Sunday, October 10, 2010

Coming of Age in an Age of Violence

I had an idea for a post. I thought about it on the day that John Lennon would have and should have celebrated his 70th birthday. I wanted to write about what it has been like to come of age in an age of violence. So, I started to compile a list of insane violent acts that grabbed the headlines and our attention from the time that both Roger and I were young. The list was grim: Auschwitz; Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Medgar Evers (killed by the Ku Klux Klan); Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley (the four young girls killed by the Ku Klux Klan in a Mississippi church bombing); President Kennedy; Goodman, Cheney, and Schwerner (three Civil Rights Workers killed by the Ku Klux Klan) Martin Luther King; Bobby Kennedy; Alison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, William Knox Schroeder (the four students at Kent State killed by the National Guard) ...(fill in your own memories here)...168 dead in the Alfred P Murrah building; the World Trade Center. The list is truly endless.
But why did I want to write about this stuff? It's so bleak. I stare out the window at the most beautiful trees and meadows, birds and squirrels, frogs and bugs. Even in the face of such tranquil loveliness, I find myself wondering if there is there a legacy to such violence that I should be worried about? Is that what's nagging at me?
Maybe it was seeing the above-photograph of Richard Iott, running on the Republican ticket against Marcy Kaptur in Ohio, posing as a Nazi officer for some fun-filled World War II re-enactment. Maybe it's hearing a former vice-presidential candidate offering her insane and dangerous advice in the face of some perceived"defeat"--"Don't retreat... reload." Maybe it's our fellow citizens showing up at public political rallies with guns. Maybe it's that abortion doctors are still being murdered. Maybe it's young gay teens being bullied enough to end their own lives.
Is there an undercurrent of violence that we have simply become inured to, so we quietly sit back and observe, feeling powerless to challenge or change? When our fellow citizens say they want their country back, what exactly does that mean? Would they feel it necessary to kill me to get it? Am I the enemy? Are you?

I can't help but wonder about this stuff, and I have to admit I am rattled by it. I don't want a Tea Party take over our country. What I think they want, I don't. What they think is true, is not for me. What are we to do short of getting our own gun? Truth be told, I wanted to write gub here for a much-needed laugh.

But really, what are we to do?

And, I haven't even mentioned that other kind of reckless violence we have done to the planet. Here's our five-second, off the top of our heads list: Love Canal; Three Mile Island; Chernobyl; Bhopal; and Prince William Sound. Don't get us started.

Why can't we change the direction we seem to be headed?

Our personal life update: Roger is back on the Xeloda chemo and is starting week two. He is feeling well, going out on hikes and working in the yard. The rash seems to be receding and is not bothersome at all. We planted over a hundred garlic cloves and will be heading back on Monday to Peaceful Valley for more. We bought a 2005 Subaru Forester in preparation for winter. Life is good.


  1. Robin, I don't know how to deal with a culture of violence that seems to be maturing into a hopeless march toward an irrevocable moral abyss. Maybe the only way to stay sane is to retreat into our own lives and wait it out. Perhaps the next generation, or the one after or the one after that, will turn the tide. Perhaps not.

  2. violance aside for a minute, the first mantis looks like she has eggs in her.
    So glad Roger is doing well even on chemo.
    and the vid could be me and my awful handwriting LOL!

    ok violance, it is or seems to be the way of humans, humans are violent creatures.
    not an excuse I just feel it is a fact.

  3. So glad you including the video clip! Humor is one of the best ways to cope and react to the crazy world of violence. I don't think we'll ever be free of it -- not in this country or anywhere else on earth.

    We just keep doing what we're doing, because it's the right thing to do. When the horror becomes too much, we seek solace where we can. We keep cultivating the good, wherever possible.

    When thank goodness there are thoughtful people out there, as well, and that we are not alone in this.

  4. I am not sure that our culture is more violent than it has been in the past. But I am mindful that I need to be an instrument of peace. Even when I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. It's not easy.

  5. Oops "anonymous" was me.

    And "yes" to TaraDharma. Yes!

  6. We can only change it when we care and they don't want us to care. We can't let them win and so we have to face what we would rather not to avoid something much worse.

  7. I wish I had answers, Robin, but of course I don't! I certainly feel exactly as you do. It's scary and I've seen it, watched it grow since I was a child in the late 30s. I'm glad your lives are going well in spite of these concerns and the good things are what we sometimes have to focus on or we lose sight of them and find ourselves overwhelmed by the nightmares, we are all to well aware of!

    Sending good thoughts and lots of love your way. Hope you have a good week!


  8. Someone I've come to know through this magical world is at "The Cove" right now in Japan and just sent a pic of 15-20 dolphins trapped there...she said the fisherman are screaming at her and flipping her off.

    I can't help but think that all the things we allow to happen to the creatures of this Earth will be visited on us...

    Beautiful post!

    Hug Roger for me...


  9. It's hard to turn off those voices that remind us of so many awful things. And so many idiots in the world who take the podium and talk to the other idiots who listen and follow blindly.

    I isolate myself from a lot of it. I raised two wonderful and responsible children who care about others and the earth. I give to charities that I know are doing good work globally. That said, sometimes I just can't get it all out of my mind. Like you I worry and wonder.

  10. Robin, I worry all the time about the language and sounds and smells of violence all around us. The Tea Baggers do not represent me or my values at all. I fear for my children, and their children. Like many others, I support organizations that work toward peace and environmental harmony, and I have tried to raise my children with the same values.
    I see violence daily, simply in the way some adults communicate with their children. No wonder the kids grow up to be bullies and gun-toting jerks. They learn violence very young. A simple YANK! of the arm to get a fallen child up is a clear message. The ever-present "SHUT UP!" thrown at them in public (I worry about what is said behind closed doors) teaches them to be violent.
    Oh, don't get me going. I live in one of the most violent cities in the U.S., and I see too clearly how it is created...
    Peace to you and Roger

  11. What a thoughtful post. I agree - if people just accept it,the violence will only escalate. We all need to do something to stop the madness now.

  12. Lately it seems as if Hate has become totally acceptable. We used to care about others feelings and rights. Those who got thrills from hate stayed out of the limelight and lurked in the shadows. Now it is as if they are getting more and more vocal and bold. Sadly some of these we will see on the ballots this year.
    I know we out number them. We have to become proactive and quit being specatators.

  13. I know people who say, Oh, I never read the news or watch it on TV, I don't want to hear about all the awful things going on. Well, I think it's bad to ignore it, to pretend it isn't happening; I'll bet a lot of people in WWII era Germany did that.
    I think it's imperative to call the evil-acting humans on their behavior, whether it be material crimes or physical violence. Otherwise they'll think they can get away with it. And there are plenty of them who "smile and smile and are villains", trying to cover up.
    My dad always said human nature would have to change in a significant number of people before the human race got any better. There are some of us who at least are aware of that.
    Anyway, enjoy this lovely autumn, and those fabulous mantises!

  14. Hi Robin...I always find your posts so thought provoking, so here's the thoughts..
    1. We get the government we deserve- meaning if we don't vote we have no right to complain...and the Conservatives in Canada (read Republicans in US) are better at getting the vote out.
    2. I respectfully, truly, submit that violence in entrenched in the American constitution as in, " the right to bear arms" ...In Canada, our constitution gives us the right to "peace, order and good government"
    That is not to say that there's no vilence here of course, but gun control is law here. You will never, ever walk into a grocery store and see men carrying guns. (Scared the crap out of me in a Safeway in Phoenix -and the irony was not lost on me either!)
    3. Fox News is the dumbing down of North America - we get it here too, and I can't stand watching I don't. But sadly, many people feel it empowers in, I can't read, but at least I can get the gist of the people talking on the TV,so I know what's going on ( ignorance is truly bliss)
    4. Is there an answer? Turn off the TV. Learn to read. Help others learn to read.
    5. Never give up.
    Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! We still have much to be thankful for.

    PS - word verification? combloc!

  15. I'm so glad the rash isn't bothering Roger. WIth luck it will stay that way as he continues the chemo.

    Woody Allen: I guess I'm one of only two people in the world who are boycotting him ever since he slept with his daughter. The other person is my friend who is a psychotherapist who works with traumatized children. I couldn't bring myself to click the link.

    The violence is scary. Even the non-violent side (the Democrats) is showing a psychopathic unconcern for the well-being of regular folks. Beyond a doubt, the rabid right is well-funded by the ultra-rich and by corporations. It's no wonder that they dominate our corporate (including so-called public) media. The Democrats have been spineless since they took office and have shown little interest in fighting for the "little people" who put them into office.

    I'm pretty sure I posted this poem before here, but it's about the contrast between the violence and evil that humans are capable of, and the heartbreaking beauty that surrounds us:

  16. CC - thanks for sharing the poem

  17. Ellie and I were talking this morning about the sense of mourning that we carry around with us. In part, I think, it has to do with age, the fantasies of youth that we have not fulfilled. But in part, too, with the state of the nation, a sense of frustration, of incredulity that we have learned so little from the more than ample lessons that you cite. Glad to hear the Roger is managing to tolerate chemo with such grace.

  18. Recently I picked up a book calledWill War Ever End? A Soldier's Vision of Peace for the 21st Centuryby Captain Paul K. Chappell, U.S. Army, who spoke at Bellingham's Whatcom Peace and Justice Center not too long ago. Heartening.

    Humor is a spiritual tool. Thanks for your sense of humor!

    We also came of age in the age of Rosa Parks and countless others who are still with us in spirit, still encouraging us. When things look grim, I think of them.

    Good to hear that you and roger are doing well, ready for winter and looking around and seeing that life is good, regardless.

  19. We are not as gun-happy up here in Canada but our current government is so filled with deceit that I cannot believe that anyone intelligent voted for them. Yes, we have lived through much violence in our lives but the fact that the U.S.A. managed a bit of sanity in electing Obama is a ray of hope even if his ideas are not going as hoped. Maybe our grandchildren will do better?

  20. aWe are not as gun-happy up here in Canada but our current government is so filled with deceit that I cannot believe that anyone intelligent voted for them. Yes, we have lived through much violence in our lives but the fact that the U.S.A. managed a bit of sanity in electing Obama is a ray of hope even if his ideas are not going as hoped. Maybe our grandchildren will do better?