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Time for the awakening...

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July 15, 2012


A lot of my posts relate to cannabis/marijuana/marihuana/pot/weed/ganja/hemp/dope and personal freedom, the problem with the "War on Drugs", it's harm to society, and stopping the hurt (the) war is causing.

Why? I mean why don't I simply accept that marijuana, i.e. "drugs" are bad, and that all measures should be taken to eradicate them from society? Isn't that what a good American should believe? Are we not to feel that drugs are a blight on society? That cannabis/marijuana is a big part of that blight? Well, yeah, that's what "they" want me to believe, but I don't. I feel the blight on society are current laws and the War on Drugs. It's hurting people, millions of people around the world. We can stop that hurt; but not without a serious reassessment of what we as a society allow, but what we don't allow, also.

Lately, I've read a lot of articles relating to the murder of children, or in many cases, teens and young adults. They're called Honor Killings, but where's the honor in murdering your child/children? Where's the honor in believing you the parent know what's best for your child, however old they are, if it involves a sense of control over them, so strong, that if they don't grow up and conform, you'd murder them?

There's a popular belief that those who are involved in honor killings are Muslim. I think in general this is true, that it tends to be, statistically, a Muslim issue. But looking deeper, honor killings take place among all religions, among all parts of society. They don't always result in physical death, but rather, many honor killings attack the child's mind, self-esteem, sense of self...

When I was a child, I had a "crazy aunt", Gertrude. She lived in a small house in my town and occasionally was a part of family gatherings. Also on occasion I would go with my mother to visit her. I remember her as a nice person, not crazy, but I never thought to find out more about her - I was too young. She'd spent time in an insane asylum, and I took my family's word for, she's insane.

Years later, many years later, after my own failed attempts to establish my own independence from my family and what was expected of me, I heard the story about how against the wishes of the family, my Aunt Gertrude had moved to NYC as a young adult with "fantasy ideas of becoming an actress. She'd failed, and came home completely insane." That was the story. And it made sense suddenly to me. It wasn't that she was "insane", it was that her spirit had been broken, her self-esteem destroyed, because she defied the family expectations.

How do I know this? I suffered the same humiliation and character assassination when at age 20 I got a job as a custodian at the local community college. When I began to have sex outside of marriage. When I grew my hair long and stopped going to church. I actually refused to become a member of our church. And I remember actually being scared of my decision. The repercussions.

I spent 4 very successful years at the community college as a custodian, what my mother referred to as "a toilet bowl cleaner", though it was a whole lot better than that. I got free tuition, made many friends, got involved with really nice women and learned a lot. I broke free of the year's of bullying as a child by my peers, and gained a good amount of self-confidence. By age 24 I was ready to move West and live my adult life - except for one event that would change me forever.

The night before I was to leave for Arizona where I had a woman-friend willing to let me live while I could get settled, I called my parents to say good-bye. To be honest, I didn't want to... I got along very well with my father, but it was my mother I feared. Four years I had already endured phone calls every other night "checking on me". I'd endured family visits at my parent's home with my other siblings, or full family picnics, only to be scorned by my mother for my long hair and "lack of pride", doing what I did for work, and my free-natured hippie beliefs. My own father warned me that the "town wasn't big enough for me to live there..." it was he, my father, who suggested I move away.

That night on the phone with my mother, it came down to "who was I going to be staying with?" Well, it was a woman, a friend, but I couldn't admit that to my mother. Why? Well I tried to avert the question but ultimately admitted a woman-friend was going to let me stay with her. The result? My own mother cursed me to hell and damnation and hoped I would never find happiness, as my act was so evil and immoral I didn't deserve to succeed in life.

I was more than stunned. In an instant, every fiber of my self, my self-esteem and my self worth evaporated. I felt like a 7 year old child again. I felt deep shame and guilt. I moved to Arizona, but severely depressed, and moved back home a month later, conceding defeat. My mother took it as a success... on her part, that I had failed, as i should have failed, being the sinner I was.

The long term effects of what happened to me has a label, a psychological definition, called PTSD - post traumatic stress syndrome. But the truth of the matter is simply, I died. Spiritually, I passed on... whatever self-esteem I'd gained, whatever success relating with others, whatever friends I'd made and good experiences I'd had, died. It was made much worse from the fact i had moved back home at age 25. There was absolutely no expectation that prior to moving to Arizona that such a thing would have happened.

Yes, I was ashamed... but not because I had brought my fate upon myself living a life in defiance of that expected by my family, but because they had succeeded in defeating me as a person.

The life of my Aunt Gertrude suddenly became apparent to me years later, in my late 40's, while I struggled to communicate with my mother on yet never-ending arguments regarding life and moral responsibility. It became clear to me that my family defeated my Aunt Gertrude, that she had phoned home and that was her undoing, or that prior to when she left for the Big Apple, she had endured similar humiliation. I suddenly wished my Aunt were still alive, and felt sorrow for what she must have endured as an adult with different ideas about what life is all about.

In Part two of Honor Killings I will discuss the unfortunate, far more tragic events that lead a parent to murder their own child if they don't conform. It's not something I'm going to enjoy, but rather, something that makes me ill thinking about the abuse, and death of a child because they don't abide by the traditions of family. That we should be born, only to fulfill a set of expectations demanded of us by family tradition is unacceptable. That we become victims of such expectations is more than a tragedy in life, it's a travesty of society that control of others is deemed acceptable, so much so that our own government imprisons and subjects people to laws that are no more than efforts at moral and traditional conformity.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the deeply personal information about your family struggles Bob. I can't imagine having to go through something like that.

    It certainly does offer context to Aunt Gertrude though.