Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rebuilding the Walls

Today I conjure up the emotions I’ve been suppressing that came as a result of sights I’ve been disturbed by over the past few years and days. I go over in my mind today’s state of affairs: internal, external, domestic and global. I watch how the world has been ravaged by greed, hate and the wickedness of man. I think to myself: how can I ever dream to be able to fix this?

I stare at the broken structure as Nehemiah did and I weep. I weep not only because of the clear picture of what my people and all people of the world will face because of the ruins I see. I weep not just because of the picture of desolation, deterioration—a languishing of life itself. I weep because all that has been placed within me, yet to be revealed in all its glory, finds no place in this world. No, not this world, this time, this place.

The trinkets buried deep beneath the surface, intricately laid down by Him—therein you will find his will, the hope, the love, the yearning, all inclined to rebuilding; yet all I see is tearing down. I tell myself, my journey has not yet begun but the world may prevent me from having a true opportunity to be. I cannot be, if I am not allowed to practice my being. My being, always contingent on what He is saying…but the world wants no part of Him.

The powerful forces that be don’t want Him, so I know they will ostracize me. I’m not their type, who they will seek after. I help others up, I level the field, my solutions are ground breaking, world embracing theirs palliative and debasing. I stare at the broken walls and the walls of my heart feel as if they are on their last. Once fortified, shock absorbing, now ready to crumble, ready to give in, no longer ready to be.

This opening to me speaks of the wantonness of mankind. Freedom has always been the goal, the means to some utopian end. This broken structure to me, a clear result of going beyond the limit without preparing for what lies ahead. Freedom they begged for and now they’ve received. The open space ready, they have their belongings and they scatter without security, without grounding, without a purpose.

Today, I asked my creator, if it’s just my own understanding that is blindly leading me to believe that there is no hope. I felt as if he smiled and whispered “no this is your place, this is your home, you cannot find love, peace and hope because I’ve placed it where it can be guarded, cherished, where it can be flourished and shared and why else did you think I put you there?

You are the hope, the love, the light, if you cannot find enough, it’s because you’re missing. Get up, and you build what’s been broken down—your life, your home, your country, the globe. You have been allowing the winds of chaos to toss you, discourage you but alas you have consulted me, you lost yourself in the world and the world is at loss because they do not have you. “

I stare at the broken walls and this time I find me. I see my destiny, all that he has made me to be.  Now I’m calling all builders to help me, help Him. He needs you now, you’ve been chosen and if you agree, you’re in.

He needs architects: those with eyes of faith and filled with creativity; visionaries who see beyond the emptiness and see abundance, those who can ensure the structure is fit and secure. He needs, masons: the strong, those who can toil, lift heavy burdens and set pillars in place.

What are your talents, what are your gifts? There’s a chance they were placed within you for such a time as this.

March 2015

Thursday, March 14, 2013

On Eros and Lust

The Symposium by Socrates has always and will always be a source that I delve into as I thread the sometimes unfamiliar and raging sea of love. Plato, the expert that he was, clearly illustrates to us that although a beautiful feat, eros can also be a calamitous journey of the heart, the mind, the body.

He shows us the total peace and the superfluity of all else when at the peak. Simultaneously, he shows us the obsoleteness felt while in the “valleys of the shadow of death” and uncanny elements of this eros when you have found the piece of your soul that wandered without you and you yearned so much for.
Inevitably, a story of love is in essence a story of beauty and tragedy—a conglomeration of peaks of happiness and plummeting falls of excruciating pain. How can the two go together? How did eros become ambivalent? How is all this possible?

In reality, there is a distinction between love that is honourable and that which is dishonourable. Love should not be ambiguous but rather has clearly defined lines that speak of the consistency of the souls of the two people attached to each other.

If eros begins with love of virtue and love of the soul and the mind, attachment will prove to be beautiful, good—eros will initiate an everlasting bond without dark and deep valleys. Instead, the journey will prove to be undulating. The destination together is no longer the focus nor is who you will become; rather, who you are and would like to be with your soul mate.

If eros would begin first with mature unions, calamity will be avoided—estrangement, fear, emotional impairment will not flood your path. There is one true love, just as there is a true form of beauty and just as goodness is objective and can be easily distinguished from things unlike itself.

