THE ARROW AND THE HEART

I was reflecting on my association with Restorative Justice, and personal growth in general, and a constant jumped out at me; vulnerability.

If I am interested in changing myself, proclamations and statements of truth are one thing, prospects for actually changing, something else. It is being open to those places where I harbor pain that offer the promise of transformation, an inherently spiritual event. Quick fixes can be offered; just say no; get over it; time to move on, and on and on… All these types of instant focus changing affirmations have their moments of validity. They have a point that might be valuable to consider in entrenched negative moments, but they cannot be randomly dispensed as answers to individual processes that are at times, in nuanced and specific ways, as different as each individual.

So real heart to heart conversations require something more personal than lecturing, moralizing, and obvious good advice giving; they require me to show where I came from to know a better, more responsible way to be with others. If I am offering insight into my way of handling issues without resorting to abuse, my why and how must have real life in them.

I, as a volunteer intending to be of service to growth in an others self understanding, must revisit my own arrow wounds and how they were removed and healed. For this reason, being involved with Restorative Justice can become a way to discover prescient connections to those who were strangers before meeting, but become as members of the same human family when open hearts meet.

img_2361

Where is the pain coming from? Is it from a place deep in the past now camouflaged in individual rituals and self medicating patterns of mechanisms like denial and avoidance instituted for safety reasons? Just telling me to get over my sense of abandonment in some current situation, may have little influence if I am operating on a now systemic identity infused perception that I am unlovable and somehow worthy of abandonment. That self image would border on a now near cosmological imperative that seems relevant in my life that says my life is troubled. Someone else might well benefit from a wake up call to “get over” something, but for others, the underlying pain must be uncovered or in some other way transcended. (Metaphorically; removing and breaking those old arrows.)

For those who do not have an inner institution of dysfunction operating in some area, those who do not “get over it” can be assumed to be suffering from superficial inadequacies that may seem obviously self defeating and worthy of a quick exit. Why don’t you take my advice? I have learned to get over things easily. Just move on and don’t look back! It can seem frustrating that someone just does not “do it”, or refused to “get it”. Quit the apparent excuse or obfuscation and just act. They may not perceive the real addictive attachment to the psychological prejudice of a life disturbed by pain in more endemic ways.

I mentioned spiritual transformation, because the sense of a new identity can allow completely new behavior to manifest out of what seems to be natural health and healing. If past pain is somehow spiritually forgiven by insight into the fallible nature of those who may have played a part in establishing ones reactive environment, a new way of being can emerge seemingly instantly out of nowhere. A powerful inner presence can cast the insecurity out. A kind of getting over it occurs, but not because one is told to do so to move on, but one recognizes what being healthy is, and that that is what I should be, and so it is done. What is right rules, from this point of a newly opened dimensional understanding of the nature of life.

I had stopped smoking and alcohol use on my own over the years, learning of failure, with its illusory successes, and then the final success. The success occurred with a spiritual victory over my own ego. Repetitive and ever disappointing failures were met with a personal ultimatum to myself, with the resulting message to my body and history that I was not taking defeat as an option. I exorcised my excuses, not by ordinary will power, that had failed. I appealed to the spirit of the one that I am. (If not known, we each have a whole one within, above our conventionalized self.) In so doing, I discovered what was needed to transcend the pain that ruled my behavior.

Pain, along with its addictive self medication temptations, were no longer to determine my behavior. I was not submitting to the rule of pain. I was standing up to it and instructing it to submit to my intention, period. End of story. I assume that this is what the “Higher Power” said to be focused on in 12 Step programs is generally about; an inner surrender to a connection to the Perfect.
This strength I found right there inside myself, came at the expense of years of ever reminding defeat. These defeats created a kind of negative bank account in my ego. The me I was discovering along failures path, was eventually seen to be a self betrayal; I was actually allowing the pain given to me by sources in childhood to continue to rule and ruin my life. This is where the fact became clear; my own heart and mind were undermining me by seemingly always accepting defeat and submission to what were outer substances used to self medicate that very pain. Defeat is surrender to dysfunction, while victory is surrendering to the higher power of truth faced heart on.

Not being able to control addictions became the object that stood in the way of the success of who I am. Now, armed with the evidence of failure and the ways and means of addiction, I could consciously override their control with my own intention. Not the addictive substances “will”, but rather the intention of accepting no substitutes for facing reality head on. I consider this approach to overcoming chronic defeat or repetitive undermining behavior as a spiritual position. I often ask, when I am told someone is getting over an addiction; if their life has changed in some other ways. The spiritual position comes with a newly known power that allows victory to spread to other areas in ones life as well. I often look for other healthful signs to give me indication that this spiritual victory has occurred, and not one so often more transitory and situation dependent.

img_1723

This brings me to the Restorative Justice reflection I started with. In a meeting with families traumatized by abuse of some kind, what can I offer? The old dysfunction oriented model says; your have been bad so now you get punished. It quite ignores the family, whether the family can be made wholesome again, and so restore the love across the family. Whether the love that presumably created the family is still truly viable can be assessed. How children have been impacted by domination behavior is critically important. In short; the whole health of the family and community are ignored in the punitive model for some ideology of lone individual bad, equals punishment.

