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There were a number of sad, moving, and frustrating posts in my FB feed this week. There was one, about an Oklahoma child that committed suicide in front of his peers that was horrifying to read, for so many reasons of course. That he was bullied. That he believed this was the answer. That his parents didn’t know of his plans, and I suppose how could they have. I felt such sadness when I read it, that he was treated so cruelly, and that he couldn’t survive it.

And this one, a story of protesters in Texas being systematically hurt in order to get them to stop protesting. Arm twisting. Pepper spray. Tasers.

What really affected me was that the people doing the tasing just did it. A matter of fact procedure designed to get the troublemakers (or criminals, or protestors, or however your world view would view them) to comply. I think they were calling it “pain compliance.” It’s a terrifying term, a term to clean up the idea of torture into something bureaucratic.

“But compassion only needs a tiny connection to be more powerful than despair.”

I did find it somehow comforting to realize that the person being tased and sprayed used his physical connection to his partner, and the Litany of Fear from Dune (remembering the lessons of Paul as he faced the Gom Jabbar, a test designed to determine if you were human or animal) to stay focused on the mission of his work.

Who was human here? The ones protesting destruction of land, staying connected by a science fiction quote, a finger touch, and compassion? The ones doing their jobs, following orders either the TransCanada workers or the police. Both? A mystery.

And I also found it comforting, and haunting the words he wanted to say, but didn’t dare, “I wish this cup would pass me by.”

“The lieutenant asked, “Is your goal just to go to jail? You can go to jail without the pain; it’s your stubbornness that’s making us do this.” I had to stop myself from replying, “I wish this cup would pass me by.” I didn’t say it because I was sure they would misinterpret it as blasphemously casting myself as Jesus, but I meant it; I wished there was another way to accomplish our goals. I wasn’t looking forward to what my time with the ACLU led me to expect they would do to us. But I don’t believe in giving in to terrorism; to follow one’s moral compass in spite of extreme challenges is the way we move forward.”

And perhaps the police felt that these two were terrorists, and the writer felt TransCanada was. Who was? Mystery how humans can be in such opposition.

Finally, I am not entirely sure how it comes to be that one person can do something so painful and cruel to another person and be so matter of fact about it. And I’m also not sure how the people taking it, can remain compassionate and survive. These are mysteries to me, but the first mystery breaks my heart and the second gives me some small hope that even if it’s broken, my heart will still work.


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