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To L&H: Be “Special”

Dear L&H:

Thank you for your wonderful follow-up letter.

During a recent dinner party this past Sunday several guests turned the discussion to personality testing, specifically Enneagrams.  I’m not a psychological expert, but my understanding is that the Enneagram can be seen as a set distinct personality types, with each number of the Enneagram denoting a personality type. As with most, it is common to find a little of yourself in all nine of the types, although one specific type stands out as being closest to you. One Enneagram level is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental. Supposedly, if one is of this level, that person believes they are special.

My ears perked up when one of the guests readily admitted she was “special.” Thinking about my past, the term “special,” has not been uncommon word in my life, for I’ve encountered many who’ve claimed they were truly special. And truthfully, they always thought they either were or are better than either someone else or everyone else. To highlight, I once heard a successful Aquinas Associate, book author and speaker say:

“I am the most interesting person I ever met.”

In April 2015, I penned “You Are Your Greatest Weakness.” Part of that blog is as follows:

“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.”

Nearly three years later, I perceive myself as remarkably average, that there are a lot more interesting people than myself – far too many to name. As such, when someone asks “How do I create an interesting worthwhile and special life” I find no better prose than George Bernard Shaw:

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

L&H, the key caveat of Shaw’s quote is “… being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one …” If you recognize you are being used for a mighty purpose, then you have reached the level of all great social movements wanted to achieve. It is the same level of inner acceptance Christ, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and so many others hoped all would achieve.

I believe the youth of this world will generate a great purpose. Each of you are special. However, ensure your purpose is a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. If achieved, then you will become the force to which mortal men only dream.


Upon hearing White Communications Director Hope Hicks resignation, I ignorantly muttered ‘good riddance,’ as I originally thought she was woefully under qualified for the role. Later I realized I lived neither in Christ nor Buddha.

Sometime in-between last night and morning, I had a change of heart. I can’t compare my situation to that of Hope Hicks. However, bear with me for a few moments from my previous day.

  • Arose to feeling slightly ill, almost exhausted. I sleep more these days and awake feeling ill. Yeah, I know. I know. My heart is telling me I live precariously between life and death. Ignoring the obvious, I down two 20mg tablets of blood pressure medicine with a strong cup of coffee (which my doctor hates). Maybe these will tame the savage beast for another day.
  • Off to my home office. Open email. A 75 year-old coworker employee is driving the client nuts. My company requests me to intervene and keep the project from going off the rails. Several hours of listening to people bitch, whine and moan – done.
  • Ex-wife calls. Depressed she has no friends and no life other than work, she searches for meaning in a hostile world (her term). I listen. And listen. And listen. Two hours of bitch, whine and moan done.
  • Parents call the pseudo Information Technology Help Desk. (That would be me.) Their Apple MacBook Air does not work after upgrading to the latest iOS Operating system. What a surprise. This has happened before, will happen again. Several hours of helping them through a ‘restore’ process, I find they’ve somehow corrupted their system. I will have to send them a replacement. Couple of hours of bitch, whine and moan done.
  • Mom calls several hours later. Dad, whose experiencing early dementia, was checking to see if the patio door was locked, when upon finding he could not open the door, promptly found a hammer, and in the words of my mother, beat the sh** out of the handle. The patio door remains locked, but now the handle has to be replaced. A half-hour of bitching, whining and moaning – done.
  • Ex-wife callers again. Still suffering trauma from not only today, yesterday and the day before, but now suffering trauma in that she was not treated well by her parents during childhood. Now have to listen to all her trials and tribulations. Another hour of bitching, whining and moaning – done.

So how does this all relate to Hope Hicks.  In an October 2014 blog post I wrote titled Good Tired.

There’s two kinds of tired. There’s good tired and there’s bad tired.

Ironically enough, bad tired can be a day that you won. But you won other people’s battles, you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas, other people’s dreams. And when it’s all over, there was very little you in there. And when you hit the hay at night, somehow you toss and turn; you don’t settle easy.

Good tired, ironically enough, can be a day that you lost, but you don’t even have to tell yourself because you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days and when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy, you sleep the sleep of the just and you say ‘take me away.

