Disclaimer: This may upset you, but you

Disclaimer: This may upset you, but you can’t do what they do.

When I was a young boy, my mother was adamant about some things, like always requesting a bag from the store clerk for anything I may have purchased. Although she seldom, if ever, explained her directives, I understand now how these rules of hers were meant to keep me safe, safe from a system which would presume my guilt should the question arise. The implicit message in my house, was, “You can’t do what they do.” It wasn’t until I was nearly forty years old, before I began to rethink some of these lessons from my youth. And truth be told, I’ve seldom passed along such suggestions to those coming up behind me, because we’re past all of that, right?

I mean, we’re all so smart now, so post-racial, right? We can say and do as we please now with no consideration of the advancement of a people, right? It’s all about living our individual lives as we see fit, right? Every Sister and Brother for themselves, right?

Here is the reality. Although it can be argued that the majority of our society may see past color, a smaller, but very vocal segment cannot. They remain afraid of us, and look for any opportunity to justify their concerns (that is human nature). They are predisposed against us, they do not respect us and the truth of the matter is that some of us are not helping the situation. “But hold up, why is another man’s dysfunction my problem?” you may ask. Because when we hold each other in such low esteem, how can we ask more of anyone else? We sing and promote songs which glorify the defamation one another and yet want the utmost respect from others. Don’t get it twisted, fear is not respect. If you doubt this, just turn on the evening news. And don’t believe that how we devalue our women doesn’t play a role in all of this as well (how can we diminish our women, and not expect it to diminish our sons and daughters).

Dr. King and the Civil Rights leaders of the day understood that changing the narrative in this country would require more than peaceful civil disobedience. Certainly, that was the centerpiece of the movement, but it was also about the dignity of self. Yes, allow me to vote, allow me to shop in the very store where I work, but also respect my person-hood. “A man cannot ride your back, unless it’s bent.” Civil rights protesters as a part of their non-violence instruction were taught how to conduct themselves when engaging the white public. But in conveying all of this, a message of self-worth was also being communicated. That self-worth, was the engine behind the movement. Sure there were many others, but when I think of this dignity of self, I first think of Rosa Parks.

Now, as a man, honestly, this makes me feel some kind of way. To adjust my way of being, because of someone else’s ignorance, is unsettling to my manhood. Members of other races, don’t have to account for one another, so why should I? And yet, even today, the programming of my youth still resonates within me. I still feel the burden to be better than them, whoever “they” might be and that I represent my race well. This message was embedded in me as a child and I recognize that the stress of it has sent many a black man to early grave. This is simply one of the realities of being an easy target. But the essence of a man is defined by how he responds to his environment. Thus, regarding the realities of the day, we can cry about how far we’ve yet to go, or we can honor our ancestors and march on for the sake of unborn generations.

No, as a nation we cannot do what “they” do. And though we be an imperfect nation, might one day we be known less for the lands we conquered and more for the good news of the equality of all men and women. Let us not forget that this struggle is not with individuals, but rather the systems of control, controls which subvert the dignity of self, be they capitalism, socialism, nationalism, racism and even organized religion, when they tell us…

Fear Fear is why military spending is th

Fear
Fear is why military spending is the sacred lamb in our federal budget, even though we’re the most powerful country in the world, by a long shot, outspending the next thirteen countries combined in military spending.
Fear is why we have the highest incarceration rate (mostly, non-violent offenders) in the world by far, even though the rate of violent crime in this country is the lowest it’s been in thirty years.
Fear is why we respond to our neighbors with tanks, tear gas and snipers, when they cry out in pain and confusion.
Fear is only as powerful as we allow it to be. But if fear is a choice, why are we so afraid? I suggest that, in part, our fear is a product of the age in which we live. Even as the Information Age has blessed us with awareness, it has cursed us with an over stimulation of images and information. We’re a country of information addicts. There is a whole progression which has led us to this place (Local news, Cable News, the OJ trial, Internet access, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter), but regardless, here we are trapped in a cycle of irrational fear over the most remote of possibilities.
So, what can we do? Ironically, to survive the Information Age, I think we all need to “Reboot” regularly. In other words, we should all take periodic breaks from the constant flow of content and reattach to the real world. Start with one day a week of no social media. Once you’ve established that habit, try separating yourself from cable news (Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc…) on that same day of the week as well. Instead, read a newspaper or magazine (The Atlantic and The Economist come to mind). Sure, they report the news as well, but printed media is less stimulating and allows one to process information with more thought and less emotion. There are other things that come to mind (i.e. not posting ratchet material, for one), but this would be a great start.
Fear tells many lies. But in the end, when we are no more, there will be no mention of any nation, religion or pandemic in our obituary. History has shown us that no great empire succumbs to external threats, they collapse from within (Rome slowly eroded from lead in their water, and Egypt from relentless famines as the Sahara became more arid… hint, hint). For if we parish, it will not be at the sword of another, but rather from a lack of faith in one another. And while in this very moment fear whispers to us that we should pull back, faith calls us to reach out, step out, grab a hold and don’t let go.

Two things, First, the most dangerous th

Two things,
First, the most dangerous thing in the world is a closed mind. Secondly, Certainty is an illusion, for there is no certainty in the flesh, never was, never will be. These two facts are the bookends of fear.
We close our minds because we crave certainty, but it is a fool’s quest. Better to learn how to press on despite our fears. For if we give into fear, and close our own minds, be become the very thing that we fear.
In my faith tradition, we call this walking by faith. And dare I say that if I am never uncomfortable, then surely there is a question of whether I am truly exercising my Faith.

Struggling with demons We often see the

Struggling with demons

We often see the challenges in our lives, more specifically the demons we struggle against in our lives as some external force or situation. Meaning that we perceive that some sort of external remedy exists which can be a balm for our affliction. Ergo, often if we are depressed we think that changing our situation will bring happiness or perhaps we look for happiness in others. Many look for some new love interest because of the excitement it brings, when in fact doing so is like using duct tape to repair structural damage in your home. And truth be told, to cost of most “temporary fixes” is a far higher than we first thought. But our demons, if we allow them, will always drive us to self medicate. I spent 7 years writing a book, “To Wrestle with Darkness”, about my own demons and how I realized that these issues are innate and not something to take out on those around me. It’s simply not fair. And let’s be clear, I don’t like pain anymore than anyone else. And battling one’s own demons is painful. But I’d rather suffer through than to cause harm to any innocent. I know that often over the last 30 years our culture has preached that we need to do what makes us happy, to pursue our own truth. But I for one really question that. Every action in the universe has a cost. A price must be paid for every decision we act upon. It may not be us paying the fare, but someone will. Be it our children, spouse, significant other, family or friends. To allow a dysfunction within me to wreak havoc in the world around me is not what I want my life to be about. Granted, even still, being the flawed human that I am, my issues transcend my waking reality and seep out into the world around me. But for the purposes of this commentary, I’m stating that I strive every day, regardless of how I might be feeling on the inside, to be a blessing to others. And in turning my focus so, I slowly choke the life out of my own demons.

http://ow.ly/yf1tP

In honor of Father’s Day, let’s talk a

In honor of Father’s Day, let’s talk about what Manhood is and what it isn’t.

It’s not about always being right.
It’s about being accountable.

It’s not about the notches in your belt.
It’s about having a full heart.

It’s not about carrying the weight of the world.
It’s about bearing your share.

It’s not about being unafraid.
It’s about moving forwards anyway.

It’s not about getting your way.
It’s about putting your family before yourself.

It’s not about being the strongest.
It’s about helping those in need.

In the final analysis being a man is about doing what needs to be done.

Happy Father’s Day.

Often when we think of love, we think of

Often when we think of love, we think of low hanging fruit love, like loving babies or loving those who love us. But are we not called to a higher love, have we not claimed this love? The love we profess is not an easy thing. In fact, it’s the hardest thing. To that end…

Love is…
Loving those who despise you
Loving those who use you
Loving those who mock you

Love is…
Taking time
Making way
Letting go

Love is…
Forgiving regardless
Seeking no apology
Keeping no account

Love is…
Looking past yourself
Listening without agenda
Feeling uncomfortable

Love…
Embraces
Defers
Sacrifices

Please share as you are led.

An entire year ago, I swore an oath of s

Tuesday’s Butler/Banks Blog Tour Author is Crystal Connor.  Check out below, what she has to say.

An entire year ago, I swore an oath of secrecy when I agreed to co-write a book with

paranormal-romance author Lori Titus under the pen name of Connor Titus. The reason, in the

beginning, for the vow of silence was simply for the sake of peace.

Now this is in no way meant to be a complaint, but my fans take their jobs seriously. It takes

about a year for me to write a book, but just a month or two after announcing a new WIP that’s

all my fans talk to me about, and writing is all they want me to do.

I know some of you remember me posting in ‘Walgreens incident.’ Two weeks after the release

of Book II: Artificial Light I was standing in line in Walgreen and asked the woman in front of

me where she got her drop dead gorgeous shoes. When she turned to tell me, I was recognized,

and she demanded to know why I wasn’t at home writing. Sadly she didn’t tell me where she got

her shoes.

If my fans had found out that I had teamed up with Lori their excitement would have been

too much especially because at the time we where both working on our own books which of

course held more priority than a joint project, so we didn’t even know when this book would be

finished.

About a 3rd

saver, because we started to realize that we were going to be writing two books. And at that

moment it stopped being about peace and immediately became a trade secret.

“One catastrophe. One Town. One story told two different ways.”

We co-wrote, two, stand alone books about the same thing.

We’d never heard of anyone doing that before and because it’s such an insanely original idea

or had been done which such infrequency that the concept isn’t widely known we didn’t want

anyone finding out what we were doing and beat us to the punch.

Once the decision was made that this story was going to be told from two different points of

views, we also made the decision to not only stop working together, but to also not to talk to

each other about what was written from that moment forth. I mean we went into complete radio

silence, we didn’t even see each other’s cover until they were revealed earlier this month as

part of our blog tour. We did this because we didn’t want to influence each and judging by the

reviews that turned out to be a really good move.

After our books were shipped off to the editor Lori and I decided to interview each other for our

own blogs. Those interviews turned out to be a blast and that’s what I am going to share with you

today.

of the way into the project, the fact that mum was the word literally became a life

The Wordsmith: Ok, 1st

that you prefer Pepsi over Coca~Cola. Is that true?

off I need to get something off my chest. I heard through the grapevine

Lori: Yes, I’m a Pepsi drinker,

The Wordsmith: Oh hell no, this is a crime against the Crown. This interview is over, we’re not

friends anymore. Lol I’m just kidding.

Lori: LOL! But I drink Coke if I’m at a place and that’s what they’re selling. I still get the

specific craving for Coca Cola now and again.

The Wordsmith: Oh, okay …good save cuz I was about to send you straight to the gallows. I

write straight up horror with a service of science fiction and dark fantasy on the side. As a rising

star in paranormal romance what was it that made you want to be a part of the Mt. Empyreal

project?

Lori: I think of dark fiction as being one genre, whether it includes romance or science fiction.

I love anything that challenges the characters with something greater than themselves, and

that was definitely the obstacle our characters faced in the Keep. Since I’m a huge romantic,

something of that always comes through. I couldn’t write you a cookbook without some

reference to romance in there.

The Wordsmith: OMG that’s so true! I knew from the beginning that the story would have

elements of romance but you do it really well so I wasn’t worried. That’s one of the things that

interested me in co-authoring with you is…