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2017 CHRISTMAS FOR THE DISINHERITED – Story 1

This is the time of the year when we hear of giving, listening to happy and/or inspirational Christmas songs and music, attending Christmas performances, watching Christmas movies, and when many spend a LOT of money on themselves, as well as a little on others. This is the time of the year when there are many “Drive-By” sharing of food and Christmas gifts with those who are less fortunate.

Drive-by sharing is when churches and others think about those who are disadvantaged and want to do something special, and many will drive-by again annually and do more for those hurting economically by lack of employment, underemployment, illness, racism, or by apathy. I heard of this term from some of the church groups and ministries who decided that helping during Christmas was okay, but many people hurt the other days of the year and need help year around in order for them to hurt less. Thus, the rise of what is called “relational ministries,” developed by Dr. John Perkins of Christian Community Development Association, InterVarsity, World Impact, Youth for Christ, Young Life, many Grace-named churches, and some other churches and organizations where their members become intimately connected with those they are helping. Some even move into the neighborhoods needing full-time help until they and/or the neighborhood can become self-sustaining. However, those in perpetual disenfranchisement and disinherited from the American Dream still stay in a black hole of poverty and despair if they are not adopted by outsiders; shown how to develop self-sustaining enterprises to stay where they are; and/or obtain education and/or training to equip them to move to better neighborhoods. And, for them, Christmas time is often painful, especially if they are not the chosen ones to receive adoption by a church, ministry, business group, or community organization.

Based on my personal observations and involvement for over 60 years in working with those hurting in our society, I have found some stories that need to be shared, as well as some observations those hurting have told me. I will share just one story to help others understand the plight of the underclass citizens who are so tremendously challenged that generations before them were so challenged that generations after them will also be similarly challenged—unless the 80% of those doing well make deliberate attempts to stop the cycle of poverty, punishment, pity, and poor choices that the other 20% of our country get released from this black hole of feeling disenfranchised. The good news is that the government will even give tax breaks to the 80% for doing good for others, unless taxpayers are happy to give that extra money to the government!

The stores I will share are true stories—the names are changed to protect their privacy: Mary has always been a hard-worker…her mother and father were hard-workers. However, her father had a fatal heart-attack after working on the same job for over 30 years. He and his wife never finished elementary schools because their parents needed them to help them as agricultural workers. Mary’s father eventually learned how to improve his writing and reading, learned enough on his own to make good friends. One of those friends took over his own father’s manufacturing plant and was in need of a janitor. Although a low-paying job for Mary’s father, there were benefits for Mary’s father and the family of seven. After some years, the manufacturing plant had decided to move overseas and since Mary’s father had not furthered his education to learn some of the automation equipment, he was released and given his pension that would last him until he died.

The job for Mary’s father made him feel important. They had purchased the house that they had been rented for years and had made significant improvements as the family grew. Mary’s father was one of the few men in their neighborhood who rose early in the morning, went to work, came home, paid the bills, was involved in church and community events, and stayed away from the lure of other women and drugs prevalent in such communities. After drawing his pension for one month, Mary’s father died, leaving just enough insurance for a nice funeral. However, there was no money to keep up the truck payments, the car for his wife, their furniture loans, the credit card debts, or for the loans for remodeling their house. Mary had wanted to go to college, but had a learning challenge so was happy cleaning homes with her mother.

The sudden death of Mary’s dad soon left the family in dire circumstances. Every year, a church group helped some, but it was not enough to keep everything the father had acquired. Three of Mary’s brothers saw no value in becoming a janitor or doing manual work and had chosen a life of crime, all winding up in prison. Mary’s sisters all had children, but for one reason or another, found themselves without a permanent man in the home, struggling just to make ends meet for them. Most of their children did not do well in school, felt stressed from being in poverty, but played games daily, hoping that would take them through school in order to get a scholarship to college, or to play professionally.

Mary wanted to do more since her mother’s health had been declining. The truck and car were repossessed. Mary’s older car kept stopping until it finally died, needing thousands in repairs, including a new engine. Mary had discovered that she was pretty good in art and had been given an opportunity to get training as a graphic artist while cleaning houses. However, she lived in an area where there was not public transportation and had difficulty getting to classes and then to her cleaning assignments. When she was injured in a hit-and-run, she was now suffering from her injuries, as well as from the family history of weight gain and diabetes. While recuperating at home, Mary’s mom had four heart attacks and died three times. Mary did her best for her mom and tried to catch rides to her training, but now cleaning houses was out of the question. Unable to find anyone to help repair the car with a new engine, a “friendly” car dealer put Mary and her mom in a new car. With the insurance, they only had to pay out a little over $600 a month. Although the payments took half of her mother’s Social Security, Mary and her mother had some pride again. With a new car in the driveway, neighbors smiled and waved again. When they were in this new car, others smiled at them as they went to the store, hospital and doctor’s visitors, and Mary could get to class. All those waving and smiling people did not know that Mary and her mother had almost cut out eating, and cut back on keeping the house in good repair.

A member of a near-by church would call on Mary and her mother almost weekly to check on them. This member discovered their lack—no phone, inability to stay current on utility bills, and little food to eat. Although the church helped some and was able to get others to help some, there were no resources to ensure that the two of them could be able to eat well-balanced meals daily. Since the television filled much of their free time, Mary and her mother watched other hurting families from Hurricane Harvey get help to get their homes rebuilt; got help to get reliable transportation (without payments of $600 monthly for the next 72 months!); get new furniture for Christmas; and get all kinds of food and gifts from churches, community leaders, businesses, and even some politicians. Mary and her mother was happy for them, and tried to console themselves with their crackers and jello—their dinner for the evening. Their curtains are kept drawn 24/7; they don’t feel safe leaving their home in the evening, with drug dealers next door; they don’t know quite how to ask for help because they have a house and a car. There is no Christmas tree; no presents; but Mary and her mom are thankful for the canned goods that a “drive-by” group donate monthly…they are on a waiting list for food from the local food bank. They just wished they had some fresh vegetables, some fruit, and some meat every now and then.

The television shows and news stories continues to show the prosperity of others, and how many are getting back on their feet after fires have consumed their homes, or floods have forced them to move into another home—full of new and donated items. They see and hear how others had help from their insurance, their savings, from family members, and from many others. Mary and her mother smile outside, watching the good fortune of others, and the wonderful Christmas movies, but on the inside, they are dying because every day they struggle to survive. However, having a nice-sized color tv set and a new car outside that they hope they can keep gives them some comfort as they look forward to going to a cold bed on a relatively empty stomach. Mary walks slow and her mother pushes herself along in her wheelchair.

