One Nation…..

Usually when I sit down to write my Sunday post, I have an outline in my head about what I am going to write, that is not the case today.

I had planned on writing a light-hearted post about the Eclipse; unfortunately the circumstances of the last eight days does not allow me to do that.

For the last week I have battled myself as to whether or not I even wanted to write this post.  I try to stay non-political, but I know if I am going to be honest with myself and the people who honor me with reading what I write, I have to write this post…… if only I knew what to say.

I think like many of you, I have no idea how to even address the issues that face our nation when it comes to race, but why should we, our nation has battled this issue for the last 200 years and we still can’t get it right, so I am just going to jump in, share my thoughts and let them lie.

I have a feeling what I say won’t be popular with either side, but here goes, as I sit here in front of my keyboard I still don’t know what to say.

Like many of you I have been shocked by the comments and actions we have seen played out on our television screens over the last week.  How have we gotten the issue of race in America so wrong for over two centuries and we still don’t have any end in sight to what tears us apart as a nation?

I am a son of the South, I grew up in rural Georgia, moved to Atlanta after college and then on to south-Florida and back home again just two short years ago.

During my time on this earth I have been fortunate to live and work in some of the most vibrant multi-cultural cities in our nation.  Atlanta;  West Palm Beach, Florida;  Lake Park, Florida;  Orlando, Philadelphia, Richmond, Va and my home Clayton, GA.  In each and every one of these communities I have worked with, laughed with, cried with and loved people of all races.

I deplore racism on every front, but I deplore racism on ALL sides.  In my life I have found just as many white people as black people who disgust me in their actions and beliefs.

I am a white middle-aged man, I do not think I am better or worse than any other person on this planet.  I was taught to respect my fellow-man and honor them for the character they create, their actions and their work-ethic, not their past, their heritage or the political affiliation they identify with.

Some say, as a white man I have privilege, I don’t.  I have worked for everything I have ever gotten in my life and I am proud of the life I have built for myself through hard-work and dedication.

We have all seen racism and bigotry played out through the history of our nation, it’s despicable.  Allow me to relate two stories that happened to me during the 1980’s, both still disgust me today.

When I was in college one of my best friends was a black woman named Lisa.  We shared a Major and became friends through group projects, club affiliations and studies.

Our college was in a small town in south-Georgia.  One Saturday, Lisa and I were working on a project and needed to run into town to pick up some supplies.

As we walked down the Main Street of the town, a small group of KKK members were assembled in front of us.  Obviously Lisa was nervous, but steadfast that we needed to get where we were going.  We walked directly towards the small group of hate when one of the members of the group approached me and said “boy, what are you doing with that?”  THAT!?!?

I was with a young woman of grace, dignity and intelligence who was working towards a college degree, a young woman who would make an impact on the world.

While I wanted to share my feelings with this pig who had spewed his hate on us, I didn’t.  I didn’t because Lisa continued to look forward, stood tall and kept walking.  I learned a lesson that day, when hate is ignored it is silenced.

When we finished our errand, Lisa walked back towards the group, there were no comments thrown our way, only silenced haters by a young woman who showed what character is made of.

The second incident occurred in the late 80’s in Atlanta.  As the annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration was approaching, my friends Greg and David and I decided we would attend the parade to honor Dr. King and the vision of an America free of hate that he dreamed of.

On the day of the parade, the three of us boarded a MARTA train headed into downtown to participate in the festivities.

During the short train ride to the parade route we heard a few comments from others on the train, it was uncomfortable but we knew it would be OK once we got to Peachtree Street.

It wasn’t.

During that afternoon we were ridiculed and shouted at, it was made clear to us that three white guys were not welcome and instead of showing our support for Dr. King’s Dream, we left before the parade could even begin.

Certainly we all have stories we can relate regarding race, these are just two, but they exemplify the problem we have as a country…. BOTH sides have people who stand in their corner who do more damage than good, BOTH sides have a long way to move before we can truly be the UNITED States of America and BOTH sides need to listen and talk more than stepping up on their soapbox in an effort to prove their misguided point.

In my soul I know that these bigots, racists and hate groups are a very small minority, but let us be clear they stand on both sides of the argument.

President Donald Trump hurt the conversation this week with his comments, and as many of you, I was repulsed by what he said; however, if you are repulsed by the President’s comments and not equally repulsed when Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal publicly stated she hopes the President is assassinated you have a problem.

This week, Democratic House Leader, Nancy Pelosi said the statues of Confederates in the US Capitol have always been offensive and called on Speaker of the House Ryan to have them removed.

My question for Ms. Pelosi is, if they have ALWAYS been offensive why didn’t she call for their removal when she was Speaker of the House?

The hypocrisy of our elected leaders is offensive to the constituents they represent.  At some point we as Americans have to tackle this issue on our own and stop allowing the grand-standers who live off the public dole to set the agenda.  These elected individuals are not who should be changing the hearts and minds of Americans, that is our job, they should be working on creating jobs, the economy, our nation’s safety and stop trying to shirk their responsibilities as elected officials to govern.

There are those who now call for the removal of all Confederate monuments around the country, if and when they are removed what happens next?  Will we remove monuments of our Jewish leaders, Hispanic, Black, Gay, Italian, Christian, when we cover up our history we don’t have a chance to learn from the mistakes of the past and grow towards a more perfect union.

I have been blessed to know and love people of all races, creeds and sexual orientations.  I have known very few people in my life who are not accepting of others, because I choose not to allow that type of bigotry to infiltrate my life.

Thankfully I know our nation is filled with people like me, it’s now time we put the hate groups in the trash where they belong and work as a nation to stitch together this great divide created by a few.

Love always wins, it’s time we the majority, those who truly love our land and it’s people, prove it!

Life’s Playlist…. Vogue by Madonna

It’s Madonna’s birthday.

I had just entered college when Madonna hit the charts and she changed music and pop-culture on every level.

When she burst onto the scene, she did it with a brash, take no prisoners charge that captured the hearts and minds of a generation.

After hitting the charts with a number of songs, she then moved into movies and continued to shape world culture through fashion, music, acceptance and pushing the boundaries of what society expects.

While she has grown older, she continues to push the envelope of what it means to be a woman “of a certain age.”

In my opinion she sometimes pushes the envelope too far and it wouldn’t hurt her to move into a more subdued existence, but many people still love what she does and she now attracts audiences that would be the children and even grand-children of the fans who were originally drawn to her.

My favorite Madonna song is “Vogue,” I remember MANY nights of the dance-floor with friends striking a pose to the beat.

Happy Birthday Madonna, may you continue to influence and challenge.

 

 

The Last Best Hope of Earth……

Men and women throughout our history have told us that the United States is the greatest nation on Earth.  No country has, or will ever, stand for the freedoms and liberties that we as Americans take for granted every day.

We have also been told through history, that as great as our country is, the only way we will ever be defeated is from within, if we the American people take those freedoms and liberties for granted and tear apart our nation from the inside out.

Have we reached a point where our own internal prejudices have torn our nation apart?

For many years our prejudices have simmered just beneath the surface, prejudices from ALL sides of the political spectrum have now come to a boiling point and my fear is that we will not turn down the heat in time to save the greatest nation ever known to man.

Yesterday we saw the latest black eye on our nation played out on national television when white supremacist marched on a city to spread their hate.

The latest example of hate speech is part of a long line of recent events that should make us all evaluate our own beliefs and our feelings towards those who join us in the melting-pot that makes up the dream of America.

A long line of cities across our country have been affected by these moments of hate, Ferguson, South Central LA, Selma, Littleton and numerous others who dot the landscape of our map.  At what point do we as American’s realize that we don’t have to agree with everything our neighbor supports, but if we let our differences tear us apart we are no better than the terrorists who destroy our cities?

The blame for our present state lands squarely on all sides of the political spectrum.

When we describe ourselves as hyphenated Americans instead of Americans a bias is put forth that doesn’t move us forward but continues to separate us.

When we tear down the history of segments of our residents we then marginalize their history as “less than” instead of a time that we learned we could be better.

This morning, as I watched the talking heads on Meet the Press, one of the panelists tried to bring forward the point that there is blame on all sides of the conflicts. Unfortunately he was shouted down by his fellow panelists who only wanted it to be known that their beliefs were harmed and wouldn’t acknowledge their own sins against our nation.

This is the problem, we no longer talk, we shout.

We are at a point in our nation’s history where we can’t see the grey in a situation, it is either my way or no way and we would rather tear down the other side than discuss and learn from one another in a way that could enhance the lives of all Americans and not just those who hold our same beliefs.

When American citizens gather in the nation’s capital to boycott a newly elected President on his first day in office, you are the problem.

When a city burns because a segment of the population disagrees with a jury verdict, you are the problem.

When people attending a rally to remember their cultural past show up in military armament, carrying weapons and brass-knuckles, you are the problem.

When entertainers spew hate speech and write lyrics tearing down others, you are the problem.

When your newscast focuses on the hate filled rhetoric of a few, and make them the lead story, you are the problem.

And when you don’t speak out in opposition to all of the above EQUALLY, you are the problem!

Unfortunately, the “you” in all of this has become “we,”…. WE are the problem.

We are all the problem.  We have allowed those on the fringe of important issues in our society to overtake the conversation, we are the problem.

America was founded on the ideals that ALL are created equal, that ALL are entitled to  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But we were also founded with a RESPONSIBILITY to be part of the process, work hard and contribute.

Will it take our nation hitting rock bottom before we raise up these ideals and actually work towards the more perfect union?

I worry that in today’s society with the climate of hate that is so prevalent we could not come together when we need to and support the ideals of America.

Unfortunately in our pursuit of being proven right, we no longer honor the rights of others to share their beliefs as well.

America is in a time in our history that will either destroy us or raise us up and whichever way we go is up to us.

We can either choose the path of Al Sharpton, David Duke, Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, Kanye West and Rosie O’Donnell or we can be better.  We as a people can begin the conversation, we can honor the good in our neighbors and we can begin to live together as one America and turn our backs on the hyphenations that separate us.

It’s time that the melting pot of America unites and welcomes all; black, white, straight, gay, Christian, non-Christian, southern, northern and everyone in between.

It is time that America honor the ideals that we were founded on, before it is too late.

I believe in the American people and I know that the trouble-makers who terrorize us are few, but if we allow them to continue to garner the spotlight and inhabit our thought process, we will fail, we will fail to uphold the cornerstones that America was founded on.

                                  “My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again                                          be seen as the last best hope of earth.”

Abraham Lincoln

Life’s Playlist….. It’s The End of the World by R.E.M.

On this date, in 1972 the first article exposing the Watergate scandal was printed in The Washington Post.

The subsequent articles and investigations were spear-headed by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Watergate eventually brought down the Presidency of Richard Nixon.

IMHO the Watergate scandal is the epicenter of where politics in America went wrong, on BOTH sides of the aisle.

Since this time our public officials have been more concerned with “gotcha” than service.

 

 

Life’s Playlist….. We Are the Champions by Queen

On this date in 1984, the United States Men’s Gymnastics team climbed to the top of the mountaintop by winning the Olympic Team Gold Medal.

The Olympics which were held in Los Angeles, were boycotted by the Soviet Union in retaliation for the US boycott of 1980.

The United States team became instant celebrities.  The team consisted of Bart Conner, Tim Daggett, Mitch Gaylord, James Hartung, Scott Johnson and Peter Vidmar.

In the spring following the Olympics, I attended a Public Relations Student Society of America conference in Detroit along with a group of my fellow students from Georgia Southern.

At the conference, Bart Conner was our Keynote Speaker, he was gracious and kind; his words were inspiring.

The victory by the 1984 Men’s Team, placed a new spotlight on men’s gymnastic in the US and their legacy continues today through their work in coaching and commentary.