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imageThe U.S. experienced two extreme discussions regarding racism. The week began with Rachel Dolezal and her belief in being black and ending with nine (9) shot dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The entire discussion of race seems so narrow. In reality, people with ancestors from Northern Europe or Japan tend to have lighter skin than people whose ancestors are from sub-Saharan Africa or Australia. The reason for these differences may have to do with the amount of sunlight in each place and how much melanin you have. The versions of the skin color genes tell your body how much melanin to make. All of this means that the difference between dark and light skin is only a few changes in DNA!

Yet with all these changes, the world uses skin color as the basis for discrimination, hatred and genocide.

Dolezal, who admittedly overstated and embellishing her childhood and ethnic identity, has been the dart board of the internet and television. From Buzzfeed reports to NBC’s Matt Lauer querying her upon whether she was a ‘con artist’ and or ‘Blackface.’ Others attacked her credentials, her family, her life and her accomplishments as if everything of one’s life could be claimed null and void.

Then came Dylann Roof, a bigoted man whose use of racial terrorism was violently displayed. Roof’s actions were designed to strike terror and fear. Yet, what ultimately occurred was a lesson of courage and grace. One relative claimed:

Everyone’s plea for your (Dylann Roof) soul is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win.

So who’s crime was worse? Dolezal or Roof?

What Dolezal critics missed is that by comparison to Roof, Dolezal claimed to have felt a spiritual, visceral, this feeling of central connection with black, embracing its beauty and wanting to celebrate that experience.

Her critics also negated her love and work.

They really don’t know what I’ve actually walked through and how hard it is. This has not been something that just is a casual, you know come-and-go sort of identity you know, or an identity crisis. It’s something that I’ve paid away.”

And through all the media and web mud slinging, has any journalist reported of her accomplishments?

“I don’t think anything that I have done with regard to the movement, my work, my life, my identity, I mean, it’s all been very thoughtful and careful, sometimes decisions have been made for survival reasons or to protect people that I love,” Dolezal said.

Many have struggled with questions of how to forgive those who carry out those horrendous acts. In a time of such deep grief, how do you forgive the unforgivable? Forgiveness is a spiritual practice. As such, forgiveness has been taught by Jesus, the Buddha, and many other spiritual teachers.

Practice forgiveness for our own sake, to be unlocked from anger, fear, and resentment. Doing otherwise gives those who wronged you an even greater victory than their original act. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church family members and vistims embraced forgiveness in a beautiful act of selflessness, something that can attempt to stop the seemingly endless cycle of hatred.

Ethel Lance’s daughter said:

“You (Roof) took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you. And [may God] have mercy on your soul.”

Myra Thompson’s relative, Anthony Thompson, told Roof:

“I forgive you and my family forgives you,” he said.

Forgiveness is poignantly illustrated in a well-known Tibetan Buddhist story about two monks who encounter each other some years after prison release where they were tortured.

Have you forgiven them?” asked the first.

I will never forgive them! Never!” replied the second.

Well, I guess they still have you in prison, don’t they?

In the spirit of forgiveness, it’s time to forgive Dolezal. Let her continue the mission of rights equality.

imageThe Daily Show skewered Casebolt’s use of force at Texas pool party. Add to that Officer’s Casebolt resignation as well as dual McKinney protests: one seeking a pound of flesh with another offering support. Civil rights leaders in McKinney said they want an investigation by the US justice department. Some McKinney parents burnt an American Flag, with a child hidden behind a Halloween mask (great lesson there).

Just about everyone wants a piece of Casebolt’s arse. All-in-all, McKinney police Cpl. Eric Casebolt had a lousy week. More than likely, he’ll have a lot more.

There are groups who are focused on the specific incident at the pool party, there are groups who want to address broader issues of inequality. Some wanted Police Cpl. Eric Casebolt fired, others want him indicted. This isn’t an easy issue to tackle, and the protesters all brought a unique view and set of goals.

While McKinney, Texas may be listed as the number one place to live, equality issues exist everywhere. Given the fact no one was shot and that no mother or father had to be told a child died, I’m amazed at the lack of grace and dialogue.

