Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The All Spark

There are times when you rack your brain to figure out what's the next step you should take in this video game called life. When you're stuck in a corridor not knowing what door to open and run through, sword in hand. It's mentally exhausting calculating which magic door to pick, avoiding the one that may have monsters behind it. Then there are times when that little space monkey in the sky pulling all the strings finally sends you some signs and you finally pay attention to them.

In a spark, it all suddenly becomes crystalline-clear as a prism reflecting the bright sun. You no longer fret or no longer care about making the wrong choice because you know the only way is forward at whatever cost, no matter how uncomfortable it may make your life. After all, we aren't here to be comfortable in our little hobbit shires, we were meant to be shaken about and challenged. 

Some people come into your life for a season or a reason, the duration is irrelevant, for they change you either way. And so it was that on that Halloween night on a crowded dance floor where the roman politician and the half-naked eskimo first kissed and felt the all-spark, waking them up to see that there is another one out there just like themselves and on the same mission. Two parallel universes aligned for a moment, restoring the sense of what it feels like to have a belly full of bliss.

And so I choose to emerge from my comfortable little box and break all the locks, effortlessly picking a door...not looking down before jumping on my way out. I realize it doesn't have to be so tragic or scary. No matter if I ever see that roman politician again, I know now he does exist. He's stirred me out of my ant hill, I have that all spark and can't go back to sleep or ignore it ever lit me up in that lucky-blurry moment when I least expected it, as if by magic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thank You....

On the eve of the most important election of our lifetimes, I am spinning out my anxiety at FlyWheel on South Beach, an uber high-tech extreme exercise emporium. I mull over the last several months where I've freely given countless hours to the grassroots campaign to re-elect our President Obama. The time given, unconditional except for the desire to see our country continue moving forward with a leader that in my eyes, has been one of the most effective and unwavering presidents we have had since John F. Kennedy. I'm free of regret as my time has been paid back exponentially with newfound wisdom, a greater connection to humanity and fulfillment knowing that I stopped watching the world spin by without my input and actually contributed to it's orbit towards one direction.

As the spinning instructor\dominatrix commands us to go faster, my eyes burn with sweat dripping from my brow and I close my eyes to prevent the sting. I begin to visualize what will happen if all this work will be for naught. What if my president doesn't win? What will happen to this country if the religious extremists finally get the full control they have fought centuries for. The thought burns a fire and in an instant I am pedaling furiously-faster, forgetting my body's limits.

I try pulling back from the doomsday scenario in my head of American Taliban hijacking our government, our constitution and my equal rights as a gay american. I see the big picture and recall other dire moments in history where the harsh lessons were an unexpected byproduct. I think of the worst example and try to see the good from Hitler's horrible crimes against humanity. Even in the horror he created and blatant disregard for human life, he seeded the Earth with the idea that what he did must never-ever happen again. In that moment, I come out of my spinning trance, wipe the sweat from my eyes to focus on the instructor's calls and beautiful motivating smile. She, like our President is calling and spurring us on to fight harder for our health, for our lives, for our equality to chase after those "transparent dangling carrots".

If American liberals are guilty of anything is that they suffer from a case of extreme Buddhism. Their natural tendency to look at life through a live and let live lens allows the right wing-nuts who scream and fight oh-so-much louder to oftentimes win against our wishes and even allow them to infringe upon our rights. This time, this election, in the words of Debbie Wasserman; it's personal. This election is personal to the senior who doesn't want to have to navigate a voucher system in their golden years peppered with senility instead of a safe and secure Social Security system. It's personal for a woman that inadvertently gets pregnant and wants to choose when she will bear a child so that she doesn't derail her life's career because someone not of her religious beliefs stole her right to decide when she will bring a child into this world. It's personal for all LGBT citizens who want nothing more than to be finally left alone to live a life with their life partners with full and equal rights as any other tax paying citizen and for them to marry the love of their lives and not be told that their marriage isn't as legitimate as a heterosexual man marrying his mail order bride from Russia. This election is personal to the young latino immigrant that worked two jobs for years to pay for their way through college and only dreams of being naturalized through the Dream Act.

We are a nation as divided as during the Civil War over 150 years ago. One side of the country towards progress and equality free from enslaving segments of our society and the other still wanting to keep those limits intact. Like Paul Revere lighting up the night with his call to arms, the obstructionists, one by one with their bizarre and twisted justifications to take away our rights have bitch-slapped so many of us apathetic and tolerant liberals to finally jump up and say what the fuck are you trying to do with my government?!

