Ferguson Riots

Last night, Officer Darren Wilson walked away free of all charges in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown — The city of Ferguson is still burning.

Rarely do I neglect my opinion on what should have happened, but in instances like these when everyone is already decided and have a straight answer, there is no need for persuasion from another.

Yesterday evening at seven I went to the store to pick up a few items before the announcement was made at 8pm. Not that I was in a rush to see the announcement, but so that I would be back inside before the announcement was made. Yesterday on my way home from work, from downtown Atlanta to the park in my neighborhood, police and ambulances lined my route as if this was Ferguson. At the store, a few employees were allowed to go home early for the same reasons; no one really wanted to be out for fear of rioting.

I went back home and watched the announcement. At the first signs of rioting, I went to bed. The fact that destruction is thought to be an option for improvement shows that we are missing something somewhere. The greatest changes that have ever taken place were done peacefully, from as far back to Moses leading The Great Exodus, up until as recently as Dr. Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement. I hate to preach things that I don’t feel I could preach, because if I was placed under the right circumstances I may have potential to be a Hall of Fame rioter; but it doesn’t negate that it’s wrong.

So, I don’t know if we lack leaders or we’ve just become to rowdy to be led. It seems that at the request of Michael Brown’s parents, the night should have never seen those extremes. We already lost what should have been justice for Brown. Then I feel as though we gave the nation exactly what they wanted on the other end — a show of unruly people that need more restrictions and monitoring and less freedom. In rioting we only hurt ourselves.

It’s a cloudy day in Perspective Park.

You Live the Good Life… And Don’t Know It

I know a lot of people. Between my family, my friends and their families, coworkers, classmates and whoever else, I know a lot of people. I’m sure the same goes for most. If I had to write out the names of everyone I knew, I would be writing for hours… And would still forget a few names. Now out of all those people that I know, there a quite a few of them that I know pretty well. From that few that I know pretty well, many of them I know intimately.

What I have recently noticed about most of the people I know, and myself, is that we have pretty good lives.

If we had to sit back and consider the things that matter, we would actually have to put more effort into finding something to complain about than we realize; at least from the Christian point of view. From the general point of view, most of us are healthy, with somewhere to live, food to eat, too many clothes and surrounded by loved ones. With those things we should all learn to be  content with, Christian or not. The other things that we may find ourselves complaining about are only additives to what the enjoyment of life should be based on. Those things are usually only more of what we already have, bigger of what we already have, or even slightly different from what we already have. If you can’t learn to be happy with those basic things, you will never be happy.

As a Christian though, we have so much more than the comfort of shelter, food, clothes, health and loved ones. Like I said before, those things are more than enough looking from the general point of view, but from a Christian perspective, our comfort should extend past the point of even losing all those things. With God being the source of all of our joy, our well-being, our futures and every possible outcome that our future has to offer, we shouldn’t even worry… Ever… About anything. I know that this is easier said than done, but we should make it common practice to check our complaints as they come to mind, and give thanks for what we have. So often we lose sight of the good things that we’ve been blessed enough to see, and complain about meaningless nothings. Instead of complaining about not making enough money, try being grateful for having a job. I guarantee your quality of life will increase with just a few minor changes in your perspective.

I was actually having this conversation with someone not too long ago when they pointed out that all of this is easy for me to say because of the life that I grew up with. I grew up with both parents, a bunch of siblings, hosts of aunts, uncles and cousins, a good church and always had whatever I needed; maybe not all I wanted, but everything I needed. Without hesitation, I agreed to his point. I grew up pretty carefree. Unfortunately, there could be a couple drawbacks to explain that. First, maybe I’m the type of person that could not handle any other type of life. Maybe growing up in a single-family household would have caused me to err in ways that other people did not. Maybe I’m one of the people that God knew that anything less than the life he gave me, would be too much for me to live a life fit to be called a Christian. To be completely honest, I haven’t even done as well as I should have to begin with; so it would be very difficult to try to take credit or judge someone else. So if you’ve lived a nice easy-flowing life, consider the fact that maybe that’s all you could have handled before boasting on it.

Another way to look at it is that maybe I will need every good memory, every good thought and all the easy, good times that I have ever known in order to get through whatever obstacles that may lie ahead of me. Now, I pray that this is not the case, but He has already promised that I wouldn’t be tempted above that which I could bear. So if I were to find myself in times of hardship, I should be able to be at peace knowing that God will see to it that I am taken care of. This type of confidence won’t come by simply wanting it though. I will have to be confident that I have lived accordingly to be taken care of by God. This does not go for just me, because I know quite a few people who haven’t seen much hardship in life. We who haven’t should be thankful for that and be ever conscious of the fact that it is not by our will or our family history or anything else that has allowed such comfort. If we recognize that it’s God holding things together now, we can trust that He will hold them together if they ever seem to be falling apart.

Basically, all I’m saying is that, if you have a phone or computer to read this from, you are probably in pretty good shape. Be thankful for it. I am not a fan of clichés, but “it could always be worse.” As for anyone who reads this and are not given over to the Salvation of Jesus Christ, there is a peace of mind and a fulfillment of life that can only be experienced as a Christian; and it maybe something that you want to look into. As for anyone who reads this and is a Christian, try not to get lost in the negatives and the have nots of life. Focus on what God has already provided you with and what he has kept you from, even when you were undeserving. I have been living every day with the understanding that the joy of the Lord is my strength. So no matter how bleak or discomforting of a situation I may find myself in, I know that my hope, faith, and future lies within God and he will not let me down.

My perspective to you… So if we ever meet in person, hopefully my optimism won’t get on your nerves. 🙂

Price of Peace

People always talk about peace and attaining peace and spreading peace; but none of this can be done if you are not a peaceful individual. If you are not a peaceful person, you are not fit to lead any campaign for the progression of peace. If you are not a peaceful nation, you cannot lead the world in a campaign for the progression of peace. If you are, in fact, a peaceful person, and you want to make a change that will bring forth peace in any environment, you have to be peaceful yourself first. Then you have to surround yourself with other like-minded peaceful people who can be led towards that one common goal.

Scenario:
There is an island of lawless rebels where only the strong survive. If you are not one of the strong, you have to align yourself with a strong group to ensure survival in exchange for all of your rights as an individual. Just imagine a prison environment on an island.

What would happen if we drop five peaceful people in the middle of that? How long would it take for them to conform to the dog-eat-dog nature? Or how long would it take for them to be… exterminated?

Now if we flip the demographics of this theoretical island and the peaceful are the majority with five violent people… What happens next? Will the peaceful people “get rid of” the violent ones to preserve their ways of life? If they do, are they still peaceful? Or will the violent people have to cause a considerable amount of damage before anything is done at all? The only thing that I’m sure of, is that those five will definitely cause some damage.

Peaceful people will do whatever they have to do to avoid confrontation. That’s what make them peaceful. Often these acts of consideration are mistaken for weaknesses and fearfulness, when in fact, they are direct opposite. It takes a special type of strength to avoid retaliation to direct wrongdoings.

The term dog-eat-dog world has at no time been something that I agree with simply because not everyone is a dog. I’m not a dog and I never intend to be one. I don’t want to kill, simply to not be killed. So what do I do? Do peaceful people adapt to the degree of ferocity around them to survive? To excel? To be noticed?

These are not rhetorical questions. I would honestly like to see what other peoples’ opinions are when it comes to this.

Dr. King led an entire nation to change with nonviolent protesting. Now while this may look like a weak approach to solving such a violent and hateful era that our country was in, I believe it is the only thing that would have worked. It took years of persistence though. It took sleepless nights. It took a vision of a better future for his people and this country. Unfortunately, in the end his life was still the price that had to be paid before change was made. It goes back to my idea that it takes a love that is bigger than the scope of your own life. Many people see the problems, but not many have the compassion and love that it takes to give their all to bring about the necessary change.

Jesus Christ gave his life for the sins of all mankind knowing that not everyone would accept his message; nevertheless he suffered the crucifixion for those who would accept him, even if it was just one. Never did he teach hate. Never did he condone it from anyone else. But yet and still he was executed in the worst and most shameful way, never laying a finger on anyone for their harm.

Hate and violence seems to always overcome those who are against it. The individual becomes a martyr for that belief, but to those who will witness the price that is paid, they are only examples of what not to do. The love of the cause, or humanity, or simply your neighbor has to be greater than the fear of death to begin a peaceful and selfless world.

With that being said, I also understand why some people say, “How can I change anything? I’, just one person.” I get it. It seems to be a task way too large to even make a dent. The way I see it though, is that the only reason the world is still turning is because there is always a man or woman willing to voluntarily pay the ultimate price for the greater good. If it were not for that handful of martyrs, where would we be today? That gives me hope. If we can just get more people to give a little more and want a little less, the price will be less expensive for an individual.

Is it unattainable? Hopefully, at my life’s end I’ll be able to answer more positively than I feel within my heart right now. I can hope though. We are all capable of sharing perspectives, giving in compassion and changing through love. That’s what gives me hope for the world.