I WILL NOT BECOME A STATISTIC.


As the world stands by and watches the flames of conflict I am saddened. I am saddened because humanity continues to destroy ourselves. We continue to sow the seeds of distrust and anger among our children. We seem not to be able to remember the pain that we have endured. We call on others to pursue peace as we beat the drums of war. How can peace be attained while retribution is supported? How can we support the process of peace while developing the means of war?

Some will say that war will always be with us. The truth is more complex and challenging than that simple statement. War will be with us as long as our leaders are cowards. As long as our leaders behave like street thugs, but are not held to the same rules. The problem is, there is no one to hold the powerful to the same  rules as the weak are held. Fundamentally the thugs that rule world politics are rich in resources both monetary and civic. They are primarily rich in civic resources. Powerful people support the slaughter and protect the barbaric.

We wonder why young educated and economically stable people join in the barbarism of conflicts all over the world. That questions is only asked by the morally deprived. I was brought up with a deep moral compass, in a country that has a longstanding history of supporting the “little” guy. The sun and fun of Jamaica was always equally matched by our deep mistrust of world powers, because we have suffer at the hands of the powerful. The powerful will always abuse the weak as long as the weak allow it. The arc of history is long and today’s victory for the morally deprave will turn into tomorrows sadness.

Many of us, and I include myself have long ago stopped being attentive to the many slaughters on the world stage. We have stopped paying attention because our anger has no outlet. We have joined the ranks of those that have chosen to deliberately not follow the happens in the world. We have stopped watching because the answers are obvious but will never be acted on. The powerful are amoral and the killing of non-combatants has become acceptable. We have stopped watching because there is no one willing to call out the complicity of those that pretend to represent us.

I have stopped watching because it makes me angry. I will not allow my anger to push me into the world of the depraved. I will not become a statistic.

WHAT IS YOUR AMERICAN DREAM?


Every July 4th I remind myself of the courage of the founders of my country. The beauty of the declaration of independence is in the broad inclusiveness of the sentiments expressed. The global equality of mankind as expressed is at the root of the American dream. However, the history of our country is littered with the carcasses of failed policies and leaders who have not lived up to the lofty expectations of that celebrated document. The 4th should be used as a time to refocus on the sentiments expressed. This land of immigrants is not about where you were born, but about what you believe in. It is about fairness, equity and the continuous match toward a more perfect union.

The dream of America is alive and prospering despite all the attempts to distract. Some have lost hope in the self-evident greatest of the American experiment. I am not one. For people of color the American experience is that of continued heart-break, but there runs a determined strain of hope that as continued to improve our lot in this union. I read the declaration of independence on the 4th to be reminded of the promise and the progress. This is a marathon not a sprint, and we dream of true equality as we march toward that goal. This is my American dream.

I have hope because I have to be hopeful. I have young children and I know that the world has changed for the better and that change will continue. Most importantly I know that the growth in American society is irreversible because my generation and the following have made it so. As the country ages those who express the old prejudices have been out numbered and embarrassed into submission. There will always be a few stubborn ones. There will always be some expressions of darkness, but the light of equity is here to say. Progress has been slow and inconsistent but it is here to stay.

The continuous expression of hope and growth is why I continue to love my America. American greatness is derived from the philosophy of her people. If you were born in this land or emigrated the dream is the same. We are a people buoyed by hope and the understanding that we can be the best and always expect to be.

What is your American dream?

IT IS OUR WORLD


Our lives are short and then we die. How are you going to make the best of your experience? Are you going to be conservative and play it safe?

We often worry more about others and are less concerned about how we are using our limited time. Ignore them, because in the long arc of time they do not matter. I say wake up and dream. Dream of your adventures, but make sure you wake up and experience them. Do it now because only you will live the regret. Do it now because there is no better time. Do it now because we hold the keys to our happiness.
Take hold, escape and live it.

Because life is what happens when we are making plans, plan less. Life is in the moment. Make your list and check it off, because time will not wait for you. We have come too far to give up now. We have survived for a reason. We have survived so we can enjoy. We are here because evolution has chosen us. She is a strict master and only those who take hold and grow will succeed.
We have gotten lucky, we have come too far to give up.

