Psychology of Historical/Social Perception….

I find it somewhat interesting that many of the distressful posts about the Zimmerman/Martin incident are from white folks. Yes, these sorts of tragedies occur everyday. If anything, this trial should make us “uncomfortable” that in the 21st Century, we still have a psychology of historical and social perception that divides us more than any government or media outlet could ever do. 

I am reminded of my time as a public safety communications officer for a local college/university here in Florida. On occasion, I would get complaint calls from various neighbors in the area about “suspicious people” in the adjacent area. After obtaining a general description of the individual(s) of concern (many times matching the physical aspects of college/university students in general), my next question was usually, “Well, what are they doing that is suspicious?” The responses generally resolved around generalized assumptions that college students walking around a given area were automatically and obviously guilty of some general crime. And yes, the responding law enforcement units would 9/10 advise me, after engaging in an investigation, of an unfounded report (nothing suspicious from a legal standpoint in the area). 

I also see a lot of negativity directed toward the jurors, the judge, and/or the prosecution/defense teams. In my opinion, they went with what they had from a circumstantial evidence standpoint, and a questionable (if not sloppy) investigative procedure. In regards to the jurors, I will admit that I had followed the case casually, but from my opinion, their verdict highlighted a basic foundation of our criminal justice/legal system: every one of those ladies could have said, “we THINK/FEEL that he did it, but if the evidence doesn’t support that view, we have no choice but to acquit him.” This core viewpoint has the capacity to damn you, and/or to save you — as it has damned and/or saved others throughout judicial history.

As I drove past the numerous exits for Sanford on I-4 on my way to Georgia this weekend, I could feel a different “vibe” in the area. Can this “vibe” cause an immediate catharsis in not only the South, but in the nation? Who knows….. but, to me, it’s a pretty strong reminder that we — and I — have to do/perceive better if we want to actually be better, more civilized, more compassionate, more logical, more “common sense” people; or, do we want to continue speeding towards the off-ramp of Rome, Greece, the Ottomans, and every other great civilization throughout history? One way or the other, we’ll find out… 


The Boston Tragedy: Where Do We Go From Here?

1.)  State versus Federal Jurisdiction:  I’m no intelligence/national and foreign security expert by any means, but the Boston Marathon tragedy appears to be a textbook example of domestic terrorism.  If Massachusetts wants to initiate criminal legal proceedings on its own, then by all intentions and rights, the Commonwealth should be allowed to do so.

However, federal jurisprudence and authority will most likely supersede/intertwine with the Massachusetts legal system for, in my opinion, obvious and broader reasons/implications.  Let’s not forget that the Chinese legal system must be factored in along the way as well.

2.)  Interrogation Proceedings:  I’ve already noticed one post advocating for the use of torture on the suspect to forceably-seize whatever information he has/may have.  Given his obvious medical and psychological disposition presently, good luck with that….  For the record, I am not a terrorist sympathizer, and I want answers to a whole spectrum of questions (for one, again, how a seemingly normal and popular 19 year old morphs from American citizen to crazed terrorist overnight).  However, as common sense and history have illustrated — and bipartisan politics has recently discovered (re:  the Task Force on Detainee Treatment convened by The Constitution Project) — torture is not very reliable or effective in regards to obtaining solid, credible information (“50/50” at best, and that’s being very generous), but it IS very reliable and effective on how it endangers our military and intelligence personnel overseas and nationally.

This is why I advocate for enhanced/psychological interrogation to be considerably more effective in obtaining the “who-what-where-when-how-and why” of those numerous questions that we as a national and global community need answers to.  I am going to theorize that the suspect’s older brother made the arrogant choice to subscribe to currently-unknown extremist/terrorist cell ideologies (hence the highlight of caution in reference to global military/intelligence aspects), and he was able to influence/brainwash his younger brother overall.  Let’s be crystal clear:  I’m NOT making excuses for anyone, but given what we publicly know about both suspects, this is certainly realistic to assume at the moment.

Regardless, I trust that the personnel responsible for these limited interrogation proceedings will break/deprogram/psychoanalyze/connect the necessary dots/answer the critical questions that need to be answered.  In my opinion, from a psychological vantage-point, allowing the suspect’s mother to have access to her son is a beginning and clear step in the right direction.

The Boston Marathon Tragedy: Reflections and Rantings on the Past Week

A truly heartfelt THANK YOU and WELL DONE to the numerous local, state, and federal public safety/law enforcement agencies and governments for all they have done, and for what they will now need to accomplish over the next few days, weeks, months, and years.

However (forgive me for the rant)….over the past few days, what’s been more disgusting and horrible than this whole tragedy combined are the soap opera style conspiracy theories that have been surfacing over social media like bad movie scripts that would make even Rush Limbaugh blush. I get it….some people hate the government at all levels….some people really, really, really hate the President and the Governor of MA and the Mayor of Boston….some people thrive on their stereotype and generalization addiction and eagerly look for their next “fix” wherever and whenever possible (those of us from the Caucasian persuasion should probably remember that when we are throwing rocks, our national glass house has plenty of extra closet space…) ….some people truly believe that Boston somehow deserved this because of its location in New England and its more Democratic leanings. Fascinating…tell me more….

Counting to ten, taking a few deep breaths, and getting my blood pressure down…the common sense logical response to the illogical is this: If this whole incident was a grandiose staged movie, just like Newtown was staged and all those little kids and their educators/administrators are on some secret island somewhere, then please, by all means, prove it! While you’re at it, also prove that the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas wasn’t a mass conspiracy planned and carried out by the state government, and better yet, prove to me without a responsible doubt that the Founding Fathers didn’t secretly pay the British to start the Revolutionary War, and that President Lincoln didn’t pay off Jefferson Davis to start the Confederate States of America and the Civil War because, well…he was bored. Do I sound absolutely crazy? Do some of you want to punch me in the face? Good!

Common sense, fundamental SANITY, and basic instinctual human compassion — mixed with a healthy dose of history, psychology, and sociology — tell us that mass tragedy in this country isn’t/shouldn’t be a normal occurrence, and when it happens, it simply cannot be processed, conceived, and perceived as realistic. How can these things possibly happen here?? They can’t, ergo, Perpetrator X, Y, and W did it! I have no proof of this other than my vast imagination being fed by various extremist sources, but what the hell….who else agrees with me? You do?? Awesome, let the games begin!! But, I digress….

Ask the victims of these horrible circumstances, not only here in the United States, but throughout the world as well, if they are all characters on a movie set. That if someone doesn’t see every single personal/private detail on TV/social media outlets, if maybe the media isn’t 100% accurate on every single detail (this is an obvious time/space/life reality for ALL media, not just the “lame stream” variety…), if he/she hasn’t personally experienced what is going on, then c’mon, obviously it’s faked and it never happened…. The worst and ignorant of human nature personified….

Secondly, in regards to the suspects: I understand the human desire, reaction, and action for revenge and anger and justice, and believe me, I can sympathize. However….maybe I am naive….maybe I can’t relate because I am not there physically….maybe I foolishly try to remain compassionate at times when it’s not a social norm to be compassionate….maybe I’m just interested in how criminology and psychology and philosophy and other areas function on the grand scale….maybe I’m just being me….but I’m glad the younger suspect was taken into custody alive. I truly don’t believe that these two individuals woke up one day after spending as much time here as they have, and just decided to do what they did. It doesn’t make sense, and I know there is much, much more to the story. EVERYONE needs to know the who, what, when, where, how, and most importantly, the WHY, of this entire situation for the sake of closure, because it’s crucial overall, and maybe somehow, in a weird way, knowledge accompanies the strength of grieving. As humans, we need to do this. If you set a bag on fire without knowing what the contents of the bag are, you will wonder on some level what was in the bag, and what you burned in the ashes….

Another thing that I’ve noticed about America is, no matter how bad and how dark things get, the “light” in someone, somewhere, somehow always surfaces…in some random thought, word, and/or deed. This is one of the essential secrets for understanding and surviving in this country, and yes, for loving this diverse, crazy, and amazing nation…. We will survive….we will prevail….we will strive to find common sense in the common insensible….

Prior Thoughts on the President in Reference to the 2nd Amendment and Tyranny

Sometimes I really hate to have to state the obvious, but for the sake of common sense, here it goes:

1.) Dislike the President on policy all you want, the man is a CONSTITUTIONAL LAW scholar/professor who graduated from Harvard Law School. Anyone that knows the assorted history of Harvard knows that, no, he didn’t just walk up to the Harvard Admissions Office and say, “Hi, I’m black, give me a law degree.” He actually had to work much, much harder to EARN that degree than many of his fellow elitist Caucasian colleagues. There, I said it…..

With that said, I’m willing to bet that the President is pretty familiar with the scope of the 2nd Amendment overall. Gone are the days when everyone in this country was on an equal playing field in terms of weaponry. If certain individuals actually studied what he’s proposing both as Executive Actions and Congressional legislative considerations, they’re pretty routine and common sense. No, the President isn’t King George III, or Adolph Hitler, or Joseph Stalin (I suspect if he was, many people would already be rounded up in concentration camps by now….yeah….good luck convincing the military, especially my beloved Air National Guard, to enforce that one….).

The President isn’t coming for your guns with the black helicopters. He, and many others from ALL political/social persuasions, simply want to limit MILITARY STYLE weaponry and accessories from being on the streets. It’s about damn time… those of us in the military know you only use military style firearms/weaponry for three things: for target practice/to qualify; to blow shit up; and, to kill people….

2.) For everyone saying, “yeah, King Obama, but what about YOUR/YOUR FAMILY’S armed guards huh?? Why do you need them??” Newflash! Presidents/Prime Ministers/global leaders get assassinated. If the Secret Service was allowed to comment on procedure, they would probably tell you how many death threats/assassination plots the President AND the First Family receive on a daily basis. They would probably also comment on the numerous and diverse death threats members of Congress (including the Speaker of the House, and the Majority/Minority Leaders of both chambers), White House senior staff, Cabinet representatives, and state/commonwealth Governors receive as well, hence why they too all have armed security.

3.)  If anyone wants to propose abolishing or modifying the 2nd Amendment, or ANY Amendment for that matter, the Constitution is pretty clear on the steps necessary to accomplish that. One of the steps involves having a majority of the states agreeing to said proposals.

Funny how people that like to bring up the Constitution have probably never even read it….

Seriously folks…. common sense…..

Prior Reflections to Newtown and Religion

I’m sure I’m not the only one that, when some sort of a tragedy or a major incident/situation/event occurs, I need to write in order to find some sort of psychological and spiritual release. The recent catastrophe that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut — a small New England town that provides flashbacks to my upbringing in Massachusetts — would certainly justify an appropriate circumstance for me — and many others — to write and reflect upon in order to attempt to physically, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually process what exactly happened and to attempt to make some sort of sense out of everything.

This is highlighted on the heels of a very powerful, emotional, and appropriate interfaith memorial service remembering those children, educators, and a mother that have been murdered, and also for those law enforcement, fire department, emergency medical services, and other public safety personnel that fought through the numbness and indescribable grief in order to do what they needed to do (or were brave enough to admit when they couldn’t).

I’ve been reading some comments and cheap political shots about how the United States is a “Godless country.” Quite bluntly, I am engaged by this pompous arrogance, and I would appreciate an explanation about how this is an accurate and realistic portrayal of our nation. Is it because of who we elect as President? Is it because we were founded and mandated as a country to be tolerant and “politically correct”? Our country was NOT perfect, and is NOT perfect, but we have come A LONG WAYS in over two hundred years in regards to individuality, community, and society.

Do you want to know where God is in this country?? God was present when we said that no, people can’t be enslaved to other people as property. No, people can’t be denied basic HUMAN rights and dignity because of the color of their skin, how old they are, who/what they choose to worship/believe in or not worship/believe in, what private and personal choices they decide to make, and who they love.

God has been present in every tragedy, situation, disaster, and incident that this country has endured, suffered through, and prevailed throughout its history in and through God’s people — be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Democratic, Republican, Independent, EVERYONE!

God has been present in all of the “signs and symptoms” that God reveals to everyone, everyday. It is OUR responsibility to recognize, decipher, interpret, and utilize them in the service to our human community. In the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, a community that I and others on here can relate to because I/we grew up and experienced communities just like it, perhaps God has revealed a costly consequence of not discovering the “signs and symptoms” when we are indoctrinated to the ignorant concept that psychology, psychiatry, social work, and criminology are “quack professions” for only overly-dramatic people that just need to stop being babies and grow up and take responsibility for themselves. Are there overly-dramatic people out there? Of course there are, but for every five of these type of attention-seekers, there are at least one or two or three or more of people that genuinely and quite simply just need professional and qualified help. When we stereotype and generalize ALL people, we FAIL.

God is also present in good people from ALL walks of life that own firearms, are educated well in them, and use them responsibly and with respect. We have been given numerous “signs and symptoms” — the most recent have involved the innocent blood of children — that perhaps we need to sit down and communicate with individuals from all political spectrums on how to approach firearm violence prevention without infringing on the fundamental rights under the Second Amendment. There is a way, and I know we can figure it out. We are Americans after all.

These are just a few examples of why we are NOT, and NEVER WILL BE, a “Godless country.” The President, along with Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Atheists, Agnostics, Lutherans, the Jewish, Muslims, Congregationalists, the Baha’i, politicians, children, educators, friends, acquaintances, parents, and loved ones from ALL demographics reminded us of that common sense FACT tonight.

For all the “Mike Huckabees” out there: grow up, open your eyes, and remember that you live in one of the most tolerant, compassionate, and diverse places in the world. Remember that….always….”We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” This stems from a concept that was not originally embraced by everyone in our country, including our Founders and other historical figures; but, through compromise, civility, well-intentioned debate, “agreeing to disagree,” and mutual respect and friendship for each other, this concept was eventually ratified as our Constitution. Those that sit in the chairs once occupied by our Founders and some of the greatest minds in history (from ALL political ideologies) should do well to reflect on this. The future of our country depends on it.

Prior Reflections on Election 2012

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” ~President Thomas Jefferson (a moderate Republican by today’s standards)

I’m reminded of this important quote today, as I’ve read some of the comments that have been posted last night and today. People actually, genuinely HATE the President. It’s not a “touchy-feely” kind of hate; it’s a “you’re wrong, we’re right, and if we see you in the street, we’re going to blow your head off!!!” kind of hate. I’ve also noticed this caliber of hate stems from individuals — not all individuals mind you — that claim to be “Christians.” This quite frankly scares the hell out of me.

So please, enlighten me, why?? Has what he’s done over the years, even before he was elected President of the United States, warranted his lynching, or to be called a “dumb ghetto ass”? Shouldn’t some of this “hate” be directed at Congress, and not solely on the President? Do you hate him because of the color of his skin? Seriously?

This, in my opinion, is UN-AMERICAN. I realize that things aren’t perfect in the country, or in the world. I also can’t look around and not be thankful for local, state, AND the federal government for many of the things that I take for granted — including many of the benefits that the military enjoys on a daily basis.

The election is over with. The country has spoken. ALL OF US — including my military brothers and sisters, who swore/affirmed an oath to “obey the orders of the President of the United States (and even state governors that we may/may not always agree with)” — come from unique walks of life and different political/social/demographic spectrums. I am thankful for this, because we can actually work together, compromise, agree-to-disagree, and at the end of the day, shake hands and go out for a drink together.

THIS IS AMERICA. THIS IS AMERICA IN THE 21ST CENTURY. Hate does NOT belong here…. If you think it does, then I’d say go find another corner of the Earth to move to, but honestly, where are you going to go?? 🙂