The story of a young Tongan-American man killed in a Utah federal courtroom, sparked heavy media attention in the month of April. This buzz was especially rampant in the Polynesian Mormon community, where there is a large population of Pacific Islanders that have established roots, by way of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many Pacific Islanders called this tragic event a gross misuse of force on account of the federal officer that shot Siale Angilau multiple times as he lunged at a witness with a pen, leaving him dead at the scene. Mr. Angilau was a member of the Tongan Crip Gang, which has its origins in Inglewood, California, which also has a large Tongan-American population. When one hears of Utah, we may not necessarily think of Crips and Bloods, but with the constant emigration of Pacific Islanders to "Zion" the issue cannot be ignored.
Many Pacific Islanders move to Utah, Idaho and other Mormon enclaves to find opportunity, and I've heard that some believe that these places are literally where their savior Jesus Christ will return and usher in a new kingdom, here on Earth. Mormon missionaries continue to prosthelytize in the South Pacific, as well as other poor areas in the world in order to spread, what they believe, as the "gospel". Some may ask, "if Mormonism is so wholesome and loving, then what happened to this young man?" Why caused him to join a predominately Tongan gang, which has been responsible for assaults, roberries, and even murders in the greater Salt Lake City area.
I've at times given my opinions on why young men, especially minorities, join gangs. It's obvious that it's for survival, comradery, and ethnic understanding. If anything, this show of social acceptance amongst minority men demonstrates that no culture is above reproach when two social orders clash. What I mean by that is, Tongan culture is very influential and strong in the lives of many Tongan gang members. But when met with the teachings of Mormonism and all the good that it supposedly offers, it still can't keep these young men from "banging" Monday-Saturday and in church serving sacrament on Sunday.
I think some cultures are just more prone to violence than others. Of course certain conditions may ignite this, but Tongan culture, along with other Polynesian cultures pride themselves on being "warriors" and fighters until the end. When coming to the Americas, this mentality is not left in the islands, but brought with them. After the tragic event, a local nurse, Todd Shrum said, "Tongan Trash ... kill them all", in reference to the shooting death of Siale Angilau. This bloviating unfortunately caused Mr. Shrum to lose his job. But his outburst is telling. I think it's safe to say that many white Utah Mormons feel the same way. That perhaps their lily-white "Zion" is being over ran by brown savages that not even the "gospel" can civilize.
Hawaii has become the 15th state in union to legalize same-sex marriage, which has ushered in a new debate concerning equality and tolerance. As I watched the countless hours of testimony, some in support and some in opposition, I couldn't help but notice the stance of many local people, from a religious standpoint, on this issue. Filipino's, Hawaiian's, Samoan's, and other colonized groups seemed to echo the same rhetoric to support their opposition of SB1..."it's not God's will", or "the bible says...." There was much debate on whether Hawaiian's, the host culture in Hawaii, accepted groups that engaged in same-sex practices. If anyone knows a little about Hawaiian culture one would know that Hawaiian's, as well as other Polynesian peoples, practiced homosexuality to some degree. But yet we have the descendants of these people using a foreign religion (Christianity) to "preach" and support intolerance in the name of God. It appears that many local people, which can trace some of their roots to a colonized period in their people's culture, find themselves in a Catch 22. They are loyal and proud of their culture and heritage, but at the same time find themselves using the same belief systems and tactics that subjugated their ancestors, to deny certain groups of what they enjoy and hold sacred.
With the recent event that happened in Connecticut, there has been a resurgence of what we need to do about guns. Of course this has become a very polarizing issue, that will continue to drive a wedge in an already divided country. But this is not what I'm here to discuss, at least not the topic of "gun control". However, I will use this tragedy as the focal point of this post.
I heard a radio show personality ( can't remember who) say that this mass shooting was a result of American schools taking God and prayer out of schools. I thought was an asinine comment, but we live a society where people have the right to say whatever they want regardless of the consequences, under a false sense of what rights actually are and the responsibility in using those very rights. No doubt we have many in this country that have no idea about rights and hide behind the very required protections that allows them to say whatever it is they want, regardless of how silly it is (gotta love America!).
