Texas death row inmate Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death on March 19 for his participation in the 1998 robbery and murder of recording studio owner David Alejandro. He was a teenager at the time of the crime. In an open letter to Hamilton Nolan at Gawker.com, Ray Jasper shares what he says “could be my last statement on earth.”
Jasper was first invited to communicate with Nolan as part of program “Letters from Death Row,” where all U.S. inmates with execution dates in the upcoming year were sent letters in an effort to give a voice to people who are sitting on death row, human beings who are not often heard and not often understood, to which Jasper responded. His first letter can be read here: First Letter from Ray Jasper.
Hamilton Nolan, Gawker.com, wrote back to Mr. Jasper, inviting him to correspond once again and to share his thoughts and feelings. Jasper replied with a second letter (see below). At the conclusion of his letter, Ray Jasper asks for forgiveness for being “longwinded,” as if we could ever place boundaries or limitations around this man’s gift to us all, as if his thoughts and perspectives could be contained in some abbreviated composition, as if we could truncate his most sacred ideas about life itself – even though we, as a society, have chosen to do exactly that with his physical life on earth.
I can’t help but wonder what my last statement on earth would be, what message I would desire to send into the world, what expression of Who I Am I would place before Humanity.
How about you? What would your last statement on earth be? What most deeply held beliefs about the death penalty, about life, about God, about humanity would you share with the people on planet earth if your last breath — at least in this lifetime — were scheduled to occur in less than a month, on the day of your execution?
(The following text is reprinted in its entirety from the website Gawker.com)
When I first responded to you, I didn’t think that it would cause people to reach out to me and voice their opinions. I’ve never been on the internet in my life and I’m not fully aware of the social circles on the internet, so it was a surprise to receive reactions so quickly.
I learned that some of the responses on your website were positive and some negative. I can only appreciate the conversation. Osho once said that one person considered him like an angel and another person considered him like a devil, he didn’t attempt to refute neither perspective because he said that man does not judge based on the truth of who you are, but on the truth of who they are.
Your words struck a chord with me. You said that my perspective is different and therefore my words have a sort of value. Yet, you’re talking to a young man that’s been judged unworthy to breathe the same air you breathe. That’s like a hobo on the street walking up to you and you ask him for spare change.
Without any questions, you’ve given me a blank canvas. I’ll only address what’s on my heart. Next month, the State of Texas has resolved to kill me like some kind of rabid dog, so indirectly, I guess my intention is to use this as some type of platform because this could be my final statement on earth.
I think ’empathy’ is one of the most powerful words in this world that is expressed in all cultures. This is my underlining theme. I do not own a dictionary, so I can’t give you the Oxford or Webster definition of the word, but in my own words, empathy means ‘putting the shoe on the other foot.’
Empathy. A rich man would look at a poor man, not with sympathy, feeling sorrow for the unfortunate poverty, but also not with contempt, feeling disdain for the man’s poverish state, but with empathy, which means the rich man would put himself in the poor man’s shoes, feel what the poor man is feeling, and understand what it is to be the poor man.
Empathy breeds proper judgement. Sympathy breeds sorrow. Contempt breeds arrogance. Neither are proper judgements because they’re based on emotions. That’s why two people can look at the same situation and have totally different views. We all feel differently about a lot of things. Empathy gives you an inside view. It doesn’t say ‘If that was me…’, empathy says, ‘That is me.’
What that does is it takes the emotions out of situations and forces us to be honest with ourselves. Honesty has no hidden agenda. Thoreau proposed that ‘one honest man’ could morally regenerate an entire society.
Looking through the eyes of empathy & honesty, I’ll address some of the topics you mentioned. It’s only my perspective.
The Justice system is truly broken beyond repair and the sad part is there is no way to start over. Improvements can be made. If honest people stand up, I think they will be made over time. I know the average person isn’t paying attention to all the laws constantly being passed by state & federal legislation. People are more focused on their jobs, raising kids and trying to find entertainment in between time. The thing is, laws are being changed right and left.
A man once said that revolution comes when you inform people of their rights. Martin Luther King said a revolution comes by social action and legal action working hand in hand. I’m not presenting any radical revolutionary view, the word revolution just means change. America changes as the law changes.
Under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution all prisoners in America are considered slaves. We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery. That was the reason for the protests by prisoners in Georgia in 2010. They said they were tired of being treated like slaves. People need to know that when they sit on trial juries and sentence people to prison time that they are sentencing them to slavery.
If a prisoner refuses to work and be a slave, they will do their time in isolation as a punishment. You have thousands of people with a lot of prison time that have no choice but to make money for the government or live in isolation. The affects of prison isolation literally drive people crazy. Who can be isolated from human contact and not lose their mind? That was the reason California had an uproar last year behind Pelican Bay. 33,000 inmates across California protested refusing to work or refusing to eat on hunger-strikes because of those being tortured in isolation in Pelican Bay.
I think prison sentences have gotten way out of hand. People are getting life sentences for aggravated crimes where no violence had occurred. I know a man who was 24 years old and received 160 years in prison for two aggravated robberies where less that $500 was stole and no violence took place. There are guys walking around with 200 year sentences and they’re not even 30 years old. Its outrageous. Giving a first time felon a sentence beyond their life span is pure oppression. Multitudes of young people have been thrown away in this generation.
