Listen + Take = Response

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Botham Jean

To every action there is a reaction! Question is — what is the response?

There is a misnomer that a person’s response is only when there is a negative. Many have suffered at the hand of someone else’s act of violence, mistreatment, disrespect, neglect, gifts, compassion, affection, consideration and love. The list is endless. We’ve all suffered some and reacted: positive and negative. Some in response with a thank you or calling the police to report an abuse. The effect left an impression, hence, describes the ‘Like + Take = Response!’

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Like the story of Brandt Jean and Amber Guyger we, too, have forgiven horrifying actions towards us moving forward with our lives. I think people, sometimes, think if you forgave that means forgetting; the unspoken act, no longer, bears any value. But this isn’t true. Clearly Brandt understood something about forgiveness. Why waste years holding a grudge? Either way, forgive or don’t, it wasn’t going to bring his brother Botham back.

This moment captured, still, brings tears to my eyes as this young man of 18 embraces his brother’s killer. But … she’s not a ‘killer’. Her name is Amber! That’s the glory in serving God. He forgives us even though we don’t deserve it and for Brandt to show that forgiveness, kindness and love is absolutely breathtaking!

Two months later here we “all” are! Curious … I wonder how the Jean family and Amber Guyger are doing?!

Since this blog has taken a turn I have something to inquire. How do you respond to those who do things to you?

Here’s a look back on a those who have displayed that astounding response:

Beth Kissileff

Beth Kissileff (pictured), a writer and the wife of a rabbi who survived the shooting rampage that killed eleven worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, has asked the U.S. Department of Justice not to seek the death penalty against the man charged with committing those murders. In an opinion article for the Religion News Service, Kissileff wrote that she and her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of Pittsburgh’s New Light Congregation, engaged federal prosecutors and a social worker who had come to discuss the trial of the white supremacist accused of the act of domestic terrorism in “a discussion of Jewish concepts of justice.” Three members of the New Light Congregation were among those murdered in the synagogue. Rabbi Perlman, Kissileff wrote, told the prosecution team: “Our Bible has many laws about why people should be put to death. … But our sages and rabbis decided that after biblical times these deaths mean death at the hands of heaven, not a human court.” She writes, “if as religious people we believe that life is sacred, how can we be permitted to take a life, even the life of someone who has committed horrible actions?”

Kissileff bases her conclusion that a sentence of life without parole for the synagogue shooting is more appropriate than death both on Jewish teachings against the death penalty and on her hope that the killer might yet change his white supremacist beliefs. She wrote in an article for The Jerusalem Post that “[w]hen Jews are killed just for being Jewish, we commemorate them with the words ‘Hashem yikom damam,’ may God avenge their blood. This formulation absents us from the equation since it expresses that it is God’s responsibility, not ours, to seek ultimate justice. As humans, we are incapable of meting out true justice when a monstrous crime has been committed.” She explains that, although the Torah calls for a death sentence for some crimes, Jewish tradition teaches that death sentences should be very rare, if they are allowed at all. She writes that “a Jewish court is considered bloodthirsty if it allows the death penalty to be carried out [even] once every 70 years.”

Though recognizing that repentance is rare, Kissileff said nonetheless “[t]here is always a chance for redemption. Calling for the death penalty means there is no possibility for the shooter to repent, to change or to improve. I would rather not foreclose that possibility of change, slim as it may be, by putting someone to death.” She recounted the cases of white nationalists Derek Black, who renounced his hatred of Jews after being invited to Shabbat dinners by Jewish students at his college, and Arno Michaelis, a former skinhead leader who later co-authored a book on forgiveness with a man whose father was among the seven congregants murdered in a hate attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Referring to these examples, Kissileff said “[n]either [man] might have been expected to change their beliefs, and yet they have.”

Kissileff’s articles describe the legacy of those who were killed in the Pittsburgh attack and how the shooting has inspired others to become more involved in the synagogue and to learn more about their Jewish faith: “Creating more knowledge of what Judaism and Jewish values are, and encouraging more Jews to commit to them, is the most profound way to avenge their blood.” She writes that, “rather than seeking the shooter’s death,” a better response for Jews would be “strengthening other Jews and Jewish life in Pittsburgh and around the world. Doing so will mean that Jews, not forces of evil, have the ultimate victory.” She concludes: “The most important vengeance for the murder of 11 Jews or 6 million is for the Jewish people to live and the Torah to live, not for their killer to die.”

(Beth Kissileff, WIFE OF PITTSBURGH RABBI: NO DEATH PENALTY FOR ANTISEMITIC SHOOTER, The Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2019; Bob Bauder, Wife of rabbi who survived Tree of Life shooting opposes death penalty, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 20, 2019; Beth Kissileff, The Jewish answer to how to punish the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, Religion News Service, February 27, 2019.) See ReligionVictims, and Federal Death Penalty.

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Decisions! Decisions! Decisions — It’s Worth Repeating

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I’ve addressed this before but I believe it needs another reflection. Can you take away a person’s right to choose? There’s a notion that someone can take away such a thing. If there is a rule it will, somehow, make the decision for us; however, this isn’t entirely true. How can you remove a person’s thought, regardless, of good or bad? You’d have to be God and, last time I checked, neither one of us are! He doesn’t take it away! He gave us this right because He wanted a relationship, but that’s another blog for another time.

While at the gym this morning, I was speaking with my Dad of how most people don’t realize a non-choice is a choice. Case in point to the above, when the judge renders a verdict (or jury) the accused can still decide to accept it or not. Seems rather strange to say considering if the verdict was life in prison, but the truth is the accused could break away from the guard(s), kill him or herself, bust out; just too many to count. They’ve made many movies where a person plotted some type of escape (choice).

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The enlightenment of today’s blog is our choices are the root to everyday! God told me some years back that I made the decision for the life I have. I was stunned! It didn’t dawn on me that I kept choosing the life I’m living. Why? I have no clue. How could I not see that I kept making choices that kept placing me in certain predicaments? LOL. Kinda funny when you think about it. See yourself, you’re making choices that are leading you where you are. Those ups and downs are joined together formulating what our todays and tomorrows will be.

Take courage that no one can ever silence you! But take greater pride to try to better your choices through wisdom principles! — important notation … checking with God will help (smile)!!

Emotional Pain, Addiction: SPEAK!


This epidemic of drug use to cover our pain is astonishing and that’s putting it lightly! Upon Monday’s blog I came across Austin Eubanks speech. He was, too, a victim who survived the shooting at Columbine High School. He said he played dead while lying in a pool of blood that was his and his best friend’s who did not make it.

There are many things that can be discussed about shootings, bullying, etc., yet, I’d like to address that inner pain. The pain that is without sound. It leaves me to wonder … what causes us to stop being audible and turn to, such things as, drugs, sex, violence, suicide, etc.? Why don’t we speak our truth? Do we feel/believe we are unworthy? That the inner pain we’re feeling will just pass on its own with no need of counsel; if we keep silent it will just go away?

Do we become naive to it? What in the world is going on that we take away our own voice?

Have you ever dealt with that person who bleeds …. constantly?! I’ve talked about this before. This person’s bleed is that of constant bringing up the pain but with no willingness to be healed from it. Everyone has a right to voice their pain! EVERYONE! If someone tried to shut you up … SHUT THEM UP!!! It is just advised to not bleed on people. Don’t make your pain your being, your importance … your life!

This voice in the pit of your very soul is screaming to be heard. It can’t take anymore. I would be honored to be your eyes and/or! Yes, you’re eyes and/or ear! It’s what you need! It’s not about judgment. It’s about someone taking the time to be able to talk! Speak! Heal from what has been hurting for, God knows, how long!

There’s a show called Iyanla: Fix My Life. She’s a life coach who guide people through their pain. She recently showed an episode where 5 children were abused emotionally and physically. 4 out of the 5 were put in foster care while one lived with the grandmother. The 4 suffered having to render sex on each other just to eat! They were beaten with pots, pans. One used to get hit with a crock pot; he now suffers epileptic seizures. The eldest son used to be taken into the basement, beaten until he agreed to do oral sex on his siblings … all just to have a decent meal! Wow!!!!!

The 4 were jealous of the one who got the chance to live with the grandmother; they felt she got the chance to escape the ineffable. Unfortunately, the story came out that she, too was sexually abused! This family is that of 3 boys and 2 girls. Their Mother was a crack addict. She, later, wanted to go before Iyanla so that she could build a relationship with her children. Her story wound up being similar to her children’s. What a tragic story!

So, here we are again! In dire need of a voice!

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As I searched for depictions Mr. Trump (yes, respectfully Mr.) popped up. Why was I shocked? I guess, in a way, he is trying to take away people’s voice. Is taking away a person’s choice the same? Sorry, I’m not trying to be funny or play as though I’m naive. It’s truly a question. Hmmm, I guess taking away a person’s right to choose is taking away their voice. My Mom was talking about him a couple of days ago. She was upset because gas prices have skyrocketed. It was nice to see the prices go down. Like a “Whew” moment (lol), but here we are again — paying $85 a gallon (LMBO). I know it’s exaggerated, yet you all know me when it comes to certain topics. Exaggeration and Mr. Trump go hand and hand like an animal to its dung.

I hope to be an encouragement to you, again, reflecting a light of God, perspective and hope! This, hopefully, encourages you to speak your pain ….

KATch-UP Mondays: Smoking vs Car Accident

What are the chances of finding this combination?

LOL! What in Banana’s name am I talking about? The two have no correlation to my knowledge. But if it does, please, someone send me the memo. That kind of information is important! I’m not doing the research, myself, because this is more about which one would I choose. My family and I went out of town to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. It was really breezy and cold in the area, but where we live … it’s like an oven. The air quality, from the warmth, made me winded. I could barely catch my breath because the air was so thin. I made sure I did my inhaler before we left. Once we arrived to our destination I still had to catch my breath since the air was cold but, like at home, I was able to manage. After being there for well over two hours my brother points out that we had not run into cigarette smoke. I gave glory to God for the “good” air quality that filled my lungs (lol). Not long after we ran into a man smoking. I felt like “daggone it.” After that, it seemed like every time I turned around someone was smoking.

I’m a work in progress! I say this because I have this thing of talking about the smoke out loud, and how secondhand smoke is really bad for people especially me since I have asthma, and I’m just a person trying to breathe. LOL. Yeah, I have a habit of letting it be known. They have a right to smoke, yet, I, ALSO, have the right to breathe without somebody causing my inhalation to be worse! While crossing the street I started this usual “rhetoric” out loud and my niece said, “Auntie Kat?!” LMBO! ………. I said I’m a work in progress. LOL

The theme. It is the result to a thought I had while crossing the street. I said to the fam, “I wonder if getting hit by a car (one was passing us by) is safer than breathing toxic cigarette smoke.” Then said, “I choose getting hit by a car ’cause, at least, it will put me out of my misery faster instead of being killed slowly by people whose leisure will kill me.” LOL! That is funny right there. Not sure you understand, but that’s how bad it truly is. As stated, they have the right to smoke. There is no law {save the measure of feet a smoker must have away from an entrance/exit} that they can’t smoke, however, I wish there was a law that could help the secondhand folk. I have often wondered about children whose parent’s smoke. They are forced, before adulthood, to endure. Their choice is taken from them. Why, then, do some parents/guardians get upset if they found out their child(ren) are smoking? We are their teachers. Do we have the right to feel this way?

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Your choice is OUR choice

Smokers and nonsmokers … is it fair? Is there a way to give on both ends? The only ones losing are the nonsmokers. Without biased, I believe this because smokers don’t realize the harm they TRULY cause! Even if you smoked away from us, you are our loved ones. Though cancer has many factors. It would suck to lose you because we all know smoke is a direct link. Tell me … is it worth it?

Blog Fridays: An Environment Teacher’s Testimony

A Mirror Reflects

I take great pride in talking about my family. The interesting notation, however, is they’re not normal (lol). Former President Obama and other intelligent black families are considered rare. Realization of a person’s surrounding is vital when considering any informative circumstances. Please, don’t be confused by this statement. It simply means we each live in an environment made up of an upbringing carried throughout generations full of ideas and their responses. Now, in my head, it makes perfect sense, but I also read where Cristian (a go to informative blogger) speaks of the meh approach we experience when writing. The part when we get lost in the trail of thought because the concept isn’t fully thought out. In my head the concept is quite clear. “We live in environments where our ancestors’ influence still effects us today.”

My Dad is fairly astute and a well rounded dude. He’s a pastor. He has other titles but the one that is most prevalent for me is Dad! Some may think, “Duh,” but because he has such titles as pastor it creates a stigma for my brothers and me; I’d gather even for my Mom. There is a certain perception when a person carries a title. When you think judge you, automatically, think smart. This person has taken out much time in legislative study — abreast to history and political science, etc. I’m unsure if any are willing to say their parents are not intelligent (I don’t want to sugarcoat; takes too long – lol). My Dad’s father only went to the 3rd grade. His father, well, I don’t think he got any further than that. My uncle (Dad’s brother) graduated with a G.E.D., however, his comprehension level was mediocre. Dad surrounded himself with gifted (innate abilities like prophets) intellectuals. He has a sense of balance though he has titles within the church.

So, what is the primary point? He (Dad) shared with me a few days ago that his grandfather on his mother’s side was, also, a great preacher. He knew how to expound on the scriptures, yet, he did not have a well balanced life in general. Wisdom wasn’t a principle thing. My uncle, R.I.P., was a fighter. He was always trying to fight someone or pulling out the “because I’m black” card; a passive aggressive kinda guy. Me, on the other hand, I graduated out of high school. I had no choice my parents didn’t play that lol. I was a B to A average student. I remember in 6th grade when, at a parent/teacher conference, my teacher told my Mom I will need to take comprehension classes. She didn’t know I heard her, but it stayed with me. I remember as a little girl asking my Dad “how did they talk like that.” They seemed so intelligent and I felt lost. I wanted to participate but couldn’t because I could not comprehend. He told me to listen! As I pay attention I will learn how to understand. Wow! Thanks Dad!

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There’s Only One Life

Taking those comprehension classes in college, at first, felt humiliating. I’m in college. What in Nissan’s (funny huh?) name am I doing having to take such classes? Looking back, it is the same as my Dad telling me to listen so that I can learn how to understand. Though my background includes those who didn’t finish school and some completing a lower level of education, drunks and drug addicts, mental disease, etc., I’m fortunate to say my environment’s teaching through my Dad’s choices has brought me here! A college graduate. A book writer. A business woman. An advocate for justice. A Christian who strives, daily, to be well rounded.