We Don’t Have To Calm Down

no-evilThere is a time to be peaceful, a time to let go of arguments and agree to disagree. This is not one of those times. Those of us who care about justice, equality and love more than power, vengeance, winning and getting ahead not only have a right to be outraged; we have a duty to be outraged. Those of us who are Christians not only have a right to be disgusted by claims that God appointed Donald Trump, we have a duty to speak out against such unbiblical falsities. It is not only the right of those of us who have been made much more vulnerable by this election, it is entirely appropriate.  Continue reading We Don’t Have To Calm Down

Vulnerability, An Invitation: Stories of Hardship

sledgehammerglass“Putin’s team,” Gary Shteyngart writes in a recent New Yorker article, “has discovered that racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism bind people closer than any other experiences.” We have to change this. It feels impossible: “People want to rise from their knees. Even people who weren’t kneeling in the first place,” Schtenygart writes. Can Americans, who have been bathed in rugged individualism since the inception of our country learn how to be there for each other as so many of our writers, activists and empaths are pleading we do so? We simply have to. Shteyngart continues: “My parents and grandparents never fully recovered from the strains of living in an authoritarian society. Daily compromise ground them down, even after they came to America. They left Russia, but Russia never left them. How do you read through a newspaper composed solely of lies? How do you walk into a store while being Jewish? How do you tell the truth to your children? How do you even know what the truth is?”

Continue reading Vulnerability, An Invitation: Stories of Hardship

Defeating Trumpism is Defeating Fear – It Will Take Sincerity, Part One

elections-ahead-26432065I’m taking a break from my new focus on vulnerability to say a few things about the election. I have a really hard time with people encouraging everyone to “get out and vote” without also encouraging people to become informed before they vote. Personally, I’d rather you not vote if you’re not informed. Not voting doesn’t increase the value of some diehard’s vote as much as voting without knowing what you’re doing does. And it does take time. You can’t really just show up at the ballot box and expect that the little blurb on the bill or person or proposition is going to tell you everything you need to know. It took me four hours to fill out my ballot. Here’s some thoughts on the most stressful choice on the ballot this year:

Continue reading Defeating Trumpism is Defeating Fear – It Will Take Sincerity, Part One

Vulnerability, stop one: to breed or not to breed

angry-babyIt’s been a few months since I’ve written anything here; my last post attempted to wrestle with the loss of a friend, not through death but through abandonment, the second “lifelong” best friend to tell me I’m not good enough. I’m angry, I’m tired of being set up and I want to rant. But the refusal to be vulnerable, to admit our fears (outsourcing them as blame or shame instead) and to strive to remain connected and responsible to each other is, among other things, exactly why this country is so close to electing an extremely dangerous man as our president.

So I’m doing a new thing with this blog, which I’ve retitled Burning By Heart. Vulnerability is hard; anger is hard; fear is hard; change is hard. My hope is to explore the connection between vulnerability and fear, to strive to heal my own anger and to invite those who are willing – who think listening, carefully forming opinions and learning is more important than asserting the right to think whatever you want – into the kinds of conversations we seem unable as a broader culture to have but really need to. I’m going to start with a raw topic for me and, since I’m not claiming to be perfect, I’m unable to talk about this without getting at least a little mad. Continue reading Vulnerability, stop one: to breed or not to breed

If No One Died, Can I Still Be Sad?

parting waysI have, these past several silent weeks, been searching for a way to process grief. Most of what I’m finding follows a back-and-forth formula of the dehumanizing expectations of emotionally stunted and immature Western culture and the reality of those who have lost a loved one. The bit about our culture being emotionally damaging and even abusive is validating, but the large majority of articles I’ve found on grief are not helpful. No one has died recently in my life. I am mourning the loss of three core friendships. And our society has so discarded or misused the word “friend” that, if you find it a struggle to get over the ending of a friendship, you’re weak, “too” sensitive, codependent and just need to get new friends. Continue reading If No One Died, Can I Still Be Sad?

Gun Control

discriminationOur country’s gun laws are ridiculous. That, for example, civilians can rather easily get access to war weapons is unconscionable, even if it is covered under the 2nd Amendment (a dubious assertion; one that seems to miss the point: even if something is within your “rights” to do, are there not other, higher, standards by which to evaluate whether or not you should do it?).

But targeting people with so-called “mental illness” is absolutely not the way to fix them. I’ll be putting the phrase “mental illness” in quotes for the duration of the post, not because I question the suffering of those who experience mental and emotional distress but because the entire field of “mental illness” is an utter mess. Continue reading Gun Control

Mental Health Awareness Month, Part 2

How about holding out hands instead of pointing fingers?
How about holding out hands instead of pointing fingers?

Last week, I saw a post by a mental-health advocacy Facebook page: a short video featuring “shirtless hunks” (this is how the video referred to them) – soldiers who’d returned home and lost fellows soldiers to suicide. “More vets commit suicide every year than die in wars,” the short video said, and then called for compassion and “action.” I commented, protesting the objectifying language, the use of the word “commit” and the frustrating vagueness of the unspecified call to do something. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month, Part 2

Mental Health Awareness Month, Part 1

Mental-Disorders
A stigmatizing picture, the likes of which are all-too-commonly included with “helpful” articles published by mental-health advocacy organizations.

In another round of “awareness” campaigns, this whole month has been dedicated, supposedly, to that of mental health. Last month was for autism. I’m weary to learn what June will be for, what real-life experience for millions will be reduced to a cause for which people post factually-inaccurate and stigma-producing articles and memes in service of nothing more than feeling like they’re contributing to making the world a better place. I was going to just ignore this “awareness”  month campaign (I’ve shared my issues with “awareness” previously) but there’s just too much misinformation, shallow “participation” and ego stroking for me to stay quiet in good conscience. So I’m just going to address a few myths about mental health here. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month, Part 1

This is your culture on trauma

rainI want to name as trauma the experience of not being chosen in a coupled world. The living alone, the having no one witness your life or help you make life decisions, the having no one to hold or feed you when you get sick, the practical ways that two actually are better than one – because there is certainly nothing in our culture that says we have any reason to expect such care from our friends – are hard, traumatic, enough (though there are differences, this is true for both people who have never married and people facing the “after” of a marriage). But the meaning conferred by our society onto singleness as, essentially, unwantedness is unbearable, not just because the shame of such judgment often provokes tendencies to isolate and further remove oneself from community, but because it may confirm deep suspicions about one’s self. Continue reading This is your culture on trauma

Sad Lady Scatterdly Considers Aloneness

 

ClownfishI’m excited to see this going mainstream: the best we can do for our loved ones is to try to love them. We don’t have to call the police. We don’t have to recite all our commitments and things pulling at our time (I’m not alone in despising the “I’m busy” excuse). We don’t have to “just” pray for them, especially since it is an expressly Christian call, not to be passive in the face of suffering – that of our friend’s, that of our enemy’s, our own. Continue reading Sad Lady Scatterdly Considers Aloneness