The other side of the coin is there are those in the corporate world making money off prisoners, so the longer they’re in prison, the more money is being made. It’s not about crime & punishment, it’s about crime & profit. Prison is a billion dollar industry. In 1996, there were 122 prisons opened across America. Companies were holding expos in small towns showing how more prisons would boost the economy by providing more jobs.
How can those that invest in prisons make money if people have sentences that will allow them to return to free society? If people were being rehabilitated and sent back into the cities, who would work for these corporations? That would be a bad investment. In order for them to make money, people have to stay in prison and keep working. So the political move is to tell the people they’re tough on crime and give people longer sentences.
Chuck Colson, former advisor to the President once said that they were passing laws to be tough on crime, but they didn’t even know who the laws were affecting. It wasn’t until the Watergate scandal and Colson himself going to prison that he learned who the laws were affecting. Colson ended up forming the largest prison ministry in America. He also foreseen in his book THE GOD OF SPIDERS & STONES that America was forming a new society within its prisons. Basically, that prison would become a nation inside this nation. He predicted that over a million people would be locked up by the year 2000. The book was written in the 8O’s. Now, its 2014 and almost two million people are locked up. It’s not that crime is the issue. Crime still goes on daily. It’s that the politics surrounding crime have changed and it has become a numbers game. Dollars & Cents. You have people like Michael Jordan who invest millions of dollars in the prison system. Any shrewed businessman would if you have no empathy for people locked up and you just want to make some money.
I don’t agree with the death penalty. It’s a very Southern practice from that old lynching mentality. Almost all executions take place in the South with a few exceptions here and there. Texas is the leading State by far. I’m not from Texas. I was raised in California. Coming from the West Coast to the South was like going back in time. I didn’t even think real cowboys existed. Texas is a very ‘country’ state, aside a few major cities. There are still small towns that a black person would not be welcomed. California is more of a melting pot. I grew up in the Bay Area where its very diverse.
The death penalty needs to be abolished. Life without parole is still a death sentence. The only difference is time. To say you need to kill a person in a shorter amount of time is just seeking revenge on that person.
If the death penalty must exist, I think it should only be for cases where more than one person is killed like these rampant shootings that have taken place around the country the last few years. Also, in a situation of terrorism.
If you’re not giving the death penalty for murder, then the government is already saying that the taking of one’s life is not worth the death penalty. Capital murder is if you take someone’s life and commit another felony at the same time. That’s Texas law. That makes a person eligible for the death penalty The problem is, you’re not getting the death penalty for murder, you’re actually getting it for the other felony. That doesn’t make common sense. You can kill a man but you will not get the death penalty……if you kill a man and take money out his wallet, now you can get the death penalty.
I’m on death row and yet I didn’t commit the act of murder. I was convicted under the law of parties. When people read about the case, they assume I killed the victim, but the facts are undisputed that I did not kill the victim. The one who killed him plead guilty to capital murder for a life sentence. He admitted to the murder and has never denied it. Under the Texas law of parties, they say it doesn’t matter whether I killed the victim or not, I’m criminally responsible for someone else’s conduct. But I was the only one given the death penalty.
The law of parties is a very controversial law in Texas. Most Democrats stand against it. It allows the state to execute someone who did not commit the actual act of murder. There are around 50 guys on death row in Texas who didn’t kill anybody, but were convicted as a party.
The lethal injection has become a real controversial issue here of late because states are using drugs that they’re not authorize to use to execute people. The lethal injection is an old Nazi practice deriving from the Jewish Holocaust. To use that method to kill people today, when it’s unconstitutional to use it on dogs, is saying something very cruel and inhumane. People don’t care because they think they’re killing horrible people. No empathy. Just contempt.
I understand that it’s not popular to talk about race issues these days, but I speak on the subject of race because I hold a burden in my heart for all the young blacks who are locked up or who see the street life as the only means to make something of themselves. When I walked into prison at 19 years old, I said to myself ‘Damn, I have never seen so many black dudes in my life’. I mean, it looked like I went to Africa. I couldn’t believe it. The lyrics of 2Pac echoed in my head, ‘The penitentiary is packed/ and its filled with blacks’.
It’s really an epidemic, the number of blacks locked up in this country. That’s why I look, not only at my own situation, but why all of us young blacks are in prison. I’ve come to see, it’s largely due to an indentity crisis. We don t know our history. We don’t know how to really indentify with white people. We are really of a different culture, but by being slaves, we lost ourselves.
When you have a black man name John Williams and a white man name John Williams, the black man got his name from the white man. Within that lies a lost of identity. There are blacks in this country that don’t even consider themselves African. Well, what are we? When did we stop being African? If you ask a young black person if they’re African, they will say ‘No, I’m American’. They’ve lost their roots. They think slavery is their roots. Again, its a strong identity crisis.
