this world some times it is best to not over publicize an accomplishment, or bring onto yourself attention that is not needed.  Being labeled "the tallest in the United States", will bring attention to One World Trade Center.  More attention than it already has by it's virtue of being a building built from the ruins of the terrorist attack in 2001.  Now terrorist have a brand new target to refocus on.  The first attempt at the World Trade Center did not succeed.  The second attempt did. Why would we not think that another attempt to bring down the rebuilt tower in the United States will not occur?  A deadly cat and mouse game it is, but we should not think those who hate the United States are beyond another attempt.  So, the builders of the building had to make it the tallest to make a point.  Then we publicize this great accomplishment.  Then we take the necessary security precautions and wait.

Greatness is knowing you are the best, or have the best, without having to advertise that fact.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Celebrate Being Average or Above Average

A writer writes.

We all have a special gift that our creator has endowed to us.  Some of us know what that gift is and build upon that gift to reach our full potential.  Some of us don't know what our gift is, or if we do know misuse the gift.

We often hear about a person who has excelled in the use of their gift.  That person may be an athlete, singer, business person, or someone who stands out in a particular field.  It is fine to recognize and applaud those who excel in the use of their gift.  It is also fine to recognize all of us who may be just average or above average in how we accomplish a task.  Average and above average means that we are meeting expectations and that we may sometimes even exceed expectations.

A person does not always have to be different to be appreciated.  Currently in the United States there seems to be much attention being given to a push for same sex marriages to be legalized.  There is also a celebratory attitude when some public figures announce that they are gay.  In today's world why is such an announcement given such publicity?  It is as if being gay elevates a person to a higher status than being heterosexual.  Most people in the world are heterosexual.  There is nothing wrong with being heterosexual.  Yes, it may be average in today's world.  But, celebrate your heterosexuality.

If you are a business person who runs a successful business that allows you to make some money, celebrate that accomplishment.  You do not have to be a billionaire to be a successful businessman.  If you work in an office and support your supervisor getting his or her job done, celebrate what you do as a member of the office team.  You do not have to be a star to be successful.  There are many people who support others.  They may be average or above average, but without them there is no success.   Yes, if you can rise above being average by putting forth more effort than do so.  But, if you get the job done and you've done your best, celebrate your accomplishments!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lack of Originality in Government

A writer writes......

Our government suffers from a lack or originality.  We limit ourselves to principles laid out in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  We judge new laws against the intent of that original constitution.  There is no need to limit our thinking to the intent of those born over 200 years ago.  People evolve, thinking evolves, and so should options to address an issue evolve.

Economic policies.  There is no reason why the United States should create test economic zones where some policies are "tested" for benefits/advantages.  We should allow states to test economic programs for a time limited period.  Then assess the programs and whether the programs should be modified, or stopped.

General laws.  There may be  a need to set time limits for some new laws and policies.  It may be true that some policies may not stand the test of time. How many communities have laws on the books that may have made sense in 1813, but do not  make sense in 2013?

Housing/Public Safety.  There should be federal requirements governing the building of apartments, homes, and safety areas for mobile home inhabitants.  In emergencies such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquake and other natural disasters policies need to exist that describe where people should go to for help.  In some instances we need to look at the wisdom of spending money to rebuild in areas where it is known that natural dangers exists.  Doing so would decrease insurance industry costs and the pain and suffering index of those hit by the natural disasters.  If mobile homes is a cheap retirement option for people, we should at least ensure the safety of people in those structures.  After Hurricane Katrina and the broken levies destroyed much of New Orleans in flood waters, there was talk a to why reinvest in New Orleans?  Especially if the area is prone to future hurricane strikes.  Any actions to rebuild in New Orleans should have considered whether you can hurricane proof a structure.  Can man dominate and control nature?  History has shown we can not.  The government now cautions us to develop our own plans for how to deal with emergency situations.  Create our own personal disaster plan.  That does not bode well for relying on the government to be there when emergencies occur.

We need to understand what government should, can, and will do for its citizens.   We also need to understand that governments have been around for ages.  Governments have not solved century old problems such as poverty, crime, or how to effectively wipe out diseases.  First, start from the premise that governments lack originality in thought to address issues.  Then realize that governments are not the solution to resolving problems.  Our collective actions as servants of our ultimate creator provides the final answers as to our collective future on this planet.

Monday, November 4, 2013

12 Years A Slave and other Visual Media to Educate Black Youth

A writer writes.

Today I viewed the movie "12 Years a Slave".  It is a story of a free Black Man in the early 1800s who is kidnapped away from his wife and family and sold into slavery.  I went to a more "upper scale" arts theater to view the film.  The crowd was mostly white patrons who looked to be 40 years and older.  Along with me there were approximately 8 black patrons most also over 40.

The film of course paints a graphic picture of the experience of the man and those he was enslaved with.  It was a horrifying existence in the days when slavery was part of this nation's culture.  The film is rated R but it would be a good visual history lesson for the young black generation who really has no idea what happened to their ancestors other than a small blurb in their school's history books.

A visual showing of the PBS series Eyes on the Prize, the mini series Roots, and such movies as Malcolm X, Miracle at St. Anna, etc. would provide our black youth a visual education of their heritage.  The purpose of such viewings would be for educational enlightenment.  It would be further enlightening if other cultures also viewed the films.  I'm sure there are other stories of other cultures that would educate us on how race was a major factor in this country in how people were treated.  We have yet to see a coverage of the most horrific injustice done in this country.  Maybe one day we will see a realistic depiction of the annihilation of the Native American culture in the United States of America.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Era of Domestic Terrorism

A writer writes.

Last week's incident of a TSA employee being shot and killed at Los Angeles International airport is becoming the normal expectation in the United States.  The security defensive schemes at public locations lacks the manpower or technology to keep weapons away from what should be secure areas.  The entrance areas to venues, with security present, assumes that security at that point will be effective to stop those trying to enter a secure area.

There needs to be a buffer zone between the secure entrance area and the final destination.  Sports stadiums, airports, movie theaters, amusement parks, etc. all operate under the assumption that if you have reached the entry zone to an area you must mean to do no harm.  That false assumption has opened up opportunities for domestic terrorism to succeed. More vigilance, and observation of those who have entered into a public venue is necessary.  Especially if the person is carrying a bag, wearing layers of clothes, or makes movements leading to display of a weapon.

