Essay

If Ever There Was a Time…

…when violence might be justified, this time might just qualify.

Stark, real, heavy are those words, and to hear them oozing from me like puss from an infected wound is disgusting!  But honesty compels me to face them, acknowledge and respect them, for they have a place in my vocabulary, and today they seem fitting.  But let’s be clear here…

I do not endorse violence, ever, in any circumstance; I am merely addressing the shadow that rises within in response to such acts of violence in the world outside.  I cannot condone what has happened in Charlottesville and around the world; I cannot remain silent, when such silence equates with complicity.  But it physically hurts to say such words aloud – there may be times when violence is the only reasonable response to violence.

A friend reminded me of that today, asking me how I might “reasonably” react to violence directed my way.  What if someone broke into your room intent on harming you; would you defend yourself?  What if someone kidnapped your grandchild, intending to perpetrate some heinous crime; would violence then be appropriate?  What if people sought to terrorize others or destroy life in the name of money, power, religion, politics, or socio-pathological disturbance?  Would any of these acts warrant a violent response?

Yes, of course, but…

No.  No “buts.”  Own it, Lisa, for violence exists within you, as well as all those you wish to “stand against.”  Perhaps there are times when violence seems justified, and if there are, then now may be that time.  For though I do not currently face those personal attacks, the others are all too real.  Something must be done to stop such acts!  Something must be said to condemn such acts!  Something must… change!

And yet I resist…  Why?

Because the language we are using today, to make a point and take a stand, is as divisive as the rhetoric that spawns these acts of violence in the first place.  Because the words we are using do not heal, but only further and deepen the heartache that separates us.  Because love cannot win in an environment where the only response to hate is vitriol, violence, condemnation, segregation and rage…

We can no longer deny what is happening around us.  We can no longer depend upon privilege to protect us.  We must not rely upon silence to insulate us.  And yet, we should not add fuel to the fires that consume us…  Or should we?

I understand the impulse to violently recoil from any association with such vile examples of inhumanity as expressed by white nationalists, the KKK, the power brokers and politicians and preachers who have made hate and violence a viable path.  I grasp the need to express my natural antipathy towards such philosophies and acts.  But I find myself stepping back, hesitating, when those I wish to stand beside start speaking of “excising malignancies,” “denouncing,” “condemning,” “choosing sides,” etc, for these are not words of healing at all.

So, how do we condemn without judgment?  How do we stop these people without oppressing our “enemies”?  How do we respond definitively, purposefully, constructively, without imposing our will on others?  How do we “punish” these criminals without behaving criminally ourselves?!  Is it even possible?

History is written by the winners, they say, whomever they are.  But “winning” doesn’t make us “right”.  Or “good”.  It only makes us victorious.  And while we might claim the end justifies the means, I can’t find comfort in that, as such “holier than thou” rhetoric has always justified atrocities.  Someone always loses when lines are drawn, and crossed, and people are forced to “take sides.”

“They’re just words, Lisa, and now is no time for semantics!,” I hear myself say.  But I disagree, vehemently, with such a thought.  Because words have power when expressed; this I know, I believe!  Words guide and inform our reasoning, lead and justify our actions.  They empower our analogies which lead us to our conclusions.  They color our metaphors, which frame our realities, making our environments reflect back to us exactly what we expect to see.  So if I speak of “taking a stand against” something, I naturally divide the playing field.  If I think of “opposing” another, I naturally create an enemy.  And if I create an enemy, I justify the ensuing war.  Violence begets violence, ad infinitum…

I find myself contemplating the Yin/Yang symbol – a potent reminder that within the darkness, a seed of light may still exist, while within the light, darkness also thrives.  It leads me to consider that there may yet remain a spark of humanity within those who march and protest with violence; that our natural state, as humans, is not to hate, but to love.  Hate is learned behavior, as any young child can amply demonstrate.  If I focus on the darkness these haters express, rather than that potential glimmer of conscience that may yet remain, then I participate in fueling and reinforcing such hate.  I choose not to do that today, while simultaneously acknowledging that they are free to choose complete darkness, if that is the path that compels them…

But within the light, darkness also exists.  If I accept such words of violence from those I usually agree with, then I become complicit in feeding and fueling that darkness within them.  Continuing along such a path, in the name of “good intentions,” will not erase the damage done when such resistance becomes active violence.  And so the darkness overwhelms the light, as we become active mirrors of, and for, our “enemies”…  I choose not to do that today, while simultaneously accepting that all must act according to their own conscience…

So…  what do I choose to do today to face the rage, the violence, the hate?

