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It’s Been A Long Time… I Shouldn’a Left You…

I promise, I only left because… because… let me do this right. 

I’d love to say that I left because our Ruthless Leader decided to take a different path, but that would be a lie; I was mostly MIA quite a while before that happened. Y’all know I’m not much for lies, duplicity, or feigning optimism, so I’m going to apologize in advance if I shatter any false ideas you’ve cultivated over the years. The simple version is that I was pulling my life together. Unfortunately, the simple version never quite does it for me, so here we go:

I was busy being depressed. I couldn’t keep telling you to “Do More. Require Better.” when I barely wanted to do anything at all. I’ve been open about my depression, specifically because of what I believe to be my 50 percent, but I haven’t been open about how useless and ineffective the proverbial voices in my head tell me my writing is. I recognize that maybe once upon a time I had a legitimate following  before I started slipping. I also understand, or believe, that in all things, there must be balance. My depression makes it so I can’t see how anything I do means anything. Regardless of my efforts, there will still be pain, suffering, malice, disease, famine, poverty, discord, racism, sexism, and all other forms of unpleasantness. I was left asking “What is any of this for?” The only logical answer I could find: “Naught.”

So what’s a Reign O’Change to do?  I certainly couldn’t keep writing things I no longer believed. There was no Change on the horizon. I was incapable of believing that Justice would actually prevail. Thus, I stopped. It really wasn’t a conscious decision. I kept thinking, “I’ll come back to this one…” or “this issue doesn’t need my voice…” and “Do I really want be one more person blogging about Donamir Trutin’s ineptitude?” Lots of things to write about, but no drive to lend my energy to what seemed like yet another unwinnable battle.

So why are we here today? We’re here because I lost a friend. He’s still very much alive. He’s just not invited to the table anymore. Now, let me be clear: this young man literally came to the cookout. He brought deviled eggs and they were delicious. He tried to teach me how to play HALO. I promoted his craft as a Tattoo Artist. I defended him in public forum against an overzealous supervisor. So when I tell you “I lost a friend.” I mean I lost someone who I thought would be a permanent resident in the complex place that is my heart. How? It all started because of this story I shared on Facebook.

Truth be told, I didn’t even read the article. I figured the least I could do was continue conversing about things Requiring conversation. It’s yet another example of Hollywood deciding that Brown people are better represented by artificially tanned white people.  #RepresentationMatters is a battle cry for those of us who remain unseen and misrepresented by the media. How was I supposed to know it would devolve into “a friend” accusing me of hating white people. If anyone had told me that he would conclude that I was one step away from being a terrorist, I’d have laughed them to scorn. We had Jon Snowed our way through our friendship: we knew nothing about each other.

In my anger, I wrote this entire post, and in doing so, I realized that I needed to come back. That should’ve been–and might still end up being–an addition to The Letter Series. It could’ve been a head-first dive into Decorum Deficiency Disorder. I would’ve gotten so many more hits and shares if only I hadn’t forgotten the purpose of my mission.

#DoMoreRequireBetter is about me doing my #50percent more often and better. So, here’s how this is going to work: I’m back. I’m not mincing words, holding hands, faking the funk, or coddling Anyone. I won’t promise to be here every week, but I’ll be here with all the passion and vigor I can muster… because the conversations still need to be had. We will #RESIST and continue #NotBackingDown because the Cheeto in Chief has earned my wrath. In short: I’m here to Do More & Require Better.

Story Time: About that New Format

Remember a few months ago when I promised a new format? Well, after weeks of trial and error, technical difficulties, unfocused writing attempts, and negotiating with the Boss, I finally have it for you! The truth is that writer’s block doesn’t even begin to describe what’s been holding me back. I just went through and pulled up all the active drafts I have saved. There were 6 in the last 3 months alone. It wasn’t so much a lack of inspiration–as you’ll see in the coming week and months of posts–but a short attention span coupled with an unsettled mind.

