Thursday, January 20, 2011

'A Sliver of Malice'

There are so many things to write about, but like my life sometimes, there are so many directions and so much to be done that I sometimes get paralyzed, although I would say I'm currently in a good state of mind. There were a couple of days last week that were pretty rocky, mostly because I found out that the job I thought I had was a scam. Although I pride myself in readily being able to detect a con, I was taken in, and by my estimation, he was either one of the best, or I was so determined to have a job that I didn't see the red flags. He had certainly done his homework on me, and appealed to my interest for anything having to do with art. (I was to deliver art supplies) It would take three entries to write about the whole evolution of the scam, but I don't yet feel like writing about it today, but I know I will. Suffice to say I detected the con before too much damage was done, but I'll put it this way. How many times have we heard the phrase, "If it sounds too good to true, it probably is?" I've now learned that through placing my hand directly on the stove, and probably will end up paying at least $800 for my folly. I'll know more once I've filed a police report and talk to the bank.

I'm reminding myself so much of my father right now, who was never in any kind of big trouble, but always managed to be in just a little bit. Further, at seventy five years old, he had no will, very little personal property, and in the five years he's been missing, his irresponsibility has torn the relationship between I and my sisters into something that for now seems irreversible. A missing person cannot be declared dead for seven years without a physical body. His pension and his social security continues to amass, in a bank account in my sister's name, who refuses to communicate about it. As a result, we haven't even been able have a memorial for my father because she will no longer speak to my brother and me. I suppose near the end of his life, he was confused enough to not be able to manifest anything legal, and so the conflict continues, and probably always will. I mention it here, because it's frustrating to be this age in my life and still have to deal with the issue of my father's penchant for irresponsibility, and now the torch has been passed to the son. I've had to face this startling understanding, that the sins of the father, in relationship to the son, can either be expunged or inherited, or perhaps a little of both. That struggle continues in my own life to achieve a level of responsibility that I feel good about. My only reprieve on this issue, however, is the assurance that my father never did anything out of malice. This fact has been so important to me, and I believe, enabled me to forgive my father. In fact, I am convinced that neither my father nor my mother's character included one sliver of the nature of this word, malice. So when I come up against it, and sense it in others, it's very hard for me to understand. One would think as one gets older, that these things would be easier to understand, (some are), but not without consequences when they collaborate with action. As one ages, one can either face these issues with openness or shut the door unto death. I think that the reason my mother continues to retain her sharpness and ability to keep expanding her wisdom is her willingness to continue to grow and face the consequences of her own actions, and to continue to discuss them, the mind and mandate of the writer, in my opinion. And this I say in high praise, as my mother and I continue to deepen our relationship through this process. Honor thy father and mother. I would ad, in doing so, you will reap the rewards of forgiveness, as it turns into the true nature of love.

Martin Luther King said, "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us." When I read this quote last week, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I know with my father, the disappearing specialist in my life, I had to be able to forgive him at a certain point in my life, or I never would have been able to have the experience with him that I did. Further, I'm convinced that the manner in which I am now telling his story is a result of the forgiveness we experienced. The short span of a life, contains many stories that have no lasting significance, but in the thread of a lifetime, there are perhaps only a few stories that have an eternal quality to them. I believe that those stories are not easily raised, because they only happen when one is willing to fuse waking life with the subconscious. Art is a powerful way to understand them, or to manifest them, but there is also a great risk in doing so. Forgiveness is also a large part of that equation. Forgiveness is the large door at the end of the hall, that separates romantic love from a lasting love.

I listened to Michael Reagan on msnbc the other night. He was chastising his brother, Ron, for disclosing in his book that his father, Ronald Reagan, probably had Alzheimer's disease while he was still in office. Its very interesting to me, that one political party amongst us would rather keep any kind of personal information that seems the least bit 'unpleasant' a private matter. It is reminiscent of the church to me, growing up and reading histories of the saints that were devoid of any scandalous information. The break between the church and my family was partially because members my family were willing to honestly render the truth, warts and all. I grew up in a semi-scandalous life, because members of my family were unafraid of that kind of honesty. I do understand that there are some things that are better left unsaid, but still adhere to a person's right and freedom to honestly share their view of life in its array of full color, instead of the large tableaus of black and white we are mostly fed. There are consequences to this philosophy, and I think I was often the victim of guilt by association, but became able to process this eventually, so that it didn't cause too much damage. I have to honestly admit, that one of the most powerful gestures of this whole shooting in Tucson was the willingness of one of the shooting victims to approach the parents of the evil shooter, and find some element of forgiveness and reconciliation. Dylan Kleebold's father called the school in Columbine during the shooting to let them know that he thought his son might be one of the perpetrators. Can you imagine what was going through this man's mind? The family of Kleebold and Harris were so traumatized by the community that they had to relocate, like the witness protection program. I can't imagine what their lives have been like since.

Late Saturday night, I also watched a show about Ted Haggardy. (the evangelist and preacher who was removed from the pulpit for having sex and buying meth from a gay prostitute) He was starting a new church in the barn near his home. When he was exposed for his crimes against mankind and the body of Christ, he said that everyone he had known for thirty years as a preacher immediately stopped talking to him. I mean, cut him off, and told him so. Immediate excommunication. If this is Christian love amongst the evangelicals, I want none of that kind of love. The deeper levels of love begin when forgiveness has an opportunity to spring into action. What struck me the most was this man's willingness to be honest, and the powerful connection he had with his family. His children and his wife were so authentically powerful in standing by their father. As a result, their sincerity played like Stanislavky actors in the deepest midst of affect memory, truly genuine in everything they said. That's the kind of Christianity that moves me. This was the love that Christ was talking about. If you fall, I will love you. It was plain to see in this man, again, that there was no malice in his actions. I would go to this man's church.

I also had one other significant event happen yesterday, in fact in the middle of much of this writing, I am fully registered for school. Although I taught high school for ten years, I was able to get the job when the charter school movement had just started, and my experience was enough to get me the job. However, I was always bothered by the fact that although I had gone to college for multiple years, I was deep enough into my academic rebellion to lift my nose at anything that smelled like a degree. There is much more to these actions, but as I grow older, I have a much greater perspective on that landscape. In retrospect, my lack of academic ambition, and my distain for it, is probably responsible for my current situation, and my inability to even secure another teaching job. There was an unexpected emotional response to finally enrolling, and I expect there to be more of the same when I finish. So, now I pursue the call of higher education in the midst of everything else that is starting to build. Have a great day, keep malice and bitterness away, for it is the enemy of art and resolution.

10 comments:

Cheryl said...

Great entry. I think your willingness to forgive your father has lead to many wonderful things. Some of us aren't as forgiving and want you to get an attorney and go after those with ethics lacking. I too was offended at Michael Reagan's anger at his brother..as someone also dealing with Alzheimers, I thought and why do you think you are special above this disease. But then I, like you, prefer the honest truth.

Bohemian Cowboy said...

I find this honesty lacking in practically the whole aforementioned political party. They either go on the defensive ala Palin, or formulate a self-righteous posture ala Michael Reagan. I have to say, I am staggered by the political bantering between the two parties. Its as if the politicians in power have lost all reason when it comes to those living their lives beneath them. I'm concerned, however, with the democrats, who in their ability to at least identify, seem so sensitive it causes them to either overreact or get angry and self-righteous. I have been loving Rachael Meadows lately. She is so quick on the uptake I am astonished. She formulates profound sentences and ideas almost with everything she says. She is one of the most rational thinkers on television in regard to politics right now... thanks, Cheryl. As for the lacking ethics amongst those in our midst, I can understand mistakes made in the realm of ethics, (I've made them myself) what I can't understand is an unwillingness to talk, and resolve, confounds me.

kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

Very interesting blog, Raymond.
It certainly hits the difficulties in your life. I am always fascinated how you work through with what you need to do. I feel like cheering you on. And on.

Gerry said...

I would say that after Clinton people were ready for a republican president with Bush coming in with a pro life platform that very apparently did not occupy his mind as much as what he needed to do to retaliate for 9/11, which eventually culminated in two expensive wars with the pro life issue receding into the background. If you call pro life right wing and do not like hardly anything that party supports then what you are saying is that you are pro choice. Choice is anathema to me, the reason why I am unable to vote democratic anymore since the democratic party has become the part of 'choice.' I find the arguments for choice a good deal more offensive than what some of the less volatile republicans can come up with in their arguments for life. I do not think their convictions are anywhere strong enough yet in that direction however to affect the country for change. I am used to people acting like pro life thinkers are bad news. That is a typical 'choice' reaction.
You brought the fact up that you do not agree with my 'right wing' views, which would be centered around my pro life stand, expressed in my blog and videos.
I am willing to gamble that I am right and you are wrong. I will continue to try to change your mind and challenge you to read and respond to the entry I wrote today after the abortion clinic horror story surfaced in Philadelphia. You might think of me as the cross you have to bear in relation to my 'right wing' views but I think of you as the cross I have to bear in that you are not able to help me in this fight. All I can do is keep fighting and hope that if you fail to convert, you will after my death, when you realize what a toll this has taken of my energy. I have been giving my life for it. I chose to do it. Even if it cost me recognition in this world for my writing ability. It is not going to be a good world for anybody unless people fight corruption when it develops. Corruption sets back progress. All success is going to be marked and limited if it is gained despite the corruption, because of living with it and accepting it with the idea that there will be a reward.
Your integrity in writing about your father has been impeccable. Therein lies the great strength in your story about him. I am too close to death myself for you not to recognize that my death will tear your heart out if you do not stand beside me. No matter how hard. You cannot get away with rejecting my fight as too right wing. You know what is at stake. You are a son who does not want to take up the cross of Jesus when he is only one among many to say this is the right thing to do. I know that your dad would not have walked off into the desert on a suicide mission which I have seen him try to do many times before, if he had been able to take up the cross of Jesus which is just to say, do the right thing. Live instead of die. Stand for life instead of death. I know a lot of men who try to embrace death. Doc is embracing it constantly bringing me constant sorrow. This is not love. You have it within you to stand for Life. That is the story I want you to be able to tell about me that I stood for life.

Chuckh said...

I am not for abortion, but I will not vote Republican. There are more impactful things hurting this country than someone getting an abortion. The fact that we are in two protracted wars and trillions in debt because of it, to me, is more important than any other issue. Bush hurt this country in so many ways, I will not bring it all up. I just wanted to make my point that not all "democrats" are in favor of abortion.

Gerry said...

You forget, Chuck, that the democrats had to vote to support both of those wars, which they did, helping to lead the country into tremendous debt. I would say both parties are culpable when it comes to those wars, and legalized abortion has resulted in over a million lives lost a year, which is no small number, for which the republicans are culpable, too, and because it is going to take everybody to bring those deaths down to any number that is an acceptable loss. People can't keep supporting 'choice' and do it. I can't keep fighting for life and take too many hits for being disturbingly right wing. I count only two people that I know well as my friends and they are not very good ones when it comes to this issue. Raymond has just declared himself not my friend and supporter when it comes to this issue. He made up a song with the words in it, "I am not afraid of Jesus." I think he is afraid of Jesus, who to me is a symbol for doing the right thing. Not how he was born, but standing for doing the right thing. I don't know if you have seen the video I put up of Raymond performing "Bohemian Cowby." I was so affected by the scene with Jesus and his dad in the desert that I could not sleep, and have had more sleepless nights. His dad was I believe on a suicide mission from other such disappearances starting in our marriage, and the pain inflicted by a suicide was so palpable I could not throw off the pain for hours. Raymond is in danger of being infected by the suicidal tendencies that his dad would not throw off. Dean never took up the cross of Jesus that I tried to get him to do so he could maybe stop trying to commit suicide. I associate with another man always trying to commit suicide with alcohol, so I have to be careful about being too affected by him. I am not feeling so well right now just from coming too close to suicide in the desert. I do not think Raymond can throw off the effects of that suicide unless he seeks salvation, unless he is not afraid of Jesus and what he stands for, as a collective symbol of believing in life.

Bohemian Cowboy said...

Like I said, defensive and self righteous. No one even mentioned abortion. And no one will or should. The differences are more than about abortion.

Gerry said...

Raymond when you don't mention the issue of abortion you are avoiding a very important issue. I have just broken with Doc over his disrespect of my pro life activism, and I have left the family site over it now. I think you are avoiding your own thoughts of suicide which have the potential to destroy you, too. Choice is support of abortion. That is the democratic party platform. If you vote democratic you support legalized abortion. If you are not with me you are against me. If you are not for life you are for death. I know pro life activist men. There is a difference between them and you. You have to put death behind you if you are going to live and do great things.

Chuckh said...

Used to be a politician could argue all day about a bill, and then go have drinks with the other side. But our good buddies in Congress, Newt and the boys, decided a while ago that we could no longer be friends as usual, we could no longer take the gloves off at night. And that has spread to the media people like Rush and Hannity, who constantly assault anything that could rile up both sides of the aisle. All in the name of money and power. Gone are the days of civility in politics. And you are right, Raymond, to say politics has no place in an artistic blog. Arguing politics is like arguing with the moon.

Bohemian Cowboy said...

To Gerry the writer: I have and always will support your freedom of speech as a writer, separately to the way I support you as my mother. Although my blog has very personal memoir within it, I have always sought to be honest, (I learned that from you) and to be respectful of who and what I write about. Never have I been mean spirited (or meant to) about anyone, and that includes you. I am not a political writer. Some people believe that all art is political, and there is a truth to that, but my work is different, in that it doesn't propose to make political statements. It proposes to expose the human condition as a way to examine it, nothing more. To my mother the mother: The writing you are responding to has nothing to do with your passionate examination and work on behalf of the pro-life issue. To make the assumption that because I write leaning somewhat to the left, does not mean I support or push the pro-choice stand, in fact, I haven't honestly explored what I think about the issue. However, the issues between democrats and republicans are more than just that one issue, and further, there are plenty of democrats that have a pro-life stance. This is why my blog will remain focussed on the human condition, (the kind that are devoid of politics), for as Chuck says, now days, you may as well be trying to talk to the moon. There is much that you've said in regard to my personal life that many I know find offensive, (like suicidal tendencies, which is just not fair, and further we have all considered it at one time or another) but if you will notice, I've always kept away from writing about the perceived pathologies that exist in your life. What's the new buzz word, viotral? (sp) And now here is your opinion of my pathology right here for everyone to see. I won't delete, because I support your 'freedom of speech' but to think its not damaging is delusional.