The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “karma”

Bacha Posh

first published Nov 26, 2014

bacha posh

 

Ba

I was born a girl but my parents thought better of it. A boy would be much more useful, so that’s what I became. They dressed me like a boy, called me by a boy ‘s name, and tasked me with boy’s work. I knew I wasn’t a boy but I liked the game. I had so much more freedom than the girls! I could go to school! I could learn to read! I could work and earn money to help my family.  I could play with my friends in the streets without adult supervision. I did not have to wear layers of hot clothing in the summer to hide myself.

I was happy and grateful to my parents that they were wise enough to choose this for me when I could not choose for myself.

I was a happy child living an uncomplicated existence.

And then I had my first blood.

My parents seemed to be expecting this but I had no suspicion that big changes were on the horizon for me. They informed me that it was time to give up my boyish ways and take my place in the world as a woman.

We would move to a new part of the city where we were not known, and I would present myself to all I met as a girl.

In a year or two, they would find me a husband. I would spend the rest of my life covered and subservient to men.

I wanted nothing to do with it!  I screamed and cried and argued but there was no moving them. They knew things which I was too young to understand.

For many days, I would not eat or leave the house. I was willful, something which was never repressed in me like other girls. I would not obey! It was my life!  I could not, would not, live under a veil!

Slowly, however, I began to realize that I could no longer hide my differences.  I could not play bare-chested with my friends any longer. The boys voices were growing deeper. They were sprouting hair on their faces. My changes were in the opposite direction. The very quality of my skin betrayed me, even covered as I often was, in dust and mud.

I didn’t know what to do. My parents were of no use. To them, hiding my gender was simply the practical thing to do at one time,  and now it was time to put those childish things aside.  If they had any idea of my deep emotional turmoil, of my sense of being lost without an identity, of my confusion and pain, they gave no clue. I was becoming an adult and I had to accept my responsibilities along with reality.

But they were still left with a problem that they had not foreseen and which was never going to go away.   I might be forced under the veil,  but I would never succeed at being subservient.

This was not merely a trait that would lead to an unhappy marriage, but a train which might get me killed.   I did not recognize this threat in the beginning. It was not until I watched a young woman, not much older than I was,  being stoned to death for an offense which hardly seemed like an offense to me.  I would have done the same in her position.  And that would have been me on the receiving end of those stones.

I allowed my mother to show me how to be more feminine.   She tried to teach me basic womanly chores, but honestly, I had no interest and I wasn’t very good at them.

Clearly, I was going to make a terrible wife.   What man would have me?

I was caught between one gender and another, and nothing could save me.

For the first time, I envied all the girls my own age.  They knew their place in the world.  They had never tasted freedom and so did not miss it.  Their world was much smaller than mine. They were, like goats in a pen.  They were happy in those confines with all the other goats.  I, however, could not stop longing for what lay beyond.

One day,  when I had long stopped worrying about being forced to marry (my parents hadn’t spoken of it in a long time and I thought they had given up on the notion,  as I had dearly wished),  my mother told me they had found me a young man from a good family.   They thought he would do fine.

I felt betrayed.  Terrified.   Angry.  How could they force me? I would rather live alone all my life!

Of course, that wasn’t possible.  My parents were not rich.  When they died, I would have no one to take care of me.  I could not earn a living as a woman.  I would be alone and destitute, at the mercy of a cruel world.

So,  I met him.  And his family.   With mine,  we all sat down to a meal.

The boy was small and sweet and shy like a girl.  He moved his hands gracefully when he spoke.  He had gone to school, too,  and like me, liked to read. (That meant there would be books in the house – a good thing!) . He was not  aggressive in any way.  He seemed kind. And as confused by his feelings as I was by mine.

I liked him immediately. I recognized in him a kindred spirit — someone who didn’t fit.

Later I told my parents that if I had to marry, then let it be him.  He later told me that he’d told his parents the same.

Once again,  my parents chose best for me when I could not choose for myself.

We were married and remained so until we were both old.  We did not have children, which was satisfactory for both of us.  He enjoyed doing much of the womanly work.  He cooked better than I did.   He had a way of making the house a nice place to live.

Because he was so easy, and because he was soft in his dealings with me, I did not mind doing the things that wives are expected to do.   There was no point in rebelling against him.  We were both on the same side; in the same boat.

There was not much passion in our marriage, but we had an abundance of tenderness.  We had friendship and mutual respect.  We understood each other in a ways that others never had.