Young love desires to quench insatiable appetites. Young love. It is wandering, unattached and resembles lust. It goes after what appears desirable and when this is achieved seeks the next most opulent fleeting thing.
Love of the mind, of virtue, of goodness and all that is beautiful is mature love, lasting love, freeing love, respectful love, harmonious, florid and unconditional. This love can only BE when appetites are quieted compatibility is achieved and evil cut off.

How can you hold on to the beauty of mature eros with evil in your heart, darkness hidden away, the past buried and trust hanging on a foundation made of mire?
To gain this beauty— trust, hope, forgive, innocence, share light, expose, be wise, and exude the peace of God that should live within your heart. Eros dwells in the gentleness of a pure and contrite soul and can only find the like in the same and not the contrary.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart - Both, Not one.

Someone asked a good question recently that stirred me to write almost instantly. He asked: is it better to trust in actions or to trust in words?

If I was asked whether I trusted actions or words more-- I would choose actions, however; there are some important conditions that must follow.

I believe that it is imperative that we understand that actions are not more important than words, but instead they can be better trusted to understand someone's intentions than words would. The stark difference between the two is that words are fleeting, can change in a moment, can be blotted away but this is not as easy with actions. Once you are committed to an action and you follow through it cannot be erased.

My purpose however, is not to illustrate the epistemological difference between the two-- instead; it is important that I explain that actions should be married to words. It's about the heart and the hands-- the hands that work and the heart that allows the mouth to speak freely without the involvement of the mind.

Show me then close with words. If school was about being literally shown everything without a "talking forum" we would have to assume too much. Internalize this. If an action is left to stand alone it can become something complex and confusing to someone who understands concepts from a reductionist perspective.

We must also realize that both actions and words force us to use our SENSES to interpret the world. However we also know that these very senses given to us to be put to good use is limited. We know it is limited because its abilities are contingent on another bodily function. eg. We cannot see unless light hits the retina in a specific way.

It is no surprise then that our senses have failed us before especially in communicating with others who themselves depend on these tools of perception and who also may have been socialized differently or may possess a different personality.

Fortunately, misunderstandings can be curbed if both go together (Actions and words), ofcourse placing more emphasis on the one that eliminates the most doubt, we can make the complexity of our perceptions simpler. We can extricate ourselves from the complexities that come with assumptions that lead to assumptions that lead to assumptions....

Monday, July 30, 2012

What's so Real about REALITY?

If reality is what we perceive it to be through our experiences with the world, then it’s subjective. If reality is subjective why do we call it re-al-ity? What’s so genuine about it? Is it because it seems less superficial or more logical than one we deem to have a “skewed view” of the world? Is it really?

 Is there some true essence that makes it real or is that truth that seems to evade from things that move us, the effects of something inside ourselves? Things like love, pain, joy, hurt…yet these too are totally contingent on a structure that we can trace back to ourselves. It spirals right back, slowly, brutishly, gracefully…it moves right back to you—the source of all re-al-ity.

We talk about it like it’s something objective—simply because what we perceive it to be sounds a lot like someone else’s claim? Then tell me... in re-al-ity…what really is this “love” thing? A word we use to characterize the euphoric feeling we claim we have found when we have seen true beauty, true long suffering, kindness and gentleness… or even the exact opposite at times. But what is beautiful and what is long suffering? It depends on social construction...and is determined by context.Looks like we are back at one; made a full circle and came to no conclusion-- except ofcourse that our ideas coem from somewhere...a place within us, a subject.

The truth is… the birds probably laugh at our ability to see—yet we act as though our eyes can take us to an alternate universe. The manatee or the catfish, who many think are the less intricate animal, probably snicker at the thought that our feelings are enough to help us act logically on impulse.

The truth is our reality is what’s good to us….period. My pain is not your pain, my love is not your love, my truth is not yours and neither is my reality. What does this even mean? What’s the point? Is there ever a point even to life itself? What’s ever the point?

Before threading the waters of existentialism, let me say: thread lightly—you never know who you’re crushing, it’s probably some form that keeps your world bright or it might turn out to be the reason you’re alive. Not just that, but walk humbly for your reality is but yours and your perception bears way too many flaws. Last of all, be grateful because what you have may be little but a little of a lot of greatness.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dsyfunctionality- Thinking like "Women" Acting like "Men"...whatever that means...

The Black Death pt. 1

"The Sprint to the Light....and the Jog Back to Chains"

I hate the fact that people blame the “black feminist movement” for broken black marriages where black women are successful and powerful partners today. 