Pushing initial entry zones further out with a pre screening that targets a search for weapons may be a required change in safety procedures.  The other option is more vigilance on the behalf of each person coming into an area.  Self protection and less reliance on official security may become the norm.  Security failed at the Boston marathon.  Security failed at Los Angeles International Airport.  People watching may become a skill we all will need to learn.

Domestic terrorists need to be made aware that not only is official security watching them, but so is everyone else.  We've yet to see an average citizen taking their safety in their own hands and defending themselves accordingly.  With domestic terrorist threatening the lives of innocent people, I would not be surprised to see vigilante protective actions occur against terrorists.  People are getting tired of running away.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Educator says, "Tired of Watching Slave Movies"

I mentioned to an acquaintance that I heard that the movie "12 Years a Slave" was a very intense movie to watch.  He responded that he had been at an educational event, where the movie had come up in a discussion.  The educator he was talking to had replied that she was tired of movies about African Americans as slaves.

 My comment to him was that if wealthy blacks, or anyone for that matter, would finance scripts written by African Americans we would see movies with a variety of topics.  African American writers have many experiences to write about. You can bet that more than likely the topics are not about slavery.  Today's African American does not have personal experiences to relate regarding what really transpired during slavery.  So, why should we only write about the past?

The plots of today's stories, if given a chance to be produced and made into a movie, would be about family life, love stories, perseverance against the odds, success, failures, challenges, and victories!  The educator meant well to say that she was tired of movies about slavery.  But, not all the stories from slavery have been told.  It isn't a bad thing for some stories to come out that have not been told before. I also do not like to see the same theme in African American films.  It makes it seem as there is only one lifestyle or subject matter that is important to African Americans.  Diversity in stories and characters is what the movie industry needs.  That relates to any ethnic group.

I am tired of horror films and do not understand why Hollywood continues to produce them.  I am not tired of stories with interesting characters and plots.

On a personal note, I have written several screenplays that feature African American characters.  The scripts are not about slavery.  They cover science fiction, comedic, and drama based stories.  If that educator tired of slave movies runs across this blog, you're free to send my name to producers, etc. who are looking for a non slave African American written script!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Role of Government

What is the role of government in a society?  One of the basic roles is to protect the security of  the people.  Ensure the community or if widespread, the nation, is secure.  This impacts the government's policies as they relate to those outside the border of the nation or community.  We share the world, and cannot impose policies on others not under our government rule.

Governments must also provide or oversee the provision of basic services such as food, water, transportation systems and emergency services being provided to its citizens.  Governments must ensure the environment is protected.  We must take care of the natural resources that we have been made care takers of.  In protecting the environment government ensures that free services to enjoy the environment (parks) exist.  Governments should assist in developing systems allowing for self improvement of people at their own pace.  One example of this is ensuring an effective and cost neutral education system exists for the population to use.  Governments must also support the growth of humanity beyond boundaries and labels that we as human sometimes assign to each other or to groups within a society.  Our eventual growth to reach our full potential depends on human beings not being limited to being boxed into a set of behaviors and acceptable practices.

Why is government at times criticized?  Most times it is when government either doesn't do enough to provide basic services, or does too much and starts to force value based decisions onto the mass population. Then people feel as if their right to decide has been taken away from them.  Conflict arises and partisan politics begins.  It is the role of government to walk that neutral line that respects the fact that we have differences, but to understand that there are basic items that we agree with in terms of providing those basic needs in life that allow us all the opportunity to prosper as we so desire.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hunger In the United States of America

A writer writes!

I don't have a handful of statistics to support the next statement.  But, everyday many people in the United States go without food or eat the minimum to sustain themselves.  How is this so?  We see much affluence around us.  Commercials on television tout the extravagances of life in the United States.  Food is plentiful!  There are numerous stores just waiting for people to come in and purchase food.  Restaurants have staff waiting at the door to sit  and serve you.   Much food is wasted every day in households and restaurants across the United States.  So what is the source of the hunger?  Well, not everyone has a job that provides them money to purchase food.  Not having a job also is not always the fault of that individual.

 The worst part of going hungry is when it impacts the elderly, the young and those who are ill. The elderly should be able to live their late years in life free from basic concerns such as where will my next meal come from.   The young should be able to enjoy there formative years and live those experiences and have all the adventures that kids have as part of the growing up process.  Someone who is physically ill needs the sustenance of food to help their body heal.

Of course adults must do all we can do to prevent ourselves from getting into a situation where we do not have money to buy food.  Risky behaviors that take money away from the food budget must be avoided.  Whether that is gambling, drugs, or other human vices.  The shameful part of hunger is when it shows up even if you are leading the proper and righteous life.  Do we who are affluent have an obligation to help feed those who are hungry?  If they are in that situation through no fault of their own, I would say yes.  We should provide a means for those elderly, sick, and the youth to be provided food.  We can't expect those groups to be able to resolve their hunger problems on their own.  If family and friends do not come to the rescue, we should not just wash our hands of the situation then go have our five course meal plus a snack later.

So, based on that logic, I periodically give to charities that involve feeding people.  What I do consider first is if there are those in my family whom I should provide assistance to first.  Parents or other family members may at times need financial help.  Hunger in the United States is a reality.  Thankfully it is not to the extent where help is not available.  Despite knowing that  plentiful food  resources exist in the United States, we should not believe that there are people who don't need assistance.  We all need help in some ways.  If you have the means please contribute to the local community food bank, or to organizations that attempts to provide assistance to the homeless.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Butler" vs "Scandal" : Contrasts

A writer writes!

I'm still having problems reconciling the differences in the opening scene of the movie "The Butler" and the popularity of the ABC television drama "Scandal".  Both feature an element of a white man having sexual relations with a black woman.  In "The Butler" the white male "master" has sexual relations with the black wife of one of his slaves.  The black female slave has no choice but to reluctantly allow the white master's sexual advances.  The husband of the black woman in "The Butler" semi-confronts the white master at the behest of his son and is murdered for doing so.  In "Scandal" the white President has an extra marital ongoing sexual relationship with a black female who once worked for him in various capacities. The President supposedly is in love with the black female.  The black female character, Olivia Pope, is a willing participant in the relationship, to the point where she turns down the proposal of a black male Senator who wants to marry her.

I  wonder if the TV series would be as popular if the character of the President in the series was black, and the Olivia Pope character was white?  I do wonder what a black female who currently is a fan of the series would feel about the story line in "Scandal" if they first had to re watch every week the opening scene in "The Butler" of the black woman being used as a sexual outlet by the white slave master and then seeing the black male slave "husband" being murdered.

