Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day for NJ, and I Feel Good!

If you don't know Nina Simone, you don't have a pulse. Listen to the lyrics. Feel the passion. What an incredible talent, gone too soon.

As I sat here this morning, reading my newspaper (yes, I do still read the paper every day. If you're not sure what it is, google it.), and scrolling my Twitter feed, this song popped into my head because my new governor, Phil Murphy, was all over both, doing good things for New Jersey. 

The long, dark reign of Emperor Christie is over. I wrote about all the ways he screwed us in my farewell to him (and in many other posts along the way). There's a new kid in town: Phil Murphy. What a breath of fresh air! In the scant four weeks he has been in office, he has done all this (in no particular order):

No doubt Phil Murphy will make mistakes. He's human. No doubt he will not be able to make good on every, single campaign promise. No politician does. But so far, he is a breath of fresh air for a battle-weary state.

Yes, indeed, it's a new dawn, it's a new day and I feel good!

Adding... I think it's pretty safe to say we won't be seeing anything like this...

Public beach closed to all but Christie & family

Or this...

Using a state helicopter to attend son's baseball game

from Governor Murphy. 

* This article goes on to say:
Murphy rejected a different offer that would have broadcast the program free to all television sets in New Jersey. A spokesman for Murphy declined to comment. 
News 12 does not reach all New Jerseyans, but neither did New Jersey 101.5, whose signal is either spotty or non-existent in the state’s southern and northern extremities — including some of the most populous areas of North Jersey. News 12 is available only to cable subscribers and Verizon Fios customers do not receive its broadcasts. But, like New Jersey 101.5 did with Christie, the program will be streamed free online, according to the source.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Real Truth About Fixing NJ

Former GOP Assemblyman (LD16) and 2017 Gubernatorial Candidate, Jack Ciattarelli, closed his recent op-ed in the Star Ledger with this:
New Jersey can be fixed. But first we need some truth-telling.
I agree. But, as the saying goes, "Position determines perspective"—and in this case, the truth. 

While it's true that the state is "facing a fiscal precipice", it's not true that the only outcome of "progressive rhetoric" would be "a culture of dependence," or worse: "socialism"! If that's the alternative to eight years of Chris Christie's disastrous version of trickle-down economics that left this state in a shambles, I say, "Bring it on!" (Good thing I'm not running for office. I can just see the oppo mailers: 'Corfield is a Marxist!')

He says:

  • We cannot afford, nor do we need to fully fund pre-K - we simply need means-testing and fairer distribution of current funding.
  • We cannot afford, nor do we need to fully fund public pensions - we simply need fair benefits reform. 
  • We cannot afford, nor do we need to make community college free - we simply need to fairly subsidize tuition.
  • The truth is our most taxed citizens cannot afford, nor do we need to raise taxes on the most taxed people in America - we simply need to reform our tax code to benefit all New Jerseyans.
  • Our small business economy cannot afford, nor do we need a $15 minimum wage - we simply need to adjust the current minimum wage.

Ciattarelli tries to speak in a unifying voice, using "We" over and over. But who exactly are the "We" of which he speaks? The "We" of the 'Healthy, Wealthy and White' suburbs? The "We" of the solid middle class? Or the "We" of our low-income urban centers? All three groups fared far differently under Christie. And all three will fare very differently under the Trump/GOP tax scam: the rich will win, and the poor and middle class will lose. Ciattarelli offers no solutions except those that hurt the largest number of "We" in the state: children, young adults, seniors, the working poor and the middle class. Christie 2.0.

When reviewing the quality of life indices in the top ranking countries in the world (hereherehere), it's important to note that a) the US is not in the top 10, and b) what Ciattarelli decries as "socialism" (including quality, affordable education and a live-able minimum wage) is in part what makes the quality of life in these other countries so high. But putting the needs of the people first isn't as profitable in the "Corporations Are People" era.  

The truth is that greatest investment in socialist programs this country ever made pulled us up out of the Great Depression and built the middle class. If we want to pull New Jersey out of its tailspin, we must invest in our people, not continue to give huge corporate tax breaks that yield few jobs. We must invest in infrastructure and education. We must pay workers a living wage so that they have a real chance of getting out of poverty. We must have a tax system where everyone pays their fare share. And the state must uphold its contract with its public employees to fully fund our pensions. We have kept our end of the bargain while both Republican and Democratic state leaders reneged on their promises. We have made concessions. We now work longer, pay more and get less in return. While the wealthiest 1% in this state have seen their net worth skyrocket, many public employees (along with countless others in the private sector) have seen their paychecks decrease every year since Christie took office. That's the "We" in my circle. And that is not a recipe for recovery.

