the politics of oh no, they better not, and I would never

When first hearing the news of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, my immediate response was a muted “oh, no.”

Being humbly transparent, my response wasn’t prompted by empathy for the Ginsburg family nor any potential shifts in the make up of the high court. My muffled exclamation resulted from the immediate awareness that the timing is one more thing for our country to fight about. And let’s face it. In the bifurcated culture we live in — let me change that — in the encouraged-by-many-and-media, bifurcated culture we live in, we are ready to fight.

But they better not…

Notice the subject of my sentence: “they.” It’s always about they… them… somebody other than me… Oh, how I wish as a people we realized there is no them; there is only us! But we don’t typically get that…

They wouldn’t dare play politics! They wouldn’t dare play that card! They wouldn’t dare resort to such shady, hypocritical efforts when we’re talking about the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America!

Right. We focus on “they.”

And then I think back to the nomination of Merrick Garland, who even though legitimately nominated for the Supreme Court 4 years ago, never received a hearing or vote because Senate leadership declared it wasn’t appropriate to fill the vacancy in an election year. Note: that was in March of 2016 — 8 months before the election.

I think, too, of the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who even though legitimately nominated for the Supreme Court 2 years ago, faced an uncorroborated sexual assault accusation from high school amid 3 other claims, which were also uncorroborated or proved false. Note: there is more substantiation for the accusation against Joe Biden than there was for Kavanaugh.

Please don’t hear me suggest one or the other is right, wrong, ok, whatever. I’m simply making the point that we are lured into pointing at “they,” forgetting the justification of our own potential inconsistencies. Allow me to also point out that upon their nomination, both Garland and Kavanaugh received the highest, unanimous rating of “well-qualified” by the American Bar Association.

But I would never…

… I would never be inconsistent. I would never be so political. I would never focus on them… 

Yes, I’d like say that about me, too. But sometimes there are undoubtedly, probable places where each of us is at the very least, unknowingly inconsistent.

Perhaps we would best learn from the example of the honorable Justices Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. While each are respectively revered as ideological heroes of the political left and right, the two were fast friends.

They had served together on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prior to becoming colleagues on the Supreme Court. Scalia would refer to Ginsburg as “the best of colleagues, as she is the best of friends.”

When Scalia passed in 2016, Ginsburg said, “It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend… We were best buddies.”

Perhaps their example is best articulated, no less, through the story of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Justice Jeffrey Sutton:

“During one of my last visits with Justice Scalia, I saw striking evidence of the Scalia-Ginsburg relationship. As I got up to leave his chambers, he pointed to two dozen roses on his table and noted that he needed to take them down to ‘Ruth’ for her birthday. ‘Wow,’ I said, ‘I doubt I have given a total of twenty-four roses to my wife in almost thirty years of marriage.’ ‘You ought to try it sometime,’ he retorted. Unwilling to give him the last word, I pushed back: ‘So what good have all these roses done for you? Name one five-four case of any significance where you got Justice Ginsburg’s vote.’ ‘Some things,’ he answered, ‘are more important than votes.’

I let him have the last word.”

God be with the family of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Rest in peace, RBG. You, too, Antonin Gregory Scalia. You have served us well.

Respectfully…

AR

current culture & the NFL

Slouched on the couch for the weekend slate of games, it was so good to see live, professional football again!

Alas, as you may have expected, we have a few random questions…

Is it weird to see Tom Brady no longer donning any blue in his uniform?

And Philip Rivers is a Colt?

But really, can Bill Belichick and Tom Brady win without each other?

How does not having fans in the stands affect the players and change the game?

Without the fans, is there such a thing as “home field advantage”?

With the on-field, promotional signs to “vote,” are we being encouraged to “vote” or to “vote a certain way?”

What? The Jaguars, Raiders, and Washington Football Team all won?

Were those boos during the moment of silence when the Chiefs and Texans stood arm and arm? Why?

Would we be a wiser to seek understanding before judgment?

Why is Colin Kaepernick still not signed and playing? Is it a racist, economic, or performance decision? Is the decision that simple?

Are all athletes role models?

What determines who is a role model?

Could someone please get Kansas City coach, Andy Reid, a new, not-so-foggy mask?

How exciting is the talent of youthful quarterbacks such as Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Lamar Jackson?!

