I reflect on the years I’ve accumulated. Of the many vignettes, memories, scenarios, I recall a theme pondered and talked about countless times: men, to do the right thing. Several factors have always traveled along with this issue, through the generations; one of those factors being shorterm gratification compared with longterm gratification; another cause being fatigue (mental and physical); and yet another, problematic rationalization versus clarity of thought connected to good ethics, honorable character. So, the original thought, “Men, To Do The Right Thing”, leads into these factors.
- Shorterm gratification. In the realm of relationships and marriage, shorterm gratification can lead to trust broken, betrayal, lies. Sounds harsh, yes? But, not uncommon. Here is a, possibly, oversimplified picture of what this looks like is. Two individuals are in a relationship; they have a few arguments over a short period of time; one of the individuals chooses to experience being with someone (seemingly) immediately fulfilling, no (visible) complications, (all in secrecy). Eventually, the truth comes out and the unfatihful one has a choice to make.
- Fatigue and clarity of thought. In the context of a relationship, where a man becomes mentally and physically fatigued over a period of time (caused by any number of catalysts), resulting in his diminishing attention to his wife and her needs. His apathy slowly increases in proportion to his diminishing level of attention to his wife. Here is my question: will this man recognize what is happening and make crucial changes to avoid further pain to his marriage? What makes this a difficult situation is the power of negative momentum. My own paraphrased definition of the Law Inertia is this: “An object in motion will continue unless acted upon by an external force.” So, what will be the external force, for this man, to keep him from going downhill, inevitably crashing with great chaos.
- Lastly, I consider rationalization and clarity of thought. By the way, I truly believe that all three of these areas overlap, to differing degrees. Here is where my mind goes, with rationalization. I think about the workplace. A man is intensely pressured by his supervisor to increase his numbers reflecting a higher level of productivity. His coworkers do not seem to be having any difficulty. So, the man in question asks one of his coworkers to help him think through what needs to happen to get his numbers up, where they need to be. The coworker shows him some “shortcuts”, and points out some steps that “the other guys don’t waste their time on. There is some distinction about what is policy and what the rest of the team is doing, he chooses the latter, to get on board with what works, regardless of policy. In this context several factors are at play: rationalization, fatigue, and the shorterm gratification.
When / if a man comes to a fork in the road where he realizes he chose unwisely, either the man fully embraces his mistake, or he glosses over, minimizes, dismisses, rationalizes. The good news is that one can learn from his “bad call”, and then press on, keeping in mind that he does not want to repeat his mistake. The bad news is that one can become, gradually, more submerged in his pattern of bad choices. His conscious becomes a bit more numb, his focus changes towards the shorterm gratification, the rationalization process, moving away from clarity of thought. Some believe that our world is moving faster; not in the sense of physics, but in the way we process information, the higher expectations placed on all of us, and the higher costs for (almost) everything. True, should not go into a rationalization mode, and say there is an excuse for our breakdown in choices. Having said that, I believe the … higher velocity … brings real challenges to howe live, and what we do. I have known too many men over the years who have lost their marriages and/or their careers because of bad choices. This week, I found myself thinking about the pain these men and their wives have gone through, in these situations. My heart, truly goes out for them. It is a wake-up call for, to do my best to make wise choices.
On the other side of the trees, we have seen some beautiful, cloudless nights this week. Clarity, to see things more clearly, frees us up to think. So many times, what we are looking at is hiding what is real, what is authentic. Fear is real, overt or covert. Hidden fear takes on different identifiers. These guys … the Mudmen … the Holosa … live in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, outside a village, “Goroka”. The story handed down, through four generations, is that an enemy tribe defeated the Asaro Holosa, who fled into the Asaro River. At dusk, the enemy saw them rise from the muddy banks covered in mud, and thought they were spirits. The enemy fled in fear, and the Asaro Holosa escaped …
and returned to the village, not knowing the enemy tribesmen were still there. The enemy, terrified by what they saw, ran back to their own village and held a special ceremony to ward off the spirits.
