Tagged with " human rights"

Working the Beads

I bought my mala beads almost ten years ago, in a huge bead store in Mountain View, CA. To be perfectly honest, I liked the way they looked in people’s hands. I wanted to try to cultivate that practice, in hopes that they would bring me some of the peace and acceptance I saw reflected in the aspect of those who wore them. I had just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and I was locked in the first of many struggles for respect and funding with my university department. I desperately needed peace and acceptance.

The beads, at least, were only $1.99.

I’ve worn them on and off over the years, but I never really picked up the habit of using them as a spiritual focus. Maybe it’s because I’m not much of a mantra girl (note to self: awesome new superhero name). I can’t settle on just one idea and focus on it for very long — I’m the Queen of Lateral Thinking (2nd note to self: awesome new Nobilis character).

But my stomach had been tying itself in knots for days over the impending Troy Davis execution, and by the time I left work yesterday afternoon, I was well and truly sickened in heart and belly, on top of the upper respiratory thing that already had me at a disadvantage for air and sleep. So, desperately needing peace and acceptance, I fished my mala beads from the depths of my jewelry box with 75 minutes left before the scheduled time of death.

And, while I believe as an article of my faith that the focused will can change the unfolding of the universe, neither my will nor that of the hundreds of thousands watching and waiting last night stopped the killing of Troy Davis. This can’t be a hopeful, new-world story like the Repeal Day one, and in 12 minutes, I’m going to have to wake Connor and tell him that all the hope and doubt and logic and justice didn’t save a man’s life. I’m afraid of what little piece of him will disappear forever with those words.

But I learned something about the practice of the beads as they clicked through my fingers steadily for over five hours last night. I didn’t stick to just one thought that whole time; in fact, it was the evolution of my focus that tells the story of the night better than any news report can.

When I first lit a candle and picked them up, I started whispering, “May you find peace,” and again, in the spirit of total honesty, I probably didn’t just mean Troy Davis. I meant the crowding protesters in Jackson GA and Washington DC and London. I even meant, judgmentally, the parole board that had voted 3-2 the day before to deny clemency, and the GA Supreme Court that had refused a stay of execution. But mostly, I meant my own roiling stomach and twisted heart.

At 15 minutes to 7.00pm Eastern, tears started falling, and I asked Griffin to come sit with me and snuggle. He knows when I need comfort, and he’s more at ease sitting with my grief without trying to fix it than I often am, so he just nestled into my side and started to play with the beads too. He asked what I was saying, and at that point, I realized the words had changed. Now it was simply, “I wish you peace,” and I was trying to speak directly to Troy. Griffin liked those words, and he liked the slide of the beads, so I held the string’s tension and we went back and forth, each saying the tiny prayer for a little while, as we waited for the news to tell us that a man was dead.

But the news didn’t come, and the TV networks faltered — those that were covering it, shamefully few — and so the click of my mouse on Twitter joined the click of the beads in my other hand as I waited for news. And the words changed again as the first messages of the delay came through: “Please stop this.” As it became apparent the US Supreme Court was considering a stay, they changed again: “You can stop this.”

They didn’t. Not couldn’t — didn’t. And the process reversed itself. I wished Troy Davis peace as the tears rolled down, until they announced his death. And I whispered, “May you find peace” as the media witnesses spoke and the analysis began and the verb tenses changed.

But my object had changed. I was wishing peace to the families, to the guards, to the lawyers, to the activists, to the witnesses.

I was wishing peace to those who had waited, those who had held their breath, those who had hoped for the hope and justice that our system almost never delivers.

I was wishing peace to those whose hearts hunger for something so deep and unnameable that they think the death of another human would quench it.

I was wishing peace for those who would sleep and get up and fight on, and those who would not find sleep that night, in the shadow of too much doubt.

On the Morning of The Repeal

When my sons leave the house in the morning, I don’t tell them to keep their schoolyard crushes for little girls. Their bus driver doesn’t ask them who they’ll marry when they grow up.

When the kids get to school, they don’t ask their teachers who waits for them at the end of a long day filling their heads with knowledge and wisdom. The lunchroom monitors don’t tell the children that heterosexuality is as healthy as the salad bar.

The parents who line up with strollers and siblings, with minivans and dinner plans, want to be told what their children learned that day, not that they are only attracted to the opposite sex. They want their children to learn to hang up their coats, not that there’s such a thing as an incorrect place to hang your heart. They dig deep to find reserves of patience and energy for their beloved families. They don’t have any left to waste on telling someone else that their family is any less beloved.

The sky didn’t ask before it let down the rain in the pre-dawn grey, nor did it tell us that the sun would shine warmly by mid-morning. The geese didn’t ask one another before beginning their long journey south; they do not tell us where their stops and starts will be.

I did not ask to be born in this country, or in this body, or to my parents, but I have told my basic identity freely, without fear, my whole life. The times I’ve had to hide, to keep some piece of myself secret, to “pass,” I’ve been able to without killing myself from the inside. And when I fell in love, though the barriers were high and deep and every other physical measurement for which there exists a metric, my country and my insurance and my job added no obstacles, passed no judgment on my choice. When I say who I am and what I want to do with my life, my patriotism, capability, or the disposition of my soul have never been questioned.

And today, on the morning of the repeal, when all but one thing hasn’t changed at all, may these things be true for more of the bravest and most honorable of my fellow Americans.

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