Tag Archive: Do No Harm


One of the key Buddhist themes is Ahimsa, meaning ‘non-injury‘ or  ‘do no harm.’ Quoting directly from the Insight Meditation Center, “… the importance of upholding one’s personal well being is so great that the Buddha emphasized “one must not give up one’s own welfare for the sake of other people’s welfare, however great.”  In saying this, the Buddha clearly meant working toward one’s highest spiritual welfare ...”

Well, the spiritual welfare of others was discarded in yesterday’s Senate approval of their Tax Bill.

Three Republican senators who bucked their own party in recent months to effectively save Obamacare voted for a tax bill that would gut Obamacare. The GOP Senate tax bill would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires most Americans to have health insurance of some kind or pay a tax penalty. At a minimum, at least thirteen million more Americans will likely be unable to afford insurance.

Maine Senator Collins was one of the original three.

Senator Collins, a holdout against the GOP’s first Affordable Care Act repeal touted changes she claimed to have secured in the Senate tax bill, including deductions for unreimbursed health care costs. Collins also said she reached an agreement with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to pass two proposals designed to offset the elimination of the individual mandate that requires most Americans to buy health insurance.

The New York Times Editorial Board eloquently summarized the Collins sellout.

She (Collins) traded away her vote for an inadequate deduction for property taxes and empty promises from Mr. Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that they would help shore up the A.C.A., which they have repeatedly tried to sabotage.

In separate Twitter posts, Collins justified her vote.

Very pleased @SenateMajLdr committed to support passage of two impt bills before year’s end to mitigate premium increases: Alexander-Murray proposal to help low-income families afford insurance & my bipartisan bill to protect people w/ pre-existing conditions via high-risk 

And second:

I received assurances today that no reduction in Medicare will be triggered by tax bill. See exchange of letters. 

While these letters makes Collins feel better, McConnell offers no assurances. In response to Collins, McConnell wrote:

There is no reason to believe that Congress would act again to prevent a sequester, and we will work to ensure these spending cuts are prevented.

What GOP Senators, Collins included, won’t tell you is that the passage of these subsequent ACA mandate repeal bills is doubtful as House Republicans, including the House Freedom Caucus, have already said repeal bills will not be supported. All Collins did is what most legislators, leaders and business leaders do – she found a way to clear her conscious. “WellI gave it my best shot.”

So, what’s the future? Bleak. Ultimately, the largest healthcare benefits will go to the wealthiest and those that have the most comfortable health care arrangements. The biggest losses fall to poorer Americans who rely on government support or must live with no support.

Bottom line … the GOP healthcare replacement plan is ‘death.’ If you’re lower middle-class or poor, die.

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.

I had an affair 30 years ago. The woman was my administrative assistant. Eight years ago, I almost had another affair. As to the second affair, the physical part never occurred. However, the second affair was brutally and publicly painful.

In both cases the women joined a silent majority. In both cases, I joined a silent majority. Both woman joined a silent majority of those who suffered silently. I joined a silent majority of men who used position and power that ultimately degraded another in some way. In light of the sexual scandals crossing the news outlets, I wonder how much I “retriggered” them during the past decades. How many days passed without suffering some form of humiliation?

I suffer from my own internal judgement, from the guilt and shame I inflicted. It never leaves. In decades of travel, I have found apologies are of little value. Even after apologizing and requesting forgiveness, I’ve sat on the shores of Hawaii, walked the forests of New Zealand, overlooked the Andes and sailed the Atlantic. Both women remain ever-present.

After hearing victims from Fox News, Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Mark Halperin, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C. K., Steve Jurvetson, Eddie Berganza, Andrew Kreisberg, Benjamin Genocchi, Ed Westwick, Jeff hoover, Andy Dick, Ohio State Rep. Wes Goodman, Al Franken and others I wonder just how public testimony will abide the anvil that binds their soul. Will Thanksgiving really be more peaceful? Will Christmas? Will the public let you forget? Will your mind really let you forget?  Will the victims be more open, more loving, and more welcome in a newly refined “24/7” news cycle? Could each victim abridge public persona against the private?

What I failed to understand was that these women placed themselves in the hands of others. The women of my affairs trusted me. I failed them. And the misogyny of my heart will forever impact them. Yet no amount of reconciliation will give back the years sawed from their soul. More so, why should I be forgiven?

If there’s any tidbit of truth from the darkness is that the public treats these cases subjectively. Donald Trump was quick to denounce Franken via Twitter, labeling Franken as “Frankenstien” [sic]. However, Trump’s been silent on Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who holds Hillary Clinton’s former seat, said Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency after his inappropriate relationship with an intern came to light nearly 20 years ago. Yet twenty years ago, we the public willingly chose to humiliate Lewinsky, not Clinton. Yes. “We,” the public, did that.

In Trump’s case, women alleged Trump had either touched, grabbed or kissed them without permission. Over the course of his campaign, more than a dozen women came forward. Without exception, Trump continues to claim there is “no merit” to any harassment claim against him, adding that the allegations were based on events that either never occurred or nothing more than a politically-motivated.

Accordingly, I make six predictions. First, I predict Al Franken’s career is over. Second, I predict Roy Moore will win. Third, I predict Donald Trump’s accusers will suffer for the rest of their lives, for “we,” the public, choose to allow them to suffer in vain. Fourth, Monica Lewinsky should be embraced, but I predict “we,” the public will not. Fifth, I predict to continue to wear the forged anvil and chains. That’s good. I forged them, I deserve them. Lastly, I predict Franken’s picture of groping Leeann Tweeden will give the millions of women living the silent majority a roar.

And for others? Donald Trump’s “Al Frankenstien” [sic] tweet received over 60,000 “likes.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stands by President Donald Trump’s previous comments when asked whether the more than a dozen women who have accused him of sexual assault were liars. Yes. All of them were.

So that’s leadership in action. Add Sander’s to another majority …

“The Silent.”

Life requires a series of ongoing daily chances which are often dealt like random cards from a casino dealer. The chances we take are enormous. Small events, the crisscross of human paths etched as we transverse each day. Most dismiss these small events as mundane. Yet each path offers opportunities for both opportunities of joy and sorrow. Quirks of time, moments of interconnected strangers passing between brief singular points of focus.

I don’t know singer and entertainer Ariana Grande. If I heard her music, I wouldn’t recognize it. However, late last night, I checked Ms. Grande’s Twitter for the very first and last time in my life. Two days prior, her account hovered over her tour, tour notes, and upcoming performance events. Forty-eight hours later, Ms. Grande’s was filled with love and vile. I’m unsure why, as some claim, how Ariana Grande is sole heir to the deaths of concert patrons.

From a tragic event, comes continued pain and joy. For those who left the arena uninjured, joy. For the fourteen or so who remain unaccounted, everlasting anguish. Here one minute, gone the next. Where are they? Alive one second, ghosts another.

If there is ever a time I question God’s honor, it’s especially ripe in such moments. If we truly admit, such times are an open scar for the world to bear. Why do children have to perish in such horrific ways? Surely, I would have given my life for any of the missing. Yet, 4,600 miles from the destruction, I remain alive. The victims are not.

I have no answers to long sought after questions. For many, God remains as silent today as several hundred years ago. In truth, Jesus, nor God, nor early Biblical writers offer much hope for victims of terrorism. One preacher I heard shortly after September 11th stated that 9/11 in and of itself was a test of faith. I tend to reject such allusions. Let’s confirm we aren’t sure what God beliefs are.

From my Buddhist training, I reach back to the eightfold path and grasp the first three: the right view, the right thought and the right speech. My view rightfully suggests this was a horrific event. The right thought is to honor those who lost, including the performer. Ariana Grande is just another victim in a list of many. Lastly, my speech is one of comfort not hatred.

We must choose to “Do No further Harm” to any of the victims. Doing otherwise forsakes the path of love we are commanded to carry.

Rather to have chosen the vile, I choose love. To those who lost or suffered in Manchester. I offer my love, my tears and heart.

img_0015Protests erupted on campus of the University of California Berkeley late Wednesday that canceled a scheduled speech by conservative Milo Yiannopoulos, a self-proclaimed “troll” and editor for Breitbart News. The university blamed the violence on a group of 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest.

I worry about “the heckler’s veto” being used to shut down free speech. We live in a country where people of all faiths, politics and ethnic backgrounds should be allowed to freely speak.

What we find is one political party or president uses hate tinged speech to justify hatred versus policy. We’ve all seen it, “unethical and corrupt media,” “she’s sick,” “a senator’s father helped kill a former president,” “an attorney betrayed their staff,” “You’re a Republican, I’m a Democrat, so I can learn nothing from you.” “Screw you,” they say. “No. Screw you first,” we reply.

As a Buddhist, it’s important to understand everyone has a legitimate right to feel and think the way they do. No one is wrong simply because he or she has a different point of view. Factual observations and other evidence may lead either to disagree, but the person always remains honorable.

For example, I listen to far-right and alt-right perspectives. Not so much because I agree with their position, but rather to understand. Our 2016 Presidential candidates accused one another of racism and bigotry so often they forgot about the people. By stating falsehoods, we race-bait. Anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women ideas are key tenets of such racist ideology.

Lastly, few, if any, understand that if one person wins an argument, you both lose. This is problem most politicians, including our President, fails to understand. When winning becomes the number one goal, you’ll eventually fail. Need an example? Former “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault warned all Trump critics they will soon be bowing before him. I will leave it at that.

Lastly, unless you in a country with a dictator, free speech shouldn’t have to hide. Protesters argue hate speech isn’t free speech. Why not? If so, why do free speech protestors have to hide behind masks? And if so, why do many such protests devolve into destruction?

In response To Berkeley protests, one blogger posted:

“President Trump must take action. We must get our colleges back from these radical haters. Any university that accepts federal funds must provide a balanced education. For every leftist professor, there must be a conservative professor. American universities are out of control.”

In the wake of Black Lives Matter movement and other protests, we’ve seen a clamoring for “safe spaces” whereby affected parties can process pain. What we require are spaces by which we can discuss and exchange ideas.

America is a free speech country. However, we really need to relearn the ability to agree to disagree agreeably.

DreadlocksOver the past year or so, the country’s racial battles have been cast in black-and-white terms — with black folks on one side, white folks on the other. Other avenues often expressed are the entitled versus the poor.

Recently, a video showing a black San Francisco State University campus student accosting a white student over his dreadlocks has reached both news and blog infamy. Bonnie “Bonita” Tindle lectured Cory Goldstein about how being white means he shouldn’t have dreadlocks, calling it “cultural appropriation.”

Since America seems to be under some detailed microscope, old ideas about its racial dynamics have been extensively challenged. Writer Wedaeli Chibelushi noted that part of the oppressive culture (I presume white), the white student emulates minority tradition (I presume Black) while ignoring the discrimination that came with it.

Really?

I simply cannot recall a single instance where dreadlocks have been patented to a specific race. Corey Goldstein was correct when explaining dreadlocks are not the sole preserve of black culture. The style has been traced back to Ancient India, Egypt and Greece. Critics claim Goldstein isn’t immune to the accusation that now surrounds him: that he’s guilty of “cultural appropriation.

Really?

Critics require a reality-check, everyone one is guilty of cultural appropriation.

On May 14, 2015, Rihanna arrived at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating “China: Through the Looking Glass.” Rihanna swooped in, wearing a fur-trimmed yellow cape with floral swirls of gold and a train so long it required three assistants. The ensemble came with a little pink mini-dress underneath, and a sparkling tiara. In keeping with the evening’s theme — China, and its artistic influence on the West — the outfit came from Beijing-based designer Guo Pei, whose sumptuous designs also are on display in the current Metropolitan Museum exhibit, “China: Through the Looking Glass.” At the same event, Lady Gaga, wore a huge kimono-like garment studded with feathers by Balenciaga. Gaga drew cheers when she waved to the crowd packed behind bleachers across Fifth Avenue from the museum.

No one was busted neither Lady Gaga nor Rihanna. Then again, I heard no one talk about China’s labor camps, exiled dissidents, or widespread poverty and corruption in rural areas either.

It’s much harder to patrol the ramparts of our cultures, to distinguish between the appreciators and appropriators. Just who gets to play in which cultural playground?

Today, we question ourselves constantly. Does eating an Israeli-grown avocado mean I effectively fund the war on Hamas? Does drinking Russian vodka mean I approve Putin bombing Syrian hospitals? If I eat high-end chocolate harvested in Africa, do I condone slave labor by Africa cocoa farms, where an estimated 100,000 children are working, with more than 10,000 trafficked? I wear a Buddhist pendant and a silver cross made by a Navajo Indian Artist. Does that make me a cultural appropriator?

