Sunday, January 31, 2016

Is A Show About The Fallen Angel Lucifer Symbolic Of Our Fallen Moral and Ethical Values?

"The series focuses on Lucifer Morningstar, "who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell and resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the beauty of Los Angeles." (FOX)
"12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." (Isaiah 14:12-15 KJV).
 Let me begin by being clear on what this post is not. As a radio talk show host and one who is in the media, this is not about censorship or censoring; however, it is about questioning why a show would be created about the epitome and purveyor of evil. It is about questioning what the creation and viewing of such a show says about us as human beings. I keep hearing how America is in decline and how our morals and ethical values are being destroyed and it does cause me to wonder if this is not true with shows such as Lucifer premiering on FOX.

Think about the degradation we have seen over the last fifty plus years. There was a time when full body nudity, sexual acts and profanity on television and radio was only hinted or subliminally suggested. I've seen in my lifetime us move from suggestion to blatant. Lyrics in songs, particularly hip-hop/rap are barely listened to if most of the words are not F.... this or F...that or nigga' this or nigga' that. In many instances the entire song is nothing more than a string of profane words to a beat. I can remember when I was a kid, my mother disgustedly turning off the radio when Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby would come on the car radio if me and my sister were in the car. She would turn that knob with a vengeance in utter disdain that such a song would be on the public airways. Now our lyrics make Love To Love You Baby look like Mary Had A Little Lamb. I use this example to illustrate that just as Lucifer is considered the "fallen" angel, that like him our moral and ethical values could also be considered "fallen."  I am no prude or perfect, but I am not blind either. I have witnessed and continue to see the decline in the quality of all of our lives as we slide further and further into the moral and ethical abyss. We are to the point where anything goes.

In my view the creation of a show titled Lucifer is yet another example of the same progression that we have made from not being able to show or say certain things on television and radio to being able to blatantly show what used to be considered "private parts" and saying the vulgarest of words. There was a time when there was always the hint of an evil being but with this glorification of the fallen one, it is flagrant and in our face. The title of the show is Lucifer, a one word title. Does it get any more unabashed than that? Lucifer has made the big time! An entire series about him. He must really be happy now. I'm being facetious and sarcastic, but is this not ridiculous?

Do we not have enough evil in the world that we need a show about the one who seeks to kill and to destroy? Could this show be a part of the deception to perpetuate all of the evil and heinous acts occurring in the U.S. and abroad? Do we have to wonder why we keep getting what we are getting? Now I know there will be some out there telling me that this is art imitating life and my response will be that this is art perpetuating a bad and wrong way of life.

After viewing the advertisement for the show, I wondered what would be the response from the Christian community, if any?, and as I was conducting my research for this post I did learn that there are groups who have already begun to take action such as signing petitions to let FOX know of their displeasure. The next step I would think would be to stop purchasing anything from any of the advertisers and sponsors of the show. When all is said and done, the economics will speak louder than words. If the companies who sponsor the show are not patronized or receive enough negative publicity for being a part of such a travesty, Lucifer will once again be banished, this time not from heaven, but from FOX.

While I am not for censoring FOX, I am for extremely low viewing and ratings of this show based on the subject matter. I thought we had sunk to a new low with all of the "Real" this and "Real" that (housewives, husbands, preachers, etc. etc.) and the Kardashians this and the Kardashians that (which I still have yet to figure out why everything is defined by the Kardashian girls, but that's another topic for another day) but Lucifer takes us to a new low.  You can rest assured I will not be watching one episode of Lucifer as I am not that curious and secondly we see more than enough Lucifer in our daily lives. Don't believe me?, just listen to first thirty seconds of any news broadcast.

I'm sure I have made Lucifer angry now, so I guess I better watch out. As always, something to critically think about. You can hear me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET as a book talk radio host on The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. I broadcast around the world on gobrave.org and locally in the northern NJ area on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.




