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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Raving Black Lunatic