Tag Archive: Life Lessons


Dear L&H:

Thank you for crossing my blog and making the choice to write me a wonderful personal note. According to your email, you were hoping for a Valentine’s Day message. Well, blew it. Missed it. Sorry.

On a personal note, like many, I struggled with a burdened heart. As Christians know, Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day for peace. Yet, none of us received peace. In the wake of Florida’s shooting, I would not expect any major legislative progress. As many know, Congress has been largely ineffective in passing any meaningful legislation since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting where 20 young children and six adult staff members lost their lives.

February 9th, I wrote an email to a personal friend that pondered a lunch conversation driving back home. I reflected on not only our conversation, but the musings of author Kate Bowler, as she progressed through her cancer diagnosis. Trust me, I will tie these together.

So, I can relate to Bowler’s comments:

“…. a neighbor knocked on our door to tell my husband that everything happens for a reason.”

“I’d love to hear it,” my husband said.

“Pardon?” she said, startled.

“I’d love to hear the reason my wife is dying,” he said, in that sweet and sour way he has.

I know there’s some idiot out there, who responded to the Florida victims with trite, “It’s part of a larger plan.”

For you L&H, I’ll update parts of my friend’s email. i believe the message is timely.  In times of tribulation, many of us have received comments from the well intentioned, some are bizarre, others rude. I include some comments as well as my immediate inner thought response (outlined in parentheses).

  • “It’ll be okay, I just know it.” (Really? That’s great. Tell me how you know?)
  • “Someday this will all be behind you.” (Nope. For many, this event will always be in the forefront.)
  • “Don’t worry, things will get better.” (This does not get better).
  • “So when will you be all better?” (Hmm, like I said, does not get better.)
  • “Live in the moment.” “Be strong.” “Fight hard.” “Keep your chin up.” “Don’t give up.” “Attitude is everything.” (I will remember this when I can barely breathe.)
  • “We’ll pray for a miracle.” (God has risen only two people from the dead. I don’t see it happening in Florida.)
  • “Could be worse.” (Just did. Listening to you confirms it just got worse.)

And the coup de gras of all statements:

  • Everything happens for a reason.”
  • It’s all part of a larger plan.”

To this, I remind myself of Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s comments from “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero:”

You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you 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. And if you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God, but that at least has integrity.

It’s just it’s too easy. That’s my problem with the answer. Not that I think they’re being inauthentic when people say it or being dishonest, it’s just too damn easy. It’s easy because it gets God off the hook. And it’s easy because it gets their religious beliefs off the hook. And right now, everything is on the hook.

I sympathize with all the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims and seriously injured. For them everything’s on the hook.

Yet, several days post incident, I believe there is a sense of hope. First, the real message is to focus on how you treat one another, how you treat yourself, the value of human life. Second, like students who power-packed a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, all of us need to make impassioned pleas for legislation to regulate guns. “We will be the last mass shooting,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez declared to wild cheers.

Emma Gonzalez is declaring that we must get angry. We need to be angry: angry at our lawmakers for doing so little to prevent these catastrophes; angry at our news and entertainment media for simultaneously feeding off these tragedies and fueling them with a steady stream of sensationalism and moral incoherence; angry at ourselves for perversely tolerating these things, and then forgetting them until the next round of violence.

As you know, I believe in many things. I believe in Emma Gonzalez. I believe you T&H. May you become the snapshot of change, archive each moment, and live it. And In all things, know that I have faith in you.

Moving Aside

Colorful foliage in the autumn parkAs we near the end of 2017, I’ve reflected upon my writing and whether to continue this blog. The mission of my blog was to enable readers to see blessings often hidden in plain packages. I asked for acceptance, guidance, and loving kindness to remind me what love is really like, to feel safe and lay my heart open, exposing my journey and soul to your inner light.

Looking back, I’m unsure exactly what my journey was. My blog’s journey started in 2012. And in four years and eight months since, I’ve opined upon many topics, from politics, health, spirituality and so on. Four years and eight months since, I remain unsure exactly what my journey is.

Over the years, I’ve opined on lost neighbors, friends, even blogs. “Ultimatemindsettoday” is gone. Respect Life? Gone. The Buddhist Blog? Gone. Women Active in Buddhism appears to have been updated eons ago, for Aung San Suu Kyi remains listed a hero. Shakya Design closed it’s doors December 2016. Quiet Mountain’s website struggles upon opening. Thus, since life moves on, I removed them this afternoon. Only one has moved forward – Oscar Relentos by publishing a book on Amazon, even noting a reviewer.

During these past years, our global community lost many good politicians, entertainers and sports stars. Also, too many military members died, both home and abroad. Mass shootings interspersed my blogs – Pulse Orlando, Ferguson, Missouri, Connecticut, and Las Vegas just to name a few. Hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters crossed my thoughts. Still, forty-eight months later, did any one specific blog post change anything? Hard to say.

As such, I reflect. How has my blog impacted anyone? Or, maybe more so, “How has my blog positively impacted anyone?” That question, in and of itself, leads to a more contemplative thought, “Have I positively impacted anyone.

Looking back at various blog notes, I had a difficult time comprehending how current events could be mastered by older textual teachings. In a world of Trump-ism and self-importance, it’s hard to envision how the Biblical teachings that I grew by could prevail in a world of hyper-conservatism. Then again, it’s hard to understand how good people would let bad things happen. Yet more often than not, ‘we the people’ ignored our faith and jumped toward a pool of darkness representing itself as the path to glory.

Maybe my blog attempted new horizons, trying to communicate something fresh and exciting. My writing became less about legends and storytelling and focused more on current lessons and the beliefs that a Christ, Buddha, Dr. Martin Luther King, and others maybe would have pressed.

It’s ignorant for me to confess, but in my early twenties I visions of becoming a spiritual master. After seeing the God, who wouldn’t? Right? However, I have learned over the past decades is that real heroes are destined for greatness. But I never experienced such, as most don’t. Borrowing from Harry Chapin I am not a hero. At 58, I’m a tame and toothless tabby who can’t produce a loin’s roar.

The arrogant belief in their own legend. As such, I have no legend. I have no Wikipedia page. Just as politicians are blinded by their own ideals and belief in their own legend, so was the man some thirty or so years ago. What I have realized is that teaching and learning is a two-way street that it is. My own mentees have taught as many lessons as I taught them.

The real lesson is that all things are temporary. Even this blog. As leader and in life, I must move aside.

As 2018 nears, I will end with a quote from Roxanne Gay.

The older we get, the more culturally invisible we become, as writers, as people. But you have your words. Make sure there are people in your life who will have faith in your promise when you can’t.”

Yes … the real lesson all along was to ensure there are people in your life who will have faith in you when you can’t. That’s love. Love’s what it’s all about.

Matt Lauer’s dismissal flashed across the television screen while attending to my father’s aid.  After a Thanksgiving stroke, my father’s condition left little time to review and assess anything more than a few sips of coffee is a silent cafeteria or quick naps listening the ‘beeps,’ ‘burps,’ and ‘swoosh’ of medical devices. Still, even I felt momentarily paralyzed.

Did this paralysis come forth because I knew Matt Lauer? Nope. Never met him or any other morning show host. In fact, I’ve only seen snippets of the ‘Today’ show in the past ten years. Neither have I been a regular purveyor of CBS, ABC, or FOX. If any show does standout, it would be ‘Morning Joe.’ My paralysis came forth not because I was surprised by Lauer’s termination, but rather from having incessantly witnessed harassment throughout my first 15 year career path. ‘Witness’ may be a bad term. Maybe the right word should be ‘trained.’

My early years included stints in the military, a non-for-profit, and an Asian automotive manufacturer. A lot of scenes weren’t pretty and were crude, ugly and demeaning. I simply cannot recall the amount of times I heard ‘pussy,’ ‘nipples,’ ‘dick,’ ‘suck,’ ‘anal,’ ‘breasts’ and whatever. Morning breaks included tallies of women conquered as if one were free-climbing a mountain’s summit. Lunch was about measurements, was she filled, did she scream, ‘glazing the donuts,’ and what’s left on the ‘to-do’ list before dumping the victim like trash strewn off an interstate.

The culture of my era did not tolerate non-compliance, neither male nor female. Intolerance resulted in an immediate career death spiral.  Twenty-years ago, as an employee of the aforementioned Asian automotive manufacturer, I lost my career protecting a female colleague against harassment. Job reviewer particularly noted “… not an effective fit for current company culture.” Seven years later, working as a consultant during an assignment in London, United Kingdom, just across the river from the Parliament building, I again defended a female co-worker being publicly and sexually harassed. The result? Same as before, I was released as part of department restructuring. Strange how I was the only employee ‘restructured.’

While I considered my father to be an upstanding man, he, like all father’s, was not perfect. He did, at one time, have an affair. As such, after reading the accounts of current victims, I wonder if the harassment witnessed in my era engulfed my father’s. There appears to be little difference. And therein lies the problem. Our harassment problem is broader than television or political icons. Harassment is a decades old, even hundreds and hundreds of years.

Over the years, I was never in a position to effectively require ‘sex on demand.’ I was never allowed that type of management position. Looking rearward, the lack of morality or corporate culture witnessed is not an excuse, then nor now. Harassment and sexual control remains just as much part of this world as it was my father’s. What’s changed is the dialogue. And the dialogue is greatly needed.

Many of us who worked and labored came to our workplaces to establish a career. Some found additional power in sex. It’s the leaders of my era who left a trail of pain in our wake. We were practitioners who disgracefully abused roles as leaders and mentors, betraying the trust of coworkers. However, most of us kept a silence on disturbing events swirling about. As told, protect the company. We coddled ourselves into believing the opportunity to learn valued more than our lack of moral strength. And if we said anything, we’d destroy the very careers we were cultivating. Like the good soldiers of A Few Good Men, we justified our actions via words like honor, code, loyalty.

I’ll end with a quote from the movie listed above.

Downey: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!

Dawson: Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves.

As Buddhists, Christians or Atheists, we’re supposed to fight for everyone equally. The problem is, we don’t. We didn’t in my day, neither do we today.

I just noticed my last post, A Recollection of Five Thanksgivings and Lessons Learned.  My last changes were edited at 9:16 AM Eastern. In turn, there are thanks which went unmentioned.

I am thankful for my family, for all they given, for all the effort in which they’ve loved me. Surely, there has been countless times I challenged them otherwise. If not for their love, I would not have overcome my own inadequacies and fallacies.

I am thankful to have been a child under my father’s home. By all accounts, his childhood was extremely difficult and nearly lost his mind. Yet he lived to prosper in his own way, married and gave birth to both me and my brother. I don’t believe I would have made it through my own challenges under another. Then again, maybe I was meant to have been born by him for that very reason.

I am thankful for friends who, regardless of my faith, prayed for my father. I remain quite unsure of prayer’s power, but I saw a sight of Christ never previously experienced. It was the truest form of agape prayer rarely seen, one that has shaken my soul and breathed a power of support I will need. To that experience, I thank my friends and Christ.

I am thankful for Apple FaceTime. Everyday, for the last five years, I was able to connect to my mother and father. Whether it was five minutes or hours, FaceTime provided moments I couldn’t otherwise experience. Just as the song Seasons of Love captured, our days were filled with daylights, sunsets, midnights, and cups of coffee; there were inches, there were miles, there was laughter, there was strife. There was hope, there was reconciliation, there was heart, but most of all, there was love. If not for Apple designers, technicians project managers and leaders managers, my father and I would not have gotten one more hour.

I say all these thanks for one more hour. For an hour after my last post, I potentially witnessed the last moments of my father’s life – via an iPad, through Apple FaceTime. Mid-sentence, my father straightened and fell over. At once, I became the ultimate Buddhist, a witness, a ghost who could see, but could not alter the events on screen. I could see my father and I witnessed the horror of my mother’s futile attempts to assist.

I am thankful for all the countless medical clinicians in a Tucson, AZ hospital who’ve cared for my mother and father. Tests remain – MRI’s, blood tests, physical assessment and so on. But these medical clinicians are direct hands of Christ, God, Buddha or whomever. They are God’s love, given to all.

After 86 years of life, I presume my father’s stroke prepares him for an exit from this life. As I await this final moment, I will no doubt give many more thanks to countless people that I should, but will never remember. I will thank them all for that extra hour.

If my father were able to speak here tonight, he would ask all of you to reach out, hug those you love and tell them how much them mean. So I will ask all you, for him. I know it’s late. But do it. You may get nary an hour more.

God, I am thankful for one more hour.

Bless you all.

On the eve of his Thanksgiving holiday departure, President Trump gave an accused pedophile in the Alabama Senatorial Candidate some huge support. And, in the early morning hours, on the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, with all that’s wrong in the world, Trump found time to disgrace the NFL, LaVar Ball, and retweeted a post from a London-based radio host “… If Hillary got my kid out of prison, as much as I hate the woman, I’d thank her corrupt ass.

No America, this is not your parent’s Grand Ol’ Party.  As CNN’s Chris Cillizza noted, the message from many establishment Republicans used to be that it wasn’t worth sacrificing moral principles solely to hold control of a single Senate seat. Today, the GOP nickname might become Grand Ol’ Pedophile’s.

So what happened? Where did moral integrity flee?

Rev. Ed Litton, senior pastor of the Redemption Church said “We can’t say, well, that doesn’t matter because some people in the other party do the same thing. These are serious allegations. And our faith, our worldview, demands that we take seriously the victimization of people.” However, all we’ve heard from many candidates and pundits is repeated vitriol toward anyone who professes serious conflict of interest against their candidate.

Trump’s business executive councils imploded because corporate CEOs realized it was ethically untenable to be associated with the president. However, we “the people” remain willing to accept the cup of bitterness offered by a demagogue.

I wonder if there are any “normal” Republicans anymore. If there are, they have a couple problems. First, they can’t displace Trump because they don’t have an alternative to Trump’s white grievance as a core message. Second, their stuck arguing against Obama policies, because arguing against the white grievance message would expose the failure to develop any meaningful policies to help anyone. Third, Obama is gone. So it’s easier to blame everything on Obama.

In June 2017, author MJ Lee wrote, “In recent history, presidents have turned to their faith in moments of crisis. Bill Clinton, a Baptist, called on the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the famed civil rights leader, to counsel his family in the fallout of his affair with Monica Lewinsky. The night before he announced his resignation, Richard Nixon, a Quaker, is said to have gotten down on his knees to pray in the Lincoln Sitting Room of the White House, weeping.”

Unfortunately, faith seems to only play a role when speaking at evangelic conferences, breakfasts or dinners. As such, moral faith of current Congressional leadership seems awash in the same faith of those that killed Christ. Just as in days of old, our nation’s leadership has been tested daily and we’ve watch personal moral flee.

One time or another, all of us flees from moral integrity. Republicans, Democrats, Buddhists, Christians and atheists alike. However, if you’re called to be a leader, you are called to a level of moral integrity that prevents candidates like Roy Moore.

The Devil You Get

Some thirty years ago, coworkers complained, whined and suggested they required new management to solve office malaise and downtrodden funk. Without batting an eye, a middle level manager piped up, “Be careful, the devil you get may be worse than the devil you got.”

It’s in that context that I look upon Mark Lee, a recently interviewed Trump supporter who offered that if Jesus Christ told him Trump colluded with Russia, he’d still defer to the president on whether or not it was true. Of course, he’s one guy who’s hopefully exaggerating for effect, but then again, thirty-years ago, nearly half of Louisiana voted for a Klansman. And we (the John Q. Public struggled to explain why.

