9 years later I still find Hope Across America as Spare Key Executive Director

Today is my 9-year anniversary of having the privilege of serving as Spare Key’s Executive Director.

A lot has changed in the past 9 years.

  • we’ve served well over 4,000 families facing a medical crisis since 1997, a significant number of them over the past 9 years.
  • we expanded our capacity to serve families from 1 state in 1997 to 50 states as of October 2020.
  • we help families facing any kind of significant medical crisis – regardless of their illness, their injury, or their income.
  • we changed how we help families by building a revolutionary community based, crowdfunding platform called helpmebounce.org.

Yet, throughout the past 9 years what hasn’t changed has been our commitment to help more families bounce and not break.

From our board of directors to our small, but dedicated staff, Spare Key has remained committed to the idea that we should do all we can when we can to help any family facing a medical crisis avoid adding a financial crisis to their life.

The fact remains that the greatest threat to a family holding on to their home – and avoiding a catastrophic financial collapse – is a medical crisis experienced by any member of a family.

Spare Key knows that first-hand.

We’ve seen families whose mom is in the fight against cancer – a dad struggling to overcome a devastating injury – a child trying to live with a profound birth defect – or the impact of being born too soon. 

Chronic diseases to every organ – mental illness – and yes, even the loss of life of a loved one.

We’ve been there to help as much as we can as often as we can, and we hope to continue to do so as long as we can.

Every imaginable illness – every imaginable disease – we’ve seen them.

But we have also seen the enormous generosity and kindness of strangers who have stepped up – time and time again – to make a difference in the lives of those facing the worst crisis of all.

The end of hope.

When hope is gone. 

All is gone.

But, since 1997 thousands of strangers, year after year, have come to the aid of strangers to help them bounce and not break.

Strangers they will never meet.

Strangers who will never have the opportunity to say, “thank you” for the kindness of a stranger reaching out to make a difference in the dark night of their family’s life.

Spare Key is, after all, about hope.

It represents that glimpse of light in those moments of darkness when a family feels desperate – afraid – alone.

We are that hand that reaches out in the darkness and reminds families that they are not alone on their journey.

In 2020, facing the devastating impact of covid-19 on the economy, Spare Key nearly found itself facing its own moment of darkness.

With nearly every event cancelled – individual donations drying up – corporate and foundation grants disappearing – we were faced with a clear choice.

We could close the doors and hope someone else could serve those whose illness or injury may not fit a particular funding or eligibility category – but whose family needed help.

Or we could fight like Hell to stay afloat.

We chose the latter.

The Spare Key board of directors – the staff – and donors – chose to find hope.

We started by finding hope on a river. 

A raft.  over 10 states.  2 months.  1,700 miles.

Over every mile we travelled together we met strangers who became friends who became hope for Spare Key.

When we were done, we fulfilled our promise to be a charity that would help families anytime, anyway, and anywhere in America.

Nineteen days from my 9-year anniversary at Spare Key we are looking to keep that promise alive in 2021 and beyond.

From across America, we are inviting you and thousands of others to join us for a one-hour virtual celebration of “Hope Across America.”

A celebration fundraiser to raise funds for Spare Key so we can keep doing what we have been doing since 1997:  bringing hope to families facing a medical crisis.

Registration is free and you can register right now by clicking here:  https://bit.ly/2YHogvt

We aren’t asking you for a commitment of hours – just one.

An hour to celebrate.

To laugh.  To cry.  To donate.  To bid.  To celebrate.

To bring hope.

I was asked recently what has touched me most in my 9 years as Spare Key executive director. 

It’s a tough question.  But it’s one that is as easy for me to say today as it was on my first day as executive director.

It is the profound kindness of strangers to help strangers.

It is what makes this country we live in the most remarkable in the world.

It’s what makes you who give to Spare Key so we may give to others the most remarkable people in the world.

It’s what makes me the most remarkably blessed person in the world to have the privilege to lead this organization.

I hope you will join us on Saturday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. cst as we come together to bring the remarkable gift of Hope Across America.

On this dawning day of America’s Democracy I hope for a greater America

On this dawning day of America’s Democracy, I hope for a better, far greater America.

Not the Republican or Democratic America.

Nor the one where the Left flies its flag on one side, and the Right flies its on the other.

But, an America where we all fly one flag, the American flag.

I hope for an America where we don’t forget those who are still fighting and struggling to have their piece of the dream we’ve all been promised for so long.

The one where poor Americans, the white and black ones, and all the other colors of the poor amongst us, are our priority, not our problem.

Where the dignity of labor for those who dig our ditches, empty our bedpans, make our beds, cook our food is no less valued than those who run our corporations, pass our laws, deliver judgment upon us and manage our portfolios.

There are the voices of Americans that must be heard. 

Those who want the same opportunity as anybody else.  They must be heard.

Those who want to be part of building a better America.  They must be heard.

Those who believe the system has let them down, that the deck is stacked against them, that their future has been ignored.  They must be heard.

White, black, or whatever color they are, they are Americans.  They must be heard.

Those Americans who wish to deprive someone else of the better America, who choose to bear grievances against others because of their skin color or whatever characteristics distinguish them as a human being, they must be heard.

But, not because we should build the America they want. 

Because they represent the America we should not want.

They are not just this group or that group of Americans.  But, they are a group of Americans.

We should work to find common ground where it exists, but we must never give ground to the idea that their smallest view of what it means to be an American is the best view of America.

If we do not hear their voices, we will be deaf to the sounds of the America they want collapsing around our Constitution and our way of life.

On this dawning day of America’s Democracy, I hope for all of us to be better than we have been to one another.

Kinder.  Perhaps just that.  Kinder.

We’ve permitted ourselves to abandon our better angels for the fleeting satisfaction and the dark glee we derive from the terrible things we write and post to and about one another.

We’ve libeled our glorious 1st Amendment time and time again as we sullied, demeaned, defiled, debased, and defamed one another, over and over and over again.

All because we always believe “It’s my right” without often enough thinking, “Is this right?”

Is it right the things we say about one another?  To one another?

Is it right the things we believe about one another? 

Are we to believe that one group of Americans are lesser than the other because of who they voted for or against?

Where exactly does that end?

How can it be that Americans, on the one hand, will run into a burning building to save a stranger and, on the other hand, click a button calling another stranger words that would burn down their humanity?

If we were to meet that stranger who we attacked online in that burning building, would we still save them?

Would we still save them?

On this dawning day of America’s Democracy, I hope for so much more than what we have allowed ourselves to become.

All of us.

The man leaving the White House never controlled our free will. 

Nor will the man moving into the White House.

The truth is, no politician, no press, no social media platform, has ever controlled our free will.

Free will doesn’t make us poor.  Free will doesn’t make us black, white, male, female, or any other color or define us as a human being.

Free will makes us culpable for the choices we make.  Every choice we make.

Each word we speak, each post we write, each act we perform.  Those choices belong to our exercise of free will.

On this dawning day of America’s Democracy, I hope for a better, far greater America.

Not the Republican or Democratic America.

Nor the one where the Left flies its flag on one side, and the Right flies its on the other.

But, an America where we all fly one flag.

The American flag.

As the coup took hold, Donald Trump, his kids and cowards turned and ran away.

“And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you...”

-President Donald Trump, 1/06/2020

I worked in the United States Senate as Chief of Staff to United States Senator Norm Coleman.  It remains one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve the people of Minnesota through my service to the Senator.

I walked the halls, corridors, and chambers that were the scenes of one of the greatest crimes against Democracy in my lifetime.

I am not much interested in people’s arguments that the effort to overthrow our government should be looked at in the same way as violent protests that took place over the summer of 2020, including those that took place in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

I condemned those riots.  Unequivocally.

And, as though there is any equivalency to protests and marches to call attention to acts of police brutality and protests and marches to pay homage to the lies of a President who was defeated, fairly and overwhelmingly, at the polls.

Let us be clear this was a riot in honor of the President.  Not to protect and preserve Democracy.

We are just now finding out how horrendous this attempted coup of our government was on that day. 

We may find out more in the coming days and weeks just how much influence the President and his enablers had in creating the fire that nearly consumed our Democracy.

This much, though, is true:  The President and those who spoke at the so-called “March to Save Democracy” incited the riot, inspired the coup, and must be held accountable for every lost life that day.

They may not have been at the Capitol doors; it may not have been their hands beating a police officer to death or roaming the corridors of the Capitol looking for a Vice President or Speaker of the House to “arrest” and hang. Still, it was most assuredly their handwork that day.

Here is the truth for those who wish to insist that none of the blood of this day should stick to the President. 

Here is the reality for those whose own words brought death to the Capitol and dishonored their status as an American.

As rioters ran in and attacked the Capitol.

These people ran and hid while Police Officers fought for their lives and Democracy:

  • Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump, Jr.
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
  • U.S. Congressman Madison Cawthorne
  • U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks
  • Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
  • Trump Advisor Dan Scavino
  • Ivanka Trump
  • Eric Trump
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle

They spoke at the rally preceding the riots.

They stood inside a warm tent, laughing and dancing and whooping it up while soon-to-be-rioters stood outside.

They spoke lovingly of the assembled masses and called upon them to act and to fight.

Yet, when the marching, the fighting, and the dying were happening, where were they?

Where were they as rioters marched to the Capitol?

Where were they as Police Officers fought for their lives?

Where were they as members of Congress, their staff, and the Vice President of the United States of America were under assault?

They were hiding from the obscenity they created. They jumped on their private jets and flew back home. Or whisked away by the Secret Service to watch the attack against Democracy from the safety and security of the White House.

They are still hiding. 

If this battle for the soul of Democracy was real, why was the President not front and center leading his army of “patriots.”

Where was the brave Rudy Giuliani, who called for “trial by combat?” and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who told rioters to “fight” as she danced with glee at the base of the United States Capitol?

They were hiding while the men and women they convinced that America’s Democracy is being stolen from them were actually trying to steal America’s Democracy from all of us.

And after they had wreaked the havoc in his name, the President of the United States had the audacity to throw them under the bus — blaming them, solely and unequivocally — and calling for their arrest and prosecution.

How quickly did the leader turn on his followers when responsibility for his work was in full view of the world.

I will not argue with anybody who wants to claim they have “evidence” that the election was stolen, rigged, or otherwise. 

It does not exist. 

It has never existed. 

It is why not a single effort in front of America’s judicial system to overturn the election was successful.

It was not because courts did not want to see the “evidence.”

It is because there was not, and there is not any evidence to be seen.

Just because the President says it exists is not evidence.

Opinions are not evidence.

Tweets, social media posts, Mike Lindell, and any other purveyor of lies and falsehoods are not evidence.

I have as much interest as the next American in making sure our democracy and our electoral process is safe and secure.

Those we have entrusted to make it so have told us, over and over and again, that it was.

Republicans have said it. Democrats have said it. I believe them.

I understand that some are unhappy the President lost.  I know that some believe he is the greatest President that has ever lived.  I understand that some believe he was the man standing in front of the great socialist takeover of America.

I also understand that he lost the election.

He is one man. 

He is not America.

If one believes that Donald Trump IS America, there will be no way to have an actual argument or discussion about what we must do to move America forward.

Here is something that nobody can dispute.

The President and the cast of characters I mentioned above had nothing but faux courage and guts on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

There are no videos or pictures of them screaming at police officers and throwing rocks and crutches at doors and windows.  No video of a them standing alongside the mob killing a police officer by throwing a fire extinguisher at his head. There is no visual evidence that they slammed a police officer’s head in the door.

There are no pictures of Rudy Giuliani engaged in trial by combat, or Kimberly Guilfoyle fighting for Democracy, or Donald Trump, Jr. leading a band of patriots through the chambers with zip ties in his hands, ready to take the Vice President and anybody else he could find into custody.

This is not my opinion.

These are the facts.

There is no disputing them.

Why do you suppose that President Trump and his children, their spouses and others were nowhere to be found leading the coup to overthrow America?

Fact: They weren’t brave enough to lead the riotous mob they directed to attack Democracy.

Fact: They were smart enough to run the other way and blame thousands of others for doing it.

The alternative ending to the insurrection? The overthrow of the United States Government

The line between the insurrection that resulted in the death of 5 people, including a United States Capitol Police Officer, and the wholesale slaughter of members of Congress, staff , capitol employees and Capitol Police is nothing more than that: A line.

An imaginary line.

As apologists for the violence that was incited by the most powerful elected official in the world begin to occupy the airwaves, internet and anywhere else their false narratives can be advanced, it is important to understand that what you are about to read isn’t some far-out fiction.

It is literally the alternative ending to what could have happened on Wednesday, January 6th.

I have taken an article from USA Today that provides a timeline of events that took place that day and made very simple edits — or modifications, if you will — to some aspects of that timeline.

Here is the article:

https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2021/01/06/dc-protests-capitol-riot-trump-supporters-electoral-college-stolen-election/6568305002/

Below is my modified version with an ending that should shock us to the core and make clear that this was not a political protest gone wrong.

This was an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States of America.

If there had been, and we do not know that there wasn’t, individuals equipped to commit acts of mass murder that broke into the United States Capitol, the outcome of that day would have been nothing less than the decapitation of the United States government.

What if inside this group of rioters was a foreign terrorist equipped with weapons of mass destruction who had infiltrated this gathering and alongside them forced his way inside the United States Capitol?

Dead could have been the entire congressional leadership — scores of members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House — and the Vice President of the United States of America.

Think it’s far-fetched?

Multiple reporters who were inside the capitol have confirmed that there were roaming members of the mob who were calling out for the capture and hanging of the Vice President of the United States of America.

Again, the article you are about to read is a USA Today article in which I have made minor changes to the timeline they developed and printed in the aftermath of 1/6/2021.

Timeline: How a Trump mob stormed the US Capitol, killed scores of members of Congress, kidnapped the Vice President and overthrew the U.S. Government

A Capitol Police Officer dies, a woman was shot and killed, and four others died as a pro-Trump mob battled police, broke into the U.S. Capitol and swept through the halls of Congress.

Updated 12:34 a.m. CST Jan. 8, 2021

As a shocked nation watched on Twitter and TV, a pro-Trump mob battled police, broke into the U.S. Capitol, and murdered a yet unknown number of members of Congress, kidnapped Vice President Mike Pence and permanently halted the counting of Electoral College votes to confirm the presidential victory of Democrat Joe Biden. Among the dead members of Congress are five other people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

Many of the rioters came directly from President Donald Trump’s “Save America Rally” that began hours earlier on the Ellipse, a park near the White House. Trump spoke to them for more than an hour, insisting that the election had been stolen.

“Our country has had enough,” Trump said. “We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal.” When he was finished, supporters headed for the Capitol building.

Here is how events unfolded. Times are estimates.

6 a.m.

Crowds of Trump supporters, estimated in the thousands, prepare for a pro-Trump rally near the Ellipse. Many began gathering the night before. Trump tweeted about the rally on Dec. 19: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, be wild!”

11 a.m.

Trump’s “Save America Rally” begins first with the president’s sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr., then his lawyer, Rudy Guiliani. Trump starts speaking shortly before noon at about 11:50 a.m. and says, “And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women.” Trump speaks for more than an hour. At the conclusion, thousands walk to the Capitol.

1 p.m.

Lawmakers gather for a joint session in the House of Representatives chamber to count Electoral College votes.

1:10 p.m.

Rioters begin grappling with police on the Capitol steps.

1:26 p.m.

Capitol police order evacuation of Library of Congress, Madison Building and Cannon House Office Building on Independence Avenue across from the Capitol.

1:33 p.m.

C-SPAN reports rioters have crossed Statuary Hall, the chamber that separates the House and Senate, heading for the House and Senate.

1:40 p.m.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser orders citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ending at 6 a.m. Thursday. CNN reports District police are asking for more law enforcement.

1:46 p.m.

Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tweets she is being evacuated after reports of a pipe bomb outside. “Supporters of the President are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots.”

2:11 p.m.

Rioters breach police lines on the west side of the Capitol.

Moments later, rioters scale the walls.

2:22 p.m.

Reports say Vice President Mike Pence has been taken hostage and is being held in the Senate chamber.

2:24 p.m.

Trump tweets, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

2:38 p.m.

Trump tweets, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

2:39 p.m.

Rioters are photographed breaking Capitol windows.

2:44 p.m.

Shots are reported fired in the House chamber.

2:47 p.m.

Huffington Post reporter tweets image of rioters at dais. “They’re in the chamber.” An unknown number of Democratic and Republican members of Congress, staff and law enforcement personnel are killed in the initial volley of gunfire.

More are being chased through the halls of the Capitol as rioters attack them with weapons brought with them, as well as weapons fashioned from objects found in the Capitol.

2:53 p.m.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., tweets he has been safely moved from the House chamber. He says he and others were given an escape hood, a respiratory hood and mask for protection in fires or chemical accidents.

Shortly afterward his location is compromised as rioters find him and others and kill them where they hide.

2:55 p.m.

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee, texts “shots fired.”  Minutes later he lies dead in a pool of blood.

3:03 p.m.

Rioters are photographed on the Senate floor attacking Senators and staff while law enforcement attempts to protect them.  An unknown number of U.S. Senators have been killed and injured.

3:13 p.m.

Trump tweets: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

3:34 p.m.

CBS reports a woman is in critical condition after being shot in the neck inside the Capitol. Police later report the woman died. She was identified as Ashli Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran. Her husband was quoted as saying she was a strong supporter of Trump.

In an account to WUSA9, a purported witness explains what happened, saying they had stormed the building and she was climbing through the window. He says armed police and Secret Service repeatedly warned to get back, but “she didn’t heed the call,” and then they shot her.

3:51 p.m.

The District of Columbia National Guard, about 1,100 troops, is mobilized to support local law enforcement.

4:05 p.m.

A congressional correspondent tweets that congressional leaders have been rounded up and murdered inside the Capitol.

4:17 p.m.

In a tweeted video lasting just over a minute, Trump says, in part: “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. …  So go home. We love you, you’re very special. … I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.”

Some of Trump’s tweets addressing the riot were deleted. Twitter bans the president from tweeting for 12 hours. Twitter first froze the tweets and wouldn’t allow comments or retweets, then the ban was imposed.

8 p.m.

Rioters continue to occupy the Capitol as there are no members of Congress or Congressional Leaders able to respond to repeated attempts to be reached.  Vice President Pence is murdered on Live Television.

V-Day in America: A National Day to Vaccinate America against COVID-19

How can America come together and win the war against COVID-19?

In the early stages of the global pandemic, we tried and succeeded when we agreed that staying apart from one another would allow us to come together again when the crisis passed.

Yet, COVID-19 had other ideas, and the failure of local, state, and national political leaders to come together with a uniform plan of attack doomed our collective willing participation.

In the early stages of the pandemic, we were treated with conflicting recommendations about how to protect ourselves from the disease. 

The “Fog of War” of a global pandemic has a way of doing that in the era of instantaneous information.

In America, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, a steady stream of information, sometimes disguised as news, was disseminated that drove our anxiety and fear in real-time. 

We went from sheer terror to relief in a matter of minutes and ultimately to a sense of national exhaustion.

There’s not been much difference in where we stand now with COVID-19 than where we stood nearly a year after the attacks of 9/11.

We generally agreed with directives from our institutions on how to protect ourselves from terrorists and the assumption that they were preparing to attack again in the days, weeks, and months after 9/11.

However, America, and Americans, being accustomed to the freedom and liberty of being Americans, began to chafe at the restrictions and slowly, but certainly, began to rebel against the limitations on our freedom as the cost of being safe.

The reality is no different today. 

Americans, accustomed to the freedom and liberty of being Americans, have begun to chafe, nearly uncontrollably, at the limitations on our freedom as the cost of being safe from COVID-19.

The parallel impact of rejecting those limitations are decidedly different.

The evidence is clear and compelling that these limitations can, and have, reduced the spread of COVID-19.

Likewise, the evidence is clear and compelling that these restrictions have cost us dearly in terms of lost businesses, jobs, and social and cultural comity and cohesion.

It cannot be easy to be a leader in government today, nor can it be easy to be a business owner, as the pressure mounts on each to “Do the right thing.”

Whatever the right thing might be.

But, there is something we can, and should, do as a nation to perhaps find common ground and get us closer to restoring what each of us will ultimately define as normal.

We can look at one another as Americans who have a common goal and a common enemy and work together to defeat the enemy and win the war against COVID-19.

Our national political leaders can help lead this effort by declaring a national holiday dedicated to providing any American seeking to be vaccinated against COVID-19 the ability to have the vaccination.

Not a national day mandating Americans get the vaccine. 

But a day in which Americans who find themselves willing to receive the vaccine the ability to do so.

A day that is recognized by our local, state, and national political institutions.

A day in which Americans who wish to have a vaccination are given the time and space, they need from work to get vaccinated.

A day in which the lead-up is not guided by threats or intimidation by those who believe Americans should get the vaccine or those who think they shouldn’t is informed by data, science, and medical expertise.

I have long believed that America should declare Election Day as a national holiday.  A date on which every American who wishes to vote may do so without being restrained in any way.

Our democracy is that important that we should invite every American access to vote in whatever way they can and are able to vote.

I believe our nation’s public health is no less important than the health of its democracy.

We should identify a day to galvanize around a common goal and purpose to protect it. 

Call it “V Day” or “Defeat COVID-19 Day” or whatever it is that someone more creative than I can come up with to grab our attention and keep it.

Make it important, loud and clear enough that Americans will hear about it and listen.

As with every common goal, not every American will choose to participate. 

Not every American agrees with the celebration of Marin Luther King, Jr. Day, or Christmas, or any number of nationally recognized holidays and dates.

Yet, America isn’t great because all of us agree with one another all the time.

We are great because even when we don’t, we still manage to find a way to move forward, together, as a nation.

Now is one of those times.

And, a national day of vaccination against COVID-19 is an opportunity to allow us to gather again in person, and move forward into the future, together.

Fierce Urgency of Now: A National Media Enlisted To Win The War On COVID-19

There is an historic opportunity for America’s media to regain its prestige at a time when America finds itself losing more of it throughout the world.

Our disgraceful national effort at combatting a global pandemic, combined with the Burlesque show that has become the after-action report of this year’s Presidential Election, has hardly put America, the greatest nation in the world, in the greatest light in the world.

I believe fervently in the need for a robust, accurate and ubiquitous media in America. 

Not the unctuous, sanctimonious, self- congratulatory press we see on television today, or, for that matter on the internet. 

Nor the self-proclaimed “Resistance” media that bypasses truth and relative objectivity for personal opinion, barely concealed contempt for those that disagree with them and a gratuitous grasp of history, not to mention, facts.

It’s impossible to go onto CNN or FOX news on the internet today without seeing personal opinion disguised as news – opinion disguised as analysis – and personal bias, ideology and faux outrage in full view of anyone who wants to read it.

Perhaps the last vestige, the best hope for America’s 4th Estate, lies in the dwindling circulation and reach of our nation’s newspapers.

The pressure to go to print with a story that requires more validation, verification and fact checking than that which is thrown up on the internet may, indeed, offer some hope that newspapers could help lead the way forward in restoring the shine to a necessary piece of America’s Democracy.

The press’s coverage of the end of the Presidential Election has been better than average yet not good enough.

When simply reporting on the facts, court decisions and talking to real experts on elections – not idealogues and demagogues proclaiming themselves to be – the press has done the job America needs them to do.

Yet, too often those who are trying to do the heavy lifting of holding truth to power are overshadowed by those who want to give their version of the truth in the hope that it gives them power.

Still, if I were to give the nation’s media a grade with respect to the coverage they have given to Americans I would give them a solid B-.

So, what can it do, now, in the midst of the most devastating public health disaster in American’s history since the AIDS epidemic tore through the heart and soul of America from sea to shining sea?

They could do the job that our national government, and far too many local and state officials, refuse to do, cannot do or don’t know how to do:  Educate, inform and prepare Americans for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Americans need real facts.  They need to understand these vaccines better than we understood the COVID-19 virus in its early days.

They need to know how the process of creating a vaccine is done.  What protocols are required to discover them. 

And, what are the side effects, how will they impact certain people, and what risk factors exist with these vaccines.

This is the moment in America’s time, and in the media’s history, where our country, and our world, needs to have the press move past the easy effort of taking potshots at those in government, business and society who have a vested interest in undermining the efficacy a vaccine that has the potential to get all of us back on our feet again.

It’s incumbent upon the media to take Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity and others of their ilk and take away their platform if they continue to spew distortion, lies and fail to adhere to a social standard they insist those they attack adhere to. 

Let’s be honest:  Americans are responsible for the press and the media we have today.

We don’t like what one media outlet says or reports, and we find somewhere else to feed our preconceived notion of the truth.

Americans by the millions have confused social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as the foundation of our 1st Amendment Rights and feel as though they should be able to post whatever it is they want to post but don’t want anybody else to post whatever it is they want to post.

So, they want those same social media sites to take down what somebody says that they don’t like, but keep up what they wrote that the person they want to deprive of their “rights” doesn’t like.

If it doesn’t happen it is clearly a deliberate act to deprive them of their 1st Amendment Rights and they go off in search of another platform they believe is “fair”, “unbiased” and doesn’t “filter” their opinions or infringe on their “rights.”

The time for the nation’s media to step up and get it right with the emergence of multiple COVID-19 vaccines is now.

There is a closing window of opportunity to do so before those who find an advantage of distorting facts with fiction find purchase in the minds of the American public.

We have already lost far too many Americans and American Dreams to death and despair caused by COVID-19. 

Let’s not add to our collective misery it by failing to prepare Americans for the next battle ahead against COVID-19 with the weapons that have been created to vanquish it.

There is no institution in American life that is better prepared to equip us with the training we need to win the next battle that the nation’s media.

No institution that needs to step up to ensure that we’ve got the information we need to go into battle to win the war against COVID-19 than the nation’s media.

To prove to the world that Democracy was worth saving, America went to war with its greatest treasures of men, women and material.

To prove to America that lives are worth saving we need to go to war with the greatest tool in the arsenal of Democracy:  Truth.

Beware the American political industrial complex

Opinion | Can We Escape the Political-Industrial Complex? - The New York  Times

“The political industrial complex doesn’t steal elections at the polls. It undermines our democracy long before Election Day.”

After more than three decades of active involvement in government and politics I chose to end that chapter of my life in 2012 when I became the Executive Director of a non-profit.

I have worked with men and women whose opinions, ideas and beliefs were entirely the same as mine, as well as entirely different than mine.

I’ve worked against men and women whose opinions, ideas and beliefs were entirely the same as mine, as well as entirely different than mine.

At every level of government and politics – local, state and national – I have seen the best of America and I have seen the worst of it.

I’ve run or worked on my campaigns than I can remember and won some and lost some.

Winning is better than losing.

I’ve been involved with campaigns which were bitter, nasty and messy things in which the candidates figuratively slugged one another in an attempt to win and election. 

Campaigns where my candidate or cause won big.  Others where we barely won.  And too many where we didn’t even come close. 

I’ve worked on campaigns in which my candidate won by such a small margin that a potential recount seem likely. 

And, I’ve worked on campaigns where my candidate won on Election Day by the narrowest of margins only to lose in a recount by the narrowest of margins.

Still, I cannot recall, ever, in my life having lost a campaign in which I allowed it to consume my life and make me bitter, angry and disillusioned.

In defeat there can most certainly be, and there was and has been, disappointment when faced with losing a campaign in which you poured your entire self into it, the candidate, the cause and its outcome.

Yet, democracy isn’t about always getting your way.

In America’s democracy there’s a 50/50 chance that you won’t get your way.

But, there’s not likely ever a chance that you won’t ever get your way.

In 2016 I found myself faced with an impossible situation.

I could not bear the thought of casting my vote for Donald Trump for President and I simply did not feel that Hillary Clinton had convinced me she had earned my vote.

I chose not to vote for either of them instead casting my vote for another Republican who I trusted and believed in his leadership and vision.

On Election Night and early into the next morning and beyond my then 17-year-old son and I watched the returns in which much of America was finding itself completely shocked by the outcome.

Donald Trump was likely going to be elected the next President of the United States of America.

Not only would Hillary Clinton lose, but so too would my choice for President.

My son, my daughter, and many others who did not care for Trump, many in deeply anguished and bitter ways, began to ask, “What are we to do?”

Others took to the streets with signs declaring “Not my President” and roared their disapproval at the results of the election.

Many, including people I know well, refused to accept the results convinced that something nefarious had happened.

In Congress, Democrats who would control the House of Representatives, would then spend years, and millions of taxpayer dollars, attempting to prove that Trump won because the Russians made us do it.

In the end, they didn’t impeach the President because he committed treason. 

They impeached him because they could.

I had many conversations with friends who are Democrats after Trump was elected.  They were convinced that Trump would start a war.  He would do terrible things to government protections for the poor while making sure the rich got richer. 

He would, in their opinion, become a dictator, of whatever “ism” they felt he would favor, and exact a terrible toll on America.

They would not, ever, consider him their President.

I wasn’t happy that Trump won.  I wasn’t happy that Hillary Clinton hadn’t run a better campaign, or given a more compelling reason for why she should lead American instead of Donald Trump.

I didn’t believe then, nor do I believe now, that Donald Trump wasn’t the legitimately elected President of the United States of America.

I did not agree with those across the country who took to the streets to protest his election and declared he would never earn their respect much less their hope that he would be successful as President.

Their candidate lost.  My candidate lost.  The candidate of millions of other Americans had won.

In 2016 there were millions of Americans who didn’t get their way.

Over the course of the past four years my opinion of Donald Trump hasn’t changed much. 

I have, of course, supported some of the Trump agenda.

I have, as well, opposed some of the Trump agenda.

While I have never warmed to him or how he pursues that agenda I have never, once, not considered him the President of the United States of America. 

I have never said “He’s not my President.”

In 2020 America had another election. 

This election, like many others, did not formally end at the end of Election Day. 

It continued on for days until the math showed, without question, that Joe Biden had won the race for President.

In a world of opinions that are misunderstood, deliberately and otherwise, for facts, there is no set of facts that proves any other outcome of the race for President.

There is no set of facts that prove that there was a Deep State of Democrats or Republicans that conspired to foist Joe Biden on the American people instead of Donald Trump.

Opinions.  Allegations.  Accusations.  Lies. 

None of these are facts. 

None of these provide proof that the election for President was rigged or that Donald Trump was cheated out of the office that he does not own or has some entitlement to beyond that which is provided for in our Constitution.

The outcome, while clearly closer than 2016, has all the same undercurrents of 2020 with a few marked and important differences.

While millions of Americans haven’t taken to the streets to protest the outcome, millions of Americans have taken to social media to do so.

The losing candidate, Hillary Clinton, didn’t take to Twitter, Facebook or the nation’s airwaves or newspapers to declare that the election had been stolen from her and that Republicans had clearly devised a scheme to steal votes from her to give them to Trump.

She conceded.  She asked Americans to give Trump a chance.  She cleared a path forward for Donald Trump to become America’s next President and to do so in a way that underscored this nation’s peaceful transition of power from one President to the next.

The losing candidate for President in 2020, who four years earlier accepted he won the office when the national press projected him the winner, has made it clear that he will not only not accept his defeat he intends to kick down the barn of American government and democracy on the way out.

He and those who represent him have put forward conspiracy theories, opinions, allegations, accusations and outright lies to justify why he will not accept his defeat at the polls.

They are attempting to convince Americans, including the millions of Americans who dutifully and solemnly cast their votes for Trump, that a vast left-wing conspiracy, along with those on the right who have never accepted Trump as their President, gamed the system and stole votes from him and gave them to Biden.

Their co-conspirators on social media, cable news, radio and elsewhere have picked up this mantra, expanding it to give voice to theories, musings and outright falsehoods that there is no way that Donald Trump lost the race for President.

Joe Biden, now, and upon being sworn in as President, will not be considered a legitimate candidate by millions of Americans who did not vote for him.

In the same way that Donald Trump was not considered the legitimate President by millions of Americans who did not vote for him.

Nobody stole the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Nobody stole the election from Donald Trump in 2020.

We, the People, however, are increasingly finding ourselves allowing those who wish to divide us to steal democracy from us now and in the future.

It isn’t just the Russians and our foreign adversaries that have a vested interest in keeping America divided.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation, warned the American people of the undue influence of the nation’s military establishment in a newly power American Superpower forged after World War II:

“The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

Today, it is important that Americans guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the political-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

There is a political-industrial complex in America.

It exists because both political parties have a vested interest in holding onto power in whatever way they possibly can no matter how much it costs.

The estimated total cost of campaigns for President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Congress is estimated to be $14 billion this year.

That doesn’t count the billions more spent on local and state campaigns for public office.

This doesn’t count the money that is spent throughout the year across America, at every level of life, to lobby elected officials, oppose or support local or state initiatives or to drive public opinion to support or oppose policy initiatives at the local, state and federal level.

The immense amount of money that now fuels the political-industrial complex in America is simply immeasurable but the impact on our democracy is becoming clearer and clearer every year.

We are turning on one another more and more in our public debate and democracy because we have allowed ourselves to let it happen.

In 2016 those who opposed the election of Donald Trump made the decision they would spend billions of dollars for as long as it took to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of his election as President.

Four years later those who oppose the election of Joe Biden are making the decision to do the same to him that Democrats did to Trump.

It’s not a new reality.  Republicans did it to Barack Obama.  Democrats did it to George W. Bush.

There’s no question that it has happened before and will keep happening.

The only question is when do we, the People, if ever, make it stop?

As a parent, and a former child I find myself viewing the world we find ourselves in after elections listening to adults, who were former children yet acting like current children, saying “Well they started it first.”

Yet, there’s not a parent hanging over our nation that has the voice of authority to say, “Well, then you end it.”

That responsibility rests with each of us. 

We, the People.

I don’t write this piece to take sides with Democrats that Joe Biden won.  Nor do I write it to ignore the bitterness and disappointment of my friends, and others, who are angry that Donald Trump lost.

I do write this piece because it is important to me to have my children have something when I am gone from this life that explains to them where it was their Dad stood when it came to this moment in America’s History.

The political industrial complex doesn’t steal elections at the polls.

It undermines our democracy long before Election day.

The political industrial complex deliberately divides us.

Not because they can.

But because we let them.

The political industrial complex of the left invested heavily in a divided America during the Trump Administration.

The political industrial complex of the right will do the same during the Biden Administration.

The left-wing version of the right wing in 2016 floated stories of fraud, abuse and outright cheating and refused to accept the outcome of the election for President.

The right-wing version of the left wing is simply doing the same thing in 2020.

Most dangerously for America, and our democracy, is that the losing candidate is fundamentally different than the losing candidate in 2016.

The losing candidate in 2020 isn’t content to utilize his legitimate legal right to ensure that the results of the election accurate.

He is using the immense power, prestige and platform of the Presidency to convince those who voted for him that he was cheated out of what was rightfully his and, in doing so, convince those who voted for him that their vote didn’t matter.

That it isn’t true doesn’t matter. 

What matters to him, and to those in the political industrial complex, is that enough Americans agree with him, or them, to keep us continually divided to keep them relevant and powerful.

Every American is entitled to their opinion.

None of us are entitled to our own set of facts.

The facts are there is no presented proven evidence that Donald Trump was re-elected President of the United States of America.

The facts are there is no presented proven evidence that a powerful force that caused votes to disappear, or appear, to deprive the President of a second term in the White House.

The facts are if there were facts that supported any of the opinions, allegations or accusations of the President they would exist in a court of law somewhere in America today.

That they do not simply means we are left with lies.

A tweet is not a fact. 

A social media post is not a fact. 

A statement by the President, his attorneys, a talk show host, a political activist, a neighbor, friend, co-worker or family member is not a fact.

To the vast well-meaning majority of Americans who find themselves at odds with the outcome of the election for President all of these things are merely opinions, allegations or accusations.

On their own they are a reflection of the right of every American to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.

In the hands of the political industrial complex they have become weaponized and are being used against our democracy.

In being used against our democracy they are being used against us.

The foreign threat to American democracy is real and inescapable but we know the enemy and we see it and we can defend ourselves against it and defeat it.

But when the threat to our democracy comes from within what are we to do?

Will We, the People, allow the political industrial complex to defeat American democracy?

Or will We, the People, defeat the political industrial complex to save American democracy?

It’s not my quote, but it is my question: “If not us, who” If not now, when?” 

Hope on The River: 30 days I leave on a journey to save Spare Key and find Hope

Hope on the River FINAL JPG

Today marks 30 days until I board a raft made from a 50-year old pontoon, a re-engineered wooden shed, and the labor of my brother, his daughter, my son, three Johns and a Ray.

In 2 months, I will travel 1,700 miles, through 10 American states in the hopes of saving 1 non-profit organization called Spare Key.

I will travel on a river of hope.

Hope on the River.

Spare Key will lose nearly $750,000 in revenue this year because of cancelled or postponed events, a significant drop-off in corporate and foundation grants and reduced individual giving.

COVID-19 and its effect on our collective personal, economic, societal, and cultural health has been devastating.

Between the lost lives, lost jobs, and lost confidence in the future far too many of us are struggling to survive – literally and figuratively.

Yet, I believe there is hope.

Hope on the River.

We’re a better America than we see too often on social media, the television news, newspapers and hear on the radio.

Yet, we’re not a perfect America.

The loss of John Lewis who inspired generations to go out and cause “Good Trouble” should underscore that one man’s lifetime battle for equity and equality wasn’t ever over.

But there is hope.

Hope on the River.

I travel along the Mississippi River alone for two months because I need to find hope for Spare Key.

I need to find hope that there remain those who want to support Spare Key’s mission to serve families facing a medical crisis.

But I need to find hope that the America I know we are, and know we can be, exists stronger than it seems to be right now.

I will travel to give voice back to my Lula Mische, my Aunt, who inspired me to change the world but to try to see the world through her eyes even if I couldn’t walk it in her shoes.

I get on a raft because of families whose daughter is struggling with a heart condition – a Mom in the fight against breast cancer – a son who was born too soon – a Dad battling to recover from a catastrophic injury.

I will be away from those I love the most for two-months because it matters to me that Americans see other Americans who have the same hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the future.

I know there is hope.

Hope on the River.

I have been asked if travelling alone on a raft for two months scares me.

It does.

I’ve never been the bravest person in the world.

Sleeping along a riverbank at night with wild animals in the dark sits uncomfortably in the back of my mind, pushed out of the way by the abundance of other things I need to worry about to get ready for this trip.

I’m not the first person in the world to take a raft down the river.

But it is the first time I have ever done anything like this.

Where will I go?  Who will I meet?  What will I do?

I don’t know but I’m getting ready to go.

I hope you will join me on this river by liking our Hope on The River Facebook page:  @hopeontheriver and sharing that link with others.

I hope you will follow my journey on our Website at  www.HopeOnTheRiver.com and consider making a pledge for each mile I travel – and encourage others you know to do so, as well.

I hope you will follow our Twitter feed @HopeOnTheRiver and our Instagram feed at @hope_on_the_river

I hope you will text the word “RIVER” to 52000 and make a $5.00 donation to Spare Key.

I hope you will hope for me.

I hope you will hope for Spare Key.

I hope you will find hope on the river with me.

Hope on The River.

It’s there.

I hope to find it every single day.

Aunt Lula: Nothing in America is good enough to not make it better for all of us

Lula s Obituary-page-001

Born in a Minneapolis hospital, and raised in Burnsville until I was 10 years old, my family moved to Fairmount, North Dakota in 1973.

My worldview was white.

My memories of anybody in my life not being white are vague.

After nearly 7 years of life in Fairmount and a spell in Fergus Falls, Minnesota my family found ourselves living in my Grandmother Mische’s home in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

I decided to enroll at St. Cloud State University.

Which is where my personal journey of discovery of my Aunt Lula, and the real world I would soon live in, began.

She worked in the university placement office and Lula was a presence that was far bigger than her height which was smaller than most but made her larger than life.

Becoming a student at St. Cloud State University transformed the purpose, meaning and trajectory of my life.

My Aunt Lula played a significant role in that transformation.

I was suddenly surrounded by people who weren’t all white.  Taught by teachers who weren’t all white.  Talking to people who weren’t all white.

Not that St. Cloud, or the University, were a bastion of diversity in 1981.

It wasn’t.

But for a kid who grew up in a white suburb and then a white small town and then a white slightly larger town the experience of going from a place surrounded by white people to a place where there was clearly a visible and active presence of black people began to change my view of the world outside of my comfort zone.

Then there was my Aunt Lula.

The first African American person in my life who was more than someone I saw in passing or greeted on my way from one college class to another.

Lula was active in DFL politics.  She was active in union politics.  She was active in university life.

Lula was active in everything that she thought was going to change the world.

The more I got to spend time with Lula, having to go over to the placement office and ask her for advice, and, often just to go visit, the more I got to know about my Aunt Lula.

Yet, where I learned the most about her, and the most from her, was our time together in DFL politics.

It was there I learned the quiet, and not so quiet, passion she carried with her to right the wrongs of American society.  Where she could find a way to build coalitions to seek change that she believed to be needed.

Long before the fierce urgency of now became a rallying cry my Aunt Lula was fiercely urgent about everything.

She did not suffer fools gladly.

At times I could be a fool.

Not out of any ill will but out of ignorance.

And she didn’t allow my ignorance to prevent me from learning something about the world around me.

I won’t tell you that Lula made me a “woke” white American.

But she did force me to think about the world around me that wasn’t the colorblind society we all too often believe it to be.

Or, want it to be.

Lula may have been my Aunt, but I didn’t live in her skin.

I didn’t live in her world.

We were family by marriage but her life experience and the journey that brought her into my life was far different than the journey that brought me into her life.

Side by side, the two of us could work equally hard.  Study equally long hours.  Sacrifice equally for the good of our family.  Contribute equally to our community.

But, no matter what, more often than not, the color of my skin would never get in the way of achieving my piece of the American Dream.

I think often of my Aunt Lula.  Perhaps more so during these challenging and difficult times.

Because family dynamics can often be difficult and complex, out of respect I chose not to attend her funeral upon her passing.

Recently, I reached out to Lula’s Daughter, Theresa, who I haven’t spoken to in years.

She and I have had different lives even though we come from the same family.

Again, family paths and direction, not often chosen by children, likely played a role in the different routes she and I have taken in our lives.

I asked Theresa for permission to share Lula with others and to find ways to support the “Lula Mische Freshman Scholarship Fund” at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Created my by Uncle Will, the fund is intended to support students who have overcome obstacles such as socioeconomic or educational disadvantages or disabilities,  or are the first generation in their family attending college and members of groups that are underrepresented at the university, such as African Americans.

And, perhaps most importantly, as the documents creating the Lula Mische Freshman Scholarship Fund articulate:

“This scholarship was established by her husband, Wilfred, to inspire freshman students to be good scholars, to pursue their dreams and to interact with others from their heart.”

In the days ahead as I prepare for a journey that will take me to the places near where Lula was born, where she lived and where she worked, I will share more about the remarkable woman that was my Aunt.

In some small way I hope to remind myself, perhaps those of you reading this, and others I meet along the way of the common bond we each have as Americans.

That there is a shared journey each of us have as citizens of this nation.

Some of us have found ourselves traveling against the stream in that journey.

Others downstream.

But, all of us, in some way, have been on the same river of hope in America.

My Dad died in 1997.  Others in his family have departed through the years.  Those that remain, including my Uncle Will, have their own remarkable stories tied to their desire to make America a better place for all of us to live, work and raise our families.

They walked for civil and equal rights.  They worked inside of government, outside of government and against the government. They went to prison to end a war.

They, like my Aunt Lula, never quit trying to make America a better place for all Americans.

Their time, like my Dad’s, will come to an end.  Yet, who they are, what they did, and all they accomplished during their time on this Earth isn’t something I’m willing to let fade away.

On top of the work of others, they, like my Aunt Lula, contributed to a nation that is better than the one they found.

Others, like myself, and those of you reading this, have an obligation to now take that nation and build a better one for those that will come after our ashes are scattered to the wind.

As my journey begins, I will bring in my heart my family, the ones I love the closest and the dearest, along with me.

I will also bring my Aunt Lula and my Uncle Will’s admonition to interact with others from the heart through the heart of America.

All of us are on a river of hope in this boat we call America.

All of us must find a way to travel together.

If you want to support the Lula Mische Freshman Scholarship Fund with a donation go to https://bit.ly/3dwC9li and enter “Lula Mische Scholarship Fund”

I want to give up. I can’t. I won’t. And, neither should anyone else.

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The past few mornings I admit that the weight of the world’s problems and trauma have worn me down and out.

My capacity to compartmentalize and put on an attitude that “All Crisis Pass” has been beaten and battered since March.  

I cannot watch or listen to news.  Any news.  

The posts on social media have gone beyond toxic.  Well meaning, kind and generous people in private become vicious, mean spirited and intolerant on public platforms.  

One day we’re told not to wear masks.  The next day we’re told to wear masks.  

The mask wearers applaud themselves and criticize those who don’t, won’t or can’t wear masks.

Those not wearing masks applaud themselves and criticize those who do, want, and can wear masks.

A vaccine is weeks away.  Months away. Years away.

I will get the vaccine because it will save my life.  I won’t get the vaccine because it will take away my life.

The life we’re in is the New Normal.  The past was Never Normal.  The future is Not Normal.

People who are white are racist.  Those who are not are unreasonable.  None of us are Americans.

It’s okay to break the law.  It’s not okay to ignore the law. The law is what we each want it to be when we want it to be where we want it to be.

We’ve turned everything and anything in our day-to-day life into a reason to judge somebody else.

All of us have opinions.  

I have opinions.  

And, it occurs to me, more and more, that my opinions are like everyone else’s:  Opinions.

Dispensing them once made me feel empowered.  A kind of therapy that allowed me to share what I believed — sometimes based on facts — sometimes based on fear — sometimes based on ignorance — sometimes based on experience — but always an opinion.

I find myself sharing my opinion less and less with people.  Not because I don’t have them.  

But because I have grown fatigued trying to anticipate the reaction of those with whom I share them with.

Simple acts of kindness and generosity — once the thing we were told in a book were to be random — are now more calculated, more careful, and more and more….random.

I want to give up.

I do.

More and more I just want to throw up my hands and say, “I’m out.”  

I close my eyes at times and drift away to places where none of the rancor, bitterness and hurt occupies any corner of my mind.

Yet, it feels empty and unreal and unfulfilling.

The feeling passes and then I remember the real world I live in.

One where people are hurting and need help. 

Parents are terrified their children will get sick from a virus.  Parents are terrified their children will get sick from isolation.  

Parents are terrified they will get sick from their kids.  Kids are terrified they will get their parents sick.

People are scared their liberty and freedom are being taken away.  People are angry that they have never had full liberty and freedom given to them.

People I don’t know are struggling to find hope in the future with no job, no money, and no options. 

People I do know are struggling to find hope in the future with a good job, plenty of money and lots of options.

It all seems so unbearable.

Yet, the option to give up is not an option I am willing to embrace.  No matter how desperately I want to give up.

I remind myself that I have been on this Earth for 20,805 days and counting. 

The less than 5 months I have had to live in the COVID-19 world represents .007 percent of my life.  

The 5 months of COVID-19 do not define me. 

The roughly 20,655 days before it invaded my safe space are the days that do.

Those days are the ones that saw good days, bad days, and worse days.  Days of joy and happiness and ones of hopelessness and despair.

Moments of loss and some of gain but all of a life in which every bump and bruise and wrinkle and missing hair has been a reminder that giving up is not an option.

We are in this together.  Not all equally.  Some are in worse places than others.  Others in better places than most.  

But, we’re captive on a planet not of our choosing.

We might move on the planet but we aren’t soon to move from the planet. 

There’s a world to be saved.  People to help.    A planet to heal.  A country to fix. 

All that doesn’t just happen.

None of it goes away by closing my eyes, or my mind, to my responsibility and obligation to be a member of the human race.

So, I can’t give up.  I won’t give up.  

And, neither should you.