It’s not often I find myself sympathizing with a Trump Administration teammate. However, after yesterday, I realize Hope Hicks was bad tired. I envision Ms. Hicks saying, “Enough! I am tired of dealing with this adult daycare center and this sh**. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of ‘Bad Tired.’ I need to chase my own dreams.”

In this day, I know all of us have commitments. However, don’t forget to chase a few of your dreams and get Good Tired.

Each of the years spent in the military, I was asked, “Are you ready to die for your country?” Without delay, I would respond “Yes Sir (or Ma’am).”  After each proclamation, I would be provided the tools and training to stay as safe as possible. And maybe I lived in relative naivety, for I never really expected to die or that I would really have to sacrifice my life for another. Yet, there were a few missions that upon return, I changed my underwear and gulped a quick drink.

I look back to these times some thirty-years ago. A half decade of service seemed dramatically different than today. Today, “war zones” are closer and reside in uncommon area rarely seen. Hospitals, work spaces, local ballparks, post offices and schools. By rejecting any gun control efforts, state legislatures are in essence asking the enemies of the past, i.e., out educators, to not only train and educate, but to pay the ultimate sacrifice, as required.

America, we are hypocrites, for we’ve considered teachers as our enemies? You read that right. And I provide one example.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker all but declared war on Wisconsin teachers. In the wake of legislative changes, thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public-sector workers camped out at the Wisconsin Capitol, protesting Walker’s efforts to reduce their take-home pay — by increasing their contribution to their pension plans and health care benefits — and restrict their collective bargaining rights. Walker in essence said, you are the reason we’re (Wisconsin) is broke.

There’s an interesting, strange line at the end of the new film The Big Short, which chronicles the Wall Street doings that caused the economy to crash. In a voiceover near the end of the film, Ryan Gosling tells us that while bigwigs got off without consequences for what they did leading up to the Great Recession, people blame “immigrants, the poor and for the first time, teachers.”

Less than a week after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the Florida State House officially said “fuck you” (2/20/2018) by rejecting a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines. However, lawmakers opened the session with a prayer for the 17 killed. Seventeen people received only a prayer. That’s the legislative equivalent of ‘sucks to be you.’

And the final twist … the US Army is awarding medals for heroism to three students killed in last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Alaina Petty, Peter Wang and Martin Duque, all students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, were also cadets in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program and will receive the Medal of Heroism for their actions in last Wednesday’s shooting. Of course, all the honorees are dead.

Real heroism exists neither in Washington nor in the Florida State House. In today’s world, we ask former enemies to sacrifice their lives for students. In turn, we provide these heroes with nothing but a few days of training. We exhibit a profound lack of leadership to their needs, pay them like shit, and blame them for our lot in life. And yet … and yet … when bullets fly, they willing place themselves between students and assassin.

If you want to honor the ‘agape love‘ Christ and Buddha professed, go to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victim funerals and honor them, their families and their lives.

Unfortunately, Americans prefer guns over teachers. Thus, our real enemy is ignorance and indifference.

The Hope in Death

Hope in death

Our hope in life beyond death is a hope made possible, not by some general sentimental belief in life after death, but by our participation in the life of Christ.

~ Stanley Hauerwas ~


Perform a quick Google search for “hope in death” and you’re likely receive a litany of Bible verses that believers in Jesus have hope beyond physical death. These verses may be wonderful for the average run of the mill believer, but do they apply to those who’ve lost a loved one to violent? In a sea of which few have traveled, finding peace in Christ’s death is hard to align.

Several years ago, a Pastor proclaimed Christ knows your pain. Knows? Christ knows my pain? The sarcastic part of me notes Christ never died via an AK-47 in the hands of a minor not old enough to buy a beer. Had the same teen had the beer, maybe all the subsequent pain could have been avoided. Then again, probably not. Christ never had a limb amputated, never processed of lingering mental and physical therapy required to simply get out of bed and face the world.

