Justice: a Letter

I’ve had yet another lousy day, but right now I feel okay. When is this summer ever going to end? I was worried that my sobriety was compromised by my addiction to gabapentin, so I emailed Pastor this afternoon about it. He called an AA leader he knows who says that gabapentin is fine as long as I don’t take more than is prescribed. Pastor called me and let me know. This made me feel a lot better. Isn’t this summer the pits? What more could go wrong? The worst part of it is the fact that we’re all impotent to do anything— except pray, as if that were any consolation. That’s about as useless as our vote. Not even the weather cooperates with the people’s interest. What’s the most responsible thing you and I can do? We want to stand on a mountaintop and scream for justice, but the best we can do is lie down in the middle of the street in protest for Black Lives Matter. It isn’t as though what is right and wrong were not obvious to everyone. We all feel it in our hearts. But for some reason, injustice tyrannizes over the whole world. Why??? Perhaps life would be too easy if justice were simply handed to us on a silver platter. Maybe the pits of life make the occasional triumphs of justice that much sweeter. The best thing I can do, however small it seems, is to stay sober and take the blows on the chin every worthless day.

A Regret

One twenty. The clouds are burning off. Sometimes it feels like nothing is going right. I know that’s too extreme. At least something must be going right. In fact it’s only one or two things I don’t like, and these color everything else dark. If I could drink without consequences then I’d be tempted. But I can’t even do caffeine. A tiny bit of chocolate, maybe. I had some thoughts about good and evil this morning, from a religious point of view. The devil exists only as a social taboo, not as a real being. Evil thoughts and deeds come from a deeper place in the brain, a place we mostly shun. I wonder why my supervisor’s job ended? One participant of the agency looked at him and proclaimed, “I don’t like you, you’re the devil!” He in turn judged her to me for having drugged her way into schizophrenia. He was being absurd because he used to be a meth addict. He was the most addle witted person I ever knew. The guy was actually pitiful for being so insecure and cowardly. He never learned how to think, or maybe lost the ability… We had an occupational Black Friday at the end of June or July 2008, so that’s why I remember my boss right now. It was every man for himself, with a lot of treachery. I was ashamed especially of the street hires who made trouble for the participants. I worked with the lowest of the low. There was one participant I should have defended before she lost her job. I should’ve gone to the CEO and told her exactly what had happened, but I didn’t have the balls. Mary Alice seemed like such an ogre to me instead of a human being. I lacked the self respect to go and face her. I was just a peon in the scheme of things. But the one who should’ve lost his job a long time ago was my supervisor…

A Complete Jerk

Ten o’clock. I feel tired from the heat. I know so many people whose minds are on autopilot, who couldn’t think about anything originally. But to do so, first your perceptions have to be clear and accurate. I don’t know what accounts for seeing things justly. It’s sort of like your response to meeting a starving person. If you have the means, do you feed him or do you watch him die of hunger? My brother is callous enough to do the latter. It arises from a warped sense of what is right. His standpoint is one of resentment and jealousy toward those who get something he doesn’t. His personal feelings get in the way. This is not rational or even reasonable. In the profoundest way, it is dishonest. It is illiberal, which is another way of saying merciless. It’s the opposite of generous: stingy, niggardly. I was with him once at McDonald’s when he deliberately saw to it that a woman and her “service dog” were kicked out of the restaurant. He said it was the law— but whose law was he upholding? Ultimately it was his wounded sense of fairness to himself. The poor woman had already paid for her meal. My brother is a complete jerk.

The Sinister

Quarter of four. I’ve just been dreaming about things that happened a year ago; about Bonnie and Stephanie, and Tina and Kelly; Lola and Channing and Jonah. It was indeed like a dream to have spent so many hours at the old S— H— Hospital. The taxi rides made it seem like I was never there under my own power. Just hop in and hop out and sit down for group eight or nine miles away from home. What a jerk I must have appeared to Bonnie, always asking questions that could collapse her house of cards. Underneath the guise of superiority, the staff of P—Health was human and fallible. But I couldn’t rid myself of the impression of bureaucracy gone wrong, like the Third Reich or something. All those blue bicycle rentals placed throughout the city. The long arm of the bureau. Of filthy rich businesspeople. If it hadn’t been scary, it would’ve been absurd. Everyone working there was snooty and complacent. The attitude spoke, We are the best. We have the best of everything. Who could ask for more? Like Nazi nationalism: the best women, the best beer, the best music, the best mythology, are all right here. Look no further. P—Health was a microcosm of an eternal verity: that pride en masse leads to world catastrophe.

Courage

Nine thirty. I dreamed that, at the end of the pleasure cruise, I was going to be executed. And in reality, the trailer will be picked up Monday. This puts pressure on me and also on the contractors… I just realized that the thought that makes me weak is that of Polly. I deplore her racism and always will. When I say I dislike Jung, preferring instead the grace of Emerson, I really mean it. By giving Jung another chance, I made a concession to Polly for a while. But now I reject them both on the grounds of indefensible bigotry. I am strong enough to stand without family support. I’ve been doing it for over two years already. I’ve seen firsthand the damage that Jung’s theories can cause socially. Whether the contents of the collective unconscious are the same for a person of color as for a white person is a stupid immaterial question. Jung’s theory of what causes people to be gay has been formally thrown out for reasons of discrimination. Too much of his psychology presupposes the white maleness of his clients. His ethnocentrism is an embarrassment, and belongs left behind in a museum. Meanwhile, my family will probably never be raised in consciousness, which is a sad thing. I just have to do what is right, not only for me, but for the world. Raising consciousness, in the end, is a matter of courage.

