Everyone is aware of the multiple attacks that happened in Paris this past week. The saddest part is that this was not the only horrific act of violence to occur. Two suicide bombers walked into a Beirut marketplace a day before the Paris attacks, which resulted in 44 dead and 200+ injured. Many deaths in the African villages of Ndassima & Mala (as part of ongoing religious violence) took place Monday. Tuesday saw dozens killed in a bombing in Nigeria, as well as a Russian jet destroyed by a bomb over Egypt. Add to that the seemingly endless string of fatal incidents here in the U.S. – whether they be incidents against law enforcement…by law enforcement…or yet another mass shooting.
The World as a whole is under siege by these and other assaults. This fire of violence has only been fueled by the irrational, fear & hate filled reactions by those who’ve heard of them. The masses are rejecting the idea of taking in Syrian refugees for fear that they will be terrorists. The majority of comments I have seen on social media have been disappointing to say the least. Many have come from our pool of G.O.P. presidential…candidates, but the number from regular everyday folks of all walks of life and faiths (including pagans) is overwhelming.
What people in this country seem to be forgetting is that refusing these refugees dishonors the values of this country. The Statue of Liberty tells us this herself.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It is up to us to end the violence. Each and every one of us, as individuals, holds some level of responsibility on the journey to world peace. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was asked about his view of the Paris attacks. He commented on the levels of violence and bloodshed of the 20th century and concluded that this century’s violence is in effect a spill-over of those acts. So, what should we do? His Holiness says:
“People want to lead a peaceful lives. The terrorists are short-sighted, and this is one of the causes of rampant suicide bombings. We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.
We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.”
I think that’s some pretty good advice. We need to work for peace, and we need to start at home, and EXTEND that spirit of peace beyond that of our friends and family. Rain compassion down on those who need it. Do something to help someone in need. Let go of any attitudes that make you question whether or not someone in need “deserves” help…just help.
Forget about the concepts of “Us” and “Them” for we are all one. “Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace…”
I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. So let’s all Imagine, and Give Peace a Chance.
I have not posted in a long while. It’s been a tough year, and the last few weeks have been particularly difficult…and will probably continue to be so. But, this week I feel the NEED to write, and I’m going to warn you now, this could be my wordiest post yet.
Yesterday, as anyone who hasn’t been living in complete and total seclusion knows (therefore if you’re reading this you are not one of those unlikely few) Robin Williams took his own life. Many of you may feel as though you are sick of hearing about it and that is, of course, your prerogative…but I need to bring it up, because it hit me monumentally hard.
It may seem silly to some, especially since I don’t normally subscribe to “celebrity worship”, but I always identified with Robin. Like many of you, I grew up watching him on Mork & Mindy. He never failed to brighten my day. I was one of those who would get mocked for being a bit different. I had an extra curvy spine due to scoliosis, walked on my tip-toes, had freckles, was goofy and awkward, and my opinions didn’t always fall in line with everyone else. So to see Robin bring Mork to life every week, and to have Mindy and the others love him despite his odd behavior, and sometimes because of it, meant the world to me. Mork was nowhere near “normal”, and that helped…a lot.
Later on, I watched his stand-up and learned that not only was he funny, but he was incredibly intelligent. I was also never confused at how he was able to connect A to B by way of L, M, D, R, Sasquatch and the square root of 144. As someone with a completely non-linear, A.D.D. riddled brain I could see and understand his train of thought. The comedy he wrote and performed also let us know he had his own demons to fight…and that although he was laughing, it was indeed a fight. Most importantly, though some of our struggles were different, he let me know I wasn’t the only one struggling…and it helped.
I have suffered through varying degrees of depression for most of my life. Some periods were darker than others. Yes, suicide was contemplated, and attempted. The reasons behind the attempts seem silly now, but the feelings that those reasons spurred into life were overwhelming and all consuming. Luckily, I had enough friends that gave a shit, and they helped me climb out of the depths.
The years went on, and my struggles continued. Through it all, Robin was there with a new role. Whether the film was a comedy or a drama, his portrayal held a bit of both. I could always see, in those moments when his character was contemplating this or that…dealing with adversity…dealing with tragedy…struggling with identity, that he was drawing from his own experiences. Not old experiences of his younger days, but the day to day struggle to just get through the day, and to feel as though you deserved to have done so.
So, to me, Robin Williams represented Hope. Hope that it gets better, hope that I can get through it…because “If Robin can, anyone can.” Unfortunately, it was too much for him on that day…he was unable to ride that dark wave to the shore where he would have felt stable again.
I am not the only one who was shaken to the core by the news. Nothing I feel can possibly compare to what his friends and family are going through, but that does not make the pain that I and others are feeling any less real.
Today I decided to remember his brilliance by watching some of his movies, reading some of his quotes, and creating a cover photo for my facebook page that features him and a quote. I also decided that it’s time to stop looking to others for Hope. I need to find it within myself…and I think I have. Robin is still an inspiration. He hung on for so many years, and provided joy and kindness to so many along the way. He was compassionate, he was generous, he was not the Norm.
So many with depression say things like “I just want to feel normal”. Through all that I have been through, I have never even entertained this notion. Why? Normal is defined as “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”…Who wants to be “typical”? I don’t, that’s for sure. I don’t believe that everyone should embark on this Quest to be Normal. That’s just setting yourself up for a whole heap of self-loathing and living a dull life. Trust me, these are not good things for the one who is severely depressed. I think what we are really looking for (but may not be able to voice) is a Quest to Acceptance & Understanding…a Quest to Self…a Quest to Peace.
As we that struggle continue on, we will have good days, and bad. We will know others that shall have the same. Remember as you move through your life that just because someone is smiling and laughing, it doesn’t mean they are not suffering. Everyone suffers, to different degrees, but everyone does. So whether or not you know someone is dealing with mental illness, be kind. Show compassion. Listen. Reach out sincerely. Share your own experiences if it seems like it will help, and keep your mouth shut when it won’t. Offer distractions. Be supportive.
Whatever you do, don’t tell someone to just “get over it” or to just “be happy”…if it were really THAT simple, don’t you think we would have tried that already? Ask how you can help, do not tell them they’re being silly, or that they just need to “Pray more”. Granted, I’d say a good 99.9% of you reading this are pagans, and pushing prayer isn’t usually something we do…but, sometimes it happens. lol
Yes, a person’s faith – whatever it may be – may help from time to time…but it is not a cure. To try and peddle it as such is irresponsible, and could prove to be outright dangerous should one’s prayers not be answered in a way they would like.
If you are suffering, reach out, write or speak your feelings to someone (it sure helps me at least), do what makes you happy, avoid alcohol when you feel yourself sliding into the pit (even if you’re NOT an alcoholic…it can lead to bad things), sing, paint, crochet – whatever floats your boat….and if you need to cry for a while? That’s ok too. There is no one “magic treatment” that will make all your troubles disappear. All we can do is survive them. Just like that old Zen Proverb says “Fall down seven times. Get up Eight”.
Striving for “Normal” is just making yourself feel as though YOU aren’t good enough, but you know what? YOU ARE! As a dear friend likes to say “Let your Freak Flag fly!” Embrace what it is that makes you, YOU. Celebrate your differences, because if everyone was the same, we would never have any change and there would be nothing new. Nothing would ever get better… everything would be boring. Who the hell wants a life that is stagnant and boring?? I don’t.
“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” The Doctor (From Doctor Who’s: Vincent and the Doctor)
Add to your own Pile of Good Things as often as possible, be sure to add to the good piles of others as well. If it all starts to feel like too much, PLEASE, seek help. It may feel like nobody CAN help, but reach out anyway.
I wish you all Peace, Love, Understanding, and the continued Strength to find out how Amazing you can be.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-4673
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386