13 May 2017

The Soul Of Compassion

The Soul Of Compassion

I call this photo "compassion," because to me, this is what compassion would look like if it were a pansy greeting the morning sun. For a few minutes after sunrise, the run turns these hardly flowers translucent, and captures the light in a very soft and beautiful way.

This is what compassion feels like and looks like to me, if it were a flower. Compassion keeps hearts from turning to stone.

Posted in General

The Weight Of Man: The War Against The Happy Savages

The Happy Savages: Learning To Say No

Men have always made me uncomfortable,  and I have always struggled to be at ease around them.

In my life, I have been heartened by the power of the gentle men – Gandhi, Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Dr. King, Pope Francis. there is something shocking and wonderfully stirring about them, but it is also true that they are quite rare, and their humane works and instincts are overwhelmed by the violence depravations and conquest the vast majority of men in power commit every day.

They are much admired in their lives, quickly forgotten in death. But the philosopher Rousseau wrote of the "happy savages," the men who had absolute freedom to live as they pleased and dominate the world for many thousands of years. Their genes seem to live on.

Just look at what passes for our own news any day.

Sigmund Freud and Erich  Fromm, two of the great thinkers and analysts and philosophers of the 20th century, wrote often about the aggressiveness of man, and of their biological hostility to one another.

In a time when many people men are doomed to wage war, dominate one another and women, and perhaps destroy the planet,  their studies seem especially relevant to me. I can hardly bear all the posturing and threatening and cruelty of men in our time.

In a recent writing class (all of the students are women) there was almost universal agreement among my students that no man can really understand what it is like to be a women in a world that men continue to dominate.

Everyone of them had an awful story to tell about what a man had done to them, or tried to do to them, from sexual assault to control to diminishment, trivialization and abuse.

I did not respond, but I wanted to tell them that many men suffer at the hands of men as well. I am one of them. I know many others. In fact, I think most men have also suffered at the hands of fellow men, it is just not much talked about, as men have failed to ever  construct a genuine movement.

Freud believed that men are driven by two biologically driven impulses: the craving for sexual pleasure, and for destruction. The aim of his sexual desire, wrote Freud, is complete sexual freedom, that is, unlimited sexual access to all women that he might find desireable.

Freud maintained that primitive man never had to cope with the idea of "no," and there were, for most of human history, few or no restrictions to his sexual desires or drive for violence. "In fact," he wrote, primitive man knew nothing of any restrictions on his instincts.." Across the globe, men fight almost desperately to retain this freedom, they dismiss any real challenge as political correctness, a passing political fad.

In America, this intensifying conflict becomes more fraught and evident every day. in my mind, it is the true struggle of our times.

Modern man, argued Freud have been forced to exchange some of that freedom and happiness for a measure of security. But Freud believed that a basic and ingrained hostility still exists between men and other men.

I believe that is so, and I cite all of the evidence in my own life, and in the news every single day. This hostility is embedded deeply in our political and civic structures and in all of history. Generally, women do not start or fight wars or fill prisons to overflowing or commit genocide or kidnap and murder children.

Man's aggressiveness, wrote Freud, has two sources: one is the innate striving for destruction – he called it the death instinct and the other is the frustration of his instinctual desires, increasingly imposed on him by what we have come to call civilization. A minority of men sublimate their sexual desires and impulses to what is called brotherly live, but this remains, historically and now, a distinct minority.

Men, Fromm wrote, will always compete with and attack each other, if not for power and material things, then for sexual dominance. In recent  years, men have had to deal with perhaps the greatest challenge yet to their aggressiveness, a global revolution of feminism.

When I watch the news, it is simple  to see this intensifying conflict between men in power and women who are ascending in almost every political and cultural realm. Every day, I see photographs of men, and mostly white men, seeking to make decisions about and for women and even their most intimate experiences. The governing political ideology in America argues that government is too powerful and intrusive, yet again and again, it seeks almost irrationally to expand its power and control over women. If you read Freud and Fromm, it makes historical sense.

Apart from the political issues, the imagery and symbolism is overpowering sometimes, and the male instinct for conquest is, to me, inescapable.

I understand that it is difficult to be a women in a male-dominated world, but it is difficult for men like me as well. I am missing some of the genes that Freud writes about, although I do remember when I was a teenager in blooming puberty the concept of "no" was almost completely unknown to me. Still, I have never sought sexual freedom, have never dominated any woman, and have no conscious hostility to men. Mostly, I have feared them.

Perhaps because of my own difficulties, I have never really been easy around men, and most men have never been easy around me. Almost all of my painful and enduring – and sometimes brutal – struggles in life have come at the hands of men. Women are moving rapidly to seize power in politics, the law and medicine and while I doubt I will live to see them finally victorious – just consider the last election –  I hope for my granddaughter's sake that they succeed.

Feminism has always made sense to me, violence and conflict never have. Freud has no explanation for me.

But the issue is important, because it has become clear to me that the very survival of the earth depends on it, and I want my daughter and granddaughter to live freely and in security. I owe them that much.

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Poem: When No One Is Looking

I Kiss My Angel

When No One Is Looking,

I want to kiss my angel,

I thank her for bringing me love,

and an open heart,

and my sweet farm,

and my friends,

And a wonderful dog,

to walk with me,

I thank her for not teaching me to hate,

and live in fear,

or turn my heart to stone.

and for my words,

and for my pictures,

I thank her for cracking open my heart,

I swallow pride and regret,

and chew on hope and connection,

She took some of my selves and

sent them off to walk in the deep woods,

and find their peaceful place.

When no one is looking,

I lift my hand to my heart,

and blow her a kiss,

she showers me with apple blossoms in return.

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Success: Gravy, Meatballs, Meatloaf, Muenster Cheese!

Success…Meat and Gravy

I taught my writing class today, and then stopped off at the Burger Den to have some lunch with Maria and our friend Jackie Thorne, the poet. On an impulse, I ordered a small piece of meatloaf, perfect for a cold and rainy day. It hit me as I ate that this might be the perfect meal to tempt Red to eat.

I had my meatloaf with no gravy or potato or bread, just some coleslaw.

But I ordered a meatloaf with gravy to go and brought it home for Red. It had a very distinct smell. I warmed it up, put in some cheese and put it into Red's food bowl. Red refused any and all food this morning the chickens have had a lot of beef and cheese in the last few days.

I was alarmed about the food, he hasn't eaten much in days. He needed some solid food to fight off the infections ravaging his body. And I'd been through sweet potato, ground sirloin, ten kinds of baby food and many other failed ideas.

Red sniffed the bowl, circled around a bit and then delighted me by eating it, slowly, at first, and then hungrily. He ate every bit of it. I was so excited I called the Burger Den and ordered another meatloaf sandwich. When I got home, I found they had messed up the orders and given me a meatball parmesan sandwich with potato chips.

I was going to return it, but then thought better of it. The smell seed right for a a dog, even a distractable border collie. They would all rather work than eat.

Red ate most of that, also. Maria just made her own meatloaf with gravy and we'll try that out for dinner. I told I doubt she can make meatloaf as smelly and cheesy as the one Red was loving.

This was the most food Red has eaten in over a week, it may be a sign that the antibiotics are working. I want to be cautious, it has been up and down. This is surely an up.

I hope this was aBut this was a big up and hopefully a start on the pathway to real healing. Keeping my fuigers crossed.

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Robin’s Rainy Day Cab Ride

Rainy Day Cab Ride

Robin is off on her rounds in New York City today, she started off on a rainy day cab ride. I love the peaceful sleep of a very young child. She is eight moths old now and will be visiting the farm in two weeks. People have asked me what I have planned for her, and the answer is nothing.

I want Emma to rest and to let us help her rest, and I plan to show Robin to the donkeys and chickens and dogs and barn cats. I hope it will be restful for the two of them. I want them to see our lives, we don't need special trips and diversions – the farm is it, and the farm has its own magic.

I would like to march her down Main Street in her stroller, a lot of people want to meet her, and I'm good with that. I predict that she and the donkeys will bond, also her and Fate, the pirate dog.

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