How do black males feel about the story line in Scandal?  One message of the plot  seems to be that if you are a successful black professional you are still a second choice option to a successful black female professional.  How do black males feel about seeing an attractive black female character being sexually ravaged by a white character?  What is the difference between the way the black female is used in the opening scene of "The Butler" versus how the black female is used in "Scandal"?

Some would say, it's not about white vs black, it's about love that crosses racial barriers.  Let's see, the character of the white President is married and has a child.  So, Scandal is a love story??  In "The Butler" was the opening scene where the black woman is used for sex a depiction of the slave master's love for her?  I don't think so.

"Scandal" to me is the story of Thomas Jefferson updated to fit the year 2013.  A powerful politician who is attracted to black women.  A fantasy/reality depicted on national television for entertainment purposes.  Yes, the "romantic" story line is only one part of the plot in Scandal.  But, it sends a message regarding choices and ignores the historical fact that years ago, black females (and maybe black males) did not have a choice to refuse the overtures of white slave owners or their wives.  "Scandal" in some ways romanticizes the abuse that black female slaves had to endure.  So, if you have not seen "The Butler" rent it and watch the opening scenes before you watch the next episode of  "Scandal".

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Issues and Options: Foreign Policy Needs to Become World Policy

A writer writes!

Our world.  We as human beings have in common the fact that we share this life, this planet, with each other.  It's not by choice.  It is just a fact.  Our governments' don't see each other as a family.  In most cases governments support the notion that we all live distinct separate lives from each other.  Some of our "lives"  benefit others while some of our experiences are only meant to benefit ourselves.  Our governments create geographic boundaries, and have created relationships with countries that distinguish "us" from "them".

To interact with other countries  governments' create a foreign policy.  That policy is a set of behaviors and actions that become the official list of acceptable and unacceptable behavior we as citizens of one country must have towards another country.  These policies are our rules of engagement. Most of us do not have the opportunity to travel regularly to other countries to learn for ourselves that people are people.  Customs may vary, food may vary, religious beliefs may vary. But, we all need food, water, and rest.  Our interaction with some "foreign" countries may be controlled by our government. Why?  In some cases there are people in other countries whose beliefs and feelings about the United States are clouded in hatred.  Those people are a danger to innocent people in the United States.  But those people should not be seen as representative of everyone in that country.  Unfortunately the views of those who would do harm onto others in another country, becomes the official viewpoint on the views of all citizens of that country. Lost is the fact that within the foreign country are people who don't feel negatively about the United States.

In the year 2013, we as an advanced civilization still result to combat and wars to resolve conflict. Diplomacy often is a last resort rather than a first resort.  Diplomacy, the act of interacting with others to talk, understand, and peacefully resolve a conflict should always be a first action.  One of the more difficult things to do is to empathize with someone you feel is the enemy.  What we are missing is that through empathy can at least come understanding as to why a conflict exists. From understanding can come possible compromises to reduce or eliminate the level of conflict.

War or armed conflict should be the last resort to resolve disputes between countries.  The world during the 20th century endured two World Wars which did not put an end to wars ever happening again.  War means that all peaceful methods have been exhausted and that the government of a country has chosen to stand firm on an issue.  At times the actions of a country's government forces the entire country into a war.  We need to realize that the actions of the government does not always reflect the will or consensus of the people in the country.  Over time the will of the people overcomes the government's foreign policies as is what happened with the United States involvement in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Nations on this planet need to start interacting as fellow human beings rather than the mechanical interactions of governments.  We need to stop seeing each other as foreigners.  Let's take the first step and start seeing each other as neighbors on the gigantic neighborhood of the planet Earth.  Put away the doctrine of "foreign policy".  Realize that we need to start the dialogue and journey to development of a World Policy that governs us all as human beings sharing the planet.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day "Celebration"?

A writer writes!

Columbus Day.  I recall as a young child celebrating this day in school as the day Columbus discovered America.  Little did I understand then that there already were Native Americans in what is now the United States when Columbus "discovered" America.  Little recognition or acknowledgement exists of the role of Native Americans as the first settlers in this country.  An entire culture was wiped out by "settlers" coming from across the ocean.  Families were destroyed, traditions lost.  The logic of the destruction of the culture of Native Americans was that the new settlers were far superior than the so called "savages" that inhabited the country. It was the evolution of the better species winning out.

From a nation of people who inhabited the country from shore to shore, we now find only a glimmer of the culture of Native Americans remaining.  The Stars and Stripes, the flag of the United States, does not recognize the existence of Native Americans as the original settlers in this country.  Would it be such a crime if the flag was modified to honor and give credit to Native Americans as the first caretakers of this country? It would not cost any money other than modification of the "official" symbol of this country.  Modifying the nation's flag to add something as a respectful testimony to the ultimate sacrifice of a race of people would be the honorable thing to do.  Columbus has his holiday.  What do Native Americans have?  Let's not forget the ultimate sacrifice Native Americans were forced to take so that another culture could assume prominence.

It would be the act of a great country to recognize that in achieving its greatness, some actions were taken that should be remembered solely out of respect for others.  Such recognition would not be an admission of guilt in any past wrongdoing.  It would just be an act that is long overdue.  Native Americans should not just be a footnote in an elementary school history lesson.  The willful annihilation of an entire race/culture is a significant event in world history.

There is discussion now about the name of a Washington D.C. professional football team being changed to delete the reference to "Redskins".  It's fine to delete that name.  But, let's go a major step forward and recognize the sacrifice of Native Americans by modifying the flag of this country to add some type of recognition of them as the original settlers of the United States.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day ? of Hostage Crisis

A writer writes!

I heard today that due to the government not being funded, the families of service members would not be getting death benefits!  I responded loudly to the television, "no way can that be true!"  Hopefully the lack of a budget isn't stopping Department of Defense personnel from doing whatever needs to be done to take care of the families in such a time of  loss.  Rules should not get in the way of doing the correct thing.

I sent a note to my Congressman, Susan Brooks, to get to work or come home and we can send someone to D.C. who will work to pass a budget. We often brag about America being the greatest country in the history of civilized human beings!  We stick out and beat our chest and look down on other countries.  But, I don't think the government shutdown exemplifies the greatness of our political and governmental system.

Some may call what is going on, checks and balances.  To me it's using a method that hurts the wrong people and doesn't exemplify the greatness this country attempts to embrace.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3 - Hostage Crisis: Government Shutdown

A writer writes!

