Ground yourself

4 Healing Practices to Ground Your Base Chakra & Thrive in Uncertain Times

Whether it’s the global pandemic, racial injustice, or personal challenges you’re dealing with, fear can seep into your energetic system and wreak havoc.

With all that we’re experiencing, around the world and especially in the US right now, it’s hard to know what’s coming next — and that uncertainty can feel like walking blindfolded toward the edge of a cliff. Many people are struggling financially too.

If you know about your first chakra — also called the base chakra or the root chakra — you know that it’s the power center that deals with security and survival…

What you might not know is that the Earth has a chakra system too, and her base chakra is deeply off balance in all this upheaval.

People are feeling this profound disruption in themselves and the Earth whether they know it or not. Feelings of anxiety and being on edge are easy to blame on the nearest little thing, but in fact you’re absorbing the energy of everyone and everything on the planet, and everyone in every country is deeply anxious right now.

From jobs and health to finances, family, and groups we care about — these are all base chakra survival issues. So are disruptions in the Earth — tropical storms, wildfires, you name it.

The good news — and we REALLY need good news, right? — is that you can release fear and anxiety from your base chakra and replace it with useful energy… and stop fear from taking hold in your power centers and energy field.

You can also send healing energy right into Mother Earth. And when you do this, the positive effects reverberate, which can help ease the tumult that’s running rampant on our planet.

A quick word about fear: To some degree, fear is necessary to life on this physical plane. Fear can keep you safe from threats — whether it’s heights, snakes, water, or any kind of injury. Your ancestors relied on fright as a warning system to protect them from falling off a cliff, getting bitten by a poisonous reptile, drowning in a river, or being hurt by someone or something. Your brain continues to use thousands of years of programmed fear to shield your body from harm.

But what happens when you live in fear every day? All day? Fear of a world seeming to fall apart, fear of loneliness, fear of failure — these fears can burrow into your psyche and prevent you from helping to advance humanity or live a meaningful life full of positive relationships and experiences. These fears can damage your chances — and humanity’s chances, and the planet’s chances — of living in light and love, so let’s get some relief! It’s long past due.

The power of your base chakra for releasing unproductive fear.

Fear’s primal place to live is in your first chakra. This base chakra is located at the base of your spine and it’s connected to your security and survival. It’s your foundation, and it has the power to ground and connect you to the physical world. But when it’s unbalanced, you might not feel safe in your body or your place in the world. You might not feel grounded or present. You might find yourself stressed, to say the least.

Childhood traumas can stay stuck in your base chakra until you discover strategies to release them. Fear of illness, global calamity, brutality — the things we’re seeing in our world today — combined with personal fears about safety, security, and stability can disrupt or distort the free flow of energy in your base chakra.

Here are 4 Healing Practices to Help You Clear Blocks in Your Base Chakra — and the Earth’s Base Chakra:

  1. Do a Grounding Meditation
    When you’re ungrounded, you’re vulnerable to fear’s draining energy and you can get blocked. Fear walks right through those open doors of stress and strain and settles in your mind and body. Meditation is one of the best ways to ground yourself so you can keep those doors closed to fear and open to love.Meditate every day, and your fears — along with those fear-in-disguise feelings like anxiety and hopelessness — will start to subside.

    Start by sitting with your eyes closed — either in the traditional lotus position on the floor, or with your feet planted on the ground as you recline in a chair. Keep your hands on your knees — this in itself is very grounding.

    Focus on your base chakra, right at the base of your spine, and see a red cord from it planting itself firmly in the ground.

    As your cord drops down, visualize the energy of the Earth’s base chakra radiating in every direction and spinning rhythmically as it glows with ruby-red light. This base chakra of the Earth is usually thought to be located at Mount Shasta in Northern California, which Native American tribes considered to be a geyser of upward energy.

    Watch its radiating energy spread up through your grounding cord and into your physical body. Breathe deeply as you absorb the strength that the Earth always holds for you. Like the most resourced mother, the Earth always has the capacity to hold and nourish you — as she replenishes herself with infinite love and a profound connection to the whole of the universe.

    It’s now time to visualize this energy saturating the entire planet and flooding your own base chakra with life. As you visualize this vibrant red energy,, observe how its healing flow flushes away fear, old systems and ways of life that need to be released, negative thoughts and patterns, and stale energy. Watch stuckness release from your body and the Earth’s body — into a vacuum of light, where it’s being transmuted into golden love.

    Now visualize the Earth’s base chakra as a red flower. Watch that flower bloom. Visualize its radiant energy travelling up your grounding cord until your own red flower blossoms at the base of your spine. Try to spend about 5 minutes visualizing the flowers spinning and radiating stability, comfort, and safety. Watch fear, negativity, and everything you and we don’t need fall away.

