Thursday, May 28, 2015

Letter 20 (Time Capsule) - 31 Questions Answered by a Teenage Daughter


Questions to a Daughter:

I posed a series of questions to my oldest daughter to gauge her response and get some insight into the mind of an early teenager.   The following are the questions and her response answers:

1. What are the 3 things you are most proud of?  Why?

Answer:  I'm proud that i'm becoming a stronger hitter because before i could't hit and now I can. I'm also proud of getting mostly all A's in school because that means that i'm paying attention in class and I'm getting better in math. I'm proud of being an older sister because later on they'll come to me for advice and i could tell them things that i've gone through so they won't make the same mistakes.

2. What 3 things about yourself do you like the most?

Answer:  I have a family that is getting me ready for the future. My vertical and my height.

3. What three things make you feel most uncomfortable?  Why?

Answer:  I feel uncomfortable when I'm center of attention, speaking in front of an audience, and being in crowded areas.

4. Describe three areas about yourself that you are confident in?

Answer:  i'm confident that i'm gonna be a good person, i'll be able to help others when i grow up and i can do anything i really want to accomplish a goal.

5. What are the 3 most important things in your life?  Why are they important?

Answer:  Family is important because without them I wouldn't have anyone to encourage me and help me become a good person. Another thing that is important to me is that school/education because in order to succeed and get a good job you have to have an education. Volleyball is also important to me because it strengthens me and it teaches me that you have to work hard to get what you want or what you want to accomplish.

6. What are the 3 things that you are most thankful for?

Answer:  I am thankful for having a family that cares about their children because some people have parents who let their children waste their lives. I am also thankful for having food because kids in different parts of the world are starving because they don't have food. I'm thankful for the opportunities to be a better athlete because other kids don't have the opportunity

7. What 3 things make you really mad?  Why do they make you mad?

Answer:  Constantly getting yelled at because i know what i did wrong and if i don't, i don't want to be reminded because  i now know i did something wrong. Another thing that makes me mad is when a person does something wrong and you tell them to shake it off but they ignore you. And then when you make a mistake they yell you or roll their eyes. The last thing that makes me mad is when teachers/ coaches do nothing and all they do is yell at you. This makes me mad because students did nothing wrong and they're yelling at us because they didn't have a good day.

8. Name 3 goals you want to achieve this summer.  Which is the #1 goal?

Answer:  #2 A cleaner room  #1 Become better at passing/ serve receive  #3 learn how to cook

9. Name 3 fun things you want to do this summer.

Answer:  3 fun things I want to do this summer are hang out with my friends, read books, and have a mother daughter day.

10.  What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do?  What made it hard?

Answer:  Last summer when there was training every week. It was hard because i wasn't used to all the training.

11.  Name three things that make you embarrassed.

Answer:  Getting yelled at in front of people, making mistakes, and not knowing what to do.

12.  If you had $100….what would you spend it on?

Answer:  I would probably spend it on food and clothes.

13.  Name 3 of your heroes.  Why are they your heroes?

Answer:  mama, you, and         Mama is my hero because she gave birth to me, took care of me and loves me no matter  what. you're my hero because you made mama happy again when you married her and you gave me a chance to be better at volleyball and your'e preparing me for the future.

14.  If you could change one rule in our home, what would it be?

Answer:  Instead of choosing what to do as chores, there should be a list every week for the jobs.

15.  If you can fast forward your life to 10 years from now, what do you think you will be doing?  Where do you think you will be living?  Where do you think you will you be working?

Answer:  I see myself in college living in a house with roommates. I also see myself trying/ working to be a coach or teacher.

16.  Who are you most like in our family?  What is one important thing you have learned from Mama?  What is one important thing you have learned from me?

Answer:  you because i go to school and after we go to practice. One important thing i learned from you is that you have to work hard to succeed in life. One important thing I learned from mama is that you have to be grateful for all the stuff you have because some kids don't have them.AAnswer:

17.  What is the best complement you have received?  Who gave it to you?

Answer: I don’t know.

18.  On a scale of 1-10, how strict are your parents?

Answer: 5/6

19.  Name 3 areas that you act like an adult.  Name 3 areas where you still act like a child.

Answer:  i watch and help take care of my siblings,  Sometimes I don't make my own decisions, I let others decide for me, and i don't clean my room/bathroom/closet.

20.  What do you respect about your mother and father?

Answer:  They get up really early to take care of us and they give us an opportunity to be good at what we want to do. And they're always there to encourage us.

21.  What has been your worst mistake?  What did you learn from it?

Answer:  My biggest mistake in my opinion is not making my own decisions. I learned that if i want to do something you have to decide yourself and don't let others decide for you.

22.  What would you do, if you could do anything you wanted?

Answer:  Go on a shopping spree with my mom and friends and eat candy/ desserts all day

23.  Where would you like to visit, if you could go anywhere?

Answer:  I would want to go to the bahamas or paris

24.  What 3 important issues have you been thinking about lately?  What 3 funny things have you been thinking of?  What three sad things have you been thinking of?

Answer:  3 important issues: the act /sat work, attacking the ball, and getting ready to pass the ball. 3 funny things: khadijah throwing tantrums, 3 sad things: kids starving to death,

25.  What’s one area in which Mama and I can support you in the next six months?

Answer:  School getting ready for high school

26.  If you were not playing volleyball, what sport would you play?

Answer:  soccer or track

27.  Which area of study do you like most?  Which do you dislike most?

Answer:  i like math the most. I don't like English.

28.  What advice will you give your sister when she is transitioning into her teenage years?

Answer:  Clean your room and listen to our parents. Also, stay out of trouble and don't hang out with other kids that are bad influences.

29.  What advice will you give your brother when he becomes a teenager?

Answer:  Protect Khadijah and focus on school. I would also tell him to man up if he's in trouble.

30.  If you could ask Mama one question, what would it be?

Answer:  Do you regret anything? If so what is it and why?

31.  If you could ask me one question, what would it be?

Answer:  If you could go back to the past what would you change or do and why?

32.  List 3 areas in your life where you depend on others.  Who and what?  List 3 areas in your life where people are dependent on you.  Who and What?

Answer:  Depend on others: Getting to volleyball practice ( You or mama because i don't know where they are and how to drive) Getting food ( you and mama because i don't have money and i don't work)

Depend on  me: To clean my own room( parents ) To help out around the house (parents) To always work at a 100% (parents because they want us to succeed in life and nothing is free so we have to work)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Letter 19 - The Burning of Baltimore


As I have watched the city of Baltimore burn over the past two days, once again displaying images of a savage and uncivilized United States across international media outlets across the globe, I decided that there are some issues here that are worthy of discussion for you.  It is quite evident as I write this that the United States is quite polarized concerning economic capital, political views and race, and the question often forms in my mind whether that polarization will continue to deepen, as it is at times obviously purposely incited by media and other outlets, or whether American society will develop methods, reform or reformations to relieve and deescalate polarization and better society by the time your children are born and raised.

The current rioting and destruction in Baltimore is loosely based on the death of a 25 year-old black American male named Freddy Gray.  While I do not place much stock in main stream American media, on April 21 2015 ABC reported a timeline of events pertaining to the arrest, and eventual death, of Freddy Gray:

“Sunday, April 12 8:39 a.m.: Police said officers were working in a West Baltimore area with a history of violence and drug deals, and a man, later identified as Gray, was seen at the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street.  The officers approached the man, who then fled on foot, but the reason for the approach remains a part of the ongoing police investigation, police said.  8:40 a.m.: A police officer was heard telling dispatch that officers had one person at 1700 Presbury Street, two blocks south of North and Mount, police said.  8:42 a.m.: A “wagon,” or van, was requested for transport, according to Baltimore police, and that Gray asked for an inhaler.  8:46 a.m.: The driver of the van believes Gray is acting “irate,” police say. An officer asks the van to stop so the paperwork can be completed, according to Baltimore police. At this point, Gray is taken out of the vehicle, placed in leg irons and then put back in the van, police said.  8:54 a.m.: The vehicle cleared Mount Street, heading toward central booking, police said.  8:59 a.m.: A request was made by the driver of the van for an additional "unit" to check on Gray, police say. There was some undisclosed communication with Gray at this point.  9:23 a.m.: Emergency medical services directed a technician to respond for an injured patient, as heard on a recording of the call that was publicly released.  9:24 a.m.: Police officers requested paramedics to the Western District to transport the man to an area hospital. In a subsequent charging document, police said, “During transport to Western District via wagon transport the Defendant suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma."  9:37 a.m.: On-scene medical responders said Gray was not breathing, according to EMS reports. Thursday, April 16: Gray was said to be in a coma by his attorney.   Sunday, April 19:  7:00 a.m.: Gray died. A vigil has been scheduled for this evening and the six officers involved have all been placed on paid leave.” [1]

The first problem with this scenario is that the officers involved were suspended “with” pay.  If there was enough evidence to suspend an officer of law, then “with pay” should not have been an option.  It should never be an option when police break the law, when police commit sexual assault, or when police break the trust placed in them by the state and the people.  They are to serve the people, not oppress, extort, injure or take advantage of the people.  I understand the extremely difficult and dangerous situations that American police deal with on a daily basis and I respect the majority of them for it, as there are horrible elements of humanity in our society, but at the same time when a human is invested with the power to take a another’s freedom, has taken an oath to uphold law and justice and to protect the masses, and even hold the legal position take another person’s life (if the situation warrants it)….I believe that police officers should be held to the highest level of penalty for any unjust or illegal actions whether that is corruption or excessive brutality, any other infringement or civilized law or against basic universal human rights.  We have seen various cases of police brutality and outright police murder (Oscar Scott’s murder comes to mind) over the past decades, and we have also seen an increase in hostility and mistrust toward all police elements from vast percentages of minority communities in America, most specifically by the young and disenfranchised.  While there are indeed negative issues within police departments throughout the United States, there are also major social problems in the culture of the United States and we, as Americans, have yet to truly look in the mirror and assess our current condition with rationale, with realization of the negative trends we have developed, and react to improve ourselves.

The cell phone video footage taken by a witness of the Freddy Gray arrest doesn’t seem to begin with the original ‘suspect’ apprehension point and there is a verbal mention of Gray being tasered prior to the beginning of the footage by the person filming the footage.  Either the footage started after the apprehension point or main stream media is misrepresenting the footage, in which I am unable to offer an opinion.

The information on how Gray’s neck was broken, ultimately causing his death, has not been officially released (and we may never know the truth of what happened).  He looked functional on the original entry into the arrest van during the film footage, but there is also mention in the ABC report of Gray being removed from the van after an act of being irate, having leg restraints applied and placed back into the van.  Could the broken neck have occurred at that point, possibly due to police throwing him back in, or at the original time of apprehension?  There is a possibility that those facts will never be known in truthful entirety.  Gray has a long list of arrests, some of which were typical under the private sector-profiting “war on drugs” while a few of the arrests show a negative trend toward self- and community destruction.

Gray Arrest Record:

“March 20, 2015: Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.  March 13, 2015: Malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault.  January 20, 2015: Fourth-degree burglary, trespassing.  January 14, 2015: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute.  December 31, 2014: Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.  December 14, 2014: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance.  August 31, 2014: Illegal gambling, trespassing.  January 25, 2014: Possession of marijuana.  September 28, 2013: Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault, second-degree escape.  April 13, 2012: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, violation of probation.  July 16, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute.  March 28, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance.  March 14, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to manufacture and distribute.  February 11, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance.  August 29, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, violation of probation.  August 28, 2007: Possession of marijuana.  August 23, 2007: False statement to a peace officer, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance.  July 16, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (2 counts).” [Maryland Department of Justice]

The Isolation Process and the War on Drugs:

Let’s analyze a few things concerning these reported arrests.  If Freddy Gray was 25 in 2015, that places him at approximately 17 at the time of his first reported arrest.  Was this another lower economic young man influenced by glamorized Hollywood images such as ‘The Wire’ or modern so-called Hip Hop?  We do not know, because we did not know him as an individual person, nor in reality would we probably want to due to his recorded history.  But there are some things we can study here.  I tell you now and from experience that drugs, whether one’s opinion on whether drugs are harmless or bad, are a sure shot way to closing opportunities for advancement in society, becoming isolated from advancement in society and an eventual destination inside the private prison system or the grave.  When the police make mention of ‘high drug areas’, they usually are referring to lower economic areas.  Yet, our young men in this country are foolish, uneducated and often influenced by the self-destructive so-called entertainment industry to think they can carry drugs in public or in automobiles at all hours of the night (which will eventually result in a random police stop and arrest).  It doesn’t matter what people think.  Drugs are illegal in this republic, and nothing good can come of being arrested for drug possession or distribution.  The largest misconception by young people in the United Sates is that they have been hoodwinked into thinking that they live in a free country.  There is no such thing, and certainly not in the United States.  Yes, you can make choices that people in other countries are not allowed to make, like will I work today or not, or will I go to the bar tonight or visit my kids, but you are not free as no society throughout history has ever been free of laws and structure.  How do drug arrests impact society and individuals of lower economic society?  You must study the so-called war on drugs that was implemented in the early 1980s.  This was a massive privatization scheme aimed to develop private prison systems on the stock market and has advanced over the past three decades into a massive laundering process of taxpayer’s money into private sector coffers.  The private sector prison system basically works as follows:  At some point during the late 1980s, individual states stopped building state owned prison systems and privately owned prison systems began to rapidly increase in number, while tougher drug law sentences were implemented across the United States.  As drug arrest incarcerations began to spike, the state prison systems could not house the inflow of inmates (under tougher drug sentences and a growing population) and individual states were required to house the increasing overflow of detainees in private prison facilities instead of overcrowded state facilities at maximum levels.  The state, using taxpayer dollars, were required to pay the private sector prison corporations for each inmate housed and fed in those private prisons (per day).  The so-called war on drugs and the private prison system in the United States is something that should be mercilessly taught to the children of lower economic communities and all American youth.  As the United States continues to compile an unrealistic amount of national debt (due to domestic policies of subsistence, excessive DOD spending, and two of the most expensive nation-building processes in history (Iraq and Afghanistan)), recent trends of incarcerating non-violent criminals for drug related charges have been drastically loosened because the individual states are unable to afford such high incarceration levels at private sector pricing under trickle down budget cuts.  One last point concerning the so-called war on drugs is that a high incarceration rate in the United States actually diminishes the true unemployment rate in the United States, as it is actually much higher than statistics show.  The prison industry itself creates jobs.

Gray’s arrest record, if accurate, shows an increase in criminal activity that begins with narcotics and ends in 2015 with alleged burglary and assault (not that the circumstances of those events are documented to my knowledge).  Perhaps this young man was one of the many socially and economically isolated young men in society with no technical skills, no education, and a criminal record and was facing hopeless circumstances.  Maybe he was simply an uncivilized thug.  The point of this letter is not to judge, but to discuss and learn from.  We have talked about the importance of technical skills and/or trade skills in previous conversations, and this is one of the most important forms of value for a person in society that possesses no capital.  Remember that in a capitalist society, one must have capital to generate capital….and a person with no capital only has his own labor to generate capital.  When considering education, it is not the degree or the systematic process that is important.  Self-education is a vital process to develop one’s understanding of society and sociology, history and current events, political systems and processes, capital, and many other areas which dictate a person’s thoughts, actions, goals and planning.  If a person only listens to self-destructive rap music or watches dancing with the Stars, that person’s thought process will be just as shallow or self-destructive as those things that he or she concentrates on.  Out of all areas within the United States, it is the lower economic communities that should be engaged in self-education and determination…as self-education not only improves oneself, but their children through the knowledge of the parent.  It is difficult to break a vicious cycle because when a parent is uneducated or uninvolved, a child is left vulnerable to the next negative cycle development.  Last, but not least, the arrest record.  All people, especially the young male or female in society, make mistakes and bad judgments in life under various circumstances, but continual degradation of situation and risk further isolates a person with each arrest until finally there is no possibility of a future left.

The Futility of Destruction and True Value:

Over the past few days, violence has erupted in the city of Baltimore and buildings burned to the ground.  Indeed, the corporate advertisers have been extremely happy as the nation has tuned in to the national news networks to watch the destruction.  Similar to Ferguson and other areas that have erupted in violence, original peaceful protests were at some point aggravated into violence which began to channel and release deeply rooted anger, resentment and outrage over social, racial and economic conditions that exist in American cities.  Internet supporters of the Baltimore violence claim that the violence will get national attention that will bring needed change to these pent up issues, but I disagree with these sentiments.  Burning down buildings in a community only hurts that community, and many people in the American black community have openly voiced this common sense.  One problem that should be identified with this realization is that when the sentiment is stated that “the rioting and looting is only destroying black communities”, it hints at taking the destruction to other communities and that simply points to a much larger racial divide than may be in existence.  The size of the racial divide in the United States is a topic up for debate, and I will not engage it in this letter, but I often see a great promise in what the United States could someday be.  At the same time, I would be a liar if I said I have not come across statements of hatred from white Americans, as well as black Americans.  In any case, the destruction of community during rioting has many flaws and is not a form of power in my opinion.  First, when you burn businesses to the ground it takes services and jobs from the community.  In Baltimore, a CVS was burned to the ground.  The owners of the CVS were not “taught a lesson of power” by this destruction nor did it hurt the state establishment in any manner, as it is common sense that those businesses are fully insured.  The corporate owner will be paid in full through an insurance claim for that particular destroyed store and will probably choose not to re-open in that area, utilizing his capital to a better area of town.  What many American people do not realize is that when a lower economic community is riddled with drugs, violence and crime….these negative elements assist in capital flight (meaning a draining of remaining capital in that particular lower economic community).  Businesses close down and do not re-open, which results in job loss and less taxation to be reinvested into the community, streets, schools), and no intelligent business owner is going to open a new business and create jobs in a high crime area outside of liquor shops or pawn shops, and even those businesses that were possibly foreign owned have American insurance policies in case of destruction.  What else was senselessly destroyed in Baltimore?  A laundry mat was destroyed, which was probably pretty important in a lower economic community for those without a washing machine.  A senior center for old people was burned and destroyed (man, rioters, way to stick it to the man on that one!).  Apartment buildings were destroyed (in which the people who lived there now have no place to live any longer, but the building owners have insurance).  Lastly, there is the subject of looting and stealing from those destroyed stores and this lack of discipline is what separates the individualistic United States from states like Egypt, whose people united peacefully to remove a dictator from power during the original Arab Spring.  It seems that in America, no true cause can be undertaken by the people before a good majority of people begin looting and grappling for individual gain (like the animalistic images from the annual Black Friday at Wal-Mart).  What has been occurring in Baltimore is simply destruction and the sad part about it is that it is incited and carried out by those that have no true understanding of the destruction, no desire to improve society during times of calm, and no historical knowledge of Frederick Douglass, Benjamin Banneker , George Washington Carver, WEB DeBois, the evolution of Malcolm X after Mecca, the speeches of King, Harriet Jacobs, the various economic and political levels of American slavery and American segregation and the ramifications of those periods, or any of the other great peoples that changed history for the better by rising up and reforming the system with the goal of bettering society in a positive manner.  There are those that have recently made statements such as “people power”, but mass violence (the hurting of others) and the mass destruction of communities is not power.  Knowledge of self and knowledge of one’s surrounding systems will open avenues of power and positive reform within the system.  Self-education is true power and creates more value in self-determination than any materials that can be purchased from capital, or destroyed.

[1] Katherine Faulders.  2015.  Timeline of How Freddie Gray's Arrest Unfolded in Baltimore a Week Before His Death.  ABC News, April 21, 2015.  http://abcnews.go.com/US/timeline-freddie-grays-arrest-unfolded-baltimore-week-death/story?id=30479617

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Letter 18 – Khadijah’s Fourth Birthday Message


Letter 18 – Khadijah’s Fourth Birthday Message

Khadijah, today our family had the privilege of watching you begin your fifth year in this world as you turned four years of age.  Feeling your excitement and happiness is something that no one can take from your mother and me, and your older sister and younger brother (even though he managed to get you and your mother kicked out of the movie theatre half way through the movie you went to see).  The few toys and gifts that you received will fade from your memory, only to be briefly revived later in life through a photo or two, but I wrote several specific words on your birthday card that I want to briefly discuss in this letter.

Family.  Do not ever forget to put your family first in this world.  The five of us will only be together for a limited time and each day we are together is a gift.  Yes, there will be times when you disagree and get frustrated with your brother and older sister, but in this world family is the one area of trust that you can never allow to become deteriorated regardless of the area.  Many families in this society break up and there are many cases of parents who put their individual wants and desires before their families.  This is a sad phenomenon.  Loyalty to family is vital, and loyalty to your children, to include any sacrifice, is a human responsibility that has, in many modern cases, been forgotten.  Your mother created you, carried you in her protecting and nourishing womb, taught you your earliest lessons in education and cared for you each day.   You owe it to her to care for her and protect her in her old age.  For my part, you owe your father the oath that you will always learn from and help your older sister and look after, provide advice and protect your little brother to the best of your ability.  There is no excuse for negligence in this matter.  I charge your brother and sister with the same oaths toward you.  There should never be a split between you three siblings no matter the miles or the differences at hand.

God.  I don’t think that it will be a secret to you that your father has studied organized religion and religious history in-depth and, due to the various historical discrepancies and hypocrisies, stands opposed to organized religion as it is a control mechanism for the fearful and uneducated.  At the same time, your father is a monotheist who believes in a higher power and a higher structure that from a human perspective is incomprehensible.  The wonders of the world are simply too magnificent to be a random reaction based off an explosion of matter or non-matter.  No man has died and returned to verify anything that organized religion teaches, and the authors of scripture are unknown (outside of the Quran which was memorized by early Muslims, but brings up another debatable discussion of New Testament teachings mixed into the teaching of early Islam).  You must choose your own ideology concerning God or religion during your path through life, but I encourage you to study and apply critical thought instead of sheepishly ingesting what is blindly told to you by so-called religious leaders.  Some of the greatest corruption on the planet occurs within organized religion, and some of the greatest devils in the world hide behind religion.   I give awe to God, as sometimes I think how if one minute factor had gone differently during certain events in my life, that you and your brother would not exist.  I am unable to even image a world without you, your sister and your brother.  And I give all thanks to God for you children and your mother.

Dedication.  Whatever goals develop within your life experience, you must dedicate yourself to them if you want to achieve them.  With dedication, anything is possible especially with someone that possesses your intelligence level.  Yes, you are only four…but I can see the intelligence level in your DNA and in your behavior.  I can also see stubbornness, which if channeled in a positive manner can become a very powerful characteristic.  Dedication will span almost everything in life, from dedication to your family to dedication to self, as well as your pursuits in life.  Many people make the mistake of taking this life as simple recreation instead of working hard to build great things and achieving positive accomplishments, regardless of the size of those positive accomplishments.  Do not wander idly through your years.

