Freedom and Fireworks

July 4, 2021

On this particular July 4th 2021, I get a feeling that America is on shaky ground. Voting rights are being hobbled in many states. White supremist are becoming bolder. ‘Freedom fighters’ and faux patriots are ramping up their militia to do harm in many ways. Democracy is being challenged even in the halls of Congress where insurrectionists smeared feces on the walls during the January 6th invasion.

Meanwhile one-third of the population refuse to get inoculated against the COVID virus. Climate change is here to stay with extreme heat, cold and wet. Power grids are failing, buildings are collapsing and the ocean is on fire.

This is not negative b***s***, it’s the truth!

A friend of mine posted this Langston Hughes poem today. I read Langston Hughes way back in college in 1967. It’s hard hitting and poignant. Fits my mood today perfectly. Yes, it’s long. Just give yourself a minute of enlightenment and read it.

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

When the fireworks in your neighborhood wake you in the middle of the night tonight, say a prayer for our nation. Then decide what you can do to help make America be a place for the good of all it’s citizens.


Beware the Dangers of Facebook

April 5, 2013

This is a cautionary notice about Facebook–for everyone, but especially for you to share with your children and grandchildren.

My 18 year old grandson, Justin, was arrested in his home in New Braunfels, TX by Federal Marshals and ICE on Thursday, February 14, 2013. He was charged with Federal felony terroristic threats. His bail is $250,000.

This all stemmed from a very stupid comment he posted on Facebook, which he had retracted.UPDATE 2/17/13 I learned this was a post was taken completely out of context. Both parents admonished him for it, acknowledging it was a fictional representation of someone other person’s mind.

As of February 15, he is being held in Bexar County Jail in San Antonio. He was allowed to call me from there and this is how I got some information. My son went completely incoherent with panic–and outrage. Justin, on the other hand, understood exactly what a mess he is in and realized his huge mistake–albeit too late. So far, he sounds calm, and is just waiting to find out where he will be held waiting for trial. We all know that could be a year or more.

Justin is not involved in drugs, alcohol, or weapons. He had a good job. His only vice is video games.

Do I want to say more about the injustice of the situation? You bet! But right now I only ask two things:

Please pray for Justin and his family

Please share this with your children, your grandchildren and any of your friends’ children. Warn them about the dangers of posting rants, bad language, or jokes that might be misconstrued as violent acts.

It’s not a joke or a rumor. It happened.

UPDATE: February 21, 2013

Justin was transferred to Austin for jail. He will not get bail and must reside in the Del Valle complex until he goes to trial. He has not seen or been appointed a lawyer. This kid is not a terrorist. We do realize just writing what he did is a crime, but it seems it would have to be tied to real intent somehow.

We can write and talk on the phone.

UPDATE: March 2, 2013

Justin was finally appointed an attorney. The attorney’s assistant has been to see him. There appears to be no clear cut idea of what the evidence is or what law enforcement plans to do with Justin as far as charges. He is not yet indicted and, is in fact, slated to be moved once again to Hays Co. or Comal Co. jail to be indicted. Why?, because he was actually living in New Braunfels at the time of the post and the arrest.

What a travesty this whole thing is turning out to be, what a miscarriage of justice and waste of taxpayer money. What a waste of time for law enforcement who should be trying to avert real threats and catch real criminals.

Justin is hanging in there but sounds more and more depressed every time we talk.

Udate: April 4, 2013

Justin has now been incarcerated for 45 days without an indictment. He was transferred to the Comal County Jail last week. As of yet, he does not have a new court-appointed attorney. The jail administration has not offered to get him one. I told him to be more pro-active and ask. His new charge is “Terrorist threat with intent to disrupt government services.” Again, that was not his intent. Bail is the same $250,000. He does sound like he’s hanging in there, bored and unsure of the future for sure!

Continue praying, please.