Thursday, February 15, 2018

V is for Victim

Another day, another school shooting, another mass murder…when will it end? And what can we do about it? Those are the thoughts swirling through my brain today. And since I have the luxury of time in which to think and write, that is what I’ve decided to do; because I need to do something.
I began my day as I always do. Feed the animals, pack lunches, drink coffee, chat with hubby, read email, check out social media to see what my peeps have in store for their days. And of course, social media is overloaded with the latest school shooting. The news articles with numbers and quotes, video and pictures are sandwiched between the retweets from people in power along with the counter tweets begging for justice. There are memes and political cartoons along with prayers and poetry covering all sides of the issues. And the inevitable story in support of the NRA that takes us all the way back to Cain and Abel and their story to explain the existence of hatred in all of men’s hearts as some kind of excuse for why it is perfectly legitimate to purchase your own personal arsenal for self-defense. Suddenly, I just can’t stand it anymore. I want to rant and rave, scream and yell, cry out “WHY???” to the heavens. Children are dying and all we can do is argue and debate?
For the record, I have to address the Cain and Abel reference for the smarmy attempt at mollification that it is. I would like to point out a few things that always stick in my craw when this comes up. First of all, it is comparing apples to oranges. Cain beat his brother to death with a rock or club, depending on your translation. He didn’t mow him down with an automatic weapon equipped with a high volume magazine. He hit him with a big stick. Second, he wasn’t some stranger, newly arrived in town that had everyone looking over their shoulder because damn, that guy looks creepy. He killed his own brother. I don’t know about you, but I normally don’t expect my brother to beat me to death because he is jealous that my work has brought more favor from our father than his did. If that were the norm in sibling rivalry, I would have been dead decades ago. Lord knows there were many times that my efforts were seen as better than his and we all knew it. But that’s not the point. The point is that if we are aware and wary, we all have a chance to defend ourselves against an angry person wielding a big stick; nobody has equal footing with an AK-47. And dumping more guns into public hands hasn’t done a damn bit of good. If you read the studies and statistics, the increase in gun ownership has grown by leaps and bounds and the mass public shootings have grown right along with it. As far as the bit about Cain and Abel being proof that there has always been evil in men’s hearts…I can only say, “No shit, Sherlock!” After thousands of years of history, of wars, violence, slavery, etc., I think we have figured that out. What I just can’t understand is why so many people are totally fine with handing over weapons designed to kill efficiently and in large numbers when they know that evil is out there. You cannot condone your own use of those weapons by quoting the Bible. The Bible says to turn the other cheek, do not kill, do not covet thy neighbor’s wife and stuff….the Bible does not say it’s OK to own guns because you fancy yourself a great white hunter, or are afraid of Muslims, and besides, Cain killed Able.
 I say BULLSHIT! Christian gun owners feeling guilty over their stance really need to find a better argument. Spouting Bible quotes for every violent occasion hasn’t done a bit of good yet. Why not try a new tack? Christ didn’t just get pissed off at the money lenders and yell at them. He didn’t walk around with some kind of holier than thou attitude telling everyone the right way to be. He literally turned the tables on them, threw over the tables and tossed their money on the ground and took action against the injustice he saw. He fed people, washed their feet, learned what was in their hearts and learned to LOVE them. He didn’t sit in glass cathedrals sweating while the migrant workers start collecting stones.
So the great burning question is-- What can we do? Those of us that love our children more than guns, what can we do to help change the world and make it safer for our grandchildren? I know that many people have been calling, writing letters, and emailing their representatives for years on this matter. I asked my hubby what it would take to get some intelligent legislation written to help and was reminded that it has already been written, repeatedly. But as long as the NRA, (or Russia) keep paying, and as long as the gun lobbyists can expect to keep being paid, nothing will change until we vote some intelligent people into office. As long as we have large groups of citizens living in fear of The Other, listening to that idiot on Info Wars and his ilk, spreading hate and intolerance, and equating their rights to own guns with their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we have a very long, steeply graded slope to fight our way up.
This brings me to a few things I heard recently, from Morgan Freeman and Michelle Obama while they were being interviewed on separate occasions. Morgan Freeman was talking about people in general over time, and that behaviors and beliefs are like waves and can be almost predictable given enough distance and perspective. And I was reminded of the fact that ocean waves, while coming in and retreating, are inevitably turning over everything under them. If you study an island like Assateague, you will find that the island itself literally rolls over given enough time spent with the waves constantly moving. Michelle Obama pointed out that if you look at our nation just in the past 100 years, yes, we still have a lot of work to do, but we have already come so far. I take heart in that statement, and in the knowledge that like the tide, the Love will slowly work its magic. The ebb and flow will inevitably turn over everything it washes over, exposing the fear and cleansing it, washing away the hate and distrust it brings, exposing the tender love it hides.

Bottom line, if you can’t run for office to make positive changes, vote for those that can and do. And in the meantime, go out and love one another. Practice random acts of kindness, because Nice Matters. Be the change you wish to see in the world, one smile at a time. And never forget that you are not just a single drop in the ocean, you are also the entire ocean in a single drop.

Many thanks to Gandhi, my daughter Rebecca Emerick, Rumi, and many other poets for their inspiring words that I have taken the liberty to paraphrase in my closing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Soul Lights

Have you ever looked out of a window and seen, 
instead of the view outside,
the reflections of the lights in the room behind you,
sparkling off of the glass, shining in the dark?

When we look out into the world, 
we see the light of our soul reflected back to us.
It appears, not as our one light, but as many lights, multiplied.

When we share our soul light it grows and spreads,
touching off light in other souls.

When we look out and see our soul lights multiplied, 
reflected back at us,
we are seeing each other’s’ soul lights.

We feed each other, even when we don’t realize it.

If we could be aware of how we feed others when we share,
we could start a great bonfire of soul lights.

We could illuminate all of the darkness, so that all can see.
It all starts with one small spark.


Won’t you share your light?




Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hope

I have come to feel very sorry for a lot of folks in the world; not out of a sense of pity, though. I feel sorry out of a sense of compassion and empathy. There are so many people from so many walks of life, many nations, many creeds, who are feeling so very afraid. The world as they know it has ended. The understandings and practices that they have grown up with, that they are comfortable with, are gone. And perhaps gone is too harsh a term, but they are certainly out of fashion and are not welcome in practice. Imagine growing and learning and living under a set standard of beliefs, one that was passed down to you and was upheld by every establishment you were aware of, and suddenly being told it was wrong, invalid, outdated. How would you feel?
Having found myself in that position more than once in my lifetime, I can tell you it makes one feel afraid, insecure, distrustful, even paranoid and suspicious. I struggled to understand this new world I found myself in, and it was hard, especially when many of my friends and family didn’t understand or couldn’t even see my dilemma. How could they appreciate my struggle if they had never experienced it? Fortunately for me, I was blessed. I was given new friends who joined with some of my family in supporting my growth and encouraging my learning. They have been some of the angels on my journey, bright souls sent to light up my darkness so that I could see the path. It has not always been an easy path to follow. I have been challenged repeatedly, to grow more, to open up more, to learn more. In reward for that effort, I was given the greatest blessing of all.
To be loved, wholly, unconditionally, completely, just as I am. From that point of blessing, I have been able to see all the ways in which my life has been blessed; how the world has been blessed. And with that in mind, I offer Hope to all of those that are fearful of the future and the world they’ve known and understood changes daily under their feet. That Hope comes in the form of the children. I have been blessed with many children. Some I have carried and nurtured in my womb. Others I have carried and nurtured in my heart. All of them have taught me many lessons of love and acceptance. Theirs is a world of equality and solidarity like none we have witnessed outside of stories and books. Theirs is the world I believe Christ could see and encouraged everyone to work towards.
Our problem is that too many of us are closed off, unable to see this world as it is. We have grown old trying to keep up the rules and laws that serve a few while oppressing too many. Those rules are a heavy burden to bear and haven’t born the fruit they were promised to. We have grown tired, deep in our souls, struggling to maintain an old way of thinking that separates us from the greater humanity, tired of working to try to maintain a living that seems empty and devoid of reward. When we are separate, we are alone. When we are alone, we are prone to fear the Other. They are different and strange. We don’t understand their ways. We are afraid they will take something from us. We fail to see that the more we give, the more we receive.
The blessing of the many children I have been given, however, is to witness and learn from their openness. Those lessons I taught that I understood intellectually, they have absorbed deep into their souls and reflect them out into the world in such a beautiful rainbow. Where we see difference, they see oneness. They look out and see beauty in the Other, in their difference. They find the strange exciting and challenging. They embrace the difference and do not fear the upset of change, for they can appreciate the zest it brings to life to have things shaken up a bit. And in the most important ways, they fail to see any difference at all.
When my children look at their fellow human beings, they see people just like themselves. People who want to work at something they love. People that want to play with people who appreciate their gifts and talents. They see people who want to love and be loved, wholly, completely, unconditionally. Beyond those traits, the rest is just details to be learned, understood, and accepted. Those details are what make life interesting. They are the zest of life, the tang and excitement that brings excitement to our world. If the entire world was full of folks exactly like us, down to the last little idiosyncrasy…well, the world would be an awfully boring place. And hating the differences out of each other hasn’t worked no matter how many thousands of years the human race has fought. Perhaps we can take a page from my children’s’ book. Perhaps we could try to love one another. Sounds rather simple, doesn’t it? Although it was the greatest lesson anyone has ever tried to teach the world, it has proven to be the most difficult for the world to learn.

Let us begin as we mean to go on. Let there be Peace on Earth, let us Love One Another, and let it begin with you and me. Let us embrace in solidarity, for we all have the same hopes and dreams no matter the form they take. To Love, and to Be Loved….that’s all that matters. If we can keep that in our hearts, then it’s all good.