Recall those eye catching headlines on news  shoes?  " Day 12: Crisis in Iran!" followed by the dramatic newscaster?  They were very catchy and full of doom and gloom.  Well, now it's my turn to proclaim this is "Day 3 - Hostage Crisis!"  This time the hostages are the American people who look to the United States government for leadership, action, and results.  The hostage takers are those suit wearing economic terrorists who call themselves "The House of Representatives".  It's not yet clear who they are representing.  How not passing a budget to get the government back to work is seen as "representation" is unclear to me.

Yeah, some of them are donating their salary to charity or not accepting a salary.  So what?  They likely planned for this instance ahead of time and stocked away enough money to survive not being paid.  Plus, it's not like all Congressman are homeless and depend on dollars from people dropping dollars in a bucket near a freeway ramp stop sign.  I have yet to see my "representative" Susan Brooks, indicate that she is either not accepting her salary or donating her salary to charity during this government shutdown.  What about it Susan?

I saw reports that there were shots fired near the U.S. Capitol.  For a second I thought maybe some fed up U.S. citizens were taking matters into their own hands. The sight of gun carrying citizens, lawfully carrying registered guns to make a point to Congress is something not too far fetched to think of in these days and times.

But, back to the hostage crisis.  Hopefully no one who will perish during these political shenanigans by Republican's in the House of Representative.  If there is loss of life, we need to hold those who have brought about this crisis accountable for their lack of actions.  Delaying funding of the government is not a creative problem solving technique.   If  "Obamacare" is at the center of this political challenge,  I challenge those who call themselves "Representatives" to put forth an alternate health care program that works.

Let's get this Hostage Crisis over with.  Do we need to send in a Navy seal team to get Republican's brains working?  Well, we survived a 25 day Hostage crisis in the Clinton administration in the early 1990's.  Let's see how long the patience of the American people will endure this time.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Remember the Government Shutdown When You Vote in 2014

A writer writes!

The House of Representatives kidnapped  the budget of the Federal government today.  Most Federal agencies are closed because they are not being funded to continue with their delivery of services.  The ransom desired by the House of Representatives is defunding of the so called "Obamacare" health care plan. Normally criminals who commit crimes are arrested, put into a jail cell, and sometimes allowed to bail themselves out pending a trial.  Unfortunately the kidnappers in the House of Representatives are being allowed to roam free and continue their "ransomic" actions.  Is "ransomic" a word?

I hope you return the favor to your elected Congressman who participated in this crime by voting them out of office in 2014.  You didn't send them to Congress to just vote no.  You sent them to develop policies to improve conditions.  Stomping your feet, falling to the ground, and screaming like a little baby because you can't have your way, is not public service.  Those are the kind of actions that are going on in this display of partisan politics which will not achieve its goal.

Those who participated in this crime should be ashamed of themselves.  Do they present the best that America can offer?  Fund the government so it can do what it can do.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What makes us One Level or more above Animals?

A writer writes!

An observation.  While walking through the local zoo, I noticed in the bird display that all the birds of one color were hanging together in one group.  There was no mingling of the different species of birds.  They all stayed together in the groups that looked like them.  The comparison of course is that to human beings whom also have the tendency to stay around other human beings who look like them in terms of color and nationality.
Of course there have always been humans who have crossed the color or racial barrier to begin friendships or marry those outside of our race or nationality.  Is that ability go beyond the "familiar" and expected relationships what makes us mentally a level above animals?  You sometimes hear about animals who are normally enemies, bonding together.  A dog with a cat.  A deer with a dog.  So, even with animals it is possible.

Rising above what is expected, and moving to a higher level is the ultimate challenge of human beings.  We can stay in our ethnic groups and isolate ourselves from others.  But will that allow for us to grow?  I applaud those who attempt to depart from the norm and who try to expand their relationships with people whom they are not accustomed to.  It is important that we all still understand where we come from before we advance to where we could be.  That knowledge of our ethnic history is part of who we are.

So, let's not become a civilization of people living in a zoo like environment.  Let's focus on trying to rise to the next level.  But....keep that historical knowledge of where we each have come from.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A call to public service

A writer writes!

The United States Congress, today's semi living monument to ineffectiveness, passed a bill to continue funding the federal government.  Unfortunately they packaged the vote in a bill that would  no longer fund "Obama care".

No new health care ideas were brought forth by Congress.  Just a vote to stop what is in effect now.  Is that kind of a vote public service?

It's time for a new call for public service. This call is only for those who want to actually propose ways to address issues and problems.  Those who just want to vote no and repeal laws without an alternative need not apply.

The new public service is for those ready to discuss and compromise. Getting everything you want is not the objective. Winning is not the goal. Helping as many people as possible is the goal of the new public service.

The new public service requires listening, talking, and sacrificing personal agendas. The new public service requires those elected to office being held accountable to produce results.  Bickering and grandstanding are not welcomed.

Hold your elected official to this new public service standard. If your representative doesn't respond accordingly, recall them and elect someone who will respond.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Leave the American Flag at Half Mast

A writer writes!

It's happened again.  This week another individual experiencing mental issues used guns to kill innocent people.  This time it was Washington D.C. in a Federal building under the U.S. Navy's control. Once again the government authorized lowering of the American flag in respect to those who were killed, innocent bystanders of the rage of a disturbed individual.  At this point these events are unfortunately becoming events that we're not surprised to hear about.  No "solution" has been found to prevent these events.  All of us now have to be vigilant regarding who is around us and expect the unexpected.

We know that a common theme of recent events is that the perpetrators of these killings have had mental issues.  These mental issues have been known of and in the most recent case reported to the police who attempted to inform Navy authorities.  The ability of those with mental issues to either obtain or maintain weapons they already have is a factor that needs to be examined.  Is their legislation existing now that can establish the necessary process to prevent or take away guns from those with a mental illness?  We know that anyone can find a way to circumvent a process.  But, at least we can try to save a school, a work place, or a public event from future carnage and lifetime damage to families.

Until we do, let's just leave the American flag down at half mast.  It would be more appropriate to engage all that effort and energy  to lower thousands of flags down all across the country into a thoughtful process to determine how to reduce these events from happening.  Let's honor the innocent by taking action to prevent future killings.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Black Man Attending Sunday Church Services

A writer writes!

I attended church Sunday morning with my spouse.  My wife is more into attending church than I am. We went to a later service than normal.  The later service had the expected ratio of predominantly more women in attendance than men.  At this service, the men who were in attendance were more in the under 40 year old range.  Most of the men in attendance were actually working (security) and other roles, versus being your average attendee.  The minister/pastor speaking was a male speaker.  

