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.

 

 

unnamedAmar Gressel

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.

 

 

 

Written for Rage Against the Machine Month.  If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more information Here.   But first, leave a comment and let Amar know what you think about what he said.

 

 

Featured image via http://www.wallup.net

 

16 Comments

  1. Was so strange reading this post because so many lines were as if I had written them myself. Of course, I have that same King issue. My King poem came out of self-examination of why do I feel so hurt when I feel like someone didn’t care about or respect my opinion, and discovered it’s like an ego thing that I think as if I’m a King but everyone out side of my head just doesn’t know it. It was part of my process for understanding that my opinion doesn’t always have to be right, and I can feel okay with others not being interested in what I’m interested in, or caring at all, that doesn’t have to change my mood. Anyways, I really enjoyed your article, navigating the pitfalls of duality without losing ourselves is what it’s all about – that and losing ourselves outside of duality and into the oneness! 🙂

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  2. Wow, Amar. I love this piece. This one I will print up and save (I am old, I still print stuff). Beautiful, self-aware, and complicated! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this so well !

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  3. Thanks so much for writing this Amar. It gives me much to think about as I make decisions on how to respond to events. I loved your description of the assignment. When I taught nursing, and as a psychotherapist, I used experiential ways of teaching. Walking away from the teacher’s request would have been very powerful and you more than likely wouldn’t have had regrets even if your grade or relationship suffered. But going back to the example of apartheid, do you think you would have been willing to give your life for those principles? Martin Luther King did, and the world is better for it, but it is certainly another level of commitment to one’s values.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, look at you just taking it to another level. But I always think of how Amma says so many people are ready to die for a cause but not ready to live for it. Of course Martin Luther King was living for it, but was taken away.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your words are balm to my heart, especially your closing paragraphs. Yesterday i wrote of the Shambhala warriors, who are rising in these dark times, armed wth compassion and insight…bodhisattvas……..i hear a bodhisattva speaking in your words. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved this Amar. And I appreciate deeply the rich side of you that stood up to your teacher almost until the end. Thanks for sharing your experience and your inner world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is a truly inspirational post❤️ one that I would like to hold on to in terms of lesson of self-confidence, conviction, quick thinking and above all, fearlessness. What a delight that you were (from a young age) able to discern from right and wrong! Most of us aren’t even aware of what’s happening around us till we hit puberty! That just goes to say that you re gifted 🙂 and I hope that you continue to inspire us in the future. Thank you so much for adding your voice to the series.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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