writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
Vol 5 No. 3 March 2020
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
Avoiding the Fear Rabbit Hole
I had planned to write about last month’s road trip to South Dakota—and how it further reinforced my belief that almost all of us care about each other far more than anyone believes—but then COVID-19 seized our attention. If you’d like to get a sense of what happened in SD, you can check out my blog post
Rather, at this moment, as the world grapples with a pandemic, it’s important that we do some labeling. Many, particularly those most vulnerable—folks over 60 and those with underlying health issues—are experiencing
Yes, of course we’re anxious too, but fueling that anxiety is fear attached to the unknown:
What if I or someone I love gets sick? What if there are no available hospital beds or respirators?
Of course, the questions, and the related fear, can be endless.
If we allow ourselves to go down the fear rabbit hole, we’ll only suffer even more. And a rabbit hole it is. However, that’s not to say that I don’t have some fear, because I do. I have so much more to accomplish before I go; yet, this crisis is reminding me that I may not get to choose my end point…
My suggestion: let’s all be fearless by focusing on the present and on what’s good in our lives at this very moment. Pick up the phone (or reach across the kitchen table or couch) and tell someone that you love them, that they matter to you, and that you are grateful for their presence in your life. On top of that, let’s tell our neighbors or friends that we care about them.
As I’m squarely in the at-risk demographics by virtue of my age, I’ve received several phone calls and emails from humans asking how I’m doing. My heart is so warmed by those interactions; it’s nice to know that others are thinking of me!
For this month’s stories, I’ve included a mix of everyday acts of kindness along with some that are virus-related. It’s important to be reminded that after the crisis is over, we will need to continue the work of healing America (and the world) in so many ways.
Finally, the spread of COVID-19 is proof that all of us are wholly interconnected. It’s both simplistic and dangerous to think that those who are “Other” don’t matter or can be ignored. In fact, how we interact with “Other” ripples to everyone. Once we’re past this crisis, perhaps understanding our interconnectedness will become a polestar for real change. I sure hope so!
I care about all of you; that’s an honest, real sentiment. Please, work to be fearless! We will get through this and be stronger for it!
A hateful message directed to a Muslim man running for Congress in Virginia had an unexpected consequence: a friendship.
Qasim Rashid, who’s running in Virginia’s Congressional District 1, recently received a message, “We do not need you(r) ilk in our nation. Let alone in any seat of office above street sweeper.”
Ordinarily, most people—particularly a political candidate—would ignore such words. However, Qasim, who was born in Pakistan, educated at the University of Illinois (Chicago), and is the author of
The Wrong Kind of Muslim
, isn’t just any political candidate. Instead, he’s curious about humans and he operates with a compassionate heart.
Thus, when Qasim checked out the Facebook page of Oz Dillon, who wrote the intolerant words, Qasim found other hateful comments. However, there was something else on the FB page: Oz’s wife was battling various health issues and had racked up more than $20K in medical debt. Oz had set up a GoFundMe page for help in paying off that debt.
That’s when Qasim’s compassion and willingness to cross the great divide kicked in. In a message to his 400,000 followers, Qasim wrote, “My faith teaches me to serve all humanity. So I’ve donated $55 to his GoFundMe. Please donate if you can.”
Qasim’s appeal worked—his followers gave more than $20,000, so much that Oz shut down the GoFundMe page earlier this week. He wrote on the page, “You all have humbled me beyond belief. We are shutting this fund campaign down, because we are now in a better position to gain control of our lives back. Bliss & blessings to all.”
But the story doesn’t stop there. Rather, Qasim and Oz had a meeting after Oz asked for forgiveness for his hateful message. Qasim’s response: “Absolutely, there’s nothing to forgive. You’re my brother in humanity.”
Qasim and Oz have since met several times. And oh yeah, there’s now a darn big sign for Qasim’s election in Oz’s front yard! Click
for the story!
Friends: we can do this, we too can bridge the great divide. It takes breaking the tit for tat Othering we’ve become accustomed to and replacing that with compassion and kindness. It’s that simple!
Cops as Humans: Two Stories
Here are two more stories about humans acting differently than social media tells us to expect.
First, Goldsboro, NC police officer Michael Rivers recently encountered a homeless woman named Michelle wearing a shirt that read, “Homeless. The fastest way of becoming a nobody.”
After exchanging a smile with Michelle, Michael decided that he’d do something other than simply continue his patrol: he went back and asked Michelle if she had eaten that day. When Michelle said, “No,” Michael bought a couple pizzas and sodas and returned to the intersection where Michelle had been asking for handouts. Above is a picture (taken by a passerby who posted on Facebook) of Michael and Michelle sitting on the grass having lunch and a conversation.
For 45 minutes, the two shared their stories. Michael learned that Michelle and her husband were homeless; together, they have a twelve-year-old daughter who is battling liver disease while living in foster care. Later, Michael would report that he came to understand how he and Michelle had something in common: both are “Other” in society.
