I write. I think. I listen. I question. I hope I inspire others to do so as well.Cat Treadwell, “Wrong…?”, https://druidcat.wordpress.com/2022/04/05/wrong/
What are WE doing?
I’m trying to listen and find my path again after the world went mad. Because we’re all mad here, as someone once said. All human.
I am quoting the end of Cat’s post here to start yesterday’s blog because I think its an important reminder that we all slip from the Path from time to time. Please, if you haven’t, click the link and read what Cat has written. Sometimes, parts of the Path are obscured by a thick growth of the forest from either side of the forest, and we have to push through to eventually get to a point where we can search for its familiar feel for our footfalls. And that sometimes, the Path changes as well. Because our journey takes us across so many different lands. As a side note, the reason I am saying that this is yesterday’s blog post is because I am posting this on a Friday, having missed yesterday’s “normal” posting time. Getting ready to move takes a lot more time than I remember. Anyways…
The collective world around us has a familiar, yet unfamiliar feel to it. Familiar because we, as a larger society, have been here before. Unfamiliar, because we as individuals have not. We have Russian forces committing acts of violence against Ukrainian citizens, shades of what violent dictators have set their armies to do in the past in so many wars and conflicts. We have laws restricting people from being who they are with threats of arrest and prison time. We had a pandemic rage throughout the world with many different responses to how it was handled by all the governments. Here in the United States, we suffered through an attempt to overthrow an election through means of violence and intimidation. The world has certainly gone mad or at least feels like its spinning off its axis. As Cat asks, what are we doing?
Ok, so we’ve collectively walked off the Path and a little ways into the forest. We’ve gotten a little too deep into the trees and are starting to feel paralyzed by the numerous choices we have. We can go deeper into the trees, in a myriad of directions. Just pick one. We can retrace our steps back to the path, essentially refocusing ourselves on what we’re striving to do. We can sit down and learn to breathe again, so we can refocus and make a choice. Or to put it in a different light, we can read the stories of others. We can tell our own stories. We can refocus by retelling our previous stories to get us refocused on what we set out to do.
Our stories, the stories of all of us, are important. This week, I told some of the stories of Shadow cat, whom I just put to sleep, letting her cross the Rainbow Bridge into the afterlife where I hope to see her again. The news has showcased the stories – what little we know of their stories – of Ukrainian citizens who were tortured, killed…murdered at the hands of Russian soldiers, probably at the behest of President Putin. The news has been full of stories of how governmental control of LGBTQ+ individuals has been taken place under legislative mandates, which promise harsh punitive measures just for being who they are. I’ve read stories by baseball historical researchers who have been advancing the narratives and statistics for the Negro leagues, a part of baseball that has long been encased in shadows and darkness for a wide variety of disparate reasons. Our stories are us. We ignore them at our collective peril.
What can we actually do about what we read, what we hear, what we see? How can we help, especially when we are all being pounded to dust by rising inflation, increasingly punitive measures by right- and left-wing aspects that refuse to see any other narrative to daily life than their own or those narratives that suit their purposes? What are WE doing?
I completely grok the feeling of paralysis over the tidal wave of information, data, and perspectives. I grok the energy that feels like we’re all being bashed against the seawall as the tide rushes in. In my previous employment position, my job was to tell the narrative of the college that I worked for. How did enrollment go? What was the complexity and breadth/width of grades earned by the students? How many students achieved their academic goal of graduating with a degree or a certificate? What was the racial and gender breakdowns of those data points? What about the ages of each of those categories? What data issues do I see in the overall trends? What are the data points that are above the average? Which are below average? How does the college compare to all the other junior colleges in the state in those areas? On and on and on. Each question answered satisfies a point of curiosity but engenders three more questions that require looking into other areas that were not originally thought of in the initial set of questions. The rising tide of data slamming the issue against the sea wall. The only way to deal with this was to organize the necessary data points and pull each one-by-one. That takes time, something that is not available in our fast-moving, overly demanding world. The constant hunger for data can be relentless. The same can be said for the need for action deriving from the stories that we read, hear, and tell. As well as the overly complicated need for action.
Our world is more complicated now than it was back when I was in my early twenties. There are global treaties that entangle nations together. All of this is hard to fathom, comprehend, and act upon – a far cry from what the world was back in 1984 when I graduated high school or 1986 when I joined the United States Air Force. International alliances were easy to understand, international threats were easy to comprehend. Then the threats went from nation-states to political groups, complicating things even more since these new actors were not limited to an understood territorial boundary. Now, our world is a series of complicated treaties – political, economic, and military. Further complicating things is the deep divisions we have created between ourselves as individuals. Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat, Tory, Labourists…and a major ton of other manners to baloney-slice ourselves. We’ve created ways to see ourselves differently. Ways to dislike – and even hate – one another, simply because we believe, live, and even love differently. Anything to make us forget that those individuals on the other side are just as human as we are.
There are stories for each side. Some stories that we’ve not heard before. The stories that I have read about from players who lived during the times of the Negro Leagues are harrowing. Any bus trip to a city in the south could be fraught with danger as segregationist whites could attack a Negro Leagues team bus with impunity, just to kill an individual over the color of their skin. The integration stories of the major leagues provide some rather frightful stories. When Hank Aaron, a black man, broke the homerun record of Babe Ruth, a white man, the stories of how Aaron had to protected from death threats were amazing. That was 1974 folks. Don’t think that the sports figures of today don’t endure racism and sexism today? There are plenty of stories out there to read about it.
Part of Cat’s post talks about reading stories of people whose voices seem to rarely be heard or heeded. There are plenty of reasons why it happens – all of which are nothing more then weak excuses of why people avoid these stories. The points made in many of these stories make people “uncomfortable” with what they are reading. Perhaps that discomfort comes from recognition that we, as a collective society, still refuse to give credence to those people who are different. That their culture is alien to us. That we are only feeling compassionate to others so long as their paradigm and reality doesn’t threaten the comfort we have in our own. Perhaps, we are afraid of having those pre-drawn, chalked outlines of our differences getting us to acknowledge a stark truth we are afraid to embrace – we are all the same. Or to quote from Babylon 5:
Capt. John Sheridan : I wish I had your faith in the universe. I just don’t see it sometimes.
Delenn : Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. And as we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective.
Its true. We are all starstuff. Yet because of slight differences and variations, we find reasons to hate one another. We expend huge amounts of energy, thought and creativity towards killing one another instead of finding ways to channel all of that into ways to better ourselves, better our manner of living, find ourselves as we howl into darkness of despair. Indeed, what are WE doing??
Our stories are important. Their stories are important. Even when we don’t agree with what is being said. Even when the narrative makes it uncomfortable for us to absorb and comprehend the narrative that is being provided. We are, as was pointed out by a fictional character in a fictional space opera, the Universe trying to comprehend itself. Or at least, that’s possibly the easiest narrative to provide that makes sense to so many.
We’ve wandered off the Path. We’re in the forest where the sunlight barely penetrates the tree canopy above. We’ve sat on some nettles. Our backside now itches with the resulting rash. We’re intrigued by the beckoning darkness of the forest. Are we making a new Path, taking a new direction, assuming a new personal quest? Or do we go back to the path as we know it, and continue the direction we were going? Let’s remember, no matter what direction we take…there’s no going back into the Past. That’s gone. Our footfalls take us forward, not backwards. Much like Cat, I’m taking my time here. For me, its a time to listen. A time to see what shapes up, and then make a decision of how to proceed.
Put your lighter in the air and lead me back home“Break In”, Halestorm, from the album “The Strange Case…”
When it’s all said and done, I’ll follow the echoes
I hear you night after night calling out my name, ooh
And I find myself running to meet you