I thank Sarah Palin with all her ignorance of the facts and mockeries of the truth, I thank Lyin' Ryan and Myth Romney for spinning their Rumplestiltskin web of lies, spinning a golden mythological yarn, promising to magically fix all our problems without even telling us how. I thank Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter for giving a byproduct birth of the Stephen Colbert show and giving Bill Maher, John Stewart and Rachel Maddow their voice; emboldening their resolve with every barbaric diatribe that you spit in our faces. I thank their selective ignorance for spurring me to educate myself to be able to shut them and their minions down at a moment's notice. I have trained myself for years to stand up to their justifications and I too have found my voice. Thank you extreme Republicans, for you have stung us all awake from our slumber of generations.

Thank you Putin, Mubarak, Pope Ratzinger, the Castro Brothers, Kim Jong Il, Chavez, Ahmadinejad and all dictators of thought for pushing the opposition to fight harder every day to expose the truth, to fight for their freedom, no matter how many you killed or tortured; you never were able to completely cover the sun with your finger or your many and varied weapons. Thank you people of Egypt for inspiring the flames of hope for the rest of the Middle East and reminding us that no matter how many they shoot, they can never kill us all....that revolutions can still explode and not be contained.

We are certainly a divided America but we, the people are more activated and ready to fight than ever. Eventually the scale will tip, history is on our side. Injustices will not always reign and tipping points will be reached. The question is will it happen tomorrow or 4 more years from now?

I thank America for still being a place where telling the truth is not a cause for murder, imprisonment torture or death threats. Where anyone can research the truth enough to uncover the lies and corruption, expressing all without paying with their lives. The defenders of the truth; Bloggers, activists and journalists are still assassinated, tortured and imprisoned in parts of our world.

While there are so many threats to our freedoms; in this country we still have a voice to fight the opposers of progress. Every 4 years we can vote for who we feel best fights for this truth. When you do vote, don't vote for a party or what anyone tells you is right or wrong. When you are in that booth where no one can see you, vote for who your instinct tells you isn't lying to you just to allay your fears. Vote for who supports the truth and liberty that we thankfully still enjoy. Vote for who supports equal rights for all of us instead of dividing and degrading sections of our society.

In a time that feels as if the Tectonic plates are shifting, as if a megaquake is about to bust apart the world as we know it. It is crucial now more than ever, to hold on to our hope- that same hope that the religious right turned into a bad word as if it was something to be closeted and ashamed of having. If tomorrow we see the extremists take over our constitution, our bodies and probably throw us into a new war of their design, do not let go of the hope that we have carried and were repaid with a President that stood up for us. Do not give up that hope, for it just means that more of us need to get on the FlyWheel and start spinning, start spinning towards a new world we have all dreamt would come but will just take a little bit longer to materialize.

"Sometimes life has to break us to make us. It's just a bend and not the end. We're all a little bit like glow sticks, no matter how much we're bent and broken our light still shines." DeAndre Carswell

An entry from evangelists Oral Robert's gay son Randy Roberts Potts on Facebook-

randy roberts potts
32 minutes ago

Tomorrow I will vote for the first President of these United States to openly declare that I am an equal citizen deserving of equal rights under the law. He's a man who values the bond my husband and I made in New York, who values the stability marriage can provide for the three children we are raising under our roof, who believes that our right to visit each other in the hospital is a right and not a benefit, who values our service in the military, in the schools, as firemen, as police officers, enough to say that we deserve to pass on what we leave behind to the person we love the most. I am proud to vote for Barack Hussein Obama, the man with the "funny" name, the man with the darkest shade of skin ever to sit in the White House, a man who chose to be a community organizer on the "bad" side of town instead of cashing in on his degree from Harvard.

The argument that a gay man, a bi woman, a transgendered person could vote Republican this year for economic considerations is bogus -- my family, my husband and our three children, are my primary economic unit. For the first time in history, one party values this unit, welcomes it, encourages it, while the other pretends it doesn't even exist. Denial economics just doesn't make sense.

4 years ago, the choice for LGBT people might not have been quite as clear, and I value the work of groups like the Log Cabin Republicans because they are one of the main reasons the Republican party will change, and it will change, eventually. Even so, the LCRs lost a huge opportunity this year when they endorsed a man who has a miserable track record of over and over and over again, over many years, refusing to treat us as people deserving of dignity and respect.

