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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Are We Headed In The Wrong Direction On Human Rights?

UN Report Criticizes U.S. Record On Torture
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/28/un-torture-us_n_6237898.html

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Burning And Looting Tonight... A Ferguson Conspiracy Theory


This morning I woke up in a curfew; 
O God, I was a prisoner, too - yeah!
Could not recognize the faces standing over me;
They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality. Eh!

How many rivers do we have to cross,
Before we can talk to the boss? Eh!
All that we got, it seems we have lost;
We must have really paid the cost.

(That's why we gonna be)
Burnin' and a-lootin' tonight;
(Say we gonna burn and loot)
Burnin' and a-lootin' tonight;
(One more thing)
Burnin' all pollution tonight;
(Oh, yeah, yeah)
Burnin' all illusion tonight.
---Bob Marley... "Burnin' And Lootin"


Did you see the smug expression on Bob McCulloch's face as he set out to justify the actions of Officer Darren Wilson by discrediting the witness accounts of this policeman's indiscriminate actions in the killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown? A rather long question I agree, so consider thus while you ponder it. Robert McCulloch's father was a police officer who was killed on the job in 1964 by an African-American man. Paul McCulloch was killed the evening of July 2, 1964, during a gun battle in St. Louis’s infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing projects. His alleged killer, Eddie Steve Glenn, was a black man who had reportedly abducted a white woman. 

McCulloch was 12 years old at the time of his father’s death. In addition to his father, McCulloch's brother, an uncle and a cousin all served with the St. Louis Police Department, and his mother worked as a clerk at the department. McCulloch, who as a teenager lost a leg to cancer, made it his career ambition to become a prosecutor. He was quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as telling a reporter, while first campaigning for the office: "I couldn't become a policeman, so being county prosecutor is the next best thing."

No one was surprised by the outcome of the grand jury deliberation. Bob McCulloch did not want an indictment. In his mind all his police comrade had done was kill a "demon". A black demon at that. One like the other black demon that allegedly killed his dad. This outcome is exactly what he designed it to be... Absolution for his comrade in arms... Vengeance ongoing for his fallen father. And so now his only remaining duty was to present the findings of this secret trial in a way, and at a time , to achieve maximum impact. How does one in his position, in a place like Ferguson, Missouri, cover up an injustice? Should he use the dark of night? Should he present his findings in such an insensitively smug way as to inflame the passions of those who were there to protest? Would he collaborate with the other authorities to make sure that his inflammatory response to this tragedy would become a trigger for a fiery response from protesters, thus creating a  needed distracting narrative? Well a literally fiery response was what resulted. Ferguson burned overnight... And may continue to burn.


Huffington Post reports:
"Ferguson, Missouri, is waking up to a city that is still smoldering after a night of unrest following a grand jury's decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
At least a dozen buildings were torched and looted, many of them local businesses that police said were total losses. Dozens of cars -- including two police cruisers and rows of vehicles at a car dealership -- were also vandalized and left charred. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said he heard about 150 gunshots, none from police."

The pictures coming out of Ferguson show security forces in some cases standing by as the destruction was being effected. They had more than ample time to prepare for this eventuality. We all witnessed the press conferences by the governor and others stating how prepared they would be. And so we must wonder... Is this the result that Bob McCulloch and some others in authority wanted? In the face of what most reasonable observers see as a travesty of Justice, did they want to create a narrative that would distract attention away from the real tragedy?

The actions of this policeman has become another trigger for action against the vile actions of law enforcement in minority communities. If I were Darren Wilson or any of those cuddling him, I would not break out the champagne just yet. Not as long as people in minority communities have cause to lament:

"This morning I woke up in a curfew;

O God, I was a prisoner, too - yeah!
Could not recognize the faces standing over me;
They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality. Eh!"