We need to raise the bar. We need to go out and take our rightful place. Do not get pushed, go do the pushing. Brush off the dust. Go dancing in the rain because you are a champion and the world is your play ground. We are like butterflies. We have survived a long birth, it is time to explore. The world will hear us. The world will respect us. The world does not matter. It is our world. Hold on, but not too tightly. Enjoy it, do not stifle it. Take hold and make it count. Be a little breathless, but mostly keep your smile on and remember that it is your world.

I WILL ALWAYS EXPECT MORE.


THE PRINCESSES
THE PRINCESSES

Having children has changed my life for the better. Having girls has allowed me to see the world through changed eyes. I often do not like what I see, but there is always hope. I am hopeful because I can see strength in my princesses and I can see the world evolving. The change is not as fast as I would like, but change is happening. My princesses have been born into a world where they have access to opportunity and much improved safety. As women of African heritage they have unique challenges and strengths, but mostly they are from a long line imbued with confidence and self-sufficiency.

I continue to be sure of their success because they have great role models. My instinct is to protect them from all that is bad in the world by building a wall around them. My struggle now is to determine the height of that wall. I want them to grow by learning from my successes and failures, but understand they will learn best from their own experiences. All parents have that nervousness, but for a father of a women of African heritage the world is a little different.

My princesses are still innocent to the crazy world and I will protect them from it for as long as possible. They are three and five years-old and their life is changing fast. My five year-old is ready. She is the love of my life and I worry, and I am excited for her. I am ready for her to discover more of what the world as to offer. The world has already expressed their low expectations of her, but like her ancestors before she will perform above and beyond because her corner expects her to be the best. High expectations lead to commensurate performances. I will continue to protect and love her, and be her shield and sword. I am a parent, I am her father and her friend for life. I  will always expect more.

MEASLES, REALLY?


The current rise in measles cases is a direct result of poor vaccination coverage. The current and pass trend in not vaccinating children is dishearten and threatens public health. How did we get from measles being almost completely eradicated to the highest numbers in decades? I want to suggest that this is emblematic of the poor scientific education of American society. We have allowed the principles and fundamental laws of nature to be undermined in the public discussion of societal problems.

The pervasive acceptance of the creation myth and the almost complete rejection of the pursuit of scientific knowledge is  at the root of the resurgence. The lack of understanding and rejection of the scientific method has led to a population that questions everything without the requisite background information.  Questions are healthy only when the questioner has a grasp of the context of the questions. We have lost our ability to objectively analyse the facts. The is not because the population is less intelligent that prior generations, but because we have had a 30 year campaign to undermine the foundations of scientific thinking. Scientific facts and precepts are attacked for economic reasons. The concerted and coordinated attacks have led to a wide-spread loss of societal scientific identity. We have lost our understanding of our place in the earth’s ecology. Instead of seeing our species as apart of the larger ecological system we have deluded ourselves into the belief that we are superior.

Many are under the miss-guided idea that creationism is an equal theory to evolution. This as lead to loss of understanding of the biology of life. Without a grasp of the facts of evolution an understanding of biologic life is not to be expected. The current concepts of biologic life are based on evolution and its essential component natural selection. Without a working understanding the general population is susceptible to the quacks that propagate the anti-science garbage that masquerade as alternative “scientific” theories. These vessels of idiocy need to be marginalized. They are the most dangerous threat to our society. Humanity will not be killed by global war or a rock from space. Humanity will be destroyed if we do not accept scientific facts and methods in our approach to the ecological system.  Science is the only route to understanding the physical world. We are a small part of a larger ecosystem. We are not essential to this system. If we do not understand that fact we will join the many other dead ends of evolution on our home planet.

Our ability to educate our people will determine over survival as a species. Let us drive the anti-science crowd from the places of power and consign them to the waste-bin of history.

