Any Port in a Storm: “Someone to speak for me”

Last year the “Duck Dynasty” crew became famous for espousing what might be considered right wing Christian values including, not surprisingly, a homophobic rant. I began to hear people praising the group, some going so far as to say that they were thrilled that people of such “high level” status were acting as advocates for their strongly held beliefs.


It was after the third similar claim about Duck Dynasty by someone I know, that I began to feel uneasy. This forced me to think about what was bothering me. The Duck Dynasty folks were an overnight sensation, their pictures all over Walmart, just like Miley Cyrus used to be. The similarity between the two is that they have been made into marketing prostitutes for big business. They drained the market dry for all that it would bear. Make no mistake: their status in the world is based on money, not ethics or faith.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Duck Dynasty is a reality show. It is most likely scripted as most reality shows are. The family is portrayed as goofy backwoodsman getting themselves into Beavis and Butthead level hijinks; there is nothing edifying about this nor is there anything substantial to learn from most of the material on the show. In other words they are not paragons in our society. The purpose of the show, from the start, was to tap into the boom market of reality television. It is doubtful, considering the silly things that happen on the show, that the family entered into the project with the idea of spreading right wing positive values. It they had, I would expect there would be more dignity in their show. Perhaps episodes about conservation, charity, or actual lessons about the role of faith in life would be a worthwhile addition. But the Dynasty crowd are, if nothing else, shrewd businessmen.

What makes people like this rallying point for a cause? Is it because they are on T.V.? But as we’ve learned anyone can get on T.V. if they have even a slightly interesting format. And why are they doing it?


To me the answer is apparent; they are doing it only for money.

What occurred to me is that Christians have been under fire due to the strident proselytizing of a very small minority. Coming from New York I find Christian bashing offensive, despite not being Christian. In New York the lines between groups are blurred. I’m not saying, “some of my best friends are Christians” or I had “nice” relationships with some Christians. For many years my best friend was Christian, as were a number of my girlfriends. That’s New York, another blog entirely and can be read here.

So when someone says something like, “Christians are always trying to control other people”, I ask, “Which one?” This usually knocks them back a few feet when they realize that their opinions about Christians may have been formed on the basis of stories they’ve heard, not experiences they’ve had.

Hearing their own values being stated on national T.V. by the Duck Dynasty crew has become one of the few opportunities for some Christians to have their views aired after a drought in which there was little expression of their views and their faith. Yet, I would guess that if we were not in a world of reality T.V. and a world where faith is disparaged, Christians would turn away from the likes of the Duck Dynasty crew because of their motivations for airing the show and the content of the show itself.

This is not a blog about Christianity whose values are not those of greed and do not condone manipulating the truth to make money. The fact that this is not about Christianity will become apparent very soon. I’m going to shift from reality T.V. to the cult of personality. You’ll see that they function in much the same way.

Within the last few months Donald Trump has made himself a possibly viable candidate for President on the GOP ticket. Being from New York myself, I could see some of you taking my disgust with the “Dynasty” crowd as being due to the fact that I am not a country boy and that I just don’t “get it”. Not so with “The Donald”. Trump is everywhere in New York, following all of us around in small ways. His failures decades ago were big news. The building I worked in just before leaving New York was torn down and replaced by a “Trump Tower”.


But outside of his business acumen, Trump has always been a side show. I was not surprised that he also dabbled in reality T.V., which I assume is scripted like most of the other shows. I doubt that Penn Jillette, with his financial success, was really concerned whether he was fired or not by Donald Trump.

Many people feel that Trump represents a politician several steps up from the standard presidential candidate. I will admit that his candor is refreshing but again, Trump represents a small trickle of  political  honesty after what seems like a drought  lasting most of my lifetime; it seems like most of our presidents have played the same game of appeasing people to get elected, only to renege on most of their promises once in office.

It’s that drought of compete honesty that makes me believe that, like the Christians who were grateful for an expression of their beliefs from the mouths of the Duck Dynasty crew, the political right now feels vindicated and thrilled to hear “The Donald” say things they’ve wanted to be said.

Candor is not the same as truth, or the same as presidential skill. So far Trump has spouted statistics regarding Mexican illegal aliens that come from an unknown source. And, in fact, that is, disturbingly, one of the few times he has actually discussed anything vaguely related to relevant policy questions. For the most part Donald Trump has talked about himself and people he doesn’t like. The chasm between what Donald Trump has told us and a solid political platform is wider than the Atlantic Ocean.

What Trump does when he speaks is to bob and weave, all for the purpose of making himself look good, behavior that seems to be compulsive and uncontrollable. Imagine that kind of behavior if he were to become President of the United States. What is there to stop him from an outburst against enemies, foreign and domestic? Has he shown the patience required to carefully weigh his words or even his actions as president?

Most important, can he guarantee that he won’t let his outsized personality run wild at a critical moment in American history?


More to the point, does he have the skill and wisdom to handle foreign policy, military actions, economy building, education reform, etc? Nothing he has said has even come close to demonstrating his skill to handle even the simplest duties of a President.

I don’t hate the Duck Dynasty crew or Donald Trump. My point is this; as human beings we are vulnerable when we feel that we are “voices in the wilderness”. When someone seems to takes up our cause, or seems to, we jump at the chance to have our voices heard. Sometimes we jump too soon.

I suggest to you, all of you, that when it comes to our most important values we deserve and need more than what I would call “hucksters”. Their values are not yours.


Neil Newton: Author of “The Railroad” on Amazon


Black lives matter: Apples to Oranges

In the last week I have been…the only word that works is incredulous. I am not certain the exact circumstances surrounding every death of young black men in this country at the hands of police. But I do know that we’ve seen disturbing things. A young man shot in the back by a policeman . A man in New York is being argumentative, nothing more, and is killed by an illegal choke hold, wielded by a policeman with a past of abuse of power. A young man dies in police custody, “killed” in a paddy wagon.

I’m from New York. I was there for Abner Louima. I was there for Amadou Diallo. Being a New Yorker, the sheer weight of horror and confusion of navigating Manhattan makes you numb. Of course I was aware something was wrong. But there is so much wrong at every moment of the day, it seems like horror is simply part of the flow of time in a place like New York.

It’s only since I left New York and had years to reflect on my time there that I realized I had lived through what had to be, at the  very least, inept police actions or more seriously, brutal ones.

There are several gauntlets I have to run to complete this blog. I must, after all, have a side. My side must be the result of who I am, my skin color, my politics. They all lead in a definite direction, defining me. My opinion is not an opinion, but an agenda. I have defined “them”, the enemy, and they are wrong. Even if they are right, then they are wrong because they presume to claim something for themselves. In the end most people will read this and hope to find what they will gain and what will be taken away from them. It is war, isn’t it?
You are uncertain. I must be black. Or I must be white. I must be a conservative, or perhaps a liberal. I must be something. I must hate something. I must deny someone of something. I must take something that isn’t mine. I must trumpet my own importance at the expense of someone else’s.

It’s almost clear, isn’t it? What I am. You can almost feel it, can’t you?

I am white. I am Jewish. I grew up in New York. What if I told you I didn’t really have a side, at least in this case. What I have is a desire for results. What I endorse is not a general “kumbaya” feeling, but an end to pointless pain and suffering. It destroys everyone’s life and peace of mind. And every reaction sets off the next in an endless sequence of crap.

I’ve heard all the arguments against the “Black Lives Matter” movement. “They’re acting like they’re the only ones who are persecuted”. “Don’t white lives matter?” “It’s just an attempt to manipulate the news.”

Yes, White lives matter. There are few who would argue with that statement. So what do white people lose if someone says “Black Lives Matter”? That seems to be it. The fact that “White Lives matter” might not be as “important” as “Black Lives Matter” in a specific case makes some white people feel that they are losing something. .

Recently, a politician at a press conference responded to the phrase “Black lives Matter” by saying “White lives matter”.  After a negative reaction from the African Americans in the audience, our politician responded, publicly, with an apology.  I’ve heard Sean Hannity say that he doesn’t understand why anyone should have to apologize for saying white lives matter and giving it as much weight as “Black Lives Matter”.
In a perfect world he’d be right. But let’s look at what both statements really mean in this world. “All lives matter” is a saying that offers well wishes. But there is no particular result tied to it. People won’t fight for all lives because they can’t and they won’t. It’s an abstraction that leads to nothing.

To say that “White lives matter” in today’s America is important. But it’s like a greeting card. Are white lives at risk in the same specific way that inner city black lives are? I have been waiting for someone to say that white lives are endangered in a specific and pointed way, that the dangers can be quantified and identified. But no one has. That is because white lives are not specifically in a danger from an identifiable segment of the population. The result, again, is an abstraction.

To say “Black lives matter” is a survival tactic. There are specific identifiable dangers to young black men, especially in inner cities. It is an issue that has been identified and specific actions can be taken. Actions that may save lives.

When I hear “Black Lives Matter”, I don’t see activists with agendas. I see the mothers who have been filling my TV screen saying they are afraid their sons will be detained by police and, in the chaos that follows, be hurt or killed. Is it beyond the capabilities of the power structure in America to see a problem and help a segment of the population that is in danger?

Are we as a nation more concerned about playing word games to prove someone else wrong than addressing an actual problem? Black mothers are afraid they will lose their children. Is that so hard to understand?

What we seem to have on our hands and what we have always had on our hands, is a war of spin, not of morality. In this case, the comparisons being made are apples to oranges. This is not an issue of philosophy or spin, but an issue of saving lives. This does not mean that policemen are not able to defend themselves; that is something that is important as “Black Lives Matter”. But the strength of our legal system is that it is applied consistently across the board.  Considering that we all count on that same legal system to protect us, consistency is perhaps its most important aspect of all.

Neil Newton: Author of “The Railroad” on Amazon


It might have been.

What bugs me: time lost.

Sometimes wisdom comes from odd places. There is a very good face book page called Collective Evolution, a page I recommend. A particular post that caught my attention listed the main regrets of retirees. The list turned out to be what you would expect, based on many other previous similar posts. But there was one regret that was a bit higher up on the existential chain. Paraphrased, this particular regret was about living the way that “the world” wanted, not in a way that would be true to the person you are.
A bit lofty, I’ll admit. But I think that most people would admit some slippage in terms of “being true to oneself”. The horrifying conclusion of the oft recurring regret is that many people live their lives with the advice of the ages ringing in their ears and make the same mistake their ancestors did; they wait and hope that…something would will make it right. And it goes on.
The other bit of wisdom came from an even more unexpected source. I was watching a classic movie station that is featuring film noir for the summer. Film noir is a strange animal; its birth marked the first signs of the film industry graduating from a mostly sanitized view of American life to a study of life’s underbelly, something that has been common faire in the movies since the late sixties. The protagonist in this particular movie is an angry violent cop, so out of control that he is living on the edge of being thrown off the force. The conscience of the piece is a veteran cop who is a happily married man who makes his family his anchor in life. Catching the angry cop after one of his beat downs of a suspect, he reads him the riot act. Disgusted, our angry cop ask him, “How do you live with the job.” He’s told, “I live with other people, this is just a job. You only get out of life what you put in, from the heart.”
Silly watching a black and white hard boiled middle aged cop from a movie made in 1952 and me feeling exposed. At the age of 56 I find myself feeling the press of time but I also found myself feeling the anticipated grief for generations who are just reaching adulthood and those that have yet to come into this world. I am angry that we aren’t taught to teach our children to take reasonable risks and to try to find themselves. Or at least to try be happy.

It’s common wisdom that we all make decisions that provide the trajectory of our lives; there are always choices, they say. So if things don’t work out, it must be our fault. But choices, good choices, are informed, something that only comes from experience. If there is a reason that young adults sometimes meander, having dysfunctional relationships and taking only what crumbs come their way, is often because they have been taught that the one thing that would teach them how live, life experience and risk, is a bad thing.
So what bugs me? We are a society full conflicting messages. We treat our children like helpless morons till they reach majority and then we expect them to quickly make informed decisions about school, career, relationships with no guidance and no experience. What bugs me more is that we are often lousy stewards of our children’s growth. Encouragement to try various careers by job shadowing is an idea that has not become a trend nor will it in most parts of the U.S.

At my age there is precious little that I can do to change the trajectory of my life. Living from the heart requires years of practice. I can feel sad for myself, but I am watching teenagers and young adults struggling to figure out which way to turn. And, in many cases, I can see them beginning to waste time in the way I did.
In cultures that we would consider primitive because they don’t have cable and cellphone, young men and women are put through rituals that bring them to adulthood, psychologically, gradually and in a timely fashion. Could we do the same? I leave that question to your imagination.
What bugs me? It can be best expressed in the last line of one of the better poems I’ve read: “In all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.

Neil Newton: Author of “The Railroad” on Amazon


Disappoinment: Our financial institutions

A few days ago I received a letter from my insurance company. Due to the fact that I had two claims on my house in thirteen years of paying large premiums for auto, house, and life insurance, they have decided to “drop” me. My local agent, who I now realize has little power beyond selling and maintaining my policies, has always been wonderful. He is now only able to challenge the decision made by the underwriters in the regional office, a process that has an unknown outcome.

Of course this is outrageous and probably not particularly logical on the part of the insurance company. If they’ve payed off a few thousand dollars, they’ve gained far more than that from my premiums all these years. That pattern is the basis of the insurance industry: people pay for the unlikely possibility that they will make a claim.

What has caused this? Our economy, which is unstable at best, has created the perception that corporations have to be proactive about saving money. In the predatory world of corporate politics, the first impulse is to demonstrate savings.. It makes no difference that the company is making a profit overall; that would imply that all areas of the company knew what the other areas are doing. Anyone who has worked for a large corporation knows that various departments are siloed, sometimes wasting large amounts of money with no oversight from the company as a whole. If underwriters are told by their boss in one regional office that they have to stem the tide of insurance payouts, they will find a list of customers who fit the bill simply to justify their existence. It’s the way of American business.
So is this blog about disappointment really about insurance? Not quite. A few years ago my credit rating went down 100 points in one day. No, I hadn’t defaulted on a loan. A large, well-known, bank had taken one of my wife’s credit cards and made me the prime card holder. We never held the card in common. It was purely her’s. When I spoke to the bank, I began by speaking to their fraud department. As amazing as it may seem, the fraud department admitted that their actions were fraudulent. However the credit card department was like ice. I was told that a settlement had been made to pay off the balance on the card and “no adjustments” could be made under those circumstances. When I reminded them they had committed fraud which transcended the sanctity of their payment plan, they were unmoved and unconcerned.

So what is this blog about? Disappointment. Disappointment that the “insurance” I have is not insurance. Disappointed that a large bank with a reputation that spans one hundred years is able to blithely break the law and then defend the practice. What we have, with growing frequency, are criminals and criminal activity masquerading as critical financial services.

We can only expect this to continue. Recently I saw a new report describing how banks are now using tricks to add overdraft fees to customer’s accounts. What is most pitiful is that no one seems to be outraged by what are clearly criminal activities. That our service organizations have happily become white collar criminals does nothing to anger us. There contract with us, their customers, has been voided and we have become their prey.

