Tag Archive: Social Justice


‘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.

A contrast of Presidents smothered television today. Trump held a rally in Mississippi while Obama rallied in Florida. Both attempted to unify their respective base – one via hatred, the other via inspiration. And America watched its gunslingers duel it out. One proposing true opportunity for greatness. Of the other, brute strength.

Reality set in shortly after the speeches – we are an America that lives by the rule of brute strength. Its president vows all must be vanquished prior to becoming great. However, the warning comes in the form of a question (one which I’ve asked before). When was the last time America rebuilt something wonderful?

Writer Ed Pilkington accurately reflect America at the ‘crossroads.’

They [supporters] are the crucible of the Trump revolution, the laboratory where he turns his alternative reality into a potion to be sold to his followers. It is at his rallies that his radical reimagining of the US constitution takes shape: not “We the people”, but “We my people”.

A supporter wears a T-shirt that articulates what many people will say to me in the coming days. It bears the words: “Trump: he says what I think.”

Further in his writing, Pilkington wrote:

A retired building foreman and Harley guy, comes up to me in the press pen saying he wants to come face to face with “fake news”. He sounds intimidating, until he throws me a big just-kidding smile.

“What would happen to America were Trump not on the case?”

“People are going to get killed,” he says. “Gang wars. We are going to get gang wars between white and black, whites and Mexicans. We could have our own little Vietnam, right here.”

With Trump, we run from our problems. We have no education to solve anything. But it’s what we have always done. There’s no sugarcoating America’s current level of hate. When I watch some Trump supporters, I think of a scene from the film Stepmom (transposing ‘Trump’ and ‘Trump Supporter’ for context).

Ben Harrison (Trump Supporter): Mommy…

Jackie Harrison (Trump): What, sweetie?

Ben Harrison (Trump Supporter): If you want me to hate her, I will.

Unfortunately, Trump has accomplished little but vindicate our own truth. What we’ve failed to learn is that ‘strength overused becomes a liability.’ Such liabilities have never built anything good or anything wonderful. The following parable reflects American life.

“You listen,” said the Master, “not to discover, but to find something that confirms your own thoughts. You argue, not to find the truth, but to vindicate your thinking.”

——-

The Master told of a king who, passing through a small town, saw indications of amazing marksmanship everywhere. Trees and barns and fences had circles painted on them with a bullet hole in the exact center. He asked to see this unusual marksman. It turned out to be a ten-year-old child.

“This is incredible,” said the king in wonder. “How in the world do you do it?”

“Easy as pie,” was the answer. “I shoot first and draw the circles later.”

“So, you get your conclusions first and build your premises around them later?” asked the king.

“Isn’t that the way you manage to hold on to your religion and to your ideology?”

In preparation for the upcoming midterms, my employer requested I send employees a link to the county website holding links to a complete list of voting information, including polling hours, locations, sample ballots for each district and early voting.

Later that afternoon, a young coworker emailed. “Why is voting so important? Much of it is predetermined and your vote doesn’t count.

After work, a group met for drinks. Annoyed, the young coworker interrupted and complained I hadn’t responded to the email.

I don’t answer political questions at work. Management provides the county website only as a frame of reference, and should you choose to vote, willingly provides several hours.”

Scoffing, the young employee snorted, “I suppose you’re voting?

I nodded.

Why?

Because I’m not a wild pig.”

Huh?

Truthfully, I could have stated that in a democracy, we get the government we deserve, and this means we get even those governments we never voted for, meaning by our failure to participate. Instead, we get governments by the few, for the few. As such, these outcomes are often abysmal.

I did not say any of the above. Instead, I told my young coworker the parable of ‘wild pigs.’

“One day, a Political Science student from a foreign country asked the professor a strange question. “Know how to catch wild pigs?”

Thinking the question to be a joke, the professor replied, “What’s the punch line?”

“You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put fence down one side of the place where they’re used to eating. When they get used to the fence, they continue to eat the corn again. You put up another side of fence. They get used to that and continue to eat.

You continue the routine until all four sides of the fence are up with only a gate in the last side. The pigs, being used to free corn, come through the gate and eat. You slam the gate and catch the whole herd. Suddenly, the wild pigs scream in panic as they try to escape. It’s only then they realize they’re caught.

In essence, they’ve forgotten how to think for themselves. That’s how I see American voters.”

So, under the current administration, who’s the farmer and who are the pigs? Do I have to hit you over the head?

America’s lust for hate and weaponization intersected three time this week. First, on Wednesday, a white man with a history of violence shot and killed two African-Americans, seemingly at random, at a Kentucky grocery store. Second, after mail bombs were sent to Democratic criticized by the President. And third, on Saturday, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people attending Jewish services.

In today’s world, ‘prayers and thoughts’ are likened to ‘checking a box.” All us recognize  something has to change. We even recognize our participation in injustice, and yet we intend to do nothing. So, just as in other acts of terror, American political leaders are quick to offer prayers, condolences and thoughts but deny any culpability. In essence, our political leaders are saying, “Screw’em. They’re dead.” When tragedy occurs, ‘thoughts and prayers. Check.

Op-ed writer AJ Willingham capture my thoughts.

“Semantic satiation is the phenomenon in which a word or phrase is repeated so often it loses its meaning. But it also becomes something ridiculous, a jumble of letters that feels alien on the tongue and reads like gibberish on paper.

“Thoughts and prayers” has reached that full semantic satiation.

In today’s world, politicians take line up as guests on MSNBC, CNN, FOX News and others and deny any responsibility for their actions. In their minds, ‘thoughts and prayers’ absolves them of guilt. In today’s world of Trump, the National Rifle Association and second amendment fear mongering, dissent is a deadly business. In fact, white supremacist Andrew Anglin told the HuffPost what he thought of Trump’s refusal to denounce them. “We interpret that as an endorsement.”

A friend asked, “Do you believe Trump is either, in whole or partly, responsible?

Yes.” I replied.

Forbes writer Todd Essig summarizes my thoughts.

President Trump has, intentionally or not, hit a trifecta of hate that foments terrorism, in this case domestic terrorism. At rallies and speeches his incendiary eloquence identifies opponents as enemies then motivates hatred and sanctions violence against them. Facts no longer matter. Nor do values shared with those he sees as horrible, terrible people. What matters is that it’s us versus them. And we can’t let them win. Never apologize, never back down.

However, my friend missed the larger question.

Are we, like Trump, either partly or in whole, responsible?

Yes,” I would have replied. “America is just as liable.”

America’s inaction gives permission of hatred. One percent of Americans, was responsible for about a fifth of hate crimes. Other assaults included an elderly man at a Jewish retirement home, a 12-year-old boy on his way home from Friday prayers, a woman in a taxi, a person on a subway train and a man who was attacked and maced while waiting at a red light and a man pulling down a statue and calling members of a Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Center “Devil Worshippers.

Buddha taught hatred is a form of suffering. He said holding hatred in the mind and heart is like tightly clutching a hot coal. Guess who suffers? As such, those responsible for controlling a white-nationalist President (that being ‘we‘) have done nothing. America’s done nothing. No one does anything except offering thoughts and prayers.

I envision many getting to heaven and Christ asking, “Hey. What’s that in your hand?”

The New York Times, Commonwealth Fund and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health surveyed those who use the health care system the most. According to their report, while the whole point of health insurance was to protect one from financial ruin in case of catastrophic, costly health problems, the results show it often fails in that basic function. In essence, even those with healthcare insurance face financial ruin.

One key problem, not many really know what their insurance covers. In the case of my parents, one would have thought I requested top secret clearance to national secrets. Thus, I had to threaten to sue the insurance company to receive a complete copy of their medical plan. It was stunning to see and digest the process for used to determine what services were covered and what services were not covered.

One small area I delved into involved dementia and Alzheimer’s. As previously written, the world hasn’t prepared for Alzheimer’s or dementia care. But even today, a major factor affecting the quality of such care is being able to consistently deliver it. In custodial care, Nursing Assistants are relatively disadvantaged economically, have low levels of educational attainment, serve under physically and emotionally demanding work, and are among the lowest paid. Thus, society cleans their conscious by casting loved ones into the hands of these people and later wonder aloud of the things that went wrong.

For those like my father, dementia is an increasing cause of suffering. Insurers however, both private or government, fail to address the tidal wave of custodial long-term care required by an aging population. As a result, as the population of elderly grows,  dementia will replace cancer as the most feared illness. Dementia’s impact not only affects the person with the disease, but family members, friends and those who care for them at home are forced to provide care options to which they are neither prepared nor can financially afford.

Those battling the ethical dilemma generally fall into two groups. Proponents profess that Jesus believed Christians should support a Christian president. Therefore, since the president believes in a public health option, we should therefore assist our fellow man. On the other hand, opponents claim the problem we face is that Jesus never mentioned universal healthcare. There’s neither any Biblical mandate to provide healthcare, nor is there any mandate to implement.

There is a third viewpoint – the one that blames. In the blame-game, current congressional leaders espouse exclusivity. It’s the wanton desire to blame and punish the poor for all societal ills. It is similar to Nazi Germany blaming Jews. Most recently, Senator Mitch McConnell blamed poor people for budget problems his party created. Need another example? Look no further than the September 2011 Republican presidential debate.

Moderator Wolf Blitzer pushed candidate Ron Paul about a hypothetical man without insurance who goes into a coma. “That’s what’s freedom is all about,” replied Paul. “Are you saying society should just let him die?” asked Blitzer. To which point several members of the Tea Party-heavy audience interrupted with “YEAH!”

In almost every country, the population aged 60 years and over is growing faster than any other age group, resulting in an increase in older people’s care needs. According to WHO, the population aged 60 and over is expected to increase from today’s 600 million to an estimated 2 billion by 2050.

As a Buddhist working in the medical field, good organizational structures, based on a well-coordinated team with good co-workers and a fair and understanding manager, will be critical for maintaining good care. What current congressional leaders miss is that when Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare is cut, it will be difficult to care for the old if ethical foundations for caring is absent.

Citing my personal ethics, we are called, not only as society, but as a humanity, to treat people with loving kindness. This moral compass means moving from simply understanding medical knowledge to acting in spirit-filled love. The following incident as told by a clinician highlights such purpose.

An elderly woman near 90 was acutely admitted. She did not feel well at all, wanted to have her blood pressure checked and said she felt as though shadows were falling over her. We sat and talked for quite some time and I took my time with her. She said that I was the first person she had met that looked into her eyes.

Unless you’re part of the 4%, any proposed healthcare cuts will offer little but suffering. Most will be presented with hard choices, pay a bill, pay for healthcare or pay for a prescription. At the end of the day, society has to do something better than simply saying, “Die.”

Your vote is important, not only for today and tomorrow, but for 2050 as well.

SatanMinnesota state representative Rep. Jim Knoblach (R) ended his re-election bid after learning Minnesota Public Radio News (MPR) wrote of his daughter’s accusations of inappropriately touching for years.

MPR wrote the case file is detailed, including written transcripts of interviews, copies of old diary entries and handwritten notes, but makes no mention of law enforcement reaching out to Jim Knoblach to be interviewed. The case file reveals Laura Knoblach reached out to various people throughout her life to express concerns about her father’s behavior, including her mother, Janet Knoblach, but apparently received little to no help.

I thought of Ms. Knoblach after listening to current Republican leaders summarily dismiss Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations, and to a larger extent, how the religious community’s wholesale embrace of Republican norms, including those of Donald J Trump, necessitated the rewriting of personal and moral ethics. But the hypocrisy of legislative staff is not limited to Ford alone.

The Wrap’s John Levine noted Pro-Trump CNN political commentator Jason Miller announced he’s “decided to step away” from the network after a recent accusation in a legal filing that he slipped abortion pills to a former lover without her knowledge.

Lastly, the York Daily Record recorded,

“Found within the depths of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on priest sex abuse is a letter written by a former Diocese of Scranton bishop.

A priest raped a girl, got her pregnant, and arranged an abortion, according to the grand jury report. And then-Bishop James C. Timlin wrote a letter expressing his feelings: “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.””

I remember an op-ed by Jennifer Weiner from October 2017. Weiner wrote of Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican who resigned his House seat two days after voting for a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks on the medically dubious grounds that, at that age, a fetus can experience pain.

I was proud both to sponsor and vote for this important bill to clearly stand for the dignity and value of all human life, both the born and the unborn,” Murphy wrote.

Then The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published texts revealing that when Mr. Murphy’s mistress thought she was pregnant, Murphy urged her to consider an abortion.

Sarcastically, Weiner wrote:

“There are a few, rare exceptions that abortion opponents tend to allow to their hard-line rules: rape, incest, life or health of the mother, and “I got my mistress pregnant.

For real life American, it’s become ok to dance with Satan, as long as you’re doing it for God.

You know all those websites claiming Trump has lied 3,000 or so times? No biggie. He’s also pro-life. He’s doing God’s work.

Remember Leviticus 19:33-34? You know the line saying “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.” Fuck that. God now allows us to ‘discern’ which aliens to love. That means Norwegians are in, Mexicans out. After all, white lives matter more than others. Right? Right.

Trump’s closest evangelic adviser, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas told reporters in 2011 that Mormonism is a “cult” and that voting for Romney for president would “give credibility to a cult.” I am sure any one of the Pennsylvanian Archdiocese victims will be comforted by Jeffress. After all, he’s a man of God.

Then there’s Moore … As in former Judge Roy Moore. Moore lent his unsolicited endorsement to the similarly troubled Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Moore came to the nominee’s defense by sharing a supporter’s quip with his 80,000 Facebook followers: “They are Trying to ‘Judge Moore’ Him with Unproven Sex Assault Claim.” Moore, if you recall, is the same Moore who likes to date underage teenagers while simultaneously returning God’s ten commandments to America’s judicial system.

Supporting Kavanaugh is critical. Kavanaugh represents the man from God who can potentially overturn Roe vs. Wade. As such, Kavanaugh supporters dismiss his youthful behavior in a whole range of ways – but not assault. And if true, Kavanaugh’s actions constitute little more than normal adolescent male behavior. Remember, the the columnist from God’s network, (i.e., Fox News) Stephen Miller tweeted, “it was drunk teenagers playing seven minutes of heaven.”

Daniel J. Boorstin, in his piece “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961)” notes.

“We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

Congratulations America. You’re pretty sick.

KingEddie Glaude Jr. made a stunningly insightful comment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. James Baldwin wrote, “... we had to invent the word “nigger” to justify the crime.”

In other words, if we wish to conceal ignorance and the openness of our own prejudice, create a word to cover it. Need to conceal your racism of Hispanics, call them ‘rapists.’ Need to dodge your hate of Muslims, classify them as ‘terrorists.’ Dislike a reporter or news service, call them ‘liars,’ ‘dishonest‘ and ‘fake news.’ Blame a company (Amazon) for congressional leadership inability to lead (US Post Office). Need to demean your predecessor(s), call them ‘cheatin‘ [sic].

Factual support of any claim is secondary or tertiary. No need. Simply represent yourself as the ‘truth, the light, or the way’ just as a famous politician proposed in July 2016 when he asked Americans not to place their trust in God, but him. “I am your voice. I alone can fix this.” And like those on the Exodus, we crafted our golden calf, placed it unto our personal alter and believed that he … alone … could solve our problems.

Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King shared many ideologies. But they both probably share that our current desire for the golden calf is born from hatred not from wisdom. Hatred. Jealousy. Bitterness. A person who suffered much fear, anger and violence comes from such darkness.

As such, this level of darkness lives not in the possible, but from scarcity, “there’s only so much pie to go around, and if you get some there will be less for me“.  This mindset could be viewed as a “scarcity mentality” and is part of the Lose-Win paradigm.

Stephen R. Covey explained in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“: The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life.

“People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production.  They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people – even, and sometimes especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates.  It’s almost as if something is being taken from them when someone else receives special recognition or windfall gain or has remarkable success or achievement.

Although they may verbally express happiness for others’ success, inwardly they are eating their hearts out.  Their sense of worth comes from being compared, and someone else’s success, to some degree, means their failure.  Only so many people can be “A” students; only one person can be “number one”.  To “win” simply means to “beat.”

It’s difficult for people with a scarcity mentality to be members of a complimentary team.  They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty.

Luke 6:38 states “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

I am sure the question Dr. Martin Luther King would ask you to ponder is, which gift will you choose – anger or love? Unfortunately, it appears that 50 years after Dr. King’s death, we’re still embracing the golden calf.

Each of the years spent in the military, I was asked, “Are you ready to die for your country?” Without delay, I would respond “Yes Sir (or Ma’am).”  After each proclamation, I would be provided the tools and training to stay as safe as possible. And maybe I lived in relative naivety, for I never really expected to die or that I would really have to sacrifice my life for another. Yet, there were a few missions that upon return, I changed my underwear and gulped a quick drink.

I look back to these times some thirty-years ago. A half decade of service seemed dramatically different than today. Today, “war zones” are closer and reside in uncommon area rarely seen. Hospitals, work spaces, local ballparks, post offices and schools. By rejecting any gun control efforts, state legislatures are in essence asking the enemies of the past, i.e., out educators, to not only train and educate, but to pay the ultimate sacrifice, as required.

America, we are hypocrites, for we’ve considered teachers as our enemies? You read that right. And I provide one example.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker all but declared war on Wisconsin teachers. In the wake of legislative changes, thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public-sector workers camped out at the Wisconsin Capitol, protesting Walker’s efforts to reduce their take-home pay — by increasing their contribution to their pension plans and health care benefits — and restrict their collective bargaining rights. Walker in essence said, you are the reason we’re (Wisconsin) is broke.

There’s an interesting, strange line at the end of the new film The Big Short, which chronicles the Wall Street doings that caused the economy to crash. In a voiceover near the end of the film, Ryan Gosling tells us that while bigwigs got off without consequences for what they did leading up to the Great Recession, people blame “immigrants, the poor and for the first time, teachers.”

Less than a week after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the Florida State House officially said “fuck you” (2/20/2018) by rejecting a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines. However, lawmakers opened the session with a prayer for the 17 killed. Seventeen people received only a prayer. That’s the legislative equivalent of ‘sucks to be you.’

And the final twist … the US Army is awarding medals for heroism to three students killed in last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Alaina Petty, Peter Wang and Martin Duque, all students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, were also cadets in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program and will receive the Medal of Heroism for their actions in last Wednesday’s shooting. Of course, all the honorees are dead.

Real heroism exists neither in Washington nor in the Florida State House. In today’s world, we ask former enemies to sacrifice their lives for students. In turn, we provide these heroes with nothing but a few days of training. We exhibit a profound lack of leadership to their needs, pay them like shit, and blame them for our lot in life. And yet … and yet … when bullets fly, they willing place themselves between students and assassin.

If you want to honor the ‘agape love‘ Christ and Buddha professed, go to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victim funerals and honor them, their families and their lives.

Unfortunately, Americans prefer guns over teachers. Thus, our real enemy is ignorance and indifference.

%d bloggers like this: