Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My "No" Is Still "No"

Norman Lowry

“We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price.  And because we want peace with half a hear and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature is total—but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial.  So a whole will and a whole heart and a whole national life bent toward war prevail over the velleities of peace.”  —Dan Berrigan

The number one question I’m asked by inmate peers and folks who choose to correspond with me is, “Why, as parole is an available option, do I choose to remain in prison?”  This is a quality question, yet one few seem ready to receive substantive answer to, as my reasoning seldom seems to resonate.  Simply put, I made my choices which brought me to prison as, largely, I found that “conditions worthy of human beings no longer exist” (Arno Gruen), within our society.  In the main, our society embraces things violent.  To me, this is inhuman, and I’m on a path to utterly eradicate all violence, racism, bigotry and poverty-production from my life  If I were to accept parole, I would be reaffirming the very injustices to which I said “no.”

One need look no further than THE NUCLEAR RESISTER listing of long-term incarcerated folks to see extreme evidence of injustice and inequity.  Mr. Peltier was wrongly arrested, when I was in college.  Here we are forty years down the line and government sources admit to his illicit treatment yet we let him sit in prison.  Mr. Dhafir was scapegoated for loving folks in his homeland and we let him sit in prison.  Mr. Chase was set up by so-called law enforcement agencies and we let him sit in prison.  Miss Manning blew the whistle on the military’s clandestined surveilling and warmaking, and we let her sit in prison.  I cut ties with state-registered religion; renounced my U.S. citizenship; declared a perpetual state of nonviolent war on America’s beloved violence, racism, bigotry and poverty-production/ and purposefully assaulted one of America’s sacr ed military properties (three times), and I’m free to take parole—at any time I simply choose to do so.  There’s something really wrong with the disparity between the cases and outcomes of our first four precious ones and mine.

The saddest part of our society’s quietus is the silence that overwhelmingly exists, regarding folks purposefully oppressed, both within and without, by our society.  Mr. Peltier, Mr. Dhafir, Mr. Chase, and Miss Manning—moreso than I—are being subjected to horrendously inhuman abuses, as well as being majorly
deprived of even the most basic of human and civil rights.  And we all but totally put them out of our thoughts, so we don’t have to think about or see our self-created and self-defeating travesties. 

Over the course of my nearly 64 years of life, I’ve gone from being complacently ignorant, to diligently searching public record for actual truth (vs. the lies we’re largely told by media, politicians and religious folks), to investing the last 1/3+ of my life working with and living among folks our society (especially church and state) largely throw away (homeless, poor, black folks, Hispanics, Native Americans, immigrants, gay and transgender folks, distraught veterans, addicts/alcoholics, prostitutes, deformed folks, gangs, etc.).  Today, and for 7+ years now, I’ve been investing my time with america’s throwaway inmates.  I love them and I want them, and I will never thrown them (or anyone else) away!  

My top ten reasons for being utterly content living with my precious ones, here in hell (and what brought me to choose to be here—all of which have occurred in my lifetime), are:

1.  U.S. detonations of 1000+ nuclear devices, mostly on Native American tribal lands and Marshall Island atolls.

2. U.S.-waged wars against 15k0+ sovereign nations (14+ since 9/11/01, 8+ since 2008), few of which folks can name or cite reason for.  70%+ of the U.S. budget (directly or indirectly) is spent on military, warmaking and surveilling (both domestic and foreign).  My birth religion (among the many others) condemned so-labeled “fundamentalist Islam” for asking their adherents to fight the U.S. Military, yet asked us to fight, whenever and wherever the U.S. asked us to fight.

3.  U.S. nullification of most (if not all) Native American treaties.

4.  U.S. Constitution still states that Black people are only 60% human. 

5.  U.S. bigotry against minorities (especially of color), women, gay and transgender folks, immigrants, and religion is the world’s highest.

6.  U.S. Prisons house 25%+ of the world’s domestic inmates, in systems that operate in opposition to actual demographics of crime and that highly favor incarceration of minorities (my prison is 60-70% blak).  U.S. immigration prisons house many children, including babies.

7.  Most citizens of U.S.-held territories are legally considered to be “property won in war.”

8.  U.S. support for the overwhelming number of travesties--as Gaza and Guantanamo…

9.  The U.S. Central Bank (the Federal Reserve, a privately held maritime lender, formed in 1913) bankrupted the U.S. government in 1953, yet remains the sole receiver of the as yet unresolved bankruptcy, now in its 83rd year.

10.  U. S. lies about leading the war in stopping climate change. 

My time in prison is scheduled to end August 1, 2018  If I see that day, I will walk away, take a short time of respite, walk around the country visiting precious ones, then walk forward into my next adventure of seeking to love folks who are unwanted and unloved.  

Between now and then my only aim is to love best my precious ones here, both inmate and staff, and to ponder such wisdom as the balance of Dan Berrigan’s words—“But what of the price of peace?  I think of the good, decent, peace-loving people I have known by the thousands, and I wonder  How many of them are so afflicted with the wasting disease of normalcy that, even as they declare for the peace, their hands reach out with an instinctive spasm in the direction of their loved ones, in the direction of their comforts, their home, their security, their income, their future, their plans—that five-year plan of studies, that ten-year plan of professional status, that twenty-year plan of family growth and unity, that fifty-year plan of decent life and honorable natural demise.  ‘Of course, let us have the peace,’ we cry, ‘but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties.’  And because we must encompass this and protect that and because at all costs--at all costs—our hopes must march on schedule, and because it is unheard of that good men should suffer injustice or families be sundered or good repute be lost—because of this we cry peace and cry peace, and there is no peace.  there is no peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war—at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.”

As I write, the U.S. is dropping $17.5 million worth of bombs on Syria…every day.  U.S. leaders say we’re helping the Syrians.  If someone dropped $17.5 million worth of bombs on the U.S….every day, would they be helping Americans? 

As I write, armed government agencies are removing Leonard Peltier’s people and supporters from sovereign Sioux lands, at Standing Rock, Sd.  It seems the U.S. is helping these lovely ones, by stealing their land to build a privately held pipeline across their land and the life-giving river that crosses their land.  How close to our homes do these things have to get before we engage?

I love you and I’m all in,,,

Thursday, September 15, 2016

FREEDOM Short Essay 1 of 4

by Norman Lowry

Our world cannot survive without a sense of meaning, in particular one that will lead us to the depths of love.  —Unknown

Freedom is the highest of my basic needs.  I need freedom more than  I need to breathe or to survive.  Where most seem to see freedom as being a prize at the end of some great and often violent struggle, I see freedom as being the end of life’s greatest struggle: it is wonder with God, humanity and creation, based in absolute nonviolence; an actual state of being untangled from violence. 

Our world is bathed in violence.  If we’re honest, mostly we’ve lived by the belief that, as great evil violence exists, great righteous violence is necessary to overcome it.  I mean, someone has to protect us from predators and terrorists, right?  And so we choose violence as our method.

Violence surely exists, and we tell ourselves that violence offends our sense of public morality.  Yet how can this be?  What morality, or what kind of morality, is really being offended?   Maybe if we were concerned about actual harm done (to both the offended and the offender), we would have cause to believe that our choice of violence has anything to do with morality.  Yet there are few for whom this seems to be the case.

Mostly when violence occurs we think of ourselves, as if our peace of mind were most important.  We cry to change laws, asking others to give up their rights, that we might feel safer.  We cry for the perceived offender to be stripped of rights and even of life itself, for the sake of our peace of  mind. This is not an issue of morality, but of structure, and there is a vast difference.

By definition, morality implies virtue, according to principles of right and wrong.  Structure regards the components of our lives and the manner in which they are arranged.  If our concern were morality, violence would never be our option—even if and when a really bad person uses violence on or against us.  But because we have convinced ourselves that violence is a necessary tool with which to thwart violence inflicted on us, we keep it in our toolbox, along with its ever-expanding arsenal of weaponry.  Thus, violence is a chosen component of the very structure of our lives.  

Two great and parallel societal problems regarding how we view and deal with violence lie in our religious and nationalistic dogma.  Overwhelmingly, we seem to believe what some venerated expert tells us to believe.  The stuff in my chosen religious book, the Bible, is way to weird, wonderful and important to allow some expert to tell me what it means, without me also doing my own homework.  The same goes for what I believe about America.  The God I know, love and serve (out of mutually-shared intimacy) is absolutely nonviolent—has never been violent, will never be violent, and has never asked or commanded anyone to be or do anything violent.  America’s violences have never set anyone free and have never kept anyone free, period!  Simply put, we do not employ or cosign violence until we have  sacrificed our morality; our very humanity.  

The nature of freedom, as a state of being untangled from violence, is simple: First, it is uncomplicated: as violence equals unforgiveness, nonviolence equals forgiveness.  Second, it is unconfused: not a mixture of judgmentalism, fear and hostility, but all about intimacy in human relationships.  Third, it is unbound:  all entanglements in contention, discrimination and violence become nonexistent.  

Freedom for me is wonder with God, humanity and creation, based in absolute nonviolence; an actual state of being untangled from violence.  


CHOICES Short Essay 2 of 4

by Norm Lowry

Will what I am choosing draw me closer to or push me further from the people I need? — William Glasser

Largely, our society exists by imposing its will on others via external control psychology, a belief that the superior individual or leadership body can impose its will on another.  The fault in its nature is that no one can be forced to submit, even under threat or torture, unless they choose to do so.

My life exists by imposing my will on no one, as I choose to direct my life via internal control psychology, a belief that only and needfully accepts that I, alone, can directly control allthink and do and indirectly control all my feelings and physiology.  Thus, my life is lived according to my choices and sense of personal responsibility.

In order to accept and achieve healthy and mature balance in taking responsibility for our choices, we must consider both urgency and rewardsUrgency by definition regards “impelling force, influence and /or impulse” and makes way for choices “demanding immediate attention.”  Likewise, rewards regard “yielding of benefits or a sense of satisfaction” (Webster’s).  To give proper weight to my choices, I daily engage in self-evaluation, by asking myself: (1) What did I choose to do?, (2) What was I thinking?, (3) How did my choice affect me?, (4) What effect did my choice have on others?, (5) Did my choice draw me closer to or push me further from the people I need?, and (6) What changes, if any, am I willing to make?

Because I know who I am at a deep level, my choice making is a matter I take most seriously.  My choices are based in my purposefully quantified and time-tested list of my life’s basic needs.  Overarching them all is my life’s basis—my need for, and intimacy with, our Creator—a real person I’ve known for 57+ of my 63 years.  From 1-5 and rated on a scale of 1-10, my basic needs are:  1) Freedom (10)—All about wonder with God, humanity and creation, based in absolute nonviolence—an actual state of being untangled from violence, 2) Love and belonging (9)—all about deep communion; intimacy in community, 3) Fun (9)— Most highly about learning and teaching though there are lesser funs, 4) Power and control (8)—All about servanthood, 5) Survival (7)—Relative, as its importance lies in actual and honest thriving.  

Also because I know who I am at a deep level, I’m living my best life, today!  I’m at peace, content and reasonably happy.  In six months, I’ll be 64.  Both 64 and 65 are scheduled to occur like my last seven birthdays, in prison.  But don’t cry for me.  Out of a sense of grave urgency, I made some nonviolent choices to live out my faith, by standing in the way of our society’s extreme love of violence, racism, bigotry and poverty-production.  My rewards—I have a clean conscience and I get to love 2000+ of the most wonderful, yet irregular people our society and its churches ever tried to throw away.  I throw no one away!  I love them, warts and all.  This is my choice….

