Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Change, current events, History, Justice, Patriotism, Politics, Taking Responsibility, Uncategorized, Working together

Forever chasing nothing

As a nation, we pride ourselves as being an advanced culture with highly intelligent people and as having the best of everything — pound for pound — the world has to offer. Sadly, I struggle to find anything we do as signficant to mankind.

Now this is not a bash America blog! I used to say I love America but like many I could not tell you why. It was my only frame of reference so I loved what I knew. I assumed that people in government were looking out for the little man — looking out as defined as making laws and provisions for the little man to grow and develop into something more, not throw him a bone and keep him dumb.

There was a study done in the 90s with 21k people across 7 nations to test there literacy. The study covered more than 30 tasks over a 45 minute span. The test takers were between the ages of 16 to 25 and the specific items on the test dealt with reading comprehension, following directions, reading maps, completing job applications etc. — things you would need to function and thrive in every day life. The results were astonishing (see table below). There were level grades from 1 to 5 where a 4 or 5 was pretty high functioning and of course a 1 was struggling. Sweden’s population of that age group were the brightest with more than 40 percent functioning at the highest levels. Only 18 percent of Americans at that age range preformed as well as the Swedes.

What does that mean you ask? Well other than the obvious, it seems that the study has also proven that higher functioning was related to higher wages. When France talks about job creation and the US talks about it, those are two totally different conversations. France is only talking about a living wage where you can take care of a family with a modest living. In the US, we say a job is a job — better than not having one.

Today we are in a literacy crisis. No one should be surprised about this but I don’t think we understand the effects.

 

  • More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or complete basic math above a third-grade level. —  Proliteracy
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. — National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  • 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. — Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
  • Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs. — American Journal of Public Health

Our problem: Politics. We constantly elect people who can not relate to the problems of the average American and they could care less about those problems. It doesn’t even matter what political party you belong to — both parties have failed the little man.

It seems that we have disfellowshipped the word demand because we don’t demand anything — nothing of ourselves and nothing from those who rule the world. So we sit and take it — you live your life paycheck to paycheck and die in a sea of debt. In our country they tell you that you have the right to pursue happiness, they just forgot to tell you it was nearly impossible to catch.

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Beauty, Books, Change, Giving, Greed, Happiness, History, Iraq War, Life, Love, Opinions, Pain, Patriotism, Politics, Sharing, society, Taking Responsibility, Truth

Lessons confirmed in 2012

20130104-234856.jpgIf you are reading this blog, then once again there were foolish folks that believed the world ended a few weeks ago. We should all be thankful we made it out of 2012.

I have to say that I didn’t learn any “new” lessons, but I definitely confirmed some lessons I thought I knew. It’s always good to recap the previous year so that the next year is better. Each year we’re supposed to get better. Life is supposed to get easier. After all we matured didn’t we?

Well, I hope that you are enjoying the new year and you are already working your plan of action to make 2013 better than 2012. With that said, here are the top 5 things I confirmed in 2012. I’d love to hear about your list.

1) Read more non-fiction books and watch less TV! This one is a no-brainer. TV is run by corporate America and it is designed for one thing: To get you to buy the ads you see. There is science that supports the ability for ads to reach your subconscious mind. Your spending habits are linked to this. Now before you go thinking that I’m crazy, there is a company called NeuroFocus and they probe consumers subconscious by using Electroencephalography (I’m not smart enough to make up a word like this). The other problem with TV other than being a big waste of time is how your body handles your emotional reactions to shows. For example, whenever you get angry, your blood pressure rises and your arteries take a hit especially among older groups. So when you get so into a character on a show and their actions make you angry, your body doesn’t say, “Oh, you’re just watching TV.” Since your body can’t tell the difference, it handles that situation as if you were really angry.

2) Life is too short so to maximize your time you should spend time letting the people close to you know how important they are to you. Your circle of trust should know who they are. Your family should know they are loved because they heard you say it as well as demonstrate it. You should make sure you are living forgiven meaning that no one should die thinking you have a grudge with them or that you thought ill of them. Be known as a giver and allow others to benefit from your generosity — not just your money, but even more important is your time.

3) Get your house in order and keep it that way. This means that no matter how old you are the people close to you should know your advance directives and your wishes at end of life. We don’t know when our time is up, so it’s always a good thing — no matter how old you are — to have a plan and let those closest to you know what your plan is and the role they play in that plan. If you have done this, every year it’s a good idea to make sure it is current and your wishes are still the same. You want to make sure that the people involved in your plan at the end of life are still willing to carry out your wishes at the end.

4) Everyone needs a day of rest. God rested from his labors on the seventh day and he created us with the idea that we would need a break from the natural rhythm of life to reset. There is an awesome book written by Dr. Marva Dawn called “Keeping the Sabbath Holy” and she beautifully describes this concept and gives a lot of great information on the topic.

5) One of the most hurtful things is to have expectations for someone or something and get let down. It would help us all to remember that in America we make money. That’s what we do above all else. There are some secondary things that we do, but due to big business and politics, our system is flawed. Case in point: Sandy relief was recently left for the next session of congress because there was so much other stuff (like a new roof for the Smithsonian Institute) written into the bill. One would think that a bill with the subject Sandy Relief fund would only include things immediately related to people. I’m sure the Smithsonian probably does need a new roof, but at this point it is at the expense of the Sandy survivors. Our wars are about money and greed. There is an excellent documentary series by Oliver Stone on Showtime that talks about the untold history of the United States. It’s a sobering look at how the world sees and has seen our country over the years. This documentary has challenged me to re-evaluate what’s important to me and to help make America truly beautiful. Make the most of 2013 my friend!