Now, the other reason I decided to make changes to my posting style is because Someone suggested that actually hearing the passion behind the words might help express my point more emphatically. My first reaction was Exit Comfort Zonean absolute “No.” Where I argued that we have podcasts where I guest or host with other folks participating. Who really wants to hear me rant… [He cut me off] “We read your rants don’t we?” he said. “Imagine a Decorum Deficiency Piece as spoken words… oh the lack of chill!” Of course, this was months ago, and I’m taking several verbal liberties, but that’s basically how the conversation went. The thought seed was planted and barely a month later I stared recording.

So now, you’ll have the benefit of hearing my perspective, in addition to reading itNow featuring sound. Let’s consider this first piece a summary explanation of sorts. Remember that I actually recorded this back in October when I first mentioned the new format of my posts. I even did one for Halloween–which I’ll probably hold it for next year because it should still be applicable–and another for my 2nd anniversary, which will probably just get added to the WDDIJ blooper reel for anyone who wants to hear what I had to say. Each blog piece/podcast hybrid will consist of my written introduction to what should be a more complete spoken thought.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/242934563?secret_token=s-v11O3″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=true&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”300″ iframe=”true” /]

And there we have it! My first hybrid piece of many. Let me know what you think… because you know, the objective is to Do More, and of course Require Better.

Lesson 6: What Do You Live For?

“There’s a difference between what we work for and what we live for.” I’m not sure which of the several shows I’ve been watching I heard this on, but it stuck to my consciousness like a catchy song on a broken Sunday. I’d like to act like this is really just another RSI 101 lesson, but I’m not one for disingenuous pretexts. The question stands: What do YOU live for? I’ve listened to yogis and gurus of one kind or another… from the so called self help motivational speakers of my youth, to the teachers of spirituality and enlightenment of my presentand they all say basically the same thing: Life is what you make it. 

None of us gets to choose how we die, only how we live. – Hank Lawson, Royal Pains

The last several years of my life have been the kind of Serenity Prayerdifficult that make stories worth reading. I’ve had to overcome adversity, depend on the kindness of strangers… lose loved ones… all while trying to make the most out of life. I blamed a lot on circumstance and on the things that I couldn’t control. In doing so, I relinquished my power and subconsciously resigned myself to failure. As such, failures rained; claiming even the ones that were beyond my sphere of influence as mine, completely incapable of seeing anything that wasn’t negative.That awkward moment when you realize you’ve been living life all wrong.

Very recently, I made the decision to change. With prodding and assistance from friends and family… some friends that became family… I chose to live for my own joy and, much like the road less traveled, that has made all the difference.

Buddhas HappySo I’ll ask again, because its important; What do YOU live for? Sadhguru says we are all seeking and living for the same thing: pleasantness. My new life is my version of pleasant, and getting more pleasant every day. What is your version of pleasant? What will bring joy, bliss, peace, serenity, happiness, and ecstasy into your life? It’s been a while, but again this one is important so here’s your assignment: What can you do TODAY to bring one moment of joy into your sphere of influence? Once you know what it is, do it.

Do More. Require Better.

Lesson 5: History is a Teacher. Learn from the Past

There are so many quotes out there about learning from the past to protect the future. Whether its on a global or local scale, the idea is the same: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Its an important lesson, but not one that I’m going to drag out too much, because, like I said, there’s a lot out there on the subject.

History ComicIn politics, people who lost previously get to run all over again, sometimes claiming a new set of ideals, or denying the ones they claimed the last time, and the general public eats it up, they get votes or at the very least undue attention in spite of their history. In relationships, cheaters and beaters get undeserved second and third chances presumably because they changed or an underlying issue got resolved. There are those who find themselves trying so hard to avoid their pasts that they forget to make the necessary changes that would save them from making the same mistakes. The past; the history, is forgotten. We have such short memories.

The history of racial injustice that this nation was built upon is an excellent example of history lessons that weren’t learned. White people–in general–haven’t accepted their role as it relates to the present state of racial relations. They say things about not seeing race, or racism not being “a thing”… They lean on skewed statistics to support the idea that blacks are prone to crime, violence, and sexual deviance… Simba's History Lessonas if this entire nation wasn’t stolen from an indigenous people who were murdered and raped into endangerment… meanwhile, children of color are criminalized, cities burn, unemployment rates climb, local governments choose to fund prisons instead of schools, and the cycle of injustice continues. Black people–in general–forget that the civil rights movement didn’t make strides because of negro efforts alone. We forget that there is more to black culture than rap music, slang, and beautifully thick kinky hair. Our children remain under and miseducated; having forgotten that the reason slavery lasted so long was because things like education and reading were reserved for whites only. And even with having the freedom to learn and be educated, we still act as if literacy and proper grammar is still reserved for whites, and uppity negroes trying to “act white.” We cannot move forward as a nation because there are too many lessons that haven’t been learned.

So what happens when people learn from history? People abandon their vices; having learned that to remain addicted will cost them their family and their life. The abused leave their abusers; having learned that no amount of sorry will unbreak their ribs. Relationships thrive because people remember why their last relationships failed, they put in the effort to improve themselves, and make sure they don’t fall back into bad habits. Sacrifices are made. Laws are written. Constitutions are amended. The general public is put on notices that there are inalienable rights that will no longer be denied. Slavery is abolished. Women get to vote. Labor unions are established. The disabled get to work. The LGBTQ community can marry. Freedom rings across the land. So much is possible when we use history as a teacher… and, of course, if we Do More & Require Better.

Nothing Lasts Forever… Because Change.

If you were expecting a depressing post about endings and enjoying things while they last… You and your pessimism are going to be sorely disappointed. Friday, March 21st is the first official day of Spring! The season of new beginnings, change, growth, rebirth and all he stuff we have a bad habit of expecting on January 1st, in the dead of winter while the populous is reeling from meals they shouldn’t have eaten and purchases they shouldn’t have made.

That’s right folks, if I had to pick a favorite season, it would be Spring. Sure, I love Autumn… falling backward on the clock… the return of my favorite TV series…boot season… and my favorite holiday All Hallows Eve… but there’s something about the smell of crisp spring rain on a dewy morning and droplets shimmering on newly sprouted leaves that just makes me feel alive.

So what are we really talking about nothing lasting forever for? because when it comes to change and growth, there is no time like the present. I mean seriously, we just talked about this. Personally, I am all about change right now. Good, bad or indifferent, growth is happening and change looks good on me. No, everything isn’t like skipping through tulips every day. I have moments… ok, hours where all of the voices in my head decide to test my resolve… but I come out and I am still moving forward. Let’s talk metaphysics

We talk about going backward and planning for the future, but the only thing we have is right now. The minute I just spent typing this sentence is a minute I will never get back. I am losing moments of my life one keystroke at a time… with each breath… each blink… every pause to reread, edit, and carefully select my next words, I am losing time that I could spend doing any number of things that could lead the rest of my entire Flutter-bylife in a completely different direction, including to its end. The moments I’m spending putting these words to this page is setting an infinitesimal array of unforeseen events into motion… not just in my life, but in every life, that touches every other life, that touches every other life… like a never ending echo… like a butterfly effect. Think about that. If you had to remember that every moment, every action, every thought you have would definitely change someone else’s world, wouldn’t you make your actions more meaningful? Wouldn’t it be worth it to you to make your life meaningful? I forgot that human are to selfishness as white is to rice. Let’s try this: If you knew that what you chose to do right now could be the reason you do or don’t find $1,000,000,000,000 in your bank account tomorrow, wouldn’t you make whatever you’re doing right now matter? Yeah you would. And you know what, it does. Fortunately, life doesn’t work that way, and since we don’t know which moves we make will cause our success or demise, we should live every moment. Not survive or tolerate it. LIVE it. Live it now, not tomorrow, because we have no idea what is going to happen in the next few moments that will make tomorrow disappear. Nothing, save death, lasts forever…. and we’ve all heard stories and philosophies that suggest even that might not be the case.

The change you regret today, could be the change you needed to get you to where you wanted to go all along. Take chances. Make changes. Remember that forever is an abstract that has neither an beginning nor an end. Change happens whether you accept it, embrace it, or expect it, or not. Make this your time to

Do more. Require Better.

 

War

War

Si vis pacem, para bellum. An ancient saying which, for those of you unaware, translates to “If you want peace, prepare for war” and unfortunately, it seems that war is once again starting to rear its ugly head. To be frank, we’ve never really gotten a break from war. With the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq finally drawing to a close after so many years and so many deaths it seems that American’s are willing to once more send our troops unto the breach.

How so? Well, conflict in Iraq is revving up with the addition of a Syrian problem that President Obama had desired to end before it began (only to be shut down by popular opinion, Russia, and the Republicans) and now it is his fault that ISIS spawned out of it. To be fair, there wasn’t alot he could do though he did seem like he was ready and willing to pull the trigger at one point. Of course, Russia has proven to be a most hilarious and belligerent member of the world community with their recent foray into Ukrainian politics in a most uninvited manner.

So what changed? Well, you can probably start preparing for the inevitability of boots on the ground because the War Hawks are in power and their mouths are salivating with glee. I find it most humorous that when the POTUS was willing to act on Syria, the American public was almost entirely against it but now that ISIS has appeared as a direct result of the Syrian conflict and American’s have died because of it the public finds themselves upset that the POTUS did not do more to stop it. What did you want him to do? He wanted to intervene in Syria and you all sent him a clear message that you didn’t want it — he acted upon the will of the people at the time and because of that we now have the fustercluck of the century brewing on our hands. So, what is he to do now? Send troops in? Probably.

While I remain a firm moderate, something more happened this election day than just the republicans winning. No, American Exceptionalists saw a greater victory this election than anyone else. What are American Exceptionalists? Well, they are known by many names but primarily they are the War Hawk Neocons of the Republican Party such as good old John McCain. These are the same people with so much campaign money tied up in defense industry lobbyists that they can want nothing more than war. They will achieve their goals, hell, it’s almost inevitable at this point. John McCain who is expected to become the next chairman of the senate armed forces committee has already expressed his desire to send weapons to the embattled Ukrainian government as well as to look into broadening the war against ISIS.

In the short time I have been actively studying the politics in America I find an almost amusing trend in how people vote, assuming they even vote. They often yell and scream about how they want change before ultimately reverting to the same style of government they had before they fought so hard to change it, but beyond that, when America wants to go to war it seems that we always elect Republican. For instance, October saw a rise in the willingness of American’s to send troops on the ground in Iraq in Syria, up to 45% vs the 38% of September. Likewise, 71% of American’s polled believe that we should send ground troops in if ISIS attacks any America facilities in Baghdad.

As we see the public consciousness drift more toward accepting of a future war, we also saw them vote in surprising numbers for Republican candidates who had war hawk tendencies. I am no psychic, so I cannot predict what the future holds but the incoming Hawks have already pledged to ramp up that good ol’ Nationalism we all used to know and love from the days of yore. Indeed, McCain has not only spoken about sending American weapons to the Ukrainian Government and broadening the efforts to combat ISIS but there has also been talk about China and its incursions into the South China Sea. While I am a moderate, I am deeply worried that the effort we expended over the past six years to repair the image of our country is going to be flushed down the drain. The sending of weapons to Ukraine will escalate tension between the United States and Russia, and sending ground forces into Iraq and Syria once more will only reignite a war we had finally closed the books on. Infact, I can go so far as to wager that sending American troops into Iraq and Syria would only bolster the ranks of ISIS because Iraqi tribal leaders have, for the most part, made it clear that they do not want American’s to be fighting in Iraq again.

I am not sure what it is with the American fascination of returning to the same things we fought so hard to change, like a battered spouse that returns to their abuser we seem willing to repeat the same mistakes in the hope that the outcome will somehow be different. Call me a sensationalist, but the ramp-up of propaganda lately has been quite noticeable. No longer do the United States Marines encourage you to ‘run to the sounds of chaos’, but rather to essentially run to help those who cannot help themselves, a clear change in tone given the ongoing conflict against ISIS as well a justification that any combat we do is precipitated by the need to defend innocent lives. I wasn’t kidding when I said you could expect American soldiers to be deployed back into Iraq in the next 10 years. I have already heard reports from individuals within the military that I am friends with who have stated essentially that their units are being prepared to possibly deploy to Iraq.

So, that is my rambling for the day. I cannot predict the future, but I know the signs of a country revving up to go to war and with the public’s opinion gradually shifting more toward accepting it you can pretty much bet your bright stars that the war hawks we’ve recently elected to power will be more than happy to capitalize on it.

So yeah, I am the Revanchist. Same bat place, different bat time. Sorry if you’ve missed me, I had a bunch of bullshit going on in life that we’re just not even going to talk about. Until next week.

Sic luceat lux.

In Defense of Charles Barkley

 

Sometimes you need some comedy to put perspective on comments. You know who you are. Let’s get into the topic.

In Defense of Charles Barkley

I'm not the only one who has to put the black hat on from time to time.

I’m not the only one who has to put the black hat on from time to time.

As I tell my white friends, we as black people, we’re never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you’re black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people. It’s a—It’s a dirty, dark secret; I’m glad it’s coming out. It comes out every few years. I wrote a big chapter in my book about it, to be honest with you.

I said, you know, when young black kids, you know, when they do well in school, the loser kids tell them, ‘Oh, you’re acting white.’ The kids who speak intelligently. They tell them, ‘You’re acting white.’ So it’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community.

One of the reasons we’re never going to be successful as a whole, because of other black people. And for some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. And it’s a dirty, dark secret, Anthony.

Most, I—I heard Stephen A. [Smith] talkin about it. And listen, I hate to bring white people into our crap, but as a black person, we all go through it when you’re successful. Uh, you know it’s like one of the reasons, you know. One of the reasons a lot of black players go broke is because when you’re successful your friends say to you, ‘Oh, you ain’t cool. You ain’t down with us anymore.’ And you end up giving up all your money to these damn losers, and you end up broke again.

But it’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community. There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have, uh, success. It’s best to knock a successful black person down because they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful. And they don’t..if you think about it—It’s crabs in a barrel. The thing that’s happening we’re the only race that tell people if you don’t have street cred, with like, that means you been arrested, like, like that’s a compliment. We’re the only ethnic group who say, ‘Hey, if you go to jail, it gives you street cred.’ It’s just typical BS that goes on when you’re black, man.

– Charles Barkley on 94 WIP’s online Podcast from October 23rd titled: Charles Barkley Talks About Anything & Everything (here). Starting at 14minutes 52 seconds.

For some rather strange reason these comments have been met with criticism and controversy instead of being taken for exactly what they are. Direct and blunt truth. But in order to properly cover this I’m going to break it into parts so you can better understand what is going on. First up is the idea of the comments being incorrect, then we’ll talk about the attacks on them being said, and finally a little bit of perspective. I’m feeling hopeful.

Charles Barkley isn’t wrong

The idea that Barkey is incorrect is in fact laughable. And it has nothing to do with his hilarious version of a southern accent. When you look at the external pressures on Black America it is easy to miss the internal pressures that we place on ourselves. Looking at pure numbers, despite the clear uptick in college enrollment by black males; the disparity between those choosing post secondary education without sports involvement and those immediately entering the workforce is still far higher than at any point for their female counterparts.

Now you may say but that isn’t bad everyone doesn’t need to go to college, or maybe they cannot afford higher education. I would listen to these arguments but given the cost difference and enrollment figures at HBCUs that point is moot. The reality is you can still get a quality education as a black student in many places in the country but for some reason that is not being taken advantage of. I didn’t go to an HBCU for a lot of reasons, some of which I think differently about now, but ultimately would not have changed my position on it. But I had a lot more opportunity that most. These are not bad schools. The fact they are closing like blockbuster videos is a sad fact when there are enough kids to have gone there just not using college as an option.

The Lantern posted a piece about a poll from Gallup about the financial aid crisis in communities of color versus their white counterparts. It includes this graph which is extremely telling when you think about the cost to attend them as well as average starting salary for their graduates.

And don’t worry Here’s a link to the top ten and their average salary for grads versus tuition per year. On average as of 2009 there was a six thousand dollar ($6,000USD) difference in cost to attend HBCUs. And who’s not up for saving money? But, as you think back to what this section is about, why does this help prove Charles isn’t wrong? Because it shows there is clearly something peculiar going on that is keeping black kids from going to these schools. Many HBCUs have been forced to cut back on programs offered as well as many closing altogether. Why? Because it isn’t a priority to take advantage of this resource. Why? Because we aren’t opening the doors for the generation after us anymore.

