Category: Social Justice


America’s lust for hate and weaponization intersected three time this week. First, on Wednesday, a white man with a history of violence shot and killed two African-Americans, seemingly at random, at a Kentucky grocery store. Second, after mail bombs were sent to Democratic criticized by the President. And third, on Saturday, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people attending Jewish services.

In today’s world, ‘prayers and thoughts’ are likened to ‘checking a box.” All us recognize  something has to change. We even recognize our participation in injustice, and yet we intend to do nothing. So, just as in other acts of terror, American political leaders are quick to offer prayers, condolences and thoughts but deny any culpability. In essence, our political leaders are saying, “Screw’em. They’re dead.” When tragedy occurs, ‘thoughts and prayers. Check.

Op-ed writer AJ Willingham capture my thoughts.

“Semantic satiation is the phenomenon in which a word or phrase is repeated so often it loses its meaning. But it also becomes something ridiculous, a jumble of letters that feels alien on the tongue and reads like gibberish on paper.

“Thoughts and prayers” has reached that full semantic satiation.

In today’s world, politicians take line up as guests on MSNBC, CNN, FOX News and others and deny any responsibility for their actions. In their minds, ‘thoughts and prayers’ absolves them of guilt. In today’s world of Trump, the National Rifle Association and second amendment fear mongering, dissent is a deadly business. In fact, white supremacist Andrew Anglin told the HuffPost what he thought of Trump’s refusal to denounce them. “We interpret that as an endorsement.”

A friend asked, “Do you believe Trump is either, in whole or partly, responsible?

Yes.” I replied.

Forbes writer Todd Essig summarizes my thoughts.

President Trump has, intentionally or not, hit a trifecta of hate that foments terrorism, in this case domestic terrorism. At rallies and speeches his incendiary eloquence identifies opponents as enemies then motivates hatred and sanctions violence against them. Facts no longer matter. Nor do values shared with those he sees as horrible, terrible people. What matters is that it’s us versus them. And we can’t let them win. Never apologize, never back down.

However, my friend missed the larger question.

Are we, like Trump, either partly or in whole, responsible?

Yes,” I would have replied. “America is just as liable.”

America’s inaction gives permission of hatred. One percent of Americans, was responsible for about a fifth of hate crimes. Other assaults included an elderly man at a Jewish retirement home, a 12-year-old boy on his way home from Friday prayers, a woman in a taxi, a person on a subway train and a man who was attacked and maced while waiting at a red light and a man pulling down a statue and calling members of a Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Center “Devil Worshippers.

Buddha taught hatred is a form of suffering. He said holding hatred in the mind and heart is like tightly clutching a hot coal. Guess who suffers? As such, those responsible for controlling a white-nationalist President (that being ‘we‘) have done nothing. America’s done nothing. No one does anything except offering thoughts and prayers.

I envision many getting to heaven and Christ asking, “Hey. What’s that in your hand?”

Seven YearsCNN journalist Bill Weir has been traveling with the migrant caravan traveling from Mexico’s’ southern border to the U.S./Mexico border. While traveling some social media idiots aren’t sharing messages of hope or prayers, they’re actually laughing at the fact that Hurricane Willa is headed straight for the migrant caravan. Some making these racist comments call themselves Christians. This post is reflective of many.

@sxdoc: “Willa is from the word William which means Valiant Protector..God has sent Willa into the path of the caravan as his protector of the USA. What are the odds that at the time of a invasion a hurricane would form..the weather service would be into the W’s, and Willa would be it!”

As Weir posted on Twitter:

Scooping jaw off of floor after reading the replies to this tweet. It seems a whole bunch of your American neighbors are praying for a hurricane to kill thousands of families fleeing poverty, corruption and violence.

Make The Old Testament Great Again, I guess. https://t.co/ZNwcb3kDB7

Got to be God. Of course. No other way to explain it. Right? Right.

Idiots like blogger Deplorable Suzi Super Elite, whose ancestors put their trust in (Psalm 22:4), have determined God is using Hurricane Willa to send a message. As such, I have have a few questions.

  • On September 20th London news outlets reported a tourist died after the caravan she was in was blown off a cliff from Storm Ali. What message did God send this woman?
  • October 23rd, firefighters reported a mother and child were among five killed in ‘biblical’ storm Florence while looters began to raid abandoned homes and stores. Was God’s message to the mother and child or the firefighters?
  • Continuing with ‘biblical’ theme of Hurricane Florence, what message was God giving a 61-year-old South Carolina woman when the vehicle she was driving struck a tree” Was it “Hey! You hit a tree?”
  • And lest we forget when Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico. Island officials raised the death toll from 64 to 2,975. Obviously a message from God? Yes? No?

The Mexican government said authorities had given “priority attention” to elders, children and women — some of whom were pregnant. Authorities stated there were 2,200 migrants remaining on the bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico. Yet, for some Christians like Deplorable Suzi Super Elite, our form of assistance is to pray Hurricane Willa destroys asylum seekers. WTH?

We often talk as if there is some formal plan – as if God was the great arbiter, when in reality, we use any natural disaster, even Hurricanes, to hide our prejudices. As Rabbi Brad Hirschfield stated one year after September 11th:

You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you’d better also be able to explain how the plan killed them. And the test of that has nothing to do with saying it in your synagogue or your church. The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried someone and look in their eyes and tell them, “God’s plan was to blow your loved one apart.” Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their children should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without a parent. If you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God. But that at least has integrity.

Such hateful prayers against poor immigrants have nothing to do with Christ, looks nothing like Christ, and is not at all what Christ would have taught or wanted followers to do. I am embarrassed for you. And I am embarrassed for Christ.

I close with a quote from Heinrich Harrer’s character in Seven Years in Tibet, (with slight modifications):

A man who betrays Christ in this fashion shouldn’t preach about love. I wish shame be your torture and that torture be your life. May both be long. 

The New York Times, Commonwealth Fund and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health surveyed those who use the health care system the most. According to their report, while the whole point of health insurance was to protect one from financial ruin in case of catastrophic, costly health problems, the results show it often fails in that basic function. In essence, even those with healthcare insurance face financial ruin.

One key problem, not many really know what their insurance covers. In the case of my parents, one would have thought I requested top secret clearance to national secrets. Thus, I had to threaten to sue the insurance company to receive a complete copy of their medical plan. It was stunning to see and digest the process for used to determine what services were covered and what services were not covered.

One small area I delved into involved dementia and Alzheimer’s. As previously written, the world hasn’t prepared for Alzheimer’s or dementia care. But even today, a major factor affecting the quality of such care is being able to consistently deliver it. In custodial care, Nursing Assistants are relatively disadvantaged economically, have low levels of educational attainment, serve under physically and emotionally demanding work, and are among the lowest paid. Thus, society cleans their conscious by casting loved ones into the hands of these people and later wonder aloud of the things that went wrong.

For those like my father, dementia is an increasing cause of suffering. Insurers however, both private or government, fail to address the tidal wave of custodial long-term care required by an aging population. As a result, as the population of elderly grows,  dementia will replace cancer as the most feared illness. Dementia’s impact not only affects the person with the disease, but family members, friends and those who care for them at home are forced to provide care options to which they are neither prepared nor can financially afford.

Those battling the ethical dilemma generally fall into two groups. Proponents profess that Jesus believed Christians should support a Christian president. Therefore, since the president believes in a public health option, we should therefore assist our fellow man. On the other hand, opponents claim the problem we face is that Jesus never mentioned universal healthcare. There’s neither any Biblical mandate to provide healthcare, nor is there any mandate to implement.

There is a third viewpoint – the one that blames. In the blame-game, current congressional leaders espouse exclusivity. It’s the wanton desire to blame and punish the poor for all societal ills. It is similar to Nazi Germany blaming Jews. Most recently, Senator Mitch McConnell blamed poor people for budget problems his party created. Need another example? Look no further than the September 2011 Republican presidential debate.

