Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Time To Look Inward

Autumn... what a wonderfully exhilarating season of our lives!

 The changing hues all around remind us of the multifaceted nature of everything in our universe. They make us aware of the necessity to reevaluate all the many simplistic assumptions that go into the daily operation of our lives. This is a great time to take a new breath and look with clarity at the many relationships that we are part of.
This is a season in which we are reminded of the inherent beauty of nature. We look outside our windows and are inspired by the wonderful display of colors. Leaves become orange and yellow and red and brown and colors that, my wife will gently remind me, I am not able to name. Summer’s verdant green becomes a multi-colored display of the many wonderful hues that are always there, but seldom noticed. This is a great time to get away from the clutter of our congested lives. A leisurely venture into the the open country at this time of year is awe-inspiring.
Fall is indeed a time to turn inwards. It is an occasion to retreat from our “heat”, and reflect on all the ideas that we take for granted. It is a time to become aware of the inconspicuous parts of all our lives. Now is when we recover the truth that beauty is more than “skin” deep. This season presents us with an opportunity to repent of the snap judgments that too often sabotage our social discourse. By not doing so we render inconsequential the vital roles we play in each others lives and in the world around us.
And then the leaves fall. An oh so solemn reminder to us of the necessity to take inventory of ourselves. We can, and we must separate from ourselves those things that have become redundant. Let us let go of those rude attachments that weigh us down. Let us find again the strength to forego those superfluous conveniences that we allow to clutter our lives.
This is a season to unburden ourselves of the inessentials. This is the time to lighten our existential load. Take a moment to reevaluate your worries. Act now to separate the substantial facts of your life from the superimposed fiction that fogs and distorts your way forward. Recognize and reaffirm your truths. Assume a position of strength in your life. Expose and obliterate the falsehoods that can, and do corrupt your vision of a life well lived.
After Fall comes Winter. This is a season when many animals go into hibernation. It is a time of dormancy for many. Let us be aware that beneficial rest is always preceded by a process of unburdening and proper positioning. Fall provides this opportunity. Periodic renewal of ourselves during which we reposition ourselves as required, is a necessary prerequisite to growth and prosperity.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Courage Silences Fear

— If you do not know who you are… you will end up as someone else. If you do not know where you are going… you will end up someplace else. —
The statements above express the ultimate dilemma of a lost soul. In the truest sense of the word, life is a journey of discovery. The mantra of the soul in discovery mode… the soul that would claim his or her power to be, is courage. Contrary to the belief that many have come to assume to be true, there is nothing inevitable about our destinies. We have heard many people put forward the false notion that our journey and destination in this life is set. Some people believe that one’s fate is predetermined, and that there is nothing one can do about it. To live meaningfully we must divest ourselves of the untruth of such a way of thinking. As a way of effecting the release from such ideas, one must courageously apply oneself to the discipline necessary to do so.
Mantras are understood to be powerful words/ideas that we repeat verbally and in our actions. To adapt to the mantra of courage is to walk step by fateful step into a future full of possibility. It is to moment by moment; event by event, deny the hold that fear would have on us. Through the repetition of a mantra, the meanings and manifestations of the ideas we want to commit to are imprinted in our subconscious. In time they become the template for the change that we desire in ourselves. Through the daily practice of our mantric exercise we are able to create a new template by which we connect with our most deeply held intentions. This eventuates because we are actually inducing a deep connection with the Creative Spirit …the source of everything in the universe... God.  The more adept we become at connecting with this deeper consciousness of life, the more we are able to silence the ideas that are contrary to our most deeply held ideals.
A template of courage silences fear. The mantric exercise by which we replace thoughts of self-defeat with thoughts of self-fulfillment; strengthens our minds,  bodies, and wills to accomplish the higher ideals of the Creative Spirit. This practice trains us to quiet the noisy internal dialogue within with all its under developing cross-talk about who we are expected to be, and who we can be in the worrisome… sometimes ego-degrading opinion of others. We determine our destinies first and foremost by speaking and subsequently acting them into being. And so, to begin with, I tell myself that I am who I think and say I am. Subsequently, I will act in accordance with that logos …that creative thought/word. That word is always becoming flesh in my life…in my world. My ideals take shape and find expression in my daily experience. My thoughts become flesh and live all around me. I become who I say I am. 
Find your truest self. Cultivate courage. Silence the fear that keeps you from finding your way...

