After The Storm, Rainbows

Rainbow after Storm

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Sorry for not posting as soon as I got back August 21st. I’ve been busy, busy, busy following up on all the contacts I made in the weekend I rocked New York!!!

But I do want to write a few words to remember September 11 with something positive.

It seems even before the election of Barack Obama that America was in the process of splitting into two separate, bitterly divided nations trapped within a common border, like we’re choosing up sides for the next Civil War. This process seemed to intensify in the ten months since Trump’s election.

But then came the monster storms Harvey and Irma, and in the face of crisis we’re seeing something else, something beautiful. Thousands of Americans began rushing toward the disaster areas in boats, jet skis, kayaks, whatever they could use to pick up the stranded, the flooded out—the papers are calling it “America’s ‘Dunkirk’”. Others packed up trucks and buses with tons of food and water and started driving south. Owners of stores and warehouses opened up their places of business as makeshift shelters. Even up here in Hammond, my buddy Tony tells me of locals calling and coming in to the Library seeking ways they could go down there to help.

And even before Irma hit, people as far north as Maryland were headed for the islands in the Caribbean, bringing labor and supplies to help the residents brace as best they could for the storm. First responders from across the nation are marshaling to start providing rescue and relief as soon as weather permits. Meanwhile, neighboring states, even Harvey-rocked Texas, are taking in people fleeing Irma.

Under the deluge, differences between “red state” and “blue state,” “liberal” and “conservative,” “legal citizen” and “illegal alien” seem to wash away, leaving just good people trying to help hurting people as best they could, not bothering to check voting records or green cards to see if they “deserve” it.

What’s happening down there is horrible, no doubt; and there are fears we could see more like this as the ocean warms; but how we are responding, right now, is utterly beautiful—a rainbow in the storm.

How can I help?

Tony made up this quick list of Web sites to visit to find ways to help.  He offers these two pieces of advice, which is what they’re recommending at the Library:

1) There’s lots of stuff that needs done right here. If you want to volunteer to help, look first to local aid groups that need volunteers;

2) If you want to send assistance to survivors of Harvey and Irma, cash (money) is the most useful thing you can send. A large portion of donated materials must be thrown out as not usable or suitable. Money can be used to buy anything.

Disaster Relief Links:

FEMA—[How To] Volunteer & Donate Responsibly
https://www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly?utm_source=hp_promo&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=miscellaneous

FEMA—How to Volunteer for Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief
https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/09/09/how-volunteer-hurricane-irma-disaster-relief

The American Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org/

Habitat for Humanity
https://www.habitat.org/

The United Way
http://www.unitedway.org/

The Humane Society of the United States
http://www.humanesociety.org/

For more disaster relief organizations, check the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
https://www.nvoad.org/

Peace,

Dennis

#Selma50

In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher – met on this bridge.

It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America.

March 7, 1965. I was three.

Six hundred people arrived in Selma, AL, to walk to Montgomery to protest lawful American citizens being deprived of their birthright, as defined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Selma to Montgomery Marchers

The county sheriff enforcement calls out all able-bodied white men over 21 to be deputized and armed.

Bloody Sunday--Officers Await Demonstrators

The protesters are unarmed, orderly, and determined.

Selma to Montgomery Marches

State and local police and posse meet them at the Edward Pettus Bridge, armed and empowered to use everything short of gunfire to stop the protesters.

…[T]hey were called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse – everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism was challenged.

And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place?

Law Enforcement’s response is anything but orderly.

Bloody Sunday--Alabama police attack

The carnage was caught on camera, and displayed before a shocked America, to our shame and disgust.

But the men with badges who wielded those batons, that fired tear gas, that ran down unarmed people with horses, did not have the final word.

We March with Selma

There are times the American public speaks with one voice, a loud and clear voice. After “Bloody Sunday,” it said, “No more.”

Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished. But we are getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect. But we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge.

Quotes from President Barack Obama’s address March 7, 2015 in Selma, AL. Images from Wikimedia Commons.

Farewell to a Hero

He faced life with a smile.

Image Removed for Review

He overcame adversity with hope.

 

He took triumph with humility.

He met everybody like a friend.

By ScottRAnselmo at the English language Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

In life, Ernie Banks was every bit the person I’d like to be.

Picture credits:
Top image by my buddy and artist Tony Harris, from the following material:
“Ernie Banks, ‘Mr. Cub’ (1931-2015) — Wrigley Field Chicago (IL) April 2012” by Ron Cogswell from Flickr:https://www.flickr.com/photos/22711505@N05/6939785562
“299_9923” by David from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc/104008412
“Great Moments in Chicago Cubs Baseball! With Jack Brickhouse:” by By Kevin Dooley from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/2836737561
Two images by Baseball Collection from Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/baseballcollection/6134418282
https://www.flickr.com/photos/baseballcollection/6134406372

Banks Exhibit by arctic_whirlwind from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/antciardiello/7750066422.

Presidential Medal of Freedom Video from the White House on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zT68sF6AMs

Photo of Ernie Banks by Scott R. Anselmo from Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ernie_Banks.JPG

How to Give a Damn, Part 2

This is part two of a mini-series inspired by “Mind Maps, Example 4—How to Give a Damn” from That’s Smart!: How to Improve Learning Habits, Second Edition, available as an eBook next week!

Mind Map 4 Preview

I approached my new mind map from the perspective of a wall covered with positive, life-affirming sayings—phrases, sayings, teachings I learned from my life and my parents, friends, and strangers. When I finished it, I made an enlarged copy and posted it on my wall as a defense from “hater” thinkers who try to convince me, however directly or subtly, that I can’t make my dreams come true or that things will never change.

Ain’t that right. You see, when you’re aware of the value of your life it makes you less susceptible to con games on a broad scale. Meaning con games in your life, love, faith, business and other life aspects. It teaches you to instinctively trust your inner truth about what is right—or not right—for you and others. It’s about being true to yourself and sidestepping what may be delusional or fake.

What makes mind maps so powerful is that you’re brainstorming on your own instead of in a group, writing your thoughts down in a free flowing style, without judging, letting all your thoughts flow—the good, the bad, the ugly—about whatever comes to mind about your topic. You can come up with solutions, perspectives and approaches that can solve problems, and potentially make for better life choices.

I think my efforts at work stemmed from the feeling that I didn’t want to work in an environment where nobody—no one—gave a damn. Where no one cared. That is just something that would not work for me. This became a personal exercise to try mind mapping on a subject that kept bugging me:

How can you get people to care about others if they themselves were not seemingly affected, or if there appeared to be no direct consequences to their own lives?

How can one get someone to have a conscience—care and respect for all human-related things and gain a perspective beyond their own, narrow borders for a wider view? To see the big picture of how we—and all living things—are connected?

I won’t say it was easy.

I won’t say it wasn’t damn frustrating at times.

I will say: after five years I started a “bandwagon” of caring about our fellow workers—our “family”—our “team.” And it has made for a far better work environment for us, for our management, and our visitors.

So I hope this episode from my life proves once again, “One Person Can Make a Difference.”

(image created by Omar Noory)

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