Monday, May 22, 2006

The Simple Life

I saw an episode of “Going Tribal” on the Discovery channel featuring a story about the Dassanech people. The Dassanech are a tribe of people living in drought stricken Africa.
They survive by hunting crocodiles and gather drinking water from a “well” that looks more like a mud hole than a source of life. Yet despite living on the edge of starvation they are hospitable to the show’s adventurous star, Bruce Parry.

When I say hospitable that doesn’t quite describe it. Here these people don’t eat all day until a crocodile is killed and cooked. And when one is found, they eat no matter what time of the day or night…as it could be the only meal they get for days. Yet they shared, with a smile, their meager sustenance with Bruce.

They are happy, they dance, and share. They share everything. On one of the hunts only a small crocodile is found. Yet this small feast is openly shared with the village, including the outsider and his camera crew. They lead a simple life. But one in which we all should learn from.

Here there are no school shootings. No roving bands of gang members dressed in hundred dollar designer sports shoes killing each other over “territory” they can never own. Here there are no pathetic multimillionaire Hollywood stars starving themselves to bone thin sickness for the approval of their pathetic peers. There is no bulimia here, no anorexia. The only reason any of these people look like they are starving is because they are.

They are not concerned with “fitting in”, looking cool, or living a reality show lifestyle. There are no microwaves serving up 2 minute meals for people too impatient to wait that long. There are no designer clothes, “bling-bling” crap, or “divas” here. No 5 dollar bottles of water and no pretentious politicians. Here there are only survivors. Here there is love. Real love not swallowed up in religious regulations.

Yet in all of their trouble they have something we don’t. Trouble I might add that would cause the most “Survivor” minded people in our culture to crumble into their tear soaked lattes.

Here they share their food. Even if sharing might jeopardize their own lives. Here they protect each other. They are not a bunch of ego driven, selfish, superficial “go getters” living in fear of road rage or workplace shootings. Here they care for each other and for strangers who come to visit with their camera crews.

Here there are no Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, or whatever other moniker you want to attach to second rate criminal “organizations.” Organizations that claim to care about their brothers and kill over the color of dollar store bandannas. There are no MP3 players, no X-boxes, no over diagnosis of ADHD or self sufficiency sucking welfare systems. No drive through marriage or divorce establishments. No people living check to check throwing away their last dollar on foolish dreams of winning the lottery or overpriced bottles of weight loss pills. No workaholics drowning their “problems” in liquor.

Yet in all of their “lack” they seem to have something right. They have something that we do not. Despite the fact that they are faced with extinction they care for one another.

They take care of each other’s children.

They take care of the old and sick. They take care of strangers. They are the epitome of everything we watch Oprah to learn. Here there is no Dr. Phil but there is plenty of kindness, love, and discipline to go around.

We do not need to go and live in a drought stricken wasteland to “find ourselves” or find the same sense of caring that these people have. We do not have to give up our extravagant lifestyles to get a sense of direction…though for some that might be the only thing that would work. We need to rethink our priorities.

These noble people live in a wasteland that threatens their very existence. But so do we.

The difference is they have enough sense to realize it and we do not. The difference is that the elements threaten their very lives but here our ignorance threatens ours. Our selfish, “me centered” lifestyles are more dangerous than any drought or looming plague. It is not the lack of food that we are dying from here. It is the lack of caring.

Soon the Dassanech people could be facing a famine. But we are already living in one.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Be all that you can be...gangsta

"...gangs are encouraging their members to join the military to learn urban warfare techniques they can teach when they go back to their neighborhoods."
- Scott Barfield, a Defense Department gang detective at Fort Lewis in Washington state.

I'm all for second chances. A gang member who joins the military seeking a new life is I would think on a good course. However that is not always the case. In two articles I recently ran across the issue of gangs in the military is being addressed. Finally.

This is not a new issue. I remember seeing an article on such a thing as far back as the mid 90's.

