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In Abrahamic religions, the Garden of Eden or Garden of God (also called the Terrestrial Paradise), is the biblical paradise described in Genesis 2-3 and Ezekiel 28 and 31. The beautiful garden contained the Tree of Life, where God intended Adam and Eve to live in peaceful and contented innocence, effortlessly reaping the fruits of the Earth.  The garden also housed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, from which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat.


As Adam and Eve, we have neglected nature’s original diet and we are suffering holistically as a result.  We snack rather than nourish; We mask rather than shine.  The lust for instant gratification, genetically-modified cuisine and delicacies rather than the creation’s soul food provided for our eternal sustenance, has dimmed our ability to shine.  Did you know  sugar’s real color is brown; blue light from cellular devices damages our eyesight; and social media contributes to our growing mental health crisis.  Nature cannot always reverse how carelessly we treat our bodies; for this cause, we are forced to resort to temporary, quick fixes in the form of synthetic medicines which have turned the pharmaceutical industry into a trillion-dollar machine.  Because we become what we consume and “health is wealth,” we must remove the literal and figurative toxins from our diet that compromise our brilliance and wellness.


More than 7,000 languages exist worldwide.  Each one beautiful and unique.  The breath of the Creator flows through us each time we speak.  These sounds create expressions that often bring us closer but also have the power to divide us.  When Africans first arrived on American soil, they could not verbally communicate because of the language barrier presented by their varied backgrounds.  They were stolen from different countries and tribes and were separated from their kinsmen to prevent the threatening, dangerous power of community.  The lack of a common language, however, led to the creation of several forms of communication - a patois, a Negro Spiritual, a drumbeat, a dance, a shared purpose of freedom.


Some of the enslaved and their descendants eventually mastered the language of the oppressor turning it into a tool for battling physical and mental enslavement.  Frederick Douglass wrote a slave narrative that laid the cruelty bare, leaving nothing out from his miraculous journey to become free.  James Baldwin employed the American lexicon to indict the supposed democracy for its glaring hypocrisy in upholding white supremacy.  Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker lyricized the lives of young, Black women in the South who could have silenced themselves and others to death had they chosen to hold their peace.  Octavia Butler placed Black folk at the center of scientific fantasy. Richard Wright gave voice to the burdensome anger that traumatizes and kills slowly and Amiri Baraka illuminated the grim reality of this burdensome anger on the stage. A dream of the illiterate slave became true when American actor LeVar Burton reflected a shining image of scholarship to countless children as host of Reading Rainbow, a children’s television series that aired for more than two decades on PBS introducing them to the power of language and literacy.  Words truly shape our world with the capacity to build bridges of brother- and sisterhood and towers of togetherness.


If it were not for the darkness, could light be appreciated for its brilliance?  Light travels 299,792,458 meters per second and nothing in the universe is faster.  The inner light, however, does not travel far at all.  Adversity, struggle, doubt, and other deterrents often prevent one from being the light they were created to be  No story exists without struggle, each relative to the plot of its protagonists.  Nevertheless, it is in these dark, desolate, and low places where character is defined, strength is found, and purpose is defined so that light can emanate from each of us and reflect the glory of the creation from within.


The wealth of the world’s greatest civilizations is many times built upon the exchange of various forms of forced labor.  The expense of one group often profits another.  In 1865, The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime but today many of us are bound by invisible chains.  Human consumption feeds and drives the need for forced labor in today’s society.  For this cause, several agencies and industries--both private and public-- generate billions of dollars annually at the expense of their participants, consumers, and supporters.  A growing drug epidemic, private prisons, sex trafficking, mental health crisis, declining labor force, struggling educational system, and unpredictable economy affect us all in some form or another.  Slavery by other names have no respect of any social construct and these chains that stifle enlightenment and challenge the progress of humanity will not be broken until a genuine love and respect for self and others is established