The Never-ending story

March 27, 2008

The Never-ending story


Ted Burnett

The only real story that is repeatedly told throughout time and is captured in so many famous stories in the Bible, in American and world history rages on today uninterrupted as never before, like a large roaring pot of red fiery crawfish under a hot summer sun along the shores of Mobile Bay. It’s the source of all things good and the enemy of all things evil. It’s the source of health, wholeness and authenticity and enemy of insanity, rot, emptiness and phoniness. It’s the source of having a strong backbone, guts, an iron stomach, a soft heart and a gentle spirit and the enemy of powerlessness, codependency, cold and callous attitudes, guilt and shame, all addictions, any and all things lacking in dignity and moral character.

It’s the source of happiness, joy, hope and gratitude and the enemy of sadness, depression, despair, suicidal and homicidal thoughts and behaviors. It’s the source of inner contemplation and the enemy of comparisons. It’s the source of timeless inner beauty and the enemy of facelifts, botox injections, breast implants, nips and tucks, gastric-bypass, tattoos and multiple body piercings located in unspeakable places. It’s the source of contentment and the enemy of never-ending wants. It’s the source of peace of mind and the enemy of inner conflict, violence, chaos, envy and greed. It’s the source of all wisdom and the enemy of total ignorance.

Nations have fought over it and colonies have fought for it. The leaders of movements and of nations have been assassinated for advancing it. From the stories of the Old Testament, to the core message in the New, from the American Revolution to the American Civil War, from women’s rights to civil rights for all, from the tyranny of Europe and Asia to the tyranny of the world, millions upon millions have died for it, to the economic battles within industries and countries to corporate globalization and to the total fixation with Wall Street and the U.S. dollar. What is this epic battle that has man siding for and against this cause since the beginning of his time – freedom, freedom, freedom, does anything else matter?

The self-evident Wellspring feeding this taproot is our Creator; it’s all about having a personal relationship with our Higher Power and not some fixed, communal one. Jesus’ words were captured in The Gospels stating it so plainly that, “The truth shall set you free.” Thomas Jefferson succinctly explained it in the Declaration of Independence, standing above a bloodstained battlefield in Pennsylvania – Lincoln reminded a nation at war with itself about it. Mohandas Gandhi spoke of it, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill affirmed that’s what World War II was all about and Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington DC to speak this same truth before hundreds of thousands of Americans at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. His words rang out across a reflecting pool, across a black and white-colored country and around the world.

Today, we stand looking at an inept, pathetic, dead nation where its citizens are fearful of their own self-image in the bathroom mirror and its very own government established solely to serve them. Our paralyzed federal government leadership has collapsed from within at the nation’s Capitol, Egos run rampant and we have all become slaves. The plantations are back in business. Recent presidents and presidential candidates look like a bunch of amateurs, where’s Jefferson or Lincoln? Washington and its agencies are bogged down with endless meetings and a million different warring agendas. The five-sided Pentagon should have been built in the shape of a ring with God, valor, honor and the truth at its center. In reality, it’s a radioactive farm producing way too many chiefs with rank, a building full of military secrets and lies and the brainwashing of new recruits at places like Fort Jackson and Parris Island, SC. Our military for all its hi-tech weaponry has been rendered impotent in a Persian sand trap with its slow and ancient ways.

President George W. Bush has repeatedly justified signing legislation into law that has stripped Americans of their liberties and privacy rights as the only natural remedy for defending our borders and the citizen’s “freedom” from “the terrorists” halfway around the world. Flying the family to Florida, California, New York or DC for a weeklong vacation has become a burden of small bottles of clear liquids and please, no bottled water. Some freedom, some fun we are enjoying. How much did Osama bin Laden invest on planning, training and carrying out the 9/11 attacks and how much we are spending retaliating like some five-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in the world’s sandbox?

After seven years, he’s still alive and driving us into bankruptcy, insanity and death. I bet Wall Street’s investment firms, like Bear Stearns, would die for his same ROI (return on investment). Sitting somewhere in a cave is a bearded genius; he must be enjoying a good laugh to our stupid overreaction in the name of patriotism, in the name of saving face at the expense of our ass. Negotiating with him, bribing him, soon after the attacks on NYC and on Washington now looks a whole lot cheaper than this failed war, restructuring our government under Homeland Security and a seemingly endless presence in Iraq. If that’s our best and brightest at work then it would explain why this country has fallen apart.

