Tag: child abuse

A Brittle Truth

incandescent charcoal

Peace and nonviolence aren’t impossible responses to terrorism. Not only aren’t they impossible, they are the only responses that can change the war games everyone’s playing. The thing is, it takes courage to stand up to terrorists without bombs, guns, or fisticuffs. Few humans have real courage. People with guns are not heroes or brave. The only real brave people in the world are those who face opposition without weapons of any kind.

People need to believe that nonviolent responses to violent attacks are impossible in order to maintain the ordered world view they’ve invested their whole lives in. Even I might believe that the only way to deal successfully with bullies is with retaliatory force if there weren’t precedent for nonviolence to remove an occupying force from an entire continent. Gandhi isn’t just a myth, my friends. He’s real. What he accomplished is real and proves the principle I believe in. I believe in it not because it’s a great idea but because Gandhi proved it was a viable one.

More than that, I have practiced it in my own life and found it to be successful.

I have told the story here before a long time ago. For the sake of the recent terrorist attacks against Lebanon, Paris, and Baghdad, I will repeat it.

In junior high school I was the recipient of spit and fire crackers lodged at my locker, while I was at my locker. I was the beneficiary of rocks and bottles being thrown at me from passing cars. Not to mention obscenities being shouted at me gleefully. High school was no different. But in high school I found myself tired of being bullied. One particular punk girl decided that my death rock flavor was deeply offensive and threatened to beat me up regularly.  I’d done nothing that I knew of to deserve her ire or threats of violence. If she was nearby and I sat on a bench she would come along and demand that I move or she’d beat me up. The kind of fuckery assholes the world over do to people.

I was scared of her. That’s a fact. So day in and day out I moved when she told me to move and avoided her whenever I could see her coming. I didn’t want to be beat up. No one offered to stand up to her in my stead. Probably all afraid of her as well. But at some point I got really tired of the threats and the constant dealing with her shit. I didn’t wake up brave or different but at some point I’d just had ENOUGH. The next time KAREN approached me where I’d decided to sit down and threatened to beat me up if I didn’t move – I said this, and this is really true though the quote I offer is probably incorrect at this point since it happened 30 years ago now.

“I’m not going to fight you so if you really want to beat the shit out of me, just do it. Do it now because I’m so tired of your threats. I won’t fight you but go ahead and beat me up-” and I stood up and waited for the beating to begin. Maybe I was less scared because I’d had the crap beat out of me by someone who was supposed to love me half a life ago already when I was 7 and lived in fear ever since, whatever, but I fully expected Karen to beat the shit out of me. She didn’t.

Instead, she decided that I was someone to admire and follow around and be friends with and ultimately she’s the reason I got punched in the face by a drunk skinhead.

Do you get the point? Because the point I’m making is, to my thinking, crystal clear.

A nonviolent reaction to bullies is not what bullies want or expect. And also, it takes fucking guts to do it and a wholehearted willingness to get beat up or killed or bombed or whatever the stakes are. Gandhi knew that. Gandhi knew that standing up to the British meant that people would get hurt. They would get killed. But he knew that a nonviolent approach would eventually demoralize the British into retreat because if the people you’re bullying and threatening and hurting don’t retaliate and you keep hurting them you start feeling like the fucking monster you are. You lash out and faced with complete acceptance and non-retaliation the whole fucking game is changed.

Non-violence requires tremendous bravery. I haven’t faced Al Qaeda. I haven’t fought the British empire. But I have faced people who meant me harm without violence. I’ve won some rounds and gotten bloody other rounds. I almost wrote that I’ve never thrown a punch, but that’s not entirely true.

In sixth grade I had the opportunity to get back at my bully of three years while she lay on the ground in a fight with some nemesis or another, a detail lost in time to me. They were fighting in the alley I always walked through to get home. When I saw my bully of three years on the ground and her aggressor egged me on to get a hit in, I kicked her when she was down thinking I’d feel some kind of satisfaction. Instead I felt sick to my stomach and have felt sick to my stomach every time I remember that moment ever since then. That didn’t stop her from bullying me.

What stopped her from bullying me was me not caring any more. This was long before Karen the rich punk and standing up to her with an invitation to beat me up. I just stopped caring about my great grade school nemesis by the time we got to Junior High.

Nonviolence is not without cost. But the cost of retaliation to violence with violence is a never-ending death toll we have to keep tallying every year in the millions. Every nation on earth continues to NOT learn that meeting violence with violence begets more violence in spite of the fact that all data supports this conclusion.

You may say “But if we don’t fight they’ll win” and other untrue gems. You may say “but if no one fights back more people will die” but I will ask you to tally all the people who will die with the way we respond to terrorism now, because that number is already unconscionably high from all borders.

Those people who say peace and love is naive and useless have never offered themselves up to a bully at full physical risk and won.

I’m willing to die standing up peacefully to terrorists. Who will stand with me? If the whole world stood up and refused to retaliate to the violence of terrorism, fewer people overall would die and terrorism would lose vital power.

I’m an atheist who believes in the power of love and peace. So much violence is committed in the name of religion world-wide. Fuck that bullshit. If you can believe in a deity, you can believe in peace and love, in nonviolence. It seems to me that should be your greatest calling card, if it’s not, you might be an extremist or a very immature person.

I’ve been punched in the nose. I’ve been punched in the stomach. I’ve been held up in the air by my hair while being punched in the stomach when I was seven years old. I’ve been attacked on the streets by a mugger. When I was a child experiencing violence I would have done anything in my power not to experience it, but I had no power. As an evolved adult I have so much more power and I use it to disengage from bullies and terrorists. I experience some residue of fear but it’s less important than exercising my power to say FUCK YOU to bullies.

World peace is achievable if everyone universally chooses to stand together across the planet against terrorism, against bigotry, against oppression. There will always be casualties, but the numbers will never end the way we’re doing things now.

Tonight my love especially goes to peace loving Muslims around the world who are being vilified by my nation, by Christians globally, by everyone globally. I’m an atheist but the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard is the morning prayers of Muslims in a neighborhood I stayed in in Herzliya.

I wish love for everyone. Muslims, Christians, Pagans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists – AND EVERYONE ELSE OF EVERY OTHER FAITH I’VE ALMOST CERTAINLY FORGOTTEN – love to all of you.

Choose the brave path. Choose peace and freedom.

The Color Pink, Early Christmas Fatigue, and Our Unconventional Family

Penny playing

This post will mostly consist of thought spew.  Doesn’t that sound appetizing?

The stores and commercials on television are already all about Christmas and as tedious as it might seem to some of you Christmas fanatics to hear yet another Grinch complain about this – it really is disgusting.  It disgusts me and it depresses me.  I’m not a big shopper in the first place but obviously I am repulsed by Black Friday which has now become Black Thursday, a day I used to know as Thanksgiving.

I’m hearing a number of women on my facebook stream complaining about targeted marketing to girls – specifically with regards to color.  This reminds me of the brilliant bit Elle Degeneres did on the “Bic for Her” campaign.  Some women seem to think that if manufacturers didn’t make girls’ toys in pink and purple that girls wouldn’t like it – that girls are being essentially brainwashed into liking pink.  I personally think that gives too much credit to manufacturers power to tell us what we like and too little credit to girls being able to decide for themselves what colors they like.  I grew up in a sea of pink toys and yet I’ve never liked pink and managed not to have very much of it in my life.  And it’s not like I didn’t like conventional girl toys either.  I did.  I was UBER-GIRLY in my love for Barbie dolls and playing dress up.  But my Barbies, who were packaged liberally in sparkly pink boxes, rarely wore pink once in my hands.  I believe that manufacturers make what they think girls want and if girls keep choosing pink they’ll keep piling the shelves with pink.

Mostly I think it’s a waste of time to obsess over gender targeted toy and color choices.  As a parent you can offer your children more choices in toys and colors available to them and if your girl wants dolls and pink – let go.  If your girl wants to wear black and play with trucks – that’s great.  I gave my boy a baby doll when he was little and he banged its head against the wall for fun so I took it away.  He liked weapons and trucks and trains.  So what?  He had a choice, he chose, and it’s okay.  It doesn’t mean I’m training him up to be a chauvinist.  A neighbor boy of his same age had a choice too and nurtured and loved his dolls.  Totally cool.

What I’m saying is – I find it offensive to suggest that the only reason girls like pink is that they’re being brainwashed to like it.  Also – while I don’t love pink – what the fuck is wrong with girls liking it?

This book came to my attention yesterday: To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl.  I’m not going to link to the book because it’s evil, instead I’m linking to the article that led me to it.  Michael and Debi Pearl should be jailed for encouraging people to criminally abuse their children.  Manson is in jail for getting other people to commit murders.  This couple is responsible for inciting parents to whip and starve children into submission.  This is an example of religion causing people to do evil instead of good.  It makes me sick to my stomach.

It’s raining today and I LOVE IT.  Max is loving it too.  We don’t miss much about living in Oregon (besides missing our friends there) but the weather – oh man, I really miss the weather!

Max’s birthday is tomorrow and he’s turning 13.  Jesus!  He’s a real teen now.

Yesterday he mentioned his directed studies class (for kids with IEPs) in which they were working on making a coupon book of potential treats they could have for good behavior.  Max couldn’t really think of anything and when the teacher suggested things like “How about you get to go out to eat and you get to choose the restaurant you go to?” and Max explained that he always gets to choose where we go.  After a few more suggestions which Max explained weren’t treats because he already gets pretty much everything he wants he said the teacher made a comment about him maybe being spoiled.  This makes us look like such bad parents.

But the truth is, we’re not a conventional family in any way.  Max gets to choose where we go out as a family because there are only a few places where there’s anything he likes to eat.  Going out to eat as a family should be enjoyable to all of us.  So he gets to choose which of the three places that have things he’ll eat we go to.  There’s something for Philip and I at each of them so we don’t really care.  We’re not sacrificing anything by letting him choose.  When Philip and I go out alone we go places that Max won’t go.  Everything is a kind of negotiation in our family between all of our particular “special needs”.

He doesn’t get whatever he wants whenever he wants it but he doesn’t really ask for a lot of stuff.  So if we can afford what he wants it’s often okay.  And when we can’t afford things he’s pretty understanding.  There is a lot of harmony in our family and our child is treated as an equal in many ways.  When it’s important that he do as I say or that he cooperate – I don’t have to work very hard to get it because he feels respected and loved and safe in this house and he knows I don’t ask a lot of him.

But we really do look like bad parents most of the time.  That’s okay.  I prefer the harmony in my little family over the incredible discord and fighting that I grew up with.

Now I’m going to warn you who are still following my blog that I’m going to be flogging you with my book.  I’m going to include a link to buy my book in every post at the bottom.  I’m going to ask you to tell others about it and if you can think of any way I can promote it – please share your ideas.  I have, in the past, completely sucked at marketing my products.  But here’s the deal: I want to make a living as a novelist and I’ve got a lot of things going against me (being an unknown author and being self published are two of the biggest factors I have to overcome) so if I want to succeed I’m going to have to get good at this marketing thing.  Even if it makes me exquisitely uncomfortable.  This is the most important thing I’ve ever done and there is nothing I want more than making a living writing novels.  So I have to really go for it.  And that means I’m going to ask for your help and I’m going to plaster links to my book everywhere I possibly can.  Okay?

I’m going to succeed at this.