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#Ray Rice

~ A Black American~

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God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.

Marcus Garvey

“A Black American”
by Smokey Robinson

“I love being Black. I love being called Black. I love being an American.
I love being a Black American, but as a Black man in this country I think it’s a shame
That every few years we get a change of name.

Since those first ships arrived here from Africa that came across the sea
There were already Black men in this country who were free.
And as for those that came over here on those terrible boats,
They were called niggah and slave
And told what to do and how to behave.

And then master started trippin’ and doing his midnight tippin’,
Down to the slave shacks where he forced he and Great-Great Grandma to
be together,
And if Great-Great Grandpa protested, he got tarred and feathered.

And at the same time, the Black men in the country who were free,
Were mating with the tribes like the Apache and the Cherokee.
And as a result of all that, we’re a parade of every shade.
And as in this late day and age, you can be sure,
They ain’t too many of us in this country whose bloodline is pure.

But, according to a geological, geographical, genealogy study published
in Time Magazine,
The Black African people were the first on the scene,
So for what it’s worth, the Black African people were the first on earth

And through migration, our characteristics started to change, and rearrange,
To adapt to whatever climate we migrated to.
And that’s how I became me, and you became you.

So, if we gonna go back, let’s go all the way back,
And if Adam was Black and Eve was Black,
Then that kind of makes it a natural fact that everybody in America is an African American.

Everybody in Europe is an African European; everybody in the Orient is an African Asian
And so on and so on,
That is, if the origin of man is what we’re gonna go on.
And if one drop of Black blood makes you Black like they say,
Then everybody’s Black anyway.

So quit trying to change my identity.
I’m already who I was meant to be
I’m a Black American, born and raised.
And brother James Brown wrote a wonderful phrase,
“Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud! Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud!”

Cause I’m proud to be Black and I ain’t never lived in Africa,
And ’cause my Great-Great Granddaddy on my Daddy’s side did, don’t mean I want to go back.
Now I have nothing against Africa,
It’s where some of the most beautiful places and people in the world are found.
But I’ve been blessed to go a lot of places in this world,
And if you ask me where I choose to live, I pick America, hands down.

Now, by and by, we were called Negroes, and after while, that name has vanished.
Anyway, Negro is just how you say “black” in Spanish.
Then, we were called colored, but ****, everybody’s one color or another,
And I think it’s a shame that we hold that against each other.

And it seems like we reverted back to a time when being called Black was an insult,
Even if it was another Black man who said it, a fight would result,
Cause we’ve been so brainwashed that Black was wrong,
So that even the yellow niggahs and black niggahs couldn’t get along.

But then, came the 1960s when we struggled and died to be called equal and Black,
And we walked with pride with our heads held high and our shoulders pushed back,
And Black was beautiful.

But, I guess that wasn’t good enough,
Cause now here they come with some other stuff.
Who comes up with this **** anyway?
Was it one, or a group of niggahs sitting around one day?

Feelin’ a little insecure again about being called Black
And decided that African American sounded a little more exotic.
Well, I think you were being a little more neurotic.

It’s that same mentality that got “Amos and Andy” put off the air,
Cause’ they were embarrassed about the way the character’s spoke.
And as a result of that action, a lot of wonderful Black actors ended up broke.
When we were just laughin’ and have fun about ourselves.
So I say, “**** you if you can’t take a joke.”
You didn’t see the “Beverly Hillbilly’s” being protested by white folks.

And if you think, that cause you think that being called African American set all Black people’s mind at ease…..

Since we affectionately call each other “niggah”,

I affectionately say to you, “niggah Please”.

How come I didn’t get the chance to vote on who I’d like to be?
Who gave you the right to make that decision for me?
I ain’t under your rule or in your dominion
And I am entitled to my own opinion.

Now there are some African Americans here,
But they recently moved here from places like Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Zaire.
But, now the brother who’s family has lived in the country for generations,
Occupying space in all the locations
New York, Miami, L.A., Detroit, Chicago-
Even if he’s wearing a dashiki and sporting an afro.

And, if you go to Africa in search of your race,
You’ll find out quick you’re not an African American,
You’re just a Black American in Africa takin’ up space.

Why you keep trying to attach yourself to a continent,
Where if you got the chance and you went,
Most people there would even claim you as one of them; as a pure bread daughter or son of them.
Your heritage is right here now, no matter what you call yourself or what you say
And a lot of people died to make it that way.
And if you think America is a leader on inequality and suffering and grievin’
How come there so many people comin’ and so few leavin’?

Rather than all this ‘find fault with America’ **** you promotin’,
If you want to change something, use your privilege, get to the polls!
Commence to votin’!

God knows we’ve earned the right to be called American Americans and be free at last.
And rather than you movin’ forward progress, you dwelling in the past.
We’ve struggled too long; we’ve come too far.
Instead of focusing on who we were, let’s be proud of who we are.

We are the only people whose name is always a trend.
When is this **** gonna end?
Look at all the different colors of our skin-
Black is not our color. It’s our core.
It’s what we been livin’ and fightin’ and dyin’ for.

But if you choose to be called African American and that’s your preference
Then I ‘ll give you that reference

But I know on this issue I don’t stand alone on my own and if I do, then let me be me
And I’d appreciate it if when you see me, you’d say, “there goes a man who says it loud I’m Black. I’m Black. I’m a Black American, and I’m proud

Cause I love being an American. And I love being Black. I love being
called Black.

Yeah, I said it, and I don’t take it back.”

Smokey Robinson

~Work That Pays Off In Human Life Restoration: It’s Worth It!!!!~

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MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization based in New York City and Oakland, CA. MDRC mounts large-scale demonstrations and uses randomized controlled trials to measure the effects of social and educational policy initiatives.

Former Prisoners

The driving force behind MDRC is a conviction that reliable evidence, well communicated, can make an important difference in social policy.

People who have spent time in prison often have difficulties finding work and establishing independent lives after their release. MDRC is testing the effectiveness of programs to help former prisoners overcome barriers to employment and reduce their chances of rearrest.

MDRC is committed to finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation — from reducing poverty and bolstering economic self-sufficiency to improving public education and college graduation rates. We design promising new interventions, evaluate existing programs using the highest research standards, and provide technical assistance to build better programs and deliver effective interventions at scale. We work as an intermediary, bringing together public and private funders to test new policy-relevant ideas, and communicate what we learn to policymakers and practitioners — all with the goal of improving the lives of low-income individuals, families, and children.

Today’s blessings are the opportunities we embrace while in hot pursuit of performing ministry and acquiring full alignment with partners and other organizations who are caring about ex-offenders and their families. The many veterans who are displaced and substance abusers are apart of our focus groups as well. We are happy to share with you that Second Chance Alliance is not an all knowing entity, but we are a humble wanting to gain leverage in our approach to effective re-entry solutions in our present community. We are in a work group for the next two weeks called (CHAMPS)

Changing Attitudes and Motivation in Parolees (CHAMPS) Evaluation

Project Overview

With 750,000 people released from prisons each year, there is a pressing need for rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of reentry strategies. Former prisoners face a range of challenges to successful reentry into the community, including low levels of employment and substance abuse problems, all of which impact recidivism rates. Although the prisoner reentry issue has attracted substantial attention and funding in recent years, very little is known about the components of effective reentry programs. It is unknown what in-prison activities are best able to prepare offenders for the return to the community, what works best to stabilize people after they are released, and what long-term efforts are needed to help former prisoners become productive citizens. One avenue for affecting outcomes may be through parole, but little is known about what parole practices are most effective for whom and how additional services aimed at improving offenders’ cognitive and behavioral functioning can complement the work of parole officers.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance, in a collaborative effort with the National Institute of Corrections and the National Institute of Justice, is implementing an innovative parole-based intervention with a well-known cognitive behavioral therapy program as part of a Demonstration Field Experiment on prisoner reentry, known as Changing Attitudes and Motivation in Parolees (CHAMPS).

The National Institute of Justice has selected MDRC and its partner, George Mason University, to conduct a multisite random assignment study to test this reentry model intended to: (1) improve offenders’ motivation to change; (2) address cognitive and behavioral functioning regarding crime-prone thoughts and behaviors; and (3) address core factors that affect offender performance while under community supervision following release from prison.

We are elated to be apart of this training group because it solidifies our platform to be successful model that will be in position to offer a comprehensive focus group of professionals to assist us in our vision objectives at Second Chance Alliance.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

The overarching goal of this study is to test the effectiveness of parole supervision strategies and a targeted cognitive behavioral intervention to improve outcomes and reduce recidivism for parolees. The evaluation will use a random assignment research design to measure the impact of the following interventions:

  • The National Institute of Corrections’ Next Generation relationship and desistence model, which is designed to improve the techniques used by parole officers in supervising and interacting with offenders. The model stems from a relationship theory as well as risk-need-responsivity framework where services are recommended to address risk factors that may create problem behaviors for offenders. Selected parole officers will deliver this model after receiving training.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy consisting of Motivational Enhancement Therapy sessions followed by Thinking for a Change sessions. Treatment providers, not parole officers, will deliver this intervention.
PARTNERS
Ralph Serin, Carlton University
Caleb Lloyd, Carlton University
Boosting the Life Chances of Young Men of Color
Despite progress on many fronts, young men of color still face many obstacles to success in American society and suffer disproportionately from economic and social disadvantage. In recent years, foundations and state and local governments have launched major initiatives to address this pressing issue. For example, in 2011, the City of New York created the Young Men’s Initiative, a $42-million annual program, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Open Society Foundation, to invest in the success of the city’s young men of color. In February of this year, the Obama Administration announced “My Brother’s Keeper,” a multimillion-dollar push by the government, foundations, and businesses to “build ladders of opportunity and unlock the full potential of boys and young men of color.”
In light of the momentum building to improve the fortunes of young men of color, Second Chance Alliance is engaged in taking a look at what is known about this population and highlight programs that are shown by rigorous research to be making a difference. Our research will first examine the special challenges and struggles of young men of color in the labor market, including problems related to their disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system and their experiences in the educational system. Young men of color have become increasingly disconnected from the positive systems, institutions, and pathways designed to help people achieve success — high school diplomas, enrollment in and completion of postsecondary education or training, and ultimately career ladders leading to well-paying jobs. Given these facts, the natural next question is: What can be done? Does this group of young men constitute, as some have labeled them, a “lost generation”?2 Or are there interventions that can provide real hope and real results? Is there, in fact, a way to move away from deficit-focused characterizations of young men of color to ones that recognize and build on their resilience and strengths?3 Policy interest in assisting young men of color has waxed and waned over the years, and not enough has been learned from past efforts to build better policies and programs. For instance, in the late 1970s, the Department of Labor funded the Youth Incentive Entitlement Pilot Projects (YIEPP), which guaranteed part-time and summer jobs to all young people in particular neighborhoods or cities as long as they stayed in or returned to school. The results were very encouraging: YIEPP virtually erased the large gap in unemployment rates between white and black youth.4 But the program was cut short in the early 1980s, when policy interest in this topic receded, and there was little follow-up. It is hoped that current efforts to improve outcomes for young men of color will include a robust documentation and learning agenda to ensure that the knowledge base of successful strategies grows larger. This stands the reason of our attempts to forge alliances and gain knowledge from all who are in this field of study so we can formulate best practices into information and models for our “YOUTHS”.
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~Falling away~

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My motivation for writing this blog is twofold:  First, there is a slow apostasy that is creeping in to many so-called Christian denominations.  Many groups that claim the name of Christ are advocating anti-Christian principles.  Second, it seems that the majority of Christians are not adequately trained nor sufficiently motivated to carry out the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you . . . “(Matt. 28:19-20).  To carry out this commission, Christians need to be disciples and disciple-makers. It means knowing basic Christian doctrine, knowing the Bible, and being able to defend the Christian faith.

I’m not saying that every Christian has to be seminary trained, memorize the New Testament, and stand on street corners shouting about Jesus.  I am talking about the basic knowledge of God’s word as well as the basics of evangelism and doctrine that helps to lead us to do what Jesus charged us to do:  make disciples.

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Apostasy means to fall away from the truth.  To the degree that Christians adopt the ideas of the world above scripture they are committing apostasy.  The world wants us to let things be, to adopt a policy of tolerance about other religions and ideas in contradiction to Scripture, and let the culture simply continue on its way towards increasing immorality and irreverence.  Jesus has given us a commission to make disciples and to do this means we have to be prepared and Bible-focused in a world that is hostile to Christianity.  Carrying out the Great Commission means that we have to be praying, studying, tithing, learning, being trained, being active, supporting the church, supporting missionaries, etc.  Some churches do this.  Others do not.  But, all should be evangelistic–not for church membership or church growth but for making people followers of Jesus.

The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) is the charge of Jesus to believers, to every believer, to be disciple makers.  It is not aimed at just the pastor and the missionary.  It is aimed at everyone in the church.  But, perhaps you feel that you are not called to be a pastor, a missionary, or an evangelist–that just isn’t your calling.  That’s okay.  But, are you praying for those who are pastors, missionaries, and evangelists?  Are you supporting them in your tithes?  Are you using whatever gifts that you have in support of the church so that the Great Commission can be carried out by those God anoints to minister in whatever capacity it is?

The Great Commission is a commission of love given to us by the God of love.  It is what Jesus asked us to do.  People are going to hell.  Jesus wants us to help as many as possible find salvation in Him.  He wants us to beHis disciples and then make others into disciples as well.  This is what He wants.  Is this happening in your life and church?  Are you contributing in some way to the building of the body of Christ, or do you only go to church and take in.  If this is all you are doing, then you need to make some changes.

In America, too many Christians are comfortable with their lives, their DVR’s, their remote control TV’s, their air conditioned cars, retirement funds, and their polished preachers.  Our comfort is important to us.  But, it can lure us into a casual relationship with God because all our earthly needs are met.  Such casualness destroys the urgency–the intimacy of dependence upon God that excites and motivates the believer into action when God miraculously and continuously provides our needs.   I also believe that many pastors are failing to do what the Bible says to do: equip the saints (Eph. 4:12). I suspect far too many pastors are more concerned about not offending their own congregations with the whole gospel than spreading its truth lest people go find another church to be comfortable in.  Growing in Christ means to become mature and daily pick up your cross to follow Jesus.  The pastor is not there to baby-sit Christians.  He is not there to simply comfort them and to make them feel warm and cozy, nor is he there to reflect the current social trends and morays of the secular environment.  He is there to equip the saints, to call them to repentance and holiness, to present God’s word, to train them up to be more like Jesus (Eph. 4:12), and to help them mature in Christ so that they can become a people of action as well as a people of love.

The gospel is not only about being born again but is also about picking up your cross and following Jesus (Luke 9:23), about prayer, about supporting Christians who teach, about bearing one another’s burdens, about defending the faith, about standing up for righteousness, and much more.  For too many Christians, picking up the cross and following Jesus is too much to ask.  But it is, however, easy to drop a check in the offering plate and think that they’ve done their part as a Christian.  This is nothing more than buying a way out of their responsibilities.

Is this too harsh?

If you think I am being too harsh, let me say that I know that there are many Christians who take their faith seriously, are learning and applying God’s word, and doing what they can to expand God’s kingdom whether it be by praying, tithing, witnesses, teaching, church work, or living godly lives.  Likewise, I know that there are many pastors who labor to equip their congregations and who lovingly work to shepherd them with all sincerity and obedience to Christ.  For you all, I praise God for His miraculous work in you.

Pastors have a huge job before them.  They are to preach God’s word, teach the congregation, counsel, model godliness, and equip the saints.  This is difficult to do, especially when secularism is slowly making inroads into the hearts and minds of Christians.  Regarding moral issues, Christians, statistically, are in bad shape.  According to Barna Research online, of those claiming to be born again, only 23% believe abortion should be illegal; 34% believe homosexuality is alright; 36% believe that a man and a woman living together is okay; 37% says profanity is acceptable; only 20% believe it is wrong to get drunk, etc.  This is truly sad and dangerous.  Oh sure, you may say they are not ‘real’ Christians.  I hope you’re right.  But, the statistics are real, and those who are truly born again should be out there fighting against abortion, homosexuality, drunkenness, etc., as well as praying for and seeking revival in Christian churches.

People are going to hell.  The enemy is making converts to false gospels in the cults, false world religions, humanistic principles in schools, and moral relativism in society.  Christians are not supposed to be keepers of the aquarium.  They are supposed to be fishers of men.  Christians are supposed to confront the world in a wise and loving fashion.  This is what the Bible says to do; and to accomplish this, the Christians need a truly Christian Worldview with the desire to spread the gospel everywhere.

The Christian Church needs to wake Up!

Christianity is under an ever increasing attack.  Here in America, laws are being passed to reduce and remove our religious freedoms.  Prayer has been removed from schools, the 10 Commandments removed from courtrooms.  Movies and TV routinely portray Christians as ignorant bigots.  Universities constantly attack the absolutes of Christianity and some even promote Eastern Mysticism, witchcraft, relativism, and a homosexual agenda by having representatives of these lies come in and teach!  Secular society as a whole is imposing its moral agenda upon all people, the church included, and it is working!  Christians are starting to listen to the false teaching of a fallen world and recanting on biblical doctrines of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, of Jesus being theonly way, of moral absolutes, and of their being a Day of Judgment with the unsaved going to hell.  This is the sign of apostasy within the church!

Again, let me add that not all Christians are apathetic and worldly.  There are many churches with godly pastors who are teaching all of God’s word.  There are many churches out there with members who are learning God’s word, who are making converts, and who are standing up for righteousness.  It is because of people like them that the gospel is spreading throughout the world.  There are more Christians alive now than ever before. But, there are also more Muslims now than ever before–more Mormons, more Jehovah’s Witnesses, more atheists, etc., than ever before.  Let’s not give up nor become discouraged.  Let’s support one another in prayer.  Let’s study to show ourselves approved to God.  Let’s tithe properly.  Let’s witness.  Let’s take risks for Jesus.  Let’s do what He asks of us.

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20, NASB).

 

~ Cacophony In Leadership; Why?~ Pt:1

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Saul was a head above most men. David was ruddy and smaller in stature. Saul was driven by an evil spirit and died a crazed, God-forsaken man. David drove an evil spirit from Saul with the sound of his lyre. Saul hid out in his tent when Goliath taunted the Israelites. David stood up for his people and his God and defeated Goliath. The difference between bad and great leaders is not appearance or experience. God uses the unexpected, unimpressive, and inexperienced to accomplish remarkable things.

The ultimate contrast between these men was not their appearance or experience; it was their spirit. Their relationship with the Holy Spirit made all the difference in their leadership. The chronicler of Israel’s history points to this primary difference between these two leaders: “And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul . .  .” (1 Sam 16:13-14). We’re told that the Spirit rushed upon David, while the Spirit departed from Saul. One man was Spirit-filled and led. The other was Spirit-devoid and distrusting. David pled with God to not take his Spirit (Ps 51:11) from him. God’s Spirit left Saul.

Consider three differences in leadership between David and Saul:

Mature Zeal

In the face of Philistine blasphemies, David was incited with zeal for the Lord: “He was stirred to the depths with concern for the glory of God.”