You take the identity crisis, mix it with capitalism, where money comes before empathy, and you’ll have a lot of young blacks trying to get money by any means because they’re trying to get out of poverty or stay out of poverty. Now, money is what they try to find an identity in. They feel like if they get rich, legal or illegal, they’ve become somebody. Which in America is partly true because superficially we hail the rich and despise the poor. We give Jay-Z more credit than we do Al Sharpton. What has Jay-Z done besides get rich? Yet we see dollar signs and somehow give more respect to the man with the money.
A French woman who moved to America asked me one day, ‘Why don’t black kids want to learn?’ Her husband was a high school teacher. She said the white and asian kids excel in school, but the black and hispanic kids don’t. I said that all kids want to learn, it’s just a matter of what you’re trying to teach them. Cutting a frog open is not helping a black kid in the ghetto who has to listen to police sirens all night and worry about getting shot. Those kids need life lessons. They need direction. When you have black kids learning more about the Boston Tea Party than the Black Panther Party, I guarantee you won’t keep their attention. But it was the Black Panther Party that got them free lunch.
People point their fingers at young blacks, call them thugs and say they need to pull up their pants. That’s fine, but you’re not feeding them any knowledge. You’re not giving them a vision. All you’re saying is be a square like me. They’re not going to listen to you because you have guys like Jay-Z and Rick Ross who are millionaires and sag their pants. Changing the way they dress isn’t changing the way they think. As the Bible says, ‘Where there’s no vision the people perish’. Young blacks need to learn their identity so they can have more respect for the blacks that suffered for their liberties than they have for someone talking about selling drugs over a rap beat who really isn’t selling drugs.
They have to be exposed to something new. Their minds have to be challenged, not dulled. They know the history of the Crips & Bloods, but they can’t tell you who Garvey or Robeson is. They can quote Drake & Lil Wayne but they can’t tell you what Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton has done. Across the nation, they gravitate to Crips & Bloods. I tell those I know the same thing, not to put blue & red before black. They were black first. It’s senseless, but they are trying to find a purpose to live for and if a gang gives them a sense of purpose that’s what they will gravitate to. They aren’t being taught to live and die for something greater. They’re not being challenged to do better.
Black history shouldn’t be a month, it should be a course, an elective taught year around. I guarantee black kids would take that course if it was available to them. How many black kids would change their outlook if they knew that they were only considered 3/5’s of a human being according to the U.S Constitution? That black people were considered part animal in this country. They don’t know that. When you learn that, you carry yourself with a different level of dignity for all we’ve overcome.
Before Martin Luther King was killed he drafted a bill called ‘The Bill for the Disadvantaged’. It was for blacks and poor whites. King understood that in order to have a successful life, you have to decrease the odds of failure. You have to change the playing field. I’m not saying there’s no personal responsibility for success, that goes without saying, but there’s also a corporate responsibility. As the saying goes, when you see someone who has failed, you see someone who was failed.
Neither am I saying that advantages are always circumstancial. Sometimes its knowledge or opportunity that gives an advantage. A lot of times it is the circumstances. Flowers grow in gardens, not in hard places. Using myself as an example, I was 15 when my first love got shot 9 times in Oakland. Do you think I m going to care about book reports when my girlfriend was shot in the face? I understand Barack Obama saying there is no excuse for blacks or anyone else because generations past had it harder than us. That’s true. However, success is based on probabilities and the odds. Everyone is not on a level playing field. For some, the odds are really stacked against them. I’m not saying they can’t be overcome, but it’s not likely.
I’m not trying to play the race card, I’m looking at the roots of why so many young blacks are locked up. The odds are stacked against us, we suffer from an identity crisis, and we’re being targeted more, instead of taught better. Ask any young black person their views on the Police, I assure you their response will not be positive. Yet if you have something against the Police, who represent the government, you cannot sit on a trial jury. A young black woman was struck from the jury in my case because she said she sees the Police
as ‘intimidators’. She never had a good experience with the Police like most young blacks, but even though she’s just being true to her experience, she’s not worthy to take part as a juror in a trial.
White people really don’t understand how it extreme it is to be judged by others outside your race. In the book TRIAL & ERROR: THE TEXAS DEATH PENALTY Lisa Maxwell paints this picture to get the point across and if any white person reading this is honest with themselves, they will clearly understand the point. I cannot quote it word for word, but this was the gist of it…
Imagine you’re a young white guy facing capital murder charges where you can receive the death penalty… the victim in the case is a black man… when you go to trial and step into the courtroom… the judge is a black man… the two State prosecutors seeking the death penalty on you… are also black men… you couldn’t afford an attorney, so the Judge appointed you two defense lawyers who are also black men… you look in the jury box… there’s 8 more black people and 4 hispanics… the only white person in the courtroom is you… How would you feel facing the death penalty? Do you believe you’ll receive justice?
As outside of the box as that scene is, those were the exact circumstances of my trial. I was the only black person in the courtroom.
Again, I’m not playing the race card, but empathy is putting the shoe on the other foot.