Posted in Generosity, helping, Jesus Christ, Love, Patriotism, Resurrection

Would you dare to die?

I don’t know who first said it, but love is a strange thing. This is a very true saying and when you think of all the things that love was given credit to, you can see how powerful love really is. Love has been the cause of things good and bad. Love has been the cause of wars, suicide, divorce, murder, lies, stealing, cheating and betrayal. It has also been the strength of marriages, the changing of hard hearts to soft hearts and the resurrection of a nation.

Love is pretty powerful. So Veteran’s Day always makes me think of the sacrifices of our armed forces. I think about the fact that even though some soldier who died did not know me — heck, never met me. But he or she risked their very lives so I could feel safe. They didn’t just die for my country, but they died for me.

Jesus died for me in amuch similar fashion. He died so I wouldn’t have too. He fought the battle and shouldered the burden of sin in my stead. There was nothing about me that would make him do this. His death says far more about him than it does me. I believe this statement is true about our veterans.

The bible says: “6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:6-10 KJV).

Here’s the point, it is noteworthy that we have men and women filled with so much love that they would be willing to give their life in the ultimate sacrifice. What makes this sacrifice ultimate is that they walk in the footsteps of Jesus. It was the love that God had for us that he gave his son — this started it all.

I am thankful to all our service men and women who answered the call of patriotism and served or is serving our country faithfully. I honor you this week and you are worthy of this praise. God bless you and God bless the United States of America!

Posted in Accountability, Change, Opinions, Patriotism, Politics, Racism, society, Taking Responsibility, Voting

Something must be done about voter suppression

Wow! What an election!

I’m writing this blog hours before the final counts are in, but I wanted to put this idea out into the universe. Today it took me 2.5 hours to vote –that was the longest For me since I became eligible to vote. There were two precincts voting in one place and it was obvious that voter suppression was at play.

The city I live in is a metro area to Detroit. There are lots of townhomes, apartments, condos and houses in this area. Instead of dividing the two precincts in my area by addresses, congressional districts or even a Jedi using the force, someone decided that the homowners should vote in one precinct and everyone else in the other.

The result: homeowners could vote in less time than it takes to make a country breakfast. The other group might as well been standing in line for a roller coaster ride at cedar point on their busiest day! This was not just a divide by race (because there were some African-Americans disproportionate in each group) but financially as well.

As I stood in line I had this idea; what if before the election a proposal to impeach the Secretary of State was on the ballot in every state? So, if you didn’t like the way voting was arranged then you could do something about it immediately.

It’s as if minorities in America expect things to be unfair. We put up with all kinds of “stuff” assuming that we won’t get a fair shake in this country. I’m still wondering why voter suppression is not a federal offense punishable by mandatory jail time. Lol! I’m not wondering…I know why and so do you.

Voter suppression is as blatant now as it was when African-Americans were first given the right to vote. All of this is being done to “buy” our government. If “we the people” continue to lay down for these shenanigans then our government will be up for sale. If we sell our government into slavery, then doesn’t that make us all slaves?

Posted in Accountability, Patriotism, Politics, Taking Responsibility, Voting, Work

A month before the election and there’s nothing to get excited about

Don’t you just hate election season?

The worst of us comes out during this time. We actually get a glimpse at how divided our country really is. It’s sad that we are forced to choose sides.

The majority of the US is poor and hopeful that the election may change something in their favor. The wealthy are hoping for the same thing.

In our country we play with a lot of things, particularly terms. We will use a word that commonly means one thing, but we will give it another meaning. We even act as though all things are equal, when clearly they are not. For example, it bothers me every time a politician promises to create jobs. I often wonder what kind of jobs.

Even when they say the Obama administration has created X amount of jobs, what does that really mean? Is this a job that will allow a man to take care of his family or will the same man need three of these newly created jobs to do that?

Then the other party says, “His economic policies have failed us!” They want us to believe that they could have fixed every that happened during the Bush years. They say they would have created even more jobs. You know me, I then wonder what kind of jobs? No one ever talks about what kind of jobs. They just say jobs.

If you have been watching, I told you in the summer that this election would be the most expensive election in US history. And in the midst of the homeless and jobless, we will elect someone who will make more money being president than they did before they got the position. And they will make even more money when they exit the presidency than they made as president.

It’s October and I’m already tired of these ads. I don’t know about you, but this is depressing to me. Despite everything, please vote. Your voice will be heard. It’s one of our rights that people died for. It’s the least you could do.

It makes me long for the return of Jesus. Only he can make things fair.

Posted in Change, Free Will, God, Happiness, Justice, Life, Patriotism, Politics, Religious Freedom, Taking Responsibility

Memorial Day: A call for true patriotism

We have reached another Memorial Day weekend and with this being a presidential election year we really need to pray for the families of our fallen solders and our country.

We hear a lot these days about patriotism and we have been desensitized by politicians and the media to think that being patriotic means to be obedient to the state.

In these troubled times we have been discouraged from speaking out about our country’s debt being the result of wars we had no business participating in. Our economic crisis is the result of one thing only: Greed. Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Our greed has caused the death of many, homelessness, financial destruction, loss of dignity, self respect, worldwide shame and dishonor.

The media still hasn’t run a story about the few that benefited from our wars. I have yet to see the documentary that exposes the truth about the last 20 years of how our government has performed. The closest the media has come to this feat is a recent book by MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow called Drift. I highly recommend it. She created a wonderful history book that paints the complete picture of what happened during the administration of the last 10 or so presidents. It’s very interesting that the Revolutionary War was all about patriots fighting government abuse of the rights of the people. Back then, a 2 percent tax hike was TOO much.

In the 21st century, when do we reach too much?