Archive for July, 2016

Still I Rise PIC
We have had a turbulent, difficult year filled with hate speech, shootings, mass murders and racial tension. Rare is the person who hasn’t become discouraged or fearful, who hasn’t sunk into base, survival reactions of fight or flight. We are human.

These are feelings and reactions known to us all. But through it all, we must remember who we are and what we are capable of. We must remember our country has been through much worse – the Civil War when we killed each other (620,000 dead), Montgomery Alabama in the 60s, the Civil Rights movement, the assassination of three of our great leaders, Vietnam.

Each and every time, we rose up. We didn’t run, we didn’t hide; we faced our demons and came together. Once again we are faced with challenges. Once again we will rise. Why? Because we are Americans and that’s just what Americans do.

Whenever we are met with a choice, we must always, always, always take the High Road and operate from mutual respect, hope and love, not vindictiveness, fear and hatred for as we all know, regardless of our beliefs, “God is love.” 1 John 4:16… and nothing can trump that!

I am reminded of a few lines from Maya Angelou’s famous poem . . .

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise. . .
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise. . .

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise. . .

Maya Angelou


Let’s take a couple of minutes to listen to Katy Perry’s new song, ”Rise” and view the accompanying video. As we do, let’s reconnect with the spirit of who we are and who we are capable of being.

Katy Perry’s “Rise”


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who killed police WoW pic

“I shouted out, ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’ Well after all, it was you and me.”

“Sympathy for the Devil” by Mick Jagger

Substitute “the black people and the police” for “the Kennedys” and the message still rings true. The events of this past week are a direct result of a series of choices we have made as a nation since its very inception. Our entire context as a country was initiated by violence and has been based on a dualistic (win/lose) framework of thinking which reinforces racism and prejudice.

We overpowered the Native Americans with guns and gave them nothing in return but the most barren, worthless lots of land and threw in a few colorful beads as a bonus. Injustice and systemic racial oppression has been with us ever since.

When our Fore Fathers established the very vision, mission and purpose of our United States, they declared it to be a land of freedom and justice for all, where all men were considered to be equal, except of course, for women and the slaves who remained “inferior”.

The violent Civil War (620,000 killed) was a defining moment and a test of our willingness to truly live the words that defined us as a nation. Slaves were freed, but something huge was and is still missing.

We have never properly taken accountability for the fact that as a country, at its core, we endorsed slavery, amassed fortunes off the backs of slaves and have never atoned for it properly.

It has become very clear we are a country divided. We have taken “sides” and no one wants to lose. We will do anything to be right about our views. We hammer home our opinions. We don’t listen. We won’t listen. We fight, gather evidence about how right we are and how wrong the other “side” is. We gather up our armies and gain agreement with those who think like we do then we go to war with each other.

The press and media keep the pot boiling and stories are over produced and one-sided. For the most part, their reporting is shallow and sensationalized. Driven by ratings and viewers who love the “fight”, they perpetuate controversy and rarely report the good. Seldom do they appeal to our Higher Selves, but rather, they feed our thirst for blood.

We have a Presidential candidate with no qualifications who has demeaned and mocked every group except angry white men. He preys on our estrangement and deepens the divide by fanning the flames of hatred. And people are voting for him.

After 9/11 when we should have been a country and a world united, we heard politicians say, “You’re either with us or against us,” and people cheered. This mob-consciousness created the atrocious war in Iraq which opened the flood gates of terrorism. More fighting, more armies, more ammunition . . . more death.

Congress perpetuates the rhetoric of hate, and instead or encouraging us all to work together, they do the opposite. They attack the other “side”, point fingers and blame, blame, blame. Our cowardly leaders avoid accountability and straight talk. They side-step questions with meaningless blather. Pundits yell over one another and no one is listening! Everyone is so attached to being right (and not wrong), and winning the argument (not losing) no one is looking for a true solution. We can’t even decide on a Supreme Court Justice!

As a collective society, we are in trouble. But I’m not surprised. As I have said many, many times:

“No matter how hard we work on the wrong thing, it makes no difference.”

The problem isn’t “out there” my friends, it is right here within ourselves. The Emperor has no clothes. The problem lies with us.

There will always be those who are hateful bigots – on all sides and in all parts of the world. There will always be people who think fighting and killing and overpowering others is the way to play and win the game. Anger and vengeance and violence takes very little thought. It’s easy and anyone can do it. It’s a small and deadly game.

But for conscious, evolved, caring people who yearn for something more than this, people who truly do have moral standards of excellence and who want to play a much bigger game, it is time to pull together. As concerned, thoughtful people, we haven’t aligned our thinking and behaviors around the same goal. We haven’t been playing the same game.

I truly believe almost all Americans want the same thing: for the killing to cease and for every American to feel safe and respected. But instead of supporting this, we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into a public debate that assigns us different tribes and warring interests and it becomes a Win/Lose game.

We have allowed ourselves to be conned by power-hungry politicians and manipulated by money-hungry networks who want nothing more than to keep the game of conflict going for their own selfish gain. They are using us and like lambs to the slaughter, we are allowing it!

Until we clarify the purpose of the game to be a Win/Win and until each and every one of us truly commits to equality and justice for ALL with our words and our actions, until we stop taking sides and instead, look for solutions that work for EVERYONE, we cannot succeed as a people or as a nation. Ever.

Until we increase our understanding of each other, sides will continue. When is the last time (if ever) you sat down with a person of a different race and had an in-depth conversation with the intent to learn and understand them? Are you willing to really hear what it means to be white or a person of color? Or a cop or a Black man?

We need to finally face what is really wrong here. This means, we have to stop yelling. We need to shut up and be quiet. We need to stop listening to the puffed up pundits and ego-centric politicians. Based on results, they have proven themselves to be extraordinarily incompetent.

We need to look inward to our deepest core within ourselves (and I mean you and me and ALL of us) and ask, “What if everything I believe isn’t true? What if what I believe is actually perpetuating the problem? What if I emptied out my head and went to a neutral place to start over and asked myself, ‘Who am I? What am I? What do I stand for? What do I truly want more than anything else in the world? Am I committed to achieving that even if it means letting go of my ego and self-righteousness?'” And then we need to listen to the truth very, very carefully. . .

“Am I willing to let go of my fear of losing? Am I willing to let go of being right? Am I willing to take ownership (not blame) for my role through my actions, inactions or reactions for any form of injustice, racism, prejudice or bigotry in this country and the consequences of such? Am I willing to acknowledge that my government created ‘ghettos’ by policy and design where concentrated poverty became fertile ground for violence and crime, which in turn invited aggressive policing?”

“Am I willing to step out of the fray when people are taking ‘sides’? Am I willing to have empathy for people of color and realize the pain of injustice they have experienced for all of their lives? Am I willing to have empathy for the police and the incredible dangers they heroically face to protect us daily?”

Because the truth is . . . only a small number of criminals have poisoned police beliefs about entire communities and only a small number of dishonorable officers have poisoned communities’ beliefs about entire police forces and a bunch of human beings have ended up dead.
“Am I willing to simply hold human life as valuable regardless of who he/she is? Am I willing to do everything in my power to support human dignity and play the game of Win/Win and do my part as a person of privilege to help change the game of institutional racism? Am I willing to pay taxes for educational programs for the poor and racially profiled Americans that will nurture their self-esteem and help them out of poverty? Am I willing to support with my dollars the continued development of the youth in the ghettos by providing them guidance and opportunities to succeed? Am I willing to realize this is MY problem, not just THEIR problem?”

“Am I willing for my government to support our police force with the kind of training, racial education and financial support/salaries they need and so deserve to have?”

When we put a badge on someone’s chest and a gun in their hands, we have a moral responsibility to make sure they are extraordinarily well trained. We also need much better consistency in policies, procedures and hiring practices in police departments throughout the country.

“Am I willing to have my tax dollars pay for that?”

“Am I willing to stop taking sides and stop fighting against someone or something and instead ask myself, ‘What do I stand for?'”

It is time to shift the context of this country! It is time to realize human life is more important than gun lobbyists. It is time to address the social inequities built into the system in this country, and to finally acknowledge the white privilege that is embedded in every aspect of American life. It is time to face the fact that we have marginalized and disenfranchised entire groups of people for centuries based on their skin color (and gender and sexual orientation) and that we continue to have double standards in this country.

As the NYT columnist, Charles Blow wrote, “Will the people of moral clarity, good character and righteous cause be able to drown out the chorus of voices that seek to use each dead body as a social wedge?

Will the people who can see clearly that there is no such thing as selective, discriminatory, exclusionary outrage and grieving when lives are taken, be heard above those who see every tragedy as a plus or minus for a cumulative argument?

Will the people who see both the protests over police killings and the killing of police officers as fundamentally about the value of life, rise above those who see political opportunity in this arms race of atrocities?”

The bigger game, the High Road, is the belief in ultimate moral justice.

The minute we accept any act that degrades, hurts or minimalizes another through a physical act of violence, a hateful comment, or a disrespectful gesture, we have already fallen off the moral path and we own the problem. It is ours to solve.

“When we can see clearly and align behind the ultimate goal [of the game] which is harmony and not hate, rectification and not retribution, we have a chance to see our way forward. But we all need to start here and now, by doing this simple thing: Seeing every person as fully human, deserving every day to make it home to the people he/she loves.”

Bad things happen when a lot of good people do nothing.

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