Sentimental Feelings

love

 

Happy Friday, All!

And I need to give a hearty T.G.I.F. … just because it feels good!

So much drama in this nation’s politics, you think!?  Now, much of it is spreading like ripples on a body of water to the world!  For me, it seems like a modern soap opera … but it is REAL!  Have you any idea of what I am referring to?!

Now it could be just me, but I can feel the turmoil and tension nearly in “the streets of our communities”.  Gun violence erupts in so many cities across this nation, and I am sure there must be some in other countries.  Yesterday, I watched a bit of “The O’Reilly Factor” where the host had two people from Sweden on his program.  One was the director of national security and the other was a woman from a town where refugees are prevalent and there appears to be some challenges of poverty.  Things seemed to have changed in this particular community since the refugees (Syrian?) were taken in by the Swedish government.  So, O’Reilly questioned the two, the woman first asking if there was increased crime in that town since the refugees arrived.  Her answer was mild, insinuating that there were challenges, perhaps corruption, in areas like social services and school issues for the refugees.  However, she didn’t say there was more “crime” like theft, burglary or murder/domestic violence.  Meanwhile, the national security adviser, who was a gentleman, seemed to feel that the socialization process for the refugees into Swedish society was difficult and challenging, perhaps causing increased crime.

Yesterday, there was a meeting for CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) and I watched a bit of the “news” regarding that event.  There were various segments with speakers like Bannon, White House Chief Strategist of the Trump Administration, who told the audience what he believed the current president was doing … and those things were basically that “the President is living up to his campaign promises”.  The anticipated “wall” scheduled to be built between the USA’s southern border on Mexico has become something of an enigma for many of us … wondering WHO will pay for the construction of this wall.  The Mexican president thus far has promised that they will not pay for it.  Meanwhile, back at the “Winter White House” or the regular White House (geesh!) the current president promises that Mexico WILL pay for the wall to be built – another campaign promise that this administration is trying to push through.  Honestly, I see traces of “international bullying” going on here and I am curious what the out come will be.

With all the confusion, drama and threats, social upheaval including promises and protests … yes even rallies, I am inclined to still seek peace, love and happiness.  Here in SoFlo this week, there is the South Beach (SoBe) Wine and Food Festival – tickets are $250.00.  Last weekend also in South Florida we had two international boat shows with yachts and vessels from all over the world.  Also, yesterday, I went to yoga … This is the way I choose to enjoy life on a basic human level … convening with friends and fellow yogis with dedicated and caring Yoginis, sharing hugs and conversation.  Shucks, tomorrow is an event called “YogaFest” here in Ft. Lauderdale at the Huizenga Park off of Las Olas Boulevard.  I may try to swing by if traffic is not too congested … It costs like $25.00, I believe, for entry and participation in some of the events.  I am sure one will have to spend more for the items for sale at the event like food and clothing.

I am having a lot of sentimental feelings in the midst of all that’s going on around me.  Inside of me, I feel love for my daughter and new grandson, I am missing my deceased brother, Henry Charles Cook, and my deceased sister, Barbara Ann Powell … not to mention how much I miss BOTH of my parents presence, encouragement and support.  That’s all part of growing up, I presume … and I can handle that.  I enjoy the friendships that I have been able to develop over the years.  I like to tell people how special they are for me and compliment them on anything that I can!  This is the sentimental me … the feelings that well up inside of me quite naturally … and peacefully.  So, I have dedicated this correspondence to “sentimental feelings”, which I believe we are all allowed to have!!  Nurture yourselves spiritually, my friends, and enjoy your weekends!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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Priorities . . .

priorities-and-life

Happy Hump ‘day, Y’all!