Accordingly, America was so eager to rid the world of Obama and Clinton era’s, they voted Trump. And now they’ve to a new Devil.

The problem Mr. Lee and other Trump have supporters is that they bought into the candidate’s vision of himself as a savior of the working class. In a lot of ways, Trump mirrored campaign pages of the Klansman. Trump abhors welfare, foreign aid, affirmative action and outsourcing. He attacked Washington’s political-action committees, big money and the subversion of the common man. He even tried to appeal to black voters.

So, who’s the model? Klansman David Duke.

Writer Adam Serwer accurately denotes America’s current paradigm. “These supporters (Trump) will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.

As a Buddhist, when someone states they are the one true information source for followers, competing ideas and facts are not just wrong; they are demonic. As such, anyone not with you becomes “liars” and “sick people” “trying to take away your history and your heritage.” Pat Robertson said those who oppose Trump are “revolting against what God’s plan for America is.” Paula White, Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida and a Trump spiritual adviser, told her congregation that resisting Trump is tantamount to “fighting against the hand of God.”

It is important to remember that diversity is a strength. And if God actually said something important, leave the President out of it. Why? Because the President just supported Roy Moore’s senatorial candidacy. Like Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, a Moore backer, said in support of Moore:

“… take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

And Trump, in supporting Moore:

I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.

So, we’ll accept a potential child predator.

Sigh … the devil’s we openly accept.

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.”

The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?

~~ Dale Carnegie ~~

I leafed through a copy of Chris Matthews new book “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” and glanced through the book’s Prelude, I read Matthew’s words, “That Bobby’s background was different from his own didn’t matter; only his principles did.

I was eight years old when Bobby Kennedy was killed. Not completely unlike today, between March 16, 1968 and June 5, 1968, the country survived a series of events. Bobby Kennedy challenged his brother’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, for the Democratic presidential nomination. To which, LBJ withdrew. April brought the brutal assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., followed by urban rioting. And June 1968, the national would have to grieve again, as Bobby Kennedy would be assassinated.

Pushing democracy aside, our nation has not had to endure political assassinations. However, years of The Black Lives Matter movement, a Presidential race touting body parts, racial discord of white supremacy, sexual discrimination and the utter inability to work as members for a common good suggests our society has fallen behind the ideology of all men being equal.

Another small snippet led me to compare Trump to Bobby Kennedy. In reality, Matthews noted Joseph P. Kennedy (Bobby’s father) thought Bobby was devoid of any valuable qualities. Anguishing for a moment, I sat in a bookstore chair, closed my eyes and thought of Trump as he told FOX News “I’m the only one that matters.”

What Trump doesn’t understand is that Kennedy knew vulnerability alongside privilege and power. I fear this unwelcome gift the Trump children have applied well.  For instance, Ivanka Trump seems unwilling to acknowledge that there could, hypothetically, be a difference between what’s good for women and what’s good for her brand. In The Trump Card, Ivanka broadcasted her similarity to the President. “That’s what you get from this particular Daddy’s girl,” she wrote.

“As the first daughter goes around touting herself as a champion of women,” Sarah Newell, a representative for International Labor Rights Forum told Newsweek, “women are literally facing abusive conditions as they stitch her [brand name] into her products, and they aren’t being provided a structure where they can advocate for themselves.” NYT Opinion writer Lindy West phrased it well.

You’d think that a passionate anti-wage-gap crusader like Ms. Trump would relish a broad, ever-expanding data set illuminating her pet issue so that she could go after it with laser focus, but no. The first daughter strode into Washington with two big promises: She was passionate about helping “working women” and she was going to close the gender wage gap. However, Ms. Trump endorsed the President’s decision to abandon an Obama-era initiative. 

But remember, Trump is about brand – Trump brand. Not your brand. Not my brand. It’s as if Trump has been repeating, “I’m the only one that matters.”