MANAGEMENT IS A CONTACT SPORT


Employers have for too long been stuck using coercive methods to get employees to complete the requires task.
These methods have in general been a failure for both employers and employees. The resentment created leads to low productivity. This low productivity as resulted in employers requiring more work for the same pay resulting in even more resentment, malaise and apathy. The foundation of the problem is in a management class that often has inadequate direct experience in the industry that they are supposed to manage. This leads to unrealistic goals being set.

The lack of coupling between the persons establishing goals and the persons required to accomplish them is road block that has not adequately been challenged.
The failure to do so is more systemic that individual. The frustration of managers in not meeting their goals is understandable but does not engender sympathy. Employees are not sympathetic because they are the ones being asked to do more with less and managers often dig in and reach for the old solutions bucket.

A meeting is called to discuss the problem and most often no solutions can be agreed on and another meeting is scheduled. Before the meeting is adjourned a subcommittee is established to discuss and report to the next meeting. The committee is often too large and composed of the persons with the least creativity. In addition the committee is often given poor instructions and is without the power required to make the changes that would be most beneficial. A fuzzy deadline is set and the problem is considered solved.

The committee reports and one of two things happens, the recommendations are ignored or the committee asks for more time.
The endless committeeing of problems is a recipe for paralysis. We all recognize the problem and further we all recognized that the endless committees is not a route to a solution, but what alternative do we have?

I do not have a better way, but I would suggest that we often know what the problem is and what should be the solution. Where we go astray is trying to accommodate the wants of the many and not their needs. Good solutions are allowed to wither to accommodate the disruptive behavior of our friends or the influential. Even worse, good solutions are not used to solve a global problem, but used to punish the disliked. Such is the influence of work place politics.

If we want to solve problems and create more efficient work places we need to remove the pettiness and the politics. The question is, how do we do that? This is where effective management is vital. The goal of leadership is to; create a work space conducive to efficiency, identify problems in the system, and support the best solutions. Unfortunately, most of the management class gets side tracked by their goals and fail to realize that their primary function is to get the best out of the talent that is available to them.

You may think the people subordinate to you should answer to you, but you are grossly mistaken. You are answerable to them. Leaders are answerable to the people they lead. It is the function of the leader to create an environment in which goals can be met. The constant attention to the petty and insignificant takes the focus away from the real problems.

Keep the focus on the tasks that you have been assigned. Keep the people under you focused on the larger picture. keep the personal life of your staff out of the discussion. Keep focus on the tasks. Employees can be like delirious patients, their behavior is erratic and will not be corrected by restraints. The only solution is frequent and directed re-orientation. It is time-consuming but needed. Management is a contact sport. Lets play.

Jacksonville


Not many cities can boast the diversity in ecology that can be found the Jacksonville, Florida metropolis. I have had the pleasure of working in the downtown area for several week over the last several years and did not notice until recently. My recent experience has shown me a very different side of a wonderfully diverse city. If you love nature and love city living you would not go wrong considering Jacksonville.

The shear area of the city is without comparison and borders on sprawl with all its negative connotation. However, the city is redeemed by its access to the Atlantic and the surrounding marshes. The creative restoration and preservation of wildlife habitats along with the rescue and re-purposing of old railroad tracts has created a large, diverse and intricate network of trails. The accessibility provided is wonderful and shows what can be done when thought and energy is applied to the ecology we are blessed with.

On my last visit I ran several trails and had the opportunity to watch the sunset over the wonderful marshes. Never did I pay for access, but would have gladly. The paths were well-marked and maintained. From downtown to densely wooded areas was an easy drive, with most within 20-30 mile of downtown. The accessibility allowed me to work a full day and still make it out to enjoy nature before the sun went down. I took the opportunity and explored some of best trails.

If you are a runner and enjoy the natural environment you would love visiting the Jacksonville area. I suggest you take that trip sooner than later and enjoy what Jacksonville has to offer.

I did not get to all the trails that I planned to, but there is always next time. What are you waiting on?

See some of my pictures.   https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYa1Sag

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.


