Walking My Path.

You don’t wake up one morning and say “You know what? I don’t believe in god anymore.” It is a process. It doesn’t just happen. When you have friends, or know a family member with a story. And then you ask questions… about your faith, and yourself, then the people you trust.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior on January 17, 1991, the evening operation Desert Shield became operation Desert Storm.

I was 12.

My best friend, Eric, brought me to a youth group event at his church. They were convinced this was it, this was the beginning of the events that foretold the return of Jesus, and I had to be “saved” right now.

To me, that argument seemed pretty sound!

So I prayed with youth group leaders, and friends in the congregation. And by the end of the evening I asked Jesus to wash away all my sins and began the moral life of a Southern Baptist Christian.

That evening was not the first time I had gone with Eric and his parents to Vista Baptist Church. They were involved with the congregation. Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays most weeks, unless special events were happening. Eric’s mom was a devout ‘fire and brimstone’ Christian… and she LIVED it!

She was inspiring. The entire church was! The love and faith that pours from a Southern Baptist Church is beautiful! It moves people to stand and raise their arms to the sky. It fills the air with love and praise. Being in a service on Sunday with a good servant of the Lord, recounting the gospel’s word to hundreds of families of faith… you can’t help but sing!

The welcome feeling of love and faith was appealing to a kid from a single parent home. It was closer to the TV reality I grew up watching at home, than home REALLY was.

Eric and I participated in a religious version of Boy Scouts called AWANAS. We would receive awards based on bible memorization and understanding of different messages. Some of the kids wore the uniform and had badges and pins. It was quite involved if you really wanted to get into it. At that time, Eric and I were in Boy Scouts. It did not excite me to the same extent.

I did enjoy going to the Large music events. The organization that sprang up in the early 90s called “See You at the Pole”, where Christian youth would gather at the flagpoles before school and pray before classes started, also involved large concerts with Christian artists. I saw Carmen twice. I saw a Christian death metal band. A couple Christian boy bands. Sadly, I never got to see Amy Grant. I had her “Heart in Motion” album and I STILL know the words to the songs even though I haven’t owned that album since I was 16. One of the songs popped up on the music at Walgreen’s one day and all of a sudden I’m singing along with a B-side track off of an Amy Grant album, in the middle of the afternoon… in 2018.

I spent a lot of time going to events and being a good Christian Solider, spreading the word to as many as I could. I felt the word of Jesus and shared it with everyone. I felt a connection, and it showed. I brought my Aunt Marty to Jesus shortly after my grandfather died. I know it helped her through a difficult time in her life, as that period in time was difficult for all of us.

Less than two years later, grandma would be gone, too. It was comforting to believe there was purpose to the loss. That, even though it was not seen, there was a reason for the madness. And though we could not see it, in time, we would know… we just had to have faith.

As I got older, as is inevitable, I started asking questions. Science and math have always been my favorite subjects outside music, and a good scientist always asks questions! The answers were always the same… you just have to have faith.

I remember meeting a devotee of the Krishna Conciseness movement, and I asked him about their view of Jesus. He explained that they saw Jesus as a messenger. Jesus told the people, in that place, at that time, exactly what they needed to hear. The only way to salvation is like THIS. The kingdom of heaven lies through ME.

So, I bought a copy of the “Bhagavad Gita… as it is” with a full interpretation of the text. To help put it all into context. It was the first time I contemplated another religious text and not the bible, and it would not be the last.

Modern religions. Historical religions. Ancient religions. ALL carry similar stories. ALL teach LOVE for our fellow Man and PEACE comes from understanding. I would never claim to be a religious scholar, but every religious text I have read shares a compelling story about love. The WORDS they teach give COMFORT to families who grieve, they proclaim the ceremonies of Unions are CELEBRATIONS, and these texts anoint the new generation, when those Unions so decide. But as I grew older I could see the hypocrisy. The WORDS of Men seemed pure, but their DEEDS were pure evil.

… and it is NOT just to be thrown upon religious establishments. Unfortunately, it undermines EVERY aspect where power over weaker individuals creates profit. It just so happens this continues to this day.

