This Is What Happens When You Reminisce About Good Times Past

Thankfully, Sweet T and I are at the age where we can look back and joyfully recall our childhood memories while commenting about how much times have changed since way back when. So it’s not unusual for me to find myself reminiscing about good times past.

Sweet T and I dig kicking back and binging on Netflix and we love watching movies. We talk a lot about current events and what’s going on in the world. Thanks to my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Williams (shout out to J.H. Moore Elementary!), I’m a bit of a news junkie. She urged all of her students to make a habit of reading the paper and watching the evening news (which was way more limited than it is today). Thankfully, T appreciates my news habit and indulges my penchant for docu-dramas. (FYI, if you haven’t watched it yet, check out Cuba Gooding Jr. portraying O.J. Simpson in ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’).

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Growing up in the Ark-La-Tex, I remember that we only had three channels, not counting PBS. The national news came on at 5:30 p.m., followed by the local news at 6. Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner were among the nightly staples, along with the local news pros like Al Pierce, Liz Swaine,  Al Bolton, and Bob Griffin. And who can forget the legendary Bill Moyers? Credibility and accuracy in reporting seemed to be more valued back then. Getting it right mattered.

The pressure of today’s 24-7-365 competitive information jungle has elevated being first above getting it right. As one of my old RTV professors observed back in the 80s–“It’s about ratings.” Ratings drive advertising. Advertising drives revenues. Viewers drive both. If we don’t watch, ratings decline, advertisers bail. That’s the case even more today than back then. But regardless of the age you live in, truth and accuracy matter.

A Clip from Bill Moyers ‘Growing Up in Marshall, Texas’

As a kid, there were a number of shows that were mainstays like ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, ‘The Rifleman‘, and ‘Bonanza’. The stories were not only entertaining but also taught life lessons. In those days, the good guys still won and people understood the difference between right and wrong. I find the best stories entertain and edify us.

Conjunction Junction

If you’re anywhere near my age, you’ll remember ABC’s ‘Schoolhouse Rock.’ The animated short made learning reading, writing, arithmetic, and science fun. The program, on-air originally from 1973-1985 and revived in the 90s for a second tour of duty, celebrates the 45th anniversary of its debut this year. The toe-tapping, sing-a-long taught us civics, history and much more. I can’t help but think it’s definitely a show whose multi-faceted lessons we seem to be missing today.

Energy Blues

Along my journey, I’ve learned that faith and science are not mortal opposites, but complement each other. I can be a person of faith and reason simultaneously.  Learning math, science, and how to read and write is critical to living excellently. Growing in our understanding of the Word of God helps us maneuver the trials and trails of life. To me, it’s more of a both/and rather than either/or. The wonders of science cause me to marvel at the work of God, not question it.

Keeping up with what’s going in the world is important. At the same time, having faith—believing in something greater than ourselves— is critical. Without hope, we remain lost.

Over the centuries, storytelling has served our civilization well. Stories teach, explore, and illuminate the world around us—present, past, and future. Once upon a time, people relied on oral storytelling, verbally handing down history and sharing current events. In our modern 21st century, we have more means to communicate at our disposal than ever before in history. Yet, at times, we talk right past each other.

I hope we remember to use these tools to tell stories that are important and pass along valuable lessons as a new generation comes of age. Stories teach us about who we were, who we are, and who we can be. Good stories teach us while making us laugh, cheer, scream, and cry. It’s why God gave them to us. And God should know. After all, when it comes to crafting a story, no one is better than the Lord.

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What’s your story? Tell it.

You can catch more of episodes of ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ here.

Where do we go from here?

Like many of you, my heart has felt heavy since the events of last Thursday night,  July 7,  that saw a lone gunman murder 4 Dallas Police officers and 1 DART officer. In the days and nights since, I have been filled with grief,  burned with frustration at the foolishness of a few, and overwhelmed at witnessing firsthand the LOVE of so, so many.