The Mudmen could not cover their faces with mud; the tribes of Papua New Guinea thought that the mud from the Asaro river was poisonous. So instead of covering their faces with mud (thought to be poison), they made masks from pebbles and muddied water, heated from fire. The Asora Holosa became known as “the Mudmen”. The masks have unusual designs, such as long or very short ears either going down to the chin or sticking up at the top, long joined eyebrows attached to the top of the ears, horns and sideways mouths. Masks emerged, for the Asora Holosa, to overcome their fear, and to hide their fear. The Mudmen’s faces were also used to create fear in their enemies. What we do in our own lives, to deal with our fears, oftentimes involves how we present ourselves. Masks play a role … masks of a different sort. The Mudmen feared not only the enemy tribesmen; they feared mud … that led them to these grotesque masks. I am not a Mudman, at least not in the conventional, original sense. My masks are far more sophisticated. My fears, more complex. And yet, I am a man who moves out of my strength, my courage, out of a wounded and redemptive heart. I move, from the Other Side of the Trees … then, back again.
Harrison Ford is Dr. Richard Kimble, a fugitive from the law, an innocent man falsely indicted for murdering his wife. In the movie, “Fugitive”, Chief Deputy Marshall Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) relentlessly hunts Kimble. Dr. Kimble slips down a storm drain, into the tunnels. Gerard follows Kimble, slips in rushing water, drops his gun. Dr. Kimble grabs the gun, points the pistol at Gerard: “I did not kill my wife!”. Chief Deputy Marshall Gerard’s responds “I don’t Care!”
The words “I don’t care” scream apathy, the opposite of love, a “no-man’s land”. We have no business in the realm of apathy. Adolescents I worked with years ago, removed from parents’ custody, often expressed: “I DON’T CARE!”, words that reflect apathy. For kids living in a group home, the words are, in reality, a cry from within, a challenge: “Care for me! I dare you.” These kids had very few people to stick with them. Case managers come and go; counselors come and go; group homes come and go. Some of these kids would never be reunited with their parents. When we hear apathy, something else might be happening. An alternative to vulnerability is to raise a shield of apathy, for protection. Apathy blocks an unwanted emotional reaction. Like the angry adolescent living in a group home, longing to be loved, apathy can be a challenge: “Do you really care? Are you authentic, or a poser? Or are you going to fade away?” Continue reading “Apathy: No Man’s Land”
Push. Pull. The seen. The unseen. Choices come, choices made, choices fade; sometimes we don’t get it right.
“We are all spinning plates. One is going to drop, eventually.”
Malcolm Gladwell, Blink
Some calls, better than others; tension, inherent to life. We must experience times and places of rest. To rest in the thick of the push-pull is a worthy endeavor; a restorative adventure.
“She stared at the stars like they were pillow for her mind and in their light she could rest her heavy head.” Christopher Poindexter
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” Alan Cohen / “Women show men beauty in things beyond their ambitions. Women tell men to stop and smell the roses.” Chriss Jami, (from Diotma, Battery, Electric Personality)
“Don’t you simply love going to bed? To curl up warmly in a nice warm bed, in the lovely darkness. That is so restful and then gradually drift away into sleep…” C.S. Lewis / “The best of all medicines are resting and fasting.” Benjamin Franklin
In some of my posts, I have referred to “the larger story”. We have our own unique stories: they are our own, no one else’s. It takes courage to walk out our story. Our stories are not finished. Our stories are still being written. When we get caught up in doing, doing, doing … going, going, going … We might be avoiding what it is we are … really … supposed to be doing. That is when we are in the “push-pull”, fast decisions, extra work projects, giving up some sleep, allowing our emotions to be messed with. One description of rest that I came upon years ago has stuck with me: “Rest is a discipline.” Wow, a discipline is something that one takes time to practicem because it is a priority. Just a thought.
A man, a woman, sit together, no joy … just pain. They have come to see the seer, with the hope that she will see … something. Something that the two haven’t seen. Something that will help them push through the desert, a harsh desert; and come out on the other side. The seer hopes to see well, into and through, the fog, the pain, the guardedness. The seer has every bit as much hope that the two, across from her, will be able to see … that they will see those pieces that connect with freedom.
“How important is it, to you, that you do see?”
The two appear to be stunned, as if no one has ever asked them that question. And, maybe, no one ever has. They appear to be stunned, as the question is not just a question; they are being “called out” … called out to take a step forward and see, even if they encounter something that they don’t want to see. So they run that question, from the seer, through their hearts and minds … to the point that they both ask themselves a different question, “Am I really ready to be here?”
“We want to be here, and we want to see.”
“The information you communicated on your voicemail I received tells me that you are here to work on your marriage. Depending on what that means … ‘to work on your marriage’ … it may be difficult, painful to see what is problematic about your relationship with each other. Keep your courage close, your vision alive, your hope strong. Now, let us see what we can see.”
The scenario, above, is a context of seeing; a small allegory. Allegories and metaphors are powerful, for me, in two ways: teaching, and my own processes of grappling with thoughts I am attempting to resolve. In my last post (6/24/16), I wrote about my father, Bill Davis, who had passed away that morning. The grief issue, I am indeed grappling with and attempting to resolve, but I am quite stuck. To grieve, I think, requires that I “see”; that I see well. I was talking to another therapist not too long ago. I expressed to her that … me being a therapist, one would think that I would have a good handle on grief, and how to “do it”. She said something that validated some of my cognitive disruption: “I have found that many therapists avoid grief whenever possible.” Ironic. The grief process can be quite different for each person. For me, I am seeing different scenarios where Dad was involved. And the seeing brings about some disruption, some joy, some great sorrow, some anger. But grief is not the only context for us, where seeing is so profound. Seeing comes into play, some days more than others. When I worked with at-risk adolescents, I found myself seeing something that I truly did not want to see. It takes courage to see. It is also a gift to see. I find truth in the seeing; and I find comfort in the seeing. And in meaningful relationships, we must be able to see. Throughout all of this, there is strategic seeing. If we are in the thick of ot, it is not difficult to see … that we are indeed in the thick of it. In times like that, we must dig down into our heart and soul, and see the hope … see the truth that there is a bigger picture. The chaos does not define us. That’s all for now.
An 11 year-old autistic boy kicked a garbage can because he was having a bad day. This resulted in Kayleb being charged with disorderly conduct.
A couple of weeks later, a school – police officer grabbed Kayleb, threw him down on the ground, handcuffed him, charged him with 1) another disorderly conduct; and 2) a felony.
There is an opportunity to sign a petition with Change.org:
Public School really needs to be a safe place for our kids. In Kayleb’s case, I don’t know all the facts: I was not there. But based on what information is available, it’s wrong for Kayleb to have to endure this. Absolutely wrong. Then again, there will always be injustice among children … on this side of heaven. It’s still wrong.
Three days ago I walked out to see how much snow was still on the ground. A few patches in the shady places, where sunlight filters through the trees. My thoughts were that Spring is coming through the mountains; that we had seen the last of snow. Such thoughts were in the space of obliviousness. I had not checked the weather, which according to some folks up here is a cardinal sin.
Two days ago some of the people I work with were talking it up:
“They’re saying up to two feet above 8,000.”
“Oh, it’s gonna happen. It’s going to be a upslope.”
Yesterday morning, the snow was just getting ramped up. Around noon, I had to push through my reluctance and the thick snow on the driveway. Snow blower doesn’t work, so it was me and shovel. We finally measured our driveway a while back. I would not have guessed, but its 450 feet long. There is a curve in the middle. I embraced the thick wool dungarees that I bought in 1992 at a thrift store; a t-shirt; a workout jacket; a polar fleece; wool hat; Sorrels snow boots; and some gloves (one right, and one left). I attacked the snow, driving back my nemesis (one of my nemesis), to the sides of the driveway. I felt like Gandalf, not with a staff but with a shovel, standing against the bellrog: “YOU … SHALL … NOT … PASS!!!”
By evening it was hammering pretty good. This morning, I looked out the sliding glass door at the two feet of snow. Ahhhhh. Just what I was looking for: more snow to shovel on my 450 feet steep-steep driveway. So … switching gears. The metaphor of the snowstorm connected with my heart and mind. I’ve been in a difficult season that has gone on … way too long. There have been several events over the last 7 years that have knocked me off the horse. In some ways, I have been a hiding man. In other ways I have been a wounded man. A handful of people, who know me well enough to speak candidly with me, have said numerous times over the last seven years: “T: get back in the game …”; “Get back on the horse …”; “You know what you’re supposed to be doing, so do it …” I don’t resent their counsel. They are right. And yet, I see some logic to the idea, expressed in this hypothetical question: “Why should I get back on the horse … just to be knocked off, again?” The snowstorm metaphor. I have no choice but to push back the snow. The snow cannot win. I have what it takes. As Winston Churchill said: “This will be our finest hour.” Chances are that some who are reading this post might have experienced some of the same anguish, some of the same type of dilemma. So, are we going to do this? Are we going to push through?
I am doing a re-write of a post, from another blog, about an issue I am immensely passionate about. Passion, a strange thing, reminds me of anger. Anger reminds me of a quote about anger, one I heard from my dad.
“Anger is like a sword without a handle: you have to hold it by the blade.”
Passion is sort of like anger (righteous and unrighteous). Passion can be used for good. There are times, unfortunately, when passion is not so good. My anger about this particular issue is passionate. And, as I live and breathe, as I write this post, I hold my sword-like passion and anger by the blade: carefully.
My heart truly goes out to the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of those specific Catholic priests / nuns who are sex offenders. My heart goes out, additionally, to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics … angry and saddened … for their fellow-Catholics sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns. The excerpt below from a recent story in the news, regarding victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, in Seattle, v a l i d a t e s the reality of such violence … a violence that many have attempted to hide for countless generations.
*”The Archdiocese of Seattle (agrees) to pay about $12.125 million to 30 men who alleged they were sexually abused as children and teens at two Seattle-area schools from the 1950s until 1984, their attorney said.” http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer
“The agreement comes weeks after Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.” (Same article) http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer
These words, in particular, from this man – – – Pope Francis – – – stir up my anguish:
“The Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”
Sexual abuse … happening in the Catholic Church since … the 1950’s (if not before then?) … And the Catholic Church is now recently expressing this profound observation … that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders. Why the sudden observation? Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”. My reading of this article led me to consider this question: “Is the Catholic Church leadership more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, rather than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?” Another question came up, for me: “If the sexual abuse was not exposed to the American public, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?”
And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes? “Hush Money” (the term) has been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse … to be quiet … about their abuse. “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace. Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been sexually abused? I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way. Many victims kept silent for a long time. Why? Shame? Fear of reprisal? Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”? And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests. For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but now, it is more of a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled. You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do (what does that mean?).”
The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous. Some good news in all of this is that … the “Hush Money” is exposed; sex offender priests / nuns are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known. All of this stands up against the secrets continuing.
- Secrecy …
- Is a predominant theme …
- In the depravity / violence of …
- Sex offenders …
- And the fear / shame of …
When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.
Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.
*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone.
*$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month).
*$100 million in 2005, January.
“… Donald Cozzens: … ‘by the end of the mid 1990’s … estimated … more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees.’ This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002.” http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases
Between 1994 & 2009,there have been over 1,835 victims of sexual abuse.
Settlements / legal fees between 1994 & 2009? $1.269 billion.
Here is the last piece in the story that brings about great disruption and immeasurable sadness … from this link, http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer:
Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,
“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”
REALITY CHECK, people. Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing for all of these men and women who have been victimized. For some, yes there will be healing. For others, no: there will be little or no healing. And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say … my paraphrase …
“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad. And we don’t want to hear anymore about this. Now, get out of here.”
Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.
The money …
d o e s n o t c h a n g e …
The money …
d o e s n o t g u a r a n t e e …
full healing …
The money does not guarantee that the sexual abuse will stop. So, healing for everyone? No. It doesn’t work that way.