Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Little Chik Will Lead Them


Many bloggers, news people, and writers of all varieties have probably begun an article just like this one by starting with “another mass shooting has taken place.” This time, Orlando, Florida in a night club full of young and old, male and female, gay and straight. And this on the heels of a tragic shooting of an up and rising star on Friday night. This article is not for the purpose of promoting gun control, nor is it against one group or the other. 

 We all know the details now. Gunman walks into a crowded nightclub and starts shooting. Why? We don’t know. And as a result, 50 or more people lost their lives, and another 50 or more were treated for wounds.  Yesterday, we all mourned the loss of these lives as we know what it is like to lose someone dear to us. These people were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. They had close friends. Most of all, they mattered.

After I arrived home from work yesterday, I got on facebook. My emotions took over as I read hate-filled post after hate-filled post. Those on the left hating on Trump, on those not supporting the LGBT community, right-wing Christians, etc. Those on the right, hating on Hillary, Obama, gun control, Muslims and at the same time standing sanctimoniously with Jesus. I was so angry, so upset, and so sick of all this hate. Why can’t we all understand that hate is our problem? Hate is hate, no matter who/what you are hating. Only love can overcome that. What would Jesus do, after all?

Suddenly, I scrolled over an article and prayed with all my heart it was true. While thousands of people took to social media to criticize whichever side of the fence they were not on, a Chik-fil-a in Orlando quietly took to the streets to pass out food and drinks to those giving their blood. This is a company that makes a stand on their own beliefs by being closed on Sundays. They do not support same sex marriage. What would Jesus do? This. They opened up, cooked, and distributed food in a time of great need. They showed us by example we can disagree but still love each other. By the way…the story was indeed true. For more, click here: http://www.wftv.com/news/trending-now/orlando-chick-fil-a-store-supports-blood-donors-with-food-on-sunday/341509933

My cousin lives and works in Orlando. She was at the concert Friday night where Christina Grimmie was murdered in cold blood and was active in the aftermath of the Pulse shootings.
She says she was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and the spirit of cooperation. So many volunteered to give blood, they ran out of supplies. The same thing happened after 911 and the Charleston shootings, just to name two…people came out and gave of themselves. Much hatred was aimed at a group, but ten times ten more love came to the rescue. What a world we could have if the love came first.

Dear readers, can you not understand that social media is not a place to spew hatred of any form? Can you not understand that hate added to hate is just more hate? Can you not understand that our media, our government, and those that are in control of our country – and our world – are purposely trying to distract us with hype while the real issues of hunger, poverty, lack of healthcare, homelessness, and injustices of every type should be our real focus? I would like to challenge each of us to take one moment of thought before we post on social media and ask ourselves if what we are posting promotes hate of any sort to anyone…even if you don’t agree with their politics, religion, or what they support.  I challenge myself and each of you to be able to disagree with each other without hating each other. We are one race…the human race…and much more alike than different. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to be accepted. At the root of all religions, the belief is the same: Love God and love each other. 

What would Jesus do? Follow the Chik (-fil-a)!

I would like to dedicate this article to my "God" Mother, Marian Starnes. Because of her, I think in terms of love, kindness, and cooperation. Because of her, I have done my best to remove judgement and hatred from my life. Because of her, I can disagree without hate. Because of her, I forgive myself and others. Because of her, I know peace. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Middle Way

According to the teachings of the Buddha, the middle way is the path of wisdom. It promotes moderation between the self-indulgent pleasures of the world and the austere practices of self-mortification. And while this middle way or road denotes a balance between extremes, it is not to be taken to mean non-action, but rather an ongoing effort to maintain that balance.

This past week, our country suffered another school shooting, this time at a community college in Oregon. Nine dead and nine injured. A young gunman had entered and randomly shot teachers and students, young and old, without respect for human life at all before turning one of the weapons upon himself. Yes, weapons. He had six with him and another seven at his place of residence.

Facebook and other social media immediately begin filling up with comments, condolences, and accusations. Those wanting gun control were using it as proof that it was needed. Those that want no gun control used it as proof it was not needed. Fingers pointed to the president as if it is his fault. I saw someone post a picture of Chris Mintz, our local hero there, which stepped up and tried to help. And he was lucky…he was shot several times but survived. The picture of him said something like, “No invitation to the White House” insinuating that our President did not consider him a hero. He is lying in a hospital bed and going through surgeries! How could our President have even had the time to invite him, and certainly it would have to be an event far into the future as his recovery will be extensive. Then I saw that someone had put up a post about the President remaining silent on the issue. Does anyone watch the news? Obama was by no means silent.

The purpose of this blog is not to condone gun policies; but, rather to serve a twofold purpose. The first purpose is back to the opening on the Middle Road. I personally do not care for guns. I do, however, believe in our rights as American citizens to own them. It was one of the basic rights granted to our newly formed country and for good reason. Our forefathers knew that when a government moves to ban guns from its people, it leaves people open to be controlled by their government in unsavory ways. So we have the two ends: one says we should be able to own guns without any questions asked and without any stipulations at all. The other faction says we should not be allowed to own guns. But there is another road….a middle road where each of these extreme points of view take one step….just one step….towards the other. It could be that people wanting to purchase guns would be required to take a class, or at least have a background check performed. I know in many professions and in many workplaces a background check is performed and we think nothing of it. We know that guns don’t kill, people do! Or that there would be a maximum amount of guns one person could own. I’m not here to propose the middle road of all this, but rather to suggest this middle does exist. Compromise is essential to our lives.