Take a look at that counter on the upper right side of this page. That's how long the state teachers pension has to live. That's the biggest fiscal precipice facing this state. Nothing—including tax revenues from legalized marijuana— should be off the table when it comes to creative solutions for this mess. 

Ciattarelli blames his party's lack of "direction" or "solutions" for Guadagno's defeat. But the larger truth is that the GOP allowed itself to be bullied from the get-go. Bills to spur job creation, Port Authority reform, funding for women's health care, and so many more issues that would have helped the state get back on its feet— and shown that the GOP had a heart—fell by the wayside as electeds cowered in fear of the "Wrath of Christie" for daring to override one of his vetoes. A party so beholden to a man who chewed us up and spit us out, who left this state for greener—albeit unattainable—pastures to advance his own political agenda was never going to win that race. 

Ultimately, fixing what's wrong in any system comes down to priorities. Phil Murphy can affect many of the changes he ran on as long as those who govern with him hold those same values, and the people of this state hold them all accountable. 

And that is the truth.

PS: Also contained in Ciattarelli's piece was a cheap shot at NJEAs decision to endorse Sen. President Steve Sweeney's opponent in November. While I don't always agree 100% with what my union does, I can count on the fact that we will hold accountable those who break promises to our members. Maybe if Ciattarelli's pension was about to fall off a cliff, he'd think differently.

Friday, January 5, 2018

This is How We #MAGA in 2018

"We the People" means all of us because if you're not at the table, you're on the menu

In an op-ed in today's Washington Post (not available online as of this writing), Joe Scarborough asks:
What will finally move Republicans to deliver a non-negotiable ultimatum to this unstable president? Will they dare place their country's interests above their own political fears? Or will they only move to end this American tragedy when there is nothing left to lose?
To which Eugene Robinson replied this morning on Scarborough's Morning Joe:
This Congress won't do it's job, and I see no reason to expect that to change. I think the duty of the American people is in November to elect a Congress that will... This is not in terms of partisanship. They can be Republicans; they can be Democrats, Independents. Whatever they are, that they are patriots, that they are willing to do clearly what is their job, their constitutional role right now in this extraordinary situation. (emphasis mine)
We the People have to stop this runaway freight train because the Republican-controlled Congress won't. We can scream and yell and protest and tweet at them all we want, but they have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to reality, so it's up to us. We can and will succeed in November. We started the fight on January 21, 2017. The wave of activism that has swept across this country since that day makes the Tea Party Movement look like watered down decaf.

A sad statistic: 

This year we will see a record number of primaries and challenged House races. My guess is that this will be the most expensive non-presidential election cycle in history. 

But none of that matters if we don't vote. Almost half of all registered voters didn't vote in 2017. If we want to save this country, we simply cannot afford that this year, especially when nothing has been done to prevent foreign powers from tampering with our elections, and the GOP has done far too much to suppress the voting rights of minorities.

Change the demographics

Flipping the House also includes electing many more women. Women outnumber men in the US by the slimmest of margins, but we are woefully underrepresented in elected office at all levels. New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the union, has only one woman representing us in Congress, Bonnie Watson-Coleman. Electing more women is the only way we will truly have a voice for the issues that matter to us including pay equity, health care and reproductive rights, sensible gun legislation and poverty. 

US News and World Report ranked Sweden, where women hold 44% of Parliament's seats, #2 out of 60 industrialized nations for its overall quality of life. The US is in 18th place.
[C]ommitment to human rights, public service and sustainability have helped to make [Sweden] a respected leader in international affairs. 
Sweden operates under a model similar to those of other Nordic nations: heavily capitalistic with a large percent of spending going toward public service. Once well above the global average, tax rates have decreased, and an advanced infrastructure and transportation network assist with equal wealth distribution. Health care, as well as a college education, are free, and its people boast one of the longest life expectancies in the world. Almost all of Sweden's trash is recycled. (emphasis mine)
All that in a capitalistic system. Imagine that.

