loud noises.

there is so much commotion in the world these days.

sometimes it seems like the world has turned upside down. you know what i mean? we are living in a world where donald trump is a front runner to lead the free world, the gun debate rages people more and more and the water in flint, michigan has potentially destroyed the lives of many of its citizens.

there are so many lies to be told. we hear them everyday.

“obama is coming for your guns”

“only those who deserve healthcare should receive it”

“i’ll make america great again”

“(The water) is coming out of the plant in great condition…It’s clear and drinkable.

it’s just a bunch of loud noises.

we are even to a point where donald trump is more accepted at a christian college than a tenured professor expressing her beliefs.

loud noises.

i’m sure you’ve picked up my opposition to the trump campaign. for me, i guess i assume it’s an obvious choice for all of us. clearly it’s not. but what i have a hard time deciphering is the idea that christians are more accepting of someone who has been documented speaking against other religions, races and economic classes than someone who wishes to stand in solidarity with those different from her.

what i don’t understand is how loud the clamor to fight for the ability to carry a gun is, despite the main point being that no one really wants to take away guns from people who carry them legally and responsibly. it truly is amazing that we can be a society that ignores crucial elements of a text or story, just to bend the narrative the way we want it to be told.

i’m tired of the loud noises, even if right now i’m heaping coals onto the burning embers.

the loud noises scream for freedoms, even at the expense of freedom for those different from them. does that make sense? christians want freedom to discriminate against other religions. that’s essentially what it boils down to. instead of understanding the narrative, many christians have decided that all muslims are bad and shouldn’t be allowed into the country.

gun owners, terrified of losing their guns, are willing to let innocent people die in the streets, as long as their guns aren’t taken away. though that option has never been on the table, nor has it really ever been discussed.

loud noises discourage an appropriate discussion. loud noises distract from the truth.

in flint, political authorities decided to save money and draw water from the flint river, instead of from lake huron treated from detroit. since then, high levels of lead has seeped into the water. this is water that men, women and children drink, bathe in and cook with. despite tests proving otherwise, officials insisted that the water was safe.  now, it’ll cost over a billion dollars to correct the problem and the city is under a state of emergency. was it worth it?

instead of blustery speech and blowing smoke, we should be able to have transparent and honest discussions. differences in opinion doesn’t mean we can’t work together for effective solutions. even if we don’t have the same religion or agree on all topics doesn’t mean we have to be on separate sidelines. we all have our beliefs and it’s good to stand firmly with them. but we shouldn’t be foolish about it.

instead of the loud noises, maybe we just need to quiet down a little.

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outsider.

i should probably be considered an outsider in my family. i’m different from them in so many ways.

i mean, that’s to be expected when you grow up in a very conservative family and vote for obama twice, register with the michigan democratic party and overall be fairly liberal. (though in my younger years i did vote for bush twice as well. we all make mistakes here and there.) oh and i’m black and most of my family is white. there’s that too. i should expect to be shunned right?

but that’s the beauty of this nation. we are not all the same. we can’t hide this fact. we don’t all look the same and believe the same things and that should be okay.

somehow the narrative has fallen off the rails. we’ve developed an “us vs. them” mentality.

the funny thing is, i’m probably a liberal thinker because of the values my parents instilled in me. they taught me to care for the people around me, not build walls to keep them away. though conservative, my parents are the most caring and loving two people i have ever known. still, i am very different from them in how i approach my thoughts and values. but should that separate me from them?

i worked at a church for five years (where i became a bush lover) and i heard more hate speech there than i ever have anywhere else. one of the colleges i considered going to after high school was liberty university. now their president wants to “end those Muslims”. this is just another example why i have such a difficult time identifying myself as a Christian these days. i just don’t believe this is how Jesus would approach the situation. it’s not us vs. them. at least it shouldn’t be.

we fight with each other. we fight against everyone else. we think it’s supposed to be an exclusive club and you can only get in with a special invitation. the only thing is, religion is not a country club.

we cannot follow a man like Jesus if we only want people we like and understand to be given a fair shot at life. we cannot follow a man like Jesus if we want to disturb the peaceful lives of millions of people because it serves our own fearful and selfish impulses. we certainly cannot follow a man like Jesus if we openly discuss murdering people the way the liberty university president did.