I always like to keep an open mind when it comes to looking at political developments, personalities and policies.  Those of you who know me best, know that I am a dreamer … Wishing everybody could just get along … learn about ourselves and each other … and inhabit this bountiful planet as “co-humans”.  I know that is a tall order, yet, I feel that with human intelligence and that uncanny ability we each have for survival, why can’t we do this?!?  I personally have met people from all walks of life.  I have had to adjust my “opinions” of others, be it ethnic groups, religions, or sexual preferences, not to mention others of various incomes and education.  But I always try to keep an open mind.  You know how everyone said, “Give Trump a chance!”  Well, first of all, I just want to reiterate that I wasn’t for Hillary nor Trump … I personally supported Bernie Sanders, one who is truly not caught up in some sort of “power struggle” or cronies looking to take over the world!!  So, I didn’t want either one of them.  The simple fact that Trump won the “electoral college” votes, which I still believe is worthless today, and NOT the popular vote, keeps me with a keen eye on the current president and his cronies’ activities.  After a bit of research on this topic of “Muslim countries to be banned”, it appears that the majority of them (terrorists) come from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt, NONE of which are named in the countries of the current ban!!!  Have you ever heard the word “priorities” before?

Once we were all trained to embrace the “fear of terrorism” during the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, he has built on the “hype” and “fear” technique to rally folks around banning or limiting immigrants from “Muslim countries” and deporting “illegal immigrants” already here!  The phrase, “Don’t believe the hype!” comes to mind each time I see and hear one of the current administration’s many spokespersons who are trying to instill this “new nationalism”, if you will, which excludes the majority of the people of this country, as evidenced by the popular vote.  Now, even some of the Republican supporters of our current president, especially those in states like Florida, Washington California and New York, are beginning to see a trend of this “new nationalism” pressing on the boundaries of their otherwise immigrant communities.  With the sweeping “raids” of purported illegal immigrants, more and more families are being separated and more and more immigrants stand the chance of being deported!  All of this stuff that I am talking about now, actually makes my stomach turn!  I am just not in agreement with “political man” as we have evolved into a world where “men” seem to be looking for opportunities to dominate and control the whole world!!  This is what makes me say, “wtf”?!?  What makes one human think that I need their guidance to “live a good life”?!?  It is all part of the modern trend of making all humans slaves to capital and big business while individual lives and our longevity are no longer a priority!!

Well, I am going to close this communication with hopes of peace and encourage those of us who have the “hutspah” to challenge so-called authority and continue to demonstrate against a lack of priorities of the leaders that “we the people” (the majority of us) put into office.  As I watched the live newscasts of the current president’s visit to the National Museum of African American History and the lamest comment ever on anti-semitic acts from the destruction in a graveyard in Missouri to vandalism of temples in Florida, which was “this is horrible” … I shook my head in disdain once again.  Set your own priorities, folks, and stick to them … even if it means a peaceful protest!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“You Don’t Say?!?”

you-dont-say

 

Friday, All!

It’s been one of those weeks, a good one … one that “we” all got through apparently!  Have you ever wondered if you were going to “make it” through a certain situation?  It can literally drive you crazy!  During my formative years, I had some “close calls” so to speak, and my parents took me to a good friend of theirs who was also a doctor … a medical doctor … but had enough “experience” and was an “outside voice” whom they believed could counsel me through my challenges.  I mean, I didn’t quite know how to handle the transition from public school and living at home with my family … to a private school and living amongst strangers!

Fortunately, for me, there were some very fine people in the midst of those “strangers” who came in the form of teachers, coaches … and even fellow students!  Sometimes, I feel like I had the best upbringing a “boy” could have due to my mother and father’s insistence on having  “good character”, being honest and trustworthy  … and telling the truth.  That truth thing was one of my Dad’s pet peeves – he couldn’t stand it if we lied to him, and, when we did, we got what my old school Dad called “a whipping”, usually with a leather belt!!  While I didn’t view it as “child abuse”, it was a common punishment for many of us kids in The Projects, I know because we could hear when someone else was getting a “whipping” in the next apartment or while we waited for the elevator in the nine story buildings!  I can tell you how many times I tried to hide the marks (yep, there were often swell marks on my legs) when we had gym class at school!  I learned very well that one should tell the truth.  In fact, it really abhors me when someone looks in my face and tells me a bold faced lie!

Can you believe the news conference held by our current president yesterday?!?   At some points of it, I thought he was having a conversation with himself.  He talks as if he is trying to brainwash anyone within ear shot of his voice!!  It’s like he will take a statement like, “You will never find anyone who is …” and he would finish it with something like “NOT anti-semitic” or “fairer than I am”.  He even went as far as to say that he won more votes than Reagan or Bush!!  How many listeners and viewers actually do a simple “fact check” when you hear stuff like this?!?  According to our current president, he “inherited a mess”!  Do world leaders really talk like that?  Should they “lie” like that in front of the whole world … and keep a straight face at the same time?!?  When I look at or listen to someone who is trying to convince ME of an untruth, I get very uncomfortable and usually block them out.  While it appears to me that part of being a politician is learning to camouflage the truth or “spin lies” in a moments notice, I find it despicable for someone … anyone … to tell bold faced lies!  My Dad used to say, “Tell the truth, boy, ’cause people don’t have anything else to go on (by) except what comes out of your mouth!”  Personally, once a person proves to me that they will try to deceive me, I am cautious and skeptical about whatever they may say!  I expect the same for me!

Have a great day, a wonderful weekend … and tell the truth … please!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“It’s Always Something!”

lost

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

“What a difference a day makes!” … and … “It’s always something!”, as my mother used to always say!  Many times in my life, I have heard the expression, “What goes around comes around!”  Do you know of any anecdotes or expressions like these?!?

Back in the day, at Princeton University, I studied Sociology.  One concept that we learned about was called, “Diverting the Eye” technique.  This is something that you can grasp, even if you never studied at any “university”.  Yet, less acute persons may miss this while looking at the “society we live in”.  In other words, “Pay attention, Son!”, as my father used to tell me.  So, what happens is that “one” may have an observation regarding an event or “pattern of behavior” in our society, which is the laboratory for sociologist.  (We can’t make this stuff up!)  While inquiring at one of our institutions “why a certain pattern of behavior” is occurring, the representative for that institution says, “Well, if you look at the developments regarding this notion that you have, you need to take into account what happened in another situation  (something totally different).”  What they have done, is diverted “your eye” and gotten you to focus on something else.  For example, the Flynn scandal where this “national security adviser” decided to meet with a Russian official to discuss President Obama’s sanctions placed on their government due to “cyber attacks” and meddling with the American election is problematic because it was BEFORE president elect Trump was sworn in.  The Obama administration said that there was “evidence”, which the GOP/Repubs vehemently denied, that the Russians had influenced the US election results.  The Repubs said, “Oh, you guys are sore losers and just need to accept defeat!”  Now, Trump says that the problem is “where the leak is” in the White House, NOT the fact that the election results were tampered with by the Russian “hackers”!   Amidst the resignation of Flynn as US Security Adviser, it is clear that Flynn not only lied to Spence, but that Trump knew before Spence that Flynn had gotten involved in “inappropriate behavior” with a Russian official/Putin’s staffer weeks perhaps MONTHS before Spence learned about it!!!

Can you say, “What goes around comes around”!?  So, here’s my question: “Are we surprised at this dishonesty AMONGST people of the same party?”  The United States of America looks like a “joke” first by electing a “reality show” producer as president of this once “grand nation” and a multiplicity of citizens have been duped into believing his campaign cry, “Make America Great Again!” fueled by his contention that he was going to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC.  Looks like he had a few “gators” of his own to bring to the “swamp” in Washington, DC.  Now, I am sure “we” could go deeper into the dynamics of the “political quagmire” in DC with the Trump administration, but I have never been a fan of “studying the art of deceit” … it’s too confusing for me … for many folks, including some of those  who voted for Trump!!!  Like my mother used to say, “It’s always something!”

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

The Journey of Perfection

little-things

 

Happy Friday, Mi Gente!

As is customary at EE and me … a hearty T.G.I.F.!  Sometimes, as Jimi Hendrix used to say, “Excuse me, while I kiss the sky!”

How do “you” view perfection?  Some of the greatest thinkers of our time, and previous times back to folks like Socrates, “know” that perfection is like “true North” or something – a place we seek; but given our so-called human frailties, cannot attain.  Thinking about our world as one of “North, South, East and West”, shapes our perception of things, including each other.  I personally prefer a “circular” concept of thinking that encompasses “all possibilities”.  In other words, not up and down, but ’round and ’round!  What thinketh you?!?  It’s okay, one doesn’t have to agree with me.

We usually have our patterns of thought shaped by and based on our “up bringing” or child rearing practices.  We are simply “socialized” most often by our parent(s), or, if by caretakers by “those” who have similar beliefs as our parent(s).  The greatest emphasis for me was that we treat each other with respect.  While I had an “older sister” and an “older brother” and there was a hierarchy of sorts, especially when it came to household chores and responsibilities, both of my parents encouraged us to be fair with each other, and, to respect each other.  I understand better and appreciate the concept of “fairness” more than a hierarchical concept of “one person on top of another”, in other words a pile of individuals!  Usually, a pile needs a “ruler”, because the pile needs to be organized.  My father, “Big Ike”, was not a high school graduate yet we respected him as the head of our family, our protector, our major breadwinner though my mother also worked multiple part time jobs from Day Care to being a domestic engineer.  Respect was the key word in our household, no matter what ones station in life was.  It was common for either my mother or father to invite people over to our tiny apartment after church for supper … and these were usually people who could “use a meal and a couch” for an afternoon, at least.  I always had a problem understanding why some folks had to “appear” perfect, and never admit their mistakes.  My father was kind of like that … didn’t like to say he was wrong nor did he like to say, “I’m sorry”.  While I understood that he though it would undermine his authority if he did either of the aforementioned, I always felt his support and encouragement as I pursued “new” things for our family like boarding school and “The Ivy League”, neither of which I had ever heard of before I was actually “there”!

Even in my formal education of “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic”, history, science and social studies, there seemed to be an emphasis on fairness and equality.  I was always taught at home to be humble, yet proud (not arrogant) and seek to include everyone and be fair to everyone.  In essence, I was always “taught” that dictators were considered to be dangerous since they didn’t take everyone into account in their leadership, and often catered to the more powerful, like in feudalism.  I never thought that was fair … Even when my father may have made a mistake, and didn’t say he was sorry or anything, he would make up for it by taking a keen interest in all of our lives, from school to sports, trips to Florida from New York during the winters, trips to the Catskills during the summer (he hunted deer there in the winter with good family friends) and he and my mother were there when I graduated from St. Paul’s in Concord, NH as well as picking me up after my graduation from Princeton University.  Shucks, my mother even came to visit me when I was teaching English in Cali, Colombia, South America!  They were always “there”.  Be wary of those who cannot admit imperfection … and continue with their dangerous self centered behavior.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat . . .”

empty-boat

 

Happy Hump Day, All!

How many of “you” remember the childhood song … at least from my childhood … “Row, Row, Row your boat …”?  Do you ever feel like that sometimes?  I mean, you’re rowing in a boat … you’re all merry and stuff … trying to accomplish things that matter in your life … just to find out that life … perhaps YOUR life … is just a dream?!?

I remember when I ran for student government office in grade school, then in boarding school … and I was able to win a few.  Friends that I had made, folks who had a certain affinity with me either regarding ethnicity or just the fact that I appeared as a natural leader with the interest of ALL in mind, voted for me.  It feels so good when someone wants you to represent them; and it doesn’t turn out to be a “war” based on political party or economic station in life in regards to “the other” candidate!!  I can only tell you that while I have always considered my life as more than “just a dream”, sometimes … it does feel like I am powerless over some of the outcomes of MY life, no matter how hard I try to attain certain goals!  Keep in mind, that I don’t give up … I keep pushing … towards my OWN goals of peace and love … and an education about myself and this life that I have been gifted by MY CREATOR.  It makes me chuckle, though a little bit sad, when I encounter someone who feels that “they” are my Creator because they helped me with a certain project or through a certain difficulty.  These are folks that not only lack humility, but they also lack the ability to understand that “no ‘person’ is an island”, and we ALL need and get help from “others” along this journey!  There are those of us who understand the concept of “the church” without taking a religious stance as one religion vs. another … and embrace the simple fact that the concept of “the church” is simply to “do unto others as you would have them do unto to you”.

Yet, as I “row my boat”, I am cognizant that MY life quite often becomes a dream … like the dream that Dr. King had … a dream of peace on Earth and kindness towards all on the Earth.  This type of thinking requires a certain amount of self love, self knowledge and pride, mixed with humility to be able to see when WE are wrong as well as a desire to see ALL human beings as our “sisters and brothers”.  Some humans like the divisiveness and thrive off of the confusion that it generates, with special hopes that they will find “someone” who is so confused or so unfortunate that “they” can take advantage of that “poor soul” who can’t quite get the proper footing to stand on their own.  Some of us get duped into thinking that this “life” is a race or contest to see who can amass the most power or wealth, even control over “others” rather than of themselves and try to relegate others as “worthless” or “not as good” as ones self!!!  These are the kind of people that I abhor and whom I try to MAKE sure that they have no or limited control or negative impact in my life.  Many times, because of some of my minor successes, I encounter people who get envious of my ability to “over come some obstacles”, to learn a language and have had the opportunity to explore places and situations that maybe they haven’t had.  Now, I must mention that I am fortunate enough to have made “friends” and have associates who have been willing to help me in my “little boat” as I rowed “merrily” down the stream …towards my life’s “dream” which we often share.  This in turn, encourages me to reach out and help others who might need a hand with something that I can help them with!!  For me, this is what makes life “beautiful”.  I am grateful to learn more about others with similar basic human values as well as to learn about myself and this life of mine, which like ALL others … will one day come to an end!

Try to live in peace and harmony and not “to pick sides” because we ultimately are on the same team … rowing down the same “stream” called Earth!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“We Still Got This . . .”

keep-calm

 

Happy Friday, All!

So, as is tradition for me this time of week, T.G.I.F.!

It’s a good thing that the founding fathers … and many of “us” along the way since then … we do still have the right to assemble and have peaceful demonstrations and protests!  I still think back to my parents and folks of that generation …  including Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.  Look at what “they” had to undertake and experience in order to get “the right to vote” in this nation’s democracy!  I mean, when I look back at this nation’s history, it seems like a “no brainer” that people who actually live and work in this country, serve in the Armed Forces to protect this nation, like “Red Tails” during World War II … should have the right to vote for political representatives of the same country!  What does this say about the Americans, citizens and politicians alike, who forced “folks” to march and protest, have innocent lives taken … walk across a bridge and receive inhumane treatment, in order to get the right to vote!!??  Seems pretty scary to me.  In other words, who is really ignorant?  Who is really the “barbarian”?  Could it be those people who lynched African Americans, blew up churches including children and other innocent victims to KEEP them from protesting to get the right to vote?!?

Once again, we are at that juncture where “the right for peaceful assembly” has come in handy, so to speak, in challenging the “new administrations” executive orders.  In reference to the changes that have been brought about as a result of of the marches and protests … “from sea to shining sea” … there are several, including allowing current “green card” holders to enter and leave the country freely.  While our current president doesn’t admit that these “orders” regarding immigration restrictions were NOT rolled out properly, NOT brought before Homeland Security in advance and just not thought out “in advance” as experienced politicians know, it is clear that he is trying to meander along as if he has done no wrong!  A good friend and college buddy who lives in DC posted a great amount of information on social media (Facebook) regarding the changes that have been brought about as a result of the marches and protests!  Thanks, Vetalle Fusilier.  “We still got this!”  Yes, and some state governments are suing the Federal Government for implementing the “immigration ban” (another word that even White House spokesperson Spence stated was incorrect and at least questionable!) stating that it is indeed “unconstitutional”.  As the plot thickens and the election hype generated by this horrific and dishonest battle cry – “Make America Great Again” – dissipates, and even some so-called “Republicans” have come to see that Trump “blew smoke up their derrieres” while incessantly making hostile, often untrue, comments about everyone from Obama to some of his own party’s candidates, I suggest that “We still got this!”  Organize and march, protest peacefully and let your (our) voices be heard!

Have a great weekend … and if you get a chance, go to see a new movie “I Am Not Your Negro!”.  Enjoy the Super Bowl festivities as well!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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