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The hypocrisy of it all

if-ignorance-is-bliss1We live in a country that thrives in the unknown. Not only is it not fashionable to truly be in the know, but ignorance is celebrated.

We vote with very little knowledge. We make purchases with limited Intel and we date and get close to people we just met.

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We are far too trusting and then will be the first to cry foul when something happens. For example, when someone you never met contacts you and says they are your grandchild and they are in trouble and need you to send money. Then they tell you not to tell their parents. This is the latest scam on seniors. Or my favorite, there is a prince in a foreign country that promises you millions to help them out with thousands — this only works in the land of the greedy.

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Then we have the protests.

How do you protest the rights of giraffes being hunted and killed, but say nothing when an unarmed black man is killed by police?

How do you protect animal rights but care less about how cows, pigs and chickens are doped up and slaughtered in America?

How do you protest pedophilia here in the states but ignore the fact that our military is helping foreign governments who allow the prosecution of kids? (i.e. 10 year old boys in Afghanistan called Bacha Bazi).

We are extremely naive with many things. Our latest craze is DNA kits. When this science became affordable to the masses I imagined our government using it to reassure if those accused of rape really did it. We could now be far more sure than ever before with DNA testing but instead we are marketing it to people with apparently too much time on their hands. All of these people who have a heritage are interested now in knowing more about their heritage. But never was it important to them to make sure accurate records were kept on slaves or that blacks could be reattached to their heritage because slavery was so brutal. I mean if our heritage is that important wouldn’t we want everyone to know about their own?

Whatever you feel about President Donald J Trump, history teaches us that he is not even in the top 10 of the worst presidents. But what is worse is that most Americans cannot name the worst 5 presidents we have had. Then of course it depends on your preference.

The end of slavery was promised after the revolutionary war. The first man to die for the flag was a black man (Crispus Attucks). The first 10 presidents had no lobbyists to fight with and were of the most educated in the land but none of them thought to make good on that promise.

Bank CEOs crash our market and destroy our economy and they get a bailout in return — thanks Obama! The exact same thing happens in Iceland and all the CEOs involved go to jail! Our country has fought to ensure slaves do get reparations for the crimes America has carried out against them, but holocaust survivors get reparations right now along with the Native Americans.

This sad commentary should make us think about the things we protest. It should make us examine ourselves before we join a protest of a double standard. Or will we just allow ignorance to be bliss?

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What’s your obsession?

Obsession is broadly defined as a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling. Don’t get this confused with a preoccupation with a reasonable idea.

If your son plays basketball 24/7, sleeps with his basketball and dreams about playing even when he is not. And of course your son happens to be 7’1, this is reasonable. If he is 5’2, it’s probably unreasonable.

Because we don’t want to smash anyone else’s dream we avoid commenting. So we allow people who haven’t had any college experience say they want to be a superintendent of a school district — they have no plans to go back to school.

We have people who can barely sing hang on to the dream of being a singer. We put up with pastors in pulpits that have no oratory ability nor knowledge of scripture but they want to preach.

When a teenager who is failing math wants to be an engineer or a student who is failing science wanting to be a doctor, we smile and think it’s cute.

Honesty is still the best policy.

One of the things that we loved about American Idol was Simon Cowell because he could be brutally honest about what he saw and heard. So we watched each week to enjoy the talent but hear what Simon thought about the act.

Can you imagine throwing your life away on an obsession? I mean just think about an obsession that takes you into your 40s with no return on the investment. Many people followed your dream knowing that it was not going to happen but hoping that it might — this is a very tragic fate.

Broken lives collide with reality and in the rubble is a lost soul who had higher expectations than his talent could take him.

All types of mental health professionals offer diagnosis after the fact and everyone has an opinion, but in the end all you are left with is a broken heart and that damn obsession!

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When Superman isn’t super

We live in a society that props up certain individuals for their talent, wealth, success, looks and other attributes. There is a need to create superman because psychologically we need to know/see the best version of ourselves.

Many of us desire to either be superman or be his sidekick. We cherish this superman version of ourselves and it gives us hope.

Idols are created.

There was a choice involved in that creation and there was an obsession. When these “supermen” show that they are not so “super” we tend to forget who made them. We forget who elevated their gift to a god-like level and why. This never happens without coveteousness. Something to be had or obtained by the admirer that makes them blind to the dangers of idolizing mankind.

Once idolizing starts, abuse is imminent. The only thing necessary at this point for abuse is access. When access is granted, abuse is possible.

From the other direction, superman believes he is superman. He believes he can fly! He believes that the laws cannot contain him. He believes that his money and power will protect him. He believes his sins are forgiven. He hides behind his gifts and other idolaters stand ready to replace the former. Literally people are rushing toward abuse and with every victim, there is a new one in the back awaiting their turn to be abused.

Onlookers who are not caught up in that version of superman always want to judge. It’s easy for them to say, “how could they be so stupid!” “How could they not know?” “Who in their right mind would do that?!”

And it’s never that simple.

We underestimate our need to see and be the best version of ourselves. We struggle with the pursuit of success and we have been told to dream big and reach for the stars. In the hunt for that elite status we are able to minimize the warning signs. And then when we become a victim, we want others to be outraged with us. Then we seek great revenge and want to see the now debunked superman destroyed so we turn to social media.

The problem with social media is that just about everybody has an opinion and everybody has their own idol. The only way to stop this blood cycle of horror and eliminate the need to create a caped crusader is to recognize the one and only true superman — Jesus.

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Planning success

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With a strong gust of wind 2018 is leaving and as normal it seems that just yesterday we were trick or treating and now it’s the eve of the New Year.

With the New Year most of us are challenged by resolutions that normally die before Valentine’s Day of the new year. These were improvements of some kind that need to happen, but could not be conquered by our will power.

For some reason we could not quite get these resolutions to “stick” or work into our current schedules. But that did not mean that we didn’t need to lose the weight, eat more vegetables, get more sleep, save money, exercise or be nicer.

One of the things I have learned from living a half a century is that success is planned. There needs to be in most cases a road map and some other visual to get us there. We need a real plan that we can see unfold. The winner’s circle needs to be clearly noted and we need to create a victory dance.

We need to know who our cheerleaders are and where we can rest and get replenished. Most of our resolutions do not have such elaborate plans — but they need to.

To me, the best way to spend the last week of December is to head to Staples and collect poster boards and lots of colored markers. You need to create a war room in your home that has plastered on the walls several poster boards that outline a new plan to be or do better for 2019.

I have set several goals in 4 different categories: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, Physical. The various goals cover exercises that start off very easy and gradually build over the course of the year. For example, I have not worked out in 3 years so the first 3 weeks of the year, all I am required to do is break a sweat each day. I can do it anywhere I want but every 24 hours I must break a sweat. I can do more if I want but I must break a sweat during the first 21 days of 2019. It increases to breaking a sweat and then walking for 30 minutes, 3 days per week and I have just gradually added more activity every 3 weeks. By April I will be working out with a personal trainer but I have some very reachable goals to start.

Mentally I wanted to make sure my mind was stimulated daily which means that daily I will be reading. I will read for pleasure, education and stimulation. This does not include social media nor surfing the web. Right now I have planned to read 28 books for 2019. I will add to that. In 2018 I was supposed to read 48 books and I only read 33 of them but my goal of stimulating my mind was reached and I continued my enlightenment. I also watched 40 percent less TV in the evening and I believe I was less stressed in 2018 than 2017.

Daily meditation has been added back to my life and a plan for being debt free by Labor Day is also in the works.

I have been working on 2019 since December 1 and it has been a joy to do it. I am really looking forward to 2019 because of my recent plans. I even added meal prep this year which doesn’t begin until MLK weekend but I am excited about that. I have met several new friends that I’ll be working with and several friends have been purged, as those relationships proved to be unhealthy for me.

These plans can be as large and elaborate or very small and concise but either way you owe yourself a change and no one else is supposed to make that happen but you.

So don’t ring in the new year without a plan. Make positive changes for a better you! You deserve it!

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For the sake of old times . . .

Some time in the late 1700s a poem was composed about friendship. It started in Scotland and has been sung all over the English-speaking countries for centuries.

We know the song as Auld Lang Syne and all though the words may escape most, its rhetorical opening and folk lore melody is very familiar.

This song is not just used to close out the old year, but at funerals, weddings or any occasion that signifies an ending and a new beginning.

It is always good to go into a new year knowing who your friends are.

You can make all the plans you want, but when there is no one there to share, tell, laugh, cry or whatever you need to do with, it doesn’t matter.

As the new year brings to light gleanings of a better version of ourselves, it would be equally important if we examine the type of friend we have been.

Do you know why your “best friend” likes you? Are you proud of this reason? Have you every betrayed a friend? Are you a person worthy of friendship? Do you really know what it means to be a good friend?

Life is not worth living if our interactions with one another don’t move us to desire to be better. Great character, integrity and scholarship mean nothing without good people around to share in it.

Friendship is always a pleasant, safe space you enter into with another human and through this union you are able to exchange energy, share thoughts, strengthen each other and have fun. There are rules which are not written. Loyalties that should never have to be spoken and feelings that synchronize through sharing.

You should never have to utter the words, “I thought we were friends?” There are some people from 2018 who are definitely needed in the New Year and there are some from 2018 who are not — do you know the difference?

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The Psychology of Waiting

Heinz ketchup had this series of commercials back in the day that showed someone holding the bottle and their ketchup slowly coming out and the music would start playing and you would hear a group singing the word anticipation in a syncopated rhythm. It would be over a hamburger, hotdog or fries and I have to admit, it was very effective. You got the idea that this ketchup was thick and rich and definitely worth waiting for. It also said that you don’t eat this type of food without Heintz ketchup.

Life is full of waiting. It is said that the average person throughout their lifetime spends five years waiting in lines and queues where roughly six months of that is waiting at traffic lights. Yikes!! That’s a lot of waiting. But what would be harder to calculate is how much of the waiting was beneficial or a waste of time.

Is waiting 2 hours for a 7 minute rollercoaster ride worth it? Or how about waiting 24 hours to buy tickets to see your favorite musical group? Or what about 12 hours in the cold for a “Black Friday” deal?

There are some people right now waiting on a marriage proposal; waiting on someone in hospice to die; waiting on results from tests; waiting to hear back from a job interview; or waiting for military personnel to come home.

Probably the greatest wait of our lives would be the times where we find ourselves between a tragedy and a triumph. All you can do is wait. And in that time period where the news reports that the earthquake, hurricane or open shooter is in the direct area of your loved one and you are trying to find out how bad this outcome is for your family. Will we be planning a funeral soon or did I have nothing to worry about. But all you can do is wait. So the logical question is what do we do during the space between a tragedy and a triumph?

Some pray but is God really intervening in issues like this? How do we know? What if this tragedy is the time your loved one was supposed to die? Do we believe God is extending time for some folks? Or others meditate which does nothing for the person in the storm but helps with the waiting. Others worry themselves sick only to find out there was nothing to worry about. Still others become so angry because waiting gives us a cold slap in the face to remind us that we are NOT in control. Waiting helps to develop patience, trust and character. And there are those times when waiting just flat out sucks!

So when you are waiting, spend more time seeing what lessons are in the act of waiting that address your issues. Are you a control freak? Well this may be your lesson in patience. Are you selfish or self serving? Waiting is your way of giving back. Or do you go 100 miles an hour all day for others to the point where you are not taking care of yourself? This may be your time to slow it down and see what you have missed. Whatever the case, waiting is one of life’s favorite venues to teach. Don’t miss your lesson. Embrace the wait!

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Everyone needs a good purge

The movie series called The Purge was basically about organizing what is naturally happening in America anyway and that is hurt people are hurting people.

Our laws are not a deterrent for crimes and the threat of prison never stopped anyone — just ask the million of folks incarcerated in the U.S.

So does it matter whether it naturally happens or whether it is orchestrated by the government? The movie has the government organizing it and selecting a day that allows crimes to go unpunished. I am not advocating that.

But what I am saying is there is nothing wrong with the concept of purging. If we viewed are individual selves as systems, then all I’m saying is that it matters who you allow in your system. If someone or something is bad for the system then it has to be purged.

Preachers advocate for Christians to purge anyone detrimental to your spiritual growth. Doctors advocate for patients to purge foods that are not healthy for their bodies. Therapists recommend their clients to purge people who mentally and emotionally are unstable and who bring that instability to their system.

You can eat something that is so disagreeable to your system that your stomach will purge it out so this is the natural order of things– right?

So let me be clear: For the sake of your holistic well-being you must purge on ever level of you life every single year!

There are people, places, things and ideas that have proven to be toxic for you. Why have you not purged? How will you ever heal if the catalyst for your pain and sorrow continues to exist in your life?

The best made plans of 2018 have been ruined by those who would rather destroy your life instead of improve theirs. The upkeep of your system is mandatory! The players you allow into your system are optional. Some things need to be dropped like a bad habit. Start making your list, planning your exit strategy and sharpening the shears! Dead weight needs to be cut away so that you can start to soar!

Happy purging!!!