Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fighting Dragons

This is a very well-known sculpture in the world of Anthroposophy, by Rudolf Steiner.
 It is the Christ gesture of man, where his left arm holds the forces that represent Lucifer at bay, and where his right arm holds the forces that represent Ahriman at bay. Briefly, luciferic forces are overly chaotic, overly idealistic, and selfishly disregarding others. Ahriman has a darker, more evil overtone; being overly controlled, overly sparse, letter-of-the-law, and void of empathy or emotion.  These are the extremes: hot/cold, male/female, love/hate, etc. This duality of our nature is recognized plenty among different religions and in culture.
In the middle of the sculpture though, Steiner depicts the Christ gesture of embodying balancing these two forces. We need a little warmth of chaos, and we need a little order and lawfulness...just not too much. Even the Buddha spoke to his followers in a sermon of Buddhism's middle way: "Monks, these two extremes should not be followed   by   one   who   has   gone   forth as a   wanderer.  What   two?   Devotion   to the  pleasures  of  sense . . .  [and]  devotion  of self-mortification,  which  is  painful, unworthy and unprofitable . . . . By avoiding these two extremes the [Buddha] has gained knowledge of the middle path which giveth vision, which giveth knowledge, enlightenment [nirvana]. "
Fall 2013 Copyright © The Esoteric Quarterly  39
In the context of today, though, in the light of what is happening in the world, I believe these dualities in every way represent our innate fight or flight response to trauma.
One phrase I frequently quote on this blog is from Bessel VanDer Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score.  He points out that trauma "inevitably involves not being seen, not being heard, and not being taken into account." When one considers all the marginalized groups, and the scapegoating either through blatant sexism and racism, or exploitation, it makes sense that we have a culture of traumatized people. And some argue that neoliberalism in culture is traumatizing.
Tomorrow is Michaelmas...the festival of finding our inner light. For me, it is about finding the middle way. It is about acknowledging my own inner dragons attached to fight or flight behaviors, and the outer dragons I am forced to fight.
My dragons of flight involve giving up, avoiding, putting my head in the sand, not wanting to see, molding silence, cultivating apathy, taking on a stance of "let's all be happy", hiding behind all sorts of distractions, betraying myself to the core, complete submission, martyrdom. Dragons of fight include hot anger, retaliation, denial, self-justification, contempt, judgement, intention to harm, pleasure in bringing about the suffering of another human being, cold indifference, and enacting revenge.
Trauma, fight or flight, not being seen or heard- inevitably involves an oppressor/oppressed situation. That's what neoliberalism creates and tucks them into so many pockets of our country's Big Daddy overcoat. But before even tackling the situation of being oppressed, and hopefully an oppressor or two would give up their cushy position to join the ranks of the less entitled, before that is even though about, one must find deep courage. In order to do that, one must go through the forces of fight and fight, to acknowledge the value of one's own humanity.
There is a middle way, beyond dragons of sloth and chaos, there is a balance to be held within in order to deal with the larger dragons of the world in which we live. In bringing into balance our own dragons, we gain the courage and strength to bring to the world at large and really tackle larger issues.
Walter Wink, in Engaging the Powers, writes about  "Jesus's Third Way":
Jesus's Third Way
-seize the moral initiative
-find a creative alternative to violence
-assert your own humanity and dignity as a person
-meet force with ridicule or humor
-break the cycle of humiliation
-refuse to submit or accept the inferior position
-expose the injustice of the system
-take control of the power dynamic
-shame the oppressor into repentance
-stand your ground
-make the Powers make decisions for which they are not prepared
-recognize your own power
-be willing to suffer rather than retaliate
-force the oppressor to see you in a new light
-deprive the oppressor of a situation where a show of force is effective
-be willing to undergo the penalty of breaking unjust laws
-die to fear of the old order and its rules
-seek the oppressor's transformation
Flight: submission, passivity, withdrawal, surrender
Fight: armed revolt, violent rebellion, direct retaliation, revenge

Gandhi insisted that no one join him who was not willing to take up arms and fight for independence. They could not freely renounce what they had not entertained. One cannot pass directly from "flight" to "Jesus's Third Way". One needs to pass through the "fight" stage, if only to discover one's own inner strength and capacity for violence. One need not actually become violent, but one does need to own one's fury at injustice and care enough to be willing to fight, and if necessary, die for its eradication. Only then can a person freely renounce violence and embrace active nonviolence."

Martin Luther King said there can be no justice without equality. There can be no justice where there is a bully. There can be no justice when there is an oppressor. Justice comes when people join as equals. And justice comes when one finds the heat of courage, the flaming truth, the heart arching forward towards inner freedom.
It then becomes about more than inner freedom. It becomes focused on your power to enact the freedom of another. It becomes courage in do the right thing even when it seems impossible. To really look at one's own dark step say what needs to be dragon was ever conquered without having courageous souls muster up their duty to protect and stop stop oppression of any kind.
"Seek the oppressor's transformation." Oh, I do, I prayerfully do.
Here's to a courageous Michaelmas. The divine is found when we clearly live without oppressing, and where we speak up against oppression, even our own.  May we all find our middle way.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Savvy Dating

So, online dating. I love to bitch about online dating. I love to write funny, irreverent, and sometimes very strange profiles just to see how people react and what kind of person is out there. I don't know why it strikes me as funny, and maybe it just indicates my own fears and quirks. But I think it's funny and that's that.
No one reads your profile anyway. How do I know? Because when I created a fake profile with a picture of my hamster looking for a woman, at least until it violated the dating site's rules and they removed my cute picture, I received a few messages like these:

"Wow! You spark up my entire thinking faculty. I am ready to stop searching, and who knows, the rose in my heart could be yours (lol). I'm J, I'm new on here, write a note and I'll reply back instantly.Just you may wish to email on my mind."

"I was searching through and i saw your profile ,and  am quite fascinated by your picture, smile and happy face..i will sure love to meet a cute woman like you, i'm a man with joyful character, optimistic, respectful, sensual.i will like to chat if you don't mind... "

"Good day Dear, Am sorry for interrupting your evening with my message. How is work with you this week and I hope you had a stress free time at work and your family is doing good? Am d. I am new here and am so glad to have come across your profile. I didnt just click on you by coincidence, I believe everybody has that place in their heart that requires that special warmth feeling and nursing. Its my pleasure to appreciate your beauty and personality cause I know its something you hear everyday but I have got to say it again and I hope it gets to your heart. I think the personality and the soul is what makes a person beautiful, not only physical appearance. I am interested in you and would like to know more about you, pls feel free to ask questions and you can text me (---)as I will like to be your friend. You have an awesome smile and I love your hair, pls feel free to ask questions. I really want to know you more"

"Hello gorgeous lady, I'm so sorry for infringe into your privacy but a word say that a picture is worth of a thousands words you're stunning and charming lady, I will like to know you better if you don't?.."​

So naturally, I am amused. I am amused and also hopeful when I hear of people actually having good luck on those sites.
When I've had my real picture up, in more playful moods, I lied about my age and made myself 41. That was fun because then I suddenly had the 25-year-old-set-seeking-novel-older-woman-experiences. Those conversations went like this:
him: Do you mind dating younger?
me: Dude, you're my daughter's age
him: we can make her jealous
me. ummmmm
him: I'm a nudist
me: silence

And my favorite one: "Wow, there's no way you're 41" -pause to say I almost fell off my chair laughing...that's right, I passed 41 7 years ago.- "you look way younger" Ha.

