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Archive for July, 2014

So I’m working and email alert comes into my inbox.  New York Times article Suicide Bomber from U.S. Came Home Before Attack. As I reach the bottom I come across this:

“I lived in America: I know how it is.” he said. “You think you’re happy? You’re not happy. You’re never happy. I was never happy. I always sad and depressed.”

There will inevitably be a lot more demonizing and rejection by many who read the article.  However, I would like to offer a ray of hope to anyone feeling the same way as the young man.

When a whole planet seems to have turned against you, refuses to recognize you as a beautiful part of humanity, labels everything you are and everything that looks like you as something that needs to be destroyed, it is hard to connect with others or feel that life is worth living.  

You try to be happy but what is the point?  You get up in a good mood, you turn on the television and there is talk about how everything like you is evil.  You pray and calm down.  Some of your friends say why pray, who will help us other than death? You walk out the door and there are stares and comments on a good day.  Most days probably worse.  

You try to explain: look people, I’m not saying everything about my people is right, we are definitely different from your people, there are things I don’t agree with in my customs and your customs but it does not make me evil.  All of a sudden self proclaimed experts tell you “facts” about your beliefs that are so far from the truth you wonder how this person calls themselves a rational human being.  You are told what you “must believe” is true and you are told what you “must be thinking” and why when nobody has taken the time to even ask you if that is true.  Most of the time, those that do ask are just waiting for you to say a word or phrase that anyone else would use in order to misconstrue what you say into a warped representation of your beliefs. Anything you say or do is ALWAYS used against you.

So, you stop speaking.  You only socialize with those who are exactly like you.  You see those like you and everyone is angry.  Everyone feels hated.  Tempers flare.  Someone says something and that hurts someone and, next thing you know, those exactly like you are at each others throats.  There is no end to the constant fighting and negativity.  All you want as a human being is to find acceptance and peace but where? how? when?  

No, I’m not Middle Eastern or Islamic but I am half Kenyan, half Puerto Rican.  I wish I could say that in 2014 humanity in general has evolved past the stigmas that have destroyed countless of lives over the centuries but it has not.  

What I do know, if you behave like the stories the stories win.  Stay alive, stand firm, stand strong.  Those who attack have an inner war that is not yours.  Keep your peace by letting them keep their war inside themselves.  Don’t put their war inside you.  Your goal is for your humanity to win.  If you destroy yourself and others, how will your life stand in testimony to the truth instead of the lies?  

 

 

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If you saw the title and thought this is going to be a nice deep metaphysical discussion on growth through suffering, let me save you some time: read another blog.

Yes, I know, how can someone who claims to follow the Catholic faith say suffering has no purpose and look at the crucifix on the alter during mass??? Are you a non-believer or a heretic some would ask.  Well, I define the Divine as all which is good, wholesome and loving. Suffering is none of these so if you require my belief in the Divine to include a belief in suffering as a necessity then I am a very proud non-believer.  If requisite suffering is to be held as the norm then I am a heretic as well.  There, see, no lightening bolts.

So do I deny suffering exists? Not by a long shot. Look anywhere and you can find it. However, what is it you seek?  Do you seek to always find suffering in the midst of happiness and call it inevitable or do you seek to find happiness in the midst of suffering and call it vindication?

Now you see the conundrum: you can trap yourself in logical quicksand where all roads lead to suffering. To get out of quicksand you need to stop struggling/moving about, stay calm, stay focused and find a rope, branch, plank, something that is outside the quicksand and use it as a bridge or a lever to get out.

The mind can trap itself quite contentedly in futile endeavors. So, let’s look at suffering. The best response would be proactive. If you can see quicksand in advance, you avoid it. Ok so you cannot do this with fellow human beings and call yourself human. Yes you can. You can make sure in advance that hunger does not exist and therefore the suffering it causes is avoided.  You can make sure there is wealth for all so the suffering of poverty is avoided. This doesn’t mean stopping those who have more money than they can ever spend themselves from having what they want. It does mean there is never a moment where someone who needs money to spend on life’s essentials (including vacation and recreation and decorative items) does not have any.

Some would say, such a world will be a horrible place and we will have uncontrolled population explosion. What leads you to such an assertion?  At an existential level, it is scarcity and the fear of loss that drives excessive reproduction and consumption.  There is solid economic data on this (click here).  It is also the fear of loss and scarcity that drives voluntary blindness (I don’t want to think about things I cannot solve  OR   This is just the way the world works).  Voluntary blindness is not avoidance it is negligence. In its most blatant form it is deceit and planned malice. Planned malice because the same brain and effort that is being used to neglect things can be used to find solutions. Deceit because claiming that planned negligence is unavoidable let alone a Divine intention is an outright lie!

So, what do I see when I look at the crucifix? I see a frustrated being exhausted from trying to get us to realize: idiot, there was always another way! I told you to imagine yourself in my image. Unless you want to see yourselves tortured, dead and hanging on crosses, why would you celebrate this?  As a Divine being I can resurrect myself into anything. As a mortal, can you??? If you know your time is limited why spend it on acts of destruction? Why fill yourselves with hate and vindictiveness?  If you want revenge for a wrong, why make it hurtful, why not find something amusing or better yet healing (as in put the stupidity of doing harm in blatant display)?  Most of all, why spend time doing everything that is the antithesis of what I represent then call on me asking for salvation???

Soooo, as you can see, I don’t want to get hit by lightening bolts and I don’t want to have to answer that last paragraph of questions either. It’s much easier to avoid suffering by being proactive and trying to find solutions to things (even if all I can create is a teeny weeny idea) than to practice negligence and accept suffering.  Do I feel peace when I look at a crucifix?  Yes, absolutely.  I know the better way is guaranteed.  All I have to do is not do things that lead to the crucifixion of others.

If you have lived a life full of suffering, stop believing this is your destiny, that it is inevitable, that it is what the Divine (whatever form of higher power you believe in) intended for your life. That is both irrational and wasteful. If you don’t believe in any higher power and only believe in natural order, if death and destruction were meant to be the norm why would there be life and beauty anywhere???  Balance you say. The universe is not a see-saw. There are many cycles and patterns but take heed of this: if you enjoy being a predator, there is always a bigger one (it is a matter of when, not if, your adversary shows up).  Sooo, you can spend your life looking over your shoulder and preparing for what you can never be ready for (your own annihilation), or, you can choose another way….

 

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