Dr. Shon Neyland

 “Darkness cannot Drive out Darkness, only Light can do that. Hate cannot Drive out Hate, only Love can do that!”  –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As we celebrate another Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Holiday I remind us all that it is a Day On and Not a Day Off!  I always suggest trying to make a positive difference in the community or in the life of another!  Don’t stay at home, but get out and march and attend other events that captivate and motivate us to a higher plane of dignity and respect for all people.  As I reviewed the headlines I am yet again baffled how we cannot get it right when it comes to love, respect and support for one another as Americans.  I refuse to remain silent and will continue to speak up about coming together as Americans as I articulated in my book, The Courage to Stand: A New America.  I noted that there was a “Blackface” video (evidently, a couple of years old) found at Poly Prep County Day School, an elite private school, in Brooklyn New York, showing two girls making as if they were apes.  Message, if you are dark, you are bad, ignorant, and stupid.  This video was found along with the recent video from the University of Oklahoma of a female student with her face painted black and using an apparent or alleged racial slur, and yet another video of male students of European descent encountering a Native American veteran of the Vietnam War outside the Lincoln Memorial last Friday who was protesting and chanting (although the young man who is of the Catholic faith has articulated that he meant no harm or disrespect to the war veteran and that his actions are misinterpreted).   The video did go viral and there are misunderstandings on both sides.  However, incidents like these indicate, at least by the responses and the actions in some cases that hate is still rising up across ethnic lines not across the races for we are one human race.   I still believe that we can counter this unfortunate movement of hate that appears to be growing with love and respect by honoring all Americans and getting rid of antiquated language of “Black” and “White” when identifying one another.  Why can’t we just be Americans primarily who may or may not have mixed heritages since America was primarily founded through immigration, while not forgetting the indigenous Native Americans who were here before everyone else?  We need to change America.  This Dr. King Holiday I call for us to Do Something Amazing!  

 When I was on deployment to Baghdad, Iraq a few years ago, I recall how the Ugandan guards at the dining facility entrance would often stop me and they would say, “Chaplain, Do Something Amazing!”  At first, I thought I was special and I was the only one they were talking to but then I began to notice that they told everyone who was coming through the doors to “Do Something Amazing.” Although they knew it was my goal to serve the people, doing something amazing was not limited to those in the helping profession. The Ugandan guards were simply trying to encourage all who would listen to make a difference in the lives of others as we carried out our mission. The mission varied from medical, ground forces, air forces, operational, administrative, technical, intelligence, but in the end, the message was the same. Their encouragement was on target as I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those I served during some of the most tumultuous times of the Iraq War.  Interestingly those Ugandan guards were serving out a poverty-stricken East African nation and under great duress at home and sometimes in the locations they served, yet they expressed a positive outlook on life and inspired many. President Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” The same can be said for our goals and plans today. As we begin a new year we will often ask, “What’s next?” I believe it is the perfect setting to determine to, “Do Something Amazing!”

What are your goals for 2019? Determine that you will Do Something Amazing this year in your profession, personal life, and in your community. Over the years, I created a simple acrostic to push me towards my personal and professional goals. I termed the acrostic AIM: A = Attitude; I = Integrity; and M = Motivation. These are three key elements that I believe will push us to success in our lives and to AIM at our destinies.

It is your Attitude that determines your altitude or how high you go in life. The greatest thing one can do is to keep a positive attitude in everything we do. Life is about perspective and how we see it. There will be tough times, but we must keep going and not quit. When Thomas Edison, the great inventor, was asked about his failures with his 1,093 patents and specifically the incandescent light bulb in which he had 3,000 attempts before it worked, he retorted, “I did not fail 3,000 times, but I discovered 3,000 ways that did not work.” Of course, the second element of the acrostic is Integrity.  As a military member, I breathe integrity every day in my mission to defend America and her allies.  Integrity is making the tough calls to do the right thing and not take short cuts or violate rules or policy. It is being honest and forthright. The late General Norman Schwarzkopf, Commanding General during the Gulf War said, “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”

Finally, to go forward in life and achieve our goals, we need Motivation. When I was an OTS Flight Commander, I used to tell my flights that I could not motivate them to do anything, but that they must motivate themselves. I tried to create a positive environment where the team believed they could reach their goals. I was a Flight Commander for both Basic Officer Training (BOT) and Commissioned Officer Training (COT).  At one point during COT, my flights won “Honor Flight” five consecutive classes and my fellow Flight Commanders were wondering how those flights reached their goals.  I told them one word:  Motivation!  Motivation means taking action and the desire to achieve, indeed to Do Something Amazing!  General Henry “Hap” Arnold, the late great leader of our Air Force said it this way, “Your limits are somewhere up there, waiting for you to reach beyond infinity.”

As you contemplate A.I.M., my encouragement is for you to create an overall plan to get where you want to be.  Second, set realistic goals and begin with the end in mind to put that plan into action. Third, chart your course with objectives (both short and long-term) to reach your goals. Fourth, revisit your goals and objectives regularly to measure results and/or progress. Finally, determine where you can make a difference in this coming year in America and in your life and as the Ugandan guards would say, “Do Something Amazing!” t��� 6s�

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