Could this finally be the year for — dare-I-say — the Buffalo Bills?

Do we really have to watch all these political ads? … and for another 49 days?

How do the announcers decide what they’ll say and what they won’t about our country’s current cultural issues? Is it a lose-lose situation, in the sense that they will never be able to appease all?

Is “silence equivalent to compliance” or is that me applying my behavioral standards to someone else? Is that ok?

When will Tua Tagovailoa get to play?

Is Cam Newton back?

Does kneeling matter? Or does it depend why one does it?

What efforts are creating unity and what are not?

Why are the ratings significantly down?

Will they keep playing?

What will happen next?

Until next week…

… when we slouch in the couch once more.

Respectfully…

AR

my #1 love/hate relationship

As one who’s long had a boundary of not turning on the television in the morning, my friend Cathy called me 19 years ago, imploring me to turn it on, moments before 9 a.m. Misbelieving my jaw could drop no farther, when plane #2 hit the South Tower at 9:02, I don’t know if still now I can assign words to my thought or emotion. In our ongoing, collective national processing, I’ve settled here… at least for now…

What happened on 9/11 is my #1 love/hate relationship.

Let me explain the hate first. After all, hate is always easier.

I hate that persons intentionally destroyed the Twin Towers.

I hate that these persons were terrorists.

I hate that 2,958 people died (note: if stated number appears different than factual records, the 19 hijackers have been removed from our listing, believing they don’t belong in the same breath).

I hate that the original planning of terror included 12 planes from both coasts, desiring to destroy the World Trade Center, Empire State Building, Pentagon, the Prudential Tower in Boston, the White House, U.S. Capitol, Chicago’s Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, the U.S. Bank (then Library) Tower in L.A., the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, and the Columbia Center in Seattle.

I hate that the terrorists did this in the name of God. (To be clear, I don’t believe they knew what “the name of God” really means.)

Truthfully, our “hate” list could go on. As I met with a woman just this past spring who was originally scheduled to be on one of the planes and lost her fiancé in the attack, I’m poignantly reminded of how lives were forever changed that day… how the grief never fully goes away. There is much to hate. Again, hate is always easier.

But consistent with tragedy — not diminishing the pain and suffering in absolutely, any way — if we are willing to look for it, there is something good. There is something to love.

Enter 2020…

2020 is a crazy year. Call it “unprecedented.” Call it some “new normal.” Call it some other recently worn out phrase.

The reality is 2020 is a year marked by uncertainty. And uncertainty creates confusion and  controversy… not to mention discomfort and division. Sadly, our messy 2020 America seems incredibly divided.

I may be climbing out on some simplified, societal limb here, but my sense is our division is only enhanced when we forget what’s most important… when we prioritize something lesser. Allow me not to suggest that our individual passions are unimportant; my speculation is more that our passions are enflamed when we forget what means more.

For example — and back to 9/11 — in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, being a Democrat or Republican did not matter. Being black or white or Latinx did not matter. White collar/blue collar, gay/straight — none of it mattered.

Why? Because we found our identity in something bigger. 

It’s not that those other identities are unimportant. They are significant and have shaped our individual existence; we would also do well to honor one another by understanding those individual shapings better and more.

But what I love about 9/11 is that it reminds us of that something bigger. It reminds us that bigger than all of the above dichotomies, we are human. 

19 years ago, we came together… Democrat/Republican, black/white, gay/straight — we locked arms together. In fact, only 3 days after the attack, Congress passed a $40 billion, bipartisan anti-terrorism and victim aid measure; they worked together. We worked together. 

We worked together with the different. We worked and walked even with those who irritate or annoy us… who disagree with us.

What I love about 9/11 — as awful as that day was — is that it gives us an opportunity to remember what’s bigger…

Together.

Respectfully…

AR

what’s wrong with cancel culture?

One of the cultural ideologies that’s received ample contemporary airtime is this idea of “cancel culture.” As quoted here in early June, “Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.”

To be “cancelled” means to no longer pay attention to — and — via the group shaming response — to also declare that the person in question no longer deserves anyone else’s attention either.

Ever.

In other words, something a person has said or done — maybe only one thing a person has said or done — means they no longer deserve to be heard from again. They no longer are allowed nor believed capable of a positive contribution to society.

