Seeing a Divine Hand in the Worst of Times

God works in mysterious ways.
Put another way, the Universe will conspire to bring about what you really want and need in life, even though you may not know it when the Divine Intervention takes place.
Or even like it. The intervention that is. And on first blush, it may even seem bad but you realize on reflection it had to have happened for you to progress in life. Continue reading

Laughing & writing about ‘off limits’ stuff

Laughter. It’s good to hear in most of life situations. It can be contagious and cause people to drop their serious attitudes and see a more lighter side of things.

You need it. particularly when times get tough. And if you hang out with the type of people who laugh a lot, you might even hear some gallows humor. You’ll find it among soldiers, cops and nurses as well as ditch diggers, new priests and first-aid workers. Continue reading

Expressway of a heart leads to equanimity

I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.

For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em. Continue reading

’12 Angry Men’ helps presume innocence

Twelve Angry Men” influenced my decision to practice law more than any movie I can remember while growing up in a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia and being the first in my family to go to college. The movie has done more for understanding the workings of our criminal justice system than any books or school classes could possibly provide. Continue reading

Fear of the black stranger causes tragedies

I cried when I saw a woman comforting a black police officer who was helping others get hospital treatment from an assassin’s attack in the streets of Dallas last night. The cop was like many I knew in the legal profession, good guardians of the peace who laid their lives on the line every day to protect us civilians, particularly those of us in the inner cities. Continue reading

Congress protest makes me proud of USA

I’ve never been so proud of being an American as I was the past week when some forty members of the Senate held an unprecedented filibuster and it was followed up by Congressional Democrats who took the House Chamber hostage for a“sit-in” protest against our nation’s inability to halt the sale of high-powered weapons now being used for mass destruction. Continue reading

Anger starts out from my basic personality

Why is anger my “go to” emotion? Why does it crop up whenever I’m confronted with something I don’t understand or something I feel threatened by?

“Crop up” is not the right phrase to use. My anger “erupts.” It goes from zero to sixty within the span of a mini-second. It always seemed to be that way, even as a kid. Now at last I think I know why. Continue reading

Suffering from the news eases up today

Cut back, Michael J. Simply cut back like the sandlot football running back  you played as a kid while scampering on a field in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.

You can’t go “cold turkey” on a lifestyle you’ve been living for more than 30 years. But you can choose to limit the amount of news you take in on a daily, or even an hourly basis. Continue reading

‘Love & Rockets’ explode near this veteran

My son, Nicholas, just didn’t seem to understand how much pain I suffered in Sutcliffe Park when I took him to see fireworks on clear and starry night sky on the Fourth of July some years ago.

At first, I enjoyed the rockets zooming into the air. They were a colorful red, white and blue explosions that took your breath away with gasps of wonder and awe.

Soon however, they took on a menacing demeanor, however, as each blast began to remind me of the Vietnam War and the rounds of mortar fire that fell on me and my platoon some 30 years earlier. Continue reading

‘Brewerytown Way’ Brought Back to Life

I see my life through the eyes of a kid who grew up in Brewerytown, swashbuckling my way through fights on the streets and later the jungles of Vietnam before finding my true calling as a spiritual clarion who wants all North Philadelphia children to return to their God-given Nature of Love. Continue reading

Equanimity for anticipation & expectations

Carly Simon sang it . . .

The Heinz ketchup bottle illustrated what it could look like . . .

And I have fallen victim to it whenever I try something new and start to visualize what could possibly go wrong. Continue reading

Weight loss found in lightening myself & I

One doesn’t have to go on a diet to lose the excess weight of a lifetime of living. All you need do is to lighten your mind, get rid of burdens carried from childhood when the trauma of difficulties and missteps caused you to stumble and lose faith in your God-given direction.

“Lighten up,” is what someone told me once, and that is exactly what I have tried to do after experiencing Holotropic BreathWork  and listening to the new “Weight Loss” meditation offered by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra today. My struggle has ended and from now on, I will be harmony with me, myself and I. Continue reading

PTSD undergoes a Shamanistic treatment

The shaman applied pressure with his fingers and thumbs to the side, back and front of my skull. He told me to let him know if he caused me any pain.

I felt some discomfort, but it wasn’t intolerable and so I said nothing and let him continue the process as I sat in a chair in front of more than a hundred people attending the symposium on “What is Healing? – Archaic Traditions Meet Ways of Experiencing Modern Consciousness Exploration and Psychotherapy.” He was the principal speaker, having taught the participants to dance and sing in two large circles in the room where we had met. Continue reading

The Shadow helps in Spiritual Maturation

What is healing?

Those words in German jumped off the page from a brochure I couldn’t read, but by the end of a presentation in Freiburg, Germany, I got a better handle on who does the healing.

I do! And you do! Continue reading

‘Post-Traumatic Growth’ can help you heal

I experienced something scientists have labeled “Post-Traumatic Growth” twice in my life and some forty years apart. Both led to major changes in my life and a new look at life like I never had imagined it to be. Continue reading

Owning the mental illness amongst us

Mental illness scares the shit out of me. The very term conjures up images of some crazed guy with wild, straggly hair and a demon-like smile of malevolence. Steven King kind of comes to mind when I think of someone who might be a little touched in the head. A Stephen King character, that is. Not Stephen King. Continue reading

My ‘Vietnam War Recall’ starts tomorrow

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, and more desolation. Some of these young men think that war is all glory but let me say . . . war is all hell.” 

