Monday, January 16, 2017

Why We Can't Wait

Today is the day we remember the great leader, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and all the lessons he taught us. Dr King has been dead longer than he lived, but his legacy will be eternal, and for good reason. He had ideals. He was a man of love and of courage and of the belief that we really all are equal, and that everyone should be treated that way. Dr King didn't put things off hoping the next day would be brighter, he worked in the here and now, and encouraged others to do the same thing. His Letter from Birmingham Jail, written on April 16, 1963, gives us examples of why we need to do something NOW. There is an urgency that you can clearly see in this one sentence, that points out that waiting is not the way to go.

"But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your 6-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a 5-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs;” when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness;" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."

The same kind of urgency is always present when people are being treated unfairly. When people of color are being slaughtered by police officers, when our transgender sisters are being murdered just for being themselves, when elected officials take away healthcare from millions of Americans all in the name of politics - these are times when we can't wait. These are times when we must get involved and do something. What good is whining about an election, or about unfair wages, or about gun violence, or about racism or homophobia, if we are going to just sit back and allow things to stay as they are? Did we learn nothing from our brother Martin?

Wonderful ceremonies are taking place across the nation today, and numerous programs are reminding us of the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, but the biggest thing we need to remember is that when something is wrong, we can't wait. We need to get incolved. We need to follow Dr King's lead, and do everything we can to bring justice to all.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fifty

Walking down an unfamiliar street in Buffalo, New York many years ago, it suddenly began to rain. It wasn't a light shower but rather a cold and pounding downpour. I wasn't wearing an overcoat and had no umbrella, so I was soaked almost immediately. My usual sunny mood had turned to quite the opposite, but all that was about to change.

Hurrying up the sidewalk with water pouring off of me, I looked down and there in front of me was a fifty dollar bill! Oh my! Now the rain didn't seem so bad. If it hadn't been raining, surely that money would have blown away. I put it in my pocket and continued on my way.

Later when I mentioned my good luck to a friend, he said "But it isn't yours. Did you even try to find the rightful owner?"

This wasn't a wallet or an identifiable piece of property. It was US currency that someone had likely dropped without knowing, but since I didn't witness it, how could I possibly find the person it belonged to?

I'm telling you this story today to solicit your thoughts. Was I wrong to keep it? Was that a dishonest act? What would YOU have done?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hospital Roommates

Occasionally I have shared stories here that are not my own. Today I have one of those. This has been floating around on the internet, and I have no idea who wrote it, but please read on for a moving tale.

"Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for endless hours.

"They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation.

"Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

"The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

"One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

"Days and weeks passed.

"One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

"As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

"Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall!

"The man called the nurse and asked her what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'"

Great story, huh? As I said, the author of this is unknown. You may have even read it before, but I think it is worth seeing again. I was very moved when I first read this story, and I hope it touches you as well.  Do share this with others too. That's what encouragement is all about.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

What do you think?

My thoughts and the ideas I put forth each day in this space, are not the only concepts out there. Yes, I make suggestions on how we might all help make this a better world, but are my ideas any good? Are there better ways? Your sentiments are worth hearing too, even if we might not agree with them.

I have said this before, and will likely say it many more times, but even though this blog is NOT about me, it is written by me, and therefore is heavy laden with my opinion. What about yours though? You much have thoughts on the subjects I post here. Do you agree with me or disagree? Let's hear YOUR opinion too!

Right under the last line I write each day it says "blogged by Michael Fullam at time." Right next to that you will see a place where you can comment. I'd really love to hear your opinion. I'm sure many people would like to look at the thoughts of others as well.

So, after all these years, you pretty much know what I think about a LOT of things. You have read countless suggestions from me and I've told you about good deeds and folks I consider inspirations to me. Now, take a moment or two and tell me what YOU think!

Friday, December 2, 2016

For him it makes a difference

Another one of those "internet parables" came my way the other day, and although you may have heard it, this one again is worth sharing. Like others I have shared here in the past, I have no idea who the author is.

It seems an old man was going for a walk one day when he noticed a little boy feeding a thin, shaggy looking dog with bits of bread. He went up to the boy and asked him why he was sharing his bread with the dog.

The little boy answered, "Because he has nothing. No home, no family, and if I don’t feed him he will die."

"But there are homeless dogs everywhere," the old man replied. "Your efforts don’t really make a difference."

The little boy looked at the dog and stroked him. "For him, for this little dog, it makes all the difference in the world."

I wish I knew who wrote this because they get it so amazingly right. Did you ever hold back from donating money or food or anything else because you could only spare a small amount and thought it wouldn't make a difference? If we all fed those homeless dogs - if we all fed those homeless people, it would make such a difference. I'm thinking we just might wipe out homelessness!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Wheels on the bus go round and round

Back when I lived in San Francisco, I rode the bus nearly every day. There was a lot of complaining about the buses being crowded at certain times of day, or about them running late, but it was still a pretty good way to get around. When I saw the same driver and he or she would smile or call me by name, that was a nice warm connection that seemed to melt other problems away.

Dealing with so many people every day would seem to be a pretty tough job, and yet most of those bus drivers were so good at their task. It particularly warmed my heart when they gave you a "bonus" like the drivers that sang out the stops or who made those extra announcements, especially when there were some jokes thrown in.

Last week, a friend of mine told me that he had lost his wallet while riding a bus. Losing money is never good, but when your ID and credit cards, and all those other things you carry are gone too, it can ruin your day. When the mail came a few days later, and it contained his wallet, that was a lovely surprise! Enclosed with it was a simple note: "I found this on my coach. Signed, Bus Driver." He wanted to get it back to its owner, but didn't care about any thanks, so didn't leave his name or any kind of identification. What a nice driver!

The operators of public transportation preform an important service. Too often we moan about the negative moments and ignore all the positive. The next time you ride a city bus or taxi, let your driver know they are appreciated.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The passing of a journalist’s journalist

Through my many years in broadcast journalism, I never met Gwen Ifill, but I'm sure glad she came our way. Hearing news of her passing yesterday after a months long bout with cancer, brought me to tears, and more tears have flowed at various points since then, as I hear tribute after tribute.

Gwen Ifill, who co-anchored the PBS News Hour, was referred to as "a journalist’s journalist," and every single thing I have heard about her has been positive. Last night, everyone was reporting her death and her own program devoted much of it's time to memories of her.
 
One of her contemporaries said that her office almost looked like a museum because of all the trophies and awards. Earlier this year she added to the many, receiving the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism from Columbia University. Oh and she's received more than twenty honorary doctorates.

I was touched by her strong faith too. She was a minister's daughter, and that frequently means you run away from the church, but she was very involved. Her pastor said yesterday that she was present each week for worship

I remember the Gwen Ifill years at NBC, because during part of that time, I worked for an NBC affiliate. Her former colleague Pete Williams was brought to tears yesterday several times when he tried to report on her life. Former NewsHour reporter Charlayne Hunter-Gault began sobbing as well. Fighting back his own tears, CNN's Don Lemon closed his thoughts to Gwen Ifill with: "I won't say goodbye, because goodbyes are so hard. But I will say, so long and thank you."

There are countless stories that I could retell here, but the biggest thing is that she made a difference. She was a trailblazer for African Americans and for women and she was a mentor to many. She was fair and honest and she was always real. Gwen Ifill will be missed.