Tag Archive: Compassion


After reading Forbes writer John Wasik article of how the GOP Tax Plan screws the middle class, I doth believe the Ghost of Christmas Hate has arrived.

First, the GOP argument is that an average family earning $60,000 annually nets a couple grand – roughly $2,100 – to which they get to choose how to dispense versus the U.S. Government selection. If you’re Republican, rejoice. Clap. Clap. Applause. Applause. Say, “Amen Brothers!” and “Praise Jesus.” If you’re Democratic, ‘Meh!

So how does the Ghost of Christmas Hate fit? Wasik noted that tax break comes with trade-offs. Two grand never comes free. Since the tax plan adds $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the imbalance is offset by cuts in “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid or tax increases. GOP Senators rarely mentions offsets.

  • Lower Social Security payments by changing payment calculations. Much of that money comes out of the pockets of middle- and working-class taxpayers.
  • As Trump and GOP allies crow about how middle class families will receive a tax cut, other current tax breaks — like personal exemptions and property tax write-offs — get cut.
  • By 2027, anyone making less than $75,000 will have their taxes raised.
  • GOP Tax Bill does not cut corporate loopholes, bring back trillions in offshore cash nor cut defense spending. GOP will reduce the federal deficit by slashing big programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. As such, there will be no help for families paying for long-term care, payroll taxes or college. Monthly Social Security Checks will decrease.
  • People ages 50 to 64 would face average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019. As a result, 4 million more Americans will become uninsured in 2019 and 13 million by 2025, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
  • Even those who argue that the bill’s corporate and income tax cuts will spur economic growth can’t guarantee that any particular American will receive a raise.

Still, there’s positives to the GOP Tax Plan. The Ghost of Christmas Hate left wonderful rich boys and girls some benefits.

First, a quirk. The GOP Tax Plan exempts “private aircraft owners” from taxes on the “maintenance and support of the aircraft owner’s aircraft or flights on the aircraft owner’s aircraft.” I don’t know about you, but I’m glad Trump will not have to pay maintenance and support.

Second, Trump’s claim of “millions” of family farms and businesses suffering from the ‘estate tax’ (i.e., ‘Death Tax’) is not reality. There are no ‘millions.’ There’s no hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands. If the Ghost of Christmas Hate had repealed the ‘estate tax’ last year, approximately 80 of 5,500 of eligible estates would have benefited.

Why? Well, because only morons pay the estate tax.

Most fortunes amassed, like Trump’s, come from investment holdings, 55 percent of which were capital gains. They are rarely subject to tax. For these families, the first $5.49 million isn’t taxed, and careful tax planning can drastically reduce what’s owed on the rest. As Gary Cohn, the White House economic adviser, told a group of Senate Democrats this year, “Only morons pay the estate tax.”

Forbes notes wealthy people begin passing on their wealth to their heirs in the form of “charitable lead trusts” and other “exotic loopholes” long before the Angel of Death arrives. If Trump’s worth the $3.1 billion, as Forbes magazine says Trump is, by eliminating the estate tax excluding almost everyone, the Ghost of Christmas Hate saves Trump Jr., Eris and Ivanka $1.2 billion.

Third, Republicans are preparing to use the swelling deficits made worse by the package as a rationale to pursue their long-held vision: undoing the entitlements of the New Deal and Great Society, leaving government leaner and the safety net skimpier for millions of Americans. Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republicans are beginning to express their big dreams publicly, vowing that next year they will move on to changes in Medicare and Social Security. President Trump told a Missouri rally last week, “We’re going to go into welfare reform.”

Meanwhile, the $2,000 tax break you and I received is funneled back to the IRS, medical care, college costs, taxes, etc., etc., etc.

Happy Holidays from the Ghost of Christmas Hate!

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Bill Clinton “more than paid the price” for his affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was in office, basing it in part upon the fact he was impeached. Vice President Joe Biden echoed similar themes.

The same can’t be said for Lewinsky.

As the Huffington Post noted in 2012, Lewinsky floundered. She’s designed handbags and received an advanced degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics, but nothing seems to have stuck.  No one will hire her. In the past few years, Lewinsky has reemerged into the public spotlight as an anti-bullying activist. As such, if she lived near me, I would be proud to call her my neighbor.

