I was thirteen years old when Kennedy was inaugurated. All I remember was a poet named Robert Frost reading a poem he wrote for the inauguration. He was very feeble looking and read slowly. He died two years later. He was the poet of that generation. He had won four Pulitzers for his poetry. That is the only memory that has stuck in my mind–this old man reading a poem.

Our involvement in the Middle East (after 9/11) was really about vengeance.  The American people wanted someone to pay for the thousands who died at the world trade centers.  And our president used that as an excuse to invade Iraq and have a greater presence in the Middle East and to this day we don’t know whether he outright lied or was deliberately fed faulty intelligence when he claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  And it was not true.  Terrorism got worse there.  And we are still in Afghanistan–the longest war we have ever been in and we don’t hear about much but we are still there.  And you have to wonder why.  Much money is being made and no one is honest:  we are there because of the oil.  We want a greater presence in the Middle East because of the oil there.  None of the politicians want to say that openly but that is the truth.  We are there because of the oil.  Fighting terrorism is just an excuse.

Peace always revolves around grace.  Each party commits mistakes.  Conflict always exists.  There can not be peace without grace.  And grace does not come about without forgiveness.

If you talk about conflict between nations, there are always atrocities committed by both parties.  Conflict is on-going.  The only thing that breaks the vicious cycle is forgiveness.  We don’t earn that.  Only grace enables a nation to forgive the other.  Then the cycle is broken.  It is done one person at a time.

Let us get more specific.  Let us talk briefly about Iraq.  Thousands of civilians in that country lost their lives in the fray and civil unrest.  No one talks about them.  Many civilians died.  Many people are mourning their close relatives who died there.  Yes, many Americans died there or were injured, too.  And their survivors are mourning them, also.

There is only one thing that will stop the carnage–forgiveness brought on by grace.  And as I said before you can’t earn it.  Each party has to forgive the other.  Vengeance does not solve anything.  That only happens by grace.

The Best Boss I Ever Had

Author: siggy

He was the best boss I ever had.  I remember two things he stressed:  he would not tolerate gossip in his department and he insisted every person do his job properly.  He would get on your case if you engaged in gossip.  If you had a beef with him, you had to directly discuss that with him.  No one was allowed to engage in gossip.  He knew how destructive gossip could be in a department.  If you were not doing your job, he would correct you and insisted you hold your weight.  Slackers were not allowed.  He knew if one person did not do his job that would spread to the whole department.  Morale would be affected.  I never forgot the story he told me when he ran a big trucking terminal.  The workers who would slack off he would position right next to him right and left.  They knew they could not get away without doing their job properly.  He was a good boss and morale in his department was always high.  I learned how to be a good boss from him.

If America Is So Free…

Author: siggy

If America is so free, why do we have the biggest population of prisoners in the world?  That is a good question.  A disproportionate number of prisoners are black and poor.  I guess if you have a good lawyer, you usually do not end up in jail.  Many of the prisoners are in for non-violent crimes–mostly drugs.

Another travesty is there are more mentally ill in our prisons than in hospitals.  And many are not getting proper care.  Also, corporate profits are at a sixty year high.  And their taxes are at a sixty year low.

I just read if you factor inflation in, the minimum wage would be over twenty dollars.  It is not, so where are the profits coming from?  I thought I read that in the US one in five collect food stamps.  All that is not right.  Are we really our brother’s keeper?  Our leaders have a vested interest in keeping our population poor.  Our politicians may be elected by the people but most of them do not answer to the general population.  It is big money that they answer to.

In the words of Fidel Castro’s brother (during a Sean Penn interview), the politicians in America are the ‘ruling class.’  And now the government wants to run the medical profession.  As more and more details come in, instead of the price of medical insurance going down it might double or triple for some people in 2014.  It is enough to really get discouraged with our country.  Our land of the free.

‘We were feeling vulnerable again.’  This was stated by some nameless politician on the TV.  But it could have been uttered by almost any politician after the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  It is all rhetoric.  They don’t speak the truth.  There are no guarantees.  We live in a dangerous and unpredictable world.  It always has been.  It will happen again.  People are murdered every day by guns in the US.

It goes beyond rhetoric. ‘Malicious politicians with nefarious schemes.’  this is a line from a song.  Isn’t that the truth?  The politicians will use this incident to take away more civil liberties.  Our rights have been taken away from us one by one.  All in the name of freedom.  We will protect you from bombings and mass murderers.  The fact is those in power can’t prevent such incidents.  They lie and step by step take away our freedoms and we let them because we are scared.  And want protection, which they really can’t guarantee.  They lie and are thieves.  It is the politicians we need protection from.

Books are more important than anything in the whole world.  For what they represent.  During the dark ages monks preserved the legacy from the books.  Books contain ideas.  And ideas change the world.  That is why a free press is so important and along with a free internet.  Politicians would love to stop the free and world wide dissemination of information.  Propaganda is nothing new.  We have it in Red China.  And in every country.  And don’t kid ourselves we have it in the US.  Most politicians are great “spin doctors”.  They really do not answer to us.  It is really big business. Now the politicians here want major web sites like Facebook to routinely spy on its users and turn over the information to the government.  There is a bill in Congress to do that right now.  It is our own government we need protection from.  The fight over censorship is nothing new.

It is a travesty there are more mentally ill in prisons than in hospitals.  Part of that is there are few state hospitals and often the money disappeared.  It, often, did not go for the necessary community services to provide the support some people needed.  In fact, the budget for service for the mentally ill already bare bone keeps getting trimmed.  What ever happened to the idea we are our brothers’ keeper.  Now the jails are being forced to treat the mentally ill.  And they want to use as little money as possible, use the cheapest drugs when other new ones would be more appropriate.  If you are manic they force you to take Thorazine for it is a cheap but is an outmoded treatment.  If you are a prisoner and happen to be mentally ill you have no civil rights or say about the matter.  It is really disgusting and inhumane.

All of a sudden I felt old.  I was at an open mike of a coffeehouse.  A performer did a song of Bob Dylan’s.  I no longer remember the title but someone went up to the performer and told him it was great you were doing Dylan’s material and his material was not forgotten.  Suddenly I realized the song he did was fifty years old.  Dylan wrote one great song after another during that period.  The songs were a rallying point for the sixties civil (???) movement.  Maybe they will be discovered anew if the climate of our nation changes.  Those sixties songs captured a generation. And are there for subsequent generations to discover.

‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.’  I think these were words uttered by Thomas Jefferson.  A check and balance system is necessary for government.  That means a free press.  Open dissent is always important.  It forces you to consider another point of view.  Someone is always going to try to take your freedom away.  That is a fact.  That is why eternal vigilance is so important.  I never forgot the ‘Pogo’ cartoon which said ‘I have met the enemy and it is me.’  Everyone has to do their part.  Each person has a role in a democracy.  You can’t ignore your role.  One of the most important ones is your vote.  It matters.  Sometimes an election is won or lost by mere votes so never forget that.  Exercise your freedom to vote.  We have to make our politicians responsive to our needs and not let big money dictate their votes in the legislatures-state and federal.  A politician fears the wrath of the public and the last thing he/she wants to lose is your vote. And they do read the letters you send them.  ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.’

I get gas usually at the same station.  He pumps my gas and I don’t even have to leave my car.  This owner is a dying breed.  It is his gas station.  Customer service matters.  It always matters.  And part of the problem with big corporations there is always another customer but I tell you even there customer service matters.  Word of mouth always gets around if you were mistreated.  Customer service always matters.

I have to ask, again and again:  Are we our brother’s keeper?  You read repeatedly how state after state is slashing their budget for mental health services.  Sure, states can’t afford to continue to pay for upkeep of their mental health hospitals so many of them are closing.  The services in the communities are often not supported; even services that have proved to be cost effective like peer centers.

People will still suffer.  The jails, not hospitals, now contain the largest population of the mentally ill.  Many are in for minor offenses.  Is that right?  As if the politicians don’t know that?  This population is the most vulnerable.  ER’s are increasingly being filled with those in crisis and it is very difficult to find an appropriate place for them to go.

We will be judged by how we treat the weak and vulnerable.  I will ask the politicians, again, are you your brothers’ keeper?  It costs a lot of money to treat the mentally ill in jail.  The money could be better spent in the community.  The mentally ill do not belong in jail.

People are suffering unnecessarily.  The general public is also complicit in this situation.  There was a reason state hospitals were often in the country.  Out of sight, out of mind although it is true decades ago they were called rest homes.  There were none of the medications available and often all some of the people in crisis needed was some peace and quiet and time to regain their equilibrium.

The public and the politicians need to ask themselves are we our brothers’ keeper?  And support the services that are needed to humanely treat the mentally ill.  By all means the states need to spend their money wisely.  But acting as if the problems will vanish and expecting the jails to treat the mentally ill is not right.

It could be your loved one?  After all, one out of four have been diagnosed mentally ill in their lifetime.  And you would want proper and humane treatment for your loved ones.  Or even you?  So we have to keep asking ourselves (and the politicians) are we our brothers’ keeper?