The last thing on my heart is about religion and the death penalty. There are several well-known preachers in Texas and across the South that teach their congregations that the death penalty is right by God and backed by the Bible. The death penalty is a governmental issue not a spiritual issue. Southern preachers who advocate the death penalty are condoning evil. They need to learn the legalities of capital punishment. The State may have the power to put people to death, but don’t preach to the public that it’s God’s will. It’s the State’s will.
If God wanted me to die for anything, I would be dead already. I talk to God everday. He’s not telling me I’m some kind of menace that He can’t wait to see executed. God is blessing me daily. God is showing me His favor & grace on my life. Like Paul said, I was the chief of sinners, but God had mercy on me because He knew I was ignorant. The blood of Abel cryed vengeance, the blood of Jesus cryed mercy.
There are preachers like John Hagee in San Antonio who have influence over thousands of people, who not only attend his church, but also watch his TV program, and hear him condoning the death penalty. Hagee doesn’t see his Southern mentality condones the death penalty, not the scriptures. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that condones the way Texas executes people today.
Southern preachers use scriptures like God telling Noah, ‘Whoever shed’s man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed’. ‘That’s murder. Under Texas law, you cannot receive the death penalty for murder. There is no such thing as capital murder in the Bible, where murder must be in the course of another felony. Yet, they preach capital punishment is God’s
will. Even if you’re guilty of capital murder in Texas, it doesn’t mean you’ll receive the death penalty. People get the death penalty when a jury has judged them to be a ‘continuing threat to society’. ‘That means they are deemed so bad that they have no hope of redemption or change in their behavior. That is the only reason a person gets the death penalty. They are suppose to be the absolute worse of the worse, so terrible that they cannot live in prison with other murderers.
That in itself is contrary to the whole Christian faith that believes no one is beyond redemption if they repent for their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ. For a Christian to advocate the death penalty is a complete contradiction.
As easy as it is for a preacher to stand up in the pulpit with a Bible and tell thousands of people the death penalty is right, I challenge any preacher in Texas, John Hagee or any others to come visit me and tell me that God wants me to die. Martin Luther King said, ‘Capital punishment shows that America is a merciless nation that will not forgive.’
Again, Mr. Nolan, this is only my perspective. I’m just the hobo on the street giving away my pennies. A doctor can’t look at a person and see cancer, they have to look beyond the surface. When you look at the Justice system, the Death Penalty, or anything else, it takes one to go beyond the surface. Proper diagnosis is half the cure.
I’m a father. My daughter was six weeks old when I got locked up and now she’s 15 in high school. Despite the circumstances, I’ve tryed to be the best father in the world. But I knew that her course in life is largely determine by what I teach her. It’s the same with any young person, their course is determined by what we are teaching them. In the words of Aristotle, ‘All improvement in society begins with the education of the young.’
Ray L. Jasper
Ps: Forgive me for being longwinded, but I was speaking from the heart. Thanks for the opportunity.”
(Lisa McCormack is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and lives in Orlando, Florida. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
My boyfriend can’t forgive me because for the first year we dated I never invited him to my apartment. I was embarrassed because his apartment is so much nicer than mine, so I was always making excuses not to have him over. He thinks it was because I was unfaithful and living with another guy but nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve tried to explain it to him but he’s still holding it against me. I love him so much and miss the good times we had together. How can I regain his trust?… Mandy
You’ve learned the hard way, I’m afraid, that relationships can’t prosper fully when one is intentionally withholding information from another. That said, if you’ve sincerely apologized and explained your reasons and he still won’t forgive you, it’s probably time you have a heart to heart talk and try to find out what’s really going on with him. Set an intention for clarity and honest, open, peaceful communication. Here are a few talking points that might help get you started:
The way I see it—and please correct me if I’m wrong—if you haven’t yet forgiven me, it must be for one of these three reasons:
1. Because I haven’t explained why I did what I did, well enough for you to understand. I’ll gladly try one more time if you want me to.
2. If I have explained it fully and you understand what I’m saying, but you choose not to believe me, there is nothing I can do about that.
3. If I have explained it fully and you understand what I’m saying and you do believe me, but you choose to hold and carry a grudge, there is nothing I can do about that, either.
Are any of these scenarios true for you or are you using what I did as an excuse because you don’t have the courage to tell me that your feelings about me have changed? Or maybe you never really felt the same way about me that I feel about you?
CWG says there is nothing to forgive; there is only to understand. God fully understands the reasons behind everything we’ve ever done—what our fears were, what our thought processes were about that fear, and why it drove us to make that “mistake” (of course, there really are no mistakes in the Universe). That is why we need not ask forgiveness from God. Even before we ask it is already given.
Also, Mandy, we must always understand and forgive ourselves if we expect to receive understanding and forgiveness from others. This is how the Universe works at a metaphysical level—it reflects back our own thoughts about it. So perhaps the larger question is, Have you forgiven yourself?!
(Annie Sims is the Global Director of CWG Advanced Programs, is a Conversations With God Life Coach and author/instructor of the CWG Online School. To connect with Annie, please email her at Annie@TheGlobalConversation.com.
