Gratitude & “Touching Hunger”

 

Today is Thanksgiving in the year 2022. I am grateful beyond words to tell you – if you’ll forgive this moment of self-absorption on my part – I’ve published a paperback book on Amazon called, “Touching Hunger.”

The book’s a collection of some of the short stories and poems written over the years. The earliest piece is a poem, In All Times. I wrote it when I was 15, right after my father died August 16, 1969, sitting on his bed as I wrote.

Both stories and poems carry the patina of character-study in their tapestries.

Many of you have been reading this blog over the years. Knowing you’re there makes my life a better place to be.

As we move into this New Year, be kind to each other, please. I’ve never heard a single soul complain there is too much kindness.

Make Lethal Cruelty a Criminal Act

If willful acts of lethal cruelty resulted in criminal charges, Alex Jones would be serving life with no possibility of parole. Not ever. Lethal cruelty, as evidenced by Jones’ lethal propaganda aimed directly at those who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Allegiance to honesty compels me to confess that if I were to allow my emotional and physical experience of Jones to handpick the jury, my response would be written by some form of violence, and I have had enough enough enough of violence. Jones he has no conscience. He does not care that his behavior is lethal on every front. Period.

It is hard but not impossible for me to live Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s guidance., not so much live up to that, as live that.

King said: “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

For me this means, identify a choice that is just, and one that is not dehumanizing. Then, live it. Live the choice made.

One of the gifts life has given me is meeting and learning and knowing victims of violent crime. All forms of violence.  Loved ones of adults and children who’d been murdered.

There’s no bigotry in violence’s bloodstream.   

In late 1984, early 1985, I was attending a community meeting with actress Theresa Saldana, founder of Victims for Victims in California in 1982, at a college in New York City, allowed me one of the most powerfully intimate moment of my life. Theresa survived a knife attack by a stalker. She sustained several stab wounds. To say she barely survived is to engage in the act of understatement, and do so center stage.

If willful acts of cruelty (cruelty being a form of violence) resulted in criminal charges, Alec Jones would be serving life with no possibility of parole. Not ever. 

If I were to allow my visceral emotional and physical experience of Alec Jones to handpick the jury willful cruelty – he has no conscience. He does not care that his behavior is lethal on every front. Period. It is I tell you now hard for me to live Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s guidance.  

King said: “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

It is hard for me to, not so much live up to that, as live that. Meaning, identify a choice that is just and not dehumanizing. Then, live it out. Live the choice you’ve made.

One of the gifts life has given me is meeting and learning and knowing victims of violent crime. All forms of violence.  Loved ones of adults and children who’d been murdered. There’s no bigotry in violence’s bloodstream.

In late 1984, early 1985, I was attending a community meeting with actress Theresa Saldana, founder of Victims for Victims in California in 1982, at a college in New York City, allowed me one of the most powerfully intimate moment of my life. Theresa survived a knife attack by a stalker. She sustained several stab wounds. To say she barely survived is to engage in the act of understatement, and do so center stage.

The meeting was not long after the airing of the movie, “Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story” in which Theresa played herself.  It aired on NBC, Monday, November 12, 1984. spoke and at some point, we went around the room to introduce ourselves. It was up to us if we wanted to share why we were there. 

For me, being in a room with adults of all ages, individuals who each who knew trauma in merciless form was, for me, to be with people whose presence  in this country’s history I treasure. Beyond words. 

When Theresa spoke a moment arrived when she invited those in the room to introduce themselves if they’d like and if they were a crime victim or a loved one of a crime victim, you’re more than welcome to share, but you don’t have too.

Most gave their first name and most were very open about what brought them there.  Survivors of rape, assaults, muggings, stabbing, survivors of adults and children who’ve been murdered. 

When it came to the row I was in, I was sitting just to the right of a woman I’d guess was in her forties. She spoke first. She stood up, gave her first name, and said, “My son was shot and killed in a hold up this year.” Then I stood up and said, “I was held up and shot in the head this year.”

We looked at each other and hugged. No words were needed.  As I remember it, I think everyone in the room would have hugged us both at that moment. They all got it.

Which brings me back to a lethal being named Alec Jones.  Think about something for a moment. The families of the children and adults slaughtered in Sandy Hook are just like the folks I just told you about. Those who lived through the trauma. Not those, like Jones, who live off the trauma.

I wish there was a way to criminally charge Jones and those like him. Their propaganda is cruel; cruel is violence, and a threat to life in so many ways. I choose not to hate him. And, hate the behavior, not the person.  But establish a law that allows someone to be criminally charged for abetting and promoting, you name it, acts of deadly violence and hate. It if his were a medicinal poison, a deadly product he handed out, sold, he’d be arrested and charged in the blink of an eye.

Give him his room and board and no freedom for the rest of his life. Period. Take anything about him that’s of financial value, and allow its fate to be decided by the families of the children and adults that died or survived the merciless explosion of gun violence at Sandy Hook, in real time. Let them decide what happens to it.

That would be an act of justice.

Childhood Honesty Meets Labor Day

When you’re a little kid, at least when I was, your experience of the world around you was, unbeknownst to you, driven at times by mixture of fact and ignorance, served on a plate of absolute honesty. When I was wrong about something I was capable of being wrong on a massive scale. Having arrived at these moments honestly, they’re all okay with me 

Example. My friends and I called each other douchebag way before I had any idea what a douchebag was. When I found out, I was mortified!

Which brings me to today’s holiday, Labor Day. When I was a kid, I was aware of no reason to alter my view that labor day was the day all mother’s tried to have their children. It was their goal. Made all the sense in the world to me.

So, here’s to childhood, and here’s to labor day!

Relationships & Acceptance

For any relationship of any kind to be healthy and flourish, you have to be able to be yourself – safely – with the other person. This means, acceptance. Accepting someone for who they are is as loving (and reassuring) as it gets.

Yes, there us compromise in any relationship. One likes Crest, the other, Colgate. Fine. Get both. One likes the toilet paper coming over the top of the roll, the other from underneath the roll. Fine, whoever puts the toilet paper on the roller puts it the way they like it.

Giving up parts of who you are is another story altogether. If someone asked me to stop reading, or, “For the love of God, Peter, spare us all and please stop writing!” Well, that’s not going to happen.

Remember, you love someone because they are who they are. 

And yes, there are difficult and dangerous realities some must content with.If someone is an active alcoholic or addict (I repeat myself), accepting the presence of that reality does not mean you support its presence. It does mean you can say, if you are not going to take care of you, then I need to disengage from you, as long as that destruction is present. Though it may be hard to see and digest at the time, it is the most loving choice. 

Taking care of yourself is not an act of disloyalty to anyone else.

Dusty stones: Notes on my mother’s suicide

30 Years Ago Today.

Peter S. Kahrmann - Est. 1953

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On this day my mother ended her life in 1992.

What do I say? I watch the words hit the page this morning and I know if I charted the distance between them and the pulverizing impact of her suicide it would take more than a millennium to cross the divide.

The facts of it all sit like dusty stones – cold, and hauntingly still. It was the second time in the span of a year that she talked of ending her life. We had intervened the first time, and, for the moment, succeeded, at what I wonder. It only delayed the inevitable and in the days after her death, I would learn from her oldest friends that she had been talking about suicide since I was a boy. What had it been like for my father? I can’t imagine.

She called me Sunday August 9 to…

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