Category: Life Lessons


sanders-cruz-485x261Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz went toe-to-toe over healthcare last night. In the CNN face-off, Canada made a surprise appearance when Cruz claimed Canadians leave their country in droves to seek out health care in the United States.

When I lived in Toronto, CA for a year-and-a-half, I worked on Canada’s Healthcare system. However, when I meet with focus group participants, critics of universal health care in both Canada and the United States claimed Canadians left Canada in groves to receive healthcare, especially elective healthcare in the United States.

However, the best-available research shows it’s simply not true. Canadians are not fleeing en-masse to US medical facilities. The most comprehensive look was a 2002 Health Affairs article, entitled “Phantoms in the Snow.” Researchers gathered data on Canadians’ use of US healthcare. In a nutshell, almost zippo. They found this happened rarely.

Personal experience of living and working in Canada found one true fact – even if Canadians wanted to escape, most could not afford US medical care.

The other cringe-worthy moment was Senator Ted Cruz congratulating a woman for dealing with MS.

“Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on dealing with MS,” Cruz said. “It’s a terrible disease and congratulations on your struggles dealing with it.”

If there’s a moment when someone can point to the GOP on being out-of-touch with regular Americans on healthcare, that was pretty damn close. In response, one blogger, penned:

Congratulations Ted Cruz on your struggle with being a human being.”

CNBC Jake Novak actually authored a noteworthy response.

But the best way to tackle a problem is to pinpoint what the problem is exactly. And Tuesday night’s debate helped anyone paying attention to zero in on the key problem in American health care, health insurance, and health legislation: The expense. Time and again, questions were fielded from audience members who are dealing with costly personal medical problems and challenges. They each served as crucial human examples that better showed what the colder statistics have told us for years. The hard truth is that people like those audience members, those 10 percent of Americans who are the sickest, are responsible for 64 percent of all health care costs in the country, according to research by the Department of Health and Human Services. That includes Medicare, Medicaid, and all the other forms of coverage and payment in America.

Some argue the Buddhist approach to health and healing emphasizes spiritual practice. Buddhism asserts that spiritual practice makes it possible for an individual not only to see opportunity for practice in the face of adversity, including sickness and injury, but use the opportunity for personal transformation and transcendence.

As a Buddhist having worked in the medical industry for quite some time, I see a deep awareness of cause and consequence, and insight into the nature of conditioned interdependence. Whether Buddhist, Catholic, Atheist or whatever, choice, practice and cost are factors many simply do not have control over. If you’re in pain, Buddhism, Christianity or transcendence means squat. Eventually, everyone will suffer equally. Almost everyone will become part of the 10% group absorbing 64 percent of all health care costs. So by my definition, there is a 90% chance each of us will become a class member.

In ancient days, Buddhists were healers. They cared for one another. Due to budget battles, lack of income, family resources and political partisanship, all us face or will face similar struggles as the woman Ted Cruz congratulated. I personally believe it’s up to the average joe citizen to care for one another. Why? Because our political leaders are too incompetent to help.

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_0012LinkedIn’s auto notification indicated a friend was having her two-year anniversary in consulting, specifically, as an independent consultant.

So there I sat, reading the notice, glued to the words, “Two-year Anniversary as a Consultant.” Seriously, I have to congratulate someone for two-years as an independent consultant?

Knowing my friend’s wicked sense of humor, here’s what I penned.

Dear Ms. T.:

Congratulations on your work anniversary! Or as LinkedIn refers to it … two-year anniversary as a consultant.

Actually, LinkedIn says I needed to congratulate you on two (2) wonderful years as a consultant. Yes! Yes! Two wonderful years of waking up and wondering where the next paycheck is coming. Two wonderful years of trying find a way of not ticking of some s*** client who cannot manage their way out of a garbage can. Yes! Yes! Two wonderful years of selling your soul to any bidder who will take your skill; for any employer who will honor and respect your work skills; for hope of one lone employer who will not demean your age 55 and 33 years of experience. Yes! Yes! Two wonderful years of traveling on your own time while simultaneously trying to figure a way to clock 40 hours. Yes! Yes! Two wonderful years of Marriott knowing you by sight; of saying “Hello” by name. Two wonderful years of trying to upsell; of trying to make two days of clothing look like a week; of meeting the client’s expense policies; of missing family, friends, weddings and funerals. Yes! Yes! Two wonderful years of eating crap food because no one pays for a real meal. Two wonderful years of leaving on a Sunday, coming back late Friday and trying to have a life one day each week. Two wonderful years of exhaustion.

So yes Ms. T … Per LinkedIn … I congratulate you. Cheers. Salud!

I am not sure if this is the type of salud LinkedIn wanted. However, for whatever reason, I thought this reply was most appropriate.

There Are No Legacies

img_0010I have not seen any Trump Inaugural events. I did catch CNN radio as Actor Jon Voight spoke during President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration concert, saying “God answered our prayers.” To which there are many who believe God did just the opposite.

Do I believe in the “In Trump We Trust” message? No. And do I believe the ain’t-Trump message that life is doomed? No.

Many years ago, I learned each book has drops of truth and falsehood. Each story has praise, honor, respect, love and hate. Living on our plant earth, our lives ride upon a foundation of creation from millions of years earlier. The heavens watch our rise and fall, our dreams and hopes.

In our time on this planet, we etch the surface. Like footprints laid in sand, we walk, and for a moment of time, we’ve etched our personal statement of truth. Then as with most, our mark disappears, time and nature covers our personal statements and we are gone.

A generation from now, this website will be gone. The essays and thoughts to which readers delve will have been erased. None will remember The Unknown Buddhist. And truth be told, I never intended to be remember in such a way either. I simply wanted to extend my thoughts to those who’ll listen.

Looking at Trump’s inauguration, I am reminded we are but dust particles of time. Our small moments here on mother earth. Just like everyone, Trump and whatever he did will disappear. Just as Trump replaced Obama, Trump will be replaced by another, just as his replacement will be replaced and so on. This is the cycle of our lives.

Nothing is permanent. There are no legacies.

In scheme of millions of years, our accomplishments, fears, anger and hatred are nothing more than brief moments of time. We briefly appear, then we’re gone. Every accomplishment eventually is eventually erased by another and with no subjectivity, life marches onward. Thus, whatever our Presidents choose to do or not do, future generations will not embrace our ignorance. They will embrace their own.

We are reminded that life itself shall not live forever. Trump will be our American President for only a short period. Thus, all we have left is love. All we have is the ability within our soul to overcome the darkness around us. And our love can be the greater good. For the greater good our love must germinate forward. Ensure love is patient. Ensure our love is kind.

At the end of the day, America will be ok.

loveOver the weekend, a New York Times opinion piece written by Todd May titled, The Stories We Tell Ourselves struck home.

We tell stories that make us seem adventurous, or funny, or strong. We tell stories that make our lives seem interesting. And we tell these stories not only to others, but also to ourselves. The audience for these stories, of course, affect the stories we tell. If we’re trying to impress a date, we might tell a story that makes us seem interesting or witty or caring, whereas if we’re trying to justify a dubious act to someone who is judging us (or perhaps ourselves), we might tell a story that makes us out to be without other recourse in the situation. In the latter case, what we are doing is dissociating ourselves from a value we might be associated with and thus implicitly associated ourselves with a different one.

As a seasoned traveler, now expanding over 30 countries, I relate. For a person with little family and social friends common to others, my stories have migrated from benign to adventurous, from “eh” to bold, from snoozer to engaging. I didn’t change facts, but I changed the narrative. I embolden keywords, added rain when there was mist, added lush green forests when droughts had strangled most vegetation.  I wanted a value greater than the reality.

I am not unlike most. I presume most of the bar stories heard over the years are extracted from mundane life moments interspersed with misplaced dreams. Where upon returning to the actual mountain, the real city, that one country, we’re exasperated, It’s ’s so different from when I was here.”

Let’s face it, we all want love. We all want to be normal. We want to experience the life created in our dreams, but are deathly afraid of facing the very dream dreamed. As my father would say while star gazing in late autumn, “be careful of what you ask.”

My experiences are real. I have visited over 30 countries. Yet retelling tales of travel have alienated many who could have been a friend. I damaged so many lovers, so many women and so many family members. Everything I thought they wanted to hear wasn’t actually what they wanted to hear. What each of those wanted was to be acknowledged and simply told they were loved – that I thought of them as I careened the globe. I never did. There was nary a thought.

The one insight learned would be this – live your life but never forget those who’ve loved from afar. I am sure my grandmother loved me deeply, but it would have been terrific if I once sat and wrote her. I’m positive my relatives still love me, but finding the time to attend a family reunion would be priceless. Stories of walking the old ruins in Columbia are beautiful, but watching my niece grow older meant more than seeing the Great Wall of China.

In the end, my stories meant little. I missed all the life that really counted. My love involved clinging, lust, confusion, neediness, fear, or grasping to self expressions that are nothing than bondage and limitation.

Time is short and memories fade. Travels mean little. Truth is the cascade of moments missed. I loved only myself. In doing so, I neglected all of you.

Don’t be like me.

img_0008In his first news conference after winning the US presidential election in November, US President-elect Donald Trump said he will be the greatest job producer that God ever created. The policies, besides tariffs, that support the claim are few.

Negating the fact Trump considers CNN a “fake news” organization, CNN Money reported America gained 10.9 million new jobs under President Obama’s tenure. Trump’s campaign calls America’s jobs picture “disastrous” and a “total failure.” However, almost all of the job gains under President Obama were in service jobs, such as those in Silicon Valley and consulting while others were low-end, toiling in stores and restaurants.

So can Trump be the greatest job producer God ever created? Putting aside the problem of being able to actually query God for verification, can Trump be successful? Blogger Anthony De Rosa humorously posted:

“And on the 5th day, God created Trump, who became the greatest job creator.”

Jeanne McKenna of the Washington Post wrote Trump promised to make the auto industry in Michigan “bigger and better and stronger than ever before.” Mind you that sounded eerily like the opening sequence of the Six Million Dollar Man television show. Maybe Trump wants to make America like the 1970’s again? In May, Trump promised better. He promised to be God.

I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.

Maybe historians can add the above into the New Revised Trump Testament. Trump 1: 1. “In the beginning Trump promised to give you everything. For he was the only one.” At this point, Trump is only promising jobs which has little to do with getting paid.

Trump often portrayed himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis (June 2016 article) found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades with a large number of those involving ordinary Americans claiming Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

To place the greatest living job creator thingy in perspective, one only needs to remember the current U.S. unemployment rate, hovering under 5%. Including the under-employed, there aren’t many employable people left for God’s Greatest Job Creator to tap. For Trump to achieve his target, the economy would have to grow by 3 to 4 percent annually — a prospect that is far-fetched, according to most economists.

Wait! Maybe Trump will combine Russia’s unemployed with that of the United States? Russia’s unemployment rate is estimated to be 5.8% or so. By combining U.S.’s and Russia unemployed, he creates a larger labor pool. Hm! Then again, does God want Trump to help Russia with jobs? Eh? Hard to say.

On a serious note, if Trump needs a mentor, he should look no further than Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). In a Slate article, Charles Peters and Timothy Noah noted:

FDR’s New Deal employed 4 million people within one month. FDR’s staff was approving over 100 projects a day. Over the course that followed, the government laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or made substantial improvements to 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports.

Many of the jobs involved manual labor, to which most of the population, having been raised on the farm, was far more accustomed than it would be today. But FDR’s administration also provided considerable white-collar work, employing, among others, statisticians, bookbinders, architects, 50,000 teachers, and 3,000 writers and artists. This was achieved with a remarkable minimum of overhead. Of the nearly $1 billion—the equivalent today of nearly $16 billion—spent during the first five months, 80 percent went directly into workers’ pockets and stimulated the economy by going into the cash registers of grocers and shop owners. Most of the rest went to equipment costs. Less than 2 percent paid for administration.

Seriously, few, if any, believe Trump will be God’s Job Creator. Few believe he is the Chosen One.

fake-newsWhen looking at the “fake news” allegations rolling off Trump’s lips, one can only thank themselves. Yup! That’s right. You are responsible. I am responsible. We’re all responsible. We’ve legitimized verbal crap by our words, our lips and our hearts.

Allow me to back up. Trump’s news conference earlier this week was quite the spectacle, just as predicted. Like a boxer weaving and ducking, Trump controlled the event, the texture and meaning of right and wrong. I was in awe listening to the man as he verbally weaved around the imaginary ring, deflecting jabs, dismantling barbs and seemingly laughing at enemies great and small. He dismissed CNN, criticized news organizations and belittled the U.S. Intelligence community. He admonished Russia for hacking only to seemingly reinforce his bromance some ninety-minutes later.

An aficionado of “fake news” as a presidential candidate, I was amazed at his use of “fake news” as a defense, controlling the meaning of truth. Should one think otherwise, we should remember Trump’s 9/11 comments:

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” the Republican presidential candidate said at a November 21st rally in Birmingham, Alabama. “And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

Other Trump fake news included Obama being born in Africa, Justice Scalia was murdered, voting machine tampering, Clinton won the popular vote because of all the illegal votes. And of course there’s infamous pizzeria fake new used by a Trump surrogate. Trump fired the son of a transition team’s staff member, Michael G. Flynn. Flynn’s son was fired for using Twitter to spread a fake news story about Hillary Clinton that led to an armed confrontation in a pizzeria.

As a person, I have no love for Donald Trump. Nor do I have any interest in protecting him from scrutiny. But to declare the fake news used against him was wrong and disingenuous is like saying “Woe unto me. For my shit don’t stink. Yours does, but mine doesn’t.

So let’s regroup. How does all this apply to the you and I? Seriously, everyone delves into fake news. Just as it may have been wrong when FBI Director James B. Comey made an eleventh-hour content-free rumblings about Hillary Clinton’s emails, it’s also wrong each time Trump demurs “there’s something going on” about an insane premise or rumor he should otherwise disavow.

Just like Trump, society is just as morally bankrupt when backbiting a coworker, allowing students to cyberbullying, falsifying stories at the watercooler, supporting known innuendo, lying to your spouse and so on. Doing so makes each of us equally and morally repugnant. What’s worse is America’s willingness to accept this verbal diarrhea as acceptable.

All people, Buddhists and Christians alike, must take a higher road. And sometimes that road completely sucks. But it is the road we must not waver should we wish to expect anything less than complete transparency.

Unfortunately, the crux of our sin is … our acceptance.

img_0007Throughout the day I listened to our Congressional leaders question and answer sessions of Trump’s cabinet candidates. Of all the potential candidates, almost none offered anything indicating how their time in the office would make life better for the average working American. Jeff Sessions and John Kelly offered little, if any, positive proof that the incoming administration has anything more than dreams.

Then again, Trump himself has offered almost zero credibility toward offering anything of value to an unemployed coal miner. And of course, the only thing an unemployed steel worker will get is a “wet dream.”

The direct ability of legislators to offer anything but “stupid” is not uncommon. Michelle Bachmann commented that “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” Sharon Angle suggested rape victims make rape lemonade. Rick Santorum claimed rape victims should make the best of a bad situation. Of course one could compare Romney’s America against Trump version when Romney spewed “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.”

And while watching today’s low-lights, the New York Times reported another Trump nougat.

President-elect Donald J. Trump demanded on Tuesday that Congress immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass another health law quickly thereafter, issuing a nearly impossible request: replace a health law that took nearly two years to pass with one Republicans would have only weeks to shape.

“We have to get to business,” Mr. Trump told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “Obamacare has been a catastrophic event.”

Today’s statement is counter to thoughts Trump expounded in a 60 Minutes interview,.

Stahl: And there’s going to be a period if you repeal it and before you replace it, when millions of people could lose – no?

Trump: No, we’re going to do it simultaneously. It’ll be just fine. We’re not going to have, like, a two-day period and we’re not going to have a two-year period where there’s nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. And we’ll know. And it’ll be great healthcare for much less money. So it’ll be better healthcare, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination.

Basically, Trump has no healthcare plan. All of his comments were campaign devices.

Many of the above congressional leaders ever offered real relief to the working man, Trump included. And correct me if I’m wrong, but prior to running for election, I never saw Trump having a beer with a laid off steel worker in upstate New York. Nor has one seen Ivanka Trump in a blighted Ohio coal community helping families make ends meet. Better still, has Kushner ever presented a multibillion dollar rehab project in a decimated downtown coal community?

A blogger on “The Loins Roar” captured my thoughts perfectly.

At the end of the day Trump supporters want someone willing to break the rules. I agree that if humanity will survive, we need to think outside the box regarding our current system. But if you think Trump symbolizes something outside the box, you are confusing intentions. He is the box itself. We need someone humble and compassionate enough to think about all of us. That’s the outside-the-box thinking we need. A severe narcissist is incapable of breaking rules for anyone but himself. And that’s my question for Trump supporters: of the thousands of well-documented times that Trump has broken rules or acted like a phony, when did it ever benefit anyone but himself.

Trump’s policies will provide little for those in the greatest of need.

trump-222While Donald Trump has been appointing and the media has been analyzing Trump’s Twitter account posts, the rest of his fan base has been waiting for news about lost jobs. As most of us know, the coal and steel industry has seen tumultuous decades. But saying President Obama and Hillary Clinton were ultimately responsible for every man’s lot in life is simply overstating the world’s economic engine.

Much of the damage occurred long before either Clinton and Obama graced our presence. For instance, experts say the notion of bringing Pittsburgh back to its post-World War II heyday, with large mills supplying tens of thousands of jobs, isn’t going to happen. By 1982, 133,000 steel workers in the area had been laid off. By January 1983, the job losses in the steel industry contributed to a 17.1 percent unemployment rate in the Pittsburgh area.

In upstate New York, the Lackawanna Steel Company was founded in 1840 and existed as an independent company until 1922. In 1922, Bethlehem Steel bought Lackawanna and operated the facility until operations ceased in 1982. Bethlehem filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Ala in all, Lackawanna once employed approximately 20,000.

Inexpensive steel imports and the failure of management to innovate, embrace technology, and improve labor conditions contributed to Bethlehem’s demise.

In a strange reversal of Trump’s fan base, critics in that era claimed protectionist steel trade policies created a lack of competitiveness as American steel producers like Bethlehem were shielded from foreign competition by quotas, voluntary export restraints, minimum price undertakings, and anti-dumping and countervailing duty. These   measures were in effect for 30 years preceding Bethlehem Steel’s collapse.

To return steel and coal industries back to the days of yesteryear, Trump has to overcome several problems.

First problem that few, if any, have discussed is that steel foundries are gone. To put it bluntly, there is no infrastructure to rebuild. The former Bethlehem steel plant is now the site of the Sands Casino and the former Lackawanna Steel Company site is a wind farm.

Secondly, manufacturing jobs haven’t disappeared just because of trade deals, cheap imports and foreign tariffs. Today’s manufacturers use everything from robots to product-tracking systems to trim costs and increase efficiency and quality. That often means fewer jobs than companies needed to do the same work years ago.

Third, it’s well known coal helped drive the steel industry. Yet today, there’s easier coal to get than those in the Appalachian mines. Once mines have closed they don’t reopen when cheaper alternatives exist. For instance, fracking technology has made natural gas an abundantly cheap form of power.

Globalization and opening of world markets; a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing, creating massive over-capacity in its steel plants; a subsequent boom in cheap Chinese exports and a collapse in the global steel price will not be rectified by Trump in 48 months.

Whether or those manufacturing jobs could have been saved doesn’t matter. They aren’t coming back, at least not most of them. How do we know? Because in recent years, factories have been coming back, but jobs haven’t. Factories built today are heavily automated, employing a small fraction of the workers they would have a generation ago.

For those older among us who hold liberal and progressive political views, let’s not forget we survived Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. It wasn’t pleasant but we survived. We will survive Trump. This is not to say that the policies of past presidents weren’t flawed, and that they did not make any lasting impact. They were and they did. Still, we survived. We will survive Trump. As of today, we don’t really know what will happen under Trump because nothing he has said so far means much. He seems not to have much commitment to his own words.

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.

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