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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
April 30, 2014

Mayweather vs Maidana

May 3

At Las Vegas (Showtime PPV): Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Marcos Maidana, 12 rounds, WBC/WBA welterweight unification; Luis Collazo vs. Amir Khan, 12 rounds, welterweights; Adrien Broner vs. Carlos Molina, 10 rounds, junior welterweights; J'Leon Love vs. Marco Antonio Periban, 10 rounds, super middleweights; Anthony Ogogo vs. Jonuel Tapia, 8 rounds, middleweights; Andrew Tabiti vs. John Shipman, 6 rounds, cruiserweights; Ronald Gavril vs. Tyrell Hendrix, 8 rounds, super middleweights; Ashley Theophane vs. Angino Perez, 8 rounds, welterweights; Lanell Bellows vs. Thomas Gifford, 6 rounds, super middleweights; Ladarius Miller vs. Richard Colas, 4 rounds, welterweights

The "tale of the tape" for this Saturday night's fight between Mayweather and Maidana reveals little about the welterweight unification title bout. The biggest differences between the two are their ages and records. Floyd is 37; Marcos is 30. Floyd enters with an undefeated record of 45-0, with 26 knockouts; Maidana is 35-3, with 31 knockouts.

Both are expected to weigh in at 147 pounds on Friday afternoon. Mayweather will enter the ring at about that weight, though he may be up to 150 lbs. Maidana could be up to 155 lbs by fight time. Mayweather stands at 5' 8", compared to 5' 7" for Maidana. Floyd's reach is 72 inches, three more than his opponent's.

Based upon those numbers, it appears to be a fairly even match-up. However, most if not all "experts" are predicting a one-sided fight, in which Mayweather will win a 12-round decision. Indeed, in Floyd's last fight, against the much larger Saul Alvarez, an undefeated young champion, Mayweather dominated in a manner that made his victory appear easy.

Floyd Mayweather's status as one of the sport's elite, all-time greats is the reason he is so heavily favored. It is interesting to consider how four groups of people view him. Among the "experts," which includes journalists, he is recognized as the pound-for-pound best fighter today. Most fighters give him the respect he is due; this includes the retired fighters who now train the young lions. A couple of promoters -- Bob Arum and Oscar de la Hoya -- cannot speak of Mayweather without hostility. And boxing fans are divided between those who admire him, and those who despise him.

Maidana is respected by the boxing community, as a tough, hard-punching warrior. He turned pro in 2004, fighting in Argentina and Germany, and won his first 24 bouts. He was then given a shot at a minor title, and lost a close decision. It was then that an American promoter brought him to LA to get beat by Victor Ortiz in June of 2009. Ortiz was a good prospect at the time, being promoted as "the next Oscar de la Hoya" -- by Oscar, who was promoting his career.

The fight was outstanding. Neither Ortiz or Maidana relied upon defensive skills, in an explosive brawl. Both fighters were floored in the first round; Maidana was decked twice in the second; and Victor was dropped before quitting in round six. Journalists such as HBO's Max Kellerman focused more attention on Ortiz's quitting -- especially when he told a reporter that he "didn't get paid" to get hurt in the ring -- and overlooked Maidana. (So much for Max's "concern" about fighters' safety, health, and well-being!)

Promoters recognized that Maidana was the type of fighter that could sell tickets, however. Although he returned to Argentina for two of his next three bouts, he was soon matched with welterweight champion Amir Khan. Although he was dropped in the first round by a body shot, Maidana was able to make it an exciting fight. His reckless, hard-punching offense had Khan running in the championship rounds. That loss would actually increase Maidana's standing among fans.

Maidana won two more fights, then lost to Devon Alexander. In that bout, his lack of ring skills was exposed. Khan would lose two fights in a row around this time, which resulted in people giving Maidana less credit for that performance. They questioned if Maidana could compete against the top-level boxers.

After the loss, Maidana sought out Robert Garcia, one of the best trainers in the sport. Garcia worked to refine Maidana's style: he taught him the proper stance, adequate foot-work, defensive skills, and a surprising good jab. Maidana won his next three fights -- each by knockout -- before being matched against another top prospect, Adrien Broner, for a welterweight title.

Broner, who was undefeated going into the bout, was engaging in self-promotion that he was "the next Floyd Mayweather." He certainly has talent, and had generally been impressive in his fights below the welterweight division. In his last fight, however, Paulie Malignaggi had exposed some vulnerabilities. Broner won a split-decision that could easily have gone the other way.

There have been few, if any, professional athletes who could compete with Broner in being obnoxious. Adrien engaged in a cheap imitation of a young Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and appeared offended when the boxing community noted his total lack of orginality. He opted to fight Maidana, to showcase his talents in a manner that would elevate him to a pay-per-view star.

On 12-14-13, Maidana gave Broner a 12-round thumping, which included knocking Adrien down in both the 2nd and 8th rounds. This was made possible, as a result of Garcia's teaching Maidana the skills necessary to deliver his powerful punches. In particular, this ability is based upon the jab; when Maidana showed the ability to out-jab Broner -- by coming up, under Broner's jab -- it translated into his actually being able to outbox his opponent. (Jabbing up, under the other man's jab, allows you to land your punch on either his chest, or to lift his chin. As Broner tends to defend by pulling back to the side, Maidana's jab pushed him off-balance. Even if Broner is only slightly off-balance, it does two things: it prevents him from returning punches, and more importantly, creates that split-second required for Maidana to land his follow-up blows.)

That victory put Maidana in position to challenge Mayweather. It's not surprising that this fight is not creating as much interest as Floyd's last bout: the pro-Mayweather crowd assumes Floyd will easily outbox Maidana, while the anti-Mayweather folks claim he hand-picks "easy" fights. While I think Floyd will win, I actually think this will be one of his toughest fights in his professional career.

Why? Three reasons, really. Styles make fights. Maidana will pressure Floyd, making him work hard for three minutes of every round. The last two fighters who did this were Hatton and Cotto, and these were both exciting, competitive bouts. Second, Maidana has more concusive power than Hatton or Cotto. And his trainer has provided him with the ability to deliver that power. Third, temperment plays a significant role. This includes the fact that Maidana is a pleasant man outside the ring, who has always been respectful of Mayweather. Thus, Floyd doesn't have the edge in terms of disliking Maidana, in the manner he did Oscar, for example. While Floyd's intense self-discipline in training is one of the most important factors in separating him from the "merely" great champions he has defeated, it can be difficult to be up for someone like Maidana.

