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The Many Faces of Grief: H

Hopelessness, Human rights, Humiliation, Hatred and the Human Condition

On hopelessness:

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning.

You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.

Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

~ Louise Erdrich

On human rights:

Human Rights plays a role in everyone’s life, but not everyone realizes it. It’s involved in every comment you make that includes someone different. Every near discriminatory “joke” you say. It affects people, even if it doesn’t affect you. Human rights means being able to hold hands with the person you love, work where you’re qualified to work without your skin color or sexual orientation being the reason you can’t; it means having the right to be human, making choices and mistakes.

Every day I hear comments being made about this being “gay” and other comments about that being “retarded.” There are an estimated 1,019,729 words in the English language. What I don’t understand is why these words are chosen to describe something meager or something that lacks quality. Society has gotten to the point where people think it doesn’t matter what they say, that they think their comments and hate don’t affect other people. Humans are often hurtful towards each other, but I believe we all were born with innate compassion and love.

These days, I see parents showing their kids what to think instead of how to think. I see people not being able to marry someone they love because they are the same gender, even though it is acceptable to marry someone then divorce the next day. People say gays aren’t socially acceptable, but the thing is, slavery was once the norm. So, what does that say about our community in Juneau?

I hear and see this type of thing every day; people being ignorant and neglecting the notion that all humans are equal. I wish I didn’t see bias and prejudice, but I do. I often witness people in Juneau, young and old, ignoring the fact that we’re the same. Humans aren’t born racist, homophobic or sexist. We were born equal. So why is it everyone is bent on believing that one life is less important than another? Why is it a person high up in society can get away with something other people can’t? How is that equal? Why is one religion “correct” while a different one is frowned upon? What gives other people the right to decide who I wanna be and what I want to do with my life?

I don’t believe in God, and I’m constantly being told that I’m locked out of Heaven for it. But who knows what happens after we’re done here? That’s right, no one. So, I’m basically being held back by people who honestly don’t know any more than I do about it. The right to be who we’re destined to be belongs to everyone, not just people who are favored or socially acceptable. I can look around and see a flawed humanity. My one hope is to see that change. Because we may be different on the outside, but we are all human. Nothing else should define us. Not race, sex, or sexual orientation.

~ Alyssa Nauska, 8th grader, Juneau, Alaska

On humiliation, hatred and the human condition:

It’s an act of courage to be human in these times

Dear Reader,

I’m seeing a trio of faces as I write about humiliation: tres hombres – a gang of grief: humiliation, hatred and the human condition. They seem to travel together in disrupting our lives and spinning us into a great deal of suffering. Wikipedia defines humiliation in these terms:

Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It is an emotion felt by a person whose social status, either by force or willingly, has just decreased.

Let’s begin with some self-inquiry. Have you humiliated another person? Did you then feel somewhat superior? Have you been humiliated? Did you feel reduced to lowliness? As we go within to answer these questions, we probably get an affirmative on each question.

So, what is the opposite of humiliation? The word I come up with is “superiority”. Yuk! These feelings do not settle well in me. Nevertheless, living in the world of duality as we do, it’s only natural that we have experienced both ends of the polarity. But let’s go a little deeper. Are you with me?

Both ends of the pole speak of victim/tyrant identity, right? But there is a middle ground here and I call it self-humiliation. Ugh. That’s right. In this case of humiliation, we can’t project blame on anybody because we’ve done it to ourselves. This is an enormous weight of grief, and because I have experienced it, you probably have, too. Let’s investigate.

There was a woman in recent years who was loved and honored in her community. A few of her devotees nominated her for a community award that would be presented at an upcoming event. She was initially surprised and then immediately resistant to the idea. She had been there and done it, as they say. She didn’t need or want the spotlight on her. She called the community director of the upcoming awards event and removed herself from the “list” of nominees. She felt good about it. It was the right thing to do. She was in her personal integrity. But then her devotees got wind of what she had done, and there was a melt-down. They insisted on having their way, though their motivations were probably somewhat dubious. She made another call. She was back on the “list”. “Why?”, you might ask. Good question.

Sometimes we do things for the wrong reason. That woman was me. And I did it to please them. I stepped out of my personal integrity. I humiliated myself, and this brings in the other bad hombre: hatred. Not for the devotees, mind you, but self-hatred for letting myself down. In a word, I ignored my feelings, my truth. This is ignorance. OMGoodness. Such pain. I became sick. Absolutely sick to death for what I had done to myself. Blaming nobody but me. I think this is the worst of the grief gang of three. Self-hatred on top of self-humiliation. It comes back to haunt me even now. That’s why you’re reading this. This is an expose.

As I’ve often stated, I have so much compassion for the human condition, the third of the gang of grief. Are you with me? Can you relate? Oh, I hope so!! But, Dear Friends, we don’t want to turn on ourselves. Goodness, no! But what I have learned from this experience is quite grand.

We can look at the polarity of humiliation and superiority and the “self” that lies somewhere between them. We can accept that in this world of duality that we’re going to experience it all; but there’s goodness here; a gift. Yes, our dear Sister Grief comes bearing gifts – that’s the truth. The truth here is that these states of being that invite grief to visit us offer another octave, you might call it – a higher state of being that I call “MERCY”.

Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing to see the world, and to see ourselves through the lens of mercy?! I’m reminded now of Brian Wilson’s song, “Love and Mercy”. Yes, I love the Beach Boys, and I love this music. Even more, I love the feel of the blessed word: mercy.

It is an act of courage to embody mercy in this human condition

It’s a beautiful note to hit, even more beautiful if it becomes a part of who we are – true embodiment of mercy

With Love and Mercy,


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