Goals.  Goals are vital, whether short-term or long-term.  Your short term goals will help you reach and surpass your long term goals.  I would advise you to develop the process of always keeping short-term goals in front of you while pursuing long-term goals.  At the time of this letter, you are still very young….but eventually you will begin to develop passions.  I will tell you from experience that you can become great at anything if you plan properly, set goals and dedicate yourself to accomplishing your planned goals.  When you look around within the pursuit fields of your selections and see those that are better, more educated, faster, stronger, more experienced or whatever….ask yourself “why not me”?  Keep in mind that capital will always play a part in your pursuits, as there will always be those with more capital that can invest more economically into pursuits than you might be able to….but dedication to your goals and consistent work ethics can counter that advantage.  Anything is possible for you and that is the honest truth.  It is not simply a cliche.  You can do anything that you set your mind and goals toward.

Ethics and Morals.  Ethics and morals are important, young princess.  The world you live in has continuously seen ethical and moral degradation in each decade since I was born.  Many people have no morals or ethics in dealing with each other, and many people in this nation have been indoctrinated to worship at the altar of greed, hatred, lust and ultra-individualism.  Stay detached from these idol-worshippers and their baseless dramas, as these devils will only detour you from positive advancement and you will become morally corrupted the longer you associate with them.  Deal honestly and respectfully with those that are honest and respectful to you, and keep your distance from those whose priorities are materialistic and individual in nature.  Do not be lazy or idol.  Work consistently and productively in order to become a woman that can be relied upon, but do not lower your ethics or morals on behalf of someone who is only concerned with regenerating profits or chasing individualism.  You must learn to be a student of the human element, and in this manner a person who becomes accurate in reading people’s true characters.  Remember, people are never going to show you who they really are upon meeting them.  You have to read them through their words and actions to decipher what type of person they truly are, and this process takes much longer than a few simple encounters.

Self-Reliance.  Self-Reliance is one of the most important areas for discussion.  Build yourself into a strong woman, with education and strong ethics, and a woman that does not have to rely on anyone, especially a husband or benefactor.  While I hope that you find a quality husband and father one day (in the far away future), remember what I stated previously in that society has degenerated each decade for almost a half-century now and there is no telling what society will resemble in two or three decades.  Every day on the news there are reports of abusive husbands beating their wives, emotionally weak husbands murdering their wives, girlfriends or entire families and then killing themselves.  There is more emotional instability behind men than might be assumed.  There are also many, many deadbeat men in this world that have no ethics, no vision and no plan for advancement, and when placed in an ultra-capitalistic society can easily become isolated from productivity.  By establishing yourself as a self-reliant woman, you will never find yourself dependent on anyone who might place you in a dangerous or a negative position, nor a destructive position.  Expect the best out of yourself and humanity, but always prepare yourself for worst case scenarios.  I wish you happiness and I truly hope you can find a husband and start a family with as much happiness, love and respect as your mother and I currently enjoy, but not everything in life is like the princess storybooks and you must become self-reliant in order to prevent dependence.  Being forced to depend on another person, regardless of who it is, limits your freedom of choices in life and your causes restraints on life options.  Ensure that when you engage in a relationship in this world that it is, and always remains, an equal partnership based on mutual respect and shared goals.  Television romances, without strong foundations, can only last so long and men that are overly individualistic are often victims of their base individual desires and fears, physically and emotionally.

Strength.  This is not a world for the weak.  Train yourself to be strong mentally, physically and emotionally.  Again, education and history will make you strong mentally and protect you from falsehoods and misconceptions.  My advice to you if that once you begin educating yourself that you never cease to continuously read and study faucets of history or current events, even if it is two pages a day.  I feel such shame when I witness people that remain engulfed in meaningless video games or reality television shows about meaningless foolery.  Physical strength will allow you to protect yourself, along with proper weapons training which I plan to provide you and your older sister with.  Too many women are attacked in this world by scoundrels or devils, and you must always watch your surroundings and be sociologically aware of your surroundings.  Of course, most sexual assaults are implemented by perpetrators that the victims know or are associated with.  I have warned your older sister multiple times that if she ever drinks alcohol when she is older, that she better stay away from hard liquor and drink moderately because for a female to drink and black out (pass out), she is leaving herself vulnerable to be raped or worse.  It is not an easy topic for discussion, but a topic that I would be a foolish father not to discuss.  You must also be strong and disciplined emotionally, which I believe you will certainly become.  This is not to say that you can’t have emotions, as human emotions are one of the incredible factors of humanity and the human element.  At the same time, in this society, you should not wear your emotions on your sleeve or on your face where they are easily readable, nor should you ever let emotions dictate your actions without first thinking heavily on the situation and rationally analyzing your options.  When your emotions are obvious to everyone, your enemy or competition will be able to see and understand when you are flustered or frustrated, sad or giddy.  It is sad to say this, but in a society filled with ultra-individualism and individual enslavement to base desires….it is highly recommended to guard yourself emotionally and keep others guessing your mindset and/or emotional state until those people have earned your trust.  Do not give others an advantage in taking advantage of you or your position.  Interestingly enough, in an ultra-individualist society…if you remain stoic while watching and listening, those around you will generally tell (or display to) you everything that you will need to know in order to understand whether that person is righteous, moral and genuine…or whether they are devilish or a mindless sheep.  You have natural strength and potential in all three areas, but your mother and I must properly train you in mastering your emotions.  Emotions placed in the proper context can be an extremely positive attribute that drives you to accomplish great things in your life, but they can also debilitate you or cause you to act irrationally.  If God wills it, you will be properly taught by your mother and me.  If not….this is why I began writing these letters in the first place, may they someday reach you.

Planning.  Plan properly in everything you do, whether this is economically, academically, professionally or socially.  There is much more of a percentage chance for success with a plan in place, which is coupled by the categories of goals and self-discipline, than simply winging your pursuits and hoping everything falls into place randomly.  A single random act might occur, but 11 random acts will more than likely not occur.  No great woman simply showed up at NASA or the WNBA, or became a university professor or a leader, who did not strategically plan her short term and long term goals and dedicate herself to those pursuits using strong work ethics.

Modesty.  There is nothing attractive about an immodest woman, but todays so-called entertainment industry has succeeded in mass marketing and producing glamorous images of so-called feminism that have women all across the nation walking around half-naked, calling each other bitches, fighting like savage animals other nothing, and twerking their asses for chump change.  Modesty is a quality that is irreplaceable in a woman, a daughter, a sister and a mother.  I can only reflect back to the category of self-reliance, known as self-worth, when I speak on modesty.  Women who rely solely on their bodies, physical looks or sex appeal will eventually get old and wither.  Beautiful flowers are beautiful for only so long before the everlasting circle of life occurs, so develop great qualities within yourself that will substantiate your mind, soul and body for an entire life.  A human Barbie doll with no knowledge and the inability to thinking critically is a horrible thing after beauty fades, and the skin hardens and the body sags.  There is nothing more pathetic than a hollow-minded man or woman…..nothing.  Build your knowledge every day and establish yourself as a great woman of value, both in your young beautiful days and later in your final decades, to those around you and your future family (if God will it).  By building your mind, you will never allow yourself to just be valued for your flesh.

Confidence. Be confident, young lady.  There is no reason to ever under-estimate yourself.  Will you be perfect in this world?  Not even close.  You will stumbled, fall and fail on more than one occasion.  It is what you do in those periods of challenge that will evolve you into the woman that you will become.  Again, do not wear your emotions on your sleeve.  Should people attack you verbally or socially, remain tacit and attack back sharper with a confidence of invulnerability.  While their shots may hurt, never show it and retaliate in like manner.  Ultra-individualists are often the most insecure people there are, and you will most often see them in packs because they fear standing on their own.  I have watched your older sister walk into volleyball gyms across the United States with no fear on her face, while other players (trying to hide their fear and insecurities) travel in packs.  I give her respect for that, and you should talk to her about that someday because it took her time and effort to develop her confidence to a point where she no longer cared what others thought.  It was not an easy road, and it will never be an easy road….but once you understand exactly how strong you are, and who you are, and you develop self-confidence, negative and base individuals will never be able to infiltrate your mindset or fluster your pursuits.  In the United States, while anti-bullying seems to be the current trend, there will also be females that will attempt to resort to social attacks and even violence (most of the time in packs, because they are too insecure to come at you one on one).  Your father doesn’t not support meaningless violence, but like Malcolm X….I support violence under self-defense against anyone who attempts to endanger your person or your family.  May you never find yourself in such a position, and may you always be able to deal directly with others in a civilized manner, but prepare yourself in the case that you do.  Carry yourself with humility, modesty and confidence.  When you fail or make mistakes, learn from them and enhance your confidence with those experiences for the future.