I believe in the power of the SUBATOMIC. I believe in a balance of power. I believe that my actions HERE, can DIRECTLY effect someone on the OTHER SIDE of the planet… It’s spooky almost!

But I also believe that on a subatomic level, when we consider what each and every atom actually IS, that we are made up of mostly EMPTY SPACE, and yet I sit here and CONTEMPLATE… YES, don’t tell my ‘Atheist Brethren’, but some days I would call myself “agnostic”… but only SOME DAYS. Agnostic suggests someone who’s “on the fence”. No… pick a side, then let’s Move On!

Each religion, from historical to modern, shares stories that share common themes within common narratives, yet their origins are separated by thousands of years. Wise men recorded these stories to share knowledge with future generations. What elders learned in THEIR years that kept them alive, inspired by the WORD of the Creator, Universe.

As I have walked my path, seeking the answers, walking as FAR AWAY from religion as possible, I found… the answers lie within creation itself!

It can never be as brilliant as the LIGHT, it is only a spoken representation, The WORD of Universe… and We are ALL a part of it.

So, in other words- I will continue to walk my path. I continue to want to know ALL I can. I want to learn ALL I can from every religious text. I want to know the story so I can compair that with other stories, and find the commonality that lies within ALL our shared history!

And I want that opportunity to exist for ALL MANKIND, forever. Each person’s spiritual path is just that… THEIR OWN!

It is my belief, whenever someone decides to ask questions about their humanity, they should be guaranteed access to the answers… ALL OF THE ANSWERS. To make the best informed decisions… After all, on that day of judgement, there will be no one there to answer for your actions… but YOU. We all follow the path, together, the LIGHT showing us the way.

… but I am just an Athiest! I don’t have all the answers. Nor would I ever be so arrogant to claim that I did.

There’s only one way to find out for sure.

JC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do YOU Stand?

What is OUR story? What is it that WE will create? I’ve been searching for an inspiring message from Historical figures, listening to Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy, and some are so timeless, it is as if they were written this morning.

But still… I’m STILL left wanting…

I am a younger man. I have an abbreviated frame of reference, but it is of the SAME events that my grandparents have witnessed, and that somehow makes my conclusions different. Or somehow makes their conclusions more just. I believe the worst part of getting older, especially now in our Digital Social Society, is the development of an INABILITY to forget.

A five year old child tries to steal a cookie from the cookie jar, the parent sternly says “No!”, and the child snaps his hand back startled, with concern for having upset their parent… but with a smile, the child turns and chases a cat.

We have Leaders today who bear grudges born by their Fathers. We have Leaders today who do not forget the grudges held by the Founders of this Nation. Today, in the Executive Branch of the United States Government, Leaders who bear the grudges born by men, alive at the time of Jesus, hold public office.

And these are their fights, not OURS. The fights and arguments of dead men rule over Our lives ON LINE. Now, if THAT doesn’t sound upside down…

What makes Our system of governance ‘good’ and ‘just’ is the promise of a second chance, rehabilitation, “… time served.” When a man is sentenced to life in prison, and dies incarcerated, his sentence has been served. He can be interred as a free American, no less than you or I.

And be it true or not is just an opinion, but Americans MUST remember this magnificent system of justice is what EVERY human being seeks to be a part of. The VAST majority of people who dream of escaping oppression based on ancient beliefs, or enslavement based on gender. Our Constitution stands for hope for ALL people who still harbor some hope, that one day, THAT Liberty can become THEIRS.

Idealistic… maybe. UNTRUE….?

The system set by the Vision of Free Men can be thought of as the first successful computer program. All programs, in essence, are ‘ones and zeros’, ‘on or off’, question gates for an electron answering ‘yes or no’, millions per second, running through a predesigned systematic layout, to produce a desired end product.

Predesigned, systematic, to produce an end product.

What do WE want that end product to be? WHAT should that end product look like? And for whom has this product been created?

FOR ALL MANKIND.

We celebrate our Constitution, NOT because it is OURS, but because it is a document worthy of Celebration! And it is only successful because of the ability to Amend the Laws, CORRECT problems, find bugs in the lines of code. It IS difficult, it is tedious, but it IS POSSIBLE, and it MUST be done.

In this new digital landscape we traverse daily, to navigate successfully means we allow ourselves to become part of a machine. To buy movie tickets, to look at cat videos. YOU allow it. And as with OUR Constitutional Government, so too with our digitally projected self-image-

We MUST take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

We must not forget misdeeds and condemn them to the PAST, instead we must understand exactly how and why an injustice is allowed. The ‘Origin Story’ of the outcast devils that are STILL haunting the halls of Congress. THAT is how we prepare for the future.

By understanding the root of our ills. By OPENING UP and demanding an end to what is CLEARLY NOT how Our system should be. When the sign on the door says “Equal Justice Under Law”, we can NO LONGER ALLOW ‘selective service’. America must BECOME that ideological entity NOW, because we most certainly are not ANYWHERE near it today. And, if we continue down it, history stands as guide to show you how far this path really leads…

So OUR Story begins HERE. Do we continue to fight, or do we decide to conclude the discussion, and ratify these decisions?

If we pause, and examine what fuels our passions, what makes us ‘wild’, the root of the problem is SOLVABLE! It CAN be solved, and it SHOULD be solved. Because the VERY ABILITY to have a debate like this is under attack as I write these words. To characterize it as a “civil war” is a false narrative. It is as if our collective ant farm is being shaken from the outside.

… put down your sugar cube, we have to defend the Hill.

With Liberty and justice for ALL is NOT a reality show tag line. It is a blood-oath sworn, that we are called upon again to STAND UP for. Not with GUN IN HAND… with HEART AND MIND. We have envisioned, for more than 200 years, what we want for our monument, to stand through time immemorial. It is Our Constitution.

So True it shall stand, so flexible no earthquake shall bring it down.

It is to these ideals, Liberty and Equality we should ALL aspire. And it is to the same, we should STAND for and pledge our lives, or take a knee and show HUMILITY for,

The ideals of Equal Justice Under Law.

JC

“Where Were You When…”

 

There are certain movies that, as soon as the first image comes to life on the screen, you know with out a doubt, what year you are looking at. Maybe it’s the type of car that passes in the opening credits. Sometimes it’s the clothing the actors are wearing. It strikes the mood in an intended way, as directed by the script. Usually the time of occurrence is integral to the plot.

But certain movies are unavoidably tied to a specific time period due to iconic events. As soon as that is flashed on the screen, no matter when the movie is trying to portray, we automatically know this movie is history.

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As soon as you see this, you know a specific time period, specific circumstances. If you lived it, songs on the radio that summer, smells from events that took place, people you haven’t seen since then. Feelings that you felt from seeing such an amazing sight.

I hope that historians will look back at our current situation and see this image of Lady Liberty under repair, as how they describe the nation. It is a fitting metaphor for our society right now.

After hundreds of years of storms, hurricanes, earthquakes… dirt and damage due to neglect has left a noticeable mark on Liberty! The torch does not shine quite as bright as it did not so long ago. She STILL stands, but no one seems to notice the beauty as much as they used to. “Yeah, yeah… we know. What else ya’ got?”

I suppose that’s the problem with such a beautiful thing. You take for granted the idea that this powerful force stands with you everyday and you don’t stop and recognize just how wonderful it is. So many long to see her and make a point of visiting, just once, and then hope one day, they can make this place their home, too. To Us, it’s as reflexive as inhaling or blinking.

Until one day… there’s talk of changing it. What?!! There’s nothing wrong with her? Look… Keep your hands off my Lady! She’s the best thing in the world and ain’t you, or NO ONE gonna change that! You hear me?!!

Then the scaffolding goes up…

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And now, that beautiful lady we didn’t want to leave, has faded from view. It’s temporary they say, but it hurts none the less. It forces us to remember just how precious having her around really is. But even more than that, it awakens a love deep within us we didn’t know was there. Seeing things in a way not seen in hundreds of years…

My God, when she’s gone, how we ache! And the comfort, and safe feeling… I wish EVERYONE could feel that way, forever. The gift of universal love and acceptance shining brightly, we must recommit to it and reaffirm just how wonderful she is!

Anyone can tell you, after so many years, every relationship has to be worked on. It cannot just sit and “be”. As we all grow, so too must our connections to others. Things get rough from time to time, and sometimes, when something separates people, it can rekindle a passion long forgotten. It will force you to question what is the priority and what is the obstacle. Having that destination in mind, of returning to that warm embrace, clarifies and emboldens.

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And both understand, that this commitment is only an optional thing. We knew going into this, that we could change it at ANY POINT. The majority of relationships before ours have been dissolved, and odds are stacked against us. Some days its hard to see the common ground we want to achieve. Some days we think maybe there is greener grass. But there is something to be said for the comfort we get from being in a relationship with Liberty. The ability to chose, to bend, to grow. The freedom to gain scars from failed endeavors, and know a place to heal awaits us in times of trouble.

As disconnected as we sometimes feel we are, when we see her, we remember why we get out of bed some mornings. Because we gotta try and get it right… if not for me, then for Her.

Keep your head UP.

JC

 

The Breaking of a Moral Compass

During WWII, Americans were called upon to aid in the war effort. By sacrificing here, “The boys in Europe won’t go without!” When asked “What are YOU doing to fight the enemy?”, average Americans could point to their ‘Victory Garden’. That helps keep our boys fed ‘over there’! It made the war’s end seem achievable with a point of unity. Together, we can see this through. No doubt that helped win the war.

After September 11, 2001, the public ached from the sudden loss, just as at the beginning of WWII. As our anger and grief turned to concern and support for our troops in a new war, average Americans again asked what they could do to contribute to the effort, to bring closure to such a deep wound.

George W. Bush told us that we should continue our lives like before. Go buy a car. Spend money. The goal of the enemy is to disrupt your daily life. In essence… Go shopping or the Terrorists win.

THAT has improperly closed a MASSIVE wound in the Nation’s collective mindset. By the account of most observers, GWB had cute ‘mannerisms’, and that the go shopping statement was a kinda joke…. ha ha. But average Americans did as told. Having faith in the system of justice and our moral high ground seeming to be on secure footing, we did just as he asked, hoping that THIS might sooner bring an end to the pain we felt from that day’s loss.

A seemingly unending war on an idea. An idea being fought with ignorance. In order to secure ourselves, we must push away those who would only seek to help and strengthen your position. In order to fight this anger and hate, we must unite in anger and hate toward our enemy- An idea that fear and anger are the winners in a discussion of ideas.

… are you confused yet?

The enemies of Our Country are fighting this battle RIGHT NOW. The Russian attempt to influence US Elections was successful. They INFLUENCED Americans, motivated people to ACTION here in the USA, to go to demonstrations, and executed it all from OUTSIDE the US.

This was Round #1. They are ONLY getting started.

Most of us aren’t even AWARE there is a war going on.

To be Blunt for a moment…. All Americans consume a steady diet of news from an obviously deeply interested corporate media titan of one type or another. It is a fact, even if you were not fully aware of it. And no matter who you are, or what color your favorite Kool-Aid is, we ALL recognize ONE THING:

ALL of them are full of it.

Weather you consume yours with ‘red sauce’, or you prefer ‘blue sauce’, in the middle, under all that ‘sauce’… is still a big pile of it. But we are still not fully aware of the magnitude of the battle.

The problem is our bullshit is being compromised.

PROPOGANDA designed to invoke a feeling. Our enemy knows what makes us ‘tick’, and can be sneaky. There is a BATTLE going on on your smart phone, in your email box, and even on your Facebook page. You are in the crossfire everyday you participate in the virtual world. Every American, and every citizen on this planet who values free speech, is in a war.

“What can Americans do to help win the war? We Want to Help!”

This Battle will require us all to secure our individual identities. To make ourselves digitally secure. It also requires EVERYONE of us to become computer literate. To become masters of our own identities. Just as one would with a social security number and driver’s license, etc. Your virtual digital identity is even more important. So, the “Call to Arms” for the citizens of THIS moment is a simple one. The MOST EFFECTIVE WEAPON against the bad actor with bad intentions is still the same-

“Arm yourselves with KNOWLEDGE.”

