As part of my morning meditation, I thank my ancestors by name for all they blessed me with. I visualize my mother and father, great grandmother (I only have a photo of my mother’s grandmother), grandparents and aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. It is all the love, kindness and wisdom they gave me that laid the foundation for me to become who I am. How I loved being with each of them. I fondly remember my Uncle Al, “The Dude,” my Aunt Zizi’s husband, who used to often take us to Yankee Games on Sunday afternoons (I wrote What Zizi Gave Honeyboy in honor of Zizi — William Morrow, 2002). This was in the Yankees’ golden years of Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Whitey Ford, Bill “Moose” Skowron, Elston Howard, Hank Bauer, “Bullet” Bob Turley and Don Larsen, to name just a few. After the game, Uncle Al would say to me: “Who’s your favorite Uncle.” I would look him square in the eye and say: “I don’t have a favorite Uncle. I love all my uncles.” And boy, did I. What a group of men, all cats with their own groove and style. I was the youngest of five until my mom had two “change-of-life” children, as they called them back then. So I spent a good deal of time with her alone while my older brothers and sisters were in school. In those days, as it has been since recorded history, it was common for mothers to stay at home and raise their children. I remember from a young age, for whatever reason, her looking at me and saying more than once, “I hate cowards.”finding the courage“Cowards!” As I see it, that’s what America and so many nations have become. Do you live in a nation of cowards? As I write elsewhere in this Trends Journal, before any plans can be developed to create a positive future, what is first required is for a critical mass to find the courage within themselves to stand up against corrupt political and financial forces. The masses must demand policies and practices that will bring societies to higher levels of being. But the view from my trends-eye, cat-bird seat is of a general public that has shown itself too timid to fight against the overt injustices that prevail. Are they cowards? Or do they cower in fear because they don’t know how to fight?Thanks to my upbringing, education and self motivation, I consider my life a success. But had it not been for one person outside my family influence, I could never be operating at the level I am now. While I was always a scrappy kid, Close Combat was the glue that brought it all together. I learned from John Perkins, one of America’s top martial arts masters (www.AttackProof.com). I eventually became a second-degree black belt and even ran my own Close Combat school.Perkins taught me how to fight in battle, fight for my life and not allow anyone to bully or silence me. He also taught me how to fight for my freedom of expression. He taught me how to back up my words with action when needed. He taught me how to speak my mind without fear. John Perkins taught me how to fight to defend my dignity and self respect. He gave me the courage never to be a coward.heroes come in many shapes and sizesWhile it worked for me, not everyone needs to learn Close Combat to be a fighter. As I see it, Edward Snowden, who risked his life to blow the whistle on government spying, is a true fighter. Bradley Manning, who exposed the wanton slaughter by American military madmen gleefully gunning down defenseless Iraqi citizens from their helicopter, is a true fighter. And Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who has exposed so much of the criminality of government abuses and lies is a true fighter.Hardly “macho” men. Indeed, Bradley Manning, now Chelsea, and the others have shown courage far beyond the common men and women of their countries, who either make excuses for the politicians they believe in or willfully succumb to the indignities imposed upon them by the psychopaths in charge. Sarah Harrison is the British journalist who accompanied Snowden to Russia and who also has gone into exile in Berlin. She wrote:“In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution — transparency. If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves.”Are you ready to grasp the truth? Can you find it? Do you have the courage to look for the truth even though you may not like the way it looks or sounds? One of the many lessons I learned from John Perkins was about the ego, which, if obsessed over, leads to self-absorption, a loss of touch with reality, and ultimately self-destruction. The only time we should recognize and utilize “ego,” said Perkins, is when someone threatens your life. That’s when ego counts.Your life, your health, your well being, your future and the future of your children are being threatened. What, if any action, will you take? The choice is yours.