I Still Have The Dream

If you are in the United States, I invite you, regardless of your political persuasion, to join me in keeping Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of race neutral equality a goal of everyone of us.


A Mission Statement For My Life

Just yesterday, I was released from the ICU of a local hospital after a fall that resulted in a couple of brain bleeds, “Praise God, ” they only required monitoring, and no medical intervention. Frightening though it was, it was not as serious as it could have been.

As a way to distract my mind from the intractable headache (One that made some of my migraines seem like a walk in a park.), I mindlessly checked out a website, www.nextdoor.com to see what is happening in our neighborhood. It is a nationwide website that allows over 180,000 local neighborhoods to interact with one another, and to share both vital and run-of-the-mill information. I am not on the site very often, so I looked forward to see what was happening in the 29 neighborhoods surrounding me.

I came across a rather innocuous post about a missing political yard sign. The person who posted it made the “mistake” of identifying it as a sign supporting a politician from a certain political party. (I am not even identifying the politician or the party, because those facts are immaterial.) The post resulted in many comments, some of which rife with undisguised rancor, and unfounded accusations, which devolved into an “us” vs “them” environment. Although I was so exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open, I was incredulous as to how a benign post (except for the word naming a certain politician) could cause seemingly intelligent human beings to stoop to discrediting, trivializing, and condescending another human being, simply because of their perceived, or even real, different belief. It appeared that the animus is directed largely at people that they don’t even know.

After reading that post and some of the replies, I was compelled, in spite of my exhaustion, mental confusion, headache, and overall crappy state, to dictate this post, no matter how long it took. In response to the obvious digression from an unintended partisan discussion, to a series of unsubstantiated and unfounded jabs against the opposing party, the original postor offered to meet anyone, regardless of his or her political persuasion, for a sit down, face-to-face, heart to heart discussion and exchange of ideas. Until I choose to stop reading, the curt, obviously partisan, off topic, and mean spirited replies vastly outnumbered those agreeing to the offer.

As I have for the past few days, while lying in ICU, I thought of my grandchildren, and in this case, of the rancorous environment that we, as adults, are exposing them to, and my heart ached. Is this the new normal that I wish them to inherit? Do I want them to believe that those who think and look differently, are evil, and are to be reviled? Do I want them to believe that they are in it for themselves, and should not be concerned about the plight of others? Do I want them to believe that they should do anything that it takes, regardless of the harm to others, to achieve their goals? Do I want them to believe that they are more special, more precious or more important than the child seated beside him, or do I want him to know that, in God’s eyes, we are all made in his image, and loved the same? As I answered these questions, my tribe, my community, became clear.

I seek a group of diverse (i.e., based on, among other things, gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political preference, marital status, income, age, disability, rank in the social hierarchy, beliefs and more) individuals, who desire to interact with one another in a civil, non-confrontational or accusatory, and most importantly, respectful manner. I seek those who have no need to surround themselves with clones or carbon copies of themselves, but who long to grow, learn and expand their horizons through interactions with those from cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, lifestyles, and life experiences that differ from their own.

I seek others who believe that there is no reason that those who hold different views should be unable to sit down to peaceably and amicably engage in discussions, even about weighty matters, without the need to resort to the denigration, belittlement, ostracism, or disparagement of others, simply because of opposing beliefs and views. I seek those who believe that we are equals, who are entitled to her/his own beliefs, and that we are free to exercise and express those beliefs without fear of being subjected to wanton criticism, vitriol, physical, mental or emotional harm, or any other adverse action.

I seek those who remember that this country was founded by a band of immigrants who sought refuge from oppression, and for the right to practice their chosen beliefs. They sought freedom. Our ancestors were not the original inhabitants of this country, but that is a topic for another day. Everyone of us is borne of immigrants. I seek those who believe in the protections afforded by the First Amendment, though initially intended to allow each of us the right to practice our chosen religion, affords us the right to express our beliefs in a legal, amicable, and peaceable manner. I seek others who long for the times when we were able to do so without fear of retribution or the loss of treasured relationships. I also seek those who strive, as the Second Commandment states, to love your neighbor as you love yourself, which should be practiced universally, and not solely by the Christians among us. Admittedly, it is far from an easy undertaking, but one worth pursuing. Finally, I seek a community of those who abhors the current division, the “us” vs “them” environment, in favor of one that proclaims “we the people,” which is all inclusive. I seek a community who refuses to accept the current environment as our “new normal.”

