Archive for the ‘inequality’ Category

Written by a retired police officer who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Every addiction stems from an attempt to cover up, mask, or alleviate emotional pain. Therefore, the drug war is a systematic policy of locking up people who are in pain, have been abused, abandoned and neglected. They are not being offered treatment, but rather furthering their pain and suffering.”

– Irwin Ozborne



I wanted to be a police officer. I applied, and became one. The city I chose to work for was well-known for its violence. Despite attending a “tough” and “demanding” academy, I was woefully unprepared.


I was excited to work this job. They said, “stay on the south side it will be busy.” A constant array of shootings, stabbings, domestic violence, vehicle pursuits, and assaults of all kinds confirmed this to be true. I was in the front row, seeing it all. I was indeed busy.


As a young officer and a young man, I was taught that drugs are an evil, and we must declare war on them. In the course of my employment I would learn differently. From day one I started my study of human nature, and conducted thousands of informal surveys. Tragedy and trauma were my baptism in this new and strange culture. At the focal point was the issue of drugs, prescribed and not prescribed.


I sought different assignments and got them. I investigated crimes against children; I also conducted domestic violence investigations, missing persons, and a slew of whatever else they threw at you. I was also privileged, in my career, to work among the addicted, the homeless and the mentally ill. I did many things in my career, but I actively sought these groups out. I tended to them, and I arrested them.


My most favored assignment was working and spending time with the mentally ill and addicted. I heard story after story of physical abuse, sexual abuse, trauma of all types, and even abandonment. I talked with prostitutes and listened to their horrid stories. I also spoke with veterans of wars, those of all walks of life, and those who suffered PTSD. Schizophrenia, oppositional defiant disorder, suicidal issues, and personality disorders were prevalent.


 I learned that these people used drugs of all types. And, in the final analysis, they were self-medicating. In these people’s life, and as I started to pull my own mask off, drugs were an out. A moment of not having to endure some form of hideous emotional pain, or a review of their reality.


 Drugs were the medicine, but not the cure. And criminalizing this problem is not the answer.

Police models do not typically take into account any serious mental health model. As I advocated for the mentally ill, I was met with stiff resistance, and all kinds of biases. Again, I was slowly peeling the mask away-it hurt. Far too many people were being invalidated and still are. The police are even invalidated by their own-at all levels.



In the end, what really happened? Well, it was an experience about myself. I learned that it can be a tough thing and a good thing to have to look into the mirror, I had to exercise self-care. The first thing I had to do was chase the suicidal thoughts from my head. Then, as I took off my mask, I had to acknowledge my own PTSD, my own traumas, my own disassociations, and of my inept bonding issues.


This world of sickness had brought me to my knees.

In the end I did it. I pulled off the mask. The world, while not perfect, is now a better place for me. Somedays I wonder if it would have been easier to suppress all this stuff. The answer is no. Please pull of the mask. Life without the mask is better. And, it’s just the beginning.

grinchchristmas

By Cortland Pfeffer and Irwin Ozborne

“Maybe Christmas is not found in a store, maybe Christmas is about much much more.”

-The Grinch who stole Christmas

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We need the Grinch – We need someone to steal Christmas because we have lost the true meaning.

Christmas has become symbolic of all that is wrong with society, opposite of the original intent to bring out all that is right. Much like the Grinch, whose heart was three sizes too small; our hearts have diminished in size due to the culture of fear, conformity, and consumerism in which we reside.

In order to heal, we must overthrow the King. Yes, we need to kill the Western Christian version of God and change the way we celebrate Christmas.

This year, on Black Friday, I was reminded about the true meaning of life – and with that, the meaning of Christmas. I choose not to celebrate Thanksgiving, but rather honor the Day of Mourning for our Native American brothers and sisters. I surrounded myself in nature and spent time at a cabin in small-town Western Wisconsin. The sights and sounds were serene. It was a true “silent” and “holy” night with no one around, yet I was far from being alone as I was immersed in the picturesque landscape provided by mother earth. And it was here, at the local gas station, in which I re-discovered what the true meaning of Christmas was really about.

Black Friday has become as much part of the holiday season as Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Western world. Families anxiously await the moment the retail stores open for the extraordinary deals, and quickly abandon their feelings of gratitude and “thanks” by indulging on materialistic items.

I find it ironic how we published an article about the foundations of Thanksgiving and were slammed for “ruining Thanksgiving”, and being told “the meaning has changed and it is about being thankful and having gratitude.” While this sounds good in theory, it is not practiced. The day before Thanksgiving is the second biggest drunken night of the year in America – behind only New Year’s Eve. Then we have a phony meal together and cannot even make it a full 24 hours of showing thanks, as Black Friday deals start at 7:00 p.m. or earlier on the “Day of Thanksgiving.” It’s hard for me to buy into the concept of a day of gratitude when it starts with a hangover and before it ends we are ditching our families to wrestle with over others for materialistic items.

This leads to fights, people being trampled, arrests, and even a few deaths all in an effort to purchase “things” to provide for our family for Christmas – in the season of giving. This is what Christmas has become; it is about money, consumerism, and materialism.

The Season of Giving

The United States retail industry generated over three trillion dollars during the holidays in 2013, with the average person spending about $750 for the holiday. Additionally, 33 million real evergreen conifers will be purchased around $35 each for a market of $1.16 billion in Christmas tree sales.

It is estimated, by a United Nations world hunger project, that it would cost approximately $30 billion per year to end world hunger. Think about that. Only $30 billion to end world hunger per year; yet, on the season of giving, Americans will spend $465 billion for our own material possessions. This is not suggesting to abolish Christmas altogether, but if every family reduced their Christmas budget by fifteen-percent ($116.25) and contributed that to a world hunger fund it would meet the United Nations forecasted amount to end world hunger.

Wouldn’t that make a better gift? Wouldn’t that make for a better Christmas story if all the resources in the world were utilized to making a better life for everyone rather than benefiting the few?

In fact, this is how the original story of Santa Claus arose. St. Nicholas was a monk born in the third century. He lived near modern-day Turkey and was admired for his kindness and compassion. Legends suggest that gave away all of his wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Over the years, we have created a mythical creature to symbolize this monk.

But, instead of going around and donating his wealth to the poor, modern-day Santa Claus runs a foreign sweatshop enslaving people to work around the clock to deliver material items to the richest nations.

Living in a Material World

As a child, I remember this holiday used to be about sharing love, giving, and caring for one another. I have seen this idea evaporate as the years have passed in which I refuse to further participate in this lie. So, this Black Friday, while millions were out searching for bargains, I found my own bargain – peace and tranquility for free. I find the word “bargain” quite ironic when talking about retail prices. One must realize that these really are not as great of deals as advertised.

The markup prices are astronomical. Many United States corporations employ workers in sweatshops overseas in countries like Bangladesh, India, China, Haiti, etc. They pay below minimum wages in deplorable working conditions – typically 14-16 hours per day for seven days per week. It costs pennies to make this material and it gets marked up to allow for enormous profits for the CEO of these corporations. Here are the top ten salaries of the CEOs of retail corporations in America in 2013:

Michael Jeffries, Abercrombie and Fitch $48,069,473

Gregg Steinhafel, Target $19,707,107

Leslie Wexner, Limited Brands $19,230,484

Michael Duke, Walmart Stores $18,131,738

Paul Marciano, Guess $14,399,134

Terry Lundgren, Macy’s $13,840,531

Michael Balmuth, Ross Stores $12,478,239

Gregory Wasson, Walgreens $12,041,058

David Dillon, Kroger $12,024,543

Steven Fishman, Big Lots $11,924,662

Christmas is not a complete lie, we just need to understand that it has to do with symbolism. Santa Claus no longer has anything to do with St. Nicholas or helping the sick and needy. Santa Claus now represents the fat and jolly CEOs listed above as they showcase good but inside they are running sweatshops for elves overseas. The elves also exist, but they don’t do work in the North Pole. The elves symbolize sweatshop workers that get paid nothing to work themselves to death while providing your material possessions. Perhaps the reason they are so small in stature, is because they represent the 10 year olds working 16 hours per day to provide wealth for their respective Santa Claus.

Then to tell children he delivers only to the “good” girls and boys create further separation. Again, it is symbolic, he delivers toys to those who have money and wealth. How do you explain to a child in poverty that he did not get gift this year? By this mythical logic, it would infer that he is a “bad” child because Santa did not bring him gifts.

This tale of Christmas we share is 180-degree difference from the true story of St. Nicholas. He helped those in need, but today we only help those with greed at the hands of the poor.

The concept of sweatshops is industry as it sporadically pops back up in the news. You see, it has never gone away; we just selectively decide when we want to pay attention. It was all over the news in the 1990s with Nike and Gap having 10-13 year old kids working in these shops as slave for their profits. The public outrage led to changes to be made; but once we saw the “great deals” on Black Friday we forget about the torturous conditions it takes to make these items.

Every few years, there is a story on the slave labor that produces the clothes we wear. Then the corporation tells us they have looked into things and have made changes. Yet, just a few years ago a factory collapsed in Bangladesh killing thousands of people and we come to find that Walmart, Gap, Target, etc. were all having clothing made at these factories.

It is a mass marketing scheme and manipulation of people. We have a group of people watching television, listening to the radio, or surfing the internet and the marketers simply pay money for air time and tell people what they need in order to fit in. Once they have these items, then they will be ok. It is based on fear, fear and consumption. A quote from Marilyn Manson says it all:

“Because that’s not the way the media wants to take it and spin it, and turn it into fear, because then you’re watching television, you’re watching the news, you’re being pumped full of fear, there’s floods, there’s AIDS, there’s murder, cut to commercial, “buy the Acura”, “buy the Colgate”, if you have bad breath they’re not going to talk to you, if you have pimples, the girl’s not going to fuck you, and it’s just this campaign of fear, and consumption, and that’s what I think it’s all based on, the whole idea of ‘keep everyone afraid, and they’ll consume.”

The Christian Rebuttal

The real genius-work behind this big façade is the connection with Christianity. This too, stems from fear. We tell our children that if you are good, then you will spend eternity in the clouds with a nice guy, or, if you are bad you will burn in fire with a man with horns. We decide to instill this into our children’s minds when they are impressionable, that way they believe it is true. In connection with Christmas, they are told that if they are good, that a man from the North Pole will fly his reindeer all over the world in less than 24 hours and deliver presents to them.

It is a way to control children by manipulation. It is a cycle that continues from generation to generation. Then your kids go to school, and those that do not participate in this lie will not receive presents, and become the outcasts. So the pressure is put on them by their peers, it is put on by television, and it is put on by society, and by this so called “Christian nation.” They will say,

“What you don’t believe in Jesus? You don’t want to celebrate this man who preached love and acceptance? What kind of person are you?”

My answer is No. Your god is dead. He has to be, in order for us to move forward. This version of God has done more harm than good. This fairy tale version of God has caused fear in children, it has caused wars to be fought, and has caused many secrets which lead to shame. It has caused the manipulation of generations and it is all celebrated on this day. So this version of God needs to die.

As George Carline once eloquently stated:

“Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it, religion has actually convinced people that there’s an INVISIBLE MAN…LIVING IN THE SKY…who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten special things that he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time…but he loves you.”

“He loves you and HE NEEDS MONEY. He always needs money! He is all powerful, all perfect, all knowing, and all wise. Somehow he just can’t handle money! Religions take in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more.”

Many of the patrons inside the church that stand so faithfully behind their religion that stands for unconditional love and kindness, are the same ones that walk out the church and instantly abandon these teachings. The same people who complain about the poor receiving “handouts” are part of a church that can build a million dollar church without paying a dime in taxes while the poor go on without food or shelter.

In June of 2013, newly appointed pastor of Sango United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, reverend Willie Lyle spent four days disguised as a homeless man living on the streets. He wanted to see what it was like to truly live without anything and see who would offer food and assistance. Then, he transformed back into the role as pastor while delivering his sermon and addressed the congregation:

“Too many of us want to serve God one hour each week. That doesn’t cut it. That is not God’s plan.”

Similarly in November of 2013, Mormon bishop David Musselman did a similar experiment by posing as a homeless man outside a Taylorsville, Utah church one Sunday morning. At least five people asked him to leave the church property, some offered money, and some were indifferent. He addressed the congregation stating that his point was not to be so quick to judge one another.

“Many actually went out of their way to purposely ignore me, and they wouldn’t even make eye contact,” he said, “I’d approach them and say, ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ Many of them I wouldn’t ask for any food or any kind of money, and their inability to even acknowledge me was very surprising.”

Saving Christmas

Spending my Black Friday in this small town it occurred to me how I am forced to conform. It is impossible for me to neglect Christmas; for if I were to not purchase my children presents then they would feel that I do not love them. I was really struggling with this as I pulled up to the gas station and noticed an elderly woman carrying a few turkeys and other groceries in a pull cart. At the time, I thought nothing of the lady or this scene.

However, it did allow me to reflect on some of my religious upbringings from the past. While people literally would put on their “Sunday Best” before walking into church to bow, chant, hug, and love each other; we were really just putting on an show for each other. We all put on our masks and went through the routines. Once walking out of the church, if we were to see an elderly woman such as this, we would be told not to do anything because they were likely trying to scam us out of money, abduct us, or kill us.

This is how extreme the fear-based society has become. We are guided with fear, rather than love; which creates separation, as opposed to our natural instinctual reaction to connect.

This is where spirituality differs from religion. Spirituality is about finding a connection to the world outside of ourselves, finding a sense of purpose and meaning, and living in harmony in the present moment with our surroundings. Spirituality teaches us that we are all one interconnected being and that at our true core there is only unconditional love.

Religion is a type of spirituality. It is meant to offer all of the above. In fact, if you look into the basic teachings of all religions, you will find this exact same message. However, as these messages get misinterpreted throughout the years we have received the opposite message. Religion starts to create separation and judgment which is the opposite of its intent – much like Christmas.

As explained by Don Migeul Ruiz:

There is an old story from India about the God, Brahma, who was alone. Nothing existed but Brahma, and he was completely bored. Brahma decided to play a game, but there was no one to play the game with. So he created a beautiful goddess, Maya, just for the purpose of having fun. Once Maya existed and Brahma told her the purpose of her existence, she said, &Okay, let’s play the most wonderful game, but you do what I tell you to do.& Brahma agreed and following Maya’s instructions, he created the whole universe, the sun and the stars, the moon and the planets. He created life on earth: the animals, the oceans, the atmosphere, everything.

Maya said, &How beautiful is this world of illusion you created. Now I want you to create an animal that is so intelligent and aware that it can appreciate your own creation.& Finally Brahma created humans, and after he finished the creation, he asked Maya when the game was going to start.