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Image result for oil lamps shining in the dark
There lived a wise farmer who owned a vast orchard of various kinds of fruits that were in high demand all year round in the surrounding towns. He had tended to his farm with great pride for many years with the help of his three children and a number of other employees who loved working for this wonderful gentleman. As a businessman he treasured the great benefits his farm enterprise had brought to his customers, and the prosperity that had accrued to himself, his heirs, and his employees.

After many years of hard work, the time came for this  well regarded farmer to retire. And so he gathered his three children around the family dining room table, his task being to choose the heir who demonstrated the greatest wisdom to continue the development and further the prosperity of his well known orchard. This decision would not be based on any favoritism, but on the demonstrated ability of his successor to resolve issues that would invariably arise - with wisdom. To this end , he gave the following task to his three children.

After telling them of his plan for retirement, he took from an envelop three crisp twenty-dollar bills, handing one to each of his children. "You are all familiar with the empty barn that stands between the old outhouse and the first line of apple trees" he began. They all nodded knowingly. In fact that barn had been a fixture of the farm long before they were born; and they knew it very well, it having been the location of many of their childhood ...and young-adulthood adventures. "Well I want each of you to use the money I have just placed in each of your hands to purchase something that that will fill that barn to capacity. I will be inspecting and judging your efforts, and the management of this orchard will go to the one of you who accomplishes this task most completely. This place is sacred to our family, and to the communities around us. It is my desire to see it continue to flourish under the wise management of the one of you who demonstrates the wisdom and the discretion that the task requires." To this they all agreed, and having clarified the outstanding details of their father's instructions, they sat down to dinner together.

Now this is how each heir filled the barn up...

The first to attempt the task went out and gathered a large amount of straw and dried leaves, which was then used to stuff the barn to what they thought was its capacity. So much was forced into the available space therein that the door could only be closed after the application of much force. Feeling very accomplished, the old farmer was then summoned with great excitement at the end of the day to come see the completed task. "And with what did you fill the barn?" he asked the first of the three to complete the task. "Well father, I used all the straw and loose leaves we could gather. I paid one of  the field hands to help me stuff the place, and I still have a dollar left over!". The old man thought for a moment, and then with a wry smile he said "OK then. Lets take a look at your effort in the morning and see how you did." By morning of course, the stuff had settled under its own weight... as it usually does. Thus effort number one came up short.

The second effort suffered a similar fate. In this case a large quantity of loose dirt which was slated for disposal was instead brought in, and with the help of "one of the men", used in the same way as the straw and trash to fill the empty space in the barn. Three hours of labor at minimum wage brought the project in under budget. The father was now more than a bit concerned, but he held out hope. He had spent time raising his children, teaching them the many things he had learnt throughout his life. He had faith that his efforts to meaningfully raise his three children would bear fruit. He was not to be disappointed. 

The third effort to fill the barn was nothing short of inspired. With the money given, a lamp was bought... Oil was bought for that lamp... And matches to light the lamp. As darkness fell on that day the remaining heir called his father and the other two siblings to the barn. Wondering what he could have done that was not already attempted, they all approached excitedly. By now it was dark. They entered the barn to find the glass lamp lit and hanging from a beam in the very center of the barn. Realizing the genius of this effort, they all smiled and embraced each other. The place was filled with warmth ... and  light. There was no doubt in any of their minds as to who the new steward of this orchard should be.

Our attempts to fill the empty spaces in us, and around us, will benefit greatly from thoughtful approaches that go deeper than the usual dirt and trash that we are often drawn to as solutions to the challenges we face. The progress and  prosperity we aspire to will come to us when we make ourselves available to the illumination that comes with Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding. It is this illumination that we will need as we seek to emerge from the dark places in which we will find ourselves from time to time along the many roads of our lives.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

''Speak the truth to Trump"

