Hidden Grief and The End of Everything

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From aaronigroen.com

The lust for a shiny yellow metal drove European people to come to America, massacre its peoples, and destroy the natural environment. This was accomplished thanks to the knowledge of steel and with the blessings of a religion that worships God the Father. Lust for gold, allegiance to steel, violence to the spirit, and the cult of a ruthless god: these are the founding values of our nations.

When did we have a national day of mourning for the people we killed in Iraq, in Vietnam, in Hiroshima or anyplace else? Only recently did the men’s movement discover that grief is the key to manhood. This came as a big surprise to many, because grief takes the cutting edge off strength and tempers it with kindness. But when we have been softened and made kind, we are more authentic, more powerful and ultimately, more authoritative. — Eliot Cowan

*

This unmet grief,
an elder tells me, is the root
of the root of the collective illness
that got us here. His people
stay current with their grief —
they see their tears as medicine —
and grief a kind of generous willingness
to simply see, to look loss in the eye,
to hold tenderly what is precious,
to let the rains of the heart fall.

— Fragment of a poem by Laura Weaver

We all suffer losses. Loved ones die, we fail, we hurt someone, we do something we regret, we mourn, we don’t know how to repair our wounds or heal the wounds we cause. We’re taught to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and put it all behind us so we can function “normally.” Societies that grieve openly are embarrassing. We couldn’t wail and weep so openly as they do. We are conditioned to not feel grief.

We don’t notice how unexpressed grief builds over generations to the point where we don’t even know whose grief we feel, ours or our great grandparents’. The longer it builds the harder and more cut off we need to become just to function. We become stuck to the surface of ourselves. Being cruel to ourselves renders us unconsciously cruel to the world. We don’t notice the suffering of nature, of flora and fauna, of our children even.

If someone is unusually sensitive, they must be “toughened up.” How else can they survive in this world, we ask.

This is our culture, unconscious as it is. These are the waters we swim in, trying to stay afloat. We make our life or death decisions from this mind. We marry, we work, we vote from this kind of culture. To the extent we have been able to preserve our compassion and empathy, we can make decisions for the common good. To the extent we have become unable to grieve, we are too removed from ourselves to be able to contribute or be concerned about others.

It’s not a mystery why so many politicians are self dealing. It’s the norm, differing only by degree. We shouldn’t be surprised by their cruelty and indifference to widespread suffering. They are showing us the soul of the culture we live in. They serve power, not justice. They’re not interested in helping the weak. They serve a machine that extracts goods and services for the already privileged.

They win support by showing a tough exterior. A candidate for high office who is caught weeping will be laughed out of town. A soft heart is not an asset.

As America gets ready to vote, an obvious criminal, a man who seems to have zero compassion for anyone, has almost forty percent of American cheering him on. That presents a picture of our society we don’t want to believe. A shockingly large number of Americans don’t care enough to vote. Only a small majority of people care enough about preserving the system we have, which God knows is already deficient in compassion and justice.

We shouldn’t have to worry about the outcome of this election, but we do because we know that fear, hate and cruelty are built into our system. It’s now up to people of good will to save our country and probably the world.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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