Everything I learned about investing I got from the Martin/Zimmerman trial

I know I’m stating the obvious, but the basic guideline for investing is to buy something you believe to be either undervalued or something you believe has significant prospects to increase in value because of some upcoming economic/geo-political or social event.  You do this with the idea in mind that at some point in the future you will have an increase in value of that which you became invested in.  I know that seems like a simple enough principle that has proven profitable for many over history.  The main caveat to investing is that if some previously unknown or new information contradicts the initial positive prospects for your investment you MUST cut your losses and get out while you still can.

The Martin/Zimmerman trial is a classic example of how not to become too heavily invested in something before you know all the facts.  Early on indicators gave little value to the thought that Zimmerman did anything illegal or arrest worthy.  After being handcuffed, taken “downtown”, interviewed (combined with interviews with other witnesses of varying degrees) and given medical treatment, George Zimmerman was released from custody with no prospect of future arrest.

At this point, enters the stage numerous concerned (albeit uninformed) outsiders followed by the all too willing media.  Pictures of an innocent looking young boy are plastered across the nation’s headlines with calls for justice for this mild-mannered looking youth who was just walking home with his skittles and ice tea and was accosted by a white “want to be cop”.

Social pressure mounts for an arrest for the “obvious” injustice that Trayvon should lose his life for having gotten the munchies.  A huge block of society and media gets deeply invested in this apparent noble cause.

Problem being, once the facts were fully vetted, their investment in the justice angle for Trayvon was proving to be of little verifiable value (not the least of which is the fact that George is ½ Hispanic).  Any smart (media) “investor” would at this point move his investments to a more promising place like that of 36-year-old Joshua Chellew of Mableton Georgia.  Just last month (June 2013) Joshua (white) was part of an attack, beating unconscious and throwing someone into the path of a car.  This happened after the (now dead) victim came out of a convenience store with a snack for him and his girlfriend who witnessed the entire ordeal from her car.  This story presents a problem for the media and social criers since Joshua was actually the victim and all four of his attackers were black (now arrested and charged with murder).  Or maybe a better focus of social media investment would be the tens of thousands of black on black murders that take place every year in America.  Or maybe the angle that black people use the self-defense and stand your ground defense more than all other races combined when used to defend themselves from other blacks.

But then those stories would not serve to push forward the social or political agenda they hope to find in regenerating the historical injustice of “whites still lynching blacks”.  I for one do not understand the ultimate motive lying beneath all this effort to keep racial tension alive in America.

So the fully vested giants against social injustice along with much of the media start losing credibility for their deep & unwise investment but instead of cutting their losses, they double down.  Ignoring the actual courtroom testimony they label George the aggressor, start calling him a “White”/Hispanic and promote boycotts of the state of Florida.  This tact will only result in greater “losses” for society.

All of this exposes their “Ponzi” scheme for what it is.  The fabrication of a huge house of cards that will only come crashing down and be revealed for the emptiness it is if society gets its head out of the sand and starts calling for and acting on those things that will actually produce a valuable return in our country.

It is no easy thing to change a society.  It takes decades of solid cultural investment to counter stereotyping, wrong profiling and suspicion.  But then that’s what wise investing is; it’s putting those things you consider valuable to work hoping and expecting a fruitful return for both you and the generations to come.  We can’t bury our heads or our “talents” and expect things to get better.  I wish it was as easy as encouraging whites to be more trusting or for blacks to listen to people like Bill Cosby and Ben Carson instead of Jackson or Sharpton.

Although this post is not particularly religious in nature, I will offer one solid cultural (as well as religious) focus we can hopefully all agree on as a good place to start investing.  FAMILIES.  The disintegration of the family and marriages has done the most damage our society and our kids.  Children of single parents are exponentially more likely to not only get into gangs (Hispanic, white and black) but also to cost society in both financial and cultural ways.  No matter what the apparent main stream of today seems to be saying that traditional families don’t matter or that having both a mother and father in the home is no longer necessary, every single study put out in recent history suggest the opposite.

So if we are buying “widgets” in Iowa for $2 and driving them in our truck to sell in Florida for $2 and we are not seeming to return a profit what are we going to do?  Simple mindedly get a bigger truck or change our entire investment strategy.

Like Candy from a Baby!

So how easy is it for the un-churched to find things to mock and criticize Christians and Christian leadership in particular?  It sure seems to be getting easier, especially when it gets broadcast it on prime time TV for the whole world to see.  For those who haven’t seen the advertisements yet, there is a “new reality” (and yes the quotes are placed that way on purpose) show on Oxygen scheduled for this fall which focuses on the lavish and opulent lifestyles of 6 L.A. pastors who seem to place more emphasis on money rather than ministry, or at least any ministry that compliments the humble lifestyle and teachings of Jesus Christ.

