This Quiet Passion

It is a love, a desire, a response to silence,

for so many occasions,

while the skies do glance the usual,

always, the emotions might trigger,

might respond,

could offer a storm of wrath,

or perhaps,

when least we anticipate,

a light rain, to cleanse our soul,

allow our lives to breathe,

beyond the casual haze

of a summer day.

 

I stood in front of my emotions today,

asked a question,

perhaps stoic in my way,

I wondered just how far

we might have to travel

in order,

to participate in the aftermath

of chaos,

for it screams that phenomena

stayed with my being,

for as many days as the summer

holds true to an autumn.

 

While now I rest my weary soul,

the fortune of time offers sweet Grace,

when age becomes validation,

and hearts do forever listen.

I have traveled far and wide,

and yet there is a stillness,

may overcome me in evening’s tide,

as will the serendipity of passion,

an surreal reality as I stand here before you,

wanting only solace from a sweet panic.

 

In life, we do lead with thoughtful enterprise,

a notion, an ideal,

oft times an inspiration,

to market goodness,

to experience that

goodness,

to know such character

is infamy

when stood alongside

true character.

When passion speaks its favor,

our world, a planet, a state, a society,

a mosaic,

we are all

so much – so little – so together,

 

We can be universal,

we may align, smile, gesture, accord

each other …

we can be one.

The ‘Not Yet’ Reality of Racism

boston

Boston rally – photo credit – CNN

A dear friend once used the phrase ‘not yet’ to suggest a descriptive moment in our lives that though I will not describe that context, I will explore the phrase as it pertains to our lives in America today. As I write this commentary, I notice a massive gathering of protesters in Boston to represent all sides in light of the Charlottesville tragedy. To be clear, it has been reported that this Boston ‘Freedom’ rally was planned in advance to last week’s hate melee in Virginia; however, at the same time, authorities are said to be prepared for outbreaks, and have given notice to all participants.

I’m personally very happy to see this gathering, and my wishes are for a completely peaceful representation. After all, wouldn’t it be refreshing to be able to say this evening, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Boston Commons without incident? We can only hope, but in the meantime, let’s talk about the ‘not yet’ factor of racism in America. After all, a score of you reading this right now may be sitting in your chair at home or in the office, or sharing drinks or coffee with friends having a dialogue, expounding upon the issues that haunt our country’s racial divide, but just aren’t quite ready to become involved. Many of you might even be saying, I believe the issue exists, but I just don’t want to become … not yet.

After Charlottesville and the notable incidents that will appear to evolve from today’s rallies, my suggestion would be that the time is now. We can all in less than five minutes name a string of current events that impact the racial divide in America. It is time to stop suggesting we are over reacting and begin to address the issues that exist in our society today. Right now, today as I write this I feel a stronger tension than I did as a child growing up in the 60’s. Granted I wasn’t yet in my teens, but I listened to my older siblings, and watched the news with a very well informed mother and father.

The fact that civil rights set such a precedent in the 60’s gives cause to argue that what is happening today in our world is throwing all of that effort out the window. It would seem today, we are right back where we started with open violence attached to racial discrimination. There are no filters, and our children, the young people growing up with this mindset should be our primary concern.

What scares me the most is the actions that happen behind closed doors, just like the very pub or coffee shop you are sitting in right now. Those conversations need to be geared toward reframing our thinking, to understand what ‘love’ means as opposed to the insidious nature of ‘hate’ in America. Time magazine recently published a cover page with the American flag and the heading ‘Hate in America’ as its bi-line. I scratched out hate and wrote love above it and posted it on Facebook, but then took it down because of copyright infringement.

We need to start to dialogue together, to inform one another of the long-term effects of racism, not as much our future but how the past has impacted a way of thinking today, that will not improve if society doesn’t begin to collectively listen. Let’s ignore the ‘not yet’ and begin to act now.

In the meantime, let’s wish for peaceful strolls throughout some major metropolitan cities where protesters are presently laying emphasis on the cause for peace and unity throughout this gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

 

 

The Need to Recognize Historical Trauma

Germany_Luebeck_St_Mary_melted_bells

Germany – Luebeck,  Air Raid 1942

Many years ago, during a trip to Europe, I discovered a reality that would change my life forever. The year was 1985, and a portion of my travels was spent in Germany. In a visit to St. Mary’s Church in Lubeck, West Germany I discovered a broken and melted bell that was left in its destroyed condition in the sanctuary to symbolize the bombing of Lubeck on March 29th, 1942.

As a tourist I was humbled by the fact this bell tower was constructed sometime during the 12th century. I was a visiting traveler from a country built upon a freedom of little more than 200 years of independence. However, that would not be the specific revelation I would come away with as a euro-rail traveling twenty something American. What I discovered next was probably the most humbling aspect of my two months travel throughout western Europe.

As I strolled the streets of Hamburg, attended a Christmas festival in Nuremburg, and even walked the somber stone memorials to the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympic festival, I suddenly began to notice an inordinate number of German males in their late 50’s or older with missing limbs, prosthetic arms, legs, or dependent upon wheel chairs to move themselves throughout their daily routine. I then connected everything, from the bell tower to the male population, these were leftover symbols of WWII. This was a time when German lives were turned upside down because of Hitler’s Nazi takeover. Their lives were forever altered and the impacts that the men and women of Germany endured would last a lifetime and be carried over in the lives of their children and future families well beyond the history of the war.

I was 25 years old at the time, and had never experienced such stark realities in my short life in the United States. Certainly, there were historic moments, the assassinations of MLK, Malcolm X, JFK & RFK, and countless other life changing events including the Kent State massacre and the murder of my personal idol, John Lennon. What I had not experienced though was the historical trauma of the war. I had not experienced the dissemination of the Jewish population throughout Europe during the holocaust. I was 16 years away from the horrific reality of 9/11.

I did experience the trauma of Vietnam through the eyes and struggles of an older brother who became one of the hundreds of thousands of military men and women who received no recognition for their valiant efforts in a senseless war. I certainly do not minimize the lives of all of the family and friends impacted by the perils of that state of confusion. For the sake of this writing though, I want to remain focused on the Nazi nation of WWII.

During my travels I began to recognize how many of the lives of the people I noticed living throughout Germany would be affected forever. They would pass on the confusion of their trauma to their children and the society that evolved beyond that horrific time.

So I do wonder about that time as I speculate the vitriolic response to the events of Charlottesville, Virginia. Throughout my adult life I have often heard the phrase, ‘get over it’ when referencing the systemic nature of racism in America. The one that jumps out at me the most is the accusation that none of our Black Americans have ever experienced slavery, so why keep mulling over the past? Because the past is still the present, and many of the children and families we live, work and laugh with today, had family that were part of the slave industry, much like children of WWII, much like any aspect of oppression that exists in our world today.

It is time we stop tossing blame at other communities, other groups that would like to bring racism into the conversation and start listening instead. I am often accused of ‘white guilt’ because I am that entitled white guy that has not experienced the direct impact of discrimination in my life. It is true, but I still see it. I see it in my classroom, in my community, in my society.

It is unfortunate that we have a POTUS that would like to blend the issues rather than take a stand against known evil – White Supremacists, Neo-Nazi factions, anti-Semitic groups and all hate groups that would rather tear apart the fabric of our country rather than learn to recognize acceptance and love.

The only silver lining in all of this horror is there does seem to be an increased dialogue in social media that would rather address the divisions in our country instead of fueling the hate that separates our lives. We can only pray the dialogue might continue in a proactive and positive manner … forever.

Our Violent Humanity

GettyImages_830617844.0

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

 

It would seem we haven’t had enough,

Watching our neighbors fall to the sword,

The world around us eschewing the evil

Of a nation lost in a swirl of self-pity.

No one to blame but ourselves,

Yet that never comes into play,

We are soon to discover some outlet,

Easy to say we may fall personal prey.

In looking at the news today, I saw

Real lives being struck down, a society

Lost in its own pitfalls of insecurity,

All of them wondering, remaining alone.

When we might raise a flag to equality,

Shudder the notion that fire might stay,

The real burden of proof is our own lives,

Lost in the façade of believing in truth.

There is a Christian belief in humanity

Spouted from every possible pulpit,

Always with the best intentions, they say

The world will be better without evil.

Yet is it some times the very cross carrying,

Honorable, parishioner borne out of fear,

Might wield the weaponry of utter hate,

The rhetoric of painful prejudice begotten.

Pitfalls occur with anyone’s desire to change,

To make change, ask for change, demand change,

The local grocer suggests we use credit instead,

Yet it seems everywhere, fake news still relents.

I watched today with an ill heart the display

Of a humanity lost in the perils of bigotry,

Lost on themselves, lost on each other,

Drifting aimless in a world beyond reproach.

We might only reflect upon where we came

From in a society that once believed in love,

Today is seemingly hell bent on the otherwise,

The ability to act without a conscience so unwise.

Oh, to find love again – to breathe.

When In A State

I would if asked,

Suggest my world an easy one,

Though to the onlooker,

It may seem quite the opposite.

 

Depends upon the day,

I might quickly suggest,

Have I been, browbeaten again,

Or just left for dead, I’d want to guess.

 

I wish there might be a time,

Like the night I sat on the bench,

A curbside onlooker,

Watching the cars drift slowly past.

 

I remember there were so many,

None of which I probably knew,

Or if I did,

They’d certainly never agree to invest.

 

That quiet state of mind,

Where no one is generally allowed,

Except to surmise, pass judgment,

Thinking everything always the same.

 

The screams inside that patient,

Call to arms the proper time,

The explosive revelation sublime,

Defines our world a chaotic dream.

 

I would when in this frame of mind,

Wish the world around me blind,

For in the spotlight I feel exposed,

Wondered just how much my life is known.

 

And then I walk inside a crowded mall,

Mill about in a sea of eye contact,

When suddenly there appears before me,

Another human being, in a state of mind.

Being Real

Certainly, life is a challenge,

wake up to a peaceful sunlit morning,

compelled to go back to dreams,

life is waiting with a plundering notion,

at least,

that’s what a voice tells me,

when trying to ascertain,

getting a grip, get a grip, get a grasp,

we all do grapple with a sweet ideal,

when not met, forgotten,

when we seem oblivious to the plan,

whose plan, The Man,

yeah, the Man seems to drive our …

I woke up an hour later,

wondering how I had fallen into,

fallen off, fell forward, free for all,

landing in whatever state of mind I might choose.

Ugliness in Addiction and Recovery

If I could reach inside and rip out the pain that stops me in my tracks

I would do so and I let the ugliness drip off my fingertips,

because then I could choose to hold onto it,

or let it go, and watch it fall,

pull out the garden hose,

spray it into the soil,

until all around me I could see,

life is abundant, growing, and offers a peace,

a serenity.

The problem is sometimes addiction won’t allow a second chance,

we seem buried,

unable to get past the reality of our woes,

and even then, when we understand them,

we still fight for reasoning,

sometimes justifying,

this happened then, when, it was, because I wanted, it didn’t

really matter anymore to anyone.

I’ve been sitting in a chair today,

actually for days,

trying to get out,

but the vacuum hold is remarkable,

my body feels secure,

my mind is screaming,

as I look at the door, and realize,

it cannot stay open forever.

I wonder sometimes about real pain,

is it like this,

or is this just part of a visual game,

seems like I’ll never figure out a way to find the blockbuster,

instead, I’ll probably remain,

wishing purgatory could be

a safer place to be then I seem to realize.