As Michael reported
, society shuns homeless people as having brought their situation upon themselves. Police officers, too, are shunned as “bad apples.” That’s of course not the case. As Michael said, “I come to work and my method is, ‘Who can I bless today. Who can I Make smile?’ I’m not the one that wants to take somebody’s father or mother away and put them in jail.”
: Two Gwinnett County, Georgia officers, Nick Boney and Jimmy Wilson, encountered a woman waiting on a sidewalk with a bouquet of balloons. The officers offered the woman a ride home; en route, the officers learned that the woman (who is unnamed in the story) had a daughter whose first birthday was that day. Nick then turned to Jimmy and gave him his credit card. “Go get a cake with a big number ‘One’ on it,” he said.
Body camera footage shows the officers accompanying the woman into her house where the one-year-old girl runs up and hugs one of the officers by the legs. Later, the footage shows the girl blowing out a candle on her cake. It’s just a lovely scene of humans being kind to each other!
There are two things I love about these stories: first, both came to light accidentally—no one staged something to later share on social media. Secondly, skin color obviously didn’t matter to anyone involved in either story.
May I remind you that acts of compassion and kindness between humans occur hundreds of millions of times a day, day in and day out? It’s just that we don’t hear of them.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Reaching Out in this Difficult Time
Given the current status of the world, I’ve done another
about reaching out to others. Click here for that. This month’s Inclusivity Tip is also about looking out for each other and here are six ideas on what you can do—while also staying safe yourself:
1. If you are outside the virus risk demographics, consider offering to shop/run errands for those in your network who are at risk. You can drop groceries or items at a front door or at a garage.
2. Put pen to paper or notecard and write a letter to someone who’s struggling with fear; let them know that you are there for them. In the same correspondence, share a memory of them/how they have impacted your life.
3. Learn technology that will allow you and someone who is isolating to communicate via screens. Here’s a
on what’s available/the pros and cons. I’m not at all technically adroit and I’ve been able to figure out Skype and Zoom. You can too!
4. Understand that some groups—particularly those who identify as Asian—are being subjected to “Othering” in public in the form of looks, comments or body language by strangers. Be aware of this and speak up as an ally to protect someone. And please, don’t put up with anyone calling it the “Chinese virus.”
5. If you need to venture out—god forbid, but it will be necessary for some—make sure to thank those staffing the stores or pharmacies or banks. Those folks are literally risking their lives for us!
6. Finally, as much as possible, instill in younger people the need to have a plan. We don’t know how long things will be difficult before they get easier; many younger folks don’t have the perspective of understanding how life can change on a dime. Talk about planning not for just next week, but also for next month and the month after.
for the duration of the virus crisis, I'm happy to share about community-oriented resources or initiatives (e.g. how to give to an organization helping the ill or those newly unemployed) in this newsletter. If you have something along these lines, I'll include them in the April
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hang in there. We will get through this virus crap!
Odds & Ends
This month we start out with soothing, orchestral music. Much needed if you ask me!
Here’s a 2012
flash mob video
of a symphony playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in a public square in Sabadell, Spain. I felt an immediate sense of nostalgia in seeing the crowd of people just enjoying music. Well worth five minutes of your time!
Second Darn Wonderful:
With the virus fully upon us, here’s a
of a man of Asian descent on a street in Italy with a sign, “I’m Not a Virus.” What do you think happened? Watch.
One More Wonderful:
what occurred when researchers put a fake spy monkey into a spy monkey colony. Empathy isn’t just a human quality…
I Can Train/Speak/Consult Via Zoom, Skype or Other Platforms:
In the past, I’ve done virtual training (for example, for hundreds of US Bancorp team members) and it works exceedingly well. I know that folks are scrambling right now, but at some point, the new normal will set in and training will resume. Also, remember, my work provides audience members with
Beloved School Custodian is Given a Car:
Germantown, TN elementary school custodian Robert Reed needed three bus rides and a two mile walk to commute to work. That was until teachers and parents launched a GoFundMe campaign that raised $9585 in less than 24 hours to help Robert buy a truck. Click
for the touching story.
And in Williston, VT the Community Rewards Custodians after a Virus-related Deep Clean:
To thank the custodians who went the extra distance to clean two schools over a long weekend, nearly 250 people raised over $7K in just four days. See
A Columbus OH Bar Patron Leaves a $2500 Tip on a $30 Bill:
Knowing the bar would shudder because of the virus, the patron asked that the server split the tip with other team members. Yep. Compassion. Click
An Eight-year-old Who Spent Half His Life in Foster Care Gets Adopted:
Only, as this
relates, the adoption didn’t just happen—300 people packed the courtroom where the ceremony occurred. That was followed by a high school drill team and even Batman. Wonderful!
as they continue to hold hands minutes after birth.
Father and Son Cooking Duo:
This is lovely
; make sure you turn on the sound!
Young Men Helping a Woman Pay for Gas:
is from 2018, but I’m only seeing it now. Listen how one of the young men says, "It's only right. We have to stick together." Please, stop grouping and labeling humans—the video breaks all stereotypes.
More Virus-related but I Need to Include:
By now, half of America has seen
of a young woman helping out two seniors afraid to enter a supermarket. She paid attention and acted with compassion.
An Important Story About Disparities for Kids of Color (other than the white color):
Here’s a December 18, 2019
about how in nearly every U.S. metro area, children of color lag in opportunities/successes. The piece chronicles two neighborhoods in Albany NY that are mere miles apart. How in the world did we let this happen? I suspect the virus many fundamentally change the inequity landscape.
Along Those Same Lines, A Piece About How it’s Wrong for People Working Fulltime to Live in Poverty:
Have You Heard of Stephen Hart’s YouTube Channel, “Hart Talks”?
Stephen, in London, has a wonderful channel where he speaks of surviving the Human Condition and interviews a myriad of humans doing the same thing. Click
to learn more about this delightful person.
The Price of Discrimination—Round 2:
Last month I wrote about a gay cop getting $10 million; this month it’s a Texas elementary teacher who was terminated for sharing about her fiancé—another woman. The
school will pay her $100K
plus institute LGBTQ training for school team members.
Not Good for Young LGBTQ Iowans:
reader James Mitchell sent along
of Iowa State Troopers forcing younger LGBTQ humans to leave the state capital in Des Moines because they had the audacity to use bathrooms that corresponded with their gender identity. Watch the embedded video.
A Minnesota Legislator with Way Too Much Time on His Hands:
calling for the withholding of state funding for any public library that allows Drag Queen story time. Really? Thanks Renee Grassi for this tip!
My 29-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. Check out her website,
It’s All Booked
he regularly reviews books on her blog. Kate is still on hiatus, so I don’t have a new book recommendation here; hopefully, we’ll have one next month!
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Podcasts/Shows:
My podcast/show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 every Monday from 7 to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by clicking
. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various historical and contemporary idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. You might want to check out my March 2
show where I interview Caitlin Rogers of Next Day Animations—what a young idealist! Click
for the show’s list of podcasts.
Writings by Me:
recently published my article, “Jumping the
Gender Fence: Lessons Learned by a Newly Minted Woman,” about how the world is so very different for me as a female compared to 52 years of presenting as male. Click
to read the piece.
Stuff that I’m Reading:
, “The Cruel Story Behind the ‘Reverse Freedom Riders’”, which covers how white supremacists financed African Americans relocating to the Northeast as a way of showing that racism existed all over the country (and thus, justifying Jim Crow). I had no idea about this, and yes, it was very cruel.
Remember: My Book is Available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook and Apple iBooks:
Suddenly, you have the time…click
for a descripion of
Getting to Ellen.
Recent Media Interviews:
As part of my South Dakota outreach, I did both a
and a television appearance (“South Dakota Focus,”
) on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. I was also interviewed by
in Sioux Falls. In each of these media pieces, I talk about the need to have compassion for all humans.
Please Follow Me on Twitter—The Goal is 1300 Followers:
I’m shooting for 1300 Twitter followers; currently, the number stands at 949. Will you please follow me? The larger my footprint, the better I can get out a message about compassion for others and for one’s self. The Twitter handle is @elliekrug. Thanks!
Please Follow me On Instagram:
Would you please follow me on that as well? (I know, I sure ask a lot from you…) The Instagram handle is @elliejkrug. Make sure to include the “j”; otherwise you’ll start to follow a 23-year-old blonde Victoria Secret model—sadly, that would not be me!
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
Usually, this is where I share about talks or trainings in the next month; unfortunately, COVID-19 has caused the wholesale cancellation of many talks or trainings. At things presently stand, I’m on an unwanted vacation until May 6
when I’ll be training team members at Centennial Lakes Surgery Center in Edina. The next day, I’ll train on workplace allyship at the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office. Or so I think…The good news: I will use the time off to work on my second book,
. Lemonade. See my Upcoming Engagements
Want to Support My Work toward Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
My goal is to do more work in greater MN and other parts of the country where access to compassion/human inclusivity training is limited or nonexistent; for this work, others and I have set up a nonprofit, Human Ripple Works, Inc. Some of you have been sending in checks or making online donations to help with this; THANK YOU! If you’d like to support this work,
please click here
on the HRW website. (As you’ll see, for this work I reach out to nonprofits or under-funded agencies to do a free or a greatly-reduced- fee training in these locales.) Thanks for considering this!
is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!
Thank you for helping to make the world a better place! I'm at your side, cheering you on, I promise! Please have compassion for yourself and for others.
Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word