Advocating For Enforcement Of The Law

30 09 2009

OK. I’m breaking my silence (which only exists because I’ve had little to say and no time to say it) to ask that everyone make their opinion on this matter publicly known.

You may have heard about a recent Newsmax article by columnist John Perry that appears to suggest a military coup be staged against the President of the United States. You can read the full text of the article here, but this passage from the article, I think, lays out Mr. Perry’s assertions loud and clear.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don’t shrug and say, “We can always worry about that later.”

In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.

Mr. Perry’s words seem to be suggesting an attack against the President of the United States. I think it’s safe to say that everyone understands that an attack against the leader of a country is a declaration of war. According to the United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Speaking personally, I think it’s glaringly obvious that Mr. Perry’s words are themselves an act of treason and I feel that it’s time to arrest Mr. Perry. Seeing as Mr. Perry’s article was published on the internet, scaring up two witnesses should be a breeze. Just in case problems do arise in that area, I’d like to make myself available for testimony. And I’ll bring a friend.

I’m asking that everyone, and I mean everyone, make a public statement regarding their feelings about Mr. Perry’s suggestions. Here’s mine:

Insomuch as the The United States Constitution defines treason as “levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort”, I demand that Mr. John Perry, columnist for the online publication Newsmax, be arrested and tried for Treason. As evidence of Mr. Perry’s crime, I provide the following link:

Full Text of Newsmax Column Suggesting Military Coup Against Obama

Adam Shephard
Rochester, IN

As stated before I ask that everyone makes some sort of statement regarding Mr. Perry’s article and whether or not they feel it is treasonous. If you have a blog, put it there. Got a Facebook site? Put it into your status. Letter to the editor of a local newspaper? Great. The idea is to get your opinion in writing. Please show your name and the town where you live.


A Second Look at Compassion

24 12 2008

And then there’s the polar opposite of people who don’t deserve compassion.

Back in October, approximately 300 workers in Ashland, Ohio lost their jobs when the Archway cookie factory closed their doors. No jobs. No insurance. Boom.

The point could be made that Archway had no choice. They were toast and they knew it and they couldn’t afford to continue to pay these people. Actually, it wasn’t “Archway” so much as Catterton partners, the private-equity firm that bought Archway in 2005. According to Catterton Partners’ own web site:

With the closing of Catterton Partners’ sixth fund, we have over $2.0 billion of equity capital under active management, making Catterton one of the largest private equity firms in the United States focused on the consumer industry.

Gives you that big, warm, It’s A Wonderful Life kind of feeling, doesn’t it?

Anyway, Catterton put Archway up on the auction block where it was purchased by Lance Inc. a North Carolina company that manufactures and markets snack foods. Lance Inc. not only re-opened the plant and gave all the workers their jobs back but gave each employee a $1,500 prepaid debit card. This simple act provided the employees with not just a job and some security but some hope not only for the holiday season, but, potentially, for the kindness of others.

The CEO of Lance Inc., David Singer, has been quoted as saying that the gift cards were their way of showing that they were different than Catterton. From CNN’s coverage of this story:

“We wouldn’t do it willy-nilly,” Singer says. “We do want to make money. But this is the pool of folks that we intend to hire. We just wanted to let them know who we were.”

Lance Inc. intends to have the plant rolling out five separate lines of cookies by the end of the year and is hoping to be able to add jobs over the next year.

People toss the idea of boycotts around all the time. Firm X’s CXO makes a disparaging remark about group Y and boycotts are called for. You rarely hear of anybody asking people to specifically patronize a particular business because they did something good. But shouldn’t Lance Inc. be lauded for this simple act? Reopening the plant and returning these people to work would have been enough. The debit cards? This is the kind of thing that goes beyond what should be done and steps into true kindness and compassion.

I’d like to suggest that everyone patronize Lance inc. whenever possible. Lance Inc. sells to Target and Wal-Mart. You can also purchase items directly from their web site.

I’ve always felt that using old, foreign expressions to make a simple statement is pretentious at best. This time, though, if you know the expression and what it means, it fits.

Namaste, Lance Inc.

And maybe, in this bleakest of holiday seasons, it goes for everyone. Even those that don’t deserve compassion.


No Compassion For You!!

20 12 2008

I first took the five precepts in October of last year. I attended no official ceremony, I took them quietly and to myself while attending the Dalai Lama’s talk on “Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment”.

The fact that my vows were not officially recognized by anyone does not lessen those vows for me. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still a Buddhist even though no one has told me so. However, if a group of people wanted to tell me that I was not really a Buddhist because they didn’t recognize me as such, I think I’d have a problem with that.

Last month in California, a large number of religious fanatics (many of whom were not from California) convinced their followers, along with a number of other general bigots, to pass a measure banning same-sex marriages, after the state Supreme Court had already ruled them constitutional. In other words, a group of people told the state that it was not allowed to allow people of the same sex to be married. Now, these same bigoted fanatics want to tell people who have already been married under the law that they may no longer consider themselves married.

I’m not gay and am married to a wonderful person of the opposite sex. Not only do I not think that two people should only be allowed to marry if they are straight, I think it’s wrong for anyone else to tell people who they can and can’t marry. Why? Because who someone else marries is none of anyone else’s business.

No, it does not matter whether or not your religion says it’s wrong for two people of the same sex to marry. Not one bit. Why? Because your religion does not govern this country. NOBODY’S religion governs this country.

Let’s suppose for the sake of this argument forced on us by fanatical bigots that a god – let’s choose the Christian version of god – both exists and says that people of the same sex should not be allowed to marry. That has absolutely nothing to do with the same-sex marriages that California and a few other states have allowed. None of these states are saying that Christian wedding ceremonies, Muslim wedding ceremonies, Jewish wedding ceremonies or any other particular religion’s wedding ceremonies have to be open to homosexuals. The states are allowing civil ceremonies to be open – not just to heterosexuals or homosexuals or any one particular group but to everyone. That is something that a state has the right to do, regardless of how particular religious groups or even all religious groups feel about it.

I’m going to say this as clearly as possible: Nobody’s version of god has jurisdiction over civil wedding ceremonies.

Of course, I try to make this blog about my particular journey through Buddhism, as opposed to my general soapbox about everything. So here’s where my issues in Buddhism come up.

In Buddhism, we are taught to have compassion for everyone. That the “wrong” actions of people are guided by their ignorance and are part of the suffering we all endure. This is one of the few points where I have to differ from the Buddha’s teachings. I’m just going to say it so I’m asking my fellow Buddhists to prepare and – frankly – chill the fuck out.

I just don’t believe that all people deserve compassion. As a matter of fact, I believe that some people not getting compassion is simply the karma they have created for themselves by their actions.

Sure, I could say “yes, of course, compassion – I have complete compassion for people who want to force others to live life their way. I have absolute compassion for the Chinese government even though their treatment of the people of Tibet amounts to genocide. I have complete compassion for parents who kill their own children. I have total and unrelenting passion for politicians who put their constituents in harm’s way in the name of money.”

Hell, I could just pretend that I believe that Jesus is the son of God sent to earth to save us from sin. Or I could pretend that I believe that martyring myself in Allah’s name will get me 72 virgins when I arrive in paradise. Or I could pretend that I believe that eating Pop Rocks and drinking Coke at the same time will make my stomach explode. But I don’t pretend any of those thins. Why? Because they very simply don’t make any sense.

And that’s where I stand with compassion for people who make specific efforts to hurt other people. Do I hope they stop? Yes. Do I hope they change from persecutors to helpers – maybe even Bodhisattvas? You bet. Do I have compassion for them? I gotta say, not so much.

So what have I learned?

I’ve learned that as much as I have found the Buddha’s teaching to be helpful with my life, some things just don’t fly for me. (Someday I’ll tell you how I feel about reincarnation.) But I don’t feel that it is wrong for me to feel the way I do or even to question those teachings. In fact, I believe that questioning the Buddha’s teachings is exactly what I’m supposed to do. The Buddha himself said that we should not just believe him because he said so. That we should examine everything for ourselves. That’s what I’m doing here.

And so I continue to meditate. Sometimes to find answers but mostly just to calm the mind. To let my lack of compassion downshift to a dull roar.

Second Nashville Video and vodpod Widget

4 12 2008

I neglected to mention the other day that we shot two music videos in Nashville. The other one – Jan Edwards’ “Every Day Of Your Life” – went online last night.

I’ve added a vodpod widget to the right so you can see those videos, plus “Songs For Daddy” and any other of my projects right here.


Implements of Destruction

1 12 2008

I just posted a music video for Marc-Alan Barnette‘s single “Less Is More” to YouTube.

My partner Randy DeFord and I shot this video down at Jay’s Place in Nashville last month. Owner Jay Vern is a good friend who hooked us up with Marc-Alan. The idea was that we (Jay, Marc-Alan, Randy and me) would be a good fit. We all enjoy doing good work for its own sake as opposed to shooting for fame. Talking to Marc-Alan when we got down there, it became clear that Jay had a great vision. We had an amazing time together and I think the end product really reflects the day’s fun .

*But thats not what I came to tell you about
Came to talk about the draft

Just kidding. What I came to talk about was a troll.

There is a person who follows us around and every time Randy or I post anything about our work online, he/she takes pot shots at us. The person uses different identities on different sites but you can tell from the writing style it’s always the same person.

I find myself both aggravated and amused by this person. Aggravated because no matter what we do, this little mosquito of a person has to sit there and poke at us. Amused because I realize that this person is fueled by insecurity and that their efforts amount to nothing but exposing their shortcomings.