And speaking of American Indians, people have been injured, and some have died, in fraudulent sweat lodge ceremonies performed by non-Natives. Utterly horrific. Yet many other forms of cultural appropriation are honored, including New York pizza, Japanese denim, not to mention democratic discourse, mathematics, and the calendar.

Personally, in light of everything going on in today’s world, the only sin Corey Goldstein guilty of is a bad hair style. Whoever did that style for him should never be allowed in a beauty parlor again.

From a Buddhist perspective, the message is tolerance and the beauty that comes out of cross-cultural expression.

Lighten up.

Missouri graduate student on hunger strikeMissouri University President Timothy M. Wolfe, stepped down early Monday morning. Later in the day, the Columbia campus Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also bit the dust. The issue was Wolfe’s lack of response to a recent spate of racist incidents on Mizzou’s campus, where graduate student Jonathan Butler’s protest received the support of Mizzou’s football team. Butler’s response to recent wave of bigotry came in the form of a hunger strike.

“I will not consume any food or nutritional sustenance at the expense of my health until either Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost.”

It’s good to die for something worthy.

In truth, Wolfe was probably forced out by a set of unified stakeholders, from internal department heads to state legislators. The backstage strategic puppeteering in such high-press cases is amazing. Today, the unique role is litigating in the court of public opinion where evidence and personal bias gets shoved down a listener’s throat is powerful.

One key group was Concerned Student 1950, formed on Mizzou campus in response to racially-motivated incidents. (1950 referred to the year black students were first admitted to the University of Missouri.) Concerned Student 1950 demanded the removal of Tim Wolfe, whom they felt had not handled these incidents well, if at all. Butler noted:

“Students are not able to achieve their full academic potential because of the inequalities and obstacles they face,” he said. “In each of these scenarios, Mr. Wolfe had ample opportunity to create policies and reform that could shift the culture of Mizzou in a positive direction but in each scenario he failed to do so.”

Personal bias aside, “Bullshit!.”

Former Mizzou football player A. J. Ofodile raised a valid point. To Mr. Ofodile, the 1950’s-style oppression wasn’t apparent.

“Through this whole process I haven’t heard one example of any oppressive action or policy that is systemic in nature. I’ve seen tons of examples of individual bigotry and claims that those incidents weren’t handled appropriately but at this point I have to seriously doubt that people fully understand what systemic oppression really is.”

So this is the same Mizzou that’s so racist it elected a black man student body president and homecoming king? Or, are we to believe Mizzou racists systematically elected the black student body president only to hurl racial insults? Is this the same Mizzou that embraced gay defensive lineman Michael Sam in 2014? And nearly 18 months beyond Sam, Mizzou is fraught with racism?

Seriously?

Still, after hearing of Wolfe’s resignation, students danced where activists had set up a tent city. The football team announced that it was ending its strike and hundreds of students chanted in the sun, “I … am … a … revolutionary!” Social media users around the world joined in, tweeting more than 100,000 times the day’s protest.

While I believe incidents of racism must be addressed, what will be interesting is watching how Mizzou students and residents struggle with their response. Even if all the reports of racism prove accurate, Mizzou’s president shouldn’t have been adjudicated via a lynch mob mentality that served no meaningful purpose other than to inflame.

I propose that losing $1,000,000 of football revenue is what really forced Wolfe to resign, more cash than protest. Yes, football gold and the massive amounts of money pouring into the ol’ football coffer.

So I repeat what I wrote after the Ferguson Riots. After the cameras stop rolling, they’ll (Mizzou) be left nearly in nearly the same place they started. After all the sound bites and television interviews, someone will query, “What did we accomplish?“ Probably not a hell of a lot.

Real change requires effort and love. But no worry for Butler. Technically, Butler won. He received his pound of flesh. However, what Butler and others will learn is that whether right or wrong, every university has an adjudication process. And sometimes that very process is goddam slow. You can’t cure cancer via instant soup.

Mizzou will play the remaining three games. That’s approximately $3,000,000 bucks into the coffers. One University President was sacrificed unto the football gods. And football players run the university.

Good Lord! All hail the “Pigskin God.”

bs-md-protests-20141210-001You are suggesting this idea that broken windows are worse than broken spines, right? Freddie Gray will never be back. Those windows will.

~DeRay McKesson to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer~

This past Sunday, I caught the dialogue between Sally Kohn and LZ Ganderson on CNN’s Reliable Sources. At the end of day, Mr. Ganderson posed a question, after all that’s been said and done in Baltimore, “Will anyone care?” Does America want change? Are we really committed to making lasting change?

As I thought about his question, DeRay McKesson’s activism proliferates my thoughts. Can society dialogue without destruction?

I want to believe there is a way to protest that is more than marching but not bloodshed,“ DeRay McKesson told The Washington Post.

And that’s where the protest movement fails. Against the long road of progress, protesting is easier. It’s quick. Raising the conscious thought of America is one thing. Making a last impact in society in and of itself is exhausting.

McKesson emerged from Ferguson a prominent organizer and activist. However, in the wake of Baltimore, Ferguson, New York and others, McKesson’s “Word To Action” online newsletter is nothing more than a list of tweets and quips. Little content actually brings people together to promote solutions.

To highlight, McKesson’s tweeted,

We have become too casual with the word violence — it refers to harm done to people. The police are the only violent ones here” and “Property damage is not violence, it is property damage. Violence is when people are hurt, injured, harmed. The police have been violent.”

Sometimes windows are never replaced. Sometimes businesses close. The Baltimore Sun reported that in addition to damaging an estimated 200 businesses, rioters torched 144 cars, including both police and civilian vehicles. City restaurants lost millions of dollars from a weeklong curfew and fear from long-term harm to Baltimore’s image.

In December 2014, the Baltimore Sun also noted,

The symbolic starkness of medical students sworn to save lives participating in a demonstration known as a “die in” showed just how wide-reaching protests have become.

“People of all races, all different types of people and all different kinds of organizations — not just civil rights organizations — are taking part,” Baltimore NAACP chapter president Tessa Hill-Aston said. “Everyone is seeing that there’s something wrong.”

Empowerment Temple of Baltimore has asked its congregants to wear black to Sunday services in honor of “unnamed African-Americans who have been brutally murdered by police,” church spokeswoman Nicole Kirby said.

So I ask, will society institute police reforms but fail to alter the culture? In and of themselves, police can’t resolve public problems alone. Ferguson’s city council passed several bills to establish a police review board, set limits on excessive court fines and fees exposed after Brown’s death. But substantive much-needed infrastructure investment and community solutions throughout America remains aloof. Solving racial disparity requires a variety of stakeholders creating bold initiatives and solutions that imprint new educational standards, employment and societal opportunities. Little of that effort exists.

To end, I paraphrase poet Ted Hughes. Wherever life takes me by surprise, and suddenly the artificiality proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, it is then we must throw ourselves into the front line. That’ what these moments require. It’s where society must come alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. We must call upon our own resources—those real inner resources, to account, and love, to give, to provide comfort, to enjoy the simple notion that giving unto the man next to me is a worthy and just cause.

As Buddha said: live like a mighty river. Make plans and solutions as though they are the manna of life, then partake partake partake. This is how we get to where we need to be. Protesting is only an act. If any life matters, solutions are mandatory.

PrayforBaltimore-copyChants of “no justice, no peace, no racist police” echoed through Baltimore streets Saturday in a march organizers dubbed as a “victory rally.” Pastor Michael Crawford homilized “Satan wants our city, and he can’t have it. We were born for this hour and we will fight this right away — on our knees.” Crawford further alluded to principalities and powers of darkness being everywhere, but God was greater.

The victory rally came amid a surreal week in “Charm City,” where Edgar Allen Poe eloquently wrote “There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion.” Here’s a few of the bizarre I saw:

  • Rashid Wiggins sold $10 shirts with the slogan, with “I Matter.” Apparently $10 will ensure one matters;
  • Protesters charged police with “kidnapping” a prominent black community organizer. Never mind the fact the protester was arrested for violating curfew;
  • CNN’s Brooke Baldwin decided to blame the Baltimore riots on returning veterans;
  • Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played in an empty stadium; and
  • The Ad Council used an ill-advised Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting a Caregiver Assistance program that included the background audio of a TV news anchor announcing:

Riots nationwide have prompted local governments to declare martial law….the President is asking that citizens find safety and remain calm….authorities are working to contain the outbreak.”

I pondered this mess while watching a lone protester stand in front of the burned-out CVS with sign reading “God heard our prayers.”

Seriously? God heard our prayers?

Let’s highlight some of the insanity.

In Baltimore, police and civilian vehicles were destroyed, businesses looted, and as of this writing, fifteen officers injured.  In summary, Baltimore tallied:

  • 200 Arrests;
  • 15 Structural Fires;
  • 144 Vehicle Fires;
  • National Guard;
  • Curfew;
  • Citizens Attacked; and
  • Police Officers Indicted.

In the wake of Michael Brown, Ferguson recorded:

  • 80 arrests;
  • Over 100 gunshots;
  • 25 buildings burned and/or looted; and
  • Vandalized police cars in Ferguson, Missouri.

Oakland, California residents notched the following in marches for Michael Brown:

  • A looted Starbucks
  • Smart & Final had liquor cabinets pulled off
  • Chase Bank had two front doors smashed
  • Wells Fargo (targeted in previous Occupy and Trayvon Martin protests) experienced broken widows
  • 40 people arrested on charges ranging from assault on a police officer, to vandalism, burglary, public intoxication, and refusal to disperse
  • Officers pelted with rocks, bottles paint and fireworks.

But hey, God answered our prayers. It’s such a wonderful example of God’s intervention. Isn’t it?

I’m amazed how people attempt to find meaning in the absurdity. Truthfully, God answered nothing. The only principality was ignorance and intolerance. They were bred from our inhumanity – bred from deep within our soul.

If that CVS protester was right and God answered Baltimore’s prayer, then His message to those who lost a business was … what? To those who were attacked, did God ordain that?  Was God’s hand of justification empowered through a young prosecutor, the indicted officers or both? To those who lost jobs as a result of destruction, did God answer their prayers as well? I mean maybe they didn’t want to go to work that day. Did God get the prayer wrong, simply fuck up and make a mistake? “Oops, my bad,” God exclaimed.

A part of me wants to yell, “God answered Baltimore’s prayer, but Bosnia, Rwanda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hiroshima and Nazi death camps were God’s plan? How many people go to bed hungry every night? And now you’re praying for the ‘God of justice?

Borrowing from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, I openly ask anyone to tell me about God’s plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how His plan answered Baltimore, you better also be able to explain how the plan wiped out so many who had nothing to do with either Gray or the officers. The test has to do with going and saying it to the person whose business burnt down. Look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to wipe them out but justice was served. I don’t worship that God, but at least you have integrity.

imageCNN reported the family of Michael Brown filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Ferguson under Missouri’s “wrongful death statute.” The family suit seeks punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, in addition to attorney fees. My guess? The family will get millions.

The Brown family lawsuit raised an interesting question that I’ve pondered for several hours: “Once there’s a settlement, can the Brown family be sued by a destroyed Ferguson business owner?

Recollecting, as Louis Head (Michael Brown’s stepfather) consoled Brown’s distraught mother after the grand jury announcement, he turned to the crowd of demonstrators and said, ‘Burn this motherfucker down’ and ‘Burn this bitch down.’ While Mr. Head apologized the following day, riots left parts of Ferguson a burning wreck.

In a subsequent police investigation, Mr. Head issued a statement saying that while sorry for screaming ‘Burn this bitch down!‘, to arrest and charge him ‘goes way too far and is as wrong as the decision (of the grand jury) itself.‘ Granted, that stance may be good against criminal prosecution, but how about civil court, where the burden of proof is only a preponderance of evidence?

Should mobs get a free pass to riot and steal in response to unwelcome political outcome? Remember, approximately 25 structures in Ferguson were burned, damaged, or destroyed during riots following the grand jury verdict. Has any of the protesters paid for damage sustained? Sam Chow, an immigrant opened a Ferguson restaurant in 2009. His restaurant practically whipped. Where’s the outrage for the death of Zemir Begic? Begic, a young immigrant who fled violence in Bosnia, was driving home with his fiancée 20 miles away from Ferguson when black teens beat him to death. I don’t recall a single protester speaking for him.

I ponder the outcome of a black business owner’s civil suit against Louis Head and the Brown family for punitive and compensatory damages, especially when statements “Burn this bitch down” contributed to inciting the riots. From prima facia value, if we honor the choice to not prosecute Mr. Head based upon Head’s claim that prosecuting him ‘goes way too far and is as wrong as the decision (of the grand jury) itself,‘ then should business owners completely ignore the option to litigate civily?

At the end of the day, no one can stand in the court of public opinion and shout ‘Look over yonder, but don’t look here (at me).’ Responsibility applies everyone equally – to you, me and Mr. Head.

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