My ANGER Leads to ‘Fight or Flight’ Response


Mister Rogers used to ask me a question on his television show through the words of a song. It began with, “What do you do with the mad that you feel. When the whole world seems oh so wrong?” and the song finishes with these promises, “For a girl can someday be a woman and a boy can be someday a man”  In this simple song he manages to teach us some measure of control all while validating the angry emotions we all have when things go wrong. Then he takes us to words of hope acknowledging that as we learn to master our emotion of anger (if that is even truly possible) that this will enable us to grow and become women and men. Is he suggesting that those of us who never master this powerful emotion of anger may not be fully men and women? I can’t say, but you might reach this conclusion. I bet you even know some (adults) who you would say act a lot more like children when they respond in anger to the world around them.

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Well today I want to take this simple idea of anger management and throw a wrench into it. I want to talk about the fight of flight response. That chemical undeniable reflex response that kicks in when we as humans fear for our very lives. I wonder, when was the last time you were angry? Can you remember? I mean REALLY angry. Spewing venom, throwing things, hitting things or people, screaming obscenities. When was that? Think about it right now. OK now when was the last time you were truly afraid for your life? You heart rate increased, you muscles tensed, your eyes dilated, you were panicked, that tunnel vision set in focusing you on that thing you perceived as an immediate threat to your life. Can you remember? Has it ever happened? For some the answer is no. For some the answer is, unfortunately, every day. It’s true that some in this modern “civilized” world are truly in fear for their lives each and every hour of each and every day.

So what it will take for those of us who do not have an experience of choosing fight or flight due to our lives being in danger, for us to respond to the world around us with the same energy that someone who is in fear of their life. How can we be provoked into choosing to either RUN or STAND and FIGHT? Some may ask if this is even a good idea. Doesn’t this emotional response (often rooted in anger) cause us to loose perspective? Doesn’t this place us in a compromised mental state incapable of making clear sound decisions? I wonder? Modern psychology tells us that, “…all of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term “fight or flight”). Fear — and the fight-or-flight response in particular — is an instinct that every (human) possesses.”

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With this in mind I want to know for myself and you can ask this in your own way for yourself as well. Are there things happening right this minute, in a country professing freedom and liberty for all, that are causing us to feel fear in the present? No? Yes? Are there things happening to you or those close to you? Your friends and family, your coworkers and fellow students, parishioners and sports team fans? Are you feeling something different than you did a year ago? What is your level of fear right this moment?

Side bar If you are not feeling any fear but instead irritation at people taking to the streets or protesting the current powers that be, you may be white and privileged like me. Believe me I know. And if you are darker skinned and have a heritage that is not in northern European and you do feel afraid and provoked to fight or flight, I want you to know that this seems perfectly normal from a psychological, reasonable, survival standpoint. Ask anyone. I know all the best psychologists who can corroborate this belief. End Side bar

Ok back to the point. Yes I have a point. I want to know, how do we get white people who seem to have nothing to fear but fear itself, to become angry even to the point of either fighting by standing up as though their lives depend on it or to get out of the way and run allowing those who can and will fight to do the work of staying alive for the rest who are overcome by their fear? What will it take? I ask myself what must happen to awaken me to action? Do I need to see my personal rights violated? Will I need to be personally threatened or can I be just as angry about a friend being threatened? And shouldn’t I be if they are my friend? What about a neighbor? What about a fellow American? What about a victim fleeing for their life?

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There will come a time for each of us in the coming months when you will be faced with these issues. Many of us will need to respond in a moment of anger and fear to take flight and run choosing not to defend ourselves and let the chips fall where they may or to stand and fight for our lives and the lives of others.

I want you to know that I used to believe that I could live my life immune to many of the discriminations faced by many minority groups in my country. But I believe how we treat the least of us says everything about what kind of people we are. So as I reflect on how we enforce our laws, and how we protect ourselves and how we consider our educational system and I see images or read stories and investigate how we treat the least powerful people in our nation (children, minorities, women, others) I am provoked to stand and fight for the lives of people who live in a country that is worth living in, a nation of people who have learned to live and let live, a nation who have moved beyond a history of slavery into an era of understanding and integration, a nation worth fighting for.

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I need to say something that makes me feel powerfully saddened, I no longer believe that this nation exists in the way it once did. It is traveling down a dangerous path. It is a path from which we may not be able to return. But when my fellow Americans choose to threaten other citizens of this country I will be standing in their path, with heart racing, and eyes wide, muscles tensed and ready for action. And Mr Rogers, in my anger I may make some mistakes with the mad that I feel. I, as an adult, am willing to accept those consequences if they help just one person find peace and safety in America. I invite others to stand with me. If you think you have what it takes. And if you don’t, I’ll do it for both of us. I’m willing to bet some others of you will too.

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“Dear White People” Kills White People


Recently there was an announcement of a new Netflix production of a show called Dear White People based on the film of the same name. It is a sarcastic funny different perspective on what life looks like for black students in the world of college education. It offers a new standard of what is acceptable for white people to do or not do in order to understand and respect black people. For many of us white people this would be something we are doing for the very first time. However, there are some Americans (mostly on twitter it seems) who have said that this show will bring about “White Genocide” No I am not making this up. You can’t make shit like this up. Here is my response to those white American’s who are cancelling their Netflix subscription because they claim they are creating a show which will begin a white genocide. This is a bit of a rant so please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.

Shhhh, nobody tell the white people cancelling their Netflix subscription over Dear White People that the show Empire is on Hulu. Now you gotta cancel that subscription too. Oh and stop listening to all songs with black singers and rappers because that’s how they are going to finance their “White Genocide.” Oh and Blackish, the award winning comedy is on ABC. So stop watching anything on ABC who also owns Disney. Damn it!! Didn’t see that one coming did ya? Gotta cancel that. Aw, that means no more cartoons for the kids. But saving their precious white lives is more important right #WhiteLivesMatter. So now you gotta stop paying to see Dory or Moana (She’s black) or Elsa or the new Cars 3 (McQueen’s tires are black), Oh ya did you know 45 of the 67 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are Black? So that’s right you gotta STOP WATCHING the NFL. Cancel that NFL Season pass and Sunday ticket right away. No Super Bowl for you this year. And I won’t even tell you how many other NFL players are black. White people you could NOT handle it. Suffice it to say that you all have just become hockey fans. I don’t even have the heart to tell you 6 out of the 9 cast members on HBO’s Ballers are black so pick up the phone and tell HBO just how racist you are and how you won’t put up with all these blacks on TV and the internet threatening to kill you by being on TV and the internet. That’s right, you call and tell em you don’t care if you can’t watch Game of Thrones, Girls, True Detective, Insecure – wait, that’s an all black cast (mostly) too. Well there you go. The blacks ARE taking over and getting things set to launch their master plan, “White Genocide.” Call HBO, You tell em how you are cancelling your subscription and how obviously HBO now stands for HOME of the BLACK OVERLOARDS! Then fire up your internet browser and fire Amazon (Amazons: large black women who lived deep in the rainforests of Brazil) for Carrying “Being Mary Jane.” They have all 4 seasons. Starting this weekend better boycott Saturday Night Live and everything NBC too because you know 4 SNL cast members are black. It’s only a matter of time before the blacks rise up and start killing all the white people around them. We can only hope Alec Baldwin survives. Speaking of blacks killing people have you seen the way Michonne is threatening EVERY WHITE PERSON IN AMERICA with that sword?michonne_katana

And that other black guy (Morgan) with his staff and those other black people (Sasha and Gabriel oh and King Ezekiel) with their guns and fists and tigers and violence. This show (the walking dead) on AMC (which you now need to call and cancel as well) is just code for Blacks to say “White America your days are numbered. You are the Walking Dead”. The White Genocide is coming! So call and cancel, cancel it all. I’m not even gonna tell you what is happening on BET right this minute. What’s the point anyway if we (white people) are all gonna die? But as a last ditch effort, Call your congressmen, call your representatives and let em know. White Genocide is a comin! Beg them to protect you if they can. Call the police to protect you – except the black ones of course ‘cause they’ll kill ya. Call the National Guard but not those who are darker than a paper bag, cause they’ll kill ya. Call the armed forces, except those servicemen and women who had grandparents who were slaves cause they’ll kill ya! Call the president! Wait don’t call the president, he just tweeted @realDonaldTrump “White people are being treated so unfairly by Netflix. Just cancelled White House Netflix account, Will not support White Genocide, Complete disaster. Black people prepare for nuclear war” So now white people run into the streets screaming to the world “The White Genocide is coming. Start hoarding Mayonnaise, Boxed wine, Tater Tots, Apple Juice and Caviar. This is the end for us all!”

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Ok, I am catching my breath and have calmed down a little. Now I know enough white people and I can confirm a few things. They like to believe they are the best at anything they do. In this case I can say they are right. I have never seen such an epic level overreaction at such a completely asinine level before. Congratulations White people this has got to be the best dumbest racist bullshit ever. And one last thing, If you think a black female co-ed like the one from Dear White People is on her way to your house to kill you because she schooled you on what it means to be black, you are the kind of pussy (sorry ladies) only trump will grab.

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Wearing out the Silence… again


Week 2: Wear out the Silence

The rain fell like a shower. With every stuttered step I was becoming more drenched. Lucky for me my jacket was water proof and got me to the car with minimal dampness. I put the key onto ignition and headed out to do my Friday workout at Planet Fitness. I was ready I told myself that this was the day. I was gonna destroy it. I would shred my quads and calves. I would blast my lats, delts, traps, and any other muscle that ended in “s” Yep, this was going to be my day in the gym and I was gonna kill it. And I did… until I didn’t.

Instead I found myself wandering the aisles at Costco. We needed a new pencil sharpener I had convinced myself that I should get it first before heading to my AWESOME workout. Costco had the 15 horsepower ultra-lead shredder sharpener. And since I have NEVER got anything from Costco that wasn’t in some way AMAZING I dove right in a bought it no questions asked. Later when I arrived home I ground down half a dozen pencils and started to get a little buzz going. It was sort of a rush, I have to admit. Then I let my son give it a try and man was he impressed. When it was done he let out a yelp of astonishment that let me know I had scored a home run with the new lead-n-wood whittler.

After my trip to Costco I was on my way to the gym. Nothing would stop me now. Until Carl’s Jr. There it was. Reminding me about all those memories with my older boys living in SoCal 700 miles away. I sometimes go to Carl’s and have some fries and a drink. Somehow I feel connected to my boys and I think about them and how much I miss them. For some reason today the appeal was simply too much and I found myself sitting with my fries and a drink. I am not really exactly sure the reasons why I could not resist. But lately I think a bit of a depression has settled on my otherwise positive outlook. My world has been assaulted with some very hard truths about the world we are in. And I will admit that it got to me. I was very melancholy eating my fries. Feeling guilty that I had not actually gone to the gym.

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Long story short. Today I never made it to the gym. Big surprise right? In the end I simply didn’t have it in me today. But next week… I am gonna wreck my biceps and triceps and quadriceps and forceps. Wait that last one is not a muscle. I think that’s used in labor and delivery. Scratch that last one. But all that other stuff I said before Ohhhh ya, I am gonna wreck it!

So far today no one had said anything about my shirt. Today was the Eric Garner “I can’t breathe” shirt day. The reason no one had said anything was today it was raining and the jacket I had on covered the shirt. I knew it was there underneath but no one else in the unassuming public did. Until I took my son to the public pool for a little Friday night free swim! For 2 hours he got to go bananas at the community pool with three of his friends from school. They had a great time. There is this awesome water slide at the pool that is the highlight every time he goes. I realized that for the first time, as I sat in the bleachers and watched the kids play, I would have my “I can’t breathe” message as a billboard for the entire pool population to see.

