Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Living Life on Life's Terms. A Word Press Production.

Archive for January, 2017

Why Did This Happen in Canada?

 

lead_960

 

 

Geoff Dembicki – The Atlantic. Com

At around 7:50 pm on Sunday evening, police received several emergency calls from the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec, a mosque and cultural center in Quebec City. They arrived to a scene of carnage: Six Muslim men, including a halal butcher, a university professor, and a government worker, had been shot and killed by a gunman. Nineteen others were injured. Of the five who were sent to the hospital, four remain, two in critical condition. The attack, one of the worst acts of violence against Muslims in Canadian history, shocked a nation that prides itself on being a paragon of multicultural inclusion. “We are a country of diversity,” the Syrian Assembly of Manitoba’s Tarek Habash told the CBC. “For something like that to happen here, it’s very sad.”After police identified their prime suspect, a 27-year-old student at Laval University named Alexandre Bissonnette, a member of an online group that welcomes Syrian refugees to Quebec claimed to recognize him as a member of the far right. “[H]e made statements on our Facebook page. He acted like a troll. He attacked the rights of women.” Among Bissonnette’s “likes” on Facebook are Donald Trump and France’s far-right political leader Marine Le Pen.

In the aftermath of the attack, sympathy for the victims poured in from across the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin offered condolences, as did Donald Trump. Officials in Paris turned off the Eiffel Tower’s lights. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Muslims that Sunday’s “despicable act of terror” was an attack on the country’s cosmopolitanism. “We are with you,” Trudeau said. “Know that we value you, you enrich our shared country in immeasurable ways.”

But the mass shooting is a terrible reminder of another truth: a growing distrust toward Islam among Canadians, and a rise in far-right politicians eager to follow Donald Trump’s lead. Canada’s reputation as a safe, welcoming haven for refugees is no longer assured.

The anti-immigrant backlash that Trump and Le Pen represent in the United States and Europe has also been festering in Canada for years. In 2013, a survey conducted by the polling firm Angus Reid, suggested that 69 percent of people in the province of Quebec distrusted Islam. In the rest of Canada, it was 54 percent, up eight percentage points from 2009. “It’s disturbing to see this growing level of mistrust,” the firm’s Andrew Grenville said at the time.Some see the Quebec City attacks as a disturbing sign of things to come. “There is already a growing and documented climate of Islamophobia in Canada,” said National Council of Canadian Muslims executive director Ihsaan Gardee. “There are legitimate fears that Trump’s so-called Muslim ban and accompanying rhetoric will lead to more hate, and further acts of violence.”

In Canada, Islam broke into the political debate in a major way in 2015, when the Conservative administration of former prime minister Stephen Harper passed an intrusive surveillance law aimed at combating “jihadi terrorism.” In the weeks before that year’s federal election, he proposed creating a police hotline where people could report “barbaric cultural practices.” Though the proposal didn’t specifically mention Islam, University of Ottawa law professor Natasha Bakht and other critics argued that it was intended for “targeting Muslim communities.”

The introduction of these policies seemed to coincide with a wave of hate crimes against Muslims. The policies also appeared to boost Conservative popularity. “Harper’s attempts to win over voters by demonizing Muslims are working,” read an Al Jazeera op-ed. Trudeau’s Liberal Party, by contrast, based its campaign on a different vision of Canada, one that made an appeal for unity. Liberals promised to quickly accept 25,000 Syrian refugees, arguing that “Canadians can and must do more to help Syrian refugees who are desperately seeking safety.”

Harper ultimately lost to Trudeau, and resigned as leader of the Conservative Party shortly after. “My friends, we beat fear with hope,” Trudeau said during his October 20, 2015, victory speech. “We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.” Two months later, Trudeau personally welcomed Syrian refugees at Toronto’s airport. “You’re safe at home now,” he said, giving them warm coats for the cold Canadian winter.Meanwhile, a political backlash against refugees was exploding across Europe. Trump was inspiring global outrage for his vow during the GOP primaries to ban all Muslims from entering the United States; Canada looked like a bastion of racial tolerance and diversity in comparison, thanks in no small part to its embrace of Syrian refugees.

But the anti-Islam sentiment that pollsters and right-wing politicians identified in the years leading up to Canada’s election didn’t dissipate. In fact, it only seemed to grow.

By the summer of 2016, after thousands of Syrians had arrived in Canada, polling from the firm MARU/VCR&C found that only one-third of Ontarians held a positive view of Islam. “While Canada rides a wave of global praise for welcoming Syrian refugees, a new poll suggests we’re also facing a wave of something sinister—Islamophobia,” the Toronto Star reported. Further polling that fall from Angus Reid seemed to “show a hardening of public attitudes toward newcomers, something possibly driven by … Donald Trump.”

Into that fray stepped Kellie Leitch, the frontrunner for leader of Canada’s Conservative Party. Leitch, a formerly little-known member of parliament, burst into prominence last year for proposing a plan to screen refugees for “anti-Canadian values.” She seemed to sense political opportunity in the rising distrust of refugees, surveying potential supporters to see if they’d support a tougher government stance on refugees. As establishment Conservatives fought for the party’s leadership, Leitch proposed that all new immigrants be screened for “anti-Canadian values”; she denied that the plan was anti-Muslim. “Canadians value freedom of religion. Full stop. That includes all religions,” she told Maclean’s magazine. Yet a former advisor to Harper argued that “many will read it as a security measure to make sure no radical Muslims get in.”

After the announcement, Leitch climbed in the polls, and she celebrated Trump’s presidential election win in November as an “exciting message that needs to be delivered in Canada.” Like Trump, Leitch was soon winning the endorsement of racist hate groups. The Council of European Canadians, an alt-right nationalist group, celebrated her values-test for immigrants as a way to “effectively eliminate believers in Islam who, according to the Koran, do not believe in Canadian civic, legal, or moral values.” Leitch rejected the endorsement. But when earlier asked what she thought of support from racist groups, Leitch would only say she was “delighted that we have literally hundreds of people coming on board to support my candidacy.”

