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A Select Passage from the Gospel of Luke, New Antonian Version

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?”

The lawyer answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”

Jesus said, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

And Jesus answering with the following story:

A certain man went down from New Orleans to Houston, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance there came down a certain Baptist preacher that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

And likewise, a successful businessman, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Muslim, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out $1000, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Then Jesus asked, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?”

The lawyer replied, “He that shewed mercy on him.”

Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

Black People are Too Much!

Growing up in the desegregating south of the 1960s and 1970s, I pretty much heard the worst of the bad stuff coming out of the mouths of white people. Some of it I believed, some of it I ignored, and most of it I rebelled against. Somehow, a white kid who shook both the hands of George Wallace and Jerry Falwell, I grew up believing Martin Luther King was a great man and both of those guys were bad people.

Even though, in their old age, my parents spent a lot of time watching Fox News and believing too many lies about President Obama and Secretary Clinton, when I was a child, they taught me, in their different ways, to not be like so many of my cohorts. Mama was a big fan of Dr. King, and Dad, who wasn’t exactly for equality, still felt that Wallace was wrong about almost everything, and a crook, to boot.

So, I became a progressive southerner, a fighter for civil rights. This fight is with me today, and it now extends to include the rights of gays, Muslims, women, and generally people who are singled out for skin color, race, sex, religion, or national origin. I have been sympathetic to Black people since I was a kid in the 1960s. I embraced the rights of Muslims since I met a group of black Muslims in Cincinnati in the late 1970s, and was very open to a group of Iranian college students I met at a gas station in Alabama.

I supported the Islamic Revolution a year later. I have to admit, like the Cuban and Venezuelan and even the soviet revolutions, it has failed on many levels, at least it is not the direct result of American meddling in the affairs of another state. Though, I might add, our embargoes have caused untold suffering and death.

Yet, for all of this, whatever this is, until a few years ago, it never occurred to me that race was not real. On the face of it, race is obviously real. I remember the little Jesus song about all being precious in his sight: Red, Yellow, Black and White. And while the song kinda got the colors wrong and there seems to be very few people I ever met who were “black” I have met a few people almost jet black in skin color. White folks are from alabaster, especially white people in very cold climates, to reddish brown like me, “black” runs  from a creamy light brown to very dark brown and the yellow and reds were really just other shades of brown, but I took the meaning of the song to be that yes, we were very distinct races, but god loved us all evenly and equally.

If god loved everyone, I should, too. And I did, and I do. The thing is, and it has taken me over 50 years to realize it, race isn’t real. RACISM IS. It took me a decade of playing with this concept to finally “get it.”

I had a dear friend, a black lawyer from Detroit who helped me along the way, but she finally got so frustrated at me, she said I was secretly a racist and that until I got to the point where I quit identifying as white, we could no longer be friends, so we aren’t friends anymore, which makes me sad. I am grateful to her, even if our friendship ended.

The last year or two, I have been dealing with the reality, that my entire life, especially my work life, has been based on a lie. It is the big American lie. The big WHITE American lie. That we treat all people equally, that bad people discriminate against minorities, but that most of us do not. Yet, I have come to realize this: if was not a white male, I probably would be dead by now. I have, more than once, challenged a law officer, not with weapons, but with words, sometimes angry and often defiant words. I am not a criminal, these were traffic stop incidents that I escalated. Invariably, the officers took a fatherly approach and encouraged me to calm down and reminded me they were just doing their jobs. I have no doubt if a six-foot, 250 lb., black male had done the same thing, the same number of times, at least one southern white cop would have shot him dead.

As to my jobs, I was so arrogant and undisciplined that I dropped out of college and never completed my degree, even though I had skipped my first year and college was basically free for me. Yet, I have earned a middle-class income most of my entire adult life. Every good job I have been given, was given to me by a white male who looked a lot like me, and most of them talked a lot like me.

And most of them, at some point in my employment, let me know, they would never have hired anyone but a white male for the job. Even a nice college educated black man, or woman, or any woman, for that matter would not have been given the job. I benefited and probably will continue to benefit for the rest of my life from the almost universal “affirmative action” afforded white people, and especially white males. (This makes the case for the current effort to investigate colleges for reverse racism seem all the more unacceptable to me.)

The things I was taught, not just by my parents, but by my preachers, my school teachers, my friends, the parents of my friends, stayed with me on many levels. Some of the things I believed about black people led me to rationalize and make excuses for black people, instead of examining the whole thought process to see where the faulty logic was.

I believed Black people were mostly lazy, were not as smart as white people, were not as honest, and probably not as moral as white people. It was easy, to believe this, because I lived, and still mostly live in a segregated world. When someone would tell a story about trying to find out why a black employee didn’t show up for work, or who stole or damaged a piece of equipment and no other black person volunteered to rat out the responsible party, the white person would say, “well, you know, they all lie…”

And I would think, well, maybe, but it is because they know how badly you, as a white person, will treat them. When the same situation occurred with white workers, no one said, “well, you know, they all lie…” Instead, usually, the feeling was those not giving someone up were honorable. This is but one example of the hundreds of things taught to me, not in a classroom, but in the play yard, the fields, the workshop, in every corner of my life. Variations on this were also used against Native Americans, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, Asians, of all stripes.

Recently, I think I am coming to understand what my old ex friend was trying to get through my indoctrinated skull: It isn’t that we should treat all people equally. It isn’t that all the different races ARE equal. It isn’t that some people aren’t alabaster and others almost truly black and a huge spectrum in between. It is the idea that skin color, origin, or anything is a really stupid way to segregate, categorize or think of people.

Do I think of my friends by eye color? By hair color and type? By skin texture? By height? By weight? No of course not, we would never, as bad as weight discrimination is, consider fat and skinny people two different “races.” Everyone agrees that is “NUTS!”

And that is what has taken me a lifetime to realize. I fear most of my generation, and those older than me, at least those who identify as white, have not yet grasped. Racism is real, the legacy of it is with us in many very real ways, as are the glorious cultures of the many peoples from the many places that have come, over the centuries, to make America their home. But there cannot be black Americans, white Americans, brown, or red, or yellow Americans.

In fact, there cannot be Arabs and Asians and Africans, except as a note to say, this person comes from a different geographical, and cultural place, but this person is a human, not equal, not to be treated equally, but the SAME. Being a person of a different shade of complexion, or from a different part of the world doesn’t change who we are any more than whether we are tall or short. Until we can treat each other as equal and as the same, not out of some strange generosity of respect, but out of an awareness that we ARE the same people, we are not going to get to where we need to be.

Where we need to be is where every man, woman and child, regardless of anything, can achieve to their fullest desire and capacity, because no door is locked to them, because “fill-in-the-blank.”

To those of you, who have always known this, probably especially people of color, but to everyone who gets it, I am sure you are saying about now: “Duh!” But I do believe I represent a very large percentage of “White” people, especially in America, and probably wherever there are large groups of pale skinned people who have been very used to the lightness of complexion dominating all aspects of society. I believe most of “my kind” are either about where I am, or even many steps behind me, on this path of enlightenment.

I am not sure how we help others to see this, but until we do, many paths will remain blocked. Not only for minorities, but for society, as a whole.black people too much

Every morning Facebook ask me what’s on my mind? Today I decided to answer

Jim Crowe that’s what’s on my mind Jim Crowe I’m wondering how long America is going to put up with this return to Jim Crowe, this harassment, this attack, this assault on people of color in the defense of white people. I, for one, a middle-aged white male don’t need their goddamn protection. I can promise you 80% of all the work I’ve ever gotten, I had a lot better shot at it because I was a white male.
they can do all the affirmative-action they want and it still won’t be an even playing field.
this attack on people of color is disgusting its unAmerican and Christian. It’s the attack of really small minded people. God I hate these people, or some might say, “fuck white people!”
I don’t mean every white person is a bad person.
I mean the culture of white people is a bad rotten fake culture design to profit from the miss fortune of the oppression of people of color.I’m sick of it!9AC367CC-1F94-4860-8844-80A0FC16C884-5721-00000C5044902CED

It’s Time to Repeal Obamacare!!!!

green cross

Single payer would save us all money and offer better care. only problem, a bunch of corrupt millionaires wouldn’t get their cut, and if they don’t get their cut, they cant afford to pay congress to keep voting in a way that harms the american people. the idea that we could save about a Trillion dollars PER YEAR, and offer EVERY American decent healthcare, so they can be as productive as possible, and so their medical care is not a reason to not hire them is a no-brainer. It would also be painfully simple, we declare tomorrow “Medicare for all” we hire as many of the clerical workers as we need from the bloodsucking insurance companies to process the paperwork. done. yes, there would be a fee which we might subsidize for the very poor, (we could eliminate the redundancy of medicare, medicaid and the VA system) and let everyone else pay, maybe exempt VA, as well as the very poor, and maybe wrap the subsidy into a republican idea where if the poor person doesn’t use any medical services, we rebate them a check at the end of the year for the $109 per month, or say an even $1000 per person whose family income is below the poverty line and doesn’t need any medical services. Save a TRILLION dollars per year! Cover EVERYBODY! LOWER the burden on businesses and separate the cost of hiring an employee from any health related costs! Why not? because if you do, certain parasites will lose the ability to profit off of illness…

I am aware that there are people who insist our system costs so much and leaves so many people behind because that is the price for having the best system in the world. And while we do have excellent care for extremely rich people, 90% of all Americans cannot be considered anything but middle class or lower, meaning the poor support a system for a very rich people. Therefore, I am including some stats from the most recent oecd.org reports on actual healthcare costs and out comes for the wealthiest and most economically developed countries. It turns out that Americans are paying about double the average cost, and have about a 40% higher infant mortality rate and we die about 2 years earlier than the average developed country, so if we were to adopt ANY of the other systems in these other countries, we would save about $5000 per man woman and child in America, we would have 100% coverage, and we would live longer and be more likely to survive childbirth. It is hard to understand why anyone is still arguing that Single-Payer would cost us more, when it obviously would not.

OEDC HealthOEDC Life ExpectancyOEDC Live Births

How to START Writing

There are a million places one can go to learn how to write, to write better, to write a best seller, to write the world’s best business report, the greatest resume, and countless other things.

I will not, and probably could not tell you how to do any of these things. Over the past 53 years of writing, I have written a few good resumes, that and being a moderately pleasantly looking affable white male, have landed more than one job I probably didn’t deserve, but as a rule, I am not what some would call a successful writer.

In fact, my first point is to suggest that the traditional definition of a successful writer is not and never has been a reliable yardstick. First of all, most writers are not published, and most published writers don’t make any money, I mean they earn well under $1000 per year, maybe under $1000 for their entire “career.” Success, in writing, like in most things, means does it accomplish what you intend it to.

So, if you would like to be able to share your thoughts with friends, and maybe leave something for your children and grandchildren to read someday so they can better understand the life you have lived, then I can help you.

If you want to make a million dollars writing, I can help you, too, but not as well. Let’s get the million dollars out of the way first: You can either become the world’s greatest hack writer, (in the old sense of the word), or you can write however you want, and possibly, the odder, the better. Either way, you are going to need to do a lot of things BESIDES write to “succeed” if you write novels, you will need tons of luck. It’s like writing screenplays, for every superstar, there are 1000 writers just as good who did not catch a lucky break, AND have the gumption to take advantage of it properly.

If you can write ABOUT something, food, fashion, health, business, or even, I suppose, writing, though I haven’t made any money at it, you have a better shot at this thing people call success. But often it helps if you work at it backwards. Become wildly famous and successful at doing something, and then start writing about that thing. Ok, I am tired of talking about “writing for success” it bores and frustrates me, and if that is what you want to know, there are slightly less than a million people already writing those pieces. I don’t know if they give much in the way of solid advice. I am pretty sure the best advice about writing for money, is “don’t!”

So now, to talk about what I love, the REAL success of writing is to write something that you appreciate and are proud of, whether you ever persuade a soul to pay you a penny for your efforts or not.

A couple more things to get out of the way. Grammar, spelling and punctuation, and basic storytelling. First the grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I rarely capitalize anything, I punctuate as the spirit moves me, I write one long sentence. Dropping in commas and periods as seems appropriate, but if it was up to me, I wouldn’t use any, most of the time. But if you are a little concerned about your “editing” ability, don’t be. First, it doesn’t matter, and second, Word cleans up almost every mistake you can make, suggests other corrections, so you can look passable if you simply follow its suggestions. The worst problem in this area is using the wrong word, but even that is sometimes caught by today’s word processing.

Now, the serious part of editing is storytelling structure, both in word choice, and story arc and believable dialog and a list of other items, if you are trying to be a professional and commercial writer of fiction.  Poetry has always been my favorite form of writing, because if I write something, no one, not even my Ivy League professor of poetry (who actually knows these sorts of things) can tell me I am wrong. Of course, there is bad poetry, but if someone writes a poem, as long as they are happy with it, and especially, as long as they don’t insist you agree that it is “better than Shakespeare,” then it is fine and it succeeds in making the writer feel better!

If you are struggling to START writing, you probably want to be able to express your thoughts about life, and possibly want to share your story. Someday, maybe even right away, if you are both really good and really lucky, you might have some of the types of successes I mentioned. But, you first need to get comfortable thinking with your fingers. I do everything on my laptop these days, and even though I am a terrible typist, I type 30-40 words per minute, which is about as fast as I can compose, anyway. If you prefer, and if, unlike me, your handwriting is legible, you can fill up steno and note pads. Edit and type them up later. I used to write all my poems that way, but I got tired of not being able to figure out what I had written.

Here is a list of things you have my permission to NEVER worry about again:

Spelling

Punctuation

Story arc

Precise facts

Humor

Or…

literally anything else.

You can start by putting a few of your random thoughts down any way you like. Even in the manner of a grocery list. I sometimes do this when I have a poem idea, but it isn’t fully formed. I can then pick it back up at a future date and write it out. Or as is actually more common, I never touch that note again. Either way, it is a prompt, if you ever need one, and if not, it is a good exercise and clears your head for a better thought that will eventually be your story, essay, poem, or whatever.

Writing is also a lot like sports or music or nearly anything else, the more you write, the better you write. So, start out with a story about what you did today. It’s okay, I mean REALLY okay, if your day was extremely boring, (though, if it’s that boring, you might want to reevaluate your current lifestyle… or maybe not, some of us have already had a lifetime’s worth of excitement) tell how you either did or didn’t sit down with a cup of coffee, and what you did or didn’t have time or feel like reading or watching on TV, what you ate, who you had a fight with, or didn’t.

You also have 100% permission to make crap up. And you can use the truth as a jumping off point. Whatever is in your head, in whatever jumbly-trite-whatever method and manner you can and want, to use to get it out and down “on paper.” That’s it. If you do this every day, for a couple weeks, then all the sudden one morning you will wake up and say, “I don’t want to write this crap anymore, it’s boring, I want to write “X”!

So, you do, you may be great at it, but probably not, especially at first, but that doesn’t matter. How good were the first week you took piano, started bowling, or played softball? The more you write, the more the doors of your mind will open and you will find better ways to say what you want to say.

One last piece of advice, okay, it is kinda multi part: Be honest, but not too honest. If your aunt is screwing around on your uncle with their preacher, don’t name names. Write what you know, as the old saw goes, except, don’t be limited by what you don’t know. Between google and Wikipedia, you can have a good working knowledge of most things, people and places in less than 30 minutes, and often in less than 5 minutes. Don’t worry about what other people think. If you ever get to where you like what you are writing, share it with a friend or two. But if they don’t like it, even if they savage it, ignore them. They are probably totally ignorant about what you are doing.

If you can find a mentor, that is great, but if not, give yourself lots of permission do screw up things. Sometimes our screw-ups are our masterpieces. Usually not, but they are often our best teachers. Learn from others, learn from yourself, but most of all, learn from doing. So, start writing, without fear. The day you write it down, no matter ow poorly and disorganized, you have already succeeded, because a successful writer, is only and above all, one thing: a person who writes!

I wrote this for a friend who is struggling to get started, but it occurred to me, there are a lot of people in that position. If you are in that position, or know someone who is, please read, and share, and let me know if this helped.

“Walk on by”

Had an interesting experience today on Twitter. #noneofmybusinessland

I saw a tweet I liked, clicked on it, then on the poster’s profile. on the profile was another interesting tweet by someone else, so I followed it to that person’s profile, so now I am getting pretty far from my own twitter feed, well into “noneofmybusinessland.”

This person posted this instruction to would be followers: “Dont follow me if you have a BF, or unless you are ready to cheat! I was pretty shocked, and then I looked at couple of this guy’s posts and he is going on about some girl who didnt think he would be “faithful” and how she should give him a chance. Then one about how “hoes had f’cked him up” and he was going to focus on “hoops instead of hoes.” My fingers flew into a rage telling him what a jerk he was, then I thought about what I tell so many “LinkedIn Neighborhood Watchmen.” If you dont like it, scroll on by. I thought about how I ended up where i was, and how I had no right to advise this complete stranger. if they want to be a jerk, its their life.

So I didnt post. I hope he grows up and learns to respect women, but until I master my own life, I think I can let him slide.

It actually felt good to not be a condescending butthead:)

Full disclosure: I am still a condescending butthead, but I am at least working on it:)

 

 

Ending the War on Homelessness

Recently, I saw a piece on social media entitled something like “Ending the ending of Homelessness.” As is often the case, i was moved to respond:

There are a few things we know works with homelessness, and there are a few things we know about homelessness, that will always make it hard to “win” at.:

Housing First Helps

Most homeless people have metal health issues that they have treated with self-medication for a long time, so until we offer a good and comprehensive mental, physical, and addiction health treatment, we will not “Win”.

We also need to solve the “you need a job to get off the streets, and you need a home before you can get a job.

We need to stop criminalizing homelessness.

We need to stop lying to ourselves that all of us are only a few bad breaks from being homeless. Most of us can lose a job, a spouse, and a home and still not be on the streets. The key difference is the mental health and substance abuse that burns thru existing resources (friends and family).

We need to quit with the moral judgements, not only because it is wrong, but because it is unhelpful. Condemning unwanted behavior and unwise choices does not undo either. Helping people and giving them opportunities to help themselves is useful, and does lead to success in fighting homelessness.

These simple, but expensive and sometimes unpleasant options do work. We know they work. I am not a genius with secret information. Too many cities and communities have tried parts or all of this with success.

Ending homelessness means embracing the humanity that is a homeless person, being realistic about what they need to end their homelessness, and providing services and opportunities for them to succeed.

One last thing, whether it I diet, exercise or giving up cigarettes, most of us have had the experience of “failing our way to success” where we try and fail repeatedly, on our way to eventual success. A homeless person must be allowed to fail to success. If we give them the perfect set of options and they still fail, we cannot write them off, we must set them up again, and again, and again, and know some will never succeed, but by building a good system and allowing them to fail to the success at the end, we can make homelessness, if not obsolete, a much smaller problem. Oh, and while religious organizations and good hearted individuals can make a difference, as long as we allow them to be the only, or main response, we will fail. The problem is society’s problem. We, as a society, must answer it together, and yes, that means government and tax payer funded responses.