Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Issue at Hand

Dear little MV did not quite understand me:

"Something to remember--the Issue at Hand is never the true issue. Know this, and compassion will blossom."

How do you mean? I find it difficult to have any compassion at all for these men who would like to see us chained to walls if they had their way.

Pretty Lady, characteristically, must digress yet again. There was once a time--there were many times in fact--that Pretty Lady was living in a Very Bad Neighborhood. The reasons she lived there were both economic and aesthetic--her house was a veritable and inexpensive Paradise in the midst of Chaos, and for the first year or two, she coped with the chaos by driving home, running up the steps, and locking the door behind her, much as though she were living in a suburb.

After awhile, though, she began to get curious, and perhaps even a bit cocky. She befriended a kindly grandmother junkie on the block, who kept her abreast of neighborhood gossip, such as that when the SWAT team stormed the house across the street, they didn't get the kingpins. Moreover, she discovered that against all accountability, there was actually a lovely State Preserve a few blocks away. Cockily, she began taking walks there.

Thus, when her Best Friend decided, one Saturday evening round 10 PM, that she'd like to go for a stroll, Pretty Lady's better judgment was temporarily numb. The two of them popped round to the park--two tasty blonde chicks in a howling urban wilderness.

Normally, Pretty Lady's technique for avoiding random assault is twofold. She prefers not to assume that someone's intentions are hostile until they conclusively prove otherwise, and thus she greets all comers with an aura of calm friendliness and gentle expectation. Additionally, she is tall, mesomorphic, alert, and carries her keys like a set of brass knuckles. If a person is wavering between whether to violently assault her, or nod and stroll on past, Pretty Lady does what she can to make the latter option the overwhelmingly attractive one.

Indeed, we realized later that we'd probably skimmed past two or three gang-bangs before the two Samoan fellows eventually jumped us. By the time these strapping young men burst out of the bushes and came toward us with purposeful, silent strides, we were only a block away from the nearest habitation. Both of us being regular runners, we made it down the length of this block before they caught us, which probably saved our lives.

Pretty Lady is not an experienced fighter, but she could tell that the man who targeted her was an expert. He had her down on the pavement before she was clear what was what, and slammed the back of her head into the asphalt, with the practiced intention of knocking her unconscious. Pretty Lady remembers thinking, 'wow, this doesn't hurt at all. How interesting. However I had better not allow it to continue.'

Then she was on her feet again, reeling somewhat; the other dude, obviously less-experienced, was attempting to subdue her Best Friend. Pretty Lady slammed him in the temple with her brass-knuckle keys, while her friend kicked him in the stomach (not being, even in this extreme situation, vicious enough to go for the groin.) This evidently surprised him. Little blonde chicks are not supposed to fight back.

However, things continued to spiral out of hand. Pretty Lady found herself down again, and up again, reeling worse than before. At this point, she was thinking, 'I had better not die, now. My family would be terribly upset.'

Then, suddenly, it was all over. There was a doorway, lights, and the police on the phone; the police were a bit exasperated. 'Don't take walks in this neighborhood after dark,' they said. Well, duh.

But what caused lovely Rose Weatherspoon to open her door when she heard screams was not the screams; she was too accustomed to routine domestic violence to pay much attention to that. What caused her to open her door was the ring of young black men in front of her house, yelling 'Kill the bitches.' Pretty Lady never saw or heard those men at all. She only knows about them from hearsay.

So what, you may ask, does this pretty little story have to do with 'compassion'?

People have occasionally asked Pretty Lady if she's angry at those men; if she even hates them. She admits that for about six months afterward, she was a little jittery when walking down the street. She spent a lot of time alone in gardens and on beaches. But rage? Hatred? No. You see, it was so clear that it wasn't personal.

(In fact, the people who were genuinely hard to forgive were not the violent criminals, but the so-called 'friends' who abruptly stopped returning phone calls immediately after the incident, as if trouble were catching. This was, of course, counterbalanced by the genuine friends who allowed Pretty Lady to live with them for three months; the occasional social-circle housecleaning is not a bad thing.)

The word 'compassion,' my dear MV, can be broken down into two parts; 'co', meaning 'with', and 'passion', meaning, well, passion. Or 'feeling,' if you prefer. 'Compassion: feeling with.'

I am sure, MV, that you know what it is to be beset by demons. Demons of rage, frustration, confusion, despair. Demons that come of not being seen, not being attended to; demons of feeling that you are not loved. And I am equally sure that when beset by these demons, on some level, they have caused you to Lash Out--at others, or at yourself. I am sure of this, dear MV, because I am sure that you are human.

Thus, lovely and earnest MV, is it not reasonable to conclude that when a person lashes out, for whatever purported reason, at whatever target, that this person in this moment believes, with sincere hopeless despair, that they are not loved?

Please feel free to challenge my reasoning.

Meanwhile, it appears to Pretty Lady that the only possible effective response, when she perceives someone lashing out, is to love them. Many times, in fact always, she is not capable of loving this person all by herself; then she must enlist the assistance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's voice is quiet, but it always speaks the truth. The Holy Spirit tells her what to say, and it will tell you, too.


Anonymous said...

Ah, PL, even your heart is graceful.

I can totally understand where you're coming from, but on the other hand, I believe that we all have a choice as to what to do with our feelings of rage and Not Being Loved. Those of us who choose to violently assault the rest of us because they feel that way have forfeited their right to be among society. Those young men may not have had anything personal against you, and it is all well and good to be able to feel compassion towards them, but that has nothing to do with ensuring that they are no longer allowed to do what they have proven themselves capable of.

But then, I'm a dick like that, and you know what Parker/Stone have to say about us. . .

Pretty Lady said...

that has nothing to do with ensuring that they are no longer allowed to do what they have proven themselves capable of.

Of course not, my dear! You will notice that I have given no prescriptions as to what Love is supposed to look like. It is entirely circumstantial, and there is no reason to assume that it cannot comprehend judicial acts of physical enforcement.

What I am attempting to express is that there is a very subtle process of taking spiritual dictation, as opposed to acting on one's own volition, which can produce dramatic and startling results.

Anonymous said...

I love you PL. I also suspect that in addition to being from Texas, you have a Catholic background.

The Holy Spirit is indeed the giver of grace and lovely lives. It is this Spirt, by whatever name called or ignored, that allows mere humans to rise about the more base emotions and instincts (like hating all who are not like us or who do not like us) to offer love. Not to offer ourselves as unappreicated burnt offerings (what good does that do anyone). But to love in the agape sense.

I realized very young that in harboring hatered or any negative emotion(s) I was doing myself far more harm then the object of that negativity.

I think you should breed, and soon, so you can spread your lovely learning and spirit to tomorrows unseen! Oh, and perhaps enter into a marriage contract for the hand of one of Misty's offspring! LOL.

Pretty Lady said...

I think you should breed, and soon

My dear, I am inexpressibly honored. I will Get Right On That, as soon as a sufficiently honorable mate is found. Until then, I will continue scribbling, in the hopes that the already-breeding will peruse my work, and pass along the information.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for missing, or not caring too much, about the point. I sit and wonder why blonde girls always take that walk. It's a given. Nine out of ten they get away with it. Of course if they do get away with it they keep doing it until they don't get away with it. Madness, but completely understandable on some level that I don't understand.

Pretty Lady said...

I sit and wonder why blonde girls always take that walk.

We do so because we are adventurous, unconquerable spirits first, and only blonde girls by happenstance. We could sit at home, circumscribed, shivering, fearful--but then our souls would shrink to the size and character of a peach pit. This is a far more terrible danger than merely being knocked on the head.

Anonymous said...

Being knocked on the head is the least of your poblems. However, it's up to you and if you take that walk it's certainly none of my affair. On more than one occasion I've seen them get a lifetime size helping of adventure and regret all in one evening. Maybe it has to do with my advanced age but I'm beyond anything but puzzled. Spending a lot of time in Oakland would be a cure for many people seeing as how life is mostly made up of waiting for the inevitable.