Make America Hate Again

Make America Hate Again

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Maya Angelou

It turns out that it was not just the economy that brought out the Trump supporters but the shame that the white working class had previously felt about themselves. The Right was very successful in campaigning on the premise that it wasn’t the white working class that failed but some other villain – Muslims, Jews, Liberals, African-Americans, Immigrants, Gays, Feminists, the Media  – the list keeps growing.

The liberals and the media did not understand this deep level of classicism between the haves, have less or have-nots.

Right or wrong Donald Trump gave them back some pride. In doing that, he gave license to their rage and has done nothing to stop that.

I now live in an artsy, racially mixed (and by that I mean interracial couples)  neighborhood. I am at the beach and there are many visitors on the weekends. I was walking my dog and  there was a truck double parked facing in the wrong direction. A man driving by got out of his car to ask him what he was doing.  They were both white. The truck was an Escalade type thing. The car was the cheaper Mercedes model. The Mercedes driver wore a Hawaiian flowered shirt. They were arguing and it was getting ugly. As is my New York custom,  I crossed the street to avoid trouble. The truck driver yelled, “You are such a fucking faggot. You are a big loser. Did you vote for Hillary?”

The racism, sexism and xenophobia that Trump used to advance his candidacy had found its way to my street. When things happen right in front of you,  it is hard to stay open and indifferent. White hate speech against white people in a very liberal neighborhood is new. It is nothing new for black or gay people anywhere. Venice is the kind of mixed arty community that people move into to avoid this. The big conversation among strangers here is how are the waves today or look at that sunset. The lid against hate has been blown off. 

I still say that I wasn’t brought up to hate. I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, McCarthyism and my parents’ fears.  I was raised not to sign anything, peacefully protest but not call too much attention to yourself by leading the march.  

A younger couple had heard it as well and they walked up to me. He is blond. She is Asian. They asked how it started. “Stay safe,” they say when they walk away.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Fake News

Fake News

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” Mitch Hedberg

Today President Trump closed his twitter account. The UN  divided up all the Syrian refugees  and every nation in the world took some in. Peace was declared in Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Congo.  Other African countries are going to follow their example.  With a lot of effort on both parts, a peace agreement to the mutual satisfaction  of both sides, was finally reached between Israel and Palestine.  In a historic quick defeat resulting in no casualties, the Arab Nations banded together and defeated Isis. They are planning a joint effort against other terrorist groups as well. Boko Haram returned all the girls to Nigeria. They were unharmed and well taken care of. The Muslims Clerics issued a doctrine saying all girls must attend school. A mysterious virus is killing the opium and coca plants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The Mexican cartels are looking into other businesses – perhaps building supplies. Scientists say that the hole in the ozone layer is noticeably smaller and that climate change is reversing due to the joint efforts of every country in the world.

The Republicans  have repealed and replaced Obama Care with a low-cost high level health care plan pleasing the medical profession, the patients and the insurance companies. Donald Trump has created so many new jobs that we need to take in more immigrants to fill them. Suicide and murder rates are the lowest they have ever been. America has been declared a smoke free country. A new drug has been approved that cures Cancer, Diabetes, MS, Autoimmune Diseases, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Racism. Pharmaceutical companies are working over time to cure-all other diseases as well. American billionaires have all banded together to eradicate homelessness and they are expecting everyone to have homes by 2025. The government has poured money into education and mental illness research and treatment. The police have issued a new  policy stating that if you get to your car while they are writing a parking ticket, they will rip it up. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in one hundred years.  Kindness is up fifty percent  and continues to soar.

If we are going to have fake news and alternative facts, let’s use it for good. Why not fake what we want the world to be like? Why not pretend to be the people that we didn’t think we could be?

Fly safe,

JAZ

Staying Sane In An Insane World

“The most insane things can become normal if you have them around you long enough. A mind can’t seem to hold anything too crazy for too long without finding a way to make it seem normal.” Deb Caletti

You can get used to anything. You think you can’t but you can. When I came home from New Zealand I had horrible anxiety every time I turned on the TV. There was another Presidential order that was always badly rolled out and more protests. There is way too much bad news bombarding us twenty-four hours a day.

A few weeks later, I just feel numb. I am becoming desensitized. Things were said today  that went almost unnoticed. A month ago they would have been front page news. What is going on in America is wrong and it takes all my sanity to get through the day. In the midst of all this I am trying to live a conscious life of kindness and intelligence. Just because America is going insane does not mean that I have to follow.

The cause of these external events have been a long time in the making. They did not just happen. There are no simple answers. Finding a scapegoat to blame sounds very fascist to me. It’s the Muslims. It’s the Feminists. It’s the Immigrants. It’s the Jews. It’s the NRA.  It’s the Whites. It’s the Blacks. It’s ISIS. It’s the Environmentalists. It’s the Left. It’s the RIght. It is so convenient to have someone to blame – especially when said in a confident, authoritative voice. It’s becoming really hard to separate the real threats from the manufactured ones.

Here are some real threats. There are 117 suicides in the U.S. each day compared to 43 murders. There are 129 deaths from accidental drug overdoses. Ninety six  people a day die  in automobile accidents (27 of whom aren’t wearing seat belts)There are 1,315 deaths each day due to smoking, and 890 related to obesity, and all the other preventable deaths from strokes, heart attacks and liver disease.

I need meditation and yoga in my life now.  I can’t exhale this out. Beaches and travel help. I allow a short time period to watch the news and take days off. It looks to me like all this fear mongering is illogical. We are the biggest threat to ourselves.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Watching The Trump Inauguration In New Zealand

“A leader is best if the people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, we did it ourselves.”  Lao Tzu

It was not all Trump all the time on Sky News. They  played a five-minute clip.  We saw Michelle Obama accepting Melania Trump’s gift with awkward newscaster banter about regifting. We heard that “Some Americans were not happy at Trump’s victory and would have preferred someone else” as they cut to a grim faced Hillary Clinton. They played a bit of the speech and commented that ” it was unlike any American inauguration speech that we have heard before.” They showed the first dance at the different inaugural balls.  I did not see KelliAnn’s outfit or Scott Baio till late at night.

What I did see was that our country is on display as a divided America.  Protest signs and Pro Trump T-shirts showed our Democracy until it erupted into violence.

There were big protests in Sydney Australia-not against Trump, but against the hatred and prejudice that was brought out.

Sky News makes no secret of their anti Trump views. This part of the world liked Hillary and wondered why Americans preferred Trump.

They often repeated that the new American focus is domestic. The newscasters say that they are hearing aggressive tweets and not proper strategies. His commitment is to transform Washington and create jobs. They believe he will be running a What’s in it for America  government.

Having low expectations is good for an incoming president. But what they didn’t hear in his Inauguration Speech was a call for unity as his policies continue to divide the country.

“A man who is used to beating to his own drum is now running the free world. He is about to write his own playbook.” We will have to wait and see what happens.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Global Peace Index

Global Peace Index

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love, mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”Talmud

The Global Peace Index measures each year the national peacefulness of a country based on  perceptions of criminality, security officers and police, homicides, incarceration, access to weapons, intensity of internal conflict, violent demonstrations, violent crime, political instability, political terror, weapon imports, terrorism impact and deaths from internal conflict.

I’ve done blogs about it before rating the safest countries and the not  safest countries to visit.

But what really shocks me  is that the US  is a slacker when it comes to promoting positive peace. It is rated 103 on a list of 163 countries. This means that there are are a 102 countries that are safer to visit and live in than the US. Our performance  number is lowered because of the number of people in our prison system and our involvement in conflicts overseas.

There are the usual but many were surprising to me. Uganda is rated 101. Uganda is safer to visit than the US – apparently. Jordan (where I just was) is much safer at 96. Angola, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Gambia, are all in the nineties. Haiti, Burkina Faso Peru, Cuba, Bangladesh  and Paraguay  have a rating in the eighties. Liberia, Benin, Oman and Senegal are in the seventies. Nicaragua, Argentina, Mozambique, Lesotho, United Arab Emirates, Bosnia and Herzegovina are in the sixties.  Madagascar is above Italy  which is rated 39. Chile and Botswana are in the twenties.

According to the data, we are further away from World Peace then ever with the Middle East dragging us down. 

The most peaceful countries continue to improve their rating while the least peaceful ones are getting worse. Violence and conflict are escalating.  The world continues to spend enormous resources on creating and containing violence but very little on peace.

In case you just woke up from a coma, the world is less peaceful this year than it was last year.

Fly safe,

JAZ

#StandWithALeppo

#StandWithALeppo

A monk was teaching a meditation class. He said “if you hear bombs in a neighboring village and your first thought  is where is my family?” Oh they are not there. Everything is ok” than continue to sit and meditate.” Vietnamese Buddhist Monk

There is a striking similarity between the Jewish refugees of World War Two and the Syrian refugees today. Then as now, skepticism of religious and ethnic minorities and concerns that refugees might pose a threat to national security deeply influenced the debate over American immigration policy. The most obvious parallel between the 1930s and today is popular opposition to the admission of refugees. It was strong then, and it’s strong now.

My parents were older. I often asked my mother why no one helped  to save the Jews from being killed in concentration camps.  She said that we really did not believe it was happening. They couldn’t comprehend that the citizens of a cultured and civilized society in modern times were putting people in ovens. It did not sound real.” We heard the rumors. The articles were written on the back page of the newspaper. If was really true, we thought it would be on the front page.”   When the mass extermination and atrocities became public knowledge, she said, ”I did not believe it at the time and had not done anything. I should have chained myself to the White House fence. I should have done something.” They did not have hashtag holocaust back then.

I am reading the heartbreaking twitter voices of Aleppo, watching the videos and seeing the Facebook messages. The words are eerily similar to the things people said in the concentration camps. The waiting to die messages come from parents, children, teachers and journalists. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach as I read the last contact messages. We don’t have the excuse that we weren’t sure it was true. Advanced technology is allowing us to watch innocent people die and is doing nothing to stop it. The world follows Mr Alhamdo, the young English teacher. His video has gone viral and millions of people have seen it. Yet, no one is saving him or his wife and little girl. I read his last message.

It does not make sense that all we can do is #StandwithAleppo. A hashtag is no solution to another humanitarian catastrophe. Big tragedies have big consequences. Are we becoming numb to all the terror in the world? #killingfieldscambodia  #deathcampsdarfur  #sarajevo #rwanda. I thought that since everyone knew what was happening in real-time, they would somehow be saved. The International community and humanitarian organizations would be able to help them. The repercussions for inaction will end up being far worse than the choice to take action would have been. The world missed yet another call from God by ignoring Aleppo. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Xenophile

PRONUNCIATION:

(ZEN-uh-fyl, ZEE-nuh-)

MEANING:
noun: One who is attracted to foreign things or people.

“Americans are very friendly and very suspicious, that is what Americans are and that is what always upsets the foreigner, who deals with them, they are so friendly how can they be so suspicious they are so suspicious how can they be so friendly but they just are.” Gertrude Stein

I have just learned this word which is the opposite of xenophobe a word I know and have heard too much lately. I am a xenophile. As soon as someone speaks to me in a foreign accent, I want to know where they are from, how long they have been here and how do they like it. I want to know about their country as well. The longer I speak to someone who’s first language is not English, the more I begin to sound like English is not my first language either. It is a bit of traveling in my day without leaving the country. It sparks a memory or makes me think about planning a trip.

Im overly friendly when I meet someone who is from a country I have just visited – a waiter, a parking lot attendant, a sales clerk or the person on-line behind me at the grocery store. I’ll just randomly start talking about their state or village. It’s definitely awkward. I don’t have a fear of saying the wrong thing because I usually do. I smile, not like a prom queen, but because I’m genuinely interested in anything they are going to say about their country. It usually goes well. People like to talk about themselves and like that you know their part of the world.

You get to hear their impressions of America and Americans. One of the things people have to get used to here is that we use over the top adjectives and smile a lot. We are not happy all the time and all the smiling is cute but confusing to cultures that don’t smile a lot or New Yorkers. Everything is not awe-inspiring or awesome to people who know the meaning of the word.

We like to say we are “Irish or “South African” or “Italian” to people who are actually from those countries. They don’t like it.

They think it is funny that we write the month before the day. I always get annoyed with the rest of the world for not doing that.

I notice that when I talk about politics to people who are not American I am very PC but I get defensive when they criticize our government even though I feel the same way.

Around the world, they are starting to say that we are a people who are always shooting at each other like we have nothing else to do. We are a scary country to visit now.

I met a nice looking man who had been here for three months legally and looking for a job. He had a beautiful accent and I couldn’t figure it out where it was from.  He had always heard Americans liked people from different backgrounds because that was who we were, yet he felt his accent was keeping him from finding a job. Though he had a business degree, he was willing to take any job and start at the bottom. i said it was probably that he had no work experience here. With the condition of the world these days, being a xenophobe is definitely becoming more popular than being a xenophile.

Fly safe,
JAZ