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Maurice Carter is President and Founder of Breathe-Water, LLC, where he uses community building, storytelling, consulting, and social media to enable businesses, non-profits, and communities to understand and harness forces for positive change. An Atlanta native living in Covington, GA, Maurice is an active community volunteer, a freelance columnist, and an advocate for causes that build community and promote thoughtful responses to the opportunities and challenges of our day.
Number of posts: 20
Email address: email
By Maurice Carter:
Supporters of President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking admission of Syrian refugees and suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations don’t just argue his right to do so. They consider it his sworn duty. “We need to deal with reality and protect the American people,” wrote a friend on social media. “This is the number one job of the President of the United States.”
But, is it?
reasonable or rational
It’s playing endlessly in my head, and I’ve resisted the urge to share. But, it’s not going away until I do. Why the reluctance? Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking or not wanting to be yet another frantic voice sounding the alarm. I’m a grace under pressure kind of guy. Between trade wars and the war on terror, border walls and Muslim bans, executive orders and Twitter tirades, alternative facts and information blackouts, authoritarian strongman bromances, and infuriating cabinet selections, hurried deregulation and environmental suicide it’s hard not to see this ending badly. Bigly. So…
no news is good news
Wednesday morning, my bicycle and I are leaving town, bound for Florida and a week-long ride across the Sunshine State. Far from intelligent design, the timing is lucky coincidence. But, there couldn’t be a better day to be shut off from the world by travel, nor a finer week to be pedaling the soft shoulder of some dusty Florida backroad.
Unless, of course, all hell really does break loose Tuesday night. What if we ride into a riot? Our Daytona to Clearwater route is eerily close to the infamous I-4 corridor of Bush v. Gore lore.
I’m not prone to posting video of myself talking. But, in this case, what I need to say isn’t something I could type now even if I wanted to. Still the words are ones I’ve been unable to stop repeating for 40 years.
The ability to recite the Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in Middle English has perhaps proven useful in the waning hours of a few cocktail parties over the years. But, it’s never been something to feature on a resume or bring up in a job interview. I’m waiting, but LinkedIn still hasn’t included this as a skill to tag in my profile.
In “We Take Care of Our Own,” New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote last month about conflicting world views of nationalism and globalism. To these, he added the notion of moral particularists and moral universalists, borrowing ideas from an essay by NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published in The American Interest. Paraphrasing, Brooks describes the nationalist/particular world view: “They’ve built moral systems on loyalty and support for their own kin and fellow citizens…
to live as peaceful neighbors
Human nature looks to pivotal moments in history imagining the role we might have played had we lived then. Born in 1959, I can only hope I would muster the courage to drop everything and risk all to fight Fascism in Europe and the Pacific. A boy in the 1960s, I can only wonder if an older me would have bravely joined southern whites to march with black brothers and sisters for civil rights in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and across the southeast.
These things I will never know, for my history was not then. And courage is always easier in the mind than in the flesh. But my moment is now.
keeping us poor
Most of you know the feeling. You could lose a few pounds and you wish your clothes fit better, but you feel pretty good – still young, still vibrant. And then you see a recent photo.
It’s like that. For a native son and life-long southerner (excepting two years in Cleveland, OH), the Distressed Communities Index (DCI) map published Thursday in a report by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) is profoundly troubling.
Dark reds are the most economically distressed communities; dark green are most prosperous. The ranking scale and methodology are explained on the EIG website, where you can also find the full report.
spreading despair not helping.
It’s a sad sentiment voiced loudly and with much distress in these times: what a dangerous world we live in! It’s as true as it always has been.
I don’t remember the exact moment I was sentenced to die. Then again, it was over 56 years ago and I was but a millisecond old at the time. Yet, the instant I welcomed that first gasping breath into my infant lungs, I also accepted my fate. Someday, I would die.
It wasn’t that day – nor has it happened with any of the roughly 20,513 sunrises since. But it will. I surely didn’t know then, but it’s been a fact of my life for a long, long time now that someday it will end.
beneath the american flag
That my first visit to the Lincoln memorial in 48 years would bring tears was unexpected. Yet on a sunny September Sunday in 2012, at the feet of his massive marble likeness, staring solemnly upon the chiseled words of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, salty drops dot my face.
There is poignancy simply in standing where I scampered a lifetime ago as an unknowing four-year-old. But, my tears this day are for something more immediate – at least for me. This moment, the text of our 16th President’s second inaugural speech, and especially his Gettysburg Address fall this day upon a heart still moved by a different visit two days prior.
