What Race Are You?

How do you identify yourself?  In the aftermath of the recent racial tensions (which were mostly created ad fueled by media spewing inaccurate information), I began to reflect on how many people identify themselves by the color of their skin or the lineage of their ancestors.

Crowd

The thought occurred to me that if we truly want a society free from racial prejudice then we must realize that we are all members of the same race…the human race.  If you were to change the color of your skin would you be a different person?  No, you would not…and if you would be different, you are not being honest with yourself about who you really are.  If you are afforded special privileges because of ethnicity (or gender) is that not also a form of bias?  Absolutely!  In addition, it is demeaning in the implication that someone is not able to compete on their own simply because their skin is somehow pigmented differently than another persons or they lack certain anatomical features.

In addition to this, we are often conditioned to live up to or down to common expectations.  We can’t help it, as a rule, because our society teaches us to conform, fit in, blend in.  We are often afraid to forge our own path and ignore those who say it can’t work that way.  But this is the recipe for mediocrity at best and inhibits the prospect of any real change or advancement.

When you look at yourself and others, do you see the person or the shell that holds that individual?  I am asking you all to look past the shell at the character.  I am not saying don’t judge people…that talent is essential to survival.  What I am saying is don’t judge the book by the cover but by the content.  Learn to see people as part of the human race, not divided by some arbitrary sub-category.

Advertisements

The Christmas Present

I was watching TV about a year ago, just before Christmas.  There was a commercial for some hot new toy.  Usually I tune out the ads, but this particular time it caught my attention when the announcer said, “Hurry down and buy this blah, blah, blah toy before they are sold out!  You don’t want to be the worst parent on your block!”  Now I am not opposed to commerce and believe in the elusive free market system, but this just rubbed me WRONG!  I swore right then that I would not be caught up in the hype.  I did not give piles of presents for Christmas last year, or this.  Instead I turned my focus to my family and friends, making sure that I appreciated them all year long.

There are some who say that Jesus was not actually born on Christmas and so it is not a celebration of his birth, but I disagree.  The name says it all…CHRISTmas is a celebration of the birth and life of the Christ child.  He brought to this world many special gifts.  Even those who don’t practice Christianity can appreciate the teachings of the Man from Galilee.  It is a universal message of love and a way of living with respect for both yourself and those around you.

The best Christmas present I ever had or ever will have is just enjoying being together with my family and friends.  And the coming year I will remind myself how lucky I am to have wonderful people in my life.  Every day I count the blessings that I have experienced and try, in some small way, to share that good fortune with others.  May your Holiday be blessed with gifts that cannot be purchased for any price.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or some other holiday, may peace and joy be yours today and all through the coming year.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Va

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Va

Shooting stars...wishes anyone?

Shooting stars…wishes anyone?

What Is Your Interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution?

A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.Bill Of Rights

This phrase seems simple.  Yet it may be one of the most controversial and misinterpreted statements ever made!  Some people think that the first part, the mention of the well regulated militia, has no real bearing on the clause itself.  Others think that the phrase does not apply to the individual, but is a “collective” right.  Let’s take a look at the entire sentence and at the reason it was added to our Bill of Rights.

First, it is important to look at the intent of the Bill of Rights.  It was argued that we should not add these amendments to our Constitution because they were considered to be rights that were endowed by our Creator to all living things.  It was feared that if these things were stated by a government on a document such as the Constitution the implication would be that these liberties had been granted by said government and therefore could also be rescinded.  The proponents of the Bill of Rights contended that the design was to limit the power of the government over the people.  The Bill of Rights was to state the very basic laws of God and nature that no man or government could ever deny the individual.

Why was this so important to our Founding Fathers?  Consider that most of the settlers to this new land made the long and dangerous journey because they had been persecuted in some way.  Many were not allowed to worship as they pleased or were in danger of being jailed for their ideas or values. Imagine living in a place where you can be put in jail or sentenced to death for simply speaking out against an unfair act by your government.  The brave souls who made that trip understood the concept of true freedom and felt it important enough to risk their lives and livelihoods to achieve.

Next let’s explore the Second Amendment and its place in the Bill of Rights.  The drafters of this document realized that if the populace was to be self governing then the only way to maintain that balance of power was for the citizens to be armed and able to defend the Republic.  A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state confirms that every able bodied man and woman has a responsibility to become proficient with arms to defend our nation against any tyrannical government.  Therefore, the true intent of the Second Amendment is that the government shall never have arms that the law abiding citizen does not also have access to!  You may argue that we have our national Armed Forces and don’t NEED the citizens to be armed in a modern world, but that is exactly the OPPOSITE of the mandate defined by the Second Amendment.  If we allow or military to have arms that can easily overpower the general public then we are creating a situation where the Constitution has no force and the Republic is in grave danger.

Here are facts that history has proven time and again.

  • Power corrupts. Even those who have good intentions often become intoxicated by it.
  • Many crimes are committed under the pretext of following the law or following orders.
  • Governments commit genocide repeatedly and it still goes on today. OUR government is no exception.  Simply look at the Native Americans!

These are just some of the reasons that the Bill of Rights was drafted, and the Second Amendment is key to the security of our free state.  Without the UNINFRINGED right of the people to keep and bear arms we have no freedom.  So the next time your legislature wants to pass a “common sense” law to restrict private gun ownership it is your duty as a citizen, as a part of the self-governing Republic called the United States of America, to prevent passage.  It is also your duty to work to get the current restrictions on private ownership repealed!

Hopefully this article will give many some insight into the true meaning of the Second Amendment.  Ideally it will give us all a way to communicate to our lawmakers that they must repeal the unconstitutional laws that have been erroneously passed.

Trial By Media

There has been a lot of press about some high profile cases lately.  One of the most recent is the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury hearing of the officer who shot Michael Brown.  I will not go into the details of this case…that is not the point of the post.  What I will say is that there is much more misinformation floating around than actual fact.

Let me go on to say that I am not one to blatantly trust the police or the government…that would be in contrast to what history and current events demonstrate.  But…and it is a huge BUT…I trust the press even less.  Some will get mad at me for saying this, and some will be downright insulted, but I have personally been involved in incidents that made the press and have seen first hand that the “facts” as portrayed by the media leave much to be desired.  Often they are just plain wrong, and other times they report selective details in an effort to sway public opinion.  The Grand Jury had hard evidence to look at.  Their task was to investigate whether or not that evidence was sufficient to bring charges against the officer involved.  The Press, on the other hand, did not have access to much of this information, yet they reported the partial truth religiously and in some ways played a part in fueling the tensions that led to the demonstrations and riots.

The press is a very powerful tool and there was perhaps a time when the journalistic code of ethics was held sacred.  Sadly, that does not happen today and some venues don’t even bother to try to give the appearance of impartiality.  Woe to the man who is the victim of this travesty.

Think about this…how many lives have been ruined because the media has been quick to print allegations of a crime?  The police want to give the public some reassurance so they leak a name of a suspect to the press.  This person’s photo is promptly in every living room.  His place of employment is under siege from news hounds attempting to get a scoop.  His home is ground zero for satellite dishes, lights and remote broadcasts.  And then some evidence is uncovered that exonerates the poor guy, but the damage is done.  His boss has fired him so that the rest of the employees can get some work accomplished.  His neighbors won’t speak to him or let their kids play with his.  The Little League tells him that he can’t coach a team anymore because, well, what would people think?  His search for a job is futile because he is now “that guy” who was accused of whatever, so he MUST have done SOMETHING to arouse suspicion, right?  So the only recourse is to uproot his family and move to someplace where hopefully he can become normal again.

We have all seen this, and we all play a part in it.  We watch the news and eagerly look for “closure” when there is a crime in our neighborhood.  We may even call the police and demand that they do more to solve these crimes and keep us safe.  But our thirst for these things we call news is driving a culture that decides the fate of people before they get a fair trial…and may even prevent that trial from having any chance of being impartial.

So I ask you to not be so quick to form your opinions based on what the media feeds you.  Don’t let public sentiment influence you.   Do your best to research all sources and make up your own mind in an educated, informed way.  These are the actions of a free person.  Blindly accepting what the press says (or what the popular opinion is) is the act of a controlled person…a slave.  You have a choice.

Thanksgiving

The first wave of Europeans to settle in the United States had a very tough go of things. They endured a long and dangerous voyage across an ocean to a land where they had no family, no stores, no support system. They did this to find freedom from an oppressive government and/or church (which were often one and the same).

After much hardship they reaped a bountiful harvest and laid their stores for the upcoming winter. When the harvest was in and the supplies were stashed they gave thanks.

As we celebrate this uniquely American holiday, lets reflect on the reason these colonists were grateful…they had achieved a new kind of freedom, if only for a short while. They were free to keep the fruit of their labor. They were masters of their own destiny. They could worship as they chose without fear of persecution or execution. They had realized a dream that most of us will never fully understand and many of us are all too willing to surrender.

I sincerely wish a happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. May the true meaning of this day be preserved for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

Are We Cheating Our Children?

It is natural for parents to want to protect their children, keep them from harm.  But in

Are you accidentally robbing your child's chances for success?

Are you accidentally robbing your child’s chances for success?

doing so are we depriving them of essential skills they will need as adults?

Consider this…in life you must face adversity.  There are confrontations, negotiations, people who would attempt to deceive or defraud you and those who would physically harm you.  If you have been sheltered as a child and adolescent, you will be unable to recognize and effectively deal with these inevitable situations.  So I suggest to you, as parents, don’t insulate your child from these learning experiences.  Instead, stand beside them and offer support and guidance where appropriate, but let them figure out how to deal with challenges.  You will be guiding them toward success instead of cheating them out of valuable life lessons.

Being Judgemental

There is a common saying, albeit an older and somewhat dated saying, “Don’t judge me.”  I speak with many people who claim to be non-judgmental…but why?  Making assessments, assigning risk and making decisions based on that judgement is essential to survival.  But more importantly, we must make those same assessments of ourselves or we will not effectively direct our personal growth.

I actually WANT to be judged.  I welcome feedback even if it is contrary to my outlook…often especially if it disagrees with my views!  This is how we learn (unless we already know everything and therefore are not open to learning).

By the same token, I make decisions daily based on calculations tempered by my observations of the world around me.  This include things like which route to take when traveling, who to trust with my children or my bank accounts, whether the guy walking toward me on the sidewalk looks like a threat, etc.  All of these things are important and all are necessary to my well being.

But there are more personal assessments that we make in life.  Do you know someone who has a lot of friends?  There are people who call everyone they meet a friend and then there are those who realize that true friendship is earned over time.  In order to determine who is worthy of that exclusive title we must make judgments of the person’s character and use that information to determine if they are worth investing the time it takes to maintain a close relationship.  If so, the rewards are immeasurable.  If not, the risk is greater than the potential.

So the next time someone says that they don’t judge people, ask them why they don’t.  Teach your children to be discriminating and to know the difference between an acquaintance and a true friend.  And by all means, be your own worst critic!  It is your best tool to enhance your station in life.