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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

The construction of us in the past and our youth in the future is a combination process.  It involves nature (DNA material) and nurture (environment) with considerable influence from family, church, school and the community.  We pray that everyone has a functioning value system and/or moral compass.  There…we have it….how modern southerners should be built.

I was built back in the day during the end of Jim Crow.  Not being killed by a mob, the police or a mob that included the police was the simple goal.  Oh, our parents were built as tough as nails; I swear my father was made from iron and leather.  We are noticeably softer than they were unapologetically.  They didn’t want their kids to be “fetching water, tin tub bathing, step off the sidewalk for White folks” tough.  We were air conditioned, water in the door Negroes.

The heart-break of my life was not being a member of a Black fraternity.  But, it turns out that I was never built to take the abuse of hell week….hell naw.  Don’t get it twisted, military training like Ranger School in Columbus, SEAL School in San Diego or basic training of Marines on Parris Island is a good character building.  While that training is tough, it is doable.  Some of the pledge process for Black frats is worst is than CIA alleged “enhanced interrogation.”  Oh, I would have been on Fox News in I attemped to join certain groups back when.  My father loved his membership but he was going from a sharecroppers’ life into the middle class.  That fraternity was a big part of his polishing and development.  While I would have enjoyed the brotherly bond and community service, they would have “made” me.

This discussion is needed on a public policy/politics blog because how kids are built directly relates to what they take on in life.  In my community, kids often have a struggle mentality—struggling, it’s what we do.  Parents actually built their kids to be strong for the struggle rather than smart to avoid the struggle.  A sista in college told me that her mother raised her ready to fight well with a man about cheating.  I asked why she wasn’t raised to detect and avoid the cheating type.

Yea, I am unapologetically soft and conduct myself accordingly.  I have a “hood” theory about jail.  Lawd knows I can’t do real time behind bars.  My unfounded theory is that some kids must have grown up in small space and therefore can live in an iron closet without problems.  I love the sun, the light, the night time sky and freedom.  What are you doing that is worth jeopardizing your outside freedom?  Would you give up freedom for a few dollars?  These fools have turned the word jail into an accomplishment word.  “Man, I know how to jail.”

Another hood theory involves people being outside.  It’s funny what some people can’t see.  In some communities, people always seem to be on the porch or outside because there is limited room and privacy inside.  Again, I wasn’t built to be in small spaces and my future house might only be 1100 square feet but you can best believe that it is one big room with only the bathroom separate—windows everywhere.

So, if you aren’t built for the struggle, it’s fine.  But, you need to be very careful what situations and drama enter into your life.  My friends who grew up rough are surprisingly the ones with smooth lives today.  They wanted the rest of their lives and their kids’ lives to be worry free.

Some of those who didn’t grow up in the struggle are struggling now because they are too soft or weak.  The conservative movement doesn’t know that this point is the key to their inroads in my community.  Government assistance might have inadvertently created a segment of the population whose main interest is seeking the infamous “check.”

I don’t like struggling and wasn’t built to have the government or anyone else tell me to care for my family.  One last point: what is up with grown folks who are too cool to work an entry level job but aren’t too cool to ask someone to feed their kids.  That’s some bull.

While I am ranting, let’s talk about DNA from the first paragraph.  Young people should be careful regarding the people with whom they have children.  All of the love and nurturing in the world can’t counterbalance a bad seed.  Some of these girls can’t pick husband material men because they have never been around healthy marriages.  They are built to fail from the beginning like their brothers who don’t know how to be law-abiding, job-holding men.  Uncle Teddy wants to give some loving advice: go to the family reunion on both side of a person’s family and study how they carry themselves long before you consider MARRYING this person and later having children.

Old Uncle Teddy was raised to move the Black family forward and we simply can’t afford to have you holding us back or turning us around.  A friend says “we are one generation from poverty.”  Get it—that’s a cute way of saying we recently came from poverty and we can easily return if we are careful.

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Abusing drugs might be at the root of most of southern communities’ problems.  However, we should consider drug abuse in its totality.  Yes, alcohol is a drug and many people drink in their (our) youth to mask the pain and disappointment of not having the life they wanted.  Everyone can’t be Miss. America, driving for NASCAR or score a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl.  You plan and life laughs—get over it.

I think that college kids and young adults smoke weed rather than drink alcohol because in many cases it is easier to get. First Lady Nancy Reagan said just say no to drugs and she was so right. In the 80s, crack dam near destroyed urban America.

As quiet as it is kept, prescription drug abuse or doctor shopping is tearing up another side of town and it is time to talk about it.  Secretary Colin Powell’s and Senator John McCain’s wives both had legal drug addiction problems.  If you have a car accident and are in pain, these drugs will help in the short term.  But, using them after the pain is gone is a mess.  The body has a habit forming need or a chemical dependency.  I don’t know all of the names of the drugs but it’s the stuff of mid-class women—the real desperate housewives.  These drugs are currency in certain circles.  Have you seen that show called Intervention?

