Maybe I am reading too much these days. I don’t mean the wonderful novels I have been getting from the library. I mean the news…the daily news of what the humans on earth are up to right now.
I am a visual person. Seeing images (today) of stitched up teenage boys who were beaten and sodomized with baseball bats and other weapons because they were having a relationship with another boy breaks my heart. I have tried to shake the images all day.
Yesterday, I was researching non-human primates for a lesson plan that I am writing. The Wikipedia entry for non-human primates is filled with photos and descriptions of the horrors that they are being exposed to in labs across the country. It is information I already knew and photos I have already seen and still, I cannot keep from sobbing when I see the images and look into the eyes of these innocent beings being tortured.
(I am intentionally not showing any images of what is done to these primates)
Hang in there, these different incidents are all related….trust me.
I reconnected with some old friends on the phone yesterday and they were doing what they often did when we used to hang out together: teasing me about my vegan lifestyle choice. They themselves love dogs and wildlife dearly…..but that love does not extend past the arbitrary boundary set up in their heart and mind: Animals we love, Animals we don’t love. They would consider themselves to be the most compassionate and liberal people around and yet they cannot let themselves see beyond the limits of their current circle of compassion. Vegan is a joke to them. It is non-violence and compassion…..not always easy to live up to in this world and certainly not a joke.
I cannot laugh at the suffering of the primates and other animals being tortured in labs and I cannot laugh at the horrific violence against those teenage boys.
Today, I am overwhelmed by the amount of needless suffering on the planet. JC thinks it is hormones. Probably is. But it is also the reality of the human actions on the planet on one of those days when it seeps into some little gate I have left open inside me.
A part of me wants to hide from it all and not engage in any of it….and a part of me wants to do all I can to at least have a smidgen of positive impact on this crazy beautiful painful earth.
I had a thought that if I did not have a computer or a phone, I would never have experienced any of those three incidences. I might have been in blissful ignorance of all of it.
I work hard to leap over what often feels like giant obstacles to find a way to lovingly connect with those who seem like they do not care or want to know what is going on.
A dear friend of mine in Maine often asks me, “How can you keep doing this work? How can you keep witnessing the violence and suffering? Doesn’t it take its toll on you?”
I think it does take its toll. Today, while riding my bike into town to the food coop with the beautiful hills in the background, I cannot shake the images of the teenage boys. I cannot stop mourning. I cry the whole ride into the coop.
This is what happens when you decide you will look directly at life and feel it fully. Or maybe you don't decide to do that....it decides you. You cannot help but witness what is happening.
I sat down to meditate this evening. I had ants in my pants. I could not sit still. I got up and grabbed dog biscuits for Bean and put peanut butter on them and lined them up carefully in front of her. It wasn’t until I had lined them all up that I remembered, “I am supposed to be sitting on that cushion in there with my eyes closed.” I got back to the cushion and forced myself to sit still. And that is when I knew that the antsy-ness was me trying not to feel. I got as still as I could in my body and mind and the tears fell down my cheeks and into in my lap until there are no more tears. And then there is just my breath. And for the first time all day, I was not haunted by the pictures of the boy's black and blue butt cheeks with stitches the whole length of their cheeks and thighs. For the first time all day, I was just exactly where I was sitting.