Respect.  It is proper to always treat people with respect, and to disassociate yourself from those who do not give you the respect you deserve.  Remember that respect is an earned commodity, never given.  When it comes to family, you will always respect your family.  I do not ever want to ever hear about you disrespecting your mother or raising a hand against her.  It is your responsibility to give respect to your mother and siblings, and conduct yourself in such strong manner in this world that people have no choice but to show you respect.

Education.  I will only talk briefly on education here, because I touched on it briefly in a previous paragraph.  Whether formal or informal, it is most beneficial to be engaged in continuous learning throughout your life.  If someday you have children, you must be educated enough to pass knowledge to them as I am trying to do for you, your sister and your brother.  Education, whether formal or informal, enhances a person’s mental and social capabilities, and strengthens their substance as a civilized human being.

Understanding.  Understand where you came from, who you are and what is truly important.  Understand where your mother and father came from.  Never forget the paths that have led you to where you currently stand in life.  I am confident that you will be a thinker, as I see your thinking and rationalizing at your current young age.  May God protect you and guide you.  I will hold you, and play with you, and let you climb on me for as long as I can before you grow into a woman and engage in this beautiful, amazing, but brutal world.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Letter 17 - The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future


It was already dark at five in the afternoon and snow flurries with drifting as I pulled up and parked, the heater keeping the interior of the vehicle warm.  The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future spoke to me through the irises of my reflection in the rear view mirror.  The first ghost took me to my early childhood and I instantly delved into the feelings of innocent joys of veiled ignorance as if I were home again playing as a bright eyed child in section 8 housing which, despite its realities, never lacked an acute feeling of safety and of a home, which our mother tirelessly ensured through an unmatched physical, mental and emotional strength that still amazes me today: the strength of a mother.  Looking back at my past, it was easy to see what I had already learned over the years since those Christmases.  That child in the reverie of the past knew nothing of history concerning the Christmas religion with all of its misconceptions, pagan traditions and illogical social and spiritual ideologies, nor did that child of the past possess any historical understanding regarding economics, social inequality, or the society that surrounded his snug tattered adobe.  I was an ignorant and unlearned child, like so many American children today, dazzled and glamorized by the magical visions of Christmas with its popular and traditional holiday music, and the various special candies, the twinkling lights and decorations, and the brightly gift wrapped presents.  I did not understand that for the working class parents, such as my single mother, those presents represented hours of hard labor wasted on useless consumerism, which at that time was also in its youthful stage and growing, which would line a private sector profit margin while providing temporary employment for an unskilled worker.  I did not understand the correlation between the winter solstice and the so-called birth of God’s only son, nor the authorless stories of the baby God’s life (more than likely written by affiliates of Saul) that were taught through indoctrination each week of the year, nor did I have any clue concerning all the various testaments that were excluded from church canon after Nicaea.  Looking into my reflection at my past, I felt ashamed even though my past could not feel such a feeling in return.  Maybe if I thought long and hard enough, I could recall a few of the presents that converted my mother’s labor to another’s private profit.  Looking back on the traditions of Christmas, I have long been troubled about the concept of Santa, presents for the children, and the overall ideology of the holiday and religion it encircles.  In my opinion, it is unhealthy to teach a child that there is a magical Santa that brings free gifts to good girls and boys….after all, do not all children, whether bad or good, receive gifts unless burdened by extreme poverty, a condition spit upon by extreme consumerism?  Do not American working class parents delve into further debt each year to celebrate the religion of consumerism by purchasing meaningless items made abroad that have magically been assembled by raw materials and shipped across tariff exempt nation-state borders for manufacturing, and again shipped to the land of milk and consumer honey through a process made legal through international trade blocs under globalization?  Render unto Capitalism what is Capitalism because to make capital one must first possess capital, and the working class man only possesses one capital wielding commodity: labor.  Render under consumerism what is consumerism, but it boils down to needs and wants, supply and demand.  No one makes a person engage in frivolous consumerism and engage in excessive debt levels at excessive interest rates.  I simply do not think it is a healthy ideological concept to develop American children to expect multiple gifts each year at Christmas from some magical character without understanding how those gifts were purchased, nor understanding labor wages, capital and debt.  Ah, but isn’t that the designed problem and the origins of the vicious cycle which makes the foundation for a social and economic caste system?  Are there not children in shelters and on the streets of America, and are there not children in the grave this holiday?  Are there not those with needles in their arms, incarcerated and engaging in prostitution?  On the surface of this magical holiday it once appeared to me during my youth that a beautiful calm would develop over society and a peaceful feeling of humanity would reverberate at this time of year, almost as if there was actually total peace on Earth, but that was not, and is not, the case.  Hate and racism still thrive, fear is everywhere, and oppression, crime, drugs, poverty, and the worst forms of immorality can be seen more commonly than decorated pagan trees.  I had been mesmerized by Christmas from the earliest phases of youth, and perhaps if I had not once loved this now wretched annual festival…perhaps the later realization through self-education on the true history of Christianity, Saturnalia and Santa, capitalism and globalization, slavery, free labor and hourly wages, and the negative ideological impact of Christmas on American society with its temporary boost to American job creation would not have meant as much to my mind.  As the big, hand-me-down, multicolor glass bulbs of long ago Christmas trees faded from my mind, I felt an emotional heaviness in the realization that I could not change the past and would not want to change it if indeed I could, for this magnificent earth and the existence of life is too perfectly designed to be coincidence.

The second ghost sat with me and felt as I felt.  We shared the same pride, hopes and fears for our children and we both yearned to be able to protect them from the harsh realities of this world until they were physically and mentally strong enough to fend for themselves, if ever a human position existed.  We took pride in the fact that we had told our oldest daughter early on that there was no Santa and that we had labored to buy gifts, and we prepared to soon do the same with our younger daughter, who this Christmas season had begun to take a keen interest in the man with the white beard and red robes (which I believe is also based off some pagan devil), and we would certainly later do the same for our youngest son.  We gave thanks to a wife and mother who had given us a beautiful and strong family and was the center of each family member’s life.  For her, I gave thanks to the creator.  May we live to be old together until the end of our lives, and my I protect her in old age as I protect her in these younger days.  She is my strength, and to her my soul belongs.  For my oldest daughter, who has made me so proud despite the minor headaches of her messy bedroom and young teenage years, I gave thanks to the creator.  If there ever was such a thing as a gift, I pray that she lives a strong life and that evil never touches her, and that she becomes a positive contributor to society and a leader of women and families.  At the end of her 13th (12) year on this planet, she knows more about history, religion and economics than I did at the age of twenty and that makes me proud.  For my younger daughter, who is the fiery bull of the children, her stubbornness and determination from her mother, I gave thanks to the creator.  I see so much of myself in her, and I love her laughter and joy.  If there ever was such a thing as a gift, I pray that she lives a strong life of happiness and that evil never touches her, and that she becomes a positive contributor to society and a leader of women and families.  In addition, I hope she learns to share with her little brother, as they must be able to rely on each other during this life under such a society, and that she may stand strong as a leader and never allow insecurity or emotions to dominate her thought process.  When I look into her little eyes, I can’t help but confess to myself that I would sacrifice life and liberty against anyone physically hurting her.  For my youngest son, who has the patience of his mother, I gave thanks to the creator.  If there ever was such a thing as a gift, I pray that he lives a long life and will develop into a defender and protector of his mother and sisters and communities, and that he also becomes a positive contributor to society and family.  May he become stronger, more intelligent, more dedicated, more educated and better positioned to protect and provide for those around him that I was ever able to accomplish.  May he become a stronger and better man than me, a master of emotional and mental discipline, and may he never fall victim to addictions of any sort….for an addiction can destroy a man quickly, while ignorance hinders a man over time.  The ghost and I came to the realization that we would accept the Christmas holiday as an annual cultural event, one that we have known for all our years but one that did not change as we had evolved, and that we ewould njoy the time off work with our children with the promise to myself that all three children would one day be learned in history, economics, religion and politics…for as long as I breath I will push them and encourage them to strive in life and to never cease evolution through learning and research.  If it can be questioned, it can be researched.  With the realization of unemotional and unattached acceptance, we clearly understood without speaking that we would never fall victim to excess debt or frivolous excessiveness for this winter solstice holiday, for what can be made under one government for seven dollar can be sold in a consumer government state for thirty-two dollars (plus interest).  It was agreed that we would never let our children engage in the lies of the season, to believe in unhealthy ideological folklore, and that we would always encourage historical resources and discussions on economics and labor when the opportunities arise during the holiday month. Most importantly, we would ensure that our children understood who paid for gifts, and that some years were better economically than others, and what hours of labor and hardships went in to buying gifts.  There is no such thing as Santa and the ghost reminded me to inform my children to quickly wake me should they ever wake up to a man other than papa in the house during the middle of the night….and to drop to the floor after doing so because of the high probability that bullets would soon ring out!  Before parting with the ghost, we briefly discussed the politics of designed bi-partisan ineffectiveness, foreign and capital lobbyist influence, the liberal left’s bashing of government and also the far right Christian war mongering hatred of anything non-Christian, but the conversation quickly grew stale and we dismissed it in favor of a few old Christmas songs on the radio.  In our minds, we thought about Ferguson and the racial and economic polarization of the United States.  We thought about the white 19 year old woman that had been burnt alive on the side of the road in Mississippi and wondered why and how someone would do such a thing, and the recent accusations of CIA torturing, but there was no answer….only hundreds of additional news stories of shootings, patricide, matricide, infanticide, rape, suicide and horror stretching over every ethnic community to raise alarm toward the degeneration of a society.  What is one day of peace each year compared to the other three hundred and sixty-four?  It is really hard to celebrate anything that way.

When the ghost of Christmas future took me forward, questions upon questions rolled out of me in tongues long forgotten, and yet unknown and unspoken, but only silence was heard in response.  I tried to hold back the questions before they could form in my mind, but they were pulled out of me with a force that I could no longer control.  The feeling that penetrated my mind and chest was a vast, dark grey uncertainty and it enveloped us like a suffocating fog made of heavy cloth.  There were no answers to my many questions as yet, because the future was undecided, and whether I would ever know those answers was also a motionless uncertainty.  The questions of my children’s future lives, families, careers were constant as we moved through future uncertainty armed with only the knowledge that I had bestowed on them and the lessons that I would instill in them in the future if given the opportunity.  With a crumbling moral society, my teachings were equated to swimming upstream in a river of moral filth and self-destruction 1000 television channels wide and internet deep.  The ghost remained silent, but I knew that I could not stop moving forward, nor could I give up my efforts for preparing my children because life would no longer hold purpose without my children.  The gift I feverishly sought was the elusive gift dancing before me being pulled away by a string that would allow me twenty years of life in which to raise my children to adulthood.  What if my daughters married an abusive man and I was not there?  What if my son fell under the spell of a woman of immoral character?  The vast numbers of scenarios flashed before me with increasingly dizzying speed and were grossly intermingled between negative possibilities and positive hopes overlapping each other.  The state under which our children were born also could be seen below and above us as concerns of destabilization, mass national debt (if it is truly a tangible thing) and an economy based on consumerism, and the moral degeneration of a people danced evilly on the rotten foundations built by state forefathers as it began to crumble under the grandchildren of their citizens, and the punishment of God continued to be philosophized: was this a direct result of the human element’s own hand or were the people slaves of a higher manipulating order pulling puppet strings with no concern for individual results?  I cried out, “May my children never obsess upon wealth, but develop skills and knowledge to maintain themselves and their families in a safe environment!”  How hard it is to contemplate an unknown future for your children when the evils in your own society are so great.  How distressing it is to contemplate that future when the future of every minute and major event is uncertain, due to the uncertainty of multiple minor events unraveling to create each of those life altering events!  The ghost moved me through vast arenas of hope, to despair, to uncertainty, into sadness, and finally thrust me into a plethora of confusions.  I wanted to leave this ghost’s presence and simply return home to look at my wife and children as they are today, to hold them and play with them, and to let the visions and sounds of the present to soak into my mind forever.

I looked in the rear view mirror and emerged from the reverie to my reflection.  The ghosts were gone, but they would be back.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Letter #16 - The Christmas Letter: Merry Consumerism


“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, verified knowledge reigned supreme and consumerism breathed its last breath”

As the magical, no pun intended, holiday (root words: holy day) roll upon us hastening in a new winter solstice and a new western Gregorian calendar year, there is no better time to contemplate the holiday in historical, ideological, and economic perspectives in order to develop a clear understanding of what exactly we are dealing with under all of the beautiful mass produced images of peace of earth, hope, and selfless giving.  I must admit that I have come to peace with the end of the year holidays as an American cultural time of year, and certainly enjoy the time off with our family, but I still stand firm against the historical inaccuracies of the scriptural religious events at the center of the holiday, the individualism of the religion, unhealthy norms and values of the holiday, and the excessive consumerism, wasteful spending and accumulated debt that is associated with the holiday.