The Trump brand will never intermingle with our brand. I’ve never heard President Trump ever express outrage at hunger in in the inner cities, mistreatment of blacks, or  unfair work conditions faced by migrants, regardless of how legal or illegal they be. Yet he will discuss nuking North Korea while simultaneously and unapologetically stating he received a high draft number and never served. Damn those bone spurs. And lastly, I’ve never heard Trump having the same empathy for white workingmen and women for blacks, Latinos and foreigners.

Trump’s true soul showed and we ignored it. As such, former Barack Obama voters swung the election by supporting Donald Trump. “It’s now the accepted wisdom,” Matthews wrote, “that the interests of the discarded factory worker and the ignored inner-city youth cannot be met together, so why try?

As a Buddhist, I find peace in Robert Kennedy’s sympathetic words from the night Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

“For those of you who are black and tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling.  I had a member of my family killed — but he was killed by a white man.  But we have to make an effort in the United States.  We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond or go beyond these rather difficult times.”

Contrary to Trump, we are “that” which counts. And returning full-circle, I would much rather borrow principles from Socrates, swipe them from Chesterfield or steal them from Jesus versus living by Trump’s. Accordingly, every day, each of us must choose which principles to honor. Trump’s values are not my true north. Neither should they be yours.

America must make an effort … an effort to understand, to get beyond or go beyond these rather difficult times.

I received a telephone call this past Thursday informing me my cousin passed away in his apartment. It’s unknown how long he laid prior to being discovered. An associate had not heard from him in several days, went to check and discovered Eddie Monday, October 16th.

Normally, such news would not impact me. However, I spent many summers raised by his family on their farm near Janesville, WI. There was no one in that period of time to which I had become closer. I remember many days jumping from barn loft beams onto piles of hay. We rode horses across wind swept fields of prairie grass watching grasshoppers, dragonflies and butterflies dart from our path. At night, we gather round the fire-pit to toast or burn marshmallows and gaze across the galaxy of stars never seen again.

The Eddie I knew, was a wonderful person. He was always interested others, became a lawyer and raised a family. Coming from a deeply religious and stern Catholic family, he was challenged by faith in life and love.

Yet Eddie was not without fault. For a long period of his life, he was a closeted gay. And I can only presume that torment finally caused a significant rift between family. He divorced, left the confines of the Midwest and moved to San Diego. Somewhere along his life, Eddie experienced some form of injury that rendered him in constant pain. He lost his job and became addicted opioids. One-day last week, he went to his closet to retrieve something. His heart stopped there, half-in, half-out. He died alone. His body half in, half out. Left for days until a concerned friend checked on him.

I never thought any family member would succumb to opioids. As Eddie drove helplessly into the abyss, I am not sure if his family knew. I didn’t. Then again, maybe some knew, but were unable or unwilling to help. In truth, I am unsure why Eddie’s death has such impact on me. Maybe there’s lessons we can learn – the lessons I missed.

  • First, I hadn’t talked to Eddie in years and I knew neither of his life in San Diego nor struggles. And I should have.
  • Secondly, shame can kill. Maybe Eddie’s death was cut from shame. As a family member, shame shouldn’t kill anyone, but it does. All LGBTQ members should be loved and accepted for the person they are … not the person we think they should be. We (you and I) should not stop being that caring father, husband, son, daughter, cousin or friend.
  • Third, never live life halfway in nor halfway out. Try life in its purest form, believing love and living in peace.

Because of our fears and prejudices, many of us cannot seem to others with respect. I’m sure Eddie, may have, at times, felt no one would treat Eddie the same. Thus, we robbed Eddie of one crucial peace, how to help him live a very crucial part of life well—the end of it.

I was proud to know and be loved by him.  Eddie, I will miss you. You are missed already. You will be missed forever. I will learn from your pain and live a better live.

President Trump joked about a bugle call that is customarily part of the armed forces’ time-honored tradition of showing respect. The bugle call occurred during Trump’s interview with Fox News.