In times of tragedy, Buddhism is no different. For Buddhists, there’s a spin that death is part of our natural life-cycle. Many die alone. Oftentimes family members never got to say goodbye, or communicate one last time how much they were loved. Victims of mass shootings experience similar thoughts. In sudden death, trusting in some sort of universal design, we hope our loved one’s spirit remains safe and in the care of higher beings.

So, where’s the hope?

If we really loved these people, then we must try to fulfill their wishes. That’s the proper way to approach it. You see, the best way to keep a memory of that person, the best remembrance, is to see if you can carry on the wishes of that person. Their wish is for us to live.

Christ stated he is with us always, even unto the end (Matthew 28:20). But I offer an alternate meaning. It is through our faith of life that we crush the hatred of death.  Live a life focused on making others proud. And in doing so, moving through the grieving process and, through our faith in living, and the love of family and friends can we begin to heal and move forward. In doing so, many will find their loved ones in many places and ways throughout the day and evening.

You will find your loved ones in a touch on the arm; a dream; a coin appearing in one’s path or a butterfly twirling about. The signs and symbols will be unique to each of us and remind us our loved ones are near. These signs remind us of the unbroken bond that we will always hold. And like Christ, they will be with us always, even unto the end.

Living life fully enriches faith, family and friends. “Living” is very Buddhist, very Christian and crushes death’s hand.

Dear L&H:

Thank you for crossing my blog and making the choice to write me a wonderful personal note. According to your email, you were hoping for a Valentine’s Day message. Well, blew it. Missed it. Sorry.

On a personal note, like many, I struggled with a burdened heart. As Christians know, Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day for peace. Yet, none of us received peace. In the wake of Florida’s shooting, I would not expect any major legislative progress. As many know, Congress has been largely ineffective in passing any meaningful legislation since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting where 20 young children and six adult staff members lost their lives.

February 9th, I wrote an email to a personal friend that pondered a lunch conversation driving back home. I reflected on not only our conversation, but the musings of author Kate Bowler, as she progressed through her cancer diagnosis. Trust me, I will tie these together.

So, I can relate to Bowler’s comments:

“…. a neighbor knocked on our door to tell my husband that everything happens for a reason.”

“I’d love to hear it,” my husband said.

“Pardon?” she said, startled.

“I’d love to hear the reason my wife is dying,” he said, in that sweet and sour way he has.

I know there’s some idiot out there, who responded to the Florida victims with trite, “It’s part of a larger plan.”

For you L&H, I’ll update parts of my friend’s email. I believe the message is timely.  In times of tribulation, many of us have received comments from the well intentioned, some are bizarre, others rude. I include some comments as well as my immediate inner thought response (outlined in parentheses).

  • “It’ll be okay, I just know it.” (Really? That’s great. Tell me how you know?)
  • “Someday this will all be behind you.” (Nope. For many, this event will always be in the forefront.)
  • “Don’t worry, things will get better.” (This does not get better).
  • “So when will you be all better?” (Hmm, like I said, does not get better.)
  • “Live in the moment.” “Be strong.” “Fight hard.” “Keep your chin up.” “Don’t give up.” “Attitude is everything.” (I will remember this when I can barely breathe.)
  • “We’ll pray for a miracle.” (God has risen only two people from the dead. I don’t see it happening in Florida.)
  • “Could be worse.” (Just did. Listening to you confirms it just got worse.)

And the coup de gras of all statements:

  • Everything happens for a reason.”
  • It’s all part of a larger plan.”

To this, I remind myself of Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s comments from “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero:”

You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you better also be able to explain how the plan killed them. And the test of that has nothing to do with saying it in your synagogue or your church. The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried someone and look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to blow your loved one apart. Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their children should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without a parent. And if you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God, but that at least has integrity.

It’s just it’s too easy. That’s my problem with the answer. Not that I think they’re being inauthentic when people say it or being dishonest, it’s just too damn easy. It’s easy because it gets God off the hook. And it’s easy because it gets their religious beliefs off the hook. And right now, everything is on the hook.

I sympathize with all the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims and seriously injured. For them everything’s on the hook.

