Smell The Roses

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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)

Homeless and Hungry

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I took this photo in Washington, DC.


Two statues of back-to-back homeless people in the grit on the sidewalk.


They sit as everyone rushes on past them–many stone faced as well as too many stone hearted.


In this case, someone put the newspaper Street Sense on the lap of the statue. 


As many in DC, the homeless are trying to get back on their feet in this case by writing articles for and selling this newspaper about homelessness, poverty, and social issues. 


Impressive that they sell about 16,000 of the biweekly 16-page paper and that the homeless vendors make about $45 per day doing this. 


Like this picture of the homeless on the street, bracing back against each other and sort of huddled up among the masses of the fortunate around them, I imagine that they must really feel like these statues–odd, uncomfortable, lost, scared, and painted over by society that marks them as dirty, dangerous, and unwanted.


But these homeless and hungry are G-d’s children, no less than any of us!


I applaud Street Sense and other advocates and activists that see, hear, and feel beyond themselves and help the needy and downtrodden. 


Helping these people in desperate need is truly G-d’s work, and like recently sainted, Mother Teresa, is an act of unbelievable kindness and mercy that we can all learn from and should emulate. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Poverty Is An Illness

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Poverty is not just a phenomenon of poor, homeless and hungry people. 

It is a social and economic epidemic, and here are some sobering statistics:

– “Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population–more than 3 billion people–live on less than $2.50 a day.”

– More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty–less than $1.25 a day.”

– “1 Billion children worldwide are living in poverty…and 165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted…due to malnutrition.”

– “1/4 of all humans live without electricity.”

– “80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.”

Those empty stomachs, battered roofs, and tattered clothes are leaving indelible marks on so many impoverished people, yet many at the other end of the spectrum are living so high and mighty…it’s a crazy contrast that fails to make any sense. 

Passing by the stronghold buildings of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., I found these striking “End Poverty” t-shirts that they had in their storefront–although I couldn’t help think how far removed this place was from this sorry state of global poverty and chaotic and violent world affairs. 

We are living in an incredible bubble, and while I often hear how grateful people are to be here and have “all this,” somehow I just don’t think we fully get it what’s going on out there! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting “Unf*cked”

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So on July 4th, I wrote and did a short video about how messed (f*cked) up things are in the world today (of course, technology-aside), and I advocated for people being a good influence and for constructive change. 

On the positive side, I saw this neat bumper sticker to “Unf*ck The World,” and I checked out their website utwnow.org

It was impressive to see people advocating for, banding together, and engaging to do good things to help others such as assist the homelessness by giving them haircuts, doing laundry, providing “mobile hygiene,” and helping with a thrift shop and job opportunities.  

In contrast again, it was interesting in the Wall Street Journal today, there was an editorial on how Brexit (Britian leaving the EU) has nothing on Amexit (America’s disengagement from global affairs). 

Around the world, there is cause for not only pause, but great concern.

– From allowing Syria to cross the red line in using chemical weapons (on civilians!) to the recommendation to not charge the former First Lady, we are in moral and leadership retreat.

– Russia takes over Crimea and agitates in Eastern Ukraine and the Baltics, while China continues its island buildup in the strategic South China Sea.  

– ISIS continues to hold ground across the Middle East and Northern Africa and attacks targets literally everywhere in the world and routinely takes, enslaves, and sells women to the highest bidder on the Internet.

– North Korea and Iran test ballistic missiles, and nukes are a forgone conclusion for them. 

– South America and Europe are in economic and political turmoil with varying degrees of recessions, runaway inflation, shortages, impeachment proceedings, voter recalls, and fractioning. 

– The U.S. is struggling to maintain its leadership role as we fluctuate between recognizing the dire need and pulling back all around. 

In the election cycle, I think just about every single person I have heard from now says in near hopelessness something like, “If only there was another candidate that I could vote for.”

What we can do locally to help–and certainly there is a lot more to do there with poverty and homelessness–perhaps people can do nationally and globally in demanding more–not material things, but rather a real caring about others and not just ourselves, a genuine discourse on policy and not just punch lines for the next election or media soundbite, a solutions-oriented mindset rather than a gaming the system one, and a big vision to settle the stars, cure vicious diseases, pull everyone out of poverty, and resolve endless cycles of global conflicts.

Do you hear much of anything on this these days and is anyone taking the high ground or is it just who is more crooked and untrustworthy–this cannot be the answer. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

DC Metro Is In Shambles

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So the latest this week from the crumbling infrastructure of the DC Metro train system, not withstanding the mess of Operation SafeTrack. 

While riding this morning, a large panel inside the train abruptly and widely swings open and smashes against the fabricated white and plastic wall adjacent to the seats. 

It made a loud bang and initially everyone on the train looked up with the deer in the headlights stare apparently thinking it was a gunshot on the train or something. 

Luckily, no one was in the 2 seats where the panel swung open like that, because their would’ve been some physical damage done to somebody there. 

The age and decrepitness of the train obvious from the incident and also looking at what’s behind door #1!

What is amazing is that this is the Capital of the United States, one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations on Earth.

We spend lavishly abroad and domestically on wasteful pork barrel politics, broken programs, and even money that goes completely unaccounted for (can anyone say pass a financial audit). 

Yet, we cannot provide a modern, clean, safe, and functional metro transportation system servicing the capital of our country or for that matter educate our young people properly or feed the hungry and shelter the homeless within our own borders. 

There is a lot broken here and Metro is just the tip of the leadership iceberg unbecoming who we are and what our potential for this world is. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

This House Is For The Birds

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Beautiful simple birdhouses in Downtown DC.


We all need to live somewhere.


Too many people in shelters and on the streets. 


Started giving money to some of the homeless on the way to the Metro. 


My friend’s father used to say, “If they ask then they need it.”


Perhaps what’s needed is a little more kindness, TLC, and compassion for all G-d’s loving creatures. 


While it’s nice to look up to aspire and climb the next rung of life, it’s as important to look down and remember from where you came and where you can still go again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Exercise It Dirty

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So these ladies and gents are exercising underground in the Metro tunnel. 


They have grabbed the banister underneath and are doing pullups. 


However, the tunnels are really ick!


Often a sheltering place for the unfortunate, homeless, and sick trying to get out with their belongings from the cold or rainy weather. 


And the smell of urine is not uncommon even with the CCTV cameras at either end, 


Nice to workout and toughen up, but this is more than a share of morning wash up or hand sanitizer can deal with. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)