Yet it is Maidana's temperment that promises to make this a tough fight. He is a throw-back to the great fighters of old, who were willing to take their opponents' best shots, in order to land their own. Khan dropped him with a vicious left hook to the liver, which is surely the most painful punch in boxing. In over 50 years of watching the sport, I had never seen anyone beat the count after taking a perfect shot to the liver, largely because one's legs do not work for at least 10 seconds. But Marcos got up, and fought back.

Temperment is what allowed Carmen Basilio to beat Sugar Ray Robinson for the middleweight championship. No one would argue that Basilio was anywhere close to Ray in terms of talent. Robinson was bigger, faster, and hit harder than Basilio. But Carmen was willing to take Ray's best shots, in order to get close to him, and force Robinson to fight on the inside.

I expect this weekend's fight to be far better than the boxing "experts" and Vegas odds-makers are predicting. Obviously, Floyd has to be favored to win. But he won't have an easy time. And anyone who says that Maidana has no chance of winning simply does not understand the sport.

Enjoy the fight!

April 28, 2014

DU Hedge School

“Any time two people think exactly alike, it means only one is thinking.”
-- Malcolm X

I went to a grocery store today. The gentleman ahead of me in line was in a discussion about public education with the lady at the cash register. I listened for a moment, then asked, “Are you a teacher?” He said that he used to teach, but now was the superintendent at a nearby school district. I know the lady casually, enough to know that she teaches at another area school. And I’m on the school board at yet another area school district.

Because there weren’t many shoppers there, we were able to carry on an interesting conversation about some of the issues that all three schools face. Because each of us comes from a different position, we each had a somewhat different view of both the problems, and possibilities for dealing with them. Having a unique viewpoint did not translate into any one of us thinking we had a monopoly on “the answer.”

What we all shared was an interest for the quality of education that the students at each school get. This included a shared concern that some of the state and national mandates are having an unintended, negative consequence for a segment of the student population. A “one size fits all” approach overlooks the reality that there are some issues that, while perhaps common in large city public school systems, are very different than those in the rural, small town school systems in our region.

If another customer had not gotten in line behind me, I suspect that the three of us could have easily talked for another half hour or more. Now, that’s the way it should be: when it comes to an issue as important as public schools, people from different backgrounds should be able to talk, and to listen, to other people. It certainly doesn’t mean that we are always going to agree with one another. Nor should we. For complex issues never have a single “right” answer -- although there are sometimes very definite “wrong” approaches.

Certainly, many people who are registered as republicans believe in promoting public education. Yet, at the higher levels, there are republicans who are engaged in a campaign to destroy the public school system. It’s curious how jackasses like O’Reilly and Rush will babble about “the war on Christmas” -- which exists only in their imaginations, while ignoring the very real war on public education.

In my opinion, this “war” is being waged because the primary purpose of public education is to prepare young people to become active participants in the social, economic, and political world that they are part of. In other words, to become good citizens. If we look back, for example, at the first national politician to advocate that tax dollars be invested in public education, we find a man who believed in preparing youngsters to be informed, active community members. (Daniel Dickenson had also been a school teacher, as was his wife. Her father used to own the house in which I now reside.)

Those republicans are in a coordinated effort to create a feudal society in the United States, with an isolated ruling class that has full opportunity to the quality of education that the masses cannot afford. That may sound harsh, and it may sound brutal. But it is the ugly truth. And until we recognize that fact, we will be defenseless against an enemy that is seeking to capitalize upon the ignorance of the peasant classes.

I said that, to say this: I came home, and was looking through at a few OP/threads on DU. On one in particular -- having to do with the 2016 presidential election -- there were some strongly-held opinions expressed about a potential democratic nominee. As has been the case in times past, none more so than 2008, there were strong disagreements between people who were all sincere, and I believe informed, in their beliefs.

A couple people held that if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, all people of good will are obligated to vote for her. One noted that an unwillingness to do so could result in Ted Cruz becoming president. Now, that example is silly, to the extent that it simply can never happen. As such, it can only be seen as a scare tactic that fails to support the very case the person was seeking to make. By derailing an important conversation, it can only backfire.

I’m not interested in discussing the pro and con reasons that people may have in terms of Hillary Clinton. In fact, people can make strong cases both ways. What did concern me was when one person -- someone I respect -- said that if she’s nominated and you aren’t going to vote for her, you should quit posting on this forum. Hogwash.

The Democratic Underground should be an open marketplace for facts and individual opinions, in a search for answers to the questions we face. No one has a monopoly on the truth, any more than any one politician is the Democratic Party. There shouldn’t be any purity tests here (excepting, of course, that those known as “trolls” get zapped). If we are confident in our beliefs, and have the courage of our convictions, we should welcome the opinions of others, even when they are very different than our own.

Obviously, we should be focusing on the 2014 elections. That doesn’t exclude thinking about what is to come in 2016. While it is unlikely that we can totally avoid the foolishness that saturated so many discussions here in 2008, it is possible that we can elevate the tone of those discussions. That is, of course, up to each and every one of us, as individual participants. It is certainly worth a try, isn’t it?

Thank you for your consideration.

H2O Man

April 25, 2014

The Bundy Questions

What is one to make of Cliven Bundy? To rational thinking people, he is a circus
freak, overstaying his 15 minutes of fame. For republicans, he held the promise
of being the next Marlboro Man -- a self-made tough guy, combining the best
qualities of Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin. After opening his mouth,
however, it appears he is best suited to be a minister of the militia-minded,
or the theologian of the rabid tea partiers.

Humor can be found in the watching of many of the republican political
and media stars who, after praising Bundy on bended knee, are now
seeking to distance themselves from him. However, there is really nothing
funny about the man, nor the disturbance he is causing. It's not simply because
he is a tapeworm that has grown wealthy by stealing from the public. He really
should have been held responsible for that theft, long ago.

What is particularly troubling is that American society continues to produce
diseased individuals such as him. Surely, it is not new. It is good that he has not
been elected to the U.S. Senate, in the manner of Strom Thurman. But it is not
enough to think that he is old, representative of a shameful chapter in the nation's past, and will be dead soon. If only it were that simple.

Bundy is the nucleus of a malignant cell that has grown into a cluster of armed,
angry, and ignorant people who are seeking a violent confrontation. His racist
remarks will not decrease his appeal to the militia- and fringe tea party-types.
As established republicans and Fox News hosts publicly reject him, he will not
hesitate to take up the mantle of extremism.

The extremist element views the Bundy conflict as being a fuse that could
cause a powder keg to explode. That they are, by definition, "terrorists" seems
crystal clear. They openly identify the federal government as the enemy. The
holding of this opinion is not, in and of itself, a problem. Their willingness to
take up arms, to defend a dead-beat, is definitely a problem.

Most of the young people I encounter do not carry on the hatreds
of their parents and grandparents -- the hating of "others," based on race,
religion, sexual identity, ethic background, etc. Yet in other regions of the
nation, these hatreds are handed down like valued heirlooms. Rooted in
fears and anxieties, they threaten the fabric of our society. And because these
irrational belief systems will not be buried when Cliven Bundy goes to his
grave, we must deal with them before they explode.

Two questions: First, what would you recommend the federal government do
now, to deal with this particular stand-off? And second, how do you think that
the larger society should confront the problems with the extremists on the

Thank you for your consideration.

H2O Man

April 23, 2014

Remembering Rubin

"Muhammad Ali means 'One who has walked and talked with Kings, and yet has not
lost the common touch.' ....Muhammad Ali means Constant Struggle. But that's what
America's all about -- is it not?"
-- Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

Shortly before Muhammad Ali was to regain his heavyweight title from Big George
Foreman, the editor of World Boxing magazine asked Rubin to pen an article on what
Ali meant to black Americans. The above quote, from the article, was part of Carter's
expanding on that topic, by addressing what The Champ should mean to everyone
in America. As I was re-reading the article yesterday, I thought it was an equally good
description of Rubin Carter.

In the years after the federal court system vacated his conviction for triple murder,
Carter would walk and talk with some of the most powerful people on earth. These
included Nelson Mandela, and President and Mrs. Clinton. His work in support of
people he believed had been wrongly convicted -- meaning "innocent," rather than
merely "not guilty" -- took him around the globe.

In those years,I only heard him speak ill of one politician: then-governor George W.
Bush. Rubin described the future president as "giddy with delight" when he spoke about
his power to allow people to be executed. Indeed, he told me that the "W" in Bush's
name stood for "Death," the most appropriate middle name for the man.

I've been looking through old letters and scrapbooks, court documents and books, and
a number of boxing magazines, since getting word that Rubin had died on Sunday
morning. We had been friends for over 40 years. Some of my favorites are from
when Ali was becoming active in his support of Rubin and co-defendent John Artis.
This was before their cause became popular.

Rubin had fought twice in Africa, where Muhammad would fight Foreman. During Ali's
visits to Rahway State Prison in New Jersey, he and Rubin would discuss the best
ways to prepare to box half way around the globe. Nights, Rubin would write to me
about his advice to Ali. And while most "experts" knew that Ali stood no chance against
George, Carter believed Ali would upset his powerful opponent.

In the mid-1970s, I thought that there had been a fairly wide-spread effort to falsely convict
Carter for the 1966 triple murder. Plenty of the officials involved in the investigation of
the brutal crime, and the prosecution of Carter and Artis, would get significant career
promotions following their convictions. This included prosecutors in other counties,
who dropped charges against the two career criminals who would testify against Rube.
Later, I came to recognize that it only takes two investigators, to plant some "evidence"
here, and hide real evidence there, to gain a knowingly false conviction. Most of the
other authorities simply believed those investigators, and dismissed anything and
everything Rubin, John, and black witnesses had to say.

I'm proud that I was able to play a role in gaining access to state and federal law
enforcement files on the case. During the 1967 trial, the police believed that a group
of radical black nationalists were planning a violent attack to "free" Rubin from the
courtroom, and to hide him on the underground. Stool pigeons will tell the police any
lie they think the police want to hear. In fact, there was not a shred of real evidence to
support that tall tale. Looking back today, its only value is that it illustrates the huge
amount of fear and anxiety that clouded some folks' minds.

While Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a unique person, the wrongful convictions were
not uncommon. This is not because of massive, widespread conspiracies; again, it
only requires the misdeeds of one or two individuals to poison the legal process. While
living in Canada, Rubin would work with an organization -- which coordinated efforts
with a university's law program -- to seek justice for wrongly convicted inmates held
in prison cells around the world. Rubin was also opposed to capital punishment in
any case. He was fully aware that the prosecutor in 1967 sought to put him in the
electric chair.

From time to time, I would call Rubin to request that he consider a local case, or one
I had learned about in the media. Each time, he would say that if I thought it was
important enough to call on, he knew it was important enough for him to examine. In one
area case, one of his associates helped to get a teenager's life sentence overturned.
That fellow has not had a single legal problem in the 15 years since leaving prison.

In the past few days, I've heard from old friends from high school and college, where
I had introduced classes to Rubin's case. Even 40 years later, my high school
classmates remember how we communicated with Rubin through letters and
cassette tapes.A couple years back, I was invited to speak to a class at that same
high school about the case. When I told Rubin, he provided me with a personal
message to deliver to the students.

Rubin was an extraordinary man. Like all human beings, he was a combination of
qualities. He was well aware of his faults, and worked very hard -- and he had an
intense sense of self-discipline -- to overcome them. When he spoke at SUNY-
Binghamton in April of 2001, a professor from the school was impressed; she
contacted me afterwards. She was writing a book on forgiveness, and asked me
to see if Rubin would contribute a chapter. Rubin was happy to do so, and in one
short chapter, he documented the Power of Forgiveness.

At the end of the SUNY-B presentation, Rubin played with my little daughters. My
wife asked me if I had noticed Rubin flinch when he first saw them? And how old was
his daughter when Rubin was incarcerated? She was about their age. Twenty years
of incarceration takes a toll on a man. He suffered the effects every day. Yet he rose
above the physical and mental scars.

