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Posts Tagged “thoughts”

I have long been a fan of the sport of boxing. My Greatest of All Time is obviously Muhammad Ali. One other champion of note is Mike Tyson. In thinking about them, their careers and their impact on the sport and society, it occurred to me that though they both were Heavyweight champions, they had distinctly different responses after their defeats.

Of the five losses in the Ali career, I never recall him blaming the loss on anyone other than himself…never seeking to blame the opponent or undermine their credibility. Yet, with Mike Tyson, his two most compelling losses, to Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield will be forever remembered as him blaming the referee and then for losing his composure and biting the ear of Holyfield.

These comparisons are so inspiring to me as we face such challenging circumstances in America and around the world. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around as we become more aware of the disparities in the wealth of the top 1% of Americans and the remaining 99%. Yet, do we really benefit from feeling like victims…or do we now face, like Ali, that we must strengthen our resolve to regain control of our communities, city, state and federal governments?

Both Ali and Tyson were convicted of federal offenses…yet the difference in what they did after they “paid their dues to society” are as far apart as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. One went from villain to folk hero to icon, the other from feared fighter to foolish freakster to reality television clown. One taking responsibility for his actions, the other not.

As many of us rebuild our lives and seek a new sense of direction personally and collectively, it is my belief that we must be like Ali, and take the position that we are going to bounce back and regain our sense of direction and purpose again. This may require going back to school, spending our money with local businesses versus the “big box” conglomerates, and teaching our children that it is possible to wait for that “new” thing that is being marketed as a must-have-today item.

Choosing a Tyson-like response will reap only more of the self-indulgence that brings about certain doom and despair. Since we have had 30 years of this since Ronald Reagan’s voodoo economics, it’s undoubtedly time for a new way to live.

And so in life as in boxing let’s do all we can to insure that at the end of the bout our glove will be raised as the ring announcer says, “And the winner is…”

Peace.

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Flip The Script…

One has to wonder these days as we Americans prepare for the looming Christmas holiday season, what level of guilt will be heaped upon us by retailers. In looking back at the past ten years, we have gone from being scolded for being a people who had lost our ability to save money, with our ever-expanding credit lines proof of our need to have it now, to being urged to spend money that many people do not have. The good times had rolled…up and over many of us.

Then the rules, and the game changed.

So much so that today, the home I am seeking to keep out of BK…is worth less than when it was appraised in 2000. My credit score is as upside-down as my mortgage…and cash is once again all that matters. Unless, of course, you had the foresight to buy gold at $400 per ounce. Let me check my jewelry drawer for some hidden treasures that I can send in to Cash-For-Gold.

So, with my tongue firmly in cheek, I have come to the conclusion that we are deep in dog poo…because we have been scolded about our need to save money. Yet, GW Bush, after 9/11, told us to go shopping and show the terrorists that our way of living would not be undermined by a few planes slamming into buildings.

Just last week I heard that the path to economic recovery will be traveled when consumers begin spending money again. And unless that happens the chances are good that we will slip into another recession. When did the first recession end? I ask friends, family members and fellow business owners that question, and most agree that the debt storm, and personal budget crisis, has not yet cleared in their lives.

I have a different thought as to how this never-ending financial crisis can be put to bed. Congress can mandate that the banks, some of whom were given taxpayer money in the form of a bailout…give every household a grant of ten thousand dollars. Imagine what you might use that money for; a remodel project in your house (Home Depot and a contractor will benefit), new furniture (Sears and Macy’s would be happy), and maybe even purchase new equipment in your business.

One truth that we rarely hear from the economic experts, is that corporate America needs to reinvest in her people…they are cash rich and people poor. There must be a few people who can answer a customer service question about your laptop, in plain English, and who would pay taxes on that income. Is there an India-based company that hires Americans?

Let’s make enough noise this week for Wall Street, Main Street and Bourbon Street to recognize that we are awakening from our slumber and will not be tricked into believing that red is blue and that we are to blame for the woes of the world.

We are Americans.

Peace.

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Dumb Down Democracy…

As I reviewed the media coverage from this past weekend’s Iowa County Fair debate, and subsequent straw poll for the Republicans who aspire to run for the United States Presidency in 2012, I found a few things rather amusing. Or amazing…

First, how in the heck can anyone truly have a serious opinion about a potential presidential candidate from a few sound bites and scripted clichés espoused at a county fair…in Iowa. Now, with respect to the state of Iowa, a place which is less than 3 hours drive from my hometown of Peoria, Illinois, I wonder how a few fair goers can accurately discern the real value of a person whose only thought is to get you to like them.

Secondly, and even more disturbing, is the media coverage that was afforded to Sarah Palin, yes, that Sarah Palin. The woman who quit her job as Governor of Alaska, in order to sell her book and make a boatload of money. As I saw Palin signing autographs for people over the weekend in Iowa, it struck me…that many Americans would rather have a person whose intellect is questionable, by her own political party, instead of a brilliant, well educated man of color. And the man of color in the GOP who also spoke over the weekend, had fewer than 10 people surrounding him as he sought to mingle with the fair attendees. Sarah Palin had a hundred people within arms reach of her.

So, the media will play quite an important role in helping to shape, by it’s choice of what to give air time to, and what to allow to just evaporate…and they’re hoping that you won’t be paying attention.

We just went through weeks of Congress’ dare gaming regarding a debt ceiling debate, only to have them go on vacation and leave this country in a worse mess than before. Could you do that at your place of employment? That is presuming that you still have a job…

So, in closing, I ask that each of us truly become better informed now, a year before the election of 2012. Talk with your friends and family…so that we can think rationally and discuss sensibly, the real issues that will impact our lives. How corporate tax breaks are padding the cash coffers for most corporations. How the ability of the wealthy to elude fair taxes is a Congress-led shell game of major proportions. And that more of us will continue to slide farther from the American dream into the new American nightmare.

Just remember that I told you so when the swelling numbers of disenfranchised U.S. citizens decide that the time for talking is over…and the revolution will be more than televised. It will be live and in living color. Make sure you realize that the reset button you are so used to hitting on your favorite video game will not be enough. How dumb can that be?
Peace.

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We’re All in This Together…

While taking my daughter and her dog, Lovey, out for an evening walk, it became crystal clear to me how to solve some of the challenges that face our cities, country and world. Speak to me…

In my little corner of the world, Hercules, California, we have had our share of less-than-flattering press the past 6 months. The hillside less than 100 yards from my home had slid down again, destroying 6 homes…the then city manager was run out of office after it was learned that he had a number of shady deals with developers…with our city now facing financial meltdown. And the final act was holding a special election this summer to unseat 3 city council members who were all too agreeable with that crooked city manager…Hercules, Hercules, Hercules. Not laughing at that movie moment anymore.

But tonight while we walked for more than 30 minutes, my belief in our city was renewed. For you see, we were not the only ones out for a walk with our canine friends. So were many of our neighbors…and the most beautiful things began to happen. We acknowledged one another and spoke. Hello. Hi. Even just the simple nod of the head to say, I see you. Ah yes…a small but significant throwback to my childhood days, when neighbors knew one another and cared, at least on the surface.

It was good to see the Indian elder dressed in his white garb, the Filipino couple with their frisky dogs, the African American male doing his best to keep his two dogs from running too fast before him, and the Caucasian woman who took time to talk with Meisha and comment how cute her dog is. We really are all in this together.

Maybe, just maybe, we can send this message to Congress. Those elected officials who are sworn to serve in OUR best interests. Not those of corporate America or the lobbyists with millions of dollars to peddle influence. Nope. Just us neighbors who are the backbone of this once proud democracy. We the People…

During the last 10 minutes of our walk I heard this song in my head, and I hope you will listen to the lyrics…and remember that there is so much more about us that is similar than not.

Do me a favor today, make it a point to speak to your neighbor, the person in line at the grocery store, the older man or woman who is looking into your eyes, looking to see if your humanity is alive and willing…

We’re All in This Together.

Peace.

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Staying stuck on stupid…

We are living in a truly amazing time. On one hand we have electronic products that even the Jetson’s would envy; smart phones, iPad and iPod, and Goof Off. The last item is a substance that you apply to something that has a backing of glue, and is stuck to a wall, cabinet or other surface. The Kryptonite to Duct tape.

As unbelievable as those items are, what is more unsettling to me is that we are on the brink of the biggest internal “gunfight at high noon” since the civil rights struggles of the early ‘60’s. Can you remember George Wallace, then the Governor of Alabama, blocking the doorway to the University that sought to admit a Black student? Before it was all over, President Kennedy needed to send National Guard troops to protect citizens.