Yet, several days post incident, I believe there is a sense of hope. First, the real message is to focus on how you treat one another, how you treat yourself, the value of human life. Second, like students who power-packed a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, all of us need to make impassioned pleas for legislation to regulate guns. “We will be the last mass shooting,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez declared to wild cheers.

Emma Gonzalez is declaring that we must get angry. We need to be angry: angry at our lawmakers for doing so little to prevent these catastrophes; angry at our news and entertainment media for simultaneously feeding off these tragedies and fueling them with a steady stream of sensationalism and moral incoherence; angry at ourselves for perversely tolerating these things, and then forgetting them until the next round of violence.

As you know, I believe in many things. I believe in Emma Gonzalez. I believe you T&H. May you become the snapshot of change, archive each moment, and live it. And In all things, know that I have faith in you.

Moving Aside

Colorful foliage in the autumn parkAs we near the end of 2017, I’ve reflected upon my writing and whether to continue this blog. The mission of my blog was to enable readers to see blessings often hidden in plain packages. I asked for acceptance, guidance, and loving kindness to remind me what love is really like, to feel safe and lay my heart open, exposing my journey and soul to your inner light.

Looking back, I’m unsure exactly what my journey was. My blog’s journey started in 2012. And in four years and eight months since, I’ve opined upon many topics, from politics, health, spirituality and so on. Four years and eight months since, I remain unsure exactly what my journey is.

Over the years, I’ve opined on lost neighbors, friends, even blogs. “Ultimatemindsettoday” is gone. Respect Life? Gone. The Buddhist Blog? Gone. Women Active in Buddhism appears to have been updated eons ago, for Aung San Suu Kyi remains listed a hero. Shakya Design closed it’s doors December 2016. Quiet Mountain’s website struggles upon opening. Thus, since life moves on, I removed them this afternoon. Only one has moved forward – Oscar Relentos by publishing a book on Amazon, even noting a reviewer.

During these past years, our global community lost many good politicians, entertainers and sports stars. Also, too many military members died, both home and abroad. Mass shootings interspersed my blogs – Pulse Orlando, Ferguson, Missouri, Connecticut, and Las Vegas just to name a few. Hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters crossed my thoughts. Still, forty-eight months later, did any one specific blog post change anything? Hard to say.

As such, I reflect. How has my blog impacted anyone? Or, maybe more so, “How has my blog positively impacted anyone?” That question, in and of itself, leads to a more contemplative thought, “Have I positively impacted anyone.

Looking back at various blog notes, I had a difficult time comprehending how current events could be mastered by older textual teachings. In a world of Trump-ism and self-importance, it’s hard to envision how the Biblical teachings that I grew by could prevail in a world of hyper-conservatism. Then again, it’s hard to understand how good people would let bad things happen. Yet more often than not, ‘we the people’ ignored our faith and jumped toward a pool of darkness representing itself as the path to glory.

Maybe my blog attempted new horizons, trying to communicate something fresh and exciting. My writing became less about legends and storytelling and focused more on current lessons and the beliefs that a Christ, Buddha, Dr. Martin Luther King, and others maybe would have pressed.

It’s ignorant for me to confess, but in my early twenties I visions of becoming a spiritual master. After seeing the God, who wouldn’t? Right? However, I have learned over the past decades is that real heroes are destined for greatness. But I never experienced such, as most don’t. Borrowing from Harry Chapin I am not a hero. At 58, I’m a tame and toothless tabby who can’t produce a loin’s roar.

The arrogant belief in their own legend. As such, I have no legend. I have no Wikipedia page. Just as politicians are blinded by their own ideals and belief in their own legend, so was the man some thirty or so years ago. What I have realized is that teaching and learning is a two-way street that it is. My own mentees have taught as many lessons as I taught them.

The real lesson is that all things are temporary. Even this blog. As leader and in life, I must move aside.

As 2018 nears, I will end with a quote from Roxanne Gay.

The older we get, the more culturally invisible we become, as writers, as people. But you have your words. Make sure there are people in your life who will have faith in your promise when you can’t.”

Yes … the real lesson all along was to ensure there are people in your life who will have faith in you when you can’t. That’s love. Love’s what it’s all about.

After reading Forbes writer John Wasik article of how the GOP Tax Plan screws the middle class, I doth believe the Ghost of Christmas Hate has arrived.

First, the GOP argument is that an average family earning $60,000 annually nets a couple grand – roughly $2,100 – to which they get to choose how to dispense versus the U.S. Government selection. If you’re Republican, rejoice. Clap. Clap. Applause. Applause. Say, “Amen Brothers!” and “Praise Jesus.” If you’re Democratic, ‘Meh!

So how does the Ghost of Christmas Hate fit? Wasik noted that tax break comes with trade-offs. Two grand never comes free. Since the tax plan adds $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the imbalance is offset by cuts in “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid or tax increases. GOP Senators rarely mentions offsets.

  • Lower Social Security payments by changing payment calculations. Much of that money comes out of the pockets of middle- and working-class taxpayers.
  • As Trump and GOP allies crow about how middle class families will receive a tax cut, other current tax breaks — like personal exemptions and property tax write-offs — get cut.
  • By 2027, anyone making less than $75,000 will have their taxes raised.
  • GOP Tax Bill does not cut corporate loopholes, bring back trillions in offshore cash nor cut defense spending. GOP will reduce the federal deficit by slashing big programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. As such, there will be no help for families paying for long-term care, payroll taxes or college. Monthly Social Security Checks will decrease.
  • People ages 50 to 64 would face average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019. As a result, 4 million more Americans will become uninsured in 2019 and 13 million by 2025, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
  • Even those who argue that the bill’s corporate and income tax cuts will spur economic growth can’t guarantee that any particular American will receive a raise.

Still, there’s positives to the GOP Tax Plan. The Ghost of Christmas Hate left wonderful rich boys and girls some benefits.

First, a quirk. The GOP Tax Plan exempts “private aircraft owners” from taxes on the “maintenance and support of the aircraft owner’s aircraft or flights on the aircraft owner’s aircraft.” I don’t know about you, but I’m glad Trump will not have to pay maintenance and support.

Second, Trump’s claim of “millions” of family farms and businesses suffering from the ‘estate tax’ (i.e., ‘Death Tax’) is not reality. There are no ‘millions.’ There’s no hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands. If the Ghost of Christmas Hate had repealed the ‘estate tax’ last year, approximately 80 of 5,500 of eligible estates would have benefited.

Why? Well, because only morons pay the estate tax.

Most fortunes amassed, like Trump’s, come from investment holdings, 55 percent of which were capital gains. They are rarely subject to tax. For these families, the first $5.49 million isn’t taxed, and careful tax planning can drastically reduce what’s owed on the rest. As Gary Cohn, the White House economic adviser, told a group of Senate Democrats this year, “Only morons pay the estate tax.”

Forbes notes wealthy people begin passing on their wealth to their heirs in the form of “charitable lead trusts” and other “exotic loopholes” long before the Angel of Death arrives. If Trump’s worth the $3.1 billion, as Forbes magazine says Trump is, by eliminating the estate tax excluding almost everyone, the Ghost of Christmas Hate saves Trump Jr., Eris and Ivanka $1.2 billion.

Third, Republicans are preparing to use the swelling deficits made worse by the package as a rationale to pursue their long-held vision: undoing the entitlements of the New Deal and Great Society, leaving government leaner and the safety net skimpier for millions of Americans. Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republicans are beginning to express their big dreams publicly, vowing that next year they will move on to changes in Medicare and Social Security. President Trump told a Missouri rally last week, “We’re going to go into welfare reform.”

Meanwhile, the $2,000 tax break you and I received is funneled back to the IRS, medical care, college costs, taxes, etc., etc., etc.

Happy Holidays from the Ghost of Christmas Hate!

One of the key Buddhist themes is Ahimsa, meaning ‘non-injury‘ or  ‘do no harm.’ Quoting directly from the Insight Meditation Center, “… the importance of upholding one’s personal well being is so great that the Buddha emphasized “one must not give up one’s own welfare for the sake of other people’s welfare, however great.”  In saying this, the Buddha clearly meant working toward one’s highest spiritual welfare ...”

Well, the spiritual welfare of others was discarded in yesterday’s Senate approval of their Tax Bill.

Three Republican senators who bucked their own party in recent months to effectively save Obamacare voted for a tax bill that would gut Obamacare. The GOP Senate tax bill would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires most Americans to have health insurance of some kind or pay a tax penalty. At a minimum, at least thirteen million more Americans will likely be unable to afford insurance.

Maine Senator Collins was one of the original three.

Senator Collins, a holdout against the GOP’s first Affordable Care Act repeal touted changes she claimed to have secured in the Senate tax bill, including deductions for unreimbursed health care costs. Collins also said she reached an agreement with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to pass two proposals designed to offset the elimination of the individual mandate that requires most Americans to buy health insurance.

The New York Times Editorial Board eloquently summarized the Collins sellout.

She (Collins) traded away her vote for an inadequate deduction for property taxes and empty promises from Mr. Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that they would help shore up the A.C.A., which they have repeatedly tried to sabotage.

In separate Twitter posts, Collins justified her vote.

Very pleased @SenateMajLdr committed to support passage of two impt bills before year’s end to mitigate premium increases: Alexander-Murray proposal to help low-income families afford insurance & my bipartisan bill to protect people w/ pre-existing conditions via high-risk 

And second:

I received assurances today that no reduction in Medicare will be triggered by tax bill. See exchange of letters. 

While these letters makes Collins feel better, McConnell offers no assurances. In response to Collins, McConnell wrote:

There is no reason to believe that Congress would act again to prevent a sequester, and we will work to ensure these spending cuts are prevented.

What GOP Senators, Collins included, won’t tell you is that the passage of these subsequent ACA mandate repeal bills is doubtful as House Republicans, including the House Freedom Caucus, have already said repeal bills will not be supported. All Collins did is what most legislators, leaders and business leaders do – she found a way to clear her conscious. “WellI gave it my best shot.”

So, what’s the future? Bleak. Ultimately, the largest healthcare benefits will go to the wealthiest and those that have the most comfortable health care arrangements. The biggest losses fall to poorer Americans who rely on government support or must live with no support.

Bottom line … the GOP healthcare replacement plan is ‘death.’ If you’re lower middle-class or poor, die.

Matt Lauer’s dismissal flashed across the television screen while attending to my father’s aid.  After a Thanksgiving stroke, my father’s condition left little time to review and assess anything more than a few sips of coffee is a silent cafeteria or quick naps listening the ‘beeps,’ ‘burps,’ and ‘swoosh’ of medical devices. Still, even I felt momentarily paralyzed.

Did this paralysis come forth because I knew Matt Lauer? Nope. Never met him or any other morning show host. In fact, I’ve only seen snippets of the ‘Today’ show in the past ten years. Neither have I been a regular purveyor of CBS, ABC, or FOX. If any show does standout, it would be ‘Morning Joe.’ My paralysis came forth not because I was surprised by Lauer’s termination, but rather from having incessantly witnessed harassment throughout my first 15 year career path. ‘Witness’ may be a bad term. Maybe the right word should be ‘trained.’

My early years included stints in the military, a non-for-profit, and an Asian automotive manufacturer. A lot of scenes weren’t pretty and were crude, ugly and demeaning. I simply cannot recall the amount of times I heard ‘pussy,’ ‘nipples,’ ‘dick,’ ‘suck,’ ‘anal,’ ‘breasts’ and whatever. Morning breaks included tallies of women conquered as if one were free-climbing a mountain’s summit. Lunch was about measurements, was she filled, did she scream, ‘glazing the donuts,’ and what’s left on the ‘to-do’ list before dumping the victim like trash strewn off an interstate.

The culture of my era did not tolerate non-compliance, neither male nor female. Intolerance resulted in an immediate career death spiral.  Twenty-years ago, as an employee of the aforementioned Asian automotive manufacturer, I lost my career protecting a female colleague against harassment. Job reviewer particularly noted “… not an effective fit for current company culture.” Seven years later, working as a consultant during an assignment in London, United Kingdom, just across the river from the Parliament building, I again defended a female co-worker being publicly and sexually harassed. The result? Same as before, I was released as part of department restructuring. Strange how I was the only employee ‘restructured.’

