Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Right Here...

There was a time when I automatically thought the police were the good guys.

I guess it was probably back in elementary school. You know, sitting in D.A.R.E. class, singing the cool anti-drug song, competing for cheap prizes; the police seemed cool back then. Cool guns, cool uniforms, just all around cool.

It's funny how things change as you get older.

The police went from protectors to predators as I aged. Maybe that's not the case for everybody, but it's true for me and far too many other people. Our fantasies of Officer Friendly tend to fade into the ether shortly after we realize that no fat white man delivers gifts in the 'hood.

I was thinking about the police and their role in our society recently after I read this article about some truly heinous police behavior in Pennsylvania. The story talks about the corruption and abuse that reigned in one small town police department, and how it ultimately may have cost one man his life. It's a chilling story.

Chilling, but, sadly, not surprising.

Protect and serve is a lie that sounds true. Seriously, how many of us truly believe that the police are here to protect and serve our interests? I'm not saying they don't protect and serve somebody, but I don't think it's me and you. At least not most of us. I think the police were created to protect the interests of the wealthy, and while they may at times protect the poor, working and middle classes, their ultimate job remains the same. Protect those with the most to lose.

When you examine things from that angle, it all makes sense. It makes sense why the police so frequently profile certain communities, it makes sense that they selectively enforce certain laws. It's not about service or true protection. It's about establishing a protection racket where all of us pay for pseudo-protection from an armed group that closely resembles the thugs they are supposed to be battling. A group given the right to make split second decisions about life and death by the same people who they may kill.

The entire system is built on trust and ignorance. I guess you could call it ignorant trust. Most of us are ignorant about how police departments do their jobs, and thus we are operating on blind trust that they will do what's best for all of us. And this is despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

What happened in that small Pennsylvania town may sound heinous and somewhat unbelievable, but really it's not that different from what happens all over this country everyday. Too often police officers are rapists, murderers, liars, thieves and worse.

Even those that are "honest" still have serious issues. Many of them have warped and twisted the law all while justifying their behavior by telling us it's what keeps us safe. And like sheep, we allow ourselves to be herded towards a future where the group with the guns will rule completely over those of us who are unarmed.

That right there pisses me off, and it worries me. The whole operation troubles me, just as any situation with an obvious imbalance of power concerns me. I can see which direction this enterprise is tilting towards, and it's not pretty.

It's not pretty for any of us.





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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

back soon

short break back soon
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Y'all

A baby was born, only God knows when

His purpose was clear, to eradicate sin

He hung, bled and died, upon a wooden cross

While His mother and friends cried, the world trembled with loss

The story doesn't change, neither does the gift

For in three days He rose, and healed an ancient rift

There is no Christmas without His sacrifice

Though the world has made Him a vice

Family and peace are great to cherish

But without embracing His love, they all will perish

When you stand among the wrappers, this year's gifts exposed

Remember the love, remember the pain, remember the holes

The ones in His hands that match those in your life

Don't embrace Christmas, without finding Christ.




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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Everywhere Y'all







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Monday, December 21, 2009

Going Out and Coming In

Strange what we don't learn.

Recently, I was shocked to learn how many adults didn't know how to create and manage a budget. As an official graduate of CBU, or Cheap Bastard University, I've been keeping some sort of budget since I was a little kid. My pops recently told me I've been tight with a dollar since I first learned what dollars were.

But, like many married folks, I've learned that different folks have different strokes. I've had to teach my wife about budgets and budgeting, about comparison shopping and many other financial matters. Honestly, it's still a work in progress. From what I can tell, this is a common battle in marriages across the country, since financial strife is one of the main causes of divorce in this country.

I thought about this on two occasions recently. The first was while sitting in a pew at church and listening to my pastor beg young couples to come to him for counseling on money matters and other issues before they considered divorce. He noted that he was no financial guru, but he understood how to put together a simple budget showing revenues and expenditures. Seems this a lost art.

The idea of a making a budget also came up on a news program about some elementary and middle school kids being taught financial life skills. The kids were given pretend money and then asked to run a computer program that showed them how to make a household budget and pay bills. Seemed like a useful class in my opinion.

What is puzzling, at least to me, is the fact that so many people are having to turn to folks other than their parents to get basic financial advice. I learned about checking accounts and interest from my parents, who learned from their parents and their mistakes.

I wonder what it says about our country that this basic information is not being passed along by every parent to every child. Does that mean most people have no idea how to manage money? Does that mean they don't think this is valuable information to pass along to their children? Or, does it mean that kids just don't listen?

Actually, it's a little of all three.

As a parent, I know that children don't listen and it starts young. As a former child, I know I often thought my parents had no idea what they were talking about when it came to lots of issues. So yes, I'm sure there are some parents who try to give their kids financial advice and find themselves rebuffed.

Yet, I've got to believe the real problem is parental ignorance about finances or wariness about sharing financial information with their children. I grew up in a family where we talked about money. How it was earned, how it was spent and how it was saved. My parents weren't financial wizards, but they understood that man who doesn't have a decent understanding of the basics of money management is headed for disaster. But, I've learned that some parents are leery about sharing their finances with their kids, or they themselves have developed poor financial patterns.

For those with poor financial patterns, it's an uphill battle with little shortcuts. But, for those folks who just don't want their kids all up in their business, you need to get over yourself. You are your children's model. If they don't learn about negotiating interest rates or balancing a checkbook from you, where will they learn it?

Like my pastor, I'm shocked that people don't realize you can't spend more money than you make. I mean, where the hell do folks think money comes from; a tree in the backyard? (I sound like my parents with that one...) When did paying your bills on time and not overspending become so difficult? Maybe it's always been difficult and I just never noticed.

I'm not saying I'm perfect when it comes to money management, but I think I'm prudent. Plus, it seems like most of the marital arguments over money should be easily resolved, but can't be fixed because people have such different ideas about what is an acceptable lifestyle.

Some folks believe that life is unbearable if they aren't able to do most of what they want to do whenever they want to do it. Others believe that life is about sacrifices and choices. When these two people meet, there will be problems.

Problems going out and problems coming in.






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Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Questions, Come On, The Questions...

1. Why do white racist have so many black friends?"

Because the black people don't know about it?


2. If America is post-racial, why do I still see so much racism?

Are you wearing your colorblind contacts? Now, isn't that better?.


3. Honestly, why do all the black kids sit together in the cafeteria?"

I don't know. Why dont't you ask all the white kids at their tables?


4. Why are you so focused on race anyway? We're all humans.

Cool, can you tell that to this loan officer and the cop waiting by my car?


5. Are all black people as angry as you?

Do you talk to all black people


6. Say, can I touch your hair?

I don't know, are we in a zoo?


7. Why are black people always blaming everything on whitey?

You got a better suspect?






