Tragedy and Some Thoughts

Tree of Life Temple Pittsburgh

Nothing ever good comes from violence…

I cannot begin to speak about sorrow. The killing of innocents is a crime against humanity. Saturday’s killing of eleven innocent Jewish Faithful at Tree of Life, was the worst killing of Jews in U.S. History.

Like I said, Nothing ever good comes from violence.

But you know, with every word that President Trump speaks, is another stab at the moral fabric of the nation and the world. Trump knows nothing about being Diplomatic or Human. I don’t think he even knows what it means to be a human being, because the only thing he is concerned with is himself and what’s in it for him.

And his minions do his bidding. One of them sent FIFTEEN, yes, let’s repeat that number, FIFTEEN pipe bombs to assorted critics of the president. What kind of lunatic does that ?  A Trumpian Lunatic, that’s who …

The division of the country is at an all time HIGH. And the bringing together of people, is at an all time LOW.

The only reason I have Twitter is to read news and to be able to Tweet @realdonaldtrump …

I cannot help myself at night, when I send out my presidential tweet of truth and justice. I cannot help myself because the only way to fight fire, is with fire … It may not be very healthy, but I get a rush, knowing that just maybe, the asshole in chief will read some of my very pointed and critical judgments of him.

We mourn the loss of so many innocents in Pittsburgh. The Jewish community here in Montreal, in concert with many many others, have come together in recent days and nights to remember and to mourn and to show solidarity with those who have lost family and friends.

Eternal Rest Grant Them and May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them.

I know the question that is being asked is What does it really mean to be Jewish in today’s world ? Not that people are walking around with eyes in the back of their heads, but, it is safe to say that people are a little more wary of their surroundings, as of late.

Sad that with the vitriol being tossed into the fray, the crazies are out if force and you never know when a DELPORABLE is going to jump out from behind a bush and WHACK YOU !!!

Yes, I said the word DEPLORABLE …

Because that’s what they are, every single one of them. Those forever Trump and those I only have eyes for TRUMP are all DEPLORABLE !!!

If you do ONE POSITIVE THING, you MUST VOTE if you live in the U.S.

It is a Moral Imperative.

We must be decisive and speak as one, because we are not going to take this shit any longer.

You are either with us or you are against us … Who Said that ???? G.W.B. 

The weather is beginning to get frightful. It has been miserably cold, and rainy. On last nights trip out I dressed appropriately, but found when I got to the meeting, I was colder than I had been in a while.

I bought a new NIKE SNOOD. That is a neck warmer and face guard for footie goalies. I bought it from a shop in the U.K. I found it to work very well.

They say it might be clear for the kiddies on Wednesday night for Trick or Treating. Like I said, it has been raining steadily for days now.

Sunday we sat a Group Conscience meeting for St. Matthias. And it was a gloriously sane and calm event. There really were no grievance to air, and in the end, we only had a list of simple things to talk about, logistical really, as our moderator spoke of. Easy Peasy …

Last night we talked about sobriety and wealth, in the form of economic insecurity from the Big Book. The Family Afterwards.

Sobriety takes time, and not everything all comes back at once and at the same time. Before you can receive, one must be spiritually fit, in the sense that there is an order to the universe, and when we get sober, things come back, ever so slowly. As attested by my own personal experience with money, wealth and material success.

Some people don’t read this chapter of the book right way. but there is some good advice there to have for the future.

We had three anniversaries. One of our young women, who struggled over the holidays last winter, made her year. I told her that if she stayed sober over last Christmas, I guaranteed her that she would STAY sober. And she did. Because I have had opportunity to remind of of Christmas night, last Christmas on several occasions when she was in the thick of it.

A couple more women got a year and another four years. We are so very proud of all of our girls.

We packed the house with upwards of 90 people last night.

And we are staying at our new location. We had our business meeting and a friend and I forced a non confidence vote on the old location, because they have been dicking us around for months and months, so we forced the issue and had a solid vote to remain in our new location for the long haul, because that church has given us carte blanche, and told us that we were welcome to use the space as long as we needed it, no questions asked, AND the rent is cheap.

In 40 days … I hit seventeen years !!!

Hopefully and by the Grace of God.

300,000

It only takes one word, one story, or one action, to impact a life.