While I considered my father to be an upstanding man, he, like all father’s, was not perfect. He did, at one time, have an affair. As such, after reading the accounts of current victims, I wonder if the harassment witnessed in my era engulfed my father’s. There appears to be little difference. And therein lies the problem. Our harassment problem is broader than television or political icons. Harassment is a decades old, even hundreds and hundreds of years.

Over the years, I was never in a position to effectively require ‘sex on demand.’ I was never allowed that type of management position. Looking rearward, the lack of morality or corporate culture witnessed is not an excuse, then nor now. Harassment and sexual control remains just as much part of this world as it was my father’s. What’s changed is the dialogue. And the dialogue is greatly needed.

Many of us who worked and labored came to our workplaces to establish a career. Some found additional power in sex. It’s the leaders of my era who left a trail of pain in our wake. We were practitioners who disgracefully abused roles as leaders and mentors, betraying the trust of coworkers. However, most of us kept a silence on disturbing events swirling about. As told, protect the company. We coddled ourselves into believing the opportunity to learn valued more than our lack of moral strength. And if we said anything, we’d destroy the very careers we were cultivating. Like the good soldiers of A Few Good Men, we justified our actions via words like honor, code, loyalty.

I’ll end with a quote from the movie listed above.

Downey: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!

Dawson: Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves.

As Buddhists, Christians or Atheists, we’re supposed to fight for everyone equally. The problem is, we don’t. We didn’t in my day, neither do we today.

I just noticed my last post, A Recollection of Five Thanksgivings and Lessons Learned.  My last changes were edited at 9:16 AM Eastern. In turn, there are thanks which went unmentioned.

I am thankful for my family, for all they given, for all the effort in which they’ve loved me. Surely, there has been countless times I challenged them otherwise. If not for their love, I would not have overcome my own inadequacies and fallacies.

I am thankful to have been a child under my father’s home. By all accounts, his childhood was extremely difficult and nearly lost his mind. Yet he lived to prosper in his own way, married and gave birth to both me and my brother. I don’t believe I would have made it through my own challenges under another. Then again, maybe I was meant to have been born by him for that very reason.

I am thankful for friends who, regardless of my faith, prayed for my father. I remain quite unsure of prayer’s power, but I saw a sight of Christ never previously experienced. It was the truest form of agape prayer rarely seen, one that has shaken my soul and breathed a power of support I will need. To that experience, I thank my friends and Christ.

I am thankful for Apple FaceTime. Everyday, for the last five years, I was able to connect to my mother and father. Whether it was five minutes or hours, FaceTime provided moments I couldn’t otherwise experience. Just as the song Seasons of Love captured, our days were filled with daylights, sunsets, midnights, and cups of coffee; there were inches, there were miles, there was laughter, there was strife. There was hope, there was reconciliation, there was heart, but most of all, there was love. If not for Apple designers, technicians project managers and leaders managers, my father and I would not have gotten one more hour.

I say all these thanks for one more hour. For an hour after my last post, I potentially witnessed the last moments of my father’s life – via an iPad, through Apple FaceTime. Mid-sentence, my father straightened and fell over. At once, I became the ultimate Buddhist, a witness, a ghost who could see, but could not alter the events on screen. I could see my father and I witnessed the horror of my mother’s futile attempts to assist.

I am thankful for all the countless medical clinicians in a Tucson, AZ hospital who’ve cared for my mother and father. Tests remain – MRI’s, blood tests, physical assessment and so on. But these medical clinicians are direct hands of Christ, God, Buddha or whomever. They are God’s love, given to all.

After 86 years of life, I presume my father’s stroke prepares him for an exit from this life. As I await this final moment, I will no doubt give many more thanks to countless people that I should, but will never remember. I will thank them all for that extra hour.

If my father were able to speak here tonight, he would ask all of you to reach out, hug those you love and tell them how much them mean. So I will ask all you, for him. I know it’s late. But do it. You may get nary an hour more.

God, I am thankful for one more hour.

Bless you all.

News : NPR

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