Keep your head UP!!

JC

 

“…this is necessary. Life, feeds on life, feeds on this…”

“Doctor has just returned most enthusiastic and confident that the little boy is as husky as his big brother. The light in his eyes discernible from here to High Hold and I could have heard his screams from here to my farm.” 16 July, 1945

“Operated on this morning. Diagnosis not yet complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations. Local press release necessary as interest extends great distance. Dr. Groves pleased. He returns tomorrow. I will keep you posted.” 18 July, 1945

As Harry S Truman was crossing the Atlantic, on his way to Potsdam, he received the news. Humanity had just given birth to giant baby monster. As WWII engulfed the planet, claiming souls in battle and from the ‘cost of war’, a quick end to fighting was now at hand. The fortitude of our enemies was apparent. Their resolve, just as strong as ours. Truman knew who was fighting and dying in this war- the families on the farms back home in Kansas City, and countless other “back-homes” from State to State.

He made his decision with THOSE FAMILIES in mind. Good intentions. Horrible situation. Horrible choices.

A “Necessary evil”

Humanity seemed to be on the cusp of splitting the atom in the 1930s and 1940s. Just a matter of time before the theoretical became physical. The geniuses conceiving this ‘little boy’ also understood the vast POTENTIAL that could come from splitting the atom. The possibilities of vast amounts of free energy where almost tangible… so they tried to tell themselves as they tried to digest what they witnessed at the Trinity test site.

 

Trinity_test_(LANL)
Image from Wikipedia. Only known COLOR photograph of the first atomic bomb.

 

Attempting to judge the merit of these decisions is difficult. Truman made a cold mathematical calculation, less casualties > everything else. FDR decided that the US having that technology was better than Germany having that technology. Einstein brought the idea of splitting the atom to the attention of The President. (AND he created the damned theories that made it possible… way to go, Einstein!!)

Now, balance that with all we know NOW. The decisions made IN THE NOW are, tomorrow, undefinable. Example- Bugs Bunny. (…stick with me…) The Warner Bros. cartoons, the ones with GUN toting animated characters off to fight Hitler, are the “Adult Swim” or “Family Guy” of that era. I just NOW made that “Family Guy” connection, consider this… when people watch “Family Guy in 2088, how many jokes will they understand? 70 years from now? How many gags are in an EPISODE of “Family Guy”, let alone an entire SEASON?!! Yeah. wow. In the Warner Bros. cartoons, each animated short had, what… 2 or 3 pop culture references?? Family Guy is just an unbroken stream of pop culture references for 23 minutes.

SO MUCH of the NOW that those minds were dealing with THEN has evaporated. One can try to gain an understanding by reading the papers at the Truman Library, but some things are not contained in a dossier. They are only in the moment. And so it was decided. With the facts and emotions in hand, we had a baby.

Babies need THINGS to… exist. It seems that everyone involved in the conception knew what a HUGE responsibility this would be before it happened, so there had to be preparations beforehand. We might not get it right the first time, so we would probably need to practice a few times to perfect it. That would mean an assembly line of some sort… wait. I crossed my metaphors… oops. You get the idea. So… since there was no ‘Thermonuclear-Parts-R-Us’ yet-

We had to Create one.

The most honorable responsibilities imparted to the men and women in the development of our nuclear technology, past and present, are great. Humanity envisioned a method to unlock the power of the universe and manifested it in reality. At that time, we were only just beginning to see the powers of the Universe are quite inhospitable toward life. The sacred honor of protecting humanity would need to go hand-in-hand with the honor of attaining this knowledge. No less humility should be given to such a tremendous force. The ability to destroy ourselves became the tool used to protect ourselves.

The honorable and sacred duty of guarding the Nuclear Weapons being necessary at all costs, the diverse entities needed to build the arsenal were now under an umbrella of protection due to their roll in the bomb’s production.