Yet the Quebec City shooting is an extreme reminder that Canada’s official narrative of multiculturalism is not shared by all Canadians. The self-image that politicians like Trudeau project to the world—a tolerant and welcoming society for people of all cultures and backgrounds—masks a different reality.


Monday: DENIAL is not a River in Egypt

153446-004-926b6686

The book says that “The only thing that has to change in sobriety, is Everything.”

The book also says that “Anything you put before your sobriety will fail, that sobriety must come first, even if we think it doesn’t have to be.”

They say that “Once you take away the drugs and alcohol, and we sober up, we learn that we begin to FEEL. The question is, what do we do with these feelings?”

A meeting that falls after something tragic, or politically charged, is hard. Because people are trying to figure out what they do with their fear, or their sorrow, or their pain, or their anger or their rage?

My friends are trying to navigate that fine line between Chaos and Order. To navigate being Responsible, or to deciding not to be responsible. That is the fine line we walk, in the rooms.

When we get sober, and we leave behind the chaos that followed us around for all the years we drank and used, order comes. This usually throws people off.

  • What do I do with that order?
  • How do I engage,
  • How do I become responsible, and finally,
  • What is my place in the grand scheme of things.

Nobody should ever tell you, inside a room, that what you feel is wrong, or irrational, or childish. Nobody should ever feel that they have to tone down their feelings when they are coming at you at 100 miles per hour.

A young lady I know, was in pieces tonight over all that has happened, here in Quebec, and worldwide. She needed to know what to do with her feelings, and how to deal with them…

Feelings come and go. And sometimes they are overwhelming. I know from emotional catastrophe. I also know what it felt like for someone to call me irrational during one of the hardest moments in my life, not so long ago.

I think, in my opinion, that we should feel what we feel, in whatever degree it comes to us. And when that happens, if we do this thing soberly … Depending on how much time you have, not to allow our feelings to push us out to either drink or use.

Having people around us when the waters are choppy are crucial, so that we are not alone in the boat, whilst navigating choppy seas.

  • I will stand with you, and allow you your space,
  • And I will support you,
  • In whatever way I can.

Pandora’s Box is open, and the Monster I warned everybody about is wreaking havoc in the United States. We must find a way to stop him.

Uncertainty rules the day. Fear is ruling the day as well. Sorrow has filled the hearts of many, because on Monday night, we meet in a church, INSIDE the church. Where we are safe, warm, and secure.

Last night, in a similar sacred space, the sanctity of life and the sanctity of the practice of religious faith was rocked with a deranged young boy, with Far Right leanings, a boy who WAS a Navy and then an Army Cadet …

A fucking Cadet … for God’s sake …

Walked into a prayer service and began shooting innocents. Six are dead, many more were injured, some critically. Reports are all over the map, so I stuck to the basics. But today I had to post the face of this young boy, one of our own Canadian boys, who lives in this free country, where he was educated and lived.

And in a split second he took on the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner …

It was not a Muslim man, perpetrating injustice on his own people, it was a Francophone CITIZEN who killed a handful of innocents.

If we deny what we feel,we minimize our own expressions of those feelings. Because for so long we drowned what we felt with booze and drugs. And now so many are in this place, of not knowing what to do with themselves, because we are all feeling a wide expanse of feelings …

Anger, Sorrow, Fear, Rage, just to name a few…

People are sad, people are angry, people do not know what to do with all that is going on in the world. And we also know, or will find out, that on a grand scale we are powerless to affect change or do anything but express how we feel, to whomever will listen.

We can attend memorials. We can march in the streets. We can sign petitions.

We can sit in our depth of feeling and let the water roll over us and take us and drown us, or we can allow the water to wash over us, and we learn what to do with what we are feeling in a positive and constructive way.

The only thing I can share with you is what I do when I am feeling any one of the above referenced feelings … I talk, I cry, I scream, I rage, then I write.

We must Stand as ONE, we must Speak as ONE, we must Act as ONE.

Defiantly.

To the bitter end.

We must not give up our rights or our freedoms, where ever you live, in what ever country or state. We must fight for our dignity, respect and rights of every human being, as the Constitution gives us as Citizens.

If the government thinks that they can just rip the Statue of Liberty off her plinth and forget the words etched on her tablet and spit in the face of the millions of people who passed by her looking for a better life, they are WRONG. Very WRONG.

Here in Canada, we must state categorically that we abhor violence and the killing of innocents. The houses of religious practice are sacred, and should be respected that way. Because if you come and taint our house of worship with your violence, you incur the wrath of the very God you seek to destroy.

We will punish you to the fullest extent of Canadian law.

We Remember, We Mourn, We Feel, We are Sad, and we are With You.

The killing of innocents is abhorrent.

The banning of people from achieving a safe, secure, and solid home, where they can live without war, suffering or hunger, is abominable.

Do You Hear Me Mr. Trump, It Is Abominable.

You are abominable.

Hear us, as we Speak, March and Rise as ONE.

We Will Never Be defeated. We Will Never Bow to Terror. We Will Stand up and be Counted.

We are Québécois, We are Canadians. We are Americans.

We Are the People.

 


Suspect in Quebec City mosque shooting charged with 6 counts of 1st-degree murder

andre-bisonnette

Published Monday, January 30, 2017 7:56AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 30, 2017 6:02PM EST

A Canadian man has been identified as the lone suspect in a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, where six were killed and five others critically injured during evening prayers on Sunday.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and 5 counts of attempted murder. In an afternoon press conference, an RCMP spokesperson said that additional terrorism-related charges may be forthcoming.

Bissonnette was arrested along with one other individual following a shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday, in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood. The second person is being treated as a witness, according to Surete du Quebec.

The Department of National Defense confirms that Alexandre Bissonnette was a cadet between 2002 and 2004 in the Quebec City area. He was an air force cadet briefly in 2002, then an army cadet. Cadets are not members of the Canadian Armed Forces and they do not receive military training.

Laval University, a French-language public university in Quebec City, has confirmed that Bissonnette was a student at the institution’s Faculty of Social Sciences.

Six people were killed in the mosque shooting, including a professor and a grocery store owner.

Five victims were taken to hospital in critical condition. Police say the victims were all men between the ages of 39 and 60. More than a dozen others suffered minor injuries.

Of the five victims taken to hospital, three remained in intensive care Monday morning. The other two were in critical but stable condition, a hospital spokesperson said.

Investigators are asking for members of the public to come forward with any information that might help with the case.

Patrick Lalonde, assistant director of the Service de Police de la ville de Montreal, says security has been increased around mosques in the area. “We have asked for all our police officers to increase the levels of vigilance and surveillance around mosques and other community services,” he said at a news conference Monday morning.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard both condemned the incident as a terrorist attack.

“It is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence,” Trudeau said in a statement. He also offered his sympathies to the victims and his support to Canada’s Muslim community. “Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear,” he said. “Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”

Trudeau repeated his condemnation of the attack in the House of Commons Monday afternoon, where he again called it a “terrorist attack.” He is slated to visit Quebec City later in the day, along with Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative Party, and Thomas Mulcair, leader of the NDP.

“We must stand united,” Trudeau said. “Senseless violence has no place in Canadian society.”

Premier Couillard urged Quebecers to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. “Let us unite against violence,” he tweeted in French.

“This is your home, you’re welcome here,” Couillard said at a news conference, speaking to the Muslim community. “We are all Quebecers.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale later told reporters that the motivation for the attack is not known, but that it meets the “broad definition” of a terror attack.

He said Canada’s terrorism threat level remains at medium, where it has stood since October 2014.

Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume said the city is in mourning. “We have the impression we are dreaming,” Labeaume said at a news conference Sunday night. “I have often said in recent weeks that, despite the peace we have here, we are not immune (to attacks). Well, this has just proven that.”

Video from the scene shows several police cars outside the mosque on Sunday night.

Vigils are planned at mosques in several parts of the country, including Quebec City and Montreal.

Members of the Muslim community have condemned the attack, with many calling for tighter security around other mosques in the country.

“We are horrified by this despicable act of violence,” Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said in a statement. “This act of wanton murder must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”


Six dead in Quebec City Mosque Terror Attack

canada-mosque-shooting

The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, January 29, 2017 9:33PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 29, 2017 11:56PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 29, 2017 1:05 AM EST
 **** **** ****

QUEBEC — The president of a Quebec City mosque says he has been told that six people have been killed and eight more injured some critically, in the building.

The shooting took place at Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec, in Quebec City.

Mohamed Yangui says he heard the news from witnesses.

Police tweeted there were deaths and injuries but didn’t say how many victims there were.

They said two suspects were in custody.

A live video feed on a Facebook page of a mosque showed images of multiple police vehicles and yellow police tape.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted Sunday he was deeply saddened by the loss of life.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard reacted on Twitter by calling it “barbaric violence.”

“All our solidarity is with those who are close to the victims, the injured and their families,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the tragedy.

“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City,” he tweeted. “My thoughts are with victims & their families.”

The mosque in question had a pig’s head left outside the building last June.

The head was wrapped in paper and accompanied by a note that read “Bonne (sic) appetit.”

Prominent Quebec politicians denounced the incident, which came in the middle of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.

Nous sommes tous Québécois, Nous sommes avec vous maintenant et pour toujours. Tu n’es pas seul. Nous sommes une communauté. Nous sommes Canadiens.

I offer my sincere thought and prayers to the families of those lost, to the Muslim community of Quebec City. We categorically agree that this act was cowardly. 

We will Stand With You. Now and Forever… We Are Canadians. We will Never Bow to Terrorism.


To all the Little Children …

 

16387266_10208171876161018_7453079218427841761_n

It’s only Temporary …

I warned all of you, of your choices and your votes. I warned you that Pandora’s Box was opened and that the monster was approaching.

Now that monster has begun to act. And the World is coming apart at the seams.

WE MUST FIND A WAY TO STOP THIS MONSTER FROM MARCHING ANY FURTHER.

WE MUST ACT NOW … THERE IS NO TIME TO PONDER, WE MUST ACT, DECISIVELY.

NOW !!!


No, Mr. Trump, One is Never too Many

pope auschwitz one

Post lifted from Carmi Levy. Written Inc. London, Ontario, Canada.

A number of my friends have better words than I could ever write.

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day, and like many righteous folks – Jews and non-Jews alike – I felt the need to mark it in some way. Originally, it was a simple thing, really: A quick screen grab, shared to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with a similarly simple set of hashtags:

#HolocaustMemorialDay #Holocaust #NeverAgain

However we choose to do so, we mark the day because failure to do so dishonours the memories of those who died simply because of who they were. As a Jew, it is my responsibility to shine the light on racism wherever I see it. Not only because of what happened – and continues to happen – to my own people. But to all others, as well. Because if we stand by in silence, we may as well be party to the atrocities in the first place. Until, of course, they come for us, too. Take your pick of identifiable groups – gays, Latinos, African-Americans, whoever – and think about how easy we make it for anyone to marginalize anyone else if we fail to step in. It doesn’t have to be directed at you for you to take action.

That should have been more than enough. But then the newly minted president (lower-case deliberate) of the United States, Donald Trump, signed another executive order (he really does love those things, doesn’t he?) banning anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries –  Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days. The order also indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees from coming to America, and also pauses the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. That last program will be reinstated only following the implementation of a so-called “extreme vetting” process, and even then only for countries that meet the new administration’s yet-to-be-shared criteria for entry.

The irony that Trump would sign such an order on Holocaust Memorial Day should not be lost on any of us. Adding another bizarro element to the story was Trump’s own statement on the day that left out any mention of Jews. Or of anti-Semitism. If these actions don’t make us sick to our stomachs as members of the human race, I’m not sure what will.

During the Second World War, the U.S. famously closed its borders to refugees from war-torn nations. European Jews tried – and failed – to gain admission to the U.S. as the country maintained strict immigration quotas against Jews from Eastern Europe and from Germany in particular. Anne Frank’s family tried numerous times to obtain U.S. visas, only to be denied every time.

A ship, the St. Louis, packed with 937 European refugees, mostly Jews, was turned away from the Port of Miami in 1939 after being similarly denied entry in Cuba and Canada. The ship had no choice but to return to Europe, and many of those on-board were subsequently murdered in the Holocaust. This story loomed large in my upbringing, as the phrase “One was too many” echoed through my home every time my parents saw a news report of another country saying no to those in need.

It sickens me to no end to think of what might have been had xenophobia and self-serving silence not prevailed during that era. Of the lives that could have been saved. Of the entire family trees whose branches would have continued to spawn new branches. Instead, they were amputated right then and there, by leaders lacking humanity. And by everyone else who stood by in rapt inaction and let it happen.

Now, it’s 2017 and those echoes reverberate more strongly than ever. In the actions of a man who dwells more on the size of the crowds at his inauguration than the profound needs of the country he now leads. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we’re willing to stand by in silence. Or do something about it.

One was too many then. And while it may be too many for a certain leader of the free world, it shouldn’t be for those of us standing by and watching this seems-like-fiction circus play out in front of our disbelieving eyes. Unfortunately, this time it isn’t fiction. And this time we’re a little better equipped to get off the sidelines and actually put a stop to this nonsense.

My ancestors weren’t slaughtered so that a couple of generations later we could forget they were ever victimized and allow the entire episode to be repeated. When we say Never Forget, we mean it.


Friday: Humility … God Giveth and God Taketh Away

918

 

My story begins a long time ago, in a nondescript church, with Memere and God.

On that day, she had a conversation with God, and the covenant was made. And for the whole of my life, God was there, running in the background, even if I did not always want Him or see Him.

When we are born, we are given a body, a soul and a spirit. Our bodies, some say, are the temples of God, created in His image, and we should take care of that body, soul and spirit. Because it is the only one we have, and this is not a dress rehearsal, this IS the BIG SHOW.

When we reach the age, where addiction begins, nothing else matters, but the consumption of whatever we are addicted to, unto the bitter end.

I know what Humility is. I have spent an inordinate amount of time seeing where, I had to humble myself before God. And there were those times.

I am a man who desires structure. A man who desires to be with others, and not left on his own. I need that communion with those who participate in my life. I need a steady hand, every day that I live this life. I am nothing without those around me.

For a great portion of my twenties, I craved a new addiction, “Acceptance.” And what ever I had to do to get it, I did it. Not only did I never “find my way into acceptance fully,” it seemed, in retrospect, that “I would never arrive.”

My drinking career did not last that long. But for a very long time, I was abusing myself, disrespecting my body, my soul, and my spirit. And I had turned away from God, because I had forgotten that a covenant existed between God and myself.

If you think you can run your life, for the whole of your life, addicted and abusive, your God-given body, soul, and spirit is polluted.

I heard a friend say that at times, God might take something away, but He also gives something back. And my life, as it was lived, up to today, has been a series of God taking things away, however harsh it may have been, in God’s wisdom, I believe He knew what He was doing.

I had abused my Godly Covenant. I had forgotten.

Human beings are supposed to make it in the world, against all that happens, we are supposed to go out into the world, be fruitful and multiply. Well, I may be fruitful, but I sure as shit did not multiply. Thank God …

In the gay world, we are told we must be fit, sexy, tanned, rich and pretty. We are told that in order to “belong” we must imbibe great alcohol and do great drugs, because that is what we gay boys do. At least that was the message I got in my twenties.

I was fooled into a delusion that took me to the bitter end. Because I was none of those things, but for a few short years. Alcohol is capricious, patient and cunning.

I believe now, that God knew exactly what He was doing all the time.

But at the point where I had humiliated myself in public, drank myself into the ground and sexed myself up to the point that I was going to die because of my actions, God needed to get my attention, once in for all.

The Evangelical crowd believed that AIDS was the Gay’s punishment for sinning and that AIDS was what we earned by sinful behavior. They wanted us to die. And they vehemently encouraged us to die.

God brought me to my knees, in grand fashion. With plague …

He took away my ability to be fruitful and to be sexy and to be sexual. He removed me from that insanity, I thought I really needed, come hell or high water.

In retrospect, Was my sex life all that it was cracked up to be? No…

Only when I drank.

Taking away that part of my life was part of the deal. But God did not leave me, he incarnated and came into my life in human form. Todd came and saved my life.

I was going to learn some humility. And that is exactly what had happened.

I learned over the course of two years, what humility meant, and why it was important.

Humility was necessary to survive. Approval may not come all the time. And we must stand up and know that we are good. That we can be good to ourselves.

HUMILITY — Definition: When your toilet is stopped up with a cup placed backwards in the bowl, and shit and piss fill the bowl and is all over the floor, your job is to get that cup out of the toilet and clean that mess… humility …

We know today, well at least some of us do that:

My belly button is NOT the center of the universe. Therefore I am not the center of the universe.

As long as I was orbiting my sun, my moon and my stars, I was good. As long as that hand was there, and I was not alone, I trusted Todd with my life and I flourished.

We know that time came to an end. I did not know what to do. Honestly, I did not know what to do with myself or how I was going to survive on my own.

I tried for a while, until A.A. asked me to leave and not come back.

Never tell an alcoholic to go away and not come back. Because if you do that, their life becomes your problem.

Once you speak words, you can never take them back.

I had to venture on one last odyssey. God was there, on silent mode. But I had to get to the point that I recognized that I was done abusing myself.

And that night, I got on my knees and humbled myself before God.

And with miraculous Godly power, God moved heaven and earth to bring me back into my covenant.

The rest, I can say, is history. Good history.

The steps are written in a certain order and should begin with the First, through the Twelfth. Because we need to admit, come to, and decide that (God) for me, is the director and I am a servant. Then I need to clean house and throw out the trash.

Only then can we entertain the word Humility. Step Seven is all about humility.

A familiar exercise is to read the Twelve and Twelve and Step Seven, and highlight how many times the word humility appears in that step work.

God giveth and God taketh away …

And I know that I could never have provided myself with what God has given me over the last fifteen years on my own. I was no normal mortal human being who was supposed to go into the world and make it on my own.

I had no idea how that was going to work.

Alcoholics and Addicts in recovery, We Get Our Do Over…

In the rooms we find what we have all been missing. I’ve proved, over the years, that God can be found in the rooms of recovery. I’ve seen Him move among my friends.

And He has moved in my life. Over the years, little by little, God has removed certain things from my life. In order that He might give me something better.

An Empty vessel that can be filled with grace. A Body, Soul, and Spirit that is Clean and Sober, that can flourish and be of service to my fellow-man.

Having lived as long as I have, I surely do not take my life for granted.

People rely on me. They trust me. And they love me. If I took for granted one day, of this covenant that I now inhabit, I would surely lose my life …

A long time ago, I had a conversation with God. And I told him that I was ready to sacrifice my life in order to serve God.

An entire lifetime would go by, until I reached the point where the time was right, the moment had arrived, the ground was fertile, and I was ready to step up and serve God with all that I had.

For me, in order to serve God, in hindsight, required great sacrifice.

It has taken me a lifetime to realize just what that meant.

Tonight a friend reminded me of why we were sitting in that room tonight.

Because God giveth …

 

 

 


Holocaust Memorial Day: In the Words of Primo Levy…

yellow_star_of_david.jpg

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


Thursday: It’s a New Story

918

Nothing guarantees one sobriety more, than intensive work with another alcoholic.

These words ring true tonight.

There is only ONE time, you get to tell your story for the very first time. Tonight, the room was packed. The crowd was fresh, many friends, and groups from other places, visiting for the month of January.

Tonight, we heard a story for the First Time.

2 years and 2 months ago, I met a young man, the same age I was, when I came in. My young man was at his First A.A. meeting in Montreal. He had visited a room in his native Venezuela many years prior. He knew the drill.

That night, as the meeting closed, I was feeling strong and confident. We spoke after the meeting, and I gave him my number and told him to call me EVERY DAY.

That first week, he called me ONCE.

The following Sunday he came to the meeting, and I asked him why he didn’t call, as he was asked. He did not want to bother me. That Sunday he resolved to call every day. For the last two years, and a couple of months, he has done as he was asked.

When you work with others, A Vision for you says that:
Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …Your Own House Must be in Order. 

I believed I had something to offer, a Story. Experience, Strength and Hope.

But you never know what you have to offer, until conversations begin. Every time that phone rings, you never know what is going to come from the other end. You cannot respond with “Canned Responses.” You must rise to the challenge of whatever is asked of you. Working with others forces you to really Work Your Program.

Going to meetings, is not just Going to meetings.

One must exhaust every meeting and every human being in that meeting to its maximum benefit. I’ve spent the last fifteen years listening to people talk, in every meeting I have been to, to date.

I pride myself in knowing that, ONE, I did not do many things I watched others do. And TWO, I did not make the same decisions many others made. I was never alone. Over the years, observing my friends and listening to them, gave me opportunity to say, “I might do this, or I might do that, but I am definitely NOT doing that.”

With all that informed activity, soberly used, I am where I am. I have an entire bank of knowledge and decision-making skills. And I have used them wisely.

Sobriety is not a rush job. And sometimes progress is slow. But for my friend tonight, the pace of progress was reflected back at us tonight, in the wise and spiritual truths my friend shared with us tonight. It pays, having a cheat sheet.

He had a cheat sheet.

But that cheat sheet helped him share a message of true spiritual teaching.

A long time ago, my friend knew what he had to do. What happened was, that it took time to do the work and learn the lessons, and gain spiritual maturity to know God as he does.

We might pray for things we think we need right now. And for the most part, alcoholics believe that if they pray NOW that the payment will come NOW.

WRONG …

If one is not spiritually RIGHT, and learned of the process of growth and has done the appropriate work to get to a certain point, what we need won’t come, until we really need it, on God’s time-table. Knowing full well, what that gift is and how to use it wisely. If we receive answers and promises prematurely, without doing the work required TO RECEIVE, then the gift is wasted.

God does not seem to waste gifts prematurely.

I know this, because, over the years, I worked very hard at sobriety. And nothing came easily, or on my time-table. In fact, some prayers took YEARS to come to me. I needed to appreciate my petitions, and learn to know my limits.

And how to respect God’s timetable.

I had certain issues I needed to practice. Like Money, Love, Things, Relationships, a Roof over my head, and Food in the Fridge.

My life blossomed in year two. BUT, God held back for a long time, until I learned how to do One thing well, not necessarily perfect. But one thing at a time.

In the meantime, my needs were met. I had all the right people, in all the right places, at all the right times.

Only in year 13 did things change drastically, Positively.

Knowing my friend came in at the same age I did, with practically the same issues I had, I kind of knew the drill. And I have been cautious with my advice, always tempering my words, with the appropriate work that is required of him and of myself.

And that caution paid off.

Because my friend is wise, at this stage of the game. He knows who he is. And he respects God and God’s Wisdom. True spiritual growth is the point of getting sober.

Sadly … Many folks don’t get it, won’t listen to advice, nor have the will to do the work required to be really, spiritually, fit.

I may be spiritual, but if I don’t maintain that spirituality daily, I am useless.

I must rise to the challenge and become as spiritual as I can, and whatever work we need to do to get there is what we will do. And we employ reading, studying, praying, meetings, listening, discussing, and then acting.

The Spirituality of Imperfection was a game changing book.

Rafa read it, and gave it to me. I read it and gave it to my friend. He read it and gave it to his girlfriend to read.

Along with the basic text of the Big Book, we have this small tome to study as well, as the book is all about Alcoholics Anonymous. From a Spiritual direction.

A handful of people, I know, read this book. I was among them in the Summer of 2016.

Spirituality is a time necessary endeavor. And all we have is time. And for each soul, in the program, all we do is count time. But it is in between those points on the timeline, that growth takes place. It does not come overnight.

It was an amazing night. I am so proud of my friend. The room was electrified tonight, and the people were truly grateful for the message shared.

He knocked it out of the Park.


Wednesday: Bell Let’s Talk Day: Let’s Talk About Mental Health

1477751682088

 

Today is a very special day. The day Canada and other places, shed light on a very important topic, that still, seems to be Taboo in many places.

The topic is Mental Health.

If you’ve ever suffered from something tragic in your life, or know someone who has, or you just know someone who is over their heads in the water and they can’t seem to find solid ground, or you have that friend or family member who is suffering in silence, there is something we can do, for us and for them, We Can Talk …

You never know when a conversation will happen that might change a life in ways, we could not imagine.

I’ve just finished reading Romeo Dallaire’s book, Waiting for First Light, my ongoing battle with PTSD. War is a place we see in the movies or on the news, it does not affect us directly, but it does affect many, who have been to conflict zones, or war zones, or on peace keeping missions, war for them is real.

You cannot imagine the visuals that they have seen, the atrocities they witnessed, seeing men, women and children die all around them, and watching their brothers and sisters in arms get killed in action.

And when they come home, they are shattered human beings. And we as a society have failed these brave men and women, over and over again. The Canadian Military has continually failed their own people.

PTSD is something the military has yet to fully comprehend and do something about in concrete ways and means.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of men and women suffer with unimaginable horrors and night terrors, and addictive behavior to quench the pain with drugs and alcohol.

Some take their own lives in Suicide because they have no way out of the pain.

PTSD is an old problem. But in decades past, we had different names for it.

In the Viet Nam Era, when my father came home from the war, in stories he had told me, he and many others came back and they were Shell Shocked.

But in reading Romeo’s book, I see very similar parallels in what happened, and how my father coped with his issues. He never talked about it, until one season when I was in High School, he actually had film, photos and a story to tell.

Meanwhile at home he was drinking himself to death, and abusing his wife and children.

All those men who came back from that war, were bad mouthed, and ridiculed. What happened ? They went without, and many went to their graves mentally cracked.

Living through the scourge of AIDS, was terrible. For many of us who were on the front lines, dealing with terrible sicknesses and ailments, then watching families, churches, friends and lovers, toss their sick partners into the gutter to die alone and penniless, without an ounce of dignity, was horrifying.

I’ve witnessed my share of tragedy. And suffered my own bouts with depression due to Suicide, AIDS and almost loosing my own life. I would not say that I would call my problems PTSD, but tragic sickness and death is part of my story.

Soon after my diagnosis my doctor hooked me up with a good psychiatrist. Along with medicines, and therapy, I was put on an anti-depressant regimen, that I am still on to this day.

I lived, thankfully. I am also clean and sober, which only enhances my life and my personal well-being. I had people to talk to. Therapists, Psychiatrists, Counselors, Todd, and the myriad of people who have been involved in my sobriety.

A few months after I met hubby, he got very sick. And he was cycling rapidly, over and over again, obsessively. A few weeks in, he had a nervous breakdown, and fell to pieces. Doctors and shrinks came on board, and he was diagnosed as Bi-Polar Rapid Cycling.

For ten long and arduous months we plied him with pill after pill, trying to find the right mixture of a “Little bit of this and a Little bit of that…” until we found the mix that worked for him. For that almost year, I was chief cook, cleaner and chief bottle washer.

I got him out of bed, fed him, got him on the sofa.

And at night, I fed him, bathed him, and put him to bed.

A ritual that still exists to this very day.

I was going to school full-time, taking care of house and home, going to meetings, and taking care of hubby, who was comatose on the sofa for the entire ten month period, catatonic.

I remember the night that we had found the magic pill … The next morning he got up, he was coherent, lucid and alive.

It was like Lazarus, rising from the grave.

There was still working to do, to bring him back into full participation in his own life.
And that stared with simple occupational therapy, to get him to do simple things, that led to him getting back into the saddle and living once again.

Mental health is a top issue in our home. Having two people who have mental issues is a task in itself.

I believe that a human who suffers from a mental illness NEEDS a SECOND set of eyes on them all the time. So that they aren’t doing it themselves. That there is someone else actively involved with their daily care and to watch their medical progress with whatever medication a doctor puts them on, because we don’t necessarily catch things on our own, we need that SECOND set of eyes on the case.

I have worked with kids with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. That is some of my most rewarding work, to date. I have sponsees who have mental illnesses as well. Depression, PTSD and Schizophrenia. Everybody needs to be loved and cared for. My time is not only invested in helping men and women stay sober, I also try to help them to stay sane.

To make sure they are on their meds, seeing their doctors and case workers and making sure that they are taking care of themselves, and each other, as well taking care that their homes are safe, clean and void of drugs and alcohol.

Mental Illness is a scourge on our city. many, MANY of our homeless men, women and kids, (read: Young People) on the street, suffer from mental illness, and they go about their lives, and nobody really gives a damn, unless you see them on the street.

We don’t have the amount of resources that the city needs to tackle that problem, because not only do you have mental illness to contend with you also have addiction to alcohol and drugs as well. So you have a triple cocktail of sadness …

Too many of our young people are killing themselves over bullying and mental illness.

What are we teaching our kids, when so many of them are dying and nobody knew about what was going on with them! We have to talk to our kids and actually give a damn about them instead of leaving them to their own devices and video games and their phones.

SUICIDE IS NEVER AN OPTION – EVER !!!

Give a kid a chance … talk to them for God’s Sake.

There is help. There are solutions. You don’t have to be alone. We are here.

We will help you in any way we can. All you have to do is ASK …

Let’s Talk …


Monday: Wants versus Needs

7-cardinal-rules-for-life

 

Just as material losses are not necessary to indicate alcoholism, material gains are not the true indications of sobriety.

We heard from another young lady tonight, and her story, “Student of Life.”

Growing up, in an alcoholic house, was tedious at best. But I did have certain lessons down pat. I knew how to take care of a home, and myself to a certain degree. I went to school, and did fairly well.

I was 13, I think, when I got my first job. I was a bag boy in a grocery store. It was the first of a string of jobs I would have. And I had some seriously good jobs. They were the best. I worked a season scooping ice cream. I worked a double header in two shops that fried chicken and hot wings. I was a short order cook for a while as well. I had the chops to do a good job and BE responsible.

