We are struggling out of a dark time.
The Age of Aquarius has dawned. There will be peace and prosperity for all. There will be no hunger or hatred. Love will prevail. The only snag in this Opus de Optimist is the pesky detail of responsibility. Who will recognize love, hold the light and pass it on? Certainly we can’t expect some dusty saints and oft-misquoted prophets to mould the whole ball of wax. This is our time, and our planet, and we are responsible for what we put in our minds and how we live our lives.
Whose job is it to hold the frequency of love and respect?
This morning it was my task to take a few bags of “camping” dirty clothes to the modern day riverside flat rock. Laundromat USA has taken the place of pounding stones and water to clear the sweat from garments of labor. I have never understood how beating anything with rocks would cleanse, but it certainly makes a rich metaphor for so many misguided efforts.
The narrow storefront held two aisles of machines in cramped space, ringed by tall-unadorned white walls and high ceilings. With two other Washers present, we did the bob and weave, avoiding all but the most rudimentary contact. “Excuse me,” and “Is this your sock?” was the only exchange. There is something a bit too intimate about seeing your delicates pirouetting about in the dryer face to hold any face-to-face conversation with strangers.
In these places of public necessity; the intersections of life travelers, I have often found pithy notes in strategic places. Direction and guidance from an invisible overseer of the laundry, thumb tacked, wrinkled missives written by hand in block print.
It’s OK to open the door
As long as you close it
A meter long TV was mounted from the ceiling, volume loud enough to be heard over dryers and humming front loaders. I initially ignored the Beelzebub over my head until I heard the sound of piteous whimpers, screams for help, pleas for mercy. Over my head glared the image of a young girl being tortured and sexually assaulted in High Def clarity. Gut churning horror reached out to wrap cold fingers of “what if” around my neck. Without warning the shadow side of humanity loomed dark and large. The media gods laughed at my shock, demanded my attention and manipulated my nervous system. Right there in the pleasant mid morning of small town USA I was played. I wanted to vomit.
Some might say “Not to worry, it was TV, nothing real here. “
Except to my nervous system, the fear was palpable, her pretend agony; visceral. Hands fisted, my heart pounding: I was having the appropriate human response to danger. Out of the three preset mammalian programs for danger: flight, fight, or freeze. I was experiencing freeze. Thankfully I have an intact cerebral cortex and I thawed fast enough to experience the next rush of emotion with all its colors.
It was anger. How could something so evil as torture be used for entertainment? I was enraged that images of such horror, evoking a fearful response are sent mindfully into the ethers, infecting innocents with violence. I felt repulsion that this cruelty to psyches is a vehicle for creating wealth for some, at the expense of all. I felt profound disappointment, realizing that some still watch the pain and terror of others for pleasure. Worse, these images go into our homes by choice, our choice.
I felt shame in our culture.
I felt the eyes of real people upon us. People who live in places where torture is a real and daily event, an inescapable part of their lives. Human to human violence is served up here in our living rooms on a big screen over the fireplace with a Crucifix on the wall.
I imagined a “tyrant of terror” tossing daily doses of fear to the masses through the TV. Hyperaroused newsrooms searching for the worst of humanity. As tame ducks on a pond, the viewers snap at the easy garbage, ignoring the riches just beneath the surface. Their wild relatives know better. Fear is the most potent weapon of controlling mammals. Too bad the tyrant is us, no one to blame but ourselves for continuing this charade of good and evil. Evil isn’t just “out there,” it exists with our permission.
Is it possible to pollute your mind? Is it possible to hold love and light in the same consciousness that contains these images? Why eat poison when there is nectar available?
I asked the other Washer the name of this atrocity.
“Criminal Minds” she said.
Her eyes moved quickly back to the screen.
“It’s terrible! How can that be on TV?!” I asked.
She appeared not to hear, the heroes were about to solve the murder with comic book dialog in flat intonation. Lost in her adrenalin nirvana, she leaned in closer to the screen, gaze unflinching. Her hands clenched and released around the hard plastic handles of her laundry basket filled to the top with neatly folded children’s clothing. Her body was trying to regulate her nervous system; but the images just kept coming.
I could see the super hero underwear; toddler size, and the tiny jeans. I imagined the big TV and the small children listening to the victims cries for help as they pretended to sleep. I asked again,
“How can that be on TV?”
She wiped sweaty palms on mechanically ripped jeans and ignored me.
Deny the bête noire his nightly meal of innocence and believe in yourself
The planets aligned, the earth shook and we all returned to center by gazing into our iPhone faces. Flood, drought, disease and miracle; we turn on the TV to monitor the catastrophe and never turn it off. The vapid and the violent have taken up residence in our homes, with our permission. They sell their fabulous elixir of emotions and hormonal highs for a high price. Are we selling our souls for a jolt of adrenalin, a fleeting feeling of being alive by witnessing the trauma of others?
I would sooner bathe in a sewer than then let that darkness in my soul.
Fight back, turn it off, and live free. Feel the real emotions: your own. In this glorious time, we all hold a piece of light; let’s shine it at each other and laugh at the pitiful darkness.
Addendum February 17, 2018
The darkness felt powerful this week. I thought of this blog written three years ago and wondered about the path we have traveled. Our constant connection to “electronic senses” mainlines a relentless stimuli of anger, fear, sorrow and even “warm fuzzy feelings.” We are emotion junkies living for our next fix, just “Tell me what to feel…”
The images from a school in Florida were real. Lives ended in senseless violence by a person whose mind was in disconnect. We could find a scapegoat. Or we could ask what part did we each play in preventing this tragedy. How can we do it differently next time?
I came back to this; fight back. Fight back with love for everyone, no exceptions. Fight back with exquisite attention to what we plant in the gardens of our mind, and the minds of our children. Fight back with actions that neutralize; answer a fearful face with a smile, and a hunched stance with a handshake. We are responsible for the way we wear the privilege of being a human being.
We all have the power to change everything.