HOW MANY OF US HAVE DONE WHAT WE COULD?

A TIMELY (AND EARLY) OCTOBER NEWSLETTER 

Unlike most previous newsletters, which have had a single article about one theme,
this month’s newsletter will consist of notes from my heart related to
several things going on in our world today.

IT’S 5 YEARS LATER . . . AFTER THE ECONOMY CRASHED
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED IN THESE 5 YEARS?

We have recently passed through the 5-year anniversary of the economic crash on September 15, 2008, the day the recession began. What have we learned? What have we really done since then?

I am so deeply concerned about all that has been done in the outer world that may have helped only temporarily, and all that has been done in the outer world that hasn’t helped at all . . . by the government, by companies and corporations, by states, communities, families, and individuals.  We need to take action in the outer world. Of course we do. But if we only take action outside us . . . what is inside us that unconsciously drives us in the outer world will remain unknown, untouched, untransformed, unhealed. And as a result, eventually, whatever action we have taken will be undone, undermined, turned upside down and inside out. The consequence of what lies within beneath our awareness, in the shadows of ourselves.

There are so very many possibilities of what could be driving us individually and communally that hasn’t been tended to. Here is just one.

What about all the people in our country and our world who made an early decision in their childhoods that affects our economies today? What about all the people who decided:  I’ll never have enough? 

Their early decision could have been about something physical like food or warmth. Imagine a baby who isn’t getting enough food because he can’t keep his food down. Or imagine a baby who needs to be swaddled more warmly, and is cold all the time. The early decision could also be about something emotional, which to a baby is actually very physical. Imagine a baby needing more connection with mother. Perhaps the bonding isn’t taking place because of something going on with the mother. Perhaps she is physically ill. Perhaps she’s triggered by something about her baby – maybe a reminder of her own frightening infancy.

The baby makes a decision, which then doesn’t have words, of course. But the inner experience of the baby is of not having enough, never having enough. And later, as a child, the words that connect with the experience come, either into consciousness and maybe even spoken; or maybe only unconsciously in mind.

Maybe one baby who has made that early decision will grow up and live the decision again and again, finding him- or herself never having enough. Maybe that baby will not have enough food, or warmth, or money to purchase them. Maybe another baby with that decision will grow up and push and push and push to get enough. Maybe that second baby, for reasons yet unknown to us, will make lots of money — money to purchase food and warmth and more.  To us it would seem that person certainly has enough. But having made the early decision I’ll never have enough, that person will keep working to make more . . .

And more and more and more and more.  People may write that person off as just “greedy,” but the truth is . . . that person is just as driven by an early decision as the person who is going without food and warmth.

Do you see the impact of the early decisions we make?

So, how many of us in the US and how many of us all over the world have done our inner exploration in these 5 years to find our early decisions relating to money and the economy and to heal them – the early decision itself, the consequences that have developed from the early decision, and the roots of the early decision in childhood?

Have you?

And if we haven’t done our own inner work with this . . . how can we possibly expect anything to really change in 5 years? Or 10? Or 20? Or more?  And how can we possibly expect anything in the outer world to sustain?

*****

WE’VE HAD SO MUCH VIOLENCE OUT IN FULL VIEW IN OUR WORLD.
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

9/11. Columbine. Aurora, Colorado. Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The Boston Marathon.  Washington, D.C. Navy Yard. Nairobi, Kenya mall attack.  Unfortunately this names just a few of the incidents publicly known.

What have we learned? What have we done? We can’t even claim successful action in the outer world.  We can’t even establish laws that would protect. And in the news as I write this, there was once again talk about mental health. People deem those who are violent “mentally ill” and talk about getting health care benefits for the mentally ill. There’s a controversy over health care benefits. Not that working for benefits for trauma isn’t important.  But in addition to making sure those who need help can get it, we need to also address a larger question: what kind of treatment are they going to receive?  Medication? Training on controlling their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. And nothing more? And what about the choice we need to make: whether we’re going to stay on the surface or go to the root?

Again, I am so deeply concerned about all that has been done in the outer world that may help only temporarily, and all that has been done in the outer world that hasn’t helped at all and won’t help at all, really . . . by the government, by companies and corporations, by states, communities, families, and individuals.  We need to take action in the outer world. Of course we do. But if we only take action outside us . . . what is inside us that unconsciously drives us in the outer world will remain unknown, untouched, untransformed, unhealed. And as a result, eventually, whatever action we have taken will be undone, undermined, turned upside down and inside out.  The consequence of what lies within beneath our awareness, in the shadows of ourselves.