David’s zeal was not for personal success but for God’s glory. He wasn’t childishly driven by self-promotion. He was bent on promoting the reputation of God. What am I promoting? Am I stirred to depths for the glory of God? Every one of us can ask these questions. Are we hiding out in our tents, our libraries, our offices, or are we incited with zeal for the Lord to pursue his glory through leadership, work, discipleship and mission? Are we passionately pursuing God’s glory or our own glory in how we lead?

Management vs. Empowerment

Saul tried to manage and control everyone around him. He relied on bribes to get others to fight Goliath (17:25). Saul discouraged young leaders like David (to not fight Goliath) because he was threatened by their leadership. The problem wasn’t that Saul lacked vision for what David could become; it was that he feared what David could become. He sought to manage, not empower the leaders around him. David, on the other hand, was constantly surrounded by “mighty men.”
We can lead our company, church, and organizations through empowerment. Rather than insist on control, we can relinquish control to let other leaders rise up in faith. Often we are too doubtful about some and too confident about others.

Moved by Wisdom

David wasn’t all zeal and faith. His zeal was mature because it was guided by wisdom and marked by self-control. When mocked by his brothers, he did not pick a fight or defend his abilities. Instead, he channeled indignation towards his enemies (17:28-29). The Spirit produces leaders that are balanced and discerning, not merely zealous and faith-filled.
Instead of getting side-tracked by petty issues, comments, and complaints, we lead with “one blind eye and one deaf ear” as Spurgeon put it. Don’t linger over the negative. Instead, we try to wisely discern what voices to listen to and which ones to shut out. Don’t entertain every idea. Follow the Spirit through wisdom, not ambition.

May God make us zealous, empowering, and wise leaders. May he never take his Holy Spirit from us. May we lead well and finish strong, ever dependent upon the Spirit, glorifying our great Redeemer and King Jesus!

 

~The Mind Is A Spiritual Battlefield; Depression,Schizoaffective disorder,PTSD ~

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Why do you think the way you do? Are the choices you make truly your own, or do influences beyond your control unduly sway your opinions?

Besieged by a cacophony of sights, sounds, impressions, images and emotions—all competing for our time, attention and thoughts—our minds are daily exposed to far more information than we can consciously process. Even in sleep we integrate people, places and events into partly real, sometimes frightful and at other times wildly whimsical dreams. The sheer volume of ideas and information incessantly bombarding our minds creates for us an information crisis, a battle for control over what we think and believe.

The battle for your mind is a reality that you cannot afford to ignore. Believe it or not, you are the focus of relentless efforts to alter your beliefs, and some of the subtle skills meant to shape the way you think are astonishingly powerful and effective.

Commercial advertising is a widely recognized example. Marketing efforts thrive on shaping public habits and influencing choices.

Honest and legitimate advertising is a benefit to consumers and a valuable information source in any modern economy. Yet not all advertising honestly represents the facts, as illustrated by the old saying “Let the buyer beware.”

Beguiling and seductive schemes are so sophisticated and pervasive that America’s NBC Nightly News telecast with Tom Brokaw includes a regular feature called “The Fleecing of America.” Like it or not, you are the target in a never-ending struggle for control over the way you think—and behave.

Right and wrong influences

Under the right circumstances, the influence of others on our lives can be beneficial. People who positively affect our thinking expand our understanding and knowledge. They stimulate our minds and expand our horizons, increasing the excitement and challenge of life itself. From them we learn and grow. Emotionally, we benefit immensely from their nurturing influence. Our fellow human beings contribute enormously to our personal development.

But not all who seek to shape our views are constructive. This is especially true of the massive efforts at work to eradicate society’s standards and values. The previously mentioned adage “Let the buyer beware” is just as applicable to this intellectual and spiritual domain as it is to the marketplace.

In general, irrational ideas foster irrational behavior. How you think controls the way you live and how you relate to other people. Your thoughts will influence your decisions and thus your actions. Ultimately, in this sense, you are what you think.

Consider these questions: Who exerts the greatest influence on your personal opinions? What are the external pulls that sway your thinking the most? What are the sources that affect the standards for your behavior? If you address these questions honestly, you’ll find their answers disturbing as well as profound.

Let’s examine some commonly recognized influences that shape the choices millions of people make every day, noticing the colossal impact those influences have on the behavioral standards of society. Then let’s look at some of the direct and concerted endeavors to modify—and in some cases abolish—almost all standards and values. Finally, let’s squarely face another momentous question: Who should have the greatest influence on how we think and the choices we make, and what is our personal responsibility?

Influence of television and movies

Television is the most powerful medium ever invented for conveying ideas and information to large numbers of people. Remarkably effective and influential, television is drastically altering our society’s thinking and behavioral patterns, even encouraging so-called alternative lifestyles.

Film critic Michael Medved describes the profound impact of the TV and movie business on society. The power of the entertainment business “to influence our actions flows from its ability to redefine what constitutes normal behavior in this society,” he writes. Entertainers have “assumed a dominant role in establishing social conventions. The fantasy figures who entertain us on our TV and movie screens, or who croon to us constantly from our radios and CD players, take the lead in determining what is considered hip, and what will be viewed as hopelessly weird” ( Hollywood vs. America , Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, 1992, p. 261, emphasis added throughout).

Mr. Medved notes that society’s standards and values are incrementally but constantly altered by the entertainment media: “According to all available research on the subject, the most significant aspects of influence are gradual and cumulative, not immediate, and they occur only after extended exposure . . . What this means is that the full impact of today’s media messages will only be felt some years in the future” (Medved, p. 260).

“Hollywood no longer reflects—or even respects—the values of most American families. On many of the important issues in contemporary life, popular entertainment seems to go out of its way to challenge conventional notions of decency” (Medved, p. 10).

Music to whose ears?

All too often popular music represents the cutting edge of a philosophy that influences its adherents to seek to undermine all established conventions. Combining catchy tunes with sometimes blatantly antisocial lyrics, popular music exerts a near-incessant influence on many young people. Most adolescents can easily and flawlessly recite the words to today’s most-played tunes, yet they stumble over memorization work at school. Even adults can recall lyrics that were popular decades ago, but they flounder over names and phone numbers of friends.

Music’s influence is profound and pervasive. It is one of the most effective tools to alter the attitudes and outlook of those hearing it, both positively and negatively. It reaches emotions and reasoning simultaneously, ensuring a lasting impact.

For those immersed in the cynical hostility that has characterized much of popular music in recent decades, the consequences can be devastating. Consider the rationale behind the promotion of some music-industry artists:

“Those in the rock business understood very well that the music’s subversion of authority was a large part of its appeal to the young. An impresario who developed one star after another was asked how he did it. He said, ‘I look for someone their parents will hate’ ” (Robert H. Bork, Slouching Toward Gomorrah , Regan Books, 1996, p. 23, emphasis added).

Tragically, however, all too many parents find themselves inadequately equipped to explain right from wrong. A recent survey of American adults by the Barna Research Group reveals that 71 percent of Americans still believe in right and wrong, that such a thing as sin exists. But the survey also found that most adults simply grasp no clear concept of right vs. wrong.

An article that accompanied the survey observed that “77 percent of non-Christians said, ‘There are no absolute standards for morals and ethics.’ Yet, shockingly, the majority of born-again Christians—64 percent—agreed with the secular culture that morality is relative. No wonder our lives are indistinguishable from the surrounding culture . . . The church has ‘tons of teachers’ yet it ‘doesn’t seem to be making a difference’ ” ( Southern California Christian Times , June 1996).

Who should set your standards?

Intelligent moral standards serve simply as practical rules for considerate conduct. They establish our ethics, ideals and values. They allow society to function in peace and safety for the benefit of all. Proper moral standards should be carefully thought-out principles for distinguishing right from wrong. Without them, we retain no guidelines for the way we live.

Who holds the prerogative to set absolute standards for the way we think and behave? Some among the academic elite do well to tell us that human traditions are not reliable sources; they are too often contradictory and parochially biased. But they are wrong to tell us that absolute standards of right and wrong do not exist. There most certainly is a source for absolute standards for humanity. The Almighty God, He who created mankind, reveals to us how we should live.

“The distortions and insults about organized religion [in movies and television],” writes Mr. Medved, “will continue unabated as long as our popular culture continues its overall campaign against judgment and values. A war against standards leads logically and inevitably to hostility to religion because it is religious faith that provides the ultimate basis for all standards” (Medved, p. 89).

Only the God who created us can define perfect and reliable guidelines for human conduct. He reveals them to us through the Holy Scriptures. Make no mistake: God’s Word is not of human origin. It carries the highest authority possible.

God cares how you think

How we think—our ideals and beliefs—are important to God. Yet our normal way of thinking is quite different from His. Through the prophet Isaiah, God describes the scope of our universal human problem: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’ ” (Isaiah:55:8-9, emphasis added throughout).

The apostle Paul explains the reason for the gulf between the values of God and most humans: People tend simply to tune out God’s instruction. “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened” (Romans:1:20-21, New Revised Standard Version).

How wrong thinking began

The rejection of God’s guidance is nothing new. It began as far back as the Garden of Eden. There “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan,” began an influence and distortion of human thinking that still grips humanity (Revelation:12:9).

Essentially, Satan’s line to Eve was: “Don’t believe God and trust His words. Trust yourself. Eat the forbidden fruit. Then you will have all the wisdom you need to determine good and evil” (Genesis:3:1-5). Eve was impressed. The devil kindled in her the desire to decide right and wrong for herself.

