I wish I’d asked your name.

I wish I’d asked your name

Your bright green sign spoke to me
Like a personal hello, a handshake, a hug
A brief one on one connection
Amongst the sea of people

The image of the young black boy
The same boy, possibly a second
An infant in your embrace, marred
Like a photographer’s mastery of depth of field

Your face younger
Your hair less grey
You’ve been marching a long time

For blocks
Stops and starts
Varying chants
Amongst the thousands
From a distance, we walked together

Perhaps you were resting
Or possibly taking it all in
The enormity of it
Hope that this might be the change

You
The young black boys
Your bright green sign
Stopped me in my stride
Pulled me to the side

The name of the park
The number of rounds shot
One son dead
One son survived

In the roar of people and sounds
Your soft words
Constant, continually, it’s still happening
Heartache that doesn’t get to go away
A bond you didn’t choose with far too many others

I cried, we hugged
An embrace unlocked, I marched
Struck by your eloquence
Convergence of stories
I thought about the Charleston Nine

I wish I’d asked your name
I think I will call you Grace

~ Bridget Celeste
#Blackwithflowers

Bridget’s poem about the LA Gun March and meeting Rhonda (her real name), sometime after the March.

Real Time ‘Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself” Individual

I wanted to post this wonderful letter on our Blog that has touched my wife & me deeply. This letter reflects a Real Time ‘Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself” Individual.
June 3, 2018
Dear colleague Ludlow,
We met shortly outside FAME on Easter Day morning on your way to the third service. I had attended the second service as a faraway visitor from Sweden. I gave you a hand out of the car outside the church that day, and we exchanged a few words.
My wife (a RN in Oncology) and myself were on our way home after an around the world trip with the first stop in Perth, W Australia. We started there since our son, with family, are temporarily living there while he works on an off-shore oil project.
It was a great privilege and experience for both of us to worship in your church on Easter Day, 50 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was also 50 years since I spent a year as an exchange student under ICYE (International Christian Youth Exchange). I actually now also had the opportunity to revisit my «American younger brother» who was the only one left in his family.
After that year I went back to Sweden and commenced my studies, eventually onto Medical School. That led me onto the specialty of Infectious diseases, where I did my thesis on vaccinology. Directly after that, went to Eastern Africa as a missionary doctor for some years. Unfortunately a terrible traffic accident, in Sweden, crippled our youngest daughter, which led to a stop for longer missions to Africa. Our daughter, who was hit unprotected by a car of 70 km/h, survived miraculously and is, after 22 major procedures and years of rehab, living a somehow good life, only with some basic support.
Instead of long missions, I did, with my background, get involved in disaster activities worldwide. I have since then been participating in the fight against the effects of the Tsunami 2005 in SEA, Darfur in Sudan, Cholera in Zimbabwe, Aleppo in Syria, Kurdistan and Iraq, Earthquake of Haiti and not the least the fight against Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia. The last thing took me twice to Liberia before we had that conquered, thanks God. Thus, in Los Angeles, it was extra nice to meet some of the church visitors at FAME dressed in the Liberian colors and were look-alikes to Liberia’s former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who I personally met in Monrovia!
Our visit to FAME was arranged by our old friend living in Tarzana. She is a God’s grandchild and was very much touched by what she experienced. Actually one of your wonderful choir-members welcomed us, already in the parking lot and led us all the way in and out of the church. And now, she has invited our friend for lunch and to return to FAME. Let us pray, that and more will happen to our friend.
Thanks again for our short rendezvous, after a fantastic visit to a blessed service and church.
All the best to you, your family, your church and not the least, your health!
With Christian Love,
Martin Wahl, MD, Ph.D., Former Medical Missionary, East Africa

Sacrifice

With last week being Resurrection week, I have been thinking a lot about sacrifice. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… (John 3:16). This was an ultimate sacrifice, which has made me think a lot about parenting and the sacrifices big and small that parents make for their children. The ones that they don’t even think about as it’s just a natural part of being a parent that is so inextricably linked to the love for one’s child/children. I have also been thinking about sacrifices not made that fill us with pain or guilt that doesn’t go away even over many years. And, I’ve been thinking about the post that I have also just finished about parenting… it’s partially a letter to my youngest daughter.

