Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Riot Within*

Violent protests in response to violent actions are understandable, especially when the violent actions occur repeatedly, and are directed disproportionately towards human beings who are already marginalized in every other regard. What white privileged people need to do is shake up their own hearts and minds, violently so if necessary. Here are some things to consider.

The following is not a riddle, but a starting point to operate from: What is not black, white, yellow, red, brown, or any other color? What is not male, female, or any other sexual or gender identity? What is not gay, straight, queer, or any sexual orientation at all? What is not young or old? The answer is: Your soul. Think about that. The very fabric of your being has absolutely nothing to do with demographics nor outward appearances. Most of those are accidents of genetics and time.

We must begin to live our lives first and foremost from that perspective, as soul first, and everything else second. Not even second. Trivial, if not totally meaningless. Some rare individuals have achieved this, but most of us have not. It is not something you can teach, and not an overnight transformation. It takes conscious effort, and it may even fly in the face of your biological nature. The thing about our species is that we were gifted the ability to understand and, when necessary, overcome our instincts when they do not serve us well.

Caucasian people cannot possibly comprehend what the experience of a black person is like. We can, maybe, understand from our own experiences those circumstances of exclusion, repeated denial of our worth, and poverty. Thankfully, fewer still know the fear for their life every day, from others, even law enforcement. We do not know what it is to be subjected daily to suspicion, stereotypes, and injustice, with zero justification. If we can at least empathize, then we know we cannot demand that those tortured souls “behave” themselves in the face of continued mistreatment.

We should indeed feel shame for participating in institutional racism, even unwittingly, and fully recognize the sins of our fathers from previous generations. It can end with us if we want it to. We should want it to, because in limiting anyone else, we limit ourselves. Back to the soul again, the part of you that is colorblind. You cannot elevate your own being by denigrating anyone else. That is the strategy of the bully, and if you measure your life purely by economic and social status, then you are missing the vast ocean for the beach.

Surrender is the answer, of course. Surrender power to those we have marginalized and betrayed. Exercise your faith that equality for others does not translate to reverse inequality. Reverse discrimination is a myth fed to us by those who wield economic and social power over others of all non-affluent demographics. Stop defining the rules so that you can maintain all the benefits you receive from them. Stop insisting that you know what is best for others when they can damn well speak for themselves. Take their cuffs off and embrace the possibilities.

Most of all, surrender your personal attitudes and assumptions, and expose yourself as much as possible to as many other souls as possible, ignoring the externalities. “Free your mind” is not just a wonderful quote from The Matrix, it should be what we strive for every minute of every day. Accept nothing less of yourself than a total commitment to living from your soul first, and accepting others at the level of their soul.

Limitless. That is the essence of our souls, and we are all in bondage when we define ourselves and each other by mere physicality, philosophy, and fiscal parameters. Murder, mass incarceration, discrimination, and racism are overt acts of hostility that threaten to unravel us as a society and as individuals. They are the antithesis of who we are at our core, in our souls. We owe it to ourselves to be better than that, to transcend our bodies and minds, and lead with our hearts.

* This title came to mind without my knowledge that it is also the title of a book by Rodney King.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Charity Fatigue

There is no shortage of organizations to choose from in spending your donation dollars during our international pandemic emergency, assuming you have some disposable income and are not yourself in need of assistance. It can be overwhelming to contemplate charitable giving for a variety of reasons beyond the infinite diversity of causes. How do we act responsibly? That is a very personal decision only you can make.

Remember the adage “charity begins at home?” Ok, sounds great, but how come you do not qualify for a tax deduction unless the family member you are providing financial aid to lives physically in your household as a “dependent?” Countless citizens in the U.S. are caregivers to their parents in one sense or another, often helping maintain the independence of their mother or father, as they should if at all possible. Apparently, our government does not respect that effort. It certainly does not reward it.

A friend who reviews government grant applications as part of her job responsibilities recently described how she was receiving applications from individuals desperate for financial aid, but who had no experience in the proper field, nor any explicit outline or plan germane to the grant itself. At least one individual was seeking funds for healthcare. Grant applications are not easily prepared, nor without strict protocol, so going to such lengths knowing the odds are stacked heavily against you is a tragically remarkable effort.