This is the trend in our country. Remember that the last recession was due to irresponsible credit dealings and financial institutions cooking the books. I suppose that the philosophy in the financial industry, after seeing the “successes” of those corporations, must now be “nice guys finish last”.
This isn’t about corporate Americas a whole. These are the people who provide our basic financial foundation. If they start acting flakey or dishonest then our lives become equally shakey. For me, I now have the dilemma of possibly retaining my insurance (if they let me) and then being afraid to make another claim. This means that I essentially could have no insurance. If you consider my experience with that large bank regarding my wife’s credit card, things become a little more dangerous, as my credit rating is destroyed. I can only imagine that there are people who have had their financial status ruined completely by these criminal actions. All of us are vulnerable.

What could change this? I’m afraid it would involve a lot of energy from people who’ve been negatively affected. We would need nothing short of an enormous class action suit would to make a dent in this problem, something that would involve more energy and money than most of us have.



Suck it up!

“Suck it up”

This oft used phrase is meant to cover a lot guilt and fear. Usually it’s used when someone is afraid of someone else’s fear and suffering. I recently heard a well-known radio host referring to Robin Williams’s suicide. His beef with Robin was that he often felt depressed. His way of dealing with things was to push past the depression and get on with life. As I listened to him I wondered if he understood the nature of clinical depression, something that in severe cases, does not respond well to treatment. For victims of severe depression, life is a rollercoaster with the disease receding and peaking in unpredictable waves.

What convinces me that this particular radio host was expressing his fear is that he had studied medicine years ago. It’s unlikely that he happened to miss discussions of depression and it’s trajectory over time. The implication was that Robin Williams was simply “indulging himself” when the relief he sought was within his grasp, if only he decided to “suck it up”.

not okay

Most people would agree that love is good thing, especially for children. But many feel that any implication that giving love to children is necessary is simply whiny “kumbaya” thinking. The reality then has to be that children can do without nurturing and that the need for love is weakness and nothing more.

For the moment I’m going to make the claim that we are machines. No, I don’t think that is all we are; my point is that the conditions in our life create reactions that are involuntary, especially for children. This has been demonstrated by countless studies of the infamous orphanages in Romania that sprang up after the fall of the Soviet Union. Without fail children, who were not nurtured and held as infants and as toddlers, exhibited what is called failure to thrive. The aftermath usually involves some level of depression, mental illness, stunted physical development, dysfunctional relationships, and a laundry list of physical and mental issues.


It should be easy to accept that infants and toddlers do not make decisions as to their own development based on their “weakness”. Certainly it’s irrational to think that toddlers are capable of causing developmental problems in their own bodies. Despite this, the “suck it up” philosophy dominates our thinking. Here, in the land of rags to riches, how can anyone not have the resources to be physically, mentally, and financially fit?

Are there people who wear their tragedies on their sleeves and use them to manipulate others? Certainly there are. But there are countless numbers of people who may become one of the legions of people who need pills to make it through the day, something that is not lost on their children who learn that life is a maze of horrors that need to be navigated with care. We have a prison population that has doubled since the 80’s, generating another high dollar industry that, like the pharmaceutical industry, perpetuates itself. We run the risk of developing an economy based on dysfunction.

More to the point, we have people in our midst who are not going to engage in the pursuit of happiness without help. For many people, there is no “suck it up” available. If you take into account the fact that many damaged people become abusers or the fact that children raised by dysfunctional parents become dysfunctional themselves, we have a plague that spreads like ripples on a pond.

Like it or not, there are people on the earth who are damaged beyond the point that a pat on the back and an “atta boy” is going to make a difference. Attempts to understand these people and work to prevent them from feeling like pariahs would go a long way toward improving their lives and the state of our society.


Book, fiction, Thriller

“The Railroad” and The Hero’s Journey


Most of us go from one day to another, seeing only what’s in front of our faces. It’s the way our society functions. We grow up being told that we need to find a career, find a mate, and then everything will be in place for our happiness.