Casebolt’s actions should be critiqued, but extracting a pound of flesh won’t transform anyone’s world into a center of peace and tranquility. This is a social justice issue. It’s not just about how a police officer handled a crowd, but it’s about everything we do as adults, how we view others and what we tach our children.

If media reports are accurate, here’s a recap of events:

  • The pool party was organized by 20-year-old Tatyana Rhodes, and her mother LaShana Burks. The event was unapproved and unauthorized, turned into a mob and cost the community thousands.
  • Tatyana Rhodes claims she’s a teenager. In reality, she’s a 20 year-old adult.
  • Ms. Rhodes hired a DJ and promoted the event to include a pool party.
  • There are numerous social media links reflecting that Ms. Rhodes organizes ‘parties’ and charges for attendance, as a profit generating business.
  • According to Rhodes and Burkes they were unable to control the growing crowd;
  • 100+ teens (and many young adults) turned into a mob of partygoers and began jumping the fence to the gated pool.
  • Police arrived after receiving calls regarding teens “actively fighting.” Reports that some teens and adults began fighting after an adult(s) made racist comments, reportedly telling the organizer to “return to Section 8 housing.
  • Police Officer gets filmed by cell phone.

In summary, parents and or adults created this shit. Residents then called police to clean up their shit. But residents claimed police mishandled their shit…that their shit has to be treated better…have the courtesy to handle their shit with care. Residents then had the gall to film and skewer a police officer for dealing with their shit, in essence saying, “Don’t look at me, but let me tell you about that officer. Holy Shit

As a Buddhist, I agree the officer should have been disciplined. But grace was the prudent course of action.

You can’t talk your way out of problems that you behaved yourself into (S. Covey).

In the end, Social Justice cannot be the excuse for personal failure.

That’s what Jon Stewart missed.

YenSidhouseofmouseLike a bad dream, Yen Sid, the powerful sorcerer, called in approximately 250 Disney IT workers and said, “Your job has been eliminated. And oh! We need you to train your replacement – from India.”

The New Times reported this week that Walt Disney World fired 250 employees, hired Indian workers on a temporary visa and then made the outgoing Americans train their replacements.

The Times story reported Disney used a temporary visa known as the H-1B to hire new workers from an Indian based outsourcing firm. The H-1B program was designed to allow American companies to import highly skilled foreigners for jobs they cannot find Americans to perform, but as always, the program is rife with loopholes and abuses.

Companies claim to use H-1B visas so they can attract the “best and brightest people in the world.” However, if you squint really hard, you’ll be able to read “…for less money than they have to pay U.S. workers.

An excellent article by Martin Kaste for NPR’s All Tech Considered, talks about what many believe is possibly really behind all the kumbayah all-hands-across-the-water, increase-the-cap movements:

“For the past decade, he’s [Ron Hira, a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology] been studying how consulting firms use temporary work visas to help American companies cut costs. He says they use the visas to supply cheaper workers here, but also to smooth the transfer of American jobs to information-technology centers overseas.”

Kaste further noted that H-1B consultancies are especially big in banking, insurance and pretty much any industry that runs on big computer systems maintained by aging, increasingly expensive American tech workers.

Think about this the next time you visit Disney. All hail Yen Sid!

WhiplashI apologize to all my readers for being off the radar for the last 20 days. I thought I could weed through recurring heart palpitations, but I had to drastically change my entire lifestyle, including diet, exercise, stress and a few other items.

While off, I had an opportunity to watch Damien Sayre Chazelle’s second film Whiplash. Whiplash glorifies the grueling and bloody drive to become better, to push harder than body and soul should allow. There’s this inane recurring idea in both film and life that to reach the pinnacle of your career, one must be tortured by said career.

According to Terence Fletcher, the sadistic jazz instructor, “Good Job” are the two most harmful words in the English language. If you’re not driven mad to perfection, then you’re some kind reprobate who’s comforted by a ‘good job’ mentality and never destined for glory.

