Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Will you believe me or your lying eyes?


by Reggie Smith

"'Cause what I wanna do and what I'd like to tell you;  May not be as you see.   As you live today, what I wanna say-  Be ever wonderful in your own sweet way."   

Earth, Wind & Fire


Muhammad Ali would say, "Float like a butterfly sting like a bee; you can't hit what you can’t see."   I have always been inspired by his ability to stand up for what he believes in, and his ability to create his own reality. His stance against the Viet Nam war flew in the face of social acceptability, but proved to be prophetic, in my humble opinion.  I always admired how Muhammad Ali stayed true to his destiny, no matter what.  Muhammad Ali put his faith and principles ahead of his own safety and security.  Similarly, like with many other struggles for social change, the gay community also had to take a stance and fight for the lives of everyone diagnosed with HIV so that the ruling class were not easily able to dismiss those (of us) who were afflicted with the disease.  It’s too bad that we are quietly losing much of what was paid for with the lives of many, because "priorities", and supposedly finite resources have fueled fear and greed have flourished once again. 

When all is said and done, the American medical system is set up for profit, not for wellness.  This is the reason many people living with chronic illnesses suffer and/or die in America.   After living with HIV for over 25 years, it's infuriating to see how access to services have deteriorated for people accessing public health.  When HIV was perceived as a “gay disease”, money was being fought for and put into services that are no longer available for the poor. Now, the majority of people with HIV are people of color, and not necessarily gay.  I hope that those who helped win the battle have not become the greedy and fearful.

There is still a great deal of trauma and stigma, hurt, fear and ignorance surrounding HIV, but the money to treat chronic disease is moving to a larger market of hepatitis C.  The Hep C virus is covertly having a devastating effect on the world community, and it’s estimated that over 3.5 million Americans have been exposed.  So, if we do not learn from our experiences with HIV, and take care of the people who are diagnosed and affected, we are doomed to repeat many of the same mistakes.  There is too much at stake for all affected communities to be divided by greed.

Maybe “Obamacarewill help the poor and middle income afford treatment.  At present, there is a hole that those who cannot afford the deductible are falling into that is about five feet deep.  It’s not deep enough to die in, but one can hardly breathe or see your way out of the financial grave the costs dig for us.  As a person living with medical coverage, there are things I’m not exposed to and do not generally see unless someone shares it.  It seems evil that some legislators and others would work so hard to deny human rights and dignity from people seeking it.  Most media does not work hard enough to expose that evil because it, too, is a corporation looking to grow profits.   Corporations are not really people, but they pay people to create laws that cause pain.  Real people are suffering so that corporations and stockholders can profit.  Instead of Black and gay people fighting each other for crumbs, we should change the game of capitalism so that it serves the unmet needs of the people.

At the core of the effort to oppress and deny human rights to Americans is an organization we never see called The American Legislative Exchange Council.  ALEC is an organization that is spending a great deal of money to make sure that corporate interest trump the interest of regular people like us.  Wikipedia say “ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line.  ALEC legislation affecting healthcare for Americans includes proposals to weaken the regulation of medicine by the Food and Drug Administration, privatize Medicare and Medicaid, repeal important laws that expand public access to health care, and bar the families of Americans injured or killed by drugs that are recalled from holding drug companies accountable for the loss of beloved parents, partners, or children.  If we really take a good look at things we will see, we’ve got little choice but to work together for change.

Friday, August 23, 2013

You can pick your friends; not your race.

by Reggie Smith

"We demand a chance to do things for ourselves; we're tired of beating our heads against a wall, and working for someone else"

"We're people, we like the birds and the bees; we'd rather die on our feet, than be living on our knees."  Say it loud...

           James Brown

My friend, Dr. Harold Barnes, said something very interesting recently. He said (and I paraphrase) that in some instances we might suffer from "place-ism" (and classism) as well as racism. That is not to say that racism does not exist, only that the circumstances into which you are born may play an even more important role in your ability to succeed in America.  For instance, being born and raised black anywhere in America, especially in the southeastern part of the United States statistically puts one at a distinct disadvantage from one's peers of other races.  People who find themselves in privileged and more favorable circumstances often justify and take pride in something they had no earthly input – their racial identity.  We have nothing to do with picking the race we are born into, so it seems very egotistical that we would behave like one race is better than any other, right?  In many cases, though, we either seek to maintain or escape our economic reality by using race or class to get where we want to be. 


As we say around the way, " it ain't where you're from, it's where you're at".  Conversely, no matter where we are born or live, we have the ability to rise above the battlefields of life.  It's amazing how connected we would be if alien life showed up on earth. Certain adversities, usually grave ones, cause nationalities, races, or religions to bond, in spite of prejudices, in order to survive.  Being human is what we all have in common, but the uniqueness of our cultures, religions and races often cause us to be divided.  The color of one’s skin is the most obvious way to prejudge or “profile” people based on our differences.  There is a world caste system based on race that supports greed in order to maintain the status quo.  Many injustices are born from this effort, but there is one connection that is eternally available.  That is our connection to a “higher power” within.  There has, and always will be, conflict in the world.  I truly believe that prayer and meditation can help raise our individual vibration, and together we can raise the planetary frequency and shift the paradigm towards healing.


Many systems (political, judicial, religion, health care, etc.) have been co-opted in order to support and maintain control of the masses.  Divide and conquer is a strategy that has been used since the beginning of time.  It is inherent in the fact that we live on a physical plane based on duality.  Energetically, all things are made of positive and negative energy.  We should not expect that the world would change, until we do.

There is much that we do to create an atmosphere that is more conducive to enlightenment, but sometimes, paradoxically, the pursuit of peace becomes too consuming.  I don't mean to sound trite. I only want to suggest that everything that happens on this physical plane begins in the spiritual realm.


I say "don't hate the players; change the game".  On a material level, we can boycott businesses, political systems, and oppression successfully to change our circumstances.  By focusing on principles, not personalities, we might be able to balance the value that ego and wealth play in our lives.   On a spiritual level, prayer and meditation is more powerful than fear.  Our approach to many things including healing from disease, and fighting obvious injustice, has been to come up with a physical solution. Meditation and prayer, along with works, has proved to be miraculous in my life. The difference between complaining and sharing is whether or not you are living in the solution.  Having said all of that, I am very glad to be a Black man.  No matter what, if I had a choice of colors, I'd still choose the one I have.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When our ship comes in, we will be on it.


                                           by Reggie Smith

"People get ready for the train to Jordan

It's picking up passengers from coast to coast

Faith is the key, open the doors and board 'em

There's hope for all among those loved the most."

"There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner

Who would hurt all mankind just to save his own

Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner

For there's no hiding place against the Kingdom's throne."

                               Curtis Mayfield

I recently bought a new road bicycle with the intention of paying a lot more attention to getting in shape. I had been envisioning taking my first long ride to the barbershop, which is about 5 miles away from my home. Once I finally got out on the road, there were some very steep downhill roads involved on the way to the barbershop. When I got to the top of the largest hill where it was the point of no return, I started to think about what it was going to take for me to get home. I wasn't sure that I had what it took to make it back up the hill, but I decided that if I had no guts, I would get no glory.  My mind was generating fear and self-doubt, but my spirit encouraged me to have faith.  I did not want to have a “should have; would have” story, so I listened to my spirit and went for it.

As it turned out, I found another way home that was much better then coming back up the hills. Accepting the personal challenge was a very satisfying accomplishment, and I'm glad I did not punk out.  I enjoy watching the adventure of life unfold.  So often I am amazed at what happens when I listen to, and act on my spirit and intuition.  My mind will filter my feelings with fear and judgment in order to color my thoughts and actions.  I've come to know that I'm responsible for putting energy into life, but the outcome is never guaranteed.  I have learned to accept that everything happens for a reason, and it is up to me to make the best out of everything that I manifest each moment.

For instance, I went to see the movie "Fruitvale Station" recently and was touched by the movie on many levels.  I saw myself, and then more profoundly, I saw my son in the life of Oscar Grant.  He is the young man that was shot to death by an Oakland police officer at the aforementioned Fruitvale train station.  Seeing the re-enactment of how that happened was painful enough, but the confluence of events that led up to his shooting was so easily identifiable that I felt like I had lost my own child when it was said and done.  I am emotionally affected even now as I write.  As parents, my wife and I were devastated by the reality that Oscar’s mother, in a well intentioned, fact based attempt to save her son from hurt, harm or danger, suggested that he and his friends take the train instead of drive on New Years eve.  In trying to evade a predictable, potentially negative outcome, Oscar ended up irrationally losing his life.

I’m sure Trayvon Martin’s parents, and the parents of so many of our youth who have been tragically harmed or killed in spite of our attempts as parents to protect them, constantly question what thing they could have said or done to create a reality different from the one the are living.  My wife and I immediately thought about how we are constantly trying to protect our kids and grandkids.  We are responsible for that effort, but as a father who has lost a child at birth, and a father to murder, I know that when the ship comes in, we will be on it.  Our task in life is to work towards the kind of emotional maturity that will allow us to have faith in the still small voice within, and acceptance of the infallibility of the law of karma, in spite of what we may think.  Apprehension based on facts is wise.  Fear is the source of much that ails us.  Love and faith can heal all.  We are all stars in the movie that is our lives.  Let’s play our roles as best we can, just for today.

The Law of Karma 


Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind . . . what we sow is what we reap. And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.

I will put the Law of Karma into effect by making a commitment to take the following steps:

1. Today I will witness the choices I make in each moment. And in the mere witnessing of these choices, I will bring them to my conscious awareness. I will know that the best way to prepare for any moment in the future is to be fully conscious in the present.

2. Whenever I make a choice, I will ask myself two questions: “What are the consequences of this choice that I’m making?” and “Will this choice bring fulfillment and happiness to me and also to those who are affected by this choice?”

3. I will then ask my heart for guidance and be guided by its message of comfort or discomfort. If the choice feels comfortable, I will plunge ahead with abandon. If the choice feels uncomfortable, I will pause and see the consequences of my action with my inner vision. This guidance will enable me to make spontaneously correct choices for myself and for all those around me.

For more; visit the Chopra Center.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I want to be loved; is that so wrong?

I  want to be loved; is that so wrong?


"I'm so glad I got my own, so glad that I can see; my life's a natural high, the man can't put no thing on me."

               Curtis Mayfield


Movies are made to help us identify with situations and feelings we experience in our own lives.   So how do I explain the  way I felt while watching a sappy 'Lifetime like' flick about parenting, step-parenting, dealing with cancer, and navigating the feelings of love?  The lives of the people in the movie "Stepmom" could not have been more different from mine, but the feelings I share with the movies characters are universal.  Life is temporary, but  we all want to be loved and to give love while we are here, right?   In fact, nothing feels better than being part of a circle of love.  The power of love is amazing and miraculous.


I have been blessed to have more than one life in this lifetime, and everytime I have been challenged by life, and seemingly down for the count, the love of  friends and family has healed me.   I believe we attract the friends to our life that help us to achieve our cosmic purpose. Family helps us to learn life lessons too!  All are vessels for God (Good Orderly Direction) if we are open minded enough to be conscious of the messages they bring.  I am so grateful to be a part of my soul group.


I am extremely impressed with the quality of my friends.  Our bonds are strong, often by virtue of the things we have in common.  Many times, though, conflict or strife has been the road to enlightenment.  For instance, people like me who have had the experience of overcoming addictions "one day at a time" speak a language that communicates on different levels of spirit, and no matter where in the world I may be, I'm sure to never be alone. I wish everyone could enjoy the sense of security that the members of the "no matter what" club possess.  The kind of love we share surpasses the desire for drugs and alcohol, just for today.  The price we have paid to be in the club has been high (no pun intended).



I enjoy watching the adventure of life unfold.  I know I'm responsible for the effort I put into my life, but there is a certain amount of destiny incorporated in what the outcome is to be. Until we develop our psychic ability, we are dealing with what is right in front of us, and building on our past.  Life takes strength, and we build our bank of strength by giving and receiving love.  If your friends and family had to give a one word description of you what would it be?  If your friends had to lie under oath to help keep you out of jail because of a serious mistake you made, would they? Would you do that for them?  We never know until it happens. I'm grateful that I have had enough love in the bank, and I'm spiritually connected to friends and family so as to be able to deal with whatever life has to offer so far.  I know that  if our friendships say something about who we are, mine are making me look really good.  I will continue to give unconditional love to my friends and family, because the return on that investment has made me a wealthy man.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Enlightened Sex

Time is relative; Grace is divine.


By Reggie Smith

"Where have all the flowers gone; long time passing...long ago.  Where have all the flowers gone; the graveyards?

                    Earth, Wind & Fire

I recently saw a story about a grandson who has publicly forgiven a woman who is on death row for brutally murdering his grandmother almost 30 years ago.  It caught my attention because my father was murdered 35 years ago, and I often wish that he were here to share the last 28 years that I have lived without drugs and alcohol.  Dad was a problem drinker, like me, so it would have been interesting to see if he would have been blessed to experience this way of life without alcohol.  Dad was a policeman, so you would have thought his killer would be severely punished, but his sentence was 3-5 years. My father was 47 at the time of his death.  I'd say he was gone too soon, but when your time comes, you go.  No one is gonna get out of here alive. 

Many of us, though, have lived through experiences that others have not survived.  In my family alone we have me, a long term survivor of HIV, my 80 something year old mother is a cancer survivor, my sister is a recipient of a double lung transplant, my daughter has boy/girl twins, my 33 year old son was born prematurely at 2 pounds, and my godmother has a heart so filled with love, she has gone through two heart pacemakers.  I said years ago that if you could survive until now, we would have replacement body parts to keep us alive for a long time.  That time has come, but only God's grace can determine who gets to stay alive, and who gets to go to the other side.   With the advance of stem cell science, we are able to grow our own body parts, if you can afford to.  Of course, money won't save our lives, but lack of money certainly could be the death of us.  Thank God for the miracles of medicine, but we have to live long enough to be eligible to take advantage of them, right?  I hope to live to see the day we truly have free or affordable healthcare for all. 

Part of participating in our own survival means complimenting our medical care with the effort it takes to be well.  Medical science and pharmaceutical pills seem like the easy way to go, but even taking them takes discipline.  Three things that help me to be more disciplined and compliment the medical treatment I am getting are drinking plenty of water, remembering to breathe deeply, and regularly take time to do some kind of meditative practice.  The meditation can be yoga, walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, or simply sitting still for a period of time.  Whatever I can do to quiet my mind and focus on the darkness at the third eye within (until it turns into light) helps to raise my vibration.  When we are operating at those higher frequencies, we are able to create with less effort.  For me, it is at those frequencies that time seems to collapse and I attract what I am focused on in less time than it would take with much more physical effort.  That is where my synchronicities seem to live.

Grace is the only explanation for why some of us still alive and others have gone on.  I'm grateful for everyday that I can be of service to humanity. I pray to be an instrument of God's will, and a vessel of His/Her word. The body and mind are our temples, and the vehicle with which our spirits operate on this plane. When forgetting is not an option or the thing to do, forgiveness may prove more difficult, but resentments destroy our spirits and cause stress and disease. We are more than capable of seeking and giving forgiveness.  To err is human, but to forgive is divine.  Today I pray for forgiveness, and extend the same to all; including the man who murdered my father.


The act of forgiveness is the act of returning to present time.

And that's why when one has become a forgiving person,

and has managed to let go of the past, what they've really done is they've shifted their relationship with time.

~ Caroline Myss ~