My parents were not going to pay for college. My first year was a scholarship that went no where. The second, I have spoken about before, in Seminary. But that did not go anywhere either. Working for a living now competed with my drinking.

When the time came to move away, you’ve thought that I would carry all the things I already knew forwards. This theme does repeat itself …

Thinking that I would carry forward what I did know …

I knew the apartment I wanted, in the specific Orlando apartment complex, because of specific people I knew who lived there, and at 21, I wanted to be them, and damned the torpedoes. I had a new car, that I could not pay for, and the expensive apartment, well outside my means, and the inability to be responsible for any of it, because of my drinking.

You’ve thought that what little responsibility I knew about, would carry forwards…

All my wants … Did not square with the Responsibility that needed to exist and didn’t.

Because I was ruled by my addiction to alcohol.

Our writer tonight talks about the fact that she did not LOOSE anything, so she figured she wasn’t an alcoholic. But we also know that she had not lost anything, because she had NOTHING to loose, YET.

Loss is a common theme in my life, as is geographical cures, lies, and irresponsibility.

Within the first few months of moving away, I lost apartments, I lost a car, I lost jobs, I lost boyfriends. If it was not nailed down, I lost it.

Nothing in life was nailed down at all.

When I got sick and was going to die … I NEEDED to get sober. There were no two ways about it. If I was going to LIVE I was going to STOP drinking.

I had to stem the losses and get right. And that worked for a few years.

But listening to people telling me to go, disconnecting from meetings, and lying to my friends, and listening to the voice in my head, was very detrimental.

I’ve said before that, ask any alcoholic in the room, male or female, about the HOLE in the SOUL, and they will tell you that (If I ONLY had a relationship, everything would be better).

Not So Grasshopper …

My needs were warped to begin with, and the need for a human trumped my need to stay sober, in the end.

I pissed away four years sober for an imperfect human addict.

And in the end, I lost everything that I owned that time, and almost my life with it.

The first time I got sober, it was because I needed it.

The second time I got sober, was because I WANTED it.

The blackouts and the sickness came. And I just KNEW, I was DONE.

I prayed for that alcoholic to show up, and he did. Like clockwork.

When I moved to Montreal, I had 2 suitcases and 4 boxes. That was my life.

Not very much.

In my twenties, I could not hold down a job, make money, or have a solid home. But for a brief stint, when I got sick, I had a solid roof over my head, while Todd was in my life.

When I moved here, sobriety took the drivers seat. It was all I had. And I busted my ass for all these years, and now I am here. The Promises came, albeit, very slowly. In years 13 to today, my life has taken a serious turn, and I have arrived, in a place, I never thought I’d find in this life. Because I am not supposed to still be here.

I should have died, long ago. But it seems God has other plans.

I had to learn how to be responsible. One thing at a time, and nothing more. I learned to to be spiritually fit, from spiritually fit people.

Little do you know that setting down chairs, making coffee and shaking hands, is the prep work we get to do.

Those simple jobs of making a meeting, are the beginnings of a life of responsibility.

What a Grace. What an absolute Grace. Sad, many people don’t see it that way.

One of my friends said tonight that, the Program is to help us become Spiritually Fit. And in the end, if it works right, We find Spiritually fit people, who can help spiritually Unfit people, get better. But, it has come to pass, and the lesson applies to many … You might have the time, but not necessarily be sober.

Sobriety comes little by slowly. What I failed to carry forwards as a young person, and even in my twenties and from Todd, specifically … I got my Do Over.

I’ve been in Do Over Territory for a long time. All those things we failed to learn when we were young or while we drank, we get to relearn. We get to try again. We get to get it right.

How many normal people who fail at life and give up, they don’t get their do over… We in the rooms get that grace and we get our Do Over.

I know who I am. I know my goals, dreams, values, and boundaries, and I know how to protect, nurture, and validate them. Those are the true rewards of sobriety, and they’re what i was looking for all along. I am so grateful that my Higher Power stepped in to show me the way to the truth. I pray every day that I never turn my back on it. I came to A.A. in order to stop drinking; what i received in return was my life.

Truer words were never spoken …

 

 

 

 


Sunday Guest Post: On the Ground 2

steve-1

In the spirit of sharing, tonight I offer a post written by a friend who attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. I trust in his words and observations, they are true and honest, with wisdom and clarity. (Sects and Violence in the Ancient World)

**** **** ****

Don’t believe the lies. Your government is lying to you already on day 1. I watched in disbelief as Trump’s press secretary for the White House, Sean Spicer, told bald-face lies the very first day of Trump’s reign of terror. I was in Washington, DC. My niece attended the inauguration. My extended family attended the Women’s March on Washington the next day. Spicer, clearly comfortable with untruth, lied through his teeth mere minutes after I myself stood outside the White House, saying that Trump’s inauguration was the best attended in history, far outstripping the paltry women’s march. Pure, unadulterated lies from the White House. My niece, and many others, noted how poorly attended the inauguration was. The evidence was in the white plastic matting, unbesmirched by mud on Saturday morning. The federal government disallowed the use of the Mall for the Women’s March. The unused matting was very clearly white the next morning. Around 8:30 on Saturday morning I saw for myself.

steve-2

 

The Women’s March may have been the most significant event of my life. I was part of something much bigger than myself. Along with thousands of others, I stood for three hours while celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Michael Moore, and Madonna, appeared on stage to cheering crowds. There was barely room to stand. We marched past the Washington Monument to the White House. A US Security guard told us there were an estimated 1.2 million people there, making this one of the largest marches on Washington in history. Just inside that white-washed tomb Spicer was lying his face off. He castigated the press for telling lies. Wake up, my fellow Americans. On day one our new government has shown that it intends to lie and smirk its way through every attempt at honesty. My eyes did not deceive me. I was there, on the ground.

steve-3

 

I work in Manhattan. New York City is a community of some 8 million people. I’ve never in my life been in a crowd as large as yesterday’s in Washington. The Women’s March was peaceful and perhaps the largest protest in our nation’s history. Protests in over 600 cities around the world joined it. An administration of the people, by the people, and for the people would acknowledge that. The smug, implacable—and I use this word sparingly—evil administration that insists on lying to its citizens is already spinning a false narrative. I was there, on the ground. This March may have been the best use of time in my life. Beware, Americans, your government will regularly be lying to you until future notice.

steve-4

 


Friday: Extra-Ordinary Night

12289463_1092314860780733_5368461934168273242_n

 

After a day of insanity and politics, we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

I’ve said what I am going to say.

It is an odd thing that happens, not very often, but tonight, we had one of the deepest meetings, we have sat, in a very long time. So many people are suffering. From a great many things, not necessarily drugs, or alcohol, or sex.

And it was mentioned after the fact, from friends, that when we compare notes, some of us are seeing and hearing the same things from many places. It is terribly unnerving to me after so many years, that so many of my friends are hurting, and there is nothing I can do for them, until they ask.

It is a very good thing that there is a handful of us on Friday night, who are tight. My Greatest friends, those who have been around the block and then some, those friends who at times were at odds with each other, have found that we want friendship more than anything else.

When the chips were handed out at the start of the meeting, two men got up. One, sitting behind me reeked of alcohol, and was sobbing in his beer all night. He said …

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. And he SOOOO wanted to stay in Vegas, but he decided to come into the hall tonight and take a chip.”

He disappeared after the meeting, after one of our women said no to him when he asked her if he could drive her home.We got her a taxi instead. But the man slipped out before we could stop him driving home, being intoxicated as he was.

A second man, who was terribly plastered hung back, had driven to the meeting intoxicated to begin with, instead of allowing him to drive home, at the end of the meeting a group of us, (we never travel 12 step alone) decided to sober him up a bit over coffee at a coffee-house not far from the meeting.

We drove him home. Because he was in no shape to drive.

My friends are suffering. And as we listen to each other, when we talk, there is so much more shit going on than we can address in any meeting. It was spoken tonight that the holidays were not kind to our men and women. And now we are reaping what has been sown for months and months.

People are beginning to crack around the seams.

I’ve been saying this for weeks and weeks … Months really, I’m not sure what I am doing right, or what my fellows are doing wrong, but I am in a totally different place, than many of my friends who have comparable time in the rooms.

And it’s not a point of judgment, just plain skills of observation and listening.

GHOSTS IN THE ROOMS

At this point in my journey, after listening to people talk for the last few months, I have seriously worked my ass off for the whole of my sobriety. What I am hearing and what I am seeing is that there are too many GHOSTS in the room.

I can share with you this poignant story …

There are some of us, who are still alive, twenty-five or more years after the AIDS crisis. In many big cities, Ft. Lauderdale, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc … Thousands of people died, ugly, serious, and terrible deaths.

Handfuls of men survived. We are a new breed of men. About five to ten years ago, we crossed a new life line. Those of us who had survived the carnage and are still alive.

Twenty plus years away from the epicenter of AIDS.

Some of those men, who had seen the worst, and lived, did not integrate back into society, they became GHOSTS. Many of them did not find their way back, after all the suffering we witnessed. And in many places, we know who they are. We can see them, but you might not necessarily be able to distinguish them, but we can. They walk around alone, lost.

Today, in the rooms … There are GHOSTS among us. People who have some serious issues that have never been dealt with. Yet they are in various lengths of sobriety. They might have the time, but, like I have said before, many times, many of my friends are cracked emotionally. I’ve been hearing these ghost stories for months.

I don’t know what to do any more. I know so many people, because I hit the same routine meetings week in and week out. I see them and have watched them for a long time. And you cannot connect with everyone. Not everybody wants to know you past the chair you are sitting in on any given night. There are only so many people who want to invest.

But I am told, by a good friend, that there are certain men with some time from the Friday night meeting, that when we talk, people listen. They might not say anything to us, but when I talk, I am honest. I tell the truth. I only talk about what I know, and what I have observed and heard, and how all that information relates to me soberly.

I want something more. I have worked the rooms for everything they can give me. I’ve pounded the pavement for the whole of my sobriety. And now, at this point, I know, for certain, just what a good chunk of friends have been doing. Because I listen to them talk.

I am told, by my friends that I’ve walked a certain path, that has brought me to this point, that my journey is unique. From the very beginning, I made a decision, that I would listen and observe my friends. And from that, my sobriety would be built by what my friends were either doing well, or not doing well. I think I’ve made wise choices, because I see where my decisions paid off, in the ways my friends are cracked today.

I made sure that I was never alone. That I wasn’t making decisions on my own, and that I had people, across the board to talk to about various things, along the way.

Not everybody took that same route. And now I know that for sure. I’ve got enough time and the skills to hear it for myself, just how cracked many people are, and just how hard they are suffering. And for many of them, I can do nothing but listen, and where possible say something that isn’t stupid and pithy.

The rate of return for those folks who went out over the holidays are low. And we are working very hard to keep those men and women “In the Loop.” But some of my friends are still walking around shell-shocked. One of my friends in particular, is just a mess, but he is hanging on by a thread. I say very little, beyond Hi and Nice to see you again.

I don’t know what is worse … Being sober, where I am right now, or not being able to do a God Damned thing for the many who need it. I don’t have the ability to help everybody and not everybody wants help.

Some just want to be left alone. And we have to respect that.

When people need us, they will say so. We just need to keep showing up.

And we need to be honest and willing to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure, that when needed we step up and do what we need to do to safeguard the lives of those who come to our rooms.

As was the case tonight.

 


In the Words of President Trump

My Father Always said, “Once you speak words, they can never be taken back !”

16142859_1196823267100703_7627290583532624507_n


Trump inauguration: Full text of new president’s speech

_93721858_mediaitem93687891

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: Thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America, and the world, for many, many years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

This is your day. This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the centre of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighbourhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.

These are the just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealised potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;

Subsidised the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;

We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own;

And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First, America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labour.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example – we will shine – for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilised world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” (He mentions God here … )

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.

We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over.

Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are “black or brown or white,” we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:

You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, we will make America strong again.

We will make America wealthy again.

We will make America proud again.

We will make America safe again.

And, yes, together, we will make America great again.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you. God bless America.