You Gotta Believe!!!

Peace,Light,Love

Happy Friday, All!

Okay … ready?!? T.G.I.F.!!! Yeah!! Now, this is Labor Day Weekend, too, so I am thoroughly psyched for a long weekend, y’all. A friend of mine from Jackson, TN, Ms. Michele Rinks, sent me a post about a very successful and popular motivational speaker named “Johnny Wimbrey”! Our stories are similar though he got started sooner in life as a speaker. He was a gang member, if I am not mistaken, and NOW will be speaking at the Broward County Convention Center here in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday!!! I am going to see if I can get a chance to see him “motivate”!! Ms. Rinks has told me about him on various occasion, and, she had a chance to meet him in Las Vegas some weeks back. She said, “If I were in Florida, I wouldn’t miss [this event] for the world!”

This is like my 510th blog post for Educational Excellence and I am very proud of this “flat”(home)-styled business!! I don’t have much in terms of material things, I write a lot and am always seeking to broaden my horizons. Some people think I should do “this” while others think that I should do “that” … Still, I do what I think I feel best doing and deal with my circumstances as best I can. From time to time, some of the readers miss my points and/or take jabs at me as if in a boxing match!! Still, I love you!! Many of us don’t know nor have unconditional love. That’s what I have for each of you. “You gotta believe me!” When was the last time you heard that?!? Did you believe them?? It is hard to believe folks nowadays. Each time I set up to write my e-mail, I look at all the wonderful people that I have been fortunate enough to meet in my life. Even when I trained for ACORN in Nashville, TN over 5 years ago, I met Christian Thomas who was the coordinator of the ACORN office in Nashville. He trained me in foreclosure prevention and community organizing. We had a cool house office there in Nashville where we met before we went into the field. He is now a lawyer, and, if I am not mistaken, waiting for the results of his bar exam. Oh yeah, he is still with the same beautiful wife he had then and has a charming baby boy!

Also, while in Nashville training for a month, and during our foreclosure prevention fair we held at a local baptist church in the community there, I met Sharon Hurt, another integral part of this wonderful e-mail family. She still directs an organization there called “J.U.M.P.”!! She sent me a message after the piece on Michael Brown, the teen killed in Ferguson. She gave me a “thumbs up” just by saying “well said”. It means a lot to me when people really understand where I am “coming from” though one … anyone … doesn’t have to agree with me. I say what I think. Over the years, I have learned to look at my life as a journey, not a contest. It is not important for me to compete, though I must admit, I enjoy seeing others excel in their craft and adventures along this journey we share. Have you ever wondered what the future brings? Do YOU think that you know that, too?!? I try to keep it simple, y’all. I believe … and you gotta believe! Sending you all … each and every one of you … peace, love and light!

Namaste

John I. Cook

I Was Saving This One . . .

RIP MB

Happy Hump Day, Y’all …

I know, I know … there are a lot of things NOT to be happy about … I know. Yet, if we want to generate positive outcomes in our lives, we must think positive. Can you say, “We are what we think.” For me, this is why it is so important to surround myself with people who encourage and support me, as well as show me how I may improve, and with those who share similar values. So all this means a lot to me, and the things I write about.

So, yes, I have been saving this one … the RIP for Michael Brown. Yes, I know he must not have been an angel, like many of us were NOT at 18 … and many of us are STILL not angels at whatever age we may be at. It is a lot to digest in America, the land of the free, home of the brave. Many people know about the horrors of “institutional racism” and “white privilege”, which, together, can make the life of an African American nearly impossible. The horrors of slavery have left indelible marks on the psyche of many of us … American and foreign alike. I have had some people from Europe tell me that I exaggerate the life of African Americans and the difficulties we often face. I am not sure exactly why they think that because I try to be one of the most fair-minded people you may ever meet. I don’t judge … because I have been judged. It was interesting to hear Al Sharpton’s words regarding “policing” in the United States. He said something to the effect of: “Police work that allows guns (and drugs!) into the neighborhood but seeks to single out a man selling “loose cigarettes” in the street OR some teen-aged boy with his friends walking down the middle of the street is sketchy!!! Now that’s some shady police work!” I have walked down the middle of the street in my hometown. Have any of you?? What happened??? I know, you didn’t purportedly “steal cigars”, but … can one give the death sentence and execute a suspect in one easy pull of the trigger … for stealing cigars??!!

