“Just In Case You Were Wondering . . .”

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It’s Hump Day … middle of the week again!

How are you holding up?!  The world is swirling with an intriguing air of change …  One group of Cubans who live in this country are celebrating the “death of a dictator” – Fidel Castro – while other Cubans in Cuba show a sense of sadness as they participate in a “mandated 9 days of mourning” there in Havana … for the death of the same man – Fidel Castro.  While Castro’s 83 year old sister, Juanita, says she doesn’t celebrate the death of “anyone”, she has always been in opposition to her “older brother” – Fidel Castro.  In fact she says that she wished her brothers, Raul and Fidel, would ” …. open the doors of the Cuban country, giving women and dissidents equal rights and an equal voice with a more democratic government …”.

Meanwhile, back in the US of A, a new “chain letter of hate” has been being distributed in various Muslim communities and mosques across this country, a most notable one arriving here in South Florida.  The letter basically speaks to the author(s) belief that Muslim people are “demons” and their mothers are “whores and prostitutes” and suggesting that they leave the country now since “they” – the supporters of this anti-Muslim attitude – are following the lead of president elect, Donald Trump!  The interesting phenomena is that the Muslim gentleman who received and read the letter sent to a prominent mosque in Miami is a veteran of the United States Army.  He stated, “To think that I defended idiots like this so that they could practice so-called freedom of speech!”  The attack on the campus of Ohio State by a purported Muslim student whom ISIS is claiming is one of “their brothers” has added an additional spin to the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in this country!  “Land of the free … home of the brave …” …. “with freedom and justice for ALL!”  Hmmpppfff …

Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish a friend whom I have never met personally, (almost did at the 40th Reunion of the Class of ’76 of Princeton University!), Dr. Karen Hurley most recently teaching psychiatry and treating clients in New York City who have had challenges related to cancer, a grand new beginning at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH.  Karen is also a huge fan of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavalier’s NBA team … How cool is that?!?  Karen has become a “cyber space” friend who has shown support of my writing and even given assignments to some of her students surrounding the “Black Lives Matter” movement … Karen is not “black” but can clearly see the inconsistencies in the treatment of African Americans who have become entangled in the criminal justice system of this country …  Thank you Dr. Hurley, and I am wishing you continued success!  Namaste

Many of you know that I offer to remove “you” from my list of readers if you feel that I am “too far off base” for you!  I am offering again.  Occasionally, I remove folks who ask to be removed for whatever reason(s) … I don’t ask.  Less often, I remove people from the reading list that don’t seem to have “basic knowledge” of me and what I am trying to do.  They may reply to me in a most ignorant and hostile attack mode to my writings.  I always ask them to post something … their thoughts about my thoughts … on my blog page as they attempt to insult and attack me for my beliefs and my words, which they OFTEN don’t even understand … so that some of you and others who read the blog may respond to “his” stupidity … yep, I said it … and I am still not judging … just describing a person’s tendency in replies to some of my posts.  I don’t need anyone else’s ignorance and hostility directed at me when they don’t have the courage to post their thoughts so some of my readers, supporters and admirers can put this person “in his place”, as we both know would happen.  So, after repeated requests to post something public and the reader’s refusal to do so, I remove them!  Put simply, let me know if you would like to be removed.

In closing, I merely suggest that we keep an open mind on things but don’t let “ignorance” … “selective ignorance” … become a way of life for you!  Try to keep peace in your thoughts and actions and embrace the diversity of humanity!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director
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Families, Friends and Thanksgiving

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Happy Hump Day … and … Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, after fall sets in and the trees lose leaves and the temperatures drop, we have entered the core of the “holy days”, if you will.  Thanksgiving followed by Christmas … even … then New Year’s.  So, it is a time for families to try to renew their bonds, try to come together under the same roof and living room and dining room and give thanks for having the opportunity to enjoy such a Thanksgiving Feast!  That is the standard … that is the norm … as we see on many television commercials for Publix Supermarkets!  Most are done in good taste … no pun intended!  Others rely on presents of turkeys and fixin’s to adorn their otherwise “humble homes” at Thanksgiving!