I always wonder why few black men attend church (or so it seems)?  And secondly, with the audience being more female, why aren't there more female pastors tending to the church members?  When the pastor giving the sermon was announced, he was greeted with a "rock star" emotional type response.  When he came on to deliver the message, his sermon worked the crowd into an emotional frenzy.  I felt out of place in the crowd.  The minister wasn't saying anything I hadn't heard or learned before.  Of course, my being over 50 years old is likely why the message didn't do anything for me.  Heard it all before, and have been trying to apply what I've learned constantly year after year.  But, the message was something those in attendance needed or had not heard before.

I politely applauded and acknowledged the pastor's sermon.  I looked around at the reaction of the females in the audience, and wondered why I wasn't feeling what they felt.  But, again, I've heard the message before, so I decided that must be the reason.  I did wonder how many of them would forget the message and not apply it once they stepped out the door.  Were they at church only to release emotions built up over the past week?  Would their behavior during the week be at its best? Would they return next Sunday for another emotional fix?  I left the church  pretty much in a daze.  I felt I could have used  my time better being somewhere else actually doing something positive with my time rather than sitting on my behind.  But, I guess church is supposed to be community time to praise God.  At least that is what I've been told.

I pray and read the bible alone.  Truthfully I get more out of my personal spiritual time, rather than being told by a church praise team leader to raise my hands, and clap my hands when he says so.  Do Black men not attend church because we do not like being told how to live our lives and run our family?  I don't think that is all to it.  Maybe we would do better in a church setting where it was mostly Black males in attendance with messages directed to what we need to hear?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Whatever Happened to the Afro Hairstyle?

A writer writes!

While reading several books regarding events in the 1960s, I admired the accompanying photographs of Black  men and women wearing their Afro hairstyles proudly.  The Afro hairstyle, distinctive, majestic and unique to African American people, with some non Blacks later attempting to copy it.  The Afro was a style which continued into the late 1970's and then started to disappear replaced by fascination again with straight, chemical induced curls, or weaved in long hair.

The Afro hairstyle was a fashion and social statement.  It was OUR hairstyle and we embraced it proudly. For Black men it meant no longer having to apply a lye like substance to our hair to get the "process" straight hair look.  We no longer needed to look like we had the hair of Caucasian males.  Our natural hair was "good hair".  Before the Afro hairstyle became prominent, I recall watching my older brothers have the "process" hairstyle applied to their hair to give them straight hair.  Or Black men tried to get wavy natural hair.  Before the Afro, natural hair was deemed as being bad hair.

The Afro hairstyle was freedom to just be ourselves and not to worry that we didn't have all the traits of other racial groups. Why did it go away?  The impact of entertainers moving to the infamous jheri curl may have been a factor in many teens and young adults leaving the Afro behind.  The Afro hairstyle has often been tied to the more aggressive actions of Blacks in America.  Maybe it was too visually imposing of a hairstyle to fit into the American mainstream of acceptance?

Of course, not everyone had the ability to wear an Afro.  Heredity often dictated how long you would have enough hair to wear an Afro!  But, while we could, we wore it proudly.  When I see young Black men now wearing pants that hang off their behinds, I wonder what pride are they displaying?  Maybe they should trade in the sagging pants for an Afro hairstyle?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We as People Are Bored to Death

A writer writes!

While peeking in to see "news" stories on local television stations, I came to this conclusion.  We as people are bored to death.  Hot dog eating contests, bungee jumping, zip lines, walking over the grand canyon on a tightrope are only a few stories that come to mind that I have seen depicted as "News".  Now what makes a person want to indulge in any of these activities?  I think many of us are just bored to death with our lives, so we create activities or try activities to defeat this boredom. Yes we have the right to make the choice to do any type of activity we want to do.  But, next time you enter that hot dog eating contest, think about maybe volunteering to work at a pantry stocking food to be given to the needy.  Or think about delivering food to those who are hungry and would love to be able to slowly eat hot dogs as a main meal.

I've heard about some drug called "Molly" that young people have become interested in.  The after effects of taking the drug have been found to be deadly.  I wonder if any of those students didn't find the challenge of having to pay back large sums of student loan monies as not being challenging enough?  What makes someone so bored that they need to try a dangerous drug to get high on life?

The cure to boredom?  Here is one suggestion.  Get involved in some type of volunteer activity that helps to i improve the lives of others.  Volunteer at a school, a retirement home, a hospital, help keep the streets in your neighborhood clear of trash.  Talk to that stranger in your neighborhood whose spouse passed away in the past year and whom you always see going for a walk alone in the morning.

So, before you attempt to set a record for devouring numerous ice cream sandwiches in 15 minutes, think about buying some ice cream sandwiches to give to those working in the heat of the day.  Just a thought.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Innocent Black Men in Prison? Why?

A writer writes!

Throughout the United States you occasionally hear about Black men being found innocent of crimes years after they were judged guilty in the United States court system.  Through DNA test, recanting of testimony, etc. many Black men have been released from prison in the past decade when the evidence showed that they were not guilty.  Their lives ruined, with no money being enough to make up for the life they endured in the prison system, they are released into society.

 For years there have been claims that the court system is unfair to African Americans especially Black men.  With all of the overturned convictions one would think there would be close examination of any verdict that imprisoned a Black man to life or death without undeniable evidence that they are guilty.  But, even in the year 2013, in this great scientific age where we can now walk around and communicate with each other verbally, visually, or in writing via a hand held device, the court system still suffers from personal prejudices of those who are part of the system.

For those cases where detectives, police, attorneys and/or an alleged witness lied to convict a Black man, the question has to come about, what was their motive to lie?  Racial prejudice, ignorance, hatred?  In a society where racial prejudice existed for years, how could their not be doubts that the judicial system in the United States is not fair to Black men?

Is there some common belief that Black men are evil and more likely to commit a heinous crime than other ethnic groups?  Is that profile and belief so great that it overwhelms the judicial system so a Black man stands a greater chance of not being given a fair trial?  Look at what images are presented of Black men on television, the movies, in video games.  Especially notice what images are presented of Black men on your local news shows.  Then ask yourself, if a crime was committed in your neighborhood and you were shown a photograph of a white male, a Black male, and an Asian male, whom would you suspect without even hearing of the details of the crime?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Distractions of Life

A writer writes!

