Wonder and Woe

Soapbox LogoI am caught between wonder and woe; nearly every single day, these warring emotions capture me and tangle me up. As I scroll through social media, the various news media I regularly read and television news, there are days I am simply unable to process the entirety of our national tragedy. I am seized by the images of where we are as a nation and as a people. As I said, I am stuck between wonder and woe.

Woe, what is it really? How to describe woe, I don’t use the word lightly or simply for effect. The word is one that describes profound sadness, grief or distress. Is this what I feel when I scroll through all my sources of information each day? Do I sink into a miasma of distress at the state of our union, the answer is yes I do more often than not. My grief at what is lost is deep and sits on my heart with great weight. All that came before this moment in time seems to have been for nothing, though I know this isn’t the truth; it is how it feels right now.

Woe, as if an assassin was sneaking in and burying a stiletto in my spirit. It is impossible to avoid the ugly. From the foolishness of elected officials placing dollars over citizen lives to the citizens practicing their 2nd Amendment Rights without a care in the world for their or anyone else’s life. While most of us watch in awe at the sacrifices of first Health care workers stand in the street as a counter-protest to those demanding the stay-at-home order be lifted in Denverresponders and medical care providers, some would stand before them and scream they are the problem; they are part of the conspiracy to destroy the nation and their right to a haircut. I am brought to my knees; I am terrified, sickened and heartbroken by the horrifying examples of heartlessness demonstrated in the halls of power and the streets of our cities.

Woe is all I can feel some days Hell most days. Where once we had giants now, we have simple boors, villains who were lucky enough to align themselves with the party du jour and take advantage of a corrupt system. We are in a feedback loop of massive proportions, one where we are the energy that feeds the terrible and keeps it cycling. We, the people, we have created the monster by turning our heads, tying on our blinders and not standing up to the corruption so blatantly before us. Now we are paying the price for our disinterest with a POTUS of massive ignorance, massive ego surrounded by obsequious toadies willing to say and do anything, including let us die to feed themselves and their need for ‘more‘.

Wonder, yes I always have those moments in a day where my heart stutters and I smile. Sometimes it is a young child singing. Thank you to everything Holy, young children 20200315_114015have not been corrupted by the world yet. Sometimes it is looking out my kitchen window and seeing my Lavender is still in bloom. Then there are those unique moments when I realize this will end and we will be together again.

Wonder at the resiliency of our human nature. We have been brought so low a pandemic is sweeping through this nation, through the world. A virus we have no control over is killing our loved ones and we are not able to offer comfort or even gain the comfort of true mourning. We have been overwhelmed; emotionally, financially and systemically. We are teetering on the edge of the abyss, yet there is hope in the everyday small things.

Wonder at the ability for humans to find thankfulness and grace even in the worst of days. I have read articles and watched mini-documentaries from the front lines. Each time I am struck by the compassion of those who must face the dying every single day, without aid or solutions. Every day I look for stories of kindness and I find them. The small restaurant that feeds those in need, despite being in need themselves. The coffee shop that gives away coffee and pastries to healthcare workers and first responders, despite operating in the red. The small clothing manufacturer that converted his operations at his own cost into making masks and scrubs, selling to hospitals at cost just so he can keep making them. I am uplifted every single day by these stories; by these proofs there continues to be good people in this world and most especially in this nation.

Wonder and woe follow me every day, piercing my heart. I often wonder what we will be when we finally conquer this virus and truly return to an open nation, not what we once were simply open. Will we be different in our spirit? Will we look at our behavior both before and during and shun the ugliness that brought us to that point that allowed our nation to be brought so low? Will we question our standards, morals and ethics as a screen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-34-05-pmpeople? Will we demand better of ourselves and those who seek high office?

Me? I believe we must start now to consider what it is we want to be and how we want the world to view us as a nation. We will be starting over; we have been brought low and our recovery will not be the work of one man or woman but of all of us. It truly is the right time to demand sweeping change, not the type of change Bernie Sanders and his acolytes were proposing. Certainly not the type of change Donald Trump proposed. But real change to who is in government, how they govern and for how long they govern. The grassroots of this nation must step up, must see beyond all our differences and begin to build true alliances if we want real change in this nation. We must stop he said / she said and start the what do we want, together. The only way anything will ever change for the better for all of us is if we agree to look toward a better future and agree on what that looks like, we cannot fix historical injuries only agree they occurred and are the root of many of the evils this nation has perpetuated.

Wonder? Yes, I stand in awe and wonder at the towering strength of our shared humanity. I have a great belief in us, all of us that we can fix what is broken in this nation. I know it will be hard; truthfully, it will be the hardest thing we have ever undertaken. But I believe there are enough of us who truly want this nation to succeed that it is possible for us to overcome all the differences and make it happen.