Openness and Functional Living... Beyond The Parochialism Around Us

(The following is an excerpt from the essay "Cultivating Functional Lives" which is published in my book "Of Paradise Despised... and lives that bought into a lie". Visit www.figtreeenterprises.com for information on all my published works.)

The cultivation of openness is, on the one hand, a function of the things we do to expose the precariousness of our own existence. We initiate that task by truthfully dis-investing ourselves of lifestyles and habits that definitively under-develops us. On the other hand, it is also a function of our willingness to engage in the lives of others in a liberating way. That is to say, in ways that builds them up. Ultimately, it is that dynamic process through which Love works its will through us to heal the wounds, and fill the void in so many hopeless lives.

The cultivation of functional lives is an individual responsibility, but it is essentially a collective pursuit. We fail in this pursuit when we behave as if we can accomplish this in some kind of paradigm that reeks of isolationism. No man is an island. We stand up by raising others up. This demands a realistic openness to the essential dynamics of our collective experience. It necessitates a critical awareness of our cultural habitat, and a spiritual perspective that is inclusive of our collective well-being.

On the journey of self-discovery, we necessarily find each other. That is how it is. That is how it should be. Our destinies are inextricably interrelated. The secret of our happiness lies in the realization of our common humanity. Balance is found when we see the relationship between our good, and the common good. We come to realize eventually, that our materialism is actually our spiritualism turned on its head. Obtaining bread for myself may be a material issue; feeding the hungry is definitely a spiritual pursuit.

So, how do we realize true functionality in our lives? How do we get to that place of supreme balance? I have no new answers to these questions, because I truly believe that the old answers work. Accept responsibility for your destiny. That destiny is not inevitable. If you need to, you can turn around and go in a different direction. The  road you are on leads somewhere; if you do not look forward to ending up in that place then stop. There are many junctions in our experience. Stop. Look. Listen. Go in a different direction. Head in a new direction, to a better place, somewhere that is more in keeping with your truest desires. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Service is the truest expression of any real love. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Take care of the afflicted. Encourage the broken-hearted. Set the captive free.

I am here to proclaim the good news that the time has come when we are required to take responsibility for our lives. This requires a sense of industry. Each one of us is expected to engage in the necessary work of creating the life we want. The great news is that when we do, we will find that fulfillment that has been our greatest desire.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

With Nothing To Offer... The Republicans Are Frothing At The Mouth

Political commentator and griot Walter Rhett writes in his blog Black History 360* about  "... the condescension in the tone and attitude..." which characterizes the spirit of the Republican leadership's responses to President Barack Obama. Mr Rhett notes that it is:

" ...as if (Boehner) is reminding the President of his betters (the caucus of white Republican men in Congress), as if he is threatening the President while pretending to offer friendly political advice, ..."

My friend Walter Rhett is not alone in his assessment of what I am calling the froth coming from the mouths of the Republican leadership. Other political observers have characterized the GOP's responses to the President's actions on issues like Immigration Reform as "toothless griping". What is disturbing to many is the obvious lack of cultural grace, or the no show of just plain good manners that has become a part of the attitude and language of the President's critics. They seem to have gotten to that shallow place in political discourse where to be perceived as effective they must display that gross incivility which the worst elements of their base find culturally reassuring.

To satisfy the depraved political and cultural cravings of those whose objections to the POTUS are rooted in an underground of political and cultural motives that are adverse to the interests of a progressive society; they continue to resort to rhetoric that defiles the sensibilities of a civilized society. To object to the Affordable Care Act they talk about "death panels". To distract our attention away from the humane consideration of the strangers among us they carelessly talk about "anarchy". They have no answers... Only questions about the President's motives and methods. Instead of offering improvements... They seek to tear down everything the President seeks to build. Instead of the art of compromise they demand their way... Or no way. Instead of dialogue... they continue to shout "hell no!".

