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Great Presidents, World Leaders and Sweet Tea

         Story and Photograph by Dan Abernathy


Taking a long drink of Sweet tea, and feeling its coolness rejuvenate my speech, I noticed their eyes were focused and direct. I went on.

“Blood money has a new venue and it’s called amusement. We can no longer escape the violence, as it has become a form of our entertainment. From violent bloodstained movies and bare-knuckle cage fighting with the MMA, to real violence on the street. Immoral acts that are replayed over and over in living color and thousands of news channels around the globe. We are completely consumed by violence, but when it happens in real time, we play dumbfounded and shocked. Our answer is falling short of real outcome as we honor the dead with candles and wait for it to happen again. We don’t seem to be doing anything about it.”


“What we have to do is educate people,” I continued. “Show them the way of love and compassion over hate and violence. We need to follow the words of the great President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, written the night before he died, “More than just an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars.”

I started to speak of the loss of accountability for our actions leaving way for violence and hate to be the norm, while knowing they are not, when Dr. Martin Luther King, spoke up.


“Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert,” his voice rang in a tone that captivated everyone. “Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion, “ Nelson Mandela said as he joined the conversation. “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”


“As a whole we have lost our compassion and value for life,” I added to the conversation. “Unless it is blood relatives, and even then, it is sometimes lost. Like so many things we have learned to adapt and if we do not personally feel the pain, well…. It seems to really not be that big of a deal; as we cannot feel the pain of others. Their pain and suffering does not grasp your heart so hard that you lose your breath.”


“What we need is true peace,” I continued. “ But I wonder now at this point can it be attained with all that has and is happening,”


“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there,” the Dalai Lama XIV added. “Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”


“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence,” Dr. King interjected. “Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”


“What kind of peace do we seek?” John F. Kennedy asked. “Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children . . . not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.’’


“I believe in the 2nd Amendment,” I said slightly diverting the conversation. “But I do not believe that we need assault rifles, and under no condition should they be so assessable to obtain. When the 2nd Amendment was written and included into the Bill of Rights, guns were one shot muzzleloaders which took a piece of flint to ignite a spark to make them discharge. Plus, they didn’t work very well in the rain. Now we have an M16 that will fire under any condition, and the aftermarket add-ons of 100 round clips and bump stocks, making them a toy for Rambo or the mentally challenged that decided to get back at the Algebra teacher and the math class that laughed. And, above all, because of our legal system that makes no since and lawyers that have lost the way with the over use of, ‘you have rights,’ no matter what hideous crime you may have perpetrated we, as a whole, have lost accountability for our actions.”


“We have to deal with so much hate, filtered throughout all of man because it seems to be easier to hate and follow those that do, and be influenced into using bigotry ideas of race that completely destroys freedom,” I continued my rant. “I am a free person, I do not have much, but my most valued possession is my freedom. I have also agreed that this freedom only thrives in a environment of peace. It can be damaged and attacked with the lose of peace from self, from your friends, family and country.”


“Peace is as said, “We seek peace,” Dwight D. Eisenhower interjected. “knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.”


“I will walk until I can no longer walk, though the many adverse barricades that are against true Peace, I pledged. I will walk forward leaving in my wake nothing but Love, Peace and the Essential Way. I will promote peace as I stand alone, or in the unified group of beings that have also had enough and see peace, love, compassion and forgives as the only way.


“There will be no change to a town, a state, a continent or the world, until first there is a change in self,” I told these amazing true leaders that we so desperately need today. “Alone you might not be able to change the world, but you alone do not have to be part of the world’s problem.”


 “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped,” John F. Kennedy spoke while looking at us all. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”


“To all of you I say, I am but one and my thoughts are pure and hold no malice. I will be this advocate today and tomorrow, of this I am sure.” I ended.

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures,” John F. Kennedy said as he sat his empty tea glass down and watched the sun settled behind the moss covered trees to the West.

So I had a dream.




I had a dream, of an amazing opportunity and was invited to join some great Presidents and World Leaders as they sat visiting at a small white table, on the whitewashed porch of and old antebellum style house in an undisclosed Southern state. I spoke my thoughts and what I heard back, what they had to say, and rings as true now as it did back then, and as will into the future.


 They actually asked me what my thoughts were about peace and violence. I have to admit, they looked a bit shocked when I quickly begin a diatribe that went straight to the heart, while bypassing caution.


“We are now, and have been exposed to so much violence and blood shed that we have become accustomed to it,” I began. “We no longer turn and look the other way from gore and violence. It wasn’t always like this, it as a gradual change, but when people started looking, the visuals expanded and spread like wild fire. In the old black and white films of days gone by we never saw bullet holes or blood. Now it has become the norm for blood to splatter the screen and as depicted in Quintan Tarriteno movies, humans now carry about three gallons of blood. Even the video games have moved from Pack Man eating dots, to our youth in control of life-like humans killing each other with massive bloodshed and carnage the norm.”


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