So there's the fun part of that. It really is funny and a poll of girlfriends on dating sites reveals many more funny stories.
But now I'm going to switch to the "savvy" part, because, honestly, I've primarily met some really kind, genuine, beautiful men online. So I'm not really saying it's all bad. As one person told me, it's all what you make of it.
And what I've made of it is a learning, healing, and growing experience.
The biggest learning has been about attachment styles. It's important to know because divorce can be traumatizing, childhood can be traumatizing and help you bring patterns into the present that sabotage your relationships. It's just smart so you can pinpoint your own patterns, and know if you are going to be with someone with similar emotional compatibility. It's good to have a language to use around it, and in deepening your learning, you develop compassion. Everyone's trying to muck their way through fear and longing and the past at the same time.
The three styles are anxious/ambivalent, avoidant, and secure. Secure people are those who have a high comfort level with feelings and intimacy, and they are pretty scarce in online dating, due to the fact that they are likely to end up partnered, most likely with another secure. Anxious/ambivalent styles are more frequent in occurrence and are most often women. This style manifests in clinging, pursuing behavior when intimacy wounds are triggered. Avoidants populate the online dating pool in greater numbers and tend to be men. Avoidants shut down emotionally and run when intimacy wounds are triggered. Often these styles find each other and start the great pursuer-distance dance.
Underlying both of these styles is a deep-seated fear of abandonment, or, perhaps, as Terry Real says that for men, it's fear of subjugation.
It's all trauma, and the strange thing, your attachment style is activated as a fight or flight response to intimacy, because closeness is unconsciously perceived as a threat. It's a fearful way of being, and so hard to figure out how to find your way to love once faced with your past wounds.
Avoidants will say things like, "my ex always had to be in a relationship" or that women of their past were overly emotional or clingy. To be fair, sometimes that is true. Still, avoidance in men is an extreme that many women have experienced and there is even this cultural expectation that women are not supposed to need a man, that that somehow makes you weak or dependent or needy. But we are ALL hard-wired to be relational beings. It's how the human race has survived. One of my friends was saying how she felt it was not ok to need a man. I reassured her that yes, it is ok and GOOD to need a man. Why beat up on yourself for your very valid needs and desires? I need a man. Being lonely is no fun. Sometimes you just want someone else to kill the bug in the bathroom, to call the plumber, to tell your news to, to give a hug to. What's wrong with that?
That's where therapy helps me keep my head on straight: that I want someone who is ultimately supportive, present, and a partner in every way. And, that I want to continue taking charge of my own healing so I have resources to bring to the table. Lots of it is needs management, and that just requires trust, openness, a willingness to be transparent and vulnerable, and total compassionate acceptance of yourself and your beloved. And the ability to be freely yourself while allowing someone else that luxury too. By now, I've learned how to walk past abuse or extreme unavailability and can open my heart to learning to enjoy the good stuff. Like the basics: respect, encouragement, friendship, sexiness, trust.
I'm not online right now on any sites, as I explore other options and continue my inner work. But if I ever need to practice my avoidant-detecting skills, have a laugh, or just remind myself that kind men do still exist, it's always there.
It's all good.

Raising a Narcissist Part 2

Last year, I wrote a post in response to a rash of articles online about raising a narcissist, or I should say, how NOT to raise a narcissist. My beef with some of these articles is that they were shallow fluff, and didn't really understand what narcissism as a personality disorder is, or how abusive narcissists really are. I was thinking about how many articles with lists there are on the internet, and how they direct you to do change look at something more closely. This is not going to be another list. DOING something is good. But I want to look deeper, into how we are BEING with each other.
Narcissism is operating from the one-up position of grandiosity with a heaping dose of exploitation. It is possessing a sixth sense that allows all forms of manipulation and emotional blackmail to flourish. Underlying these, the bedrock of narcissism, is entitlement. It is a fierce conviction that one is entitled not just to use others to gain advantage, but to never have to account for how that affects those who are used. It's a deliberate blindness, a moral emptiness. For morality, happiness, and integrity all rest on an ability to consider others. Altruism is the way to happiness. A rightful morality would never allow you to feel guiltless for causing suffering. And basing your integrity on using others is crushing your ever having integrity.
Karen Horney describes narcissists as "moving against others”, “being unpleasant to others in pursuit of one’s own goals” and  having a “tendency to pursue their own goals regardless of others’ needs.” This is inclusive of all a narcissist's trademarks: contempt, judgment, projection, blame, and an unyielding inability to apologize or be responsible for their own behavior.

I believe interpersonal narcissism thrives in a culture where the larger power, the System, Neoliberalism, has informed how we relate to each other. Rarely do we stop to consider that there are other possibilities than the pursuit of material goods, made possible by companies we are dependent on for paychecks and products. In “The Dream of God”, Borg describes this as “systemic evil. He says, “Systemic evil is an important notion; it refers to the injustice built into the structures of the system itself. Embedded in oppressive and exploitative social structures, systemic evil is a major source...of human suffering.” And systemic evil is basically any structure that allows one or more people to be exploited for another's gain. It's interpersonal abuse, and does not just involve physical abuse. We have to broaden our notions of what abuse is. We, as a culture, tend to only give credence to certain well-worn narratives of abuse, and do not look at how financial, emotional, and mental abuse creates persistent, low-level suffering. In other words, narcissists create trauma victims. Narcissistic abuse can even cause PTSD because of the gaslighting, lies, constant drip-drips of crazymaking, and verbal attacks.
Narcissism is, therefore, in my opinion, a social justice issue. Social justice is about unfair distribution of advantages, and narcissism is all about unfairly securing the upper hand with regard to advantages, personally and professionally. Not only are therapists, workplaces, and courtrooms ill equipped and under educated about this disordered way of being, but our whole culture is sadly mistaken about narcissism. Sure, everyone knows a narcissist at work, or in their family. But no one REALLY cares how this affects  anyone. And no one really knows what to look for.
I know a man who was so abusive, his wife was given a gun permit and told by a judge to move far, far away. She moved, but I could not help but thinking how fucked up that was. Had there been social consequences in place, that man may not have gotten off scot free while his wife had to completely move house out of fear for her life. Legally.
This kind of allowing creates huge cracks for people to fall into. It's legal to be an asshole, or an abuser. Abusers have rights to their children, rights to harass, rights to abuse. They often gain the right to shut you up if you tell the truth about them. They reserve the right to hurt you, take from you, lie about you, and look like a saint while doing it. Your rights to being, to being a human, are summarily dismissed.
Altruism is more possible in a culture that embraces nonviolence as a way to address its problems. Nonviolence naturally calls for having empathy and thinking about the good of the group, and then acting on their behalf. Altruism, expressed as nonviolence, is anti-narcissism. It does not create scapegoats, it is not afraid of using conflict for social renewal, and it is not afraid to deal with the truth. In fact, it does not tolerate lies. 
 There is much to be said about how our culture structurally supports narcissism, but I think the crux of my message today is simply to think for yourself. Narcissists don't think FOR themselves, they think ABOUT themselves. They unquestioningly hold to their entitlement track, their judgments impaired by a compulsion to control rather than to truly think, and in this culture, they get plenty of reinforcement for their incongruent, inconsistent, and dishonest behavior. If you are moving against others, you are moving against yourself, for our social life is paramount to our happiness and good feelings about ourselves. Treating our fellow man with compassion, altruism as a way of life, and questioning structures in order to become more community minded and relationally oriented are all anti-narcissism.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My life in pictures lately

Sometimes no words are needed. Them:
 to me:

Me on the inside:

Me on the outside:

And reading Martin Luther King, Gandhi, others; and learning all about nonviolent protest. Who knew I've actually already been practicing this. 
"Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is the cooperation with good" -Martin Luther King

"Law never made men a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice." -Henry David Thoreau

"No sane person seeks a world divided between billions of people living in absolute deprivation and a tiny elite guarding their wealth and luxury behind fortress walls. No one rejoices at the prospect of life in a world of collapsing social and ecological systems. Yet we continue to place human civilization and even our species’ survival at risk mainly to allow a few million people to accumulate money beyond any conceivable need. We continue to go boldly where no one wants to go." David Korten, "When Corporations Rule the World"

Friday, August 26, 2016

Neoliberalism in Divorce

As I began my studies of corporate libertarianism and neoliberalism, I was inwardly comparing these concepts to narcissistic divorce. You could call the guiding ideologies by many names: colonialism, capitalism, narcissism. I have always believed that the prevailing ideologies of the cultural institutions we are born into, such as corporate libertarianism, informs and is reflected in weak personal relationships. For instance, families which have not strengthened their morality, values, and humanism are susceptible to simply replaying corporate scenarios in their personal relationships, and setting up corporate-like structures in their families.
I speak from the perspective of a woman. I'm not interested in debating the advantaged position of the white  male today. That is well established and anyone who argues against it is arguing for White Male Fragility. Research clearly shows that men fare much better financially than women post-divorce. I am interested in exploring the similarities between the prevailing corporate paradigm and family structure, with a focus on the situation of a man with ample resources and ability to work who refuses to support his children while choosing to support the legal system instead.
This is just a cursory overview of concepts I've learned so far, with the intention of someday exploring and broadening these concepts through personal writing. First, I want to review characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder as listed by the DSM 5:

-Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
 -Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it 
-Exaggerating your achievements and talents
 -Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate 
-Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people 
-Requiring constant admiration 
-Having a sense of entitlement 
-Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations 
-Taking advantage of others to get what you want 
-Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others 
-Being envious of others and believing others envy you 
-Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Corporate libertarianism followed a long rise that ensured the recognition of corporations as "people" with rights. The enmeshment with government was inevitable. It used to be that corporations had to be approved of through a lengthy charter process to ensure they didn't get too big. Through a fascinating history, they did get too big, and globalization and concentration of resources among a few by exploiting the many happened, and is still happening today. This is not new news, but I had never delved deeper into the causes of this structure, nor had I thought about it with a critical mind until education became such a big part of my life . Several things are key to linking this ideology to high-conflict divorce.
First of all, corporate libertarianism rested on a certain notion of property. The shift from communal property to individual ownership was key in setting up corporate libertarianism. Holding to a paradigm that declares "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" is worlds apart from "we share resources to take care of each other." It's democracy versus capitalism. Capitalism is about money and the acquisition of money. In my readings, I quote, "The drive to acquire is the highest expression of what it means to be human." This pretty much sums up the unquestioned belief system of capitalism. Not everyone agrees with that statement, and I have many high ideals regarding what it means to be human. None of them have to do with the drive to acquire. All too often in family court, notions of property involve children, and children are treated like property instead of human beings.
In a high conflict divorce, one party holds the capitalist paradigm, while the other party is more oriented towards democratic equality. The drive to acquire and hoard resources is a factor, for corporate libertarianism seeks to concentrate resources, benefits, and advantages with one small group to the disadvantage of the many. In high-conflict divorce, it is an individual seeking to take resources from another to destabilize the family and create a power imbalance so that individual can concentrate all the benefits, resources, and advantages in himself. Power, as I learned in class, has many definitions but one definition is that power is the ability to help or hurt. In high-conflict ongoing divorce, one party seeks to hurt the other.
Corporate libertarianism's guiding principle is: maximize profit while minimizing responsibility. It is not much different than individual narcissism. Corporations can raze the earth and pollute the water and just pay politicians so that they don't have to clean it up or worry about how it affects people's lives. It creates private profit, but the ramifications, or costs, are placed on society. Think about how ludicrous it is. The money corporations spend on lobbying and the legal system could be spent on cleaning up their environmental messes or building "clean" factories. Instead, they play a game, a mindless game that gives them the ability to make money without restrictions. It is the same with high-conflict divorce. One party can completely raze another person and their own children and family financially, emotionally, and physically, but either blame the people they abuse, or take no responsibility for their actions. They are their own corporate microcosm, their own mini-dictators. Again, this is an imbalance that is blatantly exploitative in nature.
Corporations who want tax relief are basically asking for a reverse socialism. Capitalism is socialism for the rich. This is also called "corporate welfare". A man of means and ability to earn an ample living for himself and his children, in refusing to work to his potential, in using his resources to bully his co-parent in court, and in asking the court to relieve him of his legal child support obligations is asking the court to put him on welfare. He is also asking his ex-wife and children to relieve him of his family obligations so he does not have to make any sacrifices to support his family, and they have to make sacrifices for HIM. This allows him to improve his home, take multiple vacations, take no measures to promote himself and his work in the world, and basically play a lot, and who cares how this affects his children?
Corporations do a sales job by constantly convincing us that their interests are our interests. Narcissists do this too, through gaslighting. They present a facade and are fake in their morals and standards. People fall for their facade. I know I have fallen for these seemingly perfect scenarios. Corporations, too, have no morals. They really don't care about the people they exploit, they just have business to do. High-conflict blamers, during and after a divorce, will also launch "smear campaigns" to justify their heinous exploits and judgmental, punitive behavior. This lack of humanity characterizes high-conflict divorce. The narcissist and his group lack empathy and truly do not care who they hurt or how. The high-conflict, narcissistic group who scapegoats is not very different in ideology from corporate America.
I also want to say how very odd and infuriating it is that a man can spend more on the legal system in trying to get out of paying child support than he does on his children. This is a simple matter of looking at the numbers. If a man adds it up, it goes like this: "50K to my attorney and court. My own children: meh, whatever I can "afford", which is probably closer to 5K, Investments I've made personally and financially to benefit my relationship with my ex-wife and children and to foster cooperative co-parenting: -40K. That's right, negative. Damages have been done, on purpose. I've deliberately burned my bridges with her in pursuit of my personal power and control."
It is common sense that a man who is financially able to litigate with intent to financially cripple his co-parent is financially able to support his children. These men consistently prove their ability to support the legal system and create a diversion in personal relationships by playing on people's sympathies. In the meantime, the money flowing towards the court is effectively diverted away from his children, who could be enjoying a higher quality of life were their father not wasting time and money on a retaliatory, capitalist mission.This is one aspect of family court that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and in the family court's allowing an imbalance of advantages and disadvantages, they hold to the ideology of corporate libertarianism.
Not one state adequately addresses the problem of a person spending more of their money on family court than on their children. Years of child support can be squandered and funneled away from children into family court in the service of letting a high-income, highly funded person get out of supporting their children. If a person can find the money to continually litigate, a person can find the money to pay for things for their children and not harm their co-parent. It is worse than unfair to exploitatively financially burden a co-parent; it is abusive.
Corporations may legally be "people" now, but people are not "corporations" in family court. There needs to be a paradigm shift, one where families are not tainted by the narcissism of corporate libertarianism's ideology, but have developed a true democracy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On Being an Enemy

