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.

Advertisements

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.

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.

sideshow.

“can’t you see that all that stuff’s a sideshow?”

-let go- frou frou-

from what i remember about my childhood, not a whole lot mattered more to me than sports. collecting sports cards, playing sports, watching sports, listening to sports, reading sports… that’s all there was. i had one mindset. sports. well, and girls… but i never had enough nerve to actually talk to girls, so i just focused on sports.

then i got older. and more aware. i realized slowly, and with my mom’s insistence, that there was more to this world than simply sports. my brain was shocked.

i learned about politics and religion and that traveling is good for the soul. i learned in high school that girls could get me in trouble, as would lying to my parents and stealing candy from the gas station.

then 9/11 happened and i learned quickly that the world was full of hate. not just from those who hated america, but from americans who hated the outside world. remember “freedom fries”? we hated the french because they wouldn’t go to war in iraq with us so we took the one thing we know would get them to understand we were serious… how tough we americans are…we would call OUR fried potatoes “freedom” fries because…dammit…fried food is american and we stand for freedom more than anything. fried. potatoes.

i learned that people with power could and would go to great lengths to get what they wanted. i started to realize that the religion i had believed in was not what i thought it was. that jesus is somehow bigger than that religion.

i watched as obama won the election and for some reason i thought that would unite america. it did not. clearly.

i realized that there is a lot outside of my control, and what i cannot control doesn’t matter anyway.

how much of what is in our lives is just a sideshow?

how much are we influenced by what is around us and not what is in us? how much do we forget about the people who actually matter to us everyday?

there are all these factors competing for our attention. we live in a hyped up world. no matter what it is, it’s overblown. unless it’s about the good in the world. we don’t hear so much about that.

so much of what is around us is just a sideshow.

there isn’t much we can control these days. there never has been. instead of fighting about who should pay the most taxes and racial tensions and same-sex marriage and whether pete rose should be in the hall of fame, what if we started blocking out the noise? what if we started focusing on people and how we relate to each other? we spend so much time focusing on all the things that really do not matter and forget that what really does, people. maybe then we can start to see past different skin tones and religious beliefs.

when we start breaking down all the nonsense and leave the sideshow behind, that’s when we truly see the value of why we are on this planet.

transparency.

the thing about writing is that it requires a high level of transparency and honesty. especially when you are writing about yourself and your own thoughts. you cannot simply make stuff up and expect it to work. i mean you can always make stuff up, i just don’t know how well it works.

this level of transparency and honesty sometimes scares me as a writer. it actually keeps me from writing often because in reality, i’m more comfortable with being vague and keeping my distance. that doesn’t work as a writer. or i guess maybe that’s why i like to write. maybe these words are a shield. in blogs, the ease of typing and then hiding is appealing. you can write whatever it is that you wish you could say to someone’s face without actually having to look them in the eye. you can express yourself in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise. but i don’t want to do that. as a writer, i want to be the same person on print as i would be if we were meeting face to face.

there is a balance that is difficult to keep at times for me. anyone who knows me knows that i am full of opinions. i cannot dispute that. but that’s the trick, that’s where growing into the person i’m becoming can be difficult when it comes to actually writing about my opinions. sometimes i want to be outspoken and speak my mind and write whatever it is that comes to mind. sometimes writing my thoughts is the last thing i want to do because i know how much my thoughts can differ from others. believe it or not, i hate conflict and the last thing i want from writing is to create any. there are plenty of things i have opinions about that probably differ from my family’s point of view or my wife’s family’s point of view. i have different thoughts about politics than how i was raised, different thoughts on religion, the environment and gays and lesbians. i like the president, that probably isn’t a universal opinion in my family. my parents are MSU grads, i love U-M. it’s just how it is.

the one thing i’ve learned about becoming an adult is that it doesn’t magically happen. and it doesn’t really matter what others think. when i was a teenager i assumed that hitting thirty years of age meant that i would suddenly be more mature than the twenty nine year olds in the room. i figured i would just know how the world works and how to fix stuff. i assumed that there’d be a pay increase in my salary because i was at an established age, and yes, i assumed i’d be established because being thirty meant, immediate success and establishment.

i’m almost half way through this decade of thirties now. nothing happens automatically.

i’m still figuring out this stage. i make mistakes and take leaps and risks. i’m not afraid of being told no and i know full well that things and thoughts can change. ask my wife, life with me is nothing if not unexpected. i call it an adventure. what fun is life if you always know what is coming next?

i’ve changed a lot the past few years. i consider it maturing. that’s what life is. i’ve learned that we have to always be evolving and being prepared for what’s next. i don’t like writing about myself as much as you’d thing. i mean this is a blog where that’s sort of the point right? so it should be easier, it’s not. but i’m evolving. i’m admitting that in order to improve in life and as a writer, i have to show more transparency. life is better when we can really just be who we are supposed to be and not worry about what anyone thinks. right?

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.