Loss of human life is always tragic. It is more tragic when that loss is caused by a violent act whether justified or criminal. Such is the case in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August at the hands of Police Officer Darren Wilson.
For months we have heard protestors cry out for justice in this case. Yet when our justice system ran its course, there was not only disbelief and feelings of justice being denied, there were some who went on a rampage of criminal acts.
A grand jury found there was not sufficient probable cause that Wilson committed a crime when he shot and killed Brown. The grand jury returned a verdict that no indictment nor trial would be forthcoming.
Outrage continues at the loss of an unarmed, black teenager. The outrage is understandable. At the same time, justice prevailed according to the grand jury and our system of law.
Justice sometimes results in a trial, which many called for in this case. At other times, justice does not live up to our demands and results in no indictment. But justice was done.
Listening to some of the protestors as well as some commentators called on by the media, the death of Brown seemed to have been swept away and replaced by a need to redress the wrongs and hurts of 200 years. Instead of focusing on this tragedy, some found this the perfect reason to rampage, go on a crime spree or spit out anger over events and harms committed long in the past and before most were even born.
For many of those burning Ferguson I question seeking justice. Instead the grand jury verdict and the death of Brown was a sideshow pushed aside to justify looting, burning and other criminal activity. All this under the guise of trying to get justice.
Yes, the nation does need to have a conversation and sit down between those of African descent and those of European descent. Yes, for far too many, white or black, instead of allowing the country to become the fabled melting pot, they would rather keep picking at the scab until blood is running again.
There are some attempting to bind the wounds. There are some attempting to repair the breaches in the wall.
There are also those - some even famous or with large followings - who have an agenda and need to keep the nation torn and divided. Some these have corrupted the American dream by seeing racial divides as a means to pad the coffers, to keep the money flowing.
This ought not to be.
Saint or sinner, the death of Michael Brown was and is a tragedy.
Saint or sinner, Officer Darren Wilson must live the rest of his life with the knowledge he took the life of another human being - justified though the Grand Jury may have deemed it to be.
Time to let old wounds mend.
Time to build a bright future together.
Time to be Americans - not African Americans or Asian Americans or Hispanic Americans - but just Americans.
Have there been crimes committed by even those in authority in the past?
Are we forever going to let the sins of the fathers and mothers from centuries ago extract punishment on the sons and daughters now and into the future?
There are far too many in both the white and the black communities who allow animus to fester and be passed on from generation to generation.
Last night in Ferguson and in communities across the nation, it seems the writer of Hebrews got it right:
"Lest any root of bitterness springs up within you and defiles many."
Time to cut out this cancer and live in true freedom.
From the Cornfield, I am not sure how I would feel if either of my sons was shot and killed by a police officer or anyone for that matter. What I do know is that lashing out in hatred would not honor either of my sons' memory.
As the prophet once said, "Unless the Lord build the house (city, nation), the workman works in vain."
Life - filled with its ups and downs, the level plains which lie between;
The rain without which there would be no flowers;
The valleys where strength and supplies are found to climb to the mountain tops;
Health - though fraught with issues and concerns with which I must daily battle;
Healthcare - which has resulted in finding the root cause of many of my more serious physical ailments along with a cure for the fatal infection that threatens to kill me;
Eyecare - which provides the expertise to restore my vision rather than allowing me to go blind;
Family - who bring joys and tears, but with whom I could not live without;
Sons - those offspring who carry on and outshine the man who was their sire;
Granddaugters - who are beautiful, bubbly, putting a smile on my face even in the darkest moments with a look;
Daughters-in-Law - who put up with the "Old Man" and don't fuss too much when their husbands stay in touch;
Mom - who may not always agree with the choices, decisions I make, but is always there to support me as her son;
Dad - who often is on opposite sides from where I stand;
Siblings - who bring the tussle and tumble at times and the closeness and connectivity that none else can know;
Ex-Wives - without whom I would never have known the joy and love of my two sons;
Frankie and Gizmo, the "boys" - who provide companionship and protect "Daddy" when Iohn is at work;
My Partner Iohn - who has put up with me through good, bad, sickness and health for nearly a decade now;
Real Life Acquaintenances - who have shown up at my door when unexpected, but at the right moment;
Online Friends - some who have been angels in some of my direst moments over the past few years when I felt I could not carry on;
The Community of Farmersburg - which has taken in "strangers" and accepted us as their own in spite of our differences;
Our Nation - though battered and torn at times, though emeshed in family feuds at times, yet still the most free and greatest light of liberty in the world today;
God - for sustaining me thus far and deciding it was not time for me to cross the divide and go home a few months ago.
From the Cornfield, I send out my wish to one and all for a day of reflection, a time with family and friends, a day of peace, love and joy this Thanksgiving Day before the madness of shopping fever takes over, forgetting the reason for the season.
May you find no matter your situation, station in life, health or wealth, there is always something for which to be grateful.
This week President Barack Obama took unilateral action to provide delays in immigration proceedings which could result in deportation of up to five million immigrants who are in our nation illegally.
Republicans are up in arms. Some conservatives are calling for impeachment of the President. Some liberals are complaining the President did not go far enough.
The stage has been set for a very rocky and tumultuous final two years of the President's Administration.
Legal immigration is of no issue - except:
Legal immigration is too costly and should be revamped.
Legal immigration wait times are beyond the pale to obtain legal residence/citizenship and need to be revamped.
Except for legitimate political refugees, we must find a way to both keep our borders open and secure the borders from those who refuse to play by the rules.
Xenophobia is a sickness - not an acceptable way of life. We must find the middle ground between being proud Americans and accepting neighbors.
When many people's great-grandparents, grandparents and millions of others crossed both ponds, one of the primary goals was making sure the children (if not themselves) learned English as quickly as possible.
There was an intense desire to renounce allegiance to the Old Country and pledge firm solidarity with the Land of Promise.
Those days are gone.
In some areas raising and flying the flag of the former country takes prominence over that of the American flag. This use not to be.
In some areas parents refuse to allow their children to learn English and insist on education in the home country language rather than the predominant language of their new homeland.
This all adds to the issue and problem especially in the border states and with many rural Americans unexposed unlike their urban neighbors to immigrants - legal and illegal.
Then there is the issue of how to secure our borders and keep our borders open. We have long prided ourselves on not having troops amassed along either our border with Mexico or with that with Canada.
Immigration is an interesting subject matter with no one-size-fits-all or easy fix.
I don't have the answers which will provide the cure for a broken immigration system. I do know to do nothing is the wrong move.
From my studying and research, the President skirted along the edge of the law without crossing over into impeachable territory. However, the President has made working with Congress between now and 2016 almost impossible.
In his speech and subsequent order, the President was very careful in choosing his words. He walked right up to the edge, but did not move into territory outside his domain. Claiming a national security issue, the President kept his action within his wheelhouse - barely.
The President, from where I sit in the Cornfield, may have acted within the scope of his authority. But - the President acted foolishly and irresponsibly.
Per the Constitution, immigration falls under the direct authority of the Congress - NOT the Executive Branch.
Yes, the Executive Branch administers the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. However, it is Congress that determines the laws and requires the Executive Branch to fully enforce the will of Congress.
With all the criticism of the mainstream media, it should be noted that none of the four major networks aired the President's speech on immigration. All four (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) refused to preempt regular programming and give the President a stage from which to perform.
From the Cornfield, while immigration reform is sorely needed, it is not up to the President to take unilateral action on the issue.
Congress - Republican lawmakers - must stop its dawdling and stonewalling on immigration. The next Congress MUST fix what is broken.
The message from voters during the last election: Find some way to work together, Mr. President and members of Congress.
You may have heard both those voting and those not voting, but are any of you listening?
Tomorrow, November 11, we stop and give thanks for all those who have served the nation in uniform, protecting the freedoms we hold so dear. Some gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in order to ensure that we have the life we so proudly proclaim.
Their sacrifice is honored with each election where not by coup, but by ordinary Americans casting a ballot and choosing those who will lead and represent them. The power and authority of those officials are transferred from one elected official to the next, from the precinct level to the highest office in the land, the Presidency, without the need for troops in the streets because of those who answered the call to duty, honor and service.
The ability to vote, the ability to choose, the ability to speak our minds, the ability to worship or not worship, the ability to write these words without fear, the ability to work, to succeed, to fail, to rise above our circumstances, all of this we owe to those men and women who fought for peace, justice and freedom.
None of our liberties came without cost and thus we owe a debt to each of our veterans and to those who still serve.
On a more personal note:
In those dark days following the sneak attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, four brothers from Nashville, Brown County, Indiana lined up at the recruiting office and joined the US Navy. These four brothers went off to save the world for democracy both in the European Theater and in the Pacific.
Three made it back home at the close of World War II. The one who didn't return was my Uncle Hobert. My grandfather and his other two brothers, Herman and Wesley, came home, but changed, never to be the same.
My step-father, a fresh-faced kid from Sullivan County, Indiana didn't wait to be drafted. He went to the recruiting office and signed up to be a soldier for Uncle Sam. He survived, though wounded once, three tours in Viet Nam. He remained in the US Army to retire after 20 years as an E-8 First Sergeant.
My grandfather's only son, my uncle, later followed in his father's footsteps and sailed off on the ocean blue with the Navy. He served around the world, then came home.
All of these veterans within my own family are now gone, but not forgotten.
Their service made it possible for me to join the US Air Force in 1976. My time was spent at Grissom AFB, right here in the Cornfield.
It also allowed my step-brother a few years later to join the US Army. Unfortunately, we lost him in a drunk driving incident after he did his duty and was home.
The sacrifice of my grandfather, great-uncles and step-father also allowed all of us to still be living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
This is why I am always appreciative of those who choose to serve in our military. This is why I always have an empathy and a connection to the families left behind to keep the home fires burning to shine the light to lead our service members home.
Each November 11th, we celebrate, not just the veterans of that long ago war that was to be the war to end all wars, but the holiday has evolved to celebrate and to show appreciation for all who have served our great nation and those who continue to serve.
From the Cornfield, veterans, I salute you and thank you!
Fog layered the Cornfield as I sat on the porch of Mark's Den drinking my coffee. Visibility was at a minimum.
Was this indicative of the political climate in Washington today?
Republicans added governors' mansions, took control of the US Senate and picked up at least a dozen seats in the House of Representatives in yesterday's Midterm Elections.
There was a tidal wave of red that swept the nation.
As President Barack Obama recently stated, he was not on the ballot, but his policies were. Those policies were soundly repudiated by voters.
Will the President be able to cut through the fog today to see a way to govern in the last two years of his Administration without a Democratic Senate to play defense?
Will Republican lawmakers in Congress understand that the electorate was also telling them it was tired of obstruction and an aura of "do nothing"?
In the Republican primary elections, voters clearly rejected the more stubborn candidates offered by the Tea Party for the more moderate, establishment-appoved candidates to face statewide balloting. This was a clear signal that Americans wanted senators and representatives to find working solutions to the issues and concerns which faced the country.
Now comes the hard part.
The President must learn to communicate and work with a Legislative Branch controlled by the opposition.
The GOP-held Congress must find a way to come to a meeting of minds with the President for the good of the people.
Time for grandstanding to cease.
Time to govern.
If Republicans do not govern and govern wisely, the Grand Old Party will find itself back in the wilderness come the 2016 presidential election.
If the President does not find a way to compromise with the Republican Congress, his legacy will be reduced to being "the Warring President".
From the Cornfield, will voters once more be disappointed?
Will the President and the Congress correctly read the message from voters?
No sunshine across the Cornfield today as voters head to the polls. Rain will dominate along with dark, gray clouds dot the sky.
Before he goes to work, Iohn and I will go three blocks to the community building to cast our votes. Though there is no outstanding issues or noteworthy races in the Hoosier State, we will take advantage of our right to make our voices heard. In so doing, we retain the right to both criticize and boast over the next two years.
With today's Midterm Elections across the nation, it signals the start of the 2016 presidential race. Expect to hear in the next month or two, if not sooner, from would-be-presidents declaring their candidacies. Probably the first to announce will be the junior Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul.
As usual the squeakiest wheels are from both the far left and the far right. Will extreme liberals and ultra conservatives determine the outcome or will those more toward the center be the deciding voters?
There is nothing wrong with being a liberal if you apply common sense. There is nothing wrong with being a conservative as long as you utilize common sense. The same goes for moderates.
There are examples of the detriment of both fringes. Kansas shows the devastation on the people of ultra conservatism. Detroit is a study in how extreme liberalism can lead to demise and destruction.
The most skillful governors, legislators, mayors, council members and commissioners understand that to govern effectively, you must govern from the center, not too far right nor too far left.
This is why every vote counts.
Get out and vote today.
From the Cornfield, are you listening 2016 presidential hopefuls?
As I have watched, listened, read and researched while the Ebola virus has claimed victim after victim, primarily in West Aftica, I have become increasingly concerned over the grave risk healthcare workers face in treating those infected with the fatal disease.
With the second nurse in the US of A this week infected with the Ebola virus after treating Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week in Dallas, the concern is hitting much closer to home.
How many more nurses and staff or even non-medical personnel in Dallas will become infected?
While healthare workers daily face risk with a myriad of illnesses and diseases - the confusion, the uncertainty, the untried protocols in dealing with Ebola virus - seem to be upping that risk by a wide margin. In most cases of infectious dieseases, there is a defined treatment or even a vaccine.
With Ebola virus, though the disease was discovered over 40 years ago, we are still in the dark.
I am not the only noticing the unprecedented exposure and infection to those Bartons and Nightingales treating Ebola patients. The World Health Organization (WHO) noted:
"The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa is unprecedented in many ways, including the high proportion of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have been infected.
To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and more than 120 have died."
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has become the focal point of the disarray in which our medical authorities appear to be. At times it is like watching an old film reel of the "Keystone Cops".
We seem to know so little.
Several nurses' associations are blaming the lack of training and equipment. Nurses are saying they aren't being told proper ways to cover up and prevent infection. Nurses are complaining that hospitals do not yet have protocols in place in the majority of the nation to treat Ebola patients.
Yet, I wonder.
How much would it really help?
Look at the number of healthcare workers in West Africa who are being infected and dying from Ebola.
Three healthcare providers from the US came back from Liberia infected with Ebola. Thankfully, all three have recovered and survived.
These American aid workers would have been better equiped than their African counterparts. Yet, still, these three American medical professionals were infected with Ebola.
What is the answer?
I do not claim to have a solution. But I do know there are those brilliant souls in medicine or other sciences who can develop the proper protocol or design the life-saving uniform.
From the Cornfield, how can average people feel safe, secure and trusting the doctors telling us there is little risk and chance of an outbreak in the US of A, when healthcare workers can't be better protected from infection?