one question i will never have to ask: [am i next?]

take your time, dear friends, and let these last words sink in. just listen. and feel.

copy-1bfd2a26ecea47fc6b563031108b979e

John Crawford was holding a toy gun as he stood in the toy section of a Walmart. Before the police shot him to death in that same aisle, John managed to say, “It’s not real.” But it was too late for John.

copy-fa14cdb29155c25687a9f23cb2270c34

Sean Bell was going to get married. One night, he was driving away from his bachelor party with his friends, Joseph and Trent. Suddenly, he hit a minivanFour undercover police officers from the minivan began to shoot at them without warning, firing a total of 50 bullets at the three unarmed men. A wounded Joseph turned to Sean and said, “S, I love you, son.” Sean’s reply: “I love you, too.” Joseph and Trent survived, but their best friend, Sean, didn’t make it.

copy-ff64a198d817e5f8a4797461a52e53e4

One of the witnesses in the Trayvon Martin trial, Rachel Jeantel, was on the phone with Trayvon moments before the scuffle with George Zimmerman that ended his life. One of the last things she heard the unarmed Trayvon say to the man who was following him with a gun that fateful night: “Why are you following me for?”

copy-b7a6905ca2fa02868fe5d4f077ccdbcd

Michael Brown died August 2014. Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson shot him at least six times, twice in the head. Michael was not armed. His friend and eyewitness reported that Michael said: “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” Minutes later, he was on the ground, bleeding. Dr. Michael M. Baden, the man who did Michael’s autopsy, told the New York Times, “In my capacity as the forensic examiner for the New York State Police, I would say, ‘You’re not supposed to shoot so many times.'”

copy-93aa9aaecbf75c262c20797bd0c655b6

Amadou Diallo died right outside his own apartment in the Bronx. He was unarmed. Four police officers shot 41 bullets, hitting Amadou 19 times. Later, they claimed that they had mistaken Amadou for a serial rapist. That same day, some of the last words he said to his mother as he spoke over the phone were, “Mom, I’m going to college.”

copy-cfb117071464aadb2c9bbdd2cba04774

Eric Garner died July 2014. He was unarmed. Police officers were trying to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Eric suffered from asthma, and as a police officer put his arm around Eric’s neck during the arrest, he managed to gasp, “I can’t breathe!” The New York City medical examiner’s office ruled Eric’s death a homicide, pointing out that the officer’s chokehold might have been a big factor.

copy-1e7e6af74cd47cd9510608d43573aa53

Jonathan Ferrell had been in a traffic accident and was knocking on a homeowner’s door for help. He was unarmed. An attorney later described a video of the incident, which reportedly showed that when police officers approached Jonathan, he was holding his hands out in a non-threatening manner. The police officers never identified themselves. One of them fired 12 times, and 10 of those bullets hit him. Even as Jonathan lay on the ground, bleeding and dying from 10 gunshot wounds, the officers handcuffed him. Jonathan’s dead body remained handcuffed all the way to the medical examiner’s office.

Correction: In the case of Jonathan Ferrell, there has not yet been a trial. The case is still pending. And in the video, which has not yet been shown to the public, only one police officer fired on Ferrell, not all three.

copy-9aefcec75f60b144c225b2583e8a405c

Oscar Grant was on a subway train in Oakland when a police officer forced him out of the car and onto the subway platform. Oscar was lying down when a second police officer shot a bullet into his back. “You shot me! You shot me!” Oscar yelled before he died. That officer later testified that he meant to use his Taser on Oscar instead of his handgun. A court later ruled that the two had no legal reason to get Oscar — who was unarmed — off the train.

copy-be6e97496abc145dfd752481f0667675

Kimani Gray was standing on a street in Brooklyn when police officers approached him. The officers claimed that when they approached Kimani, he pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at them. But one eyewitness, Tishana King, said Kimani never pointed a gun. She also said the police officers didn’t identify themselves when they approached. Police officers shot Kimani at least seven times, even though Kimani hadn’t shot a single bullet. One witness said some of Kimani’s last words were, “Please don’t let me die.”

copy-0f314f6905c8eaf3165a2b5681eb4152

Kendrec McDade died after a man called Oscar Carillo made a phony 911 call, telling police officers that he had just been the victim of an armed robbery. He later admitted that he had lied about the guns. The two officers eventually found Kendrec in an alleyway. They began shooting after Kendrec apparently moved his hands to his waistband. But Kendrec didn’t have a gun on him. All he had was a cellphone in his pocket. Court documents show that Kendrec’s last words were, “Why did you shoot me?”


as if all of the images + words above have not truly angered me enough, now i want to share a video. a powerful video. please… take the time to watch it. here is a little insight into why people are protesting around the country, especially in ferguson, missouri after last night’s verdict that there will be no charges for the killing of young michael brown. it’s people trying to make their voices heard. it’s people, young + old, who have to live every day of their lives wondering if the same thing will happen to them.

friends, it is time for a conversation. a real conversation. things cannot continue like this. i am angry. and sad. and embarrassed that such blatant injustice still exists. however, i do not condone violence in any way or in any form. so, the violence occuring surrounding the protests, is not the way to achieve the goal. if only we had martin luther king, jr. to lead us right now. please know, you may disagree with me and you may not think that the people who are protesting should be protesting… that’s fine. all i am saying is this: we need to begin talking about this. and not only talking, but listening. without judging. it’s time to dig deep and honor our humanity. can’t we do that? please?

