Are we all Nazi’s?

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment

How did Nazi Germany occur? How did the leaders inspire an entire nation of people to invade other countries and kill entire groups of human beings just because they were gay or Romani or Jehovah’s Witnesses? How did they actually persuade soldiers to do the terrible things they did?

You see, not only are we allowing our own government to abuse its own people, but this abuse goes to other countries as well. Here are some key similarities to the USA and Nazi Germany.

We support and fund illegal occupation. We ignore how our money is used to kill, destroy, and invade foreign countries like Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We pay people to kidnap and send suspects to other countries so they can be tortured.

We allow our government to pass laws that invade personal privacy and liberty based upon fabricated and exaggerated vague threats like terrorism. We vote to allow wiretapping and spying by using computers attached to our vehicles. Now, the police have taken to using camcorders at peaceful protests.

We submit to abuse by the Gov like invasive and abusive TSA pat downs and we do nothing about it – except for maybe a few comments on fb or to friends while we have lunch.

We have become prejudice against certain groups of people and are boldly demonstrating against all people of a given group like Muslims by calling them all terrorists. We’re being arrogant and racist by asking them to be sensitive where they build their places of worship while we are insensitive enough to label them all terrorists and control where they build their places of worship. Next, perhaps we will say they are being insensitive by wearing certain clothes and walking where they walk. Perhaps they will also be labeled insensitive by drinking from our same water fountains?

What can WE do? How is it MY fault? Is it up to ME?

Depending upon how you look at it, these things can get really political and complicated. Who among us has the time to become an expert on Nazi Germany and all the things that were going on then? How can one person be smart enough and objective enough to say exactly what can and should be done? Isn’t this just a big vague possibility that no one can really do anything about?

There is only one key thing that is at the heart of the matter. It is being passive and cooperative and not wanting to question or challenge authority. When the police do abusive things to citizens, if we ignore it and don’t investigate, that’s being more sheep than human. We often don’t see this until it happens to us directly. At this point you see how powerless you are against the Gov. and police and the system. There are thousands of people sitting in prison right now that know the truth of this.

One thing we can do is make a choice. Will we be passive until it is too late, or will we decide to be part of the solution? Will we wait until we are the victim ourselves? Or will we pay attention to what is going on and learn what we can when we can?

The choice takes a few seconds to make. Action that makes a difference in your life and that of others can be done in moments. Nazi Germany came about because the people didn’t inform themselves and allowed themselves to be led into a war that killed 7 million Germans alone. Because they thought they had something more important going on.

This isn’t about fighting the police or politicians or waging war with anything or anyone. This isn’t about good guys and bad guys because the only real evil here is being passive. Being like sheep where greed and fear are allowed to take over. It is about seeing the good in everyone. And exposing the wrong choices that hurt us all. It is about building peace and community. It is about love – not hate. Embracing instead of condemning. It is about creating the world we want to live in – instead of hiding and shrinking from our own responsibility as humane beings.

To learn more, visit The Solution is ‘me’:

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A Better Man

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment

A Better Man

One of the most memorable lines in recent cinema history was from the movie: “As Good As it Gets” with Jack Nicholson starring. The line was: “You make me want to be a better man.” This was one of the most romantic lines and also most significant. It was to me.


Years later, I happily wake up in good condition after a two-day bout with food poisoning. Probably the first time in my 50 years I was brought down so hard. Bad lamb kebabs. My health basically fine except for some kidney stone challenges, my finances not great but not in emergency status, I was feeling pretty good and on my way for a modest breakfast at McDonald’s to start my day.

As I bounded down the stairs toward my awaiting motorbike, the unmistakable sound of a kitten in obvious pain echoed in the halls. There’s something about a kitten’s plea for rescue that goes directly to one’s compassionate response system. When I reached the first floor, under a broken down vehicle and sheltering itself from the oncoming drizzle sat a calico kitten. Tiny head looking up at the world. Screaming in his own language: “Mom!” a thousand times as loud as he can. Barely 4 weeks old and not sure footed yet, he looked so alone. People walked and drove by. I stood for a minute. ‘I don’t like cats’, I reminded myself. I’m a dog lover.

There are countless cats in my neighborhood. It is hard to know where they come from or where they disappear to. But there seems to be an endless stream. So I told myself. This was to lessen the guilt I was feeling for leaving the little guy and heading off to my Egg McMuffin without him. Thinking that he would be gone – scooped up by his mother – before I got back, I enjoyed my breakfast with barely a second thought of the little kitten near my home.

When I got home, it was a different story. The cries were there but more intense. I looked for him, but didn’t see him. But I heard the cries and they made their mark. I was almost hooked. I went up one flight then looked out the window as a neighbor descended. As the neighbor exited, he couldn’t see the kitten either. But he looked. The cries continued. I stood and waited and watched and wondered what to do. Suddenly an old lady emerged from the downstairs apartment. She reached into the 2 foot deep gutter full of nasty sewer water and pulled the kitten out. Looking like a drowned rat, the kitten stopped crying for a minute. I think he was happy to be alive. The woman mumbled something in Chinese about ‘mother cat’ coming back and went back in her apartment. The kitten crawled back under the vehicle.

I made a mental note to check back later then went upstairs to do some work. An hour later, I listened from my home and could hear the kitten through the closed door. I almost felt like it was destiny. This kitten is calling me. If I don’t do something, it will be my mistake. I’m not the only one in the world to help and this kitten isn’t the only precious life that needs saving, but right here, right now, I am being called. It could be circumstances, it could be God, it could be the great kitten spirit, it didn’t matter. The switch in my mind was flipped and I had to act or I was going to pay a heavy price deep down inside. I wanted to be ‘a better man’.

But, first, I wrestled. I wrestled with a line-up of grisly characters that the world wrestling federation has yet to dream up. They all were fighting me and demanding I ignore this call for help. The first was the undeniable fact that I don’t like cats. Powerfully and instantly trumped by the kitten’s forlorn call and the cutest little face you’ve ever seen. Second monster comes calling: I know nothing about cats, haven’t the knowledge, skill, disposition, experience or infrastructure to help at all. This one quickly trumped by the fact that a 7-yer-old can take care of kitten. The third nasty fellow to boldly block my rescue was huge and powerful. He reminded me that I was working full time to build an international organization that helps people do charitable things. This was my contribution. If I wasted my time on every little screaming kitten that came along, I’d never do the really big things I was working to do. Thousands or millions in Africa may die because I couldn’t be true to my priorities. Trumped without contest.

These ogres and all other possible challengers lost before they ever came to bat. For one simple reason that I really don’t know. All I can say is that this seemed mine to do. After a while, you just don’t argue in your mind anymore about certain things. You don’t care about the reasons for or against. Logic and practicality don’t matter and you don’t even care if your decision is considered wrong by someone or something. You’ve made up your mind. You somehow ‘forgot’ why. You just passed the debate point and now it was time to act or regret it forever. I acted.

I grabbed a towel and went downstairs and grabbed the kitten and bright him upstairs. He seemed basically healthy, but I’m no expert. My mind strangely went back to the Nicholson movie again. Jack’s character is also a writer and is forced to take care of a small and cute animal that he normally detests. Like myself, he lives alone and is terminally married to his work. When this intruder arrives, he springs into action and awkwardly tries to accommodate the obviously out of place guest. In the movie, Jack tells the dog, “there’s no dog food around here, you eat what we eat!” as if a condemnation to intolerable rations. Then he proceeds to bring a platter of roast beef out of the refrigerator and begins to slice pieces for the dog. I couldn’t resist saying the same line as I took fish out of my refrigerator and prepared Dory filet for my tiny guest.

As luck would have it, ‘Fracas’ wasn’t having any Dory filet today. Mother’s milk was the only thing he wanted and I was in short supply. I grabbed him, wrapped him in the towel and took down to the local pet store. A nice woman there inspected Fracas, said he seemed healthy and prescribed some food in a can and some dry food I could add water to that would be cheaper. I got both. Fracas immediately took to the canned stuff – the expensive stuff of course – and I was wearing a bigger smile inside than I had worn in quite a while.

Enough about the cat.

I learned some lessons today that I forgot and some I had never learned before. We are compassionate creatures. We need to give. All this talk about how good it feels and it’s better to give than to receive, it’s all true. But we forget. And even if we remember, there’s always the monsters. The ones that stand in the way with all kinds if very practical and very important reasons to ignore the calls for help. And if it weren’t for the constant screams of this little kitten today, my action would have been stopped by the first monster. I guess it was the cries for help that echoed in my hall. The ones no one else yet responded to. The feeling that I felt inside that came from somewhere that told me in no uncertain terms that this rescue was mine to do. Too bad. Too bad.

Too bad that every day, there are 22,000 human children that die unheard by all of us. That’s one every few seconds. To save one of those human lives would be easier than my story with the kitten today. It doesn’t require adoption and the main infrastructure is in place. It just takes that magic switch to be flipped inside of us. It takes an open and willing heart. It takes a constellation of circumstances – some that we can control and others we cannot. But it will sooner or later come down to one thing. ‘me’. When we feel the unmistakable certainty that it is ‘mine to do’, all the ogres are defeated. We only need listen to our heart. I did today – against all sound logic – and I’ve had my richest day in a very long time. I wish that same joy for you.

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52 Sundays.

November 7, 2010 Leave a comment

The idea that the world will become a better place, that all the major problems will be solved is based upon most of us waking up. It doesn’t have to be all of us. There will always be exceptions like the criminally insane and hopelessly unconscious. However, huge differences will be felt when our numbers reach in the millions. Currently Facebook has over 500 Million members that take part once per day – for 55 minutes. And, although Facebook has a revenue of about 1 billion dollars per year, we aren’t looking for that at The Solution. We giggle at the thought of 1 Billion Active Members, though. But, first things first.

The ridiculously silly thing is this. We can change the world in a few minutes per week. I pick Sundays. I like Sundays. Sunday is my day to catch up on email, plan the next week, get in touch with friends and do something good in the world. With a few seconds and a few clicks, you can help someone out with a cup of water or rice. Depending upon your area of interest, there are literally millions of things you can do – all of them easier than the 55 minutes people are spending on Facebook per day. 500 Million of them. That’s about 458 Million hours per day. When we look at this kind of power, doesn’t it seem like a good idea to get on the bandwagon and start a regular routine at doing something once per week or even once per day?

There are 52 Sundays in a year. If the number of Facebook users spent one hour per week helping others instead of what they usually do on fb, that’s 458 Million hours contributed per week. That’s almost 24 Billion hours per year. At that rate, Haiti could be rebuilt. Pakistan would transform. And the 22,000 children that die each day because we chose fb instead of helping out? It will come to zero very fast. Local neighborhoods will get safer and friendlier, politicians will finally be held accountable, and education systems will be transformed. This will all happen when we direct our energy toward something worthwhile and we persist. We learn. We take action. We make our voice heard and encourage others to do the same. As a result, the world economy will take a surprising and positive turn.

What did you do last year? How did you spend your 52 Sundays?


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The System is Broken.

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The System is Broken.

You know the story of the King’s new clothes. He didn’t have any. He was naked. But the townspeople were afraid to say that. They were afraid to talk about it or tell anyone. Not even each other.

I live in Malaysia these days. Not with the cash-laden expats in Kuala Lumpur, but with the locals in a smaller town. A tourist town. And the locals are Chinese. Not only Chinese blood but Chinese culture. More chock full of dragony goodness than the ones I got to know in China for 10 years. The Chinese have just taken over the economy by 80% in a Malaysian island called Penang. Some even say the Malays – who dominate the Gov, military and police by at least 90% – are afraid to go there. My Malay friends deny it. I believe it. The Malays in general don’t much like the Chinese here and the Chinese haven’t much respect for anyone but themselves. Bribery, lawlessness, gangsters, tribalism are rampant. And you know what? This province was just announced a ‘developed area’. The local king – they don’t act like public servants here – is beaming with pride – and all his fellow… can I say ‘cronies’? are beaming in harmony like gaudy neon lights. There’s just one problem. You won’t find a single citizen that has an ounce of respect for their Gov. In fact, the immediate response from any fair citizen is that their Gov is corrupt to the core. The Malays that run it are – despite their uniform arrogance and pride – in the pockets of the Chinese and their money. They will say that unless, of course, the ISA is listening. The ISA is Malaysia’s version of the Gestapo or CIA. They are there to make sure no one openly points out the flaws and corruption by swiftly throwing them in jail or worse. People just disappear. Poof. It works, too. Corrupt leaders have absolutely no accountability to anyone. Everywhere you go, there are paper forms to fill out for complaints, but no one reads them or gives a damn about what the forms say much less the people who wasted time filling them out.

But, what’s the point here? Am I just grumbling about Malaysia? Nope. I could just as easily point out how the Chinese Gov boasts the fastest train and computer today, but they jail not only free speakers, but their wives as well. They’ve also pulled off a special trick which makes China truly dangerous: they’ve convinced over 1.3 billion from within and abroad that they are right. Or, I could complain about Thailand, too. The ‘land of smiles’ that are believed sincere only to the short timers. The cash-rich visitors that are so impressed with the friendliness. The ones that haven’t seen the daily hit and runs of motorbikes by cars (part of the ‘culture’) or the policemen that write tickets for obviously fabricated violations so they can raise money for an upcoming party. Foreigners are killed all the time in Thailand. Some the fault of a basically corrupt system. Some the fault of their own drunken and sex-addicted stupidity. But I digress. It isn’t only Malaysia or China or any single country. It’s everywhere. Everywhere.

The systems we’ve created by our actions or passivity the world over are broken. Even the countries of Scandinavia which were traditionally the stronghold of high taxes but wonderful infrastructure are crumbling under the weight of immigration. Local residents are fleeing to other countries and lamenting their culture forever ruined by the fuzzy outsiders flocking in and exploiting their once extraordinary social services. Even their systems are broken.

Take the new rush to bring the U.S. leadership back under domination by the Republicans. Does anyone actually think that will make any difference? Perhaps those that are still under the fantasy that banks don’t create wars, and corporations don’t control leaders. But the rest of us know better. Rearrange the deck chairs, but this Titanic is still going down. While G. W. Bush sat and read a children’s book, Saudi’s with box cutters hit the world trade center in time for the controlled demo. Then his approval skyrocketed. Perhaps the only way to top him is to be a fireman sleeping while the city burns down. But this gets to the crux of the matter.

If citizens buy into a system that is called a democracy, but is designed to make the public powerless, what do they deserve? If humanity in general is more interested in reality TV or the affairs of Movie stars or going shopping, why should they get anything else but crooked rulers, incompetent puppets and police states? Yes, the system is broken. But which system are we talking about? This goes much deeper than some form of government or political party. Incremental changes to the systems we have now, are equal to moving the deck chairs on the Titanic ‘just a bit’. What is required is radical change. Radical change not by others, but by us. By ‘me’.

There are 4 steps that will be taken to transform the world from its present mess into one that works. First, the awareness that things are broken. Unless we acknowledge a problem, there’s no chance of solving it. Next we need to see our part in it and realize it is not up to others, it is up to ‘me’. Thirdly, a course that fits each of us needs to be chosen, and commitments made to consistently take action. Finally, this approach needs to be shared with others so that they, too, can contribute.

The system of being an armchair quarterback or couch potato or grumbler is broken. It doesn’t work. The only system that can work is conscious awareness by each of us and acting with social responsibility. Go ahead and vote if you like, then decide to do something that matters even more. Become socially responsible.

– Matthew Rover

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