Friday, May 15, 2015

10 years!!!

WM Class of 2005,
If you are reading this, I just wanted to take a moment to wish each and every one of you all the best and every success in your endeavors. Ten years ago we part ways as we disperse into the world with our newly earned degrees, our dreams and inspirations partially attained, and student loans ready to be paid.
I remember fondly the excitement and nervousness that most of us felt about entering the "real" world that everyone keeps telling us exists beyond those three feet brick walls surrounding our campus. Graduation was surreal. I remember fondly the emotional weeks and nights before commencement. Excited to start life, and sad to leave behind the community that was the Tribe.
I hope in the ten years since life have been treating you well. Wherever you, whatever you are doing, I hope you have found some measure of content, some measure of success, and hopefully lots of great experiences.
I know a huge part of who I am, my own personal success can be attributed to the many individuals whom I have met during my college days. My closest circle of friends, without whom I would not have made it thus far, consist mainly of William and Mary folks.
Without failing, each and every one of you have brought a smile to my face and warm memories revisited. Thank you for that. While I may have lost touch with a majority of you, while I may have buried myself in my own personal pursuit of happiness, I remain forever grateful for the happiness I have stored up because of each of you, from experiences share. You have each been an inspiration to me in that we all sought for excellence in the most supportive way. Thanks for that!
I look forward to hearing from you. For now, my fondest regards to you and yours.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

What is the story?

Primacy effect describes the phenomenon where someone recalls an item presented earlier in a list better than items presented later on. Given this, I think we should do away the religion part of any terrorist act and just report on the fact that it is the act of Extremist. Islamic, Christian, the religion doesn't matter. What a small group of fanatics, fundamentalists, extremists choose to do does not and should not represent the whole of a religion. What is of note is there are people out there who are extreme and choose to interpret things in an autocratic manner. People with little to no imagination, no sense of humor. The story is not about which storybook someone is reading from, the story is about how they got the story wrong.

It does't matter which god they choose to believe because in the end, it is a god they created and therefore not representative of a supreme being that is undefinable, ineffable, and incomprehensible by its very nature. A G-d that believes in us ask for the best of us regardless of which religion, which method of prayer or service we choose to worship and emulate goodness.

Whatever path you choose, as long as you and I agree to share our stories, to enrich our tapestry through promoting humanity, then may we be blessed. There will be a bad fruit in every tree, but we don't chop down a tree so that we may be without shade or to disrupt the ecosystem.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Return to Him

A child can say the most hurtful and awful things to their parents, often with the utmost conviction and in the most embarrassing circumstances possible.  I have seen it occur in the waiting room, examination room, in shopping arcades, or parking lots.  And I have witness firsthand the distraught that it brings to the parents, each word a crushing blow.  I see the wrestle with self doubt, embarrassment, while trying to remain in control.  It is not a pretty sight, and it takes a magnanimous character to refrain from bringing righteous wrath upon the child for visiting such indignation in so public a place.  Perhaps it is the understanding at a fundamental level that a child knows not what he or she is doing, that a child is less evolved and is therefore less culpable. Perhaps it is love, love that supersedes all, that allows for understanding when confronted with such open hostility and anguish from a child.  What makes such confrontation memorable, however, is the reconciliation that eventually arrives.  When the child realizes he or she has behaved poorly, made aware of the hurt dealt, and come to the parents for forgiveness and consolation.  I too have witness that, and what a change it is to go from cringing at the verge of a spectacle wondering what is wrong with humanity, to being overflow with hope for said humanity when a parent embraces the child.

In many ways, I think that is our relationship with G-d.   There is this constant pressure to praise G-d, and to glorify His name, and we should.  "It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth."  Yet, that does not preclude the fact that we as humans are going to be the ultimate entitled brats.  That we will find circumstances in life utterly disagreeable, rightfully or not, and the disappointment that comes when we realize our expectation for G-d to shield us from the hurt can be devastating.  So much so that we lash out at Him, even though at a fundamental level we know we are not supposed to.  

But I think G-d can take that, I think G-d understands that we need to vent, that we are the less evolved of the two, significantly so.  That while we will say the most hurtful things, be most ungrateful, we are ultimately His children and His love abides.  It is perhaps unfathomable how we can fall into pits of despair, or worked up into a frenzy by the littlest of things when His blessings in life are bountiful.  It is hard when life bows us low, and our defiance at the Creator becomes disproportionately great; because let's face it who is an easier target?  The Almighty who is supposed to prevent bad things from happening, or to the bad things that did happen?  So we jeer, we sneer, we cajole, we bargain, we go through stages of grief as we explain our grievances to  Him.  We challenge His authority, we ask Him to act.  Often times we are met with silence, which seemingly gives credence and justify our laments.

But the moment pass, as they always do, and we come back to the light.  He embraces us, even when we have been kicking and screaming.  He loves us, so as I write this, knowing that there are many who are going through rough time and feeling anger at the Almighty, I pray you get to vent, I pray you get to question Him, but most importantly I pray you will return to Him and accept His love for you.  

Let the singular acts of a fanatic be what it is - an act of a singular fanatic

I think it is important to remember amidst all of these terrorist attacks that it is the religious fanatics of a religion that committed them and not the religion itself nor the majority of followers who practice it peacefully, lovingly, and dare I say righteously. Just because the extremists, the fundamentalists and the terrorists act indiscriminately does not mean we can do likewise and sink to their level by labeling everyone as bad. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard, we must take responsibility and use our full faculties for reasoning in deliberating between what is right and what is fundamentally wrong otherwise we are no better.

The truth is there is no one race, gender, religion, or creed that is pure evil; there are, however, just plain ordinary people who little by little, through negligence of their reasoning, relinquish their locus of control to the point that they are basically beings of primal instincts - insecure and constantly giving in to their reptilian brains. Do not become them. Let the singular acts of a fanatic be what it is - an act by a singular fanatic.
Humanity is good, and at it's core perpetuated by hope. Hope that pushes a boy to ask a girl out or vice versa, hope that a child is worth bringing forth to this world, hope that they will be able to grow in an environment that loves them and nurture them, hope that motivates a parent or those involved in childcare to continue living their lives in ennobling endeavors such that their offspring maybe better off, and hope that pays itself forward and to the generations to come.

Hope for the better, faith in the outcome, and love that motivates - these are the very things that make humanity endearing. They are also the very things that threatens the identity of those who are lost and lives in perpetual insecurity. Therefore we must continue to hope, to have faith, and to love incessantly if we truly want to eradicate this world of the hopeless, and the faithless - the very ingredients that constitute fear.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


As I sat there in the sanctuary this evening, I can’t help but be in awe by how far we have come since that humbled birth so many years ago.  Tonight, and for the next twelve days, a significant population of the world will be celebrating Christmas.   Many more have been celebrating already in the weeks prior.  Yet, what we have come to adore, that which we have come to accept as the norm- the many social gatherings, the elaborate festivities, and the exchange of holiday spirit; that all originated from a simple birth.  A birth that was shrouded in uncertainty, and hardship.  A birth that began with a pregnancy which was at that time potentially scandalous, immaculate or not.  A birth that began with a woman’s acceptance of G-d’s burden, and a man willing to honor his word and defend the honor of his fiancé.  A birth that took place in a manger because the world was cruel, and two wearied travelers, despite being in dire straits, was denied charity and regulated to the status of livestock.  Even in the celebration of his miraculous birth, we see the threats of death that are already presented to his person, in the form of the gifts presented by the wise men, and in their avoidance of a jealous king’s ambition to slaughter a potential heir. 

The nativity bespoke of a troubled time, and we seem to forget that.  The holiday season has become a joyous occasion, as it should be.  However we must not forget that it is a product of hardship.  We must not forget that it was to the mean and lowly shepherds sleeping in the fields with their wards that the news of a birth of a king was announced.  We must not forget the meager settings in which said king was born. 

