50 Years Later: A Dream Not Yet Fully Realized

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Fifty years ago today, Dr Martin Luther King Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and shared with us his dream for our great country.  It was a fairly simple dream in that all he wanted was equality for all.  He wanted love to rule over hate, and for his own children to live in peace with white families.  So simplistic and beautiful, but has his dream been fulfilled?

In part, yes.  Under the law, everyone of every race is viewed as equal.  My daughter plays mostly with the neighbor kids who are black, and has no concept any difference other than their skin is different colors.  There are laws in place designed to give protections to Blacks in order for them to receive equal opportunities.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

But racism is not dead.  It’s far from it.  Hate crimes happen every day against all groups within our society.  It’s not just a crime against skin color anymore.  And even with the nations first Black President in office, racism is still flourishing in all corners.  Progress has been made, as is evident with President Barack Obama, but we still has so far to go.

Fifty years later, Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians have the highest rates of poverty with unequal access to the very things that improve and better an individuals place in society, like education and pay.  Inner cities, where minorities are the majority, have the lowest performing and underfunded school systems.  This is also where poverty flourishes.  Women are still fighting for equal pay to that of their male counterparts, as well as the right to govern over their own bodies.  Homosexuals are still fighting for marriage equality, and the same benefits for their families that heterosexual couples receive.  Muslims, and people who are mistaken for Muslims, are hated and discriminated against because of the actions of a few.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no finger-pointing here.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  We all have a share in the progression of equality.  A truly free society, in my opinion, is one in which equality is second nature.  Everybody has the same access to the important things, such as healthcare and education.  Instead of a dark cloud of hatred, a beautiful light of love shines down on everyone.

That may be only a dream, but it’s a dream worth making a reality.  Let’s reflect on the last fifty years.  All the progress, the steps backward, and the path that lie ahead of us in order to reach that dream.  Dr. King’s dream should not go unfulfilled.  His words and actions should be remembered for generations to come, and not taken for granted until his dream has been realized.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you wish to read Dr. King’s speech, and I think everyone should today, you can find it HERE at the National Archives.  You can also listen to him give his historical speech here in this video:

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Turn Off The TV. Family Time Is Actually Fun! And Important.

Last week was Samantha’s first week back to school, and it went really well!  She loves her new school, and seems to really enjoy going again.  I just wish her first weekend off from school had started off better.  Friday, she earned her first grounding.  Kids playing where they shouldn’t can result in broken windows.  Anyway, because of her actions, she was grounded from TV, her video games, and from going outside all weekend.

Friday night was rough because she had to deal with the ramifications, including talking to a police officer (for insurance purposes, and maybe a little scare factor).  She also had a rough time with idea of not getting to play her precious Minecraft for a whole week, or playing outside (except for soccer practice that starts today).  However, when Saturday morning rolled around, something surprising happened.

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Look at that smile! That is true happiness, right there. ❤

She played.  She didn’t whine.  She didn’t argue.  She smiled, and laughed.  All day.

Now, I am sure some people are going to think, “Well, duh!  You turn the TV off, and kids are forced to be kids.”  This is true, and unfortunately is not something we really figured out until we had to punish her more severely than in the past.  Unfortunately also, I think this is an all too common occurrence in this country.

Violence is part of our main stream society these days.  Maybe it has something to do with 24 hour new coverage, but you really can’t deny that our youth and society as a whole have become increasingly violent since video games and television were invented.  I am not blaming those things for the change in our kids, mostly, but I am blaming the parents.

I noticed something this weekend.  Samantha was happy and smiling.  My girl is generally a sweet, loving, and energy-packed girl, but looking back, I see the difference in her with TV vs no TV.  When she plays Minecraft, she rarely smiles unless she’s telling us something about it, but if she is just playing, she is slumped over, with a blank stare, and frown.  The same with television.  If she gets into a show, that same stare and frown is there.  Sure, she will laugh at a joke, but it’s mostly a chuckle, and then it’s gone.

THAT’S not my girl.  The girl we saw this weekend was her.  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before, and recognize that something needed to change.

Instead of watching TV, we played games.  Instead of playing Minecraft, she built stuff with art projects.  Instead of arguing, we actually had an enjoyable time playing some silly LaLaLoopsy game.  She even finally lost her tooth after a few months of it hanging on for dear life, and we danced and cheered.  It was fun!  She had our attention, and we had hers.  Nobody got moody with one another, except for Lauren, but that’s because she’s a sleep denier.

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Why is this such a revelation?  Because it’s not the violence in video games and television that can cause the issues with today’s violent youth, but instead the fact that they were even sitting there playing or watching them at all.  Our kids need to stop watching vulgarity and trash on the television, and instead send them outside to play in the sun and fresh air.  Instead of letting them sit all day while killing aliens in a game, give them some paper and scissors and let their imagination run wild.

It’s all about moderation.  I’m not saying all TV or games are bad, and they should be damned to hell for eternity.  What I am saying is watch that show, but when it’s over, turn it off.  Get up, and go do something else.  We love to do arts and crafts around here, or play outside, or read a book!  There is always something better than sitting on our butts all day watching mindless drivel.

It’s easier said than done, and I get that.  Parents work, kids have school, and a busload of activities like sports, dance, scouts, etc.  But unless we want to turn the violence around, and stop having kids killing because they are bored, we need to reinvest in our families.  That time is so important.  Youth is when we mold their minds and behaviors into what is acceptable, moral behavior and thinking.  If they are engrossed in the latest kill on the Xbox, then their minds are molding in a way that is just unacceptable, and scary.

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These three killed an innocent man…because they were bored.

I know, for my family, we will be turning the TV off more often.  Movie time together is great, but it can’t be a babysitter all the time.  Kids need that family time, that one on one time with parents and siblings.  It’s how they learn to love, and be loved.  I am definitely looking forward to the love that will be filling up this house once again.

Music, Oh Music! How I Love Thee!

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

-Bob Marley

Music is beautiful.  All of it.  I can’t say that I am knowledgeable on all that is musical, but I know what makes me happy.  Most of it puts me in a better mood, clears my mind, and gets me moving.  No matter what kind of mood I am in, I can turn on my Spotify account, hit Starred, and instantly be taken away from whatever bad mood, thoughts, or dark clouds that are surrounding me.  It really is a beautiful thing.

Like most people, I have songs that I identify with, and listen to when I am in that particularly dark state.  They usually involve a great beat, a great message, or both.  Lately, my song is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.   The music makes me smile every time, and the beat gets me up and dancing with my girls.  The lyrics are wonderful.  Be who you are, and find the ones who share those same qualities.  Everyone has a place in this world, and you just have to find it, let go of the societal chains, and just be.  My favorite words of the song are “I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.”  Goodness knows this is how I feel on a daily basis.  Lately I have felt naive, and too empathetic.

Is that even possible?  To feel too much empathy?  I know I am a very emotional person, and I feel other people’s emotions as well.  Even someone I read about in the news that lives oceans away.  I always feel as if I let the worlds problems rest solely on my shoulders, as if I am the one who needs to fix everything.  I CANT DO THAT!  I am only one person, and just have to let go of the idea that it’s my responsibility to fix the world.  I have to share that responsibility, and advocate for change, help, and peace.  I have to use my voice and compassion in order to make a difference.  Music has helped me realize that, in particular that song by Avicii.

That’s why I listen to music.  Not only is it a wonderfully beautiful aspect of life, but it helps me work through my issues.  When I was suffering from postpartum depression, music was one of the few things that helped me get through the day.  Then when I was writing about experiences, music helped me sort through the jumble that were my memories, and get them down onto paper.  Florence and the Machine was one in particular that helped a lot with her song “Shake It Out.” 

How motivating is that?  If you start to feel like the world is pressing you down, or the darkness in your mind, you have to try to shake it off.  Know that you are worthy of goodness, that you deserve happiness, and the demons in your head are just that: demons in your head.  They aren’t you, and they can’t define you.  It’s tough getting to that point where you can really know that those dark thoughts really aren’t your own, but once you do, it’s a beautifully liberating thing.  I still struggle with it, but when I realize it, I just turn that song on.  Helps me so much.

Music can also just be fun, and the one thing that can make you get up and dance.  My two most favorite songs for that are “Daylight” by Matt and Kim, and “Love Today” by MIKA.  Matt and Kim are my go-to for uplifting spirits, as my girls and I always end up dancing and laughing together.  Seeing their smiles while we jam to good music equals happiness and success in my mind.   

What’s your jam, your go-to mood lifter?  Share the music!