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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Dreams, NoBloPoMo, Reflections

Living “Debt Free”…

I had a dream almost a week ago in which my dream mentor told me, quite plainly, “all your debt is paid…

When the words were first spoken, shock set in, followed rapidly by disbelief, which morphed into thoughts of consequences and caveats…

“But what about the taxes?,” I asked.  “Has any provision been made for that?  I mean, if you write off that kind of debt, there are tax consequences…”

My mentor cocked his head and just looked at me, exasperated.

I didn’t say your debt has been forgiven; I said it has been paid…  You are now able to begin living debt-free.

As these words were spoken, I allowed my doubt to leave, watching as it burst into a tiny flame burning somewhere near my heart.  Slowly that flame grew into excitement, anticipation, and yes, even hope, spreading rapidly throughout my body.  The expanding warmth finally reached my head and toes, and with it came clarity…

Laughing, I said to him, “ohhh…  You’re talking about Karma, aren’t you?”

And then I awoke…

Ok, so maybe my financial debt remains, a holdover from when I believed I owed the world something, simply for taking up space here.  But still…  this “gift” is huge!!

Debt free, karmically speaking, what does that really mean?  How does it feel?  How does it translate into daily activity?  These are the questions driving my experiences today…

The first thing I noticed was a certain “lightness,” a lifting of an ever-present weight upon my shoulders.  I stood straighter, calmer, more confidently in my space.  I realized, with a growing sense of wonder, that I owed nobody anything (can’t figure out how to make that work, grammatically, but you get the idea…).  I understood that everything I do now truly is by choice, a choice freed of guilt and expectation.  What do I want to do, right now?

And the first thing I did was go to work.  Of course.  😉  Not because I felt I had to, but because I wanted to.  I looked forward to spending time with coworkers, to enjoying my work for its own sake, to doing something helpful and productive with my physical being…

Then I went for a walk in the woods, spending time with the trees and the animals who shelter and live there.  Only this time, I wasn’t there seeking messages, lessons, or learning, but simply enjoying the beauty of the moment, the sharing of time with Other beings, similar to, but so unlike my self.  It was quite gratifying…

And today…

Several days have passed, and slowly I revert to the “should’s” and “ought to’s” of life…

***

One of my “grandkitties” had to be euthanized two days ago, and I ached all over, for my daughter, her family, and the animal himself.  I know it was the “right” thing to do.  I struggled with what part I should play in that unfolding drama.  I offered myself to my daughter, whatever she needed.  But I understood that she was the “adult in charge,” and the decisions were hers to make.  I respected those boundaries, even when it became obvious she didn’t “need” me at all…  My baby is all grown up now, and I couldn’t be prouder of her, or the way she handled this unexpected tragedy…

But I had to catch myself, more than once, reminding my self that debt-free goes both ways; I may not owe anyone else, but neither do they owe me.  She didn’t need my “help” this time, and she did brilliantly!  There is absolutely nothing I could have said or done to improve that experience; she, quite literally, got the job done in the most compassionate, loving, and responsible way possible.  With no urging or guidance from me…

And it truly came home to me this morning, after two days of “grieving,” that this, also, is part of what it means to live “debt free”…

And being free just took on a whole new dimension for me…

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Reflections, Visions

Detachment…?

The clock on the wall keeps ticking, but the hands no longer move…

Because Time no longer motivates me.

Voices argue down the street, louder and louder, but the words no longer mean…

Because language never truly captured or communicated what was real.

Sadness, sorrow, grief wash over me, but tears no longer fall…

Because acceptance of what is, is, and my heart does not resist.

Peace wraps itself around me, as my eyes begin to lose their focus…

Because clarity comes to the Observer, relieved of earthly pleasures.

And I see…

That I am not alone, nor disconnected here from Others; rather we are joined in spirit, thought, and understanding.  Holding “hands” as all we’ve known drops out beneath us.  Free floating in a place without gravity to hold us, without severity to sink us.  Gently holding on to what is real for each of us… in a space with no time, no boundaries, no real limitations.  Just us.  And what each has chosen to live with…

I will not judge you on your choices, for I have made my own.  And each will be responsible for whatever seeds we’ve sown.  There is no “right” or “wrong” here, and “fairness” does not exist.  A redefinition is occurring of what we once called Justice.

The truth, as I see it (little “t” intended), is that choices surround us All. Depending on your perspective, belief and expectation, you alone can choose what path calls loudest to you…

Some may face a fork ahead, choosing left or right; envisioning a world where all is black or white…

Some may face a crossroads, where many paths may merge; joining forces, they move on to where their spirits urge…

Some may find themselves at the center of a wheel; all paths entering, even circling, but never truly leaving…

Whatever path awaits you, friends, I trust you will choose well.  At least you will decide your fate, as only you can for yourself.  And if you feel helpless, drowning in the chaos, chained to time and space…?  Try letting go completely, before it drags you down…

Detachment…?  Or apathy?

Surrender…? Or acceptance?

Cowardice…?  Or conscience?

The choice is always yours…

 

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