Saturday, December 6, 2014

Try to Understand

By now, you're all aware of the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York regarding police officers and deaths of black men. Before I get into a diatribe, I'm going to state that police officers are a valuable commodity. I have family that was in law enforcement. My AWANA JVs leader was a police officer and had a significant impact in my salvation and spiritual growth. I have friends that are police officers that are godly people who love the communities in which they live and serve. When I had my house fire in March, police were highly comforting to me. They cared about my well being and what happened with me after the fire. All in all, police officers are wonderful pillars of the community.

However, some things have happened lately that frighten me to no end. The first thing that has happened is an 18 year old young man was shot and killed. No 18 year old should be shot, no matter the circumstances. The next thing that happened was that the same young man that was shot was left in the middle of the street way longer than necessary. The next thing that frightened me was that everyone took to two extremes in the situation. They either dismissed the people who lost a brother, a son, a friend, or a cousin; or they dismissed the feelings of the officer that tragically shot the young man that day. Darrin Wilson empathizers were dismissing the feelings of black people, calling them over reactors and race baitors. Michael Brown empathizers were dismissing the wonderful work that police officers do because of one fatal shot. It's not right on either account. When the grand jury failed to indict Officer Wilson, everything broke loose. It's not fair to either side of the debate. Whether or not the evidence was there or not, there is no excuse for destroying innocent bystanders' property. That breaks my heart almost as much as the loss of life.

It's gets worse. Back in the summer, a video surfaced of a man being confronted by police and then taken down in a choke hold. Now, the man was breaking the law. The police were in their right to confront him about it. However, the choke hold wasn't just barbaric. It was illegal. The choke hold has been banned for years, and this officer used said maneuver to take down the man. Sounds pretty much like a slam dunk, right? At the very least, this will be taken to trial and the officer will get a chance to truly defend his actions. This was even on video. Nothing happened. I'm outraged that something so simple was missed.

If a police officer kills someone in the line of duty to save their own life or the lives of others, that's fine by me. I understand that. However, when there isn't accountability for the taking of the life, or at the very least, a legit explanation of actions, it bothers people.

The trend #BlackLivesMatter is popular because black people aren't seen as human or worthy of survival, based on the last two high profile grand jury decisions involving black men. When a football player goes to prison for a year and a half for basically shooting himself in the leg while a police officer gets set free for choking a man to death, it makes that hashtag all the more poignant. When people get more outraged over dogs being hurt by a football player than black employees being hurt by a southern chef who has a TV show and a propensity for butter, can't help but ask why us. We have a black President of the United States who has been disrespected by Senators, radio hosts, and the like since he decided to run for president. And yes, I'm aware that it happened to the president before that, but it also happened to the president before that, the president before that, and the president before that. My argument is that it seems to be way more prevalent nowadays as opposed to before. Yelling in the middle of the State of the Union address, making it well known that your plan is to make the president a one term president, or literally telling your radio audience that you wish the man would fail at the expense of your country's success are all examples that a lot of people just don't want black people to be successful or blessed.

However, I do have to take my people to ask as well. It's unfair to destroy small businesses in search of justice. It's unfair to disrupt life for our own gains. All it does it hurt our chances of finally being seen as equals. The last thing we need in this firing range we call America is to give those who dismiss us ammunition. I'm calling to task all those protesters to make absolute sure you're not hindering the cause. If you're doing a simple walk, march, or stand-in, by all means, have at it. Wake up those who don't understand. If you're looting, rioting, flipping cars, and just being a nuisance, please realize what harm you're doing.

Overall, I ask that both parties show respect. To the police empathizers, understand that black people have been through at lot and I think there is a bit of last straw syndrome. To Brown and Garner empathizers, I ask that you remember that being a police officer is ridiculously difficult. You have to make split decisions. You're away from your family for extended periods of time. You're putting your life on the line with the potential to leave your family with little to no warning. Stress and pressure can play a major role, and if they're not properly dealt with, can lead to some disastrous results.

Our best bet for these kinds of things is prayer. Pray for those who protect and serve. Thank those who have been given the unenviable task of keeping the peace. Pray for those who feel hurt or slighted by a "civilized" society. Try to understand how they feel. Don't give them the "suck it up, buttercup" speech every time black people share their frustrations. It's time to start understanding people. It's time to stop picking a side for the sake of picking a side, or worse, gravitating to one side because we're expected to join said side. Just treat each other with respect. Our futures are on the line and sooner or later, the final straw is going to be reached and all you know what is going to run loose.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Fella

I'm sorry I haven't given you much recently. Life has been a roller coaster for me lately. Highs such as going on a mission trip to Cleveland, Ohio a week after LeBron returned; seeing one of my good friends accomplish something he's worked hard for for years; and getting a decent raise. Lows such as being turned down for a ton of jobs I'd interviewed for; having a friend have some troubles; and my Packers getting stomped.

