Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Vietnam Vet's Reflections on Iraq from, "I, Too, Can Create Light"

"War is God's Way, You Say?"

    I remember hearing it for the first time in Officer's Candidate School, 1967,
    "War is God's way."  It seemed ridiculous, even to me, then, bereft of any conscious spirituality.  As degraded as I was, I still, religiously, said a quick prayer before meals - although I had given up praying before bed. 
    "War is God's way, and we are doing God's will fighting Communism!"
    That premise left a lot of villages smouldering, sanctified millions of murders, justified tearing up a whole country's infrastructure - but, not for the Vietnamese...  nor the Koreans, or, the Iraqis, or, the Afghans, and, ultimately, but hopefully not, the Iranians, for that matter. 
    As Americans we have been convinced that killing hundreds of thousands of people in war can be for their own good, no matter what the people themselves think. And, at the same time we're convinced it's good for today's economy. 
    We're, also, convinced that we are close (within this generation) of Yaum al Kiyama, or The End of Time, and, thus, the beginning of The Judgement. Personally, I prefer to fear the eminence of The Judgement, so that it makes me pray often, and curtails my moral weakness, daily. I certainly want to refrain from committing or complicity in any murder.
     Nor do I  think that I am, necessarily, that special in the aeons of time, that my lifetime deserves to  be the period of The Judgement,  for good or bad reasons.
    But, I do think that this, seemingly spiritual belief,  is used as a copout these days for expecting America to be a perpetually warring country.  We believe it is the end of time, and we are so special that He has sanctioned (if not, sanctified) our perpetually killing millions for their own good. It's God's Way  of keeping the economy (or something important) sound.
    I believe that on The Day of Judgement God will take into consideration how many people were, "justly",  killed on both sides when judging Presidents and those who supported their deadly decisions with hand or heart.  
    Therefore, I want no part of the massacres in Vietnam.  I confess it as a sin that I am trying to repent for supporting but not committing, and the commission of which I surely can not support in the future (Iran), the present (Iraq and Afghanistan), or the past (Korea).


    I do not believe that we are so close to Judgement that we can not have societies that do not war in our lifetime.  We must wean ourselves from the "War Is God's Way"/It's Good for our economy and what's good for us is good for the world philosophy; it's obviously Satanic.

    The computer has leveled the playing field; we need not fight each other over knowledge, or even the world's resources.  Allah has blessed this planet with enough to go around.
    We should believe that with the preponderance of Spiritual knowledge in Quran, Bible, and other Scripture that our world has been blessed with and the access to virtually every human being for the first time we could create a Spiritual planet, and indeed a planet without war.
    The interpretation of Holy Scripture that necessitates humans being in conflict incessantly is a ruse to keep the most powerful and one time most loved and respected country doing the Devil's work, proudly, using the best of the new technology to refine mere murder. 
    I do not know for how long we could sustain a war less society,  but at least for the rest of this century, even the millennium, for that matter. There will be no more scripture but the potent scripture that we have is being read, understood and applied at astounding rates and levels.  It bodes well for our future generations. I believe that we are at a crossroads in history. Allah's word is soon to be read and heard by every human being. Let us vye with one another in doing good. The wisest among us will put their efforts in line with spreading knowledge to those in need.  God's Work.  Who is to say that when everyone has access to fulfill himself spiritually, they won't make the planet better?
    I do not want to deter anyone in any religion from fearing the end of time and modifying their sinful behavior accordingly, but, to believe that you are about to stand in That Rank to face Our Creator as a President or a Priest or just a plain good ol' boy like the ones I served with in Vietnam, and think that Allah (God) will not hold you accountable for all the millions of murders that we, Americans,  have been convinced were "God's Way" in the last 60 years is as arrogant as believing your puny lifetime is worthy of being "The One".

Sunday, September 11, 2011

(If  All African Americans Suddenly Became Productive, We Have the Power to Turn Around the Whole World Economy)

