the current immigration problem

Today is World Refugee Day… how fitting, as we find ourselves currently in the middle of a troubling, muddled mess — a mess where so many are shouting, it’s hard to actually hear. I get the shouting; passions often elicit a strong response. Also true is that political positioning is rampant; and such, too, often  impedes solution. This is a problem we need to solve.

Heard frequently here is the primary encouragement to love one another well.  

That includes the refugee.

That includes the children.

Separating children from their parents at the border is the core issue of the current, much-publicized controversy. As objectively explained by pundit Rich Lowry and retired professor Marie Aquila — first from Lowry:

“… For the longest time, illegal immigration was driven by single males from Mexico. Over the last decade, the flow has shifted to women, children, and family units from Central America. This poses challenges we haven’t confronted before and has made what once were relatively minor wrinkles in the law loom very large.

The Trump administration isn’t changing the rules that pertain to separating an adult from the child. Those remain the same. Separation happens only if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, or is a threat to the child, or is put into criminal proceedings.

It’s the last that is operative here. The past practice had been to give a free pass to an adult who is part of a family unit. The new Trump policy is to prosecute all adults. The idea is to send a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry. (Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, illegal re-entry a felony.)…”

From Aquila:

“How did we get here? It appears to have been on a road paved with good intentions.

A 1997 settlement in a class-action lawsuit, Flores v. Meese, required immigration officials to ‘place each detained minor in the least restrictive setting appropriate’ and release children ‘without unnecessary delay.’

The Obama administration opened detention centers along the southern border in 2014 to accommodate an increase of immigrants. This move generated lawsuits, which argued that the detention centers undermined the Flores settlement by not quickly releasing children. In addition, in 2016 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government did not have to release the parents.

The Trump administration has cobbled these decisions together to support a policy that sounds both lawful and cruel. And here we are. Or are we?

The Flores settlement handed the government the right to determine how to treat these minors. But the very fact that they are minors undermines that authority. These are children. They travel at their parents’ direction. On their own, they did not violate immigration law.”

Friends, if we are going to love the refugee well, then we need to fix this. While the policy was created years ago, the make up of those attempting to enter the country illegally has changed. Hence, “zero tolerance” also needs to change; it is not a wise nor compassionate approach with the current demographics. Let’s navigate through both the intense socio-political climate and through a media which often inflames more than informs, and let’s put our hearts and heads together in order to solve. Let us love all kids well… on far more than World Refugee Day. Our immigration system is broken; we have to find an effective, cost-efficient, but still compassionate means to enforce what is legal and what is not. My prayer is that solution comes soon through a nonpartisan way.

As Laura Bush wrote so eloquently earlier this week:

“… People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer. I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this…

In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”

I’m with the former First Lady.

Can we not find a kinder, more compassionate solution?

Can we not love the refugee better and well?

And how about being kinder to one another while we’re at it, too?

Respectfully…

AR

so what’s actually in the Bible?

Amazing how one of this past week’s most trending topics focused on what’s in the Bible… 

What’s biblical? What’s not?

And how does that apply to me?

Do I know what’s in the Bible?

Have I ever read it myself?

And what things can I — or can’t I — know for sure?

Allow me, no less, to thus share one of my all time favorite passages, a piece of scripture that I find humbling, profound, insightful, challenging, life-giving, and encouraging all rolled into one. And yet it’s a piece with which I think our society currently, significantly struggles. Let me change that… I’m thinking we’ve struggled with this for centuries…

From the book of John…

“… Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came to the temple courts again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them. The experts in the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in front of them and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone to death such women. What then do you say?’ (Now they were asking this in an attempt to trap him, so that they could bring charges against him.) 

Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight and replied, ‘Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground.

Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 

Jesus stood up straight and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’

She replied, ‘No one, Lord.’

And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.’”

There is so much in this sequence that mirrors our culture’s current rhythms…

  • First, there was a person who engaged in behavior many thought was wrong.
  • The crowd then moves to harshly condemn her.
  • Jesus then asks the crowd who among them is “guiltless.”
  • With the recognition that none of us are guiltless, no one is capable of administering the consequence.
  • Only then, in the context of the relationship — with no shame nor condemnation — Jesus acknowledges that the behavior is wrong — and calls for the woman to grow and change.

Our struggle seems twofold…

We either are (1) quick to condemn or (2) in effort not to condemn, we deny the existence of any wrongful behavior.

When I read this passage repeatedly, I find myself quietly asking more questions…

  • Where have I been quick to condemn?
  • Where have I felt capable of administering the consequence?
  • Where have I failed to recognize that I am not guiltless — that I screw up, too?
  • Where have I been so harsh in my words to another?
  • Where have I thought, “I’d never do that,” and then justified treating someone with lesser grace?
  • Where have I denied the sin, because it was easier than wrestling with the reality that there’s an area in which I might need to grow?
  • And where am I inconsistent in how I apply scripture?

Indeed, humbling, profound questions…

Respectfully…

AR

Spade/Bourdain & the questions we should answer

Kate Spade.

Anthony Bourdain.

Two celebrities who were admired by many.

Two celebrities who “had it all,” so-to-speak.

And two celebrities who hung themselves within days of one another.

Spade was 55. Bourdain was 61.

This is hard, friends. This is really hard. For any who have lost a family member, friend, or loved one to suicide, you know the grievous struggle it is to attempt to make sense of it all. It doesn’t make any sense. 

And yet, when they are gone, our love for them does not end. We hurt because we love them… so we find ourselves seemingly endlessly racking our heads and our hearts in the middle of our grief in desperate search for solution — for any solution…

Why would someone we love choose this? 

Why would they intentionally end their life?

I wish I had some profound, good answer… an answer that could somehow smooth over the wretched remnants we’re left to deal with. I keep thinking of actor Booboo Stewart’s character in the excellent “Hope Bridge” movie (released in 2015) — in the young man’s quest to find answers and understand why his father took his own life. The answers are so hard to come by. Again, it doesn’t make any sense.

With Spade and Bourdain in particular, no less, I find myself wrestling with two questions… 

Let us first acknowledge the response of Bourdain’s mother, in an interview with NBC News. Gladys Bourdain, a former editor at The New York Times, said that there was never any sign that anything was wrong with her son.

Let me repeat that: there was never any sign.

As we rack our heads searching for answers, we look for those signs… what did I miss? … why didn’t I catch this?… And then we often settle on the thought of mental illness, as our search ends in unsettling ambiguity. 

I wonder if there are deeper questions we could be asking — questions about loneliness… self-worth… and fulfillment.

We see in Spade and Bourdain, for example, two people who had it all… 

Spade was a world renown fashion designer. She founded the euphonious “Kate Spade New York” in the early 90’s and came to be known as an incredibly creative, successful, and sophisticated businesswoman. She had been married approximately 24 years and has an adolescent daughter. Her net worth is estimated to be around $150 million.

Bourdain — a celebrity chef — “built a business outside the kitchen,” coined Town & Country. He was a successful author, travel documentarian, and TV personality, and he was considered articulate, insightful, and keenly influential. The Smithsonian Institution once declared Bourdain as “the original rock star” of the culinary world. He has one adolescent daughter, and leaves an estimated net worth of $16 million.

Both Spade and Bourdain seem to have “had it all,” as one might say, and yet for both, “all” was not enough.

This is heartbreaking, friends; there is zero judgment. There was an emptiness in Spade and Bourdain that celebrity and success could seemingly never fulfill; wealth and influence were nowhere close to enough. Hence, left with more questions than answers, today I ponder only two:

What are we pursuing that is potentially unfulfilling?

And what can we fill our heads and hearts with that is of greater, lasting value?