I am still a bit confused as a result of my head injury, but I felt compelled to dictate this right now, because it is much too important to put off. When my end arrives, and as for us all, it is inevitable, I have no intention of being remembered as an intractable proponent of views that served to tear down, instead of build up, and that stirred dissension for the wrong reasons. I have no desire for my children or grandchildren to model hate, division, lies, fear, or any number of other negative qualities, for the sake of politics — any politics. I have no intention of leaving behind such a legacy.

I am a perfectly imperfect person who struggles every day to be a source of light, love, and hope. I make mistakes, and do and say things that I shouldn’t, but I regret them. As a Christian, I am a sinner who strives to do and be better, and the politics of the day, plays no role in those efforts. I intend to leave a well of love, compassion, fair dealing, empathy, community service, trust, honesty, sensitivity, action, and more for my children and grandchildren to inherit. I want to teach them to stand for what is right, even though they may be ridiculed or stand alone, and to speak for those who cannot do so for themselves. For that is what it comes down to, doing what is best for the greater good.

God is not interested in how much money we earn, the clothes we wear, our spotless lawns, our net worth, the car that we drive. or the lofty position that we hold. None of it matters! It all comes down to our good thoughts and acts, and to the degree to which we strive to be and do good, for others. Having been recently reminded of the brevity of this life, I do not chose to meet my maker, trying to explain or justify my bad behavior towards any of God’s creations, for any reason, especially, politics. Party politics should never be allowed to supersede our basic humanity.

Initially, I decided against writing this post because of fear, retribution, threats or ill will, against myself or those that I love. Yet, how can I teach my grandchildren to do the right thing, cowering in the shadows? In dictating this post, I have tried to walk the middle path. Yet, I have no doubt that some will take issue with what I’ve said, and how I’ve said it. Although I have firm beliefs and clear opinions, I wrote this without the inclination or need to point a finger at one side or the other. The thing is that they are wholly irrelevant when speaking of qualities such as respect, civility, trust, honesty, compassion, love, and selflessness. Still, I am well aware that if one searches long enough, they will find what they believe supports her or his stance, but I cannot allow that to sway my actions.

Although I am charged with rest to promote healing, am unable to drive, as soon as possible, I look forward to a gathering of everyone who believes as I do, party affiliation aside. Until we are able to meet one another face-to-face, I wish each of you good health, peace of mind-body-spirit, happiness, laughter, unity and love. I remind you to “love your neighbor, as yourself.” Imagine how that would change the climate in this country? If you are like me, you will undoubtedly stumble, but then, you pick yourself up, and begin again.

I Believe, Part II

In this earlier post, I sought to write about that which I believe. I had to force myself to stop because I realized that I could have gone on forever. After publishing the post, other beliefs swirled through my mind, and I feel obliged to continue. These are more of the many things in which I believe:

  • that no one should be discriminated against because of their race, national origin, sex, age, religious preference, sexual orientation or any other reason.
  • that employers should offer mental health leave to their employees,
  • in loyalty,
  • that one should follow his or her passions,
  • that we can not know happiness without experiencing sadness,
  • that the present moment is the only moment that we have,
  • that our actions affect the environment,
  • that listening is an art form that we all should practice, again and again,
  • that we can learn from everyone that we meet–even those that we dislike,
  • that forgiveness is not about accepting bad behavior,
  • that no matter how difficult that life can get, there is always something for which we can be grateful,
  • that everyone should try journaling,
  • that everyone should try meditation,
  • that we gain more wisdom from life’s lows than from its’ highs,
  • that it takes courage to be vulnerable,
  • that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty,
  • that you can’t judge a book by its cover,
  • that we should stop to smell the roses,
  • that music stirs the soul,
  • that less is more,
  • that laughter is contagious,
  • that we are all connected,
  • in the smell of impending rain,
  • that peace is possible,
  • that mistakes are inevitable,
  • that it is not the falling, but the getting up that is important,
  • that kindness reaps its own rewards,
  • that we are the makers of our own destinies,
  • that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,
  • that love means having to say you are sorry,
  • that “being” is more important than “doing,”
  • that when I am gone, I want to leave the world better than I found it,
  • in the wonder of a night’s sky,
  • that giving is more important than receiving,
  • that we should strive to do good deeds, with no expectation that our actions will be noticed or appreciated, that is, doing good solely for the sake of doing good,
  • that wisdom does not depend on one’s age,
  • that hypocrisy is a societal ill,
  • that the answers that we seek are within us,
  • in the sound of rain on a tin roof,
  • in the song of the wind chime in a gentle breeze,
  • in a cold glass of lemonade on a hot Summer day,
  • in the fragrance of lavender, orange blossoms or jasmine as they waft through an open window,
  • that there is satisfaction to be had in hard work,
  • in the satisfaction of a job well done,
  • in acceptance,
  • in letting go of the past,
  • in surrender,
  • in the love of a parent for his or her child(ren),
  • that children are our future,
  • that teachers are under-valued,
  • that it is the lowliest workers who give the most to a well-ordered society,
  • in the first cry of a newborn baby,
  • in honor, respect and appreciation for our elders,
  • that no one should die alone,
  • that no child should go unwanted or unloved,
  • that our past, informs all that we are,
  • that every person should know freedom,
  • in the sultriness of a full moon,
  • that empathy is a virtue,
  • that “home” is a state of mind,
  • that trust engenders trust,
  • that grandchildren are a gift,
  • in a beautiful sunset,
  • in the sound of water as it rushes along a stream,
  • in waves as they crash on a beach,
  • in a hot beverage on a cold day,
  • that all will be well,
  • that this too shall pass,
  • in a day when there is no place to be and nothing to do,
  • in clean sheets,
  • in a towel fresh out of the dryer,
  • in prayer,
  • in compassion for another,
  • that mental illness should not be treated any differently than physical illness,
  • that any kind of abuse is abhorrent,
  • that it is our humanness that makes us who we are,
  • in the sacred,
  • that creativity is not a lesson to be learned; it is within all of us,
  • that inspiration is all around us,
  • that death is just the beginning,
  • in anticipation,
  • in a hand-written letter,
  • in an unexpected card or letter from a friend,
  • in an unanticipated check in the mail,
  • in new love,
  • in mature love,
  • in all love,
  • in saying “thank you,”
  • in saying “God bless you.”
  • in meditating by candlelight,
  • in the beauty of a candlelit room,
  • in miracles,
  • in wishing on a star,
  • in doing what’s right, even if it finds you standing alone,
  • that you have no control over anyone but you,
  • that each day offers a chance to put yesterday behind us, and to begin anew,
  • that your heart is the vehicle to your truth,
  • that it is never too late to live your dreams,
  • that the only person with whom you should compete is yourself,
  • that as you think, so shall you be,
  • that the first step is the hardest,
  • that yes, you can,
  • that many of your beliefs act as your moral compass,
  • in the journey, not the destination,
  • in the feeling of bliss when surrendering into a favorite yoga pose, and
  • in truth-telling.

Once again, I must stop because this post has become way too long. Choosing this topic, has given me considerable insight into my thoughts and beliefs, many of which had lain dormant, unknown and never verbalized. Some of them are quite mundane, but many, anything but. Yet, that is the nature of life. I recommend this exercise as a way of getting to know yourself at a far deeper level. It has given me a glimpse into the best parts of myself.

What about you? What do you believe? WARNING: Once you begin, you’ll find it difficult to stop, but then, what an excellent way to gain an understanding of your core beliefs?


I Believe…

This is a list of some of the things in which I steadfastly believe. I’ve always thought that you can tell a great deal about a person based on their beliefs, both significant and seemingly insignificant. They allow a glimpse below the superficial level and into a deeper layer of being. I hope that this list, while not exhaustive, offers you a further look into who I am.

