A couple of rhetorical questions…

Nothing deep today. I just need to ask rhetorically for a couple of questions. There are several things in the proverbial frying pan right now, and I suppose airing it may bring suggestions from others or clarity from myself.

1) The economic mess. My rhetorical question is… what WERE we all thinking?

It’s easy to blame Bush, blame Wall Street, blame anyone that has more than a 100K in the bank. But let’s face it. Everyone in the world was ga-ga over the real estate market when it was booming. Interest rates were at 40 year lows. Home equity was as plentiful as air. And I can’t remember anyone who was really riding through the streets like Paul Revere warning of an economic collaspe based on the greediness of both loaners and debtors.

The fact remains that the Bible warns us about credit in all its forms. There’s not ONE instance that credit is mentioned in a positive light. We as a country are simply reaping the consequences God warned Israel about in Isaiah 24.

BEHOLD, THE LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. 2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. 3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for THE LORD hath spoken this word. (KJV)

Sorry, no one is exempt. If you can’t pay, you shouldn’t buy.

This has provided a great opportunity for me to teach the kids that even banks and governments are subject to the same financial realities that our family faces every day. In a sense, the only salvation of our economy will be the individual family’s ability to survive without relying on the institutions that we have allowed to have too much influence over us. Why should I worry about whether Lehman Brothers or AIG has enough assets to cover their own debts, if I have saved enough to cover my own needs? Yes, I know we rely on investments and the like in this system, but in principle, if we simply live on less than we make and save the rest, no one will find themselves in the turmoil of not being able to have the “mattress” fund available for emergencies. I’m preaching to myself as well – we had a emergency fund but it’s been eaten up several times this year. My loathing of credit was broken down by the lure of quick fixes, of taking my wife with me on trips that I knew I couldn’t afford but didn’t want to be alone on.
But never has the result of my use of credit been positive. If anything can be learned from this mess, it should be that we can’t ignore the pains of the future for the pleasures of today’s purchases. That goes for McCain, Obama, Pelosi, and especially for the Pauls.

2) Fitting in…how do you do it? and should you?

My wife and I have decided we will refer to our social / racial status in cookie terms. Specifically, we are now considering ourselves “ginger snaps.” You remember Ginger Snaps – the orange and white box with the hard cookies that had that ‘bite’ to it. You don’t eat a Ginger Snap when you have a sweet tooth craving. It’s not the coolness of an Oreo, or the comfort of a Nilla wafer. It shakes you up a bit, and doesn’t easily fit into a cookie category.
In the same sense, Miki and I are not your common cookie cutter couple. We are equally at home with John Cage, John Mayer and John Legend. Our radio in the morning is set to “Steve Harvey”, in the evening to “Glenn Beck”. (I would mention Rush Limbaugh but I’m afraid of being castigated by my kids and wife, who don’t like him) We’re Kirk Franklin on Sunday morning and Chris Tomlin on Sunday night. We homeschool from 9 to 3 and then go to open houses at the high school from 7 to 9. We veer from noticing racist tendencies in ‘white’ society to decrying the subtle racism we see in our own African -American culture. At times we have felt the ire of those who noticed we did not automatically take up the “cause” of equal rights – that is, in the way that blacks have traditionally seen that fight since the 1960’s. We choose to see equality as the right to be equally independent, rather to be unequivocally linked to a mass groupthink cultural monolith. Miki, with her racially mixed background of Hispanic and Carribean ancestry, is especially sensitive to the lack of connection with others that ‘get her’. At the same time, we understand that much of what we have become is owed to the strong traditional African American culture that we interface with most often. We just feel like we don’t quite match the smoothness and ease that others may have in our social landscape. So the ‘snappiness’ comes out. We are in the same aisle as the vanilla and the chocolate, but when you dig in, you get much more than a simple flavor. You get the edginess of someone who’s looking for a way in, and a way out. Of those that acknowledge the obvious, but won’t always accept it. Of people that are slowly realizing that to simply blend in is to deny the uniqueness that our experience and our emotion adds to our relationships. Ginger may have a bitter taste at the beginning, but at the end it has a soothing effect. We certainly have needed that balance in dealing with our various challenges, and I suppose we should be grateful we can be ourselves with each other, even while we decide whether our taste is compatible with a very chocolate or vanilla only world.

More later on our homeschool progress – suffice it to say I’m already feeling like I need to put the pedal to the metal, ’cause Marcus and Naomi are braking a little too much.

Looking unto the hills ,



One thought on “A couple of rhetorical questions…

  1. I didn’t want to hijack your blog with a lengthy comment, but just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone. We like to think of our lifestyle as a “redefining” of what it means to be a person of color.

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