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to: Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
An additional resource: The CWG Helping Outreach offers spiritual assistance from a team of non-professional/volunteer Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less. Nothing on the CCN site should be construed or is intended to take the place of or be in any way similar to professional therapeutic or counseling services. The site functions with the gracious willing assistance of lay persons without credentials or experience in the helping professions. What these volunteers possess is an awareness of the theology of Conversations with God. It is from this context that they offer insight, suggestions, and spiritual support during moments of unbidden, unexpected, or unwelcome change on the journey of life.
Apologies to the rest of the world, but this is aimed more at the advertising industry in the United States and how they use the subconscious mind to brainwash Americans into believing that a.) there’s something “wrong” with them, b.) they should be ashamed of what’s “wrong” with them, c.) if they don’t fix what’s “wrong” with them they will never be happy and d.) that that advertiser has THE perfect fix for what “ails” them.
Make no mistake: the advertising industry is fully aware of what they are doing. They spend billions of dollars each year coming up with ads that send subtle messages to the subconscious mind. Have you noticed how, in the last 20 years, the pace of many commercials has gone from dialog to a head-spinning flash of images and words and music? The conscious mind is often not able to take in the huge quantity of images and sounds and but the subconscious mind remembers everything. But without guidance from the conscious mind, the subconscious draws its own conclusions from what it sees and hears.
There are several commercials for a medication that treats plaque psoriasis, a skin disease that creates red, raised often scaly patches of skin. It is a disease of the immune system. It’s not something you can catch from someone else; it’s not something you get because you don’t have good hygiene; it’s in no way an indication of what kind of person you are. And yet if you watch the commercial for the medication, you are led to believe that you should be embarrassed and ashamed because you have plaque psoriasis. I understand people are going to judge others based on appearance, but rather than suggesting that those who need the medication not give into the stigmatization of those who have the disease, it reinforces the stigma by showing people staring at the red patches and then walking away or looking at the person with plaque psoriasis with scorn. It even talks about the “embarrassing” problems of plaque psoriasis.
Then there’s the commercials for incontinent products. They promise to ship them in plain brown boxes so that no one knows what you’re getting. They too say something about no more embarrassing trips to the store. Incontinence is a medical condition! It has a plethora of causes, ranging from traumatic injury to cancer to old age.
Women have been told they must shave their legs and their underarms and to that end the business world has developed razors with built-in moisturizers, waxes, sprays and even some hair-removal piece of equipment that fits in the palm of your hand. No more embarrassing hair issues! As if where the hair on your body grows is within your control, so you should be embarrassed if it grows where society says it shouldn’t grow!
Men are not immune to being shamed by commercials! You’re not a “real man” unless your body looks like the ones on those body building commercials. Or unless you can achieve an erection at the drop of a hat!
Both men and women have been told they should be ashamed if they’re experiencing thinning hair, as if it is within their control how much of their hair they lose during their lifetime. Testimonials from satisfied clients talk about how embarrassed they were by their appearance before they had their treatment.
And these are just some of the things that we humans really don’t have any control over, but according to the advertisers, we should still be ashamed that this is an issue in our life!
Then, of course, there’s your common, everyday commercials that suggest that your car isn’t big enough, fast enough or have enough gadgets to hold your head up in the neighborhood. Or you’re not eating the right foods or drinking the best bottled water or wearing the correct shoes or your dishes aren’t spot free and if you just buy their brand, you’ll be on top of the world and everyone will look up to you and respect you and think what an amazing person you are.
The advertisements don’t always have to be on television either. Magazines that are supposed to be “empowering” women have ads on virtually every other page that tell women they look too old and need some cream or treatment to prevent aging, that they don’t look really pretty unless you wear a certain eye liner or mascara or foundation, and, of course, your hair has to colored so that no one can see any grey because God forbid you be proud of your grey hairs! And you must be skinnier. Always.
There are some studies who say that most Americans see anywhere from 3,000-10,000 advertising images every single day! Others put the number at about 250. But just think about how many times you see ads on your cell phone, on billboards, on the television, how many ads you hear on the radio, how many you read in magazines.
Each one of these ads is saying something to your subconscious and the vast majority of the time, the message is not a healthy one. Most of them tell your subconscious that you are not as good as the person who uses the product being advertised. Most of them tell your subconscious you are somehow “less” if you use another product. Most imply that you are lacking something vital without their product in your home. Some even flat out state that you should be embarrassed for conditions that are beyond your control.
Next time you sit down to watch TV or listen to the radio or read a magazine, pay attention to the messages that are being delivered to your subconscious mind. Until you are aware that these messages are being projected, you can’t do anything to counter them! Instead of buying into the shaming tactics of advertisers, be proud of Who You Are!
CwG tells us that we are all perfect just the way we are! That Goddess loves us unconditionally and accepts us without question! We do not need to change anything about ourselves in order to be acceptable to and loved by the Divine! That we have nothing to be ashamed about because there are no mistakes. Everything is the way it is supposed to be because we co-created it that way!
Celebrate that which makes you a unique individuation of the Divine! You have a unique role in the Divine plan and no one but you can play that part, so let your light shine and don’t hide it under a blanket of shame because some advertiser wants to sell you a product you don’t really need.