We put on our proper faces to the world,  but at home we could both be ourselves. There, we were equals.  The roles the world put upon us had no place there.

For both of us,  it was the best marriage we could have ever hoped for.  He died first, and I missed him terribly.  But, at least he left me with enough money to live comfortably as I grew old.

It’s funny how things work out. For many years, it seemed certain I’d ever wed. But in the end, compared to all the women I knew in my life, I had the happiest marriage.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

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Evil, One Click at a Time

First published march 12, 2012

Cog-in-the-machine

Yu

I did what I was made to do. I never questioned. If you’d asked me at the time if I was choosing my actions of my own volition, I would have said yes, but I see now that I had no choice. I was a cog in a machine much greater than myself. I was turned in place by the other gears grinding in unison towards the common goal.

History says we behaved like animals; that we treated others like animals  but that was not true. Animals do not torture and abuse and murder their own kind.

My humanity was stolen from me and before I could recognize the depth of that loss, it was too late.

I wasn’t born cruel, but then cruelty is often a matter of perspective. I wasn’t the kind to think things through too deeply.  I was smart enough in many ways, but morally I was lazy. I trusted those in positions of greater authority to tell me what was right and wrong. It was simpler and less mentally taxing to see things as clearly black and white, good and evil.

As long as I obeyed those in authority, I felt no moral compunctions about what I did; suffered no sleepless nights wracked with guilt. I never questioned that I was on the side of right.   And in this way, it was easy to bring me (and others just like me) to heel, to do the bidding of the powerful whose true motives I never knew.

Those in authority are in those positions because they understand that to consolidate, maintain and focus their power, they must appeal to that most basic need in others:   to be on the side of Right; on the side of God. Once convinced, a follower can be made to do anything. Soldiers will only fight and kill if they believe their cause is just.  An army cannot survive on doubt.

But enemies cannot both be on the side of Right.

During war, right and wrong are relative. They are not determined until the fighting and killing are over. Human morality is judged upon the results.

On this side, morality is judged by different criteria.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.
 

A Stolen Life

First published 11/23/14

boy soldier

Ki

Looking back, it seems as though I went directly from suckling at my mother’s breast to being a soldier. Oh, I had a few years of what might be called childhood, but given the conditions, they were not happy or carefree. Violence and war and atrocity were all I knew. Fighting and killing came to me quite naturally.

Every male I knew over the age of 9 had been conscripted into the ragtag group of fighters known as The Army.   The older boys, the ones in their teens, were our leaders. None of us had ever had any real adult male supervision. Our fathers and grandfathers and uncles were long dead by the same violence we perpetuated. Some — bastards by rape — didn’t even know who their fathers were. There was no one to teach us how to be men so we followed our baser instincts. We were not much better than animals.

We had no genuine ideals or any concept of what we were fighting for. If there had once been  a noble cause at the root, we had long since forgotten what it was.  By the time I carried a gun, my only goal was self-gratification and self-preservation. None of us had any reason to believe we would live past twenty, so we thought only about what we wanted in the moment.

We were usually high on drugs and liquor. They were so easy to get, we considered them part of our rations. This, in conjunction with the raging hormones of young men, made a volatile combination.

We took what we wanted at gun point. There were few who could stop us. We raped as casually as smoking a cigarette. None of us had any idea how to be tender with a woman. Such behavior was simply not in our emotional vocabulary.

There were often deadly fights even among our own soldiers. What did it matter if you killed someone or someone killed you? Death was ubiquitous. We were inured.

When there is no meaning to life, death, too, is meaningless.

One day, out of our minds on various intoxicants including sniffing kerosene, we came upon an encampment — women and children and a few old or crippled men who had fled from their decimated villages. They were protected by some soldiers from the other side who were better armed than we were but far fewer in number. We killed many of them. The rest fled.

And then had our way with the women.

School girls were raped by boys no older than they were, and in many cases younger. A small group of soldiers found one girl whom they all seemed to favor, and each took his turn with her. She covered her face with her scarf in humiliation. They were cruel.  They were brutal. They treated her with less consideration than a wild dog.

And then it was my turn.

I unfastened my shorts. I was already excited from watching. I climbed on top of her. Her scarf fell away for a moment. Was this my sister?! I had not seen her in a few years but she looked like her. What had happened to our village that she was here? Was our mother still alive?

She seemed to recognize me too, and a pleading look passed across her face but she said nothing.

