Sunday, December 25, 2011

Love; The true Gift of Christmas!

Christmas isn't a holiday I've actively celebrated for many years now.  Perhaps it is because of the over commercialization of the holiday or the pain from years of watching others not truly understand what this holiday is about.  As a child I was taught that this was Jesus' birthday, then I grew up and learned this day was actually an old Pagan celebration called Saturnalia that the early church decided to take over to convert the Pagans to Christianity.

No one knows the actual date of the mythical Jesus (yes, I said mythical, as there is no record to acknowledge his physical presence upon this earth), so the real reason for the season isn't to celebrate Jesus' birthday.  It's to celebrate a Pagan celebration, another attempt by the Christians to control everyone and everything without any regard to the value of age old traditions, cultures, or even humanity.

Yes, I grew up in the Christian church, learned the teachings of the Bible, and even became a Southern Baptist Preacher.  I used to love Christmas and the decorating and gift giving, but now there is no reason for the season for me as I have watched with dismay for many years the very negative affect that Christians have upon the world.  Let me say that in all of my 49 years, I have only met a few people that I would actually say were Christ Like (which is what is meant by the term Christian).  Those people have all had a profound affect upon my life and will always be remembered for their actions through love, even when they may not understand or approve, but their love guided them, not hate.

Thank you Martha Meda Taylor, thank you Ellen Rose Synder, and thank you to those whose names I can no longer remember, but your actions I still do.  You all showed me what it meant to be a Christian in a world where so many do not live the life of Christ, yet call themselves follows of Him.

If only all of those that call themselves Christians would live their lives as He did, then our world would indeed be a better place, yet sadly, they do not and instead choose to act as the Sagacies and Pharicees in the stories of Jesus that he condemned.  Jesus showed and taught love, acceptance, and more importantly he taught living a life of love through your actions, not through your words.  Oh, if only these modern day Christians would know what it is they are doing to the name of Christ through all the hate they spread, through building monuments to themselves when they should be giving to the poor and needy.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees by saying,
"you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness"
(The book of Matthew 23:28)

This year I chose to honor my beloved grandmother, Vera B. Lee, this Christmas and instead of a tree there is a beautiful Christmas Cactus and some red Poinsettias.  She lived her life through love and encouraged me through her acts of love to do the same.  This year, for the first year in ages, I sent out cards and I received some thoughtful gifts - two of them.  I've been invited to join the celebrations at other friend's homes, but today is a day I shall spend with myself, accompanied with my two lovely canine companions.

Perhaps there is little love in my heart, perhaps the pain and anger have taken it all away, but yet there are those that ever remind me that love is the key.  Yes, I do believe there is a Santa Clause, Virginia.  Because Santa also teaches love, isn't that what Christmas is all about - Love?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time's Person of the Year - The Protester! When governments fear the people!

“Protest beyond the law
is not a departure from democracy;
it is absolutely essential to it. ” 

As the new year of 2012 approaches, it is being welcomed by a new resurgence of Civil Disobedience and Civil Unrest as people around the globe have grown tired of tyranny, corrupt governments, restrictive laws, and of being challenged for equal rights.  The Mayans, many cultures and doomsday prophecies have indicated that the year 2012 will mark the end of things as we know it.  Perhaps they were right, but not in the "end of the world" viewpoint (which it might be), but rather through the unrest of the people who will stand up and cause governments to topple, liberties to be regained, and to demand equal rights no matter who they are or what their religious beliefs may be.

Time's Person of the Year - The Protester!

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty.
When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."

Stand up for Liberty and Justice, Speak out against corruption and the denial of Human Rights!

This year marks a milestone in that Time Magazine's Person of the Year, isn't an actual person.  Instead it is the Protester, the people that have fought for freedom, stood up against corruption, and have changed the 'status quo'.

Once upon a time, when major news events were chronicled strictly by professionals and
printed on paper or transmitted through the air by the few for the masses, protesters were prime makers of history. Back then, when citizen multitudes took to the streets without weapons to declare themselves opposed, it was the very definition of news — vivid, important, often consequential.