Life presents many challenges.  After we face the more serious challenges, we want to be distracted from those serious moments and indulge in activities that distract us from the serious nature of life.  That is where sporting events, amusement parks, movies, and other forms of entertainment come into play.  Sometimes our entertainment focuses our energies and frustrations into the entertainment venue we choose.

Sunday, thousands of Pro football fans gathered in stadiums across the country.  All wearing similar garb and unified against a common foe.  Fun and games governed on the field by rules.

Our distraction serve a purpose.  A release from the serious part of life.  Entertainment, leisure, and a chance to maybe vent some inner frustrations or live out fantasies.  Sometimes we need to ensure that our distractions do not become our life.  We are here for a purpose and unfortunately it is not just to have fun.  So, after we work hard, then let's move into the distractions as our mental and physical release.  Don't forget to help out others, and sacrifice some for the benefit of others.  And yeah, when it's time to go into your distraction, have fun!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

World Outrage Over The Syrian Situation?

A writer writes!

The political drama continues over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  As more evidence comes out, maybe we will see more outrage and condemnation by countries around the world.  If countries are not outraged does that mean they support the use of chemicals against defenseless citizens?  One would hope that is not the case.  But, by now there should be a line of countries all standing in the "against Syria line". One hopes that Man's ability to kill ourselves in as inhumane a fashion as possible is not becoming something that we just accept.  I read about the slaughter of thousands of Jewish people by the Nazi's in World War II. I visited the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. that stands as an American testimony to not forgetting the horrible actions of the past by man.

In my own culture, Black people were lynched in this country often for no reason at all except the color of their skin. We've heard about "ethnic cleansing" in European countries.  So, the world is correct in taking action when these horrendous events happen.  To not do so condemns us to accepting such actions as just being part of who we are and what we do as human beings.

Be outraged and express that outrage via your social media outlets and to your governing officials.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saying No to Breast Cancer - A Tribute to Dawn Alvies

A writer writes!

Tomorrow I pay respects to Dawn Alvies, a woman of courage and faith.  Ten years ago Dawn and I sat in a fast food restaurant at my request to talk about a decision she had made.  Dawn had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had decided not to seek surgery as a cure, but instead put her future in the hands of God.  I expressed to Dawn my concern about being sure that God wanted her not to pursue the possibility of a cure through surgeons who were given their abilities by God?  Dawn calmly responded, that she would put her trust and faith in God, and not run to surgeons to cut on her body.

Time passed and Dawn and I changed jobs.  One day I saw Dawn struggling to walk in the hallway.  Then I heard reports that she was suffering due to the onslaught of the cancer.  Finally, I heard that Dawn was no longer able to walk and had been hospitalized for treatment.  Dawn applied for disability from her job which was approved.  I then awaited other developments fearing the worse.

Then one day I heard that Dawn was going to attend a health fair being held in our building.  I stopped by and yes there was Dawn walking around.  I could tell she was in pain, but she was able to walk.  After that we stayed in touch via email.  I invited her to my wedding, not expecting her to show up.  But, while standing in the reception line I was surprised to see Dawn in line.  She looked different and I could tell she was wearing a brace. But, she was walking and flashing the radiant smile she was known for.

We stayed in touch via email the next two years.  Each time she wrote she continued to sound positive.  I received the last email from her about two months ago.  I responded by asking her if we could do lunch one day.  She replied that she would see if she could put together a lunch with our former team members. I waited but didn't hear back from Dawn.  But, there would be periods in the past when I would not hear from her for months.  So, I figured I would eventually hear from her.  About a week ago I received an email that Dawn was in the hospital and the doctors had given her a few weeks to live.  The cancer reportedly had spread to her brain.  Either that same day or the next day I went to the hospital to visit Dawn.  She was weak and bedridden, but she was able to speak to me and give me the classic Dawn smile.  I departed reminding her that we still needed to do lunch.

Despite the doctors prognosis, I  expected Dawn to somehow prove the doctors wrong again and somehow continue to live.  But, last Thursday I received an email that she had passed away at home.  God has called her home and I can imagine her now smiling even more broadly at the amazing "life" she now has after being on this planet in human form.  I'm glad she no longer has to endure whatever suffering her body went through the past 10 years.  10 years of displaying her faith.  10 years  of courage.

She lived her faith and belief in God.  I hope one day to still have that lunch with you Dawn.  I will miss you.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From Foreign to One World

A writer writes!

Foreign policy.  The term itself paints a picture of all the inhabitants of the planet being contained in distinct boundaries that make us different and separate from each other.  Could that be why we can't get along? Is that why we are a planet of flag waving, patriotic song singing human beings?  You hear people saying "We're the best country in the world!"  If we are, then so what?  How does that statement benefit a country thousands of miles away?  How does such a statement bring unity to the world, a world which desperately needs a unified approach.?

We are all part of one planet, one world. That seems to be a fact that we do not recognize in the rush to nationalistic and partisan viewpoints.  Those who travel to various countries get a better appreciation of  people in real life.  They see that we may speak a different language and have different customs, but we truly are all connected.  It is my desire to travel the world to see face-to-face my fellow inhabitants of this planet in their home setting and culture.  Through interaction we can better understand and respect each other.  Only through actually seeing for ourselves that people in a "foreign" country really are just like us, will one day the label "foreign" be banished as an obsolete word on the planet Earth.

Let's all try to make the world a little smaller and less foreign.  If you get the opportunity to travel to other locations around the world, embrace the opportunity.  It is a chance to help us bring us to our true potential as human beings.  That being a world of inhabitants who respect each other and who want to take care of the one world we all share.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Answers That We Have Eliminated?

A writer writes!

 This world has many devastating diseases.  Some, like cancer, do not have a "cure" as of yet.  Here is a thought. Isn't it likely that our Creator provided us with all we need to deal with the illnesses and diseases that nature or our own bad habits produced?  I have heard about rain forests being destroyed in South America.  Unique vegetation has been wiped out as Man has destroyed the natural land to be replaced by some man made landscape.  It it possible that rain forests or other remote areas of the world, such as undersea plant life, contain the natural plants which have chemicals that are the cure for such illnesses as cancer?  Why would our Creator not provide for the means for us to take care of ourselves without needing the Creator's constant attention?

We live on a planet where we have been entrusted to take care of and act as good stewards.  But, do all of our practices ensure we take care of the environment, and ensure continued presence of clean air and water?  We were only given one Earth to take care of.  The only option for living arrangements would be to settle outside of Earth on another planet, or man made domiciles in space.  I doubt if we are that advanced to set up such living conditions for mass populations.

