Tests

Posted by Fe Bongolan

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With the shootings in Orlando, Florida, and in Britain under the lights of the summer solstice and the Full Moon, Fe Bongolan asks if we are ready to test our resolve while facing our fears. What will it take to set fear aside and grow?

“So afraid of where I’m going, so in love with where I’ve been.”

The line above was written by an inmate at the county jail where we work, used lyrically to describe repeating cycles of addiction leading to repeated incarceration. The show was called “A Place at the Table,” a modern-day retelling of the myth of Sisyphus, the guy in Greek mythology who is damned for eternity never to get it right.

“So afraid of where I’m going. So in love with where I’ve been” also describes a lens through which I view our world this solstice/Full Moon day.

People are struggling with uncertainty in a world where everything changes and moves so fast, yet we track information on the web — a source that comes at us with information at the force, volume and velocity of a fire hose as opposed to a drinking fountain. Too much to take in and absorb all at once, and too little room for reflection on what is really true.

However, there’s plenty of time for reaction…upon reaction…upon reaction. So much so that the reaction becomes fact and the fuel for our argument and distraction — and not the meaning, which drifts further off the moorings. For everyone, life has been offering us big tests of our capacity for grief, patience, tolerance and compassion. We’re walking uphill in a world that has changed rapidly politically, economically and demographically over the last decade.

In the instance of the Orlando shooting case, the ham-handed simplicity with which we’ve traditionally gauged and assessed who causes terror is being¬†challenged. For now, that is a good thing. The Club Pulse shootings happened a week ago, and it’s hard to pinpoint which facet of Omar Mateen’s life places him in the pigeonhole of a mass shooter or a terrorist on a rampage like we always do. Is he like an Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, or one of the Tsarnaev brothers? Or is he something altogether different?

Mateen’s Afghan heritage and Muslim faith collided with his online presence on gay dating sites, his inclusion on the US “no-fly list” and his conflicted membership in both Hezbollah and ISIS (two opposing forces in Middle East conflicts). Mateen’s recent deadly outburst in Orlando left us all questioning his motives. Was his violent behavior a single-minded act of terror? Or was he living out our country’s cultural, gender and political wars as they resided inside one body — his own. In any case, he should not have had access to a semi-automatic weapon.

Catapulted by events in Orlando, we begin the week in the US with a vote on an amendment that would allow law enforcement to block firearm sales for national security reasons in narrow circumstances. In other words: no one on a Department of Homeland Security watch list should be able to purchase a semi-automatic weapon.

That it’s taken 15 years post 9-11 to happen is shocking anywhere else but in America. Since Americans ‘need guns to put away terrorists’, any weapons-sale ban or background check would have been in violation of our Second Amendment rights, and of our ‘need’ to protect ourselves because of, er, terror.

Also this week, the UK prepares for the EU Referendum, also known as the “Brexit” vote. It takes place Thursday, June 23, exactly one week after Labour MP Jo Cox’s murder by Thomas Mair, who shouted “Britain First” — the cry of the anti-immigrant Far-Right nationalist group of the same name, who support the “Leave” (the EU) movement — as he attacked her.

Mair has been described as an “isolated man with some psychological problems” who was stirred by the same white nationalism that fuels much of Donald Trump’s political support in America — a fear of the other. Mair has also been involved with the National Alliance, an American Neo-Nazi group.

The overall aggressive anti-immigrant tone of this referendum has raised concerns, amplified by Cox’s murder. The moderation of that tone and atmosphere coming on the heels of Cox’s death is now about to be tested by Trump’s planned visit to Britain the day after the referendum.

Certainly, we may be so afraid of where we’re going and so in love with where we’ve been that we screw this phase in time up again. But this is no time for fear. It’s time for reflection on our existing fears using the light of a bright Cancer Sun and a sober Capricorn Moon to see them in full light.

As grieving for the dead continues, feelings bubbling underneath the surface over the last few weeks and months have potential to release their pressure. Maybe we can begin to find a way to solutions that make this world a welcoming, peaceful place for all of us. Maybe we can embrace a little more complexity in our lives as this world changes over time.

It seems a good time for knowing fears exist yet setting them aside, placing ourselves on the correct path regardless of fear, and pushing our load up so we reach the summit of our ideals of living fearlessly on the ever-changing planet. And yes, maybe we screw this up yet again, but maybe at the very least, we could absorb the lessons of the tests we face. A teachable moment is upon us. Can we rise to the occasion?

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The Planet Waves Boutique has plenty of balm for your soul. Come pay us a visit, put your feet up, and enjoy discovering all the wonderful readings we have to offer.

Posted in Columnist, Fe-911 on | 21 comments
Fe Bongolan

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

21 thoughts on “Tests

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

      Pam:

      Thank you! That was a lovely link, as I myself find I am at my desk with my bottle of Bach’s Rescue Energy spray to give me a BOOST during the day. It helps quiet things down, though I am in front of a computer five days in a row, it helps quiet a scattered brain.

      Which gets us to the point of your link. We are so out of touch with our bodies, requiring a movement (political, religious or otherwise) to direct us instead of listening to our own personal physical needs that we have, as Alice Walker once said “separated our heads from our bodies.

      The Senate voted down four Orlando inspired gun control laws yesterday. The rock rolls back down the hill.

      We are a PTSD culture, sharing that same stress with the world. Would that we could have a civilized two hour tea time, or a three hour Italian lunch, or a Spanish mid-day siesta, or an hour break to meditate.

      1. pam

        Thank you Fe. We just have to make the time for ourselves to ground ourselves? These last months Orius and Sila Numan have both interested me at ways to engage and get grounded (through where they meet my natal chart).

        And touch – just kind touch. I learned living with cats to gently pull their tails and rub the floor with them , and touch their paws ears tail face so that they were ‘in’ their bodies – aware of themselves entirely. I’d forgotten until a kitten had a fright recently and without thinking I ‘shook’ her very gently and did the to all extremities greeting concentrating very gently on the paw that got caught in a door until she ‘came back’. Do you think it is possible to gently pull people’s hair or a sleeve or touch their arms without offence, ‘hello’, ‘steady on’, ‘it’s alright’, ‘I’m with you’, ‘sorry’ etc etc?

        love Pam

        1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

          Funny you say that. Just got back from a four-day weekend with my family where all of us turned off our cell phones, relaxed, cooked, ate, colored in our coloring books, and playing with our beautiful family Lab-German Shepherd dog, Taz.

          It was so healing and wholesome in every sense. Pets give us such an even spiritual grounding. They put us in touch with our inner sorcerer/sorceress.

          I think touch really does make it possible for us to fuse energetically to others, giving others connection to the ground when they lose it from trauma. One of the rituals we use in the Medea Project when a woman has revealed the story of her trauma — an emotionally difficult thing to do — is that we sing “Amen” in a circle around her and pass her gently around the circle, each of us holding her with joy and laughter. It reminds her that she is alright. She is alive, and she is amazing to have survived and is present with us today. Its one of the types of exercises we use that we hope saves lives.

    1. Amy Elliott

      Farage has been doing his thing for years, the little git. (There’s also the neverending source of bewilderment known as Boris Johnson.) The only change is that people have inexplicably started listening to them.

      1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

        Amy:

        Farage reminds me a lot of Ted Cruz — equally obnoxious with an added whiff of toxic arrogance. They both don’t know and they both don’t care.

  1. LizzyLizzy

    Thanks for this interesting article, Fe. Think though, that there are also a lot of people of my dad’s generation, and probably younger (he’s 84) who have always hated the EU with a vengeance, feeling that it has brought only harm to the country, fuelled by the reading of arch-conservative newpapers such as the Telegraph.
    Let’s hope that the Brits have the same good sense and sensitivity they showed when Londoners voted in the new Mayor – and that they choose to remain…

    1. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

      Hope so too, Lizzy.

      The continental de-stabilization potential from a Brexit is exactly the formula for fascist takeover in the West. That is why this is more than a national referendum test. Its a test of our resolve to confront living in a much smaller world with more porous borders.

  2. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

    Rep. John Lewis from the floor of the House of Representatives:

    Mr. Speaker, I will ask that all of my colleagues join me on the floor. On occasion, Mr. Speaker, I have had what I call an executive session with myself. For months, even for years, I wondered what would bring this body to take action? What will finally make congress do what is right? What is just what the people of this country have been demanding, and what is long overdue? We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence, to tiny little children, babies, students and teachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, friends and neighbors . And what has this body done?

    Mr. Speaker, nothing. Not one thing. We have turned deaf ears. We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the innocent and the concern of our nation. We are blind to a crisis. Mr. Speaker, where is the heart of this body? Where is our soul? Where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage? Those who work on bipartisan solutions are pushed aside. Those who pursue commonsense improvement are beaten down. Reason is criticized. Obstruction is praised. Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, Orlando. What is the tipping point? Are we blind? Can we see? How many more mothers, how many more fathers need to shed tears of grief before we do something ? We were elected to lead, Mr. Speaker. We must be headlights and not taillights. We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand. Deadly mass shootings are becoming more and more frequent .

    Mr. Speaker, this is the fight. It is not an opinion. We must remove the blinders. The time for silence and patience is long gone. We’re calling on the leadership of the house to bring commonsense gun control legislation to the house floor.

    Give us a vote. Let us vote. We came here to do our job. We came here to work. The American people are demanding action. Do we have the courage? Do we have raw courage to make at least a down payment on ending gun violence in America? We can no longer wait. We can no longer be patient, so today we come to the well of the house to drum the need for action. Not next month. Not next year. But now. Today. Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We have been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise. When you have to move your feet . This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more. The time for silence is over. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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