This was emphasized by one blogger:

That life isn’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward! That the next champion never gets discouraged! That you have to sacrifice in order to achieve success!

I see this movie being used in business schools across America as a symbol for god-awful leadership. Yet many, whether budding artist or venture capitalist, willingly surrender each day to some sadistic teacher in the name of greatness. Just as Fletcher slaps his student (Andrew) in tempo, throws chairs and uses his student’s personal information to humiliate him, boardrooms across America regularly accept such a leadership style.

Echoing this theme, another blogger wrote:

Being successful in following our passion requires delivering more than what we could ever expect. And sometimes we need someone who defies our ability to focus and be resilient. The good news is that when you finally do it, it’s because you found your passion. 

And as Confucius said: “Find a job that you love and you will never have to work for a day in your life.”

I doubt that’s what Confucius had in mind, but Christian preachers use ‘prosperity gospel’ messaging much the same way. In his book Your Best Life Now, Joel Olsteen states:

“If you are believing for your child to find God, go help somebody else’s child to develop a relationship with God. If you’re struggling financially, go out and help somebody who has less than you have … f you want to reap financial blessings, you must sow financial seeds in the lives of others … If you want to see healing and restoration come to your life, go out and help somebody else get well” (pp. 224, 250-51).

Everyone looks at such teachers and drop in awe. But for most of us, achieving one’s pinnacle shouldn’t be filled with exhaustion and desperation. Doing so makes one emotionally vulnerable. That’s what happens in Whiplash and in life.

What of the millions who are searching, hoping and desperate? What of their search? We owe it to them to not tolerate such leaders.

Here are real lessons from Whiplash:

  • Negative attack ads and partisan speeches only create conflict.
  • Being a leader involves stress, conflict, and more work that anyone can imagine. Meditating has been shown to have many health benefits, but more importantly it can help you center yourself after a long day and build up your mental calmness.
  • Make the best use of your words ensuring you do not create false speech, abusive speech, or speech that creates division.  Bring people together, not apart.
  • Although a leader cannot make all these things go away in a modern world, they can help create the conditions to make them less desirable or needed.

The Buddha noted:

Being a ruler requires clear understanding: study the past and present, know when to be active and passive, temper force with mercy, be kind to one’s subordinates, benefit the people, and give equally.

What’s your leadership style?

AP_Jade_Helm_15_ml_150508_16x9_992I scrutinized Dallas Fort-Worth Airport while our plane landed in Dallas. During a brief two-hour layover, I wondered how many special forces were ready at the helm, to take over the airport and Texas as a whole. But alas … I survived.

For those out of the loop, Jade Helm 15 is a scheduled special forces training exercise across seven Southwestern states. Sparked by the stupid and associated conspiracy theories, public officials have heard inquiries from whether this may in fact be just an exercise to whether all seven states would experience martial law. Others claim Jade Helm might be part of a plot to give Texas back to Mexico, a prelude to an economic collapse, Wal-Mart store closings are really holding grounds for troops or an entry point to a series of secret underground tunnels.

One resident brought a sign to last month’s Bastrop County Commissioner’s Court hearing that read, “No Gestapo in Bastropo.” This led Todd Smith, a Republican lawyer and former state legislator, to accuse the governor of “pandering to idiots” and legitimizing paranoid right-wing machinations. Still, Governor Greg Abbott asked the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation; effectively authorizing the government to monitor the government.

Op-Ed writer James C. Moore hit the stupidity of Jade Helm’s reaction in his CNN Opinion “We Texans are brave enough to resist Pentagon:

“While Gen. Travis laid in a supply of extra “beeves” in advance of the Mexican assault from Gen. Santa Anna at the Alamo, we are fearful of running low on Slim Jims and Moon Pies as the Wal-Mart’s are turned into detention centers for citizens robbed of their constitutional rights. As POWs (Prisoners of Wal-Mart), we expect to be put to work in the sporting goods department against our will while earning below minimum wage.”