In the 1960s in America they marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; in the '70s,
they rose up in Iran and Portugal; in the '80s, they spoke out against nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Europe, against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,
against communist tyranny in Tiananmen Square and Eastern Europe.
Protest was the natural continuation of politics by other means.

The two decades beginning in 1991 witnessed the greatest rise in living standards
that the world has ever known. Credit was easy, complacency and apathy were rife, and street protests looked like pointless emotional sideshows — 
obsolete, quaint, the equivalent of cavalry to mid-20th-century war.

We can no longer sit idly by as corruption grows, civil liberties are taken away, and basic human rights are denied.  If you are enjoying life, it may be within a gilded cage.  Our responsibility is to defend justice and make our voices heard in order to affect positive change and create a peaceful world.

'Massive and effective street protest' was a global oxymoron until —
suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times.
And the protester once again became a maker of history.

Many may not support the current protests happening around the globe, however, they are expressing the very concerns that many of us share - Civil Liberties, Human Rights, The End of Corruption, and The Demand for Accountability.  Thus, here's some information about why Occupy Wall Street is growing in momentum and quotes to encourage action, not silence.  It's not just the 99% that are speaking out, but also those with respect for justice, such as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her speech to the United Nations.

Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011
in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the
United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process,
and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused
the greatest recession in generations.
The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia,
and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules
of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.

“I heartily accept the motto,
"That government is best which governs least";
and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.
Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — 
"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, 
that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; 
but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.” 

“It was civil disobedience that won them their civil rights.” 

“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. 
Arrest for its breach is more so. 
Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted 
not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. 
This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.” 

“if we don’t rebel,
if we’re not physically in an active rebellion,
then it’s spiritual death.” 

Perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, victims: we can be clear about three of these categories.
The bystander, however, is the fulcrum. If there are enough notable exceptions,
then protest reaches a critical mass.
We don’t usually think of history as being shaped by silence,
but, as English philosopher Edmund Burke said,
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.’

No one could make a greater mistake
than he who did nothing because
he could do only a little.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Justice Department Settles with Kentucky Apartment Complex

Please circulate - the following press release comes from the Department of Justice:

Justice Department Settles with Kentucky Apartment Complex Involving Allegations of Disabilty-based Housing Discrimination

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced a settlement of its lawsuit against the owners, developers, architect and civil engineers of Park Place Apartments, a 276-unit complex in Louisville, KY, resolving allegations that those involved in the design and construction of the complex discriminated against people with disabilities.  Under the settlement, which must still be approved by a federal district judge in Louisville, the defendants will pay all costs related to making the apartment complex accessible to persons with disabilities and pay $275,000 to compensate 29 individuals who have been harmed by the inaccessible housing.

"The Fair Housing Act requires equal access to housing for persons with disabilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, “and this comprehensive resolution will ensure equal access at this apartment complex and compensate those injured by the defendants’ failure to provide accessible housing.”

“Our office is committed to ensuring that all Kentucky residents have equal access to housing,” stated David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. “We will continue to build on our record of enforcing fair housing laws and remove these barriers that are discriminatory to Kentuckians with disabilities.”

The defendants responsible for the payments and retrofits are Kevin Cogan, Doris Cogan, Edwynn Burkle, George Clark, the Estate of James A. Hall, Bayus Inc., Mindel Scott & Associates Inc. and A. Stanley Willett. The retrofitting includes modifying walkways, removing steps, providing accessible curb ramps and providing accessible walks to site amenities, such as the clubhouse, pool, mailbox and trash facilities. It also requires the defendants to reconfigure thermostats and outlets to accessible heights, increase door widths and reconfigure bathrooms and kitchens.

The lawsuit arose from a complaint that was filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by a former resident of Park Place Apartments, who is represented by the Lexington Fair Housing Council, a Kentucky-based non-profit organization that enforces federal, state and local fair housing laws. HUD referred the matter to the Justice Department, which conducted its own investigation and subsequently filed the lawsuit in August 2010.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, email the Justice Department, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.