Cancel culture, therefore, is not about what’s good and true and right.

Cancel culture is about control.

Note that both the current and most recent President actually agree on the ideology’s lack of virtue. Said Pres. Trump, “We want free and open debate, not speech codes and cancel culture. We embrace tolerance, not prejudice.” 

Said Pres. Obama, “That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”

And even though the instances of desired application have seemingly gotten louder and the public and public officials’ acceptance seems lesser, it got me wondering what’s actually wrong with the whole idea… why it bothers me…

What’s wrong with cancel culture? …What’s wrong with ridding the world of the influence of someone who fails to conform to what I believe is right?

One, it misses the profound beauty of redemption.

No doubt we’ve each seen a lot of beautiful things in our lives… the birth of a child… the majesty of the mountains… the hawk that soars so high in the sky.

But for me there may be nothing more beautiful than the one who is redeemed — for whatever the reason. Maybe it’s a series of habitual errors or a life of dysfunction or some awful, despicable act, but at some point the person is broken enough to see the error of their ways, acknowledge their wrongdoing, and to make amends. They adopt a posture of humility and become generous in their forgiveness — in both the asking and extending. They become great givers of grace, sincerely and profoundly recognizing they may be the one who needs it most.

Because cancel culture is marked by a one-and-done mentality, it misses the profound beauty of redemption — not to mention its accompanying humility, forgiveness, and grace. 

And two, it assumes “I” am as smart as “I” ever need to be.

Follow me on this one…

I heard someone say recently, “I reserve the right to get smarter,” and I thought, “What a wise thing to say.” In other words, I hope I know more tomorrow than I know today… and I hope I will always be willing and wanting to say that.

When we judge another by their belief or behavior for failing to conform to what we believe is right — and let’s be clear, cancelling is an act of judgment — do we not realize that at some point we might be the one who errs? Do we not realize that what we believe to be right today, may not be right with someone else tomorrow?

I think of phrases that were at one time socially acceptable but today are not. Those persons did not know then what we know now. Hopefully, they’ve gotten smarter and changed their behavior. But what if they haven’t? And what if someday — God forbid — that person is “me”?

Because cancel culture believes in ridding the world of the influence of someone who fails to conform to “me,” it assumes there are people who are as smart as they ever need to be.

I will always be more attracted to the redeemed than to the one who thinks they know all they need to know. The un-cancelled, humble one — the one once broken and now generous in virtue — now that person, they have a story to share.

Respectfully…

AR

requiring an enemy

Years ago on the way to my weekly college work outs, I’d pump some motivating music through my then ultra-flashy Walkman headphones; we had beats without Beats back then.

One of my favorite songs to rile me up, get me going, and remind me of my exercise initiative was the infamous Bonnie Tyler “Footloose” classic…

“… I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night…”

Something about the desiring and admiring of heroes was captivating, motivating and good.

And yet today, all these years later, we seem to have gotten that all wrong. Today, whether we say it or not, we instead hold out for an enemy.

_____

enemy | ˈenəmē | – noun

a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.

(the enemy) [treated as singular or plural] a hostile nation or its armed forces or citizens, especially in time of war.

• a thing that harms or weakens something else.

_____

With all due respect, let’s insert an Intramuralist rephrase: an enemy is one perceived to be actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. An enemy is perceived to harm or weaken one.

Hence…

The left has the right (and vice versa). The Yankees have the Red Sox. Black has white. Taylor Swift has Kanye. “Tastes great” has “less filling.” The vaxxers have the anti-vaxxers. The “woke” have the ignorant. And the Dallas Cowboys now even have the Washington Football Team.

There’s a part of me that wants to identify all of the above as mere opposites. There’s another part of me that hears one say, “C’mon, you can’t compare societal issues to sports.” And truthfully, I somewhat agree with said assessment.

Yet what emboldens today’s identification as enemies is the passion with which we justify supporting a singular side — and — the disdain that we have for the other. As long as I can hold onto my disdain (warning, here — no one’s going to like this), I can justify my hatred. 

After all, that’s what we do with our enemies — right? I mean, that’s ok — right?

We hate them.

Every time I hear the encouragement to “love my enemies,” it takes me back a little. The idea of actually loving them, doing good to them, and even praying for them seems a little — strike that — totally counterintuitive. They are harming me — remember?? Or at least harming someone. Maybe even lots of someones.