I am not big on holiday celebrations. Most holidays have degenerated into a shopping experience. However, like many others I have a special place in my heart for mother’s day. This year more than others I feel the pull of the celebrations. Being a mother is a tough job and the challenges are many. After 9 months physically attach to another human I am not sure how one can ever let go. The challenge of letting go is a skill that nature has had many opportunities to refine. I am glad that the tires that bind are stretched not broken.

I am very thankful for all the mothers in my life. All the mothers that took me in and made me the person I am. Looking back over my very short life I realize that the mother that carried me for 9 months was just the principal of a my “moms” committee. I had an exceptional committee and will continue to shout their praise from the mountain top.

Mothers are special people. Mothers are special woman. Mothers are those special woman who have and continue to lookout for your best interest in spite of yourself. They are the women in your life that have kept you going. They have kept you on the difficult path because they know that the fire of life creates strength for the ages. Mothers do not see genetics, they give love because we deserve it.

Mother’s day is an anti-climax. It is a let down. It is not sufficient to celebrate the depth of love I have for my mothers. In spite of the inadequacy of the day, I want to express a sentiment not said often enough. Mother I love you. Mother I love you because you have been and continue to be my safe resting place. Thanks for the love and the pain. Thanks for the joy and let down. Thanks for the commitment to a better me. Thanks, because you have been my champion and I will continue to be yours.

Happy mothers day.

WE ARE STRONGER.


As the sun rises above the gray misty sky I remember. I sit facing the sun with the warmth slowly climbing up my arm and bathing my face. There is a cool breeze that ruffles my shirt and the stars and stripes above me. There is peace in silence. The chirp of a distance bird can be heard and there is peace in her melody. I put my feet up and accept the gift that nature is giving. I accept because I have no control. I accept and love it because love is my only outlet.

I love because I need love. I am a lover because she requires it. Mother nature gives as she gets so I give love. Mother loves because she knows no other. I accept because I am her son.

There is loss but we have her gifts. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit. We are more resourceful than others credit us. We are more resilient than we can imagine. We are powerful, but only if we believe. We are greater and stronger than our loses. Our tears express our strengths. In our tears is expressed our resilience. In times of great loss we may crack, but we will not break. The cracks only serve to expose the depths of our strength. We hold ourselves together in spite of the tears. We hold ourselves together because of our tears.

We are sad and we are happy. We are complex and simple. We are strong because it is required. Our strength is required and is ever-present because we know no other way.
Mother nature gives and she takes, but we are strong because she has strengthen us.

Happy are our days, because we have the strength of our tears.

ENJOY YOUR EASTER.


Often life gets in the way of living and we get carried away with the emotional. The beauty is in the living not in the life. Our experiences are the sum total and the after life is irrelevant. That view of life is much disputed, but it is my view. The constant attempt of the religious to guilt us into prescribed behaviors is admirable only in that it has so thoroughly succeeded.

The complaints that will spring from my expression of this opinion is so perfectly conjured, by the religious, as to make even the most noncommittal give credit to those views. The oddity is that the same people who believe in the absolute power of scientific evidence in the care of patients ignore the validity of those rules to justify their beliefs.

As I tell the story I lost my religion in the sixth grade when a teacher seeing I was bored gave me a book about the solar system. Not far into reading about our tiny part of the universe the story of creation as proclaimed by Genesis lost all meaning. As a 9-year-old I was not sure about what I was reading, but the seeds were planted.

Those seeds grew into my love of science and evidence. I will allow you your belief structure as long as you do not attempt to guilt  me into compliance with your view of the universe. I will acknowledge the evidence and your freedom to do otherwise. I am comfortable with the knowledge that I am not in control of the universe. I am comfortable that your religious convictions do not give you any more understanding of the universe.

Religion is about ignoring the uncertainty and providing platitudes to explain the unexplained. I will stand with the evidence and follow it where it leads. I can live with the uncertainty and strive to find the evidence to answer the important questions.  Because I am looking for evidence does not make me any less of a person than you are. It makes me less ideological.

Enjoy your Easter, while I continue to look for the evidence.