Eve eagerly fell for Satan’s seductive pitch. Then she persuaded Adam that the two of them were capable of deciding such matters for themselves. They chose to disobey God. They lost their inheritance in Eden and began a life of toil and hardship, all because they allowed their thinking to be swayed by Satan, the archadversary of God (verses 6, 17-19). Satan won this early battle for the human mind. With relatively few exceptions, he has continued to win ever since.

God wants you to think like Him. He wants the principles expressed in His laws to live in your heart and mind (Hebrews:10:16), to form the foundation for your convictions, your thoughts and the way you choose to live your life. He wants to establish in your mind appropriate standards for human behavior—a clear understanding of right and wrong (1 John:3:4).

The apostle Peter expresses God’s concern for the way you think. “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking” (2 Peter:3:1-3). New International Version).

Learning to think clearly

Paul goes further, giving timeless guidelines for what we should allow to enter our minds: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV). Wholesome thinking flows from honesty and truth, from a knowledge of what is right, pure and admirable.

Paul describes the results of behavior based on thinking that rejects God’s standards: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians:5:19-21, NIV).

An outstanding model of clear, level-headed thinking is recorded for our benefit: the personal example of Jesus Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” wrote Paul (Philippians 2:5). He admonished: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (verses 2:3-4).

Clear, wholesome thinking puts concern for others as a priority—equal to concern for oneself. It is founded on genuine love for others.

A matter of choice

We live in a society that prides itself on its new ways of thinking, many of which have really been around as long as mankind has existed. Because of the sheer force of these ideas, we are confronted with a personal battle for control of our thoughts and values in the face of almost overwhelming opposition.

God will never force us to think like Him. Even to ancient Israel He said, “. . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life . . .” (Deuteronomy:30:19). God provides the guidance, but the choice to heed or ignore it is always ours.

Those who would abolish standards of conduct often imply that acceptance of values defined by anyone besides yourself—whether God or man—is an abdication of choice.

To blindly accept the ideas of others would, of course, be abdicating personal responsibility. However, to carefully examine, comprehend and adopt the wisdom of God is the mark of one who makes informed and intelligent choices. Acting only on feelings and emotion shows neither discretion nor intelligence.

Corrupting power behind the scene

What is the real source of our society’s rejection of godly values? The apostle Paul explained that his God-given mission to earth’s inhabitants was “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God . . .” (Acts:26:18).

The Bible reveals Satan as a powerful unseen force influencing humanity. He is described as “the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient,” a being influencing men and women to lead a life of “gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Ephesians:2:2-3, NIV).

Satan’s influence is so pervasive that it affects every area of life in every society. How great is his power over humanity? He “deceives the whole world”! (Revelation:12:9).

Through thousands of years of deceiving people, he has become the “god of this world [who] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel . . .” (2 Corinthians:4:4, NRSV). The influence of Satan and his demons is such that they can sway even the opinions and decisions of world leaders (Revelation:16:14).

Surprising to many, Satan has succeeded in influencing religious beliefs and institutions. He manages to disguise his own ostensibly Christian ministry and religious assemblies (2 Corinthians:11:3-4, 13-15; Revelation:3:9).

He does not present his ways as the greedy, self-centered, vain practices they really are. Nor does he show their destructive, painful end, leading inexorably to suffering and death (Proverbs:14:12; 16:25). On the contrary, he masquerades his thoughts and way of life as enlightenment, fulfillment and satisfaction. God’s Word warns us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians:11:14, NRSV).

Besides religion, Satan’s ideas invade such arenas as business, education, philosophy, government and science. No human interest or endeavor escapes his intrusion. Indeed, we read that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John:5:19).

Does Satan influence your mind?

The consequences of Satan’s influence on mankind’s thought processes have proved devastating. Seldom has the world seen peace; 150 million people have died in wars in just this century. In the same time, more than 100 million have died from diseases, pandemics and natural disasters. Humanity possesses the ability to erase human life from earth many times over.

In spite of constant attempts to improve our lot, thousands live on the verge of starvation, and millions go to sleep hungry every night. A fourth of earth’s population lives under totalitarian regimes with little control over basic decisions that affect their lives.

Under Satan’s influence, human thinking has become so absorbed with self-gratification that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot” (Romans:8:7-8, NRSV).

The prophet Jeremiah recognized that people are blinded by the deceit of their own evil intents. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah:17:9).

Satan has succeeded at turning humanity away from God. The apostle Paul describes the inevitable, tragic results of rejecting God and His way of life:

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans:1:28-32, NIV).

Who will win?

God calls some out of this immoral, ungodly, Satan-dominated world. He calls them to fight the influences around them, to resist the tendencies and desires of their own minds. This deeply personal battle, however, is not the sort of conflict we often envision. This battle “is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against . . . the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians:6:12, NRSV).

This struggle pits us against the ingrained, self-centered habits and ways of thinking that have influenced us from birth, as well as a personal foe determined to separate us from God: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . .” (1 Peter:5:8-9, NIV).

Who will determine your values? Who will win the battle for your mind? Will you allow the influences of Satan on society to control and corrupt your personal beliefs and convictions? Or will it be “God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”? (Philippians 2:13).

A godly victory is possible only by establishing righteous standards as your values. That will require you to make difficult choices.

The apostle Paul expressed it so well in these words: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds [on our minds]. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians:10:3-5, NIV).

Who you allow to exert the greatest influence on your life is your choice. Will you permit God, by seeking His knowledge and assistance, to win the battle for your mind?

~Our Dream; The Worlds Benefit- Eclectic Leadership at Second Chance Alliance~

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If it is not in the interest of the public it is not in the interest of business.

When you start a small business, you are instantly the leader, whether you have had any training in leadership or not. However, there is help. Leadership theories abound, and you can choose the approach, or combination of approaches, that will suit your personal style and your business needs. Being eclectic in choosing what parts of theories to use does not mean improvising. It means studying various theories and combining them into a thoughtful approach.

Trait Theories

Early leadership theories focused on the traits leaders need. These include physical and mental stamina, action-oriented judgment, need for achievement, ability to motivate people and adaptability. You can use a trait approach to determine your starting place. Find what leadership traits you already possess, and focus on ones you want to acquire. This can give you a foundation for leading your workforce while exploring other aspects of leadership you may want to incorporate.

Behavioral Theories

Some leadership theories focus not on traits of leaders, but behaviors they engage in. Under this approach, you will find that emphasizing working toward concrete objectives makes for a strong leader. In addition, showing concern for people, having the ability to issue directives and involving others in decision making help a leader excel. The advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to concern yourself with whether you have specific traits; you only have to learn behaviors that make good leaders. You can use this approach of acquiring behaviors to expand upon your skills as a leader.

Contingency Theories

Contingency theories state that leadership emerges under certain conditions. For example, if followers respect the leader, the goals are clear and the organization has conferred power on the leader, that leader is more likely to be affective. This approach allows you to look at the structure of your company and the culture you encourage among employees. You can establish your authority by demonstrating that you have power as the owner, have set achievable goals and have earned the respect of your workforce based on your treatment of employees and the quality of your decisions. The focus here is on the work environment.

Transformational Theories

Many recent theories encourage leaders to make employees better people, appeal to their higher natures and inspire them to achieve more than they thought they could. This leadership approach tends toward inspiration and positive reinforcement of strong character traits in others. To be this kind of leader, you must emphasize values and encourage others to embrace those values.

Methods for Combining Theories

To use an eclectic approach to leadership theory, you should choose elements from all four approaches and join them together as a cohesive whole. For example, you can begin by finding a trait in yourself, such as mental stamina; combine it with a behavior you embrace, such as working toward concrete objectives; add an emphasis on your authority as company founder; and demonstrate your strong values around a work ethic. This technique of choosing one element from among each of the four approaches gives you a single approach in the end

Great leaders make their teams feel safe.  Nowhere is this more critical than with ambitious growth and innovation initiatives, where a key to team success is comfort with ambiguity.

“In the military they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. In business, we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that they may gain.”

Every great growth story is framed by a movement.  This brief, entertaining talk shares how they are started.

“It’s important to focus on not just the leader, but the followers, because you will find that new followers emulate the followers, not the leader.”

Is your company killing creativity?  The points Ken makes apply equally as well to the board room as they do to the class room.

“What we do know is this; if you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original. We run our companies like this. We stigmatize mistakes.”

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Second Chance Alliance a resilient, innovative, pro-social  creative and thriving community for all organization. We inspire, lead and unite an eclectic community of faith, professionals and including disenfranchised individuals, nonprofits, business, and government to overcome barriers to economic opportunities and ensure Hemet, Riverside and Moreno Valley communities continues to thrive. Our history is being made all the while we develop and gain exposure in the eyes of our targeted communities and cities and professionals associated with human empowerment and political legislators.  Second Chance Alliance will be launching The Volunteer Project Leader program, it is a national training initiative that aims to transform casual volunteers into active community leaders by equipping them with the leadership skills and tools they need to make meaningful and lasting change in their communities.

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~Made In America~

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In today’s United States, is being black determined by the color of your skin, by your family, by what society says or something else?

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

Ambrose Redmoon

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

Dale Carnegie

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; its in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

 

What is black? Race. Culture. Consciousness. History. Heritage.

A shade darker than brown? The opposite of white?

Who is black? In America, being black has meant having African ancestry.

But not everyone fits neatly into a prototypical model of “blackness.”

Scholar Yaba Blay explores the nuances of racial identity and the influences of skin color in a project called (1)ne Drop, named after a rule in the United States that once mandated that any person with “one drop of Negro blood” was black. Based on assumptions of white purity, it reflects a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

In its colloquial definition, the rule meant that a person with a black relative from five generations ago was also considered black.

Your take on black in America

One drop was codified in the 1920 Census and became pervasive as courts ruled on it as a principle of law. It was not deemed unconstitutional until 1967.

