REFLECT, REFOCUS AND REDEDICATE


Volume 3 – Issue 1,

Starting the New Year Right

For many people, January is a time to pursue resolutions they have set for the new year.

I prefer to think of it as a time to refresh, rejuvenate, reflect, refocus, and rededicate ourselves to using our time well.

To refresh, I think it’s only appropriate that we start the new year with the first day off. If we were respectful of the opportunity before us, we should have worked hard through the conclusion of the prior year and so a day off allows us to refresh ourselves and consider the year ahead.

Through proper diet, exercise, and yes, even some time to play, we can give ourselves a chance to rejuvenate ourselves and bring a fresh energy to the New Year’s challenges.

It’s also a great time to reflect on what we did well the year before and refocus our energies on our goals going forward. It is one thing to have everybody paddling together; it is quite another to make sure we are focused on our goal.

Our time is unfortunately a diminishing asset. If we treat it with respect though, we’ll have nothing to regret when this year also comes to a close.

Happy New Year!

Sincerely, 
Charles A. Archer 
Author

A BOOK TOUR UPDATE, CONSENSUS BUILDING, AND THE WISDOM OF BOB MARLEY


Dear Friends,

 
What a thrill it has been to receive so much support for my latest work, Everybody Paddles: A CEO Strategic Guide to Building Company Consensus. 
 
St. Kitts and Barbados were the first stops on my press tour and, as a native of Barbados, I can’t tell you how much it meant to have so many friends, new and old, showing their support.   
 
Thank you to all who were able to attend. Your confidence, encouragement and support meant the world to me.  To those of you who were unable to attend, I know that you were with us in spirit. With your continued support, together we can emphasize and promote the values, culture, and ethics that go along with the Everybody Paddles Movement.
 
Because of your unwavering support, my friends in the Caribbean–particularly those in Barbados and St. Kitts–are this month’s “Paddlers of the Month.” Being a “Paddler” means embodying the principals of building partnerships, associations, collaborations and teamwork. Through your camaraderie, encouragement and support, you all truly exemplify what it means to be a “Paddler.” 
 
This is such an exciting and important time in my life and I hope that you will continue to be a part of it. Together, we can make a call to action to our friends, neighbors and colleagues, to join the Everybody Paddles Movement. So many people claim to have a vision for a better self and better community yet all we hear is language of division. Together, we can change the discussion and pledge to make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others.           
         
Sincerely,  
Charles A. Archer
Author and Founder  

CONSENSUS BUILDING AND MAINTENANCE

Everybody Paddles: A CEO Strategic Guide to Building Company Consensus is a book about team building and leadership. I have spent some time working on how to express these concepts in a clear, concise way and the solution is the following six principles:

Principle One – We need Unity under One Umbrella

Principle Two – A Quality Leader has Self Knowledge, but Also Understands the Role of Others Have in Success.

Principle Three – Effective Communication is a key ingredient to a Leader’s Success.

Principle Four – Problem Solving: There is Only the Solution

Principle Five – Everybody requires Special Attention

Principle Six – Purpose: The Power of Belief

To promote this reality, I outline strategies that have been proven to modify attitude, capabilities and efforts acknowledging that everybody within a company must actively participate in the advancement of a company’s structure and deliverables.

By the time you finished reading the book, you will have a blueprint for building and maintaining consensus.

PEOPLE GET READY: THE WISDOM OF BOB MARLEY

Sometimes I find it helpful when I’m trying to understand the rhythm of the world to just listen to my favorite songs. It seems that the rhythm of the world is trying to reconcile many disparate sounds into something more harmonious, but it isn’t happening easily.  So we try to find that rhythm through our religious hymns, songs and chants.

Presently, in that tinderbox we call the Middle East, the tension between Muslims and Jews continues at a fever pitch. There is a pitch so inharmonious that being off key, like an out-of-tuned organ or unfocused musical director, would go unnoticed in the world congregation.
The people of Egypt struggle right now to draw a line between religion and government. Whether the will of the people or that of the government are in question is not up for debate. A new Pope from Argentina sets out to reconcile the role of the Catholic Church in a secular world, leading by example in simple acts of kindness, forgiveness, and compassionate love, while many watch to see if he will find a greater place of inclusion for women in his Church and how he will include people regardless of sexual orientation.
Here in America, even after the Supreme Court addressed issues of civil rights and marriage equality, so much is still said to divide us in the name of religion. In 37 states, marriage equality is still only a dream and not a matter of right. People continue to discriminate against others in the name of religion.

