Women, an untapped resource for peace, maybe?

Wangari Maathai first African woman recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

I just finished watching Star Trek Discovery Season Four for the third time. For anyone who follows me, you might remember I’m a huge Star Trek fan. I’ve been watching Star Trek since it was first broadcast on television in 1966. Through the years this entertainment staple has changed considerably. One thing that became obvious to me while watching the fourth season was the preponderance of women on the star ship. The captain is a woman, most of the bridge crew are women, and women serve in major areas of operation throughout the ship. I’m sure the producers of this entertainment giant didn’t cast the actors for the show haphazardly. There was no doubt a message there somewhere.

When I began my blog seven years ago, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to produce a title uniquely appropriate for me. At the time, I was sixty-five-years-old and a sixteen-year survivor of cancer. Sixty-five years may not seem very old; however, when the factor of cancer is added to the mix, old is appropriate. Now, the handle old and blessed is even more appropriate. I have beaten the odds the world might have waged against me. My age has granted me the opportunity to see innumerable amounts of history unfold in this oftentimes troubled world in which we live. One thing I’ve noticed is that women are often a productive, behind the scenes calming force. They are the servers of family and community, not always eager to have their ego fed for doing what comes natural for them.

I was brought up in a family where women were strong influences on my life. I don’t mean to diminish the important role men played; however, they weren’t there in the numbers women were. Women taught me how to care, serve; how to seek peace in situations that could have escalated to the point of conflict. I remember when I first learned that women were the backbone of much of the civil rights work history attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was not a surprise to me that that was the case. It also wasn’t a surprise that Rosa Parks, a woman who refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, sparked the beginning of the thirteen-month bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Women have played invaluable roles in supporting the Black church, ensuring its sustainability from its birth until today. And although their contributions have been undeniable, they are often denied the recognition and opportunity to serve in certain roles because of Biblical interpretations that place men at the forefront of organizational leadership. When I read the Bible, I’m impressed by the important roles woman played in supporting the work of Jesus. I don’t recall Him saying anything about relegating women to the back of anything. Women were the ones who first received the message of the resurrection, were they not?

Malala youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize

I’m watching events unfold in the Russian/Ukrainian war, and I’m dumbfounded to think of any sensible reason this is even occurring in our time. One would think that in the third millennium a civilized nation would’ve reached a point where the slaughter of innocent civilians by a powerful military apparatus would be unthinkable. However, the testosterone-driven paranoia of a demagogue has brought about a state of unrest around the globe. The unrest is fueled partly by the thought that there are so many potentially threatening shoes in Putin’s arsenal left to be dropped, the nuclear option being the most frightful. Would we be in this position if a woman was in power?

Yes, I know I’m making what some might consider some broad generalities here, but I can’t help but think more women at the helm just might result in a more peaceful society where listening before guns are drawn might become the norm. I do realize that some women have developed a mentality straight out of the playbook written by men; living in a man’s world has prompted them to adapt, or risk failure. I would hope those chameleons are few and far between.

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

                                  Hurt

This is not an easy topic to write about. I’ve thought about it for a long time, and how I might address it in a blog. When I first started my blog, I told myself that I primarily wanted to write posts that were positive and uplifting. As I look back over the seven years that I’ve rented this space to share my observations about people and the various experiences they have, I realize I’ve not written very much about hurt. Of course, I’ve posted musings about my cancer and other kinds of physical discomfort, but I’ve not written much about the hurt that generates energy deep within the center of a person’s being. That hurt that occupies space within us and is sometimes triggered by a movie we’re watching, by something someone says, by a smell that reminds us of something from our past or any number of emotional encounters.

My purpose isn’t to depress you, but to offer awareness of an emotional platform we all have inside of us. A platform most of us don’t wish to visit. Sometimes it causes us to resist certain things like close relationships for fear we’ll be hurt. That fear comes from some experience/experiences we might have had decades ago. It might have occurred when we were in elementary school, middle school, or high school. At the time it happened, we might have sloughed it off as if it were no big deal. We might have wanted to be a member in good standing with the in-crowd. Bringing something that bothered us to the attention of a friend, who might have said something hurtful would have shown weakness. That word, that phrase, that act was quickly tucked away to be buried under years of lifetime experiences. Those experiences would consist of things like graduating from college, having a successful career, getting married, having children and so forth. One day, we get an invitation in the mail to a thirty-year high school reunion, and that thing, that hurtful thing rises from the deep. It hurts just as much as it did over thirty years ago. You thought you had gotten over it; however, you know that the minute you see the person who hurt you back to an exact moment in time. You’ll have to deal with the experience from long ago all over again. You feel so infantile, but the feelings are real.