We don’t know, sometimes, that what we do, changes lives. We don’t know that something we said might have been the words needed, or the story, poignant, or the action necessary.

I heard it said tonight, “The More I help others, the More I see God.”

St. Matthias turned 71 years years old today, as the one meeting in Montreal, that has been in the same location for 71 years. The English fellowship began in 1945, in the home of Dave B. There were only a handful of men in those days. But from a few sprung more than a dozen, and that dozen turned into twenty five people.

In The Mid Nineteen Forties, the fellowship rented a room, at the Old Montreal Forum (right up the street from my home)  at a prodigious $10.00 a month. Pretty cheap as rent goes for a meeting in 1945. But, the alcoholics as they were, back in the day, enjoyed playing cards till the wee hours of the morning. I guess they needed someplace to be. I can identify.

Sadly, the Forum decided that playing cards till the wee hours of the morning was unacceptable, and tossed the merry sober bunch out onto the street. It was then in 1947 that the St. Matthias group began.

For Seventy one years, people have come through our doors. Calculating the numbers, by our matriarch tonight, she mused that probably, 300,000 people have walked through our doors.

Imagine, just for a moment…

Imagine, just for a moment, That somewhere in the endless reaches of the universe, on the outer edge of a galaxy of a hundred thousand million suns, deep within a cluster of slowly forming planets, that a small sphere of just the right size, lies just the right distance, from its Mother Star, cooling in the coldness of space, try to imagine … 

One of my lady friends drove us to the church this evening, with a car load of groceries, that had been purchased and put together, for tonight’s festive anniversary. With ten members, we dished out a smorgasbord of food, enough to feed over 100 people.

We had set out 140 chairs, and the excess back row at twenty. So 160 chairs.

Every seat was filled.

A few months ago, my lady friend told her story to us. I have said before that a segment of our women have serious death spiral stories, enough of a death spiral, that upon hearing said story, you would think, “there is no way she can pull out of this and survive.” But she and a handful of other women did just that. They survived, got sober and thrived !!!

Tonight, we were blessed to hear her husband share his story.

We don’t know, what we don’t know, when we show up. Bedraggled, and sullen, short on time, and short in temper. We don’t necessarily trust the people we have walked in on.

And we surely, may not be ready for the HUG. You know that HUG that can only come from a recovering alcoholic!

When we hear the words; Love and Support and Hope and Life, we might not believe with our own ears, what we are hearing. But I know, for me, and our man tonight, the people who were here, when we got here, said just those words to us, and to everybody else who came in after us.

They loved us, until we could love ourselves, beyond our wildest dreams.

Imagine, that if 300,000 people graced our little basement hall, ponder a moment the odds of just how many of them are still sober today.

That number itself would be sobering for sure …

At the end of the night, we did a Sober Countdown. With over 100 people sitting in the room, as a whole, when counted, we had collectively lived 938 sober years,, 78 months, 2 weeks and, 4 days as a whole.

Not many OLD, OLD timers come out much any more. And we did not see the really high number sober folks as in past years. But we hit some in the high 40’s.

In 52 days, by the Grace of God, I will hit Seventeen years of continuous sobriety. A good portion of those seventeen years has been spent, in our little basement hall, every Thursday night. I’ve been on Set up and Coffee for a long time. Our group is heavy on itinerant members who travel often for business and in the Winters, many of them migrate South for the season, so for those months, we fly by the seat of our pants, filling in all the jobs with a short crew of folks who are in town, on any given Thursday.

We aim to change those numbers, in the future.

We are trying to figure out a better way to carry the message, and get people to engage, as new members. We aim to raise our games when it comes to sponsorship and really working with newcomers.

The Twelve Step Rep job is a tough sell. We don’t see many folks come in the door, the first time, take a chip, THEN STAY …

However among us, those of us with TIME do stand up when called upon to represent the group, for both the women and the men. Not many people want to listen to me, or hear what I have to say.

Tonight, I was talking to a friend about her, and as soon as I turned the conversation onto me, she turned away, and began chatting with anyone standing around us, as if she had not seen them in ages, and needed to suddenly catch up.

I Noticed the snub … From someone I did not expect it from.

As the meeting closed, I did a cursory clean up of supplies and carried them to the kitchen for storage. Everybody was eating, and like I said, nobody really wants to hear me talk, so I took my leave, locked the outer door, and came home for dinner.