All four of my children met and knew Rubin Carter. Over the years, he would always
ask me about how each one was doing, and where they were in life? He was also
interested in how members of my extended family were. And he would also ask me
about various members of my high school class, who he said had "sent rays of sun-
shine into (his) darkand dreary cell."

On Sunday, each of my children posted on "Face Book" about the loss of a great
man. My younger son recalled how proud he was when Rubin singled his father out
when he spoke at Colgate University. I'm glad that I have had the opportunity to
introduce my kids to Rubin.

As older men, Rubin and I talked about flower gardening. That hobby had become a
passion for both of us. More, "tending his garden" was Rubin's description of living
his life. He noted that my children were my "most beautiful flowers." I liked that.

Rubin's favorite topic of discussion was the ultimate meaning of life. He would
seek the answer in manners that too few consider. I remember that he went to the
lands of the Lakota, in the Black Hills. There, he took part in the sacred Sun Dance
ceremony. A medicine man named Rubin "Badger Star," and presented him with
a headdress that belonged to the great Chief Red Cloud.

This coming weekend, a number of old friends will be traveling to my home, to
participate in a ceremony to celebrate Rubin's life. I'm honored to have known him
as a Good Friend and Brother for all of these years.

April 19, 2014

RIP Houston

A couple of days ago, I posted an appeal for DUers to support the Onondaga Nation. The overall response was very encouraging. This is consistant with similar requests that I have made, over the decade-plus that I've participated on this forum. I always appreciate that.

I think that any time something important is posted, there will be at least one or two responses from people who are not here because they advocate liberal or progressive agendas. They are insignificant, and not worth responding to. One could have as meaningful conversation with a house fly stuck in the glue of a fly strip.

More important, there were some responses from people who have sincere questions about the issues involved with the Onondaga. For example: isn't this issue from a couple centuries ago? And, if so, why is it important today?

It is actually about as old as the Constitution of the United States. Now, that's not a coincidence; in fact, the issues involved have to do with violations of the Constitution. And we should always be concerned when the very document that gives America promise is compromised by greed and theft.

That legal issues involving the Constitution are involved in what are known as "land claims" cases was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974, and again a decade later. These were the first two of three cases involving the Oneida Nation -- the younger sibling of the Onondaga within the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. More, the Onondaga are known and respected outside of the United States, including at the United Nations.

I would dare to venture that there are reasons why the powers-that-be inside the USA would prefer that our people remain uninformed about the Iroquois, and to consider these issues to be ancient history. Indeed, most Americans probably know less about the Iroquois than they do about the Constitution -- and that's saying a lot.

Back around the time of the first USSC decision per the Oneida, Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons spoke in Binghamton, NY. He told the audience that, in time, the government would do to US citizens the same times of things it has done to Native Americans for centuries. In that region today, energy corporations -- persons, don't you know -- are preparing the "Constitution Pipeline," to export gas to foreign lands. It is obscene that this proposed pipeline -- which would take all of the landowners' rights from them, to benefit private business -- intentionally mocks the Constitution.

The hydrofracking operations in Pennsylvania, where the pipeline begins, have more "rights" than those people who have had their land, air, and water severely polluted by the energy industries. Of course, that's not an entirely brand-spanking new experience for some populations in the United States. Indeed, if one looked at a map of Onondaga territory pre-1492, and considered the number of toxic industrial waste dump sites found there today, quite a few people have been victimized by industries.

Those unfamiliar with the Onondagas' case are at risk of believing the Onondaga only recently began the struggle to reclaim what was once their territory, and that they literally seek to recover the entire amount of land stolen from them. Such errors in perception depend upon being either uninformed or misinformed about both history, and more current events. For example, one DUer noted that the US defeated the Onondaga in a war, and hence took their land. In fact, the USA and Onondaga have never been at war with one another, and it was not the USA that stole the lands in question. Such errors in thinking can keep good and sincere people from understanding both what is at stake, and why it is important.

Likewise, the idea that the goal of the Onondaga is to recover the huge territory, through the center of the state, is incorrect. Certainly, in a legal case, one documents exactly what was stolen from you. There is a process. But that doesn't translate into what you either hope or expect to recover. (Years ago, when Chief Paul Waterman and I were on a speaking tour, people would ask, "Are you after our homes?" Paul would ask, "How many bathrooms in your's?" One person actually answered, "Two." But Paul was trying to reassure these good people that Onondaga was not their enemy.)

As I've noted previously on this forum, a primary goal is for Onondaga to get both the state and federal government to enforce environmental protection laws on this land. This includes forcing industries to clean up their messes, to the fullest extent that current technology allows. More, this needs to be on the responsible party's dime -- not the tax-payers. This goal does not target the loss of a single inch of soil from any home-owner. None. Zero. In fact, just the opposite: it improves the property (and value).

Any land compensation would involve state land, and thus not impact New York's tax base. That land would be used not only for the Onondaga, but for progressive, green energy programs that benefit everyone.

One of the more pathetic replies to my previous OP rambled on about cheap cigarettes, etc. Besides incorrectly identifying where the Nation is located, its author displayed equal ignorance concerning Onondaga's methods and goals. A good way of illustrating this might be found in the manner in which NYS sought, in the 1990s, to resolve some of the land claims. At the time, casino interests wanted to locate a center for gambling in the cntral upstate area. As Onondaga is located near Syracuse, this was their first choice.

The Council of Chiefs was willing to investigate their options. After Chief Irving Powless, Jr., went to a casino, I remember him reporting that he saw people who were poor and desperate gambling. The Onondaga were not interested in taking the quarters of people who really could not afford to spare a quarter.

In closing, I'd like to say that in supporting Onondaga, non-Indian people with open minds actually can learn ways of organizing, to better help themselves in the struggle to protect things like the environment and their Constitutional rights. You can't put a price tag on that. More, you can witness how the last traditional Native American government in North America works. It is refreshing to see people in leadership roles, who recognize their duty to serve the people. It's the same form of government that impressed several of this country's Founding Fathers, in their effort to create a more perfect union.

H2O Man
April 17, 2014

Please Support the Onondaga Nation!

