Tuesdays in Jail

This is an excerpt from the incredibly moving book “Tuesdays in Jail: What I Learned Teaching Journaling to Inmates” by Tina Welling.

What do you want me to do with this?” Phillip asked me and nodded to the journal I’d passed to an officer to give him.

Phillip looked to be in his late thirties, healthy, strong, very attentive, and nicely mannered. Called me ma’am. But I saw something behind those hazel eyes. Chaotic mind spins, I suspected, that kept his thoughts circling like hungry coyotes around an injured elk. He came down to meet with me alone from being locked up in a maximum-security cell. He was still locked up, but so was I, since we each sat in a separate locked-down room divided by a grate. This is typically the way I meet with maximum security inmates when I conduct my weekly journaling workshops at my local county jail.

I told him that the journal was his, adding that no one in my seven years had ever had a journal taken away from them or read by anyone.  “However,” I said, “don’t incriminate yourself.” I explained that journaling was all about the inner life — thoughts, emotions, memories, dreams, fears, and hopes. I said, “Write about that.”

I suggested we do a quick exercise, my old standby for when I had no clues yet about what an inmate needed.  “Name three people you admire and enjoy.  They can be real people or movie or book characters, dead or alive, family members or strangers.” Next I asked him to write down the qualities he admired about these people. I gave him a few minutes, and then I asked about his list.  “Did you come up with three people?”

Phillip said, “Yes, ma’am. I put down my uncle, my older brother, and my grandfather.”

“And what did you put down for the characteristics you admire in them?”

Phillip read from his journal.  “Honesty, trustworthiness, hardworking, fun to be around, kind, intelligent, interesting, real likable. Ma’am.”

I said, “All those qualities belong to you too, Phillip, or at least the potential for them, the seed of them, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to recognize them in others.”

He looked stunned.

His eyes glistened.

Then a faint smile.  Then the smile grew bigger and Phillip got excited. He dropped the “yes, ma’ams.”

“Dude, you don’t know what you just did for me. Dude, you don’t know what you just said. Aw, dude.”

He blinked back tears.

I blinked back mine.

“I talk shit to myself. I’m up there in that crummy cell all alone and I tell myself what a piece of crap I am and I just want to  …  you know.”

I didn’t know. But after he told me his older brother was his idol and that he had committed suicide this past year, I guessed I did know. But this moment felt as if a skinny beam of light was shining into deep darkness.

I assigned Phillip homework.  “This week fill a couple of pages in your journal with a list of your good qualities. And then you’ll have this to remind yourself.”

Our time was up.

Why were we all so hard on ourselves, so quick to absorb blame, feel shame, head for the lowest possible judgment of ourselves? I was guilty of this.  The first hint of an edgy relationship, and I’m all over myself like ants on a picnic crumb, devouring my actions and words, finding fault in both. I used the harshest language on myself, set higher standards for my actions than for anyone else’s. It could take a long time of self-recrimination for me to realize who I was at heart, to revive trust in my worthiness.

I like to tell the inmates a story I heard from my meditation teacher about a time when the Dalai Lama met with a large group of American Buddhist teachers who had gathered in Dharamsala, India.

The Dalai Lama asked, “What is the biggest issue for American spiritual seekers?”

The Buddhist teachers said, “Self-esteem.”

But the Dalai Lama didn’t understand what the term meant.

The Americans tried to translate it for him. After several attempts to explain, one teacher said, “They don’t love themselves.”

And the Dalai Lama cried.

About Tina Welling:
Tina Welling is the author of Tuesdays in Jail: What I Learned Teaching Journaling to Inmates. She also wrote four other books, as well as nonfiction that has appeared in national magazines and seven anthologies. The recipient of a Wyoming Arts Council writing fellowship, she has been conducting her Writing Wild workshops for ten years. Visit her online at http://www.tinawelling.com.

Excerpted from the book from “Tuesdays in Jail: What I Learned Teaching Journaling to Inmates”. Copyright ©2022 by Tina Welling. Printed with permission from New World Library.

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Consciously Detaching

By Steve Taylor (An Excerpt from “Extraordinary Awakenings”)

A significant lesson we can learn from the shifters who have experienced transformation through turmoil is to live in a mode of detachment. By this I don’t mean a state of emotional detachment, in which we are indifferent to other people or world affairs. I mean a state in which we don’t derive our identity and well-being from external things or mental concepts; I mean a state of being inwardly content and self-sufficient without attachment to possessions, achievements, roles, status, and ambitions.

In psychological terms the dissolution of attachments is the most important aspect of the shifters’ transformations. Since attachments are the building blocks of the ego, the dissolution of attachments leads to the dissolution of the ego itself, which allows a latent higher self to be born.

In this section I will show you how to practice a conscious form of detachment.

Becoming Aware of Your Attachments
First, we need to become aware of our attachments. Sometimes we have carried attachments for so long, and they have attached themselves to us so subtly, that we may not even be conscious of them.

There are so many different types of attachments that it’s difficult to describe them all. In their most obvious and “heaviest” form, attachments occur in the form of addiction — physical addiction to substances like drugs, cigarettes, food, or chocolate, and psychological addiction to electronic devices or to social media. Slightly less overtly, we may be attached to material objects, such as money and possessions. We may also be attached to our own bodies as material objects, caring excessively about our appearance or feeling depressed about the process of aging.

Less overtly still but perhaps most significant of all are our conceptual attachments. For example, we might be attached to our conceptual identity as a member of a national or ethnic group or to our identity and role as a spouse, parent, sibling, and so on. We might be attached to a concept of our status or achievements, feeling that we are “important” and successful people, superior to others. We may be attached in a similar way to our beliefs, our hopes, and our ambitions.

All these attachments build our sense of identity and hold together our ego as a structure. As already suggested, you can picture them as the building blocks of the ego.

In my workshops I often give people a list of different types of attachments and ask them to consider how attached they are to each one. Awareness is liberating in itself. To an extent, simply being aware of your attachments helps you to become free of them.

At the same time, we can take steps to free ourselves from attachments, which I will guide you through now.

Detaching through Spiritual Practice
One of the best ways to help free ourselves from attachments is simply to practice meditation or to follow a spiritual path of some form. Fundamentally, we need attachments because of our separate and fragile ego. Our attachments bolster and reinforce the ego so that it no long feels so vulnerable. So the most fundamental way of releasing ourselves from attachments is to heal the ego itself. This means cultivating a state of inner well-being and wholeness, which removes the need to seek identity and well-being outside ourselves. Without a sense of ego-separation, we won’t feel a sense of lack and fragility, so we will be able to let go of our attachments.

