Cause and Effect

I held on to HOPE that day after the Towers fell, that someone might still be alive… and truly, the hands of Divinity reached out and delivered.

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https://nymag.com/nymetro/news/sept11/2003/n_9189/

The story of their survival is amazing. As we witnessed tragedy playing out before us, at such a pivotal moment in TIME… someone made it out ALIVE. I remember asking anyone with news if anyone else had made it out… there would be time for anger and Justice another day… the Human Need in that moment was like a mental anchor, keeping me from drifting too far downstream.

Is there anything I could be doing to help save a LIFE?

It was soon apparent, as emergency triage centers filled with doctors and nurses… there were no patients. There were no casualties. The destruction was total. We would soon be honoring memories.

(At 5:40 in the video) “The building collapsed to dust.” -Joe Casaliggi

Though we live one thousand miles away with no physical connection to any of those SOULS, every one of us here in the Great State of Kansas knew what we were witnessing. Every one of us knew what this meant. My girlfriend at the time… my ‘high school sweetheart’… was an MP in the United States Army. She shipped out shortly after 9/11. We knew the uncertainty that lie ahead, and we parted ways as good friends.

It’s been twenty years since I last saw her. She served, got married, started a family… as we all do. twenty years…

In that moment, our reactions were almost instinctual. We knew War had come. Whatever sacrifices were to be asked of us… whatever it was we could do to HONOR those families and ensure this could NEVER happen again… the fight was JUST. The objective was CLEAR.

And then we INVADED IRAQ.

Our President LIED to us about yellowcake uranium. Our Secretary of State LIED to the United Nations about Mobile Processing Sites. Our Secretary of Defense LIED about how we would be greeted by the Iraqi People… and all but a notable FEW of our Elected Officials SUPPORTED those lies. Knowingly.

EVIDENCE, gathered after the fact. The outing of an undercover Intelligence Officer. In order to cover up their LIES… and they thumbed their noses as they held their heads HIGH. Hypocrisy… on full display! And to think, some people even had the nerve to claim, that Our President knew about the attacks in advance

But that’s just crazy-talk right there.

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https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB116/pdb8-6-2001.pdf

“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”

Maybe that sentence would have had a greater IMPACT on someone like Al Gore, than it obviously did on George W. Bush.

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https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/exactly-12-years-later-msna75220

Conspiracy Theories exist. It does us no good to remain ignorant to their claims. The fanciful, the distraught, the horribly misinformed, the self-serving and the ideologically driven. All of them, sprinkled with verifiably provable facts. To bolster their position or add credibility to an obscure concept… one that often hides a racially charged or anti-Semitic agenda at its core.

Every one of their ideas are easily deconstructed in the LIGHT. We don’t need Conspiracy Theories to understand what truly happened that day. We have FACTS. We know WHY this happened.

The intelligence was there. The lights were all FLASHING RED… critical pieces weren’t passed up the chain. Oversight was lax…

HUMAN ERROR 

That’s what allowed this to happen. In essence… it was an inside job.

In those early months of a new Administration, with their transition period stunted by prolonged legal challenges. Was there something that they missed… was there something MORE they could have done to prevent this from happening in the first place?

We may never know… they were too busy figuring out how to INVADE IRAQ.

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https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/leadup-iraq-war-timeline/

Go find me a way to do this.”

-POTUS, January 2001.


And even upon this Hallowed Day,
still

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We all know what the problem is. An unpopular President elevated with only a MINORITY of support. Faced with a LIFE-THREATENING crisis, the Administration was too pre-occupied with their own agendas to be prepared in advance… and the American People are stuck holding the the check when the balance comes due.

Some things NEVER CHANGE… and that’s precisely what needs to change.

It doesn’t matter how many countries we invade. How many TRILLIONS of dollars we spend on securing the Homeland. If we do not address the cause of this problem… it will happen again. No matter how healthy the chicken is, if it doesn’t have its HEAD screwed on correctly, it’s only a matter of TIME.

We’ve spent the last twenty years trying to build something beautiful out of the ruins that were made. For our security, as well as theirs. We believed it could be done. We were told it could be done… it seems, in this we’ve found COMMON GROUND with the People of Afghanistan:

Elected Officials take positions that stand opposed to the Will of The People, because of the influence that MONEY has on their decision making processes.

