We Are Moving FORWARD! 

I laughed first, when I read Ted Cruz comment on SCOTUS decision Friday legalizing gay marriage in America. 

Then I was sad. 

Now I am reflective on the historic events of the past week. 

A week where  SCOTUS upheld that the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits for eligible Americans living around the country are legal. 

The same week, President Obama spoke at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was one of nine people senselessly  shot and killed at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Is the same week members of both political parties called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol grounds. 

To my friends working on justice, equality, race issues take a bow. The long journey on a narrow road has not been widened enough, but it’s wider than its ever been.

There is plenty of room for folks like Cruz when they come around to realize, this nation is not for you, it is for all of us. 

We are, because of the work of so many, in a different America then we were 50 years ago.  And a far different America  from 150 years ago, when slavery was abolished.

Although, there is much to rejoice about, there is time to reflect on the funeral service of Rev. Pinckney.

“Without a struggle, there will be no progress.”

The President’s speech during the service was filled with reflection on America’s journey.

Often, the tone on social media can feel tense as we discuss what we want to see in an ideal America.

The President’s speech was delivered with a measured somber tone and language that offers HOPE.

We can address the calamitous tone of those like Ted Cruz whose comment was that this is the “darkest 24 hours in in our Nation’s history” stronger and better with similar language of HOPE, instead of despair, frustration and anger.

That doesn’t mean those emotions are not just. They just don’t offer the class and dignity to those too often pushed down.

Together, the good people of this Nation have CHANGE and are moving FORWARD.

I was uplifted seeing the #LOVEWins yesterday. As some of you know, I’ve used the #LOVE often this year.  Even been lamented by some, who believe my encouragement of love and forgiveness is meant to wipe away the frustration of so many.

It is not meant to be defined that way. Rather it is meant to reflect that when you show LOVE even to those who are against you, the positive energy it emits will come back to you stronger and purer.

We saw that in the reaction of so many after SCOTUS decision on gay marriage and the response of millions around the world to the senseless Charleston shooting. The response of the victims families can teach us so much!

Our Nation has moved and CHANGE is here. We are moving FORWARD.

Our glass is not half empty.

OUR GLASS IS HALF FULL!

It is up to us to fill it. Either we can fill it with LOVE or hate. I choose LOVE.  Look at what happened yesterday and see the power of LOVE.  As the President eloquently said the murderer had no idea that his HATE would bring the opposite of what he intended.

How about you will you choose to LOVE or hate?

Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm in Washington, DC and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP).  Follow him on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

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Enough is Enough

Atiba

by Atiba Madyun

Very saddened to hear about the shooting in Charleston.  Unfortunately, it reminded me of the church bombing in Birmingham in 1963.

The gun culture in America has to be reformed.

America’s history is entwined so much in violence. Our country was created and founded in a document of war declaring our independence from England.

It took a war within to end the culture of slavery in our nation.

When we seek to level our playing fields ie. women’s right to vote and to end segregation it often came after a fight to end its oppression.

All of this including reading today that police officers (who carry guns) in Alabama with links to the KKK have been suspended.

The culture of hate in our nation is not spiraling, it is out of control. To those who believe every citizen has the right to bear arms I agree with you. But I don’t believe that every citizen or any citizen needs to own a gun. More and more, I believe most police officers should not be armed with a gun.

As a nation, we are at times respected and at times feared and at other times hated because of the power of our weaponry.

As a leader in the global community, it will take our citizens as we have many times before, coming together to end the gun culture as we know it.

It will take citizens coming together to champion for a society not predicated on violence, but one reformed by the recognition that if we don’t…..we will continue to have shootings like New Town, Connecticut where innocent little children and teachers were killed.

Or Arizona, where former Congresswoman Giffords was shot.

Or more Columbines and Virginia Techs. Or senseless killings in Chicago, DC and NY of innocent citizens and innocent police officers.

Or more shootings of young people like Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin or Walter Scott.

Or more shootings like the one last night in Charleston, SC…..

Enough is enough. Let’s not make this one about race even if it is!

Let’s make this about the billion dollar gun culture in America that makes people think they have power over someone else.

Let’s not make this about hate. Let’s make this about the serious mental illness we have in this country.

Let’s make this about something bigger than what we see on the surface.

Let’s make this about US. A nation seeking to become a more perfect Union.

May God Bless The United States of America!

#CharlestonShooting #AllLivesMatter #America #Guns

Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group, a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, DC and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP).  Follow on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

Letter to the GOP Candidates by Pete Rearden

Pete Reardon photo by Steve Watkins

Pete Reardon photo by Steve Watkins

GOP candidates,

Well now, it seems that your little clown car is filling up rather quickly isn’t it? From Lil’ Jebbie towards the center to the Don on the far right to Graham Cracker out in the right field parking lot, you guys are all promising a vibrant and booming economy, job growth, and lower taxes. I, a pragmatic independent voter would like to ask some questions about this and a few other matters which I am curious about.

