Pride and Respect: More Valuable Than Life?

Just in a matter of hours before writing this post, I read of a young man who was killed in an argument with a group of five other individuals. This occurred only days after the tragic and senseless killing of rapper; Nipsey Hussle. It’s the same old story repeated and multiplied across the country: Someone is involved in an argument or a personal dispute, but their pride and the need to be respected will not allow them to just walk away! There must be some type of retaliation! After all, they don’t want to be perceived as being ‘soft’ or being a ‘doormat.’ And so, they retaliate! It is at that point that the situation escalates because usually the force of the retaliation is much greater than the initial perceived wrong!

There was an Old Testament biblical ruling that stipulated an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth! The purpose of that law was to maintain an equal and even level of retaliation. In other words, it was designed to prevent much of what we are seeing today! Jesus would come along later and say: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39 ESV) But not only have we gotten to the point that it is seemingly impossible for most people today to ‘turn the other cheek,’ most people today cannot even abide by the old ‘eye for an eye’ standard! Instead of an eye for an eye, it seems that many have sunk to the standard of ‘a life for an eye! I can’t tell you the number of cases I have heard of people killed or shot, simply because the shooter ‘felt’ disrespected or wronged in some way! It seems as though, now-days; pride and respect are more important to some people than life itself! This attitude is utterly senseless and ridiculous! But what can we do?

When I was in school, I learned Math, Science, English, and some other subjects. But, the one thing I was not taught in school was conflict resolution! Whether it is taught in the schools or made a requirement before people can have children, we must find a way to re-instill the proper respect for the sanctity of human life within our culture and society! Too many of our young men and women are dying too soon! Too many mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children are crying at the graves of the victims of senseless violence! It’s not the wall at the Mexican border! It’s not even health-care or any of the other political ‘hot-potatoes’ most politicians are talking about! The epidemic of violence and senseless death is the American national emergency!

But the politicians are too busy trying to get reelected! Many of the churches are too busy preaching prosperity and running after blessings! Dads are too busy trying to close the deal at the office or playing golf at the club! Moms are too busy, trying to be like Stella and get their grooves back! But in the words of the late Marvin Gaye; “There’s got to be a way, to get some unity here today! What’s going on?”

There is no use in waiting for the politicians to pass new laws! There is something all of us can do right now! Quit looking for others to start a new initiative! It has to start with you! It has to start with me! If we, that is, just you and I, resolve within ourselves that we are going to be part of the solution we seek; the resolution will not be far away! We must stop pointing the finger and blaming others and do what we can to be part of the solution and not part of the problem!

What can we do? The next time we are offended or wronged, count to ten before any type of response! Take a deep breath and ask questions: Is the response justified in light of the offense? In other words; ‘Am I about to shoot a fly with a shotgun?’ What will be the consequence of my response when the dust settles? In other words; If I shoot the fly with the shotgun, I may or may not kill the fly, but who’s going to fix the wall? Is my pride and need for respect causing me to write a check that I cannot afford to be cashed? Is it really worth it?

There is an old ancient proverb that says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!” Will you join me in taking a step today? Will you join me in doing whatever can be done to be a positive influence on those around us? It seems a bit overwhelming! The negativity and the violence seem enormous and gigantic! But it’s really no different than the journey of a thousand miles! The journey will only be completed and the senseless violence and death that has engulfed our culture will only subside to the light of life and sanity, one step and one person at a time!

We’re So Smart: We’re Stupid!