Briefly, the history of the holiday, and essentially the religion behind it, has been verified as possessing historical inaccuracies based on possible scriptural plagiarisms.  The holiday itself surrounds the virgin birth of Jesus, a man who very little historical documentation exists about outside of the gospel accounts, both synoptic and those not included in church canon after the councils of Nicea and Laodicea.  History shows us that the virgin birth story was not originated with Christianity as there are many pre-Christian virgin birth stories in various cultures to include Mithra, Buddha, Krishna, Odysseus, Romulus, Dionysus, Horus, Attis, and a handful of others.  It can also be rationalized and researched that the birth of the historical figure of Jesus, if he existed, did not occur at the winter solstice of December 25th of the Gregorian calendar, and possibly not even in the year marking the transition from B.C.E (before common era) and C.E. (common era), and that the church placed the holiday of Christmas over the winter solstice celebration of Saturnalia, which was recorded as a celebration with high levels of drunken and sexual debauchery.  Ideologically speaking, the holiday concept is not a healthy one, especially under a capitalist society and an international stage of trade blocs and globalization, for the future for our children.  This doesn’t just include the irrational religious ideologies with no historical authentication that influences congressional politics from the domestic level to imperialism across the international stage; it begins at the micro-level of pagan traditions, the holiday tradition of excessive spending, and the ideology of jolly old Santa.  The Christmas tree, so reminiscent of the maypole, seems harmless enough if you do not consider all of the foreign manufactured gifts, many of them symbols of consumerism, and the current dominated condition of the American job market that is consumer service heavy.  Santa on the other hand would seem to be an especially unhealthy ideology for children, and I certainly have never allowed you children to believe in such fallacy.  What kind of culture allows their children to believe in magical lies about a magical, wait…what the hell is Santa?  A Spirit?, who brings free presents to children in a some twisted social ritual which prevents, or delays, their real world understanding of the domestic or international market, labor hours and wages, Interest rates on credit cards, trade blocs and manufacturing, and the foolishness that anything in this world is free and given (even though there is quite a bit of fraud in government assistance both domestically and foreign)?  How shameful is it to see unappreciative children tearing through the wrappings of presents and quickly tossing hard earned wages, in the form of foreign manufactured gifts, to the side with no understanding of how hard a parent worked, or of where these consumer gifts were manufactured, or economic consequences, whether good or bad, to the family-unit purchasing these gifts.  The light of Christmas gift-giving illuminated at 8-12% interest rates as Americans, and people world-wide, plunge into various levels of consumer debt to celebrate merry consumerism while the private sector, so talented at painting marketable Christmas images of giving across every form of mass media outlet and to every marketable demographic, amasses another annual seasonable capital profit on the backs of the people.  Thanks to regional trade blocs that have emerged under globalization, the state has agreed to many international trade agreements to eliminate tariffs from products coming from so-called lesser developed countries and, in doing so, has agreed to rely solely on federal, state and sales tax, thus allowing the private sector to maximize profits while the individual consumers pay the state in the absence of tariffs.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a satisfying feeling to do nice things for your children and provide them with some nice things, but to do so as a ritual that becomes detached from reality and responsibilities, both to families and state, becomes an unhealthy tradition urged on by inorganic corporate processed images of a mythical white man with a beard.  As I told my oldest daughter once, if there IS ever a bearded white man in our house in the middle of the night, you better take serious caution and wake me the hell up!  The younger siblings will be disillusioned to the Santa foolishness as quickly as their older sister was, and I encourage any parent to do the same.  Some traditions are simply meant to be broken.  In addition, I find it completely irrational and unsafe for parents to take their children, whether younger than 8 or in their teenage years, and allow them to sit upon some Santa-dressed stranger’s lap for pictures without actually knowing who is underneath that costume.  Yes, the holiday is capitalistic-based consumerism, and nothing displays the true economic motives of the thirsty capitalist than the creation of a shopping holiday called Black Friday where mobs of Americans trample, mob, and fight over manufactured items at 40% off retail price, of course manufactured in foreign states, while behaving in the most uncivilized manner imaginable.

Let us quickly look at capitalism in the age of globalism as it pertains to gifts under the Christmas tree.  Private sector corporations will manufacture in lesser developed countries with the lowest wage requirements in order to produce manufactured items for consumption, from Disney princesses to electronics, which are shipped into consumer states such as the United States, especially at Christmas.  Economic benefits for the consumer state have already been reduced by the elimination of tariffs under regional trade blocks or bilateral trade agreements.  These blocs that reduce tariffs allow private sector corporations to import raw materials into the lesser developed states with the lowest wage requirements without having to pay importation tariffs, manufacture the product in a lesser developed state at the lowest wages, and then export the manufactured product out of the lesser developed state and import it into the consumer state without tariffs, in this case the United States, where the products will be consumed resulting in the private sector profit being maximized.  Yet, how does the consumer state benefit?  The private sector pays minimum tariffs and taxes, and the bulk sales and domestic taxes fall on the labor of the individual consumer.  The consumer state no longer manufactures products or exports natural resources of value, therefore developing jobs mainly in the service industry based on this capitalist consumerism as it eats itself to feed itself.  What happens to the consumer state when the population becomes disillusioned by consumerism or the state’s debt to GDP ratio surpasses 100% and consumerism dies of its own accord? 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Letter #15 - Youth Development: F.A.M.I.L.Y


My children, even though the future is unknown and many challenges await us on multiple levels, I thought this would be a good time to take a snapshot in time for you to review and consider in years to come when you are adults or parents.  Although there are serious political issues occurring, such as the current American government shutdown caused by dual political party control of our representative democracy and rumors of the President nominating a new xenophobic “tribal” leader, Janet Yellen, to chair the Federal Reserve after Ben Bernanke, this letter will avoid political annotations and concentrate on, and evaluate, our current educational progress and responsibilities as a family, and my ideology as a parent, in developing academic and intellectual development for the future.  We will use the current snapshot of our oldest daughter as the beginning example for this letter.  Currently, our oldest daughter has transitioned into 6th grade with high success and closes out her first grading quarter with solid A’s, 93% or higher, in all courses.  She holds the position of Student Council Vice President for her allotted grade, participates in multiple academic clubs, is committed to recreation and club volleyball teams, and has been selected to represent her entire grade in a school district-wide conference on student diversity.  I am not vain enough to believe that the ebbs and flow of positive and negative trends, and events, will never wash upon our feet, but I must state that at this moment in time I am extremely proud of the hard work and discipline that our young woman, my daughter, has put forth.  For the younger, she sets the example to emulate.  Again, in our current case, this is simply a nine week success period within a multi-year, long-term plan, and the planning and hard work must continue on with no accolades except a brief review and analysis of parenting on a small and large scale.  Our family, in no fashion, desires to hear “good job” from anyone, because by elevating responsible parenting to a level of praise, it consciously categorizes proper and positive parenting as something extraordinary or special.   Parenting is not something extraordinary or special; it is each parent’s responsibility and human duty to our children and society.

What planning and tools did we utilize to achieve success during the concluded nine week window, and at the same time will continue to use in order to strengthen and prepare for future development?  The answer is the basic concept of: F.A.M.I.L.Y (Family responsibilities, Advanced and supplemental studies, Minimized subjection to mass programming, Involvement, Long-term team work, and Youth supervision.)

Family responsibilities:

Responsibilities do not get less as a child grows older and I hold it as a great parental error, and an injustice to the developing youth, for a parent to shoulder family responsibilities alone while children lounge, sit idle, watch television or play video games.  Free time can be indulged and enjoyed when responsibilities are completed by all members of the family, and in my opinion, all members should be contributing members to family endeavors (depending on level of endeavors, required skills, and age).  I do not see a point in conditioning children, especially at the ages of 10 or older, to not hold responsibilities, to be exempt of responsibilities, and develop a disdain (or lack of awareness) for responsibilities that must be eventually held and completed by all self-sufficient adult family members upon adulthood: Dishes, trash, home cleaning, care of younger siblings are a few examples of many available as each household varies by family.  Our daughter has been taught the importance of contributing to her family and her contributions to daily family operations are quite natural to her even at the age of eleven.  This is one of many, many areas that I must credit to my wife’s parenting and development skills.  We will continue to ensure that our children understand the importance of responsibilities, and understand that having responsibilities is not negative; it is contributing to family (and later society in general).  Responsibilities and contributions also ensure that the developing youth enhance a deep understanding of time management and prioritizing, not to mention a deep rooted feeling of unity and collective investment and contribution, which is vital for academic, social, family, community, and society success.

Advanced and supplemental studies:

The format here is to encourage and enforce studies outside of school as supplemental education to the public school system educational process.  Many people criticize the public school systems, but these schools hold vital educational resources which our tax dollars pay for, yet should be exposed as the churning systematic machine with no real concern for individual children’s advancement that it is, for better or worse.  A machine does not feel.  It is not the system’s job to educate and develop your children; it is the parent’s job to utilize the school system in the educational process of the children.  The program we have used for a few years now is that we work ahead of the grade level curriculum and we work (study) each day after school, weekends, and extended holidays (with days allotted sporadically as days off for our child).  The real strides in the educational development process occur during the summer months.  I do not see a reason to choose between public schooling and home schooling when you can have the benefits of both.  There are many parents that will argue against such levels of educational progress, but we have seen quite clearly, and from a firsthand perspective, over a few years of experience that an extra two hours of education on school nights and four to five hours on a Saturday (and on school holidays and summer vacation), that there is still ample time for the student to be a youth and enjoy themselves as a child.  If anything, it makes the appreciation of accomplishments and the value of free time much greater.