For too long, people have engaged in conflict, and even wars, in the name of religion. I find myself thinking back to a favorite rhythm. Years ago in his song “One Love”, Bob Marley sang “There is one question I’d really love to ask. Is there a place for the hopeless sinner, who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?” Despite our many and varied beliefs, he reminded us there is just “One Love.” This statement remains appropriate and very relevant to societal/world issues.
Marley urges us “Let’s get together and feel all right”. I think it is only by getting together that we will be able to feel all right; unify and change cultures; and create a better world for all.

Everybody Paddles seeks to mediate and ignite a dialogue as it pertains to religion. Religion embodies emotions which can sometimes take destructive forms and even lead to conflicts as extreme as war. When this happens, we must look to common elements of religion which include love and forgiveness. For lack of a better word, this can be started with tolerance. By seeking to understand and really listening and responding with openness and respect, all religious sects can work in ways that acknowledge genuine differences, but build on shared hopes and values such as family, education and the end of violence.  

The time is now for leaders of different religions to come together and take an active role in starting an interfaith dialogue about global peace, civil rights, economic opportunity, the end of poverty, and making terrorism a thing of the past. These talks shouldn’t take place in the shadows. It is time to shine a light on the importance of unthreatening dialogue. We should publicize and utilize social media so the whole world knows that different religions are working together. After all, we are all in the same boat, and either we all work together towards common goals, or continue to float aimlessly in a sea of discord. If that common goal is to obey scriptures, live right and be ready then our collective efforts have to lean towards partnership, association, collaboration and togetherness.  consider the approach of Bob Marley and “Let’s get together and feel alright.”

THE REPUBLICAN WAY OR THE HIGHWAY


Volume 2 – Issue 10

The United States government was shut down for over two weeks straight with no signs of a Republican-Democrat resolution in sight. As republican politicians continued to disagree with The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the government also drew nearer to maxing out its $16.699 trillion credit limit. To reinstate the government, and keep the United States from defaulting on its credit, our divided political system must finally decided to work together; and decided to paddle forward as one unified system to avoid further economic calamity.

Why this happened?
Interestingly enough it’s President Obama’s healthcare reform which seeks to provide for everyone that has the house divided. Obamacare is not directly tied to the debt limit, but it is being used as a tool for bargaining. Some republicans believe Obamacare to be so appalling that it is worth a government shutdown to undercut it. So far, the republicans of the house have submitted two spending bill amendments to Obamacare despite knowing that any and all changes to Obamacare would not pass. During a recent press conference President Obama expressed his dissatisfaction with house republicans, “To all the American people: I apologize. You have to go through this stuff every three months. Lord knows I’m tired of it. But at some point we have got to break these habits … In negotiations, there’s give and there’s take. You do not hold people hostage or engage in ransom to get 100 percent of your way.”

As the government shutdown affected all federal employees in a big way. Military death benefits were halted, but were soon reinstated after a strong public outcry; meanwhile about 800,000 “non-essential” employees have been furloughed until such time as the government is reinstated. Republicans have halted the lives of so many of the American people because of their unwillingness to accept Obamacare.

What does Obamacare do?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires all Americans to have health insurance. The marketplace for the public to join with a medical insurer opened on October 1st, 2013, and no individual can be denied coverage nor will the cost of coverage be influenced by pre-existing conditions(although smokers will pay more).

Republicans that oppose the bill believe this to be an overreach by the government, and that it will also hurt employers.

Who was to blame?
President Obama and democrats of the house will not vote in support of any amendments to Obamacare. Republicans of the house are fighting to limit spending that will support the healthcare reform. Republican motives are overwhelming political, and it appears as though they are putting their own agendas before what benefits the American people.

In a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press 52% of pollsters believe Obama is not doing enough to cooperate with Republicans; 63% say it is Republicans that are uncooperative. Unfortunately, public opinion has done nothing to sway these politicians towards a resolution.