What ails these Republicans? We note their shouts and screams... But is what we are hearing the declarations of an empowered political entity, or signals of their existential pain? Let’s call this “condescending tone” by it’s real name. It is the verbal mask that a feckless Opposition wears to hide the fact of its subservience. Boehner's is nothing more than the voice of organizations like Heritage and others who share their existential angst. Confronted with this symbolically powerful Presidency, they realize that they now live in a new cultural/political paradigm. 

The Boehners and McConnells et al in the political arena decided that if they couldn’t limit President Obama to one term, they would do everything they could to prevent him from governing. An enlivened electorate beat back their regressive voices in 2008 and 2012; giving this President an opportunity that few Presidents in the modern era have had... a second term. Now they must deal with the fact that the change that President Obama symbolizes is an enduring fact of the new and evolving demographic reality. 

Let them continue to froth at the mouth… The times, they are a changing. The froth we witness coming from the mouths of these Republicans is a result of the pain from their internal cultural "weeping and wailing".  As presently constituted their days are numbered. They have no future in a dynamic democracy that acts against the suppression of voters rights and the naked fraud of gerrymandering. This froth is also symbolic of the vapidity of their political and cultural postulations. On the major issues of our day... healthcare , a liveable wage, a sustainable environment, immigration reform, international security,  and infrastructure redevelopment... They've got nothing. Their anxious regurgitation of empty objections will not endure in the persistent wind of our ever-changing reality.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Nation Of Immigrants ... Updated

The Obama Era Continues (Now let the Republican games begin!) 

This from Politico today:

"President Barack Obama will announce Thursday that he is shielding about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to sources familiar with the planning.

In calls to immigration reform proponents Wednesday, senior administration officials said the executive actions will cover 4 million undocumented immigrants who would qualify for deferred deportations by using criteria such as longevity in the United States and family ties, according to sources briefed on the discussions.

Another 1 million would receive protection through other means, two sources said.

Obama will promote the executive actions at an event in Las Vegas Friday."



"I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.” Ronald Reagan (1984 debate with Mondale)


The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 brought almost three million people “out of the shadows” of fear and exploitation into the hopeful daylight of American life. In contrast to the lamentations of certain conservative voices that the Act failed in its promise to stem the flow of “illegals” across our porous borders, we might look at its benefits to the economy and the fact that in the “land of the free” millions were liberated from the exploitation of those who prey on the vulnerable who had no status to demand any Rights. Since 1986 no less than another three million persons have received amnesty under various extensions of the IRCA.

Throughout our history people have come to this country in pursuit of a better life. Some come to escape wars and famine, others just in search of greater freedom and better economic opportunity. For whatever reasons...this is a land of immigrants, by immigrants, for immigrants. We come here and we give our talents and our blood and the blood of our children to build and to secure the “land of the free and home of the brave”. The absence of homogeneity is what makes us unique as a nation. We are more than “a people”. America is a product of the whole human experience, offering the richness of what it means to be a person to all who are courageous enough to venture into the formative splendor of its melting pot.

As Americans we have a duty to cultivate a vision of our society that is greater than that which is reflected in the convenient political opportunism that colors the ambitions of myopic individuals. Those who want to close the door behind them once they and their households are in will find that door constantly battered by the winds of human opportunity that brought the first ships to these shores. This country is a force of nature powered by the aspirations and the inspirations of the immigrant. Ours is a hope hinged on the hopes of those who dare to rise up against hopelessness.

According to our census experts there are close to 12 million people living illegally in the USA. They build our houses. They help us care for our children. They do our landscaping. They work in our restaurants and hotels. They do our dry cleaning. They work in our livestock industry. They raise and kill and pluck the chicken that is an irreplaceable staple of our daily diets. They do the work that many of us think is too hard. They are forced into prostitution. We underpay them because they are afraid to speak out against exploitation. They are forced to forego any recourse to Justice because of fear. And they are not the factor that they should be in the tax base that goes toward the building of a more viable society.