Moderator Wolf Blitzer pushed candidate Ron Paul about a hypothetical man without insurance who goes into a coma. “That’s what’s freedom is all about,” replied Paul. “Are you saying society should just let him die?” asked Blitzer. To which point several members of the Tea Party-heavy audience interrupted with “YEAH!”

In almost every country, the population aged 60 years and over is growing faster than any other age group, resulting in an increase in older people’s care needs. According to WHO, the population aged 60 and over is expected to increase from today’s 600 million to an estimated 2 billion by 2050.

As a Buddhist working in the medical field, good organizational structures, based on a well-coordinated team with good co-workers and a fair and understanding manager, will be critical for maintaining good care. What current congressional leaders miss is that when Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare is cut, it will be difficult to care for the old if ethical foundations for caring is absent.

Citing my personal ethics, we are called, not only as society, but as a humanity, to treat people with loving kindness. This moral compass means moving from simply understanding medical knowledge to acting in spirit-filled love. The following incident as told by a clinician highlights such purpose.

An elderly woman near 90 was acutely admitted. She did not feel well at all, wanted to have her blood pressure checked and said she felt as though shadows were falling over her. We sat and talked for quite some time and I took my time with her. She said that I was the first person she had met that looked into her eyes.

Unless you’re part of the 4%, any proposed healthcare cuts will offer little but suffering. Most will be presented with hard choices, pay a bill, pay for healthcare or pay for a prescription. At the end of the day, society has to do something better than simply saying, “Die.”

Your vote is important, not only for today and tomorrow, but for 2050 as well.

In the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, the character Rannulph Junuh, demonstrates personal integrity in a way rarely seen in today.

On the final hole, Rannulph Junuh is in a virtual tie with rival golfers. As Junuh prepares to chip, he reaches down to remove a twig beside his ball and his ball moves slightly. Junuh and his young caddy, Hardy, are the only two witnesses to the ball’s movement.

With tremendous courage, Junuh admits, “The ball moved.”

Hardy immediately begs him not to say anything, as he is sure it would mean defeat. Hardy tells him, “No one saw it move but me and you. I promise I will never tell. No one will ever know.”

Continuing to display uncommon integrity and courage, Junuh responds, “I’ll know and you will know.”

True ‘integrity‘ is missing from today’s world. The lack of integrity displayed during the Kavanaugh hearing by both Republicans and Democrats was pitiful. Accordingly, Senator Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Joe Manchin could be summarized similar to Manchin’s post-procedural vote when Manchin was asked if he thought there was “… still place in the Democratic Party for you after this,” Manchin replied, “I’m just a good old West Virginia boy” and walked away.

Manchin made his decision only after Collins professed her loyalty to Trump, thus removing any political pressure. That’s like claiming you’ve participated in battle by staying in a foxhole. However, truth be told, everyone really knows you’re chicken-shit. In the military, we’d label Manchin a coward.  Or as Trump Jr., truthfully, but mockingly noted, “A real profile in courage.”

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), appeared to be the only profile in courage compared to her colleague from West Virginia. Heitkamp, to whom FiveThirtyEight gives a 31.5 percent chance of winning her Senate race in November, came out strong against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, no matter the political consequences.

Key takeaways.