Well, I just wanted to say that if I have offended any of the readers of my e-mails and blog posts where I showed little appreciation for the “president elect” Trump, it is not designed to challenge our friendships.  I can tell you that some friends of mine, even former students, are Trump supporters!  If you are a Trump supporter, hopefully, we can still be friends.  Just yesterday, I walked into an Office Depot and a long time Latina friend of mine from New York who usually helps me with copies of documents surprised me with her support of Trump.  I was just telling her that I was planning on traveling abroad during my retirement … especially since Trump won the election.  She asked me if I would give him a chance and I told her “yes”, but I don’t trust his judgement when it comes to ethnic minorities in this country, nor his judgement when it comes to “women”.  She switched gears on me and said, “Those people that keep saying that Trump is not their president better stop and realize that he IS their president!”  I was shocked … because here is not only a woman .. but a Hispanic woman … from New York.  Trump blatantly discriminated against ethnic minorities in New York City where he started his real estate ventures some years ago.  Now, it is okay if you want to support someone like that, though I don’t agree!  Now … let’s be clear … no one has to agree with ME in order for me to wake up in the morning and still be the most tenacious,  peaceful and humble warrior you’ve ever met!  As we used to say back in the day, “Don’t sleep on me!” … translation: “Don’t think that I am stupid because I am peaceful!”

So, don’t let your political differences ruin your Thanksgiving Celebrations nor create conflict amongst friends and family members!  Just remember that if the chips are down, not one president nor senator will come to your aid … just saying.  Perhaps, you can count more on a family member or friend to assist you in an emergency or time of need.  I’ve heard a new term this year … “Friends-giving” … which I believe is today or the night before Thanksgiving when friends get together to enjoy the start of the four-day weekend.  I have many friends … occasionally one or two who like to take pot shots at my education and what they “think” I know … light weight “chumps” … and we don’t always agree.  I have grown to understand that people don’t always have to agree with each other in order to be friends.  While I don’t take too kindly to people who attack my thoughts, I can still tolerate them and usually treat them like psychiatric patients or “children” in some instances, though they may have the age of an adult!!  So, in the event that someone … friend or family member seeks to turn your Thanksgiving festivities into more political aftermath … don’t play into it … treat them like a patient and try to change the subject, if possible.

While the history of Thanksgiving is not something that many people believe is a real “holy day”, take the time to enjoy both friends and family!

Peace,

 

John I. Cook, Director

“This Too Shall Pass . . .” – Loosen up!

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Happy Friday, All …

It’s been one of those weeks for me … everyone in the office where I work is sick.  I don’t want to … can’t get sick nor miss days from work because we don’t get sick days … ever!!  So, I am one of the few folks in the office who is NOT sick … thank you God …

The world is in upheaval and transition and there’s not much any one can do.  Now, groups can effect change, and groups are made up of individuals …  So, as a united effort, people can change the world!  Often, I find myself reflecting on my earlier years, remembering things and people that are important to me … and who give me life!  I have adopted a “way of thinking about me and my life” that is based on my experiences, knowledge, challenges and successes.  Each of us is different, some of our journeys are similar.  Yet, there are a variety of realities in our world today … choose wisely … and for me, comfortably.  One has to deal with their own pride and their egos, their humility and self esteem.  Our world has people in it who have different perceptions, depending on what they believe in!  This is the challenge when one encounters another person who has experienced different things from another person and, in turn, may have developed a different set of values and priorities.  For example, you have Trumps in the world as well as Obamas.  There are teachers and there are students.  I find it rather fulfilling when I can figure my way out of a challenging situation to which I may have well contributed.  Some people like to enjoy life while others feel better creating discord and confusion in their midst … and anywhere else they can.  There are folks who seek to get along with others as well as those who try to demoralize, criticize and destroy others!  Some of us “humans” are amongst the most dangerous animals on the planet.

