I am not always sure how to respond when a friend tells me they are going through a difficult time.  It isn’t that I don’t care. Quite the opposite. I care disproportionately as a rule. What I am unsure about is the proper response.

“You are in my prayers”?

“Keeping positive thoughts”?

“Sending hugs”?

None of that feels right – or rather complete – to me.

If I am with the person, physically, instinct takes over. I am a hugger. I give into my compulsion to wrap my arms around my suffering friend as if I can magically draw out their pain with simple human contact.

But on the phone, via text or social media, I freeze up.

My own understanding of how energy in this universe works is often not simpatico with others’ personal beliefs.  My Facebook profile lists my spiritual view as “Catholic plus Physics”. The ‘About’ boxes in which we are expected to describe ourselves to the world are far too small to encompass who we actually are. My comprehension of The Order of the World ™ stems from a vision. (Or was it a hallucination? Do we ever really know for sure?) The vision was nonlinear, which makes it even more challenging to describe to others. The physics side of my belief system stems from this vision.

As we learned in high school physics, energy can be neither created nor destroyed.  Death is simply an energy changing form. In that sense, I suppose, I draw a sense of comfort from physics.  No one is ever lost to the universe. Maybe I don’t get to see or laugh and cry with my best friend, Carol, anymore – but her energy is being used to enrich some other aspect of this world.  It would be selfish of me to want to keep Carol all to myself.

I believe, together, we belong to a giant collective that shapes events, emotions, and reality. Prayer, constructive thoughts, virtual hugs – all are different ways we, as human beings, come together to influence the focus of positive energy. But there is a catch.

Negative energy is a reality and can also be amassed and directed. I don’t get to pick and choose which laws of physics apply to the universe. I am obligated to acknowledge that, while negative energy can be converted to positive, the opposite must also exist. Energy must always balance.

I read an article recently in which the author professed that COVID-19 is God’s way of carrying out his plans for our world. Is COVID-19 our Great Flood? Are the lucky ones going to pile on the giant ark that will save a chosen few? No.  Our world is too global for this virus to be some Biblical purge of evil. Evil must exist just as surely as goodness and love. In the time of this novel Coronavirus, how many of us have checked-in on a friend we have not spoken to in years? How many of us are staying home, washing our hands often, and methodically observing social distancing? We do this not out of some selfish self-preservation; human beings are capable of demonstrating genuine concern for others. By showing compassion for friends and strangers alike during this time of crisis, we enroll in a crash course in the significance of positive energy.

For me, it is near anguish not being able to hold the people I love. I am forced to fight against my natural urge to absorb the pain of others. A close friend began chemo treatments just as COVID-19 started to propagate. I’m immunocompromised, and so, even before the lock downs started, I had to make the tough decision to not be around him. Two weakened immune systems are a recipe for disaster. If I transmitted any kind of illness to him, I would never forgive myself. My friend doesn’t believe in my energy theory, and it’s not something I attempt to force others to adopt. But, do I continue to meditate each day, directing positive energy his way? Do I still light candles and burn intentions and do anything else I can think to maybe, possibly help? Yes. I find comfort and confidence while practicing what I believe can make a positive impact.

However, I am only one person.

As a society, we need to channel positivity together and by any means. Our planet is under siege. It doesn’t matter how we find a way to spread love and humanity. Some find their calling is in prayer or social work or monetary donations. No method of helping is the wrong method.

We must always remember our fundamental physics. Energy is defined as the potential and ability to do work. We all have that potential and ability. It’s up to each of us to decide what form that work will take. 

My advice – push back against the negative energy with every ounce of positivity you can harness. Working together, we might not be able to destroy darkness, but we can cast light upon it.

Book banning in VA – Dougherty Article

Source: Kerry Dougherty: Book banning again, this time in Virginia


I wanted to a link to post this article – along with the following quotation – also lifted shamelessly:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

— On Liberty, John Stuart Mill


Human Trafficking Facts – Barrow Case Continues

Human Trafficking Problem Not Always, “Somewhere Else.”

human trafficking barrow

200,000 American youth are at risk of becoming human trafficking victims each year.

In Madison and Marshall counties, former Guntersville High School volleyball coach David Barrow faces over 25 sexual abuse-related charges including human trafficking. Under H.R. 972 (109th): Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act of 2005, anyone under the age of 18 who is used for a commercial sex act is automatically a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether he or she is a “willing” participant.

On Aug. 13, multiple charges were levied against Barrow for production of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and aggravated criminal surveillance.  According to the Marshall County District Attorney, Steve Marshall, warrants were filed Aug. 13 after computers and other storage items taken from Barrow’s home yielded video and photos of children under 17 in various states of undress.

26% of all human trafficking victims are children according to the International Labour Organization,(2012).human trafficking 26 percent children

According to estimates reported in The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U. S., Canada and Mexico (CSEC) approximately 200,000 American youth are at risk of becoming human trafficking victims each year.  While the majority of these children are either runaways, throwaways or homeless youth, a substantial number of children living at home also are involved in CSEC, including junior and senior high school students recruited in the making and distribution of non-commercial pornography.

Students of Guntersville High School in Alabama were photographed and video recorded by Barrow.  The school plans to begin counseling sessions in the near future, but for the present, those who were victimized by Barrow can seek support at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) of Marshall County. (The CAC is located at 825 Gunter Ave Guntersville, AL 35976   ( and can be reached at (256) 582-8492 for additional information.

Sexual abuse charges filed against David Barrow

Local Soccer Coach Accused of Sexual Abuse in Court

In July of 2014, Volunteer Guntersville High School girls soccer coach, David Barrow, charged with over 25 counts of sexual abuse, was accused in a Madison County, Alabama court of using a Caucasian woman to ask members of the Grissom High School girls’ swim team if they would like to model to earn extra money.  The woman allegedly approached the girls at the YMCA on Weatherly Road in south Huntsville.

sexual abuse barrow

David Barrow Charged with Sexual Abuses

AD Discloses New Information

Assistant district attorney for Madison County, Tim Gann, disclosed that this information was first revealed at the preliminary hearing of Barrow’s alleged accomplice Kristian Danette Griffin in a Marshall county case earlier that day.  Griffin, who is not the same woman who approached the Grissom swim team, previously made a similar modeling offers to two 10 year-old girls (including her own daughter) and then transported them to Barrow’s home, at his request.

National Children’s’ Advocacy Center Inspector, William McDonald, testified at Griffin’s hearing that he witnessed Barrow at the YMCA with a white female at the same time the Grissom swim team was present.  YMCA staff escorted Barrow and his companion from the premises. In Madison County, Barrow already faced three counts of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of first-degree human trafficking and one count of first-degree sodomy filed in June 2014.

Additionally, ADA Gann says an interview with the Caucasian woman seen with Barrow at the YMCA will be arranged. It is not yet know if charges will be filed against her.

Initial charges filed against Barrow in May 2014 including two counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12 and two counts of human trafficking. Barrow now faces over 20 additional charges, filed Wednesday night, including production of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and aggravated criminal surveillance.  According to the Marshall County, Alabama District Attorney, Steve Marshall, more warrants were filed after computers and other storage items taken from Barrow’s home yielded video and photos of children under 17 in various states of undress and, “it appears none of the people involved had knowledge they were being imaged.”

From July, 2014

Homicides, guns, and untreated mental illness

My days often start with reports of gun related homicides.  

What does this say about crime in the US?

Each morning, in our home, my husband and I are accompanied by CNN’s “New Day”, which airs from 6-9 am.  Just one building block in the f ever-growing world of 24/7 news, it is my first glimpse of  the outside world, – before Facebook, before Twiiter or email, and before speaking to anyone outside our apartment. I rely on Chris Cuomo and, to a lesser degree, Alisyn Camerota and Michaela Pereira, to tell me what CNN believes I should consider important, essential information.

The first segment I saw echoed the news of the previous two days.  On Wednesday, August 26, 2015, news Roanoke, Virginia area TV journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed while broadcasting a live interview with Chamber of Commerce member Vicki Gardner. Vester Flanagan, the man accused of the shooting, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while fleeing from the police in a rental car.

While yesterday’s reports had centered on the victims and their families, the focus today was on Gardner, his mental state, and gun control.  Someone argued in favor of background checks that include mental health information to be mandatory for gun sales..  My mind snapped to attention as I waited to hear what the “expert” (in this case a mental health worker) would say.

“That wouldn’t be effective because the majority of these people have never sought treatment for mental health issues.”

And that, as they say, is the thing of it.

When I Google, “percentage mentally ill violent untreated, and get, “About 437,000 results.”  The first article I click on displays a 1994 claim by the Department of Justice that, among the 20,000 homicides committed annually in the United States, “approximately 1000 are committed by people with untreated schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (

With each new mass shooting in the

guns mental illness and homicides

Trends in rates of mental illness in homicide perpetrators

country, the media reports that the perpetrators suffer from a mental illness.  Often, the phrase used is, “undiagnosed mental illness.”  Our news organizations seem eager to report that the people who commit these crimes display, “symptoms of schizophrenia,” or, at the very least, “paranoid behavior that indicates serious mental illness.”

With so many of these shootings ending in the death of the shooter, how is the media diagnosing the alleged killers so quickly?



I am tired of fear-mongering – comments on Trump’s acceptance speech and some wandering of my own

Trump goes for divisive, rather than acknowledging the desperate need for unity 

I just watched Donald Trump’s acceptance speech and I have so many different lines of thought going through my head.

I am a compulsive fact-checker by nature, and the sheer number of twisted and molded statistics in Trump’s speech is going to drive me to find a transcript and probably waste an entire day trying to find the original studies from which he pulled numbers and percentages.  I’m not naive.  I know statistics can be spun in almost any direction to back nearly any claim.  This speech just seemed rife with half truths whose only purpose was to generate fear.

