It all began at the beginning, where it always begins. This is the story of war, not the battle of politics but a force of nature, a negative flood, and a plague whose ending seems to only be had in despair. This is a story of victims and victors but none of whom you think would be one or the other.
Humanity as an entity is an odd construct. Sure, we are drawn together by circumstance and situation but more often by pheromones and a chemical soup that activates in our brain. We have very little control over the workings of our bodies. Our minds are merely the synthesis of a rush of uppers and downers and we are at the whim of our genetic code.
In my own body, often I feel like a renter, buying time and waiting for my lease to be up.
People are capable of such amazing craft, such depth of reflection, such great inquiry, but at our core we are apes, and not so complex after all- I mean, certainly complexity is relative to the scale of the universe and we are but stardust.
I write this because the last few months I have watched several very strong, intelligent, educated and independent women around me crumble because of their love for a man. Rest assured, it could have been men and their love for a woman. Cholera is not a sexist disease.
One of these women called me, desperate, lost, at the end, filled with pain, anger, and grief. She sobbed, “Tell me it gets better, and tell me it will end.”
I told her it gets better, I told her it will end.
Then she said, “But, I have never felt like this- I feel like I am dying.” And what I wanted to say was, “Welcome to humanity.” But what I said was, “I know, I know.”
And I really do.
I read an article today about how a school board approved spending $40,000 to hire an external company to monitor students’ public posts on websites like Twitter and Instagram. The company is policing for things such as suicidal tendencies. It was instituted as a reaction after a 15-year-old student jumped to his death from the roof of a school last year.
I have mixed feelings about this. As a teacher, I feel there is something inherently broken with a system where our children feel like they are alone and desperate and unlistened to. I think, “Good, let’s listen in, let’s be proactive, find those kids who need help and intervene! Lets tie up our boots, and get our game face on!”
But perhaps, I’m wrong. Perhaps this is the way humans have always been. Dark times come with being a thinking animal. Humans at the very beginning have battled plagues of depression- look at some of my favorite artists, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, Rothko- all were at war with themselves and lost.
Maybe it is not about policing the 140 character musings of a teen’s already chemically altered consciousness and chasing down the victims. Perhaps it’s more about policing ourselves, and the way we interact with others.
Our proaction needs a little proaction.
If you have read my posts before you will notice a reoccurring theme in my writing. I feel that there is the need for us to go back to the beginning: to be mindful of our interactions with others, to recognize that our words have weight and have the potential to spread a plague of despair. More importantly, that our actions out-weigh those words. Loving-kindness takes thought and consideration and patience. Reaching out to others, even when they have quarantined themselves is difficult, time consuming and tiring. But this is what being human is about.
I am no preacher-man; this theme is only a reminder of my own foibles. It is one of the mirrors that I hold up to myself, and my own inadequacies.
Sometimes, I feel like I am holding up so many mirrors I am blinded by the reflection.
You know the moments I love? When I look outside and for a moment I can’t tell if it is raining or not. When I am parked at a red light and a car starts moving beside me and for just a second I feel like I am rolling backward. When I look at a piece of art and confusion becomes clarity. I love moments of dissonance inside my mind. When I seek to make sense of mystery.
Life is a mystery.
Even in war there is always hope. We hope for love, for friendship, for understanding. We hope the contracts don’t run out on our rent and we will only need a few new coats of paint to be fresh again. We hope for connection and to make a difference in the short time we have here. And we hope for others too. We hope for those around us to be happy and successful. We hope for children, for parents, for siblings, for friends. Even at war, we hope.
So to those of you at war, victory is imminent. It does get better, and it does end.
News Article from http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Social-Media-Monitoring-Program-Glendale-Unified-School-District--221244271.html
Photo Credit: Tosca Killoran- taken at Omaha Beach, France