Dear Daesh: You Won’t Win

Dear Daesh:

Wow, you must be so proud of yourselves.  You killed 44 innocent people in Beirut and another 129 innocent people in Paris last week.  You probably think that you’ve succeeded in your mission to inflict mass terror and to drive a wedge between the rest of us.  Well, you’re wrong, and here’s why:

With each terrorist attack, you help to tear down our self-imposed boundaries, so that we are all simply human beings — not French or American or Syrian or Muslim or Christian or Jewish.  Instead of driving us further apart, you are unifying us. Instead of frightening us, you are strengthening our resolve.  Every time you take an innocent life and every time you carry-out a terrorist attack, you bring us closer together.

You’re a bunch of ignorant pieces of shit who represent the absolute worst of humanity, and what you fail to recognize is that your terrorist attacks actually bring out the absolute best in humanity, as evidenced by the outpouring of love and solidarity with those you victimized.  You force us to shed our labels and come together as one people. We’re realizing that we aren’t all that different — that these labels are just that: labels.  They aren’t what define us, and in the grand scheme of things, they simply don’t matter.  You’re teaching us to value one another, to respect and appreciate our differences.  Your hate and violence is creating more love and peace among the rest of us.

Your campaign of hate weakens every time you execute a terrorist attack — or even a single innocent person — because it strengthens the bond between the rest of humanity.  And make no mistake, we will defeat you, because we are finally realizing that the only way we can survive is if we learn to love and respect one another. With each terrorist attack you remind us that hate, intolerance and blind ignorance is a recipe for extinction.

It is true, however, that some people blame your religion, and they believe that all Muslims are extremists like you. But these people are just as ignorant as you.  They don’t realize that the millions of Syrian refugees who have been forced to flee their homes, giving up virtually everything they own, are running from you.  They don’t realize that Islam is not a violent religion — but that all religions suffer from extremism as a result of certain dogmatic individuals taking their incredibly warped ideology just a tad bit too seriously.  They don’t realize that when they say things like “We should just kill them all,” that they are expressing a complete lack of compassion, empathy and regard for human life — just like you.  You believe that anyone who isn’t Muslim and who doesn’t subscribe to your fucked-up beliefs isn’t worthy of living, and they apparently believe that all Muslims aren’t worthy of living.  Like you, they have an “Us versus Them” mentality, and they don’t realize that it is this exact mentality that has made your recruitment efforts so successful. The fact is they have a lot in common with you, which makes them part of the problem.

Fortunately, most of the world does not have this mentality.  But it’s quite sad that it is taking such violent acts of extremism for us to finally realize that we aren’t all that different, and that in order for our world to advance we MUST learn to respect the few difference we do have.  That is the very hard lesson you are teaching us.

How your hearts ever became so dark and full of hate I will never understand — and honestly I don’t think I want to understand.  But I do know this:  you won’t win.  While we are using bombs and bullets to fight back against you, what will ultimately seal your doom is the love and compassion that your hate and intolerance is helping to strengthen between the rest of us.  You are, in effect, digging your own graves, and when the last of you scumbags has perished from this earth humanity will enter a new era of harmony and peace — the complete opposite of what you want.

Don’t you see?  This is a war you simply cannot win.  Love is infinitely stronger than hate, which is why love always wins.

First Democratic Presidential Debate for 2016 Election

The Democrats have their first debate tonight, and the three candidates that aren’t named Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will try to get people to actually remember their names when the debate is over. I’m curious to see what kinds of questions the candidates get, and if the they will be mean to each other at all.  One thing is for sure, it won’t be a shit-show like the Republicans debates. The Dems aren’t as crazy as the GOP, and they also like to use real facts. So maybe we’ll get some intelligent discussions regarding important issues during this debate. That would be a refreshing change from the nonsense that has come out of the GOP debates thus far.

Do you think Hillary will be asked about her Benghazi emails?  Or if the other candidates will criticize her about this “scandal” at all?  And what about Bernie?  Will he be called out on his socialism?  Regarding Martin O’Malley, as a Baltimore native I would love for someone to ask him about his central role in creating a police department that was basically told to do whatever was necessary to cut crime in the city — even if it wasn’t moral or just.  The other two candidates — former Senator Jim Webb (VA) and Former Governor Lincoln Chafee (RI) — well I don’t really know much about them.  We’ll see if they can make an impression and give Hillary and Bernie a run for their money.