The United States is seeking to build an impenetrable wall minus the water-filled moat full of alligators along its Mexican border to keep out the only people with a solid work ethic and a desire to work all day long. A more sinister reason to keep the Latin Americans out than the bogus “national security” argument being pushed is to prevent them from becoming a rapidly growing majority in “the land of the free.” The white man is terrified of these Indians and this very thought. Call on U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (AL-R), who knows something about being denied entry — into the elite club of federal judges, to work on this unacceptable and latest wave of immigration. Damn the immigrants. On behalf of his god-fearing and gun-toting Christian Conservative Republicans from the Wild West, their raised protest would be political suicide back home. This nation’s dominant religions are seeking to destroy another one from the East all the while destroying them. Their harden-hearts don’t radiate the life of Jesus Christ, but instead represent his very own assassins – the Pharisees. As Jesus said while dying on the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they do not know what they are doing.” Its two thousand years later, has anything changed? No seed of peace will ever germinate on this arid and impenetrable surface know as their hearts. Separation of church and state has totally failed. These corrupt organizations should all be run out of this country like St. Patrick so famously did with the “snakes” of Ireland. They have caused enough trouble here with their discriminating white men know-it-all ways.

Americas’ workers, unaware of their hidden talents that will lead them to a new freedom and to a new happiness, are slaving away dispassionately on the factory floors, in warehouses, sitting in cubicles by the thousands in office towers, driving around town in company cars, delivery trucks and across the country in tractor trailers always wrapped around their necks in a choke hold is a telephone cord, email devices and smart phones with lots of text messaging to read and to respond. The forty-hour workweek has strangled the life out of all of them. All are dead to the genuine and beautiful world knowing only to fear the many illusions promulgated by society about life while living solely for the future to someday, one day, but never today, enjoy one’s retirement that is rapidly disappearing like sand through an hour glass and their fingers. They will never enjoy one due to an ever-decaying moral character of most every American that is undermining our institutions in pursuit of this celebrity-obsessed way of life.

Our fifteen minutes of fame as a nation has already expired. We have truly become our own American Idol – applauding our ridiculous selves each night. We are currently sailing through a field of icebergs across the North Atlantic and have unknowingly struck one if not several caused by global warming. The USS America is a sinking ship, jump off of it, now. Who’s causally walking to their lifeboats toting their favorite martini and who is frantically rearranging the deckchairs on top? There’s a major gash in the ship’s hull and water is flooding the engine room. The decision to blow a sum of two or three trillion dollars in Mesopotamia looks like the same foolish behavior of a former New York Governor romancing a high-priced hooker with a wad of cash. There’s lots of hot and heavy action, but never a victory parade down Broadway to show for it.

We have a sub-prime scandal and record-breaking home foreclosures of some two percent of all U.S. homes due to “free markets” removing every safeguard including the down payment and sound underwriting. Brick and mortar banks are now insurance companies, Wall Street brokerage firms are now mortgage companies and vice versa. Look for the government to bail out the bad actions of the “free markets,” again. They don’t appear so free with a billion dollar price tag, failed mortgage companies and investment banks. The crime of the century is that nobody will ever serve even one day in jail for this national blunder. The U.S. Treasury Secretary is using a “whack a mole” approach to stabilize the naturally occurring ebb and flow in the cycles of, both, nature and in economies with six hundred dollar checks shot out like birdshot across America. Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart should benefit greatly from Uncle Sam’s schizophrenic conduct.

Our elite northeast colleges and universities that award degrees to the country’s cream de la crème and whose graduates are currently running most every aspect of Washington have failed this nation, utterly. They are responsible for this national embarrassment. These Ivy League schools with a reputation for producing American Presidents should be put out of business, forever, like a bullet to a sick cow’s head. My reasons include lots of claims of product liability and defect, errors and omissions and malpractice. Their big shot graduates brandishing degrees like MDs, MBAs, PhDs and Jurist Doctorates have made a mess of the District of Columbia, Wall Street, Public Education, Healthcare and America’s inequitable legal system. They have betrayed this nation and are a huge disgrace. A lot of innocent people have gotten hurt due to their self-serving misconduct. They should all be thrown under America’s jails and prisons; we have enough cell space to hold some two million of them. We are raring to go and ready to round up all of these real criminals.

The only acceptable course correction for this nation and each one of its citizens is to set sail for True north to reclaim their souls and to start drinking from the same community well, if it’s not already contaminated. As Ben Franklin phrased it at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” We are definitely well hung. Our federal safety nets known as Social Security and Medicare programs are under funded and they are feeling some serious strain. With diminished retirement accounts due to a conscienceless stock market run-amuck fueled by fear and greed and virtually no personal savings stowed away in Mason Jars buried in the backyard for a rainy day, this will surely leave many Americans holding the bag with nothing to show for their forty-years of hard labor.

Fear another enemy of freedom runs rampant in our culture. Constant fear of people, places and things equals slavery. Fear is broadcasted over mainstream media, daytime and primetime TV, newspapers, magazines and on talk radio, all day long. The prime time programming served up each night, like a bowl of ice cream, by the major networks is filled with violence, foul language, sexual content, bathtubs full of blood and dissected corpses lying on stainless steel examining tables. So life-like, I often wonder if they are living breathing models playing possum for Hollywood’s camera. With the new flat screen technology, the viewer can actually see the deceased named America quickly decomposing. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that is responsible for regulating these licensed networks has turned a blind eye to the media’s misdeeds and their backs on the mental health of every American family thus sanctioning these unconscionable and emotionally disturbing shows.

We are hooked on sleeping aids, as they now call them, to knock us out – each night. Our sleep is anything, but peaceful or restful – it has become a restless leg nightmare. There’s not just one CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) each week, but two. There’s one or two of these blood-type shows per night on the Columbia Broadcasting System, alone. Where’s the first protest from anyone – a parent, a preacher or the president? I don’t hear a peep out of anyone. Just announced this week, CBS has just purchased the rights to televise caged-fighting of humans (Lord no, not the dogs or cocks) due to the wildfire ratings that this weekly bashing gets on cable TV. God must be wondering why he even bothered with us in the first place. Is this great entertainment or just another indication that we are living in an octagon chain-link asylum, in a living hellhole and truly on the brink of self-implosion?

We are a nation of addicts – another sure enemy of freedom in our need to please relationships with almost anyone and everyone we know, to our need for mind-altering drugs beginning at the age of 13 excluding Christmas and birthdays, of course. A variety of colorful painkillers and sleeping pills, raided from mom’s medicine cabinet, look more like M&Ms, when dumped altogether, in a large bowl at pill parties. It’s all the rage among our teenagers. And then there’s our never-quenched thirst for more material goods, for more money, for Manhattan financial advice, for Hollywood values, for Las Vegas-style mottos, for more gutless DC politics, for more wild sex in a threesome. For having a church, synagogue, temple or mosque on almost every street corner in America, it looks like the many cities of Sodom and Gomorra are thriving and doing just fine.

I don’t hear any holier than thou ministers speaking up about these immaterial social troubles while driving around town in their black German luxury cars. Instead, they are selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts, with the youth group, as a fundraiser on Saturday mornings along the roadway for a youth mission trip to Costa Rica, a safe and small country and the most stable democracy in Latin America. These kids will surely have fun “saving” plenty of American expatriates. Sadly, these kids aren’t going on a real mission to see New Orleans’s lower ninth ward, Detroit, Michigan, Houston, Texas or to the many other degraded U.S. inner cities to witness how the poor, the homeless, the addicted, prostitutes and the rest of the sick, live. That’s where Jesus lived and did his best work. The “strong” never listened to him, back then or today. Christianity has constantly claimed Jesus Christ, as its Savior; yet, they seem unable to mark his birth or death and resurrection on its own merits. How boring and respectful would that be – sounds kind of like church?