The 800-pound gorilla that is beating its chest and preparing to devour us is the stand off between Republicans and Democrats, and their selfish posturing surrounding the raising of the national debt ceiling. Funny how millionaires in government are now deciding to allow a possible government default…with the President seeking to play the role of Harry Truman with the proverbial “buck stopping here.”

I wonder and ask you to also consider what it will take for Americans on “Main Street” to realize that for 10 plus years the United States has borrowed much more money than it has received. Any businessperson knows that it is a quick road to ruin, when you pay out more than you bring in. And here we are, looking the landlord in the face and seem to be willing to say; “I am not going to pay you today.”

We, the people, hold the largest ticket to this dance, as we hold Treasury bonds, and can force the Government to pay up…now. We need to instruct Congress, who are our employees, that to default on our agreement with our people, is a sure path to destruction. And to them being voted out in the next election. Maybe it will take the Gray Panthers, AARP, and other politically savvy organizations to turn up their collective heat on the elected leaders, who believe that painting our President into a corner in public is patriotic. It is anything but…

Use your voice on Face Book, Twitter, and other means to let people know that we will not allow this great country to be embarrassed by a handful of political zealots.

We can demonstrate that we are not stupid…but are empowered to use the democratic process to protect our most vulnerable citizens. Please excuse me while I go fetch my bottle of Goof Off and prepare to release some frustration on our Congress…

Peace.

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Victory in The Valley

Isn’t it strange that we often hear religious leaders and the like discuss how wonderful it will be to rise out of our “valley” experiences and achieve our “mountain top” successes?” That mindset would have us to believe that it is only when we have come out of that valley, be it from the death of a family member, loss of a friendship, divorce…all things that can cause us to lose sight of the euphoria that comes from being on top of our mountain, that we can have true happiness. I am proof that the greater lesson is learned on the path, though the valley.

The past two years have shown me that we can have our valley experience and come into a closer relationship with our Creator, and ultimately, ourselves. The journey is what is important…not just the destination.

Maybe I am not the only one who has historically focused too often on those things that I felt I was lacking…and not giving enough thanks and gratitude for that which is right in front of me. Sure, I don’t have my two 42” plasma big screen TV’s anymore, but I have my family who has loved me with the 20” old-school television…until I was blessed last week with a new 32” LCD flat screen that is the BOMB.

They are only happy that they don’t have to squint anymore to see their favorite shows, while I am ever mindful that this is another small step in reclaiming my new life. See, the valley times help them to learn to be patient as we journey towards renewal. There is so much power and truth in that saying, “In God’s time.”

So, take inventory today of where you are and what you are learning in this valley time of life. Celebrate today that you have__________________. Fill in your own blessings.

I look forward to many more valley experiences, knowing that I can walk through it because He has me in His hand and that the mountaintop is just around the bend.

Peace.

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It seems the older I become the more I reminisce about things from my “good old days.” One of the things that I recall is the image of girls skipping along the sidewalks of our neighborhoods and on schoolyards. It is as pure an activity as any that embodies the innocence of childhood playfulness and frivolity. Just as one is unable to smile and be angry simultaneously, I believe it is just as impossible to skip along and be mad at your friends.

When is the last time you saw children skipping along? How did we as a society lose that piece of our childhood innocence? What has replaced it?

As the father of a now eight-year old daughter, I wish for her to have the childhood that I remember where the neighborhood was a place that was safe and fun. Where we could play simple games with our fellow residents, and even those from other blocks, when our biggest concern was to insure we got into the house before the streetlights came on.

Rather than criticize the state of affairs facing our children today, I am seeking to make their time as children better and safer. It will take a number of us, especially the men, to create a “safety zone” for our children. What will you do to give them the same chances to create happy moments in their development as grown-all-too-soon people?

It might take a few dollars to buy a few jump ropes, baseballs and gloves, and a football. They will gravitate to that which makes them laugh and have fun. Outdoors. In the sunlight. With each other. And if you add some Kool-Aid to the equation, your home will be the place to be this summer. It is my belief that your block will be the one that will be fondly remembered by these kids a generation from now.

And the activity of skipping by our daughters will be preserved once more.

Peace.

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April 22, 2011

There was this Man…

I can’t say I ever had the opportunity to meet Him in person, but I do know that I have felt a kinship with Him for most of my life. He made quite an impact on me, and millions of others, many years ago. In fact, He changed our concept of how we must treat each other…with no concern for pedigree or position in society.