In my daily internet browsing session I came across a video called “Why successful black women can’t find black men” and I was urged to skim the responses posted under the video. Almost instantaneously, I was disgusted by the remarks, clear misunderstanding and altogether ignorance of the people who received gestures of agreement by other spectators. 

I am not in total disagreement with the belief that some black women have misunderstood what independence means-- Steve Harvey would say they are acting like men (when you scrutinize their social roles) and thinking like women (trapped in a 1960's black romance novel). Rather, maybe as time has evolved women too must evolve as words like independence are fluid— nothing in this world is static; even the word “change” is mutable.

Most notably, circumstances are culpable for molding character, something that is  inherently malleable. What am I saying? People must educate themselves, open their eyes and seek deeper reasons for legacies that persist in our societies.

I know of many successful black women who have found men and are married (some happy and some very unhappy). For the unhappy many, I have observed that some financially secure women who have partners that are not as stable grow weary as the stark imbalances and incompatibility (intellectually and financially) become more pronounced as time goes by living under the same roof.

This leads me to a greater question: why do successful black women settle? I am in no way implying that women are superior, but instead I am asserting that so far… the women I have come across in my very short journey who are in unhappy ,parasitic relationships have men who need to uplift themselves. Instead of looking to their successful female counterparts and shunning them because of their achievements, maybe they should shake off the idle spirit of stagnation and aim towards limitless progress.

I have been blessed to be in a family that has made tertiary education imperative and in no way a choice. As a result I stand among men in my family who are lawyers, engineers, professors at Ivy league schools, mechanics who know how to carry the burden of providing for a family, faithful doctors and businessmen married to equally successful black women. My point? Maybe we need to recognize how much circumstances are to blame for many societal issues.

Ultimately, marriage and long term relationships should be wholesome and equitable. This means that the two parties must be balanced in all aspects or near balance. Weigh it ladies and gentlemen or WAIT! 

In conclusion, maybe the imbalance in black relationships and the inability of black women who have achieved high acclaims and accolades to find men they are compatible with  is two fold. You see this problem is not the consequence of “the black feminist movement” or any feminist movement for that matter. Rather, it marks the stagnation of many of our people mentally.

Black men: “step your academic game.” Male marginalization theory my ass! Black women, open your eyes and try to understand our men. If we are to progress together, we need to work together and understand each other instead of assuming and judging each other based on flawed arguments.  I am tired of the antediluvian arguments that place all blame on feminism and the black woman. STOP….think… rethink… then act! 

Maybe your thinking process should start with this question: what is feminism?
I can start answering for you. Although there are many types, phases and or waves of feminism with divergent visions, all movements aim to achieve social justice for women— these groups have recognized the continued subordination of women and how we are unfairly treated and so they fight for legal provisions among other necessities to level the playing field. 

Leveling the playing field does not mean that we should totally forget or pretend that we are different-- the truth is we are all distinct. Therefore justice means that we must carefully analyse the picture and smoothen the creases...clear up the loopholes. Now… tell me… what is so wrong with feminism if you are not chauvinistic and sexist?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Road to Free Doom

How far again would we go before our enchantment with the mechanics of humanity and the world lead us into nothingness? How much longer must we travel before everything that once held on to the bones that mark our history—the bane of our existence is annihilated?

How far is too far? Will “political corretness” the engine of human rights, propel us to a utopia where we all love and respect each other or will this take us ten steps back, far back…and as if we pressed the rewind button we travel past our not too distant brutal, barbaric and bloody history. Yes…we pass our capitalist—colonial—manifest destiny— era, before any  black, brown, yellow…subordinated wo(man) could brazenly utter a word on “rights.”

Yes….political correctness—a term more poignant than someone smeared with feces; putrid yet stimulating to all those who fight for those once marginalized. They say “stand not for something and fall for anything” but what happens when you stand for everything do you not fall too because of the contradictions that you will face in joining things that seem all too similar to be disconnected when observed through a myopic lens?

Is my argument nothing but a slippery slope? To me there’s no slope it’s just slippery. Slippery because it marks how fleeting academia has become, how subjective, how unquestioning and accepting. Like a sociopath, or the black widow lures her prey who flies too close to her intricately designed snare. We continue to fly too high to the spider’s web in our aim to utopia we call social inclusion.

