In the battle for liberty there is not one enemy but two. There is first the ignorant who think they are fighting an oppressive establishment with violence. There is second, a class of the establishment more than willing to let the ignorant carry out their violence in the hope of future control. At the front lines in this battle are the police. They are the keepers of the peace, and a power structure which does not like an overarching oppressive establishment any more than the violent perpetrator. It is not, of course, simply correct to say that the police and the violent perpetrator are on the same side, only that if the violent perpetrator were not also ignorant, then they would see that the police are not on the side of oppression, and serve as protector of the common man’s liberties in the face of others who wish to strip them.
The violence that makes it to the headlines is what gets people’s attention. It is the kind of thing which sells us on psychopaths and a solely black/white divide. But to anyone who has faced it in their community or abroad, a quiet disdain – the ice and not the fire – is the far more prevalent atrocity and more atrocious when it is systematic. This is not something faced by one type of person and not another – and it is a greater difficulty when one is very much isolated, even should they have faith.
There are no provisions in the constitution for attaining a warhead. Yet we allow people to attain automatic weapons – legally – which can do the same damage to human life in a short period of time as a warhead. We have a constitutional right to bear arms, but there is no constitutional right to human destruction. The notion of a slippery slope applies equally in the other direction and if one has to choose, they should choose peace over mutual destruction in the name of ideological self-defense. It is just not that difficult to realize that legislation against automatic weapons is not only appropriate but necessary.
“Dad, what do you do behind there?”
“There, the curtain”
“Yes, I am there a lot, I know.”
“And always, always working. What for?”
“For us? Then why can’t I see?”
“It is not ready.”
“Will it ever be ready?”
“Yes I know, it always takes me a long time, too long.”
“I have never seen anything you’ve done.”
“I don’t believe this is true.”
“No it isn’t. Actually, I could show you, but I don’t know that you are ready.”
“I am, I am!”
“We all think that before we see it – and then we see it and we are not prepared.”
“What do I have to do to be ready?”
“You must practice.”
“How could I possibly do that?”
“Do you remember the story I told about the fairy?”
“That fairy doesn’t exist, that was a lie.”
“That was a story, but that too was practice.”
“Well, I can’t tell you, you must just practice – but maybe you are already prepared, nothing surprises me anymore.”
“Ok, this sounds like hog wash.”
“Fair, but it is not. It is practice.”
“Just show me what’s behind the curtain!”
He withdrew the curtain.
“Whoa… What is that?”
“This is a galaxy.”
“Yes, I know that too – but you built it?”
“But you didn’t build it – that would make you God.”
“I am not God. There is a God, but She did not build this. It is far too crude.”
“I don’t know what that means, but I still don’t believe you. You built a galaxy?”
“It’s not real.”
“No. You can’t just build a real galaxy.”
“Do you want to visit it.”
“This is no joke. You must think about this. Do you really want to leave our galaxy and visit this one. You must be strong in your conviction.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“Yes!? Why did you do that?”
“Because I had no choice – it is real.”
“Ugh. None of this makes sense. How can this be real and be a new galaxy you made?”
“Like the morning star is the evening star…”
“Again, I have no idea what you’re saying, but if this galaxy is our galaxy, then you did not make it.”
“Stop using big words! One day I will know all these big words and know what you are saying!”
“I must remember that, it is true.”
“If it is our galaxy, why did you have to build it?”
“Because I hope it is a better than the old one.”
“So are you going to let me visit your galaxy? Cause if it is our galaxy, then I am not scared.”
“No. Now I know you need more practice.”
“Ugh! Let me go!”
The girl took a big leap into the galaxy.
You are but a girl, by thoughts besieged
from hopes and fears which by turn breathe,
your breaths for you, as you devine,
a passage through this galaxy of mine.
You took a trip, innocent enough,
but you could not see just how rough,
the going would be, all alone,
without a map, a prayer, or a poem.
Who will say what scripture to read?
It is but from the hand that feeds,
and if this accident should so decide,
keep the mind open to other guides.
Let this be but one my dear,
though it will not stop the fear.
The fear you must conquer before it abates,
there is only through, let’s hope that’s your fate.
And so I give my perhaps strange advice,
that a heaven may come and you get your slice.
The world is complex, that’s not my fault,
but my guidance simple, so take it with salt.
The lives we lead are not always our own,
the tide does come and rattles the bone.
Should you make it, I’d be proud,
for there are dangers behind the shroud.
As you see them, they will come;
rampage and riots and drugs bar none,
murder, disease, hatred and gore,
noise and noise and too much war.
And to keep your head, that is a quest,
despite gestalt, slander, and jest.
Learn who you are, and don’t forget,
or doing other’s bidding is your bet.
There is in this galaxy a struggle anon,
so that what is good shall never be gone,
of rationalists and empiricists, of left and right,
of liberals and conservatives, who always fight.
If I should, and I guess I must dare,
to say it is a fight over methods is fair.
And it will forever be hard to concede,
that a life was lived and only for the deed.
And for this reason, should you endure –
after the great fight, should you prove pure –
there will be for you an opportunity to take;
and we will allow you a galaxy to make.
She came back.
“Would you wish to live there?”
She was still stunned.
“Most choose one galaxy in which to create their own galaxies”
“I have seen your galaxy…”
“I know it is a bit rough, but there was a lot we had to account for.”
“I have seen your galaxy and it is crazy… Can I wait for something better?”
He sighed. Put his chin on his fist. Thought and thought and said… “Yes”
And so the girl waited… until the next option was available.
She approached it in wonder, but not without trepidation.
And here, she wrote stories of her own.
Having been thoroughly beaten up by your own concerns of reputation, there comes a time where you must no longer live only in the eyes of your fellow man, but live for you.
I have lived in various lands and mingled with various people and with me now is a shield which fends off all comers from my inner peace. It is something earned with experience and missing in youth (unless egregiously optimistic). The protection may amount to “easy-come, easy-go”, but it is more from the subjective perspective. It is a freedom earned with trial by fire, and an honor bestowed on one from above.
The ability to love, without possessing; the ability to perform to your best, without concern for excellence; the ability to forgive as human and harmless, what society may nonetheless despise – in this you can make for yourself a wonderful world, even should your past experience be grim.
It is not easy to let yourself off the leash. Trolls abound, it seems the safer bet to mince your words beyond recognition. But it does not do justice to your sentiment if you are so refined. The process of hashing and rehashing takes something out of your expression which you don’t really know was there, once it is gone. This is the rhythm of life – it shines through in words without conditions and is lost in words finely tuned.
That said, words finely tuned can be pithy and more beautiful than their unrefined counterparts, but something may still be lost in beauty. It is this organic and genuine expression which is often missing in my own words, far too often, and I cannot blame it on anything but fear.
I do not say to you: “let yourself go”. The task of being a writer is as much knowing what not to say as it is knowing what to say. But it is fair that in our fear of saying too much, we either occlude the truth beyond recognition or say nothing at all, and that, for a writer, is a shame far beyond not expressing things beautifully.
Should I think you have nothing to say, it is because I am self-centered. Or maybe it is because you have said things in the past which do not make sense. Or maybe it is because you say things again, which I have already heard. It is perhaps because what you say is frivolous, and I tread on higher ground.
It would all be very interesting, but perhaps I find you unattractive. I am not only self-centered. I am superficial too. As a writer it is words which should excite and not how or who. But I will say that should I choose (and off the record), I choose a beautiful woman’s casual charade to cold comfort of philosophers. I am not less a MAN for that. But I am less a man, sure. Because I’m just a man, sadly.
It is sadly indeed, for in every communication their is a life behind the words. A life to empathize with, for it is a life you could have led. To not reflect in those moments, on what your life could have been, and allow yourself to be struck with boredom – that is self-centeredness – and it is worth fighting that.
And still it is so much easier when you are beautiful to look at.
The mentally ill need care, not suspicion. Yet a visit with your therapist can occasionally feel like an interrogation as they try to cover their backs from the unknown. And it’s not like their performance goes undetected. The mentally ill are simultaneously some of the smartest people in the world; though they may be treated as minds of inconsequential validity, rest assured that they are observant and capable of unwanted inference. How to treat such talent while protecting society – that is a very difficult balance.
The foremost indicator of future violence is past violence, but all too often people are buried under suspicion without any past violence at all. Should there be a need to put someone under suspicion for their condition, it must be the result of an evaluation done without suspicion, since suspicion on the part of the doctor leads to fear on the part of the patient, which leads to suspicion on the part of the system. Once there is suspicion on the part of the system, it is often too late for a patient to lead a normal life, for they will face an uphill battle for most of their lives.
It is a fact that mass shootings put more power in the hands of psychiatrists, and these psychiatrists are not blind to the scrutiny they will face if – albeit a remote possibility – a terrorist slips their grasp. But we should not ignore the fact that mass shootings make up a relatively insignificant portion of the death rate, despite their sensationalism, and a far greater number of lives are lost to scrutiny than death by bullet – though their stories remain untold.
It was not so long ago that students complained of bloody knuckles from the ruler. This type of treatment was more the norm than the exception in eliciting Catholic guilt, and it did not stop and end at nuns trying to teach mathematics. The heavy hand extended rather clearly – among the initiated – to the pulpit and even prayer, in advance of the rebirth.
We are not fully reborn of course, but there is something to be said for Pope Francis’ light guiding touch that has made the wait and persistence of faith worth it. No longer do I feel quite so guilty for enjoying myself in ways visceral but victimless, should I also pay respect to what is truly good. No longer do I feel the need to hide from authority because they are bound to only see things in the light of what could go wrong as opposed to what could go right. A God merciful to the good of heart, despite a love of life – I have been waiting for it all my life and it is here.
Tomorrow it does not matter if I see the Pope, though I happen to be in D. C. I have already seen the good done in the faces of those estranged from faith and The Church. We have a Pope respectful of humanity and the human condition, in the face of historical demands made in the name of God, though not always true to His spirit. It is a good time to be a Catholic, and a good time for the world to rethink faith.
When there is discrimination, there is always difficulty getting through it. But the issue is not simply one of instilling a different mindset toward the discriminated, which is hard enough to do. The issue also has to do with the fact that discriminators fear retribution for their actions should the discriminated get fair compensation. This cycle of discrimination and distrust can be overcome by instilling a different mindset in the next generation, but relying on this entails no justice for the current one. And no justice for the current generation entails slower change, if any. This cycle can be broken, but there needs to be a perception of fair-mindedness from both sides. In some areas progress has been made. It is usually best made when we accept our differences as much as highlight our similarities, and each side recognizes compensation as fair. Freedom is not Justice, but it is a healthy attitude to take the opportunities given. They can be compensation enough.