OCCUPY!! OCCUPY!! OCCUPY!!!

True to the times, this revolution is being televised.
What I’m talking about is the Occupy movement and the increasingly draconian response.
After ignoring the movement for a long as possible, The Powers That Be and the media started paying attention only once it was clear this wasn’t going to just go away. Now most of the coverage in the media focuses on what appears to be excessive force being used to break up the protest efforts.
At the University of California, Berkeley, the police union said a video showing officers jabbing demonstrators with batons in early November as they clashed with campus protesters defending the tents they had pitched as part of an Occupy-related demonstration against university budget cuts is misleading and did not show officers being pushed and threatened. The matter is under investigation.
Meanwhile, on the UC Davis campus, police became infamous with the emergence of video showing an officer pepper spraying peaceful protesters. The officer walked up and down the line of seated, still protesters spraying them down with pepper spray with a look and manner as casual as if he were hosing off his car.
Officials on the Davis campus said violent events sometimes associated with Occupy demonstrations in downtown Oakland and Berkeley prompted them to head off the establishment of tents and encampments on campus that might draw people who were not students. Police defended the response and school officials have said it was more than intended.
That’s not to mention how aggressively the protest encampments were broken up in Oakland, New York City and most recently Los Angeles where 1,400 policemen broke up the Occupy camp and arrested some 200 people.
I’m not surprised by the strong use of force. The Powers That Be have reason to be concerned.
My guess is that part of the reason for the friction between The Powers That Be and protesters is the fact that the nation is seeing something it has seen in over 40 years and doesn’t know how to handle — sustained protest. Not since the civil rights movement of the 1960s have we seen protesters not just take to the street to march, but taking up position in commons areas to draw attention to the wrongs of society with no intention of leaving until their concerns are addressed.
But while the revolution is being televised, the problem is that most people don’t really know what they’re watching.
Partly that’s because each time a reporter asks a protester why he or she is there they give their unique reason. The point that is being missed is that all of the answers revolve around their lack of power and the indifference of the system to their needs and situation.
Maybe that’s why the media isn’t calling this what it really is: a revolution — and as much of a revolution as what has been seen in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Opponents have dismissed the Occupy movement as a bunch of whiners, malcontents and hippies (Hippies?! Really? I thought they only still existed in old movies), but the truth is the occupiers are angry because their futures are being stolen and they know it.
By nature I’m inclined to sympathize and empathize with the participants. Forty years ago similar arguments and tactics were being used by opponents to dismiss, minimize and attempt to break the civil rights movement.
And like that movement was largely successful, this one will be too. First and most importantly, the occupiers are right. They may have varied grievances but the bottom line is these people are our nation’s fast-vanishing middle class. They see their salaries being suppressed as they take on more and more debt to get an education and their dreams of owning a home and retiring comfortable being pushed out of reach.
Right now, the protesters are raging against anything and everything – though it is ultimately largely against corporate greed. But eventually they will focus and the truth is that what the protesters are really angry about is their fast-fading position as the nation’s middle class. The middle class in America is like the beef at a wedding reception – sliced thin and getting thinner and thinner with each cut.
The rich think they are the backbone of our nation. They aren’t. It has been and will always be the middle class. The middle class has been the foundation for our economy and where most people were happy to end up. There’s a reason why people used to talk about having ‘middle class values.’ When people have traditionally talked about ‘the American dream’ it hasn’t been to be among the rich but to be comfortably middle class. The middle class has been the goal that we have all aspired to and been the buffer that kept the poor from being outraged by the excesses and greed of the rich. Without them and their work and their economic contributions the economy will grind to, at best, anemic growth.
And if you don’t believe that then believe this: no thriving nation succeeds without a strong middle class. Period!!!
Once the Occupy movement has zoomed in on its issue and found its voice it will be clear to all that this is the rising up of what is left of the middle class, the former middle class and those who would have been middle class and they are fighting for what was theirs and is being loss and/or taken.
I am stunned every time I see police acting so aggressively toward largely nonviolent protesters. What can make the power structure flex so hard against a movement that had until recently been so largely ignored? I say it’s the fact that this movement is real and legitimate.
The Tea Party is basically the most radicalized segment of the Republican Party, and their heavy financing and the story of their creation proves it. What frightens the status quo about the Occupy movement is that it really and truly is a grassroots uprising in opposition to what is going on in the country today.
Put your money on the Occupiers.
Middle class movements have historically succeeded in this country in large part because they are basically from the center of the nation and reflect its core values. Exhibits A and B is the women’s suffrage movement early in the 20th Century and the Civil Rights Movement later in the century.
Middle class people also tend to have the education to plan and organize their effort and to articulate their desires. Most importantly with this effort is the fact that the movement is not limited to America but is worldwide. The middle class of the world is on the verge of uniting.
The status quo is used to squelching protest by dispersing opponents. They don’t realize that in the age of the internet they are making a huge mistake. As we have seen in Egypt and Libya, technology connects in a way never seen before.
Pushing the occupy movement out of the parks and off of the campus walkways is only going to make it go viral and force participants to focus their thinking and message.
The question will then be what these protesters are going to do about it.
My guess is that is when they will finally turn their attention to a corrupt political system that has rewarded greed while selling out their middle class status and future. Then they are going to start a push to take back government from corporate interest.

