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16 December 2014

THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS DOESN'T CONTRADICT GENERATIONS OF LOVE AND GOODWILL.

A Family 'breaking bread' in Celebration of Christmas
I wrote the following piece 12/2011 in response to a debate over the meaning of Christmas and how commercialized it had become with a few colleagues. The debate continues to this day about how those who are believers view the customs and the rites that have become a mainstay leading up to the designated date of Jesus' birth.  Again, I can't emphasize enough that the spirit of how he lived his life and treated others while on this earthly plane should serve as the blueprint for humanity.  For if we treat each other with grace, love,compassion and assistance; that would be a true celebration of his missionJesus didn't marginalized those seen as the outcasts of his day and I wonder how he would respond to the harsh line some "Christians" maintain towards those whom by happenstance and choices have been forsaken and lead poverty stricken and desperate lives. 

{12/20/2011 Post}
I was reading an article by Veritas Curat in the Daily Kos on The Real Meaning of Christmas.  It was lengthy and provided a wealth of information.  Some of it I didn't know (did some research) and some of it I had read from other sources and frankly forgot about over the years.

Numerous sources as well as the writer of this article addressed how some aspects of paganism became a part of the celebration with in-depth clarity.  No one knows for sure when Jesus was born but as a political move and a means of converting others to Christianity , the Romans decided to celebrate the "True Nativity" on December 25th. The latter date was actually close to the timeline when the "heathens" would glorify the birthday of the Sun (Winter Solstice). The decorated tree, holly, festivals of lights, gift giving as well as other pagan rites became a part of what we celebrate now as Christmas. The middle and upper classes were responsible for the commercialization  of the "holy-day" and it's been an ongoing struggle between the religious community and the capitalists  over the "true meaning" of the holiday.


There was a time when I questioned trimming a tree, decorating the house and buying gifts, however, I've come to realize that they aren't distractions for many of us.  The true meaning of Christmas reigns and it's manifested in outreach activities that entail providing food, lodging, clothing and a myriad of services for the"least of these" and those who have encountered unforeseen hardships. As one who leans more towards spirituality and ecumenical beliefs; I see no contradiction in celebrating centuries of love and goodwill to others with or without the 'trappings'.

With all that said; I believe that this "holy-day" represents the best of humanity and  families who draw strength and purpose from celebrating love, tolerance,goodwill and caring for others. For Christian believers, it's foremost the celebration of the birth of a baby who became to many a savior destined to redeem humankind with grace and salvation.  His name is Jesus Christ.

25 November 2014

THANKFULNESS/GRATITUDE/THANKSGIVING 2014 UPDATE

 This is a re-posting of my Thanksgiving messages of 2013.  We are, again, at the crossroads of human suffering with a lot of recent trauma related to the killings of unarmed black youth, pathological hatred,  justice denied, overall escalation of human misery, global wars, persecution, genocide and the unremitting and daunting effects of poverty. The latter is just to name a few.  In the midst of all this...we continue to  publicly celebrate the rite of Thanksgiving.  Acts of kindness still abound, many people are doing well despite the hardships expressed which is usually the case.  "Many things are true at once" , however, we must not forget or fail to continue to advocate and diligently work for changes that enhance humanity and lend to making subsequent Thanksgivings more meaningful.
 
"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.  Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse." ~ Henry Van Dyke ~

'Together We Give Thanks' ~ Kathrerine Roundtree
It's that time of the year again and I find myself still trying to reconcile the concepts of being thankful or grateful for what we have and frankly what we hope that we'll keep and certainly relieved that things aren't as bad as they are for much of humanity. "Fearing to lose what you have is not the same as appreciation" ~ Terry Guillemets ~
I've written several posts on this holiday from different perspectives including that of some Native Americans.{ See link 'National Day of Mourning.'} There are the exasperated  sighs  from  folks who find some form of gratitude or thankfulness in the most dire circumstances when they encounter people like me. Their perceptions are that we are the ones hardwired to focus more on the maladies of humankind instead of being thankful for those blessings that others share or for those who are doing relatively well despite their problems.  The consideration of societal and individual limitations coupled with solution building can enhance one's ability to be truly grateful in the face of dreaded happenstances.  As a collective we should give thanks.  I do believe that.
There is, however, a passage from one of Dr. King's sermons that reinforces my perception that we should always shine a light on and work towards the resolution of the suffering and injustice that much of humanity endures on a daily basis. The celebrated day of Thanksgiving is no exception.  The passage reads: "The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

With that said; I  enjoy reading articles and collecting quotes on thankfulness and gratitude. Many of them made a distinction between being thankful and having gratitude.


"Being thankful is to acknowledge the contributions of others. While, thankfulness represents an understanding of such contributions, it does not necessarily represent a deep, heartfelt embrace of the contributions."
"Having gratitude is to really feel and embrace the contributions of others and the power of the universe in your life.  Gratitude moves the intellectual acknowledgement of being thankful to a deep feeling representing the intersection of intellect and soul."  ~ Wecare ~

This policy for the uninsured under constant fire!

Gratitude is a real, palpable feeling, like pleasure or pain, and thankfulness is the most natural response to it. Two distinctly different things, joined at the hip." ~ Alan Roettinger ~




"It makes it difficult for many of us to find a reason to be thankful. Of course we have heard time and time again that there is always some one experiencing greater hardship than we are, and although true, it does not always make our personal hardships any less painful." 

"Life indeed is a roller coaster ride, enjoy the highs and find reasons to be thankful for during the lows and you will make out just fine."  ~Michael Szczepanik ~






"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."  ~ Maya Angelou ~

23 November 2014

The Duplicitous and Deceptive Behaviors of Bill Cosby & Ultimately His Downfall!

I've been reading a number of articles about what many are calling the 'deconstruction' of Bill Cosby and the comments made by the readers of these articles which I found confounding as well as interesting. There are several of these articles that I'd like to share on this post with an update regarding Beverly Johnson's allegations that support the pattern of drugging that his accusers maintain..  One of them featured in Salon is Dr. Cooper's assessment which was especially poignant regarding the tragedy of this situation and the years of dishonesty, reprehensible behaviors and betrayal of women including his wife.  It's even more heartbreaking for it seems more telling now that his brutal (some call it tough love affronts) and verbal assaults against young men, women of color and blacks in general a smokescreen.  The latter a result of his private demons and displacement of  feelings about his aberrant behaviors over the years.  Dr. Cooper's take is as follows:

We must abandon Bill Cosby: A broken trust with women, black America.

   
  Brittney Cooper Brittney Cooper is a contributing writer at Salon, and teaches Women's and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers. Follow her on Twitter at @professorcrunk



A few more observations on this sad state of affairs:

26 October 2014

The Bottom Line on Toni Morrison's Papers: It's Her Choice

I debated whether or not I should post my opinion(s) to current controversy over Ms. Morrison's decision to house her papers at Princeton given that she was a student, teacher and actually began writing 'The Bluest Eye' at Howard University.  As with most of these self-inflicted dilemmas; I've decided to do so.

It further occurred to me if, indeed, the masses of black folks with more pressing concerns would really care.  This is all so academic and as one pundit indicated quite elitist.  However, we do live in the era of public intellectualism and an interest in literary works that spans across all socioeconomic lines. The internet, public radio/t.v. and cable have contributed to informing the public on a variety of subjects. Ms. Morrison has also presented and continues to appear (although less frequently of late) in a number of forums open to the public.  I believe she is respected and admired in ways that exceed age, class and ethnicity.

Which is a lead-in to one of the links provided below on an open letter to Toni Morrison by 'Anti' filled with angst and questions surrounding her decision to leave her papers to Princeton, an institution she taught at for 17 years.  He states a good case and it is brilliantly written and one can actually feel the emotional and mental anguish of one whose sheroe and literary giant has taken a position that defies his perception of her 'being'.  We all do it at one time or another if we're honest with ourselves.



I've provided a link to a panel discussion led by Marc Lamont Hill with Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., Dr. Greg Carr and Dr. Susana Morris and the young man, Anti-Intellect who wrote the letter to Ms. Morrison questioning her choice. The pros and cons offered by this esteemed panel on her decision to do so are legitimate and reveals this double consciousness {W.E.B. DuBois construct} that many black scholars/writers  wrestle with when it comes to leaving their papers to or teaching at institutions of higher learning. The question of Howard or other Historically Black Colleges and Universities' limited resources, solvency and frankly ability to 'bid' or house these important papers lend to the complexity of the issue.

26 September 2014

The Disheartening and Ennobling Paradox of Grief


'And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation'
~ The Prophet ~

A few of my posts have been tributes and remembrances of public figures/celebrities from the political, literary and  entertainment fields as well as the  tragic and unexpected deaths of young people by rogue cops or misguided gang members. There have, also, been those who've chosen to discontinue this journey by reasons only God and they knew at that time.  With the exception of the tributes to my parents; most of these posts have been about folks whom I didn't know personally but respected and admired for their talents and humanitarian endeavors.   

I, now, find myself again addressing personal grief with the transition of my niece, Thema  from complications associated with  Myasthenia gravis disease which is incurable.  She was valiant for a number of years in fighting this disorder and one never got the impression that she felt sorry for her predicament.  It was a debilitating process and she became weaker towards the end and worried about leaving her young children without their mother. Although, I didn't see her the past couple of years; I kept up with her on social media and was in a prayerful mode for an extended period.  It was my hope that she would again experience a period when the symptoms were less dramatic with a more acceptable level of functioning.