Friday, September 15, 2017

Who's On Your Do-Not-Serve List?

There is that customer who never paid me the $1,000 worth of products I sold him back when I was in the distribution business. He is on my "do-not-serve" list.

I can think of two previous cohorts from my past who are on my "do-not-serve" list. One was a quart low on integrity. The other cohort was very emotionally unintelligent.

There are two or three clients-from-hell that had expectations beyond my control, who did not pay their invoices. They are on my "do-not-serve" list.

There are those who use micro aggression excessively (behaviors or statements that do not necessarily reflect malicious intent but which nevertheless can inflict insult or injury), who are on my "do-not-serve" list. They say things like:
 "People pay you to play games with them?!" 
 "You know your gay daughter is going to hell, don't you?"   
 "Why would you move to a state that is so politically backward?" 
 "You 'left wingers' refuse to look at the good things that have taken place."

I, too, have sometimes been micro aggressive without ill intent. I do not mind nor am I offended when someone points out that poor behavior. After all, I am a work in progress.

There are those people who unfriended me on Facebook who put me on their "do-not-serve" list because I did not meet or agree with their political or religious ideology. I think one of them called me unpatriotic and another said I would be spending eternity in hell.

Now that I think about it, there is that one "friend" who is a poor tipper at restaurants who is on my "do-not-serve" list.

 Serving the ignorant, apathetic, the uncompassionate,
Do-Do hitting the fan bumper sticker!
the selfish, is tough. When the do-do hits the fan, competency, compassion and humility go out the window. Self-contol is lost and the need for self-control is essential.

Let's face it, our reputation is connected to our relationships with others. I sneeze, you catch my cold and vice versa. I have experienced this first hand with my blog posts. When egos get in the way, it's an "I" for an "I."

I remember one time I was confronted by a conservative Christian cohort asking if he'd seen me walk into a Unitarian fellowship the previous Sunday. This was true. (He was unaware I had also attended worship at a Christian church earlier in the morning!) I was given a stern warning that I was falling into the den of the devil! It seems some conservative Christians are slower to disassociate with unethical, greedy, misogynistic, egocentric political/social figures and quicker to disassociate with fellow compassionate, humble, just believers!

The fruit of Silence is Prayer. The fruit of Prayer is Faith. The fruit of Faith is Love. The fruit of Love is Service. The fruit of Service is Peace. - Mother Teresa

Jackson Wu asks a powerful question in his April 19, 2017 Patheos post. 

“How intentional are we when it comes to protecting our reputation and maintaining certain relationships?”



Remember that popular question several years ago, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)? At that last supper Christ shared with his disciples, He grabbed a towel and washed His followers' feet. A servant's job, not a leader's job!

Christ's radical inclusion, radical hospitality, agenda-free relationships and service to the marginalized first, leaves me in the dust. I don't know about you, but I've got work to do!

How often do we get sucked into counting losses as wins? Some say if you don't win the final championship game, the season was a failure. When we do this, we are focused on success, gain, status, rather than significance and the difference we make in other people's lives. We need to need those who are different from us. Being significant requires doing away with our "do-not-serve" list. I'd like that to be a part of my legacy. How about you?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Where Does It All Stop?

A little personal background, even though I was born and raised north of the Mason-Dixon line in Dayton, Ohio, my family roots are from the Carolinas. My father was born, raised and his ashes are buried in Charlotte, NC near his father and grandfather. My mother was born in Florence, SC and her ashes are buried next to my father. 

I grew up on black eyed peas, pan fried okra, collard greens and sweet tea. My great, great grandfather's Civil War musket hung over our fireplace in Ohio. While I didn't experience white-black drinking fountains and restrooms in Dayton when I was growing up, I did experience them in Charlotte when we went to visit family.

The Internet has been abuzz with conversation of Charlottesville, VA. I believe it is a good thing. We need to keep having these difficult conversations. We need to learn from each other. We need to confront our ignorance, our denial, our racism. As Brene Brown, the vulnerability researcher and book author, stated in her recent Facebook Live, "We have got to own the story so we can write a different ending." Otherwise the stories own us and we feed our ignorance and denial. So... "Where does it all stop?"

This was a question a friend asked during a recent email exchange that began with an op-ed piece he shared from the Washington Times, Confederate Statues Today, Book Burnings Tomorrow

The article began with,  
     "A crowd of ignorant protesters pulled down a bronze
      Confederate statue that stood before a county government
      building in Durham, North Carolina — the angry national
      backlash to the Charlottesville brouhaha over the Robert E. Lee
      monument."