 I am not a member of either party and I have friends, close friends, on both ends of the spectrum, but this year there I can't see any value in an LGBT person voting for a candidate and a party that openly, in its platform, in its robocalls, in its alliance with NOM, in its private statements, in its public statements, does not value us as full human beings capable of building families and contributing to society and serving in the military. Not when there is another party that openly declares its support for us.

If a candidate does not want your service, do not offer it.

 If you are a member of the Republican party, as I know many LGBT men and women are, remember John Milton's words, "they also serve who only stand and wait." It's a point of honor to push your party on this issue, to remind Republicans daily that you exist. It is also the most honorable service you could provide for your party to stand aside this year, to vote for a more deserving candidate, and wait.

And for all you Democrats out there, well kids, you've got it easy!

Tomorrow's going to be a big day for marriage equality. I'm on the edge of my seat, literally. We might lose in a couple states; we might not. We might reelect the first sitting President ever to come out for marriage equality, and then again, we might not. Tonight, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. ring as true as ever:

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream."

Now get out there and vote tomorrow and let's get on with that dream!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piece

Speaking to a fellow Cuban Democrat today he stopped and said I can’t talk about politics, my family is Republican and its useless and they get very angry. I wondered to myself since when do Democrats have a gag-order placed upon their mouths? Since when did intelligent debate become a bad thing?

Our country was founded upon democratic principles from ancient Greece where the beauty of debate at the Agora was a revered expression of intelligence and catalyst for progress. To debate calmly and intelligently using facts, only served to progress a society. False assumptions can be dispelled, incorrect facts can be clarified as lies. When we stop debating we cage our ideas however right or wrong, inside our minds and Democracy is as a result, degraded. When we don’t speak up they win, when we don’t call them out on their lies they win in rewriting reality to fit their version of it. So the next time a Republican starts to huff and puff and spew their lies forcing you to roll your eyes into acquiescence, stand up to their rants, debate intelligently ( is a good place to start) and calmly no matter how loud they scream out their fabrications. The fact of the matter is, they and their policies have never been so wrong in our country’s history. Their party irresponsibly dug us into this huge deficit, trickle-down economics don’t work and never have, deregulation of Wall Street and getting us into two expensive wars we should’ve never gotten into caused this great recession, they are NOT fiscally conservative especially when it comes to military spending, our country was founded by separation of Church and State, gay rights are human rights, banning abortion doesn’t stop abortions any more than prohibition stopped alcohol use, ignoring the need for universal health care only adds to our deficit by requiring coverage of uninsured through Medicare and bankrupts our citizens, we cannot continue to ignore the 12 million undocumented workers living in this country, nor can we deport them all.

Our president elect has been incredibly effective, more effective than any other president in my adult life. He stopped us from falling into a “depression” that by all accounts we were inevitably crashing into. Our recovery is happening and however shaky, things are better, even though the obstructionists have tried their hardest for him to fail. If you don’t believe it, look at Europe which is still reeling from and falling back into a recession.

It should never be just about Democrat or Republican, it should be about who has the best ideas and most intelligent vision of moving our country forward and right now, it happens to be a Democrat. When our country wins, we all win. If we are not united in that goal we all fail. So the next time a Republican tries to bully you into silence, stand up and say "You really don't have a leg to stand on, you voted for George Bush twice!"

It’s no longer about two different ways of dealing with our country’s issues, it’s about whether or not we move forward or go back to the same old ways that weren’t working and were definitely unsustainable.

And for the Cubans in Miami still loyal to the Republican party because of the Bay Of Pigs fracas, please move was a long time ago and it was never America’s responsibility to free Cuba! The Republican led embargo has done absolutely nothing to foment change for over 50 years and it’s high time for a “change” on how we look at Cuba. The “change” we need in this country is not going to come from any one leader as much as the “change” in how active we are with the state of our affairs.

In the words of President Obama- "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

 ...silence does nothing

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Saving Myself

I am shattered...These last several years of a recession have stripped me of all the things I thought I needed to be safe. A secure job, health insurance, income properties, 401K retirement fund, a loving partner- all gone in an instant. The dust has settled and I'm bare as the day I was born. I say goodbye to the world I thought I lived in, finally ready to shapeshift into a better, newer version of me. The next battle will be fought with my wits about me and in a battleground of my longer a banal corporate drone, I will pick a career not for a big paycheck or benefits but for a cause -something, anything that means more than just pushing-papers. My credit may be destroyed but like the honey badger I don't give a shit. The Credit Rating system is just another mechanism to control the masses and maintain debt slavery. I will do like the Germans and save and buy when I have the money on hand, if I don't have it, I won't. 

