Monday, January 18, 2016

I Have a Dream....

Happy MLK Day!

If you have the day off work today, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the reason for the national holiday and how Dr. King's wise words and dreams are still something we need to work to fulfill.

This world has become a pretty scary place and it seems as if we are divided more than ever when we should be coming together and fighting for justice and equality no matter what race or religion. I find it hard to watch the news and our ridiculous politicians who fight for power and money instead of fighting for the people and doing the right thing. We have come so far but have so much further to go.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others? ~MLK

The time is always right to do what is right. ~MLK

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~MLK

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ~MLK

Every year on this day I like to read the "I Have a Dream" speech in its entirety. It is just as true and powerful today as it was when Dr. King delivered it in August 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy New Year!?

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and got to spend quality time with the people who mean the most to you. I did a significant amount of writing over the holidays but didn't want to bring people down with my sadness and grief so I didn't post it all.

It's a new year and a fresh start and all that and I'm trying to convince myself that it will get better. Time heals. I will eventually have a day without tears and, honestly, that day cannot come soon enough. The truth is I'm in a pretty sad and depressing place and I don't know how to get out of it. Aren't you glad I came back only to post one depressing story after another? For those of you with a thick skin and a compassionate heart, I really appreciate your sticking around and being so supportive. I promise I'm trying to work my way out of this funk but the holidays were extremely tough when you deep in the grieving process and I'm trying to recover from it all.
 I had a bright idea to include my condolences thank you cards in with my Christmas cards but as I started to stuff the envelopes I just couldn't do it. How could I send out holiday wishes along with a long sad letter reminding people of how much I (and they) miss my Mom? So I still haven't sent out thank you cards and I only managed to send Christmas cards to a few people who are struggling right along with me.
I'm still trying to comprehend how quickly and unexpectedly my Mom died. As much as she drove me crazy at times, I am devastated she is no longer here and I'm doing the best I can to get through each and every day without her. Every single day I would get a "Good Morning" e-mail from her and we would e-mail back and forth all day long. Of course when I called her she would just repeat everything she told me in the e-mails but she still wanted to hear my voice so I called her and she would end up doing most of the talking.

The holidays were extremely tough. They brought along such a deep grief as I struggled to comprehend that she is no longer here to celebrate with us. She should have been here. This is just the beginning of the year of firsts. I can’t help but weep as I recall happier times and even the many not-so-happy times. Just last year we got to spend a few bonus days together as her return flight to Florida was cancelled due to one of the many big snowstorms we had. How different it is this year – we don’t have any snow and we don’t have her here with us.

While the whole world celebrated, holiday memories flooded in and make grief cut in even deeper. As I turned my calendars to the month of December I saw my Mom’s flight information there as she was scheduled to be here on December 21st for her usual Christmas visit. She should have been here to celebrate her 71st birthday on January 3rd. Never in a million years did I think last Christmas/New Year/Birthday would be our last celebrations together.

We all have a list of time-honored holiday traditions. These traditions are part of who we are and how we share our happiness with the people we love. How do we celebrate when one of the people we love is gone. How can we possibly be happy and celebrate? How are we supposed to fake feeling festive when we miss them so much?

December may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it can also be the most painful. There is a profound difference between the external trappings of the season and the way we feel inside. What once delighted us now feels empty and we cringe at all the hoopla. Doesn't anyone know how much we hurt? The gaiety surrounds us and accentuates our feelings of loss.

I have not yet adjusted to life without my Mom. The ache of her absence envelops me like fog even as I try so hard to be cheerful. It is expected that we all be in good spirits during the holidays but it is difficult to pretend to be cheerful when a huge loss is still so fresh. Even though the calendar dictates it, I did not feel jolly or festive.

I  know that the holiday blues are a normal part of grief. Unspoken gloom hovers over all attempts to celebrate. It is a process and I know no matter how much time passes I will always miss her, every single day, and somehow even more on the holidays.

I've had a few good days and really, really bad days, but the thing that keeps me going is trying to do what she would want, which is to be happy and keep smiling. If she knew I was sad it would upset her so I'm doing my best to make her happy (still). The holidays just reminds me how much she enriched and touched my life in a way that made me who I am, and it reminds me to be thankful for all the memories I will forever cherish. Just because she is no longer physically next to me or a phone call or e-mail away, she will always be a part of me and our connection will continue to grow, maybe even in a deeper way. She is my angel now. An angel I know only wants the best for me just as she did all my life.

I hope that you take a moment to show your love and appreciation for all of your loved ones, not only on the holidays but every day, because you never know how many more opportunities you will get to show them how much they mean to you.

Now 2016 will be the year of firsts and the year I somehow learn to live without my Mom. It's been over 3 months since she past but it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. I'm looking forward to a day without tears but that hasn't happened yet. Something always sets me off and I can't help but cry. I have so much to be thankful for and I'm trying to stay focused on the truly important and meaningful things by showing my appreciation to those people who enrich my life.

I truly appreciate everyone who has reached out and offered their advice and sympathies. I know time will pass and the devastating hurt will soften and I will be able to get through a day without breaking down. Death is a part of life and it will happen to all of us eventually. Hold tight to the good times and live your life to the fullest every single day.

Blessings to you and yours....