 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Boycotting Should Have Begun Long Before The Oscars: We Are Focusing On The Wrong End

For the last week or so, I have monitored the debate on whether to boycott the Oscars or not and found it interesting to read and hear the various viewpoints. From where I sit, we as African Americans are focusing on the wrong end. The boycotting needs to begin long before the Oscar/Academy Awards.  The type of boycotting that I am writing/talking about is not of the type that one might think given the current debate. The type of boycotting I am referring to is the lessening of our (African Americans) focus on so much entertainment.

It is astounding as to the lengths we will go in order to be entertained, yet will not place this same energy or focus on something that really matters such as economics and education. As I ride down the streets of my city, I see dish upon dish affixed on the same roof, (that's right, multiple dishes on the same house) in a city full of children who cannot read. The same holds true for cable boxes. Seriously, how much television is there? Having grown up in the era of analog television broadcasts, it is still ludicrous to me that we actually have to pay to watch television channels. The price of a movie ticket or sporting event is no better. At what point do we say enough of the madness? If you really want to impact the Academy, stop watching so much television and going to so many movies. Stop putting your money in these things. That's where the boycotting begins; not at the awards show.

I've always had an issue with the Oscars/Academy because it is indeed what it is called, an "Academy," aka "Establishment."  The "Establishment" does what the "Establishment" wants to do, hence the current debacle. Think back a few years when Halle Berry and Denzel Washington were awarded the coveted "Oscar." Think back to the roles they won the award for....... Halle Berry for her role in Monster's Ball and Denzel Washington for his role in Training Day.  If you recall an African American had not won the award for decades and in this particular year, we had not only one African American win the award, but two and not only two, but a male and a female. That was done by "Establishment" design. The "Establishment" decided to award two African Americans for roles that it saw then and still views African Americans as now.........loose, promiscuous, lascivious, whores and wild untrustworthy thugs. Both Mr. Washington and Ms. Berry had played much more powerful roles that were worthy of an Oscar, yet they received the award for the stereotypical roles of being a slut and thief. In my opinion, Training Day was one of Mr. Washington's less than stellar performances and I refused to waste my time watching Monster's Ball.  The Academy made it very clear that yes we will award you [African Americans] an Oscar, but it will be for what we [Academy/Establishment] want it to be awarded for. Truth be told, Mr. Washington and Ms. Berry ought to have not accepted the award (boycotted) on the realization of what roles they were being awarded for, but as usual we go with the flow. Even the selection of Chris Rock to host the ceremony is an "Establishment" decision.  "What do you mean we don't recognize African Americans?, we have one hosting the show." Give me a break!!

What perplexes me is that not enough of us really see the game that is going on. For those of us who do, we are told that we "think too deep," or "see things that are not there." African Americans spend far too much money on entertainment that could be better invested in much more meaningful activities and ventures. Who cares who is nominated for an Oscar or not? Would not we be better served to pool our [African American] money and start our own production companies?  Would we not be better off to define our roles in television and movies rather than have the "Establishment" define our roles for us? Why do we need to watch so much television, go to so many movies, buy so many sneakers, go to so many sporting events to begin with?

We keep supporting the very things that are keeping us [African Americans] in poverty and then want to waste even more time boycotting something such as the Oscar Awards that make absolutely no difference in our lives. Seriously, will it make a difference in the life of the average African American if an African American wins an Oscar or not? Is winning an Oscar helping our economic situation? Is winning an Oscar building African American businesses? Is it helping us own more corporations? What is winning or being nominated for an Oscar doing for us?

The following was posted in Black Enterprise in November of 2013

African-American’s Buying Power Projected to be $1.1 Trillion By 2015
Group is the second largest racial minority in the country