We are a nation of laws, but we must be more than that. Laws evolve. Let us be a nation of Justice. Let us author laws that nurture the hopes and dreams of the widow and the orphan. This nation must continue to be a refuge for those who seek safety from cruelty and famine. Let us be fair to those whose only transgression is seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

President Reagan knew in his heart that to maintain the status quo with regard to the undocumented immigrant was wrong. IT WAS WRONG THEN, IT IS WRONG NOW. We need to be guided now by the magnanimous-ness of Reagan's vision. We are called to abandon the blithe-full political rhetoric that reflects an impotent view of American possibility. Justice dictates that the time is ripe now to grant another amnesty.

A State Of Emergency... Parochialism And The Corrupting Of Justice In America



The over-municipalization of counties in many U.S. states, most with their own city hall and police force, is an issue that has gone unaddressed for the most part. It is a development that has taken place 'under the radar' of our political consciousness so to speak. This issue needs to be looked at not just because of the lack of viability that is a built-in feature of this reality, but also because of how this lack of viability impacts on the distribution of Justice among the citizenry.

The funding of these ever-multiplying municipalities is a challenge that has been forced to the back seat in the arena of the political consideration of a not too involved citizenry; most of which is not involved in the critical votes that result in such divisions. The all important question of how to fund these entities are never fully exposed to the inhabitants of these new political entities. Many end up relying on revenue essentially generated from oppressive fines which unequally target the already disadvantaged in many of our metropolitan areas.

A study by the St. Louis nonprofit Better Together, shows how some of these municipalities depend for their economic lives on the misplacement of policing priorities as a result. Former state senator Jeff Smith in a New York Times op-ed points out the following:

Ferguson, Missouri receives nearly one-quarter of its revenue from court fees; for some surrounding towns it approaches 50 percent. Municipal reliance on revenue generated from traffic stops adds pressure to make more of them. One town, Sycamore Hills, has stationed a radar-gun-wielding police officer on its 250-foot northbound stretch of Interstate.”

In the same op-ed piece, the former Missouri state senator and New School professor develops on the previous point:

When a metropolitan area is split into dozens of tiny local governments they tend to duplicate each others’ services, which is of course extremely expensive. But raising taxes so that each tiny borough can afford its own police and fire department is a nonstarter, since wealthy residents can always just move one town over. End result: You have police departments that self-fund by handing out tickets. (same thing goes for the so called war on drugs) And thanks to the delightful racial dynamics of U.S. law enforcement, black residents are disproportionately stopped and accosted, even though police in Ferguson are less likely to find contraband when they search black drivers than white drivers.”

The reality described above has unfortunately become a template for police operations in many American municipalities. What is true of places like Ferguson is replicated in almost every state in our Union. The parochial ambitions of many in small town America has led to the continued feeding of the beast of injustice. Their political ambition finds a ready and willing ally in the existing racial animus in many places in this country. The confluence of rabid political ambition perpetuated against a backdrop of economic inviability produces the kind of toxic cultural brew that poisons places like Ferguson. And the result... People are economically stressed, and in some instances killed... So that the few can maintain the political and economic dominance they seek.

Governor Nixon of Missouri is about to call out the National Guard to effect a state of emergency in anticipation of the likely response to the report of the grand jury in the Michael Brown killing by a Ferguson policeman.  What needs to be addressed, in this our country, is the perpetuation of injustice in the parochialism of states like Missouri. A parochialism that victimizes and kills citizens like Mike Brown. The real and ongoing "state of emergency" is one in which we are forced to pay for local governments and their court and police tentacles which are constantly reaching out to threaten our economic lives and our security.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scream...

