Tenderness

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August 9, 2021-

Tenderness, Mutual caring, Each for another.

The above is a Hay(na)ku- a 1-2-3 verse, containing six words, lined as shown.

I saw nothing but tenderness, yesterday, between the three girls and their Nanny. The kids looked after one another, and each other’s personal items. Ages six, seven and nine, they showed no jealousy or lack of understanding, when encouraging each other in their impromptu exercise routines. The woman, for her part, showed the girls the proper way to stretch and kept a light, but constant, vigilance, respecting both the girls’ emotional awareness and the nature of the group.

Tenderness comes a bit harder, when one is tasked with maintaining order in a larger group setting, with people who may not have experienced it very much, in their overall lives. Prisons, mental hospitals, residential schools, and overcrowded, underfunded day schools conjure the notion of ludicrosity, when tenderness is mentioned. It does indeed take a different form, but acknowledging another person’s pain has happened in settings as horrific as concentration camps and plantations of the enslaved.

Tenderness is a key to many things: Resilience, reconciliation, resolution of disputes and the recovery of communities, among them. It is not weakness, but it is the realization of a commitment to pay attention to the needs of others, on a level at which they are equal to oneself.

Say No To Vengeance

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March 19, 2021-

Say no to vengeance, for with it, comes only sorrow. Say yes to reconciliation, the way to a brighter tomorrow.

With vengeance, comes only further bloodshed, as each one wishes to fight back. Reconciliation and forgiveness, do not excuse the wrong, yet show the valour of ending the culture of attack.

Say no to vengeance, with its twists and turns, its innocent victims, whose survivors’ hearts slowly burn. Greet the warmth of reconciliation with its gradual healing. The song of forgiveness with its heartfelt love is appealing!

Set down your weapons, and take up your plowshares, that the dark clouds may part, to a sky calm and fair.

The Way of the Network

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October 30, 2019-

A few days ago, I received a rather terse e-mail from a sometime mentor, to the effect that, if I was not going to support her business activities, then it was “Goodbye”. Throughout my life, I have rarely written anyone off, and even then, not permanently.  I don’t get the sense that this woman is permanently off my radar screen. That is simply not how business works.

Jordan Peterson’s third rule for living is “Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart.”   In childhood, and to some extent in adolescence, I had little choice but to learn to deal with both those who were well-wishers and those who I viewed as challengers, rather than as ill-wishers.  This stemmed from my conviction, even as a child, that we are all just feeling our way in life.  I observed how kids who came across as mean were treated by their own parents.  That made dealing with bullies a lot easier, and made reconciliation, later in life, a fait accompli.

Those whose view of me, and of themselves, is pointed upward are plentiful in number, at this stage of my life. Of course, we must hold each other accountable, as well as being one another’s advocates and cheering sections.  An enabler is not much more than a sugar-coated toxin.

Those whose view of life is pointed downward are, thankfully, rare in my life and it is indeed my job to keep it that way.  The most potentially  problematic, yet easiest to control, is the friendships on social media.  I am judicious about blocking and deleting anyone, with only those who have been hurtful in a big way, or over time, getting the boot.  Accepting online friendships is more of a judgment call, with any hint that a person is not being transparent about their identity, and/or reasons for being on my network, being a red flag.  Beggars, trolls and boastful people have generally not found welcome on these sites.

That said, those who genuinely need, and appreciate, help will always find a place here.  Peterson’s rule does not eschew kindliness and fellowship, nor does my code of living.

After The Blood Harvest

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October 3, 2017, Prescott Valley-

I attended a small candlelight vigil, this evening, at a Lutheran Church on this town’s near north side.  About a dozen people prayed and lit special candles for the victims of the October 1 mass murder in Las Vegas.

I will be processing this horrific event for some time.  Along with smaller, but no less terrible, if personalized, events happening within my small circle, the Las Vegas massacre  has given October an ominous start.  October is a month traditionally devoted to harvest, in the Northern Hemisphere, and planting, in the South of the planet.

The killer, who may, or may not, have had help and encouragement from as far away as the Philippines, left no obvious motive for his mayhem.  We are only left to speculate, which is ever a perilous thing, in and of itself.

The motives of a person, within my neighbourhood, who has taken in recent days to harassing the family of my departed next door neighbour, are much clearer.  He sees them as something of a threat to the value of his property.  This has led him to taunting them, in the midst of their grief.  I am hoping, and praying, that this state of affairs will be resolved peacefully.

Yet, therein lies a key to the entirety of crimes against humanity, large and small.  The enemy, as I said last night, is anonymity.  Many believe, with Robert Frost, that “Good fences make good neighbours”.  While a measure of privacy is good for each of us, in the course of a day, there is a fine line between that reasonable privacy and anonymity.  No one seems to know much about the Las Vegas killer.  No one knew much about others of his ilk, either, from John Wayne Gacy, through Ted Bundy and Gary Tison, to the ISIS-inspired killers in San Bernardino, Brussels and Manchester.

I am a relatively quiet man, who has lived alone for the past six years.  This could very easily lead to people concluding that I am a threat to their safety, especially if I were to maintain a reclusive lifestyle.  Indeed, there are a few restaurants in my town where I am not welcome, when dining alone.  Thus, for the broader sake of becoming familiar to my neighbours, as well as for my own sense of well-being, I have chosen to be active in certain community groups.  It also helps that I have no hidden agenda or any particular mental health issues, unless one regards my mild autism as such.

The latest national tragedy will only see the silver lining of reconciliation, if we as a nation begin to recognize that anonymity and excessive guardedness are what got us into this mess, in the first place.