When did we stop holding one another up.

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When did we stop holding one another up.

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the acquittal of the man who killed him the most prevalent statement that I have heard by those who defended the killer was that “Black people kill one another all of the time- now they want to make a big deal about someone else killing one of them.”

While that statement is corrupt and intrinsically evil on so many different levels, the issue that I have to address is the slither of truth in it that black people regularly kill one another.

I have postulated many times why this occurs, poverty, oppression, greed, selfishness, lack of knowledge of history and the past, effects of slavery and so.

BUT none of that changes the fact that each person has his own choice to make. When a person pulls a trigger and commits murder- that was a personal choice that he could have made differently.

I have seen impoverished peoples living together in peace and harmony, helping one another with what little they had and surviving- content together with very little.
Sacrificing what little one has to help others is love.
Standing on your tippy toes and reaching above and beyond over your head to boost another up so that they can reach higher is love- and what happens is that the love that you show returns to you in multiple ways. What that person grabbed for and reached because of your support, may be the very thing that turns around and feeds you as well.

How did the love get lost in the black community? What happened that we stopped banding together to help one another so that everyone’s child was fed? At what point did my car and house mean more to me than your child’s life?

I don’t know precisely at what turn in black history crack became more prevalent on the streets than human kindness, but I know that for each individual it came down to a choice.

Was it a choice to abandon God and forget the real source of our provisions? Was it a choice to abandon the knowledge of yesterday, our history, and ignorantly run forward with an each man for himself mentality only looking at the gain today and not the cost to our people tomorrow.
Was it a choice to not gain wisdom and understand that it is better to hold your brother up and be there to catch him if he were to fall? Or was it a combination of it all?

I don’t know what the beginning of the problem was, but I believe that the answer is to turn back to the true and living God, to search for the truth, and learn to love.

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We Are Symbiotic

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We are symbiotic creatures, so how much more did God the creator, plan for us to provide for one another?  We have a symbiotic relationship with things around us. Bacteria live on our skin naturally to protect us and our skin is a home for the bacteria; the same with natural fungi that we all carry.   We live amongst the trees which we need to produce oxygen in our environment and the trees need our carbon dioxide to take in and survive.  We have a symbiotic relationship with our pets, and the list goes on.

 

Humans living symbiotically with the nature around them are one of the natural ways that we sustain life through each life providing for the other.  Symbiosis refers to different species living together, but is it not also a model for how we are to live among ourselves as humans also? 

 

We are at the top of the food chain more or less (less- if you find yourself alone in a dark jungle at the wrong hour of the day) so we then as beings with higher understandings and capabilities, should also understand the interdependent relationship that we have with one another.  We need one another’s protection, work, food and personal contribution to human kind.  But I also believe that we need one another’s compassion, kindness, understanding and forgiveness.  I believe that we were designed to be interdependent of one another indiscriminate of race, color, creed, religion or socioeconomic status and that all of the things listed above are to be offered to all of human kind by human kind.

 

The rich and the poor both should be feeding one another on some level, literally and intellectually.  Physical poverty does not equate to mental nor spiritual poverty and physical riches does not equate to spiritual nor mental riches hence we all have something to offer one another even if it’s a kind word, a single piece of bread or a book of knowledge and a feast.  Those who are financially rich have something beyond money or food to offer and that is equality and friendship.  It is rare to see a very poor person dining at the table of a rich person and vice versa.  Some would say it unwise to do so for fear of various things; but what if character was the cause for dining together? Dining with a person of rich character is dining with a person of rich character no matter poor or rich and dining with a person of impoverished character, lacking generosity, kindness and ethical behavior toward others is still dining with that person rich or poor. 

 

Do we ever cross economic barriers and invite to the table the person of character whom we can learn from who may be considered the most rich?  Do we ever take the time to cross economic barriers and invite to the table the person of character whom we can learn from who may be considered the most poor? 

 

And how do we know a person’s character besides taking time to talk to them?  It definitely cannot be determined based on religious basis nor outward behaviors nor appearance.   Some people with the most “socially unacceptable” behaviors and others that seem like weirdo’s are the most kind people you could ever meet.  And on the other hand some who appear to be the most ethical and seem to be living for some of the most worthy causes, have hidden agendas and selfish motives and would turn out to be some of the most hateful people you have ever met.

 

All of that being said; I do not believe that we should mistreat nor avoid like the plague hateful people either, but that character is something that we can only come to know through talking with people and that everyone should be given an equal chance.

 

I believe that our basic interdependence must be recognized for our survival and sometimes I think that we are forced to depend on those we would not have normally chosen to depend on to show us their character and how much we needed them despite what we thought. 

