LIGHT Always wins out the Dark!

candle in the dark

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.

Christmas Day is Almost here!!!

Christmas dinner table

It’s almost that time of year, to sit and gather with family and friends. Some are fortunate that circumstances have allowed it, and you can gather with others. There are other’s who’s circumstances haven’t allowed them the time to gather with others, whether it’s being in a foreign country, military service, finances, or other reasons. Christmas has long been a time for people to gather together, to share time and gifts with each other. Christmas has also been one of those times where some feel forced, you spend time with people who you can’t wait until that time ends, so that you can go back to your separate lives. If that describes your family dinner, this post is mostly for those folks, but with some good tips for others.

The Sun will rise tomorrow, don’t be surprised when it does:

When your family member does those annoying quirks that drive you crazy, take a step back and breathe. A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who was venting to me about someone else. I sat and listened, then I asked 1 question, “how many times before have they responded in this exact manner to a similar situation.” Of course the answer was “he always does this.” So if someone always responds in a certain way, why would you be surprised when they do? It’s like going to bed tonight knowing that the sun will rise, then when you wake up tomorrow, be completely surprised that the sun is there. Instead of being  surprised then somehow angry when your family member does that one thing that always annoy you, expect that the’ll do it. No it won’t stop you from being angry, but you will get over it faster. I’m most certain Christmas isn’t about anger but rather joy and piece. Spend the most of your time being happy, it’ll make the time much more enjoyable.

Family are people, people are annoying, so therefore family are annoying:

As in the earlier part don’t focus on being angry. We all have our unique quirks about us, take those quirks as an opportunity to learn more about who they are. Use those quirks as part of a puzzle, each part shows a clearer picture of who the person is. Why not have a conversation about it, of course asking “why are you such an idiot, why do you do that stupid thing when …” might not be a good way to start that conversation. Imagine that you have a backpack full of information about the people you know. The contents of that backpack can only be used for good, they are not there so you can take them and beat people of the head with them. It’s always fascinating learning new things about people, whether it’s annoying or likable. People love to talk about themselves, use the time at your family gatherings to learn more about them and their lives. I’ve found a remarkable thing happens when you open up, being vulnerable is an opportunity for growth. I’ve found that sharing my thoughts have brought me closer to some, have thought me things about myself, and I have found thing in common with the most unexpected people. So why not use the time with your family and friends to learn more about them, is there a situation or a particular triumph or hearth ache that you shared? Of course the caveat is you can’t share everything with everyone, some people don’t need to know everything. However that’s the beauty of being vulnerable, sometimes you put things out there not knowing what will come back to you. I’ve found it a very refreshing experience for the most part though. So share more with them other than some random gift, you haven’t seen them all year, how could you possibly know what they want for Christmas.

You can choose to be happy or sad, for the most part anyway:

I’ve been a bit crabby the past week, last week I was sick and in bed, but this week I have no excuse. Not being able to be with my family and being single I guess has it’s effect on me too. A few weeks ago I read a post on The Daily Love about being happy about being single during the holidays, I thought that was crazy but the writer had a point. Many of the things we do in life is about choices, we can choose how we want things to go, well to a certain extent. But here I was yesterday despite all the positive and good vibes things I read, I was still being crabby for no reason. I was at work doing something I love, it was festive and Chritmasee, and I was being crabby. I asked myself is there any reason why I’m feeling like this, is anyone other than me preventing my happiness? That was all set into motion by a friend asking me why I had not written anything this past week. Well I learnt a few things there, first off someone actually reads my post?? and that I was being silly by sulking. After I snapped out of it, despite being on my feet for hours, I actually had a good time. I was pleasant, interacted with people, even when they acted like idiots. When I approached them in a pleasant manner they stopped acting like idiots. Just as I made a choice to be happy, the same applies to you and your family. You can choose not to be angry or upset, especially when someone does something that you expect them to do.

So as you spend time with family and friends, first remember that people will be annoying. If they are people you’ve known your whole life, it shouldn’t surprise you when they are that way. Don’t be mad, choose to not let their behavior upset you. Lastly take the time to form a deeper connection with them, get to know THEM better. That could also be an opportunity to be vulnerable, share in your triumphs and pain, see where that goes.