There existed a period of time in the United States of America less than a century ago when human beings who happened to be African American were denied access to the same establishments and amenities as Caucasian Americans. An owner of a restaurant or a movie theater or a neighborhood bakery could, and did, refuse to serve people based on one factor, skin color, even long after oppressive segregation laws changed.
Thankfully, there was a percentage of the population, both black and white, which shared a different perspective, a growing number of forward-thinking people who chose to courageously commit their lives to creating changes in the way people with diverse backgrounds and appearances interact with and relate to each other. Activist groups such as the Freedom Riders, with a mere 13 members to begin with, were among the many who were not only determined to end segregation, they were willing to actually die to make it happen. And that is exactly what they did.
Fast forward to 2014, and here we are again staring in the unforgiving face of discrimination and experiencing the stinging divisiveness of belief systems which are supported by ideas of separatism as the State of Arizona attempted to pass the Religious Freedom Bill recently. Senate Bill 1062, if passed, would protect businesses, corporations, and people from lawsuits after denying services based on a “sincere religious belief.” However, opponents of the bill fear that the legislation would lead to businesses discriminating against people, such as those in same-sex unions, based solely on the owner’s religious beliefs.
Over the last several years, Christian photographers, bakers, florists and others in wedding-related occupations have faced lawsuits and criminal penalties all across the country for declining to provide their goods and services for same-sex wedding ceremonies and receptions. And according to Nate Kellum, Chief Counsel for the Center for Religious Expression, these actions have cost people their livelihoods as they face daunting court costs, fines, negative press and even boycotts for refusing to compromise their faith.
After both chambers of the state legislature approved S.B. 1062, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, claiming it “could divide Arizona in ways we could not even imagine and no one would ever want. The bill was broadly worded and could result in unintended negative consequences.”
What does the passing, or not passing, of a bill like this mean to you? Do we want to live in a world where business owners are selectively serving people who walk through the doors of their establishments based on sexual orientation or skin color or socioeconomic status or political preference? Are a conservative Christian’s religious beliefs being compromised if they bake a cake for a same-sex couple? If a restaurant owner serves a meal to a gay couple, is he or she being deprived of the opportunity to “live out their faith”? Should a hairdresser be able to turn away someone who has had an abortion or refuse to cut the hair of a person who has given birth to a child outside of marriage? Do we want to see the day (again) when a realtor won’t sell a house to an interracial couple?
Conversations with God invites us to consider the possibility that some of our greatest gifts and remembrances are provided to us within the context of the exact opposite showing up in our lives. Just as we declare ourselves to be loving, someone who is perhaps more difficult to love appears. Just as we declare ourselves to be patient, someone who requires a higher level of patience arrives in our experience. Just as we declare ourselves to be kind, someone less-easy-to-be-kind-to will be placed before us. It is one thing to declare ourselves as loving, patient, or kind; it is another thing to be provided the opportunity to actually experience and know ourselves as loving, patient, or kind.
So what might happen if a person were provided the opportunity to express the depths of their faith and love with somebody who stood before them in a different form, perhaps challenging their current viewpoint? What then might they be allowed to know about who they really are and the capacity of their ability to love?
We may observe some of these laws get pushed through the political system, perhaps by influential groups with deep pockets, and some of these kinds of laws already exist on the books. But regardless of what words get etched into the voluminous pages of our law books, what is the society we truly desire to experience and live in? Do we want to exist in a world where a list of “suitable” or “unsuitable” patrons is tacked to the front door of the places we frequent? Who is truly free in that kind of system?
It only took 13 people back in the 1960s to ignite a social revolution by forming the Freedom Riders. What will it take now? And where will you choose to be?
(Lisa McCormack is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation and lives in Orlando, Florida. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
Here we go again. Yesterday it was Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Syria…today it is Ukraine.
Russian troops have moved into the Crimean Peninsula and ordered the army of Ukraine to lay down its arms.
Once more, one country has invaded another. Once more, peace moves further away. Once more, power over trumps power with the people.
Will it never end? Can it ever end? Is it simply the nature of human beings to live in constant conflict? Are we as a species simply incapable of coexisting harmoniously?
What is the answer to all of this? Is there an answer?
Yes. But we cannot see it if we refuse to look at the source of all that is going wrong.
The biggest difficulty in the world today is that we continue trying to solve our problems at every level except the level at which the problems exist.
We first try to solve our problems as if they were political problems, because we are used to using political pressure on this planet to get people to do what they don’t want to do.
We hold discussions, we write laws, we pass legislation and adopt resolutions in every local, national, regional, and global language and assembly we can think of to try to solve the problem with words—but it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate very quickly, and the problems reemerge. They will not go away.
So we say, “Okay, these are not political problems and they cannot be solved with political means. They are economic problems.” And because we are used to using economic power on this planet to get people to do what they don’t want to do, we then try to solve the problems as if they were economic problems.
We throw money at them, or withhold money from them (as in the form of sanctions), seeking to solve the problems with cash. But it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate very quickly, the problems reemerge. They will not go away.
And so we say, “Okay, these are not economic problems, and they cannot be solved by economic means. They must be military problems.” And because we are used to using military might on this planet to get people to do what they don’t want to do, we then try to solve the problems as if they were military problems.
We throw bullets at them and drop bombs on them, seeking to solve the problems with weapons. But it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate very quickly, and the problems reemerge. They will not go away. And so, having run out of solutions, we declare: “These are not easy problems. No one expected that they could be fixed overnight. This is going to be a long, hard slog. Many lives will be lost in trying to solve these problems. But we are not going to give up. We are going to solve these problems if it kills us.” And we don’t even see the irony in our own statements.
After a while, however, even primitive beings of very little consciousness become tired of the killing and the dying of their own sons and daughters in battle and their own women and children and elderly in the line of fire. And so, after enough killing has been done with no solution in sight, they say it is time to call a truce and hold peace talks. And the cycle begins again…
We are back to the bargaining table, and back to politicking as a solution. And peace talks often include discussion of reparations and economic recovery. And so, we are back to money as a solution. And when these solutions fail to work in the long run, we are back to bombs again.
And on and on and on it goes, and on and on and on it has gone throughout human history. Only the names of the players have changed, but the game has not.
Only primitive cultures and primitive beings do this. I know that you have all heard the definition of insanity. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different result.
We can’t seem to change our ways, however, because we are very used to trying to force solutions in our world.
Yet solutions that are forced are never solutions at all. They are simply postponements.
I know that you have heard, a hundred times by now, the definition of insanity. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different result.
The great tragedy and the great sadness of humanity is that we are forever willing to settle for postponements in place of solutions.
Only primitive cultures and primitive beings do that. Highly evolved beings would never, ever settle for a ten-thousand-year postponement in solving their biggest problems. Here on this planet we’ve never really faced the largest problem of humanity head on. We refuse to. We pretend we don’t even know what it is. And so we do our endless dance all around it. And we continue, century after century, to solve the world’s problem at every level except the level at which the problem exists.
The problem facing humanity today is not a political problem, it is not an economic problem, and it is not a military problem. The problem facing humanity today is a spiritual problem, and it can only be solved by spiritual means.
The problem is rooted in our most fundamental beliefs about life, about each other, and about the thing we call God.
Put simply, the problem with our basic beliefs is that we believe in Separation. We believe that all things are separate from other things, that all people are separate from other people, and that all humans are separate from God.
This is, and has been for millennia, our Cultural Story. It is a Story of Separation.
Our opportunity on the Earth today is to jointly author a brand new story about who we are and how it is with us. And most important, how it’s going to be.
We get to declare, at long last, as a single voice, the truth of our being: We are all One. And with that declaration as the foundation of our New Cultural Story, we can bring an end at last to Separation Theology.
Separation Theology is a theology that insists that we are “over here” and God is “over there.” Its doctrine tells us that God separated us from God as punishment for our sins, and that our job now is to get back to God, which is possible only if God will allow it, which God will do only if we obey God’s commands, follow God’s laws, and submit to God’s will. In short, we must do what God wants.
This Separation Theology has produced a Separation Cosmology (that is, a way of looking at all of life on this planet that includes separation as its basic principle), which, in turn, has produced a Separation Psychology (that is, a psychological way of looking at things, of holding life, that rests on a foundation of separation), which, in turn, has produced a Separation Sociology (that is, a way of socializing with each other that encourages us to act as separate beings serving our own separate interests), which, in the end, has produced a Separation Pathology (that is, pathological behaviors of self-destruction, producing suffering, conflict, violence, and death by our own hands).
Only when our Separation Theology is replaced by a Unity Theology will our pathology be healed. We must come to understand that all of life is One. This is your first step and it is mine. It is the jumping off point. It is the beginning of the end of how things now are. It is the start of a new creation, of a new tomorrow. It is the New Cultural Story.
Oneness is not a characteristic of life, life is a characteristic of Oneness.
Life is the expression of Oneness Itself. God is the expression of Life Itself. God and Life are One. You are a part of Life. You do not and cannot stand outside of it. Therefore you are a part of God. It is a circle. It cannot be broken.
What does all of this have to do with you?
Well, if you believe that humanity can and must change its Cultural story, from one of Separation to one of Oneness, you will do what you can to place that new Cultural Story on the ground.
First, you can make a firm commitment this day to demonstrate Oneness in every moment, by the way you move through Life.
You can choose to show that you are One with everyone and everything, just by the way to think and speak and act . . . this very day.
If you are consciously aware of what you are thinking, saying, and doing, you will relate to other people . . . the other person in your life, the other people in your family, the others on this planet in a different way today, seeing them, experiencing them, as part of yourself.
Now you might say, “That’s all very nice, but what difference will it make? It’s not going to change anything in Ukraine today.” And you’d be right. It’s not. But imagine what would happen in the long run if everyone reading this decided today to act in every moment as if We Are All One.
Each of you is going to touch other people before this week is out. And they, in turn, will touch other people. And those people will touch others.
Do you think this means nothing? I tell you, this is how the world works.
This is how politics work. This is how societies work. This is how religions work.
You have more power than you know. If you begin moving through the world a certain way today, the world could begin to change tomorrow.
The readership of this online newspaper could start a snowball rolling downhill. Yes it could. Believe it or not.
And then there is prayer. This, too, as you know . . . is very powerful. And so you can pray every day that the world will at last come to its senses, stop all this nonsense, and see . . . and live . . . the truth of our being.
And you can bring other people to this awareness. You can write Letters to the Editor, send messages to our society’s leaders, and, on a more personal level, you can read the book The Storm Before the Calm, published in full right here on this website. It lays out an powerful course of action that you can take right now to assist us all in re-writing our Cultural Story.
Then you can join the Evolution Revolution and begin, in your own living room, a grass roots movement designed to change the world.
To learn more about this, return to this newspaper’s Front Page and click on the Blue Box in the right hand column.
So there is something you can do — about your life, and about our world. Things do not have to be the way they seem inevitably to be.
Did you know that there is a new book that identifies the 25 most important messages of the 9-installment Conversations with God series? It then offers practical suggestions on how to apply each message in every day life. Powerful and inspirational reading. To see the first seven chapters and hear a one chapter sample of the audio book, click here.
(This is Part X of an extended series on being part of the change, rather than simply observing the change, that is occurring on our planet right now.)
In the first ten installments here we have explored in depth the first step in becoming a spiritual helper. You can find those entries in the archives on the website. The second step in becoming a spiritual helper is to:
AGREE WITH OURSELVES ABOUT EACH OTHER
It is important that we come to a new and larger understanding about each other.We are not each other’s enemies.We are not each other’s obstacles.We are not even each other’s competitors. We are each other.
Did you hear that? Did you understand the implication of that?
Don’t be offended by these questions. Every day I have to act as if I never heard that before. Every day I seek to bring myself to a new understanding of what all of that means. Sometimes I can hear something and “not hear it,” do you know what I mean? I mean it goes in one ear and out the other. I’ve heard it so often it’s like I’ve never heard it at all. So I have to bring myself to it as if it were brand new.
So let me ask you again, did you hear that?
What I SAID was…we are each other.
The implication of that is enormous. Because if we see each other, if we can finally come to a place where we can really see each other, as simply Another Version Of Us, we will suddenly understand many things—not the least of which is our unlimited potential to create anything we choose on this planet.
A neat trick if we can do it. I have to believe that most of the people reading this right now would agree with the above statement, conceptually. The idea that We Are All One comprises the core of the CwG message. Indeed, it is the earliest message of Conversations with God-Book 1, it is the central focus of the book What God Wants , and it is the through-line of all the other books in the 9-text CWG series.
Having said that, I notice that even readers of CwG have a challenging time living that truth. I do, too. All people do. Except when they don’t. What makes it less challenging to live the truth of our Oneness, to see ourselves as each other, is understanding.
Without deep understanding, it is not going to be easy to overcome the Illusion of Disunity.
This idea of disunity is very powerful in our experience. It emerged from the first two Illusions of Humans, the Illusion of Need and the Illusion of Failure. These Illusions are explained in wonderfully illuminating detail in the astonishing book Communion with God, which outlines the mental cosmology of life as we know it.
“Disunity” proceeds directly out of the idea off “failure,” just as “failure” pro- ceeds directly out of the idea of “need.” These are the first three Illusions. There are ten in all.
As Communion with God explains it: Our species reasoned that if creations were separate from the Creator, and if the Creator allowed the creations to do whatever they pleased, it would then be possible for the creations to do something that the Creator did not want them to do. Under these circumstances, the Will of the Creator could be thwarted. God could want something, but not get it. Failure could exist.
Disunity produces the possibility of Failure, and Failure is only possible if Need exists. One illusion depends upon another.
The idea that Disunity Exists has proven to have extraordinary impact on human affairs. The feeling of separation from God makes it extremely difficult for people to relate to God in any meaningful way. They either misunderstand God, or fear God, or they supplicate with God, begging for God’s help – or they deny God altogether.
In so doing, humans have missed a glorious opportunity to use the most powerful force in the Universe, subjecting themselves to lives over which they imagine that they have no control, under conditions they think that they cannot change, producing experiences and outcomes they believe they cannot escape.
The feeling of separation from God does not allow humans to use God, to call upon God, to have a friendship with God, to harness the full potential of God’s creative and healing power, either to end suffering, or for any other purpose.
The feeling of separation from each other allows humans to do all manner of things to each other that they would never do to themselves. By failing to see that they are doing it to themselves, they produce and reproduce unwelcome results in their daily lives and in their planetary experience, over and over again.
The most significant outcome is that your belief in separation leads to your idea that there is “not enough.”
When there was only One Thing, and you knew that you were that One Thing, there was never a question of there not being “enough.” There was always “enough of You.” But when you decided that there was more than One Thing, then (and only then) it could appear that there was not enough of “the other thing.”
This “other thing” that you think that there is, is the stuff of Life. Yet you are Life, and that which Life IS —which is God, Itself.
Still, so long as you imagine that you are separate from God, you will imagine that you are something other than what God is—which is Life Itself. You may think that you are that which lives, but you will not imagine yourself to be Life Itself.
And we will continue this exploration in our next entry here.