EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Peace/Pace/Shalom/Salam/Pax/Paix/Paz

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2014 at 3:04 am

To be clear this post is about war, and my opinion on war. Chances are pretty large that my views run counter to a lot of other views, so there’s that.

In particular, the violence in Israel and Palestine weighs heavily on my conscience. I believe, in a completely sincere neo-hippie Christian way, that I am–that we all are–somehow linked together on this earth. I do not mean linked in an X-Men sort of way. Rather, I mean that responsibility (in varying degrees) goes out to each of us humans.

Perhaps my conscience is pricked because, in my opinion, the most horrible atrocities in human history happen because individual humans choose to ignore violence visited upon groups of other humans: the Middle Passage and the African diaspora; Stalin’s violence against the Jewish people of Russia; Hitler’s violence against the Jewish people of Germany and surrounding areas; the civil war in Rwanda. And, those just name a few of the most awful moments in human history. We turned our backs. We said that others would find a way to end the violence. There had to be a better way.

So, I say: even one human casualty is one too many. In looking back at those horrible moments, I so often wonder where are the compassionate people? Perhaps compassionate people don’t make history.

Perhaps my conscience is pricked because I am a Christian. Some might even call me an evangelical Christian who had a fairly conservative upbringing. So, I know that many Christians believe that what is happening now in Israel and Palestine is a predestined part of eschatological prophecy. Translation: the world is ending; Jesus is coming back; and, this violence is how one can tell.

So, I say: If God is God, then I am not. I do not rejoice in the deaths of men, women, and children. No one knows the hour or manner of Christ’s return, but until that hour: I believe that I am commanded to love, to show compassion, and to be truthful. Jesus is not an excuse for inaction.

One human casualty is one too many.

Perhaps my conscience is pricked because I am American. Born and raised. Working class. Never really wanted for any essential need of life. I’m not rushing over to Jerusalem or to Gaza right now to lend a hand. I’m sitting here, behind my iPad typing away and hoping not to offend the many people I respect, like, and admire who are ardently for one side or the other.

So, I say: I have the unearned luxury of being able to believe that peace is a possibility. I was born into a world that allows me to cloak myself in the hope–no, knowledge–that peace is an end-goal. I have never experienced war first hand, and so I have the room to suppose that there is a way to avoid war. Still, though, that’s what I believe.

One human casualty is one too many.

Perhaps my conscience is pricked because I used to be a teacher. Israeli children AND Palestinian children (did I mention that, in the vein of everything else, I believe that children are LITERALLY our future?) deserve to have schools. They deserve to have soccer games. They deserve to be able to laugh and play outside. They deserve access to healthcare. They deserve access to fresh food. They deserve to grow up in a world where they aren’t constantly fearful of enemies. There is something supremely, darkly, insidiously wrong with the fact so many Israeli and Palestinian children–Palestinian children in particular, because of the number of casualties–know so much more about death and dying than I would ever want to know.

So, I say: I will continue to hold on to Peace as a possibility and as a solution. The odd (sad) thing is that I am just now realizing that I am for peace and all of the processes and expenditures and hard work that it takes to get there. I am opposed to anything and anyone that weighs one human life against another and finds one lacking in value. I am opposed to the idea that violence is the way to peace. I am opposed to the idea that I should set my mind against an entire nation of individuals. I am opposed to the idea that I should only expect violence from human beings–that violence is, then, a default setting for humanity.

I am for Peace. I stand with those who work for Peace. One human casualty is one too many.

The Dark Glass

In Depression and Mental Health, Examining my tears #ExMT, Uncategorized, Using my words for good #UMFWG on July 14, 2014 at 3:44 am

Who do I turn to? It’s a crushing weight, but then again…it is not actually a crushing weight. Is it? I recognize that I do not have the proper perspective to judge, but the weight on my chest and confusion in my mind feel so crushing. Yet, it is rather imaginary. Isn’t it? After all, my problems–my issues–are not of a truly substantial nature. I’m not facing a lack of food, a lack of shelter, poor health–or any of those things.

But, still, this tinted glass wall sometimes drops down between me and everything else. I can’t turn around and go back. No, I have spent so much time working my way forward and I know what sadness and struggles are behind me. Somehow, though, I cannot move forward. I can see out. I can see, dimly through the darkened glass, that things are better than I think they are and that I can be better. I just can’t get there at that very moment.

Do I bang against the glass again and again, hoping that it will shatter? Do I try to tunnel underneath? Do I just sit there and hope that it will be lifted as suddenly and mysteriously as it dropped? Or, do I pretend that the wall is not there, and that the barrier does not exist, and that (even though it does exist) I don’t care?

And, who wants to hear my tangled metaphors of glass and weights? Who wants to hear all of that again–because it recurs. It recurs. That is the most shameful thing of all. No matter how resilient I was last time, I will have to–and, I will be able to–be as resilient again. That’s the bottom line. There is no choice. I can, I will, I must. No matter how heavy the weight on my chest, I can, I will, I must take another breath. No matter how dark and how thick that glass, I can, I will, I must press my forehead against it and wait for it to lift or crack or shatter.

I want so badly to be able to exercise my way out of it; to think my way out of it; to faith my way out of it; to pray my way out of it; to laugh my way out of it; to talk my out of it; to do anything at all to get out of it. But, those things are not permanent fixes. Maybe there is no permanent fix; maybe there is, and I have not found that fix yet. So, I fake it. I smile and laugh and eat and do without really feeling anything except the shame of having to fake the whole thing again. I hold out hope that at some point, a switch will flip and it will change from a performance to me being genuine.

Who can I really face while carrying that shame again? So, I hide. I don’t have to explain. But, eventually, I begin to wonder if anyone notices that I am hiding. Then, I begin to believe that it’s just easier if I hide. I can repeat the struggle again without disturbing anyone. My struggles for breath and my head-banging against the glass will not distract anyone else. But, mostly, I just don’t want anyone to see. I don’t want to be judged too emotional or incompetent or hysterical or crazy. I do not talk about those minutes, days, weeks behind the glass. I’m strong, smart, practiced enough to get by without talking about the hours behind the darkened glass.

I have a gift that many others who deal with the weight, the confusion, and darkness of depression do not have: I have hope. Even the thinnest scrap of hope has the instructions on how to make it to the next minute. And, that is what I do. I live one minute to the next, knowing those minutes will turn into an hour, and those hours will turn into one day. It is not about tomorrow being better; it is about making it into the next minute with another scrap of hope and with the belief that the glass will lift.

If I think too far ahead, I (somehow by some sort of mental sleight of hand) will be reminded of losses and that leads to regret, guilt, and shame. But, when I live from one minute to the next, making it the way I am, making it as who I am, and making it with the bare essentials of life is possible. In that minute, I am enough. When I think too far ahead, I am not enough. I am inadequate. I am weak. I am stupid. When I think too far ahead, I accept the dark glass as the best thing.