Note:  The essence of the contrast between “external” and “internal” control psychology is derived from Dr. William Glasser’s “choice therapy/reality therapy,” my chosen counseling theory and practicum.  


LOVE Short Essay 3 of 4

LOVE: “Making it Easier for People to be Good”
by Norm Lowry

Most of us need to have the status quo shaken now and then, leaving us off balance and askew, feeling alienated for a while from our usual unquestioned loyalties.  In this uncomfortable space, we can finally recognize the much larger kingdom of God….This pattern of temporary falling apart precedes every transition to a new level of faith, hope and love.  If one is not prepared to live in temporary chaos and hold the necessary anxiety that chaos entails one never moves into a bigger world. —Richard Rohr

In our society we talk a lot about love.  Most of us think about love in terms of power; as “the capacity or ability to accomplish something” (Webster’s).  We want to get.  We want to be forceful and effective in our capacity to change things to make life work in our favor.  We want to be satisfied and fulfilled in love.  We think these things and desire for them to be true, yet demographically, our society is one of the world’s least satisfied and happy.  So what’s at issue?  The answer is simple, though not necessarily easy.  Love is certainly about power, also a basic need.  But is love power to get or power to give?

To me, love is about power as servanthood.  It’s about giving with no attachment to getting.  It’s about force as a self-giving energy and effectiveness as an cooperative stance weighted on behalf of others.  It’s about believing as we did as children, before we were disappointed or wounded, that self-giving love “is the secret of the past of all life, the sina qua non, and our survival as a race depends on learning that is the secret of our future” (John Stoner).  Simply put, love is about “making it easier for people to be good.”

From the Bible’s Jesus, I’ve learned my life’s greatest lessons about love.  My top three love lessons are from Matthew 5 (THE MESSAGE).

First, live and love “at the end of your rope.”  The love we’re all looking for is only  to be found at the end of ourselves.  Think of all the relationships you’ve had.  The ones we remember most are the ones that cost us most.  Jesus reminds us of the blessings of this costly love, “with less of you there is more of God and his rule.” 

Second, live and love “content with just who you are—no more, no less.”  The love we’re all looking for is filled with simple humility, as modeled by birds and wildflowers.  Birds trust for provision and wildflowers’ inherent beauty flows from a loving parent-God who sees to all the birds and flowers, most of whom no human eyes will ever see.  Jesus reminds us of the blessings of this humble love that exists only in “the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought or sold.”

Third, live and love to “get your inside world—your mind heart—put right.”  The love we’re all looking for is embedded in deeply sound tradition.  It doesn’t purpose violence.  It doesn’t take undue advantage.  It loves its enemies.  It thinks the best even of the worst.  It grows up.  Jesus reminds us of the blessings of this bright love that will “see God in the outside world.”

I Corinthians 14:1 (THE MESSAGE)  says, “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.”  This is how we learn to live so deeply that we thrive only in “making it easier for people to be good” (Dorothy Day).


JESUS Short Essay 4 of 4

by Norm Lowry

We are actually free to choose the way of love which Jesus has shown us.— John Stoner

Last evening while sitting in my prison dayroom thinking about how to best write about Jesus, a fellow inmate, Derrick, came and said, “Hey Norm, thanks for writing a letter to me.  What’s it say?

“Dear Derrick, I love you!  You’re a free man!  What are you going to do with your freedom?”

“Derrick laughed nervously.  I had just broken a couple of sacred rules:  Never say “I love you” to another inmate and never talk about freedom to a man not scheduled for near release.  Derrick smiled and said, “You’re weird, Norm,” and walked away.  

At first glance, most folks don’t much care for the Jesus I know and love.  He didn’t come to cosign any existing religion or to start a new one.  Nor did he come to placate any governance other than that of his nonviolent dad, our Creator.  Saying “No” to church and state, for the sake of God’s nonviolent love, got Jesus arrested and executed, as a traitor to both church and state.

