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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!

343236871_weakness_xlargeListening to an interview of author David Brooks provided some interesting insight:

“I achieved way more career success than I’d ever imagined, and I rediscovered the elemental truth: It doesn’t make you happy. And then I would come across people once a month who just — they just glowed. I remember I was up in Frederick, Md., visiting some people who tutor immigrants; they teach them English and how to read. And I walk in a room — 30 people, mostly women, probably 50 to 80 years old — and they just radiated a generosity of spirit, they radiated a patience and most of all they radiated gratitude for life. And I remember thinking: ‘You know, I’ve achieved career success in life, but I haven’t achieved that. What they have is that inner light that I do not have. And I’ve only got one life — I’d like to at least figure out how to get there.’ And so I really wrote the book to save my soul, if you want to put it grandly, to figure out: How can I be more like that? And writing a book doesn’t get you there, but it at least gives you a road map.”

To some extent, I concur.

I don’t remember the exact commercial, but I will paraphrase, “At 30, I thought about making my first million; At 40, I thought about owning the company; now I ‘m wondering how to get around this track in less than 40 seconds.”

In truth, my career success was different than imagined. I used to think I of having a great career, but I never imagined myself a millionaire. I never thought I would own a company let alone a race car. Thus, neither came to fruition. Like the people Brooks met in Frederick, MD., I did teach English as a second language but never got that inner light.

We all think we’re super important.  Children are told how great they are. They aren’t. We aren’t. But what I’ve learned is that the road to character is built by confronting your own weakness. It is he who conquers his own soul that becomes greater than one who takes a city. The road to success means understanding personal weakness.

This key lesson begins with the process of opening one’s mind to the possibility that one does not know what one thought they knew – that one may not really understand what one thought they really understood.

Poet David Whyte wrote:

We, both as a culture and as individuals, often conflate it with the deceptively similar-sounding yet profoundly different notion of “work/life balance” — a concept rather disheartening upon closer inspection. It implies, after all, that we must counter the downside — that which we must endure in order to make a living — with the upside — that which we long to do in order to feel alive. It implies allocating half of our waking hours to something we begrudge while anxiously awaiting the other half to arrive so we can live already. What a woefully shortchanging way to exist — lest we forget, so speaks Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

There’s much left to do to become better every day.

Find Your Vocation

BurnoutRecently, a friend teetered back and forth about leaving a Midwest University for a small religious seminary. As an instructor in pastoral counseling her skills are exceedingly revered. Mix that with a personal desire to teach pastoral counseling in a religious environment and the potential became alluring.

Leaving her current position as full-time faculty in a Midwest University was about righting the wrongs of her personal life.

I don’t have enough time in a day,” she quipped. “I don’t have enough time for myself. I don’t have enough time for my family. My husband gets whatever’s left at the end of the day … and that’s not much.

But if I take this job, I’m only 20 miuntes from work.

The decision to leave any position for another is taxing. But due to poor financial solvency and decreased interest in religious education, the seminary offered an uncertain employment future.

But there’s such a thing as quality of life. And her life wasn’t it. Therein lays the problem. Looking at all the couples in my life, most find no way to align all of life’s pieces. Compromises and sacrifices litter any lifestyle and money, regardless of income, cannot purchase the one thing wanted – time.

Like basketball’s 24 second shot clock, time is finite. Getting ahead and winning with success is neither ideological or a goal. We awake in the wee hours of the morning to make lists. We’re cut off from the larger community and when we do slow – we get bored – very quickly. Our marriages become business and the hunger for living remains aloof as we beg God for a compass, pray in tears and beg for signs.

From a Buddhist perspective, the cocoon we construct tends to foster a hedonistic lifestyle and it’s likely our lifestyle was cultivated by values far removed from the attitudes and struggle of the ordinary. Our views and goals are etched by Christmas movies and advertising.

When the living Buddha was unable to reconcile his life of protected splendor with the harsh truths of aging, illness, and death, his worldview was challenged. As his realization deepened, he understood that despite privilege, he was not immune to the way life unfolds; he suffered the same fate as others.

No one passes through life without scratches, whether physically or mentally. Without emotions, such as suffering from pain, loving, or laughing, life is not worth living. Yet, in the secret chambers of the mind, most believe the very thoughts and emotions we cultivate are what we deserve. Thus, we suffer because we affirm a life not worth affirming.

We must become people who can overcome, through willpower or higher power, to create a form of life worth repeating. We must find a vocation, not a professional career. What’s the difference? A vocation is an act of love – which is contrary to most professional careers.

Turing“Do you know, this morning I was on a train that went through a city that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. I bought a ticket from a man who would likely be dead if it wasn’t for you. I read up, on my work, a whole field of scientific inquiry that only exists because of you. Now, if you wish you could have been normal … I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren’t.”

~ Character Joan Clarke, The Imitation Game ~

I am haunted by the character’s words.


Well, there’s a ballot initiative that rivals ISIS atrocities, calling for the execution of gays and lesbians. It’s called the Sodomite Suppression Act.

According to the attorney pushing the ballot initiative, the only way to save righteous Californians lives is enacting a “kill the gays measure” found in the Old Testament. The author’s fanatical reasoning is to prevent “all of us from being killed by god’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification shall be put to death by bullets to the head or any other convenient method; this by wise command of the good people of California.

This is not the first time for such stupidity.

In 1982, Congress held its first hearing AIDS. Only one reporter showed. Some Republicans and Reagan administration members cast AIDS as a “gay disease.” One Republican, Rep. Bill Dannemeyer of California, delivered a speech on the House floor titled “What Homosexuals Do” and read graphic descriptions of sexual acts into the Congressional Record. He also pushed to create a government register of AIDS patients, corralling those who were HIV positive into internment and deportation.

Still, our current war against LGBT rights progresses onward. Governor Bobby Jindal supports a Constitutional Marriage Amendment, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Arkansas Govenor Mike Huckabee purport anti-LGBT theology and retired neurosurgeon and possible GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson believes jail turns people gay.

Why must there be war on the LGBT? Why do we need a “Religious Freedom Act?” Does California really need a Sodomite Suppression Act?

Diversity is America’s strength. We aren’t better by being one and the same. If we were the same, all clouds would be the same. Every tree would be the same. Every child would be the same and individuality would disappear and indifference would rise.

If we shot members of the LGBT community, Elton John would be dead and the world doesn’t get Queens, “We Are The Champions.” The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by a gay Michelangelo, would have to be destroyed. Great works of art by Leonardo da Vinci shouldn’t exist; that includes the Mona Lisa and Last Supper. Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker or Swan Lake ceases to exist. There would be no theatrical plays from Tennessee Williams or Stephen Sondheim. Andy Warhol’s groundbreaking Campbell’s Soup Cans painting would be a dream and Independence Day would not have been filmed.

Would we shoot Leonard Matlovich, an openly gay technical sergeant and Vietnam War veteran who received the Purple Heart, before or after he served? Are we willing to forgo Alan Turing’s team cracking Germany’s Enigma code during World War II, shortening the war by two to four years and saving an estimated 14 million to 21 million lives? Last but not least, can any of us condemn the hundreds of thousands gay men and women walking and working in everyday life, performing random miracles love, often unnoticed?

Shooting, killing, intimidating, expropriating the LGBT community’s ability to perform or exchange business services and property is no better than Hitler. All we’d have done is change the decade of occurrence.

Graham Moore stunned and inspired the audience at the 87th Academy Awards with his deeply honest acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game.

When I was 16-years-old I tried to kill myself,” revealed Graham. “Because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different.

America! Stay different.

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