There are so very many possibilities of what could be driving us individually and communally that hasn’t been tended to.  Here is just one.

We need to concentrate on all violence, not just occurrences we consider public tragedies.  We need to focus on bullying everywhere it occurs . . . at home in our families, at school, in religious institutions, in doctor’s offices, in companies, in the military, in the Congress, all over the world in war. And by everyone who bullies . . . even parents who bully their children.

We need to understand that this kind of pervasive violence in our societies begins in our homes, begins in our childhoods. We need to know that when a child has experienced violence, that child will somehow repeat that violence . . . whether visiting it upon someone else, upon him or herself, or just carrying the potential beneath consciousness until at some point there is an experience that is “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” At that point, the violence is enacted.  And the vicious cycle begins again. People suffer from the violence and then will carry that on with them to enact themselves at some point.

The truth is . . . we need to re-weave the fabric of our societies and help people heal their childhood wounds to the root. And we need to intervene where people are acting out their childhood wounds on others, so that the children of today and tomorrow don’t suffer wounds that they don’t heal . . . then passing them onto future generations.

There is far more violence going on in our world than we can even imagine. Than some of us are willing to know. It keeps coming out into the open, calling us to do the work to heal it. Not by fighting. Not by laws. But by healing, truly healing it.

There’s so much more to be said, so much more to be taught, so much more to be done. But the inner work of healing is the core.  It’s the heart of the matter.

Do you see the impact of the wounding each of us has experienced?

So, how many of us in the US and how many of us all over the world have done our inner exploration even since 9/11 to find our own early wounds that may have been experiences of violence or could possibly cause violence?

Have you?

And if we haven’t done our own inner work with this . . . how can we possibly expect anything to really change in 5 years? Or 10? Or 20? Or more?  And how can we possibly expect anything in the outer world to sustain?

*****

WILLFULNESS – THIS NEEDS TO BE HEALED 

There is so much willfulness out in the open in our world today.  It cannot be hidden anymore. It is coming out into the light of day where we can notice it, see it, name it, and heal it.

Willfulness:  planning, threatening, taking action without concern for potential harm to self or others, without concern for the feelings, needs, safety of self or others, the consequences be damned.

We have seen this with those who have been violent – individually, in groups, and as heads of state. We have seen this most recently in Syria, with the chemical weapons used against Syrian citizens . . . the consequences be damned. We have seen this with banks and corporations who  set the economy up to crash and individuals to lose their life savings, their homes, their jobs, and more . . . the consequences be damned.  We have seen this with people like Bernie Madoff who cheated people out of the means with which they were planning to take care of themselves and their families . . . the consequences be damned. And we are watching some members of government on the verge of creating a disaster with the US economy and the world economies . . . the consequences be damned.

Just as we need to let what’s happening in the outer world in relation to money and in relation to violence be a mirror of what we need to look at in ourselves . . . so also do we need to look at our own willfulness.

Do you see the impact of the willfulness each of us has experienced?  And the impact of the willfulness each of us has enacted or may yet enact?

So, how many of us in the US and how many of us all over the world have done our inner exploration to find our own willfulness??

Have you?

So much is happening in our world today that shows that we need to make real sustainable change . . . from the inside out. But if we haven’t done our own inner work with willfulness . . . how can we possibly expect anything to really change in 5 years? Or 10? Or 20? Or more?  And how can we possibly expect anything in the outer world to sustain?

On the other hand . . . imagine if, as part of making those changes, we all make the commitment to do the inner work we need to do to heal those wounds which are hampering our efforts at sustainable change . . . Imagine how different our world would be!

It begins with each one of us . . . one by one by one.  It begins with you.  Will you make the commitment to do your inner healing work with your relationship with money? With your relationship with violence?  With your relationship with willfulness?   Will you do your part in helping to heal both yourself and our world?

© Judith Barr, 2013

****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Many of us are working to help bring change to our world – seeking an end to poverty, violence, abuse of power. As you help to work toward those changes, you can help your own efforts by acknowledging your own wounds, how they impact your life and the lives of those around you, and by making a deep commitment to do the inner work needed to heal those wounds in the inner world so you can help create and sustain true and lasting change in our outer world.