Doctor shopping occurs when a person uses several doctors and the emergency room to get more and more of the stuff.  One pill “as directed” isn’t the norm.  People are taking several at one time or mixing them with alcohol for a dangerous cocktail.   An article in my local newspaper features comments on the subject from an emergency room doctor who attended undergrad with me.  The article says emergency room doctor shoppers are more likely to be White.  I don’t want to see anyone hooked on anything.

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2013/oct/27/emergency-room-drug-seeking-a-growing-problem/

Local officials should work with state and federal governments to determine and address this problem because it is costly to the healthcare and criminal justice systems.  How much crime is drug related?  It actually cost more money to put someone in prison for a year than the average person earns in a year.

Here is the kicker: the SSI disability program treats drug abuse as a disability.  Huh?  Is that the classic definition of a vicious circle because the money from “the check” often funds more abuse.  What they really need is some sweet Jesus.

Getting to the root of the abuse problem will require giving people something positive to do.  While most local elected officials will say that utilities and fire trucks are their duties, they must work to attract more jobs, support the local education system and tell state and federal officials that funding positive activities and treatment programs is spending a dime now rather than spending a dollar later on jails.

Lastly, marijuana seems to have pain management benefits but we should pump the brakes on legalization; the experts on this matter should speak first.  We must remember that there was no real organized crime in America before prohibition.  The trafficking of illegal weed is a big problem but legalization might create a subculture of mellow zombies.

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5:10 a.m. is before the dawn of a new southern day or as we use to say “ ‘fore day in the morning.”  It’s also the dawn of a new day politically and the beginning of a new season.   Change is obligatory.

The local elections this year and the wider elections next year are good times to lay the foundation of what we need in your southern communities.  We need leaders who speak openly and honestly about bringing us together and improving our conditions.  Co-founder of this blog Helen Blocker Adams is such a leader and Augusta, Georgia, should make her their next mayor.

Helen and I have spent countless hours discussing the importance of bridging community divides and that is the reason I chose a southern bridge for the cover art of this blog.  The rock band the Police had a reggae song called “One World Is Enough For All Of Us” that includes the line “we can’t sink while others float because we are all in the same big boat.”  In Augusta, the medical college recently continued it’s land acquisition but fairly created new housing for displace citizens.

We need similar changes in my town and the changes could apply to a thousand American communities.  We are a proud agricultural community; we grown produce.  Only a few percentage of Americans work directly in ag but those hard working people feed everyone else.  While I generally have no stomach for Donald Trump, he is correct in stating that America doesn’t make things anymore and making things will be the return of jobs.

The new mission for my community should surprisingly be based on towns like Mayberry from television.  See, some people like to raise families and grow old in peaceful, friendly places where everyone knows and cares for everyone else.  My town is sandwiched between two larger cities and to me, we are a bedroom community for those who don’t mind a short drive for some peace.

We need leaders who are concerned with every little corner of the community because problems and trouble know no boundaries.  In our local elections, every candidate is personally cool with me and I would be lying if I said that basic municipal services weren’t fine.  They are.

However, there comes a time when talented leadership should step up to the next challenge…when your services and skills are better required on a different level of government.  For example, New Jersey has two bright rising stars and I personally like their new style of leadership.  Newark Major Cory Booker is running for the U.S. Senate and this guy earned his stripes.  He is a Sanford/Yale guy whose parents were two of the first Blacks at IBM but he lived in the projects as mayor to better understand the lives of his citizens.  The guy doesn’t talk in generalizations; he gets down to details of what is wrong—straight no chaser.  He speaks directly to the people about what they should do to improve their communities.

President_Barack_Obama_Tours_Storm_Damage_in_New_Jersey_7

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is clearly running for president and if Hillary isn’t the next POTUS, it should be him.  The big guy tells it like it is and doesn’t might stepping on a few toes if needed.

In southwest Georgia, the Chamber of Commerce types have done an admirable job of marketing our communities with emphasis being on the good qualities.  However, it’s time to address (deal with) the rest of the community.  Where are the leaders who can comfortably and firmly bring out the best from the rest?  Countless sons and daughters of the rural South dream about retiring to these piney forests but two main concerns are the racial climate and the growing actions of the thug element.

We need to grow our youth with the care we have traditionally used to produce our crops.  We must prepare the soil, plant the seed organically and monitor until ripeness.  But, we must also root out weeds and remove pests.

Issues that local candidates should be addressing included:

1. Police: It’s wonderful when the local police achieve that delicate balance between firmness and compassion.  During the Clinton Presidency, the Congress passed a Crime Bill that promoted Community Policing.  The best officers (we have some good ones) know their patrol areas and greet people.  They use knowledge of and relationships with citizens to serve and protect.  Unfortunately, some officers develop a hard spirit from constantly dealing with thugs; they should remember that the vast majority of the people appreciate and support them.  Cops should smile and walk more.

