Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘society’

It’s No Big Deal

GoodGrief_180WFrom Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

“What are you so upset about? It was only your ex-husband.”

“Come on, get over it. You can always get another cat.”

“Hey, you hadn’t seen your friend in years anyway.”

“They were drunk half the time. Who cares?”

“It’s not the same as being married. You just lived together.”

“You only knew them for two months!”

“Weren’t they old? They lived a long life.”

“No, you can’t come to the funeral. You aren’t part of the family.”

These are just some of the comments that people hear, and a small sampling of how their grief is disregarded, after they’ve had a friend, acquaintance or family member die. The losses they have experienced don’t match the images of who and what is acceptable to grieve in our society. And it’s not just others that cause such pain. We are often our harshest critics. We internalize the conscious and unconscious messages we are fed daily and are often confused with the intensity of our emotions and reactions after a death, when our head is telling us we should not be feeling much at all.

Our response to any kind of loss, especially from death, is our bodies natural reaction to the human condition, even though we analyze it, distrust it and, at times, find it hard to believe.

“Why am I getting so upset over my ex-husband’s death? We never got along and I’ve been better off without him.”

No matter what the relationship was like, it was a relationship. There were attachments, habits and shared time that will always effect one’s life. For some, the never-ending hope of reconciliation will have died as well.

“It was only a cat. I know it’s not the same as a person.”

Your cat or pet was a living creature. We can grow just as accustomed and fond of an animal as we can with a human. The same kind of attachments and memories occur.

“We were best friends during high school, but that was ages ago.”

Some friends stay with us forever, whether we see them often or rarely at all. The time we spend together can leave us with lasting imprints, influences and memories, as well as regrets, bitterness or pain.

“This is crazy. His drinking ruined our family and our lives. He was mean and abusive. Why is his death so hard? I thought I’d be relieved.”

Even abusive, negative relationships can cause unexpected mixtures of emotion. Though we may have separated ourselves from the individual, and learned how to fend for ourselves or are still in contact, there is usually some deep feelings of loss over the years that they were not the parent or partner we had wished for. The realization that they have died can also awaken the fact that the opportunity for them to change or be different has died as well.

“We were only housemates. It wasn’t like we were married or anything.”

Whether as a friend, lover, roommate or relative, living in the same household is one of the most intense experiences in our lives. It’s where we learn how to interact with others and provides daily reminders of our differences and similarities. Whether two people living in the same household have their arrangement sanctioned or accepted by others does nothing to diminish the powerful lessons and connections that develop. We are intimately shaped, both good and bad, by those with whom we live.

“I just met them two months ago, but I can’t stop thinking about them.”

The length or duration of a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that it is of greater or lesser importance or impact. Some people we’ve known for years, yet have little connection, do not effect us deeply upon their passing, whereas others we’ve just met leave lasting footprints. The grief and mourning that result from the loss of a recent or longtime acquaintance is VERY individual and unique to that person, as are our needs in grieving their loss.

“Grandma was eighty-five years old. I knew she wouldn’t last forever, but it feels so sudden. I loved her so much.”

The longer someone you know lives, the harder it can be to accept the reality of their death. Even though you may have had time to prepare and say, and do what you needed or wanted to, it can still seem like it came too soon. There are times when no matter the person’s age, you want them to stay forever and their death is devastating.

“They never accepted me. I should have known this would happen.”

You have a right and a human need to attend the funeral and/or memorial of your partner. Your relationship with the deceased was between you and them, not their family or friends. How your relationship was seen or accepted by others is important in your adjusting to the loss, but not dependent upon it.

There are times when those you expect to be of help are not always able or willing to do so. For some, it is too painful. Others find it impossible to stop judging long enough to listen. When you can’t attend the funeral or memorial, due to the deceased’s family, distance or other circumstances, create your own ritual or ceremony of leave-taking. Invite those who will be present with you and share your loss.