This is just one of the many stories that I have become acquainted with, wondering how do we get the other 80% who may be enjoying their color television (paid for!), their car(s) (paying smaller payments and far less interest!), their jobs, their savings, and their ability to access resources to find ways to help the other 20% that need help to make better choices, enjoy life a little more, and not continue to suffer in the black hole of feeling disenfranchised, hoping that perhaps their family will be adopted by others who will show them how better to enjoy their part of the American Dream.

NEXT TIME: Go to the back door; the front porch is dangerous!

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Poverty is More than a Mind Thing!

While doing research on building my business recently, I came across something that may help the masses of people, especially those of the African American experience who have been dumbed down, discouraged, depressed, despondent, and disappointed in trying to fulfill their potential. This is a short phrase from a business family, but mighty powerful:

“If you want to go fast, go alone… if you want to go far, go together” (Joel & Julie Landi of The Performance Group)

I was raised by a very determined woman. She had a husband, but sometimes things just don’t work out, and a woman has to do what a woman has to do.

Not many people around gave me much of a chance. I was smaller than many boys around me; had a speech impediment (stuttered and stammered); was made fun of; developed a very low self-esteem (whatever that is!); and began growing into a very angry young man on the inside while I tried to smile on the outside.  There is quite a story behind why I smile so often now, and have dedicated my life to help others.

By the time I was 11, my mother had become one of those very dedicated Christians. She was the daughter of a church planter and minister, but negative circumstances had affected her desire to be really serious about becoming a committed Christian. Coupled with her own personal powerhouse of determination to succeed, she constantly brought sunshine into what I thought was a strong poverty life. One day, she grew weary of my negative and “Woe is me!” attitude.  I had made the word “can’t” my daily diet.  I used to smile as a baby and young child, but over time, hurts from family members, school acquaintances, and being laughed at by others had crushed me—my smile left and I was a depressed sight.  I had said “I can’t” once too often that day.  My mom glared at me with those sharp black eyes surrounded by her long black hair sat atop a very diminutive body.  “That’s it!” she cried.  I had heard her sharp tongue much of my life, but this was different.  It was as if God himself was thundering at me.

“The word ‘can’t’ will no longer be used in this house!” she continued.  “You CAN read better!  You CAN speak better.  You CAN do better!” she thundered.  “I don’t ever want you to use the word ‘can’t again.  Do you hear me!”  Her thundering voice was so strong I was sure the entire neighborhood heard from our basement living conditions.  “Beginning today, you WILL smile!  Beginning today, you WILL believe in yourself!  Beginning today, you WILL read to me out loud and speak better!”

My mom spoke with such force, I was convinced that she and God must have become very connected!  My eyes opened wide; fear gripped my soul.  However, that day was a turning point in my life of thinking we would always be in poverty.  Of course, my mom NEVER considered us poor, even when we had to share an outhouse with the local pimps, prostitutes, drunks and others in a place where we used to live. She often worked two jobs, and even found time to take me to work in the agricultural fields wherever we lived.  We were seldom broke.  She would wash twice or more times a week to keep my few clothes cleaned and pressed.  And, we seldom missed a meal.  But, I would look at others and what they had, and often despised what my mom worked hard to provide for the two of us.

That very day of the thundering, my mom began me reading out loud to her.  Every morning she would check to see if I was smiling.  If not, I had to quickly put on a smile!  I went to church with her, became active in local and church youth programs, and slowly began to grow beyond my mind of poverty-thinking.

My speaking gradually improved.  I began to dream again.  Against odds, I finished college with several degrees, and was blessed to have had a wife who has stayed with me since 1965.  We have five grown children successful in their own right, 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.  I am NOT rich—yet, but I have had the experience of working and learning from over 19 different industries!  This experience has helped me to become a consultant to politicians, ministers, business people, and to community organizations, helping others to dream, and find their niche in life.  Now, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face and looking forward to helping someone else, or making a positive difference in some organization or community.

This entire journey of mine could not have been as successful as it has been if I would have had to walk my journey alone.  Preachers, pastors, teachers, street people, business people, family members, and associates have helped me come this far in life—by being willing to go on the journey together—with others.

 

THE SHADOWS IN OUR GOVERNMENT

If you want to get a glimpse of how our lives are being controlled and watched, and how some people have their lives manipulated and then murdered when the controllers are no longer afraid of being discovered, you have got to watch “Eagle Eye,” and “Enemy of the State.”

I know of a young man who just wanted to help people and help America.  Unfortunately, he began to discover the dirty secrets of some of the bureaucrats, and thought he could uncover them and clean up some of the messes they were heaping on people they controlled.  He was wrong.

When he found out how some of those in the teacher’s unions and in the high echelons of public education were using their power for their own benefit, he became frustrated and thought he could clean up their messes, and possibly get them to do right, or at least get them out of education, he was wrong.

He found out some information on how many students and their parents in public education were being manipulating by those people who were supposed to be helping the education system, but instead were just using their positions to line their own pockets.  When a group of educators were going to do something very underhanded and pull the eyes over the public in a so-called public meeting, this young man and some of his friends passed the word.  Many of those who became aware chained and locked themselves to the front door of the place where a certain school board was going to take some actions to benefit themselves, but jeopardize the education of students for many years in the future.  They informed parents of the private agenda that would be covered up in a public meeting with words and a plan that the public would not understand.  Once the media got ahold of that information and heard about parents and others chaining and locking themselves to the front door of this meeting place, the private agenda was discovered and the perpetrators of damage to the education of children was discovered.  Thankfully, the young man was not there, but some of the educators figured out he may have been one of the leaders who set off the alarm to wake up the parents and the public.

Later, this young man discovered how the poor were being mistreated in a county hospital.  Poor people were allowed to die while waiting to get medical assistance.  Some patients passed out on the floor while the medical staff just walked around them.  The blood-stained walls and dirty floors did not help with the healing of the wounded.  The hospital board was lax with supervision of the staff while poor people waited far too long to get help.  Some of the medical staff wanted to do something, but they also wanted to keep their jobs.  This young man’s friends were able to convince some of the staff to get statistics on patient care and length of time waiting long before other investigators uncovered the horrors of what was also happening in some of the veteran hospitals.

Thankfully, some of the medical staff had a conscience and higher morality than did some of their supervisors drawing huge salaries.  Pictures were secretly taken.  Information on patients were copied and given to undercover community people wanting improvements in their county hospitals.  Soon, the media had pictures and other evidence on the mistreatment and mismanagement of the county hospitals.  Questions were asked.  Some management staff were fired.  The hospital board was embarrassed.  But, care for the poor was greatly improved.  The wait time was shortened.  The floors were clean.  The ugly pale green walls were painted with lively, pastel colors.  Now, the poor people didn’t fear coming to the county hospital to get care and didn’t have to worry about getting sicker, or dying.

