This One’s For the Cowards

 

It happens every time.

Anytime a suicide makes the news, such as Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington, you get these folks who disparage the act of suicide as “the coward’s way out.”

Well, if you’re one of those folks, I want you to shut up. Right now.

The reason anyone commits suicide, I believe, is because that person has completely run out of hope. He or she feels as though there is no other option left.

That isn’t cowardice; that’s the lowest depth of despair.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that suicides occur globally at the rate of one every forty seconds. It is predicted that by the year 2020, the rate will be one every twenty seconds.

Every. Twenty. Seconds. Someone is taking his or her own life.

And, also according to WHO, depression, substance abuse, or some other mental health issue is directly related to over ninety percent of all suicides.

These aren’t cowards afraid to face life. These are people not equipped to face life. They need help. They need treatment. They need someone to talk to. Yet we continue to stigmatize mental health disorder, as if everyone who has one is some kind of nut job.

Which is absolutely not true.

Having a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re crazy, and killing yourself doesn’t mean you’re a coward. Those are two severe misconceptions that need to be addressed and, eventually, removed from the public consciousness. The sooner, the better.

 

Now, for all you brilliant minds out there who maintain that suicide is “the coward’s way out”, let me present to you a few more stats, courtesy of militarytimes.com:

“Roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide, according to new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs…

“In 2014, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than 9 percent of the U.S. population.

“The problem is particularly worrisome among female veterans, who saw their suicide rates rise more than 85 percent over that time, compared to about 40 percent for civilian women.

“And roughly 65 percent of all veteran suicides in 2014 were for individuals 50 years or older, many of whom spent little or no time fighting in the most recent wars.”

These are veterans.

People who served our country. People who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. People who look the enemy in the eye and don’t back down.

So, tell me how cowardly you think they are.

Then shut the f### up.

Turn That D### Thing Off

Alright, folks, look…

This is just getting really ridiculous.

I sit in my shuttle van five days a week, watching in the morning as employees walk into their office building, their heads down and their eyes firmly fixed on…wait for it…their smartphones.

So many of them walk right into my path, I could run them right over and they would never know what hit ’em; they are that oblivious to anything other than what is on their smartphone screens. Or they could walk right into a brick wall, totally unaware of its existence until impact.

And they certainly don’t acknowledge the presence of other people, let alone actually speak to any of them.

And it always leaves me wondering the same thing: What the devil is so crucial that you can’t even afford to not take your eyes off that phone for the two to four minutes you spend walking from your car into the office? Do you really have to look at it every bloody second?

I submit, ladies and gentlemen, if you do, you have a serious problem.

Full disclosure: Apparently, so do I, only with my tablet. My wife accuses me of being addicted to it, and she may very well be right.

I know we all like to keep up with the latest news, weather, sports, friends’ Facebook posts, emails, Trump tweets (good lord, why?), etc. And modern technology is a wonderful thing…

…except for sucking the life out of us all.

Where this is leading, folks, is: I’m gonna unplug for awhile, and try to reconnect with family, friends, nature, books, and move the smartphone and tablet to a lower priority in my life. So, this will be my last post for the near future. I recommend you try to do the same, and rediscover life, and the world around you, and try to remember back to those primitive, pre-computer-in-your-hands days.

We’ll meet again down the road, I promise. Hopefully, I’ll be a little healthier when we do.

‘Til then, I wish you all well. Much love to you. ❤️

 

Google Doodle Dandy

 

So, if you get on Google today, you’ll notice the “Google doodle”, an occasional alteration of the regular, iconic, multi-color logo. The Google doodle is used to honor special events and people.

Today, the doodle is a drawing of Richard Oakes, who would have been 75 years old today.

It’s okay; I didn’t know who it was, either.

Mr. Oakes, who grew up on a Mohawk reservation, was an influential activist for Native American rights in the 1960’s and early ’70’s, until he was shot and killed in 1972.

Give yourself a little history lesson today. Look up Richard Oakes and read about his life and efforts toward advancing social justice. In an era when peaceful protest is increasingly viewed by some as a “terrorist act”(!!), take some inspiration from what he accomplished with it.

Oh, and next time you see a Google doodle, tap or click on it. Never know what you might learn!

My Old School

 
College football teams should make news headlines for winning games and competing for national championships.

Not for this.

According to Phillip Erickson, of the Waco Tribune-Herald, “Baylor University on Tuesday night was served with a seventh Title IX lawsuit, which alleges as many as eight football players drugged a student and took turns raping her in 2012.”

This, mind you, is on the heels of a nine-month investigation by Pepper Hamilton, LLP, of Philadelphia, into allegations of sexual assault at Baylor.

Where I went to college.

Erickson’s report is chock full of vile, repugnant details, but let me just bring up a couple for your consideration:

“According to the suit, the football team had a system of hazing freshman recruits by having them bring freshman females to parties to be drugged and gang-raped, “or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls.””

Let that soak in a minute. Part of a freshman football player’s initiation to the team involved being part of a gang rape. With a woman that he brought!

Has the gravity of that hit you yet?

Let’s continue:

“Considered a bonding experience by the players, according to the suit, the rapes also were photographed and videotaped, and the plaintiff confirmed that at least one 21-second videotape of two Baylor students being gang- raped by football players had circulated.”

A bonding experience!!

Guys, you really feel closer as teammates after raping a drugged woman together?

The report goes on to say the alleged victim and her mother met with an assistant coach from the team, gave him the names of the players involved, and never heard from him again. She was subsequently harassed by several players via text messages, discouraged by the school from taking any action, required to still attend classes with two of the players, and burglarized by members of the football team. (The items were later returned with the understanding no charges would be filed.)

Oh, and there was this:

The head football coach, Art Briles, had this to say after learning the names of the players involved: “Those are some bad dudes…why was she around those guys?” (italics mine)

Hear that, ladies? That’s why this girl was gang raped; she was around the wrong people! Never mind that she was brought to them! Even around males of questionable character, it still must be her fault somehow.

(Ladies, does that surprise you? I think I know the answer.)

 

Erickson’s report also describes the total institutional failure of the university in handling this incident, references another lawsuit, alleging 52 acts of rape (fiftytwo!) by no fewer than 31 players, and updates the status of some of the players in the legal system. There is no update on the victim, other than as the plaintiff in this lawsuit. To the school’s credit, it has taken, and is taking, important steps to assure a safer environment there for all its female students. Perhaps someday, I can look on my alma mater with pride again.

But not today. Definitely not today.

How did it ever come to this?, you wonder.

Well, the fact is, my brothers, it all comes down to how we view and treat women. Period.

I honestly don’t know how but, guys, we have got to have a major attitude adjustment in this matter.

We have got to understand, women aren’t just sex toys. They’re not college hazing props, or a “bonding experience.” They’re not a bunch of filthy sluts, just waiting for a much deserved pounding.

They’re people, guys. They’re human beings. They are entitled to respect, and dignity, and equality.

And, none of them – I mean, none of them! – ever “asks for it.”

So, fellas, let’s hold each other accountable. You hear one of your buddies talking $#!t about a woman, call him on it. Yeah, you’ll probably catch all kinds of grief for it, but this is the time for, to borrow a movie title, A Few Good Men.

Change has to start somewhere, guys. Look in your heart and start there.

Salt That Rim

 

Today is Cinco de Mayo, or literally, “Day of the Margarita Binge.”

No, actually, that means “the Fifth of May”, and it is actually a significant date in Mexican history.

Here’s a little background, courtesy of History.com:

“In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the indigenous Zapotec tribe—was elected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments.

“In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces.

“France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.

“Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla.

“The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault.

“The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.

“Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. In 1867…France finally withdrew.

“Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where Zaragoza’s unlikely victory occurred, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration.

“In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with substantial Mexican-American populations.

“Today, revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano.”

And, of course, margaritas.

So, Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! Enjoy some tasty Mexican food and, if you imbibe, a margarita or two, in a salt-rimmed glass. (Just have someone ready to drive for you later! 😉)

 

Hear That? It’s the World

 

President donald trump will go down in history as the greatest leader that ever was.

That’s right; I said it. You know why?

He will be the only person ever to end poverty, end crime, end racism, end sexism, end violence, end war, end all the problems of humanity.

How, you ask? Simple.

By ending all human life on this planet.

 

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of participating in the 2017 People’s Climate March. Not the one in Washington, D.C., that drew over 200,000 participants. (Go to http://www.peoplesclimate.org and look at the awesome pictures and read the inspiring stories from that day!) No, I was at one of the “Sister Marches”, in Dallas, Texas. The following pictures are from there:

20170429_09200520170429_09240520170429_09245020170429_094044-1

 

As you can see, we had a special guest.

It was an event organized by the People’s Climate Movement, held in cities across the country, and worldwide. As if Mother Nature herself wanted to drive home the point, the main march in D.C. was held in sweltering, 90-plus degree temperatures.

It was an amazing thing to witness. People of all races, religions, sexes, languages, etc., all came together for one day to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and to send the message that the people of this world care about what’s happening to the planet that sustains them, and are worried about the direction we are headed, rapidly.

And, they are not without reason. Here in the good ol’ USA, we have a President and an administrator for, of all things, the Environmental Protection Agency, who are both non believers in climate change, despite the overwhelming evidence of its existence, and who are both diligently working to accelerate it.

Exhibit A. From the New York Times, 5/29/2017:

“Since taking office, Mr. Trump has appointed one of the chief antagonists of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, as its administrator and proposed slashing its budget by nearly a third, more than any other federal agency. He has signed several executive orders aimed at rolling back President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations intended to close heavily polluting coal-fired power plants, and restrictions on vehicle emissions, among others.

“This past week, Mr. Trump signed orders intended to initiate reviews aimed at opening certain protected lands and waters to drilling, mining and logging. His advisers were still debating whether the United States would remain in the landmark Paris climate accord. And on Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had taken down several agency web pages that contained climate data and other scientific information relating to climate change.”

And this is all just in his first 100 days!

If you want more details:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/29/politics/trump-epa-cuts-infighting-climate-change/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/28/epa-website-removes-climate-science-site-from-public-view-after-two-decades/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.228c2b16ecef

Exhibit B. The aforementioned Mr. Scott Pruitt, former Attorney General of Oklahoma, “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”, according to his own LinkedIn page, who sued the EPA 13 times while Attorney General, is the guy trump decided was the best fit for administrator of that very agency.

Isn’t that a riot? You couldn’t find a better fox to guard that henhouse!

Oh, and it isn’t just these two. We also have Senator Jim Inhofe, who once famously displayed an actual snowball on the floor of the Senate to disprove global warming. He’s merely one of one hundred eighty climate change deniers in the U.S. Congress. Their party affiliation is irrelevant.

So is yours, in fact. I don’t give a $#!+ who you voted for. You’re a human being; you depend on this planet for your life. As will the generations that follow us. This is no longer a spectator sport.

I saw a lot of kids at the march last weekend. As I took their pictures, I told them they were the reason us grownups were marching.

And, they are. It’s their future our “leaders” in Washington are seriously jeopardizing. Let them know that matters to you.

Mr. trump, Mr. Pruitt, Mr. Inhofe and all you other climate change deniers out there: The world has spoken. Loud and clear.

And the world won’t…be…ignored.

 

Got Plans Saturday?

 

Look out any window
Look out any open door
Look out any window
See what’s going on in the world around you

“Look Out Any Window” -Bruce Hornsby

Songwriters
HORNSBY, BRUCE / HORNSBY, JONATHAN

Published By
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., NORTH STAR MEDIA

 

Save the earth. It’s the only planet with chocolate!

– a magnet on the refrigerator at our house

 

Alright, look. I can put my opinion out there of all the ways I think this new administration is screwing up our country (and there are many, I believe), but for me, the mistakes with the most far-reaching repercussions have to do with climate change.

In case you weren’t already aware, over 90% of the world’s scientists agree that climate change is real, and that it is man-made.

Now, I know, on countless other issues, there is plenty of room for debate from either side, but when over ninety percent of the scientific community – people who know about these things – is in agreement on this issue, I sit up and take notice.

As should we all.

Unfortunately, we have a President who is on record saying that climate change is “a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese,” and recently signed an executive order loosening regulations on fossil fuel industries.

(Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2014) I rest my case, Your Honor.

Not only that, we have the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on record saying that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming, and who recently said in an interview the United States should exit the Paris Agreement.

Makes you wanna just yell at ’em, doesn’t it? Well, you may have the opportunity to actually do just exactly that.

Because this Saturday, April 29th, the People’s Clmate Movement will conduct its fourth annual People’s Climate March on Washington, D.C., as well as “Sister Marches” in cities all across America.

The People’s Climate Movement and March originated in 2014. As world leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23, 400,000 people took to the streets of New York the prior weekend to demand swift and decisive action regarding the climate crisis.

(Oh, and this wasn’t going on just in New York. Over that same weekend, 2,646 events took place in 162 countries around the world.)

This Year, the big March is going to be in Washington, D.C., right on President trump’s front porch. (AND, on his 100th day in office!) But, if you can’t make it there, don’t worry; there are plenty of events scheduled nationwide.

Go to https://peoplesclimate.org/ to learn more about the history of this movement, and find out where the nearest event is to you. You can RSVP to show up or, if you prefer, you can make a donation. Either way, I invite you to participate.

Myself, I plan to attend an event in nearby Dallas, to join my voice with voices all over this country and broadcast our concerns for the long-term survival of mankind on this planet, because that is exactly what’s at stake.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: share this with everybody…you…know.

 

 

Mental Health Gets the Royal Treatment

 

From the Associated Press:

“Lady Gaga Joins Prince William’s Campaign”

“Prince William has enlisted Lady Gaga in his campaign to persuade people to be more open about mental health issues.
“The heir to the British throne released a video Tuesday in which he speaks with the pop star via FaceTime. Lady Gaga, who last year spoke out about her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, places the call from her kitchen in California, and William answers at his desk in Kensington Palace.
““It’s interesting to see and hear from you how much having that conversation has really made a difference to you,” William said in the video. “It’s so important to break open that fear and that taboo which is only going to lead to more problems down the line.”
“The conversation is part of the latest blitz by the young royals as they campaign to end the stigma associated with mental health issues. William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, along with his brother, Prince Harry, have made mental health a focus of their charitable work.
“It comes a day after the Daily Telegraph published an unusually candid interview with Harry in which the 32-year-old prince acknowledged that he spent nearly 20 years “not thinking” about the death of his mother, Princess Diana, and that he only got help after two years of “total chaos.”
“Though the royal family has toiled for years for hundreds of charities, the work on mental health represents something of a departure – in part because of the taboo long associated with psychological issues…
“The Campaign Against Living Miserably, or CALM, said research shows that men particularly have trouble telling others when they feel depressed. (Italics mine)
““Prince Harry sharing how he needed support to cope with losing his mother shows both how normal it is to go through a tough time and how much opening up can help,” CEO Simon Gunning said in an email.
“Lady Gaga brings even more attention to the cause. She told Prince William in the video that talking more openly about mental health would let people feel like “we are not hiding anymore.””

Kudos to Lady Gaga, and especially Prince Harry, for talking about their battles with mental illness. Kudos also to Prince William and his wife for focusing on removing the stigma associated with mental illness.

I’ll say it again, guys: depression is a mother*****r. It’s bigger and badder than you, and if you try to deal with it alone, you’re gonna lose. Even a British Prince realized he couldn’t rise above it without help.

And I know one big reason a lot of us don’t get help is that stigma we all attach to mental illness. It means you’re a looney tunes, off-the-rails wack job, doesn’t it?

No, fellas, it doesn’t. I used to think it did.

It simply means that a part of your brain is not properly functioning due to a chemical imbalance, and it can be medically treated. I know; I take medications now to help restore the balance and, I promise you, they make a difference.

And, psychological help is beneficial, as well. I know we have these Freudian nightmares of lying on a couch in someone’s office discussing our childhood bed-wetting incidents or whatever. It’s just you, and a professional, in a safe environment, simply talking about what’s bugging you, and figuring out why together. Like, in my case, we’re getting to the bottom of why I’m so freakin’ irritated all the time. It may take a while, but it’s something I need to do in order to avoid doing serious harm to myself or someone else.

I know this is getting a bit long, but it’s really important to me that you guys understand there is nothing wrong with getting help. I’m gonna keep saying it, so just get used to it, okay?

In fact, I’m gonna be a Royal pain about it.

Health Update

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from clinical depression.

I also have a lot of anger simmering just below the surface.

Reading the news lately has only worsened those conditions.

Therefore, for the sake of my own mental health, I will have to refrain from keeping up with current events for the foreseeable future.

I don’t like that; I try to be an informed citizen of the world, with at least some awareness of what’s going on.

But, the more news I read, or see, or hear, the closer I believe I’m getting to a complete breakdown. Seriously.  😖

And, no, the news I view is not fake, despite testimony to the contrary. Oh, if only it was.

Someday, hopefully, I can channel all this anger into some constructive, positive action.

But, at this point, it just channels into more anger. And I simply can’t take it.

I know I need help. I’m gonna see about getting some.

Wish me luck.

I Need To Listen

Note To My White Self

Note to my white self…

You need to listen.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but – when it comes to discussions of racism with people of color – you have difficulty listening. You have convinced yourself that you are color blind, that you treat everyone equally regardless of the color of their skin and that any criticism you make of people of color is based on their behavior or attitudes and not their race.  So when a person of color says something about white people, you stop listening.  You don’t think they are talking about you.

They probably are.

You need to listen to people of color. They are experts when it comes to white people.  They have spent their entire lives surrounded by white people.  They don’t have to befriend a white person to understand them.  White people have been their teachers and their bosses.  They’ve watched us…

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