Be Glad It Wasn’t YOUR Son . . .



Happy Hump Day, Yeah!!!

Why am I so happy today?!?  No special reason … just because I can!  Some folks might think I’m “goofy” with all this calm stuff, but that’s just fine with me!  A little “goof” goes a long way often … especially if people are feeling uptight … like myself, for instance!  I try to get a little “goofy” … jovial … if you will … just to change the mood … if only inside myself!  I am less likely to feed into the drama around me.
So real quick, some of you have hit me up … responded … and I like that and I thank you for reading.  Keep in mind, as I want each and every one of you to know this comes from my heart … yep, I still have one … that if you don’t want to receive these e-mails, shoot me an e-mail saying so … I will oblige.  I have met many of you in some of the “darnest”, yet simple, cool and good, places!
Here’s a moment of silence where I am sending good  vibrations to a friend’s mother … Rebecca is the friend.  Her mother has been a bit ill and she flew in from England to be closer and help make some pivotal decisions.  So, hopefully, Rebecca, you have a moment to read this … Maybe let your mother know some stranger “loves” her, too!  As well, at this moment, I would also like to send some healing vibrations to another good friend’s mother … Ken Chiarito.  Ken is flying into the FTL this weekend as his mother lives in Sunrise and his sister in Davie, FL.  They too have to make some pivotal decisions it seems … at least to love thy mother!
There’s been a lot going on for us “humans” to deal with in the US of A, right?!!!  Land of the free … home of the brave????!  I think we’ve evolved past the stage where good human values held an important place in our lives … hard work, honesty and community.   We’ve entered the world of “cut corners” and get somebody else to do your work, be honest if you have to and someone’s gonna find out … you know what I’m talking about!!!  Here’s the last one … not community … but every “creature” for himself …. when you can get away with it!!!  What kind of world would we have if we ALL honored integrity instead, and our society was based on values surrounding integrity and our leaders were those who demonstrated and embraced integrity in their “day to day” affairs in governing!  Utopia … I know.  It is hard for me not to mention the folks in Baltimore and the events surrounding the death and funeral of Freddy Gray … peace be still!!!  Even his mother is crying out for “folks” to be peaceful and not riot and destroy businesses … even a senior citizen home was set on fire!!  Some purported gang members assisted in cleaning up and getting “rioters” off of the street!
Of course, there are those … and I can understand, not agree with, but understand … who have taken this opportunity to vent on the society … the same society that has impoverished “them” and caused them to be without the basic necessities through the vicious gears of capitalism (and racism) at the core of our society, not to mention the inequities found in so many of our society’s institutions!!  It is very difficult to do, as so many parents and siblings … wives and children of the many African American men of recent events over the past 5 years more or less discovered.  Sometimes, when I look at how people behave in “modern society” and the 21st Century, I see that those are mere words attempting to elevate a somewhat sour and near masochistic society, again … at the core.  There are those of us who reap the benefits of our own hard work and perhaps even our parents who “learned the ropes” of how to get ahead in our society and become a member of the international community while being from the United States of America!  The American Dream … that is so far away from some of the sisters and brothers in our inner cities like Baltimore … also designed by our society.
Okay, I just want to mention that one of the readers and a friend of mine whom I met some years ago, Nicole Valencia, has given me and EE an opportunity to do a two hour presentation with a group of youth that she works with at the Broward Sheriff’s Office.  I believe that the kids are involved in a crime prevention program and Ms. Valencia is one of the people from  BSO and the Juvenile Justice Department working with them. The date has been firmed up as well as the time and location in Fort Lauderdale to work with these youth and Ms. Valencia … imagine … and a Broward Sheriff’s Office program!  Thanks again, Nicole Valencia!  “Good looking out!”  She had let me know a few months ago by e-mail and I simply had to take care of a few things and get moved and settled and stuff!

For all the folks who have negative things to say and choose to ignore the truth that there needs to be more accountability, intensive training for police officers and higher standards in hiring law enforcement officials, too … just be glad it wasn’t your son!!!  Needless to say, those who violate the laws, officers or not, need to be punished like any other citizen so that they themselves don’t deem themselves above the law … because we allow them to!

Enjoy your day … hold oneself accountable for one’s behavior.  Namaste

John I. Cook, Director

You Are What Your CREATOR Says You Are!



Happy Monday, All!