We Shall See

Quarter after four. I made a run for Milk-Bones and Coca-Cola. I’ll just play it by ear with the family. I think they will keep being brazen about bigotry, and eventually it will blow up in our faces. At first I won’t say anything. But I know it will get to a point where it’s unforgivable. How much am I asked to forgive? Is racism tolerable or not, if it’s in your own family? The answer ought to be simple, but isn’t. My relatives are my blood, and we go back a very long way. But learning is learning, and can’t be reversed. Some people don’t even want to learn. The world is a big place full of information, full of joy and pleasure, happiness to spread around. I don’t understand why some people want to obstruct the greatest happiness for the greatest number. I don’t get it and I never will. Life can hit me with the worst disasters it wants, but nothing could make me change my mind on the injustice of racism. The world has advanced and left my family behind. And the more it does, the more mulish and stubborn they get about their hate. It seems an impossible predicament. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s probably predictable.

Prosody / Cold Snap

I wrote a good poem about war and posted it. It came from reading Melville’s poetry. What you feed your mind determines what comes out. And in the creative process, it always comes out transformed. It was a bit of a struggle to compose, yet still didn’t take very long. It’s short. Blank verse— my favorite. It’s the easiest to work with without going totally free verse. The latter to me is flimsy because lacking in rhythm. The meter is more important than rhymes. It gives the poem motion and a skeleton to move with. This is music; the percussion line of any rock and roll song…

Cold as Antarctica this morning, or might as well be in the trailer. From the store: everything, but Dog Chow without fail. Call to schedule a ride to my appointment for tomorrow ASAP. I also will call Beth for updates on the house. It couldn’t get done by Halloween. I should call Brandie too. My feet feel frostbitten. Only 29 degrees outside. The cold makes sleeping difficult. The next couple of mornings are predicted to be worse. It’s ridiculous how I’m being treated by my insurance company and the contractors. It’s been the ultimate test of patience since the fire in March. Why don’t they put in the fucking carpets and finish the interior? We’re going to freeze to death out here!

Then and Now

It pains me to recall the shape I was in three years ago, particularly the times I was taken to the hospital. But I remember it for contrast to now, when life is much better. Nor was my condition my fault; not a moral failing. I remember how mean the emergency room staff was towards drunk people— and not just me. I saw them humiliate another man once. Their eyes gleamed with sadistic pleasure, which I thought was sick and inhumane. I was never a fan of P—Health. I spent too long in their behavioral health program last year. They took pride in their care, but it was excessive. And they were judgmental about hygiene. I despised my occupational therapist for that reason. I gave her a hard time for it, too. It was an ordeal throughout, but Laurel Hill makes up for it. Way more experienced with the mentally ill, and more patient. I’d been the only schizophrenic person in P—Health. They really didn’t know how to treat me, and that was discouraging. But there are lots of us at Laurel Hill…

The sun has risen, lighting a clear blue sky. It didn’t quite freeze. My fortunes should be sunny too. I anticipate choir practice today. We may have three male voices, plus Pastor will want to play his guitar. Life is good.

Abolition

Sensuality and indolence are the culprits in Emerson’s early writing. He considered three careers, one being minister. He admits to lacking system and detail in his thinking. He is less philosopher in the Western way than Sophist, a rhetorician— and he knows it. In some ways E is proud, yet humble and realistic regarding his shortcomings. He wants to preach at people, yet recognizes his own frailty. All this at age twenty one, in 1824. He tends toward abstract imagination, toward generalizations, and away from logic and method. But he’s great at what he does. When he’s on fire, his rhetoric soars with the best poetry. He would’ve been a good preacher, but he didn’t subscribe wholeheartedly to the teachings of the Church. In this he was honest with himself and others. So, he broke away and plowed his own road, independent and original. He became the key voice for the movement called Transcendentalism in 19th Century America. He sought conferences with Abraham Lincoln and twisted his arm about abolition. Slavery was an absolute and repugnant atrocity. There was no excuse for it. On other occasions, Lincoln, after hearing Emerson speak publicly, admitted to not understanding a word. But something at least might have sunk in. And as I write, I recognize in the story hints of what passed between me and my ethnocentric family. They never had an excuse either, but I think it would take an act of God to change their minds. Therefore, like Emerson I keep hoeing my row to the unknown…

Harmony House

Quarter of three. Had a long series of Tolkien dreams. I’d forgotten until a text message yesterday that I have an appointment Wednesday with Todd. Then I left a voice mail for Heidi asking if she could fit me in the same day. But I know she’s been overworked since they lost a case manager. People like her, too, for the same reasons I do. She has a big compassionate heart. She believes in getting clients into the system who need it, though they may feel too proud to take assistance. Heidi doesn’t begrudge people being on benefits, whereas I’ve met a lot of workers in her field that do. Alf believed it was a miscarriage of justice when those who worked never received Social Security while the disabled on SSI could benefit. But then, she hated Mexican people too, and anyone who got what she couldn’t. Alf was a redneck. I fell into her crowd by mistake after Mom passed away and my sister took over my life. I did a lot of inauthentic things to please the conservatives I knew, and they were everywhere. I learned how I really feel when Harmony House was closed and all those participants were turned away and steered into working for the agency or doing educational activities. I remember how Harmony House used to be crammed with people being sociable and having a great time. By closing the program, the agency sent them the message that they were being bums. I was employed in optical when the closure occurred. The rumor that spread said it was done for insufficient funding. Later I emailed with the director of SAFE who stated that the agency CEO just closed Harmony House sort of on a whim. A lot of participants who used to go to HH now went to SAFE for socialization. Only two years later I left my job because I was hopelessly addicted to alcohol and because I hated what I was doing and my conservative coworkers. They replaced me with a Christian rightist who fit with their agenda better.