This man had no formal education, yet He was considered a Master teacher. He never wrote a single book, poem or song…yet many quote Him on a daily basis. Now it is strange that this man told the government of the day that His Father sent him to share the good news of a new kingdom on Earth…they were intrigued, intimidated and determined to maintain their authority. Hmmm. Sounds rather familiar to today, yes?

The man even told His friends that He had to leave soon and would see them again after He had been killed. Spooky but spirit-driven. All but one believed. The phrase doubting Thomas must have originated 2000 years ago.

As we consider how to love our neighbors, care for our families and commit to living a life of service, consider that this Man held no office, owned no property or took a wife. Yet He called us family. And told of our inheritance in the Kingdom. What kind of love is this?

And his own turned against Him because he did not overthrow the Roman Empire with an army, militia or mercenaries. He was acquitted by the court of law but condemned by the people’s court. Just because He did not give them what they expected…physical freedom. Yet, the freedom of spirit He spoke of was more than enough; it just took time and faith.

Remember today the man who gave all that He had…for you. Would YOU?

Peace.

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Baby steps to bangs…

Today is the 8th anniversary of the birth of my youngest daughter, Meisha Kalila Lampkin. It was only a few short years ago that we celebrated her taking her first steps. And now she runs faster than many of her friends. Just recently she let me know that she is not a little girl anymore, when she said she could now do her own hair. What, the old ponytail in the back is not good enough? No. She now wants bangs….oh man.

She is truly a gift from God, and keeps me laughing about things that I would have likely never known about without her in my life; Sponge Bob, Hannah Montana and iCarly just to name a few…what is coming next, at my age, is going to be quite an experience. It is during these times that I realize the importance of telling our children how much we love them and want them to be good people as they mature. I don’t want her to have any doubt about how I feel about her.

I often sit and watch as she interacts with her schoolmates, our family and even new acquaintances, and am grateful that God gave me another opportunity to get it right as a parent. For being a father who can say “no” without guilt seems to be a rare quality in these ultra-permissive times. Yet, I want her to remain my little girl for as long as possible. What kind of world will she inherit? It is the major question I ask myself…and you.

Let’s take inventory today of how we live, interact and prepare for a more global environment where people will live longer and require more services than ever in our history. Will American culture learn to honor the elders of society and the wisdom and experiences that have shaped them, or will we be cast aside like an unwanted or broken electronic game? I believe we are at a major crossroads.

So, enjoy the beauty of Spring and I shall be ever humbled by the majesty of life as I celebrate my daughter’s 8th birthday…a truly sacred gift from the Creator.

Peace.

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Who Do You THINK You Are?

Most of us born before 1965 can remember that statement/question being asked, often in a not-too-friendly manner. It usually came out of frustration when someone wanted to remind you to stay in your place. This week I have a new focus for that statement.

I recently had lunch with a friend I had not seen in a few years. Once we got past the customary queries regarding our families, local sports teams and the problems with the local worship community, we settled into a debate on how men of our age are faring in this challenging job market.

My friend has worked with a couple of large financial institutions, a non-profit organization and even sits on a board of another community organization. But somehow he has been unemployed for almost a year.

Then when I prodded him about why he is not getting something of value monetarily from these affiliations, even an occasional consulting assignment, he said the words that locked me into him for the remainder of the lunch. He said he’d rather have a good paying job with an organization rather than a few consulting gigs…really?

Since then I have sought to understand how men of our “maturity” can believe that we will get a fair shot at any job openings where the choice is between us and a person half our age and likely, willing to work for half our well-deserved compensation.

American companies, it has been reported this week, are awash in cash…and the stock market is on a steady incline. Yet, no mid-level management openings are being created. Maybe it is a case of you-show-me-yours-then-I-will-show-you-mine…someone has to make a move. First.

As more and more intellectuals are proving, our thoughts truly are powerful instruments. They feed us the words that shape our actions, and inevitably, our destiny. Have you heard someone say something that is obviously the opposite of who they are and what they have espoused as their “life purpose?” Which is the truth?

By the end of our lunch as we were saying our goodbyes, he was about to say the same thing regarding getting a job versus entrepreneurship, and he caught himself…and said, I guess I should change my thinking. Yep. Another mind now prepped for the new marketplace paradigm, which is here to stay.

Now, who do you think you are?

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