Attack On Human Rights

Gun Rights

So we’re sitting in the coffee shop and this guy near us has some books on the table. 


He’s reading three things:


– The Holy Bible


– Second Amendment Primer


– The Heller Case (the landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 2008 protecting an individual’s right to bear arms for self defense in “federal enclaves”). 


So somebody says jokingly, “You think he’s a Republican?”


It made me think how we get judged by not only our behaviors, but also by our apparent beliefs, politics, and associations. 


Even if we don’t necessary do anything wrong or controversial, people see us, sum us up, and place judgement upon us. 


Moreover, while we may have a legal right to do something, people may still look disparagingly on us for exercising our rights.


Speak you mind freely, practice your religion openly, stand firm on privacy, own a gun in a liberal part of town, and you may find yourself being stared, pointed, or sneered at, whispered about, threatened, harassed, or otherwise disapproved of in small and/or big ways. 


My question is how is something a right if people still can mistreat you for exercising it in appropriate ways?  


I’ve heard people say things like you’re eligible for X, Y, or Z, but your not entitled to it.


They confuse rights as eligibility, rather than entitlement. 


So some people water down our Bill of Rights that way–thinking, saying, and acting in way that you are eligible to do something, BUT only if you ask nicely or do it a certain way that the other person arbitrarily approves of, and not that you are entitled to it as a basic human right!


Yes, of course we all need to behave responsibility and not yell fire in a crowded theater, but that doesn’t mean that human rights are subject to the whim of people’s mood’s, tempers, personal views, and bullying behavior. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Evil Cannot Be In Charge

Skeleton Street Art

So I am having to reconcile some interesting things in my mind. 


Hating and liking. 


For example Iran, led by dictators and extremists, is perhaps the epitome of the “Axis of Evil” and the arch enemy of America and Israel


Iran suppresses the freedom and human rights of its people, is the leading sponsor of world terrorism, denies the Holocaust, and threatens brutal attacks on America and to annihilate Israel. 


Yet, on a personal level I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Iranians that I really like and respect.


These include amazing colleagues at work, and wonderful members of my synagogue as well as neighbors. 


One Iranian family I met just this morning was simply amazing.


The father had a horrible stroke earlier in the year. 


Today, I saw the father wheeled to the swimming pool by his son. 


The son took his father lovingly into the water and worked with him therapeutically to help him on regaining as much mobility as possible. 


I stopped to speak with them, and the man’s wife told me that the son, who was a PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas came every week to Washington, D.C. to work with his stricken father. 


The son told me that although he was not a therapist worked hard with his father on physical and occupational therapy, and I even saw his father laugh a little with his son in the water. 


The son held the father by a safety belt and his father put his hand on his son’s shoulder as they walked forward and backwards in the water, and even did a little swim while his son held the belt tight. 


I was really impressed by this family and especially the love, caring, and devotion the son showed his father. 


Despite their troubles, the wife asked me how I was recuperating and smiled when I told her I was doing better. 


It’s amazing to me how hate truly is blind. 


On one hand, what Iran stands for today led by extremists who seek religious domination, suppression and destruction of others, and a return of the Caliphate is a danger to its people and the world.


On the other hand, many of the people from the streets of Iran are surely some very good people.


We need to see the bad apples and separate them from the good ones. 


As a country, we need to support the freedom of the Iranian people and help those that believe in peace and fellowship. 


When evil is in a leadership position, then good does not follow, but rather is smothered until it is set free. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A One Taxi Town of HELL!

Taxi
So coming back from vacation today was a tear.



We had an early flight–before dawn–and when we woke up, I called the town’s single cab company to confirm our early morning pickup (of which the reservation had been made the prior day by the front desk manager at the hotel). 



When we awoke the morning of the travel, I called the cab company to confirm they were on their way.



A man picks up the cab company’s phone and says curtly:



– “I am the dispatcher and also your driver this morning.”



– “I have another person to drop off near your location and will be 15 minutes late.”



Upon which he just hangs up, and we readjust our schedule slightly.



Then I receive a text message 20 minutes early that says the cab is downstairs. 



We rush downstairs, but there is no cab.



15 minutes later he arrives.



He says in a commanding voice:



– “Don’t you put the luggage in trunk, it can damage my computer [we don’t know what computer he was talking about].”



– “Shortest person sit behind me!”



We look at each other at how strange this cabbie is behaving, but again it’s the only “game in town.”



We get in the back seat, upon which he proceeds on the “dispatch computer” set up in the front seat to ignore us with mild apologetics and  works to handle calls, texts, and other people arrangements, while we are waiting in the back [already late because of his prior excuse] to get to the airport.



After what seemed like forever, he turns to me and says, “How are you going to pay?”



I ask, “Can you take a credit card?”



He says, “Yes, but the card reader may have interference at the airport [from this tiny airport, really?], and the ride will be 50 bucks!”



Realizing he was playing some sort of game with us to rip us off, since this was a meter cab, I try to explain that it seemed he was overcharging us saying “Well, we took a cab with you company from the airport just the other day and only paid around $40 and that was in a snowfall [today were clear skies and roads], so I’ll pay you the same $40.”



He turns angrily to me this time, and says threateningly, “You‘re trying to lowball me!  How about I just drive you around in circles and charge you by the meter even more?”



At this point, we could tell this guy was seriously off his rocker, and I try to deescalate this and ask, “Why are you giving us such a hard time with all of this?”



He seemed to calm down for a second as he was ostensibly trying to figure this out, and said okay, “We’ll do the meter [and you’ll pay]!”  



Now we were running late to the airport, this driver had our luggage hostage in the trunk, and he has threatened us to take us for an unwanted tour of the city instead of to the airport and overcharge us or potentially even make us miss our flight altogether.



I looked at my wife and daughter and they were clearly understanding the danger we were in of losing the flight, luggage, and so on; but as we discussed later, they were afraid of even worse physical danger from this person. 



He starts the car and with the dispatch computer screen still open [he angrily slammed open and closed the laptop multiple times], he drives on the highway while simultaneously, still working on dual duty as dispatch…we were terrified.



About halfway to the airport, he turns to me again, and says “Okay, I’ll turn the meter off [before] 40 bucks and you pay me 40!”



Afterward, my wife told me she thought he was going to pull over before 40 bucks and just drop us off somewhere in the middle of the highway.



I ask, continuing to try and calm this guy, “I don’t understand how can the meter be going higher than when we made the same trip in reverse in a storm just the prior week?”



Note, there wasn’t [barely] another car on the road and unlike in big cities, there was no signage with the driver’s picture, name, identification, etc.



He says, again in a threatening manner, “Oh I can also take the back roads to get you there cheaper, but you wouldn’t want me to do that, would you?”



Then he pauses, thinks again, and repeats, “Just pay me $40 cash {and he reaches to turn off the meter).



Soon after, we reach the airport terminal, and the taxi driver jumps out, dumps our [hostage] luggage on the side and holds out his hand. 



I gladly give him the $40 and thank G-d that we are at the airport and safe.



This was really an eye-opening lesson about what can happen when you are in the car with someone and they are in total control over whether you get where your supposed to go, make it in time, get your things, and get out safely.



In these small towns, it is no help that the cab company is a monopoly and probably the dispatcher/driver is probably also a part owner and maybe even has friends at the local airport, hotel, police, and the courts, etc.



I don’t think for a second that we were his first victims, and hope that people reading this will help make this his last! 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Colors Of Race

Street Color
With the race riots in Ferguson again this week, the divide between black and white is once again evident in America.

 
Coming from big city life in America, like New York City and Washington D.C., I’ve grown up in divided neighborhoods and united organizations.
 
For example, just this morning, my daughter and I walking down Las Olas had to duck into an Illy’s coffee shop when an impoverished (black) man in dirty clothes and talking loudly to himself turned around on the street and was coming up steadily behind us in a threatening way. Similarly, the day before, there was a (white) lady at the bus stop talking out loud, hallucinating, and thrashing…also scary in this otherwise posh neighborhood.  In other words, these issues are race-agnostic!
 
Simultaneously, I go to synagogue where blacks and whites (as well as “black hatters” and the modern religious) sit and pray and socialize together, and go to work where many of my esteemed coworkers are African-Americans, and watch as one of my daughter’s best friend in school and who she blabs with on the phone is a nice young man who happens to be black
 
Also, I remember last year I think it was having to move a heavy piece of furniture and one of my black neighbors went out of his way to help me get it upstairs–he was incredibly generous and he and many others where I live are friendly, neighborly, and we live side-by-side together.
 
We need to move from racial inequality to racial harmony!
 
We don’t have to wait for an alien invasion to realize we are all human beings here on Earth and that we share more than not.
 
In Fort Lauderdale, by Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, and Broward College, the actual intersections of the street are pained in multi-color. 
 
I love it..not black and white, but the colors of the rainbow…mixed, flowing, getting along, and happy.
 
Let it be–black and white, yellow, brown, and red–a melting pot, together throughout the world in peace and prosperity. 
 
No more rioting in Ferguson or elsewhere, but celebration of humanity–nothing more, nothing less. 😉
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)