Monday, July 04, 2016

It is early here on my side of the mountain. The sky is a clear blue with only traces of color left behind from the early sunrise. From my view, I can see the sun filter through the tall trees that stand behind Old Wesley Chapel.
This chapel is very much a part of our history. The oldest grave planted in the small cemetery aside the old church that remains standing as it was is dated back to 1803. The Church remains because it is to remind us of our history.

 
Standing as it was, without plumbing, and even with a small outhouse in the rear part of the Church’s property; this place was visited by the men whose names are those on the documents that built this country. George Washington was here. Washington and his troops fought battles in my neck of the woods.
 
Yesterday, I walked along one of the nearby trails off Johnston Road. We made it up to a place known as The Lemon Squeezer, which is really a small cave.
In the days when as a country, we decided to form our own perfect union; that we should become our own government to be of the people, for the people, and by the people; we chose to revolt against the English and fight for our own land.
 
This place I tell you about called The Lemon Squeezer; this place is a part of that history. This is where men of that time and of this country would raid the English forts, steal their goods, and return here and hide the goods in this small cave.
 
I stood in this small rock formation under a clear blue sky and felt as if there was a presence with me. Imagine this: in a world before technology and before the comforts of simple things that you and I take for granted; in a time when everything was on the line, people lived here, bled here, and died here in order to cultivate the land and bear its fruit.
 
I am very respectful of my neighbor, The Methodist Church at Old Wesley Chapel. I walk its cemetery sometimes to visit the old graves as a symbol of respect.
Many of those in this cemetery have been lost in time. Their generation and family have either scattered, or their blood line has dwindled down to extinction. But these graves represent something more than the lives that once lived.
These graves are of men and women who in the infancy of this country, and in order to find life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, worked, bled for, and loved this country as if it were the same as loving God, Himself. I wonder what they would say if they saw this country now and what we’ve down with it.
 
I remember when we were small. I remember when I held a sparkler for the first time and watched the fiery sparks crackle and sizzle down a gray colored stick.
I remember the first 4th of July party, which I spent in a home of a family who was like family to me in a town called Brentwood, New York.
I ate watermelon for what seemed to be the first time. I remember it well. I remember the feeling in my mouth after biting down on the pinkish-red substance while holding a triangular green rind in my hands. I ate the watermelon and had fun spitting out the watermelon seeds. The juices from the fruit rolled down from the corners of my mouth. God, it was the best thing I ever tasted.
 
Not long after my moments with the sparklers, the watermelon, and the rest of the barbecued food; the sky turned to twilight. And no sooner did the sun go down did the sky light up with showers of explosions, color, and thundering fireworks to rage as celebration for this day.
 
Not forgetting the errors of our past and the lives so wrongfully treated and lost as we in our infancy made so many mistakes, and not to forget that we are still young, still growing, and still improving; this day was made possible for those who loved this land so much that they were willing to give all for it. Today is the day we celebrate our independence. (By the way, this was our Brexit) Today we celebrate a victory and the birth of you, our country.
 
Not far from where I live is a sign for one of the underground railroads. This is where slaves came from the south to arrive north with hopes to find their freedom.
I cannot say what this place was like at this time. I cannot say much about this history aside from the fact that I know it was here.
As a child, I made several drastic and terrible mistakes. As a country in its childhood, our nation has also made its share of drastic and terrible mistakes.
However, I say this to you with all my heart. Of all who complain about this country and of all who claim injustice; how many of them have the willingness to work, bleed, and give all they have to their last ounce in order to cultivate the land the same as our early settlers have?
 
I listened to a man stand on a podium outside 42nd Street and complain about the police. He complained about the abuse in his community. He stood and shouted about his freedoms, which of course, he has the right to do. Whether his complaints are agreed upon or disagreed; whether he screamed for justice righteously or selfishly to stand in front of a crowd and say, “I told them all,” I wondered has this man bled, worked, and given everything he has so that in order to form a more perfect union; his people and their future would have the best life imaginable?
 
I once knew a man that went to methadone clinics to help others find a better life. He worked the prison system because in his words, “I’m tired of seeing my people kill themselves.”
This was a great man. He did not and would not allow anyone to limit him. His name was Mathias. He was the strongest man I ever met.
Mathias never complained or explained. He simply set his sights and took action. This is why Mathias was a great man. And though while I was lost in my own ignorance of racial difference; Mathias showed me a kindness I never dared to show anyone else.
 
Strangely, no one ever hears about men like Mathias. He was a hero of mine with skin as black dark ebony. Mathias had a heart stronger than steal and a love for mankind unlike anyone I ever met.
“You can’t complain about the life you have,” Mathias told me.
“You have to work hard and get the life you want.”
“There’s always going to be someone against you. There’s always going to be someone telling you why you can’t do something.”
Mathias told me, “Son, you cannot listen to those people. All you are to them is a threat. And if you weren’t, then why would they try to stop you from being a success.”
 
We have become a strange society. Opposite of the oppressed are the gifted and spoiled, and regretfully, I admit to my involvement in this.
I have met so many throughout my years who believed they were entitled as a result of their skin color, background or wealth of inheritance. 
I have listened to the absolute spoiled say things like,“Do you know who I am?” as if this had any true meaning in the world
They complain, “Do you know who my family is?” to get what they want as if their needs are more important than anyone else.
 
Then there are those who try so hard to play the role; they pose for their positions and act as if they are the wealthy. They are the wannabe rock stars of our plastic society. Of all I learned, I have learned from my own mistakes as well as the observation of this: There is no wealth worse than mistaken wealth. I am not rich by any means; however, in my poorest of times of bankruptcy, I had more than when I sat in first class seats or in five star restaurants.
 
Why is it we as a country find people like this more newsworthy and men like my friend Mathias go on unnoticed?
As a country, we need to go through a correction. We need to address our priorities. But corrections take time. I just wonder how much time we have . . .
I wonder how long either side will complain until they realize there is work to be done. There is terrorism here. There are those who wish to end us as a civilization. Instead of blaming and pointing fingers, isn’t it time we secure ourselves and make the changes that need to be made. Some say it’s a weapons thing. Is it? I understand weapons area tool, but what is a tool without the hand that uses it? If it is simply a weapons issue, then would the hate issue disperse of weapons were gone? I am starting to wonder when we as a country will deal with the sickness instead of the symptoms. I have a child. I’m a Dad . . . the last thing  want my daughter to inherit is the problems of a spoiled generation. 
 
I have come to the understanding that my community needs improvement. In a sense of civic responsibility; I realize that complaining about these changes is not working.
Rather than talk about them—I choose to show action. Action is what creates change. Action is what stops an oppressor. Or in my case, action is what stops those who would otherwise impose on our community.
Action is what makes changes. Action has helped me on garbage day. With regards to sanitation, my cans and the cans on my block are retrieved from their spot and placed back in a neatly way. Action has kept some of the grass maintained near the side of the road. Since I have a network of government and I pay taxes; I have decided to exercise my rights as a homeowner and demand solutions to my community issues.
 
I believe in a neighborhood watch. I believe in those who live together should care for, protect, and maintain their properties. I believe this because if one homeowner prospers; so will his neighbor.
Above all, I believe in dignity. I believe in pride of ownership, which is a lesson I need to learn more about. I too have my share of laziness and struggles with complacency. But those who built this country were not allowed to be lazy. Those who built the underground railroad were the furthest thing from lazy.
So if I want to say I love my land, my people, and I love my community—then I am not allowed to be lazy either.
 
It is beautiful where I live. I have mountains and trees. I have long winding roads, tall hills, and perfect vistas that overlook large fields that wave with tall grass. I have a quiet neighborhood with its own government and mayor. I was offered to interview for a spot on the town’s zoning committee. However, I am not cut out for politics. That’s not for me . . .
 
I moved here in order to form a more perfect union so that I could find my place in this world and enjoy my share of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
 
America, I have listened to so many bash this nation. Admittedly, we are in a strange time. There is too much tension and there are too many wrongs we need to cover. There are too many sides and too many opinions on how to deal with the problems at hand. There are the left wing ideas that blame the right wing—then of course are the right wing that blame the left. But to them I ask, what about the middle? What about the heart of this country? What about those who simply want to live, love, and cultivate this land to bear its fruit.
 
America, you 238 years-old today. I wonder if our dedication to you now is anywhere as equal to the dedication that was shown to you then.
 
America, I know you as the body are hurting from what we as your source have been feeding you. I know that there are those who question you, and worse, I know there are those who would attempt to destroy you. If allowed, there are those who would like to rip apart the seams of your flag. They would love to tear you from your red, white, and blue and punish us citizens for believing in every stitch of your very fabric.
 
It is morning. Today is your birthday, and soon I will open some watermelon. I will light the fuse to create my own celebration of noise and sparkles. When night comes, I will enjoy the display of explosions and colors that burst in the air.
 
America, I love you with all my heart. And though there are some who will abandon or deny you; I will always remember, I never surrender, and I will always believe that united we stand, but divided we fall.
 
To those reading—
Enjoy your 4th!
To those troubled or in consideration of my words, if you see something that needs to be fixed in your society—don’t complain about it. Fix it. Dig in and get your hands dirty. Do not let us lose to spoilage.
We cannot complain about the life we have
We have to work hard to get the life we want.
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