You claim this is a Christian nation,
Which means a practice of love and merciful consideration.
Yet I cannot see proof of this enacted creed,
but something opposite, derisive,wholly obscene:
Where Jesus fed thousands who failed to bring their lunch,
You would starve millions – children, elderly, those who do work but can’t claim much.
Where Jesus healed the infirm at the first asking,
You deny the same any kind of care or compassion.
Where Jesus refused to judge, and preached the same in scripture,
You complain, place blame, testify that some are simply lazy creatures.
Where Jesus displayed contempt for the corrupt and hatred for injustice,
You embrace these heartily while spewing lies that shift the focus.
Where Jesus overturned tables and openly abhorred greed,
You worship Mammon with gusto, keep your money in piles behind doors of steel.
Where Jesus exemplified love and unity,
You damage with pure divisiveness, then flit around deceitfully.
Where Jesus accepted without question the stranger and the prisoner,
You deny them with malicious prejudice and disdainful reasoning.
Where Jesus might have built a prosperous City on a Hill,
You destroy democracy, sell out lady justice like a two-bit shill.
So, spare us the self-righteous narrative,
Throw off the coat of pretending.
At least own who and what you are –
A faction full of forked tongues, willing to ignore Jesus’ missionFor the sake of self entitlement and blatant power grabbing ascension.
As an HSP, one of the challenges we have is figuring out a way to ‘deal’ with our always-on empathy. I believe the secret is to develop a relationship with the ability, rather than to try to shut it down or resist its pervasive presence in our lives.
The idea of developing a relationship with the defining characteristic of HSP’s is a by-product of the lessons I’ve learned from Headspace meditation exercises (I strongly recommend the practice of meditation to everyone, especially HSP’s). I was surprised as I worked through a thirty day session dealing with anxiety that the approach wasn’t about some magical way to rid my life of anxiety, it was rather a lesson on the relationship I had with the emotion. Changing the relationship, the way I interact with anxiety, meant actually ending the enervating effect of anxiety. The same applies to HSP’s and their relationship with empathy.
Without a way to positively relate to this essential, and beneficial, skill, HSP’s can find themselves in trouble. I can look back on more than one instance when I had a difficult time ending a relationship. I knew the ‘fit’ wasn’t right, but dealing with the hurt and anger and confusion I might be inflicting upon another by leaving sometimes seemed more exhausting than staying. Sound familiar? Or how about just saying ‘no’ to a request while at the same time actually feeling the other person’s rejection as our own?
It’s often as easy as just noting that I am being empathetic, thus providing a sense of awareness about where my head is at (usually in my heart, if ya know what I mean). In other words, when we become anxious because we’re engaging with empathy, sometimes all we have to do is just realize that, and let it go. We don’t need to examine it, or mull it over, or act upon it. We just have to say, “Oh, I’m feeling guilty for staying home tonight instead of joining my friends for a drink. But that’s because I feel like I might be hurting someone’s feelings. Okay. This is the empathy part of being an HSP, I’ll just let it go.”
In a relationship with empathy, we’re not identifying with the guilt, hurt, shame and taking them on as our own. We’re simply observing that is how we feel, and letting it go.
There are times I can get pretty far down the ‘analyzing’ street with a situation and find five different layers for the empathy I am experiencing towards someone or something. But the moment I realize that is what I am doing, I stop, notice it, acknowledge it, “I am really breaking this down.” and then I let it go. It’s true that I’ll start to chase after the thought train even moments later, our minds are going to do what minds do. But once I recognize what is going on, I can relate to the emotion differently. “Oh, I am really thinking about this a lot, okay, letting it go now,” and like magic, it’s gone and I can turn my attention back to the task at hand.
Relating to empathy instead of just following it where ever it leads allows for a more workable dynamic. If we can sort out the moments when we’re over indulging the strength from the moments when it actually brings clarity to a situation, then we are free to move through life without becoming bogged down in excessive guilt, shame, or hurt.
Here’s to a more productive relationship with empathy, and the subsequent ability to embracing its positive qualities.
Grieving is hard work. It’s exhausting, ugly, important work. I’ve learned a few lessons about it in five decades of life, I share them to encourage anyone experiencing their own loss, and the pain that accompanies it.
I became intimate with grief after the full-term stillbirth of my only daughter. I learned that sorrow reaches unimaginable depths of the human soul. I learned that it comes and goes in waves. I learned that giving in to those waves meant a debilitating keening that renders a body numb and spent. I learned that I could be a living contradiction: whole in body, yet feeling as though my heart had been blown wide open with all the violence of a shotgun blast at close range. I learned that the heart can physically ache and a mother’s empty arms can be painful beyond the help of any narcotic or anti-depressant.
It took two full years to work through that particular grief, but it prepared me for subsequent losses. A divorce that smashed relationships to pieces. A brother whose time came too early and whose loss leaves the biggest of holes in family pictures. A mother whose absence lends a permanent sense of nakedness to my life. Sons that have grown and moved out, leaving deafening silence in their place. Once, an election left me mourning.
The most recent loss is that of a treasured little sprite of a dog. She wasn’t even suppose to be mine, but she followed me around for a week until I gave in and hoisted her up on my lap where she loved to sit. I’d always preferred big dogs, but this tiny creature
wedged her way into my heart and found a place to occupy that I didn’t even know existed. At fifteen, she was cranky, blind, and in pain. A solemn trip to the vet eased her suffering and she now sleeps under a favored tree in the back yard.
While she sleeps, my old friend grief follows me around. I recognized it immediately and where before I would be angry at having to go through it again, I realize that by now I’ve learned what’s in store for me and somehow that makes it easier. My broken heart feels like it won’t ever be whole again but seasoned experience allows me to remind myself that this is temporary; time will see the pain subside, precious memories help to soothe and soften it. As familiar waves of sadness tumble over me, I can now see that they also consist of prior losses and like a valve, my sobs enable their release, bring healing. I now know without a doubt that those waves will become less forceful, less frequent. I am numb, but in my intimacy with grief I realize this is normal, it will wear off. I remind myself that I have endured before, I will endure again. Mostly, I am exhausted. In my wisdom, I know that my energy will return, the future will bring happiness. A time will come when I will smile and mean it, and I’ll know that I am done grieving. My friend will leave and wait patiently until the next time.
After 9/11 President Bush urged us to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible. Normalcy is quite relevant though; once a hole is blasted through the walls of a soul by a loss, a new normal must be sought. Grief is the road we take to get there and there is no other route available. It does not come easily. It does not come immediately. It occurs gradually as the pain subsides and we adjust to an altered life.
Grieving and adjusting is hard work, however. May these lessons comfort, give strength, and help you discover that you can, and will, come out just fine on the other side. Take it from me, I know.
We claim to be a nation conceived by God,
Blessed by virtue of Holy support,
But it seems we’ve been abandon, left under the charge of Mammon.
I offer such observations as these for proof:
An opioid epidemic enabled by
Doctors wooed by corporations,
Lawmakers wooed by the cherished dollar.
Millions of Americans in a prison of addiction while
Mammon pulls levers, then turns nobs
in order to maximize His earnings.
A gun lobby that encourages violence.
Causes us to turn inward upon ourselves,
Killing our own, racking up a body count
That even combined wars can’t touch;
Mammon gleefully collects His gold
From dutiful firearm makers and sellers.
A culture “war on Christmas”
In effort to keep pure a singular Holy Day
Layered upon Holy Days,
Yet we fight, grab, push, some even die,
In order to get those shiny Black Friday deals;
Mammon has never been so well fed.
Men of God preach from t.v. thrones
or stages of megachurches.
Their message feels contorted to
Some modern ideology where helping yourself
means blindly supporting them,
Instead of the homeless, instead of the abused,
instead of the sick.
Mammon laughs and laughs at this clever ruse,
and counts His gold at night with gluttonous hands.
Just a few examples of a misaligned religion,
Where we claim to be capitalists during the week
While displaying contrite gratefulness on Sundays
To a god that blesses and gives.
A god who’s name is Mammon, not Yahweh
A god who has become fat upon greed and hypocrisy
A god who presides by permission
thanks to human adoration of the holy free market,
where decency, sympathy, and cooperation are damned.
Praise be to Mammon, god of the United States of America.
The tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting is devastating. As I survey the news, I’ve noticed that the same headlines and talking points pop up after these kinds of incidences. They bear listing, for the sake of understanding the big picture and the problems we face in attempting to turn around this particular, unique tide of violence .
The very first thing that comes up with each mass shooting is the argument of gun control. Whether the timing is right or not, it’s natural human behavior to witness this kind of act and think “Can we do something about this?” The Onion has gotten cheeky (cynical??) in its reaction, using the same headline and article the past five mass shootings, just switching out the picture and a few details to reflect the current horrendous mess. But more serious news articles abound with statistics demonstrating how the US compares to other nations whose restrictions on gun ownership means no one has guns, therefore the amount of deaths attributed to guns in those nations is much lower than what we experience in ours. There are discussions about the inability to track gun deaths and violence in the US due to effective lobbying by the NRA. There’s the opposing loud and proud call to retain the 2nd Amendment in it’s purity, forgetting the phrase ‘well regulated’, and including pat responses such as ‘This is the price we pay for being a free country’.
A more recent talking point that comes up at a time like this is the attention drawn to the fact that in the US, we are more likely to be struck down by one of our own than from a sworn enemy such as an ISIS operative. This is definitely something to consider as we muddle through court cases arguing about the constitutionality of travel bans from specific countries.
Another common thread I’ve surveyed among news stories is the idea of the public obsession with the shooter and copycat behavior. According to the FBI, this is a serious component to furthering our already violent nation into more violence. It’s normal to long for an understanding as to how someone could be so callous as to murder their fellow primates. Part of that process means discussing their habits, their background, their final moments. While the media provides these details to us, the disastrous cyclical effect it produces means we may want to re-think how we handle these circumstances in the future.
Finally, we are so anxious for news in the wake of these tragedies that we seize onto the first few stories that come out of the wreckage, often based on piecemeal details that are difficult to scrub clean in the investigative aftermath. When the dust settles, when the investigation is complete, those initial stories are usually amended to include the findings of police and others. However, those late arriving details are lost in the belief of whatever is read first while in the throes of shock. ISIS has claimed responsibility for this attack, we won’t know if that’s true until computer records are gleaned, but the damage is already done. While anything is possible, it’s not probable that this is ISIS inspired, and a small contingency will believe so anyway even if the investigative outcome reveals no connection. It behooves us to wait until we have more facts before jumping to conclusions because those reactive stories are often adjusted to reflect a more realistic picture and understanding.
There aren’t words to describe the depth of despair these kinds of tragedies incur on our national population: We are literally killing ourselves at an alarming rate. The probability that it will happen again, soon, is depressingly high. Yet as we survey emotions and news headlines each time, we notice that the same issues continue to raise their ugly heads, as well as ways to deal with them.
Maybe, one day, we will become wise enough to challenge ourselves to change.
Peace, and much strength and grace to the families of those who died in Las Vegas.
NB: Some of the links I use in this article are a couple of years old, yet quite relevant still. I purposefully chose them to illustrate my point: the same issues keep cropping up in situations such as this.
It took me months to admit I might be Sensitive. I hated the idea since the admission seemed to carry with it a connotation of weakness. As I’ve learned more about the trait and living the life of an HSP in our hyped up world, I’ve adjusted my thinking.
I suppose it seems weak if a person can’t sit through violent movies. I suppose it appears to be weakness if a man chooses to go home after work instead of going for a drink with the guys. I suppose it looks as if a woman is weak if she becomes overwhelmed quickly in a highly stimulating environment. I’m sure it must suggest weakness if a person is constantly empathizing with others instead of getting on with life.
While all those scenarios are true of HSP’s, it must be remembered that we don’t like or do those things because of a weakness, we behave this way because our wiring. Which means most of what we do requires a level of bravery that others don’t need to employ.
It’s a brave soul that moves beyond the constant fight or flight tension to engage with a stranger and get to know them. It’s a brave man that speaks out against an observed injustice in the workplace. It’s a brave woman that disciplines her involuntary empathy to pass up a relationship with a narcissist. It’s a brave person that notices the oddball in the crowd and pulls them in to feel more comfortable. It’s a brave individual that pushes back the fear and reaches out to help, teach, guide, and care, because we don’t just see the suffering around us, we feel it as equally and as vividly, and we’ll do damn near anything to ease the suffering in this world.
It’s a two sided coin for sure. HSP’s appear to exist along the sidelines, preferring less exposure since we’re already inherently exposed; yet we often lead the way in situations that necessitate diplomacy, empathy, and the ability to see details while simultaneously observing the big picture. The only way we have the ability for doing so is by literally ignoring, or overcoming, or swallowing the energy of every alarm system going off within us. Such acts require a deep well of bravery that only HSP’s possess.
We are the bravest of them all.
We’ve entered a strange era for a nation where facts are of little meaning and truth is distorted without consequence.
If you’ve tried to have a conversation with someone who still supports a Trump presidency, there’s a high probability that many of you experience the inability to find some tiny common island of truth on which you can agree. It seems that the only thing agreeable is that we can all identify as Americans, and even that concession is tenuous.
For a long while I’ve been baffled by the ability for many, including leaders of ‘the church’, to ignore reality and cling to strange, somewhat mythological concepts such as “God can use even a corrupt man”.
Then it came to me: Part of the agreement in being a Christian is that there’s only one source of information from which to base a world view. Only the Bible can provide real answers. Only the Bible can be the source for history. Only the Bible offers a moral code for society.
There is consequently an entire population of American citizens who are programmed to refuse any new information simply because it doesn’t come from the Bible. Anything outside the holy writ is considered blasphemous and is not to be weighed. There is no room for curiosity, no appeal to questioning, no allowance for new evidence. It’s a closed and very regulated environment, as most religions are and must be. Outside sources are quick to prove them wrong, or at least mistaken, and would shatter the thin foundation upon which the belief is built.
Since curiosity was killed on the altars of religion, it makes complete sense to me as to why so many are willing to buy into FOX, Breitbart, Hannity, Limbaugh, and Jones narratives – there’s no reason to question their assertions, nor is there a desire to discover if they are presenting the truth. These are minds that have become accustom to just receiving information without weighing its worth, and if a talking snake can steer mankind down a road of licentiousness, then yes, Donald Trump, corrupt as he is, can be affirmed by god to the highest office of the land in order to fulfill some vague biblical purpose.
I am trying to find ways to bridge the gap and encourage conversation, but without a desire to heed facts or consider a differing perspective, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy, productive discourse.
While it helps to understand why there’s such a resistance to truth among a certain number of our fellow citizens, I’m not sure where this leaves us overall. I wouldn’t worry about it except the US has lost a great deal of respect in the world’s view, and the legislation coming out of the current Congress would send us into third world status, and we want to pass to our children a viable, healthy democracy for their future.
I am open to suggestions. And always hoping that, somehow, reason would save us from becoming another crumbling empire.
May truth will out…
It’s like –
Existing as a singular nerve ending
Always gauging the atmosphere.
It’s like –
Knowledge of every nuance
Unable to shut out the details
Observance of minutia
With ability to interpret it accurately.
It’s like –
Impervious to selfishness
Absolute incapacity to rest feelings.
It’s like –
A human sea anemone
Waving in peaceful currents
Then retracting, revolted
By any maligned touch.
It’s like –
Walking the thin
Dodging incessant flying rubble
Still maintaining balance
It’s like –
A hundred thoughts
Into a thousand categories
With millions of layers
And, understanding them all.