Ignoring the rest of the family and community health, is left hanging to all of our peril. Evidence indicates a likely continuation of the destructive pattern modeling to the children. Remember; most abusers were themselves abused. We are talking of reality here, and not ideological temptation offered to a culture to fix things by the illusion that punishment is true learning or understanding. It comes down to what creative justice is; is it abandoning individuals to punishment, while essentially ignoring the needs of the family and community, or is it working with willing offenders to address the why to their dysfunctional behavior, while seeing what restoration to the family and community can happen?

As it so happens to be; recidivism is dramatically decreased in Restorative Justice paradigms, saving families and communities from self perpetuating harm. The family comes to learn much more about the nature of the offenders hurt and prior inability to cope in non abusive ways. Families that are willing, are put light years ahead of where they would have been if just left as collateral damage to dysfunction and a dysfunction based punitive paradigm.

Those like me who volunteer to go on a half year to full year weekly connection to these families are given the opportunity to be vulnerable to where I grew up along the way. I get to be in a process of revelation with a family of unknowns who become friends. And these friends get to see how someone not being paid, someone with no obvious thing to gain is wiling to devote time to the faith I have in them. That is a powerful position to be in. I get to experience others growth into a more empowered self, where self respect nurtures interpersonal respect, and it, a more fulfilled revelation of life that spreads from our words and deeds into the world.

Those arrows are pulled through and devoured by the fire of love that Life provides those who stand up to harm by insisting on healing. Hearts are given a chance to heal, a burden unreachable, its weight seemingly on every moment, is cast off, and all, simply by caring to put love ahead of loss.

ART AND SCIENCE OF CONTROL

SCIENCE or ART or MORE?

At yesterdays family violence meeting with a family, we talked about health.

Health is a big topic that can go into differing directions and dimensions, but we had questions made. Why am I not taking care of myself in some area? Do I worry about my health and so, emotionally or subconsciously, open a door for a dysfunction? I know I should eat less, or not smoke, or get into more exercise, yet procrastination is in charge. Why? A few of us, for proposed economic reasons, or avoidance, avoid trying to find out what is going on. We wait to see if things get worse as a kind of control on what problem we are noticing.

In this group meeting we all set goals for the next one. After coming up with a desire to act on our own behalf, we set our sights on some realistic movement to be made by next meeting. Your word in made with yourself to get something good done in your life.

That will be all for that review of yesterdays event. I do wonder about all the rest of us; about politics, elections, society, the environment, our effects in the world on one another. Do I avoid looking honestly at them? Do I even want to know and be then possibly worried? What avoidance is there of issues that are of paramount importance to each of or lives, and yet we cover them over with a rug?

I believe politics, religion, the alleged cultural wars promoting ignorance and contempt for knowing something different and respecting it for that Golden Rule, I believe these things do have us hiding from knowing our effects on others, thus promoting their lack of respect for us. In conflict settings, we have learned to wall off our sense of empathy, compassion, full truth seeking and so understanding, because we may be told we are self defeating to entertain, enlightenment!

Many an ego stakes its credentials on not changing no matter what it faces. This may be a strength, or a recipe for complete stupidity. Arrogance, or “macho” displays are meant to be life saving in an odd way, yet they might just as well guarantee that that vulnerability one had to know something of oneself or another, is armored in, and a stunt person is now in charge of my life.

We are hearing in politics now both sides of the insecurity coin shown at once causing a kind of meltdown in-between. Is someone caring or strong? In front of one group they show the one, and in front of the other the other one, why can they not be real in all context, instead of chameleon like color changes designed to suit an audience? Now we seem to be trying to avoid these seeming perhaps contradictions of candidates by the marketing effect to make them just seem to look like the type on our side, without getting too specific about those worries we might have.

With the world in some ways at the mercy of our votes, (if counted) that might impact future well being as well as conflict for the entire planet, we need look more closely at those who would cut a one year old’s birthday cake with the swing of a four foot sword, not noticing the shock and awe in the room of the world.

What to look for?

First, unadulterated honesty, a consistency, not in claims and stances, but in steps to take to get from problem to solution. If candidates do not show respect, and I mean honest recognition and not just a grouping of words, they are not going to be elected to lead (or focus) the whole nation, they will be in it to promote the unacknowledged dysfunction addictions of their base, leaving the rest of us, not entirely innocent bystanders to an ever deteriorating state of the nation and planet.

VIOLENCE AND SELF CONTROL

Being involved with family violence control puts me in an odd situation.

I have avoided physical fighting my whole life. Childhood became the most significant influence on this. My father had told me, and I took it as holy law, that you as a guy, do not strike women. I cannot say that my older sisters and I did not have shoving matches, but for me that would have been self defense. Our family dynamics was heavy on the mental sparing which can seem actually more devastating.

The physical violence in our house was later done, after my mothers death, by a step mother-guardian. She would not hesitate to hit, throw objects and threaten with knives. She sent my father to the hospital with a big gash across his forehead. I slept with the largest kitchen knife under my pillow as a self defense plan for a knife attack while I was asleep. She had hit me in the face while I was asleep, then locked me out in the snow in my pajamas. My father committed suicide not long after that.

Earlier I had incidences when someone seemed to be threatening my life as a freshman high school. I was literally about 100 lbs. and someone morbidly obese around 500 lbs, held me under water to near drowning during pool time in a crowded pool. He had done this more than once. It became so serious to me (swallowing-inhaling watter) that I thought I would have to take matters into my own hands. One more time, and I was going to put him in a headlock with my legs around his neck and hold him under until it meant something. I was a totally inhibited kid and did not trust authority to do anything but blame the victim. So I had to weigh in my mind, possibly causing someones death and being called and treated as a murderer.

As it turned out, he never did that again. But I was sure it would have been me to blame and I would have felt I had no options in my own self defense. No one seemed to notice him doing this during the pool commotion, so I believed no one would accept my story. It just never came through to experience. In physical confrontations during boyhood, I found I had to keep the potential for rage out of me, especially since I had no doubt that I would take down someone twice my size. It took someone quite a bit larger and older to overcome me. I was afraid of my rage and how if unleashed it would seem out of my control.

(As evidence that I am not just delusional about this strength proclamation. When it rained a lot during physical education, outdoor activities were called off and we were put into the gym, we freshmen and the sophomores, to have a thing called “bombardment”. This is where there are two sides chosen, a line across the middle of the gym, where the two sides throw rubber balls a little smaller than a soccer ball at each other. Out of about 150 students divided in two, little me was one of the last picked, last or second to last.

Well the first game I discovered that being in the lower 10% in size had me a bit afraid, so I hung back as many did. All it took was the guy next to you ducking and a ball out of nowhere taking you out, while leaving a big red mark somewhere. I decided to risk all and take it to the line next game.

You could see most of what was being thrown up front. I found out I could catch any-ones ball thrown at me, but no-one could hold onto mine. I was also very accurate. I won that game. The last guy standing. I was picked second of all players next game. The team first picking, picked his seeming best friend first, so I was first on the other team picked. The next game was the last. It oddly ended up being me the last standing on my team, and a very out of shape guy hiding and dodging in the corner on the other side when the period ran out. I could no longer throw fast enough to eliminate time for him to move. That is how little old me was as a skinny five feet two.)

TRUTH VS ADVICE

What I just said I cannot say to someone involved in family violence. As far as physical violence goes, I do not hit women. I have told ones who gave me any actual physical provocation that, “If you do that again, we are over!” I do not tolerate fighting, especially in the home relationships. I try to avoid physical confrontations with anyone. Now that I am a “senior citizen” I find you are not seen as a threat overall, or there is a kind of automatic respect. Most of that sense of being on guard is much diminished now. I take peace as my way and it path is most often open.

I have found that emotional abuse has prove a bit more difficult to not take part in, compared to a sense of law that one just never does such a thing. I grew up that way, making fun of someones mistake or being ridiculed. It is then a model of behavior I have had to contain and reverse. To do that requires a will and an understanding of the Golden Rule or Categorical Imperative. I need to establish the sense that not only does “what goes around comes around.”, but it is already damaging my life. Abusing others in any way is profoundly self abuse.

I need to see (learn to recognize) when I am treating another like I would not wish to be treated, and immediately review what my self respect or control problem really is. We are often given the information from another that we are on some kind of attack and they becoming defensive, or initiating their own retaliations.

Still, when expressing guidance to someone, it will often fall flat if it is preached or describes as something I am so above, and can’t understand how someone could do such a thing. That fits as a key with very few dysfunctional programs. I have to speak out of and through my own life, the love in your heart has to be in it, to be a gift expected to have a chance at being received.

PROGRESSIVE OR REACTIONARY

In some ways I have described political tactics and ways of manipulation. All manipulation is in some way an abuse of the truth. Its vibrational disturbance will not go unnoticed, except perhaps, by like minded dysfunction. The same situations and rationalizations that come to effect home life are used in the greater life of our world. Even if everyone does it, doesn’t make it right.

We will find manipulative arguments covered if various guises meant to hide their intention, and instead, be represented as your own interest. Fear and insecurity are great hiding places for manipulative interest. Optimistic vision can also be used as a trick to catch someones interest, then later prove to have been a ruse. We need to be both critically minded on the one hand, and have our heart held out open in the other. True adults can do this.

The upcoming election seems to be being based on fear and insecurity vs. hope and optimism, both of these being held as paramount in differing ways by the candidates. I am not saying that we are not justified in having these inclinations. What I am encouraging is the “true believers” and the doubtful to have their wits about them. As citizens and voters, it is up to us to determine the fact from fiction, the hidden agendas from the promises of safety and security. For power will seek to inject its corruptions into all areas of life if let be.

We each are freedom, love, and truths best and last hopes. Better to stand with understanding under their tall light, than the ignorance that festers in the shadows of misunderstanding.