The year is 2020—also known as COVID-19

It’s an election year, and it’s a year anarchists’ have set out to destroy America. They’re spreading chaos throughout the country, one prominent democratic city at a time, and creating deep divisions and demolishing peaceful life. 

One of the contentions is racism. 

The Democrats characterize our country as systemically racist. I think they’re nuts. While I’m not saying discrimination and racism does not exist, I’m saying it does not permeate the institution.

They vow to dismantle the structures that they say define racial, economic, political, and social inequity. They are pushing for a ‘societal transformation’ that reinforces Black Lives Matter. Their solution is to radically change the way we live. But they also want to delete our history, which they claim glorifies white supremacy. The Democrats insist systemic racism is on full display.

An example of systemic racism is the “redlining” system that banks once used that literally drew a red line around neighborhoods where people of color lived. If you lived within the red lines, banks considered you high-risk and were less likely to approve and give loans. 

This practice was banned in 1968.

While African American history did begin with slavery, black leaders, artists, and writers emerged – and, still, to this day, continue to rise – shaping the United States’ character and identity. Their gifts and contributions bring us to where we are today: opportunities, freedom, and prosperity for all Americans. 

Robert Abbot was the founder of The Chicago Defender (b. 1870 – 1940), one of the most influential black newspapers in history, in 1905.

Alvin Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (b. 1931 – 1989). He was a legendary dance pioneer, choreographer, and civil rights artist-as-activist. He extended cultural community using the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage to unite people of all races, ages and backgrounds during the rise of the civil rights movement.

Maya Angelou, poet and activist (b. 1928 – 2014), joined the Harlem Writers Guild. In 1969, she wrote the book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings — which became a seven-volume, best-selling autobiographical series. A strong-minded civil rights activist serving alongside Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and working with Malcolm X, Angelou established the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

Ella Baker, a civil rights activist (b. 1903 – 1986), laid the framework for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC became one of the most critical groups affecting change in American civil rights history through Freedom Rides, as well as its great emphasis on the importance of African-Americans’ voting rights.

Shirley Chisolm (b. 1924 – 2005) was the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She represented New York’s 12th District for seven terms — from 1969 to 1983.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr., (b. 1880 – 1970) was the first African-American general for the U.S. Army during World War II. He battled segregation by developing and advancing plans for the limited desegregation of U.S. combat forces.

Dr. Charles Drew (b. 1904 – 1950) revolutionized the understanding of plasma, the liquid portion of blood without cells. He was the first African-American to get his doctorate from Columbia University in 1940. He became the leading authority on blood transfusions. This, just as the United States and Great Britain were becoming deeply involved in World War II.

I can go on. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Malcolm X. 

Jesse Jackson. 

Jimi Hendrix.

Jackie Robinson. 

Soujourner Truth. 

Harriet Tubman.

More recently, Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code. Wes Moore, Army veteran and the CEO of Robin Hood, an organization focused on improving the living standards for low-income residents of New York. Mark E. Dean, top engineer at IBM – he’s why our computers talk to printers. Charlene Carruthers, founding director of Black Youth Project 100 which works with hundreds of young Black activists who are dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people.

And let’s not leave out Barack Hussein Obama II, the first African-American president of the United States from 2009 to 2017.

There are so many others whose life and works is the hallmark of opportunities, freedom and prosperity.

The government has taken steps, too, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. This act allows the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the authority to sue employers when it finds reasonable cause for employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Again, I can go on.

But this isn’t what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about the issues in America that hold real systemic argument and, until they are addressed, will continue to oppress citizens of this great country. I’m talking about education, housing, mental health…

I can go on.

“… all the people would still be alive.”

I do not support Joe Biden, but I do feel sorry for him. And I’m angry at his family.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed Biden’s cognitive health declining. You’ve seen his identity come under [constant] attack, and you’ve witnessed critical judgment cast by many Americans. At the same time they vilify and attack his agency, they are robbing him of his dignity.

Come on, man! (Sorry, had to … but it fits here!)

An individual’s agency is the trait that makes them an effective agent in their own life. It’s a fundamental part of being human. What is happening is gruesomely blatant. While people continue to chip away (they’re not even subtle about it), his family obliges, allowing this parade and show. They should be ashamed.

More fuel – for the Trump critics!

In my opinion, if Biden had normal cognition, he would not have said this – at least not out loud – on September 17, 2020, during the CNN Town Hall:

“If the President had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive. All the people — I’m not making this up. Just look at the data. Look at the data.”

As ridiculous as they are, these words absolutely add to the scope of the hysteria fanned by mainstream media. And after hearing this, Trump-critics have become more arrogant than ever. They argue there is no one more responsible for this pandemic (and all the deaths) than Trump himself, and Biden is their bullhorn.  

On the other side, President Trump has been reminding people [daily] that this pandemic was an attack by China on the entire world. He’s reminding citizens, over and over, that he closed borders and shut down travel early, which, in doing so, saved hundreds of thousands of lives. And he also points out [daily] that the great Dr. Oz Fauci praised his decision and attested that these steps saved lives.

What about everything else? I recollect a whole bunch of other things President Trump did in the early days when America found herself face to face with a novel coronavirus pandemic. But the Trump campaign seems to be fixed on speaking only about “borders, travel, Fauci, and let’s not forget he did shut down the country.” 

What people don’t know and don’t remember

Let’s look at the timeline and decisive actions taken by this President – who, some say, failed at responding to the Coronavirus, and who is responsible for all the deaths. I urge you to read every line of this timeline. I had planned to list and highlight only the important actions. But honestly, every one of these responses is a critical action. I’m betting none of us even knew about most of these (even though we absolutely should know).

In a word, governors

Governors are the pivot about which all COVID-failure and COVID-deaths should turn. Whether they’re red or blue doesn’t matter, they are an elected official with considerable control and power. When it came to the pandemic, some of them won, some of them failed.

I live in Arizona, with a population of 7.279 million across 15 counties.

The largest county, Maricopa, (in which I live) has a population of 4.5 million. Pima County, number two on the list, has 1 million. From there, the population goes down to the smallest county, Greenlee, with less than 10 thousand people.

March 16, 2020, Governor Doug Ducey shut down the state. On this day, Arizona had 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths amid 7 million people.

He then re-opened the state 49 days later, despite an 833% increase in positive cases on May 4, 2020. The state recorded 495 confirmed cases and 19 deaths.

Ducey then waited 55 days before making his next decision: to shut down a second time on June 29, 2020. The state reported 5,504 confirmed cases and 52 deaths.

Again, if I did my math correct, Arizona saw a 1,000% increase in positive cases and a 174% increase in deaths before he acted.

I’d break all this down by county, but that’s getting incredibly granular and beyond my math capabilities. I can tell you that Maricopa County outnumbers the other counties by a lot, yet the entire state was shut down – even the rural areas that reported low double-digit positives (as of 9/19/20):

  • Cases: Maricopa, 139,586 to second-highest, Pima, 24,511, to most rural, Greenlee, 58
  • Deaths: Maricopa, 3,259 to second-highest, Pima, 613, to most rural, Greenlee, <3

The point of all this math is this: while the President was busy failing rapidly developing test kits, building make-shift hospitals, sending big ships across the ocean, banning travel, signing over billions of dollars in aid, cutting taxes, waiving co-pays, authorizing stimulus, providing millions of meals a week to children in rural areas of the country, building ventilators, declaring disasters in each state so they could access millions of those aid dollars, stopping hoarders, lending billions of dollars to businesses, upping our unemployment benefits to more money than some of us made at our jobs, calling China, developing treatments and vaccines, while the President was doing all this (and more), our governors were making their own decisions –

  • Closing businesses
  • Closing schools
  • Closing religious institutions
  • Not testing enough
  • Maybe testing too much
  • Denying families an opportunity to see each other
  • Denying families a chance to be together and say goodbye as they lost loved ones
  • Denying families a chance to bury their loved ones
  • Shall I go on?

“… all the people would still be alive.”

Joe, President Trump didn’t fail. He got every one of our 50 states precisely what they needed – what they asked for, and even what they didn’t ask for. Where is your supporting evidence to back up your statement, and what is your rationale? I’m hard-pressed to believe this is your own opinion or belief. Prescriptive voices are telling you what to say. You’re reading their words on the teleprompters.

To Jill Biden and the Trump critics: come on, man, look at the data!

Something is transpiring. How woke are you?

I don’ been woke when the pandemic exploded on the scene. I swear it shattered my illusion about everything … from how I view myself to how I interact with society and the world. And how local governments handled the pandemic was pretty tragic. They literally destroyed absolutism for me. This thing let me go to bed at night, trusting things would still be here in the morning. Now I wake up each day afraid to watch the news. It’s really altered my sense of being in the world. It’s like I no longer look in the mirror or at people the same way. 

Let’s get back to being woke.

Like most words, the history of woke is a surprisingly long one. The term was first used in the 1800s, but back then, it only meant the act of not being asleep. Fast forward a few centuries, and the new definition is being ‘well-informed, up-to-date.’ In recent years, both the word and the phrase ‘get woke’ have taken on a life of their own. I’m using ‘woke’ as a one-word way of encouraging people to pay political attention. 

Let’s begin here.

July 2016: Russiagate. Hillary Clinton, the then-presidential candidate, created a fake Trump/Russian collusion. Adam Schiff propelled it. President Barack Obama, the CIA and the FBI knew about it and withheld it from the House and the Senate. John Ratcliffe just made it transparent to the world

In 2014 (maybe even earlier), the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) showed their teeth. In 2016, they released far-left policy proposals. Their political platform took on a “see no evil” approach. In 2020, BLM demonstrations and political violence surge to an all-time destructive high: they burn cities and destroy businesses. They murder people and terrorize citizens. Celebrities, athletes, big-tech, and major corporations hang signs declaring their support to BLM. Talk about tragedy.

2020 election: the democrats show *their* teeth and are blatant with their attempts to destroy America. The democratic-led effort to oust President Trump is as unprecedented as it is outrageous. This is quite true. Their goal is to regain power, even if they have to take down the entire country to get it. They want to change the principles that our country was founded on and which continue to shape our future. Liberals want to rewrite the Constitution, impose race quotas, move to a new American Anthem, and even “Rebalance the art shown in museums across the country.”

If-then statements.

If we don’t start thinking beyond ourselves and being aware of how we fit into a global ecosystem, then we’re cooked. Granted, I’ve only given you snippets and not a lot of substance, but do your own research. Read. Watch. Subscribe to the sources you trust. Look past the tweets and move beyond emotions. What’s important to you? What do you care about? The economy? Healthcare? Taxes? A vaccine for coronavirus? The First Amendment? Maybe the Second Amendment? How about national security, building our military and caring for our Veterans? If you research both sides then you will be an informed voter.

If we don’t get woke to what’s at stake, then what…?

So tell me — why.

Thought leaders, social media influencers, and even Ted-talkers advise us about the power that comes from “finding our why.” They tell us “our why” comes from within us, and that it is precisely what drives us. Indeed, only when we know our “why” will we be able to move our life onto a totally new, more challenging and more fulfilling path. They explain, knowing our “why” helps us make more intentional choices. 

It is our mission statement.

It is our conviction.

It is our core source of motivation.

It is hogwash.

It is a brick wall.

Stay with me for a minute.

In the 1940s, Viktor E. Frankl was held captive in a Nazi concentration camp. Through the pain and agony, what kept Frankl from giving up was, yes, his purpose… his “why.” But he found meaning in his fight, and that’s what gave him the strength to push forward through a life that was filled with indescribable pain. 

Let me repeat this: He found meaning in his fight. He didn’t fill his days imagining his purpose following his release; he was “living on purpose.” 

This isn’t a case of “potato, potahto.” Waiting to live until you know your purpose and living on purpose is entirely different.

No matter how hard we try, we can’t force ourselves to find our “why.” 

Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next month. I’ve tried. You see, at some point in life, we have to stop thinking about taking action and act. In other words, finding the right direction in life is something we can create by exploring and experimenting. When we shift the lens in which we view what we’re doing, we change its experience. 

In the past, just thinking about finding my purpose would make me sweat.

My stomach would be tied up in knots searching for answers to questions like, what’s my higher calling? What makes me come alive? And quite bluntly, what should I be doing with my life? 

Butttttt… what if our purpose is very different than what these Ted-talkers are telling us? What if…

Our “why” has nothing to do with what we do. 

There, I said it. Our “why” has nothing to do with what we do. In fact, our purpose is quite simple. It’s to awaken, to discover, and to nurture who we indeed are. It’s to know and love ourselves at the deepest level and guide ourselves back home when we lose our way. The more we do this, the more aware and present we become, creating more harmony in our lives. Everything else is our intense passion, inspired mission, job, hobby, and so on. While these things are powerful and very worthy, they’re not our purpose. Our purpose is much, much bigger than that.

This profound understanding of purpose is felt right in the soul of my bones. 

It diffuses the frustration I experience when my work isn’t appreciated or when my efforts are overlooked or criticized. Sometimes people will treasure my work, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes I’ll get the gig, sometimes I won’t. I’ll be thanked, and I’ll be taken for granted. I’ll give, and I’ll get nothing in return. I’ll be “Liked,” and I’ll be unfriended. That’s life. But, so then what? I have no purpose or meaning?

Absolutely, positively not. 

Tying my worth to that yo-yo circus is exhausting, discouraging, and even makes me resentful. But if I anchor my purpose within, sweet friend, I’m bound to find things I’m ridiculously good at, and I’ll never feel lost or stuck. And as for brick walls, well, I’ll just shift my lens.

So what am I missing?

  • Coronavirus is a potentially deadly virus.
  • 7.5 million Americans have been infected.
  • 210k+ Americans have died from it.
  • Our government used it to take away our inalienable rights – in particular:
    • To work and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.
    • To move freely within the country or to another country.
    • To worship or refrain from worshipping within a freely-chosen religion.
    • To think freely.
  • Only 6% of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to coronavirus.
  • We quarantined and closed the country to “slow the spread.”
  • We did not quarantine and close the country to eradicate the virus.
  • We quarantined for months and still got sick.
  • We opened the country, and we’re still getting sick.
  • We were told masks wouldn’t help. We got sick.
  • We are told we must wear a mask, or we won’t be allowed in the store/bank/restaurant/gym/insert name of any business here. We’re still getting sick.
  • We know more about the virus now than we did eight months ago – which means it’s no longer something we don’t know anything about.
  • We know who is more vulnerable to complications, should they get the virus.
  • We know who is more vulnerable, by age, should they get the virus.
  • The media, the critics, and the debate moderators say this is the most critical issue, and it’s on the top of everyone’s minds. The political spin is that this will make or break President Trump’s re-election.

In summary, whether we stay in our homes or go outside, we can get sick. Whether we wear a mask or not, we can get sick. We know if we have a compromised immune system or any disease/health challenge, we’re more at risk. If we’re 65+ in age or older, we’re more at risk. We know we cannot completely rid the world from this virus now that it is here.

So why are people still hung up on this? Knowledge is power, and we have tons of knowledge, right! We can decide if we want to go outside or to that neighborhood BBQ or trick-or-treating. “To think freely” is not only our inalienable right, but it’s also a POWER.

So what am I missing?

Decisions children shouldn’t make

I loved her for more than 40 years, and then one day, she did the unimaginable – she broke my heart.

I can’t describe my relationship with my mother. We barely had anything in common. But she was what I thought all mothers were, and that is, immortal. I also saw her as invincible, sometimes the enemy, always a nurturer. Never a woman – much less a woman with problems and experiences similar to mine.

And then she died.

It wasn’t until that day that I realized she was a person who experienced pain, just like me. She felt sorrow like I did. She held regrets, endured loneliness, had bad habits, addictions, held grudges, and had a laundry list of mistakes under her name. She had feelings. Turns out, she was like me, and I was like her. She was more influential in my life than I realized. With every passing year, I like to think our relationship grew and evolved into a newer, more significant, grander relationship. Until she abandoned me.

But deep-rooted issues are the least of my problems. It’s the cause of my mother’s death that has me wrecked.

It was three months before she died. I had just turned 40, filed for divorce, quit my job, and was hitting up neighborhood psychics and tarot readers daily. I didn’t have a plan for my future. I didn’t even have an idea for Tuesday. I assumed leaving a lousy marriage and starting over was the answer. Instead, it stirred up a weird animosity toward my family.

The day I moved into my new place is the day I’d take back.

My mother and I were making a quick trip to the store for cleaning supplies. Only ‘being quick’ didn’t happen. It wasn’t one of her ‘good days.’ She had a lot of medical issues brought on by her weight. Obesity comes with a slew of health issues. Our quick run was more like a gradual stroll with many rest breaks.

Still, I was happy she offered to help. My mother was nothing if not a clean freak – and my floors were sticky and the ominous dark spot on the bathroom wall needed diagnosing.

Patience isn’t one of my virtues. 

I drove a Jeep Wrangler – a nearly impossible vehicle for her to climb in and out of.

After five minutes, and that’s all I was giving her to get in the car, I noticed her struggle. No matter how strategically she placed her hands or angled her body, she couldn’t lift her leg and hoist herself into the passenger seat.

Thinking back, I am ashamed at how invisible she was to me.

It wasn’t until her legs gave out, her arm nearly pulled out of the socket, and she lay flat on the pavement that I jumped out to help her.

The sling was one thing; the black bruising was another.

Weeks later, she was still unable to bring her right arm above her head. And the skin from under her arm and across the front of her chest was turning blacker every day.

We ended up at Urgent Care – several times over the next month.

I was at work when the paramedic called.

They were in a helicopter and headed to St. Joseph’s. The paramedic spoke so slowly. He assured me the facility they were headed to was the most advanced (but also the busiest) stroke center.

My mother suffered an ischemic stroke early that morning, but it had been several hours before she was found. Siri gave me the 411: An ischemic stroke is a type of stroke that is caused by a clot, or some other blockage, within an artery leading to the brain. The patient’s prognosis after an ischemic stroke is good. More than three-quarters of people who suffer a stroke survive for a year and over half survive for more than five years. Many survivors recover their independence.

They found clots in my mother’s lung.

Three days later, the doctor handed me a form that was signed by my mother the day she was admitted. It was a scribbled signature, but it was a completely legal and fully-witnessed document naming me my mother’s trusted medical power of attorney.

And then her doctor presented me with a medical decision.