24 January 2009

Blowing a Gasket -- Yep. Me.

I had a very interesting experience recently, in which I blew my stack, seemingly out of nowhere, but not really...

In order to talk about it, I'm afraid I have to 'out' myself politically, but I doubt that my politics will really surprise anyone.

I voted for Obama, with tears running down my face all the way from my car into the polling place, through the line, into the booth, out again, and all the way back to my car. I wept and wept, silently and constantly, at the mere possibility that he might win. With my mind on Nelson Mandela and Steven Biko, and Emmett Till, and Barbara Jordan, and Shirley Chisholm, and George Russell, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Rev. Dr. MLK, and Ann Richards, and Molly Ivins, and on and on.

It was crowded in that voting booth, but surprisingly comforting.

Given the usual tenor of politics in this country [I've lived overseas, and no, it's not the same everywhere] I hardly dared to hope that the man would keep his promises, but there was a quiet little pilot light flickering away, all the same.

Then, on his first day in office, he signed an executive order putting an end to this nation's use of torture. And another one setting a one year time limit to close the Guantanamo Bay offshore dungeons...

... and that little pilot light has been getting braver and brighter with every news story, every speech.

Then, later this week, I stumbled across a discussion of those executive orders. Among people of faith, supposedly. And I saw grown up U.S. citizens, people who have drivers' licenses [and get to vote and everything!] acting as though our right to torture people into giving forced confessions, then incarcerate them indefinitely as public menaces because of those confessions extorted under torture, was somehow defensible, somehow debatable. As long as they were furriners, preferably of the Islamic persuasion.

Now a brief digression. If anyone reading this is old enough to remember the movie "Airplane", Lloyd Bridges had an extremely funny role as an overwhelmed air traffic controller who decompensated at an exponential rate throughout the movie. Starting off by saying he'd picked the wrong week to give up coffee... then cigarettes... then scotch... and ultimately delivering the funniest punchline of the entire movie, IMO, before falling flat on his face.

Wow. Now I know exactly how that character really felt - except I didn't do it in stages. I went over the falls in one swell foop. Not only did I fall flat on my face, I bounced.

That little pilot light suddenly turned into a flamethrower.

I rendered up a diatribe that would probably earn honorable mention in an Irish Cursing competition, but shed far too much heat and very little light, and managed to insult most of the known universe on top of it. Starting with the fact that violating Habeas Corpus doesn't merely go against our Constitution, it goes all the way back to the Magna Carta... ending with the fact that there is an International Court of Justice in the Hague, which would have been the place to adjudicate any international cases of suspected terrorism, except that we sneered at it and rejected its jurisdiction so that we could invade a country that was never any threat to us and had nothing to do with 9/11.

The facts alone would have been fine, but I also insisted that anyone who actually believes that confessions obtained under torture have any validity at all is a moral idiot with less brains than an amoeba...

... not quite in those words, but pretty damn close. With several inventive variations on that theme.


The strange part of all this is that I do, of course, believe that way, on one level. Deep in the heart of me, I truly believe that people who think what we did in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay was justified, who think that the horrendous number of civilian casualties in Iraq are just 'part of the cost of doing business', are exactly the kind of people this blog exists to 'out'.

That there's no difference at all, none whatsoever, morally, between
an abuser in your family using a double standard to punish you for requesting from them, once, what they demand from you, day in, day out, 24/7/365, and

an entire nation using a double standard, with lies, smoke, and mirrors, to justify destroying Mesopotamia.
But dang. There I was, rebuking away like an Old Testament prophet, hair on end and smoke curling out of my ears [Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah! What do you mean I'm just making it worse? How can I MAKE it any worse?]

and ya know what?

In behaving that way, I became indistinguishable from those I rebuked.

To quote Charles M. Schulz,


***facepalm*** ***facepalm*** ***headdesk*** ***headdesk***

Lessons of the War:
[1] given the right mix of circumstances, anyone can blow their stack, even those who really should know better and have been trying to know better for years now;
[2] it really is counterproductive to return evil for evil;
[3] sometimes talent is a two-edged sword (it was a truly outstanding diatribe).
[4] affect is not necessarily your friend.
[5] Stormchild needs to stay away from minefields until she learns to keep her dern trap shut, even under extreme provocation, and
[6] when * you * make * a * mess, * it's **YOUR** responsibility * to * clean * it * up. [In this case, my responsibility].

This little humbling episode will probably be good for my soul, ultimately, but it bothers me greatly that I almost certainly did my 'cause' far more harm than good.

And yeah, I went back and admitted to God, everyone there, and myself that I had behaved exactly like a troll.

Because I had.

***facepalm*** ***facepalm*** ***headdesk*** ***headdesk***

Stormchild, over and out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot one lesson didnt you, abuse is contaigous.

If you admit your behaivor was wrong and appologize, as long as you mean it youre working your program.

I wouldnt go back there. I dont thing its good for you.

24 January, 2009 21:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here's me thinking you woz perfect ;)

25 January, 2009 00:30  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Anonymous, you are so right.

Abusiveness is definitely an infection people catch from each other.

Keeping short books and making amends ASAP is good Program [but woo-ee, it didn't feel good at the time].

And no, I won't go back there.

It's not a nice place.

It brought something out of me that was definitely not nice. I probably needed to see that happen, so I can take responsibility for it, work on it, and try to make peace with my Shadow.

But I don't want to see it happen again any time soon if I can help it.

Meg: if it's possible to ROFLMAO while still feeling somewhat ashamed of myself, I'm doing it... :-P ... thanks for that perspective... it helps.

25 January, 2009 01:17  
Blogger CZBZ said...

Whoah...we have the same 'moral' sensitivity but I sure can't write it out the way you do. Thanks for this entry, Stormchild. I may be slow to anger, but when my ire lights a fire, the whole barn goes up in smoke. You bless me with clarity. Like Lighthouse.

I can’t offer advice on emotional containment since that’s an area that continues to challenge me, but I can certainly offer my sympathy. It’s very difficult to adhere to the same philosophy as other people and yet, separate our selves as individuals. My desire to maintain extended connections despite irreconcilable differences requires taking responsibility for my over-the-top reactions to their stupidity and pig-headed arrogaNce. Not that I'd stoop so low as to be judgmental or anything.

Let me speak to a recent get-together in honor of my birthday.

One of the gifts I was given by a dear-heart, who loves her Mom, was a special edition of the New York Times with OBAMA written on the headline. When some of the people sitting at my birthday table saw the headline, snide remarks a’la Limbaugh were made about our President. A presidential status they insisted be honored, as long as he was republican, white and rich that is. (pay close attention to the pronoun ‘he’).

You can only imagine my reaction…well, not my reaction I’m pleased to say, but the way I FELT. My heart started racing, my feet were in spring-mode, my claws were dragging the carpet and gut-billowing smoke rushed towards the nearest exit: ears, nose, and teeth-clenched mouth. With this much energy racing through my body, it’s a miracle the table setting didn’t ignite.

My response was quick because rather than allowing the discussion to regress to an idiotic repartee, I nipped it in the bud with humor, and successful established a boundary others could respect or choose not to respect. It’s not okay to ‘mess with my Obama’.

Now I realized they were likely dismissing me as an Idealist, but voting for Ralph Nadar was my preparatory course in NOT practicing what I preach. This time in the political arena, I’m maintaining my dignity and helping other folks maintain their dignity, too.

I’m learning to embrace my anger as a warning that an important principle is being challenged. In this particular situation, it was the double standard/hypocrisy, just as you’ve pointed out (and thank you for that). I may not be able to articulate WHY my anger was so harsh and swift until the day-after-the-fire, but I’m making progress.

That double-standard you’ve defined? Well, it smacks of narcissism to such a degree, as to make an ‘informed’ woman consider handing out Kernberg dissertations as party favors!



31 January, 2009 16:41  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Wow CZ

From 'Roman with her eyes on fire' [cf. the Josie post, above, you definitely fit the bill, and this is a compliment] to humor in 0.5 seconds?

This is a model to follow. It's not a model of containment, it's a model of redirection, and my hat's off to you.

Majorly impressed. :-)

31 January, 2009 18:14  

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