Why does it seem the World around us is getting worse!

On any given day, there seems to be a new tragedy that plagues our Nation. America is a great nation, but I can’t help but ask the question, why do we hear of these tragic situations nearly daily? 

Last month it was the Church goers in South Carolina. Yesterday it was Marines in Tennessee. Time and time again we continue to hear of a new mass shooting case, while opponents of Gun Control argue that less guns is the answer, and proponents of guns argue more guns. It seems that at the heart of that they’re forgetting to look at the root causes. As some have said “Guns don’t kill people” while I agree with that statement, there seems to be no effort to get to the root cause of those instances. It seems evident that HATE is the central issue.

What kind of world do we live in where young kids now has “Active Shooter Drill” ingrained in their vocabulary?

What kind of a world do we live in where a young teenager can go out to get candy and a soda, and end up dead?

What kind of a world do we live in where a traffic stop, ends in you clinging to your life?

What kind of a world do we live in where unarmed citizens are dying in police custody?

What kind of a world do we live in where my skin color, is a motive for the violence inflicted upon me?

What kind of a world do we live in where Slavery and Jim Crow era is now looked at as Southern Heritage? I’d like to pause here briefly. It boggles my mind to comprehend how a society that was soo against Blacks prospering just a mere 50 years ago. In one breath say they’re proud of their Southern Heritage, while at the same time not recognizing that Racism was an aspect of that heritage. It’s one thing to say you’re proud of your heritage, and acknowledge the bad aspects. To remember that you’re also capable of bad thing, so that you can actively work to produce good. To simply forget about the bad aspects seems a recipe to repeat those mistakes. 

What kind of a world do we live in where Military Service members have to protect themselves living in our Country?

What kind of world do we live in where someone can say “I’m CHRISTIAN” yet openly spew hate towards the LGBT community?

These are just a fraction of the questions I find that I ask myself. The truth is I don’t know how to begin to answer many of these questions. For me part of it is a break down in empathy. How can you continue forward with any of these acts if you’ve ‘Walked a day in another person’s shoes’ A question that I love to ask is “why have you take the actions you have?” This question has always quipped my curiosity about people, to get to know and understand them beyond what I see. What is your motivation? Why did you say what you did, or more importantly what experiences have led you to your decisions? If you’re living your life and not making a conscious effort to think about many of these types of questions that I find plaguing my mind, it seems that Society as a whole may be in bigger trouble than I can imagine. Our world seems to be falling apart, is anyone going to try to address some of our faults, to make an attempt to be less violent with each other?

LIGHT Always wins out the Dark!

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Life is inherently complicated, and sometimes it’s easy to get into your groove and forget that it’s still a daily struggle. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen various topics that have sparked my interest, and I wanted to get in on the conversation. As many of you may know, this past week there was yet another Mass shooting. It feels like yet another cognitive distortion. Before Sandy Hook, we probably thought that no one would go into a school and deliberately kill young innocent children. History has thought us that we were wrong about that. For me there’s always been this type of respect for the sanctuary that is a church, at least hear in the United States. That it takes a certain kind of vile hatred to intentionally harm those at worship.

Regardless of what our Race relations look like today, there’s just a kind of un-spoke rule. That at least in your place of worship you’re free from that type of persecution. I too was wrong, hate doesn’t have boundaries. Hate is so vile it will cross any boundary to get it’s point across.

I must admit that because I haven’t directly experienced any kind of overt racism, I sometimes like to pretend that it’s not as serious a problem as some may make it. While I recognize that as a black male I have to be a bit cognizant, in recognizing that I could be the victim of racism. That people will and are judging me based on the color of my skin. I always find myself evaluating my own blackness.

What does it mean to be black? Does my skin color mean I’m predestined to act a certain way? That I’m inherently more dangerous than some people? That I’m some how a lesser educated and unambitious person that the rest?

These are questions I ask myself often, but I don’t get bogged down by the answers. I’m more focused on writing my own story and not letting society or even the color of my skin dictate who I’m to be. I’d never really thought about this before but race isn’t a genetic construct, it’s a social construct designed to help put people into broad easily recognizable categories. It’s not something necessarily designed by nature. While your DNA can tell you where you’re ancestral background has likely roots (Europe, Asia, Africa…) There is no exact biological way to determine a person’s race. This is such a surprising finding, because you hear about forensics determining the race and gender of a victim. The reality is that their answers are just statistical approximations. Yet we place so much emphasis on a person’s race.

Interestingly even for siblings who grew up in the same household, it doesn’t mean that they will have the same personalities. If we’re not guaranteed to have the same personality of people we’re directly genetically related to. Then why is it acceptable to believe that we will share similarities to those we’re not genetically related to? These attributes make the concept of race so interesting yet unnerving. The color of my skin doesn’t tell you much about me, just as you can sometimes never tell who your siblings are.

