Category: Social Justice


A day prior to the election, a heating and air conditioning technician arrived to perform ‘the scheduled Fall furnace inspection,’ a preparation for winter. I always engage these technicians during the inspection process, often learning of who they are and obtaining perspectives of life one rarely gets. “If Nancy Pelosi were to show up here, I would immediately hang her for treason.” He blurted. “And Biden should be shot.” The technician’s stunning admission was brutally honest, ‘summary execution.’ Neither Biden nor Pelosi deserves trials, just termination. The conversation still haunts me post-election and reminds us just how fractured America has become.

Blue-collar workers (like him) were left behind. It is one reason the ‘blue wave’ frittered like a mild earthquake. The tsunami didn’t occur. Democrats entered the U.S. election hoping for a GOP repudiation, certain to be swept back into power. Instead, close to 50% of the electorate denied the “blue wave” and steadfast in fear and hatred. GOP rhetoric permeated America’s soul and what emerged is an underlying desire to kill anything opposing the President’s view. If you’re not with the president, then you must be terminated. Enemies must die. All naysayers must be excoriated. 

GOP success is especially amazing given that their entire platform for the next four years was ‘Trump. Whatever he wants.’  As such, half the electorate drank from the cup of venality, vulgarity, and racism. Mirroring Gordon Gekko, one might say, “Hatred is good.” Of course, the Senatorial GOP lied, cheated, and stole a Supreme Court nominee. They copied their strategy straight from hell and told their minions, “God calls us to lie, defame, and cheat.” Glen Cook noted that more evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way. Do we expect politicians (whether GOP or Democratic) to proclaim they perform evil deeds in the name of Satan? Of course not.

Any attempt to politically embrace America, both racially and ethnically, in an increasingly divided society is misplaced, viewed with suspicion. My heating and air conditioning technician heard the line “we’re all Americans message,” and saw his America had evaporated and rather than accept change, he prefers to destroy all he sees, even if that hatred destroys himself. Given the permission to hate, half of America’s electorate chose a kingdom of ‘swill’ and its scraps of waste for pig feed. America’s new reality will chain Democrats from lofty horizons. Subtly, Democrats failed to understand that their party no longer looks like white America.

Unlike Democratic party delegates, Americans of the ‘rust belt’ and ‘Bible belt’ are not too thin, too rich, and too sophisticated to care about the fate of Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, or the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. They align themselves to the Republican thunder that reverberates a repeated mantra, “We are tougher, meaner, stronger, better Americans than Democrats!” Clinton’s fabulous ‘Deplorables’ slur and subsequent approach to statesmanship, “Strength and wisdom are not opposing values,” was a hit among the like-minded, but it was never Texas bumper sticker material. We simply refuse to trust.

Trust leads to some form of expectation. Wherein, that leads to the presumption that some things remain static. The disappointment is that at some point, everything changes. The question both GOP and Democrats must answer is difficult. Can we really trust politicians to not act only in ways that please those who think like them when they ought to find middle ground solutions that unify the multiple threads of our country? I’d argue no. But we can trust in ourselves.

“To have confidence in ourselves is to have confidence we can control our response. This is trust. No matter what we can possibly do in this short and fleeting life, without trust we are stuck being the traffic cop, trying to make everything go our way, according to our one-sided and self-deluded views.” 

~ Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi ~

Be Heard: Vote!

Watching any form of news the week prior to November elections is like enduring rubber band ligation for internal hemorrhoids. The victim generally rests their side or over a table and the doctor inserts a viewing instrument whereupon the hemorrhoid is grasped with an instrument, and a device places a rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid. I’ve had it performed. It isn’t pleasant. And, the procedure hurts like hell. Democrat, Republican, Green Party, and Neophytes telephonically perform this procedure via commercials in an unrelenting perversion of ‘democracy.’ 

In 2016 Law professor Lawrence Lessig claimed our founding fathers denounced ‘democracy.’ “But the “democracy” they [founding fathers] were criticizing was “direct democracy,” and the “Republic” they were championing was “representative democracy.” In essence, the framers’ wanted voters to choose representatives who would vote on passing and repealing laws. This form of representative democracy works only when a large majority of people participate in choosing their representatives. That can happen only when those in power agree that voting should be as easy and widely available as possible. 

So correct me if I am wrong, but one of the two major political parties is convinced that said [party] cannot win on an even playing field. Hence, why try? The ‘Orange One’ has spent the better part of a year arguing of a great vast (as in expansive) conspiracy of voting systems that can only be summarized as boarding the absurd. The rate of voting fraud overall in the US is less than 0.0009% (that’s like 1,125 or so ballots every election cycle). Ask a Trumper-thumper to prove fraud, and the fraud claims fall apart. Yet Republican-appointed judges will seemingly find justification to strike down attempts to allow people to vote.

Even as with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett — eight days before Election — some 70 million citizens had voted. That fact didn’t stop the Supreme Court from siding with the GOP in ordering Wisconsin not to count ballots received after Election Day, even if they were postmarked before. Earlier today, the ‘Orange One’ spewed forth more diarrhea, “We’re going to go in night of, as soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers.” Continuing, “I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait a long period of time after the election. Should’ve gotten their ballots in a long time before that. Could’ve gotten their ballots in [sic] a month ago. I think it’s a ridiculous decision.” What the GOP is really saying is, “America is by the people for the people whom I allow to vote. All others need not apply.”

Voting is a social justice issue. In this momentous political season, we (as in we the people) enter an electoral cycle that will answer fundamental questions about the kind of country we want America to be. Recent movements are taking impassioned and opposing stances on the exercise of political and economic power and reshaping the mainstream discourse. Overall, these change issues will determine humanity’s very future. Social justice is not about one singular issue. Instead, we must show others how to use spirituality to navigate life’s challenges — challenges like, say, a pandemic, a huge economic collapse, racial injustice, and social unrest. It is exactly what Christ would have wanted. It is a form of spirituality Buddha would have been proud of. Having a voice means unfretted access to voting and living in a democracy means every vote counts.

As spiritual teachers and leaders, we must embrace the fundamental human right that every voice has a right to be heard.  Therefore, make your voice heard. Vote.

I looked at the sample ballot while standing in the early voting line. The county set up the early voting center at a major library just two blocks from work. Of course there was a line, and it was long. Poll workers placed “yellow duct tape” on the carpeted floor. Cinematically, the message was “follow the yellow brick road.” Voters zig-zagged through ‘Fiction,’ ‘Non-Fiction,’ ‘Periodicals,’ ‘Audio/Visual,’ ‘Teens,’ ‘Romance,’ and ‘Current Affairs.’ Everyone followed the same path. Half-way through, I snickered. A woman ahead of me inquired of my laughter. “You know, ask people to wear a mask and they complain like hell about how it infringes upon their life. Yet, they will stand in line following tapped floors without question.” Chuckling she asked if I had any major thoughts for an election of a lifetime. Indeed I did, most coming from several days prior.

My doctor walked in the medical office and asked how I was doing. I regurgitated a perverted verse from Charles Dickens. “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, its been a season of fatigue, it is the season exhaustion, I was barren of hope, and feeling a winter of despair.” She paused for a moment, with slight inkling to mouth, “W… The F…?,” but caught herself. Recollecting her thoughts, she posed her question once more, “Please explain?” 

Exhaustion is difficult to live, but nearly impossible to explain. How do you explain deep tiredness that does not improve with rest? Early mornings are foggy, moving is a slog, and energy deletion appears from nowhere, like those half-drained Ray-O-Vac batteries my father presented at Christmas-time. “Just try em’” he said. They would, then didn’t. I can’t completely focus as if something is awry, but cannot quite sort it out. I operate at 85%-95%. I work and make a living, just like before. No one detects a problem, but post-event is nothing like pre-event.

Fatigue shadows me, especially since the incident. I reflect often, it was the day the night spun and life shuffled from ‘Years’ to ‘Months.’ Nearly half of people with Parkinson’s report fatigue as a major problem. Though I don’t rule out depression. “Maybe I did have a ‘mini-stroke,’” I tell myself. After all, strokes cause the same level of fatigue I experience. It will be difficult to know, for brain scan appointments can be weeks or months from the event. The earliest appointment available is November 10th. The whole encounter is frustration. If I saw Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez I’d scream.

What Sanders and Cortez has failed to answer is, “Exactly just how are you going to change health care? Yes, one can shout ‘Affordable Healthcare’ to the heavens. But how will your proposal change wait times to receive medical care?” Sanders and Cortez believe America is the richest country on earth. As such, no person should suffer because they cannot afford healthcare. Got it. Thank you. I applaud your push for a universal, single payer healthcare system. Tell me though, “What’s the point if you’re waiting for 20 days for an appointment?”

Neither Sanders nor Cortez offered anything close to a universal health care system where the government would own and operate hospitals – instead, they offered that the government would pay private providers an agreed upon rate for their services. Eventually, the country phase out of private insurance plans so everyone would receive insurance from the federal government. There would be no deductibles, no premiums, no co-payments for care. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Republican healthcare plan.

There have been at least 70 Republican-led attempts to repeal, modify or otherwise curb the Affordable Care Act since its inception. In the 2016 election, the ‘Orange One’ stated the GOP would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Per The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein, the Republican plan goes something like this: lack of protections is a feature. Ending protections for the sick is the central mechanism all GOP health-care proposals utilize. Essentially, GOP believes your premiums should reflect the risk you pose to the insurer, and insurers should be able to assess that risk and then set a rate accordingly. Younger people are less risk … Older folks or the ill (like me), well, sucks to be us.

I work in healthcare. And I am dying. More than likely, this is my last presidential election. When the woman ahead of me in early voting asked if I had any major thoughts for the election of a lifetime, I replied, “I am making this vote for the futures of my niece and nephew.” I went to the poll and thought of the character Kenny O’Donnell from the film Thirteen Days, “If the sun comes up tomorrow, it is only because of men of good will. And that’s – that’s all there is between us and the devil.”

I casted my vote for a future. Sorry Republicans, at this point in time, ‘… you ain’t it.’

It’s Free

In the past week, our President proclaimed that as COVID cases in Europe and Canada rise, “It’s going to disappear [in America], it is disappearing.” Additionally, since COVID was a blessing from God, he wants the American people to get the same treatment he did — for free. Think about that, free? It’s free America. COVID is free. As in nada. Just walk to the nearest hospital and order your free COVID treatment.
President Trump’s COVID medication cocktail contained a mix of proven drugs, over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and experimental antibodies only available to those participating in clinical trials. To the average person (without insurance), those medications would cost between $4,300 and $5,145. There is a minor caveat.

Monoclonal antibodies, including one made by Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, remain under development and are not yet approved for use in the US. The President received it under a “compassionate use” exemption, which the company said it has granted to fewer than ten people. In layman’s terms, ‘compassionate use’ means you are not getting it.

The monoclonal antibodies drug maker Regeneron evaluated the number of multiple dosages required for potential treatment. If I read the information correctly, the maximum dosages they can produce is estimated between 70,000 to 300,000. Maximum prevention doses round out between 420,000 to 1,300,000. Therein lay the math problem. America has approximately 330 million citizens, which of the 1.3 million Americans receives Regeneron? Even if you are lucky enough to receive Regeneron, is there a hospital available with available resources to treat you?

The massive shortfall in US inpatient hospital and ICU bed capacity raises important policy implications for current efforts to address COVID-19. There are not enough hospital beds. To meet the needs ahead, hospitals need to develop contingency plans to expand hospital capacity. Postponing elective inpatient surgical admissions is one straightforward strategy. Still, all hospitals in the US should establish clear protocols to aid decision making on which types of procedures and clinical diagnoses could be safely postponed. Second, the shortage of mechanical ventilators and ICU beds will require hospitals to transition inpatient operating rooms, ambulatory surgical sites, and post-anesthesia care units into flexible ICUs. After years of neglect, the American health system is outgunned.

The miracle vaccine some are desperate to acquire will pose a nightmare for others. What works in one country will fail in another. And Trump’s easy choice this week may not make sense next week. Failing to look at how closing schools’ and our economy to stop an outbreak is likely to surge into years of economic harm. Making choices in the era of Covid-19 isn’t just about fighting a virus; our moral code, ethics, and humanity are also at stake.

But fear not. COVID’s disappearing. Right? Right.

The doctor was quick and to the point. “After all our tests, we believe an experimental drug, consisting of cells manufactured and implanted in the eye to stimulate optic nerve growth and activity, might be the best method of fighting your symptoms. We would require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) via a compassionate use request that allows experimental drugs to patients outside clinical trials. But getting access to not-yet-approved pharmaceuticals via a compassionate use request is both arduous and challenging.”

What the doctor implied but did not say was, “You will go blind in your left eye because you are not a VIP and associated costs are bigger than the ‘Big Mac Combo Meal 1’ range. Also, you are likely to expire before receiving therapy approval. and, since most experimental treatments rarely work on dying patients, ‘compassionate use’ requests from patients like you become ‘compassionate not.’ In the end, you can still get to heaven with one eye. Ensure you look left and right before merging and change lanes accordingly.”

While paying the $40 copay, I saw Trump’s photo op in front of Walter Reed Medical Center. America’s chief dude made what media sources claim was a ‘photo-up’ by leaving his hospital suite to make a “surprise” drive-by to supporters while undergoing COVID-19 treatment. Trump’s drive-by triggered both safety concerns, outrage, and giving the middle finger to the more than 208,000 Americans who perished. The joyride only occurred because our chief asshole received medical treatments the poor working slob on Mainstreet, U.S.A., will never obtain.

Before the president left the White House for Walter Reed Medical Center, he received a single dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail. This experimental drug has shown promise in initial trials in improving symptoms and reducing virus levels in the body but has not received Food and Drug Administration approval. Trump was also treated with Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral medication shown to help treat COVID-19. Remdesivir’s benefits are modest: reducing hospital stays from 11 to 15 days.

For those with insurance, Remdesivir will top $3,000. How much-uninsured patients would pay remains unclear. Regeneron’s cost has not been publicly shared, but suffice to say it will not be in the ‘Big Mac Combo Meal 1’ range.

Trump’s a ‘Very Important Person (VIP),’ I am not. VIP treatment is a feature of American medicine. Major hospitals throughout the country provide private spaces for celebrities, the super-rich, and the influential. These are the patients who get shielded from the public. VIP’s include foreign nationals from places including Saudi Arabia, China, Canada, and Mexico.

The real coronavirus war cannot be flouted in a presidential joyride victory lap. Memorable scenes of community hospitals fighting on the front lines from California to Maine depicted medical centers nearly overwhelmed by desperately sick people. They are pictures of doctors and nurses working around-the-clock with insufficient equipment. And as of now, there are at least 208,000 COVID victims who cannot take a celebratory joyride. These 208,000 are alumni of the Big Mac Combo Meal 1.

I hope Tuesday, November 3rd, the remaining Big Mac Combo Meal 1 alumni will remember this joyride. I also hope the alumni remember this probably started during Trump’s introduction of  Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett — the same judge who will likely assist in overturning the Affordable Care Act. That means for Big Mac Combo Meal 1 alumni members. Get it now?

November 3rd.

My mother sent me to Sunday Morning Bible study early in my childhood. Much of it was unremarkable, except for a few lessons. One such lesson I remember. The teacher fashioned an animal from Play-Doh and held it out to the class. “Check out this awesome animal I just made! Pretty cool, huh? You know what, maybe this animal has special powers. What do you think?” Of course, we knew there were no special powers. Our teacher was not an artist. Soon, we moved onward to producing our images than the merits of hers. The lesson remains clear 50 years later. Most human inhabitants create a strange set of ‘gods’ which we’ll throw ourselves upon without exception. 

Jesus dramatically showed how the highly educated and the deeply devoted craft words and images about God versus the reality of knowing him. Rather than choose’ knowing God,’ a golden calf is substituted for truth. By instilling the virtues of an ornamental object, they are encouraging intellectual assent. As such, when the false God gets embedded, the outcome becomes tragic. 

In embracing the calf, we lean into vast swaths of character flaws. Instead of discernment, we embrace bankruptcies, self-medicate, and dive into the idolatry of individualism. The dissonance between faith ideals and faith are rerouted to the calf where populism, sexual abuse, environmental destruction, and moral failure to authenticate the message are carried out by people gathering at rallies and weekly worships for Christ. “Yes,” we exalt. “This person (our calf) is our Christ.”

In doing so, we absolve ourselves, and those elected, from responsibility for any action. “Ah,” we scream. “Damn that deep state (or family issues, skin color, economic background). It’s cause and effect, never accountability. “Don’t look here, look yonder. He’s responsible. They’re responsible. Not me.”

We kill Christ with a perverted form of truth and religiously wash our hands. We practice our sabbath through the willful and systemic murdering of dignity, truth, and honor. We condemn those labeled ‘different’ only to elevate our reputation among followers. 

America’s current calf has a long history of scandals: financial, sexual, and political. Yet our caricature of Christ appears as a wealthy republican or paranoid dictator as we neglect the real image of God, like those found in a lowly sharecropper, picking fruit, in the heat-soaked sun. Instead of a religion of peace, hope, love, and joy, our calf offers none.

Many evangelicals misunderstand our calf is a false prophet, as though all his words come from God. Like Children of Israel trying to find God in wrong places, supporters align. Some will protest, saying our calf puts prayer back in school, fights abortion, and meets with religious leaders. In doing so, we fail to ignore cruelty.

Christ said one can’t serve God and mammon. For either, you’ll love the one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). Christ also said that inasmuch as you had done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40). When Christians praise a rich man who is cruel to the poor and cheats them, when we praise asylum seekers’ cruelty, we are worshiping mammon. When one idolizes the vile, we exclaim, “Fuck you, God.” 

The unforgivable sin is specified in several Synoptic Gospels passages, including Mark 3:28–29, Matthew 12:31–32, and Luke 12:10. All of us need to reread these passages. For right now, we are God’s greatest blasphemy.

Veterans and military families were divided about reports that President Donald Trump made disparaging comments toward the military. Some service members bristled at the remarks while and others questioned whether they occurred. Supporters claim that should one twist the President’s words, take something out of context, or cannot refute anonymous sources, an avenue to criticize exists. Other veterans have become disenchanted by the Trump presidency. Therefore, regardless of what’s done today, America needs a change.

I have no clue whether Trump openly disparaged Veterans. His past attacks on John McCain, a Gold Star Family, his military leadership, and the open disregard of the Uniform Code of Military Justice can propel one to conclude that Trump may have disparage military members. As seen on the news, our fearless leader launched an unprecedented public attack against the U.S. military’s leadership on Monday, accusing them of waging wars to boost defense manufacturing companies’ profits. Also notable was the choice to attack members of the press, specifically Jennifer Griffin and Laurene Powell Jobs.

While reporters from other news outlets confirmed aspects of the disparagement, Griffin works for Fox. And there, in the house of Fox, opinion hosts and corporate owners are seen as Trump’s personal media outlet and reliable supporters. Griffin’s confirmation led to Trump’s call for her firing via Twitter. Laurene Powell Jobs was also accosted via Twitter, stating that The Atlantic was “failing” and “radical.” Job’s sin came because she established The Emerson Collective, which focuses on education, immigration reform, the environment, media, journalism, and health. The organization happens to have an ownership stake in both The Atlantic and in Axios. Why do women always get the brunt of attacks?

Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Elizabeth Warren, Heidi Cruz (and a long list of other women) also experienced attacks. The way he talks about women, any prominent, powerful woman, is trivializing in the most demeaning ways. Professor Marianne LaFrance, a psychologist at Yale University, stated that when a female opponent is criticized, that woman is often reduced to sexual objects or someone unworthy of respect or attention. Yet, Trump receives support.

Ms. G. (a Trump supporter from work) said she did not mind. She and other conservatives say there are more critical issues than his remarks. They applaud the low unemployment (before COVID) rate among women and appreciate how he fought against abortion. Supporters adore Trumps’ appointment of conservative judges, attack on the poor, anti-immigrant stance (unless you are from Norway/Europe), the fight against other countries via tariffs (which they pay, but what do I know). Yet, these supporters only look at one or two issues rather than the whole. Trump’s road to 270 electoral votes would have been a cakewalk had things been done differently.

Had the Trump administration implemented healthcare reform that reduced costs, covered everyone, and ensured quality care, his support would topple 90%. Did America get healthcare reform? No. Can I drive to work without worrying about whether the bridge my car is driving upon collapses? No. However, the Trump administration held many ‘Infrastructure’ weeks. Did America get better roads and bridges? No. And about that steel boom? Overall, the employment rate at steel mills remains unchanged from when Trump began his presidency. ‘Protectionism’ cost more jobs than it saved. Face it, America lacks a plan.

America’s leadership has no plan for COVID, no healthcare plan, no nothing. All American’s have received is ‘crass and crude,’ a hell of a lot of unemployed citizens, and the promise of darker times. “Praise Jesus that abortion will become illegal, and we have conservative judges,” I heard Ms. G. exclaim shortly after Justice Kavanaugh received his appointment. 

Ms. G. died two days ago in the same hospital I.C.U. she worked.

Trump’s fifty-plus minute diatribe in Charlotte, North Carolina reminded me of a Tale of Two Cities, “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, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . .” I flashed to 1963.

In June 1963, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc publicly burned himself to death in a plea for President Ngo Dinh Diem to show “charity and compassion” to all religions. By November 1963, Diem was overthrown. Students of history, all of us should compare such self-sacrifice against the tyranny of the current administration. To be fair, Trump doesn’t hate protests, only dissent.

Pandering to cult leadership is not new. However harmful we thought previous leaders were, I don’t recall the overly targeted criticism of athletes who knelt, silently and peacefully, during the national anthem. Public rebuking NFL players in a series of tweets ended the NFL quarterback (Kaepernick); goodness of evil was emphasized when white supremacists marched; and black men and women are wrongly shot, most recently in the back. And most Americans sat on our asses and watched it all while the ‘shit-show’ ran amok.

In four short years, America witnessed institutional dismantling, justice to the preferred, truth for those who lied under oath, and rapping U.S. coffers for personal gain. In four years, healthcare dismantled, environmental standards ripped apart, legal norms suffocated, sought election interference from foreign powers, separated children from immigrant families and threw them into cages like stray dogs, told citizens to inject bleach (or maybe a light), spouted unproven medical quackery, and by December, will have witnessed 300,000 U.S. citizens die. We watch, all the while acknowledging the damage.

The president’s sister described him as a liar and fake. A former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security deemed him a danger to the country. CNN claims a prominent Fox News anchor had once called him “batshit crazy.” John Bolton, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have described our leader as a danger to America. Sadly, none of these men or women were able to rise above the moment to demonstrate something greater. Perseverance of love failed miserably.

In his death, Thich Quang Duc demonstrated his compassion love – the need for bridges, not hatred. Presidential Historian Jon Meacham echoed Duc’s sentiment at the recent Democratic Convention, “Extremism, nativism, isolationism and a lack of economic opportunity for working people are all preventing us from realizing our nation’s promise, and so we must decide whether we will continue to be prisoners of the darkest of American forces or will we free ourselves to write a brighter better nobler story. Our (the American) story has soared when we have built bridges, not walls.”

Which story will you build? Bridges? Or walls?

In theory, every day is a gift. Actor Richard Evans said, “It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” And true to Evans’ words, I have witnessed tremendous kindness and generosity. 

A Buddhist would say our Coronavirus times should remind us of what is essential: Grandparents, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and family. More importantly, is there a call to review personal responsibility? While Presidents, CEO’s and our state leaders speak, cite statistics, and map out a post-COVID world, are we morally and ethically making the ‘right’ sacrifices? As we celebrate Memorial Day, would those (the “Greatest Generation”) agree that this generation is sacrificing anything?

I worry we’re not.

Tom Brokaw referred to the “Greatest Generation” as those men and women of the Great Depression, who had watched their parents lose their businesses, farms, jobs, and hopes and went directly into uniform into the military to fight tyranny. Brokaw noted that very stage of their lives, they were part of historical challenges and achievements of a magnitude the world had never before witnessed and credits them with much of the freedom and affluence we experience today.

It wasn’t all good. As many noted, during the early pre-war years against Germany, the government asked more of the public as the nation shifted to an all-out war footing. Like today, defiance of the government’s dictates was not uncommon across ideological boundaries. Just as early appeals to gather scrap metal for munitions production were ignored, today, we find it difficult to social distance and wear a face mask. And just as the Roosevelt administration’s plea for nonstop factory fostered strikes and work stoppages, I can only imagine how a person making more in unemployment than working will become motivated to sacrifice.

While American patriotism and wartime fervor played essential roles in successes, it was active leadership from the Roosevelt administration, especially its rhetoric and propaganda, which secured the buy-in. Today, we have an administration weaponizing division, promoting bogus health prevention (hydroxychloroquine) and refusing to explain what is needed and why.

We have failed to adopt clear, consistent, repeated messaging to encourage Americans in the battle required to slow coronavirus’ spread. I looked at the photos from Osage Beach, Missouri. Osage Beach is in the ‘Lake of The Ozarks.’ I am unsurprised by the crowded bars and disregard for social distancing. Yet, these people will beg medical clinicians to make every effort to save them, while simultaneously professing how innocent they are and how they did nothing wrong. 

The Atlantic summarized my thoughts well.

Some people who carried on with their nonessential weekend outings shared their rationale with reporters. One 40-year-old who went with a friend to their favorite bar on Sunday explained to the Los Angeles Times, “This could be the last bar we go to in a long time.” In Boston, a man in line at a bar with an hour-long wait reasoned to a Boston Globe reporter that, as a pharmacist, he was already going to have a high risk of exposure at work anyway, so “there’s only so much I can do” to avoid the virus. And one compassionate, though still risk-taking, D.C. diner told Washingtonian, “As long as businesses are open and the condition doesn’t worsen, I want to support those folks depending on patrons to make their living.

Writer Joe Pinsker noted, “These are extremely weak justifications for a choice that ultimately puts one’s short-term social enjoyment ahead of the health—and maybe even lives—of countless people who are more vulnerable to the disease. Beyond lacking clear and forceful guidance from President Trump and his administration, … people have failed to apprehend the gravity of the outbreak and the importance of staying in.

What happened to Memorial Day 2020? For first responders, clinicians, and rescue personnel across the country, sorrow will intertwine with pride of service and sacrifice. For those in Osage Beach and others with the same mentality, F••• it. It’s Miller Time.

Unfortunately, I see darker skies on the horizon.

Last Friday (May 1), MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski read back to Biden his own statement from 2018 about Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades earlier: 

“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she is talking about is real, whether or not she forgets the facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.”

In February 2020, Forbes Contributor Karlyn Borysenko wrote:

“If you call a woman a liar, even if you didn’t do [what you’re being accused of], you’re guilty of calling a woman a liar, so there’s no way out. If you don’t deny it, you’re thought to be guilty. If you do deny it, you’ve committed an additional political sin, so it’s a trap. And it feels just horrible…They either assume your guilt, or they assume you shouldn’t be asserting your innocence.”

Ms. Borysenko’s words haunt me; I can’t get past them. In my 2017 blog post, The Monica Lewinsky’s of the World Need Us, I wrote from a perspective of my failures – demons, some I might claim to carry even today. My writing exposes deeper truths. Throughout the years, I’ve taken an extensive personal inventory of the man I’ve become. For quite some time, (my stock) wasn’t pretty. Many years later, I take responsibility for speaking out for listening to those who claim to be victims and holding men accountable for their actions.

For Trump, there is no truth. He has written his own rules for years. The irony of Trump Presidency came while watching conservative religious leaders trip over themselves to support a man, that by all accounts, would likely experience the express elevator to the basement. At the same time, I was excommunicated by the church for having the gall to visit a Buddhist monastery. 

Looking at the Biden allegations, I see only caricatures of authoritarian pompousness from everyone. Is the accuser some form of monster: a wasted figure that retreated for nearly thirty-years only to now give up her secret? Were the motivations for potentially destroying Biden’s campaign (or Trump, or Clinton) clear: is it really in the interest of justice? Is the process of scrutiny really to protect the public from an abusive leader? Is so, why did America fail and assert no such strength during the 2016 campaign? And, should an accused resign, is resignation is proof of guilt?

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s hard not to leap to the presumption of guilt once a sexual accusation is made. This is 2020, and in dramatic form, we must always believe. Therefore, the burden of proof is on the defense.

For many victims, the #MeToo movement has transformed an assault into something empowering. And for the most part, such movements have netted positive change. Nonetheless, when such allegations occur, all of us (media included) begin a righteous quest to discover our Truth, not necessarily the real Truth. In the end, without evidence, we become trapped by torrents of opposing viewpoints. 

Herein lay our error. 

If we believe we hold the monopoly of Truth, the truth will die. Reality is neither black nor white. Real allegations occur, and false allegations occur. Who do I believe? What is the Truth of this moment or that moment? Will I ever be able to judge this person? Will I ever be able to put this to rest, with a verdict? Can we get closure?

In the end, while most believe sexual assault is unacceptable, when push comes to shove, there are circumstances we’re willing to tolerate simply because other things matter more. That certainly held for Trump. The same for Clinton. But I hope to god it’s not true of Biden.

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