Saturday, July 30, 2016

I've Decided on a Future of Joy, Hope and Happiness

I have the privilege of authoring a blog over at The Times of Israel, where I continue to write about special needs and parenting on the autism spectrum. Following is my latest blog. I am writing about the three week period of mourning prior to, and about, the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'av; what it is and what it means to me considering the year I have just lived through. I hope what I wrote speaks to you, no matter your faith, creed or ethnicity.

I've Decided on a Future of Joy, Hope and Happiness.





Sunday, July 24, 2016

No this doesn't make me feel better...

By now you have heard about the behavioral therapist in Miami shot by police, when the police had decided that an autistic man with a toy train was a threat to public safety. After the therapist was shot, the officer issued a statement saying that they were not aiming at the black therapist but the Hispanic autistic. I am sure that they issued that statement to try to squelch any public outcry from those in the Black Lives Matter Movement (and yes I am assuming this), but  tell me how this realization is  supposed to make a parent of an autistic person feel better?

According to the Ruderman Foundation the majority of persons shot by police in the US either have mental health or developmental issues. HERE  The truth is that police departments across the nation are wholly and inadequately prepared to deal with these issues that they confront every day.  The one main job that the police are supposed to do is provide public safety; they are not psychiatrists, social workers, or therapists. However with the lack of proper care and support throughout the mental health system, police departments have become the defacto go to professionals of first contact. In essence, we expect our police to do jobs that they are not trained to do.

Now does that excuse the police? Absolutely not. And I say this not simply because I am the parent of two youngmen on the autism spectrum, but because  the police are given the mantle of trust by the community. This basically behooves police departments to fix their own ignorance, knowing that they are the responsible party of first-contact. Is it fair? No its not, but police also ask for this job. Nobody forces them "to protect and serve," but while we honor their service, it has to be understood that their service comes with modern responsibilities.  Here is a list of police training programs geared towards understanding autism.

So what do we do in the meantime?

The boys wear medic alert necklaces, which detail their diagnoses and medicine. Of course, that only works if the police get close enough to see them.  The alert necklaces also won't be of any help if the boys are shot by the police if they reach for their necklaces while alerting the officers to their disabilities. We have the same issue with cards in their wallets, detailing their diagnoses, or the medical information in their iPhones. These security measures only help if they can access it to show the police, without the police taking their movements the wrong way.

We do know that the police are trained to recognize when a suspect is lying. The most important aspect is that someone doesn't look them in the eye, or they fidget too much. This scenario plays over and over in my head, because not only do the boys not always look you in the eye, but they both fidget, get nervous from anxiety, and come off rude and disrespectful when their anxiety ratchets itself up. So not a great scenario. We do teach them to be respectful to the police. We emphasize that if they are ever stopped to do just as they are told, with no back talk or sass. But of course, being who they are, new and frustrating situations don't always play out as they should.

Now we used to console ourselves that at least, since they generally have the para with them in public, if they got into any trouble with a policeman, then the para could help them through the situation. Considering the police just shot the therapist in Miami, while he was laying on the ground with his hands up, our pie-in-the-sky-theory no longer holds up.

Do I think that the situation in Miami unfolded the way it did because the people involved were persons of color? Perhaps, perhaps not. There was the recent tragedy where a young transgendered man with aspergers was  shot and killed by police during a meltdown, who was white. And yes he had a knife in his hand, but in another, better world, the police would have been taught how to handle the situation without lethal force. And no, I do not believe that police lives matter less, in fact I wholly believe, Blue Lives Matter alot, but they also don't matter more than the people they are supposed to help, like my autistic sons.

So no, I don't have an answer. I thought I did. But life teaches you many lessons, not the least of which is that "but for the grace of God, go I."

And with that, hubby and I have found another reason to not sleep well at night.







Friday, July 1, 2016

In Congress, July 4, 1776...Happy Fourth of July 2016








IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
John Hancock
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton




Reasons to Love the USA

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
*****

We are at a great crossroads in our nation’s history. It’s not about the amount of taxation and the ineptitude of the government. That can be changed with the power of the vote and honest elections. Our issues lie in the fact that too many in our nation take for granted the guarantees within the Bill of Rights and the Constitution without truly understanding them. Remember... our rights given by nature and nature’s God.

It is time that We The People understand once again our responsibilities as citizens of a free country and demand that our government adhere to the Constitutional principles that they have so casually desecrated.

Freedom and the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God (originally posted May 9, 2014)

…Our rights come not from other men, but from an omnipotent all-powerful ruler of the universe who has decreed right from wrong, good from bad, justice from evil. No one human being can deny another these rights. Hence, the usurpation of these rights is a just cause for revolt against your government, ruler or liege lord….

What happens when rights are not given by virtue of existence, but with the largesse of the political class? These rights then are not rights as delineated in the US Constitution (Bill of Rights), which as rights cannot be taken away and can only be denied under a limited scope of governmental authority. In fact, rights that come down to us by virtue of the good will of a ruler are not real rights at all, but a grant of favor by a dictatorial government. As long as you stay in good stead with the power elite then you are entitled to your humanity. But as soon as you cross that threshold of noncompliance with these overseers, then your rights, property and even your life become forfeit.

Moreover, to actually believe that mankind itself defines the ultimate reality in the Universe is the modern hubris of a limited, vacuous mind and an outreach of malignant egos. To say that in the vastness that is the Universe humankind is the epitome of what can and does direct TIME itself calls into play the rationality and sanity of the purveyors of a God-less world. It does not even have to be about an Omnipotent being as much as it is about Nature and the power of the Universe and the acknowledgement of the unknown.

To say that there is no deity above ourselves is to give ourselves the moniker of almighty God. We can now decide what is right, wrong, good, bad, justice and evil. We, the human beings of this world, are now the sole masters of all that is before us without boundary, limit or consequence. To say that God is an anachronism and that humanity is above the immutable forces that have created the galaxy, is to advance upon the human race powers that belie the mortal human being.

When we turn from the concept of something, or someone, greater than ourselves, we have no rights beyond that which we bargain for within the context of our daily lives. Life becomes a merchants market, a bazaar of old. Where for  the right argument, and the proper coin, you can buy yourself freedom for the time being. If you are lucky enough to be allowed manumission at all.

In such a world, our rights are defined by those in control of the world, rather than rights being defined by those that live in the world. Therefore, if you believe that humans are born free and that it is only mankind that created the chains of slavery, real or virtual, the concept of giving your self-worth to those who are devoid of righteousness, or honor, those who convolute democratic action with obsequiousness, demands an act of revolution. However, in the end, you need the foundation by which to challenge your servitude when you live in a world of political class tyranny, oligarchical triumphalism and identity tribalism. Therefore, you need Nature and Nature’s God. You need to understand that your humanity, your freedom, your existence is yours by right and not something you need to bargain for against an evil specter.

That foundation of the right to freedom comes from the acknowledgement that all within humanity have rights inherent in their humanity. Given to them by their uniqueness as unique individuals. It is Nature, and Nature’s God, that defines these rights so necessary for society to flourish, grow and develop. The right to proceed with your own existence and humanness in a way that is both beneficial to the self and society becomes the task of the free person and those free enough to think that it can and must be done.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanbeings throughout history have perverted the gift of choice and thought that they were given by the Universe.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanbeings revert into barbarism and decadence when given freedom. It is that same human weakness that causes mankind to destroy itself and then ask to be relieved of all responsibility for the choices made.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humans throughout history prefer an infantile existence of dependency and supplication to the hard work inherent in the existence of free expression and self-governance.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humans have allowed themselves to be led by the inadequate, the cruel and the profoundly evil.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that when confronted with evil’s challenge, most times throughout history humanity has faltered, in the end thereby losing all that it means to be human.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanity perverted Nature’s message in order to enslave, dehumanize and destroy other humanbeings.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that it is easier to invoke the yoke of tyranny than it is to travel the path of Nature’s truth.

Responsibility for ones actions, distancing yourself from a scapegoat and taking the reigns to an uncertain future is frightening. On the other hand,  it is a sign of profound weakness to cower in the dark, allowing others to decide your fate, your reality and your worth. It is sheer cowardice to succumb to the fear of the unknown and allow your children to be enslaved because of your own ineptness.

We learn that democracies are the rarest form of government in the history of human kind. For each democracy born was short-lived, either due to corruption, mendacious leaders or complicity in the destruction of that with which we are endowed by the virtue of the human soul. Humans allowed fear to win over freedom. Humans allowed fear to win over individuality. Humans allowed the political classes to declare themselves above Nature and Nature’s God. Humans allowed the political class to manipulate the true blessings of Nature and Nature’s God in exchange for bread and circuses and life without responsibility.

Those who wish to make a Godless society, those that wish to deny Nature’s blessings upon humankind are the enemy of freedom, of liberty and justice. Those that decide that our rights come from the will of a self-perpetuating narcissistic ruling class rather than the exigencies of humanity’s right to existence are the enemies of a free people.

Those who presuppose that they are more powerful than the Universe run roughshod over humanity’s inherent rights. Those that denigrate the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, denigrate our greatest gift. Be careful of those that put themselves above the wonders of the Universe. For they will laud themselves over you, making of themselves a new deity while decrying the freedoms we hold so dear.

*****

I wanted to wish everyone a joyous Independence Day. Let us not forget those that sacrificed so much so that we, their posterity, would enjoy the freedoms to which we are entitled under the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. By the way, just one of those obnoxious asides, the vote on the Independence Resolution, aka the Lee Resolution, actually took place on July 2, 1776. The Declaration was not read to the public until July 4, which is why July 4th is the day that we celebrate our Independence.