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Not Beyond Words

June 18, 2016

[Beyond words? (first response to Orlando, 6/12)]

We meet mass murder with the instant shock of our love at its silent depths. We know our loss. Soul quietly coils itself in the agony of its image. With our silence we bond with the slaughtered, who will never speak again.

Then we have our keening and our words of sympathy. We know who we are.

Then, dear reader, with the safety of loved ones at stake, and a merciful and just society, we howl, ye ships of Tarshish, at sociopathic egomaniacs such as Drumpf, at bought members of Congress, with their pretense of civility, and at banal ass holes such as the leaders of the NRA and the gun industry, who continue to assault us with our own fears and delusions.

Once again, we see our potential for evil. Soul recoils at its image.

Hateful fools would like to stun us into paralysis and then move us beyond words into murderous violence. They show the way. But we can call to our words, among the best abilities of our shared human consciousness, to try keep ourselves safe and sane.

Words are our extraordinary means of imagining ourselves and others; with words we are able to construct the images, stories, and conversations that express and nourish soul; with words we can bring the archetypal patterns of our imagining, including both the negatives and the positives of our individual and collective shadows, into consciousness, where we can re-imagine them for greater health; with words we can join in loving community, where we can expose and oppose terror, hatred, and violence.

For example, as pointed out to me by daughter H: to be a young male in our violently sexist society is to be at risk—high risk—of becoming violent, damaging or destroying others and oneself. Many young men in America are terrorized, by various persons including their fathers, and by our macho culture of religion, business, entertainment, and politics [update:  and justice].

Often their fear is sexually charged. A result can be a propensity to do violence to persons who alarm them, at home or in public. They are, of course, alarmed by themselves. They are the alarm. They have become emotionally paralyzed by fear that they might be grotesques, weak, failed, ridiculed, rejected, cast out. I’m thinking about myself now, as well as Mateen, Turner, and so many others. We (mis)(in)form young males that are dominated by their feebly and falsely imagined egos, and channeled by society into trying to quell their fear, and fulfill their desire for wholeness—to break out of their paralysis—with an act of violence, be it trickery, emotional abuse, physical assault, murder, or mass murder.

To counter this terrorism, we must verbally re-imagine boyhood and manhood, by retelling our stories of what it is, to be male. We can give our sons healthy and healing words for who they are and who we want them to become. We must have honest and open conversations about this, in private and in public. No shaming and no fear. We must offer images that become by-words for male integrity and respect.

In order to successfully re-imagine, we must demolish stereotypes, de-sexualize gender and de-gender sexuality. That is a big cultural task; but people built our sex-gender stereotypes, and we can remake them.

For instance, to ennoble and enable the aristocracy, in 11th to 13th century France, people invented songs and stories of refined, chivalric romance, providing the sublimations of male warrior violence and ownership to which we still subscribe today. In grand sublimation, towering churches were erected and dedicated to our inviolate lady. Men slaughtered each other in her name, wearing the insignia of her son, a Prince of Peace. In major literary moments of Christian dualism, Dante met his Beatrice (1274) and Petrarch met his Laura (1327)—both, btw, actual females to be converted into ideas of the Ideal. We have never recovered from their beauty. But we can imagine beyond this terror.

Our “courtly love” recognizes and tries to deal with the danger presented by males in a male chauvinist society, but it makes salvation of men dependent upon the purity of women, and the safety of women dependent upon the purity of men. It’s a trap. Each of us must be either saved or savior, within a culture in which the saved are the owners of the savioresses. Males are trapped in power and females are trapped in powerlessness.

Instead we must imagine persons, each with full human integrity. Persons male or female or both or neither, de temps en temps, who are “free to be you and me,” without stereotyping or being stereotyped. They listen and speak without fear. They give and receive power, letting go of control. They are busy nourishing, planting and building, supporting and protecting, standing fast, enduring. They have visions of better futures, they unite and lead, make peace, give words to the best of who we are.

I know this is possible because I know such persons now. Among them are male persons, confident in their gender and sexuality, who do not wear swords or pack heat.

Just imagine that, dear reader.

[Update 6-19:  Something of what boys can grow up to be (and girls too, this is on fathers’ day.  6-20:  Mothers and daughters.]

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