Prayer to me is wishful thinking. I suppose it provides support to those in trying situations that see no possible way out. I had a conversation with my wife this morning about the concept of praying. She said, "it's energy". For a split second I said, "what!" in my head, but she went on to explain that prayer is what you want it to be. She also said that prayer resonates in the collective belief of those that are engaging in it at that time. Now going back to the idea that prayer is "being what you want it to be", I have an issue with. You see, this is not how "prayer" is practiced amongst the religious populace. At least how I see it. People pray for good health, but take no action is eating healthy, exercising, or any of those things that would surely bring good health, except outside of unknown diseases, which could be unexplainable. Many use prayer as a tool for not taking action themselves. I would go so far as to say that it's a self-indulged, "I-will-take-the-moral high ground", false term of endearment to those that chose to take personal accountability for their lives and not pray. I believe there are those that genuinely mean it and I will accept with humility and gladness.
Surely, a god that is responsible for the complex creation of our bodies and the structure and setting of various solar systems could care less about who wins a high school football game, or where I lost my keys (people actually pray about those things). Some may ask, "what's your issue with prayer?.....it promotes a goodness". I think that's a fair question and I will answer. I believe that if one looked at life as an opportunity to challenge ones self; to push our limits, then we can give up the concept of prayer. Many do it because they've been taught to do it all their lives. Recognizing that YOU are in control and you can determine an outcome based off data, past experiences, and the WILL to do something, then you enhance your chances of reaching what ever it is you want. Of course, at times their is the possibility that you will not meet your goals. This doesn't mean it's "god's will" it just means it didn't happen. No mysticism, superstition, or supernatural ideology required. As I stated earlier, somethings just happen for no reason, even that promotion you wanted, or that game your team lost.
I have reasonable expectations in life. I base this off past experiences, information, and other "tangibles" I use to come to an expected outcome. This requires no prayer. Looking at the shooting, (I knew I couldn't stay away from it) most people are telling us to pray for the families. Now this is a kind gesture and I believe that people honestly want to make good light out of this, but praying is too late for this one. Let's say this God had a hand in this (people believe he has an actual hand), why didn't he stop it? "No"....I'm not one of these people that blame calamities on a god and I also don't give a god props for the successes in my life. Bad things just happen for no known reason. They require no "god" induced concept. I hope that the families find a way to deal with this tragic situation. If this requires prayer on their part, so be it. But I hope they also understand that if this god does indeed answer their prayers on a daily basis, but stood idly, while 20 children were gunned down, then they should evaluate their understanding, or even the belief that one even cares or exist.
It's been a while. I have been doing youtube videos instead of blogging, which is the reason I've been on a sabbatical (not really) from this. A lot has changed in my life. All for the good. I believe that I've experienced so many up and downs in my late teens and early 20s that I've devised a way to steer clear of BS and developed a heighten sense of cautiousness when dealing people and situations.
I take great pride in trying new things. I think I've always been like this; the one to try new things. I has gotten me into binds and it has also been rewarding. I was talking to my mother one day and I asked her, "was I independent as a child?"She replied, "yes" "you were pretty independent as a child." I always sort of questioned how did I become so independent minded as an overall individual. Perhaps, it was my military training, I thought, but then again I knew a lot of weak minded people in the military. I still carry this around with me. I mean, I'm not prideful....I will ask for help in a New York minute, but life in general, I believe requires a high level of intestinal fortitude.
I do believe there is a time and place to be somewhat submissive and humble yourself. On the other hand, I believe one should stand stout in times of adversity and face it head on. Again, I've been through so much crap to the point that I've learned that bad news only gets worse with time and your attempt to dodge or pretend that a problem isn't there will only hurt you in the long run. Dodging also demonstrates an individuals immature approach to life. I've been labeled as a pessimist and very cynical. I would agree. I like to call myself a realist, but I welcome those characteristics of my personality as well.
I believe things in life just happen for no apparent reason. I never really believed in the idea "things happen for a reason", and I definitely never believed in the idea that a magical figure in the skies is orchestrating the outcomes in my life. I believe YOU are responsible for all your success and failures. Yes, there are those that provide assistance and there are the occasional "haters" that may thwart your success, but overall it is YOU that should take the credit for your success and failures. I happen to believe that this will allow you to be more accountable and observant in how approach life's curve balls. No devil to blame and no heavenly figure to blame as well...ONLY YOU.
My experience with religion is one of an interesting kind. Growing up, our attendance with church was somewhat sporadic and when we did go it was mostly on special ocassions..; baptism, Easter, or something like that. Come to think of it religion wasn't a focal point of our everyday lives. We just kind of lived. We had our ups and downs within the family, but looking back I don't see how religion could of helped or hindered those mishaps. I look at religion as an institution that is "just there", kind of like a chair that sits in the room with other pieces of furniture. You can sit in it, or choose to go lower your posterior somewhere else. By no means is it a requirement to "sit in the chair of religion", but its there if you need it.
I joined the LDS church in February 2006. It was a time in my life where I sought out change. I had been an avid drinker and smoker, due to my own choosing. Even as I began to engage in those leisurely activities, I always knew that there had to be something more to life than this. Aside from wanting to change for spiritual reasons, I knew that I could not possibly continue a life like this, or I would be dead by 40. My wife and her family are of the Mormon faith and I began to explore it (not like I should of). I had two missionaries come by to teach lessons on their basic doctrines and beliefs. I have had so many influential people in my life that it has given me alternative views on life. My grandfather had always told me that you don't need to go to church in order to be "close to God." So I had always grown up believing that. As I expressed this to these two missionaries, my father-law-in explained that, while it is true that you don't need to go to church to be with God, you should surround yourself with liked-minded people to stay strong in belief.
Looking back I do see some wisdom in that, but that depends on the will power of the individual. Some people need to be around others to make them strong. They in essences become "dependent" on others for spiritual strength among other things. This brings me to one of the drawbacks about religion. It makes one dependent on certain rituals and customs in order to be "in" with the status quo in that particular faith.
In hindsight, what appealed to me in Mormonism was that it was something different. It played into my psyche of doing something different from what I explained earlier about the drinking and smoking. The doctrines went over my head and I attest this to by upbringing of being "religiously ignorant" of the basics of Christianity, never mind Mormon doctrine. Religion is a form of discipline that can help people live whatever life they choose to live. Some same its for a better life, but I would ask, "what's a better life?"
Yes, folks I am back. I know it has been a while. I suppose I'm beginning to understand the importance of being heard and connecting with others to share ideas. I intend to remain consistent in this hobby of mine. It has been a great year so far. We have a Black president, I've graduated from college, and I have began taking graduate college courses to name a few things. However, I have issues with the state of "Black" America', most notably the portrayal of my brothas in the media.
Why is that the media has began to hop on the band-wagon of "fatherless" young black boys and girls? It has become something to justify the actions of these kids. I'm all about recognizing the importance of "never forgetting", but damn!! Can we act more like victims. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin had fathers....and we know what they contributed to the fascinating world of history. This notion that if there is a father in the home, the child will be less-inclined to committ the evils of the world is ridiculous.
I remember the days of Donnie Simpson (A.K.A. Mister greeneyes) on Video Soul (bet you ain't heard that in a while). I often think about the contrasts between the BET of old, and the BET of new. I find it somewhat embarassing to have shows that degrade not only black women, but black men as well. When I look at the world, I look at it from a multi-cultural perspective, which is based on my experiences with various individuals of different faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The show "The Boot" comes to mind. While it is entertaining to say the least, it has the sentiments of black exploitation written all over it. Just this evening an episode was on and the young "black" female was down to two final contestants. While she was explaining her likes and dislikes of both gentlemen ( two "black" men), she finally chose the one who peaked her interests. When the unlucky gentleman got the boot, he proceeding by throwing a drink in her face. I felt so shame for the female, as well a shameful feeling for the guy. Now, people of other races see this. If I feel shame and embarassment for the two individuals, then what do think others are thinking.
I believe its safe to say BET is pimping black folks with meaningless bull**** to keep us unfocused on real issues. Do these shows really promote family values, meaningful relationships, which are things lacking in our communities, I say, "yes". Maybe it's just me. Am I being to old-fashioned, or am I merely stating the obvious? Have our feelings and hearts become so cold that we would rather see a sistah half naked, and seeing someone throw a drink in her face because she didn't choose him for a date.
We must be forward thinking. I don't write for the fun it; although I love to write, but I write material to change minds; to revolutionize our minds in to getting back on track. We have along way to go, but I'm optimistic about our ability to progress.