As I listened to my daughter, Jarah, sing The National Anthem yesterday at the Duquesne University women’s basketball game, not only was it a “proud father” moment, it was a “proud American” moment. Jarah’s voice is angelic and it stirs up my deep love for this country and all those who have sacrificed so much so that “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” could live in the freest country the world has ever known.
That experience followed my guest appearance the day before on a TV show out of Philadelphia, whose name means City of Brotherly Love. Sadly in 2022, Philly is not living up to that name as homicides and vehicle theft are up, overall violent crime is surging, and robberies have more than doubled compared to this time in 2021, according to city data. As of September, the city reported 388 homicides, up slightly from 384 at the same time in 2021, when Philly set a record with 562 homicides. Overall shootings have increased by 3%. Overall violent crime is up 7%. Robberies in which perpetrators used guns are up 60%. Property crimes are up more than 30%, with businesses getting hit hard as commercial burglaries have risen a staggering 50%. However, there is light in the midst of the darkness, Joe Watkins and his show, State of Independence, which is a program on Lighthouse TV.
Joe Watkins also makes me proud to be an American and a Pennsylvanian. Joe has had an extraordinary life. From his early years in the projects of Queens to an office inside President George H. W. Bush’s White House, his story is inspirational. The work Joe is doing to find dignity and value in our fellow man is redeeming Philly as the City of Brotherly Love.
Let go of the past.
That’s one of the things we have to learn to do as adults to move forward. If we harbor any anger, bitterness, among other things, it’s just not healthy.
We cannot have constructive conversations, healthy debates without the ability to forgive.Marc Casciani on Joe Watkins’ State of Independence, December 9, 2022
When you approach these conversations … approach it as neighbors to neighbors.
And you don’t leave your faith as a public school board member at the door. It helps inform your decisions.
Your not consulting scripture at a school board meeting, but who you are, your DNA, what you believe about life and people and how they should be treated is going to come from a place … and in his case its coming from a very deep well.Jeff Coleman, Producer of State of Independence, December 9, 2022
Thank you, Jarah. Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Jeff. I am humbled by the experiences you blessed me with this past week, and I am honored to call you my daughter, my brother, and my neighbor, respectively.
In 1787, the year The Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, Pennsylvania was given the nickname “The Keystone State,” due to the crucial role it played in the formation of America and its centrality, figuratively and geographically, to the thirteen colonies. A keystone is a term referring to the central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together, which serves as a metaphor for Pennsylvania’s importance to this country. With Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, in the east, and Pittsburgh, which I claim as the City of Neighborly Love, in the west, I pray Pennsylvania continues to serve as the keystone of America’s future as “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”