Resist- II

Since about October, I have struggled a little with balancing our new ‘reality’ with some of my Buddhist way of thinking. “Things are happening as they should and I need not interfere” is kind of the gist I came away with during my studies.  In fact I spend quite a bit of time with my therapist discussing that balance between life, and a fulfilling life.  You know, the whole Buddhist “root of all my trouble is wanting” idea.  Yet I want things to change.  So much.  So much more every day.

I want Trump–No.  Not impeached.  No, poor man is sick.  I’d like him put in a small hospital room for the rest of his life.  A soft room with bars and bullet-proof glass on the windows, the gentle light of a tv as it plays The Apprentice on endless loops.  I’m all for hiring the handicapped, but the man is absolutely certifiably delusional.

I know a little about delusional from personal experience.  I know he truly believes what he says.  I know he doesn’t think we’re stupid.  He doesn’t think of us at all.   He truly believes he is entitled to anything or anyone any time he wants.  He believes it when he says he thinks he’s doing a swell job, and accomplished so much in so little time.  His claims of being prosecuted.  The ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ fit in perfectly in the life and mind of the delusional.  You must buy into his delusion, or you are the enemy.

His brief press conference of yesterday has only hardened my resolve to be involved.  He thinks he’s a 5 year old and can stomp all over your sand castle if he wants, just because it was better than his.  He is still that spoiled, confused child.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a lot of sympathy, but just thinking about him that way makes me a little less angry, but a lot more scared.

I want us to get rid of Trump (and the rest of his swamp creatures if at all possible) as soon as possible.  It becomes obviously more urgent every day.  You did see at least some of his so-called press conference?  And still, there is this niggling feeling that I maybe shouldn’t interfere.  Shouldn’t be involved.  Maybe I’m just trying to find an excuse to stay in my own corner, complain and pass along worrisome memes.  It’s much easier not be involved.

Then today I read this article out of the Huffington Post:  They posed this question:

What can Zen Buddhism teach us about the art of effective activism in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency?

to  Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen master who has been a social and environmental activist for since his early days protesting the Vietnamese War.    This article addresses the issue of balancing Buddhist thinking with activism.

The article quotes from his book At Home in the World where he says:

“Mindfulness must be engaged.  Once we see that something needs to be done, we must take action. Seeing and action go together. Otherwise, what is the point in seeing?”

“Nonviolence is not a set of techniques that you can learn with your intellect,” he goes on to say. “Nonviolent action arises from the compassion, lucidity and understanding you have within.”

 

This article finally set to rest my qualms over my level of involvement.  And I hope I can bring his teachings of non-violent protests with me.  I hope we all can.  So teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, arm yourselves with the knowledge of peaceful protest and let’s get to work!

 

NAMI

The National Association for Mental Illness is having an end of the year fund drive.  I normally don’t do this, but with Trump coming into office who knows what will happen to people who have mental health needs. It’s very possible the helplines currently out there will be cut or entangled.

Back in October 2016 (read article here) Trump was speaking to a group of veterans and commented on those with mental illness.  He stood there in front of soldiers with PTSD, those with depression, or those knew someone who committed suicide, and others who may have attempted, and called them weak.  “They can’t handle it,”  he said.  If he doesn’t even understand the basics of humanity and psychology, do you really think he will commit funding to the VA for improved care?

I don’t think he will.  I think he is going to sit in the White House and perpetuate myths and misinformation about depression, PTSD and other issues faced by returning vets.  He expects that a ‘strong’ person can beat their depression.  Like it’s a heavy bag, and punching it every day will make it go away.  It doesn’t work like that.  There’s medication and therapy.  Finding the right doctor and getting the right meds takes time and effort.  Often more effort to find help than to give in.

The man hasn’t an ounce of empathy in his body, do you think he knows how to help vets and others with mental illness beat the stigma?  No.  Obviously, Trump is going to re-introduce the myth that those with depression are just ‘weak’.  That soldiers who come back from combat with PTSD, as being “unable to handle it.”  What kind of assistance is he going to ensure the community continues to destroy the stigma and myths around mental illness.  We need to stand by NAMI, the VA and other support groups in making sure people have adequate access to mental health care.

Over the past 20 years, deaths related to substance abuse and mental illness have increased by over 1,000 percent in some areas.

This GIF Sums Up The Impact Of Addiction And Mental Illness On America  (click on graphic):

.  hp-gif

For the complete article:  Huffington Post

Here’s Mayim Bialik  making the plea for NAMI.

Thanks for reading.

Pets

DSC08794

Chance, today

We love our pets.  They are members of the family and when we are away from them, we miss them.  Right now we are facing the end of one of our dogs’ lives.  Chance has been a difficult dog.  He has always had food aggression issues, which once ended up with my receiving a serious bite.   We had to work very hard with him to overcome his worst aggressive traits.  We never cured him of his food issues, however, but learned to live with them.

He was not well socialized with other people or dogs, as most of his life we lived in the boonies with only four neighbors.  When we moved four years ago though, he seemed fairly well adjusted.  He didn’t bark or growl at anyone on the streets, only if they tried to come into the house were they in any danger.  We just didn’t know if Chance would bite.  He never did though (except me).  If anything, he has been an excellent guard dog.  Which at the time we got him, was pretty much what we needed, since our closest neighbor was generally considered a thief.  Chance hated that guy.  Any time he came near the house it was all we could do to keep control of the dog.  In his prime he was about 65 pounds of lab/boxer, with some feral dog in there somewhere.

But Chance is now 11 years old and very sick.  We took him to the vet yesterday and found out just how sick.  They think he has some kind of cancer causing internal bleeding.  He’s filled with blood, and is making more at an accelerated pace.  We are faced with the dreaded decision: when to put him out of his misery.  I think we should do something this week.  My husband wants to wait till after the holidays.  I think that would be cruel, and doubt he will make it any way.  Unfortunately, the family is not quite ready to say good bye and it seems as it is up to me to convince them that ending Chance’s misery should be done sooner rather than later.

Lizzie, my mini-pin Chihuahua

Lizzie, my mini-pin Chihuahua

While I am unhappy with having to make such a choice, I am comfortable in my conviction that we will be doing Chance a disservice if we don’t euthanize.  I often wonder how this can be.  I was the same way the last two dogs when we had to chose to end their lives.  Our first dog had cancer and the answer as to when was pretty clear and we all agreed as a family the time was right.  For our second dog, the sweetest lab/rottie ever, Husband was gone visiting friends and not due back for several days.  So I was home alone when the time came and I handled it by myself.

Sometimes I think I don’t have the same level of love and caring for them as the rest of my family, as I can disconnect heartfrom my feelings of pain at their passing.  Husband has been in tears for the past three days, and is not ready to make a decision.  Son is hopeful that with care we can prolong his life until after the holidays.  It’s only two weeks, but I don’t think we should wait past this weekend.  I hate it when we are not on the same page.

We love our pets.  They are family.  But Chance is breathing rapidly and shallowly due to all the liquid around and in his lungs.  His poor heart is struggling, and I so want to see that end for him.  Why does it seem easier for me to do than the rest of my family?  Is it a gender thing?  I know I’m very pragmatic, and I feel sometimes I am quite heartless.  I don’t know if it’s just me, or trait females share.  I felt nothing when I found out about my dad’s death.  I still don’t.  It bothers me that I don’t seem to feel as deeply as other people, but I try to accept that this is the way I am.

So, it will be a long tough weekend here, and it will make going to the shelter even more difficult, where I will be surrounded by healthy dogs needing a home and wanting desperately to adopt one right away.  Husband swears he’ll never have another dog, but I don’t believe him.  We miss our dogs still, just as he still misses his dad, gone more than 40 years.  We never “get over” death of a family member.  We just grow used to not seeing that person/pet and eventually the pain gets scarred over and occasionally forgotten.

Empathy

I’m sure by now nearly everyone has seen the photo of the man, Ke Suk Han, just before he is killed by an oncoming subway train.  I’m sure too, many have condemned the photographer for taking the photo instead of helping the man.  If you haven’t, I won’t post it here, but google “doomed subway” and you’ll find it.

I don’t really understand the mindset of a news photographer, but his job is to record, not intervene.  I believe the photographer took the photo instinctively.  It’s what he’s trained to do; to photograph news.  As disturbing as that is, think of many iconic photos, Pulitzer Prize winning photos that have been just as horrifying.  I’m not saying this photographer snapped a Pulitzer-worthy shot.  I’m not here to judge.  I’m just saying the photographer is there to record events.  That is what he did.  If you condemn the man, you condemn all news photographers for providing an accurate historic record.  That said, I don’t understand how any person can do that.

LA Times Morgue Photo

It happened during the LA Riots of 1992, camera men just kept recording the beating of Reginald Denny by an angry mob.  I’d never seen anything so brutal, when someone lifted a cinder block, I turned away, certain I just saw the last moments of a man’s life (he lived, but is very impaired by his injuries).  I can remember screaming at my television telling the cameraman to do something.   How could he just watch this?!  I wanted him to be a hero.  I wanted him to get into the faces of the men, show them that he was recording them, knock them over the head with his camera, anything to make them stop beating the poor man.  But he did nothing.  It was up to the police, who while slow in arriving are trained to handle such emergencies.  In the end, we have an historic record of peoples actions, and as in this case, can be used to identify the perpetrators of the beating and send them to prison.

My question isn’t why did R. Umar Abbasi take a photo instead of helping the man.  My question is where was everyone else?  It’s my understanding that subway platforms are swimming with people, yet there is no one near the man in the photo.  There is no one for probably 20 feet in one direction.  From the angle of the photo, it appears the photographer might have been the only one near enough to see what happened, but I’m betting money that he was not alone on the platform.  Why didn’t any0ne attempt to pull the man to safety?  I’ve only heard the photographer defend himself.  I haven’t heard anything from any other bystanders as to why no one else stepped up to aid the poor man.

I guess I’m saying, I think I would have acted differently. ( I’m probably not alone in thinking that.)  I think I would have tried to help Mr. Han.  All 5’2″ of me, trying to pull him up; most likely ending up in the pit with him.

In 1992 I wanted that cameraman to jump into a brawling mob of 5 large angry men.  I wanted him to act the way I think I would have.  There were hundreds of people around the Denny beating.  Though I watched only seconds, I don’t remember anyone stepping up to try and stop it.

We don’t want to see the ugly reality of life in our living rooms or shouted from the front page of newspapers.  At least I don’t, that’s why I do not actively watch TV News, I haven’t held a newspaper in ages.  I don’t want to see another Reginald Denny and watch people behave so like Neanderthals.  I don’t want to know much about that part of life.  Most of us don’t.  I feel helpless and that’s a terrible feeling.  I am just as unable to help Denny in 1992 as I am Ke Suk Han in 2012.  I believe we are all hoping that someone would have at least tried to help us had we been in that position.   We want a hero to step up.

There are very few heroes and the world is a dangerous place.  Live in the moment.