2. Economic Development: We know that real E.D. begins in the homes, the schools and the churches.  Hey, the Chamber can’t attract industry to a town if those industrial leaders read rough stats about the educational abilities of the workforce.  An unofficial duty of elected officials is encouraging citizens to be fully focused on achievement—get in their faces like Booker and Big Chris up Jersey way.

3. Downtown Revitalization: Madison, Tifton, Moultrie, Americus, Thomasville. Even Hahira.  These Georgia towns have cool downtown areas.  The granola-eating, bicycle-riding, wine-sipping types love to live in and visit towns with preserved character.  I still don’t get antiquing because it reminds me of rough days for us but hey, if it brings dollars to town, roadshow your blank off.  I do love old buildings with character and retrofitting them with lofts brings life back to downtown.  Paris, Napa Valley and Barcelona have a café culture and so can south Georgia but rather than sitting outside on the sidewalk sipping Riesling we might preferred sweet tea or a cool one from a Mason jar–Duck Dynasty style.  This would be a nice way to watch the Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets or Falcons give a game away…again.

4. Crime: We need leaders who will work with state and federal officials to address the growing cost of criminal activity.  Of course, it starts with education, faith and better parenting.  The next crop of leaders needs to be familiar with regular folks—dare I say that they should have street cred.  You must know the streets to fix the streets.

5. Housing: Homeowership anchors a taxpaying family to a community.  Whatever happened to starter homes?  Let’s be honest, item number four (crime) has people moving out of town.  The thug element frightens people…me included.  But, hell no.  The houses in my community were built my farmworkers who moved to town.  These people work so hard (making money for someone else) to purchase their slice of the American dream.  Today, most of those men have gone to glory and their widows live in fear from half-raised boys…raised more by hip hop videos than family and church.   You can’t be a new community leader if approaching those young men isn’t in your nature. At some point, we need to secure federal funding to relocate some ag operations from the town’s center to the outskirts and replace that area with mixed-use housing.  I want to hear “let’s walk to church” again.

6. Resourcefulness: we have a fine crop of local candidates.  If they play their cards right, those who don’t win can’t run for the Georgia General Assembly next year with the support of the person who beat them.  Our statehouses need new blood because the political parties seem out of touch.  They put party over people.  I take my hat off to Governor Christie for working with President Obama when New Jersey got hit my a super storm.  That’s what leaders do to be resourceful.

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hill harper
Between Barrack Obama and his Harvard Law School classmate actor Hill Harper, I surprisingly think that Harper could have as big an impact on young Americans of all colors.  Hill has dedicated his life to sharing positive information with others.  Below are my notes from his first book.  The underline sections are the beings of paragraphs that I really found useful.

Letters To A Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny         Author: Hill Harper

Xii           I want young men to have knowledge of the things that bring them true empowerment: education, a strong sense of purpose, compassion, confidence, and humility to name a few.

Xvi          It is no coincidence that both my mother and father became doctors just as it is no accident that I graduated from Brown University magna cum laude and received graduate degrees with honors from Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.  My family taught me that doing my best, educating myself, and being in service to others were not optional and that having values and being truthful were not negotiable.

p. 5         You will live longer, become better educated, make more money and be happier than the previous generation.  You are here to improve the human race, and you need to embrace that.

p. 8         A good man is honest, lives his life with integrity, and behaves responsibly.

p. 9         Be Balanced

p. 13      You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.

p. 14      While it is important to have friends, it’s also important to realize that you, completely on your own, have to be able to make yourself happy.

p. 17      There is nothing wrong

p.  20     Luckily, as I matured

p. 21      Rejection is God’s protection

p. 21      So the most important thing I learned is that my absentee parent didn’t leave me, she left the situation.  My mom left the relationship with my father because she felt she had no other choice.  Even though your father may have left when you were a baby, it’s important that you realize he didn’t leave you.  He didn’t even know you.  Your father left for reasons that had nothing to do with you.

p. 24      Truth be told

p. 24      Also, you may not

p. 33      Will Smith: Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.

p. 34      School, as hard as it may seem, is easier than the real world.

p. 36      The only two areas in your life where you should allow yourself to owe someone else money is for school (education debt) and when you buy your house – and notice I’m saying “when” you buy your house not “if” – that’s what we call “mortgage debt.”

p. 42      Hey, man

p. 44      General Colin Powell: “There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

p. 44      “Working smart” means using your brains first to formulate a plan of how to “work” most effectively.  If you are working smart, you are first very clear about what you want to achieve – that’s your goal. Then, before you take the first step toward achieving that goal, you use all the knowledge and information you have at your disposal to decide what the most effective route will be to get there.

p. 66      “There are some things that money can’t buy.”  In fact,, if you break it down, money can buy one thing, and one thing only and you know what that is?  Options.  Money cannot buy you freedom or happiness or love.  If you have enough money, it gives you options as to what you can do in your life and with your life.

p. 68      More focus needs to be put on developing an inner happiness, doing what you love, and having faith that if you do these things, the money will come.

