Mind My OWN Business

“I don’t know how people get so anti-something. Mind your own business. Take care of your own affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.”

Betty White

It is only within the last three or four years I have actually been minding my OWN business more consistently. My minding other people’s business showed up as worry about others when I could not do anything about them, or their situation, or what happened to them in the past. I have always cared about others. In fact, I was too “other” focused most of the time. At times, I was clueless about what I felt or needed.

I have married people and had partners in business where I supported their dreams, and put my own dreams on the back burner. This level of naivete used to be detrimental for me in my own life. I DO NOT recommend it. When others acted unkindly towards me, or spoke unkindly, I could NOT respond. I was, too stunned. I have joked that if I were to write an autobiography it would have been called “Deer in Headlights”. I dismissed myself consistently. I believed in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a great way to live, but I did not know how to discern which people were the loving and kind people to be around. In other words, I made some poor choices of partners and people in my life. I was minding other’s business instead of my own.

The good news is I survived it all and am now minding my own business more and learning about what I feel and don’t go to denial as long as I used to when something painful surfaces in my life. Truthfully, it takes me a bit of time to get to the core of the pain. Not fun, but it is freeing once I have released it. I am very grateful to be able to meditate and go to prayer. That is how I get to the nuggets that free me. Also outside help of friends, family, and a counselor help me over the hump of my difficulties. Once I resurface in humanity, I find I am more open and kinder to everyone I meet. Even on a rainy day I find that faint rainbow way across the valley where I live. I get my smile back with no effort required. And I find I have to pray a lot about the pain and meanness I see out in the world because I alone can NOT fix it.

I wonder about why so many people feel they have been given license to be mean today. Then I think back and remember when I used to be an angrier person. I had resentments I kept to myself because way down in my subconscious I did NOT like some of the choices I was making, but I did NOT want to admit to them. Those choices did not make me feel good about myself. I was not always kind to my partners because of the resentments I was hiding. Is this one of the sources where all this MEANNESS is coming from for others today?

Would we have a different world if all of us minded our own business and lives? If all of us looked into our own hearts and past which made us feel resentful and uncovered our own pain and lived our own lives, what would that world look like?

In the USA we can state our own opinions about whatever we believe, although, appropriately, “hate” speech is illegal, but when we enact laws to stop others from living their lives, loving who they love, or being who they are, I think we have gone too far. We are messing with other people’s lives. Then we are not protecting all of humanity. Then we are not working with or respecting all people. Then we have created an “US” vs “THEM” way of living together, which is NEVER harmonious or kind. These kinds of feeling are the sources for all wars, hatred, and division. This is is the worst kind of minding other people’s business.

I will just keep chugging along and do my best to mind my OWN business, and now I temper my own behavior with making more suggestions, and offering help to family, friends, and people I meet when they ASK me for it. I don’t assume it is OK to butt in. By making this change in MY behavior, I have become more thankful and present in my OWN life, knowing that my source has given me an opportunity to live my life fully and joyously, and I will not squander the gift of my life and being a part of this beautiful world.

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I Love Immigrants III

This blog is in support for the immigrants who are from Afghanistan and Iraq who have been promised visas to come the the USA because they were people who were interpreters and translators for our American troops and the previous American Secretary of State and other important officials during our now last 15 years of war. These are people who risked their lives to help our troops and were absolutely essential to saving the lives of many of our US soldiers. Because the US State Department and present Administration is so adverse to letting new immigrants in, some of these translators who helped OUR troops, are being murdered (including their families) while they are waiting on visas to the USA which were promised to them for their service to US war effort and our soldiers.

Thurs. March 16, 2017, President Trump asked for a large increase of the federal budget for the US military. Without keeping our word to the people who have already helped American Soldiers in far reaches of the world, this president is showing the world that we are a nation which CANNOT be TRUSTED. Therefore, the president is putting the future US soldiers and military he wants to expand in great danger because of ignoring the promises the USA already made to people who helped our military and risked their lives for us in the past. Throwing money at the problem is NOT enough. And one of his claims is to protect our US soldiers. OH REALLY? Those are just vacant words and false promises.

Who will stand with us in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries to translate for our troops in the future as we try to defeat ISIS? One thing many Americans do NOT understand is that the world looks at us. We may not know about their culture or people, but they know a lot about ours. We are the big dudes on this planet, but we can NOT do the job without the people from the regions where we want to defeat ISIS.

To understand what is happening with these translators, particularly in Afghanistan, this story was on The World which is on PRI radio on March 14, 2017:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-03-15/visas-are-running-out-us-militarys-afghan-interpreters

The only thing that is even making it possible to even allow a few more translators to get the immigrant visas they deserve to get into the USA, is that the President’s ban of immigrants is being fought in courts in the states of Hawaii, Washington, California, New York and Oregon.

Still more than 10,000 of these interpreters who helped our county may be left out in the cold and not get the visas they deserve, and then more of them may be murdered by ISIS. How can the country that I love be so callous about people who helped US and saved our soldiers? This will certainly backfire, and we will lose more of our own US soldiers because of the choices of an ill-informed president who made a very destructive choice about Afghan and Iraqi people who helped us in the past. I hope the present Secretary of Defense Mattis will be able to get President Trump to see the fallacy in this thinking and that these immigrants who helped our US troops can NOT be dismissed because of some uninformed, misguided “campaign promise”.

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The REAL Voter Fraud Fraud

The above graphic that shows how you could divide 50 voters and how Gerrymandering works.

The real voter fraud in this country is not what it has been called. There may be a few people here and there, but it is NOTHING compared to the fraud perpetrated against people of color in conservative states that have done massive GERRYMANDERING to make sure many people do NOT get fair representation in the US House of Representatives, for sure. It is harder to mess with the US Senate representation. What is GERRYMANDERING? This is definition is from the Oxford Dictionary:

“To manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.”

“Word Origin:
It was early 19th century: from the name of Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts + salamander, from the supposed similarity between a salamander and the shape of a new voting district on a map drawn when he was in office (1812), the creation of which was felt to favor his party: the map (with claws, wings, and fangs added), was published in the Boston Weekly Messenger, with the title The Gerry-Mander.”

The claims of so called voter fraud by President Trump that have not ever been actually proven in ANY STATE, have set off a flurry of activity in many conservative state houses to make it harder for legitimate older, poorer voters to meet the requirements, so that they may become disenfranchised from being able to vote at all.

One state where I witnessed gerrymandering happening as a perfect example: the state of North Carolina. After the 2010 census, The Republicans in the state house in North Carolina ensured that Republicans took the state House, Senate, and Governorship in the year 2012 because they changed the boundaries in 2010 of the districts that normally voted for Democrats. (See the above graphic for how they did this.) This was ALSO done back in the times after the Civil War (after 1865). It was called: “Negative racial gerrymandering” which refers to a process in which district lines are drawn to prevent racial minorities from electing their preferred candidates or political parties. Thus, the Democrats lost because the people in those districts lost their Democratic representation in their own state and in the US House of Representatives. This is the REAL VOTER FRAUD.

This is a map that shows how states in the USA redistrict after a census every 10 years. The state of North Carolina is one of the states where the state legislature does the redistricting. There are many other states that redistrict like North Carolina does. How many of those other states perpetrate voter fraud to get the party in that is the same as their own by gerrymandering when they redistrict, and in doing so screw over voters?

https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=Map+of+USA+about+redistricting&fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fdk-production%2Fimages%2F46621%2Flarge%2Fredistricting.jpg%3F1377795315#id=0&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fdk-production%2Fimages%2F46621%2Flarge%2Fredistricting.jpg%3F1377795315&action=click

Another way to make it harder for older, and poorer Americans to vote is the latest kind of voter blocking. On March 9, 2017, npr.org did a story about this on Morning Edition. The story is called “More States Propose Voter ID Laws”
http://www.npr.org/programs/morning-edition/

Another piece of this unfair, fraud-ladened pie that I am updating this blog with has to do with the high number of polling places that were closed in southern and Republican leaning states which make it harder for poorer and older Americans to get to. This was published before the 2016 election. The mean-spirited, obvious disenfranchising many people to make it difficult for them to vote is appalling. Here is that story.

https://latest.com/2016/11/more-than-800-polling-places-close-in-the-south-after-voting-rights-act-ruling/

Again how many people of color, older, and poorer Americans would these Voter ID laws affect whether many Americans can even vote or NOT? How many legitimate, legal Americans would be kept from voting because we make registration and voting so difficult? The irrational FEAR that a few people may be perpetrating fraud does not warrant these extreme measures. For this American, the fact that certain states want to make it harder for all legitimate voters to vote, is the REAL VOTER FRAUD FRAUD.

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Yes, FREEDOM of SPEECH and PRESS are for REAL in the USA

When I was 18 years old, I spent nearly a week in Communist Russia when it was the Soviet Union. What a scary place for an American girl from California. That summer I learned gratitude that I was an American and had a Constitution to protect my rights. While in the Soviet Union, I experienced a few incidents, of weird intimidation by the Communist powers that be. I was young woman on a tour with about 40 other students from around the USA, and this was one of the few tour groups that traveled into the Soviet Union back then.

First, we spent a few days in Moscow and then a few in Leningrad (now known as St. Petersburg). In Moscow the first night a police officer came by and asked me and three other tour members what we were doing- when were merely sitting on a park bench outside talking to each other on a summer evening. We told him “Nothing”. The tour members were from all over the USA. My roommate, M, for our stay in Moscow was from Alabama. I had never had friends from the South, so this was interesting to me to get to learn about people from different parts of the USA. The next evening, my roommate, M, and I visited another young woman, S, on the tour who was also from the South, from West Virginia. We just hung out in S’s room and talked for several hours. When we returned to our room, there was a passport photo of a mean looking Asian guy whom we had never seen before, with no passport and 100s of yen in a wallet. We did not know how it got in our locked room. That night we did NOT sleep well.