stupid peoplePaul wrote of mankind’s rejection of God in Romans 1:22: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].” (The Amplified Bible). Wow! Isn’t that where we are today? Particularly here in America, where we claim to be more civil, sophisticated and smarter than the rest of the world! Yet in America, we have more people incarcerated per capita than any other advanced nation! As of January 15, 2015, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are 2,228,424 prisoners in the United States. That is enough to make the United States rank first in that category. The second highest number of prisoners is in China, at 1,701,344. According to the Brookings Institution, in 2013 there were 710 Americans imprisoned for every 100,000 residents. This makes the United States rank first out of thirty-four OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries ranked in that category. The average incarceration rate among the OECD nations is 115. We spend more money on education than anyone else, yet we are NOT among the list of the 3rd quarter rankings of The World Top 20 Educational Systems! According to the site: Ranking America, the United States rank 14th out of forty countries ranked in the category of cognitive skills and educational attainment!
A study by two New York City cardiologists found that the U.S. has 88 guns per 100 people and 10 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people – more than any of the other 27 developed countries they studied. Japan, on the other hand, had only .6 guns per 100 people and .06 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people, making it the country with both the fewest guns per capita and the fewest gun-related deaths. Drs. Sripal Bangalore, who works at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Dr. Franz Messerli of St. Luke’s Medical Center studied the statistics of guns per capita and gun deaths. They used firearm injury data from the World Health Organization and guns per capita data from the Small Arms Survey to put together a list of 27 developed countries.
In view of the seemingly monthly occurrences of mass-shootings in America, coupled with juvenile behavior of government on all levels, it is obvious that we are not addressing “the elephant in the room!” When we have problems, we think we can fix them by throwing more money at them! But of course, before we do that, we must conduct studies of the studies to verify the finding of the studies! Then we must have meetings to plan the meetings so that we will be more productive in the meetings! I’m sorry, but nobody told me when or where the funeral was held; but apparently, common sense has died! If it is not dead, it is definitely not as common as it used to be!
What is the elephant in the room that we don’t want to address? The fact that the basic problem in this country is something that money, studies, gun-control, and government cannot address! It is the problem of sin! Call it psychoses, social maladjustment, or whatever! The real issue in America is a matter of the spirit! Gun control or even having more guns makes no difference if we have no self-control! But self-control does not come naturally! It comes as one’s spirit is influenced by Spirit of God! But the problem there is that, in America, for the most part, at best, we have restricted God and spiritual things to church buildings on Sunday mornings. And at worst, we deny the reality of spirit, by insisting that a bad home life, mental illness and other factors are to blame and that psychology and behavior modification (Pavlov’s dogs) are the answers! But the truth of the matter is this! Some people just don’t do evil things; some people are evil! And evil is not just restricted to behavior; evil is a malady of the spirit! And the malady of the spirit can only be fixed by the God of the Bible that America seeks to restrict to the pages of the Bible!
Wow! What a mess we have made! We are seeking morality without the Author of morals! We are seeking peace without the Prince of Peace! We’re trying to make people act right while all the time denying the reality of right! In this country, we’re so smart; we’re stupid!

Do Black Lives Matter. . . Only When?

black lives matterFirst, let me preface my statement by saying I protest and detest the recent killing of Black unarmed young men by police officers in Ferguson, MO, New York City, and other places where these acts of excessive deadly force have occurred! I am in no way protesting the protests! But I am curious as to why there are so many protest against these violent acts by the police and yet so few protests against the common every-day-violence perpetrated by young Black men against other young Black men and women in Black communities across the country on a daily basis. It seems to me the subliminal message is: “Black lives matter . . . but only when taken by White police officers!”

It could very well be that the Black community has told White America by its apathetic stand on violence within the Black community that it is OK for Black people to kill Blacks but not for White people to kill Blacks! Until Black people have the same level of respect for a Black life taken in the Black community by another Black person as exemplified in the recent demonstrations, there is a double standard. It’s like the use of the n-word. In most neighborhoods, it’s alright for Blacks to use the word in reference to one another, but it is an atrociously racist word, falling from the lips of a White person! It’s like saying: “It’s OK for us to disrespect us; but it is not OK for you to disrespect us!” We’ve got to find a way to move beyond the hues of skin-tone and understand that all lives matter! The Black skin and the White skin are just coverings; all blood is red and the essential essence of every life is immaterial spirit. Every life has purpose and when that life is prematurely ended, especially by an act of violence, it is a degrading detraction from all of humanity!

A few hours prior to writing this post, I was moved tears after reading an account of a young man who was murdered trying to protect his mother from a home invader! This young man was a middle school scholar with a bright future ahead of him! But his life was viciously snuffed out by someone with a set of morals that deems it OK to rob and steal instead of working!