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Friday, December 18, 2009

Mic Check

Skip the lights and cameras, I stay on

Got y’all queueing up to get your minds blown

Christmas time so I'm dropping jewels

Pity the fools that miss these tools

The rest of y'all, “Take that, Take that”

Like I was Diddy

Enjoy the lyrical "Massacre"

But, don’t call me Fiddy

My mental “Magic Stick” is a billy club

Intellect “So Fresh and So Clean”

This Big Boi don’t need dubs

But, I’ll take a little love

Always gonna need that

Clinging to my lioness and cubs

Eff a Tiger chasing cat

Oh Big Man, why you go there?

Why not? Let’s be clear

That cheetah gets no pity

Inkspot, fishing for love

In an ocean of pale titties

Just like Moby Dick got slain

Golf’s pet Tiger found pain

Next time he’ll remember, the power of names

Guess he Cablinigga now,

Matter of fact, always was…

What up cuz?






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Monday, December 14, 2009

You Should Know Better

Take some time and check out this story.

Bunch of interesting things to discuss there, so let's get cracking. I'll tell those of you who are link averse that the story is about a North Carolina city councilman who is having to fight for his job because he doesn't believe in God. Now, go read the article so you understand what I'm about to talk about.

1. If you read the article, you'll notice that Councilman Atheist is quoted as saying he's really not that interested in contemplating the existence or non-existence of God, and definitely doens't think that is relavent to his job as a politician. While I agree with the latter sentiment, I have some problems with the former.

Let's be clear. It's impossible to be an atheist and not contemplate the existence of God. If you're an atheist, which this guy is quoted as identifying as, then that means you've thought about whether God existed and decided you are on Team No God. That's fine, it's your life. But, don't insult my intelligence by telling me you don't even think it's worth considering. That means you think I can't think logically or read for comprehension.

I don't know if this was a mistake made by the reporter, or Councilman Atheist, but somebody plainly thought it would be cool to minimize the importance of God, while at the same time taking a stance that God doesn't even exist. Agnostics can claim they don't really think about whether God exists, atheists cannot. Atheists have made a choice. Man up and stand by your choice.

2. The article notes that many states have crazy laws on the books that conflict with the Constitution, and that people have to go to court to see them abolished. Am I the only one bothered by that?

I mean, isn't it possible that someone could decided to re-institute the institution of slavery based on some obscure state law, and force a lengthy court battle before they would be required to free their slaves? Sure, that's unlikely, but 30 years ago the Internet was unlikely.

Maybe I'm tripping, but I find it ridiculous that there are scores of stupid laws lingering on the books that permit people to do mischief. The article says state legislatures don't have time to work on removing those laws. That's bogus. If they have time to pass proclamations recognizing random rappers and sports teams, they have time get rid of laws outlawing fellatio. Seems like a much better use of time to me.

3. Final point here. What type of black person is pushing for people to be barred from public office over something like their belief in God? Seriously, wouldn't that seem like a red flag to a black person whose ancestors previously could't hold office because of their skin color?

I know, I know, skin color is not the same as atheism. That's true. But, at its core, this law basically punishes those folks who are minorities and prevents them from fully participating in society. And not because their actions have a real affect on people's lives because atheism ultimately is going to be a problem for you, not me. I mean, you could make the flawed argument that atheists make the world a worse place, but really, there are a LOT of people who make the world a worse place, and I don't see them being barred from public office.

This just seems like an attempt to punish folks who think differently. Matter of fact, I wonder how these Christians would feel if the tables were turned and there were laws barring Christians from holding public office. Actually, I don't have to wonder how most Christians would feel since these same people already complain that they can't pray in school. (Although, that must be a white thing because every public black school I have attended included prayers in every ceremony. Every, single, one.)

Seems like a black person would intuitively grasp the problem with taking a stance punishing a vulenerable minority, but I guess some folks are just oblivious like that. Strangley, the dude leading the charge was a former director for the NAACP, so you would think he would be more sensitive. Then again, I've heard people say that the NAACP is one of the most conservative black organizations in the country.

I guess folks just don't know better.






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Thursday, December 10, 2009

About That Stroke

This cat whose website I visit said something interesting the other day.

Preaching is masturbatory.


Made me take a step back and consider. We were talking about whether it's important to craft a message that most people can understand and use. I'm of the mindset that it is, he's of the mindset that it's more important to craft a message the feels good to you. He said he's about message creation, not preaching, so he's not really concerned with sparking action or changing minds.

Then he dropped that quote.

I've listened to many sermons in my lifetime. Both in church and out. I've seen folks frothing at the mouth about all sorts of issues from the deeply religious to the deeply secular. Preaching is more than just talking about God, it's talking about anything with an amazing zeal and a desire to change minds and hearts.

But, is it masturbatory?

I had my own internal idea of what masturbatory meant, but I decided to check out the dictionary definition to get something as well. Here's how the folks at Merriam Webster defined the word:

Masturbatory
1 : of, relating to, or involving masturbation
2 : excessively self-absorbed or self-indulgent


No doubt, that describes certain preaching by certain preachers, but I don't think it encompasses the whole genre. Sure, there are cats who might as well whip out Mr. Willy and stroke him up in full view of the congregation when they are giving their sermon, but I've also seen many other preachers who can touch you with their sincerity and desire to reach people.

See, when I think of preaching, I think of spreading a message. Spreading a message so fervently that others find themselves compelled to learn more about what you're discussing. The best preachers are not trying to make themselves feel good, they're trying to direct you towards something they are convinced will make your life better.

Of course, that doesn't mean that preaching doesn't make you feel good. I don't know exactly what preachers feel since I'm not a preacher, but, I have an idea. I know how I feel when I've discussed certain issues with folks and I can see them finally "getting it."

Watching that light bulb go off feels good because you realize you've succeeded, and also because you know now there's one more ally in the fight. I remember breaking down the racist way ESPN handles sports news to a couple of homies, and watching them go from laughing off my concerns to slowly nodding their heads was a big moment. Sure, it makes me feel good, but just because something feels good doesn't make it "excessively self-indulgent." That's a whole different ball game.

Masturbation is an event solely designed to please one individual. Preaching is a different kind of stroke.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just a Little Self Love




Hat tip to the homie Denmark Vesey, with a secondary shout out to poster Crystal Was Chosen.




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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And The Beat Goes On

Sitting in the pew Sunday a little surprised.

Pastor is really agitated. Seems like there is some trouble brewing in God's House and, like most preachers, he's addressing it directly from the pulpit. Calling folks out for being divisive, for being gossips, for being close-minded. Then he's apologizing if he offended anyone without knowing it. Looks like some real mess popped off the week my wife and I were away from church visiting family.

So, I'm sitting there wondering why church people love mess, when my pastor really lets loose. He's talking about men leaving their families. He's calling on young couple to come to him for counseling before their marriages implode. He's begging the church to rally around each other and be the support we all need.

