Monthly Archives: April 2013

Raising Cain

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There is a story told in the bible of brothers Cain and Abel. Abel was generous, kind and loyal, willing to give of the best he had- it was what God asked of him and he knew that it was right. Cain gave also, but selfishly. He wanted what was best for himself and was unwilling to sacrifice the best of what he had. Abel was rewarded for his good heart and relationship with God. Cain on the other hand was jealous that Abel had such approval from God and instead of deciding to change, to know the God of love intimately the way Abel did, understanding Gods heart and following after him, Cain decided to murder his brother Abel and eliminate the competition between he and his brother for the affection of the God of love.

It seems that we have two basic choices in our lives. Follow after the God of love and obey what he tells us to do. Commit ourselves to understanding the way of love and following that way OR decide to follow the way of our selfish desires and ambitions, to follow the god of self-satisfaction and personal gain.

The God of love tells us to get to know him- he created the universe, the world that we live in and every being on it and created an order that asks us to follow it for peace sake. Then we have gods that walk the earth and tempt us to not follow love and self-sacrifice for others, but rather to do the exact opposite and follow the things that make our own bodies feel good at the expense of our brothers. To do what brings about self-gain.

One God has our interest and our fellow brother’s interest in mind and asks us to think of each other first.

The other god asks us to think of ourselves first and do what is in the best interest of our own progress- and sometimes the things that we will have to do in the interest of our own progress are roofless.

When I moved back to the US and relocated close to Philadelphia last year the first thing that discouraged and angered me the most when I returned was the story of a child shot in a cross fire. An elementary school aged child was shot and killed while walking to school in Philadelphia.

What happened to the person who did the shooting growing up that he or she would live a life that shoots across a school yard. It is possible many things: abuse, neglect, parents on drugs or absent; raised by the streets and mentored by thugs.

Who or what ever raised our children to grow up and become drug dealers, murderers, thieves and swindlers must have raised them to believe that serving one’s self is top priority and that they have to do whatever they can in order to get what they need in life.

Now I am going to talk to the inner- city black community specifically here: I believe that we as a society have effectively taught our children that possessions are more important than people. We have allowed the marketing and material world to enslave a generation of people who are not that far from having been freed from physical slavery. They are enslaved to selfish desires and do not know that loving others and caring for people in the community is freedom. They do not know that each man for himself will die and struggle that way, but that each man holding the hand of the next will build and support so that each one can eat and be free. There needs to be a paradigm shift in our thinking and we who know have to share the truth.

We have raised a generation of Cains, but it is not too late to start raising up Abels.

How did the civil rights movement survive and create change? We did it together. Martin Luther King and the people who supported him could have never influenced the country to create equal rights if he had been promoting selfish ambition. The black community could not have believed in equal rights if each member of the black community believed in taking care of the rights of his own family only. The change and fight for equality came about through personal sacrifice and unity. Now I am sure that there were disagreements and quarrels, but neighbor running down the street and killing neighbor over shoes, jewelry and cars would have never promoted civil rights.

As I evaluate my own family tragedies, I wonder where did black history make an ugly turn in my personal experience. My grandfather moved North from the oppressive south, made a life for himself here, worked hard, bought a home, had children and then his children grew up and there is where I see the fragmented black community appear.

Drugs entered the community and a LARGE portion of people tried them. Many of my family member’s minds and lives were lost to drug abuse- and their children? Some turned out fine, others didn’t. We all know these tragic stories.  And yes- there was oppression and lack of opportunity in the north and many of my father’s generation will say that they were so discriminated against that many really did not have fighting chance, but why wasn’t that moral and struggle of their fathers handed down?

No matter what the story, each person has an opportunity to make a choice of whom they will serve. Will you serve Love or will you serve Hate.

Love= serving others.  In our work, which does provide for ourselves and our families, we can still have a servant’s heart and focus on doing what we do for the sake of others.

Hate= serving self.  In our work that serves others outwardly, we can still be filled with selfish ambition, which will always at some point conflict with a right decision.

Whom you will serve is a heart condition.

We have gotten so confused about what happiness and contentment look like. We have confused having happiness and contentment with having money and possessions and this is a lie!

I saw a story of a man who won the lottery. He bought a large home, started spoiling his child and spending on his pleasures and within just a few short years he had ruined his life. His child with the excess money had turned to partying and drugs and overdosed fairly quickly. His wife left him and he was sad and alone with his money. He says that the money ruined his life.

What I see is that instead of using his money to serve others, he decided to primarily serve himself. Instead of mastering his money, he allowed his money to master him and having that money dictated his behavior.

For a lot of us striving to acquire money dictates our behavior as opposed to integrity and honesty dictating how we acquire and use our money.

We have reversed the truth and perverted our message about the truth: In our music, in our way of living and in raising up our children.

We have written books about how to be successful and content and called it “The Secret.” But I am here to tell you that “the secret,” is LOVE.

Let us stop raising Cain, and start to raise up a generation who is Able.

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Dog Eat Dog World

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Ever felt the sharp pain that makes you lose your breath, of being stabbed in the back by a friend? The piercing stab of a person you called friend seems to just sink deeper into your being and tear through more vital organs in the process than a wound inflicted by someone else.

We all know that it’s a dog eat dog world out there, but betrayal never feels any better because we know this; and knowing this is never an excuse to betray someone.

I recently had a sleepless night because of this issue. Not because someone had betrayed me, but because I had betrayed someone, with my words. It is so easy sometimes, to give a negative opinion that defames a person’s character, but at what cost and to what end?

I could not figure out why I would say what I did. Then it hit me! Jealousy. I had not realized that I was jealous; that I was subtly hurt, offended and envious that the person was treated more kindly by a particular group, and when I had the opportunity- I said something ugly. I was regretful. I had to take it back and change my words.

I realized that often times when someone is betrayed, it is because the betrayer desired something that the person had: attention, relationships, material things, power, money, a promotion… I have betrayed friends in the past and been betrayed and neither side of it feels nice, but in almost every instance I can pinpoint the reason to jealousy. Jealousy is “resentfully or painfully desirous of another’s advantages.”

The desire to want what someone else has, has always been out of control and has gotten worse. The sense of entitlement to hurt others to get what we want has caused so much pain and destruction in our world. It often starts small and goes unrecognized, but the smallest seed of jealousy can cause us to assassinate one another; sometimes literally, as we read about the story of Cain who murdered his brother in a jealous rage and as we see often in inner city drug feuds over money possessions and territory all the way through to the corporate world and governments.

There is not only a cost to the victim, but also to the person who attacks someone else. A lack of peace, lack of contentment. Things that existed before the attack, but that worsen in a person’s heart afterward.

In business it is common for people to steal, take advantage of and betray one another, but is it even acceptable in business? I don’t think so. I think that the way we deal in business reveals who we are already. We just have the power, means and opportunity to act out the ugliness that was in our hearts all along.

I propose that we not let little insults or criticisms slip out of our mouths about others, that these are all forms of an unhealthy emotion that hinders us from loving one another. I propose that when we do say things that we know are ugly, that we correct them, even if we have to go back to the people we spoke to and correct them.

The bottom line is that we should not say what we would not want said about us.  We do not want to tear one another to shreds as dogs do over attention or a piece of bread.

I have two female dogs and they can really get into some bloody feuds over a bowl of food. That’s how we expect dogs to behave sometime and even well trained dogs behave better than that. We humans (myself included) have to learn to turn our hearts to a way that provides for others needs despite what we do or do not have. We have to decide to allow others to have more and be happy for what they have and thankful for what we don’t- knowing that what we may see as lack may be a blessing.

We have to decide to applaud the success of others and bow out gracefully if someone receives something that we wanted.

We can no longer behave as dogs do, who live together one moment but will turn and fight to the death in the next.

We are worth more than that. We are human and capable of more. More compassion, more grace, more love for one another.

We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control what happens in our own hearts.

And so when we do betray- apologize. And when you are betrayed- forgive. It is not easy, but despite how we are treated, we can still determine to be kind.

And so, although it may be a dog eat dog world out there, WE do not have to behave like a bitch.

(Bitch: A female canine animal, especially a dog)