Instead, these annual dates are rung in with the debauchery of Black Friday where the insane stand outside of storefronts, at three a.m. on a cold November night, to save two hundred dollars off on a ten foot-wide TV for their McMansion or twenty dollars off on that must have food processor, in limited supply. In the spring, they wear their Sunday best to attend the Easter Sunday service followed by an egg hunt on church grounds receiving a basket full of chocolates and belly beans, a staged photo with a life-size Easter Bunny to mark Christ’ resurrection. No crown of thorns, blood, sweat or tears on this glorious day. I am sure the Son of God would be so proud to know this. How wonderful is all this and how pitiful is all this? We are – the Goliath – which the rest of the world sees and hates. We are one big lie – a giant Enron wrapped in an American flag. Where’s David when you really need him to kick some ass? When is Jesus’ second coming, for Christ’s sake, he needs to hurry up? One’s past always explains one’s present. We continue to deny the truth as we write our happy, kinder and gentler version of American history that’s palatable without all the guilt and shameful stuff over the white man’s barbaric acts to others. Has there even been this first apology to the Native Americans, African slaves or any other groups of immigrants persecuted? The time is now.

My focus as a fellow with the New America Foundation will be to explain the American spiritual crisis that has blossomed for four centuries into so many political and social thorns, to put American’s untold and ugly history into some perspective and how this haunting past has a firm grip on our male genital, still today. From our indoctrination into world religions that are so full of lies thus creating corrupt belief systems and psyches that have warped hundreds of millions of lives and generations of families going all the way back to the ancient times. When the first tribes established one in the Holy Land and started calling themselves – Israelites and God’s chosen people. From that point on, they began seeing differences with all other communities and soon broke away from the rest of civilization, if only mentally. Those man-made labels have now metastized like cancer spreading throughout each and every society tricking man into believing that his new degree, fancy title or status somehow makes him unlike and even better than his fellow man. Even, if the difference is only in skin pigment. This belief has been the origins of all conflicts, battles and wars. It has led to the total isolation of man – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. It has caused an untold amount of pain and suffering.

I will also show how our warped education system from top to bottom is twisted and incompetent and how to bring it back to life. I will point out how our dysfunctional government – the U.S. Administration and Congress and their twisted agendas have consistently lead to the creation of bad laws, regulations and mandates – funded and unfunded – and put unfair burdens on every citizen, U.S. town, city and state. I will address how it instills fear in practically every so-called “free” American. Sorry to say, but most of us really aren’t all that free. Keep it simple. That means simplifying things like the income tax code and tax returns, voting on Saturdays instead of on Tuesday – a busy workday for many. Either, you grow or you go. This nation is gone.

And finally, I will offer “the only smart way forward” returning personal and universal truth back into the public discourse through all media outlets, in every classroom, workplace and injecting spirituality and individual freedom back to the citizen. The hole that this country has dug is more than two hundred years old and deeper than an oil well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s going take some time and the full cooperation of every man, woman and child. This is a total screw-up of Biblical proportions. My best advice is to simply wake up to this obvious truth, to this reality and to God. Drop your fixed beliefs and filters for surviving life and starting living it. Don’t call your attorney, just yet.

We simply have to rewash our desecrated minds, bodies and souls; we have to unlearn the all garbage that we learned and believe about each other, about our world and most importantly, about ourselves. It’s fit for a landfill, not to be stuffed in the hearts, minds and souls of human beings and the children of God. These are the only two labels that matter in life. We have to unlearn all the lies and embrace the sweet truth, embrace reality, and reconnect to our long exiled Heavenly Father. He was kicked out of most every American home, church, school, business, courtroom, playground, stadium and sports arena, casino, bar and strip club, public square, state capital, Congress, the White House and even the Supreme Court along time ago. You read that right.

Once again, we must strike a balance in work and in play, between the state’s rights and the federal government, between its three branches, between this nation and all of its global neighbors. We have a lot of amends to make to ourselves, to God and to the world. We are only as sick as our secrets and boy; do we have a lot of them? What was the government’s role in the JFK assassination and the cover up? After forty-five years, isn’t it about time for our federal government to come clean and air this piece of dirty laundry? I have heard some wild first-hand accounts. How many national security secrets are there? That sounds like a question out of the board game Trivial Pursuit, but I have never once heard the answer. I bet our obsession with protecting them has killed our spirit and driven us neurotic, than any possible harm those documents could have done in the hands of our foes.