Is it just me, or are you already over this election?  And it’s more than a year away!  There has already been so much drama — especially in the GOP race where there are like 20 people running for president.  And Donald Trump just needs to go away.  He was somewhat entertaining at first because he is just so, well, Donald Trump.  But I’ve had it with him and his bullying.  He’s ridiculous and a complete idiot.  I don’t think he will win the GOP but you never know. Donald Trump caters to the crazies and its the crazies who are energized right now.

I predict that tonight’s debate will give Bernie Sanders even more of a boost.  The momentum is his to lose, and I think he is ready to go to the next level.  Hillary will still be a contender, but I just don’t think she has what it takes right now.  I feel sorry for her, because I know she genuinely cares about this country and I think she would make a good president.  But I just don’t know if she is the best candidate in the field. We need someone who won’t be afraid to shake things up.  Back in 2008, liberals thought we had that in Obama.  In some ways we did, but there have been a lot disappointments (and granted, he has had unprecedented opposition from the GOP).   But Bernie, I don’t think he’ll back down to the challenges he faces.  He’s been around for a looooong time and he’s fed up with the same old bullshit.  Yep, I think that after tonight’s debate even more people will be Feeling the Bern!

Kimmie D. is Down With the G-O-D?

You may have noticed that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples due to her strong religious beliefs, has been a top news story lately.  Most people think she is ridiculous and a giant bigot (including yours truly), but there are a few who think she is a hero for standing up to our big, bad government who dares to declare that all people should have the right to marry the person they love.  In short, Kim Davis and her supporters believe that God is in charge, not the federal government.  When asked on whose authority was Kim Davis refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she proudly exclaimed, “On God’s authority.”   Sorry Kim, but God has no authority in the United States of America.

I could write a 10,000 word blog post solely discussing the hypocrisy of Kimmie D. and her God Squad, but instead I’m just going to write a few bullet points that highlight their blatant hypocrisy and their ignorance of the law. Here we go:

  • They don’t understand the First Amendment to the Constitution or the concept of religious liberty.  The religion clause of the First Amendment says:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  Therefore it prohibits the government from establishing a state religion (such as Christianity) and from making laws based on religious beliefs.  In addition, it also protects the public from the government interfering with their religious practices (as long as those practices are within reason and are not a danger to the public at large), and it prohibits individuals or groups from imposing their religious beliefs on others.  In other words, Christians can be against same-sex marriage, but they cannot use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex couples.  Religious liberty doesn’t exist solely to protect the religious among us from the government and anyone who disagrees with them.  This protection extends to those who may suffer discrimination due to the strict religious beliefs of others — people like Kim Davis, for example.   Kim Davis has absolutely no right to claim that her religious beliefs should exempt her from doing her job.  If a gay couple wants to get married, her job requires her to issue them a marriage license.  If she doesn’t, she is breaking the law.  That is why a judge threw her bigoted-ass in jail — because she was disobeying the law.  Law is the ruler of our country — not religious values.
  • Going along with the above, we don’t live in a Christian county; we live in a SECULAR country.   Contrary to popular belief, the United States was not founded on Christian principles — it was founded on democratic principles, central of which was the separation of Church and State (aka, religious liberty).  Because the federal government is explicitly prohibited from establishing a state religion, or interfering with the religious practices of others, the United States is a secular country.  If the United States were not a secular country and instead was a Christian country with laws that reflect Christian values, we would live in a theocracy, not a democracy.  Iran is a theocracy, as are many Muslim nations.  Would Kim Davis and her supporters want to live in a theocracy like Iran?  If you asked them this question I bet they would without hesitation yell, “Hell No!” (except that they actually do want to live in a theocracy — keep reading).
  • Kim Davis and her supporters want the Christian version of Sharia Law.  Sharia Law is basically the Islamic legal system derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Qur’an (Islam’s version of the Bible).   So if Kim Davis truly believes that our nation’s laws should reflect Christian values based off of what is stated in the Bible, then she wants Christian Sharia Law, and she wants to live in a theocracy like Iran.  What is so incredibly ironic about this is that recently many Evangelicals have been terrified that Muslims are trying to take over the U.S. and impose Sharia Law on its citizens.  This is beyond absurd because these accusations are completely baseless, but that didn’t stop some states from passing laws to keep this from happening (however, if they understood that the First Amendment bars the federal government from establishing a state religion they would then realize that they don’t need these laws). In effect, Radical Christians were all up in arms because they were afraid that Radical Muslims were going to take over this country and impose their religious beliefs on everyone. Buuuuuut, apparently it’s totally fine for Radical Christians to impose their religious beliefs on everyone.  I’ll take Hypocrisy for $1,000, Alex.
  • If homosexuality is a sin and should be condemned (according to the Bible, which, as we all know, is the Word of God — cue eyeroll), then Kim Davis and her supporters have to condemn all the other things that the Bible says are wrong, like divorce, for example.  However, Kim Davis has been divorced not once, not twice but THREE times, so clearly she is totally fine with divorce, even though the Bible states she should be stoned to death because she is divorced (I’m not joking – it really does say that, but only divorced women should be stoned to death, not divorced men).  And she also has to condemn working on the Sabbath, and wearing colored clothing, and adultery (she is guilty of this one too – she was pregnant with another man’s twin children before she got divorced from her second husband), and all the other completely asinine things that the Bible says are sinful.  Except that it isn’t convenient for her to condemn those things (because she is guilty of all of them), so they are just fine and dandy with her.  You can’t cherry-pick what parts of the Bible you want to follow and what parts you don’t.  I’ll take Hypocrisy for $2,000, Alex.
  • Kim Davis is the George Wallace of the 21st Century.  George Wallace famously stood up against the government in an attempt to prevent desegregation in the 1960’s, and anti-segregationist across the country proclaimed him a hero for his efforts.  It’s hard to believe that there really was a time when white people and black people weren’t allowed to share the same public space.  To people in my generation that is completely ludicrous.  Over 50 years later, while racism — and especially institutionalized racism — remain crucial issues for the United States, thankfully our nation has moved forward quite a bit since George Wallace tried to block two black students from entering a [formerly] white university.  George Takei just wrote a wonderful opinion piece for MSNBC comparing Kim Davis to George Wallace.  Here is an excerpt as to why history will not be kind to Kim Davis and her supporters:

“Happily, the days when overt racial discrimination and segregation are championed by social conservatives are long past. Imagine if instead of denying a license to a gay couple, Ms. Davis had sought on religious grounds to deny a license to an interracial couple. She likely would have been fired on the spot, and no politicians would have rushed to stand by her side, no matter what her sincerely held religious convictions were. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is headed to a similar, inevitable end in the dust heap of history.


But along the way there will be opponents like Davis to remind us that social change means social displacement and a recalibration of what is acceptable. And as with Gov. Wallace, decades from the day Davis stood her ground, we will no doubt look back and wonder above all why so many stood with her.”


Kim Davis and her supporters are using the Bible to defend their hate and bigotry — because that’s obviously what Jesus would do.   It’s pretty disgusting, and I know many Christians who are profoundly upset that Kimmie D. and the God Squad are defaming Christianity.   While I am not religious myself, I can sympathize with those Christians who are loving and accepting of all people, and who believe that we are all loved equally by God.  It has to be so incredibly frustrating to see your cherished religion grossly misinterpreted and used as a means to discriminate and spread hate against others. So please, speak out against Kim Davis and those like her.  Your silence only exacerbates this problem.

One day my grandchildren will ask me why it was such a big deal that same-sex couples were allowed to marry, like how I wonder why it was such a big deal that interracial couples were allowed to marry.  And I’ll shake my head and say, “I honestly don’t know.”  It’s baffling to me that some people care so much about who another person loves and marries.  It’s not your life and it’s not your marriage, so why does it matter to you?  Why would you object to someone being able to love the person of their choosing and to define their love in a permanent manner (i.e. through marriage)? Denying others of any human right is inherently wrong, but nothing is more unjust than denying someone the right to love.  And from what I’ve heard about this Jesus fellow, He and His Father (God) would wholeheartedly agree with me.



We’re Back!!!

In case you haven’t been here for a while, the site has been down for over three months.  There was an issue with an update I had made to the website and it ended up crashing the site 😥 .  I could have had it fixed earlier, but I took it as a sign to focus on other areas of my life for a bit.  So that is exactly what I did — and what I needed to do.

For the foreseeable future, I will update every now and again, but they will be sporadic. The only thing I can ask is that you check back regularly for any new posts.  After things in my life calm down I’ll try to get back to regular updates, and maybe a few more surprises. 😉

So keep checking back with me!  Thanks, friends!!

Weekly Roundup

Some interesting reads from the last week:

Does P90X Really Work?

I just finished watching a video from Yahoo! News article about four people who tried the P90X program for 90 days (where the 90 in P90X comes from), and how they fared at the end of the 90-day trial. Essentially, none of them achieved their fitness goals.  They all completed the program but they barely registered any changes in body fat or muscle mass.  So I guess the point of this video/article was that these kinds of programs don’t work the way marketers say they will.  But there is a big problem with that assessment:  as far as I could tell, the four people who participated in this “experiment” made no changes to their diet.  Granted, I don’t know what their diets are like (although one guy did say his diet wasn’t very good), but I do know that when it comes to weight loss and changing your body composition, nothing is more important than diet.

I am a self-confessed fitness enthusiast.  As a matter of fact I am in the process of studying to obtain my personal training certificate (which is why I have been bad about updating the blog — sorry about that to anyone who cares). Here’s the thing about weight loss and fitness — your diet is far more important than exercise.  This is especially true if you want to lose weight.  But even for people who want to gain muscle, you need to fuel your body correctly in order to optimize muscle gain.  And you fuel your body through food (and to a much lesser extent, beverage).  So if you have a poor diet that consists of a lot of processed foods and high amounts of sugar, you aren’t going to see much in terms of results — even with an intense exercise program like P90X.  I haven’t tried P90X but I can tell just from watching promos for it that it is no joke.  If you follow a healthy diet while doing this program, you absolutely will lose weight and gain muscle.  I’m not saying you will look like a fitness model (because honestly most of us don’t have the genetic make-up to look that way — or the extreme discipline it takes to achieve that kind of a body), but you will get results.

So let this be a warning to anyone who wants to try a new exercise program — whether it be P90X or anything else: you absolutely must have a wholesome, balanced diet in order to obtain a change in your body composition.  I know that the marketers of these exercise programs fail to mention this tiny yet vastly important detail (because they know that if they did most people wouldn’t even bother trying it), but weight loss and any change in body composition is about 80 percent due to your diet.

I”m sure that right now some people are thinking, “Then why even bother exercising if it doesn’t really help you lose weight?”  First of all, exercise has been proven time and time again to be a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. It helps to prevent various diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, etc.), it gives you energy, it relieves stress, it helps your cognitive abilities (especially as you age), and people who exercise regularly generally live longer.  Second of all, exercise will help with weight loss if used in conjunction with a healthy diet.  Additionally, you can’t gain muscle mass if you don’t work out your muscles — because as wonderful as this would be, your biceps (and any other muscle) won’t increase in size on their own. And the more lean muscle you have (which, again, you can only gain through exercise), the more calories you will burn.  In fact, you will burn more calories even at rest since muscle requires more energy than fat. So exercise is very important for healthy living, and it is a great aid for weight loss.

Another little tip:  if you are interested in starting a new exercise program (and I recommend you see your doctor before you do), don’t start with a program like P90X.  It is advanced, which means it is hard.  Start with something more beginner-friendly, and then once you have gained some muscle and improved your cardiovascular fitness, then move on to P90X to maximize your results.

So to answer the question of whether or not P90X works, yes it does — but you must maintain a healthy diet.  Without a healthy diet, don’t expect to obtain that much of a change in your body composition. You will still get stronger, and the workouts will become easier as your muscle strength and endurance improves, but you need eat a healthy, balanced diet in order to optimize weight loss and increase muscle mass.   I know you have heard this before — because it is so true — you simply cannot out-exercise a bad diet.

Weekly Round-up: Baltimore Edition

Things have been relatively quiet the past few days in Baltimore.  I have heard that tomorrow (Saturday) there is supposed to be a huge rally downtown — hopefully it will remain peaceful.  I have read a lot of stories about Baltimore this past week, and below I’m linking to a few of them for our weekly round-up.  I know that the national media has painted a pretty bad picture of Baltimore, and while some of it is true much more of it has been sensationalized.  Don’t believe everything you read and hear.  Take it from a lifelong Baltimorean — we have a great city with great people.

I will discuss my feelings about the State’s attorney’s decision to bring charges against all six police officers involved in the Freddie Gray homicide in another post.  There is a lot to cover, and I want to make sure I say everything I want to say in the way I want to say it.  For now, please take a look at the articles linked to below.  I hope everyone has a great weekend (mine won’t be too crazy considering I have a 10 o’clock curfew).



Violence in Baltimore

I’m sure most of you are aware of the chaos and violence that took place in Baltimore last night.  As of right now, 20 police officers were injured, over 200 arrests were made, 144 cars were set on fire and destroyed, buildings were burnt to the ground and stores were looted.  The Governor declared a state of emergency and right now 2,000 members of the Maryland National Guard are now in Baltimore to help keep the peace.  Other local law enforcement agencies have also joined the Baltimore City Police, and city and state officials have asked other states in the mid-Atlantic region to help as well.

If you read my post yesterday about the death of Freddie Gray, you know that Baltimore is my home town, and I still call it home.  Well, today I am absolutely heartbroken.  My city is in such pain.  Every day on my way to and from work I drive past the city skyline on interstate 95.  Usually I don’t pay any attention to it, but today as I headed home from work early (my office was closed early due to riot threats nearby), I looked over at the skyline and I began to sob.  It has been very hard to watch what is happening to my great city. It’s surreal — like watching a movie.  I remember how upset I was watching the violence in Ferguson, but seeing this happen to my own city is just devastating.

I understand the anger and frustration of many Baltimore residents.  As I stated in my post yesterday, police brutality is all too common in Baltimore.  The relationship between the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and the residents of Baltimore City has been strained for decades.  There is little trust there.  This is especially true for young African American men.  But violence is never, EVER the answer. You cannot bring about positive change with negative actions. Again, I understand their frustrations and I agree that the people of Baltimore — and anywhere in this country — have every right to peacefully protest for changes within police departments and within their communities, in order to bridge the divide between the two (this is actually a First Amendment right).  We need to discuss this problem in a rational, positive way.  Only then can we make real progress.  Violence, destruction of property and looting is only making this already horrible situation much worse.

What’s even more upsetting is that these cowards yesterday were exploiting the death of Freddie Gray as an excuse to engage in this violence.  The Gray family explicitly asked that there be no protests yesterday as they laid their son and brother to rest.  And then this happened.  It’s infuriating to me that this family had to watch this. As if they haven’t been through enough.

I had the news on all night last night — mostly because if I ever felt like I was in danger (fortunately I live on the other side of the city from where most of the violence was taking place) I was going stay with my brother in the county for a few days. I mostly watched the local news because they understand the city better and they aren’t out there just to focus on the violence and destruction.  If you watched CNN or other national news agencies, you probably didn’t see much of the positive things happening last night, and throughout the last week or so.  Like the hundreds of demonstrators — mostly local clergy members — who came together and marched down the street, arm-in-arm, to try to restore calm and order.  Or the fact that members of local gangs (who were wrongfully accused of coming to a truce to harm the police) were actually working together to stop the violence and chaos.  And this morning as I watched the news they were reporting on the hundreds of people who were coming to help clean up the destruction from last night.  This is the Baltimore I know and love.

Baltimore is a city that has worked very hard in recent years to clean itself up, and in doing so hopefully change its image, making sure it lives up to its nickname:  Charm City.  You may wonder why we choose to live here when it appears to be so violent, but that’s only because you have never had the pleasure of visiting Charm City. The residents are very proud of our city. We know it is far from perfect, but we love it all the same. It’s a tough town that is no stranger to adversity, but it has some of the nicest, most down-to-earth and hardworking people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.  It’s not all drugs, gangs and violence.  If it was I wouldn’t live here.

I love Baltimore first and foremost because of the awesome people that proudly call it home.  I love Baltimore because it has such a wonderful, rich history (Star Spangled Banner, anyone?).  I love Baltimore because it is authentic and unpretentious.  I love Baltimore because it is a large city but has a small town feel.  I love Baltimore because it is a great sports town with two of the best franchises in all of professional sports (in my humble and slightly bias opinion).  I love Baltimore because of steamed crabs and crabcakes and Natty Boh.  And I love Baltimore because it’s a gritty survivor.  No matter how difficult the circumstances, Baltimore always pulls through — even if by the skin of its teeth.

It’s incredibly hard to see my city suffering like this, but honestly, it has suffered for decades.  Right now, we are seeing years of frustration and anger boiling over.  Deborah Weiner, a local news reporter for WBAL Channel 11 reported last night, “I asked the clergy what they thought of the State of Emergency that the Governor declared.  They said there has been a State of Emergency way before tonight in Baltimore City, an emergency in poverty, lack of jobs [and] disenfranchisement from the political process.”  Sadly, this is very, very true.

But like I have said many times on this blog, whenever there is a crisis there is also an opportunity to create much needed change.  This is the opportunity Baltimore has right now.  We will get through this and our great city will come out stronger than it ever has.  Just like I have such great faith in our generation, I have great faith in my city.

We appreciate all the prayers and positive energy that others have been sending our way.  And we appreciate that you are concerned for us and our city.  But please don’t pity us.  We’re a strong people and we don’t need or want anyone’s pity.  This is a great town, and I cannot emphasize enough that what makes it so great is the people. And that’s what will get us through this tough time. We, as one united city, will work together to cultivate positive change. And we will show the country and the world just how resilient Baltimore is.

I want to thank local law enforcement officials for their bravery and professionalism throughout these last few tense days.  And I want to thank all the law enforcement officials who have come to Baltimore from other cities and states to help keep the peace.  We truly appreciate your sacrifice.

This may be the greatest test Baltimore has ever faced.  But make no mistake, Hon — we will prevail.

The Death of Freddie Gray

Since I am from and currently live in Baltimore, the upheaval surrounding the death of Freddie Gray literally hits home for me.  I’m no stranger to the high level of crime, drug use and violence of Baltimore.  As a matter of fact, I’m quite desensitized to much of this stuff, sadly.  Seeing what we call a heroine zombie or someone doing the “dope feign lean” is perfectly normal and happens quite frequently (think Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s). Similarly just about every night the local news covers stories surrounding gang violence, a homicide(s) or multiple shootings (this is why I don’t watch the news that much).  And honestly, stories about police brutality are quite commonplace as well.

Unfortunately, during the protests of Freddie Gray’s death this past Saturday, a few young people got violent and some businesses were vandalized around the downtown area.  Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which was hosting a game between the Orioles and the Red Sox at the time, was also put on lock down for a short period of time until the police were able to get the crowd under control.

Overall, I heard 35 people were arrested.  All week there have been peaceful protests in Baltimore, but it only takes a few idiots to ruin everything.  The people of Baltimore are really upset and angry about this, and we sincerely hope that the rest of the country doesn’t think that the people who got violent are representative of our great city. Because they absolutely are not.  There were over 2,000 protesters and about 100 of them got out of control — that’s five percent. Moreover, some of the protesters intervened in the violence and the Baltimore City Police Commissioner even credited them with helping to neutralize the troublemakers. Of course the media didn’t cover that, but please know that they are the ones who represent Baltimore.

These protests are about bringing awareness to an issue that is clearly a big problem in our country: police brutality. People are fed up with it.  We want answers, we want justice, we want accountability, we want more transparency and we want to be able to trust the police — not fear them.  As I said, the Baltimore City Police Department has quite a long history of allegations of police brutality. This isn’t anything new, but with all the attention surrounding similar incidents of police brutality, the death of Freddie Gray is rightfully getting national attention.  I don’t know if any of you watched the video of Freddie Gray’s arrest, but it is very difficult to watch. The man was clearly in excruciating pain as the police were trying to get him into the back of the police van.  This seems to be a case of complete neglect by the officers involved.

Someone very close to me was the victim of police brutality once.  And of course, when we tried to get the name of the officer who beat him up while he was chained to a wall (both ankle and wrist cuffs), the police department conveniently didn’t have his name — or the names of any of the officers on duty that night.  Not surprisingly, nothing was ever done about this.  So I sympathize with the family of Freddie Gray.  But at least my relative is still alive.  As I type this Freddie Gray’s family is laying him to rest.

It’s important to note that this issue is fairly complicated.  Police officers have a very difficult job.  It is extremely dangerous, largely thankless and they have to put up with a lot of bullshit.  A friend of mine is a nurse and she said that they frequently get people sent to the hospital after they were arrested because the perpetrators complained of pain or illness, when in fact there is absolutely nothing wrong with them.  But the police have to get them medical attention regardless of whether they think the person is being truthful or not (which is why I said that Freddie Gray’s death appears to be a case of severe neglect).

I think most people understand and appreciate how hard it is to be a police officer, and they know that most police officers are good people.  The issue is that when police officers abuse their power or cause someone undue harm, there rarely seems to be accountability.  The police department covers it up (or tries to) and does everything it can to make it look as if the officer(s) did nothing wrong. And this is where the public frustration lies.  It is also quite obvious (to me, at least) that black males are disproportionately victims of police brutality.

While I will withhold final judgement regarding the Freddie Gray case until all the facts are known, it is blatantly obvious that changes need to be made within police departments all over the country so that these kinds of incidences happen less frequently.  As I already said, there needs to be more accountability, transparency, and respect for the law that the officers are supposed to uphold.  And maybe police officers need better training (that certainly seems to be the case). I’m sure there are many ways to improve the relationship between the police department and the community it is supposed to protect.  And whether police departments like it or not, the onus is on them to take the necessary steps to begin rebuilding trust and respect with their communities.

R.I.P. Freddie Gray.

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day!!!  Our planet is being celebrated today as people around the world take a moment to appreciate this beautiful rock floating in space that we affectionately call home.  Unfortunately, we usually aren’t very kind to Mother Earth.  We don’t respect her and give her the appreciation and love she deserves.  It does seem like more and more people are waking up to this harsh reality and finally admitting that we, humanity, are destroying our planet.  We are recognizing that we have nowhere else to go, so if we destroy earth we are also ending humanity.

I post this quote every year on Earth Day because it is so, so, so true:  “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”  One of the most important parts — if not the most important part — of the Millennial Generation’s legacy will be the state of our planet when we pass the torch onto our children and grandchildren.  Will we leave a planet far in decline from years of neglect and abuse and denial of man-made climate change?  Or will we begin to change the way we live so that we can reverse some of the damage we have done, and so we can give future generations a healthier, more sustainable planet?

It’s time we stop making our commitment to taking better care of Mother Earth as a clichè.  Clichès are what everyone knows to be true but almost no one lives by.  And that’s how we treat sustainable living — as a clichè. Now that isn’t to say that you have to go completely green and never do anything that would harm our planet. Because that is unrealistic.  But it is time we take climate change seriously and stop acting as if it might be some grand hoax.  Climate change is real!!!!!!!!  And we need to invest more in sustainable energy (and actually start using it), and be more mindful of how the way we live affects our one and only home.

There are a lot of little things that each of us can do that will make a huge difference.  Take recycling, for exmaple. Now if just one person recycles than that isn’t making any difference really, but if 500 million people recycle that will make a big difference.  So don’t think about your actions only on the individual level — think about the collective effect something simple like recycling will have if millions of us do it.  There are so many small changes we can make that will make a big difference in the health of our planet, and that will show that we value and appreciate our beautiful floating rock.

Let me ask you this:  Would you treat your personal home the way we treat our collective home (Earth)?  Would you pollute your house, throw trash all over it, dump harmful chemicals in your water, never vacuum or dust, never clean the bathroom or clean up after you spill something?  If something in your house broke — like say your water heater — would you not fix it?  If you found out that you were doing something that had a negative effect on your HVAC unit (your climate), would you keep doing it anyway?  The vast majority of us would never treat our homes this way.  So why then are we ok with treating our planet this way?

Sustainable living should not be a clichè.  And it isn’t difficult or expensive or time consuming (usually).  What it is is a necessity.  So on this Earth Day, my fellow Millennials, let’s make a commitment to actually practicing what we preach. If we care about our beautiful planet and how we treat it while it is on loan from future generations, then for crying out loud let’s start acting like it!