The tragedy in Charleston, SC has forced me to re-evaluate my understanding of the presence of racism in today’s world. There are many still alive today who went through the racial turmoil of the 1960s era. So the concept of racism isn’t that far removed from my lifetime. I think for us to not acknowledge that is dangerous. By remembering the past and our mistakes, we keep a constant reminder of our capacity for darkness and hatred. If we pretend that racism doesn’t exist anymore, we’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Science has show that we ALL posses an unconscious bias, that is part of the way our brain processes information. We must remember that just a few decades ago our government was the perpetrators of injustice. I don’t say this to be offensive, but rather to show how deep hatred and racism can go if unchecked. While we live in a society where our government isn’t usually the sponsors of racial attitudes, it’s not that far in our past that it has been eradicated.Desmond Tutu

I’m reminded a few lessons from the tragic events from Charleston. It’s not good for good people to always stay silent, because evil is always looking for a stronghold. If good people don’t stand up for what is right, evil will fill that vacuum. Secondly I’ve learnt that while we can feel a whole host of emotions during tragedy, LOVE should always be our focal point. My faith has thought me this important lesson about love:

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor 13.1-7. NLT

I’m happy to see the outpouring of love from the community in Charleston, which is much different from the riots and the violence that we’ve seen in others that were faced with injustice. There are many aspects of love, one of which is forgiveness for wrongs. Loving someone doesn’t mean that you won’t be angry or upset when they’ve wronged you. Loving someone doesn’t mean that you won’t set boundaries to ensure you’re not taken advantage of. I think many people get the concept of love wrong. I’ll acknowledge that I’m also continuing to evolve in my own views.
I would like to encourage ALL  who read this to take a stand towards injustice. Without your voice hate will continue to thrive. Have you ever notice what happens when you light a candle in the dark? How the light seems to dispel the dark, that no matter how small the light, it can illuminate even the darkest space. How the light seem to bring a kind of peace to any situation. So I encourage everyone to let YOUR light shine in the dark spaces, to let LOVE win over hate.

Lessons I’ve learnt from not having a Plan!

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I’ve been a bit quite in the past months, while I’ve wanted to write, I instead took time to be a bit introspective. For the past 2 years I’ve been single, and have decided to be a bit more intentional about getting a better understanding of my personality. I’ve learnt so much, and I’m also very excited to see what comes next. I’ve always been the type of person who has a plan (5 yr, 10 yr, 15 yr…). Despite my best plans my life hasn’t worked out how I thought it would. With a bit of a mix of frustration and wanting to change things, I decided to forgo any new plans, and just live and see what happens. In the past that would have scared me to death, not having a plan is going against every fiber of my being. What’s remarkable is that first of all I’m still here, I haven’t succumbed to failure, and I’ve also learnt a lot more about myself and have rediscovered my faith along the way.

What is SUCCESS!

Everyone talks about being successful, yet we all have varying meanings for what success looks like to us. At it’s root success is a kind of a Social Agreement, in order for you to be successful, it doesn’t just depend on your definition; others have to agree with you. For me my success is tied to my childhood, and family upbringing. Although I consider myself as someone who follows his own decisions. My past also determines what I see as success, the messages I’ve heard as a child back home in Guyana play a big role in my definition. Despite what I may say, having a family of my own, having a stable career, are all tied into what I consider successful. For the past several years it’s been a bit of cognitive dissonance, I know what I want, but despite my best efforts I can’t seem to quite get there. For the first time in a long time, I feel as though I may finally have the tools and drive I need to push ahead.

Fear of Failure my Nemesis

I’ve been recently reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. In one of the chapters Brene talks about how shame and fear can hijack us. Sometimes it seems that my greatest enemy isn’t others, but how I think of myself. In my mind sometimes I ask “what will others think if…” That shame of letting others seem ME is sometimes paralyzing. Of course the other thought is “will they like or approve of what I have to say?” There’s a hidden danger to that type of thinking. For example when I first started this blog, it was because I saw how my words could encourage those close to me. So I thought that if I reach a larger audience, I can help and impact more people. Somewhere along the way I became more focused on whether I received any likes, or if anyone read or commented to my posts. So I stopped writing for a bit, at least until I can write based on my initial motive. I will admit that I’m not immune to other’s impression of me. I’m learning to not attach my self-worth to what others think, that seems a quick way to end up down the negative self-talk and depression roads. Sharing something that is special to me with others without regard for whether they like it is a way to be more authentic. I have to learn how to not let my worth be dictated by how others perceive me.

Not everyone will like or agree with you!

I tend to be a bit more logical in my thinking, I’m an INTJ on the Myers/Briggs if you follow those types of Personality Inventories. Making decisions based on emotional appeals doesn’t usually work on me. As a result I can seem a bit stubborn to most people, where others may have a strong emotional connection to a decision; I tend to be more logical and practical. With each passing moment and day, I think carefully about decisions I make. I decide what is best for me, and I know that others will disagree with me. I’m ok with that, afterall I’m making the best decisions for my life, while they’re doing what’s best for them. Of course the hope is that with those close to you those decisions will overlap.

(It was a few weeks since I originally started writing this post) I’d like to end with another quote from Daring Greatly

Perfection is the enemy of done.”

For me that means that regardless of whether I think this post is good enough, I should post it. I got the opportunity to visit New York for my lil sister’s Graduation, it’s funny that I still think of her as a little kid, but she’s a grown woman. Being back in New York, served several purposes. Of course the most important was to see my sister Graduate College. I also had a few brief moments where I was able to relish in the thought that, I’m at a stage in my life where I can take off for a few weeks to go to New York. Despite what I may think of myself, or my lack of career progress, I still have the time, energy, and resources to take trips like that. For that I’m grateful and feel blessed.

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Doubt, Fear, and Shame. The enemy of Happiness!!

“God’s promises are not contingent on my feelings or my failures” – Renee Swope

Aside from feeling a bit under the weather, I’ve been feeling a wave of doubt clouding my thoughts. Doubts about my future, whether I’ll accomplish the things I desire. Will I remain single longer, but then again I’m not exactly looking for a relationship either. I’ve been focusing my time on discovering what traits are important to me, so that when I do search for a life-partner I’ll already know what traits are most important to me. While I’m generally a positive person, there are moments when I don’t feel so optimistic about the future, but I suppose everyone has those moments.

What’s the source of my turmoil!

It’s interesting that when I started to feel doubtful, it wasn’t prompted by someone telling me I wasn’t going to succeed. My doubt came from within, I was my own critic. As I thought of that, I remember telling a friend earlier this week, “surround yourself with people that will lift you up.” I believe I also commented in someone else’s post telling them “when you’re hearing doubt, it’s more than likely that it’s coming from YOU” Then here I was a few days later falling into the same trap. It’s interesting to me though where my answers come from. Just as my doubt started internally, with prayer and reflection, the answer usually comes from within also. I’m not saying that I alone can solve my own problems, but I do believe that God/the Universe (depending on your beliefs) gives you the answers to your questions. By being plugged into yourself and your spirit, you will often hear the answers from within, and if you’re not plugged in someone will tell you that message.

Loving yourself first is the first step!

It’s not easy to admit, but sometimes being single can be awfully lonely. Of course with your single status you have the freedom to carve out your own path. This weekend I went out on one of my usual Sunday/Funday Hikes in the Mountains. It’s always fascinating how beautiful nature is, and it gave me time to reflect and be in my own thoughts. Being ok with the silence is definitely a good indicator of your level of self-love. In those moments what’s the message you hear? If it’s positive and hopeful, chances are you’re doing good on the self-love continuum. Of course the opposite is true, if you’re playing out thoughts such as “you’re not enough” “beautiful enough” “smart enough” etc. Chances are you need to work on loving yourself better. I read recently in a post “it’s ok to give yourself a break” sometimes we’re our worse critic, and we have to remember that sometimes we’re the only one talking bad to our-self.

Enjoy the stage you’re in!

As a closet planner and goal-oriented person, I feel as though I always have to be working towards something. I’m taking a bit of a different approach now. My faith teaches me that I’m “Right where I’m needed”, I believe that my life is divinely planned, and while it’s important for me to make some plans, I also have to follow where my spirit leads me. It’s hard for me to relinquish control and to not have EVERYTHING planned out. A friend sent me 2 quotes that I’d like to share:

Stay single until someone actually compliments your life in a way that it makes it better to not be single. If not, it’s not worth it.

Being single doesn’t mean no one wants you; it means God is still busy writing your love story.

Both these things ring true, I’ve written in length in previous posts that relationships should be mutually beneficial. Meaning that both people should be helping the other be their best self. I heard on the radio today “a marriage should be two people dutifully sacrificing everything for the other person, that is the meaning of a marriage.” Being single doesn’t’ have to be a stigma, after-all aren’t relationships about being happy, why be in a relationship if it means you’ll be unhappy. So while you have time to learn, grow, and love yourself, enjoy it. Learning to love yourself first is practice for loving someone else unconditionally.