The interesting part about the aggravation/amusement is that I experience both emotions simultaneously. It’s almost as though the aggravation and amusement occur separately from me. It sounds like what I’m supposed to be doing with meditation. Watching the emotion, acknowledging it, then releasing it.

Well, except I’m not releasing it. I still experience these emotions every few minutes. But at least it’s not all negative emotions. There’s even a bit of compassion there for the sorry ass…excuse me…troubled individual. (I only said, “a bit”)

It reminds me of what is one of my favorite teachings. I’m paraphrasing.

Two monks, one older and one younger, were traveling through the countryside. At one point they came to a raging river. Standing at the river’s edge was a young woman. She was upset because she couldn’t figure out how to get across the river.

Knowing that his vows prohibited him from touching women, the young monk walked straight past her and, with some difficulty, crossed the river. But the older monk picked the young woman up on his back and carried her across the river. When he got the other side, she got off of him. She thanked him and went their separate ways.

As they walked, the younger monk was clearly irritated by something. The older monk asked what the problem was. The younger man asked the older monk how he could carry that woman when he knew it was wrong.

The older monk said, “You know, I put her down a few miles back. You’re still carrying her.”

So what have I learned?

In the past, this is the kind of thing that would have angered me for long periods of time. The notion that someone would choose to mess with me like this would really chap my ass.

While I haven’t even come close to understanding the beauty Buddhism has to offer, perhaps I’ve made the tiniest of  first steps.

Or maybe I’m just mellowing with age.

Or maybe it’s the holidays.

*Happy Holidays.

The Tasting Party

7 11 2008

Tomorrow night, my wife and I are having friends over for a little gathering. Basically, I try out new recipes on friends, cooking most of the dishes while we all chat. This is the third one of these I’ve done. I started doing them last year and they provide a number of benefits.

First, it’s an opportunity to get together with some of the few people that I’ve found here in Dinkytown whose company I really enjoy. Second, it gives me the opportunity to work with new methods and flavors in the kitchen. Third, it gives me a chance to serve. Not show off but serve. Of course, the showing off part is always there but recognizing it and releasing it is part of the work.

During these parties I act as chef and waiter. While the guests chat at the table, I’m working on a dish. When one is ready, I bring it to the table, explain what it is and serve. Then it’s back to the stove top.

I try to make dishes that I can be relatively sure will be new to the guests. With the limited grocery resources here in town, that’s difficult but it’s also a big part of the challenge. The whole exercise  is very freeing, really.

So, what have I learned?

When I first did this, it was just something to do. A chance to liven things up for everyone. But once I discovered the therapeutic value, I began to better understand the notion of practice through work. The whole “sweeping the floor” thing.

Of course, once I can achieving the same exhilaration from actually sweeping the floor, then I will really have learned something.

Baby steps.

Hatred v. Concern

5 11 2008

Strangely, the day after the election is more trying than any of the previous days.

Here in the Fourth Circle of Hell, John McCain beat Barack Obama 57% to 41%. People here are truly shocked that the rest of the nation didn’t vote along with them. Asking these people what the problem is, I’ve heard that President Obama:

  • “is going to turn America into a Communist country”
  • “took money from a foreign dictator”
  • “is a terrorist”

    and my personal favorite

    • “is the Antichrist”

      This isn’t anything I haven’t heard before. I’d heard it all through the elections but that was always from anonymous commenters on blogs. The four phrases I list above came this morning out of the mouths of two women that I work with and like.

      For me, hearing this and not judging but being mindful and compassionate is…um…difficult. It’s one thing to fear the painful death that results from drinking Coke while you eat Pop Rocks. It’s another thing altogether to honestly believe that the newly elected President is he who will come to Earth to challenge Christ and bring about the end of days.

      The compassion part isn’t too hard. As I said before, these are people I like. Watching them be possessed by such an intense level of fear and ignorance is hard and I do sincerely hope that they will be free someday. Still, it’s hard to not feel frustration with someone who buys into any old piece of nonsense they receive in an email or from FOX News. It feels like the emotion that bubbles up causing you to want to slap someone who is hysterical – which is wrong, too.

      But I do feel that there is great value in remaining non-judgmental about the situation. If nothing else, we can be examples. I just don’t want to be an example who allows hatred to spread because I was busy being mindful.

      So what have I learned?

      I always used to think that I had a pretty bad attitude. That hatred was part of my general makeup. I certainly used the word enough. I “hated” disco and brussel sprouts and reality shows and “that smell” or “that fucking guy”. Looking back now, I see that I never really hated anyone or anything. I just used the word incorrectly. Not a right view issue but a right speech issue.

      Some people live to bathe in hatred. Their hatred of a person or an idea gives them a sense of purpose and “proof” that they are on the right side of things.

      In the big scheme of things though, does it really matter if it’s disco or the Antichrist? View or speech? Aren’t I, via my concern rather than hatred, giving myself a sense of purpose and “proving” that I’m on the right side of things?