First question: since WWII the United States has suffered through 42 quarters of negative GDP growth. Of these 42 quarters, 31 of them have been during Republican administrations. How, exactly, is that not a sign that your economic policies aren’t weaker than those of the Democrats? It would seem to me that having almost 3 times as many quarters of negative GDP growth as your opponents is a sign that your economic policies don’t work. Granted, I am not possessed of an advanced degree in economics, so I may be missing something in the nuances, but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. In the past 70 or so years your pudding hasn’t tasted that great.

Let me ask you about taxes now. It has often been said that the tree of liberty must occasionally be nurtured with the blood of patriots. Since this is quite obviously a metaphorical statement, could that blood not also, metaphorically speaking come from the wallets of patriotic individuals and patriotic corporations? It would seem to me that when the nation isn’t being invaded, that those taxes could realistically be considered the blood of patriots needed to nurture the tree of liberty.

Moving right along, let’s discuss social issues shall we? For a group of individuals who claim to be all about liberty, freedom, and personal accountability, you sure don’t act like it when it comes to a number of social issues. Take marriage equality. Other than the fact that you wouldn’t be able to treat a class of American citizens like second class people, there are no down sides to it. It is a personal choice two people make. No one is going to force religions which don’t accept gay marriage to perform same sex weddings, and in fact, your strong stand against marriage equality violates the religious freedoms of many religious sects in the United States.

Women’s reproductive rights are another matter you take strong moral issue with. Why? If you are so big on freedom and liberty, why oppress the freedom of women to determine the course of their lives? I’ve known women who have had abortions. It has never been a choice they made flippantly, and in many ways is the height of accountability. They will have to remain accountable to themselves for the rest of their lives.

If you are so dead set against abortion, then why not make safe, effective methods of birth control available to women, along with evidence based sex education? Those have been proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, to reduce abortion numbers far more effectively than restricting access to abortions. Seriously. Do you guys live in the real world, or in some fantasy?

Before you trot out Jesus, God, and the Bible, answer me this: where in the Bible does it unambiguously say that God opposes abortion? I’ve read the whole book a couple of times through, especially the more salacious bits, of which there are many. Nowhere in the book do I find a specific and unilateral injunction against abortion. Quite the opposite in fact. In the Bible forcing a woman to miscarry (aka an abortion,) is a civil matter involving a weregild. Since I am sure you aren’t familiar with the concept of a weregild, it is a monetary remuneration for the lost life. It wasn’t an offense which called for death. It wasn’t called an abomination. It required no ritual ablutions or ritual exile to cleanse the guilty party. It was a monetary transaction. I bet you didn’t know this, but according to the Bible you love to thump so much, between the ages of birth and one month, there wasn’t even a fine for killing a child. They were to be considered ‘as water.’ Between the ages of one month and five years the weregild was reinstated: three shekels for a girl, and five shekels for a boy. The Bible is unambiguous about that.

Speaking of God and the Bible, I note that many of you are quite willing to invoke his name and his will. It is only the savage who claims to know the mind and the will of God implicitly. What we can glean of the mind of God, through the Bible is that he is a champion of the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, and those rejected by society at large. Did Christ hang out with the wealthy, the powerful, the elite, rabbis, and the like? Nowhere in any bible I’ve read. He associated with tax collectors (traitors to their people and their faith,) whores, fishermen, lepers, beggars, Samaritans (blasphemers,) and criminals. In fact, Jesus was forced to his death by a group of devoutly pious individuals who wanted only to protect their religious freedoms. Wouldn’t it be more honest of you to identify with the Pharisees, Saducees, and the Sanhedrin? I for one would be more willing to vote for you if you were that honest with yourselves and me.

These are all the questions and comments I have for you right now. Rest assured, as your campaigns progress I will have more uncomfortable questions to ask, but ‪#‎JebBush‬ ‪#‎ScottWalker‬ ‪#‎DonaldTrump‬ ‪#‎MarcoRubio‬ ‪#‎TedCruz‬ ‪#‎LindseyGraham‬ ‪#‎CarlyFiorino‬ ‪#‎BenCarson‬ ‪#‎RandPaul‬ ‪#‎MikeHuckabee‬ ‪#‎RickSantorum‬ ‪#‎GeorgePataki‬ ‪#‎RickPerry‬ ‪#‎ChrisChristie‬ ‪#‎BobbyJindal‬ ‪#‎JohnKasich‬, if any of you have the courage to reply with concise and articulate answers to these questions I will be more than happy to read your answers with an open mind.

One last thing, and this is directed specifically at Jeb, Don, and Scott; why do you feel it is morally acceptable to use the hard work of musicians for your own self aggrandizement without first asking their permission, or offering remuneration? That is called theft, and I believe your Bible has some pretty unilateral injunctions against stealing.

A concerned voter,
Pete

Pete Rearden is a photographer, photojournalist, and opinionated commenter on America.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author and should not be attributed to Cognitive Relevance (CR).

What Yoga and A Detox Did For Me!

Atiba

By Atiba Madyun

“Look at your belly” I told my uncles.

“Laugh now, it could happen to you,” they warned.

I didn’t believe them until a few months ago, when my nephew said “Uncle Tiba I have a six pack.” I touched my stomach remembering their warning.

Years ago, I worked out often and ate all the ice cream and fried chicken I wanted. As my thirties came, then went, my work travel increased. Maybe, you can relate.  The pounds didn’t come off as fast.  Hotel and fast food became a part of my diet. My doctor cautioned, “you are borderline hypertensive.”

On this journey, six years ago, I attended my first hot yoga class.  My second was four months ago. After both, I reflected on the bad things in my body. My stamina sucked, flexibility was horrible, and I didn’t like what I saw in the mirrors.

After some soul searching, I knew it was time to fix my mind, body and soul. I remembered something my great-grandmother used to tell us, “One step at a time and that done well is a very good thing as many can tell.”

Four months ago, at my girlfriend, Amanda’s encouragement, I started going to yoga at the studio she founded, Mind Your Body Oasis (MYBO). I was curious about her studio and wondered, “can yoga get off some weight and improve my optimal health.” Little did I know, she was moving me in the direction of building a healthier mind, body, and soul.

Amanda’s studio offers a holistic approach to achieving goals like mine. She kept saying “I know from personal experience, as well as working with my clients, that nutrition is 80% of losing and maintaining weight, reversing and preventing chronic illness, living optimally, and aging gracefully. The rest is knowing how to prevent the damages of stress hormones, exercise/physical movement and mind/body connection.”

She introduced me to the benefits of eating organic vegetable/foods, wild caught fish, grass fed beef, free range chicken, eliminating almost all wheat and sugar from my diet. Then encouraged me to try a 10 day detox.  I did and the results were and still are hard to ignore.

After completing the detox, my energy increased.  So did my desire to practice yoga and exercise.  And then, yoga and exercise made me want to maintain the nutrition path the detox showed me.  Now, I’m closer to having those abs back!

Yoga has made me push myself more and test my limits.  In turn, I have found greater balance, stability and inner peace. My poses aren’t perfect.  There’s endless practice ahead.  It will be an endless journey but as I stretch my boundaries, and my stamina increases, guess what?  I feel better even though I am still awkward with my poses.  As I look in that mirror, I appreciate the journey, because after each practice, I can do more.  And I see myself inwardly making progress.

As a thinker, I appreciate how yoga tests my mind and body and I am achieving greater mental and physical balance.  Concentration on breathing during practice has brought greater inner peace outside class. I look inward out instead of outward in. This mindfulness brings greater calm, awareness, compassion and peace in my humanity and greater spiritual awareness. Above all, its brought love and peace to being human.

My friend, who introduced me to yoga said, “If everyone practiced yoga once a week, we wouldn’t have any more wars.” I think it would wonderful if everyone practiced once a week.  I believe it would happen bring inner peace to a lot of people that would turn into outward peace for many more.

I can’t convince you to change your diet, or detox and practice yoga. I am simply sharing a window into my journey.   Perhaps, one day soon, you will try yoga, detox or both.

What do you have to lose?

Namaste

Mind Your Body Oasis provides an Oasis to escape the rigors of daily life.  MYBO offers Yoga, Hot Yoga, Pilates, health coaching, acupuncture and massages and other services.  It is located in the middle of Crystal City and Arlington, Virginia.  To learn more about MYBO and its services please visit http://www.mindyourbodyoasis.com.

Atiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

Are We the Problem…..

Social-Media

I haven’t blogged in a while, because I have been studying habits and reading your posts on Facebook.   I haven’t posted as many news stories even though some of you might say I post a lot too. 🙂  I still have opinions but realize that some of what we are saying and sharing sometimes creates more division.

Some who see me post, or read might say, I put a lot of thoughts into what I share.  And I do……

Its nice to keep up with what’s going on in people’s lives but more importantly see how people are thinking.  And the more I read, the more I make an effort to stay away from negativity and only read the positive posts.

Some posts are beautiful! Particularly the ones with your children and families move me.

But over the past year, I have recognized that many posts about politics, political parties, racism and discrimination are just as biased and racially charged as the act they seek to condemn.

How much hate there is in the World!  If we remember that hate produces hate until someone injects love into the mix, perhaps we would be more careful about what we post.  More importantly seek to say things in a way to make things better.

I don’t agree with posting things about Bruce Jenner’s sex change, the Kardashians, Beyoncé etc. who make more and more money with each post at the expense of poor and middle class people. Or the show Empire on FOX because it portrays negative stereotypes that feed a monster of money for FOX News that promotes hate and division.

I believe that we could be and do so much better than the negativity that is out there if we stop to recognize how “We” feed the monsters of poverty, division, racial divide and political division that we often condemn.

If the poor and middle class keep supporting wealth in a way that drives poverty creating more outlets for crime, how do we stop the cycle if we don’t recognize the habit?

At some point instead of pointing the finger at others, wouldn’t it be more productive if we decided that our posts and comments, actions and will could do a lot more together to eliminate the social issues and problems that race, economic disparity create.

That could create better avenues to pursue human excellence instead of its polar opposite?

What do you think?

AtibaAtiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.