Justice and Forgiveness

I have recently shared, and will continue to share, some extremely intimate information about my life in the hopes of educating people about some issues that are near and dear to my heart, and hopefully inspiring some to become more involved in creating the world that we truly want to see.  I tend to be open with these kinds of sordid details of my life, as they are no good to me unless I can use them for something good;  My healing from these has built a foundation from which (to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi) I can create the kind of peace in my own life that I wish to see in the world.

I have also been asked how I can possibly forgive my abusers, and fight for true justice for those who have been convicted of such crimes.  My answer to this is that I have known the anger, frustration, and fear that drives abusive behavior.  I know that in adult relationships, the victim often has behavior patterns that feeds the cycle of violence.  I know that most abusers were abused themselves as children, and as a child victim of abuse, I can empathize with the beliefs, depression, self-hatred, and fear that plague a survivor’s mind and soul.  I cannot wish these on anyone.  I often joke that I am on on a very short spiritual leash.  If there are consequences to be had for the choices that I make, I experience them.  By taking responsibility for my actions, I have been able to open myself up to compassion and to see how blessed I have truly been.  There are so many people in the world who have experienced so much worse than I.  I have been blessed that I didn’t end up in jail or prison due to some of my adolescent choices.  I was lucky enough to have only experienced the fringes of  society’s major problems of drugs, gangs, poverty, violence, depression, homelessness and abuse.  My experience with these continues to challenge me to work toward true justice, in which offenders of all kinds are offered the same path to rehabilitation with which I have been graced.

My poetry is laced with the themes of Forgiveness, Grace, Compassion, and Justice.  I come to a point in which I understand that justice will never be realized by a person so wrapped up in fear and pain that they need to inflict pain in order to release that emotion.  The saying an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind encompasses this concept.  All conflicts require energy to keep them going.  When one party to the conflict lets go, the only thing left to keep it going is momentum.  Sometimes this takes time to burn off.  Once it does slow and (hopefully) stop, the opportunity to reflect and choose differently presents itself.  If another conflict arises, that opportunity is still present in the initial reaction stage.  When one person does not react and instead responds by stepping aside to allow the other to finish their attack, the momentum of the attacker’s energy is self-defeating.  This is natural justice.  There are many situations in which this seems impossible to practice, but with meditation and discipline, one can begin to see more and more ways in which to apply this principle.

Of course, there is a level of responsibility that comes with all of this.  It entails rigorous self-honesty that takes more courage to face than does an act of violence.  It takes more than one person to create a conflict.  For me, the discipline of meditation has helped me learn to observe and reflect on my own reactions and beliefs.  Often, conflict comes from mistaken beliefs, misunderstandings, or expectations of how others should behave.  Some days are better than others.  On my best days, I am able to observe my instinctive reactions and change my behaviors before they create or exacerbate a conflict.  On my worst days, I may feel so tired and stressed that though I observe my reactions, I feel helpless in the face of my own emotions.  Most days are in between these two extemes.  Often, when I feel stressed, tired, or hurt, I share what I am experiencing in hopes that someone will remind me to slow down, breathe and find my center.  Some people hear little more than complaint, but some are wise enough to help redirect my thinking.  I am grateful for these people.

I cannot pretend that I have found enlightenment or have all of the answers.  But I have found that when I open myself to the possibility that there is a greater purpose for all of this, I find a creative flow that gives me the answers that I need in the moment.  In this flow, the themes of forgiveness, justice, compassion, love,consciousness, faith and reprisal are often expressed.  This is my daily salvation:  That I can find the blessing and grace of the gift of reprieve when I am behaving thoughtlessly.  The one thing that I can share without reservation is that I would not be able to recognize the grace in my life if I did not afford the same to everyone that I encounter.  To act from a place of revenge would negate this experience, and continue a devestating pattern of abuse and fear.  Today I choose true justice through the practice of compassion and forgiveness.

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