But we are in the middle of a war now.

"The news about the military placing unstable soldiers back into combat
comes two weeks after the Chicago Tribune reported that the FBI announced
that it was investigating connections between US soldiers and gangs in the
Chicago,13319,96056,00.html area."

Some military officials, like their civilian law enforcement counterparts, are brushing the issue aside.

"Stoleson said he once reported to a supervisor that he suspected a company of soldiers in Iraq was rife with gang members.
"My E-8 [supervising sergeant] told me not to ruffle their feathers because they were doing a good job," he said."

"Christopher Grey, spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, did not deny the existence of gang members in the military, but he disputed that the problem is rampant -- or even significant. "

Others are not...thankfully.

"Barfield said a big concern is what such gang members trained in urban warfare will do when they return home.
He pointed to Marine Lance Cpl. Andres Raya, a suspected Norteno gang member who shot two officers with a rifle outside a liquor store in Ceres, Calif., on Jan. 9, 2005, before police returned fire and killed him. One officer died, and the other was wounded by the 19-year-old Raya, who was high on cocaine. Raya had spent seven months in Iraq before returning to Camp Pendleton near San Diego."

Not "significant" Mr. Grey???
When you hear of reports of MS13 clearing a house in the US like a trained SWAT team you had better pay attention. When you hear the story of the El Rukns, who in the 80's hired their services out to terrorists you had better ruffle some feathers. When you hear stories about Latin Kings seeking out people trained in explosives and urban warfare...well you better redefine what your idea of "significant" is.

Think about the situation in New Orleans. Imagine if the police officers pinned down by gangs and gunfire at night had been pinned down by gang members who were trained snipers.
I would consider that pretty significant too.

"A law enforcement source in Chicago said police see some evidence of soldiers working with gangs here. Police recently stopped a vehicle and found 10 military flak jackets inside. A gang member in the vehicle told investigators his brother was a Marine and sent the jackets home, the source said."

While I support any gang member trying to get out and start a new life...I fear that this is often not going to be the case. At least if the reports coming from Iraq are accurate.

I am all for "being all you can be".

Unless what you want to be is a gang member fully trained for urban warfare by our own military.

For more information on gangs in the military contact me at:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Don't Grow Up Stupid

“Stupid is as stupid does.”
-Forrest Gump

Warren Jeffs the leader of a cult like offshoot of the Mormon church has made the FBI’s most wanted list. Quite simply because of his forcing underage girls ranging from 13 on up into marriage to men who already have multiple wives. Among other ridiculous claims, Jeffs cult teaches that women should not have an education. Basically he wants to keep his victims “stupid.”

But why?

The same reason Hitler did. The same reason most cults and deviant group leaders do. The less you know. The less you think for yourself the more likely you will believe every line of crap the leader feeds you.

With gangs it sounds like this:
“Its about respect!” (While they get you to shoot someone THEY don’t like.)
“We got love for you!” (While they let YOU rot in jail without so much as a phone call.)

With religious fanatics it sounds like this:
“It proves how much you love God if you do this.” (Funny how what ‘God’ wants happens to be the same thing the leader wants and what would benefit his pocketbook the most.)
“Waging jihad is God’s way.” (Yet it never occurs to these ‘holy warriors’ that the all powerful god they claim to worship wouldn’t need some human being to take vengeance. I guess they don’t think God has the stomach for this.)

With cult conspiracy leaders it sounds like this:
“That’s what the government wants you to believe.” (Yet the all powerful secret shadow government for all of its sinister power isn’t smart enough to outwit ‘Joe Smith’ the local mechanic turned cult leader.)
“If you don’t believe what we say, you are just like a sheep.” (They claim you are falling for the lie of everyday life while they are somehow enlightened.)

When Adolf Hitler came to power one of the things he did first was get rid of the educated people. Why? Because he had enough sense to know that people who are knowledgeable wouldn’t fall for his racist genocidal rhetoric.