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What I had not planned on however was the Lifeguard training class that went on all during the 2 hour swim. These committed lifeguards were hard core and working very hard at mastering some very difficult scenarios. Diving in and rescuing people who were unconscious, people who were screaming and flailing around, sometimes two people needing help at the same time and trying to drag the rescuer down with them. Each time the team would pull the victim from the water and provide lifesaving aide all while their trainer was screaming at them to do it faster or better or correctly. It was VERY intense and captivating to witness.

Near the end of the session I found the rescue team of lifeguards right in front of me running a rescue drill on a dummy that had been placed in the bleachers earlier. As I watched the rescue effort and heard the coach identify what they were doing right and what was changing. He would shout. “Non-responsive!!” which would change the way the team was interacting immediately and brought a renewed sense of urgency to the rescue effort. In the midst of this I started thinking about Eric Garner and what happened to him. I was startled by the lifeguard coach telling the ‘big man’ of the class to move something out of the way and take control of the environment. “Do whatever you have to do provide life saving techniques. If you need more room and you can move things do it!!”

Then the team got back to work. They called out “beginning compression’s”… and started counting as they worked 1 – 2 – 3… I remembered the number of Grandchildren Eric had – 4 – 5 – 6… and the number of children Eric had – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11… the number of Times Eric said “I can’t breathe” 12 – 13 – 14 – 15 – …28 – 29 – 30 the number of times Eric had been arrested over a 10 year period. The rescue team at the pool would then yell “Clear!” and everyone would lift up their hands – it was almost like a prayer was made in that brief second- they would then wait a moment for the AED to charge and deliver a heart resetting jolt to the victims heart.

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When this exercise was over and the lifeguard time was debriefing, the ‘big man’ on the Lifeguard team came over to me and asked, “Are you alright? Since your shirt says ‘I can’t breathe’” I could see in his eyes and hear in his tone of voice that this was a dismissal of everything the shirt represented. My response was clear and simple as I looked him up and down, “Ya I’m fine, but sometimes the air gets a little bit thick.” He smirked but turned and walked away. I’m glad he did. I would have hated to have gotten into it with the “big man” and put the talents of the lifeguard rescue team to work saving his life after I was through with him. After all, I did miss my workout <wink> So I fantasied about how I would lay him out and punish him for his ignorance. So sue me! I am a male and we men have these scenarios running through our minds more often than most will admit. I know I could have taken him but that was not the point.

Today was Eric Garner day. A day when I was reminded that there are many victims who have first responders push the clock as fast as they can to save a life. There is nothing more important. Everything I saw in the lifeguard training told me something very important. If Eric had stopped breathing at the scene of his arrest he might still be alive today. The simple fact is that an unconscious person would probably gotten more attention “I can’t breathe” from the police “I can’t breathe” than a person actually “I can’t breathe” telling them what was “I can’t breathe” wrong with them. If his asthma “I can’t breathe” would have been severe “I can’t breathe” enough maybe he “I can’t breathe” would still be alive “I can’t breathe” today. If the EMT’s would have “I can’t breathe” known he had asthma “I can’t breathe” they could have done “I can’t breathe” what they were sworn to do.

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And I would love to believe that this was just a case of simple lack of information. That Eric Garner received from both law enforcement and EMT’s the best possible medical attention. But instead I know better. These officers and EMT’s failed to protect and save a life that day and they did it willfully. And that chills me to the bone. It should you too. Some would tell me, “Ya but you weren’t there and you don’t know what it’s like.” And you know what they would be right. Here is what I do know. There are some things that Americans are supposed to value above all else. Doing your best is high on that list. I don’t think allowing a man who had been arrested and was in you care die ON YOUR WATCH is in anyway an American thing to do. Someone needs to call Trump and get these people FIRED. He loves to fire people in law enforcement and the judicial branch of government so it will really be no problem believe me. Then someone needs to call the district attorney – assuming Trump hasn’t fired them already – and put both the Popo and the meat wagon jockeys all in the prisons they love to over crowd so much for their crimes of willful abandonment their of the sworn duty and negligent homicide that they are all complicit in.

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Rest in peace Eric Garner. Today, at this moment as I remember you and how you breathed your last breath, I find that ‘I can’t breathe’ either. PEACE