As a Buddhist, I understand many of the fears we all have. We have fears of terrorism, fears of death, fears of being separated from people we love, fears of losing control, fears of commitment, fears of failure, fears of rejection, fears of unemployment, etc. Many of our present fears are rooted in what Buddha identified as “delusions” – distorted ways of looking at the world and ourselves.

If we learn to control our mind, and reduce and eventually eliminate these delusions, the source of all our fear, healthy and unhealthy, is eradicated. We cannot control whether things will go our way or not, but we can learn to control our own minds, our responses, and our own conduct, and in this way gradually find a genuine liberation from all fear.

As Shantideva says in Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:

Buddha, the Able One, says,

‘Thus, all fears

And all infinite sufferings

Arise from the mind’.”

Or, we could do as Mr. Moore suggested:

“… be not afraid, America. We are Texans. We will resist logic and intelligence to the very end. And we will keep up our traditions. From the Alamo to the Battle of Goliad, the Confederacy, LBJ’s Vietnam, George W. Bush’s Iraq War, and even Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys, we have a long legacy of losing. And the odds are also against us in the coming Battle of Jade Helm, but we expect to prevail against the invaders, and we will not give up our rights.

Or our air conditioning, cold beer, and Slim Jims.”

bs-md-protests-20141210-001You are suggesting this idea that broken windows are worse than broken spines, right? Freddie Gray will never be back. Those windows will.

~DeRay McKesson to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer~

This past Sunday, I caught the dialogue between Sally Kohn and LZ Ganderson on CNN’s Reliable Sources. At the end of day, Mr. Ganderson posed a question, after all that’s been said and done in Baltimore, “Will anyone care?” Does America want change? Are we really committed to making lasting change?

As I thought about his question, DeRay McKesson’s activism proliferates my thoughts. Can society dialogue without destruction?

I want to believe there is a way to protest that is more than marching but not bloodshed,“ DeRay McKesson told The Washington Post.

And that’s where the protest movement fails. Against the long road of progress, protesting is easier. It’s quick. Raising the conscious thought of America is one thing. Making a last impact in society in and of itself is exhausting.

McKesson emerged from Ferguson a prominent organizer and activist. However, in the wake of Baltimore, Ferguson, New York and others, McKesson’s “Word To Action” online newsletter is nothing more than a list of tweets and quips. Little content actually brings people together to promote solutions.

To highlight, McKesson’s tweeted,

We have become too casual with the word violence — it refers to harm done to people. The police are the only violent ones here” and “Property damage is not violence, it is property damage. Violence is when people are hurt, injured, harmed. The police have been violent.”

Sometimes windows are never replaced. Sometimes businesses close. The Baltimore Sun reported that in addition to damaging an estimated 200 businesses, rioters torched 144 cars, including both police and civilian vehicles. City restaurants lost millions of dollars from a weeklong curfew and fear from long-term harm to Baltimore’s image.

In December 2014, the Baltimore Sun also noted,

The symbolic starkness of medical students sworn to save lives participating in a demonstration known as a “die in” showed just how wide-reaching protests have become.

“People of all races, all different types of people and all different kinds of organizations — not just civil rights organizations — are taking part,” Baltimore NAACP chapter president Tessa Hill-Aston said. “Everyone is seeing that there’s something wrong.”

Empowerment Temple of Baltimore has asked its congregants to wear black to Sunday services in honor of “unnamed African-Americans who have been brutally murdered by police,” church spokeswoman Nicole Kirby said.

So I ask, will society institute police reforms but fail to alter the culture? In and of themselves, police can’t resolve public problems alone. Ferguson’s city council passed several bills to establish a police review board, set limits on excessive court fines and fees exposed after Brown’s death. But substantive much-needed infrastructure investment and community solutions throughout America remains aloof. Solving racial disparity requires a variety of stakeholders creating bold initiatives and solutions that imprint new educational standards, employment and societal opportunities. Little of that effort exists.

To end, I paraphrase poet Ted Hughes. Wherever life takes me by surprise, and suddenly the artificiality proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, it is then we must throw ourselves into the front line. That’ what these moments require. It’s where society must come alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. We must call upon our own resources—those real inner resources, to account, and love, to give, to provide comfort, to enjoy the simple notion that giving unto the man next to me is a worthy and just cause.

