war and peace

and now i shall write of an angry moment, a wild moment, a moment of uncontrolled fury.

someone whom i love sent an email forward, a hate-filled forward, bashing the muslim people.  bashing all muslims as terrorists. labeling obama as muslim.  negative, despairing, labeling, finger-pointing, chest-pounding derogatory slander.

slow boil.  slow boil turning into fast boil, face turning red, heart pumping, heart palpitating, rage growing, rage singing, eradicating inner buildings, earthquaking inner temples, obliterating relatives…

ok, breathe.

ok, i won’t breathe.

i will not let the precious muslims i know be slaughtered by my precious relative’s hatred.  will not.  let the precious ones i know be terrorized by association, be limited, be ground to dust, be shredded through email forwards.

how to make personal this terrible slander?  so the sender understands what he is doing to an innocent people?  because the sender is afraid, afraid, and more afraid of that which he cannot control. 

fear sends its insidious flame into all our hearts, but shall we shiver it outward onto the other?  Shall we label an entire group of people “bad” because fundamentalists blow up buildings and kill and maim and blow themselves up in suicidal fear disguised as bravado?

i shot back ammunition of my own.  tales of muslim loved ones.  photos.  photos of loved ones so precious you want to embrace them forever.

i do not know if i should have remained silent and mature and accepting and allowing.  or if my words might shock the sender into suddenly seeing some muslims as brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts. 

i brought the knife of this truth close to my loved one’s vein.

and now sit with stilled heart, no longer pumping wildly, no longer sure, no longer sure of anything except can’t we all get along?  can’t we stop labeling?  can’t we stop, stop, stop the war which we perpetuate through these encounters, even me, even peace-loving me, who sometimes rages, sometimes furies, sometimes doesn’t know how to heal the world–or myself–in a giant inclusive hug which never ends.


16 thoughts on “war and peace

  1. In her book “Remembering the Future,” Colette Baron-Reid writes, “To despise another person is to hate ourselves, and to love and support someone else reflects back onto us.”

    Kathy, a colleague of mine shared, “When I was training to be a counselor I learned that the underlying emotion of anger is pain. This was such an eye-opener for me. If we can get to the pain underlying the anger, we can begin to heal the fuse and defuse potentially explosive situations by dealing with the actual cause.”

    She went on to say, “The thoughts I have are that anger can FEEL EASIER than allowing the experience of pain. Anger can almost feel ATTRACTIVE in comparison. Especially if a person is feeling disempowered. Then a shot of rage can seem quite seductive. I’m imagining some who’s not used to admitting sensitivity; such a person would far rather see OTHERS feeling sensitive.”

    I’ve pulled this excerpt from a section in my manuscript where I talk about hate and anger.

    • I can hear what you’re saying, Laurie. Pain is what underlies so much of anger. Addressing that pain seems the wisest most sensible thing to do. When we can…

  2. People once thought it was good and high entertainment to watch someone burned alive at the stake, never bothering to think on it. A ‘Snake Oil’ salesman once convinced that drinking Oil was good for what ailed ya too! Someone teaches garbage, someone thinks the teacher said it, so it must be valid. Some don’t think about context. Pedestals alongside doing the right thing can be tricky, at least for me.

    It is odd that humans always seem to be following blame and vilification. I feel pity and confusion about your relative, and other humans that can’t see past this particular tract. I’m glad you spoke up Kathy, for what it’s worth. I’ve found that part of walking alongside will mean there are times that I hate what I see beside me. Times where I notice differences and reasons to separate. Sometimes it’s difficult to let others be where they are and to locate the boundaries of enough is enough. Morals, ethics and values. Thanks for courage in sharing it here. It helps me keep perspective.

    • Elisa, I know. I have so much trouble sometimes of not liking what I see…especially something like this. It seemed important to express this. (Of course, why I had to call my mother and rail against said relative’s opinion is another matter…) Thank goodness for our blogs which provide a place to process things like this.

  3. Beautifully stated Kathy. I admire your courage for speaking up and for writing about it here. It sounds like you handled it beautifully considering the fury you initially felt.

    It’s so good to see some Gaia friends!

    • Helen, I’ve missed you! Thank you for reappearing. Gosh, did I feel fury yesterday. It would have swamped two boats. (And it felt important to be honest here–to write about challenging moments as well as transcendental moments.)

  4. I had a similar experience recently. I don’t think I handled it as well as you did. Although I tried not to respond in anger, I’m sure my anger spilled through and the response to that was more anger, which I have been choosing to ignore for at least a week now.

    I don’t know how to engage with people who are so locked into their fear that they pass on untruths (or lies wrapped around a teeny, tiny bit of truth). Worse yet, some of them are people I love (a sibling, an aunt, etc.). Even trying to come from a place of love (which is where I originally started, years ago) has been unsuccessful. They are so afraid, and that lead to them being angry.

    Reading this, I felt myself trying to breathe, or not breathe, along with you. One of the things I recently wrote to my aunt is that I always thought of the internet as a place where people could learn, become informed, and get to know the rest of the world and people of other cultures. I am so disappointed when one of those email forwards shows up, as it is a let down to me.

    Thank you for expressing some of what I feel when confronted with emails of that sort. You expressed it well.

  5. Robin, I don’t know that I handled it that well!! I can totally relate to what you’ve shared. And how we try to breathe through such incidences and to figure out how to respond (through the haze of our anger).

    I do want to share what just happened though. After a flurry of emails, my relative just said that he would not–ever–send an anti-Muslim forward again.

    I am crying with joy.

  6. Kathy, I understand so clearly your shock and your dismay. We have close (and very dear) family members who see the world through different eyes and who are very adament about what they believe. How do you listen to someone you love dearly and who is a good and decent person say these things? And harder still, to know that this is what they believe and how they see the world.

    I don’t get angry anymore. We sometimes talk about it. More so now than in the past. They rarely forward this kind of thing on to us anymore and when they do I turn them around and send them back. Usually with a gentle reminder or a link to an uplifting site. And because these are family members (both sides….Rick’s and mine) I have a good look inside myself to see what might be lurking in any dark corners. So many lessons ……..

    I understand your tears of joy.

    • It is hard to listen to that person, and be present with that person, when you hear words and feel feelings that seem so angry and hurt and distrusting and judging. It’s hard to know how to maneuver through it in a way that might bring forth something positive.

      I am surprised that this anger and discussion sowed such positive seeds. I am bowing deeply to my beloved relative for being able to change like this. Or at least to express the desire that he would like to change–whether he does or doesn’t.

  7. Well done for getting these feelings, these emotions and this balance out into the open, Kathy. I often say to people who think like your relative, “if they were Jewish, not Muslim, would you feel the same? If they were Christian, not Muslim, would you feel the same? If you were one of the hunted, how would you feel?”

    • Those are good questions, Val. If people are willing to think/feel outside their boundaries, surely they will realize that we are all the same inside. Blessings!

  8. Ack, I completely understand where you are coming from. I had posted a note on my Facebook profile last night in regards to the world news and will be carrying it over to my blog in a bit. Here is one of the quotes I used from Muhammad. It shows how beautiful Islam can truly be.

    “If a man finds himself with bread in both hands, he should exchange one loaf for some flowers of the narcissus, because the loaf feeds the body, but the the flowers feed the soul.”


    • That is a beautiful quote, Jessica. I think all religions contain incredible beauty and food for the spirit. It’s so often when people grab on to one aspect of a religion and blow it out of proportion that so many troubles seem to start.

  9. I’ve been in the same situation many times with relatives, Kathy. I keep these words in my head to help me:

    “As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.”
    ~ Max Ehrmann (Desiderata)

    So I try to quietly and clearly explain, usually by writing politely to them, why I disagree with them or find their assertions offensive. Sadly there are a couple of windbags in our families who we rarely see because they refuse to keep their hateful opinions to themselves.

    I’m so happy your relative expressed a desire to change! What a blessing that you spoke your truth quietly and clearly!

    • Do you think that most families always contain a few hate-mongers and a few peace-lovers? I am just wondering. In this world of duality it seems that whatever we see or attach to is usually reflected back in opposite terms somewhere around. I felt so positive about this encounter with my relative. It felt like–grace. True grace.

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