So, maybe we need to rethink destroying what we don't fully understand or appreciate.  If nature provides us with all we need to continue life, we need to respect and nurture nature more.  It would be ironic if the cure for cancer was in a rain forest that was destroyed.  Or if the person who had the gift to develop a cure for cancer was killed in one of the many armed conflicts the world has had in the past 80 years?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Reach Your Full Potential-Use Your Gift

A writer writes!

Each of us has been given a gift that is unique to only us.  It is a talent or a skill. We all have something unique about us. Hopefully you have found or have an inkling of what is your gift.  We owe it to ourselves to develop that gift and allow it to reach its full potential.  That means we have to spend time focusing on self development rather than focusing on the skill and gift that someone else has.  Idolizing someone else is not the way to develop yourself and your talents.  Your gift may be a raw talent that needs refinement. That means it will take time for you to fully master your gift so that it can be the asset to you and others that it was meant to be.

Don't be afraid of dedicating hard work to improve your self and to refine your gift.  Don't say years later..."I should have."...   Do it now!  Every day, work on discovering and refining your unique gift and talent.  Step back now and think about what are you doing to polish your natural talent so it shines as something positive in this life?  Don't spend time following others.  Follow yourself first.  Right now, think about how many hours you spend pursuing someone else's dream rather than yours?  Ask yourself the question, "Have I reached my full potential?"  If not, "What am I doing to use the gift that I have been given?"

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Where is The Moral Conscious of the World?

A writer writes!

The debate over the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government continues.  There appears to be much focus on what military response does the United States of America plan to take?  When I last checked a world globe there were other countries displayed on the goal beyond the United States.  Other countries should not shirk their responsibility and role as a co-inhabitant of this planet.  Other countries should be outraged and demonstrate that outrage.  Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Iran, Iraq, let's here you speak up about the outrageous use of chemical weapons against innocent people.  Don't just shout inside your house and then gaze out the window wondering what will the United States do to protect the world from such evil.  You have a responsibility too, so step forward and demonstrate through your actions a respect for people and people's right to walk in their neighborhood without having to fear chemicals raining down on their heads from above.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Images Over A Lifetime

A writer writes!

This being the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech, I reflected on images from the past.  The first occasion of possible discrimination I can recall was when I was in Catholic school in St. Louis, Missouri.  It was around 1965 and I may have been in the 3rd grade at the time.  Our class had gone to see some type of show at a concert hall in St. Louis.  I recall our class, which was predominantly Black, was seated in the balcony area of the concert hall.  Below us on the main floor was a class of white students.  They were being addressed by someone who had asked a question for them to answer.  I recall wondering why were we up in the balcony as I could see there was room for our class to be down on the main floor.  I also wondered why wasn't the speaker talking to and looking at us to make us part of the event?

I recall my brothers and sister laughing as on television a white reporter asked a black man if he had seen anyone in regard to an event that happened.  The black man responded, "No sir, I didn't see any peoples."  It was an image that a black man wasn't versed in proper English and had to say "sir".

Then there was the image of a television news report of a black man who had shot someone being cornered.on a roof.   From a police helicopter, gunfire rained down on the man's position on the roof.  More gunfire to kill him many times over.  The image made it look like it was definitely overkill.  It was if the police were making a point.

In my teen age years I recall hearing and seeing reports on news shows that there was a good chance that most Black males would not live past their 30s due to being victimized by crime.  For a teenager of age 16-17 years, it was not good news to hear that I might be dead in another 13-14 years.

Then there were positive images of seeing Black people on television proudly wearing their Afro hairstyles.  Seeing our culture depicted in a way we wanted it depicted.  Seeing Black people in movies in positive non subservient roles. Seeing Black men become Mayors of cities and becoming Congressman.  Seeing a segment of the Richard Pryor show on television depicting the various skin tones of Black women.

In 2008 there was the ultimate positive image of seeing Barack Obama win the Presidential election to become President of the United States.

Locally I recall images of Black high school young men completing a Beautillion program that provides them scholarships to attend college.  At that event there was no press, no media to cover the positive story.  Then I go home and watch the local news report of a disturbance at a mall where a black male has shot someone. It is the lead story.  I wonder where is the media when positive actions of Black people are occurring.  I wonder why aren't positive accomplishments of Black people covered by the news media, instead of the negative events.  It's all about images and which images the media wants us to have.

Try this out.  During the week note how many positive stories you see on television about Black people versus negative stories.  What is your final count for the week?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time for the World to Grow Up

A writer writes!

Reports of chemical weapons being used against Syrian citizens by the government of Syria has been filtering out in the past week.  History records a number of these barbaric acts of man.  "Ethnic cleansing", "the final solution", "lynching", are just a few of the phrases used from the past that describe one of the more evil abilities of man.  That ability is to kill, just because we can.

When will the world grow up from allowing these actions to continue?  Why have we not learned from the past that such actions are not the way to resolve conflicts?  It speaks to the fact that within some of us are evil thoughts where violence becomes the acceptable answer.  How can we rid ourselves of such thoughts? Well, the world and its inhabitants has to grow up and reach the promise that our Creator envisioned for us many years ago.  One day watch a frustrated child and what the child does if something doesn't work his/her way.  Often that child in frustration may violently react towards a game if it frustrates them.

Let's face the fact.  Their are millions of people who wake up everyday not acknowledging that there is a Creator who is responsible for their existence.  Instead it's all about us and how smart we are.  We march off in pursuit of wealth, and the material items that reflect our wealth and success.  Then there are some of us, who decide to terminate the lives of innocent people just because they can.  As with a child who needs a parent to monitor and correct violent acts of frustration, the actions of governments who use such barbaric "weapons" also needs to be monitored and corrective actions taken.  Those responsible need to face accountability until they show that they have grown up.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ignoring that we're all not thin

A writer writes!

If you watch much television and the movies, it's become clear that only thin people exist in this world. At least that's the picture television  and the movies paints.  Most of the main characters in the media are slim and thin.  You kind of wonder if "slim and thin" is a box that has to be checked before someone is hired for a job.

As a former HR manager and supervisor, I do recall noticing how those who were thin were perceived as being better qualified for a job. An "overweight" person automatically had a strike against them.

What would happen if we boycotted those television shows or movies that only feature thin people in them?
What would happen if we boycotted businesses that did not visually depict non thin people in their advertisements?

