The Road to Farley

The Road to Farley

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life in an Instant

I've been thinking a lot about the fragility of life the past few days. How you can wake up one day thinking it is a normal day and by day's end your world has been turned upside down.

An instant -- an infinitesimal space of time; especially a point in time separating two states.

A former co-worker, just 44 years old and the father of three young boys, dies of a heart attack at work during a team building activity. It was his boys' first day of school. A young woman, set to begin her senior year in high school, dies when she loses control of her scooter. Some say she was momentarily distracted by a friend who honked and waved at her. Her mother, suffering from pancreatic cancer, dies just ten days later. A young man and father of a baby girl is shot to death in circumstances that are not yet clear.

In each case, one moment these individuals were full of life and hopes and dreams for the future. In an instant, their lives ended leaving spouses, parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and friends mourning their unexpected loss and questioning their own faith, future, mortality, and why a loving God lets things like this happen.

Admittedly, I have many doubts about faith, and "God's Plan," and the idea that those we have lost are in a "better place." I think of loved ones I have lost and quite honestly think the best place for them would be here, among the living, with their family and friends who need them. My Catholic upbringing leads me to believe that we will all be reunited some day when we all raise up and that if we have led a "good life," we will be rewarded in heaven. I try to believe this, but really, how do we know that we just aren't dead? That's it...the show is over.

Some say that God doesn't give us burdens more than we can handle. Well, I've honestly seen a lot of people I know and love brought to their knees by the unexpected and untimely death of a loved one. I don't think we can always handle the challenges we face. Sometimes, it is just too much.

To me, death brings a void that can never be erased. Time may lessen the raw pain of the loss, but the loss is still there. Memories and moments of life that will never be made.

Death, except for those who have lived a full life, will remain a mystery to me. I found this poem by Maya Angelou. It sums it up beautifully.

When I think of death, and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors. I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else. 
I  find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that country of no return. Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger follows in its wake. I answer the heroic question 'Death, where is thy sting? ' with ' it is here in my heart and mind and memories.'

Rest in peace Drake Morris, Jr. You will be missed.
Life Goes On...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Suppose God is Black

On my way home from work tonight, there was a story on NPR about a speech Robert F. Kennedy made in South Africa in 1966. A new documentary, RFK in the Land of Apartheid: Ripple of Hope, is set to air on PBS later this month.  

Whenever I hear speeches made by the late Senator Kennedy, I marvel not only at his engaging speaking abilities, but am inspired by the thought provoking and forward thinking ideas he espoused during the turbulent times of the 1960s. Kennedy opened his speech at the University of Cape Town with these words:
I came here because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the Dutch in the mid-17th century, then taken over by the British and at last independent; a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but relations with whom remain a problem to this day; a land which defined itself on a hostile frontier; a land which has tamed rich natural resources through the energetic application of modern technology; a land which once imported slaves, and now must struggle to wipe out the last traces of that former bondage. I refer, of course, to the United States of America.
Later, in the speech to anti-apartheid students, he stated:

Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
You can read the entire story at:

The story also references an editorial that Senator Kennedy wrote for Look magazine that was published on August 23, 1966. That article was entitled, "Suppose God is Black?" Senator Kennedy poses this question to South Africans as he engaged in dialogue with them about why blacks should be given equal rights. Forty-five years later, this question is still valid.

During the same drive home tonight, on the eve of the straw poll in Ames, there was a news story about the impending entrance to the presidential race of Texas governor Rick Perry. I don't know a lot about Governor Perry, but I'm immediately turned off -- and downright frightened by -- a politician who makes claims like this:
"I think in America that from time to time we have to go through some difficult times, and I think we're going through those difficult economic times for a purpose," he said. "To bring us back to those biblical principles: Not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it's slavery."
I feel very conflicted by politicians who claim they want less government yet want to insert their religious, often conservative Christian values, into how our country is governed.

Our country is facing difficulties never before experienced. I don't proclaim to know what the answers to resolve these issues are. What I do know is that if I am faced with excessive debt and am struggling to meet my obligations, I have two ways to alleviate the situation: (1) reduce my spending and (2) increase my income. I don't see these as mutually exclusive. Any credit counselor will advise someone with excessive debt to seek additional income by obtaining a second job. I do not understand why raising taxes is an option that is completely off the table as a way to address our country's debt problem. I'm willing to give up a little to help the country out. There are many inequities in our tax code that could be rectified to increase income. And, you can't tell me that the likes of Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Mark Zuckerberg can't afford to pay a little more. 

It's only August 2011, a full 15 months before the next presidential election, and I am already sick of all the politicking that is going on. I'm so disillusioned that I may not vote at all. Or, I may vote only for candidates who are not incumbents.