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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let Love Rule




There are certain "holidays" that I don't know that I completely understand but when it comes right down to it I have absolutely no issue with. For example Flag day is celebrated on June 14th each year to commemorate the day the United States adopted our current U.S. flag. Makes sense now that you think about it doesn't it? Arbor Day is a holiday in April where people are encouraged to plant a tree. Seems simple enough, right? Peculiar People Day is an actual day celebrated in January each year. I know what you're thinking there is literally a day for anything & everything & you would be right. And while I'm thinking about it please don't forget there are only a few more shopping days left before everyone's favorite holiday National Beheading Day which comes up September 2.

Just because we don't understand each & every "holiday" doesn't mean we should judge their merit. That being said, I am struggling with a new "holiday" that is on the horizon. I'm sure we can all remember where we were when the World Trade Center was attacked. I was in an apartment in Daphne, AL getting ready to go to a doctor's appointment when I saw the second plane slam into the second tower & wondered what in the hell was going on. As the day unfolded I realized that this was something I would never forget & that life as we knew it would never be the same. Almost 9 years later I've gotten used heightened airport security but there's one thing I know I will never get used to...hate & judgement. I understand that the people that executed this horrific plan claimed to be doing so in the name of Islam. I also understand that just because a small group of radicals created one of the worst tragedies in U.S. history doesn't mean that all Muslims share this distorted belief. Finally I would be willing to bet that everyone that died in the 9/11 attacks were not all Christians. A number of faiths lost incredible people on 9/11/2001. All of this brings me to an event that is scheduled to take place on September 11, 2010 & was created by a group in Gainsville, FL. Of all the "holidays" I don't understand this newest one is the one I struggle the most with. A group of Christian radicals actually have created day that will be known as International Burn a Quran Day. Imagine if a town in India decided to create "International Burn a Bible Day." Can you imagine the outrage here in the U.S.?

I'm going to ask you to go back to your elementary school social studies class for a minute. Who remembers what the United States of America was founded on? I know elementary school was a while back for some of us so I will give you a second. The United States of America was founded on religious freedom. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM! One of the many things I love about being an American is that we have the right to worship how we want without the fear of persecution. Well @ least I thought we did. I believe it was French philosopher Voltaire that said, "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Rest assured I do not agree with anything that this "church" in Gainsville is doing but I thank God that I live in a country where this is allowed. When I first heard about this day the only emotion I felt was anger. As I've thought more about it the anger was quickly replaced with pity & sadness. I truly feel sorry for anyone that feels destroying another religion's holy book is a good thing. I've read parts of the Quran just as I've read portions of the Bible & I can tell you that the fundamentals of Islam are not that far off from the fundamentals of Christianity. Are there differences? Of course there are. But the foundation is essentially the same. Every group or religion has pockets of extremists. There are Christian sects that have bombed abortion clinics or killed people in the name of Christ. I'm not a person anyone would ever called a theology expert but I do know that both Allah & Jesus preached love & acceptance, not division & hate.

We live in a world where people are so quick to pass judgement or hate someone because they don't look the same or worship the same. Why would anyone allow hate in their heart? Having hate in your heart seems like an oxymoron to me. Doesn't burning a holy book on one of the worst days in our nation's history take away from the people that lost their lives 9 years ago? This poor attempt @ a tribute is going to take away from the memorials & actual tributes that are scheduled all over this great country of ours. Let 9/11 be a day of remembrance & a celebration of the lives that were lost this day. Burning the Quran any day is a great example of people taking advantage of the rights this country has afforded them. I hope those of you reading this do not support International Burn a Quran Day but more importantly I hope that you don't let one group's narrow mindedness cause you anger. Let's change the dynamic on September 11, 2010 & instead of burning a Quran why not read a couple of passages from it so you will have a better understanding of our Muslim brothers & sisters. Like it or not we are all sharing this space we call Earth & I for one refuse to let something like a difference in beliefs be the reason I choose not to like someone. Everyone that knows me knows my religious beliefs are anything but traditional. But I refuse to accept that a loving God would want us to spend one second tearing down anyone. Let love reign on 9/11 & as Michael Franti says, "Power to the Peaceful."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rise Above


It seems as if we live in a world today where the trendy thing to do is judge. We judge what kind of car people drive, what label they wear & even what causes they support. We are all guilty of this in one way, shape or form & I wish I could say I was the exception but I am not. I’m writing to you all today to ask you to join a movement. This may come as a surprise but I’m not asking you to rally for social injustices or even for a disease. Instead what I’m asking you to do is move away from the judging & let love rule. I know a lot of you are used to me asking for donations or volunteers or even for you to roll your sleeves up & donate blood but today I’m asking for something that each & every one of us has the power to do. Rise above the chaos; accept the fact that we can’t change everything & how arrogant it actually is to think we can. Embrace diversity. Reach out your spirit to others in a positive way so they too can feel the impact of positive energy. Life’s tough enough without holding onto anger & frustration because sometimes people don’t do what we feel they should. It happens to me all the time. But who am I to tell someone how to spend their spare change? Who am I to say just because you feel one way & criticize me for feeling how I do that I am any better because I choose to write about the fact that you’re more narrow-minded than I am. Talk about narrow-minded! I’m guiltier here than anyone because I had the choice to take the highroad yet made a conscious decision to let judgment prevail rather than rising above because I felt my way was the right way. Really? Maybe it’s the best way for me & when it comes right down to it that’s really all that matters. You have to do what’s in the highest & best interest for you which in turn should ultimately be what is in the highest & best interest of the planet. I want to live my life in a way that will leave this planet a little bit better than it was when I first arrived. We are all going to make mistakes & we are all going to pass judgment because guess what? We are HUMAN! All we can do is learn from these mistakes & recognize that we are all here for a reason & those reasons might not all be the same. In fact I would be willing to bet they are not. Remember only you can be the best you.

