Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good and Evil

Life has constantly been a battle of good and evil for me.  For a long time evil won and for a long time good has won but there has always been a battle.  I think there is not one without the other, that without free will there is no evil and without evil there could be no good, they go hand in hand.  What makes good and what makes evil?  Are people naturally evil or naturally good?  How can someone like the Dali Lama be evil or someone like Jeffrey Dahmer be good?  What do you believe is the basic nature of people?  I personally think that all people are good.  It is rough to swallow, but I can find good in almost everybody in some form or fashion, I can also find the negatives but I feel that the good has more power no matter what.  The unfortunate thing is that there are many situations and environments that facilitate evil.  Poverty, hunger, oppression, drugs, crime, needs that are not met are some very real environments that most of the world has to deal with and in these situations come alot of evil results, but are these people responsible for this evil or are the people that create that environment or situation responsible for facilitating this evil?  I think that the people who create it are at just as much fault because they have the power to change these environments and don't because maybe more taxes will be taken out of my check.  I know that if it came down to me versus someone who was trying to take what I had, I would do some real evil things but that doesn't make me an evil person and in many of these environments its do evil or I don't eat, do evil or I don't have a place to live, do evil or I die tonight and who wouldn't fight for those basic human needs.  Why are there so many people who live in this way in this world?  I think the answer to that starts with the kind of evils that are at work with alot of powerful people.  Are those people evil, no probably not, but they have systems and environments that allow them to continue on doing the evil that they do, it becomes delusional, crazy, and if you don't carry on with it what happens to you.  Alot of the wars that are going on right now are battles of good and evil, both of which are perceived differently by the other side, so which is right? which is wrong? who is responsible?  Are evil and good real aspects of these conflicts or do they work their way in due to the situation and environment that the conflict takes place in.  You could bet that if an army of crazed Glenn Beck's started invading my town I might rethink my opinions about owning a gun because that situation would create some evil doing for my survival.  The shame in this is that it is always easier to spot the evil.  The evil leads the news programs, heads the gossip magazines, and is the topic of people's conversations, where is the good?  Why doesn't good lead off the news programs and why don't people talk about the good more often.  Usually people only talk about the good in terms of fear which again is an evil working.  Recently I think more and more that we are all just a bunch of animals and it really is survival of the fittest and not everyone makes it-its not about good and evil but king of the jungle type shit because there seems to be major compassion lacking in so many areas-nobody has time to get involved-people cannot be bothered with others issues and problems because they have their own, lets cut money for education because we just don't give a fuck about the future and any sense of meaning of why we are here in the first place.  It's animalistic, so why can't we just go piss on the steps of congress and throw feces as well?  I wish that these righteous people would spend a month or two in some of the poorest neighborhood's in the US, they wouldn't last at all.  How is it their fault that they were born into systems of oppression that have been in place for decades, I would make the same choices they do.  I do some good everyday of my life, I am not on the sidelines playing the fence I am out there doing something about it but it is not nearly enough to change things for more than a handful of people, these are big problems that need big answers and I hope some good can find a way to shine through.  It amazes me that these people that do evil due to their situations are kinder than some of these people who put them into that poverty.  That is how I know that people are at the core good.  Resilience, people fight for what they feel is right and good but depending on your situation and environment those can be very different things.  I hope that if you read this you do not continue to contribute to the ambivalent neglect for people that have less than you or that you do not continue to find the excuse for the easy way out but to do something to change not only yourself but others that need it.  Our culture has oppressed and neglected a great amount of people and I always think of that saying "The first shall be last and the last shall be first" and I take stock in that.  Jesus always hung out with the poor, not the rich but yet Christianity seems to work politically only for the rich.  There will always be evil and there will always be good, it all depends on how you look at it, but try not to judge, because you never know what you would do if the roles were switched up.  So what are you, good or evil?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Snoop gets Busted