DPD Memorial 2016

By God’s grace, I was fortunate to be able to attend three of the officer’s funerals in person. This past week, I have had the privilege, joy, and honor of meeting, speaking, laughing, crying and praying with white, black, and brown people from all walks of life. I’ve witnessed firsthand the loving-kindness of a flood of people travelling to Dallas from all over our nation to pay their respects as they grappled to make sense of a senseless act that extinguished the flames of five of our society’s best. Make no mistake about it; the world has lost five exceptional, good men. They did not seek to be heroes. They simply sought to protect and serve.

Much has changed since I was a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s. We have made lots of progress since I was a young man in the 80s. I’ve seen progress continue throughout my life. But, we still have work to do.

The job is not finished.

Unfortunately, the scourge of racism is woven into the tapestry of our nation’s fabric. It is a hurt that has ached too long. While many have done much to eradicate this parasite, it’s stains are not easily washed out. The wounds of racism continue to be slow to heal. Scabs of this national hurt remain, albeit protruding less today than yesterday. With continued vigilance, it can be less tomorrow than today. United we stand. Divided we fall.

Love begins with forgiveness, so to my brothers and sisters of color, I ask, as difficult as it might be, that you forgive me and all of those who at any time made you feel less valued, less seen, less valuable, lesser in any way. You matter equally. You matter, period.

While celebrating our differences and uniqueness, we must strive to keep moving forward as one. Let us no longer be defined by the hateful voices or the destructive actions of a few.

They do not speak for us.

If we are truly going to all get along, we must reject the foolish rhetoric of divisiveness. Sameness is not the objective. That would fall far short of celebrating our Creator’s almighty magnificence. But we can be different and be united. These are not mutually exclusive ideals.

Togetherness, in the bright, shining light of our differences, proclaims what faith, hope, and love can do. Together, we can heal this wound. We must continue to put our minds to it and be willing to keep our hearts in it. Together, we can overcome the deep hurts and divisive pains racism has wrought. To do that, as one of the officers who spoke at this week’s funerals eloquently pointed out, we must begin to forgive.

 

 

Memorial Day 2016

America is a great country.

No, we are not a perfect land made up of perfect people. While as a nation, we may be more divided today than we have been in 150 years, and as the sun begins to usher in Summer, let us turn our focus from what separates us to what unites us.

Like many of you, I still remember how united we stood together in the days following the horrible moments of September 11, 2001 almost fifteen years ago.

America remains a beacon of freedom and a gateway to opportunity. Yes, like throughout our history, there is still work to be done, battles to be fought, and courses to be set. Our Founding Fathers did not see eye to eye on everything either. Yet, they worked tirelessly to overcome their differences and unite around their common desire to create a more perfect Union, ringing in a Nation of unprecedented freedom.  

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Declaration of Independence, 1776

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, 1787

Rooted in early traditions of mothers decorating the graves of their sons who had fallen in battle, Memorial Day grew nationally out of the ashes of the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history that pitted brother against brother and claimed the lives of over 600,000 soldiers.

General John A. Logan, heading up an organization representing Northern Civil War veterans, was one of the first to call on a day of remembrance on May 5, 1868, then known as Decoration Day.

 “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

General John A. Logan

The first Decoration Day saw over 5,000 people place flowers on the 20,000 graves of Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. This tradition would continue to grow throughout America with each passing year, in every State of the Union. Finding itself embroiled in another bitter conflict during World War I, Memorial Day, as it was now called, morphed into a holiday remembering the American military personnel who sacrificed their lives in all wars. Finally, in 1968, the U.S. Congress established Memorial Day be observed on the last day of May, officially beginning with the commemoration of the holiday in 1971.

The three-day weekend celebration cumulates with a national moment of remembrance observed at 3 p.m. local time.

Our nation has faced challenges in each season of its existence. In many of those seasons, young men and young women have paid the ultimate price for freedom by laying down their lives. Let us honor them by celebrating those unique qualities that make America great and through focusing on what unites us, rather than what divides us.

This Memorial Day, let us remember that we live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” And let us not forget, our Freedom has been secured through the ultimate great sacrifice by those who gave their all.