Independence Day

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A Despot in all but Title

What is your fondest memory of the 4th of July?

For me, a first-generation immigrant to the United States of America, it is a barbecue first. And fireworks, but I’ve detested them – ever since my dad educated me with “Hey look! There’s a $5 note burning. There’s a $10 note exploding in sparks and smoke. There’s a 20 shooting up into the sky, lost forever in a blaze of fire.” A barbecue stays with you, a pleasant memory, provided the sauces are good.

Now, older and with a more thoughtful bent of mind, it is the preamble to the original Declaration of Independence of the founding of this nation.

More specifically, it is these words: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a desire to reduce them under absolute despotism…” I am reminded that the forefathers fought resolutely against the subjugation of a population to the whims and dictates of any man – and that this is the day they declared their freedom from such tyranny. They did so in a document filled with the ideals that they hoped this nation, as one people, could grow into.

Neither they nor their union of colonies was perfect. Such perfection, they hoped, could be achieved through hard work and industry, and steadfast adherence to a Constitution and a system of governance they established with the founding of this nation. A union, freed from tyranny, founded as a nation of laws.

And this, exactly, is what is in grave peril at the moment. A demagogue, chosen by a mesmerized mob titillated by his racism, barefaced lies, bravado, and flouting of ethics and principles, now usurps every power of this co-equal system of governance unto himself. The rest of his innumerable offences are all in plain view…and those who disclose them are branded “enemies of the people.”

He demands – in stark contrast with the conduct and humility of so many before him – glorification by a Military Parade on this day. Tanks, he demands, and planes, soldiers, all marching in a show presided over by…himself. And he makes this a ticketed, paid, event for those who can pay. He forces hierarchy upon the people in a celebration for the people.

He is a showman and a conman…and he is the greatest peril for this nation.

What will the next Fourth of July bring?

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This is My Neighborhood!

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I never imagined that I’d go through an event like this of this past Friday. It brings Senator Martha McSally’s recent #MeToo revelations immediately to mind. While painful and disturbing, it can be useful: I can now guide my children, and the students I teach, employing this very personal experience. What’s recounted below isn’t meant to be read as a story as much as a detailed and factual narration. There will be more to come as this immigrant works with the local “Protect and Serve” folks…

On the 9th of March, 2019, I drove to an address, 1735 S Glenview, Mesa, AZ 85204, to pick up a shower caddy advertised as available on the social network Nextdoor. It was approximately 7:25 pm and the streets were dark as I drove on Baseline Road toward Mesa. Construction work had reduced lanes on Baseline Road to just one heading west, as I approached Glenview street, and I turned right into this street to get to the address less than an eighth of a mile ahead as my car GPS indicated. This side street was darker than the main road, and I strained to see house numbers as I drove at low speed along the neighborhood street.

I’d passed what appeared to be #1725 and was at #1711 when I noticed a pickup truck overtake me, turn around on the street, and stop at an angle in the middle of the road, boxing me in. Looking up, I saw a driver demanding that I roll down my window. At the same time, I’d noticed a man walking a dog along the street while looking at house numbers. Deciding NOT to engage with this belligerent driver, I slipped past the pickup truck, turned around in the street, and parked beside #1711. As I got down to ask the man walking his dog for directions, I noticed the large white pickup truck get off the middle of the road, move ahead, and park right in front of my vehicle. Once again, this driver seemed intent on preventing me from leaving without some sort of exchange with him.

I asked the Asian gentleman walking his dog for house #1735. As he answered me, I saw the driver of the large white pickup approach the both of us. As he reached us, before saying anything at all, he hit my right arm with his fist and yelled that I was driving too fast in this (his) neighborhood. Taken completely by surprise at his physical violence, I could only manage to say that his behavior was unacceptable and that it may need to be reported. He retorted, “Go ahead, call the cops, and we’ll discuss how you were driving in this neighborhood,” or something to that effect. The Asian gentleman stood frozen while all this transpired.

The belligerent driver from the large white pickup truck was Caucasian, of about 5′ 4” in height, almost a foot shorter than me at 6′ 3”. He sported very closely cropped dark hair and seemed of a rather slight build. I clearly outweighed him and could’ve readily defended myself, but the speed of his violence surprised me. My phone in hand, I again indicated that I’d need to call the police to report this altercation. As I fumbled with the camera “app” on my phone, I noticed him going around and snapping a picture of my car’s license plate. He came around behind me and very violently hit my hand and the phone I held, slamming it to the ground, and shocked me again. He effectively prevented my taking a picture of his license plate, and likely damaged the phone too. I hastened to pick my phone up to ensure it was still functional, while he threatened me with “If I ever see you in this neighborhood again, I’ll beat the shit out of you,” as he passed by me. The Asian gentleman walking his dog had retreated a short distance away, near my vehicle, as all this occurred in his presence.

With my phone’s condition unknown, I memorized his license plate: 8S8XX, an AZ Veteran license plate, white in the background. Having NOT made any eye contact with him, I noticed only that my attacker had on a dark shirt and possibly blue jeans. Verifying that my phone still worked, I saw that the attacker sped away while I called 911 and stayed on the line, reporting as many details as I could remember then until a couple of officers came by into the street. The officers took my statement and asked if I’d like to press charges, which I did. The officer demanded of the Asian gentleman, “You did not see anything, did you?” – while I listened dumbfounded. Upon the officer’s second such demand, the Asian man corroborated my version of events, especially that I had been physically attacked and hit by the pickup truck driver. I showed the officers scratches on my phone cover from the fall, thanked them for responding, thanked the Asian gentleman for his assistance, and walked on to #1735 a couple of houses down the same street.

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Mindfulness – the Beginnings

Sunset over the Cheyenne Black Hills

Sunset over the Cheyenne Black Hills

A good friend complained that “Mindfulness” is hard. We were talking about “Being in the moment, the present.”

“I need a few tips…I often slip the present, and, moments later, can hardly remember what happened.”

I asked her to think of how she could be a participant and observer simultaneously. To observe all that she does.

“So hard to practice this – ‘observing.'”

Told her that more would be forthcoming, but that it would be a long and involved subject. Not something gained with just a few tips, in other words. I’d been looking into it for the past many years, ever since publishing ‘Humbling and Humility.’ But it wasn’t a topic I was entirely clear about, enough that I could teach someone else.

I did get around to it…the beginnings of my own thoughts on this esoteric subject.

“Some simple exercises, relating to everyday activities and experience, can help.
“For instance – and this may seem rather simplistic – take coloring picture outlines, something we do as children (if we’ve had parents who’d understood the value therein!). While you fill the picture outlines out with different colors, pay attention – close attention – to whether you are keeping within the lines, filling the outlines out completely, and doing so uniformly. Notice these aspects of what you do…and you are simultaneously an observer and a doer.
“There is no pressure to be a perfectionist in the task, just a requirement to be observant.  I think you do this as a practicing dentist…perhaps because you do practice that activity much more than others. What this builds in you is a small sense of detachment from the task itself; your mind is in part engaged in the task and in part observant of how you do. You are a little more “mindful,” because you are engaged in the activity from different perspectives…
“Another is a higher-level contemplation exercise that spans a duration of time, and, in this case, a day. Each day, ask yourself the following questions (and you can add or subtract as you may wish to): What experiences of the day, however routine, gave you pleasure, and what caused you pain? What were you complimented for, and what did you praise? What were fortunate moments of chance, and of misfortune?  What deeds were you grateful for, or were repulsed by? What were your acts of giving, of kindness, and what were acts of taking, of harm to others? What did you accomplish this day?
“This exercise, spread over a duration of a day,  or a week, a year, or phases of your life, helps comprehend and assimilate key aspects of your own self-development…and social scientists believe that such contemplation leads to a certain knowledge of oneself and feeds happiness. This too is engaging your mind actively in its own progress in time…another act of observation simultaneous with participation. You become, to an extent, conscious of how you live and experience life.
“In one ancient book, there is an explanation of two different pathways to learning and mastery of oneself: the path of the doer, and the path of the thinker. But without doing, one remains academic in one’s learning, and without thinking, one engages only a part of one’s full mind…hence I think of pursuing the path of the the doer and the thinker simultaneously, one of the participant and the observer. And with internal detachment between these mental activities, I think one is neither consumed in, or by, the necessary participation, nor is one lost or lacking in validation along the path of the thinker.
“Does all this make sense? Note that this is just one aspect that relates to the mind; the path toward mindfulness is holistic and involves many other exercises and learning experiences. This is just a taste!

 

Her response? “MY Goodness!! (and a couple of overwhelmed emoji’s)”

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Do what’s right because it’s right: A mother’s words

Enjoy this blog…and if you do, download HnH (Kindle format) free Feb 5 to 7 here: http://goo.gl/FKUnCM – reviews are most appreciated!

Humbling and Humility

A Mother’s Words to a Soldier in Battle

Isn’t life a battle too? Between hunger and satiation, exposure and shelter, ignorance and knowledge, fear, of the unknown, and the thrill of exploration? Do we not navigate through these choppy states of mind toward fulfillment, enlightenment, and equanimity?

Then there is the never-ending battle between opinions about right and wrong, ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and judgment, a raucous and often uncivil debate. News media carried comments from a duck hunting zealot on this topic in the past day. He declared, at a prayer meeting, that atheists cannot condemn rape, a harmful violation of unwilling and fearful human selves, because, in his opinion, there is no right and wrong for such folks. And, since there is no ‘judgment day’ for them, those who inflict such harm upon the wives and daughters of atheists may do so without concern for consequences. What good do…

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Posted in Literary

FREE Download: Humbling and Humility, Sept. 21 – 23

AZ Sunset in July

Arizona Sunset in July (Gilbert)

Take a break from the incessant scandals in sensational media these days. Read a book that gives you an honest and unvarnished view of contemporary life for immigrant fathers in America.

Download ‘Humbling and Humility,’ FREE Spt. 21 – 23, from Amazon® here.

It’s the fourth anniversary of the publication of my first work…if it makes you think, and feel, please do post a review. Thanks!

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FREE: HnH E-Book, July 16 to 18

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Humbling and Humility (cover image)

 

Did you listen to the public exploration of FBI agent Peter Strzok’s alleged bias in Congress?

I was struck by the agent’s passionate defense of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an institution under the Department of Justice. His responses elicited widespread applause, while the personal attacks by a politician were met with cries of “Shame!” and queries about whether he took his necessary medication.

So this is what we’ve come to now: politicians working assiduously to degrade public trust in the institutions chartered with investigating corruption.

Is it only “Washington” that is so afflicted? I beg to disagree: my own story, penned in Humbling and Humility, may surprise you.

HnH (the ebook) is free through Amazon from July 16 through 18. Get it, read it, and let everyone know what you think!

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Lightning struck…

2003 V-Rod

2003 Harley-Davidson V-Rod, 100th Anniversary Edition

 

Yes, that sort of lightning. A brain surge. Inspiration.

I’d been searching for quite a while for the subject matter of my next book. Nothing stood out, in the melee and circus of life in the you-knighted states, that was compelling (not even my new toy in the picture)…and true love, that I’d promised to write about in HnH, seemed trite in this age of extreme self-love.

Until yesterday. When walking out of a local Indian store with my son and daughter, into the hot and sultry air outside, someone at the door thrust a pamphlet toward my son. Never one to refuse anything given to him, he grabbed it – and opened it immediately. An ad for professional Black Magic elimination, for cures of all Evil, Evil Eyes, Ill Omens…the common con art in India. There was that omnipresent hand symbol – for Palmistry – on its face.

“Throw it in the trash bin, son!”

“I will, Dad, let me look through it.” I shook my head.

“Today, in this day, and they spread this superstition here! Don’t bring it into the car!”

“I WILL throw it away, Dad!” He squished the pamphlet into his pocket as we got in to drive back home.

But that got me thinking. This unshakable belief in superstition, in the supernatural – where does that spring from?

After we dropped my daughter at her mother’s, my son and I watched the first Jurassic Park – it’d become available on Netflix. As is my intolerable habit, I criticized every failing in the making of that movie.

A night’s troubled sleep after that, and it wouldn’t leave me: I must write. About the ‘Witches of Benganur,’ that a kind plantation owner, who fed a hungry teenage student on his lone Chakrayatra many decades ago, had requested of me.

He died a few months after that curious journey I’d undertaken. But his exhortation to me remained a part of my soul.

That aspiration will live again.

 

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Posted in Literary