Yeah, we can complain … we can moan and gripe, but I can tell you, if someone … your Creator to be exact, told you that this was you LAST DAY on Earth … what would you say?!?  “Oh Creator, couldn’t you make it another day?!?  I don’t like Mondays much!!!”  I don’t think so, so … get up and go!
First of all, I want to thank each of you for your continued readership.  Now, I know that some of y’all might not agree with some of the things I write!  That’s okay, I think … I’m not preaching anarchy!  Yet, I understand that people don’t always see things the same way.  Most of the time, the way “each of us” sees things is based upon our OWN experiences … not someone else’s … and definitely not mine!  So, that’s cool.  The only thing I ask, and we can do this by writing back and forth, is don’t put “words in my mouth”, if you will.  I know what I am trying to say, and if you don’t agree, that’s okay.  But please don’t misrepresent my “words” or ideas to fit YOUR needs … I have my own needs … simply being understood … if possible!  Sometimes, I make mistakes, misrepresent … better said … forget some of the facts.  Feel free to point those kind of things out to me, since I don’t claim to be perfect!!  For example, in Friday’s e-mail/blog, I was heralding Loretta Lynch as the first female attorney general … A reader and former college chum, Lloyd Lawrence, Esq., sent me a correction, which I appreciate, about Janet Reno being the first female attorney general!!  I should’ve remembered that since the big event during her time as attorney general was the Elian Gonzalez “fiasco” when Elian’s father and politicians wanted him back in Cuba since he had been “given” to family members after his mother drowned trying to get him here safely.  Janet Reno spear-headed the timely return of Elian to Cuba from his relatives right here in Miami, FL.  Thanks Lloyd!
Tough title today, heh?!?  How many of us either were told that we weren’t going to amount to anything … Or knows someone who was told that … and perhaps they happened to overcome their “challenges” … or not!?  You know, we can wonder why someone would say that or maybe we don’t know all of the facts!  If it is a family squabble or something similar where the two people know each other very well, probably have had multiple “run-ins”, we can better understand someone saying that.  What I’m talking about here is like a teacher or guidance counselor at school, maybe even an angry parent or sibling or a boss at the job!  The point is basically, different situations motivate people differently!!  If you know a student responds better to a challenge in the form of “setting the bar” high and suggesting that the student will have to work hard to achieve those “heights”, then use it.  But don’t … DO NOT … tell someone that they are nothing or will never amount to anything out of ones OWN personal anger … even if at that person!   Now, I also know that a lot of people – haven’t counted them up, just seen and heard them – L.O.V.E. “drama” … arguing, cursing and yelling … just being un-classy and behaving rather poorly and out of control.  But that is a poor excuse to me.  “Oh! I  just thrive off of the energy the drama creates!” one person might say.  Those kind of folks can “have” each other … like crabs in a barrel keeping each other “down”, so to speak.
So, develop some positive self-talk for yourself.  Have a dialogue with your Creator in the form of prayer.  Listen to that quiet voice inside of you in the form of meditation.  Be able to tune out the naysayers, haters and generally negative people and their comments designed to hurt you and hamper your belief in yourself … and your progress.  You don’t need that!  And, I am certainly NOT interested in any of that nonsense either!  You are … what you say you are.  If  you have doubts, talk to YOUR Creator … quietly listen.

John I. Cook, Director

Is Our Society SICK?!?

sick society


Happy Friday, All!

Yes, yes, y’all!  This week wasn’t too bad … for me anyway!  T.G.I.F.!!
Yesterday was my buddy Peter Andrew Zachary’s birthday … I just had a feeling it was coming, so … I sent his sister, Andrea Lennon, who lives in Florida, as well as his mom and baby sister Lisa, a text asking her what date was “Petey’s” birthday.  She replied, “It’s today!”  Wishing you a happy birthday, “Petey”, and hope the heavens are treating you well!
So, have you folks seen enough “stuff” on the news these past two years?!?  Gun violence is probably at an all time high, and the multiple deaths of unarmed African American men by police officers has caught international attention.  Between the gun issues, the racial profiling and the poor training (as evidenced by numerous training records from police departments nationwide) of officers toting guns and walking through our nation’s streets, the videotaped violence gives me a feeling of hopelessness sometimes.  As one group supporting the movement called “Black Lives Matter” said: “We know that there are good officers out there.  We don’t have any complaints about them.  It is that the system of policing in this country is ailing and needs to be changed.  It is the whole system that these officers are a part of that is the problem.”  In my opinion, the police have too much power bestowed upon them that they do NOT know how to use.  What it comes down to is that each individual law enforcement officer has to make the right decision, especially when it comes to the use of a firearm … taser, too … and their knees, feet and fists!
Once again, with POTUS Obama, we have made history … like it or not … with the first woman as the national head of law enforcement in the USA who just happens to be a woman of color … African American to be exact!!  Kudos Loretta Lynch … and a shout out to Congress … in particular The Senate … for finally allowing her to hold office.  Sister Lynch was like a modern day “Rosa Parks” for many many months as she sat on the “back of the bus” of senatorial issues and bargaining table.  So back to the title of this e-mail … “Is our society sick?!?”  Be honest … yes or no.  If yes, you gotta do something … something … not just sit back and talk about it.  King and Gandhi told us … showed us … that we cannot sit idly by when we see and witness … and experience injustice.  They told us to protest and change it peacefully.  The Brown family in Ferguson is suing the City … peacefully.  We can’t just sit back and let things take place.  The Trayvon Martin Foundation seems to be doing well, spreading the word and helping those families who lost children to gun violence … period.
Earth Day just passed and I am almost afraid to ask some scientist about the state of our planet Earth …  Don’t just live each day accepting the absurd, the unjust and the dishonest.  For once you do that, you are betraying most of all yourself … not to mention your Creator!  See what you can do.

