PHILADELPHIA, PA (USA) – 20 July 2017 – A collaboration between the OPERATION FRESH START™ Working Group and the USA International Men’s Day Team has culminated in the Fourth Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys becoming a launch vehicle for the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative which is a component of OPERATION FRESH START ™. The Honorable James M. DeLeon, a highly acclaimed jurist in the Criminal Court Division of Philadelphia’s Municipal Court, is the architect of OPERATION FRESH START ™ which is being heralded as a Global Model for eradicating recidivism and creating pathways to reintegration and real-life options for formerly incarcerated Men and Women who return to our communities – for the most part – uneducated, unskilled, and unemployable and in dire need of spiritual, emotional, and psychological healing.

OPERATION FRESH START™ is utilizing the Fourth Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys which is being observed under the theme, “Transcending Boundaries” on Sunday, 5 November 2017 as a “Call To Action” for religious leaders and religious institutions of all faiths to implement the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative by, among other things, creating Transformational Centers which will help detoxify the spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally toxic environment in our communities – an environment which is a breeding ground for crime, blight, dysfunctional behavior, economic turpitude, and hopelessness – and an environment that subliminally drives the decision making and actions of at-risk youths. The SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative is a blueprint for moving the key players — Returning Citizens — into the equation of eradicating critical challenges that prevent at-risk youths from reaching their full potential; resisting the gravitational pull of the streets and crime; and maturing into productive and purpose-driven adults. OPERATION FRESH START ™ and the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative are in alignment with the mission of the International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys – a mission which involves helping at risk-youths – Our Children – transcend the key challenges of crime, hopelessness, lack of male role models, lack of access to legitimate real-life options, and making their journey from childhood to adulthood in a spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally toxic environment.

For information about OPERATION FRESH START ™ and the Fourth Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys which is serving as a launch vehicle for the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initaitive, contact the USA International Men’s Day Team at: insearchoffatherhood@gmail.com or 267-581-3963.

Long Term Solitary Confinement Must Be Abolished

Channeling Mr. Charles Dickens, very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony solitary confinement has inflicted upon me. The last twelve months in solitary confinement have been a terrible endurance that none but those who have suffered the like can fathom. Lon term solitary confinement is a mode of punishment which no man has a right to inflict upon a fellow human being.

I hold that this insidious daily tampering with the mysteries of the mind is immeasurably worse than any torture of the body. All who have been subjected to this nefarious punishment must return to society morally unhealthy, diseased of mind, and unfit for the rough and tumble contact and busy action of the real world.

Long term solitary confinement as a mode of punishment must be abolished if we are to stake the claim of being a civilized society. Only the most depraved would sanction a protracted wasting of the flesh and slow mortification of the spirit as a legitimate form of human punishment–a punishment bereft of hope and promise.

The vast majority of human beings who have endured long term solitary confinement are transmogrified into zombies – living breathing creatures with no heart or real feelings, senses numbed dulled and atrophied by extended extreme isolation and deprivation of real human contact. They are like a caged bird that after years of not using its wings is released only to realize that despite retaining the appendages of wings it can no longer take flight. The muscles and nerves required having wasted away.

Long term solitary confinement as a mode of punishment is reprehensible to modern human conscience and must be abolished, permanently discarded upon the pile heap of the history of man devised barbaric and inhuman punishments like quartering, the rack, and crucifixion.


Words Do Matter

Trump’s tossing out of real and made up words without thinking of the consequences is a most dangerous trait for someone with power. His verbal spillage is more a sign of mental illness than of a mature, thoughtful leader. Our Global Kindness Revolution’s co-director, Afghani-American Atta Arghandiwal, used to listen to the speeches of President John F. Kennedy when he was a boy in Afghanistan. Learning English from Peace Corps volunteers, his soul was imprinted by Kennedy’s words, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

These words motivated Atta to devote his life to humanitarian work on behalf of refugees and immigrants. He escaped as a refugee himself when the Russians invaded Afghanistan over three decades ago, finally landing in America where he had a successful career in banking. His upcoming work, GLOBAL RESOURCE GUIDE FOR IMMIGRANT FAMILY SUCCESS brings a roadmap for negotiating foreign systems and customs from the first thought refugees and immigrants have of leaving their home to eventual integration into their host country. There’s no other book like this and it will surely have a most positive impact for current and future refugees and immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity as wars and climate change force more mass migration. With our “Kindness at Noon, Everywhere, Everyday for Refugees and Immigrants” effort (see www.Trustonekindness.com for info), we hope the energy of altruism and kindness will overtake and neutralize the hatred encouraged by Trump’s words that encourage our MEAN MINDS and discourages our KIND MINDS.

