Tag Archives: violence

We Are Living In The Lord Of The Flies

12 Aug

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I was a sophomore in high school when I read William Golding’s novel “The Lord Of The Flies.” I hated it because it so accurately reflected the evil woven into human DNA. I was horrified and repulsed by the story. To me it wasn’t fiction because the author was revealing universal truths about humans’ propensity toward evil.

The plot depicts a group of British school boys marooned on an uninhabited island. The book takes place during an unspecified nuclear war and chronicles the boys’ immediate plummet into savage behavior and anarchy. Chaos and death ensue as the boys posture over who is in charge and how they are to have “fun”.

As I read accounts of white supremacists rallying in Virginia, I realize, we’re here. We’re living in the surreal reality that is the human condition. I am just as disturbed as I was when I was a sophomore in high school. Have we not learned anything from history or literature?

 

A Matter of Life and Death

6 Nov

I remember the first time I made a truly conscious decision to keep my mouth shut. I was standing in the kitchen with my father when I was about 16 years old. I was never a disrespectful kid yet I had said something one hundred percent truthful. My dad was under the influence of a substance and although he had never been a violent man, I took one look at his face and my intuition told me to shut up. I stood in disbelief and fear as I realized that the man who had so beautifully raised me to think critically no longer wanted to hear my thoughts. In fact, there was no tolerance for them if they differed from his.

It was one of the most painful truths of my life and it took me years and his death to fully metabolize it. It also took me years of looking up to powerful men in admiration before I realized I radiated that same power. All I had to do was learn how to access and express it.

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All of us, regardless of gender are susceptible to such an experience, yet I think there is something unique in the female experience that makes us more vulnerable to silencing our truths over time. Finding our voice again requires the arduous journey of the salmon as we make our way home.

The other day I saw someone who has known me for a long time and I said to him, “You know, I don’t know why but actualizing my creativity has been more important to me than anything else in my life. It’s been like a matter of life and death.” Later that night, reflecting on this, it hit me. Expression has been a matter of life and death. I had sensed the potential for conflict and violence in that encounter with my father and it didn’t matter whether or not it had transpired. For many women around the world, speaking up for their needs and rights leads to abuse and in some situations, death. Likewise, not using one’s gifts creates its own form of spiritual and psychological death.

Yes, love and child bearing are beautiful aspects of femininity but before all else, it was more important to me that I verbalize my truth before pursuing these. And I will devote the rest of my life to helping women and men find theirs’. But in-between time, I will be shouting my voice from the rooftops. I want my “Yes!” and my “No!” and all the vocalizations in-between.

They say when Sleeping Beauty finally wakes up, she is almost fifty years old. No matter. Nothing is better than being awake and alive.

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What Would Jesus Pack?

4 Feb

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I have disliked guns ever since Bambi’s mother was shot. I was too young to make the connection that the meat I ate each night at dinner involved killing an animal and that if I really didn’t believe in hunting, I shouldn’t eat meat. So please know that just because I dislike guns, I’m not implying that we all go vegetarian, or that we should never own or shoot a gun.

Owning assault weapons is another matter though. I don’t see it as a right to own these anymore than it is for individual citizens to own anthrax or nuclear missiles. We regulate the latter; why not the former?

Friends of mine in the D.C. area marched on Washington for gun control recently. Someone snapped this photo of a woman’s sign. If a picture says a thousand words, this one speaks volumes for Jesus, although a revolutionary, never resorted to violence. He didn’t say, “Let’s stock pile our weapons and be on guard just in case the Pharisees want to take us out.”

I am not saying that we should never engage in physical self-defense but if the Son of Man never did, why in the world do we glorify guns so much? Why do we downplay their enormous destructive power and instead make it seem hip and cool to decimate a crowd, whether in a movie or in real life? And why are guns thought of as seductive as sex, often equating the two and their power together?

Gun advocates claim that people kill; not guns. And this is true. Yet guns are instruments of killing and they allow individuals to get the job done with extreme efficiency. Why then have they become idols? What concerns me about high capacity guns is that we have become an impulsive and entitled society. This means that people are more quick to anger and hurting others when things don’t go their way. And guns facilitate that impulsivity and entitlement with little time for stop, listen and think.

We blame the mentally ill for the majority of gun violence in this country and yet only 4% of homicides are attributed to those with mental illness. Most violence comes from someone with a temper, a vendetta, entitlement, or evil.

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This letter was a plea from Gabby Giffords, the senator shot at a political rally in Arizona. She isn’t asking that we ban all guns and become pacifists. But she is asking that we stop devaluing life by claiming it is a right to have weapons of mass destruction with little to no regulation. And I ask that we stop thinking violence is so damn sexy and cool or just innocuous. It’s not.