Hope, hope that warms the heart, hope that fans the flames of faith, did not in fact come in glory, but in darkness, and in suffering.  As we sit together this Christmas season, may we remember to embrace that element of our faith.  Tradition dictates that we celebrate, that we put on a happy face, and share the joy with friends and loved ones.  Yet, as we sit together ready to laugh, may it be acceptable as well to share a tear or two for the harshness endured.  Christ did not come to this world as meekly as he did so that we can rave, but he did so that we may look upon our subjectively ineffectual lives and realize that we have the potential to make it better.  As we lament and bewail the dark times that have befall us, may we have the opportunity to realize that we are given the ingredients to a remarkable success story.  While we may feel downtrodden, while we may feel left out, defective at this moment, there is no telling high we may soar someday.  No one wants to hear a success story where everything went right; it is hard to relate to that kind of “perfection”.  Instead, we want to hear a story of hardship overcame and obstacles conquered because there is hope for us to do likewise.  At the core of the nativity narrative is not so much that Christ is born, but Christ came to this world significantly disadvantaged and still made it big. 

And so it is during this holiday season that I implore you to reflect on your lives, to confront the darker elements, and be not ashamed of that which you were unable to accomplish.  I pray you can embrace the rawness of your own narrative, the vulnerability of your humanity as Christ was with his own.  We all have humble beginnings, and as bad as it may seem to you and yours at this moment, I hear all the hallmarks of a success story in the making.  Celebrate, for it is meet and right so to do; more importantly, hope. For what good is a candle in a lit room?  No, Christ came as a beacon in dark times.  If you have the light of faith, share it and rejoice.  If your flame is flickering in the cold, no worries, the dryness of winter is what gives twigs their essence to burn brilliantly.   

Lastly, Merry Christmas wherever you may be;  be it enroute on a long and arduous trek to your own personal Bethlehem, getting rejected by an allegorical inn keeper, sitting in a lowly manger, or basking in the glow of afterbirth, surrounded by the adulation of shepherds, wise men, and angels. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bear witness this Christmas

This holiday season, as you go about in the hurly burly of festivities, do remember to take a moment to slow down and ask about the people around you. While your world may be set ablaze with the lights, the parties, and the spirit of the Yuletide season, many are going through the darkest times of their lives. The winter nights are long, the cold foreboding. Remember to welcome people to the hearth of your fires, to share the glow of your heart. The holiday commercials may dictate for us the norm to laugh and be merry. Yet it is just important, just as needed, if not more so, to share our burdens, to reach out a hand, to cry together, and to remind those who are alone, are in need, in sickness, in sorrow , or in trouble that they are in fact not alone. Christ, born of a humble birth, is the allegorical anticipated hope. May we embody the star that not only lead the wise men to worship him, but to those bowed low in search of salvation. Bear witness, bear witness not only to the good of our year, but bear witness to the struggles of those around you, for they are real and worthwhile. Bear witness to them who fight silently, bear witness to those who put on a straight face that you may have a smile on yours. Sometimes all it takes is a casual hello, a knowing smile, and a simple exchange of words to speak volumes; to say "I see you and I acknowledge you."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lest we forget

May we never forget the sacrifices made,
By young men and maidens like,
Who to far off shores laid down their lives,
That we may keep our homes from terror ' s blight.
Their blood flow upon sandy beaches, and muddy trenches
Their hearts stopped beating on foreign soil
With their blood, sweat, and tear they secure our future
With courage and defiance, with a simple call to service they marched on
Into the worst of times, into the thick of battle
Their screams and agony, the price for our tranquility and serenity
And so we give them thanks, and so we honor them,
Those who gave their youth that we may raise our young in better times
Those who stood tall and proud when the tides urges us to turn and bow low
Those who redeemed our humanity in our darkest hour
Through faith, duty, and loyalty, for G-d and country

We give you thanks, members of the armed forces, at home and abroad, past and present
And to your families, may they know we are ever grateful of their contribution and their suffering,
May they know we will never forget.