Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bill Pelke, Rais Bhuiyan and the Alaska Fish Fry

Bryan Stevenson on Empathy

The Toll of Representing Those on Death Row Posted: July 24, 2012 Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, recently delivered the keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Open Door Community in Atlanta. Mr. Stevenson discussed how defending those on death row often takes a personal toll on those engaged in this work, even to the point of feeling "broken." But, he added, "I’ve learned some very basic things, being a broken person. I’ve learned that each person is more than the worst thing they’ve ever done. I believe that if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar; if somebody takes something, they’re not just a thief; even if somebody kills someone, they’re not just a killer. And because of this, I believe that we have this need, this mission, this calling, to embrace them and to recognize this 'something else.'” To read the full speech Go to

Updates on Meds Used in Executions

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reuters Report: Murders & Firearms in Britain and the US

from Juan Cole: Informed Comment  posted on Reader Supported News on 22 July 12 

umber of Murders, United States, 2010: 12,996
Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775

Number of Murders, Britain, 2011*: 638
(Since Britain's population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 3,095 US murders)

Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2011*: 58
(equivalent to 290 US murders)

Number of Murders by crossbow in Britain, 2011*: 2
(equivalent to 10 US murders).
For more on murder by firearms in Britain, see the BBC.
The international comparisons show conclusively that fewer gun owners per capita produce not only fewer murders by firearm, but fewer murders per capita overall. In the case of Britain, firearms murders are 30 times fewer than in the US per capita.
Do hunters really need semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapons? Is that how they roll in deer season? The US public doesn’t think so.
* British crime statistics are September to September, so 2011 is actually 2010-2011.
The photo above is from Op Ed at Denver Post:

Denver Tragedy from a Muslim cab-driver Perspective

Denver Tragedy URL to videos  I am not a FB user but here are some leads for more discussion
on this horrific event -- including a reference to forgiveness from one of the surviving victims...comments are also interesting and diverse.

The Denver Shooting: The More Op Ed

This article cross-posted from WhoWhatWhy

One of the most striking things about shooting incidents in how common they are. Another striking thing is how often the media fails to note the previous point, or to explore what that means -- or what might be done about it.

Late last night, a gunman walked into a movie theater in a Denver suburb, killed 12 and injured 50. Two days earlier a gunman opened fire outside a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in an incident in which at least 17 were hurt. These were not really so exceptional. Every year, about 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence, and every week, people calmly enter our schools, our workplaces, our leisure gathering spots and open fire on innocent bystanders.

Whenever we tweet or post about these, often the only people we hear from are those who say we need more guns not less. "If I had been there with my gun..." The problem, of course, is the public at large is being asked to arm everyone and trust that, while the rest of us cower, "the right people" will quickly dispatch "the wrong people" in the modern equivalent of the Shootout at the OK Corral. No mention of whether the teacher is supposed to be armed...when a nut walks into a preschool and starts firing away.

Meanwhile, the media doesn't have any answers at all. Each time such an incident occurs, they primarily evince a morbid interest in the grotesque details of the incident and the psycho of the day. In this case, early indications were that the suspect in custody, James Holmes, said to be a dropout from a medical school, had some kind of imagined association with the film being shown, the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

And what is our response to all this? We were told that the president was awakened at 5:25am by his counter-terrorism adviser. He then issued the following statement:
"As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come."
Later, in a press conference, he said: "Such violence, such evil is senseless."
Romney, in a statement, said:
"Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief.  We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice."
That's about the sum total of leadership these days. Avoid the core issue, pray, and extend sympathies to the families of the victims. No mention of systemic and endemic factors, or of taking action to prevent this kind of tragedy in the future.

A Brutal Culture Begets Violence
In the case of the Tuscaloosa shooter, we had some useful particulars. But sadly, this kind of actionable information is just too "big picture" for us to contemplate:
"There were signs Wilkins' life was unraveling.

"He divorced from his wife of 16 years around 2005 and a credit union last year tried to garnish wages at his then-employer, Capstone Oilfield Services, to collect a more than $15,000 debt but couldn't because he had declared bankruptcy. And the co-owner of the FedEx store where Wilkins turned himself in said Wilkins talked about being high on drugs during the shootings."
From that, we can see that Wilkins was experiencing stresses and crises. And at least some of them are related to the economic difficulties most of us are facing. And those are caused, at least in some cases, by greed and relentless pressure for profits, irrespective of the harm to others. That is, stresses are not all our fault. The ruthless bottom-line priorities of our society and the lack of protections for consumers and workers are factors in people becoming alienated and enraged. (We wrote a bit about regulating financial excesses the other day -- you can read that here.)

Gun violence is also due, in part, to the power of gun manufacturers -- which constitute way too big an industry altogether. While it's surprisingly hard to find accurate totals on firearms production, which in itself is troubling, according to a gun manufacturers' association, even a decade ago American firms were pumping out more than 3 million combined rifles, shotguns, revolvers and pistols in a single year. And those numbers have been climbing.

That's a mind-boggling figure. Indeed, we live in a country where firepower, both that held by individuals and by the state, is, frankly, pretty deranged. No other country on earth so bristles with means of killing -- and no other country thinks it is quite so healthy an entertainment for us and our children to sit at a console for hours and try to "kill" other people--including civilians.No other country thinks it is moral behavior to use pilotless drones to kill -- in large part -- people whose only crime is that they're young men of military age.Next Page  1  |  2

Author, investigative journalist, editor-in-chief at

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BILL MOYERS on the National Rifle Association (NRA)

"the NRA is the enabler of death - paranoid, delusional, and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel hoax, a cruel and deadly hoax."

The NRA's Dark Gun Culture

Reader Supported News

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company
21 July 12

ou might think Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of and spokesman for the mighty American gun lobby, The National Rifle Association, has an almost cosmic sense of timing. In 2007, at the NRA’s annual convention in St. Louis, he warned the crowd that, "Today, there is not one firearm owner whose freedom is secure."

Two days later, a young man opened fire on the campus of Virginia Tech, killing 32 students, staff and teachers. Just last week LaPierre showed up at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty here in New York and spoke out against what he called "Anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens' right to self-defense."

Now at least 12 are dead in Aurora, Colorado, gunned down by a mad man at a showing of the new Batman movie filled with make-believe violence. One of the guns the shooter used was an AK-47-type assault weapon that was banned in 1994. The National Rifle Association saw to it that the ban expired in 2004. The NRA is the best friend a killer's instinct ever had.

Obviously, LaPierre's timing isn’t cosmic, just coincidental; as Shakespeare famously wrote, "The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves." In other words, people. People with guns. There are an estimated 300 million guns in the United States, one in four adult Americans owns at least one and most of them are men. The British newspaper The Guardian, reminds us that over the last 30 years, "The number of states with a law that automatically approves licenses to carry concealed weapons provided an applicant clears a criminal background check has risen from eight to 38."

Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence may cost our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns.

So why do we always act so surprised? Violence is alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass and the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.

We are after all a country which began with the forced subjugation into slavery of millions of Africans and the reliance on arms against Native Americans for its Westward expansion. In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks - we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.

Nonetheless, we have become so gun loving, so blasé about home-grown violence that in my lifetime alone, far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined. In Arizona last year, just days after the Gabby Giffords shooting, sales of the weapon used in the slaughter - a 9 millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistol - doubled.

We are fooling ourselves. That the law could allow even an inflamed lunatic to easily acquire murderous weapons and not expect murderous consequences. Fooling ourselves that the second amendment’s guarantee of a "well-regulated militia" be construed as a God-given right to purchase and own just about any weapon of destruction you like. That's a license for murder and mayhem and it's a great fraud that has entered our history.

There's a video of which I'd like to remind you. You can see it on YouTube. In it, Adam Gadahn, an American born member of al Qaeda, the first U.S. citizen charged with treason since 1952, urges terrorists to carry out attacks on the United States. Right before your eyes he says: "America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"

The killer in Colorado waited only for an opportunity, and there you have it - the arsenal of democracy transformed into the arsenal of death and the NRA - the NRA is the enabler of death - paranoid, delusional, and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel hoax, a cruel and deadly hoax.

Find VIDEO and more on Reader Supported News  here
(Blogger's note from Journey Blog: I'm leaving some select comments from Readers Supported Media (RSN)
+13 # ronnewmexico 2012-07-21 08:56
Assault weaponry have no place in do extended capacity clips..but

the flip side of this is invariably on this thread will come response stating....all guns everywhere must be disallowed...which is unrealistic considering some rural environments and professions(cat tle or sheep ranching for instance)....

So the NRA uses support this....assault weaponry...any abridgement on a right to own a gun leads to outlawing all guns...which is a completely irresponsible position in some circumstances.

so they have support in rural communities....because in a sense the opposition to the NRA is so fervent in their ideology.

I don't like to blame the victim...but that is the situation in this national discussion.

The baby is thrown out with the the interest of urban safety the rural experience is discounted and rendered extreme is the position of gun control..when really it is not....

Even rural peoples singularly considered know...assault rifles with extended capacity clips...have not a place in america. Mix that with no guns at all and you for no restrictions on gun ownership.
+27 # Barbara K 2012-07-21 09:35
Too many people don't realize that the NRA is a political entity, and not needed to own guns. The NRA is there to raise money for the Republicans, and have been doing so for many years. People are gullible enough to send them hundreds of dollars of dues because they think they are making them safe. People don't need the NRA to be safe. I'll bet many of their "members" don't know where their money is going. NRA rakes in money all over the place to support the Republicans, that is why the Rs support every whim of the NRA.
+8 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:05
The Republican constituency take pride in their ignorance. They shovel millions to creeps like Pat Robertson, who entered the ministry with the lint in his pocket, but who now owns a diamond mine in the Congo. And what has he ever really done for them? Send them a prayer... wow, that's really worth millions. The Republican constituency are wrong-minded and wrong-headed but as Mike Papantonio says, "You'll never change them."
-3 # Glen 2012-07-21 10:14
I agree, Barbara. The NRA may be offensive but it is the individual that makes choices. The NRA does not make it for them. It is a national disgrace that citizens cannot seem to overcome societal and family breakdown. Education and gun training is utilized by only a few.

The flip side of it all is that the U.S. is producing, as I have said, psychotics, due to all manner of social ills and little parenting. Teachers have seen it coming for decades. How to overcome that?

Availability of guns would not be an issue if there weren't psychotics, angry unhappy individuals, and soon, very desperate people without jobs. Fear and anger are a deadly duo.
+4 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:36
Why not give everyone their own tank? Why not an anti-aircraft gun?
+1 # DHa7763100 2012-07-21 10:46
good one
+4 # JSRaleigh 2012-07-21 10:21
Too many people don't realize that the NRA is a political entity, and not needed to own guns. The NRA is there to raise money for the Republicans, ...

I believe you have the relationship reversed. The Republicans are captive to the NRA, who are there for the gun manufacturers who actually fund them.
+16 # macrhino 2012-07-21 09:43
Assault weaponry have no place in do extended capacity clips..but

the flip side of this is invariably on this thread will come response stating....all guns everywhere must be disallowed...which is unrealistic considering some rural environments and professions(cat tle or sheep ranching for instance)....

Absolute nonsense. There is almost no one in the pro gun control community who is for a total ban on weapon ownership. It is almost unknown. I notice that no one in the comments are calling for total gun bans. This is a red herring and detracts from the real argument.

I grew up in the back woods. The rural argument is silly, again only the US has rural communities?

The problem is simply the easy access to guns. PERIOD.
-6 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:08
I don't know what you are talking about, "easy access of guns." I own three pistols and I had to go through gun courses, get finger printed in every state I have lived in, had to register them and pay fee after fee for them... You make it sound like you can pick guns off of trees. Nonsense!
+2 # Brooklyn Girl 2012-07-21 10:31
That's only because you chose to obey the law.

Many gun owners don't.
+3 # DHa7763100 2012-07-21 10:52
Well you can go to Arizona and buy any type of gun you want...walk out the door and sell it to somebody in the parking lot. That's were all this fast and furious crap come from. Arizona Prosecutors will not prosecute someone for selling guns to the cartel because it is LEGAL. An 18 yr old can buy 200 assult rifles, and because he owns them, he is FREE to sell to whomever he wants to without prosecution,
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:37
Why do you need three of them?
+1 # JTHinSD 2012-07-21 10:37
So, what, exactly, is "easy" access to guns? Do you have one? Have you gone through the steps to legally procure one?
-18 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:01
You don't take into account home invasions everywhere, especially for a certain class of people, the elderly. You have no idea what it is like to be old and at the mercy of every wiseacre sociopath that is running around with the blessings of the police. I favor the "Castle Law" and weapons are what makes the difference between having enough security in the house at night to sleep and NEVER being able to sleep knowing that your neighborhood home invader lives only a few streets down.
+5 # Brooklyn Girl 2012-07-21 10:32
Locks and window alarms work just fine.

Personally, I wouldn't trust an elderly person with a gun. I'm 62 and I can't see clearly without my glasses.
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:37
Statistically, you're more likely to kill yourself with your own weapon than you are likely to use it in self-defense.
...The NRA has done a fantastic job of scaring the Stupid People that their 2nd Amendment Rights are being taken away just because they can’t have magazines with 20, 30, 50 or 100 shells.
+3 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 08:57
Psychotropic drugs have been a factor in the majority of these mass murders...and the drug companies have actively surpressed the have the families because it reflects on them personally...Fort Hood, Columbine, Virginia, Arizona...just do a search for 'psychotropic drugs and mass murders'...for there is a ton of articles and studies making that point.

It ain't the guns, it those who use 'em!
+21 # SearchingfortruthSarah 2012-07-21 09:14
But what legitimate need is there for an assault weapon the fires so many bullets that it can kill 'en masse'? Besides war?
+5 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:14
Why does the US government need six thousand nuclear bombs when two will completely destroy the planet?
Ask these bloody corporations when is enough enough?
+2 # SearchingfortruthSarah 2012-07-21 09:16
According to your premise "it aint the guns but those who use 'em" If those who use psychotropic drugs have such easy access, does that make easy access responsible?
+1 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 09:57
Can't argue assault weapons personally...

If those who use psychotropic drugs get so loosened emotionally that they see insanity and violence as their deal, then maybe those who use them should be more closely monitored by those who prescribe the drugs...ey?

You propose to take away a privilege/right of tens of millions while the 'drug inhibited' walk the streets?

How about a law that states that if a doctor prescribes a psychotropic, then they MUST meet with the patient once a week and monitor their behavior?
+1 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:15
The easiest access is a stolen weapon. No fees, no classes, no registration, no limits.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:38
And with so many weapons available, it's pretty easy to steal them.
+3 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:12
Finally! Someone with some common sense! The bad guys will ALWAYS get guns, and penalizing a whole country of law-abiding citizens for the disturbed acts of a few is just as INSANE! Stop going after the low hanging fruit. If you really want to stop the gun attacks, ask what is motivating it... and you'll probably find that it is the insane way the adults are running this country and the behavior coming out of the kids is just a symptom of the insane adult behavior kids have to grow up with. Stop the wars, take care of the planet, pay people livable salaries, put in good health care. When the parents stop bouncing off of walls, so will the kids!!!
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:41
Do you think England has fewer bad guys than we do? Bad guys are EVERYWHERE. What makes you think we have more of them in the U.S.? With so many bad guys walking every corner of our planet why are so many of the bad guys able to commit murder in the U.S.? I would argue that it's much easier to murder someone with a gun than it is without one. It seems pretty obvious.

Unless you think England is a magical land of fairy princesses and unicorns where bad guys never tread...
-1 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:22
Asking about more effective gun control is closing the door after the horses have left the barn. The questions to be asking are:
Why are kids being attracted to this? Are the video games and all of the murder they watch on TV programming their brains? Do we glorify war with marching bands, medals, parades and ribbon stickers on our cars? Do we buy our kids toy guns for play? Who is raising out kids, parents or the TV? Is this country in such a state of fear and anxiety because of the clowns in Washington that this toxic atmosphere is affecting our kids? Are the kids witnessing massive amounts of for-profit dysfunction everywhere they look? Isn't their behavior a sign of adult dysfunction? Our kids aren't growing up with peace and love, they are growing up with hostile dysfunction and you wonder why they are going on shooting rampages??? Wake up!
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:43
They have video games everywhere in the world. Japan LOVES video games and ESPECIALLY the violent ones. Look at Japan's murder rate. Look at how many guns they have.

+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:45
That's right. The community - not the individual. Regardless of what Scalia says, the 2nd Amendment isn't a license to buy a nuclear warhead and keep it in your garage.
+2 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 10:01
Not until the psychotropic drug users are differentiated as a 'must monitor on a short window during use' basis.

Do that research on the connection between psychotropics and mass sheds an entirely different perspective on the issue.
0 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 10:05
I agree about the 'tyranny' needing potential for personal defense, but ANY ref to open carry and all that testosterone paranoid delusion is out of the question.

The odds of anyone being struck by lightening or hit by a golf ball are about the same as anyone being around a psychotropic drug addled mass murderer.

All this knee-jerk about being safe is just a psycho-trick to keep Americans in's just not all that relevant in the true scheme of how life unfolds.
0 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 10:45
F.E.A.R. ='s False Evidence Appearing Real

+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:49
Actually Colorado has some of the most lax laws in the country regarding concealed weapons. Maybe the other people were aware of the statistical likelyhood that you're more likely to kill yourself with a gun accidentally than be murdered by a stranger.

Ask my cousin who was a competitive shooter and had won several trophies. Oh that's right. You CAN'T ask him. He accidentally blew his head off in his garage after he tripped. That may sound cold, but it's the honest truth. We were close and I don't think he's offended by me mentioning the truth of what happened to him.
+4 # macrhino 2012-07-21 09:48
The "Psychotropic drugs" comment from paulrevere is even more nonsense. This is called "all the world is the US" argument. There are places with much easier access to Psychotropic drugs that do not have nearly the number of shootings of this type (Holland, Germany, Denmark). This is not to say it is unknown but it is very rare.

The it ain't the guns "argument" is a good indication of why we have these problems.

The logic error expressed here is better stated, “the inanimate object is not a significant part of the equation.” This is the "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument.

This argument is over-simplistic. The "human factor" in this "equation" is a constant, not a variable. If we want to change the outcome of the "equation" we have to change the variables.

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine 2 separate groups of ten men each. These groups both have an equal desire (human factor) to clear a large forest that is situated next to their respective villages. But only one group has access to chainsaws or power saws. The other group only has knives. Which group (of equal motivation) will be more successful at clearing the forest? CHAINSAWS DON'T CLEAR FORESTS, PEOPLE CLEAR FORESTS.

Guns are power tools for killing. They are enablers. The argument is, "How do we severely reduce killings?" One very effective way is to reduce access to these power tools for killing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

DENVER COVERAGE (Democracy Now!)

Denver in Middle of the Night

Denver Shooting Rampage Leaves 12 Dead, 50 Wounded in Latest of Unparalleled U.S. Gun Attacks

At least 12 people have been killed and more than 50 wounded in a mass shooting at a movie theater outside of Denver. A number of the wounded are in critical condition. It was one of the worst mass shootings in the United States since the killings of 32 people at Virginia Tech five years ago. The shootings have called to mind the killings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, only 25 miles away from the theater, where 12 students and a teacher were killed in a mass shooting spree by two students in 1999. We go to Denver to speak with Mary Kershner, a registered nurse, gun control advocate and founding member of Nurses Advocating Gun Safety. She has lost three members of her family to gun violence.Watch/Listen/Read

NOTE again the STRONG concern for Gun Control by a medical professional who's lost THREE to gun shooting!

Plz go -- when you get a chance -- below to read two personal posts on this Journey blogsits about this horrific tragedy....

DENVER in heart and soul

WOW -- sometimes something can really hit HARD....

I'm especially hit in the SOUL by the recent horrific shooting in DENVER for all kinds of reasons: ONE: I was born in Denver and have relatives still there. TWO: I also lived in Littleton, Colorado where the other major killing happened at Columbine High. THREE: I have wanted much of my life (and still want) for my major theme and song to be not only about stopping Rights abuses like the Death Penalty but also about prevention and healing all people concerned with any of these.


So, I'll try to be back here in a few days, but just wanted readers to know of my concerns. Below this post is another which will let you in a few more of my current spiritual saga. Usually, I post about OTHER FOLK'S spiritual it's about time I let you in on mine once in awhile. SOON, I intend to be back to share some of BILL PELKE's recent adventures and photos! Please keep coming back.... 


 Here are a few of the current URLs on the DENVER TRAGEDY: Toshiba home page here Mile High Murder here CBSNews Video here CBS News here Mass Shooting at Batman Showing here Ten Killed at Denver 


(There may be one among those URLs I meant to throw in about the pastor suddenly dying after giving his last sermon...not exactly on topic yet about the unpredictability and apparent fragility of life as we see and know the same. Don't have time to sort these hope they make sense to you. )


Blind-Sided by Life? What Counts?

***I was having an especially cheery morning -- albiet reminded of life's apparent fragility as I served my son a huge brunch (breakfast/lunch combo) and chatting with my son, Philip, about a dear friend who had just died and the funeral he would soon be driving to four and a half hours away.

***We talked about this amazing man, husband, friend and minister who had experienced a phenomenal transformation from prisoner/drug seller/addict to your minister. For years now, he's been speaking the language of the youth, he shared about his own broken life and how he was able to be forgiven and forgive himself.

***For years he's been doing contemporary music and counseling, ministering in a church as assistant pastor as well as on the beach in Florence, South Carolina where my son had lived, worked and attended his church for about a decade. Then suddenly, this amazingly transformed minister and healer died (to this life) at the old, old (??) age of 50 -- shocking everyone who loved and knew him. (Including my dear son who'd just seen him full of life at a wedding a few weeks ago.  A large church in SC has lovingly opened up to accommodate the huge crowd expected.

***After I hugged son goodbye, I was in an unusually pensive mood... Then, midstream, as I was washing dishes and putting away the extra food, I decided to listen to CeCe Winans -- a gospel singer with a phenomenal voice --

***I felt like writing a blogpost about how WE CAN'T LET ANYONE HIJACK OUR FAITH IN LIFE, GOD, LOVE AND OTHERS. You see, as I was listening to her sing some of the same spirituals I used to get all choked-up over, I felt compelled to tell readers here about how she and my current life of prayer was helping me to both get back and FORWARD with some of what I used to believe AND A LOT MORE.

*** (You need to know -- you might understand -- that I've felt terribly let down over the last few decades -- not by folk I've grown up with -- but by so-called high profile Christian leaders who have proved deceitful not only to lots of us former evangelical Christians but also to Americans at large who know about their shenanigans in manupulating votes for a certain party and candidates...)-- at approving of nuclear proliferation, of torture, intimidation, lying, locking persons merely SUSPECTED (and often set-up) without any hope of a decent lawyer or fair trial, ignoring of our own US and US/international aggreements, etc.

*** So you can see how folk like me (kind of a former non-drug-using hippy/artist type) as well as a lot of our very young today don't want anything to do with a Christianity and a Christ who's been co-opted for Empire America at the detriment of a whole lot of decent, innocent folk out there who are caught in their cross-fire.

*** Anyway, to get back to my story, as I opened up my computer, I was aghast to hear of the very recent TRAGEDY which JUST happened in DENVER, COLORADO. All the innocent folk who were merely watching a Batman movie when suddenly their lives were POOF over or changed forever. What a tragedy for all these beautiful people and their loved ones and neighbors! What an horrific event for ALL the people involved, the killer's family, his acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, friends, schools and the city of Denver as well. And perhaps most hellish of all is to imagine what might have happened to turn a scholarly, decent person (if the suspect turns out right into a killer! How will he live with himself now? What kind of dead end does he now face?

*** Again, I want to plead that we who are a part of seeking to end the Death Penalty ALSO do all we can to help PREVENT such a tragedy. 

*** There are many many ways we can do this. We all know plenty of these: encourage help for self and others where there is a need we see and know. 

*** Some of these are actually free or nearly so: 12-step programs of all kinds: NA (Narcotics Anonymous); AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) Al-Anon (for family and loved ones of Alcohol Abusers); Adult Child Programs (for Adult children of addicted; Methodone Treatment for those who've tried and failed at everything else; many youth programs; etc. etc. 

*** We who are working can each pitch in: drive someone to a program where it's safe to do so; fork out part of the funds needed for rehab and raise more; ask a church or compassionate group to help out; do an INTERVENTION with professionals; make SURE our schools don't cut funding for good school counselors and if our town and community doesn't have alternative schools, scream (theoretically) until the town council keeps such a process on the agenda UNTIL THEY HAPPEN! 

*** We are living in especially tough tough times...let's be part of the solution... 

*** AND let's not let ANYBODY else no matte what come between each of us and the amazingly loving, accepting, unconditional GOD of our own understanding. Let's each ask every day: what counts? 

*** For myself, when I've asked for help, I'm quite amazed how specifically I get answers... I suppose I have the many years I've asked for help as well yet never noticed because I used to look in all the wrong places: I don't mean these were always the usual suspects -- sometimes these wrong places were people familiar and who looked like one of my status quo, background and faith family...

***yet when I look back, I was helped in a HUGE way to understand forgiveness by a man on death row! 

***I also felt such calm and healing from a fellow human rights expert's willingness to take time out with me...because of him, I overcame great big fears I carried concerning my dear adopted children's issues with lots of childhood trauma. 

***Then there have been both victims' family members and family of death row inmates and prisoners -- then people of all manner of faith backgrounds, income levels, professions or the lack there-of, homeless, all manner of races and plenty of people in and from so-called "foreign countries." 

***Most recently, besides my husband and children, I've been helped most to understand forgiveness by a Bangladeshi/American Muslim who forgave his would-be killer who blinded him in one eye -- even tried to stop his execution! (See Rais Bhuiyan and The World Without Hate web and movement)... I've been brought back into a truly new and creative view of history and a recognition of my own capabilities as writer/thinker/mystic/poet by some incredibly deep, heartfelt and artfelt scholar/Sufi/historians and writers. (In fact, the painting thumbnail above under the friends hugging is from the front cover of a book for children and child-like visionaries by
an amazing poet/philosopher, Allama Igbal, who had a visionary dream of Rumi showing him  a spiritual meaning of history and the future.)


*** The last few days, I've been helped personally by a gifted writer -- woman who's mission is to empower women to be all that they can be and of all things, by a former Southern Baptist from Texas who while leaving that behind seems to indicate no bitterness...just going on to become an inter-faith expert; doctorate of Asian culture;  and an expert on Mindfulness.

*** Altready, I've again learned a HEAP about forgiveness and lovingkindness from this mindfulness expert...including a few mantras that I know have changed me overnight into a better person. He looks kind of goofy in his photo, but so what?! 

***IN CONCLUSION*** So, how about we all enter into a conversation about WHAT REALLY COUNTS?