The average African American man should have  3 jobs;  one, undoubtedly, should be working for himself, selling whatever skill he has. This may or may not pay, immediately, but faith and perseverance guarantee that this will be the most fruitful work (if it is legitimate) of his life.  Next, he needs a "good job" with benefits, hopefully, doing something that benefits mankind and provides for his family.  Then, a man needs a part time hustle.  This can be creative:  refereeing, coaching, selling, or even going  to school for the long term payoff.  
If any of these jobs ends, one must be immediately about finding a suitable replacement and volunteer to work in our families or our communities in the interim.  
Even ex-convicts should have these 3 jobs or be pursuing them.  We should no longer be picky about work.  "Chillin'" should become a pejorative.  If we are resting it should be reviving from work before we go back to work.  
Let us postpone or call off completely the psychological war for what we feel owed and lead this country back to work.  Our communities should stay painted and swept.  Our schools should be overrun with volunteers.  
Let us vie with our Latino neighbors to outdo each other in good works, charitable deeds.  Let us breathe life into the work ethic among our youth.  Let them catch our spirit and begin to believe that their work is necessary and important.
Let us outwork the Asians, most of whom make astonishing commitments to making businesses or careers successful.  We can out work them in and out of the classroom.  
Let us put an end to illiteracy among our people.  Let us instill a tradition of literacy for all of our people as a matter of course. Let us create a curriculum of literature that is as pervasive in African American homes as Michael Jackson's classics, but empowering and more powerfully  positive. 
One of the greatest enervators in our community is closet (because no one admits to it) illiteracy, reading  at 5th grade level or below.  It forces much of African American economy into black market business, illicit, often, illegal endeavors.
They lack the words, the legitimate thoughts and ideas that come from reading. 

I propose a basic curriculum  of 3 compelling books that will guarantee functional literacy, at birth, and shape legitimate values for our  traditionally illiterate brothers and sisters without hurting their delicate pride.  Let these be books that we all  read  and understand as well as we do  the messages in "Billie Jean" or "Thriller", et al.

Of course, it will be difficult, but only after difficulty comes ease.  It we want to be a great people, once again, we must take on great challenges. Let us get back to WORK!

Adultery (10 years into the 3rd Millennium)

Men are hardwired for infidelity, especially in cultures that prohibit polygamy.  I remembeer when Sheikh Ahmed Deedat was debating Jimmy Swaggert and commented that he admired Swaggert for his faithfulness to only one woman, his wife, and Swaggert bragged about his self restraint, implying Christianity's spiritual superiority in marriage.  But, Swaggert was exposed in a nasty cause celebre with a woman other than his wife within a year.
Today, men are tantalized from the time they get up (aroused subconsciously) until they go back to sleep, constantly stimulated by sex being sold to them by billboards, busty news anchorwomen and amply endowed pitch women for every legitimate and illegitimate need sold to him in what has become an inescapable mass media miasma.
If a man is merely intellectually, rationally, determined not to cheat, time, work, and his environment will compromise his willpower.
No, men are much more likely to be like Wilt Chamberlain(philanderers) than A.C. Green (chaste until marriage), morally.  With very few exceptions the criteria for masculine fidelity is his spiritual understanding.  If he does not have a mature committed understanding of his duty to Allah, he will, inevitably, break his vows to his woman.  
Men have been conditioned to sublimate their conscience, therefore feelings of regret are misunderstood.  How could something as gratifying as conquest be weakness when so many other men whom he admires would love to be able to have her?  The pangs of conscience make men even more angry and frustrated at their women and feel justified in scratching the itch in l'affair de coeures. It is a self perpetuating curse.
Unless men come from generations of fidelity  which are generally associated with strong religious traditions - Muslims, Jews, Catholics, etc., they are more likely to be promiscuous than pristine.  And, those who confess themself Muslim, Jew, Catholic, etc. who do not practice are equally susceptible.  
If a man wants to fulfill himself as a human being, traditionally, he has had the love and support of a mate and offspring, (at least 2 to replace himself and his wife) that he provided for and protected until death did them part.   Usually, as men age and their proximity to the Hereafter gives them more Spiritual Acuity, they realize that Adultery is a great and horrible sin for all the generations to come of people who are weakened by its insidious tradition/stain and, Islamically, it can be punishable by Death (by stoning).  Sharia, Islamic law, does not  regard Adulterers lightly like our American society.  It is a huge sin that you should do many many good deeds to try and blot out.  Adulterers can be punished like murderers. 
The passion that fuels Adultery is not defueled easily. The rational mind and the tongue may commit, but the animal instincts are usually stronger.
Therefore, to deprogram adultery one must have a deterrent stronger than anything material.   The person must become a Spiritual Being.  One must literally fear the Hell Fire.  And, you must study much to understand why you Believe; the benefits are here and to your Everlasting Soul.
By the time you have devolved into Adultery you have to be more committed than a drug addict to doing what you must do to get well.  You have to make Niyyah, strong intention, because you are going to be severely tested in your Faith and Resolve.  But , then, again you may not have  the Resolve.  You can make a lot of promises to your family and yourself as a mode d'assujettisement and then have your cake and eat it too...  until the next time.
Essentially, it's time to grow up.  The last stage of Human Development is the Spiritual Man/Woman.  Like the Mental Stage you must want it to attain it.  And, the more you study and practice like every other human being that had this earthly existence, the more you will understand and benefit.  But, you will no longer be naive about the residual effects of your sinful actions, and if you read Al Quran, it will deter you.  
That is one of the reasons Muslims say Marriage is over half of The Religion. Sexual Restraint is part of the Big Jihad.  The Continuous "Struggle" for your Soul. "Of the things permitted Divorce is most hated in the eyesight of Allah."  Divorce's effects are more often worse than death on children, and whole lineages.
We as Black men suffering for a lack of a truthful tradition in Marriage, must make a generational sacrifice as a strategy to survive and eventually thrive  in this zeitgeist that makes divorce fairseeming and relationships almost impossible.  We must Vow to never cheat and cheapen our Marriages,  if anything it will be the exception and not the rule.  It is so much more important than the physical or material traditions..  Adultery is the most common mortal blow to Marriage and, the Death Knell to Traditions that have been established for generations.  You and probably  generations with your "DNA will die ignorant to their Nature and unfulfilled.
True fulfillment comes when you know you managed to keep your lifetime commitment to your wife, your children, and most importantly to your God! Then, we can transcend sustained and soothed in the confidence that we have done what we were created for.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Howard Univ. Daze

