fear.

i’m just guessing here, but we probably don’t agree on everything. should we fight? should we call each other names? should i do everything in my power to stop you from being successful?

if you are a different gender, should i be given higher privileges simply because of my anatomy? should i be able to speak to you in any way i please just because i can? should i get paid more to do the same job just because? if i was a single man (or married, really), should i be able to sleep with whoever i want and not worry about any labels detracting from my character?

if we disagree on politics, can i hold you to a higher standard than i do myself? do you mind if i call you stupid and an idiot because you don’t agree with me?

why invest in our schools? it’s not like education is a direct correlation to our future. let’s spend billions of taxpayer dollars on a mother***** wall. let’s let the school crumble. and why not put someone with no experience and no qualifications at the head of our schools. makes sense right? well i guess if we can do that for the head of the country, the commander -in – chief, it won’t hurt to do that for education right?

if we believe in different religions, should it be okay for me to shun you? clearly you are wrong and i am right anyway… right? i’ll just call your people radicals if you’re Muslim and hopeless if you’re  Atheist. that’s okay right?

maybe i should build a large fence around my house, to keep my neighbors away? you never know who and what is out there.

since global warming isn’t really a thing, maybe it’s okay to throw my trash out the window. who cares right?

we don’t need the arts… we need more military, right? the enemy is getting closer.

fear is the most dangerous drug. once we are hooked on it, we need it. we hunger and thirst for it and we don’t even realize it. fear influences our decisions. fear makes us question truth. fear turns facts into alternative facts and we are even okay with that. when we are addicted to fear, we allow our morality to turn into poison that we then inject others with.

we’ve allowed our fear to turn us into a nation of hate and divisiveness. instead of celebrating our differences, we despise them. we have forgotten that our hope is not in our solidarity, but in our ability to unite and build together solid foundations for our communities.

so, we can continue to tear each other down, or we can find a way to use each of our unique qualities and gifts to unite. we can continue to say “ME FIRST!”, or we can say “let’s do this together”.

is that too much?

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never.

i didn’t start this blog as a way for me to tell you what to think. it’s not my style. i may have strong opinions, but they are mine and not yours and i know the difference. usually, my goal is to guide my readers to think in new ways, to gain perspective in areas they’ve never thought of before.

but.

this time is different.

this time it has to be said.

never trump.

not now. not ever.

not if we believe in humanity, in the idea that we all have been created equally in the eyes of God. not if we believe that we, the people of the united states of america, have unalienable rights. not if we remember the long roads we have traveled to get to this point.

not if we believe in properly honoring the men and women who have served in our military. not if we truly respect those who have given their lives to protect this nation. what type of commander in chief actually says “it’s easier this way” when given a purple heart from a veteran? “i always wanted one of these”… really??

we cannot elect a man who has denigrated women for decades. we cannot elect a man who feasts on the decaying ideas that one race is better than another. we cannot elect a man who seeks to divide a nation with fear tactics instead of rallying a democracy built upon the concept that we are all in this together, despite our differences, not separated because of them. we cannot elect a man who has suggested that russia hack our computer systems in search of potential state secrets in emails. nevermind what we believe regarding hillary, this public invitation proves yet again that trump lacks the mental capacity to be a leader of our nation.

the values that we believe in here in america, at least the values that i believe america to be about do not include encouraging countries led by dictators to hack us. they do not include electing a man for  president who, when he does not get what he wants, decides he won’t pay or threatens to sue. not a man who, when questioned by the media, revokes media credentials rather than answer the tough questions. we cannot elect a man who says that because of his business record, he is qualified. not when his business record is littered with bankruptcies and lawsuits. not when his record is filled with destruction and workers without payment for their services. that is not how america operates. that is not how a leader leads.

i know that there are some who think that hillary would be devastating for this country, specifically for our armed forces. every one has a right to an opinion. but consider how damaging a president trump would be for our troops. he has suggested not supporting our nato allies. the very notion of not supporting allies is incredibly dangerous and immediately  puts our troops in unnecessary danger. he has mocked a known war hero in john mccain for being a prisoner of war, essentially calling him a loser for being captured. this is who we want as commander in chief? at different points in time trump has praised the leadership styles of vladimir putin, saddam hussein and kim jong un. is this the model for our troops to follow? let us not forget that bluster is no substitute for coherency. being the loudest and most boisterous voice in the room does not qualify a person as a leader.

we have our faults as americans and even a checkered past. we have had troubling times. we have fought through slavery and we were late to allow women the right to vote. it took later than it should have to establish even the basic of civil rights. we have seen depressions and sometimes we have responded too late to global threats and persecutions. but we do have a brighter future, because we have overcome these things. now is not the time to turn back, to become dark and sinister versions of ourselves. now is not the time to build walls and close our doors.

when i look at my infant daughter, i have a vision of an america where she can flourish. i want her to be able to have same opportunities that men have and to be compensated equally for her work. i want her to see a kaleidoscope of people, from skin color to religious and ethnic backgrounds to the diversity of opportunity that we all strive for. i hope that she questions why we would have even doubted that a woman could be president. i hope she asks me why it took so long for a black man to be elected president. i don’t want her to read in her history books about president trump and the legacy behind deserting allies and troops and the lunacy behind ignoring facts in favor of bluster.

as we consider our options this fall, before we make our decisions, take the time to really think about who we are as americans. when we go to vote, i hope that we remember that our humanity is worth more than being true to a political party affiliation. this time is different.

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.

Bye Felicia. I mean… 2015. 

i’d like to think i’m a glass half full type of guy.

then i realize that i’m probably more of a glass half full but wish the glass was completely full type of guy. you know what i’m saying? how come no one talks about the glass actually being completely full? what’s so bad about that?

yeah, it’s cool to be positive, but why not have it all? it’s lame, i know.

anyway, here’s the thing. 2015 was not my favorite year. at all. looking back, i can see that pretty much the entire year was filled with wishing i had something more than what i already did. i wasn’t unsatisfied with what i had, i just wanted more. it’s the basic “lose perspective” situation that we find ourselves in every once in awhile. sure i have an amazing wife and a house and puppy that’s basically a human to us and a decent car and a job with benefits and something like 6 weeks of paid time off… yeah i guess for me that wasn’t good enough. pathetic right? i want to take solace in knowing i’m not the only one but, whatever. i’ll own my patheticness

this year was rough for me in so many ways, and not just because of donald trump. he’s not the issue, at least not in this post. unless we are talking about how he’s seemingly the only person who can get away with saying sexist, racist and completely ignorant things on a daily basis. somehow there are people who still think hillary is worse. but we aren’t talking about trump. not today. this year was rough and that’s okay. i grew a lot. i learned a lot. i’m a much better man for it. that’s the benefit of seeing the finish line. you start to get some of that missing perspective back.

going into 2016, i doubt i’ll do any resolutions. they don’t really work anyway, not for me at least. what i do want to do is look back at this past year and remember the good and the bad and even all of the ugly. i don’t want to forget the lessons and the laughter and the moments that stopped me in my tracks. i want to remember that every moment is part of the journey. yep, it’s corny and all, but sometimes corny is cool. i don’t know if 2016 will be the year dreams are made of, unless trump finally disappears, but i’m hoping that i keep perspective the entire year this time.

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.