  1. Save your calendars. They might save your career. Worked for Kavanaugh. Might work for you. If you need a blank calendar from 1982, you can purchase them on eBay for approximately $7.00. Strange how no one asked Kavanaugh for his 1983 and 1984 calendars, just to see if he really kept them. Somewhere, I envision a former NBC morning host sitting on his couch thinking, “Shit. Wish I thought of that.”
  2. Current dialogue and discourse reinforces the idea that if sexual assault isn’t reported right away, it obviously didn’t happen. Or, as Orrin Hatch would say, you’re “mixed up.” Or as others have alluded, “We believe you were assaulted, but we believe you’ve got the wrong accuser.” Logic alone says this type of attitude has serious implications for survivors and supporters alike.
  3. A woman holding a thirty-year old calendar, claiming wild Clinton conspiracy theories and openly weeping on a national stage never gets elected, holds any office, or gets confirmed to the Supreme Court. Only privileged white men can do that.
  4. The average age of members of the U.S. House at the beginning of the 114 Congress was 57.0 years, with Senators being 61.0 years. And for young adults aged 25 or less, a very white 85-year-old Chuck Grassley, a very white white 84-year-old Orrin Hatch, and a very white 63-year-old Lindsay Graham decided how you get to live for the next 30 – 40 years. Congratulations!
  5. Like Obama said, elections have consequences – Trump won. Still, as a political force, millennial’s rival boomers. But will millennial’s vote? They didn’t in 2016. Will they in 2018? How about 2020?

While The Legend of Bagger Vance ended better that what most will experience, the message is clear. Our level of integrity should be the same, regardless of the outcome. In life, in work, in school, at home, or in society, opportunities to cut corners, cheat or get ahead will often go unnoticed. If we don’t practice our integrity when alone, we’re less likely to do the right thing when someone watches. And people like Trump, Grassley, Hatch, Collins and Manchin hope no one watches.

At the end of the day, maybe’s there’s some modicum of hope. Minutes after Sen. Susan Collins announced her support for Brett Kavanaugh, the site to fund her opponent was so overwhelmed it crashed.

President Trump mocked the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford at a rally in the state of Mississippi.

‘I had one beer.’ Well do you think it was… ‘Nope. It was one beer.’ Oh good. How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember.’ How did you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.'”

What neighborhood was it in? ‘I don’t know.’ Where’s the house? ‘I don’t know. Upstairs. Downstairs. I don’t know. But I had one beer that’s the only thing I remember.’

Mr. Trump, I was raped four times between the ages of eight and twelve. But it’s just so hard to remember. I know once was early evening. Once was early morning, sometime after midnight as everyone slept. Another was afternoon, occurring upstairs while everyone else was downstairs. The last one happened in the shower.

To be honest, I can’t remember neither the day nor the date. I don’t remember the hour. Yes, Mr. Trump. I don’t recall if was clear, sunny or rainy. I cannot remember if there was moonlight, a clouded sky, stormy or if there was a gentle breeze. I am so sorry Mr. Trump, I don’t remember the seasons. Let try to recall. Was it winter, spring, summer, or fall? Honestly, don’t remember. Does this make me evil?

I have no clue who drove me. Hmm, maybe my parents drove. Not sure Mr. Trump – I was only eight the first time. Or maybe my cousin. Maybe my cousin came to my house. Then again not all rapes occurred at the same home. Yeah, Mr. Trump, you’re right. I don’t remember.

So, Mr. Trump, am I evil? AM I EVIL?

Before responding, allow me to tell you what I do remember. I do remember my brother’s and cousin’s face. And I will never forget my brother’s friend. I do remember my clothes cut off, the scissor’s cool steel pressed against me, gliding across my skin. I do remember my brother holding me down. I do remember being tied to a bed spread eagle. I do remember my attacker’s penis rubbing against my gentiles. I do remember being sucked. I do remember that warm climax being spread over my chest. I do remember the laughter.

But Mr. Trump, I don’t remember which bedroom I was raped in. Does that make me evil?

I do remember being bathed. I do remember having to bathe my attacker in the shower. I do remember the taste and having to wash my mouth. You know Mr. Trump, I do remember hot water did not help ease the entry.

But Mr. Trump, I don’t remember which bathroom I was raped in. Does that make me evil?

And gosh Mr. Trump, I do remember being complimented. I do remember being told I was good and I had a talent for making one climax. I do remember having to oil and massage my attacker’s penis. I do remember him coming in my room, just after midnight, sliding into bed next to me. Holding me. Touching me. Inserting himself between my legs. I do remember the slow rocking motion of the bed. I do remember being forced to lick him dry.

But I don’t remember the bed. Nor which bed. Does that make me evil?