Now, I'm listening for real.

My married folks know what's up. It's not until you join the fraternity that you realize what really goes into remaining a member of MFL (Married For Life.) The fights discussions, the yelling loud discussions and the illogical debates talks about feelings. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I firmly believe that while you can prepare for marriage before you exchange the rings, you really are not going to understand what it's about until you're knee deep in your first argument with your wife. As you're standing there trying to decide if a jury of your peers would really convict you, then you'll realize the truth.

This thing ain't for the faint-hearted.

Tiger Woods and his marriage are in the news. Before him, Michael Jordan, and Bill Clinton and Kobe Bryant all took their turn in the infidelity and marriage limelight. (Look how I through Bill in with the brothers. At least he's still the first black something...)

I'm not here to justify Tiger's adultery. Nor am I here to pile on more insults. It's not that I don't see something wrong with Tiger's behavior, I do. Nor am I overwhelmed with sympathy for his public flogging. Homeboy should be able to handle it. Yet, I also can't work up too much anger for what he did mainly because I'm always sad when I see a marriage flame out. Whether it's the marriage of a billionaire golfer, or the marriage of a young church member, the pain still exists.

Life is hard for married couples. Sometimes, when I'm particularly down, I wonder if Paul had it right when he said it was better to stay single and celibate than tie yourself down to the ball and chain forever. Then again, I would be a lying fool if I thought I was going to stay single and celibate. I ain't built like that.

I'm always astounded at the folks who maintain thriving marriages without the use of God. I know for me, my faith and my commitment to God is one of the main reasons I'm willing to stay married when it seems like it would be easier to let things fall apart. For folks to handle the trials and tribulations without the massive rock I depend upon is admirable.

Often, it seems like the idea of melding two individuals into one married working unit is idiocy. Two people, often with very different worldviews, are going to join forces to do battle against the wiles of the enemy, all while trying to figure out how to stay enamored with each other? And raise children? We might as well jump the Grand Canyon on a mini-bike since we're shooting for the moon.

Yet, despite the grim news about marriage statistics, folks still make it. Couples grow old together. They grow old and HAPPY together. Even if they can't learn to love each other's faults, they manage to learn learn that the benefits they get from their union far outweigh the costs. They learn that there is beauty in marriage, there is strength in preserving a union. Eventually, they learn that it was all worth it.

Because the beat goes on.




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Monday, December 7, 2009

And All The Trappings...

My little brother sent me a news article the other day.

It was about this cat who ran a Ponzi scheme, and was spending his last few months of freedom stuck in his $10 million Manhattan apartment. The guy'sscheme was similar to all the Ponzi schemes that are being exposed these days; he took people's money and promised them a lot more.

See, Bernie Madoff may be most recognizable thief in the financial world, kind of like Jayson Blair in journalism, but he's far from the only scam artist operating. Every week I get a report about large and small Ponzi schemes being operated by smooth talking, suit-wearing, older white men.

Clearly the 00s were a con man's paradise.

Anyway, the story my brother sent me ran in Vanity Fair and kind of profiled this guy, who was a lawyer and who managed to steal several hundred million dollars. The old guy, Mark Drier was his name, used Vanity Fair's national platform to explain how he got caught up in trying live the lifestyle he and everybody else wanted him to live, but that he couldn't afford on his regular salary. Basically, he stole because other people expected him to be a baller, and he wanted to meet expectations.

The trappings of success.

The Bible says that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are the Devil's three main ways of tripping up all mankind. I think if all of us take a few seconds to ponder those three categories, we can see that almost all sin is related to them in some way. Better yet, if we scan the daily headlines, we can see real life examples of how they work.

What's surprising is that despite our knowledge of how we will be attacked, so many of us still fall victim to Satan's schemes. I imagine him laughing at how the same old tricks manage to confound every new generation of mankind. He's like a wily old pitcher throwing a knuckleball. You know it's coming, you have some idea about how it works, but yet you still can't handle it. Swing and a miss sucker.

The dude in the Vanity Fair article admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong, but said he just felt like he needed all those things to be successful. The house in the Hamptons, the foreign cars, the property, and all the other trappings of wealth. He needed those things like junkies need smack.

I wrote a blog a few months back about the plague of materialism in our world. It doesn't appear that things are getting any better, despite the recent recession that should have made us all reevaluate our lifestyles. Instead of people changing their lifestyles, they're just finding more and more creative, and often illegal, ways to get more things. Everybody is so caught up in what they have, they aren't paying attention to what it takes to get it.

It seems like the trappings of success often are really just a trap.







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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Word Is Born

“But if I feel powerless in society, if I feel like I can’t get a fair shake from my government, and feel cut off from my neighbors, it affects how I live my life. Small disagreements and indignities that you may otherwise brush off as insignificant can enrage you, and can in some cases lead to violence and murder.”


Sometimes Truth just smacks you in the face.

BAM!

"Wake your stupid butt up and recognize, son. This right here is Truth, and if you wanna get your mind right, it's time to recognize."

Damn, don't you knock Truth?

"Dawg, what I look like knocking? This is my house, you just a renter.

Straighten up sucker, it's about to be hectic. You think cats been dying, you ain't seen nothing yet. Obama can't save you and even Jesus might let you rot. They told you that if you the poverty and healthcare things would be cool. They claimed that if you just built more prisons and hired more cops, everything would be perfect.

Guess what? They a damn lie. And that's coming from the Truth"

I don't get it Truth, what are you talking about? You come in here slapping folks, and spouting gibberish... What's really good?

"Do I have to spell it out for you dummy? Check the hyperlink again, read the words of the egghead. All that jive lames been spitting about why cats keep killing is bogus. The conservatives are wrong, and the liberals ain't right.

According to this world class egghead from Ohio, all of y'all are missing the point and falling short. As an O.G. from Baltimore once said 'You want it to be one way, but it's the other way...' Ya'll want it to be simple and specific, but it's bigger than that. "

How big Truth?

"Bigger than you can handle Chump...

It's about belonging, it's about trust and it's about confidence. Even Ray Charles and Helen Keller's baby could see that all three of those things are in short supply these days.

Truth be told, for black folks they've been in short supply since forever, but that's another story. The point is, if folks ain't trusting and believing, they gonna be killing. Get it?"

I think so. But, why take the word of this egghead? Every egghead got a new theory, why you so sure about this one?

"Cause I got eyes. My eyes work well. Truth been feeling this way for a minute, but didn't have the words to express it. I didn't have the facts to back up my feelings.

But my guts been bubbling, and it ain't because of those collard greens my momma cooked for Thanksgiving. I could see the other explanations were too small, but I couldn't see why. Now I see it.

If folks don't buy in, they gonna start feeling like their life and the life of everybody else means nothing. Poverty can make you opt out. Drugs can make you opt out. Racism, anger and depression can make you opt out. But the real problem is opting out. Cats are opting out every day, and that's why they dying."

So, what do we do Truth? How do we create that belonging?

"Boy, my name is Truth, not The Answer. That little dude is back in Philly, and I doubt he even cares about what we talking about since it's time for him to start balling again. Cross 'em over for me Bubba Chuck!

My bad. Bottom line, I ain't got the answers, but I do recognize the truth. Once the truth is exposed, it ain't but a matter of time. I gave you the truth, now you do your job. Got it?"

Word.


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Tinseltown's Tyranny

Y'all see the clips for this new movie starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon? I believe it's called "Invictus."

I haven't read anything about it, just saw the trailer a few times, but I've already made up my mind about its gist. Yep, I was able to glean the entire point of the movie from a few 30-second trailers.

White people save the world, again.

I don't know anything about South Africa's rugby (thanks Darth) team, but from what I do know about South African history and the movie business, I think I can make some accurate guesses. The movie will focus on the period right after Nelson Mandela took office as South Africa's president following the decades of horrible apartheid. It will show how he struggles to move his country past its brutal history in the face of resistance from a small minority of evil whites and black folks bent on revenge. He will also combat corruption and incompetence by black folks.

To move forward, he will lean on a white rugby player and his teammates who will serve as symbols of virtue and perseverance for the country. The players will initially be concerned about playing for what is now a "black country" but will overcome their prejudices, learn to love their fellow man, and possibly get some nookie. (Not black nookie though, that would be too much.)

Morgan Freeman will provide us with some great, if general, Mandela quotes designed to inspire without challenging the status quo and we will all go home happy about the world.

The End.

How can I be so sure about the way this movie will play out? Well, let's just say I've see it all happen before.

I'm what you might call a connoisseur of "White People Save The World" cinema. It doesn't matter that "Invictus" was partially masked as a movie about a black hero and a black country. I could tell immediately from the incredible amount of time Matt Damon spends on screen during the trailer that this was going to be another movie about the glory of white folks. I have a special sense about these things.

Not to mention that Morgan Freeman, the Magical Negro to rule all Magical Negroes, is one of the co-stars of the movie. When was the last time you saw a Morgan Freeman movie where he wasn't a Magical Negro? I think you would have to go all the way back to "Brubaker" and then he was the Crazy Negro, which is basically the Magical Negro on steroids. Freeman has driven Miss Daisy, he played a milkmanesque God to Jim Carrey's Bruce Everyman, and he was the HNIC when the world ended thanks to a meteor. If you need a Magical Negro, Morgan Freeman is who you call as long as you don't have any fertile, young granddaughters hanging around.

It was really smart of them to market this movie as a way of giving us the story we didn't know. I mean, don't most Americans already know all there is to know about Nelson Mandela and what he went through? I'm sure Mandela'sstory has been the focus of dozens of movies. Who needs that rehash when there is a better story about white people saving the world. That's the real story no matter what the circumstances may be.

Isn't it amazing how you can find examples of white people saving the world in every situation in world history? I wonder how the rest of us managed without them. And God forbid they should die out one of these days, or go off into space, the entire social structure would collapse. Good thing we have Hollywood to remind us of exactly how wonderful white people are, or we might get restless and take them for granted.

It's good to know who is the master of our fates and the captain of our souls.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

W.I.K.

Wisdom. Information. Knowledge.

I was listening to NPR on the way home from work the other day. There was a segment on the show about Charles Darwin's seminal work "On the Origin of Species." The piece was noting the anniversary of the book's release, and also discussing how the text was circulated in 1859 when it was written.

Apparently, back then books were very expensive and hard to acquire. Consequently, most people couldn't buy them individually and instead subscribed to traveling library services that charged an annual fee. The service was compared to a modern day Netflix.

Anyway, the NPR program went on to discuss the fact that despite the fact that fewer books, and therefore information, was available to people, it was still easier for a layman to educate themselves enough to speak intelligently about a variety of complicated topics. It was also easier to stay abreast of newer developments.

This was interesting because, as the program noted, today it's much easier to access information on any topic. Everyday brings news about topics like astronomy or biology or chemistry, and all of these breakthroughs are explained to large audiences through the Internet or television. The abundance of information available to people today is much easier and cheaper to access. It would seem logical that people would be more informed today, not less informed.

The program theorized that in the past it was easier to become an expert because new developments were explained with less jargon and didn't require the same degree of technical expertise to understand. Here's what I took from that:

Information is everywhere. Knowledge is limited. Wisdom remains rare.

Those key principles seem to define life in the Information Age. Despite the fact that more information is available, few of us ever become knowledgeable through this information, and even fewer of us learn how to turn that knowledge into wisdom

One of experts featured on NPR noted that most people feel horribly out of their depth when asked to systematically assess information and form an opinion. Typically these folks gravitate towards people who promise to simplify things and bring them the truth. Basically, folks are always looking for someone to trust.

That's a dangerous position to be in, but it's also understandable. The world is a confusing place once you decide to think. As long as you close your mind, the world is simple. When you start thinking, things get really complicated. It makes sense that people would seek ways to clarify the world, but it's important to look in the right place.

Y'all know I look to God and his Word for my wisdom, but my knowledge and information come from everywhere. I trust myself to be able to apply the filter I've chosen, the filter of Christianity, to the the information I receive, and then gain some knowledge. I think it's important to understand what our filter in life is, and to understand how you apply it to the things you experience. If you don't even realize you have a filter, you're in trouble.

Filtering information is the only way to gain knowledge. We must decide what factoids are worth holding on to. Filtering knowledge is the only way to attain wisdom. We have to realize that knowledge is only useful when we understand how to use it.

Wisdom is the key. Without it, information and knowledge really don't matter. So, how do you get your wisdom?



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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gratitude

Thank you.

Two words, millions of feelings.

A blog post about giving thanks might seem trite this time of year, but sometimes trite is necessary. Just like taking the time to tell your wife "I Love You" while on vacation in Jamaica; sometimes the little gestures reinforce the obvious.

I know I don't tell the people that matter thank you enough.

I say it to the cashier at the supermarket, to strangers who hold the door open for me. When I change lanes, sometimes I say "thank you" to the people who let me in. But, I realized the other day that I don't say it enough to my wife, my family or, most importantly, to God.

But, it's not just the frequency, it's the feelings behind the words that are important as well.

A rushed "thank you" to God while I drive to work is really sad. A sarcastic "thank you" to my wife after she's spent all day running after our children is quite stupid. Gratitude is in the heart and while human beings have designated two words as our way of expressing gratitude, it's our actions that do the real speaking.

How grateful am I for the life I lead? To who do I express my gratitude? Am I taking my blessings for granted?

All of us should ask ourselves these questions regularly and we should give thanks just as often. It shouldn't take a special Thursday in November for us to express gratitude.

That's an everyday thing.






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Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm A Good Guy, Right? RIGHT!

If you were able to conduct a worldwide survey you'd find that the vast majority of human beings thing they are "good."

Most of us define good pretty simply. Good means, "not as bad as that guy over there." The anonymous guy we compare ourselves to varies depending on the situation, but invariably, all of us can find someone who makes us look "good."

I was thinking about the shifting definition of good the other day during a argument discussion with my wife. We were talking about some of the things most married people talk about, and it came to me in a flash that we just had different ideas about what was "good." What she finds unacceptable, I often find "good," and what I find trifling, she thinks is no big deal.

I remember one argument we had about cleaning. I was complaining about her failure to do an adequate job. She was noting that she had spent hours working on the problem, and didn't need to hear from me that her efforts were lacking. After all, she asked, who decided I got to say what qualified as "clean." I wanted to say that everybody knows what "clean" is, but in a way, it's all relevant.

This concept applies to more than just cleaning the bathroom or cooking dinner. All of us walk around with different ideas about what is acceptable behavior and what is beyond the pale. It's no surprise that it's so hard for us to find a consensus on equality or racism, there are millions of different opinions in this country alone about what those words truly mean.

One of the things I'm constantly amazed about in life is how each one us carries around our own self-contained world in our heads. Although we share the same Earth, it's like there are actually 7 billion Earths because each of us creates our own world every second. People complain about the strife that dominates human civilization, but when you really think about it, it's a miracle there isn't even more violence.

Let's be clear, I'm not arguing that there aren't some definite agreed upon values that are "good" and some values that are "bad." This isn't one of those calls for everybody to just do whatever feels good. For Christians, we've agreed that the values of the Bible and God will be our values. We have a template, a set of standards to adhere to regardless of what we think.

Many of you who are not Christians have your own personal tenets that you hold dear. Hopefully you're willing to live according to those values even when it's easier to cast them aside.

However, I think it's foolish not to understand that many of our values are the result of a consensus that didn't exist 50 years ago, and may not exist 50 years from now. To a certain degree, we recreate "good" and "bad" everyday based on the values we choose to adopt and follow.

Just something I was thinking about while fighting loving my wife.










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Thursday, November 19, 2009

This Again

Death is a constant.

One of the preachers at my church likes to remind the congregation that ever minute you're living, you're also dying. Every day brings us closer to our last breath, and none of us know when that last breath is coming.

I'm reminded of that constantly.

I see death all the time at my job. It's just a part of the fabric of what I do. I see the mangled bodies, I see the bloodstains and I see the families left behind to cope. Typically, I see the broken, black families left behind to cope.

Emphasis on the word black.

I believe that far too much focus is placed on black pathology in the media. However, that doesn't mean that I'm blind to the fact that black communities, particularly working class and poor black communities, have some real issues.

As one lady told me recently, "It's a war zone out here."

I hate harping on the violence. I'm sure most of y'all are tired of hearing about it. But the violence won't leave us alone. It's a parasite, gradually getting bloated on the underbelly of our communities. Eventually, like many parasites, it's going to kill the host.

It's time for a purge.

I watched this mother cry about her children. I watched her wonder what more she could have done. I watched her tears, and I felt the pain coming off of her body in waves. And I was powerless to help.

It's a terrible feeling y'all. Just a terrible feeling.

Pain should be personal. But, when your children are gunned down in the street, your pain become public. Your horror is part of the spectacle. How do we amplify and disseminate that pain to the masses to make them understand that something has to happen? That it's going to take the entire village of the United States of the America to heal what ails our youth. How do we do it?

Anybody know?





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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I Stay Raving

People ask me "Big Man, why you so angry? Why you name your site 'Raving Black Lunatic'? What do you have to be angry about? It's a new day."

You want to know why I'm so angry? You really want to know?

This is why I stay angry.

Man, click that link if you have the time and patience. I didn't even finish the story before I had to write something. I couldn't hold it in anymore.

The link goes to a Time story about two black men who lost a sizable chunk of their lives to prison because two white prosecutors decided to frame them for a murder a white man likely committed. And now the men want to see the prosecutors punished through a civil suit and they are being told "Tough cookies, you can't sue prosecutors. It would cause too much of a hassle."

Blanket immunity is almost always wack. It's wack that police officers get blanket immunity from civil suits if they claim they were just doing their jobs, it's wack that the federal government gets blanket immunity, it's wack that vaccine manufacturers get immunity. Blanket immunity is a license to abuse others in my opinion and far too many institutions with racist track records have blanket immunity.

So, I stay mad.

People getting shafted tends to make me angry. It bothers me when I read that prosecutors basically picked some black folks off the street and decided they should go to jail.

Or how about this story in Ohio? I remember reading about this case a while back, but seeing it again just reminded of how much of a hassle it can still be to be black in America. These people were denied running water for decades simply to remind them that no matter what, they were niggers.

So, I'm a Raving Black Lunatic. Not because I like it, but because that's just the way things have to be for me. I can't be anything but angry when I see people mistreated and abused simply because of the color of their skin, and then have to listen to other folks downplay the importance of these injustices. I have to say something. I have to let my anger out.

Now you know.



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Monday, November 16, 2009

Holla We Want Pre-Nup!

What does marriage mean to you?

I once told my wife that before I started really getting serious about marrying her, I never thought about marriage. I mean, I considered it in passing, you know as something I definitely wanted to do one day, but I didn't spend much time pondering what marriage was all about. From what I can tell, this is pretty much standard procedure for most men. We aren't conditioned to spend time day-dreaming about marital bliss, instead we're taught to avoid it as long as possible.

With that said, I always knew that when I got married, it was a forever kind of thing. When I proposed to my wife, I prefaced the actual proposal with one last discussion about how we both had to be committed to marriage for it to work. I didn't want any misunderstandings about what marriage was going to mean for both of us.

However, one thing I never considered was a pre-nuptial agreement.

According to the link I posted, pre-nuptial agreements are all the rage these days, and I can't really blame it on that damn Kanye West. From what I can gather, it seems that a lot of folks view pre-nups as a safety net to keep their marriages on track and protect themselves. You know what I think about that?

They need Jesus.

Nah, seriously though, they might want to check with the Big Guy if they want a safety net. Because I'm pretty sure that little piece of paper is not going to make anybody's marriage any better, and it probably won't even make your divorce easier at least according to the article.

It used to be that folks got pre-nups if they had a lot of money to protect. Now they're using them to make sure that coitus is regular and that the trash is emptied on time. Seems like pre-nups are the new nagging. If your partner isn't acting right, all you have to do is hold up the pre-nup and say "It's in writing."

Yeah, like that's gonna work.

News flash folks, you can't make grown folks behave. Ever. Adults are not children. You can't punish them, or spank them. You pretty much have to ask them nicely and hope for the best. If there is one lesson I've learned in marriage it is that God alone has the power to create change. Any time I try to handle God's work, I just wind up frustrated.

People who think pre-nups will prevent marital headaches are fools. It doesn't matter what's written down on paper, it matters what's in your mate's heart. If they don't want to behave properly, the pre-nup is not going to make them.

Personally, it just rubs me wrong to be entering a permanent union while at the same time planning your exit strategy. It strikes as defeatist. But, hey, what do I know.

I actually got married in the first place.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Fido? Fughtabouit...

How many of y'all consider yourselves eco-friendly?

You worry about your car's gas mileage not because it costs you money but because it's better for the Earth. You recycle regularly, you pick clothes based on their impact on the Earth. You ponder your family's carbon footprint. You are a good Earthling.

Now, if that describes you, answer one more question for me. Do you own a dog?

If you do, then I want to direct your attention to this story.

Seems that according to this study, you and your little furry friend are destroying the world. I know you thought it was enough to have your little mulch garden, but apparently if you really cared about Mother Earth you'd be eating the dog, not taking him for walks.

Frankly this story cracks me up. I don't have a serious post, I just find it funny. I have a friend who is an avid dog lover and when I forwarded her this link she was coming up with all sorts of reasons why it was bogus. Dissecting the sources, analyzing the methodology. Now, if I send her a link about how people with dogs live longer, she just takes it at face value and tells me I need to get a four-legged freeloader myself. Hell, she even threatened to buy my kids one as a "surprise" one Christmas.

I would have had to kill her.

Anyway, before y'all get the wrong idea, I don't hate dogs. In fact, I had some serious love for the furry bastards back in the day. But, nowadays things seem to have taken a turn towards the absurd. Doggie clothes, doggie spas, doggie everything. I mean, dogs are the distant cousins of wolves, do they really need heated beds and gourmet dog food?

I wasn't surprised when I saw the news about dogs killing the world because most folks dote on their canines like other people dote on their children. So, dogs are like poorly trained babies who poo and eat more.

And they are ruining the world.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Talking and Walking

I have a conondrum.

Is it hypocritical for me to give a speech calling for other folks to do something that I myself often fail to do?

I'm not going to be chastising folks. Rather, I'm going to be offering advice on a topic based on my understanding of the Bible and God. Yet, I know for a fact that I fail to display several of the character traits I'm going to be discussing.

Consequently, I'm now wondering if it's hypocritical for me to even discuss this topic and advise other folks since I haven't demonstrated the willpower to get my own life in order.

I've been tapped to talk about ethical behavior in the workplace at an upcoming program at my church. Now, I'm not the worst employee in the world, but I'm not even close to the best. While I try to do my job most of the time, I've been guilty of some shady decisions here and there.

So, I feel a little funny about telling other people how they should behave. It's kind of "Do as a I say, not as I do" situation, and I hate those. Is it enough to try to do the right thing even if you're failing? Or, ultimately, is the standard that you have to be living right before you start telling other folks how they should live?

Can I start talking if I'm not walking?




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Friday, November 6, 2009

That Dang Word

It's been building for a while.

I notice it during conversations and it makes me cringe. Sometimes it gets my attention while I'm listening to classic music.

I shrug it off. It's nothing. I must be getting siddity or something. Can't have that, I ain't never been bougie.

But, it comes back. Messing up my mood, forcing me to think.

Sometimes, and I know this is a shock to those of y'all who read regularly, I don't want to think about why I'm doing something and what it means. Yeah, it's a rarity, but sometimes I do like to kick back and go mindless. Just let my brain hang like my nuts.

But, it won't let me.

I know the history, I know the problems, but I always figured they were overblown. I could handle them, nobody was going to make me kowtow to popular opinion. Besides, the cats pushing this meme are almost always wack. Some old incense burning, tofu-eating, "You are my black queen" cats. Or those old prune-faced, stepping and fetching folks who never have anything good to say about black people period. I like reading as much as every other egghead, but I don't drop reference to Fanon in everyday conversation.

But, it keeps eating at me. I see cats doing it, and I get a little upset. I know it ain't my business, hell I do it too, but I still feel like there's a problem. I ask myself why I do it, and I can't really come up with a plausible reason. My highly sensitive BS meter keeps going off, and I hate when I make my own BS meter go off.

So, why am I still using the word nigger?

It's one thing to use it to express racist sentiments. It's something else to refer to "That nigga down the street" or "That nigga with the gold teeth." And even though I know the argument is bogus, I still want to spell the two words differently, like that makes a difference. It doesn't, nigga is what cats with bad diction say when they mean nigger. Period.

But, it's a security blanket. I've been spitting it from my lips since the tender age of six. It's so versatile, so comfortable, like a perfect pair of sweatpants. Why I gotta change, why I gotta do this?

Yet, I do have to change. It's time man. I'm going to have to break the habit. The Lord has blessed me to make exponential progress when it comes to profanity, and now I feel like it's time for nigger to go as well.

Imma miss it though.

Peace, niggas.


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Where You From?

Man, I stumbled across this article over at Prometheus 6, a great place for links to useful information for those of y'all unaware.

It seems that the cat who won the recent New York Marathon was American, a rare feat. Only, he wasn't American enough for some folks.

Get it.

If you read the article, you'll find that the gentleman who won immigrated to this country from Eritrea when he was 12, so genetically, he's from East Africa. However, he grew up here, learned how to run here and did all of his training here. He's a naturalized citizen and has lived here in America for 22 years.

But, for some folks that still doesn't count.

The article mentions that the United States, and white Americans, used to dominate distance running. Then East Africans showed up on the scene and things changed. As the article notes, this new culture of losing drove white folks crazy, and they decided that the only reason the Africans could be winning is because they have special "running nigger" genes.

Cute.

It's amazing how when white people are good at sports, nobody assumes it's because they have good genes anymore. Maybe back in the day that was the argument, but now all you hear about is the superior work ethic and intelligence of the white athlete. It's funny how when white Americans were dominating distance running nobody thought they had some special genes that gave them an unfair advantage. Nope, they were just good, not genetic freaks.

The sad thing is that the cat who won the marathon has been in this country for two decades and he still doesn't count as an American. Apparently it doesn't matter how long you've lived here, all that matter is that you're the right color for the job you're doing.

It ain't where you from, it's what you look like.


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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm Waiting

Waiting for the rants to begin.

Waiting for the angry blogs and comments about how certain people just don't have any gratitude.

Waiting to hear about how hypocrisy seems to know no color.

Waiting to see slurs and protests and people throwing up their hands in disgust at "those people."

Basically, I'm waiting to see all the white folks in Maine treated the way black folks in California got treated a few months ago now that gay marriage has been repealed in that state.

I'm waiting.

Good thing I ain't holding my breath.

I wrote about this during the initial backlash regarding the defeat of Prop 8 in Cali. I pointed out that some folks were a tad bit too willing to start slinging around slurs and insults once they didn't get their way. I noted that black people were being scapegoated by gay rights activists, and I wondered why that seemed to come so easily.

So, now I'm still wondering. Gay marriage was repealed by the citizens of a "liberal" state despite overwhelming support by politicians and the media. Yet, I don't see the citizens of this state receiving the same level of hatred and scorn as my colored folks down in Cali. And like a friend of mine noted, I'd be hardpressed to get an all black 5 on 5 run in Maine. Really, really hardpressed.

I see people upset and I see them disappointed, but I don't see the same level of vitriol this time around despite the fact that this is the same sort of defeat. It seems like without the handy-dandy Negro as a convienent scapegoat, people learn how to deal with anger constructively. They avoid widespread generalizations and promises to "hate back."

Seems these folks understand self control, they just decided not to practice it when they were angry at black folks.

I've already made my position on gay marriage clear on this site. I don't think the government should be refusing these people the right to marry. I think the claims that this will be a detriment to hetereosexual marriage are really appeals to people's willingness to selectively apply the word of God. So, while I view homosexuality as a sin and think God intended marriage to be between a man and woman, I don't the United States of America is any position to be trying to enforce the will of God.

That said, I, like many black folks, have always been aware of the undercurrent of racism in the gay community. Black folks may be paranoid, but that often helps us recognize our enemies. And the truth is, most of the gay folks pushing for gay marriage weren't friends of black people. Period.

So, when folks tried to pretend that the backlash from the gay community towards black folks in California was justified and sensible, I knew what was up. When folks were acting as if black people "owed" them something because they helped elect President Obama, well I really saw the truth. I peeped game and named names. And I'm doing it now.

If you chastised all the Negroes and let us have a piece of your mind back then, but now don't see the need to behave the same way now, then I'm guessing you're a racist.

And I'm waiting to hear you admit it.


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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Been a Little Light

I know postings have been a little sparse around these parts, and I do apologize.

Life and work have intruded on blogging, and often times if I don't have something I really want to say, I just don't say anything. But, I wanted to let y'all know I am working on it, and hope to get a little more regular with my posting again.

That said, I have something new I'm working on. I've been inspired by my blogging buddy Deacon Blue to start thinking about writing a science fiction novel. I figure I've read enough science fiction books in my short life that I should be able to figure out how to write one.

Anyway, I wanted to run some of the core ideas of my book by the blogging world and see if y'all think it sounds too far-fetched or crazy even for the Sci-Fi world. And I'd like to get some feedback from y'all on what you think would happen to the world if this actually happened.

Here goes:

Imagine you go to sleep one night and the world is fine. People tuck their babies in, husbands and wives copulate, things are pretty normal. However, when you and everybody else wake up the next morning, something terrible has happened.

50 percent of the world's population has died overnight.

That's right, there are roughly 3.5 billion dead people in the world. And, the death isn't spread evenly. It appears that women were two times more likely to die than men, and Caucasian folks also had a higher death rate. So, the world is now overwhelmingly male and colored. Previously white stronglholds, like America and much of Europe, have seen massive power shifts overnight. Some Scandanavian countries have become sparsely populated ruins.

I'm planning to write a story roughly 50 to 100 years after this event. For the past few weeks I've been thinking about what those two core changes would do the world. I've playing around with the idea of whether women would see their power increase as they became more rare, or whether they would see their freedoms even more constricted.

I've thought about how minorities across the world would react when white people become an even smaller minority, particularly in areas that have been white dominated. I'm also planning to introduce some more magical elements to The Event, but that's not what I want y'all's help with.

I'd like your feedback on how you think the world would change if 50 percent of the population disappeared overnight. What would things look like?

Thank y'all in advance.


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, The Horror!

Was watching CNN on Thursday.

This dude Jack, don't know his last name, was ranting about that gang rape in Cali. (Which reminds me. Does anybody know when it became cool for anchors to stop being objective? Rick Sanchez is freaking ridiculous. I was just wondering.) You know the incident where a 15-year old girl was raped by nearly a dozen men.

Anyway, Jack was pissed because according to police, folks stood by and watched the girl get raped, and some might have even joined in. Jack tied the actions of bystanders in this case to the failure of witnesses to come forward in the Derrion Albert beating incident in Chicago. He then wondered when we became a nation that watched while people were raped and beaten.

Hmm....

Might I refer CNN to the Lynching era and Civil Rights Era of American history.

From my vantage point, Americans have been pretty good at ignoring rapes and beatings for some time, especially when those rapes and beatings involved black folks getting brutalized by white folks.

For centuries, black people were severely mistreated and abused by a portion of the white population, while the majority stood on the sidelines and said "Not my concern."

See, while I believe racism was pervasive in the past, I understand that its most brutal aspects weren't things discussed out in the open. That's why the Klan and other domestic terrorism organization handled much of their business at night, and why they liked to wear disguises. That allowed the general public to pretend they didn't know what was going on, or who was responsible.

But, they did.

They saw the people of this country being mistreated and they turned their heads. They watched women being beaten and raped, men being castrated and lynched and sometimes they even cheered. They cheered and had picnics.

I think what happened to that young girl is horrible. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. But, as I've said before, this rush to pretend that what's happening today has no parallel in history is ridiculous. Humans have been the same savage creatures since we were created.

This ain't nothing new.



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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Is That?

The jeans were so tight.

I wouldn't have been able to walk in them. The pants weren't exactly a second skin, but they looked pretty uncomfortable. They required mincing steps that were almost feminine.

Yeah, I'm talking about the jeans on a man.

It was Sunday morning. The young man wrapped snuggly in denim was walking down the center aisle at my church. To complement his skinny jeans, he'd selected some of those bulky tennis shoes kids favor these days, along with a snug and short jacket. No boxers were actually showing, but it wouldn't take much for them to be exposed. Not much at all.

My first thought was "What the hell is that?"

Next thought was "Is that what's passing for church attire these days?"

Finally I realized, "Why do I even care?"

I'm glad I got to that final thought. I'm not going to say I still didn't think the young man's clothes were a tad improper, I did. Later on in service I gave a side-eye to a young lady rocking a sundress that showed a lot of thigh and cleavage. But, I didn't dwell on those things like I might have in the past. I didn't silently condemn them for their dress. I noted that they had made choices I didn't agree with, but I then forced myself to acknowledge that I don't have to agree with the choices of other people.

Man, that's progress for me.

I think I've mentioned before that I have this urge to impose my view of the world on other people. It's not so much that I have to control their actions, but I feel like even if I can't make them do what I want, I can make them acknowledge that I'm right.

Marriage has shown me the depths of my stupidity.

Now that I am trying to eradicate my idiotic tendencies when it comes to my wife, I've also been attempting to do the same for other folks. I'm trying to walk that tightrope between staying true to my own beliefs, while not using my beliefs to condemn others. It's a very difficult task.

Which brings me back to the clothes. The Lord knows I've worn some pretty shady clothes to church as a youngster, and you would think that would make me more accepting of the stylings of today's youth. But, often I'm not. It seems that I view the young me as this bumbling idiot who should be pitied and avoided, not held up as a some sort of guiding standard. I know this is wrong, yet it's still a challenge to resist this impulse.

I still ask "What is that?"





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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bedtime

Little Big Man was sitting on my lap. It was bedtime and he'd been lotioned up and we'd just finished reading his bedtime story.

The little guy was sad. We'd just had it out earlier because he claimed he wanted cereal for dinner, but when I gave him his bowl, he did more playing than eating. I tolerate a lot of stuff, but I don't tolerate wasting food. It just wasn't allowed in my house growing up, and even today it's like I can see the actual dollars attached to the food being tossed out.

Little Big Man is pouting now, his face is buried in my chest and I can still smell the cereal on his hands. Damn, should have done a better job washing those hands, but I'm tired. It's time for his prayers, but I figure we'd better talk it out.

"What's wrong man, you sad?"

He nods into my chest. I've been trying to break him of this nodding thing and get him to say "Yes sir" every time, but it's a work in progress. Plus, my wife thinks there is something "country" about adding the honorific "sir" and "ma'am" to responses. People these days, I tell you.

"I can't hear you man. Are you sad?"

Another nod, this time while squeezing me tighter.

"Why you sad"

"Ummmm..."

He likes saying "um" now. I didn't teach him that. Just like I didn't teach him to say "tasty" when he likes food, or to say "I love it" when he likes something. I don't know where he's picking this stuff since he's around my wife and I all day. Maybe tv, maybe our passing conversations, but he amazes me all the time with the things he does and says.

"You sad 'cause of Daddy?"

He nods his head.

"Why Daddy made you sad?"

"Um..."

"Daddy was mean to you? That's why you sad?"

"Yes."

"Daddy wasn't trying to be mean, Daddy was trying to teach you something. Daddy has to discipline you so you can grow up right. Daddy has to show you what to do, right?"

Silence.

"Does Daddy love you?"

"No."

"Look at me."

The little boy has amazing eyes. I feel sorry for all you mothers and fathers out there with little girls because I got a feeling my little man is going to break hearts. Expressive eyes, that are so brown it's shocking. He hates to meet my eyes when he's angry, but I force him to anyway. My father taught me that. Look a man in his eyes and he knows you're a man as well.

"Little Big Man, Daddy always loves you, no matter what. But, just 'cause Daddy loves you doesn't mean he's going to let you do what you want. Sometimes Daddy has to be mean."

I kiss him. He giggles, then hugs me.

"You still mad?"

He shakes his head.

"You love Daddy?"

This time I get a nod. It's enough.

"Let's say our prayers."


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Heart Warming

My heart grows cold.

Day after day, minute after minute, the chill creeps in. Slowly stalking me, its patience is feline. The cold need not rush, its prey can never escape.

Why must the world be this way? Like Solomon I look around at the pursuit of knowledge or wealth or even love, and I cry out "Vanity!" It is all vanity, silly flower petals that will only wilt as the seasons change. Wilt and then die.

Who but God can comfort the comfortless? Yet, is God's comfort anything more than a psychosis of the human mind? A chemical imbalance that leads us to believe in an omnipotent being who spends his time caring about insignificant, finite humans? Where is this God, point to him and let the world see...

Those thoughts make me shudder. I shiver now. The cold creeps onward, slowly like floodwaters, drowning passion and hope. Where is my stronghold, where is my safety?

I cling to God. I cannot point to him. I cannot produce his being for the satisfaction of others or even myself. I only have this blind faith, blind like Justice is blind, blind like bats are blind. My sonar is my heart.

Who can offer me more?

Not corrupt officials, consumed by the lusts of their flesh and their eyes, overcome by pride. They offer no succor, they offer no wisdom, they offer no relief. They offer nothing but a high-fructose serving of hope, a Splenda infused helping of faith. Master forgers, they traffic in illusion.

Who but God offers me more?

The cold grows. So cold it's almost warm. My heart burns with the cold, a raging inferno of ice, a glacial bonfire. Slowly, slowly it beats, its rhythm the key to my questions. Yet, I cannot find the beat. I've always lacked rhythm. Instead I stumble then fall. My feet followed the path of my heart and could not support me. I fall, and I hear my heart beat.

Colder, colder.



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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Evaluating Your Blessings

Is a blessing always a good thing?

I'm involved with this group at my church where we talk to young men about life and God. Anyway, during a recent session this young father, who I think is still a teenager, asked me whether he and the mother of his child should stop having sex even if they plan on getting married soon.

I told him that if he wasn't married now, he shouldn't be having sex, period. He didn't like that answer, but then he changed course. He asked me why some folks talk about children as a negative consequence of fornication, but then turn around and call his little girl a blessing. He couldn't figure out how his daughter could be a blessing if the only way she came in to the world was because he was doing something contrary to God's will.

Good question, right?

Is it possible for a blessing, (children are typically seen as a blessing by most most Christians) to be a bad thing?

Calling something a "blessing" implies that your life is positively impacted by it. But, as all parents will tell you, children can both negatively and positively impact your life.

I wouldn't trade my two boys for anything, but that doesn't mean I don't think fondly of my life before parenthood. Being a parent is a massive responsibility, and it's only natural to grow weary of carrying that burden on occasion.

I told the teenage father that sometimes God can bless us, and punish us at the same time. Having a child is a blessing, but the responsibility that goes along with parenting can feel like a punishment at times. When you have to handle the hassles of parenting outside of a marriage, it quickly becomes apparent why God intended for children to be raised inside of marriages.

I've found that like most parents, God doesn't refuse to care for his children, or bless them, just because they misbehave. He has the ability to bless and chastise at the same time. Unfortunately, we as humans often lack the ability to see the duality in our situations, particularly when our situations seem negative.

Black Girl In Maine talked about something related to this topic recently. She discussed the fact that given their economic conditions, some folks really shouldn't be having children. She noted that the idea that all you need to raise children is "love," is ridiculous.

I agree with many of her points, but her post made me think.

Just because something is difficult doesn't make it bad. Conversely, every blessing doesn't come easy. Children are the epitome of this principle, but it applies to most things in our lives. Too often we expect good things to come with no strings attached. Some of us mistakenly believe that when God blesses us, he'll magically do all the work.

Snap out of it.

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Raving Black Lunatic