p. 69      For instance

p. 74      The first car

p. 79      Girls are attracted

p. 81      Women care about much more than just external things.  A woman wants a man who will treat her with respect and wants to do fun things with her and make her laugh.

p. 82      Sanaa Lathan: All I want to know is can I talk to him?  Is he really interested in getting to know how my mind works?  Does he truly listen when we talk?  Do we have fun, do we laugh, and ultimately how do I feel when we’re together?  Be careful of wearing too much bling cuz it might outshine your better qualities.

p. 87      Throughout the history of the world more men have been brought down and had their lives destroyed because of their irresponsible sexual activity than by any other single act.

p. 88      Sex is not a bad thing.

p. 89      And remember, just because a woman wants to have sex with you, it doesn’t mean you should feel you have to have sex with her.

p. 90      Men have lost

p.  92     Gabrielle Union: Oftentimes as girls and women

p. 99      Let’s face it-mistakes

p. 101    Mistakes are decisions we have control over.  And you can make a mistake in an instant, which is why it’s important to know who you are and what you stand for before you find yourself in a situation where you make a wrong decision.

p.  103   It seems a recurring theme

p.  111   So let me set you straight- making money is not a goal.  Making money is a result.

p. 114    If you find what you love to do then, ‘hard work’ becomes easy – it’s more fun than just chillin’ or doing some job just for the money.  If you’re doing something you love, working hard at it is more fun than working just to work; now that’s hard!

p. 116    Venus Williams: School is very important

p. 122    Here are some questions

p. 128    I’ll give you an example….Barrack Obama

p. 129    You have to first, dream; and second, work hard to achieve those dreams.

p. 135    “There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen; those who wait for things to happen; and those who sit and wonder what happen.”

p.  155   Every day we are faced with challenges and choices.  Some are harder than others.  And sometimes, what seems like a big deal at the time doesn’t matter at all a week later.  The one thing I’ve learned is that if I approach each day with an attitude of gratitude, even the most difficult challenges fail to bring me down.

p. 156    Obama: Life appears to be hard

p. 161    Wealth comes from knowing both your value in the world, as well as the value of the blessings life has brought you- family, friends, future opportunities, health, and the opportunity for true unreasonable happiness.  You win when you embrace all of these and look toward the future with a positive attitude.  So yes, you are wealthy already if you just look around you.

p. 163    Another wealth component

 

p. 167    Mantras and affirmations are strong tools that have been used for thousands of years in prayer and meditation.

I promise:

-          To be strong so that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.

-          To make everyone feel that there is something special in them.

-          To look at the positive side of everything and make my optimism come true.

-          To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.

-          To learn from the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

-          To have a cheerful presence at all times and give every living creature I meet a smile.

-          To give so much time and effort to the improvement of myself that I have no time to criticize others.

-          To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

-          To be a light for others, not a judge of others.

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I could do more for the future of young Americans with this blog post than Obama and Romney combined.  The central concept is live a simple life.  With secondary regard for whom is or isn’t president, folks need to develop their faith, eat right and exercise, grow their career and minimize lust for material things.

Obama is the key—Michelle Obama.  The first lady’s personal history is the story of a Chi-town girl who got her homework, focused in class and honored her parents with her actions.  As we would say back in the day, I like how she “carried herself.”  We spend billions of state, local and federal governmental dollars addressing personal problems that some Americans went out of their way to create.  They should have been living the simple life. 

Last week, a country song came on the truck radio called “Alright” and it was all about enjoying a basic existence.  I don’t want to get side tracked about how country music is really blue-eyed blues, and rock and roll is blue-eyed soul which was stolen. 

Anyway, I searched the net for the song and it is actually by Darius Rucker, the brother who turned to country after fronting the pop/rock group Hottie and the Blowfish.  Peace, love and happiness to Brother Rucker and his song is similar to the rural vibe of many tunes in that genre.  As quiet as it is kept, my favorite cd of all time is Lynrd Skynyrd greatest hit compilation called “Gold and Platinum.”  Rucker’s song feels like Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and both songs seem to be based on what you tell kids at home and at church. 

On that same cd is the mellow cut “Comin Home.”  It’s all about missing being at home.  While cities are nice to visit, living 10 to 15 miles from an urban area is cool to me.  As more rural Americans move away from direct involvement with agriculture, opportunities persist in food inspection, processing and distribution.  When people grow weary of the congested North and the struggling Rust Belt, they should consider Georgia other than Atlanta (someone needs to pick up that city and shake it until some of those people fall out.) 

Bottonline: if you live a simple life, you can limit drama, stress and strain.

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School choice and family planning are two topics I would love to hear discussed in my community because they are at the foundation of our futures.  However, I want that discussion to take place around a discussion table sixty or seventy years ago. 

