Tag Archive: Living Buddha


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.

This blog of “thoughts” started over five years ago. And with exception for a few sabbaticals, I continue to provide something to anyone willing to stop and read. November 2012 found me in Ocean City, Maryland. November 2013 Vermont saw me host the holidays as I looked over Lake Champlain. In 2014, I opined on Jameis Winston and our inability to provide credibility to victims of sexual violence. On a personal note, we’ve learn little in the waning years. Missouri University and Black Lives Matter decorated the nation’s table in 2015. Last year, I was on sabbatical, as I traveled five countries while briefly discussing Trump’s “War on Christmas” – to which I’ve not seen.

So, what have I learned?

America remains a great country. The economy is rolling. Granted we need to improve wages for poorer folks; create some form of national healthcare that everyone can use, and create a better world for our children.

Despite the fact most people don’t know the complete words of our national anthem, America has sports. In America, we can choose to protest by kneeling or rioting in the streets. I am thankful our sports teams can give us a momentary pause to think while enjoying something rich and wonderfully diverse.

God bless America’s immigrants. Each person coming to America adds their own flavor and layer of life to America. Like all living things,  we require injections of new thinking and energy, and rearranging our identity and heritage is a wonderful process. Most arrive from desperation, but they learn and like others before them, they reshape America. Diversity is our strength.

I am thankful to have gotten this far in life. Wasn’t meant to. I am thankful for my doctors who provide me the opportunity to defy the odds. These medical professionals, researchers, clinicians and physical therapists are the real gifts from God. They’ve arbitrarily decided my net worth from some big office based upon my healthcare policy. And even though I will eat some Hickory Farms beef sausage, don’t take my momentary weakness personally.

Having traveled to all fifty states, I am thankful to understand just how big America is. As such, America is not under siege. Our size, depth and global position of our country prevents us from being under siege. And the world is thankful our reality TV star, who has promised to “bomb the shit” out of our enemies, attack the families of terrorists, and reinstitute torture, has remained relatively ineffective. As such, most Americans will die from old age versus anything terrorism.

Taking a message from Thich Nhat Hanh, I will recite “The Five Contemplations” at mealtime. The verses have been handed down through twenty-five centuries. Each is known for their depth of compassion and wisdom and remind us to walk lightly on this earth and consider our purpose. They remind us to be mindful of unwholesome acts, such as greed, anger, and delusion, and to transform them with insight, wisdom, and loving-kindness.

  1. This food is the gift of the whole universe—the earth, the sky, and much hard work;
  2. May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it;
  3. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed;
  4. May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness; and
  5. We accept this food so that we may realize the path of practice.

Peace to all.

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.

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!

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.

President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) reads like a modified Dickens’ novel.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope … we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going to Hell …

Here’s one tale of the President’s action.

In dodging the press, Attorney General (aka “I Can’t Remember”) Sessions referred to DACA as unconstitutional and criticized it as:

“… unilateral executive amnesty that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens. We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the interest of the nation.

The decision could affect as many as 800,000. These participants are known and registered for the program since its inception in 2012. Immigrant rights advocates state 200,000 more have sought legal status through DACA.

GOP lawmakers and constituents have hammered the public of the consequences of DACA participants and immigrants denying jobs to hundreds of Americans. However, CNN Money claims experts say repealing DACA would worsen the shortage of workers in the United States. “Getting rid of DACA reduces the number of skilled workers and a lot of industries are facing worker shortages. To push this now is really an inopportune time.

And the other tale of President’s action?

President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida filed requests with the government on Thursday to hire 70 temporary foreign workers as cooks, housekeepers and servers at the private club, according to records posted by the Labor Department. The jobs would begin on October 1 and end in May 2018. These positions would take advantage of the H-2B visa program, which allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nations to the country for temporary, non-agricultural work.

The irony is that the Trump administration moved to expand the H-2B program saying it would offers an additional 15,000 visas because not enough American workers are willing or able to fill the country’s employment needs for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year.

What Trump and Sessions represent is a form of “Scarcity Mentality” from Stephen Covey. As the Trump administration progresses, maybe they see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. Accordingly, as Job noted “They thrust the needy from the path and force all the poor of the land into hiding.” Maybe what Trump appears to say is that the odds of economic advancement differ considerably based on family, race, neighborhood, and other factors. If you’re someone otherwise classified as non-American, you will not escape the income category we’ve defined.

To enforce this vision, in a little-noticed April 2015 speech during the Texas Patriot’s PAC, Trump talked about people crossing the border illegally in the same breath as foreign goods.

“Everything’s coming across the border: the illegals, the cars, the whole thing. It’s like a big mess. Blah. It’s like vomit.”

In a Trump world, DACA registrants represent the worst. They’re vomit. However, if you’re a foreign cook at Mar-a-Lago, you represent the best. Yet Christ, Buddha, Dr. Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa saw the best in the marginalized, those considered no better than vomit.

So, review your life. What represents the best of times? What represents the worst? How would God see your choices?

“Even though The Tonight Show isn’t a political show, it is my responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being.”

“What happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, was just disgusting. I was watching the news like everyone else, and you’re seeing Nazi flags and torches and white supremacists, and I was sick to my stomach,” Fallon continued, tears welling in his eyes. “My daughters are in the next room playing and I’m thinking, ‘How can I explain to them that there’s so much hatred in this world?’ They’re two years old and four years old. They don’t know what hate is. They go to the playground and they have friends of all races and backgrounds, and they just play, and they laugh, and they have fun.”

“But as kids grow up, they need people to look up to—to show them what’s right, and good. They need parents and teachers, and they need leaders who appeal to the best in us. The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful. And I think he finally spoke out because people everywhere stood up and said something. It’s important for everyone—especially white people—in this country to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.” 

“And remember: there are people who have given their lives to make sure this kind of hate doesn’t spread. They’ve fought and died on the right side of history. One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what’s right at the age of 32. I can’t look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening. We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for all that is right, and civil, and kind. And to show the next generation that we haven’t forgot how hard people have fought for human rights. We cannot do this. We can’t go back. We can’t go back.”

Jimmy Fallon got it right.

IcarusI’ll admit it. Washington’s “Trump-Russia” connection can make engrossing television. Recent disclosures of meetings between Donald Trump, Jr. and Russian backed attorneys reveal the complex world which we live. Media outlets could have focused on the administration’s G20 meetings, healthcare, or any number of items. But the ongoing coverage seems to return to Russian collusion.

I will not overtly condemn Trump Jr. My thoughts are broader and something covered previously. More to the point, in today’s world, there most certainly an electronic copy of our life. And deciding whether to take a suspicious meeting, one must understand who is watching and when will same said information become public.

In 2008, British newspaper The Telegraph noted Britons are recorded approximately 3,000 times a week. In the U.S., license plate readers, public space cameras, store and loyalty cards, phones, television, computer, emails and businesses entered are recorded. Information is complied, stored in some database and retained for years, if not definitely.

Whether the Trump-Russia collusion connection pans out or not. Donald Trump Jr. is not unlike many Americans. Either naivety or the willingness to win at all costs overwhelms the “gut check” common sense demands. I tend to believe the Trump views any all opposition as a perversion that must be pulverized.

And the willingness to pulverize is not unlike the Greek Myth Icarus who flew too close to the sun. It’s the fascination with fire that lead many astray.

Many years ago, I was contacted by a recruiter from a rival nationwide consulting firm. After cursory conversation, the recruiter proposed a well-intentioned employment offer, substantial raise and benefits. Nearing the end of the offer, the recruiter then requested a list of every customer from my current firm and projects being proposed. Stunned for only a minute, I calmly rose, shook the recruiter’s hand and said, “I believe our time has concluded.” Leaving, I was appalled by the recruiter’s audacity and honored by my principles not to engage.

Personally, I chose not to fly that close to the sun. Maybe Trump Jr. accepted the risk. Saint Bernard Clairvaux is attributed to the saying L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés ou désirs” (hell is full of good wishes or desires). An earlier saying occurs in Virgil’s Aeneid, “facilis descensus averno (the descent to hell is easy).” The commonly used version is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Many fail to understand the concept of “do no harm.” One ancient text states that “non-harming is the distinguishing characteristic of Buddhism.” Let’s modify this to non-harming is a distinguishing characteristic of good men. For unenlightened Buddhists, the commitment of non-harming is carried in the ethical precepts where non-harming becomes integral to their nature and “delight in harmlessness.”

While the principle of non-harming is a noble one, its application in daily life raises many questions about when such a principle is relevant and in which circumstances it might be discarded.  Is harmlessness an absolute precept for Buddhists?  Does it prohibit any use of violence for the purposes of self-defense or when it can prevent a greater harm? Does harm mean only physical violence?

Even if violence is prohibited, the principle of acting out of hatred, anger or envy is. And looking at the current state of politics, the very nature of acting in hatred (regardless of party) is very transparent. Accordingly, acting out of hatred, anger or envy is common in daily events.

Christ stated that one sins simply by thinking. Meaning if one thinks of adultery, then adultery has been committed. As a Buddhist, we are instructed to become better by abstention of evil actions, speech, and intentions. If we don’t, I am sure emails, video and other information will humble even the most arrogant. Maybe that’s the humbling lesson Trump Jr. is learning.

If I had simply abstained through my walk, I would have been a much better person, in both life and love. But I wasn’t. And like Icarus, I died a thousand deaths in the Sea of Humility.

Hopefully, you will not.

News : NPR

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