all of the photos and stories are from an upworthy article that you can find {here}.

spread love + light xx

the sochi effect

iron-closet-gq-magazine-february-2014-russia-01

9e95b9c5460c816b632aab3d6c605c73 it’s time for the olympics. the winter ones, of course. and i’m semi-excited. ok. i’m not really excited at all. but, i know me. and as soon as news networks and twitter and Facebook friends begin posting stuff about the olympics, i will climb on board the olympic excitement train and get all caught up in curling (who knew that existed before the previous olympics?), figure skating, snowboarding, speed skating, and other events. and, as i do every olympics, the opening ceremonies will cause a tear to fall down my cheek. that is always a great moment of global unity, in my opinion.

but, this year, there is much, much more on my mind as well. and, maybe i will not climb on the olympic spirit train…

i suppose you could say that it’s hesitation. and concern. now, i’ve never been to russia so i know nothing about it first-hand. and i try not to judge a country i have not visited because they can be so completely different than expected – in good and bad ways. at least that’s what i’ve experienced. but, i must admit it, i am worried. scared, even. and, of course, i am angry.

right now all of the news seems to be about whether sochi is ready to host the olympics or not. can they handle the crowds? will there be violence or terrorism? on the news today there were reports that the accommodations for athletes are not up to par. the photos they showed were of fairly bare rooms, with toilets that you cannot put toilet paper in. instead, you use the trash can for the paper.

my first reaction to the “sub-par” conditions at hotels and such is this: suck it up. you are in another country and things will not be like they are at home. that’s what happens in different countries. and it is one of the beauties of travel – experiencing different cultures and ways of life, seeing how other people live, discovering and exploring. but, you must do this with an open mind. and with the expectation that things will not be the same. this is an adventure, and you will have stories galore to tell. not to mention, you will learn so much about yourself.

now, there is another issue that hits much more closely to home for me and you all have heard about it, i’m sure: LGBT rights. in russia, it is now illegal to be gay. and, from what i have read and seen, it is completely acceptable to bully, attack, and beat up any gay person or ally. it’s just horrible. ridiculous. and sickening.

and so, i am having a hard time reconciling the olympics (a global, unifying event) being in  this country where not all people are accepted. i could go on and on, but instead, i am going to leave you with a video. a very, very, very disturbing video. it is very graphic, so if you are sensitive, do not watch it. instead, read this article from gq:

iron-closet-gq-magazine-february-2014-russia-01

but, if you think you can handle it, here is the video. it is so important for us to be aware. warning! graphic & disturbing!

peace, love, and equality. xx

i will always believe that peace is the answer.

IMG_3261

IMG_3261

i am a news junkie. or nerd. or whatever you want to call me. and on sunday mornings in the states, if i’m home, i like to watch all the sunday morning talk shows. as depressing and skewed and manipulative it may be, i want to be informed. of course, i don’t just rely on the mainstream media to get my news. i also listen to/read independent newspapers/sources. i read commentary and try to listen to global perspectives as well. but, on sunday mornings, i catch up with good ole american sunday morning talk shows = news talk shows.

this past sunday, i did just that. i made a pot of coffee and sat down to hear the latest on syria. something that is on my mind pretty much constantly these days. how in the world have we found ourselves (the usa) in the place AGAIN, where we think we have to flex our muscles, be the police of the world, and intervene (perhaps on our own) militarily in another country’s conflict? not that we shouldn’t intervene. we most definitely should. what is happening in syria is tragic and inhumane. but, perhaps, if we can find the money to station destroyers in the mediterranean and send missiles to syria, then we could find the money (= use the same money) for the millions of syrian refugees living in horrible conditions instead. perhaps we could save lives instead of killing them.

oh, i know that this is a complicated (understatement!) situation, but something about it is simple. at least in my idealistic, theological mind. it’s about humanity. and then ends justifying the means. which in this case, they don’t. that’s my ethical take on it. here’s the simple statement… and i draw on martin luther king, jr. again after celebrating his legacy last week:

violence only creates more violence. period. it never, ever solves the problem. as king says it:

“darkness does not drive out darkness, only light can do that. hate does not drive out hate, only love can do that.”

missiles, war, violence, and the need to show our strength & credibility to the world do not solve any problems, they are simply egotistical. in my opinion, those who are the greatest, are the peacemakers, the ones who are humble and merciful and even meek. the ones who live and work for others, not for themselves. the world does not see them as “great”, but screw the world. since when did the world have everything right? is money, power, greed, and a tough appearance the only way to get respect? i think not. the truly great ones, stand their ground and do not give up, but they do it non-violently:

like ghandi, nelson mandela, mlk, jr., mother theresa, julian of norwich, perpetua, and countless more “regular” women & men & children who are left out of the history books… even you & i. if we choose it.

we can be great. we can make a difference. and we can work for true justice. but, it cannot be through violent means. peace will never be achieved by flexing our muscles and threatening and hitting and punishing. peace will be achieved through peace.

and so, today, during my forty days of fika time, i am going to meet with others in downtown asheville to meditate for peace… specifically for the events in syria, for world leaders, and for our own courage to live non-violent lives.

wherever you are, will you join me at some moment today to stop & think about those suffering in syria, and how the world should respond to the horrible human suffering going on in that country and in many others around the world? will you consider that the greatest way that you can be a peacemaker is, perhaps, in your own life, the the people that you meet everyday? if we all did that, then what would the world be like?

peace and harmony… to you all.