It’s Time Americans Became Americans Again

I’m old enough to remember a time when Americans fought for each other. Our common good, far outweighed our differences and the unity of “We The People,” was our guiding light.

Sadly, today, it seems as though we let our differences over-shadow our similarities and common goals. My fear is that we have gone so far past everything that makes us who we claim to be that we will never again be the UNITED States of America.

It’s like we are all so quick to judge each other by our differences that we don’t take time to explore our similarities anymore. I once heard a Pastor say “if we concentrate on the 98% of things we agree on, the other 2% will work itself out.” I believe those words to be true.

Wouldn’t it be great if we found a way to celebrate our similarities over hating our neighbors over our differences?

I think there are many issues that have caused us to slip to a place where we would rather argue than get along. Social media, the news media, leaders who don’t lead (from BOTH parties), but more than anything else I am firmly convinced it is our collective apathy.

For too many years, we have allowed our leaders and media to get away with 1/2 truths, inaction and a desire for power over a desire to find common ground and do what is best for America. We have sat back and done nothing, and now, we find ourselves in a war with each other.

Instead of working together to compromise we are all so entrenched in what we believe to be true that we won’t even allow a conversation if our “opposition” has an infinitesimal disagreement with where we stand.

If we are ever to be that “shining city on a hill” that Ronald Reagan once called us to be, it’s time we got back to being what America is all about.

In a country where both sides now espouse their patriotism and denigrate the other side, maybe each side could learn some lessons from the other.

In a country where some see our past as history that should be celebrated and others see it as hurtful, maybe a mature conversation where both sides of the argument are listened to would be helpful.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time “we the people” started acting like it.

America has gone through difficulties since we were founded, but TOGETHER we have always gotten through them, I hope we are still that America. I pray, that we concentrate on the TOGETHER before it is too late.

It’s time we grow up, start having mature and honest conversations WITH each other instead of AT each other. We will always have differences, but aren’t the 98% of our similarities more important to our combined future than the 2% that is now tearing us apart?

It’s time we started acting like Americans again….. ALL OF US!

2020 – Coming Into Focus

a5649117efe5e16222a72001a4b11a73As I write this, we are just hours from a new year, a new decade.

With the dawn of a new year, comes the opportunity to look back on what has come before and to look ahead to the endless possibilities just around the corner.

Like most of you, the past year was a mixed bag, I had highs and lows, some of them had a greater impact than others.  Some of my own creation and some that I had no control over, that’s life, it will happen again in 2020 and every year that we are blessed to walk this earth.

What I have learned through the years is, I can’t always control the situation, but I can control how I react.  For 2020, my hope is that I don’t sweat the small stuff, but concentrate on the things that matter, the things that will have impact on my life and those around me.

I pray that I never lose my sense of adventure, to dream big and step into new challenges.  Some of my best decisions have been those cockamamie choices I have made that from the outside make no sense, but in my heart are the only viable direction.

For our nation, I pray that we never forget who we are, we are America, the greatest nation to ever inhabit this planet, a nation that provides hope and opportunity to anyone willing to invest in the American dream.

Moving into 2020, my greatest fear is for our country.  We have become a polarized nation unwilling to work together for the common good.  I pray that this year, we think more before we react, we learn to look beyond our own interests and to what is best for all and I pray that above all else we learn to work together once again, our nation’s future depends on it.

I pray that our world finds long-lasting and true peace.

For each of you, I pray that your dreams will come true in 2020.  I hope that all of your goals and aspirations fall into place and that your days are filled with love, laughter and health.

Above all else, for 2020, I pray that we all find grace, hope and community. I pray that we overcome the hard times with the help of others and that we celebrate our joys together.

For 2020, I will pray for you all and ask the same in return.  For 2020, my goal is to be a little kinder, a bit more joyful, more present and understanding…. for 2020, my goal is simple, just to try and be a bit better every day.

Happy New Year friends, may God bless you in 2020!

Let Spicey Dance.

So, I was reading this morning where people are calling for a boycott of this season’s Dancing with the Stars because former White House Spokesman, Sean Spicer is one of the contestants.  REALLY?  Come on people don’t we have more important things to worry about than this?

I mean the real travesty here is that we have now gone through 28 seasons of a show and they actually call these people stars.  But that’s not the purpose of this post, I digress.

At some point we as Americans have got to stop getting butt-hurt over silliness like this.  The political left preaches inclusiveness, that is until someone who disagrees with them speaks out or gets recognized or God forbid dances on a silly TV show.

It’s all good and nice to tout how inclusive you are, but if you are going to talk the talk, at some point you have to walk the walk and understand not everyone sees things the same way you do….. and either accept it or get over it but stop the cry-baby crap and move on!

If we as Americans are going to really be inclusive, we have got to start accepting differing viewpoints, it doesn’t always have to be our way or no way.  That isn’t what our country was built on, but it certainly is what our country is being torn apart by.

And you folks on the right, don’t get all puffed chest because I called out the left on this one.  You are just as bad, you will boycott a brand, burn an album and turn your back on one of your own so fast it will make one’s head swim.  All it takes is a simple disagreement with what you believe at the moment and BAM, they are dead to you.  (Ironically, sometimes the folks you turn against really are dead.)

Do we not all see the lunacy of this?  We have become a nation of butt-hurt folks walking around just looking to be offended by the next person who speaks out, has a differing opinion or heaven forbid straps on a pair of dancing shoes.

It’s time we started acting like Americans again, not political parties.  Grow up, understand that we are at our best when we work together and LISTEN to each other.

There isn’t anything wrong with having a difference of opinion, what IS wrong is when we won’t even allow the other side to express it.  Who know’s maybe if we listened more and got offended less we might all find solutions to the issues in our world that really matter.

And that my friends is the end of my tantrum…. y’all go back to pouting now!

Bye Nike.

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I usually stay out of the political debate, except with those I am closest to.  I find I am not going to change anyone’s mind and mine is rarely changed on an issue, through debate with people I don’t know.

With that said, here I go.

Nike, I gave you the benefit of the doubt when you hired Colin Kaepernick as a spokesman.  Our views about America, our history and respect for the greatest democracy in human history don’t align, but it is your right to hire whomever you want. Afterall, he isn’t the first washed up athlete to be given a second career hocking tennis shoes and work-out apparel.

I didn’t get rid of any of my Nike, I just didn’t buy anymore.  If I wanted to throw on a hoodie or pair of socks with the familiar “swoosh” on it, I did.

That changed this week, when you decided that Kaepernick’s hurt feelings were more important than the first flag that flew as a sign of Independence for the greatest country in the history of man.

The same flag that flew over America that allowed Mr. Kaepernick to get his feelings hurt over a tennis shoe design.

I understand that there are parts of the history of our country that are shameful, but to try and erase the parts of our history that has led up to the progress we see in America today is just plain stupid.

Nike has decided that the voice of a multi-million-dollar endorsement hack is worth more than the history of our county, they have the right to support their spokesman, and I also have the right not to buy their crap.

I realize I’m not the target market for Nike, that’s cool, I just hope that for the sake of the brand, the bed wetting snowflakes who get offended by a tennis shoe design will be able to give the brand the longevity that the object of Mr. Kaepernick’s hurt feelings have given.

As a business owner, I try not to piss off anyone (except the University of Alabama and the Florida Gators, I hate them both and they can be pissed off), I may not like what you want on a t-shirt, but I’m not going to turn your business away because we have differing viewpoints, it’s just not good business.  Nike on the other hand has chosen to piss off millions of Americans by allowing an overpaid past his prime athlete to get his feelings hurt over a shoe that celebrates the history of our country.

Mr. Kaepernick obviously has issues with the United States of America, maybe he should run over to North Korea or Russia and see what they think of his “hurt feelings.”

I love my country; I love what it stands for and I even love that idiots like Nike and Kaepernick can raise their voices in dissent.  What I don’t love is people trying to erase the history of America that has brought us to where we are today.

When you erase the ugly parts of our history, people forget, and we are more apt to repeat the mistakes of the past.  We still haven’t succeeded in getting to that “more perfect union,” but we are a hell of a lot closer than we used to be.

Mr. Kaepernick is entitled to his hurt feelings; Nike is entitled to turn their backs on millions of potential customers, and I am entitled to walk away from the brand.

But what they are NOT entitled to do is erase the history of America, the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

MY Methodist Church

I was not born into the Methodist Church.  As a young man, I CHOSE the Methodist Church, when I saw a congregation in Atlanta, GA, step outside their doors and offer a cup of water to a community that was searching.

This simple act of love happened when the Gay Pride Parade in Atlanta was passing the front doors of this congregation and instead of turning their backs on a community they didn’t understand, they stood on the sidewalk and offered water to those who passed.

That one act, an act of friendship brought me to the Methodist Church.

A young man in my 20’s, I was searching.  I was searching for a way to continue the faith that I had learned as a child, but with a new understanding of who I was, I was also seeking a congregation that would not judge me for who God made me.

I found that love and compassion at St. Mark United Methodist Church.

In my 30’s I moved to south-Florida.  Wanting to continue my faith walk, I sought out a Church that would continue to love and accept me.  I found that love, understanding and friendship at the United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches.

While living in south-Florida, I met and became friends with the Pastor.  In a candid and loving conversation, he told me one day that he did not understand my sexuality, but he loved me and would walk BESIDE me through life, that promise continues today.

After my pastor was reassigned to another congregation, I was embraced by my first female pastor, a friend who became a confidant, the person I needed to speak with more than anyone else on the morning my mom died. A pastor who exemplifies the love of Christ with all she encounters.

As a member of the Methodist Church, I have been blessed to gain friendships that will follow me until my last days on earth.  As a member of the Methodist Church, I have grown in my walk with Christ and as a Methodist I found a home.

It all started with a simple act of kindness.

Today, as a middle-aged man, I grieve at the thought that this same compassion may not be offered to our next generation of Methodist leaders and congregants.

I never imagined that my faith-walk could one day split a church, that my desire to know God and live a life that was honoring to Him could ever be considered so abhorrent to some that we would turn our backs on others who simply wanted to live their lives in honor to God.

Acceptance, love, compassion, those are all words that I have known from the Methodist Church I chose.  It saddens me that those cornerstones of the religion may be torn apart, by a simple vote, one that can change lives forever.

If we the Church are to fulfill the mission of Wesley and the teachings of Christ, everyone must be welcome, everyone must be honored and everyone must have a place at the table.

This week, as the United Methodist Church Conference tackles these important issues, I pray that millions of us who have known the love of Christ through OUR church will continue to feel the welcome and a new generation of Christ seekers will find that the United Methodist Church is a place of love for all.

Will the United Methodist Church continue to offer a cup of water to the thirsty, will they honor the teachings of Christ?