Howard Daze

I was one of the few N*gg*s at Howard University, and I was living foul. I was so foul that I was a minor celebrity. I was known best for my dirty hat that crowned my dirty body and clothes. But, what my hat symbolized was my dirty mind which manifested itself in my dirty mouth. I was fascinated with every degrading endeavor. I was, in fact, a filthy influence on everyone who came into my circle, and I took great pride in my devilishness.
These are all memories that I have kept hidden for over 40 years since I stopped being a N*GG* by the grace and mercy of Allah. I came to Howard University in 1962 on full scholarship, prepping to be a first generation bourgeois Negro, but my parents were both fatherless, and comfortable on Vine Street in Kansas City's night clubs and street life and proud of it, although they yearned to be middle class.
I left Kansas City, 9th in my class at the famous all colored Lincoln High, with a pledge to my street friends: "To be a N*GG* wherever I go and whatever I do, till I die or go blind."
"Donnie, you gonna stop being a N*GG* when you go up there to Howard?"
"Can a blind hog see it's a--?" was my oft repeated and often slurred toast before I hopped a train to Washington D.C.
My sendoff was not emotional. My daddy took me to the train station and put me on the train. My Pops probably shook my hand, but I know I didn't look him in the eye. I felt too guilty. I had broken every rule. I was a burgeoning alcoholic, inveterate womanizer, wanton cigarrette smoker, liar, gambler, and cheat, but highly regarded in Metropolitan Kansas City for various academic or artistic accomplishments. There were a lot of people expecting me to be a leader for our people, and I had a lot to prove.
There were so many forces pulling at me that I was tense, 17, small (5'6", 102 lbs.), wanting to be tough, trying to be slick, but scared.

The train stopped in St. Louis, and a gangly colored boy got on laughing and talking with his friend. They had obviously been sent off in a fashion completely unlike my dour departure. They were dressed in expensive pull over cashmere sweaters and had brand new Samsonite luggage, but they were extremely friendly.
"You going to Howard, too?" I guess it was a question, but there was a challenge and acceptance simultaneously that struck me.
I began to feel more confident and happy about the trip.
"My name's Donald. I got on this train in Kansas City," I said, standing up to shake hands as I had been drilled.
"Then you from Kansas City, not from no little country town around Kansas City?" Said Lawrence (Scook) Fellows, and thus began a friendship that is dear to me even today.
"Naw, I'm not. I'm out of Lincoln High School," Kansas City, Missouri. The big Kansas City, not Kansas."
"Yeh, there's two of 'em, ain't they?" Horace (Candy) Johnson, the tall kid that I had seen first was full of himself and proud of it. His comment bore no respect. It was more, 'Eureka! I had an epiphany or something'. Scook and I would come to call him "Dumb", "Big Dumb" Not that he was that dumb (he has a Masters degree from Pepperdine, today), but a little dumb was a lot at Howard, and people were quick to point out the dumb things you did or said, and Horace tended to do and say a lot of dumb stuff.

For instance, he wanted to be partners in crime with Scook and me, but he didn't want to be seen with us because we were N*GG*S, and proud of it. Social outcasts.
Well, Horace flunked the placement tests with his dumb self, and we were up on the 5th floor in Drew Hall outside of his room reading our class schedules, when these guys were talking about Chemistry and Honors English, Sociology with Dr. Hare, etc.
Horace, the Tulsa high school football star, still deluded about his lack of intelligence, blurted out, "What's this Rem uh dee ul Reading? I don't need no Rem uh dee ul Reading." Of course, all three of us were straightway labeled "country" and relegated to a subhuman status.
It took me about 3 months and I had to grow about 4 inches, but I eventually got my respect. First with the intellectuals. I spoke Standard English and admired polysyllabic speech. I was loud but could turn a phrase because I had prepped as a sportswriter for the Kansas City Call Newspaper.
I had interviewed Rafer Johnson after the 1960 Olympics, and discussed the arrival of Wilt Chamberlain at the University of Kansas with Dowdell Davis, the managing editor before his untimely demise. I had grown accustomed to winning arguments with sports writers and sports connoisseurs in the newsroom, the sportsbox at the University of Missouri football stadium, in pool halls, barbershops, and bowling alleys, usually with the facts in statistics, or quotes from newspapers and magazines that I was allowed to inhale in the newsroom at The Call under the vigilant eye of Ms. Lucille Bluford, the sagacious editor.
I was beginning to realize that I could hold an audience in the palm of my hand, formally and informally.
We congregated in our dormitory rooms, cafeterias, bars, and cafes, and we talked about everything. "What about the atom bomb? See, if Castro doesn't back down, tomorrow, we're all going to die and go to Hell."
"Can I get your meal ticket?" I was being funny and serious at the same time. I had sold my meal ticket when I conjured up this scheme to make some quick cash, but I had forgotten about buying food for the rest of the month. It was the 28th of October, and I was hungry as a character in a Richard Wright novel.
"I mean, we all gonna die, Cleve, but what if I live? Me and the cafeteria lady. And, she's got all this food and nobody to give it to 'cause all y'all are dead. The atom bomb done killed all of y'all. And, I go over to the cafeteria, snow blowing in my face..."
"Don't forget the fallout," Scook chimes in.
"Thanks John Scooker. Yeh, through the black snow and the fallout... and the cafeteria lady can't feed me because I don't have a damn meal ticket."
"You going over to the cafeteria, Baker? Bring me somethin' back, said Big Dumb Horace who I'm starting to respect a little more, but not much.
"I'm just telling Mr. Student Nonviolent over here that if he wants to do something to help Negroes so much, he need to give me his meal ticket. Sh-t, I ain't ate in days. The hell with the atomic bomb."
"You're a lie, and your breath stink," screamed Scook, jumping down from his bunk. This N*GG* lying. I saw you with a whole bunch of candy bars, coming out the vending machine room, this morning. Baker, you stealing and you lying. You a liar and a thief, and your drawers got dooky stains in 'em." Scook was exposing me to Cleve Sellers, a very serious kid, who lived down the hall on the 5th floor and was seriously pondering lending me his meal ticket.
"Baker ain't hungry; he's bummin' cigarrettes and money off everybody in Drew Hall, and he's got something going on in that vending machine room because I caught his broke ass coming out of there with more candy than you can shake a stick at, twice."
"Aren't you splibs scared the whole world is going to blow up tomorrow? Kennedy's going to push the button. The whole damn world is going to end. The Russians are going to push their button, and that's going to be it. ICBM's are going to destroy every major city in America and Russia, and the fallout and radiation is going to contaminate the rest of the world. The sun is going to turn cold, and..."
"Will somebody give Cleve a drink? He's starting to mess with my high."
"You don't never wanna talk about sh-t, K.C. You just wanna act like it's not even going on." Cleve seemed to sincerely pity my lack of sophistication, but his hand snaked out for the bottle.
"How'd you get a bottle of whiskey up here in Drew Hall? You know it's against the rules. You gon' have G.T. up here screaming."
"Let him scream. You said tomorrow was going to be the end of the world. I ain't worried about a damn dorm check."
That was my problem. I wasn't worried about anything, anymore, but how I was going to eat and get a drink, not necessarily in that order. I was doing what my mama called, "dissipating", an apt term. I was borrowing money with no intent of repaying; I hung out in all the campus pool halls, and I was looking for an easy mark on the pool tables or in a dice game. I wanted to play you for the fun and cheat you for the adventure. I had successfully employed one of my street ploys of stopping up the coin returns in the vending machines, then using my carefully crafted coat hanger to recover the backed up change, and I was dabbling in stealing food when I ran into Clyde McCutcheon, a kid from D.C. or who seemed very familiar with the city, and who admired my pool shooting skills.
"K.C., come on up to the Admin. building with me. I'm going to get a job."
