Posts Tagged ‘injustice’

I just think it is time we try something new,” said the doctor to his patient, “It’s called Abilify.”

But I’ve been doing well,” the patient pleaded, “I have had no problems for over six months and I am feeling fine.”

Well, you are on an involuntary (civil) commitment and I would hate to have to extend that 18 months,” said the doctor, “You understand that the court will always do what the doctor recommends, and I think that you are in need of a switch to Abilify.

This is a conversation that I overheard when I first started working at a county hospital. I was new and trying to learn from these wonderful doctors that I believed were there to help people. This facility saw the “sickest” patients in the county, and I thought this would give me an incredible opportunity to learn. As this was one of the first conversations I heard, I was certainly learning… and slowly discovering that the label of “sick” is being placed on the wrong individual in this context.

Eventually, I worked my way up to a role that included auditing the psychiatrist’s records along with the responsibility of meeting with pharmaceutical representatives who were pushing their free medication samples. The only means of distributing free promotional samples is by the reps being able to talk directly to the psychiatrist along with a signature, and I was like a modern-day gatekeeper. The different reps would visit and provide a pitch as to why they should be able to take the king (psychiatrist) on a date – and unfortunately describing it as a ”date” was far more literal than figurative.

The sales reps entertain psychiatrists with dinners at the finest restaurants in town and grant them access to luxury suites at sporting events in an effort to push their medications. But, they had to get by the guard (me) first. So they started to befriend me and offer similar gifts. They pulled out all the tricks in the book to try to gain access to psychiatrists, just like the Greeks trying to enter the city of Troy. In their finest efforts, the most beautiful women you have ever seen would show up as “sales reps” but they were really no more than a Trojan Horse posing as another false gift to gain access inside the gates. It really is only about one step away from prostitution, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in some cases these reps do take that ‘extra step’.

I had been officially introduced to the dark side of psychiatry, a field I had always believed was a “helping” industry. After battling my own lifelong struggles, I got into the field to help others only to find myself on the truly “sick” side of psychiatry – the side that is fueled by corruption, greed, back-scratching and dysfunction.

And this was just the tip of the iceberg!

Crossing a Line

I met a patient that I will call “Ronelle.” She was in the state hospital and preparing to be discharged after six months. She was assigned to my caseload for when she returns. Ronelle sent me a six-page letter describing herself and her situation. However, the doctor took this from me and informed me of her “delusional thinking patterns” and then coached me as to how to handle her care. He was still her psychiatrist and was ensuring I was aware of the extremity of her “sickness.” I was naïve, and had no reason to question this prominent psychiatrist.

Prior to my first encounter with Ronelle, it was already engrained in my mind that she was sick and delusional. While reviewing her medications, I noticed she was taking four different antipsychotics – one of which was 30mg of Abilify. There it is again, Abilify, the latest atypical antipsychotic. “I really do not need to be on all these medications,” she told me, “I really am not that sick.” Another delusion, I thought. So I blew her off, just as everyone had always done. I didn’t realize I was another cog in the psychiatric industrial machine.

As months went by, our talks were always the same and I was getting tired of hearing how she did not need her medications.

One night, while out on a date at a fancy restaurant – courtesy of the gift cards from the sales representatives – we headed upstairs to check out the view of the city and I recognized the same psychiatrist providing an educational talk to nurses and mental health workers about Abilify. He was sharing all the wonders of this drug and how more people need to be pushed towards this magical medication. As he took his seat, he was embraced and kissed by the same young Abilfy sales rep. I had to take a second-look as I was taken aback by the blatant corruption that sat before the entire crowd. Next day back at the office, I asked other sales reps about this encounter. They laughed and said, “Didn’t you know that? They are married.”

What!?

Shocked, upset, and in disbelief, I came to discover this prominent psychiatrist was pushing a medication on his colleagues that his wife was selling! Is this really about helping people? Or is it about expanding their personal portfolio?

Disease Mongering: The Selling of Sickness

After discovering this new information, I had to find out more about Abilify. Every single doctor I spoke with provided the same answer, “No, it doesnt really work.” One doctor even referred to it as “Vitamin A.” Abilify was introduced as a new atypical antipsychotic medication to treat schizophrenia but never gained the market-share they were expecting. A few years later it was approved to treat bipolar disorder. Later, the FDA approved its use in conjunction with other medications to treat severe depression – which is when it soared to become the top-selling drug in America.[1]

So, following the failed experiment of treating schizophrenia, the pharmaceutical company simply changed the “purpose” of the drug to treat other indications – specifically depression and anxiety – which is what you will see it marketed for today. In fact, you will find it marketed for just about everything.

“In the 12 months ending August 2011, more than [US]$453 million was spent promoting antipsychotics through physician details, direct-to-consumer advertising, and professional advertising. Abilify led with over $174 million, or 38% of the total market… Clearly, Abilify and Seroquel have performed well… in part because of the investments their marketers have made, both in promotion and acquiring expanded indications.” [2]

Yet, despite raking in more than seven billion dollars per year, both the USDI and FDA state the way Abilify works is “Unknown.” This is a very common practice in the pharmaceutical industry. It works like this:

  • Create a new disorder (identify a new market)
  • Hire a firm to spread awareness (disease branding/marketing)
  • Convince the normal person they have this disorder (creating a need)
  • Use a new drug to treat that disorder (solution)
  • The patent for the drug is good for 7 years; apply monopoly prices
  • Once patent expires, repeat step one
  • Repackage the “new” drug under a different name
  • Repeat steps two through five

Patents for new drugs are applicable for 7 years. Once it runs out, it allows the generic brand companies to make the same drug at reduced prices. To avoid this, the large pharmaceutical companies simply adjust a molecule of the drug and repackage it, allowing for a new patent. This process has been repeated throughout the past few decades as the psychiatric industry has abandoned psychotherapy in favor of drug management.

Valium was the highest prescribed drug in the world in 1978 and earned the nickname “Momma’s little helper” as it was marketed to stressed out housewives; and also referred to as “Executive Excedrin” for the overworked businessman. This was the turning point of America becoming a choose-your-mood society. As far as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned, there is a pill for everything, and the goal is to find the right pill for each person.

The 1980s saw the next “breakthrough” — the drug Prozac was released to treat symptoms of depression. And of course, the diagnoses of depression skyrocketed as public campaigns (funded by pharmaceuticals) let us all know that we, or someone we know, may be struggling with depression. Then in 1999 came “news” of the latest epidemic – Social Anxiety Disorder (ie. shyness). A coalition was created to help those suffering from this “disorder” and those targeted were told that there was a drug to alleviate their symptoms – Paxil. What is generally unknown to the public however, is that these coalitions to ‘spread awareness’ are funded by pharmaceutical companies, and psychiatrists are paid to give speeches about the newly devised “illnesses”, along with the accompanying medication.[3]

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The Legal Drug Cartels

Paxil was FDA approved in 1992, and to get approval status, the FDA appointed a board of psychiatrists – all of whom had financial ties with the pharmaceutical companies. In 2001, the infamous Paxil 329 study attempted to “prove” the effectiveness of their antidepressant in adolescents – another then-untapped market. Martin Keller ran this study on behalf of Glaxio Smith Kline and tested 100 children on the drug. There were 22 co-authors of this study, all ‘important’ psychiatrists, which concluded the effectiveness and safety of Paxil. The FDA granted their blessing to the faulty study and within a year, more than 55 million people were taking Paxil.[4][[5]

However, what was omitted from this “study” was that seven of children on which Paxil was tested were hospitalized and another 11 experienced serious side effects. Keller admitted no fault and simply did not count those individuals in the results of the study, and labelled them as either “noncompliant” or noted that they had “dropped out.” In 2004 he settled out of court for $2.5 million dollars for his role in the fraudulent study, but in 2012 the US Department of Justice brought a civil case against Glaxio Smith Kline which resulted in the company being fined US$3 billion dollars! [6] In that same year, however, Paxil brought in US$11.6 billion in sales for Glaxo Smith Kline which, from a business perspective, still made the fraudulent Paxil study a valuable corporate exercise. You can read the guilty plea in the case US vs Glaxo Smith Kline here.

In the book, “Sociology of Health and Illness” by Peter Conrad he writes:

“Marketing diseases, and then selling drugs to treat those diseases, is now common in the “post-Prozac” era. Since the FDA approved the use of Paxil for SAD [Seasonal Affective Disorder] in 1999 and GAD [Generalized Anxiety Disorder] in 2001, GlaxoSmithKline has spent millions to raise the public visibility of SAD and GAD through sophisticated marketing campaigns. The advertisements mixed expert and patient voices, providing professional viability to the diagnoses and creating a perception that it could happen to anyone (Koerner 2002). The tag line was, “Imagine Being Allergic to People.” A later series of advertisements featured the ability of Paxil to help SAD sufferers brave dinner parties and public speaking occasions (Koerner 2002). Paxil Internet sites offer consumers self-tests to access the likelihood they have SAD and GAD (www.paxil.com). The campaign successfully defined these diagnostic categories as both common and abnormal, thus needing treatment.

Prevalence estimates vary widely, from 3 to 13 percent of the population, large enough to be a very profitable pharmaceutical market. The marketing campaign for Paxil has been extremely successful. Paxil is one of the three most widely recognized drugs, after Viagra and Claritin (Marino 2002), and is currently ranked the number six prescription drug, with 2001 U.S. sales approximately $2.1 billion and global sales of $2.7 billion. How much Paxil was prescribed for GAD or SAD is impossible to discern, but by now both Paxil and SAD are everyday terms. While there have been some concerns raised about Paxil recently (Marshall 2004), it is clear that GlaxoSmithKline’s campaign for Paxil increased the medicalization of anxiety, inferring that shyness and worrying may be medical problems, with Paxil as the proper treatment”. [page 484]

Then there was the Cymbalta clinical testing that resulted in five suicides, which somehow still managed to pass through the FDA approval process. 19 year old Traci Johnson had no history of depression, suicidal ideation, or any mental illness. Yet, after being involved in this clinical study she ended her life – one of five suicides resulting from the in clinical testing of Cymbalta. After her death, 20% of the volunteers withdrew from the study, and these ‘dropout’ numbers (again) were simply not accounted for in the final data analysis.[7] In 2013, Cymbalta delivered more than $5.1 billion in sales.

This unsavoury marriage between pharmaceutical companies and psychiatry goes back over 100 years. While it was highly publicised that Sigmund Freud touted the use of cocaine – both recreationally and therapeutically – what is not widely known is that his well publicized passion for this ”magical drug” was actually the result of hefty payments he received from the newly-formed pharmaceutical companies, Merck and Park Davies, for his professional endorsement for their drugs. [8]

Drug Pushers in White Coats

The story I related earlier about the psychiatrist with the penchant for Abilify, is one of possibly hundreds of thousand of other examples of this sort of prescribing within this industry. Drug companies are profiting by more than US$80 billion each year as a result of ‘mental disease mongering’, as well as ludicrous mark-up pricing. These medications are incredibly cheap to manufacture – i.e. the cost to produce 100 Xanax pills is about $0.025 (yes that is 2.5 cents) yet they sell for $136 at the pharmacy – a 500,000% profit margin. [9]

With these kind of profits, the pharmaceutical companies are able to pay enormous settlement fees which hardly crack their bank account. In 2007, Abilify paid a $515 million settlement for illegally marketing their drug in nursing homes, despite knowing that it commonly caused death for patients with dementia.[10]

In April of 2015, Abilify’s patent expired for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and generics can now be purchased at discounted prices. So, in turn, in May of 2015 its maker the Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. attempted to sue the FDA, claiming that the drug was now an orphan-drug in treating pediatric Tourette’s syndrome and thereby extending its exclusivity period.

So why do we keep prescribing people these medications?

Simply, it is because we have created a gravy train that is producing a lot of money for a lot of powerful people – drug companies, doctors, pharmacies, and investors. In creating a new disorder, it is marketed as a lifelong and incurable disease, creating a customer for life. The first problem for the drug companies in marketing their pharmaceutical ”solutions” is if it kills a person; the second problem is if they actually cured someone – imagine the financial hit they would take. Their aim, therefore, is to create addictive drugs that don’t kill but also don’t cure.

Upon learning more about this dark side of psychiatry, I literally grew nauseous. I started to examine this psychiatrist’s charts to find that nearly every one of his patients was prescribed Abilify. In comparison, other providers prescribed Abilify an average of 4% of the time… compared to his rate of 75%. Then, of course, he is also married to the pharmacy representative for this company. For each prescription he writes, she gets paid a commission. She also gets paid for talking to doctors because of her free pass into the clinic. He also is funded by the same company to give speeches on this drug, and for signing off on peer-reviewed articles and studies on these drugs – again 100% funded by drug companies. They are making exuberant amounts of money by medicating people with a drug that in their own words ”doesn’t really work.”

I was reeling over how it is possible that this level of corruption is happening right before our eyes. But the chief of psychiatry didn’t seem at all concerned — he was busy playing golf with the Risperdal sales representative! Upon hearing this, I was prompted to look into the Risperdal Consta injections that were administered at our facility, only to discover that more than half of our one-thousand patients were being given this drug — a procedure that runs a bill of more than $1,000 per injection. This has all been given the ‘green light’ by our “Chief of Psychiatry” — our facility’s ‘pillar of respectability’ who has been featured in studies in medical journals and other publications and studies for the past fifty years.

This kind of corruption is, unfortunately, not uncommon in the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry. Peter C Gøtzsche, a physician, researcher and professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen, has firsthand experience with the criminal workings of the pharmaceutical industry, which he exposed in his book “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare.” Gøtzsche detailed the corruption behind exorbitant prices for branded drugs, and outlines that clinical drug trials are often fraudulent, with pharmaceutical companies selecting populations and comparison groups that will support the preferred outcome of the study, controlling and filtering data in-house, cherry picking the results to suit their marketing needs, and hiring professional writers to document their “findings”. He also claims it is not uncommon for academics who were not involved in studies to be paid to be listed as contributors, to give the study credibility despite its “shamelessly biased data.”

A number of other prominent scientists — including 2 former editors-in-chief of major scientific journals — have also publicly stated that up to half of published research is biased or simply untrue. Says Dr. Marcia Angell, physician and longtime editor-in-chief of the New England Medical Journal:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Recent Headlines

Recently Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals made the headlines after he increased the price of the AIDS medication Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 — a 5000% increase. Yet, the drug companies are adding these huge mark-ups all the time. According to a recent article from LiveStrong.com:

“Insight Journal” reports that many of the active ingredients in prescription drugs are manufactured overseas, and that the pharmaceutical industry earns from 2,809 percent markup of the cost of active ingredient in Zestril, to as much as 570,000 percent markup in Xanax; the markup for Xanax is based on a consumer price of $137.79 for 100 tablets and $0.024 for the cost of the active ingredients.

Now, a startling new development comes from the manufacturers of Abilify, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. The corporation intends to turn Abilify into a “digital drug”, and are seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to insert a chip into each capsule that can measure whether a patient is taking their medications as prescribed. If approved, this move would give doctors and courts the power to monitor whether people prescribed these drugs are complying with the dictates of their financially-motivated prescriptions. [11]

While the moral and legal implications of this proposal are staggering, the ludicrous insensitivity of such a proposal was highlighted by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert who joked:

“Nothing is more reassuring to a schizophrenic than a corporation inserting sensors into your body and feeding information to all those people watching your every move.”

You can read about this development here.

So, who are the sick ones in this industry?

Eventually, I started listening more to what ”Ronelle” had to say about her ‘drugging’ — I felt it only right to hear her out. With some collaborative efforts and a bit of manipulating, we were able to switch doctors. Her new doctor met with the legal drug cartel sales representatives but didn’t ‘buy into’ the shiny objects they tried to use to bribe him. “None of these meds really work,” he told one of the drug dealers, “Maybe 15% of the time at best, so we really shouldn’t use them unless it is absolutely necessary. They are only to be used as a last resort.”

Imagine that?! A doctor who still cared for patients, stands by his morals and ethics, and could not be bought-out. Of course, he often was shunned by his colleagues for his ethical tactics that made waves and exposed their corruption.

However, once he began working with Ronelle, he gradually got her off her medications to see how she would function without being doped up 24 hours a day. Eventually, she was reduced from 4 antipsychotics to a more suitable anxiety medication and an antidepressant. She was doing fine and never returned to the hospital again; she was happy, excited, and managed to lose a lot of the weight she had gained from the ‘doping’ her previous psychiatrist had forced on her to line his own pockets.

Unfortunately, the patient that I described in the beginning of this article was not so lucky. He did not get to switch doctors and was forced to continue taking Abilify since he was on civil commitment. He ended up fleeing for two years, taking a flight to Africa, and doing himself serious damage in the process. From what I have heard from others since, he eventually returned to the United States but his life has been destroyed.

Ironically, this doctor we have been discussing prescribed a cocktail of drugs that literally drove a troubled man to desperation, fleeing to Africa as a last ditch effort to escape his mental torture. Yet at the same time, the doctor responsible for this poor man’s state-enforced over-medication — the ‘professional’ who earned enormous sums of money pairing patients with his preferred drugs — used his ill gotten gains to funds his own vacation to Africa later that year, an expedition to escape the stress of “dealing with the mentally ill.”

In Conclusion…

In rounding out this article, it would be remiss of us to not point out the fact that more people die from overdose deaths from taking ‘properly prescribed’ prescription drugs each year than from illegal street drugs. Writes Scott Bonn, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University, in a 2014 article for Psychology Today [12]:

Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher. At least 100 people die from drug overdoses every day in the U.S. More than 36,000 people die from drug overdoses annually and most of these deaths are caused by prescription drugs…

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the rate of antidepressant use in the United States rose by 400 percent between 1988 and 2008…

The problem is getting worse and, frequently, medical doctors enable their drug addicted patients by frivolously filling prescriptions.

Taking the Mask Off” is the new book by Cortland Pfeffer and Irwin Ozborne. Ebook is only 3.99. Cortland Pfeffer spent years as a patient in psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, and jails before becoming a registered nurse and working in the same facilities. Based on his experience, this story is told from both sides of the desk. It offers a unique and valuable perspective into mental health and addiction, revealing the problems with the psychiatric industry while also providing the solution – one that brings together science, spirituality, philosophy, and personal experience.

“Taking the Mask Off: Destroying the Stigmatic Barriers of Mental Health and Addiction Using a Spiritual Solution” is available on Amazon, and Balboa Press.

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“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

iraq

By Irwin Ozborne

“We Were Told to Just Shoot People, and the Officers Would Take Care of Us” – Iraqi War Vet

“Why did you shoot me?” Asked a six-year-old child “That’s not fair. I’m just a girl. I do not do anything, I just had my doll in my hand. Why you shoot me?”

“I was just riding in my car with my family and I got injured so I had to have surgery,” said the child, “…because I got shot [by the] American people.”

She lived, but her family members are a couple of the 165,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the Iraq War since 2003. However, that number is quite low and only based on reported information. However, household surveys are far more accurate and estimate between 400,000 and 650,000 deaths.

“I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi,” said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado

“I remember one woman walking by,” said Jason Washburn, a corporal in the US Marines who served three tours in Iraq. He told the audience at the Winter Soldier hearings that took place March 13-16, 2008, in Silver Spring, Maryland, “She was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading toward us, so we lit her up with the Mark 19, which is an automatic grenade launcher, and when the dust settled, we realized that the bag was full of groceries. She had been trying to bring us food and we blew her to pieces.”

Disclaimer of Cognitive Dissonance:

Before reading any further, I would like to inform the reader that this article will likely provoke strong emotional reaction and some will find it offensive. In fact, I already am aware of many of the negative remarks that will arise, so I will just address them now.

  1. I do not hate the troops and I do not hate people associated with the military. Quite the contrary, I feel badly for them because they are being brainwashed, manipulated, and used to fight bogus wars under the disguise of protecting our freedom; when in reality they are only fighting to secure financial interests for the elite and corporations. Then when they return with PTSD, injuries, mental health, addiction, unemployment, homelessness, anger, and violence, they VA does not provide the services they need. They are treated like pawns to profit those at top.
  1. Not all the troops misbehave and you are focusing on the minority. This true, the majority of the troops are good people who follow orders. However, the orders that they are following are destructive and evil. Many of Hitler’s Gestapo were probably good people following orders, but they will always be viewed as evil by association.
  1. How can you not support them, when they are protecting your freedom? They do not protect my freedoms. All military interventions since World War II, have been solely to secure resources from third world nations to help profit American businesses. This is all done under disguises of threats – such as the Cold War with no clear enemy and the threat of Communism; the War on Drugs with no clear enemy; and the War on Terror.
  1. Death threats and Personal Attacks: I can handle personal attacks, as that just shows me that you have nothing to argue the statements of the article. However, death threats are always quite ironic. The death threats come from veterans or military supporters because they have so much love for their country. They tell me that they dedicated their lives to protecting my freedoms. First, see number three, you did not protect my freedoms. And second, if you care so much about my freedoms, you should be happy that I am exercising them. To threaten to end my life for stating my point of view is not protecting my freedom, that is actually imposing that I am not allowed these freedoms unless it follows a certain point of view.

Immediately after World War II, the United States has been intervening in countries as a means to making the world safe for American corporations; enhancing financial statements of defense contractors and members of congress; preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to capitalism.

In 1953, the United States overthrew the Iran government after they tried to nationalize and profit off their own resources, oil. This led to oppression and torture of the Iran people, while foreign powers took over control of their oil.

Similarly in Guatemala, the democratically elected government was seeking to nationalize the United Fruit Company. The United States turned this into a death field under the disguise of Soviet threat, in reality had huge commercial interests in the United Fruit Company.

The same things happened if you were neutral in the Cold War, you would soon get paid a visit by the United States to provide you “Freedom.” It happened in Italy, Greece, Albania, Indonesia, and the list goes on. Of course the Korean War and Vietnam Wars in which our history books seem to miss. The “Secret Wars” in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand during the Vietnam War.

In the Congo, their first democratically elected president called for economic liberation which was later deemed as communism. Eleven days later he was assassinated by the request of President Eisenhower. The area is one of the richest in the world with natural resources, but the people live in extreme poverty as there is constant genocide in the area as people work in the mines to sell diamonds and cobalt to Western powers.

This list goes on-and-on (Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, Libya, El Savlador, Haiti, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) with more than 70 different countries in which we have intervened with in the past seventy years. That is on average of one country per year we have invaded for nearly a century to support American interests, not protect my freedoms.

Supporting the Troops:

Supporters of the war in Iraq should do some outside research as to what is really happening without just blindly supporting the troops because they are American. In 2007, WikiLeaks revealed footage of U.S. Soldiers killing 12 civilians and wounding two children. However, this was clearly not an isolated incident as Kelly Doughetery, former director of Veterans Against the War, explained:

“The abuses committed in the occupations, far from being the result of a ‘few bad apples’ misbehaving, are the result of our government’s Middle East policy, which is crafted in the highest spheres of US power.”

Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, was a 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped by U.S. Soldiers while they killed her family before ending her life. It was all pre-meditated, and they targeted her because there was only one male living in that house.

“During the time me and Barker were raping Abeer, I heard five or six gunshots that came from the bedroom,” Sgt. Paul Cortez admitted, “After Barker was done, Green came out of the bedroom and said that he had killed them all, that all of them were dead.”

“Green then placed himself between Abeer’s legs to rape her,” he added, “When Green was finished, he stood up and shot Abeer in the head two or three times.”

The entire crime took about five minutes and the girl knew her parents and sister had been shot while she was being raped.

Then Chris Kyle writes a book referring to the Iraqis as the ‘savages’? Before this fictional book is turned this into a propaganda film used to promote further killings.

This is what we are supporting when we say “We Support the Troops.” We are supporting systematic and barbaric killings of many innocent people, to provide for a war that benefits corporations and rich politicians. The Yellow Ribbon we proudly display to show our pride is the modern-day Swastika, showing our support for savagery.

There have been a few cases in which this makes mainstream media. In Afghanistan, an army squad commander led a “Kill Team” in which they killed civilians for sport and collected body parts as trophies. And in 2006, the Al Ishaqi massacre in Iraq included the killing of 11 innocent civilians including five children and four women. The Pentagon portrays this as part of an operation directed at Al Qaeda.

However, so many more every-day occurrences never reached the headlines. A boy with both his arms lost, a dead baby on the pavement, or cars full of dead families that were trying to escape the war zone.

But what happens, when you are an eye-witness to these slayings and reveal the information to the American public? You get sent to prison. Bradley Manning, released thousands of documents to WikiLeaks providing evidence of U.S. torture, abuse, and soldiers laughing as they killed civilians. Did the soldiers get punished? No, but Manning was sentenced to prison for 35 years for exposing the truth.

The Haditha killings in 2005, left 24 civilians dead – including women, elderly and children – who were shot multiple times from close range and were unarmed. The court case drug on for six years before six officers had charges dropped, another found not guilty, and the eighth was convicted of negligent dereliction of duty and sentenced to lowering his rank.

In a few interviews with Marines it was later said that so many civilians were found dead after being killed by unknown factions in the Iraq conflict that civilian deaths seemed routine, and one sergeant testified that he would order his men to shoot vehicles that failed to stop at military checkpoints even if it were possible that children could be in the car.

One of the wars most iconic photographs is that by Chris Hondros’s image of Samar Hassan, age 5, covered in blood screaming after just witnessing her parents being blown away by U.S. Soldiers, as well as her 11-year-old brother severely injured. Her brother then went to the United States for treatment, and was later killed by insurgents in retaliation for going to the United States for treatment.

Then there is three-year-old, Dalal, is sitting in her home with her family in late March of 2003. At three-years-old, we are still exploring the world and trying to figure out how things work. But, for Dalal, she would figure out more truth about how the world works at age three, than most Americans will learn in a lifetime. Her home was hit with a missile, which killed her brother and injured her mother. She also lost her right leg that day.

And Omar, age 7, was traveling to Bahgdad to visit relatives when they came upon confused U.S. troops who opened fire. Omar’s father was shot twice in the back trying to rescue his son. He got him out of the car, but could not rescue his wife – Omar’s mother – as she burnt to death.

“My whole family was devastated by what was happening,” said Omar’s father, “The most devastating was losing my wife.”

The United States refers to these losses of life as “collateral damage.”

An estimated four-percent of Iraq’s population has been killed due to the war since 1991 and that does not include the ongoing poverty, starvation, disease, cancer from depleted uranium and birth defects. That “collateral damages” sounds more like genocide.

Khalid Hamdan Abd lost two of his sons, three cousins, and has his infant daughter wounded with 17 pieces of micro-shrapnel in one eye and 11 pieces of micro-shrapnel in the other eye, and a detached retina. He was brought to America by a group called nomorevictims.com in which they helped provide surgery for his infant daughter to prevent her from going blind. He states:

“It is kind of scary to go back, because even if you are just driving your car peacefully in the street, you might be shot by the American troops for no reason.”

These stories don’t even begin to include the families being wiped away by drone strikes in Pakistan. An estimated 200 children have been killed due to drone strikes in which one 16-year-old states, “we no longer like when skies are blue, because drones don’t fly in gray skies.”

President Obama refers to drone strikes as “targeted killing”; however, they have targeted 41 men, which has resulted in the deaths of 1,147 others.

Buried deep in the $800-billion defense budget, the Pentagon agreed to add in five million dollars to fund families killed by American airstrikes. I guess the next logical step, would be to admit to the ongoing war crimes committed daily in these wars.

Happy Veterans Day.

item03gl1

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Hopeless. Given up, throwing in the towel. This is pointless and I cannot do this anymore. This is a feeling we all have at times. I remember a time when I was working at a rehabilitation facility. I was sitting in a staff meeting and it all boiled over. I screamed at all the staff, “What is the point of this, what are we even doing for these patients! We just take their money, give them 80 dollars a month, and do not help anyone! This is a complete fraud. We write notes so we get paid, not because we care!” “Someone tell me what we have done for Bill!” No one answered. “See we do not help anyone, this is a complete joke and it is wrong.”

The looks on everyone’s faces said it all. It was a small room packed with many people as we had the projector on as we were required to go through all the patients. Some had agreement on their faces. Others disappointment, but mostly shock. People had their heads down. It looked like shame. No one said a thing and after this went on for 10 minutes I walked out in disgust. I went to my office upstairs and closed the door in complete defeat. It was over. I am done.

After years of working in the field of psychiatry and addiction. I had quit internally. I watched over and over as patients would come in and leave. They would come back. No one seemed to be getting any better. We made money either way. We were told to write notes, because that way we could get paid money for that day. It was all about money and filling beds. We had to fill the beds.

At times, it did not seem like the patients cared at all. They had a place to stay for a few months while they attempted to get into new places. The social workers in the community did not care, because they just wanted a place for their patients to be so they did not have to worry about them. The hospitals did not care, they discharged people to us because they needed placement. Hospitals did not care about how a patient was doing, they only cared if the patient had a place to go.

I watched the other staff. They came in and sat in their offices, basically the walking dead. They sit in the offices and stare at the computer, and in the 5 minutes that the patient wanted to talk, they would blow the patients off. They would come to work, goof-off at times, but basically dead on the inside. It was like zombies walking all over the place in a dark dreary place. They would talk about how this whole system is a fraud, how we are making money, patients do not want to be here, the staff themselves do not want to be there. I would listen to this, and then as it got in my head, I would look and that is what I would see.

I gave up. My whole life was a fraud. It was a scheme and what I had lived for, my passion, was now exposed as a complete fraud. It was painful, and defeating.

We had a patient at this time and his name was “Bill.” Well, “Bill” came to us, he would not even talk. He would not eat because he thought food was poisoned. The man was about 90 pounds. Can you imagine thinking your food was poisoned? How scary that must be. He would go into the bathroom and spit until he had no saliva because he thought we were trying to kill him. He would hold his bladder because he feared going to the bathroom. He had a look of fear in his eyes, he was scared of everyone and everything. Then we had to force him to take medications. In his mind, he was at a place that was trying to kill him, poison his food and kill him. He then is told he has to take medication that makes him sick, tired, and shaky. Then he is told he has to take it and is locked up if he refuses. Imagine that as your reality for a moment. He would not even sleep. It was torture I am sure. It was heartbreaking. He had no family to come visit, he would never come to groups, and he would never participate. No one really cared. We got his money every month, we wrote a note on him every day and got paid. He had a place to stay. His social worker figured he was ok and would work on a new placement for him. But treatment? How was he getting any treatment? Staff did not care, they got through their shift. I did not care anymore, this was the blow that was ending it all for me. It is official, this is a fraud and I cannot help anyone or anything. I give up.

Then the staff meeting I described above in which I let loose on everyone. I blew up and it all came out in an angry speech in front of all staff at the meeting.

As I sat in my office with my heart pounding and my heart racing and emotions all over the place. I hear a knock on the door. I say “come in.”

It was Lonny. Lonny was the business manager of the place. He was the one that collected the money and paid the bills. He was a kind and direct man. I always wondered how he could take money from these people who had nothing. He did it every day, which was his job. He was not a bad man, he was a good man. He had a difficult job. He did not speak often, but when he did, it was important and meaningful.

So my thought as he walks in is “Oh my god he is going to give me a lecture about this, but I do not care I am quitting anyways.”

He said, “Can I sit down.”

I said “sure.”

He said to me, “I was thinking about what you said. What have we done for Bill? What are we even doing? And I think I have an answer for you.”

I said, “Ok.” I was thinking, “I cannot wait to hear this one.”

He said, “Well maybe if we do well, Bill will have a place that he can go back to some time in his life and say, you know the world is a scary place, but there is a place that I was at for 90 days that was not so scary. People were nice to me, they took care of me and listened to me. So maybe the whole world is not so bad. Maybe we can plant seeds in his mind that he will use later.”

I said “How do we get to that, he will not even talk. He is scared and no one cares.”

He responded. “Start by saying hi every day. Smile at him. Regardless of his response. Let’s just start with hello.”

This conversation changed my life. I am rarely speechless, but this was one of those times. My mind went blank. It was all still. All the emotions were gone and my mind was blank. It was like once again in my life when I could not take anymore. I was delivered a message to continue and to go on. I was given a spark of hope and a different way of thinking from a most unlikely source.

Every moment in life can teach us lessons, and every person is a possible teacher. If we are not fully present in each moment, we miss out on the lesson. IF we have preconceived notions about others, we miss the lesson. If we are elsewhere in our mind, we miss the moment. If we miss the moment, we mess with the future. Every moment builds on the next, which is how the future is built. Moment after moment.

I never thought this man had this life changing lesson for me. When I was broke, defeated, and had given up on my life’s passion. The man who pulled me up was Lonny.

I started to listen to this advice. I said hi. Nothing at first. For a couple weeks. Hi how are you doing? Then one day, it happened. “Bill” looked up at me, and said hi. Then he smiled. Then he would say he is “doing fine.”

I watched him start to talk to other people as well. Others would talk to him and be good to him. Now the same staff that were zombies were still being zombies. But my mind was not focused on them anymore. It was focused on the 2 or 3 staff that were trying every day to make a difference in each moment that they had. These were the people that I was not noticing before, because my inner turmoil did not want to see it. Now I saw it.

One staff. Her name was “Rochelle,” would give everything she had to each patient and in each moment. If they wanted to walk, she would go for a walk, they were the most important people to her in that moment. She also heard all the negativity, however it did not disturb her. I was in awe of how she did this. Maybe it did bother her, but it did not seem like it. For each patient, the moment they were with her, they were the most important person in the world. How had I not noticed this before?

“Bill” eventually got better. I mean not completely. He shaved his head, he was smiling and talking to us about his life. He actually was eating. He would still eat as fast as possible and cover it up, but he would eat. He was no longer afraid of the bathroom. It was amazing.

I go back to Lonny’s words often. Planting seeds. Sometimes we just need to do the best we can do and let go of the results. Sometimes we won’t see the results. Sometimes the results we see for other people will not be what we want for the other person, but it is not about us. It is about them. It may be that they got the result that they wanted. We cannot define another person’s success by our expectations and standards. What is their goal, and how can we help them. Do they even want help? We are like the passenger with a road map that points out things. They are the driver, it is their journey. Sometimes all we can do is make someone feel safe, or plant seeds. Or make them feel like the most important person in the world for that moment.

I thought for a long time that I planted seeds in “Bill.” Maybe I did. I let go of the results because I did the best I could.

What I know happened is that “Bill” planted seeds in me. So did Lonny. Thank you Lonny.

I thought I was the gardener, however I was the flower.

Or maybe, I was both. Maybe we all are both at all time.

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.