Saturday, November 28, 2015

In Memory of My Dad

My father died early morning on Thanksgiving Day.  There was some symbolism to his passing on Thanksgiving.  To me it was an expression of being thankful for 85 years of life. Thankful for the opportunity to experience and see a range of events.  As a teen he lived through the World War II years and even joined the military towards the end of the conflict.  He survived the 1950s when the civil rights movement in the United States began to flourish.  As he was growing up black men were typically referred to as boys and worse. He was a black man in his 30's during the turbulent decade of the 1960s admiring Dr. Martin Luther King.  My dad did what he had to do to survive with a wife and a family of four.  My dad survived the antics of a racist society to live 85 years. He lived to see the election of the first Black President of the United States and a Black family in the White House.

Eighty five years.  That is more than 3-4 lifetimes of the black men police have murdered in the past few years.  Murders recorded on video tape.  So I am thankful he was not the victim of that negative aspect of the American police justice system.

Health wise, the last 10 years were not the best for him.  As we get older the facts of life are that the body starts to break down.  Eventually our life in our human form has to come to an end.

My Thanksgiving thoughts were that I am glad that I had a father whom I could see.  Some men go through life never meeting their father, or their father may have passed on early in life.

My earliest memory of my dad may be of when I was around 6 years old.  It was Christmas Eve night/early Christmas morning.  I awoke to the sounds of someone in the living room area of the second floor apartment we lived in.  I walked in and discovered that there was a tricycle by the Christmas tree and my dad and mom were near it.  I think that was my first inclination that maybe Dad was Santa Claus.  My father loved to barbecue.  He enjoyed cooking ribs using a charcoal grill.  He continued that art well into his 70s before finally retiring from his rib master duties.  I recall his Santa Claus yawn.  "Ho, ho, ho!" he would yawn anytime during the year.  I or one of my brothers would say, "Santa Claus is here."

He didn't have the benefit of having a formal education that would open doors to him in this world.  So he survived through old fashioned hard work.  He would wake up early, especially once he retired, and start being busy.  It's a trait I've inherited from him.  Even when he came to visit me and my sons during the Fall season he would spend time outdoors raking leaves.  His legacy continues in the many grandchildren he has.  His legacy continues in me.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

ISIS and the reasons for the violent acts

A few weeks ago, I was going about my mundane daily tasks when I saw a news report about organized coordinated violent acts in France.  The locations were non political in nature.  A theater, a cafe, a stadium.  A group called ISIS was credited as being behind the violent acts.  I have wondered in the past what is the agenda of this group? In this modern world I sought an answer through search engines on the internet.  "Political objectives of ISIS" was my search question.  In response came a 42 page article from the magazine "The Atlantic". Among the information presented was this comment.  The actions of ISIS reflect a "...carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse."

That is a pretty sobering objective.  Let's face the facts.  A suicide bomber is determined to give their life as a means of promoting the objectives of the group.  A suicide bomber is dedicated to taking the lives of others.  Only the failure of the bomber's equipment will prevent mayhem from occurring.  I have yet to hear of a negotiator talking a suicide bomber away from carrying out their mission. Bombs, gunfire, kidnapping/beheadings and planes have been the instruments of destruction for terrorists over the past 14 years. Who knows what upgrades they have in mind?

Their apparently is some religious fervor behind the beliefs of ISIS.  A July 5th 2014 delivery of a sermon by an individual is quoted as being a significant event in the elevation of ISIS into a major player in world terrorists events.  Allegedly, ISIS rejects peace as a matter of principle.  ISIS allegedly hungers for genocide.  It's hard to refute these allegations based on the actions of the group that it has taken credit for.

I do wonder if ISIS is an extremist group, why don't the mainstream Muslim groups come out fervently against ISIS and their methods?  Why are "traditional" Muslims allowing ISIS to be the image of Muslim religion that dominates in the media?

Violence attracts attention.  ISIS has received the attention of the world. Now it is the world's turn to respond to ISIS.  A response that goes beyond military action is needed.  Educating people to the true positive points of the Muslim faith is needed.  There is a need to ensure that people do not automatically think that Muslim = jihad.  Muslim does not automatically equate to suicide bombings and beheadings. Muslim is not equal to violence.  So Muslim community, help us overcome the negative images presented by an extremist group.

Until then, for those who travel overseas or even those here in the United States we have to pause.  Do your research and see who/what have been the targets of ISIS.  Where have they attacked?  Who have they attacked?  Then be vigilant if you see that you are someone, or you are going somewhere, that  might be the target of a future act of violence.  Surely the intelligence organizations of the United States and foreign countries have developed a profile of high risk targets for ISIS?

There is no need for the United States to continue with announcements that promotes itself as being the greatest country in the world, or the best country in the world.  Sometimes those boasts attracts the wrong type of attention.  Attention needs to be paid to those who are joining ISIS from countries around the world.  Individuals who feel abandoned within their own country or alienated within their society are turning to ISIS.  People are giving up on peaceful co existence.  We need to pause and understand what we are doing that is alienating people to move into a lane of violence.

If ISIS does not want to dialogue about issues we only have one response.  That is the typical response of violence that has existed since human beings were created.  It is our flawed response to a flawed situation.  Maybe violence will never cease.  What we can do is understand the underlying reasons to the violence.

Monday, November 16, 2015

When Parents Take Kids Along While Shopping - Comedy

As any parent knows, shopping with kids can be a nerve wracking adventure.  You try to avoid the drama, peacefully.   You start off with the kids at home. You get them together on the couch.  You bring out the diagrams and flow charts.  The message is clear.  YOU are going to the store to buy stuff.  THEY don’t have any money, don’t even have a job.  So YOU are not going to buy THEM anything.  You’re taking them with you because you don’t trust their ass to behave while you’re gone.  So they are coming with you.  No discussion.  Shut up!  Let’s go!

Then you get in the car and while driving you remind them again.  This time in stronger language so it will sink in.  Don’t touch shit.  Don’t ask for shit.  Don’t look at shit.  Don’t think about shit.  Just walk behind me.  Questions?  Shut up!

So you get in the store and what happens?  The kids start touching shit and grabbing shit.  Then they have the nerve to bring you boxes and ask you, “can I have this?”  You look at them confused.  Because you are sure you told them at least twice not to ask you about buying anything for them.  Then you ask the question, “What did I tell you?”

So then your mom gives you the job of pushing the cart to keep your ass from wandering off bringing back shit you can’t have. Now you don’t want to push the cart. So you’re driving crazy, knocking into stuff, not watching where you’re going.  Then you make the mistake of running into the back of your mom’s heel.  Mom reacts naturally and you find yourself on the floor of the store with your brother counting over you….4, 5, 6, 7.  You stagger up before you’re counted out.  Yes, mom has connected with a vicious left hand back slap that has floored you.  Your brother is laughing his ass off.  Until mom gives him the death star look and shuts his ass up.  After that martial law is in effect and you know not to say another word or mom will leave your ass at the store.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Unplugged From Being Forced Fed The "News"

The local news stations typically begin every program with a "Breaking Story" by line about the latest murder and shooting in the city.  Positive news for viewers to begin their work day!  Negative information is news.  That is the media's viewpoint.  Murders and shootings have priority over most other stories.  Video to accompany the story is a must. Most times it's dark footage taken at night or early in the morning.  The media knows that a daytime video is less eerie and scary.  So set the proper tone.  Get the night time video, even if no one is around to talk to.

Next, find the most uneducated person you can and put them on camera.  Build up the image of uneducated people in crime laced neighborhoods killing themselves.  Give the viewers something to look at and shake their heads to so they can say, "Glad we don't live in that area!  How can people live like that?"  Then they can begin their day having been fed their portion of stereotype visuals for at least the morning.

What the news does not do is present any ideas being worked on to decrease the violence.  The news does not show the other side of the story.  Positive stories of people who have turned away from violence and are now doing constructive things with their lives.  All is not hopeless as the media depicts.  All is not a violent society.  Everyday the media begins with negative stories because that is what they do.  Negativity is how the media earns a living.  The more terrible the story the more dramatic it is.  And that is what the media specializes in, drama.  The news is reality TV at its best.

My reaction is to unplug from watching the news.  Once again I control what the media can tell me and when.  I decide if I want to turn to the news for a weather or traffic report.  If I want to hear the negative news I will turn on the television.  What I now refuse to do is simply turn on the television and simply sit there allowing the news to bombard me with continuous negative stories.  It's time to take control.  We should not allow our smartphones and television control our lives.  Don't allow information to be pushed out to you.  Take control of what you let into your lives.  Change the news by sending a message that you will not listen, watch or read the news until the caliber of the stories change. Unplug from the nonsense being thrust at you.