I would like to ask DUers to join in this effort to assist the Onondaga Nation. As many of you know, the Onondaga are the Fire Keepers for the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy). The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign is closely allied with Onondaga, and I both trust them and endorse their efforts.

(If possible, please give this OP a "k&r," in order for others to see it. Thank you!)

Here is a link:

Support Onondaga Nation’s quest for Justice
Posted on April 16, 2014 by Mager
The Onondaga Nation’s quest for Justice took another step forward yesterday!

Two busses carried Onondagas, other Haudenosaunee people and a couple of non-native allies to Washington, DC yesterday. We traveled to show our support for the petition filed by the Onondaga Nation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (part of the Organization of American States).

A well-attended news conference was held at the Washington Quaker Meeting House and then we went to the White House (though President Obama wasn’t there to welcome us). The Onondaga leaders brought with them the original wampum belt, commissioned by President George Washington, to mark the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. The Onondaga continue calling on the US government to honor the Covenant Chain of Treaties. President Obama specifically referred to this when speaking to native leaders last fall. Unfortunately, he is taking no action to honor the commitments, at least not yet. .......

Please join Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation in support of the Onondaga Nation as they bring their Land Rights Action to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (part of Organization of American States) as the next step in their quest for justice. They will present their petition in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 15.

We will gather at Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, where Onondaga Creek begins its final flow into Onondaga Lake. We will hear about the filing and offer our appreciations. If weather permits, those who wish to will walk to the Lake (about a mile). For more information, contact Carol at carol@peacecouncil.net or 315.472.5478

April 16, 2014

Now (long)

“But now, our day is come; we have been born out of the eternal silence; and now we live -- live for ourselves -- not as the pallbearers of a funeral, but as the upholders and creators of our age …. A false humility, a complaisance to reigning schools, or to the wisdom of antiquity, must not defraud me of the supreme possession of this hour.”
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson; The American Scholar

Senator Robert Kennedy was influenced by his understanding of Emerson: the above quote, for example, impacted RFK’s vision for liberating the down-trodden in this nation, and fueled his decision to run for the presidency in 1968. It strikes me as worthy of our attention, because it demands that we all become active participants in the world around us.

I am currently sitting out at my pond. The weather has begun to change, and today is sunny and close to 70 degrees. I’ve fed the fish and filled the bird-feeders. Kelly, the very essence of all that makes dogs outstanding companion, had been sitting in the swing beside me. Now, he’s stretched out on the warm cap stones on the retaining wall. He enjoys watching the fish as they consume the food that floats on the pond’s surface.

Most books about Robert Kennedy provide biographical information; Michael Knox Beran’s is more of an analysis, than history. (St. Martin’s Press; 1998) While not as good a work as many of the books by those who worked with Kennedy -- which admittedly do not attempt as objective an analysis of RFK’s life -- it is an important read.

Beran, an attorney by trade, presents both an opening and closing argument that what RFK envisioned was not what republicans insultingly refer to as “the welfare state,” but an American version of liberation theology. This requires what Emerson called “self-trust.”

Beran’s insights have some limitations. True liberation theology, of course, recognizes that a lack of self-trust is part of the human condition. Social factors can increase the levels of a lack of self-confidence in large numbers of people, and trap them in lives of desperation. Beran views it as not having “existed, on a large scale, before the eighteenth century.” (page 109)

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The local family-owned business where I usually purchase bird food was not open. Instead, I got a plastic container of 4.5 lbs of “Premium Cockatiel Food” from a grocery-chain store, to hold me over until I get back to civilization. Within a few minutes of my filling the feeders, numerous chickadees are there. They seem okay with the change, to my utter relief. I had suffered from a three-minute mental image from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” until that point.

The lack of self-trust isn’t limited to our perception of large issues. It builds a foundation from the little things that we question. When things in our lives aren’t going great, we are more prone to being handcuffed by those little issues.

The chickadees grab seeds from the feeders, fly away, and return for more. Within a half-an-hour’s time, lots of other birds are at the feeders, too. They all fly back-and-forth, as the factory-bird food is being returned to nature. I still prefer to buy the black oil sunflower seeds that farmers in this region grow. At least now I have a nice container to carry them out to the pond in.

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The lack of self-confidence has created several large industries in American culture. The social Darwinists -- primarily republicans -- incorrectly believe that social programs, or that “welfare state” they despise, is both rooted in and perpetuated by “coddling” poor folks. Paul Ryan recently attempted to feign compassion and insight, by delivering his version of an RFK-style examination impoverished neighborhoods. The difference between an RFK or Malcolm X discussing poverty programs, and Ryan spouting his poison, is the same as between sugar and shit.

In fact, our culture coddles the very wealthy, including industries. The gas industry was given exemptions from some of the federal laws intended to protect the environment. Little children having access to Head Start pose remarkably less threat to our national well-being, than energy industries being given full access to public lands. But Ryan is less likely to address corporate welfare, than Kelly is to stop barking, and begin speaking English.

If we are to become a humane society, which must include social justice, that can only be brought about by citizens. It won’t come by way of a federal law or regulation, for the unjust in Washington, DC, currently are fully confident of their ability to grant themselves exemptions, or to pay tiny fines that do not impact their profit margins in any meaningful ways. The Paul Ryanites are unwilling to deliver serious “jobs programs” for the rapidly disappearing middle class communities and neighborhoods in America; how in the heck could those populating the low-income neighborhoods hope to find employment in 2014?

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Emerson’s “self-trust” is similar to the concept of “locus of control,” which is important in terms of the “health psychology” of the individual. An individual with an internal locus of control believes that they are able to make decisions, and take actions, that will have the major influences upon the quality of their lives. Those with an external locus of control believe themselves to be largely the victims of circumstances beyond their control. Of course, most people fall somewhere in between these two poles: none of us have the ability to control any one or any thing beyond ourselves, yet we have the ability to both anticipate and respond to life as it unfolds.

That segment of society un-affectionately known as the “1%” sees a storm brewing on the horizon. Hence, they seek to accumulate massive wealth, and total control of the earth’s resources. To accomplish this, they must nurture a growing sense of life growing out of control among the 99%. This is a massive external locus of control program. This is not to imply the 1% has control over everything: for mankind’s technological advances far exceed their current level of ethical/spiritual being, and we are far out of balance with that force known as Mother Nature. This serves to fuel the greedy attempts of the 1% to possess wealth, and to create the quiet desperation and despair that now defines American culture.

