Black History Month Continued . . .

Happy Monday, All!

And, in spite of a comment from one of the Giants players, which I think was meant with respect or perhaps “ignorance” of the Native Americans regarding The University of Chief Illini, congrats to the New York Giants aka “The G-Men”! In these days and times, with so much competition in sports as well as a need to be politically correct, I congratulate BOTH teams for making it into the Super Bowl. It was a fantastic game, yet one team has to win … consequently the other team loses.

As we continue to move forward through Black History Month, may we continue to acknowledge the contributions of African Americans as much of it has been omitted or not properly represented in the school systems history books. That doesn’t mean that we can not be “upgraded” in terms of our knowledge and, perhaps, appreciation of the contributions of African Americans, formerly known as “The Negro”.

Tomorrow, I will be doing a presentation on “Black History” at the Lauderhill, FL location for the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County. I am excited to see Mr. Eric Louis, the director for the center, and, word on the “street” has it, the youngest director ever, and an African American, of a center of the BGCBC.

May we get this week off to a great start.

“Behind an able man there are always other able men.” – Chinese Proverb

Today, I pray for help in learning how to share my strength and to appreciate the strength of others. (TOUCHSTONES February 6th)


John I. Cook, Director

Compassion Is . . .

Happy Friday, All!

Once again, it is necessary to T.G.I.F.!

So much going on this weekend, especially Black History Month events and The Super Bowl … as if that is not enough, right?! Through all of the activities and entertainment here Stateside, I often brush away the glitz and the glamour to maintain the core of spirituality.

Yesterday’s news shocked me with a story of a man who had beaten his 4-month baby so badly that the infant remains on life support just to keep it alive. The mother of the infant simply said that she is not ready to let her near new born child go yet. What would make a so-called man do something like that? Why would a woman marry a man with that kind of potential or lack of humanity? I am sure it is still true but humans often want to mate with someone that they don’t really know or with whom they are not really compatible.

As the Republican candidates continue to battle each other with words like Roman gladiators, they also continue to speak so much negativity about the President of the United States of America – Mr. Barack Obama. I recall the words my father often told me to teach us not to gossip: “Boy, if you can’t say something nice about someone else, just keep your mouth shut!” Unfortunately, with freedom of speech, the lack of respect for the President and just about anything or anyone else is at an all time high ….

“Compassion is . . . a spirituality and a way of living and walking through life. It is the way we treat all there is in life – ourselves, our bodies, our imaginations and dreams, our neighbors, our enemies . . . . Compassion is a spirituality as if creation mattered. It is treating all creation as holy and as divine . . . which is what it is.”         – Matthew Fox

Today, I will be compassionate toward each of the details of creation, and practice acceptance both within and outside myself. ( TOUCHSTONES February 3rd)

Have a great weekend!

Peace … and compassion.

John I. Cook, Director

Celebrate Black History Month

Happy Hump Day, All!

Awaking today, though I appreciate each day, was particularly special for me. It is February 1st, 2012 and the first day of Black History Month. On Saturday past while at the motorcycle shop and getting a new rear tire put on the Night Hawk, I had occasion to speak with a couple of the guys there. Somehow, we got to talking about Black History Month. So one guy asked me, “Why do you guys get a whole month? And don’t tell me it’s because the other 11 months are White History Months!” We both chuckled since he was pretty much joking but I sensed some seriousness in his tone. I didn’t have time to teach a course on “Why We Have Black History Month” so I let the laughter handle that moment. Peace be still.

So, last night was another reason I felt good this morning when waking up. A boarding school chum and college comrade and a friend for forty something years was in town doing some research and solidifying relationships with the Native American leadership of the Seminoles. He is the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. His name is Kevin “Billy” Gover. Having been born and raised in Oklahoma on or near a reservation, he found his way, as did I, to St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH where we met. We were all recruited in efforts to integrate the WASPy prep school so that the kids of these wealthy families could get a glimpse of regular people in the real world that many of them would one day soon be leading. It also gave us, a select group of academically astute youth, an opportunity to see a world we may never have been able to see – and receive a quality education.

Kevin went on to Princeton where I also attended as you all well know, and our lives remained connected through fun and frolic … oh yeah … and some courses, too! So last night we met at the Hard Rock Cafe there in the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Resort property in Hollywood, FL, which is very close to where I live and occasionally hang out, too. Dinner was great once we got started, but we spent like a half hour eating a lettuce wrap of chicken and carrots and sprouts and other veggies and mostly talking. It was great to see him and catch up on our adventures in this journey called “life”. We have had some common elements in those experiences, yet some very different ones.

There is a great connection between African slaves in this country and the Native Americans. I learn so much by reading Kevin’s posts on Facebook pertaining to the culture and civilization of these people, The Amerinds, if you will. I am glad our paths crossed again, and, I will remember the embrace we shared just before he entered the elevator at the Hard Rock parking structure to continue on his trip to visit Native American leadership in Mississippi and Louisiana. Peace be with you, my brother.

May we experience and open our hearts, minds and spirits to another Black History Month.


John I. Cook, Director

Taking It All In Stride

Happy Monday, All!

Already we are arriving at the end of the first month of 2012 … one down, and 11 more to go! Kind of silly to think of our years like that. Nowadays, I have a more modified approach to the passing of time and a desire to get as much done and live as much … and be at peace … as much as possible. Such was my weekend … thank God!

When we humans are younger, we wish to be older. Then, when we get older, so to speak, with children and husband or wife or significant other, we try to make life more of a quality experience. Some of us are able to amass great or moderate fortunes while others live on minimum incomes, if any at all, and still there is that third group inbetween the two. In my work, I have noticed a far greater number of people who receive disability insurance and do not and can not work while a good amount of folks are unemployed and living with the assistance of a friend or family members. It is often difficult, we may think, to have a quality life without enough income to meet the bare necessities.

I do think back to, and thank them as well, my parents who left Florida years ago and arrived in New York City to get a fresher start on life circa World War II. Shortly after moving from Harlem to White Plains and procuring work, they decided to raise a family … and I am the last born of that nuclear family. Over the years as I was growing up, time was not something I worried about or even cherished. In fact, there were days and months and years where I took “time” for granted. Family members came into this world while others departed. Soon, I began to worry if I would have enough time to accomplish some goals and complete some projects that I had in my realm. Each day is pretty near precious to me now, and I try to pass that on to friends, especially if they’ve got things that they want to accomplish while maintaining the patience and balance to understand that things come in time … not necessarily OUR expectations of time, but seemingly when the time is right!

As we are given an opportunity to appreciate this new day, may we do so in faith, that we are each on our own individual journey and learn to take it all in stride.

In Everlasting Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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