A good start would be becoming aware of your feelings as you go through your day. How intense are your feelings? Are they more intense than the situation warrants? If so . . . can you trace those intense feelings back into your early life? When before have you felt this particular feeling? How far back in your life can you remember feeling this way? And what situations in your early life caused you to feel this same feeling?

You may find, as you go deeper and deeper into the roots of your feelings, that you need help to tease apart the here-and-now situation from those ancient roots. You may find you need the help of a caring, integritous therapist . . . and if you do, commit to finding the right therapist for you, and working with him or her to go deeper and deeper in your journey . . . all the way to the roots!

If you’re open to sharing what this article brought up for you, I welcome your emails.

We can help create sustainable change in all areas of our lives and the life of our world . . . if we are open and willing to devote our time and energy, our mind, body, heart, and soul, to exploring and healing our own inner worlds.

12 YEARS LATER . . .

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
HOW HAVE WE GROWN?
HOW HAVE WE HEALED?

It’s almost a dozen years since the terror attacks of 9/11. And here we are in a painfully similar moment and stance as we were that day and then developing after that.

What have we learned? Are we still acting in the outer world without making any real changes in our inner world? Do we respond with kindness and compassion in tragedies like tornadoes, floods, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Sandy Hook shooting, but fail to respond with kindness in our own back yards and at home? Do we respond with kindness and compassion in the aftermath of disasters, but find ourselves unable to sustain it? And in the absence of the sustaining, return to our prejudices and hatreds and fears of people who are different from us – people whose skin is different, whose religion is different, whose way of being is different? Do we take action against them? Speak out against them? Judge them aloud or silently? Are we aware we are judging them, or do we just believe we are saying, thinking, or feeling the truth about them?  Or more subtle still, do we believe we are continuing to be kind and compassionate and yet have currents of thoughts and feelings deep within us – beneath our awareness – that are the opposite of that, or shades of cruelty and unfeeling?

Do we respond with kindness and compassion in the world outside our home, but at home act – however consciously or unconsciously – with cruelty, mean spiritedness, and closed heartedness?  Do we demean our partners? Ridicule them? Shame them? Do we judge them? Do we yell at them? Do we strike out at them – mentally, emotionally, or physically? Are we so unconscious that we believe we are justified? Do we treat our children the same way – however blatantly or subtly – and again believe we are justified? Have the right?

Do we have any idea at all when we are being triggered?  When our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are evoked by something in the current day … but our reactions are not current day. They are the reactions we had and developed long, long ago in childhood when we were hurt, wounded, or even traumatized.

Do we realize when that happens – when we are triggered – it is the child still alive deep within us that is reacting with the power of the body, the physical strength, the mind, the personality of an adult?  Do we have any real understanding of what this means?  Do we really comprehend that in crucial moments we are making decisions and acting on the thoughts, feelings, and early decisions of a child — not those of the adult we believe we are? That the child still alive within us is driving the show…in the most critical times in our life?

If you don’t realize this…
If you don’t take this seriously…
If you don’t find a way to understand this…
If you don’t explore this for yourself, within yourself, in your own life…
you will not only continue to feed what is getting repeated in your personal outer world…
you will also continue to re-create and re-enact it instead of resolving it.
And in addition…
You will also continue to feed what is getting repeated in our communal outer world…
You will also continue to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution in our outer world.

*****

To get a clearer sense of what I’m describing … read on. The example will be blatant to help make the impact more easily understandable. But the same dynamics apply however blatant or subtle.

Imagine you are a child. You live in a family with a mother and father and a couple  siblings. Your mother yells at you and even hits you from your earliest years. Your father demeans you, ridicules you, and leaves you on your own to figure things out for yourself. You feel hurt, angry, and scared … but don’t know what to do to protect yourself. You bury your feelings. You disconnect your own awareness from the painful feelings. You start to find ways to react that you hope will keep you safe from more hurt and pain. Taking care of Mom and Dad. Trying to please them no matter what. Repressing your emotional self, becoming really “logical,” and using your mind to defend yourself. One of your siblings cries in response to your parents’ painful treatment. One of them becomes tough and angry and lashes out. You become very logical and have contempt for both of them for being unable to “control themselves.”

