I overslept yesterday. It’s a rare thing, and generally associated with pure panic, incredible anxiety, a feeling of failure, and an excess of emotional self-abuse and callousness. Yesterday? Yesterday I simply overslept a bit, having awakened in the night to the sound of thunder, and spending some time watching and listening to the rare (in this area) thunderstorm. I woke gently. Noticed quickly that it was later than I expected upon waking. Gave myself an understanding smile, and experienced a moment of appreciation for my habit of recent years of getting up very early to slow my morning down to a pace that feels pleasant and unhurried; the result yesterday was that although I overslept by a substantial amount, there was still no cause to rush. I had time for coffee, yoga, meditation, and all the usual sorts of morning related hygiene and ‘getting it together’ stuff I generally do. So… oversleeping was a total non event, and that is what was noteworthy about it.

Perspective, again. It really matters.

What we see depends so much on what we're looking at.

What we see depends so much on what we’re looking at.

I have a peculiar perspective on perspective, though, because although I easily accept that perspective and context change how some experiences feel, I also find that some experiences are unpleasant,  unacceptable, even ‘wrong’, regardless of context. Torturing people fits that category. So does force-feeding them (and by that I mean feeding people forcibly in the face of their specific refusal to eat by choice of their will and intention). Killing people over ideology fits the category [for me] of acts that are unacceptable without regard to context. Genital mutilation, too; I am not opposed to body modification chosen willfully by an individual, but I don’t find it even a little bit acceptable to go around hacking up people’s sex bits when they are children (of any gender, or culture) and not yet able to consent, or in the face of obvious refusal to consent. In fact, that’s the magic word for me – ‘consent’. So yeah: rape, murder, genocide, drone warfare, genital mutilation, domestic violence, acting out against another human being in anger…really, any act of violence against other human beings just isn’t okay with me, whether it is parent against child, spouse against spouse, ex against ex, nation against nation, cop against mentally ill person, soldier against civilian, sports figure against fan, pissed off person against person who pissed them off… it just isn’t okay.

I have trouble understanding why people don’t embrace kindness, compassion, open communication, frankness, clear boundary setting, and respecting the boundaries set by others. At this point in my life I find no argument that justifies a man killing his ex-wife over her desire not to associate with him any further. I find no argument that justifies raping someone. I find no argument that justifies genocide. I find no argument that justifies genital mutilation (and yes, I do include circumcision as genital mutilation, considering the arguments used to support it are just as phony as the arguments used to support female genital mutilation, and it seems an obviously painful and utterly worthless procedure). I find no arguments that make violence against children acceptable, especially at the hands of a parent. I just don’t get it. How can a human being raise a hand against another human being and not understand how vile that actually is? Where is our compassion as human beings?

I wasn’t always ‘here’. This hasn’t always been my point of view. I was once pretty ‘pro violence’, in the sense that it seemed to me, then, that any number of things made sense as justification, or at least mitigation, of violence… generally falling in two basic buckets. The first, the sick notion that there is some one ‘right way’ and that all must be forced to comply with that way – the ideology argument. The other, that there is  somehow something due to an individual or group, some sort of recompense, or vengeance, or act in their favor regardless of the will or resources of another – the entitlement argument. There’s a lot of cross over, there, but generally it seems to me those two basic misconceptions cover most of it.  The ugliest violations in life are built on those cornerstones of ill-will. I don’t find either of those adequate justification for violence at this point in my life.

There is, of course, more to life than violence, and so much more going on in the world. I avoid the news, but I prefer not to become ‘ignorant’ through doing so; ignorance easily leads one to callousness, cruelty, and casual unkindness through lack of context, or understanding, so I make an effort to be aware of the flow of historical events, while avoiding traumatizing myself with emotional overload. One thing that keeps me engaged in the world, strangely, is the ‘homework’ I do that has evolved around studying emotional intimacy, the nature and function of emotion, my own internal chaos and damage, and the slow process of healing and ‘growing my soul’, and developing emotional resilience and self-sufficiency (all ongoing processes). I’ve reached a point on my journey where much of what I contemplate has to do with issues of consent; it is where most of my own damage lies.

I seriously doubt many of us take a moment to slow things down and look at how often we violate the boundaries of others, overstep the limitations of their consent, violate their consent outright, attempting to ‘talk them out of’ their position, contradict or bully them, or apply coercive tactics to their decision-making, or making demands on their time or resources without regard to their needs and desires. I see these things, now, all as subtle sorts of violation, and inappropriate uses of emotional force. It’s been hard to learn to respect my own boundaries enough to insist others respect them as well. More than once recently I have found myself moved to substantial anger when gentle insistence that my boundaries be respected was not honored…and I find violence an unacceptable way to address that…so…then what? And isn’t that how wars start? It’s a tough puzzle. I keep coming back to a solution of absolute personal freedom limited only by the absolute personal freedom of  each other individual besides myself, and the only honorable restriction being to do no harm to another through an act of my will, and an obligation to society to apply my will to prevent harm when I understand it is possible to do so, and to respect the consent of others as sacrosanct.  So many times, the prevailing attitude seems to be ‘sure, freedom for me – but not them!’  It’s pretty obvious it doesn’t really work that way.

I’m rambling a bit over my espresso this morning. I’m in a generally pleasant mood. I struggle to understand the violence in the world, and I struggle to understand how it isn’t obvious to more people how unnecessary it is. Of course, perspective and point of view matter, I guess. I think it is pretty grim that anyone’s point of view would allow them to justify bombing school children in their sleep, or laying waste to portions of our very small earth to deprive someone else of the use of it. It seems inhuman and monstrous.

It’s Saturday. I slept well. The morning sky evolved from pale gray to pinks and lavenders, and is now that sparkling clear summertime blue that hints at a hot afternoon to come, interrupted with fluffy clouds to remind me other outcomes are a possibility. Aren’t they always? This was a lot of words to say ‘good morning, please be kind, the world already has enough meanness, callousness, ignorance, and cruelty’ – but it’s really the only point I had, I think. 🙂

Each day is a good day to make good choices, and a new opportunity to be the woman I most want to be.

Each day is a good day to make good choices, and a new opportunity to be the woman I most want to be.

Today is a good day to do my best. Today is a good day to avoid taking things personally. Today is a good day to refrain from making assumptions, and give the other person a chance to use their words. Today is a good day for boundaries, and a good day for respecting them. Today is a good day for genuine kindness, and gentle frankness. Today is a good day to listen. Today is a good day to change the world.