What evidence is there that this crowd was ignorant? I listened to Takiyah Thompson, the woman who came forth and spoke with courage, intelligence and conviction, who was motivated to act with civil disobedience, knowing quite well what the statue stood for — white supremacy. Remember, these confederate monuments (including Asheville, NC's monument to Zebuion Vance, a confederate military officer, slave owner and NC governor, dedicated in 1903) were erected during the Jim Crow era, to shore up The Cult of a Lost Cause, an era of subtle terrorism to remind whites and blacks who was superior and who dominated. 

Step into her shoes. She shared she had climbed the statue and put the rope around the the neck of the statue like many Blacks had experienced in lynchings. She was promptly arrested. I do not condone the destruction, but I understand the roots of the crowd's actions. At least they destroyed property and not lives. So... "Where does it all stop?"

"Charlottesville brouhaha" - really!? Choice of words matters. Check the definition of brouhaha: a noisy and overexcited reaction or response to something. What happened in Charlottesville was far beyond a brouhaha. One person died and 34 others were injured by a white supremacist driver who drove his car into a group of counter protesters (plus two police officers died when their helicopter crashed on patrol during the protests). Was the May 26, 2017, attack by a white supremacist in Portland, OR who killed two men a brouhaha? Was the white supremacist who killed a 66-year- old Black stranger in Manhattan on March 20, 2017, a brouhaha? So... "Where does it all stop?"

Fact: "The terrorist threat in the United States is almost entirely homegrown, as no foreign terrorist organization has successfully directed and orchestrated an attack in the United States since 9/11." - New America

Further in the article, 
     "The problem with revising history based on a standard of
      “feeling offensive”— as this anti Confederate craze is rooted
       — is that someone, somewhere will always take offense at
       something."

     "Those who don’t know history are fated to relive it. If nothing
      else, Confederate monuments should stand as a reminder of
      America’s history and an opportunity for passersby to reflect."

While Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison did own slaves, they were not of the same mindset as Stonewall Jackson, Robert E Lee and the other Confederate leaders. They truly wrestled with the Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal," disagreeing with the cornerstone of the confederacy, "that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to superior race is his natural and normal condition." - Alexander Stephens, Confederate Vice President 

"African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing."
- Jefferson Davis, Confederate President

Go back and look at history. Begin by what Robert E Lee said about monuments after the Civil War.

      “I think it wiser,” the retired military leader wrote about a
        proposed Gettysburg memorial in 1869, “… not to keep open
        the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations
        who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to
        commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”  

Listen or read New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's eloquent, truthful, thought-provoking speech of May 19, 2017, on removing four Confederate monuments. He revisits the horror of being a Black slave and the missing history of their lives. Where are the monuments to slave ships, slave markets, lynchings and slave pens? It has not been until recently we decided to remember and acknowledge this most unpleasant past with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C. President George W. Bush reminded us at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

So... "Where does it all stop?"  

It all stops when everyone beginning with the POTUS, Congress, religious leaders, corporate leaders, you, me take ownership of our nation's story, its history, and write a different ending.

I have been asked to speak to a congregation about my journey as a privileged, white, right-handed, able-bodied, Christian, heterosexual, older male and how I am confronting my bias and using my privilege to help those who lack my privilege. Before I speak to this group, who will no doubt look like me, I will check my implicit bias and share the results with those in attendance. I am going to own my story. I do this not to shame myself, but to remind myself I have work to do and that I have not reached the needed destination of serving all with equity and inclusion, to truly live the second greatest commandment of my Christian faith. I am continuing to evolve and trying to leave this world better than I found it.

I am going to close this blog with a prayer from Rev. Jill Duffield, Charlottesville, Virginia

Sweet Jesus, what has happened to your beloved world? What darkness is on the loose when those who hate their neighbors pray in your name and ask for your blessing? 

You have told us, O Lord, what is good: to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with you, and yet there are those among us who wield machine guns to intimidate and chant vitriolic rhetoric to terrorize, and ram cars intentionally into crowds to kill. 

Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

We have no hope save in you. We have no hope to stop the violence and stem the racism and cease the destruction, save in you. Save us now.

Prince of peace, you tell us to pray for those who persecute us and love our enemies, but right now, in this moment, those prayers are not readily on our lips. Help us. Intercede for us.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you even if, in this moment, they are colored with anger and weariness and questions about your presence during the storm.

What next, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, when we are right in the middle of the chaos and the killing and the carnage? We know that justice will roll down like water and that crying and death will be no more someday, but we need to know what to do this very day.