It’s time to put this matter under God’s giant spotlight to kill all the infections and bacteria in this nation’s intestines before any real business of Obama’s change can occur. If Congress doesn’t want to get on board, we will bring every one of them up on criminal charges of treason, bribery, stupidity and anything else we can get to stick to the wall. The case should be a slam-dunk. With five hundred and thirty-five cherry trees lining the Potomac River and some strong rope – we can carry out some swift justice – Texas-style. Sorry, there will be no time for appeals, but maybe a little time for some waterboarding.

This line of thinking that you just read didn’t evolve from my one-year of writing; I can assure you of that. This insight came about from a new way of life that I began evolving slowly nineteen years ago, on March 26. And I didn’t come by it cheaply, either. For the truth and freedom, I have come to know are indeed very expensive. How expensive – try losing one’s life? At the beginning, I was confronted with personal and family issues, finishing out my remaining years of high school then I spent the next five pursuing a college degree. Due to my learning disability, I passed up applying for law school and then wondered aimlessly from job to job (I never understood the depths of my struggle) before throwing up my hands in complete defeat and giving up, at the ripe old age of 34.

This way of life has cost me many meaningful relationships including with everyone of my groomsmen, old friends and new ones, a cherished marriage, my career, my mental health, my reputation – a two-time casualty and it got me kicked out of graduate school. It has sent me handcuffed to jail and into mental hospitals, it made me a subject of character assassinations and ridicule, it forced me to break all ties with my only living parent and my extended family ignores my writings or tells me to quit producing this disturbing crap and to get a “real job.” My politics of spirituality is so unpopular that I seem to make almost everyone pretty damn mad. I know how Jesus must have felt. I think that I might have even been blackballed by my Confederate flag-waving hometown, but I don’t know that for sure. Nobody will call to tell me. The city leaders and my old schoolmates don’t want to read any of my new thoughts on moving forward because they are all stuck in the past.

There’s no room or freedom to think differently. I have paid a high price to break every last shackle, one at a time, but it has now become worth every bit of the pain and suffering. I have become liberated and the sky is now the limit. Today, I live the highest quality of life bar none ever so simply based on a set of spiritual principles. I have been applying them to my life for nearly two decades. I have been tested by life and I have passed with flying colors. I now see the full spectrum without any filters, any distortions or illusions. Over the years, I have had a slow death and resurrection experience and I touched the face of God. In the game of life, I have come know that the end zone is painted in giant letters with the word – “freedom” – spelled out. That’s where I stand spiking my ball and giving myself a high-five. I am happy as a lark and I am living out my best life, yet. I am free of a thousand forms of fear. Today, I live each day, the way that I want. I dress the way that I want. I go where I want. I am free to think, to say and to write about whatever comes to mind. I am a lucky man and I am truly living out the American dream. I live life without any formulas, that’s called faith.

Only getting paid to write would taste as delightful as eating a large plate piled high with spicy, hot crawfish, ears of yellow corn and a few red potatoes, on the side. To chase it all down, how about a tall glass of sweet iced tea. I relax under the green canopy of a centuries-old Live Oak enjoying the bay breeze, while pinching tails and sucking an occasional crawfish head. I glance back to my large pot of boiling water as it continues to rage on like never before. History shows that one doesn’t defend their freedom instead one has to fight for it. Even, if it means losing one’s precious life. Now, that’s worth fighting for and I am living proof. It was a total accident and I take no credit. My part was simply walking down the narrow path of truth and stumbling into lilies of the valley to my good fortune.

I am a Renaissance man with an understanding in many subjects including fields that I have not even studied or worked the first day. In my essays, I regularly debunk conventional thinking and countless experts. After a year of writing, explaining my insight has become pretty darn easy. My essays make a lot of people mad and others squirm in silence. In 2002, and, at the age of 32, I began writing for the first time after having a nervous breakdown. Sensing changes in brain function, I took an IQ test and scored a whopping 142. The test score was a forty-point upward swing from my previous score taken in the eighth grade. The test results confirmed why I was now “connecting the dots” in my head on the stories of Creation and original sin, David and Goliath. I have never given a second thought to these stories in childhood. I went on to figure out the only viable long-term solution for peace in the Middle East without either side bearing arms or receiving billions in U.S. aid as hush money, each year. A hint, all it requires is a change of heart of all those involved. I have written on the topics of free will, Alabama politics, the U.S. Government’s crummy treatment of its soldiers and veterans, freedom and slavery, free markets, Christianity’s hijacking of Jesus’ message, human development, psychology, sociology, mental illness, alcoholism and recovery, spirituality, dysfunctional family and organizational systems.

Recently, I provided the city leaders in my hometown with a cultural and social assessment of our static city. My comments were pretty damning, but always honest. Not surprisingly, the report fell on deaf ears. I didn’t receive the first acknowledgement of my email or ideas from the chamber president, a bank president, the former mayor or a county official. However, Congressman Jo Bonner (AL-R) came to my rescue by personally writing me. He noted in his hand written correspondence of my “flair for writing” and “keen perspective” on the city of Mobile and the state of Alabama. He encouraged me to seek funding for my writing venture through the local universities. His act of kindness was a complete surprise and definitely a message from God. His note served as a confidence builder and signpost on my road to destiny.

I have first-hand experience with the criminal justice system due to my bipolar disorder that first surfaced while getting married (of all things) in 2002. Weeks later and still in an untreated manic state, the police Tazered me in my front yard as neighbors and old friends looked on in horror. Rather than take this visibly sick person to a psychiatric hospital for immediate treatment, instead I was rushed straight to jail and processed like some criminal – photographed and fingerprinted. That’s absurd, unnecessary and inhumane. Is that how we deal with heart attack, stroke or seizure victims – take ‘em to jail?

In my twenty-hour stay, I received no mental health attention or any treatment prior to being transferred out to a psychiatric evaluation unit across town. In 2006, during my latest episode, the police choked me in order to subdue me. Once again, I was driven to “Metro” Jail instead of going to a nearby hospital for medical care. Hours later during “lights out” at ten o’clock, I was unstable with no meds in my system, after forty plus hours without any sleep, and feeling paranoid of the other ten inmates in “the wedge.” Each pie-shaped wedge contains an open dayroom with two or three fixed tables and stools, a TV and a community shower, four or five cells downstairs and the same number up. Each cinderblock cell contains a single steel slab with a plastic sleeping mat, stainless steel sink and toilet.

This hotel has some of the worst accommodations that I have ever encountered. The food served is intentionally repulsive – toast with a yellow substance tasted like piss, chicken and dumplings are served with bones, a serious choking hazard. I ate only one awful meal and I refused to eat again during my two brief stays. The housekeeping doesn’t clean your “room”, there’s no remote to silence the incessant chatter from the one TV that fills the dayroom constructed of concrete and concrete blocks. Always airing, are episodes of Texas Justice, Judge Judy, Judge Alex and People’s Court…never Dr. Phil or Oprah. Are officials trying to send a message? If so, what? By comparison, I have vacationed at some nice resorts in my short life including at a golf Mecca on a renowned South Carolina barrier island, where U.S. Presidents, Secretaries of State and Persian Princes have rested their bones in five-star accommodations, and once at a top-rated resort in Costa Rica. By a mile, the jail gets the worst rating in every category. It doesn’t have to be this way. The reason for the harsh conditions of these corrections facilities can be simply explained as a reflection of the hearts of Americans – many of them claiming to be followers of Christ.

Only a sheriff that fears God in his own heart would go out of his way to destroy his fellow man rather than run an infirmary and serve as the Shepard to the Lost, to sick and create an environment of healing. It’s your best opportunity to implement a true crime prevention program; where else do you have such a high concentration of criminals as a captive audience? You can’t get that at a concerned citizens meeting at the local community centers or on the streets. Only when the criminal justice system decides to swap an attitude of righteous judging and punishing for understanding, compassion and love will there be any good done, will there be any healing for the emotionally crippled. Cultivating the right therapeutic environment whether at a hospital, jail or prison leads to same outcome – healing of the patient. The sheriff is making a choice – consciously or not.

It’s an expensive daily decision that reflects ultimately on his moral character and at the expense of a high number of incarcerated young black males. The poor treatment negatively compounds their already low or no self-image and self-worth leading to a high recidivism rate as these young men commit more crimes while under the influence of alcohol and drugs and slipping further into society’s cracks. How do you have a drastic impact on the crime statistics – build men and women up to the point where even they begin to believe their worth saving. The conventional wisdom of the experts is built on an enslaving principle and reminding these poor addicts that they’re worthless because of their inappropriate behavior while bad, not while sick. Is that what Jesus would say? If you believe a person or a group of people is disposable then it doesn’t matter how you treat them – may they be – convicts, addicts, prostitutes, pedophiles, the mentally ill or retarded, gays or lesbians, diseased with AIDS…or Mexican. Isn’t that how Germany’s Adolph Hitler saw it? When a government can destroy some of its people, then nobody is safe.

As the inmates made their way to their respective cells, I found myself sharing one with someone else. That put too many bad thoughts in my altered mind and the idea of sharing the tiny quarters became totally unacceptable. I decided to retreat back to the dayroom. As the last of the inmates were filing upstairs, I noticed through the giant glass partition, separating the wedge from the COs observation platform, two burly black COs entering the dayroom. As men of the law, I was comforted by their arrival and suspected nothing. However, seconds later it would be lights out for me as I was struck in the face by one of them. I suffer a permanent loss of memory of the seconds leading up to the assault until I regained a state of conscious in the cell. I have yet to receive the first apology from the sheriff, the jail’s warden or his assistant. After all, I have asked. Last April, the sheriff was made aware of this incident when I spoke with the assistant warden. The sheriff and the assistant warden currently receive my monthly commentaries. When you are on the “right” side of the law, I guess you can never do any wrong. That sounds like America’s foreign policy. We are always the good guys, never the bad.

The following morning, I was taken to a local hospital for treatment. After being physically violated in the previous night’s episode and still paranoid, I refused to let anyone put a hand on me or sew a stitch in me. Right there in the ER waiting room, I declared numerous times to my small audience of deputies, doctors and nurses that “I was my own doctor” and “I was my own lawyer” while standing there handcuffed and in leg shackles. With that pronouncement and refusing all treatment we loaded back up in the van for the return trip back to jail. Talk about taking back my power with my voice and control over my body. That’s a critical step to reclaiming one’s freedom, one’s life. I was shocked at their reaction by capitulating to me. Where did that inspiring message come from? I believe it was the voice of God.

I had the opportunity to testify twice in my two different commitment hearings against my mother’s petition. While I lost in both decisions, I gained more insight into how the legal system works. Today, I relish the old idea of being a trained attorney. Months later, I would learn that my manic testimony impressed the judge. After I finished giving my statement, he called for a sidebar with the two attorneys. He informed the attorney for the petitioner, who was also my next-door neighbor, to either put on more medical testimony to keep me in the hospital or the good judge was going to rule in my favor and set me free. What did I say in open court? Basically, that it was not my job to prove my sanity, but the petitioners’ burden. Evidently, the judge was listening and agreed.

In the assault, my two front teeth were severely damaged and my chin was busted from the “cheap shot.” Today, a small scar is visible. The punch knocked me out cold for several minutes before “coming to” in the cell and finding my chest and shorts soaked in blood. Apparently, the CO who struck me was wearing a large gold ring or maybe just a wedding band. My neighbor would later tell me that when he came to the wedge that next afternoon to retrieve me, he wrongly assumed that the dried blood on my face was from my lunch – maybe barbeque. The quote to repair my teeth stands at three grand; I don’t have that kind of money. My longtime dentist rebuilt my teeth with a bonding compound as a temporary solution. They are not quite square and every time I flick my tongue across the backside its roughness serves as a reminder.

A 2006 survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics supported my experience of the danger to the nearly one million mentally ill warehoused in America’s jails and prisons; the report stated that the two (the mentally ill and corrections facilities) do not make for good cellmates. One key reason is that the untreated mentally ill are irrational leading to them breaking the “house” rules with regularity. My assault was validated in the report as an incident that commonly occurs to the mentally ill at the hands of other inmates, as well as, from poorly trained COs. When you’re irrational your perception is off regarding, both, personal safety and threats. Last year, I began working with a state legislator to address this injustice by getting some legislation drafted and presented in the Alabama state legislature. Protecting human life is moving at a snail’s pace, apparently it’s not a hot button issue with either political party.

Justice – where there’s an absence of God, it simply cannot and does not exist. My interaction with law enforcement and the staff of the jail was eye opening and something that I don’t want to ever endure again. As always, I learned some valuable life lessons and more humility. I have come to believe that it’s all cruel and unusual punishment for everyone involved including the COs, the wardens and to the rest of the staff who are running these asylums. An older deputy who shuttles the mentally ill to and from the evaluation unit to their commitment hearings at probate court said working inside the jail is extremely tense. When man’s job is to conquer, to control and to imprison his fellow man – something is totally wrong. It’s a clear sign that society is functioning on a superficial, callous level. This statement is true inside families, in churches, schools, fraternal and social organizations, work, law enforcement field tactics, jail design and operations, asylums and in society. This happens with great regularity in every sick organism and is the source of slavery for all involved. Either, we are all free or all slaves, but we can’t be unconsciously some of both. “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent”, spoken by Abraham Lincoln

I have spent over nine weeks locked up in three different mental hospitals and psych wards in my county of residence and one week in a facility in Tallahassee, FL. I believe that my incarceration and taking mental notes was well spent. Along with my compliance with my doctor’s orders and my long periods of stability makes me the perfect expert on how to treat the mentally ill with love and compassion rather than what takes place in these modern-day dungeons with very little therapeutic value. These facilities are ice cold to the touch, under great tension and waste a lot of time and money. Poor treatment practices leads to high recidivism rates. My probate judge once told me, “His courtroom is a revolving door.”

Harden attitudes by society and even among mental health professionals must change for everyone’s sake. It makes slaves out of everyone. These experts consisting of doctors, nurses, counselors and therapists have gotten it all wrong by looking down at their fellow man. How many professionals want to identify with their mentally ill patient or client – not many? That is a major unaddressed impediment in the mental health field the size of Mt. Everest. We are a society of lunatics – what’s there to really deny? Only a man that denies is own suffering can deny the suffering of another. With all their degrees and knowledge, they don’t seem to understand mental illness or recognize its impact on an emotional, mental and spiritual level. Overlooking these serious issues will lead to failure most every time.

In my case, I already knew the drill. I have since met or heard many accounts from others with mental illness and their search to make peace with their illness. With its cruel label and social stigma, it’s a real personal struggle. Not one of my doctors, nurses or counselors has ever inquired into the details of my recoveries or any of my manic episodes. They have never once asked me what my secret is. I don’t believe anyone can really understand the obstacles unless you have been through this hell. I can assure you that it was more than simply swallowing a combination of medications each day that got me back on the road to recovery. The doctors only seem to know one thing – how to prescribe psychotropic drugs. That’s not enough of a solution and the failure rate bears it out.

In May 2002, Fortune magazine published a story on CEOs with dyslexia. Mentioned in the piece was Billionaire Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, Cisco System’s CEO John Chambers, and attorney David Boise of Microsoft fame. All shared a similar nightmare experience of going to school, being called names or getting in fist fights and the searing mental and emotional trauma of struggling in the classroom for years. All survived the painful events and along the way found their gift from dyslexia.

Also named was Paul Orfalea of “Kinko’s”, former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton, now, College Board President, Bill Samuels, CEO of Marker’s Mark, biologist Craig Venter, he was instrumental in mapping the human genome, and Craig McGraw, who pioneered the cellular industry and sold his company to AT&T for over $11 billion. These once seemingly hopeless kids are now wildly successful executives. Who will be the next one – me? It is believed that Einstein, Bell, Edison, Ford and Disney all had this same gift. Dyslexic writers include Hans Christian Andersen, Agatha Christie, Fannie Flagg – author of Green Fried Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and W. B. Yeats. Famous political leaders with dyslexia include Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Churchill, Wilson, and JFK.
Both, Lincoln and Churchill suffered from mental illness – melancholy and bipolar disorder, respectively. Certainly, these illnesses shaped these two great men and their outlook on the world, as bipolar disorder has done with me. The older I get and the more that I write, the more that I learn about myself. I know that I am in some great company and that I am pretty interesting. I believe that the time is right for another mentally ill person and/or dyslexic, or both, to occupy the White House, to help this ailing government and our toxic society take a giant mental, emotional and spiritual step forward. And that will be me.

Ted Burnett

I am available for speaking, consulting and political advising. My other essays can be viewed at my blog @ All essays are available in a MS Word format upon request. I can be contacted by email: Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved. “The Never-ending story” by Ted Burnett.

 Ted Burnett: I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: