17 Apr



In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Boston, united and courageous Bostonians declared the terrorists will not win. I applaud and support this defiant stance. Terrorism must not be allowed to achieve it’s goals but, to ensure it’s defeat, we must know exactly what those goals are and how we might counteract them.

The ultimate target of terrorism is the mind. Terrorism is a dark dialog spoken in the language of pain and suffering to convey the message of fear. This feeling of fear for our very survival brings with it fear’s close companions: hatred, confusion, hopelessness, vengeance and blood-lust. It is an attempt to disfigure the soul by committing acts against the body.

Throughout the history of the world, fear and grief have been used as tools to control and manipulate the heart of mankind. It works because it plays on our natural survival instinct. It’s natural to fear for our lives and grieve for our lost loved ones. It’s natural to want to strike out against that which as made us fearful and threatens our survival. This is exactly what the terrorist wants us to feel.

We are also quick to call the terrorist a monster or some other inhuman distinction. This too, is a goal of the terrorist. Calling someone a monster makes them different from being a person. It makes them an instrument of evil with no redeeming value and separates them from our shared human spirit. Seeing another person in this way helps us make sense of their actions as simply an evil monster doing evil things. This also elevates the terrorist by transforming him or her from a mere person making choices, like the rest of us, to a mythical creature of pure evil. Dehumanization is a reward to the terrorist and sends a message that a simple choice can elevate a person to god-like or devil-like status. It plays into the “beyond human” persona that the terrorist has of himself.

All of these effects seem to be natural and unavoidable outcomes to horrific acts but are they? Must we submit ourselves to the prison of fear and hatred that the terrorist wish to create for us? The answer is a resounding, resolute and defiant NO.

Make no mistake, the perpetrators of these acts must be pursued and prosecuted but this alone will not signify victory over the goals and objectives terrorism. We must refuse to give over our freedom to dictates of our fears. We must not allow our capacity of love to diminish while stoking the fires of hatred and retribution. We must resist the urge to classify the terrorist as anything more or less than human. We must defiantly proclaim the truth that there is no force on earth capable of extinguishing our spirit, corrupting our souls or limiting our love and enjoyment of life.

15 Apr

Great or the Greatest?


“America is the greatest country in the world.”

I’m hearing this phrase more and more these days. So much so, I’d even go as far to say that it’s now a political talking point. It’s no longer good enough that I love my country, I must now proclaim that it is the greatest among all others. I don’t think love and greatness are necessarily linked. I love burritos but I still wouldn’t say that it’s the world’s greatest food.  Even when the “greatest” designation can be substantiated with statistical facts, we are still unable to reach consensus. You would think that the person that hit the most homeruns would be considered the greatest homerun hitter but we know it’s not that simple.

The “greatest” designation carries with it a pretty strict definition. When something is declared the “greatest”, it means that all others are lesser. It also means that if you don’t agree that we are the greatest, you are either ignorant or lying. So, what does it mean to be the greatest, anyway? If we declare that the entire country is the greatest, does that also mean that its citizens are greater than the citizens of all other countries? Deserving of more consideration?  More resources?  Grading the worth of a person based on where they are born creates separation and justifies discrimination.  Is it possible to work for the betterment of all humanity when we regard ourselves and our interests as more important than all others? Am I making a big deal about this simple declaration? Perhaps, but I feel that it’s important to know what our words mean and the underlying feelings they generate.

I love America. My country was created based on the strong principles of freedom and equality that we boldly strive to live up to every day. I feel that America represents not only a place but a journey to toward a greater realization of these principles. Our foundation is the idea that ALL men are created equal not just all Americans. Of all American ideals, I hold this one most sacred. This is a belief in the oneness and value of all people regardless of any condition including place of birth. What makes America great is that it embraces the idea that no person is greater than any another.

05 Apr



I was attending a graduation ceremony with my wife, Heather, recently. It was a perfect summer day and I noticed there was an abundance of dragonflies floating around the crowd. “Look at all the dragonflies, babe.” I said in amazement. “They’re good luck, you know.” she replied.

This was the first time I had heard that dragonflies were good luck and a funny thing happened after that. I changed the way I looked at dragonflies. They were no longer simply cool looking insects with big heads and a wide wingspan. For no other reason than just hearing that they were regarded as lucky, I started to see them as lucky, too. I started making note of when I saw them and began to expect good luck to come my way. Invariably, it always did. I would get into an interesting conversation or I’d find the perfect parking spot or I could get stuck in traffic and realize that I narrowly missed an accident because I was delayed. It could be just about anything. It helps that my idea of good becomes more flexible the more I’m expecting it.

I eventually noticed that seeing a dragonfly caused me to have a heightened sense of my impending blessing. By this, I mean that I knew that when I saw a dragonfly, or anything else that I deemed lucky, good things would happen and so, that is what I saw. Even the things that I might initially see as bad, required closer scrutiny to find the good that was surely there. I started to ponder the very nature of luck and my own role in it’s interpretation. Like many, I’ve gone through my life labeling objects, conditions and even other people as lucky or unlucky. I thought it was perceptive of me to notice certain qualities, recognize their nature and categorize them properly. Of course, this was bolstered by the fact that I was rarely wrong. Little did I know, I was loading the deck. Unconsciously rigging the game.

The truth is that when I peered in to the random soup of conditions that surround me, I find what I believe. If I believe all signs point to misfortune, I will surely find it. When I know good is present, I see it all around me. I have the power to infuse even more totems as lucky to enhance my feeling of good. With practice, could I even view my very existence as luck itself? Am I the recipient of a constant barrage of blessings? I suppose it’s up to me to believe it and find it to be true.