Monday, October 12, 2015

Killers

My photo of the memorial spot for Steve Carter

As the light faded to dusk on a chilly evening last week, I stood in the small circle of mourners and placed flowers by the side of the hiking trail for the man who had just been murdered there, 48 hours ago.

Steve Carter who devoted his life to teaching others how to love had been shot multiple times and left holding the leash attached to his wounded dog, Coco who had also been shot in the head and chest.

Apparently his life was taken so that the three young killers could sell his 2003 VW Jetta Station Wagon to get money for Meth. They also brutally murdered a 23-year-old young woman last weekend, either for the contents of her backpack or some other random reason.

Steve was temporarily staying in my town with friends while caring for his wife of 17 years during her treatment for an aggressive breast cancer. They were struggling to meet the medical bills and had also been affected by the recent fire that swept through Northern California and destroyed their former community.

Because he had helped so many people and had been so well loved by friends, family and a large community, Steve's loss was widely and deeply felt. Most of all by his wife, Lokita whose multiple losses right now are simply beyond my capacity to take in. Click here if you would like to donate to help her with all of the many monetary expenses that she has to deal with on top of everything else.

You may want to stop reading at this point. This post is by far the most challenging one I have ever written and it will probably be pretty challenging to read as well. I promise I won't hold it against you if you are not up for it. 

Still here? Well then, please take a moment to register what your strongest emotion is and thoughts that accompany this feeling when you look at the faces of those who are responsible for this devastation. Allow that to simmer in the background. We will get back to it in a moment. There's a reason I'm asking you to do this.

This blog I have been writing every month has been offered with the intention of assisting those in major life transitions. It definitely has a life and will of it's own! I have been telling the tale of my Surprise Divorce and subsequent rising from the ashes and also weaving in current life events, celebrations/ holidays (click link if you want to know why celebrations are relevant) and synchronicities that fit in with the general chronological timing.

I do my best to take the material that seems to want to emerge and put it together in a coherent way. But sometimes it can be rather daunting.

As a storyteller, I often ask children to give me a few themes. I love spontaneously spinning a story in which there is a child just like them who has an adventure involving their spaceship, pickle, frog, warthog and purple monster or whatever else they give me.

This month's post (and this past month in my life and the lives of many people I care about) has been a difficult one. I don't like the themes my muse has presented this month. I find them confusing, disturbing and distressing. But they also feel essential and vital. Not just as in the synonym of "important and necessary" but as in "filled with life energy"

I hope this will be useful to you in dealing with these troublesome themes that are in all of our lives at one time or another and seem particularly alive right now.

So let's dive back in if you are still game, starting with the New Moon for which this blog is named.

Today's New Moon is in the sign of Libra, symbolized by the scales of balance, justice and judgement. 




Prior to our local tragedies and also before the Oregon school shooting, I was considering using this New Moon's holiday of Columbus Day/ Indigenous People's Day to explore the archetypes of  Hero/Villain/Victim and how all of them live within each of us* <----- Synchronicity alert below!

While I was researching Christopher Columbus - both from the perspectives of courageous hero and pillaging pirate  (the historical documents in this link portray a man at least as vicious as the three lost souls pictured above), I remembered that my October New Moon blog one year ago was about a pirate.

In that post, I used Captain Hook to examine how I (and my loyal support network who were demanding justice!) villainized my former husband for his affair with another woman.

Please understand that I am not equating adultery with murder. The crucial underlying factor whenever we are harmed or witness others being harmed (whether emotionally or physically), is what we do with our feelings around the pain and how that manifests in our behavior towards ourselves and others.

Each of us has the capacity to be like Steve who lived his life devoted to doing kind deeds and teaching people how to love. Doubtless, since he was human there must have been unkind and unloving things that he did over the course of this life, but by all the reports that are pouring in from his friends family and students, he was a wise, generous, sweet, funny, humble and compassionate man. I wish I had met him.

Those qualities and those present in the homeless tweakers are also within each of us, even even if only tiny shriveled seeds that under the right (or wrong) conditions could have flourished.

