What will we do?

I’m sure the world is aware of the senseless gun violence that has gripped the United States in its clutches. Yesterday we had another mass shooting in a Texas elementary school, taking the lives of at least 19 children; children, the future of our society. These budding souls won’t be around to become contributors to our country in ways that only God knows.

What follows is the content of a Facebook post my oldest child, Felicia Long Johnson, made shortly after the incident in Texas. Please note that the numbers of lives lost in her post aren’t in sync with what I previously stated; that’s because the final count hadn’t been made when Felicia made her post. I have chosen to use her verbiage exactly as she posted it.

Texas…14 lives…now 14…now…

Now we are back to debating gun laws. Debating morality while 14 people are laying in the morgue less than 9 hours after being slaughtered.

Do we really think guns are the problem?

Should we double down on parental oversight?

Should parents regulate violent video games their children play?

Should parents do better about social media time?

Should we fund school for installation of metal detectors?

Should we stop the bs and realize some of our kids are bullies and mean girls and do something about it?

The debates on stronger gun laws does nothing but continue to divide us while our coroners scrape up the remains of students and grocery shoppers.

Why are we looking to the federal government for more regulation when we won’t teach responsibility, civility, and coping skills at home?

The utter madness cannot and will not be solved by the government and its bureaucracy.

This is up to you and me. This is our community.

What will we do?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will.

P. S. I think we have too many guns in the United States. Thirty two percent of Americans say they own a firearm according to the 2021 National firearms survey. As of January 7, 2022, there was estimated to be 400 million guns in the U.S. between police, the military, and American civilians. Are we our own worst enemy?

Where does your soul want you to be?

I often wonder in my old age, how many of us listen to our souls. The title of this piece was inspired by a recent conversation I heard on YouTube. A YouTube content creator was interviewing a young man who was born and raised in Europe. His parents were born in Ghana and had moved to Europe as young adults. At the time they moved, Ghana wasn’t the economically viable nation it is today. His parents have done well in Europe, and they questioned his decision to move to Ghana; however, he’s convinced that his soul wants him to be in his ancestral homeland. From the looks of things, his soul has advised him well. He had a plan for establishing a business, contributing to the community at large and it’s working well.

Where does my soul want me to be? That’s a question of which we’re not taught the importance. I would posit that it’s the same as soul searching. It’s a question that I didn’t begin asking myself until I was in my sixties. Before then, I was consumed by trying my best to implement the model of getting an education, getting a decent job, getting a family, getting a house, getting, getting. I’ve been blessed to get and get well. This model had no module for soul searching. It was what everyone else was driven to do, thus it must have been what the universe wanted of me, too.

Of course, I must not forget my religious upbringing. As I look back on it, it did contain an avenue for soul searching, for tapping into my soul to get the answer to the question: Where does my soul want me to be? But let’s be honest even organized religion often falls short of preparing us to ask this important question. Far too many of us are focused on being a member of the religious organization to which we attend versus developing ourselves to the spiritual heights necessary to connect with our Creator and all the insights that connection offers. One clear example of that faulty connection today is the shameful exhibition of so-called fundamentalist Christians mudding the line between their faith and ultra conservative politics. I must pose this question: If Christian fundamentalist had really been in touch with their soul, ushered daily by the Judeo-Christian God, would they have supported Donald Trump?

I think I’m where my soul wants me to be today. Go ahead, ask yourself that question and wait for the answer.

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

Reasons for why I’m old and blessed

Color ribbon for Multiple Myeloma

Occasionally, I like to take stock for why I consider myself blessed. The handle I’ve assigned to my blog wasn’t done without some serious reflection. The following is a link to an article published in the Myeloma Magazine. This is a publication of the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Science. This is a bit unusual for a blog post; however, I often look for ways to share my cancer journey, in hopes that it will provide encouragement for others who might be going through some kind of arduous challenge in life.


Are alternative facts necessary?

Do you remember White House counselor Kelleyanne Conway using the term alternative facts to defend the false statement made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer back in 2017? Spicer had overstated the numbers in attendance at Trump’s inauguration, during an appearance on the news interview show Meet the Press. The phrase caught on and it was used frequently by talking heads on news shows and standups delivering comedic monologues. I found myself using it to refer to just about everything that came out of the mouths of everyone associated with the Trump administration.

It’s midterm campaign season in the United States. For anyone reading this outside of the U.S., we are quickly coming upon the election cycle that occurs mid-way between national elections. National elections are when the president and a few of our members of the U.S. Congress are elected to office.   This is the time when many folks decide that they might not have done the right thing voting for a particular party’s candidate two years ago. Now would be a good time to change the political complexion of things, give that other party a chance for the majority vote.

Political campaign season is that time that I wish I could click my heels and all the television ads, campaign signs and church visits from candidates would magically disappear. This would be a welcomed phenomenon this year. We are being bombarded with presentations of alternative facts  in television campaign ads day and night. I would love to talk about who’s doing the best job of fouling up the airways with these well-crafted presentations of outright lies. I decided a long time ago that someone campaigning for political office, who spends lies and wantonly assassinates the character of their opponent, has no substantive platform for serving anyone.

Remember the old television show Dragnet about a couple of straight-shooting detectives with the Los Angeles police department. One of them, named Joe Friday, was known for using the phrase, “Just the facts, mam/sir” when someone he was interviewing strayed beyond what he needed to know. A political candidate running on the merits of his or her track record or platform should be enough. It’s kind of like vanilla ice cream. No matter how many flavors the food industry comes up with, vanilla is always there, reliable, and trustworthy to taste better in a glass with coke poured over it.

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

          I don’t need no dadgum labels!

On my way home, a few minutes ago, I was listening to a news broadcast on National Public Radio. The reporter was talking about the possible reversal of the Supreme Court decision in Roe versus Wade, which made abortions legal in the United States. Somehow a draft of a decision has been leaked, and it’s the talk of the town. Of course, we’re being told that this isn’t an indicator of how the court will rule later. Although I tire of discussions about Roe v. Wade, that wasn’t what irritated me the most about this report. It was the incessant use of labels in association with how states might lean in their lawmaking if this historic decision is reversed. Red states versus blue states, moderates versus conservatives, progressives versus who knows what.

It seems, during these times, that everyone needs a label. It’s reminiscent of the old saying, you can’t tell the players without a card. I recall when Clinton was in the White House. He was seen as a New Democrat, centrist in his approach to governing. He had the most diverse cabinet in the history of the United States. Droves of Black people and other people of color felt good about President Clinton’s administration. I’m not writing to debate as to whether people should have felt good or not, but there was something going on back then that has hatched some unintended chickens. And these chickens are incongruous to the labels that were assigned to President Clinton and his folks.

There were reforms to the criminal justice system that were put in place under Clinton of which no one took the time to consider the consequences. The 1994 Crime Bill created tough new criminal sentences and incentivized states to build more prisons has resulted in a disaster. Some of the effects have been inequality in sentencing for Black people versus white. We’ve all heard the discussion about Black people receiving harsher sentences for crack cocaine compared to whites receiving leniency for powdered cocaine. The mandatory sentencing for crack versus power were unequal. More prison time given for crack, which is cheaper and more prone to be used and sold by people of color. Powder is more expensive and used more by whites. Oftentimes in life a rose is just a rose, no matter what else one might want it to be.

Clinton had some good labels attached to him. Those labels made most of the people of color feel good about him. I must admit, I was one of them. Now, after thirty years, we’re dealing with the effects of those tough on crime laws. President Biden is now feeling the effect of those 1990s tough on crime initiatives. Of course, he has his labels to wear also.

Rather than labels, wouldn’t it be great if we all were judged by our character and the resulting behavior that stemmed from the character traits we possess. Each person would be viewed individually. You and I would be afforded the opportunity to be known, not encased in a box that we’d find ourselves struggling to escape. Yeah, I know you have some swamp land in the Sahara Desert you’d like to sell me.

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