Stemming the Tide
by Amar Gressel
There is no machine except for the one I create with my mind. My rage exists only when I cannot accept that which has been gifted to me.
Rage will never serve to provide peace, only to destroy it.
Do you have any fucking idea who I am? I am a King. I am a small god living in a human body. You have no right to even look at me, you pathetic creature. Why are you so stupid? Why are you so inept? Can’t you see that your problems don’t matter to me? You should be thinking about my problems.
I have lived an uneasy life both listening and arguing with this ally. My mind is an enemy and a tool, my confidence is a boon which oscillates between heroism and arrogance.
I remember in high school my history teacher did a class about apartheid. He created a simulation in our classroom, desks were put into groups and we were given tasks that we had to do. We were told that we had to sit under the desks and draw pictures of diamonds (or something). For every set of pictures, we got some class points (they were very valuable points, in large quantities). We were not allowed to sit in our desks and if we wanted to move around we needed a pass.
Being the bright and intelligent child I was (am), I chose to sit at my desk and refused to do anything. I next convinced my team that we could protest by sitting together and refusing to mine for “diamonds” under our desks. We need not sit on the floor. “What about the points?” My fellow group mates asked me. “There is no way he can give out that many points, and there is no way we can lose that many points either! It’s just for the lesson to have meaning”. Ok, group mates convinced, while 20 students huddled on the floor drawing diamonds, we sat at our desks, nervously smiling.
The boss man came over and demanded to know why we were not on the floor doing our work. Didn’t we understand how many points were at stake?
I told him that we were not going to be doing that. His response was an icy stare coupled with “get on the floor and do your work, otherwise punishments will follow”. After he left, my group began to waver, “dude I can’t fail this class! I have a C already, you have an A it’s OK for you…” Within a few moments all my group mates got onto the floor and I was alone at my desk. I could not believe it, I could not persuade my classmates that they would be safe. I could not guarantee their grades for them and they could not risk my being wrong. Intellectually I knew he could not dock points for protesting. But that security came from my own wealth of confidence and power. I was (am!) intelligent. I had good grades, I had parents who did not pressure me to get good grades. I did not get into trouble. My classmates did not have that wealth of confidence, they needed these easy points, it was too much of a risk to protest with me. As I sat, I was disturbed by how difficult it was to protest something that was clearly wrong and a situation where protesting was the right thing to do. It was very, very difficult to have the courage to stand against.
After class he demanded I help him put the chairs back into place as punishment for my disobedience. I did it. To this day I regret that. I should have walked out the door. I should have left the room. Because even though I loved my teacher and wanted to help him, he kept his hat on when he asked for my help, so I should have kept mine on as well. I so badly wish that I will never waiver in my convictions.
In today’s world, the darkness has entered our minds. That which is despicable is acceptable. That which is horrific is common.
This darkness is everywhere, in politics, in the environment, in our destruction of the environment, in gun violence, abuse, addiction, murder, genocide, the list is endless.
The machine which we are alive in, the evil which is present in this world is a reality we cannot reverse. The evil which is spreading in our world, the machine which is ensnaring humanity cannot be shut-down or unplugged. It cannot be reset or destroyed. The machine of selfishness and non-morality will continue to roll in with the tide. Like the sun setting, the darkness arrives. Yet while there is darkness I can light my lamp and provide shelter to those near me. While the tide rolls forward, I can seek higher ground and wait for the recession. However, I cannot force those who enjoy the dark tide, believing it to be a warm bath, to join me. I cannot uproot them from their baseless pleasure.
I have had dreams. There is a moment where you can dissolve. Into water, into air, into a vast expansiveness that is universal consciousness. You can cease to exist. And in that moment there is an immense peace. A peace that doesn’t stem from a full belly or a good sleep. It’s a quiet hum, a feeling of unity, being part of a whole, experiencing the whole.
I see myself in you. Your struggles are my struggles.
Every day you get to choose right over wrong, love over hate, and peace over rage.
Rage that will not solve our problems. It’s the vision of unity. It’s the warmth of the heart. It’s the strength of love and nourishment of confidence in ourselves that will enable us to do what is right. We must have the determination to stand for what we believe in. To smile in the face of adversary, both external and internal. This determination is not rage, but confidence and knowledge, born of a wealth of love. We are more valuable than what this world is offering.
In one hand I know that I am dust and ash, nothing in this world. In the other hand I know I am the divine king, lord of the universe which was built for me alone. Holding both truths, one in each hand, I will do my best to face the world and spread my lamp of love, both as a servant and king of the world.
Staying the course of a principled path
isn’t always easy – just ask me – but it’s worth it.
Although I love you, you might not always understand
my expression of it – but trust me
– I do.
Featured image via www.wallup.net