Someone once asked what caused me to dedicate myself to encouraging and inspiring others to be the best they can be. I had to think about that question for a day or so before I was able to land on a reply that felt grounded in truth. The answer takes a little biblical analysis and some personal history to understand.
In describing the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob, Genesis 25:25 states: “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau.” In Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, it teaches that Esau was “red all over” because he was filled with the desire for blood and all things material. In fact, Esau grew up to sell his birthright as the firstborn (he was the firstborn of the twins) to his brother in exchange for a bowl of soup following an act of murder.
We always have choice. This is the blessing of Free Will. Esau, too, had a choice. Kabbalah goes on to teach that with his lust for blood, Esau could have grown up to become, for example, a butcher thereby satisfying his lust. Instead, he grew to become a murderer.
My personal story is this. Growing up, my sister always told me I was a selfish person. Perhaps I was whether I had reason to be or not. But if that was my nature, I too had choice as to how I was going to live out that nature. At some point in my life, I realized that what gave me the most satisfaction was not acquiring material possessions or making money but rather when I helped someone believe in their highest potential, supported them in moving one step closer to their heart’s desire or came to the aid of an injured animal.
So, my choice was simple once I had the realization. I could either spend my life satisfying only myself in pursuit of outward goals that society said brought happiness, or I could spend it helping people and animals to have their best life. Both ways would have been consistent with my nature. The only difference was the level or frequency of how I would actualize my self-satisfaction.
As we approach mid-term elections and the 2016 Presidential election that follows, Republicans will tell you to vote Republican to save the Nation from Democratic policies and control. Democrats will implore you to vote Democrat to save us from disaster should Republicans take the Senate. Libertarians will implore you to vote Libertarian to rescue us from governmental encroachment upon our civil liberties. Green Party advocates will implore you to vote Green to save the planet. In 2016, as in 2008, we will be inundated with new versions of hope and change.
But as with Esau and me, there is only our nature and understanding how to use it to the highest good that real change ever occurs. There are no political solutions to what ails us. There is no “change of the guard” that will alter our future. Only a change in the heart of each of us will bring about the world of peace we all so desperately desire.
Butcher or Murderer?
Self-gratifier or Giver?
Warrior or Peacemaker?
Free Will. You get to decide.
The stress an individual is subjected to is directly proportional to the power and responsibility of the position they hold. Leadership, whether in the public or private sectors, is the prime example. No one would dispute that the leader of the nation perceived to be at the apex of standards for the Western world, and beyond, would carry the burden of an almost insurmountable about of stress. So, the need to have outlets to alleviate that stress is logical and understandable in order to do the job rationally and judiciously.
None of which remotely explain, or justify, President Obama’s pattern of excessive, public frolicking while the economy remains stagnant, the border is breached, genocide rages abroad, an ally fights for its existence, and Russia and China make pacts with one another toward an end game of replacing the U.S. dollar as the global monetary standard.
President Obama is either 1) one chip short of the ability to feel compassion and empathy; 2) so egoistical and hedonistic that self-satisfaction is the only lens through which he is capable of perceiving reality, or 3) doesn’t give a damn because chaos was, and remains, his primary goal.
Personally, I don’t give a damn which of the three is his motivating principle. They are equally reprehensible. The hubris and indifference with which he “fiddles while Rome burns” gains him membership in the unenviable club of men and women throughout history who disregarded the interest of the people they served in their personal quests to self-gratification. Hindsight being 20/20, history memorializes those individuals as pariahs upon humanity and treats the accordingly.
Such will be the case with our current President. He and his wife have betrayed the trust given them by the American people as well as their own deceptive promises to bring about a new and improved Nation.
What they have wrought with arrogance, and a continual disregard for the best interest of the Nation, is not hope and change but despair and decline. While history will judge them rightly and accordingly, we must continue to believe that as Americans, we can and will survive this most abhorrent deviation from who were designed and still aspire to be.
I tried to commit suicide at age 24 and came frighteningly close to succeeding…if success is ever the right word to use in such situations. As such, I have a lot to say about Robin Williams, not because I knew him but because I know exactly how he was thinking and feeling when he made the decision to try.
I would first say to those who would second guess his motives, his financial situation or his degree of “selfishness” as I have heard it referred to: DON’T… unless, of course, you’ve been to the point of consciously, albeit irrationally, trying to die by your own hand.
It’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, it’s not about the lack or excess of anything other than feeling. It’s about feeling too much in a world that does not have enough love or compassion. It’s about living a lie and becoming the comic, the drama queen, the rebel, the alcoholic, or the workaholic in order to harden you sufficiently to withstand all the insensitivity, separation and denial.
I’m not a big proponent of medicating depression. In fact, I was coming off of anti-depressants when I used those same pills to try to kill myself. And, while one of the first thoughts I recall having upon surviving the attempt was what hell I had put my family through, it never entered my mind at the moment I made the decision. You see, when the pain gets bad enough and the fog gets thick enough, the realization that you have finally figured out a way to stop the suffering seems like a relief and that single realization takes precedent over anything resembling rational thought.
When a person tries to commit suicide, they don’t really want to die. They’ve just misplaced hope. Hope that things can and will change. Hope that the pain will ease. Hope that the fog will lift. Hope that they will ever feel joy again. Hope that on balance, life is actually worth living through all its trials and tribulations. Hope that tomorrow, or even an hour from now, it will be possible to give and receive love again. Which is why everyone, not just people who are depressed, should sit up and pay attention to what Robin Williams was driven to do.
We are living in a world overwhelming us with so much negativity that we are losing hope. You see it in the growing apathy. Apathy unchecked leads to hopelessness. Where is the outrage and help for innocents beheaded or buried alive? Where is the outrage, and help, for the Iraqi’s stranded on a mountain top? Where is the outrage and help for children being used as sex slaves and pawns in a political game? Where is the outrage for female genital mutilation as a “religious” practice? Where is the outrage for corrupt, lying, greedy politicians who prosper at our expense and our decline? Where is the outrage at what’s happening on our border? Where is the outrage at what we do to animals every minute of every day in the name of science? Where is the outrage at the manipulation of our economy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many?
I know. I know. You are tired. You are overwhelmed. You feel powerless. You are dancing as fast as you can dance. So was Robin Williams. That’s the cautionary tale he bequeaths us.
His most important message and he brought us many through his seemingly endless creativity, is that having to feel less, or dying, is not the answer. The message of immediate importance is for each one of us to finally embark upon creating a world where kindness, cooperation, compassion and love are the norm not the aberration.
A world where feeling too much will only get you more joy.
I have long lived by the certainty that everything is energy. This includes money which, by logical extension of thought, includes the economy. The evolution and advancement of humanity has always been tied to its understanding, harnessing and application of energy. Since human nature, in its lower form, contains elements of both selfishness and greed, there are those who throughout time have sought to understand, harness and apply to their sole benefit, the production and distribution of money for the purpose of concentrating power among the few.
What we witness Hamas inflicting in Gaza, and what occurs throughout the radical Islamic controlled regions of the world, is a combination of physical and psychological enslavement. Through terror, brute force and total disregard for quality of life (or life itself) such “leadership” profits and prospers while sacrificing the very people it claims to be representing.
We in the West should not be quick to judge how the Palestinian population could allow and participate in such a diabolical arrangement as we in the United States are living in an “economic glass house.” Instead of physical and psychological enslavement we in the West have been blindly cooperating in our own financial and psychological enslavement.
By way of understanding and controlling the means of production, distribution and regulation of the energy of money, and the mind-altering control of the means of dissemination of information by media…elites and power brokers in this country have enslaved us as surely as those in countries we condemn for lacking humanitarian policies. The only difference is the subtlety and masking of true intent as executed in the West. While Islamists use kidnapping and torture as their weapons of choice, the U.S. government and global power brokers use the Federal Reserve, the World Bank and social engineering as theirs.
What humanity must do, and do in a hurry before escape (freedom) is no longer a viable option, is to plunge the stake of truth into the heart of the beast of enslavement that has been sucking our life’s blood from us for at least the last 100 years. We can do this by awakening to the truth of what’s happening and taking a lesson from the ancient Israelites who were economically and psychologically enslaved to Pharaoh: they opted out in a hurry.
We too, must now hurry to opt out of a corrupt and diabolical system that manipulates us through the illusions of “lack and fear” and which have caused us to become indebted and addicted to a fiction that “more and faster” is better.
You must opt out of the lie that you are only one person who has no ability to know what is happening to you and lack a voice to articulate that knowing.You must opt out of fear and all its progeny…victimization, depression, frustration, impotence, rage, violence, and hate.
Step into who you are. Step into your connection with all that is good and true. Step into the memory of what freedom feels like and reclaim your birthright.
Slow down. Self-source. Have courage. You have the answer and you know the way out.
We are living in extraordinary times. There isn’t anyone I know who does not feel the profound upheaval and changes we are experiencing both globally and personally. One of the awakenings taking place is the realization that we are free to see, and therefore create, a world of our choosing. We need not be enslaved any longer to someone else’s reality or to the perspective fed us daily by a variety of media outlets and politicians.
Which leads me to write about “compassionate war.” I realize the phrase itself seems like an oxymoron. How can you have something as violent and destructive as war and see it in terms of compassion? The answer lies in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.
My focus is not the politics of the conflict nor is it the terrorist designation of Hamas. It’s about Israel and the manner in which it has chosen to prepare for and proceed with this inevitable clash.
In two weeks of fighting, Israel has agreed unilaterally to 4 separate halts in the armed fighting. Two of those were humanitarian requests, one by Hamas itself, which Israel honored and Hamas did not. Israel literally built a hospital at one of the border-crossing check-points to treat any wounded Palestinians who would need treatment. No one has showed up. Israel offered and readied millions of shekels, (Israeli currency is 3.5 :1 as against the US dollar) so at least one million dollars, of medical supplies and equipment to deliver to Gaza but the Palestinian Authority rejected the offer.
Israel has spent millions of dollars building bomb shelters throughout Israel and in these past two weeks, 75% of its population has had to use them. In Gaza, tens of thousands of tons of cement and building supplies intended for schools, office buildings and homes were diverted by Hamas over the past five years to burrow and build elaborate tunnels underground from Gaza to Israel to be used in a mass terror attack scheduled for this coming September 25th, the first night of the Jewish New Year.
Perhaps most astonishingly, Israel has done what no other nation in the history of the world has done. It gives advance warning to Gaza’s citizens where and when they will strike. By way of leaflets dropped by the Israeli Air Force, cell phone text messages and twitter postings, Israel gives the Palestinians every opportunity to flee a known missile launch site before striking. Hamas has deliberately positioned those sites in homes, schools, graveyards, and mosques while ordering Palestinian men, women and children to remain where they are despite certainty of injury or death.
Just today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any lasting truce will require 1) the “demilitarization of Gaza and social and economic relief for the Palestinian people there.” Even in the midst of war, the Israeli’s are looking out for the well-being of their adversary.
All civilized people who revere life want a world without war. However, as long as there remain uncivilized people who glorify violence and death there will be a need for defensive action.
In the Torah, the Old Testament, it talks about the nation of Israel being a “light unto the Nations.” I think it is fair to say that in a defensive war thrust upon it, Israel has and continues to act in ways that exemplify how even in the darkest of times, honorable men and women can shine a light upon their humanity and reflect for the world our connectedness to one another.
Compassion and reality are not mutually exclusive. Although, when examining the U.S. government’s response to the current invasion by illegal aliens and the world’s response to the current war between Israel and Hamas one can only wonder.
As a lawyer, there’s a saying I’ve always liked: “Facts are pesky things.” They demand acknowledgement and, in the absence of opposing facts, stand as legal truth. We have some border facts confronting us so let’s give them their due:
1. The U.S. Border is the line of demarcation for identifying those legally residing within its parameters (U.S. citizens) and those living outside those parameters (foreigners).
2. The Constitution of the United States leaves room for interpretation as to who is obligated to enforce the U.S. borders (the Executive branch or the States) but it’s undisputed that it’s one, the other, or both.
3. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) sets forth the legal requirement and process for entering the United States and subsequently obtaining citizenship.
4. With limited and narrowly defined exceptions, people entering the country in violation of the INA commit a crime.
5. The Presidential Oath of Office is explicitly clear that it is the obligation of the President of the United States to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
6. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 created two territories: a homeland for the Jewish People (Israel) and Palestine.
7. Every Arab nation rejected the establishment of the Arab state and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli state.
8. In 1948, following war between the Arabs and the Jews, the State of Israel formally came into existence
9. Arab nations and Islamic terror groups have been the aggressors and waged repeated wars and terrorist attacks on Israel and its citizens since 1948.
10. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel was attacked by surprise by 6 Arab nations, prevailed in that war, and subsequently returned to Egypt over 26,000 square miles of territory Israel captured in return for peace with Egypt.
11. Israel subsequently relinquished all sovereignty over the Gaza strip to Palestinians.
12. Arabs and Islamic terrorists have been continuously attacking Israel on a daily basis from both the Sinai and Gaza.
13. Children do not wage war of their own accord nor do they willingly violate borders and should not be used as pawns to further a political agenda.
Let’s temporarily feed, clothe and provide emergency medical attention to the tens of thousands of illegal foreign children crossing the U.S. border. Then as quickly as possibly send them back to their countries of origin.
Israel has a right to defend itself while protecting and maintaining its legal borders. In 1967, then Israeli Prime Minister Gold Meir said, “There will be peace in the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”
Compassion and reality are not mutually exclusive.
Yesterday, in efforts to retain his status as the Republican Party’s candidate for re-election, Senator Thad Cochran furthered the cause of stripping away the veil of illusion that obscures the extent to which our political class is corrupted and broken. We owe him a debt of gratitude for exemplifying the worst of what political junkies are capable of in their hunger to retain power.
Dismissing, without the slightest thought, the values and principles most Americans hope to find in their elected representatives, the Republican Establishment (read as Mitch McConnell, Haley Barbour, Orin Hatch, et al) pooled its resources to use race baiting and fear mongering to crush the candidacy of a decent, principled Conservative of their own party in favor of retaining a 77-year-old-obviously-senile-incompetent-42-year-member-of-Congress.
The challenger, Chris McDaniel, is an attorney, conservative commentator, and Republican politician in the Mississippi Senate since 2008. Yesterday, McDaniel actually received 25,000 more Republican votes than Cochran. However, because the Republican Establishment, via false advertising and fear-based robo-calling, mobilized 35,000 African American Democrats to cross over and vote Republican…their deceitful and manipulative methods resulted in a 4000+ vote win for Cochran.
I listened to many callers to conservative talk radio today. The general consensus is outrage and disgust. The good news is that anger and outrage, once transformed into righteous indignation, can be a force for good.
That is now our challenge.
While it would be easy to remain enraged, as so many are, at the Republican party’s lack of ethics and arrogance bordering on criminality…rage will not get us where we need to go. We need to awaken to what was done in Mississippi and commit to not allowing such tactics to prevail elsewhere. We need to become educated, vocal and determined citizens in order to weed out the liars, crooks and manipulators within both parties by remembering not only Mississippi but also that there are more of us than there are of them
Our Founders, both John Adams and George Washington, knew the two party system would become corrupted and fail. But they also knew We The People would be here to do the heavy lifting and willingly pay the price that sustaining liberty requires.
The moment has arrived. Liberty is at risk. Now is the time. Ours is the price. We pay it now or lose everything worth having.
The American spirit at its best is unfettered optimism. Our belief in the ability to accomplish a goal despite all odds is why so many people from around the globe want to be Americans. But optimism, in excess, can also be a detriment. Absent any basis in reality or fact, optimism deteriorates into mindlessness.
In 2008, the nation was captivated by the emergence of a well-educated articulate, seemingly bright, charismatic, civic-minded African-American candidate for President. Our national optimism propelled a majority of us to rally behind his candidacy as he represented the culmination of decades of optimism that we would one day rise above the superficiality of race and see a person based upon the content of his or her character.
We erred by allowing our optimism to negate our discernment. We raced past logical review and analysis of the candidate’s background, achievements, and philosophical underpinnings to embrace his bumper sticker. We were content with a promise because we are, after all, Americans and doesn’t every American want what is best for the country? Apparently not.
The Presidential election of 2016 portends a similar fate unless we temper our wishes with our intellect. Hillary Clinton remains the Democrat front-runner should she make a formal announcement to enter the race. Hillary has likely been promised that position should she desire it. While I don’t yet know her slogan, we need to see past the prospect of the “first female President” and face the truth of Hillary’s career and her condition.
Hillary Clinton failed at passing socialized medicine but got it anyway to what we now know to be the Nation’s harm. She worked for the Children’s Defense Fund advocating children’s rights but represented an admitted child rapist and bragged at her success in getting him off “for time served” due to an evidentiary error…not to mention her laughing at the rapist having “beaten” a lie detector test. Hillary disparaged the women her husband sexually harassed, fondled, or had sex with rather than condemn his behavior. She failed to adequately protect and defend our Embassy in Benghazi and it now seems she knew the President was lying when he blamed a video for the attack then stood by that lie as she had stood by her husband’s immorality.
And Hillary is not healthy. She has fallen, had blood clots, arrhythmia, and who knows what else. Lately, she has made statements about she and her husband’s financial status that draw into question either her version of reality or her values system.
How does that saying go? “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.” Let us not be so eager to follow the first black President with the first female President that we once again throw caution to the wind and see not what is in front of us but rather what’s being sold to us.
Steve Clark (my co-host on Above The Fray Podcast) and I post independently of one another. I get to read his blogs the same way you do which is when they’re published. Yesterday, when I read his post titled “We’re All Drug Addicts” I knew I had to write my own thoughts on a topic about which I have first-hand knowledge. In fact, when Heath Ledger overdosed, I was contacted by several media outlets to weigh in on the subjects of addiction, suicide and drug overdose. (A fully developed interview of me following Ledger’s death can be listened to here.)
Anti-depressants are proven to lead to and/or increase incidents of suicidal thinking. In my twenties I battled depression and anxiety. A physician put me on anti-depressants and tranquilizers to combat the condition. When I realized I was addicted to the medications I decided to stop taking them. Shortly thereafter, I tried to commit suicide and came very close to succeeding. It was a turning point in my life as it awakened me to the realization that I had to either do it again and succeed or begin to live my life differently. I choose the latter.
It is now decades later and I live a joyful and rewarding life. In no small part it’s due to a different addiction. I mediate daily. Your reaction may be “Well, that’s stretching it a bit since mediation is hardly an addiction.”
But it is.
I need to meditate every day. I’m at a loss when I don’t get my “fix” of that meditative state. Without those feelings of peace, joy, calm and clarity that I receive from meditation I feel tense, discontent, frazzled and off my game. So you see, I am addicted. But I’ve also consciously chosen my addiction because it enhances rather than diminishes the quality of my life.
The point is that it may just be human nature to be addicted. Some choose alcohol, drugs, pornography, chocolate, gambling, serial adultery, masturbation, twitter, clothes shopping…whatever. Regardless, we humans have Free Will and so get to choose that to which we are addicted.
For me, the contrast is no contest. On drugs, I was sedated, slow of thought and harming vital organs with unnecessary and toxic side effects. On meditation, I am sharp of mind, peaceful of spirit, accepting of life and creative of soul.
So to paraphrase Steve, if we’re all addicted remember: You get to choose to what.
It’s certainly easy to become frustrated, angered, even enraged at national and global events. Terrorists are summarily released from Guantanamo to inevitably return to their pursuit of our destruction; original IRS files under investigation, allegedly lacking any archived copies, suddenly disappear and the hard drive that housed them is destroyed; literally thousands of illegal immigrants pour across our southern border daily while the Federal government, charged with our protection, stands by idle and silent; the most radical of radical Islamic terrorists murderously and savagely tear their way through Iraq seizing cities and imposing Sharia Law as they go, negating the efforts we made and the lives we sacrificed to bring that nation a chance for freedom; food and energy prices soar upward while we are told there is no inflation and one hundred million, one third of our population, are unemployed.
Overwhelmed people feel victimized and are susceptible to manipulation by anyone promising an end to their frustrations. Enraged people are reactive, fail to reason and consequently, think before they act. Neither false prophets nor indiscriminate actions can serve us now.
What’s needed is very simple, if not necessarily easy:
1. Pull back to your most basic and immediate needs and environment.
2. Ask yourself, “How will gratuitous anger serve me?
3. Ask yourself,” What can I do to simplify my life and reduce stress?”
4. Reach out to neighbors, friends or colleagues to establish a community of support for one another.
5. Commit to not allowing yourself to be seduced into blame, violence or hatred of others.
6. Identify and stand firm in your core beliefs regardless of their political correctness…so long as those beliefs are not at the expense of another.
7. Hold fast to faith in humankind’s awakening to the realization that united we stand and divided we fall as All are One.
8. Allow truth to emerge from within you rather than allow an agenda to be imposed upon you.
Every historical period has its challenges. This one is no exception. What causes pain and suffering is not change. It’s our resistance to change. The world is changing in rapid and profound ways. Old patterns of behavior and correction will not work. When we switched from horse and buggy to the combustion engine, you could not fuel that engine with oats…although those oats worked just fine under the old system.
Rather than judge who did what and how we got here, let’s use our intellects, our hearts, and our individual uniqueness to co-create solutions. The dawn of a new day brings the opportunity to either repeat yesterday or live today anew.
Free Will. You get to choose.