Black & White

Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela survived twenty-seven years in a jail cell.

Have you spent even one day and night in jail?  Twenty-seven years was truly an eternity.

The incomprehensible thing is how he managed to maintain his humanity amid a desert of timelessness.

He wielded a heavy hammer for years in the hot blazing South African sun cracking limestone blocks.  Those blocks were apartheid, ruled over by a white minority, given meaning and legitimacy by the Christian Church.

After twenty-seven years of cracking limestone blocks, the rock of apartheid itself cracked, and the tide turned.  Mandela himself became President of his country.

On the very day he was sworn into office, Mandela invited his jail keeper to the ceremonies.  Such was the magnanimity of his heart, such was his love of the people.  He embraced even his enemies.

Rosa Parks, a simple, black woman, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.  She was tired.  She was tired physically, and she was tired spiritually of the degradation of herself and her people.  She refused to move; and a movement was born.  From this one woman’s courage, thousands followed.  A crack appeared in the edifice of white power and legitimacy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream; and streams of similar pent-up, previously obstructed dreams broke loose and flowed into his dream; and his dream became a mighty raging river which cracked the dam of racism and hatred and filled the future with innumerable dreams where they had not been possible before.

These were only three, but many followed.  They were black, and the world was white.

Where would we all be without these courageous black brothers and sisters?  What kind of people would we still be?

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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people, giving talks and readings, and holding discussions about the future of America – all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

Maybe We Need A New Religion

Sometime ago, I read a report of a young ten-or-eleven year old boy, who, after being exposed to continuing newspaper and television reports about the fighting going on all over the Middle East, involving Christians, Muslims and Jews, remarked:

“Maybe we need a new religion.”

Certainly, this week’s Senate election in Alabama highlights the relevance of that statement.

Maybe We Need A New ReligionWhen  someone running for one of the highest political offices in the United States espouses deep divisions and hatred, all under the banner of Evangelical Christianity, we have to stop and take a good, long, hard look at ourselves and the underlying beliefs that inform the lives of many of our citizens.

Roy Moore, running on the Republican ticket, backed by the Republican Party, the President of the United States, and hoards of Evangelical voters, supported a man who, when asked when Moore thought America was last great, replied: “I think it was great at the time when families were united.  Even though we had slavery, they cared for one another.  Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

Not only were there white families who cared for one another, but there were also black families who cared for one another, and whose lives and happiness were being torn apart by the institution of slavery.  White families, during slavery, were being supported by the subjugation and dehumanization of black families, who were sold as chattel.

Moore would bar Muslims from politics.  Moore would set up his brand of Christianity as the model and rule of the land.  He decries homosexuals as evil.  He supports white supremacy. Etc., etc.

Who are these people – these Evangelicals, these Republicans, this President – who support this man?  What are their real values?

One writer – Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of the faith-based publication, Christianity Today – commented that no matter the outcome in the Senate race in Alabama, the biggest loser would be the Christian faith itself.

He wrote:

“When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation.  Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.”

Here in America, we are being shown the dross of false dreams; of a corrupt politics geared towards power, personal profit, and greed, with no thought of the people’s welfare whatsoever; of religion that divides and separates us into good and bad people according to our allegiance to a small-minded God and small-minded people.

This is politics and religion that need to go.  These are the poisoned roots of our Republic that need to be torn up and once and forever cast upon the ash heaps of history.

These examples are before our eyes now for all to see.  They show us who we are and who we have been.  They are a necessary process to the emergence of the real America.

It was white Evangelicals who voted overwhelmingly for Moore.  Exit polls showed that black evangelical Christians voted about 95 percent against Moore.

So a mirror held up to Alabama shows a strong white racist religious vote in support of Moore.

This kind of backward-looking, narrow-minded, racist, homophobic, discriminatory, divisive thinking and action has to go.

There are millions of Christians opening their hearts and minds to a greater, more inclusive view of life.  There are millions of Muslims doing the same.

We are at a pivotal juncture in the history of these United States.  Although we appear mired in division, chaos and loss of hope, we are on the threshold of a new world.   We are coming to a recognition of who we really are, of our common roots of humanity, beyond all smaller, divisive identities such as race, culture, sexuality, or nationhood.

Religion is a way of looking at ourselves, of who we are, of our potential, of our place in this incredibly vast universe.  We need religions that bring us together, not divide us; that praise people, not denigrate them; that look to the future, not the past; that are inclusive and tolerant and open-minded and open-hearted.

