Hate crimes on the rise in the USA                                       

Well, it seems we have some sick individuals in America. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that. Wait a minute, I’m not talking about covid patients, or the one-third of the American population that suffers from mild to severe chronic illnesses. I’m referring to the unseemly large number of people who hate someone of another race, gender identification or some other distinctive identifier so much that they can’t help but say or do harmful things to them. Their levels of insecurity and lack of self-worth are so pronounced that they’re driven to look toward other groups of people in some warped attempt to lay blame for all things wrong.

I just read an article in my local newspaper, reporting that hate crimes in the Unites States are at a 12-year high. The year 2020 saw an historic rise in hate crimes against Black and Asian victims. Hate crime data is kept by the FBI. Of course, the environment over the last four and a half years has been ripe for a healthy harvest of hate crimes. Short of the 2016 – 2020 White House openly endorsing the practice of hate crimes, language demonizing the alleged actions of certain ethnic groups was a regular seeding function from those hallowed walls of the people’s house. Some people in our republic sit and wait for guidance about what to think about others. Referring to the coronavirus as the Kung virus, attaching criminal status to people who seek a better life north of our Southern border and seeing no need for police reform certainly didn’t help reduce instances of hate crime.

I heard a commentary from a news reporter recently about how 911 resulted in Americans coming together. Evidently, this reporter hadn’t spoken to the thousands of Muslims-Americans who underwent attacks and humiliation of all kinds after 911. Though they might have made every attempt to be a part of the group who came together, the sick ones in our country attacked first and didn’t bother to ask questions later. I find it interesting when people, with limited capacity for appreciating other cultures, attack Sikhs. Evidently, a turbine on the head is reason enough to attack, notwithstanding the fact that the turbine worn by Sikhs look nothing like the one worn by some Middle Easterners. Sheer unadulterated ignorance is something I can’t say enough about; therefore, I won’t try to give it just reward in the amount of space I normally give all my blogs.

I fear hate crimes will be with us long into the future. Some folks just can’t get their brains around the notion that America is a part of the global village, and is now beginning to look as if it belongs

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

911 still runs deep for all of us

I posted this one two years ago. Since a reader just commented on it, I thought I would post it again

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Nine Eleven 1

Today is September 11. I sat at my keyboard early this morning, wanting to write something about September 11, 2001. Of course, that was the date of the tragedy involving the destruction of the twin towers in New York. There were many ideas circulating through my mind, but I couldn’t settle on just one. As I watched the national evening news, there were some images that cinched it for me.

Images often tell a story in a much more powerful way than words can ever do. It’s at that time when we see a certain image, the adage about “a picture is worth 1000 words” is arrestingly real. All the television news programs, local and national, devoted time to commemorating 911. The national news program I watched showed images of people standing at a podium, at the sight of 911, making comments about the loved ones they lost in the…

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 A good legacy for the community

I posted a blog on August 16, 2019, about my momma titled Momma’s Influence ( Momma’s influence – oldblessedwordpresscom). She died on July 5 of 2018 due to complications related to Alzheimer’s. This is a follow-up (kind of) to that piece.

A few days ago, a beloved cousin of mine, Linda Rhea, died from lung cancer. As did my momma, she chose to live her life in my hometown of Wynne, Arkansas, a tiny hamlet of 7, 749. I’ve written about Wynne before in a series I called From What I Can Remember. I promised myself that would write more in the series, but I haven’t done so yet. I think I need to sit down and try to remember more of my experiences growing up in Wynne.  Linda Rhea was only seventy-two years old, just one year older than I.

Funerals, family reunions and the occasional visit with relatives are the primary reasons folks who’ve moved away from Wynne make return visits. Regardless of the pandemic, my cousin’s funeral was my reason for returning to Wynne yesterday. If I might be allowed to say so, a fine funeral it was.  A large crowd of people, mostly locals and former locals came out to the Union Valley Missionary Baptist Church to show their respect. I’m not one to attend a lot of funerals and believe me at my age there are ample opportunities to be present at a lot of them. This was one I felt I needed to attend. Although I hadn’t seen a lot of my cousin over the last two decades or so, she occupied a large part of every compartment of my life growing up in Wynne.

I find the reflective part of a funeral particularly interesting and even entertaining. Of course, this is where individuals are allowed an opportunity recollect heartwarming and often poignant events in the life of the deceased. There was quite a bit of humor shared by each person who spoke. Obviously, my cousin was a person beloved by all in the community. I didn’t get a sense that those who spoke were hard pressed to find good thing to say. They spoke from the heart and the sincerity was genuine. One thing that I was pleasingly surprised by were several comments made about my momma. Yes. You heard me correctly.

One speaker commented that my cousin had said, “Now that Essie Mae is gone my life won’t be the same.” Essie Mae is my momma’s name. A couple of other speakers commented that a community is never the same when people like my cousin and Essie Mae leave us. I found it a bit odd, yet endearing that my momma, who died three years ago was being mentioned at my cousin’s funeral. Her legacy, undoubtedly, lives on in Wynne, Arkansas. My momma, known as momma to many in Wynne is still revered by the community.

Funerals are often excruciatingly sad events; however, this one wasn’t. I’m glad I attended. I’m sure Linda Rhea and Essie Mae are enjoying each other’s company again.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

A full night’s sleep: a blessing denied

I’m finding myself thinking a lot these days about days of old or is it days when I was younger. In case you’re thinking that I’m longing for days gone by, no that’s not it. Lately, I’ve been thinking about something the old folks used to say about not being able to sleep much at night. What happened to those old folks? Wait a minute, I think any mirror makes it very clear who they are now. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to rest my head on my pillow, dose off quickly and rise rested and charged up seven eight hours later, without any interruptions during the night.

Uninterrupted sleep during the night would be a much welcome gift. If you’re reading this and you have reached an age of vintage, you probably know of which speak. I’m not going to get into the stuff about visits to that room adjacent to your bedroom or just across the hall. No. I don’t want to be that personal. But I do want to talk about my uncanny ability to catnap during the night. I usually miss the ten o’clock news each night. My bed waits to greet me every night at 10:00. I think it knows I’m coming. Usually, my proverbial rubber band has become completely unwound by this time and I must address the sheets whether I’m sleepy or not. Soon as my head hits the pillows, I’m wide awake.

Let’s get back to catnapping. For some reason, I sleep, without failing, in two-hour increments every night. At the end of each two-hour nap, I’m challenged to get back to sleep. Of course, the amount of sleep I get overall depends on when I take the first nap. A while back, I decided to take the advice of Google and stop gazing into the blue screen when I first get into bed. You know all the sage advice you get about shifting into rest mode the minute you get into bed, not over stimulating yourself with digital devices. If it’s on the internet, it must be good advice, right? Well, that didn’t work. Without reading downloaded books, watching some streamed movie, or playing a video game, I found myself simply gazing onto the dark for what seemed like hours.

I’ve concluded that sleeping all night without interruption is a blessing old folks don’t enjoy, at least not this old person. Maybe the old folks I used to hear saying this had it right. Maybe my circadian rhythms have lost their rhythm. Until and if they ever get back on track, I’ll continue to use those intervals of being awake at night solving all the problems of the world and thinking about what I might blog about the next morning. In the meantime, I think the sheep are tired of me counting them. They would like to go to go to sleep.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Short-lived, dedicated service

I just walked out of the living room, after watching a special TV broadcast of the arrival of the thirteen young warriors who lost their lives to a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan. President Biden, First Lady Biden and a host of other older dignitaries were there to great the remains of these willing sacrifices, as their caskets were rolled off the aircraft that brought them to Dover Airforce Base.

The broadcast was just another special news report until pictures of the thirteen were shown on my TV screen. The oldest was only thirty-one years of age with the lowest end of the range ending at twenty. Understandably, the images showed no wrinkles, no gray hair, no outward signs of bountiful wisdom that oftentimes come with age. These weren’t seasoned warriors who had been hardened like iron against iron. Even so, as the reporter shared some biographical information about them, there was a common theme that applied to all: They were anxious to serve their country.

Many will reflect on this atrocity and ask themselves why. I wish I could come up with an answer to that question other than that they answered the call to serve, but maybe that’s answer enough. I still can’t excise the feeling from my gut that this is the senselessness of war: We invest our most valuable resource somewhere over there, rather than in the future that’s closer to home. The world is a complicated place. I realize that and my wonderings are limited in their ability to comprehend it all.

Thanks for your service, young ones.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

I dreamed of it

I grew up in the 1950s and 60s. Times were slower then. We had time to think about things, to meditate, to make sure our move was the right one. Things would happen just across the state line, and we wouldn’t here about it, sometimes, for several days. I dreamed about a lot of stuff back then. Analog allows one to dream in great, deliberate detail.

I dreamed about flying cars; we have them now. I dreamed about watch phones; we have them now. I dreamed about humankind going to the moon, we’ve done that. I dreamed about self-driving cars; we have them now. I dreamed about robots; we have them now. I dreamed about video calling; we have it now.

I dreamed about a lot of things during my first twenty years of life on the planet. With what seemed to have been lightning speed developments in technology, many of the things I dreamed about have come to pass. We have seamlessly adopted many of these technological developments into our everyday lives, taking all of them for granted. We never really miss them until there’s a power outage on the grid somewhere, or the batteries that power them run dry.

There is one thing I did dreamed about when I was younger, and it seems to be more alluding as time progresses. That thing is peace. We have been our own friend, our own enemy since time immemorial. The higher-level creatures that we are, we’ll never be able to look each other in the eye and see ourselves. As did Martin Luther King, I have a dream and I will keep dreaming. Someone else will do the same long after I’m gone.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Choose not to sing the blues

I got out of bed this morning, as usual. Well, as usual for someone seventy-one years of age does. Forty years or so ago, I used to spring out of bed. Now, I pay homage to three fellows who adorn the front of a cereal box. You know those guys: Snap, Crackle and Pop. They’re the ones who make the sound from which their names come when you pour milk over Rice Krispies cereal. Who would’ve known that my body could make such sounds?

After taking my daily bicycle ride, my other exercises, my shower, and preparing breakfast, I picked up my iPad. It provides a window to the world that lets me know what bad stuff has happened while I slumbered overnight. Rarely do the front pages of my electronic daily newspaper show anything positive.  Reports of all manner of violence, political squabbling, and other disruptive acts are there to greet me after I click the app that opens the news. If you’re reading this, there’s a good bet that you have a similar experience. Sometimes when I’m greeted with these perfect examples of poor behavior presented by others, I feel my attitude shifting into a depressive state. However, there’s one personal preservation skill I developed a long time ago: Don’t fret about it too long. It took me a while to get there; however, I’ve arrived and I’m not going back to worry land.

country girl with guitar goes on road solitary under sky

When I first gave thought to penning this piece, I found myself thinking about some of those old country songs where the guy talks about his girlfriend has left him; his pickup just broke down; and his dog has gone on to the kennel in the sky. You know the tunes. The music is twangy, and the vocals are so sad you can almost feel the blues coming on. I tend to have the same experience whenever I listen to some of the old school blues songs from the greats like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and some others. When I was much younger, I couldn’t understand why anyone would listen to any of these songs. Weren’t the people who listened to them experiencing enough blues-producing events in their own lives? Later, I came to realize these music genres had their own special appeal, and you didn’t have to commiserate with the lyrics to enjoy to artistry of the presentation.

Yes. There are plenty of things going on in our times that can bring on the blues. Just sit for a minute and think about what’s going on in the world; what’s going on in your own life; however, we all have a choice. Choosing not to sing the blues is a better choice, isn’t it?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Your story is important

This is a blog I posted three years ago. It just popped up in my memories on my Facebook page. I thought it worthy of reposting.

I hope it inspires you to tell your story.

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book stack books contemporary cup Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

In our times, blogs are being written, books are being published, talk shows are being produced in what seems to be enumerable measure. Most, if not all, of these public presentations are touting aspects of someone’s story. Have you ever thought about why someone’s story is worthy of publication, and another person investing time to soak it in? It would seem obvious; however, I don’t think most of us give much thought to the fact that that’s one of the most valuable commodities we have, our stories. Have you ever found yourself mesmerized as you listen to someone share details of some dramatic moment in their life?

There was a time, before our digitized age, when people sat around some point of reference: a fireplace, the city gate, the dinner table to share stories. Stories carried valuable information. They gave people a sense of belonging…

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Are we better than that?

There’s an epidemic in America right now. It comes and goes. Currently, it has gripped too many neighborhoods around the country. Community leaders and politicians are shaking their heads, trying to develop a strategy to combat its effects. If you’re thinking I’ve made a mistake by referring to an epidemic, after all the world is suffering from the ravages of a pandemic right now. You heard me right; I said an epidemic. The epidemic is violence. People are taking the lives of each other as if they were disposable. Politicians and community leaders are scrambling about, trying to develop strategies to deal with this issue, which isn’t new.

In my hometown, which has had a relationship with violence for quite some time, we never seem to be able to develop a long-lasting strategy for dealing with this darkest of human behaviors. I can’t think of anything too much darker than hearing a TV news anchor reporting that a toddler has been killed on the expressway by a stray bullet while riding with her family in the back seat. Whenever I hear such a story on the news, I wonder how many people who saw it were touched in a way that made their heart ache, if for only a short while.

Is there something deep within our souls that’s underdeveloped to the point that we can’t look at another human being and stop ourselves from taking a life? Can we not see ourselves in each other? Why doesn’t the image of us committing an act of violence flash before us and cause us to see the various consequences that might result? This should be enough to stop us before doing anything that we might regret. Unfortunately, emotions heated to the boiling point inhibit the workings of a sound mind and dark behavior prevails. Of course, in some cases premeditated behavior is the case where a cold heart is at work. Whatever the motivating factor, a reduction in violence in our land would be a welcomed condition.

How many times have you heard the phrase, we’re better than that? I used to be touched by that phrase, thinking that indeed we are better than the horrific event I just heard on the news; however, I’m not so sure anymore. Whenever I pose the question: If we’re better than that, why has this happened? I don’t think we’re better than what I just heard. I question whether all the shouts in the public square about how much lives matter really amount to too much of anything.

I know this piece probably doesn’t seem to support my handle: old and blessed. To the contrary, I think it does, because I’m convinced of my blessed state despite all that’s unfolding around me. I just pray that we begin to show that we are indeed better than that…

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

In the face of death

Recently, our governor called for a special session of our legislators to adjust a ban they enacted, which prevents public entities from requiring anyone from wearing a mask. Our governor, faced with the reality of our children going back to school shortly, during the surge of the coronavirus fueled by the delta variant, felt it important to do something to protect our most valuable resource. This wisdom, from on low, is just one of several legislative actions our duly elected keepers of the government hardly worked at to put in place during their biannual legislative session a few months ago.

News headlines have announced that three children have succumb to the effects of the coronavirus. I won’t go into very many details here about all that’s occurring in our state with our politicians that positions us as far from a good light as many of us wish to be, because this piece isn’t primarily about our state. It’s about what I perceive to be a detached attitude pervasive in our political leaders across America when compassion is most needed.

Wherever you may reside on the globe, you have some level of awareness about America’s affinity for guns. Death from gun violence seems as American as apple pie and baseball. Since the Columbine school incident April 20, 1999, when twelve students and one teacher were murdered in a school shooting and attempted bombing, over 300 people have died in school shootings. It was shocking to America that twelfth graders Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had perpetrated such a horrific act. Since Columbine, there have been 231 school shootings. One would think that statistics like this would incentivize most of our law makers around the country to speedily draft legislation to address gun violence squarely in its face. Of course, there are many more instances of gun violence in our great country that have added to the abysmal picture of slain bodies and disrupted families and communities, which doesn’t seem to make that much of an impact on the powers that be to do something.

I was watching an old black and white western movie the other night, High Noon, starring Gary Cooper. As I watched it, I thought of how Hollywood has promoted the romanticized notion of guns playing an important part in the lives of people. Not only guns, but the unbridled instances of violence that accompany their presence in society.

Now we find ourselves deeply buried in an onslaught like none other I’ve seen in my lifetime, the coronavirus. I know people are fatigued by the absence of normality that has overtaken us all during the last year and a half or so. People are fighting over many of the recommendation medical/scientific experts are saying we need to have in place to keep everyone safe. Mask wearing is front and center of what’s being politicize to the point of insanity. The public refrain loudly proclaiming that no one has a right to tell me to wear a mask makes little sense. Some parents would be just fine with not having their kids wear a mask while attending school. It’s that sentiment that caused many of our legislators to ignore the governor’s wishes and refuse to amend the ridiculous law they put in place. Fortunately, a circuit judge has issued a preliminary injunction against the mask-wearing ban.

In the face of death, the health and safety of our most precious resource falls prey to craziness. There’s a famous quote attributed to the preacher John Bradford who died in 1555, “But for the grace of God go I.” I for one believe this is a truism that has kept us from the looking into the face of death countless times.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.