Blay, a dark-skinned daughter of Ghanian immigrants, had always been able to clearly communicate her racial identity. But she was intrigued by those whose identity was not always apparent. Her project focuses on a diverse group of people – many of whom are mixed race – who claim blackness as their identity.

That identity is expanding in America every day. Blay’s intent was to spark dialogue and see the idea of being black through a whole new lens.

Soledad O’Brien: Who is black in America? I am

“What’s interesting is that for so long, the need to define blackness has originated from people who were not themselves black, and their need to define it stemmed from their need to control it,” says Blay.

Blackness, she says, isn’t so easily defined by words. What is blackness for one person may not necessarily be that for another.

“And that’s fine,” Blay says. “Personally, my blackness is reflective of my ancestry, my culture and my inheritance.”

“Black,” in reference to people and identity, she says, is worthy of capitalization. Otherwise, black is just another color in the box of crayons. (CNN, like other news organizations, does not capitalize black or white.)

For young Americans, what’s black is gray

Black and white

Kathleen Cross: Black as a descriptor of color makes her identity hard to accept.

California author Kathleen Cross, 50, remembers taking a public bus ride with her father when she was 8. Her father was noticeably uncomfortable that black kids in the back were acting rowdy. He muttered under his breath: “Making us look bad.”

She understood her father was ashamed of those black kids, that he fancied himself not one of them.

“My father was escaping blackness,” she says. “He didn’t like for me to have dark-skinned friends. He never said it. But I know.”

She asked him once if she had ancestors from Africa. He got quiet. Then, he said: “Maybe, Northern Africa.”

“He wasn’t proud of being black,” she says.

Cross’ black father and her white mother never married. Fair-skinned, blue-eyed Cross was raised in a diverse community.

Later, she found herself in situations where she felt shunned by black people. Even light-skinned black people thought she was white.

“Those who relate to the term ‘black’ as a descriptor of color are unlikely to accept me as black,” she says. “If they relate to the term ‘black’ as a descriptor of culture, history and ancestry, they have no difficulty seeing me as black.”

At one time in her life, she wished she were darker – she might have even swallowed a pill to give her instant pigment if there were such a thing. She even wrote about being “trapped in the body of a white woman.” She didn’t want to “represent the oppressor.”

She no longer thinks that way.

She doesn’t like to check the multiracial box. “It erases everything,” she says.

She doesn’t like biracial, either. Or mixed. It’s not her identity.

“There’s only one race,” she says, “and that’s the human race.”

“I am a descendant of a stolen African and Irish and English immigrants. That makes me black – and white – in America.

Blackness and culture?

Biany Perez, 31, loves Michael Jackson but she doesn’t know the Jackson Five. She didn’t know that “Good Times” was a television show about a black family struggling to survive in south Chicago. Nor was she able to pick up certain colloquialisms in the English spoken by the black kids in the Bronx, where she grew up the daughter of Dominican parents.

Some people questioned Perez’s blackness because she didn’t fit into their definition of black.

She spoke only Spanish at home. She watched Telemundo and listened to Puerto Rican boy band Menudo.

She wasn’t black enough because she was Latina and not Latina enough because she was black.

“The way I look shakes the image of Latina,” says Perez, a program manager at a nonprofit in Philadelphia. “As I started getting older, I felt more comfortable in my skin.”

Now, she calls herself Afro-Domincan.

“I think black is a broader definition I also embrace,” she says. “Black is more than just saying that I am an African in America. It’s political.

“It’s about me connecting myself to my ancestors.”

For Perez, black is about empowerment.

Biany Perez: Too Latina to be black, too black to be Latina?

Kristina Robinson calls herself black over Creole.

Colorism

Creole identity is a complicated thing in Louisiana, says Kristina Robinson, 29, of New Orleans.

It’s an ethnicity, a cultural designation for people descended from colonial settlers in Louisiana, mainly of French and Latin lineage.  

The term Creole was claimed by the French and Spanish settlers in colonial times but it also referred to Africans and people who were a mixture of races. Those mixed-race descendants became a unique racial group and sometimes even included Native American heritage.

But in popular representation, Robinson says Creole has come to be defined as skin color.

She doesn’t want to deny the rich Creole history but she doesn’t identify as such if it means moving away from her blackness.

Black people think that her embrace of Creole means a rejection of being black.

“I never wanted to distance myself from my black ancestors,” says the creative writing graduate student at Dillard University.

“They are the ones who claim me.”

In her light skin, Robinson understands the insidious ways of colorism, a system in which light skin is valued more than dark skin.

“Colorism is a major problem within the Creole community and the black community,” she says. “It’s underdiscussed. It’s perplexing and vexing how to work out this idea. I can see how the one drop rule is why we have so much colorism in our society.

“One drop is a lie,” she says. “Black plus white doesn’t equal black or it doesn’t equal white. It equals black plus white.”

She calls herself black. But other people think she is from India or the Middle East, especially in her academic work environment, where she does not have black colleagues.

“The assumption is I am not black,” she says.

Ultimately, she believes environment plays a big role in identity.

Few people, she says, think that of her sister. One reason may be that her sister has more of a button nose. But another reason is that she works in a field with more black people, whereas Robinson finds herself in academic settings where she is the sole black woman.

Robinson acknowledges her lighter skin gives her privilege in a color-conscious society.

“But in those situations where you have to identify yourself and you choose to identify yourself as white – there’s a big denial going on there.

“I do think it’s troublesome when someone who is of mixed race chooses to deny that part of them that was oppressed,” she says.

James Bartlett: White privilege means the freedom not to have to address race.

Race equals identity, or not?

Race is a social construct; identity is personal.

That’s how James Bartlett, 31, views it.

“I’m black, I’m biracial,” he says of his black father and Irish mother, who met and married in Louisville, Kentucky, just a few years after a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.

He was raised in an all-black neighborhood; his mother was the only white person on the block.

“I interchanged between saying I am biracial and I am black,” he says. “The culture I live in is black. I felt black because black people considered me black. That was because of the one drop rule.”

But later, when he went to Ghana, the locals thought he was from Lebanon. Kids called him “Oburoni,” the word for a white man.

Bartlett felt as though he were being told he was not who he really was even before he could interact with them, as though they were taking away his black identity.

“It put me on the complete opposite side of the coin,” Bartlett says. “The first reaction was to put me in a box.”

In America, people thought of him as a lot of things but not usually straight-up white.

“It’s difficult for me to separate race and identity,” says Bartlett, the newly named executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Diasporan African Arts in Brooklyn.

He is black, he says, because he didn’t grow up with white privilege. What is that? The freedom, he replies, to not have to address race.

“I definitely didn’t grow up with that,” he says.

Being white in America is also knowing that people who look like you are always representing your interests in institutions of power.

“That is the essence of white privilege,” he says. “Regardless of changing (demographic) percentages and numbers, racial representation is going to remain out of balance for quite some time.”

In some ways, Bartlett says, he has been more attuned to race as a light-skinned black man than he would have been had he been darker.

Bartlett feels white people in America are threatened by the tide of color across the nation and that it will give rise to an us against them” mentality.

“I think blackness will change, too,” he says. “The biggest change in the near future will be the end of blackness as a diametric opposite to whiteness.”

Charles Cloud: He could have passed for a lot of things. He chose black.

Here and abroad

Charles Benjamin Cloud, 63, remembers a time when he was angry at all white people. That was in the time of the white water fountain and the black water fountain.

“They had their side of town; we had ours,” he says of his childhood in New Bern, North Carolina.

As the son of a Cherokee man and a part-Cherokee, part-black woman, Cloud could have passed for something other than black.

“If I had decided to tell everyone I was Puerto Rican or Mexican, people probably wouldn’t have known a difference,” he says.

But he didn’t.

“I never wanted to identify as white,” he says.

“Blackness is a state of mind more so than a physical experience. But back then, physical appearance was much more of a black identity than it is now.”

Cloud joined the Air Force and traveled the world. His light, ruddy complexion threw people off. The Turks thought he was Turkish; the Iranians thought he was from Iran. He even passed for Greek.

But back home, he chose not just to be American. He was black.

Sembene McFarland gets strange questions because of her skin condition.

Losing color

What happens when you lose your color as is Sembene McFarland, a 35-year-old emergency room nurse in Newark, New Jersey?

She has a condition known as vitiligo and is losing the pigmentation of her skin. The disorder affects people of all races but is most prominent in those with darker complexions.

McFarland describes herself as “garden-variety black” but once her vitiligo became noticeable, she found herself the target of outlandish comments.

When McFarland was working at a cash register job at a Barnes and Noble, a customer told her, “If you got rid of the rest of the color, you would be a really pretty Asian girl.”

“Thank you very much,” McFarland told the woman. “Have a nice day.”

Now, she can’t relay the story without laughing out loud.

Others have wondered: Were you white first or black first?

“That blew my mind,” she says.

Her skin condition shows how people think of being black so literally, she says.

“When I think black, I don’t think a particular shade,” she says.

McFarland was 16 when she first learned she had vitiligo. It was tough. At that young age, no one wants to stand out.

Later she laughed. In high school in Mississippi, her classmates always joked she wanted to be white. She spoke like a white person. Some people said she sat like a white person – all proper.

Now here she was, turning white.

In the end, McFarland says, it’s not about black or white. It’s all the shades of gray that make people uncomfortable.

Brandon Stanford: My complexion is not black but I am black.

Unique but certain

Brandon Stanford’s parents met in school in New Jersey. His mom’s Irish family rejected her for dating a black man.

They’ve been married 37 years.

In that time, a lot has changed about being a child of an interracial marriage. For one, the man who occupies the White House is the son of a Kenyan man and a white American woman. Many Americans think being mixed is “cool.”

Stanford, 29, has his own take.

“I wouldn’t say that being mixed race is either cool or not cool,” he says.

“I’d say it’s a reality that one can choose to embrace by seeing the beauty of a world where the possibilities of transcending the limitations of race and racism exists if one is able to recognize the oneness of humanity. Is this not what our democracy is supposed to represent?”

Stanford, a graduate student in African-American studies at Philadelphia’s Temple University, has had his identity questioned by both whites and blacks. That makes being mixed race difficult for some.

Some times white people speak about black people in front of Stanford, assuming he is white. He lets them go on for a while and then says: “By the way, I am one of them.”

“I have a unique position in the world based upon what my complexion is,” Stanford says. “I always have an opportunity to unsettle people’s minds.”

But Stanford has never wavered on his identity.

“My complexion is not black, yet I am black,” he says.

Stanford doesn’t deny his Irish ancestry. The Irish, he points out, were thought of as inferior by the English. They, too, faced discrimination in the United States. Black people were often called the “dark Irish,” he says.

But the Irish in America distanced themselves from the anti-slavery movement in the interest of joining the white mainstream, Stanford says. That’s where his connection to the Irish stops.

“I identify myself as African-American because of the history of the culture,” he says.

Kaneesha Parsard: Blackness stems from a moment in history.

The past in the present

Black unequivocally.

That’s how Kaneesha Parsard, 23, grew up. She was the daughter of parents who immigrated to the United States from Jamaica in the 1980s.

She didn’t understand what her father’s ancestry – her grandfather was Indian – had to do with her.

“I took the one drop rule pretty seriously,” says Parsard, a graduate student in African-American studies at Yale University.

Parsard’s father was born in British-ruled Jamaica. He was raised with Indian people but identified as black because, she says, of how exclusionary Indian communities can be in Jamaica.

She began to think about her own identity when roti and chicken curry appeared at the Thanksgiving table.

“What I have come to realize is that … people’s history is intertwined, that being mixed race is not at odds with being black,” she says.

“When we think about blackness, it’s usually along a black-white context,” she says. “But there are many histories, interesting histories of resistance.”

For Parsard, blackness stems from a moment in time in 1492, with the discovery of a new land and a history of brutality that followed.

Appearance is a primary factor for many Americans in determining race and identity. For Parsard and others in Yaba Blay’s project, it’s not.

 

~The voice of sin may be loud, but the voice of forgiveness is louder. —D. L. Moody~

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Insight

In James 5, James defines and describes the deep and intimate connection that should exist between Christian brothers and sisters. Confession (5:16) requires deep openness and revealing of that which we would rather hide—our sins. But James says that confession of sin is to be met with prayer, not judgment. He goes on to say that the healing mentioned in verse 16 is related to the covering of sins in verse 20. Confession must be coupled with a change of action. Without change, confession is merely a response to guilt feelings. Godly sorrow for sin leads to a different direction in life. When we hear others’ confessions, we help each other to continue on the path of righteousness.

One of the most difficult inner conflicts we have is our desire to be known versus our fear of being known. As beings created in the image of God we are made to be known—known by God and also by others. Yet due to our fallen nature, all of us have sins and weaknesses that we don’t want others to know about. We use the phrase “dark side” to refer to aspects of our lives that we keep hidden. And we use slogans like “put your best foot forward” to encourage others to show their best side.

One reason we are unwilling to risk being known is that we fear rejection and ridicule. But when we discover that God knows us, loves us, and is willing to forgive even the worst thing we have done, our fear of being known by God begins to fade away. And when we find a community of believers who understands the dynamic relationship between forgiveness and confession, we feel safe confessing our sins to one another (James 5:16).

The life of faith is not about showing only our good side. It’s about exposing our dark side to the light of Christ through confession to God and also to others. In this way we can receive healing and live in the freedom of forgiveness.

Lord, help me to expose my sin,
Those secret wrongs that lurk within;
I would confess them all to Thee;
Transparent I would always be. —D. DeHaan
The voice of sin may be loud, but the voice of forgiveness is louder. —D. L. Moody

~Accountability Not Exploitation=Integrity For All~

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I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites.

Nelson Mandela

Police Release Disturbing New Details in NFLs Latest Domestic Violence Case

There is no question that the National Football League deserves to be under the national media microscope. The apparent proliferation of NFL players committing violent or abusive acts, and the soft punishments imposed on them by the League have deeply and understandably troubled millions of Americans. Perhaps most egregiously, it seems that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was content to bury the evidence that former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice viciously struck his wife.

How can a professional athlete continue to comfortably live life as a felon and common everyday human beings are denied everything as a felon?  With a slew of domestic violence cases permeating the NFL, some football fans arebenching America’s favorite fall pastime.
Even after the league enacted tougher punishments for domestic violence and three accused players sat out during games Sunday, the Twitter hashtag #BoycottNFL and calls for Commissioner Roger Goodell’s removal are running rampant.“No football for me today. Fire Goodell and I may return. #BoycottNFL @nflcommish @nfl #FireGoodell,” Scott Allen tweeted.And the women’s rights group Ultraviolet flew a banner over the New York Giants-Arizona Cardinals game Sunday, saying Goodell must go.

There is no question that the primary goal of this latest campaign on the left is to impose some form of reform on the institution of professional football.

“If pressure from the public keeps this ugly enough that advertisers go further than issuing statements of disappointment and actually turn away, we might just see the kinds of structural reforms that offer some measure of reform at the NFL,”

The call to reform the National Football League would be understandable, though a little excessive, if it was only this recent spate of domestic violence accusations and the NFL’s apparent desire to shield their players from consequence for their actions that spurned the left to demand the reform of professional football. But it is not.

Reforming or even federally regulating this uniquely American game has been a pet cause for many on the left for years.

In early 2013, President Barack Obama told The New Rebublic that he would not allow his son, if he had one, to play the notoriously violent game. His comments came amid a fiery controversy which waxed and waned as most do – a feature of the modern ADD news cycle — about evidence that professional football players suffer from concussive brain injuries long after they leave the field for good.When MSNBC’s Alex Wagner asked Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) if there was “bipartisan support to regulate safety in the NFL,” the congressman said there should be. At the very least, he added, mandatory education programs in public schools about on-field safety should be implemented.In that segment, The Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel added that the NFL is culpable for the care of its players because of what she claimed was the League’s historic efforts to cover up the damage their players suffer.

For the most part, the left stays on message; Professional and college football are violent, cutthroat games, and they need to be regulated for the good of the players and the fans. Occasionally, however, the veil slips and the perpetually outraged reveal that their true target all along was the game of football itself.

The focus of this post is to present the concept of integrity in professional athletes. Professional athletes are public figures and as such their personal lives become public information in many cases. There are many athletes who display a high degree of integrity in their actions while others do not. Professional athletes are role models and as such their decisions and actions influence a number of people who look up to them. When an athlete has a run in with the law it displays badly on the profession and the team to which they belong. However, there are those who display a high degree of integrity and professionalism but do not seem to get the recognition beyond their immediate community/region.

Many professional athletes are an asset to their communities and deserve to be recognized for their contributions beyond their community. Today it seems that those who have problems get more of the attention while others who contribute positively to their community do not. Those professional athletes who are arrested and convicted of a felony should be penalized financially. There are times that have been in the news where professional athletes have been called on the carpet for their actions. In some cases players have been suspended from playing. When this occurs their pay should also be forfeited, if it is not.

All professional athlete contracts should have a clause establishing rules for acceptable behavior and the penalties for breaking them. If such rules exist they should be more publicized. Everyone makes mistakes and people should be allowed some consideration to some extent. However if the actions and/or behavior is continually repeated and/or involves the committing of a felony offense for which they have been convicted, then their contract should be terminated. It is better to have athletes who respect their profession than those who constantly bring embarrassment. Embarrassment applies to their profession, their team and their community. Conviction must be in a court of law not public opinion. While some fans may not be happy about the situation they must remember that professional sports need to instill integrity in the profession. Professional sports will gain respect from the public if they promote integrity and enforce the penalties that are in place for violations.

 Integrity in our society seems to be lacking today and professional sports can be a leader in making a statement that integrity is important. It must be remembered that being accused of a crime such as a felony does not mean that the person is guilty. Therefore, no penalty or restriction should be imposed unless a conviction is achieved through a court of law. Sometimes news coverage of public personalities gives the impression they have been tried and convicted. News organizations should carefully cover any situation involving professional athletes as to not give the impression the accused is guilty. Many news organizations do cover the news honestly while presenting the facts. Athletes who are convicted, not just accused of felonies should not be continually paid for their behavior especially if it interferes with their performing the responsibilities for which they have contracted.

It must also be considered that as public figures there are those who will try to get attention by accusing professional athletes for crimes they did not commit. This is wrong. Prosecutors should consider the evidence before deciding a case against a professional athlete. If witnesses (s) constantly change their minds it does not provide a reliable basis for making a decision to prosecute. Accusations which constantly change in the details, in my opinion, do not warrant wasting government time and money to prosecute. There are enough cases in our court system. Our courts do not need to be flooded with unwarranted cases that are not supported by valid and reliable evidence.

Another point that must be made is that any person who has a valid accusation against a professional athlete should not be afraid to bring their evidence to the applicable prosecutor. Prosecutors should treat any person bringing evidence against a professional athlete with respect. If it is found that any person or persons bringing accusations against a professional athlete is deemed to be totally unsubstantiated, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us,while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

~”Pt-2 of The Why”- My Painful Existence ~

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Wherever my story takes me, however dark and difficult the theme, there is always some hope and redemption, not because readers like happy endings, but because I am an optimist at heart. I know the sun will rise in the morning, that there is a light at the end of every tunnel.

Michael Morpurgo

I don’t know how to write about this tonight because I am in so much pain for the family that lost their child as I have also. My lost of children go further than one child. I lost Demir from Sickle Cell Anemia at the age of two while serving my country. I lost Audrey on her 21 st birthday and I lost Leander to a life sentence in California while Parris is lost in Maryland. I am fighting the good fight tonight not to lose myself from all this reliving of all these loses. I lost time and talents and the use of so many skills and education. As I press toward this vision to become victorious with the vision of Second Chance Alliance I am overwhelmed with grief from several paradigms within this life I now live. My passion to perform ministry and be an instrument of good for God is a daily fight. The thoughts of not being good enough because of all the blood on my hands from trusting my country and myself. I am rambling I know, It’s because of the pain, please forgive me.

REFLECTIONS OF MY SOUL

When nightmares persist,
and dreams seem too real;
When fear attacks,
and the mask is no longer steel;
When desire seems unquenchable,
and the eyes of others mirror what I truly feel;

REFLECTIONS OF MY SOUL

When life has no meaning, and the world is at a standstill;
When words have nothing to convey,
and laughter is the irony of the day;
and tomorrow’s serenity seem so far away;

REFLECTIONS OF MY SOUL

When music causes my body to sway,
and the expectations of falling in love
encourage me to face another day;
When a welcomed touch
radiate a warmth greater than heat, and a simple hug
brings about an overwhelming feeling of peace;

REFLECTIONS OF MY SOUL

When a child’s anger turns to rage,
and a mother’s tears fall because of pain;
When a father’s absence is provoked by shame,
and a friend’s life stolen by the cruelty of the game;

All you see…is reflections of me…
reflections of my soul.

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A MAN’S FEAR

A man’s fear –
Lives in the center of his existence.
It sharpens and crushes his emotions.
It shelters him from his enemies.
It trashes and destroys his joys.

Powerful as it is,
A man’s fear doesn’t let him live in peaceful awakening…
All the talk,
All the writing,
Won’t save a man from his own fear.
This fear has become
The very source of his life.

Only a man himself
Can cast away this monster out of his house.
It doesn’t matter
How much it is said…
Or the endless time spent in prayer.
The fear of a man
Is as stubborn and instinctive
As the lion’s fury.
It fills him with doubt.
It mocks his pretentious
Sense of stability.

I am a man!
I know what I’m talking about.
I’ve mated with this beast.
It now has become the host
And I, a guest to its domains…

Painful mourning –
Morning shouts –
Child’s sorrows –
Madness of the mind –
Anguish of the soul –
It encompasses all.

It is alive
And capriciously ahead
Of each step a man takes.
Fooling and tearing him apart
Manifesting his weakness
Any time he feels threatened.

A man’s fear
Is so rigidly
Rooted in his spine
That it has no origin
Nor an end.

It is undone,
Baseless, concrete.
It breathes life
But kills him inside.

A man’s fear
Dwells in his mind.

I lost communication with little Aaron and it pains my heart as well that I have a child out there somewhere that doesn’t believe I love him.

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https://blessedaaron08.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/the-why/

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~Dissonance; Who’s Fault Is It?~

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Social psychology experiments can explain how thoughts, feelings and behaviors are influenced by the presence of others.

Typically social psychology studies investigate how someone’s behavior influences a groups behavior or internal states, such as attitude or self-concept.

Obedience to Authority

“I was only following orders”

Legal defence by a Nazi leader at the Nuremberg trial following World War II

The aftermath of World War 2 made scientists investigate what to made people “follow orders” even though the orders were horrible. The Stanley Milgram Experiment showed that also non-nazi populations would follow orders to harm other persons. It was not a German phenomenon as many thought.

Milgram’s Lost Letter Experiment

Classic social psychology experiments are widely used to expose the key elements of aggressive behavior, prejudice and stereotyping. Social group prejudice is manifested in people’s unfavorable attitudes towards a particular social group. Stanley Milgram’s Lost Letter Experiment further explains this.

Obedience to a Role – Dehumanization

The Abu Ghraib prison-episode was yet another example on the power of predefined roles. The Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip Zimbardo, demonstrated the powerful effect our perception of expectations in roles have.

Conformity

Solomon Asch wanted to test how much people are influenced by others opinions in the Asch Conformity Experiment.

Observational Role Learning

Behaviorists ruled psychology for a long time. They focused on how individuals learn by trying and failing. Albert Bandura thought that humans are much more than “learning machines”. He thought that we learn from role models, initiating the (bandura) social cognitive theory. It all started with theBobo Doll Experiment.

Helping Behavior – Good Samaritan

Knowing the story of the Good Samaritan makes you wonder what made the Samaritan help the stranger, and why did he not get help from the priest or the Levite? The Good Samaritan Experiment explores causes of not showing helping behavior or altruism.

Cognitive Dissonance Experiment

The Cognitive Dissonance Experiment by Leon Festinger assumes that people hold many different cognitions about their world and tests what happens when the cognitions do not fit. See also the more in depth article about theCognitive Dissonance Experiment.

Bystander Effect

The Bystander Apathy Experiment was inspirated and motivation to conduct this experiment from the highly publicised murder of Kitty Genovese in the same year.

Groups and Influence On Opinion

Sherif’s classic social psychology experiment named Robbers Cave Experiment dealt with in-group relations, out-group relations and intergroup relations.

The Social Judgment Experiment was designed to explore the internal processes of an individual’s judgment and intergroup discrimination, how little it takes for people to form into groups, and the degree to which people within a group tend to favour the in-group and discriminate the out-group.

Halo Effect

The Halo Effect was demonstrated by Nisbett and Wilson’s experiment. It fits the situation of Hollywood celebrities where people readily assume that since these people are physically attractive, it also follows that they are intelligent, friendly, and display good judgment as well. This also greatly applies to other well-known people such as politicians.

Wegner’s Dream Rebound Experiment

According to studies, thoughts suppressed may resurface or manifest themselves in the future in the form of dreams. Psychologist Daniel M. Wegner proves this in his experiment on effects of thought suppression.

False Consensus

Everyone’s got their own biases in each and every occasion, even when estimating other people behaviors and the respective causes. One of these is called the false consensus bias. Psychologist Professor Lee Ross conducted studies on setting out to show how false consensus effect operates.

Interpersonal Bargaining

Bargaining is one of the many activities we usually engage in without even realizing it. The Moran Deutsch and Robert Krauss Experiment investigated two central factors in bargaining, namely how we communicate with each other and the use of threats.

Understand and Belief

Daniel Gilbert together with his colleagues put to test both Rene Descartes’ and Baruch Spinoza’s beliefs on whether belief is automatic or is a separate process that follows understanding. This argument has long been standing for at least 400 years before it was finally settled.

Self-Deception

People lie all the time even to themselves and surprisingly, it does work! This is the finding of the Quattrone and Tversky Experiment that was published in the Journal of Personality and Psychology.

Overjustification Effect

The overjustification effect happens when an external incentive like a reward, decreases a person’s intrinsic motivation to perform a particular task. Lepper, Greene and Nisbett confirmed this in their field experiment in a nursery school.

Chameleon Effect

Also called unintentional mirroring, the chameleon effect usually applies to people who are getting along so well, each tend to mimic each other’s body posture, hand gestures, speaking accents, among others. This was confirmed by the Chartrand and Bargh experiments.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is also known as selective collection of evidence. It is considered as an effect of information processing where people behaves to as to make their expectations come true. People tend to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses independently of the information’s truthness or falsity.

Choice Blindness

Choice blindness refers to ways in which people are blind to their own choices and preferences. Lars Hall and Peter Johansson further explain this phenomenon in their study.

Stereotypes

The Clark Doll Test illustrates the ill effects of stereotyping and racial segregation in America. It illustrated the damage caused by systematic segregation and racism on children’s self-perception at the young age of five.

Selective Group Perception

In selective group perception, people tend to actively filter information they think is irrelevant. This effect is demonstrated in Hastorf and Cantril’s Case Study: They Saw a Game.

Changing Behaviour When Being Studied

The Hawthorne Effect is the process where human subjects of an experiment change their behavior, simply because they are being studied. This is one of the hardest inbuilt biases to eliminate or factor into the design.

To protect our self-worth, even when faced with evidence of our errors, our first impulse is to dig in and justify our position with even more tenacity. We reject any evidence that disconfirms our original beliefs and find alternative explanations to explain why we were right in the first place. The engine that causes us to self-justify is cognitive dissonance — the uneasy feeling that surfaces when we hold two ideas that cannot be reconciled (e.g., the system works, the defendant is guilty, innocents don’t confess versus the system makes mistakes, the defendant is innocent, some innocents can be induced to confess falsely). Dissonance produces mental anguish and causes us to look for a way to reduce it. There are plenty of good external reasons for self-justification (loss of job, reputation, preventing harm to a colleague) but it is the more powerful internal reasons that often are the cause — we want to think of ourselves as honorable and competent.

How do we reduce dissonance?. One of the ways is denial, “the greatest impediment to admitting and correcting mistakes in the criminal-justice system is that most of its members reduce dissonance by denying that there is a problem.” I have seen this in the past year while dealing with the cases I just completed house arrest for.

Using examples from real cases, like my own I can show how cognitive dissonance and self-justification influence almost every decision made by police officers and prosecutors in the course of a wrongful conviction. They single out certain individuals who admitted their mistakes as modern day heroes, including former Indiana prosecutor Thomas Vanes for changing his position on the death penalty after learning that he had participated in a wrongful conviction.