“What a nice sound that is. Are they playing that for you or for me?” Trump exclaimed. “They’re playing that in honor of his (Hannity’s) ratings.”

Weeks ago, Trump furthered the NFL–U.S. Flag debate when stating, “That’s (kneeling) a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging NFL owners to smack-down unruly players.

Trump almost make it sound as if the U.S. Flag is a person.  Accordingly, everyone must be reminded that our nation’s flag is not a person. As such, the flag owns no heritage. Rather, our nation’s flag is meant to be a symbolic representation of American values. And like everything in our live, our nation’s values are shrouded in strengths and weaknesses.

The Supreme Court has found laws banning desecration of the American flag to be unconstitutional. The court ruled that it falls under the First Amendment protection of free speech in the Constitution. Despite this, the majority of states continue to have desecration laws on the books. Yet none will prosecute anyone for it.

Trump has no intention of prosecuting people who kneel during the National Anthem. Trump already knows flag desecration is not against the law. By highlighting NFL players kneeling, Trump reminds people of those who died in national service and aligns their emotions to something deeply offensive. This sentiment represents his constituents popular view. In highlighting an act of kneeling, Trump highlights a “moral crime” his constituents find angry. He’ll then walk away and let the common anger of self-righteousness flame emotions and parlay this vision into a windfall of ideological hate.

So then why continue to parlay the “flag disrespect” ideology? Perhaps because Trump’s point is to suppress the communication of ideas. For Trump, falsity is easier to accept and the acceptance of his opinion often has little to do with truth itself. In essence, for Trump, “truth” is not absolute. Accordingly, almost everything contradicting his view may well be considered a “clear and present danger.” Likewise, the majority of Trump supporters adopt some version of the “clear and present danger” mentality. Need an example? Trump’s 2016 “… war on Christmas” scenario. Need another? NFL Players kneeling disrespects the flag.

Throughout my years of travel, I’ve seen many things done to America’s flag. Most of them involve obscenities, stomping and burning. These acts occur both here in the United States and world over. None of them resulted in America weeping? I never saw the Statue of Liberty crying when I returned home. Nor have I seen people wailing in the streets of middle America. Nope. Not once.

However, if we take Trump’s at his word, “…that the U.S. Flag (and ideals) must not be disrespected,” then I have a few questions.

  • One in five children in New York City are food insecure. How does hunger in America impact the desecration of America and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?
  • In the past six-months, you’ve celebrated proposed radical shifts healthcare insurance that would expose tens of millions to lack of quality healthcare and deepen healthcare inequality. Can you please explain how this is not a form of desecration to American values and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?
  • While terminating healthcare subsidies, Energy Secretary Rick Perry defended a controversial proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants. The argument is that because coal and nuclear power can’t compete with cheaper (and cleaner) sources of power, they need to be subsidized. Can you please explain how removing healthcare subsidies while simultaneously providing subsidies to an ever-changing energy market is not a form of desecration to American values and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?
  • Desperate Puerto Ricans are said to be drinking water from potentially toxic superfund sites. Does desecration of American ideals occur only within the continental U.S and how does your war on NFL Players kneeling help reduce this problem?

I doubt we’ll get any answers.

Trump predictably got a standing ovation from the hundreds of people at the annual Values Voter Summit. Ovations included remarks for the flag, God and Israel. The “war on Christmas” theme has proven politically potent for years on the right, stocked by conservative media including Trump’s favorite, Fox News.

The President insists he’s simply standing up for the flag. But the flag is not a person. The flag, in and of itself, feels no pain. All Trump is doing is stoking culture wars.

At the end of the day, Trump’s decision to embroil the NFL in politics will reshape the NFL experience for millions. And for those needing a job, searching for someone to care for a sick child or drinking water from a toxic superfund landfill, you’re pretty much screwed.

But hey, at least the our U.S. Flag is not being disrespected. Right? Right!

News : NPR

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