My friend’s empathetic sharing of her travail exposes the most excruciating notion to contemplate: There are clearly many needs that should already be met by governments, the private sector, or both. Increasingly, federal, state, and local jurisdictions are abdicating their responsibilities to the poor, women, and marginalized citizens we have historically referred to as minorities. This willful neglect is too often at the behest of large corporations seeking tax breaks, outright bailouts, and other subsidies to permit continued profiteering.

The situation is further aggravated by those same corporations who refuse to pay living wages to their employees, provide affordable healthcare options, family leave, and other “benefits” that amount to necessities in order to maintain a physically, mentally, and financially healthy, productive workforce.

The concentration of wealth in the hands of a few also results in a small number of charitable foundations receiving a disproportionately large amount of donor revenue. Bill Gates wants to end malaria. Noble cause, but how many other causes go wanting? Every celebrity guest appearing on Jimmy Fallon’s at-home episodes of The Tonight Show has their pet charity that they advocate. Not every organization is blessed with such high-profile endorsements; and when does your donation become social currency for your own popularity?

Social media fundraisers run the gamut, too, and it is likely that many of your friends will select a favorite organization for which to solicit donations. This is a wonderful opportunity, but I find myself donating randomly, by gut instinct rather than proper research for how the organization is run, what percentage of your donation reaches its target versus what goes to administrative costs, and other factors that would better inform my decision.

Beyond the motivation for generosity generated by other individuals, and the media, there exist far more reasons for “charity choice paralysis.” The more empathetic the individual, the more difficult it is to choose, the easier it is to cling to your money lest you face a personal crisis yourself. Often, those who want to help are the least likely to ask for help themselves when they truly need it. Tornado and hurricane seasons are approaching, maybe we should wait until one of those other natural disasters hits us. Wow, when did charitable giving begin to resemble gambling?

Ultimately, no one can persuade you to part with your money for any reason, nor should they try. You have freedom of choice, one of those being to refrain from making donations. As for myself, I am torn these days between giving up on humanity entirely, and donating strictly to organizations devoted to the salvation of other species; or just scrolling through GoFundMe to find worthy individuals. Maybe I will seize upon an opportunity provided by a friend brave enough to disclose their dire circumstances on Facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2020

We Have to Stop Perpetuating Pain

© m.dailyhunt.in

In the United States there is only one thing we do better than taking care of each other. That would be screwing each other. I know because I have been a perpetrator in the past, still guilty on occasion even now, and firmly believe I will always possess the tendency to want to punish others for times I perceive to have been wronged. We cannot continue this “kick the dog” mentality or we will never have a society worth living in. Why is this an overwhelmingly male condition? How do we start to heal and redeem ourselves?

I understand how difficult it is to suppress the urge to smite someone or something that screwed you. The other day, in talking with someone about what legal recourse I have to recover thousands of dollars in repair costs due to what I believe was an undisclosed issue with a house we purchased last year, I was reminded by the person that ethics does not figure into the situation. It is all about what you can prove. She told me she has never heard of a real estate dispute that resolved in favor of the plaintiff. I left the conversation more pissed-off than when I started. The money is the least of it, of course. The real blow is the shame. I am convinced I was made a fool of, that the prior owner of the home is laughing at me, that my father is scolding me, even from the grave. Perception is reality.

Men do not do well with intangibles. Our desire is to make tangible our feelings, and it never ends well. We smash the dish as a symbol of a broken heart. Worse yet we physically beat someone so they can feel externally what we feel internally. There! You feel that?! No, they don’t. They don’t make the connection because it is not even an apples to oranges comparison. You cannot control your own emotions by controlling someone else.

Boys learn early on that social rank is important. It goes beyond popularity. It is imperative to be an alpha if you want to receive tangible benefits like sex, money, fame, and respect. The irony is that sex, money, and fame are either fleeting, of minor importance, or come with a whole new set of drawbacks, or all of the above. Meanwhile, respect has nothing to do with sex, money, or fame. Money should be earned, but in gross amounts it seldom is. True respect hinges on how you deal with….intangibles. How do you handle rejection? How do you deal with disappointment or failure? How do you react when someone wrongs you? Does your perception of reality match actual reality?

You can’t let people walk all over you, you say. You have to fight back, your father tells you when you are the victim of a bully. You gonna let her do that to you, bro? your friends say when your girlfriend breaks up with you. Toxic logic, that is what we are constantly bombarded with. We are taught that we are already perfect, and anyone who challenges that notion is our enemy, and they need to be taught a lesson. No, it is we who need to see our setbacks as lessons. Step back, take stock, adjust, and move on.

Most women understand this. They may have the opposite problem of failing to be assertive, believing that they are not worthy alone, without a relationship. They are taught a different kind of toxic logic, that they are to be subordinate to males. This was probably never true even when we roamed the African plains in our early evolution as pre-tribal groups. Our lineage would have ended long ago if either sex failed to provide for the other.

Fast forward to modern times, to today when we face a global pandemic and our overriding reaction here in the U.S.A. is selfishness. Hoard the tangibles. Hit the beaches, physical distancing be damned. Get myself tested whether I have symptoms or not. Figure out how I can exploit this disaster for my own financial benefit, be it selling stocks via insider trading, or crafting a predatory scam. “Eff You!” has replaced “E Pluribus Unum” as our national motto.

We are consistently pitted against one another. Employers overwork and under pay during the best of times. Now they fire the workforce to appease shareholders who see their stocks plummeting. The cascading effects of a capitalist economy can now be seen clearly, yet we cling to more toxic logic: If we just work harder, we’ll eventually achieve the riches we aspire to. The American Dream itself is toxic. Material wealth is no measure of respect and self-worth because you cannot measure intangibles. We desperately strive to make it so, but it never will be.

How do we find some measure of hope when venomous economics, poisonous relationships, and now a lethal pandemic are what we face? We have to begin, individually, to perpetuate peace and kindness instead of anger and pain and resentment. It takes mindfulness, willfulness, and persistence. It is proactive instead of reactive. In essence, we have to create our own hope. The good news is, that as long as we are alive, and our brains are functioning, we can do that.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Coronavirus Reveals That Our "Normal" is Itself a Disaster

© Mayoclinic.org

Since I am not even remotely literate in epidemiology, it would be irresponsible to comment on the medical aspects of covid-19. However, the fallout from it in terms of social, economic, and cultural reactions is fair game. What, if anything, will we learn from this collective experience? What will change permanently? Is resumption of “normal” an appropriate outcome? Serious questions abound if we want a better future.

Mandates and directives are changing daily, if not hourly, as governments at every level make new policy decisions based on the latest information available from the scientific community. We hope that is the process, anyway, but consumer confidence is often conspicuously absent. Politically-motivated courses of action are also at play, and it is left to media pundits and the citizenry to conclude which are in the best interest of the public versus being to the benefit of corporations and the (considerably) more wealthy.

This episode is a bizarre hybrid of a natural disaster and a manmade, or at least human-induced, catastrophe. Our behavior reflects it. While we are at our best, as Americans, anyway, in the face of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods, we are at our apprehensively worst when confronting a Y2K situation, or, obviously, a potentially cataclysmic disease pandemic. Consequently, the coronavirus has left us torn between a hoarding, every-man-for-himself mentality and a longing for closeness that violates the imperative of social distancing. Mentally and physically we are stressed to the max, and that only makes our immune systems more vulnerable to the pathogen we are trying desperately to avoid contracting.

My social media feed is full of humor, thank goodness, but also angst and uncertainty. There is little comfort to be had, and if there is anything we in the U.S. are addicted to, it is comfort….and convenience….and dependable sources of entertainment, food, and beverage….and ideally all at the same place and time. Right now, if the internet goes down, we are collectively screwed. Food delivery goes away? We are doomed.

Those in cities and suburbs, at least, are feeling helpless. Rural populations are likely laughing at us. They put a premium on self-reliance, and whatever we are in for as a result of our dependence on others in the big city, well, we deserve it. All our learnin’ and liberalism ain’t gonna get us nowhere. Forgive that last remark, or better yet take it to heart because there is some truth in it. Farmers, ranchers, and others who labor in small, far-flung communities deserve respect. Their skill sets are broader out of necessity. We could learn a good deal from them in how to prepare for emergencies.

As our lives boil down to basics, as our economic systems are forced to reevaluate their most basic tenets, and as we gain a new appreciation of what really matters, will we remember it all when life returns to our expectations? Should that be what we aim for? This pandemic is both a crisis and a valuable opportunity for make fundamental changes in our global culture, as well as addressing shortcomings here in the U.S.