Respectfully…

AR

living in the land of the mic drop

Becoming prevalent in the ’80’s, primarily employed by rappers and comedians, note Wikipedia’s following definition:

“A mic drop is the gesture of intentionally dropping one’s microphone at the end of a performance or speech to signal triumph. Figuratively, it is an expression of triumph for a successful event and indicates a boastful attitude toward one’s own performance.”

In other words, a person stops speaking and releases whatever tool made his voice possible to hear — believing there is no need to continue the conversation.

My question today, no less, centers around how comfortable we’ve become with dropping the mic. Remember, based on Wikipedia’s definition, the act “indicates a boastful attitude” toward self.

… How many times does a person in social media have to have the last word?

… How many times can they seemingly not allow any opinion other than their own to stand?

Hence, if only their opinion is acceptable — and if they have to always have the last word — I come to two questionable conclusions:

One, they probably are not the most skilled at respectful dialogue.

And two, they’ve gotten way too comfortable with the mic drop.

So how do we proceed?

It would be wonderful if all on social media would band together to dismiss with this dropping, so-to-speak. Sadly, no less, I’m thinking that might be incredibly challenging. Too many too quickly enjoy “amen-ing” the act.

And so we must instead ask ourselves how to wisely respond.

In processing this question for the day, I kept coming to a quote my mother has long repeated:

“You don’t have to attend every argument to which you are invited.”

(Now there’s an “amen”…)

As elaborated upon by author, speaker, and psychiatrist Leandro Herroro:

“This quote is from an unknown author. He or she must have known a thing or two about the futility of engaging in every single discussion that comes your way. The quote is also a proxy for ‘pick your battles’. There are battles worth fighting and battles that are not…  

… a better angle is ‘What will make the difference?’

… [You] don’t have to attend to every argument to which you are invited, you don’t have to get involved in everything, and certainly, you do not have to spend your time fighting every battle.

The magic word is choice. Choices are always in front of you.”

Sometimes on social media, many choose to be silent. That silence should not be used to make assumptions about the non-speakers; such is only a surmise.

That silence may instead most signify a response to a perceived mic drop…

“What can I say that will make a difference?”

“Nothing?”

Then perhaps there’s little wisdom in response.

Respectfully…

AR

free (profane) & inconsistent

With multiple celebrities recently joining the known chorus of disrespectful communicators, it would seem wise to wrestle with what free speech is — and is not.

Let us first acknowledge that freedom of speech does not mean we can say whatever we wish, whenever we wish. We can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre nor use our words for slander, libel, perjury, or extortion, for example. The First Amendment does not protect such.

Let us also note that there is a difference between slander and libel as compared to ridicule or criticism. 

The challenge comes when the words becomes profane, as profane, rude as it is, does not legally equate to “wrong.”

What does “profane” mean?

— treated with abuse, irreverence, or contempt : desecrated; treated disrespectfully, irreverently, or outrageously.

Unfortunately, we live amidst a culture that seemingly, continually, allows and even encourages increasing irreverence and disrespect…

Rosanne Barr’s recent racist tweet about former Obama staffer, Valerie Jarrett, qualifies as “profane.” Samantha Bee’s recent vulgar insult about Ivanka Trump qualifies as profane.

But profane as they each are, both do not legally equate as “wrong” —  and thus still qualify as “free speech.”

Do Barr and Bee thus have a right to say what they said?

Yes.

Do they have a right to keep their job?

Also, yes.

Do ABC and TBS have a right to fire them? 

Again, yes.

And do the companies have a right to choose not to fire them?

Of course. ABC and TBS may treat Barr and Bee differently; it is up to them as their respective, individual employers.

The First Amendment allows us to “say what you wanna’ say,” but it does not provide the right to maintain employment, especially if working for a private employer. Companies have a right to expect certain behaviors from their employees. Such is the core challenge embedded within the NFL/anthem controversy.

… “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…”

That law — tough as the manifestation of it can be for different ones of us at different times — is the protection our Founding Fathers provided, even for what is unpopular. 

We have a problem, no less, with what we feel is wrong or unpopular.

For some of us, that is only the words of Barr.

For some of us, that is only the words of Bee.

For some of us, that is only the reaction of ABC.

And for some of us, that is only the reaction of the NFL.

Friends, this isn’t fun. Good people think differently. Good people think differently in regard to what speech should be “free.” We have different  — and different valid  —  perspectives.

And because we think differently, our application of First Amendment protection is perhaps more than anything, respectfully inconsistent.

Respectfully… always…

AR

to kneel or not to kneel

When the NFL recently announced their new policy that will fine teams if players on the field fail to stand during the Star-Spangled Banner, a rousing chorus again ensued in regard to whether or not kneeling during the National Anthem was appropriate behavior. In case any of us were somehow unaware, there seem some strong opinions on this issue. 

So let’s attempt to extract the emotion for a moment — an exercise that might be wise for our news sources to employ in order to reveal a little less bias. Let us simply ask relevant questions…

First, do players have to be on the field for the anthem?

No, players may protest and not incur a penalty by remaining in the locker room until after the anthem is finished.

How did this protest begin?

Former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, told the media he sat to protest the oppression of people of color in the United States and ongoing issues with police brutality.

Is the reported origin of the protest accurate?

No one can say for sure. Kaepernick had lost his starting job and there were attempts to trade him in the off-season. His behavior also went unnoticed for two games before he mentioned any protest.

Does the questionable origin matter?

Excellent question — and the answer is subjective. The Intramuralist would opine “no,” as the protest has evolved to a point in which multiple players participate — and many others have fervently weighed in.

Why is the protest a problem?

Many feel the act is disrespectful to the United States, its flag, and its military.

What is our right to protest under the First Amendment?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Does the First Amendment apply to employers?

Unless we work for the government, the Constitution provides no protection for keeping our jobs based on what we say. Paraphrasing the words of former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “An employee may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be employed.”

Is there inconsistency in what employees are allowed to express?

You bet. (Ok, that was opinion there.) The point is that the deciding factor in maintaining current employment seems to be what rubs an employer the wrong way (i.e. see Barr, Rosanne).

Why might this particular protest rub NFL owners the wrong way?

NFL ratings fell 9.7% during the 2017 regular season, according to Nielsen. A typical game was watched by 1.6 million fewer people.

Can the ratings drop be attributed to the protest?

Not with certainty. Ratings were down 8% the year before.

What do we know in regard then to how the public feels about this issue?

The public is divided, but discernment on what a majority of the public believe depends on how the question is asked. Borrowing from the wisdom of Kathryn Casteel, who writes about economics and policy issues for FiveThirtyEight, the public’s answer depends on whether the question posed focuses on patriotism, free speech, or race. When posing the question in regard to patriotism, “surveys tend to find that more people disapprove of the protests than approve.” When posing the question in regard to free speech, “a majority of Americans think players should be allowed to kneel — whether the respondents like it or not.” And when posing the question in regard to race, “it’s not clear.” Writes Casteel:

“Despite the many conflicting poll results, we can say a few things with confidence:

1. A plurality of Americans don’t like the NFL protests — at least if they aren’t told what the players’ goals are.

2. But Americans generally dislike protests involving the flag or anthem, so it’s not clear how much that might affect public opinion in this case.

3. Most Americans think racism is a problem in the abstract, but people are less likely to support the Black Lives Matters movement, which aims to stop police violence against African-Americans.

4. Americans are broadly supportive of the importance of free speech in general, though opinions are more muddled when people are asked about kneeling during the anthem in particular.

But looking at the overall numbers obscures an important fact: Opinions on these issues are incredibly polarized by party and race.”

So last question: how do we love and respect all people well when such a passionate issue is polarized by party and race?

And that is the most excellent and necessary question.

May we each humbly ask ourselves: how do we love all people well?

Respectfully…

AR

heroes & villains & how we cheer

“I often wonder if sports have become too important to us,” said this diehard Purdue-Reds-Bengals-Colts-DrewBrees-StephCurry-Pacers-Fever-Florida-and-growing-Ohio-State fan.

We seem to have forgotten that sports — at their core — are a game…

… “A form of play… especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”

And yet we look at players on the teams we love and make them heroes…

“He’s such a great guy”…

“Wow… so awesome on and off the court!”…

“Her character… she is such a wonderful person!”

We also look at those on the teams we detest and make them villains…

“Look at him flop — again! Doesn’t everyone see what a terrible person he is!”

“What a jerk!”

“Such dirty players… I can’t stand them!”

And so we make character assessments based on minimal information. Maybe we make assessments based on their off-court public appearances; maybe we make them based on their charitable donations. But the reality is that each is still, always, an incomplete assessment. We cannot determine hero or villain based on such limited assessment.

I was reminded of such watching the current NBA playoffs. It’s been arguably more interesting this year with several quite talented teams (and most deciding to finally play defense). One of those teams — plausibly, primarily due to the presence of all-world all-star, LeBron James — is the Cleveland Cavaliers. With all due respect to my northeast Ohio hardcourt enthusiasts, allow me to humbly admit that I am not a very big fan.

I don’t hate the Cavs (…remember this is just a “game”). I am often impressed with LeBron’s tenacity and his ability to seemingly, sometimes, singlehandedly will his team to win. But I must also admit, when they miss a shot — especially if the Pacers or Steph Curry is playing in opposition —  I am somewhat pleased. When Cleveland’s Kyle Korver misses a three, for example, I am especially pleased…

Well, at least I was. Then I read this, last week, from ESPN…

“… A 15-year veteran, Korver prides himself on his consistency and levelheadedness. These are cornerstones of what has made him one of the greatest 3-point shooters in NBA history. His mother, Laine, who once scored 73 points in a high school game, taught him that you’re not great until you’re consistent. He’d always taken it to heart.

But since a terrible week in March, his balance, that fragile component for all shooters, has been off.

Korver’s youngest brother, Kirk, died on March 20 after a brief illness that caught the family and the doctors by surprise. It was devastating for the close-knit family and for the town of Pella, where Kyle’s father, Kevin, has been the senior pastor of one of the community’s largest churches for 25 years, and the Korver brothers are treated as ambassadors and heroes [emphasis mine].

In Pella, though, in the days and weeks after Kirk’s death, there has been an element beyond grief, an unexpected uplifting. It started at the funeral, attended by more than 1,500 people at the Third Reformed Church of Pella, when Kyle and his parents spoke with such purpose that it left those in attendance in awe. And it has carried on as each Korver 3-pointer splashes through the net in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff run as he plays for more than himself.

‘You know it’s hard to hold death in one hand,’ Kyle said. ‘Your brother passing. Everything you feel about that and you get playoffs. Nothing else gives you different eyes for what’s going on in the world and what’s important and what matters.’”

There is something in Korver that makes me believe he gets that there are more important things than sports… that sports are — at their core — a game…

May we never forget that. May we never forget what’s most important.

And as the NBA Finals begin tomorrow, at least when Korver hits a three, I might even cheer.

Respectfully…

AR

note to the graduate ’18

[Originally penned 3 years ago, when my oldest was graduating from high school. My sense is the wisdom still applies…]

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

As we pen a final post to those now formally entering adulthood, allow us to address a few more brief truths as you take these next few, albeit humongous steps…

First, there is a time for everything — every activity under heaven, every season under the sun. Hear me now: you will not enjoy nor desire each of these times. Every activity will not be wonderful nor every season incredibly joyous and fun. Don’t let me discourage you; that’s not my intent. My intent is to wrestle with reality.

Remember that enjoying and embracing are not the same thing. As you face life’s next chapters, the truth is that there will be seasons and chapters that stretch you beyond your wildest imagination — beyond where you ever thought you’d go or perhaps ever wanted. You have a choice in how to respond. When the time comes to tear down or turn away, embrace the time; when the time comes to speak, speak — or be quiet, be quiet. Enjoying the season is less important than learning from the experience. The wise man learns and grows from the seasons that are hard.

Second — and don’t let me shock you — but contrary to perhaps your long-held belief (or any fictional, parenting mantra) — you cannot be whatever you want to be. I’m sorry; remember… we are wrestling with reality. Similar to the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and that jolly old St. Nick, there are a few things we’ve told you that aren’t actually true.

It is true that you cannot be whatever or whoever you want to be (… just ask all those who’ve thought they should be President). You can, however, be all that God created you to be. 

Embrace your gifts. Utilize the unique wiring within you — the wiring that makes you distinctly and beautifully, uniquely you! Don’t compare yourself to another, falling prey to society’s hollow teaching that another person’s wiring or set up is somehow better or worse than yours. Simply embrace your own strengths and grow from your own weaknesses. Seek God first; seek his intention for your life. Then be who he created you to be, and do what he created you to do. Don’t compare your calling to any other.

And third (because this proud, reflective parent always has seemingly much to say), let me offer a brief rapid fire of final encouragement…

Love deeply. Offer grace generously. Never view grace and truth as opposites, as each can be applied in full measure. Wash your sheets. Don’t be selfish. Resist being quick to anger. Be fast to forgive. Be humble. Forgive again. And again. Pursue wisdom. Consider coffee. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Separate the reds from the whites. Be charitable. Save some; spend some; and give some away. Don’t be afraid of sorrow. Turn off the XBOX. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t think of equality with God as something to be grasped. Listen to the elderly; invest in the young. Bow and curtsy when appropriate. Show respect — in what you say and how you think. Remember that respect does not mean accepting as equally good and true. Remember that all things are not equally good and true. Know when to say that; know when to not. Open doors for other people. Look another in the eye. Use your napkin. Be discerning. Be aware that just because something feels good, it might not be wise. Be prayerful. Figure the faith thing out. And embrace each and every season shared above… embracing the time to laugh… the time to cry… the time to grieve… and yes, the time to dance.

There is a time for everything. God has made everything beautiful for its own time. Graduates, without a doubt, now is your time to dance. Enjoy… how beautiful…

With a special salute to this year’s grads…

AR

what did you expect to hear?

Laurel, Yanny…

Yanny, Laurel…

With visions of sugar-plums or blue and black or white and gold dresses still dancing in our heads, we find ourselves debating yet another divisive phenomenon. 

A Reddit user recently posted a short audio clip, asking fellow users the simple question: “what do you hear?”

Hundreds of thousands voiced an opinion — even Ellen DeGeneres and JJ Watt. Fascinatingly, DeGeneres and Watt — two upstanding, seemingly goodhearted people — heard two totally, different things.

One heard “Laurel.” The other heard “Yanny” — two completely different words — words so different in meaning and sound that there is no possible way both people could be right.

And since each actually heard it, it takes minimal effort for each to conclude that they alone are right. 

In the days that followed, we have learned that technically, if you heard “Laurel,” you heard correctly; it was the vocabulary word of a Georgia high school student. But the explanation shouldn’t blind us to the wisdom embedded in the opportunity before us…

“You mean that good people — even intelligent people, logical people, people I love — might be convinced they heard the only right thing? … that they may conclude, even vehemently so — that all others are wrong? … and then maybe, they might start treating that other as lesser? … even justify insults or looking down on them?…

There were multiple explanations for this recent, aptly-termed, “auditory illusion.” Wired Magazine shared as follows: 

“… Thankfully, scientists have an explanation for why people hear different things when they listen to the recording. A number of academics chimed in to explain the phenomenon on Twitter. They said that the clip is an ‘ambiguous figure,’ or as one auditory neuroscientist explained it to The Verge1, the audio version of ‘Rubin’s Vase,’ an optical illusion where two people’s profiles can also be seen as a flower vase. In other words, it’s an optical illusion, except for your ears. There’s not really a correct answer either way. The reason that the recording is so contested is likely because it’s noisy, meaning there are lots of different frequencies captured. What you hear depends on which frequencies your brain emphasizes.

The higher frequency sounds in the recording make people hear ‘Yanny,’ whereas the lower frequencies cause others to swear they hear ‘Laurel.’ What you hear depends on what sounds your brain is paying attention to, your past experiences, and what you’re expecting to hear. What word you experience might also have to do with your age. Older adults often start losing their hearing within the higher-frequency range, meaning it’s possible that more young people hear ‘Yanny.’

There are also other, technical explanations. For example, what you hear might have to do with your speakers, your headphones, or the acoustics in the room. ‘The main reason (I suspect) people hear this differently is because different headphones and speakers filter the frequencies of the sound in different ways,’ tweeted Dana Boebinger, a PhD student at Harvard and MIT studying auditory perception, in a thread breaking down the illusion. There’s also what platform you heard it on first—the differences in the audio could have something do with how Twitter or Instagram compresses video files…”

Let’s get this straight…

There’s not really a correct answer either way…

The reason that the recording is so contested is likely because it’s noisy… (… what other sounds and voices are we listening to?)…

What you hear depends on what sounds your brain is paying attention to, your past experiences, and what you’re expecting to hear…

So what we are paying attention to affects what we actually hear.

Sounds like maybe, just maybe, we could apply this wisdom even further…

Respectfully…

AR

Harry, Meghan & me

Millions awoke in the wee hours, early Saturday morning to watch Meghan Markle marry her Prince. Those millions heard the words of the Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, the presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church, sharing a message wise for each of us to hear and to heed… sharing wisdom in a world where prayers will always be necessary, even when we can’t see it… 

From Rev. Curry, with emphasis from the Intramuralist:

“And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen. From the Song of Solomon in the Bible, set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion, fears as the its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods. Drown it out.

The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said and I quote, ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.’

Love is the only way. There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. Well, there’s power, power in love, not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love.

There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right. There’s something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love and our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here. Ultimately the source of love is God himself — the source of all of our lives.

There’s an old medieval poem that says, ‘where true love is found, God himself is there.’ The New Testament says it this way, ‘Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God; those who do not love do not know God; why? For God is love. There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love, to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart. A seal on your arm. For love, it is strong.’

But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here. Two young people fell in love and we all showed up. But it’s not just for and about a young couple who we rejoice with. It’s more than that. Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer the sum of the essence of the teachings of Moses and he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, and Jesus said, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment.’

And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. And then in Matthews’ version, he added, he said on these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world, love God. Love your neighbors. And while you’re at it, love yourself.

Someone once said that Jesus began most revolutionary movement in all of human history, a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world. And a movement mandating people to live that love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I’m talking about some power, real power, power to change the world.

If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s antebellum south who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power, they explained it this way, they sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity, something that can make things right, to make the wounded whole.

‘There is a balm in Gilead to heal the soul. They said if you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save us all. Oh, that’s the balm in Gilead.’

He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t—he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life. He sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world, for us.

That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish sacrificial redemptive love, changes lives and it can change this world…’

If we would realize the redemptive power of love…

If we would follow the call to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength…

If we would learn to love all of our neighbors as opposed to only the easiest to love…

And if we would remember that love is never selfish or self-centered…

Maybe then we’d see what actually would change lives and change the world.

The world will not be changed via legislation. The world will not be changed via government. Changing the world starts with us… by loving and respecting both God and one another. 

Respectfully…

AR