Sunday, August 26, 2012

Violence in the streets

I was going to write about the fantastic backpacking trip I did last weekend in the Sawtooth Mountains. But then I came home to find that a friend from grad school had been brutally attacked in the Eastern Market area of DC. Washington DC is a weird place - even the good neighborhoods are still susceptible to crimes like robbery, assault, and rape. It's been heartening to see the incredible support, much of it from people who only peripherally know TC and/or Abby, and I send healing thoughts to them and their family every day. It's an awful thing that happened to some great people (not that anyone deserves harm), and even though TC is making progress, he still has a long way to go. Some friends set up a site where people can make a donation to help the Maslins pay for medical care and child care - I wish I could have donated more, but where my finances fail, the opportunity to engage others in the cause can take over. If you can spare even a little bit, please consider donating through this Simple Registry site: Love for the Maslins. Simple Registry was started by some of my friends, who are also TC and Abby's friends, so I know it's a reputable site run by great people. Your donation will get there, safe and sound.

News of TC's attack has been all over Washington Post and the local TV stations, and some trolls have pointed out that if TC were black, his attack wouldn't be getting this kind of coverage. A sad but possibly true point, since plenty of crimes happen all over DC, in fact, all over the nation, and they get swept under the rug. Violence in Chicago has been escalating, much to the detriment of communities all over the city. Unless you have a connection to Chicago, you probably don't know anything about it. This weekend's shootings warranted a simple bulleted list of victims in the Chicago Tribune; whether any of the victims get more coverage is doubtful. We hear about the individuals who shoot up army bases, political rallies, movie theaters, religious centers, and office buildings, but the mass crimes that happen on a daily basis get little or no attention, perhaps because thoroughly covering each assault would fill the pages of the newspaper each day. It's all we would see on the local news programs or splashed across the media websites. But failing to properly acknowledge the victims makes it easier to ignore the problems that led the perpetrators to turn to violence, and the violence continues. This is not just a matter of gun control or mental illness, although addressing those issues would go a long way toward ensuring that people who should not have deadly weapons cannot acquire deadly weapons. People turn to crime because they feel they have no other options. In America, the Land of Opportunity, crime should not be the avenue anyone takes in an attempt to solve their problems. We work so hard around the world to get food, clean water, shelter, and medical care to the disadvantaged. We should be doing better by the residents of our own country. I don't know what the answers are, but failing to talk about the problems takes us backward, not forward.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I met the mountain

I brushed my teeth beneath the crescent moon
Acknowledged the mountain and the multitude of stars
Gave thanks to heavens that put me here
That gave me the chance to show the world what I'm made of
For it's no small thing to have two working legs, two working arms, capable lungs and a pounding heart
So I stepped onto the steep trail, along the dusty path, over tree roots, past pine skeletons twisted like ghouls. Birds chirped and flies buzzed. 
I had high hopes. But the higher I got, the more they dissolved.
Finally, I met the mountain. 
Climbing to a 12,662-foot peak is a hearty physical endeavour. I had prepared physically and felt ready. Borah may be meager compared to some of the great mountains of the Earth, but it requires tremendous courage. The mountain sized me up and found me wanting. The previous week had drained whatever I was prepared to give mentally. At the base of the ridge, the dam broke. I hadn't been aware that floodwaters were collecting, but now they came rushing forth. The mountain told me that today was not my day. 
My rational mind wonders abut God, but watching the sun rise just above the ridge, I felt certain I was staring God in the face. Some people climb mountains to feel that they have conquered something. Others want to stand a little closer to God. I just wanted to see what I could see, but standing in the shadow, confronting scrambles and climbs and slides, I realized I had no right to challenge the spirit in the rock. We humans don't belong in this place, scrambling like ants in the thin air. The view from that point is spectacular, but there are some things we mortals will never see. Struggling to be humble, I accepted defeat by something bigger than me and returned from whence I came.