We did everything we could possibly think of so it would never happen again, but we never addressed the UNDERLYING CAUSE of our problem. Twice now, in less than twenty years… 

We must fulfill our promise and ensure it can never happen again.

-JC

For Which it Stands

I had the honor of touring the traveling Auschwitz Museum exhibition here in Kansas City, before it departs for Europe later this year; and I must say… it left an impression on me. While I expected to see dramatic artifacts, I didn’t expect the impact… the historical CONTEXT provided with the pieces on display.


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I am thankful I have no idea what it was like, and my children as well. For the last 76 years we’ve enjoyed PEACE. Intermittent peace, granted… but it has been long sustained. Because we’ve worked toward expanding the concept of Equal Justice Under Law and not contracting it. Because they TOLD us what it was like, with the hope that it would NEVER happen again. 

History repeats itself. Temporal echoes abound. What once was a TREND will come back in-style once again. And I was taught that the only way THIS does not happen again is by SPEAKING OUT. No one can remain SILENT, because in the end… the mob comes for us ALL

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_… 

 

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That’s how it begins- SILENCE. 

 

It doesn’t matter who you are or what your political affiliation is, when you defend the rights of OTHERS you defend those rights for YOURSELF. And when you STAND UP and SPEAK OUT, the MAJORITY stands with you. 

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Let’s assume for a moment that the “Stop the Steal” crowd was wrong, and that there was no wide-spread voter fraud in 2020. A bit of a stretch for some people I know, but… 

They have envisioned a scenario that could one day play out in our elections. A wide-spread, mass-effort to swing the count in a particular county, within a particular demographic; changing the outcome in a large enough city… thereby changing the outcome of an entire State. 

Could our current election process withstand a coordinated effort on that scale? If someone with deep enough POCKETS wanted to find out, could we stop them… would we even know before it was TOO LATE? 

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https://twitter.com/mrjlcharbonneau/status/1147997914679189504?s=21 

 

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Once upon a time our Founders wrestled with this problem, and they believed they had an answer. It required that we ALL swear an oath to an IDEAL. 

 

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We must RISE UP and defend the Will of the MAJORITY, no matter where we STAND. Our ideals transcend any political party, because the heart of our Democracy lies within that Universal Truth… that we are ALL created EQUAL. 

We must celebrate our history! No matter how RAW, no matter how painful. We must remember who we are, and for what it is we continue to STAND. Our shared collective knowledge, our Common Cause has given us the answers we seek. 

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We know what becomes of the nation who strays from the TRUTH. This Nation has stood strong against those endeavors for over 200 years… and for the last 158 years, we’ve worked to avoid succumbing to that fate ourselves

 

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In this moment we cannot afford to mince words. We must be CLEAR and we must be precise. We have seen this all before… all we have to do now is LISTEN to what they are saying. 

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“One officer told me he had never, in his entire 40 years of life, been called a ‘nigger’ to his face… and that streak ended on January 6th.” -Officer Harry Dunn


“Evil didn’t win. Hate didn’t win, and bigotry didn’t win.” -Michael Bornstein, the only child liberated from Auschwitz.

… but apparently CENSORSHIP did.🚨

 

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Selective censorship of the TRUTH unfairly empowers ONE over ANOTHER. We must remember… what we are allowed to SEE pales in comparison to what is KNOWN. 

 

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https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/change-academy/2012/04/30/change-and-the-knowledge-iceberg/# 

 

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As we make our decisions about who’s TRUTH we will believe, we must remember… there are ‘extenuating circumstances’ being elevated by monied interests, who stand to profit off of our confusion and disunity. LEFT or RIGHT. RED or BLUE… we all know what the problem is.💰 

 

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https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/31/trump-political-groups-82-million-501958 

 

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https://twitter.com/mrjlcharbonneau/status/1146176947598372864?s=21 

 

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Let there be NO DOUBT. 

We must SPEAK OUT every time we see it. 

To be SILENT is to be COMPLICIT. 

 

Of those nations who have fallen from Grace and survived to thrive once again… INACTION was their deepest regret. A reminder, passed down to their descendants as an inheritance. Enshrined and memorialized, so their children would never forget. 

 

We must never forget. 

 

TWO ELECTION CYCLES… that’s all it takes. 

 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1936_German_parliamentary_election_and_referendum 

 

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“I ask myself again and again, what would have happened, if in the year 1933 or 1934—there must have been a possibility—14,000 Protestant pastors and all Protestant communities in Germany had defended the truth until their deaths?” 

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As I walked through the exhibit at Union Station and followed along through all of the important DATES that led up to these events… 1914, 1918, 1920, 1922… in my mind, I couldn’t help but replace the nineteen with a twenty. It’s striking… the loss of LIFE, the global pandemic, the scapegoating and the blame. 

But their numbers KEEP GOING… 1923, 1924, 1929… Their HISTORY has been set.

 

Ours has not. 

 

If we are not vigilant, this too will be OUR history. Now is the time of their regret. We’ve witnessed the exponential speed at which a VIRUS can spread. Now is the opportunity that they never had… because their story had not yet been written. 

 

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What will we leave behind for our children? What relics will they sort through after we’ve gone… what monuments will they have to create. 

We are never that far away from walking down that path again… no matter how much TIME has passed. 

-JC 

 

An Imperfect Union

Are we too afraid to peel back the skin, to see what lies beneath? Are we worried we might find something that gives us PAUSE… causing us to question the entire experiment? Who among us has any doubt in the Infinite Potential of the American Experiment?

Let them SPEAK NOW… let there be NO DOUBT! In an open and honest debate, the best ideas always rise to the TOP. We must always strive to be better, to learn from our mistakes.

Our story is born of REBELLION. Against oppression. Against monarchical tendencies. Born of a desire to be FREE, believing we are ALL created equal… is that still what we believe? Yes, the question of who that statement includes has changed throughout the years, but it has always been at the direction of The People, and it has always bent toward INCLUSION. Simple precedent shows us where we should be heading…

More participation equals Better Governance. 

 

It’s the very reason we are here today! No taxation without representation. Liberty over tyranny. Bow before a KING and be subject to His indiscretions. 

We teach these lessons to our children with the hope that they will prevent them from happening again in the FUTURE. The events that led us to Revolution, the acts of a Tyrant King… and the INACTION of our Congress, that changed the course of our history. 

 

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With context, we gain insight. With knowledge, we see where we went wrong. With humility we can UNDERSTAND, we can see through our own eyes, the experiences of another… if we choose to. If we are strong enough, to embrace the TRUTH carried by another human being and challenge our assumptions… to know if it could happen to ONE of us, then it could happen to us ALL. 

 

No cruel and unusual punishment… yet we imprison detainees indefinitely in a foreign land. All men are created equal… disregarding the rights of HALF of the citizens of this Nation. With Liberty and Justice for ALL… except those we’ve deemed to be only worthy of THREE-FIFTHS

This Nation was founded as an Imperfect Union by imperfect men, bearing the scars of oppression and inhumanity carried out upon them. But there’s was just another step in a natural progression inspired centuries before them. An Age of Enlightenment and Renaissance brought KNOWLEDGE to the masses, opening minds and challenging established dogmas. 

Three centuries of accumulated knowledge led humanity to a point where we could truly question what it means to be FREE. A vision of PERFECTION is what they created… subject to the interpretation of imperfect beings. 

 

Our past may define us, but it should never condemn us to who it is we will BE. 

 

-JC

We need to Talk

To be honest, it’s a conversation I know nothing about… how could I? I am a white man. I don’t know what it’s like, nor will I ever. I’ve never feared Law Enforcement Officers… well, only when I knew I was in the wrong. But even then I never feared for my life. I was taught to follow the Law and respect those who enforce it. It’s their job to ‘Protect and Serve’ us… The People.

That’s not the same story for every American. 

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https://slate.com/human-interest/2020/06/white-parents-the-talk-racism-police-brutality.html 

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Here in Kansas City, KS… I’m in the MINORITY.


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It’s not quite as stark as if I were living in The Bahamas, but it is quite obvious. And it becomes even more pronounced when I drive to one of the outlying suburbs, where there are no POC at the shopping centers… where there’s not a pawn shop on every other corner… where there are fresh veggies and sidewalks. 

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https://www.npr.org/2017/05/03/526655831/a-forgotten-history-of-how-the-u-s-government-segregated-america 

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https://www.usinsourcing.com/kc-food-deserts-a-sign-of-economic-decline/ 

If you’ve ever lived in a part of town where the National Pizza Chains won’t deliver to your neighborhood… you’ve been the victim of racism. 

