Stop The Violence 2014

Stop The Violence Movement
It’s Wednesday … and it’s Hump Day, y’all!

So much to be concerned with, so much to deal with, I wonder how some of us make it. Do you? Perhaps, we each do have angels and a Higher Power (call It what you will!) keeping watch over each of us! Have you checked lately? I mean, we’re still here, right?!

As a new year sets in, it seems that folks may be very tense, uneasy, even desperate. Sometimes, I think back to when I was homeless, ate at soup kitchens here in Ft. Lauderdale, and occasionally had to sleep on the beach. Now, this might surprise you, too, but I was working in Weston, FL at a high end car wash … so I even had a job. This is a chapter in my life that you will read about in my next book. But let me tell you something … I bounced around because I couldn’t afford an apartment on a car wash salary, since my ex had divorced me during my last months at Broward County Jail where I served a year for violation of probation.

I, too, have had my bouts with anger and violence and this is why I do what I do today … yoga, meditation, prayer, and working out in general. I have developed a relationship with myself that doesn’t allow me to jeopardize my “freedom.” No feeling or person can take control over my own emotions. If I have to cry, I let it fly. If I am happy, the whole world (exaggerating a bit!) might know. Once in my life, I wanted to kill myself. Once in my life, I wanted to eliminate someone else … who had actually tried to eliminate ME! There were many moments of self doubt, confusion and anger. The recovery is a process; it doesn’t happen over night.

This past Monday, two horrific events occurred right here in Florida. A man and his wife were watching a matinee at a luxury movie theatre in Wesley Chapel, a city not too far from Tampa. The man had taken out his phone to text his 3 year old daughter during the previews of the movie. A retired Tampa police officer sat near he and his wife, and asked the man to stop using his phone. The previews continued and supposedly, the man again asked the gent to stop using his cell phone. Yelling, pushing and popcorn throwing began. It was interrupted by a gun shot … from the retired police captain’s hand gun. This was not a gang incident nor a “hood” squabble, but it was just as I described it. All parties were Caucasians so there was no apparent racial undertones. The gent died, his wife was shot in the hand as she tried to protect her husband and the retired officer was arrested. The three year old now has no father …

Perhaps, you’ve heard the other horror story of the woman in West Palm Beach, FL who was recently divorced in December 2013, and was struggling quite a bit. Both she and her ex-husband were (he still is!) well known realtors in West Palm Beach, but their marriage was over. The woman, Mrs. Jennifer Berman, was living in a foreclosed home and had to actually sell her father’s watch to buy groceries for she and her two teenaged child prodigies in music who attended a well known private school there. So Monday, Mrs. Berman sent her husband a text telling him that she was going to kill their two children … then herself! He got there in time to see that she was not kidding. When he arrived, he found all three of them shot to death.

Now, there are some folks that know that violence is not exclusive to any specific race, nor financial circumstances, though economic challenges have been known to make people “snap”, so to speak! This is one of the reasons that I feel qualified to discuss this theme of “Stop The Violence” because I’ve been there, too! No, I was never a gang member nor a hit man, but I do know what it feels like emotionally to want to harm someone … with a firearm! I allowed myself to get involved in situations that were not correct for me, and that were not my personal problems, though I allowed myself to get sucked in. Once looking around one day, and, being in a physical place I detested and a spiritual place of discomfort, I sought my way to a more peaceful realm. I enjoy sharing that realm on different levels, especially in a workshop entitled, “Stop The Violence!”

Enjoy your Hump Day, and, please … please … do whatever you can to “Stop The Violence!”

John I. Cook, Director

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