French-Canadian visionary, Luc Goulet, offers a blueprint for the future with his BigBang Project and his soon-to-be published LEVERAGE YOUR MIND: A BETTER ME IS A BETTER WE. His analysis of the positive economic impact of shopping locally and volunteering is incredible.

This country, despite its noble calling, has always been resistant to refugees to say nothing about its treatment of slaves and people of color. My grandparents came from Ireland, Italy and Russia, and all experienced discrimination and threats including the burning of a cross on their southern lawn, which permanently traumatized my father and his younger sister, who witnessed it.

Recent studies indicate the size and activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain dealing with emotions, is related to altruism—those with smaller amygdala and little altruistic brain activity have little altruism, like psychopaths like Trump. Those with high altruism tend to have larger and more active amygdalas, one assumes like Atta and Luc. Another study shows that psychopathic children also show evidence of brain involvement in their pathology, and though previously considered untreatable, are found to be trainable in altruism. By positively rewarding them, they learn to act altruistically even though it doesn’t originate from the amygdalas. So “Kindness at Noon” and our efforts like “Kindness Behind Bars Training Program” show promise, if enough of us commit to truly leveraging our mental power every day at noon. The easiest revolution ever!

Can we stand strong and not succumb to the Trump lies and fear-mongering that ISIS thrives upon, using Trump’s words in recruiting terrorists, putting not just our nation but all nations at risk in the distorted name of a religion, making sure that our kind minded voices are heard over the angry hoards celebrating their ignorance and violence globally, embarrassing kind, thinking Americans. Edmund Burke wrote that “All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

No matter where you are, go to www.indivisibleguide.com to find an indivisible or other community group working on issues important to you and to a flourishing democracy. Or write a letter to the editor. Start a blog. Join demonstrations when you can. Speak out! Call your legislators! Volunteer! Shout out! Sing out! Be mindful of your words-keep them positive and kind…words are energy and as they fly through the air you never know where they will land. Will they be used as recruitment by ISIS or to inspire a young boy or girl in a third world country to become an active humanitarian?


The Science of Altruism

Take a listen to this NPR segment on a very intriguing but disturbing topic, child psychopaths. This interview with Barbara Bradley Hagerty breaks down how this behavior manifests itself in children. She talks about the emotional center in the brain, or the limbic system and how children who demonstrate psychopathic traits have a dysfunction in that area, i.e., the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear. Data has shown this part is smaller in those who show psychopathic tendencies.

The interview cites an intensely disturbing account of a 6-year-old girl whose parents witnessed her attempting to strangle her baby sister. It gets even more alarming from there. Hagerty explained that these kids are not only void of any empath, the idea of punishment doesn’t have any influence on them. One approach by medical professionals is emphasizing the idea of rewards as opposed to using punishment as a means to correct behavior.

See also Hagerty’s in-depth article in the Atlantic on child psychopaths.

With regard to my platform of Kindness–(and Kindness at Noon), this topic is at the opposite end of the spectrum but worth examining, especially because it involves children. There is hope that some can be helped through specialized methodology. For kids who will be successfully steered onto a more altruistic path, they are the future in paving the way for practicing kindness. While I was writing The Global Kindness Revolution, future generations was one of the focal points. What will kindness look like 100 years from now? With the breakneck pace of technology, I wanted to dig in and diagnose our collective mindset and the trajectory we’re now taking.

This excerpt from the book’s introduction explains the concept behind genuine kindness as a focused practice (Kindness at Noon):

Imagine if approximately 3,734,000 or 51% of us decided to align our mental energy fields to positively influence the rest of the world! That’s what the Global Kindness Revolution is all about. This is the first time ever that we’ve had the social media tools with which to affect everyone connected through two billion smartphones and a billion computers. If 51% of the population decides to try it, we can strengthen the vibrational field of kindness and weaken the violence and negativity that plagues us all.

For far too long we’ve been operating under the notion that we’re alien to one another. Wars and hatred of those not like us has twisted our thinking into accepting this as the “new norm.” We cannot allow this to continue to grow like a poisonous fungus, destroying our capacity to think clearly and act in rational ways with compassion, not only for our environment, but for others who are less fortunate. We must learn to embrace each other and in turn, improve our planet. That is our challenge and we can meet it together for just five minutes (or more) a day.

The New Science is finally catching up with spirituality and is in the process of providing validation for what was once deemed “unexplainable.” The exercises and visualizations in this book can now be viewed as technological tools, not some way out “woo-woo” theory.

Now, thanks to scientific explanation such as String Theory in the new physics, which postulates that at any given moment, there are eleven different dimensions to reality, or Chaos Theory, which demonstrates how the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil eventually becomes part of a tornado in Toronto—we know the techniques described in this book have scientific explanations for these experiences and their effectiveness. You don’t have to walk on fire to believe these things are possible and in fact, we DO have the power to make the world a better place for seven generations to come.

More than twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha described what scientists are now calling the smallest part of material, “subatomic particles.” If we take two of these tiny particles, invisible to the naked eye, and expand them to the size of a pea, the space between subatomic particles would be two miles. It’s the flow between the peas wherein lies our interconnectedness to others—the life force or FLOW, what some call God, or other deities, exist. It is within that Flow that healing and expanded consciousness occurs in response to minds focused and determined, motivated in part by their DNA and the experiences that affect it. We’ll call the Flow “The Light of Kindness” as this book helps us to learn, live and heal within this Light, and to help brighten this light in others.

Technostress: State of Overwhelm

I love this jazzy tune, State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.) by Jim James. Not only is it a great song, it conveys a very thought-provoking message about the impact technology is having on all of us as we navigate this 21st Century chaos, or what I call “technostress” in chapter eight of my book, The Global Kindness Revolution.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

I use my state of the art technology

Supposed to make for better living

But are we better human beings…?

This idea he’s presenting is something we’ve all considered at one point or another if we’re truly honest. Make no mistake, I appreciate the miracles of technology and all of the convenience it affords us. From a broader perspective I’m a firm believer in finding balance. In this high-tech environment, we must make room for mindfulness–disconnecting from the noise and really tapping into our awareness of what it means to maintain a healthy state of being when our being isn’t deluged or dominated by technology. Of course, this includes spending time in nature, meditation, or whatever brings you a sense of serenity. Not only does that improve our psyche, it enhances our relationships as we’re more inclined to connect with others in ways that don’t rely on texting or email.

Think about it. And give James’ song a listen!

Here’s a section from Chapter 8 of my book: “Does Technology Make us Kinder?”

Does technology in some way cause us to lose our humanity as Cohen suggests in the opening quote? Some studies indicate that today’s youth are less compassionate, more self-centered and hungrier for approbation than previous generations.

Will the scares like cell phones giving us cancer just add to the stress of thinking about what to avoid in the ongoing list of things that cause cancer? Just how safe are all these gadgets over long-term use? No one really knows. Most of the chemicals in our environment have never been tested for their effects on humans. For example, when we were kids in the summers we used to run gleefully in the spray of the mosquito control truck, and we played on x-ray machines in the shoe departments of department stores, or the mercury in the “silver” amalgam fillings in our mouths, perhaps planting the seed of some kind of cancer decades hence. We can only pray that in this toxic soup in which we all live we’ll be relatively healthy and of sound mind, mobile and untouched by ADHD and the devil of dementia when we age.

Here we are in an epidemic of technology, which so many of us find daunting and overwhelming. At a time in our lives when some of us want to wind down a bit, we’re confronted with the choice of feeling extraordinarily stupid while we learn to work these damn things, which is bad for aging egos. Or we decide not to plug in at all to this virtual world, thereby signing up permanently for old age and a much smaller world. The choice is always ours, but if we have grandchildren nearby who are internet savvy, we can move forward despite feeing embarrassed by our inadequacies when it comes to technology.

Some of us of a certain age choose to capitulate to our discomfort as our analogue brains feel stupid trying to adjust to a foreign digital world. Without the help of my IT son, Doug, none of my books would ever have been written.

Be gentle with us.


When my friend Bea recently lost her healthy, sixty-six year old daughter, Caren Cross, to an aneurism, she was unable to attend the memorial service in a hard to reach town in Mexico, where her daughter lived. So we had a gathering of friends and relatives in the community room in our condo, with flowers, food and a Skype setup, allowing us to share in a simultaneous ceremony in celebration of Caren’s life. I love technology!

Maybe you have a grandbaby far away that you’d read stories to over Skype? Or you want to email to friends, sharing jokes and experiences, keeping yourself connected however virtual. For news junkies it’s a way to get a broader though often slanted view of political happenings or the latest in celebrity gossip. Soldiers can communicate with loved ones from the battlefront. Would the revolutionary spirit released in the Middle East have happened without smartphones? What would the social scene look like without internet dating?

You can look up relatives, old friends, old lovers and classmates on Facebook, which is a mixed bag, unfortunately threatening many a marriage like some Congressmen have learned. But the ability to reconnect with those from your past opens up rewarding opportunities. An example of this is Ancenstry.com where you can trace your family lineage. Pick any random subject you have a curiosity about and Google will fetch buckets of information. Technology has expanded our awareness in ways we never could’ve imagined.


With all of the spoils technology has afforded us, there’s a price to be paid for its magical conveniences. We’ve all seen and experienced the downsides individually and on a collective level. Some are more detrimental than others. As discussed in Chapter 5, cyberbullying is one of the most damaging repercussions of the technological era. Child pornography is another nefarious offshoot of the virtual realm. These are the more grievous examples of why I hate technology. Other examples that range from petty annoyances to sad truths about how we’re losing our human connection. Real world interactions have become diluted by the ceaseless stream of electronic information, causing our focus to be splintered, not to mention the more dangerous distractions such as texting while driving. This is the new normal we’ve all been plunged into, for better or for worse…



Happy Earth Day!!

In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2017, I’m inspired to post my tremendous gratitude to Mother Earth and all she provides. I encourage everyone to take a moment and offer up love and gratitude in whatever way you choose. Our planet is a glorious, wondrous home that is teetering on a perilous future. Whatever side of the issue you happen to fall on regarding climate change, it doesn’t require politics or bias to connect with our planet and take a moment to reflect on the beauty of Mother Earth!

I’ve been a passionate activist for decades. In addition to my work on mass incarceration (see my book, Celling America’s Soul) the planet–and our future as planetarians–continues to be a critical cause for me. The opening chapter in my book, The Global Kindness Revolution, Kindness to Mother Earth, presents my personal perspective and guidance on how together we can help heal the planet:

Chapter One: Kindness to Mother Earth

“A Poem for the World”

by Warsaw Shire

 Later that night

I held an atlas in my lap,

ran my fingers around the whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?

It answered




Imagine you’re an astronaut looking down on Mother Earth, so far away—she looks like a tiny, blue-green marble surrounded by endless stars, planets and galaxies. Send a beam of Light of Kindness to her, zapping her with your light, seeing waves of kindness swirling like a healing wind around her.

There is a Hopi Native American prophecy that says that if we don’t mend the ways we treat Mother Earth, she will “shake us off like fleas from a dog.” Our abuse of the earth for power and exploitation has brought us to face our own self-destruction as she shakes us off with hurricanes, tornadoes, uncontrollable wildfires, drought, floods and 65 million refugees fleeing the results of global abuse. There is a pile of refuse the size of Rhode Island floating in our oceans. With planetary consumption of bottled water we shudder at the thought of what happens to all those empty plastic bottles. Americans consumed over 30 billion liters of bottled water. What about the bazillions of disposable diapers joining that pile of refuse?

             We have indeed raped our Mother Earth!

The Hopis proved right again with Mt. Everest. Hundreds have tried to trek to her summit over the last century. They left behind them tons of discarded equipment, a few frozen bodies and tons of frozen feces, practically immortalizing it on those icy slopes.

Finally, Mt. Everest had had enough and she belched a huge landslide that covered the enormous pile of excrement, not exactly recycling it but at least hiding it out of sight, to be defrosted and exposed once again when global warming melts the cover-up. Do we have to make explorers carry little bags with them, capture what would be left behind, let it freeze and take it back down the mountain in their specially designed backpacks? American dog lovers can be seen in any urban or suburban neighborhood picking up their companion dogs’ poop and gingerly taking it away for disposal (more plastic bags).

Imagine the earth is a large ball filled with many layers from rock to liquid to gas, all perfectly balanced beneath her skin. Over time, mines are dug, mountaintops are blasted off, and for decades we’ve been slurping her oil, which kept it all in balance, causing her to sink into herself where depleted, causing tectonic shifts, a shift on the earth’s axis. So earthquakes are born, several a week now in highly-fracked Oklahoma. Global Warming is no joke. The toxicity in our air, water and food has weakened our immune systems along with what I call ‘Technostress’ from the information overload combined with the chronic problems with our dependence on technology, which is at times, unreliable.

We waste too many hours a week trying to correct technology. Could it be that were we to test all the drinking water in the US we would maybe discover the root of what author Philip Roth describes as “The Indigent American Beserk” caused by lead poisoning and the multitude of toxins in our environment resulting in brain damage? That can be the only explanation about the global psychosis growing stronger every minute, Mean Minds in charge, bent on destruction.

The Irish side of my family settled in Burnsville, PA, a small village “down the mountain from Centralia” where my maternal grandfather, Thomas Mohan, ran a store while my grandmother, Anne, taught school. A center for coal mining, an underground seam of coal caught fire below Centralia almost a century ago and has been burning ever since. I remember as a child when we’d go “upstate” to visit relatives, that beside the clotheslines set up in the back yard of Nana’s house was an opening in the back yard with smoke coming out of it. We kids were warned to stay away from it or we’d be sucked down into the fire, surely a bit of Hell down there. The town was evacuated, refugees fleeing to more stable places, its last resident leaving for heaven years ago. On the drive up and back we’d see what were mountains of slag, what was left from coal mining, rocky hills and peaks where nothing ever grew for many years. A few years ago, while driving past the region for the first time in decades, I was amazed to see the former slag heaps covered with trees and abundant bushes, grasses and wild animals, a testament to Mother Earth’s ability to camouflage our destruction of her riches, her wounds, just as she did with the avalanche she created on Mt. Everest.

Can we slow global warning enough before there’s no more viable life on the planet? Could KAN have an impact, washing the earth every day with our aligned Kind Minds, maybe even being a tool against mental pollution and toxic politics? Isn’t it worth a try?

Even the wealthy have to breathe and we all live downwind!

An aspect of Climate Change that seems to never be mentioned is overpopulation. There are just too many people on earth and the numbers grow daily, especially in poorer countries. Yet in many countries, including the US, there are often deadly attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Though now banned, many countries still practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on young girls—UNICEF reports at least 200 million girls in 30 countries—ever denying them sexual pleasure and causing infections and permanent damage, including psychological devastation as found with those who’ve been forced into sex trafficking. Current statistics indicate one in five college women are raped. It has been shown that when women control what happens to their bodies, when they decide when/if to become parents, their family’s economic situations flourish.

Yet globally politicians seem unified in denying women the right to control what happens to their bodies. Their only interest seems to be controlling a woman’s uterus. Once the child is born, without a safety net, good health care, education, un-poisoned-by-lead-painted housing and a true child-oriented government, the babies too-often join the ranks of the impoverished and fill our prisons, the biggest in the world.

Does the epidemic of global wars stem from distorted religious ideology and who’s going to control women’s bodies? As patriarchal systems are declining, pushback to preserve political power often becomes violent as we read daily of offenses in our Global Rape Culture where rape is used as a tool of war. There’s no place on Mother Earth that a woman can walk safely, without the fear of rape.

Political battles seem illogical, especially when supported by “low-information voters” who support political candidates calling for imprisonment of any woman who’s had an abortion. But not the man who got her pregnant. All children everywhere should be wanted, welcomed and cared for, and given every opportunity to grow into their fullest potential. Depending on where they’re born, their lives and futures are limited by what Warren Buffet calls “The Uterine Lottery,” their geography, where they’ve been born, into which culture.

Doesn’t it seem odd that though women generally produce just one egg a month, while men have 500,000 sperm per ejaculation we focus only on the egg? Aren’t we focusing on the wrong gender? What to do about all that sperm?

What do we need, Sperm Police?

Here are a couple of possible futuristic, science fiction proposals to ponder: Let’s imagine that scientists have discovered the cure for cancer is sperm, which cannot be manufactured by Big Pharma and needs to be collected fresh to work. That little egg doesn’t stand a chance against such odds unless contraception is used, something still banned by some governments who also deny women choice over what happens to their bodies.

Recent studies have shown that so many young men get their sexual experiences from online porno that they are unable to function normally, without a blue pill, with real-live women. So what happens to all that sperm? The government could make available, for free, sterile collection cups, so there would be plenty of the life-saving substance. Every “donation” would be logged onto computers and overseen by trained staff, alerted to telltale signs of clandestine ejaculation or illegal pregnancy. Isn’t this a far better use of all that sperm?     

The New American Refugees

Due to the abuse of Mother Earth by the greedy, the corrupt and the ignorant, her air, water and soil have been poisoned, so most of us are living in a toxic soup, leaving us vulnerable to diseases and chronic suppression of our immune systems. Right now the world is bracing against the spread of the Zika virus, causing birth defects and microcephaly in newborns. Just like my Irish ancestors in Centralia, PA, thousands of residents of Porter Ranch, CA, had to flee their homes when a gas explosion filled the air they breathe with deadly methane. The leak was not stopped for months. Flint, Michigan showed us how crooked politicians care nothing for the lives of poor people as they deliberately poisoned a city’s water supply to save a buck. If the water everywhere was tested for lead levels, the results would bring us to a halt. The Flint crisis reminded me of a poem I wrote after the leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in 1979 in Pennsylvania, titled “Three Mile Island Woman.”

Building a Relationship with Mother Earth

People often ask me why I studied for fourteen years as an apprentice to the late Sun Bear and other indigenous teachers. Besides finding reward in their profound wisdom to enhance my own spiritual growth and worldview, their deep connection with nature was one of the main attractions I had to taking on an apprenticeship. Observing their awareness and appreciation of the mechanics of our natural world was truly inspiring. I came away with an enriched relationship with and respect for Mother Earth through the ceremonial activities I took part in. I was left with a lingering joy and activated awareness of all that nature provides us. We can take lessons from Native American ceremonies that honor Mother Earth. I’ve created a visualization exercise that will help you activate a deeper appreciation for the planet.





SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!! Launching this spring: Kindness at Noon for Immigrants + Refugees. In light of the ongoing controversy over rights of the global citizen who find themselves migrating to another country; the enacted “Muslim Ban” in the US; Brexit in the UK; and the perilous dimensions of what it means to be a refugee in the 21st century, Kindness at Noon aims to raise awareness of this humanitarian crisis all of us are impacted by in one form or another.

Keep checking this blog for upcoming developments as we partner with local organizations on Resolutions in Support of Kindness at Noon, Every Day, Everywhere for Immigrants and Refugees.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, The Global Kindness Revolution: how together we can heal violence, racism, and meanness:


Chapter Three: Kindness to Immigrants & Refugees

Unless you’re Native American, most of us claiming this land, this America, as “ours,” are descendants of immigrants. My grandparents came here from Ireland, Italy, Austria and Russia and were not welcomed. Signs everywhere read “No Irish Need Apply” or “No Italians Need Apply.” Jews were treated even worse. My grandmother, Frances Bondy, came here from Odessa with her mother who reportedly spoke only Yiddish and was a hunchback. Family lore says that they lived in Florida where anti-Semitism flourished and that the KKK burned a cross on their lawn. They moved north to Bayonne, NJ, where they changed their name and the Jewish part of our history was erased, coming to light only after her death.

Black people were/are still living in the shadow of slavery, though lynching no longer occurs. The systemic discrimination that persists today is evident in areas such as housing and employment opportunities.

While anti-Semitism still exists, especially with members of the extreme right, today it’s the “other,” the people with darker skin, fleeing violence and possible death back home. We deem them “aliens” and in the process dehumanize them, even as sixty of them died in a van that was welded shut. By the time they were discovered by the side of a highway, they had decomposed into a gelatinous mess, causing us to lose our humanity.

The worst chapter in America’s relationship with immigrants is the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, our most egregious example of immigrant hatred born of fear and ignorance, spawning the anti-immigrant “Know Nothing Party” in the mid-1800s. Just like today’s white supremacists who continue to wave the banner of hate. Now we’re building new prisons—a corrupt for-profit agenda—to house “aliens” and their children.

Our collective Mean Minds seem to be controlling so much of our national politics and policies. We consent to the utter demonizing of immigrants and refugees by Americans and their elected officials, who barrage our minds with the fear of the “other,” like we did back in those shameful times, rather than the compassion upon which this country was founded. We no longer welcome the “huddled masses yearning to breath free” to our shores. Our beloved Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of our hypocrisy. Other countries in the west have all demonstrated anti-immigrant sentiments.

Concurrent with the writing of this book was the massive controversy of “Brexit,” the UK’s vote to exit the European Union, largely based on fears of immigrants taking over the country due to the influx of newcomers over the past decade. Days after the vote a rash of xenophobic incidents were reported. Those from Muslim and Eastern European communities described being under attack as people were running up to them, screaming in their faces, “go home.” Racist graffiti began turning up in their neighborhoods. As the UK grappled with the ramifications of the controversial vote, hate of the “other” continued to spread.

In 2015, the Syrian refugee crisis was at its peak as millions fled to European shores, seeking asylum. As the crisis unfolded, several governments of the EU responded by enhancing border control, deportations, and actively discouraged refugees from making the journey. Human Rights groups voiced the urgency to fix the EU’s broken asylum system and emphasized the magnitude of the humanitarian need. An untold number of children lost their lives from both the Syrian civil war and resulting treacherous migrations to other countries. Stories of tragedy kept multiplying as countries such as Greece and Italy were tasked with rescue missions in the Mediterranean where thousands of migrants had drowned.

In 2014, tens of thousands of children traveling alone, seeking freedom from violence, sexual slavery, rape and death in their home countries were treated like animals. I’ll never be able to wipe from my memory the Arizona residents, thinking a busload of children going to a YMCA camp was part of the influx of child refugees streaming over our border with Mexico. The angry people screamed and cursed at the children, shouting violent threats, stopping just short of damaging the bus. I was ashamed of and afraid of my fellow Americans.

Imagine the trauma to those children, to say nothing of the certain PTSD in refugee children; imagine their bafflement at the adults acting violent and psychotic. As a result of pressure from the US to stop the children, Mexico is now acting with a severity never seen before. All children caught crossing their border are immediately turned back, without any evaluation of their asylum status or whether they would qualify for temporary residence. Desperate children are being denied safety and dignity, many returning to certain death or sexual slavery. This heartless treatment violates both Mexican asylum laws and now migrants must use drug cartels to reach the US, adding to the cartel’s enormous profits.

UNICEF reports nearly 28 million children globally are displaced by conflict. The United Nations has had to cut back on food and supplies for refugees from war torn Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, among others, due to “inadequate funding.” In this country, efforts by the State Department to increase the number of accepted refugees have been resisted by people like Republican representative from Texas, Michael McCaul, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee. He claims allowing more refugees to come here would create a “federally funded jihadi pipeline” for Islamist militants. In his ignorance and xenophobia, he doesn’t realize that the refugee camps are the true breeding grounds for violence against America.

Someone reported that a Native American chief had tongue in cheek proposed that every non-Native now residing in the US pay a fine, as immigrants and descendants of immigrants, of $500 each to Native Americans for allowing us to remain in their country! An interesting idea…


Inky the Intuitive Bunny

When I was ten years old, after acknowledging my mother’s “Be home in time for dinner!” I set off with a PBJ sandwich in my pocket and maybe an apple. Sometimes I’d saddle up a neighbor’s horse and take off for hours, racing down the Pennsylvania turnpike bareback before it opened.

There was no bottled water in those days, and there wasn’t yet such a thing as helicopter parents. My playground was the farmers fields that surrounded our house; my parents had no fear of my playing “range free child” as author Lenore Skenazy describes in her book of the same name. Amber law? Never heard of it. Children, like today, despite the warnings of “stranger danger,” were most often molested at home by a relative.

There were favorite spots in the woods. One place that captivated me was an old abandoned well. I’d climb down to the bottom, which was scary and covered with dried leaves and twigs and some pretty creepy looking insects. I dared myself to climb down, challenging my fear, and was always glad to climb out, proving to myself I was fearless.

One day, climbing out of that well, as I lifted myself onto the ground, there was a baby bunny looking at me with a twitchy nose. All black, he stared at me as if to say “Where have you been?” He wasn’t afraid of me, coming toward me, curious.

Where was his mamma and siblings? How did he get here all by himself? Had a hawk gotten his family? Or had some kid had to drop him off in the woods because his mom wouldn’t let them keep him?

Offering a nibble of my sandwich, he didn’t protest as I picked him up. I immediately fell in love with him with the passion of a ten-year-old animal lover.

“Look what I found, Mom, he was all alone in the woods. Can I keep him? Please? Please? His name is Inky.”

She looked at me, looked at Inky, and said, “OK.” But you’ll have to build him a hutch and keep him outside.” I knew she was a softy.

Inky made himself at home, his nose in a constant twitch as he observed life around us. He got on well with our collie, Cleo. I got him a harness and walked the neighborhood, introducing him to the various neighbors and their dogs. Sometimes when he got quite large, I’d let him run loose, though always keeping my eye on him. He was cool—he’d let the dogs sniff his butt patiently. As he spent more and more time in my house, sometimes sneaking into my bed, he became housebroken and scratched to go out (and back in). Sometimes I’d just open the door and watch him hop away. If I didn’t see him when it was time for him to come in, I’d call and he’d come hopping.

One day a distant cousin brought her fiancee’ to meet the family. When he heard of Inky, who by now was a legend, he wanted to meet him.

I went to the door and called Inky and up he came a’ hoppin’. I picked him up and holding him by his bottom feet and his chest, went around the circle, introducing him to each person in turn. He twitched what looked like a smile at them.

When he came to the fiancee’ he peed on him!

Horrified, I ran out the door with him dribbling away.

They went ahead with the marriage anyway, but it didn’t work out.

Inky knew…


For more on care and kindness for our animals (and fellow human beings) pick up my new book, The Global Kindness Revolution: How together we can heal violence, racism and meanness!


Rage on a Sunny Day at the End of Winter

It was one of those joyous, sunny days at the end of winter where we had our car windows rolled down, music blaring, winter-pale faces turned toward the sun as we drove, happy to be out from the cold, rainy week just passed.

It was good to be alive and free.

As usual, traffic narrowed to one lane then ground to a halt for the inevitable road construction near the seminary at City Line and Lancaster Ave. I was going north, passing one of Route 1’s worst intersections. Traffic going south was stopped too. (I’ll rue the day when politicians finally get it together to fix our broken infrastructures as it will become impossible to drive anywhere.)

Heavy metal music blaring from a red pickup truck in the far southern lane was the soundtrack background for a white man in a red cap screaming with rage at a lovely middle-aged black woman wearing a picture hat whose driver’s door was close to mine. “You f***ing monkey!” he shouted; I was frightened by his curses and threats. Did he have a gun? What had the woman done to provoke such a violent, threatening outburst? I could feel his murderous intent spitting hatred across two car lanes, sending the vibration of rage to all in the vicinity. This was a man out of control. Dangerous.

The frightened woman turned toward me, her eyes filled with bafflement and fear as his hateful curses rained down on her. I felt extreme shame for the troubled man and deep sorrow for her. I raised my hands in an open gesture and said, “I’m so sorry, so so sorry!”

I thought of my friend of over thirty years, Yvonne, and how she once commented, after an unpleasant racially-charged interchange with a store clerk,   “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be white just for one day, to be able to go through a day without having to put up with this racist s**t!”

I wonder…what would it be like to be black or brown just for a day and have to put up with this s**t!