I was not born to be an enemy, nor am I "wired" to be an enemy. I have lived enough trauma in my life to give me my guarded places, my triggers,my vulnerabilities, and my often stultifying insecurity.
But an enemy? I've lived my life trying to please people. I've wanted to fit in. I've hated feeling so weird, different, and isolated and have gone to opposite extremes to be non-threatening and compliant.
It isn't like I don't make relational mistakes. Some weeks feel like one long attunement desert, and I have to go about figuring out how to reconnect.
But the bottom line is, I care about my relationships. Issues and all, I care deeply for the people I love.
No matter what mistakes I've made, I did not sign up for being an enemy.

It has been one long journey into the heart of grief, and indeed, being faced with that most basic human task: to make meaning of  suffering. In my case, it is a manifestation of monumental projection of a group of people that drives me to seek meaning.

In 1991, when my first baby was a mere 3 months old, I mustered up all the parenting excitement of my 23-year-old self and took her to see Beauty and the Beast. It was a silly thing to take a baby to a movie, but I was new at parenting and it was what I did. In the movie, a group of townspeople, led by a witless brute, sought to prove their capabilities and strength against the Beast. Now, the beast had done nothing to them but symbolize the reflection of their own beastly natures. They were scared of themselves, in essence. They made an enemy out of the beast that did not seek to harm them and had lived in isolation. The townspeople lied about the Beast's true nature and put scary qualities on him. The Beast was human all along, and just needed someone to recognize his humanity and have compassion for that; someone who saw the truth all along and did not imagine some Beast. In fact, he was more "human" than the townspeople who scapegoated him. They made an enemy of him and forced him to fight them out of their fear and hatred. They operated out of their illusions. I understand this dynamic all too well.

Of course, we never saw in the story how the Beast grappled with the fact that he was being made an unwilling enemy, that there were people who wanted him to suffer and enjoyed his suffering, and how his struggle to make meaning with this cruel situation contributed to his transformation. I would point out that his anger created his transformation as well. Without his anger, he would not have achieved the courage and clarity of spirit to touch his humanity.
The enemy-makers in my case are in healing professions. My prayer for them is that someday, someday, they will run into a woman like me, one who has been betrayed and made into an enemy. I hope she asks the same questions of them: why has God forsaken me? why are there people who gloat and revel in the suffering of a human being they once professed to love? why do humans put on the mask of love but carry hatred in their hearts and deeds? why don't they stop this suffering?

They will have to face helping her sort out a situation that makes no sense on a moral, ethical, or spiritual level.  They will have to guide her towards making making meaning of this particular type of suffering, one that is so blatantly senseless and preventable.
They will have to then think of me differently, not as an enemy, but as a human being.
Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk says in his vital, wonderful book, “The Body Keeps The Score”:
“Trauma almost invariably involves not being seen, not being mirrored, and not being taken into account. " Enemy-makers will have to do what they did not do in my case: come to terms with their own illusions of beasts, and how that imagined beast is actually a reflection of their own unresolved darkness. They will have to gather in the fact that they caused trauma in another human being, that they initially drove another person from God while professing their ministries. They will have to muster up the compassion, empathy, and self-awareness they could not find before. They will ultimately have to face themselves, or they could continue to choose not to. 
I find my way to God despite their actions. And I hope they, too, find their way to God. For I am often selfish, and do not consider that when one conjures up and enemy to start a war, there are losses on their side, too. For instance, friends..childhood friends...have been cast aside in favor of carrying the torches of accusation. Relationship with me, peace, stability for the broken family...these have been sacrificed in favor of the spoils of war: moments to gloat, moments of victorious demeaning, all the room in the world to harshly judge and blame without measure, creating destruction without actually having to take responsibility. No one can knowingly cause suffering in another without damaging their own integrity. 
A friend of mine said to me, "Do not pray for what is fair. Pray for what is merciful." I am not a beast, or an enemy. I am a human being, striving and reaching, made clear and courageous through anger, and seeking to make meaning of being portrayed as a "beast" and being made into an unwilling enemy. 

I draw upon the wisdom of William Shakespeare.  From Portia in "Merchant of Venice":

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there."

Friday, August 5, 2016


I want to join revolutions
I want to create revolutions and take all this courage and desire and put it somewhere worthy
Love is not the revolution we need
Love is something people hide behind
No, do not speak to me any more of your "love" because you don't care how it is done
I cannot trust it
Love is not the word
Love is the movement
The revolutions I would join are the revolutions of grace
How about a revolution of healing? Of compassion?
Sign me up for these, show me how to serve
But forget about love, that fleeting affection, that affliction of sentiment
no, the revolution is listening
the movement is to have care
How about revolutions of silliness, of glee?
How about a revolution of cleaning up messes, of making messes?
It is revolutionary to be kind, and genuine.
I want a revolution of dark underbellies...of showing each other what we've murdered in this world, what toes we've stepped on, what hearts we've caused to bleed, what wounds we've slashed through ourselves, through others
It needs to be different
This is not about the world, the world where black people get killed for being black
where children get ripped from mothers who cried out the truth
where hatred finds a gun and uses it
where monsters and politicians are one and the same
But in this world between us, your guns are your words, your misdeeds rooted in standing idly by, of casual indifference to the suffering you cause
You are making people choke on their anger
You keep joining the naysayers, the assholes, the takers, the exploitative warmongers
Stop that and join me in these revolutions
If it happens in this world between us, it makes it easier for it to happen out there
This is the revolution that needs to happen, the revolution of feeling, novelties of passion, of hope for all of us
Of empathetic connection
revolutions of vulnerability, of soft hearts
The real revolution? The extraordinary one? It's the "I'm sorry I hurt you." revolution.
That, THAT will change our world
Let's show each other our wars, where we waged and fought them
Let's bring these wars out and have a revolution of weeping, of sadness, of great pain
I will paint you with the blood on your hands and reach into your darkness and pull out all of that awful blackness
I will show it to you and say yes, there it is, this is why you need revolutions
What is this revolution worth? A phone call? a letter? showing up?
What will it take for you to throw out this ugliness, this war?