I know the situation in the Black community is varied and complicated and there are no easy answers. There are social and economic factors that breed a sense of hopelessness and helplessness that seems to pervade many inner-city ghettos. But, we’ve got to find a way! Smoking dope, getting high, getting laid, and shaking our butts, do nothing to solve the real problems! We need the help of the Higher Power for the wisdom and the resolve to deal with the real issues. Not only do we need the help of God, we need every life to make the contribution it was created and born to make! Every life is a minute expression of divinity! Every life has a destiny to fulfill and a contribution to make! Therefore the taking of any life in acts of violence is an assault against God and all of humanity!

So our protest and outrage shouldn’t be confined to the killing of young Black men by White police officers! We should protest, every time a mother has to bury her son because of a drug-deal gone bad! We should protest every time an innocent bystander is killed in a drive-by shooting! We should protest every time a young woman is killed in a domestic dispute by her boyfriend or husband! We should protest every time a gang-banger is killed by another gang-banger!

Yes! Black lives do matter, even when they are not taken by White police officers! Black lives matter! White lives matter! Yellow lives matter! Red lives matter! Green life matters! All life matters! The taking of any life in any unlawful and violent circumstance is reason to protest!

Premature Death and Social Suicide


As I am writing this post, I am grieved and saddened over the senseless violence that is strangling too many communities in our nation. Recently, in our own locale, we have been reeling from the tragedy of a young business entrepreneur murdered by a 17 year old for an iPhone in a Craigslist transaction! Another young father was killed trying to purchase an iPad for Christmas from a private seller! Then, there is the case of a young lady killed in a shoot-out over a hair weave sale! It breaks my heart when any one dies seemingly before their time, but it is even more heartbreaking when the death is caused by senseless violence! With all of these senseless killings happening all across our country on a daily basis, our society is, in a sense, committing social suicide! Let me show you what I’m talking about.

I believe that the God who created this world is a God of purpose. Therefore, whatever God did, does, and will do, was, is and will be for a reason and a purpose. Every individual’s birth and life means that they have a purpose ordained by God. All of us are here for a season for a reason. The primary objective for each and every individual’s life is the discovery and fulfillment of the purpose for which they were created and born. I also believe that the lengths of our lives are also tied to our purpose for life and that we are given the gift of time specifically for the fulfillment of that purpose. Therefore, there really is no time to waste or kill!

Therefore, when an individual’s life is cut short by a violent premature death, not only is it tragic that the individual will never fulfill their life’s purpose, it is also tragic because all of us will suffer loss because of that premature death! The reason we all will suffer loss is because whatever that person’s purpose was, it really wasn’t for them; it was for the rest of us! Whatever a person’s purpose; it is primarily for the benefit of others and not for themselves. In other words, my purpose is for you and your purpose is for me!

Premature death is the ultimate tragedy because it forever negates a person’s chance to fulfill their purpose! They will never make the contribution they were born to make! And because they will never make that contribution; we all suffer! But a premature death is not the only culprit that kills purpose. Many times a person’s destiny and purpose remains unfulfilled even in life because of a lack of discipline, a lack of favorable opportunities, a lack of strength and resolve or simply ignorance and selfishness. So, a person does not have to die for their purpose to die! I am convinced that many of the answers to many of societies’ ills are, even now locked up in the minds of some persons who are strung out on drugs or alcohol. The answers may be in the minds of individuals who are convinced that their lives don’t matter and therefore, they have no hope of rising up from their dire situation and making the contribution they were born to make.

But whatever the case, I beg you to make a conscientious effort to make a positive impact upon the lives of the people around you however, whenever and wherever you can! You may not be able to reach everybody; but you can reach somebody! Talk to that kid down the street! Encourage that single Mom who is about to give up on life! Be a mentor for that young man who is searching for meaning! The life you save may not be just theirs; it could very well be your own! You never know, that person’s purpose may be directly tied to your very survival! And even if there is no direct connection, there is an indirect connection because we all were put here for the benefit and well-being of one another!