Tuesday, May 27, 2014

With the Entirety of Me...

My heart has beaten billions of times before I met you

But it beats a different beat now

It beats in unison with yours

When you exhale, I inhale

When I exhale, you inhale

When you smile, it is my lips that turn upward

When you cry, I feel your tears run down my cheek

When you open your eyes in the morning, it is me who awakens

When you close your eyes at night, it is me who dreams

We are one heartbeat

One body

One soul

I love you with the entirety of me

With all that I am

With all that I've ever been

And with all that I could ever hope to be...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sometimes a name is more than just a name...

"History is littered with people who have vowed never to change something -- slavery, immigration, women's rights -- so we think one thing that's really great about this country is when many people speak out, change can happen," ~ Ray Halbritter, Spokesman for the Oneida Indian Nation

In the last 20 years there has been an ongoing debate about the appropriateness of the National Football League's Washington Redskin's team nickname. Many people feel that it is blatantly offensive, while others feel that it is simply a team nickname and that those taking offense to it are taking political correctness too far.

The team's owner, Daniel Snyder, has repeatedly said that he will not change the team nickname - no matter how much public pressure he comes under. He has echoed this sentiment in several nationally televised interviews during the past year. In defending the team's name, he cites the fact that eight out of 10 Americans polled do not find the name offensive.

So is that the standard by which we view something as right or wrong? National public opinion? Would we have relied on national polls when President Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation? If that were the case it would've never passed. Just because the majority favors something does not make it right. In a true democracy, the minority should have an equal voice, not just a representative voice.

The term "Redskins" refers to the stereotypical red skin of Native Americans. Is it really okay for a team's nickname to be describing an ethnicity's skin color? Are we really saying that that is okay? What if a team's nickname was the Boston Blacks, or the Chinatown Yellows, or the New Mexico Brownies? Would that be okay?

Several teams have changed their derogatory Native American nicknames in the past few years (St. John's University, Miami University of Ohio, and Syracuse University to name a few). It's simply the right thing to do.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Snyder will join the right side of history here.

I realize I was very outspoken in my opinion on this topic, so I wish no disrespect to anybody who disagrees with me on this. It's just something I feel very passionate about.

What are your thoughts on this controversy?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Helping Hands; Healing Hearts

Looking back, I do not know what has brought us to this difficult place 

But these tough times will never erase the smile from our face

Our dire circumstances will never define who we are 

We will always stick together, night or day, near or far 

We will never stop believing, brighter days are surely ahead 

I know that one day soon, we will lay our heads down once again in a warm bed 

It doesn't matter that car after car passes us by 

You will always have me to lean on, whenever you need to cry

We may not have a penny to our name, nor a single bite of food on our plate 

But I promise you that we will never stop believing, because it will never be too late 

I wrote this poem last night after being inspired by something I witnessed. I was going to the grocery store when I saw a young couple standing at the corner near one of the stop lights. They were holding up a cardboard sign that said "hungry and in need of help. Anything would be a blessing". The man was standing and holding the sign, while the woman was sitting in the grass giving their little dog some water out of a bowl. They looked so happy despite their hard times. Luckily I had a little cash in my car so I rolled down my window and gave them $5 while stopped at the light. They were so incredibly gracious.

The light turned green not 5 seconds after this happened so I moved forward along with the procession of cars behind me. As I watched them in the rear-view mirror I could not get this young couple out of my head. What had led them to this place? What had happened in their lives to bring such hard times upon them? What kind of desperation must they feel in order to publicly ask for help like this?

It also led me to other questions. Why do we as a society judge people that are in this situation? Why do we assume that they are just lazy people looking for a handout? Why do we assume that they are going to use the money on booze or drugs? What gives us the right to assume such things

Why do we not assume that they may legitimately need help? Why do we not assume that they may have legitimately fallen on hard times? Do we not all know somebody who has fallen on incredibly hard times? 

Why do we dehumanize our fellow human beings? 

I do not know who this young couple was, what road has led them here, or what road awaits them in the future. What I do know is that they are human beings with hopes, dreams, fears, and feelings just like the rest of us. I refuse to pass judgment on them when I have no idea what circumstances led them to this point.

Perhaps they just need one person to listen to them. One person to help them. One person to reach out to them. One person to believe in them. After all, if we cannot reach out to our fellow man when they have fallen on hard times, who will reach out to us...?

Do you feel that we as a society dehumanize the homeless and the downtrodden? Do you have any experiences you can share with us?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I Believe That Trees Have Souls...

“I hear the wind among the trees
Playing the celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Trees have always fascinated me. I have felt a connection to them ever since childhood. I used to love spending hours upon hours in the woods surrounded by these majestic beings. I used to love climbing them and exploring them. I took a nasty spill out of one when I was 11 years old and that taught me a lesson about climbing them too carelessly :-) 

Whenever I go hiking, which is frequently, I love spending time with the trees. To me they are not  inanimate objects. After all, they are living things. I believe trees have souls. I believe every single tree has a story. I believe they are to be cherished and respected.

When I was a little boy we had a wood-burning stove. One day I accompanied my father and two friends of his as they cut down trees to prepare for winter. I will never forget feeling overwhelmingly sad when I saw the trees being cut down. My father and his friends saw this and thought this was ridiculous.

Ridiculous as it may have been, that is when I realized that I had a deep connection with trees, a connection that I would feel for the rest of my life. If anything, it has only grown stronger with time. When I read about the rapid rate of deforestation in the world, I become incredibly sad. Can you imagine a world without forests? A world without trees?

I read recently that there are some trees in this world that are almost 5,000 years old. Can you believe that?! Just let that sink into your mind for a second, that there are trees in this world right now that were here before the Great Pyramids were built, before Stonehenge was built. 

That's so incredibly amazing to me!

I was raised to always respect my elders, and that's why I believe we should love, listen to, and respect trees.

What is your relationship with trees?