"What kinda job? I'm too pretty to be gettin' dirty." I joked.
"You dirty, already. That hat is so dirty you should leave it outside when you go to eat." He knew like I knew that he, like most people, were jealous of my hat. "No, this is a good job, doing surveys."
I was still skeptical, but the job turned out to be fabulous. I made as much as $33/hour, sometimes. I was rollin' in the dough in about a week. There was no supervision. We just went down on K street and got a big stack of surveys from this office, took them downtown and asked people questions about Wilkins Coffee. Then, we took the completed surveys back and got paid 60 cents a survey.
We threw a mega party at my partners' Mackus and The Boys apartment off campus. The glass in the door to the lobby was out and I pushed through as though it was there, stumbled, then fell through the door in the lobby of the apartment building. I was carrying a bag full of liquor, but, somehow, I fell but managed not to drop the liquor. I had made such a commotion, however, that everybody in the lobby marveled that I was not bleedig. But, Horace laughed.
"You won't believe what happened to Baker when we were coming back from the liquor store. The N*gg* fell through the door with all the drinks in his hand. The N*gg* can't see worth nothin'. Thick as them glasses he wearin', he can't see the glass is out in the front door."
"Looked like clear glass to me."
"That N*gg* tripped and skipped and flipped..." cacophonous laughter.
"But, did I save the alcohol? That's 'cause I'm cool, cool as Jerry Butler and Jackie Wilson, too."
Though none of my peers seemed to appreciate my approximations of the soul singers at the Howard Theater's routines, it never inhibited my determination to practice my would be craft.
"Yay, yay, yay, I want the world to know. That is why. That's why I love you so. That is why... turn the music up."
I loved to party, though dancing was my dilemma. It was considered a family anomaly that I could not dance. I always froze up or I was mechanical and got bored one minute into the song.
My body was growing proudly and gangly in only a matter of months. I gloried in my emancipation from being short, and I let it all hang out. Scook (who danced even worse than me) and I, had recently and emphatically given up on graduation, and were running wild. Scook was even wilder than me when he got drunk and the Indian came out in him.
Sometimes, I had to hang with one of the only kids I could relate to that was also on scholarship, Willie A. Sims aka W.A.S. (pronounced WUZ). WUZ seemed to always be there with the quiet intellectual fearlessness. He had a 4 year, $1100 per, full boat scholarship, while I was on the cheapy $550 per year survival plan. Willie was also the best left handed pool player in the dorm and would sneak away from studying to break my loudmouthed dominance of the rec room pool table.
We both had single rooms on the third floor. Five floors of suites, double and single rooms, recently christened and steeped in tradition, ruled with what seemed at first an iron fist by G.T. Sanders, dorm director, who turned out to be a little too soft for a very difficult task.
At night, there was open rebellion brewing under the guise of public pandering to the school party line. I knew some guys down the hall on the 3rd floor who were trying to start a radio station broadcasting a litany of profanity from the window in their room that could be picked up on some parts of the campus, and their was Horace's crazy roommate, Julian, who was distilling gin in the room one drop at a time, about one or 2 shots per week, maybe.
I had a very dangerous and seasoned consort, Ernie Nevels, who had smuggled a year's supply of Jamaican 190 proof rum high up in his closet and dared you to touch it. There were card games and pool games for small but significant amounts of cash that I was heavily involved in.
G.T. began to take a stand against a lot of New York and Philly brothers who were rowdy. They were being denied certain visitor privileges, or something, so they rioted one night, and some people who just disdained oppressive authority joined in. But, they trashed the dormitory in one hellaciously destructive political protest.
There were comical nude drawings upon the doors of what were then comfortably called "queers" and blatant rants screaming hatred from various walls and doors.
I was heartsick because I hadn't known it was going down. I had not been as in with the New York crowd as I had thought. It seemed such a bold act until they began to call people in for questioning. Suspected scholarship students got called in first. They had me blind with fear before questioning me. I told them exactly what I knew, nothing.
I assured them of my allegiance to Drew Hall. They must have believed me because they kicked out a few brothers from N.Y. and Philly, and everything went back to the way it had been before, or so it seemed.
Who knew that riot would become legendary, ironically, and set the precedent for the bold student protests led by Ewart Brown* at Howard a few years later, protests that would sweep through all of the schools with Black student unions across the country for the rest of the decade? And, who knew that I would become one of the leaders?
Allahu Akbar! (G-d Is The Greatest! Fortunately, Allah knew, even then. And, He had a plan for me).

*The dynamic student body President, then, now, Premier of Bermuda, and, The Honorable Dr. Ewart Brown