The following is an excerpt from an article by Andy Crouch published in the magazine Christianity Today. Read the whole article here :
'  ... not all evangelical Christians—in fact, alas, most evangelical Christians, judging by the polls—have shown the same critical judgment [As shown to Hillar Clinton} when it comes to the Republican nominee. True, when given a choice, primary voters who claimed evangelical faith largely chose other candidates. But since his nomination, Donald Trump has been able to count on “the evangelicals” (in his words) for a great deal of support.
The revelations of the past week of his vile and crude boasting about sexual conquest—indeed, sexual assault—might have been shocking, but they should have surprised no one.
This past week, the latest (though surely not last) revelations from Trump’s past have caused many evangelical leaders to reconsider. This is heartening, but it comes awfully late. What Trump is, everyone has known and has been able to see for decades, let alone the last few months. The revelations of the past week of his vile and crude boasting about sexual conquest—indeed, sexual assault—might have been shocking, but they should have surprised no one.
Indeed, there is hardly any public person in America today who has more exemplified the “earthly nature” (“flesh” in the King James and the literal Greek) that Paul urges the Colossians to shed: “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” (3:5). This is an incredibly apt summary of Trump’s life to date. Idolatry, greed, and sexual immorality are intertwined in individual lives and whole societies. Sexuality is designed to be properly ordered within marriage, a relationship marked by covenant faithfulness and profound self-giving and sacrifice. To indulge in sexual immorality is to make oneself and one’s desires an idol. That Trump has been, his whole adult life, an idolater of this sort, and a singularly unrepentant one, should have been clear to everyone.
And therefore it is completely consistent that Trump is an idolater in many other ways. He has given no evidence of humility or dependence on others, let alone on God his Maker and Judge. He wantonly celebrates strongmen and takes every opportunity to humiliate and demean the vulnerable. He shows no curiosity or capacity to learn. He is, in short, the very embodiment of what the Bible calls a fool."

Friday, September 30, 2016

They Were Deplorable Then, They Are Deplorable Now

Pronounced- de·plor·a·ble
Adjective - Means ... deserving strong condemnation.

A postcard showing the 1920 Duluth, Minnesota lynchings, showing three African American circus workers falsely accused of raping a white woman. Lynched without trial.
Photo Courtesy of Wiki media.

There can be no mincing of words when it comes to calling out those among us whose values threaten the lives and humanity of others.

The hypocritical double standard that some appeal to in their efforts to normalize the dastardly ways of the unjust among us, must be exposed and permanently discredited. Hate and its agencies of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and apartheid - deserve our strong condemnation. We must not continue to tolerate values that history has shown to be antithetical to the development of civil society, and to the greater cause of Justice.

Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, wannabe tyrant. He has become the new great white hope of the still thriving racist underbelly of American society. His brand of social and political behavior deserves our condemnation. His attempts to hide behind his token use of individuals from groups that would be victimized by his bigotry is laughable at best. Slavery had its house Negros. Nazism in its infancy, had its Jewish enablers. Fascism has its embedded agents among those in the populations it targets. Trump's use of a few Black preachers, Hispanic talking-heads, and paid female sympathizers that he has yet to fire - including the current head of his campaign - or those who do not yet fit his description as 'fat pigs'... must be seen for what it is - an attempt to mollify his target audience. Donald Trump is a political groper whose only real inner circle are those with sanguine connections to him, and those from whom he sources his economic and ideological orientation.

History is pocked by little men like Trump. They exploit the vulnerabilities of the ignorant and the fearful in our midst to launch their infestation of discord on the way to political prominence. Fear, as we now know, is an agency of hate. It is the facility in our hearts, and in the national body politic, that terrible characters like Hitler and Mussolini and Trump use to develop and spread the venom of discord that they hope will be the magic carpet to political and economic prominence. In this effort they cast themselves as messiahs- come to save their followers from their socio-economic/ knowledge-impoverished lives. Their delusions of grandeur find wings on egos that loudly proclaim ...I alone can save you!... Believe me! This thread of self-aggrandizement runs rampant in the rhetoric of the Hitlers and Trumps who have held sway along our political journey as civilized societies; and who eventually get relegated to the garbage heap of history. 

The following is part of a speech that Adolf Hitler gave on April 28, 1939. Note his elevation of his I-ness throughout - which I have highlighted. I interjected the word bigly for obvious reasons. 

"I overcame chaos in Germany, restored order, enormously(bigly) raised production in all fields of our national economy... I succeeded in completely resettling in useful production those 7 million unemployed who so touched our hearts...I have not only politically united the German nation but also rearmed it militarily, and I have further tried to liquidate that Treaty sheet by sheet whose 448 Articles contain the vilest rape that nations and human beings have ever been expected to submit to. I have restored to the Reich the provinces grabbed from us in 1919; I have led millions of deeply unhappy Germans, who have been snatched from us, back into the Fatherland; I have restored the thousand-year-old historical unity of German living space; and I have attempted to accomplish all that without shedding blood and without inflicting the sufferings of war on my people or any other. I have accomplished this, as one who 21 years ago was still an unknown worker and a soldier of my people, by my own effort..."

Think about Hitler's violation of the Treaty of Versailles when you hear Trump mouthing off against NATO. Think about Hitler's support of Franco when Trump expresses his admiration for Putin's 'strength', and his expansionist practices. Think about Hitler's re-militarization of Germany when Trump talks about his plans for our military. Think about Hitler's conscription of territory when Trump and his surrogate Giuliani salivate about stealing  Iraqi oil lands. Think about the fact that Hitler stopped paying war reparations agreed to in the above Treaty whenever Trump suggests that America should not pay the debts we have incurred. Trump has shown us who he is through his behavior in business and finance. We should believe him.

Adolf Hitler was a liar, and so is Donald Trump. Hitler inflicted the suffering of war on millions- granted they were not his people... Over 6 million Jews suffered and lost their lives as a result of Nazi terror. We witness the groups that have rallied to support Trump, and we agree that there is no other candidate in recent history that could survive keeping such company. But this Republican Party finds itself in the compromising position of having to cozy up to an offspring of its own bigotry... a bigotry cultivated through its relationship with those who sought to delegitimize the presidency of one Barack Hussein Obama - the first African-American to hold that office. Today we witness Candidate Trump trying to make nice with Benjamin Netanyahu, and we cannot help but scream - HATE IS HATE!! Israel cannot be comfortable with a candidate for POTUS who is causing a bulge in the trousers of the likes of once impotent haters like David Duke.

The Trump candidacy has led to a historic resurgence of what we euphemistically call " the Alt Right".  By this we actually mean the KKK... We mean those who idolize Hitler... We mean those who made post cards from images of lynched Blacks... We mean those who, like Donald Trump, want to build a wall between us and our Brown neighbors to the South... We mean those who hate Jews and Blacks... We mean those who became bigly inflamed at the reality of a Black family in the White House.

The gross racism of Slavery and Segregation was deplorable then... It is deplorable now. The disenfranchisement of women and people of color was, and is, deplorable. Trump's standard of beauty, which is reminiscent of the "eugenics" of Hitler was deplorable then... It is deplorable now. The xenophobia that drove the Nazis to victimize the Jews, and which is appealing to Trump and his followers who want to "make America White again", is deplorable. Trump's own racist practices which led to him being sued and fined for housing discrimination in New York is deplorable. His declaration that his followers would still vote for him if he murdered someone in the middle of 5th Avenue IS deplorable... and such followers ARE deplorable. 

Hate is a function of fear. It is the torment that fear wreaks in the lives of the fearful, and that they then project upon those they come to perceive as threats. Advances in technology have led to a shrinking of time and space that challenges us to live together in the new global village that is constantly being created. Instead of walls, we need to facilitate the building of bridges that make it easier for us to interact across the spaces - cultural and otherwise - that became convenient in the old world. 

True leadership in the brave new world that is becoming more and more a fact of our lives, demands the cultivation of courage. That courage is a function of the mutual recognition of the needs of our common humanity. It demands that we work together to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of progress for all. That courage calls on us to deplore the ways of hate, and to explore the possibilities that reveal themselves when we affirm the rights of every person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In South Africa Today!


Follow this link for the full article.

''The recent protest by young Black girls at the Pretoria Girls High published on (social) media is a clear case in point here. This incident exposes not only the totality of white racism in South Africa, but also the disguised hypocrisy of us Black people in dealing with it.

Yearly in South Africa children of the RasTafari community and Black children who keep dreadlocks for spiritual purpose like Intwaso or Ukuthwasa are rejected, chased away or suspended from (township & rural) schools for their dreadlock hairstyles – which forms part of their spiritual-cultural heritage and philosophical world views".

Monday, September 5, 2016

Name Yourself... Beyond the Labels of a Circumstantial Existence

Life is often characterized as a journey. It is an adventure that incorporates the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, rough patches and smooth paths, high places and depressions that are at times difficult to rise from.

The many challenges that will inevitably come our way demand of us a firm resolve to keep moving forward. In the absence of this resolve we tend to shrink and shrivel and fade into oblivion. 

The interplay of wisdom and folly is a dynamic that will be a constant in many of the steps that we take on this journey. The unique challenge that we will face is that of determining who we are, and who we must become in the face of the challenges that come our way. Ultimately we will face two critically important questions, each of which must be answered realistically if we are to successfully navigate our way through the journey to our destiny.

The first question we must face is... Who do others say that we are? As babies we are given names. These names express the subjective experiences and aspirations of those who parent us. These names become our legal labels. We sign them as a way of identifying ourselves to the world in which we live. They become our "mark" on the many documents that provide proof of our many transactions in this world. To get our attention others call out to us, and we answer in recognition of our given names. 

As we go through life we may acquire other names, words used informally to describe us beyond our given names. We call these "nicknames". Our struggles to navigate our way through the many difficult circumstances we face in life at times result in us acquiring nom de guerres... These are labels that describe our character as warriors. Some of the labels we acquire are not always flattering. Some nicknames honor us...  Some of them ridicule us. These added names talk about the impressions we make in the face of various circumstances. They tell us whether we strike others as heroes or villains, as Jokers or Scarfaces, as strong or weak, as truth-tellers or liars, as leaders or followers.

In life we sometimes come to be known by the fortunes and misfortunes that come our way. For better or worse some people will label us according to the various experiences that we fall into or that befall us. To be fortunate is one thing... we all desire to be known by the "good things" that happen to us, or that we happen upon. Not so with respect to the "bad things". The naming that is a function of the stigmatization that results from the unfavorable experiences we have had is at times ego-deflating to say the least.

The tendency to limit our perspective of other people's lives to our interpretation of the "bad things" that have been a part of their experience becomes a rather convenient practice. This is a rather easy thing to do especially for those who would like to direct attention away from the skeletons in their own closets. Whether we like it or not, there will be those who will insist that we are nothing more than what they conveniently think we are. It is in the face of this tendency that we must ask the second question: Who do you say that you are?

Beyond the names that we are given at birth, and beyond the nicknames that get heaped upon us by those who seek to define us by certain of our experiences and tendencies; we have a sacred responsibility to name ourselves. We do a disservice to ourselves, and we negate our personal integrity by living according to the transient wisdom and the follies of a circumstantial existence. There should come a time in our journey through this life when we stop and spend the energy necessary to address this most fundamental query... Who am I? Am I at ease with the name I have been given; with its many, sometimes subservient applications? Do I need to take a meaningful pause to identify and emphasize the me that I want to be?

With all due respect to the experiences and aspirations of my ancestors; and with appropriate regard for those who may, or may not wish me well... it ultimately is my responsibility to name myself. It is my solemn duty to reflect on all the experiences that have been a part of my life, with a view to determining who I must be on this my journey. In so doing I have the right to put the names I have been given in perspective, and to cultivate a me that will serve the demands of my chosen course through this life. 

Ultimately I cannot bequeath the responsibility to truly name myself to anyone but me. That, I believe, is what makes any talk about self-determination and personal responsibility meaningful.

To ask someone to take responsibility for your definition of their life is a rather tenuous proposal. It is a burden that we must ultimately desist from heaping upon anyone with the expectation that they must then unquestioningly live out our design for their life. And it is therefore a burden we must adamantly refuse to bear ourselves.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Notorious... A Protracted Epitaph

May not have met him... But I see him every day
Standing on the corners with melancholy in his veins
And a look in his eyes that says
No vacancy here...
My life is overflowing... I am full to the limit
With the burden of 400 years that I am forced to carry...
I'm a hunter on the prowl... Too long I've been the quarry
In a jungle that I despise

May not have met him... But I heard the words he spoke
Leaning against a wall... His eyes reddened by the smoke
Of fires in his mind... That burned against his will
Now he talks... Now he's silent
But it continues still
That incessant flow of rage... Which knows no bounds...
His world is no stage... There's no entertainer there

May not have met him... But his bitterness I've tasted...
We have known his strife
And the anger and frustration
Of every single life... That gets wasted at a station
Waiting for a train... That never comes on time
Stressed out with an-ti-ci-pa-tion...
Tired from standing in a line... Staring down time
In lonely dark tunnels
That have no light approaching

May not have met him
But I know the stench of which he told
The foul odors of a world
That he named in words so cold...
His were the senses... Of a target on the prowl
A hawk stalking chicken
Unconcerned about his own fears
A hero... Often beaten
Brushing aside his own tears...
His head held high... continuing to fight

May not have met him... May not have shook his hand
May not have embraced him
Nor stood with him on all his stands...
But I have felt... all the pain of which he told
And we have known... the scary heat of his cold
And you have walked in the multitude of his lonely
And seen
And heard
And tasted
And felt
The potpourri of a life perfumed without romantic intent...

And while we continue to hate the ways of their death
We love our brothers
As we must love