There are 43 million African Americans in the United States, 13.7 percent of the total population, the second largest racial minority in the country. The median age is 32 and 47 percent are under 35 years of age. 
Even with these impressive numbers and buying power most mainstream advertisers are not inclusive, do not include African Americans in media and marketing plans and have underestimated the market size.
The Nielsen Company study entitled “African-American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing,” which was commissioned by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, shows the underrepresented potential and spending power of the African American community. 
The report’s findings, which will be presented at the June conference of the National Association of Black Accountants Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, found that the African American population is an economic force to be reckoned with, with a projected buying power of $1.1 trillion by 2015.
Also worth noting, the population of African-American consumers growth outpaces the rest of the population by 30 percent. Additionally, the demographic is younger, more educated and has higher incomes than commonly believed.
According to the study: between 2000 and 2009, the number of African Americans attending some college or earning degrees has grown: 45 percent of men; 54 percent of women. Households earning $75,000 or more grew by more than 60 percent, faster than the rest of the population. African American’s average income nationwide is $47,290.
So what does this all mean in business terms? It means African Americans wield tremendous buying power. The Nielsen study showed numerous shopping trends, mostly for household, health and beauty, travel, smart phones and child related items.
“The Nielsen report is very encouraging because it shows the African American population is a tremendous financial asset to this country’s economic recovery,” says Calvin Harris, Jr. , President & CEO of the National Association of Black Accountants.
As African Americans, we do wield tremendous buying power, but in my opinion, we don't use this power wisely. Yes indeed, we are a force to be reckoned with, but again in my opinion, we don't use our force wisely. All of this quibbling over whether to boycott or not boycott the Academy Awards is a waste of time in my view because the boycotting needed to have started towards the economics of the Academy and that is by our not subscribing to so much satellite or cable television; by our not using our buying power on so many movies or so many pairs of sneakers.  By focusing our purchasing power and force to buy and invest in things that really matter for not only the race, but for the world.

I could care less as to who wins an Oscar or not because at the end of the day, the awarding of that trophy is not doing a thing to change the plight of African Americans or any other Americans for that matter. I challenge us to let's put our energy on something that really matters. Something to critically think about.

You are invited to join me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. EST as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org and FM radio WP88.7 FM in northern NJ as the host of The Reading Circle. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and/or @readingcircle01.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Flint, Michigan's Water Problem is Another Example of Placing Money (Profit) Over People



"Nearly two years ago, the state decided to save money by switching Flint's water supply from Lake Huron (which they were paying the city of Detroit for), to the Flint River, a notorious tributary that runs through town known to locals for its filth." (CNN)

 Once again industries and agencies that are supposed to support and sustain life have shown what really matters and it is not human life. Recently the story broke about the residents of Flint, Michigan who have been subjected to having to drink and use water that is filled with lead, a poison. Water, like food, medicine, medical care, insurance, education, college tuition, rent/mortgage, etc. etc. are all human life sustaining industries that are all vital to one's quality of life. Yet, ironically enough, all place profit over life. All literally extort and hold lives hostage with their focus on profit over humanity. Before we go on, I am not suggesting that these companies/industry do everything that they do for altruistic reasons as that is not what capitalistic societies do; however, when stories such as the Flint, Michigan water scandal emerges, it becomes clearly evident that human lives are not valued much compared with profits. The Flint water debacle cannot even be defended when known corrosives and poisons are in the Flint River. So I guess the authorities and experts thought it just fine that the people in the impacted communities would just ingest this polluted water in order for the state to "save money." Surely these people would be too stupid to figure it all out.

According to a CNN report, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician, began seeing a trend when she began seeing more and more concerned parents reporting rashes and hair loss in their children. After conducting some research, data showed the likely cause to be lead from the water. Her research showed that the lead levels in her patients doubled and even tripled in some cases. Lead poisoning is irreversible.

"If you were to put something in a population to keep them down for generation and generations to come, it would be lead," Hanna-Attisha said. "It's a well-known, potent neurotoxin. There's tons of evidence on what lead does to a child, and it is one of the most damning things that you can do to a population. It drops your IQ, it affects your behavior, it's been linked to criminality, it has multigenerational impacts. There is no safe level of lead in a child."
Can you imagine?  These folks have now been sacrificed for money (savings, profit). As stated earlier, this is just one example of how humans are sacrificed for profit. Within several of The Critical Thinker posts, I've referenced two books in particular that expose the pharmaceutical and food industries (Our Daily Meds and Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us) and how they exploit the general population's naivete and extort based on the needs of this same body. There are other industries with similar practices as well.

Reflectively, Dayne Walling, former mayor of Flint admitted in his own words, "You can't put a dollar amount of the devastation to our community, our kids, and it was completely avoidable." Yes, Mr. Walling, it was completely avoidable. There are so many other things that are completely avoidable as well, such as, consumers paying hundreds of dollars for one pill;completely avoidable. Thousands of dollars for one night in a hospital; completely avoidable. Cancer and other health related causing chemicals in foods and beverages; completely avoidable. The continued making and selling of toy guns; completely avoidable. The selling and buying of so-called magic bullet educational programs/curriculum; completely avoidable. Students coming out of college with more debt from their student loans than they will make in their careers during their first years out of college; completely avoidable. Frivolous and absurd government "pork barrel" projects and studies; completely avoidable. The list of "completely avoidable" activities could go on and on and it does.

So as we celebrate the eighty-seventh birthday of one who would have been appalled by and most likely still fighting the many atrocities against humanity that fit into the "completely avoidable" category (even at eighty seven), it is incumbent upon us to shake the consciousness by any means necessary of those who are making the decisions to place profits over human life. Let us not be silent. Let us write about it, speak about it, act on it, withdraw our dollars because of it and anything else that we need to do to stop the overall injustice to human life when profits are placed over life.  In the words of the one whose birthday we commemorate on this Day On of Service, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The Flint, Michigan water scandal is an injustice. Placing profits over people is an injustice.  As always, this issue is something to critically think about...........

I invite you to listen to me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) around the world via webcast on www.gobrave.org and locally in the NJ/NY area on FM radio WP88.7 FM as I host The Reading Circle book talk radio show. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.




Thursday, December 24, 2015

Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last

When I woke up this Christmas Eve morning, I shared with my wife that I was going to write a blog post today concerning how quickly time is passing and the need for us to appreciate every holiday that comes along because the truth of the matter is, none of us know when it will be the last time that we will be celebrating any particular holiday. This holds especially true for traditional family holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year's, Fourth of July and of course birthdays. Life is short even if you are blessed enough to live one hundred years, so enjoy as much of it as you can. When I say "last time," I am speaking specifically about death. Even I as the author of the post don't know if tomorrow will be my last Christmas alive or not.

Each Christmas or any of the other days that we pause from our every day mundane routines must be appreciated and celebrated with family and friends as if it were the last time that you or I will have the opportunity to share on that particular day. Truth be told, none of us know if tomorrow (12/25/15) will be our last Christmas or not or if January 1, 2016 will be our last celebration of entering a new year. I don't write this post to be morbid, morose or a "Debbie Downer," but I do write it to challenge us to be more grateful and appreciative of our time spent with our loved ones, may it be family or friends. I don't know about you, but when I hear of someone that I know of passing or transitioning, my mind immediately goes back to the last time I saw him or her and in many instances the last holiday function that we were together.

The time is out for holding grudges, being mean, staying stuck in the past, not speaking to each other, and every other negative action that one could regret when a family member or friend is gone. As I said, I had already intended to write this post today, but what really confirmed it for me was when I ran into an eighth grade classmate in what we both considered an obscure place. It was in a corner supermarket that we happened to run into each other. It just happened so that his son was getting his hair cut in a barber shop in the same little strip mall where the supermarket is located and he had stopped in to pick up something while his son was waiting his turn. My wife and I stopped there to pick up a few last minute Christmas Eve food items and lo and behold as I turned around, my classmate was standing right in front of me.  We both exclaimed, "What are the chances of seeing each other here?," yet obviously they were pretty good because there we stood. We had not seen each other in five years since our thirtieth high school class reunion. We laughed and reminisced and shared with each other just how good it was to be alive and to be able to see each other. We were genuinely happy and grateful to have crossed paths today, in fact, I told my wife that seeing Wayne, made my day.

