Archive for March, 2008

19
Mar
08

Obama reminds me of patches of my past

Listening to Obama’s speech on Race in America today took me back to a time of my childhood. As he spoke of the environment in which his Pastor came into manhood, I started to replace his influential people with my own.

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I remembered my Grandmother and how loving and kind she was. How many people in our old Virginian neighborhood would come to her in the evening after a hard day’s work, just to have her work sore muscles loose in hands and shoulders. My Grandmother and her friends would gather on those evenings and mend clothes, collecting the pieces of discarded fabric and later collectively sewing them into a quilt. They watched over each others work, and in the end the product they produced was priceless.

So here I stand again, watching America gather its collective pieces of fabric. Are we as a nation prepared to commit to the task at hand? Can we work together like the matriarchs of our past, watch over each other, and collectively mend this nation?

I’m a realist and I deal in numbers daily. I’ve sent most of my adult life in service to protecting America. I see the threats outside and within our nation. Yet, there is a part of me that is still based in faith, hope, and dreams. And it is that part of me that Obama speaks to, that part of me that understands and sees the potential in him and the possibility of what we can become.

Obama is a crystal clear vessel in which many have poured in their hopes and dreams. We are vested in him now and have come too far to not see this thing through. He has reignited the movement of equality and America’s chance to lead with the strength of kindness. By faith or by chance, we are a world leader and collectively, the world is waiting to see which direction we will take.

07
Mar
08

Africa Burning

Looking outside of America, I see many people all over the world existing in instability. At times is seems as if all the continent of Africa is warring. Crimes being committed there on a daily basis are so horrific and hateful that our bad-news hungry media will not put them to ink. In high school we studied the Holocaust and the senseless insufferable genocide of by most counts, 5 to 6 million Jewish people. The shameful truth is that humanity continues to allow this level of remorseless violence to spread across the African continent.

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In my lifetime I have seen pictures and read news-feeds about how there were so many people killed in warring Rwanda, that the rivers ran red with blood and bodies pooled and piled up along river banks. It is estimated that 400,000 people died before President Clinton and the rest of the western world noticed and took a halfhearted action to end this genocide. At the end of this 4 1/2 year conflict, British sources put the total murdered at 4.7 million people.

The recognition of such pain and suffering challenges ones belief in humanity and divinity. How could this happen without some type of intervention? On our watch, entire ethnic races of people are being systematically hunted down and killed in the most nightmarish manner. Bands of Sudan “lost boys” walk the African continent in search of family or anything that can give them hope of a better day. Their families were murdered and their homes and villages were burned; as they fled to the jungles only to be prayed upon by lions and other dangerous predators. They walk until they drop and when they drop they die.

My disappointment cannot be measure in America’s response to the ongoing violence. In Darfur, the UN and other world organizations have tried to protect 2.5 million refugees from genocide. They setup refugee camps to house the gushing flow of refugees trying to escape the killing. In shocked horror, those providing help could do nothing as bands of subhuman soldiers swept into these camps, burned and killed everyone and everything; and humanity turned it’s head away and let it happen. 200,000 to 400,000 people were slaughtered in Darfur before Secretary of State Colin Powell would publicly acknowledge genocide was happening.

Why is the West so slow to help stop the killing in Africa? Is it because many of these nations are Muslim? In Europe, we invaded the former warring Yugoslavia and stopped the Christian Serbians from killing the Muslim Bosnians. Why have we not done the same for Africa? Many would say America has no lineage to the nations of Africa. That’s only true if you ignore the 37 million African Americans of these United States.

By all counts, the world is about to enter a period of difficulty and we will all need to work together if we are to better the world. In times not so long gone by, the West colonized Africa, stripping it of it’s wealth and ability to self govern. As the British Empire, the French, the Dutch, and others were driven out of Africa, they left a void that in many cases was filled by warlords and marauding armies. It’s pass time that the West help make this right. It’s time we stop turning our heads away from the problem and start helping put out the flames of war that are steadily consuming Africa.

Rwandan War

Sudan War

Darfur War

Lost Boys

01
Mar
08

Life will not let me live

Recently I had someone say to me, “You are so calm and nothing upsets you. How do you get to a guy like that?” I just smiled and sat quietly. If he doesn’t know, I’m not going to tell him. Many things get to me and in fact, often life just will not let me live.

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I grew-up around large bodies of water, the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic ocean. I’ve been fortunate enough to have swam in both sides of it. Swimming in the ocean has a healing affect on me. It centers me and helps me understand my place in the universe.

While driving across country many years ago, I came to the realization that I am not a mountain person. I was a young man with a fast two-seater sports car and I knew I could drive straight through the Apalache and Blue Ridge Mountains, nonstop. I entered the mountains at top speed and they swallowed me whole. Every time I drove through a bend in the road, I was sure I would be at the beginning of the end of those damn mountains. I pushed hard, but the universe conspired against me. It placed deer and tracker trailer trucks in front of me and slowed me to a crawl. I cursed those damn mountains because they made me feel so small and insignificant. Epiphany, in the grand scheme of things, in the universe, everything is insignificant.

Now I have understanding of my love of the ocean. It makes me realize how insignificant an individual is. I think we only gain significants when we become apart of the whole Universe. What happens to you, happens to me. So I don’t sweat the small stuff. I rarely let individual problems dominate me. I have become more concerned with what is happening to all of us. Mistreatment of people gets to me, not taking care of our troops gets to me. If you hate me for my race or friends or lifestyle, that’s your problem, not mine.

Often, life will not let me live. Life has shown me so many wonders that I’m not complaining. Life has given me a loving family and many good friends. Life is tangible and sometimes slaps you in the face or gives you a helping hand. I’ve flown on an airplane with an engine smoking, been rescued by a Preacher from a snow storm and given a ride home by a police officer that pick me up off the side of the road (after my car broke down) while drunk off my ass. Call it divine intervention, karma, or just damn luck, but life has shown me too many times that it is always ready to lend a hand if you take the time to look for it. Don’t sweat the small stuff because life will take care of that.