Mercy, Always Mercy

It’s very early in the morning where I am, as of this post, and I just have a few things on my mind. I’m exhausted, so it won’t be long, but it’s also irritating me enough that I have to put it down for posting, or I won’t get any sleep at all.

I feel like it is becoming difficult for people to forgive others. I also feel like it’s becoming much harder for people to offer grace before attacking someone. A practice I have generally tried to employ, for myself, is to think through what someone has said, and then ask the question “what do you mean?” if it sounds like something terribly offensive. This way, I ensure that I’ve fully understood what the other person is trying to say, and then when I do respond, I have a plan for how to proceed.

I feel like the step in-between “words spoken” and “response given” has been removed. People jump to judgment, without considering all of the information at hand, and then double down when the offending party attempts to clarify. “That’s just the internet,” you might say, and you’re right, the internet fosters this kind of behavior because there is a level of anonymity that is appreciated for all involved.

Still, I don’t like how we’re forcing our behavior into a mob mentality. This extends to our culture at large. Now, among western nations, I notice it in the U.S. more than I do anywhere else, that being, I notice how we love our legalism. I’ve mentioned it before, and do so again here. In the U.S., illegal means guilty and wrong (as long as it’s not you). The police are right, you are wrong, and that makes you evil/immoral/irredeemable.

We love to lock you up and throw away the key. When we don’t throw away the key, and eventually let you out, we watch you like a hawk, and warn others about you, making it difficult to get a job because of your record while you were supposed to be paying your debt to society. We like having you in debt, and we’ll never really let you forget that debt. Ever.

It is something that bothers me because our system is becoming more and more authoritarian by the day. We’re embracing a militarized police force, and a zero tolerance towards anything that approaches the line of illegality, whether it is harmful or not. Right now, for example, marijuana is still illegal in most states. There are men and women sitting in prison, unable to live their lives, because they smoked a weed that grows in the dirt. If, tomorrow, that law were repealed, those same people would be let go.

You are expected to simply follow along with this like it makes all the sense in the world. You are not to resist, you’re not to question it, you’re not to see anything negative about it. If you’re a politician, you’re to be tough on crime, regardless of the context surrounding it. If you’re not “tough on crime,” you’re “soft on crime,” and therefore almost as bad as those nasty criminals yourself.

We have a serious problem in this country, and I’m not sure what can be done about it. As many of you know, I’m sure, the death penalty is still legal in many states. The U.S. government can have you killed, and it’s all nice and legal. Even ethical, if you’re one to equate legality with morality. I think it’s insidious, but it’s the way we are right now.

So what does that mean? It means we are a nation of people that is quick to anger, slow to forgive, petty, stubborn, grudging in our ability to allow those who made a mistake back into society, and we condemn those who do not toe that line with lockstep precision.

Fuck me, we’re just begging for a totalitarian authority to lull us into its embrace. I fear it will come in the form of a theocracy, since religion has the most power to make this happen, and as we’re seeing in the news the ultra religious in certain sects are some of the ones that currently wield much power, we are at their mercy if any of us are branded with any kind of “immoral” status. It could happen to us. I think, because of the glut of religious zealotry and the rise of “fake news,” it will happen to us and soon.

Sorry if this darkens your day, but it was on my mind, and I wanted to share it. I do believe, however, that there is hope.

What we have to do is to learn how to be merciful again, how to extend grace to others. We need to revise our legal system by reforming our hearts and minds. Listen to others, consider their thoughts, weigh their actions against their flawed humanity, and then adjust accordingly. No more zero tolerance, no more mandatory minimums, no more pulling families apart, or destroying entire lives out of some sense of misguided justice.

We can be better. We can do better. We can grow in mercy, and compassion. I see other nations do it, nations with fewer resources than what we have. I see them reach out, and try to teach, to reform with great care. They treat those who transgress in society with respect and dignity, because they believe a reformation can happen, that a person can be rehabilitated, fixed, repaired. That a person can be flawed, shown the best way to move forward, and then are released back into society with the chance to do better.

Can’t we do that? Must we continue this path of stinginess, malevolence, and cruelty? If we’re that supposed shining city on a hill, why do we taint that light with the reddish hue of blood?

We must become greater than what we are. We must listen, learn, and love. We must offer it to all people, to give them mercy and compassion. Surely that is something we can do if we truly want to become better than this terrible system, before we succumb to a national fervor of barbarism masquerading as justice.

Mercy in all things, my friends. Always mercy.

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The Frost Moon

Tonight is the Frost Moon, when the Moon appears slightly larger and much brighter than normal. If I could tonight, I would sit outside and bathe in her light. The cold doesn’t bother me, never has. Even so, it would be worth a nip of my nose to see her resplendent and regal. It would be glorious to feel that, for just a moment, she’s only shining on me, an inconsequential little man who has no right to this world, or even to be in such a presence. I’d sit there gazing upon her, in that silvery light of my Moon Goddess.

If I could, that is what I would do.

My First Foray

 

Tonight, I have drawn down the Moon for the very first time. It was an amazing experience. As an atheist, I cannot rightly explain just what all is involved behind the action, but I can say that it felt wonderful, and for the first time in quite a while, I felt peace.

I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I do know that wherever it is, I will no longer be alone. I can’t… I don’t know how to quite explain it, I really don’t. Back when I was a Christian, I’d have talked about spirituality, the Holy Spirit, God moving to touch my heart, and so on, but I do not believe in such a God anymore.

Some of you have read where I’ve referred to the Moon as a Goddess, and that is true. It isn’t in the deific perspective, but in some other sense, and I’m sorry it probably doesn’t make any sense at all for most people. All I know is that tonight I was in pain, my heart was troubled, has faced much trouble, my mind was once again attacking me, and so I decided to try it, I wanted to draw down the Moon.

Over the past few months, I have been studying various texts on Paganism, on Wicca, and while my understanding is very new, I find it quite intriguing, and of course if you know me then you know I will not leave a stone unturned, especially if there is significant knowledge to gain from it.

Anyway, I had read about Wiccans who, in times of meditation, would draw down the Moon, and it would bring them comfort and solace. So I opened up my heart, and my mind, and I performed the meditation. It was short lived, but the effect was immediate, and the sense of something powerful lay just beyond the tip of my tongue. I *felt* something, and I can’t rightly describe what it was I felt, but it was wholly encompassing. It wasn’t like how the Sun blinds you, but was like someone lit a small candle in a dark room, and suddenly details you couldn’t see before leapt out at you. It was surreal.

So as I sit here, typing, part of my brain is telling me “this is a fantasy that exists only in your mind and serves no genuine purpose,” while another part of me is still clutching its chest breathing “holy shit, I can’t believe that worked!”

For me, this merits much further exploration.

Silver Solace

I am water.
I glide downward in rivulets,
becoming streams
that rush together into waterfalls.
I am the memory that was and will be.
A forgotten ferocity cleverly disguised as a tear drop.
This is my power.

I am winter.
I bring the chill of death.
I tally the fruit that has spoiled.
I put to sleep the seeds of what will grow.
I am darkness. I am loneliness.
This is my purpose.

I am the Moon.
I control the lifeblood of the Earth.
I bring wisdom, peace, illumination,
as Watcher of the Night,
This is my domain.

Doggo

I just want to hug a dog until my heart stops hurting. I’ve been under massive amounts of stress the past 8 or 9 days weeks months years. Right now, I would love a warm doggy to hug and hug until the pain in my heart stopped hurting, until people would just leave me alone and let me be, and until people would quit taking and taking from me without offering to give in return.

That would be so wonderful. ♥

Weep

I find myself crying an awful lot these days. I’ve always been somewhat sensitive: romance films, greeting cards, and so on, but the real crying happens when I encounter something that either causes strong elation, or just troubles me deeply.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I spent it with my family: my father, mother, brother, sister-in-law, and my niece and nephew. I love them all, so it’s nice when my brother and his family come over to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.

Still, that’s not the crying part, I’m getting to it.

Two things really caused me to pause yesterday. The first was when I served the dinner itself. I had worked all day and the night before preparing the turkey, potato salad, rolls, banana pudding, all the things my family loved to eat. I setup the tables and chairs, cleaned the house as well as I could, and prepared everything, including having “White Christmas” playing on the television.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and so was I. As I glanced over at mom in her hospital bed (we keep it in the living room so she can get plenty of light, have people around her, and so she can watch TV), I couldn’t help but notice that my mom was eating a little slower than usual. After the stroke she had over a year ago, some things changed, which is to be expected. That she survived is the most important part. Still, as I watched her eat, I saw that her hands were shaking. They’ve been doing that more and more since the stroke, and sometimes it’s very difficult for her to eat.

Even thinking about it now makes me tear up. My poor, sweet mom. Stubborn as a mule, but as frail as the rarest china. I just want to scoop her up in my arms and tell her everything will be okay. I still hold out hope that things will improve. I do it for her.

So that’s one.

The second incident was a few minutes later, when I put together a dinner plate for our next door neighbor. She’s an older woman who has to get around in a wheel chair because she lost her leg many years ago, and is on assisted income, like many of the folks around here. She lives alone, and usually has her daughter or son-in-law stop by to help her out from day to day. We’re all good neighbors, and we look out for each other. I figured a quick visit might be nice.

Anyway, so I headed on over with a plate stacked with turkey, and all the good tasty things we were having for dinner, and I knocked on her door. When she opened the door, I could smell buttered popcorn in the air. I said hello to her and wished her a happy thanksgiving. She replied, “Hey! Yeah, I was just sitting down to dinner.” I saw behind her and on her coffee table was a tiny bag of microwave popcorn. I looked back at her and said “well, we’re having thanksgiving dinner, and I wondered if you’d like to try some of what I’ve been cooking.” At which point I offered her the loaded down plate. She took it happily and said “thank you! I haven’t really eaten anything today, no one stopped by to bring me anything.”

My smile nearly faltered. I had to hold it together as I said “well, I hope you like my cooking!” She laughed and said “Ooh my, it smells really good.” I told her to enjoy it, and I saw a huge grin on her face as she closed the door. I walked back to our house, trying to keep from sobbing. I was so heartbroken for her, and so mad with her daughter and son-in-law, because we were eating dinner at around 8 PM, which means she had gone all day without a proper meal.

Once I got back, everyone was talking and laughing, but all I could think about was seeing her in my mind’s eye, savoring her first real meal of the day.

I have been crying ever since. Those of you who know me know how I get when I find out someone is going hungry. Other issues get at me, but hunger, especially when a child or elder goes hungry, just cuts me to the core. We have to be better. We have to be better. I’m doing what I can, but it just doesn’t feel like enough.

I’m taking a page from a friend of mine, who suggested I take up knitting, where I can knit hats and scarves and give them away. I love the idea, and I’m getting a book on the basics of knitting. I may stab myself repeatedly, but I can’t pass up the chance to give something meaningful to others. Warm wishes are nice, warm mittens are better.

So please take a moment today, and every day, to consider those in need. Try to remember the forgotten ones, and love every person. Please. There is not enough love in this world, we need more. Always more.

I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you, and that word will never be casually stated, or meaningless for me. I love you.

Before Morning

I’m sitting here typing this, and the house is quiet except for the lowered volume of the television pushing out “Alfred Hitchcock” reruns. Today is a national holiday, Thanksgiving Day.

A lot has happened this year, and there is still over a month to go. A part of me fears the future, the biggest part of me, in fact. I fear not only the future for others, but for myself. Sometimes I think past my future, and I wonder how I would be remembered. Some might say fondly, while others would consider it to be of little note either way. I honestly cannot say because I don’t know my future, and I don’t know how things will end up. All I know is that I continue to be afraid, and for many reasons.

As I sit here, though, I try to think of ways I can be thankful. Honestly, the idea of being thankful on one particular day is silly to me. It’s tradition, I know, but I am thankful for every day I am alive, but I say that with an asterisk for every single day. I say that because there are many days where I regret it.

I’ve been staying very busy the past few days, in preparation for this day. I haven’t done it for myself, but for my family, especially my mother. I do all of this for her, because she deserves a nice day with lots of food, playing with her grandchildren, and laughing with her husband and sons. I am trying to make that happen.

Right now I am having yet one more anxiety attack, and it is fierce. I am afraid. I am afraid that somehow I will ruin today. That is nothing new, because I feel every day that I will do something to ruin that day, or I will have done something to cause that day to be ruined. I just want my mom to have a fun day today, without incident.

Still, in my heart, and in this damnable head of mine, I feel the panic escalating. As a general rule, holidays are stressful enough for me, but this year is extra difficult. I have grown exhausted of society, having seen things that have brought back horrors from my childhood, and I just want to be done with the whole thing. I can’t, I can’t extricate myself from it right now, because my mom relies on me for so much, but I am so tired of society in general.

I made a post the other day, on Facebook, where I mentioned moving as far out into the countryside as possible, and living in a cabin without TV, phone, or internet. Instead, I would be happy with my books, and my typewriter. I meant every word of it. I am tired of the so-called civilization in which I now live. It takes too much from me, and wants only to take more. I feel as if it wants to punish me, as if it holds me at gunpoint, and threatens me that at any moment it will end my life.

Sitting here, at 1:24 in the morning, these thoughts course through my mind, through my body. I am both exhausted and hyper-alert. There’s not much I can do about it, though. Almost everything in this world is beyond my influence and control. If I could have almost everyone leave me alone, I would. I can’t, because my will is worthless to most people, especially those who feel they have a right to me any time they demand.

The exceptions, of course, are a small circle of my dearest friends, but my closest, dearest friends wield just as little power against the world, and I feel protective of them, because they are connected to my heart, and I do not wish to lose them, ever.

This has been one of the worst years for me, and so I do struggle to find some reason to be thankful in any appreciable way above and beyond how I feel every day. I feel that I am on borrowed time. It may be paranoia, who knows? All of this may be in my head, but since it’s my head, and it’s my reality, then that makes it a palpable thing to me.

What is the difference between a drowning man and a man who only thinks he is drowning? The drowning man eventually finds peace.

Well, I should probably try to get some rest. Later this morning, I need to start final preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. I just want this day to go well, because my mom deserves a good day. She deserves far more than that, but I am only one person, and cannot give her everything she should rightfully have in this world.

No matter what happens today, I love you. All of you.