Moses’ Handicap

Please see new my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Moses’s Handicap.”

In truth, we are all handicapped in one way or another. One person comes from a meager financial background, another has no education, and yet another has any of a host of physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Essentially, we all have something that rightfully can hold us back. But still G-d chooses us to do His bidding. Whether it’s leading the Jews out of Egypt or standing up and doing what’s right in situations that we are confronted with every day, we are asked to go beyond our handicap.


We can’t let our handicaps prevent us from fulfilling our purpose in life–we need to meet the challenges head on with G-d’s help.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Diversity Tapestry

I really liked this sign with the saying by civil rights leader, Maya Angelou:

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter what their color [or race, or origin, or religion, or age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability].”


Ok, I added the “or” statements at the end. 


But the point is the same and important.


Discrimination, bigotry, prejudice, and bias are stupid. 


They are a function of ignorance. 


– We learn from diversity. 


– Life is richer with diversity. 


If everything was in monocolor…if life was homogeneous…if there was only one type of everything, then what type of humdrum, monotonous, and boring place would this be?


Value the variety.  Value the diversity.  Value the differences. 


They make us better and stronger than we could ever otherwise be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Smell The Roses

Roses.jpeg

I am a big proponent of stopping to smell the roses. 


These purple, yellow, red, and pink flowers were sitting on the counter in Whole Foods, and I had to stop, back up, and take this amazing photo.


They were absolutely gorgeous!


Sometimes, I can’t believe the beautiful things and people that G-d has made. 


We’re part of a most-amazing and perfect world. 


Of course, there are also hardships and suffering in this world – illness, disability, hunger, homelessness, violence, loneliness, and loss. 


Perhaps, these are the most difficult of things for us as human beings to reconcile with the beautiful world that G-d has set us in. 


While surrounded by beauty, people are also beset by life’s many challenges. 


Maybe all the more reason to stop and smell the roses even for just a moment–to enjoy the spirit of life and of our amazing Creator, and the opportunity to make the most of it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Death With Dignity

death

It is amazing that still in the 21st century there is not widespread acceptance and legality of physician-assisted suicide. 


Even the term voluntary euthanasia (from the Greek meaning good death) is still considered taboo–similar to using the term radical Islamist.


People are afraid to call a spade a spade and deal with life’s complexities and harsh realities. 


All through history, mankind had the code of conduct and honor that when someone (person or animal) was mortality wounded by nature or in battle, they would be “put out of their misery.”


This is called COMPASSION!


Yet, in modern-day civilization, extremist PC-ness (politically correctness) dooms even such a basic fundamental act of decency toward one another. 


Like with radical Islam, the fear of saying it and admitting to a war against extremist and murderous religion ideology cannot be fathomed and so “leadership from behind” mandates that we close our eyes and pretend the boogeyman isn’t really in the room–even if it means continuous losing in the global war on terror. 


Similarly, with euthanasia, poor excuses for leaders fear that once the genie is out of the bootle, people will just be committing arbitrary acts of suicide left and right. 


Unfortunately, these weak people in leadership positions are not leaders, but rather cowards who force others to suffer whether by the hands of terrorism and war or by the unnecessary and cruel suffering for people with the most horrible illness and disabilities in society. 


In 1988, “Dr. Death,” Jack Kevorkian, provided assisted suicide to someone with the horrible, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and in turn, he had to spend 8 years in jail for second-degree murder.


Fortunately, there are now already 5 U.S. states where “physicians cannot prosecuted for prescribing medication to hasten death”, where individuals that “have a terminal illness as well as a prognosis of six months or less to live.” These include: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, and Montana (when mandated by a court ruling).  


Similarly, overseas in Switzerland, associations like DIGNITAS, provide services “accompanying dying patients at the end of their lives and assistance with suicide.”


The person must have a: 


– “terminal illness” and/or an 

– “an “unendurable incapacitating disability” and/or 

– “unbearable and uncontrollable pain.”


The end is made reasonable and humane by having a in-depth evaluation, followed by at least 2 face-to-face meetings with doctors, getting a prescription for the medicine, setting a mutually agreed date, having loved ones at their side, and self-administering the fatal dose of Sodium Pentobarbital (NaP), usually 15 mg by swallowing or administering by gastric tube or intravenously.


The medicine is “lethal, fast-acting, and completely painless”–after taking it, the patient falls asleep within a few minutes and passes peacefully. 


Having seen my own mother suffer horribly with Parkinson’s Disease, I know that voluntary euthanasia would not only have been the merciful thing to do, but the right thing to do to help people. 


Political correctness and fear of doing what needs to be done is no excuse for prolonging the suffering of those that want to exercise their right to die and who deserve their final peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Alarming Graffiti Message

I actually stopped to read and photograph this graffiti or should I all it a cry for help.


First of all the “artist” was considerate and put it on paper (that was taped up), and not directly on the street pole.


Second, there are some incredibly thoughtful, alarming, and prayer messages on this in both English (as well as in Asian, and Hebrew languages), such as:


– “Jewish prayer for no rape.”