No one knew about the young man and he grew bolder in trying to solve other problems in his community.  He networked with others who wanted to see improvement in education, in health care, in community policing, and in other public services.  But soon, somehow the young man’s identity became known to people in the community whose pocketbooks were being negatively affected by the improvements in the community.  Many ethnic groups began to stop fighting each other over the crumbs thrown at them by the governmental officials and the bureaucrats.  They began to unite against a common enemy and discovered as long as they fought among themselves, many of the rich grew richer at the benefit of cutting back on needed services by the poor and the middle class.  However, the young man began to be seen in too many places where improvements in the community were taking place.  Somebody told some powerful people, and the young man became a target!

This young man’s friends were able to convince some of the staff to get statistics on patient care and length of time waiting long before other investigators uncovered the horrors of what was also happening in some of the veteran hospitals.  Thankfully, some of the medical staff had a conscience and higher morality than did some of their supervisors drawing huge salaries.  Pictures were secretly taken.  Information on patients were copied and given to undercover community people wanting improvements in their county hospitals.

Soon, the media had pictures and other evidence on the mistreatment and mismanagement of the county hospitals.  Questions were asked.  Some management staff were fired.  The hospital board was embarrassed.  But, care for the poor was greatly improved.  The wait time was shortened.  The floors were clean.  The ugly pale green walls were painted with lively, pastel colors.  Now, the poor people didn’t fear coming to the county hospital to get care and didn’t have to worry about getting sicker, or dying.

No one knew about the young man and he grew bolder in trying to solve other problems in his community.  He networked with others who wanted to see improvement in education, in health care, in community policing, and in other public services.  But soon, somehow the young man’s identity became known to people in the community whose pocketbooks were being negatively affected by the improvements in the community.  Many ethnic groups began to stop fighting each other over the crumbs thrown at them by the governmental officials and the bureaucrats.  They began to unite against a common enemy and discovered as long as they fought among themselves, many of the rich grew richer at the benefit of cutting back on needed services by the poor and the middle class.  However, the young man began to be seen in too many places where improvements in the community were taking place.  Somebody told some powerful people, and the young man became a target!

Soon, the media had pictures and other evidence on the mistreatment and mismanagement of the county hospitals.  Questions were asked.  Some management staff were fired.  The hospital board was embarrassed.  But, care for the poor was greatly improved.  The wait time was shortened.  The floors were clean.  The ugly pale green walls were painted with lively, pastel colors.  Now, the poor people didn’t fear coming to the county hospital to get care and didn’t have to worry about getting sicker, or dying.

No one knew about the young man and he grew bolder in trying to solve other problems in his community.  He networked with others who wanted to see improvement in education, in health care, in community policing, and in other public services.  But soon, somehow the young man’s identity became known to people in the community whose pocketbooks were being negatively affected by the improvements in the community.  Many ethnic groups began to stop fighting each other over the crumbs thrown at them by the governmental officials and the bureaucrats.  They began to unite against a common enemy and discovered as long as they fought among themselves, many of the rich grew richer at the benefit of cutting back on needed services by the poor and the middle class.  However, the young man began to be seen in too many places where improvements in the community were taking place.  Somebody told some powerful people, and the young man became a target!

Thankfully, one of the respected community leaders who was somewhat respected (and maybe even used) by the powerful in the shadows of government wanted to help the young man.  They warned this leader that he better put better controls on the young man before he became wifeless and childless.  The community leader sent for the young man and told him to get out of town quickly in order to save the lives of his family.  Thankfully, the young man left, went under cover and traveled over 2,000 miles away to a new state where he tried to be quiet.  But, he began to see the same pattern in this new state and grew angry.

The young man began to quietly help the hurting and the unfortunate.  But, his good deeds caused some to speculate and pass the word that he was just using disadvantaged people so he could win their confidence and possibly run for mayor.  When one of the community leaders shoved this bit of information on the young man, he was shocked!  He just wanted to help.  But, the gossip had been spread around the community.  They were told the young man had a private agenda and needed the help of the masses within the community to think he really cared about them, but to not trust him.

The young man began to tone down his enthusiasm for helping the poor and the middle class.  He came under the watchful eye of the so-called power brokers of the city.  They wondered if he could be turned to be a good guy that they could use, but he soon uncovered some of their dirty linen of using beautiful welfare women as their personal “call girls.”  He didn’t go looking for this; it fell into his lap, or rather was shared by phone with one of the “call girls” who just wanted out and thought that maybe, he could be the one to help.  But, those who controlled her became mean.

When the young man heard the story of this young woman, he was shocked, mad, and angry.  Since he had some “street smarts,” he knew of one tactic to get rid of the politicians, judges, police, and bureaucrats involved in this network of using welfare women for their own private pleasure.  When he heard the story of the young lady, he told some other trusted others.  They, too, were incensed.  One elderly woman had a feeling such was going on, but she also knew that it would not be wise to put a stick in a den of rattlesnakes!  She warned the young man; he didn’t listen.  He began talking to others and gathering information.  The young woman told him that whenever someone tried to blow the whistle on this network of using welfare women for pleasure, they came up missing, or had their children taken away from them—forever.  The young man made plans to take some women and meet the young woman with the information.

This event would turn tragic for the young woman and for the young man.  The young man called the young woman on the phone one next day after she had given him some crucial information.  The phone was turned off.  When some of the friends of the young man went to the address of the young woman, her apartment was cleaned out.  No one knew of her whereabouts.  She had just disappeared—along with her children.  They were never found, at least not by the young man or any of his friends.  However, the young man thought that he had enough evidence to take on the fight alone—he would be seriously mistaken.

Before the young man could complete his investigation against a judge and a top welfare bureaucrat, a charge was brought against the child care center he had developed and was being run by his mother and wonderful church friends.  This child care center had done so well that state politicians had visited and commented that this child care center was the second-best child care center in the entire state.  It started when a relative of the young man’s mother grew weary of watching the children of the young man’s sister.  The young man’s mother had talked the relative into watching the children while they attended a church convention in another state.

The young man’s mother promised to pay the relative whatever other money was needed beyond what the children’s mother had left.  The young man’s mother had no idea that this relative would get so angry at not hearing from the mother, whom she hated, that she called—yep!  She called the child welfare people.  She called the very people that the young man was investigating for using welfare women as their special “call girls” for themselves and their other political and bureaucratic friends from out-of-town.  This would lead to some serious consequences for the young man, and for his mother.  As soon as the child welfare children picked up the children from this relative and connected them to the drug-using mother, and connected her to the mother of the young man, they jumped for joy and began a very vicious smear campaign.