This is the main aim of meditation: to soften the ego as a structure so that its boundaries become weaker and we transcend our normal sense of separation. Meditation helps us to feel connected rather than separate, as if we were participating rather than just observing, without a sense of lack or fragility. It’s as if a broken fragment has become part of the whole again.

This is both a long- and short-term effect of meditation. If you had a good meditation this morning, you probably experienced the sense of connection and inner wholeness I’ve just described. Perhaps it lingered for an hour or two afterward, or perhaps longer — perhaps it’s still inside you now. However, it usually fades away once we have returned to our busy everyday lives and needs to be rekindled by another meditation practice later, or the following day.

At the same time, over the years or decades that you have practiced meditation, an ongoing sense of wholeness has been building up inside you. Even though you may still experience a more intense sense of wholeness when you meditate, the baseline of your normal state has changed. Over the years, your ego boundaries have become softer; your sense of self has become less fragile and separate. As a result — even though you may not be consciously aware of it, since the change has been gradual — your need for psychological attachments has diminished, and you have become less attached to external sources of identity and well-being.

Every spiritual path is a movement beyond ego-separateness and toward connection and union. This is part of the reason why most spiritual traditions emphasize cultivating compassion and practicing acts of service and kindness. By serving others, we transcend our own self-centered desires and ambitions and so move beyond ego-separateness. In this sense, practicing service and altruism can also indirectly help to dissolve our psychological attachments.

Most spiritual traditions also advocate detachment more explicitly. They emphasize a life of simplicity and moderation, without attachment to sensory pleasures or unnecessary possessions. They encourage us to be content with our present life situation rather than being attached to ambitions. They encourage us to be humble rather than to be attached to notions of status and achievement.

Any path or practice that helps you to cultivate inner well-being and wholeness will reduce your need for psychological attachments. You won’t need attachments anymore in the same way that a completed building doesn’t need scaffolding or support.

Breaking Attachments
There are also more direct ways we can use to liberate ourselves from psychological attachments. While following spiritual practices, we can simply make a conscious effort to weaken our attachments. This might sound challenging, but it’s important to remember that, although our psychological attachments may have originated in response to psychological need, in some cases (particularly if you have already begun to meditate or to follow a spiritual practice) they continue as habits. In other words, the attachments may remain intact even if we no longer have a psychological need for them, simply as habit patterns. This makes it fairly easy for us to free ourselves from them.

And even if this is not the case — that is, even if there is still some degree of psychological need — you might be surprised at how quickly you can adjust to the absence of the attachment. After an initial sense of loss and insecurity, you’ll quickly grow stronger. Your essential self will grow into the space left by the attachment, bringing a greater sense of wholeness.

I experienced this many years ago when I gave up smoking. After smoking heavily (twenty-five to thirty roll-up cigarettes a day) for twelve years, I decided to stop on my thirtieth birthday. I had heard many stories about the difficulties of giving up smoking, but for me — once I’d covered the physical withdrawal symptoms by chewing nicotine gum — it wasn’t such an ordeal. After about three weeks of conscious effort (which in itself was not particularly arduous), I was surprised to find that the urge to smoke quickly died away. But what I found even more surprising was the feeling of new strength and wholeness that filled me. It was as if the part of myself that I had sacrificed to my addiction had been given back to me in a natural process of adjustment and healing. I’m sure that this was because, over the previous year or so, I had undergone significant psychological healing. I had started meditating regularly and become a vegetarian. I had also met my future wife. As a result, I probably no longer had a strong psychological need to smoke. My sense of self was more connected and whole, and so I didn’t need the support of cigarettes anymore. To a large extent, I only had the habit to deal with rather than the psychological need. If there was still some psychological need, it evaporated in the process of giving up the attachment.

I would recommend making a similar attempt to weaken your attachments. For example, you might try to weaken your attachment to money and possessions by refraining from buying unnecessary things and following a simpler, more frugal lifestyle. You might try to weaken your attachment to your appearance by no longer wearing fashionable clothes or dyeing your hair. You may try to weaken your attachment to status and attention by making a conscious effort to stop obsessively posting on social media and incessantly trying to increase your number of followers.

This might feel uncomfortable at first but — particularly if you’re already following a spiritual practice — you’ll quickly begin to feel a new sense of inner strength and wholeness. Even if there is still some degree of psychological need for the attachment, a process of inner healing will take place, and your essential self will grow into the space left by the attachment, filling you with a sense of new strength and wholeness.

About Steve Taylor, PhD:
Steve Taylor, PhD, is the author of “Extraordinary Awakenings” and many other bestselling books. He’s senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University and the chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. Steve’s articles and essays have been published in over 100 academic journals, magazines, and newspapers and he blogs for Scientific American and Psychology Today. Visit him online at www.StevenMTaylor.com.

Adapted from the book from “Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation”. Copyright ©2021 by Steve Taylor. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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Dawn of an Era of Well-Being

By Dr. Ervin Laszlo & Fred Tsao (An excerpt from “Dawn of an Era of Well-Being: New Paths to a Better World”)

Humankind today is facing monumental challenges—the sustainability of natural resources, climate change, wealth inequalities, breakdowns in social structures, the impact of artificial intelligence, and of course the threat of pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of how the universe is constantly rebalancing itself to offset forces moving in contradiction to its natural energy, which in Chinese culture is called the Dao. An impact of the virus has been to slow us down and force us all to reflect, to open our eyes to the need for change, to see that a new normal is both required and also imminent. And the crisis also showed that we can heal if we choose a new way.

It is clear that we are at a crossroads. We have a choice—either to continue down the road beset by many crises caused by divisiveness and separation or find the road toward unity, well-being, and thriving. Change is needed on all levels: change for the individual, change for society, and change in the consciousness that defines what we do and who we are. It is imperative that we achieve constructive change on all levels if we are to avoid even greater crises heading our way with the direst of consequences.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by a sense of chaos, but amidst the chaos lies the possibility of connecting with each other, reconnecting to our roots, and creating a shift in our consciousness. Now we can set about creating a new and better era for the human family, an era marked by individual and collective well-being.

This task and possibility inspires and motivates the ideas put forward in this book. It is the hope and expectation of the authors that they will prove to be of practical value as the human community sets about the monumental task of building a better world, rising from the global health crisis as a phoenix rises from the ashes of the past.

The universe is more like a great thought than like a great machine. This realization, enunciated by cosmologist James Jeans over a hundred years ago, is dawning on many scientists today. It brings cosmology close to religion and spirituality and opens the way to reconsidering the idea of a divine element in nature in terms acceptable to science.

Coherence in society calls for working together and creating the system where “I” becomes “WE”—where the parts maintain their unique identity while working together to maintain the integral coherence of the whole that they form. This is the principle we obtain from the quantum paradigm. Public policy is the field for the application of this principle. It defines the coexistence of unique but not separate individuals in coherent wholes, whether these wholes are states and nations, or businesses or social and cultural groups.

We live in an integral quantum universe and not in a mechanistic world where whole and parts are separate, or even separable. In the intrinsically whole quantum universe, the whole is the existential context for the existence of the parts. Not only in abstract theory, but also in concrete practice, the whole and the part need to be treated as one, and for the good of the part, the whole needs to receive priority attention.

There is nothing more important in any group and in any society than having an informed and responsible leader. The quantum leader—the leader acting on the wholeness principle deriving from the quantum paradigm—is one who focuses on aligning, collaborating, and creating conditions conducive to the flourishing of life.

The leader effectively serving the good of society serves the interest of all life on the planet. This requirement may appear idealistic and even utopian in the context of today’s dominant ideology in business and politics. But the post-pandemic era requires radical changes in our idea and ideals of leadership. The quantum paradigm offers the necessary fundamental reorientation.

The universe is constantly calibrating with itself and its systems, reflecting collaboration in diversity. This is a dynamic process of alignment with its elements to arrive at harmonic balance. We need to awaken to the deep truth of this arrangement, and we can do so because we are creative. At its core, humanity cannot go against nature. There is a need to awaken to the fact that all things in the natural world are continually aligning and realigning with each other, collaborating in natural movement as the elements work toward their flourishing.

The goal is to achieve harmony and unity amidst diversity to make human society a reflection of the reality of nature. By integrating the Western life science of consciousness with traditional Chinese wisdom a foundational structure for universal ethics will guide humankind’s journey toward Great Unity, a society in which diversity is not only respected but deployed in the process of creation and collaboration. It is only in diversity that great things are made. The same things brought together create more of the same things, but diversity creates something extraordinary.

About Ervin László:
Ervin László is a Hungarian philosopher of science, systems theorist, integral theorist (and originally a concert pianist) who has published about 75 books and over 400 papers. An advocate of the theory of quantum consciousness, Laszlo has a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne and is the recipient of four honorary PhDs (from the United States, Canada, Finland, and Hungary). His many awards and distinctions include the Peace Prize of Japan, the Goi Award (Tokyo 2002), the International Mandir of Peace Prize (Assisi 2005), and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize (2004 and 2005). Formerly Professor of Philosophy, Systems Science, and Futures Studies in various universities in the US, Europe, and the Far East, Laszlo lectures worldwide. Today he lives in a four hundred year-old former chapel in the hills of Tuscany.

“Dawn of an Era of Well-Being” by Ervin Laszlo and Fred Tsao is available on Amazon. For more information, visit www.ervinlaszlobooks.com or follow @thelaszloinstitute on Facebook. You can also download a free copy of Dr. Laszlo’s other book “The Portable Laszlo” HERE.

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Foods That Can Improve Your Mental Health

By Dr. Robert Kiltz

The link between diet and mental health is a relatively new discovery, but not all that surprising considering the way our bodily systems are all interconnected.

Interestingly, the majority (over 95%) of the body’s serotonin (a.k.a. the feel-good hormone) is produced in the gut. There’s a whole network of neural tissue lining our guts that make up the enteric nervous system. This is why the gut is often referred to as “the second brain” and is so intimately linked to mental health. There’s a lot more going on in the G.I. tract than just digestion. We’ve all seen this first hand. Anxiety and nervousness can produce “butterflies” in the stomach or a slightly nauseous feeling. This is the brain-gut connection at work signaling a physiological stress response. The gut responds to the brain, but it goes the other way too; our brain also responds to signals from our gut. Scientists have discovered that about 90 percent of the fibers in the vagus nerve, the primary visceral nerve, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. Our “second brain” also plays a huge role in immune response.

Inflammation is our body’s natural immune response to help protect and heal, but when it doesn’t turn off and simmers at a chronic level, inflammation begins to damage healthy cells, contributing to a long list of diseases, including infertility, which I’ve spent my career as a reproductive endocrinologist trying to defeat. Inflammation is often a direct result of the foods we eat—too much sugar, too many carbs and processed foods, not enough fat—and how frequently we eat them (which is why I recommend giving intermittent fasting a try).

Foods to Improve Mental Health

A high-fat, low-carb diet helps to reduce inflammation and balance hormones both of which can improve mental health. When the body is deficient in certain vitamins and proteins, it can disrupt moods and contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Eating foods rich in vitamins and proteins is a smart choice because they are believed to play a role in the brain’s production of serotonin, dopamine, and other brain chemicals that contribute to and control moods. Foods rich in Vitamin B (like liver and red meat) help combat depression and irritability. Iron-rich foods help with the production of brain chemicals that regulate mood.

Here’s a list of diet mainstays that can improve your mental health and a lot of other medical conditions too, including infertility.

Liver & Steak
Liver and steak are great sources of protein and fat, and just so happen to be the best source of vitamins, packing an even bigger nutritional punch than traditional “superfoods” like blueberries or kale.

Liver is a premium source of vitamins B12, C, E, D, Co-Q10, Zinc, Folate, and fat. Steak is a close runner-up in nutrients.

Eggs are another superfood packed with nutrients in a perfect little package: protein, Vitamin A, D, E, K, B12, folate, and even the beneficial antioxidant lutein. Eggs are also a rich source of choline. The body needs to obtain a majority of its required choline from diet, as it can only naturally produce a limited amount.

Salmon, Sardines, and Other High Omega-3 Fish
Salmon is an oily fish that is packed with protein, omega 3s, and essential fatty acids. Interestingly, depression appears to be less common in countries where people eat large amounts of fish. Two omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found primarily in fish oil — are thought to have the biggest potential to benefit people with mood disorders through two primary mechanisms: (1) omega-3s easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain; and (2) they have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help relieve depression. Children and adolescents with depression may also benefit from omega-3 supplementation.

Butter & Other Full-Fat Dairy
Natural fats from butter, cream, whole milk, and full-fat yogurt are needed to keep the lymphatic system running. Eating fat lubricates the lymphatics and filters out harmful pathogens to protect the body from illness-causing invaders. The lymphatic system is critical to maintaining optimal health. It is part of the circulatory system and the immune system. Besides being a rich source of cholesterol, full-fat dairy also contains many nutrients.

Berries are a healthy, sweet, and sometimes sour, tasty snack. They are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that are known to combat inflammation. Berries are also high in folate and vitamin C.

Beans & Lentils
Beans and lentils have vitamin B, which can help improve depression and irritability. They also contribute to the production of serotonin.

Our Brains Need Fat & Cholesterol

Despite the popular misconception, our bodies need fat. It’s the building block for our brains, and our best source of cellular energy. Eating fat is one of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation and improve immunologic function. The human brain is nearly 60% fat and requires both saturated and unsaturated fats to provide a balance of structural integrity and fluidity to its cells. More specifically, our brains need EPA and DHA–neither of which exist in plant foods. EPA has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps with healing. DHA serves many functions. It helps with the formation of myelin, the white matter that insulates our brain circuits. It also helps maintain the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which keeps the brain safe from unwanted outside influences. But most importantly, DHA is critical to the development of the human cortex—the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking. Without DHA, consciousness and symbolic thinking—essentially what makes us humans—would be impossible.

Cholesterol is essential too. It gives our cells the required stiffness and stability and is vital for the production and function of serotonin receptors in the brain. Low cholesterol levels have been linked to depression and aggression. Antidepressants often don’t work for patients who are eating a vegetarian diet. Cholesterol acts as a precursor to important hormones that help us deal with stress and protect the body against cancer and heart disease.

This is why fatty meats, fish, and full-fat dairy all top the list of foods that contribute to good mental health. These combined with other low carb and low-sugar foods are building blocks for good physical and mental health.

Foods to Avoid

And if you’re wondering which foods to avoid, I recommend limiting or removing the five biggest inflammation producers in our diets: plant toxins, vegetable & seed oils, carbohydrates & added sugars, trans fats, and too much alcohol. These foods expose people to high levels of known inflammatory compounds.

Don’t Forget Your Supplements!

It can be challenging to get all of the essential vitamins and minerals through diet alone. Even the healthiest eaters are likely low in some vitamins and minerals, particularly those who consume fruits and vegetables as the bulk of their diet. Supplements are a great way to support total body and mental health.

My Nutritional Solutions line of supplements was designed with just this purpose in mind: to provide a convenient, high-quality source for essential vitamins, minerals, collagens, proteins, growth factors, unique enzymes, and co-factors that only exist in tissue specific organs. We use superior, grass-fed cattle as our primary source. State-of-the-art freeze drying and hydrolysis processing techniques ensure optimal nutrient preservation and bioavailability. Dr. Kiltz’s Nutritional Solutions products are hormone, pesticide, and GMO- free and contain no fillers, flow agents, or other additives. I recommend my Grass-Fed Beef Liver, Grass-Fed Organ Meats, and Grass-Fed Connective Tissue supplements. These all come in capsule form to make getting the very best nutrients easy and convenient.

About Dr. Robert Kiltz:
Dr. Robert Kiltz is a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, and Founder and Director of CNY Fertility, one of the largest and most dynamic fertility centers in the country, featured in the Wall Street Journal, Today Show, and CNBC for helping shape the future of fertility medicine. Dr. Kiltz has earned recognition outside of the fertility world for pioneering the holistic health movement and the keto lifestyle. He is the author of several books including The Fertile Feast and Daily Inspirations, and his latest, Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow which released April 2021. In addition to his own media outlets, Dr. Kiltz appears regularly on numerous popular blogs and has shared his views as a TEDx speaker.

For more information, check out www.doctorkiltz.com or follow Dr. Kiltz on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies

If you follow The Magical Buffet on social media (and you should), you might have saw a photo I posted of my adorable pitbull mix Sarah snoozing with Skye Alexander’s latest book “The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies.” I asked if people were interested in a review and unsurprisingly, the general response was “yes.” This is because Sarah makes EVERYTHING look awesome, I’m sure. However, in taking a second glance at the text to start my review I realized that the author did an excellent job summing up her book in the introduction. Honestly, every time I started to write my review it kept reading like a rehash of her work. The kind people at Adams Media are allowing me to cut out the middle man, who in this case is me, and publish Alexander’s introduction here for you to read!

Introduction to The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies by Skye Alexander

When you hear the word “fairy,” what image comes to mind? A miniature girl with gossamer wings and a sparkly dress, a la Disney’s version of Tinker Bell? A benevolent creature who flits about sprinkling fairy dust everywhere, waving her wand to make children’s wishes come true? If so, you’re in for a surprise.

Like unicorns and mermaids, these magickal entities have been denatured by pop culture, robbed of their mystique and majesty. The fairies of old were nothing like the sugar-coated cartoon characters we envision today. They were powerful beings of a semi-divine nature, who may have descended from the gods and goddesses. According to some tales, they served as the prototypes from which the human race evolved. They possessed amazing, supernatural powers—they could fly, make themselves invisible, shapeshift into humans, animals, plants, or stones, and they lived forever. Some aided human beings, but many were mischievous or even malevolent.

The English word “fairy” may have come from the Latin fatum, meaning “fate,” as did the French derivative fée, the Italian fata, and the Portuguese fada. According to some legends, fairies controlled human destiny. They showed up at a baby’s birth to celebrate the new arrival, as the story of Sleeping Beauty tells us, and to determine the child’s future—which depended on how the parents treated the fairies.

Fairies could provide healing and protection from harm, but they could also inflict illness, shipwreck sailors, and cause soldiers to falter on the battlefield. They could bring riches, but they might also blight crops, destroy livestock, and steal children. As in the human world, the fairy realm has its good guys and its bad actors. Wiccans who follow the Wiccan Rede will not use their connections to fairies for harm; instead, they’ll finds ways to harness their powers for the good of all.

How to Use this Book

In this book, you’ll learn how to reconnect, through Wiccan practices, with these magickal beings who fascinated and frightened our ancestors. You’ll gain insight into their characteristics and behavior. You’ll find out where and how they live. You’ll discover ways to attract and interact safely with fairy helpers. In doing so, if the fairies are friendly, you can improve and enhance your Wiccan powers.

In Part One, I discuss the long-standing links between witches and fairies. Our ancestors believed witches and fairies shared numerous powers, including the ability to control the weather. According to some sources, the fairies taught witches their craft. I also talk about why the two groups can benefit from collaborating today and how working together can help not only us but the planet as well.

You’ll meet some of the best-known fairy families and learn about various types of fairies with whom you may want to do magick—and some you should avoid. Like people, some fairies are better suited to certain kinds of spellwork than others. For instance, leprechauns are solitary old guys and wouldn’t be much good at casting love spells— but they’re skilled in money matters and can help you prosper financially. Nature fairies, who care for the plant world, could be great allies for green witches. I also share some of the things I’ve discovered about where to look for fairies and how to entice them to partner with you, because they’re usually reluctant to deal with humans. Additionally, you’ll learn how to avoid offending the fae, who can be dangerous enemies if you get on the wrong side of them.

Part Two is an open grimoire of spells, rituals, and other activities you can do with the fairies. Each chapter focuses on a particular area of life, such as love, prosperity, protection, healing, and so on. I’ve included a chapter of magickal activities to engage in with the fae on each of the eight sabbats too. Some of these practices will be familiar to you—if you’ve been following the witch’s way for any length of time, you’ve surely used candles, herbs, and gemstones in your work. Performing them with fairies, however, will add a new dimension. Other techniques, such as shapeshifting and shamanic journeying, may be new to you—especially if you’re visiting fairyland for the first time. At the beginning of each chapter, I suggest certain types of fairies that I think might be the most willing and able to assist you in your spellcraft.

At the end of the book is an Appendix that I hope you’ll find helpful and easy to use. This isn’t intended to be all-inclusive—it’s not an encyclopedia—but it can serve as quick reference guide when you’re deciding what to factor into your spells.

Working with the fae and integrating them into your Wiccan practices can be a rewarding experience that brings added depth and breadth to your magickal endeavors. It will enrich your self-knowledge and power. Allying yourself with fairies will also increase your appreciation for the natural world, other worlds, and for all beings who inhabit the physical and nonphysical realms. If you feel drawn to follow this path, you’ll be rewarded on your journey. But proceed with care.

Blessed Be.

About Skye Alexander:
Skye Alexander is the award-winning author of more than thirty fiction and nonfiction books, including “Your Goddess Year”, “The Only Tarot Book You’ll Ever Need”, “The Modern Guide to Witchcraft”, “The Modern Witchcraft Spell Book”, “The Modern Witchcraft Grimoire”, “The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot”, and “The Modern Witchcraft Book of Love Spells”. Her stories have been published in anthologies internationally, and her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. The Discovery Channel featured her in the TV special, Secret Stonehenge, doing a ritual at Stonehenge. She divides her time between Texas and Massachusetts.

Excerpted from The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Fairies by Skye Alexander. Copyright © 2021 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

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The Power and Potential of Equilibrium

Excerpted from “A NEW NOW: Your Guide to Mastering Wisdom Daily, Achieving Equilibrium, and Empowering Your Nobler Self” © 2020 by Michael Goddart.

Equilibrium is dynamic balance, a spiritual center that you can live in and learn to return to again and again. Being in a state of equilibrium is wonderful. It enriches your life and helps you feel good and supports your health.

What are the characteristics of equilibrium? Here are five key ones.

Quiescent ego
Even temperament
Grateful contentment
Healthy independence
Balanced desires

Quiescence is a state of repose, being tranquil. When your ego is quiescent, it isn’t raging for something it “needs” desperately. When your ego is quiescent, it isn’t inflated, self-justifying, self-pitying, or wallowing in injury. It isn’t driving you to take actions or say things that aren’t in your best interest. Being unaware of your ego, letting it ride roughshod, is self-defeating, knocking you about in dys-ease. The antidote to ego is humility-welcome, revitalizing oxygen.

When your temperament is even, you are not anxious or angry, negatively critical, upset, leery, or fearful. Your instincts are accessible and you’re open to inner promptings. You realize that most people are entirely run by their minds and have no control over what they say and do. People who are run by their lower minds do, say, and write things that are unkind, hurtful, stupid, destructive. Their actions can readily set off your reactions, which can be angry, fearful, or one of their myriad expressions, such as annoyance and worry.

Have you ever felt or thought that you have everything this moment that you need? One aspect of wise, clear thinking is not mistaking where you think or hope you’re going for where you are now. With acceptance comes contentment. You may yearn to understand what you could do with the rest of your life, but embrace the perfection of who you are now and the intention to take each next step in your life as consciously as possible. Acceptance is a key element of consciously living in reality. Acceptance is not resignation. It’s being here, now, rather than allowing yourself to be run by envy or disappointment. Grateful contentment is a feeling of ease, of peace, of everything in its own time. Regardless of your circumstances, if you attain periods of grateful contentment, more and more, in your state of equilibrium, you will cherish these simple, luxurious feelings.

When you are able to live in a state of healthy independence, your life is not ruled by attachments. You realize that everything is ultimately temporary. People must leave your life and at times that can be unexpected. You are not the center of the solar system, with everyone revolving around you. You have a great storehouse of resourcefulness that you can access to enable your life to proceed well without unhealthy neediness that inhibits your growth.

When your desires are not inflated or squelched down, you are aware of them, and moving at the right time and speed toward realizing them in a way that serves your growth and unfolding. We are desire machines-the mind is constantly spewing out desires. You can learn to be aware of how your desires want to drive you, and you can mentally detach from them, as well as you can, and make mental adjustments that balance your urges and put them in perspective. Being the driver of your desires creates more space for gratitude. By cultivating mental detachment from your desires, you can more readily be present in an expansive now in which you can experience a healthy independence and grateful contentment.

Wisdom and equilibrium go hand in hand. Being in equilibrium is an optimal state in which you can best access your power and develop your potential. You more readily enjoy a positive, confident attitude because when you are in equilibrium that comes naturally. You can more easily deal with and rise above distractions. Being in equilibrium and learning how to achieve and return to it is a necessary adjunct to mastering wisdom. It facilitates the accessing and growth of wisdom.

The more you realize and embody the five characteristics of equilibrium, the more you reduce stress. Tomes can be written on the benefits of reducing stress. Some doctors believe that stress is the root of all disease. Some spiritual masters say that ego is the root of all disease. Stress and ego are intrinsically linked. This is because when we think then feel that people and things have to be a certain way, and they’re not-we stress.

If you think you need to get three things done before you leave your home and you rush to get them done, that likely creates stress. You are letting yourself be run by a belief that is undermining your health and state of mind. Why not pause and ask yourself if you can let go of one or two of the things until the right time after you return? It’s not the end of the world if, for instance, dishes remain in the sink filled with water until you can attend to them in a good frame of mind. It’s important to notice what feels good, what feels right. Value your equilibrium. That is being wise. That is helping to prepare the field of your spiritual foundation.

In these times, more than ever in our crazy world, to lead our best lives, we need to strive to achieve equilibrium and that will enable us to live in a new now.

About Michael Goddart:
Michael Goddart, MFA, is the author of the newly published “A NEW NOW: Your Guide to Mastering Wisdom Daily, Achieving Equilibrium, and Empowering Your Nobler Self”. He is also the author of “IN SEARCH OF LOST LIVES: Desire, Sanskaras, and the Evolution of a Mind&Soul”, a winner of the American Book Fest Best Book Award, the Living Now Book Award, the Body Mind Spirit Book Award, and the National Indie Excellence Award. Michael Goddart took his MFA in Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University. Please visit www.goddart.com for interviews, excerpts, testimonials, and more.

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Playing with Enlightenment

By Mark Johnson (excerpt from “Life as Play“)

It is difficult to discuss enlightenment in general because enlightenment means something different to everyone and because it is paradoxical. Most people think enlightenment is a peaceful, blissful, formless realm beyond the manifest world and outside of space and time. This is only partially correct because it is a paradox.

It is paradoxical because enlightenment includes duality and is simultaneously beyond it.

A lot of people who study Eastern religions are busily quieting their minds and emotions and are waiting for “enlightening” to strike. This is what the Buddha and Shankara taught and what I meditated on for almost 20 years. I have friends who are professional meditators. They can sit without a single thought appearing in their minds for hours at a time. However, I have rocks in my backyard that can do the same thing. Is this the apex of life on this planet? The Oneness as Emptiness is only part of the story. The manifest realm is also an expression of the great Oneness. Our task now is to figure out how best to manifest that ground of being in the evolving, material world. We must merge the transcendent with the immanent.

The analogy of the Ocean with its waves is the best way I know to describe the paradox of being both at the same time. Waves provide a good analogy for people because each wave has a discernible, separate existence. Each has a unique size, direction, speed, and shape – and they make a lot of noise, just as I do! There is also no real separation between them and the totality of the Ocean.

So, imagine yourself as an average wave rolling along, minding your own business, and some guru wave tells you, “You are the entirety of the ocean, and you can experience yourself as such.” All you have to do is meditate your ass off, become a vegetarian, and take up Tai Ji, or, if you are the trusting, devotional type, you can surrender to Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah.

So now they become a seeker with a mission! A wave in search of wetness! Nothing like a little meaning in life to actually get a person to do something other than consume stuff to compensate for that endless dark pit of need in the middle of one’s chest. The fanatic edge that sometimes comes with a little meaning in one’s life can drive a seeker for several thousand lifetimes; in spite of a few setbacks such as exhaustion, depression, and the sneaky feeling you are wasting a lot of time.

Some people start wave hopping to find the wetness, and others start perfecting their own wave to get wetter than the other waves. What keeps that cycle going is the fact that every time someone gets weary, another spiritual teacher comes along with the perfect technique for experiencing wetness, and off they go again until they finally drop. And then, “POW,” a moment of unity consciousness.

If you stop striving for wetness in order to succeed in experiencing it, it will not work. You have to stop everything, which includes stopping everything. That is why not too many people actually do it. It is scary to surrender everything you think you are and allow the great Oneness to continue running the show.

Some of the best “strivers” I have ever met are the Zen folks. They tirelessly scale that “enlightenment” mountain going straight up the slopes, while most people meander around the well-worn paths, smelling the flowers and eating the strawberries at every turn.

You would expect the Buddhist religion to turn out a lot of enlightened individuals every year, wouldn’t you? I didn’t find that to be the case. So, what is wrong with this picture? The more a wave pursues its own wetness as a goal, the further away the wave gets from being its wetness.

As I mentioned before, the tendency to take up spirituality as a cure for your psychological problems is called “spiritual bypassing.” You try to bypass all your problems with the magic bullet of meditation. It sounds good and looks good and actually works to some degree, but without doing the foundational psychological work along the way, nothing much is going to change, in my opinion.

Too many people and meditation teachers in particular, honestly think every problem can be solved with meditation. If you are out of work and depressed, and your guru tells you to meditate more, it is probably time to get another teacher and to find a job.

On the other hand (there is always another “on the other hand” when dealing with paradox), I often see people busying themselves by digging into their childhood traumas in self-help workshops or with their psychiatrist or therapist. Those “archeological digs” can sometimes lead to greater insight into why we do what we do, but far too often, it is simply another expression of narcissism.

I had a client who washed her hands a hundred times a day and knew exactly why she did it, but she still could not stop. I sometimes think some folks would be a lot better off if they spent their day helping people in a homeless shelter instead of incessantly talking about their problems.

The most common expression of narcissistic behavior I see is the incessant striving for enlightenment. The deep reason you don’t make much progress even after decades of meditation and self-help workshops is that you are doing it for yourself. When people take the focus off themselves for even a short time, they find their personal problems miraculously dissolving. That’s due to their no longer giving little obsessions the energy needed to perpetuate. Try it. Don’t think about yourself for an entire day and see what happens.

Let’s say that while indulging in narcissistic pursuits, a person accidentally experiences a spiritual awakening. After all, even a blind squirrel will find an acorn occasionally. It is like a wave briefly glimpsing itself as the entirety of the Ocean. You think you have arrived! But then, the memory fades, and you are back identifying with your old familiar ego/wave again – warts and all.

What good is a spiritual awakening if the wave that experienced it is distorted after experiencing itself as the Ocean? This is often what happens. This means the person must continue to work hard on psychological evolution in order to sustain the awakening. Your personal evolution will continue smoothly if you allow it to happen naturally and don’t force anything with your obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

This means:
It is more important to be integrated and authentic at whatever stage you find yourself than to hotly pursue enlightenment with a distorted and desperate psyche.

About Mark Johnson:
Mark Johnson is a semi-retired Tai Ji and Chi Gung instructor and healer. He continues to judge Tai Ji tournaments regularly, serves on the Advisory Council to the National Qigong Association, and leads Daoist retreats to China and Tibet yearly. He sells his Tai Chi for Seniors video and other instructional DVDs through his online company. Mark has studied and practiced Eastern Philosophy for over 45 years and has apprenticed with some of the most prominent Vedanta, Zen and Daoist teachers in the world. He has been a member and research subject at the Institute of Noetic Sciences for nearly 15 years. You can learn more at https://daopublishing.com/

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Why Do Good People Sometimes Do Bad Things?

By Dr. Steven Mintz

The Role of Cognitive Dissonance

Have you ever wondered why people you know who seem to be paragons of virtue sometimes deviate from ethical norms and do the wrong thing? Just about everybody knows such a person. But, what causes them to act that way in a particular situation? I was interviewed for my views on these issues by the Pakistani magazine, The FEEEL.

We can start the discussion by examining the concept of cognitive dissonance. It holds that there is a disconnect between how we think we should behave and how we do behave. This could be due to ethical blind spots, or the inability to see the ethical dimension of a problem.

Most people deal with cognitive dissonance in one of three ways:

Change one or more of our attitudes, behaviors, or beliefs so as to bring the two into alignment.

Acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant beliefs.

Reduce the importance of the beliefs, attitudes, or beliefs.

A recent example of cognitive dissonance is the number of people that paid a broker with connections to get their kids admitted to the best colleges. Two holiday stars that caught up in the wrongdoing are Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin. These are otherwise ethical people who deviated from ethical norms in order to achieve a desired result namely the admission to a college of their choice in a situation where their kids probably couldn’t meet the rigorous standards for admission.

Rationalizations for Bad Behavior

People who act unethically generally provide rationalizations for their behavior. Underlying these explanations is the concept of situational ethics where decisions are made in a subjective manner and based on the underlying circumstances. The problem here is the decision-maker lacks an ethical foundation to tell right from wrong and allows each situation to detect right and wrong rather than rely on ethical norms such as honesty and integrity. A person of integrity would never engage in pay to play schemes.

Another rationalization is what’s going on now with respect to K-12 kids cheating on online tests and explaining it away by saying remote learning is so difficult or that the teacher doesn’t teach so cheating is acceptable. This is just another form of situational ethics.

Another rationalization is to say the decision was a on-off affair. It only happened this one time and then I’ll go back to being ethical. The problem here is the so-called ethical slippery slope phenomenon. In other words, once you cheat in one area, especially if you get away with it, you are more likely to cheat again and it becomes an unhealthy pattern of behavior.

Another rationalization occurs in many workplace ethical dilemmas. It is to explain the need to be a team player and not rock the boat. Here, you may be concerned about retaliation if you don’t go along with what your boss has asked you to do. The culture of an organization may contribute to bad behaviors.

To better cope with these situations, ask yourself the following questions:

Would you normally consider this action to be wrong?

Are you excusing bad behavior by blaming others?

Are you blaming the victim to excuse your bad behaviors?

One test I use in teaching ethics to college students is what I call the social media test. Ask yourself: How would you feel if the decision you are about to make was discussed on social media? Would you proud of it? Would you be able to defend it?

Emotional Intelligence

The underlying cause of bad behaviors is often a lack of emotional intelligence. Simply stated, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions. There are five elements of emotional intelligence including the following.

Self-awareness. Being conscious of your own feelings and motives. You know how your emotions affect yourself and others, and you don’t allow your emotions to control you.

Self-regulation. You don’t make impulsive decisions. You think about the consequences of an action before deciding what to do.

You think about the big picture and assess how your actions will contribute to long-term success.

You are not self-centered but empathize with others and your situations. You tend to be a good listener, slow to judge, and understanding of the needs and wants of others.

It’s also important to know the signs that can indicate a lack of emotional intelligence including the following.

Trouble being assertive or taking charge.

Don’t handle feedback well.

Hold grudges.

Can’t move past your mistakes.

Feel misunderstood.

Judgmental, easily offended, and have difficulty maintaining relationships.

Allow your emotions to control you rather than being in control of them and acting accordingly.

Coping Skills

There are ways to develop coping skills and strengthen your resolve so that cognitive dissonance does not occur. Instead, your attitudes and beliefs are in harmony with your behaviors. The most important is to understand the triggers that can lead to bad behavior. This may be due to placing too much trust in others and not in your own feelings and ability to distinguish right from wrong.

Ethics education is important. This provides a foundation for rightful behavior and develops the characteristics to enable a person to not only see what the right thing to do is but have the skills to make that decision and carry through with ethical behavior.

Training is important especially where workplace ethics is concern. All organizations should commit to ethics training to develop a strong culture that says to employees: Do what we say which is in concert with what we do.

About Dr. Steven Mintz:
Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of “Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior”, has frequently commented on ethical issues in society and business ethics through his Ethics Sage blogs. His Workplace Ethics Advice blog has been recognized as one of the top 30 in corporate social responsibility. He also has served as an expert witness on ethics matters. Dr. Mintz spent almost 40 years of his life in academia. He has held positions as a chair in Accounting at San Francisco State University and Texas State University. He was the Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State University, San Bernardino. He recently retired as a Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. Mintz received the Accounting Exemplar Award from the Public Interest Section of the American Accounting Association.

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Strategies to Manifest Mindfulness in the New Year

By Dr. Patrick Porter

People across the globe are determined to make 2021 better than its predecessor. If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s the importance of our health and wellbeing. The pandemic brought “mindfulness” to the masses as it created a rare opportunity for us all to breathe, reflect, and focus on the most important aspects of life. Many people (who would otherwise not engage in mindfulness activities) started journaling, meditating, and other practices to ease anxiety and cope with the chaos. The traumatic events of last year forced people to make their mental health a priority. It comes as no surprise that “mindfulness” is at the top of many New Year’s resolutions lists.

Practicing mindfulness is one of the best things you can do not only for your brain but also your body. Mindfulness activities have been proven to help people reduce stress, prevent burnout, boost productivity, and so much more.

As a Neuroscience expert, I am frequently asked about the subject of “mindfulness.” Here are some of my top strategies to manifest mindfulness and incorporate it into your daily routine:

1. Train Your Brain to Achieve Your Goals
Keeping our brain active by creating new pathways is called neuroplasticity, and it’s a key aspect in achieving our goals. This is what keeps us creative, resilient, upbeat and engaged in life, which sparks our imagination and helps us visualize our accomplishments. Setting goals is important, but you will be unable to achieve them if you don’t know the steps to get there. The more you imagine your goals as being achieved, the better you will be able to focus on them. You can visualize your future and work to manifest and realize the goals you set. Think of it as getting something from your room: if you can see the object you’re going for before the lights are turned off, you are better able to find it in the dark. If you walk into the dark without any light prior, you’ll stumble much more along the way. This is the power of focusing on your goals and visualizing yourself achieving them. Focusing on your goals allows you to accomplish smaller tasks related to the goal which gives you more energy to continue to work at it. Focus and energy are important characteristics in achieving your goals.

2. Lean into the Available Mindfulness Resources & Find One that Works for You:
Because the idea of “mindfulness” has risen in popularity, there are many tools and resources available to facilitate and enhance mindfulness practices. With the rise of technology, we have more access to tools and resources to help us learn how to better practice from mindfulness. Participating in mindfulness even once a day in the middle of your day has been proven to provide great benefits. Studies show that you can reclaim up to 80 percent of the energy you had in the morning by having a mindfulness practice, like BrainTap. BrainTap is a resource that facilitates brain waves that help bring your mind to a state of healing, rest, and relaxation, such as found in deep sleep.

3. Be Mindful of Screen Time:
How much of your day do you spend looking at a screen? Often, we go from looking at a little screen (our phones) to looking at a medium screen (our computers) to looking at a big screen (our televisions) to looking back at the little screen before bed. All these screens and harmful blue lights are depriving the brain of much-needed downtime. Though technology has given us great resources to improve mindfulness, we must be cautious to use this technology wisely. People today are being constantly stimulated, which makes impactful mindfulness impossible. The brain needs periods of rest because this is when it solidifies information and stores memories, which cannot happen when the brain is constantly stimulated.

These brain-boosting tips can help anyone, regardless of the stage of life they are in. It’s crucial that we remember to take care of our brain, strengthening it, nourishing it, and resting it, like we do with the rest of our body. As you practice these exercises, you will recognize a difference in the way your brain functions and remembers throughout the day—and your life.

About Patrick K. Porter:
Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D., is an award-winning author and speaker who has devoted his career to neuroscience and studying the brain. As the creator of BrainTap®, Dr. Porter has emerged as a leader in the digital health and wellness field. BrainTap’s digital tools and apps bring mindfulness and meditation practices to the next level and have made tremendous advances in helping mental, physical, and emotional health issues. BrainTap has been praised for helping people relieve symptoms associated with stress, insomnia, pain, and much more.

For more information visit: www.braintap.com

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The Death Penalty: Cost And Public Opinion Support Biden’s Plan To End It

By David Dozier

A study in California revealed that the cost of capital punishment in the state has been over $4 billion since it was reinstated in 1978. Since California has executed 13 prisoners during that time, the cost per execution is more than $307 million. Other financial facts about the death penalty show capital cases in some states costing millions more than life imprisonment.

So, more people are asking: Is it worth it?

Cost is one factor people sometimes don’t consider in the debate over the death penalty. The complexity of seeking it and carrying out an execution is a long and expensive process. Many capital cases are appealed, and incarceration on death row can span 10, 15 or 20 or more years. And with capital punishment costs imposing a burden on state government budgets that are already stretched, it’s more cost-effective to commute death penalties to life imprisonment without parole.

But cost is just one reason that President-elect Joe Biden should work toward ending the death penalty in the U.S. As part of his criminal justice reform platform, he has pledged to abolish the federal death penalty and to give incentives to states to stop seeking death sentences. (Currently, capital punishment is authorized in 28 states.) Another reason to end the death penalty is its ties to racism. The Biden-Harris administration plans to address racism on many fronts.

Awareness of the killings of unarmed Black people by police has heightened the sensitivity of White Americans to racial injustice and prompted protests. The death penalty is targeted at persons of color: Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population – but 34% of persons executed since 1976.

Too often, the death penalty is a poor man’s punishment. District attorneys are more likely to go after poor defendants who are trying to fight for their lives with overworked and underpaid public defenders. DA’s sometimes put dirty cops above the law by refusing to prosecute police who kill unarmed persons of color. That’s because police unions and prison guard unions pump lots of money into DA political campaigns. But if a Black man kills a policeman, police and police unions will push DA’s to seek the death penalty.

A third reason the death penalty should be eliminated both in the U.S. and around the world is because it is cruel – a barbaric and sadistic violation of human rights. It is pure hypocrisy for a nation such as ours to view itself as a beacon for human rights while ranking seventh in the world for the number of executions we administer. Executions are a form of torture that violate the Eighth Amendment prohibiting the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. government under President Donald Trump in 2020 carried out the most federal executions ever in a single year. But under Biden, the pendulum should swing; the question is how much on a state level. Meantime, it’s good to see public opinion shifting toward the elimination of the death penalty. Using an unbiased question, a 2019 Gallup poll on capital punishment showed 60% of Americans favored life in prison for murder while only 36% preferred the death penalty.

Public support for the death penalty has dipped near a 48-year low, and at the same time there is a bipartisan movement in state legislatures and Congress to end it. Many politicians and ordinary Americans are bothered by executions of innocent people. For every nine prisoners executed, an innocent death row inmate is exonerated. DNA science and advances in law enforcement have cleared numerous death row inmates.

As Biden enters the White House, numerous Democratic lawmakers have already written to him about their objections to the death penalty, asking him to sign an executive order to eliminate federal executions and calling capital punishment unjust, racist and defective. And conservatives in several states have pushed back against the death penalty, saying it is too costly, inconsistent with conservatives’ opposition to abortion, subject to error, and not an effective deterrent.

The momentum of states toward abolishing the death penalty, and the strengthening bipartisan footing against it on state and federal levels, make Biden’s goal of ending capital punishment a stronger possibility. You can measure the cost of the death penalty in many ways – in terms of public policy and sheer, enormous dollars; in morality; and in racism. But any way you slice it, it comes out as wrong. The Biden Administration has a great opportunity to get it right.

About David Dozier:
David Dozier (www.DavidDozierBooks.com) is the author of The California Killing Field and an internationally recognized expert and speaker on mass communication, public relations, and communication management. Professor emeritus in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University, Dozier is author or co-author of over 100 books, book chapters, articles, and scholarly papers, and his works have been cited by other scholars over 4,000 times. Among his numerous honors are: the 1990 Pathfinder Award from the Institute for Public Relations Research and Education for his contribution to original scholarly research in the field; in 2008, named Outstanding Educator by the Public Relations Society of America; in 2009, named a Research Fellow by the Institute for Public Relations; in 2014, recipient of the Norma B. Connelly Public Affairs Service Award “for exceptional meritorious service to the U.S. Navy Public Affairs.” Dozier received his doctorate in communication research from Stanford University.