Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
This is from a previous entry. Enjoy!
Note: I meant to put this up on the 4th, but I couldn't put this up on time.....enjoy!
You don’t need me to tell you folks to have a good time this 4th of July. It’s that time of year where we get to feast on food, fun and other enjoyable things worth mentioning on this long weekend. All I ask is for some of you to take it easy on the barbeque, ease up on the potato salad and definitely have a great time. For most of us, the 4th of July means something special; not only is it a great time to spend with friends and family but it also signals when the Founding Fathers finally established independence for this nation.
You won’t get a smile out of Frederick Douglass however.
You remember Mr. Douglass, don’t you? I wrote a piece about his famous speech last year around the same time. (Go ahead, look it up in the archives, I dare you!) His (in)famous speech by one of the greatest and well-known orators ever, revolved around the significance of our American Independence Day and what it meant to the slaves, who weren’t recognized as human beings until the 13th—15th Amendments of the 1860’s. Here's part of what he said in his famous July 4th speech:
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
With that being said, it’s no wonder that most people would be up in arms over his comment. However, I think it’s important to note on a day where we celebrate our freedom as a nation, is the sham that we as citizens, are totally free. Everyday we live we see the foundations of the Bill of Rights challenged by the descendants of those who are sworn to protect our basic liberties and rights. Since the gruesome tragedy of 9/11/01, it has become increasingly clear that most Americans would rather give away their rights rather than be free. Isn’t that idea a slap in the face to all the soldiers who’ve fought for our country, needless to say the soldiers fighting our current wars now?
No matter how you feel about a current policy, it’s important to note we have fathers who haven’t seen their children in years. I know of one veteran right now who is overseas and before he left he wanted to make sure he made it back home to see his girl. I emphasize with him and all the other brave men and women following the orders of our government – who should have their best interests in heart after the job is done.
I wonder if the fact we’re so afraid of another attack on our country that we would give up almost all of our rights is one big sham. When you consider the fact most of this country’s citizens live in areas where there are dangers more than a man declaring chaos from a mountaintop, these unfortunate citizens already have to deal with not wearing a certain color for fear they would be shot or killed; among other things. Our youth are quickly finding out in their neighborhoods, this may be a land of liberty they thread upon, but in the eyes of a few, is no worse than one of the countries we’re working hard to ‘liberate’.
If a person wishes to relinquish his or her right to privacy, sacrifice their rights to say whatever is on their heart in fear of political or personal retribution, and even allowing certain factions to dictate how they live, what they should say, etc, then America is no worse than the ‘Evil Empire’ we accused Russia of so many years before. We may say God Bless America, but I would venture a thought He also frowns upon our country because we can do more, we can do better than what we’re doing right now in the way we treat each other.
If Douglass insisted the 4th is a sham to the slave, then it’s my sincerest hope that it doesn’t become much of a sham that the Founding Fathers who insisted we enjoy the Pursuit of Liberty, won’t have to bow their heads in disgust witnessing all they’ve gained, thrown away.
That would be the ultimate sham.
So it has happened. Gay marriage is now the law of the land here in America.
There’s been so much emotion, anger, back and forth commentary, biblical and otherwise that I’m not going to contribute to it. Instead, I’d like to share what marriage has meant to the two people who mean a lot to me, my parents. This is their fiftieth year together, so I hope I can learn something from them that will not only help me, but anyone who knows someone who has been in a long marriage, I hope this helps without the euphoria of past days.
Let me just state this and we can debate this at any time. I don’t mind. Without my father and mother’s act of procreation, this author would not be here right now writing this to you. It took one man and one woman to make a child, me. I wasn’t formed in a test tube, no sperm donor deposited their genetic brew into my mother’s womb, and it wasn’t by any method any ‘mad’ scientist came up in a lab, it was natural, the entire process. So I can say, without their contribution physically, I would not have grown up the man I am today with a sound mind and body.
For those of you who disagree with the first paragraph, your mileage may vary and we can discuss this anytime. That’s what the comment section is for.
I’ve seen my parents go through their ups and downs, from showing affection for each other to outright arguments. My father never laid a hand on my mother, never. At times, Chuck wasn’t the easiest man to get along with, but he could compromise and settle his differences with my mother when it was needed. Even after fifty years, my mother and father are still together, honoring their vows of ‘till death do us part’. Love has been displayed as many things in recent days, but no one has dared said, love hurts, love heals, love is not just love, but it’s life. When you’ve been with a spouse for fifty years, all of these things make sense.