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Reinventing the Uninvented Me

After getting laid off Eli has a chance to finally follow his dream – and with that in mind he relocates his wife, Trina, back to his hometown of Greensboro, NC, with the promise that he’s going to finally buckle down, focus and write his novel.
But once back home he falls into bad habits. First, he begins to hangout with his old friends. There are Derek and Quincy, his friends since elementary school, and Langston, a friend since their freshman year at North Carolina A&T State University. Langston is a financial advisor who is married to a woman he is afraid of, and Quincy prays for the life he wants and deals with an ex-wife that hates him. And then there is Derek. Eli had once thought about writing a book based on Derek’s life, but decided it would have been too depressing and nobody would believe it was true — like the time he got fired as a holiday bell ringer at the mall. Derek’s a good guy with a good personality and sense of humor, but somehow things just don’t work out for him.
Oh, and there is also Darlene — the woman of Eli’s dreams and potentially the biggest mistake he could make in his life.
“Reinventing the Uninvented Me” is the story of what happens and how it affects everybody’s lives.
Eli has shared food, stories, lies, joys, dreams, alcohol, and tales of triumph and disappointment for nearly 30 years with his boyz. Now that he is back home what Eli discovers – sometimes comically, sometimes tragically — is more about his friends than he ever imagined and more about himself than he could ever believe possible.
This book is written by Jamie C. Ruff, a former reporter and alumni of A&T. This book, and his other book “Colby Black: from Slave to Cowboy,” is available as an eBook at Amazon for download. It will be available as a paperback later this year.

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Colby Black: From Slave to Cowboy

COLBY BLACK
Colby Black is an angry young man with a gun.
It’s a time of social upheaval where the desperate and greedy pursue their dreams and the innocent and weak get crushed — the 1870s in frontier Oklahoma.
Colby’s too young to know what he wants out of life, but he’s got a family he wants to protect – and to do that he’s going to have to give up whatever future he might have.
Colby Black: From Slave to Cowboy” is a novella about the brief life and violent times of Colby Black as seen through a several months stretch of 1872 when he is 18 years old and everything that has to get done – no matter how violent or unpleasant – gets done.
Colby lives with Old Man Jenkins, who is like a father to him, and Tom, also adopted by Jenkins. He has becomes Black’s brother. The early years of the men’s lives are seen through flashbacks. The three former slaves work their farm and also work other jobs: Old Man, as he is known, and Tom as carpenters; Black as a deputy. The book includes historical events such as the Civil War, Emancipation of slaves and migration to Oklahoma in search of a better life and “the American dream.” The book includes details about the hardships and difficulties of frontier life and culminates with a classic cowboy shootout.
This book is written by Jamie C. Ruff, a former reporter and alumni of North Carolina A&T State University. This book, and his other book, “Reinventing the Uninvented Me,” is available as an eBook at Amazon for download. It will be available as a paperback later this year.

