Archive for July, 2019


~ In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. ~

John F. Kennedy

The president wants four young U.S. congresswomen of color to go back to the countries from which they came. It doesn’t matter if they were born in the U.S. or whether they’re United States citizens. Just shut up. Sit down. Or go. Get out.

The love-it-or-leave-it sentiment is xenophobia at its worst. Such vulgarity originated as far back as the 1600s. Still yet, in 1798, our country allowed for the deportation of noncitizens who were considered dangerous, from hostile nations or dared to criticize the federal government.

Unfortunately, such xenophobia remains alive and well. Trump wants anyone different to shut up and be thankful they’re allowed to stay, even if constituents elected them. He communicated this message by relentlessly and culminated with a despicable attack on Ilhan Omar. In defending Trump, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed that the “Squad” represented a “dark underbelly in this country” and that “We are tired of some of these women palling around with terrorists.”

As of this post, no evidence clarifies what the ‘dark underbelly‘ is or that any congressional member palled around with terrorists. But my guess? Conway conjured it up on the fly (i.e., at the moment).

Esquire writer Jack Holmes notes that Trump’s essential message is that America is the government of white people, by white people, for white people. Everyone else? Be happy you’re here.

REPORTER: Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?

TRUMP: It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.

CBS’ Ed O’Keefe spoke to several Trump supporters on Monday who agree.

  • “I know some people don’t like his tweets and they think he’s crass. I — that’s why I voted for him,” said retired businesswoman Mary Lou Kohlhofer.
  • Nancy Schneider even went so far as to echo the sentiment in President Trump’s tweets, saying, “If you think you have it better in your — where you came from or how they did things there, go back where you came from.”
  • Doug Thomas, said, “It’s unfortunate he had to do it the way he had to do it . . . It’s really the only way he can to get this country back.”

My first response to Mr. Thomas? Get the country back? From what and who took it? What exactly did Trump reclaim? Steel jobs? No. Companies returning to the U.S.? Nada. Foxconn’s building the ‘. . . the 8th wonder of the world?’ Hmm, nope.

Foxconn is just a tall tale – very tall. If actress Clara Peller were alive, even she might say, “Where’s the beef?” In June 2018, Trump joined Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou in announcing Foxconn’s plan to bring 13,000 new jobs. With the stroke of a shovel, Trump declared manufacturing was back, and that Wisconsin’s Foxconn plant would be the “eighth wonder of the world.” In the year since, Gou resigned to pursue, and lose, the candidacy for President of Taiwan. A Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin neighborhood got demolished. And there’s neither a plant nor jobs. Just destruction.

Conservative commentator George Will eloquently summarized Trump’s reign with a candid and stark assessment.

“I believe that what this president has done to our culture, to our civic discourse … you cannot unring these bells and you cannot unsay what he has said, and you cannot change that he has now in a very short time made it seem normal for schoolboy taunts and obvious lies to be spun out in a constant stream. I think this will do more lasting damage than Richard Nixon’s surreptitious burglaries did.”

” . . . Presidential norms and the idea of “being presidential” is a meaningless construct. And a lot more “lessons” that will be destructive to the way in which people run for president and act once they get elected.”

Regardless of religion, whether Christian, Buddhist, or Atheism, we must respond to suffering from loving-kindness, wisdom, calm minds, and courage. We should hear the cries of those who suffer and of our most vulnerable. The lineage of one’s non-whiteness, privilege, or citizenship must not be the sole determiner of human’ worth.’ Instead, we must unite with those who hear cries from the wilderness and become a collective force for transformation and love.

In the film Thirteen Days, the character Kenny O’Donnell quoted, “If the sun comes up tomorrow, it is only because of men of goodwill. That is all there is between the devil and us.” From all evidence presented, unless we change our mindset, the devil will be around for quite some time.

Alignment

The President sparked an uproar this past weekend by tweeting unnamed progressive congresswomen “. . . who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.

Trump did not specify the lawmakers, but the interpretation appears to have been Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). All four are U.S. citizens. Only Omar, who was born in Somalia, came to the U.S. as a refugee.

Why does Trump do this stuff? Well, he knows ‘pretty’ and ‘fun’ doesn’t get headlines like fury and outrage. Trump proclaims that he alone is the conservative protector, and regardless of toxicity, he continually forges an ideological fortress of hatred that disembowels others while remaining unscathed by life’s vicissitudes. Asserting the right to engage in public displays of racism without it being called out for what it is. As Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted, “A crucial ingredient here is Trump’s declaration of the ability to flaunt his racism with impunity.”

Trump continually asserts that nonwhites born in America, but has ethnic roots in another country, is in some sense, not a real American. Therefore, they are suspect. What I am ashamed of is how the logic works. It’s not because we are no longer offended by any religious or moral sensibility, but that American’s succumbed to tools birthed in propaganda and a Twitter account. Just like any other rube, we let ourselves be taken in. We chewed on it; bathed in it; and swallowed it whole.

We’ve normalized hatred.

Consider Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill. Graham declined to condemn the President over racist tweets.

We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel. They hate our own country. They’re calling the guards along our border — Border Patrol agents — concentration camp guards. They accuse people who support Israel of doing it for the Benjamins. They’re anti-Semitic. They’re anti-America.”

On Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures, Graham normalized dehumanization, saying:

I don’t care if they (asylum seekers) have to stay in these facilities for 400 days. We’re not going to let those men go that I saw.”

A broader question is, who will ultimately become more powerful? The current GOP administration? Independents? Progressives? As a country, are we to be ruled by the dogma of the ultra-wealthy privileged few or will we toward systemic reform thinkers?

Those in Trump’s orbit would note I lack neither the ruthless business savvy nor charismatic leadership style to overturn anything but the book on my table. For the most part, I remain anonymous, devoid of collaborators, and free from interference as possible. I command my own time; have a regular job; don’t have a vast retirement plan; live alone, and my credit rating is above average. I’ve abandoned any notion of family, having a family or children. And, I accept the fact I will die sometime within the next several years. Alone. Good. I’m OK with it.

The more substantial threat to the establishment lay in future leaders. Like AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley, these young leaders want to create their own platform and their voice. I don’t believe there’s any internal notion of being movie stars. However, they use the same Social Media platforms that propel hate to drive voices of compassion. As such, these voices will neither accept complacency nor complicity, and the current rule of “ruin everything” will not unify future generations.

I may not necessarily believe entirely in the political theology brought forth by AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley. But I admire their willingness to tackle far deeper problems: the fundamental evasion of heart that permeates much of life. The world needs these leaders. The world needs your leadership too.

A person could easily say that like Christ, Buddha was one of the most influential and prominent leaders in history. He created one of the most significant, most well-known religions in the world today. And unlike many of the leaders throughout the dawn of humanity, he did it without hatred or violence. What AOC and others represent is purpose: purpose of ending suffering. Not just for themselves, but everyone.

Authentic leadership comes from deep confidence and understanding of life that enables us to align our compass to a humanistic direction without departing from our humanity. When we fail to follow our calling and vocation, and instead, focus on the most unimportant and trivial, our conscience warns that something’s not right and corrective measures and proactive actions are required. Therefore, we must initiate a conscious effort to dedicate enough time, focus, and energies on positive, meaningful activities and align ourselves to commandments found in the Beatitudes, located in the compassion of Buddha, and bless us with true peace, joy, and fulfillment. These are the values that help us be “human” in a godly sense.

In a real sense, our life is about love–it’s the compass of compassion God requires us to align.

Associate Editor Grace Gedye wrote The Strange Political Silence On Elder Care.

The Article byline is as follows:

Millions of middle-aged women struggle to care for ailing older relatives, and the crisis is only getting worse. So why is no one talking about it?

It’s a subject I’ve talked about for several years.

It’s mandatory reading.

It had been nearly a month before Ms. J. called. Truthfully, having been ticked off that none of the key people I told of my tumor had reached out to me in more than a month, I became frustrated and purposely hadn’t answered her repeated calls for several days. And I get it. Cancer is a word no one wants to hear, especially when it’s so personal.

For those I’ve told, I’m positive my tumor diagnosis created some ripple effect—including my brother, close friends, and business associates. As a result, each will attempt to come to terms with the diagnosis, determine how they’ll interact. Still, even though a tumor entered my life, I presumed I remained the same person as before. Of course there was ‘me‘ before cancer. And surely, there’s the ‘me‘ post tumor. Yet, I kind of thought both were one and the same.

Finally answering the phone, and after some small talk, Ms. J. came to the point.

“You’re too cynical about this. You’re too pessimistic.”

Ms. J.’s comment stuck with me for the past week.

All of my life, people have cried on my shoulder about ‘this,’ ‘that,’ other ‘another.’ I accepted it all. Listened and labored. Inspite of it all, my body will continue to have bad days, but the ‘me‘ inside, refuses. I keep chugging along. I’ve neither called to cry, vent nor endlessly whine of life’s travails. Instead, like thousands of others diagnosed with critical illnesses, I live, work, and continue to do the things that bring joy.

And herein lay the lesson. I’ve learned that nothing happens overnight. The process I am moving through, powers me into self-appreciation, self-knowledge and self-love, and shifts my self-awareness to empowerment. From a Buddhist persepctive, maybe Ms. J. failed to understand my strength. A quote from the television series Kung Fu explains it this way.

The body’s outer strength is self-evident: it fades with age and succumbs to sickness. Then there is personal ch’i, the inner strength. Everyone possesses it. But it is much more difficult to develop. Inner strength will last through every trial and tribulation; through every season; through old age and beyond.

Elaine Howley wrote that our culture reveres positive thinking. But for patients undergoing cancer treatment, the pressure to always look on the bright side can be isolating. Having worked and lived within the medical community for the past decade, I know positive thoughts have little to do with neither survival nor outcome.

So, screw the bright side. When a person’s life took a hard left turn, maybe…just maybe…they want someone to acknowledge them, while simultaneously acknowledging that their body does indeed have shitty days.

Like many in life, maybe we all need to listen more. Several months ago, I told four of my closest friends some horrifying news about my health. Yeah, it’s crappy. But what else was I saying? Am I blunt and painfully realistic? Am I too cheerful and downplaying the seriousness? Am I avoiding giving details?

If you’re a friend to someone in need, follow your friend’s lead. If that person is optimistic, be optimistic. Should that person be down, console. Do not propose one look solely on the bright side. I will not positively embrace the tumor in my neck. I will, however, embrace life.

And that attitude comes from ch’i—my ch’i.

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