Haiku for Uvalde

No comprehension
In these life’s ragged moments
Empty in the void

Hear the mother hen
Squawking distress heartbreak grief
Skunk’s hunger sated

Loud rolling thunder
Image fading too slowly
Empty weeping arms

Handcuff mothers’ fear
Protecting children dying
More guns men laughing

Peace found within fields
Memory of loving days
Mountain heart endures

Back from Bedlam

Apropos, I suppose, I woke up this morning with James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” running through my head. The song appeared on his first album Back to Bedlam (named after a famous psychiatric hospital in England). Of course “bedlam” is descriptive of my anguished frustration and confusion as to “how can this keep happening” — these senseless murders of young children. With the tune playing through my mind as I came out of sleep, I was also well aware of the counterpoise necessary to rebalance myself after giving permission for that one voice to blow off some steam and heed the call to get loud.

I reflect that thirty-plus years ago, when I was 40, I started training in kung fu. At first it was simply a disciplined way to get exercise, but as I moved into the art, it became one of my deepest psychological journeys.

Early in my training, I was tasked with learning a series of moves: a straight punch to the face, an elbow to the chin, and knee to the groin (all with full control because that, in essence, was what we were training to have:  control). I performed the move — quite well, I thought — with hardness. “Look at my warrior strength!!” my ego beamed.

My sifu stopped me and said, “Good, but now I want you to do it slowly and softly.” I looked at him, and I said, “Well, I can’t do that. That’s not who I am,” so ingrained in this persona that who “I was” was hard and strong and direct. But he was not going to argue with me; he gave me the choice to do it slowly and softly or to get on the ground and do 50 full-body pushups with my partner kicking me in the stomach on each plank. I kid you not, but without hesitation I dropped to the ground to do that instead of having to be soft.

My sifu, not expecting that to be my choice, stopped me. In essence, the choice changed to “do it soft and slow or end your training.” Because I felt “it” happening, I wanted to argue that I could not do “soft,” and I told to him, “I will cry if I have to do that.” He said, “That’s okay.” I replied, “No, it’s never okay to cry, especially in kung fu.” He chuckled and said, “It’s always okay to cry.”

A higher, wiser Self stepped up beside me (I now recognize it as the Spirt side of Mind/Body/Spirit) and “held” me while I went through that controlled move. And I cried. “Again,” my sifu said. Again, I did it softly and slowly, and I cried more deeply. “Again,” he said.  And I sobbed as I touched feeling so scared and vulnerable in allowing myself to be soft. Through the following seven years of training in kung fu, my challenge was to learn to “yield,” to honor my yin energy, to find the balance between the yin and the yang. I achieved Brown Belt rank before arthritic issues at age 47 (probably the physical manifestation of years of hardness) ended my physical training.

Though most people move through life disguised and dressed in one persona (mine at that time was a hardened, closed-off warrior superwoman), if we become aware, we recognize we all have different voices, or selves, within us, each of which needs to be recognized and honored in order to free ourselves. It was during those years of training in kung fu, in my search to rebalance myself, I was privileged to be introduced to  a wise woman and practitioner of Voice Dialogue, a process through which a person learns to identify and become aware of these different voices or selves in order to become a more balanced individual.  Though far from practiced in the process myself, I recognized its importance in helping me achieve an emotional equipoise in my life.

Back in those days of kung fu, I had to learn to listen to this young, weak child that was never allowed to cry and that had to wear armor to get through life. Not only had that armor ceased to serve me, it had become destructive. Through kung fu — and Voice Dialogue and shamanic work, and eventually meditation — I got in touch with my world of archetypical energies that all serve me when in balance, but also can be destructive or hindering when one outshouts the other.

The Lover’s voice in James Blunt wrote and sang those beautiful songs. “You’re Beautiful” is an incredibly sad song about unrequited love, expressing the intense emotions of James Blunt when he saw his girlfriend with another man and he didn’t do anything about it (in the official video he jumps endlessly off a wall, down, down, down to …?).

Yesterday my Warrior ranted and played the bagpipes and banged on the drums of frustration. This morning, my Priest sat in silent meditation. In the bedlam of our “modern world,” I continue to listen for and await the voice of wisdom and spirit to illuminate the way.