This very day you have made. Creator God, Living God, God of the new thing, the very good thing, show us where to be and what to do and how to be the light and the salt and the leaven and the love you call us to be.

Precious Lord, take our hands, lead us home to the place you prepared for us and give us rest. Put us beside still waters and overflow our cups with grace upon grace until it spills into the streets and washes away the evil in our land. Wash us and we will be clean. Made new. Clothed and in our right minds. Together.

All powerful and promise keeping God, make it so. Sweet Jesus, make us so.   

                            - Prayer By: Rev. Jill Duffield, Charlottesville, VA

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Do You Get What You Need?

Several years ago, I got a photo text from our daughter of a credit card dinner receipt with a hard-to-read signature. Her message read, "Guess who I just served?!"

I texted back, "Whose signature is this?"

She texted back, "Mick Jagger!" 

I immediately texted back, "Did you tell him that you grew up with your father singing 'You can't always get what you want' whenever you or your brother couldn't have the object of your desire?"
 
I saw her today at the reception 
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection

At her feet was footloose man 

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need 

I want that $60,000 fire-breathing, acoustic surround-sound, ego-boosting, testosterone fueled, head-turning all-wheel-drive king-of-the-road painted metallic midnight black that says, "Look at me, NOW!" I'd not only look
good sitting behind the wheel, but it would sound impressive when I tell people what I drive. Black Beauty could tow that weekend condo on wheels with the four HD flat screen TVs to some remote location far from the little people. Never mind the budget-busting price tag, yolo.  

What I need is to live below my means, under budget and not add to my stress. I need to reduce my carbon footprint and contribute to making spaceship earth a better place for tomorrow's child. I need to to clean up and tune up my 40 mpg four cylinder people mover. I need to use mass transit, carpool and connect with others more often. I need to unplug from the screens, get outdoors, hike with family and friends up off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna blow a 50-amp fuse" 
 

  
                                              
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need 

 
Many of the conflicts and crisis we are facing in the United States center around a conversation of "what I want" versus "what I need," as well as recognizing "what others need." 

I may want women raping, job-stealing, Satan-worshipping people from backward third-world dust-bowl sand-filled countries to go back to where they come from and stay behind the wall out of sight and out of mind. 

What I need to remember is my great-great grandparents were immigrants who came to this land to escape repression and try to create a better life. I need to seek to understand others who are not like me who want a piece of what I want and are willing to sacrifice to achieve it. I need to understand how we are more alike than different. I need to create and set a bigger table than build a taller wall. I need to walk-the-talk of what I believe as follower of Christ.

Have we lost our ability to care what others need? It's the Golden Rule. It's the second greatest commandment of the Christian faith.

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead"
I said to him 


You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need
 


The way we make decisions for our wants is different from the decisions we make for our needs. Our decision making for our wants can lack logic, common sense, and compassionate thinking. Our wants decision making is usually short term and in the moment. Our wants may be tainted with greed. They can be selfish and inconsiderate of others. Many times our wants ignore or dismiss the self-discipline of delaying gratification, accepting responsibility, accepting truth is reality and creating balance in our lives.

The fact is we live in a consumer-driven, 'imitate this,' 'me first,' 'I want what I want, NOW!,' 'it's all about me!' society,
which fuels our wants. Personally, I know I can get caught up in stuff I want without accounting for so little amount of stuff I need!

What I really I need is more compassion and humility. I need to overcome my implicit bias. I need to ask more than I tell. I need to love more and fear less. Most of all, I need to be more grateful more often for what I'm blessed. To live into these needs is to Carrpe Diem! - seize the day!

Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten nailed it! Did we forget what we learned?

The main lessons we were taught in kindergarten:
- share everything
- play fair 
- don't hit people
- say you're sorry when you hurt somebody
- when you go out into the world ... hold hands ... stick together

You get what you need, yeah, oh baby 
I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands 



You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

How do you feel after you get what you want? How soon do the endorphins wear off after you get what you want? How soon until the next shiny object of desire gets into your sights of want

Next time you have an urge for a want, push your pause button and ask what do you need. I want another beer, but I need to drive sober and I need to lose weight. I want that new best selling book. I need to read what is on my desk at home. I need to save money and I need to go the library.

What if we wanted what we needed?

If we are going to get back to what we need rather than what we want, it will require critical thinking, self-discipline, consideration of others and gratitude for what we already have.

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

 
Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger
You Can't Always Get What You Want lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc