Category: Main


gods-calling-1200x800_cAlan Binder’s NY Times article Falwell and Graham Reinvent Their Fathers’ Legacies was an interesting read. Binder wrote that while Falwell and Graham, ponder the rewards and perils of creating identities apart from their fathers say there is no rivalry between them as they pursue different ways of engaging in politics.

Falwell endorsed Trump and Graham simply wants more Christians in office. Graham said, “I want to get Christians to run for office at every level. The Christian voice needs to be heard.”

That got me thinking. Why can’t Graham comprehend God is everywhere?

I mean think about it, God has been everywhere in this election has told almost every candidate to run. Need convincing? Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Scott Walker, the infamous Wisconsin Governor, was convinced God called him:

I needed to be certain that running was God’s calling — not just man’s calling. I am certain: This is God’s plan for me and I am humbled to be a candidate for President of the United States.

  • John Kasich wanted a message from God before becoming the 16th candidate to enter the GOP foray.

“… what does the Lord want me to do with my life? You know, he puts us on Earth, all of us on Earth, to achieve certain purposes, and I’m trying to determine if this is what the Lord wants, and I’m not going to figure that out laying in bed hoping lightning strikes, so I’m out there one foot in front of another. We’ll see what happens.”

  • Ben Carson’s belief was that God would make it clear if that’s something he was supposed to do. Carson also told Fox News last August:

“… that he would run “if God grabbed him by the collar and asked him to run.” 

  • Rick Perry wife’s likened him to Moses, describing his decision to run as heeding signs from above.

“He didn’t want to hear a thing about running for president,” she explained. “He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush, but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.’”

Later, Perry told CNN, “I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”

  • Rick Santorum family had a divine understanding of what compelled his presidential ambitions.

“… defending God’s truth …” and “… it really boils down to God’s will. What is it that God wants? We have prayed a lot about this decision, and we believe with all our hearts that this is what God wants.”

  • Mike Huckabee asked his audience that he couldn’t think of a worse place in the world to be than in the Oval Office without God’s hand upon him. He’d rather not get near the place, but if that’s a (God’s) purpose, so be it.”

During the 2011/2012 GOP Presidential race, God told Rick Santorum (again), Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain (the same Cain who infamously quoted as being a brother (to the Koch brothers) from another mother, to run as well.

I am amazed the same God reached out Falwell, Graham and all these candidates. The ironic theme running through every message is that it’s from the same God.  You’d think all the candidates would compare notes. ” What? God told you to run too?” But while they’re somehow qualified to run the country, they can’t figure out how bizarre it is for God to have called everyone.

That means either God is extremely confused or has a huge a problem with commitment. I mean this is the same God that parted water, turned water into wine, had His Son killed, raised and then left for vacation. He could have selected any one for president, but each either failed or will fail. So what does this mean for God and for the candidates that claim to be doing his work in running for president? I sort of expect God to call and say, “Sorry, My bad!

At the end of the day, God is either a particularly cruel practical joker, He never really endorsed any of them or most Americans don’t give a crap. The first would be hilarious but the third is most likely.

There is no universal agreement among Buddhists about the right solutions to political issues or even how to prioritize them. There can be agreement, however, about trying to not make one’s political actions the product of greed, aversion, or delusion, and about acting mindfully and employing right speech, etc. That’s where many politicians fall short of God’s calling.

imageMissouri University Payton Head felt hurt that people hurled racial insults. Additionally, Mizzou black students attempted to crucify a professor for being insensitive when he scheduled a test. One twitter user JJ not Jay-Jay, stated he was offended the teacher asked his students not to give in to bullies.

To all who stayed away from campus out fear, I understand your fear and I feel your pain.

Many will argue I couldn’t possibly feel the presence of racism or the fear of death like a black man. I counter, “Why not?” Technically speaking, I can’t feel anyone’s personal experience from racism’s spear. But neither would that same black man or woman completely understand the racism I’ve received either.

Regardless of race, racism itself isn’t completely unique. At it’s core, racism has a strange common bond for many of us.

My viewpoints aren’t developed from entitled white privilege. I understand everyone is trying hard to make all black lives matter. But having been sexually abused as a child, beaten by a gang of school yard bullies on a regular basis, told my life was worthless and that I would be worthless, I determined my life mattered.

Think I’m over the top, hear me out.

Do you think I don’t fear death when I get on a plan and head to the Middle East, solely for the purpose of helping them with healthcare? I am constantly aware of bombs, kidnappings, mysterious deaths, beheadings, beatings, arrests and so on. Like many others are targeted because of race, I’m targeted simply because of my nationality and race.

Don’t believe for a minute I haven’t felt a sense of fear in poverty stricken areas of Africa, where black racists followed me and a colleague. Why? Because of my race and nationality considers us an easy mark.

Then there’s the homeless of East Los Angeles, with whom I’ve had to set aside delusion, shame, direct cursing, spitting, hitting, and attempted assaults. I’ve navigated “white-out” and “black-out” rooms during healthcare clinics and enrollment; derogatory insults in Asia, Mexico, India, South America and America; was accused of being a spy in Asian; constantly watched my surroundings in the Middle East, Asia, Philippines; experienced resentment in Africa; dodged gangs in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Saint Louis, New York City, Boston, Denver; evaded drug gangs in Mexico and South America; had personal body guards in Venezuela; was abandoned by interpreters deep in southern Chile; was forced at gunpoint, by the Brazilian military to pay a bribe; been stripped searched by authorities in Argentina; was sexually harassed in Saint Louis, Missouri; received multiple death threats in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

But wait,” one might say, “you have clarify! I mean what about those insults?”

Well let’s discuss insults. I have a lengthy list. Over the past thirty years I’ve been called 8 Mile, Abe Lincoln, Charlie, Albino, Salt and Pepper (when I was with a black female friend for dinner), Anglo (by several Mexicans), Bacon Bit, Bai-Tou (Chinese for white head), Sai-Tou (shit head in China), Bak-Guiy (white ghost), Beach-Nigger (when I got too much sun tan), Bean Dipper (when I went for drinks with a Latino woman), Bird Shit, Bleach Boy, Brady (demeaning word for Brady Bunch), Bubba, Casper, Clampett (from Beverly Hillbillys), Cock (short for Caucasian), Cornfed (meaning I was too fat), Crisco (i.e., the white grease), Ditchpig (because I worked cleaning side-street ditches during college one summer), Gabacho, Goober (by Black NYC Racists just a few months ago), Gusak (by Alaskan racists), Hillbilly, Honky, HP (human parasite), Lo-wai (outsider), MacLord (simply because I use a MacBook), Milkhead, Mouse (used by Black racists as I walked in NY City), Nightlite (used by black racists in Africa, meaning I could be seen in the dark), Redneck, Cracker, Ritz Cracker (because they thought I was rich), Saltine, Skinhead (because being bald obviously means I’m a racist skinhead), Tornado Bait (white trash that gets hit by tornado – they seemed to think that since I help restore medical services in disaster areas, I somehow deserve this name), Triscut (a cracker, but worse than white trash), Wasian (because I lived in Japan helping the Japanese, local racists thought I was fascinated with the Japanese culture), White Out (Meaning no whites – used in NYC when I went to a meeting to hear how I could assist with healthcare), YT (sent via a post-it note during an audit, means Whitey).

Oh yeah, I’m white. Still think I’m privileged?

So why do I do it? What motivated me get up and go to school, earn a degree and work? Turns out, my love for people and my passion to help others is far more powerful than the fear from some dipstick hurling insults from the back of a pickup truck. My soul’s inner core is more resilient, has more wisdom and more strength than the stupidity we reduce ourselves.

I never went on a hunger strike, protested in some lobby, interrupted town hall meetings or screamed demands. Change did not come by demanding some other person do something. I became the one I had been waiting for. I was the change I sought. I went to work, served people, built relationships and changed small snippets of the world through one act of kindness after another.

You need to do the same.

Here’s a personal post from a blogger about being a global citizen.

~ L to the Aura ~

global-chorus-cover

Next year, I hope to start everyday with a bit of hope – with insights and perspectives to keep pushing towards solutions. To spend some time to let ideas marinate, to observe, to taste and feel the fullness of thought leaders perspectives on relevant issues about our world. I want to listen – really listen.  I want to go outside, touch the ground, experience the breeze, smell nature. I want to feel her within me, I want to hear her speak to me. I want to re-energize.

I am humbled to be part of project that will help others to do just that.

Global Chorus a groundbreaking collection of over 365 perspectives on our environmental future. As a global roundtable for our times, in the format of a daily reader, this book is a trove of insight, guidance, passion and wisdom that has poured in from all over the Earth. Its message is…

View original post 308 more words

Governor Jay Nixon tweeted this photo this morning while voting.

Remember – Missouri is the ‘Show Me’ State.

Butt Snip

Do Lives Matter

10092014_Shaw-thumb-295xauto-11734On Saturday, a few thousand protesters participated in a “Justice for All” march in St. Louis, one of the largest and most diverse gatherings since the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. Unions, religious groups and student organizations gathered behind banners as flags and posters bobbed down the street while drums thundered above a loud din of chants of “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

More than 1,000 peaceful protesters shut down an intersection by playing jump rope and silently marched through Saint Louis before staging a sit-in at Saint Louis University early Monday morning. Why Saint Louis University was chosen is beyond me. However, protest leaders addressing the crowd said their demonstration was about ending white supremacy and addressing systemic problems people face regardless of race.

Watching scenes protrayed in social media and news outlets, I ask with all honesty, do black lives matter? Do any of our lives really matter? Placing thoughts into perspective, I repeat part of a previous post:

27-year-old Quinnell Stanciel, was pronounced dead at the scene while the second victim was rushed to an area hospital with a gunshot wound to the arm. Also, a week ago today, Jonathan Saddler, 24, and James Lane, 22, were killed in a shoot out in downtown St. Louis. Police said that shooting was drug-related, and officers recovered suspected marijuana and heroin at the shooting scene. Surviving victims were not cooperating with the investigation.

Researching news wires, readers learned James Lane was the uncle of Latasha Williams, a 14 year-old shot in the left eye September 12th. Latasha was buying snacks at a corner store when bullets were sprayed from a passing vehicle into the store. Latasha’s father, Marvin Williams, also died violently. Willliams was fatally shot on March 21, 2005 at the age of 21. Police said then they believed the shooting was gang-related.

Neither Quinnell Stanciel, Jonathan Saddler, James Lane, Latasha Williams nor Marvin Williams had signs erected on their behalf. And why not? Do any of their lives really count? Or does the community at large largely ignore their lives, while focusing upon only a select few?

From a Buddhist perspective, I ponder whether protests work. In June 1963, a Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc sat down in a busy intersection of Saigon set himself on fire. However, the monk’s friends ensured foreign reporters were on the scene; thus ensuring photos would quickly spread around the world.

In spite of significant media reporting, Ferguson protesters appear to have a message looking for a cause, as statistics clearly support, that in total, police shootings of unarmed men are rare. If black lives matter, then all black lives have to matter, not just those cherry-picked for this version of ‘activism weekly.’ This doesn’t mean Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers don’t matter. But while protesting provides a profound “moral shock,” almost all causes fade in waning years. Look no further than Trayvon Martin, where nationwide protests remain unanswered years later.

As a Buddhist, if we’re going to achieve transformation, we must focus upon the lives of all people, not just black people. I do believe our lives can speak to the future, if all of us become involved to provide solutions. But warning signs are ominous. The interfaith service meant to bring the St. Louis community together exposed fissures between protest leaders and the youth. Still, if the lives of Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers matter; Quinnell Stanciel, Jonathan Saddler, James Lane, Latasha Williams and Marvin Williams must equally matter as well. Yet few, if any, speak for them.

Everyone has to matter.

If every single life doesn’t matter, the protest won’t last.

Someone Give Russell Pearce a Sandwich

Russell PearceRussell Pearce, a former Republican state senator, stepped down as the Arizona GOP’s vice chair after being blasted for bizarre comments made about women who receive Medicaid assistance.

You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get (female recipients) Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to (reproduce) or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.

I know there’s people out there (who) need help, and my heart goes out to them, too. But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community. No cash for Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, you’d only get money for 15-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and powdered milk – all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want a steak or frozen pizza, then you’d have to get a job.

This reminded me of a story from the late comedian Mitch Hedberg.

Once, while being driven from the Atlanta airport to the hotel, our cab driver started talking s***. He was creeping towards a racist rant. We were still a ways away from the hotel when it dawned on us that he felt super okay with being a hateful weirdo. 

Mitch leans forward, “Hey Man. Up here on the right is a deli that sells Boar’s Head Ham. Can you stop so we can grab something to eat?” 

“Sure.” 

Mitch returns with THREE subs. No one spoke for the rest of the trip.

Lesson learned. It’s impossible to spew racist crap while eating a delicious sandwich.”

From an everyday perspective, you could call Russell Pearce thoughts patriotism, ultra-nationalism, ethnic prejudice, or racism. Whichever the label, it is mired in the we-they prejudice that divides people, fosters hatred, and triggers violence – everything Buddhism cautions against.

Maybe Pearce just needs a sandwich. As noted by Hebberg’s wife, the lesson is spot on:

“Lesson learned. It’s impossible to spew racist crap while eating a delicious sandwich.”

Crops (39)After several years of dating my first wife became impatient and decided to propose marriage. On that fateful night, she made a wonderful dinner, purchased a beautiful red wine and created an appropriate ambiance, candlelight included.

Finally the moment neared and she utter, “Honey, will you marry me.

Of course,” I replied stoically.

After a few minutes of silence, my fiancé queried, “Honey, you haven’t said a word.

Oh, quite the contrary. I’ve probably said too much.

I reflected upon my experience while listening to a famous theologian ponder the marriage between heaven and earth. As Richard Pratt said, “We think that Jesus came to forgive our sins, make our souls sparkle, sprinkle us with peace and joy so we can sprout wings when we die, grab a harp and join the eternal choir.” I may not always agree with Pratt, but I love the thought.

Personally, I have no clue how God will choose to marry heaven and earth. For many, the thought creates a conundrum of two visions. One vision entails everyone holding ‘Pratt’s’ version, including the harp and singing unity to the great one. The other vision extends the same flaws currently experienced here on earth, terrible wars in the name of that God, sexism, children of all ages not having enough spiritual food, etc., etc., etc.

For those who believe in traditional conservative approaches, when God marries heaven and earth, there will be a negotiation. Thus, those who currently dictate the rules of God’s love must inevitably experience God’s renegotiation of the boundaries between heaven and earth. Therefore, a difficult question must be answered: are we willing to trade a system that has served others so poorly for one that will serve others so well?

In truth, from a Buddhist perspective, why wait for heaven? Why can’t we experience heaven on earth? Right here, right now. If we are to be true citizens of God’s Kingdom, our obedience to Christ must touch every area of our lives. Simply confessing “Jesus is Lord” does not significantly impact the church or our too few spiritual habits.

Whether Buddhist or Christian, we must proactively spread love into every segment of society, influencing the world by bringing love and grace to all – be it through the arts, through business, through politics or through our vocations.

maxresdefaultCosmos’ final hour revealed the final message embedded in the space probe Voyager’s Interstellar Golden Record. It was a recording of life on Earth, ending with Carl Sagan’s life-summing meditation on this “pale blue dot.”

So was the show worth it? Cosmos was television on an ambitious scale, a full-blown science program in prime time on a mainstream broadcast network, on the most crowded, and competitive night of the TV week.

Throughout the show, there were those who sought to deny the scientific evidence presented. The opening episode featured an introduction by President Obama and stirred controversy with a lengthy segment that deliberately pitted religion against science, providing an animated story about the Catholic Church’s persecution of the 16th-century monk and astronomer Giordano Bruno.

To the creationist viewpoint, there was no opportunity for rebuttal. But that wasn’t the show’s premise either. With that being said, one can believe in religion all they want, but when an asteroid falls from space at about 22,000 miles per hour and crashes into earth, I’m presuming God won’t be there to stop it. Remember, I didn’t say “if.”

Tyson said if he reached just one viewer deeply enough to get them interested in science, Cosmos will have succeeded. Cosmos began and ended with Carl Sagan:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Dr. Tyson, regardless of my faith … you reached me. I loved the show.

Nursing HomeEast of Tucson, Arizona is a retirement and short-term rehabilitation center.  There in room 205, lay father. Ten days ago a perfectly healthy man entered the hospital to have knee replacement.  Ten days later, a man was moved to this short term rehabilitation center have having stopped breathing, a heart attached and severe reaction to OxyContin, as prescribed by the physician.

The rehab center has four main wings. There’s long-term assisted living, a retirement wing, short-term rehabilitation and the disposable. The disposable wing is home to those solitary folks too sick and frail to leave.  On one hand, they have no family, no friends or soul mates. On the other, they await the angel of death. In strange way, they are comrades who abide by regularly scheduled activities and watch people go to and fro, surfing soap operas or sports while awaiting the angel of death.

By its very nature, most shy away, with many rarely venture this wing. There’s good reason: it’s the land God forgot. On face value it’s dreary. Patients come in to this area extremely ill, with such problems as sepsis, pneumonia, cancer and pancreatitis, etc. Only the early morning sunlight creaks the slightly drawn shades. Wheelchairs line the doorways and the air is perfumed with something dissimilar to urine or stool, permeating heavily.

After settling my father in, I ventured into no man’s land.  And by having the courage, I was afforded a wonderful opportunity to revisit history and lives of others.

Twenty steps in, I met Elias, a wonderfully entertaining elderly man who worked much of his life in now defunct Arizona copper mines. After leaving the mines, Elias started a landscaping venture with his “fat overweight son.” Remaining hearty at 62, he reached down to pick up a fifty-pound bag of dirt and snapped his back. Several weeks later, he has two steel rods running parallel to his spine, with steel screws every four inches. Long abandoned by his son, his only visitors are a church pastor and nurses.

After listening Elias, Sammy interrupted with her life. Sammy to friends and Samantha to family was a former dancer, who beautifully danced moved to choirs, orchestras and modern dance. In truth, Sammy was a former exotic dancer who self admittedly said “gravity’s won” but reinvested the cash she made and lives quite comfortably sipping tea as she pleases. She was clear to note that her youthful spirit of life remained alive, even at age 68. In fact ten years ago, Sammy was dancing in her living room while dancing to Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” She performed the split but suffered damage so severe she had two hip replacements.

Aileen is the resident grey tabby cat. And according to 92 year-old socialite, Ms. Spenser, Aileen is a little tramp and much “the to do” has been made over her affair with “Buster Weeds,” that orange tabby living on the other side of the washout adjoining the property.

In my few hours, I Charlie, Sandy, Barbara, Jensen, James, Cindy, Ms. Stemson and Carl.  I learned a little of Tombstone, local history of the Apache, Bisbee, the ghosts of Bisbee, the Copper Queen Mine of Bisbee, the copper mines of Jerome, Buckskin Mountains of west-central Arizona, politics, football and baseball.

For a few hours, history came alive. Each rolled back time and history relived as fresh and beautiful.  Because many of us simply refuse to reach past our own fear, real history is missed and much of history is lost.

Kneeling in the chapel I thanked the world for the courage to reach beyond the fear…to  listen, to laugh and to love. Maybe, I just couldn’t bear to see anyone move to another world without love. I am grateful for this chance to experience the impermanence of life. I am grateful these lives will continue on in me.

The Power of You

FriendTo A Friend Who’s Hurting.

Dear Ms. J:

There is a strange coincidence to this world, where people meet people and move on, others seemingly connect for only a moment and others connect for a lifetime. You and I are seemingly uncommon, for where we previously worked, we barely knew each other and now our lives continually intertwine.

While enjoying this uncommon bond I fear my own failures will weigh upon you heavily. This is not a burden I take lightly and guarantee that while my muscles work, I search for the proper way of service to both you and our clients. In doing so, I know of many who only search for themselves, yet I search for others, wondering if that’s my greatest gift and the curse to live with … is that I will always care.

I’ll admit our work has touched me deeply. As our communications of business shift to and fro our client’s work-site I find snippets of sheer courage to engage those whom seem bitter or angry. I cannot say our last engagement was easy, for there were many fatiguing and tedious moments. Still I found courage and strength from our conversations and these conversations bolstered my commitment to press forward.

Maybe my joyful experience in working with you means I am made more vulnerable to loss. Maybe, maybe not. But I simply cannot accept that. While it’s true both of us tend to place ourselves on the altar of corporate culture, yet unlike those who treat you shamelessly, I fly simply because you put a something wonderful in-flight and I’ve found flying in your dreams a wonderful painting composed of beautiful brushstrokes of love and compassion.

The negativity of this world tends to carve that which only resembles itself. Thus everything takes upon a deadened weight, neither rich for them nor their client. They seek power over life while you seek power through the experience of living. And to this end, I could not have envisioned my own personal growth and beauty without you. Remember, you have created something exquisite and rare. You fuel the transformation of the ordinary. This is the power of you. Never forget that.

ultimatemindsettoday

A great WordPress.com site

The Seeds 4 Life

Seeds of Inspiration, Wisdom, and Positivity

Oscar Relentos

Welcome to my catharsis

%d bloggers like this: