I sit here with a little cat on my lap (making it difficult to type,) but I can’t keep him off for more than a few seconds. Guess he needs some people attention. Maybe I do, too. I guess we share that from time to time. The stereo is on, Christmas carols being sung in Latin, the way I learned them. I do love Christmas music – not the junky Rudolph or Santa stuff, just the classics. I have so many things I want to say yet I promised myself that I would keep this blog positive and upbeat – it’s just that sometimes it is so hard to do that, especially when we are constantly being reminded of one tragedy after another. I tried reading some other blogs for inspiration, but instead I found more sadness and heartbreak. Even the pictures of the happy little grandchildren just brought back the images of those babies just laid to rest in Connecticut. One fellow blogger will be burying her mother this week, and Christmas will never be the same for her. (My heart hurts for you, my friend.) My neighbor is on her way to Florida to bury her mother as I type these words. We buried Aunt Kathryn one year ago – she was more of a mother to me than the woman who gave birth to me (and immediately passed me off to her mother and sister.) I think of the mothers and fathers for whom Christmas will forever remind them of burying their child. And if you have never had to do that, I am here to tell you even 50 years does not erase that memory, that pain. Christmas will always hurt. Always. Sorry, but that is a fact.
I had someone (a regular reader who comments in emails not on the blog) complain that my blogs were never personal; they never told anyone anything about who I really was, what I really felt. He said, “You play your cards very close to your chest,” saying I hid in my gardens and behind the accomplishments of others, praising friends, family, even my cats. Recently he asked what a good Buddhist was doing setting up a crèche in a Baptist church! Well, I don’t see a conflict there anymore than I see any problem wearing my headscarf and slippers when I visit my friends’ mosque to honor their traditions. I no longer feel the need to persuade others to believe as I do, and I honor their beliefs and their right to them. I believe we are judged, whether by God or the Law of Karma, by what is truly in our hearts, and how we treat one another, not the name we use when we think of god, not whether we get dunked, spritzed, head bumped, have smoke waved over us with an eagle feather, or just stand in the sunlight with gratitude in our hearts… judge not lest ye be judged… love thy neighbor… do unto others… Do NO harm.
Right now I am struggling to respect all those fighting about what we must do to prevent another tragedy like Newtown or Columbine from happening again, or tragedies like Tucson, Aurora, VA Tech, or any number of other horrific crimes that make no sense whatsoever. But along with the image of all these little faces I have the image of our President shedding a tear, I mean he has kids and had to think of what it might be like to have to bury his child… but does he care about all the kids our drones kill in the Middle East? Does he shed tears for them? Oops doesn’t quite cover that. Did Bush lose sleep over all the innocent Iraqi children who were killed so he could be a War President? Did McCain think about how many innocent children would die when he advocated bombing Iran if elected? Did it matter? Do we mourn for dead children only if they are “ours,” only if we can see their little faces on TV? You can say we are powerless to save the starving children in Somalia or any other country but we are not powerless against the anonymous drone attacks we seldom hear about. That stuff is kept off American TVs.
Will taking guns away from the cowards who feel they need assault rifles to show that they are Real Men make any difference? The gun used in CT belonged to a woman who felt she had to defend her $24,000 a month alimony payments, I guess, and her huge stock of supplies for when the 99% decide to revolt. I don’t know. I do know the gun shops have made a fortune this week as they have sold out every assault rifle in stock. Oversized ammo clips have now disappeared from the shelves as they were sold out within a couple days, too. So now all the scary people have guns and guns to defend their guns. Wonderful. The boy that did the killing (I refuse to honor his name) had tried to buy his own guns but was refused. So, he did the next easiest thing, he took his mother’s guns, killing her in the process. If she hadn’t had them in the house, those children might still be alive. But, she bought them for “protection.” Didn’t work out too well, did it.
Put armed guards in the schools, they say. Didn’t do any good at Columbine, did it? Arm the teachers, they say. Well, I guess I am glad I am retired, I don’t think I would want to have to carry a gun to class, and I can think of several other teachers who I would not want to be around if they had guns. Funny, I remember when I first started teaching, the boys often carried their guns in the back windows of their pick-up trucks because they had been hunting before school or planned on going as soon as school was over. No one got their panties in a bunch over it. Ah, but times have changed, haven’t they?
Get rid of video games. Get violence off the TV. I would vote for that and I have no doubt that both things contribute to the problem. After all, if you spend hours killing people for relaxation (?) or recreation (?) it seems a small step to doing it for real. We seem to thrive on killing. What’s with that? Can we find no other entertainment but in killing someone or something? One blog advocated that the kids who loved killing on video games get themselves to the nearest recruiter and go to one of the countries where we are currently killing people and get it out of their systems. Having a real bullet coming back at you ought to do something for you. But it seems these big old macho men don’t do well when they look into the faces of those they have killed, if only in their imaginations, as nearly 100% of the GIs that return to the states and then commit suicide have at least one or 2 notches on their gun barrels. I guess it is harder to deal with having really killed someone than they thought it would be.
And then the other thing no one wants to talk about – we are a nation of druggies. No, I am not talking about coke or crack at this moment, I am talking about curing every problem with one drug or another starting with giving our kids antidepressants. No, no one wants to talk about that because chances are the person you are talking to is taking them, too. But, all these kids who committed these atrocities were on various antidepressants. They were medicated because someone deemed them mentally ill. One blogger suggested we lock up everybody who needs drugs in order to function in society. OK. Then our next newest business in this country will be building and staffing these huge institutions. That is assuming we can find enough folks not on some psychotropic (legal or otherwise) to build and staff these places. Then we have those who self-medicate with booze and illegal drugs. Lock them up, too? I tell you, it is going to be lonely around the old hood.
So, now that I have ticked off just about everyone, what is your solution? And please don’t tell me it is all because we don’t have organized prayer in school anymore – no one stops YOU from praying with your kid before he or she leaves for school in the morning – then you will have control over what that prayer says. And isn’t that truly the parent’s responsibility to teach their child, to pass on their religious traditions? Do you want me, a Buddhist, to teach your kid how to pray in school? Do you want my friend, Trish, to teach them to cross themselves and start each prayer with “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” or to add a couple Hail Mary’s to the school day? Would you rather have one of those fundamentalist televangelists (who eventually got caught doing drugs with some boy in a motel room) pray with your child before school? Do we give equal time to the Muslim kid to put his prayer rug on the floor, face Mecca, and recite some passages from the Koran? Oh, you support Israel? Well, don’t try to make those little Jewish kids pray to Jesus. Do you want to use their prayers instead? My last school had a moment of silence for everyone to pray as they chose – as they were taught at home – or to be silent out of respect for those who wanted to pray. Prayer has NOT been taken out of the schools; it has been handed back to the PARENTS to train their kid to pray and not to some stranger to impose their prayer on MY child. Prayer is brought to school every day in the hearts of every child who has been taught to pray by his parents.
How do we change where we seem to be going? Kids killing kids, day care providers coaching 3 year olds to fight one another so they can post it on YouTube, neighborhood “Protectors” shooting kids coming from the corner store... kids and adults spending hours blowing up imaginary people on video games, and the “quiet” crimes, the bankers and politicians, the businessmen who rob the rest of us as they lie and hide their money in Swiss banks or the Caymans. How long can we convince our young men that they’re “fighting for our freedom” by patrolling poppy fields in Afghanistan?
Tomorrow is Christmas, and no, I will not be celebrating it in any traditional way. I will be spending much of the day alone and spending it in serious prayer for Peace, a return to sanity, and a prayer that folks might hear the true words of Jesus – words of love, love thy neighbor, do unto others as you would have them do to you – not do it first so they don’t get to do you… those were the things He taught. Man made up a lot of the rest of the story for power, for ego.
I will be spending part of the day between a couple of churches that will be opening their doors for those who will be struggling with a day that does not necessarily bring joy to them, but a day when they will be struggling to stay clean and sober. I will take my sobriety, serenity, hope and love and give it freely. If there are some who are hungry, I will take them and feed them. Giving someone love and acceptance, understanding and compassion beats the hell out of all those nicely wrapped packages under a tree somewhere. As the old saying goes, What Would Jesus Do? The same thing the Buddha would have done.
May your Day be filled with Love and Peace.