For the accuser, life outcomes tend to be different. The harassment sequence is familiar to anyone who has followed the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Power and imbalance. Professional invitations really disguised for assault. One person trading upon connections, plum jobs, pressuring the younger person for sex, followed by the “public outing,” and indignation of being falsely accused.

As Vox wrote earlier this year, Weinstein’s community rejected him. Yet Trump and Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore continue to receive support. Why? Well, they’re needed. The Republican party needs both Trump and Moore. They certainly don’t need Al Franken.

People may think sexual assault is unacceptable, but when push comes to shove, there are circumstances under which they’ll tolerate it because there are other things that matter more to them.

Should you be the accuser, the window of light is very small, then you’re discarded.  While I understand that as humans lying may seem to be a common practice, the public automatically assumes “victims” would lie and “the accused” be believed because they have a public presence.

Repeated presentations from law enforcement, FBI, therapists, and state providers provide hard evidence that “false allegations are very minimal.” The overwhelming majority of victims drop their charges because the implications and pressure to convict the accused are too costly. They shared how difficult it is just to try and convict those guilty of sexual assault, pedophilia, and neglect. It was difficult to not only hear but to swallow.

Throughout the years, I’ve taken an extensive personal inventory of the man I had become. For quite some time, it was not a pretty picture. Many years later, I now take responsibility for speaking out, for listening to those who claim to be victims, and holding men accountable for their language and actions.

As a Buddhist, I understand people don’t always tell the truth, but we should not immediately assume that those who are dishonest. As leaders, in both community and household, we required to act, to fight for victims.

Biblically speaking, I suggest the following:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. For the rights of all who are oppressed speak up, judge fairly, defend the rights of the vulnerable and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9)

The Monica Lewinsky’s of the world need us.

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

Levenson noted the response effort.

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

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

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

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

A Hard Truth

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

So why not for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands?

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

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

Here’s another Trump tidbit.

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 2.55.15 PM
After watching the “Alt-Right,” “This Right,” “That Right,” or “Whatever Right” protests, one could argue Southern Confederate statues are abhorrent relics of a bygone era that adds only painful memories of America history. Many concur with such feelings, as I do.

Looking past all that for a moment, I watched the (what I term) “Make American White Again” protests. I have to tell you, I’m amazed. As marchers carried weapons, shouted profanities, screamed anti-Jewish bigotry, I ask only one question: “Now what?

After all the protests, arrests, injuries and at least one death, “Now What?” That’s the fundamental, unasked, unanswered question: “Now what?” The question basically asks, “What are you going to do after the battle? What will you do post-protests?

Need some thought starters? Read-on.

What economic development will a statue’s symbolism bring America that will employ the unemployed? What will you do to bring jobs to a decimated coal industry? How will the movement bring health care to the uninsured? How will the movement feed the hungry, home the homeless, create quality education, rid the world of nuclear weapons?

How will you resolve the North Korean conflict? How will you resolve undue Russian influence?  Will sacrifice the Island of Guam to destroy North Korea? Will you pull out of NAFTA?

What set of environmental policies will the movement bring forth to reduce global warming? How will the movement resolve Flint’s drinking water crisis? How will you ensure clean drinking water that the current administration wants to end? How will the movement help a single mother become the best possible person? How will we resolve illegal immigration? How will the movement ensure second generation immigrants become the best possible person? And how will you define success … of anything?

How will the movement heal diversity? How will the movement heal race-based beatings Black, Asians, Muslims and others have experienced? How will the movement heal the LGBTQ pain?

If we purge all those considered non-white, what’s the litmus test? Should the litmus test appearance alone? Will a DNA equivalent of 10% non-white or less pass the muster? Maybe 35%? Maybe 10% non-white, but only those races from Scandinavia?

One last point, how will you return the life of a white woman killed by a racist protester?

Tell me this, then we’ll discuss your movement. Until then, get out of the way, you’re preventing progress.

