I watch and feel the increasingly visible ugliness in our nation and around the world and it causes me both new thoughts and old ones. I have never understood the minds of people who twist the world into violence and ugliness because they want to defend something they think is endangered. On the faces, twisted into ugliness by hatred and fear, of white people as the schools were integrated — back when I was a kid — that was the sort of ugliness that and violence that baffled me then and baffles me now. Lined up along barricades to yell at children trying to enter school. Those doing the yelling made the world ugly, violent, dangerous, filthy. Those trying to enter the schools — hated and reviled — looking as steady as they could, dressed neatly to convey manners that those yelling neglected to recognize; walking forward, trying to make their lives and their communities better and lovelier — at no one’s expense but their own.
And among those yelling and twisted faces were people who, under cover of night, committed acts of unspeakable violence and bloodshed — making a mockery of the the world they claimed to pine for — some whitewashed (literally) world with tidy homes and safe children(?). The nightmare they fear, they project, they became. Bathing the world in blood and shame and what can only be called sin.
Maiming and killing — and daily acts of judgment and bigotry — of scorn, arrogance, and meanness that diminish their own souls. The people who are treated with such prejudice suffer deeply. But they can, at least, know themselves to be good people undeserving of such scorn. Those who act with such bigotry have to carry — and I say this almost without pity – the scar of failure, the signs of meanness, fear, and misshapen hearts.
Is there a point that is reached when it no longer matters — when the racist, queer basher, Jew-hater, misogynist, violent “religious extremist” of so many stripes, no longer look inside and wonder how their own hearts have grown indefensibly misshapen? Is there a point when they might see more clearly that the car bomb, heavy armaments, bullet proof vest, youth used as a living bomb, or even shout of hatred has made their world uglier than their worst fears.
The inner world and outer world poisoned by their own fear — which they interpret, in some other and strange way, as virtue.
These are misplaced souls who have learned to hate what is beautiful, harmless, life-giving, compassionate — in others — and in themselves.
Perhaps more out of the realm of possibility is my wondering if they ever ask themselves if the violence they create in the world is a symptom of their own need to heal and make some deep peace? If they feel some terrible wound and ugliness and fear inside — unrelated to the “other” whom they hate and strike out at that “other” which is far easier than probing the wound within.
On one hand I want to shout — awaken from these nightmares of scarcity, hatred, xenophobia, and blaming the least powerful. Awaken!
And on another hand I want to cry and lament their broken hearts and souls…