My thoughts on this matter were fleeting. It didn’t matter who she was. The fate of my birthplace or my mother or my family was not at all relevant in that moment.

I raped her in turn, same as the others, then moved aside to allow the next in line. I walked away, joking with my friends, and didn’t give her a second thought.

Never in my short life did I feel a moment’s remorse for that incident. I never felt a moment of remorse about anything I did — not about the innocents I tortured or killed for reason or simply for laughs; not about the destruction and devastation I’d help wreak on my country. I did not mourn the theft of my youth or my family or my humanity. I regretted nothing because I knew no other way. There was only the most immediate future.

When I was about 15, there was an explosion in our weapons store.  Many were injured or killed.  There was blood everywhere — my own and others.   I looked down to see my legs had been blown off.   I lay there immobile,  my life flowing out of me, my blood mixing with the dirt. I knew I was dying but what did it matter?  If it weren’t from this,   it would have soon been from something else,  something just as gruesome.

I see that without spiritual guidance, without a voice of morality, it does not take more than a single generation for civilization to fall away; for humans to turn back into animals.

Vigilance is the backbone of humanity.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

 

 

I Love The Smell of Free Will in the Morning

first published March 3, 2016dark_alley_b_w_by_godkill-d8w13xp

Co

I was a coward but, in my defense, most humans are in one way or another. It is in our nature to be afraid – of the unknown and of being known, equally of failing and winning, of loving and of not being loved, of change and of not being able to change.

Perhaps it is an unconscious itch at the back of the skull that leads us, in ways unrecognized, to a lifetime of habits. Or they may be burdensome fears, compelling and crippling, which weigh heavily upon us, miring us and slowing our progress. Or perhaps they are blinding and oppressive,  which drive us into dark corners and onto malevolent detours, hijacking our lives.

To be conscious of the fear and the ways in which it shapes us is to finally enter into the terrain where dominion is ceded to no one and nothing; where the blossoms of free will perfume the air.

 

image: Simon Valcourt  https://www.facebook.com/simonvalcourtartiste

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

Your Golem

NEW

 

Ipo

This man you call your leader is not a damaged human being.  He is a perfect Golem. A thing without a soul;  a roaring, infinite black hole pulling everything in its path into its center.  It is an insatiable, mindless monster tearing off greater and greater chunks of the world, shoving it two-fisted into its ravenous maw without consideration except to its own hunger.

He is not human yet you persist in believing that he will behave in human ways.

You apply human terms to him to try to make sense of his behavior. You are shocked when he shows no empathy or compassion or remorse.  But he was not created for this.  You cannot apply human morality to him.  He is as amoral as a tornado or a hurricane, destroying without discretion.

He is not human  He is a golem,  created by you, from  all your fears and neglect, while you slept. And  now he has slipped his bonds.

His power commands your regard.  Your focus feeds him, yet you are unable to turn away. He is a gale force wind rending the house in two.  He is flood waters drowning all reason. He is fire,  setting forests aflame and blackening the wilderness. He is a mass murderer, set wild in the town.  He is all these things at once and you cannot ignore him, even knowing that he thrives and grows stronger by your attention.

Just as the problems, worries, concerns, failures, disappointments which arise in the lives of individual humans are the result of their emotional, mental and psychological conditions, and their unwillingness or inability to confront them,  so this Golem has been created by the collective consciousness in the same manner.  You have birthed this monster with your hatred and fear. He will continue to devour you until you confront these issues which give him power.

You are at a crossroads.  Your choices now,  made together, will define the future of the human race.

human. This is not about him.

It is about you.

________

Me:   I’m thinking this is not the end of the world; just the the end of the world as I want to live in it.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

Free Will and Its Repercussions

Originally posted November 8, 2014

repercussions

Gat

My greatest sin was not that I beat her. Those wounds would have healed. No, my sin was that I sucked all the love and trust from her so that she was never able to love or trust again. She stayed with me, because she had no choice. But in the end she became cold and hard and bitter and angry. I stole her joy. She never got it back. I made her path hard, and directed her away from more fulfilling paths she could have followed.

If she had managed to save herself from the disaster of being married to me, this weight would not be so heavy upon me now. It’s true, she had free choice. And I suppose it’s also true that we were put together to torment each other in this way; to gain the lessons therein.

We are each always free to choose our own path, but we are never free of obligation to those who cross our paths.

