Graph found at Huffingtonpost.com
We tend — especially as women, and especially as “good” liberals, and especially as magic workers who’ve been socialized to “reach for the light,” — to do all that we can to deny anger. But as David Whyte explains, if we didn’t love, we’d never need to get angry. Sometimes, anger is the only possible, honest response.
at its heart, is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.
What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability; anger too often finds its voice strangely, through our incoherence and through our inability to speak, but anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics: a daughter, a house, a family, an enterprise, a land or a colleague. Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body in its love for all these outer things – we are often abused or have been abused by those who love us but have no vehicle to carry its understanding, who have no outer emblems of their inner care or even their own wanting to be wanted. Lacking any outer vehicle for the expression of this inner rawness they are simply overwhelmed by the elemental nature of love’s vulnerability. In their helplessness they turn their violence on the very people who are the outer representation of this inner lack of control.
But anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here, it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it. What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete and absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence.
What makes you angry?
[W]hen the pro-choice community [adopts the anti-choice's notion that the decision to abort is fraught and] frames abortion as a difficult decision, it implies that women need help deciding, which opens the door to paternalistic and demeaning “informed consent” laws. It also stigmatizes abortion and the women who need it.
Often, abortion isn’t a difficult decision. In my case, it sure wasn’t. When I was 18, my boyfriend, whom I was with for more than a year, frequently pressured me into having sex. At the time, I lacked the maturity and experience to exert more control over the situation. For more than 10 weeks, I progressed from obliviousness about my pregnancy[,] to denial[,] to wishful thinking: Maybe if I ignore that I missed two periods, that pesky little fact will go away. Once I faced reality, though, having an abortion was an obvious decision, not a difficult one. The question wasn’t “Should I or shouldn’t I?” but “How quickly can I get this over with?”
This was in the mid-1980s, when abortion was about women having control not just over their bodies but over their destinies. An unwanted pregnancy would have derailed my future, making it difficult for me to finish college and have the independent, productive life that I’d envisioned.
For many, the same ramifications hold true today. A Census Bureau study released in July found that women who have their first child out of wedlock get less education and are more likely to be unemployed and single — even many years later — compared with other women.
Today, when advocates on both sides of the debate talk about the decision to have an abortion, they preface their statements with adjectives such as “difficult,” “hard” or “reluctant.” For anti-abortion conservatives, the reason for using such language is clear: Abortion is murder, they contend, but characterizing a woman who has one as a murderer is a bit, well, harsh. A more charitable view is to assume that she must have struggled with making this immoral choice. Pro-choice advocates use the “difficult decision” formulation for a similar reason, so as not to demonize women, [even though demonizing them buys into the notion that abortion is wrong and that women who get an abortion are doing something wrong.] It also permits pro-choice candidates to look less dogmatic, [something about which the criminalization crowd never worries].
But there’s a more pernicious result when pro-choice advocates use such language: [that language] is a tacit acknowledgment that terminating a pregnancy is a moral issue[,] requiring an ethical debate. To say that deciding to have an abortion is a “hard choice” implies a debate about whether the fetus should live, thereby endowing it with a status of being. It puts the focus on the fetus rather than the woman.
As a result, the question “What kind of future would the woman have as a result of an unwanted pregnancy?” gets sacrificed. By implying that terminating a pregnancy is a moral issue, pro-choice advocates forfeit control of the discussion to anti-choice conservatives.
Ms. Harris is right. We need to stop adopting the other side’s framing when we discuss abortion.
Genuflecting to the notion that abortion is a “difficult decision” just buys into framing that makes it easier for politicians to restrict abortion. After all, if it’s such a “difficult decision,” maybe it’s ok to make women wait 24, 48, 72 hours; to make them get their partner’s permission; to force them to undergo ultrasounds and to look at the pictures; to make them travel out of state; to make them walk through a crowd of screaming protestors holding pictures of bloody fetuses, etc., etc., etc.
Yet, I’ve heard even people who consider themselves feminists insist, when discussing abortion that, “There’s always a cost.”
Sure, there’s a cost: your insurance deductible, if you have insurance, or the entire cost if you don’t. And maybe a day off work: that’s a cost. Some discomfort, just like when you have a mole removed or have a molar extracted.
But beyond that, let’s quit insisting that, at least for many, many women, there’s some other, deeper, scarier “cost.” Because it’s, you know, a “difficult” decision. Costly. Fraught. One that maybe if she were stronger or less selfish, she wouldn’t have made.
You know what? I’ve had breast cancer. Lots of women who get breast cancer have to make a decision about whether or not to have a mastectomy. Lop off a breast. Then decide whether to try and rebuild it or to go through life with only one breast. To wear bras with pads or to skip it and figure that your interview suits won’t fit and your bathing suits will make everyone else uncomfortable. Decide now whether your husband/future partners will be more put off by a reconstructed breast or the complete lack of one. Guess now how you’ll feel looking in the mirror decades from now.
I had to decide whether or not to undergo chemotherapy and lose my hair. Turban, wig, or baseball cap? (Given my job, there was only one choice. I still remember having to explain to the nice lady from the American Cancer Society that, no, my job wouldn’t adapt to me wearing a turban or baseball cap to work.)
But you don’t see mastectomy or chemotherapy continually described as “difficult decisions,” as decisions that come with “a cost.” Which is why women get to make those decisions without waiting periods and without walking through crowds of spittle-flecked yahoos. You consult with your doctor, do some research, and then you go ahead and do what needs to be done.
Of course, in the small percentage of cases where the pregnancy was planned and desired and it turns out that an abortion is necessary, the woman may feel quite a bit of grief at the loss of a wanted potential child. But that’s due to whatever underlying condition required the abortion, not the abortion. If you’d always wanted to be a dancer and you had to have pins put in your broken ankle, you might be sad at the loss of your dancing career, but the decision to fix your broken ankle wouldn’t be described as “difficult,” nor will your regrets be due to the pins that allow you to walk today.
Oddly, we don’t feel the need to insist that men who decide to take Viagra pay some amorphous “cost” or have made some incredibly “difficult decision,” even though there are rather serious side effects, not least of which is the need to take a pill before having sex. Surgery for prostate cancer can sometimes cause men to become impotent, but no one prefaces every discussion of such surgery by calling it “difficult.”
Some women may feel ambivalent. Perhaps if their situation were different, they might want to complete the pregnancy. Again, that’s true of dozens of medical procedures that we don’t feel obliged to insist are “difficult decisions,” that “come with a cost.” In other situations, some people would prefer not to have bariatric surgery that will limit what they can eat and drink for the rest of their lives; not to have to take medication with long-term side effects; not to have to spend, for years, an hour every week with a psychiatrist; not to have to undergo weeks of physical therapy to recover from a hip replacement, and so on and so on. But we don’t feel a need to say, every time that we discuss bariatric surgery, or medication, or mental health, or physical therapy that the those decisions are “always difficult decisions.”
As Ms. Harris concludes:
Getting an abortion is not something any woman wants to go through. An unplanned pregnancy is highly stressful [just like extracting a molar or taking drugs with side effects], and for many it is humiliating evidence of a failure in judgment. Getting an abortion is expensive — not as costly as carrying a baby to term or raising a child, but expensive enough that half of all patients need help paying for it. And in many places, getting a safe and legal abortion can be more difficult because of parental-consent laws, distance to an abortion provider[,] or a gantlet of hostile protesters outside the clinic doors. Of all these difficulties, deciding whether to get an abortion is often the least of them. The situation may be difficult, but the decision is usually straightforward.
Picture found here.
So this is meant to be funny, but you’d be hard-pressed, I think, to find a Witch who hasn’t seen magic work in this round-about way.
Picture found (and available for sale) here.
And it really is that gorgeous. But I broke off from the tour and found the Goddess at Falling Water. Here’s my picture of her:
(Picture by the blogger; if you copy, please link back).
I sat on a nearby boulder, put my hands on ancient stone, gulped the incense of a benificent pine, slipped into a light trance, and had a wonderful time with Her and the spirits of that place.
May it be so for you.