As Buddha said: live like a mighty river. Make plans and solutions as though they are the manna of life, then partake partake partake. This is how we get to where we need to be. Protesting is only an act. If any life matters, solutions are mandatory.

PrayforBaltimore-copyChants of “no justice, no peace, no racist police” echoed through Baltimore streets Saturday in a march organizers dubbed as a “victory rally.” Pastor Michael Crawford homilized “Satan wants our city, and he can’t have it. We were born for this hour and we will fight this right away — on our knees.” Crawford further alluded to principalities and powers of darkness being everywhere, but God was greater.

The victory rally came amid a surreal week in “Charm City,” where Edgar Allen Poe eloquently wrote “There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion.” Here’s a few of the bizarre I saw:

  • Rashid Wiggins sold $10 shirts with the slogan, with “I Matter.” Apparently $10 will ensure one matters;
  • Protesters charged police with “kidnapping” a prominent black community organizer. Never mind the fact the protester was arrested for violating curfew;
  • CNN’s Brooke Baldwin decided to blame the Baltimore riots on returning veterans;
  • Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played in an empty stadium; and
  • The Ad Council used an ill-advised Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting a Caregiver Assistance program that included the background audio of a TV news anchor announcing:

Riots nationwide have prompted local governments to declare martial law….the President is asking that citizens find safety and remain calm….authorities are working to contain the outbreak.”

I pondered this mess while watching a lone protester stand in front of the burned-out CVS with sign reading “God heard our prayers.”

Seriously? God heard our prayers?

Let’s highlight some of the insanity.

In Baltimore, police and civilian vehicles were destroyed, businesses looted, and as of this writing, fifteen officers injured.  In summary, Baltimore tallied:

  • 200 Arrests;
  • 15 Structural Fires;
  • 144 Vehicle Fires;
  • National Guard;
  • Curfew;
  • Citizens Attacked; and
  • Police Officers Indicted.

In the wake of Michael Brown, Ferguson recorded:

  • 80 arrests;
  • Over 100 gunshots;
  • 25 buildings burned and/or looted; and
  • Vandalized police cars in Ferguson, Missouri.

Oakland, California residents notched the following in marches for Michael Brown:

  • A looted Starbucks
  • Smart & Final had liquor cabinets pulled off
  • Chase Bank had two front doors smashed
  • Wells Fargo (targeted in previous Occupy and Trayvon Martin protests) experienced broken widows
  • 40 people arrested on charges ranging from assault on a police officer, to vandalism, burglary, public intoxication, and refusal to disperse
  • Officers pelted with rocks, bottles paint and fireworks.

But hey, God answered our prayers. It’s such a wonderful example of God’s intervention. Isn’t it?

I’m amazed how people attempt to find meaning in the absurdity. Truthfully, God answered nothing. The only principality was ignorance and intolerance. They were bred from our inhumanity – bred from deep within our soul.

If that CVS protester was right and God answered Baltimore’s prayer, then His message to those who lost a business was … what? To those who were attacked, did God ordain that?  Was God’s hand of justification empowered through a young prosecutor, the indicted officers or both? To those who lost jobs as a result of destruction, did God answer their prayers as well? I mean maybe they didn’t want to go to work that day. Did God get the prayer wrong, simply fuck up and make a mistake? “Oops, my bad,” God exclaimed.

A part of me wants to yell, “God answered Baltimore’s prayer, but Bosnia, Rwanda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hiroshima and Nazi death camps were God’s plan? How many people go to bed hungry every night? And now you’re praying for the ‘God of justice?

Borrowing from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, I openly ask anyone to tell me about God’s plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how His plan answered Baltimore, you better also be able to explain how the plan wiped out so many who had nothing to do with either Gray or the officers. The test has to do with going and saying it to the person whose business burnt down. Look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to wipe them out but justice was served. I don’t worship that God, but at least you have integrity.

Presidential Candidates Speak at Faith and Freedom in IowaThis past weekend, Senator Ted Cruz told the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition summit that Democrats had gone to extremes in their persecution of Christians. Cruz said same-sex marriage had produced rabid zealotry in Democratic ranks. This ideology, he argued, was excluding people of faith.

Today’s Democratic Party has become so radicalized for legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states that there is no longer any room for religious liberty.” He also noted the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four states’ same-sex marriage cases this week and said that between not and then, conservatives must “fall to our knees and pray.”

I know Cruz was speaking to a largely conservative crowd. I get it. Still, all that aside, everyone must fall to knees and pray to God? Over gay marriage?  With all due respect, his stance lacks leadership.

I have no ill-will against gay/lesbian marriage. But I believe both God and our knees deserve better issues for which to pray. Healthcare and Baltimore are two.

On the medical front, a new study in a UK medical journal estimated two-thirds of the world’s population has no access to safe and affordable surgery. It means millions of people die from treatable conditions such as appendicitis and obstructed labor.

Most of those live in low and middle-income countries.  Ninety-three percent (93%) of people in sub-Saharan Africa cannot obtain basic surgical care. In essence, people are dying and living with disabilities that could be avoided with good surgical treatment. Instead, they suffer and are pushed into poverty trying to access surgical care for a quarter who have an operation cannot afford it.

Numbers of trained surgical specialists per 100,000:

  • UK: 35
  • US: 36
  • Brazil 35
  • Japan 17
  • South Africa: 7
  • Bangladesh 1.7
  • Sierra Leone (before Ebola): 0.1

In Baltimore, Maryland, peaceful protests quickly turned into violent riots Saturday evening, closing down the city of Baltimore and creating a panic for thousands of residents. Rioters flooded the streets, throwing rocks and attacking police officers. Reaction on social media was swift, ranging from calls to protest versus appeals to prayer. Some condoned the violence, others pleaded for calm.

Rather than dropping to our knees over gay marriage, the Buddha tried to convey his understanding that the world we inhabit is engulfed in the fires of suffering from deluded impulses. These are fires of greed, hatred, prejudice and ignorance, raging fiercely in the hearts of people. These fires are the basic cause of the suffering.

The violence current engulfing Baltimore is commonly found within families, schools and in local communities. Deep hatred traced to near or distant historical events have given rise to intractable ethnic and racial conflicts. In some cases, such historical hatred is bound up with religious causes or identities, and finds expression in terror and random killing.

Through spiritual practice the energy found within deluded impulses can be transformed into the illuminating “flame” of enlightened wisdom. Thus, all the fires raging within us can be subdued so that they no longer produce confusion and disruption; they can no longer drive us to act in a bizarre and destructive manner. It is for this reason that this transcendence of deluded impulses is known as inner tranquility.

Tranquility and healthcare are worth praying for.

imageCNN reported the family of Michael Brown filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Ferguson under Missouri’s “wrongful death statute.” The family suit seeks punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, in addition to attorney fees. My guess? The family will get millions.

The Brown family lawsuit raised an interesting question that I’ve pondered for several hours: “Once there’s a settlement, can the Brown family be sued by a destroyed Ferguson business owner?

Recollecting, as Louis Head (Michael Brown’s stepfather) consoled Brown’s distraught mother after the grand jury announcement, he turned to the crowd of demonstrators and said, ‘Burn this motherfucker down’ and ‘Burn this bitch down.’ While Mr. Head apologized the following day, riots left parts of Ferguson a burning wreck.

In a subsequent police investigation, Mr. Head issued a statement saying that while sorry for screaming ‘Burn this bitch down!‘, to arrest and charge him ‘goes way too far and is as wrong as the decision (of the grand jury) itself.‘ Granted, that stance may be good against criminal prosecution, but how about civil court, where the burden of proof is only a preponderance of evidence?

Should mobs get a free pass to riot and steal in response to unwelcome political outcome? Remember, approximately 25 structures in Ferguson were burned, damaged, or destroyed during riots following the grand jury verdict. Has any of the protesters paid for damage sustained? Sam Chow, an immigrant opened a Ferguson restaurant in 2009. His restaurant practically whipped. Where’s the outrage for the death of Zemir Begic? Begic, a young immigrant who fled violence in Bosnia, was driving home with his fiancée 20 miles away from Ferguson when black teens beat him to death. I don’t recall a single protester speaking for him.

