War Wounds

I miss you as I’ve missed you

for a long time.

Bikinis on the beach,

angels in the snow,

getting lost looking for halvah,

sleeping on a cot

when all the hotels were full.

I remember the last sight of you

as I sat in the plane,

as you stood on the balcony

waving to me.

I knew I would never see you again.

I don’t know how or why.

Just a feeling

in my stomach

of loss and grief.

Never completing the dream

seems to be a theme

in my life.

Maybe it is for many of us.

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Kostner’s

father looks around and asks

“Is this heaven?”

“It’s Iowa.”

It looks like heaven to me,

if heaven is where you get

to live out your dreams.

I hope it is.

Narcissism

Yesterday my college classmate Jon Marc Hannibal posted the VICE News video of the torch march in Charlottesville, VA. The camera person was up so close to the marchers that I felt as if I were there. I was horrified. I could hear what people on both sides were shouting. The white supremacists/Nazis were shouting “blood and soil”, a Nazi rallying cry during the 1920’s. But some were also shouting “They won’t replace us. The Jews won’t replace us. The blacks won’t replace us.” The camera shifted to a young black woman shouting “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”
 
It was not until this morning that something clicked for me: Everyone wants to matter. No one wants to be replaced. Everyone wants to be important. And when people are raised with fear and hatred of “the other”, because of their own insecurities, that hatred becomes racism, malignant narcissism, and sometimes murderous rage.
 
In babies and very young children, narcissism is normal. In adults it’s a disorder showing excessive need for admiration, superiority, and a disregard for other people’s feelings. In Buddhism, no one is more important than anyone else. We all have the Buddha within us. We all have a heart of compassion. Whether it can be accessed is the real question. Present day psychology says that treatment can help people with the disorder, but it can’t be cured. If this is true, where do we go from here? We need leadership that can enforce restraint on those who would harm others. And we need it now.

Compassion in Action

On October 21, 1967 a 17-year-old girl stepped in front of the National Guard with only a flower in her hands. She opened her arms wide as if to say, “I have no weapons, only a flower.” In the Smithsonian Magazine article of the time, she said that at that point she felt tremendous empathy for the young men who stood in front of her. She might even have gone on a date with one of them. She realized that all of them were just human beings. She was an iconic expression of compassion in action.

It’s not 1967 anymore. It’s 2017. But we are faced with Americans against Americans again, not over Vietnam, but over racism, terrorism and hatred. A flower will not hold back the forces of hatred. Sanity, control and leadership might do so. The kind that Seth Myers spoke about the other night. I hope everyone listens to the video of him if you didn’t hear him live.

I have flowers in my garden. This is a photo of one I took today. It reminded me of the young teenager who had the courage to face the forces of violence and possibly death.
I hope we all have the courage to do so.

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