“We Are All Charged With Pushing Forward”: President Obama Delivers A Speech For History

Originally posted on mykeystrokes.com:

“This whole week,” said President Obama, “I’ve been reflecting on this idea of grace.”

That was the turning point of Friday’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, the Charleston, South Carolina minister who was, with eight of his congregants, murdered by a racist terrorist two weeks ago. It was the moment a memorable speech became a speech for history.

“According to the Christian tradition,” the president-turned-preacher explained, “grace is not earned, grace is not merited, it’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God.” Grace, in other words, is that which bridges the gap between creation and Creator, the staircase connecting the soil to the celestial.

And it is amazing. So the heart leapt when, moved by some ephemeral thing cameras could not see, Obama launched into a soulful, heartfelt and, yes, off-key rendition of one of the foundational hymns of the church. “Amazing grace,” he…

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Why are so many black families single parented?

If you listen to Bill O’Reilly and others on the right, you are told that the problems faced by blacks in the inner city and elsewhere would go away if black families included both parents. Is it that blacks hold different values than whites? That is not the case. There is a shortage of eligible black males relative to black women, and that traces back to the large number of black males in prison or out on parole. And what is responsible for that? The war on drugs which targets people of color to a much greater degree than whites even though drug use is about the same for all segments of the population. Once convicted of a drug offense, it is nearly impossible for a felon to find employment or regain his/her rights. Thus the single parent family in the black community is the result of the war on drugs which I favor ending.

If we do the right thing and end the drug war, what shall we do next? I believe that non-violent drug offenders should be released from prison, given full pardons and compensated for their losses. They should be given monetary compensation depending on time served and helped to return to society with education and training at no cost to them. If our goal is functioning families of color in our cities and towns, we must cease the drug war and help those injured by it. It is the morally right thing to do.

Scent of the Himalayas

My wife and I have always wanted to trek in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s too late now for us to do due to diminished health, but this is what Rudyard Kipling had to say in Namgay Doola.

“The monkeys sang sorrowfully to each other as they hunted for dry roosts in the fern-wreathed trees, and the last puff of the day-wind brought from the unseen villages the scent of damp wood-smoke, hot cakes, dripping undergrowth, and rotting pine-cones. That is the true smell of the Himalayas, and if once it creeps into the blood of a man, that man will at the last, forgetting all else, return to the hills to die.”