Relationships with people and other living creatures are what make us human. It is normal to question, criticize and judge our selves after someone in our life has died. It is also normal to feel pain, frustration, anger, sadness, relief and confusion.

If you don’t get the kind of support and acknowledgment you need from family, friends or colleagues, then find it elsewhere. Don’t minimize, trivialize or try to forget your loss. Find ways to acknowledge, respect, honor and validate your experience and the reactions that have resulted.

Further reading and support at: Good Grief: Love, Loss and Laughter.

Feel So Mortal

9780226105277Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body
by Peggy Shinner
Reviewed by July Westhale
Lambda Literary

“The domestic made lethal – that’s the legend.”
-Peggy Shinner

We live in a society entrenched in matters of the body. Sexualization, fetishization, policing, ableism, movement, tangibility, and the body politic, our corporality is absolutely everywhere. Despite the fact that bodies are subject to intensive scrutiny, the historical origin of how bodies have been perceived throughout time (everything from feet to slouching to undergarments) remains mysteriously out of the realm of everyday knowledge. How is it, for example, that foot shape determined class and stature, traditionally? How has the body been commodified in times of martial economies (i.e., dowry economy)?

In her illuminating book of essays, Peggy Shinner tackles those exact discussions. Using the craft of braided narrative, Shinner weaves together historical fact, socio-political theory, and personal experience to create essays that grapple with our culture’s multitudinous interactions with the body. In her essay “The Knife”, for example, the reader is taken through Shinner’s personal experience as a martial arts teacher, the history of karate and fighting with weapons, the concept of arming oneself against a world that is marginalizing, and what it means to work with your hands in a world of abstract technological importance. Similarly, her essay on kleptomania offers insight into the history of the word (and how it was used to describe a sexual disorder, primarily occurring in women who found amorous rapture in stealing things from department stores), while laying the tracks for her own stories to shine through.

Truly, this is a collection of essays that takes the idea of making the personal global extremely seriously.

Read entire review and others at LAMBDA LITERARY.

Keep Girls Strong

Dear Gabriel,

A baby girl comes into this world brimming with potential – ready to grow, live, and dream.

But too often, society will get in her way, stacking up a mountain of challenges in front of her.

CARE-EOY-2012-COB-2

Sometimes it starts right away by robbing her of her health because of a lack of food or clean water. Sometimes it comes later – when her family cannot afford to send her to school or her local school refuses to allow girls to attend. Before she is twelve, she may even be forced to marry a man twice her age.

For over 60 years, CARE has been addressing the underlying causes of poverty and attacking the obstacles that stand between girls and their ability to realize their full potential.

With your help, we can meet a girl’s basic need for food, water, and a place to live. We can build schools and help communities realize that girls belong in the classroom, not at the altar.

Together, we can help women fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams and watch women lift up their families, and entire communities, out of poverty.

That’s what works… but only when people like you commit to pitching in. Every bit will help rush urgently-needed support to the girls and families who need it – and until December 31st, your gift will be matched. Make a gift now!

That’s right – when you donate before December 31st, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $1 million. This amazing opportunity could not come at a better time.

In many parts of the world, educating and empowering girls is a deadly serious matter. A few months ago, just days before the first International Day of the Girl, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head because of her outspoken advocacy for the rights of girls to go to school. Miraculously, she survived and from her recovery room refused to abandon the belief that girls deserve a fair chance in this world – the kind of chance they get when they go to school.

When girls are willing to show such amazing courage, we must step up to act as safeguards – we must stand strong in the fight to win girls’ right to dream, learn, and grow.

CARE has not only helped build schools for girls in the region Malala calls home – our field staff also partnered with local organizations to rebuild over 40 schools for girls in the country of Pakistan. CARE supports youth activities like sporting events and youth forums. Globally, our education work focuses on girls between the ages of 10 and 14, when they are making the critical transition from childhood to adulthood.

Around the world, we are fighting poverty in many different ways – through repairing community wells, creating village savings and loan associations to help poor communities start small businesses, managing crises, and so much more. When I think about the path to a brighter future, I firmly believe that working with girls is the key to our success.

Please help keep girls strong. Every gift matters – please give today and help us meet our goal of $1 million by December 31st. Every dollar will be matched.

Thank you for everything you do.

Sincerely,

Tolli Love
Vice President, CARE

Transfigurations Forward

Excerpt from Forward of Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

Forward by Jamison Green

Most people experience their gender and their sex as the same thing: most people with female bodies feel like women, and most people with male bodies feel like men. However, not everyone experiences their sex and gender as “aligned.” And while it is common for both men and women to want to improve their appearance in conformity with stereotypes that are ascribed to their sex and gender, when people like me cross gender boundaries to change our bodies, it is often difficult for others to understand.

Some small percentage of people in every race, every class, and – as far as we know – every culture since the dawn of recorded history have felt the need to transform themselves in some way in order to live comfortably with their gender. Debates about meanings of the words “sex” and “gender,” about what is “real,” and what can and cannot be really changed have raged all around us, and accusations of “deceitful” and “delusional” have plagued people like me for countless generations; yet we persist. And we continue to fascinate artists and storytellers, theologians and mythologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, social workers, ethicists, police, and perverts. While some would still make jokes about us, others are taking a new look. And when people allow themselves to experience us as human beings, they are often transformed themselves. Not that they suddenly want to change their own bodies, but that they come to appreciate the integrity of the human spirit in a new way.

Grateful Interdependence Day

Yes, in 1776 we declared independence from the English, but are we really independent? The prosperity the majority of Americans now enjoy, on this day of independence, has come about because of our dependence on millions of people throughout the world. Without the continuing supply of cheap labor from a stream of immigrants and the importation of sixty percent of the worlds’ resources, much of our perceived strength and image of self-reliance would collapse into a pile of deluded dust.

The food we stuff ourselves with daily; comes from a long line of inter-related, inter-dependent actions. Most Americans buy their food at a grocery store, but before it is placed on the counter, in the freezer or on the shelf, countless hands have touched, processed and grown the product we so easily consume. There are the truckers, the farmers, the packagers, landowners, farm workers, equipment, supplies and natural resources, to name but a few.

Our families depend on one another for safety, for health, for education, entertainment, recreation and personal enrichment. Our communities use the assistance of county, state and federal support for finances and security, which come from our neighbors’ taxes, time and contributions.

In spite of these realities, we cling to our separateness, our individuality, our belief that we must all “stand on our own two feet”, “pull up our bootstraps”; be different from “all the rest”.

Sickness, loss and death tend to shatter these illusions. When you’ve had a loved one die, taken care of an ill family member or needed care from others, it’s nearly impossible to remain independent, yet many, including myself, try to “go it alone” and find it difficult to accept help from others. We’ve been so ingrained with the idea of self-reliance that it feels like pulling teeth to ask for or accept help from another.

I often hear from clients that one of the most painful transitions and the most surprising, is how difficult it was for they or their loved one, to ask for or receive assistance and care. To accept someone’s help implied weakness, debt, dependency and shame. It’s OK to give to and care for others (and the sense of control that provides), but it’s not OK to receive or accept the same care from another?

I don’t wish to imply that independence, self-reliance and self-determination are not valuable or important qualities for personal and societal survival . . . they are . . . but at what cost? Must we wait until we’re so sick we can hardly move, so overwhelmed we don’t know what to do next, or in great emotional and/or physical pain, before we remember how close and inter-dependent we all are? Can we use the 4th of July as a reminder not only to celebrate our independence and sovereignty, but also our connection with and gratitude for the lands’, nations’ and peoples’ with whom’ we share this planet?