It has always fascinated me to see different trends and how they move across the country.  It can be fashion, politics or religious trends.  Being from Tulsa OK where the prosperity gospel was given its birth (at least in modern-day), many here have already experienced and been around that very wounding and elusive theological mountain.  A good friend who is now with the Lord used to describe heresy as “the emphasis of one truth at the exclusion of another”.  And by that definition, many of the divine health and wealth messages that came out of this part of the country have been found to be in that category of wrong emphasis, over emphasis or down right heresy.  In fact that same friend wrote a book entitled “From the Pinnacle of the Temple” encouraging churches to bring balance back to the so-called “prosperity” gospel.  Dr. Charles Farah almost lost his job as professor of theology at Oral Roberts University because of his book exposing some of those errant teachings from the ‘70s.  (It just dawned on me how many things from the ‘70s were just …. So Wrong!)   Here in the heartland and buckle of the “Bible Belt”, “we done tried that” resulting in countless hurting Christians (many of whom left the faith) because they were told they didn’t get their healing or wealth because they didn’t have enough faith.  And now there are a bunch of “upstarts” on the “Left” coast ready to sell down the river those same ½ truth heresies 2.0.  (Just try and preach the prosperity Gospel in Sudan or Rwanda)

Does everybody really have to learn things the hard way?  Or is money really that much more important than the hurting people.  And is this the “new reality” where Jesus is reduced to some magic act for money?  One of the cast members, Bishop Clarence McClendon, was challenged about his preaching the prosperity Gospel to which he replied “there is no other kind of Gospel”.  This is one of those rare instances where I don’t even quite know what to say to a person with such a shallow understanding of Jesus Christ and his message of love, forgiveness, grace, giving, serving, taking the lowly place, selling all, giving up all, etc.  –  for the sake of the Goods News given by the Father.  Father please have mercy on us, we cry for mercy!!

Rude “fruit” falls very close to the tree!

We had a wonderful 4th of July weekend.  But there were a couple of “side” experiences which left me quite disturbed.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t encountered things like this before; it was the elevated level of blatant rudeness and disregard for others that accompanied the events.  I’m talking about what I perceive in some young people today as a significant abandonment of simple respect for others and a dismissing of those who might dare to point out how their actions are inappropriate (I of course would never point out things like that…..ok, I would do that).

We have been riding our bikes from our house to Veterans Park for the fireworks display for almost 30 years.  The city usually closes Riverside drive from 41st street north starting around 6 – 7pm till around 11pm to prevent a massive conflict of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  While riding home Thursday night, some young “whippersnapper” drove around the police barricades and was attempting to drive south on Riverside causing a significant amount of “near misses” as he wove between the pedestrians pushing baby strollers, pulling wagons, carrying their bag chairs and the occasional bicyclist.  As I drove past him on my bike, his window was opened and I asked him if he was aware that the road was close to vehicular traffic to which he quipped “who died and made you sheriff?” and basically told me to ****off.  I am still shocked that someone wasn’t hit and injured by his youthful disregard for life and authority.

Then Saturday morning Barbie and I were on a long tandem bike ride which among other places took us up Turkey Mountain.  I noticed that someone had strung up a hammock between two light poles on either side of the HC ramp leading from the parking lot to the sidewalk of the trail.  This meant that whether you were walking, biking or in a wheel chair, you would have had to go around and “jump” the curb to get out of the parking lot or walk to the other end of the parking lot to the other ramp.  On our return trip through the area, I asked the person at the hammock if it was his, he replied “yes” and I followed by asking if he realized he was blocking the ramp for bicycles and handicapped people from getting onto the trail.  He retorted “I’ll tell you what, if a handicapped person happens to drive up, I’ll move it”.

I know a lot of respectful and honorable “20 somethings” and I applaud your character.  But it sure seems to me that the number of “I am my own god and I answer only to no one” young people out there is on the rise at epidemic levels.  And I’m not sure the un-churched have a monopoly on this type of attitude.  It used to be that being “old fashion” meant you respected boundaries in a dating relationship, guys opened doors for ladies (and yes most of the young girls acted like ladies), you said yes sir and yes ma’am and you respected the hoary head (meaning gray-headed to assume maturity and age).  I suspect that for many young people today, “old fashion” simply means that you aren’t attired in the latest must have shirt, pants, shoes or cell phone.

It seems obvious and only reasonable to deduct that the destruction of the family by divorce lies at the heart of these descending and debase attitudes.  Divorce is almost exclusively born out of either one or both parents showing deep disrespect for one another.  With the home being the main classroom, it follows that fathers and/or mothers are teaching their kids to speak and act as they do.  This means that in many homes, the inverse is actually taking place where there is a significant display of wrong attitudes among the adults leading to their fruit not falling far from that tree.

I’m not sure what we can do about this outside the church, but in the church we have a solid basis from which to exhort our young people to take their place both in the home in attitudes of respect towards their parents and elders as well as to fill their role spiritually towards the Father as he calls them to holiness.  This should also translate into Godly accountability for fathers to speak honorably and respectfully to their wives and children with the expectation those wives and children should follow their example.