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This is “Unit Sixteen [Barry]“ from the Units Of Study mix series. It is a collection of Barry White songs. If you know me, you know I’m a Barry White fan. Enjoy this blend of songs responsibly. Check out the previous mixes as well.
Movers & Groovers,
Ok, here it goes…so I was in a production of “To Kill A Mockingbird” this past fall at Grace Community Church in Noblesville. Great experience all-around but the biggest moment was unexpected. The cast met Dr. Celestin Musekura and Benjamin Nkusi (that’s me with both of those wonderful gentlemen!) from African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM). We partnered with them so the offerings were going directly to them. They came to give us more background on what ALARM is and does.
Their stories were incredible. I tried to wrap my head around genocide, neighbors killing neighbors in extremely large amounts and the road to reconciliation. I listened to Celestin and Benjamin discuss how God guided them to forgiveness and peace after great conflict and pain. Leadership development, reconciling relationships and transforming communities are the three main focuses of ALARM. After the genocide, the country had to come back together somehow; enter ALARM. And I sat amazed at the magnitude of what they had the courage to do. Hearing them talk about the danger they faced for even doing this work; Celestin described being beaten multiple times by people who didn’t agree with the work of ALARM. It was so much to grasp but so much of what I needed to hear. I hope to never forget it.
When they finished, I took a picture with them and posted it on Instagram and felt great! I met some awesome people from Rwanda…so what’s next?
Our director told us that there was a short term trip planned to Rwanda to work with ALARM. I came home and told my wife: I gotta go on that trip. I had to see how this worked. How could anyone salvage and rebuild a community after all of that? And if they did it, can we do it here?
So, I’m going to Rwanda. In March. To meet and work with some amazing people that God has called to do some amazing work. The offerings from the play are being used to send 50 Rwandan professionals to a leadership conference that we are going to be apart of, in service (teaching some of the curriculum) but also just to BE and build with the attendees. There will be professionals from all areas, including education in attendance at the conference. I’ve been told my experience will be valuable to people who might not even be getting paid to teach but are doing it because it is TRULY their passion. I’m excited about what will happen there and what it will change in my life.
I would love for you to support me if you would like to do so. Any amount you want to give is fine. I’ll be settling my trip costs by February 8. My prayer is that I see and learn something that I can bring home to put to use in my home community because we need it.
If nothing else, I hope all of this leads you to serve others somewhere. More to come as time passes.
(You do have to make an account if you are giving but it doesn’t put you on a list or anything like that. Feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested in giving. Thanks and I love ya.)
Movers & Groovers,
This is “Unit Twelve [Planner Jams Part 1]“ and it is telepathically unofficially inspired by Pete The Planner. He mentioned one song in this mix and that was the catalyst for the mix. Head over to his website and get some info about your finances and other thangs.
Movers & Groovers,
I present to you “Unit Fourteen” in the Units Of Study mix series. This is a trip through some of the music of the South. Some tunes I used to play heavily and still play from time to time. For the language sensitive, there is language in these tunes that could be too much for you; listen with that warning.
PS I know I skipped a few numbers; I’m not ready to put 11, 12 and 13 out yet BUT they are already complete. Stay tuned. Tracklist below.
“Unit Ten [Snow Jams]” is the latest mix in the Units Of Study mix series. This will be my memory of all this snowstorm that is currently happening. Throw this on and jam. Thom Yorke, James Brown, Thundercat, N*E*R*D, yours truly and more.
Movers & Groovers,
Enjoy this and head over to the Bandcamp page and buy some music. If you’re reading this then I bet you’ll enjoy something there!
Movers & Groovers,
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has physically left this planet but his legacy will remain until the end of time. His pursuit of equality, equity, peace and reconciliation should be a source of inspiration in all of our lives.
In my travels across the Information Highway (the Internet) I found an article by Peter Beinart titled, “Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then.” Naturally, I stopped to read the article and I encourage you to do the same.
I have been drawn to the role of American government in affairs around the world since I was a little guy playing a plastic guitar pretending to be Ernie Isley. I wouldn’t say my Pops is a revolutionary but he is a fan of history and he never tried to hide facts and possibilities from my sister and I. With that, I can remember my Pops talking to me about how the American government has plenty of dirt that has been ineffectively swept under a rug. For me, I could not understand why the American government felt the need to nose around in other countries, many times on the wrong side of what was truly right. Especially given the unsolved and unreconciled issues of our nation. I always thought, “Shouldn’t we get it right here first?” As I learned more, I became aware of economics and politics; long story short, we get involved if we think our interests will be compromised if we do not get involved. Where we have little or no economic or political interests, we tend to stay out on the fringe…which is tragic because in those places, our presence is needed most.
Beinart explores points regarding Mandela’s legacy that quite frankly, we just do not hear very often. We have been sold an image of Mandela as an aging man who fought for freedom for his people, which he certainly did, but the young Mandela has been somewhat silenced. Maybe people are ashamed that Mandela and the African National Congress were considered “terrorists” by the American government until 2008. Or maybe the shame lies in Ronald Reagan referring to South Africa as “a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve ever fought, a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals” at a time when racism, segregation and oppression were the calling cards of South Africa.
Maybe there is no shame. The reality of the matter is that in the midst of the Cold War, when America and its allies were in conflict with the USSR and its allies, America was on the wrong side of freedom in a few places in the world. As an American, I can accept that. I want to see the whole picture of history; I have spent countless hours looking at as many perspectives as possible on various issues because I do not want to miss other perspectives. Beinart seems to support that effort in his article by exploring Mandela’s stance against the ideology of the American government at various points in history.
As with King, it is this subversive aspect of Mandela’s legacy that is most in danger of being erased as he enters America’s pantheon of sanitized moral icons. But it is precisely the aspect that Americans most badly need. American power and human freedom are two very different things. Sometimes they intersect; sometimes they do not. Walking in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps requires being able to tell the difference.
I believe that in America we sometimes do a shoddy job of remembering what really happened. We have been wrong many times in the area of human rights, liberation and reconciliation. As an educator, I believe our youth and public at large need to know the truth. The truth is that Mandela, now celebrated, was once viewed as a threat to America primarily because he was going against the South African government, to whom America had ties. Economic and political posturing was more important than the needs of humanity, the pursuit of love, peace and unity.
I’m grateful for the work of Mandela and the work of all people who truly have advocated for love, peace and unity worldwide. I hope that we always remember that sometimes a true pursuit of justice will be met with force from those who benefit from injustice. However, we are called to support each other in love and peace. It is my prayer that we continue to seek out ways to live in love, peace and unity with each other throughout the world.
Movers & Groovers,
I have a few tattoos and they all have meaning. This one above was done by the homie Aaron at Lucky Rabbit Tattoos in Muncie, Indiana. Aaron is working on a half-sleeve on my right arm; I’ll tell the story of the other piece he’s already completed in another post. But why would I get a graffiti-styled tattoo of “unity?” I’m glad you asked. (I have to link Queen Latifah’s “U-N-I-T-Y” right here though!)
Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” That’s the source of inspiration for the tattoo but it’s tied into a much bigger journey in my life.
I watched a video this morning about wealth inequality in America and it made me think of a few things.
1. We are truly united…whether we like it or not.
2. There are some people who have a whole lot and some people who have very little.
3. How much wealth does one person really need? When they get to that point, wouldn’t it be great if they said, “I really don’t need any of this but I bet somebody could work with this.”
4. If hard work is the way to success, how do we explain all the hard-working people living in poverty?
But that’s not what this post is about. I am not an economist but I do think we need to figure out how to support those in need because of thing #1 that I mentioned above.
Unity is something I’ve been working to understand for a long time. I know we are ONE; I believe God created each and every one of us with the intention that we would actively find ways to support each other through love. I’ve been blessed to see how people can truly be supports for each other in many ways, mostly in my career as an educator. Being an educator demands an attitude of “service before self” (a mantra I picked up from my Pops, a retired United States Air Force veteran…”service before self” is one of the core values of the USAF). But in serving others, we grow closer to each other and in turn become more like ONE.
I won’t say there is no unity among us. I will say that we need more unity. On my album Expressions, there are two songs that highlight the need for more love and more peace. Really, I could have added unity to that. I believe that love, peace and unity are necessary. I remember my life without love; it was chaotic and hateful. I remember my life without peace; it was conflict-ridden and painful. I remember my life without unity; it was isolated and full of anxiety.
I am still looking for opportunities to increase the love, peace and unity in my life. It’s a journey I’m sure I’ll be on until I’m jettisoned into space at the end of my life on Earth. BUT the key is being on the journey. I had to make a decision to start the journey. I decided to use my music to start and continue my journey. My career as an educator came after my music; I chose to become an educator because I knew it would keep me on my journey. What about you? Where will your journey start? What will you do to stay on your journey? Along the way, who will you serve?
I hope these words find you in peace and leave you encouraged to begin or continue your journey filled with love, peace and unity.