This past Friday was both a high and a low.  You may or may not have been aware of a ton posts, tweets, and random musings about "The Fella." For those who may be unfamiliar, I worked part time for a company that provided support to folks with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. For two and a half years, my assignment was The Fella. This past Friday was my last day with him. He has started the next step in his life. He has moved out of his home and into a group home. This is the best thing for him. He needs to be free of his mother's home and try to do things on his own. I'm sure he'll succeed as long as the group home he's in cares for his success.

Over the course of my time with The Fella, I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned that life sometimes isn't about all boring things like bills, work, and serious things. Sometimes, a dude just needs a bag of chips and a soda. You have to learn to enjoy simple things in life like throwing rocks in a river. I mean we would literally spend hours sitting at a river chucking big rocks and skipping little rocks until one of us got thirsty. We'd play countless games of HORSE at a basketball court. Sometimes, it was just sitting down and watch Scooby Doo and Three Stooges when it got rainy outside. Just enjoying those simple things taught me that I don't need to take myself so seriously.

I also learned that even those little things are important to people. I can't count how many times I've had to deal with The Fella's temper when I beat him at UNO. When he'd stomp away after he got the final "E" in HORSE after trying to make that show two turns ago, it's just his way of expressing his frustration with both himself and the situation. I had a Youth Ministry professor at Liberty put it in perfect terms: "You can call it puppy love, but it's still real to the puppy." A stupid little game of UNO or basketball may not mean much to you, but to The Fella, it was everything. Sometimes in life, you have accept that people's loves are not your loves, and you shouldn't judge them for it.

Friday was our last evening together. It started when I took him to his favorite place to eat, Rancho Viejo. He saw his favorite waitress after she had her baby, so that made him happy. He ate what he always eats, cheese dip with hot sauce in it. He also stared at my black beans thinking they were raisins. We walked his dog, watched Three Stooges, and talked about his new life. When it was time for me to leave, he began to cry. That brought me to a few tears as well. I do get to hang out with him. I promised I'd take him places every so often and just have friend time. I probably won't see him for a couple of weeks just so he can get used to not having me around all the time.

Sometimes, I ask myself if I'm doing the right thing working two jobs. Outside of the financial gain, is it worth it? Well, after working with the Fella for as long as I have, I can say it is definitely worth it. His friendship has been invaluable. So, here's to you Fella. You've been great. You will succeed far better than your imagination. Just remember what you've learned about keeping your emotions in check and remembering that you don't hurt those you love. You're going to do great. Thank you for teaching me many life lessons.

Friday, July 4, 2014

America and Stuff

So it's been a while since I did one of these and figured today would be a good day to just vent. A lot of things are on my mind. I guess it's time to share them. I'll probably upset the masses, but what else is new?

It's America's birthday. It's a day where we celebrate the freedoms we were given by the sacrifices of those before us. Although I really can't claim much of the history because more of the people of my ilk were kind of forced over here. We helped in the effort, but I don't think we were as dedicated to the cause. Nevertheless, I'm thankful that I live in a country where I can spout my opinion and love my Lord with little to no repercussions.  I may get a concussion from an angry reader, but I'll chance it.

Speaking of America, what the heck is happening? There are so many issues that are just so pressing and crazy. Take for instance the case of the man who supposedly forgot his toddler was in his car for hours and died from heat exhaustion. There is no excuse. What makes it even worse was that the father was researching overheated car deaths weeks before this happened. What's even worse than that is his wife was researching as well. The young child had 2 insurance policies on him. It's frightening that there are children who have parents like this. However, we shouldn't be surprised. We live in a terribly selfish country.

Speaking of, that goes to my next rant. This whole Hobby Lobby thing. Basically, the Supreme Court says that Hobby Lobby has a right to not pay for every contraceptive. I don't understand why this is a big deal. Hobby Lobby didn't want to cover four abortifacient drugs. The "War on Women" pundits always talk about the government needing to stay out of the womb. Now that Hobby Lobby was given the right to refuse to pay for abortifacient drugs, these same pundits are now begging the government to intervene in their wombs. Most of the employees of Hobby Lobby aren't complaining. If this particular decision is truly that devastating, they'll leave. However, it seems that outside sources like to spend other people's money, so they'll just tell the employees to strike and fight back, you know how this goes. Oh, the money Hobby Lobby saves by not paying for those drugs can go towards the minimum of $14/hour they pay their full time employees and $9.50/hour for part time employees. Yeah, they're real jerks, aren't they?