Humanity is still in that dark cave where there is very little light—the enslaved cavemen have only heard from those enlightened that there is an illuminating light outside, the tale they are told that what they see is not all that exists, but something greater lies outside. And as if they are having a lucid dream, these cavemen believe that the illusions that their deceitful eyes tell them is reality, fact, truth but instead they are nothing but skewed impressions of faulty perception on the cave’s walls.

And they continue to travel. Past the Magna Carta, the Declaration of a corrupt independence, past any constitution that spoke of inalienable rights that made all men equal. Past the establishment of Trinidadian Government when “discipline, tolerance and production” became something like the Indo-Afro Trinidadian mantra. How ironic! These words were meant to solidify independence from a colonial past, yet they speak of continued enslavement.

The “good” indentured labourer and slave was disciplined and the iron fist kept him moral. This labourer needed to be subordinate and do what was said by his master in order to be productive, productive for a common good that in retrospect seems like…the greater good (the good of the master that is). The only difference now was the attempt to penetrate racial lines that was necessary to rape the minds of these “ex slaves.”

Like a virgin who was about to consummate her marriage they forced in the word tolerance in the midst of these two functions and factors of slavery to make these two distinct groups shake hands, meet, function as a unit…again for their benefit. Tolerance and political correctness are one in the same. Tolerance: the act to allow deviation from a standard, to become less responsive. Tolerance is preached daily to mean something noble, something necessary, but taken for what it is, it can only lead to the “ dummifying” and death of the person.

The most tolerant societies today still have a citizenry who proudly wave their anti semitic and anti black flags in the front of their residences while greeting you with a smile be you black man or Jew. The truth is, no matter how socially active a sect of the population or how much this doctrine of tolerance is preached there is still hate in the hearts of man. Hate for different, hate for extraordinary hate for the “other”, hate for “them” and tolerance will never produce love.

The abyss is near and soon this subtly fascist world will crumble with all its corrupt ideologies that bear the so called “superstructure.” However, before this happens, human rights will not take the enslaved cave man to a place of freedom. The process has indeed been an incremental one but soon the stage will come when our eyes must be closed, our mouths shut up and like soldiers in a medieval army our hands stiffly to our sides and because our senses will have no use anymore we will all fall into a pit that was prepared for us. You see, before the physical came the mental “dummifying” so at the end there really would be no hope for mankind.

What then dare I say is right and wrong? Is truth objective or should the enlightened shape a world where the common good is truly the purpose of all life and are they then to determine the rights that should govern and establish society? Even Plato, the great philosopher that he was, recognized how complex and intricate answering this question was and though he believed in objectivity of truth and beauty there was some subjectivity in his utopian society.

I am no advocate of fascism or horrible acts like genocide and eugenicide but I do believe that we are taking many steps backward believing that anything goes without carefully dissecting all popular opinion and beliefs. The truth is just as we are not all the same, we are not all different and no matter how close our histories, they are all distinct. Forcing the connection between all groups and sects should not be our goal because in doing so our fall is inevitable because of the ample contradictions we will encounter in that quest.

Isn’t it futile for an enslaved man who only knows candlelight as his source to build his life around the beliefs of his enslaved brother whose reality is just as dark and limited as his own? There is no easy solution to transforming hateful hearts to loving ones just as it is hard for a busy New Yorker to find balance in the hustle and bustle of city life.

However, the way to a better place for all of humanity is that we interrogate all thoughts, beliefs, notions before we accept it. Interrogate by reading, writing and opening one’s mind to the opposing view and above all “mind your own business.” Plato never meant that we must be narcissistic and selfish, but instead he reminds us of the power of looking within for the answers. Furthermore, in doing so, doing yourself some good means indirectly doing all humanity some good. He may not have been an advocate for questioning in his mentally enslaving Republic but I do believe that the journey towards finding “self” and understanding one’s place in the midst of this beautiful mosaic we live each day will lead to love and happiness for one and all.

Speak your truth and I’ll interrogate your truth in love.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Remember when we were the victims?

Where do you draw the line between “slactivism” and “activism”? Who determines what is right and wrong? If the problems within African countries are not ours are we to hold our heads and bawl with the feelings of hopelessness consuming us and… unrelenting disdain for those who we believe are higher powers—the ones greater than us the ones who stand on the hill and look down, as we look up, who we think control the world and the future?

