Tag Archives: violence

No, Your Hate Won’t Break Our Love

It is unexpressed emotions harboring latent demands for redress which cause violent disruption to society. The seemingly extremes of heinous actions and vitriolic words each casting blame, instead of assuming responsibility and moving positively forward, actually feed eachother to ever escalating destruction. It is in the never ending cycles of human history rife with the absence of hope which manifest anger and discontent and, in some, a call for ‘retribution’. A politician stands up and speaks ‘on behalf of a nation’ with words that only serve to inflame those who hate, and exacerbate the fear amongst the panicked flock who demand a response to their collective fear with demands of isolation, xenophobia, and more brutality.

As Eve Ensler, poet, so perfectly and simply wrote:

“Bullets are hardened tears”.

We must unharden. We must stop the tears and the subsequent bullets and bombs. We must find a way forward between the madness and genius and that fraction of capability to cope with inequities tipping the balance to terrorist actions.

Anger can be a gift that keeps us sane; anger will make us sit-in, go on strike (hunger, walk off our jobs), meditate, light candles, and engage in activism we never imagined embracing fostering beautiful life affirming change. And, just like hundreds of thousands of cherry blossom petals ‘we’, coming together, cast a pink glow over our hurting world.

In various locations in Stockholm statues of St. George figure prominately – in the 12th and 13th centuries his legend came to include the story of a battle with, and victory over, a voracious dragon. In its purest form St. George’s tale is one of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, life vs. death. Stockholm, Homs, Paris, Zliten, Baghdad, Nice, Kabul, Brussels, Boston, London, New York, Orlando, and sadly many other cities share a pain created in the absence of love. Our responses in each of the tragedies we have borne has been resilience and community.

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.” ~ Roger de Rabutin de Bussy

I believe that within us we are both a cherry blossom petal and St. George and the dragon we must slay is hatred, ignorance and fear. We must be kinder, more compassionate, empower not condescend, find a way to ensure hope remains a constant and together build a great reserve of universal love which cannot be extinguished in the name of any God.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal, and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiPlease click here to order my book, thank you! 

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Walk softly, wear pink, and carry a big bamboo stick

Nikita and MadhuThis blog post is dedicated to the memory of Madhu and Nikita, friends age 16 and 17, who took their own lives in India this last week.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise but women really do make up half of the world’s population. And with that the solid density of sheer numbers it would be logical to assume we would be better represented – in everything (and safer). Yesterday morning a gentleman friend in Croatia posted an article to his Facebook wall which included a photo of the NATO gathering in Wales. He offered a comment to the affect that the photo clearly spoke to why our world is in such a state of dis-ease, decline, dysfunction. You would have to be a total idiot not to see that we are on the verge of outright global war as a result of civil wars in the Middle East, the rise of IS (Islamic State) and Vladimir Putin’s testosterone being just a little too high for any of our collective good (and unable to be treated medically); only four women are in that elite group of global leaders. nato wales

Servane Mouzan, brilliant champion of empowering women through her London based effort Ogunte also had a comment about the status of women yesterday; being underrepresented in high tech. Servane’s was an article in Inc. magazine which covered a study conducted by Kieran Snyder (who holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked in tech at very senior levels for more than a decade) about the disparities in performance reviews between men and women – it’s worth the read. And sadly, in the United States – not even one of the top ten countries in the world for gender equality (2012) – a woman will still earn a mere 77 cents to every dollar a man earns doing exactly the same job.

I (still) don’t tend to think of myself as a feminist, but increasingly I am completely disillusioned as to the humanity of a great percentage of men and certainly some women (the ridiculous and the outright mean anti-feminists who deny their gender equal pay while raking in salaries that make their net worth $12million USD basically by being a bimbo) who deny equality.

fruit of thy womb cathy hayes

Fruit of Thy Womb by Cathy Hayes

We are all, without exception, born of the “fruit of thy womb” so when women actually ‘need’ to have a day dedicated to the prevention of violence against them – 25 November – it should be an embarrassment to every single human being on this planet.  I am fortunate. Only once in my life has a man even threatened to hit me (my father) and I have never known the violence of rape but all too many women (and girls) know this terror, live with it daily, suffer needlessly from it.

Against all this I am inspired to the point of near awe at two separate groups of women in India (which ranks 20th out of the G20 countries for women’s rights) and whose paternalistic society breeds rampant misogyny, violence against women, perpetuates child marriages and denial of education for girls and women – the scope of which is heartbreaking and played out daily on both traditional and social media platforms.

First, let me state I don’t condone violence – of any kind. But these Indian women, the current ranks 400,000 of them and growing, walk dressed in flowing hot pink saris like gorgeous butterflies wafting across 11 districts in Uttar Pradesh (a Northern Province bordering Nepal with a pinkpopulation of some 204 million people) carrying long bamboo sticks exacting retribution on men for violence against women; these are the women of the Gulabi, or Pink, Gang. A woman taking on the role as a warrior is not new; recent forensic analysis by the archaeology team at University of Western Australia determined that historic Viking raiding parties were actually made up of 50% women. But those were side-by-side efforts with men, a model of civilization which our whole world would certainly benefit from embracing once again, whereas the Gulabi women are police, jury and judge all in one cohesive unit in a country that tends to turn a blind eye to meting out justice for women.

And now, girls. Amazing young women whose passion and determination to get an education, to avoid becoming a child bride, by owning something of their own and not only increasing their value within their families and communities but more especially to Girls Projectthemselves. I had been aware (in those fleeting moments of social media that slip through our psyches) of girls being taught to garden because of this Sundance Film “After My Garden Grows” by Megan Mylan (for those too lazy to do the math around the dowry conversation 20,000 rupees is the equivalent of $332 USD. Let that tiny amount sink into your brain. I just rediscovered the Girls Project because of this image, at left, the supporting article, of five girls who avoided child marriage by learning to garden.  As a gardener, this made my HEART SOAR! So I dropped the Landesa Organisation a note – and promised to include them in a blog. I cannot encourage your financial support enough. This not simply about young women in India, it’s making our whole world better by empowering our girls, giving them the tools to value themselves and create economic value for their communities. It’s about our respecting that “Half the Sky” is still largely underrepresented, devalued and debased and it’s in all of our best interests to fix this – now.

Do something, anything, in memory of Madhu and Nikita. Namaste. 

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Society under the microscope – male violence, slut-shaming and just plain stupid

50I am not an expert on human sexuality.  My ‘pleasure’ reading has not taken me down paths of Fifty Shades of Grey – though I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Hellenga’s The Sixteen Pleasures despite its less than happy ending.

I have a healthy respect for the pleasure that two consenting ADULTS can provide for, and take from one another.  I can support this post by saying I wear beautiful lingerie, for me.

DSCN9968I own a bespoke corset (not black) be-ribboned and laced with garters (sadly not worn for any reason in several years) because I had an emerald green silk gown made to wear to the opera in Vienna. I am quick to pick out something f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s in a girlfriend’s size to encourage the full ardor of her new lover (even if she has ghost lovers screaming in her head that she is anything but sexy) or make her realise that ‘icing’ in any form really can make a woman feel like a goddess (even when she is not being worshipped).  But, for me, it is the appreciation for and giving expression to ‘beauty’ driving my ethos of mindful sensuality and certainly not something based in subjugation or sensualityviolence. Erotica has existed for thousands of years, just as rapine has over conquered lands has but it is the rise of overt debasement of women over the last hundred years or so that is so troubling to me.

I caught a random Tweet commending a blog post by @AlyssaRoyse entitled The Dangers of Demonizing Male Sexuality. This resonated with me not from personal experience but rather because a woman I am ‘social media acquainted with’ has some rather vocal opinions about men being essentially the most base, ignorant and vile of any-species-breathing-on-the-planet. If you believe something to be true that is precisely what you will continue to experience and manifest that truth as your reality over and over again until it is nearly impossible to break the cycle.  I also maintain that to realize desirable behavior we need to provide clear guidelines to what is acceptable – from everyone in our lives.  Huma Weiner puts up with public humiliation over her husband Andrew’s activities and pundits speak of the fallout halting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential ElectionMadonna, in November 2013 Harper’s Bazaar, speaks of her having been raped at knife point while her biographer Lucy O’Brien cites how this traumatic event became the internal control mechanism for Madonna’s emotional survival and outlet for her creativity. Anoushka Shankar opens up about being violated by a expressly trusted family friend as a child for years.  Miley Cyrus is the latest darling of the publishing world by helping them to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of their magazines by embracing a marketing campaign that diminishes her ‘being’ to a mere object of sexual pleasure likewise Rihanna (and no doubt negatively impacting the lives of millions of girls and women who will be treated as such by men known and unknown to them – gee, thanks alot ‘ladies’! Not.). The madness has to stop!

In the case of growing girls into women who value themselves sufficiently not to pull a Miley Cyrus thereby allowing men who, though they might not actually be F***ing her, to certainly profit from her willingness to “go along, to get along” starts YOUNG. We cannot simply say that “boys will be boys” and condone the violation of, and violence against, women (and girls), and human trafficking, it starts by awareness (to prevent) and in celebrating examples of respect, integrity and reverence for humanity. 

Primarily, as it always has, it falls to adult women to guide this development.  If a woman stays in an abusive relationship, then her son will think that her treatment is what all women want, rather than something that is very wrong. Equally so her daughter witnesses this and the cycle continues. We, collectively, as a human race, must rise up and demand change and meaningful prosecution to shatter the behaviors that allow the gang rape and death of a young woman in Delhi, India or anywhere!  We need to grow women and men who can be proud of themselves for something beyond the place that ends between their legs, in developing a healthy regard for their own sexuality but ensuring that their self-esteem, which can take them so far in life, is rock solid. Damaged souls such as Rihanna and Miley need to own that youthful stars ascendant have the same undeveloped brains as other tweens, teens and young adults but when their choices (artistic and otherwise) make headlines the ripples have far reaching consequences.  

It’s been said, in any number of ways, that it takes a village to raise a child – every child should slut_shamingcome to adulthood with a highly developed sense of self-esteem and grounding which will not subject abuse (of any kind – and there are ALL KINDS) upon themselves or others. 

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal at livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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“Earned” media

Infamy at one time was loathsome to acquire.
Ludwig Tieck the Romantic Period German poet wrote:  “He is not dead who departs from life with high and noble fame; but he is dead, even while living, whose brow is branded with infamy.”
Even so, we should be reminded of 18th century William Hazlitt’s words: “There is a heroism in crime as well as in virtue. Vice and infamy have their altars and their religion.”
The perpetuation of those alters for the sake of ill gained revenue is as dangerous as any act of terrorism. The Rolling Stone’s (marketing) choice of placing the image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover has unleashed a firestorm of commentary and some truly ugly vitriol and justifiable sadness.  ImageEVERY time terrible violence is committed and the media (any outlet) ‘covers’ it ad nauseum we give credibility to the action of violence, to destruction, to pain and suffering. If we want to live in a world devoid of such then we MUST err toward compassion, decency, love, and beauty. We need to fix the issues ON A GLOBAL BASIS which perpetuate mistrust, dissatisfaction, isolation, intolerance, hatred. Admittedly political agendas (and profit margins) do nothing to promote harmony but it would be lovely if all that we celebrate on a personal level manifest as something larger – a rightful claim for our world to be free of ‘bullies’ regardless of their monikers and geographic location. My girlfriend Mia, who recently moved to Boston, posted the following on her Facebook page this morning:

“Those who escape monsters must be careful not to become one.”

After Mia’s comment I sought out the original story, without purchasing the magazine so as not to endorse the Rolling Stone’s use of such a flattering image of ‘Jahar’.  My truth, after its reading; we still only know symptoms, that some of the Cambridge based friends included in the piece acted with remarkable naiveté in attempting to destroy evidence and now have their lives turned upside down as a result, and finally, shattered dreams bare heavy burdens and distort reality. I would offer that most of us have endured our own share of disappointment, anxiety and betrayal. Yet the coping mechanisms of reflection, physical exertion, and prayer or meditation which we take for granted are not warped under the influence of a more dominant (physically and emotionally) force such as Jahar’s brother whose own fractured life seems to have set this horrible scenario moving in the first place. Tajmerlán’s distorted view of his faith and disenfranchisement came on the heels of his parents’ failure to achieve the stability which America once so freely offered it immigrant citizens.  Certainly the story has journalistic merit but a different image (even from another article in the same issue) would have removed the aggrandizement of the act of terrorism.  Alas, that would have been in violation of every marketing principle ever written; it is the conflict of ethics and revenue which fosters my (momentary) return to my freshman journalism class at the State University College of New York at Buffalo. 

We have, at once, come so far from the manual (yes, not even electric!) typewriter which our professor insisted we use and lost so much since 1979. It is not that humanity has not always committed heinous crimes – we have. We have always been equal parts good and evil (yīnyáng, darkness and light) yet it seems to me that in our interest of presenting the full story we run the risk of inadvertently idealizing that which is abhorrent to our goodness – more domestic examples of terrorism such as Charles Manson, Adam Lanza, Timothy McVeigh, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris come to mind (as does 22 States having Stand Your Ground laws which allow other terrors to be realized). But it is the way these stories are told, the sheer volume of information and disinformation, lines blurred by the decisions of editors and publishers which impact what we see, how we might come to think and how we will act. Somehow in giving these (almost always) men their names and faces in our various media outlets continuous ‘play’ we perpetuate their crimes for others surely will continue emulate their actions. It is in a world dominated by but a handful of media conglomerates where the basic ethical principles of journalism find filter and Photoshop to ensure profit where we face our greatest enemy.  

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#freedom

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The cave painters understood, just as Sun Tzu, Ben Franklin, and Georges Danton did, that effective communications (deployed using available technology) can realize extraordinary results.  The Founding Fathers of the United States would have thrilled to the amplification and resonance realized by the advent of social media. I rather like the idea of #freedom having a permanent hashtag, equally so #4July, Tienanmen, Bastille, and so forth. Freedom has always required eloquence and foot soldiers – words only inspire, there has always been the need for those willing to be cannon fodder, to risk their very lives to foster the change. As Tacitus recognized speaking out against the sated complacency of the status quo can be both dangerous and necessary.

It is the rare fortune of these days that one may think what one likes and say what one thinks.

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.

~ Gaius Cornelius Tacitus c. 56 – c.117 AD (various translations)

And so, in this moment, Bulgaria, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Tibet… and, also a world standing up to right the imbalances and ills which plague all of us – human trafficking, climate change, neonicotinoids, fracking, water and food (in)security, avarice, sectarian violence, violence against women, violence against our planet.  Violence seems thematic and, I hate it.  I believe in something purer. Something of the truest nature of our being, of consciousness and love.

Two evenings’ ago I had the blessing of sharing Fourth of July celebrations with my neighbors Cliff and Jennilee and her boyfriend Tim. And this, like a handful of 4 July celebrations standing out in my memory for being truly extraordinary, also involved baseball.

Come with me to Fenway Park, home of my beloved Boston Red Sox and attend a game many years ago now with my friend Juan Carlos, a Cuban émigré (via Hungary and Canada) now fenwayAmerican citizen, and his Cuban brother-in-law. Here you ‘feel’ a 100 years (Fenway opened in 1912) of fellow spectators squeezed, layered together in the love of the game. The cherished Green Monster looms. The smell of baseball lingers—Cracker Jack©, hot dogs, ice cream and peanuts. Dads with their kids. “Cold beer here” chanted over and over to the point that even if you don’t really want one, you need one to complete your place in the montage. There is NO PLACE in America that resonates so sublimely about all that is great about this game and our country as Fenway Park on a bright blue day in July. When the Star-Spangled Banner played my eyes fill with tears of gratitude to be in this place with a man who took enormous risk to be able to sit here.  Humbled to be born here and not have to claw my way, the long way around, to home. The seats, far closer to the field than Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones enjoyed in Field of Dreams© are along the first base line, sunshine spills over us, I can hear in my head the refrain of a pitch perfect soliloquy:

“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”

—James Earl Jones, as Terrence Mann, in Field of Dreams (1989)

But this evening I am watching baseball played between the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. These three friends have ‘treated me’ given the dearth of my current finances for such pleasures.  In 85 degree temperatures my neighbor Cliff kindly shares the coldest top two inches of his beer, which will help to give me a frightful hangover to recover from on 5 July. Behind us a family of dad, a physical stereotype of a US Marine but not actually, his mom, wife/mom and their three gorgeous kids file in, in front of us, four women and two men (also a family) sit. It is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, harmonious energy which surrounds us. In truth it is as perfect as it can possibly be, it is also humbling.  That too much of this perfection is taken for granted by all those 10,000+ people present. I feel it, but intellectually come to understand this as the evening unfolds. I discover that the father of the dad escaped Eastern Europe by jumping from a moving train taking him to a work camp during the Communist era following World War II.  From the family in front of me, the father in his late 80’s was among the Allied Forces at Normandy.

As fireworks light the clear night sky I find myself transported back to 1995 where I once stood on the flight deck of a United States Navy aircraft carrier a (rare, non-family member) guest on a July 4th Tiger Cruise. With absolute reverent silence amongst the more than 6,000 of us onboard, engines cut, that huge ship slipped into port in Norfolk, VA and, as our colors were solemnly struck, Lee Greenwood’s voice came over the public address system singing his anthem of God Bless the U.S.A. and my throat clenched, eyes filled, as it does now. The earmark of the evening is as the family behind us files out each of the children, encouraged in advance by their parents, stop to express their thanks to our World War II veteran. I cry harder as our elder neighbor, one of the diminishing numbers of The Greatest Generation, is so honored.

To all the “foot soldiers” who offer themselves as an instrument of disruption and change, whose efforts to make human dignity a real truth and who protect our planet with both passionate rhetoric and sometimes physical violence – my every gratitude and blessing.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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The Ill Wind of Human Dysfunction

ImageWe learn to embrace the wind at the tenderest of ages, where a single piece of 8 ½ by 11 white paper magically folded seven times, once cast with the flick of a wrist, will imprint our brains with the rudimentary theories of aerodynamics and physics, give us metaphorical wings to fly, and make us ponder ‘what’s up there, and who’s out there’.  And, when our paper airplane comes back down to Earth from cutting a graceful arc through the cerulean, have us come to recognise the impermanence of all experiences and the rationale behind neurons feeding our brains electro-chemical impulses which force us (in the best and worst possible way) to capture memory.  It should, also, impart resilience.

Those trees which survive the gale force of thunderstorm, tornado, tropical depression or hurricane are not sturdy oaks or mighty chestnuts but saplings, bamboo and willow, their inherent nature is of flexibility to bend with the wind instead of standing rigidly against it.  For thousands of years the martial arts have taught this – flowing through the obstacle instead of ‘fighting it’; harnessing Chi (or Qi) much the way the folds of the paper airplane allow it to ride the air currents.  Physicists and various scientific disciplines are peeling away the layers of the ‘weight’ of positive versus negative thought with more refined versions of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs). If you have yet to hear/read, negative thoughts have considerably MORE weight from the perspective of physics and thus, the reason a growing number of us, why the state of our planet ‘feels’ like the dissonance which can be found in a piece of Shostakovich.

I recently experienced for the second time in my life (and a decade passing between) an atom bomb of human emotion directed at me complete with threats of physical violence, repeated use expletives and shouting (and yes, shrapnel spitting landing on my face) over my verbally ‘protecting’ an earthworm from incineration by this man’s son on the hot BBQ a group of us had just finished using. (All of which turns out to be multiple misdemeanor offenses of harassment.) My initial reaction was to block the energy and stand rigid, but that stance and the shift in my accompanying energy building within me felt inauthentic to my nature.  I then tried to walk away, and I was physically blocked.  I lowered my voice to a whisper (which was right for me but still failed to stem the anger being directed at me) and took deep breaths – none of it worked. The witnesses to the three episodes involved ‘didn’t want to be in the middle of it’. This is precisely how abuse and terrors of all kinds take place right next door, in front of us, and on the other side of the world. Ultimately I chose not to file a police report, I take my chances on future episodes but my life lesson now includes CALL THE POLICE!  On the way to that decision, I consumed several dry gin martinis – somehow it’s okay to want a drink but not need a drink; I am not proud of embracing this crutch.  What proved more successful was ‘re-tuning’ my being to the Gregorian chant of Hildegard von Bingen; within can be found both resonance and dissonance – necessary to create harmony – the Ying and Yang, darkness and light, of music.

I ache over the loss of five years of friendship, am thoroughly confused over ‘my child can do no wrong’ mindset, of people who praise God with one breath and dishonor their respective Prophet with the next, and whose anger management skills are non-existent.  As our connected energy (“one being with the Father” as well as atomic-ly speaking) bears down on us I am acutely aware that only mindfulness will foster a shift, and that resilience is built into our ever dynamic a path.  I will return to my version of normal sooner as a result.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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