Look at how we value young black boys who have gotten into every Ivy league school and have to choose which ones to turn down. We let our kids get on social media to call them oreos, say that’s for white folks, and decry them as nerds. Well to all of that particular group of idiots, You may now exit the country. Your services are no longer required. But less go deeper. What about all the people who under the guise of being pro black have said these boys should not go to learn things from the white man, and that they are somehow in a slave mentality. What this hotep hoes and pro-black pimps want you to you believe is that academic achievement under a system that has historically been filled with white faces is something to stay away from. Now here’s the dirty secret of that mentality. It relies on you not noticing how little value they place on the education from black schools.

I don’t hear Tariq Nasheed trying to get every black boy into Morehouse. In fact more than once he’s implied all men who went there are gay. But bigger than that where’s his school he’s supporting? And before you idiots come back with “Higher education is just the creation of euro-centric mentalities and furthers a euro-centric viewpoint on all important studies.” Put the bean pie down beloved, you’re idiocy is showing. Every society that can be considered objectively civilized has made a point to create a system of schools devoted to academics, the Kemetian dynasties, the Greeks the Romans, the Persians, the Chinese, the Japanese, Mali and Songhai, Carthage, Sicily, and yes every modern nation currently on the planet.

But lets get into the high schools. How much money did your high school debate team have available for national tournaments? How about for high school mock trial? How many announcements did you hear about school plays? How many people did interpretations for talents instead of sing, rap, or dance? Who was you StuCo President? Chess Champion?  Now some of you readers can answer that. Most folks can’t. But you and the community remember the cheerleading captain, dance team members, the sports folks, who made that one song that everybody knew, who made it in every industry but academics. Now that isn’t to say some of you know more of the first groups and less of the second, but that isn’t the balance of this ethnic classification we call a community. And that’s why Charles isn’t wrong. Because even you have trouble remembering those things. Now imagine how it felt for those kids. Now imagine how it felt for the ones who didn’t want to be seen as one of them, but had the intellect.

 

Your attacks show how stupid you are

One of the first things I heard as a criticism of Barkley was the notion that he shouldn’t say this publicly. And to those idiots I have a wonderful new energy drink call Ricin “SOO much energy you’ll be dying for more.” This idea that anyone making public comments on an issue is somehow uncouth harkens back to something apparently still ingrained in this community. But really needs to be gotten rid of along with that stupid Light skinned, Dark skinned, mixed bullshit. There are problems in modern society and there is a dearth of access to important information. To say someone shouldn’t speak up on these problems because people not of our ethnic classification might hear is stupid. When there is a problem you talk about it. You aren’t fixing it by acting like there is nothing wrong.

The other major attack I hear is that he doesn’t deserve to talk about it because he made it. ANd if that isn’t just obviously stupid I don’t really know what is. Barkley made it doing something that less than 2% of human beings do. The reality is even in the black community in America where the sport is that is closer to 1%. Who better to tell you that the focus should be on making it in ways that don’t require genetics you have no control over? The idea of focusing on making it through science, technology, engineering, and math may seem boring, but it will save your life. And it will make it possible to do something about the conditions we hear over and over about and how tired you are of them.

 

A bit of hope in the form of Perspective

In America today there is a growing trend of people overpaying for conveniences that let them be lazy. And from comedians to politicians everyone has something to say about it. We have a country where Bill Cosby hides possible sexual assault cases, and the comedian who calls him out on it is the story. We have terrorist groups trying to found their own countries. We have TLC reality stars dating men with child molestation convictions when their daughter’s are in little girl beauty pageants. The whole planet knows about this and wants to correct these things because people speak up. The world is safer when you speak up. The world evolves when you put more focus on things that can make everyone’s life better. Charles Barkley isn’t the enemy. blissful ignorance, stupidity, and idiocy are. I could say more but…WORDS DON’T DO IT JUSTICE!

 

– THE Ruthless Wonder