&We will start right now,& she said. She took Brahma and cut him into thousands of teeny, tiny pieces. She put a piece inside every human and said, &Now the game begins! I am going to make you forget what you are, and you are going to try and find yourself!& Maya created the Dream and still, even today, Brahma is trying to remember who he is. When you awake from the Dream, you become Brahma again and reclaim your divinity. You now know the trick of Maya and can share the truth with others who are going to wake up too.

This story explains how we are to find ourselves, and find God, in every person we encounter. We don’t do this buy purchasing items at a store, but by helping those in need, and showing unconditional love to each soul we encounter.

As all these thoughts were going through my mind, my friend comes out of the store and starts speaking with the elderly woman. As they continue to chat, I got out of the car to see what was going on. As I approached them, I noticed the woman’s wheel on her pull cart was missing.

“We are giving her a ride home,” my friend told me without asking. She never hesitated, she saw an opportunity and did the right thing without thinking or judging.

We packed her bags into the car and drove her about another mile to her house. It was a very cold day and her bags were awfully heavy. There is no way she would have been able to make it that far on her own. Many people saw her, but no one did anything, which was probably all based out of fear. Fear of a disabled, elderly woman on Thanksgiving.

I was overcome with emotion, and was told by my friend not to talk about it. She said “that is just what we should do, so I do it.”

I thought that is so true and so simple. We should do what we should do. Yet, no one seems to do this and I am not excluding myself. This is the difference between being guided by fear, as opposed to love. As John Lennon said:

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from lie. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

This is the real meaning of life. This is the real meaning of Christmas. To help, to give, to be with others and to love unconditionally. It doesn’t have to be some big act.

“People who move mountains begin by carrying away small stones.”

Christmas and life is about helping the elderly lady. It is about loving each other on a daily basis. It is about calling your parents, family, and friends and just being there for anyone and everyone. If we treated everyone like they were a piece of God, maybe then we would realize behave differently.

It doesn’t matter what we call our God, it is all the same. It is similar to the story of nine blind men that were all reaching out and touching an elephant. Each of the men were touching a different part of the elephant and describing what they felt. One is touching the elephant’s leg and says “it is a tree”; another is touching its tail and says “it is a rope”; another is touching its trunk and says “it is a snake”; another it touching a tusk and says “It is a spear”; another is touching its body and says “it is a wall”. However, they are all touching the same elephant. Imagine if they all fought and killed each other over this argument. How silly that would be? They are all blind, and they are all right. But they are fighting over their perspective.

The same way we fight wars over who is right about religion. Is it possible we are all right? And we are all wrong?

We are told we need this God in our lives to survive. But, in essences, it is the opposite. For it is this created God that is leading us to killing each other, phony holidays, and self-hatred and destruction. This holiday symbolizes all of the above. In order to survive, we need to remove the mask of God and remove the mask of Christmas.

How the Grinch Saved Christmas

While we like to claim the Grinch stole Christmas, it is clear he did the opposite. He saw the true meaning of Christmas and put an end to the charade. While his means were extreme, by stealing all the presents; he learned that the real meaning of Christmas had nothing to do with exchanging gifts, but exchanging love.

The Grinch was not the bad guy. The Grinch was a revolutionary but was misguided with fear, which led to his acts. But once all the gifts were gone, the masks were removed, everyone lived together in harmony.

For it is Wall Street, Corporations, and organized religions that “stole” Christmas by hijacking the holiday and changing the meaning. It comes from St. Nicholas who gave up all material wealth to help those in need. Yet, after the title was stolen it has turned into a celebration of consumerism and greed.

We need the Grinch to steal back this holiday to help us remember the true meaning.

image

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needed without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

Steven Colbert

Waking Times Facebook Page here: Waking Times Facebook Page

By Irwin Ozborne

In a small Middle-Eastern town, the community had been under the rule of a harsh dictator for nearly four decades. He would use force to execute his own citizens, family, children, and wives, if they were to threaten his regime. The dictator was part of a puppet government installed by a larger empire which looked to control and manipulate all of the land.

One day, in fear of a takeover, he ordered his secret militia police to carry out mass executions of every infant boy under the age of two years old. It was not uncommon under his rule to carry out such atrocious acts to spread fear of his people.

As his secret police were “just following orders,” one of the families was able to flee the country and seek refuge in a foreign land.

This is the story of Jesus and the Christmas Holiday – it is a story about a Middle-Eastern refugee family trying to escape persecution and terror in their homeland.

The story continues with the dictator dying and handing over his kingdom to one of his son’s who would create even more terrorism and persecution. This left the refugee family to return to their hometown of Nazareth, which was under different rulers at the time.

Jesus began preaching at age 32 and spoke of love, compassion, and helping those in need. Whether or not you believe in the story of Jesus, are an atheist, believe it is all symbolism, or have no opinion on the matter – you cannot deny that the teachings stood for togetherness, connection, and love for humanity.

He spoke about helping the poor, was against material possessions, and spent most his time with the lepers, prostitutes, and those shunned by society. He told us to forgive each other, to return hatred with love, anti-violence, and was anti-imperialism. Simply, it was about love, forgiveness, acceptance, and social justice.

This is the foundation of Christianity – the teachings of Christ.

But, it doesn’t take too long to discover that a large portion of modern “Christians” seem to have this backwards. They hide behind the Bible, recite scripture, and then are openly racist, discriminatory, judgmental, and self-serving.

Most of these extremists belong to the Republican Party. Now, most Christians are very good people and do follow the teachings of Christ for the most part. Also, most Republicans are good people who believe what they feel is right for “their” country. However, their beliefs do not align with the teachings of Christ. The Republican beliefs are actually anti-Christian – could that be referred to as anti-Christ?

In the same way that Radical Islam does not in any way resemble Islam; neither does Radical Christianity resemble the teachings of Christ.

Let’s be honest. If Jesus was born thirty years ago, Fox News and the Republican Party would label him a dangerous Middle Eastern man who wants to impose socialism on the world and enable the poor.

The Story of Republican Jesus

While they love Jesus, they seem to have made their own interpretation along the way. The Republican Party of the United States of America has created a new figure, Republican Jesus.

Republican Jesus, despite being born in the Middle-East, is a white man. Republican Jesus also openly hates homosexuals, believes that helping the poor encourages them to be lazy, handouts should be reserved for Churches and Corporations, and gave his sermons from million-dollar megachurches which were sponsored by oil companies and arms manufacturers – because Republican Jesus loves guns.

He also completely opposes abortion, because killing is wrong.

However, once the baby is born he opposes any government programs such as welfare, food stamps, free lunch, and public housing assistance. Because, you see, killing is wrong but once they are born they are on their own. Then, allowing a slow, miserable existence is perfectly acceptable for those born in poverty. And if we cannot profit off them, we will simply arrest them and put them in our concentration camps (err..private prisons) and get free slave labor for our corporations – which get tax benefits for all the good they provide.

The distinction between Biblical Jesus and Republican Jesus must have came around the 1960s during Jesus’ hippy days of believing that loving the poor and those in need was a good idea. Until he realized that big money, profits, and using violence was the way to heaven.

During his days of preaching, while leaving Jericho, two blind men approached Republican Jesus and shouted, “Lord have mercy on us!”

“What do you want me to do for you,” he asked.

“Lord,” they asked, “we want our sight.”

“What is thy insurance coverage plan?” asked Republican Jesus.

“Insurance?” they asked, “What is that?”

“You have no health insurance?” Republican Jesus laughed, “Well we cannot issue free health insurance to everyone or that would hurt the market. I cannot help you without coverage.”

“How do we get insurance Lord?” they asked.

“Well, you have a pre-existing condition,” Republican Jesus responded, “So you will not likely find any coverage. Perhaps you should get a job and earn some money like the rest of us.”

Republican Jesus and his disciples soon created a commercial fishing empire in which they held a monopoly over the industry. They came before a hungry crown with their trucks of fish and bread. As the people came up to him, he realized that if he were to feed them all it would only create dependency.

Later, Republican Jesus explained that when the Son of Man comes in his glory he will separate the people from one another as the shepherd separates the sheep from goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. He will look to those on his right and say:

“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. You were hungry and thirsty, so I eliminated free meals and food banks. You were a stranger, so I vilified you and demanded that you were deported. You were naked, so I assumed you were an evil liberal who hates conservative values. You were sick, so I repealed your only hope for healthcare. You were in prison, so I tortured you.”

Biblical Jesus was a dangerous foreign-born socialist who had a way of speaking with the masses and cause social reform among the lower class. You know, the same thing that happened in places like Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iran, Philippines, Congo, Cuba, etc. This is a huge threat to Republican Jesus and his love for corporations that profit off stealing resources from the poor. Republican Jesus loves money, war, and social inequality.

As John Fugelsang puts it:

“Jesus was a radical nonviolent revolutionary who hung out with lepers, hookers, and crooks. Wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, and anti-public prayer. But he was never ant-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a copay. He was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut shaming, Middle Eastern Jew.”

All Lives Matter

All Lives Matter! Right!?

Great! Because there are a large number of innocent Syrian men, women, and children that are currently hiding in a living hell in their homeland. They are facing persecution, daily terror, and never know which breath will be their last.

With all the resources available in our country, why don’t we open the doors and help these poor souls? Because All Lives Matter, right?

If you are not willing to open the doors, then it would be fair to say that all lives do not matter equally.

While we truly understand that “All Lives Matter”; we are deciding to focus on the ones that are being discriminated against and killed. The premise behind “Black Lives Matter” is that there is an implied “too” at the end. We are not saying white lives do not matter, but that has never been the subject of a human rights violation, genocide, of social injustice. It would be as if a firefighter showed up to a burning house, but decided to put water on the home next door because “All Homes Matter.”

These incidents in Paris have shown again that we seem to imply that only White Lives Matter. We have rushed in to send prayers, change our profile pictures, and share our support against Terrorism. Which is great! We should do so to fight the good fight.

But, where was this on the same day when 41 civilians were killed and another 200 injured on the same day in Beirut? Do Lebanese Lives matter? Or what about the 19 Iraqi citizens that were leaving a mosque when a bomb went off and ended their lives? I did not even see it mentioned in the news, which would indicate that their lives are not as important as those of the French people. A week before the Paris attacks, there was a car bomb and a shooting at a hotel in Somalia but no one blinked an eye. In October there was a bomb that claimed the lives of 224 civilians on a passenger jet, a suicide bomber blew up 22 Pakistani civilians, a bomb at a mosque in Nigeria killed 42 other innocent people, and there was a suicide bomber that killed 102 people in Turkey that were attending a peace rally.

You see, if these things did get media coverage, I do believe that there would be public response asking for action to take place. This is what ended the Vietnam War. We put cameras out there and the public saw the atrocities being carried out, including the iconic photo of the young girl running scared for her life after napalm had just been scattered on her village.

And the story continues after the Paris attacks. Within the last week, there was a bombing at a farmers market in Nigeria that killed 34 people. The next day, at a different town in Nigeria, a suicide attack took another 15 lives. The other day, a hostage taking and shooting at hotel in Mali took 27 more lives, then a suicide bombing outside a mosque in Iraq ended another nine lives and injuring forty-seven.

Without one report of any of these on any major network news, it would be fair to say that All Lives Do Not Matter.

This is why there are movements such as “Black Lives Matter” because clearly we do not see that this is happening every day and the only time we offer prayers and support is when white lives are at risk. Therefore, public relations campaigns need to be put in place to remind us that “Black Lives Matter” because clearly it is not very well understood.

Yet, somehow this gets turned into reverse racism by suggesting that white lives do not matter. It is the same as people crying for White History Month. Do you not see that you are the oppressor? It was only fifty years ago that African-Americans were demanding equal rights in a country in which you abducted their ancestors and enslaved them to build your country on stolen Native American land. Spend a day in the shoes of a minority, those being oppressed, a Syrian family, and then remind us how this is a racist movement and that we need to embrace that “White Lives Matter.”

What makes us so different? Because we were born here? You did nothing to become an American. You were born here, so why should you benefit from freedom as opposed to someone who happens to be born in an area in which they are fighting for their lives the day they are born?

If you are going to pray for France, maybe you should also be praying for Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Nigeria, Chad, Turkey, Pakistan, Kenya, Israel, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Cameroon, Syria, Libya, Niger, Mali, Tunisia, Macedonia, India, Tunisia, Thailand, Philippines, Ukraine, China, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh as well.

Because if “All Lives” truly matter to you, start showing with actions rather than words.

War Profiteering:

I already know many responses – “See, if there are so many suicide bombers, we cannot trust any of them.” Or one of the most ignorant comments I have seen in quite some time, “If I gave you 10 skittles and you knew that two were poisonous and would kill you, would you take any of them?”

This skittles comment is insinuating that twenty percent of Muslims, or more specifically Syrian refugees, are going to be terrorists. This is media manipulation. In fact, the entire thing is media manipulation.

I do believe that most people are good people and that they want to live safely for themselves and in harmony with others. The media controls the minds of the masses. They show us the evil terrorists killed people in Paris and now we are jumping on board to support our French brothers and sisters. We have public support to drop bombs over Syria or “kill all the Muslims.”

Islam has more than 1.57 billion adherents, or 23-percent of the world’s population. CNN put together an article which lists all the Islamic terrorist organizations and estimates that 106,000 individuals are members of those organizations. Using this math, it would mean that 0.00006625 percent of Muslims are extremists – yet the Western Media would leave you to believe (and some conservative politicians) that number is closer to twenty percent.

But, what about our own domestic terrorism in the past ten years? Who is carrying out all the domestic acts of terror here? In October it was a white person killing 10 college students in Oregon; In June a white teenager killed nine African-Americans in a church; in 2012 there were attacks at a movie theatre and elementary school – both by white men in their early 20s; or the Oklahoma City Bombing and Waco, Texas incidents in the 1990s by older white men. Using the same logic, we could conclude that all white people are domestic terrorists.

But, who is the biggest winner off the bombings in France? The war-profiteers! Those who have investments in the arms manufacturers like Raytheon (3.93% increase since attacks), Lockheed Martin (4.24% increase), Northrop Grumman (3.9% increase), AVAV (4.49% increase), BAE Systems (4.52% increase) and Thales (7.75% increase), have already seen stocks rise since the Paris attacks.

The people with stock in these companies are the same members of Congress who decide if/when we go to war. The more the public says “We hate Muslims, let’s go to War, let’s kill them all.” Then the more these manufacturers make weapons and the elite profit.

Religion and Politics:

When I was younger, I was always told not to talk about religion and politics because it stirs up too many emotions and causes too much conflict. But, there is nothing in the world that causes more problems of separation than religion and politics. Every war is a result of one of these two and if we don’t talk about it, it will never end.

To label one person and good and the other as bad is ludicrous. Look at two infants or toddlers, they know nothing but love. Nobody is born evil, or with hate. They only are victims of misguided love and fear. As we grow, we give ourselves these labels of white/black/Asian/Mexican, or Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Buddhist. Then we go further and create these imaginary lines to further separate us and give ourselves a flag and call ourselves Americans / Egyptians / Germans / Russians / Chinese, etc.

After we create this separation, we attach to these labels and cling to them and soon believe that we are these labels. We fight, defend, die, and kill to protect these labels that are meaningless.

It gets so far away from the original message that we forget that the teachings of Christ, Mohammad, Abraham, Buddha, or Confucius are all the same. They require unconditional love for our fellow human and interconnection with all things.

Unconditional love means without condition. To say that “All Lives Matter” that is implying everyone, without condition. Yet, our fellow brothers and sisters from Syria are struggling and fighting for their lives and we decide that we are going to close our artificial border

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“If you touch the phenomenal realm deeply, you touch the ultimate realm. The ultimate is Nirvana, it is God, and it is available to us 24 hours a day.”  -Thich Naht Hahn

By Cortland Pfeffer

When Irwin Ozborne and I met in early recovery, we discovered we both loved baseball and began coaching as a sober activity that allowed us to try to give back to the community.

We have coached baseball together for many years. One year of the many, sticks out. It is the year we met Jonah.

The team was from a small and well off community. We usually coached the poor communities to try and give back. The cities that had no money, and no resources. This year we were recruited by an old friend to coach this wealthy community, the challenge was that they were small and moving up to play all the big schools. No community this small had ever done this successfully, so the challenge was intriguing.

We reluctantly accepted this challenge, thinking that these rich community kids have everything.

We thought, “this won’t be fun, these guys have it all figured out.”

Boy were we wrong. We found out they were much sicker, they only masked it better. As it turns out, money can buy you a nice fancy mask that is hard to uncover.

We walked into the first practice, the kids were still just kids. No different. They did not see money. This is always true of kids, they have not been domesticated yet.

We were told of one particular kid on the team, Jonah, who was the best player by everyone’s account.

We get to the first practice and do the normal speech regarding who we are and what the season will be like.

When we were talking, Jonah seemed to space out. Was he not paying attention? Did he think he knew everything? He is the star player we were told, so we wondered what this was about.

Then we start practicing and he is awful. He is dropping balls. We were thinking, is this the same kid everyone told us was so amazing?

Yes it was.

So we start playing games, and we have him in the lineup because everyone else knows him better, and assures us he will be amazing. He drops balls, strikes out, makes mistakes constantly, and costs us a few games.

One game in particular, he is in tears running off the field in embarrassment, no one is able to console him and he runs off into the old rink at the field and will not move from it for about 6 hours after the game.

At this point we needed to find out what is happening as this appears to be more than just a baseball issue. We talk to him, and he tells us that his parents are divorcing, he is scared and confused. He has to take sides. It is a chaotic environment in his house.

It would be best described as putting a rat in a maze and starting the maze on fire. How would you expect that rat to behave?

We decide to talk to his parents about what is going on as this kid is struggling. They confirm what he has said, they are divorcing and it has been a bit chaotic. His parents are both emotional people, and you can tell this has become an issue as they fight in front of us and try to get us coaches to take sides.

Jonah’s Dad was a great baseball player in his day and knows a lot about it. You can hear him screaming at us during the games about coaching decisions. His Dad is also screaming at the umpires. You can hear his Grandpa screaming at us as well. They watch our practices and attack us verbally, even as we practice.

They love their baseball. They are great people, as we have gotten to know them well over the years now, and still talk to them today. They were good people in a rough situation that year.

His mother was kicked out of a few of our games for screaming as well. She went out of her way to attack Jonah’s Dad in front of us and the other parents. If they did it in public, you can imagine what would happen at home.

During the meeting with the family, they told us important information. Jonah not only was struggling in baseball, but he had been struggling in school this year. So they had taken him to the doctor before baseball season and he was diagnosed with ADHD and placed on Ritalin.

As the season continues, Jonah struggles and is spaced out. It is heartbreaking to watch. He is losing friends, and he is losing his purpose.

He is the rat in the maze with fire.

We of course being the way we are, show up 3 hours ahead of game time and prepare for games. After a while, we noticed something, Jonah would notice how early we were, and he would start showing up early every single game. He was there an hour before practices and 3 hours before games.

He loved the game so much, but also, his parents didn’t want to deal with him and he did not want to be in the maze on fire as well. The medication wasn’t enough to slow him down, so they had dropped him off as early as they could.

I remember one pre-game Jonah crying to us, he said, “coach, this team is my family now, and it is the most important thing in the world to me.”

He didn’t care that we had benched him. At this point we could not have him play much, as the team was getting close to qualifying for the state tournament, something that no team from this city had ever done. Jonah still showed up, played when he could, and cheered on his teammates. He became the teams emotional leader, He cracked jokes, he was happy when he was at the field. He was energetic and it was contagious.

Eventually, things started to cool down at home and he was with his Dad for the end of the summer. As things stabilized at home. Jonah started to perform better. We started to have him play more as his confidence gained. He never became the player we had heard of, but he was not dropping the balls and his focus was better.

We had made it to the big tournament to qualify for state. Everyone was there from the city. They were trying to be the first group from this town to ever make it. It was loud and a lot of great teams were there trying to qualify. It was unusually cold and rainy. The energy was amazing.

We had to win the last game to make it. We had run out of arms to pitch. The kids were tired, the parents were tense. We could have all the pitchers pitch about 2 innings each and try to win that way.

We had a meeting with the assistant coaches. We said “how about we let Jonah pitch?”

The response was “so we are trying to lose now?” ‘

Or “It will ruin all the kids’ lives. You are going to embarrass him more than he already has embarrassed himself and his family.” or…

“He is a trouble maker and he will embarrass the city. He was only good when it was not against these good teams, look at how he behaves. You cannot be rewarding his behavior.”

It was a resounding NO from everyone.

We decided we were going to do it anyways. We pulled Jonah aside, who had not pitched all year long and it never was even a thought.

We said, “Jonah, how do you feel about pitching the final game?”

His eyes got wide open, his smile was the biggest I have ever seen still to this day. His eyebrows popped up. It was the most happy I think I have ever seen a human being.

“Really coach? I will shut them down. This is awesome.” He gave us both huge hugs.

We did not care at this point what happened and if we got run out of there by a mob of angry parents. It did not matter to us anymore. We were set on this now. We went to tell everyone the news.

It was worse than you can imagine. The parents were up in arms, they were yelling, and cursing.  They were verbally aggressive and right in front of Jonah. It was sad, pathetic, and the moment we decided not to ever coach these guys again. The parents were too sick. They were like a mob ready to kill us. They were talking about how bad this kid is right in front of him and their kids. So THEY could WIN a baseball game.

The kids look bewildered and were all watching their parents. This is who is going to guide them the rest of their lives. Parents who were so obsessed with winning at all costs that they had turned into animals.

However, in the background you could see the look on Jonah’s Dad’s face and it was the same as his son. He was proud. They had a rough summer, his Dad had become the outcast of the parents group. He sat by himself now as they called his Dad “crazy,” and “Schizophrenic.” He was isolated.

His Dad still yelled at us from afar, but he was usually right. We enjoyed it because we knew where his heart was at. We learned to appreciate the yelling, he had great baseball knowledge. So we knew if he wasn’t yelling, we really were doing well.

The big game begins as the parents and community had turned on us in a second because we had ruined their dream in their eyes.

But something else happened, the other kids loved how much Jonah had cheered them on during the season. He was their once best player and was struggling. He still showed up every day. He still cracked jokes. He still hugged them when they made a bad play. They saw true leadership in him, and so did I.

The other kids couldn’t quite comprehend what was going on in Jonah’s life, but they saw the yelling, and they saw the chaos. They also saw Jonah crying and scared. They all were as excited as he was to watch him pitch finally, as he had been begging us all year. They were more pumped up than anything to play. They were all screaming and jumping up and down.

Some of the parents came to the bench and said to their “be quiet, you are embarrassing the community.”

But they could not come in the bench.

So Irwin said to the kids on our team, “You get told to be quiet everywhere you go, school, home, church, and you just want to yell. So go ahead, yell, and play like animals. No one is going to tell you to stop today.” He had given them the ok to be kids.

The team we were playing was one of the better teams in the state. We knew we were going to lose. But we also knew we were not coaching this community again after this, and we saw what this whole thing was really about, so we didn’t care either. It was a bench full of kids and us, with our masks all off at once.

If there truly is a heaven, or nirvana, that’s what it is like, no masks, no negative feelings, no man made problems, pure unstoppable love and energy at its full force.

We all have moments that we see this piece of nirvana, or heaven on earth, this was one of those moments.

Jonah took the mound. The first batter crushed the ball as we all expected, no one cared except the parents. The ball was flying long in the air, our center fielder ran and ran, and there was no way he was going to get to it. But he sure was trying. The energy and love had infected him. We looked at each other and laughed, “This will be fun. I hope we don’t lose by 20.” But it was the happiest the kids had been all season.

He dove all out and as he stood up he had the ball in his glove! We didn’t see it, but we heard the screaming and turned around. We could not believe it! Both our mouths opened at once. The whole team went crazy!

Jonah pumped his fist against his glove, smiled, and pointed at us.

The next hitter hit a line drive towards the 3rd basemen who dove, and grabbed the ball. Then an amazing thing happened. Jonah, with his new confidence, struck out the next hitter. The team was so happy for Jonah. After that first inning they all were running and jumping towards us. They got to the bench and all were hugging him and screaming. We looked at each other and didn’t say a word. We knew we were going to win. We didn’t have to speak it.

When you experience heaven, or nirvana with someone else, you do not have to speak, you just feel it. We both knew what we were experiencing, a thing like this bonds you for life with someone.

The kids on our team were all diving all over the place like they never had before. The other team was crushing the ball off of him all day. But it did not matter. If we played this team 100 times, they would have beaten us. But not today. Not on this Sunday. This was Jonah’s day.

The parents rolled their eyes, and acted disgusted. They were hoping we lost. Saying “He can’t keep this up.”

But it wasn’t just him, it was all of us. We all were in on this. That is where they were wrong.

It was the best team effort of the year. They all knew how important this was to Jonah and they showed it. He did not pitch well. But well enough. The team made play after play. Then as the game went on. Jonah gained confidence and started becoming the old Jonah, the one not in the maze, the one with his mask off. By the end, he was the player we had been told about.

I think he had been forced to wear a mask earlier than the other kids. So they saw it, then they saw it come off on this Sunday.

But this other team was great and it was a big city that had always gone to state. This was a major upset for us to even be there. They had their best pitcher on the mound. It was 0-0 after the top of the last inning.

We went in to the bottom of the last inning tied 0-0. There was 2 outs. Jonah stepped up to the plate.

He had maybe 2 hits all year. The first 2 pitches came from a kid who is now in the minor leagues, the ball zipped right by Jonah, 0 balls 2 strikes. No one could come close to hitting it off of this kid all game. He was the best pitcher we had ever seen.

On the next pitch, another fastball, and Jonah hits the ball. It is high in the air, and it is far. It keeps going, the kids all get up off the bench. They all start looking, and screaming. The parents are looking. Jonah’s Dad is over the fence where he always sits trying to make the ball come over with his hand gestures. It fly’s and fly’s, and then it goes over the fence!!

The kids are jumping up and down screaming. The parents are doing the same. Everyone is in complete shock that was not inside the bench of nirvana.

We are going to the state tournament!

Jonah has led us there. On this day, out of the maze on fire, Jonah has done something no one thought he could.

I watch him round first base and slap Irwin’s hand, I look at his face, at the crowd, at the rain, at the clouds, at his Dad, at his Grandpa, and I am in tears coaching 3rd base waiting for Jonah to get to me. I am crying as I write this, remembering the look on his face as he came to me.

He comes to me and slaps my hand, he holds it tight, and I am in tears, I say “I love you Jonah, you did it, and we did it!!”

The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was running, screaming and hugging in the cold, windy rain. We all forgot it was raining outside. That’s what Nirvana does, everything else goes away.

The energy finally died down.

We went up to his dad. We talked for an hour.

Then as we are ending the conversation, he said “thank you for giving him the chance, it has been a rough year. He needed someone to believe in him.”

We said, “those meds really started to kick in after a while I guess. Those ADHD meds you had him on.”

His Dad, you know, the “crazy” one, said, “What? I had him for the end of the summer, I took him off that stuff about a month ago. I don’t care what anyone says, he is not sick, he is just a boy going through a rough time.

A few years ago Jonah was named an all state athlete in 2 sports, in our state. He is going to college on a full scholarship.

He never took ADHD meds again.

Our kids take their emotional cues from us, maybe it should be the other way around.

Thank you for Nirvana Jonah.

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“Make no mistake about it – Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or becoming happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It is seeing through the façade of pretense. It is the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

 Adyashanti

By Irwin Ozborne

Dreams are one of the most fascinating aspects of the human experience. For thousands of years, the dream state has puzzled the greatest minds in human history. What are dreams? Why do we dream? What do they mean?

We still do not have all the answers to these questions. But, what we do know is that when we go to sleep our conscious mind shuts down to rest and restore, while our subconscious mind is highly active. One of the wonders of the dreaming state is that everything, as bizarre as it might be, appears to be completely real throughout the dream. Once we wake up, we look back at the dream and think, “Wow that was crazy! But it seemed so real!”

Sometimes the dream scares us to the point that we wake up on our own out of fear, or out of a last resort to save ourselves from the nightmare. There are other times where the dream is magical, and far supersedes the reality of our waking world, before we are frustratingly woken up by the dreaded sound of the alarm clock. Either way, the dream is over and we know that it was all an illusion.

It has been repeatedly proven by quantum physics that the world we live in is actually more of an illusion, or a dream. In fact the quantum theories have been tested more than just about any other theory in the history of science, and always come back to be true. So, if the reality that we perceive to be true is actually an illusion and the entire world is actually sleeping, how can they be woken up?

The same way we wake from our sleep every night…by the sound of the alarm clock.

It was my junior year of college; I remember being stuck in some psychology class watching a boring video which gave me a chance to sleep off my hangover from the night before. The kid in front of me had tuned out and was listening to the radio through some headphones and nodding in-and-out of wakefulness.

Then suddenly he pops his head up and says out loud, “A plane just hit the World Trade Center.”

“What is the World Trade Center?” was my thought that I kept to myself. I’ve heard of it, but I have no clue what or where it exists. The teacher tells everyone to calm down and stay focused on the video for class.

“Another plane just hit the other Twin Tower,” the kid says out loud again which creates some commotion. “It is like Pearl Harbor out there.”

“Nothing will ever be like Pearl Harbor,” the teacher ensures the class. But it is a little too late, there is something truly bizarre happening today. I feel everything in my body trembling as I could not even fathom that the “good guys” were under attack. All the “freedom” propaganda was being threatened, and for the first time in my life I thought that the “greatest country on earth,” might not be so.

The university was closed and the students were sent home immediately after a plane had struck the Pentagon. The overwhelming consensus was that hijacked planes were going to strike landmarks across America throughout the day and people had to take cover.

Every media outlet on the globe had live coverage of the greatest attack on American soil, and we watched innocent people lose their lives. We watched people covered in blood, running for their life, trapped in the rubble, and terrified of what might come next.

Then, I’ll never forget as they showed these young Palestinian children dancing in the street and celebrating the attack while burning an American flag. “Why do they hate us?” is all I could think. I felt confused, sad, and then of course intense anger and rage. “How could they do this to us? We are the good guys!”

This was the alarm clock of human consciousness.

The western world had been sleeping to the way the rest of the world was living along with the atrocities carried out by the United States Government and everything was about to be exposed. While I would never condone or support whoever is responsible for the systematic killing of another human, but this is the moment that the world woke up. It took a dramatic, diabolical event to help the west understand the east.

“Where is Palestine? I’ve never heard of it,” I asked my friends. Later they shifted blame to a guy named Osama Bin Laden who was stationed in Afghanistan. Where is Afghanistan? Why are they messing with us? It absolutely blindsided most American people as to why would this part of the world be so happy to watch us suffer.

After a few weeks went by, my anger subsided but the confusion still existed. Why do they hate us? That is all I could ask. There needs to be some explanation. It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone.

I started to research Palestine and see their side to the story. Soon, I began to understand that their homeland had been invaded and they were being pushed aside which had been supported by the west. I had no idea about any of this. Where was this in the history books?  But still, why do they hate us? What do they mean by “the Americans are the real terrorists?” Where are they coming up with these false claims?

A few years later, documentaries like Loose Change surfaced and the 911-Truthers started investigating everything about the event. I became obsessed with these conspiracy theories and they all seemed to be more believable than the official reports. I showed them to everyone, only to get mocked and ridiculed.

“I thought you were smarter than that,” is what I was told. This prevented me from digging any further, which just left me in a state of confusion. What is the truth?

I am not alone.

In order for global enlightenment to take place, it requires the destruction of everything we have been told to be true. This moment was the moment in which the world started to question everything. We started questioning governments, laws, religion, the media, teachers, doctors, and everything written in history books.

In the year 2015, less than half the people in America believe the official 911 Commission to be true. In a global poll of 16,000 random citizens of 17 different countries, only nine of the 17 countries attribute the attacks to Al Queda. There is still no answer to why WTC Building 7 collapsed, and the government refuses to address this issue. It is similar to the Kennedy Assassination in 1963. Immediately, everyone was angry and went along with the “lone nut” theory that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three bullets that left seven wounds. The “magic bullet” theory of 1963 states that one bullet created five wounds in two different people and then came out completely unmarked. It is just as ludicrous as the WTC Building 7 theory of 2001, without ever being hit by a plane and collapsing at free fall speed.

This has led to other nations questioning what their governments tell them. In 2011, the people of Iceland revolted and overthrew their government.  In 2012, the Arab Spring saw many governments topple due to the demand of their people refusing to be ruled by oppressive dictators.

More people in the west are turning to ancient forms of spirituality which center around oneness, connection, love, and peace. It is much like the counterculture of the 1960s in which the students hit the streets and demanded peace by protesting the Vietnam War on every campus across the nation. The younger generation rebelled as they understood that freedom comes from within, it is not a slogan that your government tells you to be true.

One of the queens of the 1960s, Janis Joplin told us, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” It is truly the only way to be free, is to lose everything you know to be true, and to awaken the inner child. We come into this world with a clean slate, free, loving everyone and everything, with wonder and awe for everything around us. As each day goes by, this freedom is taken from us unintentionally. We are told what to wear, how to talk, how to behave, and we create separation. A child can still be walking down the street and wave to a stranger, ask questions, sing, dance, or just ask another child to be their friend without any embarrassment, guilt, or remorse. When an adult does the same, the instinctual reaction is “what is wrong with this person?”

We have been domesticated, trained to think a certain way, told what to believe, and convinced it is all true. We are born pure, then we put on a mask for protection from the world. We then cling to the mask, believe the mask is to be true, and it becomes harder and harder to remove the mask.

While the mask may make us feel safe, it is destroying us as individuals and as a society. And we will never be truly free, never be able to truly love, connect, and live in harmony, until we realize the mask is not true and we are able to take the mask off.

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People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

  • Mother Teresa

By Irwin Ozborne contributing writer to TTMO

There are no coincidences in life. A coincidence is defined as a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent connection or significant meaning. Again, these do not exist because all coincidences have meaning which is what Carl Jung defined as a synchronicity.

Synchronicities refer to the law of unity, that we are all linked through our unconscious. There is no separation between you, me, anyone, or anything. Any movement, no matter how small, will eventually be felt by us all.

Every interaction we have with others will trigger a chain reaction that impacts the universe. This can be small interactions that include a friendly smile to the clerk at the gas station, changing her day, which may make her smile at the next person, who treats his clients better, and they go along and feel better and pass along the chain of love to the next. It can also have enormous impacts on the world such as a woman in Montgomery, Alabama, refusing to give up her seat on a bus in 1955 which led to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Once we are aware of synchronicities, we start seeing them every day and with every moment, interaction, and movement. In fact, we see that not only are synchronicities true, but that they exist in every single moment. Everything is a synchronicity; every moment is changing the course of history for the world.

Yesterday, I had one of these that reminded me of how simple this works.

I had plans to meet up with someone at 9:00 p.m., and I was early so I stopped by my local gym to go for a quick 45 minute jog. Cardio has become a form of meditation for me and allows me to clear my mind and come up with new ideas. Currently, I had been struggling with how I can do more to give back to others and make a difference on the world. I was hoping that a quick cardio session would boost some creative juices and give me some ideas.

However, the universe had a greater plan in place. About seven minutes into my jog, the sole of my shoe had started to rip open and I could feel my big toe pressing against the moving rubber of the treadmill. Frustrated, I wanted to “fight through it,” but knew that it would only create much greater pain. I had no choice, but to end my session at this point. I didn’t feel like lifting, so I returned to my car to text my friend and see if we could meet earlier.

As I drove away from the gym, I was receiving about twenty texts and needed to pull over and see what was going on. Through the intersection, there is a Super America gas station on the left and a Walgreens pharmacy on the right. I come here often, and I would say 99 percent of the time I stop for a snack or anything that I always go to the gas station. I had every intent on going to the gas station today, in fact, had my left blinker on and there was a car behind me and it was clear to turn.

Just at this instant, it was if somebody grabbed hold of the wheel because I felt an incredibly strong urge to go to Walgreens suddenly. I switched my blinker to the right side and made a quick, sharp turn into the pharmacy so fast that my tires squealed which was quite embarrassing to say the least.

While I sat in my car responding to texts and in my own world, I continued to ask what I can do to give back and help the world. I grabbed a piece of paper and started making a list of the things I wanted to do to help volunteer, start new projects, or reach out to others. I came up with an incredible list and then just asked, “If only an opportunity would present itself to me.”

Then, opportunity knocked.

Literally, a knock on my passenger side glass startled me and I looked up. As I looked out the window, there was a middle-aged African-American man that had taken a good couple steps back from my car and had both his hands up as if to show me that he had no weapon and that he was not a threat. He had a sincere look of helplessness on his face and I almost wondered what my facial expression looked like to have him jump back a few steps. I rolled down the window and you could see everything in this man’s body language that he was in dire need.

“I am so very sorry,” the man stated with remorse in his eyes, “I really hate to bother you but I am in need of some help.”

“Sure what’s up?” I asked curiously.

“Do you know where Brooklyn Park is?” he asked, “It’s a long ass way from here. I came out here to help some people out and now I’m the one stuck here.”

Just to clarify, Brooklyn Park is a predominately black suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul area. I live in a predominately white suburb about an hour away from this man’s destination. I wasn’t sure what he needed at this time and just kept my window down and waiting for him to continue.

“This is so embarrassing, but I was out here helping someone out and I am just about out of gas,” he said with a shamed look in his face, “I have to make it all the way back to Brooklyn Park and I forgot my wallet. I’m trying to do a good thing and this is what happens. Is there any chance you could help me out?”

“Yeah, let’s go inside and I’ll grab you some cash,” I told him and you could see the life go back into this man’s life. As if hope in humanity had been restored.

As we walked inside to the ATM machine, I felt all eyes were upon us. An elderly couple looked at me in disgust, a middle-aged white man scowled at the man who was in need, one of the younger female workers had fear in her eyes. The woman behind the counter, the only other African-American in the store, gave me a look in her eye which said “you have a kind heart” but her facial expression had a tone as if to say, “but you are being taken advantage of by this guy.”

I gave them man $20 and asked if that would be enough to get him home.

“Thank you so much, you have no idea how embarrassing this is,” he said with a tear in his eye, “I asked a couple people and you wouldn’t believe their response. One man told me, ‘How the HELL does a GROWN-ASS man forget his wallet!’”

“I do it all the time,” I told him, “We’ve all been there. I’d hope someone would do the same for me if I were in your situation.”

He gave me a hug in front of everyone in the store and wished me a happy Fourth of July weekend. I wished him well and went on my way to pick up a few snacks at the store myself.

This is what I call a soul contract. A soul contract is a prearranged contract prior to entering this lifetime that we make with others. We do so in order to teach each other lessons that help us grow. This was part of our plan to meet at this encounter, and the universe works in ways to make sure we meet.

The worn out soles of my tennis shoes led me to another worn out soul asking for help.

But this is not where the soul contracts end, it goes much deeper. We actually have soul contracts with every person we encounter, every single day. There were other soul contracts with each person in that store for us to teach each other lessons.

As I made my way to the counter, the middle-aged man who had previously yelled at the guy asking for help was in front of me. He spent $34.17 that day, mostly on junk food, soda, candy, and unnecessary items.

“I can’t believe you gave that man money,” he tells me in disgust, “You realize he is taking it to the liquor store or a crack house right now.”

“That is not up to me,” I told the man as I looked directly into his eyes that filled with hurt of his own, “I am only responsible for my actions, choices, and behaviors. I am not responsible for the outcome. The man asked for money to get home and I willingly gave him some money. That is all that happened. Nobody knows the outcome, nor do we need to know.”

The man grumbled and threw his hands at me as to say, “The hell with you.” Then he took his bags of junk food and walked out the store continuing to carry with him his bitterness of this entire situation.

I also had a soul contract with this man. He was teaching me of how I have acted in situations in the past. In fact, just thirty minutes ago, worn out soles of my sneakers had ruined my day and I was getting bitter. Everyone we encounter is just a reflection of ourselves, and this man was portraying the way I was acting internally not too long ago. I was letting a minor inconvenience ruin my day. That is the lesson he was providing me. Hopefully, my lesson to him was spreading love. But again, it is not up to me what my lesson is to him. I am not responsible for results.

The woman behind the counter did not even mention the interaction. She just smiled and wished me well after paying for my items. There was a soul contract there too. I do not know the reasons, nor do I need to know. I have no idea how this story ends and probably never will. It brings great inner peace to no longer have the need to attach to outcomes. But it also brings great humility to remember that each person I meet, despite our difference is beliefs, opinions and attitudes, is there to teach me something and help me grow.

There are three main ways to help remember soul contracts and help use them throughout our daily lives. The first one is remembering the story of Brahma. In this tale, Brahma creates the universe and all the people. His friend Maya then asks to play a game in which she cuts Brahma up into millions of pieces and puts a piece of him in every human. She erases his memory so he does not remember, and the game is for him to find himself in every person – or for each of us to find God in each other.

Taking this concept one step deeper, I realize that every person is actually me from a different lifetime. It works on the same level as the story of Brahma. We are all one interconnected being and experiencing the world from different perspectives. When I view the world this way, I see the pain and hurt in others eyes, and see into their soul. I do not know the man’s story that was so angry, but I know that was me from a different lifetime and I am trying to help him grow and flourish.

The third way of thinking of soul contracts, is taking the second concept even one step further. Since we are all God from a different perspective, I think of each person I encounter as an enlightened master and have been put in my path to teach me a lesson. Everyone I meet is enlightened, except for myself. With this perspective, I learn from everyone. The man needing gas, the old couple, the angry man, the scared employee, and the kind woman behind the counter, were all put there to teach me something. I can only hope that I learned the lesson. But if I do not learn the lesson, the soul contracts have stipulations to ensure that we do not move on until we get what we needed to know from that interaction.

Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to go about looking at the world; as if nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.” I prefer the latter. I prefer to believe that worn out soles leads me to worn out souls, and that worn out souls will always lead me to greater peace, freedom, and serenity.

dickens

 

” .. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent forever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”-    Charles Dickens

Every interaction we have matters. We may not see it, but it does

Here is a story of how one patient saw 2 different doctors. With the exact same problem. The reaction was completely different, and so was the result. You do not have to be a doctor or social worker or health care worker to have this impact. It is just this example. Every day we encounter people that as simple as it may seem, just a hello or a smile can make the difference. Sometimes, just knowing someone notices you are not doing well is a big deal.

Patient walks into Dr. D’s office. Patient is a 29 year old. He has depression, has a history of suicide, drug use, and addiction. He is in good physical health. He has not asked for help for a long time. He was in the psychiatric hospital as a teenager multiple times.

Dr. D comes into the office right at 8 am as the day starts. He gets his coffee, and asks for his first patient. He walks into the room and looks at the patient. He says “what can I do for you today?”

The patient says, “I am very sad, I have low energy, and I do not feel normal.” The patient is shaking and is embarrassed to be at this point in his life.

The patient says, “I have struggled with drinking and drugs and do not feel good about myself. I am scared to talk to anyone about anything, but especially this. I am at an end, I have to get help or I am going to die.”

Dr. D says, “Ok, well let’s draw some blood. Have you ever been checked for diabetes, low blood sugar, or thyroid problems?”

Patient says, in a trembling voice. “No. I don’t seem to have any of the other problems that would go with diabetes though. I work in the health care field.”

Dr. D says, “Well I am going to run some blood tests. I also see you once had a positive PPD test, so we will give you some INH.”

A ppd test is when you are tested for exposure to tuberculosis. If you are positive it usually means it is in your system but not active.

So Dr. D has the patients’ blood drawn and has given him the INH. The blood tests come back normal. No problems.

The clinic nurses call the patient and state everything is ok. Dr. D said to follow up if you have any concerns. They as a clinic have so many patients, they forgot why the patient came in the first place. They get a list of lab results, so when they see them come through, they never think of the patient. They see the results and make the call that they are ok. This is not their fault. They are completely overwhelmed with a huge volume of lab reports of patient’s to call.

This patient was anxious and depressed and afraid to ask for help to begin with. Now with this call and this response,  the patient is basically pushed aside, IF the patient wants help, he will have to make the call again and go through the embarrassment and shame of asking for help again.

Now, the patient does not go for the INH. He is now feeling hopeless. He never even went for medical problems, then when the results came in, the clinic never even thought that it was to rule out anything. The patient got lost in the pile of papers. Basically became a number, not a person. This is normal these days. They want the Doctors to see as much patients as possible, as fast as possible. So give them a pill and get them out of here. It is our medical system, and it has become a business.

In this case, the patient now goes on another binge, and gets more depressed. If anyone has been through this they know any binge can result in death to self or someone else. Thinking again about suicide month later, the patient calls up the clinic. The patient has lost hope in Dr. D. However the patient is afraid to ask for another provider. Because he will be considered “difficult.”

The patient, using all the courage that they have, gets another appointment. This  is months later. So at this next appointment, Dr. D walks in, and he does not recognize the patient.  He treats him as if he is a new patient. He asks again if he has any medical problems.

This time. Dr. D says “Let me draw blood for some things” once again. Checks his heart. He does not know the patients name, or occupation, or any of what had happened before.

The patient is a number, he now feels worse and is upset that he even came back. He gets his blood drawn.

The patient gets a phone call back. He is to come see Dr D again, he must come in to go over the results. They cannot tell him over the phone the results. However, there is also some hope. He feels that maybe they found a reason he has felt like this his whole life.

The patient is scared, he knows if you have to come in to go over results it is not good. Saturday morning Dr. D walks in as he is the on call MD this weekend. His eyes are bloodshot and red, Dr. D did not sleep last night you can tell. He does not recognize the patient, his name, or anything. He feels he is just seeing all emergency patients as they are the Saturday clinic this month and he is on call. Dr. D has no idea he is talking to his own patient.

He then asks the patient, why he is here.

Then Dr. D still not knowing the patients name says “oh yeah, well, looks like you have chronic fatigue syndrome and there is really nothing we can do. Maybe go to groups, or exercise.”

Just what the patient wants to hear right? You are chronically tired and out of luck. You are not depressed or any of that. Sorry, go to groups.

The patient puts his head down, that’s it. You can see him, the thoughts are something like, “I guess I never was depressed, I’m just tired,” that is what he is feeling.

Any of us can tell these things in watching people if we just watch and are truly present with them. If we take time for one another it is easy.

Then Dr. D says well I can give you Provigil to keep you awake during the day and trazodone to help you sleep. SO let’s do that and check back in a few months. We are now giving a patient with severe anxiety a pill that they used to give to pilots to keep them awake during long flights.

The patient gets the pill to stay awake. His depression and anxiety have still not been addressed. He has learned that this is what happens when you ask for help. The patient now feels hopeless, sad, anxious, and like a fool for asking for help. There is nothing they can do for him.

First they tell him he has tuberculosis, then its chronic fatigue. They spend 15 minutes with him each time because management wants doctors to see 4 patient per hour so they can bill for that. Then they make more money. Dr. D is considered more productive if he sees more patients in a day because he makes the clinic money then.

The patient then with this depression history, drug abuse history, has made his last ditch efforts to get help. It took everything he had to even ask for help. He was pushed aside, they didn’t know his name. He got lost as a number. Then he was told different things by the same doctor each time he went in.

Why would someone go seek help after this? Dr. D never even asked him about his depression or anxiety or his history. He was a number, and he pushed it off like it was not depression. Just give him a pill and get him out. I don’t blame Dr. D, this is our system. I have seen Doctors get scolded for taking too much time with their patients.

This patient would then go into severe depression and his drinking and self-destructive behaviors would intensify over the next few years. He had many near death experiences, he got a DUI and spent more time in jail. He got to a point in which he almost died and his family had given up on him completely. He was basically going to fade away to the world. You could tell, he had given up on himself and everyone else had given up on him.

About 3 years later after Dr. D. This patient called the clinic. They said “So you see Dr. D, would you like to see him again.”

The patient has an opening and says, “No anyone is fine.” Simple stroke of luck.

The patient is set up with Dr Broeker. This is his real name he still practices for Allina. It is at the end of May. The patient has made up an excuse to go in he says he is having urinary problems.

He is in the clinic office in the room waiting. Dr. Broeker knocks on the door, he says, “hey XXX, I just want you to know I am running a little bit late but I will be in as soon as I can.”

The patient is shocked, Dr Broeker knew his name and just knocked on the door to tell him that he was running late.

Then during their meeting, the patient is comfortable, and feels at ease. Dr Broeker comes in and says his name, what his experience is and does not have a clipboard. IS not looking at the computer. He asks “what are you here] for?”

Dr Broeker then says “what else can I do for you?”

The patient starts to cry and says “I am anxious, nervous and afraid to ask anyone for anything. I hate myself, I cannot stop drinking and I want to get help for feeling depressed.”

Dr Broeker spent the next hour talking with this patient. It was amazing. He talked to the patient about life. Dr Broeker talked about his time as an MD and how he wants to get this right. He explains the depression scale, the anxiety scale and fills it out with the patient.

It was like this patient had been waiting years for someone to say, “It’s ok to be sad, let’s talk about it.” Finally after, years and years of internal torture. Dr. Broeker had released this man from his own internal prison. It was amazing. Words will never do it justice what Dr Broeker was doing for this patient.

It was supposed to be a 15 minute appointment. Dr Broeker knows the patient has been seen by Dr D because he read the chart, he says “why were you tested for all of this?”

The patient says,” I don’t know that’s what he thought.”

Dr. Broeker says “well, ok, let’s start you on celexa and come back in 2 weeks to make sure you are not having any side effects.” Dr. Broeker did not judge the other physician and was respectful and kind about what the other MD had done. When someone is truly great like this, they do not need to question anyone else. He is pure, there is no competition for people like Dr. Broker, he practices out of love, and he is a doctor for the right reasons.

The patient was so much at ease with Dr. Broeker that he was able to tell him everything and open up about the drinking, drug use and all other issues that he was facing.

Dr Broeker wanted him back in 2 weeks just to check on side effects. The patient felt he had a new lease on life.

Then in 2 weeks Dr Broeker pops in and knows the patients name. He talks to him for a while like they are old buddies and shakes his hand and is friendly with him.

This patient has had a history of no shows throughout his life, but never with Dr Broeker. Usually if we have a patient with no shows, we label the as non-compliant or as not really wanting to get help. But, could it be that the problem is in the provider and how we treat patients? Or at least say it is 50/50? In a few months the patient was in rehab, and able to look at people. Dr Broeker then eventually recommended therapy to this patient.

This patient was willing to listen because he trusted Dr Broeker. He believed in him. The same recommendation could have come from another Doctor and it would have gotten a different reaction. The difference is in the relationship, not in the knowledge. Dr Broeker took time, he did not care about the 4 patients an hour.

Dr. Broker is special, he is in it for the right reasons. He takes time. That is true productivity.

He saves lives, He saved this patients life.

 

I know this, I watched it. The patient was me.

The Doctor is Dr Michael Broeker.

He saved my life. He is one of the “fab 5” that I refer to that changed my life. That is number 1. The magical Michael Broeker.

 

If it was not for him, I would not be alive today. The patients that tell me I saved their lives and changed them forever, my friends and family and everyone that I have touched, it is all not possible without him.

 

I almost died and did not want to ask for help ever again. He sat down and listened. And talked. He didn’t follow the 15 minute rule. In my moment, lost in the woods, he gave me the light and pointed me in the right direction. All because he took time to get to know me and did not judge me.

 

I am alive today because of him.

 

Thank you Dr Broeker.

 

The End

 

 

saving-drowning-man

“Sometimes our inability to control our instincts gives us a level of courage we don’t normally have.” -Jason Whitlock

We all try to hide ourselves with the mask, even if we do not know we are doing it. However, there are times that we cannot hide our true nature. It is usually in a crisis or a moment when our instincts take over. The true self bursts out despite our best efforts. Usually, it is a beautiful thing to witness. It is like seeing a picture of love. It is a rare occurrence. I was thinking of this example the other day and decided it might be a good moment in my life to share.

The courtroom was full. The custody battle has been long and complicated. Judge Harrington has heard this go on in his courtroom for months. Everyone was finally done presenting their cases and the evidence. It was full of emotion but silent. Judge Harrington is to address the court and the hundreds of people that are there with an emotional, vested interest.

He stands up and says “Tom, you are the mother’s father, you have been here for every single event in the courtroom. You have come to all the conferences and meetings. You have missed work for this, you are a dedicated man. What is your opinion on what should happen with the child?”

What? He is asking Tom what he thinks. He is the Judge and he is asking Tom what Tom thinks? Tom was the father of “Ally” who is the mother. “Ally” was his only daughter. He has one grandchild, and that was Kayla. He has been a large part of Kayla’s life up to this point. Kayla is the child in question here, she is 5 years old. Kayla and “Ally” live close to Tom, Kayla goes fishing with him, and she knows him so well. She hugs Grandpa Tom every time she sees him. He loves having Kayla around, she brings life to everyplace she is, like most 5 year old little girls.

Tom and his daughter “Ally,” have a great relationship. She has gotten involved in drugs recently, and he is trying to help her. He has always been a loving father. When “Ally” was young, she was emotionally abandoned by her mother, who never wanted children. So Tom raised her most of his life and was a loving, caring man. He was not perfect, as none of us are, but his heart was pure.

Is this why the Judge was asking him? I didn’t know. I did not like it. I was the one on the other side. I wanted my daughter and had been waiting my whole life for this moment. Her mother, “Ally,” was a full blown drug addict, and had been failing drug test after drug test. This should be a slam dunk. I was very upset that the Judge was asking Tom this.

I yelled at the Judge, “What the hell is this Bull****, why is it up to him? Why are you even asking him?” My heart was trembling in fear. I was shaking, I was sweating and nervous. I looked back at my mother and her lower lip was quivering. My father was standing in silence. All my siblings were looking. We were all so young. Ages from 16-24. No one had been in a situation like this.

Judge Harrington said “I suggest you settle down or you will be held in contempt of court, do you even know what that is young man?”

My lawyer had me leave the room. He said, “It may be best if you are not here for this, you are too emotional and you will be perceived in a poor manner.”

I am thinking to myself, “What the heck is going on here. I am not the one addicted to drugs. I am the one trying to go to school, I am recovering for my daughter.” My daughter was gone for years in Florida, then she had come back. I had started to get better and prepare for this. Now it seemed everything was falling apart right before my eyes. “I am going to lose this thing now,” is all I could think.

After doing the right thing, after going through the pain of losing Kayla, then getting her back in my life. Then I dedicate myself to bettering myself to become a good father. I tried to help her mother “Ally,” get into treatment, and still after this I am still going to lose her again? My heart was broken and I was in distress. The anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment, and everything from my past was all coming up, and making me look to Judge Harrington like an out of control emotional kid. I had already lost her, my child, once, and I had thought forever. Now this second chance was being taken from me is what I felt.

Why was I so afraid of him asking Tom? Well in the beginning, I was good friends with Tom. But I was also a 17 year old punk that got his 16 year old daughter pregnant. We then fought for years. I said some horrible things to him and was rude and a jerk to him. He was the same to me. He did not like me and it was clear. Now he was going to decide my fate? How is this justice?

When “Ally” came back to the Midwest, and was getting involved in drugs. I was not trying to take the child away. This got Tom to respect me a little bit and earn a little trust. I was trying to get her in to treatment. I was trying to help. However, when you are not healthy yourself, and you are trying to help someone it is much like if a surgeon is bleeding while they are doing surgery. You are trying to help, but really you end up just injecting your own poison into that person.

I had no idea about addiction, mental health or anything. Yet here I was trying to understand it all and help someone who was a full blown meth addict and shooting up daily. I couldn’t understand why someone would leave their child for weeks at a time. I couldn’t understand why someone would say they wanted treatment then ditch out when they realized the cops were not after them anymore. I didn’t understand why someone would keep using after all the consequences. I didn’t know who this person was that was neglecting, and abusing my daughter.

The “Ally” I knew was a caring, and loving person who had been abandoned basically by her mother emotionally her whole life. Then her mother left for Florida when she found out her 16 year old daughter, “Ally” was pregnant. “Ally” was abused in many ways as a child, physically, emotionally, and sexually. But her heart was pure. I could not understand this person she had become. I was trying to help her. We all were. However it was not going well, and speaking for myself only, I was making it worse and I did not realize it at the time.

Tom was surprised that I was not coming down and just trying to get custody. We started to talk, we bonded as we tried to help “Ally” together for the child. Tom loved his daughter “Ally” and was a great father. We were so frustrated, she was calling everyone names, bringing up everyone else’s dirty laundry. We didn’t understand. Tom saw me prevent her from being arrested. Eventually, I had given up and we were now in this long drawn out custody dispute.

It got to a point that I bailed “Ally” out of jail once, and Tom had become mad at me for helping her too much. Everyone really was doing their best but we were all brining our own stuff into this situation and the years of mistrust and fear and anger were all present.

As I look back now, I realize we were all fighting because we all wanted to love this child. If you take away the fear, anger, anxiety and other negative emotions, we could have solved this ourselves. But here we were in a recess at court after my blowup in the courtroom with the Judge asking Tom of all people what he thinks. This was it, I was the crazy one. This was all going to be taken away and I knew it.

I sat alone in a room at the courthouse. I refused to talk to everyone. I was alone. This was one of those points in my life that I realized I really have no control over anything what so ever. It was not a painful thing. Well, at first it was frustrating, I could not talk my way out of anything, I could not throw a fit and get my way, and I could not manipulate. I could not take Kayla and run, I would be in jail then. This was completely out of my hands, I had no control. The funny thing is, we never do. We only think we do. Control is a human illusion.

This was one of my first forced third steps. Forced to surrender. I would forget it later, but also go back to it throughout my life when it was needed. I was receiving a painful gift. I got on my knees and I cried, first about how unfair it was, then about how mad I was, then about what I was going to do if things didn’t go my way. Then when all the garbage was out, it was just tears. Crying and hoping for the best. I was hoping that the best happens and just trusting that if I am a good guy and my intentions are pure and I do it with love in my heart that it will turn out ok. I surrendered that day. I was not mad, instead all the anxiety, fear and negative emotions were gone. What I felt was a freedom I had not felt before. I realized that I was allowed to love my daughter regardless of where I was or who she was with. No one could take that from me. This was not going to be the end. No one can take my heart or my soul. I felt an immense freedom.

I was calm and came back to the courtroom. I apologized to the Judge. The Judge continued, “Before we were interrupted by the outburst, I had asked Tom what he thought. Tom, where do you think Kayla should be. With you, with the uncles, or the mother or the father, what is your opinion?”

Tom stood up, everyone was looking at him, He had tears in his eyes, and his voice was shaking. This was a large man, he works on the railroads and has his whole life and loved life. His voice trembling as the courtroom was in silence, he said, “She should be with her father.”

Whoa, that was me. This man could have said his daughter “Ally”, and believed he could get her help. He could have said his son, the uncle, or himself. He did not. To stand up in a courtroom and say something like that when it held so much weight was one of the most amazing acts of unselfishness I have ever seen. This was true love. He had no idea if I would ever let them see Kayla again if I had custody. We had a rough history which was getting better. He knew this could be the end of his family and ever seeing his only grandchild. He still said what he thought was best for her.

Because of this I was granted custody. There are times that we cannot hide our true nature, we all try to hide ourselves with the mask, but at times, the true self bursts out despite our best efforts. Tom’s true character is that of one of the best most amazing people in the world. He is pure. He is real.

Why did the Judge care about what Tom thought so much? I was told this story after the fact. When Tom and the Judge were 6 years old. The judge was drowning in a lake. No one was around. Tom was the kid that pulled him out of the water and saved him. Tom had shown his true character before to this judge, so he knew he would get the truth. It was a small town, they grew up together.

Kayla still to this day, goes and sees Grandpa Tom all the time. He has been a major part of her life since that day. Tom and I used to talk a lot until “Ally” got out of prison. When ”Ally” went to prison, Tom saw Kayla every other weekend and summers and talked all the time. He was able to keep their family involved for when “Ally” eventually got out of prison.

The rest of the story is for another day.

Thank you Tom for showing me what love and unselfishness looks like.

Thank you Judge Harrington for showing me to treat everyone with kindness at all times, you never know when the tide will turn. To love each other always.

Thank you that day for forcing me to surrender my will for a moment, so I would have that to go back on later in my life when it was needed.

Thank you crisis. You helped awaken me.

On this day, I saw what real love was.

2015-01-10_12.42.37

“I do not like that man, I must get to know him better.” -Abraham Lincoln

I often hear people wonder out loud why there is such a high rate of recidivism, why do our patients come back, and why is there a high rate of repeat “offenders” in the Mental Health System. We can’t fix Mental Illness they say. We can’t “cure” it. The problem is we are trying to cure the wrong people. It is the staff that needs to be “cured,” or fixed. Not the patients. The patients are not the problem. The staff members and the stigma of society is the problem. I can give many examples of my over 20 years as a staff and patient to describe it. This is one that really sticks out to me.

She walks in she is wearing and old dress, it has stains on it. It may be the only dress she owns. It is green, with tan. She has hair that is getting gray, but it is still brown. She has attempted to put it in a nice pony tail. It is off to the side, the left side. The hair is still very frizzy and sticking up. She is trying so hard. This is a big day for her. She is interviewing to get into this program that will likely get her into an apartment.

That has been her dream, this is the way to accomplishing her ultimate dream, her own apartment. She enters the room with the “team”, she comes to the interview.

She farts, and farts loud. She laughs, it is a loud loud laugh. She says she is sorry that it keeps happening. It happens throughout the interview. She answers all the questions, she seems very nervous. She is trying hard to look her best and be on her best behavior. She has a whiny screechy voice. I watch and I see the “team” roll their eyes and shake their heads in disgust.

After she leaves, the team of Doctors, psychologists, OT workers, Social workers then are to evaluate her and decide if she is a “fit” for their program.

They all are dressed up in their fancy clothes, and they all laugh. They all grab the hand sanitizer and clean their hands, because “she touched my hand.” They laugh and tease her. They mock her hair, they laugh about her dress. They say “ick” and shake their bodies like they just touched a rat.

They are really feeling good about themselves. Remember, these are the so called healthy ones that need to “fix” and “stabilize” this patient. They are all getting paid over 100 dollars an hour, each of them, to analyze this woman. If they accept her, their program gets 8500 dollars a month to “treat” her.

The owner is there, she teases the patient as well. The owner goes to France 3 times a year. They all tease her. I know, I was in the room. I was new, I was watching. They accept her to their program, only because they had 3 open beds and they needed the money to pay for their vacations, they said this. Then they mocked her. Money, Money, Money, Money.

After her admission, I got to know her. She had a screeching type whiny voice that sounded like fingernails against the chalkboard. That loud laugh, then the farting, the gas was nonstop. It was a big joke to the staff and the patients.

Everyone blew her off, and no one wanted to talk to her. She annoyed everyone. So she isolated. She was crying uncontrollably one day and came into my office and sat down.

I wanted to say I was busy, but for some reason I didn’t. She said, “Please help, just listen to me.”

She told me about her dream and how nice she thought she looked that day of the interview. She told me that was the best dress and she saved it for so long for her big day. She wanted to impress these guys so much. She practiced for hours about what she wanted to say. She did practice interviews. She told me how she would do whatever staff wanted. She wanted that apartment so bad.

The thing is, they didn’t really care. They didn’t listen to her. They rushed it, it didn’t matter what she said, and they were focused on how “icky” she was.

They were feeling superior. They took her because they had open beds, they wanted money. This was the biggest day of her life, and the “team” they didn’t really care not one bit. What they cared about was getting her out in the hour, so they could admit her and leave on time.

She heard the mocking, the teasing. She had to take it. She wanted the apartment. The counselors never really met with her, the groups only lasted 10 minutes, and no one really asked her about her medications or what was going on.

They didn’t want to deal with her. They were annoyed. She was a thorn in the side of their day in which they did nothing and collected pay for it.

She made them pay attention and that bothered people.

I sat down and talked to her. She cried. She knew, she heard. Why was she always farting? Was it a medication?

N0.

When she was 4. She was raped by her father continually. Then he beat her when she told. He slammed the kitchen table against her stomach, over and over and pinned her against the wall with the table. This all crushed her insides.

He jumped on top of her and beat her. She was age 4. Around the same time that the doctors at the same age were worried about what was for dinner and where they were going on vacation that year. This was happening. This is happening somewhere near us every day. It is happening to someone right now.

She had to have most of her insides removed. This created the farting. But no one cared. The staff were “annoyed” The doctors and psychologists were worried about filling the bed. They don’t want staff to: “feed into this attention seeking behavior.” They said “use your boundaries.” “We don’t need to talk to her when she is doing this for attention.”

This is how they guide treatment. Well, I didn’t listen. This story was then confirmed by records we were able to get.

This is why the mental health system is broken, not because of medications, not because it is untreatable. Not because of people that were institutionalized. Not because they are so “violent” and “dangerous.” In fact mentally ill people have less occurrences of violence than the general public.

The term Mentally Ill is a terrible term. Mental Illness in this culture, in America, is considered this bad thing.

In other cultures it is a healer waiting to be born, in other cultures mentally ill is a term used for those that live in excess.

The reason the system is broken is because of 75% of the people that work in the system are like this. This is changing, I want it to change more, it is coming, and the revolution is coming.

This is why I will keep writing about these things. I have sat in team meetings for the last 18 years hearing stuff like this.

This won’t be over, and I will not be done until we have stopped the feeling of superiority and labels and trying to find what’s “wrong” with people.

Until we stop treating people like this it will never change. Sure we will react when there is a school shooting, or some tragedy happens. We love to react. To over react after the crisis. When we do that, we completely screw it up. We are having an emotional reaction to an event so we overdo it.

We can prevent that by dealing with it right now, everyday. Simply by engaging people and talking to them and showing them that we have love.

Next time you see someone that annoys you, or that you just seem to not like for no reason. Maybe it’s time to get to know them better.

That is how we change things. Sometimes people do whatever they can to “get attention.” A whine, a cry, a yell, a fart.

Either way, it is just that, a cry for attention.

When we see that, it is not time to “put up our boundaries,” as the so called professionals will say, it is the opposite, it is time to let our guard down and remember we are all in this together.

Boundaries create division. Money creates division.

Love brings us back to humanity.

Fight on.

Til the end.

puppet_master_8781

“When you start to sit on your throne and decide who is good and who is evil, you become capable of doing great evil, without even thinking of it as evil.” -unknown

Relationships are the key. Relationships. By that I do not mean an “I’m above you” type relationship. Not uppers and lowers. Relationship, me getting to know you, you getting know me. No regard to rank. No one’s better, no one’s worse. When I talk about relationships, I mean a relationship in which we both can challenge each other when we think it’s time. We have to get away from this “I’m the wise healer and you are the lowly patient that needs help.”

That is the attitude of many in the field of psychiatry. That’s why they have phrases like “professionalism,” and “Boundaries.” I love it when they say to the patient, “tell me all about the worst times of your life and I will write it down and make decisions about your life, but I am not allowed to tell you anything.”

That is why it doesn’t work. Martin Luther King Jr. said something like, “you get justice fastest by rendering justice to the other party.” Who is going to open up to you as a provider when they have no trust in the system to begin with and we tell them no, we don’t talk about ourselves? There is a reason for that, of course. Some people end up making it about themselves, however we need to teach this skill. It is a skill that when used and well-timed and for the benefit of the patient is an amazing tool. It is what I call a “relationship.”

We told a patient the other day that she cannot high five staff. The rationale for it was, because it is a “boundary.” This person has not gotten a hug in probably 15 months. Then we wonder why things go wrong.

It’s not about one person walking in the room with a hundred thousand dollar a year job. The provider has a Mercedes, a fancy suit, and giving medications to the other person. We do this by reading a book that tells us how to label people. That is what the DSM is. It is a book written by rich privileged people that guides us on how to label and control those that have not had opportunities. It is an evil book. It takes special people, takes away their person and tells them what is “wrong” with them. It is essentially a “how to be like us” book.

The bell curve theory says that about 96% of the population is inside this box. The DSM helps those in power to pull anyone who is different and special into that box. They do this to anyone that they can influence and change and take advantage of. It uses shame, medications, and even brute force if necessary.

We are getting this all wrong. We are trying to make everyone safe, and the same. Not a threat to those in power.

I remember a time in my life when I was working at a rehab center for mentally unstable kids and I learned this first hand. I was trained by many people coming out of my recovery. Some say to me now, “you were lucky to have the people train you that trained you.”

I disagree; I think we choose who trains us. We have these beliefs already, and we have everyone throwing knowledge our way. We choose who we cling to and who we take ideas from. If we are gifted with humility, (which I was not,) we learn a bit from everyone. If we see everyone as good and bad, and every experience and person as a teacher, we become amazing. Even if someone does something wrong and bad in our eyes, is it really bad if we learn from it and become better? It is a rare person that can learn from everyone that they meet.

We are taught to listen to authority and to think like the teachers and elders tell us to from the time we are young. We get rewarded when we repeat what the adults want us to say. With positive reinforcement, we are basically domesticated early. In school, we teach children to remember, repeat, and memorize what the teacher wants. You are labeled “good” if you are able to do this. If you question them, you are a non-conformist and a rebel and get a bad grade. It is passed on throughout the school that we need to “keep an eye on him/her.” It starts early. We reward conformity.

However, we need to be careful when blindly obeying authority. I have a very good example of when I made a huge error and ended up learning a lot about this whole psychiatry, psychology, mental health and addiction field. My lesson came in the form of an 8 year old boy and a 55 year old woman. Not exactly who they tell you who the wise teachers are.

This happened at a point in my life when I was in full recovery mode. I thought I had this addiction/mental health whooped. In my mind, I am now on my way to becoming the great healer. I had been cured in my mind. As the great man I’ve mentioned before “PVD” says, you can become complacent, or addicted to thinking you are recovered. He warned me, I didn’t listen.

I get this huge supervisor job at a rehab center. I am the man. I now will teach my great wisdom. This is what I am telling myself. My ego was through the roof.

In pops Deborah. She is dressed very nice, walks the walk. She is the ultimate “professional”-she hired me. I feel I owe it to her to listen to her and keep her on my side. She seems legit. I am in the big time now, so I need to last here, so I look like I have made it.

She is very adamant about making sure we know who the staff is and who the patients are. She tells me I need to dress up more. That If I dress nice, that I’ll perform better. She says “studies show this is a fact.” I was her puppet. The truth is that studies that evaluate this do not take in to consideration other factors, like those that are evaluating the person’s performance, likely has a biased. They want people to play grown up professional like them.

In my heart, I didn’t believe this, what I noticed is, it causes separation. But she’s the boss, maybe she’s right. So I get dressed up. I’m making all this money, dressing nice, feeling special. I went out and got myself a BMW, and a Mercedes. I am now the rich healer. “Look at me! Look everyone, I’m not a loser! Accept me! Accept me! Tell me I’m ok!”

I’ve arrived. The money of course is to try to prove I’m not that addict. I’m a success. Problem was that I was living for other people. I wanted acceptance from family. I also wanted acceptance from others. I wanted an image. I have heard it said, “It is better to be hated for who you are than be loved for who you are not.” I found out that this is not just a saying, it is a fact.

My ego loved this. I had made the full comeback. I told myself that I don’t need any more recovery talk. I beat it. I don’t need no “PVD.”

Deborah had taught me, that what we do is go into offices, go to meetings, make up committees, and more meetings. Socialize with the big shots, find the good staff, and befriend them. Show off at meetings. Get information from the staff, use it to our advantage, and manipulate the numbers. This is why money should not be involved in this. It is not a business, it is people.

Something felt icky about this. But of course it was another addiction. Not booze, drugs, women, but image.

Now I learn the game, let’s label all the patients, look at the DSM and categorize everyone. We did this and it would make me feel superior. I got to sit back and label people in need and determine who they were. If they didn’t get better, it was because they weren’t ready. I learned these neat phrases on how to say things and how you can use words like that and manipulate and cover up your deficiencies.

We were making money. We didn’t track success by recovery, but by beds, and cash flow.

When I did do a lecture, people didn’t listen. I wasn’t getting to anyone. What happened? I didn’t get it, that’s what I thought my strength was. But I wasn’t me anymore. They just weren’t ready I told myself. “I know this stuff; I used to be an addict I told myself.”

Then the magic happened over the next year and a half.

In walks this kid with his mom. Jonah is his name. She says he’s tough. He also has Asperger’s. He’s almost impossible. No one has ever been able to get to him; he has been kicked out of many placements. He is only 8.

Well I have to meet all new patients within 72 hours. Or I need to just sign off. So, as Deborah taught me, just sign off. So I did. They just needed my signature.

Then I can’t get over it, for some reason, I’m interested in this Asperger’s, so I look it up in the manual. “Wow, this is interesting,” I think to myself. So I get books on it and read them. I read them over and over. I got this figured out. We are going to do this! We will be the ones. I had a spark.

Meanwhile, the kid is wreaking havoc and we don’t know what to do with him. Everyone is at a loss, they said at one time or another, “discharge him, send him up the river, and lock him up. He’s a future ax murderer.” My ego wanted to be the one to figure it out.

But I, the self-proclaimed expert, have read the book. So I know how to treat him. I set up organized activities. Make sure he understands what people mean when they are talking to him. I say, don’t give him negative consequences, because of his Asperger’s, it won’t work. These are the theories I’ve learned. I had this master plan to fix this. I had done hours and hours of reading as well as research.

I decide after coming up with my master plan to meet the kid. But of course, I’ve already got him figured out. I’ve read about him. I have also read his chart and asked EVERYONE ELSE what they think about him.

So in this research, I had read the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s. Here it is:

(I) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

(A) Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction

This kid, he made weird movements, had weird facial expressions. He didn’t make eye contact. He didn’t regulate social interaction like most people.

So here I am and I have already read his diagnosis. He has Asperger’s. So I did not take into account that maybe he was shy, maybe he was just quirky, and maybe he was just a goofball. He would say weird things to start interaction. Maybe he didn’t know how, maybe he has been told he is no good and to shut up his whole life. So he doesn’t know.

What I also failed to realize is that we all have these traits sometimes, and the phrase here is “marked impairments.”

I never questioned the word impairment. Who gets to decide what impairment is? It is worded here like it is a defect. Really, Impairment? Would we say that about Bill gates, that he is impaired?

I looked it up and impaired means being diminished, or weakened. Why is it that because this kid did things different that he was diminished or weakened? Who decided this? Why does the APA have the power to tell us what “normal” is? And if we don’t meet their standards we need medication?

But I did not take any of this into consideration. He was labeled, so I didn’t think about other possibilities. I attached it all to the “Asperger’s” label. This is what we do. This is what we teach in school. We label, we teach to find what’s “wrong” with people. Then we reward those that remember and repeat. We reward conformity even in the psychiatry and psychology schools. We do not reward free thinkers and truth seekers. The students want to be the next great healers, so they learn what the elders want them to learn. This is the only way to stop the issue. We have to change the way we teach.

The problem in this case is it is not a “problem.” It is not an ”impairment,” at all. We have a bunch of old white guys who are paid by drug companies to come up with these “problems.” We all feel superior being able to label people and sit on our throne and decide how we need to “fix” everyone.

(B) Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

Well this kid definitely met this standard. He did not develop peer relationships normally. So, it’s got to be Asperger’s, right?

Yes! Of course it is! He already was labeled so that is who he is. He is “impaired,” poor kid. I say to myself, “I’ll fix him, and I am going to be the one to get this.”

What I never took into account was that maybe he was smarter than the other kids, so he was on another level. Or perhaps, he was very sensitive, and got his feelings hurt easily. Or perhaps he was just ok with being alone more, like maybe a very introverted kid and a deep thinker.

But he had been labeled by someone that read books about how to discover what is wrong with people, and I wanted to feel superior. Of course this poor kid can’t develop relationships. We think “It must be Asperger’s.”

Or maybe he doesn’t want to do it like the rest of us; maybe he is not domesticated like us.

I didn’t think of this, I didn’t have the capacity.

I love in this criteria they use the word “appropriate.”

What is the definition of “appropriate?” -particularly fitting or suitable.

So this means if you do things how most people do things, you are “appropriate.” If not, you need to be looked into and maybe medicated. Maybe you are dangerous.

If it were not for people that were not “appropriate,” women still would not be allowed to vote, we would still have slaves, and many other atrocities would still be happening. I could name a million things that “inappropriate,” thinkers at the time changed.

Do you think Bill Gates or Martin Luther King or mother Theresa did things how everyone else wanted? Or Gandhi? You see what we are doing here to this kid? What I was doing?

I didn’t know any better, and most of us in the system truly think that those they are helping are still in the same boat. No one does this intentionally. It is just that absolute power corrupts. In psychiatry, we have built it so one side has absolute power.

 (C) Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus

So this kid did this as well. Of course he is the impaired Asperger’s kid in my mind. So I ignore the fact that he does not always do this.

He didn’t show interest in others things sometimes; this is a trait we all have. Some people are obsessed with certain interests and thank god for them. That is how we come up with cures for diseases and how we fix serious issues, is those obsessed with their own interests.

What would we do without people that are obsessive? Michael Jordan? He was so obsessed with himself and basketball he became the greatest basketball player of all time. So I guess he may have had Asperger’s as well? We need to fix him also.

Or others like him…

Einstein

Bill Gates

Just to name a couple.

Think about some of these obsessive people. How about instead of finding what is wrong with people, we start to find what is good and pure about them.

(D) Lack of social or emotional reciprocity

The kid I am discussing did this as well. He did not always want to listen to others’ opinions, or care what their opinions were. If you didn’t do what he wanted, he just did his own thing.

I did not take into account that maybe he was just sure of himself, and liked what he liked. Or that we all do this sometimes, which is true, we are all selfish at times and it can be seen as healthy.

We are also told to take care of ourselves and we only have one life. So maybe he was happy with his own stuff and talking to people with the same interests. Maybe we just didn’t like this kid deciding what he liked and wanted.

Maybe he was sensitive and a loner, but why there is such a need to make our children extroverts when they don’t need to be? It is poured into peoples’ heads that you need a lot of friends, you need to be popular. This is done even if it is completely against your nature. So you are taught that who you are is wrong. Voila, the mask!

We all get selfish at times. It is self-preservation, and we all have different levels. In fact, we call a high degree of unselfishness a disorder known as “codependency.” If you’re too selfish, you’re wrong. If you’re too unselfish, you need help. We listen to these psychiatrists and therapists like they have all the answers. The truth is, they mostly read a book passed down with studies made by people that manipulated them to favor their own beliefs. They repeated and remembered. Now not all of them, there are great ones out there. I am simply saying look around and don’t blindly follow. Not all therapists and psychiatrists are created equally. Don’t judge someone by the plaque on their wall.

If it wasn’t for great doctors and therapists, I wouldn’t be here. They saved my life, but bad ones exist. I’m saying they are like every other profession. Some are robots. Some are people. If someone diagnoses you right away, then run, run, run.

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

As I had him diagnosed and as I read this, I started to think, “Man, this sounds like me. I don’t make eye contact a lot, I get selfish. I am inappropriate at times.”

I started to think, “Wow. Maybe I have Asperger’s and that is what has been wrong with me my whole life. Maybe this was me.” However, I thought that as I went through every diagnosis. So apparently I am a Borderline Narcissistic Anti-Social Asperger’s with some major depression and a little ADD with some Bipolar.

(A) Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus

“Yes!” I said, “This is it!” He was preoccupied with reading, and with nature and animals. He was very obsessed with many things.

Some would say “abnormally obsessed” but I start to ask myself….

What is normal and who gets to decide this?

Normal- conforming to a standard.

So if he is abnormally preoccupied with things, can’t that be good? Why is there this need to “fix” this, and to place everyone in the “normal” box?

(B) Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

He loved things the way he wanted them. We would say, “ Must be the Asperger’s, must be a defect.”

I did not think for a second that maybe he was abused and needed to have some kind of control over his environment. Or that he was just rigid, and liked structure and having a voice. A voice that maybe he was denied his whole life.

A lot of these criteria are also that of a gifted person. But I did not consider it. He was at our mercy, and we had him labeled and we had to fix him and get paid for it as well.

 

(C) Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)

Sometimes he had weird movements so check mark on this one also. What is “weird” though? It is a term used to shame people that we don’t understand. If Bill Gates wasn’t famous, you would call him a weirdo, same as Einstein.

However, we all have weird ticks, I pick my head, I chew my nails, and people that truly love me just laugh and say that is me being me. My brother chews his tongue, some people grind their teeth. But that is “normal.” If the loud powers that be have a tic, they market it as normal. It is all about the language we use.

“We need to stop him from his movements,” we say. So we give him more meds that make him sick, but he is not allowed to complain. So he is now sick and told to be quiet. Then he is angrier and we say “Boy, they were right, he is very difficult.”

Some people move more often. They are hyper. I did not even consider this because I already had him figured out. See I read in his chart he had Asperger’s. So, that is what he had.

(D) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

Preoccupation of things, yes he had this, He was very obsessive about things he likes.

But aren’t we all?

So why do we need to fix this? Why is this even a disorder?

I started to think, “Ok he only needed to have a couple of these, he has almost all of them, wow!” I am thinking how this diagnosing and labeling was going to help us deal with him.

We ignored the fact that sometimes he did some of these things, sometimes he did not.

For instance, when he showed empathy, we ignored it because it went against our preconceived notions. When he showed eye contact, we ignored it because it went against our label; we do this with everything in psychology and psychiatry.

So as time goes on, I spend time with him. I have come up with a plan on how to help this poor Asperger’s child. I am going to be the one that helps him, that was what was in my heart.

People want to help and there is ego and superiority involved, wanting to focus on others’ problems as an escape from yourself. There is a sickness in that.

So I gave him a routine. He needs that, which is what is written. I had him talk about his feelings, he needs that. I watched him and watched him and spent hours and hours with him. Fascinated, (must be my Asperger’s.)

It occurred to me, as this master plan was not working, that half the time he does not do this stuff. He does show empathy, he does smile, he does share, he is not always obsessed, and he is not always rigid.

I realized I was always looking for this stuff as he was labeled. So I attached everything he did to that label; and if he did something contrary to the label, I ignored it. If he did something neutral, my own mind twisted it to what I wanted it to be. I was becoming aware of this.

After hours and hours I thought, “This isn’t working because he DOES NOT HAVE Asperger’s. It’s a poor diagnosis.” Now that is something that is upsetting to most in the field. I told them their label was wrong.

So he goes on to another series of tests and analysis, they come back with agreement. He does not have Asperger’s. Of course I told them in my report that I do not believe it and gave specific examples. I of course gave them the referral that was paying their money. I represented future business. So that of course influenced their minds. Same as my mind was influenced previously.

I told them the things we tried and how they didn’t always work. It says to not discipline the Asperger child, and to let it out and he will stop, that he needs routine. I had evidence he was not by the hours that I spent with him and the notes that my biased mind had made.

They came back with something new. Now I was invested in this diagnosis because I had helped fix it and get him the correct diagnosis. I had to make sure this was the right diagnosis, and manipulate the chart so it seems like I was right so I can keep making more money. That is what happens. I was a part of it.

His new diagnosis was Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Here is the criterion:

Diagnostic criteria for 313.81 Oppositional Defiant Disorder

 

  1. A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:

(1) Often loses temper:

He did that for sure. First we were sure it was the Asperger’s and he was throwing Asperger’s fits. Not anymore, now that we know he does not have Asperger’s. It was just the fact that he was angry and had temper issues.

We didn’t look at his history of abuse, isolation, inability to speak up. Or his sensitivity that caused hurt. Why would we, he was oppositional. That is not good.

You see how most of these diagnoses revolve around conformity and normalcy and appropriateness? As defined by the powers that be.

 

(2) Often argues with adults

He did this almost nonstop. We thought before it was because he didn’t understand, he had Asperger’s and didn’t get things the same way others did. Now we were convinced it was just defiance.

He argued with me all the time.

We now knew he understood, he just wanted to be in control. He was basically a punk.

We didn’t think about him being hurt, sensitive, caring and afraid of being hurt or punished. We didn’t have to, especially me. And this was my monster.

(3) Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules

This kid did this very often, almost nonstop. However as you see some of these are the exact same as Asperger’s, just written differently. With Asperger’s, he “doesn’t get it” with this label he is just a “rebel.”

So here we are again with conformity. We teach kids in school to listen and obey. Repeat and remember. Do as we want you to do. We domesticate them. Those that do not believe the lie or buy into it are labeled in one of many ways.

Maybe he didn’t trust the system because of the abuse he endured, the isolation and terrible life he had. We didn’t want to think of that, we had to find out what was “wrong” with him, so we would know how to “fix” him.

Maybe he was scared.

(4) Often deliberately annoys people

He did this to everyone every day. So he met these criteria for the disorder already.

We never thought that maybe he is in great need of attention, had never gotten it, and was doing whatever he needed to in order to get his need met. Maybe his soul was screaming to be heard, “Someone pay attention to this!”

We had to fix him, we had to fix that.

This is a dangerous diagnosis. It sets kids up to be labeled as “trouble.” If they have this diagnosis and then trouble as an adult, it is an almost automatic diagnosis of “Anti-Social.” Or “Sociopath.” Basically, life over. You are not reversing that.

Martin Luther King may have met the criteria for this, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa. They were all oppositional as well.

This is only a bad thing for people that want to control the masses and keep everyone in a box.

(5) Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

Yes he did that. This 8 year old never took responsibility for his actions. Maybe because monsters are not born, they are created by other monsters and the APA labeling system.

With Asperger’s, he didn’t understand. Now we think it’s intentional.

Maybe he was scared of rejection, or that no one would love him if he said he was wrong, or the things that he notices, or maybe he didn’t know. Maybe he learned that this was a way to stop abuse or get it spread out to others to escape a beating for one night.

We don’t think like that in the west. We think, “What is wrong with this person, how can we label them and come up with a plan to help them.”

(6) Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

He was bothered by a lot of things. Again, this is almost the same criteria as Asperger’s, just worded different. He got upset by people and things in his environment very easily. He was highly sensitive to the environment. Even this is now a disorder.

Why would a kid be this angry? Maybe hurt, pain, abuse, or fear. We don’t focus on that, we focused on his “problem” because he is the “identified patient.” We come up with these “problem statements” that guide us in how to repair these, in our minds, “defective” people.

(7) Is often angry and resentful

Yes, he was an angry kid. Mad all the time. (Guess he is oppositional.)

The same possibilities exist that we ignored as we focused on his “problem,” and how this will guide us in saving him and correcting him.

(8) Is often spiteful or vindictive

. We are limiting ourselves out of ego. We know what’s wrong with others, we are superior. WE GET PAID. We have the fancy cars. We are above them. That is the attitude.

It is very rare to hear someone say, “Why would a kid be this way. What caused it?”

No one looks at the family system. That is the last thing the family wants. They have identified their family problem. Don’t bring them into it, just fix the broken piece.

Often the kid reacting to the dysfunctional home is the strongest and healthiest. They see it and act out. They do not know how to verbalize it, so they act out.

We take the strongest and most sensitive, tell them they are ill, and label them. This leads to a lifetime of labels going from chart to chart.

This labeling is sick. And this was my doing. This was my error, one that will never leave me.

Note: Consider a criterion met only if the behavior occurs more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.

I love this one. It says only if it is more frequently than individuals of comparable level. Well how can we compare a kid that has been abused and isolated to a kid who has not. Again, conformity is normal. Be like we tell you to be and you will survive this world. Domesticate or suffer.

So how do you treat oppositional defiant disorder, the opposite of Asperger’s? So one week we are convinced he shouldn’t have consequences, he should have routine, have him talk about things.

Now with the next diagnosis he needs order and discipline and consequences.

To my surprise, after a few months, it did not work. I was astounded. I got to know him after even more hours and hours. I saw the anger, but I also started to see the caring and loving kid. He lowered his guard. He cried. He was scared, nervous, and shy. He said that he wanted to die. A 9 year old that wanted to die and said he hated himself. He said that he was not ok, that no one loved him.

His sister never got the abuse; he did, so he was of course spiteful of her.

I’m watching this kid crumble with this discipline and my heart is breaking. I watch his family when they visit. When they come in, they want a diagnosis; they want him to be sick. It takes responsibility away from any of them.

If he is sick, they have an excuse. They take the strongest most sensitive family member, the one who speaks up through his actions, and place him in therapy and in centers. They then get mad when I say, after 8 months now, “I’m sorry, but I think this is a systems issue. I do not think he has Asperger’s and I do not think he has oppositional defiant disorder.” They want Asperger’s, because that opens up funding for in home care. So they get people to come in and “deal with his stuff.”

What is it then? What is wrong with him? His mom is raging. Can’t you see what I see? He acts different here than he does at home, and she is mad that we aren’t diagnosing him. What is wrong with us?

He cries and clings to us. We are all starting to get to know him. He is obsessive, strong willed, funny, caring, sensitive, and a very gentle soul. He also gets mad when things don’t go his way, and he doesn’t make eye contact. He has a hard time connecting and he can be selfish. He also wants to die and hates himself. I think I would call him, “human.”

I went into his room. I said Jonah; I want you to write down 10 good things about yourself.

He couldn’t come up with one. It broke my heart. I cried. I said ok, I’ll make a list. I did. He hung it up and framed it. Of course, he later got mad and ripped it up.

Then we gave him structure, we talked it out after he had outbursts, he wrote out feelings and what they meant, how his body felt, what he could do, what he could do to stop it.

I realized we were now incorporating some of the Asperger’s and some of the ODD treatments. And it was a mixture that was working. I was starting to see the picture of the truth.

The next one was ADD. That made sense to us all. I won’t go line by line but he met them all and that guided our treatment. Now we got it.

Medication and organization again, we were treating this kid on a label. Now it was all ADD, we were convinced. That didn’t vulcanize him or make him unaware.

He didn’t respond to our perfect treatment plan. We never asked him, so now as more time goes on, we are at almost a year with this kid now.

Yes he may have had ADD, maybe some of everything. I didn’t know.

He was scared of adults, he lived with a man that locked him in his room at night and abused him. The daughter got none of it.

He loved rocks, science, video games, organization, and rules. He was strong willed and sensitive.

We came up with lists of why he likes his sister because he got jealous. We gave him complements. When there was an outburst, we processed it. The feelings, and processed what happened.

We did discipline him and took things away, but also gave more positive reinforcement and caught him being good. I do not think he needed discipline, I think he needed something else.

He absolutely loved animals and little kids. He was wonderful to anyone who was helpless. He was such a loving kid; he was so sensitive and had a hard time with criticism. Ghandi once said, “You can tell everything you need to know about someone by the way they treat animals and those that can never pay them back.”

We treated him, not some fake label, but the person, who has traits of all of these. We found his strengths, things he liked and talked about that.

He was seriously abused. Never allowed to speak for himself, hit, thrown, and never told anything good.

He started reading his “good things about himself” list, the one he made. He loved reading it to me. He grew, he smiled, and it was his favorite time. He started adding to it. It was my favorite time as well.

I watched him get well and start to thrive, and then he would act up just so we can talk. I realized I was failing and needed to give him time when he was doing well.

He had taught me more than I taught him. I don’t believe in these labels and diagnoses anymore. I believe in people.

If you get diagnosed with bipolar, schizophrenia, bpd, major depression, you get major funding. It’s a money making scheme.

This is not supposed to be about money, but about people.

I wondered to myself, why was I so invested in this case? He was teaching me. I enjoyed the time, and it was like watching me at age 8.

I acted up, got in trouble, didn’t want friends, and didn’t know how to communicate or make eye contact. Wet myself at times in school, afraid to ask the teacher, trembling in fear.

You could have diagnosed me with all of these at one point. In fact in preschool and kindergarten they thought I was mentally retarded because I didn’t talk or participate.

No one said “That is odd, whey won’t he participate?” I was scared, then I acted up and got expelled from junior high, then I didn’t graduate. The labels continue.

The family wants you to be sick.

I became very attached to him. I would not diagnose him or follow Deborah’s rules anymore. I stopped dressing up, I realized I was not above anyone, it was about getting to know people and talking to them and teaching them what I had learned through my life’s trials and tribulations.

I survived by luck. So I broke rules of “dress,” “professionalism,” “self-disclosure,” and I didn’t follow their rules. They decided to get rid of me. Once again, I was not following the script.

I gave up the house, the cars, all of it.

The kid taught me more than I ever taught him. It was like going back to the 8 year old me and understanding the pain I was in and it made me feel ok.

It was an equal relationship. When I screwed up, I said “I’m sorry, I screwed that up.” I got serious eye rolls from Deborah and she told me that I cannot apologize to patients like that. You should have seen the look on his face when I apologized. That was worth it.

He wasn’t Asperger’s, ODD, or ADD. He was a person, as we all are. He was not a label.

When the Dali lama came to west and met with western psychologists and he was baffled. He said “What is this, you are always trying to figure out what is wrong with people, and all people are beautiful.”

It is a good thing the DSM wasn’t around for these people:

Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.

Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.

When Thomas Edison was a boy, his teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything.

  1. W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21. But his employers would not let him wait on a customer because he “Didn’t have enough sense.”

A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “No good ideas”

Caruso’s music teacher told him “You can’t sing, you have no voice at all.”

Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.

Verner Von Braun flunked 9th grade algebra.

Admiral Richard E. Byrd had been retired from the navy, as “unfit for service” until he flew over both poles.

Louis Pasteur was rated as mediocre in chemistry when he attended the Royal College.

Abraham Lincoln entered The Black Hawk War as a captain and came out a private.

Fred Waring was once rejected from high school chorus.

Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade.

I was fired and learned many lessons from this. Jonah actually was hospitalized multiple times. He took his own life at age 14. At the wake, they all talked about how he was “messed up.” I sat in the back of the room, waited for everyone to go away and, as they do at any wake, go about their gossiping and use it as a social event. I went up to his casket and said “Thank you Jonah. I am sorry, and I love you. I will take this with me everywhere. There won’t be another Jonah.”

Deborah finally got her wish and got to open her own treatment center. It was run into the ground within 7 months.

I have since researched this. I think it was actually a different kind of label that fit him.

That label is gifted. This is a list of gifted traits:

High moral standards.

As a gifted person, you have a strong sense of what is right and wrong and how others should be treated. It hurts you to see others mistreat each other, animals or the environment.

As I said, he was great with animals and helpless people. He knew what was right and wrong. That’s why he acted up when things went wrong at his home. Instead he got pushed around and beaten and blamed.

So in this case it is called a strong sense of what is right and wrong. I if you look at the ODD criteria that would call this behavior as actively defiant of adult’s requests or rules.

I ask you, what if the things that the adults are doing is wrong? So he was gifted and standing up against that, but we called it “defiant.”

It is all about perceptions.

Passionate devotion to what interests you.

What absorbs you. You easily devote your energies to what moves you.

He did this.

But look at the Asperger’s diagnosis criteria.

If you’re labeled as “gifted” it is about passionate devotions.

If it is Asperger’s it is called:

“Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.”

See it depends on the one doing the labeling.

One says passionate devotions, the other says abnormal preoccupation.

It’s the same behavior.

 

Independent, tend not to be a follower.

You may not do well in groups or have much patience for processes or ineffectual leaders. You tend not to admire authority figures. You seem them for who they really are. You value people for their gifts, not their positions.

Again he did this. He did not want to participate if it was not something he believed in.

So here it says if you are gifted, you do not admire authority figures and you are independent.

Now let’s look at the ODD and Asperger’s definition of the same behavior:

Asperger’s calls this same behavior:

Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

So, what they are saying in the DSM is that he is inflexible and not a follower? It is the same behavior, not always following.

Here is what ODD says:

Often argues with adults.

Again, what if the adults are wrong and he is just smart enough to see through it all?

So he is labeled as “not a listener.”

Whereas someone not obsessed with labeling or that looked at the whole person AND gets to know him MIGHT SEE THIS as gifted.

It’s the same behavior labeled differently.

 

High degree of sensitivity to inner and outer stimulus.

Whether or not what you attune to is relevant, you can easily be overwhelmed by stimulus – visual, auditory, mental, emotional, physical or energetic.

This is another hallmark sign of “Asperger’s” and “ADD.”

They say it is impairment, and that it is not normal.

They are right, it is not normal. It is gifted.

This is the same behavior and is labeled as a “good” thing and sign of being gifted

So we take someone who is in tune with their environment and notices thing that do not make sense, is sensitive, doesn’t know what to do, so acts out. Instead of thinking of this as special, we say it is a problem.

The problem is the whole practice of psychology and the DSM.

 

 

Depression or boredom if you are not engaged.

Because much of what is in the world is simply noise for the gifted person, you may avoid stimulus. In fact, as a gifted person you require stimulus in the areas of your passions. Without the proper stimulus, your gifts can turn against you.

So this says that if you are gifted, you like to tune out the world and focus on the areas you are passionate about.

ODD would call this defiance.

Asperger’s would call this preoccupation abnormality.

 

Feeling something is wrong with you because you are unlike others.

Living as a minority, it can take a great effort to stop comparing yourself to others. One tends to compare one’s level of energy, number of friends, activity level, and personality with that of others.

So these kids, in tune but in an environment that does not know what to do with them, act out and WE want to know what is wrong with the kid.

The answer is nothing.

So this kid doesn’t have a LOT of friends. We say it is Asperger’s, it means he doesn’t get social cues. Maybe there is something wrong with society that he understands.

In ODD they would call this pre antisocial behavior, trouble maker.

It is easy to label and write it down and walk away. These kids are different, but it is not a bad thing.

Elaborate inner dialogues, thoughts or imaginings.

Whether it is what you think when you watch a movie, read a book, hear a lecture, or what you dream – you have a rich inner world. You have rich inner dialogues or imaginings.

If a kid like this is obsessed with his inner life and is an introvert, we think that is wrong. We say he is shy like it is a disease, we have to fix him. He needs friends.

Maybe he doesn’t, maybe he needs a couple and that is it. That doesn’t mean he is socially awkward. Maybe he gets the world and what is important.

But we label it. Call it a disease.

In ODD we call this antisocial behavior, manipulation, or trying to scheme.

It’s all in the person doing the labeling.

Seeing the underpinnings of things.

You tend to think about, explore and see the place of origins. You look at the causal level of interactions in the field of your gifts – whether human interactions, agents of disease, warring countries or foundational aspects to color. You are aware of the place of essence, the place before things have form.

We call this being a weirdo or an introvert, thinking deeply, being quiet and analyzing. Of course someone like this would not have a lot of friends their age level.

But it is certainly not a disease.

Seeing outcomes before they occur.

You tend to jump ahead. This can occur when you read, listen to someone talk, or when you consider an issue. You often see what has not happened yet. Outcomes seems obvious to you because you are considering the variables in a way many are not.

When someone jumps ahead in ADD is a bad thing. We have to stop calling that ADD, a disorder, when really it is someone who figured things out quicker and has more thoughts in 4 hours than most do in 24. But we want to “slow them down” instead of embracing it.

Interrupting is a hallmark of ADD, which we call a disorder.

Little interest in much of what interests others.

You don’t find yourself easily absorbed in what interests others – events, activities, news or reading matter. You want to go deeper than most.

Remember what Asperger’s says about this behavior:

“Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.”

But we like to jump to this label. It is superiority and ego. We can find someone who is sick, and then they go back to the same sick environment and wonder why they keep coming back.

They don’t need meds, they need a therapist that gets it and they need a “system fixing.”

A rapid learner in the fields of your gifts.

You tend to have natural abilities without formal training. You are a rapid learner in the area of your gifts and a creative thinker – seeing beyond the given.

So you do things differently, you make your own rules, do things your own way, don’t conform.

What did ODD say about this behavior?

“Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules.”

What did Asperger’s say about this behavior?

“Lack of social or emotional reciprocity. Doing things their own way means these poor kids with Asperger’s are “socially clueless” when in fact they may just be advanced.

 

A maverick.

Because you process in a different manner than most and tend to attend to many different directions of thought or experience at once, you may find it difficult to be part of organizations or situations that value consensus.

So someone that doesn’t blindly follow is gifted.

We know that is not what Asperger’s and ODD say. They say they are impaired and abnormal.

Many skills or interests.

Many (but not all) gifted people find themselves gifted in more than one area. This can make focusing energies and prioritizing very difficult.

So disorganization is a sign of giftedness.

The APA would have you believe that it is lack of empathy, ADD, or something that needs to be fixed.

You approach the world and problems differently than others. You may be concerned about things that do not concern others.

So if you are different than others it is a gift.

Other phrases that may describe you: too smart, feelings of despair, alienation from culture, authentic existence, meaningful life, critical inner voice, highly motivated, driven.

Or Asperger’s, ODD, anti-social, bpd, bipolar, depression, etc.

If you meet a mental health professional that diagnoses you in the first visit, run.

We need relationships, not criteria. Treat people, not symptoms.

And in the end, all of these so called “disorders” have an antidote:

LOVE.

End the DSM.

DSM2