I'm at a crossroads but don't know which road to take to begin my "second act". I chose a secure job for the good salary and to feel secure, never able to be daring enough to be a starving artist, giving up all materialistic comforts to reach my true dream. I'm now ready to deal with that fear of not knowing where my next paycheck will come from and replacing it with knowing that I will create my own sense of security and "inner wealth".

On this Doomsday year, I stand ready and waiting to welcome the new world -for whatever it will be will be more true to me than the last one. A paradigm shift is happening before our eyes. The old ways are crumbling from the weight of their own unsustainability.

 The American Dream has AIDS and it's in urgent need of a blood transfusion, new ideas to revive its potential again. 

Adversity forces analysis of how one conducts their life and how one can do more with less. Necessity is the mother of invention- I will learn to do more with less. Living on a salary that is now 1/3 of my previous one means more eating in. My bicycle, pool and running outdoors = my new gym. Who needs health insurance when I can manage my own health. Meditation is free and more of it = no need for antidepressants. My talents brought to fruit will be my retirement fund. I will harbor no fear of being poor or not achieving the American Dream, for I already had it and I still wasn't happy. It was never enough. The new American Dream will be "My American Dream", custom fit to fill my needs, my definition of success. Who needs the Wizard of Oz, I will find my own yellow brick road to happiness. I will be own savior, my own wing-man. 

The Hopi indians believed you should not chase after happiness and success but to have the awareness that you are already happy and successful. To them it’s a state of mind, not a balance in a checking account. The Hopi saw the world alive and full of purpose. 

Instead of dwelling on my limitations or imperfections I will focus on the powers at my disposition to make a better world around me. My success will be measured by the number of smiles I can bring to others, and the happiness I share with my loved ones. I will channel my inner Buddha and guide myself on how true I stay to my inner "right or wrong" while staying true to my mission. I will be my own best friend first and second to my closest family and friends. My legacy will be how others remember me. What I will have are the good memories instilled in others which will live on with their spirit- for eternity. It's time to start asking ourselves what will our "after-life" be like? Fuck retirement  -I'm planning out which planets and undiscovered galaxies I will travel to in my afterlife. Like Prince sang, it's time to go a little crazy because "there's something else, the afterworld". 

Each one of us can be a revolution...we can all be revolutionaries to shape our world in a better form. When we give up, we relinquish that power.

Like the gay men fighting in an American mall earlier this year after being called faggotechoing the day the gays at the Stonewall finally had enough of the police abuse and fought back. The masses are awake and fighting longer resigned for a savior that never came and probably never will, the "second coming of Christ" is, I believe the Christ or God consciousness inside each of us, the awareness that we have the same power to fix things as a God, demigod or whatever you choose to call it.

"Come to the edge, He said. They said, We are afraid. Come to the edge, He said. They came. He pushed them...and they flew." Apollinaire

We are being pushed to our edges globally in every nation and we are not going to keep quiet anymore..."the hungry will only stay hungry for so long". Occupy movement, Anonymous hacktivists, Susan Komen uproar over cutting Planned Parenthood, self immolations in Tibet, mass unprecedented protests in Russia, the Arab Spring; the examples are popping up everywhere like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Activism and communication of injustice is at an all-time high with many times, quick resolutions as fast as the internet can carry them- ending the injustice, once revealed. 

I choose now to be savior of myself, to mirror God's potential as much as I can dare to believe. I will be my own personal hero, turning myself whatever I want to be. I am swimming in the infinite ocean of possibility, lighter now, having shed my tattered carcass of humility. I serve no one by lowering my head to others. I am proud, I am strong, this is my revelation.

The universe is a democracy a cooperative commonwealth. What we are now witnessing and living is a "pornocracy". Our leaders have sold themselves to the highest bidder to hold on to their warped, greedy version of the American Dream. Greed is no longer good. 

I am one of millions who have finally been freed of most of the trappings of capitalism that were wearing down our very essence. Stressing every day to maintain it all was barring the masses from being in the moment. Sure, we had the best toys and coulf afford vacations with healthy doses of socializing amongst friends but our minds were always cheating on our true selves, the secret, closeted heroic version of yourself that you keep in a vault in your mind. That guy that would one day come out and kick life's ass, and wear it's balls around his neck as a trophy! For too long, we've been racking our minds, balancing money and bills on a see-saw in our heads, feeding a false sense of getting close to the ever fleeting golden fleece of success. Stripped of all of these capitalistic accessories, we are now forced to re-evaluate the concept of "success" and how a person values himself in America of today. I believe the old American Dream is being incinerated before our eyes. Glowing-red, wispy embers from a forest fire falling softly to the ground. The embers of the old America fertilizing a completely new, reconstructed, sustainable American Dream, where humanity is paramount and finances are not.

Unemployment, not paying your bills, collectors blowing up your phone, whatever it is your feeling that is keeping you down, feeling innadequate, unloved, undervalued or underappreciated...just "shake it out" and believe you are worth more than a paycheck, or whatever assault to your self esteem from outside forces..shake it out...let it roll off your shoulder, believe the revelations will come and you WILL find a new way to live. You will find a new way to get "unstuck"...eventually. Savor the process.

"Break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart. You stop feeding on the love, which is the wellspring of your vitality. The time has come. Your time. To live. To celebrate, and to see the goodness that you are. Do not fight the dark. Just turn on the light. Let go, and breathe." -Swami Kripalu

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling 

If you need help walking this new path alone-here's a great post to read. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

To the Dreamers that Keep the Dreams Alive

Below is a repost from over 3 years ago when Where the Wild Things Are was about to be released in theaters and while it turned out to be a lot more melancholic and sad than I remembered in my childhood, the story still had that "magic", that eternal magic that never gets old and slices through generations. It's that same alchemy of words that all writers only dream of manifesting and harnessing at their whim in order to infuse it into their stories for a hopefully, strange kind of immortality. To be remembered for your stories, for your mind's fancies to delight generations of children for decades after you pass. Being a writer myself, that is the greatest reward, greater than any book commission or literary award. For the joy and wonder you create to be held so dear that you or your stories are not forgotten.

Upon the recent death of Maurice Sendak, I discovered many more intimate details about the man and spinner of tales that I ever knew. It made my love for him and his work increase on more profound levels as an adult than the love I had for him in my childhood. He and his family were holocaust survivors, the "hairy yet sad monsters" in Where the Wild Things Are, were imaginations based on his aunt and uncle whom loved him dearly but whom he, as a child only saw as larger than life and always wanting to smother him with kisses. He illustrated all his stories, which were always so endearing to me. The biggest surprise of all was that he was gay and lived with his partner for over 50 years. Being a child of a Polish-Jewish family made it hard for him to come out. Although, being a hugely successful writer, he too suffered from thinking he was never good enough.

So I tip my hat to you Sir Maurice, for improving the world in some tangible way. This author of children's literature born on the same day as Mickey Mouse has done just that. His magic-weaving has left me an improved person, even now as a 42 year old man with a child's heart that still remembers how his stories helped me to avoid despair and survive a difficult childhood. As he drew inspiration from other writer's and Disney's Fantasia, I have also drawn inspiration from his vision of a world not so far away.

G'bye Maurice- May your stories haunt and add wonder to our lives for years after your death.

Original Post from 10-19-2009

Take a deep breath, expand your belly with oxygen until it's full, close your eyes and think back for a moment when you were a child and how you would believe any fantastical story your siblings or friends would tell you. It was a moment of pure freedom -leaving you gasping for more. You would envision the stories in your mind and take them to your bed at night and dream the dreams that were planted in your head. I couldn't wait to get to bed to begin my new journey each night. At a young age, I was blessed to have 3 very creative siblings and a very large backyard with horses, roosters, chickens and many, many fruit trees, complete with our very own tree house. A virtual Garden of Eden for kids to roam free. In that playground, our minds were blown open to wander and wonder on anything that came to our heads. One day, we would hear stories of my eldest sister Lisa taking a ride in Wonder Woman's invisible airplane and swing on Spiderman's web over skyscrapers and the next, we would all be possessed tree-zombies on a mission to take our youngest sister, Maggie down to the depths of tree-zombie-landia. Every week was a new mission and story to play out. My favorite time was my time alone in the farthest corner of my yard that abutted a large vacant lot...the wildest, most desolate space I could access at my limited age.

There in my created reality, I would talk to God and stand on a stump, trying to bribe God with good deeds to enable me to fly. I wanted it so badly I would eagerly help my bewildered mom with all the chores and even cease bothering my younger sister for a week to see if that would finally get me my golden ticket to the sky and worlds beyond my home. I would run and jump and feel very light for seconds but never was able to fly in the same way I did in my dreams. Nothing matched the grandeur and lightness of being as in my dream-flights.

My body was dreadfully earthbound but I never stopped dreaming and now 30 years later I finally feel that magic spark inside again stronger than ever. I feel we are entering a time where the masses are beginning to leave fear and negativity behind and start to think about wondrous things beyond what we know, beyond the mundane limits of the prison of "logical thinking". I dream for a time where we can be a little illogical and loose and a little more connected to the "wild" and "where the wild things are". To rebuild our connection to Mother Earth who has been neglected for so long. To think less about mortgages, life insurance, job security and more about bugs, salamanders, M&M's, doodling and tree forts.

If there is any one thing that I believe most in this life is of the endless possibilites for wondrous and wonderful things out there and regardless if you call them myths, parnormal events, illusions, hallucinations, figments of our imagination or whatever; the names you give them do not diminish or destroy them. It only limits who are the ones that get to see and enjoy their soul-enriching beauty leaving us in awe at how small our dogmas, political, religious and economic systems are in the grander scheme of the universe and unknown number of dimensions.

I dedicate this blog to the Dreamers, the Believers, the one's that keep the possibilities of other worlds alive, enriching ours all the more. The Maurice Sendak's, Walt Disney's, J.M. Barrie's, Lewis Carrol's, Guillermo Del Toro's, Pixar Studios, Dreamworks', my personal muse -Grettel, would all leave our world bland and tasteless were it not for their eccentric musings and vision. They've given us permission to dream and to take a ride back to our youth when we were more closely aligned to the spirit world and the endless possibilities of the dreams we dare to dream, enabling us to forget how taboo it is to believe in things not yet proven.

Square away some time to take a camping trip to your nearest forest, build a fire (carefully), make up stories to tell your family and allow yourself to think when you look into the darkness that fantabulously-fun creatures ARE out there just waiting to play.

In the words of the great Maurice Sendak; "Inside all of us is ADVENTURE."


Dreamers creating a dream in the streets of Chile:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

End the broken Cuban Embargo Now- Never Worked-Never Will

If this "Great Recession" has taught us anything, it is that these crises occur from the need for us to stop what we are doing wrong and bring about a time of self analysis to eventually and hopefully let go of the systems or structures that are no longer sustainable or working for us.

As is evidenced in the recent Susan G Komen VP's resignation, the million signature petition to oust Scott Walker and the firing of right wing extremist Pat Buchanan from MSNBC, the voices of the moderate, liberal Americans have finally gotten louder than the small group of right wing extremists in this country. A majority of Americans are calling for a more progressive, future-minded America with less waste, debt slavery, and more sustainability, less reliance on fossil fuels or foreign oil and foreign policies that do not bully other countries into doing what we tell them to do.

As Iraq and Afghanistan has shown us, we can no longer afford to be the policemen of the world. We need to turn our focus towards our own country; it's strapped educational system, our citizens' access to affordable health care, preventing the disappearance of the middle class, relying less on foreign oil and the elephant in the room, decreasing our looming deficit. 

We have a long way to go to complete this "house-cleaning" process and in the end we will be on the path to a truly progressive, contemporary and evolved society that is sustainable for generations to come.

The U.S. embargo on Cuba is a gas guzzling, 1959 Studebaker and yet another cantankerous, nonfunctioning system that must be shed in order to progress towards a brighter future for all. Agression begets aggression, fear begets fear and an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. We must break this template of suffering and agression that our history has been pockmarked with and progress towards a more harmonious and cooperative future. This failed foreign policy has done nothing but kill jobs, insulate the country, giving the regime an excuse for all it's malaise, and only serves to please the small group of Republican Cubans in Miami that support the embargo for their own emotionally-laden and illogical reasons. Like a child that has his toy taken away, they object to anyone else playing with their toy if they can't. Democratic Cubans want to end the embargo but they have never raised their voice in Miami for fear of societal reprisals or being accused of being gasp, "Communist". Since the Cubans that are the most powerful in Miami are the one's carrying the biggest sticks, the others don't speak up, quietly rolling their eyes, waiting for their obsession with Fidel and their tired family feud to end.

The world has changed much since it's inception in 1960 over 50 years ago. As far back as 1975, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy urged the U.S. government to lift the embargo and normalize relations with Cuba. "I believe the idea of isolating Cuba was a mistake," says Kennedy. "It has been ineffective. Whatever the reasons and justifications may have been at the time, now they are invalid." Now 37 years after Kennedy proclaimed it a dead policy, I, a Cuban-American, son of Cuban immigrants call for this sczherade of a policy to end.

This policy has not only been completely ineffective at removing the regime, it has in fact been the main factor in keeping it in power, allowing the regime to use it as a blanket excuse for all it's malaise much in the same way conservatives in this country blame it's troubles on the gay or immigrant communities. It's as if the few supporters left of this embargo were hired as double agents to do the regime's bidding. The only thing the policy has been effective at has been to discredit the United States and give evidence to our detractors that we are practicing, card-carrying imperialists. This embargo has fertilized the egg that gave birth to other radical anti-American leaders in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia as well as Iran

I want not only other Cuban-Americans to experience the island, but other Americans to experience my country and realize what it means to be hispanic or latino living in the U.S. and missing home. They will finally see why we cling to our culture, why we still sing the songs from our past and all the dated stereotypes of what a latino is will melt away in one visit. These Americans would see a mirror in this country that has fallen from grace, while our own country is still recovering from it's own fall from grace. 

The problem with debating this is similar to the debates raging in this country, the ones debating are not informed enough to fight the status quo or the ones that are screaming the loudest. I urge you to research the topic from both sides; for even the flattest pancake has two sides. Become informed so you can come up with your own conclusions. Compare this policy with others worldwide. Has there ever been an embargo lasting this long on any country? Has this policy done any good? Is it hurting more than helping? Is it time for all parties to sit down and come to a new kind of policy or intelligent debate? 

I imagine a day when this inane embargo would be gone and two vibrant sister cities of Miami and Havana working in synchronicity for each other's growth and vibrance. Miami is a modern day Havana, missing it's elegant mother from which she mirrored her spirit and sex appeal after. Miami's mother has been secreted and locked away in a bitter, dark and cold corner where no one else can enjoy her beauty. 

The older generation of Cubans have wrapped her in a didactic burka of poor judgement, envy and non-democratic foreign policy.

I want to open this discourse from private meetings of U.S. President's with Miami's Cuban elite to all citizens to make a decision on what is right for Florida's closest neighbor. This "Cuban issue" has been used as a pawn to gain votes by so many political hopefuls seeking to win Florida. The ones that have suffered are the Cubans in Cuba stuck with a regime that is isolated without any hope of revolt or access to any kind of weapons to do so. The Cubans living in the U.S. also suffer by being required to send constant remittances to support their families and keep them away from malnourishment or illness. They yearn to be able to visit their homeland without limits and share their heritage with their children. 

Americans and Cubans on the island are held hostage while this eternally long chess game is played out and a nation of over 11 million people across the Florida Straits are left with nothing but isolation from us. If it isn't a child's fault they were born in a communist country like Cuba, is it right for our policies to play a part in that child's suffering? A free and democratic country's right on whether or not it's citizens can do business, generate jobs, or simply travel to that beautiful island cannot and should never have been up to a small group of powerful individuals who claim to own that land. That land as with any land, is for ALL to enjoy.

We do not live in Wonderland where the Red Queen can dictate to her kingdom where her subjects can or cannot travel.

This is a democracy and as such, we Americans should be able to begin business, trade and tourism with Cuba at a time when jobs are so desperately needed. Sister cities nourishing and strengthening each other's economy's, creating thousands of much-needed jobs. If you believe this is a democratic right as strongly as I do, please sign this petition to end this failed foreign policy of more than 50 years by clicking the red button at the end of this blog.

The United Nations voted unanimously yet again in October of 2011, to denounce the Cuban embargo and it's old-Cold War policy of intervention. The votes were 186-2. The two countries that said no were of no surprise; U.S. and Israel. This same vote to end the embargo by the United Nations' General Assembly has occurred consecutively and unbelievably for the last 20 years! This siege is not right, it never was and now it is blatantly obvious and only serves to cause animosity between the two countries instead of mutual cooperation. The supporters of the embargo would say, "you cannot do business with that government.". To that I reply, we already are. America has special trade agreements already in place that create large profits for our country to the tune of up to 711 million dollars since 1992 and that's just for medicine and some agricultural trade. Imagine the potential for commerce if the trade restrictions were completely lifted. It would far surpass the billions.

