Saturday, December 29, 2018

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?

Is anyone sick? He should call for the elders of the church and they should pray over him and pour a little oil upon him, calling on the Lord to heal him.  And their prayer, if offered in faith, will heal him, for the Lord will make him well; and if his sickness was caused by some sin, the Lord will forgive him.  Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results. James 5:14-16

Having grown up in a household of 10 sisters, I was very much aware that being “the boy” meant being in the minority.  But, over a 20 year evolution as a United States Marine, I learned that being in the minority does not necessarily make me a minority.   I can choose to be equal—an asset and therefore, not a liability.

By Eric Stradford, U. S. Marine Corps, Retired

AMWS, December 29, 2018 - Let me be the first to congratulate the disappointed, downtrodden, distressed and depressed friends-n-kin who have ever anticipated economic benefits from an emotional appeal.  Confession, I’ve heard, is good for the soul. As a matter of faith or fact, healing results when good folks take action.


Yes, it’s true.  Donald Trump is the President of the United States…STILL!  Yes, it’s true.  The federal government shutdown over a boarder wall, or, perhaps beautiful steel slats, a fence, “beaded curtain” or unprecedented shock and awe.   You are no doubt anxious to see what a divided 116th United States Congress will do to protect and defend the Constitution “from all enemies foreign and domestic.”  

As the elected consider their roles in “forming a more perfect union,” each of us, even me can consider a shared cause for healing.  But, be careful, self-diagnosis could be as harmful as ignoring the problem.

Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity.  My particular ailment stems from emotional experiences over a lifetime where the need for healing was, as Langston Hughes put it, a dream deferred.  In my own experience, growing up as “the boy” with testosterone in a predominately estrogen household of emotionally endowed siblings may have shaped lifelong personality traits that were more transactional than transformative.

Transient and mild dissociative experiences are common. Almost 1/3rd of people say they occasionally feel as though they are watching themselves in a movie, and 4% say they feel that way as much as 1/3rd of the time. The incidence of these experiences is highest in youth and steadily declines after the age of 20.

Transactional leadership and management focuses on supervision, organization, and performance.  In pursuing a healing strategy, we’re cautioned that that folks leaning toward the transactional approach look to keep things the same instead of looking to change the future.

Transformational leaders, like my bride of a quarter of a century, serves to enhance motivation, morale, and job performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms; these include connecting the follower's sense of identity and self to a project and to the collective identity of the organization.  Stephanie believes in being a role model for followers, inspiring them and raising their interest in a particular project.

Over the Christmas holiday, Stephanie and I discovered common ground for our politically bipolar partnership. As a result, we’re redirecting our efforts with new shared goals for a post-Trump America. 

Some influential friends-n-kin have added value to vision on our journey from hurt to healed.  Among them, Bill and C. DeLores Tucker, Grainger and Jo Ann Browning, Spencer and Juliette Bartley, Ofield Dukes and, Arthur Allen Fletcher.

In the seventies, Al Green sampled the Bee Gee’s 1971 release, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.  His journey to healing witnessed a trail of hurt that included an emotionally charged encounter with his girlfriend, Mary Woodson White.

Although she was already married, White wanted Green.  An angry White doused Green with a pot of boiling grits while he was bathing. Police found a note inside White's purse declaring her reasons for causing severe burns on Green's back, stomach, and arms.  They also found the .38 handgun with which she had killed herself.

Stephanie A. Walker Stradford paved her own pathway from hurt to healed during the seventies.  After graduating from the University of Maryland, Stephanie put to test a new minority hiring policy and landed a studio engineering job with the likes of David Brinkley, Willard Scott and others at NBC Washington, DC. 

Republican Arthur A. Fletcher, a former board chair for the United Negro College Fund, celebrated “four quarters” in what he called, “Victorious Living.”  As U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Wage and Labor Standards, Fletcher offered unique insights on being African American and unapologetically, Republican. 

When Stephanie and I met Dr. Fletcher, he had discovered the formula for healing a broken heart.  In the sixties, his family had been denied a rental house in Berkeley's white section.  Continuing racial problems, combined with continuing economic pressures, took their toll, and Fletcher's wife, Mary, committed suicide.

In 2005, Arthur Fletcher called on us to plan an event commemorating The 36th Anniversary of what he called, The Affirmative Action Enforcement Movement.  The event marked his implementation of the Revised Philadelphia Plan, which required federal contractors to meet certain goals for hiring minority employees. 

Fletcher’s presentation on “the glasses’ endowed believers with an inclusive vision of America’s future.   The event was Fletcher’s last public event.  He died later that year at age 80.

After coordinating a star-studded homegoing and Arlington burial for Fletcher, Stephanie and Eric Stradford set out once again on their Learning Journey.

In the New Year, we are reaching out to seven-year-old Americans proposing an economically inclusive vision of their 21st Century futures.  We’re learning that  six-in-ten Millennials (59%) affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, compared with about half of Gen Xers and Boomers (48% each) and 43% of voters in the Silent Generation.

Many of them see a need for alternative outcomes in both Republican as well as Democratic primaries, but few are ready, willing and able to lean right to make a difference.

In a 2005 study, the Pew Research Center identified nine typological groups. Three groups were identified as part of each, "the left," "the middle," and "the right." In this categorization system, "the right" roughly represents the Republican base, those on "the left" the Democratic base and those in "the middle" independents.

Within the left are the largely secular and anti-war "Liberals", the socially conservative but economically left "Conservative Democrats", and the economically "Disadvantaged Democrats" who favor extended government assistance to the needy.
In "the middle" are the optimistic and upwardly mobile "Upbeats", the discouraged and mistrusting "Disaffected” citizens, and the disenfranchised "Bystanders."

The right comprises the highly pro-business "Enterprisers," the highly religious "Social Conservatives" (also known as the Christian right), and the "Pro-Government Conservatives" who are largely conservative on social issues but support government intervention to better their economic disposition.


Thursday, November 29, 2018


Any American, age 7-24, qualifies to win at THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS.  That now includes Kamille, almost age 7 (center).  She will need to write seven “Money-n-the-Bank” goals in her vision of her future.  She will need a Community Asset Manager and a Whole Village of 20 caring adults to help manage her trust.   She will need to trust the process and never quit because quitters don’t win, and winners don’t quit.  But, what she really wants is a Baby Alive Doll.  Photo by 2003 Youth Achiever Chalondra B. Stradford.
By Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

AMWS – November 27, 2018, Virtual -- On this day, 83 years ago, The Reverend James Milton Stradford and his bride celebrated a son remembered as “J”.   James David Stradford was the first of five male Stradfords included in a count of sixteen offspring. DNA testing might scientifically confirm one’s relationship with the Stradford brand, but such testing might come at a cost—economic as well as emotional.

Collaboration with the Stradfords almost always presents a perspective on balance between science and faith.  Catching up with any one of them is certain to advance one’s thinking and feeling about family healing.  A molecule of “J” in one’s DNA might determine your status as a beneficiary in a family trust. 

My friend Steve Merrill and I learned about DNA in 1988, while working media control on the US V CPL LINDSEY SCOTT case before the U.S. Court of Military Appeals.  It’s no small wonder that fellow U. S. Marines Steve Merrill and Corky Chambers were the first responders to our #GivingTuesday appeal to fight poverty.  According to the National Institute of Health, DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms.  A brief LIVE MEETING with Kendra, another Stradford, sparked curiosity about her professional #LearningJourney toward becoming an epidemiologist.

Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA.  All the people mentioned in this opinion editorial allegedly share some portion of the same DNA.   Scientifically, a cotton swab with a little spit on it might confirm a familial relationship.  And if #EconomicInclusion depended solely on familial relationship, lifelong learning about cause and effect might hold little value in emotional appeals for economic action.

Our cover photo features Kamille as one of three individuals sharing a familial relationship.  At age 7, Kamille qualifies to win at THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS.  She will need to write seven “Money-n-the-Bank” goals in her vision of her future.  She will need a Community Asset Manager and a Whole Village of 20 caring adults to help manage her Positive Youth Development.   She will need to trust the process and never quit because quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit. 

What she really wants for her seventh birthday is a Baby Alive Doll.  What she needs is inclusion.  One community member of means might just buy the doll, while a WHOLE VILLAGE might endow Kamille with lifelong LEARN-2-EARN values.

What can a baby doll teach us?
Gen Z Millennials are unique.  Given the right information, they will leverage inherited values today to compound economic value for their futures. Their capacity to live their own lives means owning the consequences of their actions and attitudes.

But the opportunity for healing that comes through informed consensus may prove to be worth a modest investment in Baby Alive.  A loving “grandparent” could spend as little as $14.35 on Lil' Slumbers, or as much as $74.99 for My Baby All Gone (Discontinued by manufacturer, but most appropriate for this essay).

The research suggests that by playing with dolls, children learn how to process emotions such as empathy and compassion. “Just like caring for their doll teaches responsibility, it teaches them to empathize with those around them and allows them to grow up into caring people,” according to a passage on the Internet. 

But, in real life, reaching out to any one of the Stradfords for insight on dolls, might result in yet another review of cause and effect.   Alma Catherine Thomas Stradford “Big Mother” kept a little doll in her bedroom closet.  Baby Doll was stuffed with grey cotton fabric and some folks were just scared of her.  An “empathetic” Big Mother reinvested Stradford DNA at least 15 times in 39 years of baby-making.

A personal retrospective on my sister Doris’ doll reveals insight on why boys got basketballs, guns, and race cars and girls kept their dolls from us.  In 1962, Candy Fashion was “the dream of every girl.” For that time, she was priced quite expensively at $12.95.  Despite the price tag she was a good seller, most likely due to her ability to pose and “the world’s most exquisite clothing” that came with each doll set. Candy Fashion was made by Deluxe Reading Co. and came in a large box that included four detailed outfits, complete with accessories, and three dress forms/mannequins to display her beautiful dresses.  Candy was sold in grocery stores.

1962 Johnny 7
In a single moment of mischief, “the boy” gave Candy Fashion a makeover, marking her with red magic marker.  Doris was equally combative in her assault on the boy’s Johnny Seven Multi-Functional Assault Rifle.  

Doris’ take on DNA presents yet another  perspective on healing that might offset the rising cost of healthcare.  For her, Part D is Deliverance in the cure-all prescription she believes as The Word of God.  She is not alone in her battle against “dis-ease.”  As of 2018, more than 2.4 billion beneficiaries out of about 7.5 billion people worldwide identify as Christians.  They share a spiritual value as J’s brothers and sisters that’s not always revealed in a scientific DNA test.

Every YouthUSA Economic Beneficiary invests seven values in a vision of their own futures.  Money-n-the-Bank goals, quantified by individual and collective efforts to save, builds on the corporate motto, “I believe I can achieve whatever I believe I can achieve.”