Excitement in Paradise

I have been visiting another country outside of the US.  and it has been an exciting experience.  The country is the Dominican Republic , and I am truly experiencing every moment of it.   I wanted to emphasize a few details that I have been perplexed with.   My wife has warned me about a few things in  this country (which is actually her home town), particularly the lack of respect towars traffic laws. 

During my stay in the DR, I have witnessed and experienced the total disregard of rules and respect for others on the streets.  While driving on streets and avenues, various automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles run in front and around me like there is an apocalyptic emergency.  Especially the motorcycles, which travel on the opposite lane , run every stop sign, and do not stop or slow down while crossing intersections.  They run at high speed and do not seem to care about the safety of others.   People use horns to intimidate , particularly large truck drivers , and to warn others to get out of the way or to yield because they are about to pass by.   People often create additional lines of cars by trying to slowly pass others in close proximity.  


It is as if stop signs didn’t  exist, even though they can be seen everywhere. The lines on the roads are merely decorations. Traffic lights are rarely  obeyed.  Cutting people off and stopping in front while waiting at red lights is common.  Pedestrians , including children , cross the roads or stand between two lanes waiting to cross the road, while cars and motorcycles fly inches from their bodies.  It is truly a scary but exciting view.  It reminds me of an action movie.  I feel the same rush and adrenaline when I am playing a high speed  car racing video game.  Except that I am in real life. 
I started to regard stop signs as a reminder to hold my breath while  crossing  intersections (instead of actually stopping the car), and resume breathing afterwards.  People usually cross and then look , instead of vice versa.  I started hoping people will stop or slow down while I cross an intersection because if I don’t , I may not be allowed to cross myself.  It’s a survival of the fittest.  


Another interesting sight was seeing taxi drivers with cars that were literally falling apart .  Many buses did not have  a door and some cars didn’t have  license plates.   Some motorcycles and scooters had three or four people on them.  They also carry big loads of groceries.  The smell of burned gasoline is overwhelming.  


Keep in mind that the DR is a poor country and most people live in these conditions out of necessity.  So by no means am I  criticizing or judging the Dominican culture.  The food is great and people are very friendly.  There are many people who randomly came to the rescue when we had a problem with our car and needed assistance with  pushing and jumping the car’s batteries.  Others, still in their pre-teens, approached my car while at a red light and started washing my windshield.   Of course, many people expect to be paid but it is also part of their need to survive. 


Children play on the streets and a lot of elders sit on the corners watching cars go by. It is mainly a familiar and friendly environment.  But most people here drive as if they are always in a big rush and patience is rarely practiced.  When I return to the states, I will most likely be stunned by the tranquility and patience that people drive with .  But I would miss the familiarity and friendliness of the Dominican people.  

The bell 

Have you ever noticed that we become weak but wiser when we get older? Everyone’s life can be illustrated with a bell shaped line (like in statistics’ bell curve).  We all are born being weak, frail, naked, cold, and confused.  We are also dependent on others’ total care and protection.  If we are not well taken care of, we can fall and injure ourselves easily.

We are also under the same condition when we’re are close to death in our advanced age.  During our last days we are also weak, frail, naked, cold, and confused.  But during the rest of our lives, in the middle part of the bell, we learn more, develop, become stronger , more intelligent, and faster.  Our lives become more enthusiastic and adventurous.  We tend to feel more successful and busy.  This can be experienced by reaching the highest point in our professional career, buying a new house or car,  traveling around the world, having the maximum number of friends, and manifesting our artistic or  musical talents to the maximum.

  But after this high point in our lives, we start to get tired, slower, and limited. Our health begins to deteriorate, our strengths are not so great  and our goals are no longer as important. We slowly begin to deteriorate and lose interest in certain parts of our lives that we once were so obsessed with. We also begin to see loved ones deteriorate and die around us.  We may develop other interests that are less ambitious.  We start to get “older.” 

And this is when we reach the point that we once began at.  Our lowest point as far as strengths and abilities .  But at the same time , this return to our “lowest points” is also the return to our selves .  The return to our natural beings.  The return to the real nature of our existence. We are no longer fixated on our ambitions, our dreams, and our goals.  We are no longer lost in our thoughts and fantasies about what we should do and who we should become.  We simply face the stage in life where we have to accept who we really are.

 We begin to be forced to deny our egos and accept our true selves . Some of us receive this stage in life with appreciation and joy.  Others receive it with regrets and desperation. But we all receive it eventually. 

It is almost like returning to dust… 

Returning to nature.   

Something as simple

Something as simple as doing laundry for a poor man 

can make a big impact on his life. 

Something as simple as delivering food to a hungry person

can make them feel rich again. 

Something as simple as accompanying a lady during her grief

 can make her feel whole again. 

Something as simple as helping clean up their apartment 

can make a sick person feel like they are in heaven. 

It’s the simple things we do out of true care and concern that can make a great difference in people’s lives. 

I am thankful for experiencing this almost everyday. 

D.C. , here we go !

   
Mission: educational tour.  

Destination:  Washington D.C. 

Subject: a whole bunch of kids and parents

Means of transportation: Bus

Goal : keep kids quiet and in control while learning about US history 

Instrument : patience and good walking shoes 

Tuesday , 6 am:  My son and I are going on a field trip to the capital of the world.. We are in the bus right now. Sleep deprived. But excited.  Let’s see how this goes.  

7:30 am.  The bus breaks down.  Don’t know what’s wrong with it.  Seating down waiting for a replacement bus.  Still in Florida.  It’s getting hot inside a bus with 5o+ people. 

Wednesday 8:00. Had a good night sleep.  

 Heading now to Mount Vernon. It’s cold and cloudy. 

6:00 pm.  Visited zoo, White House,  Newseum, FDR  and MLK Memorials. Great experience .  Did not see the president.  Pizza for dinner with 50+ kids screaming.  Eating like a king.  My son is having a good time. 

Thursday 8 am.  Heading out to DC again. 

12 pm. A very emotional and exciting  

 experience at Vietnam and Korean War memorials.  Tears in my eyes as I contemplated on so many statues of soldiers .    Lincoln memorial was awesome. The light rain and cold did not take away our joy.  Our tour guide (Mrs Freeman) was great. My son really seemed to appreciate the memorials . 

 

Walking by the Capitol


 

6 pm. Visited the National Archives,  the  Capitol, and Arlington National Cemetery.  Did a lot of walking (and eating).   Went to bed as soon as kids quieted down . 

  Friday 8:45 am.  Left hotel for the last time.  Good breakfast.   Visited Smithsonian meuseum.  Walked and stood under the rain from one museum to another.   But it was worth it. 

4:30 pm. Heading out on bus to eat dinner. It’s been a long and tiresome day, but fun. 

Saturday 9 am .   Return to Florida, finally seeing some sunshine. It was a long trip back home.  My son slept most of the trip. Would do it all over again. 

  

Jesus versus Trump: a clear distinction

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For those who still think that Trump represents conservatism and the part of America that is considered Evangelical or born again Christian, consider the following quotes from both Jesus and Trump.  You can be the judge:

Foreigners

Jesus: ” And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”  (John 10:16)

Trump: “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me –”

Greed

Jesus: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15)

Trump: “The point is, you can never be too greedy.”

War

Jesus: “Blessed are the peace makers.” (Matthew 5:9)

Trump: “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am,”

Violence

Jesus: ” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”  (Matthew 5:32)

Trump: “… I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”   –  “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”

Enemies

Jesus: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, ” (Luke 6:35)

Trump: “There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

Wealth

Jesus: “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24).  –   “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)

Trump: “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

Children

Jesus: “Let the children come to me… theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Trump: “I like kids. I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them. I’ll supply funds, and she’ll take care of the kids.”

Ego
Jesus:  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ..”  (Matthew 5:5)

Trump:  “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault.”
Any questions…?

Shame on us

  
“Let’s make America great again!”

Crowd: “Yes!!”

“Let’s secure our borders and bring jobs back to the United States!”

Crowd: “Hurray!”

“The illegal immigrants are rapists and criminals!”

Crowd: “Yeah!”

“I’ll build a wall and make Mexico pay for it!”

Crowd: “Hurray!”

“We’ll keep Muslims from entering our country !”

Crowd: “Yes!”

“Sit down ! … Get him out of here !”

Crowd: “Woohoo!”

” I could shoot somebody and not lose voters …!”

Crowd: “Yeah!”

“Blood coming out of her wherever!”

Crowd: “Ha ha!”

“I want to punch him in the face!”

Crowd: “Yeah!” 

“… That guy who is seriously overweight went crazy!”

…. And so it goes. The crowd keeps blindly cheering and supporting a discriminatory and offensive billionaire , just because he is entertaining, loud and promises America to be “great again.”

Shame on us.