As I write this, I feel my mood improving. I guess it’s true, writing is therapeutic! This get’s me back to my first quote, while I may not be feeling optimistic about myself, the world continues to revolve. Other’s still love me the same, even though I may doubt myself. You see regardless of how I feel about myself, others don’t necessarily feel the same way. The caveat is that could have both positive and negative effects, for the purpose of this though we’ll just speak about the positives.

Have you been feeling doubt and fear about the future? Where is it coming from, is someone else doubting you, or are you doubting yourself. In most cases we can’t control others, they’ll do what they want. You however have some control over your own thoughts. Remember that your words have weight for you also. So speak love, kindness and grace to yourself. Treat yourself with Love.

Something’s gotta Give!!

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I can’t believe it’s been a few weeks since I made my last post. I’ve been spending the time mostly reading and responding to posts, thought I’d give all you real bloggers out there a chance to do some real writing :-). All kidding aside though, it’s been an interesting few weeks, like many of you who read this, I too have my moments of absolute joy, and my darker moments of turmoil. It’s always interesting what I notice in those moments though, what picks me up. I’d like to share a few of those things with you.

My main struggle these days, in addition to embracing my singleness, and discovering who I AM. I seem to be struggling to find a job that calls me, one that I can say “ah ha this is my PURPOSE, this is what I was made for” In my last post “Finding your Purpose might be easier than you thought!!”, I talked about how we can find happiness by letting “Our Light” be our purpose. I incorporated that into my daily life this past few weeks, and it made a noticeable effect on my attitude. Some days at work are brutal, but by embracing my positive attitude as my purpose. It has allowed me to reset more quickly after dealing with a bad customer experience. Although this is a good tool for the overall work motivation, I still felt as though something else was missing. I’m someone who will only do things if I can predict the outcome. At this point in my life I have absolutely no idea what the future holds, I don’t know what I’ll be doing Career wise 1,2 or 5 years from now, and I’m not very comfortable with that feeling. While I’m generally not worried that I won’t find something that’s the right fit for me, just the uncertainty is hard to deal with. So why not do something you ask? So far the things I’ve set out to do haven’t worked out, and I believe that it’s because I’m still in my growing phase, I’m still learning something else that is part of the lesson I’m to learn. I have faith that God has something bigger than I can imagine in stored, so I’m learning to let go.

Live as though Heaven is here NOW!

So before I go on and on about my uncertainty about my career path, let me tell you what I saw this week that helped put things into perspective. For me I have to remember to be in the PRESENT, while having goals and future plans are important. If I’m not living in the present how will I know what path I’m supposed to be on. I believe that the signs are always there, you just have to look and listen. I may call it God, you may call it The Universe or Destiny; there is still a force that pushes us in the direction that is aligned to who we are at our core. Just as how last week the sign was to let “My LIGHT” be my purpose, I came across something else that points to the same concept.

This is an excerpt from a Song by Steven Curtis Chapman:

” This Life passes in the blink of an eye. But the Story has only begun. So go, Taste and SEE the goodness of God”

Secondly while watching the Movie “Heaven is for Real” a familiar Bible verse was highlighted. Many know it as “The Lord’s Prayer.” “…may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10 – NLT

So I know that these were all biblical references, but bear with me a bit more if you don’t share my Faith. You see all of these references are about enjoying Happiness NOW, rather than waiting for something to come by and sweep you off your feet later. Whether it’s that awesome job, or perhaps you’re in search of “The One” you don’t have to wait to find happiness. You see true happiness comes when you learn to embrace and enjoy where you are now. If you fall into “and then” thinking, you may never find that happiness, because you’ll be constantly chasing a goal that will keep eluding you. To be clear I’m not saying that EVERY goal you’ve set for the future can be actualized now! If your goal is to be a Doctor, and you haven’t gone to Medical School, you cant just go start treating people :-). Take myself for example, I see myself becoming a Counselor, I see that as my purpose. While I don’t have a Masters or PhD in Psychology now, being a Counselor involves helping  those in need, those in personal conflict and relational issues. Although I don’t have a degree in psychology, I can still help friends and those close to me. I can even write posts such as this one that will help to lift up and encourage others. In my case I don’t have to be a Counselor or Life Coach to help others, there’s other ways to fulfill my purpose in this case. So what I am saying is to find what makes you happy, learn how to incorporate that into your daily life. Just as Christians believe that Heaven (a future time, when there will only be happiness and no pain) will come later, there is nothing stopping you from having some heavenly traits here now. Just as the verse said “your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” I believe that we can have a little bit of heaven here now, we don’t have to wait for it sometime in the future.

While you might still be on the road to happiness, remember that you don’t have to wait until you get to your destination to find happiness or fulfillment. It’s possible to enjoy some of that now. By shifting your perspective, and realizing that it is possible to actualize some of your dreams today, it will get you in a better mind-set to accomplish more later.