Personally, maybe we make different choices in the marketplace, supporting local businesses over chain retail and dining. We’ve learned we can live without unhealthy foods we’d come to crave. We continue positive habits we evolved to cope with the stress of self-quarantine and social distancing.

Collectively, ideally, we embrace science again, start advocating for better pay and benefits for teachers, and press even harder for healthcare reform and a living wage so we can better weather future emergencies. We recall which of our civic leaders were on the side of working people, the elderly, and our youth, and who was trying to maximize their own gains or minimize their own losses at the expense of the rest of us. We remember that in the next election cycle, and push initiatives that would affect the removal of corrupt officials from office faster than recall elections.

Let us also recognize the need to repair the barriers between humanity and the wilderness that are necessary for the protection of our global population from novel pathogens. Not every organism is an appropriate resource. Probably not a resource in any way, shape or form, actually. Periodically we are reminded that our existence is tenuous, dependent on an infinite number of factors beyond our personal control. This is one of those times. Let us heed the warning, and work unselfishly toward sustainability.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Our Tax Dollars Are Being Used Against Us

The primary objection to democratic frontrunner candidates for President of the United States appears to be the idea that they would increase taxes, perhaps drastically. The problem stems from interpretation of “taxes” as strictly, or mostly, income taxes; and the belief that our current taxes are being spent as they should be. Neither of these assumptions is true.

© Atmmarketplace.com

The most extreme opponents of taxation view the practice as “theft,” the robbing of your hard-earned wealth. In theory, taxes represent your contribution to the public good, services and products shared by the citizens of your municipality, county, state, province, and nation. Unfortunately, that reality is changing, and the disbursement of your tax dollars is becoming larcenous at a grand scale.

….I look at increased taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations as an opportunity for atonement. Call them reparations for having enslaved labor and jeopardized our collective health, both physical and mental, over decades if not centuries.

As one who will be seeking professional help with his own income tax for 2019, I am in no position to comment on the collection and disbursement of any other form of taxation. However, there are plenty that come to mind immediately: estate taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, taxes on interest income, and excise taxes such as “sin taxes.” You cannot say that America has not been creative in ways to generate tax revenue. How to tax everyone equitably has been the challenge.

How is that revenue spent? Traditionally, tax revenue has gone to pay for such features as roads and other public infrastructure, public safety services (police, fire, other first responders), national defense, libraries, museums, parks and monuments, and salaries of government officials who represent you or otherwise serve you. The arts, sciences, and public television are also supported through government programs. Tough to argue against such vital foundations of our collective society, but some people do.

Perhaps this frustration is due in part to the fact that many of the projects related to these services are not performed in-house, in the public sector, but contracted to private companies. Some companies may not be eminently qualified to carry out the tasks, despite a low bid, and consequently the job must be re-done. That kind of redundancy and waste should be unacceptable. Other companies, more qualified and skilled, habitually overcharge or otherwise exploit the systems in place to milk as much profit as possible. Cost overruns are the order of the day, and apparently accepted as common practice by government agencies that engage in public-private partnerships.

Ok, but at least our tax dollars are ensuring our health and safety as consumers, members of the labor force, and guaranteeing environmental health, a free market, and all the other things we take for granted. Right? Wrong. That is the way it should be, but the opposite is happening instead.

We have to end the feedback loop of wealth accruing more wealth to be weaponized as an unfair tax burden against the poor and middle class for the creation of still more wealth for the wealthy.

Your tax dollars, instead of being spread widely for the benefit of the entire citizenry, are being funneled upward to corporations and individuals that are already enjoying a vastly greater degree of wealth than you or I. This takes the form of outright industry bailouts and corporate subsidies, plus loopholes in the tax laws permitting all manner of legal but unethical abuses. Industry then uses its protected and enhanced profits to lobby your government representatives for deregulation to further boost profits. This tends to result in fewer protections for labor, including union-busting and depressed wages and benefits, as well as erosion of consumer protections against faulty and dangerous products, and a decrease in environmental quality resulting from relaxed codes on atmospheric emissions and discharge of wastes and toxins into water resources.

The free market, though! Ah, if only that were true. If a free market existed, the U.S. would no longer have an auto industry, a coal industry, an oil industry, nor probably the enormous financial institutions we continue to have. All are consistently subsidized with your tax dollars. In the case of auto manufacturing and big banks, bailouts kept them from collapsing, for the time being. I guess we enjoy low fuel prices, but at what costs to the environment and our health? I guess we enjoy free bank….H-e-e-e-y, wait a minute!

Personally, I look at increased taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations as an opportunity for atonement. Call them reparations for having enslaved labor and jeopardized our collective health, both physical and mental, over decades if not centuries. We have to end the feedback loop of wealth accruing more wealth to be weaponized as an unfair tax burden against the poor and middle class for the creation of still more wealth for the wealthy. We have to tear down the dam that has resulted in hoarded currency, and restore the natural flow and cycle of money throughout the economy. Currency must be defined once again as energy, not power.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Reverence For The Wrong Thing

Since about the dawn of civilization, depending on where you place that on the timeline of humanity, our species has claimed divine relationships, yet held a far less righteous agenda. Prior to that, when there were fewer of us, scattered farther afield, conflict was rather rare, resources abundant, and sentiments towards other populations relatively benign. Those phenomena out of our control we assumed were the doings of gods, and we had proper reverence for them. Salmon runs. The wet season. Our lack of knowledge kept us in our place: frightened on the one hand, grateful on the other. My how times have changed.

The consequences of our changing social and cultural climate have resulted in divisions and hostilities we should have averted, but must now devote considerable resources to mediate, repair, and end. This is not going to be an indictment of science, but a reminder of our animal nature, our ability to overcome it, and a plea for a shift in focus.

…. we revere religion above God. We hold sacred our technology instead of creation. We aspire to material wealth instead of peace, enlightenment, and humility.

As biological entities we are selfish organisms, like any other primate, mammal, or even insect. We have to be that way if we want to perpetuate our genes. Science has revealed that we are not as special a species as we would like to think, and we react angrily to that notion, especially if we are of certain religious persuasions. We should find joy and solidarity in our fundamental instincts and shared physiology with other animals, yet we actively deny it instead. This attitude serves not the Creator, only our own ego.

Today we revere religion above God. We hold sacred our technology instead of creation. We aspire to material wealth instead of peace, enlightenment, and humility. Do you sense the pattern here? God is good. Religions, at least the militarized ones? Not so much. If you are fighting your holy war with anything more violent than battle hymns, you have pretty much broken your covenant with God and taken up with the Devil. The means of asserting your rights have violated your belief system. Your definition of God becomes “warrior” if not executioner, or plain thug. No one considers God villainous until their religion needs It to be.

Religion, we should remind ourselves daily, is a human institution, and as such serves a human agenda, not a heavenly one. We conveniently interpret scripture, from whichever source applies, to uphold the favor of our race, our male sex, our male gender, our perceived dominance over other human individuals and populations, as well as other species. God is most certainly not a specific race, sex or gender, nor even a species. Other living things have souls, or none of us do. Why create a living being and then not give it a soul? Religion has created more atheists than science ever will because of its insistence that we are somehow a product of greater divine attention than anything else.

One aspect of humanity that does make us unique is our ability to recognize ourselves as animals, with all that this implies, and yet behave in ways that avoid obvious self-interest. We can put others of our species, or our entire species, ahead of ourselves if we so desire. The more specialized we become as individuals, too, the more it behooves us to preserve our collective diversity. To put it another way, the less well-rounded we are in tasks, knowledge, and social interactions, the more we need others to cook for us (speaking personally here), solve complex problems, and resolve large conflicts, to name but a few important skills.

”…. meaningful change will happen from individual choices made daily in the marketplace, the workplace, the church congregation, the public agency, the private enterprise, and the personal household.

If our human diversity is so vital to our collective survival, then why are we still at war, why is there still racism and other forms of discrimination, and why does poverty exist? If we have the capacity to acknowledge the negative ramifications of purely selfish acts, why are we so reluctant to be altruistic, charitable, and accepting of each other? Simple, and yet complex. The human institutions we have created for the organization and advancement of our species have proven terribly vulnerable to corruption, abuse of power, and other inhumane and criminal actions. Government and business and religion are all rife with atrocities that amplify our worst individual tendencies. Politics compounds the dissonance created by the other three institutions, framing everything as an us versus them scenario.

How do we overcome? Some advocate anarchy or libertarianism. Others see democratic socialism as the answer. Ironically, perhaps, meaningful change will happen from individual choices made daily in the marketplace, the workplace, the church congregation, the public agency, the private enterprise, and the personal household. Choosing to reward your definition of excellence, asserting your right to freedom from violence and discrimination, and committing to a better understanding of others will be how we solve our most intractable problems. Speaking honestly and authentically, and doing our best to withhold judgment of others, is the process.

Celebrate the right things, resist the temptation to confuse the divine with the human. Hold yourself to higher standards. Be critical of your own choices not only in the voting booth, but in products and services. Spend as much time as you can listening without speaking. Admit your mistakes and squelch the impulse to put down others for theirs. Realize you are going to fail, repeatedly, until all of it becomes second nature. Forgive yourself in the meantime.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Impeachment and the Super Bowl

The past few days have brought us events that offer a stark contrast between spontaneous generosity and orchestrated greed. We can learn from both, and demand better from ourselves.

Derrick Nnadi, Kansas City Chiefs
© Wfla.com

In the wake of winning Super Bowl LIV (54), Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi announced that he was paying the adoption fees for ninety-one dogs at the Kansas City Pet Project animal shelter. This is old news, it turns out. He has been doing that the entire season after every Chiefs victory. Wait, there’s more. “Tackles For Kids” was another season-long campaign in which Nnadi invited fans and supporters to pledge money for every tackle he made. Alternatively, you could make a flat, one-time donation. Proceeds went to Boys & Girls Clubs. Nnadi also founded the Derrick Nnadi Foundation, based in Atlanta. The non-profit helps families and children in need in Kansas City and Virginia Beach, Virginia, Nnadi’s home town.

Another story has been making the rounds in social media that purports that Super Bowl LIV MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes once paid the checks for everyone at a pizza parlor as thanks for fellow diners leaving himself and his girlfriend in peace during their meal. This may or may not be true, as a nearly identical tale was attributed to NFL Hall of Fame inductee Troy Polamalu back in 2009. Neither report has been verified.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate impeachment hearings have only reinforced low public opinions of Congress, and exposed once again the devotion to self-interest of a majority of politicians. Being selfish is not in and of itself a crime, mind you, all individual humans are selfish to one degree or another. What should be unforgiveable is disguising selfish desires as something that benefits the greater good. This was an actual argument put forth during the hearings by Presidential attorney Alan Dershowitz. Various interpretations have been offered, but even in defending his argument against impeachment, Dershowitz stands by the idea that if the President believes his re-election is in the interest of the nation, then soliciting campaign help from a foreign government is not necessarily a criminal act all by itself.

Regardless of the validity of those arguments, it appears obvious that the intent is to protect not only the President, but an entire political party that has fallen into chaos, and sunk to a new low in a desperate attempt to protect extreme white male financial privilege at all costs. Only a tiny fraction of the nation has its interests protected under this kind of….rule.

How ironic that we continue to expect the worst behavior from supposedly “entitled” professional athletes, who are mostly people of color, while we stubbornly refuse to acknowledge evidence of willful, unethical acts by our elected officials, who are usually Caucasian males. Cultural and institutionalized racism, and oppression of women are two reasons why. What are we so afraid of? When did sacrifice for the greater good go from being a virtue to a sign of weakness?

Yesterday, my wife and I were presented with an opportunity to benefit a charitable organization that was tabling in the cold and snow outside a dining establishment here in Colorado Springs. ChildHelp.org is a non-profit that has existed since 1959, but maintains a low profile to reduce overhead costs. The current mission, as the two spokesmen explained to us, is to provide backpacks, basics like a toothbrush and toothpaste, school supplies, and toys for abused children, locally. I decided to purchase two.

We went to buy groceries after that, and I was surprised to find my card was declined. I was able to resolve that a couple hours later at my bank. The charity transaction was interpreted as suspicious activity, and perhaps now I know why. Childhelp has a reputation for turning one-time donations into recurring, automatic transactions. Wow, no good deed goes unpunished. I am not looking forward to the problems others have had with this organization. I decided to call the bank today to preempt any further transactions, but the one has not posted yet. I'll have to call again tomorrow, after it is posted, to avert recurring charges. I do not trust ChildHelp to behave itself.

I hope I can maintain my good will towards others, but maybe I’ll have to start my own foundation, like Derrick Nnadi, instead of entrusting others who may or may not be on the level. Further erosion of public trust, and trust in our family, friends, and neighbors, is going to be the death of our civilization. We must correct that before we can accomplish anything.