While we are not responsible for the feelings and expectations of others, our treatment of others and how they respond to us reflects positively or negatively upon our own journey. It colors how we perceive and are perceived by the world. This shapes our character which in turn influences our behavior. Our behavior defines our path.

We have free will. We are free to change our behavior. We are free to choose how to treat others. We are free to behave nobly or selfishly.   These choices, for better or worse, have repercussions across many lifetimes. Pain inflicted upon others is not a debt quickly worked off.

 

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

A Catalyst for Change

First published Feb 15, 2016

power-to-the-people

Dra

I wasn’t happy to die so young but my death was a catalyst for big changes in social and political strata. I believed in the cause, certainly. I worked towards change.  But while alive, I was a mere cog in the machine, no more useful than anyone else. My voice was not heard above the others; my actions alone brought no more attention to our goals.

But my death!

It was not my intention to be a martyr. I was not that brave. But I also knew that there was not much future for me in the status quo.

When my death was imminent, I welcomed it, knowing it would amplify my voice, give it power which had been lost in the cries and shouts of the movement. I was no longer a cog. My death became evidence of all I’d worked to change. I was more useful as a sacrifice.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

 

The Ripples of Our Actions

Feb 6, 2016

ripples2

 

Ipo

(My little friend is back.  He always has interesting insights, new ways of thinking about things.)

Absolute good and absolute evil are purely human concepts. Even the most horrific thing one can imagine will resonate good somewhere else. Perhaps that ripple will not be felt on the opposite shore for a long time, but the wave will eventually break.

Likewise, the most pure, innocent, selfless act that one might conceive will, somewhere at some time, result in pain for somebody.

That is a basic truth of existence.

All intentions ricochet off other intentions, scattering them like light upon a fractured mirror, refracting them, sending them in a thousand untraceable directions.

Results of human actions cannot be known in a lifetime; they remain opaque to living beings. What is good becomes bad. What is bad becomes good.

To be enlightened is not to act. Rather it is to perceive, to receive, to understand.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.
 

The Art of Control

First published January  19, 2016

fox.2

 

Wol

I always understood that I was going to have to fight for every advantage, every precious moment of peace, every scrap of comfort. This much was obvious to me, even as a child. Neither my family nor the world was going to give me anything, and so I decided that whatever rules the rest of the world lived by did not apply to me. I never had any fear of or respect for authority. Why should I?   The world only took away; it never gave back.

And so, early on, I learned the art of manipulation. I learned to pit one against the other; while they were arguing, I would move in to steal what was no longer being guarded. I knew how to set others off balance – maybe with a half-truth or perhaps a few well-crafted words to sow the seeds of doubt. Like a hawk, I learned to play with and tire my prey until they lost focus and became confused. And then I would swoop in for the kill.

I was no evil genius. More precisely, I was a feral animal who could sniff out fear and uncertainty, and magnify it,  until I had my opening.

I was very good and very successful at what I did. I gained valuable knowledge about the human heart but at great cost to others. To learn these lessons well, I had to push my hypotheses to the limits. If I hadn’t used my talents to cause a happy couple to divorce or a mother to abandon her child or old friends to turn on each other, how could I examine the edges of human nature? How could I know the breadth of my power?

I held myself apart from other humans, feeling simultaneously superior and inferior. Any relationships I had were superficial, struck only for advantage.   These choices were not a sacrifice.  These lessons greatly advanced my understanding of the world.

 

Note from me:  It seems as if the world is being taken over by these types!

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

 

A Collection of Moments

First published November 21, 2015

Dungeness River, Sequim, WA - Magdalena Bassett

Jek

I can remember the screeching of the sea birds as they descended on the harbor to feed on the offal of the fishermen’s catch. At the time, I thought of them as a nuisance. But I remember them now with affection. They were so purely alive, exploding in a storm of biological imperative.

There are a lot of things I remember now that I didn’t take the time to notice then: The way the air on the skin changes from season to season – a floral caress in the spring; in winter. A slap on the cheek from an angry lover. The way a certain scent, not smelled since childhood, catapults you back to the nursery.  The quiet breathing of a lover, in the place beside, and the warmth left behind when they are gone.

Plodding along, one foot in front of the other, I never took my eyes from my path; I never noticed the small miracles lining the way.

Only later, perhaps too late, does it become clear: there is no prize or grand finale. What you have in the end is only the joy you’ve collected along the way.

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If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.
 

 

Photo by my pal, the very talented Magdalena Bassett. Image: The Dungeness River on a rainy day in Sequim, WA

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