Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Ugliness of Healing

We could learn a great deal about human behavior simply from watching our own bodies at work.

I suffered a severe ankle sprain a week ago. Watching the healing process has reminded me of another process, one we should be cognizant of when dealing with each other.

My ankle hurt badly at first. So bad that I cried. It swelled and had to be elevated.

But as the ankle heals, it looks worse. In fact, the black and blue discoloration was really quite gross and ugly at one point.

It reminds me of humans when we are working through the grieving process.

Think about it.

When someone close to us dies we often lash out at those around us. It is to be expected. Most of the time, for sensitive and aware individuals, we don't take this anger personally. We chalk it up to the grieving process and try to give the person who is hurting time and space.

Once the early stages pass, and the person in pain continues moving forward, they let go of the anger.

But make no mistake, when we are healing we can often be ugly and may not appear to be our usual selves on the outside.

It is much easier to sympathize with an individual who is physically hurting when we can actually see, with our own two eyes, the black and blue marks. So we have to look for the signs not reflected in the physical body when someone is healing from emotional pain.

This person may be curt when talking to you. They may be extra sensitive and lash out at perceived slights that were never intended. This person may attempt to cut off relationships irrationally.

These are all the ugly parts of the healing process. Sadly, the difference between these and a bruise is that bruises don't leave permanent cuts in a relationship.

If you are on the receiving end of a person's "ugly bruising" try to step back and remember that it truly is a process. Most recover eventually and may regret how they acted.

I want that to be the case with the tone and tenor of many United States citizens regarding the San Bernardino shooting and the anger towards all Muslims.

I hope, once the initial shock and fear pass, that the ugly "bruising" we are seeing and hearing so much of will diminish and that many of these previously tolerant and kind people will look back in horror at the mass labeling of Muslims as "terrorists", at the hateful speech and threatening actions.

If and when this happens, those of us who watched the process need to be kind. We need to understand that they were lashing out from fear and sadness.

This doesn't apply to all of the people filled with mistrust and anger towards the Muslim community (some will never change; bigotry is simply a part of the internal wiring of certain individuals), but I have to believe that many of the people in this country who are so openly ugly are simply reacting to the initial anger and sadness over the shooting. They are frustrated with ISIS and with what they understandably cannot understand. Maybe they are just working through the process.

Just like my ankle.

It has to get uglier before it can fully heal.

Our nation has experienced this type of ugliness before and I daresay it will happen in the future. Such is our species.

We should pay attention to mother nature, though, and not allow the ugliness to take over.

I'm keeping my ankle wrapped and I am aware of what the bruising and the discoloration means. It will go away and I need to speed that process along as quickly as possible.

I wish we could wrap Donald Trump and the others like him with an ace bandage so the process can't be broadcast so loudly.

I fear these wounds are more like a terminal disease for many though. Unable to heal.

Please let your fear be a minor pain; allow the bruises to work through the process but then heal. Go back to being the good, kind and sensible people I know you once were.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Donald and the Culpable

Alan Bullock, in his 1962 book "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny", wrote of WWII and the Holocaust that the heaviest responsibility lay with the German Right, who "forsook a true conservatism" and made Hitler their partner in a coalition government.

Daniel Goldhagen, in his acclaimed study "Hitler's Willing Executioners", provides thoroughly researched evidence of the culpability of average German citizens in the murder of six million Jews, a culpability rooted, essentially, in racism.

Let's not kid ourselves. There's nothing cliche with regard to what I'm about to say. Donald Trump's campaign is starting to resemble Nazi Germany's rhetoric and game plan. How Americans respond will have a monumental impact on our future and the future of the rest of the world.

What has been so intriguing is the recent fury with which he has so openly and blatantly stated his intentions. Even more disturbing are the large crowds cheering him on.

Trump's response to the shooting at the November 27th Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic by a white Christian male was surprisingly muted. He offered prayers for the victims.

His public statements since the ISIS bombing in Paris on November 13 are the antithesis of muted. They are downright Hitler-esk.

Trump calls for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, failing to mention the rigorous screening process many of them already have to endure (some of the most oppressed victims of ISIS, in fact).

He has suggested a national registration database for all Muslims in the United States so the U.S. government can track them.

Trump suggested he might make "them" carry a special identification card.

Speaking at a rally he stated that he believes we should place mosques under surveillance and that he is fine with warrantless searches of them. The Donald would even consider forcing them to close.

There are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. They make up almost 25% of the population.

They are your neighbors, co-workers and friends.

In Nazi Germany, the Jews were neighbors, co-workers and friends.

A charismatic speaker, using inflammatory language and lies (see Trump's claim that he saw "thousands and thousands of Muslims celebrating" after the World Trade Center attacks), was able to tap into a nation's racism, fear and national pride.

German's saw themselves as superior to all others.

Trump claims he is going to "make America great again".

He has called Mexican immigrants "rapists".

He is calling for a ban on all Muslims, claiming "they" hate us and want to kill us but has offered nothing else substantive in the area of policy with regard to the Middle East and ISIS.

The signs are not just subtle. They are glaring. They are screaming in our ears, punching us in the face and kicking us in the gut.

Donald Trump is just one man, though.

Adolf Hitler needed an entire nation of followers in order to carry out his goals. Donald Trump has followers, rabid fans who shout and cheer at his rallies. They openly advocate sending all Muslims away. They have physically attacked people.

Let's not kid ourselves.

Trump supporters say they like him because he says the things no one else will say. Part of the reason no one else says those things is because many don't believe them; many are, in fact, absolutely sickened by them.

It is time for Donald Trump's followers and the political party that still claims him to decide which side of history they are going to stand on; the side of bigotry, hate, lies and cowardice thereby giving ISIS exactly what it wants or on the side of everything America represents.

It's really beginning to appear that simple.