a few years ago, i wrote that the streets are on fire. that we are just sitting here fighting with each other about stupid and irrelevant things while the world around us went up in flames.

and now donald trump is trying to be president? and i read on facebook that someone i know (from the same church from earlier) would “vote for him in a heartbeat”?  the man who wants to kick out millions of peaceful, law-abiding people because of fear? and people agree with that? wow. the same man who wants to kick Mexicans out of the country and makes faulty claims about black people and crime? that guy?

we are the most violent country in the developed world when it comes to guns. we have a mass shooting nearly every day. yet there are people in this country who continue to look the other way. the NRA has these people so riled up, i’ve never seen anything like it. people cannot think straight because they have swallowed the poison pills the gun lobbyists have fed them. i’m not a hunter, but i cannot imagine the need for handguns to shoot deer and turkeys. no one is trying to take away your guns. unless you think you need military weapons to shoot pheasants.

children are getting killed in the streets, being lured into allies to be executed. the police are shooting those they have sworn to protect. companies have to update their policies on workplace violence and what to do in case of a mass shooting.

but still the crazies think there is no problem. even worse, they think the solution to the “no problem” is more guns. really.

talk about the streets being on fire.

it gets tiring. trying to fight with each other about all of this nonsense is getting us nowhere. we hate having discussions about it. we hate even more when we disagree. these days, having discussions with people we disagree with is a sign of weakness.

and honestly, some who will read this are people i love who don’t think the way i do. you might want to vote for donald trump, and while i couldn’t disagree with you more, it’s alright.

it’s alright because we are all different. but being different should not mean we continue this barrage of attacks against each other. we just need to start working harder at accepting our differences. we need to realize, that as a nation of immigrants from all over the world, different is inevitable and amazing. pushing fear towards the masses is a horrible and dysfunctional tactic.

wonder.

this world is a wonder.

and it makes me wonder.

i wonder about the past… it just seems to happen so fast. one day, two days turns into a week, a month. suddenly a few years have gone and i’m left remembering where we’ve been and wondering about where we’re going.

i wonder about today. i wonder how we got here.

social media blasts us with stories of ferguson, missouri in a blaze. an officer shoots an unarmed man in the head and doesn’t go to trial. i wonder about that. going to trial doesn’t mean guilt or innocence, it just means that more questions need to be asked. i wonder how the grand jury can decide that all necessary questions have been asked and answered.

the president puts forward an order regarding immigration.

the internet explodes.

i guess we have forgotten that almost all of us are not from here. we are the byproducts of immigration, some of us illegally. but that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. why bother with the truth of history?

the united states spends more on defense than the next twenty-six countries combined. somehow it’s justified. yet there are those who think cuts need to be made to education. as if we haven’t made life tough enough for kids. now the one place they are supposed to go specifically for learning, we cannot even sustain that? then we cannot figure out why kids are on the streets and crimes escalates. that makes me worry more than wonder.

i wonder about those who proclaim to know Jesus and celebrate his miracles and his life. many of these people are the ones who believe you must earn health care, that it’s not a right, that there then must be a premium on health and life. if being healthy and having access to health care is a privilege and not a right, i wonder how that works with your theology. what has any of us done to deserve Jesus? we christians like to say that Jesus is the ultimate healer right? yet the system in place for those who need it is only accessible for those who have earned it? i wonder how that can be possible to believe.

some headlines ask questions that we cannot possibly answer.

i hear that sex trafficking in this country is on the rise. why? how? who are the monsters that think this is okay?

 some questions have easy answers… at least in my mind…ISIS exists now because of an unnecessary war we started over a decade ago that ironically opened the floodgates for something we vowed to destroy.

this world is full of wonder. there is good in this world. i know too many good people who are doing so much good. there is also the opposite. people more concerned with bank accounts and power and image to worry about anything else. that is what concerns me.

it makes me wonder about the future.

here we are again.

so here we are again. it seems like this debate is never ending. are we really arguing about whether SANTA CLAUS is really white? is this truly the latest outrage? are we discussing the verifiable facts of the skin color of Jesus? Am I really even stooping to the level of a fox news anchor to address more outlandish commentary… AGAIN?