Norway’s “Cushy” Prison

Here is a very interesting article our son posted on Facebook today. I read it after returning from my weekly volunteering at a state penitentiary in Salinas, CA. A lot of it makes very good sense. Essentially, healthy respected people treat other people with respect and hurt people hurt people.

MailOnline
Norway’s controversial ‘cushy prison’ experiment – could it catch on in the UK? by Piers Hernu. 8th May 2011.

Can a prison possibly justify treating its inmates with saunas, sunbeds and deckchairs if that prison has the lowest reoffending rate in Europe? Live reports from Norway on the penal system that runs contrary to all our instincts – but achieves everything we could wish for

On a clear, bright morning in the tranquil, coastal town of Horten, just south of Oslo, a small ferry slides punctually into harbour. I am to take a short boat ride to the sunlit, green island of Bastoy shimmering on the horizon less than two miles away. It is a curious place. There are no secluded holiday homes or elegant hotels with moorings for passing yachts. The 120 people who live there never visit the mainland, but then why would they?

They spend their days happily winding around the network of paths that snake through the pine forests, or swimming and fishing along the five miles of pebble beaches, or playing on the tennis courts and football pitch; and recuperating later on sunbeds and in a sauna, a cinema room, a band rehearsal room and expansive library.

Their commune has handsomely furnished bungalows with cable TV. The residents eat together in an attractively spacious canteen thoughtfully decorated with Norwegian art. The centrepiece is a striking 10ft long model of a Norwegian merchant ship.

If it sounds like an oddball Scandinavian social experiment, you’d be right. Bastoy is home to Norway’s only island prison. I am here to scrutinize its hugely controversial approach to crime and punishment, and to do so with some knowledge; the last time I set foot in a prison was as a foolish 23-year-old man.

COMPLETE ARTICLE

Surviving in Time of Crisis

Here is the beginning of a very important article by Alison Rose Levy at the Huffington Post.

What You Need to Survive in an Age of Crisis

In this special blog, I’ll share with you what my 30-year survey of the most powerful, little known and guaranteed health interventions has revealed.

There is no pill you can swallow, food you can buy, nor gizmo that confers complete protection from pervasive toxicity, skewed societal consensus or invisible radiation. There’s no place you can go, nowhere you can hide and no authority — scientific, medical or spiritual — who can help you to escape what we’ve all created (or allowed to happen) here on planet Earth. Whether you are rich, poor, young, old, sick, healthy, right or left, no health manna, rural organic garden, island dwelling, nor spiritual belief can give you, me or us an out if we keep on screwing up.

Unless we turn around and heal the disconnect that allows us to misguidedly pursue personal goals, without sufficient care for the health of our society and the earth, than it’s likely our health problems will go from bad to worse.

If facing this sad reality seems disheartening, don’t worry — a lot of us are in the same boat. It’s called planet Earth. We’re worried about it, and we can use your help. Health-conscious people need to do more than take potassium iodide; we need to take action.

However, if this truth is too uncomfortable, or violates your subscription to the All Good News, All the Time network, then retreat to whatever offers you temporary relief. We’ll still be right here when you get back.

Lots of people send me their suggestions and questions, not to mention their latest e-books and requests to blog on The Huffington Post. In the current crisis, they either want, or give, answers: Isn’t it over yet? Are we sure? Take this — no, take that. Don’t take anything. We’ll tell you what to take, and when.

One email boosts a superfood, another social activism, while a third person despairs that industries disseminating toxins or radiation don’t seem to care about the gradual, ongoing, cumulative pollution of our bodies, our waterways and our world by their stuff.

People tell me they feel helpless, believing that they’ve no more influence than a mosquito buzzing round an impervious colossus.

I agree that it’s scary to go from the supposed certainty of taking a pill (or an attitude adjustment) to the uncertainty of stepping up to social activism. Unlike other corners of our market-driven society, restoring skewed societal priorities comes with no guarantees.

COMPLETE ARTICLE AT HUFFINGTON POST

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