…we must build the bombs to protect the bombs we must build the bombs to protect the bombs we must…

A COMPLEX network of INDUSTRY was put together to support the MILITARY. A MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, if you will. It had become necessary, the honorable position. “What do you do?” “I help keep America safe. I build the____ on our Nuclear weapons.”

But now, 70 years later, the honor of that duty has been minimized. “I often worry Thought will fail to wing his way home, but my fear for Memory is greater.” The honor has been exploited for profit due to the guaranteed commitment to protecting the arsenal AT ALL COSTS. Like the Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace, no matter what you throw at them, do to them, they will continue with the sacred honor entrusted to them.

And so it is with our Nuclear Infrastructure. It must NEVER be compromised. It is our protection, our assurance, that others will not use their Nuclear Infrastructure to destroy our ability to use our Nuclear Infrastructure to protect…

AT ALL COSTS.

We have reached a point were the jury must decide if the mother should be condemned for stealing the loaf of bread to feed her child. A crime that is NO CRIME. Something no one would allow to happen, yet would never look down upon. YOU MUST FEED THE BABY! It is the sacred duty.

How does this change? You make sure the mother has all the tools and support necessary so breaking the law is not an option. Education. Knowledge. Openness. Oversight. Regulations. Support.

A quote from George W. Bush, as played by Will Ferrell on SNL-

“This is HARD!”

Keep your head up.

 

Kim Jong-un vs. “…Your Mom!”

I am… a giant. At 6’4″, 175 lbs, I stand above everyone. With RARE exception, I can either see over a large crowd unobstructed or my hat (a SpongeBob SquarePants Yellow hat) can bee seen over everyone. I am instantly shocked when someone taller walks into the room. Because it never happens! I have been tall all my life. Tallest in class, tallest in the school. Taller than all but one of my teachers. (second grade, my teacher was 6’1″. I was only 5’6″.) I was the tallest kid in my elementary school at the beginning of 5th grade, but at some point that year, Mindi hit her growth spurt and passed me by a couple inches.

I think that’s the reason I had a crush on her.

When I was in Cub Scouts, around 13 yrs old, my friend Tim’s Mom was our Den Mother. I was 5’6″ or so and a mouthy thirteen year old, and she was as tough as a wolf mother, and not even 4’6″ tall… To my eyes, it was a DRAMATIC height difference. And, being a 13 year old, I liked to… um, kindly reference our differences in height…? (did anyone buy that?)

Right. I would smart off “Oh yeah? What’cha gonna do about it, shorty?”

…. quick aside here. As I write this, I have in my minds eye a scene where I am being sarcastic with Tim’s Mom. I HOPE that’s how it was? I sound like a hell-child writing it out loud! I HOPE that’s how it came across. If not, I guess, Look for my “Apologies and Retractions” section, coming soon!… sigh…

SO, smart-ass me says “What’cha gonna do about it, shorty?” And, bless her heart, all four-foot-nothing walks right up to me, serious as can be, looks me in the eyes and says “No matter how tall you get, I can ALWAYS stand on a chair.”

boom.

She was a wonderful woman. Very caring, loved her being our Den Mother. So she had earned our respect, and each of us tried to show it. And we had seen he grab Tim’s ear a time or two, so we knew NOT to piss her off!

I could not think of a better person to be engaging overseas with aggressive foreign leaders on behalf of the People of the United States. Honestly, who could make decisions that reflect the overall wellbeing of the ENTIRE US better than “…Your Mom!” I would say, in fact, IF Tim’s Mom were to run in 2020, that would be the ONLY possible opponent I could not defeat.

After all, she could just stand on a chair.

 

Race, Sex, and Gender IRL

As a white male, when I interact with humans (being socially awkward to a degree, I avoid this interaction as much as possible), I have come to expect a certain reaction from people. Maybe not reaction, a better word might be impression. As I assume all people do, they look a person in the eyes and usually see from most people some type of reaction. Inquisitive eyes, happy eyes, etc. Often, I see happy eyes looking back at me since I wear a yellow SpongeBob SquarePants hat. One of the main reasons I like wearing it.

I have learned to appreciate this, as not everyone receives this. As a young man, one of my Father’s best friends was a 6’6″ black man named ‘Magic’. His real name was Verdon, so I see why he preferred Magic. He had a chance to go pro and play for the KC Royals back in the ’80s, but due to a family illness, he chose not to try out. Very good man with a big heart. He went on to greatness when he helped my Father coach my little league baseball team, leading us to second place overall, and 1st place in the B-flight tournament.

That’s not my point… Some time after I turned 21, we went out to a local dive bar named “The Crossroads”. So, suburban Kansas City, after work. Handful of Harley-Davidsons out front,  couple of pick-ups… average white suburban hole-in-the-wall bar with darts, pool tables. This was the FIRST time I had gone out with my Uncle Magic just him and myself.

I will never forget it.

When we walked in, a quick pan across the room showed 20 to 30 middle aged white men, a handful of white, middle aged women, classic rock playing on the jukebox, people laughing can carrying on… A bar. BUT, as Magic and I walked in. He’s 6’6″ and BLACK,not brown or tan, but BLACK. I’m a 6’4″ white beanpole, maybe my whiteness helped contrast the difference, like a polar bear in a tropical forest, but EVERY set of eyes turned and trained on us. EVERY ONE. For a good couple seconds, they looked. To me, it was like a punch in the face. I stopped. I assume my mouth was agape. In my head it was! But Magic slapped me on the back and said something like “Come on, what’cha havin’?”

We didn’t outright discuss it. But I said something like “Did you see that?” He noticed that I had never seen that before. But it was obvious that he sees that ALL THE TIME. As if the situation was just another day, he blew it off and we went and grabbed a pool table.

It angered me. As I thought about it over time, I tried to empathize and thought “Maybe they don’t have a whole lotta black friends? Maybe its just Magic’s massive build?” I didn’t realize at that time. Not for many months, it didn’t occur that that situation could have been a dangerous situation. As I sit and write this now, I wonder how many times a situation like that DID turn dangerous for him. Just because he is a black man.

I look at a person and begin to size them up from the get-go. Nothing concrete, impressions can change, as they should. But a person’s outward appearance says a lot about where they come from, where they’re going. To me, in my mind, these things say NOTHING about a person’s inner character. They give information about ones decision making process, but say nothing about their future potential. I went to the Urgent Care center a few years back with a persistent cough. After an hour wait in the lobby, I went back, saw a nurse, answered the questions (where’s it hurt, how long, let’s take your temp) and then waited for the doctor. She came in, sized up the situation, and wrote me a prescription. She said, “This will take care of it. Have any problems, call or come back and see me.”

I said thank you and extended my hand to say thanks, to wrap up the evaluation and show my appreciation. She was shocked. A bit ecstatic, but shocked would be the word. As if she did not expect I would want to shake her hand, or did not receive this simple gesture of appreciation from men too often? There is a lot of assumption on my part here. Maybe she was happy I didn’t ask for Percocet or Oxy, IDK. But, to me, its seems insane that a medical professional would NOT be shown this simple gesture by everyone she evaluates.

Regardless a person’s race, gender, age, we ALL have important attributes that are valued by everyone, and we should remember to show appreciation for that. Sometimes our ignorance can come across as judgement of others if we do not express how we are feeling. Communication. It’s required by businesses of its employees to be tolerant of others differences, because we know everyone has the SAME CAPABILITIES ON THE INSIDE. As HUMANS, we ALL work the same, we are put together a bit differently from model to model, but the ‘manufacturer’ is the same. Expressing this from time to time is important.

In real life, we all want to feel we have a role to play, a place we are needed. Sometimes expressing a limitation within yourself to someone else,as a sign of empathy or compassion can change a mind, and open a dialogue once thought impossible.

Expressing our own ignorance, AND the desire to become more enlightened, will see unity FASTER than a speeding bullet. I may not know EVERYTHING, but I CAN someday, with help from others, know everything. And that is the path I am on, and I know I share this path with many others. We just gotta talk about it more often, to more people, with confidence.

And, again, being introverted, I understand it can be hard. Baby steps, right?

Keep your head UP!!