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We are a village – a global village. Approximately 7.019 billion people live in the global village we know as Planet Earth. And you and I are connected to each of the 7.019 billion people who live, work, and play in the global village we know as Planet Earth. We speak different languages, observe different customs and traditions, and worship differently, and yet, we are connected. What connects us? Destiny . . . love . . . faith . . . an innate need for affirmation . . . our strengths, frailties, thoughts, and deeds. Families, schools, mosques, synagogues, churches, temples, legislatures, financial institutions, neighborhoods, health care facilities, police and fire departments, business corridors, and social services institutions are vital components of the village to which we are connected. We are connected to the homeless men, women, and children who languish on the streets of our cities with outstretched and soiled hands that seek food . . . a few dollars . . . compassion. We are connected to the boys and young adolescent males – Our Sons and the Next Generation of Husbands, Fathers, and Leaders -- who are indiscriminately misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, prescribed psychotropic medications such as Ritalin, characterized as “unteachable” or “behavioral problems”, warehoused in Special Education classes in our public schools, and placed on the “fast track” to prison. We are connected to the Elders in the village who deserve and need our love, respect, and protection. Their sacrifices have provided you, me, and generations unborn with the freedom to dream dreams and the tools to transform our dreams into entities that the world will see, feel, hear, and touch. There is power in being connected. Being connected creates balance, heals broken spirits and shattered souls, restores order where chaos once reigned, builds trust, and transforms despair into hope. Being connected moves us to think in terms of “we” and not “me.” We ask ourselves: “Will my actions weaken or strengthen my community – the village where I live and work? Who will benefit from my actions? Who will be hurt by my actions? What are my options?” Being connected helps us make better decisions. Our children are the heart and soul of the village. Being connected moves us to rethink how we are raising the village’s heart and soul. There is a direct connection between the manner in which we raise the heart and soul of the village and the village’s future. To rebuild the village and transform it into a vibrant, peaceful, nurturing, and self-sustaining oasis, we must teach our children – the village’s heart and soul – and our bridge to the future, through our deeds and words – to respect human life and the rights and property of others. We must teach them, through our words and deeds, that wisdom comes from all places, and love in its purest form is unconditional. We must show them how to transform negative energy into positive energy; peacefully resolve conflicts; and constructively deal with anger, pain, fear, disappointment, and rejection. If we fail to do any of these things because we don’t understand or refuse to understand that we are all connected to each other, chaos and a vacuum in leadership will ensue and the village will eventually self-destruct. Is that what we want? Men and Women are connected to each other. We must put an end to the “Gender Wars” that create confusion and dissension. At the same time, we must eradicate the plethora of mixed signals that Men receive from segments of society and mainstream media about masculinity, their roles and responsibilities inside and outside of the home, and the rules of engagement for courtship and marriage. When it comes to Men, many of us have it all wrong. Men are not emotionless automatons. They experience joy and pain. They laugh. They cry. Betrayal and rejection are devastating to a man. Men are human just like women. So, why wouldn’t Men have a range of emotions? For the sake of our children and the survival of the village, Men and Women must seek common ground and work together as full partners to nurture, love, and mentor the village’s heart and soul – our children – our bridge to the future.


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