There are givers … like folks who give away food and help create positive feelings for those who don’t have either …  There are “takers” of every opportunity to put someone else down while hiding their own low self esteemed creature away inside  themselves as they spout insults on the world and others, just to try to  make themselves feel better.  There are folks who can’t be alone or stay quiet for an extended period of time and there are still others who know how to balance the “world’s experiences” as they are … both the positive and the negative … and still feel comfortable about themselves as they coexist with others.  Then there are those humans who have to dominate and control others in order to feel as if they are more important than another fellow human being … who quite often is innocent.  There was a story in the local news last night with an overweight kid who works at Publix and pays for a small apartment that he has his mother there living with him.  So, BAM!  Miami Beach Police bang on and destroy the front door of the apartment, storming in with hazmat masks and gear, rifles drawn … handcuffing the Latino young man who works at Publix and even slapped cuffs on his elderly mother!!!  They said the raid was set for that apartment because they had confirmed that a guy had a heroin laboratory in the apartment and was processing the heroin for sale!  The cops busted the walls and ceilings, cut open his and his mother’s mattresses looking for heroin … threw clothes out of the closets onto the floor … left nothing untouched or unturned … and found N.O.T.H.I.N.G.!!!  Didn’t apologize nor offer compensation.  When asked why they did this to this 30-something year old Latino young man who works for Publix and his mother, they responded that they had the correct apartment and were looking for a guy who the tenant who paid rent there with his mother NEVER heard of …. the young Latino man’s name was not even on the warrant!!!!

Imagine if that were you … or me!!  I have learned to believe that I can loosen up when things get tense, work through the challenge … perhaps not with perfection, but indeed with dignity!  I remember Dr. King’s cry, “We shall overcome … some day!”  Woody Allen once said, “Ride loosely in the saddle of life …” ’cause it certainly gets bumpy sometimes!  Spirituality saves me from becoming overly obsessed with material things as it it something that is as mysterious as it is powerrful.  That God-child that dwells with in us, should we decide to nurture it, offers us peace and harmony as we pursue our lives.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the journey!
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

The Trump Effect . . . Did You Think It Was That Far Off?!?

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Happy Hump Day, Y’all … Or IS It?!?

Y’all know what I am talking about?  … that thing I am asking you if you thought it was that far off …. “The Trump Effect”!

All of that hate that he stirred up to get “sick” people out to vote for him is being directed at innocent targets.  Crimes against Muslims are up, according to the crime statistics nationwide, in comparison to what they were last year at this time.  A woman … she was a Muslim was told to remove her traditional head gear unless some “home styled terrorists” were going to burn it off of her head with a cigarette lighter if she didn’t remove it in their presence!!  Some kid in a Miami Dade Public High School showed up to school with a “Trump” cap and a confederate flag floating in the air while he had someone take a photo of him for social media.  Some of the high school kids reported it, and it was investigated by the school’s principal and administration.   The kids apologized and they were reprimanded according to school misconduct policy which was not elaborated on in the news report covering this event.  The Trump Effect … you can act like an asshole and say I am sorry …if you want to …  ’cause he doesn’t apologize … and gets ready for the “Next Episode” in your life’s drama to tout the fact that Trump won the electoral college vote.  It’s funny because in his own interview on “60 Minutes” Sunday night he said that the electoral college was rigged and that the popular vote should be what determines the winner of the presidential race.

So, this African American veteran in a city in Texas went into a Chile’s Restaurant where they were giving free food to veterans on Veteran’s Day and was questioned by a store manager.  After, an older white patron who was also a veteran from World War II spoke up and said, “I was in World War II and there weren’t any blacks over there so you’re not a veteran!”  This white patron was wearing … what else … a Trump cap saying “Make America Great Again”!  This character was able to coerce this manager to ignore the service card the African American veteran had in his hand and SHOWED HIM and also had his service dog with him decked out in a “red, white and blue” neck chain and body holster so he could guide the service man … yep … to take the box of food away from him!  “Trump Effect”!  Hey … when I first heard this … my mind returned to my New York City corner days when I had to talk tough in certain neighborhoods … and I strung together a bunch of insults for Trump … then I got control of myself and calmed down!

Have you heard the story about the guy who hosts an anti-gay, anti-Muslim, racist website … and Trump wants to name him his official advisor!!?  His name is a household word in the Ku Klux Klan and soon to be … in the White House!  Stephen Bannon is the candidate for the position of Trump’s Chief Strategist … and is also the organizer of the website called Brietbart which is purported to represent the “alt right”  movement.  What is that?  Well, simply put, it is an extremist movement that supports ” … the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and protectionist trade polices.  It opposes feminism, diversity, gay rights, globalism, gun control … and civil rights” …  Sounds very American to you?!?!  You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.  Is this how he … “Scrump” … will make America great again … Or … maybe make America MIGRATE?!?!  There was a woman on a local newscast …  a Haitian civil rights activist … who spoke about “the electoral college” and how it was created during the times of slavery in the USA, which wasn’t that long ago, and how it is “outdated” and needs to be revised.  In my opinion, which you may not value … but I ain’t gonna die over it … it needs to be re-evaluated.  Even as outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid stated, “This man lost the popular vote by 2 million votes, is now president elect … and wants his chief strategist in the White House to be an advocate of the alt right.”  Reid follows with, “Don’t do it … don’t do it!” while Trump told the “home styled terrorists” who are openly attacking Muslim women, African Americans, immigrants, gays and lesbians to “Stop it!  Stop it!!”  But “Scrump” … YOU started it!