If a leader can keep you focused on drugs, hate, or endless paranoid conspiracies he can keep your mind off of his lies. If all you think about is how much you hate a Crip you won’t have time to think about why you are supposed to hate someone who wears a different color rag than you. If all you think about is how God wants you to wage jihad on the Great Satan you will never have to stop and think about why it is that your god needs YOUR help to kill someone.

Now getting a PhD or Master’s degree doesn’t automatically make you smart. In fact I’ve known a lot of people with “degrees” that didn’t have enough sense to think their way out of a paper bag. Memorizing information and regurgitating it for a test does not make you smart. It only shows that you have some time on your hands.

On the other end I’ve known people with degrees and those without who are sheer geniuses. They think for themselves. They read. They research. They get an education. They check facts and measure what is being said. It doesn’t matter if your education comes from Harvard or the school of hard knocks but get one somewhere. And double check everything you learn.

Think for yourself.

A lot of people want to keep you stupid. If they can keep you stupid they can manipulate you. The last thing they want is for you to think for yourself. A lot of gang leaders preach “education” as part of their new outlook. Their new laws. But while preaching education they tell kids to sell poison to people in their community. Tell kids that you aren’t a man if you don’t beat the crap out of someone because they looked at you wrong. They tell you that in order to be successful you have to wear their colors and do what they say.

Their “education” idea is a lie.

Hitler had “re-education camps.” That was the place where he had millions of people executed because of their race, personal beliefs, physical disabilities, or because of their ability to think for themselves. So whether it is your gang leaders preaching about the “importance of education” or Adolf Hitler decorating a death camp up using “re-education” as the name, it is the same.

Gangs, cults, terrorists, and deviant groups of all types don’t want you to think for yourself. They want you to blindly follow every paranoid belief, ranting rhetoric, and conspiracy fed idea they have without every actually thinking about it. The last thing they want you to do is actually question anything they feed you.

They want to keep you stupid.

For more information on gangs, deviant groups, and threat management write me at,

If you are involved in a gang and need help, write Stephanie at,

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Home of the Brave.

“ The only thing you respect is stupidity. Your whole way of life is bullsh*t! Macho is bullsh*t!”

“ But it's all I got!”
-From the movie, 187.

Do a search through some myspace sites or some of the related personal blogs. Search for kids who are in gangs and read their profiles. Over and over again under the site question saying: What are you afraid of? They answer the same…”nothing.”

What crap.

Those who yammer the loudest about how they are not afraid are the ones most afraid. This whole cycle of tough, bad, macho, hard etc…is all crap.

Every gangster I’ve known spends most of their time trying to convince everyone else of how tough and fearless they are. Not even realizing that no one else cares because everyone else is busy trying to do the same thing.

Like the movie 187 points out…it becomes painfully obvious. Being hardcore, being tough, being fearless is nothing more than a lie. And sadly for many of these kids it is all they have. Their home becomes a façade of bravery. It isn’t real.

Their parents didn’t protect them. Or weren’t there for them. Or were too busy with everything else to notice them. So they grew up afraid. Grew up being their own parent. And got sucked into a lifestyle of pretending to not be the one thing that they are the most, afraid. All the while trying to convince everyone of just how brave they are.

This doesn’t mean that these kids are weak or cowards. It means that they think all they have is war because its all they’ve ever had.

Imagine being 7 years old and knowing nothing but pain. 7 years old and feeling like you have no alternative but to join a gang. Not just any gang but one of the most dangerous gangs on the planet.

Imagine knowing nothing but fighting, anger, hate, and violence since you were able to remember. Family that is only there to help you learn to make war. Imagine fighting from the age of 7 to the age of 16.

Then at 16 getting pregnant. 6 months later losing your child because a bullet from a rival gang tore through your stomach. The rival gang member killing your child and your cousin because he “thought your cousin was trying to flirt with his girl.” Sound familiar? That’s what the war between the Bloods and Crips is said to have started over. But this is a different story. One where a little girl held her cousin in her arms as he died. One where she continues to watch her family spiral into an endless war of revenge. One where bravery is an illusion.

Imagine living with blood on your hands. Imagine knowing that joining the gang killed your child. Joining the gang and being in the wrong place at the wrong time made it where you could never have children again. Imagine seeing your loved one bleeding and dieing in your nightmares over and over again.

This isn’t a what if. This is a real story. And yet even with all of this hate. With all of the violence, bloodshed, and personal loss. This little girl grows up and refuses to carry on a legacy of death. This little girl grows up and lowers her flag. Not because she is disloyal. But because she is tired of living a lie. She has seen the truth.

Tired of living the lie of Gangsterism. She is braver than any of you still carrying guns fighting someone else’s war. If anyone has a right to seek revenge she does. But she isn’t. She has more heart than any of those OGs preaching the “loyalty” garbage on the street. She still has fears. But her bravery is in acknowledging that she has fears.

Her courage is in her willingness to reach out to you.

If you are in a gang and need someone who has been there. If you need someone to talk to, someone to listen…email her at:

She is one of the bravest people I’ve met.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Reality Show

“Two cars at a light on a Saturday night. In the back seat there was a gun. Words were passed…a shotgun blast. Troubled times they had come, to my hometown.”
-Bruce Springsteen

I was waiting to pick up a child in a foster home located in a very small town in the South. When I say small, I mean with a population of only about 3,000 people. Not a town one would think gangs would be operating in.

Especially the people who live there.

But right there across the street from the foster home they stood. A set of Vice Lords had been operating in the town for about 10 years at the time. Mostly young people are visible in the neighborhood as the adult leaders kept a rather low profile.

Most people if they knew about the gang would assume them to be “wannabes”. Of course they are “wannabes” who carry guns, deal drugs, and wear colors of the gang they claim to associate with. Which in reality just makes the term wannabe null and void.

But how did the group get into this small farming community? We know that family problems exist everywhere despite the locale or economic status of the area. And where families are broken and peer groups are unsupervised and unloved gangs tend to form. But how would a group of neighborhood kids become affiliated with one of the largest gangs in the country?

There are many reasons for gangs moving into new areas. These include purposeful recruitment of young people by adult leaders seeking to expand their drug market. It also includes young people who are transplants.

Kids who have moved from a bigger city to a smaller town and had gang affiliation in the big city. Those kids may have been low on the totem pole in their old neighborhoods but when they come to a new town they can start their own set. There they can be the gang leader. The superstar, the OG.

This is one reason that even Nation Gangs in different parts of the country will have some variation in the rules, symbols, and identifiers from the gang of origin. Basically some of these kids get information mixed up but make it as law in the new neighborhood.

Sometimes they create hybrid gangs in the new town. I’ve known a kid personally who attempted this. He took elements of his old gang, the Gangster Disciples, and started a new group in his town. One that had similar symbols of the GDN but that is where the similarity ended. Here in this small town he could be the big dog. He could create his own gang without violating the laws of his old gang.

Regardless of the reasons gangs move into smaller towns and suburbs they can only do so if one element is present.

It has to be a place where kids are losing hope. Where their parents are either absent, abusive, or role models for violence themselves. Our culture acts like it has no idea how to parent anymore. We are turning to Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Nanny 911 for basic parenting skills. The term “reality show” has become an oxymoron.

I cannot explain exactly where this parental impotence comes from. But I know where it is leading. To the formation of gangs and youth violence in places you and I might never have dreamed of in the past. To school grounds where bullets fly to backwoods neighborhoods where drugs like Meth are an easy way to get rich.

The reality is that kids only do what they have been allowed to do. We are allowing them to kill one another because parenting has become something that has to be taught on a “realty show.”