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A love story and the quizzical look on the man’s face …

I met Little Bit a few months ago.

I was out walking our beagle, Freckles, when she came running at us out of the woods. She was a little brown mutt whose ribs were starting to show. For a few days she would sit a safe distance in my neighbor’s yard and bark across at Frek. She was attracted to me, but leery of me. After a few more days she started coming out to the street to play with Frek, but made sure to stay away from me. Though Frek was on a leash he and Little Bit begin play. Most times I would just turn around and return home, and most time she would follow. She was always caution and careful about cars, but she would get so caught up playing with Frek I was scared she would run in front of an oncoming car. After following us home she would stay in the yard and play with Frek, moving just outside of the reach of his line when she got tired of him. She would stay a few minutes at first, but with each visit she would stay longer and longer.

Finally, one day, as we started down the road for our walk I looked up to see Little Bit running toward us.  But I never fed her; never gave her water. I figured she was a hunting dog that somebody had dropped off, but I hoped she had a home and an owner who let her run free and without a collar.

Then, about a month ago, as I was taking Frek for his morning walk, we ran into a German shepherd. He was lying in the road near a man who was changing a tire on the truck he was driving. I assumed the dog belonged to the man and I was nervous about walking my beagle pass such a large dog. But the dog came up and was friendly enough. Then, when the man finished changing the tire and drove off, the dog just set there … looking at us. He also followed us home, and while he was there Little Bit showed up. They became fast friends in a way that need and desire makes. She was a small dog that found safety with a big dog. The next day, the German shepherd met us again as we walked down the road. I turned around and went back home and, again, he followed. This time, I felt sorry for him. He tongue was hanging and you could tell he was tired. When I gave him some water he just submissively fell at my feet. The act tugged at my heart and I decided to feed him, too. And, since I was feeding him, I started feeding her too.

They quickly became our dogs. For a few days they would show up every morning, eat and hang out in the yard. Frek loved the companionship and company and started looking forward to their visits. He would go out early in the morning looking for Little Bit and Big Boy, the name I had by now given the German shepherd. It got to the place they might arrive separately, but were always within minutes of each other and would look for the other when they got there. They were Frick and Frack – the German Shepherd and the little mutt with the flopping ears always chasing behind him.

They started coming at night, when Big Boy preferred to eat; Little Bit ate morning, evening and whenever you gave her food. The first time I fed she started hyperventilating and she was so hungry that she at the food I had set out for Big Boy.

Quickly, the little dog that had been so afraid of me that she would stay away from me now became my chum. When we would go out for a walk Big Boy would be off in the woods, Frek would be pulling on his 16-foot leash trying to follow, but Little Bit would be walking right beside me. She got to the place she wanted me to rub on her and initially would stand awkwardly still for long periods as I stroked her coat, graying chin and cradled her small head. She quickly got comfortable with being rubbed and would come up to me and stand on her back legs begging for attention. She even got to the place she would let me pick her up and hold her to my chest, though she was clearly uncomfortable with someone in her face but accepted the awkwardness as a small price to pay for being loved on.

About a month ago they basically moved in. They stayed longer and longer during the day, there when we woke up, back from noon until about 6 p.m. and then back by 10 p.m. When they returned Big Boy would usually be wet, so I assumed they had a waterhole they would go to to cool off. They would cross the busy two-lane road in front of our house, but seemed to have a sense of what time to cross and could read traffic.

I can tell he belongs to somebody, he follows some orders and seems to interact with my wife and I in a way that let’s you know he used to being part of a household. He keeps sticking his nose in the door trying to get I the house. That he belongs to someone somewhere made me reluctant to turn him over to the local no-kill shelter. I was also worried he might be separated from Little Bit. You could see how close they were. They would end up separated as Big Boy’s bound down through the woods and down the road and she seemed to race with her short legs to catch up or keep up. Plus, she would stop and duck into the woods away from him. Often, Big Boy would wait for her, but too often they just ended up going in different directions. My real fear for them was that a predator would catch Little Big alone.