I believe:

  • in the kindness of strangers,
  • in unconditional love,
  • that we are not alone in this universe,
  • that bad things happen to good people,
  • that good things happen to bad people,
  • in the innocence of children,
  • in curiosity,
  • in serendipity,
  • in the promise and power of forgiveness,
  • that sometimes, life is not fair,
  • that struggles make us stronger,
  • that everyone has a story to tell,
  • that evil exists,
  • that there is more good in the world than bad,
  • that prayers are answered, but not always in the manner we expect,
  • that everyone should be treated equally,
  • that no one should want for necessities,
  • that each of us matters and makes a difference,
  • in the cry of a newborn baby,
  • in the sound of children laughing and playing,
  • that everyone has his or her unique gift to offer the world,
  • that hope sustains our lives,
  • in angels,
  • that no one is more important than another,
  • that God has interceded and protected me countless times in my life,
  • that trust is earned,
  • that friends, old and new, are precious treasures,
  • in raucous laughter,
  • in the occasional cuss word,
  • that there is no “us” and “them,” there is only “we,”
  • that “can’t” should be banished from the dictionary,
  • that the word “never” should be used rarely, if at all,
  • in a cleansing cry every now and again,
  • in a sincere “I’m sorry,”
  • that through forgiveness, we free ourselves,
  • that through adversity, we come to know happiness,
  • that change is necessary,
  • in the joy that I feel when I look into the faces of my g’children,
  • that the most important job in the world is that of a parent,
  • that my three children are blessings given to me,
  • that the most difficult job that I’ve ever held was as a parent,
  • in the occasional well-turned dirty joke,
  • that being alone does not necessarily mean that one is lonely,
  • that we can be our own best company,
  • that our memories keeps those who have moved on alive in our hearts,
  • that our capacity for love is endless,
  • in my faith and in a higher power,
  • in a long hot bath,
  • in dancing and singing to R&B music,
  • that no one should want for food,
  • that no one should want for decent housing,
  • that everyone should be paid a living wage,
  • that no one should want for health care,
  • in honesty,
  • in courage,
  • in compassion,
  • in lending a shoulder or an ear,
  • that sometimes we show our compassion through silence,
  • that the gift of listening to another is a scarce commodity,
  • that sometimes, “I don’t know” is the only answer,
  • that everything happens for a reason, even though we may not know it at the time,
  • that each of us is a blessing in this world,
  • in the perfect glass of lemonade on a hot Texas Summer day,
  • in bringing a child to a carnival with rides, cotton candy and expensive crap that will break within a week,
  • in riding a ferris wheel,
  • in driving my car with the windows down on a pleasant day, so that I can ride the air with my hands,
  • in paying it forward,
  • in the joy of doing good, simply for the joy of doing it,
  • in random acts of kindness,
  • that family means everything,
  • in telling those that you love, how you feel before it’s too late,
  • that what goes around, comes around,
  • that all of our experiences, good and bad, inform who we are,
  • that you are as young as you feel,
  • that adult “play dates” should be mandatory,
  • that adults should watch a child to learn to live in the present moment,
  • that we get to choose how we live our lives,
  • that loyalty is rewarded,
  • that crying is not a weakness,
  • that empathy is a virtue,
  • that none of us can make it through life alone,
  • that needing help is not a weakness,
  • in the power of our vote,
  • that people from different parts of the world are more alike than different,
  • that our preconceptions prevent us from knowing the real person,
  • in allowing our children to be children for as long as possible,
  • that you are viewed by your actions, not by your words,
  • that I wish to leave the world better than I found it,
  • that although the world’s ills are great, we can each do our little part towards making it a better place to live,
  • that giving up, is not an option,
  • that flowers can instantly lift spirits,
  • that nature is a fertile source for experiencing the world’s wonders,
  • that true peace cannot be had without putting one’s self in the other’s shoes,
  • that honesty is the best policy, and
  • that each of you, is a blessing to me and this world.