Category: Faith & Doubt


Puerto RicoCNN writer Eric Levenson wrote, “Almost a week since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the US recovery efforts there have been markedly different from the recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. Fewer FEMA personnel are in place. Grassroots donations from fellow Americans are much smaller. The US territory still remains without power. And President Donald Trump has yet to visit.

Levenson noted the response effort.

  • Hurricane Harvey: For Hurricane Harvey, FEMA had supplies and personnel positioned in Texas before the storm made landfall on August 25.
  • Hurricane Irma: Even more federal personnel responded to Hurricane Irma when it made landfall in Florida on September 10.
  • Hurricane Maria: By comparison, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have seen much fewer personnel since Hurricane Maria hit, according to FEMA.

Trump stated hurricane relief to Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands were hampered due to the fact of the large, big, huge ocean … water all around. Water water everywhere. Taking to Twitter, Trump noted the island’s political leaders can’t get their own people to help.

“... Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help …. want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.

In reality, the current administration’s use of assistance comes to simple mathematics. If you reside in an area needed by the administration, you are in luck. If you reside outside that geopolitical need, you’re screwed.

A Hard Truth

The total population of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont equals roughly 3.2 million. And the population of Puerto Rico? Approximately 3.4 million. Now if Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were hit by a major hurricane, Trump’s administration would respond immediately.

So why not for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands?

It’s all about voting rights. At the end of the day, voting rights of United States citizens in Puerto Rico, like the voting rights of residents of other United States territories, do not have voting representation in the United States Congress and are not entitled to electoral votes for President. In each Presidential election, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have a combined 11 electoral votes. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have zero. Texas has 38 and Florida has 29. If you’re an American President seeking reelection, you don’t shaft Texas or Florida.

However, if Trump shafts Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, there’s no lasting political repercussion. Trump can call Puerto Ricans lazy, overstate relief efforts such as “… all buildings have been inspected and this is a great news story.

Here’s another Trump tidbit.

“We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico,” Trump said. “Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates … people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military.”

Basically, Puerto Rico can die a slow death and nothing will happen. The greater US may be horrified. We’ll “Tsk! Tsk!” at the water-cooler. But truth be told, most won’t care and neither will many legislators. However, if we’re called by Christian or Buddhist faith, then we care called to change the world. Each of us must become socially engaged. We must also challenge and repel hatred, anger and bias, even those found within our own leadership. As such, we must become aligned and engaged upon the ethical precepts of our faith.

If we don’t, all of us will eventually succumb to geopolitical numbers.

President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) reads like a modified Dickens’ novel.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going to Hell …

Here’s one tale of the President’s action.

In dodging the press, Attorney General (aka “I Can’t Remember”) Sessions referred to DACA as unconstitutional and criticized it as:

“… unilateral executive amnesty that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens. We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the interest of the nation.

The decision could affect as many as 800,000. These participants are known and registered for the program since its inception in 2012. Immigrant rights advocates state 200,000 more have sought legal status through DACA.

GOP lawmakers and constituents have hammered the public of the consequences of DACA participants and immigrants denying jobs to hundreds of Americans. However, CNN Money claims experts say repealing DACA would worsen the shortage of workers in the United States. “Getting rid of DACA reduces the number of skilled workers and a lot of industries are facing worker shortages. To push this now is really an inopportune time.

And the other tale of President’s action?

President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida filed requests with the government on Thursday to hire 70 temporary foreign workers as cooks, housekeepers and servers at the private club, according to records posted by the Labor Department. The jobs would begin on October 1 and end in May 2018. These positions would take advantage of the H-2B visa program, which allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nations to the country for temporary, non-agricultural work.

The irony is that the Trump administration moved to expand the H-2B program saying it would offers an additional 15,000 visas because not enough American workers are willing or able to fill the country’s employment needs for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year.

What Trump and Sessions represent is a form of “Scarcity Mentality” from Stephen Covey. As the Trump administration progresses, maybe they see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. Accordingly, as Job noted “They thrust the needy from the path and force all the poor of the land into hiding.” Maybe what Trump appears to say is that the odds of economic advancement differ considerably based on family, race, neighborhood, and other factors. If you’re someone otherwise classified as non-American, you will not escape the income category we’ve defined.

To enforce this vision, in a little-noticed April 2015 speech during the Texas Patriot’s PAC, Trump talked about people crossing the border illegally in the same breath as foreign goods.

“Everything’s coming across the border: the illegals, the cars, the whole thing. It’s like a big mess. Blah. It’s like vomit.”

In a Trump world, DACA registrants represent the worst. They’re vomit. However, if you’re a foreign cook at Mar-a-Lago, you represent the best. Yet Christ, Buddha, Dr. Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa saw the best in the marginalized, those considered no better than vomit.

So, review your life. What represents the best of times? What represents the worst? How would God see your choices?

Imbueding

Commentator Jay Busbee wrote of Tiger Woods continuing back dilemmas.

“The clue was right there, buried deep in an otherwise routine Tiger Woods interview last week: ‘I feel good, not great,’ Woods said. ‘I don’t think I’ll ever feel great, because it’s three back surgeries, four knee operations…’

I feel good, not great. For Woods, who has spent an entire career insisting, often in the face of all sane evidence, that he wasn’t just great, he was greater than you could imagine, this was a remarkable concession. This was a man laying down his sword and shield. This was surrender.”

I read no further into Busbee’s article. That’s not to say Busbee’s analysis wasn’t spot-on. Busbee could be right.  Yet, I have no prolonged thoughts of Tiger Woods. Regardless of what’s occurred or hasn’t occurred in Woods’ life, I wish him all the best.

My thoughts are personal. Laying in bed, unable to move due to the Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, disabling neck pain and circulatory problems, I experienced my own personal “remarkable concession.”

I simply want to surrender. I am tried. I want to move on.  


 Fast forward several weeks.

I wrote the above and never posted into the blog, sidetracked by pain management. I thought of changing what I wrote but left the front part of this post intact, as written. I wrote the above in a time of such personal pain.

Anyone living in chronic pain knows, they’ll eventually have to surrender. As life’s end nears the horizon, all query “Surrender to what?

Most Buddhists are taught that if you wish to develop understanding, kindness, and clarity, you must willingly surrender to dukkha, the inevitable pain of life. Suffer? Hmm. I do not necessarily believe my suffering is worse than others. Yet there is a time when I realized I myself must find a way to the spiritual (the other side).

I know one cannot escape death. I do not fear death. When I think of fear, I remember watching the movie Wyatt Earp, when Doc Holiday said “…I wake up every morning looking in the face of Death, and you know what? He ain’t half bad” to which I replied “…damn straight Doc!

What I am amazed me is the weakness and fragility of my human body. In my 20’s, I would laugh at simple walking. At 57, a simple walk exhausts me for days. And as man who has traveled the world, I wonder why I took so much of living for granted.

Still, I continue to reach out to all whom I hurt. I have asked for forgiveness, reached to touch those I have not and sought truce to old lingering wounds. As best as possible, I wish for my death to be calm and peaceful. I simply wish to imbued positive thoughts at the time of death.

Therein lies my message everyone. Imbued! Rather than waiting to reconcile at the end of life, inspire a feeling or quality now. Live in love. Permeate others with a feeling of quality. Honor all around you.

Imbueding” is real living.

img_0014By simply turning on the news, one can hear Donald Trump talk about our great country.

“At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.”

If the last ten to twelve days represent our future, have we become a nation that serves its citizens? Are we righteous? And are we lifting up and enhancing schools?

Today, the U.S. “put Iran on notice,” whatever that means. I mean, you Iranians are on notice. Uh, ok. Today’s statement was in response to an Iran missile launch. However, we never laid out exactly what “notice” meant.

Buddhists notice during meditation. But I’m positive this is not the Buddhist version of “notice.” In a broader sense, are we going to take out a big stick and kick ass? Or are we going to just notice. “Ok. Kill as many as you want, but damn it, we’re going to notice.

We’ve also effectively singled out the Muslim faith for the entirety of atrocities committed on U.S. soil. Damn it, Muslims are responsible. The text of Trump’s original executive order noted the “crucial role” the visa-issuance process plays in “detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.” Fear mongers often raise 9/11 to justify travel ban actions some 17 years later. However, if the public ever performed even some negligible research, they’ve might have found none of the countries impacted by the current administration travel ban was home to any hijackers from the 9/11 attacks. Those 19 came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt.

For those in the Bible Belt, do you seriously believe that an overseas terrorist is coming to a cornfield near you to detonate a couple hundred feet of corn via suicide bombing? Are you sure a terrorist will set off a shoe bomb as your family participates in a hayride on the Fourth of July? Oops, maybe they’ll blow up a pumpkin durning the fall harvest festival. Wait, that would be cool! Right? Pumpkin detonation is cool.

The coup de grace, has to be today’s speech with Black History Month participants.

We’re going to need better schools, and we need them soon. We need more jobs, we need better wages — a lot better wages. We’re going to work very hard on the inner city. Ben is going to be doing that big league. It’s one of his big things that we’re going to be looking at.

We need safer communities, and we’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re going to make it safe. We’re going to make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible, and I saw you talking about it the other night, Paris, on something else that was really — you did a fantastic job the other night on a very unrelated show. I’m ready to do my part — it’s the only time I can see him. I’m ready to do my part, and I will say this: We’re going to work together.

Ramble. Ramble.

To align my thought of today’s speech with Black History Month participants, I am reminded of a cartoon seen some 20 years ago in the New Yorker about God talking to his Son. In the cartoon, God said, “Now tell me again. What did you you tell them?

I ponder this cartoon as I think of our current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and current nominee for Secretary of Education. Both are complete “dipsticks.” “Surely Mr. President, what are you telling me? This is the best we have?

Other stupid time-wasting executive orders included a plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days, lengthen ban for administrative staff working as lobbyist, authorization of U.S./Mexican Border Wall (otherwise known as the Great Rio Wall), a couple of oil pipelines, abortion ban, U.S. government hiring freeze (unless it’s your son-in-law) and repealing Obamacare.

So for the rest of us, there has been no discussion about bringing jobs to mid-America. No plans for infrastructure repair, healthcare for the poor or how to ensure students in middle America are just as competitive as those in the Ivy League.

We are a great country already, but for the past twenty years, solutions are few. And so far, we’re looking very unrighteousness and significantly shallow.

But look on the bright side, we’re protected from suicide pumpkin bombers.

tariffPresident Donald Trump gathered the CEOs of several top US companies at the White House this past Monday and put them on notice: Move your manufacturing operations overseas and you’ll face a “substantial border tax.”

If you go to another country … we are going to be imposing a very major border tax on the product when it comes in, which I think is fair,” Trump said. “All you have to do is stay. Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people.”

Trump’s notice inspired deeper thought. The biggest of which, is that if tariffs apply to manufacturing products like automobiles and air conditioners, does it apply to other imports such as food and clothing?

China — by far America’s biggest source of clothing — accounted for 37 cents of every dollar’s worth of clothes imported, thereby sucking up the top spot with 37% of all clothing imports. Bangladesh was number 2, accounting for 5.8 percent of all U.S. clothing imports.

The food category is a little different. As the U.S. population has grown in both size and ethnic diversity, the volume and variety of food consumed and imported in the United States has increased correspondingly. American consumers prefer an increasingly wider selection of food products, such as tropical fruits and vegetables, premium coffee, and a greater variety of wines, beers, cheese, grain products, and preserved meats. In 2013, U.S. food consumption totaled 635 billion pounds, or more than 2,000 pounds per capita. Of this amount, imports accounted for 19 percent (123 billion pounds), or 390 pounds per capita.

So how would tariffs impact the clothing and food? A 35 percent tax on imported goods certainly would turn up the heat. It may also give pause to companies deciding where to produce their wares. But if tariffs are implemented, would they work? And what about the unintended consequences?

Concerns vary. Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citi, wrote to clients stating new protectionist trade policies might spark a global trade war, “which could easily trigger a global recession.” Deutsche Bank also weighed-in.  The Deutschland opined team that negative risks of a potential trade agenda were “the biggest threat and a possible protectionist turn, which could depress global trade and even trigger trade wars.”

While both Trump and Hillary Clinton zeroed in on worker anxieties over job losses, it’s important to note that at least some American job losses were not due to trade. Losses were due to automation. And crucially, automation not only hits manufacturing, but also affects jobs that require advanced degrees, such as neuroradiology.

Protectionism policies Neglect the concept of “dependent origination,” that nothing exists in isolation, Life cannot be independent of other life. The Japanese term for dependent origination is engi, literally meaning “arising in relation.” In other words, our existence only occurs because of our relationship with other beings. Everything in the world comes into existence in response to causes and conditions. Nothing can exist in absolute independence of other things or arise of its own accord.

We must remember that, if we as a society, choose “protectionism” as the rule of life, we’re most likely to implode. Interdependence is the rule life, whether country or state, business to business, family or friends. You hit one (meaning tariff one) there’s usually an equal and opposite reaction.

img_0009Author J. Gresham Machen once wrote “The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God.” In fact, grace is the most important concept in Christianity and the world. It is most clearly expressed by God’s promises, as revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ. Grace is the love shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God. It is this type of grace we are called, by God, to provide others, just as God provides to us.

This form of grace – this form of love – is the first thought crossing my mind after hearing of Chelsea Manning’s commutation. As you may recall, Ms. Manning is in the seventh year of a thirty-five year prison sentence for leaking classified military data to Wikileaks. In this essay I will neither review nor comment on either the nature of the crime nor the prison sentence. Rather, I simply choose to focus upon the President’s act of grace.

In truth, I have no idea why President Obama commuted Ms. Manning. Suffice it to say, there are probably many who are equally deserving. And I respect and honor all the effort and love for those who fight on their behalf.

There are many who claim the disclosure of documents was brutal, that many were impacted by the breach. And therefore, Manning is unworthy of such grace. Others will claim American taxpayers should not pay for Manning’s gender identity and counseling. I sympathize with such thoughts. Then again, as a taxpayer, I did not want to pay for the Iraq war and I certainly did not want to pay for the military effort in Afghanistan as well. As such, every taxpayer in America sucked it up and paid the price. I also did not enjoy reading, seeing and hearing of American soldiers committing horrendous acts of brutality either. Yet many remain at large, free from prosecution.

Strictly speaking, the blessings of everyday grace does not appear to descend from a Supreme Being or deity. Rather, grace comes from the normal interaction of people meeting people, by enlightened travelers who go forth, interact, forgive and love daily.

At the core of our humanity, all of us want to believe and embrace grace. At the same time, at our most human level, none of us will never emit the powers of Christ. Yet Christ and left humanity with two of Christ’s most powerful weapons – love and grace. These weapons transcend every day smugness, anger and hatred and provides real grounds for human hope. Transcendent grace reaches beyond our limitations of human understanding and provides relief to those who suffer.

I believe this is the same form of grace Manning received.

We don’t have to assess evidence for worthiness. We don’t have to condemn the fallen. We don’t have to impose our own limited bias to a woman most have predetermined forever unworthy.

What’s honorable is that somewhere, somehow the President of The United States reached down to a very wounded soul and provided grace. It should be our hope that all of us receive this level of love.

img_0006At a rally in Wisconsin, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a line of Christmas trees and repeated a campaign-trail staple.

When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said. “Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.”

Mr. Bill O’Reilly returned to the War on Christmas this year, but with a triumphant tone.

That culture war issue ignited and we won,” he recently said. “Donald Trump is on the case.”

Question please. “What war?

There is no evidence on any type of organized war on Christmas, it’s simply personal ignorance used as a “device” to ensure bias and innuendo remain artfully sculpted by equally bias. Christmas war allies noted the 2016 naughty list included Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret. Starbucks came under fire for seasonal cup designs that emphasized social harmony over Christmas greetings.

Bah humbug Trump would metaphorically say, “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”

Thank God for Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly claimed “The Donald” is on the case. So much so that he declared the war on Christmas officially over. ”We won,” O’Reilly claimed. After hearing that, I hurriedly rushed to the streets. Each corner brought a sense of excitement. “Celebrations Everyone.” “Celebrations,” I yelled. “The War on Christmas is over.”

Yet, not one corner yielded singing in the streets. There were no pictures of home bound sailors kissing women in New York’s Times Square. There were no pictures of Christmas War soldiers raising the U.S. flag, like that of Imo Jima. Did the Christmas war even have a flag? Sorry, I digress.

I FaceTime’d a friend in Finland. Surely, Finland will be celebrating? Surely? Right? “What the f…?” He said. “What? What war? Call me when you’re sober” Then I reached out to another friend in Norway. Christmas War? Nope. Nada. No celebrations. Nothing. Finally, I called the big man at the North Pole. Yes! As in the North Pole, Alaska (actually south of Fairbanks, AL). No war there either.

I perused the BBC, Yahoo, MSN, MSNBC and Associated Press (AP). No war. No war memorials to the lost and fallen, no one to lay an annual Christmas reef on the Tomb of The Unknown Christmas War Soldier Memorial and no evidence of any Christmas War veterans waiting in line at the Veterans Administration hoping to get aid for Christmas War PTSD.

Once Again, all of this begs the question, “What war?

Seriously, the only war won was where sensible men and women allowed ignorance an upper hand. As a Buddhist, I’ll take the harmony Starbucks offers. We need more of that.

imageLife offers a first-time and last-time for almost everything. Today I accomplished two: telling a friend my body was giving up. Telling someone I was dying was a first. And it’s the last first chance I will have to accomplish that. She was the first.

After running the conversation sequence through my mind, playing out all scenarios imagined, it is hard to predict how people will actually react. Generally, the people who love you will feel shocked and overwhelmed. Some people may try to be cheerful while pretending nothing is wrong. So while I hoped for a more realistic moment and opportunity to express my feelings, that did not happen.

I started the conversation by saying what a good friend she was. Having been through all the shit I gave these past ten years, I acknowledged her love and friendship. But my body was at a point where it had to let go of any lengthy time expectations.

Being a psychotherapist, she picked up on the hidden meaning and went straight into Kubler-Ross’ first stage of death, denial. “Nope not happening,” she said. “Miracles happen every day.

She’s right, miracles happen every day. Unfortunately, it’s going to be someone else’s miracle, not mine. I’ve lived nearly 36 years with a major diagnosis – longer than anyone expected – but miracle or not, my body is tired. It’s wearing out.

Having worked in hospitals these past 12 years, I’ve see death intimately. Most people die in hospitals and nursing homes, where they receive the extensive nursing and medical care. Their loved ones have less opportunity to be with them and often miss sharing their last moments. We’ve isolated the living from the dying; consequently, death has taken on added mystery and fear.

For me, I am at peace. As such, I believe it’s important to cultivate some form of positive, happy virtuous state of mind and abandon the non-virtuous, harmful, suffering states of mind. My death is definite, but its time remains a shadow. According, I will aspire to be ready by being mindful of the preciousness of life and the uncertainness of length. I will spend time with those who’ve loved me.

Regardless of my time, I don’t want to only love only those who’ve loved me.

I am stunned after writing that last sentence. Allow me to digress for a moment. Years ago, in some over-the-top self-improvement class, each participant was asked to write their mission statement on index card. Here’s what I wrote:

Paint each person met with beautiful brushstrokes of love.

While I did some of that, much of my life has been lived as a self-centered asshole. And inspite of being an asshole, I believe I know, with certainty, my after-life destination – albeit I have no clue what happens once there or how long I’ll be there (stage or phase). It’s neither perfectly bad nor perfectly beautiful. Its perfect for me.

I cannot possibly achieve the mission statement from years ago. But I do want everyone that I’ve angered, in any form, to let go and have the chance to live a happy and beautiful life. It’s miserable to wallow in life’s misery. Everyone has to find peace and move onward. I want everyone to become to special to another. Hopefully, each person can pay back my lack of love with love to one another.

To all I meet over the next few months, I will try and peacefully assist with the process of letting go. To help them move onward. Maybe, I can help a few that I’ve pissed off to live and move on As well.

Through God’s grace, there is no stage one for me. Rather I’ve learned death is not a be-all or end-all. I want people to embrace the fact that I have a deep sense of love for them and I want each of them to embrace the world beyond. The idea of just living as a physical presence is nonsense. That fell by the wayside when I realized that physically embodying one’s form is not the way to live.

I simply wish for each of you that correcting any of the wrongs brought unto to others is more important than being physically planted on earth.

PrayIn 1991, Barbara Poma’s older brother John died battling HIV. Twelve years later, Poma and her friend Ron Legler founded Pulse Orlando in memoriam to her brother and as a safe space supporting the LGBT community.

According to police, alleged shooter Omar Mateen opened fire early Sunday morning at Pulse. An officer working at the club initially responded, “engaging in a gun battle” before the suspect went back into the club, Authorities say that at least 50 people have been killed and at least 53 are injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Playwright Arthur Miller wrote “violence in our streets is the violence in our hearts.” So much so that violence by weapon has weaved so much into daily life we hardly notice. To add support, BradyCampaign.org notes on average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for some form of gun assault. Additionally, every day, on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm and 46 people are wounded or killed via a gun. In contrast, if 86 people were dying each day from the mosquito bred Zika Virus, there’d be holy hell on the streets of America.

Over the coming days, thousands will pay their respects, reefs laid, memorials held, tears shed and promises to remember will be made. Homage and prayers were offered by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many celebrities. Donald Trump? Well, Trump congratulated himself. But at the end of the day, even this shooting will have little positive impact for the Washington electorate to implement anything more than a few moments of silence.

The important part of Sunday remembrances came not from celebrities but rather from those who survived the shooting. Brothers, sisters and children were not overly idealized or enlarged in death beyond what they were in life. Each victim was remembered simply as a good and decent person, who saw wrong, tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it.

Pulse Orlando was about was Love.

And what set Pulse Orlando and victims apart from the hate was their depth of love – not only for each other but their community as well. It’s the same love Christ and Buddha offered. And that form of agape love can never be forced, even by a whacked out, mentally deranged idiot. Why? Because power never wins. A true God does not want subservience, but love. Pulse Orlando and all those LGBT rights activists chose the sometimes slow, hard way of agape love. It’s a conquest from within.

George McDonald captured both Christ and Buddha’s approach, “Instead of the crushing power of force; instead of destroying what we believe to be infidels, these victims encouraged making one another better people. (paraphrased)” Better citizens. They chose to love one another.

Victims in this shooting are voices speaking from heaven. Some will try to dismiss them but each victim is dazzling proof of love’s transfiguration. Each one is beautiful and may their voices roar to the power of love.

Life’s Cycle

LifecycleI faced my parents and friends with dignity. I looked into their heart, eyes that searched, worn faces and longing hope.

My body’s giving out. One day soon, I won’t be able to get around.”

Why?” my mother asked.

Why?” I sighed. “Well, life.  Like all things, life detonates.”

In a chapter titled “When the Air Hits Your Brain,” author Frank Vertosic wrote that life is encircled in a repetitive wheel of motion. We get up, Make the coffee. Head to work. Work. Head home. Exercise a little. Sleep. For most of us, our lives are trapped in orbits, with the grand pattern of life changing a little.

The late George Carlin said something to the effect, “Everybody needs 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, 8 hours play and one good shit.” Brutally honest? Yes. But the circle of life is brutally honest.

Someday, our life, my life, your life, will detonate.  There will be an auto accident, brain hemorrhage, heart attack, tremor, a fall, allergic reaction. Cancer, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and others diseases will sweep into everyone’s life. All life’s mishaps are part of a larger biological process designed for one purpose: to kill. As with all living things, life becomes one problem after another. Prostate problems, Alzheimer’s, back problems, eye cataracts, degenerative arthritis and hardening of the arteries are nature’s way of recycling the world population. The list is endless.

At its core, our life, and its end, is a design feature. Just as a Buddhist recognizes the cycle of life our cars, computers or cell phones, we’re all built to die. All things experience birth, life, an autumn and a death. Each creation enjoys a finite number of days in the sun then make way for a newer set of the living. Nature respects and implements continuous turnover, interspersing mutations of good genes, keeping life flexible and lean. Our commission to keep and ensure this lifecycle moves forward.

Buddhist clergy remind followers about closeness of death, their own demise. Likewise, they want each of you to live. Accordingly, how do we live? It’s fairly simple, just behave in a manner which you believe is responsible, good and positive for yourself and towards others. This leads to calmness, happiness and an outlook which contributes to a calm and controlled mind.

Through this positive and compassionate outlook of life, always being aware of the impermanence of life and having a loving attitude towards all living things. Having lead a responsible and compassionate life and having no regrets enables us to surrender without struggle to the inevitable and in a state of grace which need not be as uncomfortable as we are led to believe.

After stating my peace, one family member muttered, “Well maybe God will heal you.” Doubtful. In my eighteen years of working in hospitals and the insurance arena, I have never seen Jesus come and remove someone’s tumor. The other resounding fact is that the wheel of humanity will turn just fine without me.

Neil Gaiman poetically noted that life was both sexually transmitted and terminal. At the time I read it, I thought it was funny as hell. Still do.

In time, my shoulders and arms will make frequent mistakes. The current half-hour needed each morning to move without pain will increase to an hour; then two, then three; to a half-day, to most of the day. Eventually, people will have to assist me. I probably won’t be able to write or even stay awake. Weakness becomes paralysis.

My end goal is simple. Should I even reach one person, what I want is for each generation to grow better than the last. Adapt, laugh, love and survive long enough to keep the wheel of life turning.

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