Close to midnight a while back, I found myself profiling cops on the side of the highway. I was being followed by some Trump supporters who’d threatened me and my son as they’d threatened many others. They were confused, angry people with hurt feelings and they’d been fooled. Confused anger is sort of a first stage response, but some people don’t move past it and they can be predictably unpredictable, easily fooled. I thought a cop might help me shake them, but every time I saw a white male cop, I’d keep driving. Colorblind my whole life, I found myself suspicious. I wasn’t really; I’d just been told that I should be. I’d heard that others were.
We don’t actually buy into aligning or maligning according to where we sit on the race or gender spectra; it’s not our essence and it’s not the endgame. Which was, oddly, not unlike what these guys chasing me were saying: white men don’t deserve to be vilified. That’s true. Racism and sexism are a joke of perception. But they wanted to align and inherent in aligning in an unbalanced time is maligning others in the name of a place where we all live. A murky perspective when what matters about us can be neither empowered nor diminished by what doesn’t, when the political – which is personal – repercussions can be so damaging. These guys weren’t racist, not really; they’d just been told that they should be. They’d heard that others were.
And they thought they were losing a life game, had wounded psychologies. Wounded is broken unless you’re able to step out of its pain. What is losing? What kind of perceived threat would make a man threaten a woman and a child? They felt bullied, weren’t thinking clearly, tried to bully. So most of their politics didn’t hold much water or reflect much humanity. And now they’d targeted me and some other musicians, hoping we’d be frightened. The Confederate flag dudes were in our subculture but they weren’t picked for any cool teams, so they’d chosen lousy friends. And zombies eat brains.
Red and blue lights flashed up ahead. Real means we align with our humanity. The cop who helped me was a human.
Losing is fear, winning is weakness, neither is truth. We just wanna play this game because we don’t play alone. You have fight in you and you don’t fight. Not unless you have to. We actually do align with our humanity. After stumbling around the block, we find the path; we can’t help it. Some of us may look away from this truth, but it is no less true for that. We’re about our message, not ourselves. When we forget and turn ideas into look at me, it’s a halting cough in an otherwise moving speech. We are evolving. As we make mistakes.
Most especially? We don’t love to hate. There is bad out there: troubled hearts capable of unimaginable cruelty, and we remain stunned by their amorality. Good for us. Our enemies though, are not those capable of evil but the hungry ghosts inside all people, groping for more than real. They cause pain. Your body and soul know that’s a waste, a wasted life and they will waste away. There is no more than real. Evil happens when hungry ghosts win and souls check out. And evil, with no depth perception, keeps these ghosts hungry.
No one chases me anymore. Some fire went out in a spray of poor planning. And listening.
Maybe we’ll keep pulling each other up out of the weeds, engage in the light honor of knowing how another feels without presuming that we do. Maybe we’ll alter consensus reality by expanding it. Maybe we won’t give up on those who’ve fallen from grace or fallen at their hands, maybe we won’t give up on troubled hearts.
Or those with hungry ghosts looking out of their eyes, lost in getting, offering nothing, wasting away. Maybe we won’t give up on the confused angry or the wounded, but hold the hands which have caused so much pain, so they can do no more damage. Maybe we won’t give up on their shattered victims…maybe we won’t give up.
Photo by Bodhi William