The nonviolence of Jesus is quite obvious in the Bible’s New Testament. His call to love both neighbor and enemy was a call to defeat evil with the greater power of love.    But  most folks start getting nervous when it comes to comparing the nonviolent Son to his supposedly violent Creator-God Dad, in the Old Testament.  In Bible college, my venerated professors said this was due to the “dispensational” (changing) nature of our supposedly unchangeable God.  This pretty much sounded like a large crock of “skubula” (Greek, for crap), to me.  People change but the God and Jesus I intimately know never change.  

Beside going to Bible college, I’ve read the Bible in just about every English translation there is (many of them multiple times), and I’ve read 12-1500 supporting God books.  In spite of the opinions of all the respected church leaders and writers, I still see the Bible in terms of the nonviolent God of love creating all things and calling them all good.  Along the way, the humans decided to reclassify all these good things, according to good and bad—a conundrum not of God’s doing.  Their resulting confusion resulted in good desire becoming rivalry—becoming violence—becoming murder; a complete platform from which to challenge our nonviolent Creator-God (or so they thought).

Well, the humans took charge of the dialog and soon had God changing his mind and calling good, bad. Now there were just too many bad humans.  So God had to repent and destroy the world (except for a few marginally good humans and animals), and the humans had God right where they wanted him (or did they?)  The dialog continued and illicit religion joined with illicit state, for the purpose of dominating humanity, in the name of an illicit and violent God.  Enter Jesus….

Jesus lovingly kept the dialog straight and held the preachers, teachers and his own followers to the same nonviolent standard of love.  When they spoke truth, Jesus called them godly.  When they slanted the truth in their favor or lied, Jesus called them “snakes,” reptilian  sneaks,” and ‘devils” (THE MESSAGE).  

That Jesus’ Dad was God and his mom was human has become a never-ending discussion of godness vs. humanity.  But to what end?  Jesus referred to the prophets who taught that “the human one [Jesus] is the son of God precisely because he is the son of man made in the image of God, and is thus not different from God but like God” (John Stoner).  This is pivotal yet largely despised by preachers and teachers of both his and our day, as it affirmed the godness of all people and nullified all lists of exclusions.  Jesus took away the illicit church’s and state’s ability to control and/or manipulate others, save by escalating violence, which was by some strange dynamic—the grim result of rejecting Jesus’ way of nonviolence— set loose to rampage by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Yet compassion, the gift of our nonviolent Creator-God, was also released to escalate by Jesus’ death and resurrection.  And, as taught by Jesus, nonviolent love will prevail against violence, with its lack of love.  Jesus’ kingdom is emerging through nonviolent transformation, as opposed to the illicit church’s lie of evil violence being disposed of by righteous violence.

Does our society ever persecute Jesus’s followers for their nonviolent love?  Come and visit me some day and we can discuss the why of my imprisonment.  “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Prayer for Tenderness

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A Prayer for Tenderness
by Norm Lowry
November, 2015

"It is those who have never accepted life's realities who always think there is an escape.  That's why, for example, many people believe in building bomb shelters.  It does not occur to them that life might not be worth living if conditions for a life worthy of human beings no longer exist."  --Arno Gruen

Ours is a culture of purposeful violence, whose powerful demand compliance, which societally equates with responsibility.  All who choose to be unsubmissive are deemed to be irresponsible and thus subject to sanction, ostracization, and imprisonment.   The problem with this is that our culture of violence is based on lies.  So to be in bed with the powerful in any way, shape, or form entails cosigning the lies, whether one is aware of them or not. 

For those of us who choose prison over gross submission to the lies, living with death, which comes in many forms, is our daily lot.  Two days ago, a close peer died from a severe cancer, exacerbated by poor health care and nutrition.  A coupled days before this, a peer died of a heroin overdose, enigmatic due to the poor grad and dosage generally sold.  A few days prior, a peer confessed to contemplating suicide rather than to face being stabbed by those extorting him, who had already raped him as a preemptive strike.

So along comes a letter from a friend who says, "I'm praying that you will maintain your tenderness…"  You've got to love a precious friend like this!  Here is one who gets it, who understands what it takes to make life work in our hardest moments.  Tenderness; being kind and gentle, is the only solvent which can penetrate the admixture of the submissiveness to violence all around us, whether in your prison or mine. 

In 1957 I saw black people burned in fires and hung from lampposts.  While adults salivated, we children knew this was not supposed to be.  

In 1960, after observing numerous atomic bomb tests, we would hunker beneath our school desks, to practice being "safe" from imminent nuclear attack.  Again, while adults salivated at the thought of besting some contrived enemy in a death match, we children nervously shook our heads at the utter absurdity of those whose place it was to teach us dignity and integrity.  

In 1965 my first friend died in Vietnam.  Danny was 18.  I was 12.  The adults told us it was for the greater good.  We children heard it as a question.

In 1991 I "won" my first lottery.  The adults said I was one of them now and that going to war was an honor.  With tears in his eyes, my did laid his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes, the went off to get drunk.  I sat, confused.  I couldn't get drunk at my age.  I'd never had sex.  But I could go to war.  I gave up desiring to be the typical adult that day.

I did enter the military but I did not go to war.  I resigned after being told we could rape Vietnamese women if we thought they were beautiful, as long as we killed them when we were through with them.  My supposed superiors were baffled that I could not see the normalcy of such behavior.  To them, since war was necessary, they had to offer young men something to make war worth their while--all the sex, drugs, alcohol and murder their hearts so desired.  The trouble was, I wanted none of those things, not even the sex if it was outside of loving, affirming relationship.

The whole scope of violence is predicated on one individual or group inflicting suffering on another or others, in hopes of avoiding suffering themselves.  This is insanity, of course, yet we continue to make it a sanity, or so we believe.

So here I am 45 years down the line, fast-forwarded from 18 to nearly 63.  It's actually been quite an adventure.  While our culture has severely degraded, as far as destructiveness and inhumanity is concerned, many of us have escaped by reassuming our birthright to actual, as opposed to blindly obedient, humanity.  For this, some of us sit in prison and many in graveyards, both far better options than our old, chosen alternative of merely going along. 

Today, overwhelmingly due to the United States, we sit on the edge of a monstrous precipice.  The U.S. Constitution still says that Blacks are only 60% human.  The U.S. nuclear threat is greater than ever, as the U.S. arsenal contains more nukes than most, if not all, other societies combined,  The U.S. war threat is the greatest threat of war on earth, buoyed by the 100+ wars and interventions waged in my lifetime.  Our fragile earth is telling us it cannot much longer sustain our abuses.  The U.S. and its allies (partners in crime?) are publicly hinting at the need for a one world government.  Even the Pope, on his recent visit, stated that we need one world, United Nations, governance--eek!

So what of tenderness  The answer lies in the nature of tenderness, itself.  There can be no genuine or expansive tenderness in violence, for the violent seek to crush tenderness, seeing it to be a weakness.   How else can the rich and powerful hold exclusive reign over "the initiation of wars, the destruction of livelihood, and the poisoning of nature and of other human beings," while excluding themselves, largely, from imprisonment?  "Official statistics on criminality include more poor people than rich because those statistics reflect the ideology of the rich and powerful and do not include all forms of destructiveness."  (Arno Gruen).  Tenderness thrives on nonviolence   The more one commits to a life of nonviolence, the more tender one can become. True nonviolence must be embraced and espoused.  It cannot be imitated for long.  To me, nonviolence is the essence of our Creator, as it stems only from love.  And from love flows tenderness, as gentleness and kindness.

Through the years, I've caught a lot of flak for believing our Creator to be absolutely nonviolent.  Yet since the so-called "ten commandments" are said to be first a reflection of our Creator's essence, each statement would necessarily read more like "I don't murder so you don't murder."  Thus, our creator could not have been the god who told "the faithful" to murder those who did not believe as they.  Sure, some god told the people this.  In fact, the dominant empires of the day had 8-900+ violent gods who would have perpetuated such a ruse.  

Also through the years, I've caught no small amount of flak for my stances of opposition to the American traditions of colonialism, violence, racism, bigotry, poverty-production…injustice.  That I absolutely hated these driving traditions enough to renounce my association with government-registered religion and my U.S. citizenship disturbs most people, who consider these moves to be un-American.  If it is un-American to hate tyranny and love truth, then I'm un-American.  But I ask you, "Is it un-American to love all people boundlessly and indiscriminately, enough so to be willing to model another way of running the world:  absolute nonviolence, even if it costs my life and my all?"

So the most glaring and applicable question remains--do conditions for a life worthy of human beings still exist in the culture in which we live; for me, the United States of America?

What does tenderness say?

Thursday, June 25, 2015



by Norm Lowry

We live in a culture gone mad, a society so disjointed that we have forgotten both who we and those around us really are.  We have given up our health--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually--and our ability to heal ourselves and others, all for a distorted sense of power that only destroys.  Few of us seem to be able to claim any happiness at all, only misery, which we blame on someone or something else.  And if asked for the name or names of those with whom we have genuinely satisfying relationships, few if any can honestly provide one name.

So what do we generally do?   We tend to buy into society's love of mental illness; a state where circumstances are fully beyond our control; a state where we can play the victim; a state where we can take medication that will make our pain go away.  But does our pain genuinely go away or do we simply transport ourselves into a state where we can get out of dealing with our reality for yet another moment or two…?

My life has been no different than the many others who have suffered horrendous abuses, tortures, and tragedies.  I've found my obsessions, compulsions, and hatreds with which to build massive walls to keep myself presumably safe.  I've found myself meaningfully classified and diagnosed, professionally, and, I've taken my poisons which raised my seratonin level so I could feel better, for my token moment or two.  Yet where did it all get me?  It left me alone, firmly entrenched behind self-built walls that shut out all meaningful interaction.

One day, while literally depressed out of my mind, I went to see a movie.  I found that while I was watching the movie, my depression was nonexistent.  When the movie was over and I set foot outside, I found that my depression was right there waiting for me.  So I went back inside and watched another movie, another three or four movies to be truthful.  It didn't take extreme brilliance to realize that my thoughts and choices of the day were altering both my feelings and physiology.  I was choosing to depress, then choosing to stop depressing, when I found a more effective way to engage life.   My old, self-protective paradigm was faulty and had become useless to me.  So I went in search of a new paradigm.

That day, at the movie theater, my insanity was exposed for what it really was:  a massive lie that was literally sucking quality life right out of me and, it was my chosen lie.  There  may genuinely be such a thing as mental illness, if there's a genuine pathology that can be found to physically prove it.   And surely medications are at times needed, as they seem to lessen the anxiety of those turning certain emotional corners.  But I was past this basic need.  What I found has completely changed my life.

I found a teacher who taught me six things:

1.  Life can only deeply be engaged by the one willing to accept complete responsibility for all personal behavior.
2.  As neither the past nor what occurred in the past can limit me, only working in the present and toward the future can effectively aid my personal growth.
3.  Relating as ourselves is always fruitful, relating as "transference figures" is never fruitful.
4.  Personal growth is never to be found in excusing behaviors on the basis of unconscious motivations.
5.  The morality of behavior--the distinguishing between right and wrong solidifies the investment in personal growth. 
6.  The more satisfactory our patterns of behavior, the more and better we fulfill our basic needs.  (William Glasser)

Today I no longer live by trying to deny the real world.  I do not try to fulfill my needs as if some aspect of my world does not exist.  I do not live in defiance of the existence of actual problems.  Today, I live to be involved with and to engage people, all people.  I look for quality, satisfying relationships in which I ask others to be real with me, as I am real with them.  I seek to change only me, as it is absurd to think that I can change another, anyway.  I correct myself when wrong and credit myself when right.

In being healed, I am becoming a healer….