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The Death of Democracy

The model for our children for the past year has been poisonous vitriol, aimed at everyone and anyone who stood in the way. This unqualified bully, stupid and with an inability to complete a full sentence, has been elected president. He has modeled the worst possible behavior and this will teach the ignorant to think it is the path to success. His children are nothing more than pay-rolled lemmings with no ability to think for themselves, who think that climate change is just weather and that killing endangered animals for sport is somehow manly. Ivanka, an advocate for women’s rights, has stayed silent throughout the campaign about her Father’s misogynistic attitude and behavior towards women. This is a statement about the America we live in, where disgusting behavior is rewarded and incompetency is over-paid. (Pollsters are just another piece of evidence that we pay dearly for incompetence.)

So many of us are in shock. Like any shocking loss there is that time of disbelief and desire to believe this didn’t happen. And like the stages of grief, it is the road we must travel. Disbelief, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually acceptance.

The hardest in this case is the last, acceptance. But without asking you to skip steps there is profound value in acceptance. We are being asked to accept the America we live in today, not The America of Yesterday or even The America of Tomorrow, but today. Acceptance does not mean resignation. It does not mean giving up. It does not mean stop fighting for higher principals or stronger ethics. It means to understand and accept the direction in which the train is moving and to get in front and lay some track.

America is a naïve country, which makes it very easy to market to. Marketing to America is a very simple recipe: put in some greed, vanity, and a healthy pinch of entitlement and you have America every time. We are a country divided and we have been divided for quite some time; now it has just been formalized.  Donald Trump in his own arrogance and need for attention is ignorant to the political landscape, he doesn’t understand well enough to know that when you divide a country it will becomes vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. Russia know this all too well, as it has already watched its own country fall apart to division. Putin is a happy guy with the outcome of our election.

There will be many pieces written on the campaign and on this election. There will be college courses for years to come, marking this as a precedent setting case study. This for me is not a time of protest but a time of bed rest. We must look to the people we love. We must look to the families we need to protect. There is nothing to get up in arms about today, rather today find something or someone to wrap your arms around.

Another Pivot

As we are on the precipice of a major pivot, I am reminded; I have had five major pivots in my life and the sixth pivot is calling my name. Those pivots have been ontological and structural as well as emotional.

The first was my stepmother.  As an out of control (I am certain an ADHD) child/adolescent I was untethered and she offered love, guidance and a fresh start. I made a mess out of my educational life and she found a college in Florence that offered up a new beginning and a repertory company, and most importantly, the Dean (Dr. Adamany).

The second pivot being Dr. Adamany. Dr. Adamany was Lebanese; he did all his undergraduate work and advanced degrees at the University of Chicago. His Ph.D was in English literature and more specifically, Shakespeare. After seeing me act in “Long Day's Journey into the Night” he told me to stop acting and to study with him. Even at the worst of times I have always love to read. He formalized that love and gave me direction, he was my mentor and my first real loss. He died of cancer a year after I left Florence and had returned back to NYC. If I look at this in more metaphysical terms, he died of a broken heart. Attempting to do a gracious deed for my academic future he was betrayed by his colleagues who had always been jealous of his spirit. But that’s a longer story…

The next pivot was when I was approaching twenty-nine and was once again out of control; in the throes of a divorce and being a particularly narcissistic father to my two-year-old baby girl. I was supposed to do a movie but instead ended up in a motivational seminar where I was up to my old tricks of seduction and destruction. Tracy Goss, a brilliant seminar leader/educator/critical thinker was running the seminar and called me out in front of 250 people. She said to me, “You’re at a decisive moment and you have a choice to continue being an asshole or change the direction you are going.” I studied and trained with her for years and it was there I found my calling and my life’s work.

The fourth pivot was when I met Jen (my wife). Once again I was in the throes of destruction and coming out of my second marriage. I met an angel who had the capacity to chew-up my poisonous ways and yet still become more beautiful and pure. I was confronted with issues and traumas that I had been running away from all my life.

The fifth has been my children. Finding the importance of Character over Reputation, Integrity over Charm, and Parenting over Entitlement.

The sixth pivot is in its infancy: Surrender. The giving up of control, understanding where I have nothing to say but much to listen to and truly letting go. I see my life in pivots and I see my life in the people who have given so much to me. There is no intrinsic right for someone to contribute their time, love and money to another's life.  It is an existential act of love. There are many more people and many more conversations that have changed the course of my life- too many to mention. I am grateful and I am humbled by the love and generosity of others.