Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Politics of Insult

I'm getting ready to go to Pittsburgh but just had to put some things down before I go...I've read a LOT of blogs and articles slamming Barak Obama and that is their right to express themselves in such a manner. But, I see that the "criticism" is not so much about the important things such as his position on policy issues but they take the form of:

  • he is only a rock star
  • he is the world's biggest celebrity
  • he only gives great speeches
  • he is a flip-flopper
  • he has no positions on anything
  • and on and on and on.
With John McCain, it is along the lines of:

  • he's too old
  • he's too angry
  • he's vengeful
  • he's a loose cannon
  • he's not connected
  • and on and on and on.
With Barak Obama, I read where Blacks criticize other Blacks for presumably only voting for him because he's Black.

With John McCain, I read where the neocons cannot stand him but will vote for him over any Democrat and especially Barak Obama.

It is to the point where one cannot go to another's supporters and reason with them about why they feel their position is superior without demeaning, or slamming, or defining the other as the Devil incarnate.

In so many ways, it is akin to me as a Christian trying to defend my faith to a devout Muslim because both of our positions may be intractable with neither side trying to understand the history or logic of the other.

People have their own reasons for their choices I'm not sure that it would make any difference to the staunch and committed...and I can see where some would not be treated with courtesy if they tried.

I don't know if a McCain supporter or even an anti-Obama Democrat has gone to an Obama supporter's blog and tried to REASON with them about the validity of their opinion or to point out how wrong they feel they are about theirs.

When we discuss (not debate) issues, the discussion should be very black and white about what needs to be done and then the question asked who will be most effective in getting it done.

Ronald Reagan's presidency began as a cult of personality but he put together his coalition to get things accomplished. Barak Obama has to do the same thing as will John McCain in getting the neocons (who can't stand him) to work with him. Since both candidates have their deficiencies, it would seem that the only complaint people have is about style...and frankly, Obama's style is winning for him. So, rather than the right side of the aisle complaining about his "rock star status" or his "celebrity" standing...all of which is not even remotely addressing the issues because the Obama camp has said that they have made their positions known on a lot of things, the focus is on petty things like his brother in Kenya, or other inanities. EVERY politician I've ever heard of has some skeleton in their closet yet the voting public discounts those things time after time.

The politics of insult by both the Dems and Repubs obscure the underlying issues to the degree that people tune out. Those insults and slurs will not determine my vote and, if I may, pointing out why one voting bloc has disappointed another by their monolithic preference is a canard as well. Not to digress, but the politics of race is age old...and we should not expect it to stop now just because we WANT to be past it. It's a noble and wonderful ideal but whether it have been Obama today as a Black man, or Hillary as a woman, the same things would apply. Women would have overwhelmingly voted for her but would that have been any different than Blacks voting for Obama, and would they have been as excoriated as Blacks are because of their choice?

The coalitions of the willing are what determine elections today.

So, a discussion may be in order as to why one feels that John McCain (and not in opposition to what Barak Obama would or would not do...and vice-versa) would address and solve the issues that are before us.

But, I personally would like to see the entire discussion turned in that direction. Those of us here in the Great Middle would deeply appreciate it.

The entire landscape of Politics via Insult is frankly turning my stomach.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

A reach too far

Have you had the experience that no matter how hard you tried, the one thing that you really had a desire for was just beyond your reach? You improved everything around and about you just so you could be able to grasp it...that brass ring...but always fell short.Sometimes, God has just made you and your arms just long enough for those things that you can obtain...the low-hanging fruit...which will certainly strengthen and sustain you in a consistent way. The higher fruit may appear to be sweeter and more delicious but the agony of not being able to get it before it over-ripens and dies can be so frustrating.
Yet, what is it about THAT particular goal (fruit) that makes it so desirable...that sine qua non you simply MUST have? Is it because it IS just out of reach that heightens its allure? Or, is it because you've tasted fruit that LOOKED like that before so it MUST be the same?

When my friends come to me with issues or want to air out some things, the one thing that I find to be THE solution is to simply allow yourself to be patient. There are some things that I know that I simply cannot have at this time. I could, however, do many things to try to obtain them and if they are healthy for me to have, then they are worth going after no matter the effort.

However, if that brass ring is toxic or not healthy for me, the cost of having it will be just way too high. The time spent on chasing this foolish object/person could have been spent on far more rewarding things/people and, IN THE END, made one happier in the exchange.

To borrow a Star Trek reference (now, you knew I would not go too long without interjecting one, did you? ), I am reminded of the time when Spock was bethrothed to a woman who did not want him because his career would prevent him from being with her. She preferred another Vulcan (Ston) who did want her and who could be there with her. She manipulated events so that Spock could not be challenged Ston, according to custom, but by James Kirk, Spock's captain. Spock was deep into "heat" and was not even aware that he was fighting Kirk.

After it appeared that Spock had killed Kirk, he turned to Ston and said these immortal words:

"Ston, she is yours. You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. This is not logical, but it is often true." -- Spock (Amok Time)

If one were to reflect upon those words, and graft them onto their own lives, they will find that many times obtaining an object of one's desire may only lead to "buyer's remorse."

So, to think of the unreasonable as a thing that you simply must have or you "can't go on" only adds to the illogic of its obtainment. As long as one has breath, they have the means to "carry on."

I thought of this blog today as I thought back on some of the many foolish and stupid things that I have done in my life and I wonder now what was it about those things, or those people, that I simply HAD to have them? Here I am today--without them--so what was the point?

We learn many lessons along our life's road...and this is one that is certainly resonating with me today. I hope that you can see the lesson here and, if it applies to you, you can put it into clearer perspective and benefit from it.

I am no expert on many things--and I'm learning as I go. Today, I learned, or was reminded of something else:

Good money/emotions/love after bad achieves nothing...


Fighting Unfairly

It's an interesting phenomenon in my house. Air Force One and I do not fight. We may have differences of opinions or we may get upset with each other over this or that, but we do not fight. I'm not sure why that is but I do know that we like each other and, for the most part, our household is a happy one. In fact, some of Jocelyn's girlfriends have said out loud how they wished THEIR houses were like our house, or their parents were like us.

Other couples, however, fight to win. One has to be vanquished and the remainder must raise their arms in victory.

I'm afraid that I cannot understand that. I thought that if you had a "debate" about something in a relationship, the goal was to create understanding so that both of you could avoid future conflicts and continue on your mission as one unit. But, there are some people who just are downright nasty when they fight.

One of the nastier things that one will do is to dredge something up from waaaaaaaay back in the day, or to use an admission given in confidence against the other person. I recall someone saying to me, "that's why your first wife left you!" or "you always do that when..." Whoa...!

What does any of that have to do with what we are talking about now? I have seen it time and time again where one will use information AGAINST someone they are supposed to love and care about. Again, I guess they're trying to "win" when they should be doing everything they can to squelch this mess; but all they succeeded in doing is hurting the other person...sometimes badly.

I think that if people want to know why a person doesn't "open up" to them it is for that reason. Sooner or later, that information that is proffered will come back up like bad vomit and with the same caustic effect. It is one thing to have you know something to help you understand me better but not if it will come out as a stealth-delivered neutron bomb sometime down the road.

Then again, some people just like to fight! They find it exciting, I suppose, but to me it is far too stressful to consider my girl to be my enemy. If that was the case, I don't want to be in that kind of relationship.

One doesn't have to necessarily be in love with someone to show them courtesy and respect. If you are going to take the time to "take the time" then it would seem that you would want to create such beauty that it takes your breath away just to think about it.

People have developed bad habits over the years and some of them can be a deal breaker, like smoking would have been for me. But, if some of those habits are not deal breakers and they can be addressed with humor ("So, your meals come with sound effects, eh?" LOL), they may be things which the other person wasn't aware of and will gladly correct for you.

So, share your thoughts with me about fighting fairly or unfairly. Do you fight "to win?" How do you handle conflicts...even with your friends?




The Ravages of Time

The most inevitable thing next to taxes is dying. For some reason I am feeling old today. I got plenty of rest last night (turning in before 9:00 actually); maybe that's a sign in itself. I am extremely busy today and maybe the workload is wearing on me. Maybe it's just fatique as opposed to feeling old but when I looked in the mirror this morning and saw my moustache gretting progressively grayer, it sparked a tinge of sadness. Oh, I'm still the very happy and optimistic Donny that you all have come to know.

The sadness is not that I am getting old to the point of infirmity but that I am just getting older period. I am closer to 60 than I am to 50 now; in fact, I'm 3/4 of the way there and certain realities will be setting in soon. Realities such as not being able to physically keep up with Spencer which to me is one of the great sadnesses that I will face.

I was always an able athlete coming up and played all of the major sports. Having four daughters, there was never the chance for a son to see me do "my thing" out there although my girls did enjoy watching me play. The father's in my world know what I'm speaking of.

Of course, I have to temper this with the fact that Spencer was NOT planned and he was a most wonderful gift.

But, this whole process of aging is staying with me today. I think I still "look good for my age" and all that, and I pray to God that He will grant me the years and opportunities to live a good retirement like my dear friends Tinkertoy and Saraphen.

I hope to still be able to host and travel to meet and greets when they occur and continue to meet good people along the way. Ironically, I'm hosting my monthly meet and greet tonight and then traveling to Philadelphia tomorrow for Samuel Bailey's Black & White Night at the fabulous Drexelbrook Mansion. I went last year with CharJ and we had a really good time although it was so hot that night. So, look for a bunch of pictures from that.

But, back to the Aging.

We can always cite that we may be getting better as we age, and we would surely wish we had the knowledge and wisdom that we possess now much earlier in life but, doggonit, it's tough getting older. Of course, there is NOTHING we can do about it and I'm not going for anyone's face lift or tummy tuck or any Botox garbage and end up looking Burt Reynolds.

Naturally, I'm happy that the Lord is granting second chances to me each morning and I'm not unhappy with my lot in life. The opportunities to serve Him will reoccur or they won't but I will gladly accept them when and if they do. At this point in my life, I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone so the focus should be on the here and now, as well as creating a golden future for myself.

So, in the face of it all, and despite what sadness may ensue, I will continue to "dance like no one is watching" tonight and tomorrow. I hope Dredfoxx and her beloved can come by so I can finally meet her! I will continue to seek reasons to smile at and to hug a friend. I will continue to be extremely grateful for everything and try to put this moment of reflection back in the box where it belongs.

But, aside from Tink and Sara, how do the rest of you feel about your aging? Of course, Tink and Sara are more than welcome to comment but I am curious as to what the rest of you think and how you approach this inevitable thing?


Are they sellouts?

Selling out refers to the compromising of one's integrity, morality and principles in exchange for money, 'success' or other personal gain. It is commonly associated with attempts to increase mass appeal or acceptability to mainstream society. A person who does this, as opposed to following the original path s/he laid (or claimed to lay) out for him/herself, is labeled a sellout and regarded with disgust and immediate loss of respect. Selling out is seen as gaining success at the cost of credibility. Every person, from the entertainment industry, to political revolutionaries, to a Bohemian who suddenly switches to a socially conservative lifestyle, could be a sellout.

- Wikipedia

We have heard this term bandied about many times over our lives and I sometimes find it not only amusing, but hypocritical. Being a Black man, I hear this applied over and over to my people who have essentially risen up to a measure of fame and success and who are accused of being an Uncle Tom or a sellout because of it. Now, those who are calling them these names could claim that they are angry because this person has not looked back towards those who helped them to get where they are. But, I wonder if there is evidence of this (outside of that buffoon O.J. Simpson).

You see, we seem to have a problem with people who move along faster than we do. We seem to have an issue with people who were once representative of a certain "lesser" lifestyle but now represent achievement and success.

I was watching "Last Holiday" the other night with my wife. In this charming movie were Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, and Giancarlo Esposito. Of course, Queen Latifah and LL Cool J were extremely powerful rappers from the "mean streets" of New York. Giancarlo Esposito was the young man in "School Daze" who led the Que-like Fraternity and also the very angry militant in "Do The Right Thing."

These performers, along with Will Smith, Ice Cube, and Ice-T, all have become VERY successful actors and are truly prospering by leveraging their talent. In fact, Ice-T has even stated that he will no longer accept roles as a pimp or anything negative, instead playing cops. Ice Cube? One of the hardest gangster rappers ever from his days in NWA but now playing the kindly barbershop owner in Barber Shop and other like roles. Was Will Smith being a "coon" when he played Will in "Fresh Prince" or not being Black enough when he played "Hitch?"

Have these people forgotten from whence they came? I seriously doubt it, but now they may be deemed sellouts or worse because they are highly successful movie stars and who are not making movies about revolution or the struggle yet can command $20,000,000 a picture?

I also find it curious that we want other ethnic groups to truly appreciate us as Black people in areas such as comedy, business, or jazz but bristle when White performers take it and create Smooth Jazz from it. Or we have a problem with Oprah being a billionaire or Queen Latifah being worth over $200 million. I guess they just keep all that money to themselves and don't create jobs for your dumb azz with your pants down your backside and insisting on not speaking White where some hardworking person who deserves the job, works very hard in preserving the "franchise" called Oprah or Queen.

They just don't get it, do they?

I find it curious that when there are instances where no Blacks are represented, we cry racism and wonder why there are not some who are talented enough to fill those slots. But, when they ARE filled, we derisively call the Condoleeza Rices or General Colin Powells or Clarence Thomases sellouts and Uncle Toms. Not every Black person MUST be liberal no matter what definition of Black you want to apply.

We "want" to see Blacks in positions of leadership in business and politics but when we do, with a Black man running American Express and a Black man having a solid chance to be the nominee for President of the United States, we find reasons to question their Blackness. As columnist Eugene Robinson wrote, we believe with all our heart that "they" aren't ready for a Black man to be President. I submit that the "they" may as well be ourselves and not some evil cabal of old white men.

It's a blanket indictment that we place on all of our which makes very little sense.

Is it our slavery ancestry which does this? Can we not applaud the achievements of people who reach the heights of their profession without demeaning the accomplishments because it is not in the area of civil rights?

I submit that unless they feel their physical presence will elevate a certain cause to the forefront of people's concerns, they probably donate MILLIONS to various causes without wishing to have it publicized. The last frame of "Ray" showed that Ray Charles gave over $20 million to HBCUs. Did any of us know that before the movie?

On the heels of Silky's very powerful screed the other day, I'm feeling a little disappointment at the hypocricy of our people. We scream racism; we blame everyone but ourselves for our plight; and to make ourselves feel either like a noble victim or to try and convince ourselves that we are just not worthy enough, we label those who chose NOT to wait on the rest of us these horrible names.

We must all realize that we are just as diverse an ethnic group as any other ethnic group. We all do NOT have to be militant dashiki wearing radicals who won't leave to start their own country preferring to tear down a society that allows anyone to succeed. If White people don't accept your accomplishments, then create your own level of stardom. Bollywood has done so. What's our problem when they DO accept us and play jazz or become rap singers or dress in FUBU-like clothing? You DID want them to accept you, right?

I suppose that the only acceptable representatives of us today has to be 50 Cent or Shug Knight or some other such entity.

Now, I'm just making an observation here. I have probably been labeled a sellout for wanting to make honor roll and get on to college and build a better life when I was younger. I know for a fact that some man called me a "Geechie" TO MY FACE because I am gregarious and can be the life of any party. Amazing.

We have a lot to figure out about ourselves. When you have an idiot like Michael Eric Dyson ripping Bill Cosby a new one because he had the temerity to tell the truth; with Dyson seeing a chance to elevate himself rather than to address THE problem that Cosby pointed out, someone has missed the point.

We sneer and scoff at those who INSIST that we FIRST live lives of dignity and self-respect like our Muslim brothers and sisters advise us. We even blame Christianity for our plight accusing it of being a European creation; a narcotic blinding us to the ills that beset us. We blame EVERYONE but ourselves.

Our hypocricy in the face of our diminishing capacity to see beyond the limits we place on ourselves by labeling those that DO (not just who "can" but who DO) as sellouts, Toms, or whatever is incredible.

Of course, there are systematic ills in our justice system. Our justice system has a long history of racism and unfairness. But, do we produce children who can read English well enough to stay on the safe side of that system and fight those injustices? No...we prefer the bling and the things that are the TRUE narcotics that are toxins to our existence. We prefer to symbolicly bury the N-word rather than FORCE ourselves to never have that label applied to any of us because we will NOT represent a demeaning masochistic lifestyle.

No, we have a problem...a number of them. "God don't make no junk" as the saying went. But, we sure do a good job of jacking up His finished masterpiece, don't we?!



Dressing for other women

Let me first say that outside of Atlanta's Atlantic Station, downtown Washington, DC in the summer time is a girl watcher's dream! I recall when we had our Midnight Train to Georgia trip and we were at the Atlantic Station (and let me say that all of this was before I got saved! LOL), these women were killing BigDaddy and me! Three or four inch heels; skirts three or four inches above the knee; clothing that was three or four inches too tight! Gladiator bras forcing their globule nodules all up and over their opened blouses!

My goodness, one could break their necks trying to view them all. (I'll let BossLadyP tell you about her 10 year old son, Daniel, with a camera during that time. ).

