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View Diary: Memo from the Department of Homeland Insecurity: Can We Quit the Blame Game and Talk about Healing? (13 comments)

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  •  gentleness. Even toward those who have (2+ / 0-)
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    emidesu, oslyn7

    wronged us--however severely. That's a tough one.

    In the aftermath of genocide (moreso in the aftermath of unacknowledged genocide, as we have here in the US), really tough.

    This is related, I think, to the fervent desire for justice.

    The more I have come to terms with the consequences of unresolved genocide in this country, the more I have come to the conclusion that there can be no justice. Nothing can compensate for what we have lost. Nothing.

    So, no, "justice" is not forthcoming. Ain't happening.

    No justice, no peace?

    Hmmm. I finally decided that, if I must choose between justice and peace, I'll take the peace.

    And if we could ever get to the point where we quit killing each other, quit hating each other, quit re-enacting genocide (in homicide, suicide and mass murder), well, maybe then we would find the peace....and there would be a certain degree of justice in that, wouldn't there?

    In fact, peace....? Wouldn't that be the ONLY form of justice that could make amends?

    Oh, and as to "learning more about genocide": research on and from other countries--South Africa, Germany, Australia, for example--who have actually begun the process of resolving their "genocide issues" have much to offer us in the US in terms of understanding the process of collective recovery from genocide-volumes and volumes and volumes have been written about this.

    But again, until we acknowledge that this is what we're dealing with....all these studies, all these efforts, all these moves toward "truth and reconciliation" don't do us as Americans a damn bit of good.

    •  yeah... (1+ / 0-)
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      kindness and a tough sort of understanding first, maybe eventually forgiveness.

      That has been my only hope of recovery, so it's completely self-centered and nothing to be proud of!

      I am completely with you: I also will choose peace...again, a tough, unblinking-in-the-face-of-the-terror sort of peace, literally founded on life or death realities. I want to live my own life fully so denial is not an option; I have to be unhooked from blame wherever I find its clamps on me.

      grumpelstillchen, I really like the way you think! You've given me enough new angles on this to keep me busy for some time. Violence towards self, other individuals, other groups as

      re-enacting genocide
      until we acknowledge that this is what we're dealing with....all these studies, all these efforts, all these moves toward "truth and reconciliation" don't do us as Americans a damn bit of good.
      this is good stuff! Thanks.

      There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

      by oslyn7 on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 11:41:12 PM PST

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      •  I like the way you say maybe eventually (1+ / 0-)
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        forgiveness because for me, and in this model, "forgiveness" (of others) is not a prerequisite for peace. Forgiveness of self (and one's own ancestors, no matter which "'cide" of the symbiosis they're on--yes, that may be necessary. Perhaps, as you indicate, "understanding" would suffice--whatever it takes to get us to the point that we can acknowledge the wound).

        This is why I find Weil's concept of "uprootedness" useful--because it allows us to place the whole hideous history into a framework that renders the actions of the past "understandable". Not forgiveable, not excusable, but understandable, explicable. It allows us to "make sense" of some shit that otherwise makes NONE!

        If the consequences of genocide in this country preclude any sort of just compensation, then we must certainly also allow for the possibility that forgiveness is not an option--that forgiveness is not necessarily any more forthcoming than justice, and must not be seen as a goal to be reached.

        So as you say "maybe" "eventually" forgiveness. Not necessarily, certainly not immediately, and not as a goal to be reached.

        Reconciliation is another matter altogether--and here again, we have much to learn from South Africa's efforts toward  "truth and reconciliation".

        Sticking point in this country, once again: truth. Until the truth is told and acknowledged to be true, reconciliation can't be on the table--not even "on the map".

        I believe there can be peace without forgiveness, but I don't believe there can be peace without reconciliation. And truth must precede  reconciliation.

        Anyway, thanks for reading, and appreciating....for your insights, and your stories!

        •  I'm interested in how you define or frame (1+ / 0-)
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          forgiveness.  I agree completely that truth is foundational and without that, genuine reconciliation is impossible. I think that is why I used the overblown 'life or death realities' phrase earlier. Truth=realities.

          I think, though, that I do see forgiveness as a goal, a distant, difficult but achievable necessity, and perhaps as both means and end. I absolutely do not see it as saying to a perpetrator or anyone, "Well, it's okay; it was really nothing, and I'm fine." That yanks the marrow of truth right out of those injured bones and kills them.

          But when I look at how I have felt my way to the freedom I genuinely now have, I see the tentative beginnings of forgiveness in my initial determination to pull free, out of the constrictions of enmity and hatred. I think the primary definition of forgiveness for me is release, letting go of the hatred which I intuitively knew would destroy me even as I felt completely vindicated in it.

          It is empowering as this commitment to release is something I can do all by myself regardless of the current beliefs and attitudes of the perpetrators. I can become genuinely free, no longer leashed to them by every little snap of blame or outrage.

          Blame and outrage and injustice can feel so good and so right....but I can't afford that price of bondage if I want to be free. (Doesn't mean I don't permit myself outrage on behalf of others; I do, and that is actually a good bit of my current vocation, working in community development.)

          However, as you say, reconciliation isn't on the map until there is recognition and awareness of truth/reality on the part of the perpetrators.

          More good stuff to think about as the year turns! Thanks, Grump.

          There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

          by oslyn7 on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 08:18:41 AM PST

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          •  Hmmm. I'd have to think about that for (1+ / 0-)
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            a while.

            I think the key issue may be "blame"--I'm not a "blamer": whether in personal, political, or historical disputes/conflicts/events, I'm more interested in what happened, how it happened, and how we can keep it from happening again, whatever "it" is.

            Where the truth comes in: Hey, no, I'm not OK, and this has been the consequence of that "it": "it" was a big deal, really big, "it" hurt like hell, did a lot of damage--damage that can never be undone--but it is what it is, and I certainly don't "hate" you for it.  I just want to figure out how we can make sure it doesn't happen again."(Or, in the case of most outrages and injustices that concern me: how we can make the shit STOP! Like now.) ;-)

            For me, the only point in determining "who did what" is figuring out how to keep it from happening again.

            I don't think forgiveness is a prerequisite to that process.

            I'm also not a "hater". Maybe I'm in denial, I don't know, maybe I do harbor some deep-seated hatred toward the people and things that have harmed me. harmed me, my people, my country/land. But I just don't see it. Hatred is totally foreign to me.

            Even some of the vilest political "leaders" we have had--first and foremost amongst them Bush and Cheney. You would think I would have every reason to "hate" them. But I don't and never have. I don't have time for "hate". And of course, as Elie Wiesel put it "Hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love." If Cheney's high-priced heart were to stop today, I would not "celebrate" or "rejoice"--the news would be little more than a blip on the radar for me. Now that he's no longer running the country into the ground and offending my sensibilities in public view (god only knows what he's up to behind the scenes), I'm just glad he's not someone I have to see or hear. Same with Bush.

            If forgiveness means letting go of hate, well, I got nothing to let go of! This does not mean I experience no outrage in the face of injustice. But for me that outrage is more a profound sense of sadness and dismay: sheesh, people it doesn't have to be this way. ("can't we all just get along?") Outrage? Yeah, like royally pissed, profoundly so. But being pissed does not translate into hate for me, or the desire for "revenge" (sadly, I think, most cries for "justice" are cries for "revenge", maybe because the only framework we have for justice is "eye for an eye"?). I don't do revenge. Don't need it, don't want it. Justice? As I've said before, the only form of justice I can conceive of in the face of the historical (and deeply personal) wound that has been the "way the west was lost" ;-) is PEACE.  

            Oh geez, I'm just babbling now, and your question is one I'll have to ponder....

            Of interest? This article on the difference between "Reconciliation to Forgive and Reconciliation to Forget"

            •  If you are babbling, (1+ / 0-)
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              I wish I babbled like you!

              I think I must be far more mean-spirited than you. I've struggled against this my whole life--some of my very earliest memories are of feeling utterly powerless and voiceless, severely hurt, and consumed by hatred for the perpetrators. There must have been enough tenacious sense of self in there even as a toddler, though, that kept me alive although I bought into far too much 'blame the victim' crap and consequently tangled with suicidal depression for years.

              At this point, I don't have any desire for revenge--have faced off with my worst abusers and have come to some understanding--but along with you, want to make damn sure that this damage STOPS. And I think I use residual anger effectively in what I do now as an empowering, energizing force, carefully (and I hope, compassionately) expressed.

              Your thoughts on blame are interesting, too. While I see blame as largely unhelpful and liable to be disempowering, I have to admit that at the beginning of my being able to come to terms with my past, a big piece was taking the blame off my own shoulders and putting it where it really does belong. But I don't dare stay there, ever; the past is the past, I'm not going to forget, but I do have to release blame to be able to live freely in the life I want to live.

              I really like the article. I especially like the steps listed toward reconciliation: empathy, remorse, public apology, amends, and ensuring it does not recur…it will probably be a cold day in hell before my primary perpetrator ever goes through those steps, but that ball is in his court and the quality of my life doesn’t depend on his response (in my framing, giving me confidence that forgiveness is happening).

              However, I’m blurring the lines between what is appropriate in a personal experience of oppression and what is necessary in the global waves of oppression and injury that the article cites, and you reference as setting the stage for the ongoing intergenerational replay of these ‘cides’.

              Again, much in your post to think about: Thanks!

              There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

              by oslyn7 on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 01:06:22 AM PST

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              •  I don't see much difference between my (0+ / 0-)

                babble and yours....

                Must now tend to other things.

                Here, have a little hope for the road ((oslyn7)

                Uprootedness? Here's what Arvol Looking Horse had to say about Idle No More

                Every human being has had Ancestors in their lineage that understood their umbilical cord to the Earth, understanding the need to always protect and thank her. Therefore, all Humanity has to re-connect to their own Indigenous Roots of their lineage -- to heal their connection and responsibility with Mother Earth and become a united voice.
                Could be on to something! ;-)

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