You grow up and “fall in love.” You go from partner to partner, then marriage to marriage … each time ending up with a partner who has some combination of the traits of your mother, father, and siblings.  If your partner cries in response to being hurt, you react with contempt … as a way to defend yourself against your own hurt – not just your here and now hurt with your partner but also your deeply buried hurts in childhood. If your partner acts tough and angry and lashes out, you come back with contempt and logic. If your partner yells at or hits you … you use your logical mind to try to calm your partner down … or perhaps some of your deeply buried anger comes flying out, out of control, in spite of your efforts to keep it buried. But most of the anger that explodes is the anger from Mommy’s hitting you and Daddy’s demeaning you many years past … deeply buried and hidden anger that has been triggered by your partner’s hitting you.

When this happens, instead of reacting and firing your anger on your partner, you need to take this clue for healing and go find someone to help you do the therapy to heal this.  Without the therapy to truly heal this – at its roots – you will continue to find partners like this … and have no idea why you are recreating the same thing over and over and over again. Without real depth therapy, you may stay with your partner and co-create the same scenario many times over. Or you may leave your current partner and find another, only to be shocked when you discover you’ve picked yet one more partner like Mom.

Again, if you do not resolve the pain at its source long ago, you will re-create it again and again in your life ahead.

If this is true for individuals, then it is also true for communities, countries, our world. That is why we keep coming back to the same places again and again.

That’s why, for example, we still have domestic violence, and it is normalized by many in the public and certainly by parts of the law. We can’t end domestic violence by only doing things on the outside; we have to do the inner healing work.  That’s why we still have rape, and so much of it. We can’t legislate rape away. We can only create consequences for it. To end rape we have to do the inner healing work. That’s why we can’t end the inequities and tragedies in relation to money only on the outside, only with outer actions. We have to do the inner healing work.  And that’s why we can’t end war only in the outer world.  We also can’t end it only with our longing.

Ironically, John Kerry said something similar but unfortunately stopped there.

We know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war – believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, calling for action against Syria

He is accurate.  We can’t end war simply by longing for it. John Kerry would have us take action. And sometimes, in some circumstances, we do need to take action.  But the truth is: We can’t end war simply by taking action. Simply by longing for it. We have to do the inner healing work to back up the longing, to make fulfilling the peace we long for truly possible – from the inside out.

We can’t end war simply by letting our longing lead us to praying for it. We can’t end war simply by pretending to ourselves (and others) we are at peace within.  We can’t end war simply by once again pushing our own inner conflicts and wars back down into the underground, burying them once again.  In order to truly end war … we absolutely must do the inner healing work. The inner work to discover and explore the conflicts and wars within us and to resolve them within … on the deepest levels of our being.

Otherwise we will find ourselves individually and communally creating the same circumstances over and over and over and over again … till at long last, after experiencing the painful consequences time after time, we will have no choice but to do the inner healing work.

© Judith Barr, 2013

****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE …
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

It has been 12 years since the tragedy of September 11, 2001… and we all, individually and communally, need to ask ourselves: what indeed have we learned?

You can greatly help heal all arenas of our world – from the national and world stage, down to your own individual life – by doing the inner exploration and healing we each need to do as we go about our day. Start by asking yourself:

What have I buried?
What have I become unconscious of?
What triggers me?  And can I trace back the feelings I have when I’m triggered to some specific times in my early life?
What have I created over and over again in my life and in the lives of those around me?
What have I learned? How have I grown? How have I healed?

I invite you to share with me the fruits of your exploration at this crucial time in our lives and in our world.

Imagine what our lives would be like, if we all did this inner exploration! Imagine what our communities … our country … our world would be like!

If We Stay on The Surface . . . We End Up Suffering and Creating More Suffering . . .

Part 4:  Violence Within and Without.

SINCE THE BOSTON MARATHON . . .

The Boston Marathon Bombings were tragic – for everyone. Not just for those who were killed and injured. Not just for those who lost people dear to them. Not just for those who were walking or eating or studying nearby. Not just for that day. And not just for that week. It was tragic for all of us near and far. It was tragic not only in its occurrence but in its aftermath, too.

Whether you’ve watched the news, listened to the news, read the news via hard copy or internet, talked with people, witnessed and experienced events first hand . . . here’s what we’ve seen and experienced most frequently, most consistently, most openly since April 15, the day of the bombing.

Yes, we’ve seen courageous, quick-thinking, quick-acting people tend to the injured, even save people. We’ve seen people help those who have been hurt and traumatized. We’ve seen people act lovingly towards each other. But as the shock just began to wear off, we began to see also . . . defenses against the pain and fear rising and growing. The face Boston presented was Boston Strong – we’re tough – “they can’t keep us down.”  Resiliency is a true and needed gift, individually and communally. But not hardened as a mask against vulnerability. They showed people rising above the vulnerability of the experience, above the real feelings to the defensive feelings, postures, and actions. And there was a lot of finger pointing, blame, and hatred, not just in Boston, but definitely in and around Boston. According to someone dear to me living in the Boston area, people were vicious and blood thirsty . . . people in public, people in the workplace, people on the media. Not all people, but so many! It was like a re-run of post 9/11 – the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” And instead of feeling the grief and vulnerability and allowing it to be the place from which we moved forward, turning someone into the enemy, building defenses, and fighting. Instead of finding out what is our responsibility and what is someone else’s and holding both accountable – pointing our fingers outward at someone and spewing hatred and blame at them . . . at as many others as we need to in order to not look at ourselves and our own responsibility.

Of what I heard, there was one sane voice in the crowd in the aftermath of the bombings. That of Tom Brokaw. On Meet the Press the Sunday afterward, he said that we need to get to the roots of it; we need to look at our part; we need to see the part that our drones play in the feelings others have toward us and the actions they take; and we need to use this opportunity for all of us to take part in a discussion about violence in our culture. Thank you, Tom Brokaw! It’s a good start. A brave start. Saying things that when said by others caused them to be attacked for being unpatriotic.  But you have the credibility and respect to say it and pull it off. Although . . . there wasn’t very much said about your having said it. Except in a couple places I saw, it was kind of buried underground.

Still you said it, Tom. And I do thank you. But we have so much further to go. I wish you would join with me, Tom, to help people go farther, go deeper. For if we don’t go to the roots – even deeper roots than you were speaking about – we will just have more of the same. We will just see more of the same. We will just create more of the same.

I want to give credit to Noam Chomsky, too. Though two plus weeks later, he said it again, in an Alternet article on May 2. He said it a little differently . . . even more graphically:

“On April 23, Yemeni activist and journalist Farea Al-Muslimi, who had studied at an American high school, testified before a US Senate committee that right after the marathon bombings, a drone strike in his home village in Yemen killed its target.

“The strike terrorized the villagers, turning them into enemies of the United States – something that years of jihadi propaganda had failed to accomplish.

“‘His neighbors had admired the US,’ Al-Muslimi told the committee, but ‘Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads. What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.’”

I say to you also, Noam . . . Thank you. But . . . we have so much further to go. Please join with me to help people go deeper. For if we don’t go to the real roots, we will just have more of the same. We will just see more of the same. We will, to our own disbelief and horror, create more of the same. And we will continue to believe it is outside our control . . . disconnected from us.

Because we are so disconnected from ourselves.

The violence has been increasing. It has already been expanding and escalating. Look what’s been in the news since the Boston Marathon tragedy:

Jodi Arias was convicted of the first degree murder of her ex-boyfriend. Ariel Castro was caught for kidnapping, raping, holding captive, and torturing three teenage girls. Jeffrey Krusinski, head of U.S. Air Force sexual assault prevention unit was charged himself with sexual battery for allegedly groping a woman in a parking lot. Sexual abuse in the public amongst citizens; sexual abuse in our military; sexual abuse in our religious communities was revealed in the Catholic Church long ago; and sexual abuse in our politics and government. That isn’t all. But that in itself shows the pervasiveness of violence – in this case sexual violence – that occurs in our society . . . not just in and by “those people out there.” People in another country, another state, another community, another ethnicity or culture, another family.  But also sometimes in people close to us and in us, too.

In fact, it could be anyone. A doctor, lawyer, teacher, minister, priest, rabbi, banker, government official, world leader. A father, mother, brother, sister; aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather . . . In fact, it could be anyone who was abusing and anyone who was abused.  In the 1950’s, there was a Miss America named Marilyn Van Derbur. She was from an upstanding family in Denver, Colorado, with a father who was a pillar of the community – a philanthropist, socialite, businessman, and board member. Some years later it was discovered that he had sexually abused Marilyn and her sister, Gwen, for years. (Her two other sisters have declined comment.) She had completely split that part of her daily experience off from her conscious awareness. So . . . anyone could have been abused. Anyone could be being abused. Anyone could abuse others. That is to say that anyone could have violence in his/her experience or potential.

Here are some more examples since the Boston Marathon bombings:

The police were caught – this time in Baltimore, Maryland – once again brutalizing someone – in this case, a woman who filmed their abuse, while her 2 year old child looked on, all alone in the car; the police threatened to take the woman’s daughter away, and refused to call the woman’s mother to take care of the child.

A man in Washington State, in ongoing dispute with his neighbors, bulldozed their homes down and cut the power to thousands in the community for up to 12 hours.  Neighbors said that he could be the kindest person and in seconds turn on you.  How many people could say that about one of their parents?

There are reports that the suicide rate in the US has jumped . . . sky rocketed.  For example, the rate has jumped from 1999 to 2010 for 35- to 64-year olds:  an increase of 50% for men in their 50’s and an increase of 60% for women between 60 and 64.

The numbers on child abuse in the US are staggering. Approximately 681,000 children were victims of maltreatment (unique instances) in 2011 alone. More than 78% of reported child fatalities as a result of abuse and neglect were caused by one or more of the child victim’s parents.*

According to Unicef: “A small group of countries – Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Norway – appear to have an exceptionally low incidence of child maltreatment deaths; Belgium, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Hungary and France have levels that are four to six times higher. The United States, Mexico and Portugal have rates that are between 10 and 15 times higher than those at the top of the league table.”**

In the home: There are 35 countries in which corporal punishment of children by their parents is outlawed. The United States of America is not among them.  And none of the states in the U.S. has prohibited corporal punishment outright, although as the result of the wording of its child abuse laws in 2012, Delaware has effectively, though subtly, “banned” it.***

In the school:  There are 113 countries prohibiting corporal punishment in schools. The United States of America is not among them. **** In US schools, 30 states have banned any form of corporal punishment. But that means there are still 20 states in our country that allow corporal punishment in school. *****   Of course just because a law is passed, doesn’t mean it’s followed in the privacy of a home, or less so of a school; and it doesn’t mean that law is held in high esteem.

It is 2013, and there is only a single state in the United States of America that has legally banned the corporal punishment of children in their homes by their parents! It is 2013, and there are still 20 states in the U.S. that allow corporal punishment of children in schools! The meaning of this goes deeper than most people can or perhaps want to imagine. But we all need to imagine and know.

So many of us in the US consider ourselves so civilized – individually and as a country. And yet, we inflict such violence – by commission or omission – upon our children.  And violence inflicted upon children ends up coming back to haunt not only the children themselves, but also our society . . . and our world.  Not only today, but for generations and generations to come.  I was going to say, the violence haunts those in contact with the children once they’ve grown. But it seems the children are acting out the violence younger and younger as time goes on. Look at just a few of the most widely known violent events by young people in the past months:

* Adam Lanza, age 20, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut.

* High school football players in Steubenville, Ohio rape, photograph, and transmit the photos of a 16 year old girl they “handled” like a mere object.

* Three 16-year olds from Saratoga, California, raped 15-year old, Audrie Pott, photographed the attack and spread the photos online and off; Audrie killed herself.

*12-year old Bailey O’Neill, died after being brutally beaten by bullies in his school in Philadelphia.

Not only is the violence escalating and expanding and coming more and more out into the light of day . . . the ways of helping people deal with their experiences of violence are being distorted and constricted.  The kind of therapy that could help deeply heal what has created the violence and what is now creating the violence is being pushed aside in the U.S. by the APA, NIMH,****** and the prevalence and encouragement of short-term, “quick fix” therapies that help people “just function” and “just manage” their symptoms, in lieu of uncovering and revealing the cause and healing to the root.

With so much violence escalating in such a short time, we need to look back to ourselves…

Too many of us just turn away and don’t deal with the violence . . . don’t take in that it’s occurring and growing. Don’t look to see the cause, or to resolve it. Yes, it’s painful, but we can’t just ignore it. We can’t just hide from it. We can’t just bury it again and again.

At the same time, so many of us find ourselves riveted to the television reports of violence, while simultaneously bemoaning the violence we’re seeing. Pointing to the “perpetrators” and calling them “the evil ones” and “the monsters.” Even supposed television “psychological experts” acknowledged that Castro in the Cleveland tragedy must have been horrifically abused and sexually abused as a child, yet insisted he is “a monster.” In fact one purported expert, used “monster” as his “diagnosis” for Castro. Even the experts, like the one mentioned above, feed the violence – blaming others and not taking responsibility for their own part in the violence in our country and in our world.

Have you ever wondered why you are so riveted to the reports about the violence?  It is because of the violence within ourselves. The violence we experienced as little children, up close and personal and also nearby – whether on the television, in the neighborhood, in our country. It is because of the violence we experienced in relation to our own families, our own parents – even our own mothers. It is because of the wounds still alive within us related to violence somehow, but rooted in our earliest experiences.

The riveting is because of the meanness, the cruelty, the abusiveness, the violence . . . that was normalized one way or another, in our homes and in our culture. A few examples:  I’m not being mean; you’re just too sensitive. How else am I supposed to control you? Get you to do what you’re supposed to do? I wouldn’t have to discipline you, if you would be a good boy/girl. This is how we do things here. Turning things around against the child. Blaming it on one’s “job” as a parent. Doing it under a guise, like “discipline.” Citing the laws and mores of the culture. You can’t imagine how many conversations I hear or hear about where people are justifying their yelling at, spanking, hitting, pinching, their children. Verbal, emotional, physical, and spiritual violence, too – all accepted, all excused, all dismissed as okay in “our world.” This kind of violence causes a child to shut down his/her feelings, burying them, giving them a place to fester and become violence later in the child’s life.

That riveting is because of violence within . . . unresolved. If we can look at the violence outside us and keep our attention on it . . . we don’t have to focus on the violence within us. The violence that perhaps we experienced or witnessed as children. Some of it conscious and some of it buried in our unconscious minds, our hearts, our bodies. And the violence we feel in response. Some of it conscious and some not conscious at all. Some of it we may have acted out in our lives; some of it we may fantasize; some of it we may try to keep from acting on; and some of it we may one day act out . . . harming ourselves and others.

Whatever our individual relationship with violence – past and present – we need to explore and heal it to the root. Otherwise, it will create our relationship with violence in the future. It will create our individual relationship with violence. And it will participate in co-creating our communal relationship with violence in the future.  It will show up somehow – subtly or blatantly – in our violence with our children, our partner, our peers, our selves . . . with everyone in our world. And if we don’t heal this to the root . . . we will get caught in a vicious cycle of escalating violence. We already are caught in that vicious cycle. But we are not yet so caught that we can’t free ourselves. We need to extricate ourselves from the cycle of violence in a healthy way – by healing it one by one by one in those who have experienced violence in their childhood – and to dissolve that cycle fully.

This is not about people who are deemed “mentally ill.” This is about all of us. We all need to pay attention. If we don’t pay attention, we will continue to feed the cycle of violence, individually and on a large scale. We will continue to be wounded, violent people; we will continue to “create” wounded, violent people, and we will continue to create a wounded, violent society and a wounded, violent world.

If you grow up with violence – blatant or subtle cruelty – you will have within you many feelings, including anger and hatred, both of which are feelings that are warranted in those situations. Both of which need safe expression for your health. Neither of which can cause any harm if they are simply felt and safely expressed. But that kind of feeling and expression is not safe in a family where there is child abuse, violence, and cruelty. Alice Miller talks about this at length in her book For Your Own Good:  Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence. There are so many excerpts from her book that I would like to include in this article . . . too many to be possible. But here are three quotes that stand out amongst the crucial understandings she offers:

“Since the path to safe, verbal communication based on a feeling of trust was blocked for them, the only way they were able to communicate with the world was by means of unconscious enactment.” – p. 241 [My note:  What she called enactment is also often called “re-enactment” or “acting out.”]

“Not until the end of the drama is reached do these enactments awaken in the world feelings of shock and horror. The public at large unfortunately does not experience such intense feelings upon hearing reports of battered children.” – p. 241 [My note:  So . . .  the Newtown tragedy got our attention, but the mistreatment of Adam Lanza at his school did not. And in similar manner, Ariel Castro’s kidnapping and raping of three girls and particularly their escape, got our attention, but the abuse Ariel Castro suffered at the hands of his parents and the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of an uncle when he was young . . . did not get our attention. We need to see this in individual cases, but also in the societal norms, when the patterns of child abuse don’t get our attention until they are somehow acted out in horrific enactments.]

“For parents to be aware of what they are doing to their children, they would also have to be aware of what was done to them in their own childhood. But this is exactly what was forbidden them as children. If access to this knowledge is cut off, parents can strike and humiliate their children or torment and mistreat them in other ways, without realizing how they are hurting them; they simply are compelled to behave this way.” – p. 262  [My note: If we hide our own young experience in our own unconscious – under the guise of idealizations, illusions, normalization, or just plain denial – we also hide our cruelty toward our children behind those same walls of silence and defenses against pain.]

Going back to last month’s Mother’s Day newsletter article and looking ahead to Father’s Day in the month of June. . . This is what a loving mother or father would teach us.  And the most loving thing a mother or father can do. They would do their own inner healing work with their experience of violence . . . with a commitment so strong that nothing would get them to break it. Although painful, they would want to know and work through their own childhood experiences of violence. Although painful, they would want to know and do their part to work through the consequences that their childhood experience of violence had on others in their life later.

Truly loving parents would want to help us see our experience of violence and our acts of violence, as well. Truly loving parents wouldn’t just – under the guise of love – let us keep up our hardened defenses against our early experiences of violence, and wouldn’t just – under the guise of love – let us keep up our own acts of violence, however subtle or blatant, and be silent about it. Truly loving parents wouldn’t just use a mask of love to “make” us feel good about ourselves, instead of truthfully bringing us face to face with the parts of ourselves that need healing and with the real fulfillment that can come from our being willing to heal.

Truly loving parents are self-responsible parents and teach us to be self-responsible. Truly loving parents would offer to help us see ourselves and our need to heal . . . and love us through the healing. They would join truth and love together. Without real truth, love is just a wishy-washy imitation. And truth can be just a brutal battering, a form of violence in itself, if we don’t join it with love. Truly loving parents join love and truth together and love us through wherever it leads us in our healing and our becoming our fullest, most positive potential self. . . .  individually and communally.

© Judith Barr, 2013

MY NOTE:  After I wrote this article, but before I posted it, the tornados in the mid-west occurred. So many died in them. And so many children died in the tornado in Oklahoma. It is tragic.  My heart breaks for everyone who suffered from the tornados. I send many blessings.

My heart also breaks for this:  Why do so many parents feel the vulnerability of their children when they go through a tragedy like the tornado or like Newtown, but don’t feel their children’s vulnerability on a daily basis in their own homes . . . where they yell at their children, ridicule their children, spank their children, or otherwise do harm to these same children?  If your heart breaks when I ask this question, I encourage you to reread this article. I encourage you to re-read the quotes from Alice Miller. I encourage you to read Alice Miller’s book. And I encourage you to find a therapist who can help you reconnect with your own vulnerability in your childhood and heal the wounds you experienced and affect you and those around you still today.

* At the time this article was initially published, The National Children’s Alliance posted the statistics for 2011 mentioned in this article. They have since removed that page. You may view the most recent statistics (2013 and 2014), which are alarmingly similar, here: http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse.

** http://www.unicef.org/media/media_14661.html

***http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment_in_the_home

****http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_corporal_punishment#Country_by_country

*****http://school.familyeducation.com/classroom-discipline/resource/38377.html

******http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/nimh-vs-dsm-5-no-one-wins_b_3252323.html

****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

This month, commit to helping end the cycle of violence in our lives and in our world, by beginning to explore your own involvement in the cycle of violence – both conscious and unconscious. By beginning to explore your own history with violence – both receiving it and acting it out.  By beginning to explore your own currents of thoughts and feelings of violence within your psyche. Or if you’ve already begun, by taking the next step.

How do you feel when you hear reports of violent events that have happened in our world? Do you join in the castigation of the perpetrator . . . the labeling and naming of the person as a “monster”? What do you do with the fear, sorrow, anger or hatred that wells up within you? Do you act on it? Do you silently indulge it? Do you try to repress it? Or . . . do you try to safely explore and feel it?

This time . . . instead of acting on, indulging, or trying to bury those painful feelings . . . try to trace them back, as far back as you can go in your life. When have you felt that particular ‘flavor” of feeling in your early life? Can you recall the first time you felt that anger? That fear? That sorrow? That hatred? Who in your very young life would you have called a “monster” – if it had been safe for you to do so?

The delicate exploration and healing of the violence and hatred within each of us often requires the help of a trained, professional, integritous, and caring therapist, to help us tease apart the here-and-now feelings from the ancient ones. To help us be and feel safe enough to explore, talk about, and feel. If you need help to heal those currents within and would like to explore doing that with me . . . I would welcome your email.

We can truly heal violence in our world . . . if we are willing and committed to healing the violence within.