As the POTUS Obama watches the “transition” and does his part to make it smooth, I think he is intelligent enough to see that there are some problems looming on Capitol Hill with this “new-styled” President Trump.  If you are staying here … get prepared to study reasons for impeachment …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Happy Veteran’s Day – 2016

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Happy Friday All!

Yep!  After the elections took place, I had many many NIGHTMARE’S!!!  Just kidding!!  Are you still reading?  Don’t worry, I am just “joking around” with you all!  But, I wanted to share a few observations.

The electoral college thing … Am I missing something??  The majority of individual people, also called “citizens”, in this country exercise their right to have an individual vote THAT COUNTS individually … when selecting the president of the country that I live in called a democracy … rule by the people … not the electoral college.  Somebody help me out … I must be missing something … and this isn’t the first time that this has happened in our recent history.  Somebody write me back and tell me what I am missing.  Can this “institution” called the “electoral college” which is “man made” be changed by … humans?!?  What am I missing?!  I almost feel disenfranchised but of course, since I taught and studied American history, I was wondering if I missed something that makes this thing unchangeable!

Last Sunday, November 6th, was the anniversary of my mother’s passing, … this Sunday past when I met up with some friends at the Jazz Brunch held outdoors every first Sunday in Ft. Lauderdale from 11am – 2pm at the Main Esplanade on the New River in the downtown area.  Yes, I had a great time chatting with a good friend originally from Mt. Vernon, NY and his wife.   We met up here in Ft. Lauderdale when I first came here over 20 years ago.  Ray and Pearl Campbell have become great friends … just like family, they remember my mother when she was alive ’cause me and my ex-wife Simona and my mother with Ray and his wife and daughter went out on an electric boat on the New River.  It was a gift of another friend who helped me launch Educational Excellence’s media presence – Steve McCrae.  We had a fantastic time, too …. fond memories of Marietta Dolores … RIP.

So, it’s Veteran’s Day, y’all … a very important day for a country like ours that depends on its military presence in the world for our power, so to speak, and security.  The rest of the world … is watching … and … some of these “leaders” do not hesitate to imitate America, use the same technology and science to do the same things!!!!  We have been challenged and tested as a nation many times  over.  “War is hell!” … and it’s “hard” … many don’t return alive!  I have some dear friends who served …and came back alive … thank you, Coach Maurice Blake, John Young, Kelvin Carey, Brian Reed … I think David Stokes, too!  Now, if I missed you and you  are one of my regular recipients, let me know that you served!  It is a big deal … to make it home alive!!  Thank you All who served!!  Celebrate Veteran’s Day!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

So . . . Now What?!?

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It’s Hump Day … Day after Election Day … and what a “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!!!”, in my best Gomer Pyle voice!

Hmmmmm …  Now, I know I wasn’t the ONLY person surprised by the outcome of the Presidential Election last night.  I only worry about what “mistakes” he might make based on his “low value” life style.  His views on women as well as his purported behavior towards women didn’t seem to phase a lot of Americans … It is as if many Americans who voted for Trump accept his philosophy of what a “man can do to a woman … especially if he is a star!”  Are we as Americans … again, those who voted for him … embracing this same philosophy?!?  Now that he has won, what can we expect in regards to his plan to immediately get rid of the “Affordable Health Care Act”?  When can we expect this wall between the USA’s southern border and Mexico to be built … and who is going to pay for it?!?

With all of the events involving the killings of “unarmed African American males” and Trump’s “unspoken” position on these type of events, what can we expect him to do about them?  What position will he take if and when future events of such police involved killings of African American men continue to unfold in America during his administration?  What will he say to Trayvon Martin’s mother and father and what position will he take as POTUS with events like these taking place in “the land of the free, the home of the brave”?

I went to see “Birth of a Nation” this past Sunday evening … and I went alone and paid close attention to nearly every detail that I remembered from my days of teaching that part of “American History” at White Plains High School.  The curriculum depicted Nat Turner as an evil man who sought to free himself, while the movie showed the events surrounding Turner’s transition into an early version of a “freedom seeker” in the face of the horrors of slavery.  The poor white planters who depended on cotton, as depicted by Nate Parker, went to horrific extremes to dehumanize the slaves to the point of submission and servitude with NO self-esteem, except for that self-esteem that came from “the love of God”, as the traveling preacher, Nat Turner, went from plantation to plantation to placate the under fed and over abused slaves.  The women were beaten and raped by these poor white planters as did a “band of poor crackers” who came upon Nat’s wife as she was alone and drew water for the plantation owner … and was unable to produce a pass … since she was on the plantation owner’s property in the first place!  The savagery displayed by these poor white planters was horrific and should not be tolerated by even the lowliest of animals, not to mention, human beings … yes, African slaves were indeed “human beings”!  The attitudes of poor whites in many places today resemble that of their “forefathers” ….

So, what now … that we have a POTUS whose claim to fame is “taking the White House B.A.C.K.” … and I wonder from whom, if he considers us ALL to be Americans … including members of the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama whom Trump tried to ridicule and criticize at every step along his campaign stops.    We also know that all of this nonsense started back when Trump questioned Obama’s citizenship and education as he prepared to run for POTUS eight years ago.  I can only say that I hope and pray that Trump does indeed tone down his hostilities toward ethnic minorities and the living conditions imposed on many by the institutions of American society ranging from discrimination in the workplace to the deterioration of the cities where many ethnic minorities have been forced to call “home”!

I guess … we’ll have to wait and see … as well as see where we can get involved to make positive changes!

Have a great day …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Welp! Transparency ….

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Happy Friday, y’all …. ALL y’all!  T.G.I.F.!!

Have you ever heard the expression:  “Everything in New York just ain’t what it seems!!”  It starts, “New York, New York … Big city of dreams!!!  But everything in New York … just ain’t what it seems!”  Lending some clarity for folks who believe everything they see … and what someone tells them … despite seeing some tell-tale signs of discrepancies!!  Use your brain!!

I have seen people start to use the term “welp” a lot lately … and I like it!  It is kind of a cross between well and help, right?!  Almost like people are saying, “Well, there is not much I can do about this … but … help!”  Whether we like to believe it or not, we are often heavily influenced by the environment we grow up in as well as how … and if … we are nurtured in that environment.   While my father was a big disciplinarian, my mother was the nurturer.  He made sure that we knew the rules in his home, and my mother made sure that we knew that they both loved us … unconditionally.  I have absorbed both characteristics and even been able to add a few “virtues” of my own.

Have you ever spoken to someone and heard them change subjects, points of view … even conflicting beliefs in one simple conversation?!?  Confusing, right?  It is hard for me to trust people like that, let a lone listen to them for too long.  Everything is everybody else’s fault and … if you didn’t know better, one might think that this person is a cross between Jesus and Einstein!!  Personally, I don’t try to know everything nor pretend that I do.  If I don’t know something, I am pretty straight forward in expressing that I lack that knowledge.  I try not to pretend … with anything or anybody … especially myself.  Some folks go in so hard that they start to believe their own “untruths”!!  Scary even!!

Our world is terribly tainted with confusion and smoke screens ….  No one really wants to be known for whom they really are.  A “fisaude” comes out as quickly as fictitious words from ones mouth!  There is no transparency and one cannot build trust in such a person, and, quite truthfully, such persons are frightening to me!   “To be … or not to be … that is the question!”  Do you know yourself?  Do you think others are intelligent enough to see the true you?  Do you think that you can fool everyone … including yourself?!?  Welp, that’s insanity … in a nut shell … no pun intended!

I don’t like to talk negatively about people, and, I don’t like folks to speak negatively about me.  Yet, I would much rather know the truth than believe in a lie!  Simple transparency builds trust as well as sincere relationships.  Be the best that you can be … and “Know thyself”, please!  HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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