Our Lost Soul

OpEdHave you ever been struck through the heart by an image, something that simply stops you in your tracks or takes your breath away. An image of terrible beauty or terrible tragedy, something heart stopping. Humans are mostly visual by nature, they say men are more so than women, I think we all are though. Things aren’t real too us unless that thing of beauty or horror is directly before our eyes, even then there are times we can look away if we are able to say, “Not mine, not like me, not my neighborhood, not my country; or some other ignorant bullshit that allows us to disengage.”

Lately, I have been following the story of the Nigerian kidnapped girls, I know many of you have as well now that mainstream media has finally picked it up. There are people throughout the blogosphere who have done a far better job than I at compiling, tracking and presenting information, the links to their blogs are below. I am grateful for their diligence and their care. What they have done as part of a global effort, is I think miraculous; it is also heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to know the world stood by as nearly 300 young women at the beginning of their lives were whisked away from their schools and families and we not only didn’t know but in truth didn’t care until we were forced to pay attention.

I said to a friend I hold dear to my heart, “I remain helplessly hopeful”. I even sign my emails to him this way, as a reminder perhaps, he does not share my sentiments. The truth is, I know the world is terrible. I know through my own life and experience the world can be an abysmal and dark place inhabited by monsters. I do not remain helplessly hopeful out of naivety, I long since lost my innocence sacrificed on the altars of other men’s gods and desires. Yet, I believe in hope and redemption, individually and for humanity if we would only stop our selfish and purely personal pursuit of ‘me before you’, turning away from anything that makes us uncomfortable or doesn’t fit our worldview, like this.

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The Untouchables

Uncomfortable aren’t they? The first time I saw them I was frankly horrified, then I looked more closely. I understood them, instinctively I felt the message rather than saw the offensiveness of the image. Eric Ravelo, a Cuban born artist works in several different mediums; he is a sculptor, painter and multi-media artist. The images above are from his latest work titled The Untouchables for the UnHate Foundation.

Each image sends a different message, each crucifies a child on the back of a ‘known’ and unrepentant oppressor. Known to us, known to society at large and yet we uncomfortably turn away from the image, ‘not like us, not our problem, nothing we can do, not in my neighborhood, not my country’, or worse still, ‘not my religion’.

The first child sacrificed on the back of a Catholic priest, a pedophile the Vatican has covered for, for far too long.

The second child, victim of the sex tourism trade, sexual slavery primarily in Thailand but prevalent in also in Brazil, Vietnam, India and right here in the good old US of A.

The third child a victim of the terrible war in Syria, faceless and horrifying as they starve and choke on chemicals, as they are murdered in their homes. Children as refugees from war, they could be anywhere not just Syria.

The fourth child, perhaps the most frightening image is a child sacrificed for his internal organs on the black market, where most children come from poor countries and most purchases are the wealthiest nations and the wealthiest within those nations.

The fifth child, specific to our nation, the USA and its propensity for guns and their death dealing, particularly the killing of our children.

The final image, also pointed mostly at our nation is a condemnation of the terrible food industry that poisons our children, while pointing mostly to obesity and its relationship to the fast food industry I think we should see beyond this to the entire food industry including big agriculture, sugar and GMO / chemical poisons.

How does all this relate to the kidnapped girls of Nigeria? We turn away from them in the same way we turn away from the children these images represent. How does all this relate to the kidnapped girls of Nigeria? We turn away from them in the same way we turn away from the children these images represent. We ignore the approximately 20.9M adults trafficked every year into servitude, including the 2M children exploited in the worldwide sex trade.

We ignore children exploited everywhere, working in unsafe conditions, in garment factories in China, Mica mines in India; we don’t give a damn. We ignore children starving in our own streets. We turn a blind eye to children sold into sexual servitude everywhere in the world, unless they are blue-eyed and blond, look like us. We ignore nearly 300 young girls in Nigeria, until it is likely too late.

I try, I do try to maintain a hopeful heart. To not weep for our seemingly lost humanity. Sometimes though, it is hard. I find myself on my knees and my tears simply won’t seem to be stopped by my will alone, I weep for the loss of compassion and empathy, the loss of our shared humanity, our inability to reach out and offer simple kindness across borders because it is the right thing to do.

I have to ask, what happened to us as a people. What in the hell is wrong with all of us, have we simply given up hope and stopped believing in the usefulness of our own humanity?

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Links to better bloggers than I for #BringBackOurGirls

http://theobamacrat.com/2014/05/13/nigeria-refuses-to-swap-militant-prisoners-for-kidnapped-girls-new-video-bringbackourgirls/

http://hrexach.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/at-the-end-of-the-day-peace/

Other Links:

http://www.equalitynow.org/node/1010

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