 

On Friday, the end of the week of sacrifice, I see the cover of Time with the Parkland, Fla., students and March for Our Lives organizers Jaclyn Corin, Alex Wind, Emma González, Cameron Kasky, and David Hogg. Again, I thought about sacrifice, but not their sacrifice as I believe that there are times when people emerge as heroes, leaders, the voice or conscience of a nation and it is their destiny. I know this to be true for the extraordinary, passionate, determined and eloquent young people from Parkland. I have actually been thinking about their parents and the sacrifice that they are making to free their children to lead this fight.

 

And sadly, a fight it is. Of nearly a dozen posts, this will be my 3rd related to gun violence. I have tried to honor those slain, celebrate the heroes that emerge and understand the troubled shooters. But, I too like so many am angered that this issue has become such a polarizing one that we don’t make progress that would seem so certain especially after tragedies like Sandy Hook five years ago.

 

These young people have been thrust in the middle of a storm. Their parents had that gut-wrenching worry on February 14th not knowing if their child was safe and now they make the sacrifice to have their child carry the flag and be in the forefront on such a violent and contentious issue in our country. I hope that through their strength there will be change. The young people are leading in remembrance of the 17 that lost their lives that day and for all of those lost to gun violence. They are the force to help this not happen again or to at least significantly lessen the frequency…. They are being their brother’s keeper.

 

My daughter Bridget participated in the March For Our Lives. She shared with me a poem that she wrote, which I too am sharing with you.

 

Until next time,

 

Barry

I wish I’d asked your name

Your bright green sign spoke to me

Like a personal hello, a handshake, a hug

A brief one on one connection

Amongst the sea of people

 

The image of the young black boy

The same boy, possibly a second

An infant in your embrace, marred

Like a photographer’s mastery of depth of field

 

Your face much younger

Your hair less grey

You’ve been marching a long time

 

For blocks

Stops and starts

Varying chants

Amongst the thousands

Parenting

My youngest daughter recently celebrated a milestone birthday. Like most milestones, it was the impetus for quiet reflection in parallel with celebration.

 

In God’s biology, there are no single parent families. The obligatory shared responsibility is morally, ethically, and quantitatively a requirement of both parents. Family stresses should always incorporate the progeny in the reactive plan, which should be timed to be least impacting of the children. The urge to continue as a free unit decries God’s plan of procreation. The timing and effectuation of separation, or divorce plans should be cognizant of the needs of offspring. Well-being concerns beyond self is essential to the definition of parenting.

 

The offspring of a relationship should not suffer adversity, denial of love or care because of the immaturity of their parents, nor allowing personal disagreements to take primacy over the fundamental obligations to them. Children mimic the relationships they grew out of as they develop their own responsibilities.  Dominant life figures, both mother and father, are essential to developing the psychological models, who meet our standards for social esteem; like tango, it takes two. Sadly and too frequently, the family has evolved from a single parent, grandparent or other playing a dual role. How have offspring fared in this model? Tougher, more self-reliant, independent…

 

How pervasive is this model in today’s world? Not sufficient.  And I guess that I questioned, if this model was sufficient even when I was growing up. The popularity of the sacrament of marriage, as a facilitating force appears to have diminished in some ways and then has taken on a new form in other ways. In God’s biology there are no single parent families, but in God’s kingdom, there are extensions of the family.
In some cultures, this idea has been embraced.  There is the African Proverb, “that it takes a village to raise a child”.  We are developing new norms to our prior principle social outcomes, which allows or supports the fact that the definition of family is so varied.  With these ideas, let us live the principle that “We Are Our Brothers Keeper”.

 

Until next time,

 

