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Updated: Apr 20

Sporting events canceled, people told to work from home, gatherings of large groups banned, schools closed, Broadway goes dark and because of insufficient leadership and testing many in the US are undergoing self-quarantine. This is our new normal, for now anyway. Former Surgeon General of the United States Vivek Murthy notes the disturbance to our social interactions can lead to depression and an increased sense of loneliness from the isolation.

His comments got me thinking about the relationship between loneliness and empathy. While researching the correlation, I came across a 2018 survey done by the BBC that found those individuals who are most empathic can also be the loneliest, “In the survey two kinds of empathy were measured. One was empathy for people’s physical pain – how sorry you feel for someone who has accidentally slammed their hand in a door, picked up a scalding frying pan or been stung by a wasp. The other was how much empathy you have for other people’s social pain – for someone who’s been bullied at school, not invited to a party or dumped by their partner. There was no difference in empathy for physical pain between the people who felt more or less lonely. But the people who said they often or very often felt lonely scored higher on average for empathy for social pain. Maybe because they have experienced for themselves what it feels like to be left out, they empathise more with other people who find themselves in the same situation.”

In my memoir, My Random Death, I’m open about experiencing stretches of depression and bouts of loneliness. Back then, the fatal flaw in my thinking was the depression will last forever and envisioned myself in a room with no doors or windows. No way out. Speaking with friends and family but not wanting to lean on them too much, I worked with therapists and came to understand those thoughts of mine about depression lasting into perpetuity was harmful thinking. Don’t do it. Lesson learned.

Seemingly counterintuitive, depression can be rewarding. It can give us an opportunity to get grounded, be close to our soul and listen to our authentic voice. So while we are in the Time of Coronavirus and isolated seek out family members to talk with on the phone, engage in ‘chat groups', use the time to listen to podcasts, text your friends, and come up with original ways to stay connected. One fun example is from Italy. Although a street appeared empty of folks walking or milling about, it was filled with song. People quarantined in the buildings lining the lane leaned out of their windows and sang to each other or in unison.

My previous blog addressed the trying times for empaths while Trump occupies the Oval Office. Compounded by his regime’s botched response to the coronavirus, his incompetence now affects all Americans. Although the World Health Organization declared the pathogen a pandemic, Trump mainly viewed the global epidemic as a threat to his financial and political future. His myopic, self-serving lens failed to protect people’s health and our general welfare. We’ve witnessed a lack of leadership back in November 2019, when he failed to send a team of scientists and epidemiologists to Wuhan in the wake of the highly contagious infection. Instead of taking a sample of the virus’ genome when it was offered by China, Trump said no thank you. A recent NPR article claimed testing was suppressed because Trump fears the number of cases would be too high and might effect his re-election chances. To fill the vacuum Individuals and communities respond to a failure of leadership by taking charge, being responsible and in some instance irresponsible. We all learned or re-learned how to wash our hands properly. It’s something I remember being taught by my parents and in my pre-kindergartner classes.

Due to the stress of these time, some folks have reverted to fear by hoarding mountains of toilet paper. A fist-fights between women went viral when one grabbed the last roll. Perhaps for some adults a short period of isolation will help them self-reflect and gain empathy for others. As Rodney King famously stated during the Los Angeles Riots, “Can’t we all just get along”.

Street Tarot
Street Tarot

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Updated: Apr 20

From the Oxford dictionary: Empath - plural noun: empaths. 1. (chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.

What irks me about the definition is the parenthetical comment that the empaths’ abilities are fiction. The fact of the matter is, we all have the capacity for empathy but not all have honed this innate skill to forgo the ego and try to walk in someone else’s shoes. Of course, the ‘occult sciences’ can help us gain insight into what another person is thinking. But, these methodologies are discouraged or seen pejoratively in today’s culture.

To gain understanding and societal recognition, empaths are the next civil rights movements. To further this endeavor, we must all pay attention to our sensitivities. Then dig deep into them. Develop them. For example, while at Canyon Ranch, the spa retreat in Tucson, Arizona, I had my tarot cards read by the resident reader. She astonished me when she insisted my focus should be on writing my memoir. She said it was an important book. Hmmm. The tarot reading occurred in February 2014. At the time I was working on the draft manuscript for My Random Death and taking classes in creative non-fiction writing. Her message from the cards was one of the motors that helped drive my will to finish, publish, and market my memoir.

My desire to write the book was to detail the coincidental, the intuitive aspects of what occurred and to bring this to the public square. Also, when the Me Too Movement began, my manuscript was in the editing phase and I knew my story was timely. At the time of the incident, I didn’t expect to be believed by police, and figured they would think I was the aggressor, or a lunatic psychic. I feared they would not investigate my story, and the evil man would kill again. So I kept quiet about the premonitions and my intuitions and those in law enforcement took my story seriously. I don’t want to hide, nor want others to have to hide their sensibilities about non-ordinary things, and so I want to make the mystical aspects of my experience very public.

The tarot reader said something else that was memorable. She foretold I would no longer be able to watch the news and see the horrors we inflict upon one another. Even though I am a federal criminal appeals attorney and had encountered tough, rough people, she said my evolved empathic abilities would make the suffering of others too much to witness albeit even from the TV screen. She suggested I only read articles written about current events and even then I might not shield myself from feeling psychic pain.

I’m not the only one who is going through this nowadays. The Times of Trump are trying for empaths. Friends of mine express similar feelings and experience the cognitive dissonance caused by his derogatory words and corrupt actions. These days, it's hard to be happy, while at the same time remembering the kids held in cages at the southern border or the ones the Trump regime kidnapped from their families. Some of the stolen children were ruthlessly turned over to Betsy DeVos’ for-profit adoption agency. Trump’s concentration camps and authorized governmental trafficking in children is done, but not in my name and not in the name of many Americans.

For empaths, the suffering of others becomes personal. We can feel what their words describe. Empaths can experience the grief of others even from just a description of a tragic event. And as we get older we might want to shut off from the world. What looks like retreating, is really an attempt to preserve one’s psyche.

There are ways for the empath to get help. Dr. Judith Orloff’s website describes her as “the New York Times best-selling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. Her new book Thriving as an Empath offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people along with its companion The Empath’s Empowerment Journal".

Street Tarot
Street Tarot

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Updated: Apr 20

The so-called Impeachment Trial is going on and as a federal criminal appeals attorney who has made countless Constitutional arguments, I find this historical event riveting. During the proceedings, House Managers and Counselors for Donald J. Trump made frequent references to the men who designed our Republic. In some form or fashion the names John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington were reiterated with great deference by one side or the other. In order to evaluate their greatness, let’s take a brief but deep dive into the origins of our nation and the collective character of these seven fellows. Actually, they were a bunch of white supremacist, misogynists, and bigots who initially help shaped our country.

The American myths began with the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. In 1620, those purportedly good people fled religious persecution in England and sailed to America, the new world, to make their home. Shortly after their arrival these supposedly anti-discrimination folks began their campaign of spiritual bullying. They considered the indigenous populations heathens and destroyed or stole their religious objects. Eventually these cultural artifacts were put in museums and many of the native traditional ways and ritual practices were forbidden. Over time, the progressive movement in America meant moving west, which lead to the least discussed genocide on the planet. The purportedly religious minded pioneers killed buffalos and members of the First Nation with equal impunity. The buffalo was almost wiped out and there was the wholesale slaughter of 90% of the American Indian population. Those who survived were inhumanly moved off their sacred lands and onto reservations. Treaties were created between the sovereign nations, which to this day, Washington DC breaks with impunity.

After the War of Independence many states only allowed white male landowners to vote in US elections. Of course, the founding fathers were amongst the largest landowners, holding in their names millions of millions of square miles. A 2016 article by The Atlantic states, “For one thing, there was a lot of land available once the colonists started taking it from Native Americans, and—as the game Monopoly shows us—owning property has historically been a good way to get ahead. Colonists were able to profit from the land.”

Back then women could not vote. A wife was considered her husband’s personal property, similar to his cattle. A synopsis from a history course at George Mason University states “Most Americans treated married women according to the concept of ‘coverture’, a concept inherited from English common law. Under the doctrine of coverture, a woman was legally considered the chattel of her husband, his possession…. Women had no legal identity.” To this day, women are fighting for an equal identity to men in the public square.

Speaking of slaves, many of the Founding Fathers kept slaves. A 2016 PBS blog on this subject begins, “When the founders of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 considered whether America should let the people elect their president through a popular vote, James Madison said that “Negroes” in the South presented a “difficulty … of a serious nature. During that same speech on Thursday, July 19, Madison instead proposed a prototype for the same Electoral College system the country uses today. Each state has a number of electoral votes roughly proportioned to population and the candidate who wins the majority of votes wins the election.” The great compromise to ensure a ‘fair’ Electoral College guaranteed Southern landowners of black slaves could count them as 3/5ths of a person.

This is astonishing. Our founding fathers were seriously flawed men, which bring us full circle to the charismatic and corrupt, Donald J. Trump. He appeals to the grievance-driven, abortion-controlling, white males who long to return to the grand old past. The GOP.

Street Tarot
Street Tarot

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