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade you have at least heard of the television series "The Wire".  A few years ago I kept repeatedly hearing of this series as one of the best shows in the history of television but of course it was on HBO which is not television, it's HBO.  We started renting the discs on Netflix and after the first episode we were hooked, completing the whole 5 season series within the next couple of months.  The Wire is incredibly provocative and written so well that there are levels of plots and story lines going on all at once.  Being a huge Sopranos fan which looked at psychology and the Americanized Italian Mafia, The Wire is great as it looks at many aspects of city life in the modern age, drugs, crime, law, institutions, schools, ports, media, government, and the black communities that have been worn down by the war on drugs.  Growing up running into the weedspots on Hamilton Hill and Arbor Hill I related to some of the neighborhood crime aspects but never to the drastic extent of a southern city like Baltimore I related alot to the shows depiction of drugs and addiction and given my current field of work in the Criminal Justice System this show was the realest look at what truly goes on in these poor run down communities where it truly is as Notorious BIG said "the streets are a short stop, either you are slinging crack rock or you gotta wicked jump shot" and for many people, in AMERICA, this is the truth.  If you haven't seen this show I would suggest you check it out, everyone that I have turned on to it has been just as obsessed with it as we were when we first saw it.  Also there are many references to it among film writers, critics, and sociologists across the country.  Some of the most prestigious Universities in the country offer classes that examine The Wire, Universities such as Duke, UC Berkley, Harvard, and John Hopkins.  Barack Obama has even said that it is by far his favorite TV series. 
As my sister lives in Baltimore and we have spent some time there in the past few years, it is evident to see how America has let some of its most prestigious cities fall to dust and let some parts resemble third world countries due to the war on drugs--this doesn't make world news, but it should.  In November we drove through miles of deserted boarded up houses with Mercedes benz's parked in front-what is your chance of survival if you are born into a community like that?? Most of the people I know, wouldn't last a day.  Unfortunately these issues like crack cocaine, are viewed mostly as Black American problems and who cares right? Some states now are trying to make welfare and food stamps illegal unless you can pass a drug test first, what about the kids in those situations? States cutting money for DSS, mental health, planned parent hood and education for inner city kids is some of the stupidest ways of thinking I have ever heard but that is another story.
If you want to see what it is really like for most Americans-watch The Wire.  We are all effected by institutions in some way or another, government, law, workplace, law enforcement, prison, rehabilitation, media, education, commerce, and the economy.  Each season takes a different look at different aspects of Baltimore's inner workings and as the show is written by a former police officer and beat writer for the cities newspaper they writing goes more in depth than anything television has ever done.  Season one examines the illegal drug trade, season two the port systems, season three city governments, season four the school system, and season five the ultimate..print media.  It is unreal to see how these all tie together and how it effects what we all do on a daily basis.  There are many workings and obstacles to overcome that make the process much more in depth than say CSI or Law in Order where they figure it out in an hour.  Most criminal cases get dismissed, it is a real pain and process to actually get a conviction.  So realistic is this show that they use real Baltimore crime figures in the filming process and none was more chilling and haunting than Snoop.
Omar was bad ass and sadistic, Chris was cold blooded, Barksdale and Marlow were on some other shit but Snoop was grimy.  Stephen King called Snoop the most chilling character that he had ever seen or read about and it is true.  Which is why if you are squeemish, don't watch, my mother has nightmares from this show.  When you see Snoop on the screen it is disturbing and what makes it that way is that she really did some of these things that were in the show.  She killed somebody when she was 14 and witnessed another murder and plead the fifth and did her time, there are not criminals of this level out there anymore and as my sister sent me the link this morning (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-drug-raids-20110310,0,5092225.story ) Snoop was arrested in a city wide take down of 60 members of a high powered, top level drug ring in Baltimore.  When reading the story it is something completely out of The Wire.  Squads of 8-10 DEA, FBI, ATF, and city PO-lice assembling at the Ravens stadium (right next to my sister) before heading out to arrest about 60 people.  What is tragic about this is that this is a person who had a way out.  She was on TV shows and is in an upcoming movie with one of my favorite actors Gary Oldman, but that wasn't enough.  Ultimately drug money is unlike any other money in the amounts that you can make-high risk-high reward (like Wall Street).  Instead of doing something like ending this war on drugs which obviously 30 years in, has done nothing but killed people, filled ER's, filled prisons, and allowed cheaper, purer drugs on to the streets of America and the taxpayer pays for all of that.  Locking people up, then releasing them back into the same environment does nothing but continue the cycle that starts so poorly in our education systems.  Those criminal means of survival inside those four walls become how you deal with the world when you are released which then trains generations of people to associate with the world in a criminalistic mindset from early on which can cripple communities. I could rant on this forever as I see it and live with it on a daily basis but what I don't hear are people who are coming up with solutions to these problems.  Until you know what it is like to walk in another persons shoes then don't ever make judgements like these rich, white, politicians that make decisions in this country for no one but the rich white people that they serve.  Every religion and high being belief I have ever come across talks about how you treat the people who have the least around you, the poor, and most of what I read is that no one gives a shit.  The gangs of America start when kids are too young to make an informed decision, most of them 11 or 12 years old and that's the future, so America stop being ignorant and fix this shit, spend money on preventative measures instead of wasting it when it is too late.  Education should be the top priority, maybe if it is was Snoop wouldn't be going to do some hard time now and hundreds of thousands of other young black men and women could have a chance of doing something with their lives instead of knowing who the top dealer in the neighborhood is more than who the President of the United States is.  Something has to change.  When there is nothing to do, no programs, and nothing to compete with the drug money what do you expect these kids to do??? I expect them to do exactly what Snoop did because if you lived in those neighborhoods you would do it too, not cause you are evil or wrong but because you have to find a way to live, so before you judge try to understand and try to be someone that changes the world and doesnt make it worse with your ignorance.  The Wire--check it out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring is Here!!!

The time of year has come again to make my friends back in NY very jealous of the weather as in NY there is still snow on the ground and acculmulation falling on a regular basis while down here the trees are blooming, the sun is out, the windows have been open and there is the feeling of summer right around the corner.  This used to be one of my least favorite times of year as March just never seemed to end but since being in the South, I love this time of year because it is nice out but there is not alot of humidity yet.  Also, baseball is just around the corner with Opening Day in the Bronx only 23 days away.  There is hope all around, nature can be very motivating.  Right around now is also the time that the summer plans start getting made as more and more bands release their touring schedules, baseball tickets go on sale and you start to figure out what you can and cannot do this summer.  After last summer, which was one of the best I ever had, I am looking foward to this summer for different reasons.  I don't have to worry about Weddings and new jobs and graduating school.  I am about a year into a job I love and a year away from school.  We will also celebrate a real fast year of marriage this summer and will try to see family as well.  As of now there are a few big trips planned, a few good shows with real good friends, and we are considering getting a dog.  I am looking foward to this summer and enjoying this time of year because the anticipation is exciting and I can see it right around the corner.  If you are still staring at snow do as Tom Petty said and Drive South! 

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Hero of the Week...Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen has been everywhere in the last two weeks from crazy radio spots, to news programs and late night TV, to baseball practices and TV studios, it has been difficult to not witness what has been going on.  Basically the man has been partying like a rock star again and it has caused his #1 TV show to be cancelled for the season.  Now here is why he is my hero for this week...because he is who he is and he shows the hypocrisy in all these other people out there in the media.  Part of me thinks he may be far out there since he is coming off of alot of cocaine but at the same time he seems very calculated with what he is doing.  I get very frustrated by TV shows and media that talk about people who struggle with drug problems and are in and out of rehab because they make people's destructive misery into entertainment for the viewing public which is pretty disgusting when I think about it.  There are flip sides to that thought but having lived and experienced it, that form of entertainment is cheap, false, exploitation of tragic human experience.  If you have ever known someone who was going through addiction, and were there when it was bad, it is not entertainment, it can be tragic, the success rate is very slim.  Someone like Lindsey Lohan is only important at this point because of her rehab stints, it's a joke.  Charlie Sheen is my hero here because he tells it like it is, he likes to get high and doesn't see much wrong with it and you know what???more power to him.  I am a believer that if people have freedom then they should have the personal freedom to do whatever they want to their bodies, including take substances that change the way your body feels, this is OK by me as long as it doesn't hurt someone else.  This country is very backwards with their stance on this because they allow you to take tobacco and alcohol(the most dangerous substances on earth) but restrict your freedom to use other drugs.  Charlie Sheen is using that freedom and now that it seems to be effecting others, like his kids and coworkers he has been getting clean (or moving on to more illicit designer drugs that not alot of people know about but educated drug users would now) and trying to make a change.  The only reason he is as famous as he is right now is because everybody wants to witness his downfall and destruction---how sick but how true, like the Lady Gaga song "Paparazzi" America loves to see you fail.  What I also love about Sheen at this point is that he is not failing at this time and the media is so frustrated by this that they spin it around to seem like he has lost his mind when he is just being himself and taking on everybody else's judgment.  You can't say things like "Can't is the cancer of happen" if you are completely out there and not doing something different.  We all don't know Charlie Sheen or what it is like to be Charlie Sheen so really it is none of our business what he does, thinks or becomes.

The other part that I find interesting about all of this is that because he is choosing to get clean in his own way he is all of a sudden not serious about getting clean-again judgement.  There is no cure for addiction flat out and as someone who works in the field, many people get sober in many different ways, what works for some people doesn't work for others.  Charlie has been through it so many times that some of the basic info and knowledge about substance addiction he already knows and at this point in his using career, Charlie probably has more knowledge about this than the Dr's he has been treated by, he has a lifetime of experience and still uses so at this point it sounds like he needs and wants something more to cope with his high speed thought process and I can relate to that.  As an addict alot is searching for what is next and my life today is no different.  I find myself constantly looking for something new, greater, different...I am constantly learning to curb this enthusiasm which is addict behavior and when looking into some form of treatment again it is no different.  Since there is no cure and the American Medical Association and AA and all the others have ideas but no sure way of how to treat this disorder, searching for something to treat it can be helpful-do whatever works.  His statements about "winning" and "plan better" are basic thoughts and actions about choosing a different life that more suits your existence and when you are "banging through 7 gram rocks" in an evening and surviving to become as successful as he is, I would feel like I had fucking Tiger Blood too.  3 grams of cocaine in an hour is the technical lethal dose.  We should all take our actions with the attitude of winning and planning better, those are basic concepts of life.  Also, every drug test he has been taking has been negative for all use of substances and someone who is using that much is not doing 5:30am workouts that would put an athlete to shame. 

I am hoping for a positive outcome from all the Sheen craziness.  I think it would be great to shove all that judgement back into the media's faces and show that people can get off drugs in different ways and people should be allowed to be who they are.  In my mind drug use is not morally wrong if it does not effect others.  Many cultural, religious and spiritual groups use substances as a higher form of learning, understanding, experiences and consciousness.  Alcohol itself kills more people every year than all other drugs combined so why judge cocaine use alone.  I believe people have the right to do what they want to their own bodies.  In no way should someone else's pain ever be your source of entertainment, that is sick and I feel sorry for you if that is how you get your entertainment.  I will be anxiously waiting for the return of a show I never watched just to see him succeed.  We should all take something from Charlie Sheen in this case and live our lives passionately.  We should be more about "winning" and "plan better" with our lives as most of America doesn't plan for shit and that is evidenced by the debt that our nation carries.  Take control of your lives and actions because if anything Charlie Sheen at this time IS doing that...are you???