Barry

Billy Graham and Black History Month

We are giving a final salute, to the world renowned evangelist, Billy Graham, who was the 4th civilian, and the 1st religious leader, to ‘lie in honor’ in the Rotunda, at our nation’s Capitol, where mourners were invited to pay their final respects. The 1st and 2nd civilians were slain police officers, Jacob Joseph Chestnut and John Michael, who worked at the Capitol, and the 3rd, Civilian was our beloved Rosa Parks, who is the only African American or woman to be granted this rare honor and distinction. Her book, “ My Story” by Rosa Parks, signed by her on April 22, 1992, will always be cherished by my family and me, not only because my friend, Brenda C., gave to me; but also because Rosa Parks was a civil rights icon , who exhibited strength, resilience and courage during the really difficult times in our Black History.
As this blog was written on the last day of Black History Month, and as we recall our history makers, we salute both individuals for being properly memorialized at the Rotunda of our State Capitol. My wife, Ruth and I were discussing the impression Rev. Billy Graham made on us as young people. Ruth’s recollection was watching Billy Graham, back in the days of black and white television, when our country was segregated. Yet, black families everywhere, would tune in to hear the words of a man, with a true Christ like spirit. In the midst of civil unrest and the pressure, to side with our own, racism permeating every aspect of American society, Rev. Graham would sign off, each time, letting us know that God loves all of us. He would, also, admonish us to “Love Our Neighbor…” Those timeless words made an indelible impression upon my heart. Then there was me, a teenager, who had this rare opportunity to attend a Billy Graham Crusade in Jamaica. Somehow, I was able to get close enough, to ask him “Why is it that people suffer, so much, at the end of life, even when they’re devout Christians.” I felt embraced by him, as he humbly said, he didn’t really have an answer, but he went on to say God’s ways are not our ways.
In closing, we reminisce, Billy Graham, a man of the people, and we are very grateful, on today, for his legacy, in our world history. On a personal note, I feel proud to have been in the company of this great religious man. So, as Black History Month 2018 comes to a close, and we celebrate the life of Billy Graham, the man, who stood for “The Golden Rule”, also remember to Love Thy Neighbor.
Barry and Ruth

Broward County Tragedy 2.14.18

As this post was written on Valentine’s Day, our hearts go out to the families of Broward County, who were struck by the, apparent, sudden shootings. We are saddened by this loss of life and innocence, and pray for strength and peace, for all of us. Once again, where do we go from here, as a global community? How do we really help to reconcile this tragedy, in our hearts and minds, and in the hearts and minds of our young people?

Are we all responsible, in some way, for contributing to a violent society, if we tolerate, violence, and then act surprised when the movies and television that we watch, and the music that we hear, becomes life imitating the art we allow our young to support? And what about the shooter? Certainly the echo of his heart must have been, where is the love? Hurt people, hurt people. Did the shooter get support, before something inside of him yielded, to the unthinkable? Was he a part of the in crowd at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School? Did somebody, anybody reach out to this kid, before the very alienation, so pervasive, in this kind of antisocial, deviant behavior took root? Did his life matter? Who included him? Who excluded him? At some point, as a society, we are forced to care about these offenders, who make our lives a living nightmare, otherwise, what we ignore will persist. Another devastating shooting involving our children. It must stop and Government must assist with the necessary solution to help prevent these massacres, and immediate gun control legislation is one of these critical key answers.

As a Physician, from a medical perspective, the scientific aspect of violent behavior and the maturation of our young people’s brains, are particularly significant, in formulating solutions, in helping to heal our society. The rational part of a teen’s brain doesn’t fully develop, until around 25 years old. Before that time, youth are powerfully influenced, by what they see and hear, as well as the devastating impact of heightened emotions, like rejection and depression. When tragedies like today’s shooting, force me to seek answers, it reminds me that we are the guardians of all of our young, not just of the good boys and girls. So, when we allow violence, through passive observation, believe it or not, we are contributing to the desensitization, of our young people and, in essence, encouraging the violence that stops us dead in our tracks, when it hits close to home.

So, today, moving forward, we beseech us all, to live out this Valentine’s Day week, in a less comfortable way. One solution is to dig deeper, and learn to love our enemies. What happened to ‘Love the Neighbor As Thy Self? Only love will eradicate hate. It’s this simple, and this difficult.

Until next time,

Barry and Daughter, Trudi

Happy New Year!

As I have been thinking about how I wanted to close out 2017 and kick-off 2018, it was obvious to me that I wanted to celebrate 2017 as the year for Women. As a man who was raised by a smart and fiercely independent, witty woman, married to an amazingly kind and determined woman, and a father with daughters who are each incredible and quite varied in how I would describe them, I’m excited to see where Women are headed. One of my daughters who is quite civic-minded reminded me that she was again this year participating in the Women’s March and thought that it would be the perfect way to finish this post. As a side note, I am very proud that most of my children are involved, engaged in their communities and actively giving back. As my grandchildren would say, they are “Woke.”

2017 started with millions of women across the globe protesting the day after President Trump’s inauguration. But, what was most impressive (and not surprising since it was led by women), is that the day of protests didn’t end there, it became a movement. With women determining the outcome of elections across the country by their more natural tendency to be inclusive and to mobilize.

Last year marked the year of “#MeToo,” which had been used for a long time by Tarana Burke (an African American activist), that virally spread as a hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace and to help victims realize that they are not alone. The phrase has been posted online millions of times often with an accompanying personal story of sexual harassment or assault. Time Magazine named the silence breakers from the #MeToo movement as the Time Person of the Year for 2017.

The New Year, 2018, kicked off with Oprah Winfrey being the first African-American woman to receive the Golden Globe’s Cecile B. DeMille Award delivering a powerful and poignant lifetime achievement speech. As I listened, I was immensely proud to be a Black person. She eloquently spoke of first, called out sexual harassers and celebrated Black women. She inspired young girls letting them know that “a new day is on the horizon.”

As my daughter shared some thoughts and quotes from speakers with me, from Saturday’s Los Angeles Women’s March, I thought that I’d share them with you. “History will remember we didn’t back down….” “The movement is about Equality.” “… a heart for other people can right all that has been wronged.” “…in it together.” And, “Be thy Brothers and Sisters keeper….”

I studied Latin as a young man. As we kick-off 2018, a year that I am very enthusiastic about all that it will bring, I leave you with this, “Dux Femina Facti” “The leader of the enterprise is a woman.”

Barry

Season of Giving

My last post was a few weeks ago, November 28th, which was Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday has become for millions, the perfect way to kick-off the giving season.

There was an event of major giving that occurred over a year ago, but seems to have recently resurfaced in social media.

Jon Oliver, the host of the HBO show Last Week Tonight, formed a company called Central Asset Recovery Professionals — or CARP, named after the bottom-feeding fish. He purchased $14.9 million worth of medical debt for 9,000 people. He then gave the debt away, bragging that his giveaway was bigger than Oprah Winfrey’s — her car giveaway was estimated at $8 million. He completed the show by pressing a giant red button that triggered a rain shower of money.

While Jon Oliver was making a major point about the debt collecting industry, as I heard the story, I thought about the relief it gave to those 9,000 families, who no fault of their own, found themselves strapped in debt due to medical issues. It marked Jon Oliver into TV history; with the largest giveaway… for me it was an abundance of Loving Thy Neighbor. Not only to forgive the debt, but to also shine a light on predatory practices that are anything but Loving Thy Neighbor.

So, I share this story as just one of many many ways people help others, stand up for common decency and a return to more humanity. As my wife, Ruth and I, are sharing this wonderful Holiday message, this blog is from both of us.

As it is Christmas and we will be spending this day with family and friends, we continue to keep those who are less fortunate in our hearts and prayers. We will continue to do what we can for our fellow neighbor. And we hope that through our deeds and sharing thoughts, that we will inspire others to do the same.

Wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season,
Barry and Ruth

Today is Giving Tuesday

For decades now, we have been embracing the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping known as “Black Friday.” Then with the digital revolution came “Cyber Monday”. For years I thought that it was ironic that we go from a day dedicated to being purposeful in expressing our gratitude and being thankful for what we have to a day that is about consuming more things…. The cynical side of me thought, ‘I guess that’s just more stuff to be thankful for….’ But the more caring and compassionate side of me was bothered by the frenzy of retailers cashing in and increasingly encroaching into a holiday that’s about being with family and friends.  I was bothered watching the news and hearing about people shifting their holiday to accommodate going to a Black Friday sale that started at midnight or some other ungodly hour.  Even in my house, a few years ago, my youngest son had to leave Thanksgiving dinner to go to work…. but I digress….

Five years ago, two non-profits, the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, started Giving Tuesday with the idea to commence the charitable season with a day of giving.  So today we are urged to open our wallets for “Giving Tuesday,” a day to raise funds for charitable causes.

I’m intensely encouraged by this global movement. Just three years after it started, Giving Tuesday had spread to 98 countries, garnered 1.64 million online gifts raising more than $177 million.

Beyond opening wallets in the days nearing and following Thanksgiving people open their hearts. There are countless examples of giving back and helping others – which are at the core of Love Thy Neighbor.

