A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Violence In Response To Violence Makes The Cycle Continue
The above is a quote by Martin Luther King Jr when he was fighting for civil rights in the US, but it is an appropriate quote for anytime and especially now almost a week after Paris suffered from multiple attacks by organized terrorists. The French government has chosen to return violence for violence, thereby continuing the cycle of abuse, sickness and terror. So many countries, including the US, have bought into perpetuating this cycle using the insane logic that somehow more violence can subdue outbreaks of violence in the world. It is a grave misunderstanding to equate strength with violence. In my mind, I equate violence with weakness.
The Americas and Europe are mostly Christian countries, yet not truly followers of Jesus, the most famous pacifist in our history. He is a more striking example of pacifism than Buddha precisely because he lived in a hostile environment and was crucified for his beliefs. Jesus was smart; there is no way that he didn't know that there was a high probability that he would be harmed or murdered because of the way he spoke to all the people in Israel. And yet he continued to speak out. And in our patriarchal, war oriented world he was killed in a very horrible way as thousands of people were in those days.
So here we find ourselves over two thousand years after Jesus' death in the same situation. As far as I know there are no more crucifixions, but there is a proliferation of other ways to torture and kill. Terrorists are particularly frightening to most of the world population because the do not follow past rules of war. There is no war zone. Anyplace can be a target from places of worship to schools to hospitals as well as to war zones. Terrorists are very clever, manipulative, secretive, organized and often motivated by deranged religious zeal. Simply put, they are premeditated, armed and severely insane. Very predictable in their attitudes and behaviors amongst themselves, yet seemingly unpredictable as to when and where and who they will strike.
Jesus was said to have said: "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you." He said "to you who hear" but who is really listening to Jesus these days? People don't want to hear this message, just like they didn't want to hear it two thousand years ago. The message hasn't changed and it appears neither have we. Do you think these terrorists are living joyful, love filled lives? Obviously not. So what do they really need - more hatefulness? No. They need love and tenderness. Without it they will continue to do what they are now doing.
These terrorists are the negative spiritual teachers of our time. People who act out violently do not love themselves. And when they are punished for acting out, it only goes to prove to them that they are justified in hating themselves and so they continue to act out because there is no reason not to. And so, the cycle continues. It is basic psychology.
How many children who have been punished severely turn into juvenile delinquents and then become prison inmates, only to be released and start the same cycle over? The prison system doesn't work in the US. For many inmates, prison is just a place to learn how to be better criminals inside and out. Recidivism is high. How can it be otherwise when their rights are taken away and they are stamped with a convict label? And what affects them affects their wives or husbands and children and therefore the larger communities and society as a whole.
How many of us will do good for terrorists, bless them and pray for them? It seems very few. The same goes for those juvenile delinquents and prison inmates, for criminals and drug addicts who act out, for the violently mentally insane. And who would Jesus be hanging out with if he were alive today? All of the above, including terrorists, if he could find them. That's how he got into trouble in the first place, but that did not stop him in his quest to love and teach all the people he came in contact with.
The answer to how to deal with terrorist is simple, but not easy. And it is not to stockpile weapons in your home, nor to go on raids or to bomb their homes. When you find them, capture them, not with weapons, but with sedation guns. I mean we do this with large potentially ferocious animals, why not with humans? Go on a mission to capture as many as you can and keep them in locked down communities, but not as prisoners, rather as severely mentally ill patients. A closed healing community can be for them a means to change deeply from violent animals perpetuating the cycle of violence, to peaceful, loving human beings. It is the same system that should be applied to transforming prisons. If this were openly done on a large scale, the word would get out across the world.
For those who found success through this method within the closed system, they would become a profound resource for the world, especially the communities within the countries they grew up in. They would know all about their home and their people. They would know how to reach those still caught in the cycle of self-hating violence. If they were brave enough, they could be allowed to return home to spread the news. Of course, they would be targeted and would have to, like Jesus, be willing to lay down their lives for peace. They would be truly spiritual teachers, peaceful warriors.
Jesus said to do to others as you would have them do to you. He said it is not a great thing to be kind to those that are kind to you because really anyone can do that. The aspiration is to be more like God, who is compassionate to all people, regardless of what they have done or not done. And that means, now more than ever, to love those that abuse you. To become the tolerant, loving, compassionate beings God has always meant us to become. Is it hard to potentially lay down your life for peace? Of course it is! But wouldn't it be worth it to pave the way for future generations to live in a peaceful world? The terrorists may not know it, but they are sending out a world wide call for peace on earth. They are challenging all of us. I say, let's step up to the challenge and change ourselves first.