Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in September, 2016

3 Paths to Adulthood

By on Sep 25, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

I’d like you to think for a moment about the last homeless person you happened to encounter. Ask yourself: What was his or her story? Do you know? Now I’d like you to think about the last 18 to 21 year-old you met in any walk of life — from a middle class or wealthy family, any high school grad will do. Ask yourself: Was this young adult ready to go out into the world completely on his or her own? Do you know? Now consider that every year our foster care system emancipates thousands of 18 year-olds, presenting them with the rights and responsibilities of full independent adulthood. They are on their own to go to college, get a job, find an apartment, obtain credit, feed themselves, clothe themselves, seek medical care and insurance, all of the things that you and I learned to do over a period of time that likely transcended our 18th birthdays. What do you think the chances are that a young adult released from the foster care system can sign a lease without credit, get a job without references, obtain medical insurance without an address, or attend college without a bank account? If you answered “not very good,” you’re starting to get the picture. What happens if that 18 to 21 year-old goes out into the world without any support system of any kind? Imagine the worst because that’s what happens. Nowhere to live, no legal income, no reason to worry about the future because all that matters is surviving the present — will hungry, cold, isolated people do desperate and horrible things if the only thing that matters is surviving the present and no one cares if they make it through the day? You bet they will. You and I would, too. Now I would like you to look at the faces in the picture at the top of this page. These are some of the participants and staff in the current cohort of the Transitional Independent Living Program (TILP) at Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services. Yeah, that sometime city slicker in the cowboy hat on the right is yours truly hosting the 8th Annual Celebrating Children Gala we recently held at the Autry Museum of the American West....

Read More

Politically Incorrect Is Harder Than You Think

By on Sep 5, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

There’s something eerie about the Facebook world-view, which challenges us to live publicly out loud, to reveal ourselves globally and without filters, as we communicate in real-time our every thought and action, trivial or serious. Mark Zuckerberg, at a relatively young age, has suggested the world will be a better place if we live more open lives, if we have no fears about what is private and what is public about us. That’s quite a counterintuitive notion given our past, and one that has made him enormously wealthy in its adoption at various levels among a billion or so human beings across every settled zone of Planet Earth. Curiously, I find the thundering rhetoric around the U.S. Presidential Election has taken some of that “openness ideal” into the still largely uncharted territory of political correctness. Here are two opposing views in the argument: Am I being unnaturally confined if I allow myself to be restricted by a set of language norms accepted broadly as being politically correct? *** or *** Am I a more authentic person for saying whatever is on my mind absent artificially imposed rules somehow intended to protect the feelings of others but violating my first amendment rights? Now consider the underlying question: Are these two viewpoints in fact diametrically opposed? Is someone a hypocrite if in public he speaks politely and without offensive language, yet out of the public eye makes racist slurs among friendlies? Or is that individual living more candidly by saying whatever is on his mind via stream of consciousness as long as his expressions align with his actual belief sets? Said another way, if someone isn’t particularly sympathetic to embracing social diversity, are we as a society better off with that potentially upsetting speech articulated or kept silent? Those trying to stomp out political correctness might suggest we all are better off saying whatever is on our minds, but I am going to suggest that this has nothing whatsoever to do with political correctness. Bigotry is bigotry. Political correctness does not ensure civility when it is unwillingly imposed; it simply masks a dangerous expression from public view in the name of conflict avoidance. Of course all of us have the ultimate hypocritical alternative: to speak cordially in public bound by understood norms of political correctness but then go hog-wild and say what we want anonymously online no matter how...

Read More