Thursday, December 20, 2012

In the Aftermath of Tragedy


I sit at Talula’s Table, Christmas music straight from the 1950’s plays over the speakers, and little potted Christmas tress festooned with cotton snow and white knitted scarves line the old storefront window. A woman at another table jumps up blurting out that twenty-seven people—children—have died in a shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Fifteen more are injured. There is a cognitive disconnect between my tea and granola bar and this horrific story. I hear O Holy Night now on the sound system. Where is this new and glorious morn? Perhaps we are not falling on our knees enough or hearing the angel’s voices. Peace on earth is up to us. We can say this was an isolated shooter. Yet again another mad man not like us. We have nothing to do with this, we say. And granted there is individual responsibility in all our actions. Yet there is also a collective responsibility. What is happening on the societal level that precipitates this kind of violence?

We live in a bully universe. US drones kill indiscriminately in foreign lands. Corporations get away with greedy maneuvers that can be slowly murderous. So where is the surprise that a disgruntled individual bully carries out what the collective already has done again and again?

My diatribe will do absolutely nothing to assuage the keening and the mourning of the families in Connecticut who have been so traumatized in this tragedy.


I sit again at Talula’s Table wishing Joni Mitchell were singing over the sound system her Christmas lament, because I too wish I had a river to skate away on.

The last time I sat here was Friday, December 14. The day of the massacre of innocents in Connecticut. Since then there have been numerous incidents of gun violence and children dying, although more anonymously and with no media outcry.

However, perhaps this tragedy that occurred in the midst of Christmas in an upper class quintessential New England town may be the tipping point for a change in consciousness about the pervasiveness of guns in our culture. Maybe now there will be a great turning—away from violence and truly in to a more compassionate collective consciousness.

When I manage to give meaning to the absurdity of life, it helps me not want to skate away on Joni’s river.

I also wonder if these tragedies caused most often by disenfranchised males (usually white) are not signs of the wounded feminine rising. I wonder if with the slow turning of consciousness toward a more compassionate and connected universe that honors the feminine principle that these men are raising the collective patriarchal shadow that resents this and rages against the change.

I reiterate, my philosophical musings do nothing to assuage the keening and the mourning of the survivors of the victims. Nevertheless finding meaning in tragedy is one way of reinvesting in life.

How is it that a young man uses his mother’s guns to start his murderous rampage by killing her? What is this rage against the feminine? If he projected the negative mother archetype onto his own blood, he also projected it onto the women educators who died courageously attempting to protect the children in their care. They, to me, attest to the wounded feminine principle rising even in their dying.

What is the negativity and rage we collectively carry that produces an individual who murders innocent children who represent the future and who murders the women who represent the feminine principle in their stolid compassion?

Here it is, Christmas. Whether you believe in Christ or not, the story of Herod killing the innocents in order to kill Christ can be a telling allegory of our time.

Even if we only imagine Christ as symbolic of love and compassion, we can see in him the integration of the masculine with the feminine principle. Now imagine Herod as the epitome of patriarchal power and domination, the antithesis of feminine principle. So it is that Herod feels threatened by the quiet power of loving kindness and compassion and attempts to kill Christ in a murderous rage, killing all innocent children.

I have no desire to give any specific contemporary murderer the power of meaning or motive. Yet I can’t help but ponder what we need to transform in our collective consciousness to allow the feminine principle to be no longer so wounded. We need a change of heart to embrace the feminine principle of connection and compassion. In the aftermath of tragedy, we see the feminine principle manifested in all sorts of loving acts of kindness. We hear the stories of the  acts of courage displayed by the educators, all women , who attempted to protect the children in their care.We see a nation of people connected in their heartfelt response to this tragedy..

."The beauty that will save the world is the love that shares the pain" (Cardinal Montini). May we continue to uphold the wounded feminine rising transforming grief and mourning with such care.

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