Is Justice Blind? Injustice is not.

Major headlines of the past few days call into question whether the scales of justice are really balanced. Citizens without elitist means or connections are left wondering if justice only serves the rich and powerful. Or if justice only serves those of a specific political party or race. We see overwhelming corruption and injustice, and we’re left wondering if justice is truly blind. In this hyper polarized era, we are pushed and pulled further towards the ends of the continuum.

Corruption and injustice are not blind. Partisan politics are.

When a person continually blames one side of the political spectrum, and sugarcoats or overlooks the failings of the other side, they have become not only blind, but part of the problem.

Political parties are not more or less to blame. They are not more or less corrupt. They are equally corrupt, and both skirt the scales of justice in countless ways.

The capacity for blindness knows no race, age, gender, or political spectrum, but it does slowly and surely steal our ability to both see and hear other with respect, understanding and empathy. It divides us, and squelches our own voices. When someone is so unabashedly partisan, or xenophobic, or sexist, or racist, they have lost the ability to speak with any authority beyond their own group of like-minded brethren. People from other groups will have great difficulty accepting or appreciating the talents, faith stories, or life wisdom that they have to offer, as these all may appear to be deeply tainted by the foundational blindness.

Rather than believing any one segment of society is truly to blame for all of our woes, perhaps we should call out injustice wherever it is found. Their party or ours. Their church or ours. Their race or ours.

Injustice isn’t blind, but it is widely spread throughout our society, when we are blind to it.


Better Than This.

“We’re better than this!” – Rep. Elijah Cummings; 2.27.2019

Fiery passion is wonderful when used to inspire or protect others. The same dynamics can be used to further divide people into partisan tribes.

But we can be better than this. For our sake, and the sake of our children’s future, we must be. We have to learn how to respectfully be united without being uniform. We have friends and family, people we love and admire, who disagree sharply on some of the most heated topics of the day. But are we shouting so loud that we can’t hear?

Is our loyalty to “team” more important than our fidelity to truth or principle? Are you more aligned to the ideologies of a particular party than you are to ideals of our nation? Do you view everyone who sees differently than you as inherently wrong, and thereby labeled as belonging to a specific side of the political spectrum?

While there is truth in the sentiment that “if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything”, there is room for reasonable people to disagree with us without being demonized. There is room to listen, and acknowledge not only someone’s right to have a different opinion, but the deeper truth, that our staunch defense of certain “truths” has morphed over time. Is it not true that some issues that many of us ardently adhered to just a few years ago, we now see in a different, more nuanced light? Haven’t we grown to learn that the more we understand, we begin to realize that the less we truly know? With that enlightenment, aren’t we able to more sympathetically hear our neighbors with pause and consideration, with an open heart that doesn’t require uniformity over unity?

A Holiday of the Heart

A Holiday of the Heart

I was barely sixteen, and had never really been in love before, so my context of Valentines Day had been confined to the giving and receiving of cards and treats in classrooms. Working one of my first jobs, as a clerk in the neighborhood pharmacy, I noticed the undulating waves of last-minute purchases of boxed Fannie May chocolates, drug-store roses, and awkwardly worded Hallmark cards professing love to the lucky recipients.

“Perhaps the saddest day of the year” one of my co-workers quipped. “So many people won’t be receiving cards or flowers”.

It was one of those watershed coming-of-age moments that leaves an indelible mark on an impressionable soul. I had always equated February 14th with love, romance, and joy, even if I wasn’t quite sure what romance meant.

But I did know love.

I knew the love of my single mother, who despite being in the midst of her tumultuous bout with cancer, while raising five strong-willed children on her teacher’s salary, loved audaciously. She told us of her love constantly, through words, hugs, kisses, and her relentless sacrifice to care for us.

So the thought of Valentines Day being a day of sadness had never occurred to me. Mom had made sure we had cards and candy to give out, and found a way of surprising us with her own little gifts or gestures of affection. A Spider-Man Board game one year, or a jigsaw puzzle the next. She had a way of reminding us that we mattered. We were her pride and joy, and we were loved.

So as another Valentines Day has come upon us, what a great opportunity we have to remind those around us they are loved. The people who cross our paths at home, or work, or in our community, matter to us. We see them. We recognize that they compose a unique set of blessings for us, and we can take a moment to express our gratitude for their presence in our journey.

To my friends, family, colleagues, and community, whether our paths currently meet, or crossed before, thank you for the kindness you show me everyday. I love you all. You matter to me, and I’m blessed because of you.

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”. – Victor Hugo

Heroes Unmasked

I get it. Heroes are still human. Fallible. They fall from the pedestal from time to time. But to me, the real superpower of my heroes has been the ideals they stood for. Sure, their accomplishments grab our attention. Their charisma opens doors, and draws increasing numbers of followers. Their persuasive powers expands their platform.

But I was always drawn to the purity of their cause. The integrity of their purpose. That injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere. That truth, equality, and liberty were ideals to be protected and cherished for all races, genders, ethnicities and religions. Right was right, and wrong was wrong, regardless of political affiliation.

Yet many of my former heroes have been unmasked. It isn’t their humanity in question, but their integrity. In a world that has swiftly grown more and more divided, they are taking sides. In a world where extremist views and voices are emboldened, these heroes are conditionally silent. When the distress signals of injustice flare in the sky, they selectively choose to remain in their caves or look the other way if the call to arms isn’t from their chosen side.

Their capes no longer represent the defense of ideals that should be applied to all of us, but instead they have specific labels and colors, mostly blue or red, for the segments of the population they identify with. These fallen heroes have traded ideals for ideologies.

Sure they still fight for truth, justice, and liberty, but now it is conditional. No longer do they protect principles and populations. Now they specialize in protecting parties and storylines. They share your thirst for justice, unless it calls into account someone from their team. If your freedom is threatened, they’ll come to your aid, as long as you wear their team colors.

Disillusionment sets in when we see our heroes unmasked. We struggle to believe they can be so myopic. So partisan. So conditional. Perhaps they’ve lost their way for a time, and will eventually see the fallacy of choosing ideologies over ideals. Perhaps they’ve grown tired or protecting our national values, and have chosen an easier, narrower path. Hopefully, as the number of distress signals continues to rise, and our nation is further divided, a new crop of heroes will answer the call.

We’ve lost a fair number of heroes in the past few years. Our values and ideals are under assault from some of the very places expected to uphold them most. As Dr. King reminded us, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. May idealists everywhere reject disillusionment, and continue to cherish the principles our nation was founded upon, finding ways to answer distress calls without furthering the divide.

Ballot Box Longings

I abhor partisan politics

I won’t vote blue

I won’t vote red

I’ll choose a mix of candidates,

For a diverse nation.

I prefer principles

Over parties.

I long for leaders

With integrity

And character

Who haven’t sold their soul

To corporations

Or lobbyists

But who heartily represent

Their constituents

And their consciences.

I long for citizens

Who love liberty

For all

Who welcome the oppressed

Who protect the rights

And dignity

Of all races


And ethnicities.

I long for women and men

Who think critically

Who discuss respectfully

And who rise above

Mindless, partisan division.

People that recognize

Poisonous platforms

And renounce toxic behaviors

Regardless of which party

Or which race

Or which demographic

They originate from.

I long for countrymen

That pledge allegiance

To a flag

And live by its creed

Instead or wrapping themselves

In the stars and stripes

While denying its freedoms

Or using Ole Glory

As a backdrop

Of false patriotism

While spewing hateful rhetoric

Or denying people the right

To kneel before a flag

That has failed them.

I long for a people

Who if they worship

And pray

Do so for all citizens

Without furling the flag

Around their church

Mosque, or synagogue

And any particular party

Constricting the voice

Or soul of their faith

From reaching others


Micro American-omics

American values have long been a bedrock of our national persona. Similar to our iconic symbols, the Stars and Stripes, the Statue of Liberty, or the national anthem; there were certain principles that we all held dear. We believed in the integrity of our national institutions. We believed that our votes were all weighed equally. We believed that we could disagree with our leaders, or other citizens, within an environment of civility and safety. We held our principles dear.

Like many citizens, I am disheartened by the current state of affairs in our nation. But this isn’t about left or right; blue or red. This is about our national principles. The ones we claim to cherish.

It seems principles are no longer our bottom line. They are no longer our bedrock. Instead, our American values are now micro-selected on a case by case basis. Violations of our principles are first scrutinized to determine if the offense is red or blue; right or left. Parties now trump principles. We’re practicing micro American-omics.

Take this past week for example. In a normal society, 14 IED devices being sent to various citizens would alarm an entire nation. A society would be galvanized to find the perpetrator, and to secure the safety of our citizens. But instead, we’ve become a society that first checks to see if party, ethnic, or race lines are involved. What is the race or religion of the bomber? What party or ethnicity were the targets? Our outrage, or our silence, is often determined only after we’ve first decided how it fits our current narrative. Principles give way to partisan lines.

Instead of patriotism around national values, a divisive groupthink is further entrenched.

For the record, I do not consider myself blue or red, left or right, Democrat or Republican. I vote on both sides of the aisle, although I do have many concerns about our current president and his administration. But my hope is that citizens would look beyond parties, and focus more on the principles they hold dear and the character of the candidates.

Social media has the power to bring us together, but also to pull us apart. I find it harder and harder to read the posts of people who decry political violence, but only when it fits their narrative. Rather than employing critical thinking skills, citizens quickly dismiss stories that call the tactics of their leaders into question, labeling them as “fake news”, regardless of any amount of science or facts. It simply doesn’t fit with their pre-conceived story. The other side isn’t only viewed as ideologically wrong, but as morally corrupt, intellectually inept, and incapable of grasping the truth.

I’ve posted my own share of concerns, as I’ve found myself continually shocked by the seemingly bottomless lowering of our national discourse, especially where our nation’s leader is concerned. I falsely assumed my words might make a difference. That others would pause and consider the reflections, or at least engage in thoughtful discourse. But sadly, most are either turned off to the political noise, or they are already entrenched in their narratives, and only interested in trolling the comments of others.

Even some of the people I respect and admire the most, have fallen prey to entrenched partisan thinking. Their praise, criticisms, and outrage are selectively applied, only when it suits their pre-determined partisan affiliations. Principles only matter when it fits their narrative.

While I respect that we all share different convictions about multiple topics, we can all agree that the encouragement of violence against our political rivals has no place in our national discourse. If you condemn threats against political rivals, I hope you publicly condemn both the actions of the bomber, as well as the presidents’ own threatening comments; with a similar vigor, regardless of your party affiliation. Calls for violence are despicable, whether they come from the left or the right. And when the violent rhetoric is only selectively condemned, depending on which party it originates from, or benefits, then it appears that it is no longer truly a principle we stand on, but a partisan talking point. And I’d like to believe that you and I want to be above that partisan divide. We want to be, whenever and wherever possible, voices that heal. Voices that unify. We might not unify people around similar topics or issues, but we can do so around principles of mutual respect, and decency. Those principles are macro, not micro. They transcend partisan talking points, and should always be the bedrock of our national heritage.

“What Place Did You Finish In?”

“What Place Did You Finish In?”

That’s usually the second question I hear after a marathon.

The first question is often “How did the race go?” Some people also want to know about any lingering aches and pains, or they ask to see the medal or race shirt.

I get it. Friends, family and colleagues mean well. And they’re curious about this seemingly super-human accomplishment. If you’re a runner, perhaps you’ve forgotten when finishing 26.2 miles seemed like a big deal. But to most people, running a marathon, or any distance race, is an other-worldly feat. One that the vast majority of our population think “I could never do that.”

