FREEDOM TO BE LOCAL

Here is a picture of the local July 4th celebration in West Allis Wisconsin, where I live. I believe the group is called ‘The dancing Grannies’. I think it is awesome that seniors continue to be active and it was even better to hear people applaud and cheer for them as they went by. In this country July 4th is celebrated as Independence Day, or the day in which this country began its self-rule.

Here is me enjoying the parade with my mother and her husband. I had such a good time and do not remember enjoying a parade that much since I was a child. It got me thinking about individual freedoms we either take for granted or choose not to take advantage of. Such as who we share our time with. Ideally, this picture would have included my lovely Margie, not only would that have added to the joy I was feeling, it would have added beauty to the picture as well. Alas, she was not able to join us due to prior obligations. I could have watched the parade by myself, or even with any of the great friends I ran into. I chose to watch it with my mother because lately we have been going for walks in nature and sharing some great conversation and fun times. The freedom of who to spend your time with is a very important one to exercise.

Here are pictures of the food truck and the tasty treats that I enjoyed from it. Do you realize how many more options we have when it comes to what we eat? Only 100 years ago small local grocery stores carried a handful of options. Now, we have stores that have thousands of items to choose from. Some from halfway around the world! We can choose to eat healthy or we can choose to eat…well…pizza. Even when cooking at home recipes and even videos guiding us through how to make exotic dishes are at our fingertips.

These are pictures of the party they held at a local park after the parade. There were things to eat as you saw in the above paragraph, as well as a band, children’s games and beverages. This brought up one of the most important freedoms of all. In a world that has headlines dominated by terrorism, racism, hate and violence, a lot of people are afraid to walk the street. Sadly, that is exactly what those committing violent crimes wish for. It is my belief that one of the best ways to combat a world that seems filled with division is to get out and meet your neighbors. Holiday celebrations are a perfect place to do so. On this day I met great neighbors such as Kristin, the mayor of our fine city, my neighbor Dan and lots of others. Do yourself a favor. As you are enjoying that hamburger, sweet corn or even that frosty beverage, take a second to introduce yourself to neighbors. If you happen to see Margie and me out enjoying the holidays, feel free to introduce yourself to us.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED IN VEGAS??

It is a little past noon as I write this. I’m sitting in Urban Joe’s, a quaint coffee shop in West Allis, Wisconsin where I live. Curtis, a very charming and congenial young man is working with his wife Danielle. It would seem to be the prefect Monday, with one exception – Las Vegas.

Last night was the deadliest shooting in US history. 58 innocent people lost their lives. People on the television as well as in the coffee shop are musing as to what the motive may be and how could this even happen. Questions you may be asking yourself.

Routinely I am asked if the world seems to be getting worse. We hear about terror attacks across the globe and right next door. The level of divide between people seems to be growing.

To me the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I believe, sadly, this sort of violence has been around nearly as long as mankind has. If we review the pages of history we can easily find examples of that. What has changed is the ‘closeness’ of the world. We can hear what happened across the globe seconds after it has transpired. We also hear about every incident. News that used to be relegated to the town it occurred in can now be viewed online by someone half way around the world.

There are two things I would like point out at this time. First is not to give in to the going of fear being pushed on us by the media. Let us not start treating each other with harshness based on judgements we have come to from world events. When we hear about certain groups of people perpetrating crimes it is easy to fall victim to the temptations to pass that judgement on to others who may belong to that group. The only way for us to overcome the social challenges that face us is through treating each other with love, respect and compassion. An “eye for an eye” mentality can only lead us to a blind world.

While we are on the subject of solutions, let us explore how we can help ourselves not feel overwhelmed by all the negative news we are exposed to. This is something I first wrote about in 2012 and several times sense. I refer to a story shared by one of my favorite philosophers, Mr. Fred Rodgers. He once shared a story of asking his mom about the negative news on the television. His mom gave him advice I think we could all use today. She told him, quite simply, “Look for the helpers.”

In the wake up both this tragic event, the recent hurricanes and earthquakes we have seen a flood of people rushing to help from across countries, to across the globe. These heroic efforts can get lost in the deluge of reporting on the Loss of property, lives and love for our fellow humanity. I encourage you to dig deep and read a few of these. See even in the darkest hours of humanity there are always beacons of light. Stay in love and light my friends.

TRAGEDY IN FRANCE

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Normally on this blog I feature videos on the weekend, and one will be coming tomorrow, but I feel the need to address yesterday’s events in France. When a senseless violent act occurs like happened to our brothers and sisters in Paris we are left asking ourselves questions like “why?” and “how?” i think our inability to understand comes from the fact that there is no reason for this kind of violence. We cannot understand it, because it cannot be understood. Yes, it can be explained. Motives can be put forth, questions surrounding the mental states of those committing this horrible act can be questioned, but even with all the answers trying to understand how we can continue to do this to one another is beyond comprehension.
To me is screams a sense of urgency. Both on a personal and national level. We cannot wait to strive for more understanding of our fellow brothers and sisters. We cannot wait to develop more compassion. We cannot wait to erase the prejudice and judgments of the past. The time is not tomorrow, the time is now. Do what you can to do this in your community, but do everything you can to do it in yourself. We are all victims of what happened in France. It makes all of our world a darker place. Mr Rogers spoke of seeing the helpers. I am going to take it one step further, it is time to be the helper. How? Do what we talked about above. Support organizations that being people together. Be a voice for peace and change. Most of all be so in your heart. Treat all you meet with love and compassion. If yesterday’s events taught us anything, it taught us we cannot wait!

REMEMBERING

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Today marks the anniversary of the attacks in the US of the world Trade Center. It stands as a low point in humanities relating to one another. After the attacks Americans began to look for someone to blame. This is a  natural response to tragedy.  When I lived one is hurt or killed, or even the country you love you want payback.

Let us look at who really is to blame, what they tried to accomplish and how we can best pay them back. First, who is to blame. There are countless conspiracy theories out there,but I am just going to address the accepted version and the group that claimed responsibility, a extreme terrorist group.  What was their goal in taking all of these innocent lives?  To propagate racial fear and hatred and continue their holy war. How did they do? Considering the attitude towards those in the Muslim faith in America, pretty good.
I recall protests about a mosque being built near the sight of the attacks. “how dare they!” people shouted.  This very thinking is what those attackers tried to fuel.
So how can we pay them back? What is the best way to pay these people back for taking thousands of innocent lives? Making sure their goal and their endgame fail. When all the people began protesting the mosque I began to think, “this is just what they wanted” I would love to see a building with several of the major religions all in one. A Christian church on one side, a Buddhist temple on a second, a Muslim mosque on a third followed by perhaps a Hindu shrine? The biggest ‘middle finger’ we can give to those who were behind this attack would be to draw together.

Another reason this is good. Abraham Lincoln noted during the civil war that people divided are easier to conquer and control. If we unite in love, not only will we be a stronger force, we will not be lead astray by corrupt politicians or religious fanatics. Make no mistake, the attacks did not end 14 years ago. They continue to this day with the racial and cultural hatred running rampant in todays world. Think you are hating the ‘bad guy’? Think again. I know many people of many different cultures and beliefs. Some are bad, most are amazing people. When you judge someone based on anything other than who they are as a person, you are helping further the cause of terror groups everywhere. The best revenge we can enact is to learn to love our brothers and sisters on this planet. When the people of the earth unite as one we will be able to accomplish great things. No act by an extreme few will again be able to tear us apart and create fear.

So do your part to fight terrorism today. Learn about a culture different than yours. Hang out with people who are wonderful, yet different than you. Myself? I am going to work with my French/Irish girlfriend and hopefully we will see our German, Asian, African-American, Hispanic friends. Do you know what we will do? Love them all and by doing so telling those who wish to create fear and hatred in the world to kiss our ass. Let’s all learn to love and forget how to hate.