**WARNING: this post contains violent references and may be inappropriate for some audiences.
I have failed at parenting my son. Oh, yes, in so many things, like homework, and brushing his teeth every day. At the wise age of twenty he takes life on his own terms rather than by the horns. He is an Eagle Scout, earned his GED, and has a part-time job, but owns neither a diploma nor a driver’s license. All parents fail occasionally; children, don’t come with instruction manuals, and though much is written about parenting there is no universal application.
Today I realized I failed to instill in him an honor for the human being as a human being, and the knowledge of war and violence as a construction of men (well, of mankind; I’ll not be male bashing here, as I love men, however I think they need to love women back in the right way, and the argument of women’s complicity in the military complex doesn’t hold water with me, but that’s a different post). Let’s just say I can find no logical rational justifiable position in defense of war and violence. Not racism, religion, gender, age, politics, whatever you can throw at me as a difference between people will never give any excuse to treat another person less well that you would like to be treated yourself.
The son came into the room laughing, gleeful even, to hear and see a report on the news of American soldiers pissing on the bodies of the”enemy” whom they had just killed. I was horrified. To be honest, his glee made me angry as well as the thought of such a despicable act. I think of anger as an emotion of violence so I have a momentary dis-harmonic feeling in reaction to his statement. My search for health includes mental health, but it can be a fine line when cognitive dissonance is recognized.
Perhaps this was a teaching moment, though I am pretty sure he is still deaf to me. Yet all these many years later I hear my mother’s conversations echoing in my head so maybe there is hope for someday if I keep talking. I love my son; tough love doesn’t work for me, I can’t throw him out into the world until he is ready, but he also needs to know the world out there is not his first person shooter video games.
Americans have become so distanced from death. We don’t help our elders die or touch and wash their bodies when they have given up the ghost. We haven’t experienced organized war on our own soil since the Civil War ended in 1865. No one alive today was here then. Random violence, is just that, random, and so effects neighbors in different ways. We excel at perpetrating silent violence within our own households and at the workplace. What I identify as bullying other people will say is no big deal. When many people see the same event, it’s kind of like playing telephone and the story keeps changing; every person has an individual experience of violence. People who do not participate in violent behavior or thought are mystified when they are forced to experience violence through no fault of their own.
So the lecture ensued. I explained the body urinated upon was a human being, a PERSON carried inside the body of a woman and born hopefully into loving arms. No body deserves to be debased after dying. What’s the point? The person is gone, dead probably through violent, demeaning methods. What will it mean to anybody to pee on an already violated body other than revealing the deplorable thought patterns of the urinator?
He cracked up at the term “the urinator”, at which I scowled and said something like let’s stay on track here.
“But mom, it was the enemy!”
OK, I could go ballistic with that one, yikes!. But I would be showing my own violent reactions to constructs I don’t endorse, condone, or participate in, a circular slippery slope at best.. Deep breath, then another. Buy time to think.
In one facilitated customer service training I attended I discovered how questions could be used to find out what the person is really trying to say but may be unable to do so in so many words. In customer service it’s about finding a way to satisfy the customer’s needs. I find questions to be a fair tool as it allows my son to think for himself and also see where my thinking goes. I asked him, “Who is the enemy?”
“They were!” He didn’t even know which one of the myriad excursions out there he had seen. He didn’t know one “enemy” from the next.
“Why are they the enemy?”
“Well, we’re fighting them.”
“Why are we fighting them?”
Not knowing which war he was talking about, he said, “Either religion, or oil, or money, or power.”
Among others, I agreed. I went on about war being a construct created by people to demonstrate power or obtain power, or give power or create power, and power is fueled by money. I have only the barest knowledge of the actual mechanisms of these constructs but I know in my heart and soul they don’t feel right or good to me. I think every PERSON is as good and valuable as every other PERSON and the only real power in this life and world is the power of helping other people, as well as yourself. Notice I said other people first. You must keep yourself well to help other people so it becomes a fulfilling loop of wellness for all involved. Violence and the constructs of war are not wellness, not in a couple, a family, a neighborhood or community, or a state or nation or world.
The body urinated on was, at one time, somebody’s baby, a child like him who had a name, who grew into a curious toddler, and a loved child and person. Though the culture of the person who owned that body may have been different from the one we know, the difference does not make it wrong or provoking of violence. If all cultures became the same it would be a boring and dull world.
But when every baby, every body, and every culture is honored, each individual, the couple, the family, the community and the nation will become stronger than the construct of war and violence that forces its false constructed strength upon us.
In honor of yesterday’s love day, love thy neighbor as thyself.