In the past several weeks Stephen Colbert, Kathy Griffin, Rena Aslan and Bill Maher have wandered into a world where many have ventured, yet few survived. Maher and Colbert have survived. Griffin and Aslan did not. Hate filled speech by comedians and commentator alike appear to be more raw in recent times. Maybe it isn’t more raw as more reported. In a world filled with iPhones and Galaxy whatever, if you spew hatred, you’re likely to be recorded.

Colbert, Griffin, Aslan and Maher should have been fired. And each in their own way will live with the consequences. Do I personally believe Colbert, Griffin and Maher are racists? No. You wouldn’t know that from some of vitriolic words spewed from all sides of the issue. Yet, Americans’ collectively yawn to the broader issues political leaders undermine weekly.

For those that wade into stupidity, public indignation is often swift and severe. However, while that same public and news media endlessly debates such racist diatribe, real life issues are silently condoned. It is within the public squabbling that business elite and politicians alike hope the public remains fixated. And within that fixation, politicians barter American lives as policy decisions are made, deals are cut and riches made.

As the Trump-Comey fight lingered in media headlines, Americans who need the most help in affordable health care will get purged under the Obamacare replacement plan. As Americans were glued to Comey’s testimony on Capital Hill, GOP Senators moved the House GOP healthcare plan toward passage. Hiding details, GOP Senators were making backdoor deals to coerce wavering Senators. With little fanfare, public debate or protests, we silently condone our fate, waiting for the privileged few to determine the fate of millions. It’s a process which has been repeated for thousands of years. We naively think, “Well, this time it’s different.”

It’s not.

The least among us will be detrimentally impacted for decades. As Americans and individuals, we must speak for those who cannot. Yet publicly, and individually, we are more apt to take a hands-off approach, turn our head to the cold wind ahead and silently thank fate that we aren’t affected. Don’t have health care? “Sucks to be you.” Is your marriage experiencing significant turbulence? “Sucks to be you.” Out of a job. “Whew. Sucks to be you.” Are you hungry neighbor? “Sucks to be you.” Have a bad President? “It’s ok. He’s different.”

Yesterday a coworker stated he opened his company assigned email and found a rather short, four line email from Human Resources, stating he was being reclassified from full-time to hourly. “If you want to continue health care insurance, you’ll need to contribute $500.00 on a bi-weekly basis.” No phone call. No Human Resources conference. Just an email. “Sucks to be you.

As a whole, we’ve ditched decency and embraced apathy, racism and hatred as acceptable values. “It’s ok. It’s different,” we’re told. In spite of living in highly racialized times, Americans appear rather indifferent to many social issues, including killing of innocent African-American citizens by police, bigotry towards Latinos, and outright condemnation of Muslims.

The golden rule propounded by Buddha is that you do not do unto others what you do not want others to do to you. We must get back to those values. What’s happening now is not ok.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 7.48.44 PMAt this point of the political season, relabeling the Grand Old Party is necessary. Watching the March 4, 2016 debate was filled with mixed emotions – like the time my mother in-law drove over cliff while in my new Cadillac. Sarcasm aside, the GOP should change its moniker to be more reflective of the current crop of presidential candidates … Grand Old Pricks. In all my 56 years, I’ve never seen a candidate defend his penis.

With all remaining GOP candidates in Detroit for last night’s GOP Debate, penis size was the first question, Flint’s water crisis was 33rd. In the backdrop of unemployment, healthcare spending, taxation, balanced budget, military spending, international assistance, immigration, ISIS (ISIL or whatever they’re called today), racism, Black Lives Matter Movement, the Flint, Michigan lead scandal and quality education issues, here we are … first issue out of the box is talking about the size of one’s penis.

My apologies to the NY Times reporter fact-checking penis size.

If these are the best Republicans candidates, no wonder the party is imploding. And more than likely, we’ll implode with the selectee as well. To emphasize, all candidates reiterated their support to the Republican nominee, even if it were Trump.

I’m bemused by leaders stating they can’t understand why Trump is winning. Really? It’s simple, it’s the inability of the GOV electorate to positively impact life on the street.

During the last two weeks of travel in New York, NY, Baltimore, MD and Los Angeles, CA, I’ve asked the average Joe on the street question:

“What GOP legislative act has positively impacted you?”

I queried 10 cab drivers, 6 Marriott hotel bar tenders, three concierges, 8 waitresses, and one newspaper reporter. Not one could immediately think of any one GOP legislative act that positive impact.

Here’s some quick facts. In mid-May 2015, the 114th Congress passed zero (0) jobs bills. Republicans voted five (5) additional times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), bringing the total to 58. Additionally, all House Republicans voted against the student loan-refinancing bill. And lastly, does anyone know number of jobs that would be destroyed under the House GOP FY 2016 Budget? 2.9 million.

In talking with people, one emerging trend is clear. The average John Q’ Public has worked hard to build a life, buy homes and attempt to create a better life for their children. But in the last eight years, we’ve discovered those values are quite meaningless in darkest hour of unemployment and need. Painful lessons have been etched during those darkest hours. Tomorrow brings neither  a guarantee nor peace.

I want to see Trump go up there and do damage to the Republican Party,” said Jeff Walls, 53, of Flowood, Mississippi (NY Times Article, Rank and File Republicans Tell Party Elites: We’re Sticking With Donald Trump).

Ed and Deb Shapiro wrote the “… Buddha clearly taught about the dangers of greed, hatred and ignorance, what he called the three poisons that Trump seems to display quite frequently. Where greed grabs our desires, hatred uses fear to incite insecurity and then blames everyone else, while ignorance clouds our vision.”

The three fires of greed, hatred and ignorance destroy the mind from which they are born. — The Buddha

That’s Trump.

So to all GOP leaders stumbling upon my blog, Trump keeps winning. America knows Trump is an idiot, an asshole, remarkably narcissistic and will do anything to demean others. He’ll make a lousy president and wreck the economy even further.

America is saying Trump’s our candidate. And his candidacy was created in their darkest hour.

What Should I Have Done?

lsAs a preface, I write of an event at the large grocery store store located in Missouri. I will briefly describe an incident that occurred February 11th at approximately 1:20 PM while waiting for service at 20 items or less checkout lane. This event has haunted me since and I repeatedly ask, what should I have done?

From an outward perspective, the event is simplistic. Yet, my deeper emotion also indicates a potentially deeper theological, political and even a moral issue. So much so that my own moral obligation resonated throughout the night and into today.

Approximately 1:20 – 1:25 PM I entered the 20 items or less checkout lane, purchasing diet coke and one potato. A Middle Eastern woman wearing a brown Squere Hijab was in front and a store’s employee who I presume to be on break was behind me.

Most the woman’s item’s had been scanned before I entered the checkout line. Thus, only a few items remained. The cashier rang the customer’s final items and informed the woman of her charges. The woman proceeded to swipe her card through the Point of Sale system.

And nothing happened.

The customer looked at the cashier and said, “Nothing happened.

Looking over her shoulder, the cashier responded, “You obviously have no money left on your food stamp account or you entered the wrong PIN number.” Turning her head forward, she looked at me, briefly sighed and rolled her eyes.

And that was it. The heart of the entire event lasted approximately five seconds.

But what I saw in those eyes was complete contempt. For those five seconds, I saw total disdain, from business to customer, from human to human. More so, what bothered me all night was the fact I did nothing. And what should I, as a customer had done? While feeling an undying urge to standup for this ordinary woman, I sank into a darkness rarely experienced and said nothing.

Based upon a single and exceptional encounter, it’s strange how everyone crossed at that precise moment of time. More than likely, neither path will cross again. Still should each of us have taken a different approach? Could we?

I’m unsure if the cashier has ever been to any Middle East country, but I have. The terror, anguish and brutality Middle East women experience is horrendous. Maybe this specific customer overcome tremendous odds to make it here in America, only to be humiliated here at a St. Louis, MO grocery store. Then again, maybe this customer is second generation Middle Eastern woman who proudly honors her faith. Then again, maybe this customer was recognized by the cashier and the customer repeats this same process each week. I acknowledge each scenario as potentially valid.

As a business owner myself, I believe there is a teachable moment for each and everyone of us that five seconds can make a huge difference in the life of each and everyone of us.

But as a dedicated customer of this store, I remain haunted. I sit nearly 21 hours later and ask, “What should I have done?

EscobarI was in Michigan over the weekend. But I did not see the now infamous Michigan-Michigan State game, where Blake O’Neill bobbled a low snap on a punt attempt with 10 seconds left on the clock, then fumbled the ball as he attempted to salvage a kick. Michigan State sophomore Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up the loose ball and carried it 38 yards for a touchdown as the clock expired.

As always, some Michigan fans (should we call them that) brought down the hammer via Twitter and other social media outlets and sent shocking, hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments to one of its students.

  • Tyler Gross tweeted, “I’m 80 yard punter Blake O’Neill and I have Direct TV and I’m no hands O’Neill and I have cable.”
  • A man named Chris Vomish tweeted that O’Neill “…should go to the equipment room and “start chugging that bleach my friend.
  • Another tweeter told O’Neill to “jump off of a cliff into a pool of spikes and cyanide” and that “you might as well cut your hands off.”

Sports builds character, but sports also reveals character — and not just the athletes. While few Michigan-Michigan State fans know Andres Escobar, his ghost must have been pacing the Michigan field.

Why is Escobar important? And how are Escobar and Michigan University related?

Well, Defender Andres Escobar, known as “The Gentleman of the Field,” accidentally put the ball in his own net in a game against the U.S., contributing to Colombia’s rapid exit from the Cup and a massive national disappointment. Colombia entered the 1994 World Cup among the favorites to win it all, led by star goalie Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama and forward Faustino Asprilla. But then the unthinkable happened. The squad lost 3-1 to Romania, midfielder Gabriel Gomez received a faxed death threat and the coach contemplated resigning. Ten days later, 27-year-old Escobar was shot dead in a Medellin parking lot in a killing that sparked national outrage.

Escobar’s murder remains unsolved.

And to the Michigan keyboard warriors, what do we say? Nothing, for they live behind their own hatred and shame. Today, we read of parents berating coaches, punching referees, and lately coaches telling players to take out referees. Brazilian referee Gabriel Murta, produced a handgun after he was slapped and kicked by a player when he (the ref) decided not to give a red card over a foul.

It’s insane. Stupid people do stupid things, keyboard warriors are no exception.

Sports in America was never intended to achieve this level of inhumanity. Nevertheless, we should be repugnant at the level of protests “we fans” create in the wake of player mishaps and referee decisions. Such inhumanity displays scant regard for the men and women, players and referees alike, and turns a “blind-eye” to our own hidden vile.

What followed the Michigan-Michigan State game was nothing short of thuggery. All of us need to need to reevaluate our support and our morals. We should support O’Neill. I’m not a Michigan fan and I support O’Neill.

Colombian Defender Andres Escobar asks us too.

imageOn some level, maybe I’ve grown accustomed to ignorance. Not that I’m completely ignorant, but more so that I’ve got an ability to ignore that which surrounds. That whole statement sounds so New York. And maybe in that light, I’ve become more New Yorker each day.

For instance, I week ago I once threw change to an old man struggling on two canes. The weathered seventy something year-old glisten Fuji Apple red in the morning light. Eaten by blistered peeled skin, his hands shook unceasingly like a Home Depot paint mixer. There was no computer genius here, no lost mathematician or concert pianist. He was a societal cast away.

Yet dropping a few coins into his coffer became his morning ritual. That seemingly downtrodden man followed me, found where I worked and met me there each morning for several days. He became a pseudo toll agent and stood defiantly in my path until someone produced a few coins.On several occasions, I tossed a few outdated tokens obtained at a western Indian casino. After deducing who the culprit was, this gentle soul became belligerent. One morning, he was hauled away by NYPD authorities and I never saw him again.

But this reminded me that sometimes acts of kindness become entitlements. I am not not referring to entitlement programs offered by the government for the poor. Rather, it’s when an act of compassion is interpreted as comeuppance. And that’s what addicts do.

So many times in my life, I looked for hourly, daily, weekly and monthly comeuppance. It was a prerequisite to the day. At the end of the day, I became just like a New York castaway. And tired of my shit, people no longer moved to help. They sat. They watched. They commented upon my fall from grace and laughed.

Their lack of faith in my humanity did not dissipate overnight. Rather, I chiseled away my own humanity piece by piece, moment after moment, excuse after excuse. Like ‘Red’ in the ShawShank Redemption, I’ve lost my humanity, not because I’m an addict of this or that, because you think I deserve it.

The list of those celebrating my demise were many, Katherine K., Karen N., Joanne F., Mari T., Matt M., Tim B., H.H.H., and many many more. Yet no matter what anyone thought of my life’s experiences or worth, like all people, there was so much more underneath to learn. But no one did. Instead, personal redemptive efforts were suffocated, smashed and crushed like used cigarette butts.

There were many sleeplessness nights, where the desolate prodding of loneliness and loss accumulated like anvils. If I had life-affirming qualities, there were extended periods they where unacknowledged. But in that depth of darkness, I learned to tolerate life’s burs. Eventually, I became tough, calloused and could bear the verbal abuse of a thousand men. I became like and unlike those who walked New York’s concrete pavements. Like them, I wandered in-between corrugated steel girders almost without notice. Unlike them, I was full of compassion, love and beauty whose flowers simply waited for a few drops natures nectar.

It’s a weird place – a divergence between heaven and hell. But at the end of the day, we manufacture our own hell quite well. Find a way to live in heaven.

imageAs I think about it, trial and error is vastly overrated. I keep hoping the next town, the next person met will open some unknown mantra and shed light unto Shangri-La. Yet addicts repeat steps others accomplished. Or mostly, what others haven’t accomplished. We continually yearn for the ‘something for nothing.’ Our often depressing day-in-day-out life relishes an idyllic world, where hope cures ills, where the guy gets the girl, bravery trounces cowardice and justice wins.

Addicts and common folk alike, simply cannot accept that we must do something for ourselves. You got here, wherever that ‘here’ is by yourself – and accordingly, we’ll have to find a way out of it – by ourselves.

New York City reminds me of all this and more.

My first impression of New York is vastly different from television. For the true witnesser, one quickly understands that dirt covers everything. Architecturally speaking, in the midst of all the grime, nothing seems eloquent. People become after thoughts. Streets are witnesses to personal unseen demons. Street grates and vents are clogged by strewn trash. The discard of humanity is archeologically petrified by wind, rain, snow and salt. Why toss stuff into a trash can when the street’s receptacle is logical, quick and readily available?

Whether we care to admit it or not, all us are like New York streets. Like personal shame, hidden fear and restlessness, crushed styrofoam, discarded remnants from Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King line New York roadways. Discarded gum liners, cigarette boxes, severed construction cones, old mattresses, foam, fragmented shipping boxes dot become pseudo roadway markers.

Every six blocks Apple iPhone 6 picture is silhouetted on some large building. One in particular caught my eye. It was a picture of a lone Saguaro cactus against the backdrop of a sun burnt Tucson, Arizona sky. It’s caption read, ‘Taken by an iPhone 6.

Saguaros only grow near Tucson, Arizona. I’ve been there. Most New Yorkers haven’t. They’ll buy into Apple’s dream, that the iPhone 6 will produce some semblance of freedom and openness. It won’t. Probably never will. Few will ever embrace the open skies of New Mexico, Colorado or see the sun flowers of North Dakota.

Statistically speaking, New Yorkers live, breathe and die in New York. Few venture beyond the stagnant miles of steel and glass. Dressed in business attire and white sun dresses, the hordes simply bustle past their surroundings, willingly accept their surroundings and their fate.

The chronically drunk and addicted are pasted against shop walls. It’s not unusual to stroll past high priced outlet stores without seeing a forgotten soul splattered against the window pane. In their eye, there is no other life, there’s no hope. They’re soulless. Days filled by walking endless concrete carpets and alleyways, sleeping here, resting there, hoping for tossed parcels of used burgers and reclaimed sub sandwiches.

It’s difficult to sort fact from fiction. These are the same folks whom conservative pendents extoll as lazy, dirty and dangerous. Yeah, they are dirty. Sure, they can be dangerous. But society’s disdain and hatred put them there. With iPhone earbud drilled embedded into ear-canals, New Yorkers, walk past these wanderers with extraordinary contempt, nary a footnote in the biography of life. We’ve consumed ourselves in ignorance.

I hate my cowardice in dealing with people.

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