Resolution:
President Obama focused his entire campaign on change. By implementing positive change to our existing democracy we can become stronger as a people. A people that analyze new trends, support cultural change and amend pre-existing notions to better the American people. Of course all of this sounds good, but if it is not implemented we remain stagnant and behind in the times.

Some political analysts attribute this government shutdown to either the GOP or Obamacare, but fail to bring up the role of career politicians in our government’s inability to adapt to change. On October 11th 2013, the senior Republican in Congress, C.W. Young announced his retirement from the House at the age of 82 years old. His seasoned career embodies all that is wrong with Congress. Career politicians need to be challenged, and the Obamacare reform is just another example of their rigidity.

The founding fathers designed a political system for citizen politicians to serve for a fair amount of time, and then be replaced with someone well-informed, but also aware of the needs of the people at that current time. Congress is filled with men well into their senior years unwilling to make necessary changes; unwilling to work with our president and house democrats to see that people are able to afford proper healthcare.

A temporary solution to the long term problem would be for the government to be reinstated just to adjust the debt ceiling. This will solve the immediate problem, but leave the long term issues unanswered. Affordable healthcare is not a radical thought, but a realistic one, yet the president isn’t given the cross party support that is due. Instead, our government remains shutdown by uninspired politicians seeking to keep our society in the past. There truly is no one person that is at fault because when one of us decides not to paddle forward, everyone is at risk.

NEW EDITION – EVERYBODY PADDLES: A CEO STRATEGIC GUIDE TO BUILDING COMPANY CONSENSUS
This November, Everybody Paddles: A CEO Strategic Guide to Building Company Consensus will be released. Drawing on his extensive background as a lawyer and head of a large New York social service agency, management guru Charles A. Archer has created the blueprint for building office teamwork and camaraderie. Each step is spelled out in this comprehensive explanation of his program, Everybody Paddles, which has evolved into the management model used by organizations and companies in the US and abroad. Learn about:
 
Process Dynamics of E.P. Principles
The principles provide an outline for building company consensus and developing effective behavioral dynamics. In addition, principles will teach problem-solving from interpersonal issues and sidestep non-productive dysfunctional patterns.
 
Foundation Builders for P.A.C.T
Paddlers need facilitation skills in addition to motivational talents. The past shows that the future is not predictable. One true revelation is that success is achieved with greater integration. Partnership-Associations-Collaborations-Teamwork are the foundation business strategies that are relevant to the times and strive towards increasing values, services, experience, engagement and feedback.
 
Measure Impact
With the right metrics in place, teams will translate operational outcomes into business solutions. This team transformation can demonstrate strategic alignment, accelerate change and measure the impact.

THE GREAT LIBERATOR: NELSON MANDELA


Barack Obama South Africa Speech, December 10, 2013

“…It is hard to eulogize any man – to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person – their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.

Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by the elders of his Thembu tribe, Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement – a movement that at its start had little prospect for success. Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would – like Abraham Lincoln – hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. And like America’s Founding Fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations – a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power after only one term.

Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, the adoration that he so rightly earned, it’s tempting I think to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, Madiba insisted on sharing with us his doubts and his fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I am not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
 
It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection – because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried – that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood – a son and a husband, a father and a friend. And that’s why we learned so much from him, and that’s why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith. He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.
 
Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. And we know he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people,” he said.
 
But like other early giants of the ANC – the Sisulus and Tambos – Madiba disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand up for their God-given dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and [with] equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
 
Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his.
 
Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of unconditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.”
 
But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy, true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.
 
And finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa – Ubuntu – (applause) – a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.
 
We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small – introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS – that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.
 
It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well – (applause) – to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth. He changed laws, but he also changed hearts.
 
For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe, Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President.
 
We know that, like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took sacrifice – the sacrifice of countless people, known and unknown, to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are beneficiaries of that struggle. (Applause.) But in America, and in South Africa, and in countries all around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not yet done.
 
The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today.
 
And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. (Applause.) And there are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.
 
The questions we face today – how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war – these things do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child born in World War I. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows that is true. South Africa shows we can change, that we can choose a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.
 
We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world – you, too, can make his life’s work your own. Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. (Applause.) He speaks to what’s best inside us.
 
After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
 
What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.”
 
- Barack Obama
 
For picking up The Oars of Justice, Equality and Freedom, we salute the People of South Africa as The Paddlers of December – a befitting year end tribute.

Sincerely,
Charles A. Archer
Author

Keep BUILDING


One WTC is a shining beacon of our commitment to betterment.

This September marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Our social media streams were flooded with visual tributes to the lives that were lost, and memories of the time and place we were in when news of the attacks reached the media. In New York City, the hustle and bustle didn’t subside, but a feeling of melancholy hung in the air as the ceremony was held in memorial plaza.

The World Trade Center was a symbol of status and wealth. The building itself was the workplace for some of the worlds most influential and economically stimulating companies. The attacks on the structure of the buildings, was essentially an attack on the financial infrastructure of our great nation. On that day, those terrorist had one goal; to break the American people physically, emotionally and mentally. Unfortunately for them, they did not count on our ability to rebuild. One World Trade Center is the newest addition to the New York City skyline. As the tallest building in America, One WTC is a shining beacon of our commitment to betterment.

Rebuilding a structure and the morale of our country first began with the foundation. A stable ground will not give way, which is why we were able to use those roots to reinvent what we had lost. From the investors, to the designers, to the construction worker that laid the last bit of steel; rebuilding is a process that requires a unified effort. The Everybody Paddles movement insists that everyone must work together to obtain a goal; at the same time, in the same direction, maintaining the courage to continue. Rebuilding is a constant effort; an unrelenting persistence that occurs each and every day.

Some believe that if something is not broken, it should not be mended, but that isn’t always the case. Once we allow ourselves to become complacent, we lose the most spirited part of ourselves. It was once said that, “it is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary,” and that is because growth and forward movement is an activity that must occur at all times.

When we dream, our subconscious takes over and some of our deepest thoughts and emotions are brought to the surface. Some believe dreams to be completely fantasy, but in actuality they hold our truest desires. The courage to continue, to rebuild, can begin with a dream. The most innovative men and women of our time built their legacies on the basis of a dream. The obvious message would be to keep dreaming, but a dream is nothing without action; instead put forth the effort and keep building.

KEEP BUILDING


Volume 2 – Issue 9

This September marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Our social media streams were flooded with visual tributes to the lives that were lost, and memories of the time and place we were in when news of the attacks reached the media. In New York City, the hustle and bustle didn’t subside, but a feeling of melancholy hung in the air as the ceremony was held in memorial plaza.

The World Trade Center was a symbol of status and wealth. The building itself was the workplace for some of the worlds most influential and economically stimulating companies. The attacks on the structure of the buildings, was essentially an attack on the financial infrastructure of our great nation. On that day, those terrorist had one goal; to break the American people physically, emotionally and mentally. Unfortunately for them, they did not count on our ability to rebuild. One World Trade Center is the newest addition to the New York City skyline. As the tallest building in America, One WTC is a shining beacon of our commitment to betterment.

Rebuilding a structure and the morale of our country first began with the foundation. A stable ground will not give way, which is why we were able to use those roots to reinvent what we had lost. From the investors, to the designers, to the construction worker that laid the last bit of steel; rebuilding is a process that requires a unified effort. The Everybody Paddles movement insists that everyone must work together to obtain a goal; at the same time, in the same direction, maintaining the courage to continue. Rebuilding is a constant effort; an unrelenting persistence that occurs each and every day.

Some believe that if something is not broken, it should not be mended, but that isn’t always the case. Once we allow ourselves to become complacent, we lose the most spirited part of ourselves. It was once said that, “it is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary,” and that is because growth and forward movement is an activity that must occur at all times.

When we dream, our subconscious takes over and some of our deepest thoughts and emotions are brought to the surface. Some believe dreams to be completely fantasy, but in actuality they hold our truest desires. The courage to continue, to rebuild, can begin with a dream. The most innovative men and women of our time built their legacies on the basis of a dream. The obvious message would be to keep dreaming, but a dream is nothing without action; instead put forth the effort and keep building.

A SEASON OF JOYFUL CHANGE!


Summer of 2013 comes to an end.

Remember when those first back-to-school commercials would roll in? They always started somewhere around the middle of August, but as time went on it seemed like they were coming earlier and earlier. While watching your favorite television show, a department store advertisement would slip in, promising to have the lowest prices and the best clothes. Your eyes widened and you quickly changed the channel unwilling to believe that this time had already come. You didn’t dare go shopping with your mom, in fear of walking past that infamous school supply aisle. Avoiding those hints at the end of summer was easy for a little while, till the sun started to set earlier, and the night air got a bit cooler.

As the summer of 2013 comes to an end, there are also so many new beginnings. The struggling student has a chance to start fresh; the stay at home mom gets some alone time and a teacher gets yet another opportunity to positively impact a child’s life. The end of one period gives us all the opportunity to achieve a goal or start anew. A new season can be the spark that inspires a change in all of us.

Autumn has always been perceived as a season of balance and new beginnings. Autumn is the only time of year in which day and night are of nearly equal length; bringing a sort of balance to the world around us.

Balance plays an important role in the Everybody Paddles mission, just as it does in life. The changing seasons remind us that getting back to work is necessary for us to also enjoy those long awaited summer vacations. As we all prepare to put away our beach attire, and bring out our jackets, we’re reminded that changing seasons are an integral part of our lives.

Entering this new season, which ushers in the holiday months and the end of the year, is a great time to reflect on our personal goals. We are always constantly striving towards something, be it big or small. Have you accomplished that goal you set before summer? Did you manage to avoid procrastinating about that project you had to complete? We aren’t always steadfast towards plans that we make to better ourselves. Use this changing season to actively work towards your goals, and allow the falling leaves to be a metaphor for you, leaving anything that may have negatively affected you behind.  
 
Welcome autumn with open arms, joyfully entering this new season and most of all a new starting point towards your dreams.

Sincerely,
Charles A. Archer

People Get Ready The Wisdom of Bob Marley


The Wisdom of Bob Marley

Sometimes I find it helpful when I’m trying to understand the rhythm of the world to just listen to my favorite songs. It seems that the rhythm of the world is trying to reconcile many disparate sounds into something more harmonious, but it isn’t happening easily.  So we try to find that rhythm through our religious hymns, songs and chants.

Presently, in that tinderbox we call the Middle East, the tension between Muslims and Jews continues at a fever pitch. There is a pitch so inharmonious that being off key, like an out-of-tuned organ or unfocused musical director, would go unnoticed in the world congregation.

The people of Egypt struggle right now to draw a line between religion and government. Whether the will of the people or that of the government are in question is not up for debate. A new Pope from Argentina sets out to reconcile the role of the Catholic Church in a secular world, leading by example in simple acts of kindness, forgiveness, and compassionate love, while many watch to see if he will find a greater place of inclusion for women in his Church and how he will include people regardless of sexual orientation.

Here in America, even after the Supreme Court addressed issues of civil rights and marriage equality, so much is still said to divide us in the name of religion. In 37 states, marriage equality is still only a dream and not a matter of right. People continue to discriminate against others in the name of religion.

For too long, people have engaged in conflict, and even wars, in the name of religion. I find myself thinking back to a favorite rhythm. Years ago in his song “One Love”, Bob Marley sang “There is one question I’d really love to ask. Is there a place for the hopeless sinner, who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?” Despite our many and varied beliefs, he reminded us there is just “One Love.” This statement remains appropriate and very relevant to societal/world issues.

Marley urges us “Let’s get together and feel all right”. I think it is only by getting together that we will be able to feel all right; unify and change cultures; and create a better world for all.

 

Everybody Paddles seeks to mediate and ignite a dialogue as it pertains to religion. Religion embodies emotions which can sometimes take destructive forms and even lead to conflicts as extreme as war. When this happens, we must look to common elements of religion which include love and forgiveness. For lack of a better word, this can be started with tolerance. By seeking to understand and really listening and responding with openness and respect, all religious sects can work in ways that acknowledge genuine differences, but build on shared hopes and values such as family, education and the end of violence.

The time is now for leaders of different religions to come together and take an active role in starting an interfaith dialogue about global peace, civil rights, economic opportunity, the end of poverty, and making terrorism a thing of the past. These talks shouldn’t take place in the shadows. It is time to shine a light on the importance of unthreatening dialogue. We should publicize and utilize social media so the whole world knows that different religions are working together. After all, we are all in the same boat, and either we all work together towards common goals, or continue to float aimlessly in a sea of discord. If that common goal is to obey scriptures, live right and be ready then our collective efforts have to lean towards partnership, association, collaboration and togetherness.  consider the approach of Bob Marley and “Let’s get together and feel alright.”

R.I.P. Trayvon Martin


Trayvon Martin Hoodie.jpg

Practicing self-love

“Not guilty” was the metaphoric shot heard round the world this past week putting an end to the month long procedures following the death of a 17 year old boy from Florida. The accused man, George Zimmerman, fatally shot Trayvon Martin while he walked home from the store; after he suspected the young man of suspicious activity.

Zimmerman was protected by Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which states that citizens are allowed to “prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” The law permits the use of deadly force if a person feels they will be harmed or seriously injured. Although Martin was unarmed and only minutes from his home, the jury did not feel Zimmerman’s actions were unwarranted, and the prosecution failed to prove otherwise.

Following the acquittal, law enforcement was put on guard for rioting civilians in an uproar over the verdict. Despite the heavy emotions that spawn from this tragedy, violence and unrest will not insight justice. Instead we must have a willingness to learn from what has transpired over the course of this trial. It has become evident that the death of this unarmed young man could not stand up in court, but it should inspire change. 

Some media outlets have brought attention to the racial divide surrounding this trial. Martin a young black man was shot by Zimmerman, a 28 year old mixed race Hispanic, after Zimmerman profiled him as a threat to his community. Although race wasn’t brought up as a part of the trial, many believe it played a huge role in Zimmerman’s actions. As much as this might be true, it is quite stunning to see how little black-on-black violence stirs pro-activity within the black community. 

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 50% of murder victims in America are black, and 93% of blacks are killed by other blacks. These statistics are astounding, but how can this be remedied? By realizing that we are equals in the unified fight against injustice and this cause transcends race and religion. Although the community effort solution may sound overused it is integral in the resolution to black-on-black violence.  As the black community unifies in Martin’s death, we must also unify to cease violence against one another. To those on the side of the defense, it seems as though Martin’s death is only alarming because Zimmerman is of mixed race. Standing for non-violence no matter color or creed is the only way to truly achieve justice, which means that justice starts with each and every one of us. Harming each other does nothing to strengthen the argument that a black life has worth in this country. The community must set an example by practicing self-love, unity and most of all tolerance.
 
R.I.P Trayvon Martin

Sincerely,
Charles A. Archer

Is Everybody Paddling in Your Relationship?


The desired outcome.

“In white water rafting, there is a raft filled with people with paddles in hand journeying together from one end of a body of water to another. This journey will take this group of people from calm, safe, and comfortable water through rough, unpredictable and conflicting waters toward the desired outcome.”

This metaphor for life is one of the main themes supporting the “Everybody Paddles” mission. A mission based on the founding principles of forging a stronger community through cooperation, and mutual understanding of one’s differences; but how does this mission for our societies and communities translate to love and relationships? In times of strife within a relationship how can these ideals encourage a more positive outlook?

According to the United States Census Bureau, the divorce rate of first time marriages is 41%, second marriages 60% and third marriages 73%. These statistics are a bit shocking, but it is not surprising that the number one reason for divorce is financial hardship. The current state of our economy is unforgiving, but it is in these times that we should band together. Consider the days of popular television shows such as “I love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners”, that 1950s era of television was a reflection of how our society viewed marriage and relationships; reinforcing the idea of marriage as a lifelong commitment. Despite the stress these characters created for one another, their marriage was secure because they were paddling towards the same goals.

It’s quite obvious that since that generation things have changed, but it is not that finances weren’t a concern; it’s that ending a long-term partnership because of a short-term hardship does not make sense. In relation to the “Everybody Paddles” mission, the unpredictable white water represents life, while love is the raft, as long as everyone in the raft remembers the desired outcome, despite the hardships the water may bring, those hardships can be overcome.

Instead of allowing these rates and statistics to rise and further deter us from forging loving and positive relationships; let us work together and paddle in the same direction towards ahappy future. Remember, the “paddle” is only an extension of the effort that you put in.