Trump Should Study the Koran

By Bear Gebhardt

Although many passages in the Koran seem quite harsh and inhumane, there’s one passage all good ol’ American blue collar workers can quickly agree with: “A worker should be paid before the sweat is dried from his brow.” This is a passage Donald Trump should follow, but doesn’t.

Bear Gebhardt is a writer who lives in Fort Collins, Colo. Learn more about him…

One way to describe D.T.’s basic business practices is “Donald the Octopus.”  He has many, many arms (over 500 corporations), and each arm has hands, and each hand has fingers, and each finger has digits. Each digit is a corporation designed solely for the purpose of profit, e.g., designed for getting, not giving. Many, many people who have worked for D.T. over the years have not only not been paid “before the sweat is dried from their brows,” they don’t get paid at all or get paid less than he promised.

In the last three decades, the Trump Octopus has been involved in at least 3,500 lawsuits.  His way of doing business regularly ends up with his partners, his contractors or subcontractors suing him, or he suing them. Apparently his way of doing business is to delay payments, and often not pay at all.  He disputes, disputes, disputes. Not only is the sweat dried from his workers’ brows, they’ve worked and completed a dozen other projects and he still hasn’t paid.

As USA Today documented, Donald Trump may have learned this tactic from his father Fred, who got him started in business. They both have a long history of not paying their contractors, not fulfilling their end of signed contracts, and lying about their true intentions. Anybody who takes even a cursory glance at the business history of Donald Trump, as this Newsweek article documents, would have a hard time defending such practices.

The contractors who have not been paid, or the business partners who want him to ante up his share, naturally, want to use whatever leverage they can—often Trump owes them millions of dollars for the work and materials they have provided, or the investments they have made on his behalf. So when it becomes obvious workers are not going to get paid, or that he’s stalling about his payments, they sue him, trying to get what they are owed. That’s why he creates a new corporation for every new project, or even a new phase of an old project. Contractors can only sue that one corporation, and not the man himself, hiding behind his many “corporate walls.”

But Donald the Octopus is not afraid of being sued. On the contrary, apparently one of his secret business tactics is lawsuits. So he keeps a Tower full of lawyers on payroll whose only job is to drag out the lawsuits year after year, and/or institute counter-suits. Eventually, the contractors and unhappy investors are willing to settle for anything—for pennies on the dollars—just so they can get paid something, rather than nothing. That’s just how he does business.

And if the deal doesn’t work—if he can’t bully local people into doing what he wants them to do—he can disband that little piece of this business, that temporary corporation. Or simply declare bankruptcy, as he has done on six separate occasions. Again, it’s like an octopus.  You fight one arm, and you can win—but he has many more arms. In Donald’s case, 500 more arms that keeps the octopus alive.

Again, the one passage from the Koran that all American blue collar workers will quickly agree with, and that Donald Trump should take to heart: “A worker should be paid before the sweat is dried from his brow.”

Does it take the Koran to teach this man the honest American way of doing business? Then again, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” seems pretty clear in itself. For a man whose penthouse apartment is decked out in gold, you’d think the golden rule should apply.

Evidence put forth by some of the most respected lawyers in the country documents sufficient constitutional cause to impeach this man. His lousy business practices give further evidence that this man has not yet learned to be an honest, upright, fair-handed American. He does not represent the best of our people, or our history.

Escaping the Trump Tower Prison

By Bear Jack Gebhardt

Isn’t it funny how often we dream in metaphors? And, when we pay attention, our dreams can help us to better understand and more artfully deal with the challenges of our waking life.

For example, I recently had a dream in which I was arrested for murder, and held in prison in the Trump Tower. The charge against me was so serious that I knew I would never be released from the Trump Tower jail.

Bear Jack Gebhardt has written for many national magazines and published books on various topics. Learn more about him…

The dream went deeper:

Donald Trump himself singled me out personally for perverse psychological experiments. He would have me removed from the cell, take me into the glitzy lobby of the Tower, and tell me falsehoods to see if I would believe them. He obviously didn’t care whether I believed him or not. He even let me walk around the block, there in New York City, as if I were a free man, enjoying the sunshine and the ordinary movement of daily life, all the while knowing I was still his prisoner, with no chance of escape unless I wanted to live a life on the run.

Curiously, waking from this dream, I found I could breathe easier, psychologically and emotionally speaking—easier than I had in months. Through my dream, I had been presented with an accurate scenario—outplaying—of my inner life. With such a glimpse, I felt more empowered to deal with real-life outer circumstances.

“Hope is a mark of spiritual wholeness.”

The contemporary Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, observed, “Hope is a mark of spiritual wholeness.” My dream pointed out how I had inadvertently fallen into a mood–an attitude, a worldview–of hopelessness, which, in Brother David’s view, would be a condition of spiritual fragmentation.  (If you are arrested and charged with murder, there’s little hope for escape.)

The reasons behind my mood, this attitude, were likewise plainly presented in my dream. Our current political upheaval had obviously captured my mood and emotions in a way that feels life-threatening, without hope. In my dream, many others were likewise held in the Trump Tower prison, though for some reason—probably just because it was my dream—I had been personally selected for Donald’s psychological experiments.

Don’t forget to take a short survey about your dream world at the end of this article.

My daughter, Annalee Moyers, is a lucid dreamer, and over many decades we have learned together to work with our dreams—play with our dreams—in a way that most often makes our day-life flow more smoothly. One of our dream practices is to go back, after waking, and “fix” our troubling dreams, sometimes on paper, sometimes by talking them out together. Playing with the exact images our subconscious has offered up allows our mental and emotional and sometimes even physical infrastructure to be repaired.

So, for example, I can go back into my dream, here as I write this essay, and have a fair-minded judge deliver papers to the Tower prison ordering the charges against me be dropped, because they were all based on insufficient and possibly even fraudulently fabricated evidence. While I’m at it,  I’ll have further papers delivered charging the Trump organization with false arrest, false imprisonment, not only for my case (my dream) but for all those who have been likewise imprisoned in the Trump Tower’s jail.

Since it’s our dream, and we can do what we want, we may as well send in blue-helmeted United Nations’ soldiers to open all the prison cell doors, release all of the prisoners, and haul all the Trump guards and prison administrators into waiting paddy wagons.

There. Doesn’t that feel better?

We do need to guard against being imprisoned in the Trump Tower. More specifically, and more importantly, we need to guard against the rising sense of hopelessness, this tweet-induced mental and emotional fragmentation.

Here in our day life, we are whole beings—beings who are nourished by the arts, all of them, and Meals on Wheels, and offering a helping hand to the poor; our compassion as non-fragmented beings leads us to help the refugees, and all those who have been made homeless by our own military and economic actions.

Let us not lose hope. We can wake from this nightmare. We all must work to stay healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically, in both waking and sleeping, in order to artfully meet the challenges we now face. Sharing our dreams, both daytime and nighttime, is an essential part of our healthy healing process.

Click here to take a short survey about your dream world

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Pot and Copernicus: See You in Court!

By Bear Jack Gebhardt

I don’t smoke a lot of weed these days, though I have old time friends and young time family who make it a regular thing. Can’t blame ’em. Life’s short. Grab a grin where you can. (As the iconic Wavy Gravy once said, “only the jailers are against escape.”)

Bear Jack Gebhardt is the author of eight books and articles that have appeared in Reader’s Digest, The Columbia Journalism Review, Modern Maturity, and other national magazines.

Bear Jack Gebhardt is the author of eight books and articles that have appeared in Reader’s Digest, The Columbia Journalism Review, Modern Maturity, and other national magazines. Visit his website to learn more about him.

I also don’t carry a green card, though again, old friends and new relatives carry their green as a daily obligation. But just because I don’t personally smoke a lot of pot, or carry a green card, doesn’t mean that I’m not locking arms and standing strong with friends and family who do.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer recently suggested that the new administration may be more aggressive in trying to enforce the scientifically baseless, ever-unenforceable, never-appropriate, violently disruptive and blatantly unjust federal regulations against recreational marijuana, though probably not medicinal marijuana. (Let’s don’t make silly distinctions: As all old timers know, “all use of marijuana is medicinal.”)

As with most of the other fear-based, backward-looking proposals coming out of this administration, I say, great, bring it on, let’s test it. As this prez once succinctly put it, “see you in court.”

Seeking the divine: Here’s how I think we should proceed: I’m active, here in Colorado, with the New Buddhist Methodist Church, Satsang and Art Studio. As Buddhist Methodists (but mostly artists) we recognize marijuana use as one of the legitimate “methods” for artistically seeking the divine, e.g., for exploring, integrating and expanding this miracle of consciousness that we all share. Like all methods, including prayer and meditation, pot smoking has its advantages and disadvantages for such explorations. (see “A warning about methods” where we recognize that “Methods make good servants, but terrible masters.” )

As an artistically religious community, we would not hesitate to go to court over any attempt by this administration to restrict our religious freedom. For many years now, (long before smoking pot was legal here in Colorado) members of our communion referred to the imbibing of weed as “taking sacrament.” Many of us, ex-Catholics and fallen Baptists and a few rogue Jews, have directly experienced the uplifting effects of this sacrament much more immediately, much more directly than our childhood experiences of the wine and wafers or unleavened bread.

With the sacramental bud we just felt holier, more open and reverential, more mystical than we generally did with the officially “approved” wafers and bread from our childhood. Is the state now going to tell us what is a “real” sacramental experience and what is not? Does the state have the right to tell us what feels holy and what doesn’t?  Hmm…  What would the courts say?

Hear ye, hear ye: On a purely secular level  (some of us doubt that such a level even exists, but that’s another story) . . . on a purely secular level, we’d love to have the evidence weighed in court by an impartial judge or jury. As a plethora of both physiological and sociological research has consistently proven over the last half century, the current Federal regulations classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance are scientifically baseless. We welcome the opportunity to bring into an impartial forum the scientific evidence for and against. We’re grinning even before the bailiff says, “Hear ye, hear ye…”

To site only one ironic case: As far back as The Shafer Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, appointed by U.S. President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, the scientific evidence has been overwhelming in favor of decriminalization of marijuana possession.

Nixon appointed the Shafer Commission because he wanted scientific evidence against marijuana. They couldn’t find it. So Nixon ignored the evidence, and started the war on drugs,  and more particularly the war on marijuana. Inarguably, the laws against marijuana have proven much more damaging, more costly and socially disruptive than any perceived physical or moral dangers of its use.

I’m not naive about the downsides of regular pot use. I even wrote a book in which I detailed many of the problems as well as its advantages.  (See The Potless Pot High: How to Get High, Clear and Spunky without Weed.) I spent many years as a drug education and treatment counselor. But as I wrote at the start of my book, “the two biggest problems with pot are: 1.) you keep coming down; and 2.) it’s mostly illegal.” There are other problems with pot, but they are relatively minor compared to these two.

Back to the secular: For an administration trying to turn back advancements in environmental regulations, social programs and sexual equality under the guise of “states’ rights,”  the suggestion that states should be able to determine their own environmental pollution regulations but not their own pot laws is comically hypocritical and patently ludicrous. Again, see you in court.

As Victor Hugo famously observed, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  The basic idea “whose time has come” is not that marijuana should be legal—though that’s a powerful idea in itself. No, the more fundamental idea is that we have the right, and duty, and opportunity to explore new ideas, to develop new ways of seeing ourselves and the world. Pot sometimes helps us do that—to think in new ways (and yes, sometimes pot just makes things fuzzy.)  But whether we use it or not is not a decision that the guy from Oklahoma—the new Attorney General—has the power to make.

“Good people don’t smoke pot,” the Oklahoman said here recently. “And it’s obvious the sun goes around the earth,” he would have told Galileo and Copernicus.

If the Attorney General wants to make regulations about the inalienable rights and free uses of mother nature’s wonderful weed, okay, “See you in court.” Copernicus and Galileo are anxious to present their evidence, for our grinning side.