Okay, I was saving this, too … How many of you have lost a loved one … a teenager … a child … even a mate?! How does that feel? Would you “take the side of” anyone and everyone in “law enforcement”? How about the officer … sergeant I believe … on the “crowd control” duty there at Ferguson who had posted a video from 2012 saying, “If you don’t want to die, don’t get in front of me!” This guy served in Vietnam and has been in law enforcement there in Missouri for multiple years! Now here is a man that served in two “arenas” that Americans deem sacred – war efforts and community safety. His quote sounds like he has crossed the line a bit and thinks he is in a war zone when faced with decision making in the streets of America where his job is to promote safety – protect and serve! Yet, he physically pushed a news announcer, who, like a wise African American male would do in a similar situation, allowed himself to be pushed back … in a clip of Ferguson’s unrest that was viewed internationally!!! His superiors saw the danger and immediately removed him from that detail!!! Even “they” know … and I use “they” loosely, to refer to his superiors.

Losing a child to death must be difficult. I was proud to see the unity displayed by folks who protested peacefully there in Ferguson, MO as they asked that the officer be charged and tried like any other person would be. This is not a time for the institution of law enforcement to drop the ball and make it seem like “white privilege” is being invoked here. We need to be fair, and at least … let the judicial process work in this case as well, since this is all us “humans” have been able to devise to seek “liberty and justice for ALL!”

Have a great Hump Day, seek peace, if you will … and be well!

Peace,

John I. Cook

Sometimes, It Just Is That Way

Actually

Happy Monday, All!

Yes, I did enjoy my weekend. Needless to say, I had to overlook some inconsistencies in behavior on the part of “others”. Now, it was disappointing to see for example, that someone from my past was looking to reconnect as friends while holding this attitude towards me as if I owe them something!! So, with that attitude came some words and actions, though I did my part … the drama was perfect, as I remember Roz Reich of the Brahma Kumaris, Hollywood, FL once mentioned. Meanwhile, I had to adjust to dealing with something that I knew was wrong! The other parties all had a vested interest in “proving” me wrong, so … I had to let it go! “Let go, and let God!”, as one 12-step program phrases it. I have been doing this over and over for many years now, so I knew what I had to do. It wasn’t easy, and it was more than one situation … that I was powerless over, peace be still.

Just a thought that came while watching “60 Minutes” last night with a segment on “data brokers” and this company called “Epsilon” that tracks purchases, “likes” on social networks, favorite foods, geographical preferences, right on down to fantasies of each of us!!! It was amazing how one company even has a “tracking device” with applications like the popular “Angry Birds”, which is a game that many many people play on their hand held mobile devices. The segment included information like the fact that the producers of “Angry Birds” gives you the application “free”, but then sells the information they get from “tracking” your whereabouts to other marketing components and businesses who use YOUR valuable information to literally “keep tabs” on each of us and develop a “profile” that has become instrumental in identifying our likes and dislikes and seeks to bombard us with “opportunities” that they know we can’t turn down!! How does that make you feel?? Hopefully, we become more cautious of what we put on the internet in surveys and questionnaires. There are interests groups pushing for the monitoring of these businesses like Epsilon and the ultimate regulation of their activities, if necessary.

I remember my father always telling me that: “You can’t win every battle, boy! Sometimes, you just have to learn from these experiences … and grin and bare it!” Updated interpretation, ’cause my father often spoke in parables, “the drama is perfect”! Have a great day, a wonderful week, and what does not serve you in a positive way, let it go . . .

Peace,

John I. Cook

So What Should We Do Now???

What's Next

It’s Friday, and like I do each morning when I wake up, I thank my Creator whom I choose to call God … a power far greater than myself … or anyone I know

So, let’s see, the events surrounding the shooting in Ferguson, MO … yep, and I just watched the shooting … er uh … suicide by the kid in St. Louis … and you know he wanted to die – what do people wake up thinking about?! I mean, to me, this kid was also asking for help … He didn’t open fire on people with an automatic weapon in a movie theatre and he didn’t go into a school to shoot and kill kids … he had a knife. Yes, a knife is a deadly weapon. You … or I … or an officer … have the right to defend oneself against an attacker with a knife. In his head, I am sure he was already “lost” – no self esteem, no faith in society, no one who really cared about him enough to intervene before he set himself up as an “armed target”. Of course, there is enough “excuses” or reasons to execute him … Could an alternative been to “taser” him … maybe give him an opportunity to say he was crazy and enter a treatment center or jail??? With all the tensions in our purported “post racial America”, given the players in this scene, it was clear as the officers manipulated the scenario to allow themselves to justifiably execute this kid … with 9 shots.

Another journalist is slated to be “beheaded” and a failed rescue attempt by US Special Forces not only shows the intelligence of these “insurgents”, but has also shown them that they must take extra added precautions to avoid their capture and the journalist’s rescue. Quite a “check mate” situation … Is “all the world a stage” OR does it seem more like a chess game?!? It is indeed quite a real “live” human theatre … this world we live in. Yet, we each have our parts to play in this “human theatre”, if only we could figure them out!! Well, this is part of my role in this episode – to write about things. Still, I have other roles or perhaps facets of my main role as an advocate of peace and self-love and discipline. I will be getting to those later … for sure!!

Problems all around us, both near and afar. What should we do now? Choose wisely! Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend … because you can!

Peace,

John I. Cook

The Michael Brown Saga continues . . .

Brown's Mom

Happy Hump Day, All!

Just in case you were wondering, it is the middle of the week!!! Yeah!!! At least for many of us … Journalists are beheaded in Iraq and the terrorists tell Obama to get troops out. Isn’t this a barbaric way to get the POTUS’s attention?!? I can only imagine what must have been running through their minds in those seconds before the knife entered their throats …. Peace be still. As if this isn’t enough for the leader of the “free” world to have to handle???!

We turn to look at the on-going tensions, questions, frustrations … yes … and more shootings!!!!! Michael Brown’s mother, family and friends are trying to cope with this “here today, gone tomorrow” mentality of today’s modern world. This situation is so volatile … people are so sensitive … anything can happen … and it is!!! More shootings, more tear gas, more looting … some peaceful demonstrations still happening but Ferguson looks like a war zone with tanks rolling down the street … ” in the land of the free, home of the brave!” Makes me wanna holla … hold up both my hands!!!! These lyrics are timeless, I can hear Marvin Gaye singing to Michael Brown’s soul now …

I continue to think about his mother … Trayvon’s mother offers her support. The same attorney for Trayvon’s mother, Mr. Crump, has yet another case on his hands – a young African American male is taken too soon. Now, the cries that Brown was a gang member and was high on pot … and he “bum rushed” the officer before he was shot … in the HEAD!!! “That devil weed makes people run at guns!” is the thought that the some would like you to believe about Brown. This was the same tactic used on Trayvon … he was going to make “sisurp” with his Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea … So, Zim was supposed to execute him … Just like Officer Wilson executed Michael Brown … even if he did steal four cigars … Death by Execution is OVERKILL!!!! Literally!!! I stated my opinion earlier … As a sociologist and a student of social psychology, I believe that Officer Wilson’s instinct and training, values (or lack of!) took over in that instant when he felt threatened as an authority and saw 6 foot 5 inch African American male – Michael Brown – facing him … and he lost it!!!! All his hatred came out on Brown in that instant!! All of his tension and frustration was released each time he pulled the trigger SIX TIMES with his gun aimed at Brown’s upper body … Peace be still … RIP Michael Brown.

What can we do to calm this storm that has been stirred up in Ferguson?? An independent investigation is still underway by the Federal Government as Attorney General Holder directs and conducts his own investigation. Can the truth come out? Should the officer be arrested?? How accountable does a civil servant have to be, when armed with deadly force and is NOT confronted with deadly force but uses his anyway??? Tough questions, who’s got the answers …

Peace,

John I. Cook

Stir Up The Good Things!!!

Little things

Happy Monday, All!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well and that you had a chance to unwind … relax, even. Today is the first day of school in South Florida … Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties included. I have been keeping up a bit with the Superintendent of Schools in Miami Dade as there has been a lot of improvements in the public schools with additional equipment (laptops) for each student. This is a commitment to academic excellence by Alberto Carvalho who received the 2014 Superintendent of the Year Award sponsored by the School Superintendents Association earlier this year in Nashville. He is definitely a “hands on” superintendent who sets a very high standard for education in Miami Dade Public Schools. The schools even held a “Back to School” event yesterday sponsored by former students of Miami Dade Public Schools to be sure that ALL students had the proper supplies for the first day of school today!

These past few weeks have been full of reflections for me as things in my own life continue to change and develop. It is clear I need to hunker down on a few projects. So, as I meandered around the flat yesterday fixing brunch after yoga and listening to a few church broadcasts on television, a woman minister from Metro Life Church, Mary Alessi, caught my attention. She had a bowl in her hand and a spoon in it and was preaching a sermon on “stirring up the good things” in ones life!! Yes, it is true that some of us make mistakes … and admit them. This is the first step in improving ones relationship with ones SELF! Still others get stuck looking at the mistake and often get caught up in self pity while others try to heap “hell” on their shoulders and back!!! This can get cumbersome, down right uncomfortable even. So, Mary Alessi was suggesting that we NOT stir up the mistakes. But instead, she suggested we stir up the gifts of love and peace and strength. Let’s find and stir up the things that are “right” in your life rather than the things that are NOT. An age old axiom says something like this: “Don’t focus on the problem … focus on the solution!” Of course that is much simpler once we admit that there is a problem. Then, move on!

Sending out good vibrations to all of the youngsters entering school today, wishing them a wonderful school year, as we all know that life has got more twists and turns today than ever. So much to look out for from child predators to bullies at school to unwanted peer pressure often imposed by “friends and associates”! Encourage the kids to stay focused on solutions and to believe that they can find answers to life’s many challenges!

Have a great Monday and a wonderful week! Thanks for reading.

Peace,

John I. Cook

The Tale of Two Cities . . .

Miami

It’s Friday, y’all!

This week kind of “hoofed it” by … so it seems! How was yours? School starts Monday here in South Florida. Many lessons for the youngsters to learn, too! The basics – reading, writing and arithmetic – not to mention how to behave. Nowadays, some kids have what appears to be like so much personality. They are learning to “look” like adults but often still lack the proper etiquette … self discipline, in fact!

Much is still going on … both abroad and at home. It all makes my head spin. Yes, I am optimistic … what else would I be?! I always wondered why “man’s inhumanity to man” was not something that we as a civilization take much more seriously. I mean, from time to time, we take a closer look at our environment and try to take measures to “save” it … from ourselves!!! We are so “intelligent” as a species. Yet, we allow things to get to the point where a rabbi is murdered on his way to the synagogue in a residential area … in the middle of the afternoon! I can truly understand why the people in that community want the police to “make an arrest”. Yet, I hope they find the actual person(s) who committed this atrocity. “Welcome to Miami! Bienvenidos a Miami” … It is one city.

Stand your ground has become the most challenged “catch phrase” in the legal arenas, many of which span Florida. So many cases, from Zimmerman to Dunn … to the woman (African American) who fired a warning shot to stop her abusive husband and was given time in jail!!! Now, in Ferguson, MO, the “true colors” of the apparently on-going conflict are coming out there since the demographics changed and African Americans became the predominant ethnic group in the suburb of St. Louis. The young college bound kid had NO weapon. Arguments range from the assertion that the teen “hit” the officer and he had to be taken to the hospital … but was not found to be DEAD!!! Of course, the new image spanning the media in regards to this situation is that the youngster had both hands in the air … and received six shots to his unarmed body. Now, I have a temper myself. It has helped me win basketball games, foot races, even get and stay in shape!! I harness my temper with discipline today. I truly believe that this officer LOST his temper, due to the prevailing environment, his OWN attitude and perception of reality (that the teen’s life didn’t matter!) coupled with his LACK of discipline!!! Many of us walk around like that every day … we just aren’t allowed to carry guns around to whip out when we lose control of ourselves!!! Ferguson … another American city.

Indeed, this is the new “Tale of Two Cities” … peace be still! Is this the underlying current in America?!? How can we change this?!? Will we continue with “man’s inhumanity to man” until we destroy ourselves?!? I’d personally like a better ending to this “story” …. namaste!

Peace,

John I. Cook

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