(For Someone With A Hatchet And A Gun... And Blood Dripping)

Hell hath no fury like this
And death no dread
Like this dark place to which I sink
And from which I announce my despair…and give birth
To this unholy thing... That I have borne
And of which I... Am now involuntarily delivered…

A person scorned... Must never know
This gut-wrenching…soul emptying
Unending…light-forbidding tunnel
Into which I have fallen…and am falling endlessly…
This black hole that drains… and keeps draining
My heart of its courage

I have hurt… but no more…
The hope of my pain has dissipated
Leaving me numb…and stiff
With the despair of my uncertainty

I am lost ... 
In the gateless penitentiary ... Of my lack of grasp
Of time…and space…and feeling
I would cry much louder
Except... I can’t hear myself

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trails... A Narrative Poem For Those Who Dare To Lead

(For POTUS, Barack Obama)



Excerpt from the book 'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' by Roy Alexander Graham

Into the dark I venture…
Knowing and unknowing mixed…
I walk the trails... Of truth unknown
Approaching with uncommon daring
Facts uncomfortable and others…
This is a slow journey
Since I must face the suspicions…and trials… Of my alter egos…
Who…with haste…dares… Approach with that certain longing…
The many faces of self… Made ugly by the judgments of experience…

Into the night I go…
Baring the chest of my conscience
With praises…and with curses… I move loudly forward in a bid to disguise my fears…
Who can carry the weight…so unbearable
Of the basket of opposites…without complaint…
Not I or you... And so I walk…one step predicated by the step before…
Progress validated by experience
I only know what I have known
And what the hell was that ... I keep asking myself…

Such are my reflections…
I keep the company of my thoughts… As I venture further…
I see myself at times wearing the faces necessitated by circumstance.
Awkward masks… I have well known the discomfitures of shame and praise…
Deserved and undeserved…
I travel on…changing faces as needs be…
I cherish my rationalizations…
I need them to survive this dark road… With all its scares

I look deep into myself…
Seeing past the light in me through to my necessary dark self…
And if you recognize…if you can know both…you will understand how to be just…like a scale… I tell myself.




Beyond my fears I venture…
To the shadowy places which are my secrets…
I come here mostly alone…
Or with a few who know…are intimate…
With the realities of doing what must be done
Having embraced that dynamic oppositeness that reestablishes balance…
No fear…no fault…no guilt…just one…
And reconciled to the factualities of being…
No wins…no losses…no tripping…
Just the journey…and rest…and the next fate

Up hills…challenging heights that test my resolve…
Around corners that limit my view…
Down steepened grades…I struggle
Maintaining my balance over uneven surfaces…
This path…that is our experience…
Gets no easier…but I... I get harder…stronger…more versatile…
I become what I must... to overcome the many obstacles
That are present on my way to that place above it all
Where I see most clearly... The circumstances that would trap me
In the low places of despair…

Out of the dark I come
With a clarity that challenges every circumstance…
I do not require the mountains to move
For there is much to be gained on the journey up…
And there is joy up here
That I only knew as echoes in the valley…

Up here…on this peak
I stand above every undulation…
And learn to hear myself in ways vastly different than before…
I learn to trust my voice
As shout after shout…
I declare my resolve to be the master of every choice I make…

Bouncing my words around…
I dare every challenge that once shook me…
To stand again and be crushed…
For I have faced myself with truth
And have come to know that there is indeed nothing to fear…
I…have destroyed the final blasphemy
And have known the restoration of being... In the image of the Creator…
Today I speak…needing no crutch…
For I shall stand or fall... According to the measure of my courage…Or my fear

It has been a tedious journey
But I have come to know my joys and my sorrows…
My hopes and my dreams…
My encouragements and my despairs…
As mine…mine alone…
I blame no one…and own no blame…
We live…and we learn…

'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' available on Amazon Kindle

'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' available on Apple iBooks

'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' available on Barnes & Noble Nook

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Of Memories And Dreams... 'The Legend Of Tai & Burung Elang'

Excerpt from the book 'The Legend of Tai & Burung Elang' by Roy and Monica Graham

This Legend will awaken in you memories of things that have actually happened. In some places they continue to happen. Some of these things generate great angst, but even more important than your discomfort and mine is the reality that the lives of many are still affected by gruesome tragedies that cause terrible pain.

Those of us who are free to dream and to realize our dreams shall reach out to those who even now cannot even sleep securely. We will deliberately engage in the uncomfortable memories of our own history so that we may find the empathy to reach out to those who dream of a better life in better places. So yes…let us listen…

The voices you are hearing are those of children who have lost their parents (and parents who have lost their children) and others whom they loved to cruel invaders who descended on their homes in the dark of night. These children were forced to watch as their villages were destroyed and loved ones were brutally taken away by vile characters. Left without home and family and community, many of these children ended up in places far away from the life they once knew.

Their memories of the traumatic circumstances by which they lost their loved ones would linger on and on, creating persistent feelings of sadness and insecurity. These memories, though blunted by time and new experiences, were an important part of the reason why so many growing children had a hard time believing that their lives could be different…even better. It is difficult for any of us to believe in a great future when our faith in everything we once knew has been so terribly shaken.

The new circumstances of their lives would create new relationships with others who sometimes could not grasp the yearnings they had for a different kind of world. These other children knew no other life, and so they took for granted that the life and world that they knew was normal. Many of them lived with their parents or other close relatives, who provided a real connection to the place they had known all their lives and its history. For these children and their relatives this was, and would remain, their world.

This is the tale of two teenagers who, despite the trauma of being torn from their families by the cruel hands of heartless characters, refused to limit themselves to a life without dreams. It is the story of what happens when they, by sharing their dreams with each other, are united by the awesome power of their mutual aspirations.”

'The Legend of Tai & Burung Elang' available on Apple iBooks

'The Legend of Tai & Burung Elang' available on Amazon Kindle

'The Legend of Tai & Burung Elang' available on Barnes & Noble Nook

"A Beautiful Melody" ... A Timely Message To Our Young

Excerpt from the book 'A Beautiful Melody' by Roy and Monica Graham

Sons and daughters everywhere... 
This is a story about being as free as the birds in a tree. Freedom is the most wonderful possession that anyone can have, because it allows us to become the very best that we can be. When we are free, our eyes and our minds open up to great possibilities. Freedom allows us to make wonderful promises to ourselves about the greatness that is deep within each of us. It opens the way so that we can keep those promises.

Think about all the things that you would love to do. Like the three birds in our story, maybe you can create a beautiful melody that brings joy to the world. Maybe you can write a great poem that everyone will remember. Maybe you yourself can, or you can inspire someone to discover the next great scientific formula. Think about the great person you can become. Freedom makes it all possible.

We have said that Freedom is the most wonderful possession we have; but did you know that not everyone is free? Sadly some people have had their freedom restricted, or taken from them altogether. This can bring about great sadness. Like the child in our story, losing our joy is a terrible distraction. In the same way, losing the joy that freedom brings renders us unable to accomplish the great things that lay deep within us.

And so this is a story about how being free, like the birds, allows us all to do wonderful things. This story also makes us think about why we should want others to have the freedom to become everything they dream of being.”


'A Beautiful Melody' available on Apple iBooks

'A Beautiful Melody' available on Amazon Kindle

'A Beautiful Melody' available on Barnes & Noble Nook

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The 2014 Savannah Children's Book Festival

Join us for an enlivening experience... Click on the link for info
http://www.liveoakpl.org/SCBF/guests/coastal-writers-illustrators.php

"Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Are Hatched"

Click on the link below for a great real life illustration of the point... Courtesy of ESPN Video
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11844727

Toward Operational Clarity In Our Lives

Excerpt from the book 'Of Paradise Despised...'  by Roy Alexander Graham

"... The task of sorting through the many and varied processes that inform our values is one that must be assumed with conviction. This has to be the case if we are to operate with the clarity that we need to lead truly functional lives. Indeed, it is necessary if we are to realize our full human potential. As inconvenient as it may be, it is work that we are each required to do if we are to effectively reclaim our lives to our advantage.

Tragically, the existence that many of us end up leading does not express our own spiritual initiatives. In the maze of expectations that exercise us daily, we ignore that little voice which prods us to find our true selves, and cultivate the courage to chart our own course though this journey we call our life. In the end we find ourselves expressing the essential frustrations that ensue from the realization that we have been the proverbial puppets on a string.

It is never a good thing to be dancing to tunes that essentially herald our demise, but many of us have been, and continue to do so. We engage in the chorus of our disenfranchisement with an amazing constancy because we have not critically evaluated the circumstances of our lives. Eventually, we end up as spiritually disjointed persons because we have not cultivated the courage to be the title characters on the stage which is our world. The time has come when we must take responsibility for the songs that we sing and dance to. We are being called to step away from that line dance that has us going along with someone else’s choice steps. The challenge to us is to become the choreographers in the production which is our lives.... "

'Of Paradise Despised...' available on Amazon Kindle

'Of Paradise Despised...' available on Apple iBooks

'Of Paradise Despised...' available on Barnes & Noble Nook



Friday, November 7, 2014

A Workable Faith

Excerpt from the book 'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' by Roy Alexander Graham

“The crumbled walls of my fathers' house
Lies all around me... On top and below... Trapping and bruising…
I have lived the narrowed space of my mothers' degradation…

In the anxious hurt of the constant night of my fear
I have listened to every voice that told me
That for every reason I must stay here
And confine my existence to the shadows of a shattered time…
But…I…did not believe…

I chose to remove the clasp of my fathers' bondage…
I decided to rid myself of their names…
And I recreated my Mothers
Making of them virgins perpetual…
And my life became again…An Immaculate Conception.

I am…The begotten…And I…shall fall no more”


'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' available on Amazon Kindle

'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' available on Apple iBooks

'Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls' available on Barnes & Noble Nook

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Obama Era Is Over...?

Howard Fineman, a prominent journalist and commentator on MSNBC,  in his appearance on that outlet on Election Night, announced quite emphatically that "the Obama era is over". While not as emphatically and as enthusiastically negative as his Fox News counterparts, he seemed to sum up the implications of the apparent drubbing that Democrats took in this mid-term election... at least as far as we could reasonably expect from a sensationalist-headline-driven mainstream media. In fact, nothing remarkably groundbreaking happened in this election cycle. The results are historically consistent for the most part with the experience of most Presidencies in their sixth year.  Every two-term President, going back to Ronald Reagan and beyond, has seen the kind of ego-correcting/agenda-resetting backlash that is a consequence of the kind of political process we have. This is even more so the case when only a third of the electorate participates, as was the case in this Election.

Barack Obama has much to hold his head high about. The economy has seen consistent growth that has lifted it out of the worst Recession in modern history. Unemployment is back below pre-recession levels. More Americans have health insurance than ever before in our history as a direct result of the ACA. We now have the lowest increase in Healthcare costs in 50 years. The cost of borrowing for a college education has gone down. According to the CBO, the Deficit as a percentage of GDP has gone from 10.1% in 2009 to 3% in 2014. Much needed Immigration Reform is currently on the front burner in Congress' kitchen. It is an issue which will not, and must not be ignored. It is remarkable to note that even in States where the electorate chose Republicans, they also overwhelmingly opted for an increase in the Minimum Wage, an item that Republicans have fought against. Barack Obama was not on the ballot, but this issue that is a major focus of his was... And it was overwhelmingly approved.

Popular media may, in the interest of its conflict-driven agenda, continue to focus on the cult of personality that serves its corporate ends. But a more meaningful presentation of the issues that our country faces far outweighs the convenient trivialities of a "drama" driven process. Ultimately the times of our lives and the issues we face in these times cannot be measured in terms of the cult of personality that a hero-seeking culture dreams up. The work that must be done to achieve the social progress we need and the proliferation of Justice that will make our world more secure, is work that demands that we all put our shoulders to the wheel. The Media needs to be a substantially more adequate partner in this work. It may opt to assume this role... Or face its own "midterm" in the minds of conscientious people.

The President has noted that there is one thing he is sure of... He is going to be busy working for the American people over the next two years. We fully expect that he will be. He is in fact... Still the President of the United States of America.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Street Money In Politics... A Slippery Slope

Pennsylvania Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf has refused to give three hundred and forty thousand dollars to Philadelphia politicians to fund their "get out the vote" effort on Election Day. Wolf joins Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who refused to give money to Philadelphia ward leaders in the 2008 Democratic Primary for the same purpose. This granting of "street money" to local politicians is a well established practice in a number of American cities. In rejecting the request Wolf stated the following:
"I'm not one to do that, ... I think I'm trying to appeal to people's best instincts to vote. I don't want them to vote or bring people out or do something because I'm paying them - I want them to do it because they actually think their lives might be better. It might sound naive . . . if it takes some cash to do that, then I've failed as a politician."

Without mincing words I would agree with the objection the candidate raises... Again. If people can be paid for their vote, then they can be paid to withhold that vote. Not too long ago a certain campaign manager for a Gubernatorial candidate in the State of New Jersey "bragged" about spending half a million dollars to get some Black church leaders to influence their congregants to withhold their vote in certain urban precincts. We complain much, and justly so, about efforts to suppress the vote in mainly minority communities. The other side of that story is what I would call the self suppression of an electorate that refuses to take the initiatives necessary to ensure their meaningful participation in the democratic process.

Tomorrow is another Election Day. There are critical issues on the ballot that will impact the quality of life and the future of cities like Pholadelphia. These issues include the provision of adequate funding for Education, legislating a liveable wage, Healthcare policy, and many others. The very people whose lives are most affected by these issues must arouse the initiative within themselves that it takes to get the kind of leadership that will deliver on these issues. Talk is cheap. It is time to act in favor of the future we desire. No one can do for us that which we must be doing for ourselves. Wake up people, your future waits. Eventually we will get the government we deserve.





Living Into A Virtuous Fecundity

The following is the final excerpt from the article "Redefining Ourselves... A Season For Breaking The Mold."   Read the full article at http://figtreeenterprises.com/redefining-ourselves/

The redefinition of our lives that result from our work to create the destiny we determine to be fulfilling for us, brings into our experience of living the kind of abundance that we can only hope for in the absence of this definitive effort. That abundance results from the empowering clarity that we now possess as a result of new ways of looking at things. We discover new possibilities as we cultivate the ability to see things we were ignoring, to hear ideas to which we were once deaf, and to now apply ourselves with the kind of industriousness that Wisdom in her consummate omniscience dictates. Most meaningfully, our example serves as an indispensable guide on what is at times a profoundly difficult road through life. This work of Wisdom and Courage serves to establish lamps in the dark for fellow travelers on the journey to more abundant living.
This virtuous reproduction of ourselves and our lives will inevitably require new and improved templates of being. These new templates are molded through the persistence that a patient and determined willingness to pursue the destiny we have envisioned for our lives develops in us. In order to create the new templates we need it is necessary that we break out of the molds that limit our ability to grow. Complacency must no longer be tolerated as an ally. Fear must give way to courageous action. The existential malaise that saps our vitality must be addressed by proactive efforts to improve our health and well-being. The tendency to say “I can’t” must be replaced with a new enthusiasm that declares “I will!”.
By committing ourselves to growth, and by doing the work required by that commitment, we activate the process of change that fills us with a new dynamism. We move from promise to possibility, and from possibility to actualizing a more powerful sense of being. As agents of change we help motivate others, and thus we become prime movers in the perpetuation of that season for a redefinition of what it can mean to truly live.
Out of the old molds of being…!
We can be models for a “newness of life” that inspires…