John I. Cook, Director

Showing Some Love … and Gratitude!

Francis Bacon

Happy Hump Day …

Yep, I am going for it again!!!  “That’s how we do it!!!”  No desperation and no giving up around here!
So, so many distractions can take us away from focusing on NOT giving up … have you noticed that at all … or not?  You know, when it comes down to it, the truth is each of us is only able to control ourselves … if we spend enough time with OURSELVES … each of us.  You know, I mean, why should one person even be “controlling” another person … unless that person “needs” someone to control them due to a mental challenge or imbalance?!?  Okay, so I’m going “out there” for a moment as we used to call what is now known as “outside the box”!!  Anybody remember that term … “Hey Man …. I am OUT there!” we used to say in our finest moments when we found ourSELVES in that “zone” that made us just smile … and smile … and smile.  I was a “hippy” …
Okay, so I am about to go “out there” again.  Those of you who know me well will know the difference between what I was just describing … that “smiling feeling” inside … almost … maybe it is … perhaps it was … gratitude.  I know that’s what it is today … gratitude.  So let me start first by thanking each of you for hanging around this long.  You know, some folks write me back … some hit me up from time to time … Others just get mad and stop contacting me … for whatever reason.  All I know is that I have enough to deal with keeping myself “on point” … whether you agree or not … so that I can be “the best that I can be!”  Many of you have helped me with that “challenge”, too … ’cause it ain’t easy!!  Sometimes I feel like I want to “lose it”, too!  Then make a bunch of excuses and absurd explanations for my behavior!!  But … I thank my Creator … and my parents whom he sent to get me started on this journey and give me the tools to “figure this stuff out”!  Has anyone reading figured “this” out yet?  This journey … Your journey ….  Sometimes, I chuckle to myself … thinking … just when I thought I have “figured” something out, here comes some “new stuff”!!  Kind of like that “thing” or “situation” you didn’t expect … and it doesn’t make you feel too good about things … yourself even.  Not for me.  Anytime I feel that way, I remove myself from whatever stimulus is causing me to feel that way about me … the one I’ve learned to love the MOST in this world …
I enjoy the feeling of peace … of love … harmony even!  Now, remember … I’ve been around some of “the best” … are you all ready for this …. okay … “From the Projects to Princeton”!  And I ain’t hanging my head down, my people!!  So, don’t forget either, I am trying to tell you all that the gratitude I have for each of you touching my life in your own unique way makes me feel some “kind of special”!!


John I. Cook, Director

Going With The Flow . . . Again!

flow on

And Monday is here again … a new week, a new opportunity to enhance ones outlook on life.  I don’t know about some of you, but I am off to work!  Just glad that I can still get a job … work … and think the things I like!  Those of you who  know me also know that even though I just turned 60, I am not ready to live in a retirement community … I thought about it … but when faced with the high and increasing cost of staying in a 1 bedroom apartment as a single man, I decided to “downsize” to a studio apartment.  I just don’t like struggling every month trying to juggle things … “things” … all legal … to come up with the cash I needed to live every month.

I wanted to say to many of you who donated to Educational Excellence that you actually helped me keep the internet with Comcast totaling like $125 each month with basic cable on many a month!!  Things have been tight since I got the Jeep Compass, which I needed after my motorcycle accident, and incurred a monthly car payment and insurance.  So the juggling began.  Of course, I would never sell my car so I can live in an expensive situation … I decided to downsize my living situation, cut costs, and still seek to build Educational Excellence, keep working writing these e-mails and blog posts and hopefully, get in a situation where I can contact some of the “Big Boys” in South Florida like Alonzo Mourning and his Foundation in Liberty City … Or, DJ Irie (Miami HEAT) who also has a foundation to help troubled kids and keep them in touch with good role models and activities to foster good life skills and values.  Maybe I can get in touch with The Trayvon Martin Foundation.  I have one contact with BSO (Broward Sheriff’s Office) who sent me a correspondence regarding speaking and working with a program that they have established.  We’ll see.  Going with the flow … is what I know!!
Since I have become more aware of my journey and myself …. which I share with each of you in hopes that I may inspire you … with humanity … with peace … with power and high self-esteem and love.  We all go through the same things on different levels, it’s just how “you” choose to “play the game”.  You see … for me … this is my life … and sometimes I don’t want to “play the game” so I can have more “whatever” to impress people and seem “larger than life”.  So why play someone else’s game and let “them” take charge of my emotions … my peace,  my love … perhaps causing me to hurt someone else … even myself … trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” and stressing myself out to no end … deceiving my own family and loved ones … and take the chance of losing MY freedom … again ?!?  Awww, hell no!!  Yeah, I am approaching retirement age but still enjoy living life to the fullest … going to the gym, lifting weights coupled with yoga practice, swimming with relaxation, and health relief in the jacuzzi … at the local gym.  I try to keep it simple though some folks don’t get that.  They need “drama”, conflict and control over folks, which for them is “power” … Not for me … I choose to have control over mySELF when I meet people like the aforementioned!!  I have been fortunate, because when the change came up, even my landlord worked with me … gave me some time, a lot of help … and I moved on it.  I was going with “the flow”, as I have learned to do.
So, this is just how I am choosing to handle things … just for today …  How about you?  Enjoy your week.
John I. Cook, Director

Who Do You Trust??



Happy Friday, All!

Here’s to hoping you all have had a good week.  You may remember my previous message on Wednesday in which I emphasized believing in yourself.  You know that we are all human … even cops and fireman and teachers … as well as politicians, lawyers and businesspersons … even those who work for the government, including administrators in “City Halls”  across the nation.  Oh, did I forget to mention “churches” and their officials, representatives … even pastors, ministers … who knows, maybe even bishops and nuns!!  It is just that “we” each bring ourselves to whatever position we occupy in “society”, and often abuse the power “we’ve” inherited … power and privilege that comes with the job … and we violate that and abuse that, too.  Some of us go as far as to say, “I’m sorry ….” while others try to deny that they have “done anything wrong”.  I remember … yes again … Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel.  There were times when I thought it was all too good to be true.  I don’t hold it against him … I hope he’s getting along alright.
Have you ever noticed how people scramble when they do something wrong?!?  You have noticed also I am sure that the more power that they had, the more people of power who were in their “networks” … the more “wiggle room” they had!!!  Look at George Zimmerman … he fooled a lot of people, maybe just those who had and have similar mindsets as he.  After the trial … and he was set free by a misled jury … after killing an unarmed person whom he stalked, picked a fight with and waited for the opportunity to surprise with his gun … he has been stopped and charged with and accused of doing similarly “dumb stuff” … against women especially.  He didn’t fool me … he didn’t fool a lot of people … He only fooled the “fools” … that’s what they were already.  Just saying …
We have already seen how in many cases with brutal and violent law enforcement techniques, the officers were not held accountable for their behavior … like in Ferguson and Brooklyn.  This particular tactic of getting a person on the ground, and placing ones’ knee on the person’s head … usually the side … is absolute brutality.  We watch it on television and videotapes and tell ourselves what the perpetrators want us to say, “He deserves this type of treatment … he’s a criminal!”  No, not true!  The persons engaging in these types of inhumane and barbaric tactics on the people they are supposed to “protect and serve” should allow them due process of a trial, if necessary, not kill them.  Now, this situation going down in Oklahoma with an “auxiliary police officer” or volunteer given permission to carry (and USE!) a firearm and taser has “pulled the covers off” of how things really go down in “City Halls”.  The officer, Mr. Bates, is a retired and wealthy businessman.  He had never trained to carry a gun, as it was discovered by two of the “Tulsa World” publication’s journalists,  nor had he had the proper training to get involved in “official police work”, as he was permitted when he shot and killed Mr. Harris.
The two journalists, Ziva Ranstetter and Dylan Goforth, uncovered the TRUTH!!  The handgun certifications for Mr. Bates DON’T EXIST!!!  He has never … NEVER been properly trained to use that Glock he carried when he shot and killed an unarmed man.  The “officers” tackled him “gang land style”, held him down … one put his knee on this man’s head to make him lose consciousness … while one of them … Mr. Bates … is permitted to shoot him.  Again, there was NO first aid given after the man tells them, “He shot me!  He shot me!”  Mr. Bates says, “I shot him.  I am sorry!”  and they all kept this man on the ground … until he died …  Ranstetter and Goforth also discovered that several employees in City Hall were asked to falsify documentation for Mr. Bates.  They refused … they were disciplined … and they were transferred …. because they would NOT falsify paperwork for Mr. Bates!!!!  Alright, how many times have you heard people lie to themselves and say, like the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, “This is isolated!  This is not typical behavior of most law enforcement officers!”  How many of  these instances does it take to convince folks that these officers are “regular” people like us that we’ve pumped up to “God status” and can’t find any fault in what they do because it was “us” er … uh …. “them” who pumped them up in the first place!!!  How can we possibly be wrong about the people we’ve given “near God status” to???  Now that’s a hard pill to swallow … that “wrong” thing … hard pill to swallow!!
Who do you trust?  Do you trust people and agencies that lie and cover things up???  Why do you trust those people without questioning their semi-barbaric behavior????  Check yourself.  Look at what’s really taking place … right before YOUR EYES!!!  Tell yourself the TRUTH.  Don’t bury your head in the sand!!!  Things need to change … NOW!!!  Wrong is wrong … don’t try to “right” it … Sorry doesn’t bring a life back … a mother’s son … a child’s father … is gone forever.  When you are faced with the opportunity, I know it might be hard for some of “us”, but take the right stand … Murder is murder!!!  Everybody’s life matters!!
John I. Cook, Director

“You Gotta Believe!”


Happy Hump Day, Folks!

“It’s that time again!”  This is one of my favorite calls to spiritual battle when things look like “they” are taking a turn for the worse.  We often hear “religious people” talk about faith in “their savior” … be it Allah, Jesus, Buddha … you all can name the rest.  I am not trying to bring negative attention here, I am actually suggesting that there must be some “connectivity” between them all because the cores of most “religions”, so to speak, are aimed at preserving humankind … not destroying it.  Perhaps, some of those awkward manuscripts attempt to touch on ways of improving human behavior and communication amongst us!  Am I being optimistic again?!!!
Yes, a truckload of challenges have come my way … and I am sure there are more to come!  So, what do I do?!  How do I handle it .. er .. uh … them!!???  With grace and respect as well as the anticipation that I will learn yet something more about this journey called “life” and how it changes and unfolds in a moments notice!!  Yes, I think it was this past Sunday when I heard one of the televangelist if not two of them “chime” in on the same message:  “Our Creator allows us to be in certain circumstances and allows us to have some challenging situations to help hone us in our inner strength … to believe in ourselves!”  These challenges are placed there so that we may learn something, even if it seems like “the valley of the shadows” ….  I can still hear Dr. King singing in the background!
Spiritual exercise and conditioning is a lot like discipline in say … the martial arts.  For me, it is learning to respect those things that we may NOT have invited into our lives and consider them opportunities for growth rather than foes that we need to destroy.  There is a fundamental difference in that mindset as the one often “required” to succeed in the social organization we have in place in the Western world today.  In the “spiritual” mindset, one takes every event, be it “good” or “bad”, as an opportunity for growth and deeper understanding.  One may even have to sit quiet a few hours … and meditate … really meditate with acceptance in ones heart.  One has to believe in the process … like we believe in all of the “human made” processes like … waiting on line at the DMV …. or the Dollar Tree on a holiday!!!  Look around, watch folks … we have no patience!!  I’ve caught myself multiple times, in particular when I am doing computer related stuff, becoming anxious that the “screen” didn’t change fast enough!!!  Those who have not developed any patience or self control … discipline even … are the ones who take guns or words and concepts and try to hurt, if not destroy, “others” whom they personally did NOT create.  These are the ones who “make the news” every day …
So, as you meander through this Wednesday, choose your battles wisely … some are NOT yours!  Yet, never forget that “You gotta believe!”


John I. Cook, Director


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