We all have to work

I live in New Jersey's 7th Congressional District, a GOP bastion for as long as anyone can remember and a DCCC target this year. Right now there are six candidates for the Democratic nomination. I have been volunteering on the campaign of Linda Weber. Many of us here in the 7th believe she is the right candidate at the right time. She is the most qualified, the most representative of the district, and best-positioned to defeat Rep. Leonard Lance. I could go on about why, but check out her website. It tells the story far better than I. And of course, if you like what you read, please consider donating and/or getting involved.

Linda is but one. There are many other highly qualified candidates running in districts all over the US. You owe it to yourself to find out who is running in yours and support them. Any amount you can donate, whether $5 or $500, helps these candidates fight for you. It's a sad state of affairs, but candidates have to raise a boatload of money to be viable, so every dollar counts. 

If you are an unaffiliated voter, consider registering for the party of a candidate you support so you can vote in the primary. Volunteer to phone bank or canvass. Host an informational event. Register voters. Whatever you do, do not sit this one out. The future of our country truly is in our hands. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

12 Ways to Survive Trumplandia in 2018

Happy New Year! 

If you are like me, you spent the majority of 2017 like this:

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in "Home Alone"
It's been brutal, no doubt. I freely admit to losing it on social media on more than one occasion, and lying awake at night wondering if I'm stuck in that Dallas episode with Bobby Ewing in the shower. But sadly, no, it's not a dream. All of this is quite real (more on this later). 

I am not a religious person, I do believe there is a power greater than all of us, that lives inside all of us, that surrounds us, that is the source of all our joy, happiness and strength, that is accessible any time day or night. It goes by many names: God, Allah, Love, the Force, the Universe, the Collective Unconscious, meditation, and many more. Whatever it is, it transcends this 3-dimensional reality. It's the glue that holds us all together. 

In between fits of rage and an occasional shoe-throwing-at-the-TV episode, I found myself calling on that power quite a lot last year. It brought me to the point of surrender. Not the white flag waving kind. Rather, the kind Obi Wan had when he turned off his light saber and let Darth Vader turn him into space dust. There's strength in letting go. There's strength in nonviolence. 

Violence doesn't have to be physical. It manifests in thoughts and words, too. And it's exhausting. Being at peace requires much less energy. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of being angry and frustrated. I'm tired of being depressed. And I'm the only one who can fix that. 

I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions, so let's just call this a big coincidence. Here are 12 ways I plan to implement for a more peaceful journey through Trumplandia this year. I've already started doing some. I don't claim to be perfect, but I will make a concerted effort. 

If any of them bring you comfort, terrific. If you think this is all a bunch of hokum, I'm okay with that, too. Take what you like and leave the rest. 

  1. Hate the behavior, not the person
    At some point or another, those whom we love unconditionally will do or say something by which we feel hurt. It's normal. But do we hate them? No. We hate the behavior. The behavior is not the totality of them. It's a choice they made in that particular moment. It's easy to hate. It's much harder to love. 
  2. Practice Loving Kindness
    The strongest force on this planet is Love. Every human being on this planet burps, farts, has bad breath sometimes... and suffers. No amount of money will change that fundamental fact. Loving Kindness is a specific practice of cultivating loving thoughts and feelings starting with ourselves and moving outward all the way to those we dislike. If there is more love, there is less hate. It's that simple. 
  3. Don't name-call
    Name-calling makes us no better than those to whom we are calling them. What do we gain from calling Donald Trump or someone on social media any number of names? A momentary feeling of satisfaction? Sure, but in the long run, we are no better than Trump in his worst name-calling moments. 
  4. Put policies before personalities
    After my infamous YouTube moment with Christie, and while I was running for state assembly, countless people shared Christie fat-shaming memes with me on social media. I made it clear that my issues with him had nothing to do with his weight, and everything to do with his policies. Think about this: would you be proud of your child for making fun of an overweight child? Would you laugh at and share memes if Christie was blind? In a wheelchair? Had some other disability? Food addiction is a disease like alcoholism or drug addiction. It's not something to shame someone for having. Neither is dementia. And there are a lot of people out there making the case that Trump may have that or some other form of mental illness.
  5. VOTE!
    Almost half of all registered voters did not vote in 2016. Can you imagine the possibilities if they did? This is a right that many people around this world only dream of. Many people fought, suffered and died for our right to do so. Even if you don't like any of the candidates, you can write in someone. But please, don't take this basic freedom and cornerstone of our democracy for granted.
  6. Get involved
    Everyone is really busy, so don't even go there. But ask yourself, Am I too busy to fight for my freedoms? For my children's future? For my country? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Not everyone can march in a protest rally, but ALL of us can make one phone call to our representatives. ALL of us can send them an email. And if we do it once, we can do it again. And again. Activist organizations have devised so many quick and easy ways to do so that there really is no excuse. If "we the people" don't speak up, our representatives will only vote in their best interests.
  7. Give yourself news blackout days
    Malcom McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange"
    If I let myself, I could leave the news on 24/7, but then I'd end up like this. So, give yourself a break. Turn off the TV. Go for a walk. Pet the cat. Have coffee with a friend. Do something to take your mind off the insanity because you know it'll still be there when you get back, but you'll be better able to handle it.
  8. None of this is real
    Yea, I know, this one may be tough to swallow. It is for me. But in my quest for understanding, I have come to embrace the belief of many spiritual and metaphysical teachers that this 3-dimensional reality is an illusion. The real real is what lies beyond, in other realities of which we only get glimpses in dreams, déjà vus states and some heavy duty meditation (of which I am no where near). As I said, this is tough to swallow, particularly for those who stood on long lines last week waiting to pre-pay their 2018 property taxes. But do try to dip your toe in the waters of possibility.
  9. Turn on, tune in, drop out
    Unlike Timothy Leary, I do not espouse dropping LSD to escape from Trumplandia. However, Leary did say, 
      Like every great religion of the past we seek to find the divinity within and to express this revelation in a life of glorification and the worship of [insert name of higher power of your choice]. These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present — turn on, tune in, drop out.  
    How do you take care of yourself? I've taken up meditation, yoga and tai chi as means to deal with the stress I feel on a daily basis. I watch my sugar intake. I have stacks of inspirational daily readers on my nightstands. Make sure you're taking care of yourself: body, mind and spirit.  
  10. No violence
    Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." Self defense is one thing, but inciting violence makes us no better than those whom we oppose. Violence manifests in words as well as deeds, so watch what you say, too.
  11. Don't let politics ruin families and friendships
    Loving families and friends are priceless gifts. I'm fortunate in that my family is in agreement politically. Most of my friends are, too. But, I have some dear old friends with whom I don't see eye-to-eye on politics. We discuss—up to a point. Then we agree to go back to our political corners and drop it. I do appreciate hearing their side of things. After all, none of us knows everything.
  12. Don't be the second person Just because someone says something or posts something on social media that you don't like (even if it's an attack against you), you don't have to respond. Remember, it's the second person who starts an argument.
I hope you find something useful in what I've written. If so, please share with others. As I said earlier, take what you like and leave the rest. 

Wishing you a healthy, happy, peaceful and proactive 2018.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why @tomamoran 's Words Matter

On Saturday, Star Ledger editorial writer Tom Moran announced his latest column with this tweet:

Reaction from NJEA leadership and members across the state was swift and loud. Moran took down the tweet and apologized to the union's President Marie Blistan and Executive Director Ed Richardson. But I have to wonder if his fingers were crossed behind his back given this tweet the very next day:

In the past six weeks, we've experienced two mass shootings, one of which was the deadliest in US history. In June, a nut job with a political axe to grind shot Rep. Steve Scalise and and three others on a baseball field in Washington, DC. There have been 307 mass shootings in the US so far this year, and Congress is in no hurry to do anything about it.

Since Columbine and Sandy Hook, schools across the country practice regular, mandatory lock down drills where staff and students hide in a safe part of the classroom, turn off the lights, lock the doors, draw the shades and sit in silence. Far too often I have to remind students to stay quiet when they try to ask if it's a drill or if there really is someone with a gun in the building.  

If a child makes a comment about wanting to hurt or kill themselves or someone else, it's a big deal. There is a strict protocol that happens immediately. This is no joke. It doesn't matter if the child is 5 or 15, there is a process and there are consequences because no school, no child, no staff member should ever have to encounter another Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris ever again. 

Congress refuses to protect our children. Elected officials like Chris Christie and ed 'reformers' around the country have made us out to be public enemy number one. So, when someone talks about murdering teachers, we take it very, very seriously.

Threatening to murder the President or other elected officials is a crime. So is threatening to blow up a plane. But to Moran, murdering teachers is a figure of speech, no big deal, perfectly okay to put that word in someone else's mouth. Yea no, "especially in this day and age":

For whatever reason, Moran has a chip on his shoulder about the NJEA. Over the years, he has written so many pieces that range from the misinformed to the flat-out untrue (see here, here, here for a sampling), so it was no surprise that he attacked us about how and where we spent our PAC dollars (not dues money, in case anyone was wondering) during the election. But that's not the issue. As an editor and columnist for the state's largest newspaper, Moran has a responsibility to maintain a certain level of professionalism that upholds the Ledger's reputation, and—I would think—some sort of journalistic standards. If I want that kind of sleaze, I'll go read the NY Post. But I don't think they would even stoop that low.

So, the next time Moran wants to make a flippant comment like that about anyone, I will invite him to my classroom when we're practicing a lock down drill. Then he can tell my scared kindergarteners why it's no big deal. 

Words matter. As a journalist, he should know better.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Greetings from Atlantic City: A Farewell to Christie

This post comes to you from the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City.

The winter of our discontent is over. With the election of Phil Murphy on November 7th, the countdown to the end of Chris Christie's reign of error has begun. It's been a long eight years for New Jersey—especially for the poor and middle class—with an extra special kind of awful for public employees.

Early yesterday morning I took a long walk on the boardwalk. It felt like the set of some post-apocalyptic movie. Granted, it was too early for most souvenir shops, massage parlors, and psychics to be open, but still, pop music and carnival barker-style announcements blared non-stop from speakers to no one. Litter, like tumbleweeds vacationing from Las Vegas, floated across the ancient boards desperately trying to get back home. Malls stood half empty. Boarded up casinos, lined up one after another like ghost ships run aground, while workers dismantled the phallic spires and onion domes atop the closed Trump Taj Mahal, the garish, gaudy, penultimate 80's version of his out of control ego.

Death Row: R to L: The Revel, Showboat and Trump Taj Mahal
This town is a fitting metaphor for the Christie administration and how he left this state: full of promise, but ultimately all smoke and mirrors and... nothing. I wrote about  Christie's takeover of Atlantic City last year. Whether school districts or entire cities, he doesn't lead; he controls—badly. Plowing through Tony Soprano style, gobbling up everything and everyone in his path to feed his cavernous, deflated ego.

This empty lot is right next door to The Revel 
Gambling came to this city almost 40 years ago with a lot of hope and promise. Shiny, gleaming, glizty pizzazz! The city will be transformed! Poverty erased! Money for everyone! But all these years later, almost 40% of the city's population still lives in poverty and almost half the casinos are shuttered. Like those pioneers of casino gambling, Christie has failed miserably at making life better for the majority of people in this state. For him, it's only ever been about power, control and his path to political immortality.   

While the rest of America was continually shocked and appalled at Trump's "Insult Everyone" tour campaign, Jerseyans were all too used to that kind of behavior. You see, we had Chris Christie long before America had Donald Trump:

  • Before Trump boasted about grabbing women by the you-know-what, Christie made a vulgar remark to a woman at a Mitt Romney rally about performing a certain sex act on... who? Him? 
  • Before Trump promised to put coal miners back to work, Christie promised public employees nothing about our pensions would change 
  • Before Trump accused Sen. John McCain of not being a war hero, Christie called a Navy Seal an idiot
  • Before Trump incited anti-Hillary crowds to chant, "Lock her up", Christie told the press to "take a bat out" on then-76-year old Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg
  • Before Trump mocked and ridiculed minorities of just about every race, creed, color and sexual orientation, Christie labeled public schools in high-poverty, high-minority districts "failure factories", and called Reed Gusciora, an openly gay assemblyman who was fighting for marriage equality, "numbnuts". He's insulted many an elected official along with countless reporters, teachers and average citizens. Too many to list here.
  • Before Trump spent almost every weekend golfing at one of his resorts, Christie used taxpayer money to fly to his son's baseball game in a state-owned helicopter, and took a taxpayer-funded security detail with him on his presidential campaign
  • Before there was Betsy DeVos, there was Chris Cerf, Christie's education hit-man commissioner who left those of us who actually know a thing or two about education burning up the blog-o-sphere debunking his ignorant posturings and idiotic policies
  • Before Trump's plan to waste tax dollars on the wall, there was Christie's waste of public employee pension funds to bail out the then still-under-construction and now bankrupt Revel Casino at the height of the recession. The hotel was open less than two years because hey, everybody wants to gamble during the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, right?

Billion dollar bust: The stunning Revel Casino sits empty

It took Christie eight years to sink this state. How he got re-elected, I will never know. His list of failures includes much more than what's written here, but I leave you with this one that just about sums it all up: a record 11 credit downgrades. But what does that matter when you're sitting in the owner's box at a Dallas Cowboy's game?

Hopefully Robert Mueller's investigation won't take much longer, and Trump will be (burnt) toast pretty soon. As for Christie? With poll numbers around 15% he's irrelevant. He will slink out of Trenton in the dead of night with a mirror to his face claiming to be the greatest governor ever to the adoring crowd of one looking back at him. My bet is Fox News has an anchor chair waiting for him.

Hey Chris, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Battle of Charlottesville: The Battle for America's Soul

Flower Power, 1967, photographed by Bernie Boston on October 21, 1967,
while he was sitting on the wall of the Mall Entrance of the Pentagon

I was raised on God, news and newspapers, and there was a daily ritual for all of them. If I wanted to watch television, I had to watch what the adults were watching, twice a day: the news. There wasn't just one paper in our house, there were three. Oh how I wished The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal had comics. Pray, read, watch, talk: politics and religion. And yes, our holiday dinner tables were battle grounds.

I was eight when this picture was taken. With two older sisters, the anti-war movement and the civil unrest of the 1960's was imprinted on me as they clashed with my Republican father and grandparents who tried to feed us a steady diet of, "Blacks and Jews are destroying the world" and "Kids today are slovenly, lazy, cowardly drug addicts." The civil unrest of the new generation had shaken heir post WWII, comfortably numb lifestyle to its core.  

In many ways, things haven't changed.

Like many of you, I was shaken to my core yesterday. Glued to the television and Twitter, my anger and anxiety ratcheted up in direct correlation to the unfolding events in Charlottesville. How could this be happening? Nazi flags? Torches? Chants of "blood and soil"? Armed protesters? David Duke vowing, "We are determined to take our country back" (from whom?) Violence! Is this the start of a Civil War? This is not my country! Then, Trump's vapid, vacuous response sent me over the edge:

But my friend Mel, a young woman wise beyond her years, brought me back down to earth:

She is right. Sadly, this is my America; it always has been. I don't like to think about that, but that's the problem: I must. We all must because, as Mel reminded me, the United States of America is a country founded on prejudice, slavery, bigotry hatred and fear. "Veni, vidi, vici", was "How the West Was Won". And until we confront the effects of that head-on, re-write the history books, change the curriculums, come out of our dark corners and speak the truth, things will never change. 

But, that doesn't mean that we don't stand up to hatred and bigotry. Far from it. 

These symbols have no place in our country (neither does a president who refuses to denounce them), except maybe in an educational setting. Millions of people died under their oppressive regimes, and millions more gave their lives to end them. If these people think this country would be better off if these flags flew over the White House, I suggest they move to one of these lovely places.

Photographer unknown

Neither do these:

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Notice what it says at the bottom of the banner: "Screw the Klan..." Read the signs in the background: "Make Racists Afraid Again". A banner that said, "Fuck Fascists" was prominently featured in video clips of the clashes. While the majority of the peaceful protesters were peaceful, these sentiments are not. As Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind."  

I don't claim to offer any solutions to this mess. No matter how bad things get, humans always have the gift of hope. And I do hope the elected officials in DC will work this out. 

Naive, eh? Yes and no. I alone can't solve these problems, but here's what I can do: stand up for my beliefs in a non-violent way. Violence will only beget violence. That picture at the top of this post may be cliché, but non-violent protest was at the core of Dr. King's dream. 

By last nite I was emotionally drained. People I spoke to were, too. But, the collective unconscious was humming because by the time I woke up this morning, there were already two peaceful protest events scheduled in my area for today. I will definitely be at one of them.

What will you do today? Tomorrow? In the coming weeks and months? Will you turn off your TV? Pretend none of this is happening? Or will you try to make a difference in your part of the world? If there are no events scheduled in your area, start one. Stand on a street corner with a candle and tell passers-by why you're there. Get more people to join you. Write letters to the editor. Volunteer. Educate. Activate. Motivate. Speak out. Make an appointment with your state and federal representatives and demand they denounce this hatred and bigotry. 

Be the change you want to see in the world.

But whatever you do, do it peacefully. Remember, when you point your finger at someone, there are always three pointing back at you. What will they be pointing to?