Tag Archive: Social Justice


Mueller spoke.

And like prophets of a bygone era, we passed. Alex Shephard wrote, “Mueller, it seems safe to assume, had hoped that his report would speak for itself; that it would transcend the partisan narratives that had engulfed the investigation from its inception. That hasn’t happened—not by a long shot.”

Maybe author Michael Wolff was correct.

Mueller had come to accept the dialectical premise of Donald Trump—that Trump is Trump. He threw up his hands, and surprisingly, found himself in agreement with that Trump was the president – for better or for worse, what you saw was what you get. Trump is who the country voted for. Trump is what they get.

For more than 20 years, American’s have been in a mostly unknown dance with Grendl. Coming forth from the midst of reality television, our Grendl spun a dialect that enchanted American water cooler conversation, “Who’s getting fired this week.

Our Grendl is not the Grendl of the famous Anglo-Saxon poem. I’m referring to the Grendl who emerged from a New York high-rise. It’s the Grendl our soul, the Grendl that willing accepts a new level of viciousness with a promise of a greater American glory—such viciousness will make America great … again.

Mueller spoke.

Similar to his report, we searched for our Beowulf, the knight who would slay our Grendl. Investigate. Report. Indict. Impeach. Reaching back to our days in high school, many sat on the sidelines and cheered in unison, “Mueller, Mueller. He’s our man. If he can’t do it, no one can.” He didn’t. Mueller refused to accept the gilded knight. Instead, he lay his version of the book of life upon our desk.

Dare we read?

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Trump made it clear that Mueller’s exhortation to read had fallen on deaf ears.

“I’ve never read any of my books, and I certainly don’t intend to read his (Mueller’s).”

Funny, neither did Barr. An INSIDER survey indicated many Americans had yet read Mueller’s report, yet willing accepted it (Mueller’s report) exonerated Trump. To those in that category, Attorney General Barr and President Trump ‘luv’s ya’ baby.’

American’s willing drink from the cup of hate. It’s the irony of ironies! America is condemned, not only by ourselves, but by the very leaders who claim to be reputable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. That includes Graham, McConnell, Murkowski, Collins, Tillis, former Senator Flake, and former Speaker Ryan. All accepted the golden calf.

Even world leaders kiss the calf. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gushed about his “very close personal relationship with Donald” and called the United States-Japan alliance “the closest in the whole world.” In their book, “How Democracies Die,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt warn of other notable elected leaders who’ve perverted the democratic process, including Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Viktor Orban of Hungary. And let’s not foget Kim Jong-un’s love sonnets.

As the years move forward, America will silence critics. The government will display higher tolerance for extremist and bigoted views. We will liken Democratic and oppositional viewpoints to Nazis. Oversight will become treasonous. Public protests will be vilified “acts of terrorism.” Our new America will reject the principles of democracy, the legitimacy of opponents, curtail civil liberties and nurture the seeds authoritarianism. If you’re black, you die. If you’re Mexican, you’re a rapist.

Herein lay the hard lesson – Trump won’t last forever. In the wake of his presidency’s will cometh another—Grendel’s mother. Trump may be mean, ugly, and vicious. But the next guy will be worse. And just as Eddie S. Glaude Jr. previously noted, it will be appalling how so many Americans will bathe in the pool of ‘vicious.’

And Muller spoke.

In case you’ve lived under a tree or turned off social media this past weekend, I want to you to know Robert Mueller’s report landed. And after all the twists and turns of a Hollywood movie, here America stands – at the same spot where it all began. No conclusion on collusion.

To be fair, the Special Counsel’s report found evidence to support both sides of the question and left unresolved what the special counsel viewed as difficult issues of law. Attorney General Barr quoted Mueller as saying, “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Back in January, Irate over the cost of a $6 street dog, a man brutally beat two women who tried to stop him from berating a Los Angeles street vendor, according to police. Los Angeles police released cellphone video. A man later turned himself in just hours after cellphone video footage of the incident splashed across local media stations. He claims other bystanders started the fight.