 

We all have something to offer others that they need and we all need something from others.  When we are willing to put out consumptions with our own needs aside to focus on the needs of others- that’s love.  Who will you invite to dinner tomorrow?

 

“Jesus road in on a donkey, so get off your high horse.”

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“Jesus road in on a donkey, so get off your high horse.”

Tulani

My 9 y/o wants a horse so badly.  She hopes we surprise her with one one day for her birthday.  I think I might actually teach her to be humble by saving up and buying her a donkey…

Some of us (including myself) might need to ride a donkey around town sometimes to remind us of what’s true- humility

 

When you are a jerk- APOLOGIZE

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When you are a jerk-  APOLOGIZE

So what should you do when you are a jerk and you realize it-
APOLOGIZE
There are numerous stories that I can tell of when I am the jerk and need to apologize, but you hear enough about me, so today I am going to talk about my youngest daughter Louise.
Louise is a wonderful 7 year old who is loving and kind and sweet and generous, but also is very bold and straight forward. She will give you the shoes off of her feet on a rainy day, her hat scarf and gloves on a snowy day and her last bite of candy on Halloween night. She is naturally a giver (like my husband; and I have a lot to learn from them) But she also is blunt and speaks her mind (also like my husband)
So at Louise’s school they assign 5th grade buddies to every second grader and the 5th grade buddies read to them in class, and help them with work- It’s a great idea. But Louise goes into mute mode when she is uncomfortable around someone she does not know well and will refuse to speak. So all year long she has not said a word to her 5th grade buddy, just shakes her head, smiles or high fives her in the hall, but zero conversation. She told us yesterday night that at their last ice cream social today with their 5th grade buddies that she was going to finally say something to her- we were happy about that.
So today while they were eating banana splits, Louise asked her 5th grade buddy her name, and she replied “Tammy” Then Louise turned to her classmate Thelma and says “Tammy creeps me out!” And that was her one sentence in front of Tammy this year!
Is she kidding me? Nope she’s not!
Louise, who has been just giving Tammy wide eyed stares all year, finally said one sentence in front of her, one short, rude sentence. And so that you can picture this scene, Louis has some huge eyes that she opens even wider when she’s staring at someone she doesn’t want to talk to, I mean she’s adorable, but has eerily gigantic eyes- To give you an idea, her stair is sort of like that wide eyed marsupial pictured…. So go figure whom the real “creepy” one must be between Louise and her fifth grade buddy-

Needless to say I had a brief conversation with Louise about how we should treat people, especially those who are going out of their way to help us. I told her that we shouldn’t be mean to mean people either, but it takes a special kind of meanness to be mean to kind people. Now don’t get me wrong, although I do teach her kindness, when it comes to bullies, she has my full blessing when she puts the smack down on ’em and I think that the public should thank her for that. She is just giving a bully the spanking that his momma forgot to give him that morning; and when that bully is accepting his Nobel Piece Prize in 30 yrs., he will remember to thank Louise for beating the daylights out of him when he was in 2nd grade and teaching him the path that he should not go down.
…But I digress.

Louise said that after she saw the look on Tammy’s face and realized that she’d hurt her feelings, she felt terrible about it. I told her that the best that she can do now is to APOLOGIZE. I told her that we will all make mistakes and say mean things at times, but what’s important is to recognize it and APOLOGIZE. Simple as that.

Now some of us, like myself really beat ourselves up over verbal snafus. I mean we can really put ourselves in the WWE against ourselves and break chairs over our own heads then put ourselves in the car, hit the ejection seat button and then run ourselves over. But condemning yourself is counterproductive, you are still a good person, just APOLOGIZE- everyone makes mistakes.

And anyone who points their finger at you for making a mistake is making a mistake themselves in that moment.
Remember that wonderfuly generous heart that I told you Louise has? She still has it- dispite her mean remark. And now she gets to show that sweet heart of hers and APOLOGIZE.

So when you are a jerk, don’t sweat it- APOLOGIZE.

(Names were changed to protect the identity of the people in this story)

If Jesus Showed Up in a Skirt Would You Recognize Him?

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Get your eyes off of my clothes and onto my heart! We are not the sum of our tattoos, pants, skirts, what’s under them nor any of our physical parts- We are the sum of what’s in our hearts;  And that- you can’t see…

I recently had a conversation with a very wise woman who is standing by a family member who many would describe as an outcast. She is embracing the person and loving them despite what anyone thinks and others harsh judgments and she may be the persons only friend right now as most others have turned their backs on the person.