The argument against supplemental studies usually centers on available time by parents, many of whom are single parents.  This is not necessarily a strong argument case due to the importance of what is at stake.  Parents engaging their children in advanced and supplemental home studies need only to plan properly, and ensure cause and affect discipline (reasonable consequences) in order to institute an extra-curricular program.  Children are full of potential, strength, energy, and endurance and easily rise to positive challenges once they are presented.  Parents only need to assign the educational studies each day and find time to review the subject matter in the evenings or on the weekend, depending on schedules.  During the one to two hours allotted for reviewing the supplemental educational work, academic areas that cause the individual child trouble can be discussed, problems worked through, and re-worked until comprehension occurs.  After all, the supplemental educational process is not for permanent records or even permanent grades, the time spent aims for true educational learning experiences, evolution of understanding and critical thought, and valuable family time.  Many of us are tired when we get home from work, but the educational process is about our children and we must make time to regulate and contribute to the process, tired or otherwise.  There is no excuse for a selfish parent that places their social life before that of a child’s educational development.

Minimized subjection to mass programming:

This is a rather simple process indeed.  We already understand the damning influence of excessive mass media, whether in the format of so-called sit-coms, movies, video games, music, or otherwise.  Any parent that can recall the 1980s, 1990s, or even 2000s, can see the expansion of technology and the increase of mass produced (inorganic) popular culture with themes promoting apathy, moral degradation, desensitizing immoral behavior to the point of social acceptability with many faucets of negative implications for the youth (future parents and adults).  There are positive entertainment and documentaries available, but these brief rays of social and intellectual development are lost in the deluge of meaningless propaganda and mind numbing content that is force fed our people on a heavy dosage rotation.  This negative influence and impact on our youth is easily minimized by keeping youth engaged and involved in educational pursuits, active family activity, social interaction activities, and sports.  It really doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as it is positive, keeps the child active, and enhances them in positive social fashion.  The negative influences of mass media technology are neutralized or minimized on an active and involved child compared to an idle child left without mentorship, parental engagement, and activities.  Entertainment at moderate rates, intermingled with an educated and mentored mind (young or old), is not as damaging as excessive exposure and excessive influence on an empty and idle mind.  In addition, it is highly likely that the more educated a young mind develops, the less interest that mind will take in idiotic and destructive mass produced so-called entertainment.  Any child left unsupervised in their so-called free time, left unguided by irresponsible parents, and consistently plugged into mass technological devices (produced by owners of mass capital) and constantly force fed mass-produced program waves subconsciously promoting distraction, destruction, and apathy are clearly at a disadvantage in intellectual development and preparation for future, and in my opinion, at risk of a negative social outcome, or an outcome quite below their natural potential.

Involvement:

Involvement is in direct correlation to minimizing subjection to mass programming and minimizing negative social influences.  In our particular case, we have encouraged and engaged our oldest in multiple social interactions such as year round team sports, academic-social clubs such as Student Council, Diversity and Math, and we continue to search out opportunities for her to expand herself as a person, to engage in social relations with her peers on various stages, and to explore various interests that otherwise would remain unknown to her if never experienced.  I have heard parents make statements such as ‘Timmy doesn’t want to play baseball’.  In my opinion, Timmy doesn’t have to play baseball, but he must be involved in some sort of activities (athletically, academically, or socially).  As harsh at it may sound, abandoning a child to their own devices is not smart parenting and does no justice to the child.

Long-term team work:

When I speak of long-term team work, I mean that the development of a child is a family goal and requires the active participation of all members (whether small family or large).  It is a long-term planning goal that consists of many short-term objectives.  A successful planning process requires participation, communication, and involvement of all members of the plan (family).  Therefore, it is important to engage, as a family, into the areas of development for the youth.  If I assign my daughter a book for reading outside of the public system, I am also reading the same book.  In the process she enhances her mind, and I further enhance my mind, and together we strengthen the family bond through shared interests.  If my daughter is striving to improve at sport, I am either contributing to the team she is playing on in some manner or working with her to enhance her individual skills for the benefit of the collective team and her confidence.  It is vital, in my view that the village works together toward the short-term goals (education, athletics, and school involvement, or whatever the goal may be) and toward the long-term goal (self-sufficient, disciplined, critical thinking, educated and moral adult and positive contributor to society).  Working as a family is beneficial to the youth, beneficial to the family as a group unit, and strengthens bonds and understanding for the future.  A parent who refuses to sacrifice their own idleness (television watching, game playing, social butterflying, etc.) in order to assist and guide the daily educational process of their child is doing an injustice to that child.  I have said many times that it is a faulty assumption that a child will enter the public school system prior to first grade and eventually emerge as a moral, intelligent, disciplined adult after graduation without family effort and involvement.  Youth development does not work in such a mechanical manner.

Youth supervision:

This is probably one of the most important areas for consideration.  At some point during the 1980s, parents began to allow children a type of freedom and release from responsibilities, and this society misnomer has grown to be widely accepted as a social norm today.  I am uncertain what the original causes of this trend were, but some possible contributing areas that come to mind are: increasing single parent homes, the expansion of mass produced technology in the form of entertainment, and the reverberation of emergence from a politically and racially charged decade such as the 1970s where themes such as free love and drug use were promoted, and women’s rights, and racial equality were at the forefront of often violent protests.  Some rightists even blame the removal of religion from schools, even though I am not a fan of religious indoctrination and will refute this argument when it is presented.  At any rate, a general evolution in norms seems to have occurred over a three decade period that has resulted in our children being allowed to dictate situations that parents should dictate, choose to participate or not participate, and to be allowed to decide how they choose to invest (or spend) excessive free time.  In some areas of modern parenting, the parent-child roles have become quite skewed and confused.  These norms even seem to develop, especially around the age of pre-teenager to teenager timeframe, to levels of allowing youth the dangerous luxury of unrestricted, and unsupervised, social movement on the internet and through physical society itself.  I view this as leaving a child vulnerable and an act of blatant neglect guised as western liberty.  Many people will argue that the world has always be full of threats, immoral and economic crimes, and various social dangers, and that only now, with the expansion of news media technology, that these levels have become common knowledge to the masses.  As one that watches the daily news wires in a majority of our American cities, I would not argue this point, but at the same time I hold the view that the moral issues and crime trends have vastly increased over the past three decades.  At any rate, I would not turn my children loose into a society filled with such immoral savagery, regardless of the percentage of victim incidents per population capita.  Why take chances, no matter odds, on leaving a child vulnerable to victimization that could ultimately change a life path?  There seems to be a double standard on the treatment of teenagers.  In some areas, they are adamantly treated as children.  In other areas, such as in dress codes and behavior, they allowed adult privileges.

Youth supervision also, and importantly so, is mandatory for educational and academic tracking and development.  When we were growing up and technology was still growing out of infancy, parents had no real connection with teachers or schools outside of parent-teaching conferences or a phone call.  Today, there should be no excuses for not tracking a child’s educational achievements within the school system.  I am almost certain that the majority of schools today have the on-line grade trackers, which is an incredibly positive technological tool for parents.  These technological trackers basically show you pending and past assignments, due dates, and grades which allow the parent to encourage, remind, and, if necessary, take proactive disciplinary action instead of reactive inaction after a below average quarter passes resulting in terrible grades.  When these positive avenues of involvement and grade tracking are so easily available to the parent, it is no longer possible to blame the school system or the teacher for the poor grades of a child (even though parents often do so).  This is denial of parental responsibility and can often result in allowing a child to defer responsibility by pitting parent against teacher.  The blame falls on the parent, and is often the result of a structural condition where the child runs the roost and the parent has lost control as leader, provider, and protector of the youth.

“Are you a pimp, a hustler?  No I'm not.  Are you a man and can you stand alone like a man has to sometimes?  Yes I can.  Are you willing to go out there and save the lives of our children even if it means losing your own life?  Yes I am.” – Jeru the Damaja