Thursday, November 27, 2008
Appreciation and Intervention
Today is Thanksgiving: I still cultivate the spirit if not the myth of the Pilgrims sitting down to eat with the Native Americans. I honor the idea of the Native Americans receiving appreciation for helping the Pilgrims to cultivate corn, squash and such -so that everyone could survive through the cold New England winter. As it turned out, the Native Americans were swept down the river and landed in the desert to receive a thorough drying out. And I'm sorry about that from both sides of the genetic fence; genetically being part of the "victor and vanquished" blood-line (-as Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy would say about Mariah). The holiday's irony is heavy on my mind today and I woke up thinking about the Dalai Lama.
Have you ever wondered how the Dalai Lama can continue to fight for his country's culture-it's continued existence in Tibet- while the Chinese continue to destroy any remnants of Tibetan autonomy? (He is pictured here at a World Peace ceremony.) If you listen to him speak on his feeling/thought toward the Chinese, it takes great attention to comprehend his practical philosophy. I hold onto his words with intense focus and just miss the action part. I want to know what he means because I think that I have lost my mother to the same community apathy that caused Tibet to fall; or that allowed the genocide of the Jewish during WWII. How do we as a human community resist violence without triggering more violence? I have had this question on my mind since I was in the US Navy many years ago, and it continues to return again and again to my thoughts. When my mother was murdered in Flatrock, Michigan no one intervened; and I have pondered about the silent and spoken support James Brooks, the murderer, received as he contemplated killing the lesbian couple down the street. When my husband was attacked in Condado, Puerto Rico no one came outside in answer to my screams until all danger had passed. But there was one police officer who doggedly searched the streets until the criminal was apprehended and finally convicted. When my car was knocked off the highway by a young, intoxicated, undocumented Mexican in the desert near Needles, California; it was a truck driver, who said he was Richard, who came to my rescue. Richard reported the accident (which happened on purpose) on his CB radio, waited with me while I was trapped in the car for the jaws of life/death to arrive -that's the machine used to remove people from smashed-up cars. He put aside worry that he might be caught in the possible fuel triggered flames and he stayed with me, a total stranger, in the abandoned sandy darkness. I was rescued, flown out in a helicopter to a Las Vegas, Nevada hospital and I recovered. Richard was my human angel who surpassed the ordinary and became the archangel Michael or Gabriel in response to a stranger's need. How many of us would have done the same?
So much has happened lately; there's upheaval in the world because of the bombings in Mumbai, India, yesterday. Deepak Chopra said on Larry King Live that we must take action to 'remove the cancer from our family'-he was refering to the Muslem family. (Yes, he used a medical metaphor that pointed to his doctor-MD- ethos-even though most people think of him as a contemporary spiritual healer/leader) I was impressed by his position of strength that validates necessary action while at the same time, I wondered how would this work out? What kind of action is necessary? Some of you may not know that Deepak Chopra was a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement. I mention this fact because mediators are often thought of as passive people who take no action as they sit in their "Rocky mountain high" caves and meditate. Chopra meditates. Chopra acts. I often think of the Bhagavad Gita and it's reported conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, where a reluctant Arjuna is encouraged to fight against his cousins because they are taking what is not rightfully theirs. It's in chapter eighteen, verse 59-60: If, clinging to the ego, thou sayest:, "I will not battle," fruitless is thy resolution:...thine inborn nature, will force thee to fight. ...shackled by thine own karma, inborn in thy nature, what through delusion thou wouldst not do, thou wilt helplessly be compelled to do. He decides-is compelled-to take action. As a people, we, too, are honor bound to take action to protect each other.
Yesterday, I had a personal disturbance to my own harmony with humanity; my son was robbed at a Bayamon bus stop in the daylight-in the sunlight- in front of all the other awaiting passengers, and no one intervened to help, comment, or stop the strolling bulk of Puerto Rican youth from going on his comfortable way. Though my son was threatened with death, I am thankful that he is safe. What I want to talk about is reaction/action. When my son went to the police station to file a report, during the course of collecting information about the crime, the receiving officer recommended that he lift weights to build muscle. Let me clarify, he suggested that my son put on weight-that he change his physical form- so that he is not victimized again in the future. I ask myself, would he say that to a girl? What about my petite daughter, would the police officer say, "Well, you have to start lifting weights, gain about five or six inches in height-then you won't be victimized by strangers on the streets." Would he tell someone confined to a wheel chair, :"Just get up and walk-then things like this would not happen anymore." My son is not usually a victim of crime but lately he wants to be independent and move around without his parents-as he should be able to as a member of the human and Puerto Rican community. There is no need to explain to the police officer or anyone else the medical reasons for his small stature because all human beings of every shape and size are part of humanity. I thank the universe for keeping my son safe, but I call upon people to react. We must protect each other from the takers/killers who exist in our human families. We must assert together that it is not okay to harm others on whim or to fulfill a covetous desire. We must be sure in our hearts of our love for humanity and take action to protect the innocent. Not crazy action, just necessary action. Show compassion. Offer assistance. Confine those who cannot live without violating/killing others. Assert every one's right to stand outside in the sun and be a part of the human community. And when someone is violated within your space, do something! Help them! I send blessings to all the Richard's of the world who intervene in times of crisis; who find Arjunda's courage to stop, interrupt their day, and offer solace and strength to those who are innocently victimized. Let us use our Solomon's seal of collective resistance against gratuitous bully violence as a protective amulet we wear in society. Together our consciousness must change so that we extend our heart-love to those in need; so that we learn to have compassion while we discover a cure for the violence-cancer that propagates within our inert human societies. Let us take a solemn vow to protect and love each other, always. Namaste