Thursday, January 12, 2017

Force and Violence

I remember, while taking Taekwondo from the ROK Tiger Division in Quy Nhon, Vietnam back in 1968, I noticed that all my teachers were Buddhists. They used to invite me to spend time with them on our days off and visit Buddhist Temples and shrines around the city. 

Going anywhere with the ROKs was being the safest you would ever be in Vietnam. They were known for their ruthlessness and the extreme force with which they would use to quickly dispel any conflict that may arise. When they traveled down the streets, either in a vehicle or more importantly, the path ahead would clear for you. People went into their homes and closed the doors and windows. 

The United States Forces in Vietnam often used the Korean Army in situations where it might be politically or diplomatically impossible for the US to do something directly. One instance we witnessed in Quy Nhon during the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, a period that totally reversed the momentum of American-Vietnam War, when the VC took control of the local radio station. The ROKS were called in, the job was done. They gave the intruders 30 seconds to get out of the building, after which, being ignored, they destroyed the building. 

I asked my teachers one day, “As Buddhism is such a peaceful and pacifist philosophy, how do you justify the very aggressive nature of what you do here and the use of your martial art form, which, unlike some forms of martial art, when used to it’s highest capacity, is fatal?”

My teachers answered….”Because we do not support violence, we use our extreme force to quickly stop violence anywhere we can and remove it’s effects as quickly and efficiently as possible, using a maximum amount of force for a minimal amount of time, thus restoring peace.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Our people? What does that mean exactly?

We have been herded into groups. The powers to be have found out a way to get us to retreat and circle the wagons around our own particular special interests. Black Lives Matter. Gay Rights. Women’s Rights. Elder Rights. Voting Rights. The environment. Religion. Sex. Animal Rights. It is called “Identity Politics”.

And here we stay. Holding off the advances of Fascist thought and action. Just thankful that we still have that small space to cower and huddle in..surrounded by “our people”.

Our people? What does that mean? 

Black? White? Latino? Asian? Middle Eastern? Gay? Straight? Bi? Trans? Women? 

The fact is, there are only two kind of people in the world. 

  1. One wishes to live in peace with others and the world, and just wants to be left alone to live as they wish. 

  1. The other wishes to dominate and dictate to others to live as they command, based on race, religion, culture, power or resources or their own social view.

It really is very simple. There are integrationists and segregationists. There are lovers and  haters. There are those who are tolerant. There are those who are intolerant. Those who want to cohabitate and those who want to dominate. 

If we wish to have any chance at all, we need to step out from inside our own special interest groups and realize that we need to unite, as one people who support freedom, social justice and equal opportunity for all, as one voice that speaks for truth, regardless of the underlying special interests we might represent. 

By keeping us in our own little groups and causes, they weaken us. They take away our power to confront and combat their dictatorial actions. 

My people? My people are those who think like me. Who are willing to listen. Who are willing to learn. Who are willing to grow. Who inter-act within larger world as opposed to focusing only on their own little world. 

Not all those who share your family, race, religion or culture are your “people”. Those who wish you no harm are your people. 

We now have a World Economy. We have, what will soon be, a World Government. We need to start thinking in terms of World Social Justice and move away from provincial, narrow interest movements that only sap our energy and weaken our ability to fight. 

It is still “We The People”. But now…….it’s world wide. Take a world view. 

Co-Dependent. Inter-Dependent. United as One. Speaking as One. 

Life in late 60’s Midwest.

Today, in 1969, I arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota to finish out my 18 month Army service commitment. I was assigned to the Minneapolis AFEES station, located in the Federal Building, located at Third Avenue And Washington S. 

The midwest back then was a hot bed of activism. Minneapolis had protests of some kind every day it seemed. The Federal Building was a straight shot from the University of Minneapolis down Washington Avenue, making it an easy target and rallying point to voice displeasure with Nixon’s government. 

I had just arrived back from one year of service in Vietnam. When I went to Vietnam, in December of 1967, I knew very little about it or the war that was going on there. I had not yet taken a position on the war, although I did have some strong feelings aligned with the anti-war movement. 

It did not take me long after arriving in Qui Nhon, Vietnam, where I served my year long commitment, to figure out just what was going on in Vietnam and to form a strong aversion to it. 

Basically, the Vietnamese people were only trying to get back their independence from colonial powers….a fight that they had been waging for most of their existence. And we were considered just another colonial power. The Vietnamese people were blackmailed into accepting our assistance by agreeing to doing it our way. 

When I arrived in Minneapolis, I became a roommate with one of the guys already assigned to duty at AFEES. Most of the single guys, of which I was one, lived around the University district, which at the time was in constant evolution surrounding social issues. It was almost as if the movement was an organism unto itself. People just hopped on for the ride. And what a ride it was. 

I became friends with many people directly involved in “the movement”. I knew many organizers and significant players, as well as dozens of members of one small movement or another. 

I spent my weekends involved in marches, sit-ins, protests and just hanging out with like minded people, learning and observing. 

It was an easy choice for me. These people needed my perspective as a soldier and I needed their emotional energy to validate my strong anti-war, anti-corruption, anti-military industrial complex stands. My value as a person “on the inside”, especially the fact that I worked at the Induction Station, grew day by day. It was not long before I was pulled closer into the center of operations.

One particular evening, one of my friends, introduced me to a person who wished to talk to me. He was a leader in the local SDS faction. He explained that they needed some ‘special access’ to The Federal Building to carry out their ongoing protests against the government. He told me all I needed to do is leave one of the basement doors ajar when leaving for the evening. 

Well, the choice was easy for me. I am not stupid. I told him that I would, in no way, jeopardize the safety or security of anyone, or my own future for an obvious act of direct action against the government of The United States………especially since I was, at that time, a soldier, which made my exposure even more dangerous. 

I continued to be involved in protests, demonstrations and was well aware that many of those groups were infiltrated by FBI and that my photos and files still exist somewhere in a dusty file cabinet. 

Ultimately, through a series of events, seemingly unconnected at the time, the Army figured out a way to punish me. They gave me an Article 15 and took away my combat grade of E-5 which I earned in Vietnam about a month before I was discharged. 

It has been a long fight. The fight continues. 

It is time to reflect and relearn the things we learned in the 60s. The fight is exactly the same. 

Monday, January 2, 2017


1. Recognize the signs that someone is sociopathic. Sociopaths have a personality disorder that prevents them from feeling empathy for others. Although they often seem friendly and likable, they use their charm to get people to do things for them. The following traits are common among sociopaths:

Superficial charm; everyone seems to like them.

Lack of remorse; they don't feel guilty when they've done something wrong.

Lack of empathy; they don't seem to care when someone else is hurt.

Propensity to lie; they do it casually, like it's nothing.

Incapacity for love; those closest to them realize something is missing.

Egocentricity; they light up when they're the center of attention.

Delusions of grandeur; they often perceive themselves as superior to others.

2. Understand what drives a sociopath. Sociopaths aren't driven by the desire to make the world a better place, help others or be accountable in their closest relationships. "Doing the right thing" is not a motivator for a sociopath; rather, sociopaths are motivated by having power over other people and using it to get what they want: more power, money, casual sex and so on.

Even if a sociopath takes an action that appears to be good-hearted or kind, there's usually an ulterior motive.
Sociopaths often cheat on their partners, since they don't feel guilt for doing so.

3. Realize that sociopaths are expert manipulators. They're dangerous because they're capable of making people do whatever they want.

Sociopaths use a variety of strategies to cause people in their lives to do things for them. They often pit people against each other to achieve their own ends, or have others lie for them to cover up the truth.
Sociopaths are often at the center of love triangles, or the people to break up a marriage.

In a workplace setting, they might undermine coworkers to make themselves look good in front of the boss.

In a friend circle, a sociopath might cause drama that forces people to take sides, while he or she coolly controls the entire situation.

4. Don't expect a sociopath to care about your feelings. A sociopath does not care who gets used or hurt, because sociopaths have no conscience or scruples against taking gross advantage of your kindness and goodwill. A key characteristic of a sociopath is that they can not comprehend that others have feelings or can be hurt by their actions.
Sociopaths don't change to become empathetic. No amount of "talking it through" or giving the person extra chances is going to make him or her a better person.

If you can distance yourself enough to realize it's not really about you, you'll have more power to stand up to the sociopath.

5. To deal with a sociopath, think like one. Once you recognize that someone in your life is a sociopath, you'll be able to see what drives the person and where his or her weak points are. If you try to handle the person like you would someone without a personality disorder, you'll just end up getting frustrated or pulled back into the person's drama.

When you interact with a sociopath, keep your guard up and resist the temptation to talk it out or change the person.

Remember that sociopaths aren't motivated by love, but by power, so you want to show them you won't give them power over you.


I am so fortunate to have grown up in the 1950s and 1960s. There was still a real world out there.
Kids played outside, with each other, instead of being immersed in video games or TV or cell phones. The world was not yet dominated by corporations and national chain stores. There was individuality and originality. Songs had no “method”. Music all sounded different. TV was only on a few hours a day and there were only three channels.
Most people had a job and a decent income that could help raise a family. You were most likely assured of a lifetime job with a company and a reasonable, secure retirement after putting in your 20 years.
There was racism. Plenty of it, but we lived in a nation then that was locked in a struggle to grant equal right to minorities and women….to right the wrongs of an otherwise great nation. There was a sincere sense of hope and direction.
The 80s ended all that.
Since Ronald Reagan, our country has been in rapid decline. We have lost our neighborhoods. We lost our communities. Mom and Pop businesses have been devoured by big business. Jobs were traded for profits. Benefits were traded for profits. Security was traded for profits. Job loyalty was traded for profits. Bigotry, intolerance, national arrogance and bullying reared it’s ugly head once again under the facade of “American Exceptionalism”…brought on by a B-actor cowboy on horseback who played on the fears of a declining white America.
The Fascists have turned everyone against everyone else, in an attempt to divert our attention from their actions to completely and totally take control of everything we have. People retreat into their own causes, their own small communities and their own personal cyber world, building walls to protect what little they have left. Meanwhile, your security, dignity and hopes wither like a house plant in the corner that has been neglected.
The individuality of our cities has been replaced with cloned national companies. Identical shopping malls are planted in every community. Small business has been smothered. Community identities have been smashed and replaced with national models.
The big-business propaganda will blame it on “government regulations”, but fail to tell you that “Big Business” has written almost all of the laws since 1980 by the use of high paid lobbyists in Washington DC to further their own interests. The people are no longer represented. Money is now the thing that determines our future, with all profits going to the top, with NO "trickle down"..while they continue to poison our food, pollute our cities, our air, our water and our lives in the name of Shareholder profits.
Wars are no longer fought for Freedom, but for Corporate Interests abroad. Soldiers are used and then thrown away, no longer able to depend on a grateful nation, but discarded by ungrateful oligarchs.
We have an entire generation that has been raised in a cyber world, devoid of personal contact, unstructured by knowledge of history and how to control their government and lacking perspective and compassion for their fellow man.
It is now nothing more than utter survival. A total sense of self-identity with little regard for what is moral and right. The vision of the future is reduced to personal gain. Acceptance of evil is now considered the norm....just the other side of life. People avoid it by ignoring in denial until it towers over their own tightly woven lives.
Truly a very different world than the one I grew up in.
Happy New Year…….I guess.