Huh? I don’t understand the segue,” one might ask. “What’s the connection?

Direct link? Hmm. Not much,” Symbolically speaking, “Maybe more than we care to admit.

Maybe all the Special Counsel’s did was emphasize where America is at. Maybe at the end of the day, all we’ve (meaning Americans) have done is elected a group of angry, pre-dementia patients whose thought process heavily leans toward bigotry. Maybe that’s what America is. Maybe that’s all we’ll become for the next 15 to 20 years.

What’s important to note is that we haven’t figured how to live with others whose beliefs don’t reflect our own. As a result, we resort to discrimination, violence or hate. Just as our legislators outsourced morality to the special prosecutor, so the did hot dog guy and bystanders. When you lack the courage to stand for justice, morality is not your job, it’s someone else’s.

Washington Post writer Greg Sargent wrote the following:

President Trump’s extraordinary response to the New Zealand massacre provides an occasion to intensify our scrutiny of a critical question: Are Trump’s words emboldening white-nationalist and white-supremacist activity at home and abroad? Trump regularly engages in both veiled incitement of violence and anti-Muslim bigotry with a kind of casual regularity that almost seems designed to lull us into desensitization. That this is losing the power to shock is bad enough. But that’s producing another terrible result: This desensitization leads us to spend too little time focused on the actual consequences these verbal degradations could be having.

For 675 days, Americans hung on Mueller’s every word and action: each hire, each redaction, each revealing footnote. Yet Mueller cannot answer that which is particularly reprehensible and hiding in plain sight: There are no signs Americans are particularly troubled by representatives utilizing politics to demean and debase others.

Every one us is responsible for Trump.

Yet, when confronted by America’s new reality, we watch. We pull out our cell phones and record. We post. WSeyell at the television. But we fail to vote. And for those who gave Mueller messianic stature, it’s time to reconcile the unreconcilable.

Image Trump’s presidency without a villain? Congratulations. That day is here.

What Mueller proved is that our own level of morality (or lack thereof) cannot be outsourced. Mueller never intended his report to neither clean our dishes nor neatly tie loose ends. At the end of the day, we have to look at ourselves. We must vet our own consciousness. Is Trump’s America the vision we want our children to live?

Waiting Room

In Beetlejuice, the Neitherworld Waiting Room is a waiting room for ghosts. The waiting room is run by civil servants, and it is where one goes to meet or make an appointment with your afterlife case worker. There appears to be other types of offices leading from the waiting room but there is little to show what they are for.

I thought of the Neitherworld Waiting Room after attempting to reschedule a medical appointment.

“Greater State Medical and Pharmacy, how may I assist you?”

“Yes, my physician requested an MRI. I was originally scheduled for an MRI this past Thursday, but I was informed the MRI machine required repair. So, I would like to reschedule.”

“Okay. Are you a current patient?”

“No, I am being referred by Dr. Good Guy.”

“And your insurance?”

“Green Cross, Shield, and Holy Insurance Emporium.”

“Okay. The next availability we have is October 17th. I have both morning and afternoon available?”

“October?”

“I’m sorry. I know that’s quite some time away, but that’s our first availability. I can place you on a waiting list if you like?”

Boston Magazine’s noted a 2017 Merritt Hawkins study found, that in Boston, a new patient can expect to wait more than 52 days. Need a mental health professional? Three weeks. And to emphasize, I received a recommendation with an arthritis clinic to review my spine. My consult appointment is scheduled for the second week in November.

Therein lay the difficulty, wait times mean little for receptionists and billing specialists. They hold the power.

My guess is that the current system works quite well for most. However, specialists can be tough to get appointments with. In my case, I felt the receptionist was really saying, “This is the way we do things. If you want to be seen, you’ll follow the rules – our rules.” Should death take a holiday, I will have waited months. If death refuses to take a holiday, the above conversation is just another pretty pointless exchange in a probably quite common day – for her.

For a moment, I did think of Canadians. Then again, Canadians are reported to have it worse. In 2017, The Fraser Institute reported overall waiting times for medically necessary treatment increased. Specialist physicians who were surveyed, reported a median waiting time of 21.2 weeks between referral and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 20.0 weeks reported in 2016.

I note several weird stories from the news. A woman in Santa Anna, CA made news for billing her physician for the 45-minute wait time. The woman, who gets paid hourly, reportedly deducted $150 from her $223 bill return the bill, with a letter, explaining why she wouldn’t pay in full. The physician’s office reportedly agreed to the adjustment. Another physician reports he credits his patients $50 when late.

Both are interesting stories. Maybe I can buy some extra minutes from the Angel of Death.

Greetings oh great Reaper. I received this $50 bucks from my doctor, can I credit it to my account?

We take no credits.”

Damn. Mr. Reaper, you have a poor attitude.

As for me, Neitherworld Waiting Room. I wait.

Like racers competing for a prize, I wonder who’ll win: the Angel of Death, the doctor, or me? Should the Angel of Death appear and inform that my time is up and offer one final request before being accompanied from this world, I will, without hesitation, reply:

“I want a second opinion.”

“What you say, ‘six months for the first available consult?'”

“Hey. I have $50. Want a drink?”

CPACI didn’t want to ruin any mega-karma flowing my way. So, I wasn’t going to write about it. Then a Twitter writer wrote, “Can the flag sue for harassment?

When I heard of Trump’s speech at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I went to Youtube. “God Bless the USA” blasted over the speakers Trump stood next to an American flag and hugged it. Grinning and rocking the flag back and forth as idiots gave him a standing ovation.

It was a big hug to the American people. God bless president Trump,” a Twitter user gushed.

Then angel opined. Angel (@fun4u909) March 2, 2019, “Can the flag sue for harassment?

The two-hour speech rivaled some dictators.

This wasn’t the first time Trump embraced the American flag. In June 2018, Trump gave a speech before the National Federation of Independent Business, during which he discussed immigration at length, including his “zero tolerance” policy that separates families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump concluded his speech by praising small business hugged the flag as he walked off stage.

CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin noted all the February headlines. Here’s the list.

Cohen Testifies; Roger Stone Gag Order; Summit Sequel; Klobuchar Enters Race; Sanders Enters; O’Rourke’s Road Trip; Green New Deal; State of The Union; Trade War; Venezuela Power Crisis; India and Pakistan; New UN Pick; Believing another Dictator; Whitaker Hearing; Barr Confirmed; R. Kelly Charged; Robert Kraft Charged; Jussie Mollet Charged; Massacre Plot; Presidential Emergency; States Sue Trump (Over Presidential Emergency Declaration); North Carolina New Election; McCabe Book Tour; RGB Returns; El Chapo Sentenced; Amazon Bolts from NY; Bezos Pictures; Virginia State Government Crisis; Trump vs California; ISIS Bride Returns; Pope’s Advisor Convicted; Congress Rebukes Trump; Omar Apology; Tax Cuts Cause US Debt to Skyrocket; and Lady Gaga and Cooper’s Academy Award Duet.

Let me ask a few questions. How many steel jobs were created in February? How many jobs were talked about during February? How many job bills were generated and passed by Congress during February? Anyone?

How many jobs lost? 25,000 if you count Amazon’s departure from New York. Wisconsin’s Foxconn deal is on shaky ground.

In June 2018, Trump claimed US Steel was going to build six new steel plants.  In 2017, there were only nine US steel plants in total. At the time of Trump’s claim, I believe US Steel owned four of those nine steel plants. Here’s the truth, no U.S. company has announced new steel plants.

Here’s the real news, our president announces the opening of new factories that major U.S. companies have not announced? Likewise, for February. Over 35 different news-breaking stories and all we get from Trump is a collapsed Korean Summit, claims that the Russia investigation is a hoax, and a flag hug. The tariffs and taxes Trump implemented have resulted in little to no benefit and colossal debt.

If I did that in my business, I’d be fired.

Watching Trump hugging the U.S. Flag at CAPC was cringeworthy. The President purposely intermingles faith with politics. However, no political system, no matter how idealistic, can bring about peace, prosperity and happiness as long as the people in the system are dominated by greed, hatred and delusion. But, as Trump said CPAC speech:

This is how I got elected …

Buddhists and other spiritual leaders have long known the inherent problems when intermingleing religion with politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith. For politics? Power. In the course of history, religion has often been used to give legitimacy to those in power and their exercise of that power. Religion has also been used to justify wars and conquests, persecutions, atrocities, rebellions, destruction of works of art and culture.

When religion is used to pander to political whims, it has to forego its high moral ideals and becomes debased by political demands. At trhat point it’s nothing more that a s***show.

But maybe … just maybe … we can hug a flag, and everything will be okeydokey.

The Twitter writer was right, the flag should sue for harassment.

I’ve watched both the Smollett and Stone cases in the past several weeks. Both Smollett and Stone wish to position themselves as victims. Yet, neither are textbook victims. In Smollett’s case, police announced that the “Empire” actor is officially a suspect for filing a false police report in regards to his alleged attack in Chicago. And for Stone, he was kicking himself and apologized profusely for his shortcomings. “I am kicking myself over my stupidity,” Stone said, abandoning his infamous “never apologize” mantra and tough guy demeanor. Legal analyst Jack Quinn said, “… if stupidity were a crime, Roger would be in jail for the rest of his life. This was just monumentally dumb on his part.

In truth, both Stone and Smollett were incredibly stupid.

At the outset, I must confess that I have by no means claim perfection in my own life. As mentioned in previous posts, I am riddled with faults, and I further admit that I’ve critically hurt many friends. But I came from a perspective that’s been there and did it. But unlike Stone or Smollett, my work is done away from the public spotlight where I no longer have present ant false veneer.

I’ve witnessed glimpses of myself in other events. For the most part, I ignored them. However, one such incident leaps that leaps to forefront involves an auto dealer’s son. It was late summer 1996, and I was invited to a dinner party by the owner of a car dealership. The owner’s dealership included Acura, Lexus, and BMW.

After mingling with guests I’ve never met, I walked to the back where several of the serving staff were taking a break. Chit-chatting back and forth, one server drew a breath from a cigarette and nodded toward a young man walking with a younger woman.

“Ah,” he said sarcastically, ” There goes Capt’n Cessna.”

“Who?” I responded

“Capt’n Cessna,” he pointed. “We’ve nicknamed Jason J., the dealer’s son, Capt’n Cessna.”

“Why?”

“Well,” said a server sitting on a swing. “He tried to make a BMW fly.”

“Oh,” I replied. “I heard about that. The brakes failed on his BMW and car got totaled.”

“Ah ha ha ha ha ha,” laughed everyone. “You don’t know s***.”

“Really?”

“Hey Jimmie,” the woman to the man next to me. “Tell him. You tell good.”

“See sir. Capt’n there,” he pointed, “wanted an Acura NSX for his birthday. But his father got him a BMW. So, one day, he gets this great idea to release the parking brake in hopes the car would roll and get damage so he could buy another car.”

“Didn’t quite work out that way, huh?”

“Nope. No sir,” said one server.

“He tried to blame it on bad brakes,” claimed Jimmie. “But the car creased in-between the street’s V-shaped storm drain, slid backward, completely straight, and rolled downhill. Police estimate the vehicle started going about 9 miles per hour, gained speed, and maximized at 40. It hit two garbage bins, clipped Ms. McGurdy’s summer azalea’s, pulverized a copy of the Morning Gazette into the pavement before losing its driver’s side mirror against the U.S. Post Office Mailbox before becoming forever immortalized into Morningside folklore.

Once the vehicle traveled past the road’s end, the BMW’s $20,000 value quickly plummeted. Any lingering thought that the street curb would reverse destiny was thwarted, as ‘bla-blup, bla-blup’ emanated from underneath, followed by a quick ‘phooom,’ and a brief second of silence. And there, against the backdrop of an early morning sun, the BMW momentarily floated, and in dawn’s silhouette, dove outward, toward the shore below.”

Everyone cracked up.

“Car buffs along Morningside Drive claim that was the greatest event ever to occur, even when comparing it to Danny Butterfield’s errant 4th of July bottle rocket landing in ol’ Quester’s Wagon Ride. Even today, during hot summer afternoon’s, ol’ folk sit, sip cool tea, and reminisce of the day when Capt’n there confirmed, without question, that BMWs don’t fly.”

In Buddhism, being truthful goes beyond merely not telling lies. It means speaking truthfully and honestly, yes. But it also means using speech to benefit others, and not to use it to help only ourselves — this is where Roger Stone and Jussie Smollett failed. Speech rooted in the poison of hate, greed, and ignorance is false speech. If your speech is designed to get something you want, or to hurt someone you don’t like, or to make you seem more important to others, it is false speech even if what you say is factual.

The tricky thing we must do is forgiveness. In the case of Stone and Smollet, when all is adjudicated, and sentences are over, we must forgive. However, many holy words one reads, or however many are spoken, what good will they do if we cannot act on upon them? Therefore, my friends, if we fail to forgive, then holding on to our anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you get burned.

Firgiveness is never easy. For Stone and Smollet, forgiveness will not be a single event. Rather, it will be a series of decisions repeated many times over.

Six months before he was assassinated, King spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967.

I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life’s blueprint?

Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.

Now each of you is in the process of building the structure of your lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint.

I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life’s blueprint. Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

Secondly, in your life’s blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you will do in life — what your life’s work will be. Set out to do it well.

And I say to you, my young friends, doors are opening to you–doors of opportunities that were not open to your mothers and your fathers — and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to face these doors as they open.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871, “If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”

This hasn’t always been true — but it will become increasingly true, and so I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil; I would say to you, don’t drop out of school. I understand all the sociological reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live in — stay in school.

And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

— From the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the Seattle Times noted, Martin Luther King Jr. lived an extraordinary life. At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. At 34, he galvanized the nation with his “I Have a Dream” speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today.

But does it?

In a nation of shutdowns, disingenuous protests and moral superiority, many speak of King’s morality – few live it.

covingtonOn January 18, 2019, Covington Catholic High School faced heavy backlash after a group of predominantly white students was filmed harassing and insulting Native Americans participating in an Indigenous Peoples’ March in Washington, D.C. The students were visiting to participate in the simultaneous anti-abortion March for Life, which attracts many Catholic groups. Many of the students wore “Make America Great Again” hats.

In one of several videos of the incident, a student wearing a Covington Catholic sweatshirt is seen smirking and blocking the path of Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran who was playing a ceremonial drum. The students reportedly chanted “build that wall“, while others stood in a circle nearby and chanted “CovCath is the best.”

There’s several ironies. First, all of this comes days before Dr. Martin Luther King Day. Second, students attending the anti-abortion March for Life seem to subversively claim, “We march for life, but we impugn the life of anyone notwhite.”

Go figure.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:

I’m concerned about a better World. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. […] and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.

Love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. Unfortunately, love requires effort.

Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

‘Hear’ the Unheard.

ThreeWhen Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired, the world took little notice, except to ponder how long Rod Rosenstein and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller would remain employed. Yet most have failed to learn some key leadership lessons from the “Trumptonian” era of management.

First, we have to distinguish between obtaining a leadership position, and actually being successful in a leadership position. The political steps Trump took to become leader of the free world will not make him successful. Reality T.V. tactics may retain audience participation, but the real lesson is that all television shows eventually get cancelled. Second, if one’s claim to fame is leadership, having to fire 55 of your hand-picked staff in less than two years is not a confidence booster. No fortune 500 company would clear such an individual to ascend toward a Presidential position, but here are.

Research on “ideal” styles of leadership suggest the ideal leader should possess intelligence, is hard-working, honest, and compassionate. Trump overwhelmingly fails in all of these qualities.

So what does Trump have? Trump is a master of media and messaging. He knows his target audience and speaks to them effectively. Trump was able to identify gaps in America, empathize and provide unexpected solutions. If you were unhappy or afraid about something, a solution was presented for your pain. Need an enemy of the ‘state?’ Media. Need a broader ‘evil?‘ Democrats. Black people lack intelligence, women are ugly, lie and bleed … well from everywhere. In the world of presidential politics, marketing separates winners from the losers.

In Trump’s world, the shoes of responsibility for the Russian Investigation lay at another door. In this case, Sessions. Therefore, the King summarily executed (figuratively) his advisor and picked an “unqualified” partisan to protect himself. Unfortunately, both Trump and Sessions willfully ignored leadership’s greatest responsibility – the ‘unheard’ moaning from the wilderness.

The Sound of the Forest

Back in the third century A.D., the King Ts’ao sent his son, Prince T’ai, to the temple to study under the great master Pan Ku. Because Prince T’ai was to succeed his father as king, Pan Ku was to teach the boy the basics of being a good ruler. When the prince arrived at the temple, the master sent him alone to the Ming-Li Forest. After one year, the prince was to return to the temple to describe the sound of the forest.

When Prince T’ai returned, Pan Ku asked the boy to describe all that he could hear. “Master,” replied the prince, “I could hear the cuckoos sing, the leaves rustle, the hummingbirds hum, the crickets chirp, the grass blow, the bees buzz, and the wind whisper and holler.” When the prince had finished, the master told him to go back to the forest to listen to what more he could hear. The prince was puzzled by the master’s request. Had he not discerned every sound already?

For days and nights on end, the young prince sat alone in the forest listening. But he heard no sounds other than those he had already heard. Then one morning, as the prince sat silently beneath the trees, he started to discern faint sounds unlike those he had ever heard before. The more acutely he listened, the clearer the sounds became. The feeling of enlightenment enveloped the boy. “These must be the sounds the master wished me to discern,” he reflected.

When Prince T’ai returned to the temple, the master asked him what more he had heard. “Master,” responded the prince reverently, “when I listened most closely, I could hear the unheard—the sound of flowers opening, the sound of the sun warming the earth, and the sound of the grass drinking the morning dew.” The master nodded approvingly. “To hear the unheard,” remarked Pan Ku, “is a necessary discipline to be a good ruler. For only when a ruler has learned to listen closely to the people’s hearts, hearing their feelings communicated, pains unexpressed, and complaints not spoken of, can he hope to inspire confidence in his people, understand when something is wrong, and meet the true needs of his citizens. The demise of states comes when leaders listen only to superficial words and do not penetrate deeply into the souls of the people to hear their true opinions, feelings, and desires.”

Prince T’ai’s lesson remains the same. All should learn it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a baker, clinician, banker, factory worker, school teacher, pilot or homemaker. You are the leader of yourself. If you want to lead, you have to ‘hear‘ the unheard.

Just as 12 people were shot and killed in a California nightclub, the National Rifle Association declared war against the medical profession via social media. Apparently, the war was triggered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) having the gall to release new figures showing gun deaths on the rise, indicating latest data for large metro areas are reaching levels not seen since 2006-2007.

Among the 50 largest metro areas, 43 (86%) reported rate increases when compared to 2012-2013 total. The report states a likely factor in both homicide and suicide rates is access to a firearm. According to previous studies, the decision to harm yourself or another person take as little as 10 minutes or less. Persons who make such decisions tend not to substitute use of a firearm when one is unavailable or difficult to access.

“Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7

— NRA (@NRA) November 7, 2018

The NRA is right. We need a consult.

In July 2017, the Emergency Management website ran a story indicating initial hospitalizations involving firearm injuries cost $734.6 million a year nationally. The story, written by reporters Jennifer Smith Richards, Annie Sweeney and Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune followed two gunshot victims – Annette Johnson and Leo Leyva.

The bills for their initial treatment were staggering. In his first 35 minutes at the hospital, Leyva had racked up $21,521 in charges, and by the time he was released three weeks later the bill totaled more than $157,000. For Johnson, who spent barely 24 hours at Mount Sinai, the hospital charges approached $27,000.

Can anyone guess the average cost of branded and top grade shotguns? $500 to $800 dollars. Likewise, can anyone guess the average cost of a decent 9MM weapon? $250 to $400 dollars.

The Emergency Management article continued. An unprecedented analysis of state data by the Tribune revealed that the initial medical costs for treating Chicago gunshot victims like Johnson and Leyva add up to tens of millions of dollars annually.

Also in June 2017, NBC News published “Journey of a Bullet” followed six people endured the physical force, paid the emotional toll and found a path to recovery. the most interesting quote,

“… the gunshot wound may heal, but the bullet remains embedded in every facet of the survivor’s life.” For a fleeting moment, the thrust of the bullet bonds these survivors before their stories pull apart, diverging in directions where their futures are thrown into turmoil: Some are left paralyzed or must undergo years of reconstructive surgeries or are so shaken up, they can’t walk down a street without glancing over their shoulders.

What the NRA’s social media war fails to comprehend is that for clubgoers, rescue staff, police, heath care clinicians, and victims of the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting are forever bonded. That will never change. In the meantime, Trump ordered flags to half-staff, Democrats demand action, and relentless prayers. All those damned prayers. “Prayers and condolences” for all.

Having made a living in the medical profession, both as a former rescue man and paramedic, police officer and now consultant, I can attest that the physicians are right. However, maybe the NRA’s concern, that “… the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves” is valid. As such, I sarcastically propose the following scenario during the next major trauma. It’s not very Buddhist, but it feels right.

Doctor: “Gunshot wound. Oh my God. I need a consult.” Picks up phone. Dials.

Voice: “National Rifle Association. How can I assist you?”

Doctor: “This is Anytown ER. Need a consult. We have a well-developed, well nourished, white male, 70 inches tall, weighing 138 lbs, and appearing the stated age of 39 years. Present in the right upper chest, 13 1/2 inches below the top pf the head, level with the jugular notch, just below the clavicle and 2 3/4 inches to the right of the midline, there is a gunshot wound of entrance. Initial examination of the wound reveals it to consist of an oval-shaped, seared and blackened wound, measuring 5/16 inch vertically x 1/4 inch horizontally. Partially burned grains of powder are present in this wound. Lying slightly above this wound and enclosing three-quarters of it, there is a circular contusion ring, approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. This ring measures slightly less than 1/16-inch-wide and has a reddish color. The bullet, after passing in between the clavicle and 1st rib, struck and perforated the right brachio-cophalic vein and the right internal thoracic artery. The bullet then went through the apex of the upper lobe of the right lung and struck the antero-lateral aspect of the 3rd thoracic vertebra. The bullet went through the body of this vertebra in a posterior path, creating a tangential wound of entrance into the spinal canal.”

So, ah, NRA? It’s your gun and your bullet. How should we proceed?”

How’s that for a consult?

Voted … Voted … Voted.

I voted.

My vote was neither a repudiation of Donald Trump nor referendum. My vote was to embrace.

  • My vote was for my niece, nephew and those who will live in 2040 and 2050;
  • My vote was for children who want to go to school without being shot;
  • My vote was a vote for those #MeToo victims screaming to be heard;
  • My vote was a small voice for health care – to all who are and will be impacted by dementia and Alzheimer’s in 2040. It doesn’t matter how we’ll have gotten there. Simply put, we’ll be there. It’s up to us to figure it out. If we don’t, we’re not going to like life in 2040 and 2050;
  • My vote was a voice for the oceans. If we care not for the environment, we’re likely to kill all;
  • My vote was for the Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, Jew, and the outcast. You are not forgotten and welcome in my world;
  • My vote is birthed from a thirst for “Truth.” Whatever happened to that?;
  • Lastly, for Eric who commented, borrowing from Gregory Porter’s ‘Take Me to the Alley,’ my vote was for those in the alley:
    • For the afflicted ones;
    • For the lonely ones; and
    • For those who’ve lost their way.

Most importantly, I voted for you. I voted for us.

What did you vote for? Leave a comment if you care.

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