May peace and love find us all and be the loudest voice and the brightest light to show the path forward in the bedlam of our world.

GET LOUD – Because right now, we are NOT a great nation

I didn’t need Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue to write this; I did need to hear it to give myself permission to publish it, to get loud about what I feel. I felt I needed to rein myself in, knowing that when I get emotionally distraught my words can feel destructive, even to me; they’re angry rants, instead of finding the passages in the darkness where a little light might shine at just the right angle where even the blindest person perceives it and turns towards it and listens to the truth that I believe in my heart must exist in every person out there, no matter their political persuasion.  It is difficult to find hope for our society when children continue to be murdered.  So the least I can do is get loud.

I’ll start with the common sense things I KNOW.

If I don’t wear a seatbelt I will be fined, even though the only person it hurts is me if I don’t wear it.

If I even  touch my cell phone when driving, I can be fined and even imprisoned.

Every driver in this country must have a license to drive a car and will be fined and possibly jailed if they fail to abide that law. And they must renew it regularly.

Every driver must take a test and prove they understand the laws and rules governing their legal right to operate a vehicle on public roads.

Drivers can be fined and lose their licenses and/or be jailed for violations that endanger other members of society.

Every car must have insurance to protect people and property from a car’s inherent ability to kill and maim (yes, it’s not the car that kills; it’s the driver, right?)

Every car must be licensed. And, in most states cars are required to pass safety checks to insure the car is not handicapped (i.e., insanely unsafe) to drive safely on the road.

Those things I know.

At the very least, these same things should apply to gun ownership. 

Background checks for the mentally ill?  It seems to me that in America, we are in a situation where the fox is guarding the hen house.  Why have we come to accept that someone who is obsessed with a sense of fear that others might attack and/or kill them (paranoid delusions), and hence feel the need to arm themselves with weapons of war and other semi-automatic weapons are sane? Why have we accepted the idea that a person with a Personality Disorder of Excessive Power Strivings  is also sane?  I propose that these people, constituting a growing number of people in our society, are in fact mentally ill, and they themselves should not be allowed to own guns.  In other words, the simple “background checks” is not going to weed out 95% of the mentally ill people allowed to purchase and carry weapons of killing.

Negligent homicide.  It seems to me that people in government positions that support fewer gun laws are in fact complicit in murders occurring within their jurisdictions. Knowing our laws, and the irony that they control those guns and gun laws, it’s unlikely they will be charged with such crimes.  But voters do have the power to remove them from office and replace them with those who will not prostitute themselves to the NRA (or other corporate institutions that cause harm in our society).

Education not prison.  I propose that “freedom” is not turning our schools into prisons with armed guards and only one door. But education might avoid such prisons. Anyone who owns a gun should  undergo an intensive educational program not just on safe gun handling but an extensive, hours-long education on the evolution of our society’s gun culture, anger-management screening, intensive victims’ panel discussions, and testing on those subjects as well as gun safety.  Yearly. The problem is a cultural one which needs to be addressed with education, not more guns or prison walls for our children.

Registry and insurance. Like a vehicle, every gun needs to be registered.  Further, no ammunition can be sold to any individual without proof of a registered weapon, and the amount of ammunition and types of ammunition will go into a monitored data base, just like a driver’s record is kept in a data base. Each year, a gun owner must present his gun in person to a designated office, to prove they are still in possession of it. Like automobile insurance, which varies with the make, model, year, and value of a car as well as where that car is primarily driven, a gun owner needs to pay an insurance premium commensurate with the type of gun. For example, their premium would be $1,000 a year for each AR-15; $500 a year for a semi-automatic pistol; $50 a year for a .22 rifle. For the right to own a gun and prove they are being responsible gun owners, their home must be open for inspection to prove that their weapons of murder are locked in safe boxes, and that they have a license and insurance to own it. If they do not prove yearly ownership, and cannot show proof of sale, they will be fined and/or put in prison. Just like uninsured, unlicensed reckless drivers.

But our societal problems are deeper than just gun control.