And yet here in a culture where the faithful, faithless, woke, ignorant, and all the other utter opposites agree that the social-political climate is divisive, tense and increasingly awful, I start to believe that maybe, truly, as said, we’ve gotten it all wrong.

We’ve justified creating enemies of the opposite. We’ve justified disdain of those who think differently. We’ve justified hate.

Perhaps in some conscious or unconscious way, the justification makes us feel better about ourselves. Perhaps insulating ourselves from the passion of the polar opposite allows us to never have to wrestle with the uncomfortable… that our opinion or passion might not be completely valid… or… that another’s might be equally valid… or… that even if another’s is inaccurate or perceived invalid, they are still deserving of love and respect.

totally counterintuitive…

Love your enemy. Let them bring out the best in us and not the worst.

Respectfully…

AR

a time for hope

So much has happened…

After taking our brief annual respite — and hearing from multiple articulate, insightful Guest Writers — we have much to discuss. What a fast moving month! Amid a backdrop of already established uncertainty, we witnessed an August full of momentous events…

  • The protests surrounding the tragic experiences of George Floyd and Jacob Blake…
  • Our response, heartache, assessment, and the new details that continue to emerge…
  • The destruction of Portland and Kenosha…
  • The violence, riots and unrest…
  • The political correctness/incorrectness/agenda/something that only allows us to use one word and maybe not another…
  • The massive explosion in Beirut, killing at least 190 persons, injuring thousands more…
  • Earthquakes — across the globe in Indonesia, the Philippines, and more  — and here at home near Sparta, North Carolina — the largest quake in the state since 1916…
  • Fires in California… “I’m essentially at a loss for words to describe the scope of the lightning-sparked fire outbreak that has rapidly evolved in Northern California — even in the context of the extraordinary fires of recent years. It’s truly astonishing,” said UCLA scientist, Daniel Swain…
  • Stormy, unwelcome visits from Isaias, Laura, and Marco…
  • The intentional stoppage of sports — for multiple reasons… 
  • “Cancel culture,” in full swing…
  • The party’s conventions…
  • The politics… meh… and the games people play… 
  • The election focus — only 62 days away — and the impending choice between two candidates — a choice unfortunately, with all due respect, which in only my semi-humble-perhaps-inaccurate opinion, seems between one who doesn’t know how to talk and one who talks too much…
  • The death of the talented American actor, Chadwick Boseman, known for portraying the Black Panther, James Brown, Jackie Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall (and whose family’s tweet announcing his death quickly became the most “liked” tweet in history)…
  • And all of the above occurring in this still unsettling pandemic, with no one seemingly knowing always, exactly the best way to respond.

Did I mention the uncertainty?

We will resist making the uncertain certain because we can’t.

Let me not be a depressor of your day. In fact, while much of the above has pierced our peace and been a source of significant concern, I contend this is a huge time for hope.

“Hope?” you say.

Indeed. But it matters what we’re hoping in. Are we hoping and finding our peace in something that’s constant? Or in something rather that changes routinely or depends most on who else adheres to like thinking?

We will discuss all that and more — and certainly much of the above — even amid these uncertain times.

So with one more sweet shout out to our awesome Guest Writers, it’s great to be back… let’s talk! Let’s continue on this journey together, as we’ve got stories to share, issues to unpack, pages to fill. But let us also resist culture’s ever-increasing lure to be disrespectful to the different… 

For the record, there’s no hope in that. No peace nor good either.

Respectfully…

AR

here comes the judge

As the story is told there were many splendid trees in the garden, and we were free to eat of all except one. As a species we have never been good with limitations. Why did Wisdom say not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? What happens when we begin to sort people, places, and things into the boxes of good and evil? We set ourselves up as the adjudicators of right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable.

I remember when we decided we wanted to start our journey into parenthood. When I shared the decision with my mother, her immediate response was that I would have to stop working and stay at home. My response was given that two paychecks were becoming necessary to thrive in this world, quitting wasn’t an option and being a bread winner in addition to a parent was my only option. Once the baby arrived, my priorities changed. I couldn’t imagine going back to my job until I had secured someone whom I trusted to watch my daughter. I stayed home the school year my daughter was born, found a sitter and returned to work. But I felt torn in two. I cared about being a teacher, but I never felt happy dropping my daughter off while I went to work. When I found out I was expecting our second child, I decided to step off the cliff of uncertain financial stability to become a stay-at-home mom. Who was right? My mom? Me? What if both or neither of us was right?