A.G. Sadler Sr., third seated from left

A photo of my father and his fraternity brothers meeting at the local Black college hangs in my mother’s den.  The organization wore Black and Gold and he was old enough to actually know founders personally but it could have been a meeting of any Black fraternity or sorority of that time because they were all committed to moving the race forward.  You can see the steely determination in their eyes: we as a people would have the opportunity to learn, earn and prosper in this great nation and the sky would be the limit once those doors of opportunity opened. 

If we had a time machine or a portal to the past (like a smart phone app), we could tell these gentlemen that we were from 2012 and that a Black man was in the White House…a Black man without a mop.  Since most of the men in that picture were college professors or public school educators, I want to know their opinions on school choice.

Today, we recognize that public school K-12 education needs a top to bottom overhaul.  I personally think that the teachers enter the profession ready to teach and that the facilities are generally acceptable in my area.  For a myriad of reasons, some of the kids just aren’t ready, willing and able to learn.  I think the foundation of education is discipline or obedience learned at home and church. 

Those guys in that photo didn’t question their parents in their generation and neither did we in my generation.  Today, I hear kids ask their parents “What?” and “Why?” with a tone that would have never happened in my day.  One of the men in that photo was likely the dentist that my father would have taken me to see after he knocked my teeth out for saying “What.”

We should discuss parents having a tax credit or voucher to put their children in the best quality educational situation.  When schools in the South were integrated, White private schools popped up in every county.  But, I can remember the dedication of the educators from the all-Black schools.  A period of “separate but equal” would have been fine with many Blacks because they wanted fairly funded schools more than forcing us to attend school with people who thought of us wrongly. 

When we debated school choice as congressional staffers in the 1990s, I would always argue that private schools would cherry-pick the best students and those remaining in the public schools would be students from families that couldn’t afford to get out.  If the best 20% opted for private schools, the worst 20% should have a voucher to attend a special school after getting kick out of regular school. 

Public policy can’t solve the education problem because the ultimate problem is that some people are having children before they are prepared to raise and nurture them.  To me, people shouldn’t get married until they are around 24 years old and they should then wait 24 months before having kids (a waiting period to ensure that the marriage is viable.)  Before 24 years of age, people could be finishing their education and training, moving up in the workplace and having fun socially.  Children should come into the mix when folks are ready to be parents like those Alphas in that old photo.  Instead, we have kids having kids and early grade teachers are half educators and half parents. 

Current conservatives trip me out with talk of abortion and welfare.  The guys around that table never envisioned people having the government deeply involved in their lives. They were concerned more with anti-lynch and opportunity.  The conservative men in that photo would have a lot to say about the long-term effect of LBJ’s policy that would come in a decade or two. 

A recent study indicates free birth control dramatically reduces abortion and teen pregnancy.  Since the far Right conservatives are rightfully concerned with governmental spending, they should know that abortions and public assistance goes down if fewer pregnancies occur in the first place.  The guys in that picture could discuss the wrongness of abortion and premarital sex as well as the wrongness of hungry children and struggling families.  Reasonable people know that you can’t always push your faith’s beliefs into the public policy of a diverse nation. 

http://news.yahoo.com/study-free-birth-control-leads-fewer-abortions-210623724.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CabFnBQvlUAOf7QtDMD

The achievement-oriented Blacks of my fathers’ generation would be disappointed to learn that music is crime and sin-based and hip hop shapes the mindset of our youth more than parents and church.  If those guys in that picture were transported into current times, they would figure out a way to get the best education for their families.  Unfortunately, those pioneers in education would be compelled to seek schools for their families that kept their kids away from certain elements without regard to race.  Oh, I would teach government and tennis at an all-male school that brought academic heat all day every day–a place where gentlemen were built.

Teaching the guys in that photo was easy because they were enthusiastic about learning; it was learn or be an unofficial slave during Jim Crow.  If they had a window on today at that table, they would be flabbergasted with the way our youth are carrying themselves and disappointed with the squandering of opportunities.

I enjoyed hearing this speech by Kappa founder Edward G. Irvin.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P7rpu-0Tf4]

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At church today, the guest pastor told a story about two guys in a day long woodcutting contest and how one guy kept taking breaks all day.  At the end of the day, the guy who chopped continuously didn’t win because the other fellow wasn’t just taking breaks—he was sharpening his axe.  I love it.

When I web-searched the tale, several versions came up and the follow quote from Abraham Lincoln:   Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

http://story.indialeadership.net/2011/02/sharpen-axe.html

The pastor’s point was that we need to rest our minds sometimes and we need to work smart as well as work hard.  In my community, single mothers are often the hardest working people because they are making up for early life decisions.  When I worked in a job training program with these women, they would often say that life would have been much better if they listened to their parents and the folks at school and church. 

My politically moderate friends and I think that who the president is secondary to who you are.  In other words, most of our problems boil down to CDC—choices, decisions and consequences.  Sharpening the axe involves preparing with education in the classroom and preparing for life by respectfully listening to those who have travelled the road you are about to take. 

Today, young people in my community would rather listen to those who glamorize the thug life in song.  As the White House and Congress cuts federal spending, I think that a good balance would be telling the American people honestly that many of their wounds are self-inflicted.  I need Rep. Sanford Bishop, Rep. Austin Scott, the Obamas and even rich Mitt Romney to speak more about their successes that resulted from listening to their parents, studying hard in school and slowly growing their careers.  Yes, Romney was born into money but there are great life lessons in the missionary work of his church.  Sharpen the axe.

Working smart for families on my block also includes helping their children understand that the conspicuous consumption of designer gear isn’t need for back to school.  These kids should sit down in class, learn the information and do their homework.  Period.  But, we (the people who look like me) get caught up with keeping up the Joneses—that’s why Johnny can’t read.  So, parents are working overtime to purchase $200 sneakers for kids who most play sports on video games that also cost upward of $200.  Really?

Finally, we can’t say enough about sharpening the axe by hanging with positive, reasonable people.  I will get in trouble for saying it but I am amazed by the girls from good homes who have kids too early with unprepared guys.  Kids should graduate from high school then go to technical college, four year college, the military or start climbing the work ladder.  But, these young people should wait until the 23 to 26 years old range to get married and start families because before that they don’t know who they are nor do they know what they need in a mate.    

I want to hear Obama, Romney or some candidate go off on America about Lincoln’s principle of sharpening the axe.

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When I lived in D.C., the pastor of my neighborhood Methodist church was the coolest sister who ever stepped into a pulpit.  On one Sunday morning, she said that she saw a rainbow flag on a bumper sticker and on the other side of the bumper was another sticker that read “Father, protect us from your followers.”

Look, we live in a nation that is a tapestry woven from many different fibers.  While I might have personal opinions on certain matters, I think that law-abiding citizens have the right to be wrong and that reasonable people should stand to protect said rights.  If earthly actions would send people to blazes after this life is over, it is fine because there is “plenty room in hell.”  However, I have recently read a new Bible that was given to me 28 years ago (I know, I know) and I better understand that people with faith knowledge are required to share with others. 

Politics and faith blend when you consider 1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, as for the praise of them that do well.   Also, Romans 13:1 reads Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

To me, the part regarding “Bishop” is funny because our congressman’s name is Bishop, which means overseer.  Rep. Bishop knows the Bible as does his last opponent, a pastor and elected official.  Actually, the opponent displayed considerable restraint from twisting biblical bishop from say Titus 1:7-9 into his campaign.  I assume that it took serious energy to keep his supporters from heading down that path.  To me, Rep. Bishop seems to fit the qualifications of Bishops found in 1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop then, he desireth a good work.  When Rep. Bishop decides to exit public service and really get paid in the private sector, the speeches praising him will no doubt include references to 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.  

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul wrote “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made for all men.  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

So, I will be praying for Obama, Romney, Bishop, Saxby, Isakson and the rest. Finally, for my homies in D.C., I am listing the 20 or so parts of the Bible that I find most useful so far.  Peace. 

Devotional List:

1. Psalm 23

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord
Forever.

 

2. Matthew 5: 1-14

The Beatitudes

5 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

3. Matthew 6: 9-13 Lord’s Prayer

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[c]

 

4. Psalms 37: 1-4

37 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

 

5. Psalm 27: 1-4, 14

 An Exuberant Declaration of Faith

A Psalm of David.

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

 

6. Psalms 51:10 Clean Spirit

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

 

7. Mark 8:36-37  Soul

36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

8. Proverbs 17:22  Broken Spirit

22 A merry heart does good, like medicine,[a]
But a broken spirit dries the bones.

 

9. Proverbs 3:5-8 Guidance for the Young

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,[b]
And strength[c] to your bones.

10. Exodus 20:12 Ten Commandment of Parents

 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

 

11. Proverbs 6:16-19  Wicked Man

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

 

12. Proverbs 13:20  Wise Men

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

 

13. Proverbs 16:7-8  Peace and Little

When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.

 

14. Proverbs 21:23 Tongue

23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

 

15. Proverbs 23:9 Fool

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

 

16. Proverbs 24:17-20  Enemy

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him.
19 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the wicked;
20 For there will be no prospect for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.

 

17. Proverbs 29:18 Vision

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

 

18. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Everything Has Its Time

3 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

 

19. John 14:1-6 The Way, the Truth, and the Life

14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

20. Romans 8:28, 31

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

 

21. Philippians 4:13

 13 I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me.

 

22. John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

23. Ecclesiastes 12: 1, 13-14

12 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”:

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

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I watched Denzel Washington’s movie The Book of Eli in the wee hours of New Year’s Day.  Washington’s character was protecting the last known King James Bible in a post nuclear war world.  We forget how important and useful the Bible’s messages and lessons are when (to be frank) we are busying sinning. 

Yesterday at my church and evidently everyone’s church, the pastor use Philippians 3:13 “…forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before.”  I am so glad Denzel got sage information like that into to the rebuilding world and we need to think about that as we start a new congress, a new year and a new presidential selection process.