It also brought me back to my original intent to write this post concerning our appreciating people and life. As each year passes, we are losing more and more of our loved ones and at some point we will be gone too. So I say all of this to say, truly and deeply enjoy this pause over the next week or so with family and friends. If there is someone out there who you are estranged, do everything you can to make amends. Live, Love, Laugh and be appreciative of the lives around you. Your parents, your siblings, your spouses, your cousins, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles and so on and so on and so on. Show some love this holiday season even to someone who may be angry or holding a grudge against you. It does not cost a thing to be a decent human being.

With all of that said, have a Merry Christmas and if I do not post again before the new year, have a Happy New Year. You are invited to listen to me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. The show is web streamed around the world on gobrave.org and heard locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 & @readingcircle01 and to visit my website on www.thereadingcircle01.com. May you live as long as you want and not want as long as you live. Live each day as if it were your last, because one day it will be. Something to critically think about.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lighten Up!


At a Washington press dinner thirty years ago, fun-loving Washington Redskins running back John Riggins turned to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and jovially barked, "Lighten up, Sandy, you're too tight!" If there was such a thing as going "viral" in 1985, Riggins' quip went viral. 

I relate and understand exactly where Mr. Riggins was coming from as I often tell people to lighten up as well. You see, I too love to laugh and have always been considered "Happy-Go-Lucky." In fact, I was nominated to that category in my high school yearbook by my classmates. I am often told that I laugh and/or smile regardless of how bad the situation may be. Yes, I tend to see the humor even in the most morbid of circumstances. So when someone appears tight or heavy burdened to me, I tend to offer the same advice as the former Redskins running back.

As I was thinking about those words today, it dawned on me that "Lighten Up" could be construed in more than one way. Most often we think of lightening up as taking the weight off or loosening up hence the B part of Mr. Riggins' quip of "you're too tight."  In other words, you are too serious or too rigid. But it came to me today that "lighten up" could also be interpreted as one who needs to rid themselves of the darkness that is inside of them. Depression is darkness. Anger is darkness. Fear is darkness. Jealousy is darkness. Bitterness is darkness. Holding a grudge is darkness and this list does not stop here.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in one of his speeches that "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that."  There are many parts of the Bible that mention light as detailed below:
  • Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
  • Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
  • Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
  • John 1:5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
  • John 8:12 Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
  • John 12:35 Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come on you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes.
  • Ephesians 5:14 Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
  • James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no fickleness, neither shadow of turning.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
  • 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
  • Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.  
So it would behoove all of us to "LIGHTEN UP" in order to bring some light to a dark world that is getting darker. Recent headlines such as Suicide bombing in Nigeria kills 8, Mali hotel attack: Gunmen barged in, shot at 'anything that moved' Cameroon: At least 6 killed in suspected Boko Haram suicide bombings and Paris Terror Attacks  illustrate for us just how dark our world is.

One common denominator for both definitions of  lighten up is laughter and humor. A sense of humor and laughing drives darkness from within as well as loosens up those who are tense, always serious, and rigid. According to a study by psychologists Herbert Lefcourt, of the University of Waterloo, and Rod Martin, Ph.D., now at the University of Western Ontario.Stressed-out folks with a strong sense of humor become less depressed and anxious than those whose sense of humor is less well developed. In this article printed in its entirety appearing on the MAYO CLINIC website we learn the following about laughter/humor and its benefits.

By Mayo Clinic Staff 
 When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here's why.
Whether you're guiltily guffawing at an episode of "South Park" or quietly giggling at the latest New Yorker cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that's no joke. 
 Stress relief from laughter
 A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
 Short-term benefitsA good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. 
Long-term effects
 Laughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:
  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.
Improve your sense of humor
Are you afraid you have an underdeveloped — or nonexistent — funny bone? No problem. Humor can be learned. In fact, developing or refining your sense of humor may be easier than you think.
  • Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humor boost.
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
  • Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
  • Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library's selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.
  • Know what isn't funny. Don't laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren't appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful, one.
Laughter is the best medicine
Go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you've had your chuckle, take stock of how you're feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That's the natural wonder of laughing at work.
So let's all follow the advice offered by John Riggins 30 years ago and "Lighten Up" in both senses of the phrase. Let's unburden ourselves with some things that we can let go of. Let's not be so tight and rigid because at the end of the day, it really is not that serious. We must also free ourselves of emotions such as depression to rid the darkness inside of us so that we can be light bearers in the world.

If you are a light, when you walk in a room, everyone will know it. When you are making life better for someone else, you are being a light. When you are just fun to be around, you are being a light. Reiterating Dr. King's quote,  "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that." Let's go out there and be some light.

Something to critically think about. You are invited to join me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and readingcircle01.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Who Signed Me Up For This?

I begin this post by saying this is one of the longest stretches of time between posts (August 16 - November 11)  since I began The Critical Thinker some years ago . I guess one could say I just have not been in the mood for writing because certainly there is more than enough to write for us to critically think about. I feel as if The Critical Thinker has been missing in action.

Educators reading this will agree that we all have humorous stories based on situations occurring with our students, families, and colleagues that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Teachers and administrators commonly lament that at the end of their careers they could write a book, and those sentiments are true. As we meet with each other, we share stories about what has happened in our classrooms and in our buildings that in some instances seem unbelievable but are indeed true. While many of the stories are humorous or horrifying, they also in some instances contain a bigger life lesson embedded within. With all of that said, I'm sharing one of these stories with you that for me has a life lesson interpretation within it. This story always brings a hearty laugh between me and my colleague Nancy when we reference it with each other. In fact, the question appearing in the title of this post has become a code between me and Nancy when something  is said or done in our business that does not make sense (Shhh...that's our little secret).

The story goes like this...... there was a student who was as cute as they come; however, he could be as troublesome as he was cute. Each year our school was the recipient of toys donated by a magnanimous organization who visited our school with Santa Claus. The generous donors would solicit the name of each child and some possible ideas as to what toys to bring. This would happen as early as September or October. Throughout the months leading up to the Christmas holidays, teachers would constantly remind their students about the Santa Claus visit and how their behavior could impact what gifts they received from him. The old story about the lump of coal was shared repeatedly with the students particularly those who chose not to follow the rules and our little handsome friend heard this story probably more than most; however, he chose to ignore the warnings.

One day after experiencing the actions of this student, his teacher came to me and said I know how to help this student understand the connection between his actions and consequences and the lesson will be learned when Santa Claus is here.  Well, the big day arrived! All of the lower grade students were brought into a large room in the school that had been decorated with colorful lights, tinsel, a Christmas tree and gorgeously decorated gifts. In the center of it all was the big Santa Claus chair with Santa Claus seated in it. As the children entered the room their eyes widened, their smiles broadened, and their squeals heightened. Excitement was in the air! Each teacher lined his/her class up alongside the Santa chair and each child to his/her delight spoke with the jolly white bearded man one by one. At the end of each conversation, Santa Claus gave the child a gift which ranged from a bicycle, video game, board game, doll, skateboard, to a deck of cards. If you have read this far, I am sure you have figured out which gift our little friend received.

After each class received their gifts, they were asked to assemble for a group picture. As our little friend’s class grouped to take their picture, the children stood proudly with their gifts with the exception of our little friend. With a slight stutter he turned and asked the question, "Who, who signed me up for this?" The teacher looked at me with the smile of a Cheshire Cat and as our eyes met, I knew the answer to the young man's question.

I share this story because oftentimes in life, we also ask "Who signed me up for this?," not realizing that it was our own choices and decisions that brought us whatever we received causing us to ask that question.and others such as "Why the heck am I experiencing THIS in my life?," or "Why ME? Why NOW? Why THIS?"  I'm sure we have all said, "What? You've GOT to be kidding!" Just like the student whose behavior caused the teacher to select the deck of cards for him compared with a bicycle for one of  his classmates, our choices bring about our outcomes. We reap what we sow and this student reaped a deck of cards for what his behavior had sewn from September through December.

I love metaphors and parables as they contain meanings beyond the surface. As things get challenging for me and Nancy as we lead our respective schools, we will look at each other in meetings and laugh as we both say "Who signed me up for this?" In the final analysis, the truth of the matter is, we sign ourselves up for whatever we receive based on our choices and decisions. We must ask ourselves what am I sowing? And once we have honestly answered that question for ourselves, we must then choose wisely. Something to critically think about.

I invite you to join me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time on gobrave.org and WP88.7 FM as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01. Lastly, follow me on YouTube and  download The Reading Circle mobile app on Itunes or Google.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Door Must Be Opened And We Must Be Prepared To Walk Through It



"I don't want nobody
To give me nothing
Open up the door
I'll get it myself"
James Brown - I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door I'll Get It Myself) Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

I awoke this morning to the news that long-time civil rights activist, Julian Bond, died Saturday night at the age of 75. According to CNN, Bond passed away after a brief illness in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. As I learned of this news, I thought to myself that we are losing our civil rights leaders and activists one by one and rightfully so as many of them were in their teens and early twenties, sixty years ago, placing most, if not all of them in their seventies, eighties, and nineties years of age.

It occurred to me that the torch never really was passed. In fact, not only was the torch never passed, our message or methodology was never updated to meet the challenges faced in the 21st century. Reverends Jessie Jackson who is 73 and Al Sharpton who is 60, both have contributed in their own ways at least in their minds to fight the many "isms" using and in some cases abusing the models and tactics set forth in the fifties and sixties; yet, there really has not been as a collective body anything close to the efforts made by the men and women of the civil rights movement who are now moving or have moved from labor to reward through death.

The question is always asked and has been asked since the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, who will step up and lead us now that Dr. King is gone? In some respects it is forty seven years later and we are still asking that question. In the meantime, many of our foot soldiers from that day are passing away just as Mr. Bond did Saturday night.

In my mind and at this point, I believe the more important question than who will step up and lead us? is, are we preparing ourselves to get for ourselves when the door is opened? James Brown, The Godfather of Soul aptly wrote it when he said "Open up the door, I'll get it myself."  But are we preparing ourselves to get it for ourselves?

Some may ask, well, what do you mean by preparing ourselves? and that's a great question. I mean, taking our education seriously; putting forth a spirit and desire for excellence in everything that we do; acquiring the required skills to be employable and/or entrepreneurial in the 21st century and how about just reading, researching and thinking to make informed decisions. When do we realize that our leaders who did that mighty work are now aged and passing away? When do we individually step up to make not only our own lives better, but the lives of others better as well? When do we move the ball further as our civil rights leaders set us up to do?

The list of our civil rights leaders and activists who are dying is growing longer each year and their methods and tactics were for such a time as that. Our methods today must include our looking to ourselves to do for ourselves and that only happens when we prepare ourselves. If you want to honor the lives of, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Julian Bond, Edward Brooke, Thurgood Marshall, Shirley Chisolm, Dorothy Height, Marian Wright Edelman, Coretta Scott King, Marva Collins, and so many others........ take education seriously. Acquire skills that are needed in 2015 and beyond and then learn some more. Work hard and smart. Make excellence your standard and do not lower it for anyone. Stop being content with not knowing how to read or ever breaking the assistance cycle. Start voting, even if it is for dogcatcher, make your vote/voice count. Fathers support YOUR children whether you are with their mother or not as no judge ought to have to force you to support your children financially or emotionally. Young ladies, stop classifying yourself as a "Bad Bitch," and stop dealing with men who refer to you as a bitch, thot (that hoe over there) or hoe (whore).  Boys and men, pull those pants up! As we ought not to have to know that you have on blue and white striped boxers. Stop killing each other. Enough is enough.

We all must become our own abolitionists and activists. I close as I opened with the words of The Godfather of Soul, none other than James Brown when he penned and sang, "I don't want nobody to give me nothing. Open up the door, I'll get it myself." The only thing I will add to that is, once you get it, be willing to help someone else get it for themselves too. Something to critically think about.

Listen to me live each Saturday around the world on gobrave.org and in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM as the host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01 and on Instagram @readingcircle01. Visit my website at www.thereadingcircle01.com and subscribe to my YouTube Channel Marc Medley.