The charge began to circulate into the community before the young man knew what was happening.  When he found out, he was incensed that some of his close friends would even believe such a horrible thing.  The gossip was that members of his family, especially his mother, had been molesting the children.  While the young man worked to prove that they had so many checks and balances that no child was ever alone with an adult without another adults or college volunteer present.  Little by little, parents began withdrawing their children.  The income of the child care center dropped off severely.  Then the state removed the child care license while they did their investigation.  Every parent then pulled their children out while the young man pleaded that the rumors were false because he was trying to go after some key people doing misdeeds in the city. He was not believed.  His family hired an attorney.

At first the attorney thought these people were just goody-two-shoe people.  He had heard of their good deeds done by their church, and about this certain young man involved with the church and with the child care center.  He took their thousands of dollars for a retainer, but didn’t really think that he would help them much.  Until he investigated them and their good works in the community with children, with youth, with families, with the poor, and with senior citizens.  He could not believe that this kind of people even existed—helping others without a private agenda.  They didn’t even try to get those they helped into their church!  Sometimes, the young man was even recommending another church that he thought could better serve someone when they became interested in developing their faith.  Being good just for the sake of being good?  The attorney became interested in their case—until he discovered who might be involved.

The attorney called the young man and his parents in, and told them to drop the case.  The young man was angry.  Those thousands of dollars were hard to come by.  But, the attorney told them why they would lose if he persisted in getting to the bottom of the rumor.  Some of those connected with child welfare and possibly involved in the “call girl” operation were very high up.  The best the attorney could do would be to have the young man look like he was working with the authorities for a show to the community—he would have to fire the director of the child care center.  The director was his mother!

The young man’s mother had already sensed what was going to happen.  When the investigators could not prove child molestation among the child care children, they found something within the young man’s family.  His sister and brother had both had run-ins with the law.  And, the sister was involved with a husband who had a shady background.  Sometimes, the young man’s mother babysat for this sister who also had a drug problem.  The authorities got to the grandchildren and showed them pictures and gestures using dolls, asking if the grandmother ever touched them here, here, and there.  They asked if she ever hugged them tight, or put them in her lap.  The little children didn’t understand the questions, but said what the authorities wanted to hear.  They were behind the state taking the child care license of the child care center run by the mother of the young man.  They could smell blood in the air.  The attorney also smelled them!

The attorney told the young man that he could get the state license back and that their friends and parents would return.  Even some members of the church had left the church for fear of losing their jobs and their prestige in the community.  The young man didn’t have a Plan B.  He was desperate.  The university where he had worked had just laid him off the same day that the state shut down the child care center.  This happened while he was on vacation!

The attorney arranged a meeting with the state authorities and the young man.  Their plan would be to give the license back while there was an investigation, but the young man had to concede something.  With a Plan B and no income from his job, the young man was desperate.  The state officials would return the license on one condition—he would have to fire his mother!  The mother had warned the young man that the state would do that, but the young man was desperate.  He told his mother of the plan, and assured her that if she would agree to being fired, and after the children and parents returned, he would get with the attorney and sue the state and the local officials for a false rumor.

The mother almost begged the young man not to do such, but he was broke and desperate.  He made a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his life.  He called a board meeting, explained the situation and openly fired his mother.  He didn’t know it, but she almost died.  How could my own flesh and blood do this?  She thought.  She remembered the story of Jesus and Judas.  It seemed that her own son, the one who had spent years fighting for justice for the disadvantaged had become Judas.  She quietly went to where she stayed, thinking that her heart would stop.  She cried.  She sobbed.  She prayed.  But, she still felt betrayed.

The young man felt bad, but the license came back to the child care center.  The young man was overjoyed!  He called the parents, but none wanted to return.  He called those who had left the church, but they weren’t interested in returning.  He then went to his attorney and almost bawled like a baby.  He had never felt so low in his life.  But, he thought if the authorities arrested his mother, he and the attorney would get her out quickly because she had a history of a bad heart.  Then he would sue the pants off all those involved.  The attorney was not interested.  He said something to the affect that “If those who left you and are your REAL friends, they will believe you, return, and support you!”  However, no one returned.

Later, the young man apologized to his mother but the damage had been done.  The gossip went out that she must have been guilt of molesting children because her own son fired her!  This was not the script the young man had in mind.  The attorney was through with the case, especially after he discovered that some of his friends who put him through law school were involved and in the crosshairs of this young man.  He didn’t like what his friends were doing, but they had helped him to have a very successful career.  The young man left his office…his head was bent over; his shoulders were drooped; he walked very slowly.  He wondered if this was the way Judas felt after he betrayed Jesus.  But, he remembered that Peter had also somewhat betrayed Jesus by lying that he didn’t know him, but Peter repented to Jesus and had a good ending.  However, the young man was NOT Peter the Apostle, and his mother was very human—she was NOT Jesus.

While thinking of a Plan B (and trying to mend the fence between his mother), the attorney called him and his parents into his office.  He looked shaken.  His face was pale under his brown skin.  His eyes were sunken.  Something was definitely wrong.  He told the young man’s parents to get him out of town quickly.  When they asked why, the attorney said, “Your son is going to be killed!”  Now the young man sat up.  He spoke out.  “Great! He said.  “If I am killed, the FBI will be involved and they will help find out how to clear our name, and help take down the judge and the others involved!”  The attorney turned to him and said, “YOU don’t understand.  They will have you killed in a drive-by shooting and the authorities won’t take time to investigate anything.  You have to get out of town with your family!”

Before the young man could say another word, his mother told him to shut up.  She was still somewhat angry at him because he didn’t see the larger picture.  He had played into the hands of his enemies.  To avoid more pain to her heart, she told the attorney that the family and friends that were left would get the money and her son out of town.  He had been offered another opportunity in another state, but had been reluctant to leave due to the mess he had created by his involvement in trying to take down a judge and some very high-ranking officials.  The son dropped his head.  He felt like a dog with his tail between his legs.  He felt like he was running away from the troubles while his mother would have to take the heat of the gossip.

The young man did get away safely.  A bomb was placed at the site of the church and the child care center, but it didn’t go off.  The FBI did get involved then, but claimed that they wanted to talk to a material witness to the case, but told the media that they didn’t know where this young man had gone.  Really?  The FBI could not find the young man who left a fairly good trail by renting a moving trailer and telling the rental place where he was going?  Really?  Case dropped for lack of evidence.

The young man and his family moved away and they are alive today.  His children are grown and his wife has stayed with him.  However, he could not keep his mouth shut and got fairly run out of the town where he moved to when he ran for the school board and began to uncover some dirt around his opponent who controlled the high school where his daughter went to school.

