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Whatever Happened to an Old-Fashioned Handshake?

Dr. James L. Snyder

Dr. James L. Snyder

By Dr. James L. Snyder

I must confess I do have some old-fashioned biases. I would be the first to admit I’m not up to date on the latest fad or trend.

I come from that era that believed the well-dressed man is one that doesn’t stand out from everybody else. I’ve tried to keep to that all these years. I certainly don’t want to stand out and have people recognize me or point their finger at me and whispered to each other.

For years, I’ve been very careful about that. Now, it seems that because I try to dress like a well-dressed man and not stand out I am in fact standing out. Nobody, except me and two other people, really care about being well-dressed.

This has never been an issue with me and it even now is not an issue. But reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year before me, I have to take some calculations. According to my calculation, I no longer fit into that “well-dressed man” category, because the term “well-dressed man” does not mean what it used to mean.

I hate it when something outlasts its definition.

To be a well-dressed man today, according to the latest fads and trends I have noticed, I need to throw away my belt and let my trousers drop all the way down to my knees.

Let me go on record as saying, never in a million years will that happen.

Then there is the issue about a necktie. Am I the last person on planet earth wearing a necktie?

Very few people today know how to tie a necktie. Well, I do and I will until they put me in a casket and then I hope I’m still wearing a tie. So if you come to my funeral and look at me in the casket and I’m not wearing a tie, complain to someone for me.

The latest trends and fads have no interest to me whatsoever.

This came to my attention recently when I had to sign some legal papers for something to do with the church. I had to sign here, initial there, sign the next page, initial three pages and it went on and on until I ran out of ink.

I’m one of those old-fashioned guys that use a fountain pen and all that signing and initialing drained all of the ink out of my fountain pen. Before I finished, I was on the verge of carpal tunnel.

I sighed rather deeply, looked at the gentleman (I think he was a gentleman because he was dressed like a gentleman), and said kind of sarcastically, “Do you remember the old-fashioned handshake?”

He looked at me without smiling and then said, “Here are some more papers for you to sign.”

I thought I was signing my life away, but in reality, I was just signing my ink away.

I do remember when a handshake really meant something. Just about everything was sealed with a handshake and both parties were as good as their word. It would take a lot of undoing to undo that handshake. Now, you’re only as good as the word on a piece of paper over your signature. Then, some lawyer can finagle it around to mean something other than what you really meant it in the first place. So what’s the purpose of all this?

I know you’re not supposed to say this, but I will, I sure long for the good old days when a handshake was all you needed. I get tired of the rigmarole passing as business these days. I get tired of paperwork that’s piled higher than the tallest tree in the forest.

Of course, if we go back to that handshake scenario, it will put many lawyers out of business. What would these people do for a living? I have some ideas, but I’m going to keep that to myself.

Trust has gone out of our culture today because everybody is only after what they can get for themselves and they don’t care how they get it.

A handshake met something in “the day.” In fact, I believe it was more binding than all of the paperwork and signed documents and legalese we have today. It’s hard to sue a handshake!

What I want to know is simply this. When we replaced the good old-fashioned handshake with all of this legalese stuff, are we better off? Have we simplified everything and covered all of the bases?

The answer is a loud no.

A man’s word used to be his bond and something he would never go back on.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have lived on that marital philosophy all of our married life. I know in the marriage ceremony there is no “handshake.” But the philosophy of that handshake is right there. When I said “I do,” and she responded by another “I do,” we were shaking hands and saying to everybody around us but particularly to one another, “We do.”

I think James shook the right hand when he wrote, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation” (James 5:12).

I’m all for getting back to the good old days when a handshake was all you needed.


Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net or website www.jamessnyderministries.com.

 

Free Associate’s Degree: A Solution, But Not the Solution

William E. Spriggs

William E. Spriggs

By William E. Spriggs

We should all congratulate President Barack Obama for pulling the education debate into the 21st century, or perhaps dragging it into the late 20th century, by proposing access to free education through at least an associate’s degree. But this merely restates the obvious.
As the White House documents supporting this policy point out, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, as the economy transformed into the modern era, Americans embraced the call of Progressives to extend public education from 8th grade to 12th grade. New job skills were required in the age that brought about automobile, telephone and airplane manufacturing and new occupations like electrician, motion picture projectionist, X-ray technician, truck driver, bus driver and radio operator-jobs that could not have been imagined in 1880.

So, too, common sense dictates that a high school degree in a world of computer processors and cell telephone communications cannot meet the needs of a changing world where webpage designers, “app” writers and cybersecurity specialists are in high demand.

The president is simply asserting the obvious in extending free associate’s degrees as a democratic right. The price of the basic ticket to the game has changed. That means the full access to society has a new predicate.

Unfortunately, we live with a dysfunctional democracy where anti-democratic forces are strong. There are those who are fighting hard to limit voting rights instead of the American ideal to protect and strengthen those rights. So it isn’t surprising that voices are being raised to limit economic rights, and to instead rail against “government” extension of opportunity. Of course, the movie “Selma” reminds us that small minds have sought to limit opportunity in America for a long time.
But beyond the obvious need to redefine the right to a basic education in a world in which “basic” has clearly changed, the rest of the president’s case is short on the fuller problems and issues facing America.

First is the notion that the extension of the educational right is a solution to the sagging earnings of Americans. At the beginning of this century, in 2001, the median earnings of American men was $42,755, but in 2013 they had dropped to $39,602. This was despite an increase in the share of men with associate’s degrees from 7.5 percent to 9.1 percent and declines in the share of men with less education than an associate’s degree from 63.4 percent to 58.1 percent. It also came despite an increase for those holding bachelor’s degrees or higher from 29.0 percent to 32.8 percent.

So, despite increasing educational attainment, the income of men fell. More to the point, the income of men holding associate’s degrees fell from $51,144 to $42,176. More emphatically, the median earnings of men with bachelor’s degrees fell from $65,769 to $58,170.

Second is the argument that a better educated workforce will lead to a more productive workforce. This is clearly the case. Productivity of America’s workers increased from 2001 to 2013 by 27 percent. And increases in productivity are traditionally the source of increasing wages. But wages did not increase.

The president’s proposal deserves immediate support. But it must be supported in the framework of extending rights and opportunities that is the hallmark of America-the nation that always looks forward. And we must fight against those who want to take us backward.

Still, as the AFL-CIO’s recent National Summit on Raising Wages highlighted, the United States is facing a more fundamental structural problem that must be addressed. We have a better educated and more productive workforce, but a workforce that is getting paid less. Those lower wages are not the workings of the market or some economic necessity. Those lower wages are the result of clear choices to feed corporate coffers at the expense of an economy that functions for all. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, we must have policies that treat corporations as part of America, not above America.

We must commit ourselves to reinvest in America. Those who look backward will see costs; those who look forward see dividends.

Power, Justice and the Cheap Blood of Black Males

Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim

“Justice is nothing more than the advantage of the stronger.” -Thrasymachus

 By Hakim Hazim

The grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York should not surprise us. Justice is in the eyes of the beholder and the criminal justice system is not blind. It derives its power from the larger societal framework that simply has many preconceived ideas about Black males. We must work relentlessly to change this and hold the system accountable. We must also support the people who are doing that and exercise patience in the process. Keep in mind the two chief law enforcement officers in this nation are Black: Barack Obama and Eric Holder, and racial tensions are at an all time high. To their credit they are doing quite a bit, but they face an uphill struggle. We should follow their lead on criminal justice reform and we should do everything we can for the young Black men around us before and after tragedy strikes. We should also consistently deplore what we are doing to one another; it’s senseless not too. All of these things reinforce the notion, “Black Blood is cheap.”

Current law enforcement approaches toward us as a people and the tacit societal approval behind it must change. Society inherently nurtures the belief that justice is nothing more than the interest and the sustained advantage of the stronger, and it has played out that way for centuries. The rationale is, “If they did things the right way, they would get what I have and so would their children.”  Such self-righteousness obscures reality.  The fact is people do all they can to give their descendants an advantage in the system and they tilt the scales to their advantage. It’s true with race, power and wealth and gender. It’s simply a human trait of passing the best of your efforts, lessons and acquisitions to your children, but you also pass your biases on as well.

When we first arrived, justice was never considered for us as a people. It was an elusive concept for which we prayed, fought, bled and died for. To this very day, she seems a distant stranger to many of our people still in terms of access, resources, familial ties and fair treatment in terms of the criminal justice system. Although all black people have felt the sting of injustice, poor black folks feel it the most. Having little to bargain with or offer they are viewed as inferior, unworthy and an unnecessary, troublesome burden by many—even middle class and upper class blacks. Our inner cities are filled with Black-on-Black crime, fatherlessness and substandard schools. This fertile ground of dysfunction produces young men who think that they or their peers have little value. Feeling powerless, they prey on one another and lash out at the larger system. This crab in a bucket mentality is celebrated in the music of popular culture. The sad fact is this, many of us have not learn to value one another the way we should and King’s Dream falls on deaf ears to many of the younger generation.

Let’s face the facts: statistics show young people who do well often succeed because of the systems and programs that strengthen them. Things like a solid family structure and access to education, faith-based organizations, mentoring agencies, activity, athletic and interest development organizations and employment services, give young people a fighting chance. If not, their doomed from the womb. The deaths of so many young black males or own the hands of many. The Black-on- Black gang wars, stand your ground advocates and law enforcement officers have all contributed to this. Passivity is not an option. Let your voice be heard, or remain entrenched in hypocrisy. The choice is yours.


 

Hakim Hazim is the founder of Relevant Now and co-founder of Freedom Squared. He is a nationally recognized expert in decision analysis, criminality and security.