You Won’t Like This

Las Vegas.

It usually takes me several days to process dramatic and truly damaging events that permeate our shared public consciousness. Las Vegas is such an event. It has made such a deep impact on America that I cannot even speak of it in the past tense, as it will linger and fester in our souls for a long time. I don’t even have to qualify it. Simply the name of the city is enough. And this will probably be the case for a long time. Unless the arms race of massive death creates another tortured soul with a plan.

Heroes is not necessarily the only word I would use to describe the many whose acts of courage and compassion are rightfully honored and revered. So many, in all disasters are called heroes. But in this, as in those, heroes is an incomplete concept. For me, it is not enough to simply say they are heroes. I need to hear why they are heroes, either big or small, either saving lives or soothing scared children.

Heroes do what they do, they run towards not away, because they love their neighbor, out of compassion and empathy. Because they intuitively revere and love life and people, who all deserve to be saved. Tragedy destroys the boundaries between people and carries suffering down the path to hope. The clarity of our shared pain shows us we are one, individual yet part of something greater, something that lives deep inside us and manifests when we need it. This is the divinity and beauty of heroism, not merely a selfless deed.

Now the authorities are looking for motive. Desperately. The motive is simple, as it is for all mass killers. They are in pain and choose to assuage that pain through heinous murder. No matter their state of being they all make a choice. Whether suffering through political anger, mental disorder’s damaged thinking or aggrieved despair, the pain is the same and the choice to act with violence is the same, to make others suffer as they do. Having known severe pain I cannot hate them. But why do we make so many more of them than anywhere else?

These killers act out because American culture permits us to resolve conflict and pain with violence. Not only is it permitted it is the preferred means. Immorality as social norm. But one cannot legislate morality. Conservatives know this but are so heavy-handed and self-serving they cannot serve that truth in a way that serves society. Liberals want to help save people but sell themselves short out of fear. They cannot maintain outrage because more tragedy is always around the corner to overwhelm them. And the twain shall never meet.

Everybody knows subconsciously that the American culture’s affair with guns makes the gun violence dynamic here different than the rest of the world. We cannot be another Australia no matter how much we legislate gun sensible laws. Law can only scratch the surface. Sensible gun safety legislation will help, but not enough. There must be more.

Many say we can’t stop invisible lone wolves from acting, from committing mass murder. That it’s impossible to ferret them out. They use this as an excuse to never try stopping them. The gun makers tell us the solution is more guns. Plenty of us believe this to be true. And a majority of the country does not trust the law to solve anything. In this case, they may be quite right. But I see these people as cowards, throwing up their hands in insincere despair. Selling death for profit.

To my mind, there is a good solution here, perhaps the best solution. Instead of trying to stop these evil killers when they are fully grown and engaged, we should change the way we raise our children, especially boys and especially white boys. Call it sexism/genderism and racism but the statistics bear it out. White men make up a large majority of mass murderers.

The way to stop us from accepting gun violence as a solution to social problems is to stop teaching our children this myth, this soul-crushing lie that violence is the way to go, the way to make everything right. The circle of violence can only be broken by Americans acting in concert to stop telling our boys to “be a man” and then equating that manhood with violence. I feel strongly that this “be a man” syndrome is sinful. The Christ does not ask us to turn the other cheek for nothing.

The glorification of violence is outdated at best. The fight or flight autonomic reaction existed for a creature with few reasoning skills, creatures without language as a tool of peace. There is a reason it is buried deep in our brains. It is no longer a viable means of avoiding pain or resolving conflict. As thinking beings, we can overcome our instant calls to violence. This is not easy. But as humans, we can call on the power of mind over matter. It works.

We must begin the hard work of creating fewer and fewer men with unbearable pain, those who feel horribly wronged but who hide it well, those subjected to abuse who process violence as normal, and even those who are barely aware of what they are doing. Of course, there are anomalies. There are women who act out in this way but as much as prehistoric women were rarely called upon to fight for existence, modern women are rarely acculturated to violence. This, I feel, is part of why they make up a small percentage of mass murderers. Yet another anomaly, in the instance of the sins of psychopaths these souls may never be inclined to abandon violence.

As said, it is imperative that we contribute to the solution the right way, by telling our children that violence is never acceptable. We must still learn the ways of violence as a defense against an existential threat. Complete passivity is naive. But the best way is to show our sons and daughters that violence is not the way is by our actions, modeling peaceful negotiation and mediation as the preferred method of conflict resolution, that through human interaction we can ease our pain.

The best way is better than the right way. And the example we set is the best means of successfully moving our pain into hope, as befits sentient beings. The Sanskrit word for weapon is also the word for tool. We can, as the Christ intimated, beat our swords into plowshares. We can use our hearts, souls, and minds to change society, to join many of us together as one without needing a disaster to unite us. We would no longer need to battle in the halls of Congress. We wouldn’t have to fight so much at the taverns, cafes and dinner tables of America. We could change.

An addendum

You won’t like this.

This will be seen as and called racism and it probably is. But I must say my piece. The situation in the black and much of the Latino communities, as I observe it, is that the relative lack of mass murderers from these communities is due to the fact that their suffering involving gun violence is intimate, up close and personal. It is directed at the individual, the person right there in front of you. Violence here is not an anomaly, it is omnipresent. One need not meticulously plan a bloodbath of the anonymous. Here the pools of blood will be at their feet, and the plan was formed quickly, specific to the grievance. So when those in the public eye conflate murder in these POC communities with mass murder they are terribly wrong. Though the solutions to the violence are similar the essence of the problem is different.

Mea Culpa. Please forgive me if I am wrong about this. I cannot know for certain but I witness. I fully accept a charge of racism for these comments and the mantle of racist. I speak what I feel.

You won’t like this either.

A word about prayers, including candlelight vigils and moments of silence. Prayer is a good thing. Praying for the peaceful repose of the lost souls and healing grace for their friends and families is a good thing. Candlelight vigils and shrines and moments of silence are good things. But they are all also feel good actions. They allow us to feel as though we have acted, we have done something good, something to help. We can do this and then go home and not take any further action, thinking we have done our part. In this, I do not judge. I only bear witness. Think on it yourself.

As powerful as is prayer, for the departed, we must also pray for the strength to do the hard work of changing the nation’s zeitgeist. It will take several generations but we must change the way we do this business. Praising those we call heroes and changing our laws and offering prayers are all good things but they can only save a fraction of the lives we need to.

These things are right things to do but they are not the best things to do. It is not easy to find and choose the best thing over the right thing. Doing the right thing we are so tempted to be satisfied and go home. I am convinced that, for America, the best path to hope out of pain is accepting our own pain and finding our own hope. This will give us the confidence to teach our children well. I believe we all know in our hearts that this path is true.

Let us start on this path together in love.

 

I’ve Had It Up To (Even Higher) Here

Ok, here it is. I have claimed before to have given you both barrels. But this comes from an even deeper place inside me. This is the gatling gun of my consciousness. I may not be able to say much for awhile, after these words. I may need to process things for a time.

As I most often do I have allowed recent events to simmer in my heart and mind before responding to them. They have commingled there with many events from over many years, yielding a stinging stew, too salty with tears, and too bitter with anger. I have reached that place where I must say exactly what is in my heart and mind. In America we are allowed the freedom to speak. What follows is my truth. I won’t allow my fear to let it embarrass me any more.

About recent terror, domestic and international, and the accompanying ignorant responses of all kinds. This is not meant as revealing the specifics of defeating al-Dawla, or racism in America, or transgender revulsion or any individual issue of justice. Those are conversations that must be held. But this is about the essential battle of our time, the battle that encompasses these things.

It is no longer enough to tweet that the friends and families of victims are in our prayers. It is no longer enough to put a translucent french flag over our Facebook profile pics. Or rainbow flag. Or post clever and inspirational quotes over idyllic scenes of beauty. Or admonish each other to think positive thoughts. It is no longer good enough to say that islamophobia and all other xenophobia is wrong. It is unacceptable to analyze, criticize, and then sign off, unaccompanied by any alternative.

However good those things may be, and most are good and worthwhile things, they are not enough. They let us off the hook by allowing us to feel good about ourselves. We talk a good game but those flimsy actions let us avoid the real work of destroying violence as the preferred way of resolving conflict between humans, and between groups of humans. That’s hard work. Sorry to offend but it’s much harder than posting a tweet. As good as many of those previous things are we need to stand, like at Tiannanmen Square, in front of the tank, instead of in the relative safety of the crowd.

We need to act. All the isms must die. All the boundaries between us must fall. If we must fight this war, this war against the ills fostered through ignorance, of all kinds, in all places, we must fight with the weapons of truth, knowledge, power, and love. Truth is knowledge, knowledge is light, light is power, power is existence, existence is life, life is love, love is wo/man, the mental being. Our culture of violence has a genetic component which makes its cycle of brutality powerful. It can only be fought by extra emotional and extra physical means, in other words, by us, with mental weapons of love. A weapon is simply a tool with a particular destructive purpose. But it remains a tool.

The tools of love work through our minds and bodies, operating together as coordinated by the heart. The battle plan begins mentally, in the mind, worked into a tool, truth into knowledge. It is transformed into a weapon and repurposed, in the heart, through power, as a weapon of creative destruction. The weapon answers only to love, destroying ignorance, creating a vacuum into which the collective body of wo/man can manifest an evolved world, where we can live in accord of thought, word, and deed.

To be honest, wishing for world peace is futile. Universal peace is unattainable, at least since Adam and Eve were banned from the garden. But with inner accord we can act truthfully and reach not a compromise, but a synthesis of action that satisfies everyone, if only to the degree that it is acceptable, without residue of rancor.

I’m tired of holding back on explaining this stuff. I have been ashamed of who I am for years. I have been afraid of who I was as well. I have recoiled from my ego’s dominance over me. But the time needs what I can give, so I surrender to the will of the time and speak, openly, and reveal myself. WAKE UP. I repeat, WAKE UP. Wake up and accelerate your evolution by opening your mind to the winds of truth, which fan the flames of love in our hearts.  Which flames rise to burn away the veil that distorts our sight, and which opens the real world to our eyes, which can then see clearly.

Do not run from what you see. You will recognize those others who see with you. Come together and act, by love, with them, throwing away attachment to ego, throwing away false divisions, throwing away the petty desires of self. If you have eyes to see and ears to hear you will heed this message. There are only two directions, forward though evolution and backward by de-evolution. The way past the wall of ignorance is not though violent revolution but through loving re-evolution. We, the evolving, are remembering who we really are and recognizing who our friends and loved ones are as well.

This is “a” way, not “the” way, but a way thats points us to real change. Not bumper sticker change, not one step forward two steps back change. And not the false feeling of change we get from being funneled into an untenable corner, by the apparent power of the moneyed and greedy, who reign over we, the apparently defeated.

Now I must heed my own words, and act. Act to discover my own ugly weakness and transform it into love and self respect. Act to not only hear, but understand the voices of the oppressed, to hear them speaking the word. And the word was with God and the word was God. And following God, a God of all people, we will destroy ignorance wherever it peeks up from behind the facade. We will create a place for the truth of the downtrodden to blossom, revealing to us what we have known heretofore only in dreams.

This new world is not only possible, it has happened before. We are caught in the process of remembering it and awakening to it. It is easy for us to become impatient. But this new, cleaner world’s fruit will ripen. And its fruit’s taste is sweet.

My need to walk my own talk, or more rightly the fear of it, has undoubtedly been what has kept me from talking about this for so long. And held me from walking in enlightened shoes. Many have said God speaks to them. God has never spoken to me. I have simply heard what God has said to the universe. I can’t listen anymore without doing. Forgive me my faults. Brand me if you will a heretic.

But humor me and listen.

I swear there is value in it.