Attribution Theory

Analyzes how we explain peoples behavior

We often infer a correspondence between actions and internal states

Common sense attributions have three major parts:

Consistency — Does person usually behave this way in this situation?

Distinctiveness — Does person behave differently in different situations?

Consensus — Do others behave similarly in this situation ?

To the extent we answer “Yes” to the questions concerned with distinctiveness and consensus, we are likely to make an External Attribution, that the person is behaving in a particular way due to the situation.

Information Integration — When we here a set of facts or traits associated with an individual, we weight them according to their perceived importance.

Additionally, we may put more weight on the first piece of information given to us. (Primacy effect)

We may put greater weight on negative information, especially if there is only one or two pieces of negative information given with numerous positive pieces of information.

Why do we study errors in attribution?

Errors can help us determine how people normally think about ourselves and others.

By making ourselves aware of the errors we commonly make, we may be able to prevent some of the errors.

In other words, by pointing out our faults, we hope we can improve on ourselves in the future.

~I know His Voice, Do “You”?

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When do we know that the Holy Spirit or God has spoken to our heart? How do we know we are doing God’s will and not our will?

These two questions are common and not so easily answered in a specific manner.  There are, however, general principles by which we can know we hear the Holy Spirit.  I offer the following guidelines not as a formula and not as a guarantee but as a means to help people understand and recognize when the Holy Spirit is speaking to and through them.

  1. Become a Christian
    1. John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
    2. It should go without saying that we should be Christians before we seek to hear from the Holy Spirit.  Though there are many non-Christian groups such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and aberrant Christian groups like Roman Catholics, the necessary first step is that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God through receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. This can only occur if a person is saved from God’s judgment by trusting, through faith alone, in the work of Christ alone.  Of course, this means that we must understand and know that Jesus Christ is God in flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, that he died for our sins, and that he was physically risen from the dead.
    3. Therefore, you must be indwelt by God before you can hear from him.
    4. Therefore, in order to hear from the Holy Spirit, you must first be saved.
  2. Read the Bible to know how to pray and recognize false impressions
    1. 2 Tim. 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
    2. We cannot claim to be in the will of God, and thereby hearing the Holy Spirit if we are believing or acting in a manner contrary to the revealed Word of God.  We need to study the Bible.  It is God’s inspired word, and it guides us so that we might know how to pray and also so that we can discern whether what we think we hear from God really is or is not true.
    3. Take for example the Mormons.  They pray about the Book of Mormon and believe that the Holy Spirit tells them that Mormonism is true.  However, Mormonism clearly contradicts the Bible since it teaches there are many gods, people can become gods, there is a goddess mother in heaven, etc.  What they think they are hearing from God the Holy Spirit really is not from him at all.
    4. Therefore, by reading God’s Word we can at least eliminate any suspected communication from the Holy Spirit should it prove contrary to the Bible.

  1. Pray in accordance to God’s will
    1. 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
    2. We discover the will of God by conforming our lives, our thoughts, and our actions to the words of Christ and the apostles as taught in the New Testament.  But, it is in prayer that we enter into the presence of God and seek to hear from him.
    3. Therefore, we need to hear from God’s Word, and we need to be in prayer for God’s will.
  2. Confess your sins
    1. Psalm 66:18, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
    2. We cannot claim to walk with God and yet abide in unrepentant sin.  If you want to be in the will of God and hear the Holy Spirit work in your heart and life, you must confess your sins and repent of them.  You cannot hear from the Lord if you are willfully living in a manner contrary to the holiness of God.
    3. Therefore, if there are sins in your life from which you have not turned, then you need to confess them before the Lord and be cleansed.
  3. Wait upon the Lord.
    1. Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.”
    2. Sometimes the answer to prayer takes longer than we expect.  This is why hearing from the Holy Spirit requires that we be patient.  When we ask of God and when we seek his will, we can know instantly what his will is in many cases by reading the Bible.  But in those areas where the Bible is not specific and we ask God something about life’s direction, who to marry, what job to take, etc., we must wait in order to hear from the Holy Spirit.
    3. Oftentimes, we can discern the will of the Holy Spirit by the becoming aware of an increase or decrease of desire in our hearts as we repeatedly pray and wait on him.  In other words, God often puts a desire into our hearts that increases over time as we pray about something.  If that desire is in agreement with scripture, then it is most probably from the Lord.  If the desire in your heart decreases, it may be that the Lord is not speaking to you on that topic.  Look at it this way.  Pray and ask the Lord to increase desires in your heart that are from him and decrease those that are not.  And, always make sure your desires are in accordance with the Bible.
    4. Therefore, be patient and give the Lord the opportunity to answer you–to speak to your heart.

In these principles, you can find how to hear the Holy Spirit–how to recognize his work in you.  Be filled with the Spirit in salvation.  Study what the Bible says so you might recognize truth.  Pray for his will. Confess your sins and be patient.  The Lord answers, but sometimes he has to prepare the groundwork before the answer can come to fruition.

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~What Do You Believe? Government Or Facts

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You would think that after promoting and cheer-leading for the Iraq War and the politicians who pushed that failed policy, that conservatives would have found some humility or honesty about the topic along the way. You would be wrong.

The conservative movement and the Republican Party are still lying to themselves and everyone else about the Iraq War: The reasons we went to war, the support for the war, and what role the war played in American history.
As  Americans we deal with the war on skin color and mass incarceration and a failed VA system, the Government now is asking for more human life to be trusted in the hands of politicians who haven’t cared for me and many other veterans of the Iraq wars. I came home a mess from nine campaigns only to find out in 2013 “why” I behaved as I did to become a terrorist in my own country. A homeless Veteran equals a disenfranchised individual that more often than not becomes a felon and poly substance abuser which is a person who has a co-occurring disorders like me.

U.S. policy in Syria: “Senate Democratic leaders today prepared legislation to expressly authorize the United States military to train Syrian rebels to help battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and House Republicans appeared ready to follow their lead.” I am appalled at the level of trust America puts in these so called good rebels, who for all we know sold the American Journalist to Isis. I ran, jumped and served in these same areas with the same questions plaguing my peace then as now. What are we doing and why are we doing it for real?

Dysfunctional Congress Prepares to Claim Another Victim: Injured Veterans

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that a pilot program to treat veterans with traumatic brain injuries should be extended. But they can’t seem to pass the needed legislation.
Come September, recovering veterans in at least 20 states could be booted from a pilot program for traumatic brain injury—not because of personal medical progress, but because of the nation’s lawmakers.Despite bipartisan support, Congress has not been able to pass an extension of the rehabilitation program. Since last fall, the extension has been attached to several pieces of veterans legislation, which failed after lawmakers were unable to agree on military and VA reforms.

“If we don’t extend it, veterans…across the country will be ejected from the care they’re going to be getting, which would constitute, in my mind, a premature discharge,” said Susan Connors, the president of the Brain Injury Association of America. “Families feel like this has been a lifeline.”

Now the VA has halted new patient admissions and informed health-care providers that it plans to discharge veterans by September 15, Connors said.

The program currently is offering more than 100 veterans the opportunity to receive treatment for traumatic brain injuries in assisted living facilities, where they get therapy for their memory, movement, speech, and community reintegration. They also relearn simple tasks, such as how to cook, make a bed, and go to the grocery store. About half of these veterans were involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the rest are from previous generations. Eighty-four vets already have transitioned successfully through the program.

“With traumatic brain injury, many of them are struggling to do the basics,” said Joy Ilem, deputy national legislative director of Disabled American Veterans. “The pilot [program] seemed to really offer them the type of environment that worked on a number of things they might have struggled with.”

The Iraq War was one of the worst foreign policy ideas ever put forth in American history. The war was a war of choice, completely and wholly unnecessary. In engaging in the Iraq War, thousands of lives were lost unnecessarily – American soldiers and innocent Iraqis.

There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to produce such weapons, nor was he hiding any such weapons. The assertions that he had this power were false.

Hussein was contained. Hussein was a thuggish dictator who posed no threat to anyone in the region besides his own people, and even then his powers were limited. The no-fly zone prevented him from having any tactical edge, while combined with international sanctions, limited his ability to do harm. His neighbors in the region faced no threat from him – not Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Israel.

Invading Iraq opened Pandora ’s Box in the region, and much of the chaos we see today is a result of those actions.

Military veterans experience “excessive wait time” for medical care, leading to higher incidences of preventable hospitalizations and death, according to a scientific research council.

Drawing on the findings of recent government and scholarly studies, a report issued this week by the Institute of Medicine paints a picture of a healthcare system that is understaffed, under trained, and inaccessible.

For instance, veterans seeking mental-health care at one site had to wait, on average, 86 days to see a psychiatrist, according to the report. And veterans living in rural areas may not have access to any psychiatrists at all, the report said.

The Institute of Medicine’s report comes a couple of weeks after the Government Accountability Office that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees manipulated records to understate the wait times for medical appointments. In once clinic, for example, employees made it appear as though there was no wait time when, in reality, veterans experienced six- to eight-week delays for appointments, the GAO said.

Congress commissioned the study by the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academies. The National Academies is a non-profit organization that often provides advice to Congress on scientific and technical issues.

While the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the healthcare arm of the VA, requires that veterans seeking mental-health care be able to get a doctor’s appointment within 24 hours, the VHA has no “reliable and accurate method” to make that happen, the report said, citing findings from the VA Office of the Inspector General.

In my case the VHA has denied me services for 14 years. I came home seeking help and still seeking help. I am a classic case of how a veteran can become a terrorist in his own country because of being denied services after being a patriot that became a FELON and now is a TERRORIST because of a felony and substances abuse issues that came about due to trying to suppress pain and ill behavior behind anger and depression.

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