But no matter what they always ended up together at our house at night. We followed the same routine. We would give them something to eat and I would play with them for a little while until they lay down.  Little Bit wanted and enjoyed the attention; I found out she liked stuff to chew on, and Saturday I picked up some sticks and other items with her in mind. She would stretch her little body out and sit there and chew and chew and chew …

The evening of Sunday, July 25th, went as usual. Frek excitedly set on the deck looking for his friends. I watched them wall off together about 8 p.m. Big Boy finally returned about 10:30 p.m. He was hungry, but initially did not eat. He kept looking for Little Bit. He kept going in the woods looking for her.

By midnight I knew something was wrong and I decided to go look for her. I expected to find her on the dirt road we live on. Maybe injured and limping. I hoped that by time I got back home I would see her sitting in the driveway eating.

Instead, I found her on the highway in front of our house. I came back home and got a blanket to wrap her in. Big Boy was blocking my car, so I let him crawl across me and he set quietly in the passenger seat. It was the first time I let him in my car.

When we got back home I wrapped Little Bit up in the blanket and put her in a box as Frek and Big Boy looked on. And wherever I set the box, Big Boy would lay close by.  He looked so pitiful.

Monday morning, I made arrangements to have her cremated. Big Boy watched me put the box in the car and as I drove away for the first time he gave chase. He actually was chasing my car down the busy road we live on. Fortunately, there was not a car behind me but I had to pick him up because I was scared he would get hit. As we rode, sometimes he set there with his front paws on my thigh; sometimes he just looked into the backseat at the box that Little Bit was in; He’s an old dog; he looks tired. But he looked exhausted that morning.

I cried most of Monday … it feels so stupid to cry so much over 1) a dog, and 2) a dog that is not even yours. But I’ve gotten fond of them … and I was hoping God would make a way for me to keep them. Sometimes, I would sit on the back porch or the steps and Frek, Big Boy and Little Bit would pall on jockeying for attention; and I loved on each. Now, I’ve decided I’m just going to take Big Boy to the no-kill shelter. I wanted to keep him he’s too big for our house and I don’t want him sitting on a chain in the backyard looking forlorn and lonely. And I don’t want to have to pick him up on the side of the road one day… I know I’m going to miss him so much. I’ve gotten used to pulling up or opening the front door and having him come out from under the house, and having him shake drool on my pants.  

We all want a happy ending. But the truth is, the only thing guaranteed is that it will end. The important thing is everything between the beginning and the end: whether you lived a good life that sadly ended, or lived a sad life that happily ended.

Not too long ago I was rubbing on Little Bit and thinking about a scene for a character in one of my books I plan to write. In the scene, an old man rubs his dog as the protagonist looks on. The old man tells the central character that he has learned one lesson from his dog: “The important thing,” the old man will say,” is that he’s going to die knowing he’s loved, and that’s better than some people get. I’m not saying its right. I’m just saying that’s life.”

The End

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i’ve been thinking … there is a God …

We live in a time and world where God has been co-opted to serve man and man’s desires and goals … this is wrong … too many people use God’s name to hate, to oppress, to oppose … I started thinking this morning and this came to me …
There is a God; He created the universe and Is the universe. When you die, you return to God and become part of the universe; you become part of what has been, what is and what will be.
God is not Christian, or Islamic, or Jewish or even Buddhist … God is God … Period … We need to stop serving our religion and start serving God … When you say that your religion allows you to ignore God’s desires then you are saying your religion is greater than God … can that be true? Can something created to praise God be able to supersede God’s Will? … Your religion is a guideline but a blueprint … to follow your religion too strictly is to fail to listen to God when he speaks to you … and if you fail to listen to God, then you are refusing to serve God …
Christ lived and died to give Christians a relationship with God; that is your relationship. It is not the only one … God will judge you by the path you follow … don’t worry about what path others pursue … you’ve got your own journey to make …
God gave man and woman each other to help each other and serve each other … but you both serve and are subservient to God … Man is head of household … but how can you lead when you hold back your partner? And how can you give God your best when you refuse to give him your all and all there is?
That you profess to Love God as you hate others does not prove that you Love God; only that you hate others …
Your connection to God in this mortal form determines your place in the universe and Heaven; it is not about being a bad person, but those who do not believe in this connection cannot have it so they cannot become part of the universe and Heaven.
The service you do for others is how you serve and praise God;
God created man and woman to serve man and woman; to live together and grow … to hear God’s voice and build tribute to him on Earth … if mankind serves God well one day we will all hear His voice …
If you are connected to God you will feel His Will and pursue it.
God is Love and those who do violence in his name are lying. God wants you to protect yourself and protect the weak … but that is all that violence can be used for;
If you say you are acting in God’s name then let your action be right and good and fair to all; if it is not right and good and fair then your action is not in God’s name …
Words are the sharpest and most dangerous tool … use them wisely … they are more eternal than your body …
God’s relationship with you is personal and private; Your church is a place where other believers can come together to serve … but you must serve and praise God … to serve the church is a sin … To serve the church is to serve dogma … to serve God through the church is to see Heaven.
Be kind … be merciful … be generous … be forgiving … But in being kind, and merciful, and generous and forgiving you do not have to allow others to take advantage of you; God put you on earth to serve Him; God has blessed you with gifts and equipped you with tools … use them and let no one keep you from doing so; to refuse to use your gifts and tools is a sin …
Do not think that because a man does not profess to know God that he does not serve God; God wants your Good Deeds, not just good words. Conversely, do not believe that because a man claims to serve God that he does.
Sin is not the damnation of man, it is the burden … sin does not condemn you to hell, but weakens your relationship with God and keeps you from hearing His voice and serving Him and living the Good life God has in store for you and following your path to Heaven ….
Do not envy the wealthy man; God wants you to live comfortably but what man is comfortable when he has so much while others starve or do not have shelter; greed … selfishness … self absorption … these are things that keep you away from God …
Do not envy what others have or how they look … God will give you what he wants you to have; tell Him your greatest desire and He will provide a path … but remember to always maintain your relationship and connection to God … what good is gold when costs you your connection to God and costs you entry into Heaven?
Place no one and nothing above God … not yourself, nor child, nor wife nor mother, nor anything you own, nor glory, no goal, nor dreams … and you, and they, will be blessed … abundantly …
God does not hate capitalism … but greed and selfishness and self absorption are bad things … share generously but not frivolously … God does not expect you to give your last, but to share what you can spare …
There are legal crimes that man can judge and moral crimes that God will judge … do not confuse the two and overstep your bounds … But either way, if you commit an act in private, but condemn it public you have condemned yourself …
God does not care about your religion … He cares about Your Soul … You do not know his name and he does not care what name you serve Him in, just as long as you serve Him … just remember to be earnest and sincere as, and when, you serve Him …
Does it matter what book you profess to follow when you do not follow? How can you do violence in God’s name when He speaks only of Love …
Do not announce your Good deeds … only God needs to know them … they are for him and to him, not for man to praise … only a fool seeks man’s praise when he can have God’s …
I am not a prophet … I am not to be followed … I am but a servant of God … I have failed, and will fail, him often and sought and been given His forgiveness … God does forgive as generously and quickly as you forgive …
I am full of sin but will go to Heaven … just not the highest levels …
Please, this is not the beginning of a dialogue … I have said what needs to be said and have nothing more to say on the subject …
I pray that these are not my words and that God has placed this on my heart this day and I have written it and shared it with you … July 22, 2010 …

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Hello world!

I try to do right even when i do wrong … I am a former journalist so i respect the truth … I just want to share my opinions and observations with the world but I want you to take them for what they are: the musings of one man … Sometimes you will agree; sometimes you won’t … but please do for me what i will do for you and respect my opinions. This is the grown up table. Issues are discussed; arguments are made … If your opinion is based on a rant against me based on not liking what is said, keep it to yourself … But if you want to share and have something to say that enhances the discussion, feel free … Thanks …

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