Do we focus on ourselves because charity begins at home and ends abroad? Where did we get this picture from? What about the whole “white man’s burden” theory and how are we to feel about the possibility, as “othered” persons, that this might be the hidden agenda behind all of this? What if something a lot murkier haunts this matter or lurks behind the echoes of voices screaming for justice?

Yes, I believe that colonialism has not ended and rather than living in post-colonial societies, for many, we now live in neo colonial nation states that have strong ties to more than one oppressor. I do believe that capitalism is culpable for many ills we see and face daily but I do not believe that socialism is the simple solution. I do believe in the “white man’s burden” and I also believe that the opposite is true. I do believe also that pity can harm but pity can heal.

I do believe that we must be careful of becoming “bandwagonists”—drifting in the wind with every fleeting thing that comes. I do believe that if you stand for nothing you can fall for anything as the cliché says. But I also believe that being bombarded by thought, literature, professors and students, classrooms and activist groups, Jehovah’s witnesses and the news, the media and sensationalists, that we may stand for many things and fall for them too. I do believe in the power of thought to drive but I too believe in the subjectivity and fallacious nature of the senses.

In our world today where nothing is private—our lives are involuntarily and voluntarily posted to a site and our thoughts can be constantly updated for many to see, be it for the viewing pleasure of someone 10 miles away or 100,000, we realize more and more that the lines that at some time (or maybe never) outlined a boundary that determines foreign from local, me from you and us from them is now more blurred and vague than ever before.

We all hear of globalization and combined with the goals and efforts of transnational corporations, media giants, international law and government, terrorism and NATO missions worldwide we know that globalization is alive and kicking and has its pros and cons. However, alongside this we also see strict immigration policies limiting movement among countries; we see how the “winners” try to secure their piece of the “pie” or the entire thing.

What does this mean for all of us? What does this mean if we desire to put our hand with another—reach for another to help him or her up? The truth is, only you can truly know and understand your duty and purpose and I hope that by the end of this piece you are motivated to find this.

My most significant belief is that we can find the solutions to many of our problems by searching inside ourselves. This mantra in itself is my answer when questioned about the rightness or wrongness of something like “the white man’s burden” or MAN’s burden.

Man’s burden today after seeing countless sorrow filled United Way commercials and a proliferation of online videos showcasing the atrocities done to peoples globally all compel us to help if we can. Some say that we must bear our own burden before another; however, it is time that we see that the burden of one 100,000 miles away is our burden just as much as someone ten miles away—this is not the “white man’s burden” this is man’s burden. This understanding is the beginnings of humanism.

It is time that we recognize the importance of letting go of selfishness and individualism and truly realizing the power that we can find in joining for a good cause. Why can’t we do both? We can simply show our hate for the crimes men like Joseph Kony and other rebels continue to commit daily while helping our neighbours. Uganda is our neighbour just as Southern Trinidad is—do not fall into the trap called “sensitization”.

Why must we criticise those who are doing what they can to impede the unjust from continuing on their evil path? We must do our part and our responsibility as huMANs is doing what little we can with what we have to influence positive change. Be it posting flyers to “make Kony famous,” influencing policy makers to focus on a matter that has been marginalized in your own hometowns or illustrating to all within your local community and your global community the work that we all need to join hands to help with.

We are not as selfish as we think—do not let this attitude consume you. We are not a separate entity—we all share this earth. We may be sovereign nations but we cannot survive on our own—we are not self -sufficient. The problem is a global one—do we target the smaller picture, should we see the problems through a microcosmic lens and forget the bigger picture or should we view the entire portrait? Understanding the intricacies of this matter from the ground is just as important as viewing it holistically…and this is what we must not forget.

The root of the problems we face is not different but it may manifest itself differently across borders. The more we see world issues as our very own no matter how far apart our homes are….the more we will recognize the importance of working together to do our part. Let us put away paranoia, selfishness and skepticism and replace them with faithfulness, love and willingness to reach out for one with hopes of teaching one.

Is our heart’s desire to maintain a world system where it is ok to feed our middle classed homes while the neighbour just across the street is going two days without food or do we envision a world where there is no hunger and food security for all? This may seem utopian but this is not impossible.

I believe that some of the most virtuous values come as reactions that are the consequences of suffering. Maybe if we remember the values we were taught growing up from the ones who were directly oppressed and had no freedom and little will our world would be a happier place.

Speak YOUR truth and understand MY truth in love.