look, i realize that we all have our vices. we all have our short comings. i’m not going to call megyn kelly stupid, a moron… enough people have done that. she has to live with herself and her beliefs and if her biggest issue these days is the skin color of a mythical character, than so be it. she must truly live a charmed life.

i’m not really upset at her insistence upon the skin color of Jesus, or Kris Kringle or whoever she desires to be white. it happens. as a black man, i’ve been living in a white world most of my life. i’ve lived with the insistence of many white people that the white world is better than any other. it’s what people do. black people do it too. so do asians and greeks. we think that what we have, what we are, who we are… is better. it’s how we cope. we put on a facade. we try to fake it.

megyn kelly’s message to the children of the world that santa and Jesus are/were white as “verifiable fact” isn’t really the main issue to me. ignorance is as ignorance does. it’s not significant to me that someone without verifiable facts can go on the air in this country and speak their faulty opinions. i think we know that this has been done for decades now. most people can see through this type of stuff. the problem i have mainly with her statements is that we are still talking about skin color in the realm that we are. we are still talking about one skin color being better than another. really? if that isn’t the case than why was it brought up?

my hope has always been, if someday i am blessed enough to be a father, to be able to discuss with my children the beauty of their heritage. i want to be able to talk about their dutch heritage they will receive from their mother. i want them to who they are and where they came from. i want them to be proud of their african heritage. i want them to read about george washington carver and all the things he created out of peanuts. i want them to read about harriet tubman and the underground railroad. i want them to hear the old spirituals that slaves would sing to make it through the long and painful days in the sun. i want them to know about jackie robinson and bill russell and now i can legitimately express to them that they too can become president. hopefully if i have a daughter i will be able to tell her she can be president too, based on history. but what i have never looked forward to is discussing ignorance with my children someday.

i don’t look forward to the day where i have to discuss that sometimes people can be cruel and mean and that is never going to change like my mom and dad had to do more than once. i hope i never have to discuss with them how ugly humanity can be. i remember the tears i shed as a kid because of the names white kids would call me. i have always hoped that by the time i had kids, this type of discussion would bot be necessary. yet in 2013 we are engaged in a heated debate about the skin color of a fake person and how outrageous it would be for this fake person to be anything but white.

is this really still the world we live in? megyn kelly didn’t go on air and shock her producers, directors and the entire news department at fox. that isn’t possible. they had a panel to discuss this. meaning this was a planned effort on the part of the news division to discuss the skin color of a mythical character. they didn’t go on air to discuss poverty, crime, lack of quality education for children or the food deserts that cause so many of our citizens to live unhealthy lives. no, her platform was used to once again show how ignorant we can be. her platform was used once again to show the disconnect between reality and fantasy.

i don’t really get why it makes a difference to a news anchor (and i use that term loosely in this case) whether santa is black, white, asian or cuban? what if i present santa too my kids as a penguin or a lion or if i, get this, never introduce them to santa at all? that santa or jesus is “verifiable fact” is just not true, but we know that. what we don’t really know is why it matters.

i don’t really enjoy writing about these types of issues. writing about ignorance can’t be enjoyable. i don’t think reading about it is either. i just hope someday we can really begin to focus on what matters. i hope someday that we can really look past the surface of matters. someday.

the freedom of our equality.

June 12, 2013 will mark the 46th anniversary of the supreme court ruling that struck down a ban on interracial marriage.

that means 46 years ago, in some states, i could have been charged with a crime for marrying my wife. actually i wouldn’t have been able to call her my wife because a marriage would have been illegal. i would not have been able to marry her. to love her completely. to live with her. to start a family with her. to share dreams with her. it would have been forbidden.

it was actually a law in many states that a black man could not marry a white woman.

people actually believed it was wrong.

why is that? because the shade of our skin doesn’t match? was it a moral issue? fear? religion? what basis was there?

why would anyone try to stand in the way of my personal business when it comes to who i love, who i want to be with? why would there have been a law permitting only people of the same skin color to marry, to live with each other? why would my marriage affect anyone else?

i cannot fathom living in a time where i could not marry the woman i loved because the law said so. i cannot imagine being told that living with her was unconstitutional.

it’s an outrage isn’t it? hopefully it’s an outrage.

today, i have gay and lesbian friends who are amazing people. they actually eat just like other human beings. they put their pants on the same way i do. one leg at a time. they have friends and relatives and moms and dads. the point is, they are just like the rest of humanity.

i understand that we all have different opinions and views. i actually believe that’s what makes america beautiful. i am proud to live in a nation where we can be free to worship as we please, or to not worship if we don’t want to, to believe as we wish and to be whoever it is that we want to be. we have the opportunity to dream, even if we never reach our goals, we have the ability to imagine them. not everyone in this world has these freedoms, and i refuse to take them lightly.

but here we are with gay marriage on the agenda. and it’s back to determining the laws governing people’s rights. i see gun control owners stampeding to buy more guns to protect themselves. i hear their boisterous cry to never let anyone take away the second amendment, as if that is even on the table. we all want our freedoms as protected by the constitution. i am not a gun owner, and probably never will be. i have vastly different opinions on the use of guns and for their necessity in our society. however, i would never try to change someones mind about gun ownership. some people believe that they are absolutely needed and if that is what you believe, so be it. that’s the beauty of america.

but what is ugly about america is when we try to stampede others. when we attempt to push others down with our beliefs. when we take our individual moral beliefs and use the legal system to back us up. when we say we want less government but cry that we will take our beliefs to the courts. how can this be?  the legal system is in place to protect our freedoms, that was the vision of our forefathers. it is not meant to be set up to take away the rights of our fellow citizens who have not committed a crime.  loving someone of the same-sex is not a crime. we might have differing beliefs as to the morality of it, but that is our individual right. in america we have the freedom to believe whatever it is that we want to believe, but it is not okay to use the government to force others into oppression because of our individual morality. precisely what the separation of church and state was meant to protect was the morality of the people. the right to have our morals and beliefs and ideas and opinions without suffering governmental persecution. the same applies today.

we might agree or disagree with the morality of same-sex marriage, but for us to use our beliefs to alter the rights of others is far from morality. the church may have it’s own opinion and view of what is moral in regards to gay marriage. churches in america have the freedom in this country to decide for themselves what will be permissible for them.  that is the beauty of america.

i am not using this blog to state my personal beliefs one way or another about gay marriage, though i have the right to do so. my goal in this post is to state that our protections that we enjoy, are in place because freedom is what we seek,what we have always sought in america. freedom for women voters, freedom for interracial marriage, freedom from tyranny from oppressive rulers in england that forced their religion upon the people. this is america and the freedom for individuals, where all men are created equal, still stands today.

pay attention.

so i’ve been away from writing for a bit. not because i was underwhelmed with thoughts. that rarely happens.

i’ve been thinking a lot. probably too much.

there has just been so much going on, i haven’t figured out a way to get my brain to slow down enough to let me write some thoughts down. i’ll just call it a writing sabbatical.

since the last time i really wrote anything:

the president has been re-inaugurated and the ugly politics in washington has continued in its usual ugly fashion. the politicians who we elect through our beliefs and morals and consciences and then pay through our own paychecks have continued to thoroughly ignore the same people they took an oath to protect and serve. however, i’m at a point with this where i don’t know who to blame more, the politicians or the people who vote but turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to politics in america. we are the ones who let this sort of chaos rise up when we, in typical american style, pass off the sincere responsibility due to all voting citizens to pay attention, to care, to simply not be apathetic. it is not difficult for us to form an opinion on who the bachelor should give his roses too or what “kimye” should name their baby. yet when our nation faces a crisis, all we can muster seemingly is this dispassionate eye roll and say ‘dumb idiot politicians’ and flip the channel to duck dynasty.

now i can easily get sucked into a sunday evening marathon of ‘keeping up with the kardashians’ as quickly as anyone. that isn’t hard to admit, yet i know that our country functions at its peak when people from both sides of the aisle speak intelligently about their passionate belief systems. i’m not really talking about the gun control debate or whether we should nuke north korea. i will say that while i was raised to not really like guns, i have to hand it to the NRA. somehow they found a way to scare a whole bunch of people into buying a whole lot of guns and memberships to their club in a very short amount of time. it’s actually pretty impressive. but anyway, the point i’m trying to make here is this: pay attention.

for too long i’ve heard this “i don’t care” ideology from too many americans. “as long as it doesn’t affect me!” that’s another gem i hear from among others, good solid christian people. you mean to tell me that it doesn’t matter what happens to the little guy as long as you get yours? interesting theory.

in this country we have let the rich (corporate america) get richer, while the poor (middle-class and lower-class america) get poorer. we have done this by not caring enough about the politicians we elect. we haven’t done our homework. we do this by fighting any reform that allows for the crumbs of our tables to fall to the dogs of the streets. ( as long as i get mine!) sometimes we barely even notice the dogs. i’m not talking about the people who stand outside in the rain shivering while holding a “help me i’m a poor college student” sign while their buddy takes his break in the SUV around the corner drinking starbucks. i’m talking about the single mother who is working double shifts just to buy formula for her baby. the famous line i always hear from compassionate christians is “well she shouldn’t have gotten herself knocked up!”makes me think of the verse where Jesus draws the line in the sand. i’m talking about teachers who are saddled with crowded classrooms and lowered funding because well, “we don’t have the money for it”. i’m talking about the laid-off worker who just had his unemployment cut because, “he needs to stop being so darn lazy!” meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor has never been larger. CEOs on wall street are bringing home more money than ever before. for some reason however, instead of finding solutions, all we want to do is blame the other guy.

america was built on a premise that, here we can enjoy freedoms unattainable anywhere else. sure, that does allow for anyone to have the freedom to not care about a single thing. how prosperous will that get us if that becomes the prevailing opinion? our great country, has awarded us the ability to think freely and share openly a discourse not enjoyed in many parts of the world. yet we are more focused on finger-pointing and issuing blame. it’s never our fault. it’s always the other side who doesn’t get it. we teach our children to take responsibility for our actions and then when talking about taxes we nearly break a finger pointing so hard at the other party.

it’s about time now for us to start caring more, but in a way that cultivates a better relationship with those who have differing views. it’s time to actually care. to care about what the other side has to say. it’s time we start working toward a solution one issue at a time. some say that the problems facing america are too big to really care enough because well “we’re screwed anyway”. it’s like that saying: how do you eat a whale? one bite at a time. we won’t solve everything just by simply having an opinion or being more passionate. but it ‘s a start. it’s a way to begin our journey from here to there.

What Would People Think?

this is not like me.

i promise you. i talk about a lot of things and write about even more but even this is a taboo topic for me normally. i don’t really like to talk about my personal thoughts about Jesus.

but.

i probably should.

usually i am most moved by music and most of my material for writing comes from songs i randomly hear. this is no exception.

i heard this song from the 90’s the other day… “what would people think if they heard that i was a Jesus freak?”

and i began to think about it. what would people REALLY think if i said i was a real Jesus freak? i mean, i have a rule, i don’t talk about politics or religion unless i know how the outcome of that conversation will be. why stir up the hornets nest if you don’t want to get stung?

but here’s the thing. i do love Jesus. a lot. why should i be afraid to say that?

it’s so much easier to argue about sports, because in the end, does it really matter? no one is losing sleep because i love the yankees more than the tigers. it is not going to affect anyone else. even in politics, will people really be angry if i am a democrat? even if i claim to be a Christian? that’s really not my problem. but talking about my faith? do i really want to put myself on a pedestal? what if people don’t feel the same way? worse yet, what if people expect me to live up to the expectations?

the song goes, “i don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak, there ain’t no disguising the truth.”

i guess that is what has always made me nervous, that there might be some disguising of the truth. that what people see in me is not what should be seen. i am not always a nice person. i have little tolerance for things or people that annoy me. i don’t love the way Jesus loves. i don’t care for everyone the way Jesus does, so how can i call myself a Jesus freak?

i wish i had those answers. but i want to be a Jesus freak. it’s actually pretty cool. i don’t expect to live up to the high and lofty expectations everyday or ever. i am going to stumble and i am going to crack and fall. maybe that is what makes being a Jesus freak so enticing, because i know i can’t do it under my own power. i will never be the bible-thumping door to door Jesus salesman. i won’t always initiate conversations about the end times and whether there is a purgatory or wonder about the age of the earth. those things might be for some people. i just know that as a flawed person, there must be more for me than the everyday. and being a Jesus freak, it might just be the way to go.