I work across the street from a Verizon billing center and periodically when I'm going to lunch, or the CVS, or just look out the window you will see women come out of that building dressed in some of the tightest pressed slacks and/or jeans; in some of the highest heels; and made up as if it was a Saturday night at the club. Now, from a testosteronic point of view, "I ain't mad at them"...they look quite wonderful.

But, I have to wonder for whom are they dressing? Of course, some feminist may call me sexist for even implying that they are not dressing for themselves, but when you see them stroll past a group of other tightly dressed women, who give them a complete head-to-toe scan when they go by, I wonder if they are not dressing for each other.

Is the competition that fierce to look this way? Some are married because I've noticed their rings when they are being dropped off by their spouse. Some are not but in committed relationships having noticed the same dropping off in the morning. So, it's not for the men, is it?

And, let's not even begin with how they dress at the clubs! I've been to many a meet and greet at many a nightclub and see some outfits that looked spray-painted on.

Ladies, my sisters, help me out here. Do you dress for each other? Do you find that your girls are trying to outdress you, or you them?
What's going on here and how do you feel about it?Let me also say that there are some men who are "peacocks" but I don't recall seeing them dress specifically to impress any other guy; only the girls...

Repost: "Impatience"

Impatient. Hurried. Harried.

Do you know someone who is this way? Are you this way? What does it serve you to be so?

I know that at times I can be impatient and I truly try to check it before it becomes debilitating. When I am impatient, I unfortunately let it out on other people who don't deserve it so I try to avoid it whenever possible. Nowadays, my being impatient is rare because I am moved to take the time to consider the permutations of a choice so as to not elevate a situation or desire to a place that it does not deserve on my list of priorities.

But, let's look at it. I'm not pulling out a Bible or doing a Google search for it so this is from my perspective. As such, your perspective is certainly welcome. I find that being impatient is one of the most wasteful emotions there could ever be. I find that people who are suffering from impatience are also suffering from a personality flaw that inhibits their personal growth and their personal relationships. How many arguments can you point to that were the direct cause of impatience?

Being impatient is where you simply MUST have what you want and RIGHT NOW. In a nutshell, the entire world must stop to accommodate you and your desires. Even though what you want may not be what you really NEED but you perceive it as a need that must be satisfied at that moment.

When one throws a tantrum because they feel a need isn't being met, and when one gives in to that, and the person has now obtained the results they want, what was the cost? Did you care at all about the person(s) whose feathers you ruffled and whose day(s) you disrupted and whose calm you invaded to get what you want?

Now that you have it, what are you doing with it? Now that you have it, did it really make any difference if you got it back then or just now?

When I think of the beauty of a tree in late Autumn and the tapestry that we enjoy; when I think of the majesty of the Grand Canyon and the awesome sculpture it is; when I think of the Falls of Niagara and the power of its cascade...these are things that one is enjoying today because of the passage of time and their creation therein.

We know that time heals all wounds to borrow a phrase but it is so true that while the impatient person focuses on the immediacy of a situation, the passage of time and its soothing balm allows a total satisfaction to be experienced later.

We look at the retired person who wisely put money away for a rainy day and now is enjoying their care-free golden years reaping the patient seeds that they sowed. Did they foolishly squander their youth on things which have no lasting meaning or benefit so that their retiring years are not of peace but of struggle?

We look at the accumulative ravages of bad habits on our bodies and lives and wish them away. We look at the accumulative damage done by corrosive tempers on those around us and feel insulated but at one point do we realize that looking out for Number One meant that you were all alone and friendless or loveless and you only have yourself as bad company?

The impetus for this topic today did come from my morning spiritual program and I had to search through my life to see where I am impatient or have people in my world who are impatient and try to put it/them in perspective. I know that if time and patience are recognized and exercised, my food tastes sweeter, my paycheck or earnings from teaching are much more prized, and my sleep is sounder because I know that the peace that I have EARNED by being patient is paying off for a lifetime.

Impatience can lead to pettiness and, further, it truly is a damaging sensation to experience. One may not care what others think of them but the day will come when that impatience will cause someone to turn their back on you and you will have NO ONE to be impatient with but yourself and by yourself (no one wants to die alone, do they?).

Being patient is also a matter of allow a situation to be what it should be for all involved and not necessarily at the expense of anyone else. Some folks have trouble trusting in things/people/situations to progress to that point and thereby become impatient as a result. I find that to be an unfortunate way to live.

Be blessed...and be patient today. God has been very patient with all of us...the least we could do is...(smile)