The next morning, we asked our tour guide to help us complain with the Inter-tourist agency that was located inside our hotel. The only thing they said to us was that the man who left the wallet and photos probably thought we looked cute. That did not calm my anxiety much. All I could figure out was that this was some kind of intimidation that was going on to keep all of us Americans in check. We were told by our American tour leaders to NOT sell our jeans, books, music, or give anything to Russian people because before we left Russia the police might stop us. That had happened to other American students with this same American tour group during previous years. We also knew we could not speak up much in Russia, so most of us observed and talked amongst ourselves. One older student knew some Russian and would sometimes translate for us. Our tour guide was a lovely Russian woman who was strictly business. I remember once I tried to photograph her. I only got a photo of the back of her head.

In Russia in the 1960s, we never saw children with their parents. When we visited all the sights, the children were always with their teachers or with the “Pioneers”, as they were called. The Communist state did a great job of indoctrinating children back then. I could feel the oppression of myself and the citizens of Moscow and St. Petersburg. It felt like a heavy winter coat on a hot, humid, sunny day. And, of course, freedom of speech and press were nonexistent. One of the fathers and great leaders of the Communist party in the Soviet Union was Joseph Stalin, who made sure that freedom of speech and press did NOT exist and controlled the press absolutely.

“Print is the sharpest and strongest weapon of our party.”
Joseph Stalin

Having had this experience before I went off to college framed my life in a picture of political activism. The Soviet Union in the mid 1960s showed me the importance of the USA’s first Ten Amendments to the Constitution- “The Bill of Rights”, of which Freedom of Speech and Press is the FIRST one.

In a Tweet on February 17 our new president heaped even more than just insults on our still FREE PRESS. This is the story about that event.

To have our President Donald J. Trump tweet:
it (the press) is the ENEMY of the AMERICAN PEOPLE”
This statement by a US president is unprecedented in our history.

This is a very ominous turn of events and reminds me of my short visit in Communist Russia, where the press was NOT FREE and controlled by the Communist leaders who followed Stalin. This is still true today in Russia under Putin. The press is no longer free as it was under former President Yeltsin in Russia. This is also true that the press is NOT free in most countries where they have autocratic leaders across the globe.

Former President George W. Bush, a Republican, on February 27 this year went on NBC “TODAY Show” and defended our FREE PRESS in the USA.

I feel deeply grateful to President George W. Bush that he stood up and spoke up for, not only himself, but for other Americans like myself who consider the First Amendment and our Free Press essential cornerstones of our freedom.

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Exceptional Leaders Who Changed My Life

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We but mirror the world. All the tendencies in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.
– Mohandas K. Gandhi

Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to meet and listen to the grandson of one of the people who has lived and made a huge difference in our world, M.K. Gandhi. Arun Gandhi was speaking in the town where I live. His message confirmed so much of what I believe: that we humans are one human family, personal peace and serenity come from how I choose to live and be responsible for my own life, the power of love for all people is essential for all people on this planet, how I can work with others, how greed and addiction to material stuff is diminishing the character and behavior of many of people, particularly our leaders on this planet. I was so thankful to Arun Gandhi that he visited our town, and I felt honored to be able to say to him face-to-face how much his grandpa was a hero of mine.

The words and writings of M. K. Gandhi, helped change the course of my life when I was in my thirties. I had been through a major life change and had bought and then read Gandhi’s autobiography. That book and and movie, Gandhi, showed me a very different way to see the world. I started working with a peace organization and felt at home. That organization, Beyond War, also spoke about how all humans are one. My daughter also participated in activities connected to Beyond War. This echoed Gandhi’s message of how ALL of us are one human family. This way of seeing the world went into my heart. This thinking probably also planted the seed in me to become an English-as-a-Second Language teacher. Again while I was teaching to people from around the world, I got that although we are different, we humans are all linked together in one human family. In my late forties, I bought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings and tapes of his speeches. King’s universal loving message again echoed what Gandhi had said during his lifetime. I discovered Dr. King long after he had died.

These two leaders were my role models and have helped me to become who I am today and have influenced what I think and feel about much of what I see in the world. I am deeply grateful to both M.K Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr for showing me a more loving way to be in the world. Unlike the fake heroes of movies, these were real men with their own human foibles. Their great thinking and way of being in the world outweighed whatever imperfections they may have had. That I came to know of them will be one of my life’s saving graces.

Therefore, meeting M.K. Gandhi’s grandson was like fulfilling a life dream. Arun Gandhi lived with his grandfather for more than one year when he was 12-years old. He is carrying his grandfather’s message out into the world. The photo I used in this blog is from the cover of his book, Legacy of Love.

At this time, Gandhi’s message of love, tolerance, oneness of humanity is needed in many countries, including the USA and even in India. Fear, division, and greed between people has been adopted in so many governments and businesses across the world, and what is needed is open-hearted and kind behavior. I am going to stand on the side of love and kindness. It was a huge gift that I got to be reminded of this message by Arun Gandhi.

This is a youtube video of Arun Gandhi speaking in Cleveland, OH from 2015. The introduction lasts for about two minutes.

I do not ever expect to become Mohandas K Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I can strive to live the principles that they showed in action to the world, and be the best me I can be.

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