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A thousand minnows move about the pond’s surface as the sun begins to set. They remind me of the large flocks of starlings that soar through the sky in the early fall season. There appear to be numerous small groups swimming in individual patterns and directions; yet somehow, without “leaders” or “rules,” the many groups act as one.

I remember when, two decades ago, a gentleman from the organization “Trout Unlimited” contacted me. He requested that Chief Paul Waterman and I get the Onondaga Council of Chiefs to endorse one of their proposals to protect the Upper Delaware River. When I spoke to Paul about this, he said, “Always remember to serve as ‘Minnows Unlimited.’ If we take care of the tiny, the big will take care of themselves.”

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Parents have five lessons to teach their little ones, by the age of five. The first is “you are loveable.” The infant transitions from the security of the womb, to mother’s arms, which provide the security needed to continue to grow. Second, “you are likeable.” I enjoy spending time with you. Third, “you are worthwhile.” The time I spend with you is not only a pleasure, it is an investment in you as an individual being. Next, “you are capable.” You can do many things. And then comes, “you are responsible.” I trust you as a person.

That child that has these lessons instilled by age five has a good chance of being successful in life. Now, that does not mean he or she will not ever tell a lie, or steal. It doesn’t suggest their teenaged years will bring nothing less than pure joy for mom and pops. Of course not. But it does provide a foundation, upon which they can build that sense of self-trust needed to reach their potential.

On the flip side, not all parents can teach these five simple-sounding lessons. Indeed, one cannot teach what one does not understand. More, this is not dependent on economic status: while the wealthy enjoy a wider range of options for education and employment than either the middle- or lower-economic classes, they have equally high rates of producing adults without a healthy sense of self-trust.

Even that person who was raised in a nourishing environment will have periods of self-doubt. That is certain, due to the organic structure of our brains’ hard-wiring. Millions of years of evolution insure that reality, and no pill from the pharmacy will create a worry-free, yet fully conscious human being. Yet with the right foundation, people can work through those periods of self-doubt. Not only that, but those who did not get all the proper building blocks by the age of five have not been sentenced to an unfulfilled life. As individuals, we can rise above the circumstances that hold us down, and limit our potential.

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A bald eagle is floating low, apparently following the creek. Two other birds -- they look like crows -- are attempting to force it away. It is likely going to the source of the creek, a small lake about four miles north. I’ve also seen eagles near the man-made pond, situated on a small, rural golf course, about a mile away. There is something amazing about watching an eagle.

Years ago, when I did social work in Delaware County, I saw eagles frequently. One evening, as people were heading to the parking lot, one landed on a near-by telephone pole. A casual friend from another agency and I stayed and watched it, well after everyone else had left. At the time, he incorrectly associated me with “new age” theology. So, when he asked me what “power” I associated with that beautiful bird, I said the power of bald eagles. He asked if I felt there was a “message” to its being there? I said yes, definitely: it communicated the fact that the river provided substance for bald eagles. No magic, no hocus-pocus.

We began having lunch at the picnic tables behind our office building. My friend and a couple of others knew that rather than talking with “troubled teens” in my office, I preferred to do things like restoring pioneer cemeteries or going “arrowhead hunting.” The youngsters tended to talk more openly while we engaged in such activities. My friend asked if there were any local sites, where he might find an artifact?

I pointed to a high mountain on the opposite side of the river. I said that I thought there might well be a site high up on the mountain. I said that in an era where social norms were breaking down, such as that around the time of the historical figure Hiawatha, people often had camps at high places such as that. For some time, we talked about trying to find it. Then one day, we drove over the closest bridge, circled back, and followed an old dirt road to its dead end.

An elderly farmer was working in his garden. We introduced ourselves, and explained why we were there. He told us that he had uncovered such a site in 1963, while clearing brush to expand a pasture. He showed us where it was, and allowed us to excavate as much of the site as we wanted. I had a friend who teaches archaeology at a local university come and assist us.

Both the kids I worked with, and a handful of social workers, enjoyed that summer. The university did flotation tests on the soil from fire-pits, documenting what the people there around 800 ad were eating. We would bring along food for picnics, and spend weekend days at the site. Whenever a bald eagle flew by, I’d ask my friend what he thought it meant? “That the river supports eagles,” he would say.
So long as we respect it, the land and air and water around here will support human life, too. That’s power. Real power, not the type that Paul Ryan seeks. Yet, if his ilk are allowed to destroy the environment, including by hydro racking, that abuse of power will have harsh consequences.

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I listen to the song of the tiny frogs known as “peepers” before coming indoors. My daughter tells me that a friend had called, and asked that I call back. She is a nurse who lives in a nearby town, who has become active in community affairs since her youngest child graduated. From time to time, she calls me to ask for my opinion on how she and a few others can best deal with the “1%” in her town.

After listening, I tell her that she and her friends are doing things right. To keep moving in the direction they are currently moving in. She says that they still like to run things by me, because I am “the strongest person we know.” I am also the weakest person they know, I said, though I appreciated her compliment.

We are indeed at a strange and dangerous point in history. It’s good to study history, and to speculate on the future. But we have to deal with the realities of now. That demands that, as individuals, we step up our actions to bring about social justice. That requires the developing of a higher level of self-trust.

A few people that I have the pleasure of knowing are being called upon to take on leadership roles. These include the public school teacher that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, and the nurse I spoke of here. Both were somewhat aware of that before; for whatever reason, my pointing it out to them seems to have confirmed it for them. It’s not the past or future that are calling on them. It’s now.

And it’s your time, too.

April 6, 2014


If I have a problem, I prefer to think about it while outside. Since I live in a rural area, and consider myself fortunate: I've been able to spend a lot of time walking paths in the woods, visiting a beautiful waterfalls, and sitting out near my pond. Some of that time, I'm by myself; other times, one or more of my dogs accompany me.

I know that many people prefer urban life, which is understandable. People have differences. And many individuals tend to deal with problems differently in their youth, than in their older ages. Some prefer group settings, and others solitude. That's a good thing.

