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?"