Maybe then television, movies, and businesses would recognize that being thin isn't the only acceptable way to look.  So, if you are not thin, stop one day and send a note, email, tweet, voice mail etc. to those media outlets that refuse to acknowledge  and respect that you exist.  Tell them that you will no longer patronize their business or watch their television show, or go see their new movie.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Black Males on a Predominant White Campus

 A writer writes!  I attended a reception for incoming minority Freshmen at the University of Evansville, in Evansville, Indiana yesterday afternoon.  I graduated from UE in 1980 after beginning my journey there in 1975.  In 1975 there were few black students attending the university.  There had been attempts to increase the numbers of black students at the school in the 1960s,  When I attended there were probably in the range of 70-100 students  who attended the school.  There were enough of us where we could establish friendships and not feel alone in the environment.

Yesterday, I only saw 2 black males at the reception.  I am not sure of the high school background they came from.  But I do hope they are not the only 2 black male freshmen attending the school.  When I attended the school I recall trying to organize the black Freshmen before I even attended the school.  I became active on campus in a number of organizations from student government to belonging to student activities organizations.  I had a chance to speak to the 2 freshmen at the reception.  My advice was to enjoy the experience, take advantage of what the school has to offer, and get involved in campus activities.  Most minority students are successful if they get involved in activities and express their views.

Hopefully the 2 black males are used to being a minority in numbers in educational environments.  Not having many friendship choices to choose from is something they can overcome.  But, I'm sure from my experiences, there may be some moments when they feel like a fish out of water.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Media Advertising Terrorism and Supporting Cowardly Acts

A writer writes!

 Yesterday, the media doing what it thinks is its job, quickly reported the incident in Georgia where a man terrorized a school full of students.  The man armed with a weapon or weapons reportedly asked a school employee to call the media to have them come and watch him shoot police.  The media reported the details of how they thought the man entered the school and then of course displayed his photo giving this deranged or cowardly person his moment of fame, which may be what he sought in the first place.

By this time the media has to know that they are supporting the goal of these cowards to get attention, become famous, and make their mark in the world by killing innocent people who have done nothing to warrant their murder.  Recently several of these people have resorted to the lowest of cowardly acts by killing small children and in doing so inflicting pain on numerous families whose only crime was wanting to send their kids to school to get an education.

The media needs to stop broadcasting these events and giving these perpetrators what they want, that being instant fame.  The media provides details of how these terrorists obtain access to buildings helping future perpetrators develop their plans.  Then the media displays the photograph of the killer, as if we really need to see who they are.  What is the purpose of displaying their photo and advertising terrorist acts for others to copy?

I believe there should be a moratorium on the media rushing to cover these cowardly acts of terrorism.  Just report the facts without making it a Hollywood production.  No visual coverage of the scene is needed. No photographs of the coward committing the acts is necessary. Stop giving other cowards the road map for developing plans for future acts of terrorism.  Media, can you not see that you are educating cowards and those with mental issues on how to inflict terror on innocent people and get attention in the process?

Media, you are being used like a roll of paper towels.  Those behind the camera, and the microphone...you are helping killers achieve their goals.  Think about that as you pat yourselves on the back for a "good job" in covering a story, while inside some home somewhere parents, husbands, wives, friends are grieving over  the loss of a loved one, who's story you have publicized and romanticized.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Deleting "Black Men" from an Organization's Title?

A writer writes!  I currently belong to an organization that prominently features "Black Men" in our organizational title.  There is some discussion that we should delete "black men" from our organizational title. The reason being that our mission is somehow changing and that being "black men" is no longer either relevant or is unnecessary.  But, I beg to differ.  I joined the organization because of the mission that was focused on attending to the needs of black youth who needed adult black male role models. There was and remains a need for positive adult male role models in the lives of young black males who often do not have a male figure in the household.

So, the discussion on deleting "Black Men" from our organizational title has me perplexed.  I'm sure I will have the opportunity to express my opinion.  Number one, doesn't the need still exist to have black men be role models and mentors to black youth in many communities?  If so, why delete "Black Men" from the organization's title?  Does the organization believe that having "Black Men" in our organizational title make us less effective in gaining members or funding from donors?  Our organization exists to serve a specific purpose and that again is being role models and mentors to young black men.  If potential donors or possible volunteers are turned off by "Black Men" then those donors or potential volunteers truly must not believe in the mission of the organization.  Let them move on to other causes that fits their desires to assist others.

It is true that the clientele that our organization services now includes Latino students and a few Caucasian students.  But, our mission is specific and clear.  To provides services to those ethnic groups we would need to modify our curriculum and activities so they fit the needs of other ethnic groups also.  That would then modify our mission and make us a generic "We are the World" mentoring/role model group which we have never aspired to be.

When there are no longer Trayvon Martin's being profiled, and people no longer fear a  Black Man walking down the street, then there might not be a need to have "Black Men" in an organization's title. But, for now...the need continues.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Distractions of Life

A writer writes!

In our human existence, there are many, many distractions that keep us from focusing on our spiritual relationship with our Creator.  Those distractions, the pursuit of material things being prominent, become our focus.  Gaining material wealth becomes our only goal, not living the life that our Creator wants us to live.  The images placed in front of us via the visual media, and printed media are primarily displaying material wealth and material objects as the definition of being successful.  Having expensive items somehow relate to success in life.

We are taught this from the early years in our lives.  It is incumbent upon parents to ensure that your children understand what is truly important in life. Children already deal with peer pressure from early days.  It is up to parents to help children understand what is truly important in life.  We need to ensure that our children understand that the pursuit of material things is not our sole purpose and not why God created us.

Uniting us all as God's people and allowing us to do His will is the ultimate goal we should all aspire to reach.  Can you imaging a world, where we are truly all brothers and sisters united to serving our Creator?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tracing Your Family History

A Writer Writes!  I attended a family reunion in Houston in June of this year.  African American families may be challenged to track our ancestors due in large part to the slavery system that existed in the United States that brought Africans to this country.  We often can track ancestors back to the late 1880s.  Many African American families know by the pigmentation of their skin that somewhere in the family chain a white person was part of their family tree.  Whether it was a forced or consensual act that brought two racial backgrounds only history knows.

I do not know of anyone who can track their family history back to Africa.  It would be great if we all could do so, to understand where we really originated from.  I have begun an effort to track my family history as far back as I can.  I'm curious where the road leads to.  I do recall my grandfather on my father's side had a light complexion.  So, the curiosity is there as to where in my family line was there a connection with someone of the Caucasian race.  If you haven't begun an effort to track your family tree, give it a try.  You will be learning something about yourself in the process.