She was troubled by how quickly people forget their own serious issues and struggles. How they pardon who they want to pardon, forget the mistakes and off beat decisions of their own, but turn and judge the next for the similar decisions and sometimes even judge people under the excuse of righteousness. She said that so many people who say that they know Jesus, would not recognize him if he showed up in a skirt-

That statement was profound to me. And while many would think it blasphemy to imply that Jesus would dress in the attire of a woman, I found it profoundly like the quiet character of the Christ that I have come to know.

I can totally see the creator of the world, turning himself into a human man, dressing himself as a woman and walking into the church or the homes of the church leaders to identify their reactions. He- as the all-knowing God would have already known how they were going to react, but he would want their true selves to be revealed to them as well. And sometimes we don’t even know what’s truly in our hearts until we are in a peculiar situation.

For example- many would say that they do not discriminate based on color nor religion, nor sexual orientation but the real opinion of others of a different color or religion or orientation will be exposed when your child brings that person home and tells you that they are going to marry them. That’s when every bias you may have ever had will come out. And hopefully there are none, but you surely will find out in that moment.

I can imagine Jesus turning himself into whatever bias we may have and showing up at our door as it and asking will we let him in to eat at our table and be a part of our regular lives and will we treat him kindly and see his beautiful heart?

I like that show where the boss of a corporation dresses in disguise to go in to work side by side with his employees. While he is there he determines what improvements need to be made on their behalf, he listens to what they are saying and rewards the ones who were earnest and honest workers. At the end of the show, he pulls his fake mustache and wig off (or whatever the disguise is) and tells his employees that he is the CEO, or owner (or HNIC LOL!) of the company- and he is always someone so high up in the corporation that the workers usually have never seen him up close and personal enough to recognize him. I am sure after he reveals who he is everyone goes back and takes full inventory of everything they said in his presence that week. It never seems that he was there to chastise misbehaving employees, but rather to find noteworthy ones and reward them, but imagine how the rude ones would have behaved had they known that they were working elbow to elbow with the bosses boss! Imagine if they had mistreated the boss because they didn’t like the pink suit that the producers of the show put him in, imagined if they shunned him for having on a long wig, or imagine if they decided to send him in as a woman and some could tell that it was a man and avoided or God forbid ridiculed him? No matter how outrageous his disguise may have been , I am quite sure that the boss would have been appalled and maybe even hurt to see how he was treated when people had no idea who he was and the flip in their behavior if they only knew who was under those clothes. How superficial it would be for anyone to have treated him any different than they would have if they knew that he was the boss.

What I see here, is that one never knows who another is underneath the costume of their skin.

It would have been the most honorable employees and the ones that we cheered for the most who were able to ignore what he looked like and were able to treat him as if he were another respectable employee, just as they would want to be treated.

That seems to always be the bottom line. Put yourself in someone’s shoes and decide how you would want to be treated.

Love is not judgmental based on anything- Not based on color, not based on religion, not based on sexual orientation, not based on smell, sight, taste nor touch. None of our physical senses should determine how we treat someone.

“Close your eyes and open your heart” Jennifer Hicks

This is one of my favorite quotes.

So what if Jesus showed up at your door in a skirt? Would you be so busy relying on your eyes that you’d miss his heart? Do you know how to love people and treat them the same no matter what they look like?

Too fat, too skinny, too pretty, too gaudy, too loud, too quiet, too gay- Let’s just call the whole thing off!

Get your eyes off of my clothes and onto my heart! We are not the sum of our tattoos, pants, skirts, what’s under them nor any of our physical parts- We are the sum of what’s in our hearts;  And that- you can’t see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love is a Co-opportunity

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Recently my husband and I were house hunting and came across a home that was in a co-opportunity community. We took a look at the home and talked to the owners who told us that their community was a co-op community established by Quakers in the 40s so that people of all religions and backgrounds could live together on a homestead free from discrimination and in a neighborly environment where they helped one another sustain their land. Sounded awesome until they said that the land was owned by the entire community collectively and that the families owned the houses but not the land that their home was on which could be leased for 99 years and renewed.

This was so that the community as a whole had collective control over one another and over who could move in. In addition they voted to decide if any prospective person or family could move in and the prospective family had to first meet every neighbor in the community, after which time the neighbors would join together and vote the family in or out. If voted in- the family then had an opportunity to put an offer on a home; if voted out- they did not have that opportunity and could not move into the community.  I keep forgetting this part- but they also wanted a LOT of financial information to make sure that whoever moved in could afford the home so that the home would not be foreclosed on and ever owned by the bank.  They wanted strict control over who owned what and that I found very curious as well.