My cause is no greater than yours. I applaud your passion & appreciate the fact you have a cause. Your God is no greater than mine. Hold onto your faith & I hope it provides you with peace. I commit to you today that I will do my best to uphold the energy level I want to see in the world. I will commit to you today that in doing so I will try my best to ensure that the energy is always one that is in the highest & best interest for the planet not just me. I will also commit to you today that I will stumble & I will not always act with humility although I promise you I will try. Finally I commit to you today that when I do stumble I will not ask for your hand to pick me back up. I will pick myself up & learn from the mistake & make sure that my hand will be there for you the next time you stumble. In my last blog I asked you to “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I don’t know what your “change” is but I will share mine with you now. The change I want to see is one of hope & love. One that is not measured by the size of one’s house or the type a car one drives. One that has nothing to do with money or power. The change I want to see is one of inspiration & one where we all unite to hold up an energy that will literally impact the world on such a positive level that we will never want to go back to our old ways. I thank each & everyone of you for inspiring me to be a better me & I wish you two things…peace & love.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Change




"Be the change you want to see in the world" is a famous quote by one of the most inspiring men in our world's history...Ghandi. Let those words resonate with you for a minute & then remember that a small change can make a big difference. Literally in this case. Last week my faith in the world was dramatically altered & not in a good way. On two separate occasions people had an opportunity to help albeit in a small way but help nonetheless & these people chose to take the low road. What's really sad though is knowing that the two people I saw choose to be some of the lowest forms of life on the evolutionary food chain are probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to someone wanting to make a difference. Allow me to share with you what I had the unfortunate opportunity to witness. The first moment that made my skin crawl was @ a local pet store. The cashier rang the gentleman (let's be realistic here...this is probably the only time this sack of crap is ever going to be referred to as a gentleman so I thought I would allow him is one moment in the sun) in front of me up & his total was somewhere around $8. This store always has a campaign going where you can round your purchase up to the nearest dollar to benefit a particular animal cause. On this day it was greyhounds. Rounding up to $8 for this asshole (see I told you the gentleman comment was a one time thing) would have required him to fork over, are you ready for this, a staggering...30 cents. Now I know what you're thinking, "It's just 30 cents Andrew. What's the big deal?" And if you actually asked that question out loud you need your ass kicked too. "Be the change you want to see in the world." You have an opportunity to help abused animals by donating 30 freaking cents & you say no!? I guess the change this guy wants to see in the world is none! As long as everything is smooth & average in this poor excuse for a human being's life then who cares if any other creatures are suffering. Have you ever seen an animal that's been abused? I hope you haven't because it is one of the most horrifying sites you will ever witness in your life. If you haven't consider yourself lucky. They say every cloud has a silver lining & rest assured this little situation does too. The local pet store I was referring to is that silver lining. Every week this store picks a "pet project" (no pun intended) & then donates the money they raise to that specific cause. On behalf of all of us that have rounded up time & time again I would like to say thank you for giving a damn! The world needs more people like you guys! "Be the change you want to see in the world."

The second situation I was "lucky" enough to be a part of was just as disturbing. I was in line behind a lady (same as the gentleman comment I can assure you) & when her total rung up she paid with cash. This store was promoting their literacy program & asking for any spare change. Hell they weren't even asking you to round up! Once the woman was given her change back (all 60 cents) the cashier asked if she would like to donate some change to their literacy program to which this absolute pathetic excuse for a human being replied simply, "no." I'm sorry did you just say no!? Let me get this straight. Little Billy has an opportunity to learn to read if people like you actually gave a damn about anything other than your sad self but it's way too much to ask for you to drop 60 freaking cents in the literacy jar. What change was this woman trying to be? The answer to that riddle is easy. Obviously she wants to see more illiteracy in this world. Our children are already having to live in a world that scares the hell out of me but the very least we could to is donate some spare change to help them READ!! Yet again though there is a silver lining. This store wants to help people learn to read. Knowledge is power & these people realize that & want to make the world a better place. "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Each & every day you have a chance to make a difference in @ least one person's life. Read that sentence again. You actually have the gift to make a difference in someones life every day! What an amazing opportunity we have as human beings! It's up to you whether or not that change is positive or negative. Something as simple as a few cents can make a huge difference because all those little coins add up. I promise no matter how bad you think your life or current situation is someone out there has it far worse. Why not help them? Would 60 cents keep you from eating dinner? Probably not. Would helping one child learn to read help make the world a little bit of a better place? Probably so. Michael Franti sings in one of his songs, "Reach out a hand to somebody needs a hand & reach out a heart to somebody torn a part. It's hard this livin' this life we've been given." Have any truer words ever been spoken? And keep in mind that the positive changes you make in this world don't always have to be monetarily. Reach out that hand to someone that needs it. Give them your heart so they know @ least one person out there cares. What's the very worst thing that could happen to you? Someone doesn't say thank you for your help is really about all I can think of & if you're giving or helping someone for a thank you then you need the most help of all. Remember, "Be the change you want to see in the world."