Take the matter of abortion. I doubt the majority of people in this world “believe in” abortion. However, if such a path is deemed necessary – not by a law maker – but by the person involved, there should be a path available that is safe and legal…one that includes counseling and other options and medical advice.  Again, a small step from each side is necessary.  And remember, I, personally do not advocate abortion. I also don’t advocate children being abused, going hungry, and lacking in education or opportunity, which is sometimes the outcome for unwanted (and wanted) children.  And while on this subject, it seems that we have already had this fight back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. What has brought it back around? Extreme thinking without a middle road.

My second purpose in all of this goes back to the various posts on social media garnering attention from these types of events. PEOPLE WAKE UP!! THE MEDIA FEEDS US ON OUR FEARS AND BELIEFS!! It doesn’t matter if you support Obama or Bush, Clinton or Trump! Our media drives and divides us into thinking we are opposite in our thinking, but in reality, it is just different sides of the same coin! The people that really run our country….those holding the wealth… could care less if you vote republican or democrat, because they own both! And polarization just adds to the chaos!

To the world, I am a small, poor, and unimportant person in the grand scheme of things. Yet, I know that to achieve peace, each person must find that peace within themselves. I implore you to find a middle road and support it. Become indifferent to the media bombardment. Check the facts before you endorse something. Stop allowing yourself to be used for a political agenda. They even use our beliefs against us. Our country was founded on religious freedom, and a separation of church and state was imperative to this ideal…so, even if you feel your way to God is the one way, be mindful that others feel the same about their God. We are brothers and sisters, each a member of the human race. Show more love, be kinder, be soft. 

Our children know about the middle way. Have you seen the little girl’s video where she tells her parents to seek the middle? “…in the middle where my heart is…” Check it out. “A little child shall lead them…”

Thank you for reading…now go and seek the middle way. When you find it, offer it to others. It is the only way we can survive as a nation and as a people.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blowin' In the Wind - Love from Hate

Just before turning in for the night of June 17, I learned of yet another act against innocent
people having a prayer meeting in their church.  The perpetrator: a 21 year old white man; the victims: all black in a predominately black church, long a symbol for the people of Charleston.  The young man, Dylann Roof, came into the church, sat with the members attending a Bible study for about an hour, and then the shooting began.  I was reduced to tears when the reports started coming in and felt I could not take any more bad news about human beings having so little consideration for other human beings.

According to reports, Dylann Roof’s intention was to start a “race war”.  But he did not know nor understand the trends of our present day world that tell us, despite the media’s constant bombardment of all that is evil in our world and the items they use to distract us, that people everywhere are tuning in to the need to embrace each other as brothers and sisters and to realize that we are all human beings and basically want the same things. Nor did he realize that he set in motion events to bring people even closer together rather than to divide them in a war that can never be won.

In the days since this event took place, I have been overwhelmed by the response to this tragedy. Was it possible that through this act of intense hate, a message of love would be revealed?  As each day has unfolded, my question has been answered and the answer is a resounding YES!  Nine precious souls were required to sacrifice their lives, and they did not sacrifice in vain. These brave men and women laid down their lives to enable us to look hate in the face and have the opportunity to answer it with love.

In honor of these nine brave souls, I share 5 positive outcomes that have been observed as a result of this act intended to divide us in hatred.

1. The abandonment of the confederate flag. Dylann Roof used the confederate flag as a symbol of racism.  This flag has long been a point of contention in the South.  It was basically created as a battle flag for one of the Virginia armies during the Civil War.  The main issue in the Civil War was the disagreement over the right to own slaves.  Once civil rights were passed many years later, many southern states used this flag as a symbol to oppose integration.  In the fight against racism, this flag has been allowed to fly for too long.  And the one place it does still fly is at the State Capitol in South Carolina.  This week, as a result of this young man’s hatred, Nikki Haley, the governor of SC, has called for the removal of this worn out symbol.  Not only will that flag be removed, but retailers such as Walmart and Sears have announced that they will no longer sell it.  

2. Unity. The Emanuel AME Church did not close up or back down in fear. Instead, they
inspired the nation by exemplifying love, peace, and forgiveness. On the Sunday following the shooting, the church doors opened for services. Other churches in the area joined in with their
directive to ring bells at 10 a.m. and then many walked to the church where they stood outside as there was no room inside. I have a friend that lives in Charleston and participated in this moving event.  Some of these photographs are from her experience. No, she is not black. In fact, look closely at these photos and others that are available on the internet. You will see that there are all types of people present….old, young, black, white, male, female…if only we could look at each other without assigning one of these labels!

3. Forgiveness. At the hearing on Friday, June 19, several of the victims’ family members were present and addressed Dylann Roof.  The message was the same from each:  I forgive you and am praying for you.  What enlightened souls they must be.  Even in the wake of loss, they did not forget their mission of love, nor the mission of their loved ones now departed.

4. Peace. On Sunday evening, June 21, thousands gathered to march across Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel, Jr.bridge in a show of solidarity.  They filled up 2 miles in the “Bridge to Peace Unity Chain”.  What a beautiful show of brotherhood. This is us, the American people, coming together to say we have had enough…enough killing, enough hatred, enough division. 
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Tucker Bowman

5. Love. Social media has been full of uplifting quotes and expressions of love pertaining to this event. Civil Rights have only taken us so far. Racism is alive and well.  Each of us must do our part.  Call out those that speak despairingly about others.  Stand up for your race….the Human race…and see each person as your brother and sister.  Yes, even Dylann Roof.  Pray for him and those like him. Address any prejudice in your own heart.  Sit with it.  Observe how it made its way there.  Then love it so much that it dissolves into love itself.  

This old folk song is as relevant now as it was in the 60’s, if not more so.  I could not help but hear it playing in my head over these past few days.  (PS – the answer is LOVE.)

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Songwriters: Bill Sherrill and Charlie Rich