Archive for October, 2011

I was talking to my counselor the other day about the fact that sometimes I say mean jabbing things to my partner and I want to stop doing that. She asked me why I say mean jabbing things. I said that it’s because my partner sometimes says mean jabbing things to me and so I feel justified in retaliating. My counselor then told me about the “victim-perpetrator seesaw.” That sounded like a horrid funhouse ride in H-E-double hockey sticks at first, but after she explained it I understood: when one person is disempowered [by a mean jabbing remark] she feels bad and so to get out of feeling bad, she retaliates. You can picture the victim-perpetrator seesaw going back and forth, on and on, forevermore…UNTIL…you realize that it doesn’t feel good on either side. It is never balanced! It’s always one up, one down, each position maintaining it’s own particular brand of misery. After I had this conversation with my counselor, two interesting things happened to cement in my mind the theme of balance.

Interesting thing one: I read an article in the news that according to the United Nations Population Fund, the global population is going to reach 7 billion people on this Halloween. There is some nervousness about how Mother Earth will cope with these rising numbers (we’re the perp in this one by the way). After I read the article on the population, I remembered reading a different article that stated that ancient tribes practiced infanticide in order to maintain efficacious hunting/gathering. They knew that if there were too many people, they would all suffer.

Interesting thing two: I started a new block studying ancient India with my fifth grade class. Yesterday we talked about the goddess Kali. While studying up on Kali for myself, I came upon this poem by the mystic poet Ramprasad (don’t skip the poem! It’s really good!):

Mother, incomparably arrayed.

Hair flying, stripped down.

You battle-dance on Shiva’s heart,

A garland of heads that bounce off

Your heavy hips, chopped-off hands

For a belt, the bodies of infants

For earrings, and the lips,

The teeth like jasmine, the face

A lotus blossomed, the laugh.

And the dark body boiling up and out

Like a storm cloud, and those feet

Whose beauty is only deepened by blood.

So Prasad cries: My mind is dancing! Can I take much more? Can I bear An impossible beauty?

(It’s a very different kind of love story than the ones we’re used to these days) After I read the poem to my class, we drew pictures of Kali dancing on Shiva’s heart, tongue hanging out, eyes wide and white, a different weapon or a demon conk in each her many hands, skulls around her neck and severed heads around her waist…my fifth graders were aghast at the sight! (ok, they were more grossed out than aghast, but whatever, man). I explained to them that Kali is the goddess of destruction. She tears down the old in order to make way for the new. While she may be fierce and bloody, without her there could be no world.

My point may not be obvious here, so I’ll go ahead and bring it home for you: Balance is a interesting and complex maneuver. Often something needs to sacrificed in order to maintain it. The choice of what I choose to let go of in order to maintain balance is my own. Do I throw the baby out with the bathwater? Do I cut my losses? Cut the fat? Do I [fill in favorite aphorism here] in order to survive? Kali is equally happy to destroy healthy tissue or necrotic sludge. The choice of what to offer her is mine alone.

My counselor’s suggestion to the problem was to instruct me to visualize my life with my partner not as a hellish seesaw, but as a journey taken side by side, one in which we help each other over fences,  pick each other flowers and treat each other kindly, because we love and respect each other.

So that’s how I will balance my little seesaw. And who knows? If enough little seesaws get balanced…the whole globe could feel the effect.


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The following is a summary of an interview between Sue Supriano and Elvy Musikka. You can listen to the terrific interview in its entirety here at Steppin’ Out of Babylon, a radio interview program minus the filters of corporate greed. This posting is in honor of the fact that I recently saw Elvy Musikka at an activism event and I remembered how totally awesome she is…

With a bucket of marijuana cigarettes…(photo by Don Ryan for the Seattle Times–Associated Press)

Elvy Musikka is one of four people who have a federally granted permit for to use medical marijuana. As a child Musikka suffered from congenital cataracts, which developed into glaucoma after several surgeries. She began using marijuana to treat this condition despite the opinion of her ophthalmologist, who felt that she should have surgery instead. Musikka chose to have the surgery on one eye, while continuing to treat the glaucoma using marijuana, obtained illegally to treat her other eye. She was in constant fear of getting arrested and loosing her children, but the marijuana was working.

By 1987 the eye she was having surgery on was blind and Musikka was arrested for possession of marijuana. By this point her children had left home for college. The press was alerted to the story and followed every move from her arrest to her trial. At the trial, Dr. Palmberg, Musikka’s doctor, convinced the judge that no marijuana for Musikka would be a “life sentence to blindness.”

On August 15, 1988 Musikka was acquitted. Later that same year she was enrolled in an experimental program run by the Federal Government that allows her to fly to Florida annually and pick up a year’s worth of marijuana. She also completes a progress report every year that is never published, because, according to Musikka, the government is driven by the demands of the pharmaceutical, tobacco, alcohol and prison industries which all gain by the “hideous prohibition” of medical marijuana.

Since her acquittal, Musikka has become an activist to help others who are in the same position she was. In September 1988 Francis L Young of the DEA stated that “marijuana in natural form is a benign therapeutic substance.” He also stated that for a government to come between patient and health benefits of medical marijuana is “capricious, unreasonable and arbitrary”—Musikka adds that it is also unconstitutional and immoral. Musikka travels the country speaking with legislators to push for changes in the law regarding medical marijuana. She also speaks at educational functions in order to raise consciousness about this issue.

There are 20 million people in jail for drug possession. There are one million drug related arrests per year. The environment suffers. Elvy Mussika says (citing the source medicalcannibus.com) that our government is “arresting and robbing own citizens.” She also says that it is our own “personal responsibility to end this hideous prohibition.” If we don’t, the consequence will be on us.

May the true spirit of love be your guiding light.-Elvy Musikka

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