Some people just don’t believe in stopping when they are told: “You can’t fight city hall!”  He is proof that you can fight those in high places, but it is best to have a united army of fighters who will fight with you, unafraid of consequences.  And, there will always be consequences against whistle-blowers and those who try to uncover the dirt of those hiding in the shadows of our government, using their power to profit themselves while the poor, the middle class, and those seemingly without power suffer from their actions.

But, wait!  Donald Trump has had a whole lot of dirt on him, but he just shook it off.  When he ran for the presidency of the United States, many laughed at him, thinking that no one can rise above the crowd when they are proven to be somewhat less than honest and/or pure.  But, guess who is laughing now?  Plus, those in high places with a whole lot more dirt on them are beginning to run scared.  Donald Trump is now the President of the United States, and doesn’t seem to be afraid of saying whatever he wants to say, without fear of those powerful people with dirt all over them hiding in the shadows of the government.  Who knows?  The little people who are poor, middle class, and/or disadvantaged may become an army and speak out against the wrongs of the rich and powerful, and work with President Trump and those they don’t like if those they don’t like are trying to do something good—like put the light on those hiding in the shadows of the government!

The Immigration Mess President Trump Has Stirred Up!

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Okay—I am weighing in the immigration challenge America is now facing from President Trump. Whenever I hear or read that “Immigrants built America,” or “Love Trumps Hate,” or such things to show that President Trump is mean-spirited or hate immigrants because he is trying to slow down immigration to America, I understand many of those protesting don’t understand history.  The dream of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island welcoming ALL immigrants is now passé due to the age of aggressive terrorism.  America has had “sleeper spies,” and others using the weak immigration laws to come and live in America and gradually undermine the real freedoms for those who want the best for America, and willing to do the hard work to make America better.  Those who REALLY know history understand that America is NOT Heaven!  Thus, our Founding Fathers has given us lofty ideals that only work for those willing to do the hard work of bringing such ideals into reality without constantly complaining about our weak humanity and/or the faults that past and present American leaders have that are clearly seen because they and their policies are so much in the eye of critical others doing very little to make life better for all, especially for the suffering native-born Americans.

 

American jobs for native-born Americans have been in trouble ever since the 1940s, when little by little, gains for African Americans have been eroded whenever laws were made to help them were gradually covered up by new laws and court rulings that water down the opportunities for African Americans.  For example, take the history of Civil Rights.  Initially, those laws were made to strike down the evil and negative laws made to keep African Americans “in their place.”  When you look at the numbers of immigrants who have come to American shores and have found success, often based on Civil Rights’ laws, you see the numbers of the masses of working African Americans declining.  In fact, some of the first drafts of the 1960 Civil Rights laws had Negroes crossed out, and “minority” added.  Dr. King and others were “encouraged” to make changes that would help ALL people, including poor white people, and NOT just for African Americans, aka “Negroes.”

 

After the terrible earthquake in Oakland, California some years ago, people, including unemployed and underemployed African American men risked their lives to rescue people. Some of those were promised employment; many companies got involved and promised to hire “minorities,” but when I checked, almost of those “minorities” were newer immigrants, and NOT one African American was hired.  However, if you looked at skin color, you could assume that those with darker skin WERE African American.  But when I got some of them to talk to me, I discovered they WERE NOT African Americans (descendants from African and African American slaves created in America to make America great!).  When I asked one of the supervisors why they had not hired African Americans, he told me that he didn’t have to do  because he HAD HIRED “minorities”!

 

When an acquaintance told me that African Americans were fighting a losing battle in trying to get the government to make things right for them by making employers hire African Americans, I was taken aback.  Then he showed me his federal records of how many “minorities” were hired every quarter.  When I saw a lot of Hispanic names and nodded by head, he said, “Do you think those Hispanics are REAL Hispanics?”  I nodded my head and he laughed!  He then explained that most of those were really Anglo Americans who either was married to an Hispanic, or somewhere in their history they may have had an Hispanic great-grandfather, but that they were really more Anglo American than Hispanic with blonde hair and blue eyes, but used their connection to Hispanics which helped him and others from having to hire African Americans!  Another employer told me that for almost every law passed by Congress to help African Americans, Anglo Americans could bring law suits and/or write new laws to either excuse them from having to hire African Americans, or find ways to not be forced to hire African Americans! This was proven when the government tried to force contractors to give more contracts to African Americans.  However, many Anglo American businesses suddenly sprung up and often wound up with more contracts which kept dollars within the Anglo American communities.  When African American men complained, they were told that women were ALSO minorities based on recent changes in laws that had been written to help African Americans.  Some women companies were actually companies owned by their husbands who become a minor partner and put their wives in as presidents and CEOs.  Others trained women and gave them resources so that they could “legally” outbid African American companies run by African American men!

 

From the 1960s to the present, many of us see the constant immigration of millions of immigrants as just another racist ploy to make sure that the masses of African Americans, especially men, NEVER get the opportunity to hope to achieve their part of the American Dream.  When one compares the millions of immigrants allowed in America to the millions of lost jobs for African Americans to the increase of crime by African American men to the rise of unwed African American girls and women, there is quite a correlation.  Some African Americans discuss such problems around others who look like them, but are often silent about their thoughts on immigration unless they are in the Democratic Party.  As more immigrants, legal and illegal, come to America, the numbers of registered voters rise in the Democratic Party.  And, such immigrants don’t even have to prove that they have the right to vote!  For those “successful” African Americans, they tend to be very quiet when others are discussing the immigration issues for fear that what they really think may be used to hinder their progress, so they “go along to get along.”

 

Millions of African Americans are quietly smoldering under the burden of subtle racism, high unemployment, inability to move up to better-paying jobs, constantly being overlooked for better because they have not profited from open doors have been closed for eons that are now open. Millions of African Americans are fighting the shadows of racism while the descendants of those who has caused our lingering sin of racism don’t have a clue as to why the masses of African Americans can’t be successful like the “wonderful immigrants who come here with nothing, but through hard work achieve the American Dream without crying about low wages or facing some sort of discrimination!”  Most Anglo Americans know more about the history of the Jews, or the Russians, or the Japanese, or about the French Revolution, or about almost every other ethnic group coming to America from foreign soil than they do about the African Americans who were created here and live right in their community.  Of course, if too many African Americans move into Anglo American communities, or get laws passed to get into predominately prestigious Anglo American neighborhoods and schools, Anglo Americans just move away and start a new suburb with higher real estate costs with better schools, parks, and family amenities rather than having to deal with learning how African Americans fare.  So, the smoldering of anger of millions of the masses of African Americans continues without most Anglo Americans and other ethnic groups understand that the powder keg of anger is growing.  Such growth will hurt all Americans when someone, some circumstance, some issue, or some explosive leader drops the match that will light such a powder keg—one that was built upon ignorance, inability to understand, fear, frustration, and/or greed.

 

When I see signs that say “Immigrants Built America,” I think about how such immigrants built America.  First, a lot of what was handed to immigrants to build America was stolen, plainly taken, or cheated from the owners of all of the resources in America—the Native Peoples!  Of course, some politicians, preachers, organizations, and thoughtful business people used their resources to try to make up from what the Native Peoples have lost.  These kind-hearted people endeavored to give Native People a good “white man’s education.  Or, give them better treaties to replace the over 4,000 treaties earlier immigrants broke with the Native People.  Or, some Americans helped some “reasonable” Native People have a share of money made from casinos or tobacco sales, while the masses of Native People suffered from health issues, mental challenges, poverty, despair, and a broken spirit.

 

When I see signs that say “Immigrants Built America,” I think about the billions created by African slaves and African American slaves, and low-paid African Americans who created the early wealth of early immigrants who passed on their wealth to their heirs and to later-arriving immigrants.  Or, later arriving immigrants were helped by earlier immigrants and others who sponsored them, trained them for business, and helped them create wealth by helping them open businesses where the children of later arriving immigrants could attend school, go to college, learn American economics, help their immigrant parents and grandparents run a family-owned business while at the same time, such children could create more wealth by obtaining higher-paying  jobs in engineering, technology, business, or become corporate executives and help bring to America their family immigrants who want to come to America, while native-born people continued to struggle to figure out how to survive a little better.  Millions of native-born Americans are STILL trying to figure out how to survive while millions of immigrants have gotten help to learn how to strive even more so that they could send billions of American-made dollars to their home countries, and/or pay to bring in family immigrants and their friends.

 

I shudder to think what will happen to the millions of disenfranchised native-born Americans who may never achieve a small piece of the American Piece of Pie of wealth.  At the same time, they are watching thousands of other well-to-do native-born Americans, with hundreds of immigrants march against some Americans (not just President Trump!) supporting better immigration  laws, stop immigration from certain Muslim countries, or even build a wall between America and Mexico.  Those marching share their signs and do their chants going against President Trump and others who are holding up on so many immigrants coming to America until America can figure out how to do better for the native-born Americans who watch recent (since the 1960s to date) immigrants continue to do well, clamoring, demanding, and appealing for those making newer (and stiffer) American immigration policies to go easy on immigration as they don’t plan to pay the higher taxes for the cost of supporting perhaps millions of immigrants who will be putting an added burden on our schools, on our social services, and adding to the unemployment of native-born Americans.  However, many immigrants DO pay taxes, spend some of their dollars locally, and try to be good American citizens.  Some have served, and are even now serving, in the military.  Others are serving in government and run corporations that employ millions.

 

So, what is the answer to reasonable immigration flow into America?  Become educated on just how much more America can afford to take with more immigrants coming to America while being unable even to balance the federal deficit; without being able to see that every able-bodied native-born person (legal and otherwise) have the education, training, and resources to support their families in a fashion whereby their children will believe that through hard work and perseverance that they, too, can enjoy a portion of the American Dream that millions of immigrants suffer through just to get to America and become successful.  Will President Trump’s hard stand on immigration solve all of the problems in America?  Probably not.  Will such policies help weed out sleeper spy terrorists riding on America’s weak immigration laws?  Maybe.  Will a hard line against new immigrants from certain Muslim countries for a short time get the support of enough Americans make Muslims here and abroad understand the rationale?  Just look at the negative response here and around the world.  Will a $25 million (or $25 billion!) wall built with deep sensors, wall depth, lights, cameras, surrounded by sophisticated barriers, and hundreds of new border guards severely stop the flow of illegal drugs and illegal immigrants solve all of our problems by not having such a wall work?  Only time will tell!

WE DON’T WANT TRUMP AS PRESIDENT?!?

Whenever there was a transition of power among ancient people who connected with Yahweh as shown in Second Samuel 1:12, some people were confused, upset, or downright angry and split (see I Kings 11:26-33).  America is facing that now and the American people are asking for substantial changes in government which is carrying some treacherous waters.  We have reached one of the lowest points of immorality that the Creator will have to do something as we pass on to our children, grandchildren, and others a debt of over $20 trillion dollars.  We are almost at a point of no return as politicians squabble while the country crumbles.  Is Rome (America!) slowly burning while the politicians and wealthy party?

President Trump is working to see if he can turn the nation up into a better position.  He has chosen some of the brightest (and riches!) people to help him.  Maybe he thinks he can run the country like he ran his businesses (before learning from bankruptcy!).  Many in America are saying that President Trump is NOT their President.  I don’t quite understand that—as long as they live in America and Trump is President, he IS their President whether they like him or not.  Maybe many of the disgruntled people will join others who left America when Obama was President.  If enough people leave, and take their money and other resources with them, perhaps they will be happier when America becomes the newest Third World country!

If President Trump is successful in lowering our federal deficit, improving health care for all, building a wall to cut down on illegal immigration, and developing more jobs for America’s unemployed millions, maybe those who don’t like him will reconsider their actions.  Of course, President Trump cannot make all the improvements America needs by himself—he will need the support of Congress, as well as the help from millions of American taxpayers of all political parties.

Well, it has only been a week since President Trump took office.  And, he has certainly hit the political road running.  Of course, he has had to use some Executive Orders to get some things rolling.  This sounds like something former President Obama did and was severely criticized for it for the party now in power.  Time will tell if President Trump can get cooperation from the President of Mexico to build the wall; get the President of Russia to stop killing people in Syria; bring improved relations with Israel; get our so-called Allied friends to pick up more of the U.N. bill; get more students to attend college without heavy debt; get China and many other countries out of our wallets with their cheap products while American stores pay such low wages that workers stay stressed and unable to enjoy the American Dream; and get women to forgive him for his crassness when speaking about them; and really do something to turn America’s inner cities and urban communities into an oasis for all Americans to enjoy.

Since the great civilization of Rome was not built in a day, it could take President Trump two terms to get most of his agenda completed.  Of course, then the next President can just undo about anything that he or she doesn’t like what President Trump has accomplished, and we will start from scratch all over again and make the poor American taxpayers pay for it!

 

GETTING YOUR IDEA TO MARKET AND MAKING MONEY

“Helping Others to Get More Green Using My Ideas in 2017!”

Yeah, this is my homey goal (or at least one of many!) this year.  I have been blessed to have been exposed to many industries, entrepreneurs, and have read many books and attended a bunch of workshops and seminars on making money.  Unfortunately, I have spent so much time working various jobs, reading books on making money, and attending training and speaking events that I haven’t made much money.  But, I have finally learned enough, including the “Multiple Streams of Income,” by Bob Allen.  Now, it’s time for me to teach others what I have learned so that they don’t waste the 40+ years  that I have invested in education, training, and learning about money-making.  And, I plan to make my own green (at last!) in 2017!

One thing I have learned is that some people (like me!) have great ideas, but didn’t do much, if anything, with our ideas.  An idea is just an idea that is worthless unless it is put into action to bring about change, improvement, make money, or help others make money or have a better life mentally, physically, morally, spiritually, or financially. Well, anyway, I do have a plan to do something with all of this information, knowledge, and input on at least having a home business whose expenses will allow me not to pay taxes.  Now, I have nothing against paying taxes; I just think that I have paid enough, and am willing to pay my 15% – 20% after I have made my millions!  Perhaps with Trump as President, there will be more opportunities for small businesses, and home businesses that can have a fair shot at becoming profitable entrepreneurs.  I learned some of this when I did income tax preparation for some fairly wealthy people.  When I did the income tax for a somewhat very wealthy man, he didn’t pay any income tax.  When I finished my first draft, I called him to give him a report.  When he asked me how much taxes he had to pay, I told him nothing.  I thought he would be shocked.  He asked me what was his taxable income.  When I told him, he said I was $10 off!  I had worked hard, figured, and re-checked my figures from his company income, his rentals, and other income, and was sure my figures were correct.  Then he blew me away with some information.

This client’s information floored me!  He told me that his daughter was his company’s bookkeeper and that she was married to an accountant who had already drafted his income tax return!  Then he told me he had a CPA who annually checked their work, and that he had a tax attorney.  Noting my silence, he then told me that every year the IRS audited him, and that he always hired someone each year who didn’t know anything about his operations in order to get a fairly honest tax return that he knew would be audited!

When I returned this client’s books to him and his final tax return, I was curious about how he could make SO much money, and not pay taxes.  I will never forget that conversation.  I will share a little with you, the reader:

ME:  How could you make so much money, and yet not pay any income taxes?

HIM:  I pay my taxes by paying my daughter, by paying her husband, by paying my CPA, and by paying my tax attorney.  They, in turn, spend the money in our area which helps our economy.  If I pay a lot of income taxes to the federal government, they don’t use good economic sense.  They just give away money into worthless social service programs, and help foreign governments, but don’t invest the money to really help the American economy.

ME:  But don’t you feel bad by not paying federal income taxes?

HIM: No, I spend my time doing everything legally because I know I am going to be audited EVERY year.  I keep a log of all of my travels locally and globally and track every penny earned and deducted.  I don’t do anything without thinking of a tax advantage.  Even when I need some groceries or anything, I figure out how I can go pass the store or stop, talk to someone about business, and on the way home, I make my stop.  The entire trip is tax-deductible and I keep a log of my mileage, where I went, and who spoke to.  When I want to take a vacation with my family, I don’t take a vacation; I take a business trip.  I figure out where I want us to go, check out to see when the location has business seminars, sign us up for seminars, attend at least ½ day of each day of the seminars, take the other 1/2 day enjoying ourselves, and then take people out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The entire trip (vacation) is a tax write-off.

ME:  I want to do that.

HIM:  You can’t.

ME:  Why?

HIM: America was not made for wage-earners; it was created for entrepreneurs.  You have always worked for others so you are a wage-earner.  I am an entrepreneur, and America and the tax laws were made to benefit entrepreneurs.  Only entrepreneurs can benefit from our tax laws!

At first, I was angry with him, and at those who made a lot of money and didn’t pay taxes.  Later, I realize that he was right.  As long as I worked for others, I was helping them to bring their dreams come true, and I was a tax write-off.  If I didn’t make enough to cover my wages, AND make the other person or the company I worked for a profit, they didn’t need me.  But, as long as I was making them money beyond what they paid me, they would keep me on, paying me just enough to keep me on, perhaps giving me awards, but not enough money for me to really get ahead and stay ahead.  Usually, they didn’t care about my family, my needs, or my dreams—that was my responsibility.

I am glad for that conversation with that client.  I am glad for the books read, meetings I attended, and getting experience from a lot of different jobs.  I know a lot about how much (or little!) people make from a lot of industries.  I have seen hard-working people lose their homes, lose their cars, unable to help their children get into college, and not have enough money to take care of their own health, or pay for great legal advice when needed.  If these people would have had a successful home business, and/or had some entrepreneurial training and had a great money-making business, there would have been a different ending for these families, and would have set their descendants on an entirely different financial path.

Many late-arriving immigrants seem to have learned what many native-born Americans have not learned: share housing as much as possible with others living together, save money until they can really afford to get a place of their own; work whatever job they can, including working a second job, and learning how to have their own business (often with help from other native-born business people and/or their countrymen).  Perhaps if more native-born Americans would spend fewer hours watching television and listening to music, and more time learning on a second job, AND attend meetings on how to have a home business or make extra money, they could be as successful as many legal (and illegal!) immigrants.

At the same time, many native-born Americans have great ideas as has been shown in developments in the space age, in music, in agriculture, in technology, and in so many other areas.  Others have had great ideas, but didn’t know how to protect their ideas and became discouraged; some others shared their ideas, and had them confiscated; and then there were many others who didn’t know the steps to get their idea from conception to successful marketing and gave up.  Well, at least, I can help some of them with some steps that I learned from a recent AARP Bulletin:

GETTING YOUR IDEA TO MARKET AND MAKING MONEY

  1. Believe that your idea will lead to a product that can solve a problem for many people
  2. Begin saving money for fees ($65 for a provisional patent application; $400 for most people; $800 for nonprofits and small businesses; and $1,600 for regular application; and several thousand dollars to hire a patent agent and/or patent attorney)
  3. Research on Google Patents or the United States Patent and Trademark Office website (uspto.gov) to make sure your idea has not already been developed, or is somewhat very different from a patented idea like your idea by looking at drawings of other similar inventions
  4. Do a detailed drawing of your idea
  5. Create a prototype and a marketing plan
  6. Get connected with a professional patent agent and/or a patent attorney
  7. Apply for a patent within a year of sharing your idea with others at uspto.gov, utilizing all of their resources, including the Inventors Assistance Center, as well as connecting with the United Inventors Association of America (an inventor club helping members)
  8. Get input from trusted family and friends who will not reveal anything, and if necessary, get nondisclosure agreements
  9. Be patient, as the process of steps one through seven can take at least twelve months; step eight will take another year and a half before you hear back with a provisional approval; and then another six months before receiving a final decision—if over 65, ask to be fast-tracked
  10. Shop your idea around for licensing and manufacturing partners now that you have applied for a patent
  11. Connect with other production and distribution experts
  12. Develop a product name that people will easily remember and submit application to the USPTO (plan on spending anywhere from the $35 registration trademark fee to several thousand for legal protection fees)
  13. Settle on a company to license, manufacture, and market the product, and
  14. Work to get inventors’ royalties, which may be between 7 and 10 percent.

(Adapted from “How to Patent Your Million-Dollar Idea” by Kimberly Palmer, AARP Bulletin, October, 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking About Some of America’s History

Over the years, many Reconstructionist historians, atheists, and others have bashed Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the nation’s founders, European and other early entrepreneurs to America, explorers in America, slave owners, and Christians for their part in destroying Native culture, and expanding the free enterprise system.  They remind me of women who have been abused in relationships, and blame all men for everything wrong around them!

But, just like ALL men are NOT responsible for the abuse done to women, neither can we blame those above for the abuse done to Native Peoples, African slaves, or to the environment.  Yes, some of those with the above labels have done wrong—they just happen to be human, or greedy, or even evil.  But to blame entire groups is not accurate.  Let’s take Thanksgiving for example.

Some of the early settlers in America were looking for a place where they could practice their belief in the Creator without being abused by those with power.  When they found a measure of peace and survived harsh winters after burying many others, they were thankful to be in a new land.  They didn’t come to take over land from the Native People; they heard it was a New World, and that they could start a new life without powerful people controlling their lives.  They even tried to make peace with the Native Peoples, and find agreement to live together.  Some of the Native Peoples helped them survive in a weather to which they were unaccustomed.  Some of the Native Peoples welcomed them as new neighbors as there was plenty of land.  And, some of the Native Peoples taught them how to plant food, go after game, and survive in a land new to the new arrivals, but well-known by those who had long history in the land.

The Pilgrims gave thanks to the Creator for the help from the Native Peoples.  They gave thanks for those who had survived a cruel winter.  They gave thanks for the opportunity to start a fresh, and free, life in a land with so much potential.  Whether people were religious or not, the Pilgrims were religious, and thanked the Creator for all, for food, survival, and opportunity.  They had a time to sit down with the Wampanoag Native Americans at their thanksgiving table July, 1623 for three days, thankful for life, fellowship, the rain that saved the harvest, and good food as a result of the rain.  Unfortunately, this fellowship only lasted a few years as more people came to these shores, ignoring the ways of the local citizens, and turning to their god of Greed. Some historians say that celebrations in Florida, Texas, and Virginia happened before the gathering at Plymouth and came to be known as “Forefather’s Day.”

It was one of the Founding Fathers, President George Washington, who recognized the time and set the time aside to give thanks on a national day, October 3, 1789, even though there were those who opposed his religious inference.  However, he emphasized that the holiday would be inclusive for Americans of all faiths. Then, along came President Abraham Lincoln.  His desire was to keep the Union together perhaps more than to set the African American slaves free.  And, like President George Washington, he really didn’t want to arm ex-slaves and free African Americans to fight the English, or even to fight Anglo Americans in the South.  However, he was pushed to arm these men after considering the South was arming slaves to fight those from the North, and so many African Americans wanted to fight that he was forced to put them in uniform, and then forced to concede to some of the demands of the South if he wanted to bring healing to the nation.  So, he called the Nation to prayer during a time of Thanksgiving to ease the transition of the South into forming one country again.

Another President, Franklin Roosevelt, recognized Thanksgiving, but caused a firestorm by changing the date to fourth Thursday in November to allow more shopping days for Christmas, from the fifth Thursday, to which people were accustomed.  But, Thanksgiving survived and even grew when magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, a widow and penniless, worked diligently to make Thanksgiving a national holiday for all Americans.  Later in the 1970s, Native People learned to hate Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus, and all that stood for progress over them.  Many saw the time as a time of betrayal by the descendants of the early Pilgrims, Puritans, and settlers.  Instead of working with Native Americans and respecting their laws and customs, including their burial lands, late arriving immigrants and some greedy Americans began taking more land from the Native Peoples, continuing to kill and disrespect them, cheating them, and pushing more of them onto lands that were not suitable for the sustainability of their livelihood.  Native Peoples could not see any thanks for them during the season of Thanksgiving.  While others prospered, their way of life quickly diminished, and their wealth was taken away.  However, the o92nd Street Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in New York did manage to take the Thanksgiving season as an opportunity to do some good for those who were in need.  Just how much good has been done for the Native Peoples is still up for discussion.

Nevertheless, many Americans who honor Thanksgiving have become thankful for their prosperity; thankful for an opportunity to share with others; and thankful to be able to learn how to learn from different cultures, and thankful for their contributions.  Many Americans (including myself and my children) over the years leave their Thanksgiving dinners and serve in soup kitchens, help out in food banks, or do some acts of charity.  For some, it is very difficult to become thankful, walking past homeless people on sidewalks around Macy’s or other stores, or enjoying peace by watching the football games being interrupted by news of war overseas, girls caught up in human trafficking, crime in the inner cities, and high unemployment in this land of plenty.

So, in 2017, when you sit down to a fine meal of veggies only, or fish and rice, or turkey, cranberries, mash potatoes, gravy, green beans, varied salads, pie, cake, ice cream, and a drink (or several!), remember some of the words of Ben Franklin who expressed as only a pundit could regarding gratefulness for “…full Enjoyment of Liberty, civil and religious.”  However, since Native Peoples and many African Americans lack such “full enjoyment,” America still has some work to do to really honor the time of Thanksgiving in 2017, and each day in every way.  We can review the history of Thanksgiving and how those who came up with the phrase “thanksgiving,” can include prayer and worship as we move forward.  Of course, prayer and worship should include helping those less fortunate as an outward show of the outgrowth of prayer and worship.   This was illustrated by Representative Elias Boudinot to allow the citizens to do such after an arduous time of the ratification in 1877 of the Constitution.

America has come a long way in honoring the holiday of Thanksgiving, now with the Macy’s Parade, football all day, feasting, and sometimes, helping others.  Perhaps in 2017, we will remember the pain of the Native People during this holiday, understanding that not all of them own a share of a casino or smoke shop, many have become addicted to some form of drug, causing them to bring abuse on family members, and that many STILL don’t feel respected in the land that was formerly owned by their ancestors.  Perhaps, instead of feeding a homeless person or giving a blanket, each of us can adopt a Native family, adopt a homeless family, adopt an African American family, or adopt a newly-arrived immigrant from a war-torn country, and help them develop their talents into providing them with a real Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  [Adapted in part from Melanie Kirkpatrick’s book: Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience]