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!

 

Teach Your Children Well

I’ve been thinking about self-image lately.  Mine has changed dramatically over the last year.  I had such a poor way of looking at myself and my world, never seeing the endless possibilities.  Thinking only of the negative in my life.  Looking in the mirror and seeing only the flaws.  Never realizing I actually had the power to do whatever I wanted to.  I am not alone in this poor self-image.  So why is it so rampant? Why do so many of us have this pessimistic outlook?  Is it innate?  Are we born into it?  Or is it something we learn along the way?

DSC09056I think self-image and acceptance of reality is one of the most important problems facing humans right now.  If you don’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else?  Consider that on a global scale.  Hating yourself leads you to hate others.  Then add politics and the media and it’s no wonder the world is a mess.

Our commercials tell us how drinking Dos Equis will make you a suave, lady magnet.  That if you buy a Lexus everyone will love and envy you.  The commercial convinces us that if we drive that car, we would actually enjoy our daily 2 hr commute.  And we believe it all on some sub-conscious level.  Why?  We buy a better car, new clothes, bigger house thinking it will make us happier.

Many of our religions (I’ll use Catholicism, since I was raised with that) like to beaheartt us down telling us that even before we a born, we are sinful.  We go to church looking for solace, but so many times I came home from church wondering why, if god was so good and perfect, we were so terribly flawed and sinful just for living.  I know that perception had an impact on my psyche.  I imagine that sort of preaching week after week would affect others similarly.

Every day we are bombarded by things that make us feel bad about ourselves.  I don’t drink Dos Equis, therefore I am a loser.  I don’t drive a Lexus, therefore I am a loser.  The media shows us only “perfect” people, when such people do not exist.  Have you seen this video? (http://www.idesigntimes.com/articles/8356/20131030/model-photoshop-gifs-video-shocking-watch-disturbing.htm.)  It’s no wonder we think we’re ugly.  And why is the ‘ideal’ thin, blond and blue eyed?  It implies that people with dark hair, eyes and skin are less attractive.  Why is that?  I don’t think we’ve seen real people on TV or in magazines since the early ’70s.  Consider the American TV show “All in the Family”.  I don’t believe any of those actors would be cast in that show.  Imagine George Clooney as Archie Bunker.  The four who made that show what it was were certainly not as pretty as the people on TV today.  When’s the last time you saw a real person on TV?  Even when the script calls for a less than perfect-looking character, they take Handsome Actor and ugly him up with makeup.  Real people aren’t in the media, unless it’s news.  That’s when we see real people, including those who are not white and blond.  Mostly those who are not light skinned.  What is that showing our children?.

happyThe only way I was able to crawl out of my dark box of self-despisement was through psychotherapy.  Many don’t have that opportunity.  So many others see no reason to change.  Many, like me, didn’t know you could change.  So self-image is definitely learned and we can control it.  Good information.  Information I could’ve used a long time ago.  But we all grow at our own pace.

With all the media outlets bombarding us daily to reinforce the idea that you’re ugly, or those people are bad, I need to lose weight, I need a better car, a better job, a bigger house.  How do we battle the lies?  Unfortunately, many of us can’t. They become obsessed with being ‘good looking’ and undergo plastic surgery.  Did they give in to the hype because they are weak or stupid?  Do they turn to surgery because they are too lazy to exercise?

I try not to judge those who indulge in plastic surgery.  I also try not to pity them.  I have a great deal of appreciation for heavy individuals, people who are judged by so many, many times each day.  I have understanding (as much as I can) for those who are handicapped, or different from the ‘average’ in some way.  I try to treat everyone the same; with kindness and respect.  Something all of us deserve.religion

Each of us has our own path, and each of us bump into each other for reasons only fate knows. People judge and buy into media hype, think following the Kardashians is an important part of their life.  I wish though that people could grow fast enough to stop hating each other before the Third World War.  Perhaps we need to teach Love of Self to our children along with math and science.

November Peace Post

I saw something on television last night where they talked with a lawyer who is now getting ready to take some of the men from Guantanamo to trial.  AFTER 12 YEARS.  These men were incarcerated at the beginning of Bush’s illegal war on Iraq.  They have been held, without charge, and without hope for twelve years. forpeace6

I don’t see these men (I assume they are all men) as my enemy.  I see them as unfortunately mislead people.  How to make peace with someone jailed, without charges lodged against them, for twelve years.  An unthinkable situation for an American to consider.  Since I’ve been taught since grade school, you are innocent until proven guilty, and are entitled to know the charges against you, as well as a speedy and fair trial.

None of this was done for these men.  If they weren’t the enemy of the US, they are now, and why not?  If you locked me up in prison in Iraq, I might expect to be treated badly, not charged, and kept alone with my anger for 12 years.  I think I would grow to hate Iraq and all it’s people.  Perhaps rightly so.

Peace RevolutionI don’t know why these men were arrested.  I don’t know the charges against them.  I don’t know how they have been treated, whether it was with kindness and compassion or a deep disregarding hatred, or simply disinterest on the part of their jailers.

To these men, I apologize on behalf of my derelict government.  What has been done to them should not have been done to anyone arrested in America.  It goes against all our basic principles of law.  I do not understand why this has happened, and I am sure some of them are just as confused.  If they weren’t an enemy of America before, they are very likely now to be very hateful to the US people.  And I can’t blame them.

No one in the US (that I know of) has been in an uproar for the release or trial of these individuals, since they were first arrested.  I don’t know where they came from, or what their affiliation to Al Queda might be.  I’m sure our government doesn’t know either.  Innocent until proven guilty…then why are they still in jail?  I believe something was said that since these men were considered “war criminals” they could be held indefinitely without charge.  A true atrocity of American Justice.  And I for one am ashamed for my country.

Again I apologize to these men and say to them:  I am not your enemy.  I will never be your enemy.  How can I hate you?  I don’t know you, nor you me.  Do you hate me?  We could have a lot in common.  We could be friends in other circumstances.  Do you like to read?  I love to read and could recommend many books to you, some very funny and odd, and others more serious and sad.  Some of these books have obvious messages about which we could have long discussions.religion

Perhaps it is our religion that keeps us separate.  What sort of good does that do: keeping people away from each other, hating and fearing what we do not understand.  I do not know much about your (assumed) religious affiliation, but I am an Atheist and do not understand the need to kill for a god you cannot see, touch or hear.  I do understand that others do not feel the same, however.  Even so, could we not put aside our religious differences and be friends?  I have been friends with many devoutly religious people, and even though I do not understand their need for god, I accept it, and I hope they accept my beliefs as well.

Speak to me, not in anger, but to help me understand your point of view.  If only people would talk before they started shooting, the world would be a much better place, don’t you agree?

I wish these men a fair and speedy trial (at long last).  I hope it is fair.

Know this though, I am not your enemy.  I am no one’s enemy.  For without enemies how could we ever have war?

For Peace

I’ve been trying to follow the suggestion of the “Bloggers for Peace” and write something about peace each month.  I’m not very consistent yet, but, like everything else, I’m working on it.

This month we are asked to describe our Peaceful world.  I have trouble imagining a peace-filled world.  Since it is so far beyond the realm of reality, and touches on fantasy.  So, my fantasy of a peaceful world is:

Filled with people who know they are no better than anyone else.photo (1)

Filled with people with compassion.

Filled with people full of love.

A world of kindness.

A world where people care about strangers.

Sounds like the WordPress family!

Because that is what we have here on WordPress.  If we can be kind and gentle and supportive of virtual strangers online, why can’t we do that in person with everyone we meet?

I know those of us bloggers here have grand ideas for a beautiful world.  Each of us trying their best, trying to be kind, understanding, and happy.  We have a good start here.  Can we bring this gentleness and goodness to the entire world?  I’d like to think so.  I’d like to hope so.

But in the darkness of midnight, in the depths of depression, pondering the news about the latest war, I doubt. Man has been on this planet many years and history is full of war and hatred.  It seems an integral part of being human, unfortunately.  While I hope for peace, meditate on peace, and try to live a peaceful life, not everyone has evolved with similar interests.  There are people born into a family of hatred.  Others find hatred along the way.  Some even spread more hatred in the world.

forpeace6I will continue to hope for peace, but know it is truly not possible, not soon anyway.  I think we will have to evolve much more before we can all accept everyone for who they are, not who we would like them to be.

I would like people to be kind, and caring.  I would love to hear more stories of people being kind to each other instead of killing each other.  I would like a world without strife.  Without hate.  Without fear of violence.  A world of tolerance and understanding.  I would like a world of peace, but the only place I can have peace is within myself, and even that can be a battle.

Bad Dreams – A Letter to My Mother

One of the side effects of Abilify can be unusual dreams.  I am certainly having those..when I sleep at all. (It also can cause insomnia.)  The worst part is while I can’t remember anything about the dreams after a moment or two, the feelings seem to stay with me.  Last night I had an angry and depressing dream.  Then this morning I read a disturbing blog post from a dear sweet woman who is under severe stress and heartbreak.  These things have sort of hit me hard and I feel I need to dispose of some of my guilt and heartbreak.

What follows is a letter to my mother.  You don’t have to read it.  I am selfishly writing this to (hopefully) ease my (misplaced?) guilt.

Dear Momma,

This letter has long been on my mind and I write it only to soothe my own pain and perhaps give you some much needed understanding of me, your sixth born.

As I child I felt I didn’t belong, that I was different from the rest of us kids.  I never understood where that feeling came from completely, but it morphed into a deep seated feeling of being unloved and unwanted.  I was never just me.  I was one of the “little ones” or one of the girls, or one of the kids.  Never an individual with individual needs that never felt met. 

When R wrote her letter to the family back in 1988 it devastated the whole family, including me.  The thing that disturbed me the most was how fast the family turned against her.  I felt certain then, that if the entire family could turn away from her when she obviously was (and still is) delusional.  I understood very quickly that she was receiving terrible therapy, but I also realized she believed what she said.  It hurt me that I never saw anyone reach out to her in anything other than anger.  And anger was received back, which propelled her more deeply into believing what her therapists lead her to believe.

I recently got in touch with her and hoped for a beautiful reunion.  Our first meeting after 20 years was filled with tears and smiles, and then immediately turned into a therapy session about “how much I remembered” about our childhood.  Of course I knew the vast majority of things she believed were recalled memories were nothing more than illusions, bad dreams, bad therapy and a desire to set herself apart from the rest of us.  I tried to push her questions aside saying I didn’t remember anything and didn’t want to. 

She fully still believes all the horrible things she accused you of.  I never did and still don’t.  I know you and daddy did your best to be good parents, just as I hope I have been a good parent.  Kids don’t come with manuals and surrounded by all these different kids needing different things I imagine was terribly hard on you.  Of course it took me this long to realize all of this, but the initial reaction from the rest of my family–the anger toward R–disturbed me more than her letter.  She was the one who told me Daddy had died.  I, of course, did not know, though I had tried to reach out to him shortly before that through email.  When I didn’t receive any support of my current situation from him, it just reinforced the feeling of his not caring about me or my life.   

Did you even know I contacted him?  Sent him photos of your great grandson?  That I was diagnosed with MS?  Did he share that with you?  I tend to think not since he was in his own pain and suffering too great to think too much about me.  Of course he mentioned he was ill, but as he didn’t seem to care about me and my life and asked no questions, I was not inclined to continue the contact, but I was trying.

Did anyone even try to contact me?  I think not.  Did anyone even know that he had my email address at the time of his death?  Again, I figure no one did.  To be omitted from the obituary was, I am sure, Daddy’s request and A honored that (I assume A was the one who wrote it).  I found it unsurprising to be omitted as I knew how Daddy was, but that didn’t make it hurt less.  Instead it again reinforced the sense of never belonging in the family and never feeling wanted or loved.

When that sense of uncaring was passed along to my son, I was angry.  How can you care so little for my child while raving about P’s boy, and how smart he was, how clever, such an exceptional child.  My son was just as exceptional but you never asked about him, never called him on a weekend just to say hi and see how his week went.  The fact that you never made any effort to bond with him hurt me more than you probably realize.  My son also felt your lack of concern or care or love, even from a very young age.  When that feeling was felt by my son, I could not forgive you.

I think I know now that I was loved, but you were too tired or depressed or distracted to show it to me in the way I needed. I think you also cared about my family, but as Daddy never approved of my husband and all I ever heard was criticism over the length of his hair it was less painful not to be in touch.   When you moved to AZ and expected me to take the place of all the rest of the kids, it was too much for me.  I had a life that you had not been a part of for 15 years and suddenly Daddy was calling asking us to visit every weekend.  T worked every Saturday and Sunday was our time.  Daddy’s insistent calls only stressed me out.  Money was tight, and our car was old, we had had our home foreclosed and had to file bankruptcy, and all Daddy wanted was my time.  He never showed he cared about how I felt or what I might want or need.  It was easier for me to just leave the state than face his constant demands and criticisms.

I realize now that Daddy couldn’t act any other way, and neither could you.  At the time you were stuck the way you were and I saw no way to change our dynamic so when we moved back to CA I stopped all contact with everyone though it hurt me everyday to feel so alone.  And when T had an affair, I had no one to support me.  No family to turn to for comfort.  I did it alone with a therapist.  A therapist, when what I wanted and needed was a Mom.

I am truly sorry things have worked out the way they did.  I see no way to ever rectify the situation. I still feel neither you nor my siblings care to be in touch with me now any more than they or you did 20 years ago.  It still hurts me and haunts me.  It has not helped me in my life or my dealings with others.  I will always have a broken heart and a deep black empty hole where family, or the illusion of family, once dwelled.

I wish you nothing but peace and happiness with your family.  I hope you have recovered fully from Daddy’s death and hope your health is good.  I wish things might have been different, but that was all in the past and I can’t change it now. 

I don’t know if this has made me feel any better, but I hope it will, and maybe, just maybe it will help someone else.