But isn’t that precisely the beauty of the marathon? Proving to yourself that deep within you beats the heart of a badass? Mining the transformative joy of accomplishing something you once believed to be only capable by the rarest of athletes? You endure months of training, and then race the streets in celebration, crossing a finish line that punctuates your journey, while also symbolizing the start of new dreams, possibilities, and adventures ahead. The medal placed around your neck declaring that the once impossible peak has been summited, and you are no longer the same person who tentatively registered for the race months before.

You’re stronger.

Your vision is clearer.

Your dreams are bigger.

You’ve overcome fears, doubts, injuries, weather, naysayers, and an array of other obstacles, one mile at a time, and along the journey, you changed.

Running taught you priceless lessons. Running made you a better version of yourself. Running opened new doors, and broadened your selection of new starting lines.

“What Place Did You Finish In?”

It is an innocent question, but perhaps it is the wrong question. It asks us to compare ourselves to others, and threatens to rob us of the joy forged over countless miles. The question tries to measure what is immeasurable, and quantify qualities that are intangible. Most of us don’t run to measure ourselves against others, but to measure against ourselves.

The joy of running past another runner is short lived and shallow, but the joy of passing our own previous thresholds, is enduring, and solid. We run to inhale nature and beauty. We run to exhale the negativity and pressures that invade life. We run to experience new destinations, interact with other cultures, and explore the wonderings of our spirits and the yearnings of our souls.

We run for camaraderie.

We run for solitude.

We run for purpose.

We run for freedom.

We run because we can.

We run, because we know others who cannot.

“What Place Did You Finish In?”

The question is asked because on some level, the people who care about us, run with us. They cheer us on from near or afar. They race through us, vicariously, imagining what it is like to be in our shoes, without really wanting to be in our shoes. Because let’s face it, the marathon is daunting. The marathon purges your muscles, your diet, and your schedule. It requires all your energy, and then takes your reserves. It depletes you, exhausts you, and breaks you down, completely.

But the marathon replenishes. It builds new muscle, new habits, new friendships and new dreams. It pays you back a hundred fold, and in the process, removes toxic habits and attitudes, cleansing you in the process.

The marathon is daunting. So is any obstacle you willingly throw yourself into. A new career. A new relationship. A new address. Writing a book. Tackling a triathlon. Going back to get that degree. Starting your own business.

Whatever the obstacle, it may be daunting. But within you, lies an undaunted spirit, waiting to be forged and fashioned. Sign up for it. Register yourself. Go all-in. Your own personal “whatever-athon”. It doesn’t have to be 26.2 miles. It might just be one. Or it might not require running at all. But it will scare you. It will at times terrify you, calling up the haunting voices that whisper failure in your ears.

Your “whatever-athon” will require more of you than you ever though you had, but that is the beauty, because if you stay the course, you’ll find out there is a lot more inside of you than you ever realized. There is more courage. More grit. More brilliance, compassion, patience, and hope. Nobody else may have recognized it before, and the naysayers may have tried to make you believe that it wasn’t there, but remember that all the good stuff is on the other side of fear. Don’t be afraid of what lies ahead of you, or what is buried within you, because both of those places have immeasurable treasure waiting to be discovered. Your “whatever-athon” may be daunting…

But you can be undaunted.

“What Place Did You Finish In?”

You’re still curious? Fine. Well, I didn’t win the race. I wasn’t the first across the line. But I finished 1st place in my division. You know, the grouping of males, aged 50-55, who share my same birth date, birth parents, and birth name. Out of the over 45,000 finishers, I was the 31,0111th person to cross the line. But I finished, with arms triumphantly raised, an elated smile across my face, and just as proud as the first person, or the final person. The once impossible, now in my rear-view mirror, and a vast expanse of possibilities before me. Ready for my next “whatever-athon”. My finish line, bearing witness to wonderful new starting lines.