Friday, August 25, 2006

Exhaustion as Truth Serum

Some days, I'm just too tired to repress my feelings.

I'm usually someone who speaks my mind, but energy gives me the option to make strategic choices about timing: a different context, fewer distractions, a waiting period to see if an issue turns out to be a serious concern I need to address or a minor annoyance I can let go.

On the days when I'm broken down, though, I have no choice but to answer the questions put to me. Exhaustion as truth serum.

I just made the terrible connection that this is how torture works -- a torturer wears victims down until they have no defenses left and give up the required information. Only...I've been the one torturing myself.

Is our society of constant motion a large-scale example of torture in action? Have we gotten to the point where this pathology seems normal? Millions of people with Stockholm Syndrome, acting as both captor and victim? Are we pushing ourselves with insane work hours, overbooking, heaps of stress, over-the-top multitasking, and the constant need to produce as a way to break ourselves down enough that we have no choice but to tell the truth about our lives?

What would happen if we all took a healthier approach, ensuring we each had enough energy to make real choices about when and how we expressed ourselves? What would American society look like then?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Blog tip

Just wanted to recommend the blog of Julie Dorf, a friend and colleague currently in Jerusalem with one of her daughters for the events surounding World Pride: It's fascinating and moving to read, from the difficult decision to go as planned to their experiences now that they're there. I'm eager to learn more.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Flowers for Lebanon

Bombs in Qana
Scores of small bodies --
One man tallies his losses,
Tears a branch of blooms
To toss at soldiers nearby:
"We will not be made monsters!"

In CNN's report on the aftermath of a bomb in Qana, Lebanon, that killed 56 people (37 of them children), one Lebanese man described what had happened and detailed the family members he had lost. I couldn't hear his voice, but his face clearly conveyed his outrage and grief. His words, unfurling in the captions, pleaded for an end to the violence. Then he had the camera follow him as he ripped a stalk from a nearby flowering plant and threw it in the direction of Israeli soldiers standing several feet away. "They bomb us, and this is how we respond! We will not be made into monsters!"

I couldn't think of anything more necessary to this war: a simple refusal to ignore our common humanity.

I don't profess to be an expert on the Middle East, by any means -- and even experts don't have good answers to these extremely complex problems. Best as I can tell, neither side has had the moral high ground for quite some time.

Perhaps that's why this image from Qana stays with me: it's one man's refusal to let his broken heart also break his soul.