I enjoy the supporting role in a meeting. I don’t need to be up front at the table, I am more than happy to come in quietly and make some coffee and put out the chairs and supplies, so that when people arrive the coffee is ready and snacks are on the table to be eaten.

That is the most thankless job in the fellowship. And in as many years, I’ve seen a few alcoholics, have ego attacks and loose their cookies, in front of the meeting itself, pissing and moaning that nobody thanked them.

I survived all of them. Today.

A room ready to rock and roll, as the first guest arrives, usually guarantees that they will return, over and over again, because I make a MEAN POT OF COFFEE. Coffee that will keep you up past your regular bed time…

I know how I got sober. Just like I know how all the elder men and women at St. Matthias got sober. We did it the hard way. Working our asses off for each and every day of sobriety.

Sobriety is not easy. But the book does say that “We tried to find the easier softer way, but we could not …” The Fellowship IS the easier softer way, if only people believed us. First they have to Read the Book, and follow some simple suggestions.

And one day at a time, God willing … They too will get sober, in spite of themselves.

A good night was had by all.

300,000 people … Imagine that …

In Order to Move Forward, We Must Review the Past…

We’ve all done things, that we might not want to own up to. It is difficult watching the massive amount of strife going on all around us.

The easy out for what ails us here in Canada, is N.I.M.B.Y. (Not in my back yard). It is far too easy to just turn the channel and ignore what is going on in the world, but I cannot.

In the past little while, a good number of the women I grew up with for the last 40 years, have stated truths, that I had no idea had happened. What do you say to your friends, when they say, out loud, that they too, have been sexually assaulted as young girls.

In a time when we all spent inordinate amounts of time together, sharing meals, homes, and bedrooms. Somewhere in the middle of our lives going on, my friends were violated.

I had no idea.

Human beings are flawed. None of us are perfect. Show me a human being without a skeleton in their closet. I was raised by parents who had skeletons in their closets.

I was having a conversation in my head the other day with the brother who refuses to acknowledge my existence, when I ponder my dead father, and the possibility that my mother will die, and as I was told, nobody would tell me. So I talk to them in my head, when I sleep.

How can you be angry at me for my choices, when it was You to begin with who pushed me out into the street alone, with no street smarts, and left me to the wind, because you could not reconcile your skeleton with my reality.

My father abused me, in every way possible.

So when my friends say, out loud, their truths, I can safely admit that I get it. I understand.

They call it the Reckoning …

The world has exploded and chaos reigns at the moment. It is not safe for any of us, right at the moment. It has been said by wiser men than I that,
“People who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it…”

Drinking is not an outside issue for many of us. The severity of just how much one drank, and the situations that followed are what worries us.

I can share a story about high school. A story that many of the boys who participated in this story, would never admit that they participated in them.

I know this because, at one time or another, I went looking for old friends, and they point blank told me to get lost. They had moved on, and I was not invited to join them, because “I” had the drinking problem, don’t you know.

Much drinking took place in my social circle. We even had our own dedicated “Funnel” that was employed at odd times of serious drinking.

Boys and girls drank together. Not that I knew what went on with my friends, to a great degree. But when boys and girls would drink together in the same room, the girls were afforded their dignity. I know this because if girls were invited to the party, they were given certain directions, prior to drinking with us.

We had designated drivers, and after such heavy metal drinking parties, my friend’s sister would gather the girls to clean them up, and change their clothes, and drive them around town, while they puked, to get it out of their systems, before a second designated driver, brought them safely home.

My best friend, who was my best friend for a number of years, transgressed our friendship, by sexually violating my cousin one night. That transgression cost us a friendship, when my father made a call, fifteen hundred miles from home, to my cousins father, who flew to Florida to confront my best friend to ask him “why did you take my daughter’s virginity?”

I don’t know, to this day, the words spoken by my uncle and my father to my then, best friend, because decades later when I quizzed him about that night, he rebuffed me and hung up the phone.

Not a shining moment for him I guess.

Drinking does take a toll on the drinker, and every single person in the orbit of said drinker. Because if you drank like we did, and we know, right at this very moment, a certain man, drank as hard as we did when he was a kid, and he refuses to own up for his actions.

I can tell you from personal experience, that blackout drinking is common. I can also tell you that my friends who were educated in religious institutions, along side the secular schools, drank hard, and some even harder than we did. Because if you were educated by the Brothers of St. Christopher, You’d Drink Too !!!

There are regrets I have to this day. Mistakes I have made. People I have hurt. Memories that won’t go away. Visuals that are burned into the back of my brain. There are things each of us, will take to our graves.

Sometimes, letting sleeping dogs lie, is the best advice.

There are just some stories that will never be righted, for one reason or another. There are some people, who will never allow us to be recognized as humans, imperfect humans, who just would like to be loved.

For once in our lives.

Guns Germs and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered, how did we get here? Where did we come from?  Why here and Why now? Why are some countries rich, and others poor? Why do human live where they live today, and where did the first peoples come from?

Being an avid reader poses challenges now and then. Picking up a substantive book, and reading it from cover to cover, requires time, treasure and commitment. I have several substantial books in my “read” library stack. It took me quite a while to consume Guns, Germs and Steel. Not only does this book require time and treasure, it demands of its reader, patience, understanding, and a desire to learn; something that I found, was enlightening and educational.

Jared Diamond begins some 13,000 years ago, when the world was first populated with hunter gatherers. The continents were finding their places, ice ages, came and went. And early humans, as archeologists have studied began to populate the earth. When oceans were shallower, and land bridges existed, in several locations on the earth, people moved here and there.

Indigenous peoples worldwide don’t garner very much respect from the conquering peoples who overtook them. There were multiple indigenous communities worldwide, before the proverbial “white man” came and either infected them with disease, enslaved them to serve, relegated them to reserves or killed them outright in wars and conquests.

This book is methodical in its approach to humanity. And in pain staking detail we learn what peoples lived in prehistory. We learn where they lived to begin with and where they moved, on the earth as time progresses.

We learn how advances in food production, disasters of germs and disease, and the advancing industrial revolution, where guns and steel overpower those who did not have them.

We learn that in historical times, conquest and war, dispensed with entire groups of people. You did not only get the peoples who took up conquest, but the people who suffered because of it. The people who were here, before we got here, grew into some, successful communities. In the end, those vibrant indigenous communities were laid wasted by diseases brought by the conquerors, and the wars perpetuated in the names of Kings, Queens or Country.

As the continents were solidified, where people lived either assisted their success or advanced their demise. Where you lived, in relation to the latitude of your environs, either helped you, or harmed you. The success of peoples, farming, livestock, and growth all depended greatly, on where you sat, on the earth, in terms of latitude and longitude.

The spread of all things necessary for life, worked well, in areas with an expansive East – West axes. Those countries with North – South, axes, did not fare so well, the population and spread of food, animals and technology flourished in the Eurasian, East West Expanse of location.

There is a direct correlation between the location of a people, and the environment they found themselves in. From the Equator, reaching either North or South, temperate regions flourished. Guns, Germs and Steel tells the story of how the world became what it has.

Time, Distance, Location and the problems associated with location either helped peoples grow and succeed, or they took much longer to achieve certain benchmarks in their human existence. All things moving East – West grew faster than those things moving North – South.

Time is measured in hundreds of years,  The movement of people, goods, animals, and agriculture took TIME. And it seems that in pre-history, time is a very important component in the building of peoples, world wide.

Jared Diamond spins a very intricate web of story telling about Time, Talent, and Treasure. How the world built itself, learned how to govern itself, farm the land, produce food, and be able to store that food over Time, and then industrialize, are very important factors in human existence.

Guns, Germs and Steel is not a simple story, it is complex on many levels and explains the difficulty early peoples faced, in maintaining a home, finding food to eat, and learning the hard way, especially, “what not to eat.”

Every continent on the earth has a particular Origin Story. Every peoples who populate the earth, where ever that may be, also have complex Origin Stories. This very complex but wonderful study of humanity is one of the best books I have ever read, on the subject of just How We Got Here !

How each continent and how each people on each continent arrived where they did, and prospered to the level they are at today is studied exhaustively in this text. The Origins of People, Language, Customs and Lives and how all these things moved from one area of the world to other areas of the world is fascinating.

No stone is left un-turned by page 444 …

Pulitzer Prize books must contain certain factors that I always look for, IF a particular book has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Because I have read a handful of winners, that turned out to be real losers.

Guns, Germs and Steel is a Winner !!!

Read This Book !