I am reminded of one of my father’s best friends who celebrated his fiftieth wedding anniversary a year before he passed away. I remember the lavish party held in a banquet room near East Los Angeles and the guests who came out to show their love and appreciation of a couple through their ups and downs, highs and lows, stuck together for half a century. Love requires commitment and a bit of sacrifice, none of these things the activists or pundits will tell you. I imagine they haven’t been married as long as my parents or my father’s best friend.
I am a Christian so of course I am going to side with this definition of marriage as stated in Ephesians 5:31 which reads:
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.
So as I look at my own marriage, I recognize my wife and I are one – the same interests, the same mindset, the same goals and dreams. We are a team and continue to be so until ‘death do us part’. When I look back at my elders and parents who have been married for a long time, who has gone through their own challenges and victories, who faced hardships and found a way to overcome them, it says to me that this marriage thing is a lot harder than it looks, but it can also be the sweetest experience in the world.
I’m also a realist and understand that it doesn’t matter what I say, this generation is going to do what it wants to do, even though the Divine might not be as willing to accept these unions as we would like to believe.
I expect to be cast out by friends, family, you name it, debated, cursed out and this is a good one – intellectualized on this heated subject. It doesn’t change how I feel about certain people, although we can agree to disagree on this for once, just this once.
No matter your take on this subject, marriage is much more than what the marches and pundits, victorious activists tell us. It’s a lifelong commitment, a bonding together of two souls who may never really get to know everything about each other, but marriage does have that one solid component of love, and in the end, that’s all a proper union needs.
P.S. Funny how a lot can change in a decade, eh? Here is the original piece I wrote nine years ago of a different view of marriage.
Nice guy, I have tried to be the voice of reason with you for about ten years and still you’re not convinced not only women don’t want or need you, now they’ve resorted to mocking you instead! This word has been passed around like gospel among the internet in the past year but used to define a ‘special’ type of woman who claims she’s more impressed with your mind and intelligence than your physical attributes. Apologies to all the women who sincerely believe in this word, but for all the rest, you’re lying!!!!!! I have the ‘receipts’ to prove it! The word is called Sapiosexual, and here is the definition of it.
Nice guy, don’t you feel the least bit offended? Ask the women who believe in this fantasy if they saw into the mind of one Jeremy Meeks. You know, the one married felon these Sapiosexual women saw beyond the tattooed teardrop and….......
Wait a minute, they didn’t look beyond that, didn’t they? You see Nice Guy, you are doomed! Doomed to grow old and die! You have a better chance of surviving an attack on an island filled with ravenous prehistoric monsters than to have a woman attracted to you because of your ‘intelligence’. We all know modern women look more for the physical and financial attributes of height, resume and six-figures for them to even give you an opportunity to speak with them! Nice Guy, as I mentioned, you are doomed!
Nice Guy, be sure not to fall into the trap of these so-called ‘sapiosexual’ women who are only interested in getting to know your heart. They may be interested in crushing it and laugh at you for falling for their latest trick! These women are out to clown you Nice Guy, they’re not interested if you have intelligence and manners. All they want is a bad boy like Jeremy Meeks, and not even worried about his martial status in the least! They’re not worried about your status unless you’re six feet under and your dead body turning into worm food! Do your best not to be a sucker instead of a sapiosexual pansy for these women who don’t even care about you and never will.
Note: you shouldn't take this seriously, unless you're a nice guy...........
There is only one Mr. Serling, and that is Rod Serling.
Dear Mr. Serling,
Forty years ago you left us sir, and our public consciousness never recovered from your sudden exit. This world and future generations will always remember you as the narrator and tour guide to the Twilight Zone, in which you revealed more about ourselves in the sixth dimension than in our own. Who could ever forget for five years the masterful display of human emotion, hubris and heartbreak wrapped up in a single half hour (then an hour in later seasons) showing the best of us, the worst of what we had to offer all but most of all reminding us how to be humane when others were not. You were not known for writing books, but your contributions into the world of the art are legendary and must be lauded.
Mr. Serling, it is without a doubt rewarding after researching your journeys to the Twilight Zone before and after, how you used your marvelous gift of writing to convey tales sponsors and perhaps members of a 1950’s society didn’t want to hear. You showed us that within this ‘golden age’, there were cracks unchecked and societal issues that must be uncovered but did not have the opportunity to do so when the sponsors stopped you at every turn. How memorable would Playhouse 90 have been if they allowed you to write of your planned Emmitt Till story rather than Requiem for a Heavyweight and Patterns that convinced them your vision of storytelling could work successfully, and an audience for it.
Sir, I wish I could say our country and world has finally accomplished what would have been considered impossible; life in a country and world where there is absolute tolerance and the same nightmares and cautionary tales you penned did not come to pass. As an idealist as you were (and a great one at that) regrettably, there are plenty of Number 12’s who flood our airwaves and a contraption that I’m sure would have been of interest to you called the internet and the evolution of what we term social media. It has contributed to a variety of Monsters who live farther from Maple Street and who are just as alive and dangerous than as we could ever have imagined. Our excesses and greed have caused us to poison children via vaccines, kill each other as we bow at the altar of the almighty dollar – these issues you spent your entire life protesting against, although it was intervention over a failed war that was your concern during your lifetime.
It is unfortunate and disheartening Mr. Serling, that we’ve fallen into an age of conformity, where there’s a push for everyone to become the same. Did you not warn us of the danger of this? Did you not sound the alarm that our irrational fears manipulated by men who care not for the positive growth and development of mankind? I pray Mr. Serling that one day we as writers will challenge those fears deep within the chasms of our own hearts and like you, use our talents to convince future generations fear is not a viable solution for growth, but peace and understanding for all.
I can say Mr. Serling, I observed a series of videos where you spoke to a group of whom I believe to be college students and shared dispensing your wisdom and expertise of the art and mechanics of the written word. Your passions on the permanency of the words we write were examined closely and it is my hope that in generations to come, future writers will begin to use their gifts to dissect the evils of mankind instead of letting their desires and lusts take control of their gifts.
Mr. Serling, I live with a generation of writers whose voices are stifled, their tales compromised, visions cut short by the demands of a market with a lack of appetite for the substantive stories that engaged us through your travels in the Twilight Zone. You left us too soon Mr. Serling. Our generation needs more writers like you, more visionaries who can help us tread carefully through the tricky depths of this wayward dimension. Until that time comes when we are motivated to expand our minds and hearts to absorb morals of your tales and your efforts, we will be forever lost. We need you more than ever. You were gone too soon but hopefully within our generation there will be writers willing to throw down the gauntlet and show us the way. Thank you for giving us an idea and blueprint in which writers can use to write stories about issues that elevate the best of us, rather than promote the worst. Thank you so much.
A fan of your work
When men gaze upon me, I have for so long been used to the stare I receive from them. I assume they take into account by listening to their more conservative or liberal friends that I am ‘less than’ they. That I do not possess the intellectual or articulate capacity on an equal level needed to validate my existence with them. Somehow, I am seen more as a….how should I put it….subhuman despite I also inherit a brain, two appendages on my torso and lower body, a heart which pumps the same blood as they, and I seek to live the abundant life the Creator wishes for us all.
I look at these individuals and believe in their hearts I play the role of the thug, the pimp, the gangsta, the shiftless, the n’er-do-well, the savage, the cold, calculating heartless beast who lives to impregnate their women. They never see another side or if they do, are more tolerant of the quiet nature instead of the opinionated side of me. It makes these individuals uncomfortable, restless, proving the volume of their gray matter and education by adding a few words based on a reference they’ve heard or read about. In other words, while they may not best me physically, they attempt to do so intellectually which prompts the shaking of a head, a sly laugh but a solemn regret my humanity is not accepted or on certain terms.
How can I, a Black man, change the minds of men who have already prejudged me with their hearts? How can I explain to them despite the images of incarcerated men there are a vast number of us holding degrees, raising families, loving the Lord….how can I even attempt to make them understand that I, an individual, is different than the propaganda in media that I am not the animal society portrays me to be? At the same time once I have met that acceptance, how can I convince these same men and women who do not look like me to understand my point of view of the issues that my race is faced with constantly and even respected? I merely believe the conservative nor the progressive are actually interested in my thoughts, my passions, my needs only when it comes time for a vote favoring their side.
In a short time, there will be a celebration of a dream by a man who risked all to make it a reality. Yet, in our world, his legacy is reduced to just that one speech, that one day in history when the world took a pause and stood still. If only I can convince someone who does not look like I to understand the gift of articulation resides in a great number of us and should we eloquently express our views, we are not imitating a Civil Rights leader, Black nationalist or even the current president of these United States? We are simply being ourselves; composed, expressive, intelligent. I find individuals who do not look like me simply grappling with the last part. They do not understand we also love the written word, engaging in long hours of study and deep reflection. We are not merely the slang talkers, finger snapping, comedy relievers our society has pictured us to be for a generation. This they will never understand, nor choose to. They continue to believe in the fallacy of what my race is, instead of embracing the reality we are so much more than what is shown…or heard.
Living in this proud flesh, this royal pigmentation, this is what I have come to expect from the hearts of men. It’s a tragic shame men like I are forced to accept it.