I'm not suggesting you would or could take either of these paths at this point in your life circumstances. Furthermore, you probably aren't about to set off in a sailboat into uncharted waters with multiple hardships and dangers on a heroic journey or heartlessly exploit, enslave and murder innocent people when you get there.

I'm not even saying you would cheat on your partner or lie to them.

But look inside yourself and see if there was ever a time when you betrayed someone. Even if it was just betraying a small trust. Have you ever lied to anyone? Taken something that wasn't yours? Have you ever physically harmed another being directly or indirectly? (Oh yes you have!)

Do you have any addictions? And keep in mind that over indulgences in food, shopping, TV, work, social media, etc. can be addictions if they harm you and/or others, directly or indirectly - even if it's not to the extreme of shooting or snorting Meth.

I think part of the reason we are fascinated by villains, and why some of us are quick to demonize criminals and so ready to demand the harshest possible punishments for their crimes is because we do not want to feel the grief that hearing other's tragedies awakens in us.  We also recognize and are repelled by those scary "bad" traits within ourselves that we have disowned and do NOT want anyone else to see.

Perhaps at this point you are highly defensive and blustery about how this is not the same thing AT ALL! Or maybe you immediately began to judge yourself harshly and devise some new form of punishment or new program to "fix" your "wrong and bad" behavior.

Please put all that aside for a moment. Now look within yourself to remember those times in your life where you were harmed by someone else. Perhaps when you were a small, innocent and trusting child.

Me - not loving my photo session!

Chances are you don't really want to go there. You may like telling the story where you get to blame somebody or receive attention and pity, but truly going down to the root of that heartache is probably tied with getting a root canal on your list of fun things to do this weekend.

Most of us (even those of us who absolutely know that this is futile!), will do anything to avoid feeling what Francis Weller calls "The Wild Edge Of Sorrow".  And by the way, Weller strongly advocates for the need to connect with community when accessing this kind of pain, so if you do decide to take that dive, it is best done with the support of friends, community and or professionals if you are accessing big stuff.

Anger, blame and harsh judgment are ways to safeguard that soft, vulnerable feeling.

When something painful happens to us, our instinct is to protect ourselves from feeling the hurt and to prevent that ever happening again and/or to punish the perpetrator. Or we may punish ourselves for being so"stupid" as to have put ourselves in harms way. Either way, punishment is not an effective strategy.

Obviously we should not allow anyone who is hurting us physically or emotionally to continue doing so. We absolutely need to take reasonable safety precautions. But sometimes there's absolutely nothing we can do.

Staying in our homes with the doors locked all the time, keeping our hearts locked up tight against possible hurt or walking around with guns on our belts ready to shoot the first thing that scares us, will not lead to happy lives.



No matter how we try to protect ourselves or our loved ones, something will eventually happen to harm us anyway.  Life is messy and death is inevitable. We simply can't avoid these truths.

There's no way Steve Carter could have prevented what happened to him. He was not the kind of man to carry a gun and would not have wanted to live in a world where everyone was armed and ready to shoot. He didn't have a fancy car or Rolex watch. He was a man with a Doberman pinscher in broad daylight on a popular trail just off a busy street in a totally safe love bubble of a community.

I am profoundly grateful that I never encountered Morrison Haze Lampley, Lila Scott Allgood and Sean Michael Angold, although it could very easily been me on that familiar trail at that time of day when I normally hike.

I am extremely relieved that they're incarcerated. It would be insane to give them the equivalent of an understanding hug to make up for all of the horrible things they probably endured that contributed to turning them into murderers and send them back on the streets to kill again.  (Although with a nod to Indigenous People's Day and Libra's scale of Justice, I would love to live in a world that incorporated some of these ideas!)

I wish I had the power to go back in time to connect Steve Carter or someone like him with each of those young ones when they were still innocent and capable of taking a different path.