I was also disappointed in the lack of diversity of the audience.  Trump repeatedly banged on his plan to be inclusive, but it didn’t ring true when the delegates all seemed to be older caucasians.  Where were the representatives of these “people without a voice” that Trump repeatedly cited as part of the “We” he was eager to represent?

I will give Trump credit – he managed to say all the things his constituents wanted to hear without saying anything substantial. Politically speaking, he used every trick in the book to incite his supporters.  To me, it just seemed scary – as though Trump is living in a dream world with absolutely nothing in place to bring about his pie-in-the-sky vision of how America will be with him as president

We all want to have peace treumspeechand safety – 2016 has been a very rough year so far – but I was hoping he would delineate his plan to make our country safe.  At times, he almost sounded as though he planned to implement  quasi-martial law. I worry about what he has planned in the way of immigration and violence BY police against citizens (a statistic he conveniently skipped over). According to the database being compiled by the Washington Post, 533 people have been shot and killed by police in 2016.  In 2015, 990 people were killed in police shootings.  Of those, 250 victims showed signs of mental illness.  NPR published an article last year that is worth a read. 

Of All U.S. Police Shootings, One-Quarter Reportedly Involve The Mentally Ill

(the data NPR compiled came mostly from the Washington Post Database; I encourage you to find independent sources.  Fortunately or unfortunately, The Post has created one of the most up-to-date and comprehensive databases on the subject, so it can be difficult not to encounter circular sources.)

I respect police officers.  I could never begin to do what they do every day, but so much of Trump’s focus was on attacks on officers, that he did not spend time addressing the growing racial and class tensions in this county.

We need to pull together – not follow Trump’s path to more divisiveness.  I try to do my best to be aware if diversity and inclusion in my everyday life – but  I wish I knew more powerful ways I could make a difference.  I guess the key is to keep looking for opportunities to promote diversity, multiculturalism, inclusion, and equality.

Trump’s speech had a particularly odd throw away line about including the LGBTQ community

Trump appeals to LGBTQ community in convention speech

“As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” he said.

What about domestic ideology?   I firmly believe the shooting in Orlando, FL had more to do with homophobia, than some command from ISIS.  ISIS is becoming an excuse for individuals to carry out their own prejudices and anger.

Mr Trump – it is superficially inspiring to hear you promise to rid our country of unrest.  But please share with us this magic plan you speak of so often.  This county needs to start to focus on solutions.  If you have answers – reveal them.  Don’t make promises with no plan for their implementation.  This is a time for- coming together, constructive conversations, and education.  We are ready to act.

Bernie Sanders – Disappointed, but We Still Needed Him in 2016

You may or may not have noticed but I don’t write much about political issues. However, this coming election, and the events leading up to it, have moved me to make a few comments. I believe Bernie Sanders should stay in the race, despite the fact that his slipping into negativity has disappointed me greatly. So why do I want him there? Because I want his ideology to be heard.

People who don’t know me well, tend to assume I am very shallow and even not very bright, not only because I like Britney Spears and *NSYC – but because I cannot quote legislature or precedent to back up the things I believe in. I worried about this for a while – doubted my intelligence, but I have realized – that’s not the role I am supposed to be playing.

My views are philosophical, more that political. Though I don’t claim to be an expert on Hegel – I identify with his philosophy, especially the view he expressed in ,Philosophy of Right, Hegel writes, “The ethical substance, as containing independent self-consciousness united with its concept, is the actual mind of a family and a nation.” In other words – individual people will come together to move society toward what is right.” 1. We have seen so much of this in the first part of the 21st century – single sex marriage – transgender bathrooms, enlightenment concerning mental illness – on and on. But these movements and ratifications don’t come without individual people expressing and standing by their beliefs in the face of criticism and ridicule by pragmatists.

I used to feel very inferior, because I was armed with feeling, rather than established rules. But I am what Hegel calls an, “Absolute Idealist.” My views are not formed without logic – but are rather based wholly on logic.It is a logic I reason through. My reasoning may seem odd or impractical to others – but it is sound in keeping with what my heart and head perceive as wholly logical.

So I WANT Sanders to keep pushing the envelope toward social democracy, because that is the closest I can come to a candidate who echoes my own personal beliefs and values. So he doesn’t get the nomination – he’s thrown into the spotlight beliefs I hold that I never thought would get national attention. The seeds are being planted for new ideas and serious consideration of issues I believe in. It’s a sign of the collective moving toward my personal idea of Right and THAT’S what I am meant to be supporting in order to see positive change in our world. Movement toward the Right does not come from the civil society, but from the social society, according to Hegel – and I believe we have witnessed much of that – even in the public outrage at Zimmerman’s gun auction.
My 2 cents plus a bit more.

!. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, and Carl J. Friedrich. The Philosophy of Right. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.