We asked was there ever a time when a person was voted out and on what basis and the reason generally was if the person seemed intolerant or frankly our interpretation was if the person seemed “racist”. They did not want anyone living around them who did not accept others based on religion, sexuality or ethnicity.

At first that sounded wonderful. They had a community center that everyone chipped in to maintain. Various families had chickens and shared the eggs; others had sheep and shared the wool. Thy met for dinner at the community center and watched out for one another’s children. They had a community organic garden.  It seemed like the perfect community except one bothersome thing- they bore the similar strange and sneaky scent of a cult, but not quite-

I wanted to deny this. It seemed dreamy to live in a place where racism was not tolerated and every family was encouraged to be who they were and included in community activities.

We even stopped at another home that had a SALE sign on the lawn and the woman kindly and freely let us in on the spot, showed us around and even called her neighbor to see if they were home to show us their home as well and the chain continued, we saw the next home and then they called the next neighbor to see if they were available to show us their home also. I was amazed at their selflessness. They were all trying to sell their homes yet seemed just as concerned for their neighbor to be able to sell theirs as well. I remember when we sold our first home- the annoyance I felt when my neighbor erected a for sale sign on their newly updated version of our home immediately across the street. I had a lack of faith and neighborly kindness then. I was more concerned with my fate than theirs and I was fearful that my home would not sell when I needed it to with competition across the street. Helping them sell their home was certainly not on my agenda.  Indeed both homes sold, but I struggled to wish the best for everyone during the process…

So then, I was amazed to see these people behaving the way I knew humans should toward one another. They were all very gracious, allowing us to see their homes impromptu and not showing even a hint of annoyance when we were not interested in their home for one reason or another, they even gave us a tour of the community center and we saw pictures of the community when the Quakers mapped out the land and the various celebrations and activities that everyone shared it- It was beautiful, but there kept being a sharp, pungent odor that crept past our noses that reminded us of the stinch of a cult.

Everyone explained how great it was to raise a family there, many of whom had raised their children there, but for some reason we just were not convinced that all was what was being told- and we may never know.

But here is what I do know. That there is a serious hypocrisy in a theory that says we want this to be an equal opportunity for all but “you;” that we are only intolerant to intolerance.  Personally, if the “you” is a racist or intolerant person I would prefer to not be subjected to such ignorance and hate myself, but is it not likewise ignorance and hate to exclude someone even on that basis?

I loathe racism, but not the racist. Is it not the hateful perspective that should not be tolerated and not the person? How can one combat hate by hating? In fact, not only is the same mindset being reproduced in a new package, but it is being reinforced- it is strengthening the idea of segregation. That if you do not believe in freedom the way that I do that you should be kept out.

It is not the healthy who need a doctor but those with an unhealthy mindset and sick perspective, but if those who are gracious and tolerant, discriminate against the intolerant, then we are in a segregated gridlock with no end in sight. Community is about accepting everyone! Maybe the intolerant man has a kind heart, maybe shyness or a conservative view point is mistaken for intolerance.  Maybe your neighborly freedom can help him heal.

In the end I decided that they have decided on the better way to live as a community- seemingly loving one another and putting the other person before themselves- who can fault them for that? And in fact they are an example to all of us in the way we should come together and care for one another- not just because we belong to the same church or are in the same circles, but because we as humans are all neighbors in a world community.

They are spot on with their perspective to embrace everyone despite religious perspectives, race or sexuality and that is admirable.

And I have determined that they absolutely do not have the characteristics of a cult- trying to brainwash anyone, getting everyone to follow one charismatic leader or follow a particularly strict dogma.

But they are so far in left field with knowing what true community love and acceptance looks like that it almost makes all of the aforementioned things false. Love doesn’t pick and choose who to let in or embrace into a community, it sees a need and desires to fulfill it in wisdom and grace and indiscriminately. Love does not show favoritism even toward people who have the seemingly correct perspective on it. Love is truly a co-opportunity experience allowing each one to be treated equally despite beliefs and or faults. Love sees the racist brother and asks what can I do for you equally as I can the one who accepts me. Love puts its feelings aside and reaches to help those who do not understand it. Love exposes itself in the times when people who are discriminated against and mistreated still show kindness and selflessness in the face of adversity. Love does not run from a challenge and hide itself so that its values can be protected; rather it faces a challenge head on, immerses itself despite opposition and conquers all by remaining who it is.

It’s easy to embrace reasonable, caring accepting people who think freely like you— even if the commonality is free thinking. But love embraces those who think completely the opposite of it and when it is rejected it keeps embracing. Love tolerates to the bitter end when all else gives way and fails- and if it didn’t, how would we know what true love is?

 

 

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.