Come on: we all know that the political parties will be bickering in the next few days with the Democrats being afraid of the lefties and the Republicans being concerned about pleasing the far right.  They should all please the American people in general and Americans should get a fresh start with a mindset geared toward self-determination rather than governmental solutions for self-created personal drama.  I need to hear that from President Obama and smart conservatives should dig that vibe from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a good dude who will likely be passed over in the GOP presidential race.

Millions of other Americans and I need a fresh start with a new job and the mad scramble for employment is starting to seem like the quest for water in The Book of Eli.  Spoiler alert for those with HBO On Demand: Denzel’s character is blind in the whole film but surprisingly he can sense things slighted people miss. 

They say that in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.  I say people “between opportunities” in this economy will quickly tell the employed to work hard, sharpen skills and watch their backs.  While you are grumbling at your work place, some enthusiastic people would love to be in your position. 

At the end of the Book of Eli, a newly produced Bible was printed and a copy was put on a self between the Torah and the Quran.  Viewers get the impression that a lack of tolerance and/or  faith-based conflicts started the war.  Governing isn’t a game and pitting people against each other is reckless.

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Knots Prayer

Knots Prayer

Dear God,

Please untie the knots
that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.
Remove the have nots,
the can nots and the do nots
that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots,
may nots, and
might nots that find
a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots,
would nots and should nots
that obstruct my life.

And most of all, dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind
my heart and my life all of the am nots
that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought
that I am not good enough.

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My favorite church sermons are on my mind because I must make some major life decisions soon.  While I am no stranger to sin, the pastors get the same attention I gave the professors in school.  Like I tell the kids on my block, you might as well learn something if you are going to be at church or school anyway.  Have you seen the alarming dropout rates for schools…..and church.   

At the funeral of our political science professor, the pastor said that our grave markers will likely have the day we were born and the day we died with a dash in between the two dates.  The dash….it’s all about that dash.  Everything we do on earth is in that dash.  Someone else once said that life is God’s gift to you and what you do with that life is your gift back to him. 

The lady pastor at my Methodist church once said that she hears some many people praying and pleading  “God they need you over here…Father they need you over there.”  She said she imagines God is thinking, “Why do you think I put you down there…go see about it then come back and tell me what you did to fix it.”

The former pastor at the First African Baptist Church hit me with this pearl of wisdom.  He said people find justifications for worldly actions and dress up their activities but when he was in the “world” he knew he was in the world doing wrong.  I like that.

As a former altar boy, the communion service is in my memory.  The Call to Communion begins, “Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God…”  I talk vows, oaths and pledges seriously if not literally so I often skipped going down for communion if I had some fun or partying planned.  Our current pastor says “intend” means intends so there is some flex there. 

During communion, a prayer states that we are sorry for “our misgivings that we have commended against your divine majesty in thoughts, words and deeds.”  Since beliefs from church should reflect in our daily actions, the “thoughts, words and deeds” part has always fascinated me.  People in politics can think or say something but what did you do; what were your deeds because actions speak louder than words.  On the other hand, people can conveniently interpret the Bible to account for everything from slavery to ugly political attacks.  

One favorite faith message wasn’t a sermon but the Shug Avery song in the movie Color Purple.  God is trying to tell you something and you might not want to hear it.  Someone once said that God answers pray but sometimes the answer is no…however it’s in your best interest.  Garth Brooks had a song called “Unanswered Prays” and it’s a rural classic.  People are always joking about sinners in church and pastors needing to get those messages on the streets and corners but we all have our crosses to bear.  

I had the best time sitting under a 100-year-old oak tree and listening to my cousins in Ty Ty, Georgia today.  While I left before the barbeque was served, I got fed with that knowledge and wisdom from family.  

Unanswered Prayers (cover)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54Y3b_2OJE8&feature=related

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While watching PBS recently, the “Battle for the Bible” on the Secrets of the Dead series had me thinking about the current political climate and the role of faith in government.  Democrats aren’t all godless heathens and the GOP is not full of saints.   Of course, we want leaders whose decisions are based on their faith and moral grounding. The last part of this great show mentioned Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which served as the foundation for the related provisions in the our Bill of Rights.

Watching this documentary online is time well spent because we should know the effort and process of translating the Bible into English.

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 16 January 1786

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.

http://www.lva.virginia.gov/lib-edu/education/bor/vsrftext.htm

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In elementary school, my classmates who attended the Kingdom Hall made me proud when they stood by their faith by not standing and pledging alliance to the flag.  I love the flag and the republic “for which it stands” but I also learned tolerance, diversity and understanding from watching and appreciating others.  At the Methodist church, we studied Moses and his brother Aaron, the goldsmith who fashioned the golden calf while Moses was away receiving the Ten Commandments.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol…”

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”

“Take care not to make covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going.”

Covenants, oaths, and pledges have always created fuzzy areas.  In college, some students were uncomfortable bowing and pledging their loyalty to fraternal organizations in ceremonies that seems religious or sacrilegious because they were based on ancient cultures.  Others saw swearing membership as joining the most noble knights or groups that defended the Christian faith like the Crusaders and the Knights Templar who secured the holy relics—I watch too much History Channel.

Ray Boyd, a candidate for Georgia Governor, recently declined taking a short loyal oath to the Republican Party–Democrats don’t have a similar oath.  The discussion with my friends quickly turned to what is higher in a person’s commitment: God, family, state, nation, political party, race, gender, Georgia Bulldogs.  Don’t answer that. 

On matters of governance, GOP members puts party higher that the less-ridged Dems.  The Red Team is always leery of anyone who hasn’t taken a blood oath in the basement of their meeting hall or a purity test.  These tests are good news for the political middle because people push or prodded out are welcomed in the center and bring a fiscal fitness element to every discussion.    

In the South, one of the most famous personal allegiance battles was General Robert E. Lee decision to turndown the command of the Army of the Potomac and side with his beloved Virginia.  As a kid, I wondered how Black Vietnam vets must have felt when they returned to hometowns where their mothers could not drink from certain public water fountains and their kids could not swim in public pools.  “My country tis of thee…Sweet land of liberty.”  In my community, we favor the federal government over the state government for obvious historic reasons and angry talks of states’ right is naturally unsettling. 

How far does one take a political party oath?  If the members of the other party have valid legislative initiates, do you fight each and every provision for party sake or be fair for country sake? 

In Israel earlier this year, it was clear that their faith was priority one and the same could be said for members of their faith living around the world.  With Jewish history, that is understandable.  How do people in America reconcile the mandates of their faith with the broader views of our nation?  When followers of Islam attempt to create Muslim-based theocracy in the Middle East, we in the West get nervous but what happens when members of my faith attempt to do the same thing here.  Those founding fathers could have made life easier by declaring a national religion.

And if you join a new political party, there will be a 12 month waiting period to ensure that you are not a mole, plant or spy.  When I worked on Capitol Hill, we did not view Republicans as those who should be converted to our party.  We respected their points of view because they represented a segment of our state.  On the other hand, many on the Right govern by ignoring every other standpoint.  That’s not cool or healthy.

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Shirley Goodnest and Marcy

Shirley and Marcy  

A mom was concerned about her kindergarten son walking to school. He didn’t want his mother to walk with him. She wanted to know that he was safe.

So she asked a neighbor if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance,
She said since she was up early with her toddler, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.

The next school day, the neighbor and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor girl he knew.  She did this for the whole week.

As the two walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy’s little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week. Finally she said to Timmy, ‘Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week?  Do you know her?’  
Timmy  replied, ‘Yeah, I know who she is.’
 
The little girl said, ‘Well, who is she?’
‘That’s just Shirley Goodnest,’ ‘and her daughter Marcy.’

‘Shirley Goodnest? Who the heck is she and why is she following us?’ ‘Well, every night my Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, ‘cuz she worries about me so much. and in the Psalm, it says, ‘Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life’, so I guess I’ll just have to get used to it!’

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In American politics and government, the best interests of the nation should be priority one.  However, only the naïve ignore the political agendas all around us. 

 

Faith

State/Region

Political Party

Movement/Causes

Race/Gender

Profession/Industry

(Did I leave about 100 others out)?

 

Did the Founding Fathers (all landowning White males) think 2009 America would be this diverse or that a Black guy would be in the Executive Mansion without a mop in his hand?  Some southerners think public policy should directly reflect the Bible while others push issues that benefit their businesses, professions or careers.

 

Robert E. Lee’s pre-Civil War dilemma fascinates me.  The son of a former Virginia governor and the husband of Martha Washington’s great granddaughter, Lee turned down Lincoln’s offer of a senior command to fight for Virginia and the Confederacy; he loved his state deeply.  At my Black college, the history and pol sci majors would “trip” over Lee being the epitome of the southern gentleman while fighting for a “jacked up” cause while Grant was a drunk fighting for the right cause.  As a side note, many non-southern Whites did not support the expansion of slavery because slaves provided free labor in jobs White immigrants wanted. 

 

At times, Atlanta has produces liberal members of Congress who put national causes and movements before Georgia.  Residents of Georgia’s cities don’t realize that agriculture/ food processing is the economic backbone of the rural regions so we bump heads on the farm agenda. 

 

In Sunday School back in the day, we were taught, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and wealth.”   Luke 16:13

 

The parable in Luke 16 seems to speak of political parties, unions, lobbyists and interest groups.  I am not calling them Pharisees because that group seemed to be preoccupied with the letter of the law.  

 

What about Romans 13: 1-2: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” 

 

Personally, I am a Georgian, Methodist, African American, moderate Democrat, and southerner.  But, my sub-agendas must be reconciled with the best interests of the United States of America.  So help me God.

 

http://lcmssermons.com/index.php?sn=209

The parable of the unjust steward

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