As I walked along a snow-covered path near the creek last week, I was thankful for that opportunity. I have walked that path since long before I bought my house; next month will mark my owning this house longer than anyone else, since it was built in the 1790s. When I bought the place, a neighbor ("Old Fred&quot who lived here in the 1950s would walk that same path with me, and we would talk about local history.

It was twenty years ago that an area newspaper reporter ask me for something to use in her article about religion. I talked to Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman, and he okayed me sharing a poem with the reporter. It's a song, actually, from the Mid-Winter ceremonies. The lyrics speak of snow melting, and tiny streams flowing down the hills, and how that water is medicine.

I can hear the water running under the icy patches along the creek. The creek itself is covered with ice -- including a build-up of large sheets of ice collected below the waterfalls. The sound of a smaller stream meeting the larger creek -- all under ice -- makes beautiful music. Such music is soothing and healing. Medicine for this old man's ears.

I'm reminded that long, long ago, a teenager named Daniel Dickinson worked here, at a "cloth-and-carding factory" at the falls. My 8-year old son found a mill stone there, several inches beneath the soil, the year we moved there. Today, I'm looking for another type of stone: those which withstand the heat of fire, without shattering.

I'm an old man, and I don't know how many more springs I will have the opportunity to walk this lovely path. So I concentrate on enjoying every second of it. I greet the blue jays that sound their warning: "Human alert! Human alert!" And I find the delta, where the stream enters the creek. It is bare of ice, much like in the summer, these "lack-a-wannas" (where two streams meet) will be clear of fog. There is gravel and piles of cobble stones showing. I carry out a number of cobbles, and notice a large sandstone rock -- bigger than a volleyball -- near where a tree was uprooted.

Over the past few days, I've collected all the stones I need. I've also moved enough firewood out to the fire pit near my pond in the past three weeks. I had asked for some help from the young folks who wanted to participate in ceremony. But young folk are always busy, and so it ended up just me doing all the preparation.

There are no coincidences: either everything has meaning, or everything is meanless, despite the values our culture assigns. I value my time alone. I realize that, as I consider my many problems, I alone am responsible for all of my choices -- and the actions that result from those choices. Loneliness, on the other hand, is the dark side of being alone. Both sides weigh heavily.

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I made the platform and fire from oak, cherry, hemlock, blue spruce, locus, white pine, and hickory. The stones include sandstone, flint, and granite.

The pond is covered with ice. There are small gaps, where the mountain streams flow into the pond. When I move away from the fire, I can hear springs gurgling over.

I fill the bird-feeders my daughters have hung for me, and watch as the chickadees feast. Other small song birds begin to visit the familiar feeders. Chief Waterman instructed me to listen carefully to the tunes of the smallest song birds.

Soon, two friends come from opposite directions. Their work-day is over, and they are happy it is now the weekend. The first brings three gallons of water, one for each of us during ceremony. I've brought 16 gallons of water to pour during ceremony. Although it is chilly out, as the stones are brought into the lodge -- and sage is sprinkled on them -- the red-hot rocks begin to sing.

I am equally happy to conduct ceremony alone, or with others. I know the advantages that groups offer. Yet, as I consider one "problem," I realize that the answer can alone be identified by me, alone. After I reach that answer, I may bring it to other groups of people. But there is no other human being that can influence my final decision. That is up to me to decide.

The ceremony goes well. It is very hot, but not too hot, inside. The third person, here for the first time, volunteers to bring the rocks in for the two last rounds. This is good, because old men like me can grow tired. That's a young man's job.

I've known him less than a year. He is proud to be an atheist, who questions everything. He strikes me as very ethical, even spiritual. I was a little surprised he wanted to be here. Inside the lodge, I told him some things about his childhood that he had forgotten. I'm confident that, in the future, he will help me with stones and fire wood.

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Tom Libous is the most powerful republican in NYS politics. He has been in the state senate for a long time. The Koch brothers contribute generously to him. He is the lap dog of the local "energy" industry.

In 2010 and 2011, Libous worked with Governor Andrew Cuomo on a plan to make the Southern Tier a sacrifice area for the gas industry. Grass roots opposition put this plan in check. Libous was unwilling to meet with anyone from the pro-environment side, and so in 2012, I engaged in a "hunger strike" until Libous finally met me me.

In the time since then, Libous has been named as a politician seeking to use influence to secure employment for his son, in a federal "mob" trial in NYC. Later, it was reported that Libous lied in telling the state that neither he nor his wife had any financial interest in hydrofracking. In reality, both Senator and Mrs. Libous have significant investments in fracking.

I'm thinking about this, as I walk out to my pond. It's much warmer today; almost 60 degrees, and sunny. I fill the bird-feeders, and within minutes, the chickadees are there. The ice has melted off half of the pond. A million minnows and a number of Koi come to where I've tossed in fish food. There is but one dead fish, exposed by the ice melt. My dog Kelly, who loves the pond, sniffs the dead fish out quickly.

Kelly wades into the water, snatches the fish, and carries it to shore. He acts as if that fish were alive: tossing it with a twist of his head, pouncing upon it, and pawing it with a series of rapid jabs. He is a white dog, with blue spots, and it appears like he is dancing with the dead fish. I'm laughing out loud, and his tail begins wagging faster and faster.

The Koi in the still-cold water are moving in low gear. It appears to be slow-motion. After maybe half-an-hour's feeding, they swim faster. A few break the surface to grab food.

If Tom Libous is re-elected, the water from these tiny streams, creeks, ponds, and waterfalls will be destroyed by the poisons used in hydrofracking. The registered democrats in our region do not get to select who will run against him; each time, they pick someone who has patiently waited their turn to get destroyed by the republican machine.

A fairly wide range of people have asked me to run against Libous. Numerous democrats, members of the democratic left, and even some republicans have told me that they want me to run. The county chairpersons are less encouraging, noting their lack of influence in deciding on the candidate. In my opinion -- and I'm not alone -- the last fellow was channeling the spirit of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.

I'm a tired old man. I'm deemed 100% physically disabled. My physical health has seriously deteriorated since being deemed 100% disabled. I think that my mind is still relatively intact, although others might disagree.

If there was a better person to challenge Libous this year, I would be the very first to support her/him. Gladly. Fully.

But I do not see that person.

I walked in from my pond, and contacted the NYS Democratic Party HQ. I said that I want to be the candidate to challenge Libous. I have 40+ years of grass roots activism for the Democratic Party. I've ran numerous "local" elections in recent years, and have a winning record. I can get the votes of the party, the democratic left, and rational republicans.

I haven't heard back. So I wait, alone ..... but pretty soon, I may ask others to e-mail the Democratic HQ in Albany, to lobby for me.

Thank you,
H2O Man
April 2, 2014


"We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure." -- Cesar Chavez

A co-worker in grass roots social-political activism visited me tonight. She is a dedicated art teacher at an area high school; that school has gone from one of the best in central New York, and great place to work, to one where budget cuts and a new superintendent have taken a severe toll. The teachers union -- as well as those representing clerical staff and principals -- seem incapable of protecting the employees' rights. Fear has saturated the school environment, and the students are being denied the quality of education that they deserve.

I find “systems” fascinating. In social work, I tended to take a “family systems” approach. In social activism, I lean towards “community systems.” In things political, one must have a grasp of “bureaucratic systems.” Workplaces, especially in the corporate and/or government contexts, are also systems that have some general dynamics that employees and unions benefit from recognizing.

When a once healthy, well-functioning system rapidly transforms into an unhealthy, dysfunctional cluster, there tend to be a few variables at play. For example, if on a local level, republicans have taken control of political offices, and conservative economic cuts from the next higher level (state) are taking place, local government services will suffer. This includes everything from public health services to public education.

More, the synergism from multi-level conservative-republican entities creates an ethical vacuum, where “economic hit-persons” are hired to reduce staff and services offered. This can, by definition, not be accomplished with the intent of maintaining a positive work atmosphere – quite the opposite, it requires the planting of doubt, and the growth of anxiety and unhappiness among employees.

In order to atrophy any possible resistance to the new program, the new boss must create divisions among employees. In his 1973 classic, “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness,” Erich Fromm describes how a “boss” with sociopathic personality traits – seemingly required for economic hit-persons – will manipulate those who work for them. This generally includes promoting a weak person who, while having some knowledge of the system, can be counted upon to treat others cruelly. Such a person must be obedient to “rules,” and have an under-developed sense of ethics.

Together, the “boss” and their side-kick will seek to destroy morale in the workplace. They will, for example, threaten to institute new rules that make the workplace toxic, in response to “problems” that involve a single individual. They will attempt to get rid of any individuals who may challenge their authority. And they will eliminate positions in an arbitrary manner, to increase the doubts and discomforts of the rest of the workforce.

Lying is their language, and deceit their tongue. Such a boss lacks the moral capacity to admit even the smallest of mistakes – although they attempt to manipulate by “admitting” they were wrong to trust so-and-so. They have an uncanny ability to view themselves as the “victims” whenever they are challenged on their sick behaviors.

The goal is to destroy any and all sense of community inside of the system, and to reduce it to Durkheim’s apathetic, disorganized dust of individuals. These individuals are encouraged to “look out for number one,” and discouraged from attempting to unite with others to promote common interests. The individual may initially resist the changes being made by the new boss; next, they will attempt to avoid being damaged by the changes; then, they begin to accommodate the changes in the workplace; soon, they accept the “new reality”; and soon, they become part of the system that is robbing them, and all around them, of their humanity and self-respect.

Who can do battle with this beast? When one considers its true nature, the scope can seem overwhelming: for this system has spread like a virus throughout our culture. There are fewer and fewer uncontaminated segments in the United States today. Unchecked, as the US becomes part of a feudal estate on a global scale, where the 1% lives in gated communities while dictating how many crumbs will be divided up among the peasant class, it threatens to become entrenched, beyond repair.

Quality public education is the enemy of this beast, for its primary goal is to teach citizenship in a democratic state. Private schools for the offspring of the 1% will perpetuate the ruling class’s ability to capitalize on the mis-educated masses. Local levels of government will increasingly be under the thumbs of the Koch brothers and their ilk. Public services will be reduced to the point where they serve to dull the senses of the tax-payers, like prescription drugs that numb the pain of having their very being stolen from them.

We see the effects already. People complain, in order to let off steam; yet complaining alone accomplishes nothing in terms of correcting injustice. Sub-groups of depressed people will gather together on weekends, and seek temporary relief from the meaninglessness of their lives by distracting themselves with bright lights, loud music, and group intoxication. They do not recognize that this is part of that system that has stolen control of their lives. Indeed, it is much easier to control a merry group of drunken fools, than a single sober individual unwilling to accept the loss of self-respect.

Unconscious people can only serve as cogs in the machine. But a single conscious person can wake others up. That conscious individual can help others to understand that the hero and the coward both feel the same fear; that while the coward is consumed and thus destroyed by this fear, the hero uses it to fuel their struggle. And that the same amount of fuel, or energy, is required to become empowered, as is required to surrender one’s power to the system.

The roads to surrender and defeat are easy to locate. They are all around us. The paths to lives worth living seem harder to identify. Yet we have examples, which include individuals such as Gandhi, King, and Chavez. More, and equally important, we have the examples of the larger, often nameless groups of people who joined their struggles. In every case, we find that the “leader” (for lack of better description) recognized that in order to do more, they had to become more. This does not translate into these individuals becoming more of the same thing, by adding more of the same qualities they already have. Rather, it is becoming more by internal evolution, by transforming themselves.

By transforming themselves, they spark a transformation within that group around them. The group begins to wake up to a higher level of consciousness. While there is no “one size fits all” solution to the problems individual groups are confronted with, an awake and aware group will always be able to identify options that are available to them – options that they were not able to see in their previous level of being. Also, they find the confidence required to attempt to actualize these options. They develop the faith in their ability to exercise control over their own lives.

When people access this potential within themselves, they no longer expect “leaders” to do for them that which only they can do for themselves. They no longer project the ability to “save” or protect themselves on some external being or force; instead, they become part of, and one with, that force. They learn to trust in the process, because they are an influential part of it.

H2O Man

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