I ponder the outcome of a black business owner’s civil suit against Louis Head and the Brown family for punitive and compensatory damages, especially when statements “Burn this bitch down” contributed to inciting the riots. From prima facia value, if we honor the choice to not prosecute Mr. Head based upon Head’s claim that prosecuting him ‘goes way too far and is as wrong as the decision (of the grand jury) itself,‘ then should business owners completely ignore the option to litigate civily?

At the end of the day, no one can stand in the court of public opinion and shout ‘Look over yonder, but don’t look here (at me).’ Responsibility applies everyone equally – to you, me and Mr. Head.

imageI’ve not heard as much about ‘Earth Day’ as previous years. Either I’m in a cloud or there isn’t much demand for Earth Day anymore. That doesn’t mean I’ve totally forgotten either.

I still remember a little known truth about the self-described founder of a Earth Day: He murdered and composted his girlfriend. Yes. Yes. Self-proclaimed Earth Day co-founder Ira Einhorn had a dark side. In 2011, NBC News reported Einhorn was found guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend and stuffing her “composted” body inside a trunk.

Earth Day was created in the spring of 1970 to raise awareness of and take action on the pressing environmental issues of the time. Einhorn was master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day celebration at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. He still maintains the holiday was his idea and he was responsible for launching it, though most activists credit Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson.

So all nonsense aside, what’s continually captured my imagination has been an often neglected story of water … or lack thereof. Five years ago, while working with the government, I ran across an odd U.S. Report detailing high-level plans to relocate millions from the Southwest to the North/Northeast. The water lifeline to the Southwest, the Colorado River, has been divided according to the 1922 Colorado River Compac. Subsequently, more water has been apportioned than exists. Water flow in the Colorado River — which supplies water to more than 30 million people in the Southwest including Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas — has declined. Water shortage numbers grow worse with each succeeding drought.

As a result, water is the #1 global risk impact to society (as a measure of devastation) and #8 global risk based on likelihood of occurring within 10 years (as announced by the World Economic Forum). There are 358 million people with little to no access to water in Africa. In developed countries such as the United States, Canada, parts of Europe and Russia, that number totals 9 million. To combat drought in it’s own state, California announced sweeping statewide water restrictions for the first time in history.

Since today is Earth Day, I rounded up a few easily researched items about water. Compare the water footprint for a variety of products.

  • 9 gallons of water to produce 1 glass of soy milk;
  • 23 gallons of water to produce 1 glass of almond milk;
  • 30 gallons of water to produce 1 glass of regular milk;
  • 35 gallons of water to produce 1 regular yogurt;
  • 41 gallons of water to produce 1 regular size scoop of ice cream;
  • 50 gallons of water to produce 2 slices of cheese;
  • 90 gallons of water to produce 1 regular size Greek yogurt;
  • 109 gallons of water to produce 1 stick of butter;
  • 1,500 gallons of water are needed to manufacture a desktop computer;
  • 32,000 gallons of water is needed to make the steel for one automobile; and
  • 1,700,000 gallons of water per day is required to cool NSA’s Bluffdale, Utah datacenter, with only a third being recycled.

In 2011, The Buddha Blog noted the Buddha’s teaching on walking the middle ground between extremes of over-consumption and austerity fits perfectly into the modern, environmental practice of living in balance with nature. It’s what we speak of today as “sustainability” or living within our means. It’s not necessary to live like a cave man to be an environmentalist in the Buddhist sense, as that would be living out of balance in austerity. It’s structuring our lives, so that when we utilize nature’s resources, we do it in a balanced and sustainable way.

The environment is on loan to us from future generations. Let’s not ruin it for them–and us. Happy Earth Day!

www.civilengineers.com.bd

www.civilengineers.com.bd

Elan Mudrow

The Ridges of Intertextuallity

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