We need politics and politicians that love the people, not their own selfish interests and desires, who will work with every ounce of their being for the peoples’ happiness and the welfare of this Earth.

This is America as it is becoming.  This is Alabama pointing the way.

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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people, giving talks and readings, and holding discussions about the future of America – all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

To arrange talks, contact the author.


Traveling to a New America – Sebastopol, CA

Sebastopol, California Coffee Catz ReadingLast night, I presented a reading from one of my books, “A New Myth for America”, at Coffee Catz in Sebastopol, California, as part of “Traveling to a New America“.

This year and next, I’m traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people, giving talks and readings, and holding discussions about the future of America.

There is so much divisiveness and turmoil in our country right now, so much anger and loss of hope; but I feel that this is also a time of immense opportunity, of new beginnings, of an enormous shift in the way we look at ourselves, of our individual potential and the potential of these fifty states.

This was one very short piece from the evening, called “The Star is You”:

“America means to show the unlimited possibilities of a single human being.  We are met here to enact this drama.

“The star is you.   The star is me.

“I can be a street sweeper and confound worlds.

“This is the true meaning of democracy.”

To follow my journey, visit my Facebook Page.

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Traveling to a New AmericaTo find out more, and to arrange talks, contact the author.
Website: http://www.jameshilgendorf.org


Traveling to a New America – Petaluma, Ca.

Petaluma, CaliforniaLast night, Elizabeth and I stopped in Petaluma, California.

An open mic evening was being held, open to the community, at the United Methodist Church.

There was some really wonderful, thoughtful and original music being presented, and Elizabeth and I had a chance to get acquainted with some wonderful people.  Music and poetry have the power to take all of us to a place where we can experience our common humanity, where we can appreciate the extraordinary uniqueness of each other as fellow human beings.

I presented a reading from my book, “A New Myth for America”, an excerpt of which follows.

THE HEAVENS ARE ANGRY

Without a doubt, the heavens are angry.

Drought, fires, torrential rain, record snow and cold, hurricanes, tornadoes, demonic winds – a certain wildness and derangement seems let loose upon the mountains and plains and towns and coasts of America.

Identities are being fragmented.

Is it God who is angry?  Are we at that turning in point in history, an Armageddon?

Whole families and communities hoard up food and water, build walls and encasements against the coming chaos.

But still, there are no answers.  There is no splitting of the skies or parting of the waters, no final curtain calls announcing the end of days.  Only a deafening silence, a hollow absence of being, punctuated by the electric sound of crickets massing before the storm.

It was the same a thousand, five thousand, thirty thousand years ago.  Wait, and wait, but never an answer.

A New Myth for America BuddhismWe have come to the answer now, here in America.

It is a flower about to blossom in the desert.

All around is the gathering chaos, yet tiny buds of lovely being are poking through the ground, in this place, in that place, they are as yet unknown faces, young mothers, young boys and girls, working fathers, you would never imagine they carried forth an answer to the riddles of all time, to the Sphinx puzzles, to the Delphi oracles, to the Holy Grail quests, that they carried within their simple, ordinary, day-to-day orbit the key to Job’s lament, and the philosopher’s stone and magic words to open up the caves of Sesame.

It is all beginning here.

Some would praise the Lord, but let us here praise instead the charwoman, the chimney sweep, the subway mechanic, the dog trainer, the house painter, as well as a thousand, and ten thousand, and millions of other ordinary, extraordinary and unknown people who lavish their heart and soul upon others with no thought of return, who spend their days and nights, year after year, giving of themselves for the future and a better world.

They are here, among us.  They have always been here.

Anger will turn to rapture.  The tumultuous wrath of the heavens will subside, and turn to a soft, quiet wind.

It all comes from within the heart.  All the hell and all the heaven, all the storms and disruption and insanity and wild winds and tortuous crashing waves and torrential rain and nightmares of ocean and unrelenting blazing blistering sun, all come from the human heart, everything mirroring our compassion.

Thus it has always been.

One person the key, one person, struggling in the darkness and depths with demons and monsters and giant fire-breathing dragons.

Don Quixote tilting with windmills, with illusions, with phantoms of the mind that bind us to a wheel of suffering – all of them assuming their posts, as autocrats and politicians sucking away the peoples’ power, as thoughts and ideas that bind our hands and cast us bleeding and helpless upon the ground, as words and blows that devalue everything we have ever been, demolishing hope, destroying self-worth, ignoring the god within in exchange for obeisance to false gods without.

Temples and monuments, tyrannical codes of law, iron rule, priestly classes, false philosophies, heartless subjugation, division, slaughtering of the heart, armed camps, atomic and hydrogen bombs, annihilation, ethnic cleansing, corruption, tribe mentalities, brutality, desecration of the environment, desecration of our worth, desecration of our life – windmills all of monsters that need slaying, laid to by the sword, rooted out with spades and root poison, and salt spread into the very ground from which they grew and subverted our minds and hearts.

This is the task.

One person transforms himself or herself, and monstrous black holes, weighing billions of suns, grow quiet.

A new breed emerging, honoring our image in the mirror, recognizing the source of power, never again giving it away to anyone or anything, cultivating respect of oneself and others, knowing we are all connected, loving life, loving the struggle, becoming all that one can be to encourage others to become all that they can be, laughing and dancing now, proud of the source, recognizing divinity in oneself and in all, propelled into a grand trajectory of immense good fortune.

Let the flowers bloom.  Let grasses rejoice.

Let the winds and seas and sun and rain and darkness and light conspire to praise the men and women on this round of earth.

This is America as it is becoming.

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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people, giving talks and readings, and holding discussions about America, all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.”

To arrange talks, contact the author.

The Sexual Abuse Chasm; God in the White House

So Al Franken is the latest businessman or performer or politician to bite the dust over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Women are coming forward.  No doubt it’s long past due to clear the decks about sex and the abuse of power.

But the Republican Party is an anomaly.  They view things differently.

Traveling to a New AmericaThe most glaring example is a President, Donald Trump, who, at the epitome of political power, is not only under siege from a bevy of wounded females, but is also the number one upholder of the right to “grab ‘em by the pussy”.

Republicans support him.  The Republican Party supports him.  He can do no harm.

His most ardent supporters are the Evangelicals.  Mike Pence, the vice-President, stands solidly behind him.  They all want God in the pulpit and the Presidency.

How excuse Trump’s errant ways?  Well, Evangelicals know that a person who is a liar and a cheat and a molester and a thief can be forgiven through repentence.  They have seen many of these charlatans before among their own ranks.  Repent, and then things will be okay, you are forgiven.  Even the greatest of us has our weak points.  Ask God for forgiveness, and then be repatriated back among the living body of good men and women.

But Trump has not repented of anything.  He even goes so far defending himself as to deny that his voice is on the tape that so obviously records his “grab ‘em by the pussy” doctrine.

But still Evangelicals support him.  They want God in the White House.

Well, their God is in the White House.  They put Him there, and they are proud.  The God of the Evangelicals is in the White House.

This all makes for great show.  We are all being given front row seats to a last-gasp performance of the Republican Party and Evangelical Christianity.  They are all well-cast for their parts, none more so than the hack actor Donald Trump.

We needed to see this show.  We needed it to come front/center.

Flush out the old, rotting detritus and debris.  Usher in the new.

The new America is poised now to take the stage.  America is now, and has always been, inevitable.

It is always darkest before the dawn.

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James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people, giving talks and readings, holding discussions, all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

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Three Books That Can Change Your Life

Three books – “A New Myth for America”, “Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective”, “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age” – three of ten books by James Hilgendorf – are books that can open up dramatic new perspectives on your life, and on the transformation that even now is beginning to reshape the core and heart of America.

Traveling to a New AmericaHilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and author of ten non-fiction books.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people, giving talks – all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

It is a journey to transform America.

“There’s so much divisiveness and chaos in our country at this time”, the author says, “so much anger and loss of hope; but I feel this is also a time of immense opportunities, of new beginnings, of a deep change in the way we look at ourselves, at our own individual potential, and the potential of these fifty States”.

A recent talk in Taos, New Mexico, at SOMOS, Society of the Muse of the Southwest, yielded these responses:

“I was deeply moved by your talk.  It resonated on many levels.”

“It was inspiring and challenging.  The author is a combination of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bernie Sanders, Karl Marx, the Buddha, Ralph Nader, and Walt Whitman.”

“I enjoyed your presentation, especially your optimism and dedication.  I am inspired to remain optimistic in these changing times.”

A New Myth for America Buddhism“A New Myth for America” is about a new America – one deeply connected to the original dream of America voiced by the great writers and poets of our early American Renaissance – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and others – an America still lying unfulfilled and unrealized.  It is also about an America that, even amidst the current chaos, is in the midst of a deep spiritual transformation.

Of the books, one reviewer wrote:

“I do believe a book like ‘A New Myth for America’ can not only spark an important dialogue in the world, but help us to look at the future with more hope, because we know that all is not lost.” – C.A.Webb, “Conversations Book Club”.

Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective“Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective” weaves together Buddhist history and ideas, science, psychology, near-death experience research, and personal experiences, to offer unique insights into the subject of life and death.

Hilgendorf, himself, is a Buddhist, having practiced Buddhism for forty-five years with the Soka Gakkai International, or SGI, one of the largest Buddhist lay organizations in the world now, with 12,000,000 members in 192 countries and territories around the globe.

Two reviewers had these comments:

“If I were to teach a basic college-level course in religion, philosophy, or metaphysics – call it Spirituality 101 – this book would be required reading.  In fact, it would be the first week’s assignment.  Having read all or parts of nearly a thousand books dealing dealing with spiritual matters, I cannot recall another that so simply and effectively blends the fundamentals of religion and science.” – Michael E. Tymn, Journal of Religion and Psychical Research.

“A must-read!  I am serious when I say that reading James Hilgendorf’s ‘Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective’ was a life-changing experience.  It has changed the way I will live the rest of my life.” – Lisbeth Gant-Britton, author of “African American History (Holt, 2007) and UCLA adjunct professor in African-American Studies.

Handbook for Youth in a Muddied AgeThe third book, “Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age”, is a compilation of some of the author’s own writings, as well as quotes and passages from famous people throughout history, on living a happy and victorious life.  This is a book especially for youth, a call for youth to unleash their limitless potential in creating a new world.

These three books, read together, are a life-changer.  All three are available through bookstores, and in paperback and e-book format through online booksellers.

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To arrange talks, contact the author.

A New Myth for America – Centerpiece of Traveling to a New America

A New Myth for America Buddhism“A New Myth for America”, a book of renewal and hope amid the chaos, divisiveness, and loss of hope invading America, has become the centerpiece of a national journey by author James Hilgendorf, called “Traveling to a New America“.

Hilgendorf has been traveling up and down the West Coast of the United States, from Portland, Oregon to Northern and Southern California, meeting and interviewing people on the streets, giving talks and readings, and holding discussions with people about the current state and future of America.

One such recent talk was at SOMOS – Society of the Muse of the Southwest – in Taos, New Mexico.

The Facebook post for that talk is at: http://www.bit.ly/2wvxJWl

A few comments from the audience in Taos were as follows:

“I was deeply moved by your talk.  It resonated on many levels.”

“It was inspiring and challenging.  The author is a combination of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bernie Sanders, Karl Marx, the Buddha, Ralph Nader, and Walt Whitman.”

“I enjoyed your presentation, especially your optimism and dedication.  I am inspired to remain optimistic in these changing times.”

The author’s talks will take him across the country this coming year.

Traveling to a New AmericaAt his talks and readings, he draws the audience into a discussion not only about the current state of America, but also what their vision of a really great America would look like.  These comments are then edited and posted on the author’s Facebook Page, and the participants can then help to share their ideas out to their own friends on Facebook all across the country.

In this way, Hilgendorf hopes to build a national groundswell of dialogue about the future of our country among Americans of all backgrounds.

Of the book, “A New Myth for America”, one reviewer wrote:

“I do believe a book like ‘A New Myth for America’ can not only spark an important dialogue in the world, but help us to look at the future with more hope, because we know that all is not lost”. – Cyrus Webb, “Conversations Book Club”.

Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books.

You can follow his journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, readings, and discussions, contact the author.

Dreams Are Taking Shape

Handbook for Youth in a Muddied AgeThe world shapes and molds around as dreams solidify within.

Not even knowing how, to just keep going is the key to never giving in or up.

The brew is coming to a boil.  The dreams are taking shape.

You never know where things come from.  People appear, opportunities actualize, doors open in unexpected places.

The world is beyond our usual, normal ken.

We read of wizards and dragons, demons and incantations, but all of this is as nothing compared to the creative power within your own heart.  Worlds and worlds are waiting to come into being.

It all comes down to you.  You are the center and the power and the creation, and the universe around morphs perfectly to your wishes and mind and thoughts and the way you boldly advance toward your dreams.

Let nothing stop you.  All walls can come down.

When least expected, a way forward will open, and dreams will unfold like clouds boiling up from the sea.

Keep going.
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Traveling to a New AmericaJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and holding talks, readings and discussions, all under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.”

To arrange talks, contact the author.

America: The Great Springtime

Even in life, death is all around us.  Stars are born and die, grass grows then withers; winter turns to spring, turns to summer, to autumn, and back again to winter.  Nothing stays.  Our life today will vanish tomorrow.

We live in a time when we have no answers anymore.  Those who think they have the answers are especially the ones who have no answers.  They are like dead leaves on dying branches.

Chaos is growing, like a whirling tornado drawing everything into its spinning maw.

Where is the meaning in all of this?

The child who was bombed in Beirut or Afghanistan or Iraq, or who died a slow disintegrating death of drugs or utter loss of hope in Chicago or Atlanta or New York – where is the meaning?

After the hurricane destruction in New Orleans, a prominent preacher was asked why God had allowed it to happen.  He did not know.

Traveling to a New AmericaFrom the old religions, there is no longer any answer at all.

This is the universe where now appears the Bomb.

Equal in might – even millions of times mightier – is the solitary self.

Why did the Bomb even appear if there was not some gathering force, a new and bold potential, about to emerge from the human heart.

What is necessary to make the change – that quantum leap into the new, emerging future of the human race?  It is one person alone.

Boundless is the as yet unrevealed power in the mind and heart of a single human being.  The solitary self rules the universe and the colliding monsters of galaxies devouring each other in intergalactic time and space and the trillions of universes unknown beyond our own, and the suns unnumbered spawning and dying out of dark black gravitational holes.

It is time for that person to take center stage.  It is a time for laughter and revelation.  It is a time of great spiritual transformation.

To feel the universe speaking through your own voice and mind, to find stars in your vision and feel the pulsing of deep energy flowing and surging up from within.  To know who you are.  To move unerringly.  To remember all that has gone before and treasure all memories, all greatness, all the love of mothers, all those unremembered and forgotten, all their voices and dreams, and to carry all this forth upon the wave of the birthing dream of Life itself.

At last, we discover who we are.

We are the great eternal ceremony of Life emerging from the dark Earth, bells ringing; solemn yet joyous, dancing, eternal.

We are becoming who we were meant to be.  We are becoming who we were all along.

These are the beginnings of the great Springtime.
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A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.

This year and next, he is talking to people everywhere – in coffee shops, on the streets, in parks – and holding talks and discussions in towns and cities all across America, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, readings, and discussions, either in-person or via Skype video, contact the author.

Traveling to a New America – Texas, January, 2018

Traveling to a New America“, a nationwide journey of hope and renewal, moves to Texas in January, 2018, to the cities of San Antonio, Austin, and Houston.

Filmmaker, speaker and author James Hilgendorf will be giving talks to groups and holding discussions with people everywhere – in coffee shops, on the streets, in all three cities during a five-day period from January 15th to January 19th.

Hilgendorf is also inviting people to be a part of this journey through a crowdfunding page at Kickstarter .

Kickstarter Traveling to a New America

“There’s so much divisiveness and turmoil in our country right now,” Hilgendorf says, “so much anger and loss of hope; but I feel that this is also a time of immense opportunity, of new beginnings, of an enormous shift in the way we look at ourselves, of our individual potential and the potential of these fifty states.”

A New Myth for America BuddhismHilgendorf is the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America.  One of these is “A New Myth for America“, which is the centerpiece of his readings and talks.

One reviewer wrote:

“I do believe a book like ‘A New Myth for America’ can not only spark an important dialogue in the world, but help us to look at the future with more hope, because we know that all is not lost”. – Cyrus Webb, “Conversations Book Club”

Texas is just the first stage in a seven-stage journey the author is beginning that will cover towns and cities throughout the Midwest, South, and East Coast, culminating in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts in July.

An example of his talks, readings, and dialogue is a recent stop in Taos, New Mexico, where he held a reading at SOMOS, Society of the Muse of the Southwest.

The post for that talk is on his Traveling to a New America Facebook Page.

Discussion at SOMOS in Taos, New MexicoA few comments from the audience in Taos were as follows:

“I was deeply moved by your talk.  It resonated on many levels.”

“It was inspiring and challenging.  The author is a combination of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bernie Sanders, Karl Marx, the Buddha, Ralph Nader, and Walt Whitman.”

“I enjoyed your presentation, especially your optimism and dedication.  I am inspired to remain optimistic in these changing times.”

For more information on the author, visit his website.