But there is a current running in us that goes against the grain of our ordinary existence. You can find it in eastern philosophy, American films like “The Matrix”, in the writings of scholars like Joseph Campbell. It lives in all of us and, especially in middle class America; we suppress it with a will that renders it comatose. With some exceptions, our parents never told us to “follow your dreams” or “take risks” or “explore the meaning of reality”. If we who ignore that little voice in our ear asking us to find “more”, formed a brotherhood of sorts, most of us, and that includes your author, would be members.

matrix pill

In the Matrix, Neo chooses the “right” pill, the pill that will allow him to achieve his destiny. Had he taken the wrong pill, he would have been left to an existence that is comprised only of sleep and dreaming. The message here is that what we see as reality is just the opposite: illusion.

For some of us, at one point in our lives, we are not given the choice of whether we experience something that transforms us radically. In my novel, “The Railroad”, the main character, Mike Dobbs, is trapped in the subway, two blocks from the World Trade Center as the towers collapse. In writing this part of the book, I had wondered if I was being a vampire, sucking the blood out of a tragedy that affected the entire world. In the end I decided that it was not that at all, that I had a reason to present this tragedy as a transforming experience.


On September 11, 2001 I found myself in a north bound number four train. The train lurched to a stop north of the Wall Street station, practically knocking me and my fellow passengers off our feet. And that’s where it stayed for half an hour until we backed up into the Wall Street station, allowing us to climb the stairs to the street. My experiences are the experiences of the protagonist in my book. Mike Dobbs also gets trapped in the subway and experiences most of what I did.

World Trade Center incident. Subway in dust-filled Wall Street station is evacuated.   Original Filename: 64j0v00m.jpgvia Flatbed Web

World Trade Center incident. Subway in dust-filled Wall Street station is evacuated.

That experience gave life to the book and, by extension, Mike Dobbs. For both of us, this experience left deep scars. And with that type of pain comes transformation. At its core, this transformation manifests itself in question and doubt. Why did this happen to me? Why did this happen to my city? How safe am I? Could this happen again? Is there any foundation to my existence that is solid?

That final question really speaks to the most damaging part of being in a tragedy of that magnitude. Security is based on consistency and a sense of place. Once that is taken away, it’s very hard to ever again think of the life in the same way. Like a child who has been abandoned by his parents, victims of tragedy feel, at least for a time, like nothing will ever be okay again.

For Mike Dobbs, his experience scars him deeply. Before his experience in the subway, Mike is a self-centered, high-powered Wall Street executive, about to reap the rewards of years of hard work in the form of a major promotion to an officer spot. Mike lives in his own universe, caring little for other people’s welfare and living off the rush of high stakes business.

When he loses his sense of invulnerability, fueled by his success in business and his wealth, Mike loses his zest for the life he had. He runs to his less than beautiful weekend house, dubbed chez Moosehead after the enormous Moose head left by the former owner. To his surprise this superstar finds that he can’t spend any time by himself. For those who are faithful to the idea of transformation through pain, this is where it begins. For Mike Dobbs, whose life was rooted in self-aggrandizement and adulation, being alone is a kind of hell.


Living in his hell, Mike hits bottom. He drinks excessively and drags himself through each day. While he doesn’t realize it, hitting his bottom opens him up to a whole new world, a world where all of his assumptions about his life become meaningless.

That is until he takes in Eileen Benoit and her daughter, Megan. Like Mike, their lives have been destroyed; in their case by Eileen’s abusive husband. Relegated to life as a fugitive, Eileen is forced to run to save her daughter from sexual abuse from her father. At first Mike is disgusted that, in the midst of his depression and misery, he’s been saddled with two females that are more damaged than he is.

And this is where the transformation begins. Mike, who has spent years thinking only of himself, is forced to think about a tragedy worse than his; back when he was big deal on “The Street”, Eileen and Megan Benoit would have been “damaged goods” and completely beneath his notice.

What I share with Mike is a similar transformation. Long before 911 I had decided to move to Tennessee to marry a woman I fell in love with. While she and her children were not plagued by the same awful circumstances as Eileen and Megan, I also took on responsibilities that I never would have considered when I lived in New York.

trial by fire

While our “positive thinking” and “self-help” culture teaches us otherwise, I believe that true transformation comes through trial by fire. It’s easy to be safe and decide to take the “wrong pill”. However, like “Neo” in the Matrix or “Luke Skywalker” from the Star Wars franchise, the only path to what might be their destiny is through trial by fire.

I hope you share my story of Mike Dobbs journey: “The Railroad” on Amazon.



The Novel, “The Railroad”: What is the Railroad?

The novel, “The Railroad”. What is the “The Railroad”?

Tomorrow, June 1st, is the release date of the second edition of my Novel “The Railroad”. Of course it was my wife that pointed out to me that the name of the book suggests many things, most of which don’t describe the book. While the subject of child abuse is part of the fabric of the story, I tried to highlight the question: what can be done to protect children from child abuse? The answer, for many parents is, “not much”.

While there have been many cases where pedophiles have been prosecuted and convicted, the legal system has historically been a crap shoot for desperate parents trying to keep their children from being brutalized. The effects of child abuse is a subject for another blog. But, certainly, it is harmful enough, long term, that protecting your child from its effects is something that will drive parents to do legally questionable things.

Let’s stop for a second. I have heard far too many people who are not interested in discussing child abuse, almost as though mentioning it is annoying and in bad taste on your part. Recent history is full of stories of women and some men, becoming fugitives and living half a life to protect their children.  But that is the tip of the iceberg because most cases of child abuse are not reported. And so we have an epidemic.

I will go out on a limb and say that America is a nation that tolerates insanity and behavior that flies in the face of our basic ethics and the constitution. Along those lines I’ll explain that the title “The Railroad” refers to the current underground railroad that takes in victims of abuse and their parents and moves them from place to place to keep them out of the hands of the legal system and, far more importantly, out of the hands of abusive parents. The idea of an underground railroad began in the 19th century, when abolitionists ferried slaves up north to freedom. This demonstrates that there is a hallowed American tradition of people of conscience challenging the law when other Americans have drunk the Kool-Aid and engaged in what history eventually judges to be aberrational and patently insane behavior.

The coverage of the new underground railroad is oddly  spotty over the years. In 1988 the New York Times published an article about the growing number of “railroad” movements. The most famous of the modern abolitionists was Faye Yeager who began a railroad organization when her husband was given custody of her child in the midst of accusation of abuse. Several years later her husband was convicted of abusing three children and became a fugitive. In the article, various people, including lawyers, made it clear that the legal system had failed children in many cases, mostly because we are unable to accept the possibility that parents can beat and rape their own children.

More recently, organizations like Child help act as a testament that abuse is still an awful problem, stating that approximately 3 million reports of child abuse are made yearly and that a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. That fact that there is a multi-state non-governmental organization such as Child help is a testament to the longevity of the problem.

Many lawyers and politicians have advised against going underground for desperate parents, most of whom are women, basically because it worsens an already tangled problem. Yet the basic problem, the abuse of children, still exists and is the problem that needs to be solved. For many parents, going underground is the only alternative.

Lest you think that this is a personal, family problem, google child abuse and the prison population. One surprising facts is that numerous studies have been done linking the propensity to commit crimes to abuse as a child. This is purely common sense but it does suggest that by ignoring child abuse we are putting a gun to our own heads; the prison population has doubled since 1985.

Between child abuse, domestic abuse, and the new scourge of human trafficking, it seems like our society might be rotting from the inside. And, perhaps worst of all, we have turned our backs on everything that makes this country a shining light in the world, the promise of justice and freedom.

As an earlier “railroader” pointed out in the New York Times article, published in 1988, “there is no north”. For abused children there is no safe place if the legal system fails them. If you had a choice between staying quiet or running to spare your child from physical and sexual abuse, what would you do?

I hope you will share my story and read, “The Railroad”, available tomorrow, June 1st on Amazon.

The Railroad on Amazon:



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