Monday, March 17, 2014

What are we waiting for?

So I want to start of with some statistics. In 2013, the average American income was just a bit more than $51,000 a year. Down from $58,000 in 1999. As I'm sure you've all heard, the 'middle class' is disappearing. The rich get richer, as more and more Americans live in poverty. According to the US census bureau there are about 50 million Americans living I poverty today. They define poverty as family of four who makes less than $23,000 a year, which comes out as about $450 a week, or one person who makes just under $12,000 a year. Again, you probably have heard these numbers before. Then there are statistics like this, which again, I'm sure you've heard. 

Last year golfer Tiger Woods made $78,000,000. That's right seventy eight million, to play a game. In Major League Baseball, the top five teams alone spend almost $900,000,000 on their payroll. Just to play a game. And that doesn't include the other 25 teams. Then you have football, basketball, the list goes on and on. Not to mention the movie and television industry. 

Now here's some things I'll bet you didn't know. 40 percent of the worlds population, or about 2.8 BILLION people live on less than $2 dollars a day. That's right. Almost half the worlds population couldn't take a days wages and walk into McDonald's and buy a 'happy meal'. Another interesting fact. There are 27,000,000 people living in slavery today. More than any other time in history. In Calcutta, a woman can be purchased out of slavery for between the equivalent of $200-2000 in American dollars. In other words if the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox used one tenth of their annual payroll to buy women out of the sex trade, instead of paying self indulgent arrogant men like A-Rod to play baseball, they could buy at least 45,000 women out of the sex trade. More than enough to fill Fenway Park. 

The fact of the matter is, Americans have it pretty darn good. People ask, 'Why does God allow famine?' Or 'Why does he allow war?' The truth is, God gave us everything we need on this planet. He also gave us free will. So the fact that we're willing to pay an adulterous golfer $78,000,000 a year while half the worlds population lives on a tiny percentage of that is not God's fault, it's ours. You've heard that guns don't kill people, people with guns do. People with guns also start wars. Don't blame it on god because man has managed to take our natural resources and use them to destroy our fellow man. There is enough food and water on earth to feed every single man woman and child 2500 calories a day. 

As Americans we consume on average 100 gallons of water per person, per day. Every day. Meanwhile there are people who walk miles to get water. And yes I know it's expensive to transport water to the desert, but if we're willing to pay men billions of dollars to play a game, why aren't we willing to pay that to ship food and water to those who need it? In Scottsdale where I live, I see Porsches, BMWs, Bentleys, you name it. People are willing to spend $100,000 on a freaking car! Then we sing feel good songs like 'Imagine' and 'Waiting On World To Change'. Here it is in a nutshell. You can imagine there's no heaven all you want, that don't make it so. And the Bible says it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. And if you're reading this, on a cell phone, a laptop, compared to a large percentage of the world, you are a rich person, whether you believe it or not. And we can keep waiting on the world to change as long as we like, but it won't. Not as long as our priorities are so skewed that we're willing to pay criminals millions of dollars just because they shoot a good jump shot.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It's just not the same

My wife and I have lived in Arizona for about a month now, and we love it here. Before we moved, people warned us "It's a part of the Bible Belt" and "Expect a lot of racism" Our experience so far has been quite the opposite. The people seem friendly, and as a bi-racial couple, we don't seem to get treated different than anyone else. But unless you've been living under a rock for the past month, I'm sure you've heard about legislation that was proposed here to allow businesses to turn away homosexual couples based on their religious beliefs. After contemplation, and immense pressure from the public, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the law, so as of now it is dead.

I want to start by saying that I think discrimination for any reason is wrong, and I think everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their racial background, religious beliefs (or lack thereof) or who the choose to marry or go to bed with at night. But when I read the news coverage and the opinion pieces on this law, I always hear it compared to the Jim Crow era and the civil rights movement. And to be frank, that pisses me off.

Blacks were brought here from Africa and sold as property. After the Civil War when they were 'emancipated' certain states systematically enacted laws to reduce them to second class citizens. Things we take for granted today like bathrooms and drinking fountains were reserved for whites. No niggers allowed. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Basically signing a piece of paper stating the the United States officially saw blacks as people instead of property. And with that was supposed to come the constitutional rights of 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. Instead blacks were marginalized, disrespected and abused. Simply for the color of their skin. And here's something they don't teach in history class. On average between the when the civil war ended in 1865 and 1932 there was a black man, woman, or child lynched once a week, every week. Now fast forward to 1954, when a group of students has to appeal to the Supreme Court to go to school, because the "Separate but equal" schools they'd been forced to attend we're overcrowded and literally falling apart. The following year. Rosa Parks was arrested in Alabama for not giving up her seat on a bus. I'm sure you know all of this already because we're fortunate enough to learn it during the insult that is 'Black History Month'.

 So here's my question. How many gay only schools are there? How many people have been lynched for being homosexual over the course of the last 60, 80, 100 years? Do you think it's anywhere near 2000? Is anyone denied the right to vote in America today because they're gay? How about 'Straight only' restaurants, bathrooms and water fountains? Are gays discriminated against in America today? Yes they are. But if you think that Blacks aren't, try being one of ten black kids walking through the hall in Fairport High School and count how many times you get called nigger. Or walk through the mall with your wife who isn't black and see how many dirty looks you get. And how many black males are arrested and incarcerated compared to any other demographic? But those things are nothing compared to what the men and women before me went through.

People died so I could marry whomever I choose. Men and women had fire hoses and dogs turned on them so I could vote. There is a difference between discrimination and persecution. There is a difference between discrimination and segregation. Homosexuality is more accepted in America today than any time in our country's history, and when people use what people like Rosa Parks went through to further their political position, that minimizes what they did, and it is offensive. And make no mistake about it, it is purely political. There is no shortage of businesses that would be happy to provide their services to a gay couple who is getting married, or adopting a child. So if you have other options, why would you want to give your money to someone who clearly is against what you are? Because if they refuse to serve you because of your sexuality, you can go on TV and talk about how hateful religious people are. I am a husband, I am a heterosexual, I am a Christian, I am black. If I knew of a business that refused to serve any demographic, I'd simply take my business elsewhere. That is, of course unless I was trying to draw attention to the fact that this business was choosing to serve certain people and not others. There's more to this than can fit in one post, so I'll save the rest for my next entry.