Why do we feel the need to be right? The need to judge? The need to be the arbiter of truth? The judge of just and unjust? How many times a day do we form an opinion? And why do we so desperately cling to our opinions? Why do we state our choices as fact rather than preference? Why do we show no mercy when people make mistakes? Why do we not allow others to change their minds or allow them to change their opinions? Why do we insist that people be normal, that they adapt to us, that they change who they are so that we may remain comfortable in our assumptions? Growth depends on our willingness to be teachable. When we define others according to our judgment, we close ourselves off to all other possibilities. We seal the coffin so to speak on others and on ourselves. When we judge others and new ideas, we see the world in binary terms. The problem with black and white thinking is that we leave no room for shades of gray. There is only good (my way) and bad (the highway)…

… Black/White… Young/Old… Conservative/Liberal… Gay/Straight… Breastfeed/Bottle… Abled/Disabled… Protest/Silence… Short/Long… Hard worker/Lazy… Easy life/Hard life… College/Trade School… Mentally well/Mentally ill… Rich/Poor… Married/Unwed… Choosers/Beggars… Native/Immigrant… Citizen/Undocumented… Technology is a tool/Technology is a curse… Buy/Adopt… Educated/Uneducated… Prolife/Prochoice… No children/Many children… Forward thinking/Backward thinking… Progressive/Traditional… Back the Blue/Black Lives Matter… Christian/Non-Christian… Tough/Fragile… Healthy/Chronically Ill… Bless/Curse… Go to School/Home school… Permissive/Strict… On time/Late… Too slow/Too fast… Insiders/Outsiders… Buyers/Renters… Believers/Unbelievers… Private/Public… Skinny/Fat… Tall/Short… Guilty/Innocent… Segregation/Desegregation… Regular Ed/Special Ed… Millennials/Boomers… Masculine/Feminine… Threatening/Non-threatening…

The list goes on forever. 

Sometimes labeling and sorting is good. We know what happens when you try to wash reds with whites or put easy to shrink fabrics in the dryer. Outside the laundry room, sorting and labeling can get us in trouble. The next time I catch myself sorting and labeling people, I need to pause and reflect why I feel the need to label one side or the other as wrong or right. We make so many mistakes when we label. Part of loving another is allowing them to be different. Different is sometimes exhilarating, and sometimes scary. Let’s put down that fruit we were never meant to eat and allow others to be free to make their own choices. We are free to be you and me. We are not limited to binary decisions. Try both/and rather than either/or. Minds like parachutes work better when open. 

Last year I wrote about the need to let go of thoughts and patterns of behavior that no longer served me well. We must ask ourselves if labeling and sorting people is serving ourselves and others well. If it’s not, then we may want to consider letting that practice go.

Respectfully…

AT

the corner

One of my favorite movies of all time is “Rocky IV” — the best Rocky movie. Rocky takes down the machine that is Ivan Drago…

I’m not going to lie — I love most boxing or fighting movies. I love the underdogs, the comeback kids, the blue collar tough guys… I love it all. If we pay close enough attention, I think we can learn a thing or two from them. 

In a boxing match there are many factors that come into play, but often overlooked is “the corner.” The corner is a designated corner of the ring where the fighter rests between rounds. While much happens in the corner, I want to highlight three key things that take place. The fighter gets coaching advice, their wounds are examined, and finally, they are reminded why they are fighting. 

You’re in a fight. You need a corner. 

We all know what it’s like to be knocked down. If we’re honest, most of us also know what it’s like to not want to get back up. That’s what is so important about the corner. The corner has the ability to make or break a fight, because sometimes in a fight, it’s not about who’s in front of you — it’s about who’s behind you. The people in your corner are the people you take into the fight. They see the action up close and personal. 

Coaching Advice 

When the fighter gets to his corner, their coach or trainer has opportunity to talk with them. The trainers are normally older and definitely wiser. They’ve been here before; they’ve fought their own fights; and now they help others fight their own. The coaches see the fight outside of the chaos. When a fight is going on, it’s near impossible for the fighter to think about everything they’ve ever learned and not get punched in the face at the same time. During the fight, you can’t think; you just do and react. This is why coaching helps mid-fight. You need someone you can actually hear amidst the chaos. You know those people you know simply by hearing their voice? Your coach must be one of them. 

One of the most important things a fighter can do during the fight is discern the difference between the corner and the crowd. The crowd is the loudest; it emulates the chaos that’s during the fight — full of varied voices, different opinions, and tons of views shouting all different things. The crowd distracts from the corner. You may have people in the crowd, people you love, people you care about; they probably care about you, too, but they’re not in the corner. The corner is reserved for a select few. A crowded corner can become just at jumbled as the crowd. The corner is for the people who are best fit for this fight — the fight at hand. It’s not for people who think the same, look the same, act the same, worship the same, all from the same neighborhood — none of that. They don’t always agree with each other. In fact, you may have a different strategy than the corner, but the reason they are there is because you know they can help you win. The focus has to be on the fight. Having people in your corner that should instead be in the crowd would distract from the fight. 

Wounds Examined

It may not happen in the first or second round, but fighters will get wounded; it comes with the territory. Many times in fighting it’s a cut above or below the eye on the cheek, but it’s important to have it examined, stop the bleeding, and ensure the fighter’s eyes aren’t swollen. If the tissue around the eye swells, it can hinder the vision of the fighter. 

Bruised, bloody, and now blinded… 

I think this is how a lot of people feel in their own personal fight. They can get so beat up that if they get to their corner and don’t have anyone there to be authentic with, anyone they can bleed in front of, anyone there who can see the ugliness in/on them, it leads to many of us trying to fight when we’re actually falling apart. This is a result of an empty corner. Fighting is hard enough on its own; you don’t need to do it alone. 

Reminded Why 

Fighting alone is the easiest way to lose a fight. Not because you don’t have coaching, or because you may not get your wounds examined, but because there is going to be a moment or maybe ten, when you’re going to need to be reminded why. Most professional fighters fight for money, Rocky fought Ivan Drago to avenge the death of his best friend, Apollo. So… why are you fighting?

I mentioned earlier that we all know what it’s like to be knocked down, and to not want to get back up. We all have tough rounds; no one gets through this fight called life without being knocked down. We all go through rounds where when we get to the corner, we sit down and have no desire to get back up. We have to remember why we’re fighting in the first place. There is a reason we’re fighting, and if we aren’t reminded of that we could find ourselves camping in the corner. You need reminded that the fight is yours to win and the only way we lose is if we don’t get back out there. 

Don’t fight alone.

Find the right people to be in your corner. 

Get back in the fight. 

Win. 

You have people in your corner, you’re not alone, and you have what it takes… Keep fighting. 

Respectfully…

DK

stuff

If asked to name a multi-billion industry today, what comes to mind? Probably Amazon, Starbucks, or McDonalds to name a few —  retail, coffee, or fast food. But would you have named one industry whose revenue in 2018 was over 38 billion dollars? Which one is that?  

It is the self-storage industry. In the beginning, units were for temporary use, but now we are told that 52% of the rentals are for a year or longer, and that 62% of those who rent storage space also have a garage, 32% have a basement, and who knows about attics? But the industry is still growing.

So, what motivates this love affair with “stuff”?  

Well, there are probably many rationales we use:

  • More makes me feel more successful.
  • Well, the Jones have it.
  • I might need it someday.
  • I can’t part with this treasure.
  • I’m saving it for the kids.

Any of the above sound familiar? You mean more is how we ‘measure “success”? When is “someday”? Emotional attachment? Take a picture. Have you asked your kids what they really want? 

Seriously, have you ever watched “Storage Wars,” a successful TV show which annually auctions off the contents of storage units, the contents of which were stored for all the above reasons, but were apparently forgotten, neglected, or abandoned?

Now the relevancy of the above thoughts transitions me to a more difficult topic, the non-material “stuff” we hold on to, that which we keep in our personal “storage units.”  Things like:

  • They hurt my feelings.
  • He let me down.
  • She did not meet my expectations.
  • I don’t forgive.
  • They are all alike. 

We could add worry and fear to the list, but the common denominator is the hostility, anger, and bias that we rationalize and justify holding on to. You say. “Well, at least I don’t pay rent on my personal “storage unit!” Really? Maybe not in dollars, but certainly in effort and peace of mind.  It takes work to “nurse and rehearse” these attitudes. Nelson Mandela reminded us of this with his “…drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Yes, there is a cost… missing out on relationships and experiences, wasted energy, deaf and blind to the joys that would enrich us. More importantly, the cost makes us less capable of being who we were created to be. Our growth is negated physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Now any suggestions if we plead guilty? Well, avoid being on “Storage Wars,” and call a Habitat for Humanity store or give to a needy family. Probably tougher is to do an honest audit of what we are storing mentally whatever the reason, for none of them are good enough to maintain. They are all detrimental to our health and well-being. Get rid of them! Just let it go!

The result is truly liberating. So maybe, just maybe, it would be smart to empty both storage units!

Respectfully…

DL

what else don’t I know?

Very recently a friend of mine who I worked with a few years ago posted a question on one of the social media platforms. His question was prefaced by saying he had not heard of Juneteenth until recently. The question posed was a simple innocent question from someone who had not been exposed to a lot of other cultures outside of his Northern California upbringing. According to Juneteenth.com website: 

“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.”

More important is the fact that for 155 years this has been quietly celebrated by many in the black community in the US. Almost as important is that many in other communities knew very little if any at all that this celebration existed. In 1965, the late Senator Patrick Moynihan sent a report to the Johnson (LBJ) Administration, the very first comprehensive look that other societies other than black societies had a chance to look into the proverbial windows of black America. Many blacks already had a window into white America because they worked in the homes and businesses of the majority white America. It was a one-way mirror for many years — so most whites were slightly enlightened as to how things were on the sometime literal side of the tracks. 

Since that report 55 years ago, little has been done to put together an in-depth report on the 2 societies. Surely many things have changed. I would state that most have been for the good —some not so good. One of the most significant things is that there are more biracial relationships across America. The relationships are not just white and black, but Spanish, Asian, Native American. There have been many enlightening moments for our society such as having our first biracial President Barack Obama and the Loving v. Virginia US Supreme Court Ruling in 1967 which invalidated any laws governing biracial marriages. My starting conversation with my former colleague on his social posting prompted me to ask myself, “If many did not know this about Juneteenth, what else don’t we know about each other?” We live side-by-side with many colors, religion and cultures and yet we know very little outside of our own self-made bubbles. I want to attempt to let you know some of the things I’ve learned about other cultures in my adult life and challenge you to do the same…

About 10 years ago I worked with a man who was born in Kenya but is of Indian/Hindu descent. He enlightened me about his family’s celebration of Diwali. Diwali is celebrated through October and November. It is their festival of lights. This festive celebration shows the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil. We have celebrated several other Indian holidays at his house. Let’s just say many delicious curry dishes have been consumed with them — all, I might add, were vegetarian. Correspondingly, he has visited and celebrated with my family and our foods. If I forgot to mention, I was originally born in Jamaica in the Caribbean, a point I believe is germane to this essay. I believe a lot of my fascination with other cultures is because I am from another culture. My wife likes to say I’m from another time as well. She might very well be right. 

When I moved to the State of Nevada in 1996, all I knew about the LDS church was that they were Mormons. My only exposure to this culture was limited to seeing their Book of Mormon in some hotels across the country. I also enjoyed watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their presentation of Handel’s Messiah every Christmas and Easter season. Outside of these two references, I had no more until I started working with some LDS members in the late 90’s. Some of the myths that the larger society believes — such as polygamy, for example — are no longer practiced. They are very much Christians who have what they describe as additional teachings. Just as the Old Testament brought new teachings, their Book of Mormon gives continued dialog about Jesus. I have also found out it is better to refer to them as LDS (Latter Day Saints) rather than the term, “Mormons.” Also, they are super family and community oriented. I am not ready to convert, but I can see how someone could be attracted to this group. 

My overall point in this essay is to stimulate curiosity rather than adversity, enlightenment vs. condemnation. Our motto from the Latin of E Pluribus Unum — or “Out of Many, One” —  should be what stimulates us to embrace our differences and build on the similarities we share. The more I learn and know, the more I realize how much I don’t know. 

How about you ? Are you willing to explore?

Respectfully…

DG