How Long To Sing This Song?

Why The Solutions To Gun Violence In America Start With Us

Another normal day, another senseless tragedy. 20,000+ people gathered in Las Vegas to enjoy a music festival and none were aware there was a madman getting ready to shower bullets on them from 32 stories above. 58 people dead. 500+ people injured. The numbers are hard to fathom. The video is difficult to watch. The stories are hard to hear. The mind rushes to make sense of something that’s senseless. And once again our “thoughts and prayers” go out to the victims go out to all those affected. How long to sing this song? How long before we wake up to random acts of kindness on our news feeds instead of random acts of violence? How long before we embrace the responsibility that comes with the freedom we say we cherish? How long?

The shooter opened fire on a crowd of 20,000 attending a concert from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, NV

That rhetorical question was sung by U2 when they recorded their album “War” in 1982. Bono asked, “How long must we sing this song?” in the lyrics of the opening track “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, and then closed the album with the song “40” by asking, “How long to sing this song?” It’s a great question. One that was asked in response to their witness of human violence. One that has yet to receive a definitive answer from us. It’s a challenge to sing a new song. And it’s a call to the depths of our souls to find better answers when man-made tragedies occur.

3 Sources of the Ferguson Crisis and How To Move Things Forward

As someone who was born, raised and still currently resides in St. Louis, MO, I’ve been watching the scenes in Ferguson (a suburb of St. Louis County) unfold these past few days with both heartache and outrage. Heartache for the people whose dreams have been affected by the violence in the streets and outrage for the people whose dreams have been affected by the verdict on Monday night.

Hands Up, Don't Shoot

From the beginning, when this case presented itself on local and then national television screens and social media feeds, it was never just about the events that led to the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson. This case was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Funny phrase, that is. If it were to literally come true, can you imagine what might take place if you were the camel’s caretaker? The camel collapses, and you start retracing your steps into the immediate past to reveal what you think is the cause of the problem. You would form an opinion based on your look into the past about what it was that made the camel collapse. You might say to yourself, “Next time, I won’t put that last straw on the camel’s back.”

But then you’d be missing the point entirely, wouldn’t you? It wasn’t the last straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the collective amount of weight you required the camel to carry for a long period of time that made it appear as though the camel collapsed under the final added weight of that tiny straw. It wasn’t the tiny moment in time that produced the final outcome, it was the collective moments of time that added up to produce the broken camel. The straw was the cause, but the weight over time was the source.

And that, my friends, is why we are collectively missing the point when it comes to Ferguson. We are pointing our fingers at the shooting of Michael Brown (the cause) while failing to see the history of objectification and marginalization that preceded this event (the source). And if we want to see any real change take place from this moment of crisis, then we absolutely must look at the real sources of the problems and not just at the immediate causes.

President John F. Kennedy, in his convocation of the United Negro College Fund in Indianpolis, IN on April 12, 1959 said, “When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”

So, let’s explore the dangerous opportunity in front of us by looking at 3 huge sources of the Ferguson response and how we can help things move in the forward direction that we all desire.

What Every Parent Needs to Know (But Doesn’t Want to Hear)

Back in 2007, when I was a full-time stay-at-home-dad, I was at a neighbor’s house for their four-year-old daughter’s birthday party and had an unforgettable experience. For tons of toddler fun, my neighbor had an inflatable climb and slide in the backyard where the kids were clamoring their way to the top and rushing down the other side. While helping my neighbor police the excitement, I saw a six-year-old boy jump off the top of the slide and land on his sister’s head. Knowing him from around the neighborhood, I addressed him straight-away and informed him that he would be losing his next turn because of his behavior. Without even a thought, he looked up at me and flipped me off with his middle finger! Looking around for some help from his parents I realized that not only were his parents not present at the party but that it would indeed be a complete waste of time and energy to track them down and inform them of his indiscretion. Why? Because I had just met his parents through him.

What Every Parent Needs To Know

You see, there is something every parent needs to know (but doesn’t want to hear). And it’s simply this:

The Secret To MLK’s Success As A Force For Change (And How You Can Be Too)

Today, we celebrate the life and leadership of one of my personal heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His vision of what could be, so eloquently expressed in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech (watch below), and his conviction that it should be changed the world forever and made our society a better place.

MLK Waving in Color

But what was the secret to Dr. King’s success? Why was he successful in changing the direction of American society where others had failed?

What Dr. King knew and what many other great leaders have known throughout time is how to employ the most powerful force within us to create change – faith.

Faith is a verb, an action, a muscle within us that must be used in order to be strengthened. When faith is developed, it can be called upon to direct massive action and create lasting change.

Dr. King’s faith was a keenly developed force that helped to bring about one of the greatest cultural shifts in American history. Would you like to have faith like him? Then it’s time to go the gym and learn the 3 exercises that can develop your faith muscles and make them a force for positive change in your world. 

7 Lessons from the Life of Nelson Mandela

What we can all learn from a life well-lived

On December 5, 2013 the one and only Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95. As the world mourns the passing of one of the great leaders of our time, let us not forget to celebrate his extraordinary life. His life, his words, and his leadership have motivated millions (including myself) to live up to his example of strength, forgiveness, courage, freedom, and dignity.

Nelson Mandela

So, in honor of the man who gave hope to generations of South Africans and inspired many others around the globe to become better people, here are 7 lessons from Nelson Mandela’s life that will endure long after his passing.