Star Buck$, an Expression, a Piñata and Police

Today it’s Starbucks’ turn for caustic opprobrium. It’s their turn to be piñata of the day, because there were more decent customers than others, in the coffeehouse, and a woman was adroit enough to use the most feared weapon in America -a cellphone.

I’m not worried about the two Black men victimized. They are smart and doing well enough to take legal action to redress the wrong. Nor is there any sympathy needed for the Black police chief, who made himself so powerless that I don’t want to imagine the compromised, sectional existence that must be his. So all is well until tomorrow, when the world sees another America within a minute of the electronic upload. Worst if streaming. To come are the rest of the stories and American children are all watching and learning.

If this reads as uncaring, that’s not my intention. This is more about how I cope with institutionalized racism that pervades all life in America, and don’t ever think that the perpetrators and enablers are always White. I know that because of many experiences.

Starbucks would have us believe that firing a member of its staff and sensitivity training are good enough….to get by. Well, Mr. Starbucks, visit any of your stores and let us know if you see what your brand projects. Look the thing that you hatched, in the eyes. It’s not pretty and it’s menacing.

Your corporate culture is who you are. Your staff don’t need sensitivity training, they need leadership and good examples worthy of emulation. Just as nothing happens until something moves, people do what they believe is expected of them. They want to please you and maybe get recognition.

They are probably stunned by the swiftness of what corporate America and many governmental agencies rely on. Go to the most junior employee, publicly fire them and some people are satisfied. The latest script is, “that is not who we are.” I differ.

So my personal philosophy in coping with victimization is this: first, who needs whom; second, is the commodity essential to my comfort, and third, is it be available elsewhere? What cannot be changed from within can be changed from without. Starbucks needs me. I don’t need Starbucks. Problem solved.

Lastly, the employee fired and those remaining have learned something and that something would likely be taken to the next jobs. How, Mr. Starbucks, have you helped?

Starbucks

  I Love My Life  -Bruises, Balms and All

July 22, 2017

By Leyland A. King

“A fine day, it is. I just love my life”. Say that randomly to colleagues, casual friends -amicable smiles accompanying- that’s your private space-protection, right there. No need for canned sardines and onions. Sometimes it seems that maudlin bests maturity and pragmatism. Even expectations. One might suppose that we wanted to avoid happiness, as much as we, do a bad cold.

I got more interested in the life-and-love business, after being impressed by what must be the absence of shoulders to cry on. Why was there so much hurting and complaining?  Well, I put on my Dear Abby hat and pseudo-empiricist eyeglasses then began counting certain keywords and phrases in social media communications. It was a challenge finding the few happy needles in the digital stack. I wail.

Done with reading mawkishness; watching trivial entertainment, play some she/he, done-me-wrong music, and salvation is now a bottle and a handkerchief. If that’s a choice in life, then keep in touch with a preferred undertaker. No fixer can enlighten and enliven, what amounts to an emotionally desolate place owned by another.

Is it that people want to be unhappy? Perhaps it’s not knowing what it is, that makes it so elusive, or could it be that our society stifles well-being? Whatever the case, with marketing bombards twenty-four seven, all gushing people having their happiness attributed to a brand, it’s no wonder that unhappiness wins. But let’s try and see if these few lines change anything, or at minimum invite thoughtful discussion.

Happiness is an emotional state not easily describable but within reach of everyone, rich or poor. It is a personal experience, and it’s rare. It is a state of serenity that is known immediately once arrived. Happiness cannot be pursued, just as being happy every day is a disappointing absurdity. An expectation that is unachievable except for princesses to be, who get carried off to castles. A simple way of thinking about happiness is by reflection on what are the words and images that you associate with feeling unhappy. Someone chose this surprising definition, found in Dictionary.com, example: “Happiness is happiness.” It must have driven the author nuts.

I see so many statements about what “others” have done or said, to another. Dozens reply with enthusiastic “Amen.” Well, there’s that adage:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
So said some delirious person on being admitted to hospital for long-term mental health care. Unable to distinguish between physical and mental pain, he was meandering his way through life morbidly distressed. Both words and stones might both be very injurious.

I could roam about morosely, surveying life’s landscapes for darkest clouds, below which I live nomadically. Questioned about my circumstances, I may claim that the malevolent cloud unfairly depresses me. Survive a bolt of lightning just so that I may cuss it later. (Oops, I got carried away there)

I am happy….at this moment. To be correct, I should say that I am usually a happy person, despite my own harpies. I am not deluded, sorry to disappoint. Sometimes, I do feel unhappy, most times contented; sometimes merry. But the episodes of happiness, are quite different. When they do unexpectedly, come, the moments are profound and memorable.

Create the conditions and wait. Happiness will come on its own time, and you’ll know it.

Well, what are the conditions, one might ask? That too is doable – think of a bountiful garden. Would it not be well cared, orderly, visually pleasing? Well, since weeds are more prolific and resilient than cultivated plants, the two cannot abide. Envy, strife, obsessions, regret, neglect of your own affairs, are each detrimental to one’s own emotional health. They are analogous to the garden’s weeds.

So, put down the burden where ever you are. Surrender the hurt to the time’s mist. Forgive others with all your heart, and most of all forgive yourself. And remember that even the sun has a fresh start every day.

We All Should Get Behind Trump

Won’t keep you with a lot of insincere reasons. Trump is now standing on the edge of a precipice and appears to have all his options closed. Behind him are a small group of unprincipled fanatics, who are determined to hurry on apocalyptic occurrences. Trump in his naivete did not foresee his predicament. All he wanted was to ride an emperor’s horse.

I think that we ought to follow the pleas of Republicans and get behind Trump. I figure that a bump or a push from us, reasonable forgiving folks, would be more that enough to get him and Bannon’s marionettes over the edge, hopefully to a river of fire below, compliments of karma.

 

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That something is dreadfully wrong with our law enforcement system would be evident to any unbiased observer. Whether it’s sufficient to be just an observer begs the question.

Well known, is that an interested, informed, active citizenry is not only vital to the government that we want, but its efficiency and values be in harmony with the whole society as well.

It seems that we, citizens and taxpayers, to whom all institutions are rightfully accountable, have neglected our own duty for so long that practices inimical to our safety and basic human rights have become acceptable to most. So little is demanded that we have new developing norms. We are failing our leaders at all levels and surprised that we are at each other’s throats constantly on trivial matters of the day.

Our leaders are failing us in that they now seem entitled by birthright to the offices they hold; they deliberate insignificant matters tailored to their longevity in office. Matters of public business that need to be explained, have become opportunities for a gaggle standing rigidly behind an official who may or may not answer pertinent questions. Lucky if you are not insulted in the process…..or maybe you get a spokesperson whose craft is evasion. Written complaints or queries by individual taxpayers get to the waste basket faster that Lebron James can dunk. In other words, public servants have developed an impenetrable wall around their fiefdom. Our citizens make pleas before panels of officials who are present in body only. The policy decision long since made.

Pity us the ever narrowing choice of candidates; visual media that have devolved to clowns 24/7; strident antagonists propagating the same issues of 300 years. I despair that we might have already been bought, sold or traded. All is well as long as it’s the “other guy, the other neighbourhood” that is excluded and suffers.

I refer to law enforcement in the broadest sense, including overlapping governmental agencies that together are the foundation of our culture. Also, they are the most visible and likely to have greater consequential contact, directly affecting citizens.

My challenge it is, to continue this article without appearing to be unappreciative of the dangerous work officers engage in daily; proudly self-sacrificing. They too would like to get home to their families after a night’s work, just like the rest of us. This about delivering the finest quality services to even the least regarded in our society, for they too, are our citizens.

Too many Americans do not become fierce in defence of the Articles of the Constitution except the Second Amendment contained in the Bill of Rights. The truth is that law enforcement’s degree of respect for and adherence to the Constitution seems synchronised with the citizens’ zip codes-conspicuous wealth spectrum. All at the lower end of income spread are treated as less-than. Females fare the worst.

From my own experiences the cardinal sin could be as small as asking the reason one is stopped. How dare you? Once an officer approached me for a traffic sign violation. He was so hostile that our positions were reversed in terms of de-escalation techniques. I wisely maintained a lower tone; slow, deliberate motions and spoke only when asked. His stance and other body language led me to have reasonable consternation of being shot for a $35.00 incident. Probably would not even have made the news because we were both black. Also sickening is that unless the Department of Justice gets involved the shooting, no the murder, would have been found justified by local authorities, if at all anything more that a nominal inquiry is done. The tired explanation of “he tried to run me over with his vehicle” would suffice. But who cares? Not even the citizens least protected.

What decent people owning the responsibility of citizenship, would laze as civil authorities become increasingly militarised, hooded, unaccountable, violate the Fourth Amendment as casually as entering a chicken coop. Do unnecessary damage and violence in the suspects’ homes in a so-called war on drugs. All searches and seizures have become lawful as Attorneys General, Judges and Attorneys of the Bar fail us.

Some sip the appropriate wine, unconcerned that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other major Amendments under Article Fifteen of the United States Constitution are whittled away by the shortsighted and ethically insolvent elected officials. Some for AND against legislation they never even read. They sip, mistakenly thinking that all is well, as long as the “other party” suffers. All done at taxpayers expense. No complaints.

What vibrant electorate would be comfortable with two millions of its citizens in prison? Most for non-violent crimes. Many innocent, having had the misfortune of an unconscionable plea bargain.

What free society permits forgiveness for debt, protect corporate bankruptcy while convicted felons, having paid for their crimes remain forever unforgiven, are denied work and robbed of their right to vote….just because?

You know, perhaps we don’t wish to be decent or free.

That’s Choice

No disagreement with your view and anger, maybe. There is a tremendous canyon between what we would like things to be and what they in fact are. Generations came and went, waiting for change. It is quite likely to get worse.
We change the world by changing ourselves first. That is win win for all and immense agency for you.
Any decent, civilised country has a duty to its citizens. ALL of its citizens. Few attain that and both you and I will be long gone before that ideal is realised.
America made some decisions in the not too distant past, not to educate all citizens. Some of it was codified and some by sheer thuggery. Africans got the worst of it but we were not the only ones devalued and slaughtered. Some grow old and die without knowing of their own defilement, sometimes even a party to it.
It is your responsibility to seek, understand and act OR continue your line of thought. That’s choice.