  • American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman

Continue reading

9-11 is Our Generation’s ‘Day Of Infamy’

Like December Seventh, Nineteen Forty-One, “9-11” will go down in American history as a new generation’s day of infamy.

In my lifetime, it ranks up there with the horrific day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Continue reading

A rant against disrespect, hurt & the war

Much of what I know about war was what I learned while playing as a kid. You know, using a stick or a broken branch from a tree, I’d pretend it was a rifle to shoot the bad guys who were out to get me and the rest of the good guys in my old neighborhood. Continue reading

It was me an enemy sniper was trying to kill

A Viet Cong sniper was trying to kill me. Some motherfucker hiding in the trees, the bushes, the triple-canopy jungle had just shot at my platoon. I thought he was shooting randomly, despite the debris from the ground, grassland and other tiny bits of rock that struck me from a bullet’s ricochets.

No. he was aiming at no one but me! It’s taken me more than forty years to figure that out. Continue reading

New bucket list headed by state of Alaska

North to Alaska!

That’s where I’m headed next week and I’ll start checking off the newest box of my “bucket list,” the list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket.” Continue reading

Growing up with Catholic Sisters (Nuns)!

While growing up in a Catholic School, I met all kinds of nuns. Some I liked more than others. I was kind of like the class clown, or a class-clown wannabe, and got called out by many of the good teachers wearing the black coverings with the bullet-proof white vests covering their chests. I went to Saint Ludwig’s, a church school in what was then a predominantly German neighborhood of North Philadelphia called “Brewerytown.” Continue reading

Meditate first and foremost each day!

What a surprise!

I expected to try to get through the day today without my morning cup of meditation-offering from Deepak & Oprah. I figured the 21-day journey had ended yesterday, August 31st. Yet today, the American holiday called “Labor Day,” they gave us a gift — an extra day. And boy, did I need it. Continue reading

Truly Living May Just Be Worth Dying For

The thought of going to prison never bothered me. I’d survive and flourish behind bars where I’d have more than enough time to reflect and write which I have found is my true love in life.

No, I could kill without worrying about the consequences. It would be my first offense. I am certified as a Vietnam veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I don’t see any judge or jury putting me to death for the crime.

All of this went through my mind when I was waiting at the train platform and a rather tall, white guy walked in front of me. I was standing near the tracks. I was close enough and in line with others stranding on either side of me that I never thought someone could make their way between me and the tracks. But the man did. He walked around me. He stood directly in front of me. No one else stood that close. I recall thinking how totally inappropriate and rude his actions were.

That’s when I planned to kill him. Continue reading

Don’t let me believe in all my thoughts

I’m so scared because I don’t know what to do, nor who to turn to. Flashes of insights, intuition and a “knowing” that borders on the psychic has arisen in me and I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. Continue reading

Vietnam War veteran recalls his journey

Dealing with the Vietnam War becomes a little easier each time I write about it. I “desensitize” myself. I now see my actions as separate from the emotions I felt while a young soldier, as well as the feelings of guilt many veterans like me,  imposed on ourselves while readjusting to civilian life. It’s helpful when a high school student asks questions and you try to be honest and direct. Continue reading

Where is the boy I left home for the war?

I knew a boy

Who went to war

And left his home

Behind him.

I knew him well,

That boy was me

And now I cannot

Find him.

— A Vietnam veteran’s tweak of a World War II sailor’s song about war
(Photo of this young World War I “Doughboy” courtesy of greatwar.nl/oldsoldiers/lloydcleme… )

Greet your road with love and compassion

I’ve taken compassion on the road. Literally!

I send affection to motorists cut off by a speeding car that winds in and out of lanes. I feel for the driver who was never told by the operator of a car in front that that operator was going to turn, despite what appears to be working lights that turn on and off when you press the turn signal lever up or down. Continue reading

Pinned for a life above & beyond the call

While Neil Armstrong was taking a giant leap for all mankind, I had taken a small step toward adulthood one month after the moon landing, and I had no one to thank for it except my brother, who encouraged me to aim for the stars in becoming an officer and a gentleman in the Army of the United States of America. Continue reading

Omega opens doors to lost PTSD veterans

I didn’t want to go back to Omega Institute this year. Each time I travelled to this land of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, I’d get high from the holistic experience. But then I’d change into an Ichabod Crane feeling chased by the Headless Horseman who’d tell true life stories that caused so much pain I couldn’t hold it inside. Continue reading

Need not battle to understand war horrors

When I heard the song  “Still in Saigon” the other day, I could have sworn a Vietnam veteran had written about his flashbacks and a need to process what was unprocessed as a young man.

Little did I know that the writer never set foot in Southeast Asia, let alone serve in the military. That got me wondering about the performing arts and how someone who never experienced war could capture its long-term effects on those who faced combat. Continue reading

Trayvon Martin prosecution fully justified

If I were prosecuting George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, I would charge him with murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice, adding several named officers of the Sanford. Fla., police department – as well as the state attorney – as co-conspirators. Continue reading

How many times must we say “I’m sorry”?

Saying you’re sorry can be downright scary. Particularly, if you’re not sure if the other party will accept your mea culpa even though it’s from the bottom of your heart. Continue reading

IN HOT WATER AT THE GYM

I never knew the hot water I’d get in at a local gym until I waded into a hot tub and saw one of the gym staffers assault a fellow bather when he paid more attention to the person he was speaking to via headphones than the operations manager, who yanked at his headset, telling him to get the hell out. Continue reading

A change in time helps change my reality

Reality shifted on me the other day, and it helped me realize that I have more control than my “preshifted” thoughts allowed me to see. Now, with a “time-control outlook,” I can try to change my world for the better. Continue reading

Let Catholics ‘opt out” in birth control plan

I don’t understand all the fuss that Catholic universities and hospitals are raising over providing health care for woman that includes mandatory birth control provisions. Why not let “practicing Catholics” following the teachings of their church to “opt out” for the coverage, while permitting non-Catholics what doctors and women’s groups say is a health benefit? Continue reading

We the People, not We the Corporations

“Corporations are people, my friend”

Well, if you trace the history of something called corporate “personhood,” you can blame this inglorious recognition on an unelected clerk writing a summary of a court decision that never actually decided this issue. Continue reading

Seeing a Veteran’s’ History Never Repeats

Do yourself a favor. Keep an eye out for a vet.

Actively seek out someone in your church, synagogue or temple and befriend him so that what happened in Philadelphia last week never happens again. Continue reading

Don’t ‘better’ yourself by berating another

I was seething when I saw my former US senator decry Blacks receiving food stamps from the government. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania told an Iowa audience this week that he would tackle this “race problem” if elected president, thus echoing the sentiments of his old congressional colleague, Newt Gingrich, who suggested poor students in city schools clean the bathrooms for their more affluent ones, rather than grow up to be pimps or prostitutes. Continue reading

Resolve to stop anger from feeding on me

Anger. It hits like a poison arrow causing me to drop what I’m doing and focus on the pain it inflicts. Continue reading

Newt, a big-headed, brain-bloated bully

Newton Le Roy Gingrich is a big-headed, brain-bloated bully who is best understood if you picture what kind of kid he might have been and remember why you disliked him and his sophomoric antics while growing up. Continue reading

Lucky wants you S M O K I N G, ladies

“Oh my God,” I said as the ad in “Lucky Magazine” finally registered. “Oh my God,’ echoed the 62-year-old woman seated next to me after showing her the promotion to “taste” the “additive” and “natural” flavor of American Spirit Tobacco.

Getting over my shock of seeing such an ad in print, I looked closer at the magazine. Continue reading

Take Your Messages Away From Me

Look at me. Please, L O O K  A T  M E!!!

Don’t divide your attention with someone who’s not even in the same room as us. We’re communing, you and I, exchanging ideas or simply “hanging out” with each other, coming together because we have so many things in common. Don’t let someone else interrupt what we’re doing together. Continue reading

War is never the answer 11-11-11

On this Veterans Day, 11-11-11, what would you tell yourself if you could go back in time and greet that young man recently returned home from the war?

War is never the answer, but only a failure on all sides to reach an answer. Continue reading

A Message to the 99 Percenters

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, Continue reading

These are true signs of our times

When I read the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were unfocused and without a coherent message, I took a closer look at them in Philadelphia, and disvovered some were disheveled street persons looking for handouts, and one a graduate school political science major spouting Marxist teachings.

They represented only one percent.

The 99 percent of the other protestors were mostly young, highly educated unemployed or underemployed men and women who got tired of the debt-ceiling fiasco and took to the streets to mobilize against the Tea Party followers. Continue reading

For the signs they are a’changing

(From Part I, These are true signs of our Times/)

The greatest protest of our generation is seeking change in all shapes and sizes. You can see it in the signs the demonstrators carry, writing the letters out really big with magic markers so that passersby need not squint to get the messages.

There is not just one message, but many, which all have one thing in common: a belief that our world can do better for all and not  just the few Continue reading

End needless suffering in US debates

Tone it down America. You are cutting off your nose to despite your face. The face of the body politic, that is, and we are creating needless hurt for the countrymen we’d like to lead to our mutual goal: the pursuit of happiness. Continue reading

WHY I AM A DEMOCRAT

Why am I a Democrat?

I was born this way. No, that’s not right. I was raised this way. No, that’s not quite right either. I chose to be a Democrat. Continue reading

Don Quixote battles PTSD in Philly courts

I never felt more like Don Quixote than when I represented a woman charged with a crime.

And while I didn’t want it, I’d feel called to “champion” her, even when it cost me my reputation, my sanity and my very career as a trial attorney. Continue reading

Light shines here from a tip of the candle

‘Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle,’ illuminating the way for the whole nation.

If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war.

And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.

Thich Nhat Hanh