–  “Abusive bee.” “Bee pose,” “Queen bee,” “Bee wisdom,” and “Bee Sting”


– “Abusive spiritual teachers being arrested”


– “We are angelic”


– “I pray for diversity in the bee colony”


– “I pray for a well taught dog”


– “Goddess may the dog be happy”


– “Hashem [G-d] causes the generations to realize they are one”


– “Temple of the animist”


– “Freedom of religion.”


– “Kosher U.S.A. Government”


– “Thanks MD/DC Service Dog.”


There is more, but I couldn’t make out all of it.


There is a also a drawing of a girl in a sitting position with her knees up and sort of smiling.


What strikes me most in this are the numerous references to some sort of abuse, likely sexual with the references to things like prayer for no rape, abusive bee, bee sting, bee pose, and abusive spiritual teachers being arrested.


I feel very unsettled by this, like someone is in trouble and this is a call for help from the community.


All the identification with religion, spirituality, and G-d make this even more significant in terms of the spiritual questioning and perhaps confusion from it all.


Also, is this person disabled/blind–note the reference to the service dog.


I hope that this person(s) are okay and that if they are in danger and need help: go immediately to your parents, the police, school authorities, or a social worker.


People in the community care, and especially G-d hears your prayers.


Whoever might be hurting you needs to be dealt with by the authorities, and please G-d, you will be alright. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Am Doing

Health.jpeg

Today, a disabled man asked the lifeguard at the pool, “How are you doing?”


The lifeguard couldn’t understand or fully hear the disabled man who had to repeat the question multiple times.


Then, the lifeguard responded, “I am doing well. How are you doing?”


The disabled man with a blank to sad look on his face says, “I am doing.”


His response of just “doing” (not well, good, or fine) was like just going on day-to-day amidst very challenging life circumstances of illness and disability–just in a state of being, but certainly not feeling like he was thriving in his current life. 


It reminded me of my own parents, survivors of the Holocaust. 


After the horror and loss of the Holocaust everything, including coming to this country without a dime or a job was just a cakewalk in comparison. 


For 25-years, my dad would never even go to the doctor. 


He would say, “G-d is my doctor!”


Only later in life, when all his friends were sick or failing, and my mom was so sick with Parkinson’s would my dad respond to people’s questions of how he was, by saying simply, “Surviving!”


And then often adding, “We are part of the survivors’ club.”


When we’re young, healthy, and vibrant, the world seems too small compared to what we think we can do and accomplish.


That’s good–it gives us the thrusters in life to go as far as we can with accomplishments and progress. 


As we age though, the realities of life and health come into vision and we realize that we can’t lift cars with one hand (anymore) or fly lightening speed with just our cape around the globe–we’re mortal. 


This doesn’t mean that we can’t do great things for ourselves and the world at any age and with any (dis)ability, just that it many not be as simple or as easy any longer–we have to fight harder and be part of the survivor’s club. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Broken Arm, Broken Metro

Broken Arm

So I spoke to a lady on the D.C. Metro yesterday.


Not old, not young–she was sitting in a handicapped seat. 


What happened to her?


She told me how this last year as she was riding the train, it had suddenly and ferociously jerked forward, and then backwards.


The fierceness of jerking motion breaking the top of her arm–the humerus–vertically right down the middle in a horrible break. 


As she was talking her eyes glazed over remembering what happened.


She found herself on the floor of the train lying in excruciating pain.


One kind lady stayed with her as the paramedics were on their way.


She overheard others on the train actually complaining in earshot that they were being delayed “because of her!”


She was taken to the ER, and ended up spending 2 1/2 months in the hospital and rehabilitation center. 


As explained, they couldn’t cast this type of break, and she wasn’t allowed to sleep laying down–she had to sleep in a chair–again she said how the pain was so bad and unlike anything she ever experienced, incuding childbirth and bypass heart surgery. 


Professionally, she was a lawyer for the government, but ended up not suing Metro, shaking her head that it just wasn’t worth it. 


In her wallet, she showed me her Metro disability card that they gave her so she could sit in the special seats now and get a reduced rate riding the train.


Shaking her head, she exclaimed that even though she is mostly healed now, she never stands on a moving train anymore, always making sure she is sitting and nestled next to something.


I could see the emotional pain on her face as she told me her story, and she seemed generally afraid of ever going through anything like that again. 


At the same time that she was talking to me, in eyesight was a younger man hanging out by the center doors on the metro, overfident and not holding on–actually leaning way back on his backback against the doors, almost daydreaming. 


Not everyone heard this lady’s story…maybe they should. 


Overall, Metro seems chronically underfunded or mismanaged and in desperate need of major repairs and replacements–train, tracks, escalators, elevators, everything. 


The system is a mess and it needs urgent attention. 


Why does it always take a tragedy to finally get action? 


Coincidentally, I saw today that Metro (WMATA) is advertising in the Wall Street Journal for a new General Manager and Chief Executive Officer–yep, good luck to that person, they will definitely need it and a lot more!  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Christian).