I'm about to watch this hot dog eating contest. This cracks me up every year. A bunch of people eating ignorant amounts of pig parts and bread for 10 minutes. The world record is 69 in ten minutes. The dude said he could do 73 if it's a perfect day. Perfect day? His day will be littered with bathroom trips and Pepto Bismol. There's nothing perfect about that.

I'm pretty excited about an opportunity I have in a couple of weeks. I get to go to Cleveland, OH and do mission work. I'm not particularly sure what I'm doing, but I'm going there with an open mind and heart. I'm not going there with any expectations. I learned if you expect anything out of a mission trip, you'll be disappointed. If you go with nothing in mind, you'll be blessed. You can't force the Holy Spirit and God's will. You can only sit back and let them work. This will actually be my third trip to Cleveland. If any Ohio peeps are in the area, find me.

Apparently I missed the BET Awards. Black Evil Television isn't really my forte. Today's music is terrible. It's garbage with no end in sight. The shameful part is that there are people who think this is the best stuff ever. Terrifying that the people who think this will one day put me in a home when I'm too old to fight back.

God bless you all on this holiday. Remember to protect your dogs from the morons with firecrackers. Protect yourselves from the morons who don't know when enough booze is enough.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

When Things Go Boom

You know, sometimes in life, things just go completely wrong. I was absolutely stunned today by some crazy events. It started with me heating some oil so that I can fry some chicken. I was using a different oil than I usually use per a Rocco Dispirito recipe. I like Rocco, he's a good cook.  Well, I've heard that anyway. Well, I'm in the kitchen bouncing from place to place when all of a sudden, I hear a huge pop and my pot's in flames on the stove. I tried to reach for the baking soda but the flames were already too high and couldn't get to it without burning my arm. I called 911 immediately, trying to get help. My upstairs neighbor was already knocking on people's doors, getting everyone out. Thank God that the Roanoke Fire Department Engine 1 got there within minutes of me calling them. To say I was frightened would be the understatement of the century. This was probably the first time I showed fear in a situation since my childhood.

I thank God that no one was hurt. I thank God that the damage was cosmetic. I'd take a picture, but honestly, I'm not up for reliving that right now. I thank God that I can sleep in my own bed tonight because it's not nearly as rough as the fireman thought it would be. I thank God that I still have a microwave, a toaster, a George Foreman grill, and my Keurig machine, so no hunger here.

I often wonder why bad things happen. However, I was quickly reminded of my pastor's words over the last month. When you're doing things right for God, the Devil is at his most sinister. I don't think he said it like that, but it fits. I serve in a lot of capacities at my church. We just had a great meeting about Easter Sunday and all the wonderful things we want to do for the community. I, involuntarily, became the point of contact for the children's activities portion of the meeting. I'm okay with it, but I've never been the administrative type. Just tell me what to do, I'll do it. So this is really outside of comfort zone. We came up with some awesome ideas, and today was going to be the day I did some research on prices of things, but this fire happened. I guess I was a little distracted. This fire, as crazy as this sounds, was exactly what I needed to know that I'm doing things the right way. Even when I've disappointed God, and I have, trust me, I still get the opportunity to serve Him. When I serve Him, the Devil fights back. He tries to keep me from doing things the right way and doing what I ought to be doing.

Some of you reading this may not believe that a good God would allow this to happen in the first place, and that's okay. Believe what you want, but I know my God. I know that God has a plan. I comforted my neighbor who was scared to death. My landlord was more than gracious to me. My other neighbor, who actually called me a sweetheart yesterday while I was walking with my laundry basket, was calmed down and had no damages. I know that God will use this in a remarkable way.

A good bit of you friends have been nothing but supportive of me, and I thank you so much. Your prayers kept my place in tact and still livable. The firemen did an outstanding job of keeping abreast of the situation and keeping my place in tact. Again, thank you to the Firemen of Engine 1 in Roanoke for their quick response and calming words.

I think some cookies are in their future, when I get my stove...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Free and Brave

I've noticed that there is a huge commotion over a law that has been passed in Arizona. If you're not familiar, basically the Arizona State Legislature passed a bill that would allow business owners to refuse services based on religious beliefs. I'm pretty sure that this law was made to give Christian business owners the right to deny Gays and Lesbians services to their establishments. As you can guess, there is a huge stink. People are shaking their fists at the state of Arizona, calling them bigoted and intolerant. Other groups are saluting the lawmakers for allowance of religious freedoms.

I always ask this question: Why are people so enthralled with getting something from people who clearly don't want anything to do with them? If you're one of those people who are being discriminated against, why go through all the trouble? If someone doesn't want to give you business, go somewhere else. Here's how it usually plays out: person goes to business; business says, "no"; person files huge lawsuit, spending hard earned money on lawyers who couldn't give two spits about your predicament because they just want your money; and you still didn't get the service you were looking for. Sounds kind of stupid to me. Instead of wasting all your time, money, and energy on silly things like lawsuits and picket signs, why not just go somewhere else.  Then when someone asks why you didn't go to the original, you can calmly say, "they weren't good enough."

Look, I understand that discrimination exists and isn't right. However, we can't be so in love with getting someone back that we forget that other people have rights, too.  No matter how archaic and medieval the beliefs are in your mind, it's still theirs. You don't have the right to try to ruin someone because they don't think like you do. Again, I know about discrimination.  I grew up in a town that thinks the Ku Klux Klan is just misunderstood and that Martin Luther King, Jr was just a troublemaker who didn't know how to leave well enough alone. I get it.  However, I will always believe in every person's right to whatever they choose.

People might ask me what God thinks about my stance. God believes that people should ultimately follow His will. What that will is, you have to let Him tell you. I do believe that God isn't going to go out of His way to make sure a gay couple can't marry in a garden because the owner has convictions. If the owner values money, it really won't matter who comes walking through the door. However, if the owner has convictions and beliefs, no amount of money is going to change his mind.

This happened in the 60s and 70s with black people. Except, of course, they were hosed down and had dogs released on them. If someone doesn't want my business, I leave. I go about my business and find a place that will take my money. No need to go fussing and complaining and spending my money on a lawsuit.  Just roll out.

American businesses have the freedom to choose who they serve. American people just need the bravery to accept it and move on.

And this is Arizona, you should be used to this by now, right Chuck D?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Comeback Blog

It's been a while since I posted a blog.  My bad on that. 

Today is my birthday.  I decided not to do too much for my birthday.  However, this could be one of the best birthdays I've had in a while. 

It actually started yesterday when I baked a bunch of cookies for my co-workers at school.  I said I would do it, so I did.  They were a hit, thank goodness.  I got some goodies from some co-workers.  It really made my day.  A lot of well wishes from people, as well as perplexed looks when I told them how old I was.  It was nice.

I had a nice time with my folks at church and the youth group.  I got my Burger King crown.  The folks went around and said one thing they liked about me.  It was special hearing those things.

 I know that my birthday is the day where I'm kind of a big deal, however it's just humbling to know that your life is regarded so highly by people you love and respect.

In general, I have to say that this was an awesome birthday.  Just knowing that people care so much about you is really encouraging.

As I'm thinking about this birthday, it's a chace to look back at last year.  A lot of things have happened to me.  I moved to my own place.  As sad as having no roommates is, it's good for me to live alone.

I've cut the cord.  I have dropped cable television from my life.  I now use the Roku box.  I basically pay for the Internet and subscriptions to Netflix and HuluPlus.  Cut about 50 bucks from my monthly budget.  That's a good thing.  I have about 50 Roku apps that range from sports to movies to classic TV shows. 

I recently witnessed the Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate.  Atheists will tell you that Nye won.  Christians will tell you that Ham won.  God won the battle.  His Word was shared to millions of people.  Even if the people didn't want to hear it, they got it.  I think that was Mr. Ham's mission.  As a Christian, I am proud of the testimony and witness that Ken Ham showed.  Christianity isn't about outdoing someone or proving someone right or wrong.  It's about sharing Christ's love.  One thing I saw in Ken Ham was God's love.  You can hate the things of God all you want, but God isn't one to show off, so have at it.

Apparently, George Zimmerman wants to do celebrity boxing.  One, when did he become a celebrity?  Two, if he wants to be a boxer, why didn't he just outbox Trayvon instead of shoot him?  I wish Jason "Mayhem" Miller was still doing Bully Beatdown.  George would get crushed. 

I want to keep this blog going, so I'll try to post one a week.  Just talking about life and what I go through.