This New Moon/October 12 is also the birthday of a boy in my life who has an incredible overabundance of risk factors and is already exhibiting violent behavior.  Due to logistics that I won't go in to, my ability to connect with him is limited. But I invested a lot of love, thought, money and time into taking actions to convey to him that he matters and that I am here for him. Maybe it'll make a difference. Maybe it won't.

It is too late for Steve and probably too late for Morrison, Lila and Sean. But it is not too late for each of us to take a different attitude towards those in our lives who have harmed us or  to offer some extra love to troubled young people in our lives, - especially those most reviled aspects of ourselves - our inner "bad kids".

Go back to how you felt when you looked at pictures of the killers or how you feel about the person who has caused you the most pain in your life. If you are filled with vengeful thoughts about inflicting the perpetrators with equal if not more pain then they caused, consider the courageous and difficult act of tapping into the grief that is under the anger and letting yourself feel it. All way to whatever depths that takes you.

See if you can find even a tiny morsel of compassion or a kernel of forgiveness (NOT in any way condoning the harmful actions they took). Compare how you feel when you are filled with vindictiveness and how you feel when that softens. You're not doing this for them, you're doing it for you.

This is way more courageous than sailing on uncharted waters. The New World that awaits you is well worth the journey. Be kind to whoever you find there!

Replica of the Santa Maria
And just to end on a lighter note (tipping that scale at least a little bit from it's heaviness!) this ship was named after the Blessed Mother in the Catholic religion and tomorrow begins a festival of nine nights called Navaratri devoted to the Mother Goddess in the Hindu religion. The last night of the festival is all about good triumphing over evil. May it be so, and may the love of the Divine Mother in whatever form you might recognize her, bless us all. I think we could all use some Mother Love right about now!

It is also Canadian Thanksgiving. I am reflecting on how grateful I am for my life.  I am also 
really thankful I am finally done writing this and if there are any of you that made it all the way through this, I am grateful for YOU!!!



*This theme has been insistently presenting itself since a bizarre series of incidents that happened to me regarding predators and villains - on a trail connected to the one where Steve Carter's life ended. That story will have to wait until another post.

But I do need to share with you NOW, that when I reached the point of feeling totally stuck and wanting to give up on this theme after many hours of writing and deleting and writing more, (if you think this blog is long, you should see the outtakes!) I decided to ask for a little guidance. I closed my eyes, reached into my bookcase, let my finger land on a book (my books are constantly shifting positions since I reference them often, so I have no idea where on the shelves they live) pulled it out, and with my eyes still closed, opened it to a random page. 

This is what I got : "The devil symbolizes the dark force of the psyche, the predator, who in this tale not recognized for what he is. This devil is an archetypal bandit who needs, wants, sucks light. Theoretically, if he were given light– that is, a life with the possibility of love and creativity– than the Devil would no longer be the Devil...The Devil is present because the... sweet light has attracted him...such a light ... always attracts the predator."

Women Who Run With the Wolves (#397). I'm pretty sure this is the only book in my collection that deals with topic of the predator and there was a lot of other stuff on that page and the next one that was astonishingly relevant to me right now. So you can blame Clarissa Pinkola Estes that I did not scrap this heavy blog for something lighter and more fun.

And one more synchronicity! As I was writing about the boy whose birthday it is today, I received a message from his mother at that very moment thanking me for his gift.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you dear Michelle. I look at those kids/murderers and I see incest survivors, children of violent parents. I've worked with junkies given their first hit from their addicted mom or dad. I've worked with murderers and rapists raided in horrible violence. Doesn't make it ok or forgivable, doesn't make us safe from their crimes, just give some understanding, and compassion.

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    1. Thank you, Rev.Joey for your thoughtful comments and your compassion. I have also worked with a lot of kids from terrible backgrounds. And before I turned my life around as a young adult, I did drugs (fortunately I only tried meth a few times and did not like it) and was involved in some crimes. I never physically harm anyone else, but who knows what I would've been capable of if I had become an addict.

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  2. A good reminder that our feelings don't affect our trespassers. Our feelings only affect ourselves.

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    1. Gwen, you certainly know the truth of this! <3

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