For me this year there was:

  • A new family friend sharing with me how he signs up his wife and kids months in advance to serve meals at the local shelter, which they have done at Thanksgiving and Christmas for more than a decade.
  • One of my daughters who has started her Thanksgiving the last three years delivering meals to homebound seniors.
  • My wife and I having abundance to make a gift to ‘Soldiers for a Second Coming’, that provides a community outreach ministry.

As we Read More

kick off the charitable season and get in the spirit of generosity, Giving Tuesday reminds me that there are big and small, traditional and innovative ways to lend a helping hand to others, to Love Thy Neighbor.

To take part in Giving Tuesday, all you need to do is pick a charity you trust and visit their website to donate. Many organizations are including the hashtag #GivingTuesday in their social media posts as a reminder.       http://www.givingtuesday.org/about

 

Barry

We have created a Neighbors’ List to identify persons doing extraordinary things for their Neighbor(s). By Michael McCorvey

 

Jesus Campos is a true hero. He was dispatched to a door alarm on the 32nd floor. He went up there to investigate the open door, and as he was doing his job, he came under fire. A security guard at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, was shot by Paddock six minutes before he began shooting into a crowd of 22,000 people enjoying the country music festival down below.  Campos was struck in the leg, retreated and notified his dispatcher. This was a remarkable effort by a brave and remarkable man.

Campos’ bravery was “amazing” because he remained with officers, provided them with the key to enter the hotel room, and continued to help [officers] clear rooms until our officers demanded that he go seek medical attention.”

 

Marine Veteran, Taylor Winston, is another example of everyday people becoming heroes. While the events of the Las Vegas shooting were unspeakably horrific, stories like Winston’s–that showed how utterly amazing people can be–were a reassurance that the world is not an entirely awful place. While Winston said numerous times that he doesn’t want to be called a hero, he’s one in my book.

Taylor Winston, a Marine veteran who stole a truck after the shooting in Las Vegas to transport about a dozen people to the hospital in two trips. (Winston eventually returned the truck.) A used-car dealer in Gilbert, Arizona has given Winston a truck, as a token of his appreciation for his bravery and selflessness.

 

It became a ride of life — not just death — because of Austin Cox, a 24-year-old U.S. Marine corporal from Piqua who turned into an “angel” that Sunday night in Las Vegas.

Austin and his Marine buddy Mike Vura, both stationed at Camp Pendleton outside San Diego, CA were in the crowd of 22,000 at the Route 91 country music festival that had played for three days in a 15-acre open space near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the south end of the famed Las Vegas Strip.

 

So that’s when Austin and Mike ran in, they started helping people over the fence. They were picking people up and literally throwing them over it. My brother was like, ‘It’s better to have a broken arm than be dead.’ ”

As he was helping people, Austin picked up Katrina Hannah, a University of La Verne graduate from California, who just moments earlier had been laughing and dancing as part of a bachelorette party for her best friend.

“He saw she had been shot and when he picked her up, she got shot again. He carried her over and tried to take cover.”

Hannah had wounds in her neck and shoulder and was bleeding badly.

“Austin kept his finger in her (neck) wound so she wouldn’t bleed to death. Once the shooting stopped, “I picked her up and made a run for it,” Austin told Elex Michaelson, a reporter for KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

 

Jonathan Smith is likely to spend the rest of his life with a bullet lodged in the left side of his neck, a never-ending reminder of America’s deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Smith, a 30-year-old copy machine repairman, was shot that same Sunday night while trying to help save people after a gunman opened fire on the crowd at the Music Festival.

 

He had driven to Las Vegas from Orange County, Calif., on that Thursday to celebrate the 43rd birthday of his brother, Louis Rust, a big country music fan who had attended the festival in the past. They spent the weekend enjoying the music and had scored seats close to the stage for Jason Aldean’s prime-time performance Sunday night. .Rust realized what was really going on and told the entire extended family — all nine of them — to hold hands and run. By then, it was a stampede.

 

He grabbed people and told them to follow him toward a handicapped parking area in the direction of the airport, a large field with several rows of vehicles. A few young girls weren’t fully hidden. Smith stood up and moved toward them to urge them to get on the ground. That’s when a bullet struck him in the neck. “I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm,” said Smith from the Sunrise Hospital lobby Monday afternoon as he was waiting for his final discharge. He has a fractured collarbone, a cracked rib and a bruised lung. These young men are all hero’s and showed true courage as they helped thy neighbors.