Friday, August 26, 2011

Rapper Sings New tune to Make Us Take Action

            Today I heard a rap artist  on the radio who didn't sound like a typical rap artist.


            He had just returned from Somalia.


            Children are dying in unprecedented numbers in Somalia from starvation.


            Last month in Somalia, thirty thousand tiny innocents succumbed to a painful demise in a state of malnutrition.


            The rapper lost his penchant for talking about  police brutality.  Far from his mind was another ditty about the next booty call.


            What captured his imagination was the image of a tall tribesman who carried himself with tremendous dignity.


            He was almost regal.


            However, in his arms was his beautiful three year old daughter, stomach distended and arms and legs of seemingly only bones.


            She was dying.


            Her eyes looked at her father with hope.


            Hope her father couldn't fulfill.


            Despite his regal bearing, his eyes couldn't hide a quiet despair.


            Despair because his beautiful child was dying on his watch.


            A dad should never let a daughter die, said his eyes.


            He looked straight ahead because to look down into his daughter's angelic face would have been too much to bear.


            Yesterday, I ate more calories than that little girl had eaten in four weeks.


            How can I justify my next mocha at Starbuck's?


            How can I order extra Guacamole at Chipotle?


            How does our part of the world not hear the roar of suffering echoing off the sky and descending upon us here in America as we try to organize our tweets and plan menus for cousin Julie's baby shower?


            The rapper implored, "Do Something!"


            No matter how small.


            Do something.


            One less latte.


            Get the economy wash at Joe's Auto-Bubble instead of the deluxe.


            Here's one.


            God forbid.  Skip lunch. 


            Try this also.  Pray that God will help them.  Pray that God will let them know that you are praying for them and to have some sense of peace in that and in God's love for them.


            Oh yes. Back to the doing something.


            Contact Catholic Relief services at 1-888-277-7575 or go to their website at and send money in any amount.  At least do something.


            Did I ever think I could learn anything from a rap artist? No.


            But in this instance the rapper made me think about that Dad holding his daughter.


            Make that little girl your child in your heart and then do something.


            Sorry Mr. Starbuck, rap man and I are going without today.


            How about You?



David M. Lynch

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dunderheaded Decision Dashes Dramatic Dream

    Obama's team played  the role of the ogre last week because some eleven year old boys couldn't authenticate their birth certificates.

    Poetic  injustice.

                Only Shakespeare could have assembled so much irony and tragedy in this drama that began on the grassy plains of  Africa.

                New York City philanthropist Richard Stanley had a far-fetched dream years ago: introducing boys in Uganda to Little League baseball.

                Stanley's millions led to ball diamonds and even a baseball academy.

                Build it and they will come.

                And indeed they did. American baseball came to Uganda and suddenly orphaned and impoverished boys really had something to smile about.

                Joy in the land of sadness.

                An ESPN interview caught one youngster fantasizing  out loud on camera that his goal was to one day pitch for the Yankees (Indians fans will forgive such blasphemy when it's uttered by this idealistic innocent).

                Buoyed by the uniforms, equipment,  and coaching made possible by Stanley's generosity, the ragtag Ugandan All-Star team did something amazing.

                Remember, these boys were rough. The Bad News Bears of Buwama.

    They won.

                They rocked and shocked the world of Little League baseball.

                Kids who had never been more than a mile outside of their own villages had traveled all the way to Poland to defeat the team from Saudi Arabia who enjoyed all the comforts that Saudi oil sheiks could provide.

                Orphans defeat billionaire children.

                As a result, the Ugandan team was poised to travel to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

                The first team from Africa ever to participate in the Little League World Series.

                I want the movie rights to this story.

                I think.

                You see, every good drama has to have a villain to enter the scene just when the hero is on the brink of unexpected greatness.

                Enter Obama's  State Department.

                Birth certificates that were good enough for the Polish government and World Series  officials were lacking when reviewed by American bureaucrats.

                The State Department says they were concerned about inconsistencies in reported birth dates for some of the lads.

                No kidding. It's Uganda, you nincompoops. These kids come from villages struggling to find drinkable water.

                They are recovering from the national genocide that saw their relatives macheted to death by the thousands.

                The legacy of Idi Amin.

                Memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:  Uganda doesn't have a Bureau of Vital Statistics down the street with birth information stored on a hard drive.

                The birth records in Uganda are even sketchier than those you might find in, well, for example, Hawaii. Sound familiar?

                Here's the bottom line. The greatest feel-good story of the year has come to a screeching halt.

                The boys of the Serengeti are not coming to Pennsylvania.

                Don't you think this president, who is in desperate need of some positive PR, could have intervened to save the dreams of some little boys in Africa?

                Someone please ask the following at Obama's next press conference.

                Mr. President, do you think questions regarding a birth certificate should derail a great opportunity for  sincere young men striving for remarkable achievement?

                The Birthers were wrong.

                And so is the State Department.

                Crushing the hopes of children is bad diplomacy.

                And dumb politics.

                Keep playing boys.

                After all, the President is up for re-election next year.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lewis-less Telethon a Cause for Sadness this year

A little kid in only the second grade at St. Ann's elementary school in Cleveland Heights received a packet with a letter from Jerry Lewis thanking that little boy for volunteering to knock on doors throughout the neighborhood asking for donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.


A second grader! I'm guessing the MDA folks didn't really know the young age of this boy but he was so thrilled to receive what seemed like a personal letter from Jerry Lewis that he dutifully set forth ringing doorbells and collecting contributions to benefit kids struggling with muscular illnesses.


That little boy continued this relationship with the MDA well into high school and people throughout the Coventry and Fairmount section of Cleveland Heights looked  forward to his appearance on their doorstep every year as fall approached.


As this lad grew in  maturity and physical stature, he gained a greater appreciation for Jerry Lewis appearing on the famous Labor Day telethon. It was as if Jerry held up his end of the bargain every year.

 The youngster would walk tirelessly along the sidewalks in Cleveland Heights and his good friend Jerry would seal the deal by bringing in millions of additional dollars through his hard work on the iconic marathon television appeal. Way to go Jerry!


I was that little boy.  I  feel like I grew up watching my pal Jerry.


Imagine my excitement several years ago when I actually had the opportunity to serve as a co-host for the telethon on the local television affiliate carrying the broadcast. I was flown to California to meet Ed McMahon. It  felt like a family reunion.


I was in  a state of shock  just a couple of weeks ago when a news item came across the wire with very little fanfare.


The Muscular Dystrophy Association announced quietly that Jerry Lewis, scheduled to host the telethon for the very last time this coming Labor Day, was scratched from the lineup entirely. His swansong appearance would now be no song whatsoever.


That is a crying shame.


Jerry Lewis began conducting local telethons for the MDA in 1952. In 1966 he began the national telethon which has become as associated with Labor Day as labor unions. The national fundraiser broadcast throughout the world  has raised just under Two and a Half Billion Dollars for Jerry's Kids.

That's $2.5 Billion with a B!


And now, just before what would surely have been the largest television audience in the telethon's history has a chance to say goodbye, the MDA instead says  "never mind" to Jerry.


Lewis has certainly had his critics over the years. Many have decried his use of sentimentalism to guilt contributors into fattening the tote board totals.


Jerry had a great answer for that. He told the world that if his efforts gave hope to one little boy or girl in an effort to walk again, he didn't care how emotional the pitch had to be. His goal of helping children was too important to be sidetracked by those who didn't like his methods.


I liked your methods, Jerry.

Few doubted the sincerity of what was in your heart when you intoned "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the close of broadcasts over the recent years.  The children you helped over the decades knew you were right there with them every hobbled step along their journey.

 This is one little boy who will miss you.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Don't Turn Your Back on the Lonely

This is a column about the most rampant and deadliest human affliction.


I'm not talking about starvation or homelessness or cancer or drug addiction.


I'm talking about loneliness.


Loneliness is not about being alone. Loneliness is about facing life's challenges and feeling like no one in the whole world gives a damn.


It's a feeling of sadness and despair that your difficulties are ones that you suffer in a stifling vacuum, with no human compassion available to serve as an ointment for your painful wounds.


Mother Theresa tells the story of an old man crumbled up against the curb in an alley in Calcutta. He had been left for dead, his body covered with pustulating abscesses, fecal matter, and maggots.


This poor dying soul was too weak to do anything other than lie there in the street waiting to die.


Tiny Mother Theresa took the man up into her arms, showing no revulsion  at his disgusting condition and the putrid stench that emanated from his body. Instead, she looked at him with the very deepest love and took him back to her home for the dying.


She and an assistant gently bathed him, treated his wounds, and dressed him in a fresh linen robe.


He died after just a few hours. However, Mother Theresa noted the look of complete joy in this man's faded blue eyes as she held him in her arms, his last breath about to fade away.


He was happy because somebody loved and cared for him as he faced his final torture.


Mother Theresa told audiences hundreds of times that the real suffering in the world came in the form of loneliness  defined as contemplating your harshest reality and knowing that absolutely no one  cares.


I remember sitting in a dimly lit room in my Mom and Dad's house just a few years ago as my mother was dying from a painful and unstoppable cancer of the liver. It was three o'clock in the morning and she lay in a hospital bed that had been brought to the house where her children and children's spouses and grandchildren kept a 24-hour vigil by her side to make sure that someone was with her.


We tried to meet all of her needs but most importantly she knew there was always someone there with her as she dragged her cross to Calvary.


I remember that in that overwhelming silence in the middle of the night she opened her eyes just slightly and enough to realize that I was there.  She smiled a very gentle and subtle smile that expressed joy in knowing that the affliction of loneliness at least would never be hers to suffer as she soldiered on.


Hospitals.  Nursing homes.   Prisons.  Halfway houses.    The back pews in an otherwise empty church.  A park bench around the corner from you.   The Social Security office.  The place where you work. Maybe even your own home.


These are places where you can easily find people who need  a word of encouragement and compassion and love.


You may not be Mother Theresa, but you can help to dilute the pain of loneliness.


 Maybe you think you should mind your own business and turn away and go on about your day.


I'm asking you to do something a little braver.  Talk to  the outcast.  Make an effort to find people who are facing challenges and show them that you care.


Would you pass the old decrepit   lice-infested man in Calcutta?


Lift him up and take him to your home. Bathe him and dress his wounds.


None of us are lonely if we truly have each other.