    After a few minutes, rest your hands on your heart chakra and feel the corners of your mouth raise as you smile with a sense of security that you and the Earth are well.

  2. Work with affirmations
    Affirmations are powerful chakra-balancing tools. Consciously repeating positive declarations while focusing on your base chakra helps you cement its natural power to ground you and make you safe..Affirmations also have the added benefit of rewiring your brain. Chronic negative thoughts (“This world is insane — we’ll never have equality,” “The virus is still rampant — it’ll never go away,” etc.) are not only symptoms of an unbalanced base chakra, they can also add to stress and blockages. Productive affirmations help you more easily replace fear-focused thoughts with love-focused thoughts.

    To use the following affirmation, meditate on your base chakra, and either out loud or in your mind, repeat the words:

    I am safe, secure, and deeply rooted to the world. I belong here.

    Repeating this affirmation throughout the day will help you feel protected and secure. Write it down and post it on your mirror, refrigerator, or dashboard. Another idea is to set reminders on your phone to repeat the affirmation every couple hours. You can even write it down on a slip of paper you tuck under your pillow at night. Let its power seep into your sleep and dreams. After all, your sleep connects you to Spirit, which, like the Earth, is always there to nourish you.

  3. Play With Color
    A simple way to restore your base chakra’s balance is to use color. Red is the color of your first chakra, so wear more red. Incorporate ruby hues into your home environment — get a red lampshade, pull out that red blanket for a cozy nap, or paint your living room a warm, deep red. Wear a garnet ring, a coral necklace, write with a burgundy pen. Sprinkle rose petals in your bath water, paint your nails the color of red wine, try a bright red lipstick, trade in your yellow tea kettle for a red one. The important thing is to consciously work with the red items you choose, linking them with your base chakra. To do this, just repeat the affirmation to seal the connection.
  4. Eat Healing Base-Chakra Foods
    Since your base chakra is all about grounding you to the Earth, adding root vegetables to your diet can help strengthen your connection to the physical world. For an easy, delicious grounding meal, try roasting any of the following with salt and olive oil: beets, rutabagas, potatoes, garlic, ginger, turnips, onions, parsnips.If you eat meat, earthy stews and bone broths can be very nourishing for your base chakra. Don’t forget about grains like oats, mineral drops from the Great Salt Lake or elsewhere, red fruits like berries, or spices like paprika for extra flavor and rich, red goodness.

    Again, think of sending nourishment to your base chakra as you eat the healing foods. Perhaps include the affirmation in your prayers, thanking Mother Earth for sustenance. This will infuse the foods even more with nurturance for your base, filling you with a greater ability to thrive even in these times of tremendous transformation.

Feeling Rooted, Firm, and Secure in the World Is Your Birthright.

Always remember that it’s natural for your base chakra and ALL your chakras to be in a state of balance. It can take a short time or a while to restore that natural balance — depending on a lot of factors. No matter what, you deserve to experience the safety, security, vitality, and JOY that comes from practicing these exercises. As you spend more time grounding yourself in your base chakra and that of the Earth, you’ll begin to develop a deeper feeling of security on this beautiful planet that’s been troubled for a long time, but is rife with potential.

California is burning

California is Burning

California is burning, and it’s all too much. One day a dozen people are gunned down a couple of miles from my home during a college country music night, and the next day fires erupt on both sides of me. Lives and homes are turned to ash while politicians point fingers of blame.

I’m still under a mandatory evacuation order, as the Woolsey Fire rampages through my portion of the California dream. I have heard my house is safe, so far. Fortunately, I have a temporary set-up that’s working as well as possible from the inside of a van. Tiffany, who has worked for the Deborah King Center for a decade, has lost her home. You can help Tiffany get back on her feet here.

My heart bleeds for the sorrow and loss so many are experiencing—sometimes loss upon loss: a loved one murdered while dancing followed by the loss of a roof over your head and all your belongings going up in smoke.

Think for a moment. What would you take given less than five minutes to pack and evacuate before the flames reach you? Without a doubt, after securing “everything with a heartbeat,” your phone and laptop are at the top of your list of inanimate necessities, even before underwear and a toothbrush. But you can’t be too attached to anything or you won’t get away in time.

It’s far too much to think about for being cremated in a car like those poor folks in the Camp Fire in Paradise. Those images will continue to haunt us all.

Fire has to be respected. And so does air—the autumn Santa Ana winds that fan the flames and send sparks and cinders in all directions. And water, that life-saving element that can douse the flames. And earth—the poor scorched landscape that actually needs fire to regenerate. And ether, the most subtle of the elements, the space filled by the other elements. We have lost touch with the elemental parts of our lives.

Each element is vital to our life. When we die, there is a progression of how each element leaves our body until we exhale that very last breath of air.

But what we are seeing these days is “it’s all too much” in terms of the elements. Fire, which gives us energy and transformation, explodes in massive firestorms. Air and water, necessities in life, become deadly hurricanes and widespread flooding. The earth is telling us something, but are we listening? The clock is running down before climate change turns our world yet more inhospitable.

It’s too much really. It’s hard to take it all in: the death from guns, the death from fires, the death of the way in which we used to know our planet.

There is a silver lining, however. When there is a disaster, like the wind-driven blazes we are experiencing here in California, for a moment in time all hearts beat as one. Doors open and strangers are invited in. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary and heroes arise. A drive someone has taken every day of their life suddenly becomes a passage through the inferno of hell, while singing to a child in the back seat to keep her calm, and those who watch the video have to be hard-hearted indeed if tears of compassion don’t well up and spill over.

Does your heart cry out to help those impacted by the fires? Here’s what you can do:

  • Help Tiffany – giving a hand to one person is giving to all.
  • Donate to the Wildfire Relief Fund, a California Community Foundation.
  • If you are in the local area, volunteer to help. Go to to learn where your services might be best put to use.
  • If you want to sign up to host emergency shelter in your home, the Airbnb Evacuee Program for the survivors of the fires in Ventura, Butte, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego counties is looking for temporary housing through November 29th.
  • If lost and frightened animals call out to you, the Humane Society of Ventura County needs your support.
  • Don’t forget these valiant firefighters who risk their lives and their health for our safety. Donate to the California Fire Foundation to provide emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters and to victims of the fires. Over 50 firefighters have lost their homes in Butte County, and yet they are still out there battling to save others’ homes. And the Disaster Relief Fund of the International Association of Fire Fighters helps those on the front lines and their families.

We really are all in this together. Today it’s us here in California. Tomorrow it could be your neck of the woods, your loved ones, your home, your life. Give something, do something; be part of the change for the better.

Dead worshippers

Pipe bombs, assault rifles, and dead worshippers

The time has come to take the bull by the horns and deal with a situation none of us likes and yet many don’t know what to do about it. I’m talking about the difficult and dangerous rhetoric being spouted in every direction that leads directly to pipe bombs, assault rifles, and dead worshippers in a house of God.

As a spiritual teacher, I usually remain neutral, seeking the good at the heart of all. But we are headed down a treacherous path and it’s time for each of us to take a stand, express our opinions, make our voices heard to try to save our country and those who live here. Those who are trying to get here to escape precarious conditions in their own country may find themselves facing military personnel bearing arms rather than the open arms of Lady Liberty.

Actions start with words, and these days civil discourse has all but died. In the past, there was an arcane concept called public debate, where opposing arguments were put forward, the matter was deliberated, with each side putting forth the best defenses of their position. Each side listened to and responded—politely!—to the other. The two sides might have disagreed, but neither party reacted with hatred and vitriol to the other. You could have a difference of opinion without being enemies.

Now we find ourselves in an era of incredibly nasty name-calling, horrific personal attack ads, and in-person physical attacks that are praised by those in power.

Politics and culture wars have become so divisive and destructive we’ve become untethered from our values. And it starts at the highest level of government, with a head of state who attacks the opposition—the opposition being anyone and anything that doesn’t kowtow to him, doesn’t kneel and touch the ground in submission. By labeling his opponents as evil, by mocking them publicly, by refusing to recognize the truth, by leading with fear and divisiveness, our so-called “leader” has inspired the violence we see today. He has inspired the unhinged folks who seek death to the enemy—whether that enemy is a politician, a journalist, or a group of brown-skinned women and children.

When the populace isn’t well-educated, when reading has given way to sound bites and memes, when the country’s “leader” speaks from the gutter, with no moral ground to stand upon, he gives the crazies all the permission they need to kill. It’s a well-known fact that human beings imitate behavior and that is a key problem today.

Recently Chris Matthews, a political commentator on MSNBC, shared a story that got me thinking. He’d returned to his hometown in Pennsylvania for an event and had a chance to speak with a number of middle school teachers. What he learned was troubling. Teachers told him about how disrespectfully and hurtfully teens talk to each other these days, in ways these veteran teachers had never seen before. Even worse, these teachers bemoaned what happened when they called their students on such unacceptable behavior. They responded with a shrug of the shoulders and a chilling defense: “Everybody does it, even the President.”

Our past presidents, red and blue, unlike this one, didn’t encourage getting down and dirty by duking it out in the mud. Truth mattered and was valued by people on both sides of the aisle. Our cherished first amendment—freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble peaceably, freedom of religion, and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances—have all been shoved aside. Only one thing matters to this presidency . . . winning. Winning personal accolades, personal wealth, and unchecked personal power.