I do remember feeling so alone … ashamed … worthless. I do remember. I do remember.

So, Mr. Trump? Am I evil? Is Dr. Ford an evil person? Are those who have the courage to step forward evil? No. We’re the movement you see on the horizon.

Remember that!

I am one of many who never told my parents what happened to me. From age 8 through 10, I was sexually assaulted four times – once by my brother and cousin, once by my brother and his friend, once by my cousin and once by my brother’s friend. I wrote of one event in December 2012, Theodicy – No Easy Answer for Children.

After Dr. Ford’s testimony this past Thursday, I was chilled re-reading my 2012 blog post.

“Never shall I ever forget the laughter …”

Watching the Kavanaugh hearings, my helplessness was magnified by the possibility Kavanaugh would be elevated to a position of enormous authority, and seeing the sympathy and the sympathy he cries for just irritates me. Trump called Kavanaugh “a wonderful man, and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever.” Similarly, my attacker is considered a Catholic man of honor, has a family and grandchildren.

Another point. Is ‘living hell’ really hell? In the Judicial Committee Hearing, Lindsay Graham yelled, “This is not a job interview, this is hell.” Likewise, Kavanaugh stated his life was ruined, that these past several weeks was a circus.

Really? Two weeks is hell?

I wonder if Graham or Kavanaugh understand what Dr. Ford’s life is like. How about mine? I can’t speak for Dr. Ford, but in 2012, I posted, “… my soul was murdered and fell into a silent abyss … [I am] both insignificant and invisible, nothing more.”

Commentator Andrew Prokop captured my thoughts perfectly.

Graham indisputably made a splash in Trumpworld, providing exactly what they needed politically and telling them exactly what they wanted to hear — that Democrats were the villains and Kavanaugh was a good man.

In essence, Kavanaugh’s defense suggests a prestigious education is evidence of moral righteousness. The accused is an honorable man who attended a privileged Jesuit, all-boys, preparatory high school and onto Yale law School. Dr. Ford completed degrees from the University of North Carolina, Pepperdine University and the University of Southern California.  If we take Kavanaugh’s claim verbatim, would Dr. Ford be more honorable if she had attended Yale? And what of me? I completed college at a state university. Therefore, do I remain nothing? In the sight of God, am I still insignificant and invisible?

I offer three thoughts.

First. Do no harm. As a Buddhist, I know all of us have a short life span. Therefore, we cannot know the long-term results of our actions. But recognizing that what we say and do can have repercussions for months, years, or eons.  We cannot know the “final” outcome of something we think, do or say.

Second. Great gifts of spiritual/social insight can coexist with psychological and psychiatric illness. It’s important to understand that it is possible to be simultaneously gifted and disturbed. No matter what school, wisdom or privilege a teacher or pastor or imam claims, no one is exempt from psychological suffering. Even leaders. If all if us were more understanding of ourselves and others, it would be less shameful for such exalted mentors, Kavanaugh and all, to receive treatment when required.

And third. Perhaps in the years to come, the #MeToo allegations will steep like tea throughout Kavanaugh and help usher in a growing awareness that sexism and sexual assault invariably sets the stage for suffering in all faiths and all levels of privilege.

It’s hard to write an eloquent memoriam of McCain when many an author have captured McCain’s and eloquence so much better. Yet, as my friends would note, my view of McCain is complicated. Writer Jeff Barker captured my thoughts perfectly:

“But he [McCain] once told me that Udall naturally possessed something McCain had to continually strive for — grace. McCain could be engaging and jocular but also temperamental, sometimes holding years-long grudges or allowing his passion for a pet cause to override his better instincts.”

Yeah. Been there myself. Truth be told, we all hold grudges.

Still, in the spirit of love, while walking my parent’s dog on the outskirts of Tucson, AZ, I calmly listened to many a resident openly admiring the man who represented the state. However, when querying about what McCain had done for them in the last 5 years, not one could answer. Statisticians could claim McCain was no Maverick, for he voted along party lines approximately 94% of the time. Yet I will focus on McCain, the hero.

I was seven years old when McCain’s Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down over Vietnam. While I played ‘Army’ in the backyard, McCain spent five and a half years in North Vietnam being tortured. He refused to leave the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ without fellow POWs’. Thus, when I think of the rift between a current leader and McCain, I remember Khizr Khan directly addressing a political candidate, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

McCain’s worldview can be paraphrased from his last words to America:

And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

But the uniqueness of John McCain are echoed in Meghan McCain’s tribute.

“In the … years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me and supported me in all things. He taught me how to live. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman — and he showed me what it is to be a man.”

… the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations and his love.”

Ponder Ms. McCain’s note“He showed what it is to be a man.”

I was in the military and received medals. But I’m no hero. Borrowing from the Bible,  I am not worthy to untie the strap of McCain’s shoes. Dale Carnegie once wrote, ” The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus.”  McCain is a true ‘once in a lifetime real deal.’ We will miss him dearly.

So my friends … live to his example.

General Fearless:As, President Trump indicated, a combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom launched precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.  We thank them both.

One year ago, Assad launched a savage chemical weapons attack against his own innocent people.  The United States responded with 58 missile strikes that destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force. Probably more like 50%. It was something like the world has never seen before. As Bernie Sanders would say, ‘It was yuge.’

Last Saturday, the Assad regime deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians — this time, in the town of Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus.  This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime. The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air.  These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead.

I can assure you we took every measure and precaution to strike only what we targeted and –– and we successfully hit every target and believe we have significantly cripple Assad’s capability to use chemical weapons in the future.

Now, I’ll take a few questions.”

Fake News Reporter:General, how did you assess success?

General Fearless:Let me show a graphic just received.

In these before and after photos, you can tell we struck an already previously destroyed target. If you look really close, through a microscope, you’ll see part of the roof in the ‘Before” photo may have been moved to the right in the ‘After’ photo.”

 Fake News Reporter:General, these pictures don’t show any differences?

General Fearless:Well, we struck at night to purposely limit damage against the enemy and reduce loss of life.

Fake News Reporter:Huh? I’m sorry General, that makes no sense.”

General Fearless:Look, someone was having a bad yesterday and throwing temper-tantrums. There wasn’t an 18-wheeler available to climb into and pretend to be a trucker. So, we let him play with over $100 million in missiles.”

Fake News Reporter:One last question General. Washington Post Reporter Jasmine El-Gamal recently wrote that Assad has been associated with words such as “monster,” “vicious” and “unacceptable” are being recycled in news statements and interviews. Given the unfathomable suffering that has beset the Syrian people at the hands of Assad, the unwillingness of the international community to threaten action unless the Islamic State (ISIS) or chemical weapons are involved, one element is noticeably and consistently absent: Syria’s civilians, who for the past several years have lived in a terrifying hell on Earth, often unable to leave their houses. Syrian Network for Human Rights estimated that the Assad regime had dropped nearly 70,000-barrel bombs since July 2012 — and sometimes forced people to watch as children slowly starved to death.

Am I correct in saying that the United States and their Allies are not ok with chemical weapons but ok with everything else?”

General Fearless:Yup, but we sent Assad a message.”

KingEddie Glaude Jr. made a stunningly insightful comment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. James Baldwin wrote, “... we had to invent the word “nigger” to justify the crime.”

In other words, if we wish to conceal ignorance and the openness of our own prejudice, create a word to cover it. Need to conceal your racism of Hispanics, call them ‘rapists.’ Need to dodge your hate of Muslims, classify them as ‘terrorists.’ Dislike a reporter or news service, call them ‘liars,’ ‘dishonest‘ and ‘fake news.’ Blame a company (Amazon) for congressional leadership inability to lead (US Post Office). Need to demean your predecessor(s), call them ‘cheatin‘ [sic].

Factual support of any claim is secondary or tertiary. No need. Simply represent yourself as the ‘truth, the light, or the way’ just as a famous politician proposed in July 2016 when he asked Americans not to place their trust in God, but him. “I am your voice. I alone can fix this.” And like those on the Exodus, we crafted our golden calf, placed it unto our personal alter and believed that he … alone … could solve our problems.

Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King shared many ideologies. But they both probably share that our current desire for the golden calf is born from hatred not from wisdom. Hatred. Jealousy. Bitterness. A person who suffered much fear, anger and violence comes from such darkness.

As such, this level of darkness lives not in the possible, but from scarcity, “there’s only so much pie to go around, and if you get some there will be less for me“.  This mindset could be viewed as a “scarcity mentality” and is part of the Lose-Win paradigm.

Stephen R. Covey explained in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“: The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life.

“People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production.  They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people – even, and sometimes especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates.  It’s almost as if something is being taken from them when someone else receives special recognition or windfall gain or has remarkable success or achievement.

Although they may verbally express happiness for others’ success, inwardly they are eating their hearts out.  Their sense of worth comes from being compared, and someone else’s success, to some degree, means their failure.  Only so many people can be “A” students; only one person can be “number one”.  To “win” simply means to “beat.”

It’s difficult for people with a scarcity mentality to be members of a complimentary team.  They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty.

Luke 6:38 states “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

I am sure the question Dr. Martin Luther King would ask you to ponder is, which gift will you choose – anger or love? Unfortunately, it appears that 50 years after Dr. King’s death, we’re still embracing the golden calf.

This past February, I turned 58 — seven years away from Medicare, eight years or so away from Social Security. So there it is: I’m one of the last of the baby boomer generation (1946 – 1964), a Buddhist, and just another individual soul face to face with his own aging. All of this was reinforced a week about when an ex looked at my medical bills, glared into my eyes and stated the obvious:

“You cost too much.

Yes … “I” … cost too much.

Sorry,” I explained. “I was supposed to have been dead already.”

If death had occurred, there’d be no underlying medical expenses. No costs. No loss of employment wages. No hassels. However, the past six months have been a de facto race to retain eyesight. There was no major accident. I did not poke out an eye. I did not succum to household chemicals or hit by a baseball. There was no car accident, no fistfight, not even a stumble. I simply awoke on the morning of January 26th and couldn’t see. While I survived five major eye surgeries between the last week in January and first week of February, I accumulated $9,000 in health care deductibles and another $4,000 in lost income.

All that was just eye surgery.

All told, I was lucky. I had health insurance, albeit COBRA from a previous employer. Fast forward to 2025, all of us will likely to encounter a shortage of primary care physicians, increased emphasis on disease prevention, growth in electronic medical record-keeping, and growing disparities in both access and quality of primary care. Simply put, if you’re rich, you’ll have healthcare. If you’re poor, you die.

The number of those aged 60 and over will increase to 1.2 billion in 2025 and subsequently to two billion in 2050. By 2050, twenty-two (22%) percent of the world’s population will be over age 60 and 75% of the elderly will be living in countries with overburdened health care delivery systems. People, like me, will experience higher prevalence of chronic diseases, physical disabilities, mental illnesses and other co-morbidities.

While health care for the elderly requires collaboration of health, social welfare, rural/urban development and legal sectors, legislators continue to push aside such thoughts and while dropping billions into other investments, such as military armament, wasted border walls and other pet projects.

In fact, legislators say I cost too much, as Paul Ryan noted in December 2017;

We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show“… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.

By 2050, 80% of all older people will live in low- and middle-income countries. As a generation of aging baby boomers, and a corresponding uptick in chronic illnesses, meets rising medical costs in a perfect storm, the medical and social services communities have to face a critical question: How can we best provide care for our nation’s low-income elderly population?

Financing alone will not be enough. I invite all those who are interested to reach out to your communities, get involved, and include yourself in the ongoing health care conversation. Only together can we create solutions for the expansion and improvement of community-based health care to better serve all our citizens. We have to do something now, now in 2025 or 2050. If we don’t, one day, you’ll be informed you cost too much.

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