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About a month into the quarantine for COVID-19, our refrigerator stopped keeping things cold. It might have been something as simple as cleaning the coils or replacing an internal component, but I’ll never know. No service repair shop would send a technician into Wyandotte County. If I had lived somewhere else though, they were more than happy to help. But here… not so much. 

Instead of a $300 repair bill, we had to buy a brand new refrigerator… all because of a preconceived notion of the community in which I live. 

And where on the map was this ‘line’ drawn, between “Technicians are standing by” and “Sorry you’re outta luck”? I know from experience, the dividing line for a delivery area can end abruptly on ONE SIDE of the street, while the OTHER SIDE is deemed just too far away. 

Back in my day… we were told we should lock our doors when driving down a particular street or driving in a particular neighborhood. But turn a corner, and hook a left at the light… you’re suddenly in a neighborhood filled with fully restored 100 year old mansions. Literally, no less than THREE BLOCKS down the road. 

Who draws these lines? Who decides THIS neighborhood is ‘acceptable’ and THIS neighborhood is NOT… 

And what DATA are they basing those conclusions upon? 

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https://www.axios.com/army-officer-lawsuit-police-afro-latino-virginia-f5aceedf-6efe-4a8f-b4ca-8d8b9c297ea1.html 

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There are no clear lines drawn within our communities. What effects ONE will effect us ALL… because we live SIDE-BY-SIDE. In our schools. In our grocery stores. At work and at home. If the numbers are SKEWED… if the DATA we’re basing our conclusions upon is WRONG… it effects our Laws, our priorities… our very perception of what is “right” and what is “wrong”.

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Would it surprise anyone if we found a connecting thread that tied all these deadly encounters together? On the surface… sometimes these officers are white, sometimes they are black. There is no discrimination it seems, when it comes to the origin of the Use of Force… so what is it. 

 

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/02/14/a-day-with-killology-police-trainer-dave-grossman/ 

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Black men are taught from an early age to fear encounters with the police… as I would if I were the father of a black child. Therefore, they are fearful and paranoid when these encounters eventually happen.

It’s a natural, rational, completely understandable… and PREDICTABLE human response to a potentially life-threatening situation.


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Law Enforcement Officers are TRAINED to interpret those actions as a threat. ‘The subject is acting paranoid… they’re hiding something. They’re acting GUILTY.’ 

What FACTS would then flash through an officer’s head in that split-second decision making process… ALL SKEWED, by laws that are tainted with Racial Profiling and a Criminal Justice System that’s based on CASH. 

Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it’s involved in a crime? They can! It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order.

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“The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said it had ‘deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target Black people.’”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/daunte-wright-was-stopped-expired-plates-driving-while-black-may-n1263878  

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https://www.aclu.org/report/driving-while-black-racial-profiling-our-nations-highways 

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I’ve tried to teach my kids that they are privileged, and that it’s wrong… and it’s on us to do the work to make things right. We cannot simply STAND SILENT. Use your little white boy shield and SPEAK OUT… someone’s LIFE may depend on it! 

I know it’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a 15 year old boy… but right now? Until we take the necessary steps toward ensuring Law Enforcement Officers protect the rights of every citizen in every State, EQUALLY… that’s all we’ve GOT

That needs to change. 

JC 

For Those Without a Voice


Could you imagine? Questioning yourself, your actions… every decision that you’ve made. And at the end of the day, the only question that’s left…

Was there something MORE I could have done? 

 

 

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Was there something I could have said. Was there something I did that made that situation worse? Would this outcome have even happened if I hadn’t been involved. 

What more could have been done, that wouldn’t have raised the temperature of an already inflamed situation… why am I so damn tired, but still can’t fall asleep. 

 

How much of ourselves are we willing to put on the line for the sake of others… for our family… for a complete stranger? Ms. Frazier’s got it figured out. She may not know it yet, but she’s on the right path. It’s not about anything she did in that situation… it’s about what he did. It’s about what he didn’t do. 

 

Darnella did the only thing that could have been done to calm that situation, and not everyone would have been as STRONG… to hold UP that mirror, so he could SEE exactly what he was doing. She gave him every opportunity to change his ways. 

She chose to STAND UP and SPEAK OUT on George Floyd’s behalf before anyone else… may we ALL find the strength and courage to follow her lead. 

-JC