Happy 4th of July From Andy Blumenthal

 

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Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.


And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 


The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 


Those that have fallen by the wayside.


People who are down on their luck.


Human beings–that’s right human beings–that need and deserve help or even just a chance.


Why does anyone have to live–if you can even call this living–like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 


I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.


Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between “the haves” and “the have nots” and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.


Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 


Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a “silver spoon in their mouths” and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.


Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.


Money and power is ephemeral.  


Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 


Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 


Everything goes around and comes around. 


This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 


G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 


Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

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So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From My Cats To Yours

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Diversity is a very beautiful thing.


Whether you’re an orange, red, or green cat.


It doesn’t matter–you are a cat!


All cats gotta get along. 


Might does not make a right in any catfight.


But brotherhood of cats does us all good. 


Does every cat need to stand up for it’s daily food?


Sure, but there is more than enough catfood and nip to go around. 


I like to be in a great cat sea purring and frolicking all day long.


Live and let live–and love–all cats and dogs and people and others!


And from the great Martin Luther King Jr. 

“We must learn to live together as brothers 

or 

perish together as fools.”


Shabbat shalom and happy Labor Day holiday weekend!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hate Proliferates

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I was really surprised to see this sign for White Supremacists right in front of our nation’s Capitol like this. 


Identity Evropa is yet another hate group–this one focuses on people of European ancestry and their website claims, “We are the future.”


But whether you come from Europe or Asia, the Middle East or Africa, America or the moon, aren’t we all just people at the end of the day.


Who cares whether your black or white or yellow or brown, or what religion you practice, or your gender, or sexual orientation, or whether you lean left or right. 


At the end of the day, are we all not flesh, do we all not bleed, have we all not hopes and fears, do we all not answer to the one G-d Above. 


Hate proliferates from our farm belts to our inner cities, from our universities to our board rooms, from the gazillionaire to the guy who has to shovel shit for a living, from our nasty national politics to the United Nations, there is plenty of hate and bias and bigotry to go around. 


Look to the Heavens, cry a bitter tear, your hatred is your self-destruction. 


You will pray with an evil and hate-filled heart and none will answer you. 


The living G-d of Hosts who created us and loves all his children will not stand idly as hate and supremacy of one over another presides. 


The chains of our affliction, the bullet to the back of the head, the noose and the death camps, the whip, the gas, and the ovens, the hunger, the sick experiments, and the slave labor.


Only G-d is supreme over all and those that seek an advantage on the backs of their brethren will find themselves a fiery hell to contend with. 


From just a little gnat to a growing tumor–that is all that it takes to bring justice and re-level the supremacy playing field and teach who is the King of Kings and there is no other. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fighting Domestic Abuse

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I came across these excellent graphics used to educate and prevent against domestic dominance and abuse.


The first wheel shows how “power and control” are used to instill fear and dominate domestic partners as well as in an overall pattern of relationships with physical and sexual violence:


– Intimidation

– Emotional Abuse

– Isolation

– Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming

– Using Children

– Male Privilege

– Economic Abuse

– Coercion and Threats


In contrast, the second wheel displays positive patterns of “equality” in relationships and nonviolence and are marked by the following attributes:


– Non-threatening behavior

– Respect

– Trust and Support

– Honesty and Accountability

– Responsible Parenting

– Shared Responsibility

– Economic Partnership

– Negotiation and Fairness


Have you ever noticed a pattern of domestic abuse behaviors that include the following?


– Constantly lecturing on political views the other person should hold.

– Keeping them away from their family and friends.

– Controlling the major life decisions.

– Hiding money and accounts.

– Demanding the partner stay home with the kids indefinitely.

– Using emotional withdrawal and/or passive aggressiveness to control.

– Requiring the other person to be available whenever they want.


Spouses and partners should be your best friend and not your servant or dog to kick when you get home.


Watch out for those who exhibit the bad behaviors and patterns of abuse and violence…and stay safe in good and healthy relationships! 😉


(Source Photo: Domestic Abuse Intervention Project – Duluth Model)

Women’s War

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Today was International Women’s Day. 


But this guy was protesting something else.


WAR.

“War is chaos, War is lawless
War ignores our civil rights
Land it poison and our rivers
War inspires both rape and murder
Death of children go uncounted
War betrays all Women’s Rights”

Not sure how he connects this all up with women’s rights at the end, but might as well try, right?


For women to have the rights that they should, they need to fight the good fight too.


That type of war does not betray them, but bolsters their cause. 


Everyone who has been abused, enslaved, and discriminated against needs to free themselves of the shackles of oppression.


What we do know is that “war is hell!”


And certainly war is an option of last resort. 


At the same time, war can restore the peace and right the wrongs of despots and tyranny and violence and persecution. 


War is something to be feared and avoided, until it can’t.


At which time, hell on earth is released, so hopefully peace can ultimately prevail once again. 


In war, everyone loses, but with the hope that at the end, good wins!


For woman, today is also the continuance of that war and fight for equality, respect, and proper treatment in every way they completely deserve.


That’s a war worth fighting for. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)