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Thank You, Dr. King

This weekend, we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you are reading this, you most likely weren’t alive when Dr. King studied and wrote and talked and walked. But, because of what he did with his time on Earth, our country and our world are a better place.

Dr. King was beaten, maligned, and marginalized. He came from poverty. He dealt with different water fountains, back seats on the bus, and discrimination at the lunch counter. Through all of this:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

That’s a challenging, difficult thing. You’ve spent so much of your life being told you are less by word and deed. And, not just you but your family and friends around you as well. It would be so easy to fill your heart with hate. But, from all his study and all his education, this is what he came to believe:

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.”

We are living in a time people seem pretty divided. If you read the headlines, they are full of division. Neither side of the argument is rarely right. The answer is normally somewhere in the middle. But yet these headlines instill contempt or hatred for the other.

As Dr. King says above, hate is not a good answer. We truly are all in this together.

At that time in our nation’s history, there were awful, intentional injustices pointed at humans with more melanin than others. That was the accepted principle of the time. Dr. King and many others took a different path.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

Thank You

His promotion of love, of equality, of nonviolence were not popular at the time. Thank goodness he listened to his conscience and took a stand for that which was right. It continues to be right today. May we all have the courage to follow in his words and example.

Thank you, Dr. King.

Campfire People

Listening to a podcast on artificial intelligence the other day, I was surprised to hear Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, state: “We humans are designed for the campfire, not the online space.”

It stopped me in my tracks. Very few people on earth can say they had more sway, more influence (or profited more) on the online world than Mr. Schmidt.

And yet, here he is claiming we humans are not designed for Facebook or Snap or Tik Tok, etc. Instead, we are made for that small, flickering circle of light around a campfire.

In talking so, Mr. Schmidt takes up the vein of thought shared by Mother Teresa:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten than we belong to one another.

The benefits of the internet are incredible: world-wide communication capabilities, the flow of instantaneous information, among many others. And, there is another edge to that sword. These same tools can prey on our insecurities and drive us further and further apart.

Those Who Know It & Those Who Don’t

Regardless of what we believe, who we love, or how we worship, we are all a great deal more alike than different. And yet, even with all these amazing tools and abilities, it seems we find ourselves part of small groups floating further and further apart.

If Mother Teresa is correct (and I think she is), then the biggest difference between our family members on earth isn’t who is a member of the family and who isn’t but rather those who know it and those who don’t.

Weequahic, at the end of a tumultuous, challenging year, let’s be the people who know it and act accordingly. The same sun shines on us all. The same earth provides us a home. The more we start acting like a loving family, the more grace we extend to each other, the brighter our future will be.

For those celebrating, Merry Christmas. We can’t wait to get everyone back around the campfire soon.

Camp Weequahic Pennsylvania Sleep Away Camp

Mac’s Lessons

It’s been a few weeks since we lost our dog Mac. The outpouring of support has been heartwarming and greatly appreciated. As I said in my earlier post, he was a damn good dog that we are going to miss greatly. And, he left us with a number of important lessons that I wanted to share.

Flawed Can Be Perfect

When Kate asked me 11 years ago if we should go ‘look at a puppy’, my response was no ever goes and just looks at a puppy. “No, this one has already been promised to a breeder out in California,” she responded. So, I relented. We loaded the young Kelly boys into the mini-van and off we went.

Of course, once we got to the breeder, Sumo (as Mac was originally known due to his ample puppy-girth) was now available. He’d been found to have a ‘defective’ internal part. It was not something you (or Mac) would ever notice. It wouldn’t affect his life in anyway. But the breeder in California didn’t want him because he was ‘flawed.’

Well, he certainly turned out perfect for us.   

Be Excited to See… Everyone

Arriving home from trips visiting prospective families, I knew I would get a nice ‘welcome back’ from Kate and the boys. But Mac’s tail-wagging and smiling and barking routine was fantastic.

He didn’t save that just for me. He was excited to greet everyone: our UPS driver when she arrived at the front porch, Assistant Director Sue upon her daily stop by our home office, Kate’s parents when they dropped something off or came for dinner, and the families around the neighborhood.

Everyone got a wag and a sniff from Mac. Sometimes they even got a tooth-baring smile. It didn’t matter if he knew you for years or it was a first time. While some would say that was just Mac wanting some attention, I’d ask this question: ‘But did his greeting make you feel good?’

Of course. It’s always nice when someone is excited to see you.

Discipline = Freedom

When I grew up in Georgia, dogs were allowed to roam the neighborhood. (Fine… insert the crotchety-old-man music here.) My first dog would go off for gallivants without a care. She’d always return, sometimes days later and normally with a new friend in tow.

Today, dogs are much more contained. They are always on leash when out and, if in a yard, sit behind a metal or electric fence of some sort. I can’t help but feel sad for these pack animals who were built to roam. But most don’t have the discipline for such freedom.

At camp, Mac had the run of the place, no leash and no fence required. Why? Because he had demonstrated a lot of discipline during his time with us. He didn’t eat off the table. He didn’t run after cars. If we asked him to sit or stay or get down, he would.

Let’s be clear: this discipline did not come naturally or easily. Kate and I (but mostly Kate) spent a great deal of time training, walking, correcting and caring for Mac.

Over time, he learned that because of the discipline he showed in many little things, he would gain freedom to move about camp as he wished. And, his continued discipline demonstrated around the kids and staff of Weequahic kept that freedom open.

This is the same with us. If we are disciplined with our eating or exercise or money or impulses, we’ll have more freedom to enjoy things both now and in the future. But that discipline, while vitally important, doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of training… and a bit of love.

Lessons from a Dog’s Life

Mac certainly taught us more than just the lessons above. Some lessons he tried to teach never quite took. For instance, we like the video drone more than he did. And, we’d rather not try to get a fish off a hook with our mouths. Both seemed to work well for Mac, though.

The biggest lesson is one of companionship. To Mac, we were part of his pack, his tribe. He didn’t talk, he didn’t put a hand over the shoulder or give advice. His simple presence was enough. And maybe that’s enough for all of us.

Have a great week, everyone!