Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Should Voting Be Mandatory in the U.S.?

I’ve learned from some Brazilians that voting is mandatory in their country –- that’s right, you must vote in Brazil if you are at least 18 years old. Imagine the look of horror on one Brazilian’s face when I told him that not only do millions of Americans not vote, but millions are also not even registered to vote. His look said, “Why, that is a disgrace!” I think he’s right.

The battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has inspired many unregistered people in this country to not only register but to exercise their right to vote.

Whatever the outcome of the Primary election might be, I say Obama and Clinton deserve credit for getting younger people, African-Americans, and others to express themselves politically.

If voting were mandatory for all citizens in America who are 18 years old and older, how would that change the look of Congress, the White House, and our state and local governments? I wonder, would we see more women, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, disabled and handicapped representatives?

Here’s part of a post by a Washington state resident, Bill Center, who visited Brazil less than 2 years ago. He talks about the effect of mandatory voting in that country:

We were in Brazil during the final weeks of the election campaign. The race for President is closer than anticipated and seems to be drawing a lot of attention from the citizens. In Brazil every citizen is a voter. Voting is "mandatory."

Interesting idea.

Technically there can be serious penalties for failing to vote, including loss of government pension. In reality the serious penalties are seldom imposed. Most often there is a fine equal to about $1US. It hardly seems necessary as most people appear to view voting as a serious responsibility.

President Lula — who rose from poverty himself — is very popular with the poorer classes because of the social programs he has implemented. Even so, his reelection is in some jeopardy because of recent scandals involving some of his top aides. His challenger is the Governor of the State of Sao Paulo [population 40 million!]. Under Brazilian law, he had to give up the governorship to run for president.

Click here to read U.S. Census figures on voter turnout numbers in the 2004 presidential election in the U.S.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Touch Not the Unclean Thing

My Nashville Pastor's sermon titled, "Daughters of Destiny" points to this scripture. I have a much deeper understanding of these words now -- much deeper. Praise God!

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NIV)

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

"Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you."

"I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

2 Corinthians 7:1

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hi-Ne-Ni: Behold! Here I Am!

My Russian students, who I'm sure God sent to me on purpose -- (I had a dream about many very loving and angelic Russians eight years ago) -- treat me like a daughter, with all of the love and affection that comes with that. Typically my students like to give edible treats, but one couple gave me a gift recently that touched me deeply. It's a set of 3 CDs of Russian "church" music, as they call it. I love the music and am wisked away to a peaceful place everytime I hear the songs. On the back cover of the gift were the words to another spiritual song. This song too, I'm sure is sent from God. The lyrics resonate with me profoundly. Here they are:


("Hi-Ne-Ni" is Hebrew for “Behold! Here I am”)
Lyrics: Lily Liu Music: Francy Shao

Yahweh! O my LORD my God
Come and help me forsake my love
Forsake my love, my all
Yahweh! O my LORD my God
Help me break down all my idols
Idols in my heart

Till I give myself in worship as a sacrifice
With no regrets, No turning back
Till I at the altar hear the calling for my life
With no regrets, Here I am
Hi-Ne-Ni , Hi-Ne-Ni
Purge me, Send me Yes! Here I am
Hi-Ne-Ni , Hi-Ne-Ni
Purge me, Send me, Hi-Ne-Ni
For the darkest corners of the world
O LORD! Send me!
For the souls hopeless in despair, Here I am!
Yes! Here I am, Hi-Ne-Ni
Yes! Here I am, Hi-Ne-Ni

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Healing Herbs that God Gave Us

One Cappuccino Soul reader expressed anxiety about life when he commented some time ago on this blog. I prayed that he’d find peace in his life and suggested some herbal remedies to alleviate anxiety and sleeplessness that I’ll share now with the rest of you.

The following herbs will help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. I know, because I’ve used them for almost a year now and they’ve worked for me.

Scullcap (tea or capsules)

Catnip (tea or capsules)

Wild Yam Root (capsules)

St. John’s Wort (I’ve used both the tincture and the capsule form)

Evening Primrose (gelcaps – they look like Vitamin E pills)

Chamomile (tea or capsules)

Valerian Root (capsule – Valerian Root is pretty strong and may not be suited for everyone. I personally don’t take this one anymore.)

Passion Fruit (My Brazilian friends hipped me to this. Just eat the raw fruit or drink the juice and a sense of calm will overtake you.)

Red Raspberry (tea or capsules)

You can take these two or three times a day, but I usually wait until bedtime so that I don’t fall asleep while I’m working. But, if the anxiety is very bad, it may be necessary to take the St. John’s Wort during the day also.

If you’re unsure about how many capsules to take, or how to make the tea, send me an e-mail and I’ll give you instructions ( (I must say here that I'm not a licensed herbalist or anything, I just know from my own personal study of herbs and my own experience with them).

Be well, may you have peace, and remember that God gave us these herbs as a natural remedy.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My New Home

refugee - one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

After I showed a documentary to my students today, I reviewed some of the concepts and words used in the film. I felt a particular kinship with my students as we discussed these two ideas:

"I came to America to give my offspring a better life."

"At home, I was in constant anxiety about my family. Here, I don't have anxiety."

I only have to substitute the words "my new home" for "America" and I can sympathize completely with my refugee friends.

(Thank you God for sending me here.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Race and Ethnicity in the Queen City

Here are some facts, taken from Charlotte’s Community Building Initiative organization, that show Charlotte’s racial and ethnic make-up. Also, you’ll find how some of Charlotte’s residents viewed the city’s “interracial trust” factor and fairness in the legal system.

I really like it here, but I see that like most other places, Charlotte has a bit of work to do to get closer to the “melting pot” that is the ideal American image.

The demographics of the population of Charlotte, according to updated 2006 Census Department figures are as follows:

African-American 34.4%
Latino/Hispanic 11%
Asian 3%
American Indian 0.5%
White/Caucasian 54.7%

Mecklenburg County’s population has increased 58% in the past 16 years from 511,481 (1990) to 810,900 (2006).

42.4% of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ (CMS) students are African-American. African-Americans make up 34.4% of Charlotte’s population.

13.6% of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ students are Latino/Hispanic. 11% of Charlotte’s residents identify themselves as Latino/Hispanic.

More than 10,000 CMS students are enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. CMS students represent 152 countries and speak 97 native languages.

15.9% of the residents of Mecklenburg County speak a language other than English at home.

12.7% of Mecklenburg County residents are foreign born.

The Charlotte region ranked 39th out of 40 in “interracial trust” among the 40 communities surveyed in the 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey. “Social Capital” is defined as the formal or informal networks that connect a community.

In research conducted during the CBI/26th Judicial District Resource Team project, African-American employees and Hispanic/Latinos view the system as less fair and equitable for defendants of color than for white defendants. Some whites agree.

Research conducted during the CBI/26th Judicial District Partnership Project indicated that there is no statistically significant data from the perception and case review studies suggesting disparity of treatment based on race or ethnicity in traffic or drug cases. However, many defendants (approximately 32.7 %) do not understand how the court system works or what “happened” to them in court.