First I accept and forgive myself for wanting to react.  I own that seed of darkness within me, and watch it carefully, so that it does not spread like cancer throughout my being…

Second, I reach out to those in need, without first asking (or attempting to divine) which side they represent.  I offer comfort, peace, acceptance, and the right to disagree.  I nurture their humanity…

Third, I embrace the innocent, the maligned, whichever side they’re on.  Only by truly embracing can I hope to minimize our divide…

Fourth, I stand my ground.  I do not stand with you or against you, but I stand fully in my truth.  If you wish to move me, you may try, but I know who and what I am about, and I will not be swayed by words of hate wherever they come from.  I do not wish to martyr myself, but I will not play this game of words and intents; words of battle are bathed in the blood of guilt and innocence, and so I shall not utter them, regardless of the consequence.

This is my response to this time of rampant violence…

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Poetry, Reflections

“Discombobulated…”

And confused…

Out of sync… or even time?

Some moments passing before I can grasp them,

while others simply refuse to move!

Spiritual whiplash… my body aches.

Caused by this stop and go act?

This heavy push forward, pulsing,

while something else holds me back?

I “fail” at everything normal I try,

but “feel” success haunting my steps.

I feel reluctance, resistance…

while the voices are all screaming, “YES!!”…

Frustration boils up, disturbing my peace,

while that deeply calm center still anchors me…

‘Tis no wonder I feel unbalanced these days…

uncertain, bemused and unsure.

Nothing makes sense in a world gone mad…

So I grasp for the truth in a Word:

“Dis-com-bob-u-lat-ed”…

Made up, created, to capture a moment,

comfort found in humor and sound…

 

 

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Reflections, Visions

Answering “the Call”…

BRRRRRIIINNNNNNGGG… BRRRRRIIINNNNNNGGG…

“Hello?”

Hello?!  Can you hear me?

“Yes, I can hear you.  Who is this?”

“Doesn’t matter right now.  Just listen…  Carefully…  To what I’m about to say.”

“Okay.”

“Tread cautiously today…  Watch your steps…  Place each one consciously, paying particular attention to what you are stepping on…”

“Good advice, I guess.  Always.  But is there something specific I should be focusing on?”

“Beware of open doors and planned deceptions; misperceptions are everywhere!”

“Ok, now you’re just starting to sound paranoid…”

“Shhhh!!…  Listen!…  Just listen!”

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Poetry, Reflections, Visions

Shifting Sands…

The world around me is a desert, drowning…

Blood, sweat and tears stain the ground.

I walk slowly, purposefully…

among the shifting sands.

The trees’ roots are strong beneath me, supporting…

granting peace, comfort and stability.

Allowing me to pause and wait, consciously…

when the ground shifts beneath my feet.

And when it has settled once again, temporarily…

I can adapt my course appropriately.

And this… these words… serve not to guide…

nor hamper any progress…

but to remind…

that I am both navigator and traveller.

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Reflections, Visions

“Emma May and Other Stray… Thoughts?”

So…  I’m waking up this morning, knowing that I dreamt, though not having any memory of what that might have been.  It happens that way sometimes – a sense of activity, a stimulated mind, an awareness of thoughts that have failed to stay…

I’m sipping my first cup of coffee, not really focused on anything at all.  And I feel myself slipping into that sacred place, between realms, between worlds, where realities collide and embrace…

I find myself having a conversation, though I have no idea with whom; doesn’t really matter, I guess, or their identity would show through.  I hear myself saying, “Emma May has gotten sooo huge!…”

Yes, I hear that ellipsis ringing in my head; “dot, dot, dot,” like a bell tolling someplace…  It tells me that everything important has been said; everything else in the conversation is extraneous.  Great!  Focus.  Except…

I have no idea who Emma May might be…

“Interesting…,” I think, out loud, maybe.  “But why,” I can’t help wondering?

“Why would that intrigue me at all?”

Because that’s my brain these days, in quiet moments anyway.  Skipping off to who knows where to engage in pointless, mundane conversations with people I don’t know, about topics I’m completely unfamiliar with…  And yet…  It feels so normal!

The trees speak to me as well, when I pass by them on the trail.  Sometimes, lately, they come to me, bringing pictures of a typical day… for them.  I love those visits, when they occur, because they’re less demanding than the human ones.  Yes, it’s true, the trees want something from me, but often it amounts to nothing more than company; I “hear” them, and so they “speak” to me.  Simple, straightforward, honest, and real…

Ahh…  “real”!  I knew there was a point here somewhere.  And now I know…

And a picture drifts across my slowly enlightening mind, while early morning sunshine begins brightening the world outside.  I see a title, complete with quotes…

“Emma May and Other Stray… Thoughts?”

Ahhh, yes.  There you are!  Welcome to my… Reality?  Insanity?  Awareness?  Inanity?

Let me be your bridge today, to that sacred place between.  Where anything can happen.  And very often does.  Where none of it may mean a thing, or All of it may mean something…

You decide…

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Poetry, Reflections

“The Surface of ‘Things’…”

I find my self upon the ocean

far, far from land;

I cannot sense a hint of it,

even far, far beyond.

I’m floating on the surface of things

riding a raft of my own creation,

made up of pieces and parts –

tokens of my own broken past…

know there mustn’t be solid ground near

for no birds fly here,

not even the albatross who often follows me

with his self-destructive tendencies.

But the water is calm today, as am I,

the waves gently rocking…

I lay back, stare at the clear blue sky

and gently drift to sleep…

I dream…

Glancing over the edge of my make-shift raft

I see many glistening beings

swimming just below the surface –

a hint about those “things.”

My thoughts reach deeper still

to where the currents flow,

sensing potential danger (or enlightenment)

in the power of the undertow…

“Is this where tides begin?”

“And change?,” I’m wondering…

“Or merely the point of no return,

when whatever IS just drags you in?”

Deeper still the shadows grow

as even Light begins to hesitate;

“things” there are larger still

and frightening, perhaps, to contemplate…

Beneath them in the ocean’s depth

where Light completely fails,

blindness is a gift, protecting me

from what might be revealed.

But there…

Far, far from the surface,

where the greatest mysteries dwell…

That is where true Power lives…

and breathes…

in the most haunting “things” of All.

But floating on my make-shift raft

upon the surface of things

such power seems much too remote

to ever even touch me.

Until I wake…

To see those blue skies overrun

with storm clouds tall and threatening.

To hear the rumbling thunder

and watch the distant lightning.

To feel the swells begin to rise

as chaos stirs the surface.

To sense the instability

of my raft of broken memories.

Surprisingly, it is not Fear who comes to judge my progress…

Nor a desperate need to act.

Rather, the calm of the ocean I slept on

has strengthened its hold upon me.

And as the storm approaches,

I find my self… wondering…

just what I’ll choose to do

when this fragile raft I’m riding on

dumps me into the surrounding turmoil?…

Will I struggle to remain afloat?

Grabbing pieces of my broken raft,

renewing my commitment here and now

to staying on the surface?

Or will I let my little self go?

Sinking beneath the things

past the glistening beings

to the power far below?

Or maybe…

Perhaps, even…

If I trust my self enough…

You think?

One of those behemoths living in the deep…

Will slowly rise to meet (and greet) me.

And slipping gracefully beneath my feet,

will lift me up, just high enough…

for me to find my wings!

Freeing me at last

from the ocean’s clinging grasp

to fly far, far above

the ever present surface of…

things…

 

 

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