I know, you’re probably thinking now that I’m speaking from my experiences. Maybe, maybe not, but as I said earlier this hurt is more universal than most of us care to admit. It is a part of that brokenness that many of us have adjusted to. The interesting thing about it is that it doesn’t prevent us from successfully moving forward in our life’s journey. I’m not a psychologist, so I’m speaking from the position of just a human being who knows we have stuff to deal with. I have no solution to offer on how to deal with such things. Okay, I’ll admit there is a bit of me in this post. You know one of the interesting things about that high school reunion is that when you see that person who hurt you, they look nothing like the little devil who caused you emotional harm decades ago. And to make matters even more confusing is that they’ve found Jesus. What are you supposed to do then?

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

Have you had a life-changing event?

From left around the table: Felicia, Martha, Hansel, me and Chris at One Africa Resort, Elmina Ghana

The title of this piece isn’t being used rhetorically. I’ve chosen it because I invite you to ask yourself that same question. I’ve had many from what I might call minor in scope to music-in-the-background, Hollywood dramatic. This question recalls getting my driver’s license at age 16, graduating high school, going to college, and graduating, being diagnosed with cancer, and surviving these past 22 years, accepting Jesus as my savior, and last but certainly not least, taking a journey to Ghana West Africa.

I’ve been a strange child all my life. That assessment isn’t mine alone. I’ve attended more than one family reunion, where we sit around and talk about days of old, and my cousins would talk about how I was strange coming up as a kid. I wouldn’t participate in many of the childhood shenanigans many of them did. I would correct them whenever they exhibited behavior that didn’t seem appropriate. One thing I felt as a child was the need to assist my mom as much as I could. Being the oldest child, left with a mother and siblings, after my father died, what else was I supposed to do?

One thing I do remember experiencing at a very young age was the emotional and mental rumbling from the big question the haunts a lot of us: Whom am I? Of course, there was a second part to that question that came much later in life, after I graduated high school.  That second part was why am I here?  Now at seventy-two years of age, I’m still asking myself these questions, even though there has been a plethora of answers presented to me throughout the years. I think there’s been a certain fluidity to my existence that forces me to reexamine answers and solutions that may have been sufficient from time gone by. Sometimes these questions cause me to pause for what seems like inordinate amounts of time. For example, I’ve been quite for a while. It’s not that there hasn’t been plenty to write about; it’s been me overthinking, starting, and stopping in my mind until I convince myself that I have nothing to write about.

It’s been two years since I made the trip to Ghana with Chris, my cousin Hansel, his wife Martha, and my oldest child Felicia. I’ve written before about that trip. It was sole stirring at a level like nothing that has come across my life’s path. Hansel died early December 2022, two years after we made our trip. Martha told me recently that he was glad he made that trip. It meant a lot to him. It meant a lot to me, too. Our little delegation from our extended family made a “trip of return” to our Motherland. A trip that was thought never to be made at the time our ancestors were kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. I recall looking out of the “Door of no Return” in Cape Coast Castle/Dungeon in Elmina, Ghana and thinking, “Oh yeah, here I am I’m back.” It’s always good to be back home, especially if the journey took four hundred years to make. It’s also good to have a since of being reconnected to a place you never thought you would be able to see.

Certainly, the experience of connecting with my God, was life-changing with hope and promises of a peaceful eternity. I also think my God wants me to experience all that I can during this leg of my journey to feel connected. Returning to Africa was a Godly blessing that affirmed that for me; a life-changing event that has changed my way of thinking about the world and my place in it.

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

      Peace be still

I hate to be agitated in any form. Yes, I know some of you have found the secret of living your life 100% of the time within, as opposed to without never being agitated by all the crazy stuff out there. At my age, I too have found the inner control mechanism that allows me to create my own joy, happiness, and peace within; however, my process isn’t always a manufacturing success. What follows is a post I made on Facebook seven years ago. It made me think and ask the question: Have I grown beyond the state of mind I operated from then? I know this isn’t a great post, but I’m doing it because it offers an opportunity for us to think on things like peace and how we should make it operational in our lives.

In my meditation this morning, I found myself thinking about agitation versus calmness. Have you ever noticed how we are so impressed by the “parting of the Red Sea, the raging of the sea with the disciples on board the boat, and other upheavals of nature” due to both natural and supernatural reasons? I’m certainly impressed by these movements of God’s Spirit amid such occurrences, but have you thought about the fact that it’s during the calm that people feel at peace and the creatures, who live amongst the water, fauna, hills, mountains, and other habitats can thrive and go about their normal activities?

Thank God for peace and tranquility. Let’s pray for more of it. Wouldn’t it be great if the evening news had no agitation of nature or society to report? Peace be still.

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

                                                                              Truth

There are several definitions for the word truth. For this post, I’m using the following: That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. I was watching the final session of the January 6 Select Committee yesterday and it was remarkable that the committee made four criminal referrals, accusing a former president of the United States of America of Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; Conspiracy to Defraud the United States; Conspiracy to Make a False Statement and “Incite,” “Assist” or “Aid and Comfort” an Insurrection. Every accusation is based on the antithesis of truth, fact, and reality. The Washington Post, through its Fact Checker Team, documented that former president Trump made 30, 573 false or misleading claims over four years. One would think that a public figure, with a profile as high as the POTUS, would work laboriously to tell the truth all the time.

I’ve heard it said that everybody lies. Honestly, I find that statement difficult to disagree with if we strictly apply the forementioned definition. We’ve all told someone that they looked fabulous (not fabulous, but nice) when they’re convinced that that new outfit has transformed them into one of the world’s most beautiful people. We don’t want to deflate their sight impaired sense of attraction. A little adjustment to what’s true, factual, and real hurts no one, right? Until they happen upon an honest purveyor of the truth, who tells them that they look perfectly dressed for an outing to a Friday night dog fight.

Truth is avoided by statements of commission and omission. It’s been that way sense the time of the garden. Depending on your spiritual orientation, or lack of any at all, you may have another benchmark moment when humankind’s propensity for lies debuted unto the stage of history. Of course, the preceding paragraph is meant with some jest, since the kinds of misrepresentation of the truth described are not sinister, or presented on a world stage, intended to hold onto power to preside over the government of an entire nation. When I think of sinister intent, the inventory of lies to commit crimes or to cover them up seems endless, and there are significant numbers of people in residence in our prison to prove that.

The truth is the quality of a word that makes us all feel good when we hear it; it’s often uplifting. There’s a Bible Scripture that says the truth will make you free (John 8:23). Of course, this scripture refers to the total truth of knowing Jesus as savior and accepting him over all other version offered of saving truth. However, even in a general sense, there is a relief and freedom that come from operating on a platform of truth. Truth provides a degree of comfort unsurpassed by anything else. Barring any mental incapacity to understand that the use of truth in all dealings provides one with every reason to walk with head held heigh, even when lies are placed before you.

Is truth that long-lost friend we look forward to seeing again someday? I prefer to think it’s the friend who’s still with us. The fact that some might try to hold it hostage is of measured importance. It will always raise its head because it’s reality and reality can’t be extinguished.

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

    Love and acceptance

“It’s a reminder that love and acceptance still have a long way to go, Colorado Springs resident Mary Nikkel said at the site.” The preceding is a quote taken from a front-page article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette November 22, 2022. Mary Nikkel was referring to the recent grizzly event in Colorado Springs, Colorado where five people were killed and eighteen were injured in an attack at a gay bar.

Another quote from the same article in my daily newspaper says the following: Since 2006, there have been 523 mass killings and 2,727 deaths as of November 19, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the United States. My little off-the beaten-path state has over 390 hamlets with populations of less than that. One might say that these numbers in no way compared to the 40,000 civilians who have loss their lives during Ukraine’s war with Russia. One might say that; however, Ukraine is in a war. The senseless loss of life in my country is the result of mentally unstable people getting their hands on a gun (s), going to a location, and ending the lives of innocent people without remorse (no war with a foreign nation is involved at all).

Mary Nikkel was making her comment relative to society’s reluctance to accept the idea that some people embrace a lifestyle that’s different. I understand what Nikkel said; however, it seems to me there’s some miscreant somewhere who’s waiting to end the life of someone at the drop of a hat for no reason at all. The idea of agape love for all, regardless of what a person believes in, sounds good to me, but it won’t happen in my lifetime.

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

The difference sixty-two years made

It’s four twenty-nine pm, near the end of the first day after falling back into standard time. Supposedly, I recovered the hour I lost in the spring when we sprang forward into daylight savings time. Funny, I don’t feel like I gained an hour. I still had to take a nap this afternoon. I guess it’s just something we old timers must do, since sleeping a full night is something from long ago. It’s been cloudy all day, with light drizzles of rain off and on. The temperature has been in the low sixties (mid-teens for you Celsius users), perfect conditions for me to rewind my memory to a time sixty-two years ago. I was just thinking about the living conditions for me then compared to now.

During the fall of 1962, I was twelve years old. On an afternoon like this, I would’ve been in the house by now sitting by the fire of our wood-burning stove. The little yellow school bus would’ve delivered me to my home in the country a short while ago. Soon after arriving home, I had chores to do, the main among them would’ve been collecting firewood for the night and toting water from my grandparents’ place a couple of hundred yards behind us. Grandpa had a pump outside from which I would manually use the handle to pump water. We were poor folks, living without indoor plumbing, and any other creature comforts one takes for granted in suburban America today. We did have electricity though, which allowed us to have a 60-watt light hanging from the ceiling in each room, a radio, and a black and white television. We picked up television broadcasts from Memphis, Tennessee forty-five miles away with an antenna affixed to the roof. The antenna had to be positioned just right, or we would find ourselves looking at nothing but snow. If there were wood logs already cut to fit the stove, collecting them, and placing them in the corner behind the stove wasn’t too bad. However, if no logs had been cut for the stove, I had to split the wood blocks taken from the wood pile.

Fast forward to November 7, 2022. I’m sitting at a desk in my home office, pecking away at transferring my thoughts to a screen on my laptop computer. By the way, we have three working computers.  As I survey my surroundings, I’m aware of many items and amenities I have today that we didn’t in 1962. I’ve already mentioned the computers. Other things include living in a house in suburbia with central heat and air, hot and cold running water, a nicely manicured lawn, proximity to stores and shops for all our material needs, automobiles that operate dependably, and collection of other items we could only see in use by white folks on television sixty-two years ago. I’ve been blessed with travel to most of the states that comprise the United States, as well as some international travel.

I’m now experiencing a very satisfying retirement that was made possible by acquiring an education of which my parents couldn’t begin to dream. Chris and I both came from similar backgrounds, with similar opportunities afforded us to find ourselves in the blessed conditions under which we now live.

It may sound like a platitude of sorts; however, I can say without hesitation that life (God) has been good to me in countless ways. There have been no coincidences here.

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

Make Others Feel Important

I felt compelled to reblog this. This post is authored by an eighteen-year-old, who exhibits the wisdom of someone way beyond her age. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying tht she has a n old soul.

I was at my favourite vegan café relishing my chocolate brownie when I witnessed two friends talking. Let’s call them Sarah and Angel. Sarah kept speaking away about her life and her problems, ranging from how her schedule is too hectic at school to how her roommate is too loud, leaving Angel with no opportunity to speak.

Similarly, yesterday I was at a dance party and I met a guy who wouldn’t stop boasting about how his family always spoilt him with luxury so he could live an opulent life. People who speak like that somehow imply that they are above and the other person is below. So I despised every moment of the time we spent with each other.

Though, it was interesting for me to witness these situations because it made me understand what makes some people more attractive than others and what makes us enjoy someone’s company…

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                                                                                Another funeral

I went to another funeral today. At seventy-two years old, being a member of a church, whose membership seems like a chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), funerals are becoming more frequent. I don’t attend a lot of funerals, unlike Chris who is much more attentive to the social and ceremonial importance of being there for people who’ve lost loved ones. I’ve had an uncomfortable relationship with funerals all my life. You might say that’s not unique; most people have that same sentiment about funerals. Maybe so, but my feeling about funerals is close in degree to how some people have a fear about dogs even when they’ve never spent any time around one.

You know how folk are known to say that funerals are the one event where only good things are said about an individual. This is said as if good things are falsely manufactured out of some obligation to social etiquette. This funeral I attended today wasn’t like that at all. It was for one of the deacons of our church. He was seventy-three. I won’t mention his name out of respect for his family. I can say without one bit of hesitation that every kind word that was spoken about this fellow was accurate. He was, as they say, the salt of the earth. His celebration of life was just that. There weren’t a lot of wet eyes from what I could see from a back pew, but there was an air of honor and respect. Everyone felt they were blessed to have known this fellow and that he would be sorely missed.

I find myself making comparisons to a lot of things these days. I’ve come to realize that’s probably something people do at a certain age. At seventy-two, I’ve had a wealth of experiences that have equipped me to make comparisons. One thing I’ve noticed is that funerals for older people don’t seem to be as emotionally devastating to those in attendance, outwardly anyway. I think it has to do with the fact that older people have been granted a good number of years to experience life. If they’ve been true to themselves and others, they’ve developed an inventory of wisdom that can be referred to by family and friends after they’re gone. It’s often said of older people that they have lived a good life. That’s not usually said of the young, whose passing is often viewed as tragic and untimely. We can’t escape the feeling that if they had been around a bit longer, they might have made untold contributions to society.

Yes, the older we get, the more opportunities to attend funerals come around. If I might be allowed to say it, the best funeral experiences are those that truly are celebrations of life, where laughter is heard in hush tones as words of commemoration are shared about the deceased. There were several moments of laughter at this funeral today. I left the sanctuary knowing more about this wonderful deacon, wonderful man, wonderful person of faith.

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