Dying Young, Violently and Black

I have posted twice on the death of professional football player Sean Taylor. But I feel compelled to discuss it once again, from a slightly different perspective.

One of my favorite columnists Michael Wilbon is being lambasted in the blogosphere for his column titled “Dying Young, Black”. His colleague at the Washington Post, Leonard Shapiro is getting his share also for “Taylor’s Death Is Tragic but Not Surprising”.

Both Wilbon and Shapiro are my age, in fact Wilbon and I were college chums. While these two “old school” journalists’ columns may have been tactless and untimely, they are clear expressions of the frustration so many of us “old school” folks feel.

We find ourselves in a time when young men, especially young black men, glorify and glamorize violence. They “embrace it, claim it, and refuse to divorce themselves from it,” regardless of their success or new circumstances. It appears throughout our culture via music, TV and language, and manifests itself in real lives and deaths:

Black Americans accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2005 but were the victims of about 15 percent of all of the nonfatal violent crime and about 49 percent of all homicides, according too the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Blacks were victims of an estimated 805,000 nonfatal violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault) and of about 8,000 homicides during 2005.

When I learned that Taylor had been shot and critically wounded, I discussed it with my 14 year old who is a big fan, then offered and posted a prayer for Taylor and his family. As I watched the coverage after his death I heard quotes like, “A ridiculous and unnecessary tragedy” and “This is the worst imaginable tragedy,”

All true, but what about…

  • 240 homicides in Miami-Dade County last year, 46 of whom were teenagers or younger
  • 170 killings in the District of Columbia in 2007
  • a 102 per 100,000 Population Homicide Rate for Black Males 18-24 (by comparison, it is 12.2 for white males of the same age)

All of those statistics are some mother’s child. While I am sure the outpouring of grief and shock in response to Taylor’s death is heartfelt and sincere, I am also confident that were it not for his prowess on the football field, Taylor’s passing would probably have been just another head counted in the growing tally of dead young black men.

Prayer: Be Near Me Father

Lord God the Almighty, the Spirit of Truth, God of Seeing—

Be near me Father, for I long to be near You.
I have made You, the Sovereign Lord, my refuge;
I draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.
Your nearness, is my source of strength, of joy and of peace.

Be near me Father, through Your omnipresence;
You do not miss a move that I make; aware of every step I take.
Do not allow my sin to overtake me.
Help me to lead a disciplined life.
Let not my foolish decisions trap me in a dead end.

Be near me Father, through the Holy Spirit;
That everything I do begin with Your inspiration,
Continue with Your help, and
Reach perfection under Your guidance.
I hope to know the promise of Jesus, when He said to his disciples “I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.”

Be near me Father, through Your Word.
As I read Your Word, let me hear You speaking.
As I read the psalms, let me hear You singing.
A I reflect on each page, let me see Your image.
Give me the strength of will to put Your Word into practice all the days of my life.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

“God Must Be Busy” Revisited

I wrote a post, Mini Manna: God Must Be Busy, the same night I heard the Brooks & Dunn song on the CMA broadcast. I am taking this opportunity to revisit the song and my analysis after hearing the songwriter discuss his intent.

“‘God Must Be Busy’ is a song about one simple man’s enduring faith and humility,” says Dunn. “He, humbly acknowledges that his personal prayer seems small in light of the world’s turmoils and tragedies but also respects that, despite it all, God is always available to answer even the smallest of prayers.”

Here is the song, for your viewing and listening pleasure.

 

God Must Be Busy

That anchor man
says the fight began
somewhere in the Middle East.
The world prays for peace.
There’s a single mom
just got laid off when she lost a job
to some foreign hands
in some faraway land.
Last night in Oklahoma
some twister took thirteen
and they’re praying that they find
the missing three.
God must be busy.

That highway sign
went from slow ahead
to traffic’s dead.
Thought it couldn’t get worse
than that Amber Alert.
They say she’s 4,
Colorado plates, headed out-of-state
in a Chevy van.
It’s hard to understand.
You can see it in the faces
of all those highway strangers,
they’re praying that God
keeps that girl from danger.
God must be busy.

And I know in the big picture
I’m just a speck of sand
and God’s got better things to do
than look out for one man.
I know he’s heard my prayers
cause he hears everything,
he just ain’t answered back
or he’d bring you back to me.
God must be busy.

That evening news,
Ain’t much changed
pretty much the same
since I left home.
Yeah that war’s still on.
They found that little girl.
She was soaking wet,
half scared to death
on the side of some road.
Them prayers work, you know.
And the Bloods and Cripps are at it,
and theres a killer drought down south,
and old folks can’t afford the drugs
they can’t live with out.
God must be busy.

And I know in the big picture
I’m just a speck of sand
and God’s got better things to do
than look out for one man.
I know he’s heard my prayers
cause he hears everything,
he just ain’t answered back
or he’d bring you back to me.
God must be busy.

That anchorman,
says the fightings worse,
cities burn in the Middle East.
[The] world prays for peace.

Count Your Blessings

Count Your BlessingsCount your blessings, this is such a simple charge. Yet in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, stopping to be grateful and count our blessings is something we tend to overlook.

Counting our blessings, instead of the losses and focusing on the positive aspects of life can help in shifting attitudes and life challenges. Sonja Lyubomirsky, an experimental psychologist at UC Riverside, found that people who once a week wrote down five things they were grateful for were happier.

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to stop, remember to count your blessings, give thanks and be grateful for all your blessings.

~ Les

 

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessing instead of sheep
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.

~~ Irving Berlin

 

Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what God has done

~~ Johnson Oatman

Praying the Psalms: Praise God, For He is Worthy

I lift you high in praise, my God, O my King!
and I’ll bless Your name into eternity.

I’ll bless You every day,
and keep it up from now to eternity.
God is magnificent; He can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to His greatness.
Generation after generation stands in awe of Your work;
each one tells stories of Your mighty acts.
Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
I compose songs on Your wonders.
Your marvelous doings are headline news;
I could write a book full of the details of Your greatness.
The fame of Your goodness spreads across the country;
Your righteousness is on everyone’s lips.

God is all mercy and grace—
not quick to anger, is rich in love.

God is good to one and all;
everything He does is suffused with grace.

Creation and creatures applaud You, God;
Your holy people bless You.

They talk about the glories of Your rule,
they exclaim over Your splendor,

Letting the world know of Your power for good,
the lavish splendor of Your kingdom.

Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal;
You never get voted out of office.

God always does what He says,
and is gracious in everything He does.

God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.

All eyes are on You, expectant;
You give them their meals on time.

Generous to a fault,
You lavish your favor on all creatures.

Everything God does is right—
the trademark on all His works is love.

God‘s there, listening for all who pray,
for all who pray and mean it.

He does what’s best for those who fear him—
hears them call out, and saves them.

God sticks by all who love him,
but it’s all over for those who don’t.

My mouth is filled with God‘s praise.
Let everything living bless him,
bless His holy name from now to eternity!

~~ Psalm 145 (The Message)

The Prayer of the Children

 

The Prayer of the Children

by Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon

Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
Turning heavenward toward the light

Crying jesus, help me
To see the morning light-of one more day
But if i should die before i wake,
I pray my soul to take

Can you feel the hearts of the children?
Aching for home, for something of their very own
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to,
But hope for a better day a better day

Crying jesus, help me
To feel the love again in my own land
But if unknown roads lead away from home,
Give me loving arms, away from harm

Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands

Crying jesus, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears i know you’re near,
Bringing peace again

Dali cujete sve djecje molitive?
Can you hear the prayer of the children?

What Would You Do?

 

An earlier post, How to Surf the Web and Help the Poor, addresses this conflict, God’s call to us and presents a few easy ways to help.