Saturday, December 24, 2011

Enlightened Moments

I thought this was a strange picture when I took it earlier this year.  It wasn't how the skies appeared to my eyes, and I hadn't put any sort of setting to the camera, but this is the image the camera caught.  Our senses and experiences is how we form our reality, and who is to say who is correct?  Was the camera correct or were my eyes?  Were we both? 

It has been that way for many people throughout the ages as people have tried to make sense of the powers that seem to keep the people at their mercy or is it that the powers that are, are at the mercy of the people?  The problems seem to stem from having to have someone 'in charge'.  This could be on many levels.  We, as people, continuously trust others (not that trust is a bad quality, far from that, it is a needed quality), to take charge of almost every aspect of our lives.  I, myself, have had to learn how to trust all over again.  Yes, I might get hurt.  Yet, I have decided that it is not in my best interest to hurt others. 

Do I still trust my eyes?  To their ability, with help, at times I do and don't.  Do I trust my camera?  At times I wonder if my tools are at fault or if it is a user or if there are happy mistakes I discover along the way. 

So what is the point of anything that I am trying to communicate...right now. 

I am finding that within myself, I wonder why I am going through the various experiences I am having, and realizing something crucial.  Experiences are not necessarily universal.  We pre-judge (prejudices) people all of the time for various reasons.  We either believe what other people (including media) say or we just get brave enough to love people.  Yes, brave. 

Though I could personally feel a certain way about someone or some issue, it's not going to be true for all.  The 'you all' phrase comes to mind, when I have listened to people blurt out their stereotypes, 'Don't they know where they are at; they need to speak the language.'  The anger of a person that observes others who choose not to conform to a group was blazing.

I had a differing view.  That person had no choice but to be as they were.  Having traveled in very diverse places, I learned long ago, to respect the host nation and also the balance of just being myself.  I was a walking taboo in many countries, a woman, divorced, traveling alone and was not trying to emulate the countries.  I had enough to learn within myself.  Trying to be someone who I am not is far from the type of person I want to be.  If I ran into hostility, which I never recalled, but I could only walk in graciousness.

I had also thought about my great-grandparents, who could not speak a word of English.  They survived by running a small Methodist parish in Northern Minnesota.  They weren't persecuted because they didn't speak English.  They had no desire to be anyone else.  They were who they were, as it should be.

Often, we forget our own origins and place our expectations on others to simply conform.  This world is a lot bigger than we are.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I have been having a lot of strange dreams, encounters, unrelated events that seem to weave into abstracts.  That has been my life.  I have accepted it.  The theme has been belief.  I have hated the word.  I have always seen the lie in the word.  I have been angered by the word.  Believe is a word I have extremely hated.  I have seen beliefs used against people, and I think that has stirred so much anger within me that I have been blinded by the power of my hatred and blinded to the power of what belief means...the real meaning of belief and that is faith. 

There are many in the arts community that hate the religions people follow, because they see the manipulation of these people.  Often, labels are thrown on people, "blind, delusional, weak...etc."  The negative is that they see that this belief often is used against them, in order to empty them of their resources.  Little old pensioners who sign away their estates to a mega-church that gave them love, when their families abandoned them.  Perhaps a belief, that would buy their way into a life beyond the mortal one. 

That is the abuse, a sample of it, that I have totally hated.

I had a strange dream last night.  A dream about belief.  I would not call it a religious dream, a conversion dream, but there were religious symbols in it.  See, I am an odd one, an odd character that screams in conspiracy with the universe because I laugh when I see the magic of it, but I am careful to profess no belief.  So, as I share this dream, I guess I am inviting you into the spectacle that is my mind.  An invitation to, gasp, believe.

In this dream, an odd collection of imaginary monstrosities were figuratively chasing me.  Some of them were vampiric blood sucking bankers.  In order to vanquish them, a sign of the cross was placed on their forehead when they were pinned down to the ground.  I wasn't afraid of them, but I had no belief in the symbol.  So the beastly creature was still there.  Fangs and all, it laughed at me..." don't believe."  I was furious. 

Strange dream.  Strange perspective.  There are times for belief.  There are times for faith.  I sat there contemplating this dream, and flipped on the non-thinking box, to not think about dreams...and caught a portion of the movie "Polar Express".  There were children that didn't believe in the North Pole, or Santa on a dream train of sorts to the North Pole.  Let me not bore you with the retelling, but cut to a character that couldn't hear the music, the sleigh bells or even see Santa until he whispered two words, "I believe." 

Do I laugh?  Absolutely at this point, I have to.  A dream about belief.  I flip on the Television...and belief is the theme.  There was a line about the 'unseen being more real than what is visible.' that caught my ears. 

I could blame all of this on my battles with semantics.  The one thing to understand about have to know where you are.  You have to know where you are going.  You have to BE where you are at.  Those are the anchors.  Are you at the mercy of what you believe?  This is where it gets dicey, because there really isn't anything that is concrete. 

So, this is where love has to take over.  Knowing is really not knowing.  That is how come faith or BELIEF...and I am not talking about anything religious here...but that unknown substance called faith in seeing the whole picture come together...the magic of a unified purpose, really is magic. 

Believe.  Instead of having the stink-eye of seeing the embedded lie, I kind of got it.  By the way, this picture I happened to snap just thinking it was interesting...and somehow there was just something more.  There still is love.  There still is faith.  There is no result without the action in the perfect time. 

Just listen for the thunder.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What dreams may come...

Nothing is impossible, you just have to know what you really are asking for. 

I had written a very long entry for this blog, as I selected to publish, it mysteriously was censored.  It didn't exist.  I laughed because I remembered an important phrase a friend once shared with me.  "Some of the best art in the world is just lost on the world."  It remains in the dark, hidden from view.

This picture, from March 2008, is my reminder of how to jump off of the high dive, even if you don't know how to swim that well.  It's the thrill of doing it, even when others can do it better than you can.  The splash is what we all live for.  That thrill of just being alive.  It's that action in spite of fear.  That quality of courage that so many lost by growing up. 

So I am getting ready for another adventure because I don't want to miss a single second of this life.  I remember how much I just love people and no, I don't want nor need all of the answers anymore.  There is nothing more irksome to others who think they can solve your life, when they don't have the answers for their own.  I don't always love what we do to each other, but I want to see the best I possibly can see.  Through our fears and tears...the greatest desire people have, is to be known.  Love is just the action of what we all can choose to do.  Love is the action we choose to give. 

Life is the smile we can't live without.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cover Those Breasts, It's Minnesota!

I had a friend that used to say to me, "You find the strangest people".  I think that is why I photograph so many things, because the stories I tell, are the ordinary happenings in my life.  Ordinary to most, extraordinary to me, because I notice the story.  Now, you might be wondering why I would post this picture of a white man, with a yellow sign that reads, "cover your breasts".  You have to consider what state I am in, Minnesota, during a time of year that is kind of brisk.  As a matter of fact, we just had our first dusting of snow.

And during these conditions a white man, during the chill of autumn felt the stirring need to protest the sight of breasts, not just one, all of them.  To be fair, I would have stood with him, if he were to ask men, to cover their man-boobs, but he spoke.  It's November, and in America many do things to raise awareness for breast cancer, or is that in October?  It's one of the ...ber months, but no, Bible quotes were flowing and I was wondering how this was making anyone feel good?

And in that moment I started to laugh at what was unfolding in front of me.  A white man, telling a large buxom black woman to cover her breasts in the chill of autumn.  And the preaching marathon began and the fingers points, necks wagging and hips shaking like a rack of lamb got loose.  In other words, complete agitation of this woman who set to unleash holy hell upon a white man, wearing the yellow day-glo sign that became a bulls-eye for my camera.

How often do we go around telling everyone how the world should be, in accordance with our myopic view?  What we do to each other in the name of thinking we are right is quite possibly more offensive than silence.  We strip away our freedom to simply be.  If we are offended, then we might want to ask ourselves a bigger question, why is our skin so thin that the mere appearance of another bothers us so much?  Even if it is nearly winter, yes, dear sir, there will be breasts under those coats and a penis in your pants.

Aren't we all are naked under our clothes?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Real it happens

As I began this day, I had thought of my mother, who 10 years ago this month told me she was dying.  I didn't believe her.  More accurately, I had refused to believe that her body was capable of dying.  As I sat outside,
I reflected on how well people know pain and how very few of us know real happiness.  It's as if we are afraid to give ourselves permission to do so.  It's unknown and foreign to us and often, when we do have happiness come, we test it or destroy it because it is unfamiliar.  It's pain that people identify themselves with.  It's human suffering that the world knows.  It's peace we seem to run away from.

As I boarded the bus to see the remaining shows of the Arab Film Festival I have been attending this weekend, I thought of all of the stories I was to see.  A little further down the route, a young man boarded and stood at the front of the bus.  He was trying to talk to the bus driver and I couldn't help but overhear him, "I love my mother.  Man, you don't get it, I love my mother and I wish she was still here."  He opened a plastic bag and pulled out a gift.  A large black box with a big red bow.  "I bought this for her.  I will never forget her." He raised his voice for the whole bus to hear.  I watched the nervous look of the passengers and the bus driver seemed to fail to acknowledge this young man.  "I love my mother. I love my mother. She died three years ago today.  I will never forget."  He shoved the gift back into the plastic bag and exited the bus.  The silence and uncomfortable exchanges were made as people shifted in their seats.  I sat and stared.  I heard his pain.  His physical gift was how he showed love and he felt the need to declare it in front of the immovable strangers.  I heard his pain as an echo of all of the pain we go through in life.  The varying levels of suffering we have been accustomed to.  The eventual loss of those who come into our lives.  In the movie, "If Fog Had Roots", which is a film that I viewed as emotion without a story, there was a very memorable line about death.  "Death only happens to those who are left behind." 

I decided to write a poem today.  It took all of 5 minutes.

Don't Let Me

Don't let me think for you
even though I share my thoughts
Don't let me feel for you
even though I share my feelings
Don't let me act for you
though I illustrate my life through my actions
Don't let me live for you
I have to live my own life

My life is my own
My loves are my own
My feelings are my own

I had my own stories to write
You have your own

Even though there will be a day that comes when my life 
will leave you with the sting of my death
Don't let me keep you from living yours
Don't feel that when I am gone
That you cannot go on
Don't say that I can't
Instead, say you will
because I did and many others have too

Let me help you

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finding Gaza in Minneapolis

Gaza Shield

 Do you ever just find things, people and events?  I found an event sponsored by the only Arab American Arts organization in the United States by chance.  I hadn't seen one flyer, ad or commercial.   The information came to me in the guise of my bodily hunger when I stopped at a place called Yafa, noted for their slogan, "Best Gyro in Town".  The owner personally tended to my request, and asked if I had just come from the Heights Theater.  He seemed so disappointed at my negative response and handed me a brochure.  "You really should go, it's only a few blocks down."
A small restored theater that I had noticed during my daily commute, that seemed to show a string of message movies that would catch my eye.  Today it had my undivided attention, as it will this weekend.  I looked at the red theater, recalling that in the past it showed dollar movies when I was a kid.  Seeing it restored to its past glory caught my attention, because I had never seen it look so beautiful.  The theater is the place of stories.  This story of Gaza, is one that is told to Americans in parcels of programming when you listen to our media, politicians and churches.  It is seldom told through those who are experiencing the real conditions that the people are enduring in only 350 square kilometers.  People who have only wished to have their homes, families and lands restored.

Though I saw Gaza-Strophe Palestine and Hawi, both highly recommended and rarely viewed in this nation, only seen through events, such as this; I wanted to address the importance of this small 18 minute film called Gaza Shield and what it represents.  The power to do something positive with limited resources.  Three friends with a small gaming company put aside all of their income generating projects to create a game with an objective to save Palestinian children from being bombed.  A tool, as the creators envisioned, to give a voice to the powerless to be able to do something.  While you might not see how this might not be so important, this was actually a response to a game that actually encouraged the killing and virtual funding of war efforts called Raid Gaza.  The objective is simply to destroy the resources and people of the Gaza strip.  It's the conditioning of 'it's just a game' used for violent means for military members to be desensitized to the horrors of war.  The term war, I would use loosely, since there is no resistance force that is unified enough to stand against Israel and the massive funding they receive from her strongest ally, America.

I spoke with Tania Khalaf, the filmmaker and David Lee Hamilton, the editor after the viewing because I wanted to thank them for showing one simple thing, it had not mattered what tools they had, but they had the willingness to use what they had to respond.  To tell the story, to not be silent, but from right where they were at, they were able to do something more powerful than to fire a single weapon.  They told us in order so that all of us can make a difference, a ripple in someone's life.  To pass on the knowledge that yes, there are good people that exist and have opened their own eyes to see what really matters in this world.

I also saw this small film as a mandate to not ignore the pain and suffering of others.  This is our generation's holocaust.  It is also our opportunity for one of two paths.  An opportunity towards global peace by realizing the complete insanity of war or it will be a path of total global destruction because we can't cure ourselves of a hatred that never ceases.  The art of agreement comes when we realize that we have the capacity to be the person we have desired to be our entire lives, but felt incapable of being.  Only you can continue to accept the way things are.  You don't need violence to make a change or to send a message.

There were many moments of complete silence I observed tonight, throughout the showings.  It was the complete silence of the shared moment as people heard and witnessed the suffering of others.  As we view many of the protests around the world over money and austerity measures, the people of Palestine are hoping not to have their homes bombed, hoping not to be run over by tanks and hoping that there are still good people in the world.  Let us honor their hope.  Let us demand that murder ceases being done in our name.
Tania Khalaf (center) and David Lee Hamilton
Now that we know, we are no longer innocent parties.  We know.  Now that we know, we  must be the change that we desire to see in the world.  "Addicted to holding my tears when grieving the most.", was a line that struck me from the movie, Hawi.  That seems to apply right at this moment.  I continue to be too horrified to cry because I want my eyes to see as clearly as they can without input from a church doctrine, a political party or any other entity of systematic control.

What can we all be inspired to do with the tools we do have?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Same Place, Different Time

Catching a vision for life was the focus of my day.  In a strange sequence of events (for me, it seems that strange is my new normal),  I found myself being forced to wait and think about my desires.  I won't kill you with my rambling words from my original draft where I hunt down a thought and then beat it to a bloody pulp once I capture it.  I will say though, I thought about what a man named, Brooks, who is near 60 shared with me, "There are two types of people in this world.  Those that sell their bodies and those that use their minds."  Having a job is selling your body, using your mind, is knowing people and building relationships that are in agreement to produce a desired outcome.  Now, this doesn't really seem so profound, but the thoughts that followed led me to go out for a day with just myself.  I felt drawn to see places where I used to go and to reflect on the passage of 23 years to see the changes that have happened here in my hometown and to share glimpses of my home.  I think it was the first time I had felt like and acted like a tourist in my own city.  I took out my camera and became the observer.

In looking at the here and now, I am fortunate to be here.  Minneapolis is a beautiful city, kind, and in different ways, it's thriving.  I shot pictures of places I looked at growing up.  I noticed places that had changed, the cityscape had been altered and retouched.  Once place I was drawn to was the State Theater.  In my youth, it was my church, the former Jesus People's Church, where ironically I had performed with their youth group.  I had been on that very stage for our congregation.  Over 23 years ago, I watched that church fall under its own weight of multiple scandals that included embezzlement, sexual affairs, and statutory rape.  I don't know why I stayed as long as I did, almost to the point of the actual doors finally closing.  It seemed like as I became an adult, I saw my innocence die with my church.  I choose to think that it was my ignorance instead of my innocence, but that may be wishful thinking. I saw the conflict of teaching and the reality of living life. 

Today, as I looked at the State Theater, and see the image of 'La Cage Aux Folles', I remembered a night that changed my life.  It was on Hennepin Avenue, at this very spot I had made my first openly gay friend.  At the time he was suicidal over his orientation and had been openly condemned by a youth pastor.  I found him crying, and instead of walking away, we walked up and down Hennepin Avenue together, holding hands as I listened to his confessions.  It was the first time in my life where I began to realize that the practice of condemning people, or more accurately, hating people, was anything but 'Christian'.  I didn't talk him out of suicide.  I listened. He was the one that chose life. Too often people think they have to save people or change people when we don't possess that kind of power or control over others. All I did was to just accept him as he was.  I chose love over judgement, even though my belief 'system' conflicted. 

It's 23 years later and the State Theater's marquee was a reminder that change is very much a part of life and that sometimes all you really need to do for someone else is just accept them as they are.  Love always wins, though not always in the way that you might think. Maybe that is why I smile so much, after all, it's the best way to take on the world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Believe A Liar - The Lying Trust

"When you are at one with loss,
The loss is experienced willingly.
He who does not trust enough
Will not be trusted."--23rd Verse Tao

George Orwell's famous quote about truth being a revolutionary act in times of universal deceit has been pasted all over the world, often linked with another writer's angry words.  I know I am guilty of using his quote when I have tried to illustrate my point with all of the injustices I have witnessed.  At times, voicing my opinion with the anger of an impotence of how we all seem to be ripped to shreds with our passions when we view our global inequities and abuses of empire powers.  Those empires, those power structures are what the individual screams against, just aching to be heard that offers what exactly?  Is it a solution?  Is it a promise to solve everything?  Is it for what exactly? 

Today, while trekking across the city, I paused and at random I opened up the Tao to the 23rd Verse.  It's/was a nice verse that starts off with listening, but in the version I had, the closing phrase read as follows, "It is by not believing in people that you turn them into liars."  For the past five years I had felt the falling away of everything I believed in.  The symbols of what I considered to be true was cracking up my carefully prepared and planned out life in order to create the emptiness I needed, but one thing I had not counted on was the fear that came with the emptiness or my personal denial of the fear that was inside.  The term, 'real' was gone and Truman Capote's work, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" flashed once again in my mind.  I was Holly Golightly, the REAL phoney and I started to laugh because it started to make sense.  I believed I was real.  I believed I was fake.  I was angered by my exposure for the little lies I allowed myself to believe along the way in my life, but I still had it all wrong.

It wasn't bad that I believed.  It wasn't bad that I lost my faith.  It wasn't good either because it was just a state of being.  What was wrong was that I wasn't giving anyone a chance to go through their journey.  What made my information more true or correct than anyone's?  After all, this subject called truth, is merely what is accepted.  Truth is merely controlled information.  However, we get angry with the controlling factors because, in my humble opinion, we have the strong desire to control ourselves in as many aspects as we can.  However, what we forget, is that we teach each other along the way.  We don't know it all.  We don't like to admit we don't know it all.  We also don't all have the same experiences though they can be replicated to a certain point.

It could be said of any system that if one uses disbelief in one's instrument of control (say government), the resulting effect will be a nation of liars.  Count how many times you encounter different people throughout the day and don't believe their words.  We challenge every compliment as false praise because we judge from our own actions.  Is truth a kindness without motive?  Are lies really just to keep our ego protected in order to protect an image of how we want to project ourselves to the outside world?

Perhaps, what is the deeper issue is that we embrace lies more than we embrace the truth.  Perhaps thinking about the many ways we lie to the world starts from the outside to the inside.  We are told the world is dangerous.  However, what makes it dangerous?  Is it our expectation of there being "bad" people in the world?  

I know I am no closer to solving the puzzle, no closer to providing a usable answer than to say just one word.  Trust.  

What emotion does that bring out in you?  For so many, it brings out just two emotions.  Love or Fear.  Whether we realize it or not the unconditional surrender to either one of those emotions is present in us from the time we were born into this world.  We come here blindly trusting or blindly fearing by our ability to bond with our mother.  It's why babies die if they aren't touched.  We feed off of our need to be loved and to love.  

What we yearn for is not to lose that magic of being able to love because more than anything it enables us to see with human eyes the world with possibility.  It restores the beauty that goes missing when we only see how bad it is.  

Perhaps that is why, throughout the ages, power structures have killed so many men and women that looked at the world differently.  We don't need to silence those messengers.  We need to pay attention and ask a simple question, are we willing to allow each other to grow into their own power?  Are we willing to stop fearing the good that is within us all?  Are we willing to see that even though all of us lie for various reasons, there is a deeper truth that is also buried within.   The truth can surface if we can look through the embedded lie and have faith that goes beyond the lies we tell ourselves in order to feel safe and secure in the world.

The first person we all have to stop deceiving is that reflection because no matter how open and honest we claim to be, it doesn't really begin until the journey starts within at your own pace.  Then your world can finally change because at that moment, you are at peace.  
Still failing at life and it feels wonderful because I have another chance above ground to go further down the road.   

Friday, October 14, 2011

Silver and Gold

Irony according to Fowler's.  "Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear & shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders' incomprehension.

No.  That doesn't quit work.  I comprehended what was placed before me.  As a matter of fact, I became rather excited.  After wading through the months of stomach churning thought of ever working for two entities, government or corporation, I found a rebel organization with a capitalistic cause.  Not for the sake of profit alone, but the sake of really helping others secure their future in a way that can protect their families.

I smiled.  It feels like being Robin Hood singing an Olivia Newton-John song,  "Let's get physical".  It's knowing that it really isn't too late.  It's not about doom or gloom, but I smiled as I found loop holes around prospective reclamation acts.  Think about it.  A way to do what you need to do without worrying about privacy and having a government take away what was set aside for profit. 

This isn't a commercial, but what I am saying is that happiness, feels good. It feels like a rung, a step towards a bigger dream which, goes well beyond the tools of acquisition. 

My invisible road has been a strange one.  It's taking through all of the different elements of life.  It's giving, receiving, learning how to ask and learning how to listen to others and yourself. 

What makes me happy, is just knowing inside that even using material tools, you have an opportunity to do something much more than working towards safety and security.  I think the coolest dreams have always been when you incorporate others and just let yourself create.   When your ego doesn't matter, when competition isn't the goal, you get a vision that 's a choir when you become selfless.

One step at a time.  One smile at a time.  One vision at a time, until we can all be free.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Protests and it Fashionable?

Hello Readers, Friends, and life voyeurs,

I came to peek in on my blog, thinking that if I let it be idle, no one would be reading.  After all, I touched a subject that rips at many of us.  Then again, there are so many people who are totally desensitized, possibly because they don't care about anyone, including themselves.  It's amazing what people have sacrificed for material things, careers, and approval.  To some degree, we are all guilty of killing what we love most to have success.  I have still felt lost at moments, almost impatient for a sense of being something to someone, forgetting everything I learnt abroad, almost being pulled under.  It's a sense of seasickness or self sickness, perhaps.  That is the one vacation you can never take, one from your own company.  Where can you go from yourself?   Well, that is when you focus on the world and others, and that is precisely what I did for the past few years to feel a sense of 'cleanliness'.  Perhaps I wanted to rid myself from everything I suspected but didn't want to prove.

I found there are two types of blindness, intentional and unintentional.  The intentional type comes from desiring to trust blindly.  Those are people who are incredibly close to that fall in this category.  The reality is we don't want to find anything wrong with them, after all we have enough flaws within ourselves that competing in this area is often not wise.  Institutions fall into this category as well.  Blind loyalty, to a cause, to a belief, to a mass emotion.  The list of forbidden things to speak of was always religion and politics.  Beliefs are what people die for.  Interesting that our loves are used against us to such a point that it ignites hates and passions that 'make us feel alive'.

Recently, the Occupy movements are starting to sweep across America and to be honest, I haven't watched any of the televised reports or read most of the mainstream press because of how few of the major papers know anything about investigative journalism anymore.  6 major corporations have consolidated all media.  That is very worrisome because corporations are concerned with profit and can and do control the messengers.  

Earlier this year, I decided to return to America, rather than to stay in China and teach another year.  I felt within me that this year, was a pivotal year for us, as a people, as a nation, because we are actually learning more about the world and we have been learning more about how our government has been controlled by outside sources.  We have learned how it has been by the contents of a wallet and not character that people are placed into office by those who have deep enough pockets.  Our politicians have been purchased all around the world to exercise the will of others.  We know it, and have wondered if there is really anything we can do about it.

Personally, I have been wondering if we are serious about changing our ways.  I have read many of the signs the protesters carry.  They are life stories on cardboard.  They are the rule players who are pissed off that the game was rigged against them.  In short, it's not really about anything important, not really.  

The complaint can be summed up in a word.  Money.  

The typical American is upset that all of the material is gone, they are in debt, lost their homes, pensions, government assistance, and Occupy Wall Street is our venue, for now.  We are going to quickly learn that we do have to change this whole game that no one is supposed to discuss.  This game that has only a few winners and far more losers.  

We haven't cried out for peace.  We haven't cared that we go into other nations and strip their resources.  We are mad because we paid for Wall Street bonuses.  We are mad that we paid for the bail-outs of AIG, big banks, and continue to fund the Military Industrial Complex, The nation of Israel, and all of those chemicals that are dumped on us (which was authorized in public law, hidden in a National Defense Authorization Act).  We want to know why.  We really want to know the truth, even if it hurts to know the truth.  I never liked doctors that withheld information from me.  It would make me distrust them even more.  Truth, in its complete ugliness, can be a tool or a medicine that begins its work to either cure or kill you, but you must deal with it and not run from the pain it may cause.

So, I am asking a hard question.  Are we just complaining instead of doing something about it?  Let me flash back to earlier this year.  There was a protest in March 2011 in front of the White House.  I was there as an observer.  I was there to speak with the protesters.  I wanted to record the events of Veterans for Peace, and looked at how the public viewed these protesters.  It was kind of astonishing that people seemed to not care about our presence in the middle east.  The Washington Post wrote a one paragraph blurb in the back pages. Total media silence usually sends a message about it not happening in America.  I also witnessed 105 people get arrested and one of the people caught my eye.  Colonel Ann Wright, US Army and former State Department Officer (back when Colin Powell was running the State Department).

Here is Colonel Wright getting arrested.  I didn't get a chance to talk to her before they put the zip strip on her  wrists, but she gave me a smile.  
Mary Ann Wright (born 1947) is a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone.[1] She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

She was a passenger on the Challenger 1, which along with the Mavi Marmara, was part of the Gaza flotilla.
Source: Wikipedia

Here, without fans or much fanfare was a person who reminded me of the Buddhist monk I had met in South Korea that looked at his life and realized he had spent 20 years on the mountaintop.  This peace protester had made a career based on the passionate need to tell others to say no to anything nuclear, a total of 30 years holding a vigil that was actually more tied to a partner than nuclear weapons.  In a strange way, I had found a love story and a public display of passion to change the world.  30 years passed and the world had not changed despite the images and signs.  We do things that are dangerous in this world.  They disfigure people and we do know radiation kills.  We have yet to see the full horrors of Fukushima.  Chernobyl wasn't pretty either.
 Is it that some people feel things more intensely than others?  Is it based on a measure of personal pain that one endures until they have to scream?  Why aren't we horrified enough to stop harming the world?  Is it that we just can't do without all of those shiny things?
 I stopped by the nuclear protester's tent with a new friend I had made on this journey.  Sometimes we can't see what the impact will be, who will be touched by the life sacrifice she made.  However, something to really think about, if the world suddenly stopped using nuclear weapons and energy, this woman suddenly loses her purpose.  Think about it.  What would she do next?
 If we ended poverty in the world, just think about it, we wouldn't have to worry about having nuns in Calcutta caring for the sick and needy.  One of the nuns smiled at me and thrust emblems of Mary in my hand.   I guess vows are vows.
 I haven't stopped caring about people.  Humanity is still achingly beautiful and horrific.  To see this man in a drained fountain within a mile from Capital Hill illustrates perfectly how we all are in trouble.  I went there when it wasn't fashionable, but out of a pure need to ask myself who we are.  It was a choice that wasn't safe or secure.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

While I Still have Freedom of Speech, Let Me Tell You a Story...

Once Upon A Time...

I was 14 years old (young) and I was inspired by a teacher.  This was many years ago, but this teacher was a history teacher.  I adored him because I felt like he gave me a passion for humanity by sharing the story of the Jewish people.  I learned a new word, Holocaust.  I learned about genocide, and what I also learned was about the role our country played in liberating the Jewish people.  I wept over the 6 million people, for at last, I found a story I felt I could relate to.  

"Never Again" was my passion and it inspired me to join the Air Force at the age of 21.  

I was not aware of the whole story.  I didn't know anything about Zionism, but I felt the passion to be protective of the legacy.  These people had known such total pain.  They had seen their families killed, had their property stolen, and when liberated, they had nothing to go back to.  I sought out concentration camp survivors, befriended them, heard their stories...and found one problem.  They still had an incredible amount of hate.  They never could forgive.  It was them against the world and they lived in fear of people.    I wrestled with points of forgiveness within my own life.  I knew what it was like, as many people in this world have experienced, many forms of pain, suffering and abuses.

Forgiveness?  NEVER!

That is what I identified with.  I understand both.  I understand what it is to forgive someone who doesn't deserve it.  I understand what it is not to forgive.  I will say that I suffered the most by not forgiving.  It was by not forgiving that I was never able to forget.  It was by not forgiving that I had kept my own hatred alive.  It was by not forgiving that I kept talking about my own pain and the pain of others.  I had kept ripping those wounds open over and over again.  It had made me an unpleasant person.  It had made me an unforgiving person, demanding impossible levels of perfection from all who were in my life.  

I went through my own path in personal areas of my life to let go of the pain so my deep wounds could at last heal in my life.  I cried easily because I finally was able to cry.  I finally was able to laugh.  I finally was able to smile.  I was finally able to see because my thinking had changed.  It wasn't distorted by hatred and violence.

I began to question what we were doing.  I began to see a darker picture of the lies that had been pushed on the American people, the world, the UN, and other nations saw through the lies that Americans so readily believe, because it IS incomprehensible that we would not be able to trust our government.  A government that professed freedom (but there is none), liberty (but there is none), and the pursuit of happiness (but at least we have it in writing).  

What I have provided are three messages that I would like people to share and understand.  These three messages alone did not change my mind about the State of Israel.  No, far from it.  I started following the information by following history and the incomprehensible question that led me on this journey.  I had to find out one answer.  Like with any crime, you must have a motive.

Nagging away was the following question.  What transformed a nation to rise up against a minority group?  What caused these people to rise up and slaughter them?  I had gone to West Germany as a youth instead of Israel.  I looked at the Germans and could not comprehend what I saw.  I saw a free and open society, many races, many differences and a very beautiful culture.  They were a prosperous people, hard working, strong families, and a powerful belief in their society.  Was it Patriotism alone that killed the Jews in foreign soils?  

How do you ask a nation, "Why did you kill these people?"  

I did ask the question.  Several times I asked the question.  I received many responses.  There were some that still hated the Jews.  There were some that were not able to respond.  "It was the thing to do at the time."  or "It was safe to hate them."  but the answer that summed it up the best, "It was like a river of hatred that swept us all in.  It was socially acceptable to hate them, because everyone hated them.  It was no loss to hate them because they hated us."

Some of the answers stunned me.  I didn't comprehend this level of hatred.  

One thing that stunned me years later, was this group of people that were representative of my years of service, to be a 'champion' of human rights through my military service, to prevent genocide and serve for humanitarian missions was the content of my heart.  I could find reasons to continue serving.  Albania, Bosnia, Serbia...and the Kurdish minorities who were abused by the Iraqi Republican Guard...I heard and watched their cried...that is up until Rwanda and Brunhdi.  We did not go in because they were black.  We could have saved 20 percent of their populations.  We could have gone in when the UN pulled out.

We did nothing and I wept when I was in Germany.    It would be 15 years later, when I would meet the children of hell who survived and became students of mine in China.  I would find fresh tears on my face, not because of what they went through, but of the lessons of forgiveness they continue to teach the world.

I would also meet a Kurdish student who thanked me for my service because of what his people suffered under the Saddam regime.  Still, I was not convinced.  Iraq had turned into a war for oil and not so much about the atrosicities committed against the Iraqis and Kurds.

Hatred.  Genocide.  These two powerful words are bolstered with a third, Holocaust.  

I have faced these words, vowing always to be on the side of good.  On the side of humanity.  That to me, was paramount.  That was my oath, upon the altar of my heart.  Without any doubt, or moment of mental reservation would I stand up for people that I felt needed a voice.  

That is my "Never Again".  Never again to fuel the fires of hatred.  However, there is another truth that must surface.  Hurt people often abuse others.  Many abusers, murderers, rapists were also victimized.  

Within the last few years, I have finally been able to see and willing to look at a place called "Palestine".   I immediately would tune out anything that had to do with Israel because of the images of the Holocaust.  It was as if it was a form of magic had been used to keep me blind.  

What ever I thought I had known about Palestine, was hugely distorted.  

The nation of Israel had USED the Holocaust to shield their actions against the Palestinians.  I learned from the Jewish people, from soldiers, from the stories and images of the killed and wounded.  I began to finally see what many Americans were kept from seeing.  

These stories are about humanity.  Humanity is for all.  No one race is more protected than another, for evil is easy to see.  When a woman is beaten and a child ripped from her arms.  When a family is forced out of their own home at machine gun point.  When people are killed for standing up for their families, their homes and for their community...
it is simple.

It is inhumane.  

If you are loyal to Israel, as I was, take a real look at what is being done, using American funding.  We have become the evil we have feared by supporting the persecution of the Palestinians.  The Palestinians have been occupied, slaughtered and displaced from their own nation.  No matter what your beliefs are, your heart should reveal that this is as inhumane.

Before the nation of Israel was established, without the consent of Palestine,  Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in peace together.  

There hasn't been a lasting peace since 1946.  I have heard from Palestinians who have told me, "I will never leave my homeland."  They have lived under the shadow of death their entire lives.  Isn't it time for the key of peace to be given out? 

Which comes from understanding that most of our beliefs are embedded along the way.  If we have our media, governments and families shape our beliefs, it is for their purposes and not for us to discover our own.

Years later, I had found my history teacher.  I had asked him about Zionism.  He had said, "There is no such thing as Zionism."  My heart sank.  I knew right then and there that he had withheld the truth, which is the same as lying.   A person I had held up with such high regard, was not even to marry the woman he had loved because their religions were different.  He had begged me to see Israel one day in my travels.

Instead, I saw Palestine.  I saw the truth of how these people were treated, with hatred instead of love.

Believe nothing, ever, because believing is not knowing.  

Know by learning and teaching yourself along the way.

Namaste, my friends.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yes, It should have been impossible...but it wasn't

Upon the steps of the southeastern branch of the DC Public Library, I had said goodbye to some of my friends.  Gerard, a PhD graduate from Harvard said "I wish I could come with you." as he sat on the stoop waiting for the library to open.  It had been two months and nearly at the beginning of this journey, an anonymous man approached me, while I sat in the garden of the library writing approached me.  "I have lived in this neighborhood for nearly 40 years and have never come to this garden.  It's beautiful."  He paused.  "What are you writing about?"  I looked over the elder.  "I am writing about my travels abroad, and I am also writing about the homeless."  I could not have stopped the gush of words that proceeded out of his mouth at the time.  "The homeless?  Don't write about the homeless.  That's been done.  Where were you abroad?"  I resented this man, with his dictates, yet, I chose to respond.  "I taught in South Korea and in China.  I found China to be a magical place. The people are incredible, for I haven't seen innocence in a very long time..." He stopped me there..."You know, I am a left-hander, like President Obama.  We golf together.  I like left-handed people.  You should write about China.  Forget about the homeless.  This country is about God, Sex, and Drugs.  You have a mind of a idealistic.  However this country will kill each other.  It's just the way it is.  Don't write about the poor.  Write about China, that is what we need to hear about.  Don't be among the homeless, don't become them.  When this nation tears each other apart, we'll be on the golf course when it happens, and after its all over, we'll rebuild it.  You can't change the country, let alone with stories about these people."  I didn't get a rebuttal.  He walked off, not really listening, but dismissive and superior sounding.  I was left with those words to contemplate.  Was he right?
During my last survey of monuments, I ran across the work of Auguste Rodin, the famed Burghers of Calais.  I had seen the larger version in Paris, at the Rodin Museum with my friend Ruzica nearly three years ago.  This piece was a tribute to the brave and anguished men who had been sent by France at the end of the 100 years war, these 6 men were being sent as debt payment to the United Kingdom to King Edward III.  They were bound together with locks and ropes as a sacrifice (ordered to be beheaded) saved at the last moment by Queen Phillipa when they arrived, keeping their oath to save their people's pledge.  Who amongst us would stand as a pledge for our nation and not run?
I had found this tribute to the men who had sacrificed themselves during the fateful sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912.  Many would say that the Titanic was the vehicle that ushered in the American Central Banking System, known as the Federal Reserve (which is privately owned and created by a meeting on Jekyll Island).  The world become dependent on our fiat currency as a reserve currency to secure their own instead of gold or silver.  Though many times, through many presidents, we had tried to be free from the banking industry control, we saw a terrible path of greed, excess and the have and have nots growing wider apart.  Our 100 years war with the Federal Reserve comes to an end on 21 December 2012.  We were led to believe the bank was OURS, but it wasn't ever.  Our gold was gathered by Roosevelt, put in Fort Knox, and as the years went on, it was pilfered, nothing remains but the greed of the Military Industrial Complex that weakened our nation instead of strengthened it, making us destroyers instead of creators like we once were.
As I walked along the Anacostia River, under the bridge, I found the remains of the day.  A pocket of people who prefer to stay out in the open rather than stand in line to receive shelter for a night.  I was reminded by Walter, to not forget their stories, to tell them, because in their telling I find I have compassion.  I still remember that a citizen is not defined by possessions, for it is a simple state of being.  We are not citizens if we have a home, a bank account, or look a certain way.  We have done a poor job of taking care of our own, and a wonderful job of destroying at the beck and call of the special interests of others.

I had finally come to the last monument I needed to meditate at; the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.  Thomas Jefferson spoke of knowledge and wisdom a lot during his public service.  His focus was on the freedom of the human mind and education as being one of the cornerstones of absolute freedom.  We have heard that many of the elite say, "What do I want with a thinking public?"  However, it is with our imaginations, creativity we have created in this nation cures for diseases, transport, and our arts.  We have lost more skills than we have retained by being a culture of war.  
During Jefferson's time, and most certainly during Lincoln and Kennedy's times as well, we were ripe with the birth pains of change.  The peoples were not drugged by substances, controlled by propaganda, and had spirited conversations about our nation.  It seemed few were required to mobilize a nation, that unified them in the spirit of their day.  We argue over semantics, being lawyered about instead of releasing ourselves from the mystical spellings of words, lacking understanding of what emancipation means.  Most of us were not alive during the speeches of the great orators.  To be inspired is one thing, to live those words is quite another.
Asking ourselves, not why, but how can a nation bind up its wounds to reclaim its birthright and promise comes down to looking in the mirror.  If our God is economics and our freedom is material in nature, what does that say about our evolution as a people?
I close with this image from the Florida House.  I was surprised to find this house that was dedicated for use for the residents of Florida.  You will note the work of Romero Britto is prominently displayed.  Though Britto's work is declared by many as not being art within the established community, he is still celebrated, most likely because he created for the people many public works and not just for himself.  All art ever does is reflect our society along the way, keeping that in mind, it is why we need an educated public and not an ignorant and drugged one.  We have lost much by trying to control the masses instead of allowing them to be free.  Just words to think on and to share with you as I have finally found my way back home.  I had to remind myself of one universal truth, no single government, religion or institution is ever worth defending when it doesn't care about the people who are members of that society.

That is why family matters and why so many try to destroy it.  "There's no place like home."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Weight and Measure of a Human Heart

As I departed New York City, I seemed to circle around to see some of the people I needed to see.  I heard from several about how people are arrested for being without a place to go.  I had to walk around and see it for myself, and those that are a bit jaded, and native to the city, I challenge you to talk to these people and hear their stories.  You might be surprised where some of these people were at in their lives.  It reminded me of a sacked Hermes designer that an editor pointed out to me in Paris.  He was faking his appearance through the city, but you could see that horrible and painful look of fear.  You are a criminal if you are poor.  Oh Land of the FREE?  What have you become when you say to send your poor huddled masses for freedom, is it merely for exploitation and prostitution?  I felt anger in my veins.  I swallowed my bile.  For my plans to look harder at the city was cut off by the simple fact that I could myself get incarcerated for wanting to walk among them.  So I went onward to Washington DC.  It is appropriate because officially I am a stateless citizen of my nation.  So technically 16 square miles is the legal territory of my home.
I arrived on a day of silence in the early morning hours.  Saturday, and I was able to go up close and see the places that seemed like an illusion.  Everything seems fake on television to me.  After all if only 16 square miles controls a whole nation I was reminded by the words flapping on a banner, "The people are ruled by CONSENT."  It is through OUR consent that all of this exists.  Though we are reminded that it could be worse, WHY aren't we asking the RIGHT questions?  Why aren't we seeking to really make it better?
A bell, that isn't the liberty bell, but one that made me wonder if we need to ask ourselves a BIT more about what true liberty is.
And then I looked at the Supreme Court.  Half of me wanted to scream at the building, but I realize this symbol of 'justice' is really a form of bastardization.  A placebo.  For if we are limited by our laws how just are we?
And there in the distance was the Capital complete with the restored "Statue of Freedom" on its pinnacle.  This place where our government managed and mismanaged the resources of the people.  Where the Military Industrial Complex rose to power in 1963 and expanded through conflicts and a warped sense of a manifest dominions and destiny to extend its undo power and influence.  I used to think we had to be one world to have peace, and now I see that we simply need to love and appreciate the differences without seeking to control one another.  After all the world has seen what happened and IS HAPPENING through Nazi propaganda.
Don't ever kid yourself.  Their best work is in plain sight.  They don't hide their agenda.  It never ended.  When you have a nation that is controlled through hate and fear of others, what do you have? We have a crisis of the soul right now.  What will you do for a stranger?  For a fellow man or woman?  For someone who is not like you in any way shape of form?

In closing the United Kingdom is setting a precedent by calling for legislation to make homelessness illegal.  This is where we need to weigh and measure our human hearts.  When we equate life to money instead of LIFE, we have become animals.  We no longer deserve to call ourselves human.  Look at the Holocaust museum.  Have we changed yet?

OK darlings, I am walking and talking among them, because someone has to care and speak up for them because ALL life is precious.  DON'T WAIT TO SPEAK.  NO, this IS NOT OK.  People ARE NOT EXPENDABLE.  They are NOT WASTE PRODUCTS and if anyone needs to have their rights defended, they do, and trust me, many of them have given up on life and are WELL educated.    I have been humbled by these people along the way.

Yes, I could have stayed in China.  However, I had to see how ugly we are to our OWN family.  People, I don't have a good report for you.  LOVE starts at home.

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Examination of Humanity

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living,
So different now from what it seemed...
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed...
 I Dreamed A Dream, Les Miserables
No one is ever going to have all of the answers, yet we keep looking for that one person that will be that silver bullet.  It seems, that is where the problem starts, is with us.  After about a month of wading around in the finger pointing of American Society, you can feel it, the abyss of fear.  
How did we abdicate our freedom?  Well, our freedoms were abdicated long before many of us were born.  We were born into our systems.  We have societies, both secret and known, that we had no choice in entering into.   These societies are simple contracts of agreement, and those who are different are often criticized for their differences, told their are the oddities and don't quite measure into a certain mold.  Our various differences have been both celebrated and maligned. 
There is a crisis of the heart that is affecting Americans right now.  We have so many prohibitions that we feel it is normal to be told what not to do.  It is to protect us.  With every protection that comes along with our laws, we can't even begin to realize what this means.   It means our choices are being limited and all we seem to focus on is how bad and evil people can be towards each other.  "They" only want to take away from us.  "They" hurt us so we must sue them.  "They" are evil.  "They" destroy our liberty and freedom.  "They" have done this or that to us.

Who is this 'they'?  It is everything and nothing.  It is the system.  It is our family.  It is our religion.  It is our community.  It is our neighbor.  It is our state.  It is these evil corporations.  It is our country.  It is, oh you fill in the blank.

The truth is, no matter who 'started the fire', it is you.  Paralyzed with inaction, perhaps because people are afraid of actually needing each other.  

Question:  Is our government working for the people or for its self preservation?

Question:  Why are we fighting against each other?

Question:  Who benefits from us fighting against each other?

Question:  Why have we not empowered ourselves to change this system?

Question:  How much do you really know about the world around you?

I had a long and interesting discussion with a woman who had no idea that she was looking for someone to save her.  A lot of us do.  A lot of us are waiting for some sort of Messiah to save our lives.  Someone who will magically come along, wave a wand, and then make it all come together.  Our lives, saved by either more money or some promise of having the lives of our dreams.

What are those dreams?  

This woman kept firing question after question at me.  I wanted to laugh because there was no way I was going to even attempt to answer her questions.  She wanted someone to tell her what she should do with her own life.  I can't live her life for her.  I can't take that responsibility on.  We all have our own lives to lead, but her desperation made me realize a cold hard truth.  People have forgotten what is within them.  

She called herself one of "God's Warriors"  and I had to laugh.  Does any deity NEED a defense?  I am not going to debate any sort of religious belief at this point, but the main thought, is this.  WHY would a person put that kind of label on, willingly?  

It had reminded me of my military service.  The oath to support and defend a document that so many before me failed to support and defend.  100 years ago it was violated and the problems that began with our central banking system that marched on to enslave the people under a system called "Capitalism".  Believe it or not, the word, "Capitalism" nor "Free Market" is under the protection of the Constitution of the United States.  

So what has frightened the American People?  Themselves.  They look in the mirror and realize that their silence and inaction allows the system to continue.  Of course the Constitution needs to be updated, but they have to decide what is important.  

During the 1950s, Capitalism was introduced in a wide spread propaganda push.  The word "Freedom" was used to talk about the markets, but how free could it really be if only people with money controlled it?  The worker had to surmount incredible obstacles to work his way up to the top of this pyramid structure and through chasing this dream, a whole life was spent in pursuit of money and wealth.  Somehow money and wealth became the symbol for success and this was called 'happiness'.  

Education produced workers with minted MBAs and BAs that were focused on making money as well.  When I asked my students in China what they wanted to do with their degree, many told me, "to get a job."  A job?  Doing what?  "I don't know, just a job where I make money."  So what is your objective in life?  "Objective?"  Puzzled looks and strange expressions crossed their faces.  I pushed further, "What do you want to be?  What are your dreams?  How do YOU want to make a difference in this world?"  

A degree is just a degree without a vision when someone says they just want to get a job.  We have a world FULL of people wanting to be enslaved to work for someone else.  They want someone to work for and to tell them what to do with their lives because they need to earn.  That is how our system is set up now because what has happened within America is that small business has been killed off and we created a society of servants.  That is what you will find in the rolls of the unemployed at this point in time.  People who will not think or act for themselves and they haven't bothered to educate themselves on the laws of their land because it is up to someone else to fix it for them.

I have taken the temperature of my country.  It is a fearful, and yes at times psychotic place where I have taken the temperature and realize that I am, yes, being at times insulting to the country I have loved.  I know I have used harsh and judgmental language.  We have been the dark Empire that went around the world trying to overthrow governments and to spread democracy, and we use words like freedom, but in reality, we haven't practiced it.

A new kind of slavery came over people.  A financial one.  Credit debt, mortgages, car payments, child care, insurances (because we need to protect ourselves), and taxation.  The list of taxes that Americans have to pay, is possibly longer than any tax list known.  It rivals the United Kingdom's silly list.  Freedom, apparently, is a great illusion.  Isn't freedom about doing what you want with your life?

Is it really just about money?  Financial slavery is nothing new. It continues on and you see it in the expression on many who just want to get out of debt so they can acquire more debt and the people have followed suit with the government.  Remain calm.  By the time you have worked your way out of debt and are ready to retire, well you hope, just hope that there will be something there for you in the end.  

How many states are looking at bankruptcy within America?  So what makes this system so great?  From a fiscal standpoint, not a whole lot.  

See?  That is just the beginning of the 'bad news' that is facing the country.  I won't get into the other major issues that is plaguing this nation that is so afraid of the world.  Americans are leaving America.  Other people are coming to America because America is better than where they came from.  So you have the perfect storm.  The new kids on the block who have jobs, homes and cars who have embraced the American Dream.  You have those who worked their entire lives and had the rug pulled right out from under them, and you have an education system that is the machinery of continued enslavement.  The gateway debt is the student loan.

I am not really saying anything new.  It is all old information.  All dream killers.

WE are responsible for the dreams we need to be living and LIFE does not kill those dreams.  NO.  Obsolete systems kill those dreams.  Sure the shiny things are lovely to look at.  We can turn off our brains and stop thinking about the world, actually most Americans need to learn about the world.  

I don't care if you love me or hate me.  Really, I don't care.  Who YOU need to care about at this point in your life is yourself.

All of those systems, are only as real as YOU make them.  You can get swept away in its drama or you can march to the beat of your own drum.  

No.  I don't have the answers.  No one does.  Not all alone where we are just too afraid to let go of all that we think we 'own'.  We don't own a damn thing.  We are mortals walking around this earth with things coming and going in our lives to be used along the way as tools.  That was all money was meant to be, a tool.  Instead we created a God, a religion, a faith called Capitalism where profit is made at any cost.  Even if it means to go to war to stimulate a dying economy.  

The land of the free?  The people decide.  What is really important?  I honestly don't believe they know anymore.  I believe they may have let life kill their dream.   A nation that does not care for its own, that kills its own, that exploits its not a nation, but has become a corporation.