I recognize some Americans still feel threatened by gay marriage. I don’t understand that fear, but I respect it. I also respectfully suggest if you believe gay marriage is about what happens in the bedroom, you really don’t understand marriage at all.
I’m 55. I don’t remember my age when I first realized I had gay friends in high school. It’s certainly not something anyone was open about at the time. It wasn’t something we talked about.
But, I remember the moment I knew it was wrong to deny two loving, committed people the same respect we give married couples solely because they are the same gender.
With so many people professing concern for saving the souls of others, we have precious few willing to search their own. Facts about the Emanuel AME Church massacre in Charleston are yet unfolding, but political machinations to deny the obvious racial motives speak volumes about our society’s inability to confront this issue.
The alleged actions of a hate-filled young white man accused by police of slaying nine black church goers in Charleston say nothing about me as a white man living in America.
A healthy by-product of opening my mouth to criticize others is being forced to assess the risk of having to eat my own words. I’ve learned the hard way to find my weaknesses before others do it for me. It saves glass walls if I can just hit myself with the rocks inside the house.
Last week, I tweeted disappointment with the Georgia Senate for passing SB 129 which blocks local governments from banning plastic bags.
yin v. yang
It’s a dance I know by heart, this shifting and swaying from the outward world of human entanglements to an inner place of calm reflection. I’m not sure I could stop this movement if I tried, caught between voices calling cause to action and others from far hillsides beckoning me to run away — to fly away and be freed.
All around are people caught in conflict, their caring inching closer daily to anger, with words unheard, meanings misunderstood, and passions unrequited. On issues local, global, and universal, we have shouting like never before.
in sports metaphor
Georgia’s transportation game clock was ticking its final minutes when a 2012 “Hail Mary” pass fell with a thud far from the intended receiver. Uncomfortable with the game on the line, leaders in the General Assembly and the Governor’s Mansion pitched a panicked audible to voters and local governments with the T-SPLOST referendum. Its rejection left leaderless chaos for two-a-half years, during which we’ve seen little reason for hope and backsliding across metropolitan Atlanta.
A situation vexing Newton County citizens for years erupted on metro Atlanta airwaves this week when television station 11 Alive aired stories of an ongoing investigation into payments made to county attorney Tommy Craig. Unanimously reappointed this month by the Board of Commissioners amid a public outcry of opposition, Craig was paid a reported $1.1 million by the county in 2014. He was also the center of much controversy last year when citizens questioned the reported $21.6 million spent to date on a reservoir project championed and managed by Craig…
anything to win
I sympathize with those brushing aside the “Deflategate” scandal swirling around the New England Patriots as much ado over little of consequence. After all, the Patriots absolutely annihilated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game on January 18. It’s hard to conceive any edge Patriots quarterback Tom Brady allegedly gained from playing with deliberately underinflated footballs could be primarily responsible for that butt whipping.
called for good
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”
Whether Edmund Burke or someone before him first said it is a matter of some debate. But, we all recognize the statement. It’s a weighty sentiment for weighty times, one often referenced in the context of the worst atrocities inflicted on mankind. But, there’s another way to think of this: Every act of good, no matter how small, isolated, or even invisible, is a victory for all that is right.
doing your part
These climate deniers are making me crazy! Every day, it’s some new story about some Republican lawmaker making up the most inane justifications for why he or she doesn’t believe the Earth’s climate is changing or why, if it is, then it’s not caused by humans. And these people are in charge!? Lord, help us!
Just this week, something hit my Facebook news feed linking to a Mother Jones story proclaiming 72 Percent of Republican Senators Are Climate Deniers. Now, I’m no scientist… But, that’s just nuts! Someone please stop these people!?
modern day samaritans
The light ahead was red, and no one was close behind, so I slowed to let the man who just darted across two lanes of traffic finish his dangerous dash to the wide concrete median strip on my left. It was a blustery day, with northwest winds biting harshly under the dense, dark clouds of a late fall cold front pouring into Georgia. All of which made this man’s shorts, light windbreaker, ball cap, and open-heeled clogs seem woefully inadequate for the day upon us.
long, long way to go
One thousand and fifty eight words and not a single one was “dream.” That’s how far Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was into his famous 1963 speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before he gave voice to the phrase that would crystallize a movement, personify his too-short time on earth, and cast his legacy that would endure long past the final echoes of an assassin’s gunshot disappeared into the Memphis night.