As recent as January of 2011, Obama reversed Bush's ineffective tightening of the Embargo and reinstated the rights of Americans to send remittances to struggling families and opened up travel restrictions, to certain special groups of Americans. He cut short from eliminating the crusty old mess of a policy due to the objections of one Republican; Ileana Ros Lehtinen whom has consistently been a biased puppet for the select few power-Cubans in Miami. Her lack of vision and creativity for a new strategy has been a blockade since 1989 to any progress for removing this failed policy. It is a comedy of errors that she is also a strong supporter of the Church of Scientology and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Do we really want someone that gives validity to Scientology as the chairman of our Committee on Foreign Affairs? Cuba has recently made a large, sweeping gesture to the United States to normalize relations by releasing over 2500 political prisoners late last year. However, like Israel and the Palestinians, it never seems to be enough for the Embargo supporters to release their iron grip on the past, ever fearing any future where they cannot punish their enemies instead of trying to find a middle ground and finally making an agreement.

One surprisingly realistic declaration from within her ranks came in 2008, when Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spelled out a proper policy regarding Cuba: "The United States should allow its citizens to travel and trade with whomever they want. Not only would that be the right thing to do for Americans, it would do far more to bring freedom to Cubans."

I want to take my nieces and nephews on a cathartic field trip to discover what their heritage is without fear of being arrested or fined by U.S. customs agents. I want them to know what it feels like to ride a horse to the top of the Pinar Del Rio's low mountains and view the foggy, green valley below and on the way down feel the spirit cleansing waterfalls of Soroa on their skin. I want them to know the tenderness of the Cuban people and how they taught me to appreciate all the opportunities in America through their positivity and sense of humor; in spite of all their extreme limitations. How a mother and daughter eating rice and beans under a bare light bulb taught me what true generosity was by inviting me in their home to share the little they had to eat with me. We are all missing out on so many wonderful and life-changing experiences that this enchanting island has to offer and the Cubans are missing out on all the wonders of America and it's dynamic and modern culture.

The world has changed and just because we can't get our way doesn't mean the rest of us have to agree with your mentality or go to jail. Americans are free to go to China where human rights abuses are violated daily. Tibetan priests are burning themselves alive to liberate themselves from China's unjust rule of their country but yet Cuba who is only 90 miles away is forbidden for us to visit.

Yes, Cuba has violated human rights and there is room for improvement but so has our government. All governments are a work in progress. Aren't our citizen's rights violated when they are pepper sprayed in the face and arrested for peacefully protesting in a peaceful Occupy demonstration? Aren't they political prisoners as well with their only crime being in protesting the way our government and economy is victimizing them? Aren't our LGBT youth committing suicide by the hundreds as a result of the dehumanizing attacks of the religious right in this country? The United Nations recently sent a harshly worded communication to our government over the apparent human rights abuses of our Occupy Protesters. Should Europe and China put economic embargoes on our country for these human rights abuses? Our policies on either side can only be improved through discourse and exchange of ideas, not from isolation. Isolation equals polarization. The more we exchange ideas the more we can realize our greatest fears are exaggerated illusions of the truth. 

"We live in a sphere where nothing really gets out. The masses now understand that nothing less than global cooperation and shared consciousness of our interconnectedness, will bring solutions to our society's multitude of ills. This and only this will eventually give birth to peace and a sustainable balance with our Earth's finite resources" 
Do you think Cuba would be more apt to violate human rights with more tourists and foreigners visiting, living and doing business within her borders? Do you think her isolation could be controlled with the flood of technology flooding her land and finally giving it's citizens free access to the internet. Her isolation is her greatest ally, allowing the country to get away with holding back the spread of modern technology and thus, the interchange of ideas. Just like Fox news tries to steer Americans by tweaking the truth, "if you control the information, you control the people". Only difference is, we have a choice of where we can get our information, the Cuban people don't. The greatest thing we can export to Cuba after the embargo ends would be our way of life, our technology, our latest toys. Communism would take an instant back seat to the latest Iphone or Playstation.

This petition is also for our president-elect, Obama to finally end this remnant of the Cold War by not approving the extension of the U.S. Embargo in September of this year.

Will you simply adopt and carry someone elses point of view on the matter or take the time to educate yourself on the matter and make up your own mind?
Help make history by signing this petition and finally free two countries from this tragic, 50 year old dance that has separated and hurt so many families. 

Recent Stern article calling for lifting of the embargo.

Another article written by a Cuban supporting the end of the US Embargo.

Havana's Biennial of Contemporary Art this year hosts a bevvy of American art and highlights a cultural reason for increased interchange between our countries.

U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton calls for an end to the embargo.

A historical time line of the do-nothing, job-killing, dictator-sheltering, Cuban embargo.