When politics is untethered from values, it debases all of us. When immorality, disrespect, and unprincipled standards are encouraged, when fiery words incite violence, when personal power is upheld at our expense, we are on the road to ruin.

So what can each of us do?

Right now, the most important thing we can do is to VOTE on or before November 6th. And we must align our vote with our core values to counteract the amoral standards being set before us as the example to follow. If we vote for candidates who support this kind of demagoguery (a demagogue is a political leader who seeks support by appealing to prejudices), we are condoning violence.

What else can you do besides vote? Encourage others to vote. Knock on doors for candidates you believe can steer us in a better direction. Volunteer to drive others to the polls. Talk and FaceBook and blog about your concerns. Don’t hate on the opposition. Talk about what you like about the candidates you support instead of dumping on the ones you don’t like.

Whatever you do, whatever your politics, seek the high road rather than the low one, and align your choices with your higher self.

If you’re looking for endorsements, you’ve come to wrong place. Each of us will vote red or blue, yea or nay in the privacy of the voting booth, which is our right, our responsibility, and our privilege.

Last week’s rash of pipe bombs, an act of domestic terrorism and political violence, the recent devastation at a Pittsburgh temple by someone who blamed Jews for that pathetic migrant caravan, are but the latest worst-case examples of why our private decisions in the voting booth couldn’t be more important.

Let’s vote for more light, a higher consciousness, and heartfelt consideration for all. But above all, vote!


BlacKkKlansman Review

It’s summertime (still!) and a great time to catch a fun movie: director Spike Lee really hits an all-time high with his BlacKkKlansman, now at a Cineplex near you. Bringing home once again that old saw that truth is stranger than fiction, the film tells the story of Ron Stallworth, played by John Davis Washington – who, back in the 70’s, becomes the first black cop in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Even more improbable, when Ron gets bored working in the records department, he manages to talk his way into a job undercover, and infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Sounds wild and it is!

I promise, you will not be bored: it starts off with a clip from Gone with the Wind (my favorite book and film as a child) revering the Confederate flag, and moves on to Alec Baldwin delivering a white supremacist tirade. It’s a dramedy of the highest order: be prepared to both laugh your head off and boil in anger all at the same time as you roll along with Ron and his sidekick, Jewish cop Flip Zimmerman, brilliantly played by Adam Driver. (It’s pretty hard to watch Driver without laughing, no matter the role).

Officer Stallworth manages to strike up a phone acquaintance with none other than the infamous David Duke, head of the White Nationalists, and incredibly creepy in his suit and tie and normalness. You’d think the whole thing just too ridiculous if the image of a group of angry young white men marching with torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us” wasn’t seared in your memory from just last summer.


The movie runs pell-mell to an incredible climax, again, truth way stranger than any fiction could be written; you will not believe your eyes.

I suppose I could find fault in some of the film’s timing – it’s a little uneven – but hey, I enjoyed it way too much for that. It is truly one of the best films of this year – it’s the work of a cinema giant. As I walked out I turned to the man next to me and blurted out “I’ve got to do more!” and he said “me too!” Go see the film and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – you’ll want to do more too!

Deborah's Elephant

A Baby Elephant – Just What I Always Wanted!

At a retreat last week, my advanced students presented me with the most amazing, loving, and life-affirming gift. On my behalf, they made a donation to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. I am now fostering an orphaned baby elephant! I received a certificate from the orphan rescue program and will be able to follow my foster child’s growth and development in an online diary. His name is “Maktao” and he is three months old. I’m so thrilled and I hope I will be able to go to Africa soon to bond with him!

The Work of the DSWT

Best known for their work to protect elephants, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) operates the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. They embrace all measures that complement the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife including anti-poaching, safe guarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness and providing veterinary assistance to animals in need. Born from one family’s passionate love for Kenya and its wilderness, the trust is one of the pioneering conservation organizations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.

DSWT was founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, to honor the memory of her late husband, famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park, David Leslie William Sheldrick. For over 25 years Kenya-born Daphne Sheldrick lived and worked alongside David, during which time they raised and successfully rehabilitated many wild species. At the heart of the DSWT’s conservation activities today is the Orphans’ Project, which has achieved world-wide acclaim through its hugely successful elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation program.

Orphans Welcome Here

The Orphans’ Project exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought. When a tiny new-born elephant like my charge is orphaned, it is often because its mother and family have been killed to serve the brutal ivory trade. For an elephant, family is all important; a calf’s very existence depends upon its mother’s milk for the first two years of life. An Elephant Nursery now exists nestled within Nairobi National Park under the auspices of the DSWT. The nursery offers hope for any orphaned elephant fortunate enough to be found alive. They rescue and hand-rear elephant and rhino orphans, along with many other species.

Daphne Sheldrick worked for nearly three decades of trial and error to perfect the milk formula and complex husbandry necessary to rear an orphaned infant African elephant. Today, with support from many caring people world-wide, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is proud to have saved over 150 orphaned infant calves, which would otherwise have perished. More importantly, every one of these orphans can look forward to a quality of life in the wild, living free in Tsavo East National Park protected by their new extended orphaned family and friends among the wild herds.

Welcome, Maktao!

So my wonderful gift from my students of a chance to foster baby elephant orphan, Maktao, comes via The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s digital foster program. This program allows individuals across the world to support the trust’s field projects by fostering an orphaned elephant, rhino or giraffe in their care. All elephant, rhino and giraffe orphans rescued by the trust are available to foster, including those orphans living back in the wild. The DSWT’s Elephant Orphanage is open to the public for one hour every day, from 11 am to noon. During this time the orphans arrive for their midday mud bath and feeding. Baby elephants love their mud baths!

Welcome, Maktao, to the sponsorship of a caring human family—all of us here at the Deborah King Center. The Trust likes to name its orphaned elephants in a way that can identify them with their origin. The orphans come from all corners of Kenya and from many different elephant populations, so they are usually given place or ethnic tribal names, as was Maktao, where he was found.

The most precious gift is the gift of life. Thank you, my beloved students, for giving me this gift of life!

If you’d like to help a baby elephant, click here.


A Thoroughly Modern Mother’s Day

What Mom Really Wants: Peace, Love and Understanding

Bloomingdale’s flagship store in New York City is honoring Mother’s Day with something a little different this year. Instead of the usual spring fashions, their windows will showcase the good works of five New York moms in “Magnanimous Moms, Moms Who Make a Difference and Moms with a Heart.” Consumerism, move over – it’s time for what the world needs right now: the loving activism that mothering is all about.

Honoring activist mothers turns out to be in perfect keeping with the energy that started Mother’s Day to begin with. Contrary to what you might be thinking, Mother’s Day in the U.S. was not founded by the florists, the candy shops, or the greeting card companies. The holiday was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna’s mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna’s campaign to create an official Mother’s Day succeeded in 1914 when Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May a national holiday to honor mothers.

Giving cards, candy, and flowers on Mother’s Day is sweet, but look deeper into the activist heart of the holiday. What do today’s mothers really want? They want the same thing that mothers throughout time have always wanted—a better world for their children. Each of the activist moms being honored in the Bloomingdale’s window found a cause that mattered to her and took action. Each of them leads a philanthropic organization that they created to make things better.

Bloomingdale’s didn’t have to look far to find these caring mothers: Agnes Gund founded Studio in a School in 1977, in response to city and state budget cuts that were threatening art education programs in public schools in New York. Gund is a legendary arts patron known for supporting a variety of social justice causes.

Chelsea Clinton’s Too Small to Fail promotes the importance of early brain and language development and empowers parents with tools to talk, read and sing with their young children from birth. Christy Turlington Burns founded the global maternal health organization, Every Mother Counts, dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. Kim Sweet is Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, whose mission is to ensure high-quality education for New York students from low-income backgrounds. Elizabeth Bryan-Jacobs is an upstate New York artist who pioneered her “Spread Your Wings” art-making program at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, Texas, where it broke all fundraising records and “brought out the angel in everyone.” Think children in wheelchairs painting brightly colored feathers for an enormous pair of wings!

The possibilities for celebrating Mother’s Day with social activism are truly boundless. One thing about today’s world—there is no scarcity of vital, life-saving work to be done. Whether the realm is health, education, justice, government, environment, animal welfare, the arts and whether the venue is local, national, or global, finding a cause that speaks to your heart is easy. Making a better world is an equal opportunity job with room for everyone. In addition to the local public schools, day care centers, health clinics, libraries, and senior centers that could probably use your in-person assistance, there are national and international organizations ready to welcome your support. Heifer International out of Little Rock, Arkansas, works to end poverty and hunger and build community with donations of farm animals (and bees) around the world. Habitat for Humanity (think President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter) works locally and internationally to build homes for low-income families. Doctors Without Borders provides humanitarian medical care wherever it is needed most. Amnesty International supports human rights efforts. The Sierra Club works to preserve the environment and the World Wildlife Fund? Their name says it all.

Taking loving action in the world seems like the perfect way to warm a mother’s heart and honor the day that is dedicated to mothers everywhere. Everything in this world is connected to and dependent upon everything else. To honor our connectedness is to honor life itself and the Creator of all. Whatever actions you take to provide loving service in the world will send forth pulses of healing energy. When you choose a way to serve that matches your passionate interests, it brings joy to you and to Mom and to all the moms who pray for the health, safety, freedom, and happiness of their children. Think about Ann Reeves Jarvis, Civil War nurse, who did not discriminate between North and South in her healing mission. There couldn’t be a better symbol of the stuff that needs healing today than the American Civil War. Thank you, Ann Jarvis, and daughter Anna, for the loving spirit that inspired Mother’s Day. It’s just what the world needs now.

If you’re interested in promoting feminine values like those you read about in this blog, you’ll love my course, Living Out Loud: Activate your sacred feminine energy and connect to your soul’s wisdom, so you can live a life of beautiful radiance.

What Torture Says About Us

What Torture Says About Us

Torture isn’t – or at least shouldn’t be – a political hot potato. Unfortunately, it is. Again.

I’ve always believed that when it comes to the subject of torture, the right and wrong of it, the complicated legal and illegal nuances, and its immoral consequences, all make torture a topic better reserved for the pulpit. (In saying that, by no means was ‘bully’ unintentionally omitted from ‘pulpit.’)

Torture is against the law in the United States and rightfully outlawed internationally by the Geneva Convention. At long last, people of nearly every political persuasion around the world have come to accept that fact. Consider it cultural progress of sorts, although such progress is at best precarious.

Our spiritual and religious leaders have made the condemnation of torture central to their message, not just for centuries, but for millennia. Ironically, although we can’t seem to find common agreement on nearly anything these days, we can at least agree on the very righteousness of the admonishments against torture found in the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran.

It’s easy to understand because torture doesn’t protect and enhance our humanity, it does just the opposite.

Torture doesn’t strengthen us, it debases us.

Torture strikes deeply at our moral fiber, undermining it and bringing us down collectively.

Torture dehumanizes us at time when humanity seems under attack from all quarters and leaves us all to wonder how much may one day be too much, to repel or recover from.

Interestingly, military and intelligence experts add yet another defining point of view: these experts found torture as an interrogation technique to be ineffective, in addition to everything else.

In fact, many of the staunchest opponents of torture are revered elected officials of both parties, and a few honored war heroes. Like Arizona Senator John McCain, whose years of torture during his captivity in Vietnam allow him an inarguably unique perspective and the right to speak with true authority on the subject.

We have every reason to be culturally uncomfortable and morally queasy about torture and wise to never drop our guard to its seductive evil.

On the national stage, torture in politics refuses to be ignored. It’s not returning to the conversation, because the truth is, it never left.

The president of the United States is on record as supporting torture on some levels. On January 27 of last year, he repeated his belief in the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation,” aka waterboarding: “I happen to feel that it does work,” referring to “torture or waterboarding or however you want to define it — enhanced interrogation I guess would be a word.”

Military experts and neuro-research counter that claim, and no less than Mike Pompeo, currently the nominee for Secretary of State, opposed it in his confirmation hearing last year to head the CIA, saying he would “absolutely not” revive the agency’s use of the practice of “enhanced interrogation,” which included waterboarding and other inhumane treatment.

And recent developments attest to our arriving at yet another critical threshold moment. Further muddying the already murky waters, the president’s choice to become the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency is, at long last, a woman. However, there are conflicting reports coming from credible sources on both sides about Gina Haspel and her history with torture.

In fairness, these reports make her actual position on torture unclear. I make no attempt to pre-judge Ms. Haspel but insist on the truth of her history in this area because so much is at stake. The Guardian, in a March 16 article quotes CIA sources that accuse her of administering torture during past assignments, along with similar reporting in the Atlantic, the New York Times and many other sources. On the same day, however, NPR published a story retracting their earlier story making claims to that effect. For now, we can’t know what to believe, what’s true or false, but it’s clear we need to know more.

Our legislators in Washington owe the American people complete transparency on this subject. As a culture we simply can’t go down this road again. Shades of grey here are simply unacceptable. Let’s face it; not only is there ample reason to fear our standard on torture, i.e., that it is illegal and unacceptable, could change in a heartbeat, but there is mounting evidence to suggest it already has.

Before #MeToo-ers, myself included, celebrate what might otherwise be a victory of sorts, we all need to take a deep breath, step back and consider this sobering detail. We must know for a fact whether the woman eyed as our next CIA leader, although inarguably qualified, given her service and intelligence experience, may bring cultural baggage to the job.

If, as some attest, that during years after 9-11 when torture was morally abhorrent but at the time mistakenly thought to be legal, she expertly administered one of the infamous offshore dark-ops prison facilities where those darker arts were expertly practiced, we would need to look more closely, as this is definitely not the kind of expertise we want at the helm of our government’s intelligence agency.

Take a moment and write directly to your legislative representatives and be part of the conversation; you will be most effective by contacting legislators who represent you personally. Consider contacting your representatives through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Be clear about what action you’d like your legislator to take; they are there to serve you.

Click here to find your representatives.

You can also simply call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121, and you will be promptly connected with the correct office.

As Americans we’re better than this. We must be.


Out of the Mouths of Babes
Wisdom We Should All Be Thankful For

This old saying, familiar to most all of us, has in the aftermath of last week’s tragedy in Parkland, Florida, been given new meaning that is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before in our history. The children of Parkland are showing themselves to be articulate, informed and committed young adults, and in so doing they have given us a gift of profound significance:


Hope that maybe this time will be different.

It sure feels different this time. Boomers like me are reminded of Peter Finch in the 1976 Sidney Lumet classic Network – these kids are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.

That anger and fear has resonated with people of all beliefs and political persuasion.

From the mouths of babes hope that their efforts will serve as the long, overdue and desperately needed catalyst for change, and not degrade into the inactivity we fear and have seen countless times before.

But there is much more than that – these kids are serving notice of a refusal to tolerate anything but that this time will be different. Because it must be the start of a movement. It is simply inspiring.

Fueled by the hope that Parkland isn’t merely the most recent, but that Parkland inspires us by being the last.

Their determination is to make a difference, and with that comes the refusal to accept lack of action. This should make the special interests so deeply invested in preservation of the status quo of guns very nervous indeed.

Confronted with horror and tragedy that defies words, these kids are taking action, and no one should be misled by their youth and inexperience. Yesterday’s ‘lie down’ in Washington, D.C., was only a preview of what we can expect with their announced March on Washington tentatively scheduled for March 24th.

They’re serving notice, and the implications are sobering.

Consumed by the Russia investigation and sexual misconduct scandals, the administration shouldn’t view this as a welcome changing of the conversation. Be careful what you ask for.

No, these kids are changing the national conversation in ways few imagined possible, because this is the long-awaited outpouring of the national heart and conscience with a vengeance. Demanding that all elected officials that refuse to support sane, common sense gun sales regulations and background checks are being put on notice and should be worried.

Focusing on the wise and timely idea that it’s time to take steps that prevent the mentally ill and individuals on watch lists, as examples, to purchase weapons.

These wise kids are committed to having the conversation that every generation, from theirs to the boomers, has feared we’d never have. Consideration of such topics such as whether the school shooting weapon-of-choice, the AR-15, a weapon whose purpose is mass killing, even belongs on our streets, and if 18-year-olds should be able to buy one as easily as a DVD.

Yes, wisdom out of the mouths of babes that offers hope when it is in such short supply yet needed more urgently and desperately than ever.

If it seems ‘divinely-inspired’, it should. The origin of this old saying can be traced to the Bible.  Matthew 21:16 and Psalms 8:2.

Our children may be inexperienced, but they’ve seen enough and know enough to rescue us from ourselves, and for that they deserve our thanks, admiration, and support. Join me in insisting that all our politicians come out in favor of responsible gun laws.


Only in America: Gun Horror
Where Leadership Has Failed Us

The latest school shooting in Florida today is just that – only the latest. 18 school shootings in the first 45 days of the year. Since Sandy Hook, there have been at least 239 school shootings, with 438 people shot, 138 dead, and the rest of us numb.

The uncomfortable truth is that nowhere else in the world is the problem so severe, so out of control, and seemingly so hopeless. The statistics are indisputable, yet nothing seems horrific enough to move us Americans to act.

The murder of innocents defies party and political agenda, but the fact is that the NRA has highjacked our safety and peace of mind with a distortion of the 2nd Amendment. Read the Amendment – it’s not about the right to bear arms but the right for states to raise a militia. It has been used for generations as a scare tactic to avoid discussion of responsible gun sales and ownership.

Only in America are AR-15s and similar weapons of war freely available as commodities, and that is morally irresponsible, shameful and unacceptable madness. Yet politicians for years have been beholden to the NRA. Every politician that chooses to be a willing beneficiary of their dollars does so at the cost of American safety and has the blood of our children on their hands.

After each tragedy, we wonder if it’s finally enough to bring our leaders to their senses and do what’s right, not expedient or politically safe.

After each tragedy, politicians spout the canned, “our hearts are broken … the victims and their families are in our prayers.”

President Trump had a huge opportunity this morning to think beyond party, his base, his donors, and what’s convenient and safe. His short speech was full of platitudes, skillfully drafted to say all the politically correct things.

Yet it was what he failed to say that spoke loudest of all: nothing about spearheading legislation to address the gun problem in the United States. He failed to address what everyone knows is one of America’s most urgent challenges. It was time to say what needs to be said. It was time for true leadership when we need it most.

Trump said none of that, failed the test, and as our leader, failed all of us. Again.

The time has come for Americans of all political parties to demand better. We need to require a background check on every gun sale; 34% of mass shooters would have been prohibited from owning a gun with a background check. We need to ban ownership of any and all military-style weapons; a hunter doesn’t bring down a deer with an AR-15 nor does the homeowner need it next to his bed to ward off an intruder.

Let’s get serious about solving this problem by voting in to office only those who stand for sensible gun safety laws. Let’s quit settling for being the only supposedly civilized nation in the world that allows this kind of carnage.

Our children’s very lives depend upon it.

Join the Conversation

Do you agree with me? Disagree? Or have a personal story about guns you’d like to share?

An open dialogue is crucial to finding solutions to these “hot” issues. However, please be respectful of one another – foul language and bullying are not tolerated under any circumstances.

TV Violence Huffington Post

TV Violence: Enough is Enough

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post. You can read the entire article here.

When you wake up to the news that 59 people have been murdered and over 527 more injured in Las Vegas, many of them in critical condition, and realize that one man—one!—did this to 600 people in 9 minutes, you have to wonder: why do we live in such a violent country? In the U.S., more than 30,000 Americans are killed each year with guns.1

So what did the killer do as a child? My bet is he was affected by violent shows, just like the recent Washington high school shooter, Caleb Sharpe, who was enamored of TV shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones,” and movies like “American Psycho.” 2

Uncaring Health Care

Uncaring Health Care

I have never been a particularly political person. I vote in presidential elections, but am oblivious to local and state office holders. I survived the Nixon years, the Clinton years, and the Bush years with little involvement. Even the impeachment processes for Nixon and Clinton got little attention from me. I was deeply enmeshed in advancing my spirituality and developing skills to help others. But now I’m truly upset—over health care. I’m shocked at the cruelty of Congress in gutting Medicaid (and other provisions in the Better Care Reconciliation Act also known as Trumpcare) in order to finance major tax cuts for the wealthy.

Medicaid is the health insurance for the 74 million Americans who are disabled or lower income and 40 percent of those are children. They are being thrown under the bus in order to provide a tax break to those who earn more than $200,000 a year, to pharmaceutical companies, and to insurance companies.


Shame on Him, Not on You

Powerful men in the public eye seem to think they can have their way and get away with it all. But eventually they get caught, and the litany of their lies and excuses is embarrassing. Just look at the apologies offered by Anthony Weiner, DSK (the Frenchman vs. the hotel maid), John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenagger, Bill Clinton, and a host of others over the years.

Some broke the law, like Edwards using campaign money to fund his trysts, while others simply lost the public trust and broke their wives’ hearts. These woman had to deal with public humiliation as well as with their private suffering over their husbands’ betrayals.

Read my blog, “Weiner: Shame on Him, Not on Huma,” in the Huffington Post at for more on this topic and be sure to comment on it there; would love to bring this shameful behavior more into the open, where it can be healed.


Joking on the Job – Not Something To Laugh About!

I was recently interviewed for the Star-Ledger to discuss appropriate & inappropriate comments in the workplace.  During our discussion we examined the recent flap over David Letterman’s one-liners about Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter.  I think this  has served as a reminder that people often cross the line of appropriateness even when they think they’re being funny.

Anything that involves the big five — gender, religion, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity — are off limits.  They’re completely inappropriate for the workplace. Please take a minute to read the original post as I provided some cues for workers to follow if they think a joke-telling colleague is crossing the line.  You can read the entire post here.


Elizabeth Edwards: Is it really about Resilience?

I have received a great number of comments and calls about my apparently controversial ideas about Elizabeth Edwards and her publicity tour for her book Resilience.  In addition to the calls and comments I have received, I was on CNN Headline News yesterday examining the questions created by her media tour with host Mike Galanos.

The one question no one seems to be asking in the midst of this whirlwind media blitz is: What can we learn from this?  Read my complete analysis and exploration of this topic on the Huffington Post.

Excerpt from the Huffington Post:  “As her book title indicates, Elizabeth thinks she’s demonstrating that when the wind blows rough, the tough adjust their sails. But the more important lesson may be all about how denial and revenge don’t work.”


Oprah Interview of Elizabeth Edwards

It was fascinating watching Elizabeth Edwards’ body language as Oprah interviewed her, and that of her husband (for a brief time at the end). As much as Elizabeth and John have been working on their trust issues, I think she still has some inner work to do to restore her shattered self-confidence. Despite her obvious desire for a marriage that promised “happily ever after,” writing a book that brings the whole sordid affair back into public scrutiny might not have been the way to go. Read my analysis in the Huffington Post.

She held up fairly well during the interview, although the self-doubt she expressed as the wronged woman–did I dress all wrong at home, what do I mean to my husband, the classic “what’s wrong with me”– was echoed in the way she held herself hunched inward. The issues of trust they are working on as a couple are equaled by the shaken trust in herself: she had failed to keep her husband faithful–the one thing that meant the most to her. (While tempted, I won’t digress here and talk about how she “took on” her mother’s issue of spousal infidelity) Read more