We need to have  a Constitutional Convention to bring the Constitution into the 21st Century and correct its obsolescence, because all these representatives who swear to uphold the Constitution are in fact continuing a status quo that is not in line with modern times.

The 2nd Amendment was written because at that time, there was no government militia. There was no army. If attacked, they wanted the ability of citizens to form a military to protect the country.  Further, the southern states wanted a militia so they could protect themselves against a slave rebellion and/or track down slaves that ran away.

There is no longer a need for individuals to form a militia to “secure a free state”; we have a monstrous military complex in place protecting us against foreign attackers for which our tax dollars contribute a disproportionately huge amount.  The 2nd Amendment is obsolete in that regard. Though racism is not dead, slavery is, and there is no need to hunt down and re-imprison those human beings who made the slave owner rich and and powerful.

A new look at speech. News took days if not weeks to be disseminated.  Now, with our instant social media, in seconds, lies and hate speech are disseminated that incite crimes of hate and insurrection, all of which seem to be leading to anarchy and fascism and a breakdown of the very social mores our Constitution was meant to protect against. We are in dangerous times when there are more weapons than citizens — weapons that can shoot not one bullet every two minutes but hundreds in seconds —  while being fueled with lies, disinformation, and hate.

I propose the Electoral College needs to be excised from the Constitution because it perpetuates a multitude of continuing injustices in our society. It was installed for purely racist reasons: Before the South would join the union, slave owners insisted that 3/5th of their slaves constitute one vote in elections. A slave owner with 100 slaves would be allowed 60 votes, and the Electoral College was established to favor those white male slave owners.

We no longer have slaves. There is absolutely no bias to anybody to have one person, one vote. The number of electoral votes is equal to the number of members of Congress: senators and congressmen.  But there is incredible bias when a slight majority of delegates in a state can vote against the will of the majority of the people, hence instilling a president who did not win the popular vote, and who does not represent the will of the people.  Instead, the archaic and discriminatory Electoral College continues to represent the interests of a smaller group of the wealthiest people with their own personal interests, biases and prejudices, their own ignorance, and influenced by the controlling corporations and monied individuals, who do not have the interest of the average American citizen in mind.

The Constitution is obsolete because, to this day, women do not have constitutional equal rights.

We need a constitutional convention to correct these deep societal and cultural wrongs that exist in the Constitution. It was a document created by wealthy male landowners in a time so different than ours is today.  We need a governing document that aligns with the wiser and more just society that the majority of the people of the United States aspire to have.  We are wiser than our “founding fathers,” and the world is a different place.  Until then…

We are not a great nation when there are more guns than citizens and our government allows their free use to murder children, women, people of color (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when we have institutionalized racism and sexism and gender discrimination and the white male conservative majority prevents correcting these wrongs so they can maintain the status quo (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when women, who have brought forth every one of us from their wombs — through a process called labor, a labor no man could endure — do not have the equal rights of their male counterparts in our society, and whose right to make decisions about their bodies is taken from them by those same men who hold power over them (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when our government officials are nothing more than prostitutes to corporate lobbyists, an ill-disguised form of deep-pocketed corruption in our system of governance (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when one body of Congress prevents the legitimate selection of a Supreme Court Justice in order to pack a court that is no longer an independent overseer of the laws and no longer that third arm of our democracy, but are mere puppets of corporate interests and prostituted legislators.

We are not a great nation when our representatives in Congress “can’t figure out why people are gunning down children” and shoppers and movie goers daily in our country (think a little harder, Lindsey) (perpetuated by ignorance and their chosen career as prostitutes).

We are not a great nation when we our freedom of speech and our right to read and educate ourselves is being curtailed by a few power-hungry, corrupt individuals who feel threatened by those who might hear the truth and learn of a different point of view than their biased, bigoted, discriminatory proselytizing.

We are not a great nation when we put billionaires’ interests ahead of the poorest and most needy.

We are not a great nation when we do not provide paid maternity leave but instead put capitalistic interests ahead of the ability to nurture our children for their formative years so that — just maybe? — they won’t feel abandoned and unloved and decide they will deal with their hurt by killing others. We are not a great nation when we refuse to substitute or subsidize free day care for our children in a nurturing environment but instead have X-Box shoot-em-up videos babysit latchkey children after school (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation that puts the GDP over the existential environmental degradation from which we are less than three years away from passing the point of no return, and we are not a great nation when the almighty dollar is greater than our trust in God (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation if we are hypocrites.

But we are fucked ….. if we can’t immediately address the gun laws and the inequality, and the lies, and the corporate corruption, and all the other problems that this not-great country suffers from.

BUT, we can be a great nation if we put our trust in God, in whatever way one believes in that invisible force that breathes us into life, that hums us with love when we’re quiet enough to shut out all the bullshit of the gun-totin’, woman-hatin’, racist, corrupt politicians and those who support them.

We can be a great nation when we put the love of our children ahead of the almighty dollar.

We can be a great nation when we stand up to the corporate interests of the NRA (and other greedy corporations) and renounce the culture of male supremacy, bias, fear and other power-hungry people.

We will be a great society when we choose to melt the fucking guns down with which we will build a monstrous monument to peace and love with equality and social justice for all.

So get LOUD.

Get LOUD and get out and VOTE.

Vote the hypocritical murderers, political prostitutes, conspiracy nutcases, wimps and liars out of office.

Embrace the human values we all aspire to:  equality, peace, love, inclusiveness because otherwise, it will be Ted Cruz’s world of Texas bacon: One door with a couple paranoid power-crazed jailers who make the decisions as to who gets in or out.

GET LOUD

 

All the history I did not know….

I promised myself, when I decided to start blogging again, that I wouldn’t get “political.” But sometimes it’s just too darn hard to keep my mouth shut.

I didn’t like history or social studies in high school. I don’t remember it being a deep discussion of ideas or philosophies but instead a process of memorizing pages and pages of events in history: the main characters, the main event, and the date, as in, 1620 the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock; in 1492, Columbus “discovered” America (with, of course, no education as to his murdering and decimation and enslavement of a whole population of peoples who definitely didn’t need discovering to begin with); pages of lines of similar history to be memorized. I remembered 1492 — because it had a rhyme attached to it. I remembered 1620, possibly because my maternal grandparents’ generations were early settlers of Massachusetts (a great, great, great — possibly greater great-grandfather being the first president of Harvard College in 1690). And of course everyone of my generation knew December 7, 1941, which had only occurred a brief 25 years previous to my high school history lessons.

Every line to be memorized was an event of war and domination. But the truth? At least in high school, we weren’t taught that the white man committed genocide upon the First Nations people of what is now the United States. Nobody taught me that the white male society of Britain shipped opium to the Chinese and addicted a whole nation just to equalize their huge trade deficits from their own insatiable appetite for tea. It was simply one-line facts of white male society’s domination over the African continent or South America or India or the conquest of some other empire. They were facts we were to memorize and accept.

Nobody answered my teenage question, “Why did I need to memorize these one-line statements of mankind’s history, most of which reflected wars and conquests?” Oh, that’s right:  it was necessary to memorize these facts so that history would not be repeated. Huh? I might have been interested if I was actually taught the story behind His-Story in high school. I might have become an activist if I was taught that the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee equal rights for women in its constitution — even to this day! Though all provisions have been met ratifying what would be the 28th Amendment codifying the Equal Rights Act (ERA), codifying women’s equal rights, as I understand its status, it has yet to be certified by the archivist that would embody it forever in our Constitution!! I urge the reader to read Her-Story here. https://msmagazine.com/2022/01/27/equal-rights-amendment-resolution-us-house-28th-amendment-constitution/

I wasn’t taught history or the reasons I should be interested in history, and quite frankly, stuffing facts in my head bored me. Instead, for multiple reasons, one of which was an innate sense of wanderlust in my soul, I found myself sailing the South Pacific throughout the Seventies, five years after high school. I was in the South Pacific, without radio, without newspapers, without knowledge of the world “out there” for seven years.

I was overseas when abortion finally became legal in the United States, though I didn’t know that. I only knew that it was illegal when I went to Mexico (across a border that was still free and open) with my boyfriend seven years earlier (my boyfriend’s father, thankfully, having made the arrangements, of which my parents, now long dead, never knew). I was overseas, living in a thatched hut, subsistence farming, in New Zealand in January of 1973 when, I learned many years later, the American War in Vietnam ended. I was somewhere near the Marquesas or Tahiti when burglars broke into the Democratic Headquarters. I was somewhere near Walpole Island, in the middle of nowhere, when Nixon resigned after Woodward and Bernstein, through a free press, revealed his, and the republican party’s, role in the attempt to corrupt the democratic process. I didn’t even know what “Watergate” was until I saw a movie called All the President’s Men years later. I was somewhere in Australia, the home of Germaine Greer, when I heard this thing called the Women’s Liberation Movement. I didn’t give it much attention because, after all, I was sailing in the South Pacific, free, doing what I wanted to do. Weren’t Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best just childhood fairy tales like Peter Pan, nothing to pay heed to? Women weren’t really like that, were they?

Now I’m bombarded with news. I listen. I absorb it. I get upset. I research what I hear, checking the information. I get horrified when, during Trump’s campaign, I see a woman on national TV grab her own crotch and proudly say, “He can grab my pussy any time he wants.” I feel horrified and helpless when an American congressperson, Marjorie Taylor Greene, proclaims “women are the weaker sex” and that “you belong to your husband.”

All things end, all things change. That’s the nature of things. The misogyny in America will end.  My hope is it ends today, this election term. My hope is that the change that comes is for more equality, not less equality, for more compassion and kindness and love before more hatred and darkness. My hope is it ends before my granddaughters are ordered to wear the handmaid’s robes.

If time passes before my next post, it’s because I’m taking a long walk in nature and looking for its goodness and beauty. But today, because I’ve chosen to live in this society and no longer in a thatched hut cut off from the world, because I see these continued and mounting threats against women’s rights as well as the continued discrimination against people of color:  Sometimes a woman has to speak out against these continued injustices.

Or then again, maybe I’ll leave again and fly to Midway and take care of the albatross.  Who knows (I sure don’t.)

Mothers’ Day

Heather Cox Richardson is an historian and professor at Boston College.  If you’re not aware of her, she posts informative daily blogs on current and past history.  On this mothers’ day, as we witness the mindless brutality of the war in Ukraine, and other places, as well as assaults on women’s rights and human rights, she reminds us that the beginning of Mothers’ Day originated from the cry of women who are left to carry on, work the fields, and work in the industries, while rearing their children and tending the wounded, all while their sons, husbands, brothers go to war to kill and maim or be killed or maimed.

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-7-2022?r=1fl2xg&s=r&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email.

Remember Peter, Paul and Mary’s song:  Where have all the flowers gone… the fathers gone… the husbands gone…the soldiers gone — where have all the graveyards gone?  When will they ever learn?  The white male-dominated society continues to keep the war machine going.  It continues to suppress women.  It continues to deny equal rights to people of color. In some states, that dominating destructive energy is attempting to deny other rights including those of transgender people.  And now, it’s trying to turn back the clock on women’s rights — which have never been equal — and strip away our rights to our own bodies, our own health, and our own personal choices.

I’ll not pretend to be as articulate as Dr. Richardson, but I share her article as a rally call to women. As we spiral towards self-destruction on many fronts from the environment to insane reptilian wars, it becomes more imperative that women take the helm — not the Marjorie Greene Taylors of the world — God no! — but women who can actually carry a heavier load in tough times with patience, and mercy, nurture, love, deep caring, through dialogue and love. Through a labor no man could suffer through, remember we, women, bring life into this world.  And  yet “man taketh it away.”

Thank you, Heather Cox Richardson for reminding us that Mothers’ Day is not a Hallmark Holiday, but was the beginning of a women’s empowerment movement which is still grinding on, two steps forward and, it appears, three steps backward.

I also encourage you to watch or read the PBS interview of Hillary Clinton and Alyse Nelson, Vital Voices’  president and CEO, a nonprofit organization that Clinton started with Madeleine Albright.   https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/hillary-clinton-discusses-war-in-ukraine-democracy-in-the-u-s-and-future-of-roe-v-wade.  Again, it’s an informative interview.

With that, I will leave the talking to those more educated than I.